Engage 4.04

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The constance of the bay breeze cycled through weather patterns with a rapidity that belied it’s dreary reputation, as evidenced by the fresh slap of sunlight across Kid’s face as he stumbled to a stop just outside the door, eyes flinched shut in response to the dazzling glare of the morning sun reflected in hundreds of windows down the long street with only the slightest interference from the scant puffs of cloud left from the previous night’s pervasive canopy.

Sunglasses. Idiot.

We could just duck back in a grab a pair. We are right here.

And I think I saw some pretty sweet shades by the other cash station.

No way.

Um. Why?

Can you imagine being able to grab sunglasses without talking to him again? Or what that conversation would be like after how we left.

Questions.

Probably ones we don’t really want to answer. Good call. There’s internet nearby, isn’t there?

Yup. Just over at the corner.

Away from the cursed orb of blinding ferocity.

Hah. We’ll get sunglasses soon.

Kid cracked open his eyes and hooked a sharp right, passing beneath the missile mounted on the side of the surplus store, rounded the corner to slip into the alley. He cut across a half-full parking lot and held his breath as he slipped past the alley dumpster. He scanned the empty alley before hopping a window sill then up the fire escape, climbing the three short flights on the way to the roof. In this part of the city, a four story height offered a clear view of the closest few blocks, and afforded the bonus of being within reachable distance of the public access wifi from the street level bar.

Kid pulled out his phone, squeezing to power the device to life, and then searching through the available access nodes to find one that was unsecured and connecting his device to the technosocial space. A few taps and swipes brought the message utility to the forefront, and Kid selected the only name in his contact list.

3:52p Kid: need to talk. will be online for a while.

Kid slipped his phone back into a pocket and commenced unbuckling to wiggle out of his new bag. He dropped to squat on his heels in the corner, flipping the bag in front of him and pulling out his purchases. He laid each item out on the ground before him in a row according to size: rope, filtration tube, knife, range finder, first aid, repair kit, the handful of clotting sponges, fire starter, and weather blanket; gloves and cap set off to the side. After sitting back to look over each of them for a brief moment, Kid picked them up one at a time, unwrapping each, tearing through plastic and thin cardboard, dumping the discarded dressing over a shoulder.

I bet this is what Christmas feels like.

That is ridiculous. We don’t even know what Christmas is.

What? We’ve seen pictures. On store windows and stuff? All the pictures of Christmas show kids unwrapping stuff.

In winter. Surrounded by family.

And it’s summer. And well.

Right. Um. Thanks for that. I was just enjoying the unwrapping but now I’ll go back to feeling sorry for ourself.

Nah, I’m sorry. Fuck it. It is Christmas. Even if it is summer.

And we bought everything for ourself.

Bah. Let’s just put the stuff into our neat bag.

Kid tugged the bag over to rest next to his knee, pulling the smaller front pocket and the larger main pocket all the way open. Peering into the main pocket Kid saw a mesh net lining covering the back of the bag, in front of the quilted padding separating the main compartment from the water pouch. He flipped the bag over, finding another zipper along the side of the bag where it would rest against the back of his ribcage.

Huh.

That’s just handy.

Um. Really?

Why? I mean apart from being another little pocket.

Well, I think this is a little pocket that we can reach without having to take off the bag.

Huh. Ok.

Also, since we don’t have a lot of stuff, it will keep the things we put in the large pocket from bouncing around.

With the duffle we just tossed everything in together.

The duffle only had one pocket.

Right. Now we have options.

Got it. So, ah. What do we want to put where?

Right. Well, what do we think we would be ok having to flip the bag around to grab. Or, what would we think we will use mostly when not roof-running?

Weather blanket.

Perfect. Probably the repair kits, too.

Kid grabbed the repair and first aid kits, each a compartmented box crammed with specialized supplies. He opened the kits, looking at each set of bandages, gauze rolls, antiseptic, and needle, and each thread and patch, then placing each back into the compact containers with careful precision. Kid examined the various slots, pouches, and elastic loops in the front pocket of his bag. The weather blanket slipped into one of the slim slots, the two small boxes fitting into the pair of pouches.

The fire starter and water filter are probably in the same category.

But what if we want to burn or melt things while hanging around.

It doesn’t really work like that. It makes sparks, not fire.

Oh. Got it.

The fire stick could fit into the loops in the front, but the filter is too long for the smaller pocket.

There are stretchy loops on the padding behind the mesh, too.

Cool. That’ll work.

We could put the range finder in one of the loops behind the mesh, too. We definitely want to keep that handy.

Kid slid the flame and hydration tools into the elastic embrace holding them in place. After securing the rangefinder he shoved the gloves and cap into the mesh pocket around it, then added the clotting sponges. Kid grabbed the tactical pen, and his face scrunched a bit in the middle as he looked from the pen to his bag, and back. He tried to flip the pen around his finger the way Twitch had only to send it spinning across the roof.

Twitch really made that look easy.

We’ll practice. I kinda want to keep the pen as accessible as possible.

So maybe in the mesh?

I was even thinking about our pants pocket.

Why not in the bag?

Well, if we need the handcuff key, I don’t imagine we will have access to the bag.

Hah. Good call.

Kid crawled over to retrieve the pen, stood, and tucked into the hip pocket unoccupied by his phone. Turning, he looked down at the only item left unassigned.

Um, thoughts on the rope?

Yeah. My thought is: why did we get a rope that doesn’t fit in the bag?

Because it was the best rope there?

IT DOESN’T FIT IN THE BAG.

That is, ah, why I was asking for thoughts…

Can we cut it into smaller pieces?

Do we want to cut it?

How long a rope do we need?

I thought the whole point was to plan for worse case scenarios?

Yeah?

Well, having a long rope when you need a short one is never worse than needing a long one when you have a short one.

Does that make sense?

Yeah. We don’t cut it.

Yet. I mean, we can always cut it later. We can’t un-cut it.

Yeah, ok. Good call.

Can we make it smaller?

Huh?

Like, unravel it and wrap it up again, but, um, tighter?

Maybe…

Hey, what if we wore it?

Um. Can we, well…

Yeah, no, I’m with the whiner. How do you wear a rope?

Wrap it around our body? Under our clothes, maybe?

That might be a great fucking idea.

Wait, really? Like, better than a good idea?

Yes, idiot.

Don’t be mean.

Gah, sorry, I’m just saying, it’s a real tight braid, right?

Yeah?

And real smooth, while still, well, grippy?

Uhhuh.

Well if we lay them all tight up against each other, maybe even two or three layers deep…

Wait, you mean, armor?

Kinda, right? I mean maybe not a bullet, but be pretty tough to slice with a knife, maybe?

Worst case scenarios. I like it.

Kid whipped off his shirt, shivering as the slight breeze brushed across his exposed nipples, unwrapping the rope and shaking out the coils, holding them loose in a loop in one hand and pressing the end up his ribs with the other hand. He tried to wrap the coiled bunch around his body, but when he reached to grab the coil the pressed end fell free toward the roof.

After trying a second time to the same result, Kid stopped, looked at the rope end for a moment, then tucked it up under the arm holding the rest of the rope, and pressing the end tight against his ribs. Then he passed the coiled bunch around his waist once, and twice, and one more time, then shimmy-shoving to press the coiling lines tight together.

Wrapping and bunching, he made his way up his chest, tucking the pinched end into the lower coils. When he reached his armpits he crossed the loops back and forth across each shoulder before working back down, stopping to open his shorts, dropping them a few inches to wrap over his hips, then back up. A second layer of tight coils fell into the little rolling indentions left by the first layer, fitting together like the little plastic blocks that formed a Needle in his cave.

Pausing after finishing the second layer, Kid swiveled his shoulders, leaning deep to each side, and forward, then back, taking a few deep breaths, while holding the coils as tight as was comfortable and still mobile, and holding that tension, began laying down the third layer. With a small bunch still remaining after the third layer, Kid spaced a few coils out to move the placement up to his chest, adding the rest of the wraps over the middle chest.

Because of the heart?

Kinda. Also, it’s the least bendy part, so more coils will be less annoying there.

Works.

As Kid was tucking the end into the gap under his armpit his phone buzzed at him. Kid pulled his shirt back on. It still hung loose over his added bulk.

Benefit of the starvation diet!

You aren’t funny.

And we aren’t starving.

You guys suck.

Kid felt the vibration from his hip and reached down to grab his phone, flicking it to life.

4:34p Twitch: libry@6

4:37p Kid: Word.

Kid smiled as he returned the phone in his pocket, grabbing his bag and slipping the straps to sit firm on his roped shoulders, adjusting the length of the straps to account for his new girth. He bounced back and forth on the roof, and then slapped a flat hand against his chest and his stomach.

We feel more solid.

I like it.

Still pretty noticeable, though. We should swing back to the cave and grab a sweater or something.

Nice. We have enough time, should still be able to meet Twitch.

Kid descended the fire escape, sliding along ladder rails, shoving off to flip around through the landings, dropping to the cobbles. He darted around the corner, down the block, whipping a glance over his shoulder to look for observers, and then sliding through a familiar window, and another, into the underground, running back to the cave. Not once did he have to adjust the bag, or switch how he was carrying it.

Ok, I think I love our bag.

I love our armor. We didn’t even feel the rocks and stuff we were sliding over.

Does that mean it can be like Christmas? I kinda feel like one of those happy kids.

Damn right. Happy Christmas, boys.

Now we just need to figure out how or what we are going to explain to Twitch.

Stop ruining the holiday.

Kid pushed open the door to the cave, warm, jar-filtered poollight bathing the area in rippling iridescence. Hands rose to unclasp the buckles securing the bag across Kid’s midsection as the boy crossed to the desk against the far wall. The new bag slipped from his shoulders and he deposited it on the chair sitting askew before the desk. Kid pulled the wad of remaining cash from a back pocket and paused, holding the folded bulk of bills above the aged desktop.

Ah, hold up.

What is it?

Well, I was thinking.

Imagine my surprise.

Stop it. What’s good Fuzz?

So we want to get sunglasses, right?

Yes!

Well, we can steal them, sure, but we could buy some if we want to take some cash with us. I mean, it seems kinda like the rope situation, right? Better to have money on us and not end it than to need it and not have it?

So we should carry a grip of cash everywhere?

Well, that’s what got me thinking. I mean, the guys know that Big gave us some money, but not a lot, so it might be weird if we start flashing cash.

Especially if we do it while trying to convince them that someone else made off with the loot from the deal. Good call.

But that also probably means we don’t want to take all our sweet gear to the hangout, cause that stuff cost way more than the cash Big gave us.

But we can wear the armor, right?

Sure, with a hoodie they probably won’t even notice. Should we take the blade?

Definitely.

Kid peeled a few bills from the bundle, shoving them back into his jeans while dropping the rest onto the desk. He took a quick look around, scanning the scattered articles of clothing, grabbed a sweater and wiggled into it. Kid turned back to the bag, and worked the knife sheath free from the hip-belt. He balanced it in his palm a moment, then turned to rummage through the chest against the wall, emerging with a cloth belt.

Weaving the belt through the loops in his pants, Kid stopped three quarters of the way around his waist to string the sheath onto the belt, facing the inside to tuck the blade into his pantleg. Kid finished belting and wrapped the long tail of the belt around itself, pushing the loose end through one of the belt loops. Pulling his sweater over the handle, Kid ran a hand down his chest, fingers rippling over the buried coils. With a deep breath and a lingering look at his bag, Kid left to meet Twitch at the library.

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