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To break the broken

Chapter Text

Marcus groaned. He twisted his body from where he slept, which he assumed was the cold, hard surface of some floor. Where the floor belonged was a mystery, and would remain a mystery for a while longer, for Marcus could not muster up the strength to lift his heavy eyelids.

He could hear the distant sound of someone tapping on a keyboard. In addition, he could also hear the not so very distant sound of someone tapping on a keyboard. Someone was there with him, wherever he was.

Marcus groaned again, and finally he opened his eyes. He relaxed a little, even with the hot pain in his neck, flaring down his spine from the hard and awkward place he’d been sleeping, when he saw the familiar artwork of the hackerspace. At least I made it somewhere safe, even in my drunken state, Marcus thought.

“Mornin’ sleepin’ beauty,” said a voice next to him.

Marcus turned his head to his left and met the familiar gaze of Raymond Kenney, who was happily tapping away on some laptop. He was sitting close, too close for Marcus’ comfort. It was then he realized that Marcus had not been sleeping on the concrete floor of the hacker space, but, in fact, on the long table situated in the middle of the room. Ray sat on a chair right next to his face.

“Man, what time is it?” asked Marcus. He rubbed his eyes to get rid of some debris. “And where’s everyone at, man?”

“It’s 2.30 PM. You and Josh were the only two who came back last night.”

Marcus finally sat up, raising his hands above his head and arching his back in a well-deserved stretch.  He held that position until a series of loud cracks echoed through the hackerspace, before he slumped his stiff shoulders again.

“If Josh made it back, then where is he?”

“I’m here,” came Josh’s reply almost immediately.

Marcus turned his head towards the sound of Josh’s flat voice, and surely, there sat Josh on his usual spot by his computer, also happily tapping away on the keyboard. Marcus inwardly face palmed. He should have known that Josh would be there without even asking, but to his defense, he was hungover as fuck. He swayed his way over to the hunched over hacker.

“What happened last night, man? Any clues on where the others might be?” Marcus wondered.

“Sitara ran off with some dude, she’ll probably be back soon. I don’t really know what happened to Wrench, though. He got real drunk real fast and talked about fucking some shit up before he ran off, probably to his garage. You tried to go after him because a wasted Wrench is a dangerous Wrench, but you were wasted too, and could not keep up with him. I don’t know what happened next, I left.”

Marcus nodded, but he could not for the life of Jimmy Siska remember any of the things Josh had just said.  They had arranged a dedsec party to celebrate the down taking of a rival hacker group, HellHackz.  Their soul purpose had been to end dedsec but dedsec didn’t bow down to just anyone. They had stolen some information about the rival group, and found out that it consisted of corrupt FBI agents, whom used dirty and very illegal tricks to reach their goal. Long story short, Sitara made a video about it to the public. They were not pleased to see men of the law breaking what they swore to protect, and to tear down dedsec no less. The public had grown to like dedsec for fighting for their personal rights, and to have corrupt agents to try to take down the vigilantes did not settle well with the public.

“Don’t worry, Marcus,” said Josh. He had turned in his chair to face the darker male. “I’m sure Wrench is fine. Possibly passed out on his workbench in the garage, but fine no less.”

Feeling a loss for words, Marcus could do nothing, but nod again. A knot was forming in his stomach, but he wasn’t sure whether it was from frustration of memory loss, or the concern for a certain self-destructive anarchist. Marcus was shy to admit it, but the feelings he felt for Wrench had drastically grown the last few weeks. He had no idea what to call it; a crush; love; he had no idea. Either way, Marcus enjoyed spending time with the masked anarchist, and if something were to happen to him, Marcus would destroy worlds.

Marcus felt two pats on his shoulders before he heard the rough voice of Ray, “You alright there, son?”

Marcus rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah,” he replied, patting down his pants in search for his phone. “Just looking for my phone, s’all.”

Ray chuckled, finding something about the situation funny. “Phone’s chargin’ on the Wrench bench.”

Upon turning his head towards said bench, Marcus spotted his phone among the tools and technology that scattered the bench.

As Marcus made his way towards the Wrench bench, Ray spoke again, “You’ve got a doughnut stuck on your back, by the way!”

And there was the humor of the situation. Marcus reached behind him and grabbed the doughnut. There was barely any frosting left on the once delicious food. Marcus assumed it was because most of it had melted into his dedsec hoodie. Damn, he’d have to change now, but not before calling his Best friend-crush-thing.

He threw the crippled doughnut onto the table he had used as his bed a half an hour ago and picked up his phone. He unlocked the devise and saw he had one message from Wrench, and one missed phone call. Marcus opened the message first.

 

" 03.34 AM.

  The abandoned building, a few blocks east from the party location. Security camera."

 

Marcus raised an eyebrow, not knowing exactly what to do. He assumed Wrench wanted him to go there and hack into the camera, but he was not sure. Marcus was not stupid. He was not heading there, just like that, without any further information about what the fuck was going on at the given address. That would be like running into a wall at full speed, head first, without wearing a helmet. It was bound to give you a concussion, or at least a terrible headache. Also, knowing Wrench, Marcus was sure he had passed out somewhere, too unconscious to answer a message. Marcus decided to give the anarchist a call instead.

Marcus pressed Wrench’s contact on his phone and was slightly disappointed when he was sent straight to voicemail. Another feeling that had dwelled in his stomach since Josh brought up Wrench stirred to life again. His palm got clammy as he tried to text Wrench, having a terrible feeling about the situation.

Minutes passed without a reply from the engineer, and Marcus could not bear the feeling that grew bigger in his stomach. First, it was concern, a little lump in his stomach that one usually has for a best friend-crush-thing. That lump had grown into a rock, weighing him down, speeding up his heart and making his body hot and damp from sweat. Marcus was straight up worried.

In a hurry, Marcus half jogged his way towards Josh and Ray, who were discussing god know what at Josh’ desk.

“Hey, ya’ll, listen,” Marcus said, almost out of breath from the spent up worry that still grew in the pit of his stomach. He wiped his brow, his hands shaking slightly. He continued when Ray and Josh turned their attention to him. “Wrench texted me last night. It’s an address, sort of. It says there’s an abandoned building a few block east from where we threw the dedsec party?”

“Yes. There was an abandoned apartment building,” Josh confirmed, typing the address on nudle maps. Josh turned the screen for Marcus to see.

“Can you hack into the security cameras there, or do we need to actually be there?” Marcus asked.

“It’s not high security. I can easily hack into the camera from here using the satellites.”

Ray, who had been quiet up until now, averted his eyes from Josh’s screen to look at Marcus. “Wrench told you to check the security feed on some abandoned building?” he asked.

Marcus nodded, at a loss of words. He was too focused on what Josh was doing to even form words at the moment.

“What’s that kid up to now?” muttered Ray, tired of the anarchist’s drunken shenanigans.

“Here we are,” Josh pulled up a video of the security feed.

The security camera seemed to be located in a back alley. Two women smoked a cigarette each as they gossiped away. The numbers on the lower left corner of the security feed said it was from yesterday at around noon.

“Wrench sent the message at around 03.30 Am,” said Marcus, hinting at Josh to speed up the video feed.

Said man did, and moments later the three of them could see a highly intoxicated Wrench, leaning heavily on the wall of the building as he tried to make his way forward. His mask displayed two underscores as he dragged his ass towards his targeted location.

A hooded figure approached Wrench from behind him, emerging from the back of the alley. Marcus watched in horror as the hooded figure summoned a rope and used it to strangle Wrench. He used the roped to drag Wrench backwards by his neck, making him stumble backwards, his body landing hard against the hooded figures’. Wrench tried to pry the rope away from his neck, ‘>.<’ displaying on his mask as he struggled, but two other hooded men came from the dark alley and held his arms.

Wrench was defenseless. Marcus could feel the panic swell up inside him when he saw the man with the rope tighten his grip, successfully choking Wrench even worse. Wrench tried to wiggle his body, flails his arms, but nothing seemed to work. He placed his foot behind the attacker’s ankle, hooking their feet together, before he kicked it forward. The move threw the attacker off balance, and both him and Wrench plummeted to the pavement. The other two who had held Wrench’s arms let go during the fall, and as the attacker processed the impact, Wrench sprung to life.

He took the thunderball and slammed it into the choker’s skull, knocking him out. Next, he spinned it around the man who had held his left arm’s ankle and pulled, making him fall to the ground. The other man who had held his other arm tried to attack. With the thunderball still hooked around the other’s ankle, Wrench pulled out the gun he carried, and shot him in the face, aim perfect even as intoxicated as he was. Wrench unwrapped the thunderball from the ankle, and slammed it in the owner of said ankle’s face twice, successfully knocking him out as well.

He stumbled up on shaky legs, waggling his way towards the alley wall. With his back to the camera, Wrench took off his mask and bent over, emptying his stomach on the pavement by the wall.  After he threw up, Wrench put his mask back on and turned around. He leaned his body against the wall and sunk down to the pavement, mask displaying ‘-.-‘, seemingly exhausted.

Marcus breathed a sigh of relief. He was sure Wrench was done for, but his best friend-crush-thing was more badass than he let on, even in his wasted state. The Anarchist fighting skills impressed him, and looking Ray’s way, it seemed that the older man was impressed too.
However, it seemed Marcus spoke too soon.

Two other hooded figures approached, one to Wrench’s left and the other to Wrench’s right, effectively blocking any escape Wrench had hoped for. He side glanced the two approaching attackers before he stood back on wobbly feet. It seemed like he said something, the leather part of his mask moved, but the lack of sound from the security camera made it impossible to hear.

After Wrench had exchanged his words, which, knowing Wrench, were probably some sassy comment, the attackers brought out their Tasers. The one on Wrench’s right leapt at him, Taser held out to jam the anarchist. Wrench grabbed the attackers arm and pulled out the thunderball, ready to bash his skull to the 12th level of hell.  Wrench stumbled forward at the feeling of hot electricity surging up his spine when the other attacker jammed the Taser into his back. The first attacker caught Wrench in his arm and jammed his own Taser in the anarchist’s stomach. This time it was Wrench’s turn to go unconscious, his lifeless body falling to the pavement. The two attackers pocketed their weapons and dragged Wrench’s unconscious body away.

Chapter Text

Only the soft humming of technology filled the otherwise silent room. The three men stared at the screen where the security feed continued playing. There were people in that alley now, laughing and drinking, oblivious to the fact that someone had been abducted on that very spot. Not just someone, but Wrench of all people.

And the men continued to stand in silence, none knowing what to say, all three fighting a battle in their minds. The silence made the air feel heavy and Marcus’ chest heaved up and down with every shaky breath he took. It was the kind of silence one would find at a funeral, the kind held in one minute for the living to pay their respect for the dead.

“Shit, shit, shit,” Josh started muttering to himself. He covered his ears with his hands as if to keep the heavy funeral-silence away. “Shit, shit, shit,” he repeated over and over again.

Marcus clenched his fist. His stomach was in several knots and Marcus was not sure what feeling he was supposed to feel from them. His face felt hot as sweat moistened his eyebrows. He was both angry and worried, he wanted to kill the motherfuckers who took Wrench and burn their world to the ground, but he also wanted to just go and get Wrench back, to hold him close and never let him out of sight again. He felt guilty for not trying harder to follow him during the dedsec party and he felt something else. Something foreign. It was something akin to trying to climb a steep mountain with an anchor tied to your back. Marcus wanted nothing more than to cut off whatever substance that tied him to the heavy anchor, but the substance was a chain and all he had were his hands.

Marcus slammed his fists on Josh’s desk, making both Ray and Josh jump in their spots. “Fuck!” he yelled. He paced in a circle, clenching and unclenching shaky fists as his heartbeat quickened its beating. “Fuck!”

“Marcus, calm down,” Ray tried to soothe the angry hipster, but Marcus would take none of it.

“Fuck that, man,” he shouted at the old man. “You just saw Wrench being abducted and you want me to calm the fuck down?” Marcus pointed angrily at Ray. “Fuck that!” he repeated and went back to pacing in circles, the soft muttering of Josh still present in the background.

Ray turned his attention back to Josh, trying to soothe the distraught hacker, but Marcus tuned them out. It was the FBI incident all over again, except it was ten times worse. Marcus killed every FBI agent who guarded Wrench’s mask and he would kill every last person who had a role in his abduction. The only problem was Marcus had no idea who was behind his abduction, no less why he was abducted.

“What the fuck is going on here?”

Marcus stopped his pacing, Ray his supporting and Josh his muttering.  The three of them turned towards the stairs where a confused Sitara had just descended, one foot still on the last step.

Marcus wanted to explain, to tell her why everyone was either angry or freaked out, but he found himself unable to form words. “Fuck,” he hissed one last time, turning to Ray and Josh for help. Josh was back muttering to himself, so Ray took it upon himself to try to explain the disastrous scene, but he too found it hard to form words.

He gestured with his hands to make Sitara follow him to Josh’s computer instead, which earned him a neatly raised eyebrow from her. She said nothing, though, and complied with the old man’s wishes.

Marcus made his way back to the computer too and watched as Ray rewound the security feed. He watched again as Wrench supported his wasted body on the alley wall and he got the same feeling of dread when the attackers choked him. Marcus watched as Wrench fought off the three attackers, singlehandedly and drunk, and pride illuminated his anger and worry. He felt the familiar feeling of despair when the two other attackers approached the exhausted anarchist and the feeling of hopelessness when they dragged his unconscious body away from the camera’s view.

Just like the first time the three men had watched the feed, the room was left with the heavy funeral-silence again. Marcus could feel the pull of the metaphoric anchor tied to his back and he had the sudden need to throw up. His stomach stirred and he turned away from the computer, willing his stomach to calm down.

“What the fuck,” said Sitara, her hands gesturing to the computer.

It was as if they all could say nothing but one word or sentence. Sitara’s ‘what the fuck’, Josh’s ‘shit, shit, shit’ and Marcus’s ‘fuck’. Ray was the only one who seemed to be capable to say something else than a word of choosing, but he remained quiet.

“Do you have any clues on where he is? Who took him? Why they took him?” Sitara looked between the three men in the room, expecting an answer, but receiving none.

“Not really,” Ray muttered when his vocal cord finally decided to work. He crossed his arms in front of his chest, head lowered in a thoughtful position. “We could check out the abandoned apartment building where the security camera belongs to.” He suggested.

That peaked Marcus’ interests. His brain had been too busy with the ‘how the fuck’, ‘who the fuck’ and ‘why the fuck’ to actually come up with some decent plan of action.

“Yeah-” he said, his voice shaking. “Yeah, the apartment building is just a few block east from where the dedsec party was.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Sitara said, turning to Josh, who had seemed to calm down, if even just a little. “Josh, you coming?”

Josh stood from his seat immediately after Sitara had asked. “Yes,” he said. He started towards the stairs, only turning when he had reached the bottom. “Let’s corn-hole these motherfuckers.”

 
**********

 

The abandoned apartment building was a dark, sad little thing. Josh was sure that if the building was a person it would suffer from depression, anxiety and alcohol or drug abuse, maybe even both. The windows seemed hollow with nothing but an empty, black flat within, even in daylight. Some of the windows were cracked; some even missed windows. They were just empty holes where the windows were supposed to be.

The first thing that Marcus had said when he stepped out of the stolen vehicle they had used to get there was, “Damn! This some quality horror movie shit, right here. You walk through the door and fuckin’ Anabelle be woppin’ your ass, or some shit.”

Josh could not help but agree.

Marcus then muttered, “Man, Wrench would love this.”

Josh also agreed to that. He had known Wrench for a long time now, and he knew the anarchist’s passion for movies, TV-shows and games. Despite what one might think when they met Wrench, he was a total geek. He also knew that one of the reasons behind his interest for engineering and inventing machines of death was because of the many science fiction movies he had seen.

“Hey, if it makes you feel any better, Wrench had already been here during what could be some action movie scene starring Jimmy Siska” Ray tried to lighten the heavy mood that Marcus’ last comment had brought.

Josh turned to look at the dreadlocked man, his face as empty as ever. Sitara and Marcus followed suit, the three of them stared at Ray as if he had just told them to forget about a lost puppy.

Ray lifted his hands, holding them in the air as he said, “Too soon, I get it.”

That seemed to be enough as the three hackers turned back to the sad building.

“Let’s get searching then,” said Sitara as they approached the apartment building.

“I’ll take the alley,” Marcus said before he headed towards the alley where the abduction took place.

“I’ll take the first floor,” announced Ray, heading into the ‘quality horror movie' building.

“Second floor’s mine,” Sitara followed and headed inside as well.

Josh was never one for words and simply said, “Third.”

Josh, however, never followed the duo into the building, but sat down on the cold pavement on the sidewalk. He took his beloved quadcopter and the laptop, which was the remote that controlled the thing. It would be far easier to scan the third floor with the quadcopter, especially after he and Wrench had upgraded it. Wrench also made the signal area bigger, so the quadcopter could fly even farther from Josh without losing signal with the laptop. Josh asked for the NetHack system upgrade, but the signal area boosting was a birthday present from Wrench. The anarchist could be very annoying at times, but he was a loyal member of dedsec, and a good friend. Josh would be dammed if he let anything happen to him.

He flew the quadcopter through a hollow window and scanned the area. The place was trashed. Beer bottles lay scattered all over the floors along with some cardboard and barrels. Some of the barrels had ashes in them, possibly from the homeless people that probably crashed there. There was also a lot of graffiti on the walls; some was the all too familiar art of dedsec. That brought the tiniest smile on Josh’s lips.

As Josh used NetHack he found particles of clothing, syringes and empty spray cans, nothing worth checking out. The others seemed to be out of luck too, because no one reported anything. He kept searching and searching, from one messed up room to another without any luck.

He rounded the corner to leave what he assumed used to be a bathroom, and entered a seemingly empty room. However, ironically enough, it was in the least interesting room that he found something interesting. In the other rooms, there was a lot of graffiti, some from dedsec, some from prime_eight and other hacker groups and some random graffiti from random citizen. That room, however, had only one fine, paint spray drawing – and it was a dedsec one.

It was a painting of the reaper they used as their logo. There was the familiar eyeballs in the background scattered around three gravestones. On two of the gravestones, “R.I.P privacy,” was written, and “Return of the dedsec,” on the last. What caught Josh attention was what was painted underneath the reaper. They never used that in their artwork. Josh had to fly closer to the wall to see if what he saw was actually there. The room was dark after all, and he could just imagine things, but the closer he flew, the cleared the disturbing painting got. For there, underneath the reaper, was a spray-painted picture of Wrench’s mask, the default X’s on the LED screen.

“I found something,” he told the others through the earpiece on his left ear. He landed the quadcopter on the floor inside the building. There was no need flying it out when he was headed inside anyway. “Meet me on third floor.”

“What is it,” Marcus rushed into the conversation.

“Disturbing art,” Josh replied, ascending the stairs to the third floor.

“What?” Sitara asked. She sounded in disbelief.

“I’ll show you, just get to third floor.”

“Already there, pumpkin,” Ray responded.

“Wait for me the – oh, hi.” Josh had just gotten to third floor where Sitara and Ray waited.

Both Sitara and Ray lifted their hands in an awkward, little wave at the equally awkward hacker.

“Well, what are you waiting for, show us what you found,” Ray demanded.

“We’re waiting for Marc-“ Josh turned to look behind himself, to the staircase. There stood Marcus in all his glory, cutting Josh mid-sentence again. “Oh, hi.”

The room shifted to an awkward silence, the four of them just standing around. Josh shuffled forward, not really liking the awkwardness his awkward nature always seemed to drag with it.

“Follow me,” he said.

The others gingery did as told.

Josh walked through the corridors of the apartment building as if he had lived there for years. He knew exactly where to go, even if he’d only flown a quadcopter in there once. He led them to the room with the painting of Wrench’s mask with ease, and made his way towards his quadcopter.

Now that he could see the room with his own eyes, he saw two burnt out candles on each side of the corrupted deadsec art. An arrow pointed from Wrench’s mask to a phone on the floor.

“What the actual fuck, man,” Marcus whispered as he moved closer to the wall. “Yo, this some fucked up shit, right here,” he said, crouching down.

“They wanted us to find this,” Sitara stated, moving closer to Marcus.

“Yeah, no shit,” Marcus muttered as he picked up the phone. “There’s a voicemail in here, from an unknown number.”

It was an old, Nokia phone, the kind that could probably survive being run over by ten tanks after being dropped in a tank of radioactive waste. It was also a flip phone, two of the traits Josh missed about mobile phones. Though the smartphones were better in many ways, such as hacking and the use of internet, they were incredibly fragile and Josh liked to play with the old school phone’s flip ability. He’d flip it open and flip it close over and over until someone in the room would flip on him.

Marcus opened the voicemail and turned it on speaker.

“Hello, dedsec,” said a voice on the other end. The voice was distorted and sounded much like the distorted voice the dedsec spokesman used in the videos they posted.

“As you are aware of, we have a dedsec member in our custody. Not to worry, he is fine and will remain so if you do as you’re told.”

Josh sat down on the floor and pulled out his laptop.

 “What’cha doing?” asked Ray.

“Trying to trace the call,” answered Josh.

“We want the location to all of dedsec’s hackerspaces in San Francisco. You have until October first to give us an answer, if you fail to do so, your member will suffer. There is a number on the phone on which you will receive this message. Use that number to give us the answer. Dedsec provides the truth about corrupt corporation and blume, but who will provide the truth about dedsec?”

“The signal traces to the Marine,” Josh said.

“October first? That’s tomorrow,” Sitara said, completely ignoring Josh.

“Then we have no time to waste,” replied Ray.

“To what, exactly? To go to the Marine? What if that’s a trap? This was way too easy to not be a trap,” Marcus reasoned, putting the phone in his pocket.

“Well, we can’t exactly give away every hackerspace either,” Sitara pointed out, which earned her a nod from the hipster.  

“Then what do we do,” Marcus asked again.

“We go to the Marine, but we go prepared,” Ray stepped in.

“Ray’s right,” Josh put his laptop away and rose from his position on the floor. “We can’t give them the hackerspaces, but we can’t let them hurt Wrench either. We only have one clue, we shouldn’t let it pass. Besides, I don’t think it’s a trap. They need us alive for the information.”

“What are we waiting for, then?” Marcus sped walked towards the staircase and disappeared down the steps. “Let’s kick some ass!”

 

*****************

Wrench groaned. His head throbbed with the worst headache he thought was possible, his neck flared with a stiff pain and his throat felt as if it was made of lava, hot flaming pain flaring to life every time he tried to swallow. He opened his eyes, relieved that he saw life through the camera on his mask, and not with his own eyes. He felt weight on his wrist and ankles, and upon looking down, he found that they had tied him to a chair, hands to the armrest and ankles to the chair legs. He tried tugging on the restrains, but that only earned him red marks from the spikey rope.

Wrench groaned again. He could not bear the headache. The sore throat and stiff neck he could deal with, but the headache made it impossible to think. He needed to find a way out of there, but his head pulsed with more pain with every thought that crossed his mind.

The room they had entrapped him in seemes spacious, for with every wiggle he made, the sound of the chair wiggling with him echoed throughout the room. There was barely any lights, Wrench could see no farther than an inch from his tied ankles. He tried to focus more on his surrounding, but another pulse of pain through his head stopped him, and he closed his eyes. He clenched his fists, and trashed in his seat, frustrated that thinking caused him pain.

After minutes of neither the chair nor the ropes budging, Wrench slumped in his seat, defeated.

“Motherfuckers,” he muttered.

Chapter Text

The sound was barely there, but Wrench could hear a door opening and closing. It was done ever so carefully and Wrench concluded that whoever entered the room wanted to be undetected. He could hear the faint sound of feet shuffling across the floor, coming closer and closer to the chair they had tied him to. Wrench remained quiet, even when the quiet footsteps stopped right behind him, hoping that the person thought he was still unconscious.

Silence filled the room when the shuffling of feet had stopped. Wrench’s head pounded with pain with each passing moment as he tried to conjure a plan of action, but what could he do when both his hands and feet were tied to a chair that appeared to be bolted to the floor, because that too refused to budge when he struggled.

The person behind him moved again and Wrench tensed up. He felt utterly defenseless and he hated it. His heart pounded faster with anticipation, his breathing got heavier and heavier and he was pretty sure that the person now knew that Wrench was awake.

He only got a glimpse of it in the corner of his eye before the rope tightened around his neck. His head was roughly pushed to the back of the chair as the person behind him almost choked him. He could still breathe, but he had to take in big gulps of air each time he inhaled to satisfy his lungs. Why the fuck do they keep choking me, Wrench asked himself as he tried to turn his head from side to side while he tugged with all his strength on the ropes that restrained him to the chair. The LED screen of his mask displayed ‘>.<’ as he closed his eyes. His throat was on fire, the pain he had felt earlier tripled with the added pressure and his head pulsed with pain at the same speed his heart pounded in his chest.

They turned on the lights, blinding the anarchist even behind his mask. The lights hurt him even further and he started to think that the headache was not just that, but a first-degree migraine, for he could not stand the lights.

“The Wrench,” someone said, definitely a man judging by the deep voice. “I’ve heard some shit about you. A fucked up motherfucker who likes to blow shit up, but despite the love and passion for destruction, is a brilliant engineer.”

Wrench pried open his eyes, mask showing ‘=.=’ as he studied the spokesperson of his kidnapper. He wore a white jumpsuit, which was kind of original, considering kidnappers always seemed to wear black in the movies. He wore a white, faceless mask with black eyes, though, which took away some of the originality. Wrench had hoped that this would not be some cliché inspired from the movies. They were up to a good start too, as victims don’t usually wear masks and kidnappers don’t usually wear white. Damn the kidnappers mask, Wrench thought.

“But ‘Wrench’ isn’t your real name, and all the information I’ve gathered about you never mentions anything about you, the man behind the mask,” the spokesperson continued. Wrench had to keep reminding himself that this was real life and not a Jimmy Siska action movie. He was in actual danger.

Wrench did not like where this was going. The man behind the mask wore the mask for a reason, and it was a reason Wrench was not ready to face just yet. He wanted so dearly to talk back to the spokesman, but the tightened rope held around his neck prevented any snarky remark that wanted to leave his lips. Only some higher power would know how badly Wrench wanted to tell the spokesman to just ‘fuck off, slenderman wannabe’.

“Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself, Wrench?”

The person behind him slacked the rope and Wrench coughed, which did nothing to soothe his already burning throat. “Why don’t you fuck off, slenderman wannabe.” There, he said it.

The spokesman let out a breath and shook his head ever so slightly. “How about we start with your fighting skills? Where’d you learn how to fight like that? Because I must say, I’m impressed. There seems to be some strength behind that scrawny body of yours, even after I put a little something extra in your drink.”

Wrench scoffed. “So you’re telling me that I was drunk and drugged; still I beat the shit out of three of your guys? Have you ever considered that my strength ain’t the problem, but your weakness?” Wrench’s mask changed to ‘?.?’

Now, the spokesman scoffed. He leaned closer to Wrench’s masked face in what was supposed to be an intimidating matter. “You don’t want to cooperate? Fine,” he waved his hand in a circle and the man behind Wrench tightened the rope around his neck again, this time effectively cutting Wrench’s breathing. “We’ll just have to be a little more persuasive.”

Now Wrench hoped that the man behind him would choke him to death. The spokesman could not have said a more cliché thing at that moment.

“You like sledgehammers, no?” the spokesman asked, disappearing somewhere behind the chair. Wrench could hear the all too familiar sound of a sledgehammer being carelessly dragged across the floor. The man reappeared in front of him again with said sledgehammer in his hands. “Let me introduce you to mine.”

Wrench squirmed in his seat, not because of the sledgehammer, but because he started to run out of oxygen. He closed his eyes, mask displaying ‘>.<’ when he did, as he struggled to get the rope off his neck. His heart started to beat faster and sweat ran from the sides of his face. He trashed his head from side to side, getting more and more desperate for air. Fuck, I don’t wanna die, He thought.

“These tools are very good at breaking things, crushing them completely with a few hits,” the fucker continued, watching sadistically as his friend choked Wrench half to death.  “How many hits do you think it takes to crush human bones?”

Faster than Wrench could process, the pressure around his neck disappeared and the sledgehammer crashed down on his left wrist where the rope tied him to the chair. ‘!.!’ Lit up on his mask when a pain so intense exploded in his wrist. He let out a small scream, which was interrupted by a coughing fit, as he had gotten no time to recover from the choking

One millisecond after the coughing fit was over, the sledgehammer crashed down on the same spot on his wrist again. This time, Wrench heard the horrifying sound of a crack.

“AAHH, FUCK!” he screamed. He bent forward, wanting desperately to cradle the crushed wrist. The tiniest movement from his shoulder sent a hot wave of pain through his entire arm, before it exploded to something ten times worst at his wrist. Tears gathered in the corners of his eyes, the kind you get when you accidentally hit your thumb with a hammer. The sting of tears that are always unwelcome, because they are not real.

Wrench was not unfamiliar with pain, no sir, but this took things to a different level. Wrench had no idea what to do. He wanted to cradle the wrist, to hold it close to his body and try to soothe the pain, but he couldn’t. His instincts told him to run, to get the fuck away from the danger, but he couldn’t. He was stuck in a chair, a trembling mess of pain and confusion and Wrench hated it.

Another wave of despair befell Wrench as the pressure reappeared around his neck, and his head was roughly pushed back to the back of the chair for the third time. At least the choker let him breath this time.

“Two hits, then,” mocked the slenderman, wannabe fucker. He carelessly dropped the sledgehammer and leaned closer to Wrench’s mask. ‘\./’shone on his LED screen as Wrench glared at the sadist. “How ‘bout we take a look at the man behind the mask, hm?”

Wrench swallowed and clenched his right hand, his left still pulsing with far too intense pain. He started to breathe heavier, but whether that was from the rope around his neck or from hatred towards the spokesman, he could not tell. As the man reached forward to Wrench’s mask, he tugged his on his restraint with his good hand and turned his face away from the unwelcome hand the best he could with the rope still half-choking him.

The struggle was futile, though, and Wrench knew it, but he was not going to sit idly by while those fuckers tortured him and invaded his privacy. The man grabbed the mask and carelessly tugged at it. The idiot was going to break the thing if he kept tugging at that manner.

“How the fuck,” the spokesman mumbled to himself, and Wrench had to admit that he was impressed by the man’s idiocy. Did he think that the mask held itself in place?

Grunting in frustration, the man aggressively pulled down Wrench’s dark hood, revealing a bed of messy, dyed, silver hair. The man found the straps that held the mask in place, and traced his sausage fingers behind Wrench’s head. Wrench tried to turn and squirm away from the sadist’s fingers without causing any more pain to his left wrist, but the idiot still found his way to the clasps and unclasped the mask.

Wrench gathered all the saliva he could get, and when the fucker ripped his beloved mask from his face, Wrench spit at him. The big wad of spit hit the spokesman in the left eye, which was what Wrench was aiming for because the eyes were the only parts of the mask that were hollow, and probably led to skin.

The spokesman used his sleeves to quickly wipe the spit away from the eye. He turned back to the now unmasked anarchist and delivered a quick, but firm punch to his left cheek. Wrench grunted in pain, and then flinched when the impact made his left hand try to fly to his face to soothe the punched spot. The action sent another wave of pure agony through his broken wrist.

The man pulled out his phone and pointed it towards Wrench. “My future boyfriend, eh?” he asked. He put his phone away and met the burning look Wrench gave him. “I sure hope not, what with the ugly scar covering half your face, and all.”

Wrench turned his head away in a pathetic attempt to hide the scar, and averted his gaze to his lap. He clenched his right fist, which was trembling badly. It itched to bash the fucker’s scull in, to tear him to pieces. On the other hand, though, Wrench just wanted to get his mask back on and pull on his hood, to run away to his garage and get drunk for two days or so in a poor attempt to forget all this. Maybe he’d commit a felony or two while he was at it, that always cheered him up.

Wrench’s attempt to hide the scar did not go unnoticed by the spokesman, who laughed at his pathetic state. “Aw, did I hit a sore spot,” he cooed mockingly, reaching to grab Wrench’s jaw and forced him to meet his gaze. He studied the scar before he mocked, “I too would wear a mask if I had that on my face.”

Wrench, being the anarchist that he was, spit on the man’s face, once again hitting him in the eye. Wrench was a perfect shot, even when it came to spit.

This time, the man slowly wiped away the spit. “You know what?” he said. “I know I was supposed to interrogate you again, see if you’re willing to cooperate and all that, but fuck it.” The man made a circular motion with his hand again.

The rope around Wrench’s neck tightened considerably, cutting his breathing off again. He could feel the all too familiar burn in his throat as he squirmed in his seat. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on his breathing. He did not at all enjoy his near death experience the first time the man behind him didn’t let him breathe, so Wrench tried his best to avoid it.

Another explosion of pure agony broke Wrench from his focus. He was unable to scream or make any sound, for the man behind him still choked him. He opened his eyes and saw that the spokesman had the sledgehammer lifted in the air, ready for a hit number two, the hit that breaks the bone.

His heart accelerated considerably and he struggled in his seat the best he could. The world was getting blurry as the lack of oxygen started to kick in, and Wrench felt the hopelessness of the situation tear at his sanity. He did not want to die and he did not want another broken wrist, but with each violent tug on his restraint, nothing happened. Wrench watched with stings of tears in his eyes as the spokes-fucker swung the sledgehammer.

It was only when the sickening crack of his bones reached his ears that the rope disappeared from his neck. Wrench used the opportunity to scream. “AAAHHHH!” he screamed, his throat still on fire. “Fuck, fucking, fuck, FUCK,” he continued, not really knowing what to say or do as his right hand trembled with the impact. One traitorous tear slipped from the corner of his eye and slid down his cheek, the pain being too much for the anarchist to comprehend.

Wrench could feel his head spinning with different instincts. He had to run away, he had to cradle the other broken hand, he had to punch the fucker in the face and he had to glue his dick to the man’s forehead to make a dick-o-corn, but he could not. He was tied to a chair and he wanted to tug on his restraint, to scream curses no one believed even existed to the spokes-fucker, but his wrists were broken and his tongue tied. Wrench was stuck, hopeless, defenseless and clueless.

The spokes-fucker leaned closer to Wrench again and grabbed the anarchist broken wrist just to be a dick. Wrench groaned in pain, but did nothing else to show the great discomfort he felt. “So, how bout’ another question?” he asked. He tightened his grip on the two broken wrists and Wrench held back another sound of pain. “What’s your name, future boyfriend?”

Wrench leaned closer too, bright blue eyes burning with hatred as they bore into the spokes-fucker’s eyes. “Fuck you,” he replied, holding his position as a sign of his never-ending rebellion.

The spokesperson sighed and gave the two broken wrist one last squeeze, which earned him a pained grimace from Wrench, before he stood back up. “Fine,” was his simple answer. “More men!” he proceeded to yell. He nodded to the man behind Wrench, which returned the rope on his neck.

Wrench’s head was, for the fourth time, pushed to the back of the chair again. The man let him breathe, which, Wrench assumed, meant that the rope served as a fourth restraint to keep his head back. Three more men came to view; two carrying what looked like a nightstand. The third guy approached Wrench. They all wore the same outfit and Wrench rolled his eyes. Cliché.

The third guy crouched down in front of him and Wrench could feel the guy fondling with the tight rope that tied his left ankle to the chair legs. Were they releasing him? It made no sense, whatsoever, but Wrench remained hopeful nevertheless. If they were not releasing him completely, a foot or two would be enough to at least fight back.

Wrench kicked the third guy in the face once the ropes were gone, and when the two other guys approached him to attack, Wrench kicked one in the balls and the other in the stomach. He watched with satisfaction as they bent over, holding their face, stomach or balls as agony pulsed through them.

After they had recover, the three of them worked together to hold down the crazy foot, and they moved the nightstand under the knee. One of the guy sat on Wrench’s knee to keep it still on the nightstand, while the other two held his ankle, which was dangling from the edge of the nighstand with nothing solid under it.

Wrench kept kicking his leg, breathing and heart beat accelerating when he understood their intention. With Wrench’s trashing, it was impossible for the two other guys to hold the ankle in place, and that did not go unnoticed by the spokes-fucker. He signaled the man behind Wrench, who proceeded to cut all airways, once again choking Wrench.

After a few minutes, the world was blurry again, and Wrench stopped his trashing to save as much oxygen as he could. When the spokes-fucker raised the sledgehammer again, he confirmed Wrench’s suspicion. He was going to break his ankles too. Wrench tried to struggle, to wiggle his foot, to turn his head, but the lack of air made him exhausted. He was still unable to do anything. He was hopeless and defenseless as the spokes-fucker swung the sledgehammer for a fifth time, and hit his ankle.

Wrench let out a choked scream, rope still tight around his neck, when a third crack resonated around the room. The spokes-fucker, however, was not satisfied it seemed, for he raised the sledgehammer and swung it at the anarchist’s ankle another time. Another loud crack and Wrench screamed.

“AAAAHHHH!” despite the rope still around his neck, he screamed. The crack was loud, the pain unbearable, and his foot was at an impossible angle, the leg pointing slightly forward. A bone poked out from beneath Wrench’s pants.

More of his traitorous tears fell from his eyes. He was sure there was a big, ugly bruise where the rope had choked him, and his throat was a hot, painful mess. His wrists, which tugged at the restraints when he flinched from the impact, sent wave after wave with agony up his arms and shoulders, and now he had a new addition. He could feel his warm blood flowing down his leg from the bone that was poking out. His broken bone pulsed with something worse than pain and agony. Wrench was unable to describe it, but it sent his heart on a run. His migraine had only gotten worse, the lack of oxygen sending it in a haze. Wrench felt drugged. He could not tell left from right or man from shadow. All he could feel and acknowledge was the pain that surged through his body.

The man behind him slackened the rope around his next, letting him inhale big gulps of air, which ended up in yet another coughing fit. His breathing was frantic, probably in the middle of a panic attack Wrench was too much in pain to acknowledge.

 His heart sank and his stomach stirred when they untied his right leg and moved the nightstand under the right knee. He was too tired to fight back, barely able to even squirm in his seat. He closed his eyes tight and turned his head to the side. He had no wishes to witness the damage the spokes-fucker would do. He heard the sledgehammer being lifted from the floor and Wrench clenched his jaw and closed his eyes tighter, and if he was able, he would have clenched his fists too. Wrench tried to weakly pull his leg free, but there was no point. Wrench was too tired, too week – too hopeless.

And when the sledgehammer landed on his leg, for the seventh time, he clenched his jaw as tight as possible. He did not want the spokes-fucker, the choker nor the three guys to get the satisfaction of hearing him scream. Instead, a short, muffled scream was all Wrench gave them. That was the only rebellious thing he could think of doing as of that moment, and by the sneer he got from the spokes-fucker, he’d say it worked.

The sledgehammer landed on Wrench right leg a second time, the crack signaling that the spokes-fucker had succeeding in breaking yet another bone in Wrench’s body. Many stray tears fell from his shut eyes, not giving a fuck about the embarrassment Wrench felt from them falling freely down his cheeks.

The pain was just too much. There was literally nothing else he could feel; with every move he made, pain soared through his body; with every thought that passed by, pain pulsed through his head and with every word he tried to speak, pain flared through his throat. He knew crying was the brains way to gain sympathy, but there was no sympathy from these men, only embarrassment.

“Aw, is someone cwying,” the spokes-fucker mocked as he pulled Wrench’s head up by his hair. That way, everyone could see his tear stricken face. “How about you tell us who you are and we’ll treat your boo-boos?”

Wrench was unable to respond with his throat burning up, but he did have one weapon. Much like the spokes-fucker, who had used the sledgehammer repeatedly, Wrench collected another wad of saliva and spit in the man’s eye for the third time. Though Wrench was never one for regrets, he did regret spitting on the fucker when he pulled out a Taser and tasered him in the stomach. The body spasms made him pull on all his restraints, sending more waves of pain everywhere.

“Take him to the ceiling chains,” the spokes-fucker ordered.

The man behind him removed the rope completely and the three men untied his hands and feet. They put Wrench’s arms on each of their shoulder and hauled him from his seat. Wrench bit his tongue to keep in all the sound of pain and discomfort he wanted to shout out as they dragged him across the floor. They left behind a trail of blood from the open wound where the bone on his left leg poked out.

They removed the spikey bracelet he kept on his right wrist and chained him to the ceiling. Not too high, though, he could still stand on two very broken legs if he so desired.

He could hear something digital beeping in the background, it sounded like an alarm. The spokes-fucker appeared in front of him with a phone in his hand and chuckled. “It’s now the first of October, my future boyfriend,” he said. He put the phone away and patted Wrench cheek. “I guess I’ll let you hang for a while. You can either hang on broken wrist or stand on broken legs, as long as you’re here when I get back,” he patted Wrench’s cheek one last time then left.

Wrench closed his eyes, a couple more traitor tears falling down his cheek as he tried to not feel the pain. Please, come save Marcus, he thought. I can’t bear this much longer.

 

**********

 

The gang had just gotten back from the lead they got from the sad, abandoned apartment building. The clue led them to an abandoned house in the Marine. There was nothing in that house, no furniture, no curtains, no nothing. The only interesting thing was another spray-painted painting of Wrench’s mask, which covered almost the entire bedroom floor. Other than that, there was nothing, and Marcus was pissed.

“Fucking shit man,” he said and sat down on the couch in front of the many TV screens in the hackerspace.

He remembered when he and Wrench saw the cyber-driver trailer on that very spot, the two of them fangirling like crazy. Marcus sighed and rubbed his face. He slumped his shoulders and held that position. He felt the couch dip to his left and right, followed with hands rubbing his back in a comforting matter.

“Don’t worry,” Sitara’s voice said. “We’ll find him.”

“Yeah, besides, Wrench is a tough guy. He can deal with a little beating,” Ray followed.

Marcus said nothing. Both he and Josh were unable to from words, the both of them feeling the sinking feeling of dread pushing on their shoulders. Wrench did not deserve a beating; he did not deserve to be abducted.

Marcus only reacted when the many screens in the hackerspace turned on, screen displaying what appeared to be an unconscious Wrench, considering how his head rested onto his chest. His hood was still over his head and the mask was still in place, luckily. His hands and ankles were tied to the chair, and Marcus paled with realization. He pulled out his phone, his stomach stirring when the date and time displayed ’0.20 Am – first of October’.

Josh had shuffled over to the screens as well, standing behind the couch as he watched expressionless at his restrained friend. They waited in terror for something to happen when that distorted voice from the voicemail started to talk.

“Hello, dedsec,” he said.

Chapter Text

Raymond had seen some shit in his life. He had seen the control ctOS and Blume gave to big corporations and authorities, he was the software engineer that had helped create the spawns of evil after all. He was the man behind the northeast blackout of 2003, which had unintentionally killed eleven people. After the blackout disaster, he had helped the fox of Chicago, Aiden Pearce, shut down ctOS and he had witnessed Pearce’s partner, Clara Lille, being brutally murdered at a graveyard. Ray had hoped that the shit would calm down when he moved to San Francisco. Boy was he wrong.

What else could he expect, though, when he attended festivals such as the Swelter Skelter? In addition, he also brought hardcore, hallucinogenic drugs into the picture. Overall, Ray was a shit-magnet, which was why he should not be surprised when he took part in even more shit.

But this shit took the cake.

Ray felt his blood boil when the torturer with the white mask broke, not only one bone, but four! Ray clenched his fists and grit his teeth. If he ever met those shit-faces he’d probably punch the living hell out of them, and to add worse to bad, Wrench’s attitude pissed off the old man too. Why in the hell he thought spitting in the man who broke four of your god damn limps’ face was a good idea was far beyond Ray. Wrench was also tied up and defenseless, he should know better than to piss off the very guy that had tied you up and made you defenseless. You’re a fucking idiot, Wrench, he thought angrily, teeth still gritted so tight, he might lose them.

It was not like Ray was directly pissed at Wrench. He knew the guy had a terrible attitude to things, he still remembered the day he suggested they used Wrench jr. as a bomb. That did not end well. No, Ray was not mad at Wrench, who made a bad situation terrible by poking a stick at the sleeping bear, but he felt an all too familiar feeling swell in his gut, one he’d rather not feel again. The feeling of your heart beating heavily – not fast - and your mind going through different ‘what if’-s. It was tearing him down, pushing him to the ground, even to hell. It was the unmistakable feeling of regret, blame – guilt.

They dragged Wrench’s broken body to some ceiling chains, where they chained him up. The white-masked son of a bitch said something to Wrench, patted him on the cheek, then he left. The video kept playing, however.  Wrench was trying his best to find a somewhat less painful position. He tried his best not to step on his left leg on account of the bone that poked out of it, but if he tried not to stand, he’d have to hang on broken wrists. He tried to stand on his right ankle, but that hurt too, so he tried to grab the long chain with his hands and lifted himself. That probably hurt too, because Wrench let go immediately and Ray could see the internal struggle Wrench went through as several more tears escaped his piercing, blue eyes.

The video stopped, and that distorted voice of the devil spoke again, “I want the location of every hackerspace in San Francisco. You have until second of October.”

Twenty-four hours. That was all they got. They had to either give up every hackerspace or find Wrench within twenty-four hours. He couldn’t – wouldn’t  - let Wrench get tortured again, but they couldn’t just give up everything they had either. Though he and Wrench weren’t the best of friends, Ray still enjoyed his company and inventions. Besides all that, Wrench was simply too young. The kid was almost young enough to be Ray’s son, probably just finished his puberty for all he knew, and now he had to choose whether he wanted to stand on broken legs or hang from broken wrists.

“No, no, no, no,” Josh started another tantrum. And here Ray thought that tantrums were Wrench’s kink. “Shit, shit, shit, goddammit!”

“Josh, this isn’t your fault,” Sitara tried to calm him down, even though she had just recovered from throwing up on the floor herself.

“I should have done better!” he yelled. Damn, Ray thought the same about himself. “I should have – I should have never left the party in the first place!”

“You can still help Josh,” Sitara tried again. “Go to the computer, see if there are any signals left of the video, the footage is still here.”

Josh hung around for a few more seconds, gripping his hair and shaking slightly. After a while, he nodded and shuffled to his computer and started to tap away.

“And we,” Sitara turned to Ray and Marcus, who had been too quiet since the video froze, “need a plan of action.” 

Ray turned to look at Marcus, but he seemed too shocked to even. His face looked like he had just seen a ghost, most likely Wrench’s ghost. “I think I might have an idea,” Ray spoke and gained the two kid’s attention. “It’s more of a ‘last resort’ kind of plan, really.”

“Well, that’s better than nothing,” Sitara said, urging Ray to continue.

“So, I tend to take people for their words, and that shit-eating fuck-face said he wanted every hacker group in San Francisco, but he never said whose.”

“Yeah, he did in the first phone call, remember?”

“Yeah, but not in this one.”

“And where exactly are you going with this?” Marcus finally spoke. “We find every location of some other hacker group’s hackerspaces? Because that won’t take a long time at all,” he continued sarcastically.

“What else do you suggest, Marcus? If we don’t find Wrench within twenty-four hours, they’ll torture the shit out of him again and if we don’t give up the hackerspaces, then they’ll also torture the shit out if him.” Ray crossed his arms over his chest. He had no intention to give in to Marcus’ current pessimistic state.

That seemed to be enough to convince Marcus, though, for he slowly and gingerly nodded, looking down at the floor. “Fine,” he said. “Fine. What’s the whole plan?”

“We group up. Two and two.” Explained Ray. “One group find the locations of another groups hackerspaces while the other search for Wrench.” Ray shifted his gaze from Marcus to Sitara. “We’ll use the hackerspaces as a last resort. No need giving them up right away and get another question we need to find another answer to from those shit-eating filths.”

Sitara nodded. “This might work. We give them the false hackerspaces just before their deadline expires, that way they won’t torture Wrench – if we haven’t found him yet – until the deadline for their next question, if they give us one.”

“Exactly.”

The two young hackers fell into a silence, probably searching for another option, but in Ray’s opinion, his plan wasn’t all that bad. That way they had a solid plan A; searching for Wrench, and a solid plan B; giving up false hackerspaces.

“I see no other option, so why the hell not,” said Marcus, giving in to Ray’s plan.

Josh gain the three hackers’ attention when he came shuffling back from his computer. He still looked shaken up, shoulders tense and drawn slightly upwards. He was fondling with his hands in front of his chest as he said, voice monotone, “I’ve found a location, but you’re not going to like it.”

Marcus perked up, spreading his hand slightly in front of him and took a step forward. “Where?”

“The same spot in the Marine, the abandoned house.” Josh said, and shifted his look to the floor. It was clear that he felt disappointed in himself for not fishing out another location, but if the signal led them there a second time, then that meant that they had been sloppy the first time they went there.  

Marcus let his hand slump to his sides again, taking a step backwards as he cursed under his breath.

Ray felt disappointed too, he could not deny that, and he could only dream what Marcus went through. He had seen the ‘secret glances’ the darker male made towards the anarchist. Once, he even caught Marcus taking a photo of Wrench without the latter knowing. He was basically obsessed with the masked anarchist, and most likely desperate to get him to safety. Not that the others weren’t worried, but Marcus probably felt twice the worry the others did. In this case, twice the disappointment, probably tilting more to desperation than anything.  

“I say we head there,” Sitara said. “Me and Josh will stay here and find hackerspaces.” She turned to look at Marcus. “You and Ray go to the Marine and search the building.”

“I’d suggest we search the area too,” Ray jumped in. “There may be nothing in the building, but something in the area.”

“I agree,” Josh said. “When we went there the first time the building was empty, but we never searched around the area. That was our mistake.”

“Alright, let’s get to it then,” Marcus chimed in, walking to the stairs. “We have a fucked up motherfucker to find.”

Ray was not sure whether he meant Wrench or the shit-eating fuck-face that tortured him. He followed suit either way.

 

 **********

 

They stopped to get some coffee before heading to the Marine. It was in the middle of the night after all, and none of them had gotten much sleep in their search for their missing anarchist. Besides, it was a long way to the Marine, and both Marcus and Ray had to be as awake as possible.

Marcus felt anger burn in the pit of his stomach. They tortured Wrench, his best friend-crush-thing, and they mocked him - bullied him. Marcus didn’t miss how they stared at him, studied the burn mark, and most likely made fun of it, judging by Wrench’s attempt to hide it. Stripping the anarchist of his mask passed way beyond his limits in itself, mocking the scar was just rubbing salt in the wound. Then they had the nerve to bully him further when they broke his limps and he started crying. He could see the way they laughed at him when they forced him to look their way. Marcus’ grip tightened on the steering wheel at the thought of Wrench being bullied. He gritted his teeth and tried to remain calm, but more images of Wrench’s torture kept appearing in his mind. He imagined that it killed Wrench from the inside to cry in front of anyone, no less his torturers. One could only push the Wrench so far, and Marcus was pretty sure he was almost at his limits.

Marcus had no desire to find out what would happen once they had pushed him too far. What would Wrench do then, have an anger tantrum? But what could he do in his chained state? Nothing, which led Marcus to the worst case scenario; he would break. They would keep hurting him, keep bullying him until they broke him. Wrench was like a stained glass window that had been broken before. The pieces were glued back together to form the Wrench Marcus knew today, but the stained glass was more fragile than ever. Marcus was scared that if the torturers broke him again, the pieces would be so small they were impossible to glue back together.

“You alright there, Marcus?” Ray asked. He’d been staring at Marcus for a while now, but the latter tried to ignore his prying eyes.

“No,” replied Marcus honestly. How could he be when Wrench was in danger to be torn to teeny, tiny pieces?

“Look-” Ray said, trying to gain some reaction from Marcus who kept paying attention to the almost empty highway. “I know you like Wrench.”

Marcus glanced nervously at Ray, but also a bit pissed. So what, he though. Am I not allowed to have feelings?

“I’ve seen the photos you take and the glances you make, but that don’t mean you can pity yourself. He’s our friend too. Heck, even I enjoy his company. He’s got a lot of genius in that brain of his and his inventions are extraordinary, but You need to keep your head cold. If we’re gonna find him, then we need every brain cell in on this game. Yours too.”

Marcus nodded. He knew he was being a jerk, but he couldn’t help it. The horrid scenes of Wrench’s torture repeated themselves in his head. Wrench’s tears, Wrench’s screams and Wrench’s bone. A human bone was something you were supposed to see on x-rays, not poking out of someone’s leg. Marcus shuddered and felt his stomach stir from the thought. His leg itched with phantom pain and he squirmed in his seat behind the wheel.

“I know,” he said. “It’s just…” Marcus frowned. It’s just what? All he wanted was to find Wrench, to hug him close to himself and tell him that the scar looked bad ass, to soothe the pain away and to keep him safe. How do you turn that into ‘it’s just’? Marcus did not know, so he settled with, “Fuck, I don’t know.”

Ray nodded. The old man seemed to understand Marcus’ difficulty to form words. The man had probably seen some shit in his life, after all, and had most likely experienced the same problem as Marcus. In fact, the old man seemed to be desensitized to the violence he had just witnessed towards Wrench. He made no reaction while watching the brutal scenes; neither did he seem to struggle to remain calm as they were heading to the Marine.

“I get it,” Ray said. “I have no idea how to describe it either. I’ve seen some shit in my life-” Marcus’ lips twitched. Little did Ray know Marcus had just thought about that. “- but that shit takes the whole, god damn cake.”

So Wrench’s torture was the worst Ray had ever seen?  

Marcus smiled sadly at the mention of the metaphor, and before he knew it, he had said, “The cake is a lie.”

“What?” asked Ray, eyes still on the darker male.

“The cake is a lie.” He repeated. “Wrench would have said that. Whenever I mentioned something taking the cake, Wrench would respond with, ‘the cake is a lie’.”

“Oh really?” Ray asked, Marcus nodded. “Why’s that?”

Marcus’ smile widened. “He’s a dork. Loves videogames. In one particular videogame called portal, you are promised cake if you get through different levels of puzzles. When you complete the levels, though, it turns out that the cake is a lie and you have to fight for your life instead.”

“Hmm,” Ray pondered. “So that’s where he gets his fucked up way of seeing things.”

“Maybe.”

 

**********

 

They spent the rest of the trip in silence. By the time they got to the old, abandoned house, it was 2 Am in the morning. The autumn air was refreshing and cold, but not unbearable. The abandoned house had the same atmosphere as the abandoned apartment building they had searched first; sad, dark and probably haunted. Wrench would still have loved to witness the movie-like scenes they had been to lately.  

Marcus’ job was to search through the house while Ray swept the surrounding area. The house was as empty as it had been the first time, even when he used NetHack. The entirety of the first floor was nothing but dust and insects. Spiders lurked in every corner and Marcus swore some of the vile creatures were the size of his hand.

The second floor was just as empty and uninteresting. The spray-painted painting of Wrench’s mask still covered most of the master bedroom, but other than that, there was nothing. Only flies and spiders. Marcus turned his phone upwards to let the NetHack system scan the ceiling. There were meaningless wires snaking inside the ceiling, but other than that, nothing. He moved from the master bedroom to the hallway. On the ceiling, just above the slim and decayed staircase, were an opening. It looked like a trapdoor, which most likely led to an attic. He moved towards the trapdoor and searched for a string or something to pull open the opening, but there was none.

Usually, Marcus would have used his time to find the proper way to open the trapdoor, but at the moment he had no time to waste. Wrench waited for them to rescue him, and Marcus would rather die than waste precious time on finding ‘the proper way’. No, instead Marcus pulled out his nine mm caliber, and aimed it at the edges of the trapdoor. He fired several rounds against the edge, and soon, the ladder came stumbling down with a loud crash.

“Jesus Christ!” Ray yelled through his earpiece. “What the hell is happening in there, Marcus?”

“What, did something happen?” Sitara asked. She and Josh also stay connected to the channel. It was easier to communicate that way.

“No.” Marcus put away his gun. “I just shot open the trapdoor to the attic.” He said calmly, looking up into the dusty room. The attic wasn’t dark, though. There seemed to be some light illuminating the room, which was weird. The entire house was dark, with no lights whatsoever. Why would the attic be any different?

“There’s an attic?” Josh asked.

“Yeah, we were sloppy the last time we came here.” Marcus replied. He ascended the ladder and his eyes widened.

Flashlights sat by the wall to Marcus’ left and right, all of them turned on and facing upwards so the light could illuminate the darkness of the room. In the middle of the room, hanging from a ceiling, was a hook. On said hook hung Wrench’s actual mask, hook pierced through the right side of the LED screen. The parts of the LED screen that weren’t broken glitched profusely, switching from emoticon to emoticon in a fury. Sometimes even showing nothing but glitched lines.

“Wrong move,” Marcus read the capital letters painted on the floor underneath the broken mask.

“What?” asked Ray.

“Wrench’s mask is in the attic.” Marcus explained and slowly walked towards the hook.

“What?” Sitara asked.

“What?” Josh asked.

“What?” Ray asked again.

“The actual, physical mask – not a painting - is hanging here, through a hook. ‘Wrong move’, is written underneath it.”

“Shit,” Ray replied.

“You think they know,” Sitara asked.

“I don’t know,” Marcus moved to pick up the mask, and was surprised when he saw Wrench’s spiked, red bracelet hung on the hook behind the mask. “The spiked bracelet is here too.”

Marcus studied the mask, and it felt as if his heart sank to the bottom of his chest. It was as if the broken mask served as a metaphor. The mask was broken, and soon Wrench would be too. Marcus breathed heavy as memories of Wrench crossed his mind, the fun they had when talking about Jimmy Siska, their discussions on other movies and the weird weapons they’d invented, such as the dildo gun. Marcus shook his head. Wrench was missing – not dead. There was still a chance to save him.

The mask glitched away as he turned it and studied the hole where Wrench’s right eye would be. The camera was broken; the screen on the inside of the mask was black.

“I think I’ve found something,” Ray said, interrupting Marcus’ wandering mind.

Marcus put the mask and bracelet in his book bag and moved towards the ladder with new determination that had replaced the pervious hopelessness. He would find Wrench before he was either dead or broken. “What is it?” he asked.

“It’s a terminal, but a security router has it locked. This is like nothing I’ve seen before though. The network bypass sequence is a mess; there are several gates that reboots the entire sequence after ten seconds. There are also self-rotating gates that seems pattern-less.”

“I’m on my way, where are you?”

“North of the house.”

Marcus practically ran down the ladder, down the stairs to the first floor and out the ghost house. The abandoned house was at a lonely place, surrounded by nothing but trees. That was the solemn reason they hadn’t bothered to search the surrounding area when they visited before.  

Marcus spotted Ray in front of a tree. He was standing with one hand on his hip while the other held his phone, which he studied with deep interest. He was frowning at what Marcus assumed was the network bypass sequence Ray had described earlier.

Marcus jogged over to the old man and pulled out his own phone. He turned on NetHack and took a step back. The bypass sequence was huge. Ray hadn’t lied when he said it was a mess either. There were too many self-rotating gates and they did not have a pattern, it seemed, as the old man had said. There were many rebooting gates too, too many for Marcus to count, and they were scattered all over the place, making the network bypass sequence huge.

Impossible, Marcus thought. This is impossible.

“Holy shit,” said Marcus.

“Yeah,” replied Ray.

“That bad, huh?” asked Sitara.

“Yeah,” replied Marcus.

“We’re gonna need some more people to crack this one,” Ray explained.

“We’ll be on our merry way then,” Sitara said.

“Yeah,” Ray repeated.

 

**********

 

Josh figured that the bypass sequence would be hard to crack, but he had not expected it to be near impossible. It was hard to get a good view of the whole sequence, even with his quadcopter in the air, but he had found a good position to see the whole thing. Josh was now under deep concentration. He had to find a way to solve that puzzle; it may be an important lead to Wrench’s location.

“Holy shit,” Sitara had repeated Marcus’ word when she saw the mess.

“Yeah,” Ray and Marcus repeated their words at the same time, also looking at the messy network bypass sequence.

“I know how to solve this,” Josh announced. He had studied the sequence thoroughly. He had found a pattern within the pattern-less, self-rotating gates and he had found a way to time everything just right for it to work, even with a small, ten second reboot time.

The others turned to look at Josh, who met their gazes. They looked impressed. Did they not know how skilled Josh truly was? Hadn’t Josh proved his hacking skills enough? They shouldn’t be impressed by now, yet there they were, eyes as round as circles and mouth agape. Weird.

“There’s nothing we can do about the gates that rotates themselves, but we can time everything else right. The switch is in the middle, and we can divide this sequence in three parts,” Josh explained and gestured to his laptop screen. The others gathered around the awkward hacker to see what he was getting at. “This part here has the most gates that reboots, me and Marcus will cover that part. Ray, you take this part right here, where there are three gates with a ten second reboot time. Sitara, you take the last part, there are only two rebooting gates, but you have some self-rotating ones. First we’ll rotate the ones that don’t reboot and rotate on their own. Then, when I say so, we turn the rebooting gates.”

The others nodded, understanding the plan.

“Sitara,” Josh turned to the female hacker. “You have the least rebooting gates, which means when you’ve turned your last gate, you’ll have to be ready to hit the switch. If you miss that opportunity, we’ll have to start all over again.”

“You got it, Josh,” she answered. “Let’s go team.”

They all started on their assigned mission. Marcus pulled out his quadcopter too and sat down besides Josh, while Sitara and Ray used their phones. They Rotated the gates they were supposed to, and soon Josh got a clear signal from each of them.

Josh was in high concentration as he watched the self-rotating gates, waiting for just the right moment to turn the rebooting ones. They did not rotate in time, but he had studied their pattern. Once every thirteenth turn they lined up just the way Josh needed. He counted the amount of time they had rotated since their last line-up.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, he counted in his head.

“Now!” Josh said on the tenth turn.

They all rotated the rebooting gates on the tenth turn. By the time the thirteenth and final turn struck, every rebooting gates have been turned, which lined the sequence up perfectly. Sitara was ready when the switch unlocked and quickly hacked it before the rebooting gates could reboot and the self-turning gates could turn.  

“Yes!” Marcus cheered when the security router unlocked.

Josh unlocked the router and hacked into the terminal as the others cheered.

“Josh, what would we do without that glorious brain of yours?” Marcus continued his cheering. He jumped on his feet and high-fived the group, excluding Josh who was busy with actual work.

After a short while, Josh had hacked into the terminal and a footage appeared on his computer. It looked as if it was from a security camera. He moved the camera a little to the right and he paled. His hand started trembling and he caught his breath in his throat. He slowly shook his head.
I wasn’t fast enough.

“No, no, no, no,” Josh said. He stared at the screen in terror.

“Josh, what’s wrong, man?” Marcus asked, smiling still as he approached Josh.

Josh turned his horrified gaze to the hipster and shook his head.

“I was too slow, I was too damn slow,” he said and pulled on his hair under his hood.

“What the hell is going on Josh,” Ray asked and stepped forward to stand in front of him. Sitara followed suit and looked expectantly at the frightened hacker.

Josh paid them no mind, though, as he kept looking at the footage that appeared on his laptop when he hacked the terminal. Wrench was on his knees, hands cuffed behind his back. He appeared to have a conversation with the spokesman, but he couldn’t hear. Suddenly, the spokesman punched Wrench in the jaw and kicked him in the stomach. The spokesman strutted behind the anarchist and stepped on his left leg. Wrench visibly screamed.

“They’re torturing him again.”

 

Chapter Text

Wrench had his eyes closed as he changed position yet again. No position seemed to satisfy him though, as he kept squirming in his chains. They had cuffed his wrist tight when they chained him to the ceiling, making the pain worse than it necessary had to be, and to add more fuel to the fire, Wrench had accidentally stepped on his left leg on more than one occasion.

He heard the familiar sound of the heavy door to his torture chamber opening and closing. The fuckers were back. Wrench opened his eyes and his stomach twisted uncomfortably. The world was blurry as it spun in his vision and the strong, piercing lights added to his flaring headache. His migraine had yet to disappear, and Wrench knew whatever hell awaited him would most likely not cure it.  

A sharp sting in his side that made his body spasm from the electric jerk had Wrench closing his eyes again. The pain was everywhere. His wrists, his ankles, his head and let’s not forget about the burning throat. Beside the migraine, the pain was another thing that had never bothered to disappear. It was there constantly, reminding Wrench of his hopeless situation – reminded him how he had cried in front of his captors. His stomach turned wrongly at the memory - he absolutely despised himself for it.

“Hello, future boyfriend,” said the fucker, though this might be different fucker from the first one. This voice wasn’t as masculine as the other, but definitely a man. “Getting tired of the pain yet? We can help with that, you know? All you have to do is answer a few questions."

Wrench squirmed to another position again and opened his eyes. He turned to look at the fucker, situated with the same outfit every shit stain in that hellhole seemed to wear, and glared.
 I swear to whatever god damn, higher power there is out there, he thought. If he asks me about my fucking name I will kick his balls so hard it will turn into a freaking vagina, broken bones be dammed.

“We’ll get back to your name later-“ Wrench internally sighed, “- You seem to be very persistent with that one. So, how about you tell us about your family, instead? Who is mommy? Or daddy?”

Wrench kept his mouth shut as he glared at the newfound fucker. Why the fuck people were so god damn interested in his previous life all of a sudden beat Wrench, but he didn’t like it one bit.

“C’mon, future boyfriend. Who is daddy, I know you have one. We all do.”

“I don’t,” Wrench replied, his voice hoarse as hell. “I’m baby Jesus and my mom is Virgin freaking Mary.”

“Hm,” fucker-two hummed. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

Though Wrench could not see, he felt gloved hands fondling with the chains that held his wrists from behind him. Maybe it was the choker? Or had they switched out everyone from before? The choker wasn’t the choker and the three guys – given there even were any three guys this time – wasn’t the three guys. He knew for sure that the fucker wasn’t the fucker from his previous torment. What a bummer, Wrench thought sarcastically. And I was getting to know them so well.

The chains that held him up finally let his wrists go, and Wrench found himself plummeting to the floor. On instinct, he tried to catch himself with his feet, but that earned him another wave of painful explosions, and a bone grinding onto the other bone, it’s lose end. His legs dropped him like an anchor and he was plummeting to the floor once again. He had no time to think, but he had to soften the fall somehow. He stretched out his arms as the floor got closer. He landed on his palms and his wrists exploded.

“AAAHH, FUCK!” Wrench screamed as he cradled his painfully, throbbing wrists.

The pain he thought was gut wrenching before got drowned by something worse. It felt as if his wrists had been cut off with a rusty, old saw. The tool teared away at the flesh slowly, one piece at the time. Once deep enough, it crunched away painfully at the bone. His wrist throbbed with his pulse and each pulse brought pain like he had never felt before.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, He thought as he cradled his wrist to his chest. He knew his wrist hadn’t been cut off, but with the feeling of fire and war and despair flooding through them, it felt real.

Fucking motherfucking, shit, fuck.
His wrist throbbed and it burnt and it hurt.

Wrench turned to lay on his back. He had no intentions to add any unwanted and unnecessary weight to his throbbing wrists. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on anything but the pain, which was everywhere. No matter how much he tried, though, he kept coming back to the headache, to the crushed wrists, to the peaking bone and to the crushed right ankle. The pain was everywhere, even on his mind.

A firm kick to his side that sent a new wave of pain through his body had him turning to his right. He tried to cover from the second kick, but he was too slow and the boot connected with his stomach. His air abruptly left him, and Wrench curled more in on himself, almost laying back on his stomach at this point. A boot on his upper back pushed his chest more to the floor, his wrists was crushed under his own and the boot’s weight. Wrench grunted and squirmed in pain as the helper pried his throbbing wrist away from under his chest. He tried to struggle against the man, but his hans still got cuffed behind his back, tightly.  

A hand snaked its way into Wrench’s silver hair and pulled him to a kneeling position. Fucker-two stood before him, hand tightly pulling on his strands, which had his head throb with each beat of his fastening pulse. His vision was blurry as it swam in his eyes, and it was hard for Wrench to see the man’s mask clearly. With his vision as bad as it was, his mask really looked like the white, faceless face of slenderman,

“What about siblings. Surely you have siblings,” fucker-two asked and pulled harder on Wrench’s hair.

A gnawing feeling gathered at the pit of his stomach, and this time it wasn’t vomit. It wasn’t pain, either, for that feeling was still everywhere. That gnawing feeling had him clench his teeth as he stared at fucker-two with hell burning in his piercing, blue eyes. He would have clenched his fists, too but they were still recovering from the explosion of pain they had received earlier. If he weren’t in his current position, Wrench probably would have punched something too.
Why can’t the fucking dipshits understand that I will never talk about my goddamn past. They can fucking beat me within an inch of my life, the life I lived back then is long gone, and is never coming back.

Wrench gathered spit in his mouth, gleefully getting ready to fuck up his situation more than it probably was, though his situation was pretty fucked up from before. He would never pass an opportunity to be the rebellious little shit he was, no matter what the situation and what level of ‘fucked-up-ness’ it reached. Besides, it was the best way, if not the only way, to keep his stubborn pride and dignity intact.

He aimed for his target, which was still one of the eyes of the white mask they wore, and spit. The wad of saliva did not hit his target, though, on account that Wrench was on his knees and the fucker in question towered over him on his feet. It did, however, land just below his partly exposed collar bone, and that was good enough for Wrench.

Fucker-two released a heavy sigh. “Wasn’t it this shitty attitude of yours that got you in trouble before?” he asked.

Wrench could not help the smirk that gleamed on his face as he said, “I never seem to learn, asshole.”

“Hm,” fucker-two hummed again. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

And just as Wrench processed his repeated words, fucker-two punched Wrench in the jaw. A strong pulse of heavy pain surged through his head as the punch turned both his head and upper torso with the impact. Another kick to the stomach that had his air leave his body like a lightning bolt made Wrench bend forward until his forehead reached the basement floor. He tugged at his cuffs on his wrists, wanting to hold his arms around his stomach to soothe the pain, but that only earned him another sharp dose of the familiar feeling.

A heavy boot on his left foot, just above the peaking bone, had Wrench scream out in a weird mixture of pain and surprise. With all his focus mostly on the metaphorical explosions of pain and misery in his body, he hadn’t noticed fucker-two circle around him.

His foot flared with hot, heavy waves of despair and pain as the man ground his boot on the split bone. He could feel the edge of the peaking bone grinding against the other end. It created a painful friction. Wrench was an adrenaline junky; he usually loved these kind if frictions. The friction was a small spark that had landed on a puddle of fuel. Together, they burst out in hot, painful flames that were just as beautiful as they were dangerous, and they always got him feeling like the king of the world. This painful friction, however, was not a spark, but a bacterium that had landed on a moist slice of bread; together they created deceases that killed people faster than you could say John Travolta.

Fucker-two, still behind Wrench, grabbed his hair again and pulled the anarchist to the same kneeling position as before. He stepped off his bloodied left leg and started moving forward, dragging Wrench behind him by his hair. He tried to keep up by shuffling his knees along, but each movement sent wave after wave of pain up his legs when the peaking bone scraped against the floor. He kept shuffling his legs, though, because if he did not at least try to keep up with the fucker, his scalp and head would burn too. It was the ceiling chains all over again; would he rather scrape his peaking bone against the floor, or have his scalp torn from his head?
Why not both?

Fucker-two kept dragging Wrench to a small tub or a huge bucket; he wasn’t sure which. His vision was too blurred, but the thing was made of plastic and filled with water. If Wrench hadn’t gone completely nuts yet, he thought he spotted some ice cubes just swimming around in the tub-bucket-thing too.

The man slammed his throbbing body into the plastic thing filled with water. Wrench grunted as his head was once again lifted with a fist in his hair. He gritted his teeth, not from anger or annoyance, but so he wouldn’t make any sounds of discomfort.

“So, we can’t have your name, we can’t know how you learned to beat the shit out of people while highly intoxicated with drugs and alcohol and you won’t tell us about your family,” fucker-two brainstormed what information he had gathered from Wrench thus far, which was none, nothing - nada. “Tell me then, future boyfriend, what will – or can you tell us?”

Wrench breathed heavily and closed his eyes. He knew he shouldn’t reply with a snarky remark, because that would probably lead to fucker-two beating him half to death. On the other hand, though, Wrench wanted to keep his head held high and hold on to his devious pride and dignity. Those goddamn things were going to end his life someday, and if Marcus and the gang didn’t hurry the fuck up, that day would come sooner rather than later.  

“I can tell you how bad your mother is in bed, fuckstick.”
Yep, Wrench thought. I’m screwed.

Fucker-two tightened his grip on Wrench’s hair and slammed his head on the edge of the tub-bucket-thing. His head began to feel fuzzy, and the second slam to the edge did not help one bit. The hard edge of the tub-bucket-thing made Wrench realize that it wasn’t made of plastic, but of porcelain.

The man lifted his head and proceeded to slam his face into the edge of the tub-bucket-thing again. An all too familiar crack made its present and blood trickled from Wrench’s nose as another serge of pain exploded through his head and face. His migraine pounded and flared more viciously and his stomach twisted and turned, a big wad of vomit getting ready to surface. He bent over, the hand in his hair following his movement, and he threw up on the floor.

“Hm,” Fucker-two hummed and Wrench wished he could punch him in the throat. The man just hummed too goddamn much and Wrench was getting sick of it. “It appears that your body is getting tired of the boo-boos, future boyfriend. Maybe you should give us something that will ease the dreaded pain?” he continued and petted Wrench hair, probably to show some fake sympathy to make it more tempting for Wrench to give in to his body’s desire to submit to the man.

“How about a foot up your ass?” Wrench croaked when he finished his puking. He was dizzy, his vision was blurry, his nose broken and his head pounded with pain. In addition, all four of his limps were completely smashed, yet Wrench had to go ahead and make it worse for himself. He was a self-destructive, little shit, after all.

The man sighed. “At least you didn’t lie when you said you never learn.”

That was the only warning Wrench got before fucker-two dunked his head under the ice water of the tub-bucket-thing. The water was freezing, and even if the cold soothed his aching head, it did nothing to soothe the newfound burning in his lungs. The pressure was growing stronger and stronger. He trashed his head and wiggled his body. His need for oxygen was drowning the pain that ran up and down his body. He needed oxygen.

The pressure got too much, and Wrench opened his mouth to inhale air, but flood after flood of water entered instead. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as the pressure of his burning lungs grew more and more painful, and Wrench was just about ready to pass out and drown.

Then, his head was pulled above the surface.

He coughed and coughed, inhaled large gulps of oxygen at a time, then coughed and coughed again. His lungs was on fire, though they had just gotten out of the water. Cold Water droplets dripped from his hair and down to his shoulders. Large waves had splashed on his spikey vest and knees too, soaking him with the freezing substance.

He inhaled another gulp of air, which fucker-two interrupted when he pushed Wrench’s head back under the water. With more oxygen in his lungs than he had the first time he was nearly drowned, he struggled more profusely. He wiggled his body from left to right and pushed his head up towards the surface. He could feel the shaking hand on his head giving in to his strength as he slowly moved towards the surface. His head was nearly there, he just had to push a little further.

A sharp and sudden pain in his left shoulder blade stopped his struggles. Wrench opened his mouth to scream and inhaled some water in the process. The gulp of oxygen he had snatched before he got pushed below the surface was blown away as the pressure on his lungs returned. His eyes rolled to the back of his skull again and fuzziness overtook his head. His struggling stopped completely as the man pushed his head all the way to the bottom of the tub-bucket-thing, before he hurriedly and ungracefully pulled it back out.

Wrench inhaled air, coughed, inhaled some more air then coughed again. His lungs was burning and the water felt like lava. Only oxygen could put out the fire that burnt his twin organs to ashes.

Once Wrench had calmed down, he looked down at his shoulder to see the tip of a knife poking out from his vest. The tip almost looked as if it belonged among the spikey studs that littered the piece of clothing. Almost, if it hadn’t been for the blood that trickled its way from the wound, and to the tip of the knife. The only red spike among the metallic color of the other ones.

Unlike the red tainted tip of the knife, the new founded pain that followed after being stabbed in the back blended perfectly with the old pain that never bothered to leave his broken body. The hilt of the knife was lodged deep into his shoulder; the blade of the weapon had torn through flesh and sawed through bone. The pain was intense, but old. Wrench started to get used to the feeling, which helped to dull the once frierce pain.

Wrench coughed one last time before fucker-two shoved his head into the water a third time. The motivation he felt the second time he was shoved below the surface, the motivation that had helped him struggle enough to almost resurface, had died down. He almost let fucker-two torture him without any struggle and he almost wanted to tell him everything when he resurfaced. Almost. He weakly wiggled his body from left to right and slightly shook his head in protest. His dignity and devious pride wouldn’t let Wrench stop his struggles completely. The motivation had only died down; not out.

Before Wrench could feel the dreadful feeling of almost drowning, fucker-two pulled him out of the water. He took a hold of the hilt of the knife that was still deeply embedded into Wrench’s left shoulder blade and twisted it. Once to the left – Wrench grunted in pain – and once to the right – Wrench let out a halfhearted scream. The pain was still somewhat numb, even if it was just inflicted on him a millisecond ago.

Wrench let out another halfhearted grunt of pain when fucker-two pulled the knife out of his shoulder. He felt the blood flow more freely from the wound now that the big obstacle was removed. Fucker-two grabbed another fistful of dyed, wet, silver hair and dragged Wrench across the room to a new possible device of terror.

Fucker-two dropped him on the floor once they had arrived at the desired destination, wherever – or whatever that was. Wrench’s eyelids felt as if they were made of lead – heavy and impossible to keep open. His heart wasn’t beating fast anymore, that too was probably tired from all the pumping it had been doing recently. Instead, it beat heavily in his chest, slow and steady, along with his breath. Man, Wrench was tired. He would not deny a nap.

Even the sound of fucker-two’s feet thudding on the floor as he walked around the torture chamber lulled him to sleep. He could hear him walking war away, pick some shit up - probably something to cause Wrench more pain – then thudding his way back. Wrench was unaware of how close he was to falling asleep, even with the looming lunatic towering above him.

Wrench heard the click first, a click that usually put a smile on his face, before he heard the loud and familiar ‘bang’. He screamed and curled in on himself. His heart broke out in another run. The feeling of pain that had been previously numbed out flared to life again, blooming mainly on the new bullet wound on his right leg. The fucker fucking shot him!

Another ‘bang’ echoed in the chamber and the sharp pain flared up on his right side. This time he did not scream, though, for his scream was drowned by blood that bubbled up from his throat. Wrench prayed that the bullet had missed the inner organs. That would most likely lead to his death, which Wrench would rather avoid. He did not want to die from torture. He’d imagined his death would be out in the field. He would die bravely by sacrificing his life for his friends or after fucking things up for a major corporation. Either way, he would die in an explosion – in fire; not in some torture chamber chained up like a dog.

“I’m done asking questions,” fucker-two said as Wrench coughed up blood on the floor. “You’ve heard them all before, so here’s what’s going to happen.” He explained and crouched down beside the anarchist. “I am going to keep giving you boo-boos until you answer one of the questions we’ve asked ya.”

Why is it always me, Wrench thought miserably as he gathered the wad of blood in his mouth. The rebellious spark within him had returned with the adrenaline the bullet wounds tore with them, and he was going to act on it. He was not going to die in there. He spit on the man’s mask, the blood landing just where he wanted, which was still the hollowed out, black eye of the mask.

Fucker-two grabbed Wrench’s hair again and pulled him into a kneeling position. He punched him twice on his left cheek and smashed the back of his head against a table that apparently had been standing just behind Wrench. Fucker-two grabbed him by the throat and lifted him into the air before he slammed Wrench onto said table.

Wrench grunted and coughed up more blood. His body was sore and still pounding with numb pain. Now, the back of his head throbbed too, and whatever torture fucker-two would inflict on him next would most likely add more fuel to the fire.

Wrench coughed up flood after flood of blood as the man pulled him up to a sitting position with his hair. The second man in the room, whom Wrench had totally forgotten about, unlocked the cuffs around his wrist before he was roughly pushed down on the table again. Fucker-two tied him down to the table, hands by his side.

Wrench was dizzy, the world span when he opened his eyes halfway. Everything within him numbly hurt. It felt more like a dull ache at this point. He figured that you’d get used to the feeling of pain when you’d been inflicted it enough. The feelings that really bothered him at this point was the stirring in his stomach and the pounding in his head. He really felt like throwing up again, but with the way he was tied, he wouldn’t be able to turn, which meant he’d have to puke all over himself. He’d rather not.

Fucker-two had walked away. Where remained unknown because the heavy feeling on his eyelids had returned, and he kept his eyes closed. He could hear the man going through some stuff, though. Wrench could hear the clatter of metal and the thud of wood against wood. He also heard the smack of something against skin.  

Wrench decided to ignore the lunatic and focused on his breathing instead. It was calm and steady, just like it had been when he laid on the floor minutes earlier. He focused on the steady beating in his chest. He tried not to think, for his head needed rest too. All the thinking and processing Wrench had done only added to the damage, so he tried to stop every thought. Man, was he tired. He was ready for sweet unconsciousness to take him over.

A wave of freezing cold water soaking his tired body jolted him from his semi-unconscious state. “No resting yet, future boyfriend,” fucker-two said and put down the bucket. The water was freezing and Wrench could feel slight shivers running up and down his spine as goosebumps erupted on his skin. “We still have some boo-boos to inflict.”

The man held up a nail gun and Wrench swallowed.

“Or, to be more specific, a boo-boo to fix.”

He moved towards Wrench’s left leg and grabbed the broken foot. He pulled on the peaking bone and tried to align it with the other bone. Wrench screamed and tried to pry his foot away from the psycho. The pain he had thought had gone numb returned and he screamed harder when fucker-two nailed his leg back together with the nail gun. He used several nails, which probably did more damage than good to his poor foot.

The man walked to Wrench’s side again and placed the nail gun on his right upper arm. The anarchist could practically see the smile behind fucker-two’s mask before he fired. That earned him a small, weak, but heartbreaking scream from Wrench. How a human being could smile at something so foul was beyond him. He went nuts with the gun; nailing both Wrench’s left and right upper arms, elbows, forearmsarms and palms to the table. Wrench screamed and grunted in pain. Blood trickled from so many wounds on his hands and he was unable to wiggle. Fucker-two had literally nailed him to the table.  

Fucker-two, once satisfied with the nail gun, tossed it aside and started to untie his restraints again. Wrench did not have the audacity to move anyways, so why even have them? Fucker-two walked away and Wrench started to struggle weakly, to tug at his arms with slight hope that the nails would release him. That did not happen, though, and as the lunatic returned, he could hear the familiar sound of a sledgehammer scraping against the concrete floor. Wrench was sure he visibly paled when he saw the tool that broke his limps and started to tug on the nails more furiously. Pain flared up and ate his body whole as he tugged and tugged. It was meaningless, but Wrench did not stop. He already had four broken limps – five if you counted the broken nose – he did not want another one.

The sledgehammer was raised over fucker-two’s face, whom probably only felt joy when he saw Wrench's pale and traumatized face. The sledgehammer was a blur as it flew down and crashed on his ribs. Wrench could not scream, he could not breathe and he could not move to cover himself when he saw the sledgehammer above the man’s head a second time. He struggled against the nails that held him down to the table the best he could without causing any more damage, but who was he kidding? Everything within him, every instinct that he had, screamed at him to get away from the horrid tool, to counter attack and to run away.

“Oof,” he grunted when the sledgehammer landed on his ribs again. He coughed and squirmed as blood and pain flowed from the nail-wounds. Blood gurgled from his mouth and his burning lungs flared with each breath he took.

Wrench opened his eyes. He only saw the head of the sledgehammer as it came crashing down on him a third time. The familiar and heart-sinking crack echoed around him and Wrench screamed. He arched his back and heaved. Blood flowed from his throat in larger amount and he couldn’t breathe. He coughed, the red substance splattering all over his hoodie and vest, and pain exploded through his ribs like firecrackers, popping in one place, then the next.

The sledgehammer clattered to the floor and a rough, calloused hand grabbed the collar of Wrench’s vest and pulled. The nails held him down, but the calloused hand kept pulling him upwards. The nails tore at his flesh, the wounds got bigger as blood poured more freely from them. It felt like fire – as if someone had skinned Wrench alive and bathed him in lemon juice. It tore and it burnt and it hurt.

Wrench screamed when fucker-two pulled him free. The nails had torn most of his arms apart, though they were still deeply lodged into the sore flesh. Fucker-two kept pulling until Wrench landed face first into the cold, hard concrete floor. His ribs flared and a small scream escaped his lips. His hands burnt like lava when fucker-two handcuffed them behind his back again, only this time he used additional restraints. He tied his elbows and upper arms together, too,  forcing Wrench into constantly arching his back in a painful way.

Fucker-two walked away, probably to retrieve some more stuff of terror, and Wrench used his semi-alone time to try to rest. His head pounded and his body felt like it was made of stone and spaghetti at the same time. His body and muscles felt stiff like stone, but they also refused to move – they laid there like spaghetti. He was tired, fatigue and hopelessness had taken over and Wrench felt torn and desperate – broken maybe?

A sudden ‘bang’ rang in his ears and Wrench flinched. He had heard the sound, but where was the pain? He was 100% sure that it was a gunshot, unless he had finally lost it. Maybe he heard the distant sounds of things that used to bring joy to his heart and a smile on his face. Maybe that was his brains way of coping with the fucked up situation. Several more bangs from a gun resonated from outside the room, accompanied by the repeating shots of an assault rifle.
Nope, this has to be real, he thought.

The rough, calloused hand of fucker two returned to his head and grabbed a fistful of Wrench’s hair. He pulled the anarchist to a kneeling position and forced a piece of duct tape above his mouth.

“You don’t wanna talk? Fine, don’t talk. In fact, don’t make a sound, you ugly fuck. We’ve got company.”

Company, Wrench mentally questioned.

Just to be a dick, fucker-two slammed his face into the floor twice, before he dragged the semi-unconscious man by his hair. More drops of blood dripped down Wrench’s face from a crack in his forehead. The world was really getting blurry, to the point that black spots appeared in his vision. His head pounded away and felt heavy – like his eyelids – it was made of lead. Wrench didn’t even have the strength to shuffle his knees along. He just let the man drag him forward by his hair and he just let the peaking bone scrape against the floor. He gave no fucks anymore, he was about to lose consciousness.

The man stopped abruptly and fondled with something – a door? It creaked and groaned as fucker-two fondled, and after a moment or two, Wrench was pushed head first to the floor. Only, Wrench never hit the floor – it felt like he went through it. He fell into a puddle of water, and when he opened his eyes, he realized that he had been pushed into a tight space in the floor. Water filled the space, not enough to cover his face, but enough to soak most of his clothes. Cold yet fresh air blew from vents just above the water, but that did nothing good as Wrench started shivering from the cold water and freezing air.

The trapdoor to the small space fell shut and Wrench heard the click of a lock. He laid in a fetal position, the space too small for him to stretch his long, throbbing legs. He turned his face slightly upwards so his nose would remain above the surface. Wrench squirmed in his restraint, but that shot several waves of pain up and down his broken body. He breathed raggedly and his heart pounded away in his chest, probably having a panic attack. Wrench let his tears fall freely from his eyes, not really caring anymore. He felt broken, defeated. The pride he had tried so hard to hold to no longer mattered. He had given up.

Cold tore through his flesh like knives, and goosebumps erupted on his body. He shivered violently. He tried to swallow the large gulps of blood that kept coming in waves into his mouth, the duct tape stopping him from spitting it out. He couldn’t move, though he desperately wanted to. He couldn’t think, though he desperately wanted to. He couldn’t get out, though he desperately wanted too, needed to.

He started to feel the effects of lack of oxygen and the torture he’d endured. His lungs didn’t function nearly as well with a possible rib piercing them. His eyes rolled to the back of his skull again, and this time it did not take a long time at all before the much needed unconsciousness took over his frozen, broken and tired body.

 

**********

 

Marcus kicked the door to the basement open and pointed his gun into the room. Ray was right behind him, also pointing an assaults rifle in case of enemies. There were only two people in the room though, the both of them wearing white jumpsuits and white, faceless masks.

“Put your fucking hands in the air before I fucking shoot them to crumbs!” Marcus shouted and marched forward, pointing his 4N00bs pistol at one of the white-faced motherfuckers. Ray took care of the other one.

They did as told and put their hands in the air. Marcus motioned with his gun for them to gather at a metal table that was covered in blood. He could only pray it didn’t belong to Wrench.

Ray guarded the slenderman wannabes while Marcus searched for his best friend-crush thing, but the anarchist was nowhere to be seen. He found the chair they had broken his bones in, but it was empty. The ceiling chains where they had hung him up were empty too. There was a black tub further into the room. It appeared to be filled with blood-tainted water, the usually blank substance had a red taint to it. Besides that, there were some shelves along the wall with different tools and the empty, bloodied table.

He turned towards the motherfuckers, aimed his gun threating at them, and yelled.

“WHERE THE FUCK IS WRENCH?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: That goddamn Mask.

Marcus’ heart pounded in his chest. He breathed heavily, his stamina slightly worn down from all the killing and running. He and Ray had killed every motherfucker that dared protect the assholes that tortured Wrench without hesitation. He saw red. There was no one else and nothing else, just his current goal. Only one thing repeated itself in his mind as he went on his killing spree.
Where’s Wrench, where’s Wrench, where’s Wrench?

The two white-clad motherfuckers looked at each other as both Ray and Marcus aimed their weapon of choice at them. Marcus trembled profusely. His hands clenched the gun tightly and he gritted his teeth as he waited for the two shit-stains to answer him. He was so pissed, Marcus was sure he would explode any minute.

“We have no idea what you’re talking about,” answered the bloodstained fuck-face.

“Bullshit,” called Ray and took a threatening step forward. He aimed his HHOS assault rifle at the man’s head. “Tell me where the fuck we can find him before I put 30 bullet holes through your bald, fucking head.”

The man turned his masked face to Ray’s direction and lowered his raised arms. He was testing them, Marcus could feel it. The man’s movement practically screamed, ‘what are you going to do about it, shoot me? Your nothing but script kiddies, “deathsekt”.

Marcus marched towards the bloodstained smart-ass and tore his mask off. His bold head shone brightly and his blue eyes seemed dull compared to the piercing blue Wrench hid under his mask. He raised his 4N00bs pistol and shot the asshole in the thigh.

The bold motherfucker screamed and clutched his bleeding thigh as he fell to the floor. Marcus felt no sympathy for the man.

“Listen here, you bold fuck,” Marcus insulted as he crouched down to the man’s level. “Either you tell me where I can find Wrench, or I’ll break your bones like twigs with that sledgehammer of yours.”

“The Wrenches are at the tool boxes over there!” the other man yelled, acting confused about the situation. He pointed to the various shelves that lined the wall behind Marcus.

“So, you want me to believe that you assholes were down here, repairing something? Bitch, I can see the very goddamn chair you broke Wrench’s bones in. And let’s not forget about the chains that are just dangling from the ceiling. What good are they in this little “workshop” of yours?” Marcus askes and gestured towards each of the objects he mentioned in his speech.

“And then there’s the blood covered table and the bold motherfucker with bloodstains on his clothes, how do you explain those,” Ray jumped in.

The bold man grew some courage as he leaned closer to Marcus’ face, a cold glare on his face.

“I ain’t telling you shit!” he spat. “I won’t let that motherfucker out of his little doghouse until you leave, so you best be on your way! That freak will freeze to death; maybe even bleed out, unless you drag your asses out of here.”

Marcus clenched the pistol tighter and grit his teeth. He could feel his heart pound viciously in his chest – hard and fast. A knot grew in his stomach and he glared at the bold motherfucker. Marcus slammed the back end of the pistol in the man’s temple. The man’s face turned with the force and Marcus sighed with delight as satisfaction filled his senses when the man fell unconscious to the floor.

With eyes burning with hatred – cold yet so fiery hot at the same time – he focused his glare to the other man. He looked damn near pissing himself at the wild look Marcus bore on his face.

“Where the fuck is Wrench?” he asked calmly. The calm in his voice contradicted the wilderness in his eyes. He looked like a feral animal, but sounded like soft ocean waves hitting the shore.

The man swallowed an opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. Only a small squeak escaped the foul mouth as it opened again. Marcus waited with patience for the foul creature to form words.

“He-“ the asshole cleared his throat. “ – he is in a hole in the floor, underneath a trapdoor. Over there.” The man pointed towards the location, and surely, there was a trapdoor.

 It was locked with a padlock, the key nowhere to be found. It was smart to use an actual, physical key rather than an electronic one, considering they messed with hackers. It was easier for Marcus and the gang to find electronic keys rather than physical keys – those didn’t appear on NetHack with bold, red letters.

“Where’s the key?” Marcus asked. The wild in his eyes had dimmed, but his voice sounded the same.

The scared man shoved his hands into his pockets and dug out a pair of two keys. Marcus ripped the keys from the man’s shaking hands and marched towards the padlocked trapdoor. The first key he tried didn’t fit so he shuffled the keys and tried the other one. That one fit, and with a click, the padlock unlocked.

Marcus’s heart beat with anticipation as he discarded the padlock. He put the 4N00bs pistol away and used both hands to grab the handle of the trapdoor. Faster and faster his heart beat as the door opened more and more. Finally, the trapdoor was opened and crashed on the floor behind the hole with a loud ‘clang’.

Marcus’ breath hitched when he saw the body inside. His mouth opened in a silent gasp and his mind was unable to comprehend what he saw. Wrench was in a fetal position due to the small space they had forced him in. The water he was in had become a dark red, almost matching the color of his blood.

The hipster reached down to Wrench, lifted him up bridal style, and almost flinched. Wrench was cold. It was as if Marcus had picked up a snowman. His stomach moved at the sight and Marcus had the sudden need to throw up. His eyes were directed towards the broken leg where Wrench’s bone peaked out. It looked like someone had tried to stitch it back together with nails, but it was done horribly. The bone was still visible and some of Wrench’s flesh and muscles just dangled freely without any purpose. Blood still poured from the flesh wound and the water did nothing to stop the flow. It only made the blood thinner and more pourable.

Marcus put Wrench down on the floor carefully and finally examined his best friend-crush-thing’s face. He was pale – paler than he remembered when he returned the anarchist mask after the FBI had stolen it – and the black piece of duct tape over his mouth only made his pale face all the more paler. Blood trickled from his nose and a wound on his forehead, painting some of the silver strands red.

Finally, he noticed his cuffed hands. The position Wrench was forced into looked painful and Marcus looked around the floor, searching for the keys he had carelessly thrown away when he had opened the trapdoor. Once he had spotted them, he hurriedly made his way to pick them up; he didn’t want Wrench to be in such an uncomfortable position any longer than he had to.

He cautiously lifted Wrench into a sitting position and sat down behind him. He unlocked the cuffs, untied the ropes around his elbows and upper arms, and leaned his broken body against his own chest. He felt for a pulse, which beat at the pace of a snail – too slow for Marcus’ liking. He grabbed the anarchist’s chin and raised his face. Slowly, he pulled off the duct tape and a huge wad of blood that had been pooling up inside Wrench’s mouth poured out.

“Shit, Wrench,” Marcus whispered and held the anarchist’s broken body close. The cold radiated from him and Marcus held him tighter, trying to melt the cold away with his warmth.

Marcus’s fast heartbeat had slowed down a bit, now beating heavy. A lump had grown in his throat and his eyes glazed over with unshed tears. Images of Horatio’s death flashed in his head and he closed his eyes.
Wrench will not die, I won’t allow it, he thought.

A ‘thud’ reached his ear, followed by another, louder ‘thud’. Marcus turned towards Ray, who had knocked the scaredy-cat unconscious. He latched the HHOS assault rifle onto his back, made his way towards Marcus and Wrench, and let his eyes scan the body in the hipster’s arms.

“Jesus Christ,” the older man whispered and crouched down before the broken body. He grabbed Wrench’s right hand and visibly flinched. “They nailed his fucking hands, too?” said Ray, louder this time.

“What?” asked Marcus. His eyes widened in shock and he scanned the arms of his best friend-crush-thing. Nails lay deeply embedded up and down his arms, blood seeped through the torn flesh.

Something exploded within Marcus. His whole body was on fire; his mind was consumed by it. He held the broken body tighter to his own and gritted his teeth. He would not let anyone hurt Wrench again. Marcus thought back to all the horrible things they did to him and he clutched the unconscious body even closer, almost as if the wounds and all the damage inflicted on him would disappear if he did so.

“Those fucking assholes,” Marcus said through gritted teeth. “I would kill them again if I hadn’t already! Then I’d kill them again!”

“Let’s re-kill those motherfuckers later. Now we should focus on keeping our motherfucker alive,” said Ray.

Marcus nodded his head, but the fire within him still burnt brightly. It was hot and dangerous and ready to burst any moment – he was a volcano, and his anger was the lava.

“Okay,” Ray clapped his hands together. “Marcus -” the hipster’s angry eyes met Ray’s stern ones. “- Take off his hoodie.”

Marcus’ eyes widened and his heart skipped a beat. He was also pretty sure a pink taint covered his dark cheeks. “What?”

Ray rolled his eyes at the hipster’s reaction. “Wrench is suffering from hypothermia. He’s cold as fuck and not shivering, which is a bad sign. The body stops shivering to conserve energy when he’s close to dying. That way, he don’t die as fast.” Explained Ray.

Marcus looked down at the slumped, unconscious body. Wrench was freezing, like touching a corpse except ten times worse, but what good would taking off his hoodie do. Unless they had a hoodie to spare, which they did not, Marcus was sure it would do Wrench nothing good to strip him of his clothing.

“Yeah, I know what hypothermia is, but what good will stripping him of his clothes do? We don’t have a hoodie to spare.”

“His hoodie is soaking wet with freezing water. It’s probably making the hypothermia worse at this point.”

Marcus nodded. The hoodie and the spiked vest were really cold. His hands already felt numb from holding the cold body close to him.

“You also have to take off your hoodie and give it to Wrench.”

The red taint returned to his cheeks. “Ray, now your just fucking with me. I have nothing under this hoodie.”

“So?” Ray asked dumbfounded. “Wrench needs it more than you. While you exchange clothes with him, I will contact Josh and Sitara and figure out a way to patch him up all the while avoiding a hospital” Ray rose to his feet again and looked sternly into Marcus’ eyes. “Okay?”

Marcus nodded. “Yeah.”

“Good.”

Marcus looked down at Wrench again and his heart skipped another beat. All this beat skipping couldn’t possibly be good for his health, but Marcus – or rather Marcus’ heart – couldn’t help it. He’s had a crush on Wrench since he saw the anarchist’s face for the first. A feeling of bliss surged through his body and mind every time they spent time together; if he felt any pressure, it would lift from his shoulders; he’d become happy when he was sad and if he felt angry, Wrench would always know the best way to blow off some steam. And now, he got to strip the anarchist of his hoodie and replace it with his own. Marcus wanted to deny it, but he felt some kind of excitement – a guilty pleasure.

He knew the situation was not to be taken lightly. The way they had tortured Wrench and stuffed him into a small hole filled with freezing water filled Marcus to the brim with boiling, hot anger. The way Wrench lay lifeless against Marcus’ chest had his stomach churn and his heart sink like an anchor. He trembled with worry for the anarchist, but his little schoolgirl-crush had him feeling excited – and Marcus despised himself.

He adjusted Wrench’s body so the back of his head rested against Marcus’ shoulder. He moved his hands to the collar of the anarchist’s vest and pulled it off. He had to pull Wrench slightly forward to get the heavy piece of spikey fabric off him. Then, Marcus moved his hands to the hem of the black hoodie he knew all to well.  Slowly and with shaking hands, Marcus pulled the hem upwards.

He had no idea why, but a huge pang of nervousness surged through Marcus. He felt like he invaded Wrench’s privacy. It was as if he would wake up any minute and catch Marcus in an act of pervert-ism - an act of harassment.

He pulled the hoodie over Wrench’s head and sighed in relief when piercing blue eyes remained closed. Of course they would remain close; Wrench would probably rest for a while. He threaded the anarchist’s broken hands carefully through the sleeves and placed the soaking hoodie on top of the discarded vest.

“What the fuck?” Marcus whispered at the sight of Wrench’s body.

It was pale, just like his face, but huge spots of purple covered most of his stomach and chest. Purple completely covered the ‘WRENCH’ tattoo and the middle finger on his stomach. Other tattoos on his chest – tattoos Marcus had never seen before, even on the Swelter Skelter due to the shoulder pads – were tainted purple as well. There was also an ugly bruise around his throat from the choking.

Marcus realized he was staring instead of doing what he was supposed to, and removed his own hoodie as quickly as he could while not hurting Wrench any further. There was a moment when Marcus’ bare chest touched Wrench’s bare back, and another beat was skipped. The fire within him burst to life again, but this time it wasn’t anger. It was something better, lighter. The feeling of pressure being lifted from his shoulder and of sadness turning to happiness. It was the feeling of bliss – bliss only Wrench could awaken.

Marcus shook his head.
Jesus Christ, Marcus, he told himself. Creepiness overload.

Ray returned when Marcus had finally pulled the hem of his hoodie down Wrench’s body. The old man noticed the still visible blush on Marcus’ cheeks and shook his head again. Marcus wondered what Ray was thinking. Was it stupid for him to be blushing because his bare chest touched Wrench’s bare back? Or Maybe it was stupid for him to have a crush for his best friend in the first place. He knew it was stupid for him to have these reactions on times like these, when Wrench was literally dying in his arms.

“We need to get out of here; Wrench won’t make it if we stick around any longer.” Ray said and gestured for Marcus to get his ass off the floor. He, himself, bent down and picked up the wet, spikey vest and ‘I am dedsec’ hoodie.

Marcus nodded and did as Ray gestured. He carried Wrench bridal style across the room, blood still dripped from some of the anarchist’s wounds as they hurriedly made their way outside the building. “Where are we taking him, though? As you said, we can’t exactly bring him to the hospital, he’s a wanted man.”

“Oh, we’re bringing him to the hospital, alright. They’re the only people with the skillset it takes to deal with this… shit,” Ray answered and gestured to Wrench, mostly the peaking bone.

“He’ll get arrested,” Marcus argued, unconsciously holding the broken anarchist closer as they ascended the stairs. His heart sank further and the worry returned.
Marcus wondered, Hasn’t he been through enough? Are we going to get him arrested too?

“Can’t we ask some doctors if they are willing to help us at the hackerspace, or… hell, even in my apartment?”

“No,” replied Ray. “Your apartment and the hackerspace aren’t very hygienic places to perform surgery, now are they?”

Marcus slumped his shoulders in defeat. He knew Ray was right. The safest place to glue Wrench back together was at a hospital, but how in the hell were they supposed to get Wrench in without alerting the police and the FBI. Now that Dusan was out of their way, there was no one stopping them from sending Wrench to Gitmo.

They got out of the building and entered the stolen Vespid 5.2 they used to get there. Marcus put Wrench down in the backseat before he too climbed in. He placed Wrench’s head onto his lap and started to unconsciously stroke the silver strands.

“Josh and Sitara asked around in your little fan-base while we were busy blowin’ heads and spilling blood,” Ray explained and started the car, which roared to life. “Apparently there are two followers that are doctors who are willing to help.”

“Really?” Marcus asked. Ray nodded. “That still don’t explain how we’re gonna get him in without playing cops and robbers with the FBI.”

Ray sighed. “We’ll meet Sitara and Josh along with the two doctors at the hospital in the Marine. We’ll sneak Wrench through the back, and voila. No one will be alerted that we are even there.”

“Won’t the other doctors ask why our doctors aren’t available?”

“They said they would handle that part."

Was it really that easy, though? They sneak him in through the back, just like that? They could hack into the surveillance cameras and stop them from recording, so that was the least of their problems. Would there be security guards? Could they trust the two doctors? What if they were molds? Anyone could download the dedsec app and become a follower, even FBI agents.

“Are they doing this for free?” Marcus asked.

“No. They wanted a little something in return, which is understandable. They are committing a crime here, and could risk being fired and get a criminal record if they don’t already have one. That’s highly doubtful, though.”

Marcus nodded. He could understand, so whether they did it for free or for a small amount of money did nothing to determine whether they could be trusted or not. He would just have to judge them when they met. Marcus wasn’t a bad judge of character and if the two doctors gave him bad vibes he’d place his 4N00bs pistol into their temples and blow some more heads and spill some more blood.

“Listen,” said Ray, catching up on Marcus’ uncertainty towards the doctors. “I’m… reluctant to let them tamper with Wrench too. We’ve never met them before and this could be a trap, but what other options do we have?”

Again, Ray was right. What other options did they have? They patch him up themselves? Wrench would die faster than you could say John Travolta if they were in charge of his wounds. Josh would probably pass out and Sitara would vomit. So yeah, what other options did they have?

Marcus looked down on the person on his lap. He stroked the mark that reached Wrench’s left eye and wondered what it was. Was it a birthmark or a burn mark? A mark he was born with or a scar inflicted on him? Was the scar-burn mark-thing the reason Wrench wore the mask or was there another reason? There were so many things Marcus did not know about the anarchist, it was almost as if he was holding a stranger.

The hipster went back to stroking the anarchist’s hair and his cheek. Wrench looked so peaceful with his eyes closed like that. Had it not been for the blood that stained his chin and some of his cheek and a few strands of his hair. This was the second time Marcus had seen Wrench’s face, and it was once again without Wrench’s permission. The anarchist didn’t necessary want Marcus to see his face this time ether, but he was forced to when those fuckers stripped him of his mask. Marcus sensed a pattern, but he didn’t like it. The next time he saw Wrench’s face, he wanted Wrench to be the one to take off the mask, not some FBI motherfucker or a spycho torturer.

Marcus felt the sinking feeling of his heavy, beating heart at the thought. Why couldn’t they leave Wrench and his mask alone?

The car came to a halt. Ray turned the engine off and said, “We’re here.” Then he exited the Vespid 5.2.

Marcus gently lifted Wrench’s head off his lap and exited the car, too, then lifted the anarchist bridal style. A loud gasp reached Marcus’ ears, and upon turning around, he saw the shocked expression of Sitara and the semi-shocked expression of Josh. Both of their eyes scanned Wrench’s body, but due to Marcus’s hoodie hiding most of the damage, their eyes settled on the peaking bone and the loose piece of flesh that dangled from the leg.

Sitara turned green at the sight and averted her eyes from the horrid leg. She met Marcus’ brown ones instead and slightly shook her head. “I know you’ve got the hots for Wrench, Marcus, but that’s no reason to get shirtless in this situation,” she joked, trying to lighten the mood.

Marcus blushed, not finding the joke funny at all. How did everyone know? Was it that obvious? Either way, this was no time to joke around. Wrench was dying in his arms, and unless they did something about it fast, he would end up as lifeless as a wrench – pun semi-intended.

“Ha-ha, Sitara,” Marcus laughed sarcastically. “For your information, I had to give Wrench my hoodie because he was suffering from a bad case of hypothermia by the time we got there, and his own soaking clothes only helped the hypothermia evolve into what could’ve been a serious case of death.”

Sitara raised her hand as, what Marcus assumed was the back door to the big, white building opened. One man and a woman clad in white rushed out, dragging a hospital bed behind them.

“Good evening, fellas. My name is Dr. Steve Snow, and this,” he gestured towards the woman, “is Dr. Scarlett Reedwood.”

The woman, Scarlett, waved an awkward, little wave before she rushed to Marcus with the hospital bed. She eyed the shirtless man with confusion.

“I had to give him my hoodie.” Marcus explained and Scarlett raised an eyebrow. “Hypothermia.”

She pursed her lips in a silent ‘oh’ as she nodded her head. “Lay him down here,” she ordered and pulled the hospital bed closer to Marcus.

Marcus did as told and placed Wrench on the portable hospital bed. Scarlett put two fingers against Wrench’s neck and focused on her wristwatch as she checked his pulse. Steve started to push the bed inside while she counted each beat of Wrench’s heart.

“We need to hurry, Dr. Snow,” she informed as she averted her eyes from the watch. They rushed down a hallway, Marcus and the gang right behind them. “He’s not stable.”

And yet another beat was skipped. Marcus’ eyes widened at their words and his heart picked up speed. He knew Wrench was dying, but hearing two professionals confirm it made the situation all the more real. Not stable? What did that mean?

“Do any of you know what happened to him? Just a quick summary. It’ll be easier for us to look for damage if we know what to look for and where,” Steve asked as they jogged down the hallway.

Marcus swallowed the lump in his throat and exhaled. “They crushed his wrists, broke his legs not-so-clean off,” Marcus summarized, his voice cracked as he recalled the video they had seen. “I think they nailed his hands too?” Marcus wasn’t sure, he didn’t stick around to watch the other video, neither did Ray.

“Yes,” Josh, who had remained silent, finally spoke. “But before that they performed water torture on him. Before that, they beat him and caused more damage to his left leg. Then they dragged him to a table, nailed his left leg bone together, and nailed him to the table. Then they broke his ribs. Then they cracked his skull… then they locked him into the hole in the floor.”

The doctor nodded and wrote the methods of torture on his notepad.

“Oh, and they shot him. Twice, once in the thigh and once in his right side,” Josh continued.  “And stabbed his left shoulder.”

Steve kept writing in his notepad while Marcus stared utterly horrified at Josh. His sunken heart sank further and the lump in his throat grew bigger. Unshed tears gathered in his eyes as he pictured the terror they inflicted on Wrench. How is he not dead? Horatio died from less. He watched the unconscious body of his best friend-crush thing and prayed, hoped and wished with all his heart that Wrench would survive.

"And they probably broke a rib or two."

“How is he even alive?” muttered Dr. Steve after Josh said that last sentence. He scribbled the damage down on the notepad.

They arrived at a room and Scarlet disappeared inside with Wrench. Dr. Steve remained outside to halt Marcus and the gang, denying them entry. “We’ll handle it from here. You can wait in the waiting room for any further information or you can go home, wherever the home of dedsec is.”

“How long will this take?” asked Marcus, his voice cracked.

“We’re not sure. It will take as long as it takes, but it will take a while. All that damage Josh described won’t just magically heal in five minutes.” Steve was about to go into the surgery room, but stopped in his track. “We can get you another shirt if you’re waiting in the waiting room?” he asked.

Marcus nodded, not even bothered by the fact that he had to sit in the waiting room shirtless, but since he was offered another piece of clothing, why not accept it?

Dr. Steve patted Marcus’ shoulder and headed inside the surgery room. Marcus turned towards the group, unshed tears still glazing his eyes. “I don’t know about you, but I’ll wait in the waiting room.” he said.

He received more pats on his shoulder. One of the hands never left, and upon trailing the arm to its owner, he locked eyes the soft, brown eyes of Raymond Kenney.

“We’ll all wait in the waiting room, son.”

Marcus nodded and grimly made his way to said location, the rest of the group grimly following him.

 

**********

 

They sat in the waiting room for hours; none said a word. There were a few other people in there too, seemingly distressed, but they paid the group of dedsec members no mind. Sitara left to get food at some point, Josh was tapping away on his laptop and Marcus sat silently, clutching Wrench’s broken mask as if Wrench’s life depended on it. He wasn’t shirtless anymore, the doctors had did as promised and offered him a new piece of clothing, which was a white hospital shirt, but at least he didn’t have to be shirtless anymore. Ray was quiet, too, as he pondered and thought.

That was the first time Ray had seen the Kid’s face, and even though there was nothing particularly special about it – except from the mark – Ray was not able to think about something else. It seemed familiar somehow, but that was impossible – the kid never left without his mask. It was Deja vu - a distant memory that Ray couldn’t seem to remember, but there was something familiar about that face. It was gnawing at his mind, at the very tip of his tongue, it was teasing and mocking him and Ray found it frustrating that he was unable to think of why Wrench seemed familiar.

The door to the waiting room opened and in came Sitara with food for everyone. Josh took the food, eyes never leaving the PC screen. He seemed very unaffected by the situation, but who knew what went through that kid’s mind. Maybe tapping away on the computer was his way of dealing with this shit. Ray also accepted the food Sitara had kindly brought to him, nodding a small ‘thank you’ to her. She nodded her head in return.

Marcus, however, did not accept the food. Eyes still on the broken, glitching mask, he whispered, “I’m not hungry.”

Sitara sighed and sat down beside the moping hipster and placed the food on her lap. “Look, Marcus,” she said. Once Marcus met her eyes, she continued. “I know this is hard for you, because of the crush and all, but you can’t not eat.”

Pink tainted Marcus’ cheeks again and he looked away. When Sitara was sure he wasn’t going to reply back, she continued, “It’s hard for all of us, Marcus. Yes, we do call him a very irritating pervert, but that doesn’t mean he’s not our friend. We already have one friend almost tortured to death; we don’t need another one starving to death too. Please, eat.” She pushed the subway towards Marcus, who accepted the crappy cafeteria food this time. Sitara smiled in triumph, patted Marcus’ shoulders and sat down beside Josh.

Ray never averted his eyes from the moping hipster though. His eyes traveled to the broken mask in Marcus’ hands and he wondered if he would be able to fix it if he tried. Wrench wouldn’t be able to do anything about the glitching wreck anyway. The cast would be a problem, and even of his hands didn’t need as long time to heal as his feet, he still had to go through physical therapy due to the muscle trauma the torture most likely caused. Ray had always wondered, from the moment they properly introduced themselves in the hackerspace after the Swelter Skelter, how the mask operated. This was his chance to find out.

The door to the waiting room opened again, and Marcus perked at the sight of a white coat - like a dog whose owner had returned. His shoulder slumped again, though, when he realized that it was neither Dr. Steve nor Dr. Scarlett. The doctor sent Marcus an apologetic look as he headed for the other group of people that sat in the room.

“Fucking damn it,” sighed Marcus and continued to stare at the mask.

And there they sat, for hours and hours to no end.

 

 ********** 

 

Josh watched as the doctor talked to the other group and he watched as the other group jumped in joy. They hugged the doctor and thanked him a hundred times.
Good news, then, Josh thought and turned his attention back to the laptop. Good for them.

Josh tried to find something that led them to the people who wanted the information on dedsec. He found it weird that the torture group had nothing to do with hacking whatsoever. If they had nothing to do with hacking, then why did they want to know about dedsec? The answer was simple; someone had hired them. Then came the not so simple question, who had hired them?

Josh searched through codes upon codes and even went as far as to use the satellites, but Josh received too much data. It would take him forever and more to go through them all alone. He would have to ask the others for help, but that could wait until after they knew whether Wrench would be okay or not.

Since Josh had got that covered, he tried to hack into Wrench’s computer. He wanted to fix the mask for him, but - though Josh was reluctant to admit - he did not know how. He knew Wrench was a great engineer, but Josh liked to think of himself as a better one. He was the one who made the blueprints for the giant drone; Wrench only helped to build it and provided a place to build it with his garage. While Wrench only made petty guns and weapons, Josh made more advanced stuff like the quadcopter and the jumper; at least that’s what he himself thought.

Therefore, when Josh first met the Wrench, a brilliant engineer, he wanted to prove to everyone that he was the better one. As a challenge, Wrench had dared him to build a mask like his, only then would Wrench accept Josh as a better engineer than him - but until then, they would remain equal. Josh was defeated when he found it impossible to make such a mask; and he had no idea what he did wrong either. Wrench refused to show him too, saying, “A true magician never reveals his secrets,” in that fake, British accent of his.

The two of them became sort of rivals after that; the one always trying to better the other, like cats and dogs. At one point, as their arguing had gotten more frequent, Horatio started to film every time they were at each other’s throats. Sitara edited all the videos and added that obnoxious ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ song. Wrench seemed to like the end result, but Josh despised it.

Josh managed to break down Wrench’s several firewalls after ten minutes. His firewall and code in general was fairly unique, filled with bathroom humor and cheesy lines from superhero movies. If you did not know hacking as well as Josh, trying to tear down Wrench’s firewall would lead you to a dead end with two, simple words, “Fuck you.” Josh had fallen for that trick the first time he tried to hack into the anarchist’s computer, but not this time.

Josh hacked into his computer the first time to see if the blueprints to his mask was there, but of course it wasn’t. Josh hacked into it now to see if there was some traces of it; e-mails, documents or Facebook messages, anything that could be a hint to the blueprints. There was no way he had it all in that twisted head of his.

But there was no traces of it.

Josh sighed. “God damn it,” he whispered to himself.

Josh turned his attention to the broken, glitching mask in Marcus’ hands and glared.
How are you even working, you’re too broken to work, Josh asked the mask in his head.

The door opened and everyone perked at the sight of Dr. Reedwood. Marcus jumped from his seat while the rest straightened their backs. All eyes were on her, waiting in anticipation for her to speak.

“Well,” said Marcus, his patience running thin.

Dr. Reedwood cleared her throat and smiled at the gang.

“He’s alive and stable.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Sugar, spice and everything you despise

Marcus, Josh, Ray and Sitara stood in a half circle around the hipster’s bed in his apartment, all eyes directed at the unconscious body that occupied the space there. Three out of four had their arms crossed in front of their chests – all except from Josh who let his hands hang loosely by his sides – as they examined Wrench’s lifeless form.

“This is weird,” said Sitara. The others nodded.

“The clothes are too white,” stated Marcus.

“The casts are too… plain,” mumbled Ray.

“His face is too… not spikey?” questioned Josh.

They all nodded, for there, on Marcus’ bed, lay Wrench in bright, white hospital clothes adorned with white, bright casts on both his arms and legs. White bandages also covered most of his body; the arms where they nailed him, the fractured skull and the nose they had broken. There wasn’t a single dark color around him, even his hair was a bright silver, and Marcus’ bright blue bed sheets did not help.

“We should do something about that,” said Sitara and tilted her head to the side.

“The not spikey face?” asked Josh, looking slightly horrified at Sitara.

“No, the plain casts,” she answered.

“Oh…”

Silence befell the group again as they once again studied the peaceful sleeping face of The Wrench. An IV was attached to his left arm, providing him with the nourishment he needed to live. Doctor Steve and Scarlett would bring the nourishment as long as the group paid them. The stuff wasn’t free, Marcus understood that. They wanted more money than necessary, though, because of the risk they went through by smuggling the IV bags outside hospital grounds, and due to Wrench’s wanted status, it would be too dangerous for him to remain in the hospital. They would come in for weekly visits, though, to check up on Wrench and how his recovery was doing.

“We could sign our names,” suggested Josh.

“And make some badass drawings that just scream ‘Wrench’,” added Marcus.

“I could paint the leg, something like ‘highly loved, deeply missed’, something overdramatic,” Sitara jumped in.

“I feel like we should draw the middle finger somewhere,” muttered Ray.

They all nodded in agreement. Marcus’ insides felt heavy; his heart, his head and his lungs. A lump had permanently grown in his throat and he felt exhausted – as if he had run to the other end of America and back. He felt relieved that Wrench was safe and stable, but he still remembered the words the doctors had told them after Wrench’s surgery.

“… if he wakes up…”

Not when, but if. They said that the cause of the coma was most likely due to traumatic head injury, which could be car crashes or – in his case – acts of violence. Because of that, it was impossible to tell how long it would take Wrench’s head to recover and wake up – if he woke up.

“Yeah,” Marcus nodded, his voice low, like a whisper. “We should do that.”

“I’ll go to the hackerspace and get my supplies,” said Sitara end exited the room.

The left leg was clearly the worst injury. The doctors had to bolt the bone back together with three screws after they tore out the nails the torturer had put there. They said they would have used a rod to straighten the bone, but due to the lose muscle tissue they had to sew back on his leg; they couldn’t do that because that would damage the tissue. Both his wrists were completely crushed, which led to two more surgeries. His right foot, though, was just broken and could properly heal itself with a cast. His fractured ribs would heal on their own in about six to eight weeks unless they applied any pressure to his chest area. They wrapped the shoulder they had stabbed in gauze and stitched it back together along with the gunshot wounds on his side and thigh. They ripped the nails from his flesh and applied gauze to the injured areas, the punctured flesh wasn’t big enough for stiches. They also applied gauze to the cracked skull. All in all, Wrench was in that room for about 15 hours.

They waited in the waiting room for 15 hours.

Ray suggested that they bring Wrench to his own place, but the realization that none of the gang knew where Wrench even lived crashed upon them like an avalanche. They could not bring him to the hackerspace and Wrench’s garage because of the lack of a bed and Sitara said she’d feel awkward with an unconscious Wrench in her apartment. First, she felt like looking at his exposed face was a crime, second; though they were friends, they weren’t as close. Josh straight up refused to have the anarchist in his apartment, which resulted that they brought him to Marcus’ place. Not that he complained – Wrench was his best friend and his crush, he’d love to watch out for the anarchist.

“I always imagined that he had dark hair,” Ray muttered and squinted his eyes at the silver strands that partly covered the anarchist’s eyes. “Like dark brown or black or somethin’.”

Marcus looked dumfounded at Ray who never averted his eyes from the sleeping anarchist. “Some of his hair always, literally always pokes out from under the hood, man. How could you not see the bright color?”

Ray raised his hands, “Hey, I can’t just study a man who clearly don’t want to be studied. You’re the one with a crush here, it ain’t me.”

Marcus sighed and rubbed his tired eyes. He was not in the mood for teasing. He hadn’t slept for over 20 hours and his sore muscles felt like sticks, stiff like a metal pole. They cracked and flared with pain with every movement and he longed to get some well-deserved rest, but first – give Wrench’s dull casts and gauzes some personality.

“I have a question,” Josh said. “Well, more like a request.”

“What’s up, Josh?” asked Marcus.

“I have been trying to track down any clues that may lead to the people who hired the people who tortured Wrench.” Josh explained.

Both Ray and Marcus turned to look at the awkward hacker. “Hired?” asked Marcus.

“They were hired?” Ray butted in.

“I do believe so, yes. The torture group had nothing to do with hacking, and I find it suspicious that they would want to know about dedsec if they had nothing to do with us.”

“Well, what do you need help for, then?” questioned Ray.

“I have received a lot of data, too much for me to go through myself.”

“We’ll help,” said Marcus. For Wrench, he added in his head, but if he said it aloud, he would surely be teased.

“Thanks,” Josh said as monotone as ever and proceeded to look at his rival.

Marcus was unable to describe their silence. It wasn’t awkward nor was it the funeral-silence they shared after they saw Wrench’s abduction. It was a thoughtful silence, the kind a teacher would experience during a big test or an exam. A silence where everybody was too busy thinking and pondering to utter a word.

Marcus wondered what the others were thinking. Josh probably thought about the clues and data he had collected, but what went through Ray’s mind? He was the Raymond Kenney, T-bone, the legendary man behind the 2003 blackout and the man who helped the fox of Chicago. Smart, not wasting a single thought on unimportant things, and the way he was staring at Wrench – eyes squinted and left hand stroking his beard in a thoughtful manner – made Marcus shift from one foot to the other and clench and unclench his sweaty fists repeatedly.

Was he judging the anarchist? God knew that if he did, Marcus would not hesitate to bash his skull with some common sense – also known as the butt of a gun. Who was Raymond Kenney to judge someone, anyway? Marcus had a feeling that was not the case though, because, really – who was Raymond Kenney to judge someone? The thought alone was stupid. Nevertheless, there was something going through Ray’s mind, and Marcus was somewhat curious as to what it was.

He averted his eyes from the elder man and rested them upon his best friend-crush-thing. His heavy heart felt heavier every time his tired eyes landed on his peaceful-looking face. How would Wrench react when – if – he woke up? Would he be his same, old, crude self and pretend as if nothing happened, or would he be like he was when Marcus returned his mask after the whole FBI fiasco – shy, quiet, and maybe a little sad? Marcus hoped for the last one, actually. He wanted Wrench to open up to him and talk to him. Besides, bottling up emotions and feelings could be dangerous, and with a guy as self-destructive as Wrench, thing most likely wouldn’t be pretty. It wasn’t like he would be able to just walk away to his garage and smash toasters or whatever after he regained his consciousness either, so who knew what would happen once he had to let those emotions out.

The door to his apartment opened and closed, and in walked Sitara with two bags of drawing and painting supplies. “Alright, let’s get this party started,” she mused, a big smile plastered on her face.

She opened one of the bags and took out painting and paintbrushes. Marcus crouched down to the other bag and opened it. It was filled with pro markers in every color one could imagine. Marcus thought she would bring pencils, but when he thought twice about it; markers were probably better on casts and gauzes.

He picked up a pro marker that appeared to be red and read the name of the color, “Lipstick red?” he looked questionably to Sitara. “Does a color called lipstick red really exist?”

“Well, obviously,” she answered and proceeded to put on a plastic apron. “But do you really think lipstick red is the prefect color for Wrench? I was thinking more black and grey.”

Marcus put down the lipstick red marker and grabbed a ‘Ruby Red’ one instead, “Nah, I just wanna fuck with him,” he said with a small smirk.

Sitara shrugged as Josh picked up another marker, this one looked pink. Marcus bent over to look at the marker, which read ‘Neon Pink’, and Marcus snorted. Wrench was going to look so pretty. Josh had this evil glint in his eyes that the hipster had never seen before.

“Let’s do this,” Josh mused with an evil smile, his brown eyes cast towards the sleeping anarchist.

Marcus shook his head and smiled at Josh. He had to admit, he sort of felt bad about Wrench’s behalf, but he wasn’t going to stop Josh either. He had no idea what Josh was thinking, but he knew that the two of them were sort of rivals. This was going to be interesting.

“Alright, let’s Wrench-ify this shit.” Marcus said and approached the anarchist with the ruby red pro marker.

 

**********

 

Four people, four casted limps and four different art styles; they were at it for an hour and a half, but it felt like forever. Marcus’s neck was even stiffer than it had been before from looking down at the casts for a long period of time. His back hurt from the crouched position and every bone in his body cracked when he tried to move.

 Sitara took the left leg, as she had said. It was painted with neon green, black, grey and some neon pink. She had painted three gravestone, much like the gravestones they used in their many dedsec graffiti, except these said ‘RIP Loyal left leg’, ‘Highly loved, Deeply missed’, and ‘In memory of a heroic leg’. She had painted the reaper that sucked the leg ghost out of a torn off leg and she had also written several puns like ‘Mom told be to break a leg on audition. Now I’m in the cast’, and ‘do you like puns? No, I can’t stand them’. She also signed her name with beautiful, fancy handwriting in the same purple color that adorned her hair.

Ray had the right leg. He used Sitara’s painting and painted the entire cast neon green. On the neon green painting, he had written with a black pro marker, ‘Why is your foot glowing? Put your NEON the table and let’s check’. He also added many middle fingers and tried to copy the ‘WRENCH’ tattoo, which was just Ray writing ‘WRENCH’ with bald letters. He also signed his name with the same black pro marker and surprisingly good handwriting, ‘Raymond “T-Bone” Kenney’.

Marcus had the left arm. He used the ruby red pro marker, black pro marker and green pro marker. With the black pro marker, he drew two wrenches – one hollow and the other filled with the black pro marker. With the green marker, he drew the face of Wrench Jr., a dick, Shrek’s head and ‘I’M REGINALD’ in bald letters. With the ruby red marker, he drew everything girly; hearts, diamonds, stars, lips, eyes, strawberries, lipsticks and flowers. He also signed his name with the red marker, writing ‘Marky Mark’ with his rough handwriting.

Josh, who had the right arm, went bad-shit-crazy with the neon pink marker; drawing cats, dogs, horses, stingrays, dolphins and hello kitties. He wrote ‘I love animals’ within a hollow heart and drew many paw prints on the cast. He wrote ‘BLUME SUPORTER’ in bald letters, ‘ctOS is love’ and ‘Josh is always right’. He also signed his name as ‘Hawt Sauce’.

Marcus smiled at the work they had done and shook his head. Wrench, we’re your friends, he thought, but we’ll decorate your wounds with sugar, spice and everything you despise.

When they were done and the painting Ray and Sitara had used was dry, everyone except Marcus left. He sighed with relief when he was finally alone. His eyes felt like led and they burned with exhaustion. He wanted nothing more than to crawl in bed and sleep, but there was already someone occupying his bed.  

He turned to look at Wrench, now decorated with puns, girly stuff and everything he hates, and stared. What should he do? Lay in bed with Wrench? Was he allowed to do that? The last thing Sitara said before she closed his apartment door behind her was, “don’t be creepy”, but wasn’t getting in bed with his crush – who may not like him back – considered creepy? Marcus had no idea what to do.

He went to the bathroom and brushed his teeth. He had been awake for over 24 hours, his brain was pudding and his body was at the edge of collapsing. He did not have the energy to even think about what he should or shouldn’t do anymore, so when he finished in the bathroom and changed to his PJ’s – batman themed flannel pants, no shirt – he crawled into bed, hugged Wrench’s decorated form close to him and closed his eyes.

He felt bliss and ecstasy as he finally got to sleep next to his crush, but – much like when his bare chest touched Wrench’s bare back – it was a guilty pleasure. It felt wrong, criminal almost, to feel joy at snuggling up against someone who wasn’t able to give his consent. Especially if that someone was Wrench, private, mysterious, almost stranger Wrench, but Marcus didn’t have the energy to even care. He was lying next to the anarchist and he was happy.

He nuzzled his face in the crook of Wrench’s neck and sighed. The anarchist smelled like a hospital – not like motor oil, gunpowder and that something extra Marcus was unable to decipher like he usually did. It didn’t matter at the moment, though. Just the fact that it was the crook of The Wrench’s neck he was nuzzled against was enough for Marcus to fall asleep with a smile.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: My sweet, huggable vegetable

Marcus sighed and rubbed debris from his eyes. He’d been scrolling through Josh’s data for weeks and, frankly, he was getting sick of it. nothing interesting was even mention and his mind came up with fifty other things – funnier things – he could do instead. He could turn on the TV and watch a superhero movie on Netflix while he got all cuddled up with Wrench, he could cook a nice dinner or he could go out and fuck with people. Instead, he sat on the bed – besides the unconscious anarchist – and scrolled through the devil’s data, he ate leftover takeaway and bored the shit out of himself – all in favor for the one and only Wrench.

He sighed again and turned his droopy eyes towards the sleeping man in question. He slept ever so peacefully; eyes closed, mouth slightly opened and chest rising and falling with each heavy breath he took. Wrench hadn’t moved a muscle, and to say that Marcus was concerned would be an understatement. The doctors said it was unusual for a coma patient to remain unconscious for more than four weeks – this was Wrench’s sixth.

The hipster moved a few silver strands from Wrench’s eyes; a sad, tired smile grazed his lips. His hope for Wrench had grown when Dr. Scarlett announced that he was stable; he would be okay. Everything felt lighter, as if the anchor had finally been cut off. Marcus could breathe again; smile again.

His hope had slipped through his fingers, though, piece by piece with each week that passed. Wrench was turned to stone; his face remained the same, and Marcus felt worried that he would remain a stone forever. He was positive that he and the gang would pay the doctors for as long as it took, but a recent discussion proved otherwise. It’s been six weeks and Sitara had lost hope for the anarchist. She would quit giving money after the tenth week; she would leave Wrench for dead, just like that. The thought alone had his eyes swell with tears and his stomach turn in disapproval.

He looked down on the restful face and cupped a warm cheek with his warm hand. Wrench would die after four more weeks - he would be nothing but a memory. Marcus tried to swallow the lump in his throat as tears spilled from his tired eyes. He was so tired of everything; nothing seemed to go the right way anymore. First Wrench was kidnapped, and had to go through two waves of horrific torture before the hipster and the gang found him. Then the data that seemed to lead to nowhere and now this; Wrench’s death was four weeks away. Marcus was just so sick of it all.

Wrench – crude, vulgar, adrenaline junky Wrench – would be gone. He wouldn’t be there to joke about their ‘sexual tension’, he wouldn’t be there for the late, drunk nights and he wouldn’t be there for all the fuckery dedsec would do to the corporations he hates. Marcus lowered his head, his forehead collapsing against Wrench’s chest as he cried. He wouldn’t have the chance to see those piercing, gorgeous blue eyes of his again, for they would remain closed forever. Marcus buried his head in the anarchist’s shoulder. He would have to watch future Jimmy Siska movies alone. A life without Wrench was a life he didn’t want to live. His chest hurt at the thought, at all the good memories he had with Wrench.

He would never hear the anarchist laugh as they sped through the streets with gang members and police officers after them. He would never see the happy emoticons his mask displayed when he hung halfway out of the car window, CTRL-ALT-DEL Launcher in hand, firing grenades towards the enemy vehicles.
Please, Wrench, he begged as more tears fell like a waterfall from his eyes. Just wake up, man. You can’t leave me yet.

Then he heard a groan.

Marcus pushed himself up and stared wide eyed at the anarchist. Small droplets of tears still dripped from his eyes as he stopped breathing, almost froze in place and his heart picked up speed. Wrench just groaned – he just fucking groaned! He cupped both of the anarchist cheek and stared expectantly at him. Blue eyes opened and met with brown ones, and that was all it took for Marcus to hug Wrench – really hug him, like the hug he got from Wrench after the Bratva tried to crush him alive.  

Sweet relief pulsed through his body in waves of ecstasy. Wrench woke up! He would live; he would be there for all the fuckery and for the drunks nights, for the jokes about sexual tension and for all the future Jimmy Siska movies. Wrench would live to see another day; he would live to be with Marcus.

They remained like that for a while. Marcus buried his face in the crook of Wrench’s neck as more tears spilled from his eyes. Those were happy tears, though. He felt intense relief push away the pressure and sadness he had just felt.

“Fuck, Wrench -“ he whispered as he pulled away, but he stopped once he cast a glance on the anarchist’s face. His eyes were closed; as they had been for six weeks, and his breathing was even; as they had been for six weeks. It was as if nothing had changed. “ – what?”

He cupped Wrench’s cheeks again and tried to shake the anarchist. “Wrench?” he asked, pulling his head from side to side in small shakes, giving light slaps to the pale face. “C’mon, man. I saw you open your eyes.” Marcus whispered desperately.

“Fuck,” he breathed once he realized that shaking the anarchist would do nothing to wake him up. He reached for the nightstand where his phone was and opened the contacts. He scrolled until he found Dr. Scarlett’s name and pressed call. If anyone knew what the fuck just happened, it would be one of the doctors.

“Dr. Scarlett Reedwood speaking,” he heard the soft and soothing voice of Dr. Scarlett. That was the reason Marcus favored her over Dr. Steve.

“Scarlett, this is Marcus,” he hastily said.

“Evening, Marcus. How can I help? Is Wrench doing alright?” she asked.

“I, erm… I don’t know,” His voice shook and his heart pounded. He cleared his throat and willed himself to pull his shit together. The last thing Scarlett needed was a serious case of mouth diarrhea. “Wrench just groaned and opened his eyes. I thought he woke up, so I hugged him, but when I pulled away his eyes were closed and he wouldn’t wake up no matter what.” he explained.

“Is he still unconscious right now?” asked Scarlett, her voice getting more serious.

Marcus glanced at Wrench, who still slept as peacefully as he had been for six weeks. “Yeah?”

“We’ll be right there,” she said and hung up.

Marcus sighed and gripped his phone tightly in his right hand. He stole a glance at Wrench and couldn’t help himself, but wonder if it was his fault Wrench had fallen unconscious again. Maybe he had accidentally put too much pressure on his ribs? They were supposed to heal after eight weeks and it had only been six. Maybe he shouldn’t have hugged Wrench in the first place? The trauma and exhaustion from the torture could have been overwhelming enough, and Marcus’ hug just happened so fast it knocked him out cold again. People needed some recovery after six weeks of coma after all.

He wiped his tears and glanced at Wrench one last time. He pointed a finger at the unconscious anarchist and sternly said, “Don’t die.” He said it like a command, like how you’d tell a dog to sit down. Marcus couldn’t really put his finger on it, but during the six weeks of being by Wrench’s side, he felt the need to protect the pale man, to make sure he was safe.

Marcus dragged his ass of the bed and headed to the closet. It was time to get out of his jammies now that Dr. Scarlett and Dr. Steve were paying him a visit. He debated whether he should inform the gang, but decided that he’d call them after the doctors had told him what was wrong or wasn’t wrong. The last thing he needed was a crowded apartment, especially after his recent breakdown.

He put on a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie, not really giving much of a shit how he looked at the moment. He ran around the apartment and tidied it up a bit; throwing dirty dished in the washing machine and dirty clothes in the laundry basket. He opened the window in his bedroom; the stench was unbearable. It was the kind of stench that only could be described as grown-in-Marcus-stench – the kind that would magically appear when you had been in one room for a long period of time; all the foods you’d eaten and all the farts you released all mixed with the smell of yourself. The doctors didn’t need that. Poor Wrench, no wonder why he closed his eyes faster than cats jump when there’s a cucumber behind them.

Marcus opened the door when three, firm knocks echoed throughout his apartment. The bright scarlet color of Scarlett’s hair met him at the door, and Marcus smiled. She was originally blonde, but she dyed her hair scarlet; said she wanted to live up to her name.

“Good evening, Marcus,” she said ever so soft and soothingly.

“Good evening, Marcus,” Dr. Steve followed with his dark voice, who towered behind Scarlett.

Steve was an intimidating man with his strong built, broad shoulders, sharp jaw and dark, almost black hair. The comparison of the two was huge. Scarlett was a puppy; small and fluffy, but still had the teeth to bite back when necessary, while Steve was a tank; a machinery built for combat, though he was a little softer on the inside.

“Evening doctors,” Marcus responded and opened the door wider, stepping aside so the others could enter. “Come in.”

The two doctors took off their coats, hung them up and headed straight for Marcus’ bedroom. They had been there six other times, once each week – this was their seventh. Marcus tried to see if they could smell the stench of grown-in-Marcus, but their faces remained neutral as they studied their patient.

“You said he woke up?” Steve asked and sat down besides Wrench. He placed two fingers on the anarchist’s throat and glanced at his watch, checking the pulse like they always did on their weekly visits.

“Yes, but not for long. First, he groaned, and then he opened his eyes. I was excited and relieved so I hugged him, but when I pulled away, his eyes were closed again.” Marcus explained, fondling with his hands.

The doctors shared a glance and Scarlett wrote something on the notepad they always brought.

“Do you know why he groaned?” Dr. Scarlett asked, her dark blue eyes meeting Marcus’ dark brown ones.

“No…” he said and hesitated to explain just what he was doing when Wrench groaned. He had cried – sobbed even – on Wrench chest. That was something the doctors didn’t need to know. “I was working on some stuff on the laptop.” He lied instead.

Scarlett nodded and placed the notepad on the nightstand. She bent over Wrench and forced open one of his eyes. She used a flashlight and checked the pupil’s reaction. When she was done, she checked the other eye.

She picked up the notepad and wrote something, muttering, “Pupils don’t react to light,” as she did so.

Steve proceeded to pick up Wrench’s right arm; the one adorned with pink animals and paw prints, and stretched it. That, however, earned him a groan from the anarchist. Marcus jumped from the sound and stared wide eyed at Wrench, then at the two doctors who exchanged another meaningful glance. Scarlett scribbled something on the notepad and both doctors turned to look at Marcus.

He rubbed his sweaty palms against each other as the doctors stared. His heart pounded a bit harder in his chest and he waited in tension for the doctors to say something. It was his fault, wasn’t it? He had killed Wrench, he never should have hugged the man.

The doctors seemed to pick up on Marcus’ distress, for the two of them reached out their hands and pulled him to the bed, making him sit down next to the man he supposedly killed.

“He’s fine, he’s alright,” Scarlett hastily said, hands rubbing Marcus’ shoulder in a soothing manner. “It’s actually good news.”

The hipster breathed heavily and closed his eyes as relief flooded through him. He hadn’t killed Wrench! “What’s happening then?”

“For someone who has been unconscious for as long as Wrench, it would be highly unlikely for him to just jump right out of the coma. Instead, he gradually wakes up, step by step,” Steve explained.

“Yes, and now he has reached a stage we call the vegetative state,” Scarlet elaborated.

 

**********

 

Josh and Ray sat in each of their chairs in front of Marcus’ bed. They studied the sleeping anarchist intensely. Whatever went through the twisted minds of his comrades, Marcus was sure he was better off not knowing. Sitara was in the room too, but she hung out in the back. She and Marcus had quite the fight when she announced that she would stop paying for Wrench’s nourishment after the tenth week. They ended up giving each other the cold shoulder after that.

“The vegetative state, huh?” Ray muttered and leaned forward. He squinted his eyes at Wrench, almost willing the anarchist to open his eyes. “What does that mean, exactly?”

“He’s a vegetable,” answered Josh. Marcus pointed at Josh in a ‘what-he-said’ manner.

“He’s still in a coma, but he can make these, uh, minor, un-purposeful movements,” Marcus replied, but said it more like a question. He still hadn’t had the time to process what the doctors, mostly Steve had said. “Oh, and he makes sounds. Stretch a tight muscle and we might hear him groan!”

“Can you do it?” Josh asked, eyes never leaving his rival.

“I can try,” Marcus shrugged.

He rose from his usual position beside Wrench and picked up a casted, neon green, right leg. He pulled at it and bended it, trying his best to copy the movements Dr. Steve did on Wrench’s right arm. After a few twists and turns, he managed to get a sound out of Wrench – yet another groan.

“Holy cow,” muttered Ray.

“That’s awesome,” breathed Josh.

It even got a reaction from Sitara, who quickly turned her head towards the bed, her eyes widened with either disbelief or shock, maybe even both, who was Marcus to say?

“Can you make him open his eyes, too?” asked Josh, maybe a little too excited. He had also leaned further towards the bed.

“Nah,” Marcus laughed at the awkward hacker’s enthusiasm and sat down beside the anarchist again. “That he does with his own free will.”

Josh slumped slightly in his seat. Marcus wondered what had gotten Josh so hyped up. As far as Marcus was concerned, the anarchist and Josh wasn’t a great fit. They’d argue time and time again over nothing at all, like that time when Josh didn’t understand what Sitara meant with cornhole; Wrench was ready to punch some sense into the poor man, or that time when they worked on programming Wrench Jr. and they had a disagreement. Either way, the pair wasn’t a great match, which only confused Marcus more.

Josh was very persistent on finding Wrench, trying his hardest to locate the anarchist, and when he failed - when that first torture video was sent to the hackerspace - Josh almost lost it. He was also the one who found a solution to the hospital problem and he insisted that he should be the one who fix the broken mask. It was weird in Marcus’ eyes, that Wrench’s rival was the one who worked the hardest to save his ass. It just didn’t add up.

“Why so excited, Josh?” Marcus asked with a smirk.

“Ray and I made a bet about his eye color.” Josh said, meeting Marcus’ eyes.

“Josh, that’s unfair, man. You saw his eyes when he was taken by the fucking FBI.”

“No. The eye color was impossible to make out because it was very dark in that room. Besides, I avoided looking at his face. It felt like a crime.” He averted his eyes from Marcus and stared wholeheartedly at the anarchist again. “It still does, but I’m getting used to it.”

Marcus met eyes with Ray. “So, what’s your guess?”

“Well,” the older man cleared his throat. “I always imagined that he had dark hair and brown eyes, but it turns out his hair is silver, so the fuck do I know?”

Marcus snorted. “What about you Josh?”

“Dark blue.” Josh said. “There must be a reason why I couldn’t see his eye color in that FBI room. I think it’s because they’re dark, but Ray said brown, so I’ll go for blue.”

Marcus smiled and shook his head. It was funny how both of them was wrong. Wrench’s eyes could be compared with a diamond – piercing, bright blue – the most beautiful eyes Marcus had ever seen.

“So, who’s fix’n’ the mask?” Marcus asked.

The day after they decorated Wrench’s casts, Ray came crashing through Marcus’ front door like a racecar that had spun out of control – Josh came shuffling behind like the penguin he was - waking Marcus up from the best sleep he’s had in years in the process. They teased Marcus because he was cuddled up against Wrench before they fought about who got to fix the mask. Whoever the winner was, Marcus did not know.

“We both are,” replied Josh.

“Yeah, cause’ the mask apparently runs on magic, so we figured we could use both brains to fix the thing.” Ray elaborated.

“And how’s that going?”

“To the deepest, darkest corner in hell.”

 

**********

 

Wrench had been in the vegetative state for a week and a half. He moaned when Marcus gave him massages - which was the most adorable sound Marcus had ever heard - he would never get tired of it. He opened his beautiful eyes every so often, but it appeared like he preferred to have them closed. One time he even reached for Marcus’ PlayStation Dualshock 4 before he closed his bright blue gems for another five days.

The two of them were currently cuddled up in Marcus’ bed. Marcus had Wrench positioned in his arms, silver bedhead rested in his shoulder while the hipster had a ruby red-green-black-painted and casted arm in a firm grasp. The hipster sniffed at the sad scene on the TV – the ending of guardians of the galaxy vol. 2. Marcus was sure that Yondu’s death scene was the saddest death scene in the history of sad death scenes, for it always brought the dark skinned hipster to tears.

As Stakar Ogord and many other ravager clans shot firework into space to mourn the death of Yondu, Marcus squeezed Wrench’s hand a bit too hard, which caused the anarchist to groan.

“Oh, shit,” Marcus whispered and released some pressure he had on the casted hand. He kissed the top the silver head and pulled the anarchist tighter to himself. “Sorry Wrench,” he whispered again as he grabbed the casted hand in his.

When Wrench first ‘moved in’ with Marcus’ the hipster was a extremly shy around the anarchist. Changing gauzes and cleaning the man had his face turning to a tomato and his heart hammering like crazy, but after a week, he had gotten more comfortable around him. He would massage the anarchist; kiss his cheek, the top of his head, the crook of his neck or the back of his head. He’d hug the anarchist close and whisper sweet nothings into his deaf ear. He also talked to Wrench a lot, as if he was awake. Marcus had turned Wrench into his sweet, huggable vegetable.

One thing that had never changed, though, was the feeling of bliss, ecstasy and happiness that pulsed through his body when bare, dark skin touched bare, pale skin. The fact that he was able spoon Wrench and nuzzle into the back of his neck and breathe in his scent – which still wasn’t really his scent – was enough to have Marcus skipping songs on the seventh heaven.

Even now - as Wrench lay in his arms, right hand grabbing Wrench’s left as he watched guardians of the galaxy vol. 2 - feelings of pure ecstasy flowed through his body, and though the scene was sad, Marcus felt happy.

“You know,” He murmured to the vegetable in his arms. “It would be so much better if you could just squeeze my hand.” He turned his head so he could get a better look at Wrench’s resting face.

“Just a little squeeze?”

And Wrench squeezed his hand.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Once a vegetable, always a vegetable

Everyone gathered in Marcus’ apartment two days after the anarchist squeezed the hipster’s hand; Marcus wanted to really be sure that Wrench had moved to another face before he informed the others. When Marcus did inform them, though, it appeared like only Josh understood what the fuzz was about. Apparently, he had read up on the vegetative state. The others, meaning Sitara and Ray, thought Wrench squeezing Marcus’ hand was another purposeless movement, and that it meant nothing. Boy, were they wrong.

“When people in the vegetative state is about to wake up they may follow simple commands, such as ‘squeeze my hand’, ‘open your eyes’, or ‘say your name’.” Marcus tried to explain the duo for the hundredth time.

Ray and Sitara nodded carefully. “But what if he just squeezed your hand because he felt like it?” Sitara asked. Why did she have to pretend Wrench was never waking up? Couldn’t she understand that this was good news?

“She’s right, you know,” Ray butted in, nodding his head towards the pessimistic female. “What makes you think he squeezed your hand because he heard and understood you?”

“Because, the last two day I’ve been trying to give him simple commands, and he followed most of them. Not all the time, but almost,” Marcus explained, gesturing towards the vegetable on the bed. “And Dr. Steve told me he had moved to a state called the minimally conscious state.”

“And what exactly does that mean?” Sitara pried.

“Well...” Marcus said, trying to think back to when the doctors came for the weekly visit last night. They had said so much, though. When Steve talked about medical things, his eyes sparkled like snow when sunrays beams on it. It took a lot of effort to understand the things he said, especially when he talked faster than the speed of sound.

“It means he’s half the vegetable he used to be,” Josh said, helping Marcus’ still processing mind.

“He looks the same to me,” Sitara answered as stubborn as ever.

“No, no,” Marcus hurried. “He talks now and his movements have purpose,” he smiled. He felt proud on Wrench’s behalf, like a father would be proud of a son who just shot his first deer.

Sitara moved her eyes from Marcus to the anarchist, her eyebrow raised impossibly higher, before she returned them to Marcus’ brown orbs. Then she shrugged – simply shrugged.

“You know what,” Marcus hissed, turning towards Wrench. He placed his hand on the anarchist shoulder as he said, “I’ll prove he’s half the vegetable he used to be.”

He gave light shakes to the anarchist, pulling his shoulder back and forth. “Yo, Wrench?” he whispered and gave light slaps to his cheek with his free hand. “Wake-y, wake-y Wrench-y.”

Wrench groaned and moved away from Marcus’ slapping hand. He opened his eyes and cast an empty stare the hipster’s way. Sitara averted her eyes, still feeling like it was a crime to look directly at the anarchist, especially when his eyes were open.

“His eyes are blue, I win,” Josh said somewhere in the background. Marcus was too enthralled in those diamond eyes that were currently looking his way to look away, though.

“Hell no, you said dark blue, and those sure as shit ain’t no dark blue,” Ray argued, also somewhere in the background. “Those eyes are brighter than my damn future,” he mumbled.

“Hello pal.” Marcus smiled. “You feeling alright?”

“No,” Wrench mumbled, his voice a slurred, hoarse, whisper.

“You thirsty?” Marcus asked.

“No,” Wrench shook his head. He turned to his side, away from four, prying eyes and closed his blue orbs. 

“Tired?”

Wrench nodded.

“Aw hell naw, man. You been sleeping for seven and a half weeks.” Marcus whined. This time, however, there was no response from the anarchist.

Marcus sighed. Though the moment was brief, at least he got to prove Sitara wrong. Speaking of which, the hipster turned towards his female companion, a proud smile plastered on his face. “Told ya so.” he smirked.

“Fine, he’s half the vegetable he was,” She admitted, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “But does that mean he’ll wake up, though? We can’t spend all our money on Wrench’s nourishment forever, we can’t afford that.”

Marcus widened his eyes. He stretched his dark hands in an, ‘I-can’t-believe-what-you-just-said’, manner. “He moved to another stage only after a week and a half! He’s waking up faster that you can say John Travolta.”

“John Travolta,” said Sitara.

Almost as if to prove Marcus’ point, Wrench groaned and shifted. He reached for the duvet with a casted hand and tried to push the duvet over himself. The vegetable was probably cold, so Marcus helped and draped the blue duvet over him.

“I still stand by my words, Marcus.” She averted her eyes from the sleeping anarchist.

“I know, just...” Marcus struggled to find the words. He wanted Sitara to at least think that Wrench had a chance. “At least have some faith in him.”

To that, Sitara nodded. Nothing more, nothing less.

“Anyways,” Ray cleared his throat. “Josh and I are heading to the hackerspace. We’re gonna try to understand how the vegetable’s mask works.”

Marcus smirked. Once a vegetable, always a vegetable, he thought.

“Yes. If we ever plan to fix it before Wrench wakes up we’re gonna have to hurry.” Josh continued. “Especially if he wakes up faster than Sitara can say John Travolta.”

They rose from their position on the chairs they dragged from the living room and kitchen. Marcus got up too from his position on the bed and fist bumped Ray and Josh. Josh was reluctant to fist bump back, as he always was.

“Alright, don’t wreck the mask more than it is,” Marcus laughed.

“We’ll try,” replied Ray.

“We won’t,” corrected Josh.

The duo shared a glance before they grabbed their chairs and left the room, placing the chairs in their original position, whether it was in the living room or in the kitchen.

Marcus turned to look at Sitara, who still sat with her arms crossed over her chest – as stubborn as ever. Marcus sighed.

“Look, we can keep fighting or you can help me go grocery shopping. I’m really getting sick of takeaway.”

Sitara smiled. “Sounds good.”

 

**********

 

Sitara and Marcus entered the latter’s apartment after the grocery shopping. They spent about an hour in the store; Sitara came up with suggestions on what Marcus should have for dinner while the hipster debated what Sitara suggested until he eventually denied it, saying he wanted something more “gourmet-ish”. In the end, Marcus bought all the ingredients he needed for chicken, some snacks and a new, fluffy, soft blanket for Wrench. The vegetable was always cold lately, and an additional blanket might help.

Sitara helped put the groceries in their given place. They joked and laughed, the both of them forgetting their recent arguments about a certain vegetable, and actually enjoyed themselves for once. Sitara teased Marcus time and time again for his crush for Wrench, saying that it was no wonder why the anarchist was a very irritating pervert if Marcus kept encouraging him.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Marcus, eyes cast to the last bag of groceries and a smile grazing his lips. “I like liking things, even if that thing is a crazy, perverted anarchist with issues.”

“You know,” Sitara started, putting away the snacks in the ‘snack-shack’, as Marcus called the snack drawer. “I think Wrench is completely oblivious to your feelings towards him,” she continued, catching a bag of potato chips that Marcus threw her way, “either that, or he doesn’t acknowledge those feelings. I don’t know… I can’t tell what’s going on behind that mask of his.”

Marcus breathed a small laugh, a thoughtful smile on his face. “Yeah. I’ve only ever met him without that mask once, and let me tell you,” he said and turned to meet Sitara’s gaze. “The man with the mask is completely different from the man without the mask.”

“Really?” Sitara asked. Marcus nodded. “How so?”

“Well,” Marcus had to think back to that time when he returned Wrench’s mask on the rooftop. “He was extremely shy, not his funny, outgoing, perverted self.” Marcus smiled at the memory. That was the day he found out his true feelings for Wrench; the day he fell in love with him.
Then Marcus frowned. “He also seemed… sad? Sort of?”

Sitara frowned too. “Well… maybe he was just shaken up by the FBI. Taking away the Wrench’s mask is a big deal, you know? That only fueled his undying hate for Dusan and Blume, though, so the hipster-dick only fast forwarded his own doom.”

“Yeah,” Marcus nodded. It wasn’t like Wrench could be sad all the time he didn’t wear his mask, that would be exhausting. “That’s probably it.”

Marcus reached for the last thing he bought, the soft, fluffy, blanket. He stroked his warm, calloused fingers across the material, relishing on how soft it felt. It was like stroking your hand across a grey, poofy cloud.

“I’m gonna give this to the frozen vegetable now,” Marcus said and lifted the blanket, which was neatly folded with a bow tied around it to keep it together.

“I’ll come with,” Sitara responded, putting away a bag of m&m’s. “It may not sound like it, but I do want Wrench to wake up. Though I may not show it a lot, Wrench is my friend too. I’m just thinking about the future of dedsec, you know? We need money for that, too.”

“Yeah, I know.” Marcus strutted towards his bedroom, Sitara followed behind.

Marcus entered his bedroom first and he almost dropped the new blanket. His heart stopped beating for five seconds before it hammered faster than a cheetah at full speed. His mouth hung open as if he were having a stroke and he was at a loss for words, only high-pitched sounds of shock came out.

“Are you really awake?” he asked the vegetable, who was currently sitting up on his bed, looking very un-vegetable-like.

It looked like he studied the casts before Marcus and Sitara interrupted him. He looked at Marcus with confusion written all across his face; his eyebrows knitted together in a frown, blue eyes squinting and mouth slightly agape.

“What?” Wrench asked.

That was all the confirmation Marcus needed. Wrench had never said ‘what’ before, even when he was in the minimally conscious state. Wrench was awake. Wrench was going to live. Marcus let out a breath and everything felt lighter. Wrench was awake and he was going to live! Marcus dropped the blanket. He ran to the bed and hugged Wrench – squeezed him.

Marcus buried his head in the crook of the anarchist neck. He didn’t give a flying shit that Sitara stood by the door, watching the whole ordeal. He didn’t give a flying shit that Wrench was awake to administer Marcus’ actions either. The anarchist had finally woken up. That was all it took for the anchor to be cut off; Marcus was now free.

“Okay, Marcus,” Wrench whispered-murmured. He tried to pull away from the hipster.

“No,” Marcus digressed. He pulled the anarchist closer, refusing to let him go just yet.

That hug was one and a half months worth of side hugs and side fist bumps he never received. That hug was for all the movies he had to watch alone. That hug was how grateful Marcus was that Wrench was alive and would remain so for a while longer. That hug was everything Marcus was too scared to admit to the anarchist. That hug was powerful; it spoke words Marcus didn’t dare speak himself.

Marcus pulled away and cupped two, pale cheeks. The anarchist averted his eyes from the hipster, and that sank Marcus’ cheetah heart. He couldn’t speak, he didn’t know what to say. He kept staring at Wrench. He knew deep down that the anarchist didn’t like his prying eyes, but he couldn’t find the will to look away. Wrench was awake. Wrench would live. That was all that mattered.

The sound of a woman clearing her throat was the only thing that had Marcus turning away from Wrench, his brown eyes settling on Sitara. She stood by the door, the new blanket in hand, looking extremely uncomfortable. She nodded her head towards the bedroom door, gesturing for Marcus to join her in the living room.

Marcus turned towards Wrench again, whose eyes were cast downwards toward his casted arms, pun intended. “I’ll be right back, man,” he said and playfully punched the anarchist shoulder. Wrench remained unmoving.

Marcus got up and joined Sitara in the living room.

“Listen Marcus,” she said the second the hipster closed the bedroom door behind him. “Don’t overwhelm him, okay? He has been through a lot.”

Marcus’ smile didn’t falter, for he was just so excited. “Overwhelm him? What do you mean overwhelm him?” he asked.

“He could barely look at us, Marcus!” she announced, grabbing the hipster’s upper arm. “He’s used to hide behind that freaky mask, and now he don’t have it.”

Marcus understood what Sitara was saying, because it was true; Wrench barely met his eyes after that hug. Marcus was overwhelmed too, though. He was excited; he was happy; he was blissful. “I know, I know,” he said, smile still plastered widely on his face. “But my boy’s awake! Can you believe it? I-I mean, he was just a vegetable an hour ago, and now he’s awake!” He jumped up and down, elbowing the air like a six year old.

“I know,” Sitara smiled too. She handed the blanket to Marcus. “I’ll leave you two to it.” She winked and left the building.

Marcus was too excited to acknowledge the tease, but he would probably think it over later.

He rushed back towards his bedroom and stormed in the room like a tornado, starling Wrench in the process. He ran to the bed and jumped next to Wrench, who looked like he had just woken up from the most horrible nightmare one could imagine.

“Hi, Wrench,” he said kind of creepily.
Don’t overwhelm him, don’t overwhelm him, Marcus though as he smiled creepily at the anarchist, his smile going from ear to ear.

“Hi, M” Wrench replied hesitantly and hoarsely. He still didn’t meet the hipsters eyes.

“How you feelin’, man?” Marcus patted Wrench’s shoulder, the smile never leaving.

“I don’t know,” Wrench answered. He waited to elaborate. It looked like he was trying to feel what he was feeling. “Thirsty?” he asked and finally, though reluctantly, met Marcus’ eyes.

Something softened in Marcus’ tense and excited body. Though he was still excited and happy and blissful, he could see the discomfort and distress in Wrench’s eyes, and since he ended up being Wrench’s caretaker, he felt a huge urge or need to protect him. He felt responsible about Wrench’s abduction; he felt responsible for Wrench’s torture and now he felt responsible for Wrench’s wellbeing and safety.

Marcus nodded. “Alright, I’ll get you some water.” He said.

Wrench nodded and averted his eyes, looking at his casted hands again. Marcus felt a pang of sadness absorb his heart. He wanted nothing more than for the anarchist to trust him enough to look at him without his mask, hell, to even be in his apartment and present without the mask. Marcus knew that was a longshot, but he hoped Wrench would grow to be comfortable with the hipster looking at him – ha had been for over a month now after all.

He fetched a glass and filled it with water, adding a straw in there for Wrench’s benefit. Then he returned to the bedroom. Wrench still sat with his beautiful eyes casted downwards, except this time he appeared to be reading his right arm’s cast – the Josh cast.
Oh, no, Marcus thought with a smile. This is gonna be good.

“Here’s your water, Wrench,” Marcus announced, gaining Wrench attention before he went back to studying his pink-littered cast.

“I’m going to fucking kill him,” Wrench muttered, turning over his cast to inspect the dogs, dolphins, cats and stingrays. “Blume supporter! I’m gonna stuff Blume up his fucking rectum!”

Marcus laughed and shook his head. At least Wrench was acting like himself, even in his maskless glory. “You do know thet Blume isn’t a physical thing, right?”

Wrench sent an ugly sideway glance his way. The way his eyes screamed, ‘shut the fuck up or I will kill you, casted or not’, had the hipster’s body erupt in goosebumps as chills ran up his spine. “Then I’ll shove Dusan Nemec up his ass. He’s a fucking physical thing.” Wrench spat and threw his arms in the air.

“That was an image I did not need in my head, Wrench.”

Wrench sighed and gave Marcus another side-glance. “Where’s the mask,” he muttered, and moved his bright blue orbs back to his casts.

Marcus also moved his eyes downwards before he sat down on the bed, next to Wrench. “Look,” he placed a hand on Wrench’s shoulder, holding the glass of water with the other. “You don’t need the mask here, okay? I’ve seen you, been with you for a month and a half. All this time you’ve been unconscious, you’ve been without your mask.”

Wrench closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. His jaw settled and it seemed to Marcus like the anarchist was trying to restrain himself, to not lose control. “Maybe, but there’s a different between then and now. Then I was unconscious; now I’m not.” Wrench explained. “So, where’s the goddamn mask?”

“It’s at the hackerspace,” Marcus gave in. “Josh and Ray are trying to fix it.”

That had Wrench turning abruptly to Marcus, eyes wide with horror. “Josh is trying to fix the mask?!” he shouted the question.

Marcus raised an eyebrow at the anarchist as he responded, “And Ray?”

“Fuck,” he yelled, startling Marcus. “Fucking asshole’s gonna do more damage than good on my poor mask, fuck!”

“Well, they did say it runs on magic.” Marcus said. Wrench sighed. “Oh yeah, and they mentioned that the mask was going to the deepest, darkest corner in hell.”

Wrench gave him a deadly look.

“Anyhow,” the hipster said, handing the water to Wrench, who tried to hold on to the glass of water the best he could with two casted hands. “Here’s your water,” Wrench took a sip from the straw as Marcus got up from the bed, clapping his hands together. “I’ll go call the doctors.

Wrench choked in his drink, spilling the glass of water all over himself in the process, getting his hospital shirt and some of the duvet wet.

“What!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: TH3 N1GHTM4R3

Wrench seemed fine. He cursed as usual; got angry as usual and joked around as usual. On the other hand, though, he also seemed not fine. As the hipster and the anarchist waited for the doctors to arrive, Wrench kept looking around with a confused expression, as if he’d never been to Marcus’ apartment before, which was absurd because he’d been there plenty of times. He also looked extremely tired, as if he hadn’t slept for years, which was also absurd because he’d been sleeping for months. He kept dosing off, and if it hadn’t been for Marcus shaking him awake, Wrench would surely be asleep by now.

Another thing Marcus was extremely aware of was the sideway glances Wrench gave him. Not the bad, ‘I’m-secretly-planning-to-kill-you’ kind, but more of an ‘I-wonder-who-you-are’, kind. That was also weird; the two of them were best friends, how could Wrench not know who Marcus was.

“Yo, M,” Wrench murmured and looked around Marcus’ bedroom in complete confusion.

“Sup, Wrench?” Marcus replied.

“Where are we again?” Wrench asked and turned towards Marcus, his bright, blue eyes not quite meeting his.

Marcus turned his eyes from the TV to meet Wrench’s. “My bedroom, man,” he replied, cocking his head to his side.

Wrench frowned and gave the room a final glance, his eyes settling on the wall to their right. “Did you get a paintjob?” he asked.

“What?”

“I’m pretty sure your bedroom had one black wall?”

“Look behind you Wrench.”

Wrench turned around and scanned the black wall behind him. It was littered with different posters; one of Jimmy Siska in cyber driver; one of baby groot from guardians of the galaxy; one poster of link from breath of the wild – Marcus loved that game -, one poster of batman and one poster of aliens VS predators.

“Were all these posters here before?” Wrench asked and scanned each one of them.

“Yes, Wrench.” Marcus replied. He started to get worried; Wrench adored those posters, especially the alien VS predator one. “What, you don’t remember?”

Wrench remained silent.

“C’mon, man. Don’t tell me you don’t remember.” Marcus raised a hand, gesturing towards the posters. “You love those posters. You even threatened to tear down the whole wall and bring it to the garage because it was ‘perfection’.”

Wrench scanned the posters, but looked down at his hands after a moment. He fondled with them as best he could in their casts and mumbled, “It’s not that I don’t remember, it’s just that…” he hesitated, probably trying to find a word for whatever he was experiencing in his head, before he gingerly continued, “You know, it’s, uh, fuzzy. Sort of.”

“Fuzzy, huh?” Marcus asked. Wrench nodded. “That means you don’t remember.”

Wrench sighed. He turned and gave the hipster his second death glare that day. “Fuck you, M. I remember, just not that good.”

“Whatever makes you sleep at night, Funky Bunch.”

Wrench clicked his tongue at the hipster.

“Hello, Marcus? You there?” someone yelled from outside the bedroom. Judging by the voice, Marcus assumed it was Steve. The dark, yet velvety voice of the human tank was one Marcus found hard to forget.

“Yeah, we’re in the bedroom!” Marcus shouted back.

He heard several thuds on the other side of the door making their way to their current location. Marcus felt Wrench tense up beside him and, upon looking at the anarchist, saw how uncomfortable he truly was. His shoulders had taken a defensive position and his jaw looked tense – as if he gritted his teeth. He kept his blue eyes on his casted hands, which were fondling with each other. His breathing appeared to have sped up too, his chest bouncing up and down as he breathed in and out.

Marcus patted Wrench’s shoulder in what he hoped was a comfortable manner. “It’s okay, Wrench. We can trust them. They’re the ones who saved your life.”

Wrench merely nodded. It was as if his personality took a one-eighty. One second he was cursing and joking and being his normal self; the next, he was shy, unconfident and silent. He still wasn’t fully comfortable around Marcus without the mask, but the hipster wanted to change that.

The door opened and Wrench tensed impossibly more. He turned his face to his side in what Marcus believed was an attempt to hide the marl from the doctors, even though they have seen it plenty of times. Maybe it was a movement based on instincts. Who was Marcus to tell?

Dr. Steve and Dr. Scarlett walked in; this time both of them carried a notepad.  

“Evening, Marcus,” Scarlett greeted with a smile. She turned to look at the shy anarchist, but he wasn’t courageous enough to meet her eyes. “Hello, Wrench. My name is Dr. Scarlett Reed. Nice to finally meet you.”

Wrench nodded again. He looked extremely uncomfortable, but what could Marcus expect? He had seen first hand that Wrench was shy around women; the poor guy was unable to look Naomi’s way when she was looking at him. Besides, the voice recorder from the FBI had confirmed that he acted shy around the opposite sex, but every time Marcus had seen the anarchist around women, the mask had been firmly strapped to his face. He had never seen how uncomfortable he truly looked.

“And I’m Dr. Steve Snow,” Steve introduced himself. He turned towards Marcus and said, “Can I ask you a few questions, Marcus?”

“Of course,” Marcus answered and Followed Steve outside the bedroom door. “What’s up, doctor?”

“Just a few questions about Wrench,” Steve replied. “People who wake up from several stages of coma enters something we call the confusinal state. The characteristics for the confusinal state is disorientation; not knowing where they are or when, memory loss, difficulty to pay attention and other impairment of mental abilities, irregular patterns of responsiveness, restlessness, delucions and hallucinations and irregular sleep patterns; night time sleep disturbances and excessive drowsiness and sleeping during the day.” Steve took in a deep breath. “Noticed any of these things about Wrench?”

Marcus’ eyes had widened and his mouth hung agape. “Holy shit, doctor,” Marcus said. How in the hell Steve had all that information etched into his mind was beyond Marcus, but holy shit was it impressive. “Um… shouldn’t… shouldn’t you be asking Wrench about these questions?”

“Scarlett will be attempting to do that. We need answers from you too since Wrench may or may not know what the actual hell is going on.”

Marcus nodded. “Okay, that actually makes sense.” He clapped his hand together and rubbed them against each other. “So, Wrench… Wrench appears to act the same. Joking. Cursing. Getting angry. But the thing you said about memory loss?”

Steveve nodded as he scribbled on the notepad.

“Yeah, he don’t remember the many posters I have on the wall above the bed. He loved those posters, man. It’s sad that he don’t remember.”

“Mhm,” Steve mumbled and hurried to write the information down on the notepad. “Okay, so disorientation and memory loss.”

“Yeah.”

“What about paying attention?”

“He seems to do that just fine. He read the casts without any outbursts. “

“Restlessness?”

“He’s more tired and drowsy. If I haven’t been here, Wrench would have fallen asleep again.”

Steve nodded. “What about hallucinations or delusions?”

“Well,” Marcus had to think a little. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and averted his gaze to the floor. “Does the poster thing count? He was sure there were no posters on that wall.”

Steve nodded once again as he kept scribbling the information down. “Last, but not least, do you know what he remember?”

“He remember me and Josh… um… oh! He remember that one of my walls in the bedroom is black. I think he remember some of our past conversations? Yeah, I’m not sure about that one, though.”

“Does he remember something from the torture incident?”

Yeah, that. That was one subject Marcus was afraid to ask about. He knew talking about past traumatic experiences wasn’t exactly what you could call Wrench’s favorite. He did everything he could to avoid such topics; he was a master at subtly changing and avoiding the subject. Marcus had tried to look for anything that would imply that Wrench was well aware of what had happened to him – stuff like sad, facial expressions, flinches or anything of the sort – but no such sign ever happened.

“I don’t know,” Marcus replied. “He never implied that he remember, but then again, he never implied that he don’t either.”

“Mhm,” Steve kept writing on his notepad. “What about responsiveness. Does he respond to you in anyway?”

“Oh, he responds, alright,” Marcus said. “He just said how he was going to shove Dusuan Nemec up Josh’s rectum,” he laughed.

Steve cringed. “That was an image I don’t ever wanna see again.”

 

********** 

 

“So tell me, Wrench,” The doctor said. Wrench had already forgotten her name. She sat down on a chair beside the bed. “How are you feeling?”

If you excluded Wrench’s hammering heart, his heavy, short breathing, his clammy hands and forehead and his mind running through millions of answers he could respond without appearing like an idiot, then Wrench was well enough. He could feel the woman’s eyes on him; he could feel them studying him. They judged him; he was a freak; the scar was ugly; the nose was too big; his body was too scrawny. He wished he had his mask so he could hide. He wished he had his mask so he could face the red haired woman beside him. He wished he had the mask so he could be his better self.

Wrench shrugged. “I don’t know.” He muttered, his hands fondling more furiously with each other. “How am I supposed to feel?” He never met the woman’s eyes, he was too scared.

“Well,” she lifted a paper on her clipboard or notepad or whatever the hell it was. “It’s usual to feel confused. Do you know where you are?” her soft and somewhat soothing voice asked. It wasn’t soothing enough to actually soothe Wrench though.

“Marcus’ apartment?” Wrench asked. He had to ask, he sort of knew, but sort of didn’t. It only made sense that this was his apartment if you looked at it logically, but Wrench couldn’t quite place the room. Though he remembered the black wall, the posters seemed completely out of place.

“Yes it is,” the doctor said and Wrench could hear the smile in her voice. This woman seemed so sweet and open minded – why the fuck was Wrench so nervous? “Did you guess that?”

“Kind of. It’s only logical that this is his place.” Wrench shrugged.          

“But there’s something that doesn’t add up?” she asked.

Wrench nodded. “The posters. The TV, this bed, I don’t know. Things just doesn’t add up.”

The woman scribbled something on the notepad. “Feeling restless?”

Wrench shook his head.

The woman scribbled the information down. “Drowsy?”

Wrench nodded.

“Any hallucinations?” she looked expectantly to him.

If Wrench had his mask and was his better self, he would’ve answered something like, “not unless a hairless Chewbacca is standing in the corner, jerking of to some hardcore monster porn”, to joke around. Wrench was not his better self though, for he was without his mask and with a woman, so instead of saying anything, Wrench shrugged. As far as he was concerned he hadn’t hallucinated anything yet, but what did he know?

The doctor scribbled the new information on her notepad. “Okay,” she cheerily said.

Why the hell the woman looked so happy was far beyond Wrench. He was almost giving the lady the cold shoulder, yet she didn’t seem to mind. She just wrote away in that notepad of hers, smiling gently at Wrench even with the hesitant side glance he gave her. He still didn’t face her, he couldn’t muster up the courage to do it. With his face cast downwards, the scar consuming his left eye wasn’t too visible, and Wrench would rather drink a whole bottle of cyanide that showcase the burn mark to the female doctor.

She pulled a flashlight from her pocket and met Wrench’s eyes. He quickly averted them though, and went back to looking at his hands.

“If you can just-“ She said, but was interrupted by Wrench when he flinched at her hand that touched his chin. He pulled the duvet further up his body and turned his face more to the left “Oh, I’m so sorry. I just wanted to turn your head more to the right so I can examine your pupil’s.” She apologized.

That was the problem, though. Wrench knew very well what her intentions had been, but he did not want to turn his head towards her. He did not want to display the scar, the nose and his freaky face. She had already seen too much and the anarchist was growing way too uncomfortable. If the woman would just leave and let Wrench burry himself in the duvet that would be swell. She could wait to examine him until after he had his mask back.

Luckily for Wrench, though, the bedroom door opened and in walked Marcus and the other male doctor – aka, another stranger to display his face for. Great

The hipster seemed to pick up on the uncomfortable silence like the smart motherfucker he was, and said, “Yo, everything alright here? I could eat the tension with a fork.”

His eyes were set on Wrench, the anarchist could feel it. Instead of saying anything or meeting the hipsters brown eyes, Wrench sank further into the duvet, wishing that he could just disappear.

“I don’t know what went wrong,” the female doctor said. “Maybe some trauma from the incident?”  Wrench could feel her gaze on him too, but he did not dare look at her. in fact, he did not dare look at anyone.

If only she knew, it was anything but. Wrench had no idea what incident she was talking about either. When he had said to Marcus that his memory was fuzzy, he forgot to mention the fact that he barely remember why he was in those casts. He remember a very broken bone, but he couldn’t remember which bone it was. He could remember water, but he wasn’t sure whether or not it was connected to this incident. He also remembered faceless faces, but that was probably one of those hallucinations the doctor had been talking about.

Marcus never looked away from Wrench, though. It was as if he sucked up the anarchist’s distress like a sponge, for he turned to the male doctor and said, “Hey, could we take this outside? Wrench is tired and probably has some stuff to think about.”

The male doctor nodded. “Yes, of course,” the man said too professionally for Wrench’s taste. “Scarlett-“ there was the doctors name! “-join us outside for a moment?” he asked politely.

The female doctor – Scarlett – nodded and put the flashlight back into her pocket. She picked up the notepad from the nightstand. As she rose from her seat she said, “It was nice to meet you Wrench. We’ll see you later.” Then she headed out the door, following behind the male doctor.

“I’ll be there in a sec!” Marcus yelled after the duo.

Fuck. Now Wrench had to face Marky Mark.

“Everything cool here?” he asked, his hands crossed in front of his chest. He stepped closer to the bed and sat down, his eyes never leaving Wrench who sank further into the duvet the closer Marcus got.

Wrench tilted his head forward so his bangs could shield the burn mark. “s’okay,” he muttered. “Just tired, s’all.”

“Alright,” Marcus said. He draped the duvet further over Wrench and stroked the anarchists shoulder. Wrench would be lying if he said he didn’t like the gesture. “Get some rest. We’ll talk tomorrow.” He headed after the two doctors.

Wrench closed his eyes and breathed out a sigh, partly of relief and partly not. He felt a pang of guilt in his stomach. He knew all Marcus wanted was to take care of him, but Wrench hated the fact that Marcus had seen him like that. It was always him too. Marcus was the one who returned his mask after the FBI fiasco and now, Marcus was the one who saw his shy, pathetic self without the mask.

Wrench didn’t deserve a friend like Marcus, but he could never stop hanging out with the hipster. He loved their time together; he valued them more than anything else in his pathetic life, which was why he never wanted to be without his mask in the presence of Marcus. He was afraid that if the hipster spent too much time with the pathetic, maskless Wrench, then he would drop the hat and run away. Just nope the fuck out of everything.

Wrench turned to his right side, away from Marcus’ usual place and towards the wall. He closed his blue eyes and dragged the duvet further up his body. It almost covered his silver head now, and he could sleep peacefully, knowing that he was almost hidden away from judgmental assholes. He really didn’t want Marcus to drop the hat and run away, but he was scared to death it would happen soon.

 

********** 

 

“Bye Dr. Steve and Dr. Scarlett. See ya in a week.” Marcus said goodbye to the doctors. He closed the door behind them and stretched.

After they left the bedroom, Scarlett explained what happened to make Wrench so distressed. The hipster had to explain to the doctors how shy Wrench was without his mask and that he became even shyer in the presence of the female gender. It was hard to explain the situation, because Marcus had no idea why Wrench had flinched at the touch of Scarlett’s hand – was it due to his shyness, the torture incident or something deeper, something only Wrench knew. The anarchist bottled up a lot of emotions and feelings, a lot of which Marcus didn’t know.

The doctors seemed to understand what Marcus was implying though, even if he wasn’t too sure himself. They gave the hipster a sheet of information about the confusional state and said their goodbyes. They agreed that Wrench needed rest and that they would be back in a week. Then they went on their merry ways.

Marcus locked the front door and headed to the bathroom. He changed into his pajamas – which still consisted only of PJ pants and underwear – brushed his teeth and went to the kitchen to fill himself and Wrench two bottles of water. Every time Wrench slept over at Marcus’ place, he’d always fill himself a glass of water and place it on the coffee table beside the couch, before passing out on said couch. Then Marcus would throw a blanket over the anarchist, because he had a secret crush on him and wanted to make sure that he wasn’t cold.

He entered the bedroom and placed one bottle on the nightstand by his own side before he placed the other on the nightstand by Wrench’s side. He stopped to examine the sleeping face of Wrench. Marcus was more used to seeing the anarchist’ face like that; all vegetable-y. He had looked like that for a month and a half, after all.

He climbed into bed an spooned the anarchist, again, not really giving a flying fuck what Wrench would say if he woke up before Marcus. He would just say he did it in his sleep if Wrench was too creeped out. He nearly flinched when he touched the cold form, though, but it only determined him to hold him closer in order to keep him warm.

He kissed the back of Wrench’s neck, as he had always done while he was in a coma, and closed his eyes.

 

********** 

 

Marcus headed to the hackerspace the day after. He left Wrench with food and water to last at least three hours. The hipster really needed to get some work done, and Wrench would sadly be a distraction, what with Marcus’ big, secret crush on the man and all. He also wanted to tell the others about yesterday’s incident – excluding Wrench’s near breakdown – and to ask if they had gotten any further on finding the motherfucker that hired the torture group.

Sitara and Marcus were currently seated side by side at the big table in the middle of the hackerspace. Ray and Josh remained in Josh’s corner, discussing the magic mask while the woman and the hipster worked on the data.

“Are you still being creepy with Wrench?” Sitara asked, sending a smirk Marcus’ way.

Marcus had stopped blushing at the groups teases. He had realized that it was more pathetic to try to hide something they obviously knew than it was to play along. “Yeah, you know me,” he winked. “But let me tell you, Wrench is a restless, motherfucking sleeper. He could run a fucking marathon in his sleep.”

Sitara breathed a small laugh. “It doesn’t surprise me, but wasn’t he creeped out when he woke up to you being all cuddly and stuff?”

“Nah,” Marcus smiled. “He actually seemed to accept it more than anything. Dude’s cold as fuck too.”

Sitara shook her head and continued to scroll and read through the data. Her smile disappeared after a moment though, replaced by a frown. “Holy shit!” she yelled.

“What?” Marcus asked, stopping his scrolling and reading. “Did you find anything?”

“Yeah,” She said. “Bad news. Massive bad news,” she elaborated. She turned her head towards the boys by the Josh area. “Hey guys!” she got Josh’s and Ray’s attention and continued, “Come check this out!”

Marcus leaned to his right, getting a better view at Sitaras screen. His eyes widened. His heart skipped three beats and he stopped breathing all together. “What the fuck?” he whispered.

“Holy shit,” Ray said when he reached Sitara.

“Oh,” said Josh.

“Wrench is being targeted?” Marcus asked in disbelief.

“Yup,” answered Ray.

“Who are all these people?” Asked Sitara.

“Everyone,” replied Josh. He pointed towards a certain name in the data and said, “Look. Lenny’s in on it too.”

“She and ‘everyone’ ain’t the one who’s targeting him, though. Look,” Ray said and pointed towards a name displayed on the laptop. “Someone who’s calling himself ‘the nightmare’, has put a bounty on him.”

“How much?” asked Marcus. He scanned the screen for the name Ray had just said when he saw it. ‘TH3 N1GHTM4R3’.

Sitara tapped on her keyboard and a page popped up. Marcus read the page.

 

“We are looking for a man living in San Francisco. He roams around The Marine and Oakland as well.
We don’t have a photo or any further information, but we do have a name.
The man we are looking for is the son of Richard Campbell Carter, CEO of WKZ.
Whoever delivers this person shall be rewarded with 50 000 000 dollars. “

 

“Fifty million dollars!” Marcus screamed, still refusing to believe his eyes. “That’s more than a black man makes in a lifetime!”

“Poorly looked upon white people too. With all the money I’ve gathered so far, I’m not even close to that number.” Ray added.

“But it don’t say that this ‘nightmare’ dude want Wrench specifically. How do these people know it’s him?” Sitara stated.

“You have heard of the long, lost son of Richard Campbell Carter, right?” Marcus side-glanced Sitara. “I mean it’s only an unconfirmed rumor, but still.”

“That don’t really matter right now. Fixers and hacker-groups seems to believe it’s Wrench. That’s why they kidnapped him and tortured him instead of taking him directly to this nightmare guy. They probably asked questions about Wrench, not Dedsec. They didn’t want us to find him, so the torture group asked us questions about Dedsec to keep us busy,” Josh explained. It appeared as if he had finally put the puzzle together. “I will try to track down the address for this message. Marcus?”

“Yeah?”

“Is Wrench at your place right now?” Josh asked.

“Yeah?”

“Alone?” Josh pried.

“OH fuck!” Marcus shouted and shot up from his seat like a bullet. He ran straight for the stairs, completely forgetting about the laptop he was leaving behind.

Ray darted behind him. “I’m coming too. Better safe than sorry.”

 

**********

 

Wrench eyes drooped and burnt with exhaustion. He was extremely tired. He hadn’t gotten much sleep last night; he kept waking up for some reason and he was unable to find a comfortable position. Now that Wrench had the whole bed for himself, though, he felt really comfortable. He spread himself out in the middle of the bed, the pillows consumed him like lukewarm water and the duvet was good and warm too. The blanket Marcus had bought for him was draped over the duvet. It was soft and fluffy and warm, just like everything else surrounding him. He sunk into the bed and closed his eyes, at the very edge of sleep.

He felt the bed dip beside him, but he ignored it. It was probably Marcus. He started to question his mind, though, when he could feel no further movement from the bed. Wrench felt a small sting on his neck and he opened his eyes just in time to see a masked person pulling a syringe out of his neck.

The masked person met his eyes and Wrench’s blue ones widened. The attacker knew what it meant, though, because he straddled his waist grabbed his throat and squeezed before Wrench’s confused mind even had the time to understand what was going on.

Wrench heartbeat accelerated faster than a Ferrari. His hands and feet were still in brightly decorated casts, and his fingers felt impossible to move due to the lack of physical therapy. He was helpless – a feeling it seemed he had felt before, though he did not know when.

He threw his hand beside him, searching the mattress for something that was small enough for Wrench to hold, yet big enough to stay in his hand without much effort from the anarchist. He grabbed a hold of the DualShock 4 and slammed it repeatedly in the attackers head. The attacker stooped off him and Wrench crawled off the bed and to the floor. His vision started to blur and fatigue overtook his body as he tried to crawl away from the attacker. Whatever drug the fucker had injected him with had started to work.

A fistful of his white hospital shirt was grabbed and the attacker dragged him back towards the bed. Wrench grabbed the cord for the bedside lamp and pulled the device to him. The lamp was too big for Wrench to hold on too, so he tightened his grip on the cord. Small, dull aches flared through his fists, but Wrench gritted his teeth and slammed the lamp in the attacker’s masked face anyway.

The lamp smashed to many pieces of glass, some cut onto Wrench exposed face. The attacker had fallen to the floor beside him, still conscious judging by the groans of pain coming from the foul creature. Wrench was too tired to care, though, for the drug had taken over his senses. The edges of his vision became black, growing larger and larger as Wrench’s need to close his eyes and rest grew bigger. He felt the attacker shift beside him one last time before his vison went dark entirely.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Reunion with his second personality

Marcus sped out the vehicle, Ray following closely behind him. The duo ran to the apartment building. They headed straight for the elevator, but the elevator was at the fifteenth floor – the very highest. They debated whether or not they had time to wait for it, but because there was a chance Wrench was in danger, they decided for the stairs.

Marcus lived on the seventh floor, so to say they were out of breath when they finally reached said floor would be quite accurate. Ray wheezed and gasped like a patient with a serious case of COPD, muttering, “I’m too old for this shit,” repeatedly while climbing the stairs.

The hipster never uttered a word. Even when they sped down the street on their way to his apartment, breaking every traffic law ever written as they went, he kept his mouth shut. He gripped the steering wheel with the force of a sharks’ jaw, his dark hands turning impossibly pale. He gritted his teeth and he hoped, prayed even, all the way from the hackerspace, to his apartment building and up the stairs to the seventh floor, that Wrench would be okay. That he was lying in bed, sleeping or watching aliens VS predators for the hundredth time. Marcus would crumble to the ground like an avalanche and rot from the inside out if he let Wrench be taken again. Marcus would break – he would give up on life – if Wrench were to be tortured again.

He kicked down the door to his apartment, not having time to unlock it like a normal person would. He raced inside, his heart pumping adrenaline into his body with every beat; making the exhaustion he had felt from climbing the stairs history. He raced past the living room and kitchen and found his bedroom door opened.

One glance inside the room had Marcus reaching for his stun gun. He aimed it at the attacker, who stood ready with a gun pointed at an unconscious Wrench’s head. He held the silver-headed anarchist to his chest, the nine mm caliber pressed into the poor man’s temple.

“Drop the gun, or your friend will die,” the attacker said with a feminine voice. She was definitely female, dressed in a big, dark hoodie that hid her curves. Her hair was either short or tied into up, hidden beneath the hood of the sweater. A mask decorated with half the face of a skeleton covered her nose and mouth, leaving her green-ish eyes uncovered.

“Bitch, you need him alive,” Marcus replied, stun gun aimed at her masked face, but he was too scared to shoot. He was worried he’d hit Wrench and he didn’t want to inflict more damage upon him.

“How do you know? The nightmare never mentioned.” She had a heavy accent, her ‘W’ sounded like ‘F’ when she spoke and she rolled her ‘R’. Marcus guessed she was from somewhere in Europe or Asia. He wasn’t the most educated in accents.

“You’re right. He said neither dead nor alive. What if you brought him dead and he wanted him alive, hm? Bye-bye fifty million.” Marcus said. “How do you even know you have the right guy in your arms?” the hipster was curious why everyone targeted Wrench when ‘the nightmare’ never said, ‘hey, bring me Wrench’.

The woman squinted her eyes. “That’s for me to know and you to find out,” she said and threw Wrench’s unconscious body at Marcus.

Marcus, not expecting the movement, dropped the stun gun and caught the anarchist before he had the chance to slam to the ground. The woman aimed her own gun at Marcus and pulled the trigger, the loud ‘bang’ startling Marcus a bit. A sharp pain in his right, upper arm followed the deafening sound, and Marcus hissed. He dropped to his knees, hugging Wrench’s body close to his. He had not time to check on the gunshot wound, though, when he heard the sound of a heavier gun being loaded behind him. Marcus lay flat on the ground, on top of Wrench to shield him from any bullets that may fly astray.

Several bullets flew over the hipster and the anarchist, hitting the woman several places on her torso. The woman fell to the floor when Ray stopped firing the assault rifle.

“You alright there, Marcus?” he asked and lowered his weapon.

“Yeah,” Marcus looked at his upper arm. The bullet had merely graced it; he would survive. “The bullet just graced my arm.”

“And Wrench?”

Marcus scanned the anarchist, searching for any damage or malfunction. “Nah, he’s alive, man. She just turned him into a vegetable again.”

Ray chuckled and so did Marcus. He rolled of the vegetable and stared at the ceiling. A huge sigh of relief escaped his mouth as he closed his eyes. He couldn’t believe Wrench was about to be abducted again. One minute later and Wrench would be done for.

He heard heavy boots step over him, and opened his eyes to find Ray crouching beside the dead European-Asian woman. He still had the assault rifle in his hands, but Marcus assumed the safety was on – he hoped the safety was on. The hipster rose to his feet to and scanned the room. The lamp on Wrench’s nightstand littered the floor in teeny, tiny pieces. His red DualShock 4 lay broken on the bed and the duvets and blankets had been dragged off the bed, probably by Wrench when he tried to drag his casted ass away from the woman. Oh, and then there was the woman’s blood on his Jimmy Siska poster and on the floor.

Marcus sighed again, but this was not a sigh of relief. This was more of a ‘why is it always me’ sigh. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and said, “I’m really temped to let this be until Wrench wakes up so he can clean this mess.”

Ray held up a syringe he dug out from the woman’s pockets. “And how do you suppose he’ll do that? Look at him; can he even hold a glass of water without spilling it?”

“True,” Marcus said, squinting at the container in the elder’s hand. “Is that the drug she used to vegetable-ize Wrench?”

“Yup. Not sure what it is, though. The most common knockout drugs are Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine,” he squinted his eyes at the syringe too. “Depending on the dose, I’d say Wrench will sleep for a few hours.”

Marcus nodded and landed his gaze on the unconscious anarchist. “I think I’ll call Steve and Scarlett.”

“Why?”

“They were going to examine him when he woke up, but Wrench freaked out and the doctors left.”

“Seriously?” Ray asked. He had turned towards Marcus, eyebrows raised.

Marcus nodded, his eyebrow raised as well. “And I figured, you know, now that he’s knocked out, they’d have an easier time to check up on his bones and stuff.”

“You should clean this mess before you call the doctors. Hurry up with the blood before it stains, though.”

“Yeah, about that. Couldn’t you use a stun gun?” Marcus crossed his arms and faced the dreadlocked, old man.

“I don’t have a stun gun.” Ray faced the hipster and crossed his arms too.

“Well, you shot the lady, you clean the blood”

The two of them had a stare down. Brown eyes squinted at grey ones and vice versa, both sets never leaving the other. Marcus should not be in charge of the blood. He didn’t shoot the woman, he had a stun gun to avoid both the killing and the mess that followed, but Ray had to butt in and make a mess anyway.

Ray sighed, finally giving in. “Fine, I’ll clean the blood, but I ain’t doing anything else. I have a mask to fix.”

“Yes!” Marcus elbowed the air. “Don’t have to clean the blood, don’t have to clean the blood,” he sang while he danced a little victory dance.

“I swear; you children will be the cause of an old man’s death.”

 

**********

 

Ray cleaned the blood in no time; the old man had definitely done that before. He didn’t even hesitate before he started cleaning the red substance with skilled hands. Marcus didn’t exactly hesitate either, but he did stand in the middle of the room for a second, sighing and complaining that he actually had to tidy up. Once he had gotten his ass in gear, though, Wrench was back in bed covered with layers of blanket-duvet-blanket in no time.

Ray wandered out the door as the doctors entered. They took off both casts on Wrench’s arm, replacing the decorated gauzes with removable, black slings. They also removed the gauze on his shoulder from the stabbing, the gauze on the arms from the nails and the gauze on his side and thigh from gunshot wounds. They said patients with fractured or broken wrists usually wear a cast for four weeks, then removable slings replace them, but since sneaking an x-ray machine from the hospital to Marcus’ apartment would be a huge inconvenience, they let the cast remain for a few weeks extra just to be safe.

They also removed the cast on his right leg and replaced the cats on the left leg with a removable one. They recommended that Wrench wore the cast as much as possible, but he could remove it to make bath times and such more convenient. He had to be careful with the wrists, though. They were still incredibly fragile on account that they had been completely crushed. In addition, he also needed physical therapy on both arms and his right leg before he could hop around on crutches.

When they left, they took the IV with them. It had been torn out of Wrench’s arm when he scrambled to get out of bed and away from the woman. Wrench wasn’t a vegetable anymore and could feed himself, so there was no need for it anymore. Ray showed up again too, just as the doctors were leaving. He held the mask in hand, but instead of displaying the usual ‘X.X’, it displayed ‘?./’.

“It’s still broken,” the hipster had said.

“Yeah, Josh and I can’t fix that. The vegetable will have to fix it himself.” Ray had replied, and then he left.

Marcus currently cooked spaghetti for him and Wrench as he waited for the latter to wake up. The doctors determined that he would awake in a few hours, just like Ray had, and the hipster’s stomach growled at him in hunger. He made something he already had in his shelf since he didn’t dare leave Wrench alone, not after the day’s incident. In addition, he was also too exhausted both mentally and physically to go to the grocery store – physically from the cleaning and mentally from the thinking and pondering on the current situation.

Why did everyone think that the long, lost – possibly dead – son of Richard Campbell Carter was Wrench? The two looked nothing alike; Richard C. Carter had dark brown hair, tan skin and hazel eyes; Wrench had dyed his hair silver – Marcus had no idea what his original hair color was – pale, ivory skin and piercing, diamond eyes. They didn’t even remotely look like each other face wise either, and Richard C. Carter wasn’t what you would call scrawny; Wrench was. Not only wasn’t there any resemblance between the two, but Richard C. Carter never had a wife or girlfriend.

Besides all that, the story of the CEO of WKZ’s lost son was but a myth, an urban legend. No one proved that he ever had a son, or any child for that matter. The police couldn’t, the public couldn’t and the people who targeted his best friend-crush-thing sure as shit couldn’t.

“Marcus?”

He dropped the wooden spoon into the tomato sauce at the sound of his crush’s ragged voice.

“Wrench?” he said as he jogged to the bedroom. Wrench struggled to push himself in a sitting position in the bed. “Need any help, princess?”

“No,” he breathed. He pushed himself up with shaky arms. “I got it.” he looked at his arms, now with the black, removable slings instead of the decorated casts and asked, “When did this happen?”

Marcus made an evil smirk. “I invited the doctors while you were out cold.”

Wrench rolled his eyes and slumped his position slightly. “Of course you did.”

“You feeling okay?”

“Yeah,” Wrench placed a hand on his forehead and closed his eyes. “Why the fuck are people trying to kidnap me, though?”

Abduct, Marcus corrected in his head, but decided against correcting him verbally.
“Yeah, about that,” Marcus scratched the back of his neck and sat down on his side of the bed. “You’re sort of a target by pretty much everyone.” He explained.

Wrench said nothing and he did nothing. He started blankly at the door straight forward until he suddenly cocked his head to the right. “What?” he turned to look at Marcus, meeting his brown eyes for a second before he quickly averted them.

We gotta work on the eye contact, Marcus thought.
“You’re a target by everyone. Hell, even fucking Lenni wants your ass, man.”

“Why, what did I do?” Wrench asked. Marcus raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you raise that eyebrow at me M, I’ve been fucking shit up way before your hipster ass showed up, and I’ve never been a target before.”

“I don’t know what you did, but some dude calling him or herself ‘the nightmare’-” Marcus made quotey signs with his fingers, “-has put a bounty on you.”

“How much?”

“Fifty million dollars.”

If Wrench wore the mask, which was neatly put away in the hipsters nightstand drawer, Marcus was sure the LED display would show ‘o.O’. The anarchist face was adorable; Marcus wished he could take a picture.

“I’m worth that much? Fuck, maybe I should turn myself in.” Wrench muttered and started at the blanket on top of the duvet.

“I won’t let you do that,” Marcus stubbornly crossed his arms over his chest. “Besides, I’ve got something for you.” That peaked Wrench’s interest, for he turned his head slightly in the hipster’s direction. Marcus opened the drawer to the nightstand and pulled out the partly broken mask, now displaying ‘O.<’.

Wrench’s mouth slightly opened in a silent gasp. He leaned over Marcus, reaching out for the mask with his right hand, but Marcus smacked his hands away and held the freaky thing further from its owner. “No, you’ve gotta earn it first, man. I told you we’d talk about what happened with Scarlett the other day, so why don’t you tell me just why you freaked out?”

“I gotta earn something I already own?” Wrench asked. Marcus nodded. “Fuck that, man! Give it to me!” the anarchist almost threw himself over the hipster, but Marcus pushed Wrench away from the mask.

“Nah-ah. Talk. What happened yesterday, Wrench?”

Wrench huffed and crossed his arms in front of his chest. He gave Marcus a nasty side glance, his facial expression and defensive position screaming ‘I will not talk!’

Marcus blushed as he took in Wrench. He was so adorable when he acted like a five-year-old kid that didn’t get as he wanted. Marcus sort of wanted to throw the mask on the floor and hug the anarchist close to him and say, ‘you don’t have to tell me anything, ya lil’ potato’. That would most likely raise suspicions in that head of his though, because the hipster wouldn’t be able to say, ‘I did it in my sleep’. Besides, Marcus wanted to know what went wrong the other day.

Instead, Marcus said, “What if I give you the mask first?”

Wrench closed his eyes and huffed again, clearly displeased with the situation. “Fine,” he muttered.

Marcus lowered the mask and gave it to Wrench, who eagerly took it. He was about to put in on, but he stopped his movement abruptly. The LED display now showed ‘@_.)’. “What the hell is wrong with it?”

“Ray and Josh aren’t magicians. They weren’t able to put it completely back together.”        

Wrench put it on his face slowly, the mask going through many symbols, as it had done on the rooftop after the FBI ordeal, but this time, none of the symbols matched. Marcus laughed when Wrench turned his masked face towards him. ‘#.o’ displayed on the LED screen, not really clarifying what expression hid behind the thing.

And that was the beautiful reunion with his second personality.

“You gotta fix that mask, Wrench,” the hipster laughed.

“Yeah, yeah. I need steady hands to do that, though, and I haven’t had enough physical therapy to have that luxury,” Wrench said with the same, old robotic voice the hipster knew so well. He turned wholeheartedly towards Marcus, not afraid of anything again now that the mask was in place. “Now, go get your laptop. I wanna see how bad my situation really is.”

Marcus barely even heard that, though, for he was lost in his thoughts. He felt a pang of sadness that slightly, unnoticeably slumped his shoulders and put a small frown on his face. He knew Wrench wasn’t the most confident man behind the mask, but he wished so dearly that the anarchist would trust him. just the fact that Wrench needed the mask to face the hipster wholeheartedly, made said hipster want to grab the anarchists cheeks, look him deep into his beautiful, diamond eyes and say, ‘you’re beautiful’.

Because he was.

Wrench was handsome; Wrench was smart; Wrench was funny, hilarious even, Wrench was caring in a protective-aggressive way and Wrench was a good friend – the best friend. Together he was beautiful – together he was Marcus’ sun – but his sun didn’t trust him enough to shine, and Marcus was running real low on that vitamin D.

Marcus said, “I left the laptop at the hackerspace.” He had completely forgotten about their previous conversation. All events that happened yesterday with Scarlet were wiped from his brain.

“Then go to the hackerspace and retrieve it.”

“No, I’m not leaving you helpless. You’ll get abducted and we’ll have to move out of our ways to save your perverted ass, again.”

“Then we go get it!” his mask displayed ‘*.^’

“Why can’t we get Sitara or Ray or, maybe Josh to bring it?” Marcus asked. “Besides, I’m making spaghetti for us.”

“Well, then we eat spaghetti, then we go get your laptop!”

Marcus huffed in defeat. “Fine.”

“Sweet.” Wrench held up his first which Marcus halfheartedly fist bumped.

Then he smiled. He had missed those fist bumps.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: The vegetable is risen!

The spaghetti was average; Marcus clearly didn’t spend too much time cooking. It wasn’t like Wrench could complain, though. In a distant not-so-forgotten past, the anarchist only bought take out and fast food. That only changed when he got into Dedsec; Sitara would cook for them sometimes. She was good; Wrench liked to imagine that the female hacker cooked the way a mother would cook for her children – everything homemade from an old, family recipe, or something of the sorts. He also liked to picture her as the mother of her Dedsec children.

After the spaghetti, the hipster and the anarchist made their way to the hackerspace. Marcus obviously sat behind the steering wheel on account that he had no need for physical therapy. As they headed in the supposed direction, Wrench felt a lump in his stomach. Marcus would turn left where Wrench felt for a right, and the hipster would turn right where the anarchist felt for a left. It frustrated Wrench to the point he was unable to describe it using words.

I’m not delusional, I’m not delusional, Wrench kept trying to convince himself, but no matter how much he chanted those words in his head, he couldn’t hide from the truth. Wrench was delusional. The harsh truth punched him in the face with every turn he estimated falsely. The anarchist felt like an elementary school student in the day of a big test. The student, though sure he answered everything right, answered everything wrong.  

Wrench felt like an idiot. He knew this was ‘usual’ in the ‘confusional state’, but that didn’t make the sting of it less painful. Wrench was unable to remember anything, and thus prevented the gang from getting the much-needed clues, thus slowing down the investigation. The anarchist was an anchor, slowing the ship to a halt.

As they drove down the busy street, decorated with many Christmas lights and decorations, Marcus cackled on about the Avengers: Infinity war. Wrench would cackle along, coming with his own theories about the film, but his current attention was on a beige, ugly car that rolled down the street behind them. He found the ugly thing suspicious. He had seen it take off at Marcus’ apartment, since then it had been on their tail. It sent tingles up and down his spine, which had his skin erupt in goosebumps – and not the good, sexual kind of goosebumps, either.  

“So I figured that Tony Stark must be the key to solving everything, since Doctor Strange was willing to give away the time stone to save his life! I mean, he saw the one timeline where they won!” Marcus looked excitedly towards the anarchist, smiling widely at his clever discovery. A frown replaced the smile however, when he saw the unfocused anarchist. “Wrench, man? Are you even listening?”

Wrench looked away from the rearview mirror, finally turning his attention to Marcus, before quickly looking at the mirror again. “You see that car,” he said and half pointed towards the reflected image of the beige car. “I think it’s following us.”

Marcus moved his eyes to the rear view mirror as well and squinted his eyes. “U-huh. And what makes you think that?”

Wrench looked at Marcus who had his attention turned to the road ahead. I’m pre~tty sure it’s been behind us since your place, dude.”

Marcus moved his eyes to the rear view mirror again. “Fine, I’ll take four right turns. If that motherfucker still there, he’s definitely following us.” He took the first turn to the right, as promised. “Just for the record, I think you’re just being paranoid.”

Wrench gave Marcus the side eye, not really sure if his mask did the same. Damn right, he was paranoid; he had every reason to be. The female, red-haired doctor mentioned torture and Marcus said he was a target for a man called ‘the nightmare’. Wrench was honestly scared. He had no memory of the so-called torture, but that only made it all the more terrifying. He knew he had gotten hurt – badly so, if the casts and gauzes that had him looking like a deceased pharaoh had any say in it – but who and how remained a mystery.

He remembered three things, water, faceless faces and a broken bone, but everything Wrench remembered could be a delusion for all he knew. The wall he thought was without posters had apparently always been full of posters; and the turns he had estimated were wrong. So far, everything Wrench thought was true was false, so who’s to say the three things he thought he remember were delusions or not.

Wrench said, “Says Mr. ‘I will not leave you alone in my apartment cause` you’ll get kidnapped’.”

“Fuck you, man,” Marcus replied and took the fourth left turn. “And I said abducted.”

Wrench moved his eyes to the rear view mirror, choosing to ignore Marcus’ last statement.
Potato, potato, he thought and rolled his eyes.

They drove in the direction of the hackerspace again, and the beige, ugly car never showed up. He felt lighter, as if one of his many stress factors had disappeared. Wrench was still unable to relax, a chilling feeling gnawing at the bottom of his stomach. He felt sick and anxious, which wasn’t really helping with everything else he had to deal with.

His memory was a blur; people tried to hunt him down; he was delusional and he felt tired; yet oh, so restless. He wanted to crawl in a bed, sleep for hours upon hours to no end, and just forget everything that was happening. In addition, he also wanted to find out why the fuck someone called ‘the nightmare’ was willing to pay fifty million dollars for his ass. Did someone stuff diamonds in there while he was in a coma or something?

“See,” said Marcus, his face adorned with the cockiest smirk in history. “There’s nothing to worry about.”

They sailed down the street in peace again, Marcus picking up his jabbering from before. This time, though, he had an anarchist to theorize with. Wrench happily joined the hipster, trying to forget his stress levels even for just a while. He said his theory about how all the superheroes that flew away like dust in the wind – literally - probably just ended up in the soul dimension.

They chatted like that for miles; they started on the marvel cinematic universe, then they discussed several Jimmy Siska movies before they babbled on about Star Wars, and somehow they ended up on the legend of Zelda franchise. Wrench was so into the topic of how Majora’s mask totally kicked ass, he didn’t notice the driver’s lack of participation in the conversation.

“Ain’t that the ugly, beige car?” Marcus asked and pointed at the mirror.

Wrench stopped talking and turned his gaze where Marcus’ finger pointed. “Fuck,” he said. “I was right.” And this one time, he really wished he wasn’t.

Marcus nodded and slowly lowered his finger, placing it back on the gear stick. Wrench stared blankly forward, slowly descending into the depths of his own mind. Someone in a beige car followed them from Marcus’ apartment, which probably meant they spied on the two as they were hanging out inside his apartment, which also meant the hipster and the anarchist was in a huge, shit-situation – or rather, Wrench was.

Was it hot in the van? Wrench pulled at the collar of his hoodie, trying to get some fresh air beneath the torn thing. He tried to do it causally. He didn’t want Marcus to notice the obvious distress he had towards the situation, but he was doing a shit job. The hipster gave him side-glances, catching the anarchist when he fanned his hoodie, rubbed his clammy palms on the sweatpants he borrowed from Marcus or squirmed in his seat. He was acting weird, Wrench himself knew it, but he couldn’t pinpoint why. He loved danger, he loved hell, yet this hell had him on edge for some reason. A voice in the back of his mind and the feeling in his stomach told him that he did not want to be captured again, under no circumstance, whatsoever.

Wrench turned to look at Marcus, who also stole a glance at him. Wrench could read the concern in the hipster’s eyes like and open book. None of them said a word, but Wrench knew the bickering and prying that would follow. Marcus would do everything in his might to make sure the petty anarchist was okay, but Wrench didn’t deserve it. Whatever good had he done to have a friend like Marcus? Nothing. He was a full-fledged anarchist; a piece of shit with shitty attitude; a man that only loved sci-fi and suicide missions; a self-destructive, ugly man. Why Marcus would want to hang out with him – especially after the FBI incident – was a mystery for Wrench.

Not that Wrench was ungrateful for the hipster. He loved the guy. The times they spent together were golden. He was able to be himself around Marcus, and the other didn’t judge him one bit. Marcus never asked about the mask; he never pried about his past and he never made the anarchist uncomfortable in any way. Wrench would always cherish their friendship for as long as it lasted.

The car came to a halt and Marcus smiled at him. He waved his hand towards the store, almost as if he presented to Wrench the most amazing thing in the entire universe. Wrench tried to look past the hipster and saw no other than Gary’s Games and Glory, the game shop above the hackerspace. The direction from Marcus’ apartment to their current location still didn’t quite add up in the anarchist’s mind, but there they were. Wrench couldn’t argue with that.

He glanced up at the rear view mirror. He had not forgotten the ugly, beige stalker they’ve had on their tail since the apartment. The follower obviously knew they’d been busted and probably didn’t bother to hide the obvious intention anymore, either that, or he was just a shit stalker. The ugly car parked behind the hipster and the anarchist and the person behind the wheel turned the engine off.

Wrench turned to Marcus, who turned to Wrench after he, too, studied the abomination of a car behind them. “What now?” asked Wrench.

“What do you mean?” Marcus cocked his head. “We head inside?”

“Regardless of the stalkers and possible kidnappers right behind us?” Wrench leaned his head backwards, gesturing to the ugliness. “You know I can’t do shit to protect myself. Even if you gave me a gun, my hand would shake worse than the Avengers headquarters when the hulk has anal sex.”

Marcus snorted. “D’you really think they’d try anything in broad daylight?” Marcus raised his hands and turned from side to side, gesturing to his surroundings. “Out in the open? People everywhere, aka witnesses?”

Wrench remained silent as he stared at his friend. The hipster sort of had a point, but who was to say that the police would even give second crap about him?

Marcus slapped his shoulder. “C’mon, man. What’s wrong with you?”

Well, Wrench thought.
He had been kidnapped and possibly tortured; he was delusional as fuck; he could remember jack shit; he couldn’t walk; his hands shook like an earthquake and he was unable to fix his mask because of it; he was a target; he was being watched, stalked and spied on every day.
Hm, he thought. Whatever could it be?

Wrench shrugged. “I haven’t jerked off in forever, my man.”

Marcus clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes as he exited the car without another word. Wrench Watched as he circled the van and wondered quietly to himself once again what good he had done in his life to deserve a friend like Marcus. He was labeled anarchist for a reason, and that reason did not involve good deeds and stuffed animals.

Wrench opened the door to the van when Marcus neared and let himself be hoisted out of the car. He draped and arm around Marcus’ shoulders while Marcus supported him with a hand around his waist. Together they crossed the road and headed for the game shop.  

Wrench turned his head and glanced at ugly stalker-car when they neared the entrance of the shop. He saw two people in the beige abomination, one with binoculars and the other with a pen and a notebook. They probably wrote down important shit about his routine, such as where he went and why - if they were even able to find that out. Wrench wondered if they knew the hackerspace was below Gary’s Games and Glory. If so, the Dedsec group could be in a lot of trouble.

As the duo made their way through the shop, the usual inhabitants looked awestruck. Wrench hadn’t been there for months, many probably assumed he was dead if the hushed murmurs saying ‘I thought he was dead’ was anything to go by. The shopkeeper widened his eyes at the sight and stared wholeheartedly until they disappeared into the back. The girl in the back flinched slightly when she saw the anarchist, and Wrench fondly remembered he once ran though the store with the CTR-ALT-DEL Launcher at full exposal, screaming like a mad man and scaring the living shit out of everyone in the shop in the process. At least Wrench remembered that, and he knew for sure it wasn’t a delusion.

Marcus picked up on Wrench’s good mood, it seemed, for he fancied the anarchist with a questioning glance at the small, breathy laugh he let out at the girls petrified face. With a raised eyebrow and concerned gleam in the hipsters eyes, the look clearly asked, ‘do I wanna know?’

Wrench shook his head. “I ran through the store with the grenade launcher once.”

Marcus nodded in understanding, yet a frown adorned his face. When Wrench thought he would get no further reply, he heard a whisper so soft it was hard to hear, even when Marcus’ mouth were inches from his ear.

“Of course you did,” he breathed.

Marcus punched in the code and waited the short yet long moment it took it to slide open, Star Wars style. Sitara stood at the bottom of the stairs when they entered, arms spread wide to each side, eyes wide and mouth agape.

“What the fuck, Marcus!”

T-bone peaked his head from the couch by the stairs, his eyes widening as well. He met the duo at the bottom of the stairs, next to Sitara, after they had not so gracefully struggled their way downstairs.

“The vegetable is risen!” T-bone said, eyeing said former vegetable up and down. “And he looks like himself with the spikes and the mask.”

“Yup.” Wrench smiled.

Marcus tried to save as much of his usual attire as possible after the torture. He saved the hoodie, though there where small holes on the sleeves, on the right side by the waist and on the left shoulder. He had also saved the vest - Wrench praised everything praiseworthy for that - and he saved the shoes and the spikey, red bracelet. His jeans and the wristbands he always wore on his left hand were history, however, for the doctors had to cut those away to prevent any further damage when they patched him up. That’s what the savior of his clothes said, at least. Instead of his usual, ragged jeans he wore a pair of Marcus’ light gray sweat pants – it was the only pair that was small enough to fit Wrench’s waist, yet could be stretched to fit the cast still on his left leg.

“Except the mask is all fucked up now, no thanks to you and Josh.” He mused. Wrench found it amusing that the T-bone and the ‘Hawt Sauce’ was unable to fix something he had created.

T-bone sighed. “Can you not be shitty for one second?”

“Nope,” Wrench said, nudging Marcus in the direction of the long table in the middle of the room. He sat down in a chair close to the Wrench Bench; Marcus took a seat to his left, where his laptop were. The two of them paid no mind to Sitara, who still stood by the stairs in the same posture as before.

Marcus turned the laptop on, though it had only been in sleep mode. A lot of data appeared on the screen when he opened it, data with different names, addresses, codenames and group names.

“Yo, Sitara!” Marcus shouted. “Could you send me the data you found about our, little nightmare?”

Sitara, who had recomposed herself, answered, “Sure, Marcus.” She clearly didn’t agree that Wrench was out and about, considering the fifty million dollar bounty on him, but Sitara never said anything further. She was probably used to Wrench’s undying love for danger, so she probably figured that of course he’d leave the house now that there was a bullseye painted on his ass.

“Thank you,” said Marcus, ignoring the nasty look he received from the female hacker.

He opened the link Sitara sent him. Wrench widened his hidden eyes as he started in shock at Marcus’ screen. Some ass-hat who called himself ‘TH3 N1GHTM4R3’ had sent hundreds of messages concerning the bounty. Marcus did not exaggerate when he said it was to everyone either. The Bratva; the Tezcas; Prime_Eight; the yakuza and many other hacker groups and gangs had received the message. Two things peaked Wrench curiosity as he scanned through the data.  

One – they never mentioned him, specifically, so why the hell did everyone target him, specifically.
Two – this nightmare dude sent the bounty to every group of people known in San Francisco, The Marine and Oakland, all except Dedsec. Why?

The gears in Wrench’s wicked mind turned as he read the message repeatedly. He tried to act calm as if the situation didn’t really bother him. No matter how much he tried to remain composed, though, he couldn’t hide the fact that his hands grew clammy and small droplets of sweat trickled down his forehead. He felt his pulse pumping blood hard and semi fast into his veins.

Wrench had no idea what had got him so jumpy at this situation. Wrench usually loved it when someone raised hell, but something about this hell was oddly different. There was a certain feeling of wrongness that kept gnawing at the tip of his brain, but Wrench could not for the life of himself remember what that was. The thought of being found and taken by that wrongness twisted his stomach in the most uncomfortable manner, making him sick. He really, really didn’t want to be taken again, but he would never ever show such weakness in front of Marcus and the others. He was pathetic enough without adding that to the list.

Wrench said, “This nightmare dude knows me.”                                

He turned to steal a glance at Marcus. Upon turning, Wrench found that the hipster was already looking his way, and the engineer was happy now more than ever that the mask covered his facial features. He must’ve looked like a nervous wreck behind the thing.

“How’d you come to that conclusion?” Marcus never averted his eyes.

What else could it be? ‘TH3 N1GHTM2R3’ sent that bounty to every, single group of people in San Francisco, the Marine and Oakland; groups well known among civilians and Dedsec, some known for just Dedsec while others were completely unknown to both. Why else would you exclude the hacker group that exposed clueless secrets of major corporations and took down Blume itself? The very hacker group known to track down and unravel people and secrets.

“Did we get the bounty?” Wrench asked, not meeting Marcus’ eyes, but the hipster would never know, for his eyes remained hidden.

“Uhm, no?”

“That’s why, M. I mean, think about it. We have a reputation to unravel secrets and track down people. Shouldn’t Dedsec be the first group he’d contact?” Wrench turned further in his chair, facing the dark hipster wholeheartedly and he waved his hands in several gestures as he explained, “Unless, he knows me. Knows that I’m part of Dedsec, knows that you guys would never turn me in no matter how much money he’s offering. At least I hope so.”

Marcus averted his eyes. Wrench could clearly see the hipster was thinking, trying to find another explanation as to why they never received the bounty. Wrench was one hundred present positive that there was no other explanation, though.

Josh came shuffling towards the duo. His hands fondled with each other, eyes scanning the glitching mask and the wrong and unmatched emoticons it displayed.

“We have a problem,” he said bluntly.

“What’s wrong, Joshy-Josh?” Wrench smirked behind the mask. He knew the green clad hacker wasn’t very fond of nicknames, and found some joy in his secretly distressed state when Josh made an irritated face.

He was about to talk back at Wrench, commenting on his reckless behavior or impulsiveness like he usually did, but Marcus beat him to it. The hipster always noticed when an argument or a fight was brewing, and he always came to resolve it peacefully.

“What’s the problem, Josh?” he asked, interrupting the brewing fight.

His hands fondled more furiously with each other and he looked as distressed as Wrench felt. “The Tezcas have surrounded Gary’s Games and Glory,”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: The Stranger he knew so well

He stilled and tensed. His heart skipped a beat and small droplets of sweat tried to tear themselves from the pores on his forehead. He felt more than saw Wrench tense up beside him too. Marcus turned and looked at his masked crush, eyebrows drawn together in worry. Though the hipster felt the familiar fear of losing his best friend and crush dwell up inside the pit of his stomach, he couldn’t even begin to fathom what Wrench went through. The hipster had no idea how much memory the former vegetable had of the torture, but even a slight fragment might trigger some fear.

“How many?” asked Wrench, his voice shook slightly. It was barely audible, but Marcus, who sat right next to the man, heard it.

“Enough to surround the entire building.” Josh replied emotionless. It was weird how calm he remained. Usually, in situations like these, Josh would be the first to freak out. “Probably shouldn’t disregard reinforcements, either. The second we strike back, there’ll be more.”

Motherfucker, though Marcus. How in the hell were they going to get their asses out of that one?

“They say they want the freak,” Josh continued, still calm and monotone. He nodded his head towards Wrench, indicating he was the freak the Tezcas spoke of.

“Fuck you,” muttered Wrench. Marcus didn’t catch a shake this time.

It still semi agitated him how Josh was able to stay so calm. Marcus’ blood boiled with hot anger at the Tezcas. Haven’t they taken enough? First Horatio and now they want Wrench too? Fuck that! Marcus had no intention to hand over the anarchist, even if it meant he’d have to give up his life.

Even still, as Marcus’ blood boiled warmer and warmer with anger, Josh remained monotone. There was a small glint in the awkward hacktivist’s eyes, though. It was barely there, but Marcus recognized mischief when he first saw it. Josh had something up his sleeves.

Three firm and hasted knocks on the entrance interrupted Marcus from his thoughts. They sounded more as if a gorilla pounded on the poor door, hungry for some bananas more than a human being. It was a wonder how the thing still hung in its hinges.

“Give us the freak or we’ll come in and take him!” said a man adorned with a Mexican accent.

“Fuck, we’ve gotta do something, man. Ray, ever been in a situation like this before?” Marcus stood from his chair and waved his arms around frantically. His mind swam with possible plans of escape, but they all seemed to wander back to the horrific thought of the Tezcas taking Wrench away.

“Yeah, couple o’ times.” Ray also sounded calm. “But I think Josh here already have a plan.” He gestured towards said hacker, whose eyes gleamed even brighter now than before.

“Yes, actually,” Josh said. A small hint of a smile appeared on his otherwise monotone features. Was the hacktivist excited? That was definitely weird considering it was Josh, and the situation the Tezcas had put him and the entire team in. He ran to the Josh spot and returned with his laptop. “Wrench,” he said.

“Yes, dear?” Wrench asked with a fake accent, causing a small smile to appear on Marcus’ face, which the hipster hoped no one saw. The anarchist was too adorable at times.

“You remember that project we worked on before you got corn-holed?” Marcus, Sitara and Ray snorted. That sure was one way of saying it. Josh opened his laptop and typed away at lightning speed.

“Nope, I don’t remember Jack shit.”

“That doesn’t matter. I finished it while you were out partying that night.” He typed some more and mumbled something incoherent. He stopped typing for a second, scanning the screen in front of him before he started typing again. “Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,” Josh sang and clicked enter. “And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.”

Then a wave of screams and gunshots tore through the hackerspace.         

 

********** 

 

Josh smiled as he stomped his way through armored men from the Tezcas. This could be considered payback for Horatio, even though he already took their money and gave it to his family, he’d love to wreak some havoc among the men. This was his chance. Josh never considered himself a violent person. Actually, he feared violence more than anything, but Wrench insisted they program some violent features into the robotic spider for “defense purposes”. Josh knew that was bullshit, though, as the anarchist loved violent things just for the sake of causing violence, but Josh figured they’d need something they could defend themselves with, so he kept the machine guns and stomping mechanism anyway.

In addition to the violence, the hacktivist added a hacking feature. Now, the robotic spider of destruction could also hack into phones, laptops, cameras and such, gaining whoever used it easy access to headquarters and hideouts. Now, however, he’d use it to find out why everyone targeted Wrench of all people. There was no way the Anarchist was son of a man of such high standards.

Josh smiled and let out a small laugh when he stomped his way towards the entrance of Gary’s Games and Glory. Bullets flew everywhere. The tezcas fired without taking aim or thinking as they screamed and cursed, trying to rid the world of the big, metal spider. Many had called reinforcements, but Josh would simply crush the cars before the men even had a chance to get out. He made his way inside the store, and dashed towards six armed men who had taken cover behind the walls near the entrance to their Dedsec hideout.

When they saw the spider, they did as every other member had done; scream and shoot. It didn’t matter how many bullets they used thought, they would all go to waste anyways. Each stomp of the spider felt as if it danced its way across the room, each smash of the skull awakened a satisfying tingle within Josh, the kind you would get when you smash a fly. Never would the hacker ever have thought that there was a small, sadistic side to him, but there he was, killing people as if they were merely just ants.

“Okay, either batman is fighting superman, or there’s a giant, robotic spider up there,” Wrench said while looking up at the roof like everyone else did.

Josh kept his eyes on his laptop when he replied, “The second one. I thought you couldn’t remember anything.”

“I remembered it once I heard the screams of terror coming from the fuck-sticks. Ahh, what a glorious sound,” he sighed, his mask displayed ‘-.#’.

“If batman fought superman up there, Gary’s Games and Glory would be blown to bits by now. There was barely anything left of Gotham when they found out their mothers had the same names and stopped fighting.” Marcus said, probably directed at Wrench, Josh figured.

“Yeah, that was a bullshit ending, man. Civil war kicked way better ass and made more sense,” Wrench replied.

The two kept rambling, but Josh tuned them out. He had no time for purposeless conversations. He had people to smash and information to gain. A car carrying heavily armored men just pulled over outside the store. Josh had been waiting for that car for a while when the spider moved too slowly to stop someone from calling reinforcements. The men exited their vehicle and pulled out one minigun each. Usually they only carried a U100, but Josh assumed they actually used their brains for once and arrived with something a bit more heavy.

Ray moved to stand besides Josh along with Sitara and Marcus as he maneuvered the robot spider. Wrench, stuck in his seat, could only gaze longingly at the ceiling and listen to the gunshots that pretty much drowned the place. Not that Josh felt sorry for him. That’s what he got for keeping the recipe for the mask a secret. 

“Have I ever told you you’re a genius?” Ray asked as he studied the machine spider.

Josh swore he felt the butterflies in his stomach fly in loops. THE Raymond Kenney called him a genius. If Josh were able to, he would do flips as well. Instead, he answered. “No, but thank you.” He also turned slightly in his seat to show how important the compliment was to him.

“I better teach you them swaggers fast, son.” Ray said

Josh looked back on his screen. The miniguns did more damage that Josh had anticipated, but not enough to stop him completely. He finally used the machineguns on the spider and shot the men down within mere seconds. The spider had a few minor injuries, but nothing neither Josh nor the vegetable could fix.

Marcus clasped Josh’ shoulders and said, “Yo, Josh, man, that was awesome. You’re like Tony Stark, kicking gang bangers ass with a freaking sci-fi spider!” he danced and hopped around like he usually did.

“Hey, give me some credit, too, man. I helped build it.” Wrench argued. He had tried to move from his seat to look at the ‘super cool action scene’ going on upstairs, but without anyone or anything to support himself on, he just ended up on the floor.

Josh paid them no mind, though. He let them banter as he turned on NetHacks and searched for an unbroken phone. He stomped over corpse after corpse until he found a blue, beacon of hope just outside the store in the artistic alley. He hacked into the phone, going through messages first. Some of them were encrypted, others were not. Those that remained unencrypted had no special intention behind them. Just common people asking what’s for lunch, who took the chocolate bar in the fridge and who shall feed the dogs. Those that were encrypted, however, looked fairly interesting.

Codes of different numbers, letters and symbols sent back and forth between gang members. There was one encrypted message, however, that seemed particularly interesting to Josh. It had been sent to everyone in the Tezcas from the one bad guy Dedsec was looking for – TH3 N1GHTM4R3. Not only was it sent to everybody in the Tezcas, but also to everyone in Prime_Eight, the Bratva, Auntie Shu boys, the sons of Ragnarok and the 580’s and a lot of fixers. One particular fixer caught the hacktivists eyes - Jordi Chin.

Josh looked directly at Wrench, who had been seated back in his seat with a little help from Sitara and Marcus. “You’re fucked,” he said.

Jordi Chin, fixer of Aiden Pearce  also hunted Wrench. If the encounter Marcus had with Jordi was anything to go by, Josh would say that the man was quite badass. And the fact that such a badass man hunted down Wrench – a wounded mental patient – would imply that the vegetable stood no chance. He was screwed, to use fewer words.

“What, why? The boogieman coming for me?” Wrench answered.

Marcus moved from Wrench to look at what Josh was seeing. Marcus’s eyes widened completely, which had Wrench’s mask change from ‘?./’ to ‘!.X’, which said nothing of what the anarchist’s expression really was behind that thing. Was he surprised or did he have a normal facial expression as the X’s usually indicated?

“Jordi Chin? The Jordi Chin?” Marcus looked at Josh, who nodded. “The same Jordi Chin that kicked my ass?” Josh nodded yet again. Marcus locked eyes with Wrench, and said, “Would you like to be buried or cremated?”

Wrench clicked his tongue. “I’m wanted for fifty million alive, baby. Not gonna die anytime soon, especially by some ass-hat named Jordi Chin.” He adjusted in his seat. “Also, neither. I want a Viking funeral with a little personal, Wrench-y touch to it. Lay me down on a boat and surround my corpse with all my bombs. Also, the boat must be decorated with Dedsec shit, tribe style if that would be possible. Drench the boat in gasoline and send that shit out the coast of San Francisco, toward Alcatraz, of course. Shoot the boat with a flaming bow and arrow and sit back and watch the show.”

Josh remembered that time when the Bratva kidnapped Marcus and Wrench begged the hipster to take revenge ‘Wrench style.’ The bombs the anarchist set up in the houses were a mixture of fireworks and actual explosives, making a unique lightshow for the crew. Josh had to admit, if the bombs he would have in the boat were anything like the bombs he used to avenge Marcus, then that would be one hell of a cool funeral. Josh would never admit that aloud, though.

Instead, Josh said, “We don’t know whether you are wanted dead or alive.”
That earned him the finger from Wrench.

Josh shrugged it off, downloaded the encrypted message from the nightmare to his laptop and parked the itsy bitsy spider.

 

**********

 

The permanent ‘WTF’ that had repeated itself because Josh actually killed people was replaced quicker than Wrench himself would have thought. Sweet relief hit him like a wall when the penguin announced that the threat was dealt with, completely replacing the confused feeling. The nightmare couldn’t have him, at least not that day.

He still pondered and thought about the feeling of recognition and Déjà vu that lingered in the back of his head every time the nickname found its way in his mind, though. He had a feeling he knew who that asshole was, but he could not for the love of anything unholy remember something as simple as a name. It tore away on his mind. It was right there, on the very tip of his tongue. If only he could say it, say the name of the stranger he knew so well.
But no, Wrench thought. I’m in the confusional state, also known as the semi vegetable state.

He sat back in his chair and sniffed the air. The sweet scent of gunpowder sailed into his nose and calmed his nerves considerably. He felt his once tense shoulders relax. The police sirens that grew louder and louder the closer to the game shop they got drifted his mind to another topic. Wrench appreciated that, he’s had enough nightmares in his shitty life. He had no need for another one.

“So,” Sitara said somewhere in the background. Wrench turned to look at the woman, and found her standing with her arms crossed, stern gaze aimed at him. “I think it’s time we heard some of your theories of who the hell and what the hell is going on.”

Ray nodded and crossed his arms in front of his chest, too, followed by Marcus. The latter had a softer look in his eyes than the other two, though. The semi vegetable shifted his gaze between the three; feeling as if he’d been brought back into that small, dark room the FBI took him to when they interrogated him.

“Shit guys,” he replied, their gazes sending small droplets of sweat down his forehead. “I know just as much as you. The thing I’m most concerned of is the fact that we, as in Dedsec, never received a bounty, which probably means that the fuck-face knows more than he lets on.”

Ray nodded, but still seemed disappointed. “That’s it? You know nothing?”

Again, the anarchist moved his eyes between the three and instantly felt intimidated. Not only did their stance scream authority, there was also this particular look in their eyes. A look that both scared the shit out of him and pissed him off at the same time. The three of them looked at him as if they expected him to tell a lie. He hated that look, it brewed anxiety. Clammy palms, tightening lungs and stirring in his stomach, all signs of anxiety. Wrench did what he did best whenever he felt anxious – he turned it to anger.

Wrench slammed his fists on the table, causing small explosions of pain to tingle through his wrists. “You know what, fuck you,” Wrench yelled. “You’re saying that every time there’s a rash on my ass you expect me to know where the fuck it came from?”

Sitara tried to butt in, “Wrench, calm down-“

“No, fuck that! Rashes comes from fucking everywhere when we screw around the way we do.” He pointed an accusing finger their way. “I’m a fucking semi vegetable anyways. There’s no point in asking me.”

And silence. Ray and Marcus stared wide-eyed at the anarchist, though they should have been used to his explosive attitude by now. Maybe they didn’t expect him to lash out so soon after the coma? Who the heck knew? Wrench was only glad he managed to shut them up. He had just found peace with the scent of gunpowder and they had to go ahead and ruin it. Wrench was in a foul mood now. He wanted to go home.

“I’ve got news about the encrypted message I found,” Josh emerged from his corner.

Great, Wrench thought. More stress factors.

“The Nightmare has dropped small hints such as ‘he always wears a mask, is a full-fledged anarchist and a part time hacker’ to show that it may be you.”

And with that, one final thought made its way to Wrench’s head.

That man definitely knows me.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Confession?

To Marcus, Wrench had always been special. Ever since they first met at the beach by the Golden Gate Bridge, the latter always intrigued the hipster. The mask caught the hipster’s attention first, of course. He tried to sneak glances at the masked man’s face each time he slightly lifted his mask to sip on his beer, which, looking back, was probably a violation of the anarchist’s privacy. Marcus thought that he would take it off when they were somewhere safe, like in the hackerspace or in Wrench’s garage, but he was quick to learn that the mask stayed on no matter whom he was with or where he was at.

Even when the hipster and the anarchist had left Gary’s Games and Glory that day, after the itsy bitsy spider had gone wild on the Tezcas, the mask remained glued to the man’s face. The mask was still broken, too, annoyingly so. It glitched and flashed and probably displayed the wrong emoticons on the LED screen, telling no one how Wrench really felt.

Wrench also seemed more quiet than usual. Sure, he still answered Marcus’ questions with quirky remarks and jokes, but that was just a poor attempt at hiding his true emotions, the hipster was sure of it. He had observed the anarchist closely ever since their friendship had developed, and had come to find certain traits that reveal when Wrench was in a foul mood, but tried to hide it.

Good-mood-Wrench took a lot of space with his body language; hands everywhere, back straight and voice loud. Foul-mood-Wrench, however, covered less space with fewer hand movements, slumped back and an ‘inside voice’. Also, his mask changed emoticons a lot when he was in a good mood, while in a bad mood, they usually remained on the X’s, sometimes it would quickly change to ‘-.-‘ or ‘=.=’, but they would only last a second. The broken mask did nothing to help Marcus decipher whether his mood was foul or good, though.

What was tricky about Wrench’s bad moods was the fact that Marcus had no idea whether he was sad or just thoughtful. Marcus struggled to figure that out now, as he and Wrench made their way through the streets of San Francisco. Wrench sat silently in his seat in the van, staring outside the window, at the passing Christmas decorated stores.

“Why do people feel the need to decorate for Christmas so damn early,” Wrench pondered, breaking the silence he created in the process. “It’s the middle of November, for fucks sake. Christmas isn’t until another month.”

Wrench did not like Christmas. Marcus had figured as much when he celebrated the holiday with the crew for the first time, which was last year. He asked the others what they were giving the anarchist, to which they said they never gave him anything, and neither should Marcus. Marcus called bullshit and got him something anyways, however, when Christmas arrived, he never had the chance to hand over the gift. Wrench showed up for dinner, but left as soon as everyone was stuffed. He sneaked out like a ninja – he was there, then he wasn’t. The others said that Christmas simply wasn’t his cup of tea.

“It’s the end of November, Wrench,” Marcus replied. “Besides, the stores feel the need to show off all the amazing Christmas decorations they sell this year.”

“Still. Christmas is overrated as fuck. Praising the son of a god that don’t exist, Ho Ho fucking Ho.” Wrench stopped his gazing and turned towards Marcus. “Santa is awesome though. Imagine me in that sled.” ‘^.O’ his mask displayed.

Marcus snorted. “You’d wear the same outfit as Santa, except you’d have a red, spiked vest on top of the jacket. Oh, and a red mask!”

“And red, ripped jeans!”

“Yeah, and red, ripped jeans! And, instead of throwing Christmas gifts you’d just throw coal at everyone’s faces, even nice kids!”

Wrench let out a breathy laugh. “Man, screw that. All kids are naughty. Also, no reindeers. My sled shall have jets!”

And there was the Wrench he knew and loved. Despiteful towards animal, despiteful towards kid and despiteful towards Christmas, with the exception of Santa Claus.

“And machine guns,” Marcus added.

“And rocket launchers.” Wrench continued. “Oh, and the rockets will say ‘Merry Fucking Christmas’ when they explode.”

Marcus shook his head. Maybe he’d have the dildo gun in the dashboard too, just in case the machineguns and the rocket launchers had a malfunction.

Silence befell the duo like fog, creeping up on them as the two descended into their thoughts yet again. What Wrench was thinking about, Marcus had no idea, but his own thoughts wandered to ‘TH3 N1GTM4R3’. Wrench believed that the man or woman behind the coded nickname knew him. If that was the case, then that meant that the person was most likely from Wrench past. If so, then it would help a great deal if the anarchist would share something, anything that might help, but Marcus knew that was a long shot.

Wrench trusted very few with his personal information. Though he knew it was not true, the hipster could not help but feel as if the anarchist didn’t trust him at all. If Marcus were to make a list of things he knew and didn’t know about Wrench, the latter would take the prize as the largest list anyone had ever seen. Some good candidates for the ‘do not know list’ are his real name, where he came from and where he lived, his family/origin, why he wore a mask, why he hated Blume and big corporations and why he had such a hateful nature towards animals. At first, Marcus assumed Wrench just hated them, but when the two of them encountered a dog while they strolled down the street one time, Wrench straight up feared the four-legged creature.

Marcus had a hard time understanding why he wouldn’t share anything, even if it meant stopping ‘TH3 N1GHTM1R3’

The hipster halted the van when they arrived at his apartment building. He turned off the engine, got out and headed to the passenger seat, where Wrench had already opened the door. The anarchist stretched his arms out towards Marcus as he approached, much like a baby would to its mother.

“Come here, handsome,” he said as Marcus let him use him as his personal crutch. “You’re my knight in shining armor, man.”

“Nah, more like knight in shining hoodie,” Marcus replied.

Marcus dragged Wrench inside and into the elevator. “Oh, I like that,” Wrench laughed as the doors closed. “Remember when we sacrificed Wrench jr. for a greater cause and you called me the masked highway man?”

“Yeah?”

“We didn’t really find a suiting nickname for you, though, since you disliked ‘the dark stranger’ so much.”

“It’s a cringy nickname, funky bunch.”

“But now, we have a new one!” he cleared his throat, and with a deeper voice, he said, “Days grew darker for the masked highway man as he was unable to move around on his own. Luckily, though, he had the knight in shining hoodie by his side, aiding him thorough the dark times.”

Marcus let out a breathy laugh. The elevator doors opened and the duo made their way to the hipster’s apartment as he said, “That’s way better than the cringy ass nickname you gave me before.”

Marcus shook his head. He thought back to when his crush on Wrench had newly developed. If that were then, he would be red as ketchup. He got all giddy on the inside because Wrench’s crazy imagination was one of the many traits Marcus absolutely adored. He valued their friendship, but Marcus had grown desperate for something more. He wanted to confess to the anarchist soon, but he was nervous. Marcus was never nervous about something like that.

He maneuvered Wrench to the bed, where the crippled man laid down with a huge sigh. The hipster sat down next to him, on his side of the bed, and picked up the DualShock 4. He had to use the black one since Wrench broke the red one – which was Marcus’ favorite – when he slammed it in the accented woman’s face. No more multiplayer games, now Marcus only had one controller.

He pressed the PS button in the middle, which also automatically turned on the TV. He put on Family Guy on Netflix, which Marcus usually put on as background noise. He stared blankly at the TV, not really paying attention, as he let his mind wander.  

He wondered how his confession would go. The man was clearly straight, what with the photo of his girlfriend in the garage and by the Wrench Bench in the hackerspace. He had no idea how the two were doing, though, but he assumed their relationship wasn’t anything to brag about since Naomi never burst through Marcus’ front door, demanding to know how Wrench was doing after such a horrible torture.

Marcus sighed and rubbed his eyes. He should just get it over with. The whole situation started to border pathetic. His heart picked up speed and he felt the butterflies in his stomach do several flips. He never knew he’d be this nervous to tell Wrench something. He took a deep breath.
You can do this, Marcus, he encouraged himself. Wrench won’t judge you, he never judges anyone without reason.

Maybe that would be the reason.

“Wrench- ” he started and turned to face the anarchist, however, he stopped when he had fully turned.

Wrench had fallen asleep. Dressed in his spiked vest and bracelet, hoodie and mask, he had fallen asleep. Marcus let out the breath he held and let his head fall to the headrest of the bed.

“Fuck,” he muttered and put his hand on his face in a small face palm of defeat. He almost confessed. He would have done it, too, if only Wrench had remained awake. Damn, better luck next time, then.

He looked at the anarchist again and deemed that sleeping with all those spikes could not be comfortable. He slowly and carefully pried off the vest and the bracelet. He debate whether to take his borrowed sweatpants off, but Marcus was still a creep, so he did. Besides, sleeping with sweatpants and a hoodie would get hot. Now, with Wrench only in his boxers and hoodie, Marcus felt more satisfied.

One piece of clothing remained, though, which was the mask. He hesitated, his hand hovering over the broken LED screen. Would Wrench be pissed off if he woke up without his mask? Would he lose trust in Marcus? The hipster had no intention to find out as he let the mask stay on. He turned Wrench to his side and made himself comfortable as the big spoon. His stomach twisted at the thought of losing Wrench’s trust over something as silly as the mask. He would let the man sleep with the thing, no matter how uncomfortable it looked.

As Marcus closed his eyes, he felt the familiar feeling of bliss and happiness. He would never get tired of hugging Wrench close while he slept. He felt like he belonged there, embracing his crush.

Too bad about that confession, though.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: Confession.

The first thing he felt was the throbbing pain in his head. It pulsed and pulsed and it circled his head like the Gulf Stream circling the earth. Then, he felt the pain in his left wrist. No, in his right wrist. No, his feet. The pain was everywhere, pulsing, throbbing and piercing its way through his body like spears. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t think.

He threw his hands left and right, twisted his body this way and that. He tried desperately to free himself of the torture, of the nightmare. No matter what he did, though, he still remained trapped below an unseen surface.

Wrench gasped. His heart raced on, pumping wave after wave of adrenaline to his hands and feet. He tore himself from the restrains that held him down. His eyes darted in every direction. He had to find a way out; he had to escape.

His frantic eyes landed on the nightstand beside the bed he sat in. Then they landed on the closet, then the TV. Netflix had paused an episode of family guy to ask if Marcus was still there. Marcus? Wrench turned his head and his gaze landed on the sleeping hipster – the half-naked sleeping hipster.

His left hand laid in an unnatural position compared to the rest of his body - he faced Wrench, but his hand had been thrown on his sides. Had Marcus been holding him? Was that the ‘restraint’? Marcus did say he liked to hug things while he slept, which was why they always woke up spooning and all cuddled up. Not that Wrench minded, of course. Waking up with someone beat waking up alone the same way bacon beat broccoli. It just felt strange that two best friend spooned each other when they slept. It probably wasn’t the most usual thing you’d see in a slumber party.

He stretched his arms above his head. The satisfying crack was all he needed to hear before he sighed and laid down again. He closed his eyes and focused on his beating heart. Though it still beat fast, it wasn’t frantic. It had started to slow down. He breathed in and out, willing his heart to drop to a steady beat. He was safe; there was no use for adrenaline.  

An arm snaked its way around his waist and pulled him close. The anarchist opened his eyes and inspected the dark skinned arm. He shook his head, a small smile gracing his lips. Marcus had not lied to him at least. The hipster simply liked hugging things in his sleep. Wrench didn’t mind, but he couldn’t help but wonder if Marcus would have done the same if he had his eyes open. The anarchist found that hard to believe.

He closed his eyes yet again and settled closer to Marcus. That was definitely not how friends usually had a slumber party, but whatever. The hipster was warm and provided Wrench with a feeling of safety. He also liked having someone to sleep and wake up with, it didn’t really matter who it was.

He let his mind wander to the nightmare, not the person behind the bounty, but the foul dream he just had.  Wrench remembered nothing of the torture the other said he went through, but he had no doubt that his nightmare was some PTSD flashback to it. No one mentioned what they had done to him, but if the experience was bad enough it was sure to leave a mental scar, even if Wrench was in the confuional state. Besides, the broken bones spoke for themselves.

He turned and lay on his side, his back to Marcus. The feeling of pain in his wrists and legs were no doubt the memory of the broken bones, and the feeling of drowning was probably due to some sort of water torture. The headache could be anything, whether it was the torturers bashing his head in or something else remained a mystery until further notice.

The feeling of claustrophobia, however, confused him. Wrench laid down on his back again. Did he get that feeling because of the restraint, or was there something else? Tight and small spaces were excellent for psychological torture, especially if the victim had claustrophobia. Did they do psychological torture on him?

He sighed and opened his eyes. He tried to rub his tired orbs with his useless hands, but soon found out that he had his mask on. That’s when he remembered that he had fallen right asleep when they had gotten back from the hackerspace, without taking off his bracelet, mask, pants nor his spikey vest. The hipster could be hurt; hugging Wrench in his usual attire was like hugging a bear trap.

He looked down on himself only to see no sight of the vest and bracelets. He lifted the duvet and found no pants, either. Just his – Marcus’ – boxers and his hoodie. He turned to look at the hipster.
Did he-, Wrench thought, but found it unbelievable that he would do such thing. Did he undress me? He looked down upon his attire again. Wrench himself had certainly not done it, so unless the fixers that were after him had some kind of undressing fetishes, Marcus was the only suspect.
That creepy motherfucker.

Speaking of the devil, the creepy motherfucker groaned. The hand around the anarchist’s waist tightened its grip around him, successfully pulling him closer to the darker male.

Wrench stiffened. He had no idea what to feel, what to think or what to do. Sure, the arm around his waist provided some sort of fucked up safety, but being pulled flat against Marcus was a whole other story. The latter literally had his head on Wrench’s chest, sleeping like a baby as if the anarchist was his mother.

And to add fuel to the fire, Marcus only slept in his pajama pants. There was no shirt. Wrench laid stiff like a stick, heart pounding in his chest. What the fuck was he supposed to do? Squirm away from the hipster, return the ‘passionate’ hug or lay there as if he had just shat his pants and stilled because he didn’t want to smear the shit all over the bed? He chose the third option.

Marcus groaned once more and pulled the freaked out anarchist impossibly closer. Even going as far as to hook their legs together. His brain had frozen along with his body. He had no problem with cuddling, and he was by no means homophobic, but he found it weird that his best friend used him as his personal body pillow.

His confused feelings toward the other only helped Wrench stiffen up more. After he and Naomi had broken p, he vowed to never be in a relationship again. Everyone left him anyway, so he had turned off any feeling of romantic affections, but lately, as the hipster and the anarchist had spent more time together, those dammed feeling started to bubble up again.

He wouldn’t call it love. It was more like affection, how a twelve-year-old boy looks up on Iron man or Captain America. Marcus was everything Wrench wasn’t; good looking, charismatic, a good leader and NOT mentally fucked up. What was there not to love and look up to? Marcus was Wrench’s Iron man, nothing more and definitely nothing less.

At least that’s what he told himself.

He had no time for romance anyway. He had a crazy motherfucker who called himself TH3 N1GHTM4R3 up his ass, his friends tying to dig up his buried past and he had to deal with PTSD from a torture session he didn’t remember. There simply wasn’t any room for a romantic love interest.  It’s not like Marcus liked him back, either. Maybe as a friend, but not a homosexual lover. The dude was clearly straight.

The clearly straight dude stirred in his sleep once again. The hand he had snaked around Wrench’s waist moved to his right shoulder and gripped the fabric there. Wrench felt his heart pick up speed again as the hipster opened his eyes. How in the shit-fuck was he supposed to explain their intimate position? Not that it was Wrench’s fault, the hipster was the one who tangled them up like that.

“Um,” Marcus said, voice ragged, and looked up at Wrench. “Hey, there… Wrench.”

“Sup, M,” Wrench faced the hipster, but didn’t meet his soft, brown eyes. He praised everything holy for his freaky mask, which not only allowed him to avoid eye contact, but also hid the very visible blush on his cheeks. “I know you said you hugged things in your sleep, but this is a bit extreme, don’t you think?”

Marcus looked to be in need of a mask and one of his hipster turtleneck sweaters, because his blush covered not only his cheeks, but his neck as well. No matter how embarrassed the obviously straight hipster seemed, though, he did not make haste to move. He still laid on Wrench chest, his hand gripping Wrench’s hoodie and their feet hooked together like a tangled mess of wires.

“Yeah, about that,” Marcus said. “We need to talk.”

Wrench swallowed a lump in his throat and his heart beat impossibly faster. He had no idea what the two of them had to talk about when it came to Marcus being all cuddly in his sleep, but he didn’t like the tone of voice the hipster used. It freaked him out.

Marcus got off of Wrench and sat down next to him in bed. “Listen, Wrench. You’ve been kinda… distant lately, man. You never talk about the torture-“

“Neither do you,” Wrench interrupted. Marcus gave him a blank stare, to which the anarchist responded, “Sorry. Please continue.”

“You never talk about the torture nor how you’re doin’. I know you’ll survive and walk again, physically, but I wanna know what’s goin’ on inside that messed up head of yours.”

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

Marcus sighed. He took Wrench’s calloused, bony, pale left hand in his soft, warm hand. “Listen, man. I know you value privacy more than anything, but privacy and straight up drowning yourself are two completely different things. I wanna be there for you the same way you are always there for me. Like that time when the Bratva tried to crush me alive and you punched a hole in the wall and took revenge for me. I wanna punch holes in walls for you too, bud, but you won’t let me.”

Because I don’t deserve to have a hole punched in a wall on a wall, Wrench thought.
He didn’t deserve Marcus or even Dedsec. He’d be the end of the organization, he was sure of it. The only problem, though, was the fact that Wrench was too selfish to leave. He loved Dedsec, they were family to him, and the anarchist found himself unable to throw the towel on them. One thing Wrench knew for certain, though, was the fact that he was the only reason the public had to fear the group. His anarchistic ways could be used against the entire organization and stop the movement all together. Because of him, they could be labeled a terrorist organization.  

“I know you probably don’t think you deserve it or whatever bullshit runs through your mind, but god damn it Wrench, I care about you! Like, a lot…”

Marcus delivered puzzle piece by puzzle piece, but Wrench refused to put it together. He knew where the hipster was going – he thought he knew – and he didn’t like it. Marcus could do so much better, so much more good looking.

“Marcus,” the anarchist said. “Please, don’t say you like me.”

Marcus laughed. “But I do, dumbass. You’re funny, smart, creative and one hell of an anarchist. I love your geeky side; I’ve never discussed sci-fi and action movies so deeply as when I do it with you. Besides, you have some pretty fucked up theories, and I love that!”

Oh, Marcus. What the fuck is wrong with you.

Marcus sighed. “Can you take off the mask, Wrench?”

If his heart beat fast before, it was now trying to choke him. His brain was having a nervous breakdown. Wrench could imagine red, flashing lights, loud, noisy alarms and every brain cell running around, screaming and shouting. No, he most certainly would not take off the mask. The breakdown would turn into a meltdown.

“Please.”

Wrench closed his eyes. Fuck, he thought.

He slowly moved his hand - the hand Marcus did not hold - behind his head. He hesitantly unclasped the straps, his hands shaking from lack of both physical therapy and nervousness. Once the horrifying sound of the claps clicking free echoed in the anarchist’s ears, he crept his hand to his mask. He took a deep breath, feeling brown eyes staring at him, practically digging a hole on the side of his face. He did not want to remove it, every fiber screamed ‘no’, but he slowly removed it nonetheless.

Once the mask was off and held in a strong, firm grip in his right hand, Wrench bowed his head forward. He cursed himself for cutting his hair. If hadn’t done that, his silver strands would’ve been long enough to cover the burn scar, but the hair barely even reached his eyes.

Marcus cupped Wrench’s right cheek, and with little force, he turned the anarchist’s head towards him. The anarchist didn’t find the courage to look the hipster directly in the eye, but he let the other man redirect his face. Marcus let go of Wrench’s right hand – which made its way to the mask and held on to it in a deathtrap, much like his other hand -  and used that hand to touch Wrench’s burn mark. The anarchist flinched, but made no move to push the hipster away.

“Wrench, look at me.” Marcus said.

The anarchist complied, meeting the soft brown eyes if only for a second, before he averted his piercing blue orbs.

The hipster smiled as he cupped Wrench’s cheeks. He kept staring at the nervous wreck with a feeling the nervous wreck in question refused to acknowledge.

“You’re so, fucking beautiful,” Marcus said and pulled Wrench into a small kiss.

The anarchist hesitantly kissed back, which was enough for Marcus to deepen the kiss. Wrench got carried away, too, as he pulled Marcus closer, surprisingly enjoying himself. So many feelings went through that kiss; love, anxiety, affection and bliss.

The duo pulled away, but neither opened their eyes. “So, can we just cuddle?” Marcus breathed.

“Yeah,” Wrench replied.

The two settled in bed, Marcus laid in the same position as before with his head on Wrench’s chest and their feet all tangled up. The anarchist put the mask on the nightstand and wrapped his arms around the hipster.

“Your heart’s beating hella fast, man,” Marcus said.

“I know,” muttered Wrench.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Make out sessions and Dildos!

Never had Marcus ever slept as soundly as he did that night. Not only did he hug his crush, but this time, Wrench hugged him back. The hipster woke up before the anarchist, as usual. He stared down at his sleeping boyfriend, his maskless face pressed into the hipster’s chest. He brushed soft, silver hair and marveled at the beauty the other beheld. Why Wrench thought so lowly of himself seemed ridiculous to Marcus. He could never fathom the reason behind the anarchist’s low self-esteem, the man beamed with attractive features.

For starters, Marcus could drown within the bright jewels that were Wrench’s eyes. The bright blue color almost seemed unnatural at first glance. He had soft, pale, flawless skin, if you didn’t count the burn mark of course, but that just added to his bad-ass-ness. Soft hair, though it was usually just a tangled mess under the hood. Wrench also had a body to die for. The lean figure possessed some muscles, some flesh to the bones, which made him the perfect pillow to sleep on. And, despite the harsh exterior, Wrench was a real softie. He was shy yet outgoing, so insecure yet so confident.

Yes, Wrench was many things, but ugly and unattractive was not one of them.

The creepy hipster had dreamt of this moment for months. He smiled as he hugged the anarchist ever closer. The man crushed beneath the hold of the hipster groaned and tried to move, to turn around. Marcus, however, held the body tight. The night time marathons grew old real quick and the darker male  was determined to stop it, even if it meant squeezing his beloved Wrench to the point he turned blue.

Wrench eventually gave in to Marcus’ tight hold, though, and settled in the position he laid before; squeezed into a bare hipster-chest. Marcus smiled, the feeling of bliss and happiness never left since he woke up on the anarchist’s chest. Another feeling bubbled within Marcus as well. It was a feeling similar to have finally found yourself a home after years of searching. Settlement and belonging, the two feelings combined.

Marcus sighed. He kept stroking the soft, silver strands and hummed to himself. He settled closer to the anarchist, ready to get even more cuddled up for two more hours, when his phone rang from the nightstand behind him. Wrench groaned and stirred due to the loud noise that blasted from the hipster’s phone as Marcus reached for the small device.

“Sup, Sitara?” he asked.

“Hello, Marcus,” the woman replied from the other end of the phone. “You up for a field trip?”

“Hell yeah. When and where?”

“I’m coming to you, driving from the HQ in a bit. Get you VIPC ready to leave.”

“VIPC?” Marcus questioned and turned to hug his crush with his free hand.

“Very irritating pervert crush.” She sounded proud as she replied.

Marcus gave her a fake laugh and hung up. He put the phone on the bed behind Wrench, who stirred and moved, possibly not in his sleep no more.

“Who the fuck calls at this time of day?” the anarchist asked, voice husky and groggy with sleep, which made his usual soft voice sound deep. It was kind of hot.

“Sitara,” Marcus replied, his voice had shaken off the grogginess a long time ago, but his voice was naturally deeper that Wrench’s. “And it’s 1 PM by the way. Don’t come here with no ‘this time of day’ bullshit. You sure sleep a lot for a man who has slept for almost two months, ya know?”

Wrench chuckled a deep, husky chuckle. Marcus would lie if he said he didn’t get the slightest bit turned on by the sound. “And you sure like a lot of dicks for a straight man.”

“One dick is a lot?” Marcus raised an eyebrow.

“One dick is one too many for man who is supposed to masturbate to women.”

Marcus found no reply to that, mostly because that husky voice of Wrench hypnotized him. The voice was just too sexy! How was a man supposed to concentrate when Wrench spoke with such fluid hotness? It was like trying to focus on a lecture in class when the teacher had the most soothing voice anyone had ever heard; you were bound to fall asleep.

So, Marcus did the only sensible thing he could think off; make Wrench shut the fuck up. He cupped two pale cheeks with his dark hands and moved Wrench’s face away from his bare chest, and clasped their lips together.

The anarchist’s lips felt as soft as they did last night. Wrench hesitated to kiss back, again much like last night, but he too slowly melted into the kiss. Once the anarchist fully committed, Marcus’ heart was already on fire. He felt warm from both the kiss and the man whom he shared it with. His heart beat with passion and he wanted to take this kiss further – deeper.

He slithered his tongue along Wrench’s lower lip. The silver-head opened his mouth as he moved his hands around Marcus’ neck, whom slid his tongue into the other’s mouth. He explored the wet cavern with his tongue before he found Wrench’s. The silver-head moaned into the kiss, and Marcus went wild.

He broke the kiss to climb on top of the anarchist, and straddled his waist. He dove in for another kiss, to which Wrench responded to immediately this time. Marcus pulled the lean man closer and the anarchist did the same. They moved their lips in sync and it felt as if time had frozen. Marcus could finally kiss his crush on the lips - his soft, pink lips.

They broke the kiss yet again, both waiting a minute to open their eyes so they could breathe. Once soft, brown eyes met the vibrant blue of Wrench’s, Marcus’ heart that had previously been on fire, melted. How could someone not fall for Wrench. The eye contact only lasted a few seconds, though, as they always did, for Wrench looked away. They still had to work on maintaining eye contact.

“What was that for?” Wrench asked, his voice almost a soft whisper.

“Your mornin’ voice kinda turned me on, “ Marcus sheepishly replied and, with his hands still cupped around Wrench’s cheeks, turned the anarchist’s face towards him again. “This,” the hipster said and kissed Wrench for the third time.

That kiss was more a kiss than a make out session. It was small and soft yet equally filled with love and affection.

“That was my morning kiss. I expect one every morning.”

“Fuck,” Wrench replied, still refusing to meet Marcus’ eyes. “You’re such a demanding boyfriend.”

And there was the word he’d wanted to hear Wrench call him for so long. Boyfriend. His heart had already melted, and what remained of the mangled thing was left a fluttered mess. If this morning kept going uninterrupted, Marcus would be in dire need of a heart smith.

A loud bang from the other room, followed by the voice of miss interruption screeched from the other room. “Ready or not, here I come! Don’t do anything creepy in there!” Sitara yelled out.

Wrench was quick to reach for his broken mask and put it on his face where it belonged. Marcus moved from his position straddling the anarchist, to his side of the bed beside him. He crossed his arms and waited to for miss interruption to break his poor bedroom door open, which she had probably already done to his front door.
So much for an uninterrupted afternoon, the hipster thought grumpily.

Sitara opened the door, but not as violently as she did the front door. She appeared to be hesitant, but whether that was because she had a chance at seeing them in a creepy position or because there was a small chance that Wrench was without his mask and she didn’t want to invade his privacy remained unknown to Marcus.

First came the purple hair, tied into that weird ponytail she seemed to love. Then came the face, adorned with brightly colored eyeshadow and the nose piercing, as Sitara peaked her head to look at the two men in bed.

“All clear for entry?” Miss interruption asked.

“No, you’re cockblocking us. First the phone call and now this? Leave us, vile woman!” Wrench said, his robotic voice in place, mask glitching away as he pointed towards the door.

“That’s too bad, Wrench,” Sitara emerged completely from the door. “Marcus agreed to go on a field trip with me.”

Wrench gasped dramatically and turned to the darker male beside him. “You would leave me for this creature? Marcus, I’m hurt.” He placed his hands dramatically over his heart.

“Aw, Wrench,” Marcus placed his hand on Wrench’s hooded shoulders. “You know this could never work. We’re from two different worlds. You, a rich, white man, with me, a poor, black man? People will look at us funny.”

“Fuck people, dude. And fuck that! I was never rich.”

“According to TH3 N1GHTM4R3 you were,” Sitara butted in as she swayed her way to Wrench’s side of the bed, “Mr. Wrench Campbell Carter. Besides, you don’t have to worry about Marcus running off with me. Change of plans, Ray wanted to join you instead, Marcus.” She turned her attention the hipster.

“What?” Marcus asked. “Why?”

“Because he wanted to explore the place himself. Said he haven’t seen anything interesting in a while. Meanwhile, me, Josh and Wrench –“ she also placed her hand on Wrench’s shoulder, “- over here will go to the garage to fix a certain mask and hopefully regain the lost data of Wrench’s memory.”

Wrench said nothing, but he did move his eyes from Sitara to Marcus repeatedly. They both had their hands on both of his shoulders and Marcus found it hard to decipher whether the anarchist felt bothered by it or comforted.

At long last, Wrench said, “Am I the only one bothered by the fact that I only have my boxers on underneath the duvet?”

“EW!” Sitara yelled and jumped off the bed.

 

********** 

 

So far, the day had turned out to be great! First off, he got to have a wet, naughty make out session with the hipster, and Wrench never declined that. Second, Sitara took him to his garage, his beloved garage with tools and trinkets and machines. He haven’t been there for what felt like a decade, and the anarchist was more than thrilled to finally go back there, to fix his mask, no less. Third, he and Marcus were boyfriends.

Both Sitara and Marcus acted like his crutches when they arrived at their destination. The smell of grease and oil and gunpowder hit his nostrils like the scent of roses. Gunpowder had never smelt so fantastic and so much like home before. His tools laid in a scattered mess around his workbench, where Ray stood and admired some of his work from before the infamous torture incident.

Most of them were boom booms of course, though the ones Wrench invented were much cooler that the explosives you’d buy in a store. He added additional fireworks, of course, but he also worked on getting sound effects in there. So far, the sound effect had either been blown to bits by the explosion or drowned by the sound of it.

Something among the bombs and torn apart guns stood out, however. Underneath the workbench laid a box filled with dildos in many different colors. On top of the workbench laid a blood red dildo with wires and electronics sticking out of it. That particular dildo appeared to have Ray most intrigued.

“What the hell is this?” the dreadlocked man said, his face locked in dread as he displayed the dildo for everyone to see.

Josh shook his head.
Sitara rolled her eyes.
Marcus snorted.

Wrench tore himself away from his personal crutched and stomped his way to Ray, literally. He ignored the shouts of protest from the hipster and purple-haired mother behind him and halted on with one foot casted and the other weak and wobbly.

“Don’t touch that!” yelled Wrench and took the wired dildo away from the dreadlocked man’s hands. “It might be unstable.”

“A dildo gun, Wrench?” Marcus asked.

“No, no,” Wrench raised his index fingers, which still sent tiny tingles of pain through his fist. “A dildo launcher,” he squeezed the tips of his fingers together like master chefs did when they had made a perfect meal.

“No way,” Marcus said. Wrench nodded. “Fo’ real?”

“Yes! And they explode, Marcus! I will also add in some pornographic sound effects, but that’s a work in progress.”

“Why’s this necessary again?” Ray asked; eyebrow raised.

“To eliminate enemies in a fun way and for the enemies to die in a fun, erotic and possibly homoerotic way.”

The dildo gun started off as a joke, of course, but the more Wrench thought about it, the more hilarious it seemed. First, he imagined a gun shaped like a dick, which he also had the blueprints for, but then he imagined an RPG or a grenade launcher that fired explosive dicks and the tingle in his stomach grew larger with excitement! He had to make one of those, but he needed the proper ingredients - dildos and gunpowder!

The sex shop management looked at him funny when he bought all the sticky dildos they had, but that only tingled his excitement even more.

After Ray finally let the topic go, him and Sitara explained where and what his and Marcus’ fieldtrip was about, which was some abandoned gang hideout at silicon valley and possible clue to TH3 N1GHTM4R3, the hipster and the dreadlocked grandpa left for their adventure. That left Wrench and Sitara.

… And Josh.

Though Wrench first hadn’t noticed the green clad hacker, he sure as hell did now. He never left Wrench’s side when he sat down by the worknench, ready to fix the mask. He hung over the anarchist’s shoulder, watching silently what Wrench would do to the ‘magic’ artifact. The second Wrench sat down on the chair Sitara had fetched for him, Josh threw away his laptop and rushed to Wrench’s side, ready to inspect some mask-fixing.

The fact that Josh hung over his shoulder like a moon clings to it’s mother planet had Wrench hesitate to take off the mask in the first place, which left both of them without anything to do. Josh tried to encourage Wrench to start; he said stuff like ‘I won’t look at your face’, or ‘I’ll only watch the mask’.

He stood there for another hour, though, until Sitara forcefully dragged him back to his laptop where she told him to find TH3 N1GHTM4R3, or at least a clue. Then the tapping started, but he could deal with that.

After he made sure that the duo sat behind him, he reached under the hood and unclasped the mask. The loud click that rang in his ear had his heart beat a little heavier. Wrench despised taking off his mask when other people lounged around, even with Marcus. Something ugly grew in the bottom of his stomach and the heavy beating of his heart only encouraged it to grow larger. It made him want to throw up, but it was only a phantom feeling.

The beads of sweat trickled down his forehead faster that the anarchist had anticipated, and the nervousness shaking up his body triggered the shaking in his hands even more.

He put the broken thing on his workbench and inhaled a large amount of air.
It’s just Josh and Sitara. Both the assholes probably stared openheartedly at me when I was in a coma.
Wrench exhaled, and though his heart never bothered to slow down, it worked.

 

********** 

 

“So, how’s things between you n’ Wrench?” Ray asked as Marcus drove towards their destination. He drove slowly as he and Ray wasn’t in a hurry, and they both had decided that it would be good for them to actually take things slow for once.

“Good. We’re actually together now.” Marcus smiled.

“Really?” Ray raised an eyebrow. Marcus nodded, grinning widely as he kept his eyes on the road. “Since when?”

“Since last night.”

“Well shit. Congrats buddy.” Ray patted Marcus on the shoulder, giving the hipster a warm feeling both from the thoughts of being together with Wrench and for the support he got from the old man. “I gotta be honest with you, son, I never thought you’d work up the guts to actually go for it.”

And Marcus could see that. He, too, doubted his courage more than once. He believed that he’d remain a creep for at least two or three months longer, but it seemed that faith would have it differently.

Not that he minded the slightest. Being with Wrench had so far been everything Marcus had dreamt; night cuddles, morning cuddles and hardcore make out sessions. He also hoped for some more of maskless Wrench, but he hadn’t been with him enough to know exactly how confident the anarchist was yet. He had only reached for his mask when Sitara came that afternoon, though, and that had left Marcus with an ocean full of hope.

He averted his attention from his masked boyfriend, and tried to focus on the task given to him. As far as Marcus was conserned, he and Ray’s fieldtrip was to an abandoned gang hideout where the signal of one of the cryptic messages came from. The duo had no idea what they were looking for and it was very unlikely that TH3 N1GHTM4R3 was still there. Either way, the hipster and the old man went to investigate.

Many rumors of the gang hideout ran amongst the gangs of San Francisco. No one dared to go there, as they believed it to be haunted or cursed. It used to be the HQ of a rich and powerful gang whose name had been forgotten through time. It was weird, one second they ruled the black market, the other they had been wiped from existence. No one knew who or what the reason behind their demise was, but they believed that whatever it was, still remained at the HQ.

Marcus understood the superstitious beliefs when he and Ray finally arrived at their destination. By the shore of Silicon Valley, underneath the earth in old bunkers, lay the cursed or haunted place. Stains of blood-splatter covered most of the walls, papers scattered the room along with weapons – some recognizable, some not. There lay a half-decayed foot here and a half-decayed arm there. Even some guts laid spewed in what looked like the mixture of an office and a garage. All in all, the place looked like it came from a horror game.

“What the hell happened here?” asked Marcus as he moved his flashlight from various locations in the garage-office-thing. The place stinked of old blood and decaying corpses, leaving a sour taste in Marcus’ mouth.

“They got killed, that’s for sure.” Ray said in his position squatting by some blueprints near a workbench. He shuffled through them, but some of the papers had blood splattered on them too.

“Yeah, no shit, Sherlock.” Marcus shone his light on ray. “You think TH3 N1GHTM4R3 did this?”

The place felt cursed or haunted. The hairs at the back of his neck stood tall, giving Marcus the feeling if being watched. He felt vary of the several limps across the floor. The air around them gave him a feeling that they’d come crawling towards the duo and choke, claw or kick them to death. It also stirred his stomach, which the foul smell did nothing to soothe. The hipster felt as if he could throw up at any given minute.

“I don’t know anything bout’ that,” muttered Ray. He picked up a piece of paper; it looked like a blueprint, and held it up for Marcus to shine his flashlight on. “But what do you make of this?”

Marcus froze upon shining on the bloodied blueprint. His goosebumps’ grew impossibly more alert and a chill surged down his spine. Yeah, what did he make of that?

For there, drawn on the, blueprints were the Josh’s desired instructions on how to build and fix Wrench’s mask.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: Wrench; the dork, or Wrench; the mass murderer?

It took Wrench a long time to finish the broken mask. Hell, calling the thing broken was a huge understatement, which had only made the job harder for the anarchist’s previously broken wrists. Not only had Josh and Ray somehow fucked up the motherboard, but they had failed to program it correctly too. The anarchist doubted they had even tried to program it at all, which only made the two of them seem all the more stupid.

His hands, which had no physical therapy, shook with a force beyond words, and the very sensible stare he got to the back of his head did very little to help with the trembling. Goosebumps had erupted all over his body, and on several occasions, chills would run down his spine. His body tensed with anticipation, and not the good kind, as his heart thumped away in his chest. Wrench tried to turn away from the threat, to ignore it, but it wasn’t a matter of seeing – it was a matter of feeling.

He felt the other’s presence behind him as he worked, face exposed and everything.
He felt the burning gaze of the threat, which glazed his face with sweat.
He felt the curiosity, how badly the other wanted to shuffle over to him and watch the process.

Josh really was an asshole.

No matter how badly the feeling bothered him though, he could relax when Sitara was in the room. She kept the green clad penguin in place, keeping him busy by making him find any more clues to who or where TH3 N1GHTM4R3 might be.

He had also managed to break the cast without anyone knowing until the fucking thing was off. The rock music the anarchist put on in the background for ‘concentration purposes’ drowned the sound of Wrench annihilating the cast with the closest tool he could reach without having to move out of his chair.
It was a screwdriver – which also took a lot of time. His poor hands felt numb after almost an hour and a half of stabbing and scraping. Boy, did he get a good yelling from Sitara afterwards.

He currently worked on the programming. He had to re-do the entire motherboard and reconnect it to the scanner that read his facial features and brain waves. Now he had to assign the right emoticon to the right facial feature and brain wave.

He had the mask connected to the laptop where he wrote the code for the programming. He hummed softly to the tune, which still played in the background. He enjoyed the music as he took in the scent of motor oil and engines. He had the feeling you get when you’ve been gone for a long time, and had finally gotten back home. He felt content.

“Hey, Wrench?” Sitara asked, breaking the conversational silence the three of them had.

Wrench hummed, too focused on the programming to reward the female with a proper response.

“Do you play guitar?”

Wrench paused and looked up, dumbfounded. “What,” he asked, twisting and turning in his chair to try and get a good look around the room, which proved to be difficult with his back towards the majority of it to shield his face. Once he got a glimpse of the old instrument, Wrench finally understood what Sitara was referring to. “Oh, that. That was just a stupid hobby I had when I went to school.”

Stupid hobby indeed. He had no use of the knowledge. Why would he? He’s a hacker, an anarchist and engineer, not some spoiled, rich celebrity with romantic dramas and cameras up his ass. The only reason he started playing guitar in the first place was because of his roommate, whom was an asshole. He needed a way to drown out his asshole-ness, and with no radio allowed in the rooms, he had to find another solution. He got tossed in the dogs den because of it though, when his roommate ratted him out. After that incident, the leader changed the ‘no radio in the room’ rule to ‘no music of any kind and any form in the room’. It kind of reminded him of the plot of Footloose.

“So you do play?” Sitara continued.

No, he did not. He only played once every two months or so, and he had to be alone. He dreaded the guitar as much as he dreaded the dogs it got him thrown into, but he didn’t hate the instrument. Every once in a while, when destroying shit didn’t help fix his foul mood, Wrench would find it therapeutic to play a slow tune. He’d take off his mask, sip on a bottle of beer and maybe, just maybe, smoke some pot as he played. The music, the alcohol and the drugs kept his everlasting anxiety at bay.

Wrench said, “No. Not anymore. It’s more of an ancient relic at this point.”

Whatever Sitara said next, Wrench ignored. He continued the programming on his computer, but his mind traveled elsewhere. He should have gotten rid of that old guitar a long time ago, but the anarchist couldn’t find it in him to do so. Though the dust-collecting instrument brought back horrible memories, it also had soul.

He remembered the nights he snuck out of his room while his roommate was fast asleep. He’d go to the beach and settle by the shore. Sometimes the stars joined him as his audience, other times he played alone. He would take off his shoes and socks and feel his feet being kissed by the waves as he breathed in the salty ocean air. He’d let the surroundings inspire him – sometimes the tunes were happy, but mostly they carried a burden. Wrench usually played songs that watered your eyes and clogged your throat with a lump. Tunes that made you forget all the happy and focus on all the bad.

His whore mother; the leader; his roommate; the dogs’ den; being sold; getting his face burnt – hell, being born in the first place.

Lately, though, he hadn’t really needed to play the guitar. The happy conquered the sad and if Wrench ever found himself in a foul mood, destroying shit, ironic as it was, usually fixed the issue.

“So, what about Marcus? Any unusual activities?” Sitara’s suggestive voice brought out a smirk from Wrench.

“Oh, we already made out,” Wrench said.

“Really?” Sitara asked. Wrench nodded. “Hm,” she continued. “I never thought he’d have the balls to ever tell you.”

Nor did Wrench. He would be lying if he said he knew about the ‘undying’ feelings the hipster had for him – cause’ he was as unaware of them as he was of molecules – but he had been craving Marcus’ attention a lot. He denied those feelings, especially after the thing with Naomi, but they were there. Wrench did not want to act on them in fear of ruining the great friendship between the two, and of rejection – especially rejection.

He typed the last remaining words, saved the new programming code, and disconnected the mask. Wrench turned the mask around and stared at the blank LED screen that stared back at him. The hint of a smile nudged at the corners of his lips. His life hadn’t been all rat’s asses and shit stains, and the mask was a symbol of that. Wrench got the impression that the crew believed that he wore the mask because of the hideous burn mark, but that was not the only reason. It was also part shyness, part paranoia and part rat’s asses and shit stains.

He did not think of all that when he gazed upon the empty stare the mask gave him, however. No, what came to mind then always smiled at him and welcomed him with opened arms. It was an early winter morning with a cup of hot chocolate or a late summer evening by the beach. It was watching the sunset at autumn, how the soft orange glow mended with the many colors of the season. What came to mind when he gazed upon the bland mask had tangled black hair, which sat atop a head whose smile never faltered. It was that person who had gotten Wrench back on his feet – he was his savior – and the mask his legacy.

He put the mask back on his face and the hint of a smile from before turned into a full, teeth-exposing smile – sort of. He turned towards Josh and Sitara, the two carets in place without glitches and mismatched partners; just the two symbols of happiness.

“I’m back, baby!” he yelled and spread his arms wide.

 

**********

 

“Can we get the fuck out of here now? This place stinks of rotten corpses and I really wanna know what Wrench’s blueprints are doing here.”

Marcus had to cover his nose with his shirt in order to drown out the smell, but it did nothing to stop the foul odor to penetrate his poor nostrils. They had pushed further into the abandoned bunker, stepped over torn corpses and body parts to investigate more in the process. Ray even went as far as to study the corpses up close. The stench was horrifying enough from afar; the hipster could not imagine how it smelt up close. It tore at his nostrils and sent a burning sensation throughout his sinus, which made his eyes water. Marcus would rather stick is head in a septic tank than keep smelling the decaying bodies.

Either way, upon closer inspection, Ray said the corpses appeared to be charred, as if burnt. Also, judging by the fact that there were intestines and body parts everywhere, it was most likely from an explosion, if not several of them.

“Yeah, nothing but those blueprints here anyway.” Ray answered.

What Ray had said about the death of those people had Marcus thinking. Many clues pointed toward the fact that Wrench used to work in the bunkers among those killers and thieves. Wrench had a burn mark on his face, the killers and thieves most likely died in a fire. There was a connection there, the hipster felt it within himself – yet he denied it.

He was in love with a stranger, he had always known that from the moment he realized his feelings towards Wrench grew stronger than just ‘best friends’. Whatever happened in the anarchist’s past remained in the past, and though Marcus was curious, he tried his best to respect Wrench’s privacy. Now, however, he was not sure he could do that.

If Marcus’s suspicions was right – that Wrench actually worked with the gang – then he had been involved in a lot of shit. Mass shootings, drugs, stealing, kidnapping and human trafficking. They sold people against their will to become sex slaves or something – which was disgusting. Wrench wouldn’t do that, would he? He could believe, though in denial, that Wrench went on shooting rampages and drug deals, but human trafficking?

No. No, Marcus refused. Wrench sure wasn’t a ray of sunshine, but he had a heart. He wouldn’t do that to normal civilians, would he?

“You don’t think Wrench was involved with all this, do you?” Marcus muttered, his eyes never leaving the blueprints. It clearly showed the mask Wrench wore up to date; the spikes, the LED Screen, the small details on the leather and the drawings off the many emoticons he’d install into the thing.

“I go where the clues take me, Marcus, and right now, they all point at him.”

“But what if-“

“No, Marcus. No ‘what if-s’, no bullshit.” They stopped walking and Marcus averted his eyes to look at the cold, grey eyes Ray cast at him. “What do you even know about him?”

Marcus failed to answer that. What did he know? Besides some personality traits and his interest, there was nothing. His name was Wrench, but who was he? The dork who loved playing videogames and watch movies; the engineer who liked inventing obscure weapons such as the dildo launcher; the anarchist who took pride in fucking up rich and over privileged people’s lives? Or was he someone else? Wrench; the mass murderer; the thief and drug dealer; the kidnapper.

He clenched the blueprints, crunching them up as he did, and said, “I know nothing.” His voice was merely a whisper.

A silence grew between the two. Marcus still denied the clues. They could be misunderstanding the whole situation, but when he really thought about it, the fact that Wrench may be a mass murderer seemed to be more real. Why else would one need a mask? It could be the burn mark, but it could also be because he wanted to hide his face from the law. They, too, had no idea who Wrench was, after all.

“I’m sorry, Marcus,” Ray said and patted the black male on the shoulder. Marcus knew, though, that Ray wasn’t sorry. Maybe for Marcus, but not for Wrench. It’s as the saying goes, ‘it takes years to gain one’s trust, and a mere second to lose it’. Ray no longer trusted Wrench, just like that. Not that the hipster blamed the old man – he himself struggled with the clues they had discovered.

The duo continued onwards, heading out of the dreadful place. Both men were in dire need of some fresh air to cleanse their lungs and sinuses of the pollution they breathed in the bunkers. It may also help clear their heads, to help them think more rationally on the situation.

As Marcus stepped out into the sunlight again, he took a deep breath of air, gulping down the salty flavor the shore always carried along. He closed his eyes. He waited for the feeling of relief, but it never came. Though the man was glad he’d finally gotten out of there, away from the charred corpses and smelly air, a burden still lay on his shoulders. He had a mission; to confront Wrench, but one does not simply do that.

Knowing Wrench, he’d go defensive, get mad as fuck and go offline for a few days, maybe a week – which wasn’t safe for him with people trying to hunt him down and hand him to TH3 N1GTHM2R3. Marcus had an advantage with the cast on the anarchist leg, though. Stomping and halting was a lot slower than actually walking. Yet, following the anarchist would probably add more fuel to the fire.

Marcus sighed. He felt as if he’d been walking in a dessert for many years; he was exhausted, a small headache pounded softly in his head and the San Francisco air was as warm as ever, which did nothing to help.

The duo wandered back to the van in silence. Marcus struggled to find the way to best attack the situation. Approaching Wrench with Ray, Sitara and Josh as audience was one hundred percent not an option; he’d have to talk to the anarchist alone. That would most likely prove to be a difficult task too, though, as Wrench had gotten defensive towards Marcus alone before.

First of all, though, the hipster had to make sure Ray wouldn’t burst through the garage doors, blueprints in hand, and start yelling at Wrench. That would definitely be the worst-case scenario.

“You think you could let me handle this?” Marcus said as he started the van. “Talking to Wrench that is. If you start in front of everyone you’d just make the situation worse.”

Ray turned to look at Marcus, eyes squinted and jaw clenched. “Worse? Really, Marcus? Wrench could be a mass murderer for all we know, and if that ain’t bad then my shit’s not brown.”

Marcus pulled out of the parking lot by the beach and headed to the direction of Wrench’s garage. “Okay, first off; I don’t know the color of your dookies, a’ight? Second, we might be misunderstanding the whole situation. It’s as you said, we know nothing of the dude! Sure, that sounds suspicious in itself and all, but it could also brew up some hope, right?”

Ray looked away, scanning the passing nature. “I hope you’re right, son.”

Marcus clenched his teeth, feeling the heavy beating of his heart as something foul settled in the bottom of his stomach.

So do I.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: When life gives you lemons

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

Wrench always thought that was a stupid, fucking saying. He was born with lemons thrust upon him, and now the sour flavor of the citrus fruit had stuck itself in the walls of his mouth. His life was nothing but lemons. That flavor only strengthen when Marcus returned from the gang hideout with a cold shoulder to spare for the anarchist. Also, the vicious glare given to him by Ray didn’t exactly sweeten the sourness of the situation.  

The duo brought with them a tension so thick, a knife would deem useless to cut it – they would at least need a chainsaw. The previously happy anarchist turned to Sitara for advice, for she was very much better than Wrench to read certain situations, but she, too, had no idea why Ray and Marcus acted so strange – so sour.

The weirdest thing was when Marcus had ushered the anarchist and himself home. Before Marcus had the chance to step out of the garage, however, Ray had pulled him aside and whispered something in the hipster’s ears. The elder man sucked at whispering, though, and Wrench heard it loud and clear.

“Be careful,” he had said, followed by a nasty side-glance in Wrench’s direction.

Yet again, the anarchist turned towards Sitara to see if she had heard it too. She looked concerned, her eyebrows drawn together in a frown. She looked from Ray, to Marcus then to Wrench, who flashed her the question marks with his newly fixed mask. She shrugged again and shook her head, concern and worry oozing out of her facial expression.

Marcus walked towards the door. He grabbed Wrench’s hand and hauled him into the car, never even stopped to say goodbye to the others. The old geezer kept staring at the anarchist as if he’d murdered his family until the hipster rounded the corner and the two of them were out of sight.

What the fuck was going on?

Even as the duo made their way to what Wrench believed – hoped – to be Marcus’ apartment, the thick tension continued on, never once faltering the sour flavor. Wrench’s heart started to beat faster and faster. His hands had gotten clammy and he tried to no avail to wipe them dry on his borrowed pants. Something heavy settled in the bottom of his stomach. it tightened and twisted and squirmed – making Wrench all the more uncomfortable.

That feeling, it felt similar to guilt, or even shame. He knew how those feeling tended to fuck up his intestine, to make him want to throw up. But Wrench hadn’t done anything, had he? Maybe Marcus finally pulled his head out of his ass and realized how average the anarchist was. There was nothing special with him – just a dry chicken with a shitty personality.

No, Wrench thought, because then Ray’s last words to the hipster would make no, fucking sense.
This went deeper. The two of them found something in that gang hideout. Ray’s last word repeated itself in Wrench’s mind – that loud whisper never stopped circling around his brain.
“Be careful.” It was clear that Wrench was in trouble again, but with whom; TH3 N1GTHM4R3 or Ray and Marcus?

If the beef happened to be with TH3 N1GTHM4R3, then Marcus and Ray surely would have informed Sitara and Josh, too. The fact that Marcus rushed Wrench home without saying anything about the field trip to anyone felt off. Wrench only came to one conclusion the more he thought about it; the beef wasn’t with TH3 N1GHTM4R3.

So, what? Marcus had to be careful with Wrench? What’d he do? Wrench had lost count on how many times he had risked his life for the group; how many times he had helped them out of a tricky situation; how many times they had use of his engineering skills. He did not devote his life to the group only to have his motives questioned by some old fucktard and a hipster. He had to try to dig out what they found in that old hideout. It had to be important if it made his very own boyfriend question his morals.

“So,” Wrench tried, but his robotic voice shook. His beating heart and tightened chest didn’t help ease his already worried mind. He tried not to get angry and he tried not to freak out. He cleared his throat and tried again, “Did you find anything interesting on your field trip? Or did the two of you just experiment on prostate stimulation?” The anarchist tried to lighten the mood by using his usual perverted humor, but it drew no immediate reaction from the hipster.

His heart skipped a beat.

Wrench felt as if he’d fucked up, but all he had done that day was fixing the mask. After that, he sat down with Sitara and Josh to try to regain his memory of the torture. Josh believed that the torture session could give them more clues to discovering TH3 N1GTHM4R3’s identity, but those who had witnessed the horrible act didn’t hear anything, and the man who experienced it didn’t remember.

That was it, yet Marcus and Ray seemed so angry with him. He couldn’t give a less of a shit about Ray, that old geezer got his man periods sometimes, but Marcus? The hipster had never treated the anarchist like that before. Even when Wrench had his angry moments and his sad moments, Marcus always smiled at him and told him that everything would be fine. Then they would get drunk. This time, however, Wrench wasn’t the one in a foul mood, it was Marcus, and the anarchist had no idea how to handle situations like that. He usually only made them worse by cracking some lame jokes like he just did.

Marcus faked a laugh, a laugh that was so obviously fake; he might as well haven’t laughed at all. “I sure hope it’s not as interesting as it looks, Wrench,” he said. It was so evident that he tried to make it sound so lighthearted, as if nothing was wrong – but it was also so evident how fake that sounded, too.

His heart skipped another beat.  

Then it beat ever faster. It beat so fast his chest was in pain. His lungs had tightened up too – breathing was difficult. He clenched and unclenched his hands. Droplets of sweat moisturized his hands and forehead as a headache pounded only harder and harder. He couldn’t take it – this tension, this feeling.

No, no, no, no, Wrench though. This is no fucking time to have a panic attack.

The car came to a sudden halt and he felt a warm hand squeezing his shoulder. “Hey, you alright, Wrench?” At least it sounded like Marcus was genuinely concerned that time – no half-assed, fake lightheartedness.

His heart skipped a third beat.

“No!” He yelled. “I’m not fucking okay!” Wrench always did that. he never let himself have a panic attack in front of anyone, even Marcus, so he got angry instead. It was as if his heart started pumping fuel in his veins, instead of blood – all it took for him to explode was a spark.

“I fixed the fucking mask; I made an effort to remember the god, fucking torture and waited patiently for you and old man cock-ring to return from your fieldtrip, only to have the two of you glare fucking gloryholes into my face! What the hell did I do?”

Wrench counted his actions on his fingers, and, on the last bit, he pointed to himself. He stared at Marcus behind his mask – his wall of safety – and awaited a reply. Only it never came.

His heart skipped a beat.

Marcus opened and closed his mouth like a fish out of water, but he never said anything. Wrench didn’t need it though. he usually found that silence spoke louder than words. He had done nothing, yet he got more lemons thrown in his face. Did Wrench deserve them? No. he did not, but who gave a shit about that.  

 “Wrench-“ Marcus tried.

“Don’t fucking bother,” Wrench said. His heart had slowed down and his chest had untightened. His whole being felt so empty, yet his body so heavy. There was only one word that could describe that feeling – defeat. Even Marcus threw lemons at him. “The two of you can just continue with your prostate stimulation for all I care. You seem to enjoy doing it with him,” he muttered and looked away from the hipster.

Silently, the latter drove on to his apartment.

When they arrived, the anarchist harshly declined the hand offered to him by the hipster. The sad expression sent his way sank Wrench’s little heart, but he still remained silent. Stubbornly, he stomped and halted his way out the car, inside the apartment lobby and to the elevator. His left foot – the more fucked up one – shot stronger tingles of pain than the other did, and they kept getting worse and worse with each step. It felt as if someone had turned his legs into wooden logs – stiff, tender, and slightly raw. Nevertheless, Wrench marched on. Marcus silently followed and walked patiently behind the anarchist.

He could feel the hipster’s stare as he waited for the elevator to ding open. It felt like small tickles that ran all over his neck – like little mice – which made the hairs there stand on edge. Wrench tried to ignore it, but it was like trying to ignore an itch.

The elevator dinged open.

The silence continued on their way up. Wrench wiped his sweaty hands on his pants, and his forehead with his sleeves, both of which actions didn’t go unnoticed by the hipster, who tried again to reach out. Wrench wanted to succumb to the hipster, to let him reach out. That was what he usually did, but why should he trust the darker man when the trust wasn’t mutual?

The elevator opened again.

This time, Marcus didn’t bother to linger behind the anarchist, but he ushered ahead and disappeared inside his apartment. That familiar feeling of gut twisting guilt returned. That heavy feeling in his stomach came along with it, and stomping to the apartment became all the more heavier. He felt everything – the aching in his leg, the twisting in his stomach and the sweat on his hands. Walking to the apartment almost gave Wrench the impression of walking the green mile.

Wiping the sweat off his palms yet again and taking a deep breath, the anarchist pulled himself together. He stomped onwards, trying to ignore the beating of his heart, which had picked up its speed yet again. He heard the blood rush in his ears as he clenched and unclenched the fist of his left hand – the hand that didn’t support his body on the wall. The whole situation seemed like a ticking time bomb – and the bomb would explode the moment he stepped foot inside that apartment.

He pushed the door open and went to close it, but Marcus beat him to it. It was as if the darker man got some hipster-super-speed or some shit, for in lightning speed, the latter closed and locked the door and trapped the anarchist between him and the entrance – which now served as Wrench’s only exit.

“What the-“ Wrench started, but Marcus beat him to it. Suddenly, two, strong, warm arms wrapped around Wrench’s scrawny frame. A head lay on his shoulders, seemingly not caring about the spikes scattered all over his vest. “Uhm, Marcus?” Wrench tried again, his voice shaky with nervousness.

Marcus hugged him tighter, and squirmed some due to the silver spikes, but he never moved away. Wrench’s heart pounded away in his chest, almost trying to break out of his ribcage, and his palm had gotten clammy again, despite the numerous times he had wiped them on his pants. For some reason, even something as innocent as a hug had the punk’s alarm system reach its peak. It felt weird how Marcus first gave him the silent treatment, and now resorted to hugs – especially if he and old man cock-ring did find something in that hideout.

Marcus suddenly removed his hood – exposing his messy, silver hair – and soft, butterfly kisses trickled up his neck. They were barely there, almost like ghosts. The hairs at the back of his neck and on his arms all rose in goosebumps again, and Wrench felt a chill run down his spine, which made his whole body shudder. He moved his head to the side, exposing his neck for the hipster whom continued to trace the kisses.

Wrench hated how submissive he was to Marcus, especially after his anger outburst, but he couldn’t help himself. Marcus took all the punk away from the anarchist when they were together, and threw it in the trash. He melted in the hipsters fingertips – he loved it, but he also hated it. Sheepishly, the punk wrapped his own arms around the hipster’s muscle-y frame. He hadn’t forgotten that Marcus hurt his feelings, but he was willing to listen to what the hipster had to say.

“I’m sorry, Wrench,” Marcus murmured against the skin on his neck and continued to kiss.

He moved further towards Wrench’s jaws, but the mask gave no further access. The punk sort of expected Marcus to move down again, towards his collarbone, but he wasn’t surprised when a hand reached for his mask instead. Wrench clutched Marcus’ shirt and with his other arm, he stopped the hipster from removing the mask.

In between the kisses, the hipster whispered, “Please, Wrench.”

Guilt and embarrassment twisted in his gut and tightened his chest again – making it difficult to breathe. That delusion of walking the green mile returned, as if taking off the mask would be the death of him. He knew Marcus had seen him before, but he still felt so weak without his second face. One did not remove ones armor when facing a dragon, it was common knowledge. But Wrench digressed.

Sheepishly, he let go of Marcus’ hand and maneuvered it to the hipster’s shirt and held on for dear life, like his other did.

Stopping the butterfly kisses and moving his head to look at his masked boyfriend, the hipster slowly unclasped the clasps. Wrench hated when he removed it slowly. The longer it lingered the more time he had to regret his decision. If you want to bathe in cold water, you have to jump right in; don’t slowly make your way out and ‘get used’ to the cold.

Wrench didn’t dare make eye contact once the mask was off – when his barrier had been stripped. He looked past Marcus’ shoulder and swallowed a lump in his throat. It did nothing to ease the tightening, though, as breathing remained difficult. He felt exposed, naked. And though there was only Marcus in front of him – watching him – it felt like a thousand men.

“Hey, peanut,” Marcus smiled and brushed Wrench’s short bangs away from his face.

Wrench cast his eyes downwards, at the floor and moved forward, burying his face in the crook of the dark man’s neck. “Fuck you too,” he muttered against the skin there.

His stomach tickled with butterflies when he felt Marcus pet his hair and he hummed internally. Wrench never cared to admit it, but he loved cuddles and little acts of snuggling. He felt himself melt into Marcus’ touch, forgetting all the sourness from before. The hipster had a way of doing that to him – to make him forget. It was one of the abilities Wrench loved the most, even if it de-punked him a bit. Wrench closed his eyes and relaxed in the embrace. He breathed slowly, inhaling the perfume Marcus always wore. The anarchist found himself willing to forget if he could just remain in that position forever.

“How do you breathe in this thing, man?” Marcus suddenly asked with an oddly and somewhat familiar, robotic voice.

Wrench turned to look at the hipster to see what he meant. The darker man held the mask in front of his face; ‘X.X’ displayed on the LED screen.  
Tch, Wrench thought. How could he breathe without it.

“Sup, guys, I’m Wrench and I like weapons and bombs and other tools of destruction,” Marcus mimicked Wrench’s voice the best he could and moved his head from side to side in an ‘acting’ fashion. The mask displayed ‘#.#” as he made his best impression of the punk.

“Jimmi Siska, batman, Aliens and Predators,” Wrench let out a breathy laugh and buried his face in the hipster’s neck again. All kinds of symbols flashed across the mask as Marcus ranted on.

“I’m a huge pervert, Penis, vagina, butt sex, masturbation,” ‘~.^’

“I’m gay, but not really. I’m also straight, but not really. Could also fuck a toaster too, who knows?” ‘=.=’, ‘?.?’

“I’m a punk, but a real softie behind the mask. I don’t like to acknowledge it so I get drunk a lot instead.” ‘#.#’

Wrench laughed at that, wholeheartedly. “alright, alright,” he smiled and tried to push the mask away from the hipster face – without gaining eye contact, of course.  

Marcus paused as three dots displayed on the mask. “I’m also hella adorable,” he continued his banter, this time without changing his voice to sound more like Wrench.

The anarchist froze where he stood. His laughter died, his smile faltered and his heart skipped a beat. He couldn’t tell whether he was flattered or having a heart attack – maybe it was a sick mixture of both.

“With my beautiful eyes and silver hair, I’m almost like a god damn Disney princess.” Marcus continued to pet his hair as Wrench clenched his fists in the fabric of the hipster’s shirt again. No, it was definitely a heart attack. He sneaked a peak at Marcus. The mask displayed stupid, cheesy heart eyes. “Got that sexy body, too.” Marcus massaged the small of Wrench’s back with the unoccupied hand.

Wrench shook his head. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, a loud voice in his head screamed. There were too many flaws – Marcus was delusional.

A hand snaked it’s way on Wrench’s cheek and forced him to look at the hipster. The mask was off, and the soft brown orbs shone at him, no barriers in between. Wrench could watch those eyes forever, if he had the guts and if it wasn’t hella cheesy. Marcus pulled him in for a kiss.

It was slow, careful – as if Marcus was worried he’d fuck up if he went too fast. Not That Wrench minded, though. He slowly kissed back as well, letting their lips dance together in sync. Bliss and happiness quickly replaced the anxiety and denial as he wrapped his arms around the hipster’s neck.

Marcus moaned lowly against his mouth. It sounded like a purr. The hipster moved away and looked into Wrench eyes. This time, the anarchist had no choice to look away, for Marcus held his cheeks firmly. The punk didn’t mind the first few seconds, but it was as he said – the more he lingered, the more time he had to regret his decision. There was no getting used to the cold. Wrench averted his eyes.

“What do you want for dinner,” Marcus asked, his voice matched the ghostly, butterfly kisses he gave before – merely a whisper, barely there.

“A pizza or a burger is fine,” Wrench muttered and leaned into Marcus’ touch as the hipster traced patterns on his cheeks.

Marcus shook his head. “Fuck that, man. I’ll make something none-junk. It’s all you eat.”

The ghost of a smile found it’s way on Wrench’s face. “You do whatever. I’ll go take a shower, my leg smells like it’s been stuck in a donkey’s asshole for the last decade.”

Marcus laughed. “Yeah, I was gonna ask about that.”

As the two departed, Wrench couldn’t help but smile to himself. He still hadn’t forgotten about Marcus’ off-putting behavior, but he didn’t mind putting it aside for a little while. As he got into the shower, that stupid saying came to mind again. When life gives you lemon, you make lemonade.

Maybe - as cheesy and un-punk as it sounded - Marcus was his lemonade.

 

**********

 

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, but what if lemonade isn’t really your thing?

There’s been a lot of lemons lately; first Blume was the lemon tree, but the N1GHTM4R3 had taken that spot. As usual, though, a lemon tree grows lemons such as The Bratva, The Tezcas, FBI, Auntie Shu boys, Sons of Ragnarok and the 580s. Now, Ray had joined the lemons – and he possibly tugged Marcus along with him.

Sitara knew something was off when Marcus and Ray got back, and the off-ness was directed at Wrench. She saw it all, noticed every detail; the cold stare, Ray’s loud whisper and the cold shoulder from Marcus. Her heart sank for Wrench when he turned to her for advice and she could give him none, and her heart sank further when Marcus practically forced the anarchist out – whether the latter gave his consent or not didn’t seem like a priority at the time.

Though she rarely showed it, the female hacktivist had a certain soft spot for the punk, especially after the FBI fiasco and even more especially after the torture. When she saw Wrench in Marcus’ arms at the back of the hospital that night, it felt as if she was ready to crumble. There were bruises everywhere, but she remembered the thick, purple line that surrounded his neck the most. The blood that poured out of everywhere; his hands, his shoulder, stomach, leg, mouth. And then there was the leg with the peaking bone, the leg they had snapped clean in half.

Sitara felt like puking, but – thought she did an awesome job at suppressing those emotions – she also felt like crying. How could she let that happen to her comrade, to her friend? The fact that she almost pulled the plug on him sent her even further into the guilty abyss, but she was now determined to do all she could for the anarchist. Even go up against the old hippie.

“What was that all about?” though her voice appeared calm, she brewed a storm on the inside.

“We found some interesting shit in those bunkers,” Ray crossed his arms and stood firmly at his place by Wrench’s workbench. “and those shits don’t shine too brightly on the punk-head.”

“And what shit did you find?” She crossed her arms in fromt of her chest, her stone gaze never leaving Ray’s equally cold ones. Sitara never really liked Ray. He was too invasive. He expected that he could just come into Dedsec and boss people around just because he was ‘the’ Raymond T-bone Kenny. Well, he expected wrong.

“His blueprints. Of the mask.” His voice was as cold as his eyes, firm and left no room for discussion. That is unless your name was Sitara Dhawan, of course. “Unless you have a valid reason as to why those blueprints were there, amongst those mass murderers and thieves, then I say we start to question him. A lot of evidence point towards the fact the he worked with them.”

“Yeah?” Sitara asked. Ray nodded. “Evidence such as what?”

“The fact that the blueprints were there. The fact that the whole damn bunker smelled like rotten flesh from corpses that had burned to death. Do you know someone who hides a burn mark beneath a spikey, electronic mask?”

Sitara turned to Josh, who looked equally as concerned as she did back when Wrench turned to her for advice. It sounded bad, but that didn’t prove shit. It did give a good explanation as to why Marcus had ushered Wrench out of the garage, though. It was probably better to confront the anarchist about that subject alone than with an audience.

“Maybe the blueprints were planted there? We did get a signal from TH3 N1GHTM4R3 that sent us to the hideout, maybe he or she did that on purpose to make us question Wrench.” Josh suggested, his voice a little more stressed than his usual, monotone voice. You could tell by the shaking and almost stuttering.

That didn’t seem like a bad explanation. They all knew TH3 N1GHTM4R3 was after the punk to fuck him over – they had even gone as far as to put a fifty million dollar bounty on his little ass. Many people wanted that much money, so the ass-hat basically sent an army to make Wrench’s life a living hell – the fact TH3 N1GTHM4R3 could have gone out of their way to fuck it up just a little more didn’t seem too open minded.

 “I don’t believe it for a second. Unless the punk in question has proof that he ain’t fucking us over, I say we remain cautious.”

Sitara clenched her fist by her side. She could feel her heart beat a little faster in her chest and her stomach tightened up. She wanted to punch Ray in the face so bad for throwing shit at Wrench for something he knew nothing about. Not that Sitara did, either, but it was a really dick move to just accuse and point fingers. They were supposed to be better than that. Wrench deserved some time off from lemons; yet, here Ray comes and throws another one at him. Sitara would have none of it.

“Good thing you don’t have a say in this then, Ray. You’re on our turf. Actually, you’re on Wrench’s turf, this is his garage. So I say if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” She turned back to her laptop, which still awaited her attention on the ragged couch Wrench had in his garage, and sat back down. When she faced Ray again, she said, “And I do have a say in this.”

“Whatever. If you wanna get murdered, be my guest,” Ray bowed down in a courteous fashion. “I going to grab a beer.”

Her ability to remain calm in a heated discussion, even if there was a fire tornado brewing inside her, was Sitara’s greatest strength. She had won many discussions with that skill, and now it helped her get rid of a varmint.

Josh locked his gaze on her as Ray left. The frown between his eyes and the rapid clenching and unclenching of fists told her that something was up.  she said nothing, but raised an eyebrow at the awkward hacker.

“What if TH3 N1GHTM4R3 really did plant those blueprints there?” Josh asked.

Sitara didn’t give an immediate reply. Wouldn’t that be good? It meant that Wrench wasn’t some crazed mass murderer – not that it mattered. It also meant that Ray was wrong and he could kiss both her and Wrench’s ass.

 As Sitara kept thinking about Josh’s statement, though, a more frightening though came to mind.
If the N1GHTM4R3 did plant those blueprints, where did he get them?

She closed her laptop and got up from the raggedy couch. “You’ve got a point there, Josh.” She nodded. “Any suggestions on how we find out how the dog-sausage found those blueprints.”

Josh smiled, sat down and ushered Sitara to do the same. Josh explained how he might be able to find out by either checking the security cameras in Wrench’s garage or trying to hack into Wrench’s electronic devices as the blueprints may be in both.

A good feeling settled in her stomach as she and Josh worked on solving the puzzle. If lemonade weren’t really your thing, you could just hand it over to someone who looked like they needed it – someone such as Wrench.

 

********** 

 

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, but without any sugar, the lemonade will turn sour and it doesn’t matter anyway.

After all those fucking lemons, Marcus thought he deserved some sweet ass lemonade right about now. Not that he had been tortured and not that some fucktard was screwing with his life, but watching all those things happen to the man he loved was lemony enough. Now, to add more sourness to the sugar free lemonade, the man he loved could or could not be a murderer.

Great.

Don’t think that he didn’t notice anything – Marcus noticed it all. The way Wrench rubbed his hands on his borrowed sweats, the way his voice shook when he first spoke and the way his breathing got heavier and heavier. The hipster’s entire being twisted and ached with guilt when he saw how his behavior had affected his boyfriend. The hipster didn’t mean for that to happen, but he was ignorant and shared his lemon with the anarchist.

Besides, Marcus had an inner struggle himself. He had only been with Wrench for one day, had only had one make out session and had only had one cuddly morning with him. The hipster wasn’t sure he got to do those things no more if he confronted Wrench about the blueprints, and he most defiantly wanted more.

So, as he traced those ghostly, butterfly kisses up and down Wrench’s neck, he decided to let it wait. He knew the anarchist had some suspicion of him, but as long as he didn’t say anything, Marcus would absolutely remain quiet too.  

He heard the door to the bathroom unlock, open then shut again. He put the chicken in the oven, set the timer and walked into the living room, where Wrench lay on the couch in only a T-shirt and a pair of boxers, typing on his phone. The milky white skin almost glowed, even in the dim light of the living room. The hipster zoomed in on Wrench’s face. His eyebrows were drawn together adorably and he had pursed his lips. The childish music coming from the small device in his hands indicated that he played a game.

The hipster couldn’t help himself. He walked up to him, cupped his cheek and pulled him in for another kiss.

It was in moments like that where Marcus believed there was a reason why kiss rhymed with bliss, for he had forgotten all the lemons that had polluted his mind just a moment ago. Instead, he felt Wrench’s cheek in his hand, Wrench’s lips on his own and Wrench’s scent. And when Wrench put away his phone to cup Marcus’ cheek, he felt joy. His heavy mood lightened considerably and he felt like he could finally fly again.  

Marcus climbed on the couch and settled on top of Wrench, straddled one of his legs – the least messed up one. The kiss got more heated as the punk pulled the hipster closer, and Marcus’ heart raised quickly. He got easily carried away as he traced his lips on the corner of the other’s mouth; on his cheek; along his jaw and down his neck.

Wrench hummed. “You sure like kissing, horn dog.”

Marcus hummed as well and settled his head in the crock of the anarchist’s neck. He breathed in Wrench’s scent – the smell of the garage – which still surprisingly lingered even after his shower. It was in that moment that Marcus made the final decision; he would drag out the confrontation as long as possible so he could have what he had with Wrench just a little while longer.

“What happened to your leg?” the hipster murmured lazily against his boyfriend’s skin.

Wrench pet the small stubs on Marcus’ head that served as hair. “I stabbed it to death,” he said.

Marcus nodded. Of course he did. He knew the cast was a nuisance to the anarchist, but that he would go so far never crossed his mind. It should have, though. Wrench was Wrench, after all.

Marcus closed his eyes and hugged the smaller form closer. Drowsiness hit him like a wall as he lay on top of the punk. He felt the hand that stroked his hair and the other hand that rubbed his back. He heard Wrench’s heart beat in his ears and felt his pulse on his lips. If time would be so kind as to freeze that moment, Marcus would give one hundred gratitude crystals.

A clock blared it’s alarm from the kitchen, signaling that the chicken was cooked. "Dinner’s ready,” Marcus groaned.

With no immediate reaction from the other, Marcus looked up and found Wrench with his eyes closed. The hipster would never tire of that image. When the punk had his eyes closed, he looked so boyish, so innocent. Like nothing had ever happened nor will ever happen. He looked as peaceful as an early morning in a small cabin in the mountains, where the only music you’d heard was the sound of a distant waterfall.

It melted Marcus’ little heart.

“I can feel you staring at me, M.” Wrench muttered and turned his face away. “Stop it.”

Marcus smiled. “Dinner’s ready,” he repeated.

“Heard you the first time.”

And with that, the duo headed for the kitchen. Marcus didn’t live in the biggest apartment of the year. The kitchen was too small to have a dining area, so the hipster and the anarchist had to eat in the living room, not that either of them cared. The hipster had a great time eating with Wrench. He had to force the latter to at least try the salad and not just eat the meat. Wrench protested, said “do I look like a fucking rabbit to you,” but he ate the greens nonetheless.

They talked about everything and nothing, and it seemed that Wrench even forgot he didn’t wear his mask. He made eye contact for longer periods of time than he usually would, and smiled wholeheartedly at the hipster. Though there was a certain level of adorableness to the shy, ghost of a smile that usually appeared; Marcus loved the tooth-showing smile more. It brought small tickles in his stomach the same way a roller coaster would.

After dinner, it was time for dessert. Marcus took the pale, tattooed hand of his lover in his dark untainted ones, and practically hauled the anarchist on the bed. The hipster dove in and settled himself comfortably between Wrench’s feet. Wrench, who looked equally as eager as Marcus did, grabbed the hipster’s shirt and tugged him in for a tongue-twirling kiss.  

The kiss was so much – bliss, ecstasy, love and oh so sweet. Marcus never wanted to part as the feeling of Wrench’s pillow-like lips and his sweet taste chased away all the sourness.

A moan, muffled by their lips that still clung to each other like bumblebees to a flower, sang in Marcus’ ears as he slithered his hand underneath Wrench’s shirt. He massaged the pale, tainted skin there, and stroked a pale, soft cheek with the other.

They parted and they gasped. Marcus met the distinct blue eyes of his lover, clouded with lust much like his own. His heart pumped ounce after ounce of adrenaline throughout his body, but mostly to his bone-hard naughty part. His one hand still massaged tender skin underneath the T-shirt as he dove in and left sloppy kisses on Wrench’s cheek, jaw and neck.

“I’m gonna make all your dirty fantasies come true,” he whispered when he got close to the ear and licked the earlobe.

Wrench chuckled in that low, husky tone that sent even more pleasant tickles to his member. “First mistake-“ Wrench moaned as Marcus traced a finger over the anarchist’s boxers whiles suckling and toying on his sweet spot. “My fantasies involve handcuffs.” He moaned into the hipsters neck as he, too, left wet, sloppy kisses and licks.

Marcus paused all his actions – the cupping of cheek; rubbing of boxers; suckling of sweet spot – and smirked. He would lie if the hipster said he was surprised. He always believed that Wrench had some secret kink, but to hear him say it – maybe even wish it? – was much better than believing.

With his mouth still touching the crook of the anarchist’s neck, he murmured, “I can do something about that.”

Without any further ado, Marcus dashed straight to his closet. He tore open the drawers and summoned a pair of handcuffs that came with the police costume he used to fool around with, just for the laughs. He kicked the drawers shut and ran to the bedroom again, where a very confused and flustered Wrench laid.

The hipster stopped by the door and drank in the sight before he presented the handcuffs by swirling them around his index finger, stripper style. As he kept doing the stripper move and saw the delighted face his boyfriend made, he got an idea.

He stopped swirling the handcuffs and reached for the hem of his shirt. Slowly, he removed it and stalked with slow, teasing steps to the foot of the bed. He sat on his knees in his previous spot between Wrench’s leg and slowly crawled up, towards the flustered punk. Once he was close enough, Marcus lowered his head and kissed the exposed skin by the hem of Wrench’s boxers.

Wrench moaned, though he tried not to, and he squirmed, though he tried not to. It was clear he wanted to show he was in control, despite the obvious lack of it. Marcus moved upwards, and kissed every single tattoo as he went. When he got the hem of the shirt, he grabbed it and moved it upwards with him. Every kiss drew out a moan from Wrench, and with every moan he squirmed and rubbed himself against Marcus, effectively turning the hipster on as well.

When Marcus reunited with the sweet spot on Wrench’s neck, he pulled the fabric that covered the anarchist’s upper body off. Then they met in another heated kiss. It was wet and sloppy and lazy, but Marcus loved every bit of it as he snuck the handcuff on one of Wrench’s wrists. He moved to the sweet spot on his neck again as he pulled Wrench’s other wrist to the bedpost and cuffed that too.

“Do I even want to know why you have a pair of handcuffs,” Wrench gasped and moaned and squirmed as he tried his best to form words.

Pride bubbled up in his stomach with those tickling butterflies. He had made a gasping, moaning, squirming mess of Wrench, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Maybe I’ve got perverted fantasies, too?” he said lightheartedly, almost in a playful tone. “And maybe you’ll be the victim of those fantasies tonight?”

That wasn’t a lie. Marcus did have sexual fantasies about the anarchist. He even had wet dreams about the man when his die hard crush was on its worst. The thrill that flowed through his blood at having those dreams and fantasies come true were indescribable. He felt everything; every jerk of Wrench’s body as he squirmed and rubbed himself desperately on the hipster; every moan and hot puff of breath that tickled his skin each time he gasped; the feeling of skin against skin as their bare chests pressed tightly against one another. This moment was beautiful.

“Well, then,” Wrench moaned long and low when Marcus tickled his sweet spot yet again. “Do your worst, daddy.”

And Marcus did. He started off with another sloppy kiss, and moved to the sweet spot. Then the collarbone – where he bit and nibbled on the skin. Wrench didn’t seem to mind though, if the pleasurable sounds he made was anything to go by. And Marcus continued to kiss lower and lower, lower and lower.

And as Marcus got to the hem of Wrench boxers a second time, one thought crossed his mind. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But without any sugar, the lemonade will turn sour too, and it doesn’t matter anyway. Marcus found his sugar, and his name was Wrench.  

The hipster grabbed the boxers and continued his descend with them.
Lower and lower.

Lower and lower…  

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: Three half-assed secret service agents, two elephants and an old-young-witch-lady enters a room…

The silence was heavy in the room, breath taking and heart accelerating. If Marcus had a grandfather’s clock they’d hear the ticking as loud as thunder, roaring and crackling in the room – they’d even hear a needle dropping to the floor. Marcus was in no possession of neither needle nor grandfathers clock, though, and the only sounds in the room were the tapping of Josh’s feet against the floor of his apartment, Ray’s teeth sucking, Sitara’s fingers tapping on the salon table and the mechanical sound of blinking from Wrench’s mask. Everyone had their eyes directed at Ray and Marcus, some with their eyebrows raised in question, some biting their nails nervously and some showing their frustrated emoticons.

Marcus and Ray looked back at the group, both stunned to silence. That morning when Marcus woke up, Wrench wanted answers. Marcus had of course forgotten about the shitty attitude he directed at the anarchist the previous day, he was too busy daydreaming about their night of fun, but it was clear that Wrench still remembered.

“You honestly thought I’d forget just cause’ you gave me a blowjob? Dude…” he had said.

Now, Ray and Marcus sat in deep shit. The blueprints of Wrench’s mask laid on the salon table, displayed for all to see, even Josh. They had argued, and Wrench had asked a very logical question. The blueprints had no fire marks – it was neither burnt on the edges nor had ashes on the paper. That made zero sense due to the fact that they found the blueprints in a place that had seemingly burned to crisps. Now, the three judges awaited an answer.

The answer was simple, of course. Someone had planted the blueprints there to make Wrench look bad, most likely TH3 N1GHTM4R3. Marcus had no problem admitting that his accusations were wrong, but he felt hella bad for them. It was the guilt that followed that Marcus had a problem with.

Every time he glanced at the frustrated ‘`.´’ on the make-believe eyes of his boyfriend, he felt his heart sink further down the guilt hole. He opened and closed his mouth repeatedly, not knowing what to say to him, to either of them. It was stupid too – Marcus always knew what to say, always knew how to solve the crosswords – yet now, when it really mattered, words refused to corporate. And his heart beat heavy, as he recalled the cold shoulder he gave the anarchist, the harsh answers and angry body language. He had acted like a complete dick.

Sheepishly, Marcus said, “Someone planted them there.”

Wrench gestured towards the hipster with his hand, a silent “congratu-fucking-lation”. The angry lashes replaced the frustrated emoticons.

Marcus rolled his eyes, but secretly, he wanted to go to bed and binge-watch a marathon of superhero movies and eat a box of ice cream as he drowned himself in the guilt he felt.  He hated how he caused Wrench to have a panic attack; he hated how he just falsely accused him without even asking him first; and he hated how he forgot about it the next day. The least he could do was to remember and still feel shitty about himself for it; he deserved that.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled and stared at his hands as he fondled with the,. “It was ultra, super, mega stupid of me to accuse you like that, man.” he finally looked up and met the still angry slashes on Wrench’s mask. “I just….” He sighed. “Ray just made some valid points. Alright?”

“Ray don’t know me, man.” came Wrench’s harsh reply.

“And that’s what concerns me,” Ray, who had been quiet for most of their discussion, finally spoke. “I know Sitara and her wealthy background. I know Josh and his… uhm… interesting background, and I know Marcus’ too. You’re the only person here who refuse to say shit about who the fuck you are, so yeah, I’m a little suspicious. Shoot me.” He shrugged.

Wrench rose from his seat and pointed an accusing finger in the old man’s direction, mask now displaying, ’o.o’, “You have no right, man, no fucking right! Instead of just accusing me the two of you could have just fucking asked!” he turned to Marcus, “And you? When are you gonna stop kissing this guy’s ass? You always make ultra, super, mega stupid decisions when you do!”

“He’s not kissing my ass you immature, little shit!”

“The fuck did you just call me?”

The tension grew even thicker and the two inched closer, ready to punch one another. Jaws clenched and fist clenched – clenched-ish on Wrench’s behalf – and a stance ready to either dodge or pounce.

Marcus rose to his feet and stood in the middle. “Alright, alright, calm down.” He said and turned to Ray. “Look, Wrench has been here for a long time. Way before me and definetly way before you. If he was a psychotic mass murderer I’m sure we’d all be dead by now.” He turned to Wrench. “And Wrench, man, Listen, I’m sorry. You’ve been through hell and it was a dick move for us to drag you even further down. You’re right. We could’ve just asked! But, please, just calm down.”

Wrench clicked his tongue, flipped Ray two, mangled yet glorious birds and sat down, crossing his arms in front of his chest. The angry lashes never left the mask. As did Ray, but instead of the glorious bird flipping, he sat down with a heavy sigh, mumbling something like, “I’m too old.”

Marcus sank to his seat too, and rubbed his face. He was glad the elephant in the room had been addressed, but the elephant was still there somehow. The tension never disappear, though it lightened considerably. An awkward era lingered around the group, consuming the silence that spread around them.

As Marcus watched the couch opposite of the salon table, he noticed how Josh made sure to scoot as far away from Wrench as possible while still remaining on the couch – Josh never liked it when Wrench got too angry, but that didn’t seem to be the problem. Besides, the current anger tantrum was nowhere near as bad as it could have been, so why was Josh acting so weird. He never even tried to look at the blueprints – the same blueprints he had thirsted over for god knows how long.

Sitara, too, acted strange. Though she didn’t scoot away from the anarchist, who sat in between the hacktivists, she had never once looked his way. That seemed very un-Sitara like, as she always worried about her friends, even if it didn’t look like it at times.

Did they bring an elephant, too?

“Yo, Sitara? You good?“

She jumped slightly at Marcus’ sudden voice. “Yeah,” she replied, but with slight hesitation. “Just… could Josh and I have a word alone with Wren-“

Three loud and firm knocks on his front door interrupted her. Marcus looked up and stared at the door with his eyebrows raised. The others in the room did the same. As they waited, the anticipation grew stronger. The hipster had no idea what they waited for. Another knock? A person explaining why they were knocking on Marcus’ door. Either way, none of them moved. They sat in silence, pretending to be invisible until something happened.

Everyone jumped at another three knocks on the door. This time, however, a voice followed. “FBI, open up! We know you’re in there!”

The voice was most likely female. It was strong and deep, yet loud and firm. Also, it had a strong, foreign accent, too much like the woman that had attacked Wrench shortly after he had woken up from his vegetative coma.

Marcus had heard enough. Those three letters sounded an alarm inside his head. He rose to his feet, as did everyone else. He chased Wrench and Ray down the fire ladder in his bedroom. He ran into the kitchen, brewed some coffee, and produced some snacks from the fridge and drawers in his kitchen. He placed coffee mugs on the table for Sitara and him, and a can of energy drinks for Josh. Sitara and Josh made sure the blueprints were hidden somewhere in his apartment before Marcus made awkward struts towards the front door.

And there, he waited once again. He turned towards Sitara and Josh, both of whom had seated themselves on the couch again. They had turned on the TV and were munching on some of the snacks Marcus put on the table. It looked like a regular hangout with friends, nothing suspicious at all.

He took a deep breath, and opened the door just as the woman was about to knock a third time. She looked genuinely surprised that he actually answered and Marcus used this moment of shock to study her face. Dark blue eyes, blonde hair, definitely bleached judged by the brown roots. Small, button nose, but the chin was big and pointy, that of a witch’s. She looked young, yet old. Marcus imprinted that face in his head, in case he would see it again in relation to TH3 N1GTM4R3 case.

Three men stood behind her in neat, fancy suits – what’s that for a cliché? He couldn’t study their faces like he studied hers, however. It would look suspicious for starters, and the assholes wore sunglasses. He didn’t think FBI agents actually ran around like arrogant, half-asses secret service agents, but there they were.

“Marcus Holloway?” she asked. Her accent was thick and heavy and she spoke slowly, as if she was used to people not understanding what she said if she spoke too fast.  

Marcus nodded. “Yeah?”

She said, “My name is Iga Kozlwski from the FBI.”

The old-young-witch-lady pulled out a paper from her jacket and shoved it in the hipsters face. And, even though Marcus and Sitara had pushed Wrench and Ray down the fire ladder, the hipster couldn’t help but slouch his shoulders when he read ‘search warrant’ on the formal piece of paper. He had nothing to hide – they’ve left – but he hated the FBI after what they did to his boyfriend and those feelings never faltered. Besides, the discomfort he felt when complete strangers were to search through his stuff made him want to vomit.

“Come in,” Marcus strained and ‘welcomed’ the woman into his apartment. The three men that stood like statues behind her followed suit, never once looking Marcus in the eye.

The woman sat down on the couch where Marcus and Ray sat earlier, and the three men ventured deeper into his living space. One vent into the bedroom, one in the bathroom and the third lingered in the kitchen. Marcus’ apartment wasn’t big, more like a small cottage or a student apartment than an actual apartment, but he liked his small, vintage, kind if retro looking home. He wouldn’t trade it for anything.

He sat down on the same couch as the hacktivists this time – the jury’s couch.

“We are looking for this man,” she said and slid an A4 photo of Wrench across the table. In the photo, it looked like he minded his own business, dressed in his full attire and mask displaying the usual X’s. “I believe you call him by the name of The Wrench.”

“And what makes you think we’ll tell you where he is?” Sitara said. She leaned back in her seat and crossed her arms in front of her chest. She crossed her feet and raised one, dignified eyebrow. It was clear what her body language said. ‘I am in charge, and you are my bitch’.  

“I don’t.” The FBI woman paused and the women stared intently at each other, fighting for authority. Sitara’s stern look never faltered, though, and the foreign woman continued her speech when she realized that. “But if you know what’s good for the civilians of San Francisco, the Marine and Oakland, you will.”

Marcus couldn’t help the snort that escaped his lips. Wrench had had the chance to hurt the civilians many times, yet he never did. The half-asses secret service agents had probably killed way more civilians than the anarchist. And with that thought, Marcus suddenly became aware of the men going through his stuff. Messing his somewhat tidied apartment. The nerve of the woman, Iga or whatever, who dared to accuse Wrench of murder after they had just discussed how he wasn’t one. He clenched his fists, clenched his jaws and looked the woman in the eye. She didn’t notice, though, for she still had a power fight with Sitara.  

“The Wrench is considered a very dangerous criminal in the FBI. We have had many cases with him using illegal explosives and unregistered weapons.” She moved her eyes and finally met the fueled hues of Marcus.

If only looks could kill.

“Did you know he is the main suspect of the fire in the bunkers of Silicon Valley beach? That fire was started using illegal explosives and unregistered weapons. It killed many people. Bad people, but people nonetheless.”

“Bullshit,” Marcus called.

“Wai-wait. Why is Wrench a suspect again,” Josh asked. He chewed his nails viciously, thus muffling his voice slightly. It was obvious that the current situation wasn’t the most comfortable one for the poor man.

“Because, many witnesses claim they had seen him with the bad people, working for them. The Wrench is what remains of that gang, and according to previous reports of their gang activity, I say that he had a good reason to make them burn.”

A man threw open the door to Marcus’ bathroom, and came in with a wet piece of paper. Without uttering a word, he showed the paper to the woman, and she smiled. She motioned for him to put it on the table, which he did.

The blueprints of Wrench’s mask laid there, spilling water all over the salon table and the snacks.

She said, “This is what made him the suspect in the first place. Did you know that?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Missing boyfriends, and how to find them.

The darkness consumed the hackerspace. Only several screens lit up the room. He stared at the many codes that flew up and down his screen, his eyes looking, but not seeing. He had been everywhere he could think of and had checked everything, both check- and un-check worthy. He had read page up and page down of numbers and letters, watched hours worth of security footage – yet nothing. Wrench was gone again.

The anarchist had been missing for two days, three if you counted the entire day Marcus spent waiting for Wrench to show up. He never did, though. The last time he had seen him – anyone had seen him – was when Ray and Wrench descended down the fire ladder.

What if TH3 N1GHTM4R3 got him? What if the FBI arrested him? What if someone tortured him the very second Marcus spent looking for him? Or worse, what if he was hurting, broken and alone, getting drunk and getting high? Marcus thought he and Wrench had broken some shards of the thick, tall walls the anarchist had built, and he would hate to see that Wrench chose to suffer alone again.

The hipster was mere seconds away from tearing off every stud of hair on his head and scream out to the void. He wanted to punch a wall till’ his hand broke; he wanted to throw himself off a cliff; he wanted to punch himself in the face for not being careful enough. Marcus had vowed to protect Wrench, to keep him away from the hurt and the bad, yet, after such a short while, the hipster had possibly managed to break that silent promise.

According to Ray, though, nothing was wrong. No, according to him, Wrench had simply gone home. That would be cool’n’all if it hadn’t been for the fact that no one knew what the fuck Wrench considered a home. They looked in his garage, they looked on the rooftop, they looked in the bar in The Marine and they looked at every garbage yard in San Francisco, but they found no sign of the cyberpunk. Did they have to look in every alleyway as well?

And Marcus searched and searched.

The sound of the door working its slow mechanism rang in the hackerspace, but the hipster felt too defeated to even look up. He heard light, graceful steps, that of a queen, and the only queen he knew of were none other than Sitara.

“Hey, Marcus,” she greeted. The sadness in her voice was obvious as she placed a paper cup of coffee in front of the hipster.

He nodded his thanks to her, but said nothing – he simply had nothing to say.

She patted his shoulder sympathetically. Wrench was her friend too, so she probably knew the worry Marcus experienced at the time. If only she could feel the guilt too.

“We found him once. We’ll find him again.” she looked at him, her eyes firm, yet soothing – reassuring. “Besides, no one knows where Wrench’s home is, and I doubt the people hunting him does.”

Marcus nodded and leaned into her hand, relaxing in her touch. It was healing in a way. “Nah, they don’t… but they could’ve followed him there,” he mumbled.

In response, Sitara snorted. “You really think Wrench of all people would be so stupid as to let anyone follow him home? I’ve tried for years now! The piece of shit always found a way to lose my tail.”

Marcus let out a low chuckle. She was right of course. Even the hipster had tried to follow the anarchist home at some points. It was hopeless, as Wrench would always make blind turns through many alleyways and small off road trails until Marcus completely lost trail of him. And when Wrench returned from his offline weekends, he would mocked him.

“Better luck next time, hot-shot,” Wrench would say.

“C’mon, man. What do I have to do to know where you live?” Marcus would plead.

Wrench’s emoticons would change to ‘O.o’ as he said, “You could always give me a blowjob.”

After that, Marcus felt a little more encouraged, and Sitara joined him looking for Wrench too. They sat side by side, both with each of their computers as they tried to think of anything that might’ve happened.

And then they were two.

After hours of searching, plotting and pondering, Marcus and Sitara heard the door mechanism again. They looked at each other, his tired brown eyes met her tired ones, and the hipster could tell exactly what she was thinking. That sound could have three possibilities – Josh, Wrench or Ray.

The tired duo turned to the stairs and waited impatiently for the door to open for whoever stood behind. Their hearts beat loudly and they held their breaths when they heard the old ‘pssh’ of the entrance as it slid open. It’s weird how you can tell who is ascending or descending the stairs just by the mere sound of their steps as they do so, but by the light, yet somehow heavy footsteps that shuffled their way down the steps, Marcus could tell it was Josh.

He stopped at the bottom when he realized someone watched him. He still wore his green hoodie, but he had pulled off the hood and held the beanie in his hands, showing off his messy bed of hat-hair. He awkwardly fondled with his usual head attire as he stared at his onlookers.

“Hi guys,” he gave a small wave at his tired friends, whom let out the breath they held in a huge, somewhat disappointing sigh. Josh’s expression never changed when he asked, “Did I do something?”

“No, sweetie. Wrench is missing again,” Sitara yawned.

“What! But we just found him!”

“Yeah, We’re gonna have to find him again, though. This time it might be e little difficult, because he might not wanna be found. And you know how difficult it is to find a Wrench that don’t want to be found,” Marcus stared at Josh, his eyes never once blinking. His exhausted eyes were glazed over with moist from his tiredness, so blinking wasn’t a big priority.

“Good thing you showed up, Josh. We need another brain that isn’t a rotten chocolate pudding.” Said Sitara.

“Okay,” Josh nodded. He appeared to be calming down. “Okay. I’ll… I’ll use the spider. Just walk around the street; maybe destroy a few cars. That’ll be sure to make the news, and Wrench like to watch the news to keep himself updated on rich people shit, as he put it. When-if he sees the spider, then maybe he’ll be able to pull his head out of his ass long enough to contact us.”

And then they were three.

They sat for hours. When the news of Josh’s itsy bitsy spider aired on TV, they stopped to watch that. It was on every new channel, so it would be hard to miss it. They called it the mechanical Spiderman in TV, for when Josh destroyed a car he always made sure to leave enough money for a new one, a better one. He also made sure to destroy the cars that looked just about ready to crumble on the next speed bump.

Marcus couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the stupid ass nickname, though.

Josh had ushered the tired hipster and queen home after a few more hours, and as Marcus waited for the Dedsec entrance with Sitara, he hummed the song, ‘500 miles’ by the proclaimers. He sang the chorus, but he had replaced a few words.

“I would search for seventy hours and I would search seventy more, just to find your ass and make sure that you’re not tortured like that time before.”

Sitara, in her cranky mood, had told him that his annoyance level beat Wrench’s by far, especially if he continued singing that retarded parody.

That was the last he heard from her before they parted ways. Marcus smiled sheepishly to himself. A strange feeling of pride settled in his exhausted body. You had to be good in order to beat Wrench’s annoyance level, especially to Sitara. The hipster treated her words like a victory as he hummed his ‘retarded parody’, and started in the opposite direction of the cranky queen.

“Holy shit. You look like a prostitute who just finished taking a hundred men in one night. What’s going on in there?” a familiar, yet unwanted voice spoke.

When Marcus turned, he saw the unmistakable Asian face of Jordi Chin, the man they had freaked out about when the Tezcas attacked them at the hackerspace that time. Jordi Chin, who had defeated Marcus in combat, and whom had received the fifty million dollar bounty from TH3 N1GHTM4R3.
Just great.

“Fuck off, man. I ain’t got time for no stupid, Asian, hitmen ghosts,” grumbled Marcus and hurried away from the man.

“Whoa, there, Ebenezer Scrooge. I come in peace… sort of.” he grabbed Marcus’ arm and halted his movements. Marcus turned around and gave him the bitchiest bitchface he could muster. “I’m the ghost of Christmas yet to come, and I’m here to… Actually, I’m pretty sure you know why I’m here.”

“Yeah, I do.” Marcus pulled his arm free. “And no.” then he continued to walk towards his car. He was too tired to drive the vehicle, but he’d do anything to escape the Asian, hitman ghost of ‘Christmas yet to come’.  

“Come one. I’ll offer you a deal. You look like a fucking gremlin because you’ve been awake for god knows how long looking for that pet hedgehog of yours, right?”

Marcus halted his actions. Pet hedgehog? Wrench? Did that motherfucker take him! He gritted his teeth together and clenched his fist. If that asshole even dared lay a finger on the cyberpunk, he would do so much hurt to him, that Wrench’s torture would seem like a simple splinter in the finger.

Marcus reached for the stun gun and held the hilt of the weapon as tight as he could, turning his dark knuckles white. “Yeah, I have. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?” he asked after he had turned to face the Asian hitman.

“Maybe. It depends on a few things, such as whether or not you’re going to shoot me in the ass again.”

“Well, that depends on whether or not you give me a fine ass reason not to.”

Jordi didn’t look as intimidated as Marcus would’ve hoped. His neutral face raised a mocking eyebrow, asking Marcus whether he was serious or not. The hipster was, though. He’d shoot the president in the ass if it mean saving Wrench from pain, misery and suffering.

“Relax, princess. I haven’t touched him, just watched him. here, have a look,” he pulled his phone from his fancy, white suit jacket and tapped on it before showing Marcus the screen.

His boyfriend slept soundly on a strange bed, his mask halfway pulled off his face, showing his peaceful looking eyes as he snored. He had lazily thrown the duvet to his waist, his naked upper body showing off the many, different tattoos, some misshaped from the torture. What mattered mostly, though – there was no blood. He looked untouched, and Marcus’ shoulders relaxed at that information.

“See. Safe and sound. I’ve been watching the guy ever since I got the bounty, which was some time ago, might I add, a week or so before the torture. Am I correct to say that neither of you knows where this guy lives?” he practically bragged in Marcus’ face. He clicked his tongue three times, and continued, “Hm. I’ve known it since the end of September. The hedgehog is there right now. Alone. Without any means to protect himself against scary, Asian hitmen.”

“The fuck do you want, huh? If it’s that easy for you, then why haven’t you thrown him at TH3 N1GHTM4R3’s feet and collected that bounty, huh?” Marcus was pissed. The blood boiled in his veins and his face heated up with the ferocity he felt. Oh, how bad he wanted to shoot that guy’s ass till he could never sit on it again.

“Because, I don’t trust this ‘N1GHTM4R3’. I mean fifty million dollars? That’s a lot of mony for a scrawny kid with trust issues. As I said, I want a deal. You’re a hacker. You can find me some information about the so called son of the WKZ fatso, whom I do not believe is Wrench, yet TH3 N1GTM4R3 insist it is. In exchange for that information, I’ll tell you where the hedgehog has dug it’s nest.”

 

*********

 

He laid on the bed, unable to move. Someone towered over him by the left side of the bed, by the right side of the bed and by the foot of the bed. They seemed so familiar, yet so strange.

The one on the left side wore a LED zeppelin themed T-shirt. He held a lead, which held a feral dog, ready to tear him apart.
The one on the right side wore a white jumpsuit. He held a sledgehammer and a nail gun in his hands.
The one by the foot of the bed didn’t wear anything. At least it didn’t seem like it. It was the silhouette of a man. He held a letter in his hand, labelled ‘Wrench’s identity’. His other hand remained hidden behind his back.

The three men, though in different outfits and holding different objects, had one thing in common, their faces – or the lack of.

The dog started to bark. “What’s your name,” the one to his left and right asked coordinated.

Wrench’s heart picked up its speed as he kept his eyes on the barking creature. His lungs hurt; breathing became difficult. His body jerked with each bark, ready to flee, but he was stuck.

“What’s your name?” they asked again.

Wrench trashed his body. The dog barked louder and louder as the jumpsuit man approached him with the nail gun and the sledgehammer. Wrench threw his head from left to right. He tried to get up. He tried to kick them away, but something held him down.

“What’s your name?”

He looked to the man by the foot of the bed for help, but he received none. Instead, a white row of teeth appeared on the black silhouette’s face. The beating of his heart accompanied the sound of the barking dog in his ears as the silhouette slowly presented his hidden hand. Wrench couldn’t breathe, Wrench couldn’t move, yet all he could focus on was the ghostly hand as it produced itself from the creatures back, holding his mask.

“What’s your name!”

A sharp pain ripped up his arm and Wrench screamed. The dog had pierced its sharp teeth into his flesh on his forearm. It whipped its head back and forth, tearing the flesh, ripping out a huge chunk of it.

“What’s your name!”

Another searing pain joined him on his other forearm as the jumpsuit man whacked the sledgehammer on him. Wrench closed his eyes and trashed his body again. He had to escape, he had to get out!

“What’s your name!”

Laughter filled the room and when Wrench opened his eyes, many other silhouette men had joined the party. They stared at his maskless self as they tortured him. They laughed at his pain. They laughed at his face. Wrench looked away, embarrassed and ashamed.

“What’s your name?” the one by the foot of the bed whispered as he climbed on top of Wrench and straddled his waist.

The dog kept tearing at his flesh, the jumpsuit man kept beating his bones, and the silhouette audience kept laughing. A lump in his throat caused him further discomfort- Wrench tried to swallow it, but couldn’t. It blocked his airways further – he stopped breathing all together. A stiff ace spread throughout his chest as his lungs was on fire and his heart pounded at his ribs.
Wrench closed his eyes – a single tear escaped from its prison.

The silhouette man snaked his hands around Wrench throat and squeezed. He got in Wrench’s face and yelled, “What’s your fucking name!”

Wrench opened his eyes. He sat up in bed and looked from left to right.
Nightstand, curtain, window, closet, door, nightstand, bed.
His heart pounded hard in his chest, the blood rushed through his ears and he heaved his chest up and down as he gulped down as many molecules of oxygen as he could.
No shadowy people with shadowy, fur-coated monsters. Just him and his bedroom. Nothing or no one else.

“Just a nightmare,” he whispered, trying to convince himself and his body to calm down. “Just a nightmare.”

He gulped down the huge lump in his throat and wiped the stray tear that had apparently fallen in real life too. How he fucking hated nightmares. The worst part, he had no idea what the fuck they meant. The guy with the LED zeppelin shirt and the feral beast on a leash was far too obvious for Wrench – his subconsciousness kept reminding him of that sour memory over and over – but the two other people didn’t add up. Probably the torture, since he still remembered jack shit from that episode in his life.

He sighed, and turned his half-naked body to his side. He laid a hand on the empty place on the bed, and stroked it back and forth. He could still feel the alcohol from the many beers he drank the previous night in his blood, as the world still span whenever he moved too sharply. The hand he softly pet the bed with looked like a blur. The pale thing almost blended with the white sheets of his bed. His tattoos did as well, the black ink looked identical to the black, beautiful skulls that decorated the sheets. They had patterns in them, making them look cozy in a way.

Wrench’s heart clenched when the thought of another black beauty appeared in his mind that could’ve been way more cozy than decorative skeletons on a sheet. Oh, how he wished the hipster was there to hold him, to kiss the boo boo’s away. He thought getting some alone time in his beloved home would freshen up his recent foul moods, but boy was he wrong.

He had tried to contact the hipster, of course. He knew how worried Marcus could get, especially now with the bounty and all, and he knew how stressed he became when he was worried. The problem there was that Wrench couldn’t seem to contact him – any of them, actually. So many thing didn’t add up in his visit home when he really thought about it.

After he had tried to brutally murder his kidney with beers the first day, he slung himself in the soft, grey armchair in the corner of his living room. Only moments before he passed out, he could’ve sworn he felt someone stroke his cheek. That was impossible, though, for no one knew where he lived. That, and the fact that he couldn’t contact anyone didn’t sit right with the anarchist, but he had just shrugged it off. He told himself it was just because he hadn’t visited the place for so long, and the stroking of his cheek was just his wasted imagination.

Either way, whether he was able to contact anyone or not, Wrench would get to San Francisco to see his boyfriend again, even if it mean that he would have to walk on his still very sore feet all the way there.

He wanted Marcus, so Marcus he would get.

Wrench walked about 10 miles away from his home, his feet throbbed with pain, but he fought himself forward. Then, when he somehow got signal again, he called a Dedsec mate from another hackerspace nearby who owed him a favor, and he gladly picked him up.

“Sup, Wrench,” his mate, Rick, said when he arrived. “The fuck you doing in the middle of nowhere now, anyways? Don’t you have a fifty million dollar bounty on your ass?”

“Yup,” Wrench answered happily, his happy carets glowing on his mask. “Living a life without risks sounds like a boring life, Ricky-man. Can’t get your adrenaline just from jerking off, you know,” the cyberpunk winked at him as he climbed into the passenger seat.

“Yeah, true dat, I guess,” said Rick and drove off. “How’re you doin’ by the way? After the torture and all?”

“My feet are sore as shit, can barely walk a centimeter before my legs gives me hell. The shaky hands I can work with, though. Makes it easier to get that adrenaline.” He sent another wink in Rick’s direction, whom only shook his head.

Their drive continued with random bunter and bickering, until Rick pulled over at Marcus’ apartment building. With a final goodbye and a, “stay safe”, from Rick, the Dedsec mate drove off and the anarchist entered the building. He pulled out the spare keys he had gotten from his hipster boyfriend, and entered the apartment after a seemingly long elevator ride.

It was dark and it looked empty. The sun shone through the shut curtains of the hipster’s flat, making the scattered clothes visible. It looked like the hipster had undressed himself in a haste, and Wrench pondered whether or not he had to feel jealous of some skank that may or may not have done it with his boyfriend. That sounded like a very un-Marcus thing to do, though, so he was quick to shrug that thought off.

He made his way through the mess in the direction of the bedroom door. The place smelled like Marcus’ cologne, cheeseburger, and farts, which gave the anarchist the impression that Marcus had barricaded himself in there. He hoped he was wrong; the hipster was the kind of guy that needed comfort under stressful situation. The thought of him sitting alone, worrying about Wrench made his heart clench with guilt. If only he had come back to Marcus after the feds left.

He entered the bedroom and felt his heart clench tighter at the sight. The hipster – his hipster – laid on the bed, sound asleep. The room was dark, the curtains were shut in there as well, and his laptop rested upon his lap. The screen was dark, either from sleep mode or battery death, but he could still see the face of his boyfriend clearly. He could see the dark circle underneath his eyes and the small beard that had started to grow on his unshaven face. He had no clothes, as Wrench suspected from the mess, except from hi boxers of course.

Wrench shook his head. Slowly and ever so quietly, he made his way to Marcus, removed the laptop from his lap, closed it and put it on the nightstand. He went back to his side of the bed, undressed himself until he was only in his boxers as well, and dove in the duvet. He moved close to Marcus, and spooned him. He snaked his pale hand underneath his shirt and cupped a muscle boob – his muscle boob.

And as he laid there, he felt himself calm down. Marcus’s warm, dark body sent waves of warmth to his pale and cold one. His clenching heart stopped, and calmed down. He was safe now, no one could hurt him, and if a nightmare was to disturb his sleep again, he’d have a well built, muscle-boobed boyfriend to kiss and hug it away.
Yes, this is way better, Wrench thought, and let his eyes fall shut.

And as he closed his eyes and sank further and further into sleep, despite the fact that he had just woken up, one last, random, little thought swam in his mind.

Have Marcus de-punked me?

Chapter Text

Chapter 21: Cover those tits!

Marcus moved in his bed, but found he couldn’t. He felt something on his chest, his left boob, to be more specific. He looked down, probably activating double chin mode as he did, and saw a very invasive, pale, tattooed and cold hand, groping his manly tit.
Wrench? He thought, and quickly, yet as careful as he could, turned around.

Smiling, the hipster pet the silver hair of the man he suspected. He would never grow tired of the act. The anarchist was like a lion – aggressive, dangerous, self-destructive at times and wild. Not many people were allowed to pet the lion’s mane, but Marcus was. The lion and the human, two unlikely friends; the hipster and the anarchist, two unlikely lovers.

Carefully, he let his hands roam Wrench’s body, searching for any potential wounds or lacerations – he could never be too careful, especially with a wicked Mr. Miyagi wannabe running around with his fancy suit and wax-on-wax-off karate.
He let his hands drift across his shoulders, over his chest and down to his stomach. He felt scars and the goosebumps that erupted on Wrench’s skin under Marcus’ touch, but nothing too major. Then he moved his hands to Wrench’s sides and as far to his back as their position would allow. Old and new scars scattered the anarchist’s body like photos in a photo album, each a reminder of the everlasting shit Wrench seemed to get himself into. Marcus could tell the old ones from the new ones easily depending on the tattoos – if the random ink covered the scar, it was old, but if the scar misshaped the ink, it was new.

The old scars added to the mystery that was Wrench. They taunted him, telling him a story Marcus wasn’t allowed to hear in a language he didn’t speak. 
Where did the old ones come from? He found himself thinking. He really wanted to know, but it was a secret never to be told.

Most of the old scars were small and round-ish; Marcus assumed they were the many bullets Wrench had taken over the years. Others had a bigger diameter, but they didn’t pose a circular shape like the bullet markings. They looked like stab wound scars – more abstract. Marcus knew of a very similar thing on Wrench’s right ass cheek – another permanent reminder of that one time someone accidentally stabbed him in the ass.

Marcus moved his feathery touch further down Wrench’s sides. He watched as the inked chest rose and fell with each breath as he did. The previous checking and reassuring of Wrench’s health had turned into something else at this point. Caressing, adoring and simply relishing in Wrench’s company. His giddy heart beat happily in his chest – he did have a diehard crush in the man after all. The hipster smiled a sheepish little thing at the sleeping man, who could neither see nor feel nothing of Marcus’ adventurous fingers. His fingers went ever lower on his sides, and that’s where he felt it. A mark unlike any of the others he had felt.

It felt like a bow shaped thing, ragged on the edges. It was much bigger than the bullet and stab scars, and invisible too. It laid hidden under a big skull tattoo on the anarchist’s right side. The small bumps of the flawed skin were the only means of telling that there actually was something there at all. Marcus’ face twisted into a frown as he felt the mark, touched it and tried to analyze it.
What other fuckery could he possibly have gotten his ass into?

Dumb question. The man had crashed a plane, for Christ’s sake. Maybe it was just another thing from one of those crazy shenanigans.

Wrench shuddered. Goosebumps erupted all over his half-naked body, and the anarchist snuggled closer to Marcus to escape the temporarily chill. The warmth that surged through his body at the action had Marcus halting his movements. He looked back up to his boyfriend’s face and let that sheepish little thing of a smile return on his lips. He felt the giddy beating of his heart and snuggled closer to the pale, chilled being, pulling the bed of silver head to his bare chest.

Marcus pet the soft strands of hair and leaned into it and took a big sniff. Motor oil, gunpowder and that little, something extra. The smile never faltered as he thought, Wrench was home.
Marcus had thought for sure that his departure with the group would be his undertaking, but Wrench had come back before anything remotely serious had happened. The hipster let out a sigh of relief as he closed his eyes. He relaxed his shoulders and breathed slowly.

Breathe in. Wrench was home.

Breathe out. Fuck.

“Wrench!” Yelled Marcus. He shook the anarchist, trying to return him to the world of the living. “Wrench!”

A small, adorable grunt escaped the pink, soft lips Marcus knew too well, and the anarchist turned away from the assaulting hipster. Under normal circumstances, Marcus would’ve found the sight too adorable to be ruined, but when someone put Scrooge McDuck’s money bin on your head, you could never be too safe.

So Marcus moved to action. He grabbed Wrench’s wrist and pulled him to a sitting position. He grunted and made other sounds of struggle as he hauled up the pale sack of muscles and bones. “Wake the fuck up, man. It’s time to go!” He laughed.  

Wrench moaned once in a sitting position. He almost toppled over in his sub-wakefulness, but Marcus cupped his cheeks to keep him in the position the hipster had struggled to put him in. He stared into the bright blue orbs as they slowly opened, and said, “Wakey, wakey, peanut.”

Wrench let out another sound of tired protest as Marcus slowly removed his hands from his face – the anarchist was fully capable to keep himself up now while Marcus searched for his clothing.

The punk yawned and rubbed his eyes and groggily said, "You kicking me out so soon? Shit, man, you’re even faster than my mom. At least she took a couple of years before she got rid of me.”

Marcus had gotten out of bed and pulled on a shirt. “Not getting rid of you,” he said as he hauled a new pair of jeans on his waist. He walked to Wrench’s side where he found a pile of black fabric laying in the floor. He dug into it, hoping to find the mangled hoodie of Wrench’s. Once he did, he threw it on the owners face. “I’m getting rid of us. So get those tits covered, those are for my eyes only.”

Wrench snorted. He pulled the hoodie over his head too. “Didn’t realize you were a hypocrite, Marcus. You run around with your tits out all the time.”

Picking up the black pile of fabric, Marcus dashed it on Wrench’s lap. He ignored the grunt from the anarchist and approached the mask on the nightstand table. He picked it up and stared and the blank LED screen. He was about to do something he never thought he’d do in the history of ever doing anything, but they had to get the hell out – and Wrench wouldn’t do that without the mask.

So, he chugged the thing on his lover’s face and watched as Wrench got startled by the sudden act. “It’s not like you ever claimed my tits,” said Marcus. He crossed his arms and let a smug smirk take over his facial features.

The mask shuffled through all the emoticons and settled on the ‘O.O’. Wrench turned his head to look at Marcus, whom still smirked smugly. “Um... yeah, dude. It’s in the contract.” He cleared his throat, the mask displayed ‘-.-‘ as he deepened his voice and said in a horrible, play pretend English accent, “As my new… sex toy,” the mask winked, “All of you belongs to all of me and vice versa, even your tits.”

It was Marcus’ turn to snort. “Sex toy, huh? And what does being The Wrench’s sex toy involve?”

“Well,” the anarchist got up from the bed and pulled on a pair of trousers as well. “I shove an explosive device in the rear end of my sex toys and shoot them from my grenade launcher in hopes that it will go boom-boom.” Two X’s replaced the happy carets that had appeared on the mask. He analyzed the hipster up and down, “But that’s for the more flexible ones, though.”

His smile was tight as he tried to refrain it from showing, but he knew he stood no chance. Butterflies in his stomach tickled him happily at hearing Wrench back to his own, perverted self. He knew the anger tantrums were a part of him, too, but he preferred the perverted over the provoked any day, any time.

“Ooh, you don’t think I’m flexible?

With the happy carets back on place, Wrench merely shrugged.

The hipster shook his head and tapped Wrench’s now studded shoulder. “C’mon, let’s go. The feds might already know you’re here.” Said Marcus, then he walked away.

“Wait, that’s why we’re so stressed out?”

“Yeah, so get your pale ass over here!” Marcus said and grabbed Wrench’s wrist for the second time, and pulled him out of the apartment.

They raced their way to Marcus’ red and black, ‘borrowed’ Vespid and sped away from the apartment building. The rush and slight paranoia had quickened the hipster’s heart beat a little, but he smiled nonetheless. He still had the giddy feeling in his tummy, and that mixed with the slight rush of adrenaline gave a weird mixture like sweet and salty food.

The sun hovered high and mighty in the air, warming up San Francisco. Marcus had no idea where he was going, he just felt like driving for a while. He chatted with Wrench, asked him where he decided to take his small vacation and to never ever do something so stupid again. The giddiness never once faltered as they talked and talked, and neither did that goofy smile.

Eventually, the smile would have to go. It did when Marcus rushed down a straight street, aiming for the end of the lane. His heart skipped a beat, however, when a truck appeared from the right corner and parked in the middle of the road. Driving at dashing speed, the hipster pulled the steering wheel to the left and hit the break with a force that could oppose a landslide. The speed was too high, though, and the Vespid’s right side slammed into the armored vehicle.

The car halted, and Marcus aimed his gaze into the truck. He panicked when he saw people inside loading their weapons. He put the muscle car in gear and sped the fuck away from there.

“Fuck,” Wrench yelled and looked back at the tank-car-thing. He flailed his clumsy hands in the car’s interior. He opened the glovebox, looked in pouches and such in the door and back seat. “Don’t you have a gun in here?”

Marcus swung left and Marcus swung right. He sped under parking garages and bridges in hopes of losing the truck. Wherever Marcus swung, though, the truck only seemed to reappear. It was as if the vehicle had duplicated itself.  

“No. A stolen car driven by a black man with a gun and a record means game over for me, man!”

He heard the tight ‘fuck’ that escaped the anarchist’s lips. He couldn’t focus all his attention on an answer, though, so Marcus decided to shut up. Instead, he searched left and right for the two armored trucks. One was well on their tail behind them, but the other had disappeared. He shifted his gaze from one mirror to another. He looked out the windows and between buildings, but he saw nothing.

Where the fuck was the other truck?

“Marcus, watch out!”

The straight street he raced down had once again been blocked. He drove faster now than he had then. He pulled the steering wheel again and slammed on the breaks. He put almost all his body weight on the pedal, but the right side of the Vespid crashed into the truck with much more force than the last time.

Marcus hit his head on the window upon impact and witnessed as everything became foggy. He heard the screeching of tires and felt it when another car crashed into the opposite side. Then another slammed into the muscle car’s front and another into the back. Wrench and Marcus were completely trapped with no way out.

Panicked yells from Wrench reached his ears. The sticky substance of blood trickled down his face. He felt dizzy, and his stomach churned. The more he moved, the worse he felt like he needed to throw up.

“I’m fine,” he told Wrench, but it looked like the anarchist didn’t buy it.

They held each other’s hands as the watched the armored men leave their trucks. They wielded big machine-guns and dressed in black, S.W.A.T looking armor.

A man hopped from his big vehicle onto the hood of Marcus’ small one. His heart beat faster and faster as the person aimed the barrel of the machine-gun on him. Wrench squeezed his arm and begged him to get down or seek some fucking cover, but Marcus didn’t feel like it. His stomach still twisted with vomit and his heart and heavy breathing only made keeping it down worse. No, Marcus could do nothing, but watch as the man put his finger on the trigger.

The hipster squeezed Wrench’s hand and closed his eyes. If he died, they got Wrench, but he honestly found no way out of this. They had no guns. The car was by no means strong enough to pull away from four, heavy trucks, despite it being titled a ‘muscle car’. And Marcus had hurt his head. He could barely see, let alone think of a way out.
And so he closed his eyes and held his breath.

Bang!

Marcus opened his eyes. Blood had splattered all over the windshield. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t move, but his heart was up his throat, beating for dear life. The sun shone in from the blood-covered window and sent a red glow into the car. He could see clearly, but he still couldn’t breathe.

“What the fuck?” he whispered. He looked at the dead body on the hood of the Vespid. “What the fuck?” he breather again. He finally got a gulp of air in his lungs and his chest heaved up and down, gulping the oxygen down.

Bang!
The two jerked at another gunshot, followed by another thud of a body. Then another and another. They heard the armored men fire their machine-guns, but those sounds only got less and less intense with each singular bang they heard.

It wasn’t until silence filled the area that Marcus looked upon the questioning mask of Wrench. He, too, breathed heavily in the car, which had been warmed up like a greenhouse in the sun.

“You okay?” Marcus asked and stroked the pale hand he still held in his hand.

Wrench nodded. “Yeah. You?”

“I’m fine.” Marcus thought for a second. “What the hell was that?”

“A sniper maybe? The most important question is who the fuck was that?” the expert replied.

“All I know is that he’s either good or bad, and I’m really praying for the first one.”

The duo jumped again at the sound of a new pair of boots on the hood of the car. Marcus only saw the silhouette of the person before they bashed the windshield with enough force to break the window. Blood-covered glass shards scattered all over the boys and they had to brace themselves unless they wanted to be blood brothers with the asshole that had threatened Marcus’ life.  

“Get out and follow me.”

Even before Marcus unbraced himself, his face twisted in a cringe. Oh, how he despised that voice. It felt like poison to his ears and a thorn in his side. He’d rather have his ears sawed off with a butter knife than listen to him.

“Who the hell is Asian James Bond over here?” Wrench asked.

Opening his eyes, he aimed them at the white-suited, Asian man with a sniper rifle in his hands, except he didn’t aim it at anyone. At least that was something good. He watched the smug smirk Jordi Chin always seemed to wear and clenched his fists. He wanted to punch the smugness off right off his face.

“Jordi Chin,” he forced out between clenched teeth. “One of many who’s thirsting for that bounty on your head.”

“No way, that’s him?” Wrench asked. The O’s on his mask showed the surprise he felt.

Asian James Bond cleared his throat. “I would love to be all formal and shit, but the cops and the feds are rushing to this very scene at this very moment, so Marcus, I suggest you grab your boy toy and get the fuck in my car.”

Wrench relied instead of the hipster, “So you can hand me over to the blood and money fetishist so you can jerk off on a pile of money yourself? I’d rather have the Feds arrest me.”

“Listen, Sonic the Hedgehog. If I wanted to collect that too good to be true reward, I wouldn’t bring Will Smith over here with us. So get your punk ass in my car before I make you.”

So, Jordi Chin was rescuing them?
Maybe he hadn’t found enough information about the man behind the bounty. Jordi did say something about him not being sure if TH3 N1GTM4R3 was a reliable source or not, but this act couldn’t just be out of the goodness of his heart, either.

Unfastening his seatbelt, Marcus got out of the car through the broken windshield. He helped the anarchist out as well, and the three of them stepped off the wrecked Vespid.

“Hold up,” Marcus said. “You are rescuing us? What for?”

“As I said before, I don’t know if the son of the Richard Campbell Carter is actually Sonic the Hedgehog. So this is not a rescuing, it’s more like an order put on hold. Don’t want anyone else claiming that bounty, now, would we? So, c’mon. I’m taking you to the hedgehog’s nest.”

“Oh, fuck no. Forget it. I’m not letting you anywhere near my house! I won’t tell you shit!”

“Oh, that’s okay, princess. I already know where you live. I even have cameras in every room. I know where you jerk off, I’ve seen you build shit, destroy shit and get wasted for no fucking reason. It’s like a bad game of sims.”

Wrench was just about ready to risk his limps to fight the guy, so Marcus held him back. “He’s right, you know. He’s got you under surveillance, he showed me yesterday.”

Wrench’s mask turned blank. That could either be a good sign of surrender, which meant that Wrench would resentfully climb into the vehicle, or it could be a sign of anger, the last straw.

“Your place is the safest location for you right now, Wrench,” Jordi said and opened the car door of an old rusty thing that could barely be called a car anymore.

Fancy man, unadorned car.

“You know it too.”

Wrench clicked his tongue, but resentfully got into the backseat of the car, as Marcus had predicted. The hipster followed suit, giving the Asian James Bond the evil eye before he did.

As Jordi took off, though, the butterflies reappeared in his stomach again. He forced down a smile as he stared out the window.
He was finally going to Wrench’s place – and he couldn’t wait.

Chapter Text

Chapter 22: A tired artist, a heroic aspie and two missing-dead-alive fixers.

With eyelids as heavy as an anchor drowning in an ocean of work and a body screaming at her to take a chill pill and get some well-earned rest, Sitara yawned for the hundredth time. She never stopped searching and looking, but she had run out of ideas. She had no idea where to look anymore.

She tried calling Marcus, but he never answered his phone, which did nothing to help her worried soul. She thought the worst at that point; Wrench was kidnapped and tortured or even killed somewhere, and Marcus sat alone somewhere and grieved.

She sighed and turned towards her corner of the hackerspace where an old, unfinished art project laid forgotten. Her heart ached with longing for her dear hobby, she often sketched to calm herself, but if she turned to the art in the current situation, her gut would twist and turn with wrongness. Her friends were missing and she sat down and drew? No, Sitara would look and look and look, even if it took her forever.

She sat by the big meeting table in the middle of the hackerspace. Her elbows sat on the surface of the messy table as she rested her forehead on the heels of her hands. Hopelessness surged through her veins and throughout her body like the Gulf Stream; she was tired; she was clueless and she was helpless, and Sitara despised it with everything she was. The artist hated being stuck; she hated not knowing what to do, especially when someone in Dedsec – her family – could be in danger. All the shit they had done for her, and she couldn’t even prevent someone from kidnapping Wrench. How disgraceful.

And thus, she sat and waited for an idea like an old, senile widow waiting for death. And there she would sit, even forever if she had to.

She lifted her head from her hands on took an aching glance at the art once more. It felt as though she was staring at the end of everything; the end of Marcus; the end of Wrench; the end of Dedsec as she knew it. What would her little group be without her best fixers? 

She got up from the table – in which she sat by for hours, days, weeks? – and walked to her therapeutic art. She crouched before the unfinished sketch and picked up the A3 paper. Oh, what a waste that project would’ve been if she did indeed stare at the end of everything. Sitara felt as though the world crumbled around her, and all she could do was sit and wait for something or someone to help her keep the fortress together. She never liked dead ends, but this one seemed to tear her apart.

Wrench had been with the group for five years. His engineering skills, reckless behavior, and the GSD, as Horatio described it, had gotten the group very far very fast.
And without Marcus, where would they be today? Probably still chasing The Douche like a bunch of scripted kiddies, as they were described in Cyber Driver. He was the one who installed the back door into Blume’s servers after all.

Wrench and Marcus, one of Dedsec’s most valued engineer and one of Dedsec’s most valued hacker. Both of them, though, were Sitara’s best fixers… and two of Sitara’s closest friends, huge members of her makeshift family. Not only would the world crumble if something were to happen to them, but Sitara would too.

“Hello.”

She jumped at the monotone voice and dropped the A3 paper. Her heart jerked with her jump and she turned and faced the green-clad hacker. He had removed his hoodie and fondled with the beanie between his fingers. His messy, brown hair stood in every direction – a rare sight to see.

“Shit, Josh,” Sitara breathed. “You scared me.”

“Oh. Sorry.” With one hand, he let go of the beanie and pointed toward the table where Sitara previously sat. “I brought you some coffee.”

Her heart ached less at the beautiful sight of the ugly coffee cup on the table. The cardboard colored mug steamed with hot, delicious, black coffee, and she smelled the liquid from where she stood in the corner. It was as if her previous worries had been swooped away with the bitterly sweet smell, and she hovered her way over like a cartoon character chasing the scent of pie. 

At that moment, Josh was the savior she had been waiting for. She could always count on him to lighten her dark mood with bribery such as coffee or donuts.

“You’re a lifesaver, an absolute hero. Thank you, sweetie.” She heard Josh mumble a soft, ‘you’re welcome’, before she continued. “So, any news?”

“Yes, actually.” He walked over to the TV wall and turned on the many screens. He quickly found the news on the TV. A young man had replaced the usual female news anchor, and Sitara frowned as she made her way over to the hacker.

“No, Josh. I meant news on Wrench and Marcus, not the actual news.”

“I know, but you might wanna see this.”

Deepening her frown, she averted her attention to the TV and listened as the unfamiliar news anchor spoke.

“-When four, unidentified, armored trucks chased down a red Vespid 5.2 throughout San Francisco. The street cameras were unable to capture a clear photo of the men in the armored vehicles, this due to the black taint on the windows; however, they were able to catch the driver, and the passenger of the red Vespid.”

A photo of Marcus and Wrench appeared on the corner of the screen. It looked like someone had tried to capture their picture discreetly, without being seen. The person had taken the photo outside of 10donuts, inside of which Marcus and Wrench sat by their usual spot at the bar by the window. They appeared to be having a great time, as Marcus laughed and Wrench flashed the happy carets. There was nothing immediately suspicious about them.  

“The driver of the red Vespid is former outlaw, Marcus Holloway. The FBI and police dropped the charges when it turned he was framed by the one and only, Dusan Nemec. The police suspects he is responsible for several, illegal cyber-attacks, as he is a known associate with hacker group, Dedsec, but they have no evidence to prove their suspicion.

“The passenger is also a known Dedsec associate. He is currently wanted by the FBI for cyber terrorism and of possession of illegal arms and weaponry. Witnesses claim to have seen this man using bombs, grenade launchers, rocket launchers and other explosive and very lethal weapons. The FBI says he is extremely dangerous and if the public should ever have a reason to fear Dedsec, this man would be it. His name is unknown, but recent discoveries found that people call him The Wrench. The FBI urges civilians to contact either them or the police if ever seen in public and -“

Her eyes never left the screen. She stared at it in almost confusion as she cocked her head. She crossed her free hand in front of her chest and the other clutched the coffee cup as hard as she dared as to not break the fragile thing.

She heard what the news anchor said, loud and clear, yet she didn’t. She couldn’t wrap her head around it. She sat for hours upon hours, thinking, believing, drilling into her head that Wrench was a goner and Marcus a griever. She sat defeated and mourned for both of them. She had solemnly believed that all was lost, and now she found out the both of them had been very much alive doing reckless car chases.

“Are they alive?” she asked. Her voice was like a bottle of whiskey. Sweet with the touch of bitterness.

“I’m not sure, but I think they are. The news anchor said if anyone saw Wrench in public, they should contact the authorities. That suggests that they either got out or… you know, got – they got taken.” Josh stammered the last bit. His face twisted uneasily and Sitara noticed immediately that he did not like the thought of them being taken.

“Don’t worry, Josh,” she comforted the green-clad hacker. “I’m sure they’re fine.” She tried to convince him, but she found it difficult to do so because she hadn’t quite convinced herself yet. “Do you know who those men are?”

“No, but they’re not the threat. There was another news report on this earlier today. Someone killed the men from the trucks. They said the bullets had most likely come from a distance, so they believed a sniper might have done it.” he shook his head, still distressed about the situation. “They believed the sniper was another Dedsec member, but if that was true they would have informed us about it, right?”

Sitara nodded. If another Dedsec member from another group had indeed rescued the two fixers, then surely they would have given her and Josh a heads up. But if another member didn’t shoot the men, who did? Was that fifty million dollar reward so important that people were willing to kill each other to get to Wrench? What a bunch of greedy, money-hungry sons of bitches. If only Sitara could get her claws on them. She’d made sure to sharpen her nails twice.

“Wait, there was another report in this?” she asked.

Josh nodded. “Yes. Around noon or 1 PM.”

“And now it’s…?”

“8 PM.”

Sitara nodded. Her exhausted mind and still droopy eyelids barely gave her the ability to think. She sat for hours upon hours in the basement of Gary’s Games and Glory, not knowing whether it was night or day, thinking two very alive people were dead. Her irritation flared like a volcano within her, and she felt like dropping everything she had worked on for the past hours – days weeks? – and go to bed.
Fuck it all, she thought. At least they were alive.

But no. She couldn’t just fuck it all and she couldn’t just think that they were alive. They could be in despair; they could be in pain; they could be dead, and like the mama bear Sitara was, she couldn’t’ just sit and watch as the fortress burned. She had to do something about it. She had no idea what, though, even after not knowing for so long, it seemed that nothing had changed.

“I’ve tried tracking Marcus, but an interference blocks the signal, which is why you probably can’t call him. Wrench neither, if they’re at the same location.”

Sitara nodded. “Is there something you can do?” She asked.

Josh nodded as well. “I’ll try. It’s gonna be hard since I don’t know their location, but I’ll play with the satellite and see what I can do. It’ll take a few hours at most.” He looked down as he fondled more viciously with the poor beanie. He shuffled his feet, shifting weight from one foot to the other.  

Sitara smiled. It was good knowing she had one genius in a team of mongoloid clowns. “Go get’em, Josh. You’re the best at this and if anyone can sniff them out, it’s gonna be you.”

Josh nodded and shuffled his way to his computer like the awkward penguin he was. She smiled and watched the awkward steps he made before he slouched in his chair. Sitara looked up to Josh and adored the man in a friendly manner. He was so cool, despite his aspie behavior. Sure, he could get twitchy at times, but who didn’t? Besides, her art paled in comparison to his hacking and coding skills. What’s not to love?

Sitara went back to her corner and scanned the sketch. Newfound hope bubbled up inside her now that Josh worked on the case alongside her, and all the hard work she put into the drawing didn’t seem as wasted after all.

In the drawing, she wanted to warn the public of the black market on the dark web. It was there that Wrench’s bounty was first posted, and some other shady stuff had been going on there lately. Sitara managed to track up someone who had been buying old, antique, medieval torture devices from someone named Mrs_9. Due to recent events, Sitara decided to investigate further into the matter and found irksome information. ¨

She contacted 9, who told her that she had never had a more committed buyer than someone called anonymous33284. After the seventh buy, she had nicknamed the buyer ‘The Nightmare’, because with all those torture devices he could easily become anyone’s worst nightmare.

She hadn’t found out whether or not Mrs_9’s nightmare was the same as their nightmare, but the facts left Sitara with an eerie gut feeling. The scene had a certain wrongness to it, especially since she gave the nickname just as August ended, right before TH3 N1GHTM4R3 posted the bounty on the dark web.

The artist intended to inform the others of this when they all met at Marcus’ apartment, but the feds rudely interrupted her before she could even say ‘Wrench’.

Either way, she now hoped that she could kill two birds with one stone with her sketch. She hoped that the public would understand the metaphors she used in the drawing to address the black market and dark wed– skeletons and zombies selling brains, guns, ivory and weapons from a black market booth, black cobwebs stuck to the corner of the booth – and raise more awareness towards the black market situation. She also hoped, especially after seeing the news report, that Dedsec was nothing to fear, that Dedsec as a group only wanted to raise awareness towards everything that made the world a dark place to live in, despite what the higher authorities said.

She ran away from home and dedicated her whole life to that hackergroup, she’d be found dead in a junkyard before she watched it go down in flames. With this determination, Sitara sketched some more. She added eyeballs and file after file after file that said, ‘ERROR ERROR, the world has failed’. She also added the grim reaper she often used to better represent the dark theme.

She smiled as she watched the sketch. She couldn’t wait to print it out and spray paint it on a huge billboard.

“I found the area,” Josh said from his desk. “It was a lot easier than I expected.”

“So I can try to give Marcus a call?” she smiled wider. Things were finally settling as hope bubble up in her stomach.

“Yes, but we only got one shot at this. When they realize that their signal blocker has been temporarily removed they’ll strengthen the security. I’ll be removed from their system within seconds, then.”

“How long can I talk?”

“I’m not sure, but if he answers, make it a short as possible.”

She nodded, drew her phone from the back pocket of her shorts and found Marcus as fast as she could on her contact list. Her heart pumped adrenaline into her veins as she waited.

 
Ring. No answer.

Ring. No answer.

Ring. No answer.

Ring. “Sup, Sit?” croaked a voice from the other line.

Sitara laughed. A burden fell from her shoulder as she heard the tired voice of Marcus. There was no fire in the fortress after all. “Fucking finally, Marcus! And don’t call me that, it sounds like I’ve got a pimple issue.”

“Uhm, you good? You sound… relived?”

“Of course I’m relieved. Neither I nor Josh knew whether nor not you guys were dead!” Sitara almost growled. Damn, the ignorance Marcus sometimes had. Don’t get her wrong, the hipster was charismatic and a human-knower, but damn ignorant at times.

“Ooh, fuck. I totally forgot to tell you, didn’t I?” Sitara could hear the cringe in Marcus’ voice.

“Yes, you did you hipster asshole. I’ve gotta keep this conversation brief, though, so… Where the hell are you?”

“You’re not gonna believe this, Sitara. Get ready to be bedaffled, because I am at Wrench’s house, girl!”

“No way! Really?” Sitara continued at the little ‘uh-huh’. “Wow, congrats, Marcus. I guess it’s safe to assume that Wrench is there with you, then?”

“Yup. Sleeping like a man-sized, tattooed baby.”

She had to roll her eyes. “Ugh, does he ever do anything else? Well, wake him up. I need a word with him, too.”

“No, he don't. He’s still recovering, so sleep is fatal. And sure, I’ll put you on speaker.”

Sitara heard some shuffling on the phone and a small voice saying, ‘wake up peanut’. There were groaning, some more shuffling and a small, but hilarious, ‘fuck off, M. Let me sleep’. She’d never say it out loud, but the two of them were adorable together. She could tell when Wrench was still in a coma and Marcus kept spooning him and smothering him. It was creepy, but also adorable. Like a feral puppy.

“Mom called,” she heard Marcus say.

“Sitara? Oh, fuck. We in trouble?” she heard Wrench croak. She had never heard his voice so deep. Even without his mask, his voice wasn’t deep.

“You bet your pale, tattooed ass you are!” Sitara yelled into the small device.

“Jokes on you, I don’t have tattoos on my ass.”

Rolling her eyes once again, Sitara said, “Are you guys safe at Wrench’s place.”

“Yeah,” Marcus replied. “And don’t worry about Wrench; I ain’t letting him out the house.”

Sitara smiled. “Good. Chain him to the bed of you have to.”

“For the record, he already did,” Wrench mumbled.

“Okay, gross. I don’t need to know about your sexual lives. And you should keep your guards up. I’ve found news about someone called the nightmare that buys medieval torture devices from the black market. If that’s our guy then I don’t think you’re in for a spa, Wrench.”

Silence filled the line, an eerie silence. Sitara did not like that silence. It was the heavy kind, the one that burdened your shoulders with more pressure rather than take away. That was never a good sign when it came to Wrench. The five years she's known him he barely ever shut up or stopped joking. The only time he did was when he had a lot on his mind. A thoughtful Wrench was not a good Wrench. She’d usually bring him something sweet in such moods.

“Yeah, yeah,” he sighed. “I always keep my guard up.”

Sitar nodded. “I know. Just thought I should let you know…”

A gut feeling told her that it wasn’t enough, though. She wanted Wrench and Marcus in the hackerspace, where she could see them and call them whenever she wanted. She wanted her boys to come home, where they could be safe from all the fixers, gang members and FBI agents out there. She couldn’t bare losing either one of them, but she felt like she was one mistake away from doing so. She had to be extra cautious from now on.

“Something is blocking your signals, by the way.” Said Sitara. “It would be nice if you could do something about it so we can call whenever. Josh tried, but he could only hold it down for so long.”

“I’ll try,” Marcus said. “And don’t worry, Sitara. We’re safe here. Only Jordi Chin knows how to get here and there’s only one of him and two of us. Besides, Wrench has an arsenal of weapons hidden throughout his house. He’s twitchy as fuck in here!” he laughed.

Sitara breathed a half-assed laugh too, not really feeling it. “Okay. Just be careful.”

Then the line went dead, and Sitara could only hope that they’d heed her warning. This was only the breath before the plunge.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23: The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.

Marcus stood in the doorway to the rather small garage that connected to the house. He had crossed his arms I front of his chest, flexing his muscles and his face looked in no way amused, even if you looked at it from miles away. He had just woken up and was just as unamused as his face. the garage was chilly too, and he only wore his black, Calvin Klein boxers.

He still hadn’t forgotten about the pros of last night – the memory danced in his head like a good scented candle danced in your nostrils. They had a great time from start to finish, from leaving the ugly, champagne colored vehicle they both hoped Jordi had stolen and not owned, till’ the point Marcus fell asleep. Wrench had chased Mr. Miyagi away with a random Bulley Hell shotgun, which he pulled out of a random, old vase that ‘decorated’ his front porch.  

After Jordi left with the tail between his legs, the anarchist proceeded to open the many locks on his front door. They headed straight inside to address Marcus’s wounds, after which he fell asleep on Wrench’s couch. During that time, Wrench searched for and pulverized Jordi’s surveillance cameras. When Marcus woke up again he demanded that the anarchist lead him to his room. He did not hesitate for a second before he leaped onto the bed and sniffed. It smelled just like he had hoped – motor oil, gunpowder and that little, something extra.

Then they had the best sex they had ever had so far. Wrench fell asleep afterward, and that’s when Sitara called. Marcus’ throat burned after he tried to deep-throat the anarchist. For a scrawny guy, he sure had a meat scepter to brag about, one larger than Marcus’ proud 7 inches. He hoped Sitara believed that his croaking voice was due to her waking him up.

When Sitara hung up, the two snuggled in bed for a while longer. Wrench lit up a cigarette and settled between Marcus’ legs, his bare back touching the hipster’s bare skin. Their skin tones looked like snow and chocolate together, but winter wouldn’t be complete without a cup of hot chocolate to sip on.

“There’s a scar on your right side.” Marcus murmured into silver strands and moved his fingers to the big scar he had found. “The huge skull tattoo covers it so it ain’t really visible, but I could feel it when I got a little creepy on your sleeping body the other day. How’d you get it?” Marcus asked.  

“Stop fondling my body while I sleep, you freak. And if you really wanna know, some Led Zeppelin-loving asshole threw me into the lion’s cage.” Wrench would laugh and inhale the nicotine.

The anarchist looked so content at the time, like nothing have ever and could never hurt him. It was as if he had forgotten all about his confidence issues when he was home. He sat half-naked, only adorned in his pentagram boxers, his face fully exposed and going as far as making eye contact with the hipster for more than six seconds. Marcus was having a blast as he stroked Wrench’s cheeks, played with his silver hair and caressed his body – Marcus was so happy he was convinced he was on drugs.

His heart fluttered with each stroke on the snowy skin and his smile never faltered as he listened to Wrench as he talked. He saw how his eyes glistered with excitement and a lust for adventure when he told the story behind the engine-less car in the small garage. Wrench made encouraging hand movement as he blabbered away, only taking short breaks to inhale more nicotine. And as the hipster got himself lost in the bright blue eyes that sparkled like the ocean on a sunny day, Marcus wondered if his eyes always looked like that underneath the mask. If so, then why hide it. It was, to simply put it, fucking adorable.

Apparently, Wrench stole the car from The Douche himself. He believed that hipster dick was behind something that pissed the anarchist off, (Marcus had no clue as to what the incident was; Wrench was very greedy on the details) and so he stole the rare car that Dusan loved and cherished. His plan was to wreck it, to drive it through the man’s living room or something, but Wrench fell in love with it too. So what did he do? He tore it apart and put it back together more awesome than before. Too bad he never got the time to finish the project – he was Dedsec’s most reliable fixer before Marcus, after all. He rarely had any spare time for silly hobbies.

“What’s your name?” The hipster would continue his prying.

“Forgotten like the form of last year’s clouds, as Benjamin Franklin would say.” Wrench puffed out some smoke.

Marcus snorted. “Since when did you become an expert on Benjamin Franklin?”

“Well, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands now that I’m wanted by criminals. Why not read up on some random shit said by random, old donkeys. It’s not like you’ll let me fuckify shit up any time soon.”

“Since you know so much of my boy, BF, you should that know that he also said ‘he that can have patience can have what he will’.”

“Tough shit,” Wrench said. “Patience was never my strong side. I’m more of a ‘life is hard and then you die’ person.”

Such a grim way of looking at life, Marcus thought.
He wondered how Wrench had grown up to view life like that. Sure, life could be hard sometimes, but there was always the bright side. Like how their relationship had grown from complete strangers to die-hard lovers in just a year; how he was part of Dedsec, a group that always took care of each other no matter what; and how he owned a house where he could get some peace and quiet – a rare thing when it came to The Marine, Oakland and San Francisco. Wrench’s life was, at the moment and in Marcus’ eyes, great.

But he could also count the not-so-bright-side, the cons of the pros. Wrench’s most likely problematic childhood; TH3 N1GHTM4R3; the torture and god knows what else. And like flies to flypaper, the bad memories stuck to him and weighed down on him more than the good ones could lighten him up.

Marcus cursed to himself. He wanted Wrench to feel lighter. After all, time lost to grieving cannot be found again.

He kissed Wrench on the cheek and pulled out his laptop. “In for some more Marvel prep for Endgames?” Marcus smiled.

Wrench smiled too. “Hell yeah!”

Both of them had seen the movies a million times before, but they wanted to be one hundred percent prepared for The Endgames. They didn’t want to miss a single detail, so they watched and watched, watched and watched. But as Marcus laid in such a comfortable position spooning the anarchist, Marcus felt his eyelids grow heavy with each passing second of the movie, and before he knew it, the hipster had fallen into a peaceful slumber.

He didn’t remember his dream when he woke up, but that didn’t concern him as much as the missing anarchist on the opposite side of the bed. He slightly panicked, until he heard muffled crashes and curses and shatters coming from downstairs. Still tired from the interrupted sleep, Marcus grumpily stomped down the stairs, still only in his boxers, and halted his fine ass in the doorway to the garage.

“Fucking piece of shit!” Wrench yelled to a chair as he completely annihilated it. It broke easily under the pressure of the sledgehammer, and small wooden splinters scattered the floor like dust.

He grabbed the blue-ish-green vase he had on his metal workbench and threw it on the wall right beside him. Sharp ceramic shards flew through the air and pierced his already scarred skin, sending small, trickles of blood down his forearm. “Why the fuck do you break so easily!” he screamed and slammed his fists against the said workbench.

“Wrench, what the fuck are you doing?”

The anarchist turned towards Marcus. The angry slashes lit up the otherwise dark LED screen like the moon on an eerie night. “The fuck does it look like, M? Therapy.” He picked up the sledgehammer and smashed some strange looking device to powder, much like he did to Jordi’s cameras.

“I thought the whole point of you owning a house was therapy,” Marcus said. He cautiously approached the enraged anarchist, but he stopped short when the other pointed his index finger at him.

“No. The whole point of owning a house is so I can go here and feel sorry for myself without people stopping by to ask what’s wrong. Everything’s always wrong, I just don’t mention. Now, Therapy is destroying shit, but you don’t let me the fuck out, so here I am. Now, get out and let me teach Miley Cyrus how sledgehammers really work. I wouldn’t wanna accidentally break your balls.” He slammed a hole in the wall when he said the last words.

And then he kept slamming at that hole over and over and over. Marcus tried calling at him, but he never got an answered. His gut twisted with worry for his boyfriend, and all he could do was to stand idly by and watch as Wrench underwent his ‘therapy’.

That was until the anarchist turned around about to raise his sledgehammer against the car. Now, Marcus couldn’t just stand and watch as he destroyed something as important as that car. He leapt forward, grabbed the sledgehammer and halted Wrench’s movements.

“Okay, I get that fucking shit over is like a kink to you when it comes to anger management, but I ain’t gonna let you destroy the car that you’ve been busting your ass off for years trying to awesome-ify it. And what for, anyways? Your period?”

Wrench dropped the sledgehammer, as did Marcus. His mask went blank as they listened to the clatter from the thing of destruction. “I don’t mean to blow a hole in that rock hard pride of yours, Marcus, but the things that concern me don’t necessarily concern you! So why don’t you let me have my little ‘period’ and fuck the fuck off?”

“Sure. Or I could bring you chocolates and beer, insist that you tell me what is wrong,” Marcus opened his arms wide for Wrench to come in, “and maybe invite you to a good, M-bear hug?”

He heard the modulated sigh coming from Wrench and he saw how he tried to un-tense his tense shoulders. Wrench resentfully approached the open-armed hipster and laid his forehead against his shoulders. Marcus smiled like a child who had gotten its sugar back. Though Wrench did nothing to embrace the darker man, Marcus happily embraced him with an even more therapeutic, tight bear hug.

“Speech level one hundred,” he heard Wrench murmur as he, too, snaked his hands around the hipster’s neck.

“Yeah. Skyrim got too easy after that. I swear I could talk myself out of murder even if the guard witnessed the murdering.”

Wrench snorted. “Skyrim was genius,” he murmured and hugged Marcus closer.

Silence filled the garage, but Marcus didn’t mind. It was the peacefulness that always came after a vicious storm. The cloud would partially clear up, leaving rays of sunlight to shine upon the trashed place. Marcus inhaled Wrench’ scent and rubbed his back under the spiked vest. He pulled off the hood and brushed his hair with his other. He was glad that he had managed to calm Wrench down, but he really wanted to know what got him so riled up in the first place.

He had no utter clue as to what could have gotten under Wrench’s skin so badly, especially when they were alone. If Ray, Josh, Sitara, or even Marcus was the cause, it would have been more understandable. But Marcus was asleep and the others weren’t there, so what could it possibly be. He knew too little of his boyfriend to make assumptions and guess, too.

If only you would tell me, he inwardly sighed.

“I know who TH3 N1GHTM4R3 is.”

Oh, shit, Marcus thought, be careful what you wish for, it might come true.
Now, that explained a lot, yet so little. TH3 N1GHTM4R3 practically took Wrench’s life and crushed it between his fingertip. He had the poor guy tortured and hunted and trapped in his own home, he understood the anger Wrench felt towards him, yet he also didn’t. It was hard to explain it, but there was no use getting angry over a ghost. At least not yet, so why fret about it?

So, naturally, Marcus supposed there was something deeper behind Wrench’s statement. ‘I know who TH3 N1GHTM4R3 is’. He said it with so much disgust in his voice; he spat it out like a bad flavor. He didn’t just know the name, he knew the person.

Marcus didn’t move. He stood in the slightly chilly garage in just his underwear and smothered his boyfriend, a silent encouragement for him to continue.

“He was my roommate. I kind of looked up to him when Leader first transferred me to the ‘big boys’ bunker’, but the more I grew, the more of a pain he became.” Wrench never looked up from the shoulder, either, which muffled his modulated voice slightly, but Marcus didn’t mind.

“He protected me from the big, scary boys when I was nine years old, the youngest kid ever to get transferred to the bunkers. You usually go there when you turn thirteen.” Wrench clicks his tongue. “Fuck, I wish I never made that dog talk.”

Marcus frowned. “You made a dog talk?”

“Yup. A stuffed dog, but a dog nonetheless. When Leader first noticed my ‘talents’, he thought that I’d be of great help to the idiots in the garage in the bunkers, so he transferred me. He assigned TH3 N1GHTM4R3 to look after me. He did a good job too. When I had trouble sleeping, he would let me sleep in his bed. When I had trouble with bullies at school, he’d protect me. Then he got me thrown into the pool, and I fucking hated him.”

Wrench moved and looked at Marcus; at least the mask looked at him. “I killed him, M.” he murmured, the X’s back on the LED screen. “I killed them all.”

Marcus nodded. “You did start that fire in the gang’s bunker, didn’t you?”

Wrench nodded as well. “Just didn’t want everyone to know. What would they think of me if they knew I’m a murderer? Fuck, what do you think of me?”

Marcus cupped the masked cheeks, stared deeply into the X’s, and said, “I think you had your reasons. I think you were fed up with whatever bullshit they did and I think you did what you believed was right. I can’t say whether it was, though. I don’t know the details.”

Trying to put two and two together could be tricky, especially with the lack of details Wrench gave him, but out of what Wrench confessed, and the small, dark jokes he sometimes did with Marcus, he did make his own story out of it. He believed that his mother left Wrench as a child and the gang that had been scorched in that bunker him and Ray visited ‘adopted him’, so to speak. They didn’t exactly treat him nicely, so the anarchist killed them all. That was what he managed to muster up with the small puzzle pieces he’s been given, but a few of them couldn’t make the whole image,

“What’s his name?” Marcus asked.

Wrench snorted. “His name is Jeff.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 24: Reasons why dead men should remain buried.

Marcus rewound the footage another time. The hipster stared with a deep frown on his face as he witnessed TH3 N1GHTM4R3 stroke Wrench’s cheek while he slept in what the anarchist remembered as an uncomfortable position. Wrench had managed to take off mask halfway off his face before he blacked out from the one too many beer bottles he had consumed that night.  

Chills ran up and down his spine and his entire body shuddered as goosebumps erupted all over his skin. Wrench knew someone had stroked his cheek – or, at least he was convinced of it – but when he woke up in his bed a few hours later with no creepy hipster hands groping all over, the anarchist just assumed it was some drunken dream. Then he ran to Marcus to make that drunken dream become a sober reality.

Too bad it turned into a sober nightmare.  

He had also rewound the footage a fuck-ton times before he unleashed his inner hell. It took him back in time as he witnessed a dead man stroke his cheek – back to when the very same man stroked his cheek when he was alive. His gut twisted up in disgust and he felt his body shudder a second time at the chills that ran through his body. Wrench silently gagged as his eyes subconsciously zoomed in on the red, scarred sausage fingers that left an invisible trail of sweat down his cheek.
How ghastly.

No matter how grossed out Wrench felt by the ever rewinding footage, he couldn’t deny the unmistakable epiphany that came with. Everything about TH3 N1GHTM4R3 suddenly made sense – the false accusation that Wrench was Campbell Carter’s possible child; the lack of details about who he was looking for in the posted bounty, despite knowing so much about the anarchist; the nickname and even the amount of money. Everything that Jeff had done as TH3 N1GHTM4R3 had some deeper meaning from back when they shared a room together. Oh, how stupid Wrench had been as to not realize it sooner.

But then again – Jeff was dead.   

A long time ago, when Wrench’s mind was as dark as starless space, he thought of a plan on how to hurt somebody without having to lift a finger yourself. That wouldn’t really be bad if only he hadn’t shared the masterpiece with Jeff. Wrench almost felt as if he had brought this upon himself. Let this be a lesson to not share your thoughts when your mind is a starless space.
Shit might just get real one day.

“Why’d he stroke your cheek?” Marcus asked as he rewound the footage yet again.

Wrench shrugged. “I don’t know.”

Crossing his arms in front of his chest seemed to Wrench like an appropriate thing to do in the current situation. Not only did it give the false image that he was protected, but it also helped hide his tense body from his tense boyfriend. He took his usual stance which came off as sassy, which, luckily for him, would direct Marcus to believe he was more pissed off than freaked out.

But Wrench was freaked out. Therefore, when Marcus paused the security footage just as those red, scarred sausage fingers touched his pale cheek, it could be voted as one of the worst things Marcus could have done at the time. Wrench swore the shudders streamed harder through his body as his vision zoomed in on his harassed cheek. He almost felt violated; touching a wasted man’s cheek was rude.

Marcus turned abruptly towards Wrench. He had his eyebrows slightly raised and a distant glaze had covered his eyes as he watched the anarchist with a questioning look. Wrench returned the same look as the capital letter O’s designed the LED screen.

“He stroked your cheek?” The cringe that painted Marcus’ face was the accurate description of what Wrench’s body was going through.

Wrench nodded slowly, almost in disbelief again.

“Dude, that’s fucking creepy.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Wrench said and inched closer to the laptop. If he kept staring at the nasty burnt fingers, he’d surely throw up. He closed the laptop and let his hand linger on the skull-decorated device. “Jeff always had some sort of ‘stroking-cheeks’ fetish.”

“Fuck,” he heard Marcus breathe and Wrench met his gaze through his mask. He leaned into the touch when Marcus stroked Wrench’s exposed arms comfortably. “I understand your anger now, man. I mean, I kinda feel like smashing shit now.”

Pointing at Marcus, Wrench flashed him the capital letter O’s again. He made short, incoherent noises as he tried to process the words of the hipster. Marcus wanted to smash shit? Marcus wanted to smash shit! The words left Marcus’s mouth like rays of sunshine and the anarchist beamed like a sun himself. He got to destroy shit with his boyfriend – it could very well be considered their first date.

“Well, Marky-mark, you have come to the right person and at an exquisite time! I happen to know of some smashing treasures outside that are just dying to get some attention,” he said. The happy carets had replaced the capital letter O’s.

“Oh yeah?” asked Marcus. “Which treasures.”

“The ones that keep us away from our ‘mommy’,” Wrench tapped the laptop one last time to ensure that the thing would remain closed and conceal the horrors that lied within. He headed for his garage with Marcus on his tail. “According to Sitara, Josh was only able to disable our treasures for a short period of time because they reboot themselves and improve security with each reboot. They, much like every other electronic device, have one great weakness though.”

“And it’s probably not hacking.”

Wrench turned to face Marcus. He placed a hand on his broad shoulders and said, “No. We do this Wrench style. Complete annihilation always works when it comes to nuisances like these.”

Marcus raised an eyebrow. “So, what? You’re gonna drag along a fucking sledgehammer for what could be miles and miles with no end to smash our treasures?”

“Wrong,” Wrench said and skipped to his weapons closet where he rummaged through the mess. He always liked to claim that he enjoyed controlled chaos, but there was nothing about the chaos in that closet that was even close to controlled. He had to search through shotguns, disassembled rocket launchers, pistol parts, assault rifles and (hopefully) tamed bombs before he found the death machine he was searching for. “I’ve got something lighter, yet ten times as destructive as the sledgehammer that’ll be sure to blow those bastards back to Jeff’s massive asshole.”

He invented the grenade launcher a long time ago, but he never had the chance to use it. Sitara never assigned him any OP that deemed suitable for a grenade launcher as powerful as the one Wrench searched for. It might be too much for their current, small mission as well, but it was not as if someone could hear them and shoot them. They were in the middle of nowhere after all.

“Yes!” Wrench said once he reached the forgotten thing. He turned around and showcased the weapon to Marcus, the proud happy carets lighting up his LED screen like diamonds in a coal mine. “M, say hello to the Bad_Guy_Molester, otherwise known as the BGM. It’s small, but the grenades in this launcher are strong enough to wreck the golden gate bridge’s pillars! Also, due to the very small ammo, it can contain up to 18 grenades before you have to reload! This thing is anarchist porn!”

His heart bounced in his chest like a small child going to Disneyland for the first time. He was finally getting out of his house, after what felt like an eternity in house arrest. His restlessness had overtaken his entire being, and thus Wrench blew up all the faster. It was enough of that, though. After an eternity of waiting, he would thrive even if they were just going grocery shopping, let alone destroy devices. The anarchist was finally allowed to do some anarchy.

Marcus breathed a small laugh at the excited ball of punk and shook his head. “You’re crazy, you know that?” he stepped forward, removed the dark hood that covered Wrench’s light hair and gave a small smooch. “Shall we?” the hipster asked and gestured to the exclusive garage exit.

Still thriving and basking in glory, Wrench said, “Hell yeah!”

 

 

That lump in her stomach never ceased to exist, even after a day and a half. It almost hurt with how bad everything felt; Sitara sat and bounced her legs and grasped the phone so tight between her fingers that her entire hand had paled. She couldn’t call them and they couldn’t call her and it just didn’t sit right with her. It was almost as if the entire signal block was a setup, a way to lure the hipster and the anarchist out of the safety of Wrench’s four walls. They had to go out there, though, to get rid of it. How else was Sitara supposed to get in touch with them?

The phone was all greasy from her clammy hands as she clutched it in her grasp. She waited and waited and waited. Josh brought her coffee and Ray brought her food. Both of them told her that Wrench and Marcus knew what they were doing and that everything would turn out fine. Yet, her leg bounced and bounced and her grip on the poor, greasy device only got tighter and tighter as she waited and waited.

She owed it to Wrench for almost canceling his life support. She owed it to Marcus for all the dangerous OP’s he had done for her. She owed it for herself - Dedsec was her family, and she would crumble like an avalanche if she let someone else in her family die.

A pat on the shoulder followed by a box of donuts placed in her vision had her averting her eyes from the phone. She looked up and saw the concerned gaze of Ray, who proceeded to sit in the chair next to hers.

“Y’know, not taking care of yourself ain’t gonna do Wrench and Marcus no good. If you’re right and shit’s not as it seems, they’re gonna need you to be on top of your game as well.”

Sitara nodded. “You’re right.”

The two sat in silence and listened to the soft, electric hum of the hackerspace. Sitara helped herself on some donuts and Ray sipped on a beer bottle.

Sitara finished her beverage. “What if I’m right, though?”

“Then we figure it out,” Ray was as calm as ever, sitting with his hands crossed in front of his chest. “I’ve seen you kids on the go. There’s nothing you can’t figure out.”

Her mood slightly lightened by Ray’s words. He was kind of right. They had conquered Dusan Nemec, a sly motherfucker who got away with almost anything. They avenged themselves against the Bratva when they abducted Marcus; they avenged themselves against the Tezcas when they killed Horatio; they could damn well avenge themselves against some tacky looser named TH3 N1GHTM4R3.

What was Sitara moping around for?

The sound of her phone alerted the duo, Sitara almost jumped off her chair at the sound. She checked the still greasy screen and actually jumped off her seat when she saw ‘The Wrench’ light up the device. Her heart beat fast from both the scare and Wrench’s picture as she answered the call.

“Hello, Wrench?”

“Sitara?”

She breathed out a sigh of relief. The slight panicky sound of his robotic voice did not ease her shoulder, though. “Fuck, Wrench. Are you alright?”

“No, I’m not fucking alright!” he screamed into the phone. She could hear him breathing heavily and the crunching of someone walking on gravel or dirt. “They took Marcus.”

Her heart sank. Her stomach twisted painfully. Her heart skipped a beat. “What?”

“I’m not sure, but he’s not answering and I heard yelling. I’m headed to his last location now, but-“ he stopped breathing, stopped walking and stopped talking.

“but what, Wrench?”

“He’s not here,” Wrench’s voice shook. “He’s not fucking here and there’s blood and…” There was a short silence again. “Motherfuckers! Fucking dipshits, fuck!”

“Wrench! Wrench, calm down. What’s happening?”

“There’s blood… a lot of it and a note.”

Sitara tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “What does the note say?”

She could hear Wrench trying to control his breathing with each heavy puff that echoed through her phone. Sitara knew it; she should have acted sooner. She should have pushed Wrench to tell her where the fuck he lived so she could pick him and Marcus up and keep them within the safety of the hackerspace. She should have been more cautious. She knew people were after Wrench – many powerful people – yet she just sat idly and watched as they got a huge advantage over them.

“Wrench, what does the note say?” she demanded.

Wrench still breather heavily. She could hear silent curses and more crunching of dirt. A gulp echoed through the line, and the anarchist finally said, “It says checkmate.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 25: The cat and the cow.  

Where there was shit, there was chaos… Raymond Kenney, of course – the self-proclaimed shit-magnet. The eerie silence that filled the hackerspace once he had returned from an errand did not fit the usual youthness of the place. The more frantic than usual tapping of keyboards and the two very focused young adults by the meeting table sent a foul tingle down the old man’s spine.

He also noticed the studded anarchist by his bench and an additional hole in the wall to the first one’s right. The hole was decorated with red splatters, which probably came from Wrench’s bloodied knuckles. Someone – most likely himself – had poorly wrapped something around the blooded knuckles, but it did nothing to prohibit the pouring blood as the cloth was coated in the substance.

That was not the issue of the situation, though. The real issue was the fact that Wrench was quiet and – most oddly – focused on something other than chaos and destruction. He, too, stared intensely at the laptop. He leaned towards the laptop so much, that if he went any farther, he might fall into the screen.

Either way, things seemed to have escalated since he left during Sitara’s phone call with Wrench.  

“Someone gonna tell me what the hell is going on?” he asked.

Sitara was the only one who raised her head from her device. She raised her eyebrow at the old man, and said, “How nice of you to join us, Ray. You seem to enjoy leaving in the heat of the moment.” She crossed her arms in front of her chest and gave him a look that sent even more shivers down his spine. Sitara was a force to be reckoned with, he knew that by now.

“What?” Ray said, “I thought all would be good since Mr. edgy over there was finally able to call ya.” He nodded in Wrench’s direction, where a proud middle finger already stood idly to tell Ray to go fuck himself. Still not a word from him, though, which gave the clear message that nothing was good.

Sitara sighed. “Well, it’s not. They took Marcus. And Wrench punched another hole in the wall.”

“And I’ll keep punching it if Marcus keeps getting his ass in trouble!”

Both Ray and Sitara rolled their eyes at the anarchist, and Sitara continued by telling him that Marcus’ job was, in fact, to get his ass in trouble.

“Yeah, but after he’s gotten his ass in trouble he’s supposed to drag it back home where it’s safe and sound and loved beyond reason. Now fucking Jeff has it!”

Standing Idly next to Sitara seemed to be the only thing the old man was capable of doing as many questions sped through his mind. Who was this Jeff and how’d he take the hipster if he and the anarchist managed to break down the signal barrier TH3 N1GHTM4R3 had put up around Wrench’s house? Unless the hipster and the anarchist had separated in their mission, but that would be idiotic under the current circumstances. The kids had brains; surely they’d know that too. And why did they take Marcus? If Ray were TH3 N1GHTM4R3, he’d take Wrench and be done with the search.

Ray looked at the anarchist and raised an eyebrow. He said, “How’d you even get here? I was gone for thirty minutes.” He figured that’d be a better start to his questions than all else that popped into his mind. The spiked punk hated questions, the old man knew as much, and he didn’t want to frighten the kid.

“I picked him up,” said the monotone voice from Josh.

Giving the kid a look, Josh proceeded to explain that he was an aspy, not retarded. He could drive a car, he just preferred not to.

Ray would have responded with a sassy comment or a snarky remark, but the ghostly image that was Josh’s face kept him from doing so. Dark bags hung under his eyes like corpses from a rope, his bloodshot eyes scanned the computer screen as his pale fingers tapped on the keyboard.

Did Josh ever sleep?

“And I think I know how to maybe find Marcus.”

Now, that got everyone’s attention. Even Wrench looked up quickly with the exclamation marks on his mask lighting up like Christmas lights. He chanted happily on the awkward man, asking whether or not he had acknowledged the kid’s geniusness.

Josh only smiled – if one could call the small, shy tugs of the corners of his lips that – and said, “Yes. You mention it from time to time.”

And then Josh filled them in. They’ve all done their fair share of research, everyone finding something that simply didn’t add up.
Sitara and Josh found the woman from the black market who started to call her anonymous regular, the nightmare. That could always be a coincident, they had no evidence that said her nightmare was their nightmare.
Ray and Marcus explored the burnt down gang hideout inside the bunkers and found Wrench’s mask’s blueprints, which TH3 N1GHTM4R3 had most likely planted there. They had a lot of assumptions regarding that, at least Ray had.

Either TH3 N1GHTM4R3 had been part of that gang, and therefore knew where to find the bunkers. He wanted Dedsec and Ray to blame Wrench for either everything the gang did or for burning down the place – for mass murder – so, he planted Wrench’s blueprints there. Alternatively, TH3 N1GHTM4R3 somehow found out that Wrench was part of that gang, which was very intimate information for the anarchist since he had been trying so hard to keep it a secret, and TH3 N1GHTM4R3 wanted the world to know because Wrench definitely wouldn’t want that. The fucker was trying to torture the punk after all.

There was always the third option as well, but Ray didn’t have enough pieces to the puzzle to exactly call it an assumption. They both were in that gang and they knew each other. Something had happened between them, and now TH3 N1GHTM4R3 wanted revenge.

What did not make sense in either of his assumptions were the burnt down bunkers. Where did that fire fit in? Is that where Wrench’s burn mark came from? If that was the case, did TH3 N1GHTM4R3 cause the fire? Also, Ray was so sure he’d seen Wrench somewhere before, he remembered it exclusively because of the burn mark. He just couldn’t figure out where.

So many questions that he hoped Josh was able to answer.

He started from the beginning, which was the bounty. He had done some digging and found out that TH3 N1GHTM4R3 – or Jeff, as Wrench called him – posted it on August 27. That was also most likely when people started digging, who was the son of Richard Campbell Carter? On September 16, Jeff released the first hint, which was a photo of Wrench in his garage when he had opened the large door to let in some air on a steamy day.

The bad guys knew who Wrench was, most people did – he was a hard man to forget, what with the mask and overall edginess – but was that the person they were looking for? Or was it simply a man who had the answer to their question, who was Richard’s son? They didn’t know, cause’ Jeff didn’t tell, so they had one option – interrogating Wrench, mildly speaking of course.

Now, they all knew that. What Josh wanted to point out were the dates of which the bounty and the first hint had been posted.

“Sitara, do you remember the dates when the nightmare bought those medieval torture devices online?” Josh asked without explaining the significance of the dates.

“Yeah. The first transaction between the seller and the nightmare happened august 22th, two thousand and seventeen.”

“Exactly, and – and do you remember what happened that month? It was a pretty big deal on the news, we even sent Marcus to snoop around a little?”

“The robberies?” Wrench asked. His mask displayed question marks and he sounded almost in disbelief. “What do they have to do about this?”

Josh cleared his throat and looked at the screen of his computer. “They happened once a month –“

“Just like the transactions,” Sitara interrupted.

“Yes – yes and, according to every news article there is about the robbery, they stole exactly 4.333333 million dollars each time. No more, no less.”

Ray remembered those robberies. The media went crazy about it. The FBI, CIA and other major investigation investments were involved to try and catch the men behind it, but none succeeded. The public actually asked Dedsec for help, hence the reason why Marcus snooped around, but he found nothing, which was also the outcome of the other teams around San Francisco and the USA in general. It all seemed hopeless, until this August, when the robberies came to a sudden halt.

Ray widened his eyes. Josh smiled at him. “So you’ve figured it out?” he asked.

“The robberies lasted for a year. Their last robbery was this august.”

“Holy fuck. From last august to this august. One year, twelve months. And twelve times 4.333333 million is just about fifty-two million.” Wrench exclaimed.

“Enough for your bounty,” Ray said.

“And a little something extra,” Sitara Joined. “The transactions between the buyer and the seller ended this august, the same month as the robberies stopped.”

“And the bounty was posted.” Josh lowered his laptop screen slightly to better see the team.

It all added up, the puzzle pieces made sense. Most of them anyways. On September 16, they announced they’d be hosting a party to celebrate the undertaking of the HellHackz, the hacker group that consisted of corrupted FBI agents. On Saturday, September 29, they hosted the party and the morning after, they discovered that their spiked friend had been kidnapped. And the day after that, a day Ray won’t forget any day soon, on October 1, he saw Wrench’s torture.

Shudders flew down his spine at the thought of it. His skin erupted in goosebumps as he tried to suppress the image of Wrench’s peaking bone. Such horrid acts shouldn’t be done to a man so young, or any man for that matter.

“So how does this help us find Marcus?” Wrench asked.

Josh inhaled deeply, before letting out an equal heavy sigh. He closed his eyes and sat quietly for a while. “It…” he hesitated. Opening his eyes, he said, “it’s a really, really, really long shot.”

 

**********

 

It was a really, really, really long shot. Almost an impossible shot. Even Bob Lee Swagger wouldn’t be able to shoot that far, but it was all they had.

If their guy was the man behind the monthly robberies, there might be a small chance that the FBI had some information that was worth their time, but the chances were as slim as a silk thread. The feds did not find the robbers after all.

Dedsec planned an OP all the same, but with some difficulties. With Marcus taken away and Wrench’s foot still being this crippled, broken thing, their two best errand boys were incapable of running their errands.

Hence, Sitara and Ray would be running the errands while Josh and Wrench stayed home to watch over them from above, through the security cameras.  The anarchist, though still with anguish, actually agreed to stay home without much of a fight, which surprised Ray. He never thought a moment would appear when the young punk wasn’t difficult, at least in his time amongst the living.

They drove a navy blue Audi A4 to the headquarters of the FBI to get the least attention as possible. Ray sat behind the wheel of course and cursed Sitara’s bouncy leg. It had bounced from the minute she had sat her ass down and it was driving the old inventor nuts. She also annihilated her nails with her teeth while her other hand rubbed its fingers against each other.

“Alright,” Ray cleared his throat, ready to enter ‘dad-mode’ once more. Could someone remind him why he mended with those angsty kids again? “Either you stop bouncing that leg and we’re done with this, or you tell me what’s on your mind.”

Sitara sighed and pulled her poor finger out of her mouth. Ray never took her for a nervous nail biter, but then again, the old man wasn’t that acquainted with the young adult. “It just feels wrong, you know?”

Ray raised his eyebrows, but remained silent. He waited for the young hacker to continue, to further explain her feeling of wrongness.

“It’s just… too easy? I guess. They’ve made this so easy for us. How the robberies happened once a month, the transaction just a week after each robbery and how the bounty was posted as both the robberies and transactions ended? It’s like they hadn’t even tried to cover up their tracks.”

“Maybe they’re a bunch of morons?”

“Maybe,” she brought her fingers to her mouth again. “Or maybe they’re geniuses.”

That was also an option. Maybe the morons had taken their time to plan this as perfectly as they could. Maybe they took their time to figure out just how much Dedsec was willing to dig when it came to their friends and members, and perfectly laid out their tracks to lead the group just where they wanted. If that were that case, tough, then that meant one thing.

“This may be a trap.” Ray said.

“Precisely.”

Though Josh answered most of Ray’s questions about their current situation, some questions still were unanswered. Questions such as how the blueprints ended up in the burnt down bunkers, and the additional ones to that; who was TH3 N1GTM4R3 – or Jeff – to Wrench, and last but not least; what could the punk possibly had done that was so bad as to drive Jeff to do something like that. Drive him to torture Wrench in any way possible; by kidnapping his boyfriend; by sending every dangerous gang and fixer after him and his team, possibly killing everyone in Dedsec, everyone the kid held dear; and by actually getting the punk brutally, painfully tortured.
So many unanswered questions still tugged on Ray’s mind.

And only Wrench knew the answers, the most secretive person on planet earth – maybe even more so than Aiden Pearce.

The unlike duo bickered back and forth while Ray maneuvered the Audi down the streets, both talking nonsense, none knowing whether it was best to get their minds off their current mission and possible traps, or to keep their heads in the game, even if they haven’t arrived yet.

Dad-mode was at no help either when it came to that particular issue. He himself preferred to keep his head in the game and focus on the problems to come, but he did not know what Sitara preferred. Hell, from the looks of it, she herself didn’t know – going back and forth from talking of random facts about moronic politicians and actually being silent.

When they arrived at their destination, which was just across the streets of the FBI HQ, they exited the Audi, heading in the opposite direction of their targeted building. They hid in an alley in the pedestrian zone just across from the FBI and waited.

“How’s that distraction going?” Ray asked the homeboys through the earpiece.

“I’m gonna make this thing my pet, like Wrench jr.,” Wrench said happily. “Ray better stay the fuck away from it, though. You might wanna blow this one up too.”

“Says the anarchist.” Muttered the old man.

The plan was to distract the FBI by unleashing hell on some agents out in the field with the itsy bitsy spider. Wrench volunteered immediately, claiming he hadn’t played with the robot yet.

“The itsy bitsy spider is ours, Wrench, not yours like Wrench jr. was. You can’t keep it.” Josh said. “And remember its non-lethal hell. Don’t go crazy, I want people to like the spider, not fear it.”

“I know, I know. I’ll just fondle their balls a little.”

Ray rolled his eyes, as did Sitara. Good to know that he’s back to his old, perverted self, at least.

Tramping footsteps shook the ground from across the streets as agent after agent shot through the front doors of the HQ. They had armed themselves with heavy weapons and bulletproof armor. They marched into armored trucks, which sped out towards east, most like towards Wrench’s ball fondling spider.

“That was your cue to get your asses moving.” Wrench said.

And that they did. The half-jogged, half-walked towards the building, trying their best not to raise suspicion among the civilians, but their strained and tense walking did turn some heads along the way. Not enough to call the cops, though.

It would be a lie if Ray didn’t say he was nervous. Walking willingly into the FBI HQ of San Francisco wasn’t exactly on his bucket list, with him being a criminal and all. Either way, he sucked it up and bit his teeth together. His heart picked up its pace all the same, though, as the buildings towered over him. He felt small beads of sweat as they made their way down his forehead when he entered the HQ, keeping his head low and pulling his caps lower to better cower his criminal self from all the law people that still littered the place.

They made their way up the elevator easily. From there, hell may be waiting for them. Either that or it could be a walk in the park – only time would tell.

According to their plan, it should be the latter. Should. It was easy; all they had to do was to find the right archive with the right file. What was not easy was the fact that there were many archives with many files, which was the reason why both Ray and Sitara had to enter the building. It was easier that time when Marcus went – he knew where the specific information he searched for were, but none of Dedsec knew this time. They simply didn’t have time to prepare for so long, their deadline was in three days, and they already wasted one planning for that specific OP.

They only hoped that the FBI had information worth their time. If not, only God knew what might happen to Marcus. Last time Ray and the gang didn’t keep a deadline, Wrench was tortured. Badly. The old man refused to let another kid go through such brutality.

The elevator dinged open, and neither he nor Sitara lingered for a second longer than they had to.

“Okay, so there are four archives. We’ve already downloaded one of the four when Marcus snuck around, which means there are three more possibilities. They are all in the other building, down in the cellar, which is only accessible through an elevator on the highest floor on the other building. You’ll need to find a cTOS box in order to unlock it, maybe even an access key.” Josh informed.

“An access key. But you’ll easily find one in the office room; they always keep one of those around, just in case,” Wrench butted in. “God damn noobs. They put the elevator to the basement on the very top of the building for security reasons, but don’t bother to hide the keys. They clearly lack common sense.”

Sitara’s voice was low and rushed as she crouched her way towards the bridge to the office area. “How do you even know this?”

“I may or may not have broken into those archives myself once or twice.” Sitara asked him why, and Wrench responded, “Not really any of your business, but if you must know, the goons had some very sensitive shit on me, and I didn’t like it.”

Of course. Why else would the punk sneak into the HQ? Ray couldn’t help, but wonder what that shit was.

“Unless it’s about Jeff or the robberies you’re free to keep your secrets,” Sitara said.

Faint footsteps resonated from further down the bridge and Sitara and Ray took cover behind huge potted plants. They had only made their way halfway across when the guard showed herself from around the corner on the other side of the bridge. It appeared as she was talking to someone across her earpiece, not really paying too much attention to her surroundings. Ray assumed they didn’t teach her that in ‘guard school’.

He looked over at her female companion, who mouthed she’d handle the guard.
Thank god. Ray had no intention of being imprisoned that day, and taking down a guard in his age seemed like a bad idea if he intended to stick to his intentions. His poor, old heart could barely keep up with sneaking around in the HQ. sweat coated both his palms and his forehead and something twisted in his stomach.

Yup. He was definitely too old for this shit.

Sitara pulled out her phone from her shorts pocket. She looked over at the guard and hit a button. Not a second after, Ray heard a screeching sound, almost as if someone dragged their nails across a chalkboard, coming from the guard’s earpiece. Sitara moved swiftly towards the enemy as she screamed in pain from the horrific sound. Sitara moved like a cat, fast, but soundless, as she knocked down the guard stealthily. She peaked around both corners to ensure that she and the old man were alone.

The small nod coming from the young woman suggested they were, and Ray crouched towards her. His moves resembled more a cow than a cat – his movements stiff compared to her flexibility, and each step a stomp to the ground. Stealth was never really Ray’s thing.

Once reunited, the cat and the cow marched their way to the office area, only for Ray's heart to skip another beat upon realizing that the room was far from empty.

“Um, Wrench?” Ray asked and stared at the chaos within the office. A person occupied every desk, each individual situated with their own microphone headset. Papers scattered the desks, but none seemed interested in them. Everyone’s focus was at their computer screens, almost everyone talked to someone on the other end of the line, possibly to the people that went out to stop the itsy bitsy spider, to stop Wrench.

“Yeah?” the anarchist answered.

“The office’s crowded.”

“Really?” Ray nodded, even though Wrench could not see it. “Well, get them out, then.”

“How?”

He heard the anarchist scoff on the other end of the line. “There’s electric steam pipes and electronic adapters around the room, use those. These people are simple workmen, not soldiers. A little boom-boom will get them out.”

Sitara stared intently at her phone, her frown only deepening the more she looked. “I can’t. Something’s blocking me.”

“Yeah, Josh will have to do it. Since my last visit they might have up their security, but it’s nothing our badass satellite can’t handle.”

Ray heard tapping, then a silent curse. The cat and the cow looked at each other, both frowning at their ‘supporters’. They sure took their time when time was something they lacked at the moment.

The quickening heartbeat never slowed the more time Josh and Wrench consumed, and his palms and forehead only grew ever sweatier. Something turned in his stomach again, and Ray simply couldn’t sit there anymore.

Agitated, he said, “Can someone do something before we turn to moss?”

Wrench sighed. “Here, take the spider. I’ll do the boom-boom.” It was probably directed at the awkward hacker.

The old man had to close his eyes at his tightening chest. The more they waited the more wrong this whole operation felt. Was it his nerves or was it the possible trap? He hoped for the first. He really needed something good in all this bad.

He jumped almost three feet at the muffled explosion in the other room. It was a small one, not enough to cause damage to the building, but enough for the office hens to scream and scramble out like headless chickens.

“You guys might wanna hide.” Said the robotic voice.

The cat and the cow rose from their crouching position, ready to scram as well, but the headless chickens beat them to it. They ran past the criminals, too scared and too focused on getting the fuck out of there to even notice the two lawbreakers. Ray and Sitara stood stock-still and watched as person after person ran past them as if they didn’t exist. Both held their breaths, and Ray's heart pounded harder than he stomped.

It wasn’t until the last office hen had crossed the bridge that they could breathe again. They both muttered their thanks to the anarchist, and onwards they went.

Finding the keycard and the elevator was a piece of cake. The rest should be too. Even though the twisting of his stomach never ceased as they descended downwards. Even though his heart pounded in his tightened chest. Even though something in the back of his mind screamed to stop; screamed ‘no’.

The rest should be fine.

Once the door opened, Ray was met with a large room of electronic boxes, keeping file after file of cases that the FBI had taken upon themselves to solve. They stood like pearls on a string, all lined up perfectly to one another like soldiers. There were many of them, maybe a hundred. A lot of files, a lot of work – a lot of time.

Eh, Ray thought as he moved towards the computer built into the first row of archive boxes. S’not that big.
Where the FBI’s archives looked like a village, Blume’s looked like a city. He’d seen it with his own eyes.

He arched his back, only slumping his shoulders once the very audible crack echoed in his ears. The crouching had made his back stiff with pain and it screamed at him to sit his ass down somewhere and rest. He was definitely too old for this.

Either way, the old man cracked his fingers and began to work his magic. Sitara did as well on another row.

Row after row they looked and row after row there was nothing. An hour flew by like dust in the wind and Ray began to think that the feds barely had anything on the monthly robberies. His body had calmed down though. His palms no longer glazed with sweat and his heart beating calmly in his chest. Instead, his tired old self had started to show signs of sleepiness – heavy eyelids, sore eyes, and an unfocused mind.

Until he saw the familiar name on the screen. ‘The lunar robberies’ they had called it, most likely due to their monthly follow-ups.

“Got it,” he said and pushed the USB device into the monitor.

“Sweet, just tell me when you’re out and I’ll end playtime with the goons,” Wrench replied. He had probably taken control of the spider again after scaring off the office hens.

A calm walk in the park on an early Sunday morning could very well describe their escape from the HQ. No one bothered them on the way out, which did raise some goosebumps on the old man’s skin.

They exited the tall building fast and almost ran to the car once they saw the parked Audi across the street. Only when they had closed the doors to the old vehicle did he breathe again. The smirk on Sitara’s face told him he was the only one who was that nervous upon exiting the HQ.

“What?” the smug little woman asked. “Seen a ghost?”

Ray rolled his eyes. “You’re the one who got me all paranoid in the first place. Tch. This might be a trap. Couldn’t have not told me that?”

“I wanted you as alert as possible. Wouldn’t want someone to ambush us, after all.”

He shook his head, though he understood where she came from. Instead of acknowledging that, though, he started the rusted car and drove off. Longing for the couch in the hackerspace, and maybe a beer. This whole mission had fried his brain and whacked his senses. He felt spent; his back ached; his legs ached; his head ached. His eyelids still drooped with heaviness as he drove.

Sitara told Wrench they were out, and she too heaved a sigh of relief. She muttered a stretched, silent, ‘fuck’ and laid her head on the headrest and let her eyes drift close. It appeared, despite the former smugness, that the boss was excited for some rest too. Ray couldn’t help the twitch of the corner of his mouth.

It genuinely wasn’t a trap, even though everything within screamed that it was.

Shrieking tires rang in his ears, and Sitara screamed the old man’s name. He only got a glimpse of it, the other car, before it slammed into their Audi’s passenger side. The Audi got knocked to the wall of some building on the side street, the car that had T-boned them – ironically enough – still embedded into the right side if the car.

His heart hammered in his chest again. He grunted and tried to move his head towards Sitara, but the surroundings span and his blurry eyes saw little to nothing. A sharp sting in his arm had him curse everything.

“You alright, kid?” he asked. He tried to move his arms, but winced at the horrible pain. It was as if something had torn his flesh and muscles from his appendage.

“I’m alive,” she strained. “But fuck, it hurts.”

Muffled stomping on metal and car doors slamming shut echoed in his ears, and he understood it was time for him to move, to try and get them both out of there, but his head swam with every movement he made. His stomach churned and he felt like throwing up as the dizziness worsened.

The car groaned and Sitara’s door flew away from its previous position. Ray saw the silhouette of a person, who grabbed Sitara and tried to haul her out the car. She groaned and wince, but fought back all the same. Ray reached out as well, trying to get the person off her when his body jerked with electricity. His paralyzed body laid unmoving as he watched the blurry image of a man dragging away Sitara, hauling the woman into their van.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26: Coffee?

Smiling at Wrench’s enthusiasm and that something seemed to actually go their way for once, Josh rewarded the anarchist with a rare side-brofist. He did not believe that breaking into the FBI for a second time actually worked. Now it all depended on the data Ray and Sitara downloaded. Josh could only pray that it actually took them somewhere – that they hadn’t just been running on the spot the whole time.

It was nice seeing Wrench hopeful again, for he had been pessimistic about the whole situation thus far. Marcus’ abduction didn’t make it any better. But now, the happy carets decorated his mask like flowers on a wedding. Josh happily accepted the soda he gave to him and they toasted for actually succeeding – the anarchist drank beer, of course.

Yes, things would be fine now. The green-clad hacker even believed that the data had useful information. He believed that this would all come to an end. They would get Marcus back, they’d put an end to TH3 N1GHTM4R3 and they all could live happily as hackers for as long as they wished. Yes, Josh truly believed that this was it.

Hearing the slow mechanism of their entrance, Josh put down the can of soda and shuffled over to the stairs, where Wrench already waited excitedly. Even Josh’s own heart beat a little faster. He basically shook – he could not wait to finish this. It has been – by far – one of the most traumatic thing Josh had to sit through. Wrench’s torture never left his mind. Good thing the anarchist had forgotten his gory kidnapping, for he’d most likely be way more traumatized than Josh if he remembered.

Ray crashed through the door, coughing and grunting. He was bent over, cradling his hand and halting, barely able to stand up. A sinking feeling grew worse and worse the more he analyzed the old man’s battered body, and he felt goosebumps rise at the red that covered the man. There was blood everywhere.

Blood was a liquid Josh did not handle very well, maybe even more so than coffee and alcohol. He had had enough of it. Images of the torture flashed through his mind again – the peaking bone; the nails in his arms and hands; the knife in his shoulder and the wound on his head. It was too much. Way too much, far too much!

“Josh!” he heard the robotic voice. “Josh! Pull yourself the fuck together and get the first aid kit! Now!”

He looked up the stairs and saw Wrench leading the old, wounded man down. Ray cradled his arms, where the blood flowed the thickest. The liquid almost appeared black rather than red and he was fairly sure he saw a small chunk of flesh hanging from an open gash on the old man’s forearm.

Josh’s stomach churned and his face paled to a snow-white color. He felt like throwing up. He felt like freaking out. And he felt like backing down; to toss in the towel and call it quits. He did not sign up for that much blood – he just wanted to hack.

He did neither of those things, of course. Dedsec was more of a family than his actual relatives had ever been, and he would damn himself to hell if he let them bleed to death just cause he wasn’t fond of blood. So instead of throwing up, freaking out and backing down, Josh pulled himself together and took strained, small steps towards the first aid kit located in the far corner by the lounging area.

Wrench had laid Ray on the couch by the stairs by the time he delivered the kit to the anarchist, who did his best to stop the bleeding in the deep, long gash. Ray was pale and his face shone with sweat. He tried to speak, but his words died down in his grunts and moans of pain.

Frowning at the old man, Josh made his way to the stairs and looked up. Listened for the door’s mechanism; listened for footsteps approaching their hideout.
He heard none.
He made his way up and out of the hackerspace. He looked at the back of the shop; he looked in the shop and he looked up and down the streets outside the shop. He even went around the building, but he found nothing.

His heart skipped a beat and the sinking feeling returned. He felt this hopelessness devour his body. He did not find what he was looking for. 

Sitara was missing.

He sped back into the hackerspace as fast as he dared. He shuffled towards Ray. “Where’s Sitara?” he asked, his voice in a hurry; firm, yet somehow monotone at the same time.

“They took her.” Ray slurred, his eyes closed and panting heavily.

Silence filled the room as Josh only shook his head. They had Sitara too.

“Fuck!” he heard Wrench scream. The anarchist rose from his seated position on the floor where he leaned heavily on the couch in a tired fashion – probably exhausted after hurrying to patch the old man up. He paced back and forth between the lockers. “Fuck!” he punched a locker. He cursed again and again, each curse rendering a new hit on the metal.

Josh grabbed his arm and told him to stop. It was not helping.

“This is not helping!” Wrench said and pointed at himself, Josh and Ray. “We’re down to three people, one of which isn’t suited to fight and the other is crippled and the third is a wounded, old man! How the fuck are we supposed to do anything now?”

Wrench had a point. Their OP’s usually ended up in violence, no matter how sneaky or flawless one tried to be. They would need fighters, but neither of them were at the moment. They would have to rely solemnly on technology, but Josh didn’t know if they kept his friends at a place run by it. He didn’t even know where to start looking.

Ray sat up. “I still have the USB with the data from the FBI.” He held out the small device and displayed it to Wrench and him.

He exchanged a look with the anarchist, the spikey mask completely blank of any emoticon. Without another word, Josh stepped forward, snatched the USB, then shuffle his way to his computer. Wrench followed right on his tail.

He began working as soon as the data had downloaded. Wrench pointed a few things out that he thought seemed important, but nothing really was. The FBI knew nothing, hence the reason why they never caught the robbers. Shit, the robbers might not even be the same people.

Josh sighed heavily and covered his eyes with the palms of his hands. Everything was hopeless – there was no use in doing anything else. They had nothing on them, absolutely nothing. They had ran into a dead end. Their hands had been cut off.

“That’s it,” Wrench said. He got off Josh’s desk, which he sat upon, and marched on to the stairs. “I’m going.”

Josh felt a lump in his chest. He ran after Wrench, determined to stop him. He could not lose him, too. He could not let him go through another torture, he just couldn’t. He grabbed the anarchist’s hand and pulled him back.

“You-you can’t! The deadline isn’t until tomorrow.”

“Does it look like I give a shit? They want me, it’s not fair that Marcus and Sitara may get their asses beaten to Australia for something they’re not involved with. This is my shit, I’m going.” He pushed off Josh’s hand.

“No. No, no, no, you can’! Wrench-“

Ray pushed past him and limped up the stairs. He grabbed Wrench’s hand too, and pushed the anarchist down, making him stumble on Ray’s body, but he stood firmly halfway up the second step. He caught Wrench and applied pressure right under his neck. Wrench wiggled and struggle, telling Ray to let him the fuck go. After some time, though, Wrench’s body went limp and he did not move nor talk.

“What did you do?” Josh asked.

“I applied pressure to a pressure point in his neck, which caused the blood flow to stop and him to go unconscious,” Ray grunted and struggled to move the anarchist to the couch by the many TV’s. “Not deadly, but it could be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.” He dumped Wrench on the soft furniture and cradled his stitched arm. “An old flame thought it to me. She wanted to make sure that I’d live longer than a year after she went back to Asia. Sweet woman.”

He limped toward the couch by the stairs and laid down, letting out a big sigh and told Josh that he’d be offline for a while, trying to figure out what to do next.

The green-clad hacker nodded and turned back at Wrench. He had no idea how long Wrench would stay unconscious and Josh was sure that once he woke up, he’d try to make the ultimate sacrifice again. The anarchist had always said that that’s the way he wanted to go. Josh would not let it happen.

He walked over to Sitara’s locker, where he knew she kept a pair of handcuffs. Josh had no idea why, nor did he want to know – he had just accidentally observed them once. With them, he handcuffed the anarchist to the arm of the couch, being careful not to apply them too tightly.

Then he sat down and let the thinking begin.

What next?

 

********** 

 

Clanging of doors and screeching on metal and metal resonated around his cell. It wasn’t exactly cold and dark with that dripping of water as he thought it would be, but it wasn’t exactly paradise either. flies everywhere, and them moterfuckers filled the room with annoying ass bussing; the heat was enough to give him skin cancer, even though he didn’t so much as see a ray of sun; and spiders littered the corners like small, creepy ghosts. No, Marcus did not like it, but it wasn’t the worst that could happen.

For example, his kidnappers didn’t torture him.

Instead, they gave him coffee of his choosing. They gave him whatever food he wanted and they even gave him a comfortable bed.

The clanking got louder and louder until he saw a bunch of masked people dragging in a somewhat limp body. Not just any body, though. He could recognize those clothes from Australia.

“Shit, Sitara? That you?” he asked once the people had thrown her on the floor and locked them in the cell again.

“The one and only.” She grunted and sat up.

Marcus abandoned his coffee to help her up. He even gave away the one bed they had given him, to sleep on.  

“Fuck, sis. You look like shit.”

She did. Dried blood stuck to the skin on her face like a leech. Bruises colored her skin on her face, shoulder, and back, at least from what Marcus could see. He was sure there were many others hidden underneath her clothes. She had also a lot of cuts, some bigger than the other, but the worst ones had been sowed shut by their kidnappers.

“Thanks, I love a good compliment.”

Heavy footsteps stopped them from interacting any further. They heard it echo down the long hall to the right of their cell until another masked woman appeared on the other side of the iron bars that had kept him prisoner for about a day now. She held a kettle and a cup with puppies on them. Marcus had one with the cartoon version of Devon Von Devon.

She turned her head to visibly look at Sitara, and with a modulated voice, she asked, “Coffee?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 27: Error: friends not found.

A soft buzz rang in his ears. It played like a soft melody around him, engulfing him in a sense of familiarity. The electronic hum had the same effect as a mother humming her child to sleep – with it, Wrench knew he was safe without having to open his eyes. The choir of all their electric devices humming him softly awake and the foul smell of leftover pizza, coffee and beer were all he needed to know where he was.

The hackerspace. At least T-bone and Josh had kept him safe after Ray had rudely forced his entire being to sleep.

He stretched, his stiff bones letting out all sorts of pops everywhere – even places the punk did not know could give out such noises – and turned to the back of the couch could shield his sore eyes from the light of the TV screens.

Except his left hand jolted backward with a clang when he was halfway around. He tried again, but he could not. Each attempt only succeeding in getting another painful clang.

Furrowing his brows, Wrench opened his eyes. He turned his head from side to side, his eyes darting from left to right on the screen in his mask. He saw the many TV screens, his wooden sign above the Wrench bench. He saw familiar graffiti on Sitara’s corner of wicked art and upon turning his head further, he noticed the handcuff that cuffed him to the couch.

“What the fuck?” he muttered to himself. He looked around the room, but found it vacant. Not a soul was to be seen.

A sinking feeling settled in Wrench’s stomach. A tightness in his chest twisted his heart at the thought Wrench’s toxic mind brewed for him. He shook his head and tried his best to deny it.

They wouldn’t just abandon him there.

But Wrench’s mind spoke against him. They forced him to unconsciousness, cuffed him to the couch and left him for TH3 N1GTHM4R3 – for Jeff – to find.

Left him to die.

No. It sure seemed that way, but that wasn’t Josh’s way of doing things. T-bone’s neither. Though he had his disagreements with the both of them, Wrench knew – at least hoped – that there was another, more rational explanation as to why they had handcuffed him to the couch. Yes, surely there was one.

Before Wrench could do anything, though, let alone think rationally, he would have to get off the couch. He turned his gaze to his bench. He had a pair of bolt cutters underneath his workspace, but using the tool to free himself would be difficult, especially considering he had only one hand to go with.

No matter. Wrench would have to work out the details as he went. Who knew how much time he had left before Jeff caught up to him. Who would save his friends then?

He got up from the couch and dragged his makeshift bed-prison-thing over to The Wrench Bench. With awkward movements, he searched through the mixture of cardboard boxes, toolboxes and the ones made of wood. The chain clanged each time he tried to maneuver his left hand over to help looking through the tools and tinkeries. Also, the familiar scent of grease from his perused tools filled his senses.

The first box did not have it. Neither did the second, nor the third. It wasn’t until he had searched through the fourth one that he remembered that he had borrowed it to Josh for one of his projects.

With a deep sigh, Wrench turned a longing gaze upon Josh’s workstation on the other side of the room. The punk clenched his fists and took a deep breath. There was no reason for him to lose his shit, at least not yet. So, with a still mangled leg, a body that hadn’t had a bite to eat for a hella long time and a temper on the very edge of disaster, the anarchist dragged the couch he had been rudely handcuffed to, over to Josh’s workstation.

God. Where was everyone when you needed them.

Several minutes and a pathway of scraped concrete later, Wrench had finally made it to his wanted destination. And there, on the bench of many sized wrenches, sorted from big to small; screwdrivers sorted between Philips screwdriver’s and flathead screwdrivers; pliers neatly hung up on the wall and other tools and trinkets sorted in utter perfection, he saw the bolt cutter. It looked misplaced among the tidiness that was Josh’s workbench, which made it easy to spot.

However, how easy the tool was to spot did not further the anarchist’s frustration, but the resurfacing challenge of how he was going to rid himself of the handcuff when he only had one hand to spare, did. The chain that connected the cuffs was everything, but long enough for good usage of his trapped hand. Sturdy, shiny – and short.

Never had he been known as a man to easily give up though, even when a puzzle as challenging as that one appeared. He eyed both the large tool still situated on Josh’s bench, the couch and the cuffs as he tried to work his mind to a solution.

Picking up the tool with his free hand, Wrench sat down on the floor next to the couch. He used his feet to kick the couch away from him while he pulled the left hand towards himself. Though the cuff dug into his skin, it kept the chain nice and tight. With his other hand, he placed the beak of the tool on the chain and tried to use his chin to help squeeze the tool shut.

On the first try, the beak ended up slipping out of the anarchist’s weak grip.

On the second try, he somehow managed to cut his finger with the bolt cutter, luckily the appendage was still attached to his body.  

On the third try, the first try’s failure came back to haunt him, as well as on the fourth.

He threw the tool out of arms reach, calling the lifeless thing a stupid, worthless fuck. Why, oh why had the tool-people not invented a friendlier bolt cutter which a handcuffed man could use to free himself with.

After a couple of deep breaths, some more colorful riddles and murmuring, Wrench gingerly made his way to the place he threw the bolt cutter, forcing the couch to come along with him. With deep concentration, precised precision and a frown deeper than the oceans, the fifth try ended up successful.  

Getting up from the floor with a silent curse, Wrench rubbed his sore wrist the best he could with his new cuff-bracelet. It hurt, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle. No, what the punk found difficult this time was yet another challenge that needed yet another solution, but the lone man could only do so much. So, as he stood and soothed his bruised wrist, looking around at the vacant hackerspace, he listened to the voice in his head asking, “now what?”

Cause’ now what, indeed.

An eerie silence followed him as he jogged up the concrete stairs. A silence often found in apocalypse movie, where the protagonist is about to meet hell. Wrench moved warily out the hackerspace when the exit had opened. He looked left and right. Watched every pair of eyes that watched him as he walked out of Gary’s games and Glory. Though the store was blooming with nerds, it still held that same odd, eerie silence as the hackerspace did.

Everyone turned to look at the masked anarchist as he made his presence known from the back of the shop. He knew his appearance usually attracted many onlookers, but the regulars of Gary’s Games and Glory had stopped their gawking ages ago, now used to the special style that The Wrench wore on regular occasions.

About halfway to the exit, Wrench found his temper had been tested enough. They kept staring and they kept the silence and it was poking on his nerves like. Had their dads never taught them not to poke the bear with a stick?

Quickly and sort of graceful, Wrench turned to look at his onlookers, his mask showing his frustrated ‘`.´’. “Fucking what? Am I that sexy?”

Faster than Wrench had anticipated, the regulars picked up their figures and started playing their games again, or pretended to, at least. The silence still lingered, luckily no one openly gawked at him.

“fucking thought so.” He muttered as he turned around, just about done with everything. The staring and his temper that only grew closer and closer to the boiling point had distracted him from his previous ‘now what’.  He couldn’t think straight as his chest tightened with anger. It made his mind all fuzzy from the lack of oxygen.

One step away from the door, however, even though the anarchist was more than ready to get the hell out, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Upon turning around, he saw none other than Greg, Gary’s twin brother. Wrench never really liked Greg. He always looked annoyed at, not only with him but the rest of Dedsec as well. He wanted nothing more than to kick the hacker group out of the basement, but it simply wasn’t his call. The shop was named Gary’s Games and Glory, after all.

Wrench shook the hand off his shoulder, his stomach quenched with disgust. The stench of sweat molested his nose as Greg drew closer. The punk couldn’t help, but turn his head slightly so he wouldn’t have to look at his open pores and oily skin as he talked. Ugh, Wrench could swear the guy smelled like semen as if the other hadn’t bothered to take a shower after ejaculating to a female manga character getting molested by a tentacle monster.

“You think it’s okay to harass my customers like that, cyber-terrorist?”

Wrench rolled his eyes, took one step away from the disgusting human and said, “when they’re looking at me as if they're about to gangrape me, then yes, fuck face.” He turned to leave, but halted his steps. “Oh, and here’s a business tip from me to you; quit. No none wants to be your customer.”

Greg blocked the door and another wave of sweat and semen attacked his nostrils. This evil, high pitched laugh escaped his mouth, and Greg said, “I would be nicer if I were you. I may or may not have information on the whereabouts of little, Mr. awkward and his grandpa’. Not gonna tell you for free, though.”

Wrench crossed his arms in front of his chest. “What? You want me to suck your dick or something? Money? Spill it, dragon tits. I’m all ears.”

This time, Greg chuckled rather than laughing like a high-pitched maniac. “Oh, how much I’d love to make you pack your shit and get the fuck out of the basement, all of you, but it’s not my call. If I were Gary, I’d have thrown you out after the robotic spider episode. Nearly annihilated the whole god damn shop, and good people, too-“

To be fair, though, they did pay for that. All the hospital bills for all the people that got hurt; the damages caused in and outside the shop. They even replaced board games and limited-edition collectibles, whose prices were out of this world, mind you.

“-but that simply isn’t my call. So, what I want instead is ownership of this shop.”

“Ownership?” Wrench asked. Greg nodded.

“you’re a cyber-terrorist, a hacker. You can do it.”

Yeah, right. Wrench gave the man ownership and Dedsec would have to move within seconds. No way would Wrench do that. It was a shame, it really was. For once, the anarchist wanted to solve a bumpy ride civilized, but there was nothing that could be done.

So, instead of saying anything remotely polite, the anarchist grabbed Greg’s reeking throat and slammed the small body into a wall. His potato wannabe of a nose scrunched up in pain. “How about you tell me whatever the fuck you know, and I don’t drag you downstairs and smash that pathetic excuse of a face in with my sledgehammer.”

Wrench swore the other was about to shit his pants if the trembling was anything to go by. Greg nodded frantically. “ye-yes,” he said. “Absolutely. Someone grabbed them and took them away. Told me to tell you to call them.”

Wrench squeezed tighter. “Who’re they?”

“I don’t know, they wore masks!”

Wrench dropped the guy, wiped his palm on his pants to get away the cringe and walked out the shop. He clicked his tongue and murmured, “Couldn’t they just leave a sticky note.”

The fresh air filled his lungs the second his foot touched concrete. The anarchist sunk his shoulders slightly and stood unmoving for a moment, just to breathe. If he had been in that quiet shop any longer, the tension would have cut him in half. And though he still had goosebumps and almost jumped at the people who walked too close to him, at least nobody gawked at him like the freak he was.

Digging up his phone from his pant pocket, the punk found Josh’s contact and hit call. The phone beeped and beeped. Beeped and beeped. The street moved on, as busy as usual. Cars honked, engines roared and the police sirens echoed in the distant, for once not chasing the anarchist.

And the phone beeped and beeped.

People walked up and down the street. Some with their hands full of shopping bags; some with a leash in hand, attached to a crazed animal waiting to end humanity; some with their noses in their phones and some with nothing at all. They gave Wrench looks, of course they did, but the punk’s chest tightened up either way. It was a bad day to receive looks – the kind of day Wrench would usually spend inside to either wreak havoc or fix things, sometimes both. The stares rose goosebumps and churned his stomach like butter.

What if they worked for the bad guys? What if they spied on him from some gang? Maybe they’d take him before he managed to save his friends. Breathing became more difficult. He clutched the phone in his palm, which clammed up with sweat. He shuffled his legs, the urge to run at the tip of his feet. The deadline had long passed.
What if his friends had as well?

Voicemail.

Frustrated, the anarchist cursed. His hand shook, just about ready to throw the phone under a truck, but he resisted. There was still one more number he could call, and the old man better pick up the fucking phone.

He found Ray in his contacts, shown as ‘T-bone’, and pressed it a bit harder than necessary. The phone beeped and beeped. Beeped and beeped. the anarchist paced. Stomped back and forth in front of the shop. People stared. Cars honked. Sirens shrieked. His heart raced.

Wrench was just about to hang up and slam the phone into the ground with all the anger he could muster, when he heard ringing. The good, old, classic ringtone that Ray had on his phone. The anarchist turned towards the alley where the ringing came from. It rang and rang as his phone beeped and beeped, yet no one seemed to answer.

Removing his phone from his ears so he could hear the ringing better, Wrench made his way into the alley. There were almost no people there. Only some tourists taking picture of the fabulous artwork that stretched throughout the entire alley and a lovey-dovey couple holding hands in a giggle outburst.

Making his way onward one step at the time, the anarchist grasped his phone harder as it was about to slip from his sweaty palms. The phone had stopped ringing, leaving him in silence. He could hear the blood rushing in his ears, accompanied with the heavy sound of his very own heartbeat. The voicemail lady accompanied the stressful sounds, talking from the phone in his hand.

Wrench knew exactly what he was going to find at the end of that alley, but he just wasn’t ready for it. He couldn’t exactly call himself a stranger to being alone, but there was a certain difference between choosing to be alone and having no other choice.

And thus, though it came as no surprise, when he found T-bone’s abandoned phone on the sidewalk, his stomach both sank and churned at the same time. Jeff had taken everyone he knew. He had no one to turn to now, no one to help him get out the only people he would consider a family.

Sighing, Wrench sat down on the sidewalk and picked up Ray’s phone. He turned a longing gaze upon the thing, willing the device to tell him where his friends had gone. But as all lifeless objects, the phone did nothing, said nothing. The punk clutched the device in his hands after pocketing his own phone and placed his head on top of his clenched fists.

Think, think, think, Wrench. What the fuck was he going to do. He could ask other Dedsec hacker groups for help, but he didn’t want to drag them into his hell as he did to his friends, his family. Besides, where would he even begin to look for clues? Even if he did find a lead, how would he approach it?

Sure, he could run headfirst into whatever hole his friends were – he had done that many times before while accompanied by his beloved arms and weaponry – but his fingers were still pretty messed up. Though his hands had left the habit of shaking like a retired man, the punk was still unable to do something as simple as flipping the bird, no less pull triggers. After the small task of squeezing Greg’s throat, his knuckles felt sore, stiff. It hurt to grasp T-bone’s phone as tight as he did. Pulling a trigger several times would probably only make things worse.

Closing his eyes to distant himself from every distraction reality had to offer; the people; honking and engine roars, Wrench tried to think harder. But just like the lifeless device in his hands, the anarchist could do nothing.

Oh, how discouraging it felt to be helpless again.  

A shadow shaded the small amount of sun he could get in the small alley, and a pair of feet stepped into his line of sight. He heard stomping to his left and light footsteps to his right.

Wrench peered up to the owner of the shadow cast on him, and he clenched the phone tighter, further hurting his aching bones. Of all the people he thought would interrupt his somewhat peace, Lenni was the least of them.

“Fuck, you’re pathetic.” The bitch threw away the smoke between her fingers and stomped on it. “Didn’t even know you could sink lower than you already were.”

Wrench hoped his stare was enough to catch the twat on fire. “The fuck do you want?” he asked, not really threatened by her and her dogs’ present.

She smiled the ugliest and most sinister smile Wrench had ever seen. That smile alone could turn men into stone.

“I’m here to collect my 50 million dollar reward.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 28: Boyfriend located… it’s not a good thing

Though the cell wasn’t the smallest one out there, it sure seemed like it with four people cramped up inside of it. Sitara laid down on the bed and though the pain wasn’t as severe now as it used to be, she still had difficulty walking straight. Josh sat at the foot of her bed, seemingly calm. Ray sat in the corner, sipping the coffee their captors ‘kindly’ brought him. He was most likely waiting for the hospitable captors to act like the villains they were.

Marcus just paced. Six steps and he reached the old man’s corner. Six more the other way and he reached Sitara’s bed.

Each prisoner in the cell had their beverages. Sitara left her first cup of coffee half full, not able to keep the hot drink down. Josh had just started on his first glass of water, just as Ray had started in his first cup. Marcus, however, he was on his seventh cup of coffee.

Bouncing his leg when he sat, shifting on his legs when he stood and tapping his fingers when he laid, the hipster decided it would be best if he walked. The coffee almost made him vibrate and it most defiantly made his thoughts wander.

Wrench was alone in San Francisco. People from all corners of the city wanted his ass and he was handcuffed to a couch in the cellar of a shop that sold board games – at least according to the old man and Josh.

He had to get out. They had to get out. Only time would tell when the anarchist would do something stupid, such as giving himself in to free the others. That selfless act just screamed Wrench, cause’ in his mind, he was a pile of shit, while the rest of the team was a wonderous mountain of diamonds.

Oh, what could the hipster possibly do to change how that man saw himself?
As of that very moment, nothing. And so, the hipster paced; six steps to the left; six steps to the right.

Careful not to step on feet; careful not to trip on trash; careful not to spill his seventh cup of coffee; he paced and paced and paced.

“Keep walking like that and you might wear down the concrete.” Ray slurped on his coffee yet again.

Though he slowed his speed, Marcus never stopped moving. “Well, according to Captain America, we need to walk it off.”

Ray rose to his feet with a grunt. His slow movements accompanied by the pops of his joints. “Yeah, well, if I remember correctly,” he twisted his body this way and that, cracks echoing as a result. “That was if either of them got killed. One of them did get killed too if I’m not mistaken. Didn’t walk it off.”

“You’ve seen the movie?”

“Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you kid,” he patted the hipster’s shoulders. “but since I’m collaborating with a bunch of pop-cultured brats, I thought I might try to understand what all the fuzz is about, y’know.” He let go of Marcus’ shoulder and drank the rest of his beverage.

“I still have no idea, though.”

Marcus shook his head at the old man. By now, his pacing had ceased to a halt as he let a small smile creep onto his lips, despite the stressful situation. His head had stopped running wild as well, and he felt as if he could lower his shoulders ever so slightly. Ray had managed to get his mind off the sticky situation they had left in Gary’s Games and Glory.

Shaking with caffeine still, though, his body did not calm down as much as his mind did, and he shifted his feet as he stood. He assumed there was some truth to Sitara’s words when she said coffee was an anxiety potion. She followed that sentence by telling him to drink more tea. At that point, Marcus actually thought about it. If he hadn’t lived with Wrench – a walking sack skin, bones, and anxiety – he’d most definitely consider it.

He opened his mouth again, ready to lecture Ray that it was the other twin – Wanda Maximoff, or Scarlet Witch – who had to try and walk off the death of her dear twin brother, but the familiar sound of clanging and clanking and footsteps interrupted him. The large, rusted door at the end of the somewhat short hallway opened, and out came a masked gentleman or woman.

Josh rose from his seat, his forehead shone with a thin layer of sweat and he fondled with his fingers nervously. Ray quietly watched, as did Sitara once she had managed to sit up from on her bed.

A blizzard formed in the hipster’s eyes, and he turned the cold gaze to the villain who struggled at the door. They tried to drag something inside but faced great difficulty in doing so. Though the person covered most of whatever it was they struggled with, Marcus spotted a handle. Maybe it was the small table-cart-thing that bad guys put their torture devices on? Maybe it was a fancy way of introducing the weapon that would kill them? Whatever it was, it couldn’t be good.

The bad guy grunted and lifted the thing over the doorstep. It looked heavy, so maybe not the torture devices, unless it was an iron maiden or some shit. He cocked his head slightly when the bad guy rolled the cart closer, and Marcus furrowed his brow with confusion. Of all the things he imagined that they’d bring in, despite all the hospitable acts they had done, he would never in his wildest dreams have guessed that they’d bring a TV.

It looked relatively new with its flat screen and clean, modern look. Was probably infected with cTOS and privacy invaders too.

Josh, Ray, and Marcus watched just behind the bars as the masked villain plugged the power cord into the cable drum they dragged behind them along with the TV. Sitara observed from the bed, but remained just as curious as the other prisoners. None said a word and silence filled the cell, except Marcus who shifted his feet every now and then.

The masked person moved quick. Their hand shook and the power cord slipped in their fingers a lot before they managed to plug the thing in. it was the same story with the remote, but they finally managed to turn on the TV, which portrayed a nature scene.

Grey clouds hovered in the air like ashes after a volcanic eruption, and the branches on the pine trees in the background swayed with the slight breeze. A car pulled up. it was an ugly thing, colored with champagne and rust. Marcus recognized that car from an earlier incident. He knew exactly who it was.

Fists clenched along with teeth when none other than Jordi Chin stepped out of the poor excuse of a vehicle. He had a sniper rifle hung over his left shoulder, and that fancy suit he loved to wear. Did he never change? It was hella unsanitary to wear the same suit every day.

On the other side of the screen, another car pulled up. A black SUV, standard bad guy car. Marcus confirmed his suspicion when Jeff – TH3 N1GHTM4R3 – limped out, along with four of his goons.

He limped towards the Asian fixer, supporting himself on that cane of his. After a few words, Jordi retreated to the trunk of his car, opened it up and dragged out a limp body. A body whose torso was adorned with a studded vest. A body whose hands were covered in tattoos. A body whose face was spikey.

Marcus’ stomach drooped. His mouth hung slightly open and his hands fell limp beside him. His heart beat – dunk-dunk, dunk-dunk – faster and faster, and he couldn’t believe what he saw.

“No,” Marcus whispered to himself as he watched Jordi drag the limp body of his boyfriend to Jeff – TH3 N1GHTM4R3. “No, no, this can’t be happening!”

A hand patted his shoulder and squeezed it. Marcus turned to the owner and saw Ray’s defeated gaze. He said nothing, didn’t have to. That emotion – defeat – meant only that it was all over, that they had lost.

“Nah, man,” Marcus shook his head. “Nah. It’s a hoax. They want us to feel defeated to get an advantage or some shit.”

“Marcus…” Ray tried.

“I said Nah! This ain’t real!”

Marcus turned back to the TV where TH3 N1GHTM4R3 now held the hoax’s limp hand and studied the login tattoo there. The same exact tattoo Wrench had on that same exact spot. And all the other tattoos. And the arm that was slightly tanner than the rest of his slim body, because his arms were the only things exposed to the sun on a daily basis.

Then the man he had grown to despise over the last month – for torturing Wrench and bringing trouble to the gang; for touching Wrench while he slept; and for some shit he probably did in the mystery that is his boyfriend’s past – portrayed a huge suitcase filled with dollar bills. Most likely 50 million dollars.

It was real. That was Wrench. They had failed.

Marcus had failed.

He cursed loudly and kicked the bars as hard he could. He cursed again and again and again; pulled his hair; shook the bars. Josh and Sitara jumped from the loud noises and Ray watched idly as Marcus let out his frustration and disappointment. He had promised the anarchist that he wouldn’t let anything happen to him again.

He had failed.

Jeff’s goons dragged Wrench to the black SUV and threw him in the trunk. Jordi and the Freddy Kruger looking motherfucker shook hands, then they left.

And Marcus cursed. Again and again and again.

He had failed.

 

 

Silence filled the cage till the moon rose and moonshine replaced the ones of the sun. None slept, none talked and none drank their beverages anymore.

It had been hours since Jordi got his paycheck. The TV was gone, but so was everything else. The motivation, determination and hope all replaced by disappointment and defeat.

Marcus’ stomach never stopped hurting. A lump had grown like cancer, and it kept twisting with discomfort. his hands shook and his eyes stayed wide open. They had Wrench, they had Wrench, they had Wrench.

Images of the wounds his boyfriend had to suffer flashed in his mind like nightmares. The bruise on his neck; broken bones and peaking bones; nails tearing through flesh and hypothermia. If that scarred motherfucker dared hurt a single hair on the anarchist’s body, there’d be hell to pay. 

Oh, and when the hipster heard the clanging and clacking of the metal door at the end of the hallway, he bounced to his feet and rushed with heavy footsteps to the bars. He clutched the metal rods so hard his dark skin turned pale. His eyes burned with a raging fire, and his blood boiled along with it too. When whoever that poor asshole on the other side was stepped into the room, Marcus was going to tell him a riddle or two.

Everything inside him hesitated when he heard a familiar, distorted grunt, though. A shoe stepped through the ajar door. A shoe whose metallic spikes shone brightly in the moonlight. Then came the torso, which also gleamed in the silver lighting, and then a face – or rather a mask.

“Wrench?”

The happy carets gleamed at the previously angry hipster. “Hi, M! happy to see me?”

Marcus said nothing, just stared at the man in front of him as if he were a ghost. Who knew, maybe he was?

“You should shut your mouth, M, or flies could buzz in and lay eggs in your stomach, xenomorph style.”

Josh, Sitara, and Ray had risen from the floor at this point, also in awe of how the kidnapped man had de-kidnapped himself in the course of a few hours.

Finally, Marcus spoke, “what the fuck man? I just saw you getting your ass slung into the trunk of Freddy Krueger's car himself!”

Wrench goofed out a laugh and dug out keys from the back pockets of his jeans as he approached the cell. “Yeah, funny story. Jackie Chan saved me from a gangrape attempt from Lenny herself. Too bad he was there to collect the bounty too, though.” He opened the cell with a click and looked at the hipster. “but some arguing and ten bucks later, he agreed to help me help you get the fuck outta here, as long as he got his fifty million!”

Marcus leapt forward and pulled the anarchist in for a hug. He squeezed the slim frame and dug his head into the crook of his neck. The smell of motor oil and gunpowder was so familiar, so safe. He let the spikes on the vest and the mask stab him, just like they always would whenever they hugged. That, too, was familiar. That, too, was safe.

“I thought you were done for.”

“Don’t rub yourself against me too much or we might have another situation to deal with over here,” He pushed the Marcus off him slightly. “And you know I won’t stand down that easily. Who do you think I am? Timothy Upham?”

Ambling inside the cell, Marcus watched Wrench as Josh gave him a relieved hi and got himself patted on the shoulders; Ray told him that he never ceased to impress, even with the most stupid shit; and Sitara told him to just get them out of there, then they could celebrate what little idiotic bravery was left of the anarchist. The poor woman was still in pain.

“Yeah, how’re you gonna do that anyways?” Marcus asked while Wrench maneuvered everyone out of the prison cell.

Wrench snaked his hands under his new hoodie – same design as before, but with fewer stains – and presented the hidden dynamite to the group. “I brought boom-booms!” his enthusiastic voice played like music in Marcus’s ears, and he smiled.

When the dynamite was hooked up to the far wall of the cell and ready to go, the punk stepped out of the cell as well, and before clicking the detonation button, Wrench turned his head to the group. “This is gonna be loud, so cover your ears. Also, once that wall’s turned to dust, we gotta run. There’s no way they’re not waking up from this.”

Then Wrench pressed the button and the five of them ran.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29: A better world

Sitara sat down on a chair as soon as they had descended the stairs. She leaned heavily on the big table in the middle of the room and breathed heavily from the exhaustion she must have felt. The woman looked just about ready to shut her eyes and sleep for a long time.

Marcus did not blame her. They had to run for a while before they got to a car Jordi had help Wrench set up. during the last few meters Sitara needed support from Marcus to get to the vehicle.

Marcus looked at her, eyebrows knitted in worry. It felt weird to see the strong female so weak. It seemed the hipster would never be able get used to strong people getting beaten to the point they no longer can move. He stole a glance at Wrench, who stood near the top of the stairs still. He still saw images of his bloodied body after the torture. Such a strong and hard willed character beaten to something so small. Marcus failed to understand how someone could do something so cruel.

He clenched his fist and teeth. His hate for Jeff grew only stronger. He would show that motherfucker who he was messing with, but first, they needed a plan and a fully functional Sitara.

“Alright, Imma head out and see if I can find somewhere safe for us to crash. I assume tha hackerspace will be the first place that motherfucker looks.” Marcus pointed his thumb behind him, indicating he’d be leaving. “You guys should be getting some rest.” The others nodded their confirmation to him as he turned around.

He headed up the steps to where the anarchist gingerly lingered. His mask gave nothing away, the two X’s shone idly on the hipster’s face as he approached Wrench. Judging by how the other scratched his wrist and shifted on his feet, however, the X’s did not compliment his body language. Marcus wondered how he did that. Wrench had told him how the mask read his brainwaves and his facial expressions to get the most accurate emotion displayed on the LED screen. In order to shield whatever discomfort Wrench’s body language spoke of, he would have to shut out every emotion he felt, even change his brainwaves if that was even possible.

He patted the spiky shoulders, again not caring about the pain as it reminded him how Wrench was safe, how Wrench was home. “You okay man? You seem a little… twitchy.”

Wrench pulled Marcus’ glasses up with his index fingers. “Yeah, I’m fine.” He replied. When Marcus only gave him a look and nodded to his shifting feet, Wrench crossed his arms in front of his chest defensively. “Really, I’m fine, M.”

The hipster squeezed the spikey shoulder. “Sure you are. Is that why you’re up here alone and not down there with them?” Three dots on the LED screen and a downcast glance was all the hipster needed to confirm his suspicion. “We can talk about it when we’re alone.”

“Ooh, when we’re alone you say?” ‘~.^’

“To talk, dude.” Marcus smiled a little. The perverseness was always something he found funny and oddly charming about Wrench. Only he could make perverted jokes and still be charming about it, it was his superpower.  “It’s not all about the humpin’ y’know.”’

“Hm. Right. You actually see something in this,” he pointed to his masked face. “Good for you, M,” he patted Marcus’ chest.

“Wrench-“

The anarchist lifted his finger. “Let’s not start a scene here. I’m not in the mood. Besides, you have a secret lair to find for us,” He pushed Marcus lightly towards the top of the stairs and bowed dramatically, happy carets now smiling in his stead. “Todaloo motherfucker.”

Marcus smiled. “You could tag along with that, you know? Just the two of us?”

“Yeah, as fun as it sounds, I think I should, maybe… explain? To them… my situation…  and theirs for that matter. And I’ll, uh… I’ll talk to you during that alone time of ours, explain some things then.” Three dots appeared on his mask as he cast his gaze downwards.

Oh, So that’s why the jumpiness.

“So, toodaloo,” Wrench said and readied his hand for a sideway fist bump.

“Yeah, todaloo.” The hipster tried to hide his disappointment as he fist-bumped the anarchist. He moved up the stairs and as he waited for the exit to open, he cast one last, saddened glance at his boyfriend, who still hadn’t made a move to descend the stairs. Only when the door opened did he remove his gaze from Wrench to exit the room.  

Finding a safe place to stay sounded easy when he said it to the crew, but when he got into the escape car Wrench had set up for them, he had no idea where to start looking. There was also the possibility he was being watched by some of Jeff’s goons. At least there was no doubt Jeff was pissed. He gave away all the bounty money and Wrench had now escaped, the one man he wanted for all that money. Marcus had to find a place fast, but where was he supposed to look?

He bet if Wrench was with him, he’d come up with some good ideas.

He shook his head. Why did he act as if Wrench and him had broken up? Sure, he felt sad that the punk couldn’t join him on his mission, but he understood Wrench’s need to explain. The man probably felt guilty that both Ray and Sitara got hurt, and that the whole bunch, including Marcus himself, got kidnapped because of him, not that the hipster would ever blame Wrench for that. It was all Jeff.

Still, an uneasy feeling settled in the pit of his stomach. He wished so dearly that his talk with Josh, Sitara and Ray went well. Marcus had no idea what he’d say, though, as he too had no idea what the hell Wrench had been through and done to get Jeff that pissed.

Marcus sighed.

Realizing he’d never get anything done or found when he simply sat in the car and thought of Wrench, Marcus started the car and drove off. Maybe looking at places would get his mind going.

 

**********

 

Though he said he would talk to the others about the current situation, he still lingered at the top of the stairs after Marcus left. He really wanted to run away as the room felt more and more suffocating the more he waited, but he knew it was time he informed the others why Sitara and Ray were wounded and all of them kidnapped.

Pressuring himself to actually do it, though, deemed more difficult than he’d like to admit. He scratched at his wrist harder, drawing small droplets of blood from the old scars that reminded him that he had been tortured in a session his brain refused to remember.

Wrench sighed. If only his brain could forget his entire existence.

Swallowing the lump that kept forming in his throat didn’t help, closing his eyes did neither, but he did both in hope and prayer that he would eventually walk down those steps. His heart pumped faster at the mere thought of it.

Before he could go down anything, however, he would have to work out what he was supposed to say, but that meant he had to go back in time and remember just what he had done to anger Jeff ass much, and going so far back was not something he wanted. Tears swelled up in his eyes the farther back he went, and talking about it would surely push him over the edge. Crying in front of everyone was not something Wrench was too fond off either. He never cried, and he wouldn’t start now.

But he had to, he owed it to everyone, especially Sitara and Josh who had stayed by his side even when Horatio accused him of being a spy for the FBI or The Sons of Ragnarock.

Sucking in one last breath, Wrench trudged down the step, one foot at the time. Each step made him more anxious than the last, but he couldn’t delay this any longer. He never reached the bottom before he stopped. He figured if it all went south, he’d at least have a quick escape then.

He cleared his throat, but it was too low for everyone to hear. He figured he might as well take in the scenery, see if some of his dear friends seemed upset or agitated at the slightest. Sitara still sat at the big meeting table. She looked tired – exhausted in fact. Wrench had never seen her look so dirty in all his years in Dedsec with her tangled, messy braid and dirty clothes.

She was talking to Ray, trying to at least. He heavy eyelids tried to force her to go to sleep, but the stubborn woman refused. Ray leaned against the big meeting table near her. He had his arms crossed in front of his chest; his facial expression difficult to read. Not That Wrench was ever a good reader when it came to body languages and facial expressions in the first place.

If he bent his head low enough to see below the edge of the stair case-wall, he could see Josh. He was curled up on his chair by his desk – away from everyone – Wrench noted.

Maybe that day wasn’t the day after all. They’ve all been trough a lot and maybe him explaining his experience with Jeff would only make things worse. Then again, it could be the contrary. Reading the room was yet another reading skill Wrench could put on the ‘not good at’ list, as explaining to them why Jeff did what he did could also help lighten the mood a little, make them understand more.

Yeah, it could also make them part with Jeff.

No, he had to do it. If not for himself, then for them. Maybe they’d trust him more when he confessed his past. Then Wrench wouldn’t appear so secretive about it, which could only mean something wasn’t as bad as it appeared when he was so secretive about it.

Wrench clapped his hands together, which resulted in one, loud clap echoing through the hackerspace. He got everyone’s attention and his words died in his throat.

And to think now was the time he would reveal everything he tried so hard to keep a secret.

Wrench cleared his throat again. “So… I guess it’s about time I gave you guys an explanation?” He had not intended for it to sound like a question, but it just came out that way. It was as if he had no control of his words. Talking was like driving a car superfast on slippery ice – it was bound to end in a disaster.

“Yeah, I think it’s about damn time,” Ray answered bitterly, which earned him a look from Sitara.

“As you may have figured, me and Jeff have… uhm, been through some shit and…” his words once again refused to leave his throat. The lump had grown too big again and he refused to talk when he heard how shaky his voice was. He tried to swallow, see if that could make it better, but it did little to help.

“It’s okay, Wrench. You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to.” Sitara tried to smile at him, but it was an exhausted thing.

“The hell he don’t! We wouldn’t be in this mess if it wasn’t for him. We got, ironically enough, T-boned ‘cause someone wanted him! You could’ve been killed, Sitara.”

Another lump settle in the bottom of Wrench’s stomach at Ray’s words. He did feel guilty about that. And to some extent, the old geezer was right.

“I don’t think we should focus on whose fault it is. If we did that, you wouldn’t be here,” Josh spoke from his spot in the back. “Because, if you think about it, Blume was your fault, Ray. Our main focus should be on how to get out of this situation.”

“Oh, I know how to get out.” Ray eyed Wrench with squinted eyes, anger gleamed in the brown color of his usual calming gaze.

Wrench knew exactly what he meant.

Something in the anarchist snapped. His anxiety was at it’s peak, and his defense mechanism strode in. The last drop had dripped. “You just love doing that, don’t you? First Wrench JR. now me?” he clicked his tongue and turned around to leave, but stopped in his tracks. “And for the record, I did try to give myself up after they T-boned the shit out of you and Sitara, but some old fuck wouldn’t let me.”

“Wrench-“ Sitara tried.

“No!” Wrench yelled, already marching up the steps.

“Wrench!” Josh gave it a shot when Sitara failed.

“Shut up!”

With quick steps he walked out of the hackerspace, waiting a few awkward seconds at the exit, and left the building. He found a random car parked by the street and drove off. Hi heart hammered and his hands shook on the steering wheels. Tears trickled down his face behind his mask.

Were they really that quick to just give him away?

 

**********

 

Marcus pulled over and scanned the area. The place appeared abandoned on first sight as he saw no figure standing guard by the structure. That was usually a good sign as bigger and badder groups often had some of those lurking around with their guns looking all scary and stuff.

Turning the engine off, Marcus left the car and approached the structure which would hopefully be good enough for them to stay in. No doubt it needed some loving, but with Sitara’s guidance, he was sure it wouldn’t be that bad.

It was an abandoned café, which had secretly been the lair for the group of corrupt FBI agents that liked to play hackers they took down before Wrench’s drama began.

The hipster hadn’t even entered the building, but could see the mess of furniture through the big windows of the shop. The place looked like it had been ravaged by a tornado. There were tags on the walls saying things such as ‘Logan Rulez’ in shitty graffiti. Tables and chairs lay broken on the floor, sharp splinters and nails peaking out from a little bit of everywhere and the closer he got the louder Marcus heard the heavy bass of rap music.

He turned his head to the right, where he saw several bikes scattered on the dirt beside the building. Marcus couldn’t help the sigh that escaped his lips. In his years living near a bad neighborhood, Marcus had learned a lot – one of which is that gang members and drug dealers usually didn’t go by bikes.

This place had most likely been occupied by edgy teenagers.

The cringe had already bubbled up in his stomach as he entered the building. He had to step over the mess those brats had made. Much like the Gary’s Games and Glory, he had to go all the way to the back of the shop to find the broken-down door that would lead to the secret basement. How original, he wondered where those FBI rats got that idea from.

Trying to ignore the loud music, Marcus headed downstairs, and though he knew he was right about what awaited him down there, his face still twisted in a cringe when he saw the gang of teenagers gathered around the radio and tried to rap along to the lyrics.

They all wore baggy clothes and flashed their nerf guns, which they had most likely spray painted black to look more realistic, as they nodded their heads to the beat. When their eyes met Marcus’ unamused ones, however, they quickly shut off the sound and approached the hipster.

“The fuck are you doin’ here?” some blonde kid swore. He looked like the leader of the ‘gang’. Logan maybe?

There were five of them, including Logan, and they all swore as they threw insults at Marcus, saying how they’d done his mother and how he was a fag.

Heh. Little did they know he actually was a fag to some extent.

A bright idea popped into his mind. He looked down at his attire. His bowtie and tucked in shirt seemed very un-hood-like, but with the right voice, maybe he’d be able to scare the little wannabe thugs off.

He got in the kid who had insulted his mother’s face and with the best ghetto accent he could muster, Marcus said, “The fuck you say about my mother?” The kid stiffened up, along with his friends. Marcus clicket his tongue. “Y’all tryna’ act like tough little hoodrats, huh? Maybe I should treat y’all as such then?” Marcus pulled out his gun - not the stun gun, but his emergency 9mm. He did not point it at anyone, but he let it hang by his side in his hands so the teenagers would be very aware if it. He was just going to scare them off after all.

“That’s not even real.” the blonde punk said.

“No?” Marcus lifted his eyebrows. The kids shook their heads, so he loaded the weapon and pointed it at the ceiling and pulled the trigger. The bang echoed in the room, and the children screamed.  Everyone scattered out the building – Logan before everyone else. Marcus followed them and watched with glee as they took their bikes and headed to their mommies in the direction of Silicon Valley.

They were rich, wannabe thugs, too. That was just the finishing touch.

He turned back to the run-down café; a smile adorned his features. Though it looked like a dump at the time, they could transform the place to something neat. They had done it to Lenni’s bunker, and they could do it to the FBI rats’ lair.

All he had to do before he told the crew he found a place was pick up a few brooms, some cleaning supplies and air mattresses from everyone to sleep in. Maybe some candles too.

Hopping into the car, Marcus turned the engine in again. With one last look at the building, he drove off to get the things he needed.

 

**********

 

Wrench sat on the top of the rooftop – his and Marcus’ secret place – his legs dangling off the edge. He pulled his mask up so the tears that rolled down his cheeks wouldn’t soak up the insides of his second face. The thing would smell forever if he let that happen.

He watched as each drop rolled off his cheeks and flew down, giving the anarchist an idea of just how far down it was. A fall that tall would surely kill a man – would surely kill him – and rid everyone of their suffering.

Wrench sighed. He hadn’t had such dark thoughts for a long time. He had almost forgotten just how heavy they were on the shoulders. His stomach had sunken with defeat, same as his heart. He let the tears roll freely, reminding of how weak he was. He hated crying, hated showing how weak he was, yet there he sat, looking down on an optional way for Dedsec to get some peace.

All kinds of memories flashed through his mind, but mostly those about Jeff and the leader. Leader hated crybabies and would beat the shit out of anyone who dared shed a tear because of emotions. Jeff would sit idly and watch as a gang of five to six people used Wrench as a punching bag. Then the fucker would pretend to be Wrench’s friend.

Wrench closed his eyes. None of that mattered and it seemed none of that justified Wrench’s harsh actions towards the two-faced asshole. He lit up a cigarette while he stared down to the pavement far below him, to an eventual death. Might as well enjoy a cancer stick while he fantasized of a better world.

One without him in it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30: Given up, but not really…

The asphalt appeared pretty bland from the heights, and Wrench wondered if his mutilated corpse would do anything to help decorate the grey. Some red might help spark the vastness of it. An abstract painting of blood to create the illusion of roses maybe? A field of red; the color of love. Maybe it would even look like an explosion; fireworks and chaos illustrated by an anarchist dead body. A poetic end to an abomination.

Nah, who was he kidding. His body did not look good anywhere, mutilated or not.

The weather was in the same mood as him, dropping fresh droplets of water to accompany his salty ones. People flashed through his mind. Monsters and non-monsters alike; memories worth living for, and memories worth dying for.

His whole life had been one, huge reason to yeet himself off the rooftop, but his recent life had not. Josh, Sitara, and Horatio helped him move on from his traumatic past when he first joined Dedsec all those years ago. How many was it again? three years? Four, five? Honestly, Wrench had forgotten. Time flew fast when he was having fun.

And that’s exactly what it had been. Fun. And when Marcus joined the group, it even became intimate. Feelings Wrench dreaded and loved at the same time rose from the pit of his pitch-black heart. The hipster’s charismatic nature had him quickly falling for him, though it could also be annoying at times as it reminded Wrench of his lack of charisma. That didn’t matter when he was with Marcus, though, because Wrench could, at long last, feel happy with someone.

If it hadn’t been for the return of his childhood caretaker, Jeff, Wrench would actually be kind of happy, in a way. His past would always haunt him, sure, but maybe with Marcus, it would haunt him less.

Jeff did show up, though. Jeff kidnapped his friends because of Wrench. Jeff put them through hell because of Wrench and now they had to move – all because of Wrench.

Well, no fucking more.

“Enjoying the view?”

Thought the rough and familiar voice came as no surprise, Wrench still tensed when it reached his ears. It might have been the wrong person, what would Wrench do then? But the clack of a cane and the slow, zombie-like shuffle of feet assured him that it was not.

The man eventually sat down next to the anarchist.  

“It’s rude to ignore people who’re talking to you,” the voice was rough, unnaturally so. It was as If the man had smoked for a decade, or had developed a serious case of throat cancer. “back in the days it would have earned you quite the beating.”

Wrench sneered. “As if you have any rights to lecture me about fucking politeness.” he kept his gaze low, still judging the vast, greyness of the pavement floor below. Maybe some color would make it spark after all.

A huffed, silent laugh. “It’s time to go, J,” He stood back on his feet. “Oh, and for your information, Wrench, you’re surrounded.”

Only then did Wrench lift his gaze to look at the guns and pistols behind him. Six of them to be exact, all aimed at him. It also wasn’t until then that he turned his eyes to the belonging man of the unnatural rough voice.

Jeff.

Now Wrench had two options. He hesitated. He could get up and go with Jeff as he had planned, but he could also go with the possible poetic way out. Only problem with the poetic way was: what would happen then? To Marcus? To Josh and Sitara, to Dedsec? Would Jeff leave them alone or would he take his revenge on them? The anarchist had no idea and there was no chance in hell he would gamble on their lives like that.

So that left only one option.  

Sighing, Wrench turned back to the city and took in the view one last time. Who knew, he might never come back from whatever was going to happen to him.

He rose to his feet with no haste. The numb feeling in his body confused him for he had not given up, yet it felt like ha had. He crossed his arms in front of his chest as he turned to face his onlookers; the half-circle of guns and pistols and the man himself. Jeff.

His face was, simply put, a pain to look at. Wrench felt some sort of regret twisting its way into his guts for what he had done to the man, but to be fair: he was supposed to die.

Jeff smiled a broken ugly thing. The red, wrinkling flesh contrasted with the white, shiny teeth that showed through the crack of his lips.  “I’m surprised. I thought you’d jump off the building before I could even speak another word.”

Wrench sneered again. “Despite popular beliefs, I’m not completely, fucking retarded.”

Jeff hummed. Goosebumps rose on his skin when those foul, malicious eyes trimmed up and down the anarchist’s body. They were not the same goosebumps that would rise when Marcus did the same.

“Sorry. That outfit had me confused.”

“Since when did Wade Wilson join the fashion police?”

A smile again, and a simple nod of his head was Jeff’s response. Two men holstered their pistols and approached the anarchist; one barehanded, the other with a zip tie. They pulled him forward, away from the ledge of the roof so the zip-tie-man could circle around him and tie his hands together behind his back.

Wrench clenched his jaws tightly. He wanted to resist, to fight back, but that would get him nowhere. A suppressed groan escaped his lips when he felt sharp pain stinging his wrists. The plastic cuff sawed into his skin with every twist and turn and would eventually tear through his flesh. Wrench would have to keep his hands very still if he wanted to minimalize the damage. With one more yank at the zip-tie, the man behind him deemed Wrench secured and manhandled him towards the stairs.

Though the anarchist had in theory given up when he just handled himself to the bad guys on a sliver plate like that, Wrench refused to let it show. He kept his head high, which was easy with the fact that they didn’t take his mask. His straight back and elegant walk taunted those who caught him. Much like Jeff, Wrench, too, was a trickster.

When the anarchist and his escorts passed the caned man, Wrench said, “We grew up in the same gang.” His escorts halted, and Wrench grabbed the opportunity. He faced Jeff, happy carets mocking him. “You remember that, right?”

The gesture only lasted for a second. A flicker of light, like water to fire. It was there, then it wasn’t, but a second was all it took, for Wrench caught it. His lips twitched in satisfaction when Jeff ordered his goons to take him away, for he too recognized his own mistakes.

The squint of an eye; the doubt of control. Wrench had won.