You fail to realize how tired you actually are until Rose leads the three of you back towards the long flight of stairs you came down.
Walking for almost an entire day is definitely a first for you, and the throbbing ache of your feet helps you to come to the conclusion that, as long as you have any say in it, it will stay a one time deal. But as tired as you are, Dave seems uneffected. You find this a little peculiar, given that he's spent most of his life in a cage and probably never had much exercise at all before now. He seems no worse for the wear, though, and even as you're bobbing your weight sleepily from foot to foot beside him, he walks rigidly, totally alert. You wonder if the gawking patrons in the speakeasy got to him. It wasn't like they pointed and called out names, but they did do an awful lot of staring. It's not your place to judge them, but you can't help but feel it was rude and kind of ignorant.
If he was bothered by their scrutinizing, Dave isn't about to let on. He dashes up the stairs behind Rose briskly, and you're forced to hobble quickly after him to avoid falling behind. After what feels like a short eternity, all of you reach the top landing. Jade orders everyone to step back as she closes the trap door carefully, making sure it blends seamlessly into the carpeting before straightening up. Rose gives Jade a nod, and you presume this means she has more work to do and will be entrusting your cousin with your care. This presumption is pretty much confirmed when Rose mumbles something similar in her friend's ear and sweeps off to some other room in the building. You watch her skirts rustle out of your line of sight, feeling a goofy smile cranking your mouth open. It isn't until Dave lightly smacks the back of your head that you find your bearings.
Jade instructs you to follow her, so you do. She bustles through a tiny hall in the very back of the building, the end of which swells into a polished staircase. Jade then hops up the stairs two-by-two, obviously not suffering from so much as a smidgen of exhaustion, but you barely manage to trundle along behind her. Dave hovers just ahead, shooting frequent, annoyed looks back at you. You shrug in response, wondering why he doesn't simply go ahead on his own.
At the top of the stairs is a modest but charming hall with several doors propped open. You and Dave follow Jade down towards the end, and you spare a moment or two to glance blearily through the doorways as you pass. You see a study, a bathroom, and another bedroom that's probably Jade's. Jade herself waits patiently for you to reach her, and when you do she declares, "This is where you'll be sleeping."
You and Dave peer inside in unison. It's a nice room, sure, but it's not very spacious.
"There's only one bed," Dave notes tartly.
"I can sleep on the floor," you offer, more than willing in your exhausted state.
"Or... you could share it!" Jade supplies helpfully, smiling.
"Share it...?" Dave repeats, looking at Jade like he's sure he misheard.
She merely nods. "Uh-huh. Just until we can get another bed in here." Warningly, she tells you, "I'm not about to give up my bedroom either, so you can just hold out for now."
Dave looks like he's seething, but he also looks like he's in no mood to release all the yelling and swearing that's no doubt desperate to escape him. He doesn't offer you the bed or insist you sleep on the foor; instead he simply clacks past Jade and flops down on one side of the mattress. You sigh.
"I guess we can talk more tomorrow," you say to Jade.
She nods patiently. "You get some sleep. Rose will want to discuss things over breakfast, anyway."
You smile sleepily. "Keen."
Stumbling over, you appoach the side of the bed, wondering if you can at least snag a pillow to put your head on. Dave doesn't look like he's budging, though, so you start to bend your knees towards the unusually inviting floorboards.
Dave shifts, propping himself up with a rustle. "What are you doing?" he demands.
You squint at him tiredly and explain, "I was gonna sleep." You blink, remembering something, and jerkily remove your glasses, fumbling to put them on the nearby nightstand.
"You don't have to sleep on the floor, kid," he grumbles wearily.
"I... don't?" you mumble.
"No," he snaps, then scoots over as close to the wall as he can get. It takes you a full thirty seconds to realize he's offering you half of the mattress. You hesitate, wondering if you should accept his proposal, but the heaviness of your eyelids and the vaguely gelatinous feeling in your limbs are both egging you on. You give in, flopping onto the bed like a ragdoll, then curling up happily. The space isn't huge, but it's still big enough to keep the two of you seperate save for the ocassional brushing of feathers. You cling to your pillow, feeling oddly exhilarated for a moment despite your exhaustion.
"G'night, Dave," you murmur.
He sighs, annoyance thickly audible in his exhale. Your vision grows syrupy, so you close your eyes and start to drift off. But just before you fall asleep, you hear him croon a quiet reply.
You stay awake long after he passes out.
This is the first time you remember trying to sleep in a place that isn't a filthy cage, and you're not expecting the sandman to show his face any time soon. There's too much on your mind; all the cogs in your head seem to be whirring at full speed, and it's driving you crazy. Even if your eyelids are itching and your limbs are weary, your brain is far from ready to slow down. It keeps reminding you of the crazy looks you kept getting from all the customers down in the club—if the place where such a glorified string of scurrilous assholes gather can even be referred to as a club. You're a bit uneasy over the fact that any one of them could go home and run their blubbery mouths, blabbing on about how they'd seen a freakish crow kid skulk past them during their stay at the speakeasy.
But this last part does ease your stress a bit. You figure they can't exactly tell people where they saw you without putting their own upstanding citizenship in jeopardy. You feel your mouth turn up in a smirk as you realize that this idea of an illegal-technicality-sanctuary could've been John's plan all along. It's surprisingly clever, especially given the first impression of shrimpish mental caliber you got from him. You can't give him too much credit, however. Even though it feels like you're jinxing yourself by so much as thinking it, he still hasn't gotten you through any really big messes.
Now that this contemplation has relieved its bowels all over your mental plane before collapsing, your brain trades it for a fresher specimen. You're suddenly reminded of how Snarky Broad's mother called her your neice. Your nose wrinkles in confusion. Of course the woman's insane. She was being physically pummeled by God-knows-how-much-alcohol; there was no way in hell she meant what she said. But even as you think this, you feel odd. Almost like you're jumping to conclusions. You know you did look startlingly like your brother as a kid, and you doubt you've outgrown the similarities, which would explain how Mama Lalonde came to the conclusion that you even had a sibling instantly. And yet, for Snarky Broad to be your neice, that would mean...
You pause, sorting it out, then shudder violently.
Oh, no. Oh hell fucking no.
Your brother may have been an idiot, but even he wouldn't sleep with... that. Maybe there's a bit of resemblance to him between the spitting-image-of-her-mother majority composing Snarky Broad's appearance, but even those mocking eyes and sleek face can't prove she's related to you. Never mind the fact that being related to her would make you want to choke yourself with your own gut-snake; it just isn't feasible. She's a year younger than you at least, and if this wildly concocted brew of bullshit turned out to be true, it would mean Bro wandered off at some point in your childhood and got together with Mama Lalonde to...
You stifle the urge to gag viciously at a sudden mental image. Much is it repulses you to admit it, you're actually getting to the point where this starts making legitimate sense and you're amazed you ever questioned whether it was true.
Still, no use acknowledging an unwanted family member. You've got enough to deal with as things are. For the moment, you do feel safe (or safer than usual), but there are still a few things you'll have to deal with eventually. The most glaringly apparent of which is currently squished sloppily against your back. Groaning, you realize you're mashed up against the coldness of the wall. You have no idea how he's done it, but in the short time you were thinking John managed to claim about three quarters of the bed for himself and is now working on getting the fourth.
"Damn it, kid," you growl, flopping over. You give him a shove and he shirks away in his sleep with a snort, curling into a tight ball. Sighing, you spread your limbs again and watch him, making sure he doesn't try any sudden moves. When he doesn't, you relax a bit, blinking tiredly.
You can still tell him to go home. This is the persistent, lurking thought that started haunting ever since you got here. Thing is, you should be able to wake up tomorrow and shove him out the door without so much as a friendly slap on the back for doing the job right. You should be able to, but you don't think you can. Something has changed. He still annoys you more than you thought could be physically possible, but this feeling has already lessened considerably. He also helped you a whole fucking lot, and while that's something you'll only acknowledge in the dark while you're alone with your thoughts, you can't just take that for granted.
You kind of owe him big time.
But on the other hand, if things start to turn downhill, he could completely foil your chances of success. It's just his nature, or so you assume. He would probably end up hurting himself in disastrous proportions before letting any harm come to someone he cares about. Call it a hunch, but you're really picking up that vibe from him.
And yet... you're in his debt. And if sticking around is what he wants to do, maybe it's the right way to pay him back. Your body is too tired to let you think about this anymore, and your brain is starting to get to that point as well. You close your eyes, curling your wings inwards like a blanket. The sores on your back twinge uncomfortably, but the pain is already much less significent than it was the night before. Your arms spread out a bit and your hand bumps against something. You squint open your eyes a sliver, wondering what you've run into. Your curled fingers are just barely brushing the kid's forehead.
Some thought, insane with tiredless and therefore pretty damn dismissable, notes it feels sort of nice. Comforting, maybe. To have somebody there, actually caring about you.
That isn't something you've felt in years, so you close your eyes again and enjoy the feeling while you can, before the sun heaves itself into the sky and you forget all about tonight.
The next morning, you're bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. This euphemism does not apply to Dave at all. You think it's kind of ironic, since he's the one who actually has a tail that could be bushied, but he is definitely not a morning person. The moment the sun rises, you're up and at 'em, half-jumping off the bed, the memories of the day before still fresh in your mind. You have no idea what's in store for you now, but you can't wait to find out what it is.
Dave is obviously less enthusiastic. He's also a lot less awake. After you clamber onto the wood floors and turn around, he lets out a loud groan, like you just woke him up.
Cheerily, you call out," Time to get up, Dave."
"Fuck you," he responds, lifting a hand. You assume he means to show you his middle finger, but he accidentally raises his index instead.
You laugh and coax, "Come on! Aren't you hungry or anything?"
Dave makes an incomprehensible noise at this, something between a whine and a growl.
"I am pretty sure there are a few things we ought to get settled," you tell him, trying to sound serious. There aren't actually any "things" you have in mind, but oddly enough, this does the trick. He fumbles upwards and makes a move to step off the mattress, only to tangle his foot in the covers. You wince as he caws loudly and topples forward, somehow ending up with his chest and face smushed against the floor and his rear end stick straight up into the air. Several feathers seem to interpret this as a cue to make their bid for freedom, and soon a small huddle of them is settling around Dave's head.
"I fucking hate moulting," he growls into the floorboards.
"Sorry," you say, stepping over to him and offering your hand. He gives you a strangely appraising sort of look before taking it and heaving himself up.
"Don't apologize," he orders, repeating his words from yesterday. Your mouth twists closed in an attempt to keep another sorry for slipping out. Dave seems to see this effort written on your face and rolls his eyes, reaching one clawed hand behind him to pick at his wings. A frown tugs at the corners of your mouth. Shedding feathers sure doesn't look pleasant, but Dave's made it more than apparent that your sympathy isn't welcome.
"I guess we should go downstairs," you say, feeling awkward.
"Sure." He sighs tiredly.
He follows you as you exit the bedroom and pad down the hallway. You almost jump when he bumps into your back a couple times as you descend the stairs, and you determine that his habit of sticking real close to you must be his weird way of saying hurry up. This inspires you to pick up the pace, and soon you find yourself down in the back of the shop, the same place Rose led you through last night. From there, you simply follow the sound of voices slowly bubbling up nearby, and eventually find yourself in a small, tidy kitchen. There, huddled together around the corner of a table with grins on their faces, sit Rose and Jade. They look up the moment you and Dave enter, and Jade greets the two of you happily.
"Good morning, sleepyheads!" she chimes.
Dave winces abruptly, like her voice is giving him a headache. "Tone it down, will you?" he commands gruffly, blinking slowly. "If I can avoid it, I'd like to keep my thoughts from being torn apart by a braindead flapper."
Jade giggles in a disbelieving way. "Are you talking about me?"
"I don't see any other sickeningly chipper gumdrop molls in here," he intones.
Her eyes narrow and her mirth rolls to a halt. "What, exactly, is the point of trying of calling me all this baloney?" she demands.
"It brings joy to my blackened husk of a heart," Dave deadpans. "I would be dead without the constant satisfaction I get by bringing airheads in front of the dumb-dora mirror."
"You have no reason to be so nasty," Jade insists. "We're planning on helping you, and the first thing you do today is start calling me names!" She gets to her feet, snapping, "Well, tell you what. I've had an earful, and I'm sick of all your name-calling! If you don't scram, I'll—"
"Jade!" You step up to her rapidly. "Jade, it's all right! That's just the way he talks." You try to send Dave a look of warning, something like "you are treading on dangerous waters, pal" as you mention, "He's much nicer than he seems, honest!"
"I'll believe it when I see it," Jade grumbles.
"You won't have to if you're lucky," Dave replies. You roll your eyes.
"Can we all just sit down and have breakfast?" you ask, exasperated.
Both Jade and Dave mutter quiet assents, and you sigh in relief, falling into one of the available seats. Rose, who buried her nose in the paper the moment the two of you entered, passes a plate of scones in your direction without even looking up. You blush a bit anyway, thanking her timidly. She raises her eyes for a moment and smiles at you.
You blush even deeper and thoroughly investigate the state of your hands.
About a minute passes before you regain enough confidence to reach out and grab a scone to nibble on. Dave rummages through the cupboards until he finds a loaf of bread, oblivious to Jade glaring at the back of his head the whole while, and devours half of the slices without missing a beat. Rose flaps her paper, straightening it, then folds the sections smoothly over the table.
"We should probably discuss living arrangements," she tells you.
"Oh, uh..." You swallow. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," she elaborates, "that you and Dave will have to seek employment if you want to remain here." She holds up a finger when you open your mouth to respond, silencing you. "And I'm afraid I can't allow you to seek this from just about anyone. It's not that we don't trust you, though you can't blame us for being too careful. The fact is, we simply can't afford the possibility of one of you accidentally exposing our business through overly zealous word of mouth." She taps the table a couple times, thinking silently. "That, and I doubt our friend David—" You glance over her shoulder just in time to see Dave jolt violently at the name and strangle a chuckle. "—would actually have much luck in finding a suitable source of income elsewhere given his, ah... condition." She says this last part condescendingly and Dave shoots you a look that you can read perfectly: it very clearly says, goddamn, snarky-ass broads.
"Therefore," Rose concludes, drawing your attention back in, "the most logical solution is to hire you ourselves." Her eyes rove up toward the ceiling. "This was probably the most obvious conclusion from the beginning." Winding her fingers together, her shoulders sag wearily. "Running an underground business is not simple. There are multiple jobs that often go overlooked for the sake of convenience and lack of free time." Rose gestures to the two of you. "You and Dave will be doing those jobs. Appointments involving securing shipments and suppliers, sometimes smuggling the alcohol itself, and sometimes... persuading someone to keep their knowledge of this place confidential." She stares you down with those icy, amethyst eyes. "Can you do that?"
"I... I... think I..." you stutter, taken aback by her intensity.
"We can do it," Dave answers for you.
"Wonderful." Rose nods in approval, looking tired but relieved.
"Well, John," Jade speaks up again, smiling at you. "I am really glad to have you on board." She gets up, shoots a volatile death glare at Dave, then breezes past without another word.
The three of you pause, watching her go. After a brief pause, Dave asks, "What the hell is her problem?"
After spending an entire morning dodging the inconceivably pathetic glowers of John's cousin, you're more than ready to get out of this place for a break.
You are well aware that all women are totally and incurably insane in every feasible way, but that dame is a live-wire—and not in the good way. Although, you're not actually sure what "the good way" is. Truth be told, you've never met a girl you liked. Not that this particularly bothers you. You're pretty damn savvy for a caged bird (in your opinion), and what you know from the experiences of others tells you that women are nothing but trouble. John's cousin—whose name happens to be Jade, but that's not something you're able to produce an actual notion of giving a damn about—is obviously from a fresh batch of the crazier ones. No doubt shot up from a baby boom of friskly little incurable bitches.
Oh, and she's probably on the rag, too.
Just another reason to get the hell out of dodge for a short period. And you're fortunate enough to have the only sane man in the place along for the ride. John's standing next to you at the door, fresh clothes from God-knows-where bundled up around his body. He swathes a pale red scarf around his neck, and this reminds you that the weather's getting colder. That's yet another thing you can add to your collection of totally foreign incidents that are normal to everyone else. You've never seen snow, and you've seen frost maybe once or twice. The circus never stuck around in places when they got chilly; frostbite resulting from an overwhelming neglect of employees and their needs tends to be shitty for business.
You yourself are shrugging on the same jacket John nabbed for you last night. It's a bit irritating when it smushes your wings up against your back, but you definitely prefer the small amount of annoyance it brings to the option of people gawping at you everywhere you go. That, and you're not looking for a one-way ticket back to that cany hellpit just yet. John pops a bowler hat on your head and you almost smirk when you see he has to get up on his tiptoes to do it. You mentally promise yourself you'll make a big show of leaning down next time he tries something similar.
"So," you start, delivering the same question you already asked three times, "where are we going?"
"I already told you three times!" John replies, looking only slightly annoyed. "Rose wants us to go keep some guy from squealing on us."
You reach up with one taloned hand and scratch at your neck, which has started itching. Probably all the cold, dry air. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means," he elaborates, "he's going to get us all into huge trouble if he tries to call the police or something. And since we're part of this whole big, sort of family-ish team now, it's our job to make sure he stays quiet."
"So who is this glorified pig bladder?" you ask.
"Somebody named Tony Rogers," John announces. "Rose says he's been giving the employees here a place to sneak the alcohol—under his house or through it, I think—but now he's saying he's gonna call the cops unless Mrs. Lalonde doubles what she's paying him."
"Damn." You whistle, faintly surprised that you're vaguely interested in the oddly theatrical way John has of explaining. "So... what do we do about it?"
"This is gonna sound goofy," he confesses. "But... we're supposed to scare him."
"Scare him?" you repeat.
John nods. "Yeah! Like... a strapping young fellow such as myself—" He thumps his chest, grinning, and you snort. "—and an intimidating, crow-like gentleman telling him what to do? There's no way he can refuse a couple of real McCoys like us."
"We'll see, kid," you shake your head, chuckling a bit. "Cuz if you get us lost again, I'm skinning you on the spot."
"Don't worry," John scoffs. "I got these directions from Rose."
And, as it turns out, Snarky Broad is actually coherent in the language of street-signs and boulevards. You find your way to what John assures you is the right place in only about ten minutes. The first thing you really notice is how dinky a dwelling it is. It's gray and worn, and kind of reminds you of an attic dollhouse so soaked with rat urine that it's begun to take on the rough consistency of an elephant's crusty shithole. Of course, that's a slight exaggeration; you also have no idea what a dollhouse in that condition actually looks like, and you truthfully don't want to see one. Either way, the place where this smarmy asshole lives just screams scummy.
The building, other than the apalling indifference of the outside, smells like acrid smoke and grease. You can practically taste the sweaty tang of underground business, and it makes you want to shudder. It's really too close to the circus for comfort. As John leads up to the porch, you fail to fight back a painful sting of uneasiness, and look around for just a split second, almost afraid you'll see a familiar face lurking in the bushes, ready to "take you home". John's hand bringing the doorknocker down with a loud clang thankfully dispels this thought, and you almost jump. Scuffling to his side, the two of you wait for a moment, staring at the door expectantly. You hear a loud, shuffling flurry of footsteps from somewhere beyond the door before a woman opens it.
She's in her sixties, or so you assume, with sleepy back eyes and an especially unremarkable face that couldn't stand out in a crowd if she were vomiting a rainbow. Her eyes travel up and down your length once, then fixate on your face rather than John's. She doesn't ask who you are or what you want. All she says, in a flat, emotionless tone is, "Mister Rogers will see you now."
You glance at John and he shrugs, every bit as bewildered as you are. You don't waste time in discussing this saggy broad's shitty manners, however, and instead follow her through the house. It's full to the brim with useless and blatantly expensive knick-knacks only an eruptively pompous fink would waste money on. Even the floor is plushed with an array of Persian rugs, albeit this one you're not going to bother complaining about. You're not sure how much suspicion the clicking noises you make while you walk might raise, but if you can avoid taking that risk in the first place, great.
Finally, you end up in an office. For someone with such an apparently sleazy character as this man, you almost expected a shitty attempt at intimidation when you entered. Like a tall-backed chair turning slowly around. Maybe a heavily-bejewled set of fingers stroking a cat's fur ominously. Possibly all of the above and not necessarily in that order. What you end up meeting face-to-face with is disappointingly droll in comparison. The man who must be Tony Rogers in sitting in a desk with a steaming pipe lolling out of one side of his mouth. His dark eyes are roving over a stack of papers, and his meaty hands are folded neatly in front of him. His hair, slicked back in the top and going grey around the sideburns, is an uninteresting black that matches his eyes. Other than this, his most outstanding adjectives are hairy, thick, and hook-nosed.
You can already tell you're not going to like him.
Glancing up from his work for only a split second, he directs the two of you to, "Leave the advance payment on the table and don't make a mess."
You wait for John to boldly announce that he'll do no such thing—something one of his disturbingy hammy book heros might do—but he stays quiet. This actually manages to bring some level of surprise to you, and you look over to see the kid is standing with his fists clenched into white balls, staring straight ahead. Several times, he opens his mouth and lets out a raspy ghost of a word, then snaps it shut again.
"The hell is wrong with you?" you demand under your breath. "I thought we were going to hand this sack of shitrags his own ass on a platter of servitude."
"What if I heard wrong?" John demands, wide-eyed. Before you can ask what he means, he goes on. "What if Rose's mom changed her mind, and Rose told me to yell at this guy for nothing? What if I get everyone into huge trouble because of it?"
"You can't waste time browning your pants over 'what ifs', kid," you reply with a sigh. This isn't enough to convince him, and you know it. But all it takes is another glance at those trembling blue pools to spur you into making a move. You step forward, crossing your arms and narrowing your eyes.
"We're not paying," you declare coldly.
Rogers looks up again, then seems to do a double take when he sees the shade of your irises, magnified through the intensity of your glare. He doesn't look down again. His voice, however, is fairly steady when he speaks. "What do you mean you're not paying?" he growls. "We had an agreement. I can't keep risking my tail for Lalonde if the profits aren't coming in." One massive hand clenches on his desk as he retains eye contact. "I want a bigger cut, or I'm calling the police."
"And what?" you snap. "How the hell do you expect them to believe you just happened to know there was a speakeasy barely near your side of town?"
His grin grows and his voice becomes snide. "I'm not a particularly wealthy man, but I am rich in what I know. And, my dear boy—" He says "boy" just to grate on you, and your teeth clench immediately, signifying that it's working. "—I know quite a lot."
"So?" John tries to demand, interjecting. It's insistent but shaky, and when Roger's eyes snap onto the kid he withers visibly.
"So," Rogers states, calmly and cooly, "I have many acquaintences who have their own acquaintences, all of which know quite a lot about one another. Many of them are regular customers of your precious bar." His grin melts into a leer as he says, "Now, imagine my surprise when one day, one of them just happens to let it slip that an illegal establishment is being run through a shop relatively near here. Why, I would feel that it was my duty as a citizen to inform the enforcement of this crime immediately..." His hand lifts and begins drifting towards something you failed to notice mere seconds ago: a telephone. John whimpers loudly and you take another step forward.
"Don't touch that," you order.
"Or what?" he asks, obviously enjoying his own placid form of torment.
"Or I'll slit your fucking throat, that's what," you snarl.
Rogers is entirely unimpressed and actually releases a guffaw, throwing his head back as he does. He then leans back over the desk, smirking like the cheshire cat at you. "Right, of course you will." Snorting loudly, he declares, "I'm not afraid of a child, boy."
Your eye twitches a bit in anger, but you force yourself to inquire in a totally level voice, "You know who you should be afraid of?"
Rogers clearly thinks he's humoring you. "Who?"
"The fucking bird man," you growl, and fling your coat to the floor. You have had enough of this man's bullshit. It's time to scare the contents of his bowels right out of him. Sure enough, Rogers's eyes bulge when he sees your newly revealed features. You cross the remaining distance in a glide, holding out your clawed hand like a beacon. Rogers jerks backwards in shock as you approach, so you lift one taloned foot and thump it down on the desk, leaning forward as you dig your talons in for support. Rogers's face is rapidly losing color and you smirk, knowing that the expression could very well appear feral. Your wings are arched behind you, blocking the dusky light from the only window. You hold your hand right next to the man's face so that your clawed fingers are only slivers away from splattering the inside of his face all over his paper-coated desk. You bare your teeth for effect and he winces.
"I wouldn't try to swindle Lalonde out of a good deal," you whisper loudly. "See, she's made a lot of new friends lately. And most of them?" You lean in more and he shudders with a gulp. "Most of them are my friends, too. And, sir, I wouldn't want to be the one to disappoint my friends if I were you."
There's a long silence.
Then, finally: "S-so... the new shipments will be coming through on T-Tuesday?"
"Yep," John chirps, sounding considerably less panicked.
You can't say the same for Rogers, who is breathing patchily. You back off and watch, satisfied, as he stumbles back into his seat, sweat glistening on his forehead. Leaning down, you pick up your coat and shrug it back on, giving him a quick nod. He cringes again and you chuckle under your breath. John exchanges a few more words with the man, but you don't hear them. Even as the kid leads you out the door, you're more concerned with reliving the moment and wondering when you'll get to do this again.