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Ray's Super Important Recon Mission

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Ray is bunkered down behind a tipped over couch, messy spikes of bedhead and wide brown eyes are the only parts of Ray visible since the ugly green sleeping bag he's ensconced in blends in with said overturned couch, and the entire area is deathly silent. Until some loud motherfucker comes stomping up behind Ray. Okay, that's not fair. It's the quiet sound of bare feet on thin carpet, heels dragging instead of fully lifting off the floor, and Ray tips his head but doesn't turn to look. He doesn't have to look to know who it is because Ray is damn good at his job, okay?

"Hell you doin', man?" The voice is a little deep and scratchy, like a needle hitting a record and feeling the bass in your chest, and several names run through Ray's head.

Stafford, as he'd been properly introduced a week earlier. (Ray rejects this name immediately. Too...formal. There are six dudes all stuffed in this house for who-knows-how-the-fuck-long and Ray isn't about to be all proper and shit.)

Q-tip. (This name Ray gives some consideration. He has no idea where the name came from, maybe it's because the dude is tall and skinny with fluffy blonde hair. It's far from proper and a little fun, but Ray doesn't like the way the name feels. Which totally makes sense to Ray at four in the morning when he's hiding behind a couch that got flipped over during a game of monopoly the night before. The point? This name gets dismissed.)

Evan. (When their fearless leader did the introductions, looking like a real leader too unlike the last jacked-up dumbass Ray worked for, he'd used everyone's first and last names. This guy with his three names had wrinkled up his nose and crossed his arms when he'd heard his first name, so Ray makes his decision.)

"Keep it down, Evan, or you'll ruin all my hard work!" Ray hisses. He grips Evan's wrist and yanks him down onto the floor next to him, and he rolls his eyes as Evan grunts at the unexpected amount of strength. Ray is a world class assassin just like everyone else in this house, and his looks are deceiving because he doesn't like being an obvious motherfucker. He's skinny and loud, but he's also scrappy enough to take down dudes twice his size and he's observant. So observant that he is going to figure out something huge, and he is going to let Evan in on his brilliance if he'll just sit still. The floor isn't that uncomfortable.

"You get into the Doc's stash? You know he won't hesitate to break that oath of his." It sounds like Evan is smiling, but Ray is focused on looking straight ahead so he can't check. "And what did I tell you about callin' me that?"

"Have I done something to upset you, Evan?" Ray asks in his most innocent tone. It's convincing to anyone who doesn't know him.

A little over a week ago, six strangers got dropped into a house with minimal intel and were told to wait for instructions. They still haven't been told about what exactly they're supposed to do, but Ray doesn't think they're strangers anymore. Evan is the only one brave enough, or dumb enough, to walk around the old house they're stuck in completely barefoot. Doc Bryan, or the Doc, may be their medical support but also looks like he's always on the verge of taking some sorry sack out of this world. There's Nate, their designated leader for this clusterfuck of a mission, who is all curt answers and confident smiles with an undercurrent of rebellious charisma. (Ray can sense these things.) After that is Walt, who is the kind of optimistic sunshine-shooting-outta-his-ass person that Ray usually avoids, but he's also a snarky little shit who puts up with Ray's antics with ease. Finally, there's Brad. Tall ass Viking dude who turns insults into soliloquies and comes off as some kind of robot, but Ray knows better. There's a human in there somewhere and today is the day that Ray finds Brad's flaw.

"Yo! Ray! You hearin' me?" Evan is snapping his fingers in front of Ray's face, and Ray reaches up on muscle memory. His fingers grip Evan's wrist and moves his hand so that he's not impeding Ray's vision, and he feels Evan shuffle closer. They're both kneeling behind the couch now, heads barely showing over the top, and Ray can feel the length of Evan's body against his side even through his thick sleeping bag.

"Something's gonna happen," Ray whispers. Evan doesn't ask him if he's lost his mind or anything else. Instead he shifts so that their arms are in the tight space between their bodies, and Ray can feel the slight beat of rushing blood under the thin skin where his thumb is pressed. Because Evan isn't pulling away. He's actually closer, adding to the body heat that Ray is throwing off, and that's interesting.

"What's gonna happen?" Ray barely has time to realize that he is way more than okay with the way that Evan's voice gets a little deeper when he leans in to whisper in Ray's ear, Evan's bottom lip is actually brushing just behind Ray's ear, when something finally starts to happen.

Ray tightens his grip on Evan's wrist, his way of signaling him not to move, and Evan's chin drops onto Ray's shoulder so they can both look into the modestly sized kitchen. Nate's back is to them as he starts making a pot of coffee, and Ray leans some of his weight against Evan as they observe. Nate might not be on Walt's level when it comes to being a morning person, but he's functioning pretty well for someone awake before the sun has even risen.

The coffee pot makes quiet hisses and dripping sounds as it starts up, and Ray and Evan hold perfectly still. Nate ain't no slouch, so they have to stay quiet or he'll definitely know they're creeping behind the couch. Ray isn't sure why it's so important that they stay quiet, but he just knows that something is going to happen today. (Something besides figuring out the quickest way to get Evan out of those hideous sweatpants. Seriously, the dude must be a little colorblind or something.)

Ray's knees are numb and Evan's arms are around his waist under the sleeping bag when shit finally gets interesting. (Not that Evan nosing against his jaw line isn't interesting. Parts of Ray are very interested in the way that Evan is slowly getting closer, but he can't abandon his mission. Not yet anyway. If Evan's hands slip any lower, he's saying to hell with all of it and just dragging Evan to his room with its lockable door.) Ray had almost given up but then Nate shifts.

It's not ever really a shift. Nate's standing in front of the coffeepot, probably watching it drip with bleary eyes, when his right shoulder drops down. It's barely noticeable, Ray wouldn't have noticed it if he hadn't been looking for it, and then his head tilts. Like he's listening for something or someone. Ray tries to hear, but the only sound he can focus on is the quiet thrum of his pulse and the nearly silent whuffs of air against the side of his neck. Nate must have some kind of super hearing though, because Brad walks into the kitchen a moment later.

Brad's usual posture is more relaxed than Ray has ever seen it. His shoulders are hunched over, chin dropped nearly to his chest, and his steps are slow and a little off balanced. Ray waits for Brad's usual insults-as-greetings, but it never happens. Instead Nate calls out a quiet good morning without looking in Brad's direction and then reaches up into a cabinet to pull out two coffee cups. Brad pauses at the sound of Nate's voice, shuffles his feet against the tiles, and then starts walking again.

Nate has already poured one cup of coffee, but he's holding steady and not pouring the second cup. He also doesn't seem surprised at all when Brad walks straight into his back, like he'd been walking with his eyes shut the entire time. Nate's body rocks forward before he leans back on his heels to right himself, and Brad just fucking drapes himself over Nate's back like a puppet with his strings cut.

"What the hell?" The words are pressed against the side of Ray's neck so that he feels them more than hears them, and Ray feels the way his breathing has slowly synced with Evan's when he shrugs in reply. Because honestly? He has no idea what the hell is going on.

Now that Brad is attached to Nate's back, long lanky arms on either side of Nate's body to loosely grip the counter, Nate pours the second cup of coffee. Ray watches Nate mix in creamer and sugar like he's watching the Discovery Channel, and he actually feels his jaw come a little loose when Nate raises a cup for Brad to drink out of. Then, while Brad is taking slow sips, his hands move from the counter to wrap around Nate's middle. That's when Nate starts talking. Not about whatever bullshit mission they're probably on or a status report on the men. (They're all fine. Ray and Evan are like two peas in a pod, or sleeping bag in this particular case. Walt's a badass hippie and Doc is always solid. Ray's a little worried that Nate and Brad might have been taken over by pod people.) Nate's talking about some kind of mystery book, describing a scene with quiet words as Brad takes in more and more caffeine.

Ray and Evan are both completely transfixed on what's unfolding in their kitchen, and it takes three and a half cups of coffee before Brad finally makes a sound. It's mostly a grunt that's probably the word "morning" in Brad-Speak, but something about the sound finally causes Ray to break. His laughter echoes in the room louder than gunfire, and it takes him a moment to realize that Evan is basically hugging him from the side as he hides his laughter in the curve of the Ray's neck.

His eyes are stinging when he finally looks into the kitchen again, but he can still see. Nate has turned so that he's facing the living room and finally drinking his own cup of coffee, and Brad is still propped up against Nate's back like the other man is the only thing keeping him on his feet. Maybe he is. Brad's eyes are opened into glaring blue slits, and he just grunts when Ray points at his face and keeps laughing.

"Oh shit, homes! Better make a run for it, Nate! Brad's turned into a motherfucking zombie!" Ray's laughing so hard that tears are blurring the edges of his vision, but he can see the small twitch of Nate's lips as he tries not to smile. Evan's arms are wrapped around Ray tight enough to keep him from falling over, and he can distantly hear Brad grumbling. It's completely different from his usual precise vocabulary, but Ray gets the gist. It's still not enough to make him stop laughing and yelling about how the zombie apocalypse has finally come.

"Shut the fuck up! If I don't sleep, you die!" Doc's voice carrying across the house causes all sound to stop, until Walt's voice follows it and causes the laughter to start up all over again. "Ignore him! He ain't human until he gets his coffee!"