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the leader is down

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james hummed to himself as he and steven cleaned the inside of their car, now titled the cib mobile 2.0. the last cib mobile had gotten blown up in a fight with michael jarvis, but that’s a story for another day.

steven sighed and sat down on one of the back seats. “why can’t cib do this? he’s the one who brought all the blood in here in the first place.”

“you really think cib would do it? he’d say the job is done and then pay jeremy in ammo and tell him to do it.”

“why don’t we do that?”

“cause cib’ll know. he’s just that way.”

steve groaned and got up, almost bumping his head on the roof. james climbed into the back and stood, not as ducked as steve, and began wiping down the interior windows with steve at his back. just like in missions.
a few hours later, cib opened the door to the truck and saw steven sleeping with his head leaning against the window and james sprawled out across the seats. he snapped a picture and made a mental note to save it to one of the computers.

cib grabbed the still wet, kinda bloody towel and slapped both james and steven with it.

“wha-“ a groggy james floundered for his glasses that were on his head.

“what the fuck dudee.” steven groaned and rubbed his eyes.

“jamie’s got some shit for you guys. team meeting in five.” he held up four fingers before slamming the car door and running off to who knows where.

james gripped steven’s waist tightly and sighed. “i don’t wannaaa.” he felt steven run his hands through his hair. he turned and saw steven looking out the window, almost angry. “what is it steve?”

“nothing. let’s go.” james didn’t let go of steven as he opened the car door. “james we need to go. what is it now?”

“somethings up.”

“nothings up except our profits. that’s a good thing. now come on we have to get going.” steven pushed james upwards and off of him. he exhaled slowly and stepped out of the car.
the team was all in one room which was a very rare occurrence.

jamie with mimi by his side, explaining their next heist.

sami jo and cib sitting together on a chair much too small for both of them.

parker gazing outside, lost in thought as he had been since the jarvis heist.

jeremy standing behind parker with andrew, speaking quietly.

autumn had her headphones on and was typing away at one of the many laptops the crew had.

that left steven and james. they sat closely on the couch next to autumn. everyone had guessed they were together by now, but they were still wary of affection.

mimi whistled to get everyone’s attention. “okay folks this is how we’re doing it. sami jo we’ll need you for driving like always. andrew and autumn you two will need to find a way into the security system so we can get in and out without tripping anything.” she looked back at her notes before taking a deep breath and continuing. “jeremy we’ll need you to go in first and knock out any guard stations still up. cib and james you two will rush in after jeremy and find the quickest route to the vault.”

“what about me?” steve asked quietly. he needed to go. he always went.

“you and parker are going to stay here with the rest of us.”

steven groaned and laid back onto james. “mimi are you fucking kidding meee.”

“steve we have enough people going you don’t need to.”

“but you could use more. you’re separating the og boys!”

“fine whatever you can either stay here or come and stay in the car with sami jo. choose whatever you want.”

steve grumbled to himself before replying that he’d just stay at the warehouse.

“okay so that’s all settled then?” everyone nodded. “go do whatever you want i guess. pick your weapons or look at the plans for the building.”

steven followed james and cib to go look at a map of the building he wasn’t even going in.
later that night james and steven finally went to their curtained off sleeping area. they technically had two separate beds but that didn’t stop them from pushing the beds together.

steven just stared at the ceiling while james slept soundly, curled around his waist. he was pissed and sad and every emotion at once. the fact mimi couldn’t fucking include him in the plan pissed off and made him want to go even more.

steven looked at the shorter man around his waist. his breathing was even and his face looked so much more peaceful then it did when he was awake.

he wrapped his arms around him and tried to will sleep to come to him. james’ body heat seeped into him and made him groggy. he hummed blissfully and closed his eyes.
the next morning when steven woke up james was gone from his side. he rolled over and grabbed his glasses from the table next to him.

had they already left? steven sighed and got out of bed to change. he looked around the warehouse to see no one. it was deserted. had they left? all of them? he ran to the other end of where they slept and opened the curtains to cib’s place.

no one.

he checked parker and jeremy’s (and now apparently andrew with the third bed).

no one.

mimi and jamie couldn’t have left. they always stay when the crew goes on missions.

no one.

steven was near crying at this point, which was a real hard task to accomplish. he went to the weapons area and everything was in place like no one had been there in many days.

his heart was beating fast and could feel the tears falling down his face.

he felt someone, or something, shaking him. he became even more terrified as it continued.

he jolted upwards in bed. fuck. he turned and saw james kneeling next to him. he grabbed james and hugged him tightly.

“steve? what happened?”

steven shook his head and buried his head into james’ shoulder. he felt james rubbing his back and holding him right back.

steven pulled away and he felt more tears falling down his face. “thank you.” james wiped his face with the hem of his shirt.

“are you okay?”

“yeah. just nightmares. i’m fine though.” he brushed off the remaining tears and started to move away.

“if you need to talk i’m here steve. you know that right?” james grabbed firmly onto steven’s hand.

“i do.”

“good.” james hugged steven and steven just stayed limp. he needed to be held. as ridiculous that sounded coming from a grown man, he needed it. the reassurance that someone was there who wouldn’t leave.
they stayed like that for a while. holding each other.

they didn’t need to talk really. james tried a few times, but all of steven’s replies were muffled with his head being buried in james’ chest.

eventually steven told james they should both get dressed since the crew would probably be wondering why they were still in bed.

james reluctantly agreed, knowing steven still wasn’t completely okay.

but were any of them ever really okay?
the day passed quickly. everyone sat with mimi individually and walked through what they had to do. steven just sat on their couch, staring at the ceiling.

his fear was stupid, he knew that. of course he did. he was being irrational as always. this is the first mission he wasn’t going on. it was fine. they didn’t need him. they probably didn’t even need him on the team he fucking founded anyways. he could walk out right now. james was the only one who cared and he was with mimi, deep in conversation over blueprints.

steven got up. he noticed parker engrossed in a manual to their car. he sat down next to him. parker’s eyes glanced towards him for a second before reading more.

“if you’re here to bitch to me about not going on the mission can it.” parker mumbled under his breath.

“what? no. i was wondering since neither of us are going apparently- would you want to leave?”

parker turned to steven, “what do you mean?”

“i mean, we could walk out.”

“steve there’s a massive bounty on your head you can’t do that.”

“who cares.”

“all of us do steve.”

“apparently not.”

“what the hell are you talking about?”

“nothing.” steven started to get up, and parker grabbed his arm.

“steve are you okay?”

“y- no.” steven looked down at his feet as parker grabbed his shoulders. he wanted to leave. so what if someone killed him he could care less. he was useless. no one wanted him on the crew.

“snap out of it steve.”

“hm?” steven looked up at parker.

“youre not going to be like me okay. i’m fucked up. all of us are. don’t do this to yourself.”

“what the fuck are you talking about?”

“i know what you’re going through. i’ve been through it before. twice.” now it was parker’s turn to look at his feet. he let his hands drop from steven’s shoulders.

“parker- i’m sor-“

“don’t apologize! you’re the one dealing with stuff right now. i don’t want you to go out and get yourself killed. none of us do steve.”

“sure. whatever.”

“i swear to god suptic you’re thick sometimes. do you not realize how much everyone here cares about you? you saved my life off the streets. you found autumn alone on the steps of a home she had been kicked out of. hell! you saved jamie from a fucked up place with jarvis. steve you are so important to this crew.” parker pulled steven into a hug and steven hugged back almost immediately.

he wouldn’t have expected parker to be the one to change his mind. he was an ass to parker, but parker couldn’t be mean to any of his friends no matter how fucked up they were to him.

parker let go and steven just crumbled for the second time that day. he fell to his knees, glad they were away from everyone.

parker kneeled in front of him with his hand on his legs. “do you want me to go get james? i know i’m not that good of a helper.”

steven looked up through the tears, “stop bringing yourself down. please.” that caused him to cry harder. “can you get james?”

“of course steve.” parker squeezed his shoulder and ran off to find james.
what felt like hours later, steven heard a pair of footsteps very familiar to him.

“steve oh my god. steve are you okay? fuck fuck fuck-“ james lifted steven’s head up to look him in the eyes. “steve- i’m so fucking sorry i couldn’t help. jesus i’m such a shitty person.”

“no- no you aren’t i promise. i was being irrational. parker stopped me from going out and getting myself killed.”

“what? you were going to leave? if you weren’t so upset right now i’d be pissed.”

“yeah. i was.”

“fuck! steve why?”

“i- i don’t know.”

“yes you do. i don’t want you to get hurt for no reason. nor do i want you to go get killed.”

“i talked it out with parker. i don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

“what ever you think is best i’ll do.”

“can i- can i have a hug?”

“of course steve.” james scooted so his back was against the far wall they were near and steven sat between his legs, head resting on james’ shoulder.

he had come to terms with not going on the mission. maybe mimi had seen this in him the whole time. he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. james wrapped his arms around steven’s waist and held him close to him.

he didn’t understand what steven was going through, but he knew he would do whatever he could to help. he smiled at the peacefully sleeping man before carefully lifting him up. he took the route through the warehouse with the least amount of people to get steven into bed.

steven grabbed james in his sleep and pulled him closer. james smiled sleepily and wrapped his arms around steven. this might not be their happy ending, but james knew they’d have one some day.