Do you have a take on Ryan's tragic backstory? (I know you said you actually have a nicer background for him but i thought you might have a dark version too!)
Anonymous said: What are some of your head cannons for FAHC Ryan?
didn’t set out to be what he became. Few children dream of becoming
devastation. It’s a trope that is thrown around in all kinds of media
– redeemable bad guy, killer with a heart of gold. How quaint. Like
most things, the real life version is so much darker.
There’s something bleak and awful in a world renown mercenary who still feels for every victim. Something inescapably tragic in finding satisfaction in an act so personally distasteful. Because Ryan’s never been cruel, exactly. Would never dream of torturing an animal, of hurting a child. Doesn’t even enjoy the majority of the dirty work he’s surrounded himself in. Which isn’t to say he doesn’t enjoy any of it. Doesn’t get some level of dark gratification from his own competence, from the fear he’s sown, the reputation he’s nurtured, the safety he’s crafted from blood-soaked screams and scorched white bones. There was a time when the Vagabond was truly as dispassionate as they say, but since joining the Fake AH Crew the mercenary certainly lived up to the gang’s notorious affinity for flare; Ryan always was a bit theatrical, and the only thing worse than an apathetic killer is one who can see the morbid humour in it all.
Ryan’s criminal career actually begins years before the Vagabond crashed into being. Started like so many others; young and bored, too clever for his own good and desperate for a way to prove it. He drifts into a group who wanted bigger, wanted better, wanted a life society told them was forbidden. It would be easy to say he got caught up in the wrong crowd, pulled along in their wake, but it wouldn’t be accurate. Ryan has been many things but never meek. Never a blind follower. Ryan who could never settle for simply trusting what others tell him, never believing in absolutes he hasn’t tested for himself. Not when he could find another way around, a way under, when he could take the problem apart and find a solution no one else ever expected.
So he joined, he fit in, he rose and he flourished. Ryan wasn’t a killer back then, criminal yes but not a mercenary; they were thieves mostly, would posture and swagger and inflate their own egos but they kept away from the big gangs. At least at first. Because sooner or later things are going to go south and it wasn’t pretty when they did. The group fractures, those who can flee back to their old lives, or into the relative safety of bigger crews, and those left behind have blood on their hands and a bounty on their heads.
Taking a life isn’t quite as difficult as Ryan had anticipated. Awful, of course, and not something he would do without necessity, but the time for scruples has surely passed and if death is what it takes for the last dregs of his gang to live then Ryan will paint the streets red. It’s wrong, he knows. It’s bad, immoral, everything people aren’t meant to be; it’s wrong and Ryan does it anyway. Figures morality is all well and good but won’t help at all if they’re all dead.
For a while it works, their group is small but it’s solid, together they were magnificent. Not that anyone cares about all that, not when the story everyone knows comes after. Comes, of course, with the birth of the Vagabond.
It’s no real surprise that the prominent story surrounding the origin of the most notorious mercenary in the country is as dark and unforgivable as the man himself. A tale of betrayal, of protecting his identity by wiping out all who knew him before the mask, making a name off of the death of those he once called friends. It’s chilling, horrifically fitting and almost entirely untrue; the crew dies, yes, treachery as the hands of one of their own but Ryan is not their Judas.
The man who traded away their lives for the right price was Ryan’s best friend in all the world, close enough to call brother, someone he trusted so blindly he’d let himself be beaten half to death before he even thought about retaliating. The only crew blood on Ryan’s hands was, it turns out, the most undeniably clean-cut case of self defence, not that it matters in the long run. Not when it plays out in the dark, out of sight, without witness. Not when he’s the only one who walks away, the one who dons a mask and buries his name, retreats from humanity and loses all semblance of mercy. Against all odds Ryan managed to survive. The man he had once been did not.
The story takes on a life of its own and the Vagabond does nothing to stop it; he is, after all, a killer. People should fear him, should run and hide and pray he doesn’t darken their doors. He killed a man who he loved dearly; what line was there left to cross? What sin could be thought too great?
Free from distraction the Vagabond throws himself into his work, takes job after job and sets to building the most terrifying image possible, a reputation full of atrocities which grow with every telling. There are no weak spots for his enemies to target, no useless emotions dragging him down; they say he’s heartless, say he’s inhuman, call him evil, call him corruption, call him nightmare. Eventually Ryan grows used to the way people shudder when they see him, confident in his talents and comfortable with his image. He finally acclimatises to the way mirrors reflect nothing but a cold black skull, and perhaps he couldn’t quite call himself happy but he isn’t exactly displeased with his life.
It becomes cathartic in it’s own way, a sense of satisfaction born from devastation, a sort of peace found in ruin. It makes him his own kind of damaged Ryan knows. Makes him unfixable, maybe. Or maybe it’s that thought in and of itself that condemns him, self awareness of his own desecration, a self fulfilling future of irredeemable wrongness. Either way he knows there’s no going back to how he was. Either way he knows, deep down, that he isn’t sure he wants to. Isn’t sure he’d take back soft, harmless Ryan even if he could, even with the nightmares, the fear and self doubt, the guilt. The glaring absence of guilt.
Ryan isn’t ashamed of what he is, of who he became. He can track his path directly, has run his choices over and over in his mind and comes to the same solutions every time; the Vagabond has always acted with intention. Ryan has always done what he needed to, what he wanted to, always evolved and advanced and overcome. So he isn’t ashamed, but he’s not always proud either. Not always confident that a life spent doing what is necessary rather than what is right is a life worth preserving.
It’s easier now, in the island of misfit toys, the family of selfish entertainment and bloodstained choices. Easier to justify the savagery of necessity when it is more than just his own life he is protecting, more than just his personal goals he is chasing. In the FAHC Ryan has found the acceptance he never knew he wanted, rekindled emotions he’d have sworn were beaten out of him in a dark alley all those years ago. Like stitching together a ragged wound he’d borne for so long he’d forgotten how to live without it; the scars would never truly fade away, still twinge on the worst days, but all of a sudden he’s faced with a life free of constant misery.
There is no way to repay them for that, for showing him a world where death and joy do not cancel each other out, soothing his conflictions without changing who he has become, for kinship between the equally wicked. Ryan knows they believe he’d die for them, and he would. Would jump right in with eyes wide open, just as self-aware as when he let’s Geoff make a show of his obedience, let’s Jack drag him out looking for ridiculously specific vehicles or let’s Jeremy tag in on a job he could have handled alone. As when he slows down a new trick Michael’s covertly trying to replicate or resigns himself to indentured servitude when Gavin plays him like a puppet; affection clearer in action than he could ever conceptualise in speech, trusting his team to understand.
What they don’t seem to understand is the fact that, if they needed him to, he would do so much more than die for them. To die is nothing, is brief sacrifice, but Ryan would ruin. Would create and destroy and conqueror. Were he asked to he would tear down the whole world around them, set it alight and shelter them from the blaze; a level of devotion that scares even himself when he considers it late at night, beyond thankful for their ignorance. Well, Geoff probably knows, something dark and thoughtful in his eyes when he looks at Ryan, something deeply confident in Ramsey when he commands the Vagabond. Assurance that no threat is idle, no harrowing claim is merely theatrics, and that knowledge alone should be enough to send Ryan running, to remind him of what happens when he lets down his guard, but it doesn’t, not anymore. Not since he recognised the clear display of trust in all that conviction, relishing in the opportunity to prove himself worthy; eyes alight with dangerous promise he now merely looks back at Geoff and has faith.
It’s not perfect; no matter how happy he is with his crew Ryan will still lose himself inside his own head sometimes, a place no other can follow, no other can ever truly understand. For all he is the ghoul in the nightmares of so many others Ryan never could quite extinguish his own demons. After all this time he still goes back and considers all his choices, still asks himself endless questions, gives endless answers, constantly assessing his place in the world, his counts and tallies, his debt. It’s how he reassures himself of the truth.
Did he make mistakes?
Does he have regrets?Yes.
Does death haunt him?Yes.
Did he choose this?Yes.
Is he monstrous?Yes.
Would he do worse?Yes.
Does he love them?Yes.
Did they destroy him?Yes.
Does he love them?Yes.
Will he destroy them?Yes.
Does he love them?Yes.
Is it worth it?Yes.
Are they worth it?Yes.
Is he worth it?.
Is he worth it?