sincerely, me

The Extra Mile 
#1
@Kiew @Limn


Unable to choose a color or pattern and feeling that plain black was too grim looking, Kenzie instead selected a rainbow striped gift bag into which to set her gifts. Both the pen and the white-and-orange swirled peach-fragmented bath bomb were tucked into white tissue paper before being placed into the bag. Regarding her gift in her lap, Kenzie felt satisfied enough, but there remained her usual brand of uncertainty.

She was thankful therefore that she was not alone, drawing strength and comfort from her close friend who had accompanied her when the gifts were agonized over and purchased, and who accompanied her now to deliver them. Fletch pulled into The Extra Mile and parked, having offered her a ride. She could have biked but she was happy to be in his company and figured he might be curious to see Kai's reaction to her gratitude anyway. Kenzie undid her seatbelt and hopped out with the fingers of one hand curled around the handles of the bag.

"I really hope she likes them," she murmured as they headed for the shop. Instantly, she felt stupid for the comment, all too aware that she needed to continue to work on being more confident and less worrisome. Kenzie made some soft noises as she readjusted her attitude inwardly and likewise, lifted her head and straightened her posture. "If not... I tried!" She chirped, momentarily spinning around to grin at Fletch and shrug her shoulders before she continued forward a step or so ahead of him.

She would feel better for the effort even if Kai did not approve of her selections.
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#2
The last twenty-four hours had been a trip. But, like all good things (questionable or not), they eventually came to an end. Fletch pulled into the Extra Mile with a head full of thoughts. Few concerned the impending exchange, though he was happy to dwell on these privately whilst standing in as chauffeur and emotional support for his friend.

'Can't think of anyone who'd turn their nose up at a flaming pen and a bath bomb,' he lied, drawing breath to deliver pat reassurance on the tails of a but. Kenzie happened to beat him to it, so instead he gave her a nudge. 'Attagirl.'

'Kai!' Barking across the compound, he stole a covert glance at the garage; the most likely haunt for his band mate. If indeed she was here at all. 'Someone here to see you!'
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#3
 It was paperwork day. That meant the mechanic was being more of an accountant, or something like it, anyway, punching numbers into one of the more frustrating programs she'd been suckered into using. It was utterly boring, particularly to the creature in her head, which was all but asleep until it was suddenly put on alert by something. She ignored it with a practiced ease until she heard her name bellowed. She froze, fingers hovering over the keyboard. Was that Fletch? Was he - he had a visitor? Huh. Curious. She wondered who it was.

 She'd abandon the computer promptly, and would emerge from the office not in her usual blue coveralls but a company-colored button down and jeans, hair in its usual "professional" braid down her back. There was one familiar, wrinkled face, and another beside him - far less wrinkled and slightly less familiar, but known all the same. To an extent, anyway - the girl's name evaded her entirely.

 "Hey. What's up, guys," she greeted as she closed the gap between them. The garage was far warmer than her air conditioned office, for even Colorado got toasty in the middle of July.
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#4
Kai appeared on the tail of Fletch's summons, looking quite a bit different than how she had looked the first time Kenzie saw her. Her heartbeat kicked up a notch, nervous and unsure. A glance to Fletch emboldened her, and Kenzie smiled and returned the woman's greeting, eager to push past the hesitation she felt tightening around her.

"Hi! I don't know if you remember me..." It kind of seemed like she recognized her at least to some degree? "I... smashed my face into your shoulder at The Terrace. Kenzie." Brows hiked, her expression was open and mirthful before it softened under the weight of her gratitude and sincerity. "I wanted to thank you for your help that night." Kenzie, with a bit of a twitch as though she had almost forgot what she intended to, made a quick step forward and offered the rainbow bag to Kai. "I got into contact with Alina and I'm part of the pack now. Got a room and a job now and everything!"

Oh.

She felt a lurch in her gut and her mouth quirked to the side for a second for having carelessly shared a detail that need not be shared with someone who hadn't known she’d been a street rat. But Kenzie was quick to reclaim her bright and smiling expression, though she rocked on the heels of her boots as she awaited Kai's reaction to the gifts.
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#5
 The girl seemed nervous, sensitive ears picking up the shuddering beats of her heart - she had definitely seemed a little bit of an anxious mess the last time they'd met, so maybe that wasn't so unusual. She spoke, then, attempting to offer a reminder of how they'd met, and Kai chuffed a little laugh, finding it hard to forget how they'd crossed paths, exactly. She was grateful for the name supplied, though, and her eyebrows lifted some in an expression of realization. "Yeah, I remember," she interjected as the girl stepped forward, and her eyes fell to the extended rainbow bag. Wow. She must have really set off the gaydar.

 She'd take it slowly, listening to Kenzie carry on about the pack- a word that made her a little bristly in the garage full of humans, but was hardly the worst thing to say in public - and how she'd been set up nicely. She looked between the girl and the bag, and laughed a little again, feeling maybe a little stunned by her eager gratitude. It wasn't a bad thing, not really - just unexpected. "Well, uh. Glad I could help," she responded, doing well to keep her tone free of how off-guard this caught her.

 Then, figuring opening the gift in front of its giver was the thing to do here, she'd reach into the little bag. Her fingers grasped the pen first, and she'd pull it out, turning it over to inspect it with a genuine grin. "Nice." Next was the colorful ball, and removing it left the bag feeling nearly weightless. She looked at the ball with some clear uncertainty for a few long seconds, lifting it to her face to confirm that it was highly fragrant - was this a soap ball? That was... cool? "Thanks," she said - in lieu of "you didn't have to" - with measured warmth to the girl, and lowered the things back into the bag. She'd set them on her desk later.
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#6
Much to her delight, Kai seemed to like the pen. The grin she made at the sight of it was mirrored on Kenzie's face. The bath bomb however was appraised with a more uncertain look that caused instant dread to sink into Kenzie's chest. She should have went for the booze she thought, but the warmth in Kai's 'thanks' soon set her back at ease. Kenzie settled on her feet in relief. Her anxiousness over this dissipated.

"You're welcome," she said, as warm or warmer. "I didn't know what to get you, so I dragged Fletch along," she thumbed behind her at her friend. "He helped me hunt around and put up with me fretting over what to get." Kenzie laughed, and threw Fletch a fond grin over her shoulder.

"I, uhm. Yeah." One shoulder lifted in a half shrug. "Just really appreciated you steering me right before I got myself in too much trouble. You can have my number if you want... you know, in case you ever needed anything."
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#7
 Kai smirked a little in Fletch's direction at the idea of one person who didn't know her very well dragging another such person along for a gift-shopping trip. It was the thought that counted, she decided, and really who didn't like getting gifts? It was grounds for good behavior, on her part. Nosily, she wondered what their relationship was and how they'd met. Funny how wolves and coyotes seemed to intersect so much around these parts.

 The idea of needing Kenzie's help struck her as funny, arrogant as the mechanic was, and her grin grew for it. "No problem," she said with a shrug of her own. "Figured Alina might shit her pants if she knew one of her people was out there giving her a bad name." Playfully said, in Kai's sometimes harsh brand of humor. "But sure." This as she pulled her phone from her pocket and opened up a new contact page, handing it over to the girl to do the deed. Who knew, maybe it would come in handy on down the road after all.
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#8
As Kai emerged and Kenzie engaged her in the important task of delivering the gift, Fletch wandered back to his van. Not yet parked long enough to bake the exterior he lent against the broad side and hunted through his pockets.

Mostly, his attention was on Kai. What little he knew of the woman had led to an understanding her taciturn and prickly manner was by and large reserved for two legs. On four, she was an entirely different kettle of fish. Fletch liked to think a little more upfront and honest about her feelings, but who could really say?

He offered a thumbs up as Kenzie looked his way, before he bent to light a cigarette. Blew the smoke away from them both. The exchange seemed to be unfolding as well as might be expected. Though he wondered whether Kenzie smashing her face in Kai's shoulder was a true account of events, a figure of speech, or a euphemism.
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#9
"I thought she was going to eat me. She knew I had been around." Kenzie shrugged herself, but it was sheepish and accompanied by a similar smile. She knew she had fucked up and was able to take Kai's humor in stride. If she had roamed around any longer without contacting the wolf King herself, she imagined she would not be part of the pack today or that she would have been off to a much worse start.

She took Kai's phone. Entered her name fully as Kenzie Crowther, followed by her number. Then she handed it back and reached for her phone in her pocket, and after opening a fresh contact herself, she offered it to Kai. "Err..." It was such an automatic thing, to exchange numbers, that it occurred to her belatedly that maybe Kai wouldn't want to give out her number. It wasn't exactly a 'hey, let's hang out sometime!' moment, although Kenzie would be cool with that.

"No big deal if you'd rather not."

Woo, way to be awkward! Nailed it!
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#10
 It was easy for Kai to pick out the nerves in someone, some shitty predator sense probably, and she'd grin a little more for it. She'd stay well-behaved for the moment, taking the phone from the woman and beginning to tap in her own information. First name only. "Just don't go writing it in bathroom stalls, alright?" This as she handed it back. "Good to have connections though." A look to Fletch, her grin reduced to something of a smirk, leaving her curiosities unspoken. It would seem that the band and the pack had a well-laid foundation for an alliance, if nothing else. "I've gotta get back to it." She hiked a thumb over her shoulder towards her office. "Thanks again for the gifts."
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#11
"Deal." Kenzie grinned, receiving her phone and tucking it back into her pocket where it belonged, and nodding in agreement to there being goodness in connections. Kai made to leave then and Kenzie gave her a wave as she left. "You're welcome, take care!"

Returning to Fletch, her fingers grazed the underside of his wrist and she smiled warmly, appreciatively. He offered to drive her home, but she declined, reminding him playfully that she had two feet and a heartbeat and not wanting to inconvenience him when he was already more or less home himself. Besides, she had her bike and was keen to ride, feeling a spurt of energy from an exchange gone well.

Balanced atop her bike, Kenzie leaned up and pecked Fletch's cheek before her treads churned dust as she sped toward Cedar Creek.
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