Hackers with(out) Remorse - (Book 4 of the Marvelous 3 Saga)

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11a. - She's Kerosene Pt. 1

Hacker Rule #11: Watch out for hostiles planted to deviate you from your path.

“Tonight’s story: Chaos in Brooklyn as civilians have taken to the streets from Flatbush to Williamsburg in protest of the fatal shooting of 19-year old, African American male, Marquis Houston by an NYPD officer. Authorities say the Brooklyn precinct is currently on lockdown after homemade bombs were planted underneath 3 police cars, only one managing to go off with no injuries sustained. Mayor Baso made a statement earlier affirming that NYPD is doing everything it can to look into the issue.”

“Man, that’s some bullshit,” Dante said, throwing a crumpled up paper at the TV from the couch. “That’s that same fucking shit they always say. ‘We’re looking into it.’ Bull-fucking-shit!”

Shae shook her head as she sat on the floor, her back against the couch as Tiana braided her hair. “Unbelievable. That’s the 5th shooting in 4 weeks,” Shae sighed. “They’re not doing a damn thing but killin’ us. When will it stop?”

“That’s cause they be killin’ niggas for sport,” Dante said, standing to his feet. Owen leaned against the side of the couch and turned down the TV, preparing for the tirade Dante was about to go on, as was his usual.

“And Baso has the nerve to get his raggedy-ass on TV to say, ‘we’re looking into’,” Shae rolled her eyes.

“They only sayin’ that shit cause our people are on their damn doorstep ’bout to fuck their shit up! Fuck these pigs. They’re committing genocide! Marquis was 19, my nigga! 19!” Dante said angrily.

“His poor mama,” Tiana sighed as she parted Shae’s hair. “But at least Marquis has someone fighting for his justice. I hope baby boy gets it...”

“What do you mean ‘at least’?” Dante turned to her. “We stay fightin’ for our people. It’s a whole new revolution. We ain’t takin’ this shit no more.”

Tiana shrugged with a bit of defeat. “Shanay, 18 years old. Lateshia, 32, mother of 3. Angelique, 24, just got her bachelor’s....”

Dante looked at her confused. “I ain’t heard of none of them...except maybe Lateshia?”

“Course you haven’t, Dante. They’re black women. Whenever we’re the victims, everyone seems to go silent,” Tiana said, focusing on Shae’s hair. “It’s like we’re invisible in this movement.”

“That’s not true, T,” Dante said quickly. “The black community sticks together to fight for each other when one of us is-”

“Dante, I just named 3 women who were killed and you didn’t even know who they were. Because they weren’t worth mentioning like Marquis. I love our movement. I love our people. I love that we can come together and be there for each other. But where’s the consistency, bro? Why can’t we keep the same energy for our sistas as we do for our brothas?” Tiana asked, putting the comb down as she looked at her brother.

“Okay, now, I know for a fact there were marches for Lateshia,” Dante said. “Just cause we lack in some areas doesn’t mean that discounts the whole movement.”

“It didn’t even last a week, Dante!” Tiana said, getting upset. “I’m not discounting the movement, I’m saying we need to do better. Yes, we march for our people. No, we don’t use their past as a justification for what happened to them like we see the media do every damn day! But black women aren’t guaranteed those same privileges! It’s either character assassination or we’re rendered completely invisible! And fuck all else if you’re queer or trans!”

“See,” Dante said, shaking his head. “This is the kind of division they want. They want to pit us against each other. Niggas out here gettin’ shot every day, T! Black women don’t get gunned down at the same rate black men do. It’s a fuckin-”

“Dante, you’re not listening!” Tiana growled fed up as she walked up to him. “I know you have hardships as a black man. I know you’re out here just trying to survive. I’m terrified that one of these days you might walk out that door and never come back.” She grabbed his hand and looked pleadingly into his eyes. “I will never invalidate your struggles as a black man... so please... please, Dante... don’t invalidate mine as a black woman.”

Dante’s jaw tensed with anxiety as he took in his sister’s helpless expression. “...We really ignore y’all?” he asked finally. Tiana averted her gaze and Dante looked at Shae. “Do we?” Dante persisted.

Shae looked at him and sighed. “It’s fucked up, D. Black women are at the forefront of this movement. We started it. But y’all don’t wanna have that same energy for us... That ain’t no kinda love I’m down with, boo.”

“...Shit...” Dante groaned as he rubbed his hand over his head. “I ain’t know we was doin’ y’all like that...” Dante looked at Owen. “Did you?”

Owen quickly put his hands up in surrender. “My white ass is not qualified to have a say in this conversation. Here to listen and learn. Not to speak.”

“And that’s why we fucks with you, boo,” Shae smirked, giving him a head nod.

Dante looked at his sister who seemed relieved that he was actually listening to her. “Thanks for checkin’ me, baby sis...” Dante said.

“Tiana?”

Tiana jumped startled. She nearly ripped her dog tags off of her neck that she was playing with absentmindedly. She looked up at the professor writing on the board before she glanced to her side to see David looking at her concerned. “Hey? Are you okay?” David asked with furrowed brows.

“Yea... sorry...” she said slightly embarrassed. “I’m a little tired after celebrating Shae’s birthday last night. I think my mind wandered a bit.”

“I don’t blame you. This part of molecular thermodynamics is kinda boring,” David chuckled. “Oh... jeez, you were really bored...” He brought a tissue up to her bottom lip and gently wiped a bit of drool.

“Shit, that’s so embarrassing. I’m sorry,” she said, quickly covering her mouth.

David chuckled amused. “Don’t be. It’s cute...”

“Now you just lyin’,” she teased as he laughed. She looked up into his hazel-green eyes that glanced down at her lips and felt her cheeks immediately warm over. It made her anxiety skyrocket the way David would look at her lips as if he wanted to kiss her and was actually contemplating it. But he always stopped himself.

David quickly cleared his throat and averted his eyes. “The ah... second phase of... of our project is due next week,” he said shyly.

“Oh,” Tiana said, looking down at their assignment guideline sheet. “Shit, do we have enough time to get it done? That crept up on us so fast. This class is no joke.”

“Tell me about it,” he sighed as he scanned the document. “We might have to buckle down a bit and put in a few extra hours. Maybe we can stay in the library.”

“True, but they’ll kick us out if we stay too late,” she said, chewing the back of her pencil.

“Maybe we can go to a Starbucks... or if that’s too loud, maybe your place?” he asked.

Tiana’s eyes widened slightly. “I actually can’t,” she said quickly. “They’re um... they’re fumigating for... for pest control.” David looked at her surprised. “I mean not my apartment!” she said quickly. “But it’s like standard protocol to fumigate the whole building if one apartment unit has a problem, so you know... I’m staying with... with my friend..ss?...Friends. And they’re huge slobs. I wouldn’t want to subject you to that,” she chuckled nervously.

“Oh,” David said, confused.

“But, why not yours?” Tiana asked, quickly. “Can we work at your place?”

David’s eyebrows furrowed with concern. “Are you sure you’d be okay with that? I mean... I don’t want to make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable being alone with me. You can bring a friend or something.”

“Gosh, you’re so old school and sweet,” she chuckled. “No, I’m sure it’s fine. We need to get a bit more headway on this project. Let’s make a date.” David blushed slightly as a grin came to his face. “I mean like a project date!” she added quickly.

David chuckled softly. “I knew what you meant,” he teased.

~*~

“Gay.”

“HE’S NOT GAY!”

“Well, he sure as fuck isn’t straight,” Owen said. “Look at that tie! No hetero could wear a tie that well.”

Anna snatched the set of binoculars from Owen’s hand and stared out of the van into the lounge. “So he has nice...expensive tastes. Doesn’t make him gay,” Anna said. “Tyler, what do you think?”

Tyler leaned back against the side of the van with his hands behind his head and sighed out of boredom. “I think you’re asking the wrong Evans brother. As Owen would say, I’m too straight-white-male for my opinion to matter,” Tyler shrugged.

“Exactly. I’ve trained you well, brother,” Owen grinned.

“You’re an idiot,” Anna said, still looking through the binoculars. “Darren, are you sure that’s him? That’s Cryptonic from HeaTWave?”

“Positive,” Darren said from the front seat. “Roger Peterson. He’s seen talking to Dante on the security footage we pulled from the file we got from The Reaper. From the reservations made on the list of the lounge, he’s supposed to be meeting his sister, Kaya Peterson, in half an hour. So, whoever decides to engage him needs to do it quickly.”

Anna sat back and looked at Owen. “We have to get this right,” she said to him. “This is Dante we’re talking about.”

“I know,” Owen said tightly. “We can’t fuck this up. I didn’t tell Tiana we were doing this because we need to be sure first...” Anna and Owen locked each other in a serious gaze.

“Just do rock, paper, scissors, or some shit,” Jason said finally from the driver’s seat.

“Jason!” Anna blurted. “We are not deciding who will confront Dante’s potential KILLER by playing fucking rock, paper, scissors!” A few moments later, Anna hopped out of the truck. She pulled down the front of her skirt and exposed her cleavage. She fixed her hair before walking towards the lounge.

“You have 20 minutes, Facade,” Darren said through the mic.

“I can’t believe she beat me,” Owen muttered as the back of his head hit the van.

“Should have rolled rock, like I said,” Jason snickered.

Anna’s hips swayed from left to right, her short black skirt contrasting well with her cream-colored legs as she stepped inside the lounge. “How do I look, boys?” she said in her mic.

“Perfect...” Darren said softly before Jason nudged his shoulder with a smirk.

“Try opening your blouse a little more and bare them puppies,” Owen said into the mic. “You know... since you’re convinced he’s straight and all.”

“Puta, I know he’s straight,” Anna muttered as she widened the opening in her shirt. “And no man has turned down these babies... ever.” Owen smirked and gave Tyler a look who just shook his head as he closed his eyes again to keep himself calm.

“Remember, Facade... You’re just trying to find out if he knows anyone at BioTech Pharma,” Darren said.

“Copy...” she said, walking up to the young guy in a dark blue suit, sitting on a barstool. He looked a bit stressed out from his ragged suit jacket, messy collar, and tie. He ran his fingers through his dirty blonde hair over and over again while looking down at his phone.

She sat down next to him as a bartender walked over to her. “Hello, Miss. What can I get for you?”

“Chardonnay, please,” she said in a soft, demure voice. She glanced over at the man in question, but he still hadn’t looked at her. She cleared her throat, but he still didn’t look her way.

“GAAAAYYYY!” she heard Owen say over the mic.

“Callaté la boca!” she whispered angrily in her mic. She moved her hand and purposely spilled a cup of water over the table. Roger quickly moved his arms out of the way. “Oh! Gosh! I’m so sorry!” she said, grabbing a napkin to wipe him off.

“It’s fine,” Roger muttered. He grabbed a napkin himself and wiped some water off of his jacket. He looked up at her to see her looking at him with big chestnut brown eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” she said again, not taking her eyes off of him. She started to wipe some water off of his jacket as well. “I can be a little clumsy sometimes...”

“Not a problem...” he said, looking back at his phone.

Anna darted her eyes at his phone, realizing she was running out of time. “Can I get you a drink? Just to make up for it?” she asked. “I feel so bad.”

“No, that’s alright. I’m actually meeting with someone in a few minutes,” he said, not looking at her.

Anna jutted out her bottom lip and dramatically pouted as she squeezed her chest between her arms to make them look bigger. “Can I at least treat you next time?”

“That’s not necessary, thanks,” he said, standing to his feet. “I have to go.”

Anna watched as Roger stood to his feet and walked away. Her teeth grind in frustration as she shot up from her stool. “Ma’am, your drink?” the bartender said, handing her the wine.

“SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS!” she growled as she stormed out. When she got back to the van, she saw Owen and Jason doubled over in laughter. “FUCK YOU!” she growled at them.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Owen said, wiping the tears from his eyes. “We should be taking this more seriously. But, I just- I can’t-” Owen said, slapping his hand on the bottom of the van.

“You guys are dicks,” she said, hopping in the van. “FINE! You were right! He’s gay!”

“Actually, you’re both wrong,” Darren said. He pulled up footage on his laptop from the camera in the restaurant that he hacked into. They all leaned in and peered to see Roger sitting in a private booth, locking lips with his sister.

“MIERDA!” Anna blurted.

“That’s fucking gross,” Tyler said, curling his lip up in disgust.

“They’ve gotta be from Alabama...” Owen muttered.

“And there we go. Lannister shit...” Jason shook his head with a smirk.

~*~

Tiana walked into the kitchen to see Jason standing at the counter in only his sweats as he stirred a pot of tomato sauce. “I keep forgetting you’re like... allergic to shirts,” Tiana teased as she walked to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water.

Jason glanced back at her and smirked. “Clothes are too restricting. Free the body, free the soul. You should try it sometime.”

Tiana rolled her eyes. “Alright, ya damn hippie,” she said, taking a sip from the bottle. “What are you doing?”

“Got hungry after our last failed operation. Decided to grab a bite to eat while the rest debrief.”

She quirked an intrigued brow. “You cook?”

Jason turned off the burner and looked at her. “Why so surprised?” he smirked. “Man’s gotta eat...” he said, slowly raking his eyes over her body.

Tiana shook her head with a smirk. “Just don’t burn yourself.”

Jason grinned as he walked to the cupboard and pulled out a mixing bowl. “How were classes?”

“It wouldn’t interest you,” she said. She spun on the stool absentmindedly, scrolling through her phone.

He turned around to face her. “You interest me. I wanna know everything about you, babe.”

“Gosh, you never turn it off do you,” she laughed. “You’re exhausting, Jason.”

“Already? But, I haven’t even fuc-” he started before she put her finger to his lips.

“Classes were fine,” she said, removing her hand. “Can’t wait to graduate.”

“Here, here,” Jason cheered. He walked back to the stove and poured spaghetti into a boiling pot of water.

“What about you?” she asked. “Did you go to school?”

Jason chuckled. “School’s not for me, babe.”

“Then how did you learn... all of this?”

“Self-taught,” he shrugged. “Owen, Tyler, and I pretty much raised ourselves after a certain point in time. Taught ourselves how to survive. We learned early on how to manipulate coding.”

Tiana gawked at him. “So fixing cars, motorcycles, creating viruses and systems... you guys learned that all by yourselves?”

“Google is a beautiful thing,” he chuckled, mixing the tomato sauce.

“Damn... I’m impressed,” she nodded. “That smells good. You better be making me some.”

Jason glanced back at her. “I’ll make you dinner if you provide dessert...”

Tiana shook her head with a smirk. “That all depends on how good the dinner is.” Jason looked at her surprised and immediately walked up to her. “I was kidding, Jason,” she laughed, stopping him with a hand to his chest.

“No, you weren’t,” he said, moving her hand out of the way. He wrapped both hands around her waist and leaned in to kiss her when she stopped him again.

“Your water is over boiling,” she said, pointing behind him. He sucked his teeth and removed himself from her to turn off the burner. She hopped off of the stool and walked over to the open counter, dipping her finger in the open tomato sauce jar. “I hope you at least put some salt and pepper in that thang. I know white people have issues with seasoning,” she teased.

Jason chuckled. “Dante roasted me enough as is and gave me a whole damn crash course on the importance of seasonings,” he joked.

“That’s my brother,” she snickered, dipping her finger in again.

Jason eyed her as she licked the sauce again, flicking it between her pert lips. “You’re a fucking tease, you know that?” he said heatedly.

“I thought that mantle belonged to you,” she smirked.

He raised an intrigued brow before he walked up to her, backing her into the counter. “Is it good enough for you?” he asked, glancing down at the sauce on her finger. She looked at him startled as he lowered his head and slowly wrapped his lips around her finger.

Tiana felt a dry lump form in her throat. Jason kept unwavering eye contact with her while he licked every bit of sauce from her finger with such sensual precision that her thighs instinctively clenched. “...Jason...” she said nervously, pulling her hand back.

“...Tiana,” he smirked mischievously as he grabbed her waist and lifted her onto the counter. She pulled back slightly before he wrapped a hand around the back of her neck to keep her from moving. He roughly pressed his lips to hers, tugging on her bottom lip as her chest fell forward from his aggression. She felt her stomach cave in as he pulled her forward on the counter towards him, his tongue entangling itself with hers.

She felt herself dampening as his fingers gently stroked the outside of her thighs. He nudged her head up as his lips scoured down her chin and careened down her neck until he latched on with a soft nibble of his teeth.

His hand tugged at the clasp of her jeans before he managed to get it undone. He pulled her further off the counter until she was practically pressed up against him as his fingers reached a new level past her panties.

Jason had to bury his face into her neck just to keep down his primal urges when he first made contact with the soft, wet, delicate flesh he had been dreaming about. He knew he was already soiling his boxers with precum from how turned on he was touching her bare heaven.

Tiana panted sporadically as she grabbed onto his biceps and rested her chin on his shoulder. His fingers set her on edge as they teasingly made their way further down. She shuddered at the first touch of him stroking her clit. “...J-Jason...” she breathed out.

“It’s ‘Daddy’,” he groaned, rotating slow rhythmic circles on her clit.

“I’m-”

“Say it...” he said, tightening his grip on her waist. His finger rubbed against her opening, teasing her before he spread her lips apart and probed her sensitive bud. “I’m waiting, baby...” he said, moving his hand up to grip the back of her neck.

“D-Daddy,” she gasped as he finally pushed his finger inside her wet cunt.

“That’s a good girl,” he said, pulling her chin down. He swallowed her groans with a possessive kiss. Tiana moaned into his mouth as she felt him thrust another finger inside her. He curled his fingers upward, hitting her spot without mercy. His pace quickened with more aggression as he held her still within his grasp. She felt a hot pressure rise and instinctively tightened her thighs before quickly pushing him off with more force. Jason stumbled off of her and looked at her confused.

“I... I was about to come,” she said, trying to catch her breath.

“That was the point!” he laughed astonished. “Why the hell did you stop me?”

She jumped off of the counter and fixed her jeans before grabbing a towel and cleaner to wipe down the counter. Jason smirked amused as he walked up behind her and wrapped his hand around her waist. She instinctively shivered at his contact. “...Jason...”

“Now, why won’t you let me make you come, baby...” he said, kissing her neck as he palmed her plump chest in his hands. She arched her back and panted in want as she reached back to tug at his hair. They could hear the door slam followed by Anna and Owen yelling. Jason deeply exhaled as he reluctantly removed himself from her. Tiana turned around to fix her jeans again as Jason hopped on the counter.

“You should have just let me go instead,” Owen said.

“Okay, first of all, no. Secondly, it doesn’t matter how fucking hot you are, Owen. We need a different strategy to get through to Jamie and Cersei Lannister over there,” Anna said, storming to the fridge.

“Are we seriously calling them the Lannisters?” Joey asked, leaning against the wall.

“You didn’t see them lock lips, Joey! I had Games of Thrones PTSD, alright?! Freaking Bran was falling from the roof again in my mind! That’s how bad it was!” Anna blurted.

“It was pretty bad,” Owen snickered.

“You making dinner?” Joey asked. He walked up to the stove and smelled the aroma.

“Nearly done,” Jason smirked.

Tyler looked at Tiana who was staring at the floor and then at Jason who was sucking his fingers diligently. “Damn, Jason,” Tyler said with a raised brow. “Was it that good?”

Jason looked at him and smirked. “You have no fucking idea...”

Tiana crossed her legs and her head fell back in frustration, staring at the ceiling. “T, you okay?” Owen asked, cocking his head to the side.

She looked at him quickly. “Yea, I’m chill. How was your assignment?”

Owen sighed. “Whack. We have to start from scratch, but we’re keeping on our lead.”

“How come you guys didn’t tell me about it?” she asked. Suddenly everyone got quiet. “Nah,” she said. “Y’all can’t be reenacting Get Out scenes, getting all quiet when I ask a question.”

“It’s because... Well, we think we found Dante’s killer,” Owen said. Tiana looked at him startled.

“But, we didn’t want to tell you until we were sure... which we’re not,” Anna added.

Tiana sighed as she rubbed her shoulder. “I would honestly prefer you guys kept me in the loop. Even if you think you’re looking out for me. I’m a big girl. I can handle it,” she said, looking directly at Owen. “Okay?”

A slow smile painted Owen’s face as he walked up to her. “Okay, T... You’re right. You should come with us on the next one tonight for another lead. You down?” She smiled and nodded before watching him walk off with Tyler and Jason.

~*~

Tiana walked down the stairs to the garage to see Tyler and Jason holding up a huge heap of metal, while Owen laid underneath it, drilling. She kept silent, waiting for them to finish so as not to startle them. She bit her lip as she eyed all three of them, looking like a scene out of Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass music video.

She tilted her head to the side, admiring the way Jason’s back muscles flexed and how huge Tyler’s biceps looked as they seemed to effortlessly hold the huge chunk of metal up. As Owen curled upwards, she found herself ravenously biting her lip with how his abs crunched, sweat dripping down all six. Tiana lost track of how many times she had imagined herself running her fingers down his abs as she rode him like a horse.

“Tiana?”

She quickly looked up and realized that Owen was standing in front of her. She had gotten lost in a dirty daydream... again. “Hey,” she said, looking up at him. “Sorry... was thinking... about my school project. You needed me?”

“Yea.” Owen grabbed her hand and led her towards one of the motorcycles. “The guys and I have been working on a low-hum motor to install in our bikes to make the rides a little easier.”

Tiana looked at him startled. “Wait. You guys seriously created a whole new motor with less friction... just so I could feel more comfortable?”

“Of course, you’re part of the team now, T,” Owen smiled.

“Can’t have your soft ass complaining every time we go for a ride,” Tyler mocked.

Owen glared at his brother before he looked at Tiana. “Ignore him. Try it out and see how you like it.”

Jason stood next to Tyler as they watched Tiana swing her leg over Owen’s bike and settle down. “For the record,” Jason said lowly. “Her ass is soft. Very soft. Like a fucking pillow. You can sleep on that thing.”

“You’re a freak,” Tyler muttered.

“I see you checking her out,” Jason teased.

“I am not checking her out!” Tyler whispered angrily. “I told you she’s not my type.”

“And I’m not a sex addict. See? We can both lie,” Jason said, patting Tyler on the back.

Owen watched Tiana as her back stretched out over the motorcycle. She could feel the subtle rumble of the engine beneath her. Not nearly as rough as the past few times she had to ride with them. She glanced at Owen to see his eyes steadily on her as if he were drinking her in. His thumb methodically stroked his chin as his Adam’s apple bobbed with hunger. “Owen?” she said.

He blinked a few times until he met her gaze. “Sorry... How does it feel?”

“It feels good,” she said. “Much better than before.”

“You look good,” Owen said instinctively before clearing his throat. “On the bike. You look good on it.”

“You’ve convinced me,” she smirked. “Maybe I will consider learning to ride.”

Tyler felt that strangely familiar feeling come back as Tiana arched her back, simulating riding a motorcycle as Owen and Jason chuckled. The back of her jeans riding down slightly exposed the dimples in the small of her back, and he immediately got hot all over. “Alright, that’s enough,” Tyler said abruptly. He walked over to her and turned off the engine. “We can’t keep fucking around. We gotta go.”

Tiana rolled her eyes and hopped off the bike. “Party pooper,” she muttered. “Am I riding with you?” she asked Jason.

“Baby, you can always ride with me,” Jason winked.

“Jason, you and I need to get there early to check out the play of the field. There’s a huge street fight going on with tons of bets being placed in the system hub we need to crack into. We need to know our players before we engage. She can go with Owen,” Tyler said, cutting their laughter short. Tiana practically saw red. She wanted to jump Tyler and beat his ass to the ground with how bossy he came off.

“Sure thing, Stalin,” Jason said, rolling his eyes as he revved his engine. Tyler gave Owen a knowing look before he took off first with Jason after him.

Tiana watched Jason ride off before she heard Owen speak. “You guys seem like you’re... getting pretty close,” he said.

She turned around and looked at Owen who seemed like he was trying to mask another expression she couldn’t make out. She shrugged as she walked over to him. “I like him.” She sat behind Owen on the bike and wrapped her arms around his waist. “He’s funny-”

“You like him?” Owen cut her off. “Like as a friend? Or...”

Tiana sighed as she rested her forehead against Owen’s back. “Owen...” Her voice was faint, exhausted, and fed up. Like she was growing tired of him. He groaned as he felt her start to slide her arms away from his waist when he quickly grabbed her hand.

“I’m sorry, T...” he said, lacing his fingers with hers. He affectionately kissed the back of her hand. “I’m sorry, I’m just-”

“You keep saying sorry, Owen... Just stop already...”

He felt her relax against his back as if she were trying to comfort him, and it made him feel sick to his stomach that his jealousy was causing such a rift in their relationship. He hated that his feelings for her were only growing worse by the day. He figured it was because he never spent this much time with her before. He both hated and loved it. And it was starting to eat at him. “Are you hungry?” he asked.

“Don’t we have to catch up with Jason and Ty-”

“It won’t take a long,” Owen said, revving his engine. “We’ll stop somewhere along the way.”

~*~

Tiana leaned back against a tree and looked up as Owen walked out of the Sonic restaurant, carrying a bag of food and two milkshakes. “Strawberry vanilla shake for you,” he said, handing her a cup. “Hot fudge peanut butter shake for me. And...” he said, pulling out another item. “Two sonic cheeseburgers and an order of chili cheese fries.”

“Yum!” Tiana said, grabbing her cheeseburger and raising her milkshake. “To high cholesterol!”

“To high cholesterol,” Owen smirked as he clinked shakes with her.

“Remember the first time you took me to a Sonic out on Long Island?” Tiana asked, popping a fry into her mouth.

Owen nodded. “When we were heading back from seeing Deadpool 2,” he said, biting into his burger.

“Ugh, that movie was so good! Zazie Beetz is SO my girl crush with that badass fro she was rocking,” Tiana sighed.

“Yea, she was hot in that movie. But, I got two words for you... Josh. Brolin.”

“No way! He played Thanos!” Tiana whined.

“Okay, but his thighs,” Owen said.

“HE WAS PURPLE!”

“Purple or not, I’d still fuck him, shit,” Owen smirked.

“OWEN!” Tiana burst out laughing. “You a hot damn mess, I swear.” She looked down into her milkshake. “That was the last movie we saw with him...”

“I thought it was Infinity War,” Owen said.

“Yea, that’s what I meant,” she chuckled, wiping her face. “Shit, he doesn’t even get to see who comes back. Dammit, that is not how I’m tryna’ go out, bro. I would’ve been pissed as hell if I died before finding out if Thanos gets the smoke.”

“Hey, at least he got to see Black Panther. You two made me watch that movie like 30 times,” Owen chuckled.

“It was for the culture, homey. You’re the White Wolf to our Wakanda,” she teased.

“Sure, sure. That’s after you guys called me colonizah for a straight month!”

“It was all love, boo! Better than Dante walkin’ around sayin’ ‘heyyyyy auntie’ all the damn time,” Tiana laughed. “He’s such a damn fool, I swear.”

Owen gave a hearty laugh as he looked at the sky, thinking upon his deceased best friend fondly. He glanced at Tiana to bring up another memory when he noticed tears streaking down her face. His heart dropped as he put down his shake and immediately pulled her into his arms. “No, Owen,” she cried, trying to resist him. “I’m sorry, I-”

“Stop, T,” he said, wrapping his arms around her. He held her firmly pressed to his chest. “Just stop. I love you. I’m here, okay? I’m here.”

Tiana clutched his jacket in anguish as she sobbed into his chest. She let out a gutted cry that came from deep within as she soaked Owen’s jacket with her tears. Owen held her for a long time, letting her get out a cry that he could tell she was holding in for a really long time. Every sob that her throat choked out tore another rift inside of him. He rubbed his eyes to stop his own tears before they started. Tightening his arms around her, he kissed the top of her head.

“We don’t have to continue, T,” he said, nuzzling his face into her hair. “We can go back.”

He felt her move her face against his chest before she looked up at him with bloodshot eyes. “No,” she said. “I’m okay. I just needed to let that out. I wanna keep going.”

Owen cupped her chin and lifted her head. He peered down at her as his light blue eyes searched her own. His desire to kiss her became overwhelming and Tiana could see it reflected in his gaze. “Owen?” she said confused.

“Okay,” he said, quickly letting her chin go. He wiped her face with his sleeve and playfully grabbed her nose as she laughed, slapping his hand away. They tossed their garbage and hopped back on his bike before they set out again.

~*~

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