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As Far As You and Me

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There really should be some kind of orientation for new crew members when they make the cut. A pamphlet, maybe, just a little something something about what to do when shit goes wrong and all the crew’s meticulous plans fall apart.

God knows it would have been nice to have a head’s up about that kind of shit when Geoff conned him into signing up. Given him a better idea of what to expect and all, considering he’s never known shit to go so spectacularly wrong the way it tends to for the Fake AH Crew

Just saying.

Another brilliant heist of theirs going sideways on them in the escape stage of things. Gavin and the others going one way while Michael and Ryan crawled into the bones of an old apartment building gutted by a fire a few months back.

“So,” Michael says, ducking back into cover as a spray of bullets comes his way to pepper the wall inches above his head. “This isn’t great.”

Fucking Merryweather.

Better shots than the usual crop of security guards, and meaner too. More likely to play with their food, drag things out for shits and giggles.

The Merryweather goons split Michael and Ryan up soon after they’d made their way into the building, forcing Michael up a few floors, nipping at his heels the whole way.

He’s managed to pick a few of them off but there are still a lot of the fuckers left, and they’re all wearying serious body armor. Not ideal when he’s down to a handgun and a few knives. A shotgun better used as a club with no ammo for it.

Grenades would be fantastic, but he used his last one as the distraction that let them get away from the first batch of Merryweather goons.

There’s a thoughtful little hum over the comms, muffled sound of gunfire and screaming. The usual sort of mayhem that seems to happen wherever Ryan goes.

“I dunno,” Ryan says, just as one of those terrified screams suddenly cuts off. “It’s not so bad.”

Michael squeezes between an overturned shelving unit and the wall as the Merryweather goons spread out to search the room for him. Eases past one struggling with inner demons or whatever the fuck because he is kicking the shit out of an access panel along the wall like he thinks anything remotely human-sized could fit through it. (Well, Jeremy maybe.)

A few harrowing moments later and he’s put of the room and creeping along a dark hallway, doing his best not to let his footsteps give him away.

“Yeah, but you’re a psychopath,” Michael mutters, little bit of hope filtering through the gloom and doom of his situation because there’s less screaming on Ryan’s end. “You love this shit.”

Ryan chuckles because he likes it when they point out he’s a fucking freak, not exactly bloodthirsty the way the rumors make him out to be, just...very, very Ryan.

“You need a hand?” he asks, like he’s not working his way towards Michael’s position as they speak, dealing with whatever – whoever – has the bad luck to cross his path with ruthless efficiency.

Michael snorts, cocking his head when he hears a door creak open somewhere down the hall behind him, catches sound of voices.

“Nah,” he says, smirking a little.”I’m good.”

Merryweather is known for hiring vicious fuckers, lean and mean, and while they’re better than most rent-a-cops, they’re still real dumb. Love their guns a little too much, go for the brute force method every goddamned time.

Easy to run rings around if you’re smart and can keep a level head in a shitty position like theirs, and predictable as hell.

Michael spots a stairwell ahead of him, security door in sad shape from the fire that gutted this building a few months back. Slips from the shadows he’s using as cover through the gap there and checks to make sure none of the goons have gotten clever, are waiting for him before he starts down them.

“I’m good.”

Ryan doesn’t answer, but Michael’s betting he’s more focused on whatever he’s doing – it seems to involve Ryan shooting people, more of those choked off yells and bodies hitting the floor.

Michael rolls his eyes and stops when fallen debris blocks his way and backtracks to the landing above him. Checks to make sure it’s clear before he opens the door, and winces as the fucking thing shrieks.

“Fucking hell,” he mutters, because there’s nowhere else for him to go.

The goons have to realize he’s gone back down by now, and the stairwell below him is blocked, so.

Michael psyches himself up and yanks the door open, tortured metal screaming, and throws himself through the doorway, leading with his handgun. Quickly scans the hallway for enemies before darting down the hallway to slip through an open doorway, and presses up against the wall inside, heart pounding.

“Michael?”

Michael swears at Ryan’s voice in his ear after that display of bad times all around for his heart and breathes out, long and slow. Moves his gun to his left hand to shake out his right and back again.

“Ryan?” he mimics, grins at the long-suffering sigh it causes as he pushes off from the wall to examine the room he’s in.

Probably used to be a cute little apartment before the fire, and further investigation shows a window connected to a – mostly – intact fire escape. Damaged in the fire or shitty maintenance, who knows.

Possible way out, although he’s going to need a Tetanus shot when it’s over.

“What’s your situation?”

Michael moves back from the window, listening for trouble as he fills Ryan in on the latest with him. Gets a quick picture of Ryan’s own thrilling adventures to this point.

He’s on the floor below Michael and looking at an equally dodgy escape route.

Not the greatest options, but a hell of a lot better than playing cat and mouse with a bunch of Merryweather bastards.

Odds are good someone’s noticed all the gunshots by now, and the cops will show up eventually. (Not too soon though, because this isn’t a great part of Los Santos, but definitely before any news crews think any possible risk outweighs the potential gains for them.

There’s thoughtful silence when Ryan stops talking, Michael circling back the window and the world’s shittiest fire escape.

“Meet you downstairs?” he asks, already moving because he knows Ryan.

“Okay,” Ryan says, unnervingly cheerfully.

Michael snorts, and climbs out the window to make his way down the fire escape. Heart in his throat as it groans and shudders under his weight. Freezes when the whole damn thing shifts when he hops from one end of the broken section to the next. Half expects the whole thing coming away from the building and taking him down with it with perfect clarity until it finally settles.

Eventually his feet hit the ground, cracked concrete and scraggly weeds. Bits of trash and debris scattered about.

“I’m outside,” Michael says, straightening from his crouch as he double-times it away from the building.

Angles for street he can see at the end of the alley, cars and other traffic passing with the kind of frequency that indicates a busy street and better chance of losing the Merryweather goons. Remembers to tuck his gun out of sight before he hits the sidewalk and pauses to orient himself.

No signs of Merryweather goons yet, and he wants to keep it that way, keep moving until he’s sure they’ve lost them.

“Ditto,” Ryan says, and Michael breathes a little easier when he gets a faint stereo effect through the comms, glances to the side to see Ryan coming out of a nearby alley, head turned in his direction.

Michael watches him start his way, takes in the people instinctively shifting aside to make room for him before they realize he’s not just another pedestrian. Finally fucking noticing the bogeyman in their midst who remembered to take his stupid mask off and forgotten about the face paint under it everyone in the city knows.

The screaming starts up just after Ryan falls into step with Michael, both of them on the lookout for a car they can borrow to get the fuck out of here.

It’s all high-pitched and honestly kind of overkill considering the fact Ryan isn’t giving any of them the time of day, focused on getting the hell away.

“Oh, look at that,” Michael says flashing him a little grin. “Your adoring public.”

Ryan sighs, stepping aside as some guy in a shitty suit pelts by yelling about his begonias needing him and something about being too young to die? Something like that, anyway.

“Why do people run away from me screaming!?” he asks, like he honestly has no idea why anyone would be scared of a guy his size running around with a skull painted on his face and blood spatter on his person even if they didn’t know who he is.

“Oh, I dunno, might be the reputation?” Michael muses, gesturing at the damn face paint that isn’t quite in pristine condition at the moment.

The lines of the skull are smeared, blood and dust and God knows what caking it, and the rest of Ryan’s in shitty shape as well. Slight limp he’s trying to hide and this tightness to his words despite the light tone he’s going for.

Ryan snorts, sliding Michael a sidelong glance as they move to an intersection crossing a few streets away to wait for the light. There’s a small group of panicked pedestrians with them who aren’t quite rebellious enough to flee from the presence of the goddamned Vagabond to risk jaywalking.

“Rude,” Ryan says, bumping his shoulder against Michael’s as the crosswalk sign changes and the crowd rolls forward.

Michael drops behind him a half step, just enough for his elbow to – accidentally, of course – make contact with Ryan’s ribs, pull a grunt from him along with an annoyed look.

“Sorry,” Michael apologizes, not meaning it one goddamn bit. “You know what a clumsy bastard I can be.”

Ryan actually stops, turns to scowl down at him ignore the terrified bleating of people streaming past them.

“Michael.”

Michael grins up at him.

“Ryan.”

Their little stare down goes on for a few moments, long enough for the lights to turn and for impatient drivers to start honking their horns in the split-second immediately afterwards.

Ryan growls, and Michael laughs as he wraps a hand around his arm to get him moving again.

Probably real fucking stupid of them to be this dumb so close to the Merryweather goons, but no one ever said they were bright.

Ryan shakes Michael's hand off after few feet, but he sticks close until they finally find a car worth stealing, soft curl to his mouth as he gestures for Michael to do the honors. Laughs like a goddamned idiot when they pull into traffic and pass a couple of Merryweather vans cruising past them in the opposite direction looking for them in all the wrong places, police sirens in the distance.

Michael cuts a glance at Ryan as they pass a slow-moving bus.

Feels his own lips pull up into a grin at the look on Ryan’s face, the sound of his laughter as he leans back in his seat, wind through his open window playing the hair that’s come loose from the ponytail he has it in. Trusting Michael to get them home safely.

Bright and open and so fucking delighted at puling off yet another daring escape to ride off into the sunset once again and trusting Michael to get them home safely, because yeah.

This is the kind of thing they should warn the newbies about.

Give them a head’s up, let them know what they’re in for, because goddamn is it a beautiful thing.