3

Trevor wondered briefly if the blaring music was better than the swallowing silence that ate at him like darkness. In the silence, he was left to his thoughts- but in the noisy atmosphere of the strip club, there were too many distractions.

Half-eaten thoughts began scratching at the back of his eyes, and he'd finally have to close them and curl into himself further on the couch, clenching his hands together and grinding his teeth.

"Trouble?"

"Go. The fuck. Away. Ryan."

"Ooh. Alrighty. I'll wait until you cool down a little."

When he opened his eyes, he could see his figure through blurred and doubled vision settling down into his chair. The lack of footsteps brought him some form of closure, but the creaking of the chair made a shiver run down his spine. It was getting worse.

"What's got you twisted, little bro?"

"Fuck you."

"C'mon, knock that off. I know you love me, you dumb fuck."

Trevor shut his eyes again.

"You know I love you, dumb fuck, stop being a needy bitch." Trevor whispered back almost inaudibly.

"I heard that." Ryan replied with a smirk, "Stop this bullshit, Trevor. Just relax. There's nothing wrong with you."

"Then why're you here? You're dead."

"...Good point."

"I'm not okay."

"You're clean though, aren't you? No drugs, alcohol..."

"Yeah."

"That's good, that stuff only feeds the hallucinations, ya' know."

"Wait...you think it's the drugs?" Trevor gave a sordid laugh, anger tingeing his escalating words as he slowly uncurled himself, "The hooch? I'm fucking crazy, Ryan. Insane. Just like Michael always said!"

"You don't know what you're talking about, shut the fuck up!" Ryan became desperate, looking to him with determined eyes.

"I'm not crazy, but I'm talking to a dead guy? Sounds real fucking believable, right?"

"But you're not crazy, Trev. Look, we all go through some shit at some point, ya' know? This is just like...a bump in the road."

"Why didn't you think of that before you jumped?"

There was silence at this and Trevor swallowed, opening his eyes again to view his desk and made sure Ryan was still there.

Neither of them said anything for a moment.

"Ryan."

"Yeah, Trev."

"Think I'd go to hell if I died right now?"

"Wha-? I dunno, Trev." Ryan looked away, uninterested, "Bible says if you repent and mean it, you'll be forgiven."

"Yeah, that was Ma's excuse for everything, wasn't it?"

"Yeah..well...for once, she told the truth, huh? Maybe hell froze over and it's not so bad there anymore."

Trevor bit his bottom lip to refrain from defending her- in truth he couldn't find a way to defend her this time.

"See those pills on my desk?"

Ryan scanned over the desk for a moment, and upon seeing a little yellow bottle, nodded and looked back at Trevor.

"If I took all those..."

Ryan's eyes locked on Trevor's face, his body tensing.

"You'd die."

"Yeah, I would." Trevor said this as a fact, looking away from both him and the pills at this.

There was again, silence between them and Trevor just stared back at Ryan who was taking on a dark look.

"Trev, there's not much of a difference after you die."

"No?"

"No. Just an escape from your physical problems. And, don't you think Michael'd be kinda...I dunno...pissed?"

"Fuck Michael, he deserves to be pissed off."

Ryan snorted, rolled his eyes and leaned back into the chair casually, crossing a leg over his knee. "You wanna kill yourself? I can't toss you the pills. But they're right here. You'll just be as fucked up as you are now. No peaceful white pearly gates." Ryan sighed, "You'd probably just end up in purgatory anyway."

"I hear it's nice there."

"If you like being miserable, sure."

But there wouldn't be any more of this. It would just be him, left to silence and his own thoughts. Left to isolation, which is where maybe, he belonged.

"Everyone's abandoned me...maybe it's time I abandon them, huh?" Trevor looked up quietly to Ryan, hope in his eyes for some form of approval.

Ryan swallowed and leaned back, looking at Trevor with glassy eyes and folded arms. He shrugged.

"I can't stop you." He whispered, "Like you couldn't stop me."

"At least you're not a fucking hypocrite on top of it all, huh?"

Trevor took a breath and sat upright on the sofa, staring across the way at the yellow bottle. He could do it. He could be done. Figure it all out in eternal silence where there weren't anymore worries, or voices, or hallucinations. He'd know what's real and what wasn't. No more darkness.

No more darkness.

Staring at the half bottle of hope, made him for the first time in a long time, truly happy in a way that was indescribable.

"God..." Trevor mulled over his next two words carefully, and after some thought, decided to say it, "...forgive me."

"That's all your gonna say?"

Ryan gave a cocky smirk that was no doubt a fa├žade.

"It's all I need to say."

He stood up, crossed the space between himself and the desk and put a hand on the pill bottle. Pausing quietly, to absorb the moment. The last moments of his life.

Ryan sat forward, his cocky smirk gone. "Trev..."

"Don't leave..." Trevor whispered roughly, looking to Ryan with fear flecking his hard gaze.

"I..."

"I never told a fucking soul you jumped off that cliff. You can stay here with me."

"Okay," He said, "Okay, fine."

He snapped the lid off and shook the remaining pills into his hand, throwing them to the back of his throat and swallowing them dry.


It was a silent dinner, and Michal wondered briefly, if he should call.

Call who though?

Amanda, to check up on things maybe. She'd called him at lunch time, but a part of him that loved her had rekindled and he was becoming sentimental maybe in his old age, but he wanted to hear her voice.

He bit into the delivery pizza, feet propped up on the coffee table and wondered then next, who he'd call.

No one, should've been the answer, but another part of him was burning inside- and that was the smallest inkling of concern that had unknown origins.

Trevor.

The man that had let his Chinese attackers take him and had reluctantly told Franklin about it at all.

But in his defense, Michael had abandoned the idea of ever seeing him again for ten years and laid out by his pool for many many days where thoughts of him came, but he swatted away- labeling those thoughts as toxic and hazardous.

God he loved that sick fucker, but having Trevor as your brother was dangerous business- more dangerous than any heist they'd ever been on. Anything could happen to your life at any moment thanks to Trevor fucking Phillips.

Though Trevor had saved his ass too many times to count with his unrivaled shooting and flying skills.

Just as well though, he'd saved Trevor's ass multiple times with his exemplary stealth and sniper abilities.

He had a feeling though, when the Chinese had captured him- Trevor's 'I-wish-you-were-dead' attitude wasn't just about fucking Brad, a little prick they dragged through heist after heist in the name of brotherhood.

Michael couldn't put his finger on what it was- but there was something else about it.

It wasn't about Brad, or even the fucking principal-...or maybe it was just the principal of it? If Michael thought long enough, he came to a few crazy excuses as to why Trevor Phillips had abandoned him that one time.

And maybe, there was just one of those reasons he'd made up that actually made any sense- but he'd never ask Trevor if it were true. Michael recounted Trevor's little snippets of stories he told- which were never fully explained, or very well told at all, however they were enough to gain a little insight.

He remembered how Trevor once mentioned his mother had left him at home for a week- never coming back for all that time or calling or anything to let him know she was alright. He never knew where she was because he never saw her leave. There was just a note that said 'Don't look for me, I'll be back.'

She came back with mascara down her face and bruises.

Trevor wouldn't share anymore than that and when Michael had urged him to reveal where she had been, he came back with the ol', 'Why don't you go ask her yourself? She won't tell me.'

But that was his response to most things, just with the replacement of her and she depending on the scenario.

So, there was a time when he'd been abandoned without anyone telling him anything.

Unfair.

Then there's his brother's mysterious death that Trevor said had been caused by a hiking accident. Nothing else was revealed.

Another case of abandonment when you thought about it. His brother left him without any reasoning.

Unfair.

So then how about his father? Trevor especially eluded discussion of his biological father, but once mentioned that he left them and went down river- whatever that meant. Probably a Canadian saying, Michael reasoned.

Another case of abandonment though.

Unfair.

Oh, and how about when Ryan left to join the Air Force in America shortly before his death? Leaving Trevor to his severely unbalanced mother...all alone.

Abandoned.

Unfair.

And then there was his own story. Michael Townley turning into Michael De Santa and through Trevor's eyes, had forgotten all about him for ten whole years. Then on top of it all, sustained a lie and killed a man for his own life.

It wasn't the point he let Brad die to save himself because Trevor probably would've done the same thing.

It was that it had been Brad. Brad who had been their brother through it all- no matter how much of a fucking prick he was. He abandoned their brotherhood and then abandoned Trevor. Maybe the one person who Trevor never thought would do it. And when Trevor was suffocated with the truth, maybe it was just too much.

Maybe it was too much fucking betrayal.

But Michael had never meant to betray him.

He had a family, and he lost sight of his best friend.

He never forgot him.

But he got caught up in a world of deceit, in a world of hypocrisy. And he couldn't escape it.

His kids were fucked up beyond repair from it all and when Michael thought back on the moment he knew he was gonna be a Dad, he felt like taking a hit off Jimmy's bong upstairs.

He'd imagined teaching them about the world- and how sometimes wrong can be right. Right can be wrong. But to always have your standards and your morals. He had imagined spoiling them but teaching them the rough ways of the world. But never, he promised, never would he let them grow up in a trailer like he and Trevor had.

Never would he let them be touched by the life of crime he led.

But he spoiled them...and ruined them.

He picked up the phone and speed dialed Amanda.

He never meant to hurt everyone.

He never meant to ruin their marriage.

Never meant to be a bad father like his old man.

Never meant to abandon the one friend he could always count on.

God, how bad had he fucked up?

"Hello?...Michael?" The voice was dreamy, groggily coming around.

"Amanda? Yeah, it's me."

"Michael...what'd you need? Is everything okay? Oh, fuck did you burn down the house or-"

"No, no. C'mon, Amanda." He laughed quietly, "No, everything's fine, I...just wanted to say good night. Maybe I was a little too late."

"No..no it's fine. I...-...nevermind." She laughed nervously as though talking to him for the first time.

"I love you."

"Michael...you're not...doing anything stupid are you? Like..you don't think you're gonna die tonight or something, right? This isn't our last words?"

"Fuck, Amanda, I just love you, baby. That's all. I just wanted to tell you, I mean- I don't get enough chances to tell you is all. And I wanted to say I'm sorry."

"Sorry?"

"Sorry for all the times I've fucked up over the years I...nevermind, look, I'm sorry, Babe. Maybe I had too many of your pills out of the cabinet."

Amanda laughed quietly, "It's okay. Michael, I love you too. It's been so long since I've said that and actually meant it."

"You mean to say when I say it, I have to actually mean it?"

"Michael."

'I'm only kidding." His laughter died down, "I know what you mean. It's been a while since a lot of things."

"...like real sex?"

"We're on the same wavelength, Baby."

"When I get home, ya' know..."

"I'm on it." Michael said back with a laugh, "I'll see you then, Babe. Talk to you tomorrow, I'm gonna let you sleep."

"Like I'm gonna be able to sleep now. Fuck you Michael Townley. Good night."

"Night."

Michael looked down at the phone.

Trevor.

Trevor came next.


"Damn it, Trevor."

Trevor clung onto the cold porcelain, retching before he could even take another breath, spitting when he felt the dribble.

He gasped and attempted to get onto his knees.

"You woke me up, you fuck. I was almost dead."

The rhythmic thumping of the music against the tile in the bathroom matched the pulsating in his head and vibrated in the flannel shirt that swallowed him whole. The ringing of his cellphone came next. He rolled his eyes and gave a deep groan, "Motherfuck. Who the hell's calling me?"

He looked down at his watch, reading ten, he decided it was definitely not business related, so it had to either be Franklin, Michael, or possibly Lester.

The caller ID said 'Traitor', he lifted the phone to his ear, "Hello?"

"Hey, Trev." Michael said unsure, he was about to rally this up with something reasonable like, 'make sure you get to Lester's at eight this time, not eight thirty, alright?' but was cut off by Trevor himself.

"Hey? Hey? Is that all you have to say at ten at night?"

"Oh cut the shit man, you stay up until at least four in the morning."

"And where is your work ethic? We've got a meeting at eight you unorganized fuck."

Michael scoffed and pushed back his laughter.

"I was just calling to say get your ass to sleep, we've got a big day tomorrow."

"Well...could've done that a lot easier with you not in the picture."

"Get some sleep, Trev."

"Yeah...well you too, Dollface. Or should I say ex-Dollface now that you're a fat nobody laying up in their mansion, retired at the age of forty-"

A resulting 'click' came to his ear over the line and couldn't help himself but smile at the sound, snorting in the process.

When he looked up, Ryan was gone.