Chapter 1: Bad Plane Ride
Matt Miller stared at his computer screen in shock. He had several different anglesof Phillipe Loren's work going down in flames. Matt had warned him, even shown him the security footage of the Saints taking the penthouse, but forwarning hadn't been enough to save Loren. Not that he hadn't taken Matt's concerns seriously. He had, as far as Matt could tell, but he lost anyway.
Matt in that moment felt like the the Saint's leader was indestructable, like a force of nature. Something who's path you could predict, who's level of destruction you could estimate and plan for, but in the end, the devestation is always overwhelming.
Matt would miss working with Loren. He was always proffessional, if a bit cold. Kiki and Viola were intelligent, but they both had poison tounges that he tried to ignore or avoid. Killbane was a nightmare he tried to hide from all together. Matt shook his head and got up from his computers to deliver the news. Thankfully, working with the Twins wouldn't be much different than working with Loren.
The entire right-side of Matt's face felt like it was on fire, and would likely be purple by tomorrow, but he ignored it. Killbane was in charge now, and he didn't have time to wonder if anything was broken. The Saint's had apparently left Steelport, seeming content with taking down only Loren's empire. Killbane was demanding blood, and already had plans of disrupting Johnny Gat's funeral.
Matt was boarding the plane, was halfway throught the tube when he saw him. The Leader of the Third Street Saints. Dark green eyes met blue, and the Boss started heading straight for him.
He was too terrified to move, too scared to speak, and he felt his fragile, seemingly senseless hope slipping away. There really was no honor among thieves, and even though Matt had lost and bartered everything, even his life, the Boss was still going to take that away too.
The Boss didn't stop or slow down when he made it to the former Decker King, he only grabbed him by his arm, spun him around and marched him back out of the tube and through the airport to the parking lot. Matt watched helplessly as the plane that was supposed to take him out of the country got farther and farther away. The Boss said nothing until they were almost to the purple Neuron taking up two handicap spaces, and his phone went off.
Without taking his hand off of Matt's arm, he pulled a battered purple phone out of his hoodie, pressing it against his ear.
"Yeah?" He grunted.
Matt couldn't make out any words, but it sounded like a very angry woman on the other end was chewing him out on the other end. The Boss rolled his eyes and hung up, letting go of Matt's arm to wave vaguely at the car.
"Just go ahead and toss your stuff in the trunk and we'll get going."
Matt was beginning to wonder if the man was bipolar. It certiantly wouldn't have been surprising.
"Why?" He blurted without thinking. He winced at the way his voice cracked, and hoped the Boss didn't notice.
The gang leader only paused halfway through getting behind the wheel, one leg in the car, one eyebrow cocked, and stared at him. The question had been nagging him ever since the Boss had let him live, giving him the option to leave Steelport, and now Matt just didn't know what was going on anymore.
His question was answered slowly, as if he were drunk, or an idiot. "Because that''s what the trunk is for..unless you want to strap it to the roof or leave it on the curb."
"No!" Matt growled in frustration. "I mean, why are you here? You said that you were going to let me leave and now you're dragging me back and I already told Killbane I was leaving and I thought you were telling the truth and-"
The Boss got back out of the car and put his hands on Matt's shoulders, interrupting his panicked rambling. "Dude. Breathe."
He stopped, taking in huge gulps of air, and tried to slow his heart rate.
"I'm not here to kill you, I just wanted you to hang out with us for a while before you left."
Matt looked at him incredulously. "You're serious?"
The Boss shrugged. "Yeah. Besides, I let you walk, but did you really think Killbane would?"
He just stared at him, unable to come up with a convincing arguement. The Boss just rolled his eyes and stepped back.
"Just put your crap in the trunk and let's go. I want to be back at the crib before this place starts smoking."
Chapter 2: Meeting the Crew
Matt is now at Saint HQ, and no one is really happy with this.
Everyone watched in shock as the plane went up in flames just after leaving the runway, seemingly oblivious to the shock that had taken over Matt.
"That's not gonna be pinned on us, is it?" Shaundi asked, sounding an odd mix of exasperated and frantic.
The Boss just turned in his seat and just raised an eyebrow at her, as was his habit when he didn't feel like answering questions. Just then, the footage changed again, this time showing some of the Luchadores climbing out of the luggage bay before boarding the plane. The words SUICIDE BOMBING and TERRORIST ATTACK ran across the bottom of the news screen, and reporters were beginning to swarm Killbanes HQ.
Oleg's shocked face turned thoughtful, and after a few moments he spoke.
"How could this have happened? I am aware of Killbane's blatant disregard for human life, but I fail to see how sending some of his own men onto a plane after they planted explosives would help him in any way."
The Boss turned around fully, and let his arms hang over the back of the couch. "He wanted to make sure Matt would stay on the plane when it took off, so I'm guessing his ego couldn't take the hit of one of his guys willingly ditching him." His green eyes flicked to the kid still frozen in the entryway. "Killbane's balls are always going to mean more to him than anybody else, and that means until he's six feet under, it's not safe for you to leave."
That caught his attention, and his head snapped back so hard there was an audible crack.
"Wh-what? I have to stay here? As in I have to stay with-with the Saints!? I can't leave at all?" His panicked eyes bounced around at all the not-friendly faces in the room, and the Boss felt like there was a car sitting on his heart when those blue eyes landed on him in terror. It was just like that stupid virtual reality all over again, and he hated himself for scaring Matt again.
"Yeah kid, you're gonna have to. Unless you really just want a C4 sun-tan, which would look like shit on you by the way." He was hiding how he felt with jokes gain, but whatever, everyone else would just have to deal. He'd take the ass chewing later. Matt just stared at him, mouth hanging open.
Shaundi let out a very loud, very irritated sigh. "Whatever. Where do you plan on keeping him?" She asked, turning to face the Boss.
Matt sputtered indignantly, "I-I am NOT a p-pet!"
"No one asked you!" She snapped, keeping her back to him. The Boss just started looking around the penthouse, slowly and deliberately.
"Oh no, no way Boss." Pierce started shaking his head. "He's not-"
"This place is pretty roomy." The leader said casually, as if no one was against the idea.
"This is my own opinion," Oleg began, ever the tactful one,"But I do not think it wise to bring such a dangerous enemy into our own home."
The Boss turned and looked up at Oleg, eyebrow raised as if daring him to argue. "That's why he's here and not at Kinzie's. I'm not dumb enough to leave him with that much tech to mess with."
Matt was a little surprised to hear something reasonable come out of the Boss's mouth. He hadn't thought the man capable of that level of foresight, and was preening just a little on the inside because, Oleg at least, considered him dangerous. This didn't change the fact that Matt still wanted nothing more to do with the gang life, and it appeared he was going to be forced to endure it a while longer. They continued their one-sided bickering again, this time about sleep arrangements, Matt was far too tired to pay any attention. As long as nobody, be it Saint or Luchadore, tried to murder him in his sleep, he would be happy.
Pierce made some mention of food, and the Boss just shook his head, standing up to stretch. "I'm tired of fast food, so unless it's Freckle Bitches, I don't want it."
The others began to argue with each other for a few minuets, the Boss just looking thoughtful until he held his hand up. Everyone immediately stopped and turned to him, waiting.
"How does meatloaf sound?"
Pierce's face split into a huge grin. "Shit man, that sounds good to me."
"Cool," He answered clapping him on the shoulder. "Text the crew and tell them we're having meatloaf here."
It was odd, Matt thought. They were just arguing with him, and yet, the moment he held his hand up, they stopped to listen. It reminded him eerily of Loren.
"Hey, where are you going?" Shaundi yelled as the Boss brushed past the him to the elevator.
"Grocery shopping, why?" He answered boredly, not even bothering to turn around or slow down.
"I am NOT babysitting this geek." She spat.
"Well, too bad. I'm hitting up Costco." He said, waving cheerfully as he waited for the lift.
It seemed to Matt that the Saint's leader was willing to listen to what his people had to say, even if he didn't change his mind about anything. It was strangely...reassuring.
"Don't expect him to be in one piece when you get back!" Shaundi yelled after him.
Well, that certainly put a lid on his warm fuzzies. The Boss just raised his eyebrow at her.
"Are you offering to canonize him?"
"What! Hell no!" She yelled again.
"Then don't touch him." He said with finality as the doors began to close. "He stays in my room by the way!" He shouted.
They all stood there in silence, until Shaundi finally threw her hands up, and left. Pierce said something about getting himself a drink, and then took his jacket and went for the helipad, leaving Matt alone with the second most terrifying Saint he'd ever known.
Oleg must have noticed the lost look on his face, because he put his hand gently on his shoulder.
"I'm going to die here," He said faintly.
"Try not to worry so much, Mr. Miller. The Boss is many things, and that includes a man of his word. You are under his protection now, and while I do not agree with his decision to keep you here, I will respect it, as will the others."
The young teen looked up at the giant next to him and sighed resignedly.
"Come, follow me. I will show you where you will be sleeping."
Chapter 3: Settling In
Matt tries to get settled in, and the Boss throws a party that night and forces him to be social.
Sorry for the long wait. Comments, constructive criticism, and suggestions are always welcome. Nothing is ever beta read.
"I think.." Matt said carefully, trailing behind Oleg into the Master Suite, "I think I'm honestly more afraid of the others than I am of him."
The room was spacious, taking up more room than most apartments, and the floor to ceiling windows let in so much natural light that he had to pause in the doorway and give his eyes time to adjust.
"You are under his protection now," The giant answered him. "And while I cannot understand the logic behind his reasoning, I will respect his decision, as will the others."
Matt still didn't understand the why's either, but he was grateful none the less. If staying alive meant he had to put be surrounded by people who wanted to kill him, well, come to think of it, it wasn't much different than working under Killbane, was it? He was safer, at least. He tossed his blue duffel on the purple comforter and just stared out at the balcony, feeling lost. He heard heavy footsteps go past him towards the door, and he cleared his throat.
Oleg stopped and turned to look at him. "Yes?" He asked, accent heavy. "What is it?"
"Th-thank you." Matt managed to choke out. It hurt to say it and he hated practically admitting that he had to rely on them, but the truth was often painful.
"You are very welcome, Mr. Miller." He said, somewhat startled. He patted him on the shoulder and went back down stairs.
Matt bit his lip and tried to keep himself from crying. No. No he was not welcome here at all. But if he wanted to live he would have to stay.
Matt actually ended up spending a good half hour crying, panicking, and debating jumping off of the balcony. A half hour of each. Eventually, he just told himself 'fuck it' and settled on taking over the bedroom. After all, if the leader of the Third Street Saints told him to stay here, he was damned well going to make himself comfy. The first stop was the bathroom to fix his makeup and put away his toiletry. He grabbed his smaller bags from the duffel, wondering idly if and how he could replace the things that had already been loaded onto the plane. He had to do a double take when he walked inside the bathroom. There was one of the biggest, most beautiful, flat screen TV's....hanging right were the mirror should have been.
Oh HELL no. That wasn't going to stay.
Luckily, he always carried a compact, and after washing his face he was able to repair his appearance in the tiny mirror. The jacuzzi and glass shower looked nice, although it looked like the hot tub was rarely used. Either that or it was cleaned meticulously. All of the towels were either black or purple, and Matt found it funny how much his blue stood out on the counter. Which was also purple marble. What was truly hilarious, however, was the eyeliner that he found while rifling in the the cabinets. He wasn't the only one who wore makeup, apparently.
Back out in the bedroom, he found a walk-in closet hidden in a corner next to the dresser, and debated either moving the bosses clothes into one or the other, or just putting his own things in with his. There didn't seem to be any kind of organization the Boss's clothes, with shirts and pants folded, hung up, or just thrown wherever, and shoes kicked off haphazardly along with socks. Putting his own clothes in with the Boss's could certainly give him the wrong idea, but it would more than likely annoy him. Matt decided he wanted to be annoying.
After he had put everything away he decided to keep digging through the rest of the room. The eyeliner he had found could make for good blackmail, and there was bound to be things even more interesting hidden. The bookshelf was first, and there wasn't much there. Some back issues of Celebrity Crime Weekly and Highlights for kids, which was strange. He had obviously been reading them, all of the Spot the Difference games were completed, and some of the Ask Amanda articles had parts that were underlined. The Inkheart series was there also, and the hardbacks were well worn, despite the 'New $19.95' stickers on them. There were a couple of anger management books, and a book on parenting. Matt wondered if the Boss had a kid somewhere, and decided against asking him, in case he decided to shoot him for it.
There was nothing under the bed but old computer manuals and dirty socks, so he headed for the TV. The one that was actually in the bedroom where they're supposed to be. The Boss had a lot of Disney movies, namely the princess ones, along with the entire 'Revenge of the Nerds' and 'Star Wars' Trilogy's. Digging farther back, he found the entire Nyteblade DVD Series. Signed. And Both of the movies. With a squeal of delight that he would die before admitting to, he pulled them out and began preparing for a marathon.
That evening was one of the most crowded nights at Steelport HQ there had ever been. It was the first meatloaf night ever in their new territory, and the Boss was determined that Matt take part of this time honored tradition, even if he had no idea what the big deal was. Matt also showed no inclinations of leaving the bedroom, and seemed perfectly content playing his handheld and munching on popcorn leftover from his Nyteblade marathon. While the party downstairs was in full swing, he decided to head back up into his bedroom and see if he could convince Matt to come out.
Matt didn't realize that someone had come into the room until the Boss was screaming right next to him.
He jumped, shrieking and flailing, and his handheld flew over the coffee table and skidded under the entertainment center. Matt cursed, clutching his hand to his chest in a vain effort to keep his heart from breaking through his rib cage.
"Shit, sorry dude." The Boss was immediately apologetic, heading over to retrieve the now-busted game. "I didn't mean to scare you."
Matt tried to mentally reverse the heart attack he had just experienced, and accepted the cracked device that the man above him handed him. Laying on the couch like this, with the Boss standing over him, he felt small, but the worried expression on his face made Matt relax enough to be irritated, instead of intimidated. Before he could snap at him for barging into his own room an yelling, the Boss sat down on the couch next to him. He was careful not to sit on his feet, and even moved the blanket he had draped over his legs. He could feel the a blush creeping up his neck and the gesture, and cursed the universe for his pale complexion and hopeless attraction to tough, older men with tattoos.
"What is it?" He asked, desperate to distract himself.
The Boss sat a minuet in silence, rubbing his hands together thoughtfully. Stupidly, Matt's gaze was drawn to them. The ink on his fingers was dark and heavy, the LIVE or DIE? standing out on the tanned background. There were scars on his knuckles and the callouses on his palms made a rasping sound. Matt wondered how those hands would feel over his own, if they would feel as rough as they looked sliding over his skin...
"Do you want food?" He asked finally, his hands still. Matt looked up at him with a slightly glazed expression, dumbfounded.
"Food." The Boss repeated. "Do you want any?"
"Oh." Matt said, startled. "Oh, uhm, no. I think I'll pass. Thanks anyway." He looked down at his lap, fiddling with the game. There was silence again, until the Boss spoke up.
"Are you a vegetarian?" The Boss looked him straight in the eye, completely serious.
He shook his head, confused. "No, why?"
"Then come down and eat with the rest of us like a normal person." He said, standing up.
Matt's blue eyes went wide as the Boss reached for his arm. "Wait, what? What!? Hold on! No-"
The Boss kept dragging him, just like he had that morning at the airport.
"You and Kinzie both spend too much time huddled up behind a screen. You need to socialize a bit more."
"Wait!" Matt shouted, now panicking fully. "Kensington is here? You brought Kensington!?" He actually started resisting then, digging his heels in and pulling. He didn't even slow the Boss down, and yet there was likely going to be bruises in the morning, as hard as he was pulling back.
"I had to drag her kicking and screaming," The Boss answered casually, "But yeah, I brought her here too."
Matt's protests went unheard as he was pulled down the stairs, through the packed living area into an equally packed kitchen. The numerous stares didn't relax him at all, and with his Decker's jacket, he was a glowing blue target in a sea of blood thirsty purple sharks.
Chapter 4: Party Time
Matt is forced to party with the Saints, and meets few who don't want to kill him on sight. He also finds out a few things about the Boss, and the Boss tries not to screw things up.
Thank you everyone for leaving kudos and comments! If it weren't for you guys this thing would probably still be sitting in a spiral buried with my old schoolwork. I'd also like everyone to know that there's gonna be dirty jokes and flirting in this work, but no smut, for plot reasons.
The music wasn't nearly as loud as he had thought it would be,and there was a distinct lack of strippers. While the Boss had been dragging him to the kitchen, Matt had noticed that the Saints seemed to be mostly interested in food and conversation. It looked like a giant family reunion, the only thing it was missing were old ladies in wheelchairs and screaming babies.
"Here." The Boss said, shoving a plate full of food into his hands. He fumbled, but managed to balance it before it fell. He would have hated to break a five hundred dollar china plate in front of a gun waving lunatic. The Boss didn't really seem concerned about the dishes, though, and picked a few empty ones off the counter and threw them in the sink. Matt winced at the crash, and couldn't help but hear his mothers shrieking in the back of his mind. Her plates had had flowers on the edges though, and cost only half as much. These plates had about as much fancy as Killbane had common sense. Matt wasn't sure what to do with the food, since he was still full of nerves and popcorn, and tried giving it back. The Boss just waved it away, and set about filling more plates. Matt was about to ask who had done the cooking when someone in the dinning room yelled for the BOss.
"I'll be back." He said with an easy grin, wiping his hands on yet another purple towel. The chatter and music soon filled in the space he had left, leaving Matt somewhat...unnerved. People came in and out of the kitchen to get food, giving him side glares and subtle death threats as they hoarded their plates. Matt eventually started eating because he didn't know what else to do, and the meatloaf and vegetables didn't look poisonous.
"Yo." One of the Saints came to stand next to him, nudging him with an elbow. "What's the deal with you and the Boss?"
Matt looked at him suspiciously, trying to figure out his aim. After he decided the man next to him was only curious, he answered.
"I....don't know honestly. He, just kind of..kidnapped me..so I wouldn't die...I guess?" Ugh. The truth sounded even worse out loud. The man next to him just laughed, clapping him on the shoulder.
Another woman walked up to them, apparently having overheard. "Sociopath and a great cook, that's out Boss." She adjusted her top carefully, and Matt noticed that she was wearing machine gun ammo around her waist. It actually worked really well with her purse. His contemplation of the merging of fashion and firearms was halted when he realized what she had said.
"Wait. He made this?" He asked incredulously, pointing to his half empty plate with a fork. The food was good. REALLY good.
"Yeah," The guy next to him nodded. "The Boss cooks a lot actually, so there's almost always somethin' to eat."
Matt's blue eyes flitted between them, wondering if the food really was poisoned. With the way his luck had been going lately, he probably hadn't even made it out of the NEMO chair, and was just a drooling, hallucinating vegetable.
The girl sidled in next to him, lowering her lashes and giving him a slow, predatory grin. Matt tried scooting back without making it look obvious.
"So what's going on with you an' the Boss?"
He felt his face heat, and an image of dark, scarred hands sliding over pale limbs came to mind before he could stop it. He shook his head vehemently, shoving the image down and denying whatever it was that she was insinuating.
Both of the Saints just laughed, and the guy on his left clapped him on the shoulder like they were old friends. There was a loud crash from the living room, and Matt heard Kensington screaming somerhing about a conspiracy. She was quickly drowned out by a booming laughter that had the rest of the penthouse laughing too.
The girl slid her arm around his shoulders and leaned into him. "Tell me something sweetheart, does he snore in bed? Because he seems the kind who would."
Matt furrowed his brow in confusion, shaking his head. "I ah, I'm not sure who your talking about."
She rolled her eyes. "The Boss, dummy. Does he snore?"
Understand dawned on him, and he quickly stepped back, flailing his arms to ward off....images.....
"I wouldn't know-I mean-we're not-HE'S not-"
"What?" The guy next to him asked, "Gay? The Boss only swings one way, and it's in a circle."
His breath caught in his throat, and he gaped, blinking. Before he could process this new information, the man himself appeared in the entryway.
"What's a circle?"
The Boss tried to get back to the kitchen as fast as he could without making it look like he was trying to hurry back, and he kind of doubted it worked. Stealth had never been something he was good at, and what else had Pierce called that other thing..? Sudelty. That was the other thing he wasn't good at. He didn't really care much.
His friends could give him as much hell as he wanted, as long as he could keep that scared and lost look off of Matt's face.
When he saw Shaquia and Leo joking with him, he almost collapsed with relief. Matt was still wide eyed, but he was waving his arms around, instead of standing frozen stiff. He had been eating too, going by the empty plate.
Matt turned to him, and the blush on his cheeks spread up to his ears. The Boss nearly bit his younger off, trying to keep himself from just dragging the kid back to his room and kissing his face all over. He didn't do it, and felt proud of himself. Marcy had been working with him on impulse control, and things were getting easier. He tried to distract himself by butting into whatever it was they were talking about.
Shaquia laughed, digging in her purse for her keys. "Your sexuality, that's what."
He just stared at her in confusion.
"My what is a what?"
That was a big word that he didn't know, and it had the word 'sex' in it, so he probably needed to talk Marcy about it. It sounded important.
Leo rolled his eyes, handing his girlfriend the keys she had left in the bathroom. "You're gay, Boss."
Ooh. He still didn't get what liking guys had to do with shapes, but he decided to ignore the serious stuff for now and make jokes.
He gasped, grabbing his chest and stumbled back a few steps. "I'm GAY?! How come no one told me?! I had no idea!"
Matt looked like he wanted to be anywhere but here, and the Boss felt his heart twist all over again. Guilt was something he knew about already, and every time he saw that look on his face, he wanted to rip someone's guts out and hang them with them. It was worse when it was his own fault.
The Boss forced a grin, and stepped into the kitchen, leaning on the counter and sliding just a little closer to Matt. Leo shook his head, blonde locks getting loose from the beanie. "You suck at acting."
The Boss's grin turned wolfish, and he hummed in agreement. "I suck at a lot of things."
Matt really, REALLY shouldn't have looked up from his plate, but he did, and it was just in time to see the Boss staring directly at him, his forest eyes heated. His tongue snaked out to flick at his lip ring, and if that didn't make Matt go light headed, the clack of a tongue piercing certainly did.
Leo and Shaquia decided then and there to head out for a patrol, not wanting to get between the Boss and his new boy, the blonde calling something over his shoulder about young love and protection.
Matt hid his burning face in his hands, trying desperately to will away the raging hard on in his pants. The Boss laughed next to him, desperately hoping that Matt wouldn't take anything seriously. After all, the Boss was nothing if not a massive disappointment to everyone.
Chapter 5: Do We Need Milk?
Just some day to day living with the Saints, and some Matt Boss bonding time.
I apologize for taking forever to update, and I thank all of you who come and check in to see if I've updated. Your patience means a lot.
Things fell into an easy enough rhythm after after the party. Matt spent most of his free time (which was most of the day) in the bedroom watching movies or reading while the Saints kept busy causing mayhem and millions in property damage while going after Killbane. The Boss left Matt alone for the most part, except when it was time to eat or if he had a question that Kensington either couldn't answer or wouldn't answer in a way he could understand. They were mostly tech related, other times they were direct, out-of-the-blue questions that left him wondering just what the bloody hell that went on in that gorgeous maniac's brain, and then deciding he was better off not knowing.
Matt's phone went off next to him on the couch, and he almost lost it in his blanket nest in the scramble to pause the Nyteblade movie.
"Hello?" He could here gunfire in the background, and what sounded like helicopters.
"Hey," The Boss answered cheerfully. "I'm heading to the store on my way home, did you need anything?"
Matt sat in muted shock for a half-minute before he could form words. "Are you...calling me....about a milk run....in the middle of a GUN FIGHT!?"
"Uh, yeah..? Why? Is that weird?" He asked, sounding more worried about social convention than his own health.
"Do you have a death wish!? Or are you just that much of an imbecile?" He was probably yelling, and his voice had probably cracked, and he really didn't care at the moment. The leader of the Saints had just reached a whole new level of insane.
Ethan laughed. It sounded warm and carefree, and Matt cursed himself for reacting to it. His stomach shouldn't be doing summersaults over a laugh. Never mind what shade of red his face was.
Ethan liked to tease him though, and he thought it was adorable when Matt was spazzing out about something. He had been a bit more reckless than usual around him, although doing a back flip off of the helipad had probably taken things a bit too far. Marcy told him that he needed to try other things to get Matt to like him, like getting Matt things that he liked. And talking about things. Like feelings. Trouble was, he didn't really know what Matt liked, other than the latest tech. And anything he could buy Matt, the kid would probably end up making something cooler in a week. He knew he liked blue and pink, he liked makeup, and that he liked Nyteblade. All of which were things he didn't know his ass from his elbow about. The Boss owned, maybe one stick of eyeliner and some old computer books that made about as much sense to him as freaking Romanian. Birk had tried to teach him both, and they'd ended up having to break out of the hospital and agreed never to try it again.
"I'm actually pretty fond of living most days, so I'm gonna have to go with imbecile, whatever that means. It means stupid, right?"
Matt made a kind of chocking noise on the other end, and the Boss froze in panic. "Matt? Matt, are you there?"
"I...CANNOT believe you!"
Ethan breathed a sigh of relief, vaulting over a burning truck and gunning it down an alleyway. He still wasn't sure what to do with the weird panicky feelings he always got when Matt seemed hurt or in danger, and he was still working on figuring out what feelings were, so it would probably be a while before he asked Marcy about the weird-terror-thing his chest did. "You still haven't answered my question, do you need anything? Anything you want me to pick up for you?" "I would-" Matt's voice was strained, "really, REALLY prefer you just got back in one piece."
Ethan ducked behind a dumpster, keeping his AR tucked in tight, and wondered why that mattered. Loosing an arm or getting his head blown wouldn't be a big deal. It's wasn't like anyone had ever worried about him staying alive for anything other than the Saints. Or alive in general. Not since his dad. He could do that though. He could stay alive if that's what Matt wanted, but fuck if he knew why the kid wanted that of all things.
"Uhm, yeah. Yeah, I can do the alive in one piece thing, I guess." He panted. He was going to ignore the weird lump in his throat and maybe give Marcy a call after lunch. "So, uh, anything else?"
Around him there was smoke and screaming and the smell of blood seeping into his clothes and soaking his sneakers, and all he felt was the silence on the other side of the phone. He took it away from his face and stared at it, thinking he had accidentally pressed a button. Again. It still showed that he was talking with someone, but he heard nothing, and cursed. Whoever was at the other end of the alley must have been following him, because in the two seconds it took him to pocket the stupid phone and look up, they had a gun in his face.
Matt sat frozen on the couch, listening to the chaos coming from the other side of the city through the phone. Had he really just called him during a gun fight, to say he was running errands?! Like Matt was some kind of house wife waiting for him to come home? Like they were some sort of married couple that could run and get things for each other while they were out and then come home at night and sit in front of the TV and cuddle until it got late and then go to bed and then not sleep because-no. Just. No. They weren't married, and they certainly weren't a couple. As carefree and non hetro-normative as the Boss seemed, Matt still wasn't convinced that he could be anything but straight. He may not be quite as "dude bro" as he appeared in the media, what with the cooking and the eyeliner and the laundry he caught him doing last Tuesday, but he still didn't seem to be into men. Or anyone really. He flirted with everyone, but other than the occasional high-five, back slap, or manhandling of introverted tech experts, he kept a distance. If there had been anyone the Boss would be in a relationship with, it would have been Shaundi, but he didn't seem much closer to her than anyone else. If there had been a man, it would have been Johnny Gat, in which case, there was little wonder as to who was going to reign in Steelport. Revenge was a powerful motive, and some of the greatest artistic works had been inspired by love and revenge, and their subsequent tragedies.
Matt sighed, and resolved himself to being a Rosaliene, and just prayed he would make it to the end alive.
Chapter 6: Home Late
Have a flashback!
It was already long past dark by the time Ethan got back to the crib. Ethan was proud of himself for having come back in one piece, like Matt had wanted. His head was a screaming, burning pain straight through the middle, and he wanted to shove an ice pick between his eyes to make it stop, at least for a little while. He didn't want have to pull it out when he woke up though, so he resigned himself to lay in bed for the next three days. Well, it would actually be the couch, since he'd given Matt the bed, but whatever. It was comfy either way, and knowing the kid was snoring away his penthouse and not dead in a ditch somewhere made sleeping a lot easier.
His clothes and shoes were fucked, but it wasn't the first time. Walking into the marble covered lobby of the building, he chunked the velcores into the nearest trash can and thought back on his first few months here.
He had needed Gat to show him how to work a washing machine back in that shitty apartment he first had, and it was probably the first time he'd been shown how to do something that didn't have to do with killing something or trying not to get killed. He hadn't owned more than a set of pants and a knife growing up, so having a closet and a roof was a part of the many things he didn't know how to deal with when he got to Stilwater. Shoes were another mind fuck, but Gat hadn't said much when he showed him how to do that too.
"Guess you've had it pretty rough, huh kid?"
They were sitting on the floor of one of the crappiest apartments in the city, and Gat was showing him how to tie a knot. There was mold covering the walls, hanging in the air, roaches were skittering across a counter barely big enough to put a plate on. Half of the fridge didn't work, and the carpet had rotted through in places to show concrete.
The kid just nodded, not looking at him. He didn't really look at anyone. He'd turn his head if you talked to him, but he never looked anyone in the eye. He flinched if anyone spoke too loud, and he avoided Lin and Aisha like they were poison. He was a natural fighter, but after they'd shown him how to use a gun, he was a crappy shot. Gat figured he needed glasses, because he couldn't read anything either. Then again, if he didn't know how to tie a fuckin' shoe, he probably didn't know how to read either. It was pretty fucked up, and he didn't like that Julius wanted him on the front lines. He couldn't talk, couldn't tell anyone what was going on, his driving was a fucking nightmare, and he was probably fifteen, sixteen at the most.
He was bent over one of his ratty sneakers, fumbling with the laces.
"You're parents ever teach you how to do this?" It was a gamble, bringing up 'rents, especially in this business. Almost no one came from a happy home. The kid glanced over, but his eyes bounced off as soon as they met. The kid worked at the laces for a few moments, then shook his head. He didn't flinch or start shaking, so Gat figured he could ask a little more.
"They ever take you to school?"
The kids eyebrows scrunched up, and his mouth started moving, real slow, like he was trying to put something together. After a few minuets, he shook his head.
Gat sighed, and put the shoe he had been holding down. As soon as it hit the floor the kid froze solid. He just..stopped moving, didn't move his eyes, didn't even breathe.
"Hey, hey, easy kid. It's fine, everything's cool." Gat knew better than to touch him, and he kept his hands in his lap. He really, really wanted to find the sonsa' bitches the kid had been with before and run 'em over. It was the smallest things that scared him, and there was no telling what had happened to him growing up. If he flinched when someone put something down, it probably meant he was gonna get hit. Or worse. Man, he was gonna murder those sick fucks.
It took a minuet, but the kid relaxed again, and this time he actually turned to face Gat. He still didn't look at him, but he showed him the shoe, still, untied, and shrugged helplessly.
"Here, I'll show you again."
Steelport, Present Day
The penthouse was almost quiet when the elevator opened. The TV was on, but muted. He heard Pierces' snoring from the other side of the couch, and after grabbing a blanket for him, he saw one of Zemos' girls had fallen asleep next to him. It was cute, the two of them cuddled up together. For all his showey, party-hard attitude, Pierce was a feelings kinda guy. Ethan would bet ten bucks they'd been talking about dreams and babies until three in the morning. He put the blanket over both of them, turned the TV off, and headed up to the bedroom.
Matt had also fallen asleep on the couch, and instead of the cooking channel Pierce had had on, he had cartoons on. Ethan sighed, and made his way over to the closet. He had a chute that led right to a furnace in the basement, and peeled the bloodied clothes off and dropped them down it. He was caked in half-dried blood, and was careful when he grabbed a clean set. Matt had put all his stuff in with his when he moved in, and he didn't want to mess any of it up. It was really the only thing he didn't like about having Matts' stuff with his.
He padded quietly past the couch to the bathroom, and made sure he closed the door to keep the noise down. He still felt exposed in the shower, even though there wasn't anyone in the tower who would come in after him, and no wild animals inside city limits. Other than Angles tiger. But they were friends now. And it was at the gym. And he was still freaking out about being vulnerable in his own territory. He turned the water on straight cold and stepped in. Warm water was bad, and he scrubbed the blood and dirt off as fast as he could. He hated water, and Shaundi and Pierce thought it was because of the boat that had blown up, but he'd hated it long before then.
He finished, stepped out, and used the shower head to wash all the blood out.
Leave no trace, don't let them track you, never let them find you.
Always in his dads' voice, sounding just as soft and worn out as the pants they'd been wearing.
He cleaned up everything, and left the bathroom. Matt had rolled over, and his head was now hanging off the edge. Ethan went over, and gently picked him up, blankets and all. He grumbled something, but turned and pressed his face against Ethans' chest. He slowly walked over to the bed, and carefully put him down. Matt didn't seem to want to let go, but Ethan peeled his arms off of his neck and pulled the blanket over him. He took the blanket and rolled to the other side with it, wrapping himself up in the process. Ethan watched him for a few moments, wondering how he could feel that comfortable tangled like that, and then shook his head. He still felt like shoving and ice pick through his forehead, and waited for the bullet in his head to be pushed out before laying down on the couch.
Chapter 7: Home Remedies
Matt and Pierce are there to help the Boss recover, and Matt learns a little more about his crush. Meanwhile, Ethan just tries to keep conscious.
Thank you to everyone who has commented on this fic, your encouragement really keeps me going, not just with this writting but some personal writting as well. There'll be more focusing on Ethan and Matt's phobias in the next chapter.
There was a heaviness surrounding him, and a searing pain in his eyes. Matt rolled, trying to get away from it, and groaned when the the blankets wouldn't move. He always managed to tangle himself up in his sleep, and it made getting out of bed a far more strenuous endeavor than it should have been. The automatic curtains had rolled themselves up already, meaning that it was sometime past ten. He debated staying in bed and sleeping more, since there wasn't really anything else worth doing in the high rise that had become his prison, or going to the bathroom. His bladder soon won out, and rather than take the time to untangle himself, Matt decided to just drag the bedding with him.
The Boss- Ethan- he had to keep reminding himself, was passed out face first on the couch. Thank God he didn't snore. He never took the bed, and even on nights when Matt purposefully made it a point to fall asleep on the couch - like last night- he always woke up in the bed with every blanket in the room piled on top of him. Not that he minded the blankets, or being carried to bed, if he was honest, but it bothered him that a man who could so readily commit mass murder would be so willing to give up his own space for someone who had tried to kill him. Repeatedly. Matt had assumed that living with the Saints would be like claiming guest rights in a house of giants. They wouldn't outright murder him, but they would certainly try and "accidentally" kill him. So far, nothing in this place had met his expectations, other than the Bo- Ethan, coming in at odd hours covered in blood and finding bullets in the bathroom trash can. The Saints had paid off almost the entire Steelport PD, so he wasn't sure why they never went to the hospital, but he supposed as long as they kept the mess to a minimum and he could keep his blood phobia a secret, he wasn't going to ask any questions.
Matt caught sight of his reflection in the bathroom mirror, and wondered how the hell his life had come to this. He was sixteen, in another country, technically an illegal immigrant, had been the leader in an organized crime syndicate, almost died, and was now living like a kept pet with a man easily twice his age who he couldn't deny he was really, really, really, interested in. It was like one of those bad soap operas his grandmother used to watch. He wasn't sure if he should be relieved or upset that Ethan seemed completely oblivious to how he felt. On the one hand, he was twice his age and they had been trying to kill each other for about a year, on the other, Ethan had saved his life for no real reason other than some vaguish code of honor. They had been living together for a few months now, and he seemed to be trying really hard to make Matt comfortable. The man caught things about as well as a brick wall when it came to social ques, but he did try to notice things.
A groan from the bedroom brought his out of his revere, and he dragged himself and his mobile nest out to check on Ethan. He hadn't moved much from his initial position, other than wrapping his arms around his head. He was still groaning, which was by itself worrysome. He was dead silent when he was in pain. Matt had heard Shaundi pulling a bullet out of him, and if it weren't for her cursing about it on the other side of the door, he wouldn't have known what was happening in the bathroom. He hadn't known it was HIM in there either, until he'd heard a clink, and Ethan thanking her for helping him. It took everything Matt had not to panic, and he swallowed, hoping he wouldn't throw up.
"Are you alright?" He held absolutely still, his fingers wound tight around the blanket.
"Hurts.." It came out muffled and somewhat slurred, but deciferable.
Matt stood a moment, thinking. He never took headache medicine, or anything over the counter. He'd seen him put an ice pack on what he'd assumed was a broken shin, but the nasty bruising had gone away in under a week, so he had probably been mistaken. The fact that he was making any pained noises at all didn't lead him to think this was in the realm of ice packs though. He still didn't know what to do.
"Do you want me to see if anyone is downstairs? Peirce and Shaundi were here last night.."
"Y..yeah..." Ethan took an arm off of his head long enough to give him a loose wave, "Tell 'em, m' head hurts."
Matt nodded, and headed for the door. He stopped, threw the blankets back towards the bed, and then tore out down the stairs.
Pierce was lounging against the sink with a woman who looked somewhat familiar. She was wearing Peirces' sweater, so he assumed she was his girlfriend. They both jumped when he ran into the kitchen, catching himself on the doorframe. He had never been so glad to have outgrown his asthma.
"The Boss had a headhache." He blurted.
Pierce just stared at him. "O..kaaaay. Where's the fire at though?"
"No no, he told me to tell you that his head hurts."
"What? Why- oh. That's not good." Pierce immediatly turned serious. He turned to his girlfriend and they talked for a bit before he opened the freezer.
"Here, put this on him. It'll help a little til I get stuff ready." He shoved something cold into his hands.
"I don't see how an ice pack will help." Matt was getting sick of seeing them all the time.
Pierce just shrugged. "It'll make him feel better, and he likes cold stuff. Boss's got some crazy home remedies for everything, but Imma hafta cook this one up first."
He was immediatly even more worried. "What..kind of...home remedies..?"
"The weird kind," was his only answer. "But they work, that's all that matters. It healed up that broken he had a while ago, so.."
"Wait. His leg really was broken!?"
PIerce just stared at him, like he was crazy. "The Boss usually comes home with all kinds of broken bones and bullet holes. He just heals up faster than anyone."