Olivia looked up from her book as Rob’s truck rumbled into the lot behind the lair, thick tires crunching the gravel beneath them. She rose from her beanbag, placing her stuffed jaguar to the side, as the back door opened and the triplets walked in. Rob kicked Ben’s heel as he crossed the threshold, tripping him up
“You alright there?” Rob asked with a wide, shit eating grin.
“Motherfucker,” grumbled Ben.
“How did it go?” asked Amanda from her traditional place in the workshop.
“Good,” said Rob.
Ben continued, “Spotted a couple places. An old antique shop, a pot shop, an’ one of those video rental places. Some other places that didn’t look quite as good. There were a couple bars, but one was boarded up, an’ the other didn’t have cameras lookin’ out towards the street, just their lot out back. We also scouted out the nearest gas station. That’ll definitely have better outside cameras.”
“Wait, pot shop?” mumbled Miya as she stumbled over to join Olivia, blinking hard to get the sleep from her eyes. Oh, hey, she’s awake and not swearing at everyone. They formed a loose semicircle around Amanda.
Ben snorted out a laugh. “Yeah, welcome to Colorado.”
“Seriously?” asked Amanda.
“What? I’ve only been here for about two months, remember?” grumbed Miya. “And half of that time something’s been trying to kill me.”
“Right, keep forgettin’ that,” said Rob. Olivia wrapped a wing around Miya. Not right now, look on the bright side!
“Did you guys drive that enormous truck of yours through the area?” asked Amanda. “That can absolutely be tracked back to us.”
“Don’t worry, we ain’t stupid.”
“Yeah, we parked a couple blocks away, walked to the shops,” said Rob.
Amanda nodded. “Good. Were you able to check what kind of format those videos were in?” Ben and Rob exchanged glances. “No, never mind,” she continued. “Just get the tapes or record it on one of these drives.” She passed a small black flash drive to Rob.
Rob nodded as he accepted it. “We’ll head out tonight, hit as many as possible.”
“Any progress with Maria?” asked Ben.
“Yes, actually,” replied Amanda. Oh. When did this happen? “I think I tracked them down. They’re working on a farm out east now. I was thinking about driving out there this afternoon. Want to come, Miya?”
Miya blinked. “What, you think I speak Spanish?”
“Wait, Miya’s right. They speak Spanish in Colombia. Probably be Maria’s native language,” pointed out Ben. “An’ if Maria is Olivia, then she’d be able to speak it. Hell, Little Bird can speak English. Why not Spanish?”
Amanda’s eyes widened momentarily before she slapped herself in the forehead. “Oh my god you’re right. How did I not think of that?” Olivia nodded. Spanish? I don’t think I can speak that. But I’ve never tried before. Maybe that will work. That would be kind of cool.
Ben grinned and said, “‘liv’, what’chu thinkin’? Any Spanish comin’ to mind?”
Olivia shook her head in response. “I don’t think so. I think I’ve always spoke in English. At least since I woke up.”
“OK, let’s try some words and see if you recognize them,” said Amanda. “How about computadora?”
“Computer,” guessed Olivia. “I just guessed. It sounds exactly like computer.”
Ben chuckled as he nudged Amanda. “Stand back, gonna put three years of half remembered high school Spanish to use.” To Olivia he said, “Yo miro un carro.”
Olivia blinked. Yo? Like hi? And… I don’t know. “What?”
“That answers that question,” said Miya.
“What did you say?” Olivia asked Ben.
“I see a car. I think. I’m pretty sure,” he replied.
“Oh, OK. So… I’m not Maria?” asked Olivia.
Amanda studied the files open on her screen and said, “”Not necessarily, but that does poke a big hole in the theory. Keep in mind Spanish might not have been Maria’s first language. Or maybe she just forgot it and happened to remember English. That’s not the most likely scenario, but it’s the one we’ve got.”
“Could I come?” asked Olivia. “When, you know, you go visit them?”
Miya bit her lip, then said, “That might not be the best idea.”
“Why not? Beth’s parents were happy to see her.”
“We don’t know for certain if you’re Maria or not,” said Amanda. “We don’t want to spook them, either. You look scary. Sorry, Olivia.”
Olivia nodded with a small frown on her face. Yeah, yeah, lots people are scared of me. I get it.
“So we get the tapes sometime tonight, Amanda an’ Miya get out to the farm?” Amanda nodded. “Sounds like a game plan,” said Ben.
“Shouldn’t I do something, at least?” asked Olivia. I mean, you all are doing this for me, and I’m just sitting here otherwise.
Rob shrugged and said, “We could use a lookout.”
“Yeah,” said Ben. “Wanna stay in the air, keep watch. Make sure there’s no nosy walkers or cops comin’?”
“I can do that.” It’s not like we’re taking anything. It’s just some old security footage.
Miya asked, “Wait. I have a question. Maria’s parents don’t just have a phone we could call?”
“I searched. Nothing,” replied Amanda. “We have nothing to do now but wait.”
“Alright, sounds good,” said Ben as Miya unwrapped herself from Olivia’s wing and headed back to her bed.
“Hey, Amanda, ready to give that railgun another test fire?” asked Rob.
“Yes!” Aren’t you guys almost done with that thing?
“Cool. I’ll get everythin’ set up outside,” said Rob, heading for the door.
“Shit, I wanna see this,” said Ben, following after his brother.
“What time is it?” asked Olivia as Amanda pulled her shoes on.
“Nine thirty. In the morning,” replied Amanda. She gave a bemused smile when Olivia sighed and asked, “What’s wrong?”
She held a hand over her mouth to stifle a yawn. “I wanted to finish my book, but I should sleep.”
Amanda grabbed the railgun from a desk as she rose. “The book will be there when you wake up, don’t worry.”
“But books,” replied Olivia, motioning to her tablet.
Amanda laughed and said, “I can’t answer that question for you. There’s no wrong answer though.” And with that, she was out the back door. Olivia returned to her beanbag and folded her arms under her chin as she laid down. Sleep is nice.
After sundown, Olivia woke to a lair nearly empty. Besides herself, Rob paced around some blueprints spread out over a heavy desk in the workshop. He gave her a quick wave as she rose. She grabbed a quick breakfast before returning to her beanbag and her book. The final two chapters didn’t take too long. I totally could have read this before I went to bed. Darn it, Amanda. She raised her head and opened her mouth to say something before reconsidering.
“You OK?” asked Rob, looking up from his work. “Looked like you were ‘bout to say somethin’.”
“I just finished a book. Chris recommended it. I wanted to talk with him about it. But, you know…” she trailed off.
“I gotcha. We just gotta deal with it, I guess. Nothin’ else we can do.”
That’s just cold. “How are we supposed to ‘deal with it?”
He shrugged and said, “I got no idea. But that’s life. Everyone’s wingin’ it, really.” Olivia couldn’t think of a response. I don’t know, I just miss him. She idly scratched at the base of one of her spikes. “Spikes still givin’ you trouble?” asked Rob.
“No,” replied Olivia. “They’ve stopped itching as much. But my shirts keep getting caught on them. It’s kind of annoying.”
“Cut out the back of the shirt? That strip of fabric between your wings, just get rid of that. That’s where the spikes are.”
“That could work.”
Just then, the back door opened and Ben walked in, carrying a few bags that smelled of oil and metal.
“Hey. Get the things?” said Rob.
“Yeah, yeah,” replied Ben. He dropped the plastic bags off by Rob’s feet and plopped down next to Olivia on the beanbag. “Miya an’ Amanda still out?” he asked.
“Yeah, should be back soon,” replied Rob.
“Bitch says what?” said Ben, too fast to be understood properly.
“What?” said Rob, just before he parsed what Ben had said. “Oh, motherfucker.” What? Oh, I get it. You guys are mean sometimes. Olivia shook her head and turned off her tablet, placing it to the side.
“That was an impressive rant about Mexico Miya had yesterday,” said Ben.
“Yeah. Where the fuck did that come from?” asked Rob.
“I have no idea,” replied Olivia. “She’s from Mexico, isn’t she? She and her family?”
“Yeah. I think so,” said Rob.
“Angry, apparently. She keeps hitting me,” said Ben, massaging his ribs.
“You keep making fun of her,” pointed out Olivia. What do you call her? Pokey?
“That don’t mean she has to hit me. Fuckin’ Little Miss Napoleon.”
“What about all those times you poked her in the face?” asked Olivia.
“You know, maybe, just maybe, you’ve done somethin’ to deserve all those hits,” said Rob with a grin.
“She’s always fuckin’ angry! I just happen to be in hittin’ distance. Yeah, I give her shit, but no more than anyone else.”
“You sure about that?” asked Rob. Olivia nodded in agreement with Rob.
“Not entirely,” admitted Ben.
“She doesn’t punch anyone else,” pointed out Olivia.
“Fine, fuck it, I’m a jackass. So, Rob. You an’ Amanda havin’ that dinner soon?” asked Ben, trying to change the subject.
Rob ran a hand through his hair. “Um, yeah. Still lookin’ for places. Make sure she can eat there. Make sure it ain’t bombed out either.”
Ben snorted. “You’re stallin’. Ain’t that hard to pick a place to eat.”
“Yeah, probably,” said Rob with a sigh. “I dunno, I just don’t wanna fuck it up.”
“Mess what up?” asked Olivia.
Rob shot her a questioning glance and said, “The date. Hell, I got no idea if I’m gonna fuck it up. What’s a girl want in a date, anyways?”
“I don’t know. Why are you asking me what’s normal?” asked Olivia. And why are you so nervous?
“Cuz… fuck if I know.”
Positive, stay positive. Um… “Well, she wanted to go to. That’s good,” said Olivia.
“She’s got a point,” said Ben with a grin. “Calm down, you’re fine.”
Rob took a deep breath and said, “Yeah, yeah, you’re right, both of you.” He checked his watch. “Time to get movin’?” He grabbed one of Amanda’s comms off the desk, tossing another to Ben.
“Good a time as any,” replied Ben. “Still up for bein’ lookout, ‘liv’?”
“Oh, right. Yes.” Olivia climbed to her feet and joined them by the door, accepting an earpiece from Rob. I haven’t been flying in a while. I wonder if Beth and Red have been practicing. I need to visit them soon. Oh, maybe I could give Beth a call when I get back! She likes books too.
Olivia glided through the air, eyes on the streets below her. Few stars twinkled in the warm summer night, now that power had been restored to most of the city. Rob and Ben, faces covered by hoods, hurried from one store to another. Rob knelt by the side door of the antique shop as Ben watched his back.
“OK guys, a car is coming your way. Get out of sight,” she said into her earpiece.
“Gotcha,” replied Ben over the comm. He patted Rob on the shoulder, and together they took cover behind the store, out of view of the street.
“I’m likin’ this whole aerial coverage thing,” said Rob.
“Flying is pretty fun,” replied Olivia. I don’t know how you guys stand walking or driving everywhere. “OK, it’s gone.”
Rob and Ben returned to the door. A minute later, they were through. Olivia glided along in silence. They’d gone through most of the stores on the triplets’ list, found the security footage, and deleted the tapes if they’d happened to be caught on it. It’s not stealing. I’m not actually sure what this is.
“Got it. We’re out of here.” said Ben after a few more minutes.
“Last store, right?” asked Rob.
“Yep. See you back at the lair, ‘liv’.”
“OK,” she replied.
“You don’t sound too happy.”
“I just hope we find something, make this all worth it.” I get why we need to do this, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
“No worries. We got this,” said Rob.
“I know. I’m going to fly around a bit, I’ll see you guys later,” replied Olivia.
Olivia circled a few times, making sure Rob and Ben got out of the area unnoticed. That done, she took out her earpiece and drifted back towards the lair, taking the time to enjoy the fresh air and freedom. Once back home, she spotted the roof of Amanda’s car, parked beside Rob’s truck. A nervous ball formed in the pit of her stomach. Let’s see what they found.