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All the Paths We Have Been On

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In a city like Los Santos, there’s drama and then there’s drama.

This little thing with the Battle Buddies and Agent 14 is the very much the latter, and it’s giving Trevor a headache of unbelievable proportions.

“I’ve got aspirin for that if you need it,” Matt says, distracted by the puzzle Trevor’s brought to him.

All these lovely secrets locked away behind passwords and encryptions and other super secret spy things that Trevor may or may not have borrowed. (Stolen.)

Trevor considers Matt’s offer for a long moment, but ultimately decides against it because Matt is mocking him.

“Hilarious, Matthew,” he says and goes to root around in Matt’s kitchen to see if he has any people food, pretending he can’t hear Matt chuckling to himself over such a clever little joke, ha-ha.

Shocking absolutely no one, Matt does not have people food. He has various forms of junk food and the like, because he’s Matt, but nothing nutritious.

“You’re an animal,” Trevor yells, even thought Matt’s pulled his headphones on, the better to ignore any such accusations aimed his direction. “An absolute animal.”

Trevor takes his phone out and puts in a delivery order at a local pizza place Matt likes, cheerfully using one of Matt’s credit cards to pay for it. (Matt really should keep a closer eye on his wallet. Why just imagine what might happen if someone got their sticky little fingers on it?)

========

“Trevor.”

Trevor looks up from the magazine he’s perusing. Glossy pages and little sample packet-things tucked in between the utterly fascinating articles and whatnot, to see Ryan giving him an odd look.

“Yes, Ryan?”

Ryan’s eyes narrow because he’s a suspicious sort, all paranoid over the slightest thing – and points at the magazine.

“What are you doing?”

Trevor raises his eyebrows, because surely it should be obvious.

“I’m reading, Ryan.”

There’s a pause as Ryan frowns.

“I can see that,” he says, sounding so very put upon, as though Trevor’s being difficult. “What are you reading?”

Trevor glances down at the magazine he’s reading, all pretty pictures and lovely font choices. Words all over the place.

“I’m reading a magazine article, if you must know,” he says, and waves the magazine at Ryan. “It’s very fascinating.”

Ryan’s expression slips towards highly dubious, which is, quite frankly, rude of him. No reason to be all snooty about people’s recreational reading choices.

It’s a popular fashion magazine

“I’m leaning how to – how do they phrase it?” Trevor muses, turning back to the first page of the article. “Oh yes, ‘please my man’. They’ve got some interesting pointers, handy little tips.”

They really do.

Trevor’s not so sure about the one with the ice cube, but -

“Oh my God,” Ryan says, sounding horrified and he rushes forward to try to and grab the wonderfully educational magazine from Trevor. “Stop, don’t you dare.”

Trevor lets out a scandalized gasp - he was reading that - and twists to avoid Ryan. The man is terribly persistent, however, and it turns into an impromptu wrestling match with no clear winner.

Trevor’s wily, but Ryan’s got all that lovely muscle on him. The only way to even things out is distract Ryan with a kiss – just a small one! - but then Ryan retaliates in kind, and really, it’s all a mess.

========

Trevor is being spied upon.

Unmarked cars across the street from his quaint little apartment at all hours of the day. Someone asking sweet Mrs. Hanley down the hall if she’s noticed anything odd about her neighbors. Shady men following him on his daily errands and afternoon strolls.

“You should do something about that,” Alfredo says, taking a sip of his latte.

It’s a lovely weekend afternoon and the two of them are sauntering along, trendy coffees in hand.

Trevor pauses to check his hair in the reflection of a storefront, and sighs at the figure hastily ducking behind a tree down the street

A tree.

It’s not even a particularly large tree.

“I feel bad for him,” he admits. “The poor man is just doing his job.”

Poorly, it’s true, but he’s trying. (Trevor’s been subjected to enough anime marathons with Ryan to know that it’s a noble endeavor all its own.)

Fredo snorts, leaning in to check his own hair, shoulder bumping companionably against Trevor’s.

“You need help, let me know, alright?”

Trevor hums, this little spot of warmth in his chest at Alfredo’s offer.

“Will do,” he says, and then they’re back to sauntering again with his tail scurrying along behind them to keep up.

========

Ryan sighs, as though everything is terrible and Trevor is not helping.

“Hello, Ryan.”

Another sigh, Ryan running a hand over his face and looking very much like he has things he would like to say, but can’t find the right words to do so.

“Do I want to know what you’re up to?” he asks after a few moments have passed.

Ah. He must have noticed the unmarked van that that followed Trevor all the way to Ryan’s apartment.

Trevor mulls his question over for a bit.

Thinks about the stolen files Matt’s still working on. The shady men spying on him. Other things Ryan doesn’t need to worry about.

If Ryan did know what Trevor was up to, he’d get all annoyed and angry about it. Yell a bit too, all Jeremy and I are handling it and you did what?! and oh my God, Trevor, are you fucking kidding me?

Probably for the best that he doesn’t know.

“Mm, no,” Trevor says, and smiles winningly at Ryan as he drops down on the couch beside him, leans in to peck him on the cheek. “Welcome home, by the way.”

Ryan sighs, corner of his mouth twitching slightly as he glances at Trevor.

“You’re supposed to be the responsible one, you know.”

Trevor rolls his eyes at that, because he still doesn’t know where Geoff got that idea from.

“Yes, well,” he says, puts a little tease in his voice. “Compared to you, I suppose I am.”

Ryan’s aim is, as always, incredible, but Trevor manages to deflect the throw pillow aimed at his face at the last second, Ryan’s laughter in his ears as he does.

========

Trevor’s gotten his hands on files regarding the Battle Buddies in the past. A little light reading while Geoff considered hiring the two of them on for a job.

Tale as old as time, theirs.

Two uniquely talented individuals with their guns and explosives and other fun toys doing dirty deeds for the government only to get burned by that very same government. A bit of running and hiding and thrilling adventures that ended with them turning to a life of crime.

All these ethics and morals guiding their choices, and – inevitably, some might say - they’d caught Geoff’s eye.

He’d put Gavin and Matt digging into things on their end. Sent Trevor out to see what he could find. Let Alfredo loose, asking after them here and there, discover what the Battle Buddies had been up to since they’d come to Los Santos, all those contacts of his.

Point being, he knows what they were up to while working for good old Uncle Sam.

The new files he managed to get his hands on that Matt’s finally cracked -

Well.

Now he knows where Ryan got that nasty little scar on his back from, why Jeremy always insists on wearing body armor.

Unpleasant read, and Trevor’s got a new To-Do list in his head right next to all the others. It would be a crime to let those responsible think they’ll won’t have to take responsibility for their part in that, won’t have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Agent 14 seems to be a smidge less reprehensible than those particular individuals, but only just. (Coercion is still coercion after all, and this whole situation has gotten tiresome.)

There are only so many times he can stand by and watch Ryan and Jeremy ask Geoff for time off to see to personal matters only for them to come back after being gone for days, weeks, worse for wear, and this look to them Trevor’s all too familiar with.

So.

A little meddling on Trevor’s part, some of Matt’s magic when it comes to pesky encryption matters. The rest of the crew being their delightful selves acting (inadvertently) as interference as Trevor puts his little scheme in action. (This isn’t a favor nor an obligation on Trevor’s part, it’s a joy.)

“Mr. Collins. I wasn’t, ah, expecting to see you. Tonight. In my home.”

Trevor looks away from his perusal of the books lining Agent 14’s bookshelves, tips of his claws skimming over gold foil lettering.

“Oh, well,” Trevor says, turning to face him. “This was meant to be a surprise, you see.”

Agent 14 has that amiable smile on his face, seems friendly and open. A face you can trust, even though they both know it for a lie.

“Is that so?”

Trevor hums, studying him thoughtfully.

Agent 14 has an odd sort of charisma to him. Comes off as the charming, roguish sort. Reckless and devil-may-care about things, but Agent Rackman isn’t the sort who would tolerate his involvement if he was wholly incompetent.)

“I have a proposition for you,” Trevor says. “An offer you can't refuse, so to speak.”

Agent 14 stares at him for a long moment, and then he laughs. This quiet little chuckle as he crosses his arms.

“I don’t suppose this has anything to do with the security breach at the IAA building last week?”

Trevor shrugs, smile touching his lips.

“I can neither confirm nor deny that.”

There’s another little standoff, Agent 14 waiting to see if Trevor’s foolish enough to incriminate himself - no - and then the man sighs again, rubbing the bridge of his nose and muttering to himself.

“Alright, lay it on me.”

“As a show of good faith,” Trevor says, plucking a memory card from one of the pouches on his belt.

“What’s on it?” Agent 14 asks as he accepts the memory card with a raised eyebrow.

“The IAA’s NOC operative list.”

Agent 14 gives him a sharp look, and Trevor shrugs again.

There had been a time Ryan and Jeremy would have been counted among them, and the thought of using those agents’ lives as bargaining chips leaves a bad taste in Trevor’s mouth.

“I see,” Agent 14 says, flippancy gone.

Trevor gives him a wry smile and starts talking, strikes a deal they can both live with. (A little give and take, and a favor owed for services rendered.)

========

“I thought you said your grandmother lived in Florida,” Ryan says, leaning against the door frame to watch Trevor pack.

Trevor glances at him, takes in the frown on his face that’s equal parts concern and the ever-present suspicion. (Always there, but at least this is the kind that’s suspicious for Trevor, odd as it sounds.)

“Hmm, no. You’re thinking of the other one,” Trevor says, hands on his hips as he stares down at the clothes laid out on the bed.

The eternal struggle of finding that perfect balance, ratio of shirt to pants to underwear to socks. Always too many of one and never enough of the other, and such a bother.

“Trevor.”

He doesn’t wince at the way Ryan says his name, all this worry to it when he’d come home to Trevor packing a weekend bag. Family matters and not to worry it wasn’t serious but he would need to be there in person, and what kind of souvenir would Ryan like?

Another tacky shot glass for the man who doesn’t drink, or perhaps some terrible t-shirt or a lovely little keychain?

“Yes, Ryan?”

Ryan is being unfair, looking at Trevor, and if he manages to leave Los Santos without a tail it will be a miracle. (But that’s what’s so nice about a crew like theirs, a few words in the right ears and Ryan will have other things to be worried about.)

“If you’re in trouble - “

Trevor’s heart does this little melty thing, because Ryan is an idiot – Trevor’s, to be sure – and far too sweet for someone reputed to be the scourge of the city.

“Ryan, please,” Trevor says, fingers pressed to his chest in shock that Ryan could possibly think Trevor would ever be in trouble. “I have never done anything wrong in my life.”

Ryan’s mouth snaps shut, eyebrows just shooting up in a – quite frankly – insulting show of incredulousness.

“Everything’s fine, negative nancy,” Trevor says. “I promise.”

========

Everything is mostly fine.

It’s true that things haven’t exactly gone to plan on this little mission of his. Little mistakes here and there that added up to extra guards and security measures that weren’t accounted for. A tripped alarm that has the guards searching for him, but Trevor managed to get the files Agent 14 and his people were so keen on, and he hasn’t been spotted.

He’s not going to accuse Agent 14 of handing him bad intel, but there have been entirely one too close-calls and near-misses for him to call it a coincidence. (The fact that this little mission was originally intended for the Battle Buddies isn’t helping in that regard.)

Also -

”Trevor, what the fuck.”

He can hear Matt in the background on Jeremy’s end of the line. Muffled and distorted as he talks to someone else. Deeper voice, something of a growl to it.

Ryan does not sound happy.

Not that Trevor would expect him to, what with the lies and whatnot leading up to this grand old shitshow.

It really was too much to hope that Matt and the others would be able to keep Ryan and Jeremy distracted enough to stay in the dark for long.

“Now is maybe not the best time for this, Jeremy,” he whispers, his hand hand cupped over his mouth. “I’m a little busy.”

“Yeah, gee,” Jeremy drawls, unnecessarily sarcastic. “I wonder why that is?”

Trevor rolls his eyes as he makes his way up to the upper floor and closer to the convenient hatch in the ceiling he used to get inside.

“Not that I’m not enjoying your scathing disapproval,” Trevor says, “but I have to go.”

He’s just about to end the call when something occurs to him.

“Oh, and please don’t let Ryan kill Matt,” he says. “Everything would be so awkward.”

That gets a sigh from Jeremy, but it’s the reluctantly amused sort so Trevor has faith he’ll at least put up a token effort.

Trevor ends the call and tucks his phone away safely before moving the hatch aside and pulling himself up and into the vent. Crawls the last little bit until he hits the roof. From there it’s a matter of parkouring himself a few buildings over and down to street level where there’s a car waiting for him.

Well, that and meeting with Agent 14 before explaining himself to Ryan when he gets back to Los Santos, which will be all kinds of fun.

========

Agent 14 has a black eye.

Nasty looking thing, and Trevor doesn’t call attention to it as he hands the files over because that would be rude of him, wouldn’t it?

“I trust you’ll keep your word?”

That was the whole point to this after all.

“I get the feeling I would regret it if I didn’t,” Agent 14 says ruefully. “But for what it’s worth, I will.”

It’s the best he can expect out of someone like him, and hopefully it will be enough.

========

“Funny story,” Trevor starts, rubbing the back of his neck. “I don’t actually have a grandmother.”

Well, he must have at some point, but given the actual state of Trevor’s family life, he’s never met either of his grandmothers.

Ryan’s standing there, all tall, dark, and intimidating. This downturn to his mouth and all this anger (worry) in his eyes, and Trevor -

“I don’t suppose you happen to know what happened to Agent 14’s face?” he asks, because of course he does.

Can’t help himself, even though Ryan is clearly unimpressed with Trevor and his everything right now.

“Well you know,” Trevor says, and smiles grimly when Ryan’s eyes narrow. Realizes Trevor’s not playing around anymore. “I know you and Jeremy seem to think it’s fine – just a thing that happens – that the two of you just hop to whenever Agent 14 shows up with some new problem he needs help with.”

Never seems to end with him, really. All sorts of problems and situations that his agency and all their little allies can’t seem to handle on their own, so of course they have no choice but to turn to the Battle Buddies.

Some of their best people they fucked over, once upon a time.

Damn near got them killed, and then spent a significant amount of time attempting to arrest for crimes they didn’t commit. (Quite the irony with all that nonsense sending them into hiding in Los Santos and everything that followed after to get them where they are now.)

“We don’t – We don’t do that,” Ryan says, completely convincingly.

No really. One hundred percent convincingly, why just look at how convinced Trevor is.

“Look, I know you both seem to think there’s no other choice in the matter, that there’s no other way,” Trevor says, with all the appropriate drama necessary, “but – and no offense meant, you’re both idiots.”

The worst of the worst.

Stupid and stubborn in turns, and too familiar with the kinds of threats leveled against the people they care for – the people making the threats – to chance risking things.

Don’t see a problem in going off on those little missions the government can’t seem to handle themselves. The ones they need to resort to blackmailing criminals for so long as the rest of the crew isn’t involved. (Oh, Geoff and the others were working on a fix, but they were taking too damn long with it. Trevor just...sped things along a bit.)

It’s honorable, in a way.

Admirable.

Stupid as hell.

The Fake AH Crew is far from infallible, but they’re hardly helpless. Unable to handle the threats the people like Agent 14 like to toss around, do a little digging of their own to counter them. (So many secrets the government doesn’t want the world to know about just waiting for someone to come along and steal.)

“And what you did was any better?” Ryan asks, and he’s not angry anymore so much as tired, which is more than understandable.

Trevor just looks at Ryan.

From the outside it probably looks like unspeakable amounts of hypocrisy on his part.

“Yes, well,” Trevor says. “That was different.”

He had a plan, and it worked.

Ryan and Jeremy aren’t under anyone’s thumb anymore, won’t need to chip away little bits of themselves because they think it’s the only thing they can do.

Granted, it involved breaking into the IAA building and pilfering some of their secrets, blackmailing various bits of the government, and putting himself in much the same position as Ryan and Jeremy to do it, but -

“Super, super different.”

Ryan squints at him like he can’t decide what breed of idiot Trevor is.

“My point is, Ryan,” Trevor says, and realizes he’s lost the thread somewhere in there. “Uh. Yes.”

Something about them all being idiots while the government is full of assholes and -

“Jesus Christ,” Ryan sighs, and pinches the bridge of his nose as though Trevor’s the worst human being ever.

Trevor laughs when he sees the state of Ryan’s knuckles.

“I took a picture of his face, if you want to see it,” Trevor says, taking his phone out. “Get a look at your handiwork and all.”

Ryan sighs harder, but when he lowers his hand there’s the teeniest hint of a smile on his face.

Super tiny, but still there, which is the important thing.

“Sure, why not,” he says, and yes, fine.

There are obviously Talks in their future. All these conversations dealing with how not to be the kind of idiots they are and so on, but for now -

For now, this little moment of smug satisfaction as Trevor pulls up the photo of the truly glorious black eye Ryan gave Agent 14 is a nice place to be.