timmy the turtle Who: Daniel & BB. What: BB coerces Daniel into some reptilian theft. Where: Percy's apartment. When: Late Monday afternoon.
It took all of five seconds for BB to decide on an accomplice. She pocketed the keys she'd acquired during her and Daniel's break-in involving the lobby storage room; or at least, that was what she'd taken to calling it, having no other name. Now, though, it was time to put the keys to another use.
She repeatedly knocked on the door, at once trying to be simultaneously quiet and still ending up overly loud. The only other person, that she knew of, on their floor was Max, and while BB was sure the other woman wouldn't care what they were up to, BB wanted to keep the number of in-the-know people as small as possible.
"Daniel! Daniel, you. Better. Be. Home," she harshly whispered at the door, trying the knob to see if she could let herself in.
His voice carried over to her a moment later, muffled but understandable even over the rattle of the doorknob in her hands. "I'm coming," he yelled. "Jesus Christ..."
The door swung open. Daniel was dressed for the gym in black basketball shorts and a white tee that read KISS MY A_S. He had a bottle of water in his hand and black earbuds hanging out of one pocket. His plans for the afternoon were clear, but after he took one look at BB's face, it was equally obvious he would not see those plans come to fruition. He sighed, pushing the door open to let her inside. "What's up? Should I get myself comfortable for this or are you not gonna be long?"
"We," she corrected as she stepped into his apartment as the door swung wide. She stopped just inside the entryway, spinning to make the knee-length pink skirt she was wearing swirl with her movements. Settling her hands over her chest, she fixed Daniel with as serious a look as she could manage.
"We aren't gonna be long, because I need you to help me with something. A quick in and out, because I need to put someone in their place. I mean, you don't look that busy, and you can get back to whatever you've got planned afterward." Part of her just wanted to start in on her plan and drag him along, but the other part knew Daniel probably wouldn't blindly go along with things, so she stood there, waiting for the inevitable questions. "I need you to be lookout, and maybe help me carry something if it's heavy. You can handle that, right?"
"This all sounds real shady. Am I gonna end up in a holding cell again? I think I've had enough of that for a minute." He folded his arms over his chest, setting his earbuds to swinging against his leg. He sighed again, disappointed in himself for even wanting to ask the questions dancing at the tip of his tongue. "All right. Who's this about, what did they do, and how heavy are we talkin'?"
BB sighed, rolling her eyes before holding up a hand, counting down via folded fingers the answers to his questions. "Percy, he keeps stalking me, and I don't know, how heavy do you think a turtle is?"
Daniel blinked. Her responses seemed to have registered, but he had no idea quite what to make of any of them. "Um… okay… like a snapping turtle? Do I need gloves for this?"
The longer he thought on it, the more interested in this bizarre task. He motioned her out and into the hall, locking the door behind them the moment they were outside. He lowered his voice to a whisper. "So what are we doin' with this turtle once we've got it? It's not stayin' with me."
"No," she shot back, almost offended. "The thing stays with me. Gonna make him regret picking on me if it's the last thing I do. And I don't know what kind of fucking turtle it is, we'll figure out it by ear." She didn't mention the perceived slight at Percy's otherwise harmless flirtation with Alice, or the simple fact that they'd run into each other in a few places. No, the true cause of her ire was the backlash she'd received over her article; retracted on day one of publication! The whole world was against her, and right now, the only solution was making someone else feel the way she did.
She led Daniel to the stairs, climbing them before him as she whispered details of her plan. "He's in 301, and I've got the keys from our lobby excursion. Just watch the elevator, the stairs, you know, lemme know if someone's coming. I'm gonna go in and assess the turtle situation. He said something about it eating strawberries, leaves, that kinda crap so maybe it's small? I wasn't sure." She got to the top of one flight of stairs, the doorway to floor 3 labeled clearly. Peeking out, she saw no one in the hallway. "He's out right now, I saw him leave through the lobby."
Her co-conspirator nodded. He was far more deeply invested in this than he had any right to be; he could barely suppress the broad grin of excitement already curving his lips. He pushed open the door, creeping out into the corridor beyond. His trainers were an excellent choice for their mission, worn-in and silent on the carpeted floor. He walked out into the wider hallway as though he belonged there. Seeing no-one, he tipped his head to BB and motioned for her to join him.
Apartment 301 was close. He slid his hands into his pockets and watched the elevator doors, leaning back against the wall close to Percy's door.
BB sprang into action; her boots scuffed the floor as she crossed the distance between the stairwell entrance and Percy's front door. The keys jangled for a moment as she pulled them from her pocket; she grasped them with her free hand, glancing up and down the hall as though she'd narrowly avoided setting off an alarm. Then she started to pick through them, eventually narrowing the ridiculous number of keys to one that had the numbers three-oh-one etched in tiny lettering near its handle. She slipped it into the lock, and after a moment of doubt, the door opened without issue.
Glancing back at Daniel, she nodded briefly before disappearing inside.
He slid closer to the door, drawing it nearly shut after her. He put his earbuds in, but set nothing to play, focused instead on playing lookout while still appearing as though he was only waiting on someone. Every sound in the building suddenly seemed amplified: dogs barking outside, road noise, even an occasional thud of indeterminate origin all sounded as though they were right alongside them. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, waiting for the would-be burglar's work to be done.
BB almost sneezed upon entering Percy's apartment; it was almost like the guy didn't live there, there was so much dust. She stopped, surveying the interior; compared to her apartment, Percy was practically a neat freak, though his place had the usual amount of clutter from those constantly coming and going. Her main focus was on a twenty-gallon tank in the corner of the living room, its heat lamp making it glow like a designated quest item in a video game. BB beelined for it, bending over enough to watch the tiny box shell turtle within crawl slowly toward a small bowl of flowers she recognized from Alice's shop.
"Gonna crowd in on my stuff," BB muttered, standing up to slowly move the grate from the top of the tank, pushing it and the heat lamp off-kilter. "Gonna show you." The little thing looked harmless enough, but when she got close enough to nearly grabbing it by the front end, the turtle's head suddenly struck out and nearly bit her.
BB flung herself back, landing on the coffee table and knocking two mugs, a remote and some DVD cases off in a small rattle. Dust flew into the air, and BB sneezed loudly. Daniel's head poked into the front door shortly after.
"Be quiet," he hissed. "You wanna bring everybody runnin' before… oh hey little guy." Daniel leaned farther into the door, squinting to peer at the box turtle some distance away. "You need some help in here?" He seemed to belatedly recall his purpose, his hand curving around the doorframe while he glanced briefly back into the hall. Satisfied no-one would interrupt them, he ducked in again.
"You got him? Her? Should we bring that lamp, too? You better not kill this thing, BB, I'm not here to kill somebody's pet…"
BB scowled in Daniel's direction. "I'm not gonna kill it, I just wanna shake up his...her owner, whatever it is. Go back outside!" Without waiting to see if Daniel complied, BB got up, shook her ass off from the dust on the coffee table, and approached the tank again. This time, she carefully and slowly reached into the tank and gently picked the turtle up by its sides, holding it a little ways away from herself as both she and the turtle eyed each other.
"Now, I'm not gonna bite you, so don't bite me, OK? This is just a joke. Play along." As though having received some agreement, she carefully tucked the small reptile into one arm and knelt down to grab a bag of turtle food for good measure. She left it on the floor for a moment, pulling the tank cover and lamp back into place. Hopefully, it'd look like the turtle was hiding under its little half-log or elsewhere, and Percy wouldn't notice it's absence for a while yet.
She grabbed the food and turned to leave the apartment, not even pausing to see if anything else was amiss. The mess she'd made on the coffee table was left entirely untended. Once back in the hallway, she offered the turtle to Daniel. "Be gentle. I gotta lock the door, then we're clear."
Daniel winced as he took the turtle from her hands. He held it away from his chest, but it made no motions that could be construed as intent to attack. Satisfied, he looked back to BB, watching her lock up behind them. Then he led the way back to the stairwell door, where he waited for her to open it, burdened with reptile as he was.
"So when you said 'stalking' I'm gonna guess that's a little hyperbolic, right?" Daniel asked. "Because I'm not sure this is exactly how I'd get back at a stalker. But far be it from me to question your wisdom…"
"Shhhh," she shushed him, opening the door and motioning to take the turtle back. "You did your bit. The more you know, the more you can rat on me, so just take your plausible deniability and walk away. I'll bring some Pineapple Express by your place later, provided I'm not in jail because he decided to press breaking and entering charges." She cradled the small reptile in her hands, the keys to all the apartments safely back in her pocket. The turtle blinked its small, black eyes as though it had no comment on the proceedings.
"And you and I," she said to the little thing, "are gonna take a trip." The stairwell door closed behind the three of them, covering the wake of their theft.