Wren opened his door half a second before the knock. He was down in the front room anyway, looking after some chicks that needed kept inside for a couple weeks yet, and he could tell who it was – his regulars, saw them once a week at least – that girl and her buddies. Only two of them today – Fresh, the girl, blue mohawk and cheeky grin and the stick of a lollipop sticking out of her mouth, standing on the stoop with her hand poised in mid-air to bang on the door, and Dandy, the tall one, at the bottom of the steps, the crown of his top hat at eye level. “Whaddaya want today?” Wren demanded unceremoniously.

“Three of the stickies, little ones,” Fresh answered promptly. She leaned on one foot and craned her neck to see around the old guy into the house. “Whatcha got in that box? Looks like a shitty grow, you don’t want the light that close to it – ”

“Quit lookin’ in my house,” Wren growled, and shut the door in her face.

While he headed upstairs to the shop to grab their mols, Fresh flicked a grin over her shoulder at Dandy, who rolled his eyes and whistled through his teeth. Old guys, am I right?

The door opened again. Wren had three capped bottles dangling by their necks between his fingers, and his other hand out. They all knew what the going rate was on trading for these – they did it often enough – and while Fresh was counting out credit chits Wren took a look down the street. “Shake these up before you take the caps off, okay, the aluminum’s been wantin’ to settle out. So where’s your pal, the little guy?”

“Spit?” Fresh raised her eyebrows, and then lowered them mischievously and waggled the end of the lollipop stick at him. “Why, you miss him?”

Wren glared at her for a second, then shut the door in her face.

“He totally misses him,” Dandy said.

“Spit’s got an old-dude boyfriend,” Fresh singsonged, sliding down the railing of the steps and jumping to the sidewalk.

They were halfway down the block before they realized he’d leaned ’em away before they made the trade. Ments.

When they returned to Go Away House its owner once again opened the door half a second before the knock, and they made the hand-off wordlessly.

They met up with Spit two blocks down; he’d been picking up some posters from the printer, and had them tucked under his arm. Who knew where Wren was getting off calling him the little guy; he was pretty short, especially standing next to Dandy the Lamppost In A Hat, but he was stocky and muscular – well bari – and bigger than Wren was. He brushed hair out of his eyes and waved to the others.

“Hey, Spit! You got a boyfriend!” Fresh was effervescent with amusement.

Spit looked the question at both of them.

“The old guy,” Dandy said.

“He was asking about you.”

“He totally misses you.”

“All kindsa sad ’cause you weren’t there.”

“You better make sure you’re with us next time or he’ll worry.”

“And we better be careful tonight ’cause if you get hurt he might cry.”

Spit snorted. “Shut up.”

“He thinks you’re cute.”

“Do you think he’s cute? You two could hook up! We could maybe get a discount!”

“Yeah, he’s not that bad for an old guy, you could do him for a discount, right?”

“Shut up,” Spit repeated, rolling his eyes and reaching out for one of the mols.

They teased him all the way into the tunnels.

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