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Pack Dynamics

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There’s a clear hierarchy when it comes to the crew.

Geoff is the boss, except when he isn’t.

Jack is the boss, except when he isn’t.

Ryan is the boss -

“I’m in charge,” Ryan says, like some poor schmuck in one of Geoff’s shitty movies who’s just learned they have three months to live as he reads the note Geoff left for him again. “Jesus Christ, I’m in charge.

- when Geoff and Jack finally get their shit together and realize they want in each other’s pants in the romantic way and decide to go off on a “sextravaganza cruise” on Geoff’s stupid yacht.

Out of the corner of his eye Michael sees Gavin and Jeremy share a look. Barely contained glee like a couple of troublemaker kids in a different genre of shitty movies Geoff likes to torture himself with, and then they fist bump each other before running out of the room giggling.

Michael’s never really seen Ryan scared.

He’s seen him focused on the job at hand when they’re out and about wreaking havoc. Seen him determined when shit goes wrong and they’re working on flipping things around. Seen him concerned, worried, when shit really goes wrong and it’s make or break time.

Michael’s seen Ryan happy and relaxed, this little curl to his mouth as the others pull their usual bullshit and everything’s good.

Scared?

Not so much, but now -

Yeah, the fucker’s scared.

For good reason, because with Geoff and Jack out of the picture for the moment, Gavin and Jeremy are going to get the rest of them killed in some horrible way.

Dust off all their shitty little plans they’ve got saved up for days like this. (Jeremy likes to act like he thinks Gavin’s a menace like he’s not as bad. Put the two of them together on anything and you’re bound to regret it sooner rather than later.)

And since Ryan is officially in charge?

He gets to be the one to explain everything to Geoff and Jack when they get back.

“Hey,” Michael says, and claps a hand on Ryan’s shoulder, puts some cheer into his voice because the poor guy looks like he’s going to cry. “Congrats on the promotion.”

========

So the thing about Gavin and Jeremy being the worst?

Absolutely one hundred percent true.

“Oh my God,” Ryan says. “Oh my God.”

The Rimmy Turtle is chugging along a jogging path down by Del Perro Pier with cops in hot pursuit and at least one police chopper overhead.

Gavin’s got his firework launcher going - and even though the news chopper is too far away to pick it up – Jeremy’s got to be cackling his stupid head off.

The camera cuts to people running from the chaos, a few overturned cop cars that are merrily burning away, and they’ve only been gone for half an hour. Forty-five minutes at most.

Any other time and Ryan would be down there too, probably riding that hardcore bike of his with the skulls because he’s got some weird fixation.

Now, though, he’s like some poor dad in a shitty movie dealing with his adorably rambunctious kids and failing spectacularly.

“Yeah,” Michael says, fishing his keys out of the little bowl by the front door. “We should probably make sure they don’t die or something.”

It’s a rule of theirs, the Fake AH Crew, Michael’s pretty sure.

“Should we though?” Ryan asks, plaintive note to it, but he’s pulling on his jacket as he does.

========

“Look,” Gavin says, the moment they’re sure the cops have given up the chase. “What did you expect us to do?”

Parents out of town and the weird uncle in charge, so of course – of course – they were going to pull off a shitty little heist centered around a goddamned dare.

The worst they’ve got are some cuts and a handful of bruises, and the Rimmy Turtle is never going to be the same again, but hey.

No one died. (Yet.)

“I don’t know,” Ryan says, sarcasm on full. “Maybe be a little smarter about things?”

That -

Wow, yeah.

Gavin’s eyebrows shoot up, and Jeremy coughs discreetly behind his hand. Michael stops rooting around the cabinets in the shitty safehouse they’re in and glances over at the others, and Ryan.

Ryan’s massaging his temples like he’s got a bitch of a headache.

“Okay,” he says. “Let’s just forget I said that. Clearly I should know better by now.”

You’d think, yeah.

Michael watches Gavin and Jeremy as they shuffle out of the room to patch each other up, and shakes his head.

“Hey,” he says, shifting over to the cabinet over the fridge where he hits pay dirt. “Aspirin or Ibuprofen?”

There’s a long-suffering sigh from Ryan and a thump-rattle as he drops down into one of the kitchen chairs at the crappy table that’s literally on its last legs.

“Surprise me.”

========

“You know,” Ryan says, like some washed-up has been drowning his sorrows in a smokey bar somewhere. “Normally I’d be out there with them.”

It’s only been one day – one (1) fucking day – since the incident at the pier, and Gavin and Jeremy are already causing trouble again.

They haven’t made the news yet, but Matt sent them a link to surveillance cameras showing those two morons breaking into a research lab. Not too alarming, because as prone to causing trouble as though two are, they’re fairly competent.

The alarming part comes in with the second link Matt sent, black vans pulling up to the research labs and Merryweather goons spilling out armed to the teeth.

“Sure, sure,” Michael soothes, taking a sharp right. “I know you would, Ryan.”

If Geoff and Jack were in town Ryan would have come up with some other horrifyingly risky way to pass the time. Maybe fuck with the FIB or IAA directly to get a little of their own back at Agent 14 and Rackman. (He’s still upset they didn’t get to keep the jetpacks after the clusterfuck with Avon and that AI of his.)

Ryan grumbles, shooting Michael these little looks like he knows he’s being humored but not sure what to do about it without seeming more pathetic than he already does.

“I would, though,” he insists stubbornly.

It should be hilarious, this. Ryan deeply worried he’s turned into a responsible adult when it comes to this kind of shit in spite of himself, but in reality it’s just kind of sad.

Michael reaches over to pat his hand comfortingly because Ryan looks like he could use it.

========

Jeremy loses another car and Gavin sprains his ankle. (No one knows how the hell it happened, but hopefully it will slow them down.)

Ryan gets bruised ribs and this scrape on his face due to him not having an iota of common sense when it comes to his own personal safety. (Also, that part where his Zentorno is going to be in the shop for a good long time and Gavin is footing the bill.)

And Michael got a headache of his own now. (Three of them, really.)

“Here,” Michael says, handing Ryan a can of his precious diet soda. “You look like you need it.”

Ryan snorts, mouth pulling up into a small smile as Michael sits next to him on the couch with a drink of his own.

“Hitting the hard stuff tonight, huh?” he asks, because he’s still an asshole.

Michael rolls his eyes and cracks open his own diet soda.

“Considering the kind of shit those two have been pulling, I’d rather not drink myself into a stupor just yet.”

Ryan hums, this amused little sound and Michael settles next to him, careful not to put pressure against his ribs.

“I have a new appreciation for Geoff and Jack,” Ryan murmurs, as though he’s going to remember this when they're back and he has some bright idea of his own. “Jesus Christ, do I ever.”

Michael snorts, and taps his can against Ryan’s in solidarity.

========

So the whole crew hierarchy thing is kind of bullshit when it comes down to it.

They listen to Geoff for the big ideas because he’s got some good ones mixed in there with all the shitty ones.

But when it comes to making sure everyone comes out of (mostly) in one piece, that tends to fall to Jack and Michael.

This quiet little pact of theirs born out of watching the others run riot all over town and somehow managing to scrape through situations that should have killed them. (Certainly would have killed anyone else.)

When Geoff and Jack head off on their cruise, Ryan gets a note from Geoff telling him to make sure the city’s still there for them to come back to. Make sure the crew’s still there.

Michael, though.

He gets a note from Jack, asking him to keep look out for the others. Namely Ryan, who makes for a good leader, it’s true, but Gavin and Jeremy are terrible human beings who love fucking with Ryan at times like this.

So.

Ryan tries to keep up with those assholes while Michael looks after Ryan, and like some kind of goddamned miracle, it works.

Which is great, because Michael's kind of attached to these assholes.