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Cold Waters

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Josh hasn't been at the Hackerspace in over a week, and it was starting to concern the other hackers.

He wasn't one to change his routine just like that, Hackerspace was practically like a second home to Josh, just like it was to the other members.

 

In the weeks before his disappearance had been unusual, but no one thought too much of it; though they all regretted it now.

Josh started to lose his cool as time went on; his coding was becoming progressively sloppier and it took him double the amount of time to finish jobs. Sometimes he would even just stare at the wall behind his screen for hours on end.

 

Now, Wrench was currently trying to dismantle a computer CPU cabinet for a look inside at his bench, but the feeling something wasn't right was gnawing at him; he couldn’t seem to focus.

 

For the tenth time in the last hour, he looked back over his shoulder to Josh’s little, dark corner of the hackerspace, hoping he would see his fellow hacker sitting in his chair like normal.

Wrench decided to give up with the cabinet and threw his screwdriver onto the table before moving to Sitara, who was sitting on the floor by the T.V. wall.

 

The woman looked up from her blank boards and unused spray cans of neon colors to look at her masked friend.

Wrench noticed the look of worry across her face, so he decided to break the tension.

"So, uh, art-block?" He states, awkwardly attempting to lighten the mood. He didn't want to bring up the situation about Josh, unless she initiated it.

 

Sitara huffed, looking down.

"Yeah, I guess," she responds, poking one of the cans nearby, causing it to topple over. The sound of metal hitting concrete echoes throughout the quiet base.

 

Her brows knitted together as he pulls her knees up to her chest.

"I just don't..." She tries to find the right words, but she seems to struggle.

 

Wrench lowers himself to the floor to sit by his friend, putting a hand on her knee encouraging her to continue.

 

She gives him a small smile but it looks forced.

 

A small sigh escapes the artist's lips, as she begins again.

"I just don't understand why he hasn't called or even just fucking texted." She doesn't have to mention a name; they both know this is about Josh.

 

She looks into Wrench’s eye display, worry still on her face.

“I haven’t asked him because I don’t want to seem like I’m overprotective or some shit,” she explains.

 

Wrench guesses this has been on her mind for a while now.

Sitara looks down, eyeing the ground “But now I.. I feel bad for not having messaged him, should I have?” She finishes looking to her friend looking for some kind of guidance.

 

Picking up a can of paint and fiddling with it for a moment, Wrench begins again.

 

"None of us have reached out to him, so you're no worse than any of us." He tries his best to encourage her, but he feels as though he's failing. 

 

"He's his own person and we gotta respect that; but I'm pretty fucking worried too, at this point." Wrench looks at his friend, feeling as hopeless as she looks. 

 

They sit in an awkward silence for a few moments, before Wrench violently slams the can down on the floor, denting the bottom of it a bit.

Sitara jumps, giving Wrench a 'what-the-fuck' look. He ignores the harsh gaze and jumps to his feet.

 

"Alright, fuck it!" He exclaims loudly, as if Sitara wasn't right beside him.

 

"I'm sick of this sad, pity-party. We're gonna fucking go straight to Josh and ask what's up." Wrench looks to Sitara, before continuing.

 

"And if he gets pissy about us invading his 'private life', then that's just how this shit adventure is gonna go," Wrench states and finishes yelling his speech.

 

Sitara gets up with a helping hand from her masked companion and looks more determined, giving his hand a small squeeze before letting go.

 

She turns to the big stairs leading out of Hackerspace.

 

"Alright, fuck it. Let's go." She tries to mask her voice with her usual swagger and calm, but Wrench knows it's forced. He simply settles for acknowledging her, jogging to meet her by the stairs.

 

Wrench sent a text to Marcus, Ray and Horatio to let them know where the two of them were going; just in case they came back while they were at Josh’s place.

 

Wrench received a 'Good luck :)' from Marcus, an 'Alright, take care!' from Horatio and a simple 'Whteverr' from Ray. That typo was probably thanks to the old man being out drinking again.

Chapter Text

The drive to the light blue house Josh is living in is quiet and feels excruciatingly long despite just being a 10 minute drive.

 

Wrench looked at the buildings pass by with his window rolled down. The wind had pushed his black hood down to pool around his shoulders, letting the cool breeze hit his exposed neck and hair.

 

Sitara kept her eyes on the road. The knuckles of her usually tan hands were going white now from the intensity she was gripping the steering wheel with.

 

They pulled up to the small house, parking by the garage; the car shaded by a big tree.

The car goes silent as Sitara removes the key and her hands drop to her lap.

 

Silence, again.

 

Wrench decides to be the one to begin this weird quest.

“You ever um... You ever been to his house?” He asks turning to face his anxious looking friend.

 

Sitara seems to snap out of her daze looking back at Wrench, his mask displaying two question marks.

She looks at the brown door to the house for a moment before looking back at him.

“No I haven’t,” She fiddles with the key in her hand.

”He just gave me the address a while ago in case of some emergency.” 

 

Wrench nods at the answer “Well! This seems like an emergency I guess so don’t worry.” He displays a winking face across his mask to her, hoping to lighten the mood and make his friend feel at least a small amount better.

 

Sitara gives Wrench a smile “Yeah I suppose.” Lightly punching his shoulder “Thanks Wrench.” 

Rubbing his arm and feigning hurt for a moment before saying “Ah you’re so very welcome” He exclaims drawing out ‘very’ in a playful manner, his eye display showing two ‘^^’ feeling happy he was able to cheer Sitara and himself up a bit.

 

Sitara’s worry might seem a little much to an outsider of their group, but Wrench understood though.

Sitara and Josh had always been close ever since Sitara and Horatio had sought him out and asked him to join Dedsec. 

She had a sort of bond the others didn’t have with Josh so Sitara’s worry wasn't a surprise, she understood him like no one else in the group.

Josh’s out of character behavior and disappearance was way too unusual; he texted her when he had bad days and opened up to her more than he did to the others.

 

She was taking it better than expected in Wrench’s opinion.

 

Walking up to the door Wrench gave her a small “Are you ready?” She nodded, her face now looking determined as she knocked on the door.

 

Footsteps were heard from inside the house approaching the door before it opened up a tiny bit. The face of a man that was definitely not Josh poking out.

He was Asian and had glasses, his bleached semi long hair tied in a bun, his black roots showing.

 

He gave them a weird look before saying “Yes?” Probably confused as to why these strangers were on his doorstep.

 

Sitara cleared her throat before speaking “We are looking for someone named Josh Sauchack.” She asked simply, seeming like she wanted to get this conversation over with fast.

 

The man’s eyes scanned them one more time “Are you cops?” He asked already giving them a hard glare.

 

Wrench sighed “Do we fuckin’ look like cops?” he asked back.

The man seemed taken aback for a second but recovered quickly “Yo chill, Josh wants me to ask whenever some new people come over, I find it a bit weird too but ya’ know.” He opened the door revealing the house behind him to the two hackers gesturing them to come in.

 

Sitara steps in first followed by Wrench “So he does live here?” She asks the man she still didn’t know the name of yet. 

 

Stopping by a door with a homemade looking sign reading ‘Keep Out’ in green marker he turns to the pair “Yeah, right down here,” pointing his thumb to the door.

He puts his hands in the pockets of his jeans before continuing “Me n’ Josh are kinda roommates if you can call it that. I have most of the upstairs area and he gets the basement to himself,” Sitara gives him a look but the man continues “I don’t expect him to talk about me we’re not really what you call friends we just kinda live together.”

 

The man looks as though he's finished, before he decides to blurt out “Oh shit! I forgot to say my name,” he slaps his forehead but is still careful not to hit his glasses “I’m Wade.” He quickly sticks out his hand to Sitara.

 

She looks at his hand for a moment but eventually decides to shake it. “I’m Sitara.” He looks to Wrench as he extends his hand but looks a little hesitant, Wrench grabs his hand and says “I’m Wrench, we’re kinda Josh’s coworkers and we haven’t heard from him in like a week so we decided to check up on him.” Hoping it will make the man now known as Wade tell them something, anything .

 

Wade sighs and pushes his glasses up his nose “He hasn't been feeling great lately, I think it’s some shit with his medication,” he has a worried look in his eyes as they travel to the door beside them; Sitara seems to tense up a little more.

 

 “I’ve been tryin’ to get him to eat or get up or just anything but I don’t know what’s up with him,” Wade seems to deflate like a balloon without air now “He doesn't wanna talk to me and I don’t know the number to anyone he knows so I’ve just been goin’ around hoping he would get better himself or someone would come.”

 

Wrench looks to Sitara and puts a supporting hand on her back; he knows he feels even worse now, not having checked up on Josh earlier so he can’t imagine what she is going through right now.

 

Looking to Wade he says “Do you think he’s alright with us coming like this unannounced?” Wade gives them a supportive look “Honestly I don’t really know what is ok with him these days, but I don’t think he would mind some familiar uh, faces” sounding hesitant at the end as he looks at Wrench’s mask.

 

Sitara looks to be finally awakened from her guilty trance and says a small “Thank you.” To Wade, giving him a smile that don’t quite reach her eyes.

 

Wade gives a simple thumbs up and turns to walk into the living room behind him, plopping down on the couch and fishing out his phone.

 

The masked man turns his attention back to Sitara “Hey, don’t worry okay?” He says calmly hoping his demeanour will rub off on her “We know he’s alive he’s just feeling a bit shit, alright?” 

Sitara looks to him “Yeah.. Yeah I know, I just want to see him and make sure he’s ok.” She takes the hand Wrench still has on her back and gives it a squeeze.

 

She turns her attention to the door beside them “Do you think we should knock?” She asks Wrench.

 

The anarchist seems to think it over for a moment and shrugs “Well he’s in a basement so I doubt he’ll hear it?” He says, mask flashing #’s in uncertainty.

 

Sitara nods in agreement  and goes to slowly open the door, there’s stairs leading down, about the same depth as the stairs down to the hackerspace.

They both notice there seems to be no light down there, maybe Josh is sleeping?

 

They give each other a look before slowly descending the stairs and are now stood in what appears to be Josh’s room.

 

To the left are two small basement windows, but there’s a thin light grey blanket held up with nails that’s stopping the light from coming in properly, but there is enough light for them to see the room.

Under the windows is a desk with a well used black office chair and a double screen pc that’s turned off; the desk is littered with soda cans.

The mouse for the pc seems to be missing, but after looking down they spot it broken on the floor by the far wall.

In the middle of the room is a small sofa facing away from them, though it seems to have been pushed backwards so it’s laying on its back, and a tv against the wall facing the sofa.

Lastly they look to the right of the room, seeing a bed there with a thick comforter and probably Josh underneath.

 

Sitara notices the room’s smell is very dense, as if no fresh air had been let in and a hint of something almost, acidic?

 

Sitara looks to Wrench, he holds out his hand as a gesture for her to approach Josh first.

 

She walks to the bed and kneels by the side of it.

 

"Hey, Josh... are you awake?" Sitara asks gently, voice calm.

 

The lump on the bed doesn't move but a voice is heard “Why are you here?”

The voice is definitely Josh’s but it’s also very different, it sounds tired and… hoarse? As if he had lost his voice and is only getting used to having it back now.

 

Sitara bites her lip looking to the ceiling for a moment “You’ve been away for a long time and we haven’t heard from you at all,” She says, keeping her voice small as to not overwhelm Josh.

 

Looking over her shoulder she sees Wrench, he looks a bit awkward as if he’s not sure what to do “Wrench is here too, if that’s ok,” She said waving Wrench over “We’ve been kinda worried, you know?” Urging Josh to tell them what’s been going on.

 

There’s silence for a few minutes before Josh speaks again, the words and tone of Josh’s usual calm voice breaking Sitara’s heart “I’m sorry” 

 

And for some reason Sitara can’t really keep it together tears escaping her eyes.

 

Wrench sees this and moves over to sit beside her.

 

“Hey man,” he begins, attempting to fake a normal-sounding tone “We just wanna know what’s up with you.”

 

He hesitantly lays a hand on the lump in the area he thinks is Josh's shoulder.

 

Sitara seems to have calmed down a bit and gives Wrench a thankful look.

 

Drying her face with the back of her hand she says “We met your roommate, he seems real nice.” all they get is a small ‘Hmm’ in response.

 

Deciding to just get to the point already, Wrench speaks up.

“Wade said.. he said you had some medication problems?” Sitara gives Wrench a death glare as to say ’What if he’s not ready to talk about it?!’

 

Wrench just gives her a ’\ /‘ look, they can’t avoid this forever.

 

The lump under Wrench’s hand moves for the first time as Josh sits up.

 

He looks awful.

 

He's missing his beanie; his hair looks messy and matted as if he hasn’t had a shower the whole week.

He’s just wearing a white t-shirt with a red Mario mushroom on it; his legs are still hidden under the comforter that they now notice is a weighted blanket.

 

Josh slowly turns his head to look at his two friends.

 

His face looks almost grey, dark circles are forming under his eyes and his lips are dry and bloody.

 

Sitara resists the urge to pull him into a hug, knowing it will only worsen whatever mood Josh was currently in, but she can’t keep her words back any longer.

 

“Josh what’s wrong?” She asks, her voice anxious as her eyes search his face for any emotion. 

 

Josh being one to never beat around the bush says “I was feeling like I didn’t need my antidepressants anymore and that I was cured , I suppose… I was wrong, now I feel like shit.” He falls backwards on the bed laying down again.

 

Sitara and Wrench give each other a look but suddenly hear something strange.

 

Laughter?

 

Josh is suddenly laughing, it’s filled with what sounds like sobs, his voice still hoarse and scratchy. 

All in all, the noise just sounded like a sad imitation of happiness.

 

He suddenly starts talking “I’m such a fucking idiot, I don’t even know how to take my meds right!” He talks fast and it’s venturing into something almost erratic “They were right! I don’t know how to take care of myself! I'm stupid, stupid, stupid !"” He yells, slamming his hand into the wall beside him, as tears begin to flow.

 

Sitara and Wrench are taken aback by Josh’s outburst; they had never seen him like this.

 

Sitara grabs Josh’s left hand stopping it from hitting the wall again.

 

“Please don’t say that shit..” she pleads “Just please talk to us” She says. 

 

Wrench speaks up next “We wanna know what’s up with you man, do you need me to get anything for you? Food? Or your prescription?” Wrench has never been great with words or uneasy situations so doing something for Josh seems better.

 

Josh is still for a few moments before he suddenly jumps out of bed, the action startling the other two.

 

He runs on weak legs to the bathroom beside the stairs, there’s quiet for a second before the sound of puking fills the silence.

 

The light in the bathroom is off so Josh is on his knees by the toilet, his sweaty legs against the cool tiles on the floor, in the darkness.

His breath heaves after finishing, staring into the mess of his own making, spitting out more every couple of seconds.

 

Hearing footsteps behind him he turns his head to the noise.

 

“Josh can I…” Saitara hesitates, her breaths echoing in the cold dark room “Can I turn on the lights?” 

 

Josh slowly shakes his head in the dark a small mumbled “No” escaping his dry lips.

 

Sitara steps closer to the man on the floor “Sorry Josh I didn’t hear you.” She sounds apologetic but the anger from before erupts as a forest fire from within Josh again.

 

Spitting one last time into the porcelain bowl before him he violently stands up, his legs weak and tired as he wobbles to stand.

 

Sitara moves closer to Josh to catch him in case his legs give in, but Josh lashes an arm forward to push her away.

 

“Stop that!” His voice rough, unused and filled with exasperation “I don’t need your help! I don’t need your help!” He yells again and again.

 

Wrench, having heard the yelling is now by the door with Sitara “Josh come on man, we just wanna help” he begs.

 

Josh feels his body filling up with white hot anger in his stomach.

His thoughts start to race with how insignificant and worthless he is.

Help me?! Why would they help me? I’m a stupid idiot, I can’t do anything right!

Messing up his coding losing his temper like a child and being an awful person all together! I  doesn't deserve help, I deserves to die in a pit of my own shitty emotions

 

Josh’s right hand moves up to his neck as he yells louder and louder, his fingers scratching his neck for some kind of release, the stinging giving the muddled thoughts in his head some kind of stimulation.

 

The artist moves towards Josh slowly; Sitara has seen meltdowns and shutdowns from Josh before but never like this.

She looked at Josh’s face, the only light there coming from the open door behind herself. There were tears escaping Josh’s eyes rolling from his cheeks to his neck and were now mixing with the beads of crimson blood flowing now from the furious scratching.

 

She grabbed the wrist of the hand not scratching “Josh, Josh do you feel that? The pressure? That's my hand, Josh. Focus on the pressure on your wrist, ok?" She pressed on the skin there in a steady rhythm, having read about stimulation like this a while ago after Josh’s first meltdown.

 

Josh shuts his eyes tight, his bloody hand suddenly coming down to slap Sitara’s hand away.

“Stop! Don't do that, don’t touch me!” he exclaims.

 

Feeling lost and unsure what to do, Sitara looks to her masked companion for help.

Their friend was hurting and she wasn't sure how to help.

 

Wrench moved in front of Sitara now, feeling pretty useless being on the sideline of this situation.

He kept his voice steady “Josh, what is it that you need?” Keeping his question short and comprehensive seems the best route.

 

Josh rubbed his forearms together turning the skin there pink, but it was better than scratching.

He looked as though he was thinking heavily; attempting to solve the sentence as if it were a puzzle.

 

He abandoned the rubbing of his arms for a second to make a fist with his hand, his pinky and thumb stretched out.

 

The two friends looked at him quizzically for a few seconds before Wrench seemed to get it.

“Oh shit, your phone?” He questioned.

A distraught whine was all they got in response as Josh pressed his back against the cold wall behind him, sliding down to the floor his hands now over his ears.

 

Wrench ran out of the small bathroom to search for the cellphone. 

Luckily it was by the computer and not thrown against a wall like the mouse that had occupied the same table before.

 

Turning back to the bathroom he saw Sitara poke her head out “Can you get his headphones too? The noise canceling ones?” She asked.

Her voice sounded flat and her eyes - Wrench now noticed in the better light - were red.

Wrench really hoped Josh would feel better soon.

 

Wrench nodded his head, afraid to make any more noise.

He wasn't good with these things; people's emotions.

He was big and loud and destructive, Josh didn’t need that right now.

 

But… he did need a friend, wrench couldn’t just abandon him right?

Sitara was here too but she looked about ready to fall apart at any second.

 

Making up his mind he walked to the bathroom to his friends, ready to support them even if he barely knew how he was going to do it.

Winging it was normally how he did shit, right?

 

On the floor Josh was handed his headphones and phone.

Sitara and Wrench opted to sit on the floor by him, but not too close to give him the space he seemed to desperately need.

But at the same time staying with him to show they were here for him.

 

The tired hacker fumbled to put the headphones on, messing up his hair even more than it was to begin with.

Picking up his phone, he unlocked it and went into his camera roll.

Half dried blood was on the screen now but Josh didn’t have the energy to care at this point.

 

Pressing his finger to the screen he selected a saved gif of an animated triangle expanding and contracting to help settle his breathing.

 

Josh placed his phone on the tiles, slowly crossing his legs before beginning to rock back and forth; keeping his eyes on the screen taking deep breaths as he tries to calm his breathing.

His hand coming down to fiddle with the hem of his shirt, a part of the white fabric turning a shade pink where his right hand smeared the blood.

 

His two friends just looked at him, relieved he was starting to look much more calm now.'

Sitara took Wrench's hand in hers then, as he looked up to her and she gave him a small smile.

 

“Thank you.” 

 

Wrench displayed two '^ ^' icons on his mask then, giving her hand a squeeze, glad both her and Josh were starting to feel better.

 

It took Josh a while to calm down before he spoke again.

His voice was raw and exhausted “I’m… sorry.” He said not looking at the others.

He lowered the headphones from his head into his lap, keeping them close in case he needed to put them back on quickly.

 

“Please don’t,” Sitara responded with a huff “We shouldn’t have overwhelmed you with questions and all that shit as soon as we came in.” She smiled at Josh despite him not looking at her.

 

“Yeah man, we didn’t have the right to barge in like that!” Wrench exclaimed a tad too loudly.

Josh pressed his hands against his ears in response to the sudden volume and Sitara gives Wrench a firm jab in the side withher elbow.

 

“Ah fuck, sorry Josh.” Wrench said, rubbing his ribs where he was hit.

 

Sitara looked Josh over.

He looked even more of a mess than before.

His hair was a greasy mess, his clothes were now bloodied too and his hand were bloody from scratching up his now red and tender neck.

 

Hesitating for a moment Sitara decides to try and continue helping Josh.

“Josh do you need anything?” She asks, remembering to keep her questions short and clear, just like Wrench did

 

Wringing his hands together as he thought over the words, he answered.

“I’m hungry.” He looked to the other hackers noticing how attentive they looked.

 

Feeling bad for them for taking up all of their afternoon here he said “You don’t have to be here,” despite wanting them to stay “I… I don’t want to keep you here.” 

 

Wrench spoke first “Fuck that, we wanna be here,” he said with a wink “What else is a crew for J?” His voice quieter than before but still cheerful.

 

Josh looked to Sitara as she crossed her arms “Yeah, what the weirdo said.” She said giving him a grin.

 

Josh instinctively smiled at the kind words and the heavy rock in his belly lightened a little.

Sitara stood up and Josh’s eyes followed the movement. She was backlit by the door behind her so Josh’s eyes squinted a little as she began to speak again.

 

“You were hungry? What do you want?” She asked, a patient look on her face.

 

“An apple… I think” he answered eyes now turning to the ceiling tracing the grey pattern there.

 

Sitara gave Wrench a quick nod before she left, a quick “Yessir” uttered from her lips.

 

They listened to her footsteps going up the stairs and a faint shutting of the door at the top.

 

Silence.

 

Wrench felt a little awkward with Josh for a second before his eyes fell on Josh’s blood stained neck. Seeing his friend like this made him a little queasy despite having seen and experienced a lot of worse wounds in his life.

 

Wrench gave the tiles beneath him two small knocks to gain Josh’s attention; his tired eyes now on Wrench.

 

“Hey man, how about we clean that neck up, whaddya say?” He asked, giving Josh room to say no if he needed to.

 

Josh lifted his bloody hand to his neck in a slow smooth motion, his fingertips ghosting over the skin there.

A pained grimace on his face flashed for a second as he gave Wrench a small nod.

 

Wrench hauled himself to his feet, using the sink to help.

He extended a hand to Josh, seeing how weak he felt it would probably be hard to get up.

 

Josh hesitantly took the tattooed hand in front of him. He stood on shaking cold legs while he held his phone and headphones in the other hand.

 

Josh seemed to be lost in thought for a moment, before speaking.

 

"Can we..." he took a deep breath before continuing.

 

"Can we do it on my bed, I'm cold."

 

Wrench gave him a nod and helped Josh into his room to sit on his bed, placing the weighted blanket on his legs now for warmth.

 

Wrench went back to the bathroom, turning on the light and now noticed the small mirror that was on the wall was cracked.

Looking into the sink he saw a busted porcelain cup.

Seeing how angry Josh was before it had probably suffered the same fate as the broken PC mouse by the wall in the other room at some point.

 

He crouched down opening the cabinet under the sink and grabbed two washcloths and a towel.

Turning on the sink he let the cold water run for a few seconds and soaked the cloths, before wringing them out and turning to head back towards his friend again.

 

He sat next to Josh and held out his hand “Can I see your hand?” He asked cautiously.

Josh held his right hand out and let Wrench go to work with the washcloth.

 

Wrench felt a little warmth at his friend’s new calm attitude, being reminded of Josh’s usual chill personality.

 

“I’m glad you’re okay.” He said, the words having left his mouth before he could stop them.

 

Josh was quiet but turned his head a bit at his friend’s words.

“I’m… not okay,” he responded biting his lip “But I will be, I think.”

 

“Do you need us to do anything?”

 

Josh was taken back but the openness of his friend “I think I need to go to my doctor,” he dried his hand on the towel as Wrench finished rubbing his hand clean of blood.

 

“I messed up my medication,” he sighed, sounding drained “So I need a new dose.”

 

The door to the basement opened again, footsteps descending the steps.

Sitara walked up to the two men on the bed with a bottle of water and a plate with an apple slices.

 

“Here ya go,” She set the plate on the mattress next to Josh and handed the bottle to him “Sorry it took so long, your roomie can be quite the talker.” She said with a laugh.

 

A smile tugged at Josh’s lips “Yeah… he can talk a lot, but he’s nice.” Josh unscrewed the lid of the bottle taking small gulps of water, the cold liquid feeling pleasant against his raw and burning throat”

 

Sitara took a pillow from Josh’s bed to sit on the floor, looking at her two companions on the bed.

 

A comfortable silence fell over the trio, the only sound being Josh taking small bites of the apple pieces and the crunching of the plastic water bottle between his fingers.

 

Wrench looked his friend over.

“So, you want me to clean your neck?” He asked, hoping he didn’t sound forceful or impatient.

But the sight of his friend looking like that was really not something he enjoyed.

 

Sitara looked at the red skin on Josh now too.

“Yeah Josh, it doesn't look too great.” She added

 

Josh sat the bottle on the floor by Sitara.

“Yes,” He said “I’m tired so please hurry.” He said

 

Wrench gave a wink on his eye display.

“You got it man.” He walked out to the bathroom to apply water to the clean cloth again, just so it was nice and cool.

 

In the bedroom Josh looked to Sitara.

His fingers instinctively picking at his cuticles anxiously.

 

Sitara noticed Josh’s fidgeting “You want one of your fidget cubes?” She asked, remembering seeing a grey one by his PC.

Josh seemed to think the question over.

“Yes please.” He responded putting his hands under his legs as Sitara stood up.

 

Walking to the table she grabbed the grey cube by the monitors, pressing the button panel a few times before handing it to Josh.

He graciously took the toy, his body rocking a bit as he moved the joystick panel in a circular motion with his thumb.

 

Josh’s eyes slipped closed as he took deep breaths.

Sitara felt calmer now as well, closing her eyes just focusing on her breath.

 

When Wrench entered the room again he chuckled a bit.

The sound seeming to wake his friends from their sitting snooze.

 

“Sorry didn’t mean to disturb your little nap.” 

 

Josh’s eyes slipped open again as he looked to Wrench.

“Do you have to do this?” He asked

 

Wrench gently plopped down on the bed.

“Well you’re free to do it yourself dude, but I think it’ll be a little hard getting all the blood off.” He said apologetically.

 

Josh shifted his thumb from the joystick to the switch, clicking it back and forth a few times.

“No it’s okay,” he said calmly “You can do it.” 

 

“Alright J, chin up please.” Wrench said holding the cloth up to Josh’s neck.

 

Josh lifted his chin and the cold cloth was pressed lightly on the skin there.

Wincing from the pain he whimpered a bit, his hand pressing hard against the cube in his hand.

 

“Sorry man.” Wrench said feeling his friend tense up.

 

Sitara looked at Josh feeling incompetent.

“Do you... do you need me to do anything?” She She asked, not wanting to grab Josh without permission like she did before, just in case it would end badly again.

 

Josh didn’t respond but pushed the weighted blanket from his leg and clapped the leg with his unoccupied hand.

His body too tired to be verbal at this point.

 

Sitara scooted her body closer to Josh and laid her tan hand on Josh’s leg providing pressure there for Josh.

She shifted the weight of her hand from the fingers to the heel of her hand and back in a repeated motion.

 

Josh took deep breaths as the cloth dabbed at the red marks littering his neck, the dried blood spots being wiped away.

His thumb was clicking back and forth on the cube fast.

 

Wrench finished up and lightly dabbed Josh’s neck with the towel, the blood now gone leaving the skin there pink and looking a little irritated.

 

“There ya go, maybe talk to your doctor about the neck too when you get that appointment?” Wrench suggested before he left and headed towards the bathroom with the cloth and towel.

 

Sitara perked up at this “You’re seeing a doctor?” She asked interested.

 

Josh turned the cube around between his fingers a few times before answering.

“Yeah… my medication is messed up, I'm gonna need new pills.” He answered, feeling embarrassed.

 

Sitara rubbed her neck looking up to Josh “Do you need a ride?” Shehesitantly took his unoccupied hand with no objection from Josh.

She lightly rubbed her thumb over the back of his hand “I know you try to take the bus to get used to it, but I don’t mind driving you Josh.” She offered giving a smile hoping he wouldn’t decline.

 

Wrench came back from the bathroom then sitting next to Josh.

“What’re we talkin about?” He asked with question marks flashing on his eye display.

 

“Sitara is gonna drive me to my appointment,” Josh answered looking into Sitara’s eyes for a second with a small smile before looking down “whenever I gather the energy to call.” He finished with a small sigh.

 

“I don’t mind helping you,” Sitara said.

She gave Josh’s hand a small squeeze “if you’ll let me stay a bit longer we can figure this out together?” She offered with a cheerful tone.

 

Josh felt like his friends had already wasted enough time on him and can’t help but feel like a burden.

“But… but what about Wrench?” He said, giving them a reason to leave.

 

Wrench leans his body into Josh with light pressure.

“Ya know I’m a grown man, I know it’s hard to believe but I can drive a car without crashing,” he said giving a small laugh “I mean, I do have to up my game a little just so I don’t hit anyone but I’ll manage… probably.” 

The masked anarchist giving a wink on his eye display to his friends.

 

Wrench jumped to his feet, giving Sitara a finger gun.

“I’ll pick you up later?” He asked a happy bounce to his tone.

 

Sitara looked to Josh to make sure he was okay with her staying.

Josh looked to Wrench for a second, thinking the proposal over.

 

He gave a small nod to the hackers.

The masked man threw a second hand gun up to Josh “Dope!”

Wrench walked up to Josh crouching down to eye his face “See you later Josh.” 

His voice held a rare calmness that Josh hadn't heard since Wrench’s mask got stolen by Dušan.

 

“See you later Wrench.” He said back trying to give Wrench a smile.

 

Sitara handed Wrench the car keys with a thankful smile.

 

Wrench stood turning to the stairs.

As he ascended the stairs he could hear his friends begin talking again.

Smiling behind his mask he exited the basement closing the door behind him.

 

Wade appeared from the living room walking up to Wrench.

"If it's okay for me to ask, is he alright?” Wade asked, his eyebrows knitted together in worry.

 

Wrench clapped the man’s shoulder “Well,” Wrench began “He’s gonna be be fine.” 

 

Wade sighed in relief “Oh man, thanks for comin’ over,” he gave Wrench a grin “you’re welcome anytime, just don’t steal my beers or some shit.” He finished with a laugh

 

A laugh escaped Wrench “Well thank you! But I can’t make any promises!” He joked

 

Wrench looked at the basement door again “Um, Sitara is gonna stay a little longer,” his voice more serious now “I’ll be around later today but I’m gonna head out now.” 

 

Wade gave wrench a smile.

“That’s fine, see you later.” He threw a fist bump up to Wrench.

 

Looking at the hand for a second Wrench lifted his fist to Wade’s knocking them together gently.

He displayed a wink on his eye display to Wade, before turning to the door behind him.

“See ya.” He announced as he opened the door closing it behind him.

 

Walking to the small car under the tree he began his drive back to Hackerspace, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel in sync with the music on the radio.

A smile on his face under his mask.