Oliver finished the discussion with her dad, a wide grin on her face as elation bubbled up inside her. Tucking away her cellphone she followed the boy through the fence and bushes. Arriving on the other side, a street, Oliver glanced around her self, double checking the boy’s claim.
After affirming it was indeed clear, she looked at the boy with her signature smile- a sharp boyish grin. She stuck her hand out to the boy, looking at him expectantly.
“M’name’s Oliver by the way. S’pleaure to make yer official acquaintance.”
He grinned back at her and shook her hand, “mine’s Carlos, Carlos Altsoba and yeah, it’s really is nice to meet you.”
With a laugh he raced down the streets with her. He had a new friend and things were finally going good for his family. It really was nice.
“I faked an appointment.” She said with a grin. After adjusting her hat she held up a hand, motioning for him to take the lead.
“Lead the way. I’ma text someone real quick.” She said.
Pulling out her cellphone she slid the qwerty pad out and began rapidly texting a discussion with her dad.
He led the way through the trees to the back of the park. He knew of a hole near the lock-down building that would let them right through the fence. Amelia had brought him here during the night a few days before he was officially registered into the system to check out the layout. They found ways for him to get in or out and even places to hide in case of emergencies.
He could hear the girl clicking away at her cell and wished he had one. But mom was still mad at him for taking apart the last cell she had and banned him from owning one. “Hey. We’re here,” he pulled up more of the fencing from the ground to make room for them and their school supplies. He slipped under the fence and wiggled through the bushes and out to the other side where street was. He peeked his head around the bush to check to make sure everything was clear.
“We’re good. Lets explore!”
“hm… Not any in particular.” She said looking up to the boy. Having finished eating herself, she looked down and began packing away her things, deactivating her powers unnoticed. Woot woot, judging by the thread and his tone, he was either with some neutrals- who really weren’t as neutral as they said they were, not in this city- or he was getting aid from the city heroes. She could work with this.
“Just wonderin’ if it was safe to reveal anotha Meta-child.” She added innocently. Zipping her bag up she stood and patted down her pants.
“What!? You know another kid meta? Swiper, that’s great! Can I meet them? I never really met another meta kid before, they keep so hidden from everyone.” His excitement died as he said the last bit, yeah they did keep hidden. He’d probably wouldn’t get to meet them then. He nudged his the toe of his shoes into the ground in slight disappointment.
“Anyway, yeah it should be safe.” He glanced down at his watch and blinked at what time it was, “Um….we missed third period and fourth is already starting. I think it be safe if I just skip the rest of the day. What about you?”
Glancing over to the boy, she took in his new features with a lazy face, grinning slightly.
“Go ahead and turn it back on. Still a bit close to bein’ out in the public here.” She said.
Stretching her arms over her head, hand still clasping the invisible thread, she sighed and relaxed again. Picking up the rest of her lunch she began finishing off her meal.
“Look, are they at least like, not super villains or somethin’?”
He coughed up the water he was drinking and sputter out, “O-of course not! Mom absolutely hates being involved with bad guys, especially if they’re metas. Says they give bad names and examples to the younger ones like me”. He flicked at the button on his watch and sighed when he saw his scales disappear with a loud beep.
He gave his scraps to Scabbers the Rat as he stood up and patted all the dirt off his pants. He figure it be a good idea to try to switch to conversation to her now. “Why you so worried anyway?” His grin grew as his now hidden tail poked her in the side, “don’t got some super buddies I should be worried about right?”
Oliver shook her head and rubbed her face, pinching the bridge of her nose thoughtfully with her eyes squeezed shut. Yeah, she could just let it go. No one would know but the two of them. And it wasn’t like she was particularly righteous anyways. She met the boy by stealing his watch right off his wrist for petes sake. She really wasn’t any kind of good Samaritan.
The whole situation still bugged her though. Frankly speaking, meta-children were always at risk of not only being exposed, but of being stolen away too. There were always people out there that wanted a piece of that power. He had said something about strong people helping him and his mom out? Were they really good guys? Even if they were actually bad people, the blonde would probably defend them if she asked.
But she needed to know.
Eyes still shut she activated her power, idly noting how she lucked out with such a subtle ability. Dropping the hand from her face she grasped an invisible thread connecting her and the boy, letting her hand fall to rest on her lap. Leaning back she sighed, eyes now dilated under closed lids.
“Answer me truthfully. Those guys that helped you and yer ma. What kind of folks are they?”
Her dad was already punishing her with extra work. She wasn’t going to suffer it for nothing. Not if she could help it.
Carlos scratched nervously at the scales appearing at his arms. This stress was causing his body to shift into a more defensive body-type. Why did she have to bring up those people? He didn’t want to give away much about them, since they did help them out so much already. He figured they were good, mom had talked highly of them even if she did complain about long night shifts often. She was even able to be around others like them, though she still held back a lot when it came to socializing. He was pretty sure most of them didn’t even have a clue that he was her son.
“They’re good people,they help a lot of people in need. Like mom got caught between a rock and a hard place when someone find out about me.” That was a lie no one knew about him except close family, ” and they got mom out of it. They found out about the homeless situation and me and set us up with some connections. Got me in school and got mom some steady job, and then mom did the rest. She was able to get me this watch by contacting some old acquaintance of hers and getting an slightly older model for a deal. Even got her a second job to get us moving along more”.
He fiddle with his watch again, debating if he should turn it back on to hide his slightly newer form or not, as he waited for her. He hoped that his answer would be good enough, he didn’t want more trouble add on to his family. He was starting to wish he just had run when he had the chance.
“Ah’ve seen weirder.” And scarier.
Oliver frowned. She was definitely feeling bad now. Eating sedately she tried to think up a possible solution. Dora and his mom here, finally had something going right for them. It sucked that it got all messed up like this.
“What if I hand you hard cash? Would’ya be able to sneak it to yer mom without her noticin’?” There had to a be a solution here. One that didn’t require her getting involved, because inevitable, if she was involved, so was her dad.
She suppressed a grimace. Definitely did not want to involve her dad.
She could always just not give him any money. But if the dude was on hard times, it just wasn’t right not to give it to him. Especially since she kind of ‘robbed’ him. A hi-tech watch capable of holographic camouflage for everyday use was expensive ok.
Carlos’ tilted his head and stared at the pale girls comment. She had seen metas weirder than him? Not all that surprising, considering he visited the MetaRing a few times in the past with his mom. He was tempted to ask if she ever been, but decided to keep quiet about it till he knew more about her. His tail twitched at the idea of her suggestion of giving him money, her idea wouldn’t work.
“Can’t. It’s near impossible to sneak money past mom. She keeps track of all of it to make sure we don’t lose any. It’s cause she is dead set on finishing the renovations soon, so we don’t have to live so far downtown.” He grabbed his tail and patted the dirt off of it as he tried to think of a solution.
“We could just keep quiet about it and that be that. Mom be to hard to sneak by, heck she probably doesn’t believe the lie I told her about the watch. But we should be good, she hasn’t talked about leaving and she would pass it by me first.” He took a deep breath and smiled meekly at Swiper his voice sounding a bit hopeful, “so lets not worry about it. I shouldn’t be dragged out of here any time soon by mom, so no biggie”.
She hummed thoughtfully as she release his wrist. Splitting some of her meal onto one of the lids of the Tupperware she handed it over to the boy, forcing it into his lap. She also gave him an extra fork she packed.
“Hm… I guess she would be mad you got teethed.” Oliver guessed. She really couldn’t relate to the boy. Here he was trying to straighten up his path, where as she was being exposed to more and more less moral things. Not that her dad was teaching her to grow up and be a conman. He just wanted to give her the skills to have options.
“But look, I get that you dun want to be stealin’ from folks, but this is different.” Shoving some pasta into her mouth she continued.
“See, I broke yer watch, so I’m payin’ fer the replacement. You break it you buy it type deal.” Taking a sip from her bottle of tea she handed her company an unopened bottle of water.
“I got to make up fer it.”
With a frown she looked at the boy beside her.
“Or is this about you bein’ exposed too?”
He placed the bottle beside and fed some of his food to his rat. She was right, it was mostly about him being exposed. If his mom found out, she would pack up everything and have them leave. He didn’t want that to happen not when they finally had so much.
“Yeah…Mom would have us leave the city and everything. She might not mind if it was another meta, but your normal. She’s going to flip” He fiddle with his watch again and it beeped at him, his disguise falling away. “Can’t blame her. You are probably the first to not freak out. I mean, most scream when they see a boy with a rat tail or got scales covering him.” He cracked a lopsided grin, “kinda wish I had better control sometimes. It really is funny watching how some people react”.
His tail swished in the air as he leaned forward a bit, “So what’s up with not freaking out anyway, Swiper?” His grin grew a bit at her and he leaned back and began eating his food.
I love my Squirt.<3
Blinking in surprise she grabbed his arm before he could run off, dragging him back to the ground.
“Wow hey, what- don’t make me sit on you.” She threatened. Hand still firmly grasping his wrist she frowned.
“Sit down, eat something, and talk to me.” She said firmly.
“Now why can’t you take it?”
His instinct to strike out with his tail was strong and he had to bite his lip to resist it. He didn’t want to hurt her and certainly not when she tried to be nice to him. His still hidden tail thumped on to the ground hard as he tried to figure out a way to explain without to much information given.
With a sigh he began telling her a little about him and his mom. “Mom raised the both of us on the streets since it was all we could really have. It wasn’t safe to take me to any place that was public cause my powers were too unstable and my form changed too much to be safe. I use to wonder why she took me in when I made it difficult for her. But yeah, she’d con people out of food and money, and when I was older she taught me the how-to too.” He looked away at that and picked at some of the food she had handed him. He wasn’t ashamed of stealing, he even liked causing the trouble, but it was uncomfortable talking to people about it. “Skip to recently, we got helped out by some really strong people who helped us get settled here. When mom got a job, we promised each other we wouldn’t take money and only work for it. She might meant stealing, but I rather not take any at all.”
His claws on his free hand had dug into the ground and his tail had worn the ground where it had been swishing about. He could still feel the grip from the other kid around his wrist. “Swiper. I need that hand.” He poked her side and tried to smile, but his worry showed through.
Oliver frowned as she leaned downed to grab her bottle of tea. Picking it up she looked at the boy contemplatively, wondering how much she should share about herself. Just because she knew his secret, didn’t mean she had to go spilling her own.
She only recently started wearing ink on her, rather then having it sealed up in various pens and bottles on her person. She was skilled enough to prevent the ink from bleeding and dying things, but obviously not enough to hide the feint scent from smart noses. She wondered if her dad had the same problem. Probably not. He likely had some cheat she had to figure out before he taught her it.
“I live near an ink factory.” she answered, tone lacking in sincerity as she smiled flippantly at the blonde boy. Waving her bottle around vaguely she turned back to the tree.
“Want some food?” she asked over her shoulder. “Y’know, to make up fer stealin’ yer watch. And breaking it.”
Sitting down under the tree she smiled mischievously. Pulling out a small white envelope from her pocket, previously with sticky seals on it, she waved it at him between her fingers. In a teasing voice she added,
“I’ve also got somethin’ good to give ya bro.”
Carlos blinked at that. There was an ink factory in this city, well he was never going there for sure. There was no way he make it out of there with a nose intact. His stomach grumbled at the mention of food and sat down near her. He fiddle with his watch out of habit as Scabbers climbed back down from wherever he was to join in.
“Thanks. My mom was angry about that. I mean the watch, not you. She doesn’t even know about you- well you stealing it or the well yeah…” He gestured with his hands and gave up trying to explain. His eye lite up at the envelope and he stared at it with pure curiosity. He took the envelope and opened it up. There was a coupons for lasertag and paintball, whatever those were, and place them back inside. There was another paper and when he saw what it was he stuffed in back in the envelope and tossed it back to the girl.
“I really can’t take that. I got to go.” He moved to stand up and head back to the school building.