Baby remembers a lot of things. But when he starts working for Doc, faces start to blur to him. He’s been doing this for a long time after all, and he’s met criminals that should be forgotten. If he remembers their faces, he’s sure to see them again in the news, and Baby never wants to be reminded of Doc when he’s off the job.
He remembers Darling first. It’s because she’s sugary and full of sweet compliments, and although Baby knows she doesn’t mean a word of what she says, it still makes his heart jump. When he gets coffee after the job finishes, he actually checks to make sure the barista gets her order right.
A white mocha with strawberry syrup, and it sounds disgusting, but it fits her all the same.
The next time they’re on the crew, he commits Buddy to his memory. He has a vague memory of Buddy, of Darling curled up around him as Doc goes over their plan, but he’s mostly forgotten the man’s face.
When he’s face to face with Buddy again, he wonders how he’s ever forgotten the sharp cheekbones and styled hair.
They paint a pretty picture where they sit together, with Darling’s legs thrown over Buddy’s, and when she notices him staring, she smacks her gum and smiles at him. “Like what you see?” she asks, and winks when Baby falters mid-step. Buddy chuckles, and plants a kiss on her cheek.
The job goes well again.
Buddy’s order is black coffee. Baby checks even though it’s an order people rarely mess up.
Baby makes a mix-tape of Darling’s question, and loops it with Buddy’s amused chuckle.
Three successful jobs, four months later, and Darling’s smacking her gum in front of him again. It echoes in the quiet of Doc’s hide-out, but Doc doesn’t seem too bothered; he’s standing still in front of the blackboard, the next job’s plan written on it.
Darling’s lips are plump and full, and the sounds they make time perfectly with the song he’s listening to. He starts to tap, and Buddy notices, his eyes moving away from Darling to look at him.
He freezes, and he’s normally not nervous around criminals here since Doc’s always watching, but Buddy’s eyes are intense and he’s not smiling.
“What you listening to?”
He shrugs, and Buddy pulls away from Darling to grab an earbud. Baby doesn’t move.
Then Buddy laughs, “Queen?” And then he nudges Darling. “Babe, you’re matching the beat of this song.”
Darling snorts and stops chewing, and pulls Buddy into a heated kiss, her eyes still on Baby.
Baby flushes and looks away, and thankfully, Doc decides he’s done planning right at that moment.
It’s only two months later, and they’re on Doc’s crew again.
It’s just the three of them this time. The fourth person isn’t there yet.
Darling’s hair is up in a ponytail this time. Buddy looks the same.
“Hi,” he says, and Buddy’s eyebrows shoot up.
There’s a profound silence. Baby doesn’t usually start conversations.
He fidgets, and then Darling’s smiling, interlocking her arm with his and pulling up flush against him.
“Hi, sweetie,” she says, and she pulls him down on the couch with him. She throws her legs over him, just as he had seen her do to Buddy all those days ago.
Baby’s flustered, unsure what to do or where to put his hands. He stays still as Darling makes herself comfortable and he’s finally starting to relax when Buddy walks up to them. He has a water bottle in his hand, which he hands to Darling, and then he casually settles in right next to Baby.
Darling’s legs are long enough to fit over them; Buddy’s arm is over Baby’s shoulders and he’s holding hands with Darling.
Doc walks in five minutes later. He stops in the entrance and he looks so puzzled that Baby feels sorry for him briefly. But Baby feels sorrier for himself, because he still doesn’t know what to do with his hands.
“Leave the poor boy alone,” says Doc eventually.
Darling’s been scrolling through her phone with her long nails and finally looks up at Doc’s voice, her perfect lips marred with a frown. “He’s fine,” she tells Doc. “Right, Baby?” She smiles at him, and Baby loses his breath at the sight.
“I’m fine,” he stammers out, and Doc sighs loudly.
“Must you?” he murmurs, but doesn’t seem to want an answer, leaving the three of them on the couch and heading over to his blackboard.
“I think we made Doc angry,” whispers Buddy.
“Worth it,” says Darling. When Baby turns to look at her, she winks at him.
She goes back to scrolling through Instagram, and Buddy steals an earbud from him, nodding along to the song’s beat.
Baby’s heart in his throat, but as the minutes pass, he starts to relax. It’s weirdly comfortable to be in the middle of them like this and he’s almost starting to doze off when the last person of their crew walks in.
Doc stops him before he leaves, a gloved hand on Baby’s arm when he turns to go after Doc hands him the last stack of cash.
“Be careful with the two of them,” Doc says.
“Why?” he asks. The song he’s listening to seems to beat in time with his fast heartbeats. Does Doc see the way he follows after them like a helpless puppy? Is it as embarrassing as he thinks?
“They’re…” Doc pauses, as if searching for the right words. “Dangerous.”
Baby blinks, and then actually lets out a small chuckle. Doc looks surprised, but Baby can’t really be blamed; they’re all criminals here and Baby has no illusions that Darling and Buddy are good people.
But not good.
He nods his head to show he’s heard, and then leaves Doc behind, whistling along to his song.
That night, he sits in front of his music, and makes a mix-tape of their voices telling him he’s worth it. He calls it Dangerous.
Baby doesn’t see Darling and Buddy for the next few jobs. He always holds some sort of anticipation when he opens the door, but after the third time, he’s stopped expecting anything.
He has to remind himself that they’re not friends, that this is not a job he chose, and that they probably don’t miss him at all.
He’s proven wrong, three jobs later, when Darling throws her arms around him as soon as he walks in. “Baby! I’ve missed you!” She then jumps him, forcing Baby to catch her before she falls.
Buddy looks more amused than he does murderous, so he continues to hold Darling as she regales him with their tales in Vegas.
“Hey,” says Buddy when Darling pauses to draw breath, and catches Baby’s elbow. He’s standing awfully close, close enough that Baby gets a whiff of his expensive cologne.
Buddy draws him over to the couch again, and they fall together into a heap, more closely entwined than they were before. Baby’s heart is beating a mile a minute, and he’s pressed up so close to Buddy that he’s sure the older man can hear it.
He’s smirking, Baby can see it from the corner of his eye, so he doesn’t focus on Buddy, and instead, trains all his attention on Darling.
She preens from the force of it, her hot pink lips curling up in a smile, and after she’s done speaking, she’s looking above Baby’s shoulder.
Buddy clears his throat, and Baby turns to look at him, sure his cheeks are hot to the touch. “Drinks tonight?” asks Buddy, slowly and carefully, and Baby pauses.
They’ve never asked before; in fact, not even Doc has treated him to a drink after a job well done.
He thinks back on the mix-tape he still has inside of the player, of the one he’s titled Dangerous. He looks at the way Darling’s smiling, sweet and sure, and the way Buddy’s sharper one contrasts, and inhales.
“Sure,” he says, and Darling squeals.
When they leave, Darling pulls on his hand.
He stumbles out of the elevator after them, and Doc clears his throat.
“Going somewhere?” He sounds reproachful.
Darling smacks her gum, and smiles brightly over Baby’s shoulder at Doc.
“Drinks on us,” she explains, and tugs on Baby’s arm again. She’s already walking, not waiting for a response from Doc.
They’re at the car when Baby turns around again, and Doc doesn’t look angry, but thoughtful.
The music is loud, blasting over the song in his ears.
They’re at the bar, and Buddy’s ordered him a drink that is tough to swallow. He drinks it, anyway, just to see the way Buddy looks at him in appreciation.
He’s in over his head. He knows it.
But he still accepts another drink from Darling, and when she pulls him onto the dance floor, he doesn’t resist.
Buddy’s behind him, and Darling’s in front, and the music’s so loud it feels as if it’s in his very veins.
He doesn’t know how long they dance; he’s sweaty from the lights and the people and he’s turning to get some fresh air when Darling presses up close.
“Baby,” she whispers, and Baby freezes because Buddy’s pressing up close from behind, his strong arms going up around both Darling and him. They sway for a long second, and the second feels charged because right after, Darling kisses him.
There’s no alcohol in her breath, and she kisses him until he’s gasping for breath. When she pulls away, she’s smirking, and she turns his head so Buddy can kiss him next.
They should talk about it.
But Baby doesn’t want to talk. He wants to kiss the only two people he’s remembered in so long.
The past year he’s only thought about them, and he wants them to know it.
So he kisses even though he doesn’t really know how, and when they both lead him off the dance floor and into the car, he doesn’t say no.
He says yes.
“Do you need these?” asks Buddy. He’s already taken one earbud off Baby and is fingering the cord that leads to the other one.
Baby’s breath hitches at the thought of losing music, and Buddy catches on. He takes his hand off, and hums. “Do you need earbuds?” he wonders. “Or will music out loud be okay?”
“Out loud is fine,” says Baby, and Darling presses play on her phone, blasting music from the speakers in the room.
“Brought them just for this,” explains Buddy, and the thought that they had planned this sends a delicious hum through his body.
And because he can, Baby pulls Buddy into another kiss.
They somehow end up on the bed, and Darling joins them, depositing herself on Buddy’s lap and then claiming Baby’s lips for her own.
“You can just watch if you want,” says Darling. She’s just pulled away from Buddy, a strand of saliva connecting the two of them. The horror must show in his face, because Darling laughs and she pats him affectionally on the cheek.
“How do you want us?” asks Darling, and Buddy interrupts her.
“Look at him,” he says, and there’s enough want underneath his breath that it makes Baby’s toes curl, “He wants us to please him. Wants to submit, doesn’t he?”
His mouth is dry, and he can’t attempt any words. Buddy gets closer, and finally, Baby nods.
“Alright,” says Buddy, low and seductive, and kisses him.
When Baby heads home the morning after, he’s sure that he won’t see them for a while. That’s how it works, after all, and Doc didn’t seem very happy with the two.
He has his headphones blasting music when he walks into the hide-out a week later so he’s surprised when he sees them.
Darling waggles her fingers at him, Buddy’s arm on her shoulders. There’s no other word to describe her smirk but sensual.
He’s sure he’s bright red, and he has to avert his eyes. He doesn’t miss the look Doc gives him.
“Hi,” he blurts out, and then bites his lips because Buddy looks amused.
“Who’s this?” interrupts another voice, and there’s suddenly a very angry man in front of him. “Why you inviting grade schoolers to our crew, Doc?”
“What did you say?” asks Buddy, his voice low and dangerous, but Doc talks over him.
“He’s not a grade schooler, Bats,” he snaps. “He’s been driving for me for years now.”
The man bares his teeth at Buddy, but wisely keeps quiet as Doc presses on to explaining the parameters of their job.
Baby increases the music on his Ipod and doesn’t look at any of them. When Doc finishes, Baby is the first one out the door.
He’s tapping the wheel in agitation. Bats is sitting next to him, Darling and Buddy in the back talking in low, flirtatious tones that he can’t hear over his music.
“Why can’t you play some shit out loud?” snaps Bats.
Baby ignores him.
In the rearview mirror, he sees the way Buddy’s face tenses.
“Why can’t you keep your mouth shut?” Buddy kicks the back of Bats’ chair and Bats turns, snarling.
They’re arguing now, shouting at each other. Baby meets Darling’s eyes, and she looks amused, even as she places a hand on Buddy’s collarbone to pretend she’s trying to placate him. It’s easy to see that the both of them don’t like Bats.
Baby doesn’t like him either. But he keeps his opinion to himself.
His heart’s pounding as he waits for the three of them to come back out of the bank. He’s never been this nervous before, and he wonders if it’s because he cares about Darling and Buddy now. Before them, he never really cared if the job was successful or not. If the criminals got caught, it didn’t matter to him.
But he doesn’t want to see the two of them behind bars.
When they come running out, a security guard meets them. Bats doesn’t show any hesitation at all, and shoots the man in the face.
There’s ringing in his ears as he looks at the prostrate man. Blood is pooling underneath his head. Darling steps over him, and then the three of them are flinging the doors open and sliding in.
“What’s wrong with you?” snarls Bats. “Drive!” He punctuates his word with his gun, waving it dangerously close to Baby’s face.
“Bats,” starts Buddy, his voice dangerously low, and that’s enough to get Baby to wake up.
He can’t freak out now, not with Darling and Buddy in the seats behind him. He revs the engine, and then puts everything behind him, his mind already figuring out the best way to drive.
Ten minutes later, and they’re pulling up into a garage to switch into nondescript cars.
“No,” says Buddy, and the air is tense, but Bats eventually throws up his arms and leaves.
Buddy slides into the backseat of his car and Darling gets in shotgun. “We weren’t going to leave you alone with him.”
Darling sounds venomous.
A warm feeling spreads in his stomach as he stares at her earnest face, and he has to look away. He pulls out of the garage, and Darling places her hand on his thigh.
Buddy whistles from behind them, and he’s smirking when Baby risks a glance back at him.
“You’re coming with us,” says Buddy. They’re in the elevator.
Baby can’t look at Doc, not when Buddy looks so confident in front of him. He nods, and Darling hugs him from behind and rests her chin on his shoulder.
“Come see me tomorrow,” says Doc, and lets him leave with them.
That night, they sleep together again. Baby’s in-between the two of them after, and he can’t fall asleep, spooned and cuddled as he is. His mind won’t stop going over what had happened earlier, and he’s sure he’s probably getting in over his head.
He’s falling in love with them.
His fingers twitch as he realizes this. He wishes that he had his equipment with him, so he could make a mixtape of this realization, but realizes the song he’s listening to is more than okay.
So he turns up the music in his earbuds a little louder, and finally falls asleep.
“We’re coming with you,” says Darling. They’re in the backseat of his car again.
“Why?” he asks, and Buddy shrugs.
“We have a few things to discuss with Doc.”
They make it there in record time, even though Baby’s driving less recklessly than usual. He still knows the shortcuts after all.
Doc gives them a look when they walk in, and then takes Baby to the side to hand him the share of the payout from yesterday.
He still looks thoughtful when Darling and Buddy approach him and it’s obvious the three of them are talking about him.
Baby turns the music louder, and tries his best to not overhear.
His song’s ending when Doc stops talking in a whisper. “This is just this once, you hear me? I’ve never run a crew with less than four.”
“You won’t need four when you have us,” says Darling.
When they walk back to him, Baby’s not sure if he should pretend if he heard or not.
Buddy reaches him first, and he bends down. Baby blinks and then Buddy’s drawing him into a long kiss.
There’s a groan from behind them. “Don’t you two have a home?” snaps Doc. “Go home and stop bothering me. I’ll contact the three of you shortly.”
Buddy pulls away, and winks at Baby before helping him up. “Alright, Doc,” he says. “I’m going to bring our boy home then.”
Doc makes a face, but Baby thinks that maybe they love him, too.
The next time Doc calls them, he keeps to his word.
It’s just the three of them.
Buddy and Darling are still in the backseat, but when they come running out of the bank, Buddy gets into the seat next to him.
They know each other. When Baby stops the car, they’re already running out and securing another car.
When they get back to Doc’s, he’s waiting.
“Good job,” he says, and this time, when Baby gets his share of the payout, it’s decidedly larger.
“They paid off your debt,” explains Doc. “We’re friends, Baby,” he says, “Which is why I’m comfortable enough to ask if you know what you’re doing.”
Baby looks at Buddy and Darling over Doc’s shoulder, where they’re waiting near the car of the week. It’s sleek and beautiful and red, and a Corvette. They got it for him.
“Yeah,” he says, “I guess I do.”
The next mixtape he makes has his voice on it.
It’s weird, how he started out enamored with them. With how Darling chewed her gum and how Buddy styled his hair. How the two of them were criminals, but yet still so fascinating in so many ways.
He knows this means he’s thrown in his lot with them. His debt’s paid, but he still goes back to Doc every time he calls.
But it’s different because he’s not alone anymore.
“Ready to go, Miles?” asks Monica.
Jason is carrying both of their bags. He turns when Miles doesn’t say anything, and smiles when Miles meets his eyes.
“Yeah,” Miles says, and follows them out.