Vik’s Garage wasn’t big, by mechanic standards. Two bays and a small shop, with storage enough in the back for parts found in either common makes and models of vehicles, or the regular crowd, mostly antiques collectors. Some of these people had been coming to Vik for more than a decade, and those kinds of drivers rarely changed their ways.
Vik’s was located on the border between Elliott and West End – the actual neighborhood, not the whole area. Vikram Jindal had a rotating staff of five mechanics who worked different shifts depending on their schedules. He wasn’t afraid to get his own hands dirty, either, and there were a handful of the older customers who didn’t let anyone but Vik get under their cars. Their loyalty was a testament to his ability.
But there were others who wanted a rush job, or who had a deadline, and Vik refused to do rush jobs himself. That’s where his employees, like Todd Fowler, came into play. Todd wasn’t the most reliable of the guys by any means when it came to a regular schedule, but he made up for it by being willing to work after or even before hours. He was up all hours of the day and night anyway – he might as well make it up to Vik by coming back when he had to leave early, or getting here before anyone else.
At any given time, there was usually at least one car in the bays overnight, if not one in each bay for the next day’s work. Today was a two-car day. At four in the morning, Todd was pretty sure he wouldn’t be bothered by any customers as he opened up and got started on the Subaru Legacy Outback he was supposed to be replacing the heating unit for, now that the part was in; the other car was a pickup, he was pretty sure one of those old F-150s, that was waiting for a part.
Duran Duran played very softly over his radio as he parked his Malibu in the lot, the engine cutting through the predawn quiet outside before he cut it. He turned off his headlights, stretched a little, and then sighed before getting out of the car. He’d managed a nap after his shift yesterday, but it wasn’t going to be enough after a long night of chasing more dead ends in the Vasquez case. He needed to rest, but he hoped that turning a wrench a few times would help him clear his head.
He stepped out of the car, and walked up toward the front doors of the garage shop – and paused.
At first, he didn’t understand why he paused. Something was off, sure, and the first thing he did was glance around to see if he was being watched. No, it wasn’t that. A moment later, he pinpointed it. Most of the men who came into the shop smelled like Axe and cigarettes, among other things.
The tea was different, though. He wrinkled his nose, and let himself take several normal breaths to make sure he smelled it. He did, and also got the sense that the cigarettes were newer than yesterday, although the body spray smell was muted, like it belonged to someone who lived with someone who used it.
Without really thinking, Todd moved in quiet steps toward the shop door. The path he’d crossed went away, but it didn’t affect him unless it had to do with something wrong inside the shop. He unlocked the door – with care, however. He didn’t want to startle anyone inside, just in case they were armed. Even if they didn’t smell like metal or gunpowder, pocketknives rarely carried a smell outward.
There was no bell on the door. It didn’t do anyone any good, since most of the time they were out in the garage. The glass door therefore slipped open in silence, and Todd stepped inside with the careful, furtive step of a hunter. He wasn’t even two steps in when he caught the scent of tea, slightly stronger, and caught sight of the window on the far side of the lobby that had been pried open. From here, he thought he might hear sounds coming from the garage bays, but that could’ve been his mind supplying something into the silence.
He stopped where he was, going entirely still as he took in the situation. He looked to the door from the shop to the bays, which it looked like had also been opened with a little more conviction than the old thing deserved. Finally, he let himself begin to tense, eyes on that door. He really didn't want to deal with this tonight, but he’d learned a long time ago to just deal with the hand he was given in the moment, and curse at fate later.
His voice didn’t shake or threaten, but it did carry, as he called, “Hello? Who’s there?”
Mary hummed quietly beneath the old Ford F-150 in Vik's garage. This wasn't exactly a shop Mary frequented, well, no shop was a shop Mary 'frequented.' Not only would it be unfair to the owners, often small-timers, but too many thefts in a short amount of time could result in increased police presence or the shop closing- or both.
So, after forcing open the back window with a crowbar, Mary crawled her way into the garage with a sawzaw and a crescent wrench. She hoped she could twist the bolts off and cause less damage to the vehicle but, if that wasn't possible, cutting always worked. Her goal was the catalytic converter. The cat in this older model Ford would go for at least $600 if it was in good condition, and $400 if it was crappy. At least, it would go for that much if it was an original part.
Sighing, she realized, to her dismay, it was not original. Aftermarket parts were worth so much less, she'd be lucky for $150 out of this one. It wasn't too bad, Ford F-150s had two catalytic converters. So even if both were aftermarket, that was still a bit of cash. Mary already had the second old one off and was just starting to pull herself out from under the truck when a voice caused her to freeze.
"Hello? Who's there?"
'Who's there? What the fuck?!' Mary thought,'Who the fuck comes to work at four AM?!' Mary knew she was fairly late for the 'work' she was attempting, but still, she cased this place for the last week! There was one guy who stayed really late once or twice, but she made sure he left before she came. It was with increasing horror that she realized he must also come in early when he didn't stay late. 'What the fuck he's so inconsistent, he should be fired!'
Slowly, roughly, and loudly, Mary dragged herself out from under the F-150 with the catalytic converters. Catching a glimpse of the guy from where he stood at the door to the bay from the shop, Mary decided to try and talk her way out of this. She didn't want to hurt some mechanic with a shop, plus he wasn't a bad face to look at. Cute guys were a fuckin' rarity enough as it was, be a shame to ruin his nose. "Heeeheheeey buddy, what's goin' on? Listen, oof, I ain't gonna bullshit ya, I'm takin' this. Don't stress it, just straight pipe the fucker. They- emissions- they only do a visual inspection on the gas cap anyway, ya know? So I'ma head out, don't wait up!"
And, at that, Mary was finally able to stand up with both converters and slung them over her shoulders.
Todd had stalked into the doorway and was leaning against the frame, casual-like. He’d dropped the bag with his work uniform back in the shop, since he usually changed before he got here and when he left. Vik’s uniforms were long-sleeved, but they didn’t layer the same way as his usual clothes, so his unusually thin build showed loud and clear. In his own clothes, he could at least pull off lanky over malnourished.
The garage only had three exits: the two big doors, and the shop entrance, where Todd stood. The door in the back led to the showers and parts storage, neither of which had a door out. Unless she pried open one of the big bay doors – which were still locked from the outside – she’d have to go through him to leave.
A glance at her in the dark indicated she probably wasn’t armed. But she was also carrying two heavy chunks of metal that would either slow her down, or full on stop him, if she was willing to risk leaving a body. He really wasn’t sure if that was the case.
She looked young, not a kid, necessarily, but at least a few years younger than he was. She had that black-on-black getup that belonged to thieves and goths. She was definitely one, but could be both for all he knew. She wasn’t even dressed to hide her identity, a large tattoo clearly visible on one arm.
No mechanic worth his salt was going to “straight pipe the fucker”. Todd wasn’t exactly on thin ice with Vik, who’d let him have the odd schedule, and he’d spent the last two weeks proving his worth. He wasn’t going to throw it away by letting a kid get out of here with a couple of converters. It was bad enough he’d probably have to wait on the Subaru’s heading system just to put them back in.
That and, well, Todd had this pesky moral code that insisted everything happen in a balance. Not an exchange, not a cost. But a balance. That balance insisted he do the right thing whenever he could to make up for the bad stuff. So on the one hand, he didn’t want to hurt the kid, even if it looked like he could knock her over with a stiff breeze. On the other hand, he couldn’t let her go.
So, if she wanted to talk, he’d start with talking.
“Yeah, sorry, miss. I can’t let you do that.” Todd smiled politely at her in the dark, without any teeth. “If you put those down, you can go quietly. I won’t breathe a word to anyone.”
It seemed unlikely, given the circumstances, but he had to say it out loud. Just so that the offer was out there. Vik’s security footage would catch a grainy shadow of the interaction, it being like a billion years old, but he definitely wanted to show that they took some time before punches or converters got thrown.
Mary ignored the guy at first, opening the back door to- showers. Fuck. That meant there wasn’t a back entrance, so the only way out was through the big doors or through this guy. Or- well the window was definitively off limits. There was no way she was fitting her body and those cats out there…
Sighing, Mary set the cats down and pulled out her crowbar. She didn’t brandish it like a weapon, rather, she kinda swung around as a distraction. Any normal person would think that was her main means of defending herself. They’d be wrong. Lazily swinging the crowbar about, Mary tried to reason with the guy.
“First off buddy, I ain’t no miss. I mean for fuck’s sake ain’t you older than me? Ya def’ dress like it. Second off- where’d you get off? This ain’t your shop. Vik’s got insurance, if anything I’m givin’ ya more quiet hours on the clock ‘fixin’ this old bitch. Third, and final, you don’t got a clue who you’s mess in’ with.”
Even in the dark, the energy that crackled in Mary’s hand could be faintly seen. But more than seen, it could be heard. Like a half dozen whispering voices played over a track of sparking electrical wires. Mary had been attempting a new spell lately and wasn’t sure how powerful it was, but she didn’t wanna kill this guy. Hell, she really didn’t wanna fight him at all, but if he didn’t give her a choice-
“How’s about you step out the way and we both pretend we ain’t seen each other?”
Todd let her wander around. Telling her she was cornered was not going to convince her, so he let her see for herself, keeping watch from the open shop door. He didn’t need this, this morning. Any morning, but he was tired, running on almost a full day without rest. The car was supposed to help him wind down and then he could go home early and get some rest.
But alas, he wasn’t the kind of person to just leave this alone.
She came back, and started to play on his preexisting doubts and excuses. If she’d started with that, he would’ve seriously considered it. But she’d given him time to talk himself out of his own doubts; there wasn’t any room for external influence now.
“Well, I’m going to get those extra hours in either way. I’m not asking you to put them back, just down.”
He watched the crowbar, eyes lingering on the smooth movements. In the almost true dark, however, he made out those faint sparks at the base of it – the pops of light were almost impossible to miss. There was a whispering sound, like the radio turned down too low through heavy static. There was a smell, too, heavy in the air and…unfortunately familiar. Human meat burning. Not cooking – burning, like it was drenched in gasoline, except there wasn’t any gasoline in the smell. Todd’s nose wrinkled by just a fraction, probably imperceptible in the dark. The narrowing of his eyes was hard to miss, though.
Another fucking meta. What was he, a magnet or something?
He pushed the irritation aside as a distraction. The show was fancy, but he knew a threat display. His muscles tightened, the predator in him waiting, coiled and ready. Even without his weapons he could do some damage in close quarters like this. Not like he intended to hurt her – maybe rough her up a little bit, or better yet, scare her off.
When he spoke again, he didn’t lose the polite overtone despite the cold that rolled underneath every word. “You don’t have a clue what you’re messing with, miss – sorry, I didn’t catch a name.” He gave her space to share, his smile parting to show teeth. Human teeth that hid what exactly he could do with them. “Put the converters down, and I won’t call the police, or worse. That’s my final offer.”
He sounded reasonable, quiet and calm. Cool and collected. Not at all like a spring pressed all the way down, ready to jump up and do any damage it could given an excuse. But maybe, if she could see his eyes in the dark, she’d see him for what he was through the mask of civilization.
There was a moment of quiet tension between the two after the garage worker made his threat. Mary weighed the threat made in her direction against the body and size of the man before her. She knew she could drop him, probably instantly, but two nagging voices argued in the back of her head. Like an angel and devil on her shoulder, one said there was something off about this guy, and the other argued that now was as good a time as any to get blooded.
Contemplation over, Mary made her choice. With a sigh and shaking of her hand, the magic, sound, and smell disappeared. When she spoke, she sounded annoyed an defeated, "I've already put 'em down, can't you's see? It ain't that dark." Then, with a tinge of anger, "Serious what the fuck is with every fucker in this town? Is everyone ready to get gat at the drop of a hat for someone else's shit? First corporate shill vigilantees, now underpaid insomniac employees?"
At that, Mary started walking directly toward Todd. It wasn't in a manner of looking for a fight, her shoulders were relaxed, the magic disappeared, and her crowbar hooked through the handle of her sawzaw to make them both easier to carry. "Again, ain't no miss. Just Mary. Cmon, you costin' me some good money here, you owe me fuckin' breakfast." She would make to step past Todd then, headed toward the guy's car. Mary fully intended to get food out of this interaction.
It had been a stupid statement, in retrospect – but it’d been less coplike than “ma’am please put down the weapon,” which was his alternative. She didn’t have the converters on her. There was nowhere to hide them, with her clothes. The magic died out, she put the crowbar away, and Todd gave himself an extra moment or two before willing his tensed shoulders to relax while she had her outburst. It wasn’t his place to talk about every fucker in Pittsburgh, just one. After a moment, he leaned back and stepped out of the doorway.
If this situation cost him ten bucks for breakfast, and not his whole job, then so be it.
“I don’t even know what’s open yet.” McDonald’s wasn’t until five. There was a donut shop closer to where he lived, but he wasn’t driving that far with Mary in the car. Being in close quarters with someone like her was… bad for someone’s health. “There’s a Stop’n’Rob a few blocks down, we could walk.”
He waited for her to pass him before strolling behind her, and locked the front doors behind them as he followed. If she had suggestions, he’d be open to them, but he wasn’t about to unlock his car before he didn’t have that many options.
Mary looked back at Todd after he locked the door and gave him a half-hearted smile. She put on a fake southern accent and responded, "Weeell bless your heart, you's don't know nothin' do ya~" Before laughing at her own joke and adding, "Bitch this early we goin' to waffle house. Cmon, there's one a few blocks in the opposite direction. Fuck Stop'n'Rob I'm not aboutta get jumped."
She beckoned Todd to follow and started walking. She flicked her fingers toward the ground as she did so, the smell of rotten leaves and dead insects paired with the crackling dissipation of energy. Some of her force hadn't fully left her hands from before and she needed to discharge it safely. It wouldn't do to have a surge of wild magic at this time. Although why she got wild magic from a warlock pact with a demon, Mary still hadn't figured out.
Looking over at Todd, she pulled a half smoked cigarette out of her pocket and asked, "Got a light 'Mister-'?" Leaving the air open after her sarcasm for Todd to fill in his name as well. Then, regardless of his response to her first question, she asked, "Aight I know you's saw me do the weird shit. So either weird shit runs in you's family or, you's the weird shit. Which is it?"
He fished around in a pocket, and his hand emerged around a Zippo, an old lighter with the Taurus constellation on it, the bull traced so the design was clear. “Todd.”
He lit it and held it out for her, then pulled a smoke out of his own pocket and lit that, too, before the lighter disappeared again. He figured it wouldn’t hurt. He could already tell she was going to get on his already somewhat frayed nerves, might as well numb them while he could.
Then she decided on the personal questions, and he studied her through half-narrowed eyes, before shrugging and starting off in the direction she’d indicated.
“It’s me. Nothing quite that flashy. I can shapeshift.” That’s what he usually told people, if it ever came to light. Vik knew that he could change shape, and about the increased durability, strength, and senses, because Todd thought he needed to know. Mary here didn’t need to know all that. Shapeshifting was weird enough to satisfy curiosity.
"Todd..." Mary turned the word around in her mind as she accepted the light and drug what she could out of the cheap cig. Then, when Todd actually admitted to being a meta, she caught something between a cough and a laugh bursting out of her. Holding the cig pinched between three fingers as if it had more value than it should, Mary desperately tried to regain control of herself.
"That's not a thing you's -cough- shoulda told me-! Ya dunno a thing about me! I could be a cop, ya know." Then, at the cop comment, Mary made herself laugh again. Waving the lit cig about, she got the rest of the coughing out of her system and decided to get to know this guy a little better while they walked. Wasn't like anyone was up and about in this part of town at this time of morning anyway.
"Ok so, what can you's turn into? Like- other people? Or animals? Or like, mess up you's face a bit? Share some details buddy, considerin' I'll be comin' back to you's shop when you's ain't around if this conversation makes me wanna blast myself out onto the pavement- ha ha!" Self harming jokes, always a winner. Mary knew the right humor.
She took another drag of the cig, probably the last one she'd get out of it seeing its size.
“If you were a cop, you wouldn’t’ve been taking those converters. Not even an undercover guy goes that far.” He looked her over, then added, with a wry smile, “Besides, even if you were, I could kick you from here to twelfth street. You shouldn’t announce your intentions to someone who just caught you red-handed, bored to death or not.”
Todd kept his own cigarette between his teeth as he put his hands in his pockets. Now that he was resigned to the situation, some of the tension melted away, and he leaned into the conversation with the same casual ease he would with a customer, or – honestly more closely – one of the increasing number of vigilantes who’d started to pop up here and there, metahuman and otherwise.
“In reply to your question, Miss Mary, it’s mostly other people. It takes some intention for a face to stick, but once I’ve got it, I can borrow it, either the whole thing or any one feature. Usually I just use it for this – it’s a neat party trick.”
He decided to go for the money-green eyes he’d used before, to show Nat the same thing, and Vik, too.They were just different enough to prove a point without being distinctly recognizable, just memorable. He took another second, and then blinked, and his eyes shifted back to normal.
“So, tit-for-tat, what’s with the lightshow? Is it just there to spook unwanted guests, or does it do some damage?”
Mary laughed again at Todd's remark about kicking her about. Her laugh was something crossed between a giggle and a snort as she pulled it back and responded, "Yeah yeah, suuure buddy. Threats against my person are still suu-eble, suu-ible? Sue able? Hehehe, whatever!" Something about the threat of violence just absolutely tickled Mary in a way she didn't expect. But Todd was still talking, so Mary shut up to listen.
Mary watched the shift of Todd's eyes and clapped a little condescendingly in his direction, "Oh great and powerful Todd! I'll be sure to watch out for you's green eyes next time! Haha." Then she waved her hands and tossed her cigarette butt out into the street. As if she was clearing the air of smoke or something, though she had already run out of that a minute or two before.
Sniffing, she wiped her nose before smiling at Todd again and announcing her full, true name, "Why Todd, baby, it's so much more than that! You's got nooo idea~! Behold! I am Mary the Warlock! Beware my power- Spiritus Mortis-" At the uttering of magic words, Mary's hands glowed with a strange, black fire. It looked like danger and smelled nasty, like rotting garbage. She flicked her fingers out and the fire flew to the ground, then disappeared.
Sighing, Mary shrugged, "It's, well, I'm still figurin' out the words. I can feel the magic, ya know? But, it doesn't do what I want yet. I've only really got, meh, one spell that works. Don' wanna show that one, can't reeeally control the damage yet. But I'm gettin' better!" Scratching the back of her head, Mary stopped and grunted. Pulling her hand away, she had a tinge of blood on her fingertips. Groaning, she muttered, "Need better shampoo. Damn axe bodywash. Ain't doin' shit."
Looking back at Todd, she asked, "So what's with the late livin' Toddy? Surely you ain't up this early cause you like it."
Todd didn’t grin at Mary the Warlock’s patronizing tone, but he smiled around his cigarette and didn’t comment. She probably took her fair share, it was only right she be able to dish it back.
Besides, even if there was a scathing comment to be made, Todd was much more interested in the dimly lit black flames that smelled like a sewer – and, a second later, the faintest hint of blood. Mary’s blood.
If he’d been in a worse position, that would’ve been dangerous. He was good where he was now, and the little spark of excitement was quickly beaten down by the implications of what she said and how bad her scalp had to be for a little scratch to result in that.
“Suave,” he said, instead of any of the sarcasm or impression that might’ve come with her magic show or an immediate answer to her question. He wasn’t even really looking at her when she said it. “Three bucks at the dollar store after taxes. Shampoo twice a week, condition every day.”
Todd had spent enough of his life in the kind of “save every penny that you can” poverty that he’d learned a few tricks. The dollar store was a lifesaver, and he’d been lucky he’d found the right one, and not the one that claimed to be the dollar store but was actually just a cheaper walmart. He’d also noticed the way the other smells clung to her secondhand – the male bodyspray, other body odors associated with that which definitely didn’t fit the white-tea scented little warlock who he was now escorting to Waffle House.
Then, before she got the wrong idea and thought he was going soft, he switched back to her subject.
“Anyway. For me – my sleep schedule’s just fucked up. I’ve done a lot of traveling in the last few years, the kind where you learn to sleep when and how you can. The downside is a strict daytime schedule’s not good for me, so Vik and I have an agreement where I can come in early or stay late and take on any rush orders that have to be left overnight. It’s worked out for everybody so far.”
Mary was still flicking dried blood out of her fingernails as Todd gave his hair-care advice. It didn't sound too bad or, more importantly, too expensive. She'd need to try it at some point. Acknowledging his advice with a snort, she kept walking while he kept talking. He explained his fucked up sleep schedule and his fucked up agreement with Vik. Mary kinda just wrote off Vik's shop as a spot to hit at that point.
But something about this guy was buggin' her.
He traveled a lot, and that's fine, lots of people traveled. Mary herself might say she 'traveled' when she left one hotspot to the next. But, there were bad reasons she traveled. Most people didn't travel for good reasons, and good reasons never took a guy to fuckin' Pittsburgh. He also singled out the daytime as a bad time specifically, was he doing other things during the day? Or was he resting during the day while he was active at night? Coupled with the shapeshifting...
Mary grinned, she needed more. The Waffle House was coming into view now, they'd arrive soon. There were some, tests, she'd need that location for in order to prove or disprove a few of her theories now. Crooking her head and letting her bangs fall over one eye, Mary grinned and continued their conversation, "Guessin' all that makes sense. Gotta be hard on the fam tho ya? How they feelin' about you's being out all hours of the night?"
She was prying. He didn’t really appreciate that, but it was better this than the metahuman angle, so he shook his head. “Fostered. Don’t really have any ‘fam’ I care to know about, or who worry about where I am at odd hours.”
Her grin was throwing him off. She was probably right– he’d told her too much already, but there wasn’t much more to be done at this point. He’d never kept much of his personal stuff secret, unless it could be used to trace him across several states.
With the upcoming lights of the Waffle House came the smells associated with the place, too, and Todd realized it’d been a few days since he’d eaten anything himself. Not eaten eaten, but even for pleasure. Maybe this wouldn’t be quite as miserable as he’d planned for.
God, when was the last time he’d even eaten a waffle?
Mary 'mhm'ed and nodded at the foster comment, she knew that life all too well. "Oh yeah, I get's ya. Me and mine are all fosters, though the 'parents' kicked it thirteen years ago. Posed as 'em for the gov' suits for as long as could, but I know I'm lucky with my bros and myself all gettin' along. Been a 'mom' since twelve- ha!" It wasn't funny, but Mary laughed a little anyway.
Walking into the Waffle House, Mary shouted, "Table for two!" and the reply was immediate, "Young lady for the love of mercy don't shout at me! I can see you just fine! You going to pay this time?!" It was just two people, an older black gentleman standing up from his resting stool and putting on an apron, and a middle-aged black woman with an nicely kept afro. While her face seemed kindly, her demeanor was more than a little annoyed at Mary's arrival.
"Nope, this fine young gentleman has my tab!" "Well, at least he looks like he's got money. Unlike your last deadbeat boyfriend. Sit wherever."
Mary grinned and sat down in one of the booths close to the bathrooms and exit. She pulled a menu from behind the counter and handed it Todd, she didn't need one herself. She knew exactly what she wanted. The hostess made their way over to the table and asked, "Drinks?" and Mary responded quickly, "Coffee and orange juice!"
The main reason Todd believed her was because she didn’t treat it like a sob story.
Second to the fact that he could hear and sense lies, she wasn’t looking for his pity. If she had been, she would’ve brought it up first. Honestly, it was a little fucked up, but she seemed… happy, almost, with how her foster family had turned out. No, not even almost. Genuinely happy. He didn’t laugh with her, but he did smile, faintly. He thought of his foster years as the best of his life. Even in a different situation, he couldn’t really judge if someone else did the same, parents or no.
He didn’t flinch as Mary shouted almost in his ear. He instead looked at the two people – line cook and hostess, apparently. It seemed like Mary was a regular, but he frowned as the hostess suggested they were a thing. Mary didn’t seem to mind.
Todd took the seat across from her, and took the menu, but set it aside.
“Black coffee, please. And keep them coming.” He looked at Mary, lip quirked despite his pretended seriousness. “And – we’re not together. This is blackmail. It was this or let my shop get burgled.”
He decided on the word blackmail because Mary might find it funny, and because it mixed with his tone to make light of the situation. He didn’t actually feel like he was in any danger from Mary anymore, and if she turned back up to Vik’s she might force him to get breakfast again.
Or blast him with weird magical lights. But he was willing to bet on breakfast.
Mary made a visible face of disgust at Todd, specifically his order of black coffee. "Nasty, drinkin' it black don't make you more of a man aiight? Cream and sugar for me pleeease!" Mary called out as the hostess walked away to get their drinks. Before Todd could comment, Mary added, "And don't say you 'like the taste.' Fuckin' liars, no one likes the taste of Waffle House coffee. Tastes like bad folgers."
She didn't really respond to the blackmail comment, and neither did the cook or hostess. It was almost as if they expected that was the only reason someone would go anywhere with Mary, and they'd be mostly right. While they waited for the drinks, Mary had a nasty grin pull over her face as an idea crept into her mind.
"Aiight smart boy, we's gonna play a game. You's gonna play, or I'm gonna be even more insufferable. Two truths and a lie, aiight? I'll start. Ahem! One, I once snatched three tons of copper in a night, two, I've got four brothers, or three, I've killed a man before." At the last statement, Mary grinned that nasty grin again. Almost as if daring Todd to question her ability to take a life.
Todd raised his eyebrows at Mary’s objection. “I’ve been awake for roughly twenty-six hours. I don’t know if I can taste anything at this point. This gets the most caffeine I can into my system at the same time.”
She proposed a game, which was fair enough. Two truths and a lie could go a lot of ways.
He looked at Mary, head tilted, eyes flickering over her. Fine. He could play. He checked for some of the obvious things, changes in breathing, lack of eye contact, the usual poker stuff. But while he seemed to be looking at Mary, he turned what she’d said over in his head.
Three tons of copper sounded like a lot, but he’d played this game with worse liars, and learned that people who wanted to cover up their real lies used the ‘biggest fish you ever saw’ method, and copper was heavy. She was sneaky, too, and knew her stuff. She’d probably only been caught today because of his own odd schedule.
The copper was probably a truth, given what he’d seen tonight.
Foster families could be big. Todd had once been in a house with ten other kids, most of whom left before he did. Four wasn’t a bad number, and she mentioned she’d been mom since she was twelve. Suspicious, but unlikely.
His smile returned, tired. It wasn’t that he thought she was too weak to take her life. It was the grin that came with the statement. – and the fact that nobody would normally question someone who openly admitted to that. And, finally, process of elimination. He rested his chin on his hand.
“Three.” He said it with the dull certainty of someone who had no doubts, and no energy. As if to emphasize it, he added his own list: “One, I have all my fingers and toes. Two, I drive a Honda. Three, I met my best friend in Montana.”
Maybe he wasn’t really feeling up to the spirit of the game, but he kept his own face in the same dull neutrality it’d been in while he guessed. Although, she might see the sparkle of amusement in his blue eyes as he avoided the usual suspects when it came to questions.
Mary rolled her eyes at Todd's response, speaking a little dejectedly, "Well you's no fun, and you's right." Then, before she could continue, the drinks arrived. Two mugs of black coffee were set on the table along with a bottle of Velchers Certified Premade Orange Juice. Mary set about adding little packets of cream and sugar to her coffee, three of each, while the hostess asked Todd what he'd like to eat.
After Todd's answer, she would turn to Mary only for the younger woman to list off, "I waaaant toast, four waffles, a sausage and egg hashbrowns bowl wit' no cheese, aaaaand, uh, lemme get two scrambled eggs on the side." The hostess didn't even bat an eye at Mary's long order, as if it were normal for the skinny woman to eat like two men. Looking back at Todd, she thought for a minute about the questions he had thrown at her. They were incredibly easy, but they also tested Mary to see if she had been observing him.
She had, but she also didn't like being tested. She needed more info. Tapping the table, she spoke, "Two, that's a lie. You's drive a chevy. Gimme somethin' harder, I saw ya damn car!" Then, with a laugh, Mary continued, "Aiight, my turn. One, I'ma gonna eat everything I ordered. Two, I get my magic from a spooooky devil. Three...." Mary thought for a minute, she needed something that would give her info on Todd, and then a thought popped into her head.
"Three! I think you're a monster who eats people." Mary was thinking something like a vampire, because vampires ate people and could transform their appearance. Or~! Maybe a werewolf. Something like that. Oh, she should clarify, "Like a vampire!" Mary added quickly. Todd technically didn't have to acknowledge the statement at all, as it was what Mary thought, but she wanted to see if he reacted at all.