Title: You're Gonna Be Fine
Rating: PG-13 (but, there is a lot of swearing)
Summary: The night after that first meeting White takes Orange out for a drink. More father/son than anything else - surprisingly not slash.
A/N: Reservoir Dogs deserves a lot more love. Reviews are much appreciated.
The night after that first meeting of the whole group, Larry takes the kid (Mr Orange, and how fucking ridiculous is that) out drinking. Kid's a fucking lightweight, which is no real surprise given that he's a stick figure and looks all of about twelve. Even drunk he's all big green eyes and earnest, puppyish enthusiasm - leaning in as Larry talks, hanging off of every word of the story.
Larry never had a son. But, if he had, he likes to think he would have been something like this. The kid's sharp, responsible, and seems to have a healthy respect for his betters. Sure, he's tense and jittery as fuck, but he's young and it's a big job - maybe his first really big one. There's a damned lot of potential there, though. Larry's noticed it in the way the kid sits quietly and just listens, absorbs everything and nods like he's taking internal notes. The kid will make a real smooth professional someday, and Larry is willing to help him along the way. A little practice and some confidence will do wonders, and Larry's ready to give him any advice he needs. The kid is practically begging for a mentor, anyway. Might as well be someone who won't take advantage.
Conversation eventually shifts, and Larry's talking about the Brewers. Honestly, the bet had been a long shot - when was the last time they'd actually fucking won? - and he's feeling pretty good about it. The kid is laughing and nodding, but he's also starting to look a little unfocused. Larry almost laughs when the kid nods a bit too hard and almost slips off his stool. He looks like a little kid trying to stay up past bedtime.
"Alright, tough guy," Larry says, unable to keep all of the amusement from his tone. He gets to his feet, pulls the kid into a standing position as well. "Home time, huh?"
The cold air outside sobers the kid a little, and he grins crookedly at Larry. Larry can't help smiling back.
"Guess I'll see you tomorrow," the kid starts, and Larry rolls his eyes.
"Just get in the goddamn car," he says, sliding into the driver's seat.
Like he's going to trust the kid to make it home to that shitty neighborhood when he's drunk. There's a perplexed, guarded look on the kid's face as he climbs in, like he's not sure if there's an angle to the offer of a ride. To Larry's relief, he loosens up as they drive, sprawling more across the seat, back to laughing at Larry's anecdotes. Larry talks a lot in the kid's company. It fills the space of the kid's silences, makes both of them to relax. It's nice, and Larry thinks that maybe, after this job is over, he'll ask the kid his name. It's been a while since he's had a partner - the thing with 'Bama was over too soon - and he finds he likes the idea of having a protegé. All his experience should do someone a bit of good.
It's a good thing they'd been there this morning, though. The kid's shit with directions, but they get there eventually thanks to Larry's memory. He follows the kid upstairs. He tells himself it's to make sure the kid actually makes it home (and, Jesus - he better not come home drunk often, not with three flights of those fucking hazardous stairs to deal with), but if he's honest it's got a lot more to do with curiosity.
The kid fumbles a bit with the keys, stumbles into the apartment and flips on the light. It's a dim, bare bulb, and does little to make the place look anything less than dingy and depressing. The place is fucking spartan. There are two small bare rooms, a cluttered kitchenette and a tiny bath. The peeling comic book posters and scattered boxes of cereal just reinforce the impression from earlier that the apartment's inhabitant really is a kid. It's almost endearing, in a pathetic sort of way. The only other character comes from a tacky, childish cross pasted to the wall. It doesn't feel like a home.
"Bet your wife doesn't know about this place," Larry says, meaning it as a joke about the lack of decoration or cleanliness, but regrets it when the kid automatically tenses. They've been skirting the line of too-personal all night, and Larry thinks maybe he's just crossed it.
The kid's face is tight with some emotion as he looks down at the wedding ring he's wearing, spinning it nervously with the ball of his thumb. The gold is scratched, dull, and a bit loose.
"She ain't exactly in a position to see it," the kid says, and his voice is oddly flat. "Car crash. We'd only been married about six months." The spinning slows, until he's more just caressing the band, eyes fixed on it. "I never even wear this anymore, but I did today."
And, shit if that isn't way past unexpected. The kid looks too young to be married, let alone to be a widower. Larry swallows, an apology caught on his lips.
What comes out instead is: "Then why did you?"
That is enough to get the kid's attention, and he tears his eyes away from the ring. He laughs, and it's a slightly desperate sound.
"Fuck if I know, man. Luck, maybe."
Larry takes pity on him after that, and they talk about other things again. About nothing, really, but it returns them to something close to the good-natured banter from before.
In the end, it gets late enough that the kid is bleary eyes and yawning. Larry's feeling the hour too, and readily accepts the kid's offer of crashing there. He insists on letting Larry use the bed and taking the couch himself. The bed's not much - a thin lumpy mattress laid over a box-spring that sits directly on the floor. Larry shudders to think what the couch must be like. Still, if you're tired, anything will work, and he falls asleep quickly.
It's early hours of the morning - still too fucking dark - when Larry comes suddenly awake. He's not entirely sure what's woken him, but he's gotten used to trusting his instincts. Then, he hears it - a soft, strange sound from the other room.
Larry gets up, and is standing in the doorway too quick to really think through the possibilities. The source of the noise is easily located. The kid is shifting and muttering in his sleep, looking none too restful. After a minute or so, he shoots up into a sitting position, and damned if the kid don't come awake fighting. The moment between sleeping and waking is man at his most honest, and that basic instinct to fight is heartbreaking - it's learned, and learned hard.
An unexpected feeling of fierce protectiveness sweeps over Larry. He wants to find whoever instilled that in the kid and put a bullet between their fucking eyes. His own father had never shied away from slapping one of them when they were out of control, but not one of them had ever been afraid. What he had learned from his father was love and discipline, not fear.
It's the kid's harsh, fast breathing that draws Larry out of his anger. It's not really a decision to walk over, rub the boney shoulder and say: "It's okay, kid. You're gonna be fine."
The kid startles at first, and then gives him that same paranoid, uncomprehending look from the car. Like he can't figure out what Larry wants in exchange for this basic human kindness. Then, his entire body seems to sag, and he accepts the comfort on offer.
Eventually, the kid pulls back.
Says: "Thanks." And: "I'm sorry."
With his hair hanging in his face, he looks insanely fucking vulnerable. Larry stifles the urge to brush it back, and says gruffly: "Yeah, well. Get some sleep, kid."
He pushes himself to his feet, head back to bed. At the doorway he pauses, looks back. "It's gonna be okay."
The kid smiles at him - really smiles, not just the bravado-filled smirk from before - and Larry will accept it, for all it's mirthless as hell. "Yeah. Thanks."
In the morning, they don't talk about it. They drink bad coffee, instead, let the topic drift away. After two cups, Larry stands up. He's resolved about one thing - he's going to make damn sure the kid is prepared for the job ahead. Nothing's going to happen to him on Larry's watch.
"So," he says with a grin. "How about we case out the joint? I'm thinking we can get tacos after."
On the job, everything goes absolutely fucking wrong. It was supposed to be so fucking simple - go in, get the diamonds, get out. That's it. There were not supposed to be alarms. There were not supposed to be cops. There were not supposed to be goddamned psychos shooting young girls. It's like the whole world is turned on its fucking head, and there's fucking instant chaos.
The kid's doing good - doesn't panic when the cops show up or the bullets start flying. It's a good sign, and Larry's a little proud of him. The two of them and Brown get away, throw themselves in a car and hit the gas like it's hell itself after them. For a minute, it seems like they're going to be fine.
And then it gets even fucking worse.
There are still bullets flying, and Larry doesn't even notice when one of them catches Brown in the head until they've crashed into another car with a sickening crunch. He and the kid are out of the car in a flash. Larry turns his attention immediately to the cops tearing around the corner, because no way in hell are either of them going down on this colossal cock-up. Not if he has anything to say about it.
Behind him, the kid has frozen - stuck dead in spot with a look of horrified revulsion on his face. He snaps out of it quickly (and, again, Larry is proud of him), and then they're off again. There are no more sirens coming up behind them. It feels like relief, and Larry drops an arm onto the kid's shoulders. They burst out onto the street, and it's like their luck has changed - there's a car, driven by some middle aged woman. No problem. Except that suddenly it is.
Two gunshots ring out before Larry can even react. The kid is on the ground and there is a fucking bullet hole in his fucking stomach. Time stretches out into eternity, and then snaps into fast forwards. He's hauling the kid off of the ground, and the kid is screaming. There's nothing for it. Larry shoves the bleeding woman out of the car, and shoves the kid in. He guns the engine, and they are tearing off in the direction of the warehouse.
Joe. Joe will know what to do - he'll find a doctor and they'll patch the kid up and everything will be fine.
The backseat of the car looks like a slaughterhouse. Everything is saturated with blood. The air is thick with it, pungent with thick coppery sweetness, and Larry feels like he's fucking gagging on every breath. The kid is still screaming (and, Jesus, didn't that shirt used to be white?), and all Larry can think is don't you dare die on me, you little shit, don't you dare.
What he says is: "you're gonna be fine".