Chapter One: In vino veritas
A/N: When it's open season for crime in Los Santos, Trevor has his pick of wide-eyed up-and-coming thieves for new crew. Michael's not sure if he should feel sorrier for the LSPD or the lawbreakers. A collection of vignettes following the heist of the Union Depository.
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It started, as most things do, with booze.
Michael is sprawled back on his elbows, eyes lacquered from too many beers…ah, who is he kidding? 'Too many' lands you in the hospital getting charcoal shoved down your gullet while Amanda threatens…no, not too many beers at all. Just enough. Enough to feel good, and enough to be stupid but not too stupid.
Trevor sits cross-legged beside him, rolling a bottle between his restless hands. Throwing bottles into the pool had been Michael's idea. Throwing them at joggers and dog walkers had been Trevor's.
They climbed onto the roof an hour ago, after sundown. He's sat up here with Amanda a time or two—it reminds him of their old trailer where the roof counted as another room. His wife is at a spa retreat until Sunday—he's already gotten her texts demanding he restock the liquor cabinet so she can gargle out the taste of Swiss chard and parsley. It's progress when texts end in Thk u 3, right?
Were she here, he'd be risking civil war for inviting Trevor onto his property.
"What the hell did we do?" He knows he sounds more serious than he means.
"Pulled back the curtain. Showed Uncle Sam with his dick hanging out."
Michael snorts, thinking of Dave. Mad we knocked off the Union Depository? Probably not then, but now? Michael swears he had no idea what would happen after the news crews feasted on the story—open season in Los Santos for petty crime and dead kids.
Kids out of Adderall refills seem to think robbing the Depository means anyone can fuck over the government, or at least the Balkan store clerk at the bottom of Rockford Hills. Michael took one look at him when he was jonesing for some nicotine—gum, he made himself say—and marked him as someone he wouldn't want to fuck with without a good reason. The guy had the gunmetal eyes of someone who snapped necks and fired SMGs into refugee camps. When two fool kids drew pistols, he blasted one's head off and crippled the other, and cops crowned him a true American.
Los Santos is no Carcer City—by day it looks the same as ever. By night, he doesn't like Amanda out without him, even though in years past he's seen her drive her stilettos through the feet of guys who got too grabby. At this rate, the LSPD could soon be tri-athletes from all the exercise.
Trevor lobs the last bottle in a high arc so it plummets just past the fence. The light catches the glint of his grin when a man squeals and glass shatters. Michael knew his grin would be wider if he'd been lobbing grenades. And now Trevor's hands are empty. Never a good thing.
"Law of averages," Trevor drawls, baring something between a smile and grimace, "Some of the brats must be like Franklin. Malleable upstarts, just waiting for the right opportunity."
Christ. Michael knew that almost hazy look when Trevor was thinking a dozen things and none. Bastard was probably getting high off the chlorine wafting up from the pool. Take away the bottles and he'd be arguing, but beer gives him a small bump in sense.
"That's your stuff, T. I do movies."
Trevor's eyes narrow. His breath reeks of beer—given his meth habit, the man has good teeth—enough beer to mellow him the slightest.
"Bullshit." A challenge, not an attack.
"It's—" Aw fuck it. He thinks of Amanda, several weeks ago, another night with just the right amount of alcohol.
No kids in the house is cause enough for celebration. They're lying on the bed, spooning like teenagers. Amanda's face is half-buried in a pillow.
"I don't get you," she murmurs, not sounding like she wants a fight.
Michael's eyes open. "Mm?"
She shifts against his chest, finding a position the slightest bit more comfortable. His arm is draped over her side; he crooks his elbow when she says nothing, wondering if she's drifted off.
"You're never nicer to us than when you're…" She is mumbling through five Kamikazes, so much he can't catch the last word. But he can guess.
Running? Robbing? Murdering?
He jostles her again and she snuggles against him. They've relearned how to talk since the Depository heist four months ago. It's never apple pies and Hallmark cards, but things are easier. Fuck you, you ungrateful prick. Things are better than easy. Things are great and it scares the shit out of him. At least at rock bottom you know where you stand. The moment he doesn't feel as great anymore, is he gonna be a bitter drunk asshole all over again?
He loves the film business, but development hell is trawling and some days there is nothing to do but bark at security guards who've done nothing wrong. Hiding out from cops, cleaning bullet wounds—fuck that, he's had enough for one life. But his heart hammering, jittery everywhere except his hands; throwing down a stack of bills in front of Amanda, telling her to buy whatever she damn well wants and then some; and crashing—sleeping like the fucking dead, for a guy too prone to jolting awake from nightmares and reaching for a gun…shit, he doesn't need that stuff now but what about in a year?
Amanda senses his darkening mood, though she's barely a quarter awake. He has over twenty years of deciphering her drunken ramblings, so he's reasonably sure he hears her right.
"If it's something so…so little I never even hear about it…I wouldn't know I'm supposed to be mad at you."
It's not like the time she snarled at him to find a motel, words barely escaping her clenched jaw and shaking fury. It's also something his wife would never say while sober. Fuck it. In vino veritas. Maybe he's a bastard for burying his face in her neck, kissing her pulse, and wondering how many nuns he saved in a past life to earn this kind of good karma.
"Mikey? Don't go depressed drunk on me!"
Fingers snap an inch from his face and Michael snaps back to his rooftop, slapping the hand away. Trevor sits closer, eyebrow cocked. Fuck, maybe I have had too much to drink. His friend's face is titled, half-hidden in the wavering shadows thrown off from the pool. Michael tries to rally.
"It's—" In vino veritas, he groans to himself. Fuck it. Michael shoves himself up, weight leaning on his hands. "Consulting only. Like Lester, but more experience than theory. Get your own full-timers."
Trevor snorts, less scornful than usual. "Argue semantics all you want, sugartits. I'm a CEO. I hoard contractors so I can shortchange my staff."
Staff.What a joke. Less a staff than a crew, and less a crew than a pack of wild dogs.
Trevor gnaws on ideas like a hound on bones. Michael is too sauced to really care, but he's not sure if Los Santos's criminals or police force are about to be more fucked up.