Gabe McInnis, Richard Massey, Oscar Dalton, the only three guys in the office who were even remotely physical. Gabe was a tall skinny guy who liked to pretend to be a knight on his off time. He had plate mail and everything. He was an excellent network security man, but his hobbies were a little awkward, but he loved a good game of paint ball. He was our team captain. He lead our rag tag bunch. We’d yet to lose a game with him at the helm. His time as a knight “his kings” army lead us to victory.
Richard was quiet and shy. He lived behind the computer except when it came to paint ball. He was a nut when it came to paint ball. He had the most expensive guns, the best ammo and gear. He went from quiet and shy to a complete other person when he was behind the paint ball gun. There was no wonder his name was Psycho in the computer world. He like me was conscripted into Metro Security because of a bad hack. If I didn’t know him in real life I would think he was like the man behind the gun instead of the screen.
And then there was Oscar. He was one of the administrative types. He’s the one who organized this bunch. He tried to lead us, but when he saw Gabe’s strategies on the field he let him have at it. He was not our boss so he could hang with us. And none of us really talked about computers outside of the office. Most of us only got together every Thursday for our weekly meetings, and every other Saturday afternoon to play paint ball out on the Island in Coram. It was a long trip to and from but it was all part of the game for us.
I had invited Nox a time or two but he felt it necessary for me to have fun with my friends. And I was grateful for that time, even though he was welcome. I think the guys would have a few issues with him – them being straight and all, and they didn’t really know much about the people I dated.
It was Richard’s turn to drive. He pulled up in front of the brown stone with his van and the rest of the guys were already there. Drake was playing in the front yard and waved good-bye shouting “Bye bye! Shoot em good!”
It had been an interesting morning explaining to the three year old that I wasn’t going to hurt anyone. He knew what Nox did for a living, and Nox’s gun, which had a fitting name – Damnation – was properly stored in a safe when he didn’t carry it. Which was most of the time. Honestly I don’t think he liked carrying a weapon anyway. Even Salvation, his survival knife stayed in the safe we’d bout purposefully for his things.
We were still having issues with him moving in. He had more things here, but the whole paperwork thing and still keeping the studio apartment was a sticking point in our relationship – at the moment it was the biggest thing we fought over. That is when Nox didn’t go into himself and just let me yell. He grew tired of the argument and would just sit there till I gave up. He assured me he was working on it. I didn’t believe him.
Gabe laughed as I sat down next to him, “Cute kid, a neighbor?”
I shook my head, “Nox’s son.”
Oscar asked, “I didn’t know Nox had a son.” Oscar was the only one who really knew about Nox, he was a friend of my dads.
“He has two actually, almost three if you include Matt. All adopted.” I said.
Richard shrugged. “I didn’t know you had a boyfriend.”
“You didn’t ask.” I smiled at him. “Not that I’d tell you anyway.”
“Oscar, did you look the boy up?” Richard asked but he was already tapping away at his phone.
Oscar shook his head, “I did. There’s nothing on the guy. I mean nothing. Birth certificate, social security card, GED record, private eye licenses, an employee record with Apex Investigations, his drivers license and one for his gun. Before Sage he had no online foot print, since then he’s got a twitter, Instagram and a website you can’t see.” Oscar laughed, “I suspect lover boy over there locked it down tight. Whatever he’s hiding it better not be illegal Sage.”
“Why are you checking into Nox?”
“Security is my job. You know that. And you are my friend. I don’t want you shacking up with some psycho.” Oscar said.
It made me laugh thinking Nox might be some psycho, he was a little mental but they didn’t need to know that. “He’s a good guy. He’s got a bit heart. I mean come on he adopts two boys who lost everything and he’s barely 23. He can’t be that bad.”
Oscar laughed, “There are no records of those adoptions. So yeah if he’s telling you he adopted them. There is a problem.”
“No. I’ve seen the paperwork. I watched him sign the second one. The first one i didn’t know him yet. It’s legit and Apex Legal will have the it and it’ll be filed appropriately.”
“Apex this, Apex that.” Richard says. “Apex Unlimited rules this guys life.”
I couldn’t help but laugh, “You have no idea. But I don’t want to talk about him. Who are we playing today?”
Gabe chimed in then, “We got one of the Aspect Teams – and from their record not the wear-nothing bar tenders who just got off shift and decided to come tank a game.”
We talked strategy the rest of the way into Long Island on a Saturday morning.
The complex was large and we had a scheduled game so we had no wait. There was a few people waiting for a game and got a little pissy when we moved ahead of them. Even Richard with his small self was miffed at them. He was getting into his gun head and he got violent when he did that.
We had a capture the flag paint ball game set up today. Not just a kill em for sport game like usual. It was required more strategy so Gabe was in heaven. We hid our flag and then we fanned out to go hunt the other team. Oscar stayed back to guard the flag. He was well hidden in his camo gear in the trees.
The three of us went out in search of their flag. We didn’t have any communication gear. Though we could have if we really wanted to, Gabe and I had set up a few games like that but more often than not the comms get blown out when they get hit by accident and that’s an expensive price of equipment even if we were all wearing bluetooth headsets. We just stayed in sight and hearing range.
We wore green vests and the other team wore black. Gabe got one of the Aspect boys in the head straight out of the game. He threw of his helmet and swore at us. We moved on while he stalked off the field to watch from a safe distance.
Thirty minutes in and we’d only see that one guy. We found their flag and were high tailing it back to our safe zone for the win. It was still a slow walk back since we had to guard the flag. And Richard was not exactly doing his job as Gabe carried the flag. He was too busy popping of shots at so-called ghosts. He thought he saw people but he was just popping of shots to waste his ammo. His good expensive ammo. Did I mention he was rich and an idiot?
There was a pop to my left and Richard swore as he was pelted in the arm with a blue shot. I turned to point my gun at that direction and got beamed in the head by a second shot – green this time. And Richard fell with a green and blue shot one in the leg and the other in the head.
Oscar was already on the sidelines and their team now had us all down and out and both flags. We lost the game. They ambushed us – fair game.
Off the field the four of us gathered and the Aspect team was grinning madly as they pulled their helmets off. I recognized most of them, one in particular made my jaw drop – I had not expected to see Nox’s rockstar among the players. He smirked at me as he and his friends walked over. One of the bouncers holding a gun with green paint balls grinned at me, “You had to turn your back huh.”
“Easy shot. I know.” I hung my head in mock shame.
Rockstar laughed. “If I’d known you were that easy…” he said it only loud enough that I heard him. None of his friends had and the guys definitely hadn’t but I couldn’t help the rush of blood to my face. “So easy…”
The big black bouncer extended his hand, “We are going for drinks around the corner, you should all join us.”
Gabe glanced at his watch, “We don’t have to be home for a while. Traffic shouldn’t be too bad if we hang for an hour or so.”
I shrugged. I didn’t care one way or the other. Rockstar slung his arm around my neck and laughed, “Then it’s settled losers treat.”
Oscar laughed, “Sage, it’s your turn.”
I rolled my eyes, “Fine. But I ain’t feed the lot of you bastards now.”
Oscar grinned, “Your boy will tho.” He said as he slapped my shoulder.
We walked to our respective cars, Rockstar’s arm still slung around my shoulder. Richard still in gun mode laughed as he sprinted past us, “Careful, his boyfriend might get jealous.”
I sighed. Rockstar looked at me with a smile. “He won’t get jealous. He did kiss you after all.”
“Where is pretty boy?” he asked.
“Home. Paintball isn’t his thing.”
“Just dancing then.” he chuckled. “This is me. See you in a few … Sage.” He said my name like he was testing how it rolled off his tongue. “I’m Dev, by the way.”
I smiled at him and walked to the van where the others were waiting on me. Gabe laughed as I sat down in my seat next to him. “Don’t you have a boyfriend?”
“I do.” I said without a blush for once. They didn’t know I’d actually gone to Aspect to see Dev – alone. And they sure as hell didn’t know why I’d gone to see him. Something I’d probably never really feel comfortable telling someone. ‘Yeah, we have an open relationship.’ I could just see the looks that people would give me. They wouldn’t understand, and I couldn’t explain.
The guys continued to razz me while we drove to the bar around the corner. It felt odd hanging with a bunch of guys I hardly knew. I didn’t actually go out with the guys often, usually we played a few more games in the facility and then went home, drinking wasn’t one of our things, mostly be cause of the long drive.
They were already there and waving us over when we walked in. The big black bouncer introduced the guys on his team starting with himself, “Dyson. This is my mate Devin.” He pointed at rockstar, then to a tall skinny kid wearing a backwards hat, “That’s Shane, and this here is Mike.” The last man was probably as big as Dyson, it really was no wonder these guys were doing so well on the field. Gabe introduced everyone else while I went up to the bar to get a pitcher or two of beer.
After I had already ordered Dev sat down next to me while we waited. He called the bar tender over and ordered a drink in hushed tones. The other man looked at me and smirked. A waitress took the pitchers of beer to our table and I frowned as Dev caught my arm and nodded to sit down. “We didn’t get to finish that drink.”
I laughed. “I was glad I was walking home after just the one, you aren’t trying to get me drunk are you?” I could feel the blush rising but I didn’t care. One thing I’d learned with Nox was that some people liked that. Nox certainly did.
Dev chuckled. “You didn’t tell me what you thought of the drink. I wanted to know if it was, ” he tapped his finger and smirked, “stiff but goes down smooth.”
Thankfully I was distracted from my embarrassment by the bartender delivering my drink. I took a big swallow and coughed a little as it burned on the way down.
Dev laughed, “Carefully there Deadshot. Don’t drink it so fast. Enjoy it.”
I nodded my head and tried to laugh while still coughing. It came out more choking. I held up my hand and he paused in whatever he was going to do. I managed to choke out, “I’m okay.”
I could already feel the alcohol taking it’s toll on my head. I didn’t drink often and it was never the strong stuff and this was strong. It took a slower smaller drink and smiled at Dev. “It’s good, if I don’t gulp it anyway.”
“Just good?” Dev pouted, though I think sticking the bottom lip out would have been over kill. I already wanted to kiss him, but there was this problem of the guys seeing and then having to explain things.
I ignored his question and grinned at him, I could feel the lazy drunk smile stay on my lips as I asked, “Other than play paint ball, what do you do when you aren’t tending bar at Aspect?”
Dev sipped at a beer. I didn’t exactly wonder why he’d bought me the same drink. I didn’t care I was talking to him, and he was talking to me now. This time he wasn’t going to go on break or whatever in the middle of it.
Dev shrugged, “I don’t know. Watch a few movies now and again.”
“Anything you looking forward to seeing?” I asked then took another sip of the drink, I didn’t even know what to call it.
But I didn’t get a chance to ask as Dev answered my question. “The Last Witch Hunter comes out later this month, that looks to be good.”
“Yeah. And who doesn’t want to go see Vin Disel.”
Dev laughed. “I will admit to wanting to see Pan though.”
“We should go see it then. At least you’d appreciate it, Nox would be so lost.”
“Nox?” Dev hummed. “Pretty boy, doesn’t like movies?”
I shrugged. “He’ll watch them with me, but he’s not really a movie kinda guy. He’d rather go for a run, or do yoga than sit down and do anything stationary. He’s got to move.” If I thought about it was probably just another coping mechanism, sitting still too long left him time to think, and Nox didn’t like to think.
Dev asked, “He wouldn’t mind you going to a movie with me?”
I smiled at him, “I think he’d be happy I was enjoying them with someone who liked watching them with me.”
Oscar was waving frantically trying to catch my attention and direct me towards the door. “The guys are ready to leave. I got to go.”
Dev nodded. “I don’t have to work tomorrow. Meet you at the theater near Aspect, we’ll see that movie say 3?”
I bit my bottom lip and nodded. “Sounds good.” I wanted to lean over and kiss him, but I didn’t.
He smirked at me like he knew what I was thinking as he nodded, “See ya then, deadshot.”
I chuckled as I took the last swallow of the drink, “Next time you’ll have to tell me what that’s called.”
Dev laughed and called out, “Not on your life, Deadshot. My little secret.”