Work Header

Free Fall

Work Text:

"Well," Michael says, kicking the corpse's hand away from him, "this guy is dead as dicks."

"Motherfucker," says Geoff. "Who did this? I wanted to talk to him!"

"No, you wanted to kill him." Jack gets up from where she's kneeling at the corpse's head. "Somebody just beat you to it."

"No, no, no," says Geoff, "I definitely also wanted to talk to this fucker. Find out what else he's given to the pigs. How many more of my safehouses need to be blown sky fucking high. Goddammit. Who did this? Jack, can we figure this out?"

"Well," says Jack, as Michael circles the corpse and takes a good hard look at the guy's already swelling face. His eyes are wide open and look terrified, and he's a total bloody mess, clothes hard and stiff with dried blood. "I see signs of struggle and there's slice marks all over his face and arms. Judging from the way the blood and the wounds look, I'd say most of them were inflicted when he was still alive."

"Torture, huh?" Geoff crosses his arms. "Well, he is – excuse me, was – a fucking snitch, so that's no surprise."

"You had different plans for this fuck?" Michael asks.

Geoff shakes his head. "No. Well, maybe. More gun, less knife. Was gonna start at his big toe and shoot my way up, you know."

"Help me turn him over," says Jack and the three of them grab and pull at the body to take a look at his front.

It's no less of a mess. His shirt has been torn open at the front and his chest is a giant collection of dozens of little slices. Must've hurt like hell, Michael thinks, wincing a little. The guy's chest hair is matted with blood. One of his nipples hangs by a tiny thread of flesh. Michael resists the urge to pull it off.

Jack whistles quietly. "Somebody was not happy with Mr Deflin here."

"Me!" Geoff says. "I wasn't happy! I'm still not happy!"

"At least he's dead, Geoff," says Michael. "He's dead, he can't talk. Solves the problem."

"For now," says Jack. "But Geoff's got a point. We have no idea what and how much he's passed on to the LSPD. Deflin had his fingers in lots of people's pies, doing what he did. I think we should consider all the safehouses he's ever been to burned, Geoff. Oh shit, sorry." Her phone starts ringing and she answers it, stepping away for a little privacy.

Michael glances at Geoff, who's staring at the corpse like he's trying to kill it again, but with his mind. "What's up, boss?"

"Nothing, I'm just... I'm trying to think. Who else figured out he was a snitch? Was someone trying to get to him before I could for some reason?"

"You're wondering if this was aimed at you," says Michael slowly. "A message of some kind."

"Right," says Geoff. "I mean, I don't think so, but the timing of it... Something doesn't feel right. We figure out the guy's been talking to the pigs, we don't tell anyone and we go to meet him, but he ends up dead before we can talk to him? I don't like these kind of coincidences."

Michael turns toward Jack because her voice has gotten all serious and quiet all of a sudden. She meets his eyes and raises a finger at him. One second.

"Right," Jack says. "And you're sure? Who got you this—oh, Steffi? Okay. Well, call Gavin and get him on it. Everything. Anything. Don't do anything yet, we wanna meet this guy, all right? Keep your distance and tell Gavin to do his thing quietly. I'll get back to you." She hangs up and blows out a breath. "Well."

"What's up?" Geoff asks, stepping closer to her. "Who do we wanna meet?"

Jack's eyes go from the corpse back to Geoff and Michael. "Might be related to this mess, might not be. Word got to Steffi that the Vagabond is in Los Santos."

There's a long silence. Michael looks at the corpse and chews his bottom lip. This could be the Vagabond's work. The guy's meticulous, violent and enjoys his knives more than is normal for a human being. It's a little worrying he's in Los Santos. It's not his home turf, nobody really seems to know what is, and he leaves a trail of dead bodies behind him wherever he goes.

"I've put Gavin on it," Jack continues, "if anyone can find out anything about the Vagabond, it's him. Geoff, you remember what we talked about?"

"I do," Geoff says slowly.

"You still feeling that?"

"Feeling what?" Michael asks.

"I'm a big fan of his work," says Geoff, a grin curling at the edges of his mouth under his mustache. "Always thought he'd fit in well with the rest of us."

Michael rocks back on his heels. "Seriously?"

"We could do with another heavy hitter," says Geoff. "He's supposedly a hell of a sniper too, and that's a pretty big gap that Ray left. I know you're no slouch, Michael, and neither is Jeremy, but you work mostly underground and this guy has a reputation. Yeah, I'm interested in having him join us."

Michael's not entirely sure how to feel about this. Geoff had never even mentioned this before, though clearly he'd been discussing it with Jack. "But... I mean, this guy works alone, right? Everything I've ever heard about this asshole is that he's a loner. Doesn't play nice with others. Like, at all."

"Not always," says Jack. "I did some digging last year when there were rumors he was in Los Santos – rumors that turned out to be false, unfortunately – and he's worked with groups in the past. Though usually on a short-term basis. He's also worked with a computer guy for about a year and a half. So it's not like he never works with other people. We just need to figure out what made him work with those others and see if we can't match whatever they offered him."

"I guess," Michael says slowly.

Geoff looks at him. "We're just gonna set up a meet, Michael. You can come if you want to. I don't want to add people if they don't mesh with the guys we already have. I just like to have the best of the best, and this guy's good. "

"Geoff's got a cru-ush," Jack stage whispers and Michael laughs.

"Shut up," Geoff grouches. "Let's get the fuck out of here."

"What about this guy, whatshisname?" Michael gestures at the corpse.

"Just leave him," says Geoff. "Who gives a shit?"

Michael heads over to Gavin's when he's done for the day. He hasn't seen him all day – the days when work keeps them in separate places suck, though he'll never actually tell Gavin that – and it'll be nice to relax on Gavin's couch with a couple of beers and Halo. Or maybe Destiny. Or hell, maybe even Minecraft; he and Gavin have been building a stupid-ass town over the past few months and he's got a great idea for a tunnel connecting their houses together.

Gavin seems happy to see him, though there's a part of him that feels subdued. That's fucking weird as shit, because Gavin is a lot of things and subdued isn't one of them.

"Just tired," says Gavin, when Michael asks him if he's all right. "Been a right prick of a day, Michael. Beer?"

"Yes, please," Michael says.

"You can crash on the couch if you want to," Gavin says over his shoulder as he grabs the beers from the fridge. "'S'all yours."

"Thanks, Gav," says Michael, who wasn't looking forward to returning to an empty apartment. "So, shitty day?"

Gavin presses the bottle against his forehead and nods. "One of those days where staring at a computer monitor for fourteen hours just hurts my eyes, you know."

Michael winces. "I do know. Don't mix painkillers with beer, though."

Gavin grins at him. "I'm sticking with just beer, Michael. Not one to take pills, remember?"

"Right, your hair trigger gag reflex."

Gavin chugs half his bottle in one go and burps. Fucking charming. "So, Halo?" he says brightly. "I ordered food, should be here in an hour or so."

They're in the middle of a match when the food gets there and Michael stops shouting at Gavin long enough to pay the guy and give him a hell of a tip, because at some point it started pouring down and the guy is soaked to the bone. Besides, Michael's got money. More than he knows what to do with sometimes. He's not like Gavin, blowing it all on gold accessories and $600 shirts and watches that talk back, though he is like Gavin in that he sure likes having it.

"So Jack put you on the Vagabond, eh?" says Michael, stuffing a slice of pizza into his mouth.

Gavin startles so badly he nearly drops his slice. "What?" he says, voice rising.

"The Vagabond," says Michael, though it's not much clearer what with his mouth full. "Jack told you to find out about the guy, right?"

Gavin concentrates on lifting his slice without all the toppings falling off. "I mean, yeah, that's what Matt told me. I'm on it, don't worry about it."

"Geoff wants to invite him to the crew," says Michael and it's only because he's looking very closely that he sees Gavin's expression shutter. "What do you think?"

Gavin's taking a long time chewing. "I think it's a waste of everyone's time," he says, "the guy works alone, doesn't he? I'm not finding much right now anyway. He's a ghost, basically."

"Not even a name?"

Gavin laughs. "Definitely not a name, Michael. There's no photos, no mugshots, no descriptions of what he looks like under that scary mask he always wears. Blue eyes, that's all we've got so far."

"Really narrows it down," Michael mutters.

"Right?" says Gavin. "I'm gonna keep digging, but..." He shrugs.

"So you wouldn't want him to join?"

"It's not about me wanting anything," says Gavin slowly. "I just don't think it's gonna happen and we're better off trying to find people who do want to work with us. It's a big city and I'm in touch with lots of people who can offer us good things. Why spend our energy on one loner when there's dozens of people eager to throw in with us?"

"Geoff's thinking more about the guy's reputation than what he can bring to the table," says Michael, sagging back into Gavin's super fucking expensive couch and resisting the urge to drip sauce all over it. It'd be funny to destroy the couch, but he hates dirtying things on purpose. It's a struggle. "We're making a name for ourselves right now and Geoff thinks having the Vagabond hang around with us will give us a boost. Make people even more scared."

"He's pretty scary," Gavin agrees and something's off in his tone, but Michael can't figure out what.

Besides, this pizza's really good. He could eat two more of these. Good thing Gavin ordered three. He'll have to wrestle Gavin for the third one, but well, that's just fun, and Gav's a skinny little fuck and Michael can take him.

Michael ignores the shots coming from the living room with practiced ease and continues cleaning his gun on the kitchen table.

Jeremy sticks his head around the door. "Did you hear that?"

"Shots," Michael says. "Living room."

Jeremy eyes him for another second, then leaves, presumably to the living room. Jeremy's been a part of their crew for a good few months now, but he's still not entirely used to the chaos in their lives or the way their base works.

Michael hears laughter a few seconds later, then Geoff shrieking about something. He glances down at his disassembled piece and shrugs, abandoning it on the tea towel to go check out what's got Geoff in a tizzy this time.

"You're fixing that, you little shit!" Geoff shouts.

"What, I had to test it, didn't I?" That's Gavin, sounding both smug and innocent.

"We have a firing range !" Geoff again.

"It's all the way down in the basement!" Gavin protests and Michael leans in the doorway to the living, raising an eyebrow at the wall above the TV, opposite the couch Gavin's sprawled on. Gavin's got his new gaudy gold SMG in his lap and he's petting it like it's a cat. The wall above the TV is riddled with bullet holes in the shape of a smiley. "Hi, Michael," Gavin says, grinning cheekily at him. "Like my new gun?"

"It's fucking hideous," Michael says, "get better taste."

"Aw, Michael."

"Fuckhead destroyed my wall!" says Geoff.

"We can fix it," Jeremy says, barely contained laughter in his voice. "Be a quick job, Geoff."

"That's not the point." Geoff's voice is still in that high-pitched register that makes Michael disguise a giggle as a cough. "I'm the boss here! Don't shoot my fucking walls! Goddammit!"

Michael catches Gavin's eye and grins. Gavin gives him a thumbs up and a bright smile as soon as Geoff turns back to inspect the wall again.

Jack comes in, glasses sliding down to the tip of her nose. She's staring at her phone and doesn't even notice the wall until she follows Geoff's accusingly pointed outstretched finger. "Well," she says.

"Guess who did that?" Geoff demands.

Jack looks at Gavin, who shrugs. "Why?"

"Test shots," he says, "catch." He tosses her his new SMG. "I just got it. What do you think?"

"It's very bright," she says, turning it over in her hands. She raises it and checks the scope. "Accurate?"

"I did that, didn't I?" Gavin answers, sweeping a hand out at the wall. "I would say it's pretty accurate, yeah."

"You're a shithead," Michael informs him, but he can't stop the fond smile tugging at his lips.

"Got something, Jack?" Geoff asks, glaring at Gavin.

"Actually," she says, tossing the SMG back to Gavin, "yes. The Vagabond agreed to a meet."

"Sweet," Geoff says, at the time Gavin lets out an incredulous, 'really?' Everyone turns to look at him and he shrugs, a little self-conscious.

"I mean," Gavin says, almost tripping over his tongue, "I-I didn't expect him to... I'm just surprised, is all. Guy's a loner."

"I hate say it, but I'm with Gavin," says Jack. "I'm surprised too. From what we've been gathering over the past couple of days, he really is a loner. Doesn't work with people, doesn't accept invites to meetings, doesn't do jobs if they're underpaid or, and this is a serious thing, boring. I don't know what qualifies as boring for a guy like the Vagabond, but that's what we've been able to determine. I seriously didn't expect him to agree to meet up with us, but he did."

"What'd he say?" Jeremy asks, hauling over a chair to take a closer look at the bullet holes. "Oh, Gavin..."

"He said he agrees, but only because he wants to talk to Geoff about something," says Jack.

"Huh." Geoff sticks his tongue in his cheek. "Huh. Didn't say about what?"

"Nope, that's all Steffi got back. She's gonna hash out the time and place details and arrange for some kind of neutral party security. Who do you want with you, Geoff?" Jack gets out her phone and starts typing.

"All of you, actually, but I don't know if that's doable. If the Vagabond's uncomfortable with all of us, then just you, Jack." Geoff runs his hands through his hair. "In which case I do want the rest of you assholes waiting in the wings. You know, in case he tries something. Gav, prepare a tracker. If something happens, I wanna be able to find this guy. Michael, Jeremy, you two are on finding out which vehicle is his duty should something go to shit. You all know how this works."

Gavin blows out a breath. "You'll be fine, Geoff. From everything I've learned about... about the Vagabond, he's not in the habit of killing people at meets. He's more of a silent, sneaky killer in the dark. If anything, he'll be standing over your bed with a machete the night after the meet."

"Thanks so much for that," Geoff snaps. "Now I need to go buy more whiskey cause otherwise I won't sleep."

The day of the meet. Michael feels a little on edge, though it's really no different than any other meet with a big Los Santos crime boss. Or at least it shouldn't be.

The meet's at an abandoned warehouse somewhere in the port at South Los Santos. They're there a few hours early, checking out and getting a feel for the area. The neutral party serving as hosts and security are part of Burns' crew and Michael trusts them well enough. Probably this whole thing is going to go fine. Well, for them. The Vagabond is an idiot if he's actually thinking of meeting them alone.

They're out on the pier enjoying the sun while they can. Michael and Gavin are at the far end; they've found a couple of abandoned beach chairs and have set up a little camp near the edge of the water, enjoying the cool breeze hitting their faces. Michael loves moments like this, just him and Gavin, chilling, enjoying each other's company just before a big job.

Geoff and Jack are on their phones, both talking to different people, and Jeremy's just sitting on the wooden pier, bent over a homebuilt briefcase bomb, his toolkit next to him. Michael admires that about Jeremy. He, too, likes... no, loves his bombs, but he never makes them himself. Jeremy does. Jeremy can build a bomb out of just about anything. He and Michael have blown up so many things (park benches, trash cans, cars, motorbikes...) over the past few months, just to see what works and what doesn't.

"I gotta take a piss," Michael says to Gavin.

Gavin glances at him, eyes hidden behind what Michael's calling his asshole shades, obnoxiously large and gold, actual tiny diamonds on the sides. He gestures expansively at the water, not even saying it.

"I can't just... go... off the pier," Michael says, but even as he says it he wonders why not. "Though the actual toilet is like, all the way over there." He gets up and moves closer to the edge, having convinced himself, listening to Gavin giggling behind him. He's just unzipping when someone (Geoff? Jeremy?) makes a choking noise behind him.

"Other people swim in that, you know," says a new voice.

"Oh, my God," says Jeremy quietly and when Michael turns around (quickly zipping his jeans back up), he sees him slowly raise his hands in the air. Gavin seems frozen in shock in his seat, and Geoff and Jack are staring with equally confused and worried expressions.

It's the Vagabond. At the other end of the pier. Blocking their path. And he's got a minigun, and the minigun is spinning. Shit. Fuck. Shitfuck. Michael's gun is on the pier next to his seat. He doesn't know where Jeremy's is and Geoff's and Jack's are still wherever they keep them (Jack keeps hers strapped to her thigh, which is hot, which is something Michael will never tell her or anyone else).

"I'm not gonna hurt any of you," the Vagabond says. His voice is low and deceptively pleasant and it makes a shiver run Michael's spine, "but I also wasn't going to meet a bunch of hopefully not armed guys in a dark warehouse in a town I'm not that familiar with while under guard by a bunch of people I don't know, so I hope you'll forgive me for this." He swings the minigun up and down and revs it a little bit. "Everybody get up and face me. You too, in the back there. Hands in the air, please."

"Since you're so polite about it," Geoff says through his teeth, slowly raising his hands. "Do as the man says, guys. No need for anybody to die today."

"No plans for killing," the Vagabond says. It's probably meant to be reassuring, but the mask pretty much makes anything he says vaguely menacing. Michael understands now, on a visceral level, why people fear this asshole. He's tall and well-built and wearing shitty old clothes, including a leather jacket riddled with bullet holes, and the skull mask hides all his facial expressions. "We're just having a talk, right? That's what you wanted, t-to... talk." He trips over the last few words and the minigun drops a few inches, like he's surprised.

Gavin's stepped up next to Michael, hands up, sunglasses shoved into his hair. The Vagabond eyes them for a few long seconds – at least, Michael assumes so. Fuck, but it's hard to figure out what the guy is thinking. The mask is doing its job – and then turns his attention to Geoff.

"Ramsey?" he says.

"In the flesh." Geoff sounds massively fucking pissed off and Michael can't blame him. They've got their people all over the warehouse district, watching out for any unwanted attention, but here the fucking Vagabond stands with his goddamn minigun, and nobody seems to have noticed a thing. Somebody's going to die. Probably multiple somebodies, after Geoff's done with them. "Can I put my hands down?"

"Keep them where I can see them," the Vagabond allows and Michael also slowly lowers his. He was beginning to feel them grow heavy anyway. "Again, like I said, I'm not here to kill anyone. Or hurt anyone. I just didn't particularly like the idea of one versus five in a strange town."

"Okay, cool," says Jack. "Wanna turn off the minigun then?"

"Not particularly," says the Vagabond and nods at Jeremy. "One of yours is sitting on a bomb."

"Hey," Jeremy objects, "if I blow this, we all die. I just got here, I don't wanna die. Especially not because of a bomb I built."

"You built it? Impressive." The Vagabond sounds genuine.

Jeremy lets out a confused, "Thank you?" and Michael almost laughs at the absurdity of it. Gavin presses closer to him and Michael gently nudges him. It's gonna be okay. Probably. And hell, if he has to die, what better way to go out than with his friends in the Los Santos harbor. There's worse ways to go.

"I just agreed to the meeting because I wanted to apologize for killing Baker," says the Vagabond, vaguely training the minigun at the ground. The thing is looks heavy as fuck, but the Vagabond doesn't even seem to notice its weight.

"Who's Baker?" Michael asks.

"The snitch," the Vagabond clarifies. "I knew him as Baker. Timothy Baker."

"He was Grant Deflin to us," says Jack. "I'm guessing neither of these is his real name. He came to us on a recommendation of someone we trust."

"Either you can't trust them or they're fucked as well," says the Vagabond. "He was Baker back in Vice. I trusted him too. He got a friend of mine killed, so I tracked him down here and ended his sad, lamentable, treacherous life."

"Lamentable," Gavin mutters, almost absently. Michael gives him a weird look.

"Lamentable," the Vagabond repeats, "is what it was." His eyes are fixed on Gavin now and Michael can see they're blue, like Gavin mentioned. "I believe he was bought by the cops a few years ago and nobody figured it out until recently. I killed him and found out a day later that Geoff Ramsey was pissed because he'd wanted to talk to Baker. Deflin. Whatever. I do apologize for that. If I'd known, I'd have let you have him. Maybe. I really wanted to get revenge for my friend."

"It's fine," says Geoff, his tone still annoyed. "Well, maybe it isn't, but what's done is done. I just wanted to know what he knew and what the pigs know now."

"He didn't say much before he died," says the Vagabond. "He was, uh, a little more fragile than I thought he'd be. Died quicker than I expected after only a little bit of torture."

"A little bit of torture," Michael repeats and manfully does not do the air quotes he really wants to do.

"Yeah, it wasn't much torture," the Vagabond says, sounding far too excited about torture. "Trust me, I know what a lot of torture looks like."

"All right, all right," says Geoff. "It was an accidental death by torture, I got ya. Apology accepted. We'll figure out what the cops know the hard way. We'll put Gavin on it. It'll just take a while longer."

The Vagabond looks at Gavin and it takes Michael a whole four seconds to figure out why that's weird. The Vagabond knows who Gavin is. He sucks in a breath and narrows his eyes. Does this fucker know their names? He knows Geoff's, that's a given, but the rest of them work in the shadows and they like it there. Their names aren't huge secrets, but they're also not really out there, and the thought this masked fuck might know them is... unsettling. Even if Geoff does want him to join their crew. Michael's fine with him learning their names after he's joined them.

"I have a proposition for you," Geoff's saying.

"All right," the Vagabond says, tilting his head. "I'm all ears."

"I will pay a dickload of money for you to join our little crew." Geoff gestures behind him. "We're small, but we're good and we're growing. We're gonna take over this town one day and we would like for you to be there. With us."

The Vagabond's gone very still. "No," he says eventually.

"No?" Geoff says. "Hear me out. You'll be on a retainer. Don't have to do anything you don't want to, but I will seriously pay you ungodly amounts of dollars if you stand behind us and loom menacingly when we talk to assholes and maybe sometimes kill or kidnap somebody. We also rob banks and casinos. I understand you're into all of these things?"

"As tempting as that offer is, I don't work in or with teams," says the Vagabond. His voice has gone tight.

"That's not true," says Jack quietly and the Vagabond starts like he's seeing her for the first time. "You worked with a hacker guy for almost two years. We did our homework."

The Vagabond shrugs. "Yeah, well, I was fucking him at the time, so it was a good match-up in more ways than one."

Gavin lets out a strangled noise and Jeremy's mouth falls open. Michael raises an eyebrow. So the Vagabond's into dudes? Interesting. Unexpected too, though he's not sure why given that he's never spent a second thinking about the Vagabond's love life.

"I will totally let you fuck me if you work with us," Geoff promises and Michael snorts.

"Geoff!" Jack says sharply, something indignant in her voice. "Goddamn it, Geoff!"

The Vagabond chuckles. "Again, tempting, but like I said, I don't—"

"We can be helpful in other ways," says Gavin, cutting him off. "Beyond the money. You have money, you don't need more money."

"Bullshit, you always want more money," Michael says to him, but Gavin ignores him.

"We're a team," Gavin continues, taking a step forward. Michael wants to haul him back, because that cannot be a good idea in any way. "We're each other's backups. Something goes wrong, somebody will be there to pull you out. I trust every single one of these guys – and lady, sorry, Jack – with my life."

It's a nice speech. It's not gonna do anything, but it's still nice to hear Gavin talk about trusting them. Trusting Michael. It's been hard fought.

"You know how quickly things can go tits up," Gavin says, moving past Jeremy, who is looking up at him with wide dark eyes. "I once got shot in the leg. Couldn't walk, couldn't leg it anywhere, and Michael and Ray came in guns blazing and got me out of there. I would've died that day if it wasn't for them."

That had been a spectacularly bad day and it still haunts Michael from time to time. Bad dreams for a week straight. Dreams where he was too late, where Gavin's injury was too serious, where Gav had just bled out while he and Ray were dragging his ass to safety. Michael feels chilled despite the summer day heat.

"That scar on your hand is new," says Gavin, "Knife jab?"

The Vagabond nods slowly. "Went in deep."

"Didn't heal properly," says Gavin. "Could've affected mobility in your hand. Still can, that scar tissue is not going to go away. Geoff and Jack, they're medics. Army medics, both of them. Got the bullet out of my leg and stitched me up right. Only a tiny little scar left." He smirks. "A memento to a bad, bad day."

"What is happening," Jeremy asks no one in particular.

"This life is too dangerous to live alone," Gavin says, moving past Geoff and Jack and coming to a stop in front of the Vagabond. He has to tilt his head up slightly to look him in the eye. He grins. "Planning on staying in LS?"

Another slow nod.

"Try us out," Gavin says, "free of charge." He smiles wider, spreads his arms. "No strings attached, none. Work with us. We're good. We have big plans and we're gonna get better. You can keep the mask on, if you want, though it'd be a little easier if you gave them your name. First name's all right."

"Them?" Jack says sharply.

Michael's heart is hammering in his chest. He is totally fucking lost.

"Gavin," Geoff starts, sounding as confused as Michael feels.

Gavin half turns toward Geoff. "We'll do that, right? Get him in on a temporary basis, let him get a feel for us and vice versa? It can work."

"I, uh, yeah, I mean... yes?"

"Doesn't sound very convincing," the Vagabond says.

"Yes," Geoff says firmly. "We can definitely do that. We did that with Jeremy, and with Michael in the past. Michael liked bombs and he was also used to working alone."

"Yeah," Michael says, put on the spot, "uh, teams are pretty nice. It's good to have people to talk to when you're running through a building putting bombs in strategic places. Gav's pretty good at getting people past security and all that."

"I know," the Vagabond says distractedly and he sighs and looks at Gavin. "Let me think about it, okay?"

"All right," says Gavin and produces a card from his jacket with a flick of his hand. "My current number. Just let me know."

The Vagabond holds the card for a few seconds, his eyes not leaving Gavin's face, and then turns off the minigun. The silence is deafening. Michael breathes out. "I'll be in touch," he says and turns and walks away.

Nobody makes any move to shoot him. They all just watch him go. He turns left between two warehouse and there's a muffled, low thunk of the minigun hitting the ground.

"Holy shit," Michael says. "What the fuck was that?"

"Gavin!" Geoff says and just stares at him. "I mean, what?"

"You know this guy, Gavin?" Jeremy says, climbing to his feet. "Because it sure sounded like you knew him."

"The computer guy," says Jack quietly. "The hacker he worked with." Everyone looks at her. "That's you, isn't it?"

"Jack," Gavin says, sounding exhausted. "Sometimes you are too damn clever for your own good."

Gavin, the coward, has decided to get in the car with Jeremy and Jack, so it's just Geoff and Michael in Geoff's car, heading back to the base. Geoff's on the phone with people, trying to figure out how the Vagabond made his way through the warehouses without being spotted. So far, they've found out he knocked out five people. They're all fine – for now; Geoff wants to talk to them tonight – but they've got headaches and a deep sense of embarrassment.

Michael's driving mostly on autopilot, keeping to the speed limit and trying not to draw any police attention. He's likely to start punching any cop trying to give him a ticket. It wouldn't end well for anybody involved.

The Vagabond. Gavin. It seems impossible. Michael knows Gavin – or at least, he thought he did. Now he's not so sure. What else is there in Gavin's past that Michael knows nothing about? Even as he's thinking it, a part of him realizes that's unfair. Plenty of skeletons in Michael's closet as well. Hell, everyone's closets. None of them have lived wholesome, clean lives. At least one of Michael's ex-girlfriends is currently serving an eighteen year term for homicide. In her defense, the guy definitely abused his cats and had to die.

Still. The Vagabond. Michael only knows what he's heard about him and none of it is good. And Gavin worked with this guy?

I was fucking him at the time.

Michael's hands clench around the steering wheel.

"Michael." Geoff snaps his fingers in front of his face. "Michael. Come on, dude, you look like you're gonna explode, literally. Calm the fuck down."

"I can't believe he never said anything," Michael says, slamming a hand down on the steering wheel. "Cannot fucking believe it."

"I know!" says Geoff, throwing up his hands. "This would've been useful information to have! He should have said something when we were talking about adding him to our crew. I'm gonna kick his ass when we get back to the base."

"Me first," says Michael.

"Why you first? I'm the boss, I get dibs."

"He's my best friend, I get dibs," Michael argues.

Geoff narrows his eyes at him. "Best friend," he echoes.

Michael looks back at the road and shrugs. "Yeah."

"Whatever you say, Michael Jones," says Geoff, and he sounds smug about something. Now Michael wants to punch him, too. "I bet Jack's tearing into him right now. Wish I was there. Wonder if she'll put us on speaker if I called her right now..."

"She's driving," Michael points out. "So she's not gonna answer because she's a responsible adult like that."

"Aw, man." Geoff puts his phone down and scrubs his fingers through his hair. "I'm mad at Gavin for not telling me about the Vagabond, but... you know, maybe it works out for us? I mean, the dude was clearly not buying what I was selling before Gavin opened his stupid mouth."

"He doesn't want to work with us," says Michael. "He might want to work with Gavin, though." The idea doesn't sit right with him. He doesn't know why.

"Guess we'll have to woo him," Geoff mutters.

"You can woo him. I'm not wooing him," Michael warns. "I'm not wooing anybody."

"Could've fooled me," Geoff says and Michael glares at him.

Since Michael drives a little more aggressively than Jack, he and Geoff make it back to base a few minutes before the others do. Geoff sprawls out on the couch and reaches for his Xbox controller while Michael paces up and down the living room, flipping off the bullet hole smiley a couple of times.

"I'm gonna make him fix that," says Geoff, not taking his eyes off his Rocket League game.

"It'll end up looking worse," says Michael.

"I don't care. I'm making a point."

The front door opens and shuts and there's murmured talking in the hallway before Jack comes in first, then Jeremy, and lastly Gavin, still wearing his sunglasses. Inside. Asshole.

"Geoff," Jack says, crooking a finger at him. "A word." Geoff opens his mouth but Jack shakes her head. "It can't wait. It's about the security measures at the dock."

"Fine," Geoff grumbles, stabbing a finger into Gavin's chest as he passes him. "You and I aren't done, buddy. I'll be back for you."

Gavin just groans and watches Jack and Geoff duck into the conference room, the door closing with a soft snick. "Damn," he mutters.

Jeremy's left standing awkwardly between Michael and Gavin. "I, uh, I'm gonna be elsewhere," he says, looking from Michael to Gavin and back. "Several floors elsewhere."

Jeremy's a little guy and Michael has always known he was fast, but he's gone so fast Michael barely has time to blink. Then it's just him and Gavin and the bullet smiley on the wall. Gavin moves past him and throws himself onto the couch, taking off his sunglasses and tossing them on the table with no care as though they didn't cost him over a grand.

"Start yelling," Gavin says, not even meeting Michael's eyes.

"Why didn't you fucking tell me?!" Never let it be said Michael wastes an opportunity to yell at people, specifically Gavin.

"Because I never told anyone!" says Gavin.

"Why the fuck not?" Michael spreads his arms and takes a step closer to the couch. To Gavin's credit, he doesn't even flinch.

"Because I don't mention my exes to anyone. Ever!" says Gavin. "Not in my line of work. Not in the world we live in and with the lives we lead."

"So he's your ex, huh?" Michael snaps, clenching his fists.

Gavin gives him a look. "We were together for almost two years, Michael, what else should I call it? Him." He sits up, the lines of his body tense. "I get that you're mad, Michael—well, I don't really get it, and probably I should've mentioned it at some point before the meet—"

"Probably," says Michael, grinding his teeth.

"—but I've been with a couple of people in my life and I've shagged a whole bunch and I'd never mention any of them, not by name. I'm on good terms with a couple of them still and it would put them in a lot of danger, especially the ones that have regular jobs and lives." Gavin jabs a finger at him. "I'm not going to apologize for not announcing to the world that—that the Vagabond and I were once a thing."

"A thing."

"Dating. A couple. Together." Gavin sounds frustrated. "Whatever you want to call it."

"Yeah, well, you should have told me." Michael crosses his arms over his chest.

"Why?" Gavin asks and the honest confusion in his voice makes Michael want to kick the nearest chair through the window.

"I'm your friend."

"Your friend," Gavin echoes and the frustration in his voice makes Michael wince a little. "That's what I am to you?"

Michael can't answer that. Not now. Not with the image of Gavin and the Vagabond just looking at each other burned into his brain.

After it becomes obvious Michael's not gonna say anything, Gavin throws up his hands and changes tactics. "Everyone here is my bloody friend!" he says. "How many people have you told about the girls and guys you used to date?"

"I've told you about a few," Michael says lamely.

"Well, yeah, but I don't know their names, Michael. It's just 'the guy I was seeing when I was twenty, you know, the welder bloke' or 'the bird I shagged last year, remember her?' No names, no descriptions, nothing! But I should divulge the identity of a bloke I was once with because you'll get mad otherwise? Sod off, Michael." Gavin gets up. "I don't even know why you're so angry about this anyway."

"Because... because..." Because one of Gavin's exes is here, right now, and he's going to come back into Gavin's life and... what? Michael's not sure. He's sure he doesn't want to find out. "Because he's the fucking Vagabond, Gavin," he says instead. "He's dangerous and a lunatic."

"You're dangerous and a lunatic, Michael," Gavin bites back. "So am I. So's Geoff and Jack and Jeremy, and Ray's being a crazy dangerous loony somewhere else now." He shoves his way past Michael and says, "I'm heading down to the lab for research, if Geoff asks." He doesn't wait for Michael to say anything in response, just walks toward the stairs, shoulders slumped.

Michael stares after him, fingers curling into fists. "He's worse," he calls at Gavin's retreating back. "Worse than us!"

No answer.


Michael doesn't know what happened when Geoff eventually talked to Gavin about the whole mess – Gavin's been avoiding him and he doesn't want to ask Geoff – but the two of them made up about three minutes after the screaming stopped. So now it's just Michael who's on edge.


The Vagabond's joining them on a job today. A simple heist, just the hijacking of an armored car that according to Gavin's intel, should be carrying in the neighborhood of two million dollars. Pretty sweet if they can manage to pull it off. Of course, Geoff and Gavin will be in an unmarked van trailing the armored car on the road. Jack and Jeremy are providing air support from a helicopter. Which leaves Michael to do the actual hijacking, and since it's the Vagabond's first job with them, Geoff figured he'd slot in pretty naturally with Michael.

Michael sighs. He doesn't want to get stuck with the new guy, even if the new guy has done this dozens of times before and isn't afraid of killing. Or dying.

So now they're waiting for him at one of their safehouses. They still don't even know his name, but for everyone else, it's good enough that Gavin knows and trusts him. For Michael, it isn't.

He checks and re-checks his gun and he's deep in a conversation with Jeremy about the absolutely minuscule bombs Jeremy's bringing to throw from the chopper when there's the rumbling engine of a bike outside.

"That's him," Gavin says, getting up, not even looking at Michael as he walks past their table toward the front door. "He likes bikes."

Everyone heads outside and Michael doesn't want to be the only one stubbornly sitting in the cramped living room of one of their crappier safehouses, so he trails after them, and he's not at all impressed with the sweet black and gold Pegassi Ruffian the Vagabond's parking on the sidewalk.

The Vagabond hasn't bothered with a helmet. Probably it doesn't fit with the mask. He's swinging off his bike, looking at all of them, and sort of sheepishly raises a hand. "Hi," he says.

"Hi, Ryan," says Gavin and he smiles, a little crookedly. Michael's stomach flips.

"Hi, Gavin," says the Vagabond, sizing all of them up one by one, before focusing on Geoff. "The name's Ryan. That's all you're getting. And I'm not taking this off." He points at the mask.

"That's totally fair," Geoff says brightly. "I'm Geoff. This is Jack, Jeremy and Michael. And, uh, you know Gavin."

"I do," the Vagabond says. Michael hates that he can't see the guy's face, just his eyes. "It's nice to meet you all, I suppose." There's a short silence. "This is awkward."

Geoff laughs. "It kinda is. Let's go inside, we'll run through the mission before we head out."

Michael turns and heads back inside, holding the door open for everyone trailing after him. Gavin's talking to the Vagabond about something, animatedly waving his hands about, and there's a smile on his face that Michael's only seen directed at him before. He feels vaguely sick and lets the door fall closed, takes a deep breath. He takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes.

"You all right, Michael?" Jack asks.

"Yeah," he says, "yeah, just... allergies, you know. And I have to put in my contacts before we leave."

She nods. "All right. I got stuff for that if you need it."

He waves her off, hunching his shoulders a little bit when the front door opens again behind him and he hears Gavin and the Vagabond's voices, excitedly overlapping. "I'm okay. Thanks, though, Jack."

"No problem. Let's do this." She claps her hands and disappears into the small room they've designated a conference room.

Michael picks a seat away from the window and leans back. It's hard to pay attention to Geoff's run-through when Gavin sits on the table near the Vagabond, his legs swinging, and occasionally giving input. The Vagabond – and Michael really should start calling him by his name – for his part, asks a bunch of questions, but he seems to pick things up quickly and it's mostly just clarifying questions about how they usually do things.

"And I'll be working with Michael on this one?" The Vagab—Ryan asks, jerking a thumb at Michael and giving him what Michael assumes is an appraising look from behind the mask.

Michael gives him a tight smile. "Yep. Stuck with me. Don't worry, I know what I'm doing."

"You and Michael will be doing the actual hijacking. Jack and Jeremy in the helicopter will force the armored car to a stop, that's where you two come in." Geoff taps the map he's put up on the wall. "We're doing this out on Senora Freeway after we're past Boilingbroke."

"We're killing the driver?" Ryan asks. He sounds excited about the prospect.

Geoff shrugs. "Do it, don't do it, up to you."

"Oh, I'm gonna do it."

Gavin snorts. "You would."

Ryan tilts his head at him and gives him a thumbs up.

"I don't care," Geoff says. "Probably kill him if he gets a look at your faces. Well, mask. Well, Michael's face."

"No witnesses," says Jeremy.

"Exactly. All right." Geoff smacks his fist into his palm. "We're all set? All good? Any more questions? No? Then we get on the road now and start the setup. Gavin and I will be in the van, we'll let everyone know when the armored car is where we're taking it."

"Earpieces," Gavin says, opening up his laptop case. "Please don't destroy these, they were expensive to build." He gives Jeremy a look when he says that. "Don't drop them and then step on them, Jeremy ."

"Jeez, you destroy a five grand earpiece once and they never let you forget it," Jeremy mutters, taking the earpiece and handling it like it's made of porcelain. "Jeremy checking in, one, two, three."

Ryan turns the earpiece over in his hands and runs a thumb across the tiny golden G embossed on the side, just above the talk button. "Hideously gaudy, Gavin," he says. "I approve."

Gavin grins. "Thought you might. These are a lot like the ones we used a couple of years ago, but much improved, obviously. I love technology, it makes life so much easier. The range on these things is incredible."

Michael fiddles with his earpiece and checks to see if it works. This is the part he likes. Where he has Gavin's voice in his ear, and the others', and they're off to do cool shit and earn a fuckload of money in the process. He checks his ammunition supply and goes to exchange his glasses for contacts before meeting Ryan out front.

The others have gone already and Ryan's leaning against Michael's car. "Nice ride," he says.

"Yeah," Michael says shortly. "Get in."

The drive to Senora is done mostly in silence. It's not until Michael's speeding up to match the rest of traffic that Ryan asks, "how do you want to play this? Shoot out the tires? Get in front of it? Drive-by?"

"In front of it," Michael decides. "We force it to a stop, we get out, you get the passenger if there is one, I get the driver."

"So you're driving, huh?"

Michael casts him a quick glance, once again cursing the mask that hides his face. "Did you want to? Are you a good driver?"

"I'm serviceable," says Ryan.

"Well, I'm a great driver, so I'm doing it, all right?"

"All right," Ryan says soothingly. It's absolutely maddening. "You can drive. I was just asking."

Michael's fingers tighten on the wheel. "We've done this before. We have a routine. Just... stick close but don't get in the way, all right? I'm used to doing this part alone." It could be good, having a second gun around just in case this is the time Gruppe 6 decides to have an actual security force on board, but Michael mostly feels a deep sense of irritation.

"I won't get in your way," Ryan promises. "I'm kinda curious to see how this team operates before I solidify my decision."

"I'm surprised you're even here," says Michael, his heart speeding up a little.

Ryan shrugs. "Gavin had a point. A few points, actually." His gloved fingers run across the back of his right hand. "There's been a few times when I wished I had somebody to bail me out out of a bad situation. Working with Gavin back then... it was good. Good to know somebody had my back, that I wasn't going to die alone without anyone knowing where I was. That somebody would remember." He shakes his head. "Sorry. That got, uh, melancholic pretty quick."

"No worries," Michael says. It's not like those aren't thoughts he's never had. The big advantage of working alone – nobody telling you what to do – doesn't weigh up against the disadvantages. The loneliness. Having to rely on yourself when your body was battered and bruised and you were bleeding from eleven different places. Nobody to help you out, to fix your gun, clean your gear or prep your next job. Yeah, he prefers working in a team. People he can trust. Gavin. "So you're just, what, trying this thing out again?"

"I guess?" Ryan says, glancing out the window. "I mean, that's what we're all doing, right? If you guys decide you don't actually want me around, then I'll be gone. No hard feelings. Promise I won't come back to haunt any of you."

"Haunt us or kill us?"

Ryan laughs. "Either one." He's got a nice laugh, even muffled by the mask.

"All right," Gavin suddenly says in his ear. "We're up, boys and girl. We've got a visual on the armored truck. It's about to go down. We're hanging behind it for another mile. Michael, Ryan, step on it and get ahead of it. Jeremy, Jack, we're not seeing you just yet, are you incoming?"

"We are on our way," Jeremy replies. "We're flying against the wind, but Jack's doing all that she can. Our ETA is about two minutes."

"Two minutes," Gavin repeats.

"There's the van," Ryan says, pointing at the ugly, rickety yellow monstrosity Geoff is driving down the highway. Michael's faster Banshee quickly passes it and then they spot the armored truck for the first time.

It's going a steady sixty miles an hour in the far right lane. Michael gets ahead of it and Ryan turns his head to take a look into the cabin.

"Two guys," he reports. "Both in uniform, presumably armed."

"Understood," Geoff says over the earpiece.

"We're here," Jack says and Michael hears the low thwup wup of a helicopter zooming overhead even though he can't see them just yet. "Where are we taking it? Gotta be fast, people will be noticing that we're not passing, just hovering."

"Other side of the overpass," says Michael, speeding up. "Wait til the truck's clear, then I'll slam the brakes and we do it."

"Gotcha," says Jack, "I've got time for a quick loop around so we'll face the truck head-on."

Ryan unbuckles his seat belt and adjusts his mask. Michael gives him a quick, assessing glance, but he can't find anything to quibble with. The guy looks ready to rob an armored truck. Michael accelerates a little, checks his mirrors, checks the sky in time to see the helicopter swing around and bear down on them. Far, far behind is the ugly yellow van, keeping pace with them but hanging back.

They're under the overpass.

"Brace yourself," Michael says, unsnapping his seat belt too and slamming on the brakes. The Banshee slides forward another couple dozen of feet; behind them, the armored truck's brakes screech and wail. Behind that, a cacophony of honking starts up, but Michael ignores it as he always does. He throws the door open and gets out, raising his gun as he advances on the armored truck. The driver's eyes are momentarily wide and panicked, then they're dull and lifeless because there's a bullet hole in the center of his forehead.

Michael cuts Ryan a quick look, but Ryan's already moving ahead of him, taking out the passenger side security fucker with a single shot as well.

"All down," Ryan says, "we're in." He shoots the passenger side door lock, gets in and opens the driver's side door for Michael. It's smooth and easy. Michael hates that Ryan's clearly good at this shit.

"LSPD's been alerted," says Gavin. "I'm tracking phone calls coming in to their switchboard. Step on it, Michael. Get the hell out of there."

"This isn't exactly a fast car, Gavin," Michael snaps. "Oh shit, is someone shooting at us?" He hears low thuds, like bullets impacting the armored car.

"I see 'em," says Jeremy, "coupla guys behind you trying to be heroes." He starts firing and Michael hears it twice; once in reality and once as an echo through the comms. "Not anymore, though."

"Nice work, Lil' J," says Michael, flooring it.

"I wonder what they hoped to accomplish by firing a gun into the back of an armored truck," Ryan says, rifling through the truck's glove compartment.

"Heroically stopping terrorists from hijacking two million dollars," says Geoff. Michael can hear his grin through the comms. "All right, time for the next stage. Michael, take the next exit. Cops will be on us soon, but Gavin will intercept their radios and divert units to the wrong place all over town. We are heading to safehouse number eleven, because it's my favorite number and also because it's got a double garage."

The armored truck tops out at 75 miles an hour, which really isn't that fast, and the thing is heavy and handles like shit. Still, Michael's driven these things before so he's got a decent feel for how they move and they're off the highway and heading into town before too long.

"This is going really smoothly," Ryan comments, the surprise in his voice evident.

"Gav's on the police frequency," Michael says, not taking his eyes off the road. "He's sending cop cars to the wrong side of town so they have no idea where we are."

"Nice," Ryan says appreciatively. "Couldn't do that five years ago, could you?"

"Shut up, Ryan," says Gavin. "I got you out of that, didn't I?"

"Yeah, but first you got me into it. That's the important part."

"No, it isn't. Getting you out of that muddle is the important part!"

"Sounds like a story I wanna hear some day," Geoff breaks in, "but not today. Michael, Ryan, any trouble?"

"Looks clear," Michael says.

"Great. Jeremy, Jack?"

"Nothing to see from up here," Jack reports. "I'm gonna head over to Power Street and check the area around the safehouse, all right?"

"That's fine," Geoff allows. "I think we're in the clear. Job well done, guys. Went off without a hitch."

"Four dead, that's not bad," says Jeremy. "Two of them didn't have to die, but they decided they wanted to take a couple of shots at us, so, you know. Dumb."

"Really dumb," says Michael. "They should really know who we are by now."

"We are not having the logo debate again!" says Geoff immediately and Michael giggles, some of the tension leaving his body.

"Logo debate," Ryan says slowly.

"Jack designed a logo," Jeremy says. "Like, for a joke, but we kind of want to use it. Stick it up somewhere every time we pull off a job. Get our names out there."

"Sure, let's just leave identifying marks as evidence all over!" says Geoff.

"It'd be so much fun, though," says Gavin.

"I know you think so, asshole, with your little golden G on the earpieces."

"Those are meant to be on us at all times," Gavin protests, "not to be spread around. Whoever loses theirs owes me five grand, just so you know."

"Fuck you," says Geoff. "I paid for those."

Gavin laughs. "Fair play, Geoffrey."

Michael can picture him, sitting in the back of the van, hunched over the laptop on his lap, more laptops on the floor, hair a mess from having shoved his hands through it too many times, bickering with whoever was unfortunate enough to drive him. It's a familiar vision, one Michael's seen dozens of times at this point.

"How's it going in the armored truck?" Gavin asks, sounding a touch too casual about it.

Michael and Ryan look at each other. "We're fine," Michael says, looking away first. "No cops in sight. Power Street is about four miles away. Just be on the lookout for any chatter talking about a Gruppe 6 armored car in streets where they're not ordinarily seen."

"Yes, Michael, I know. I've actually done this before."

"Well, I'm just saying," Michael says. "You wanted a status update, you got a status update."

"No, what I got was an explanation from you on how to do my job which I've been doing for four years."

Silence on the frequency.

"Awkwaaaaard," Jeremy whispers through his earpiece.

"Shut up," Michael grouses, taking the next turn hard enough for Ryan to slam into the passenger side door. He doesn't say anything or complain, just gives Michael a quick look, eyes sliding away when Michael tries to glare back.

"All right, boys, play nice," Geoff warns. "Let us know when you get there, Michael."

"Right." Michael blows out a quiet breath and slows down. No need to draw unnecessary attention barreling down beaten down quiet streets.

They make it to Power Street without issue and Michael directs Ryan to open up the garage so he can get the truck inside. Geoff and Gavin show up a few minutes later, Gavin dragging his four laptops into the house because he doesn't want to leave them in the shitty van in the shitty neighborhood.

"All right," Geoff says in the garage, eyeing the van. "We gotta open this can up, and we'll do that as soon as Jeremy and the bombs get here. Unless, Michael, you've got something stashed away somewhere?"

"Sorry," Michael says, "had to make room for my SMG. Bombs would just get in my way."

"What did you think?" Geoff asks Ryan. "Tell me you're not at least a little impressed by how well that went."

Ryan chuckles. "It went very smoothly. I don't think I've ever pulled off an armored truck hijack without getting out there with at least a dozen cop cars on my ass. It was the most quiet get-away of my life."

Geoff grins. "Well, we aim to please."

Michael looks at Gavin, who is very determinedly not looking back at him. Instead, he's watching Geoff and Ryan talk and he looks... off, somehow. Michael looks away. Gavin's obviously still pissed. Good. Great. Michael's still pissed at him, too, anyway. Who keeps secrets like that from their best friend? He leans forward and examines the truck's lock. Good. It hasn't changed from the last time; he and Jeremy should have no problems getting it open.

Jack and Jeremy arrive about ten minutes later, having stashed the helicopter at the nearest friendly airport where they know some people.

"Nice work!" Jeremy says, raising a hand for a high five.

Michael obliges because he can't not, now can he?

The two of them turn their attention to the lock and decide to just start with C4 since that worked well for them last time.

"Looks like the same lock," says Jeremy. "Shouldn't be an issue."

And it isn't. They hide out in the kitchen after they've planted the C4 and there's a really satisfyingly loud bang that the neighbors will probably hear and when they get back into the garage, the lock is smoking and one of the safety doors is hanging half off its hinges.

Geoff and Michael yank open the door and the six of them are greeted by the amazing, wonderful sight of tightly-wrapped stacks of green bills with pictures of dead presidents. Lots and lots and lots of them.

Michael feels his grin widening. Days like these are the best.

Days like these are the worst.

Michael's lungs are burning as he skids around the corner, footsteps echoing hollowly off the dilapidated walls. He's not sure how many are behind him, all he knows is that it's too fucking many.

They're scattered. It's bad. Jack's screaming in his ear about how she's running for a helicopter, Geoff's swearing in a continuous stream, Jeremy is quiet but steadily giving them his new location over and over again as he's fleeing for his life, Gavin's shrieking and Ryan, the Vagabond, is not saying much at all but every time he speaks it's accompanied by the sounds of a firefight, so he's definitely wrapped up in something.

At least everyone still has their earpiece. One good thing in this whole mess.

Michael rounds a corner and takes a minute to get himself back under control. His lungs hurt – he's in pretty good shape, but it's been a fucking night – and he's sweating like a pig. "Goddammit," he hisses. How did everything go to shit so fucking fast?

It was supposed to be a simple drug exchange. Ramsey's drugs for their money. Simple. Done it a thousand times before. Meet, talk, exchange, verify goods, leave. Ten minutes, tops.

The other guys were new in town, but getting established. Geoff had been hesitant to meet with them, so he'd taken all of them with him and gone to the meet with Jack and Ryan as his backups. Michael had hung back at the door and he'd been worried about a little, because the Blaze gang member also at the door was a huge dude, easily a head taller and twice Michael's width.

Everything had gone pretty smoothly.

Then one of the guys had sized Jack up, bottom to top, and Michael had expected some lewd comment, a raunchy joke, a demand she take her shirt off or whatever, but instead he'd said, thoughtfully, "well, you don't look like a tranny," and Geoff had taken out his gun and shot him in the head.

Michael doesn't know where the drugs went or who has the money. He just knows he kicked the huge Blaze gang member in the dick before shooting him – he'd aimed for his stomach, but had gotten his thigh – and getting the hell out of there as the shooting started up, Geoff and Jack's 'go-go-go!'s ringing in his ears.

He checks his gun and feels around for his spare clips. He's good, for now. He looks back, doesn't see anyone, and carefully moves forward, edging around the corner of the building. Still no one. Has he lost them? Or are they moving as quietly as he is?

"Michael, where are you?" Geoff asks sharply in his ear. "You safe?"

"For now," he says in a whisper. "I think they're close, though. Gonna go silent."

"Understood," says Geoff. "I'm with Jack, we've found a helicopter and we're trying to get it to run so we can start getting people out. Jeremy, status?"

"I am getting to a car," Jeremy says, "I have about two or three people on me right now. How many assholes are there in this gang?"

"More than we knew," Geoff says grimly. "Keep us posted, Jeremy. Gavin, where are you?"

"Uh, well, Ryan and I are in a bit of a scuffle—oof!" says Gavin. "Oh, bollocks! Ryan!"

"We're good, we're good," says Ryan and Michael hears the rapid tat-tat-tat of his semi-automatic, "oh, nice shot, Gavin. We're good, they're dead. Yeah, we're having some issues here, evac would be super fucking nice right about now."

"We are at the corner of Milton and West Eclipse," Gavin says, sounding out of breath. "I think there's still a dozen dudes left. We're gonna move east toward Vinewood Boulevard."

"Copy that," says Geoff, "we're in the air, looking for you."

"Get them first," Michael says, looking up as he hears a helicopter approach. "They need it more than I do. Oh, fuck!" Just as he's said it, he sees two guys come in from the way he's headed. They see him and for a second and a half, nobody moves. Michael dives behind a group of trash cans and ducks low as bullets fly over his head and ding against the trash cans. "Oh, fuck, I take that back, I need help now."

"Where are you?" Geoff yells and Michael yanks out his flare gun and fires it into the air. "Oh, Christ, you brought a flare gun? I could kiss you right now, Michael Jones, you beautiful bastard! We see you, we're coming in!"

"You're never gonna land that thing in this street!" Michael says, popping his head up above the trashcans to fire off a few quick shots.

"Watch me," says Jack and then there's the sound of bullets hitting the ground in front of Michael's pursuers. Music to his fucking ears, even if Geoff's aim is horribly off because he's notoriously terrible at shooting from a helicopter. His wild cover fire is working, though, and even if he's not hitting the guys, they're at least scattering and scrambling to get out his line of fire while Michael makes a mad dash for the chopper as soon as Jack is steadily lowering it to the ground.

He hauls himself up and in, bangs his hip on the floor and shouts, "Go, go, go, I'm in, I'm in! Up, up!" Groaning, he rolls over a few times and comes to a stop against the seat, winded. His hip's throbbing, his sweat-soaked shirt is sticking to his chest and back, but he's alive and in the air, and that's all that matters. "God fucking dammit," he says, pushing himself up and leaning out to take a couple of potshots at the assholes on the ground. "This is a disaster."

"It-it-it... it's not good," says Geoff, turning around in his seat once they're high enough. "But I'm not sorry for shooting that guy in the dick."

"You shot him in the head, Geoff," Michael says, grunting as he pushes himself into a seat. "But I agree, I'm not sorry you did that. Fucker asked for that bullet." Jack slightly turns her head toward him and he can see the smile tugging at her lips. "We got eyes on Ryan and Gav?"

"Not yet," Geoff says, "cause I don't think they have a flare gun."

Michael grins. "You just never know when it's gonna come in handy, Geoff."

"Well, there's several traffic accidents on West Eclipse," says Jack, banking the helicopter. "So I assume they were here a few minutes ago. Michael, how are you on ammo?"

"Enough to fuck some bitches up. Where's Jeremy?" Michael puts his hand to his ear. "Lil' J?"

"I'm good," says Jeremy. "I got a car and I lost them. Heading to Vinewood Boulevard now to find Gavin and Ryan."

"Holy crap, I think I see them," says Geoff, leaning dangerously far out of the helicopter. "On that bike down there."

Michael moves to sit on the edge of the helicopter floor, SMG at the ready, and looks down at West Eclipse. The boulevard is a mess, several pile-ups and crashes to the west, the bright lights from police and SWAT to the east. A lone bike weaves its way through traffic and even from the helicopter Michael can see the thing is going at an insane speed. Behind it are several more bikes, and a few cars struggling to keep pace with the bikes.

"Shit," Michael says. "Can you go lower, Jack?"

"I can try," she says. "But there's police choppers incoming as well."

"Shit," Michael says again, readying his SMG.

"I'm on Vinewood," Jeremy says, "there's roadblocks, fuck."

Ryan's driving, Michael can now see it, though he already figured on it because Gavin is a disaster on motorbikes. And in cars and boats and trucks. Gavin is... not sitting behind Ryan. Michael squints down. No, Gavin is sitting in front of Ryan on the bike, but facing backwards, facing Ryan, and he's got his arms over Ryan's shoulders and he's firing wildly at their pursuers, with limited success.

"It's like something from a movie!" Geoff shouts over the wind and the rotor blades roaring above them.  "Except they might actually die if they hit something, Jesus, they're going way too fucking fast. Get ahead and then turn us toward those assholes, Jack."

"Done," she says and the chopper picks up speed. As soon as Michael can see Gavin and Ryan's pursuers, he starts firing, keeping a half eye on the bike picking its way through traffic.

"There's roadblocks on Vinewood, Gavin, if you can hear me," says Jeremy urgently. "Don't go there, take a right onto Las Lagunas, they're still setting up there, but they've having issues clearing the street. Should be a lot easier. Do you copy? Ryan? Gavin?"

"We got you," Gavin says after a few long, tense seconds. "Right on Las Lagunas."

"You've got so much shit on your ass," Michael informs them. "Not just Blazes, but cops and SWAT and probably some citizens looking for a medal."

"Yeah, we're aware," says Ryan. "The other issue is... uh, this very nice bike belongs to one of the Lost. So they're kind of after us too."

"Motherfucker," Geoff and Michael say at the same time.

"Seriously?" Geoff's voice reaches that high-pitched register that means he's really fucking pissed off. "The Lost? Are they the bikers behind you? Are we shooting at the Lost? Goddammit, Ryan, I do not want to start a war with the Lost!"

"The cars, the cars!" Gavin yells. "The cars are the Blaze guys, the bikers are the Lost. I'm trying not to hit the Lost dudes and—oh, my God, Ryan!"

Michael watches Ryan take the sharp right turn onto Las Lagunas and his heart shoots into his throat. Ryan's got the bike so close to the ground it's practically horizontal and they must be going at least forty still, taking the turn. Even from up here, Michael imagines he can see the white of Gavin's knuckles as his hands fist in Ryan's leather jacket. He's shrieking something incoherent and English on the comms and Ryan actually laughs at him, low and amused.

"Jesus Christ," says Geoff, exhaling loudly as the bike straightens up again and Ryan floors it down Las Lagunas, effortlessly zipping past cars and tearing through the beginnings of a roadblock the LSPD is trying to put together. "I think I'm having a heart attack, I'm gonna die. I need vodka."

"Don't die," Jack says, "I can't really look right now, where's the Blaze cars?"

Right. Michael needs to focus on the carnage down on the street and not on thinking about how tightly Gavin must be clinging to Ryan right about now. Shit.

"Lagging way behind," Michael says, "the Lost bikers are keeping up, though. Kinda."

"Shake 'em," Geoff orders.

"Trying," Ryan grits out. "It's a lot harder than it sounds!"

Michael starts raining down bullets  in front of the Lost bikers; he can count five of them and all of them are heavily armed and taking shots at Ryan and Gavin, who thankfully seem to be too far ahead to be reliably hit. But Michael knows it only takes one lucky shot for the bike to go down or for Gavin to die. He needs to severely discourage the bikers from continuing the chase, without outright killing one or more of them. Geoff doesn't want to start a war with the Lost because it'd suck up way too much resources and time and while stealing one of their bikes was... not a great move, it's not something they'd get killed for.


Dammit, Ryan.

He pulls out his flare gun and starts firing flares at the street while Jack keeps the chopper between Gavin and Ryan and their pursuers. A mailbox catches fire almost instantly and Michael whoops, though he was aiming for a car instead. He keeps at it, blanketing the street with bright purple flares until, yes, fucking finally, a car catches fire and its driver starts swerving back and forth in a wild panic, crashing into the back of a bus and spinning sideways. He can't see what happens next because Jack's turning the helicopter in a lazy circle, but there's an explosion and a wave of heat and smoke starts billowing into the street.

"Woohoo!" Jeremy roars, wherever the fuck he is. "I saw that happen, Michael!"

"Bloody hell!" says Gavin. "That is a lot of smoke back there! Are we in the clear?"

"I think so," Michael says, scanning the street. "The pile-up blocked the road. Take a couple of random turns and they won't know where you went. Then we can go to... Geoff, where are we going?"

"Uh," says Geoff, scratching his face and giving his mustache a quick pull. "Where are we going, Jack?"

"Blaine county," says Jeremy, before Jack can answer. "The Lost have a camp there, don't they?" He pauses for a few seconds, before adding, "we can return the bike."

Jeremy is a fucking genius and Michael grins as Geoff tells him so.

"Provided it's not too banged up," Jeremy adds.

"Uh, there's a few dents and dings from bullets," says Gavin, sounding winded. "But we haven't crashed it. Yet. Despite Ryan's maniacal driving style."

Geoff blows out a long breath over the comms. "Christ, I think I aged about ten years this hour. Well done, all of you fuckheads. We're heading to Blaine county now. We'll regroup, return the bike and then head home. We'll discuss everything that happened and what might happen next after we've all had a long shower and a good night's sleep. Everyone's in one piece, right?"

A chorus of affirmatives rings out on Michael's earpiece and he can feel some of the tension drain from his battered, sore body. Now he can feel his burning hip again and he can also smell himself, great. Everything else seems okay. Nothing broken or punctured by bullets this time.

The flight to Blaine county is over in a few minutes and once they've landed in the sand a good bit away from the road, Michael climbs from the chopper with a wince, taking a few moments to stretch his legs and test the motion of his hip. It's... not too bad. It'll be sore for a few days, but a quick look confirms it's just a massive bruise.

"Ouch," Geoff says in sympathy. "When did that happen?"

"When I got into the chopper at the extraction," says Michael. "I'll live."

"You will, buddy." Geoff claps him on his shoulder. "Great work with the flares. Both times. We should probably have those things on us at all times, huh?"

"Might not be a bad idea," Michael says.

"Hey, Geoff," says Jack, just as Michael sees a car approach, followed by a bike. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

Geoff looks super awkward and vaguely embarrassed for a second, but then nods, and he and Jack move away, out of earshot.  Michael's torn between wanting to watch whatever is going on between those two and wanting to watch Jeremy, Gavin and Ryan return.

Jeremy's stolen someone's old beater and he just parks it haphazardly and climbs out, grinning at Michael. "Flares, dude!" he says. "Maybe even better than the smoke bombs I totally left back at the base."

"Mhm, yeah," Michael says, entirely tuning out Jeremy when he starts talking about the merits of smoke bombs versus flares.

Ryan's parked the bike too far away from Michael to hear what he's saying to Gavin. The two of them are still sitting on it, face to face, talking. They're close. Way too fucking close, legs touching, chests inches apart. Gavin's hair is windblown and Ryan's mask is a little askew and Gavin's jittering a little bit like he always does after an adrenaline-fueled excursion. He looks fucking phenomenal.

Michael takes a step closer and stops. Jeremy's still talking; he's not hearing it. Gavin's lowered his head and Michael can see Ryan lift his hand and quickly drop it again. He says something and Gavin jerks his head up, staring at him. Yeah, he then says. Michael can't hear it, but he can see Gavin's mouth form the word. For one long second, Michael thinks they're gonna kiss. Right there, right in front of him, high on adrenaline from a terrifying chase through the streets of Los Santos.

They don't. Gavin just smiles; Ryan does... whatever behind his mask and they climb off the motorbike. Gavin shoots Michael a quick glance and gives him a small smile and a thumbs up. Michael returns the gestures automatically and it must not come across as genuine because Gavin's smile falters a little. Michael feels unreasonably pleased by that and hates himself for it.

"All right, we're all here, gather up," Geoff calls and clears his throat. "Okay, so... so that was a bit of a mess. I will be man enough to admit it was a little bit my fault."

"Entirely your fault," says Michael. "But we don't blame you."

Jeremy and Gavin murmur in agreement and Michael chances a quick look at Ryan. Ryan, who hadn't known. The unknown quantity.

"I would've taken him alive," Ryan says, shrugging. "Started with his least essential bodyparts, ended with his most. Knives are real good for that sort of thing. Of course, we'd have a bit of a discussion about he would consider essential and not essential, but that's all part of the fun. This? This was way too easy a death for that douchebag."

Geoff opens and closes his mouth and shakes his head. "You're a psychopath," he tells Ryan, "but I like that about you."

Ryan gives two mocking thumbs up. "Thank you."

"I'm gonna take the bike and take it over to the Lost," says Geoff. "I'm not gonna talk to any of them because I don't wanna get fucking shot in the dick tonight, but I've got a contact in the Lost and I'll send her a message and offer to pay for any damages."

"I'll come with you just in case," says Jack.

Geoff nods. "All right. The rest of you dicks, go home. Shower, sleep. We'll figure out what to do about the lost drugs tomorrow." He shakes his head. "Fuck, man. I'm glad it wasn't a huge amount, but fuck."

"Geoff, I—" Jack starts and he cuts her off.

"I don't wanna hear it," he says. "Nobody talks to you like that. Nobody. I told you once and I'll tell you again."

They disperse. Michael, Jeremy, Ryan and Gavin pile into Jeremy's stolen car. Michael ends up in the backseat with Gavin and they sit far apart, Gavin staring out the window, nervously drumming his fingers on his leg. He still seems wired, on edge, and Michael wants to say something, help him calm down a little, but he doesn't know what, and besides that, he's still mad, right? Right.

Gavin's apartment is closest once they hit town again and he says his goodbyes in a cheery, but shivery way. "Adrenaline," he explains before he closes the door. "I'll be fine, no worries."

"Take care," Jeremy says.

Ryan asks Jeremy to let him out a couple of blocks later. "I'll get to my place from here," he says.

"Don't want us to know where you're staying, huh?" says Jeremy.

Ryan pauses with his hand on the handle. "No offense."

"None taken," Michael mutters from the backseat. Great. Ryan's place is pretty close to Gavin's. He wonders if Gavin knows that.

"Tomorrow," Ryan says and he shuts the door and disappears in an alley.

Jeremy shakes his head. "Weird guy. Hell of a driver, though, I caught some of that."

"Yeah," says Michael. "Hell of a driver." He stretches out on the backseat as Jeremy drives him to his block. "Thanks, Lil' J," he says, getting out. "See you tomorrow."

"Yeah," says Jeremy and then, "you okay, Michael? You seem... tense."

"It was a tense day," says Michael and Jeremy smiles at that. "Geoff's right. Shower and sleep and I'll feel much better." He watches Jeremy drive off with just one working brake light and sighs. Shower. Sleep. Better in the morning.

Michael can't sleep. The shower's done nothing to stop his brain from working overtime. He tosses and turns and eventually turns the lights back on and reaches for his Xbox controller. He's only a little surprised to see one of Geoff's gamer tags online as well.

He sends him a message and puts his headset on, waiting for Geoff to accept. He might not. He might've passed out on his couch with his controller in his hands. Wouldn't be the first time. But Geoff's there and soon the two of them are in a Rocket League game screaming at foreign assholes who can't hear them and probably wouldn't understand them if they could.

"Everything went well with the bike drop?" Michael asks.

"Yeah," Geoff says and swears when another car bumps him out of the way. "I sent Griffon a message but I haven't heard back from her."

Michael whistles quietly. "She's gonna wreck you."

"That's how I like my women," Geoff says, grinning.

"You and Jack okay?" Michael tries for casual and doesn't know if he quite got there.

"Yeah," says Geoff, "yeah, I mean, we're fine. She just wanted to say thanks. I mean, she was also mad I fucked the deal over some dick's asshole comment, but... Yeah, we're fine."

They're both quiet for a minute as they focus on the game they're horribly losing, then Geoff says, tone light and airy, "speaking of, uh, are you and Gavin ever gonna kiss and make up?"

Michael grits his teeth. "We're fine."

"Suuure," Geoff says, "that's why you haven't talked all week."

"We talked! We talked today!"

"Comms chatter does not count, Michael." Geoff sighs. "Look, I'm not your daddy, or Gavin's, and it's really none of my business that you two lovebirds are having a fight, but if it's gonna affect work..."

"It won't," says Michael. "It hasn't, has it now? He's just... I'm just..." Fuck. He feels stupid. Has felt stupid for a few days now. He shoves his glasses up and pinches the bridge of his and breathes a heavy sigh.

"I know you're mad he didn't say anything about Ryan," says Geoff and there's that gentle, I-am-not-your-father-but-if-I-were voice that Michael has had directed at him before, "but I gotta be honest, Michael, I get where he's coming from. It's not exactly information I'd spread around either."

Michael closes his eyes, not even caring when his car spins out of control and bounces off the wall. He feels drained. "I'm not asking him to spread it around, Geoff. It's just... I'm..."

"Jealous as dicks?" Geoff offers in a cheery tone.

Michael's grateful he doesn't flush easily and that he and Geoff can't actually see each other because yeah, his cheeks are definitely feeling a bit warmer. "No!" he says.

"Yes!" Geoff says in the exact same tone. "You want his bony little ass, God knows why, and you're mad he had a sex life before you came along."

"I'm hanging up on you," Michael threatens. "I'm gonna disconnect your ass and go back to bed."

"Fine by me," Geoff says smugly. "Do it, you shithead, you don't have the balls to ragequit on your boss. I pay you, remember that."

"Fuck you," says Michael and sighs, rubbing at his eyes. "Am I being stupid, Geoff?"

"Little bit," says Geoff. "Mostly just stubborn. I forgave him, you know? Yelled at him for two hours, then gave him a hug. I was pissed we had the perfect in for getting the fucking Vagabond on our little crew and he never said anything. Look, Michael, if you're gonna sit around and wait for Gavin to come to you to tell you he totally wants your dumb fucking ass too, you're gonna die. He's never gonna make the first move. You know him as well as I do. It's never gonna happen." Geoff groans loudly over the headset. "Christ, am I really giving smoochy love advice to a guy who's killed over two dozen people? Fuck me, I hate my life. I hate it so much."

"You love your life," says Michael. "I hate mine, though. And it's thirty-nine, now."

"Yeah, well, fuck you," says Geoff. "That's all I'm gonna say about it. You two figure shit out before I step in and bang your heads together until you're dead."

None of that helps Michael sleep once he's signed out of Xbox Live and buried himself back under the covers. It's a short, restless night. He gets up early, showers again just to kill some time and then heads out to grab some breakfast on his way to Gavin's. He'll offer to drive him to work so he won't have to steal a car this morning (Gavin's favorite Blista is, once again, at their mechanics undergoing repairs) and then maybe possibly actually talk to him.

With doughnuts and coffee in hand, he drives over the Gav's apartment building and slips inside just as a woman goes out. She even holds the door open for him and Michael gives her his most charming smile and a drawled 'thank you so much' that makes her blush. Yeah. He's still got it.

He foregoes the elevator and trudges up to the sixth floor where he gives Gavin's door a quick rap of his knuckles and waves at the camera. "Gav? You up? It's me." He's got a key and a passcode, but right now he doesn't quite feel like he should be using it, given how awkward things are between them.

Gavin's moving around inside, Michael can hear him, and there's a yelp and hissed exclamations that Michael's fairly sure aren't actually English words and then the door opens. "Michael!"

"Yeah," says Michael slowly. "You okay?"

Gavin looks good. Great, actually, just out of the shower, hair gelled up and dressed in tailored designer clothes that cost more than Michael's rent. Business as usual. But his eyes are a little wild and he looks a bit... nervous.

"You're here," Gavin says unnecessarily. "You brought breakfast?" He grins at that and meets Michael's eyes almost carefully. "That's so sweet, thank you, Michael."

"You're welcome." Michael gestures with his full hands. "Can I come in and put this shit down?"

"Right," says Gavin and there's a look in his eyes that Michael can't decipher. "Of course. Yes. Come on in. Don't, uh, don't mind the mess."

"I won't." Michael frowns. Granted, Gavin's not the neatest person in the world, but he's got people cleaning his apartment once a week and his place is usually pretty spotless, aside from tons of expensive equipment like cameras and laptops just left wherever Gavin's attention was drawn to something else. "Jesus," he says, stepping into the hall. "What the hell happened here?"

The side table near the door has been knocked over, its contents strewn across the floor, a shirt covering most of it. The big wall mirror is cracked right down the middle and no longer hangs on the wall, but sits on the floor on its side. Gavin's shoe racks been kicked over and there's shoes and sneakers and boots and a belt littering the hallway toward the living room.

"Did you get burgled?" Michael asks. "Someone break in?"

"What?" Gavin says and follows Michael's gaze. "Oh, no, nothing like that. It's just... Um."

Way in the back of Gavin's apartment, the shower that had been running since Michael came in suddenly stops. A door slams. Gavin shifts his weight awkwardly and refuses to meet Michael's eye.

"Oh," Michael says, feeling like the biggest idiot in the world. "You... you're not alone."

"Michael," Gavin starts.

Michael looks at the mess, sees the black boots that aren't Gavin's and the shirt that's way too big to be Gavin's and the belt... well, the belt might be his. It's lined with gold and platinum, after all. Not a burglary. This is the result of two people so hot for each other that they might not have made it to the bedroom. "What, you went out and picked someone up at a bar after yesterday's disaster?" Even as he's saying it, he knows that's not it.

"I didn't pick anyone up at a bar." Gavin sounds so insulted Michael has to laugh. As though he's never done that before. As though they've never done that before, especially after shitshow days like yesterday. Nothing quite clears that adrenaline high like a good fuck. "It's... it's..." Gavin sighs and looks at Michael. "Ryan's here," he says.

"Yeah," Michael says and blows out a shaky breath. "I kinda thought so. It's okay," he says when Gavin opens his mouth. "Seriously. I mean, you're an adult and he's an adult and you two are..." Michael trails off and chews his bottom lip. He came here to apologize. He should apologize. He should ignore the churning in his stomach and man up and say he's sorry. "I'm gonna go," he says and shoves the coffee and doughnuts into Gavin's hands. "See you at the base."

"Michael," Gavin starts.

"Gavin," Michael says, ruthlessly cutting him off. "It's okay. Don't worry about it. I'm not mad anymore, all right?"

"You still sound mad," says Gavin quietly.

"I always sound mad, Gav, you know that." He runs a hand through his hair and musters up a smile from God knows where. "Enjoy your breakfast."

All he can think of when he bangs down the stairs is that he's too fucking late.

Michael's been shot, stabbed, burned, thrown off a building (thank Christ he was wearing a parachute), nearly drowned and tortured to the point of unconsciousness, but the following week might be the worst one of his life. Nobody else knows about Gavin and Ryan's... thing... so Michael's the only noticing the looks, the casual touches, the unspoken communication, the way Ryan's head turns whenever Gavin enters the room he's in, and the way they're carefully leaving at different times at night and arriving at different times in the mornings.

Michael hates his life.

A small part of him recognizes he's being way too fucking dramatic, but he ignores it, and tries to stare Ryan to death as they're sitting at the conference table watching Geoff fuck around on his phone. Ryan, for his part, is the fucking champion of entirely not acknowledging Michael's even in the room and Michael wants to rip off that stupid fucking mask and shove it down his throat.

"So the Blazes are still pretty fucking pissed at us for killing that useless cunt," says Geoff, tapping his phone off and leaning on the table in the conference room. "Turns out he was somebody's kid, blah, blah, blah, they want to see us dead. That's the 'eh, whatever' news. They can get in line behind everyone else that wants us dead."

Ryan snorts and Jeremy laughs a little. "Quite the line," the latter says.

"The more annoying news is that they have our drugs and our money. I want both. I want the three hundred grand back and I want every single fucking damn pill back. The good news is, the Lost are gonna help us. Turns out they're not big fans of the Blaze gang after one of them fucked one of their women and then threatened to kill her when she lost interest in the asshole after that. It did not have a pretty ending," says Geoff, shuddering a little. "Apparently you, uh, don't get to threaten to kill a Lost member and walk away with your dick still attached."

Everyone except Jack winces.

"I've been in touch with Griffon," Geoff continues. Jack frowns. "The owner of the bike Ryan and Gavin stole is, uh.... how shall I put this?" Geoff squints at the ceiling and scratches at his beard. "He's a big fan," he says, looking over at Ryan. "I talked to him a little bit yesterday and he was fucking over the moon that you, the Vagabond, were the one that stole his bike and took it on a wild chase through upper Los Santos."

Ryan's gone very still. "Seriously?"

"Yes," Geoff says gravely. "He's actually gonna leave some of the bullet holes and dents in the bike as a... a trophy of some sort. He really wants your autograph."

Ryan's shoulders jerk up as everyone except Michael starts laughing. "No!" he says. "That's ridiculous, I'm not doing that."

"One little autograph," Geoff says earnestly, the gleam in his eyes belying his tone. "You'd make this guy so happy, Ryan, you wouldn't believe."

"Fuck off," says Ryan and he actually sinks down a little in his chair.

"You've got yourself a little fanboy," says Gavin, patting his shoulder. It seems like a friendly gesture, but Michael can see the way his fingers linger and the barely noticeable smile on his lips. He looks away. "How come he doesn't want my autograph?"

"Because you're you," says Geoff. "You weren't driving, dickhead. You weren't shown on the eight o'clock news zipping through holes barely wider than the bike at seventy miles an hour. You sat on the back–sorry, the front and cried like a baby."

"I didn't cry, " says Gavin. "I shot some dudes. I thought I looked cool."

"Shot at and missed all of them," says Michael. "You piece of shit." It comes out pretty mean, but nobody notices except for Gavin, who looks hurt for a second before his face returns to its customary shit-eating grin.

"Well, you thought wrong," says Geoff, smirking. "You're never cool."

"Anyway," Jack says pointedly, because they all know a Geoff-and-Gavin argument can go on for hours if nobody stops them, "we've got a plan in the works to hit all their stash houses at once. It should be doable with the Lost as backup."

"If we hit them all at once, they won't have time to run or hide their stuff," Jeremy says slowly. "But how do we find them all?"

"Two ways," says Geoff. "One, the Lost keep files on every gang in town and they're gonna share what they have with us."

"Every gang?" Gavin says, sitting up. Michael sees his knee brushing against Ryan's. "Including us?"

"I would assume so," Geoff says.

"Hm," says Gavin, sagging back down. "Might be worth looking into, Geoffrey."

"Agreed," says Geoff, "but not now. We've got an alliance and I'm not gonna put it at risk when we need them right now."

"They'd never even know I was in their systems," says Gavin, shrugging. "Just say the word."

Geoff wavers, then shakes his head. "Later. This first. They're sending over their stuff later today. I want you to read through it and crosscheck it with our own intel."

Gavin salutes and gives Ryan a quick little glance Michael helplessly notices.

"Second, we're gonna grab one of those Blaze assholes off the street and sit him down for a nice long chat. Ryan, you up for that?"

"A kidnapping? Always, Geoff," says Ryan.

"You would," Gavin mutters.

"Hey, kidnappings are fun. Lots of screaming and tears. Who are we snagging?"

"I don't have a specific target in mind, but get someone higher up the food chain than the street boys running goods," says Geoff. "Someone who might know the locations of multiple stash houses. A lieutenant with some brains. Michael, Jeremy, you're with Ryan. Grab a guy and take him to the interrogation room down south, you know the one. Get the info out of him and pass it on to Gavin. He can check if it matches whatever the Lost gave us or whatever we have on these fucks already."

"A kidnapping and an interrogation?" says Ryan. "And it's not even my birthday."

Geoff's mouth twitches into a smile. "Thought you might like that."

"A little too much," Michael says under his breath and Jeremy huffs out a laugh next to him. Still, Michael's excited too. Been too long since he got to punch and slice a guy, and he's got a lot of pent up frustration to take out on someone. Fucking sucks that he's going to have to deal with Ryan throughout the day, though.

A few hours later, the three of them are breaking into an abandoned house in Blaze territory, having made it there without – hopefully – being spotted. Michael's... not great at surveillance. Having to sit still for fuck knows how many hours is just not in his nature. He curls up in a window sill in front of an old, blackened window and scratches a tiny viewing hole in the grime and settles in to wait and watch. The house is sweltering hot and Michael resolves to move as little as humanly possible.

At least Jeremy's had the foresight to bring snacks and drinks. He rips open some chips and pops his coke can and stares. Jeremy's observing from a downstairs window; Ryan's holed up in the bathroom which has got yet another different angle on a possible stash house.

Five minutes later and Michael is bored out of his skull and cursing his brain for not letting him not think about Gavin. He leans his head against the dirty window and blows out a breath. It wasn't even like he and Gavin were together. It's not supposed to feel like he just got dumped by the wayside the second someone taller and more terrifying came along.

Fuck. He bangs the back of his head against the window frame a couple of times. Quietly. He doesn't want anyone outside to hear him.

A noise outside the door of the room he's in has him reaching for his micro SMG, raising it up and only slightly lowering it when Ryan comes in.

"Just me," says Ryan quietly. "They've moved off the corner I was watching." He glances at Michael's face and the SMG and back. "Wanna lower the gun?"

Not really. "There's other rooms you can go to," he says curtly.

"I could." Ryan shrugs. "I will, in a minute. Wanted to talk to you."

"Talk," Michael says, lowering his gun and fixing his gaze back out the window. "Make it quick, we're on a job."

"You've been trying to hate me to death since last Thursday," Ryan says bluntly. "When you came to Gavin's apartment and discovered I was still there."

Michael whips his head around and stares at him. "Gavin told you about that?" He's not sure why he thought Gavin wouldn't.

"Yes," Ryan says simply and he sighs, rubbing at his forehead through the mask. His sloppy ponytail is getting loose and there's a grimy black streak in his neck. "He did. He has many faults, but dishonesty isn't one of them."

Michael grudgingly has to give him that.

"Listen," Ryan says and his voice is going a bit higher, a bit more awkward now. "He's into you."

"Excuse me?" Michael says loudly, incredulously.

Ryan's eyes narrow behind the mask. "You knew this already," he says flatly.

"I didn't!" He'd just suspected. Strongly. "Does Gavin know you're having this conversation with me?"

"Yes, I texted him." Ryan smiles grimly when Michael gives him a disbelieving look. "I'm also honest and this... this is actually something we discussed the other day. He's into you, you're into him, that one is pretty damn obvious—"

Michael opens his mouth to object, then shuts it, exhaustion washing over him. "And, what, you don't care? You're okay with him wanting to fuck me?"

"I care in the sense that you're making a big fucking deal out of something that doesn't have to be a big fucking deal," Ryan says. "All this drama because you think this is some sort of competition for Gavin's affections and it's not. Doesn't have to be."

"What the fuck does that mean?" Michael demands. "You're gonna invite me for a threesome or something?"

From the way Ryan's head jerks slightly, Michael guesses that was a bull's eye, but then he's slightly shaking his head and saying, "or something. It wouldn't be a one-time thing. If you're interested. I'm interested. Gavin's interested." He pauses. "Talk to him. Try not to bite his head off—crap, I think we're on."

What? Ryan's interested? In what? What the fuck? What is this?

What the fucking fuck?

Jeremy's calling from at the bottom of the stairs. "I've got the greatest target in the world," he says, the second Michael and Ryan appear at the top of the stairs. "Everyone's swarming around this guy. He's definitely not one of the street level guys. He's got this huge SUV and blinding amounts of hideous bling that he just cannot pull off in any way."

They go check the guy out and Michael has to agree with Jeremy. The amount of bling the guy's wearing has got to be dragging him down and it dings and clangs when he moves.

"Stealth is not his forte," Ryan comments. "Okay, so where is he going?"

To a dilapidated building they'd pegged as a stash house weeks ago, apparently. Michael shakes his head. "You know these guys are new when they're using the same place for weeks on end," he says. "That's just fucking infuriatingly stupid. It's almost insulting. Fuck, I am insulted. These fucks want to make it big in Los Santos? Let's fucking end them."

It's so pitifully easy Michael starts wondering if it's some kind of trap. The guy, who ironically goes by the name Big Steve, has just two guards with him, and all three of them are sitting on a battered sofa in the stash house playing Call of Duty when the three of them sneak in, having disposed of the outside guards with ease and bullets.

Michael takes care of the guards with two bullets to the chest and watches as Jeremy jams his gun between Big Steve's ribs and simply takes his gun from him. The guy looks like he's never actually had someone stick a gun in his face. It's pathetic.

"Hi." That's Ryan, and that's Ryan shattering the guy's nose with one solid punch. "You're coming with us."

It's not until the interrogation starts and Michael's got nothing to do for a few minutes while Ryan and Jeremy tie Big Steve to a small chair that he can actually think about what Ryan told him. He's sure Ryan's just fucking with him.

Pretty sure.


The thing is, Ryan isn't exactly a jokey kind of guy. Doesn't pull pranks, doesn't fill silences with bizarre questions and off the wall remarks like Gavin. At most, he'll toss in a zinger or two when you least expect it and get some laughs. So this... thing about not having to fight for Gavin's affections – and doesn't that particular turn of phrase make Michael roll his eyes – is probably, actually, maybe for real.

Having confirmation that Gavin wants him is nice. Hearing that Ryan wants him makes him pull up short because – it's the fucking Vagabond. Dangerous. A lunatic. Currently kneeling at a toolkit and pulling up pliers, casually showing them off to Jeremy and Big Steve. Big Steve is on the verge of pissing himself, his eyes locked on Ryan's skull mask.

Michael's done some interrogations himself. He's not very sophisticated about it, all business with his fists, and feet when necessary. But Ryan... Ryan's clearly already enjoying himself, eyes bright behind the mask, and Michael leans against the wall, settling in to watch the show. Ryan's taking off his jacket and okay, those are some very nice arms. Now that Michael's letting himself look, trying out the idea, he's beginning to understand why Gav is so gone for this guy. Must be a hell of a face under there, too.

Focus, Jones.

Pliers, knives, guns, a nailgun – Jeremy and Ryan put everything down on a rickety table next to Big Steve, who no longer looks big and whose bling is even starting to dull a little. This isn't going to take long at all.

"Oh, my God," Michael says approximately four minutes later, when Big Steve's pissed himself and the room is starting to stink up. "Are you fucking serious? Is this a goddamn joke?"

"I haven't even done anything yet!" Ryan stands over the guy with pliers in one hand, the other cracking his mouth wide open.

"'Alk!" Big Steve shouts.

"What?" says Ryan, releasing his jaw.

"I'll t-talk," says Big Steve, sucking in huge gulps of air. "Whatever you wanna know, man, this shit ain't worth dying for."

Michael rolls his eyes and calls Gavin while Big Steve starts spilling all their shitty gang's secrets. Christ, what a waste. No honor among shitheads anymore. He and Gavin check the info Big Steve's happily giving them – for one definition of happy; he does not all look happy when Ryan starts twirling knives inches away from his face – and most of it actually checks out. What doesn't can be chalked up to outdated information, Michael guesses. Small-time gangs like these change territories and leaders like Michael does his underwear.

"So." Gavin clears his throat. "Everything all right there with the three of you?"

"Peachy," Michael says and he turns away from Ryan and Jeremy slicing up the guy's arms. The screaming is getting pretty loud. He closes his eyes for a second, debates whether or not to say it. "Ryan talked to me."

He hears Gavin let out a quiet sigh. "Did he?"

"Yeah. It was... interesting. So we talked and now you and I are gonna talk," says Michael.

Gavin audibly winces at Michael's clipped tone. "Fair play. But... right now?"

"No," Michael says, turning back just in time to see Ryan drive a knife into Big Steve's shoulder. God, the guy is loud. "We're a little busy. Soon."

"Right," Gavin agrees quickly. "Soon. Uh, Geoff's here now, if you don't got anything else, I'm gonna hang up and deal with the new info."

"We'll get some more out of this baby," says Michael. "Talk to you later." He hangs up and watches Ryan loom over Big Steve, talking to him in a quiet, reasonable sort of voice; the kind of voice that makes you spill all your secrets.

He's good, Michael thinks, watching the way Ryan's back muscles shift under the threadbare shirt he's wearing. It's like a switch has been flipped in his brain. He no longer feels the urgent need to start punching Ryan's mask whenever he sees it. It's different, now. Just two words and everything's changed.

I'm interested.

It's not like Michael's never jerked off to Gavin before. Guy looks like that, has an accent like that, hard not to want to fuck him, but it's different this time. Before, Michael would feel vaguely guilty. It'd be quick, rushed. He'd think about Gav's mouth, his hands, his ass in those perfectly tailored jeans and slacks. He'd come fast and then try not to think about what he'd just done. It felt good, but only in the moment.

Now, though.

Now it's different.

Gavin wants him.

Michael's letting himself think about it.

Ryan wants him.

He's letting himself think about that, too. What that would be like. What he'd look like under the mask, under his clothes. He's been around a Gavin in just swim trunks often enough that he can call up an image of Gavin half-naked easily enough – long limbs and tanned Italian skin that doesn't burn in the sun and a ridiculous amount of body hair – but Ryan requires a little more imagination.

Michael stretches out on top of the covers, tugging at the string of his sweats. He slides his hand into his boxers, sighing when he wraps his fingers around himself. It's been a long day and he's been on edge most of it, and it just feels so fucking good to touch himself right now. He fists his dick, slow and easy, the slight roughness making his toes curl in the covers.

Gavin would be an enthusiastic kisser. Pushy, too, and very handsy. Michael's picturing it, Gav's hands on his shoulders, waist, pretty much anywhere he can reach. He thinks about pulling Gavin closer, wrinkling his expensive button-down shirt, tearing off the buttons and kissing the complaints away. It'd be fun. Wrecking Gavin's shit is always fun.

He's getting hard now. He shifts his hips on the bed, grinds his ass down, and lets out a low moan. Him and Gavin on this bed, kissing, tearing off each other's clothes, getting each other naked as quickly as possible. Pressing up against Gavin's body, hot to the touch, throwing a leg over his hip and pulling him even closer. Grinding against each other, panting, Gavin's hand running down his arm to Michael's hip, his ass.

His dick twitches in his hand and Michael speeds up a little, getting into it now. Gavin kissing his way down Michael's chest, stomach, his scruff scraping against Michael's thighs. He'd kiss and lick and maybe bite? Gav seems like the bitey kind, Michael decides. He's got sharp teeth. Michael pushes up into the tight circle of his fist, groaning again as he imagines it, Gavin's head between his legs, mouthing eagerly at Michael's dick.

And Ryan–

A shiver runs down Michael's spine when he thinks about Ryan. Strong, broad-shouldered, unknown face. His grip would be firm, confident, to the point.

Michael digs his heels into his mattress and whines loudly, once again grateful for the thick walls. He fucks his fist, visualizing it; Ryan leaning over him, blue eyes blazing behind the mask, his hand on Michael's dick, stroking and relentlessly pulling him toward orgasm.

"Fuck," Michael groans, tugging down his sweats and boxers, sighing when cool air drifts across his dick. "Jesus." He's moving fast now, his mind going back to Gavin blowing him. He'd be good at it, too; Michael's seen some of the guys Gavin's gone home with the morning after, and they all looked pretty damn happy. He thinks about putting a hand in Gavin's hair, pulling it a little, maybe, and imagines Gavin's gasp of mingled surprise and pain. Another 'fuck' escapes him and he bites his lip, hand moving fast. He's close, so close—he's coming with a yell, kicking at his mattress, spilling all over his hand and thigh.

Breathing hard, he sags down into the mattress, fumbling for the tissue box on the nightstand. That was... His mouth is dry and he swallows, resting a hand on his wildly beating heart.

"Shit," he says to the ceiling.

He might be doomed.

Big Steve's disappearance doesn't go unnoticed by the Blaze. Jack gets reports that it's thrown them in a bit of a disarray.

Geoff smiles smugly at that and waves a hand. "Fucking amateurs," he says contemptuously. "You grab one of their guys and the whole thing collapses? These are the fucks that have our money and our drugs? Goddammit."

Geoff and Jack discuss the issue further, but Michael's not really paying attention. He'll tune back in when they start discussing the take-down of their stash houses, but for now, he's got his eyes on Gavin.  

Gav's on the other side of the table, laptop at his fingers, feet up on the table like he's at home. It's a miracle Geoff hasn't knocked them off yet. There's a new expensive watch around his wrist, bright gold standing out against his suntanned skin. He glances at Michael, smiles, and turns his attention back to his laptop when Geoff asks him a question. Michael keeps looking. After a minute or so, Gavin glances at him again, looking startled when he realizes Michael's still looking at him. He shifts on his seat and deliberately turns away from Michael a bit.

Michael smirks. It's fun making Gavvy feel off balance.

Ryan catches his eye and tilts his head in a question.

Michael shrugs and raises his eyebrows, spreading his hands a little on the table. Ryan's a smart guy, he'll figure it out.

Sure enough, Ryan's shoulders relax and he gives a minute shake of his head. Michael likes to think he's laughing a little behind the mask.

He goes back to staring at Gavin, whose shoulders are beginning to creep up to his ears. Gav grabs his phone and a second later, Michael's buzzes in his pocket.

'STOP' is the entirety of the message and Michael giggles.

"Something funny, Michael?" Geoff inquires. "Trying to figure out where they might stash three hundred grand so fucking hilarious to you?"

"Sorry, Geoff," Michael says, unrepentant. "Someone sent me a funny picture."

"Funny pictures can wait til after we get our money and drugs back," says Geoff. "I'm dealing with goddamn children here. I'm not a school teacher! I'd be a terrible school teacher!"

Murmurs of assent from around the table.

"You should not be around children," says Jeremy.

"Can we focus?" Jack asks impatiently. "Time's a-wasting. They might be getting rid of our dope as we sit here and talk about Michael getting sent funny pictures."

"All right," says Geoff. "All right, all right, Jack's right. We think we have a bead on the vast majority of their stash houses now. They might be moving shit, but they're not gonna find brand new places to hide their crap before we move in. I talked to Griffon—"

Jack presses her lips together tightly.

"—and she says it's on for tomorrow night. They need an extra day to get more guns and get their people in position; a bunch of them are out of town and not returning until tonight. They're pretty excited about taking this shit stain on the city of a gang down and I'm thinking we'll be okay holding off for one more day." Geoff looks around the table. "Anybody disagree?"

"Even if they sell our drugs, they'll get money, right?" says Jeremy. "That's our money."

"Yeah," says Geoff. "And by now people know we're going after that and I'm betting interest in buying from the Blazes is at an all-time low right now. They might not find a buyer in time and with the territory they have, no way they're gonna sell all of it in one day to regular street buyers." Geoff smacks his fist in the palm of his hand. "We're gonna take these fucks down. We're gonna ruin them. It's fucking personal now." There's that manic gleam in Geoff's eyes that Michael loves. It means chaos and mayhem and destruction. "We have a meeting with some Lost guys this morning. You guys get your shit ready and then take the rest of the day off. Be here tomorrow at noon at the latest, there's a lot of prep to do." That's a Geoff dismissal and Michael gets up and stretches, slipping his phone back into his pocket.

"Gav, wait up," Michael says as Geoff, Jack and Jeremy leave the room. Ryan pauses at the door, hesitates, and then closes it, leaning back against it with his arms crossed over his chest.

Gavin's eyes are a little wide and they keep shooting between Michael and Ryan. He clears his throat. "I guess we're having that talk, yeah?"

Michael frowns. "Don't look so fucking terrified, I'm not gonna do anything."

"You kept staring at me," Gavin says. "I didn't know what to think. Is he mad? Am I going to get my head caved in the second we're alone?" He waves a hand at Ryan. "Why do you think he's still here? My knight in shining armor."

Ryan snorts audibly.

Michael grins at him. "Maybe I just like looking at you," he says loftily and Gavin's mouth open and closes like he doesn't quite know what to say to that. "I'm not mad," he says and Gavin blows out a long breath, fingers twitching on his laptop. "I'm... curious," says, picking the word carefully. "A little weirded out, but still curious," he adds, with a shrug.

"Curious," Gavin repeats, his tone dipping a little lower. Michael can see the shudder that runs through him. "Okay. Well, that's... that's good."

"Very good," says Ryan and Michael starts, having almost forgotten he's here too.

All three of them jump when there's a loud banging on the door. "You assholes having a threeway in there or what?" Geoff. "We all have work to do, come on, let's go, we're meeting with the Lost in half an hour."

"Michael," says Gavin, sweeping his laptop off the table and moving to stand in front of him. He reaches up, touches Michael's face. "Come to my place tonight. We'll be there."

Michael's heart stutters in his chest. He nods. "Yeah. That's... yeah, all right. I'll be there."

Gavin's grin is blinding. "It's a date."

Christ, it's a date.

Michael stops just out of sight of the camera guarding Gavin's front door and takes a deep breath. Fuck. This is so fucking weird.

But he's never the one to back down from a challenge so he steps forward and raises his hand, the keycard between his fingers. He slides it through the lock, entering the passcode when it asks for that next. The door unlocks with a beep.

Well. Here goes nothing.

"Hi, Michael," says Gavin's voice from the living room and a second later he appears, grinning widely. "You came."

"Of course, stupid," says Michael, hanging up his jacket. The table at the door is right side up again and the mirror's gone. Where it used to hang on the wall is now a blank space. "Did you think I wouldn't?"

Gavin shrugs. "Thought there was a chance."

"Yeah, well," Michael says, wandering into the living room. "I follow through, you know?" He throws himself on the couch and looks at Gavin, who's shifting his weight from foot to foot. "Where's Ryan?"

"The bath," says Gavin and ducks his head. "He'll be out in a bit."

Ryan is giving them some space. Michael's starting to appreciate him a little more. "Okay," he says and watches in amusement as Gavin bounds over and flops down next to him. "You good? You seem a little..." He wriggles his hand and grins when Gavin flushes a little. "Worked up." Gavin's sitting really close, his thigh touching Michael's. It's a little cheaty, calling out Gavin's obvious nerves when he himself has been jittery ever since he pulled up to Gavin's building, but it's fun to watch Gavin squirm.

"Don't be mean, Michael," Gavin says reproachfully, knocking his knee into Michael's. "I've been thinking about this for some time now, you know."

"Yeah?" says Michael, turning to look at him, the word almost stuck in his throat.

"Yeah," says Gavin.

Michael's not sure who moves first, but he's kissing Gavin and Gavin is very enthusiastically kissing him back and then Michael's body decides it wants to be a whole lot closer to Gavin's body, so he's pretty much just climbing on top of him, pressing him back into the couch pillows, and fuck, this is what's been missing from his life. Gavin, right here, making soft noises in the back of his throat, his hands hesitantly sliding across Michael's thighs, his tongue twisting around Michael's.

Michael curls his hand around the back of Gavin's neck and kisses him harder and Gavin moans and, well, that's kind of interesting; Michael's dick twitches in his jeans. He pulls back a little, panting, and Gavin moves with him, unwilling to stop kissing him. Okay, Michael thinks, okay, and his eyes flutter closed and he revels in the slide of Gavin's lips against his own, shivering when Gavin's five o'clock shadow burns his skin. "What about Ryan?" he asks in-between kisses, vaguely aware that Ryan is still somewhere in the apartment.

"Ryan will enjoy the show, won't he," says Gavin distractedly, his hands hot on Michael's lower back. He can feel them, the heat of them, through the thin material of his shirt.

"Ryan's already enjoying the show," says Ryan behind them and Michael jumps then winces. He turns, mouth open to say... something, he doesn't quite know what because here he is, straddling Gavin fucking Free on his couch when the guy's sleeping with Ryan, and stops.

Ryan's taken off the mask.

Holy shit. He looks... normal. Michael doesn't know what he expected – scars, maybe. Burn marks. A missing eye or half a nose. But his face is unscathed except for a couple of small scars. Strong cheekbones, a sharp nose and a nice mouth. Ryan is... He's raising an eyebrow at Michael and Jesus, it's nice to be able to finally see more of his face than just his intense blue eyes.

"Do I pass muster?" he asks.

Michael swallows. "Yeah," he says. "I mean. Yeah. You're not fucking hideous like I thought you'd be, so, you know, good on you."

"You're lovely, Ryan," says Gavin, delight in his voice, and it must be some kind of inside joke because Ryan narrows his eyes a little and Gavin's body shakes with laughter underneath Michael. "Even without the mask."

"Ha ha," Ryan deadpans, "you're so fucking funny, Free."

"Alliteration!" says Gavin, sounding even more delighted about that, and he strokes a hand down Michael's chest.

Michael shivers again and watches Ryan settle down on the couch, not too far away from them, but also not close enough to touch. "I'm, uh..." he says intelligently, looking down at Gavin.

Ryan waves a hand, his eyes taking in their entangled position with a gleam. "That's okay. I told you."

"Kiss me, Michael," Gavin demands and Christ, it's fucking weird, but it's hard to say no to Gavin when he's like this, all big blue-green eyes and a small smirk and messy hair Michael wants to sink his fists into. He doesn't do drugs because Geoff wants everyone clearheaded at all times, but he imagines being high must feel a lot like this. Gavin slides a hand in Michael's hair and tugs him down again. Their mouths meet and Michael is intensely aware of Ryan's eyes on them and it's both super fucking weird and a little exciting. Gavin's pushing up a little and Michael grinds down, tearing a gasp from Gavin's mouth. Experimentally, he gets his hands on Gav's shoulders and pushes him back down and Gavin bucks up, his fingers curling in Michael's shirt.

"You like that, huh?" Michael murmurs and starts a little when a warm hand lands on his back, high up between his shoulders.

Ryan. Who's looking at him carefully, ready to take his hand away again.

Michael nods and relaxes, exhaling when Ryan runs his hand down his spine. Gavin's staring up at him with wide eyes, licking his lips. Michael shifts and Gavin bites his lip and oh, fuck, Gavin's hard in his pants. Fuck. Michael stares at him, then lunges forward and kisses him again, hard, feeling his own dick stir as well. His pants are going to get uncomfortable real soon if they keep this up.

He rests his forehead against Gavin's and breathes.

"You okay, Michael?" Gavin asks quietly, turning his head slightly, presumably to look at Ryan.

Michael nods. "Yeah. It's just... we keep this up, I'm gonna need clean pants."

Gavin laughs. "Feel free to take them off." He raises his head, puts his mouth to Michael's ear and says, not quiet at all, "I want to blow you."

Michael's whole body jerks and he groans. "Jesus, Gavin."

"Yeah?" Gavin says and he glances at Ryan. "You too."

"Not gonna say no to that," Ryan says calmly, but his fingers tighten on Michael's back. "If all parties are in agreement, that is."

Michael nods, picturing it. Gav on his knees in front of him, in front of Ryan, in front of of them both. Working them both. Shit. Jesus. He needs to be out of his jeans, now. "Yeah," he says, embarrassed by how rough his voice sounds. "God, yes. But I mean, can you even... with your gag reflex..."

Gavin sputters. "Been working on it, Michael! I'll surprise you, just you watch."

Michael laughs and presses his fingers against Gavin's heated cheeks. "Just checking, Gavvy." He doesn't want to get up, but he kind of has to if he wants to take his clothes off, so he gets to his feet and immediately stumbles because his legs have turned to jelly in the past ten minutes and he wasn't aware of that. Ryan catches him, strong fingers encircling his biceps, and Michael doesn't let himself think about it, just leans forward and presses his mouth against Ryan's.

Ryan lets out a surprised noise and opens his mouth. Kissing Ryan is different from kissing Gavin; he's a lot more aggressive and a lot less inclined to let Michael take the lead. It's no less good, though, no less breathtaking, and Michael's gasping wetly by the time they pull apart.

"Jesus," Gavin says, voice cracking. "Do that again. Better than my imagination."

"For you, Gavin," Ryan says and he drags Michael into another kiss when Michael's about halfway out of his jeans. It's all teeth and tongue and Michael's hot all over when Ryan lets him go to start working on his own clothes.

Michael strips off his clothes, pushing through a sense of self-consciousness – he's been naked in front of people before. Well. A person. Never more than one person and now he's standing here, naked, in front of Gavin and Ryan, who are both openly eyeing him up, and Gavin almost trips over his jeans, tangled around his ankles, in his hurry to get closer to Michael and kiss him again.

"All right," Gavin says, giving Michael's bottom lip one last nip, "on the couch."

"Bossy," Michael says, but he settles down on Gavin's couch and mentally prepares for it to get fucking ruined. He's going to have to torch it when they're done. Gavin will cry about it, but Michael's not sitting on a couch he's had sex on.

"Oh," says Ryan, "just you wait," and he and Gavin exchange looks Michael doesn't understand.

Gavin yanks down his boxers and Michael takes a deep breath because that's Gavin's dick, right there, and it's glorious and he can't touch it just yet. Gavin seems to not notice Michael's inner struggle and he saunters right up to where Michael and Ryan are sitting side by side on the couch and tilts his head, his eyes going between the two of them. "I like this," he says and bends down to kiss Michael first, then Ryan.

Michael watches them kiss, half expecting that roiling sense of jealousy to rear its ugly head again, but it doesn't, and watching Gavin pant into Ryan's mouth is only making his dick harder. Ryan's got his hand on the back of Gavin's neck and he's squeezing it, pretty hard judging by the red marks he's leaving, and Gavin's just melting into it, groaning and shuddering. Jesus. Michael gets his hand around his dick and gives himself a few strokes, just to ease some of the tension.

"Michael, no," says Gavin, curling his fingers around his wrist. "I'm getting there, have some patience, boi."

Ryan chuckles. "Eager."

"Yeah, well, I was promised a blow job, so where is it, Gavin?" And Michael nearly comes then and there when Gavin drops to his knees in front of the couch, one hand going up on Michael's knee, the other on Ryan's. Michael drops his head back onto the couch and squeezes his eyes shut, curling his hands into fists. He lets out an embarrassingly loud moan when Gavin gets his hand around Michael's dick and strokes him slowly. "Oh, fuck."

"Been wanting to do this for quite some time," Gavin murmurs and Michael opens his eyes just in time to see Gavin suck the head of his dick into his mouth. His toes curl into the carpet at the hot, warm wetness of Gavin's mouth and his hips twitch up involuntarily.

"Fuck," Michael grits out and his hands flail out and one of them lands on Ryan's bare, muscular thigh. "Oh, Jesus, Gavin, your mouth." He squeezes Ryan's thigh and Ryan groans, a strangled gasp escaping him when Gavin blindly reaches out and curls his fingers around Ryan's dick. The sight of Gavin going down on him while jerking Ryan off knocks the breath out of Michael and he starts squirming on the couch, swearing relentlessly. Gavin looks up at him through his lashes, grinning as much as he can with Michael's dick in his mouth, and he licks a slow, long stripe up Michael's dick before taking him in to the root, gag reflex be damned.

Michael shouts something, grabs at Ryan's thigh so hard he leaves marks and thrusts up, fucking Gavin's mouth. Ryan says something, Michael can't hear, doesn't care, then Ryan's heavy hand lands on the back of Gavin's head and he's setting the pace for Gavin now, dragging him up and down Michael's cock. Fuck, fuck, fucking hell, not even Michael's depraved imagination ever got this fucking filthy. Gavin's sputtering and choking a little but he doesn't stop, can't even with Ryan's fingers in his hair keeping him right where he is, and Michael's vision whites out a little. Gav's mouth is slick and hot and he's merciless, finding out what Michael likes and what doesn't work, and doubling down on what makes him cry out and kick out his legs.

Gavin wraps his hand around Michael's dick and sucks hard, mouth so fucking red, a trail of spit and precum smeared on his chin and his chest heaving with exertion.

"Keep at it," says Ryan, "don't stop, Gavin."

"Fuck," Michael groans. He's forgotten all other words. All he can do is feel. He keeps fucking up into Gavin's mouth and his whole body arches off the couch when he finally comes with a yell, spilling into Gavin's mouth. He doesn't know if Gav's a spitter or a swallower, but the question's answered when Ryan keeps up the pressure on Gavin's head and Gavin swallows everything Michael has to spend.

Gavin wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and grins at Michael. "Top, yeah?"

"N-not bad," Michael says, the effect ruined by how fucking out of breath he is. He slumps back into the couch and feels his heart pounding in his chest.

"Gavin," Ryan says and there's something in his voice that makes Michael's attention snap to him, something dark and low. It makes a shiver run visibly through Gavin and he barely has time to scramble over to Ryan before Ryan's just hauling him forward. The rough treatment makes Michael raise his eyebrows, but the flush on Gavin's cheeks just deepens and he opens his mouth and moans when Ryan pushes his cock in. Okay. So clearly that's a thing for Gavin.

Michael's seen blow jobs in porn, many, many times, but there's nothing quite like the real thing, nothing quite like watching Gavin work to take Ryan in all the way, nothing quite like the way Ryan's got his fingers tangled in Gavin's hair, tight against his skull, directing him. Gavin's cheeks hollow when he sucks and the noises are fucking obscene. Michael can see sweat pooling in his chest hair and his dick is hard between his legs, untouched. Jesus. Gavin hasn't touched himself yet and that sends a little thrill through Michael, that Gavin is so damn focused on pleasing Michael and Ryan that he's ignoring his own pleasure.

Michael wants to touch, though, so he sinks to his knees on the floor next to Gavin, which earns him an approving look from Ryan through heavily lidded eyes, and runs his hands across Gavin's bare, sweat-slick skin. Gavin moans and shivers, pressing into Michael's hands and spreading his legs. Well, that's an invite if Michael ever saw one, and he slides a hand down Gavin's ass, squeezing and kneading. Gavin's knees buckle and Michael laughs, holding him up.

"If he bites my dick off because he can't handle you fingering him, I'm coming for you," Ryan warns, his voice rough. He groans loudly and his hips jerk up, cock sliding in and out of Gavin's mouth at a steady pace.

"Wasn't even doing that," says Michael, "but I would if I had any lube."

Gavin whimpers around Ryan's dick.

"Next time," Ryan says breathlessly, eyes going closed. "God, Gavin..."

Next time. God, yes. Many, many next times, hopefully, because Michael is pretty sure he can't live his life anymore if this only happens once. He keeps stroking Gavin everywhere he can, to make him squirm and whine and let out little noises around Ryan's dick. His face is buried between Ryan's strong thighs and fuck, all of this is going to fuel Michael's fantasies for months. Ryan's hips start jerking up messily and his mouth opens and fuck, Michael's watching him come, watching his face contort and relax, and he looks at Gavin to see his flushed face and glassy eyes and it's almost too much to bear.

Gavin's panting like he's run a marathon and he whines a little when Ryan's fingers go slack in his hair. "Please," he says and it takes Michael a second to realize Gavin really, really wants to come.

"C'mere," Michael says and he kisses Gavin messily, tasting Ryan on his tongue and that's a little fucking weird, but also hot, and he wraps a hand around Gavin's dick, stroking it slowly.

"Michael," Gavin gasps, "faster, please, please." He hooks an arm around Michael's neck and throws his head back.

"Easy," says Ryan, having come down. His voice is still way deeper than Michael's ever heard it go. "Breathe. We'll get you there, don't worry."

Michael wraps an arm around Gavin's waist and feels Ryan do the same from his other side. Ryan's free hand joins Michael's around Gavin's dick and Gavin moans, twisting in their grasp.

"Please," he says again and kisses Ryan, burying his face in Ryan's neck and twitching his hips forward. Michael fists Gavin's cock and it's clumsy with another hand there doing much the same thing, but Gavin sure seems to appreciate it, letting out desperate noises, rocking back and forth without any sense of coordination or rhythm. Michael would laugh, but it's fucking hot to see Gavin just reacting to them without any shame or embarrassment, and it's over pretty quick, Gavin spilling hotly over their hands.

"Damn," Michael says, "you get that fucking worked up from giving BJs?"

"Don't laugh," says Gavin between gulps of breath.

"I'm not, I'm not," Michael hurries to say, "I'm fucking impressed, dude, that was... really fucking hot, Christ. When can we do this again?" He wants to know how worked up he can get Gavin from receiving a blow job or two.

"Well, you gotta give me at least an hour," Ryan says, smirking, and Gavin lets out a shaky laugh as Michael snorts.

Once the clean-up's done, Michael goes in search of some food and couple of beers in Gav's kitchen and when he comes back, he finds Gavin stretched out on the couch, his head in Ryan's lap, eyes focused intently on Michael. Or maybe it's just the beers he's eyeing, it's hard to tell.

Gavin snags the beer Michael holds out to Ryan and pops the cap. "Ryan doesn't drink," he says.

"There should be coke in the fridge," says Ryan. "Diet. I'd get it myself, but, well..." He gestures at Gavin, who looks blissed out lying in his lap, and shrugs. "Can't get up."

Michael shakes his head and heaves a deep, theatrical sigh, resisting the urge to pour his beer all over Gavin's dumb face. "I'll go look."

Ryan's right, there is diet coke in the fridge. A couple of six-packs stashed in a neat little row on the second shelf and he grabs a can and brings it to Ryan with a flourish. He flings himself in the seat closest to the couch and downs half his bottle in one go. Sex makes him thirsty.

"So," Gavin says brightly, after it's been silent for a minute, "again tomorrow night, yeah? Both of you?"

Michael grins.

The plan goes off without a hitch. It's fucking beautiful. Michael's gaining a whole new appreciation for the Lost, who may be big in Liberty City, but who are still fairly smalltime here in Los Santos. They're good. They're really good. They're probably gonna be enemies one day.

Michael feels fucking fantastic. He's had one of the better blow-jobs of his life, he's getting to shoot people, drive cars really fast, shoot more people, break down doors, drag duffel bags full of cash into the trunk of the car he's using, shoot even more people, and he gets to do all of this amazing shit with the best back-up a guy could wish for.

Except that Gavin's driving currently and it's... it's a bit of a ride.

"This is why you're not usually our get-away driver, Gavin," Michael snaps, bracing himself against the roof of the car, feet planted on the floor. "Fuck!"

"Use your brakes!" Ryan shouts from the backseat, where he's squished between Jeremy and a Lost guy who's looking more green by the minute. "Do you still not have your driver's license?"

"What?" Jeremy asks.

Michael whips his head around to glare at Gavin, whose face goes entirely blank and who is now very deliberately not looking at Michael, focusing entirely on the road. "What?" Michael growls out. "You don't have a driver's license? Gavin!"

"I think you will find, Ryan, that I have no fewer than four driver's licenses currently on me," Gavin informs them all loftily as the Lost guy in the back starts making retching sounds. Jeremy and Ryan scramble to get away from him; Michael cranes his neck to watch for a second, then yells in pain when Gavin takes the next corner hard enough to knock him into the passenger side door.

"Yeah?" Ryan says. "Any of them earned?"

"Oh, my God, he doesn't have a license!" says Jeremy. "How come we didn't know this?"

The rear window shatters and everyone ducks their head. The bullet lands... somewhere, Michael's not sure, and he twists around in his seat to fire back at their pursuers.

"Shit," Michael says, "some of these guys don't quit. More loyalty than that Big Steve asshole, that's for sure."

"You don't have a license!" Jeremy yells. "Why are you driving? Michael, switch places!"

"Calm down, Jeremy," says Gavin cheerfully, steering the car through a wide curve across the sidewalk, narrowly missing a bench and a trashcan. "We're fine, aren't we?"

"I hate you so much," Michael snarls. "I'm going to fucking end you when we stop."

Gavin glances at him and gives him a bright, all-teeth smile. "Well, that's not much incentive for me to stop, innit?" And he floors it down the straightaway, one hand coming up to slide his sunglasses down from his hair onto his nose. Michael is going to fucking kill him. It'll be sad, because fuck, that was one hell of a blow job, but it's for the best.

Miraculously, the car stays on the road and Gavin even slows down when they approach the next intersection. Even more miraculous, the Lost guy – Michael feels a little bad he has no idea what the guy's name is; he got knocked off his bike at some point and Jeremy dragged him into the car with them – does not throw up. He buzzes down his window and sticks his head out of it for a couple of long minutes, but keeps everything inside.

Ryan and Jeremy look distinctly relieved.

Whoever's chasing them gives up quickly after Michael, Ryan and Jeremy all turn around and start spraying gunfire at him through the destroyed rear window, and it's then that Jeremy hauls himself forward between the front seats and glares at Gavin. "No license, huh?"

"I have a license, Lil' J," Gavin protests. "It's in my pocket."

"Shut up," says Michael. "You made that yourself."

"I made all of yours!" says Gavin.

"Did you ever take a single class?" Ryan asks from the back.

"Ehh." Gavin waves a hand. "Classes are for pussies. I'm driving, am I not? I know how to do this."

"Oh, my God," Michael says quietly. "All these years I just thought you were a complete dogshit driver, but it turns out that it's just that nobody ever taught you." He pauses. "Not even in England?"

"Nah." Gavin gives a half shrug. "Who has time for that? Dan taught me the basics – put your foot here, this is how shifting works – and it's not like it's terribly difficult, innit?"

"You make time for that!" Michael says.

"Excuse me," the Lost guy pipes up from the back seat. "Can you let me out there? A buddy of mine lives on this block, I can crash on his couch tonight and I... I won't have to be in this car anymore."

Michael snickers. "Pull over, Gav. Stop torturing this poor guy, he's been through enough."

Gavin drives the car half onto the sidewalk and comes to a stop, jerking away from Michael when Michael starts to lean in, putting them nearly nose to nose. Michael wants to kiss him, knows that he can't. "What, Michael?"

"We're switching places," Michael says. "I'm driving us back. Get out."

"Fine," Gavin huffs and he gets out as Michael climbs over and slides behind the wheel. "Spoilsport," he says, when he gets back in and settles into the passenger seat. "You ruin my fun, Michael."

"That's me, the fun-ruiner," Michael says. And then, "did anybody catch that guy's name?"

They make it back to the Lost main hideout in East Vinewood and Michael eases the car through the alley to pull up behind the building. It's nearing midnight and the moon is illuminating them as they get out and stretch.

Geoff comes out, followed by a surly looking Jack and a heavily tattooed blonde woman with a nose ring. This must be Griffon, Michael thinks. The chick with the chainsaw. He can see why Geoff does not want to fuck with her; she looks like she can break a man's back over her knee and not care.

"We didn't get the drugs, but we did get an absolute shitton of money," Michael informs them, popping the trunk and beginning to drag out all the duffel bags, throwing them all in the middle of the small circle they'd formed.

"Mariel and her guys got the drugs," Griffon says. "Well, most of it. They'd sold about a quarter of it."

"We got the money they made of it," says Jack, voice clipped. "So it's all good."

"Most of 'em are dead," Geoff says, zipping open the bags and whistling quietly at the contents. "This was the end of the Blazes, my friends. They're dead in the water. This time tomorrow, they'll have no corners left. Mostly because they've got no people left."

"Yeah, we killed a bunch," says Jeremy. "Discouraged some others from coming after us. I think we sent a clear message. I had a good time."

"And that's what's most important, that we all had fun," says Geoff, straightening up. "Well, boys, and Jack, job well fucking done. In just a few short hours, we took down a shitty gang and got ourselves a whole lotta money."

"Hell, yeah," Michael says, high fiving Jeremy. "Geoff, you have no idea, it was just so fucking easy. Some of them were practically giving us the money so they could live."

"Did they?" Geoff asks. "Live?"

Michael smirks. "Nah."

"That's my boy," Geoff says, mouth curling into a smile under his mustache. "Anybody get hurt in any way?" A chorus of denial rings out, making Geoff smile even wider. "You guys are fucking amazing and I don't tell you that enough."

"You really don't," says Michael and Gavin laughs. Michael winks at him and Gav's eyes grow brighter; Ryan, standing next to Gavin, gives him a tilt of his head and Michael answers with a quick jerk-off motion and a raised eyebrow. Ryan's shoulders shake.

Jeremy's looking at him weirdly. Michael shrugs.

"All right." Geoff claps his hand together. "We're done for the night. We're gonna take all this—" He waves at the money in the duffel bags, "—inside and handle it."

"This is my favorite part," says Griffon, smiling beatifically. There's smeared blood spatter on her bare arms and the legs of her pants, all the way up to her thighs. Apparently dividing up cash isn't the only thing she enjoys.

"You fucks, go home. Enjoy the night."

Oh, Michael's pretty sure he will. He's got big plans.

And then part of his big plans get foiled by his boss.

"Ryan," says Geoff, "can you stick around for a while? Wanna talk to you about something."

Ryan freezes up for about half a second and then his shoulders slump. Michael doesn't know if anybody notices aside from him and Gavin. Dammit. "Yeah," Ryan says, sounding defeated. "Sure, I can stick around. It's not like I got anything better to do."

Geoff gives him a look. "Or did you have plans?"

Yeah, Michael thinks. He wants to go home with us and fuck Gavin.

"No," says Ryan, "no plans." He doesn't look at either of them when he says it.

"Okay, good," says Geoff. "Fuck off, all of you. I'll see you tomorrow. You'll be a lot richer tomorrow, look forward to that." With a grin, he, Jack, Ryan and Griffon pick up the bags and head back inside, leaving Michael, Gavin and Jeremy standing there in the cool night air.

"Well," Jeremy says. "You guys wanna steal a car?"

"We could—" Gavin starts, a giggle in his voice, his eyes on the row of bikes neatly lined up against the far fence.

"No," Michael says. "Bad Gavin. No stealing anymore bikes from these nice people." He hooks an arm around Gavin's neck – he's done that before, nobody's gonna bat an eye at that – and walks him back through the alley to the street. "Pick a car, Gavvy, and I'll hotwire it for you."

"Aw, you say the sweetest things, Michael," Gavin croons and it's all Michael can do not to yank him closer for a kiss. But Jeremy's there and they're out in front of the Lost hideout so there's people watching them even if they can't see them. "That one." He points toward the most expensive one he can spot, of course, though 'most expensive' on this block is more like 'least beaten down'. A decent looking four-door, easy to hotwire.

"Thought you were gonna give me a challenge," says Michael, looking over his shoulder at Gavin as he moves toward the car. "This one's gonna be easy."

It is. His fingers know how this work and older cars are pretty damn simple. They get in, Michael behind the wheel, Jeremy beating Gavin to the passenger seat, and Michael makes a beeline for Jeremy's street. Once they've dropped him off, Gavin climbs into the front and puts his hand on Michael's thigh, giving him him what he probably thinks is an innocent look.

"Gav," Michael warns, when Gavin's fingers tighten. "I'm driving."

"I'm not doing anything," says Gavin.

"You are," Michael says, covering Gavin's hand with his, forcing his palm flat and still.

"Ever had road head, Michael?" Gavin asks, trying to wriggle his hand free. "Michael!"

"Nope," Michael says, "not happening. You can hang in there for another ten minutes til we get to your place."

"You really are the fun-ruiner tonight," Gavin mutters.

"I'm the let's-not-get-in-a-car-accident guy tonight," says Michael. Gavin's phone dings. "Oh, look, you got a text. Better check it immediately."

"Can I have my hand back?" Gavin asks and when Michael briefly glances over, his cheeks are flushed. Nice.

"No," he says. "You've got two." He laughs at Gavin's indignant squawking and tangles their fingers together on his thigh. That shuts him up. Michael keeps his eyes on the road when he feels Gavin staring at him.

He's going about twenty miles over the speed limit, but he doesn't care and there's no cops around anywhere, so it's all good. The normally ten-minute drive turns into a five-minute drive this way and Michael haphazardly parks the stolen car in the first empty spot he sees. Gavin almost trips and falls in his hurry to get out of the car because of course he does; Michael moves around the car and hauls him up with an arm around his waist. Gavin immediately buries his face into Michael's neck, mouthing at his skin, and Michael groans.

"Inside," he manages, hopes to God the elevator's empty. "Focus, Gav, gonna need you to open the door because I don't have my keycard on me."

It takes Gavin three tries to slide his keycard through the lock, but then they're inside the building. The elevator takes approximately eleven years to come down to the ground floor and Gavin is very insistently handsy, trying to pull Michael's zipper down, loosen his belt, and Michael, very well aware of all the cameras, tries to hold him off, shoving him into the elevator when it finally gets there.

"Gavin," he says, "Gav, Gav, cameras. Everywhere."

Gavin kisses him. "I don't care," he says against Michael's mouth.

"I do," says Michael, putting his hands against Gavin's chest, feeling his heart beat steadily under his palm. "We're nearly home, calm down."

"I can wipe the footage," says Gavin and well, he's got a point. "I've got access to the security system. Had to, before, 'cause Ryan came in still wearing his mask. No way to explain that to the proprietor."

Still. Michael's too aware of the two cameras in the elevator to do anything but press Gavin into the wall to keep him from basically stripping Michael right then and there. "You're a little shit," he hisses, knocking one of his wandering hands away from the hem of his shirt. Gavin just laughs.

Mercifully, nobody stops the elevator on their way to the sixth floor. They get out and Michael crosses the distance to Gavin's front door in a couple of long strides, dragging Gavin along with him.

Once inside, Michael grabs Gavin by the front of his dress shirt and drags him into a hard, messy kiss. Gavin answers in kind, his hands grasping Michael's hips and pulling the two of them flush together, chest to chest. Finally, finally they can do this.

"R-Ryan texted me," Gavin says as Michael sucks a bruise into his neck. "Ah, Michael, uh... h-he said to not wait for him and to have some fun. You wanna have some fun, Michael?"

"Isn't that what we're doing?" Michael mutters, his hands working on getting Gavin's belt through the loops. "Been thinking about this all day."

Gavin groans. "Me too. Thought about yesterday, too."

"Fuck, yeah," says Michael, pressing a kiss to Gavin's jaw and biting it to make him squirm. "Did a lot of thinking about that too."

"Yeah?" Gavin sounds breathless. "No regrets?"

Michael pulls back to look him in the eye. "Nope," he says. "None whatsoever. It was awesome. Ryan better get here soon because I want to wreck you."

Gavin's vaguely worried expression shifts to a grin. "Sounds like you've got big plans, Michael."

"Huge," Michael promises, stepping forward and forcing Gavin to take a step back. Gavin might be taller, but he's a skinny stick who doesn't work out and who's lost every single wrestling match with Michael in the past. "Fuck, Gavin, I love what we do, but I couldn't wait for tonight to be done so we could come over here." Gavin backs up another two steps when Michael moves in closer and ends up with his back against the wall, his breathing coming in fast. "And I'm definitely not waiting for Ryan," he says and crushes his mouth to Gavin's.

He gets into it fast, keeping Gavin pinned to the wall and dragging his hands all over him now that he can, now that he's allowed. Gavin's mumbling something incoherent against Michael's mouth, his deft fingers quickly unzipping Michael's jeans and sliding into his underwear as they kiss.

"Fuck," Michael hisses, bucking up when Gavin's hand wraps around Michael's dick. "Gav, slow down," he warns, trying very hard not to move in that sure, smooth grip. Fuck, he's already getting so hard. "Jesus, all right, bedroom, now. We're doing this on a bed this time."

It takes everything he has to back away from Gavin – who's leaning against the wall like it's the only thing keeping him upright – and grab him and drag him off to the bedroom. Gavin's got an obscenely large bed, to go with the obscenely large and expensive shit he's got in his stupid gigantic apartment, and Michael simply propels him forward, almost throwing him on the bed. Michael wonders fleetingly how easy it would be to actually pick him and throw him on the bed.

Whether Gavin would like it.

Gavin groans on impact and rolls over onto his back, his hands undoing the buttons of his jeans and shimmying out of them in a move that shouldn't be as hot as it is.

Michael raises his eyebrows. "Commando."

Gavin gives him a smile, all teeth. "Do my boots, Michael."

"Fuck you," says Michael, but he moves in and rips at the laces of Gavin's boots and gets them off. He yanks Gavin's socks and jeans off too and throws them in a corner. "You're fucking bossy, you know that?"

"Sometimes," says Gavin, hauling his shirt over his head and then he's gloriously naked and unashamed and Michael's wearing way, way too many clothes. Gavin looks him up and down and makes an imperious hand gesture. "Your clothes. Off."

Michael, who'd been in the process of taking off his belt, narrows his eyes. On the bed, Gavin goes very still. They look at each other and neither moves for a second before Michael pounces, throwing himself on top of Gavin and getting his knees on either side of Gavin's hips. Gavin starts squirming immediately and it's a fucking amazing sight; Michael leans down and kisses him, dragging a hand through his hair. Gavin's hands come up to grab at Michael's shoulders and waist, gripping hard enough to make Michael stutter out a moan.

"Off," Gavin gasps when Michael tears his mouth away for a second. "Michael, please."

"You're a demanding little shit," Michael says, even though he wants to do nothing more than rip off his clothes and start grinding down. "Ask nicely."

Gavin's eyes darken. Bingo. "I did," he says.

"Again," Michael says, licking a wet stripe up from his jaw to his ear. He doesn't know where any of this is coming from, but it's totally working, judging from the restless twitching of Gavin's hips.

Gavin takes a deep breath. "Take your clothes off, Michael. Please."

"Sure," he says brightly and pulls off his shirt and balls it up and throws it over his shoulder. "Done."

"These too," says Gavin, pushing his hands into Michael's still open jeans. He glances up at Michael through his lashes. "Please?"

Michael worms his way out of his jeans and boxers and he doesn't feel at all sexy doing it, but he doesn't care because he doesn't want to not be touching Gavin and Gavin is kissing him while he's being a clumsy fuck, so it's all good. Finally, he's naked and he stretches out on top of Gavin and they both groan, Gavin's hand sliding up Michael's back into the hair at the base of his neck, fingers tangling into Michael's curls.

"Shitting Christ," Gavin says, nearly choking out the words, "you feel so good, Michael." He moves his hips up and rubs against Michael, their dicks sliding against each other for the first time.

Michael swears and punches a fist into the mattress. This is going to be over way too fucking soon if he doesn't get a grip on himself. He wants... he wants... "Wanna fuck you," he manages, as their legs tangle together and neither of them can stop moving. Gavin drags Michael's head down for another wet, open-mouthed kiss and Michael grunts, forcing himself to stop moving, to stop rutting against Gavin, because he's real fucking close to coming like he's sixteen years old again.

"I've got... stuff..." Gavin says between heated kisses, "… lube. In the bedside table."

Michael drags his mouth away from Gavin's and wildly looks around. "You've got two," he says, his voice mortifyingly squeaky.

Gavin waves a hand. "Either," he says and grins at Michael's expression. "I like being prepared."

"What else have you got in there?" Michael asks, pushing himself up and holding the position over Gavin for a few seconds because Gavin's eyes go a little wider and he's looking at Michael's biceps as though he's seeing them for the first time. Yeah. Michael bets Gavin would love getting thrown around a little bit. By him. By Ryan. Both.

"Lots of things, Michael," Gav says and hums a little. His shit-eating grin makes Michael want to punch him, then kiss him. "You wanna go grab it or you want to keep staring at me?"

Michael shrugs, gives Gavin another kiss and shuffles toward one of the nightstands. The top drawer does contain lube, as well as some magazines and handguns and a pile of silky... things that Michael doesn't care about at this particular moment. He grabs the lube and turns to see Gavin getting a little more comfortable on the bed, his hand on his dick. His eyes are on Michael and he's slowly stroking himself from root to tip, rubbing his thumb over the head of his dick on every upstroke.

"Fuck," Michael says eloquently, his own dick pulsing between his legs. "Stop that and come over here."

"I'll come over there," Gavin mutters, but he sits up on his knees and awkwardly moves over to where Michael is, pressing his lips against Michael's cheek when he gets there.

Michael winds an arm around Gavin's waist and kisses him lazily. He uncaps the lube and pours a generous amount in the palm of his hand and coats his fingers. Gav's grinning at him and pressing closer, his dick sliding against Michael's thigh. "Yeah?" Michael asks.

"Yes, please," Gavin murmurs against the skin of Michael's neck, letting out a deep groan when Michael presses in with a single finger. "Can do two or three. I'm not delicate."

Right. Not the first time Gav's doing this. "You, uh, like it a bit rough, don't you?"

Gavin glances up quickly, then away, teeth worrying at his bottom lip. "Yeah," he admits and arches up against Michael when Michael goes in with three fingers at once. He hisses, exhales, and pushes back against Michael's hand. "Christ," he says, "that's good." He rocks his hips back and forth as Michael works his fingers into him, stretching him though it doesn't really seem like Gavin needs it.  "H-how do you want me?"

Michael could pretty much just watch this spectacle forever, but his dick is demanding some attention and, well, he really, really wants to fuck Gavin, so... "Anyway I can get you," he says, "but right now, on your hands and knees."

Gavin shudders and does as Michael asked, his hands clutching at his expensive sheets. He lowers his shoulders and arches his back, dropping his head forward. It's a fucking sight.

Michael's mouth goes dry.

Apparently it takes too long for Michael to move, because Gavin raises his head again and looks at Michael over his shoulder. "Anytime today, Michael. All day long I've been thinking about this and now you're bloody spacing out on me?"

"I, uh, sorry," says Michael, stumbling over his words. "I got stupid there for a second, but Jesus, Gavin. I'm gonna..." He makes a vague gesture at the space in front of him and Gavin smirks. "Yeah."

"Yeah?" He sounds delighted with having made Michael lose the ability to speak in proper sentences, so Michael leans over and bites at his hip, hard enough to bruise. "Michael!"

Michael allows himself a smug grin and grabs at Gavin's waist, dragging him backwards across the sheets rather than moving up himself. Gavin instinctively fights back for a few seconds, then lets himself be put into position, lowering his head again and breathing out harshly. Michael moves his hand underneath him and finds his dick and gives it a few quick tugs, enough to make Gavin choke on his breath.

Good. This is so fucking good. He grabs for the lube again and gets himself slick and ready.

Gavin's trembling a little when Michael presses the head of his dick against his hole. Michael can see the effort it takes for Gavin to stay still as Michael slides in. He tries to take it slow, unsure of how much he can take, but Gavin almost immediately pushes back impatiently and okay, Michael can comply with that. No going on easy on Gavin, then.  

He snaps his hips forward and is rewarded with a choked off gasp from Gavin. Jesus fucking Christ, this feels so fucking good. Michael bites his lip to stop an embarrassing moan from escaping and gets Gavin's hips, holding him still as he fucks into him. Gavin's not so quiet, little ah ah ahs spilling from his mouth as Michael rocks into him, the sounds they're making echoing obscenely against the walls.

Gavin's hot and tight and squeezing around Michael's dick like he was fucking born to do it, born to get fucked. Michael's hands are leaving bruises on his skin and those are gonna be there for days, hidden under his clothes, and they'll both know who put them there. Michael groans, throwing his head back and panting.

"Michael," Gavin gasps, "Michael, Michael, please, please—harder—"

The way Gavin says his name, so full of need and desperation, is fucking doing him in. Michael closes his eyes and keeps moving, slowing down despite Gavin's pleas for more, for harder, for faster. If he does what Gavin asks, it'll be over too soon because Michael can't take much more of this. He forces himself to draw it out, to relax. He breathes out and shifts his weight, pulling out at an agonizingly slow pace and pressing back in, steady and deep.

Gavin whines, high in his throat, and tries to speed things up, hips pushing back erratically, but Michael tightens his grip and holds him firm.

"Slow, Gavin," he manages, "or it'll be over in like a minute."

"Can't," says Gavin and it sounds so broken Michael nearly gives in to the overpowering need to just thrust and fuck and take Gavin apart—

The front door opens and slams shut again and Michael completely freezes. Who...?

"Ryan's here," says Gavin, voice muffled by his arm. "Michael. Michael, for the love of Christ, don't stop. If you stop now, I will... I will do something."

Michael lets out an almost hysterical giggle at that. "Y-you will do something? What a threat, Gav. I'm shaking in my boots."

"I'm not at my best right now, Michael!" says Gavin indignantly. "Now please keep fucking me before I lose my damn mind."

Ryan's arrival and the sheer panic that had seized Michael for a couple of seconds there have actually made it a little easier to get himself under control. Michael takes a couple of deep breaths, fucking Gavin leisurely, and says, "even if you gave me a million bucks I couldn't stop right now, Gav." As soon as he says it, he knows he's going to regret it, because this is Gavin.

Gav's voice is shaky. "A million dollars," he says, grunting when Michael thrusts particularly viciously a couple of times to get him to stop, "a-a-a million dollars, but every time you come, your mum gets a picture sent to her of your O-face."

"Gavin," Michael moans, half-laughing, and he drops his head between Gavin's shoulder blades. "Fucking I hate you."

"Well," says Ryan from the door, "even though I was expecting something like this, it's still a very nice thing to come home to." He's still in his Vagabond get-up, minus the leather jacket, but he's taking off the mask and casually tossing it aside, stepping into the room, hungry eyes on Michael and Gavin. "Is this really the time for hypothetical questions, though, Gavin?"

"I'm pretty sure he's used that one before, too," says Michael, rolling his hips, pushing his dick deep into Gavin's ass. "Get more creative, asshole."

Ryan grins and tilts Michael's chin up for a kiss. The mask is off, but there's still black grease around his eyes and smudged on his cheeks and forehead. He looks terrifying and Michael wants badly to stick his tongue down his throat. He gets that opportunity when Ryan kisses him deeply, a hand running possessively down his bare back, squeezing his ass.

"You know how you can get him to focus again?" Ryan asks against Michael's lips and Gavin squeaks out, 'Ryan!' in a panicked tone and starts wriggling and squirming. Michael nearly loses his grip because his hands are sweaty as fuck and Gavin's skin is slick as well, but he clutches harder and Gavin eventually subsides as much as he can with Michael's cock in his ass. "Oh, he knows what's coming," says Ryan. "Lean back a little."

Michael does as Ryan asks, mildly confused, and nearly chokes on his tongue when Ryan pulls back and smacks Gavin's ass. It's not even that hard, but Gavin lets out a long, harsh moan and buries his face in the sheets, his legs shaking, squeezing around Michael's dick spasmodically.

"Oh, fuck," says Michael weakly, moving his hips again. "Fuck, he liked that."

"Yeah, he does," says Ryan smugly. "You try."

Gavin protests into the sheets but his back arches up like he's inviting another smack so Michael does it, spanking him on the other side of his ass. The yelp Gavin lets out goes straight to Michael's dick and rips the breath out of his lungs. He folds himself over Gavin's back and fucks him harder, only distantly aware of Ryan shedding his clothes next to the bed.

The mattress dips when Ryan climbs on and then his voice is in Michael's ear. "See? Totally focused again."

Jesus. Michael shuts his eyes tightly as he and Gavin move in a sloppy rhythm. Gavin's whimpering and then crying out when Ryan gets a hand in his hair and pulls his head up to demand a kiss; Michael opens his eyes just to watch it happen.

"I'm gonna come," Michael says through gritted teeth. He can't stop it now, it's too good, it feels too fucking intense, Jesus fuck there's a handprint on Gavin's ass, fuck, fuck, fuck—he comes with a shout, hips pressed snugly against Gavin's ass and jerking spasmodically. He drops his head to Gavin's back, pants into his hot, damp skin, licks at the sweat and tastes the salt on his tongue. Holy shit.

Gavin's saying something, but Michael can't hear him. He slowly pulls out and rolls off of him, dropping onto the mattress like a stone, winded, breathless, boneless. He blindly reaches for Gavin, pulls him down for a wet, messy kiss, and fumbles for his dick. Gavin groans when Michael wraps his hand around him – he's still hard and slick with precum.

"Can't come from getting fucked?" Michael murmurs between kisses.

"S-sometimes," Gavin manages. "Oh, God, Michael—I need to—"

"Not yet." That's Ryan, wrapping an arm around Gavin's waist and pulling him away from Michael. Gavin squawks and whines when Michael's hand slips loose. "Me first." He tilts Gavin's face up and claims his mouth, seemingly effortlessly shifting and repositioning both himself and Gavin so Gavin is straddling his lap, legs around Ryan's hips. Michael pushes himself further up on the bed, getting a pillow under his head so he can enjoy this show.

His body is still pleasantly buzzing and there's a nice breeze cooling his sweaty body down and Gavin is writhing against Ryan despite the very little leeway Ryan's giving him.

"Up," Ryan says and Michael watches him fist his own dick, hand slick with lube, as Gavin gets up on wobbly knees and slowly sinks down on Ryan's dick, whimpering all the while. "Good. Take it easy, Gav, I know it's a lot right now. Michael worked you over but good." He strokes a soothing hand down Gavin's side and meets Michael's eyes. "You liked it when he spanked you, didn't you?"

Gavin bites his lip and nods.

Michael squirms on the bed. He'd done that. He'd smacked Gavin's ass. And he'd liked it, and so had Gavin. He'd felt powerful. He's never done anything like that before. None of his previous bed partners had ever expressed interest in it, though there had been that one chick who'd liked it when Michael pinned her hands to the bed.

"I liked it too, Gav," he offers and clears his throat because fuck, his voice is rough. "It's okay."

"Told you," Ryan murmurs, pressing kisses against Gavin's collarbone, rocking up in tiny, incremental thrusts. Gavin's dick is still so hard it must ache, Michael thinks, watching it bob and bounce as Ryan fucks into him. "Faster, Gavin. You're gonna make me come before you get to."

"Not fair," Gavin whines. "Y-you just got here."

"Tough luck," says Ryan, leaving a trail of bitemarks across Gavin's chest and shoulder. He squeezes at Gavin's hips and raises him up, draws him down with enough force to punch a wild groan out of Gavin.

Shit. Michael shifts again on the bed. He's gonna get hard again just from watching this.

"Fucking ride me, Free," Ryan demands, voice low and he groans when Gavin obeys, bouncing up and down in his lap. Ryan's hands slide down low on his back, to his ass, fingers digging into the tanned skin there, holding him open for Ryan's dick.

"Oh, nice," says Michael weakly and he wonders how he got here. Just a few weeks ago he was super fucking pissed with Gavin for not telling him about his crazy mercenary ex-boyfriend, and now he's in bed with Gavin and the crazy mercenary ex-boyfriend, watching them fuck. This is his life now. It's fucking insane.

Gavin wraps his arms around Ryan's neck and buries his face in his shoulder, keeping up the demanding rhythm that Ryan clearly wants, panting and moaning. Ryan's face is turning redder, sweat on his brow, his control almost gone as well. The black around his eyes is a complete mess by now, streaked with sweat. Michael watches, riveted, and starts when Ryan calls his name.

"Come on, Michael," says Ryan. "Give Gavin a hand here."

"What? Oh, yeah. Yeah," says Michael, getting to his knees and shuffling over. He presses up against Gavin's bare back and curls an arm around him. "I can do that." He threads his fingers through Gavin's pubic hair and loosely fists his dick, shifting and moving with Gavin's shivery rocking up and down. "He can't come yet, right?"

Gavin whines. He's clutching Ryan's shoulders so hard his nails leave half-moon shaped marks on his skin. "Please, please, please," he says, almost chanting the word. "Michael, please, Ryan—"

"Not much longer," Ryan promises, brushing Gavin's sweaty hair out of his face. "I'm close."

Michael hooks his chin over Gavin's shoulder and it's awkward because Gavin's moving, has to keep moving, but he's willing to deal with the awkwardness as long as he can see the concentration on Gavin's face, the harsh breaths coming out of his mouth, the sweat on his temple. Michael licks at the sweat, drawing another moan from Gavin and a grunt from Ryan, and he squeezes around Gavin's dick gently, feeling it throb and pulse in his hand. Gavin's real close.

Michael wonders what Ryan would do if he makes Gavin come right now. He wants to ask, but figures now is not the time, and while it's tempting to sabotage Gavin – and it'd be so easy, a couple of firm strokes and he'd be gone – he decides to hold off on it. There'll be more chances to ruin Gavin's day.

"Ryan, Ryan–" Gavin sounds absolutely wrecked. Michael kisses his jaw, cheek, whatever he can reach, and keeps up a gentle, loose slide up and down his dick. "I gotta—please—"

Ryan fucks up into him, hard and fast, the bed shaking with the motion and then he's crying out, swearing, and he's coming, Michael can see it, and Christ, what a sight; Michael wants to see this again and again. Gavin's rocking in Michael's hand, but slower now, and Michael—

Michael bends himself around Gavin and it's awkward as hell especially since Gav is still in Ryan's lap and Ryan's dick is still inside him, but he's got to have him in his mouth.

"Michael," Gavin groans, his hand coming up to tug at Michael's hair. "Oh, God, Michael."

Michael swallows him down and sucks hard, tongue working the veins and the head. Gavin's pulling Michael's hair hard now and it's almost painful, but totally fucking worth it because Gavin comes with a desperate shout, spilling into Michael's mouth, hips jerking wildly. Michael takes everything he has to offer and pulls off with a pop and a shuddered gasp.

Gavin slumps forward, his head knocking into Ryan's cheek hard enough that Michael can hear the thock noise it makes.

"Ow," Ryan says dryly, still breathing fast. "Yes, I really wanted to end this with a concussion, Gavin." He's patting the back of Gavin's head gently as he says it and Michael laughs softly. "You okay?"

"No," Gavin says, voice weak, "I've-I've died. You've killed me. Tell Geoff he can have my Xbox." His air comes out in a whoosh when he disentangles himself from Ryan and he collapses face down on the mattress between the two of them, chest heaving. "On second thought, Michael, you can have my Xbox. Geoff would only use mine to fart on." The words are kind of slurred into the sheets, but still audible enough.

Michael snorts. "I've got three Xboxes, idiot. I don't need more." He glances up at Ryan, who's rubbing at his cheek. "How's your face? He's got a hard head."

"Hey." Gavin, indignant, but too exhausted to put up much of a fight. "Don't be a pleb, Michael."

Ryan waves him off. "I've been hit harder." He rubs his eyes and grimaces when his hand comes away black. "Well. I might be in need of a shower. Or two showers."

Michael looks down at himself and makes a face too. "Yeah, same. I'm pretty sure I smell, though it's hard to tell what with everything else stinking up the room."

"I've a huge shower," says Gavin, raising his head but keeping all his other body parts flat. It looks silly and Michael feels laughter bubbling in his chest. What the hell is this? This is so fucking ridiculous; how is this his life? "We can all fit."

"All right," Ryan says, sliding off the bed. "Let's go."

"My legs don't work anymore," Gavin says, "you'll have to carry me." He bats his eyes at Michael, who's still in his line of vision, and his mouth twists into a crooked grin. "This is your fault, you know."

"Fuck you," Michael says, giving him in the finger. "Stay here then, I'm not carrying your stupid ass to the shower."

"I've got it," Ryan says and without waiting for acknowledgment, he snags Gavin around his waist and throws him over his shoulder like he's nothing.

Gavin shrieks and slaps at Ryan's bare back. "Not like this, you prick!"

"You didn't specify," Ryan points out, in a reasonable tone. "Coming, Michael?"

Hell, yeah, he is.

Michael's in the middle of a humiliating GTA V race loss when Geoff comes into the living room. Well, actually, he stops in the door and just stands there, hands in his pocket, looking at Michael with a slight tilt of his head.

"Weird, Geoff," Michael says, not taking his eyes off the TV. "What's up?"

Geoff works his jaw and scrubs at the scraggly beard thing he's been cultivating over the past few weeks; Michael's this close to jumping him with a razor or at least a pair of scissors to do a bit of fucking grooming, at least. He heaves a deep sigh. "Michael," he says and his tone is so serious Michael actually looks at him.

On screen, his car goes flying off a cliff and the WASTED message flashes obnoxiously. "Something wrong? Someone get hurt?" Gavin, he wants to ask. "Is Gavin okay? Ryan? Jack, Jeremy?"

Geoff stares at him and then huffs out an almost laugh. "What? No, everyone's fine, that's not... that's not... Sorry, I guess I freaked you out there, nothing's happened. Well, something's happened, but I'm not quite sure – so, you and Gavin, right?"

"Yeah..." Michael says slowly, not sure where this is going.

Geoff steps into the room, fucking finally, and sits down on the couch next to Michael. "Things are... all right?"

"Just spit it out, Geoff," says Michael, quitting the race and exiting the game. Geoff is looking at him expectantly and Michael sighs. "Yes, things are fine. Fucking tell me what's up, Geoff. You know I'm not one for guessing games."

"I saw him and Ryan," Geoff says, "the other day. They must not have known I was there because they were getting awfully cuddly and..." Geoff makes some jazzy hand gestures there. Michael has no idea what he means, unless Ryan and Gav actually got it on at the base, which seems highly unlikely. "So before I kill Gav for being a cheating dick, I thought I'd tell you. I'm sorry, man. I just figured you should know why Gavin will be dead tomorrow."

Michael closes his eyes and drops his face in his hands. Fucking great. They knew they would have to tell Geoff and the others at some point, but they'd held off on it, unsure of how they would react – and whether the good thing they had going was something that would last. It'd only been two months. Two fucking amazing, glorious months, but only two months nonetheless.

He doubts Geoff will actually kill Gavin – Gav's like a son to him – but all the same, he can't the risk. It's Geoff Ramsey. He's killed people he liked better for less. "Well, first of all, don't kill Gavin," he says, taking off his glasses and rubbing at his eyes. "Second..." He hesitates, not sure of how to bring it. "I know he's fucking Ryan."

"That little shit," says Geoff, getting to his feet. "I'm gonna rip his head off and dump it in the Alamo. Or maybe I'll just slice his dick off since he doesn't fucking know where to stick it, and more importantly, where to not stick it."

"Geoff," Michael says, "fucking chill. I'm fucking Ryan too."

Geoff looks like Michael just told him he's got two eight-inch dicks. "I... what?" He starts saying something, stops, tries again, stops again, and then sits down on the coffeetable so hard it rattles and an Xbox controller drops to the ground. "You what?"

Michael wets his lips and shrugs a little. "It's a thing," he says. Never in his life had he imagined it would be this awkward. Of course, he'd also expected to have Gav and Ryan there with him, fielding some of the questions and making it so he wasn't the sole recipient of Geoff's incredulous laser stare. "Me, Gavin and Ryan." He waves his hands in a small circle. "Together."

Geoff's laughter is pretty much hysterical. Michael lets him get it out without comment, just waits for him to calm down and realize he's not the butt of a joke.

"This is a joke, right?" says Geoff. Predictable.

"Nope," says Michael. "We were gonna tell you... all of you, but not just yet."

"How long has this been going on?" Geoff demands and yep, there's that note of anger, the first sign he's realizing Michael's not fucking with him.

"Nine weeks, give or take," says Michael.

"So you've been..."

"Fucking the both of them for the past nine weeks?" Michael says. "Pretty much non-stop, yeah. I haven't had this much sex in my life, Geoff." He just throws it out there. Pays to be honest, right? And maybe he's bragging, just a little bit.

Geoff groans and throws himself backwards onto the coffeetable, ripping at his hair. "Fuck me," he says, "fucking fuck me sideways."

"Sure thing, boss, but that'll cost you extra." Jeremy wanders in with his nose in a car manual, not even paying real attention to either of them. "What are we talking about?"

"Michael's fucking Gavin and Ryan," Geoff says, before Michael can say anything else. He sounds outraged about it.

Jeremy's mouth falls open and the car manual drops to the ground. "What?"

"Thanks, Geoff," Michael says, kicking at his shins. "It's no big deal, Jeremy."

"It's kind of a big deal, dude," says Jeremy. And then, "what's it like?"

"What's what like?" Michael asks, narrowing his eyes at him.

"I mean, it's the Vagabond. Who wouldn't be curious?"

"I don't need to hear this," Geoff says, sticking his fingers in his ears because he's a fucking four-year-old.

Michael gets up, pointedly adjusts the gun in the waistband of his jeans and says, "fuck off, Lil' J, if you think I'm gonna tell you any of that."

Jeremy raises his hands. "Hey, man, no offense. I don't care who you fuck and I don't care if it's one person or twelve. Whatever floats your boat. Right, Geoff?" And he looks at Geoff, who's got his hands tented in front of his face, eyes still round as saucers. "Right?"

"Right," Geoff says, voice high. "I mean, I guess—I-I-I've had threesomes before and those were pretty awesome, so who am I to judge, right?"

"Right," says Michael, even though it's not quite the same.

There's the slamming of a door followed by arguing and thank God, Gavin and Ryan have made it back to the base from whatever the fuck errand they were running. Michael could kiss them and maybe he should, show Geoff and Jeremy that he's seriously not kidding, but they've made a pact, an agreement: no fooling around at work. The stakes are high and death can come at any time, from any angle, and they need to be on high alert pretty much every second when they're doing their thing.

"Because that's not how math works!" Ryan says, stomping into the living room.

"It's called maths, Ryan."

"No, it's not, you fucking British piece of shit!"

"Kill me," says Jack, who was apparently with them and who looks murderous enough that Michael hastily gets out of her way as she makes a beeline for her favorite chair and sinks down into it.

"But if you flip a coin three times," Gavin says, in a voice that clearly says he's been talking about this for a while now, "then the chances of getting heads three times in a row—"

"Stop," Jack says loudly. "Please, for the love of God, stop. I don't care. Nobody cares. You've been arguing over this all fucking day. Stop or I'm gonna find some way to rip out your tongues."

"Oh, that's easy. You just need a pair of pliers." Ryan, of course. "It's a very strong muscle, but if you pull hard and fast enough, you can easily do it. Lot of blood, though. Messy. Make sure to stand clear."

"See," Jack says, stabbing a finger in Ryan's direction, "that's fucking creepy, but it's infinitely preferable over the goddamn coin argument. Which, by the way, I had to listen to for three fucking hours because you guys suck and I hate you."

"They're fucking," Geoff says, spreading his arms theatrically, and Michael has to laugh at all of their dumb fucking faces.

Jack frowns. "Who? Michael and Gavin? We knew that, Geoff."

Gavin looks like he wants the ground to swallow him whole and his eyes when they meet Michael's are wide and wild. "What?" he says.

"I told Geoff," says Michael, looking between Gavin and Ryan, "because he thought you were cheating on me with Ryan. Had to set the record straight. What were you doing last night?"

"Aw, crap," says Ryan and Michael can tell he looks sheepish under the mask. "I put my arm around you for maybe two seconds when we were leaving, remember?" he says to Gavin. "I thought nobody was there!"

"I was there, asshole," says Geoff. "I saw."

"What," Jack says, slowly sitting up.

"I was gonna kill you," Geoff continues to Gavin, "because fuck cheaters always so I came to tell Michael you were a two-timing bitch and he just blew my goddamn mind."

"Wait," says Jack.

"I wouldn't cheat," Gavin protests.

"I know that!" says Geoff. "But then I saw you and it looked so damn cuddly and you were looking at Ryan with these big moony eyes—"

"—did not," says Gavin, voice cracking.

"—like you look at Michael and I was like, 'well, something's going on there' and I didn't know what to do!" Geoff Ramsey, #7 on Los Santos' Most Wanted List, looks for all the world like a lost little kid. Michael almost has to laugh.

"Uh," says Jack.

"So you went straight to killing me?" Gavin asks.

Jack fires her gun into the ceiling and Michael is impressed with how quickly everyone shuts the fuck up. Jack's got near limitless patience – she has to, with all of them – but when she's done, she's fucking done.

"My ceiling!" Geoff says. "First my wall, now my ceiling!"

"Shut the fuck up," says Jack, "and tell me what's going on. Who's fucking who?"

"All three of them," Jeremy says helpfully, "each other."

Jack's eyes grow progressively wider as she looks from Michael to Gavin to Ryan. Michael envies Ryan his mask right now; he's the only one who can hide his expression from the others, though Michael's gotten pretty damn good at reading his body language. Right now, Ryan's body says 'I want to not be here' and he can't blame him.

"I'm leaving," Gavin announces, digging up his obnoxious shades from a pocket. He slides them on and gives the room an obnoxious smirk before turning around and moving to leave.

"Nope," Ryan says, grabbing his wrist, "if I have to sit through this, you have to, too."

And just as quickly, Gavin's irritating swagger and smirk disappear as he fights against Ryan's hold with zero effect. Some day Michael's going to drag him down to the gym and force him through a workout routine or twenty. Would be good for him, if he knew how to throw a punch. Could be fun for him and Ryan, if he knew how to defend himself a little better.

Jack pinches the bridge of her nose. "Okay," she says. "Okay. That's... unexpected." She looks between them already, shaking her head a little. "I don't really know what to say about this revelation."

"Well, good, cause nobody really needs to say anything," says Michael.

"I have something," Geoff says, his face scrunching up. "Two things, actually. Did you... did you—any of you ever have sex in this house?"

"Oh, God," Jeremy says. "Please, no."

"No," says Michael, because he knows he hasn't, and Ryan and Gavin would've told him. They shake their heads too.

"Never, ever, ever have sex in this house," says Geoff, saying the words like they're actively hurting them. "Anywhere. Not in the gym, not in the showers, not in Gav's lab—"

"I wouldn't want cum all over my equipment," says Gavin, horrified, and Michael bites back a laugh. Jesus, Gav.

Geoff manfully ignores him. "—not in the bedrooms we never use anyway, not in the basement, not anywhere."

"What about the backyard?" Ryan asks innocently. "Because there's this spot right at the back where no one can see you—"

"Ryan," says Gavin, horrified, and Ryan laughs. "You mingey prick. You weren't serious, were you?"

"Of course not," Ryan says, but Michael's not sure whether his tone is entirely serious or not. It's sometimes hard to tell with the guy. Gavin's narrowed gaze mirrors Michael's thoughts. "Geoff might fire me."

"Geoff might kill you," says Geoff.

"Wellllll," Ryan says, drawing it out, "Geoff can try."

The two of them have a pretty tense stare-down, then Geoff sighs. "You heard me," is all he says.

"I did," says Ryan. "You're the boss."

"Damn fucking right I am," mutters Geoff. "Now get the fuck out. Don't you all have jobs to do?"

Never let it be said Michael Jones doesn't take the opportunity to escape from an awkward situation when it's given to him. He catches Gavin's sleeve on the way out and jerks his head at Ryan to follow him. Jeremy and Jack's gazes burn on his back as the three of them leave the living room and Michael trots down the stairs to the basement. Their firing range is there, a place where Michael's spent countless hours honing his skills.

The other space there is Gavin's lab-slash-tech room, full of computers and cameras and high-tech equipment nobody is allowed to even look at, much less touch, and that's where Michael heads, fingers tight on Gavin's sleeve.

"Jesus Christ," Gavin says explosively after Ryan closes the door behind the three of them. "He was gonna kill me for cheating on you? " He runs a hand through his hair and pulls a face. It's almost a pout and Michael reaches up to pat his cheek as condescendingly as he can.

"Aww, Gavvy," he says, "scared of the big bad wolf? He wasn't gonna kill you, idiot. He was just mad because he thought you were a two-timing little bitch."

"Well, at least it's out there now," Ryan says. "Saves us the trouble of having to find the right time to tell him. And the others. I mean, that was awkward as hell and made me feel like I was getting the sex talk from my dad again, but at least now everybody knows."

Gavin throws himself in his chair and it bends backwards with a creak. "I guess," he says, staring at the ceiling, folding his hands behind his head. "We also won't have to hide it here. Look at the bright side, yeah?"

"Exactly," says Michael. "Like ripping off a bandaid." He kicks at Gavin's chair and smirks with satisfaction as it goes skidding across the floor, Gavin's hands wildly flailing before they grip the arms and it comes to a stop. "Now, we all good? Because Geoff was right, we do have a job to do. Many, many jobs. For many, many dollars."

"I'm top," Gavin says and then his expression changes to the one that always makes Michael want to hide because it never leads to anything good. "Although I will say... Geoff's little speech gave me so many ideas for office sex."

"No, Gavin," Michael and Ryan say in unison, looking at each other, then back at Gavin.

Gavin grins.