Chapter 2

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Reed was someone everyone looked up to at the organization. He was a few years older than the rest and had an air about him that made the members seek his approval. And maybe it was because he was the very first member following Boss' creation or, he just simply stood out as a big brother to everyone.

Anyway, Trip wakes up around eleven every morning and groggily rubs his eyes before he stretches his arms high above his head. He rolls over until he falls out of his bed and then lays on the floor for a few minutes. It's odd, but he's always done that.

His morning routine begins in the bathroom where he uses the toilet, brushes his teeth, and washes his face. He looks into the mirror and runs his hand through his dark black hair as his brown eyes stare back at him. He isn't looking forward to meeting with Boss today.

Trip makes his way to the front door of the small apartment he lives in alone and steps out into the summer heat. He tugs at the top of his tank top for air and his foot taps the kickstand out from under his bike before he takes a seat on top of it.

Despite having a license, Trip lacks the money needed for a car so he relies on his bike to take him everywhere.

As he rides through the town, many people stare at him while others turn away. He always has a look on his face as if he's scowling. As if he's mad at the world.

But he isn't. He's just tired.

He glances down at his cellphone; it's an old one and doesn't work very well but again, he lacks the funds. Boss is calling and Trip sighs as he debates ignoring the call. He lets it ring a few more times before he flips his phone open and answers.

"Trip," Boss says. "Are you on your way?"

"Mhm," Trip answers shortly.

"Alright," Boss replies. "See you soon."

Trip doesn't say anything and closes his phone. He shoves it into his pocket with one hand as his other steers his bike. He's never on time to things because he wakes up late every morning but doesn't seem to care.

"Hey!" Trip hears a voice yell. He doesn't make an effort to find the source of it and continues his ride on his bike. But a figure soon catches up with his bike and sprints beside it, sweat covering his forehead and blonde hair.

His breathing is rapid and he holds out a hand to halt Trip from riding. And so, he does.

Upon recognizing the boy who stopped him, Trip frowns.

"I'm not the only one late today," Trip says as he stares at Reed.

Reed laughs and grins as he always does and places his hands on his knees as he bends over. The summer heat takes a toll on his body from running to catch up with Trip and he takes a second to recover.

"Let me hop on," Reed finally says as he stands up. "Boss is going to kill me."

Trip considers pedaling away without a second thought about the other boy but he really looks as if he's going to pass out. And if he keeps running, he surely will.

"Then you shouldn't be so late," Trip says.

Reed raises an eyebrow. "You're late too, you know."

"Yeah," Trip answers. "But there's a difference between me and you; I don't care that I'm late."

Reed puffs out a laugh. "Ballsy."

Trip steadies himself on his bike and doesn't say another word. Instead, he nods his head in the direction of the back of his bike and Reed happily steps onto the bars on the wheels. He softly places his hands onto Trip's shoulders and Trip zooms off.

He purposely pedals quickly, causing Reed to fall forward and Trip grins. It's exhilarating.

The two arrive at Boss' hideout around seven minutes after the scheduled meeting time. They cannot see him for he always hides in the shadows, but they take a seat in a circle of chairs with a single light beaming above them. Nine others reside in the other chairs and Trip glances around, taking everyone in.

Many of their faces light up when they see Reed enter the room and Trip notices a number tattooed on each one of their arms as well. Of course, they range from two to twelve. It surprises Trip when he realizes some of the members to be girls, most of which wear makeup and seem mysterious.

Soon enough, Boss' voice booms through the sketchy room and Trip jumps a bit in his seat. Reed giggles as he knows Trip isn't accustomed to these meetings since he's the newest member.

"The point of today's meeting is to introduce you to our new member," Boss says. Trip continues to look around at everyone else as Boss is nowhere to be seen. Their eyes fall on Trip as they recognize him to be the newest but he nonchalantly shrugs and lets them. He isn't bothered by the situation.

"As you all know, he's number twelve," Boss continues. "And goes by the nickname of Trip."

Trip receives some welcoming smiles from the members while others keep their eyes downcast. He thinks his appearance could be intimidating and that's why they have trouble looking him in the eye but he doesn't mind it. In fact, he prefers it that way.

"I also want to tell you some changes that are going to be happening," Boss says. "From now on, you're going to be working in pairs while one will be a team of three."

Many eyes widen but nobody dares to speak over Boss.

"I'm hoping for higher success rates this way," Boss explains. "As for the partnerships, you're going to be paired with someone who I think you're most compatible with."

Trip glances around again. He doesn't know anyone besides Reed and one other. He hopes he won't get stuck with Reed though. To Trip, they're polar opposites.

Boss begins to list off the names of those who will be working together and Trip realizes that only a few names remain. And Reed is one of them. Boss narrows down to the final three.

"Number twelve, number five, and number two," Boss announces.

"Trip, Gaze, and Reed."

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