spread your wings

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justice is defined by the hand that claims it

Danny meets you at half past ten in a local coffee shop, where the music's loud and the chairs are uncomfortable and the coffee tastes awful. People practically dance around each other to get out the door and back to their daily commutes, drink's held tightly. To be honest, he would rather be anywhere but here, anytime but now, where he's meeting his new 'work partner'. His boss hadn't given him a reason for it, elegantly avoiding the question until she ushered him out of the room, closing her office door in his face.

For a minute, Danny wonders why he hasn't quit. The pay sucks, his co-workers suck, and even the water they had in the break room sucked. But it was the only place in town where he could get by without suspicion and without people trying to be his friend. Quiet, lonely, secret. A job he could never turn down, especially not when he can get away with writing about Ghostface so much.

The quietness is what made his job good. What made it fit in with the rest of his life.

He doesn't hear you sit down, nor does he notice you for a good minute. The music rings in his ears and rattles the back of his head, so he opts to press his palms tightly over his ears while his eyes bounce from head to head, studying any facial features he can focus on.

"That loud?" Oh. He thinks, you. Annoyance bubbles up and overflows in his stomach when you both make eye contact. To be fair, he might be judging you a little harshly, because he barely even knew you. He's heard your name passed around in office gossip—mindless chatter he never bothered to pick up on—and he's definitely seen you around, just never engaged in any interaction. What he does know, and what he loathes, is that you know how to sneak around as well as he does.

You know how to get information out of people usually unwilling to share. You know how to dodge around personal questions being asked. You know how to 'accidentally' steal credit for something that wasn't yours. The buzzing in his ears gets louder. He rhythmically taps his foot on the ground to calm down.

He gives a tight smile, innocence on his face like he didn't just think of two hundred different ways you could die. Two hundred ways he could kill and bury and hurt you in ways no one would ever figure out. If he didn't want your body to be found, it wouldn't be, a thought that settles the butterflies in his stomach. You meant nothing in the grand scheme of things.

He can see the disinterest on your face, and you see the almost blank look on his eyes. Neither of you wanted to be here. Grabbing your bag, you gesture to the exit. "Do you wanna go somewhere else?"

Ignoring the voice at the back of his head that begs and screams—yes! Yes! Dear god, anywhere but here!—he reasons that maybe staying is better. Everything on his body stings, the people are loud, everyone's voices an amalgamation in his head, but heaven knows he would rather sit in an air-conditioned coffee shop instead of walk around in the heat, so he shakes his head.

You give a nod and drag your eyes elsewhere. If you were told that your new partner in crime was gonna be this off putting and quiet, you would've brought something to entertain yourself. Or at least have bought a coffee before sitting down, but getting up now would look awkward, and the possibility of whatever this guy's name was getting annoyed was too high for you to gather the courage to order.

He holds his hand out across the table, the unspoken contest you both were having—the one-sided contest, actually, because it was just you wondering when he would say something—coming to an end. "I'm Danny. Pleasure to meet you."

He had a nice voice, you'll give him that, with a slight southern accent, small, but hard to miss when he's probably the only one in town who has one. And his hands, pale, a burn scar starting from under his hoodie sleeve, all the way up to cover part of his palm, his knuckles, and his ring and pinky finger. He's cold when you give him a handshake, unfitting for the weather.

You try not to think about it.

TROYERN. Danny JohnsonWhere stories live. Discover now