Sometimes, people ask Merlin how long he and Arthur have been dating.
“Twenty one years,” he’d tell them.
“Wow,” they’d say, “that’s a really long time.”
Merlin just nods.
Then there’s the inevitable silence as they do some frantic calculations.
“Wait- how old are you?”
Merlin just goes back to his food.
“But - that means you started dating when you – you couldn’t have been older than, what?”
“Three,” Arthur says. Usually at his point in the conversation he’d start stealing Merlin’s fries. Merlin would let him, but glare a lot, because that’s what Merlin does. “We got married behind the church.”
“Wait, hold on, you’re married?”
“Nah,” Merlin says, “I don’t think those kinds of marriages are valid.”
“You know, with plastic rings, without witnesses, that stuff. Also, we weren’t of legal age, obviously.”
“We were three,” Arthur repeats, “and Merlin was wearing half a chocolate cake.”
“Was not. And if you hadn’t stolen my plate that wouldn’t–”
“But,” they’d say, a little desperate now, “I know, that’s a childhood thing, but that’s not actual dating. I mean, you guys had other relationships, right?”
Merlin stares, then. “No, why would I?”
Arthur always gets a bit angry at this part. “Merlin was my boyfriend from that day on. What, you think my ceremony was lacking somehow?”
“Wait no, I didn’t mean -”
“Because I got him flowers-”
“Dandelions, he got me dandelion, also roses, they pricked him, he still has a scar there-”
“And there was music-”
“Mum was making more cake, she always sings then-”
“And the cake, obviously.”
“Obviously,” their listener echoes. “And you never broke up? Dated someone else? Had crushes on other people?”
They both just shake their heads. Merlin spies Arthur’s abandoned hot cocoa. It has marshmallows on. Arthur, the heathen, doesn’t even like marshmallows.
“You’re not drinking that, are you?” He’s already grabbing it as he says it.
“Sure, go ahead, take everything I own, strip me down to my last shirt.”
Merlin smirks. “I intend to.”
At this point, the listener is usually defeated by their long, lingering looks and makes a run for it before they can witness some kissing. Or worse.
They probably didn’t get it, but it’s fine. After all, no one but Merlin and Arthur need to.
they’ve got him in the interrogation room every officer seems to have
the same question; was it worth it? With all that happened, with how
it turned out, the years of drunken revelry, the constant media
attention, the heists, the hubris, the way it ended in a bloodbath
the likes of which Los Santos has never seen. This is your legacy
Ramsey, was it worth it?
ask like his answer means anything, ask like they even care what he
thinks, ask like they don’t think he feels anything at all. They ask
like it wasn’t his plans that brought him here. Like it wasn’t his
plans the led to six body bags and a single pair of handcuffs, a room
full of tactless officers and a kingpin with no one left to call
crew. They ask like can’t help themselves from asking.
it worth it?
never a serious discussion, no big heart to heart, but there’s no
escaping the fact that the Fake’s all know they are dying in slow
motion. More or less signed their own death certificate’s years ago,
living on stolen time, and sooner or later they’ll find themselves in
took Los Santos by storm and defended it with their lives. With each
others lives. Have sacrificed themselves and the ones they love to a
city that takes no prisoners. They fought hard for their crown, and
kept on fighting every single day to succeed, to profit, to reaffirm
themselves as the city’s biggest bads. They knew that they would only be unstoppable until they aren’t. Until the day they fall, and
eventually they must fall.
after all the years of action, all the blood, sweat and tears they’ve
poured into this empire, everyone knows there is no such thing as
retirement for the Fake AH Crew; for all they’ve already trained
their own successors the frontrunners of the reigning crew in Los
Santos will never be allowed to simply step down and move aside when
their time is over. Between old enemies and constant rivals, members
of law enforcement and anyone simply looking to boost their own
reputation, there are countless numbers who would hunt them to the
ends of the earth. Everyone knows, one way or another, the FAHC is
going out bloody.
by god, did they go out bloody.
Fake’s die halfway through the afternoon on a Tuesday. What a fucking
inconsequential day right? They were owed a Friday at the very least,
were meant to go out past midnight, meant to go out in a blaze of
glory. They were meant to go out all together. They weren’t meant to
go out at all.
wheels fell off weeks before, a series of questionable jobs and
public fights, a level of disorder totally out of line with the
crew’s trademark cohesion. Rumour has it they were rife with
in-fighting. Rumour has it after all this time the cracks were
finally showing. Its easy, afterwards, to read into the events that
came before, to manufacture clues, to swear the writing was on the
wall for anyone to see. In reality no one saw it coming. In reality
the whole damn city was taken by surprise.
they bit off more than they could chew, maybe they were distracted,
out of sync, or maybe it was just the inevitable finally catching up
with them but in the end the Fake’s wind up in a firefight they
aren’t winning. After endless years of near misses and close calls,
of lucky runs and brilliant timing, after thousands of impossible
victories, the FAHC finally lost.
lose like this, picked off one by one, powerless to save themselves,
to save each other, must have been their worst nightmare. With every
body on the ground those left only grew more furious, more reckless,
lose whatever feeble grasp on self-preservation they ever had,
throwing away any possibility of retreat in favour of retribution. It
the end the only one left breathing on either side is Ramsey. The
scene finally gone still, silent, the echoes of screams and gunfire
fading away into a shivery stunned kind of shock. They say Ramsey’d
fallen to his knees amongst the grime, iconic suit near
indistinguishable under all the dirt and ash, the blood of men and
women who thought they’d live forever. He kneels there in silence
while sirens grow ever louder, makes no move to flee, doesn’t even
look up from bodies as cars scream to a stop around him.
messed up thing, the really fucked up part? They say Ramsey was
laughing by the time the police got there. Say he stood and brushed
himself off, surrounded by the bodies of those he claimed family,
drenched sickly red while his empire lay in ruins, and laughed. And
god doesn’t that confirm what everyone’s always thought, doesn’t that
just prove he always was a monster. Never cared for anyone, for
anything, not really. People used to say the one thing Geoff loved
was his crew but it seems Ramsey’s cold-blooded ruthlessness won out
in the end.
the fallout of a travesty, of a victory, of an unexpected bloodbath,
in a stark grey room faced with a distressingly apathetic villain, in
circumstances none could have predicted, all the detectives seem
capable of asking is if it was worth it in the end. They ask and ask
and Ramsey’s answer never changes, his cold smirk never fades, so
calm and unconcerned they catch him glancing at the clock, as though
he’s bored. As though even now he’s got somewhere better to be. And
still, full of horrified disbelief, they have to ask.
it worth it? Yes. Was it worth it? Always. Knowing what you know now, knowing how it ends, how they all go down
for you, would you do it all again? Every
damn time. Surely you have regrets, you had to know one day it would end like
baby, who says it’s over?
comes together as a joke more than anything, the cumulation of too
many late nights followed by too many bad movies. Their last job was
tense, a heist with months of preparations and so much on the line,
and while they’ve certainly celebrated their victory like royalty
they didn’t come away unscathed. The injuries, numerous though mostly
minor, serve to once again remind them all how lucky they’ve been so
far. How most don’t make it nearly this many years without tragedy,
couldn’t be in the game this long, let alone running the game
this long without signing up for devastation.
How losing a member, to outright death or crippling injury, is
without a doubt only a matter of time at this point. How such a loss
will be so much worse in this ridiculously close-knit crew than any
they’d experienced before.
thoughts, combined with the difficulties of winding down after
endless weeks of stress eventually leads to the discussion they
never have, the question of what else they could be doing with their
lives, what choices brought them here, what they would do if they
could just step out, sign off, retire. It’s not that they’re bored of
this life they’ve built – how could they be when the world is their
oyster – but there’s no denying the fact that after all this time
terrorising Los Santos doesn’t quite thrill them like it used to.
you’d asked any of them ten, five, hell even two years ago they’d
have scoffed at the idea of ever retiring, would have sworn up and
down that they wanted to go down in flames, to end with a
bang, and at the time they meant it. At the time it was true. It
still is, in a way, they’ll probably always see something dreadfully
appealing in going out on top, but with every passing year it’s
harder and harder to look at a room full of people they love and
consider playing a role in their deaths. Every time they get hurt it
takes a little longer to heal, the old aches and pains are becoming
more prominent, and their ever growing patchwork of scars have
started looking less badge of honour than they do morbid countdown.
Obviously they’ve still got it, still in their prime enough to keep
their crown, but between age and gratuitous injury, time is creeping
up on them all.
Fake’s used to joke about the end, said whoever lasted longest won,
got to make off with the fortunes, live like a king, but that reality
isn’t quite so funny anymore. The idea of surviving, of being left
behind with nothing but cold hard cash and heyday memories is enough
to make them physically ill. So maybe retiring doesn’t seem quite so
a passing comment way too late at night, after far too much mixing of
alcohol and pain meds, in the spirit of some dumb con movie they’d
all been heckling, was enough to plant an idea. A ridiculous,
unrealistic, completely unattainable idea, but still an idea
nonetheless. They’re all a bit hung up on it, still joking, still
assuring one another that they aren’t serious, but still bringing it
up all the same, running through all the possibilities.
would take far more than simply disappearing; they have too much
wealth and notoriety, have far too many enemies, the world is simply
too easy a place to comb through these days. People, at least the
vast majority of people, would have to be convinced not to come
looking. Convinced there was nothing to look for, nothing to track,
would have to think the absent members of the Fake AH Crew were in
the one place no one could ever reach them.
are ways, of course, to feign death. For those with the right
contacts, with endless money and enough resources, there are ways to
trick the body into something close enough to pass, at least for a
time. But even then it’s not so simple; there must be witnesses,
there must be evidence, crook and cop alike must be sure. Of course
with a public death comes increased risk- it wouldn’t do to go so far
in their act that appearances became reality, to go to such lengths
to imitate death only to wind up that way regardless. Somehow,
someone’s going to have to play guardian, prevent anyone’s corpse
from catching a stray bullet to the brain, or jerking back to life
too late with guts already laid out on an autopsy table. Someone has
to be ready to whisk them all away, and who do any of them trust more
than the man they’ve been following all these years. The boss they’d
die for. The boss they will die for.
don’t talk about it, because no one wants to admit it might be
happening, no one wants to burst the bubble, to invite reality to
rush in and crush the unbelievable thought that the Fake’s might get
a happy ending, but at some point they stop laughing. At some point
they each quietly start getting all their ducks in a row, using their
free time to organise their affairs.
one questions the way Geoff and Jack have started having day-long
meetings with the support crew in-between jobs, the way Lindsay’s
spending far more of her time recruiting than ever before, the way
Gavin’s taking calls at all hours of the day, rarely in english,
clearly haggling over something. They don’t wonder why all their
money is getting moved around, why Ryan and Michael are busy
collecting all outstanding debts while Jeremy and Ray are plotting
the layout of the police station, the morgue.
all happening on the down low, all behind business as usual, but
eventually, after nearly a year of quiet organisation, they are just
about ready to disappear. All that’s left is the bang, the flashy
smoke and mirrors, the hook to stop anyone coming after them, anyone
even thinking to track them down. One final step, one last decision
to make, a choice they must commit to as one or not at all. All
they’ve got left to do is die.
the years the Fake AH Crew has grown exponentially but the original
elements have never drifted apart, never gone looking for something
else or turned on one another. The crew has flourished, become a full
blown empire, but nothing can touch the unity of the innermost
members, as strong now as it have ever been. For all their loyal
familiarity was mocked back in the day, for all their closeness was
seen as a weakness, after all these years it seems only death itself
will seperate them now. If they had the chance to evade their own
mortality one last time, to get out, to be free, would they make the
Fake’s die halfway through the afternoon on a Tuesday. Pattillo, the
Vagabond, Mogar and the Golden Boy, Little J and Brownman, but not
the boss. Well not on paper anyway – any who knew them must know
Ramsey’d never recover from the loss. Any who didn’t just know the
LSPD took seven bodies away that day and none of them ever came back.
It’s not a stretch to assume Ramsey’s survival was a rumour. To
believe it wishful thinking, to say he died at the scene or died at
the station, delayed injury or the cops cleaning up the last loose
thread of the group who’d made their lives living hell for years.
paperwork out there, somewhere, claiming a different story. A report
that barely makes a lick of sense, the sworn record that a kingpin
arrived in chains and left with corpses, slipped out of his cell like
he was never there, without a hint as to how he got free. He
disappeared like smoke, not a trace left behind, and none of the
seven alive or dead ever resurfaced. The story is embarrassing,
inexplicable, and it reflects badly enough on the LSPD that it is
if it hadn’t been there are few who would believe it. Few who could
believe for even a moment that Ramsey could walk free and not be with
the last of his crew, that he would let another run his empire, run
his city, if he was in any way capable of preventing it. No, however
it went down Ramsey did not survive. It’s fitting, really. No one can
live forever and the OG Fake’s were certainty pushing their luck, had
been pushing it for years; a crew that close should go out together.
Fall of the Fake AH Crew isn’t much of a fall, in the end. The
seemingly inevitable power vacuum one would expect following the
death of the group who’d been running the city for endless years
never comes. It shouldn’t be possible but even after the most
devastating loss imaginable the the FAHC isn’t toppled from their
throne. They restructure almost overnight; many of the oldest,
original members of the support crew bow out, disappear on the wind
without a trace, but there are more than enough left behind to fill
their shoes. It’s almost perfect, almost unbelievable, some of
support shuffling into the spotlight while still more unknown faces
are revealed to boost their ranks. Their ability to keep their
enemies at bay during the turmoil is impressive enough, but it’s the
absence of internal conflicts that is truely boggling; there are no
betrayals or executions, no public power plays or jealous feuds,
somehow the city’s most scrutinised gang managed to completely
restructure after the loss of not just their leader but all their key
members without a single hitch. Almost like they were ready, like it
the Fake’s had the chance to stay together, to start over somewhere
else, stop waiting for the day one of them inevitably doesn’t make it
home, but in return they had to step away from the action, give up
everything they’d built, hand if off to legacy and fade out into
legend, would it be worth it?
yes. For all of them, from the moment the possibility arises,
throughout every conversation, every debate and consideration, with
everything they will lose, with everything they stand to gain, every
goddamn time without fail, yes.
out there, worlds away from Los Santos, a man sits on a private
beach. He isn’t armed with anything more than a beer, there are no
weapons, he simply sits upon the sand enjoying the breeze. There’s a
woman to his right, sunbathing, a man to his left doing the same;
golden tans make their startling number of scars stand out in stark
relief but the heat of the sun does wonders for stubborn pains. At
the shoreline old friends are knocking shoulders, bumping each other
nearer and nearer to the water, not quite rough-housing like little
boys but they’re getting close, voices rising on the wind.
single house behind them is huge and noisy, full of music and
chatter, full of monsters and overgrown children, the most loyal
humans the man has ever had the honour of knowing. In a brief moment
of silence sound from the television drifts down to the beach, an
American news anchor reporting the latest infraction of some criminal
organisation in a far away city; the house cheers and kicks back into
a merry roar. Down by the water there is a betrayal, a splash and
screeching protest as one winds up in the waves against his will. Safe on the sand, without a trouble in the world, the