“Woah, shit, watch where you’re going,” Stiles snapped at the dude on the frankenstein clipcycle that nearly ran him down. Regret set in half a second later when the ‘cycle flipped around and headed back in his direction. The alleyway was otherwise deserted, the 'cycle so dark a red as to be almost invisible in the garbage-scented shadows. Black-painted stripes marched down the guys’s face at a diagonal, dashed lines of varying widths that would scramble even the most advanced facial recognition software, and he looked like he didn’t give a fuck about the floating spycam that snip-clipped his picture from the alley entrance and whirred like it was pissed it couldn’t get his id.
Stiles held up his hands, palms out. “Fuck, man, sorry. I don’t want any trouble."
The guy looked him deliberately up and down, taking his time. He glowered long and hard at Stile’s shatterlink glasses and the raised lump of his trackerchip on the side of his bicep. His expression eased, though when he caught sight of the bright red under-revo patch on his backpack. "You an under-revo groupie?” The guy asked, face hard and judgey, but slightly less hard and judgey than it had been when he’d decided to take offense.
“Yeah, man, I’m a groupie. Oh baby, talk anti-establishment guerrilla warfare at me. God, so hot.” Stiles snorted. “Groupie. What the fuck are you even talking about?”
He threw a glance over his shoulder toward the spycam still making pissy bleeps. It had id’d him for sure. This was a bad conversation to be having with a face- and chip-less dude in a dark alley.
He jogged one leg in place to burn off some of his nerves. “Not that it’s any of your fucking business, but I’m not wearing the patch 'cause it’s cool, man.”
The distinctive sound of a opening switchblade sounded from the alley walls and Stiles whipped back around to find the guy with - lo and fucking behold - a goddamned switchblade. The metal caught the light and Stiles backed away in a hurry. “I don’t want any trouble.”
“How 'bout I save your life?” The guy asked.
Stiles’s brain shorted. His eyes flicked to the knife and back to the guy’s painted face. “What?"
"You think the Corps who own that spycam out there will let you graduate still wearing that patch? Uni-sanctioned rebellion is one thing, but if you sound like you mean it-” The guy made a very unpleasant noise and a very suggestive gesture with the knife. “How serious are you?"
"Mambo clown on laughing gas,” Stiles replied automatically, his thoughts racing. “How serious are you?"
"Give me your arm and we’ll find out."
Stiles took one last look over his shoulder at the spycam. It had gone blue, a bad sign, and hundreds of the nastier floaters were probably already converging on this spot with guns. If he was going to be honest with himself - and he was always honest with himself - the hot guy with the knife and the life on the run with under-revo freaks sounded a hell of a lot better than a floater interrogation and another spoiled episode of 'Dog Cops’. His uni friends were dicks anyways.
All except the ones who’d dropped out and disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Stepping forward, he held out his arm. "I’m going to bleed all over you.”
The guy pressed the knife onto his skin beneath the id lump on Stiles’s arm. “In that case, let’s pretend this isn’t a one night stand.” Very white teeth flashed in the dim alleyway. “Derek."
"Stiles.” The knife parted his skin without resistance. Blood trickled down his arm and onto the pavement. All he could manage to say was, “Sharp.”
Derek flicked the id chip off his knife and stepped on it. The crunch prompted the spybot to start its sirens.
The wail reverberated down the alley. Stiles clapped his hands to his ears. “Fuck. Someone didn’t like that."
"Hop on.” Derek wiped his knifeblade on his pantleg and stashed it. “Now."
"Bossy.” Stiles said. His shatterlink glasses displayed a dozen angry messages across the lenses and he shut them down. He’d have to take them offgrid at some point if he wanted to keep them. He’d also have to hack into his accounts and steal his own money from the system, erase his digital history from the municipal id databases, and figure out some way to let his dad know he wasn’t dead without giving away his location.
He really hadn’t thought this through.
The clipcyle revved, the coil in the front wheel sending forks of blue lightning to ground on every dumpster and exposed rebar within ten feet. Stiles grinned and snaked his arms around Derek’s waist. The rear wheel of the clipcycle bounced from the pavement in a splash of garbage juice and they took off in the direction Derek had originally been headed.
“One question,” Stiles shouted over the wind as they sped to very clearly way over the speed limit for dark alleys. Derek grunted his acknowledgement and Stiles continued, “You going to paint my face?”
Stiles had to strain to hear Derek’s reply, but damn if it wasn’t husky and low and probably illegal all by itself.
There may of been the barest, tiniest hint of a smile of his voice, too, though admittedly that was probably just Stiles and his wishful thinking.
Still, Derek had said, “I’ll paint you myself.”