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Escape Velocipede

"Oh, hallelujah," the bottle-blond white man in the dark suit said as Angelica turned the corner. He jerked his head in her direction and his two similarly-dressed white male friends looked her way. "Maybe today won't be a total loss after all."

Angelica's steps didn't slow -- though her grip on her purse's shoulder strap tightened -- while she assessed the situation: busy street to her right, building and alleyway to her left, her destination six blocks further, and three patrolling government officials of one of several possible flavors turning toward her, very probably armed.

Further analysis: below-the-knee black pencil skirt with a matching short military-styled jacket, buttoned-down pink silk blouse, hose, and her most sensible and low-key black pumps. Shoes she could definitely run in, skirt that limited her running stride. Not the best speed possible, and she regretted the full circle skirt she had passed over for the suit. That skirt had saved her ass at least three times.

But she hadn't thought to need it in her own neighborhood.

Now the adrenaline was hitting.

She tried walking on as if she hadn't noticed, but they moved to block her. Of course. She stopped and looked at them expectantly.

"Hello, sweetheart," said Bottle-blond. "Have you been saved?"

Angelica managed -- just -- not to roll her eyes, and just said, "Yes." She'd long since learned there was no point in arguing with these guys that some people don't need saving. None of them were wearing sunglasses, at least, which this particular patrol was known for. That meant that she stood a chance of blinding them if she suddenly pushed her meager light controlling para power to its limit. That might buy her the time to get a lead on them.

"Where you off to now?" the taller, darker-haired one said with what might have been a charming smile under other circumstances.

"Church," she said, entirely truthfully. She pictured her tiny, impeccably-dressed grandmother waiting for her on the front stoop.

"On a Saturday night?" Dark Hair said, shifting forward in a predatory way.

"What church?" Bottle-blond asked, also closing in.

The third, a short, skinny man, was looking at his obviously government-issued StarLeaf in a way that Angelica distinctly did not like. There were serious disadvantages to the transmitting chips they'd put in the new Paranormal Registration cards. She kept watching him from the corner of her eye as she said, "Our Mother of Sorrows." She edged one subtle step toward the curb. Better to take her chances in traffic than down an alley she knew was too choked with crap to provide a good escape route.

Bottle-blond snorted. "Catholic? Come on, honey, why don't you let us talk to you about a real church?"

Short Guy stepped forward and said something into Dark Hair's ear. Dark Hair's lip immediately curled. "Oh, you're one of those." His hands clenched into fists.

Angelica reflected wryly that she was so very many of those that it really wasn't worth trying to figure out which one he was objecting to.

Just then, there was a screech of narrow tires, and a somewhat-familiar male voice said, "There you are! Your grandma asked me to find out why you were so late!"

All three men snapped around to look at the dark-haired, dark-skinned man perched on the rusty bicycle at the curb. He wore extremely faded jeans with holes in the knees and a black T-shirt with a long-faded concert logo of some sort on it. His bicycle -- if it was his bicycle -- had once been painted white but was now mostly painted rust, and bore a shabby plastic basket adorned with fake daises on the front.

The newcomer grinned at the trio, a knife-edged smile full of mesmerizing white teeth. Angelica took the opportunity to step around them and slung her derriere gracefully onto the handlebars, and had a brief flashback to third grade and doing the same on Pepe's banana-seated yellow Schwinn. "Can't keep Grandma waiting. Onward, James!"

She was relieved when he immediately got them moving, and restrained herself from waving at the baffled knot of white men in black. He was a skillful enough rider that they got up to speed and she only had to steady herself a little, and was even able to cross her legs at the ankle to look optimally casual.

When they were a block closer to her grandmother, Angelica risked a look over her shoulder. She saw the trio of suited backs going the opposite direction and hoped they didn't have a flyer on call.

Her rescuer grinned at her, and she said, "Thanks. A lot. You probably saved my grandma a lot of grief today. Though I know she never asked you to look for me."

"Can't have sad grandmas," he said, steering around a smashed beer bottle in the street.

"Kit, isn't it?" Angelica said, trying to ignore the adrenaline shakes that were starting. She had seen him around the neighborhood off and on for the past year or so. He did odd jobs for some folks, had tended the bar on the corner while Hector took his family back to Mexico for a visit, and hung out on stoops with various neighborly groups, drinking and laughing into the night.

"Kit Castaneda, knight errant, at your service," he said. He had tiny crow's feet around his dark eyes, and laugh lines around his mouth. His hair was long, black, and silky, blowing in the breeze, without a sign of grey. He could be, Angelica thought, anywhere between twenty and sixty.

"They're not chasing us," Angelica said thoughtfully after a moment. "You could put me down if this is tiring you out."

"Hah!" Kit said and sped his pedaling. "When rescuing a pretty girl tires me out, I should just give up and go home."

"Where's home?" Angelica said, quirking a smile back at him.

"All sorts of places," Kit said with a hint of a laugh. "So I'd better not get tired, because figuring out where to go would tire me out."

He did stop a block before her grandmother's house to let her off onto the sidewalk. She hopped off with as much agility and grace as she could muster, and smoothed her skirt down. She had a brief moment of fighting to stay upright, as the shakes tried to jelly her knees. When she straightened up, he was off the bike and standing on the curb with her. She was a little startled to find that he was a few inches taller than she was -- and she was tall for a woman.

"Can I buy you a beer or something later as a thank-you?" she said.

"After church?" he said, winking.

"Well, you could come to church with Grandma and me," she said, smiling and lifting her eyebrows.

"I'd burst into flames," he said.

She looked at him more closely. "Are you serious?" You never knew when someone was telling the truth about that in Wonder City.

"Nope, I'm Kit," he said, and beamed when she shook her head and smiled. "But I could walk you two home after, if you like."

That was a surprising relief. She hadn't realized how tense the little men-in-black encounter had made her. "I'd like," she said. "And after Grandma's safely settled in, we could hit La Playa, if you don't mind their beer."

"I drink anything as long as someone else is buying," he said, giving her a little salute and hopping back onto his bike. "Seeya after Mass."

She walked the remaining block, thinking vaguely about his spicy, slightly beery, scent and those big, dark, intense eyes. Her grandmother was standing on the stoop of her little row house, wearing a pink flowered dress and matching cardigan, clutching her immaculate white handbag.

"You're late," her grandmother said in her very slightly accented English.

"I know, Abuelita," Angelica said, bending down to kiss her on one soft, papery cheek. "You know how it is."

"You know so many people here," her grandmother said, patting her hand. "Aren't you glad you came back to the neighborhood after all?"

"Yes," Angelica said, looking around at the old buildings -- two- or three-family clapboard houses, brick apartment buildings, and a few instances of Philadelphia-style row houses like her grandmother's -- and their immaculate yards and scrubbed front steps. The neighborhood felt safer to her than any other place in Wonder City, even though the people here had known her before college and were still getting used to the new her. She caught a glimpse of Kit Castaneda's lean, angular profile lounging against a wall a block away, laughing at some story being spun by Carlos' Tia Concha and said, "Yes, I am."


Author's Note:

I'm just about under the wire for time. Eek.

Don't forget to vote for Wonder City Stories at Top Webfiction!

Date: 2012-07-12 05:54 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
....OMG, Kit is hott.

Date: 2012-07-13 03:10 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx

Date: 2012-07-12 01:55 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
Creepy. I tried to come up for other words for it, but those guys are purely creepy.

Thanks for writing!

Date: 2012-07-13 03:10 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Oh, good, yes, I was definitely trying for creepy.

Date: 2012-08-10 07:00 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Two by two, hands of blue. Two by two, hands of blue.

Date: 2012-07-14 09:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] interleaper.livejournal.com
It's strange, because the guys don't strike me as being especially creepy beyond typical street-harassing dudebro levels. It makes me wonder why some no-time-for-this-nonsense super brawler hasn't tossed them through a 9th story window yet.

...and then I think, maybe that's what Megan tried to do and look at her now. CREEPY.

Date: 2012-08-10 07:01 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
oh god I never thought of that!

Good point.


I just wanna shake Megan and Suzanne and everyone and oh gods.

Date: 2012-08-10 07:01 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Maybe Simon is safer as a dog after all. :(


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