Sirens wail in the distance, the smoke barely settling from the gun fight, some “concerned” citizen no doubt reporting the unmistakable sound of gunshots, probably hoping to get a shout out on Weazel News. It wouldn’t surprise anyone in the slightest. Not when it comes to Los Santos.
The job hadn’t gone
according to plan exactly, no one taking into account the ambush that
had been waiting for them, but Geoff’s pretty sure his team’s still
in one piece. He won’t know for sure, not until they meet up at the
rendezvous point, but he has enough time to see Ray drag Ryan to his
feet and Michael usher Gavin towards an alleyway before diving into
Jack’s car, the door barely closed before her foot stomps on the gas,
tires squealing as she rockets onto the street.
Jack points out, taking a sharp left, Geoff grabbing the door handle
instinctively, gripping it for dear life.
“Am I?” Geoff is suddenly aware of the stinging pain coming from his arm. He glances over,
noting the scarlet dribbling from his suit jacket, groaning softly.
“I liked this suit.”
Jack snorts, shaking her
head, and starts to slow down, most likely deeming it safe enough to
go a decent speed. She clutches the steering wheel a little tighter
than necessary, her knuckles turning a stark white, chancing a glance
at Geoff, and says, “Ryan got hit.”
“A shoulder wound,”
Geoff replies with a flippant hand wave. “Ray’ll make sure he gets
to Burnie’s; he’ll be fine.” She gives him a dubious stare and he
sighs. “Alright, I’ll call the others, tell them to meet at
Burnie’s, if it’ll make you happy.”
“Thank you,” Jack
states relaxing her grip on the steering wheel a little.
“Yeah, yeah,” he
grumbles digging his phone from his pocket. If he’s being honest,
Geoff is worried too, but he knows how Ryan gets if anyone frets over
him. He could be missing a limb and insist that he’s fine. That man
is going to be the death of Geoff one of these days.
Ray hovers in the doorway
of Burnie’s back room, watching him work. He ignores Ryan’s
insistence that he’s fine, pressing gauze to the freely bleeding
wound, shaking his head. This isn’t the first time Burnie Burns has
had to help them and Ray knows this won’t be the last.
“Should charge you
assholes extra,” Burnie complains beckoning Ray over to him.
Burying his hands in his hoodie pocket, Ray crosses the room,
stopping next to Burnie. Gesturing to the gauze in his hand, Burnie
says, “Hold that for a second. I need to make sure the bullet
actually went through.”
Ray’s hands replace
Burnie’s, the gauze already turning a brilliant scarlet, and he
starts poking at the exit wound on Ryan’s back. “Alright, you got
lucky. It’s a clean shot, might leave a scar but you should be able
to use the arm again if you take it easy.”
“Easy,” Ray murmurs
with a snort, knowing ‘taking it easy’ and Ryan have never been used
in the same sentence without the words 'will not be’ added to the
mix. He’s constantly moving, constantly on the go, constantly doing
something that it’s any wonder the guy actually sleeps.
deadpans pulling a suture set from his first aid kit, “easy.”
Burnie sets to work sewing up the bullet wound, all the while Ryan sits stoically, not making a sound, but Ray can see the pain in his eyes. The Vagabond may be good at hiding his emotions from his face, but he can never quite keep them out of his eyes. It’s something Ray doesn’t think Ryan knows about, or if he did he doesn’t bring attention to it. This could be why he chooses to hide himself behind those masks most of the time.
When Burnie’s finished,
he yanks his gloves off, tossing them into a corner, stalking out of
the room a moment later. When he’s gone, Ray fixes Ryan with a
pensive look, chewing on his bottom lip, but doesn’t say anything.
“Problem?” Ryan turns
his attention to Ray, quirking an eyebrow, his red and black face
paint running down his face, smearing in some places.
“You could have
let me take the bullet,” Ray states slowly, still watching Ryan.
“But I didn’t.”
“No,” Ray says after
a brief pause, looking away from Ryan with a barely audible huff,
Burnie returns a moment
later, a sudden yelp echoing through the room when he shoves a needle
in Ryan’s arm. “That should stave off the pain for the night,” he
says triumphantly, slamming a bottle of painkillers on the table.
“Tell Geoff it’s the same fee as usual.”
“No need,” Geoff says
from the doorway, the rest of the crew hovering behind him. He has
his arms crossed, an amused look in his eyes. “Still got the
bedside manner of a saint, I see.”
“Fuck off,” Burnie
retorts with no heat behind his words. He closes his kit, drags it
off the table, and starts towards the door, calling over his
shoulder, “You can get the hell out whenever.”
Geoff says turning to shove his crew towards the exit. “We still on
for poker next week?” Burnie grunts in reply, disappearing behind
another doorway. “Great.” He glances over his shoulder, eyes
settling on Ray, and says, “Hurry up so we can get him home before
the drugs kick in.”
“The drugs won’t affect
me,” Ryan states with a nonchalant shrug. “I’ll be fine.” Geoff
snorts but doesn’t respond, letting the door close behind him, and
Ryan turns a dubious stare to Ray. “I’m fine.”
“Sure,” Ray concedes
shoving a slightly damaged leather jacket at him. He gets a
grunt in reply, immediately letting the subject drop, already too
tired to deal with any of this tonight.
If ever, for that matter.
The drugs take a bit to
affect Ryan, but Ray can pinpoint the exact second they take hold.
One moment Ryan and Gavin are having the coin argument again (no one
is quite sure what brought it on this time) and the next Ryan is
giggling at something in the corner and Gavin is shouting, “He’s
finally lost his bloody mind!”
“He’d actually have to
be sane to lose his mind,” Michael calls from the breakfast bar,
shoveling another spoonful of Froot Loops into his mouth. “What the
fuck is he laughing at anyway?”
“It’s probably the
painkillers,” Jack states from her lounged position on the couch,
running her knife down the whet stone with an audible shink.
“This is probably why he always refuses them.”
turns blue, owlish eyes to Ray and says, “I know you.”
know you, too,” Ray responds without looking up from his DS.
got shot,” he states in a matter of fact voice, frowning down at
his bulky shoulder, a black t-shirt hiding the bandages. “I don’t
like getting shot.”
one does, dumbass.” Michael hops off his stool, carrying his cereal
bowl to the sink, dropping it in with a loud clatter. “Maybe next
time you’ll duck.” He heads towards the door, grabbing his jacket
off the hook. “Who wants a ride to The Vanilla Unicorn? I’m buying
the first round.”
jumps up, eyeing Ryan warily, glassy blue eyes tracking his movements
as he rushes towards the door. Geoff, who hadn’t even been in the
living room, appears at the prospect of tits and alcohol, following
right on Gavin’s heels.
else?” Michael asks, his eyes on Ray.
good,” he answers mashing buttons, trying to get his stupid
character to catch the damn butterfly.
door closes a moment later, effectively cutting off Gavin’s bitching
about how much creepier Ryan is on morphine. Ray’s is aware of Jack
closing her knife, collecting both it and her whet stone, and getting
up, murmuring something about taking a shower.
settles over the apartment the moment Jack is gone, Ray silently
cursing at the stupid game before shutting it off and tossing it to
the other end of the couch. He doesn’t even know why he bought it; it
has brought him nothing but wasted hours and frustration. It’s one
stupid butterfly; it should not be that hard.
pulls his legs up to his chest, resting his chin on his knees, and
glances over at Ryan. He’s rocking back and forth, staring blankly
at the floor, barely able to keep his eyes open. One good wind could
knock the guy over, and had this been anyone else Ray might have
gently nudged him with his foot just to see what happens, but he
should probably go lie down,” he says instead, unfolding his legs,
shoving himself to his feet. A hand shoots out, grabbing his wrist in
a surprisingly strong grip, yanking him back onto the couch. “Okay,
I guess we’re just gonna sit here.” He glances down at the hand
wrapped tightly around him and says, “I’ve never been the hand
holding type, but I guess I can make an exception.”
Ryan lets him go, a dejected look on his face.
I tell you something?” Ryan asks suddenly, his mood shifting again.
It’s almost enough to give Ray whiplash.
you promise not to tell anyone? Especially
suppressing a snort, Ray says, “I promise.”
Ryan nods, trying to focus his eyes, giving up after a moment. “Ray’s
my favorite,” he admits after a beat, nodding again, a pleased
smile on his face. “It’s why I took the bullet.” He gestures to
his shoulder, frowning again. “I don’t like getting shot.”
not sure how to respond, knowing anything he says wouldn’t be
remembered in the morning. He knows he has to say something
though, even if it’s to make a joke, but he can’t quite push down
the sudden irritation he feels. Ryan took a bullet meant for him
because of what? So he didn’t have to see Ray hurt? He’s not made of
glass; he would have healed.
feels something warm lean against him, the drugs finally dragging
Ryan into sleep, his head heavy against Ray’s shoulder, and Ray feels
his irritation slip away. The Vagabond may be a scary mofo who enjoys
causing as much mayhem as possible, but Ryan Haywood was a big ol’
softy at heart.
a quiet huff, Ray shakes his head and says, “I guess you’re my
favorite too, jackass.”