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If No One Asks

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“I’ve got the bike!” Gavin yells. A familiar squawk rings through the crew’s ear pieces as he kicks down the original driver. Shocked when the biker grabs at his ankle Gavin’s forced to slam the front of the bike down onto the poor civilian’s head. “Oh, dude… that’s a bloody shame mate… should’ve worn a helmet. Probably could have prevented that.” He taunts.

“Oh my god, you fucking flattened him!” Michael laughs hysterically so Gavin assumes that he must be somewhere nearby. “Make sure you dispose of the bastard.” He reminds quickly before driving past him on a second motorbike and disappearing down the steep road.

“Don’t worry! I’ll chuck him off the cliff. They’ll never find him in the bushes down there.” He declares, grabbing the man’s collar. “Well they might, but the mountain lions would have gotten to him first.” Gavin sniggers as he revs his engine carefully to drag the dead stranger over to the edge.

“Do we have mountain lions?”

“Maybe. This guy’s gonna find out!”

“Jesus Christ, Gavin…”

“Maybe we could come visit him and see-”

“RYAN! No way.”

“Sorry.”

A loud noise, made by Jeremy slipping off a roof close by, causes Gavin to suddenly launch forward on the bike in surprise. He shouts loudly as the bike shoots forward and straight over the edge of the cliff meant only for the dead. Gavin bails, landing face first into the dirt and scrambling to keep his grip on the loose gravel, his legs hanging perilously below.

“What the fuck was that?” Geoff asks in a tone that insinuates he may not want to know. Scratch that. He definitely doesn’t.

“I lost the bike…” Gavin mutters. He tries to shimmy his way back up onto solid ground once more but only to lose his hold, dirt collecting under his nails. “And if someone doesn’t come back to get me in the next thirty seconds you’re going to lose a particular Gavin Free too!” He screeches into the ear piece, his voice gaining in pitch with every second.

Suddenly a hand appears above his head and Gavin gratefully takes it with a sigh. Ryan’s face, covered by the Vagabond’s mask is staring down at him and Gavin is forced to smile sheepishly.

“Thanks buddy…” He murmurs appreciatively before patting the Vagabond’s shoulder with his trademark grin. “Can you give me a lift back? I seem to have lost my ride.” Gavin laughs, already making for Ryan’s car before he’s even given an answer. Like any of the boys could say no to him.

Gavin can hear the frustrated grumblings of Geoff through his ear piece and a vague response from someone that sounds like Jeremy. Eventually, after a long discussion, a loud sigh is audible.

“Right, can someone else get a second bike please.” Geoff asked in an exasperated tone and Gavin whines in protest at the implication that Geoff is mad at him in particular.

“Hey, come on, don’t make it sound like it was my fault! Lil’ J fell off a roof and made me jump!” He complains quickly as the Vagabond drives in silence. It’s mildly uncomfortable but Gavin has long gotten used to these car journeys with a soundless killer. He simply reminds himself that the Vagabond and the boyfriend he knows as Ryan are two completely different people. One a mindless killer, the other, the type of guy to bring flowers if he accidentally eats all of the chocolate.

“Jeremy didn’t take a getaway vehicle with him!” Geoff points out, his voice raising minutely in anger. Gavin just huffs and slouches down into the leather seats.

“Is Jeremy your new favourite, Geoff?” Gavin asks sulkily and he can almost feel the Vagabond roll his eyes under the mask. Gavin pulls a face in return and he swears that Ryan’s smiling under there.

“I’ve passed my bike off to Jack to park and hide plus Ray’s already sniped down another motorcyclist so we can steal that bike.” Michael declares to stop any further arguments and always eager to please his boss. He’ll shout at Gavin later.

 


 

Gavin is still in a bit of a sulk about getting told off by Geoff that morning as he wanders around a brightly shining yellow dump truck. He’s throwing sticky bombs onto the side of it, covering the outer body in volatile explosives while muttering to himself about how it’s not fair that he was blamed for losing the bike. Obviously it was Jeremy’s fault. The bastard fell off a roof. But no, Geoff could never be mad at his new favourite. Gavin isn’t sure where the idea that Geoff loves Jeremy more than him has come from but he can assume it’s from being treated like shit this morning while Jeremy got off completely free. If Gavin had fell off the roof and Jeremy ran the motorbike off the edge then he’s sure it would have been a completely different story, right?

He throws the last bomb onto the dump and runs backward away from his giant explosive on wheels. The plan was to drive the dump truck behind an armoured vehicle carrying cash to a bank. They would bail from the dump, blow it up and hopefully open the armoured vehicle with the force of the explosion. It was simple enough with Ryan and Michael supposedly driving the dump and the rest following a safe distance behind.

Except Gavin fucks up. As he runs away from the dump truck he drops his trigger on the ground and before he can shout out a particularly violent curse word the dump is shot ten feet into the air from the force of the explosives all across its paint work and Gavin is completely drowned out.

He’s thrown forward onto the ground, taking a mouthful of dirt for a second time that day. He blinks dust out of his eyes and shakes his head to clear the ringing in his ears.

“Gavin Free what the fuck have you done!” Geoff yells as he and Jack pull up to the scene in a people carrier designed to be their getaway car. There’s manic shouting from all over the place down his ear piece as the rest of the crew are startled. Soon the shouts turn from those of shock to ones of anger.

“Son of a bitch, I’m gonna fucking murder you!” Michael screams as sirens turn on in the distance. It wasn’t a surprise, of course the Los Santos Police Department were going to have heard a massive explosion coming from a bridge under a freeway. It would have been a miracle if they hadn’t and Lord knows Gavin was not having a day of miracles.

“Cops are coming.” Comes Ray’s surprisingly calm voice and the Vagabond merely sighs at the statement as though it was a slight inconvenience rather than a major setback.

“Get in the fucking car, Gavin.” Geoff orders the lad with a groan. When Gavin doesn’t move Jeremy hops out of the back and drags Gavin over himself. For a small guy Jeremy’s deceptively strong and Gavin is back on his feet in a matter of seconds. “Jack, find us somewhere to lie low… Gavin, try not to fuck up again and transmit our coordinates to the other’s phones, or do we need to worry that you’re going to destroy that too?” He sighs out sarcastically, running a hand down his face.

“Is no one going to bloody ask if I’m okay?” Gavin protests, checking himself for any injuries from the explosion. His ears are still ringing mildly but it wasn’t anything that wouldn’t pass.

“You walked to the car didn’t you, Gavin?” Jeremy points out. Gavin thinks that comment was a little harsh for someone who had only just joined the crew, plus technically he was dragged, and he’s almost about to retaliate until he hears Geoff sniggering from the front seat. Clearly it was Gavin who was in the wrong here whether he thought so or not.

For the second time Gavin slumps down into leather seats, sirens wailing in the distance but getting ever closer. The Fake AH Crew had a known reputation and unfortunately it sometimes consisted of slip ups like this; though often these slip ups were pranks. Gavin; ever fond of blowing up the most random vehicles in the strangest of places. Michael standing on top of the Maze Bank, firing rocket launchers at blimps. The LSPD will surely be able to figure it out which crew it was. After all, who else has the guts to try and blow up a dump in the first place?

Gavin sighs loudly, audible enough to show his boys he wasn’t happy but no one cared to respond, and pulls out his phone, setting to work hacking the GPS to transmit directly to his other boys. Today clearly wasn’t his day for impressing his crew; Golden Boy or not.

 


 

 

Finally, after waiting almost two hours in a tunnel beside the river the Los Santos Police Department gives up the search for the culprit of the ‘Exploding Dump’. The glorious title having been given by Ray and narrowly beating the competition ‘Dump Diarrhoea’ given by Jeremy on the grounds that it was a) disgusting and b) technically nothing to do with what happened. Jeremy just wanted to have a funnier answer since they were all five years old and thought shit was hilarious. Eventually Jack had, thankfully, told them all to shut up.

Gavin is the first out of the car. He couldn’t stand the thought of being in there much longer with Geoff glaring at him in the rear view mirror. Gavin had had to watch Geoff smothering his other boys in love - the way they acted when they weren’t on a heist - but he refused to join in on the action, feeling out of place and unwanted. It was, perhaps, an overreaction on Gavin’s part but he still felt like everyone was mad at him.

“Alright, does everyone know what to do?” Geoff checks for the final time, breaking Gavin out of his stupor and forcing him to pay attention. “The armoured car will be pulling into the garage in twenty minutes in order to refuel according to Gavin.” He explains for the final time. At least Gavin had managed to be of some use while trapped in the car with the others.

Jack pulls around a second car and climbs in, Gavin following while the others head off in different directions. Everyone has a job and everyone knows their place. Gavin pulls his phone once more and sets redirecting the traffic lights, giving the Fake AH crew more time to get to their pumping station.

When they arrive he immediately sets to work with forcing the door to the kiosk to stay closed and shutting down all cell service in the area. He’s determined to avoid another run in with the LSPD again today.

Jack parks a safe distance away and watches the armoured car roll in. Gavin is in the middle of shutting down all but one of the pumps in the gas station when he comes across some trouble. Interfering signals are stopping him from being able to close them all down properly. The rest of the crew wait for Gavin’s signal but all they’re getting through from the lad is intermittent noises of distress.

“Gavin, what the hell is going on?” Jeremy asks from where he’s loitering by one of the far pumps.

“I…. fuck…. Fuck this…” Gavin groans as his fingers tap away on his screen and even Jack has started to give him odd looks beside him.

“Gavin, Jesus Christ… can I shoot yet or not?” Michael hisses into his ear piece. The plan was to blow up just the pump the armoured car was using which would create enough force to blow the van open. Except Gavin was struggling to get them all offline with the four centre pumps still being active; a force far too large.

“I can’t get them down!” Gavin squeaks, “There’s some sort of signal jammer… my phone isn’t equipped to deal with this! I need my laptop!” He complains loudly.

The exclamation is met with loud groans and Gavin curls in on himself in his seat slightly, leather squeaking as he moves.

“I need to blow this thing up, Gavin. Can I do it?” Michael asks, the armoured truck almost done filling up and people inside the kiosk are beginning to notice that they can’t to get out of the building.

“Got it!” Gavin shouts in relief as he isolates one pump and orders Michael to shoot.

But, of course, bad luck comes in threes and unexpectedly the signal fails again just as Michael presses the trigger, and the centre four pumps become live again.

“No, wai-!”

In slow motion Gavin witnesses the entire gas station blow up in front of his eyes, all of his boys except Jeremy a safe distance away from the explosion. The heat can be felt a mile off and the entire ground rumbles with tremors as the sky lights up in front of Gavin’s eyes. His heart leaps to throat, fully aware that the mistake was his fault; that Jeremy was in danger; that his crew were screaming at him down the communicators.

He scrambles out of the car in fear, finding the entire area desolate and smoke rising from the scorching explosion. The Vagabond appears from the smoke, dragging an unconscious Jeremy with him and dropping him onto the ground. Luckily the man hadn’t been too close, running away as soon as he’d heard Gavin’s voice. It was the sheer force of the explosion that had knocked him out it seemed and there were no injuries to be seen.

Any cash that could have been grabbed by the crew is gone, blown to smithereens and burning to a crisp in the fiery flames.

“What the actual living fuck, Gavin?! What the fuck?! What the fuck?!” Michael curses, storming up to Gavin’s face and smacking him square in the chest. Usually when Michael is angry Gavin can see the affection in his boyfriend’s eyes but today they’re void and heartless. Michael looks at Gavin like he truly hates him, like he wants to punch him in the face over and over but it’s the Vagabond that manages to hold him back.

“You could have killed him!” Michael screams, voice cracking and hoarse as he battles against the Vagabond’s grip. “Let me go Ryan!” He yells. “I wanna fucking rip in two for being so fucking stupid.”

“Michael, no...” Ryan speaks and for a moment it shocks them all. The Vagabond doesn’t speak on heists but then, it’s really not a heist anymore is it? It’s a situation gone wrong.

The lad sinks into Ryan’s strong arms, silence washing over the group as they stare in pure horror.

That is, until, Geoff turns up. Having been the furthest away he came running towards the group standing beside the obliterated gas station.

“Gavin! Gavin you fucking cock-sucker! You had one fucking job, Gavin! One job!” Geoff practically shrieks, voice breaking in anger as he yells at the Brit, taking on from where Michael left off. “No actually… no you had three jobs. And do you know how many of those you fucked up?” He continues to yell. “Three!”

Geoff grabs at Gavin’s collar and looks him square in the eye. Ryan’s not there to hold Geoff back, his arms still pre-occupied by Michael who still has a face like thunder, eyes raging with fire as strong and as terrifying as the one behind them. Sometimes Gavin forgets that out on a heist they’re a crew not a polyamorous group of seven. Geoff is still technically a boss and Gavin can still technically be fired. But blowing up one your boyfriends could still land you in a break up. Gavin isn’t sure which one of these things he’s afraid of most but he breathes a sigh of relief when Geoff lets him go.

Gavin realises he hasn’t spoken yet but can’t find any words. Instead he glances between the faces of those standing around him.

A bad idea.

Michael is still cursing, now crouched down next to Jeremy after Ryan has released him when Geoff let go of Gavin. They’ve turned from angry curse words to those of worry. Gavin can hear him pleading Jeremy to be okay and in all honesty he wanted to do the same but he was frozen to the spot. Geoff is beginning to make calls, heading back to the car already to get someone to divert the LSPD long enough for them to get home. Someone on the B-team would have them covered.

Gavin looks to Jack for comfort but finds none. Instead he is met with a face of frustration. A face that says ‘I’m not angry, just disappointed’ and it’s a face that almost splits Gavin’s heart in two coming from Jack. He breaks eye contact with Gavin and scoops up Jeremy from the floor, carrying him back to the people carrier and taking Michael with him too who trails along behind still whispering to Jeremy.

The last person standing there is the Vagabond but it’s impossible to tell what he’s feeling, the mask covering his emotions, but Gavin assumes he’s mad too. He doesn’t speak, though that’s technically normal, just waves for Ray to come down from his sniper position and heads for the car.

Gavin’s left standing alone, watching his mistakes go up in smoke until he gets an angry yell from Geoff.

“Get your sorry ass in the car before the cops get here!”

 


 

 

That night Gavin sleeps on the edge of their bed. Custom made for a group of seven to sleep together comfortably it certainly had enough room to allow Gavin some extra space. The others are cuddled together for warmth, Jeremy in the middle of the bed since he was still recovering and even Ryan had joined in. He normally sleeps on the edge, suffering from insomnia and not wanting to wake the boys up if he decided to go for a wander in the dark. But tonight Ryan is in between Michael and Geoff, curled in on himself and sleeping soundly. Gavin is glad to see him like that, finally looking peaceful even if a tad exhausted. He assumes that today’s fucks ups sucked out the last of the Vagabond’s energy and Gavin couldn’t blame him. Ryan had had to hold back Michael twice more since returning home.

When Gavin had tried to get close to Jeremy to see how he was, Michael had stepped between the two and threatened to punch him in the nose if he even so much as touched the man. That hurt Gavin and even though Ryan had held Michael back and Jack had promised Gavin that he could see him if he wanted he’d decided to leave the situation alone.

Now Gavin can’t get close to his boys without feeling like they would push him away. He never sleeps on the edge, usually at least somewhere towards the middle. His favourite place was to be sandwiched between Jack and Ryan. Jack is the best for cuddling with and Ryan just has this way of making him feel safe. Of course, sleeping with Ryan is a rarity and Gavin’s even sadder that he has to miss out now. Instead Jeremy has to be pampered and loved which, Gavin supposes, is understandable. After all, the poor guy had been blown up a few hours ago.

Sirens are still wailing away from the disaster, the fire having spiralled out of control and spread a few blocks further than originally anticipated. He usually loves causing commotion but tonight Gavin feels strangely guilty and he just can’t place it. Rolling over again he turns away from the boys who are all sleeping soundly except Ray. Gavin can still see the light of the DS glowing from beneath the covers where he’s tucked under Geoff’s arm, nestled comfortably and small smile across his face.

Gavin tries to close his eyes for a moment but he’s moved even further away now and started to take the blanket with him. Michael huffs quietly.

“Gav…” He mutters, tugging at the blanket. “Gimmie…” He whines with a sigh. Gavin reluctantly lets go of his end and Michael happily wraps himself into the excess warmth before Ryan pulls him even closer, kissing his forehead sleepily.

Now without a blanket Gavin curls in on himself and tries to conserve his heat. It’s not particularly cold out but he feels empty without the feel of his boyfriends surrounding him and it’s wrong. He starts to shiver involuntarily and he doesn’t want to cry because wouldn’t that be weak? Gavin’s sensitive, yes, but not a baby. Geoff would tease him for crying over something like this, so would Michael and Ray really. Jack would be his best bet for comfort, maybe Ryan.

As he starts to sob quietly Gavin forces himself out the bed, abandoning his lonely patch on the mattress and quietly slipping from the room. If Ray is awake he doesn’t make any indication of knowing Gavin had left in distress. Instead Gavin easily slips from the room, bare feet padding from soft carpet onto wooden floors. He scrunches his toes in discomfort as he walks across the cold surface and towards the glass wall in the living room of the pent house.

Gavin can see across Los Santos. It’s a lot more orange than usual, smoke covering a large part of downtown. It’s the carnage of Gavin’s mistake and he finds it hard to believe that just five hours ago he was standing in the middle of that, watching Jeremy get swallowed up in the blaze. He wraps his arms around his middle and rests his forehead on the glass for a moment, closing his eyes. He makes mistakes all the time. Gavin can’t understand why the boys keep him around anymore.

It’s because they love you, idiot.

Or do they? No one’s spoken to him properly since they’ve returned home after all and that’s unusual for their crew. Everyone else is bubbly and bright but Gavin feels pushed into a corner.

His breath fogs up the glass and he straightens back up to wipe the marks away. Someone would probably kill him for making a mess. They’d probably kill him for anything right now. Gavin wipes his tears away harshly and takes a shuddering breath.

“Get a grip, Free…” He whispers to himself, wishing he had something around him rather than just a T-shirt and his boxers. He pulls himself away from the window, breaking his gaze from the plumes of smoke rising in the distance. One last look outside and he sees the flashing of helicopter lights as they try to control the fire.

Gavin sighs and closes his eyes where he stands, the pictures of the explosion replaying over and over behind his eyelids until he’s forced to shake his head to rid himself of the images. He’s starting to shiver again when he spots Jack’s jacket hanging on the back of one of the bar stools in the open kitchen. Gavin pauses for a moment. It would be warm. Big. Comforting to say the least.

Shuffling over Gavin picks up the jacket and instantly wraps it around himself. It drowns Gavin’s tiny frame, the sleeves hanging over his fingertips and Gavin can’t help but smile. He wanders to the couch and flops down onto the worn fabric.  Most of the furniture in the pent house was bought with heist money, it was the fanciest that the Fake AH Crew could find but the chair came from Ray’s old apartment before they’d all joined together. It had a large indent where Ray had spent many hours a day playing Call of Duty before joining as a sniper.

Gavin pulls the jacket around himself further and manages to calm his sobs into silent tears running down his cheeks. It smells like Jack and the scent is calming him already. If he closes his eyes and thinks hard enough he can pretend that the jacket is Jack himself.

 


 

 

The rest of the crew are the awake before Gavin in the morning. Ryan’s night of slumber didn’t last long and he had to wriggle his way out of the pile of bodies in the morning. He hops into the shower first and the falling water in the next room rouses the sleeping men. Jack is the next one up, disappearing into the bathroom to get washed while Ryan finishes his shower.

Luckily the boys didn’t have to all share, the pent house equipped with four separate bathrooms for them all to get ready in the morning. No one seems to notice that Gavin isn’t in the bed when they wake up, after all there’s seven of them to keep an eye on and the others are more focused on fussing over Jeremy.

Jeremy has woken up with a large headache and stiff joints but no noticeable injuries to everyone’s relief. Michael tells him not to move and that he’ll bring him breakfast that morning while Ray stays behind in bed to keep him company. Jeremy may try to push away the attention he was receiving but any fool could see he was loving it on the inside. If Gavin had seen he might just have started crying again.

Geoff follows Michael out to the kitchen and makes a cup of coffee, all the while Gavin still out like a light on the dark brown sofa. No one seems to ask where he is as they get on with their day, stopping to chat every so often. Michael starts making jokes about Geoff’s ‘Kiss The Chef’ apron he seemed to have donned over his boxers.

“I will most certainly comply.” Michael teases, pecking Geoff’s lips gently as he walks out with toast and orange juice for Jeremy.

It’s Jack that finally wakes Gavin from his sleep.

“Guys? Has anyone seen my jacket?” He shouts through the rooms, tearing apart the bedroom closet in an attempt to find it.

“Saw it in the kitchen yesterday!” Ryan replies from the bathroom, poking his head out from the door where he’s got half his face painted in Vagabond style. It’s a mildly terrifying sight and one that makes Ray jump for a second as he passes the doorway.

“You little shit.” Ray wails dramatically, clutching at his heart before Ryan hits him over the head with a hair brush. “Ow!” He whines. “Guys, there’s a murderer in the bathroom and he’s trying to concuss me!”

“Hey, come on! I need to find it.” Jack groans, pushing Ryan’s head back inside the bathroom as he passes and steering Ray into the kitchen.

“I told you! Kitchen!” Ryan declares as he disappears. Jack deposits Ray next to Geoff who gets his second kiss of the day.

“I’m definitely keeping this apron.” Geoff says with a smirk as Ray’s quick peck turns into a more forceful make out session by the cooker.

“Well, it’s not there now!” Jack says harshly before he enters the open plan living room. The constant shouting pulls Geoff and Ray apart with a sigh and Geoff rolls his eyes in exasperation. Ray chuckles quietly and hops up onto the counter, leaning his head on the top cupboards.

Gavin sits up with a small groan. He places a hand to his head and rubs at the spot between his eyes. The light coming from the glass walls of the penthouse was blinding and Gavin could already feel a headache coming on. It was probably from the explosion of the dump truck the day before and Gavin begins to wonder if he could wrangle some sympathy from his boys.

“Jack… stop shouting…” He moans quietly. “I’ve got your jacket.”

Jack pauses, huffs a sigh and heads over to the man on the couch.

“Gavin! I’ve been looking for that for twenty minutes!” Jack declares, putting a hand out abruptly. Apparently Gavin was definitely not going to get the sympathy he wanted. They were clearly still mad at him.

Gavin looks at it for a moment in shock before slipping the jacket from his shoulders. He balls it up in his palms and quietly hands it back to its owner.

“I’m sorry, Jack… I just, I was cold… and I…” Gavin starts to apologise but can’t find the words in time. He’s staring into Jack’s eyes but they’re cold and heartless like Michael’s were the day before and it makes Gavin take a step back. Jack’s eyes were always warm. They were full of love and adoration for the family he’s created but not this morning.

“I don’t care, Gavin! Don’t just take stuff without asking!” Jack scolds, treating Gavin like he was a child. Gavin recoils again, his head snapping round when he hears another voice

“Yeah! He took my shirt last week.” Geoff says, turning around from the oven. The smell of bacon starts to waft through the apartment, drawing out a hungry Ryan from the bathroom. He’s donned full make up now, carrying his mask in one hand.

“Takes my blanket all the time.” Ryan adds with a matter of fact nod, trying to steal a strip of bacon from the frying pan with his bare hands while Geoff isn’t looking. Ray slaps it away quickly.

“Stop it.”

Ryan rolls his eyes but he’s smiling all the same.

“Sorry.” He chuckles gently.

Gavin hasn’t heard any of this friendly morning joking, instead his mind is running wild with all the other things he does that could possibly piss off his boyfriends. Do they get mad when he uses their shampoo in the bathroom? What about when he steals popcorn from Jeremy’s bucket at the cinema? Oh god… does he snore when he sleeps and they just haven’t told him? They make fun of the fact he always has his mouth open… it’s possible he snores too, right?

Eyes wide like a startled deer Gavin then bolts for the nearest exit instead of excusing himself politely. He practically hurdles the sofa, somehow not tripping at all and runs for his office.

Jack’s left standing in the middle of the empty living room, staring at the spot Gavin had been only moments ago. He turns to the couch where the cushions are positioned as a pillow and the seat is a little crumpled from a nights worth of restless sleep. He frowns.

“Did Gavin sleep out here last night?” Jack asks the others as he puts on his jacket which was, at least, warm now Gavin had been wearing it.

“I don’t know…” Geoff admits, “I slept like a log after all that happened yesterday.”

“Oh, yeah. He got up at like one in the morning or something and didn’t come back to bed.” Ray answers and the others frown at him.

“Didn’t you ask him where he was going?” Geoff asks quickly.

“Look, someone’s always up at a ridiculous time in this house.” Ray says with a shrug. “If it’s not Ryan wandering about then it’s Gavin, or Michael… It’s not exactly uncommon for someone to sneak out at night and want to be alone.” He points out.

The smell of bacon burning is starting to come from the pan now because Geoff’s left it unattended for so long and Ryan groans at the sight.

Jack’s gaze follows Gavin’s path to the door and he sighs softly. “Someone needs to go and talk to him.” He tells the others firmly as Ryan slips on his Vagabond mask.

“Why can’t you go?” Geoff questions, raising an eyebrow to the other two quickly.

“Ryan’s getting some information from a rival gang leader that keeps sending us death threats. I’m going to supervise.” Jack says as though it was the most normal job in the world. The others were aware that Ryan getting information was going to involve some serious pain for this gang leader.

After all, the Vagabond was the Fake AH Crew’s main attack dog. Jack has a small smirk on his face as he speaks and pats Ryan’s shoulder. “Let’s go.” He orders before turning back to Geoff and Ray quickly. “And make sure someone talks to Gavin.” He reminds them.

“Yes dear, have a good day at the office, dear.” Geoff teases with a grin, pecking Jack on the cheek quickly as he and the silent Vagabond leave the building. He stares down at the burnt bacon and sighs, heading over to scrape it into the bin.

Ray hops down from the counter with a coy smile and turns off the burners with one hand. Geoff stares at him for a moment, head tilted to the side as he tries to work out Ray’s game here.

“Now that the others have finally stopped shouting…” Ray whispers softly, taking the frying pan from Geoff’s hand. “Maybe I can get back to obeying that apron?” He grins and Geoff does the same.

He waits no time before wrapping both arms around Ray’s waist and pulling the lad closer to him. Ray lets out a small laugh before their lips collide, the world disappears around them and their responsibilities are forgotten…

 


 

 

The brilliant thing about the pent house is the sheer size of the thing. When seven people live together, work together and sleep together the place needs to be big enough that everyone can have their own space.

Gavin has long had his own office in the pent house and it proves useful for more reasons than just working. It’s no secret that Gavin has the tendency to annoy the rest of the household and it’s been a good idea to have a room that he can lock himself in when Michael is yelling about killing him for spilling cereal on the bed. Gavin’s no longer allowed to eat breakfast in bed after it had happened a third time which he thinks is dreadfully unfair. Or like the time when Gavin accidentally crushed Jeremy’s sunglasses one morning. And again when he shot Geoff with a rubber band gun. In his defence, that particular time, he was actually aiming for Ray.

Today he sits in there again, curled up in his desk chair, door locked firmly behind him and hugging his knees silently. Breathing heavily, he closes his eyes tight and tries to rack his brain for some idea that could make them hate him less.

Gavin knows he lost them a lot of money last night, not that they really needed for survival reason, but a lot of planning had gone into that heist too. They’d been looking forward to that night for almost two weeks now and a lot of effort had gone into mapping that armoured truck’s route only for him to blow it with a myriad of mistakes. Literally.

No one followed him when he ran which Gavin is quite happy about really. He doesn’t want to be shouted at again for running away from the conversation. In here and alone Gavin is safe from accidentally pissing anyone off again today and clearly the others think the same. However he’s almost surprised. Jack normally won’t let arguments get too out of hand before making someone solve them. After all, in a house of seven it’s important that people get along. If not for the sake of their relationship but at least for their work. Today though, no one has even knocked on his door. Then again Jack had been the person that was the angriest this morning, right? Maybe Jack hadn’t wanted to bother getting the situation fixed he was so mad?

Normally Gavin takes this stuff on the chin. He wears the joking insults proudly and even spurs them on with his stupid hypothetical situations that almost makes it too easy for the rest to tease him. Except, that’s done in a good nature. Gavin can hear the affection in their voices, see the adoration in their eyes because even if they think that Gavin is an idiot; he’s their idiot and, god, they wouldn’t change that for the world.

Today Gavin isn’t so sure about that.

The spark is gone from Gavin’s eye and the smirk he normally holds strong is wiped from his face. The golden boy with the golden tongue that’s lost its edge.

“You can do something to fix this…” He murmurs to himself, dropping his knees from where they rested on the metal lining of the desk. Gavin inhales deeply, straightens his back and drums his fingers against the wooden surface. “They’re mad at you for fucking up the heist… you lost them money.” He reasons for a moment, chewing on the inside of his cheek in thought.

Gavin turns to stare out of the office window for a moment. Outside Ray and Jeremy are sitting out by their pool, Michael in the water and splashing up at the other two lads with a grin on his face. Jeremy still looks a little worse for wear and the boys aren’t letting him move off the sun lounger but at least he’s up and about.

“They’re also mad at you about Jeremy… nothing much you can do about that though.” Gavin says with a sigh. He runs a hand across his face and pulls his gaze away from the happenings outside; it would only serve to upset him probably.

He twists in his chair so now he’s facing the wall and scans his surroundings for inspiration. On the walls are the plans for the heist he screwed up, the algorithms for stopping the petrol flow to the pumps is tacked up and the dimensions of the armoured truck are beside it with the estimation of the cash they would have taken. Gavin stares at it for a moment.

If he can make back that money they lost for the crew then surely that solves half the problem he’s been having with his boys? As for Jeremy, he can make it back up the man by taking him out somewhere later, maybe roping him in for a cuddle session on the couch, probably more. He’ll think of something that’s for sure.

Gavin sets to work quickly. He pulls out his keyboard and starts doing his research. The lad’s in his element here, fingers tapping away at a rapid pace as his eyes flick across the screen. This is what Gavin’s good at. His brain works even faster than his fingers as he scans the web for information. There’s a lot of rival gangs in Los Santos though Gavin doesn’t really need the internet to find that out. The Fake AH Crew is good at making enemies whether it be the good guys of the city or some particularly bad guys. What he needs the internet for is to piece the information together.

Using various articles Gavin manages to pin down one exact crew. He learns about their jobs, their preferred weapons and eventually manages to track down their base in the city. The FAHC have come across this gang before and it didn’t end in new found friendships, that’s for certain. Gavin wouldn’t mind stealing several thousand dollars from these people if he can.

Once he’s found the building in question Gavin starts to bring up the floor plans of the building. He works all day, rooting around into files he shouldn’t be in thanks to the surprisingly flimsy security of the Los Santos Police Department and even manages to find the security camera layout. It doesn’t take much of Gavin’s brain power to remember where the cameras point, where the weak points in their boundaries sit and the system to hack into the main security.

Gavin’s confident in his research, in his hacking abilities once he gets there and he’s even sure on his ability not to screw this up like he did the other day. He’s looked at where a stronghold of cash lies within this gang’s base and he’s worked out a complete path to get in and out without being caught by a single detector.

“You really need better protection.” Gavin laughs to himself as the algorithm to disable the outer security transfers onto his phone. The glint is back in the hacker’s eye as he smirks at the screen, spinning his phone in his fingertips with a happy grin. The other’s may still be mad at him for all he knows but he’s almost certain this will win back their affections and if not… well, at least he’ll have some money to set up by himself.

Not one of his boys set foot in his office all day. He was left to his own devices, in his own little world surrounded by computers and codes. Gavin might have thought more on it if he wasn’t pre-occupied with the idea of single-handedly sending a rival gang into bankruptcy but apparently hacking and theft were enough to keep a man distracted from his crumbling relationships.

 


 

 

That evening Gavin disappears from the pent house. It’s not hard for him to sneak through the open plan apartment where Ray has fallen asleep on the sofa and Geoff is sat at the table playing cards with Ryan. Clearly Jack and Ryan had returned from the day’s work in one piece not that anyone has bothered to come and find him.

The sound of water suggests that Jack is probably showering and Gavin is pretty sure he’d heard them return only twenty minutes ago. He imagines Jack is washing off the bloodstains from his skin, more than likely that of the rival gang leader than of him or the Vagabond but it would be plentiful all the same.

Michael is perched behind Geoff on the window sill, suggesting strategies for the man to use.

“I’m pretty sure this counts as cheating…” Ryan says though he doesn’t look exactly mad.

“It’s not… it’s using resources.” Geoff shrugs.

“Still cheating.” Ryan points out. “Doesn’t matter what you want to call it.”

“Is it still cheating if I come round there and tell you what he’s got?” Michael smirks and Geoff looks horrified at the idea.

“Well, maybe I’d consider letting it go.” He chuckles in return and Geoff’s expression only grows.

“Oh relax.” Michael laughs, rolling his eyes and patting Geoff’s head.

Gavin can’t see Jeremy anywhere so he assumes he must be asleep in the master bedroom since he can’t imagine any of the gents allowing him to work today. He hopes that he’s okay and moves forward.

Nobody is in the kitchen of the apartment and even though it’s all technically one large room Gavin can crouch behind the breakfast bar to try and head for hall door. He crawls across the ground, and checks behind himself to make sure he’s not visible.

WHACK!

Gavin crawls head first into an open cupboard door and immediately curses Ray for leaving it that way in the first place. He’s always doing things like that and now Gavin has a throbbing pain in his head at which he grits his teeth to stop himself from making any noise. Normally an open cupboard resulted in a sore knee or maybe a bent toe but being at head height had its disadvantages.

“You fucker…” He hisses softly, not loud enough for anyone to hear him but just enough that Gavin feels better for saying it.

He hurries towards the door and pauses for just a second to grab the keys to his bike which rattle around as he pulls them out of the bowl. It gets everyone’s attention for a moment but Ryan passes it off as a noise from an open window and they continue on with their game.

Gavin finally makes it out of the door to the main apartment and gets back to his feet. He checks his face in the shiny doors of the elevator as he waits for it to travel to the top floor. There’s a red mark on the bridge of his nose but nothing major. It doesn’t matter anyway because Gavin pulls out his trademark sunglasses and places them across his nose with his trademark grin.

He travels down the elevator and into the basement to their garage where he makes a stop off at the armoury and collects his gun. It’s pocketed with ease and Gavin is suddenly filled with confidence. He’ll break in, steal the cash and come home. His boys will love him again, the fighting will stop and maybe Michael will let him near Jeremy again.

Spinning the keys in his fingers as he walks towards his bike he kicks a leg over the seat and presses the button to open up the doors. Gavin drives out of there at an ungodly speed and heads down the freeway. He’s memorised the route to the other base and even if he hadn’t his phone is chirping out directions on the GPS as he drives which he has to admit it vaguely annoying.

“Turn left now.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Keep straight ahead.”

“I know! Jesus shut the fuck up!”

“Take the next left.”

“Ugh…”

When he arrives he parks down the street so as to not arouse any suspicion with his vehicle. The Fake AH Crew don’t exactly travel in an inconspicuous manner with their logo printed on almost everything they own so Gavin just hopes no one spots it where he’s hidden it in a bush.

He climbs off and strolls down the street quite casually. He’s aware of his phone in his shirt pocket and his gun creating a bulge in the back but that feels almost as natural to him as breathing. He stops to the side of the fence and takes a quick glance up at the security cameras. He knows if he stands directly under them then he can’t be seen.

Jamming the signal to the gate with his phone in order to unlock it he continues walking with a smile and quickly slips through the gap that’s been created. If he stays calm enough and just acts like he belongs then he won’t seem out of the place. The building is large and the crew even larger, he doubts this could be a place where everyone knows everyone around them. Gavin could pass for a new IT guy if he tried.

He reaches the front door and stands to the side of one of the cameras that he’s worked out has broken on its axis. He pulls out his phone and stands in front of the key pad that unlocks the entrance.

4759

Numbers flash onto his phone screen and he punches them in quickly.  To Gavin’s relief the door beeps and slides open. He smirks and pockets the phone with a grin. The easy bit is done. Now to navigate the building without being caught.

Gavin steps towards the door and closes the first behind him. Next is a glass lobby door and as he turns to face it properly he almost jumps out of his skin.

Three women and two more men on top of that are stood in the lobby of the building having a conversation. Gavin is so shocked his feet refuse to move at first and his brain tries to compute what to do next. Except Gavin is stuck. If he moves someone is going to see him. If he doesn’t then sooner or later someone would turn around anyway.

After a few moments Gavin decides to make a break for it though he doesn’t turn around. Instead he runs head first into the lobby, which, when he thinks about it, was the worst mistake of his life. One of the females of the rival gang has reflexes like a cat. Gavin is met with the wrong end of a gun and wicked grin; both of which are aimed right at his head.

Before he can reach for his own gun the trigger has been pulled but it’s not pointing at his brain anymore.

Searing pain shoots through his shin and Gavin drops to the ground.

Chapter Text

The Fake AH Crew are a team and suddenly Gavin understands why. As he falls to the ground, a bullet in his leg and pain wracking his limbs he realises. Each member has his strength and that’s exactly why they’re needed. It’s why they’re a crew, a family and each other’s goddamn life lines.

Smaller jobs they take on their own. They’re all talented in their own right. Gavin’s good at what he does, of course. He’s the boy with golden gun… but this is too much. Gavin’s good with weapons, he’s brilliant with a parachute, but he’s better at hacking.

Jeremy would have been sent in here first. The man can enter anywhere unseen, an unnoticed killer lurking in the shadows. He wouldn’t have been spotted in the lobby, he would have been hiding in some sort of nook and cranny as he waits for his opportune moment to strike and clear a path for the rest of the crew.

Michael is brilliant in a firefight. Guns blazing, shoot now think later mind set and everything needed in a fight. The lad would have ploughed through this gang like a bulldozer and Gavin can only imagine that Ryan would have been hot on his tail. Fire, explosions and chaos would reign if those two had been allowed in first. There wouldn’t have been a building left to rob by the end.

That’s were Geoff would have come in. He’d have kept the control, the peace, somehow even if it didn’t always look like it. Geoff is, of course, their leader and a damn good one at that. His crew are obedient, the Vagabond his own personal attack dog at times and each and every member would easily die for that man. Not that he’d ever let them.

While Geoff was the front man in charge, it wasn’t difficult to see that behind him was the much quieter Jack. The gent was always stationed with a getaway vehicle, no man left behind on his watch. If Geoff told the crew to attack, Jack was right behind with the most careful of advice, the strategies no one else seemed to think of in their excitement. He would have kept Gavin safe out there, would have warned him, no doubt, that there maybe people in that lobby. Gavin would have listened.

As for Ray. If Ray had been there those gang members would have been dead before they could shout for help. Sitting high up in the trees Ray would have shot them within seconds, eliminating this entire problem completely.

However, Gavin is an idiot.

He is an idiot with an aching heart and now an aching body.

Because the Fake AH Crew aren’t there to help him. They aren’t there to lend him a hand in a sticky situation. There’s no Jeremy to sneak in, no Ray to snipe down his enemies. No Michael or Ryan to attack. No Geoff to give him orders and no Jack to keep him safe.

Gavin’s down on his knees, a gun to his head and a pool of blood on the floor.

And it’s his own damn fault.

He doesn’t stand a chance; down here on the ground. Though he’s barely able to stand let alone run. And anyway, Gavin doesn’t run unless it’s head first into danger.

The lad glances to up to where the gun is pointed at his head and it’s a bold move but he takes it anyway. He slowly moves one of his hands towards his back pocket where he kept his gun. It’s still sitting there untouched, still as natural as it is to keep your phone in your pocket.

Pain is starting to creep up to his kneecaps but he can’t move too fast.

“That’s Gavin Free…” One of the men whispers to the others. “From the Fakes…” He adds and Gavin can only hope they’re too engrossed in who he is to notice that he’s slowly reaching for his weapon.

“Where the fuck’s the rest of them?” The woman who shot him asks and Gavin tries not to grimace.

His hand has just reached his pocket when someone notices. A dark haired male kicks him in the side and Gavin splutters a little. His hand retracts from his pocket to catch himself before his face hits the ground.

“Knock him out before he causes any trouble.” Gavin hears and before he knows it someone’s grabbed hold of the collar on his shirt. He squawks a little in surprise as his feet try to catch him but the pain shoots up his leg and it buckles beneath him.

Two more hands take hold of him and suddenly Gavin can’t make out the world around him. The agony of his injury is making the world around him spin and nothing seems the right way up anymore. Abruptly, the butt of a gun connects with his temple. He grunts loudly before hanging limp in the rival gang’s arms, the world coming to a steady halt and dissolving into distressing darkness.


 An hour later Gavin wakes up tied to a chair. It doesn’t dawn on him at first where he is. It’s uncomfortable, like he accidentally fell asleep sat up playing Halo again. As he shifts in his seat he groans softly, his head throbbing and hanging heavily to the side.

“Guys… what time is it…?” Gavin murmurs into the darkness, his eyes not open and reality not yet set in. He believes himself to still be at home, the entire ordeal a nightmare brought on by late night shooting games with his boys. “Ryan…?” He calls out first, assuming if someone would be up it would be their insomnia suffering Vagabond.

“I’m afraid not, Mr Free.” An unknown man sneers in the darkness and Gavin’s eyes spring open. The lad calls out in shock, almost tipping his chair back as he attempts to scramble away but the stranger stops it with his foot. “Careful, Mr Free… don’t want to damage you anymore. You’re precious goods.” He chuckles.

Gavin may be disorientated and in a lot of pain he’s never one to give in.

“Fuck off.” He spits, eyes narrowing at the man in the dark. With his good leg Gavin kicks the man away from him and watches as he stumbles off to the side. It makes Gavin chuckle. “Mind your step as you go.” He smirks.

“Oh, Mr Free. Don’t make this more difficult on yourself. You’ve just got to answer a few questions.” The stranger says calmly. In his fingertips is a small knife and he’s dragging it across his skin in a bored fashion.

“I’m not telling you anything.”

“You haven’t heard the question yet, how can you be so sure?”

“Because I’m not a mangy little prick, that’s why.” Gavin declares. He’s loyal to his crew whether they’re mad at him or not. He’s not selfish in that respect. Gavin has more guts than to rat them out because they were mean to him and, after all, this crew has no idea that the Fake AH Crew and him are on rocky ground right now.

“We just want to know where our leader is.” The man asks with a shrug. “It’s a simple question. Last we saw of him he was in your side of town. It was actually convenient of you to drop by.” He admits and Gavin’s heart sinks.

He should have recognised the name when he researched them, it should have been on the forefront of his mind. This crew was all over the Fake AH Crew’s meeting board. This was a crew they’d fallen out with in the past… a crew that wanted them dead and had been very vocal about it too.

This morning when Jack wanted his jacket to go out with Ryan it had been for a very particular reason. Ryan was being sent to capture a gang leader – this gang leader - and get the information from them about their workings. Gavin closes his eyes for a moment.

The blood, the long showers Jack took when he came home yesterday… all those things that Gavin noticed as he was sneaking out really pointed to one thing. This gang leader was dead. Without a doubt.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” Gavin lies easily. He lets his head fall back on the chair for a second as he shifts where he sits into a comfier position.

“Yes you do.”

“No I don’t.”

“You do.”

“I don’t.”

“I’m more inclined to think that you do.”

“You’re bloody crap at this, mate.”

Suddenly a fist comes flying towards Gavin’s face. It hits him hard across the bridge of his nose and Gavin hears the crack before he feels the pain.

“You bastard!” He practically shrieks in his attackers face and he’s clocked around the temple once more. Gavin’s head slumps forward and his breathing slows as he falls back into unconsciousness.

The man flexes his knuckles before walking through the door.

“Keep an eye on him. He’s got a mouth on him.” He tells the person by the door.


 

The next time Gavin wakes he can’t be sure how much time has passed. He’s still tied to the chair and the ropes are starting to cut into his wrists painfully. He doesn’t make the mistake of misplacing himself this time.

The situation has escalated somewhat and now Gavin’s bleeding considerably more than he was before, and for the life of him he can’t remember why. There’s cuts he doesn’t remember being inflicted, aching bones that he doesn’t remember hitting and he’s exhausted too.

Gavin opens his eyes finally and glances around the dark room. It’s pitch black except for the light that escapes from under the locked door. All he can see is his legs tied together in front of him and the blood splatters on the floor. He realises, then, that the wound on his leg has been tied up and the bleeding stopped.

Someone else clearly doesn’t want Gavin to die either, which can only be a good thing for him, right? Although that means that someone is bound to come back to him, to inflict more pain and leave again in a vicious circle till be blabs or dies. Except not die. Because Gavin is the key to information that they don’t know he holds.

Gavin finds it so easy to lie. Words drip from his tongue and with the right smile and tone they’re accepted by anyone who happens to hear them. He can tell this group that he knows nothing until the cows come home and eventually he’ll even start to believe it himself.

They won’t kill him though because even if they trust he knows nothing about their leader, it doesn’t take a genius to know that Gavin has information on other things. They’ll keep him alive just for that, no doubt. And if information is not what they want from him; they’ll keep him alive through fear.

Because Gavin is Geoff’s golden boy.

If Gavin dies they won’t just a have a body to worry about but a whole crew on their backs. Fake AH Crew; both the A team and B. Fakehaus would be roped into the mess if they’re not careful. Maybe even Burnie, Gus, Joel and Matt if the group were particularly unlucky.

If Gavin dies there’ll be hell to pay and he can count on that.

It’s odd how that notion is calming. How nice it is to know that his passing would be avenged in the most destructive way possible. There’d be tears, he hopes. Gavin would assume people would mourn him, if not his biological family but the one he’s made with the crew.

His boyfriends. His best friends. His whole entire universe wrapped up in one penthouse under the stars of Los Santos.

If Gavin dies he’ll never be forgotten.

His body goes oddly stiff.

This isn’t the first time that Gavin’s woken up tied to a chair. It’s not the first time he’s experienced so much pain.

But it is the first time he’s known that no one is coming for him.

The guys don’t know where he is, they’re not even aware that he’s missing! Though they may be now… surely it’s been long enough for them to notice? Would they even care? How mad were they about that heist… the jacket… Jeremy.

Gavin suddenly feels sick to his stomach.

Do they even care right now?

He has a horrible feeling that they don’t.

“I can’t find him anywhere.”

“I’ve checked his bedroom, his office… the meeting room. Not in there either.”

“He’s not in the master bedroom.”

“Not in the kitchen or any of the bathrooms.”

“Not outside.”

The pent house is a mess. There’s stuff thrown everywhere, all the doors open, every single wardrobe ransacked and they still can’t find Gavin. The boys were all convened in the living room now; except Jeremy who had gone to check the basement and the armoury as a last resort. They weren’t holding out much hope.

“Where’s he gone…?” Geoff asks as though the others know any more than he does. The crew don’t even snap, just shrug their shoulders and stare at each other helplessly.

Jack makes his way to the kitchen and leans over the counter, placing his head on the cool surface.

“What did he say when you went to talk to him this morning?” Jack asks Geoff, “Was he okay then? Acting strange?”

Geoff turns an unhealthy shade of green and Ray starts fiddling with the stray threads on his jumper.

“I… I might not have gotten to Gavin.” Geoff admits quietly, chewing on his bottom lip. “I might have gotten distracted.”

Jack’s eyes widen and he immediately straightens up, heading back into the open space of the living room.

“Geoff!” He yells loudly, “I asked you talk to him! What the hell was more important than making sure your boyfriend was okay?”

“Making out with Ray…” Geoff says quietly and Ray shoots him a death glare for throwing him under the bus but Geoff has suddenly found his voice. “And anyway, I didn’t see you going to check he was okay when you got back?” He points out angrily.

“I’m sorry! I was a bit busy washing all the fucking blood out of my hair because last time someone complained that I dripped it all over the furniture!”

“You didn’t have the time to check on Gavin after that?”

“You didn’t have the time to check on him almost seven hours beforehand when I first asked you to do it?”

“You shouted at him when he woke up this morning! He probably thought you we were still mad at him!”

“Well I didn’t see you jumping to his defence!”

“Well I’m sorry for being such a fuck up!”

Geoff’s voice reaches a pitch that only dogs can hear and Ryan’s forced to intervene before one of them throws the other out of the window.

“Guys, stop.” He says sternly, standing between the two who are now so close to each other’s faces that they might as well kiss and make up. Ryan puts a hand on each of their chests and pushes them apart carefully. “Don’t start fighting each other when we should just focus on finding Gavin, alright? We can post blame later if we really have to but now is not the time.”

Michael hasn’t moved this entire time and Ray’s looking sheepish from where he’s perched on the edge of the sofa.

Jack sighs softly and nods. He knows that Ryan is right, that finding Gavin is more important than figuring out whose fault this is. After all, they don’t have a clue what happened. He reaches forward and takes Geoff’s hands into both of his own. Their leader stiffens for a moment but soon relaxes.

“We’ll find him, Geoff, I promise.” Jack says quietly, pulling Geoff towards him and kissing the top of his head gently. “I know you’re worried.” He murmurs as Geoff sinks into his chest.

“I called him a cock-sucker…” Geoff whispers. “He could be gone forever… and the last thing I did was shout at him.”

“We all shouted at him, Geoff. It wasn’t just you. I shouted at him this morning. I probably drove him over the edge.” Jack reassures gently, pulling away from Geoff to look him the eye. “But he’s not gone forever because we don’t give up until we find him, alright?”

Geoff nods quickly and glances over to Michael who’s still staring at the floor.

“Are you okay, buddy?” Geoff asks the curly haired lad, letting go of Jack carefully to make his way over to Michael. Michael nods but he’s already brushing tears from his eyes.

“I don’t want him to be dead, Geoff… I’ll kill him if he’s dead.” He grumbles and Jack can’t help but chuckle sadly.

“We all will, Michael.”

There’s a silence that hangs over them all for a moment as Michael is pulled into a hug by Geoff and both of them are easily enveloped by Jack’s large frame. Ryan has quietly moved over to Ray, taking the lad into his arms and holding him close.

Jeremy’s voice breaks through the moment.

“Guys, his bikes gone from downstairs. His guns gone too.”


Gavin takes a deep breath. He’s been awake and alone for almost half an hour now and he hopes it’ll stay that way for a while. Nobody’s been to check he’s awake and Gavin hasn’t made any indication that he is.

The Brit needs a plan of attack. Whether his crew hate him or not. Whether they’d avenge him or not he needs to try and at least get out of these binds that hold him in place.

He closes his eyes for a moment and inhales calmly, a cool smirk settling across his lips. For all of the show that Gavin puts on he’s definitely not as stupid as everyone thinks. Geoff’s told him multiple times that he wishes Gavin would just show people his brains, his prowess, in the field in which he works.

There’s a reason Gavin is the golden boy. It’s not that he’s Geoff’s favourite. It’s not that he hogs the limelight but it’s because he’s a goddamn prodigy in his own right.

Geoff found Gavin when he was young, wandering the streets of Los Santos alone. This British kid who had fled his country, his family and his home in hopes for better things. Things that, when he’d discovered Gavin’s abilities, he gave to the lad without question.

Gavin works in wondrous ways. He thinks of ideas that no one else could with his odd hypothetical situations and his strange way of looking at things. It wasn’t long before Geoff and Jack realised just how good the kid was with computers, often stationing him back in the pent house to assist heists from there until they felt confident that Gavin would be safe in the field. Gavin’s tongue proved useful on heists, as did his ability to hold himself in a fight when those days came.

Their group has grown considerably since then though with Michael, Ray, Ryan and Jeremy joining them in order to create the crew they have now. Yet still, Gavin was the golden boy.

It’s a name everyone in Los Santos associates him with though only Geoff and Jack know the true meaning behind it. When the crew expanded, Gavin didn’t need to be an all singing, all dancing wonder kid in order to hold his place with the Fakes. They gained Ryan; every bit the killer that Gavin had the potential to be but more. Michael came in with his firefights and battles and then Gavin didn’t have to be as spectacular with a gun. Ray entered with his sniping abilities and Jeremy with his sneaky assassin skills and suddenly Gavin could be what he was truly good at. A hacker.

Gavin slowly created an image for himself over time. The image that he was dumb and idiotic, that he couldn’t do too much right and eventually only the important people knew what he was capable of. Gavin is happy with it that way. His true personality is clumsy and loud and it’s what he likes to be. It’s what his boyfriends like him for. It’s who he honestly is when he’s not trying too hard.

The other brilliant thing about not everyone in Los Santos knowing what he is capable of is the fact that they’re not expecting it. It comes in handy when evading capture, or escaping imprisonment, if your attacker doesn’t realise how smart you are.

Gavin may have slipped up earlier but he wasn’t thinking right. He was rushed and panicked. Angry and upset. But now he has a cool head on his shoulders and he as ready to fight.

The lad can feel the adrenaline pumping through his veins and it’s beginning to block out the pain in his leg and god knows what else that is wounded. His heart is beating faster, so much so that he can feel the pounding in his ears and he knows he can do this. He knows he can escape and return home whether they want him there or not because he’s not a fuck up. He’s worth his weight in gold.

The door opens.

In steps the same man from before and Gavin fights back a groan at the idea that this, rather awful, interrogator is back for another go. As he steps aside from the doorway the light hits Gavin’s eyes and he squints a little. It’s been hours in pitch black and the brightness burns his retinas.

As he blinks away the spots that are forming in his vision he catches sight of the blood on the floor. It’s thick and pooling and Gavin can only assume it resided inside his body at some point. The idea of that makes him gag a little and the man chuckles.

“I’m still not telling you anything.” Gavin declares, determined to get the first word in. The man shakes his head.

“You don’t know anything to tell, right?” He asks with an evil smirk.

“Right.” Gavin replies.

The man pulls out the same knife as before. While it’s not yet been used it suddenly gets dangerously close to Gavin’s neck. He blinks quickly. Gavin’s not afraid but he’d rather not show his attacker so he pulls back a little, flinching away.

“Don’t be scared…” The man says quietly, getting closer and closer to his face. He’s so close to Gavin that he can see every blemish on the man’s face even in this low light. Gavin’s still trying to pull away. “Just tell me where my leader is… and I won’t hurt you.” The stranger continues, pushing further into Gavin’s personal space.

Suddenly Gavin throws himself forwards towards the man. The momentum carries him forward and he head butts his attacker at a considerable force. It knocks him out but now Gavin’s chair has fallen too and he’s sprawled on the floor beside his unconscious rival.

He really shouldn’t have used his head because now he’s lying on the floor in more pain than he thought possible with blood running into his eyes. He scrunches his nose a little and pain shoots across his face as he remembers the punch from earlier. It’s a blinding sort of pain, coupled with the disorientation of smashing his head into a flesh covered bowling ball and Gavin’s still waiting almost a minute later for the white spots to disappear from his vision and his head to stop lolling around on the ground where he lays.

During the collision the man had dropped his knife onto the floor and when Gavin can see straight again he spots it close by. He takes a deep breath and wiggles across the ground with his entire body to try and get within grasping reach.

It takes a few moments for him to make it but eventually, after a lot of panting and groaning, Gavin is close enough to take the knife into his hands. He reaches forward but is suddenly stopped by a sharp pain in his hand.

Gavin’s confused momentarily because he doesn’t remember hurting his hand at all.

It all comes back to him quickly though.


 

Gavin wakes to a hand slapping him around the face. His head jolts to the side and he groans softly as his eyes flicker open. He doesn’t see much, the light still dim and his head still foggy.

“Tell us what you fucking know!” A woman screams at him and Gavin frowns. It’s a shrill voice and it pierces his ear drums painfully. Gavin grimaces.

“Oh brilliant…” He sighs out. “Good cop, bad cop.” Gavin raises his head and looks her straight in the eyes. “Except you’re all ‘shit at your job’ cop.”

“Don’t play dumb with me, Free.” She hisses. The woman gets closer and soon she’s behind his chair, crouched down and untying his ropes.

“What are you doing?” Gavin asks cautiously, twisting in his binds to try and keep her in his sights. He spends so long trying to see this woman that he doesn’t notice the other’s slowly entering the room.

Suddenly his hands are free and his chair is being tipped up onto two legs. Gavin starts to slip and he tries to stand but his leg buckles beneath him from the pain and he ends up on the ground anyway. When he pushes himself up with arms he spots everyone else that’s in the room too now and the door closes behind them.

The room is void of light but filled with sound. People start shouting and Gavin assumes they’re asking him questions but he can’t even make out the words. Before he realises it, he’s yelling out in pain.

“Stop!” Gavin screeches to try and clear the noise but that’s when the attacks start.

Someone’s foot connects with his back and another with his stomach. Gavin starts writhing on the ground, trying to escape the blows as best he can, but the more he moves the harder they attack. He assumes someone must have grabbed a weapon because he feels cool metal drag across his skin.

In the middle of this ambush he barely feels anything but it’s a new, different kind of pain that it awakens his senses all over again. Gavin tries not to scream, as what he assumes is a dagger, is pressed into his side. It cuts him deep and blood spills onto the floor.

“Tell us what you know!” A man shouts and Gavin shakes his head.

“Nothing! I know nothing!” He yells. Gavin won’t tell. They’d have to kill him first before he spills any secrets. Gavin is strong and Gavin is loyal. He’ll keep his mouth shut to the very end.

“You’re lying!” A woman accuses; the same woman as before.

“I’m not!”

All of sudden Gavin’s screaming out in agony. The woman stamps on his hand, crushing the bone beneath the heel of her combat boots. He swears he can see her smirking in the darkness.

“Try again.” She tells him sternly.

“I’m telling the truth!” Gavin lies and the heel comes down again. He screams once more and rolls onto his back where sometimes kicks him in the side.

“Idiot.” The woman sighs and Gavin doesn’t know what’s about to come next. It turns out she gives the rest of the men free rein on Gavin and before he knows it the pain blurs into one. It doesn’t hurt anymore; he just wishes it would stop as he’s thrown about the room.

Gavin’s almost lost the will to live but not his loyalty to the crew. He continues screaming his innocence on the matter until someone knocks his head into the wall and he falls unconscious all over again.


 

 “Bastards…” Gavin hisses a little and takes a deep breath. He ignores the pain and grabs hold of the knife anyway. Using his good hand he manages to fiddle the blade into the correct position and after a lot of careful movements; that only ended in him cutting himself twice, Gavin has sawed through his ropes.

His arms break free and he moans quietly at the freedom he feels from being able to move his body again properly. The adrenaline kicks back in and suddenly the pain of his hand is fading away, and is instead replaced with the rush of excitement that he actually stands a chance of getting out of this hellhole alive.

Gavin forces himself to sit up. With his good hand he cuts through the ropes that hold his feet to the chair. It’s significantly easier than trying to cut the ones around his hands and behind his back so he’s free almost instantly.

He gets to his feet in a wobbly manner and glares down at the man who’d been interrogating him. Gavin holds no mercy for those who stand in his way; not anymore at least. He bends over, leaning on the chair for support and slits his attacker’s throat for good measure.

“At least no one has to suffer through your shit interrogating skills again.” Gavin snorts derisively as he stumbles out of the room and into the bright light of the hallway.

His day of memorising floor plans and security cameras for this building comes in handy now because now he’s able to move around easily. Being inside was never going to be the hard part for Gavin, he knows where everyone is, where everything lies.

He’s surprised to find the corridor deserted but Gavin’s not going to complain. It seems odd that nobody is guarding him, it’s almost too easy to leave his prison.

Hobbling down the corridor, unable to bear too much weight on his damaged leg, Gavin’s already making for the back entrance. He remembers the broken fence panel in the garden that he found when researching. He can slip through and onto the main road where hopefully his bike is still be hidden.

Gavin leaves his empty corridor and heads into another hallway. It must be late at night by now because the amount of people around are considerably less than Gavin would have imagined. The few people he come across are obliterated.

He’s still holding the knife in his hand when he spots his first victim. Gavin kills with ease, not even looking back as he sneaks up behind them and slits their throat. It feels strange. Good. Empowering. In this moment Gavin is unstoppable.

High on adrenaline Gavin’s eyes are pinned wide open. He looks like a mad man, breathing heavily, and covered in blood as he clutches his only weapon tight. His knuckles are white and his entire being is trembling. He can’t the feel the pain in his head anymore, nor his leg or his hand. There’s a dull ache but it’s nothing to slow him down.

But his chest is heaving and his muscles are probably screaming at him to stop but everything is silenced. It’s all muzzled by his desire to get back home. And his desire to kill everything in his path…

Gavin murders anyone he sees. He’ll punch them down to the ground, fight them until he wins but always finishes them off by slitting their throats.

Eventually the building is on high alert and more members of the gang start appearing from doors. Some of them have clearly just woken up and it’s almost too easy for Gavin to beat them.

“Give me more of a challenge, guys…” Gavin chuckles as he slits the throat of another woman.

He’s been tracking his path and if he remembers correctly then through this next door is the last hallway before the back entrance. Gavin slips through, looking at the carnage he’s left behind. Bodies lie dead on the floor, pools of blood by their heads and Gavin smirks dangerously.

He sprints down the hallway and towards the door. There’s nothing in his way to freedom until a woman blocks his path. Gavin stops for a moment. He instantly recognises her as the woman who shot him in the lobby. God, he fucking hates her.

“Where are you going, Free?” She asks and Gavin’s eyes widen. Her voice, high pitched and shrill is the same voice from before. The same voice that tipped him from his chair. The same voice that broke his hand.

“Well, if it isn’t bad cop.” Gavin sighs loudly. He would love nothing more than to put a bullet in her brain.

Unfortunately he doesn’t have a gun.

Still, there’s only one thing blocking him from freedom and it’s this godforsaken woman.

Gavin spins the knife in the fingers of his good hand and narrows his eyes. He starts running, ignoring his leg’s protest, his arm pulls back and the last thing this woman sees is Gavin’s trademark grin as he throws his one and only weapon directly at her head.

The woman’s eyes widen but she doesn’t have the time to move out of the way. The knife plants itself directly into the space between her eyes. She doesn’t stand a chance. The blood drips from her skull and she slumps down onto the ground before the light has even left her eyes.

Gavin finally has a clear path and he doesn’t even stop to think before he barges his way through the door and runs for the fence. He rolls through it without contemplating the pain it would cause because finally he’s free.


 

Inside the penthouse the crew is pacing nervously. This, of course, isn’t the first time a member of the crew has been taken or gone missing. Hell, it’s not even the first time that Gavin’s gone missing. Gavin has a tendency to get too overwhelmed and leave to cool off for a few hours. It drives the others crazy with worry but they’re always relieved to get him back safe and sound.

However, this is the first time that no one’s noticed that someone is missing until bed time.

Michael’s being unusually quiet. He’s barely spoken a word since Jeremy declared Gavin’s bike was missing. He’s sat on the sofa, hugging his knees with one of Gavin’s jackets draped around him for comfort. Jeremy is acting differently too. He’s oddly jumpy. Anytime someone approaches him he almost flies across the room as if he hasn’t seen them coming. He’s the newest member of the crew and it’s the first time something this extreme has happened to one of his boyfriends since he joined. Jeremy had, luckily, found comfort within Jack who hadn’t let him go since Jeremy had pushed his way into his lap.

Jack can’t stop himself worrying. He keeps verbalising the worst case scenarios that everyone has in their heads but don’t seem real until Jack says them out loud. Ray’s told him shut up almost four times now but he just can’t stop the words from spilling out of his mouth.

Ryan and Geoff seem to be taking this the worst though. Ryan has adopted the Vagabond’s personality and is even wearing the mask. It’s breaking the rest of the boy’s hearts to see it because only a few months ago did Ryan finally feel safe enough within the crew to let them see the real him at home. The mask is more than just a cover up for heists. It’s a persona Ryan created to hide behind when he feels unsafe.

And Geoff. Well, Geoff’s drinking.

Jack tried to stop him. Ray even tried to wrestle the bottles of whiskey from their leaders hand but Geoff was having none of it. He had batted Ray away and continued gulping at the liquor, letting it wash down his throat, burning all the way.

It’s been over an hour now since they all realised Gavin was gone yet they’d still not figured out what to do. Normally within an hour they would have been out and on the road. Someone would have tracked Gavin’s phone, the GPS on the bike or even messaged the other crews they knew whether Gavin had been to them.

Except everyone was just panicking.

“If Gavin was here, he’d probably know what to do…” Jeremy mumbles quietly from Jack’s arms and everyone knows he’s right. Gavin is the one who calms them down, who jumps into action. The boys don’t know where that side of him comes from but they definitely appreciate it. He pulls them together and gets them off their panicking asses to sort the problem and cause some hell.

Without Gavin they don’t know what to do.

They’d passed blame at least four times. They’d had over three arguments about what to do. Michael had, finally, spoken up and declared that Gavin was probably just being idiot. That he was probably fine and just sulking. He was harsh with words, spiteful in more ways than one but any fool could see he was just as worried about him. After that the lad had returned to silence.

“Well Gavin’s not here!” Geoff points out. “That’s the whole fucking problem!” He yells and Jeremy flinches away from the sound.

“Don’t yell at Jeremy!” Ryan shouts, particularly menacing in his Vagabond mask but Geoff isn’t scared of the mass murderer.

“Well he’s being a twat!” Geoff shouts, clutching a bottle tightly in one hand and waving it around madly.

“He’s making a point.” Jack tries to reason, eyes turning stern in the way of Geoff.

“And you’re being a dick, Geoff.” Ray declares from where he’s stood by the window.

The room erupts into argument once again and the fourth dispute of the hour begins.


 

Gavin doesn’t remember how he gets home really. He didn’t drive; his bike was stolen from the place he’d hidden it by the rival gang, probably, so his own crew didn’t spot it if they came looking for him. He ran an awful lot, he remembers that.

Every fibre of his being begins to ache as he reaches the final stretch and it takes everything he has not to collapse in the street. Gavin bends double, panting loudly and trying to catch his breath though he knows it’s useless because he’s in a bad way now.

The penthouse is in sight and before he can even register it Gavin has punched in the code to the elevator. They don’t use keys for the penthouse because keys are a bad idea. Keys can be stolen. Memories can be protected.

He stumbles inside and clings onto the rail inside for dear life. As the elevator starts to move Gavin falls to the floor and he leaves himself there for a moment instead of getting back to his feet. He doesn’t want to move a muscle and he’d swear that he can’t but as the doors slide open he manages to stand back up and he practically drags himself out into the hallway, the prospect of home calling to him.

The very last door he needs to get through before he can give up stands in front of him and he limps across the floor. He’s creating blood trails now and there’s a pool of it where he fell in the elevator too.

He fumbles for the door handle and leaves it sticky with his blood.

Inside, the others are still arguing. Everyone apart from Michael has gotten to their feet and they’re screaming at each other till their faces turn blue. It’s a sound that Gavin can hear on the other side of the door but he doesn’t even register it with the rest of the noise in his head.

As the door clicks the group stop shouting and turn to stare. Ryan has reached for his gun already and is holding it in the direction of the entrance. No one else is stopping him.

It swings open and reveals the face of their hacker.

“Gavin…?” Jack asks incredulously.

“Gaving fucking Free, I swear to god if you ever stay out that fucking late again I’m going to rip you a new fucking asshole!” Michael screeches without even looking at the man. It shocks everyone since Michael hasn’t spoken at all in so long. Even Ryan’s had more to say than the Jersey lad. “Call next time you’re gonna go out and sulk you piece of shit!”

Michael gets to feet his now and turns to face Gavin finally. He opens his mouth to scream obscenities again but snaps it shut it in shock.

Gavin, for the second time today, drops to the ground.

Chapter Text

Everyone is immediately on their feet. Michael’s still standing there, his mouth opening and closing like fish as he tries to make words. Ryan’s pushes past him and Michael’s in so much shock that he stumbles to the side. He would have hit the floor but Geoff takes hold of his shoulders and steadies him.

Ray makes to go forward but stops just past the sofa because Ryan is down on his knees next to Gavin’s body. No one has actually spoken yet, too in shock from Michael’s outburst and the state of their boyfriend to even speak.

It’s Ryan that breaks the silence first as he notices the blood pooling around Gavin’s body. He looks up at the others and though his mask still covers his face it’s clear that he’s horrified at the sight. This is Ryan; the man that murders without conscience, the man that gets gleeful at the sight of his enemies’ blood spilling on a battlefield, the man who’s not scared of anything.

The Vagabond, donned in mask and all, terrified at the sight of his boyfriend’s blood spilling out onto the floor.

Jeremy moves out of Jack’s arms and heads over to the two on the floor. He crouches beside them and goes to pick Gavin up. Ryan stops him with one hand.

“Don’t…” Ryan mumbles, voice muffled by the mask.

“We need to move him.” Jeremy says calmly. He’s changed demeanour. Originally the most afraid of them all Jeremy seems to be trying to take charge of the situation.

“He’s injured.” Ryan replies, “You can’t move him. It might hurt him more.”

“He got himself home, Ryan. Moving him can’t make it any worse.” Jack points out from where he’s stood.

“It might.” Ryan says, though his voice is small and it’s almost hard to believe that it’s coming from their notorious attack dog.

“We can’t just leave him on the floor, buddy.” Geoff tells him, his hands still planted firmly on Michael’s shoulders. Michael seems reluctant to move away and is instead staring down at Gavin.

“Well you can’t just pick him up!” Ryan yells, a stark contrast to the whispers a moment ago.

“He needs to be moved!” Michael joins in suddenly and Geoff’s grip on his shoulders tightens.

“You can’t!”

The crews keep batting the idea back and forth, voices raised and fists clenched tightly by their sides. Ryan is protectively covering Gavin’s body with himself and he’s glad he’s wearing the mask because at least then no one can see the worry in his eyes and the fear on his face.

The argument continues for a few minutes until Ray, who is the only one who hasn’t said anything yet, speaks up.

“Guys… you can have this argument all you want but Gavin’s still bleeding out in the doorway.” He points out quietly and suddenly everyone’s heads snap down. Ray’s staring at the ever growing pool of blood that’s staining the wood and Ryan finally gives in.

“Fine… let’s move him.”

Ryan won’t let anyone any closer so it’s him that picks Gavin up. He doesn’t trust anyone else to do it. Geoff and Michael take a step closer as Ryan shifts Gavin into a more comfortable position. The Brit groans softly even while unconscious and Ryan stops instantly. He throws a dirty look at the others for making him move the lad.

“Main bedroom?” He suggests gruffly and Jack nods.

“I’ll go get some clothes for him.” Jack adds. Gavin’s own clothes are soaked with blood. They smell foul and are ripped in several places. “Make sure someone puts something down to cover the bed before you put him down.”

Ryan nods and makes to the leave the room with Geoff and Michael still in tow. Jeremy and Ray have peeled off and headed towards the kitchen to get Gavin a glass of water for when he wakes up.

Jack walks into the wardrobe and looks at the piles of Gavin’s clothes. It doesn’t feel right to dress him in pristinely cleaned and ironed things. Those don’t feel like home. They wouldn’t make Gavin feel safe.

He starts to rummage through the other boys wardrobes instead and manages to find a pair of Michael’s sweatpants, one of Geoff’s shirts that’s hung over a chair after being worn a few times. From Jeremy and Ray, Jack takes a sock each – those are definitely clean. Jack manages to grab Ryan’s blanket from the back of a sofa where he often falls asleep after bouts of insomnia.

To tops things off, Jack picks up the jacket that Gavin had been wearing that morning. He turns it over in his hands and sighs softly.

“I’m so sorry, Gavin…” He whispers quietly. “I wasn’t mad…”

No one is around to hear him though and he bundles everything up into his arms as he makes his way out of the bedroom.

When Jack comes back into the bedroom he spots Gavin swamped in the middle of the bed by his boys. He can hear murmurings, as he approaches, in a certain British accent.

“Gavin?” Jack asks as he gets nearer, dumping the clothes on the edge of the bed and trying to push closer. He’s hoping for a miracle really. That Gavin is already up and about, dancing around like his usual self. He wants to hear that British accent cracking jokes and the infamous squawking sounds when he’s shocked.

Jack is disappointed.

“He’s not awake properly.” Geoff tells him gently, taking Jack’s hand into his own. “He’s sort of with it but not really. I don’t think he knows what’s going on.”

Jack’s heart sinks further though he knows he shouldn’t have got his hopes up. The others are crowded around Gavin’s bed too as if they had expected the same thing.

“He’s gonna wake up though, right Geoff?” Michael asks softly. He’s kneeling on the ground next to the bed with Gavin’s hand in his own. He glances up to their leader for reassurance although he doesn’t know how much he’s going to get.

Geoff stinks of alcohol and although he’s far from drunk right now it’s not so comforting when the leader of your crew turns to drinking when confronted with an issue.

“Of course he is.” Geoff promises. Down on the floor, with his curly hair an unruly mess, Michael looks like a small child. He’s staring up at Geoff with eyes full of hope and as he looks around the group for a moment he can see the rest of the lads doing the same.

Ryan is sitting against the headboard of the bed, legs open with Gavin laying in his lap. Beside him Geoff has taken up residence, his head leaning on Ryan’s shoulder until Michael had spoken to him. Ray and Jeremy are sitting cross legged on either side, looking on with fear in their eyes. Jack’s still standing where he’d entered.

“Michael come here, it’s okay.” Geoff tells him earnestly. The lad slowly gets up off the floor and lets go of Gavin’s hand. It’s not empty for long though because Jack moves around and takes it instead. Michael crawls across the ridiculously big bed and ends up curled into Geoff’s lap.

Jeremy looks up for a moment and Geoff can tell by his expression that he wants in on this too. Geoff smiles and shifts to the side a little.

“There’s plenty of room, Jeremy.” He says with a kind smile and opens up his free arm to the Boston boy. Jeremy wiggles his way over and strategically places himself higher up than Michael and on the opposite side. While Michaels’ head rests on Geoff’s stomach near enough, Jeremy lays down on his chest.

If it wasn’t such a sad moment Jack might have taken a picture.

 “Geoff?”

“Yes, Michael?”

“You stink.”

“Thanks, Michael.”

“I agree.”

“Thanks, Jeremy.”

“You smell like a liquor store.”

“Well do you want to get off, Michael?”

“No.”

“Jeremy?”

“No.”

“Well that’s alright then.”

“You still stink though.”

“Brilliant.”

Silently Ray has moved himself closer to Ryan and Gavin while the others were talking.  He’s laid down with his head on Ryan’s side and his hand in Gavin’s hair.

Jack lets everyone stay where they are for a few minutes. He’s listening to Gavin’s nonsensical mumbling though none of it makes it any sense. He doesn’t know if it’s even supposed to. After a while he glances up. It’s late and the lads have almost fallen asleep where they lay, and Geoff doesn’t seem too far behind as he whispers reassuring things into his boyfriends’ ears.

Geoff strokes their hair and tells them stories to settle their minds. Stories about their old heists where others have gone down before, much like Gavin, yet they’re still here. Still kicking about, much like Gavin will be; he’s sure.

“We need to patch him up now.” Jack says gently and Ryan immediately looks up. “I know you don’t want people to touch him, Rye.” He tells him. “But we’ve got to take a look. We’ve wasted too much time arguing about it already.”

Ryan sighs softly but eventually nods in agreement.

“Do it.” He accepts. “I’ll help.”

Jack nods and gets back to his feet. They remove his jeans first. Jack pulls off Gavin’s shoes while Ryan undoes his belt and they work together to carefully slide the material down and off. They spot the bandage around his shin instantly. It’s sticky with blood but they know they’re going to have to go near it at some point.

Jack looks at Ryan before he unties it carefully and lets it fall onto the bed. He can feel both Ryan and Geoff’s eyes burning into him as he inspects the wound.

“He got shot.” Jack declares, straightening back up and sighing softly.

“Fucking hell…” Geoff mumbles quietly.

“The bullet still in there?” Ryan asks.

“Yeah, I think so. I’m surprised they even tied it up if I’m honest.” Jack admits, pushing back his hair for a moment as it falls into his eyes.

“Clearly they didn’t want him to die.” Geoff points out and the others nod in solemn agreement.

There’s silence for a moment as the group thinks about what to do next. Jack leans forward and touches Gavin’s leg to examine it. Instantly the Brit tries to jolt to away in his half-conscious state and the lads are immediately awake again.

Jack glances at them. They’re big strong men. Easily capable of taking down others in battle, of getting their own bullet wounds but for some reason Jack doesn’t want them to see this. It wouldn’t be the first time that they have done; everyone gets shot in this line of work. It’s just an occupational hazard really but Jack feels as though this situation is… different?

“I need everyone to leave while I fix Gavin up.” He tells the rest of the group, though he’s already planning on letting Ryan stay. After all, he’s hardly going to tell the masked up mass murderer that he has to move. That’s just a stupid idea. And a death wish.

“We’re not going anywhere, Jack!” Jeremy points out as he lifts his head from Geoff’s chest.

“I know you don’t want to but I can’t patch him up with so many people around. I actually need to be able to see what I’m doing. And honestly, the smell of liquor is starting to burn my nostrils.” Jack decides. Geoff shoots him a glare though he knows it’s true.

“I’m going for a shower.” He huffs softly and slides the two boys off him as he crawls out of the bed.

“Brush your teeth too.” Michael snarks though he’s smiling all the same.

Eventually, as everyone leaves the room and goes to set up camp in the main space instead, Jack can get to work.

After Ray returns momentarily with their first aid kit Jack decides to tackle the bullet wound in Gavin’s leg, since he’s sure it’s what must be causing him the most pain. The medical supplies kept at the pent house are much more robust than the average household kit because situations like this occur far too often.

The removal of the bullet is an intricate and lengthy process that has Jack’s hands shaking and his forehead sweating by the end of it.

Gavin’s still floating in and out of consciousness and Jack just wishes that the poor guy would stay down for a while. But Gavin has too much fight in him. Ryan attempts to comfort the British lad by stroking his hair but it’s nothing in comparison to the pain he must be feeling.

“I’m sorry, Gavin…” Jack murmurs softly as he finally takes hold of the bullet with his tweezers and carefully pulls it from his leg. Gavin makes the loudest noise so far and his eyes snap open momentarily. He tries to pull away but Ryan holds him place.

Luckily the lad passes out again straight after and Jack is left to place pressure on the wound while Ryan unwraps a clean bandage. Jack disinfects it quickly, wiping away the dirt and grime that’s seeped in from the conditions Gavin was kept in. It’s not long, however, before a bright white bandage is wrapped tightly around the wound and Jack feels immediately better about the situation.

“Well, at least that’s the worst out of the way.” Jack states. Nothing else could be as bad as this, right? Ryan seemingly agrees.

“How on earth did he even get home?” Ryan wonders aloud and Jack thinks about it for a moment.

“Adrenaline probably.” He reasons, “Help me get his shirt off?”

Ryan nods and carefully moves Gavin’s arms into a position that allows Jack to slip the blood soaked shirt over his head. Jack has to stop in shock and Ryan’s confused until he sees it himself.

Gavin’s torso is covered in cuts and bruises. Some of them are deep, others not so much. There’s blood everywhere and it’s seeping into Ryan’s pant legs where Gavin is laying on him. He’s black and blue almost everywhere; so much so that Jack doesn’t even know where to begin.

“What the hell did they do to him…?” Jack whispers with a hand covering his mouth for a moment. He’s suddenly very glad that he sent the others out of the room because he can only imagine the commotion that would have been caused if they were here.

Gavin’s face looks peaceful where he lays asleep but the rest of his body is a different story.

They can see the rope burns on his wrists where his hands were tied together, the knife marks, the bruise in the shape of a boot on his ribs. Jack wants to look away from the sight but he can’t do it. Every second he spends looking at Gavin he spots a new injury even more painful looking than the last.

“We get him cleaned up… and then we disinfect the cuts… stitch up any deep ones…” Ryan lists slowly to keep the both of them focused and calm. Jack appreciates it greatly.

“Right.”

 


 

 

The other members of the crew have set up camp in the second bedroom. They attempted to stay in the living room but there simply wasn’t enough space on the couch. Really there’s barely enough space on this king sized bed either but they’re making it work the best they can.

Michael’s in middle, curled into Geoff’s side with Jeremy’ arm strewn over his back. Jeremy’s nose is pressed into the back of Michael’s neck, tickling him every time he breathes out. Ray is on Geoff’s other side, sandwiching them onto the bed well enough.

Ray is also the last to fall asleep. He’s been a lot quieter than the rest of the group, choosing to observe more than speak, which is unusual for the lad. He’s not his cocky self but then again, none of them are. Michael’s been pining for attention from anyone who will give it to him and Jeremy’s still jumping out of his skin.

Luckily for the boys though, Geoff did take a shower which they would all admit is a lot more pleasing to the senses. It makes their leader a lot nicer to cuddle up with than before.

When Jack comes to find them it’s almost light. He’s absolutely exhausted, practically pinning his eyes open to find his way around the building. When he spots them all curled up on the bed he can’t help but smile fondly.

“Who wants to tap in?” Jack asks quietly and Geoff’s eyes flicker open.

“You done?” The gent whispers, lifting his head a little to see the other at the foot of the bed.

“Yeah, all finished. He’s patched up, cleaned up and dressed.”

“Is he going to be alright?” Ray’s voice asks and Geoff glances over his shoulder in surprise.

“I think so. I’d like to say he’s had worse than this but I’m not so sure.” Jack admits gently. Geoff nods.

“I’ll go sit with him for a bit. Is Ryan still in there?” Geoff asks. This time Jack nods.

“Hasn’t left his side all night. He won’t mind you going in there though.”

“Okay, I’m going.” Geoff says as he starts to shift away from Michael and Jeremy. Ray gets out bed too.

“I’ll come with you.” Ray decides and Geoff doesn’t argue with him. He takes Ray’s hand and they both head out of the room together. Neither Michael nor Jeremy wake up completely, though they both stir where they lay.

Jack watches Michael roll into the gap that Geoff and Ray leave in search for heat. Neither of the lads were under the covers so Jack wakes them just enough to get them to climb under and then makes to leave the room.

“Jack?” Jeremy mumbles softly, lifting his head as he looks around blearily.

“Yeah, love?”

“How’s Gavin?” He asks and Jack comes back into the bedroom properly.

“Still asleep.” Jack explains, “He passed out while I was sorting out his leg and he hasn’t woken up yet. He’s probably exhausted like you are.”

Jeremy stays silent for a moment before putting his head back down on the pillow and Jack waits a second before heading for the door.

“Jack?” comes a voice. This time it’s Michael’s.

“What is it?” He questions gently.

“Aren’t you coming to bed?”

Jack pauses for a moment and then nods. He was going to head into the kitchen and start making food for the boys when they woke up but he really is shattered.

“Yeah, I’m coming.” He promises, climbing over Jeremy to get into the middle of the bed. Instantly Michael and Jeremy snuggle into his sides and he finds himself kissing the both of them alternatively; soft and gentle as he strokes their hair.

Jack is like their own personal heater and before they know it everyone in the room has drifted off to sleep.

Geoff and Ray enter the main bedroom where Gavin is still out cold in Ryan’s lap. Light from the rising sun is starting to filter through the blinds but the crew have only gotten two hours sleep maximum between them all.

Ray takes up his place next to Ryan, leaning his head on the man’s shoulder for a little while and closing his eyes. Geoff wants to lay down and sleep but he can’t bring himself to do so. Instead he pulls up a chair beside the bed and takes a hold of Gavin’s hand.

Ryan is still wearing the Vagabond mask but Geoff’s not going to be the one to point it out so he does his best to ignore the soulless eyes that are staring directly at him. He knows Ryan means well but it doesn’t meant that it isn’t creepy as all hell.

At some point Geoff falls asleep, still clutching Gavin’s hand and his head face down on the bed. Ray is content to just stay awake and Ryan barely sleeps anyway.

“How’re you doing?” Ray asks when he’s sure Geoff’s completely out of it. Ryan glances down at him.

“I’m okay.” Ryan responds.

“It’s not your fault. Damn, I think actually you were the nicest to him out of all of us before he left.” Ray points out but it’s little comfort to the Vagabond right now.

“I still feel bad that it happened.”

“We all do, buddy.” Ray tells him, kissing his jaw lightly. He has to push up the mask with his nose a little but he doesn’t mind making the extra effort. “I was an idiot for not letting Geoff go talk to him after you and Jack left but there’s not much we can do about it now.”

“I know…” Ryan sighs. They may be small responses but Ray’s glad that he’s speaking at all.

“Are you gonna take the mask off?” Ray suggests slowly. “I mean, you don’t have to. I know it’s like a safety thing but… everyone’s safe now.”

“Not yet.” Ryan says, shaking his head. “A little while longer.”

“Alright. Hey, you wanna watch me play Pokémon for a bit?”

“Okay.”

Ray leans over and pulls out his DS from one of the bedside table drawers. He settles into the most comfortable position he can; placing his head under Ryan’s chin and leaning on his chest. Being careful not to shift Gavin at all who’s still laying in the Vagabond’s lap, Ray glances up to check Ryan can see.

They play for almost three hours until the sun is completely up. Ryan’s good at spotting the details that Ray misses and before long they’re storming through the levels. It’s an almost silent interaction with Ryan only mumbling to point out things that Ray hasn’t seen and Ray grunting his thanks in return.

At some point Geoff had woken up and gone into the kitchen to start making food for everyone else but neither of the two would actually be able to pin point when if anyone asked. The rest of the crew must have woken at some point too because they can hear footsteps and voices in the rooms adjacent to the bedroom.

It’s when Ray’s stomach starts to grumble that Ryan finally tells him to leave. He pats at Ray’s knee gently.

“Go and get some breakfast. I think Geoff’s making scrambled eggs.” Ryan says. “I’ll be fine and I’ll stay with Gavin.”

“You sure?” Ray asks as he snaps the DS shut and put it in his jacket pocket. He scrambles off the bed but not before kissing Ryan on the top of the head and Gavin on the lips and then leaves.

 


 

 

At three in the afternoon the next day Gavin finally awakes. The boys have taken it in turns to stay with him and they even managed to convince Ryan to leave his side long enough to eat and drink. Somehow Michael got him to sleep for an entire two hours but he’d been taken hostage as a result, trapped in the arms of the gent.

He hadn’t minded all that much.

It’s during a changeover of babysitter for the Brit that Gavin actually wakes up. The two minutes in the day when no one is by his side.

Gavin doesn’t open his eyes at first. He forgets his escape from his prison and it takes him a moment to realise he isn’t tied to a chair. He can’t feel ropes holding him down and his neck isn’t lolling painfully to the side. Instead he feels the mattress below him and he swears he’s never laid on something so comfortable and soft.

He inhales as deep as possible, filling his lungs with air and simply appreciating the cleanliness of it. It’s not foul, laced with the stench of blood like the room had been. It was fresh and he’s not sure but there might be a window open somewhere. His prison hadn’t had any windows.

Gavin knows he needs to open his eyes to figure out where he is but he doesn’t want to break this illusion he thinks he’s created for himself. After a moment of psyching himself up he finally lets his eyelids flutter open and the brightness is like a slap in the face.

He squints a little and the world starts spinning around him. Gavin wants it to stop but it won’t and the more he gets more distressed and confused the more the world keeps turning. His head’s messed up from how many times he’s whacked it in the past day or so.

Lack of use and severe injury means his body’s seized up and he can’t really move even if he tries. He’s left to lie there alone, squeezing his eyes tight shut and praying for everything to stop.

It’s Geoff who walks in to take his turn at looking after the lad and spots him awake and scared.

“Gavin?” He calls out and runs to his side. Gavin’s eyes snap open and he tries to sit up but it hurts too much and he’s too stiff to get very far.

“Geoff… Geoff! Geoff I’m so sorry… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to fuck up. I didn’t mean to ruin the heist. I’m sorry!” Gavin cries out, his voice cracking. It’s raspy and sore from dehydration and screaming but it doesn’t stop him trying to belt out his apologies even so. He’s barely even realised he’s home.

“Gavin… baby. It’s okay. It’s okay.” Geoff promises. “Look at me, Gavin. Look at me.” He tells him, cupping his cheek softly and kissing him on the forehead. And Gavin does. He stares at the man that he’s loved since he was nineteen years old. Since that day he was found on the streets of Los Santos just trying to make a dishonest living.

“I’m so sorry…” Gavin repeats and there are tears spilling out of his eyes before he can even stop them. Part of him wonders if this is a hallucination. His run home is so patchy in his mind that thinks that he could have easily have made it up as a coping mechanism for that god awful place.

But Geoff’s hands are there on his face and they’re so warm and solid and real.

And suddenly everyone else is in the doorway, crowding round with concerned looks on their faces as Gavin just bawls his eyes out where he lies. Before he knows it they’re all touching him in various ways and even though it hurts like no one could ever imagined he doesn’t want it to stop.

Their voices all blur into one but unlike his time in the room where the shouting and the screaming became all the same, this is comforting and warm. This is like being wrapped up in a safe blanket where he knows nothing can harm him.

Gavin’s home and he knows it now.

As he looks around and the world starts to become clear he glances towards Michael whose eyes are not devoid of love or affection anymore. Jack’s not angry with him and Geoff’s not swearing. Jeremy is right up on the bed with him, as close as he can possibly be without anyone telling Gavin to step away.

It takes Gavin a while to calm himself down but his boys don’t leave his side at all. There’s ugly crying and hyperventilating while everyone tells him to breathe and stop panicking but Gavin just can’t. He can’t get over the fact that he’s free and loved. That nobody completely hates him. That they still want him in their lives.

“Don’t ever do anything that stupid again.” Michael tells him, hopping up onto the bed and kissing Gavin’s forehead. When he pulls away Gavin manages a pout which makes Michael laugh. He gives in instantly and kisses his lips too. “I’ve been so worried, Gav.” He admits. “I’m begging you not to give me a heart attack again, okay?”

Gavin manages to muster a smile now he’s calmed down properly. He looks at the lad and shakes his head the best he can.

“No can do… you’d miss my stupidity.” Gavin tells him and honestly? Michael has to admit that he would.

“You keep being you.” Michael adds.

Gavin pauses for a moment and thinks about that phrase. Do they really want him to keep being him? Because the Gavin they know is a screw up. Such a bad screw up that he gets one of his boyfriends blown up. His eyes widen.

“Jeremy!” Gavin suddenly yells and Jeremy jumps in shock.

“Right here, Gavin.” He reassures quickly, placing a hand on Gavin’s good leg.

“Are you okay? Please tell me you’re okay…”

“I’m fine, Gavin. It’s you we’re worried about.” Jeremy points out and the others agree unanimously.

Gavin can’t comprehend why for a moment.

“So you guys… you aren’t mad?” Gavin asks, his voice catching in his throat. He wants to sit up more so he can see everyone at once but he aches so much that moving is pretty much out of the question. “I mean. I screwed up the heist, I stole your clothes Jack… I ran away.”

Suddenly Geoff’s glaring at him and Gavin shrinks down into the bed the best he can. Two minutes ago he thought no one hated him. Now he wasn’t so sure.

“Gavin Free you realise we feel like absolute fucking cock-suckers for not realising you were missing, right?” Geoff almost shouts yet he’s not shouting at Gavin. The lad relaxes for a moment, that very information actually sinking into his brain.

“Oh.”

It’s all the words that Gavin can muster and Geoff kisses him again.

“Gavin,” Starts Jack, who sits on the edge of the bed and nibbles on his bottom lip. “What exactly happened to you?” He asks.

Ryan carefully helps Gavin sit up with a lot of support and groaning so that Gavin can tell his story and Jeremy hands him the glass of water.

 


 

 

A while later Gavin is finishing up his story. The lads and Ryan all have their mouths open in shock as the Brit tells his tale of escaping his cell and fighting an entire rival gang with a bullet in his leg and a broken hand. Jeremy’s got his mouth covered by his palm and Michael is sitting forward, waiting for more.

Behind them all is Geoff and Jack. They’re looking onwards at Gavin with pride written all across their faces in the brightest highlighter going. It’s about time that the rest of the crew knew about Gavin’s skills and Geoff is glad that Gavin gets to tell them. They had to find out eventually.

“You took down… all of them?” Ray asks incredulously as he stares at Gavin. Gavin just nods.

“It’s not too difficult if you think about it properly.” Gavin admits with a shrug and Geoff chuckles as Michael’s mouth manages to drop even further.

Because Gavin isn’t stupid. Not by a long shot.

He was dumb. No doubt about that. He was a big dumb idiot a lot of the time but that’s Gavin’s personality. Not his ability.

Gavin Free is smart. Gavin Free is…

“Geoff’s Golden Boy.” Ryan realises, shaking his head. “Why didn’t you ever tell us that the reason you’re so well known by that name is because you’re god damn incredible?!”

Gavin shrugs.

“It didn’t really come up.”

Ryan gives him a stern look.

“I prefer being a hacker. When I was younger I had to learn how to do everything so I could survive. I’m part of a crew now though… I don’t need to have every ability under the sun to work well. But, it doesn’t mean I’m not capable. Even though a lot of people think I’m not.” Gavin explains.

“Gavin Free’s a fucking bad ass!” Ray explains and Gavin has to laugh. The motion hurts his chest though and he curls on himself with a hiss of pain.

“Hey, take it easy.” Geoff warns softly and Jack’s right behind him. “You may be a righteous bad ass but you’re still injured.”

Gavin nods and lays back down. It’s easy for him to get wrapped up in the excitement of things and forget to actually take heed of his situation.

“You said that they broke your hand?” Jack asks, “Can I take a look?”

“Yeah, go for it. This dickhead of a woman stamped on it twice. Crushed it.” Gavin grumbles. “Don’t worry guys. I murdered her the first chance I got.”

“Glad to hear it.” Ryan states as he gets to his feet. “Come on guys. Let’s allow Jack to work in peace.”

The rest of the crew are easy to move along now that they’ve seen their hacker awake for themselves. Each man takes it in turn to kiss Gavin on the lips and Gavin apologises to each and every one of them for making them worry.

Once everyone has gone and Jack is rummaging through the first aid kit for more bandages Gavin takes a look at himself.

“I’m not wearing my clothes am I?” Gavin asks, narrowing his eyes. “This shirt smells like Geoff for a start.” He points out. Jack looks up for a moment, throwing a small grin in the direction of the lad.

“No, I figured you’d rather wear our clothes, right?” Jack shrugs with a laugh.

“I’m sorry about that.” Gavin says, the mood turning downcast as he frowns a little.

“Sorry for what?”

“Stealing your jacket.” He explains. “You were mad at me that morning, weren’t you? Because I took it without asking?” Gavin checks and Jack glances down at the ground.

“I wasn’t mad.” Jack tries to promise but even Gavin can tell that’s bullshit. “Well, I was. But I shouldn’t have been.” He admits. “I didn’t even realise you’d slept on the couch until you’d run off and it’s only a jacket after all.”

“I won’t steal it again.” Gavin tells him but Jack doesn’t let him finish.

“Don’t be silly. You can take it whenever you want. It’s why I let you wear it right now. I mean, keep it if you really want to?” He suggests.

Gavin shakes head, a smile pulling at the corner of his lips.

“I can’t keep it. If I keep it then it won’t smell like you and then there’s not pointing in wearing it at all.” Gavin rambles. “Instead I will only steal it when it is the most inconvenient time for you. How does that sound?”

“Absolutely perfect.” Jack laughs, leaning over and kissing Gavin’s lips. He would go further but he’s all too aware that Gavin is in a severe amount of pain.

While Jack is busy bandaging up his hand Jeremy appears with some extra strength painkillers and another glass of water.

“We figured you could do with those, right?” Jeremy chuckles. Gavin nods in appreciation and swallows the pills quickly.

 


 

 

That night the crews goes to bed early. It’s not surprising given the day they’ve had and most of them have been slipping in and out of consciousness all day, many of them joining Gavin on the main bed at varying points.

The painkillers are doing their job and Gavin is able to move enough that he can get into a more comfortable position than lying on his back and the others don’t have worry about hurting him so much if they accidentally touch him.

Gavin even attempted to get out of bed that evening before Michael and Ryan shooed him back down with shouts and frantic arm waving. Their reactions had made Gavin laugh so hard that half his bandages came loose and Jack had been forced to sit with him for another half an hour to re-do them. Neither of them were complaining about that though since Jack had agreed to be Gavin’s personal pillow for a couple of hours afterwards.

Now, however, Gavin is sandwiched in the middle of the bed where he belongs and prefers. The lad is curled into Michael the best he can without hurting himself and Geoff’s arm has made its way over both of their backs. On the other side of Gavin lays Jack because Gavin had refused to let him move away once he’d entered the bed.

Gavin’s now stealing as much warmth as he can while holding hands with Ryan who is laying on the other side of Jack. Jeremy has the most interesting position out of them all as he’s laid directly on top of Jack, small enough to curl up into a ball and be perfectly comfortable. Lastly Ray is curled into Geoff’s back.

Except Gavin’s not asleep. He should be because he’s absolutely exhausted and everyone’s already told him he needs as much sleep as possible in order to heal quickly but his mind is ruining wild with thoughts.

He keeps thinking back to his time in the rival gang’s base but it’s not a nightmare. He’s not scared at all but oddly empowered instead. Gavin’s filled with the confidence that this horrific ordeal actually brought him and the crew closer.

It showed all of them that he’s the idiot they think he is and it reminded Gavin of what he could do as well. Truth be told Gavin may have forgotten how good he was at what he does but he has a feeling he won’t be forgetting for a while. He can’t forget again because now he has six constant reminders following him around the house.

Gavin can imagine the sarcasm he’s going to get if he makes a mistake on a heist now.

“So you can escape a fully guarded base alone but you can’t hijack a car without ruining it?”

“He fights enemies with a broken hand but can’t unlock an average bolt!”

Honestly, Gavin’s looking forward to it.

He knows that his crew loves him no matter what and he also knows that he’s not going to overreact to a normal fall out again. Although this is Gavin and Gavin is prone to his melodramatics.

One thing that Gavin can safely promise himself though is that he is happy.

With the sound of his boyfriends snoring all around him and the constant feel of them all against him Gavin is completely relaxed. He’s in pain, yes. Incredible pain despite the drugs he was given but he’d take physical pain any day over the emotional pain that he felt night before.

A broken hand is a much better ending than a broken heart.