A/N: This is a fic I wrote for the Musical Cues II contest on FWAR. It's based on the song Dark Sideby Kelly Clarkson (click on song title to hear).
He picks up on their scent about half a mile from the tree line meeting his property. All of them are there, waiting for him: the whole pack, his dad and Sue Clearwater. Sue is going to get an eyeful when he strides from the trees, but he's been a wolf too long to worry about such human embarrassments.
He phases just before he hits the cluster of cedars adorning the Black house. He has to take a minute and regroup before he walks into the waiting throng of his family. All he needs is to trip and fall on his face, due to his lack of practice walking on two legs after running on four, all this time.
He can't even guess how much time has passed. Not a lot of calendars hang on trees out there in the wild, where he's been. He'd guess from the gradual decline of snowfall that it's late February, early March. He can't tell from the temperature itself; he's been immune to it for so long.
His expression is somber as he nears them, but their undisguised happiness and wide smiles at his return turn the corners of his mouth up, unbidden. He's missed them.
"Jacob!" Sam clasps his shoulder firmly, his eyes conveying more than he can say.
"Jake! Good to see you!" Embry throws his arm around his neck. "Whoa! Hey, man, not too close! Wait till you get some clothes on, dude!" he jokes.
Sam holds out some clean, dry clothes for him to slip on before they all follow him into the house.
Jacob bends over and silently hugs his dad, who's been waiting patiently in the doorway. This was why he'd ultimately come back. His father looks older and puffier than when Jacob left. Probably not eating right, no one to harass him and make sure he sticks to his bland, boring diet.
"Glad you're home, son." Billy pats him on the back.
When he straightens, they all chatter around him, catching him up on things that have happened in his absence. Sam got Emily an engagement ring for Christmas, making it official. Kim is already working on making a dress for the junior prom. Seth has a girlfriend and can't escape the pack's constant ribbing, as they're forced to watch every step of sexual progression he makes with her in the pack mind.
Sue and Rachel are in the kitchen making him something to eat. Sam had seen him coming the night before, so everyone knew he was on his way and wanted to make a nice homecoming for him. Rachel presses him into a seat at the table, and Sue sets a T-bone before him, which brings another smile to his face.
Sam shares the big news as Jacob digs into this steak: Paul imprinted on his sister a few months ago when Rachel came home to help Billy out. Jacob freezes mid-chew, almost choking on his meat. Billy slaps him on the back, and Jake continues to eat, his face hardening into a cool mask to disguise his reaction.
They all notice he's gotten even bigger. Taller. Wider. His shoulders so broad and thickly muscled; he had a hard time pulling on the t-shirt they'd given him outside.
His hair hangs down his back, dirty and tangled, with leaves and burrs stuck in the snarls. It's almost the same length as when he first phased, a year ago, before he had to cut it.
Sam approaches him as he finishes his steak, a pair of scissors in his hand. He reaches out to gather the long hair in his palm, ready to snip off the length, when Jacob says his first words of the evening.
"No!" He snatches Sam's forearm and stops him. "Leave it."
They all shift uncomfortably, but Sam nods and lowers the shears.
He's different, but they expected as much. They'll give him a few days… maybe a few weeks. He'll be okay.
They continue their chatter and bantering around him, making him feel at home again. No one mentions her name, and much to their relief, Jacob doesn't ask.
Hours later - the pack, along with Sue - have all gone home. Rachel and Paul, who is now living at the Black's, have gone to bed. Jacob showers and washes; his now-clean hair is combed and pulled back into a ponytail down his back. At least one thing feels familiar.
He shifts uncomfortably in his seat on the sofa while Billy's eyes pretend to be glued to the news on the television. He wants to talk about it but doesn't know how to bring it up.
"So how was the wedding?" he finally asks, deciding to go the casual route.
Billy doesn't even blink; he knew it was coming eventually. He takes a deep breath and turns the television off. He looks into his son's eyes. "There was no wedding."
Jacob blinks a few times – that's not the answer he expected to hear.
"What do you mean?" His mind automatically thinks the worst: maybe that bastard leech killed her before they'd even gotten through their vows.
"The wedding was called off. The Cullens are gone."
"But Bella went with them, right?"
"Wait – what are you saying? Tell me something, Dad. Help me out here. She's dead, right?" He doesn't expect his throat to tighten when he says it. After all, he's prepared himself for her imminent death all these months. He's forced himself to make her dead in his mind.
Billy sighs and rubs his forehead. "I don't know what exactly happened. I'm only getting my information from Charlie, and he doesn't know all the secrets, like the rest of us do. All I know is that a few weeks before the wedding, Bella ended up in the hospital. She's home now, and while Charlie says she's not great, she is better. A few days after Charlie told me Bella was in the hospital, I got a phone call from the sister – Alice – that the wedding was being 'postponed'."
Jacob rubs his face, confused. "Why didn't any of the guys tell me this?"
"Sam and I discussed it, and Sam ordered them not to. We agreed we didn't want you hearing any of this covered in speculation, with biased and uninformed opinions thrown into the story. The truth is, none of us know what exactly happened. I do know that while Bella was in the hospital, there were a lot of psychiatric tests done, and she was diagnosed with manic depression. They've got her on meds, and Charlie says she's doing better."
It's a lot to take in, and Jake stares at the now blank TV screen, trying to make sense of it all. Bella's not dead, she's not married, but she's sick. And she's home. And as far as he can tell, she's staying. He clenches his teeth in frustration at the tiny leap his heart makes when coming to that conclusion.
It's been a long, confusing day of revelations.
"I'm tired. I'm going to bed." He gets up without fanfare and heads to his old room.
The next day, he doesn't wake until three o'clock in the afternoon. His small, crappy bed feels like a king's paradise after sleeping on the cold, hard ground for so long.
Billy, Rachel and Paul try to make conversation with him, but it's apparent he's not ready yet. He speaks when spoken to, but even then, his answers are brief and abrupt. He'll be fine, they assure each other. He just needs to readjust.
He spends most of the day helping Paul build a new ramp to the house, for Billy. It feels good to work hard, using his body in rough manual labor. When Jacob lifts up a stack of heavy boards over his head, Paul's eyes widen. Jacob's strength surpasses any of the others now.
Billy and Rachel stand at the window watching, both of them worrying that Jacob and Paul, not ever the best of friends, will argue about something and fight. But it's kind of tough to fight with someone who doesn't speak, so the boys work on the ramp the whole afternoon and evening without incident.
Rachel cooks dinner for them all, and Jacob, still exhausted after a hard day of physical labor, crashes in his ridiculously tiny bed not long afterward.
He hasn't mentioned Bella's name again.
The next morning, Paul and Billy wake him. Billy is going to the Swan's to watch a tape that Phil and Renee sent Charlie featuring the beginning of spring training. Jake knows this is really just an excuse to drink beer. Paul and Rachel are going to Sam and Emily's to hang out and watch a movie. Does Jacob want to go with either of them?
"I'm going to clean off the Rabbit," he mumbles into his pillow.
An hour later, he hears Charlie's cruiser pull up to the house, and Billy wheels himself out the front door. Less than ten minutes later, Paul and Rachel leave as well.
Jacob stretches his limbs, and deciding he's hungry, heads for the kitchen. He finds half of a box of Cocoa Puffs cereal. Who the hell's is this? Rachel eats that healthy bran crap that tastes like the cardboard box it's packaged in, and one bowl of this shit would kill Billy. Must be Paul's. Jacob empties the rest of the box into the biggest bowl he can dig out of the cupboard, and pours the last of the milk in the fridge on top of it.
As he washes out his bowl, he glances at the calendar alongside the sink. He has no idea what day of the week it is, so he doesn't know the exact date, but he learns that he was right; it's February.
He pulls his old sweats out from his drawer and pulls one of his t-shirts on over his head. He has a hard time pulling the now-tight material over his buff form. He'll probably lose a little of the bulk if he decides to stay human again.
If. He hasn't decided yet.
The rain's taken a brief break, and his bare feet sink into the mud along the path to the garage. He pulls the door open and sees that everything is exactly as he left it. Even the half-eaten sandwich he never finished still sits on the ledge by the wrenches. He'd better throw that out.
The Rabbit is coated with a thick, dark layer of dust. He pulls it outside and hoses it off. Once it's been soaped up and rinsed well, Jacob dries it off and drives it back into the garage. He then begins rubbing wax on its exterior, buffing a shine back into the red paint.
He's absorbed; his time as a wolf teaching him a focus and attention he hadn't had before. But the rag almost drops from his hand when a familiar sound assails his ears. His hands begin trembling, but he doesn't stop working the rag into the Rabbit's faded paint. His eyes stay glued to the car even though he hears a door creak open and slam just outside.
He wipes the sweat off his upper lip as her footsteps tentatively approach him from behind, his back purposely to the door.
He smells her and curses at himself as a tear develops in the corner of his eye, and he rubs it away quickly.
"I heard you were back."
Her voice sounds stronger, which surprises him. He imagined she'd be more… fragile.
"You too," he answers her, curtly.
"Huh," she snorts, an edge to the sound. "I can only imagine what you heard."
"Not much," he replies casually, his back still to her, wanting more than anything that she'd go away before he turns and looks at her. He knows if he sees her, it's all over.
"Well, whatever they told you, it's probably not as bad as the truth."
She walks around the car, so his back isn't to her. He wishes she'd just stayed on the other side of the room.
"Yeah, well…" He doesn't know what to say to her. Half of him, the old Jacob, the one whose ghost still wanders this garage, is dying to ask her what happened – and how can he make it better for her. But the wolf doesn't even want to know. Those waters have been tested and would take a man under and drown him.
"I brought something."
He notices she has a backpack as she drops it to the ground in front of her. She's ignoring his deliberate show of non-interest in her. He has to admit she's piqued his curiosity now.
"Yeah? What's that?" He finally sets the rag down and gazes up at her, guardedly.
She's just a girl. She's just a girl.
The fact that this girl once ripped his heart from his chest cavity and danced on top of it, hasn't escaped his memory.
She's paler, and as thin as she was last year when she brought the bikes to him. Her hair is cut shorter, in a chin-length bob, but there's a hardness in her eyes that has replaced the sadness that used to be there. It's that that changes her face completely, hardening all her features slightly. Even her mouth has lost its soft, innocent pout, appearing slightly puckered, as if she had just been sucking on a sour lemon. He's shocked.
She's still beautiful, but in a slightly aggressive way, while before she had been all timidity and shyness. Her face appears angular and sharp now, where before she had been softness and round edges. He can see she's even wearing dark make-up all around her eyes.
This is like a completely different girl before him now with just the specter of familiarity surrounding her hazily.
He stares at her as she squats down, unzips the blue backpack and pulls out two shot glasses followed by a bottle of amber-colored liquid. Some kind of alcohol he's sure, as he can smell it.
"What the hell?"
"Tequila." She snickers, holding the bottle up for him to see. "Oh, and wait…" She digs out a small baggie with what looks and smells like cut up limes, and then a porcelain salt shaker.
She sees the look on his face. "I thought we'd celebrate," she shrugs.
Really. What do either of them have to fucking celebrate? That the leech is gone? Hey, on second thought, that alone is worth celebrating. "Okay."
For a second, her expression had wavered, but he sees relief relax her features when he agrees.
She flops her butt on the floor from her squatting position and sits cross-legged, screwing open the top on the tequila.
"Are you supposed to drink with the meds you're taking?" he asks her, coming to sit across from her on the cement floor.
"Probably not. But I'll only have a couple shots," she adds when she sees the hesitation on his face.
He lets her pour the booze while he licks his hand and pours some salt over the warm moistness. He's never actually done tequila shots, but he's seen enough movies that he knows how this works. Sam doesn't allow them to drink, but fuck that. This is a celebration, and he hasn't been under Sam's orders in at least eight months.
When Bella sets the glasses down, he takes her hand. Before she can ask what he's doing, he drags his tongue across the area beyond her thumb and shakes some salt over it. Her pulse gives away one hard missed beat, and then settles back down to a steady rhythm.
"Don't forget your lime," she murmurs, handing him a wedge.
"So what is it exactly we're celebrating?"
"It's Valentine's Day."
"Oh." He hadn't known that. He hadn't even thought of it.
"And your birthday. You were gone, so we missed it."
That's right. He missed his seventeenth birthday. No one else had thought to mention it. Leave it to Bella to remember.
She held the shot glass up for him to tap. "So, Happy Birthday, Happy Valentine's Day, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."
He chuckled at her joke and tapped her glass. They both hesitated and waited for the other to drink.
"You know how to do this, right, Bells?" Ah shit, that had slipped right out. He wishes he could take it back, but it's too late.
"Lick." He mimes, licking the salt off his hand. "Throw it back." He waves the tequila. "And suck." He holds the lime up toward his mouth. "Then you have to slam your glass down."
"I know," she smirks at him. "Go!"
They both grin as they lick, drink, and suck the lime, and then laugh as they slam their glasses against the hard garage floor; Jake's hitting the ground a few seconds before Bella's.
"Wooo!" Bella throws her head back, grimacing at the taste of the alcohol.
"What is this cheap shit?" Jacob gags, picking up the bottle.
"I don't know. Charlie's had it in the liquor cabinet since I moved home. Obviously he won't notice it missing."
Their laughs die down to chuckles, and they watch each other. It hasn't taken long for the comfortableness to fall over the two of them. They're wary of each other, but still there's a sense of safety in being together.
"One more?" she asks him, already filling their glasses.
"Are you sure you should?" He's a little concerned. He knows medications and alcohol don't usually mix.
"No," she tells him straight-faced. "Just kidding. One more won't hurt."
"Okay, but let's wait a little bit for the next one, okay?" He just isn't comfortable with her throwing back tequila. He doesn't want her freaking out or going into seizures or something in front of him.
She reaches out for him, and he instinctively flinches away from her touch. She draws her hand back quickly and looks down at the floor.
"I like your hair," she says, studying a crack on the floor. "It's long again. Like before."
"Yeah," he reaches back for his ponytail, affirming it. "You cut yours."
"Ha!" she laughs, her eyes hardening. "Apparently it's one of the first things crazy people do. I chopped the hell out of it. It was about as short as yours when… when you phased that first time."
She pats her hair. "It's grown out quite a bit, and of course, I had it fixed. Can't go wandering around Forks looking like someone who just got out of an asylum. People might talk."
Who was this girl? Was it her medicine talking or had things gone that wrong while he was away?
"So what was it like?" She asks him when he doesn't respond to her little tirade.
"What was what like?"
"You know. Wolfing out for so long."
He shrugs. "It was… kinda peaceful. Food sucks though."
She made a face. "I bet. No McDonald's."
He throws his head back and laughs. "No, not where I was at."
They sit in silence for a few minutes, studying each other. Finally she sits back and leans against the cabinet behind her, stretching her legs out straight. "So, go ahead and ask. You know you want to."
Did he want to know? Shit. He did.
"What happened?" He sighs.
She rubs her eyes vigorously before starting. "They told you what I have, right?"
"Manic depression," he nods.
"Right. Well, back when Ed-he left, last year, remember how sad I was?"
"You were comatose, Bella. Barely functioning if I remember correctly."
"Yeah, well, that was the depressive side of the disease manifesting itself. I just wanted to die," she adds in a whisper. "But I got better, remember? After we hung out for a while, I started to get better. Then there was the whole newborn fight, and after that I started to feel something building inside me. I could actually feel this - excitement - building, and I thought it was because of the wedding. But I didn't even want the wedding, so I was confused. And then you ran off and wolfed out, and the wedding started getting closer, and I… I started pressuring Ed-him."
She pauses. She was working herself up with the memory while she was talking about it.
"Pressuring him for what?"
She swallows. "Well, you know how vampires can't really do anything… sexually with humans? Well, people with manic depression can sometimes become very… sexual."
Her cheeks still turn pink, Jacob notes. It feels reassuring somehow.
"Okay." He encourages her to continue.
She's always been embarrassed discussing anything to do with S-E-X. Jacob always found it kinda cute.
"So, I started trying to make him do stuff. And he wouldn't. So I started doing things that made him really uncomfortable." She stops abruptly and studies the crack in the floor again.
She shakes her head and begins tracing the crack with her finger. "Just, taking my clothes off and stuff, trying to… I don't know. Make him notice me," she whispers.
"Wow," he murmurs, a fresh visual popping up in his head. "Don't think I could have said no to that," comes flying out of his mouth. He's surprised when she giggles.
"Yeah, well, he did. But then, I started doing other stuff. I started trying to make him change me."
"You were always trying to make him change you."
"No." She shakes her head. "I mean, I started cutting myself. I'd take Charlie's razor and slash myself with it before I went to bed, knowing he'd be there soon, hoping the blood would make him… " she swallows again.
"Would make him lose control and change you," he finishes for her.
"Uh-huh. Obviously, it didn't work. I tried a few different scenarios, trying to catch him off-guard with my blood."
"Jesus, Bella. What did Edward do?"
She shrugs and then laughs bitterly. "I don't think he knew what to do."
"Well, thank God your stupid plans didn't work." He spits out.
She looks up at him at him with her chocolate brown eyes, now covered in eyeliner and mascara. "Oh, but they did."
She laughs again at his expression as his eyes round in shock and surprise.
"What are you talking about?"
"I did it. I tricked him. I learned right away that every time I cut myself, he could smell it. It still took him by surprise, but his sense of smell always clued him in immediately. So one night, I was acting particularly playful - ruffling his hair a lot and being silly. I told him to hold his breath and kiss me to see if it was as enjoyable when my scent wasn't overwhelming his senses. I plugged his nose with my fingers too, which made him laugh. Then I quickly bit the inside of my lip as hard as I could and kissed him. Just for good measure, I bit down hard on his lip. It worked better than I thought it would. Not only did some of his venomous saliva make it into my mouth, but he accidently bit me in shock before he pulled away."
Jacob can't believe the triumphant smile on her face. She is crazy.
"But you're – so what – how?" he sputters.
"I felt it start to work instantaneously. The pain flamed through my whole face and my skull, and I automatically started screaming. But I'd done it! And then…"
Now she looks pissed off as her eyes narrow and her arms cross over her chest.
"And then what, Bella?"
"And then that bastard called for Carlisle and Jasper, and Ed-he sucked the venom from the cut, just like he'd done with James. And that's when I lost it." She leans forward toward him. "You wouldn't believe how strong I was, Jacob. It was like I was possessed. I totaled Edward's room. I threw chairs and lamps against the wall, pulled all his bedding and the mattress off the bed. I broke both his bedroom windows and the mirrors on his dresser. I just went crazy. They all stood there, stunned, and watched me. And then, when I was done, I ran out to my car and drove home. The first thing I did was pull a pair of kitchen shears from the drawer and chopped all my hair off. Then I wrecked the kitchen. I don't know if something in his venom gave me temporary superpowers, or if it was the mania from my… my sickness. The doctors say at the height of mania, you can be pretty strong. Anyway, Charlie found me in the middle of the wrecked kitchen, cutting my legs up with the scissors. He took me to the hospital. You know the rest."
"Holy shit." It's all he can think of to say. "And the Cullens just left after that?"
She shrugs and handed him the other now-full shot glass. "I need another shot, here."
They watch each other lick their hands and pour the salt on. They each pick up a lime slice.
"Ready?" She quirks her eyebrow. "On three. One. Two. Three!"
They both loudly exhale alcohol fumes as they slam their shot glasses to the floor.
"So now you know all my secrets." She smiles at him.
"And you already know all mine, so we're even."
"What a pair," she murmurs.
They sit in comfortable silence together, lost in their thoughts, stealing glances at each other when they think the other isn't looking.
"It was quiet," he says softly.
She studies him, but says nothing.
"Which was partly what I wanted."
"Partly? What else did you want?"
"I wanted not to think," he tells her, getting up abruptly. He picks up the rag from the floor and begins buffing the Rabbit.
"And did you? Think, I mean."
He takes his time answering her, rubbing out a faded spot on the hood. "I did a little in the beginning. But as time went by, it got easier to just… forget. And stop feeling. It just became instinct: eat, hunt, find a place to rest, keep moving."
He moves to the rear of the car, and she thinks she hears him whisper. "It was lonely."
"I know what you mean. I missed you," she tells him.
"Ha!" He snorts. "Sure ya did."
"I don't care if you don't believe me, but I did. Tons." Now it's her turn to whisper. "I didn't think you were ever coming back."
He hears her sniff and thinks, there's another thing that hasn't changed - tears and pink cheeks. These are the defining traits of Bella that will always be the same.
Unless she'd gotten her way and was changed.
"So why did Edward leave?" He decides to change the subject.
"Because I told him to," she says haughtily.
He turns, surprised. "You told him to?"
She nods at him.
"I'm proud of you. Good girl. Why, though?"
"Because he never wanted me, Jacob! Why would he have stopped the process? I was turning, for God's sake! Why would he stop it just to start it again after we were married? He never had any goddamn intention…"
She stops herself, feeling her emotions getting the best of her. She wipes the tears angrily from her face.
"He didn't really want me," she mutters, laying her face on her drawn-up knees.
Jacob doesn't know if he agrees with her, but one thing he's determined not to do now that he's back is to get emotionally invested in all that crap again. He's done thinking about the Cullens. Next vampire he sees is getting ripped to shreds, and he doesn't care who it is or if Bella knows it or cares about it. Vampires are to be destroyed.
He can feel his wolf humming.
"When I showed up today, I thought for sure you weren't going to talk to me." She finally breaks the silence.
"I wasn't," he answers her curtly, yet honestly. "But it looked like life had punished you enough while I'd been gone. Kind of took all the fun out of it for me to do it."
He hears her snort from her still seated position on the floor.
"Were the nights hard for you?"
He can't see her; he's worked his way to the other side of the car. But he can hear her. He doesn't answer her though, and she continues on her own.
"The nights were hardest for me when I came back. I'd lay there at night and wish you were here. I'd think about driving to La Push and getting in bed with you. Just to sleep," she adds quickly. "At least, once my meds kicked in." She giggles.
What was that supposed to mean? He decides he doesn't want to know.
"I really missed you," she whispers again.
"You said that."
"It's probably better you left, though." It sounds like she's trying to convince herself. "I probably would have screwed this all up too, if you'd been here."
He comes back around the Rabbit toward her and leans against its frame. He sets down the rag. He's not sure what to say; she's rendered him speechless a lot today. But he can't argue with what she's said. If she was that crazy, he's not sure what she would have been capable of, but he can't resist saying this though:
"No offense, but you kind of did screw this all up, anyway."
She chuckles darkly. "If I'd done the things I'd wanted to do when all the craziness was going on…" She trails off.
"What did you want to do?"
She doesn't answer for a minute, just dips her finger in her empty shot glass, and licks the stray drop of tequila from the tip.
"Remember I told you what I was doing to Edward?" she whispers.
"No. The other thing. The taking my clothes off thing."
"Oh," he says, surprised. "Yeah, that definitely would have changed things. But I think I might have liked that better than what you actually did."
"Jacob." She shakes her head sadly. "The thing is, and I've had lots of time to think about this, I don't think you were all that in love with me."
His breath freezes in his throat, and he just stares at her darkly. How can she say that?
"No, hear me out. I think, for you, it was more about winning. It was all about the competition. It had more to do with Ed-him and you than it did with me."
"You're full of shit." He growls huskily.
"Look at me, Jacob."
He glares at her.
"This is the prize." She sweeps her hands up the length of her body and frames her face with them. "Not so worth having now that he's gone, is it?"
Oh, he's not going there.
"It was nice seeing you, Bella." He picks up his rag dismissively and heads to the other side of the car. "Glad you're feeling better. We'll have to do this again, someday. Maybe next Valentine's Day."
"Jacob, I'm sorry." She gets up and follows him to the back of the car. "I didn't mean... I'm sorry. Sometimes I think too much. And say stupid things. I'm sorry, okay?"
"Sure, sure." He doesn't look at her.
"Can I come back? And just hang out? Like today?"
"It's a free country."
"You'll talk to me? You're not mad at me?"
"I don't know, Bella. I can't promise anything. Depends on when you come and what kind of day I'm having."
He sighs and turns around to look at her. That's what she's waiting for, and he can't deny her such a small thing. "And I'm not mad at you."
The smile lights up her face, and he can see some of the hardness in her eyes melt in that moment, and the angular set of her jaw rounds temporarily.
His heart does a leap, and he has to chuckle. No matter how hard you try, some things just can't be changed. Some things just are.
"What?" she asks, surprised.
"Nothing." He shakes his head. "You can come back and hang out. Just… leave the tequila home. Go put it back in Charlie's liquor cabinet, please."
"Okay." She laughs, backing away to gather up her things. "Okay."
She pulls her backpack over her tiny frame and heads for the garage door. "So, I'll see you later. Maybe next week? I can probably come by next Saturday, okay?"
"Sure, sure. Next Saturday."
He can't help himself. He's waxing the back fender, but before she hits the door, he casually yells, "If you want to come back next time without your clothes on, that's okay with me."
A screwdriver goes sailing past him. Her aim sucks.
He runs his hand through the length of his hair that's tied behind his back. He leans into the fender, rubbing out the perfect shine, and begins to whistle.