Chapter 1

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"Shit."

A boy crouches down, shielding his body behind a dumpster and attempts to hold his breath, but he's breathing much too heavily from running away. He feels as if his panting is as loud as a grand percussion and struggles to keep quiet.

Footsteps sound from around the corner and he lowers himself further to the ground. He wishes he could just sink into it like a ghost. But he isn't dead.

At least not yet.

"Where's that little punk?"

A flashlight beams down the alleyway the boy currently hides in and he covers his mouth with his hand. His breathing has slowed and returns to normal which eliminates the risk of being heard.

Though, suddenly, a body collides with his own and he falls over onto the hard pavement, banging his head. He grasps it as blood begins to stream down his face and hauls himself back behind the dumpster.

His eyes are wide and he stares back at the person who had crashed into him. The other boy holds a finger up to his lips and wills him to stay quiet as if he wasn't already doing so.

Finally, the footsteps speed away and the beam from the flashlight ceases. The new boy breathes out a long sigh of relief and rests his back against the dumpster as he looks up at the night sky.

"What're you doing?" the first boy, who goes by the nickname of Trip asks as soon as the coast is clear.

The other boy shrugs his shoulders and chews on the string of his sweatshirt. "The same thing as you I'd suppose."

Trip dabs at his head with his fingers, checking on how much blood is seeping through the cut. "Are you poor?"

The second boy laughs and Trip pulls off his tank top, tying it around his head.

"Not quite," the other boy answers. "What's your story?"

Trip sighs. "I'm a criminal."

"Is that so?" the boy asks.

"You must be too if you're running your ass away from the cops," Trip tells him.

The boy laughs again and sits up. "Something like that."

Trip frowns. The boy is being too vague.

"Well, I've gotta get back," Trip says as he rises. His pant pockets sag with stolen items from a shop around the corner and he pulls them up as he looks down at the boy who extends a hand.

Trip raises an eyebrow but takes the other boy's hand in his and helps him up. He dusts off his pants and Trip is able to get a better look at the guy.

He's taller than Trip but much skinnier. His eyes shine a light grey and his hair is blonde, cut close to his head. He's pierced his eyebrow and red blotches mark up his neck.

"You've been busy," Trip says and the boy grins.

"Somewhat," he replies. "What's your name?"

"Trip," he replies. "Who're you?"

"Reed," the boy says. "And thanks for the necklace."

Trip glances down at his pockets and shoves his hand inside, feeling around for the gold chain. He looks up as Reed's grin widens and he holds it in the air.

"How'd you-"

"Careful, Trip," Reed warns. "You're not the only one around here with the all-mighty ability to pickpocket."

Trip curses and lowers his eyes in a glare. "Give it back."

Reed shrugs again and places the necklace around his neck. "I like it."

"I don't care," Trip says. "I need it."

"Planning to sell it?" Reed questions.

"No," Trip denies. "Boss'll have a fit."

Reed stays quiet for a moment before he replies. "He'll be fine."

Trip spits. "You don't know him."

"I know him pretty well," Reed says and Trip's eyes widen. Reed pulls up the sleeve of his sweatshirt, revealing a small tattoo in the shape of the number two.

"You're one of us?" Trip asks, the question coming out as more of a whisper.

"How's it going, number twelve?" Reed asks as his lips curve up in a lopsided grin.

Trip realizes he had been wearing a tank top and his tattoo must've been visible on his arm.

"No way," Trip says and Reed laughs.

"You're not a criminal, man," Reed says. "What's the truth behind this necklace?" he asks as he tugs on it.

Trip looks down and mumbles an answer. "It belongs to the grandmother of a little boy who lost it at a park. The shop keeper around the corner found it and put it on sale."

"Exactly," Reed says and removes it from his neck. He holds it out in the air. "Get this back to the boy, now. And return all of those gadgets in your pocket to their owners too."

Trip nods his head and takes the necklace in his hand. He clutches it tightly and stares back at Reed.

"What is it?" Reed asks.

"I'm not a criminal?" Trip asks.

"Nah," Reed says. "We correct the wrongdoings of others that may make us seem like we're delinquents. But at the end of the day, we're doing the right thing."

"I guess," Trip says.

"In a sense, we're the good guy criminals," Reed explains.

Trip stays silent and breathes out. "How many of us are there?"

"As far as I know, you're the newest member," Reed says. "So, that makes twelve."

"And you're number two," Trip says.

"Yeah," Reed says. "Of course, Boss is number one, though."

"Hmmm," Trip says. "Then why were you running from the cops?"

"I broke into a woman's car and rolled down the windows," Reed says. "Her dog was going to overheat but the alarm went off right after I broke in."

"Is the dog okay?" Trip asks.

"Of course," Reed says. "I never fail to complete a mission."

"I see," Trip says. "Well, I've gotta get these back to Boss so he can return them to their owners."

"That's right," Reed replies and smiles before he speaks again.

"And sorry about your bloody head."

———
New book lol lemme know what you think

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