Gavin has this thing with social media.
It just about drives Michael up the wall at first. Back when Gavin was just this dumb British moron who Geoff borrowed from the Roosters, when Michael was new to the Fakes. The idiot actually wheedles Geoff into making a snapchat account, of all things. He pleads and pleads until he wears Geoff down, much to Michael’s surprise at the time. But there’s history there, between the two of them, that Michael hadn’t noticed back then.
Other than the initial surprise that Geoff had given in, Michael doesn’t think too much about the whole thing, especially after Gavin packs up and goes back to the Roosters. Until—
—Geoff’s phone goes off during a crew meeting, right in the middle of one of Geoff’s long-winded explanations. Nothing unusual, but Geoff blinks in surprise when he checks who the notification is from, prompting curious looks from the crew. His explanation trails off as he unlocks his phone, opens the notification, bursts out laughing hysterically.
Okay, so that’s a little unusual.
Jack leans over his shoulder to see—she immediately sputters, something flabbergasted in her expression, before she, too, breaks off into helpless laughter.
Michael glances at Ray, who shrugs helpfully, and together they round the table to see what’s so fucking funny. And.
Gavin’s really gone all-out for this one. He’s posed artfully on the front of what looks like a speedboat, god knows where because it’s pitch black wherever he is, time differences and all. The boat is nothing to write home about, and most likely stolen, but Gavin has posed himself on the front or bow or whatever-the-fuck it is, lounging casually against the windshield. The boat is fucking filled with explosives and guns and all manner of things-that-go-boom, enough loot that Michael feels a twinge of jealousy. A rocket launcher sits neatly on the top of the pile, and it’s clearly been used tonight because Gavin’s sunglasses reflect a truly massive blaze. The light illuminates Gavin’s face, makes him look golden, turns his innocent little grin into something sharp and dangerous.
Michael blinks and stares at the picture for what feels like ages, unsure of what the fuck he’s looking at exactly.
No, that’s not quite right. Clearly, he’s looking at a picture of Burnie’s British moron, posing for a picture in the light of whatever-the-fuck he just blew up, stockpile of weapons and explosives in the background. It’s just—the moron is sending a picture of his crime via snapchat to the crime boss of a different crew.
But Geoff just keeps laughing, whooping and cackling like it’s the funniest shit he’s ever seen in his goddamn life. Jack’s not far behind him, hyenas, both of them. Even Ray cracks up. Michael can’t fathom how stupid Gavin is, in that moment, but that’s an issue for another time.
Because Gavin joins the Fakes less than two months later.
One of the first things he does upon reaching Los Santos is set up a group chat for the crew. Actually, several group chats. The main chat is between the five of them, and it’s used for anything and everything under the sun. Grocery lists, heist plans, random conversations, drama. It’s one of Michael’s biggest sources of entertainment, not that he’d ever admit it out loud. Michael, Gavin, and Ray also have a separate chat, “for the lads,” as Gavin put it. The name changes every few days, usually varying degrees of insulting or dumb. (Currently it’s “YOLO” because Ray is a goddamn child).
Michael finally breaks and adds Gavin on snapchat, mostly for access to the ridiculous selfies. He quickly discovers that Gavin posts the dumbest things on his story—usually himself trying to win over the stray cats near their building, or whatever expensive coffee he bought that morning, but occasionally a selfie of a crime pops up. Gavin riding shotgun in Ray’s adder, red-and-blue lights flashing behind them. Some poor mugger, dead behind a slightly-bloodied Gavin holding a gun and his own wallet, a frowny face as the caption. A dead political rival of Geoff’s, dead with a bullet through his neck, crude dick drawn in mustard on his forehead because Gavin walked in while the guy was eating a hotdog.
It’s the funniest fucking thing to Michael every damn time. That last picture must be equally as entertaining to Geoff, because Michael hears that whooping laugh start up from somewhere downstairs. Michael chortles into a can of redbull, types “fucking nice,” and gets up to put Jack’s leftover casserole in the oven for when Gavin gets home, because he knows Gavin, knows the asshole will whine and complain about being hungry after seeing the goddamn hotdog.
“You really outdid yourself on that one,” Michael says when Gavin bounces into the kitchen. “I liked the mustard dick.”
Gavin outright giggles. “I saw I got a notification from you, I didn’t check it yet,” he says, “I wasn’t sure if you were cussing me out or not. Fifty-fifty chance, honestly.”
Michael rolls his eyes, because Gavin’s not exactly wrong. He swats Gavin away from the oven, because no, and gets the leftovers out himself, puts them on a plate Gavin won’t burn himself on. “It was pretty funny,” he admits.
Gavin shovels casserole into his mouth absentmindedly, checking his phone for all the crew’s reactions. Michael leaves him to it, goes to turn the oven off and put the casserole dish away when he hears Gavin’s fork clatter to the counter behind him. He whips around to see Gavin, mouth agape, hand hovering awkwardly in the air above the fork. He’s staring intently at his phone, eyes wide, obviously stunned. Michael shuffles over slowly, loudly, so Gavin can move his phone out of sight if he wants to, but Gavin angles his phone so he can see.
It’s a picture of some guy in a grey hoodie, and the selfie only stretches from the bottom of his nose to the middle of his chest, but Michael’s pretty sure he doesn’t know the guy. The man holds a partially-eaten hotdog with a frown.
“Suddenly dinner is a lot less appetizing”, it reads.
The picture is nothing startling. But, look, Michael can pick up details pretty well. The guy sits at a table, kitchen behind him. The fridge is covered in those alphabet magnets for kids, as well as pictures that Michael can’t make out from here. There’s a cat stretched out on top of the fridge.
Gavin sent one of his murder-selfies to a civilian.
Michael looks at Gavin, who swallows loudly. “Well, shit,” Gavin says under his breath. “Didn’t mean to send it to him.” He pauses for a long, long moment before adding, “Didn’t think he’d respond even if I meant to send it.”
“You in trouble?” Michael asks, because civilians usually call the cops first and ask questions later.
Gavin frowns. “Nah,” he says, and he sounds so sure of himself that Michael lets it go. He trusts Gavin’s judgement when it comes down to it, trusts that he knows what he’s doing, knows if he’d be in trouble or not. It doesn’t stop Michael from leaning over his shoulder again and reading their conversation. The civilian’s contact is labelled, vaguely, “Guy”, which is irritatingly unhelpful.
sorry for ruining your dinner
didn't actually mean to send that to you, sorry
Also, what the hell?
it’s kind of a thing?
well it started with murder boat
yeah I’ll send you the pic
I send my crew selfies of my crimes now
As you do
I knew you’d see it my way!
Michael rolls his eyes as Gavin laughs. So that conversation could have gone way, way worse. Gavin got lucky, somehow. The civilian must live in Los Santos, because no one in the goddamn world should act so blasé about being sent a “murder selfie” from one of the most infamous criminals out there.
It’s not his business, Michael tells himself. It’s not important. Why Gavin has some civilian’s snapchat in the first place, whoever the guy is—it’s not important. Michael mentally acknowledges that it could have been a sweetheart or a friend-with-benefits of Gavin’s, all the more reason to keep his nose out of Gavin’s business. He backs off, leaves Gavin to text his—new? old?—friend, does his best to put the whole thing from his mind. And if Gavin checks his phone more often than usual, texts more often, lights up whenever he gets a snapchat notification, well it’s none of Michael’s business.
Until Gavin squawks loudly next to him in the middle of a multiplayer game between the two of them and Ray, winding down after a job earlier that day. Gavin had taken a selfie, as usual, this one aboard Jack’s cargo-bob, magnificent explosions on the ground below them. Michael glances over sharply when he realizes Gavin’s not squawking at the game, isn’t even looking at the TV, is instead staring slack-jawed at his phone.
It’s a picture from “Guy”.
“Guy” took a picture in front of a mirrored closet door, from his shoulders down. He’s wearing a nondescript black T-shirt, baggy blue dad jeans, and horrid black-and-white runners. It’s captioned, “I’ll show you a REAL crime”
A fashion crime, if you will.
Michael mentally facepalms at the shitty joke and the even shittier outfit, but grins outwardly at Gavin’s outrage.
“It’s awful!” Gavin shrieks, hand flapping as he tries to get the point across via gestures. “What the hell are those jeans? Those shoes?! That shirt doesn’t even fit him right!” Michael cackles at the pure horror in Gavin’s voice.
Ray bursts out laughing. “It’s a fashion crime,” he wheezes, finally getting the joke, “holy shit. I’ve never laughed so hard at a dad joke in my life.”
Geoff and Jack wander over from the kitchen, probably drawn by the loud squawking and laughter.
“What the fuck happened?” Jack asks, glancing at the game still going on the TV.
Gavin shoves his phone towards them. “A bloody fashion crime is what happened!”
And look, Michael had started to wind down, but the cackling starts up again at the bewildered and mildly horrified looks on Geoff and Jack’s faces. Geoff opens and closes his mouth several times before shaking himself.
“Who even is that?” Ray asks, still laughing.
Gavin goes very, very quiet. Michael stops laughing, too, because shit. Geoff’s pretty tolerant about the whole murder-selfie thing, but Gavin’s been sending them to some civilian. Dangerous is an understatement. It could have compromised the crew, still has the potential to do so.
“He’s an old friend,” Gavin says, blushes, because—
“You have a thing for the walking fashion crime,” Geoff says blandly.
Gavin sputters, shakes his head, tries to deny it. The whole crew is laughing again because honestly, those were goddamn awful dad jeans, and the pun was even worse. “He doesn’t always wear dad jeans!” Gavin protests, like that makes it any better, and pulls up a picture of snapchat guy in a hoodie and skinny jeans and, okay, the guy doesn’t look half bad when he dresses reasonably. Still. Gavin has a picture of the guy saved on his phone, which is even more incriminating than the blushing.
“Whatever floats your boat, man,” Ray manages between helpless laughter. Gavin throws a couch cushion at him.
Michael just sits back and laughs and hopes that Gavin’s civilian won’t be just another regret. Because people like them just don’t mix with civilians, don’t coexist nicely. A civilian—boyfriend, lover, crush, whatever the guys is—makes a tempting target for the Fakes’ numerous enemies. Anyone wanting to get to the Golden Boy could go after Gavin’s—civilian, Michael’s just going to call him Gavin’s civilian until presented with evidence as to the nature of their relationship.
The point is, Gavin’s civilian spells trouble. It’s bound to lead to heartbreak for Gavin at the very least, if not both. Mixing civilians and criminals never ends well.
Michael resolves to let Gavin handle it, though, because who the hell is he to dissuade him? If his civilian makes him happy, hell, if pining after his civilian makes him happy, then Michael’s not going to take that away.
The rest of the crew teases Gavin mercilessly, of course, something which Michael happily joins in on, especially whenever snapchat guy (renamed “Fashion Crime”) sends a selfie. And it’s disgusting, really, how much Gavin’s face lights up whenever he gets a snapchat notification. If it were anyone else, Michael would tell him off, demand he stop showing off his crush, but it’s Gavin. The idiot deserves whatever happiness comes his way, especially with how shitty his luck usually is.
It settles into a kind of normal, which is of course when the game changes. Gavin bursts out laughing at something on his phone and Michael leans over his shoulder, expecting another selfie of a guy in dad jeans.
That is decidedly not what he gets.
No, instead he gets a selfie of a blue-haired woman, camera angled just so, capturing a blonde woman and a trail of bodies behind them.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Michael says, caught a little off-guard, “what is wrong with you people?”
Gavin’s laughter gains that squeaky quality that tells Michael he won’t be getting any actual words for a while. Instead, Gavin taps to get out of the selfie and hovers his thumb over the top of the screen by the chat’s name—
It’s a group chat titled “Murder Selfie”.
Gavin squeaks some more and types, “Michael doesn’t love it, but I do, 5 stars!”
Michael just buries his face in his hands because what is it with Gavin and his goddamn group chats, and why do Gavin and Meg and Ashley have a group chat specifically for sending murder selfies?
“Why?” He asks, quiet, broken, and Gavin only squeaks harder.
It gets to be a thing; Gavin, Meg, and Ashley competing to have the best murder-selfie. Gavin gets the whole crew in on it, setting up ridiculous heists and games to take selfies in the middle of. Michael learns that when Gavin gets a snapchat notification, there’s a fifty-fifty chance it’s Fashion Crime or Murder Selfie. He wonders what Fashion Crime thinks of all the murder selfies, if they ever bother him at all, but again—it’s not his business.
He and Geoff are chatting in the kitchen, slightly drunk celebrating a successful heist, the rest of the crew crowded around the TV in the living room. They have a dumb tradition to watch the news coverage of their heists, and it never really gets old, but Michael and Geoff had gone in for snacks and more beers and never went back out. Gavin’s phone goes off on the counter and Geoff checks it, makes sure the notification isn’t from the B-Team. Both of them pause when a notification pops up from Fashion Crime.
Geoff meets Michael’s eyes and gives him a shit-eating grin, fingers hovering over the notification. “You think Gavin’ll notice?” He asks.
Michael snorts. “Of course he will.” He glances into the living room where Gavin sits on the couch, yelling something at the news anchor on the TV. “The question is how long it’ll take him to notice.”
Geoff follows his gaze into the living room, and he must like his odds because he taps the notification, types in Gavin’s super-secure password. Michael squishes in next to Geoff to read over his shoulder.
First of all, that was a truly glorious heist (and selfie)
Second, I wanted to thank you. Used one of your old ideas tonight, it’s going swimmingly
Geoff grins, wide and toothy like a goddamn shark, and starts typing.
I’ll make sure to pass that along to him when he gets his phone back
…Is this not Gavin?
Geoff’s fingers hover over the keyboard for a few moments before he opens the camera and holds the phone up to take a selfie. Michael steps out of the selfie because yeah, he’s not getting blamed for this. Geoff dials his shark-like grin back to a smug smirk, because the picture is clearly a selfie of the Kingpin of the Fakes; he never changed out of his heist attire. He captions it, “Not Gavin”.
sorry, I don’t mean to scare you
Michael scoffs, because Geoff absolutely means to scare the shit out of the poor civilian, remind him just who his snapchat buddy works for.
You realize I know who Gavin works for, right?
Not exactly tough to figure out
Sorry to rain on your parade
Michael can’t help laughing at the guy’s tone. He’s got guts, that’s for sure, something Michael grudgingly respects. Geoff frowns, pouts, and types another message.
It’s okay to admit you’re scared, buddy. No judgement here.
And Michael’s laughing again, harder, because Jesus Christ, Geoff can be an asshole sometimes. There’s a long pause before they get a response.
Do I look like a man who gets scared easily?
A notification for a picture pops up.
Michael and Geoff trade a stunned glance, mouths agape, because Fashion Crime never sends a selfie or a picture that includes his face. Michael can’t help feeling like he’s intruding, sticking his nose in too far, especially without Gavin knowing. Fashion Crime sent the picture fully knowing who would see it, though, so it should be okay. Geoff opens the picture.
It’s not okay.
Fashion Crime might have gotten murdered, because the Vagabond grins at them, wearing his signature jacket and face-paint, blood splattered across the whole ensemble.
He and Geoff stand there in the kitchen, shitting bricks, because holy shit that’s the Vagabond, and he’s clearly just murdered someone. Michael tries to pick his jaw up off the floor, really, but he can’t quite get his body to cooperate. Geoff’s mouth opens and closes several times before he whispers, brokenly, “holy shit.”
I’ll send this to both places so Gavin can see it later
And a second picture pops up. Geoff taps on it and together they let out odd wheezes, too stunned to laugh properly. It’s a recreation of murder boat from way-back-when; the Vagabond lounges on the bow of a sleek speedboat, minigun in his lap, rocket launcher and crates of ammunition for both in the boat behind him. The whole scene is lit by what must be a truly huge fire, because embers hang suspended in the air around the boat, and the blood splattered everywhere glistens in the firelight. The Vagabond forewent the mask, the lines of his face-paint stretched into a macabre grin. His eyes glow eerily in the firelight.
It’s goddamn terrifying.
Geoff exits the picture and slowly types out a message.
Yeah, here and Murder Selfie
That way Meg can enjoy it, too
Realization dawns on Michael, and he swipes the phone from Geoff to be sure. He backs out of the personal chat with Fashion Crime, enters Murder Selfie, and yep, sure enough, the other two participants are Meg and Fashion Crime, not Meg and Ashley.
Gavin has the goddamn Vagabond in his snapchat contact list, and accidentally sent him a murder selfie. Which the Vagabond responded to. Not only that, the Vagabond responded to a later murder selfie with a picture of himself wearing a fashion crime. Fashion Crime is the Vagabond, and the Vagabond is who Gavin’s been pining for this whole time.
The situation is bizarre at best. Michael doesn’t really know what to do, how to respond. What do you do when your best friend sends murder-selfies to and is crushing on the most infamous psychopath in Los Santos?
You gape at the phone, at the app responsible for all this madness, because that’s all Michael and Geoff can do.
Gavin must finally notice his missing phone, because he chooses that moment to slip into the kitchen. Michael looks up guiltily, phone in hand, but he doesn’t know what to say. Doesn’t know what to do at all, besides stand there in the kitchen with Geoff, rooted to the spot. Gavin frowns at them, takes his phone back, looks at what they were staring at. Glances at them once, opens the Vagabond’s murder selfie, and bursts out laughing.
“He did murder boat!” Gavin manages between squeaking laughter, “He actually did it!” More squeaking.
Geoff makes a questioning noise beside him.
Gavin waves his phone. “Murder Selfie!”
Michael hears Jack’s “Oh, god,” from the other room, and he and Ray both appear in the entrance to the kitchen. Gavin hesitates for a moment, glances at the selfie, glances at Michael and Geoff, before apparently deciding fuck it and he shows it to Ray and Jack.
And it’s a little gratifying, honestly, to see Ray and Jack shit bricks as badly as he and Geoff did a minute ago. Their jaws drop to the floor, too, both floundering for words. Gavin, the little troll, just keeps on laughing and laughing.
“Yeah, what the fuck?” Michael manages at long last. “Fashion Crime is the Vagabond?”
Gavin squeaks again, because of course he finds the whole thing funny. “Michael, you knew that Fashion Crime was part of Murder Selfie!”
Everyone in the room shakes their head because no, they absolutely did not realize Fashion Crime was the third participant in Murder Selfie, didn’t even realize he’s a criminal. Everyone thought he was some sweet civilian willing to overlook Gavin’s life of crime.
“What, really?” Gavin stops laughing and frowns, “seriously?”
“Seriously,” Michael says, “I thought he was a civilian.”
Gavin snorts outright. “I send him murder selfies, Michael! I showed you his fashion crime!”
And okay, it does seem a little odd that a civilian would just accept a bunch of murder selfies without making a fuss. Hindsight, and all that.
“The Vagabond,” Michael repeats, because it’s really taking a while for it all to sink in. Gavin just keeps on squeaking, stumbling back to lean against the kitchen counter for support.
Ray seems to realize something, snaps to attention, and blurts, “Wait. So you’ve got a thing for the Vagabond?”
Gavin stops short, blinks. Opens and closes his mouth a few times. Turns an interesting shade of red. Michael watches in fascination, because holy shit, Gavin really does have a capital-T Thing for the Vagabond, not some civilian.
Geoff pipes up quietly, horrified, “The Vagabond wears dad jeans?” And that does it. Everyone cracks up, Gavin included. They’re all varying degrees of not-sober, and it’s way too fucking funny. It takes a long while for them to calm down, all of them leaning against the kitchen counter or each other and wiping tears from their eyes.
Gavin’s phone chimes, and he snickers when he reads it. “Did I break your crew?” Gavin reads out loud. He looks up at the lot of them, clustered in the kitchen, and grins blindingly. “Yep,” he says, popping the ‘p’, and waltzes out of the kitchen typing furiously, no doubt sharing their reactions in vivid detail.
Michael just sighs, because what the fuck is his life right now, honestly?