finally getting somewhere

All right, so things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Vitch lost nearly a week just trying to get enough information to figure out what his next step would be. Five days of distracting himself from worrying about Sid by instead worrying about the more pressing matters of food and shelter, things he’d almost forgotten sucked really bad when you weren’t in a gang with an established turf and a little bit of stuff laid up. Four nights (it would have been five, but one evening another amp was there, so he refrained) of sitting in the Deer Bone for a few hours every night, getting known and getting an idea of who was who. Five days of getting increasingly fucking frustrated.

Then, finally, something useful, completely fortuitously.

The Deer Bone was always more or less crowded, and even when it was less it felt like more – they kept the lights low and the fans slowly spinning on the ceiling, cutting down the headroom without significantly increasing the atmosphere. Smoke swirled lazily around the fan blades, catching what light there was, and between the talking and the jukebox three people could make the room sound full. The sixth night of Vitch’s vigil was legitimately crowded, however; among the groups crowded in around the tables, playing cards on the metal surfaces that had once been highway signs, he felt one other talent. A jenny.

She was older than him, round-faced and dark-eyed, with close-cropped hair dyed blood-red and a delicately-carved ring in her nose. He hopped onto the stool next to her at the bar while the tender was occupied on the far side, to put off having to Not Order Anything because he was saving what trade he had. “Hey, I like your nose ring, it’s neat.”

She tilted her head at him for a second before smiling, and he had an awful feeling that she thought he was hitting on her and was laughing at him. “Thanks. A friend of mine made it for me – he does bone carving.”

“Oh, ‘s that what it’s made of?” He paused. Can’t just jump into a business proposition without even introducing yourself. “Name’s Vitch.”

“Jet,” she said, and then turned to talk to the person on her other side.

Vitch glared at the surface of the bar until she was looking more or less in his direction again – probably only to catch the bartender’s eye, but whatever. “Hey,” he cut in quickly, “y’know, I bet we could get ’em to give us a tab if we run up their lights for ’em.”

Jet narrowed her eyes and looked at him sidelong.

“I’m an amp,” he explained. “You don’t gotta look at me like that, what, ain’t like the pigs got the place tapped ‘n’ they’re gonna come pick us up.”

The girl on the other side of Jet laughed and punched her lightly in the shoulder. “Hey, if they did, at least you’d get an express ride to Cajo – you could meet us there!”

Vitch felt a little annoyed that the girl had been listening in on him, but more importantly, he felt A Clue Approaching. “What’s in Cajo?”

Both girls spoke at once: “The DC – ” and then the other continued, flipping dredlocks out of her eyes, “y’know, where they take you guys. For ‘reeducation’.” She wiggled her fingers ominously on that word. “Jet’s scared of it. She doesn’t even want to go to Cajo in the first place, do you, honey?”

Jet rolled her eyes and ignored the question.

“Whoa, what are the odds,” Vitch said brightly, a grin on his face and a glimmer of Hope and Ideas in his heart. “I’m heading Cajo way too!”

Which was how he ended up getting introduced to a circle of wasters – and also piss-drunk, because Jet did turn out to be amenable to earning a tab for the night. So it took nearly a week, but in the end, it was mighty convenient.

Especially since he had literally no idea where Cajo actually was.

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