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Monkey Tree

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Liza woke up slapping her arms. Trying to dispel the fire that was roasting her flesh. There was nothing there. No flames, no burning, no smoke. She took a deep breath. Tasting the air of the cave that she shared with Oliver and Daisy. Wet and earthy. The coolness of the cave calmed the imaginary burning of the smoke that filled her lungs just seconds ago. A nightmare. Liza had been having these visions for days now. Ever since Jason saved her from that burning hotel. She wanted to talk about this, she needed to; for her sanity. Maybe she should have told Jason, but he wasn't there. He wasn't there now, and she would put her life savings down that he wouldn't be there tomorrow. So, she suffered in silence. She was good at that. For the most part, she could keep her thoughts to herself. In her opinion, keeping quiet often meant less trouble. Oh, Liza Snow was feisty. But she didn't like trouble. She never sought it out. Because there was no reason too. There was no reason to fight and struggle when conflict could be easily avoided. So, she never crossed a line, never got rowdy with police offices, never argued too intensely with her friends or boyfriends. It wasn't worth the trouble. It wasn't worth the pain.

The Island brought out the worst in people though. Jason wasn't the only one affected. They all had new demons that they were struggling with. Liza had nightmares. Nightmares that she wouldn't let anyone known about. So, she kept them to herself. Quiet and reserved about her problems. Her friends didn’t need to hear about her woes, and she didn’t want them to know how hard this was for her. Not just the island, but Jason’s disappearing acts as well. She considered talking to Daisy about this, but she knew Daisy would defend him. No matter how close her and Daisy were, Daisy wanted to look at the brighter side of things. She wanted them to get the hell off this island. Perhaps, that was the reason Daisy refused to talk about Grant. Instead, she focused solely on that boat. Their “only way off this island”. Liza wasn’t too hopeful. The boat clunked and clanged whenever Daisy would try to start it. “There might be a tear in the fuel pump. If that’s the case, then I might need to ask Dr. Earnhardt if he has one. We’ll basically sink into the ocean without it working properly.” Daisy spouted off to no one in particular. She just talked to herself whenever she worked. It was a way to stay focused. Daisy but her mind and body into fixing that boat. It was the only thing she thought about, maybe to distract her from everything else. Maybe to distract her from Grant's death. Hell, Liza would have done the same if she knew jack shit about boats.

Oliver, on the other hand, was far less productive. Instead of hiding his anxieties and fears in sleep or work, he chose to get high with the doctor. Not the best coping strategy. Every afternoon he would tell them he was going to “eat lunch” with the doctor. Really, he was just stuffing his face with pills. He usually didn’t come back till late at night. Reeking of sweat and something dirty. She wanted to tell him that getting shit faced wasn’t going to help their situation; that it was pointless to drown his sorrows in foreign drugs, but who was she to really question what Oliver did. She was tired of nagging Oliver for his drug use, it never worked before, so why would it work now? Besides, he probably needed the high now more than ever. At least to calm himself down.

Liza sat up from her sleeping bag. The doctor had given them some camping gear for when the rest of their friends come to the cave. To make them more comfortable. She stood up and looked around at her surroundings. The gear made the place seem somewhat less barbaric. It seemed homier; more stable. Oliver’s tent was empty. Which meant that it was probably still late in the afternoon. She couldn’t remember when she fell asleep. Daisy wasn’t in her tent either but that wasn’t something to be concerned about. The boat served as Daisy’s tent most nights. Jason didn’t have a tent. He only ever came to the cave when he found one of their friends. He had changed so much in the past weeks. He was quieter, more serious. When he came by to deliver Oliver to them, he was so cold and pushy. He wouldn’t let her touch him. He wouldn’t let her near him. She had overheard him talking to someone named Dennis. The conversation was brief, but it had to do with talking to Citra. He wanted to be stronger. He needed her help. The whole thing gave her a sour feeling in her gut. Like she ate some bad sushi. She took another deep breath and rubbed her arms. Just to make sure she wasn’t on fire; she wasn’t going to burn today. Liza made her way to the entrance of the cave. For a second, she was worried that Daisy would question her actions, but as she slowly started to make out the pink glimmer of the sunset over the island mountains, Daisy remained silent. Maybe she was asleep after all.

Standing at the edge of the cave, Liza looked curiously out at the island. It was a different world out there. There was safety in their cave. There was some sense of order, but out there was chaos. The beautiful sunset, the white sand, and the crystal blue oceans were nothing but glamours for what the island really was. A trap. And Jason was out. Liza looked at her feet. All it would be one step, then she would be out of the cave. Away from safety. Away from familiarity. Fuck it, if Jason could do it she could too. So, she took another step, then another, and another, and another. Before she knew it, Liza was halfway down the mountain. The once rocky trail became sandy and alien. She hadn’t left the cave since Jason had brought her there. Unfortunately, that was the furthest thing from her mind. It was like she was in a trance. The only thing she could think about was putting one foot in front of the other. She didn’t even know where she was going. Only that she needed to leave that fucking cave.

Chapter Text

Vaas picked feverously at the skin on his fingers. Raw, red, and pink. It was a nasty compulsion from the drugs and anxiety. A sick cocktail of bad habits. The scream and cries of the new hostages weren’t helping either. Hoyt's constant berating and bickering only served to increase the shittiness of Vaas’s situation. But it was fine, it was cool, whatever. Jason had got another one of his friends back. Right under Hoyt’s nose. He was just about to be sold off too. And for a pretty good price. Vaas started picking at the skin even faster, rougher. “Fukin California cunt.” The skin was starting to feel slippery and rubber-like. He should stop now. As much as he wanted to itch his skin, to punch Jason in his pretty boy face, to shoot Hoyt in his saved jaw, he didn’t. Vaas reached into his back pocket and pulled out a band-aid. He always kept them on hand in case his picking got too out of hand.

With new Band-aid wrapped around his fingers, Vaas was ready to talk to Hoyt. But he needed a cigarette. He needed a hit. He needed pussy and a cheeseburger. In that order. Any pussy would do really at this point. He wasn’t in the right mood to be picky. He’d even fuck one of those cheap hookers from bad town. He would have to wear a rubber though. Safety first. Most of the hostages they had right now where men. Bunch of fuckers trying extreme sports. Assholes with big mouths and small dicks. He was honestly surprised that he could even be horny with the kind of company he was keeping recently. And the prospect of seeing Hoyt polluted his mental state even more. But you gotta release stress somehow. Can’t keep that shit all bottled up inside.

The privateers showed Vaas to Hoyt's office. They never let them go into his warehouse alone. Either they didn’t trust him, or they thought he was dumb enough to get lost. Probably a little of both. Overpaid pieces of shit. But once they got to the door Vaas was on his own. Even Hoyt's mindless pirateers knew when to step the fuck down. But he supposed that the intense yelling on the other side of the door could have something to do with the pirateers paranoia. What the fuck ever. Vaas took a deep breath. He couldn’t snap in front of Hoyt. Whatever Vaas could say or do would only bite him in the ass. He pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers. Just get it over with. There’s pussy at the end of this shitty fucking rainbow.

When Vaas entered the room, Hoyt was still screaming to someone over the phone. Something about a shipment. Vaas was already craving a cigarette. Hoyt didn’t let him smoke in his office. The only reason he could come up with was that Vaas smoked cheap cigarettes. And Hoyt didn’t want the smell burning into his nice furniture. Vaas remembered the first time he and Hoyt had met in this office. He had offered Vaas one of his Cuban cigars. Fat and expensive. Vaas had refused the thing. Hoyt had frowned at him, obviously disappointed. This was one of the first rifts Vaas had accidentally created between him and Hoyt. Foreshadowing discord to come. In all honesty, the fucking cigar had startled him. It was the first real taste of quality that he had ever had in his life. And it scared him a bit.

Hoyt hung up the phone with a loud clunk. Vaas hoped that Hoyt hadn’t noticed he was there. Maybe he could wish himself away out of the office and avoid a verbal beating for a day. Maybe Hoyt would just forget he existed and leave him alone forever. Alone with his island and his drugs. Hoyt looked up at Vaas. His face stretched out into a what resembled a smile. Vaas thought he looked like a Komodo dragon. Whatever sexual stamina he had experienced before had completely evaporated. He was fucked. “Vaas, always good to see you. Why the hell are you standing there? Sit, sit, take a load off.” Vaas didn’t want to get to close to Hoyt. Especially if he was faking a good mood. But he was trying to walk out of this office with all his fingers on his hand. So, he took a seat in front of Hoyt’s desk. Making them only thirty fucking inches apart.

“sorry about that. One of my more incompetent employees is playing hopscotch with my product. You know how it is.” Vaas rarely knew “how it was”. Hoyt only told Vaas what he needed to know. Kill this hostage, sell this one there, put this here, speak, roll over, good Vaas. He didn’t really know the inner workings of Hoyt's operation. And he didn’t want to know. But he nodded his head anyway. Better agree than try to act like he knew any better. Good Vaas. Hoyt pulled a cigar case out of his desk. Hoyt hadn’t offered a cigar to Vaas since the first time he had refused one. Vaas had no reason to think that this time would be any different. Hoyt seemed to be lost in thought as he started puffing away. Causing a small amount of smoke to fill the space. Vaas wondered if this was a cruel scare tactic to make him nervous. If it was, it was working. “So, I bet your wondering why I called he into my office.” Hoyt glanced over at Vaas, eyeing him up and down. Vaas didn’t move. He felt like a fish with a hook stuck in his mouth. “well, you must be a little curious. Why the hell would I bring you all the way over here when I could easily call you from your part of the island.” His part of the island. Not his island. Vaas took another deep breath. “Is it about snow whi- “ before Vaas could finish his sentence, Hoyt clapped his hands together. Causing Vaas to Jump in his chair.

“Bingo! It’s about Snow White. But, that still doesn’t answer the second part of the question Vaas. Why did I ask you to come here?” There was a slight edge to Hoyt’s voice. Because you're going to kill me. Jason “fuckboy” Brody got away with another hostage and you want to kill me for it. “I don’t know boss.” Better be honest. Be calm. Don’t fuck up. Hoyt flicked his cigar into his seashell ashtray. “I called you here, because, I believe that I haven’t been giving you the proper motivation. I thought I made myself clear the first time when we last talked, but I can tell that my point hasn’t been properly highlighted. Am I right Vaas? I wasn’t clear enough the first time we talked about this, correct?” Vaas swallowed the saliva that was stuck in his throat and licked his lips. His mouth felt insanely dry. “Hoyt, I’ll get it done alright? He’ll be out of your hair soon enough. Okay?” He was being ballsy, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Hoyt took a long drag from his cigar. “Now, you're saying that Vaas, but why do I feel like your hearts not in it, hm? If he wasn’t dead before, how you are going to convince me that he’s going to be dead later?” Vaas swallowed again. “Hoyt listen-“ Hoyt's hands slammed down on the desk. The cigar fell to the ground, probably leaving a burn mark on the luxury carpet. “No, you fucking listen! I have been patient, I have been generous, I have given you everything you need to kill that Brody boy! AND YET you have failed to deliver his corpse to my doorstep for weeks now! So, tell me Vaas, why is he not dead yet? Why are you fucking around instead doing your job? Why am I out three hostages Vaas?” Vaas backed up into his chair trying to distance himself further from Hoyt. Hoyt rarely went off like this. For as long as Vaas has known him, Hoyt had always been well-mannered, posh, and charismatic. If Hoyt needed someone to scream and intimidate some unlucky fucker, Hoyt called Vaas to do so. But there were moments, moments when Hoyt would lose composer and lash out. And, it's probably worth noting, that Hoyt's temper was usually aimed at Vaas.

Vaas slowly collected his thoughts. Trying to think of an answer that would satisfy Hoyt. “Boss…Hoyt, please, I need you to hear me out for a second. Shit is a bit more complicated than some white boy with a gun, okay? Please just hear me out.” Heart in his hands, Vaas was trying a different approach. A long, long, time ago, Hoyt had considered Vaas a valued employee. His words. And Vaas had even thought of Hoyt as a friend. A long ass fucking time ago. Things have changed since then, but maybe Vaas could cast himself in a better light once more. Hoyt seemed to calm down a little. He slowly sank back into his leather chair. Huffing out a breath of air as he did it. He waved his hand at him. Signaling for him to continue. “Alright, so Snow White isn’t alone in this. Yeah? It’s not just him running around, shooting people. If it was he would be gone by now, y’ know. It’s like I told you before my sister and her inked fucks are helping him. Okay? It isn’t just him.” Vaas held out his hands, palms up. As if he was pleading for Hoyt to take his truth. Be gentle. Don’t bite me. I promise you, my words are true. Hoyt looked at Vaas suspiciously. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe him. There was talk about the natives helping the Brody boy. Giving him guns. Giving mystical bullshit. Giving him magic tattoos. However, Hoyt was a busy man. He didn’t have time for island magic. Real or fake.

Vaas looked pleadingly at Hoyt. It wasn’t a good thing to be on Hoyt's bad side. Especially when you considered how long Vaas had been on Hoyt's bad side. Jason Brody was just the nail in Vaas's shitty wooden coffin. But he wasn’t dead yet and he wasn’t going down without a fight. Hoyt picked up the cigar from the carpet. Turning it over in his fingers. The damn thing had been burning this entire time and neither of them noticed. Hoyt stoked the rest of it in his ashtray. Nodding as he did so, a silent confirmation. To what exactly, Vaas didn't have the slightest clue. “Look, Hoyt, never mind my families bullshit okay? Whatever you believe, the truth is that this fuckin pretty white boy is fucking around with all the locals. So, he’s getting help from them and they’re giving him places to hide and they’re telling all this shit and fucking hell Hoyt maybe this stupid fuck is starting to believe it, you know? Maybe this prick really thinks he is some hot shot warrior, yeah?” Hoyt snickered a little at that. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything right? “Vaaaaassss, I still don’t see why this stops Snow white from being killed?” Vaas rubbed his hands together. “Boss, all I’m saying is me and my pirates aren’t just dealing with some white boy whose high on jungle fever. We’re dealing with the Raykat too, Hoyt.”

It all made sense. Of course it did. But the reasons, the excuses, the promises, they didn’t matter to Hoyt. Hoyt knew Vaas was doing all he could at the moment. He wouldn’t dare fuck this up on purpose. Not his Vaas. Even some of Hoyt's pirateers were dumbfounded by Snow White. Unsure how he was able to come as far as he had. It was a mystery, truly. Whatever answer Vaas could provide, however well thought out and convincing it was, would not matter in the fucking slightest. So why, again, did Hoyt command Vaas to come all the way? Perhaps Hoyt just liked to see Vaas squirm. He liked to watch the boy panic a little, it was good for his character. It was good for Vaas to remember that, despite how big and bad he felt on his part of the island, he wasn’t in charge. He was a loud, violent puppet on strings. And Hoyt loved very much to tug and pull at them. Hoyt adjusted himself, reverting back to his calm demeanor. “Vaas, I’m going to make this very simple for you. Get rid of Jason Brody. I want his head Vaas. And I want the hostages he stole from me back understand? Bring me what was stolen Vaas. We'll talk again soon.” Vaas sat there staring at Hoyt. Not fulling believing that the conversation was over. Not fully believing that he was going to walk out of Hoyt’s office without a scratch. But Hoyt was already dialing a number on his phone. Vaas was free to go.