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Characters  •   Lana Reed  •  James Thistle  •
Location  •  The Beach near a Factory
Factions  •   Thistle Family  •  Freeland Family  •
Date  •  2019-08-15
Summary  •  Lana enlists her best friend James as lookout while she sleuths around the McCulloch dyecasting factory. He makes a personal sacrifice to ensure that she doesn't get caught.

Always open to spending his evening doing more than loitering in the cemetery and reading -- at least, when Lana's the one asking -- James Thistle had been unsurprisingly receptive to Lana's suggestion of an adventure. The details didn't really matter to him. Not that she hadn't tried to explain the dangers of heavy metal pollution and her skepticism of the McCulloch diecast factory's compliance with state environmental standards, he'd simply been preoccupied with the dinner that comes part and parcel with his agreement to be the curious teen's accomplice. Sitting in the front seat of Lana's car, James picks at the fries she'd paid for and occasionally brings one up to his lips to munch on as he considers.

"So we're going to go watch the place and see what the patrols look like, and then you want me to be your lookout while you grab a sample?" James asks with receptive skepticism, shrugging unconcernedly and then leaning forward to peek through the windshield up at the darkening sky. "Do you have uh... Somebody that can do the thing? Analyze the sample?" he asks, taking a second to squint as he considers the science aspect.

"Precisely," Lana says as she steers her white 1989 Dodge Colt down the road. She reaches over with one hand to snag a fry, making sure to quickly put her hand back on the wheel after she plops it in her mouth. "You'll have to warn me somehow.. without like, making it obvious." She's dressed for a caper, wearing black jeans, black Converse high top All Stars and a black sweater. Her hair is tied back at the nape of her neck, and she did bring a hat to wear just in case, it's a cute feeder type hat though, not a knit one. "Yeah. I asked the chemistry teacher if she could help me with a project I was working on for a Science Fair competition..." She side eyes James. "I'm not entering a competition."

"You're such a troublemaker," James accuses Lana in an ironic tone as he meets her side-eyeing and then flings another fry at her. There's a skeptical look on his face, followed by a customary contemplative expression that all but whirs with the sound of his mind trying to tackle the problem of warning Lana -- who's likely to be well out of sight -- without being obvious about it, but if something comes to mind, he doesn't speak up. After devouring another fry, he wipes his greasy fingers on his dirty blue jeans. "So I get to sit in the car and watch you do all the work?" he asks, enthused, while Lana's Colt approaches the gravel side road that leads down towards the public side of the rocky fenced-off beach.

Playfully, Lana gasps and presses her fingertips to her chest, taking her eyes off the road but only for a moment. "Me? A troublemaker? Now way, man. I am angelic and you know it." She laughs and tries to duck the fry but isn't even sure where it went. "I mean... do you want to do the work?" she asks, looking aside to him again. "It's kind of an adrenaline rush though, sneaking in, knowing you could get caught. Oh shit, please do not let me get caught. My parents would flip! Not to mention all the other trouble i would get in... ugh. But, I have to do this!"

"I bet," James allows at Lana's mention of the excitement and thrill that comes with danger, expression betraying a mixture of envy and wariness. "I think I'll leave the heavy-lifting to you, though," he decides, flashing a smile as the ride starts to get much, much bumpier. "I'll make sure you don't get busted," the boy promises, turning to peer out the window towards the tall chainlink fence with its warning 'Private Property' signs stretching out towards the beach alongside their waterbound gravel path. "We should probably park the car somewhere a little harder to see, don't you think?" he suggests, lifting his hand to point through the windshield to a tree and some bushes just before the ridge becomes a steep decline to the rocky beach. A couple dozen feet off the gravel road, it's as good a place as any to keep the car relatively concealed.

"See. That's why I have you with me, James. To keep me safe and point out things like, I probably shouldn't park in the parking lot under the lights." Lana smiles at him again and slows down the car, pulling off the road and turning off the headlights as she creeps towards the bushes. Once parked, she lets out a breath, staring out the windshield. Her black-lined eyes barely blink and her smile fades away as her face takes on a serious expression. She licks her lips and takes another breath, letting it out slowly. "I can do this. Tell me I can do this, James." The back of her head against the headrest, she turns to look at him, her hand reaching out to rest upon his arm.

"If we're going with the parking lot, make sure to get a spot right underneath one of the cameras," James suggests to Lana helpfully while she pulls off the road and creeps into the stealthier option. "You can definitely do this," the boy reassures Lana, meeting her gaze and bringing his lips up into that fragile, ephemeral smile that's about the best he can usually manage, while bringing his other hand up to give hers a squeeze where it rests over his arm. "Think it's dark enough? Or should we wait a little longer?" he asks while moving his hand from hers to the handle in preparation to open the car door.

Lana looks around and says, "I think it's dark enough, just about. Okay. So..." She's getting nervous, it's evident, but she's a rather determined girl. She goes over her plan again. She's going to sneak down to the beach and try to get a few different samples of water, from the flow of water before the factory, directly by the factory, and if at all possible, further down. He's going to be her lookout, warning her of stray security guards or other dangers. "So, what is your signal going to be?" she asks to her bestie. "And should I rush back here, or meet you on the other side," she gestures down the road past the factory.

"Sounds good," James agrees to the details of Lana's plan thus far, though her question about his signal results in a stumped look that betrays he hasn't quite come up with a solution, just yet. "I guess I can uh. Make a bunch of noise so you know there are people coming?" he suggests. "Maybe I can slow them down if they're headed your way and give you time to finish up and hide," the boy muses, though he's clearly starting to seem a bit nervous about the plan. Bringing his hand up, he brushes his fingers through his hair and then starts to scratch at the back of his head. "Then once you're done we can meet back here," he figures. "But hopefully nobody comes at all. I'm not sure you'd be able to see or hear me well enough for me to give you a signal without making it really obvious."

Lana bites her lip as she listens to the options of signals. After, she waves a hand dismissively. "Totally. No one will come. I've watched the place a couple times at this time of night and seen no one. It'll be cake!" She leans over then and gives James' cheek a kiss. "For luck," she says, grabbing her bag that carries the bottles to collect the water in and slipping out the door. "I'm leaving the keys with you," she says, then heads off, her black clad figure soon becoming quite difficult to see.

The kiss Lana plants to James' cheek leaves him coloring in its wake, but he flashes a smile at her as she grabs her things and prepares to leave. "Good luck!" he offers up, watching the girl until she fades from sight into the darkness, at which point he extends his hand to turn the radio on and starts to dial through the channels until he finds something adequately grungy. The gravel road takes Lana safely down the slope of the ridge and to the pebbly beach itself, and she can make out a chainlink fence to her right with a padlocked gate leading to the factory's side. The beach, conforming to the curved shape of the ridge, curves which blocks most of it from view, though the hints of an inlet can be seen through the fence.

Creeping down the gravel road in a slight crouch, Lana has turned on Super Sleuth mode. She has a keen eye and keeps her gaze sweeping about, just in case. No one is in sight so far, when she reaches the fence. Slipping on a pair of black driving gloves, she double, triple checks, making sure the coast is clear before working to climb the fence. She's been practicing on the one at school when others weren't looking. She does have some cutters in her bag, just in case, but she would rather not leave so much evidence of her own around for people to find. Once over, she heads straight to the waters edge to fill her first bottle, all while James sits in the car, enjoying music.

While James gets to sit around jamming out to Nirvana in Lana's car, she goes up and over. Her first sample is quick and painless, costing her only in the splash of cool water over her black shoes. The more challenging part is yet to come; a glance to her right, towards the factory, reveals where the narrow inlet of water extends into the curvature of the ridge -- out of sight of the public beach -- until it meets the emergence of a pipe protruding from the ridge itself. Its silhouette is only barely visible as the night only grows darker, but the star- and moonlight suffice to distinguish its outline.

That is precisely her target, that pipe. Trickier to get to. She doesn't mind her shoes getting wet, though, as everyone knows, the ink will run and stain her socks and probably her feet too. Putting the first bottle away, she gets the second prepared and tries to crouch-quick-step up the beach, following the curve. It is this spot that has her more nervous. Yes, the first collection was trespassing, but where the pipe is is the center point. If someone comes along, she has a further way to go to try to escape. Heart pounding in her chest, practically forgetting how to breathe, she makes her way there. Lana can smell it, the pollution. She KNOWS she can, the closer she gets to the pipe. She could be imagining it, but in her heart of hearts, she would swear upon it. When she gets there and starts to collect, her hand is shaking a bit and panic has made her look around even more.

While nothing is within Lana's field of view, James drums his fingers idly on the dash of Lana's car while he waits, music drowning out the sound of a glorified golf cart propelling a portly security guard down the gravel road they'd entered by until he spots the headlights in his periphery. "Shit," he realizes, leaning across to kill the engine and then freeze for a second in consideration. He stares at the steering wheel for a second, tempted to start laying on the horn, but that would be the definition of obvious. There's no way Lana would get back out, if he did that. "Stall them. How am I going to stall them?" the teen turns to ask the vacant back seat, only to wince as he throws the door open. Rather than heading to the road and taking the easier path down to the water, he slides down the steep ridge to save himself time and make his way there more discretely.

Oblivious, is what Lana is, currently. She rarely misses anything, but, here at the pipe, almost everything is out of her view. She collects the water sample, smelling her now wet gloves after and wrinkling her nose. With those gloved fingers, she has some trouble screwing the cap on the bottle, nearly dropping it and losing it in the current of water. "Fuck," she murmurs to herself, lifting the bottle higher to get a better view of it in the moonlight. She can hear her heart beat in her ears now, pounding. Finally, she gets the cap on and puts the bottle away, looking around and preparing to move further up the beach, or down, as the case may be.

Meanwhile, James is frantically running down the rocky shore towards the lake -- and peeling off his clothes as he goes. The beams of light directed from the security cart's headlights as it kicks up gravel on its way down to the beach comes into view just as he's stumbling, trying to kick off his pants and boxers and toss them onto the rocks, into the shallows. During her return, inching her way back down the inlet and towards the beach, Lana can hear him whooping and hollering with uncharacteristic excitement, in what can only be a warning. The security cart comes to an abrupt halt, a flashlight joining the glaring beams of the cart's headlights and searching out the awkward, shy boy where he's elected to go skinnydipping in the chill water just outside of the gated fence. He freezes and turns to stare in feigned horror at the guard, just as Lana inches close enough to see them through the chainlink. "Son, what in the hell are you doing?" the guard's gravelly voice calls out from the ridge as he starts to descend towards the water.

Lana's head pops up at that sound. "Shit!" She looks forward, then back before creeping ahead. The light from the flashlight and golf cart shine on James' naked form and Lana's eyes go wide, her jaw dropping open. This was not the plan! Shit! But at least he is on the OUTSIDE of the fence where she, on the other hand, is on the inside.

She moves a little further away, trying to be as quick as possible, but also as quiet as possible. How she will manage to get over the fence as quietly is something she will just.. have to deal with. If she goes too fast, it will rattle, a lot, so she moves so slowly, poor cold James held captive in that spotlight. Swinging her leg over when she gets to the top she has no choice but to jump then. Yes, it will make a sound, but hopefully a thud is less noticeable than metal on metal. When she lands, she draws herself into a ball, hoping if the guard looks he won't see a humanoid figure there, but a dark spot that could be... anything? She counts silently to herself to see if she's been had before she thinks of moving. One... two... three... four... five.

Shivering in the cold water as the guard holds James in the blinding beam of his flashlight, the boy squints and then brings his hands around to his front to cover his junk, although the water does a decent job of blurring and censoring his dangling parts for the time being. "Uh..." he trails off, just staring at the flashlight until he spots Lana starting to climb over the fence above and behind the approaching guard on the ridge. "I was out for a run," James hollers far louder than entirely necessary, aiding in covering the sound of his friend jumping from thudding into the ground on the public side of the fence. "And I thought, you know. I'd uh... cool down and wash the sweat off. I didn't think anybody would be here. Nobody's ever here," he protests, then turns the tables. "What the hell are you doing here?"

The guard's head is in the midst of turning back towards the faint sound of Lana when his attention turns back towards James incredulously on the boy's challenging. "Boy, get your skinny ass out of the water and put your goddamn skivvies on," the security guard demands with obvious irritation. James complies, emerging from the water slowly with hands covering his groin, only to look around himself uncertainly. "You mind, you know. Looking that way?" James asks, pointing off to his side and towards the fence to give Lana an opportunity to slip past and stay in the guard's blindspot while he gets dressed.

Lana finishes counting, hearing James' voice louder than usual, giving her hints of when it might be safe to move. she scrambles to her feet and walks a few feet further before she takes off in a run. She is NOT an athlete, but she is fit enough to run a little distance, and light enough on her feet to not sound like wild mustangs are charging down from the mountains. She heads straight for her car, hoping the guard just lets James go. She's careful, opening the door and hopping in quick so the interior light is not on overly long, though she tries to shut the door quietly. Maybe the portly man is also a little hard of hearing. One can hope.

Breathless, she crouches down in the driver's seat, panting as she waits for what seems like FOREVER, even if it is thirty seconds. Time is incomprehensible to her at this moment.

While James is preoccupied with pulling his boxers up and starting to get dressed again, the guard doesn't seem entirely oblivious to Lana's escape, and he starts to turn -- albeit too late -- as if he'd heard something behind him up on the ridge. "Are you the only one out here? Don't have a girlfriend hiding in the bushes or something, do you, son?" the guard asks, starting to sound wary.

"Uh... no, uh. Sir," James answers, shivering and zipping up his jeans with a shaking hand. "Just me. Am I -- am I in trouble, sir?" he asks, color draining from his face as he stares up at the guard, who takes what seems to be an eternity to make up his mind.

"What's your name?" the guard asks, frowning sternly from the gravel road while James pulls his hoodie on and finishes getting dressed.

"James Thistle, sir," James answers in a quiet, penitent voice, withering under the man's glare and shaking as much from fear as from the cold. There's a pause, before the guard finally replies.

"Okay, get the hell out of here and don't let me catch you out here again." James scurries away from the beach so fast that he looks as though his skeleton is trying to claw its way free of his skin when he comes up the ridge and into the bushes, quietly opening the door to Lana's car and climbing silently inside. He's still shaking.

When James gets into the car, Lana glomps onto him, throwing her arms around him. She is shaking too, from fear alone, while he might be also shaking from the chill. "Ohmygod James! You're okay? I... you are brilliant for doing that." She pulls back a little then smacks his arm. "You could have gotten hauled in! Don't do that!" Then she is hugging him again. "I owe you.. I owe you so much."

The sudden hug from Lana puts a gradual end to James's shivering, and after a few seconds, his teeth stop chattering. He hugs her back, but releases when he finally sees the security guard's golf cart making its way back up the gravel road and back towards the entrance to the factory building itself. It's only then that he manages to let out a laugh, giddy with the excitement of having gotten out of the situation unscathed. "No one will come, she says," James teases Lana. "I've scoped it out a few nights, and haven't seen anybody!" He aims a swat back at Lana's shoulder, but then he's serious. "I told you we could do it," he reminds her with a smile. "Now uh... would you mind... you know. Turning the heat on and getting us the hell out of here?"

"Ow!" Lana says, feigning pain at his swat. "I did! And I didn't! I never saw anyone!" She lets out a breath and nods as he asks her to turn on the car. But before she does that, she lays several smooches all over the left side of his face before hopping more fully into her seat and turning the key in the ignition. "Sure sure... want a hot cocoa before I take you home? Another burger? You name it, James... its yours." She puts the car in reverse and eases out of the bushes, turning when she gets to the road to head up the way they came.