Close Encounter

by Maggie M

Pairing: No. Well, maybe a slight B/K. I think. Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine.

Many, many thanks to my beta Myriam.

"Who the fuck is that?"

"Chill out, man," Patrick said, "He's with me"

Chris glared at the skinny, dark-haired boy, who looked back with a challenge in his green eyes.

"Oh, joy, another Mick" he groaned.

"And fuck you, too" Patrick said without anger.

"Be nice, Chris," he added, "He's the one who found the car."

Chris looked at the boy with kinder eyes. That last order was very specific, hard to find. Black 1977 Chevy Corvette, real beauty. And Ronnie said yesterday that Barry had been getting impatient. Actually what Ronnie said was `Barry will kick our asses if we won't get it by Sunday. Some important fucker is waiting for it.' So all in all Chris was grateful to the kid for finding that car. But it didn't mean he was going to show it.

"He's just a kid," he said instead.

"Hey!" the boy snapped, "I'm not a fucking kid."

'Yeah, you're a real tough guy" Chris snorted, "And how old are you, tough guy?"

"He's 13, satisfied?" Patrick said, "Stop being an asshole, Chris, and give him a break, will you?"

He lighted a cigarette. "By the way," he added, "He's really smart, actually..." he pretended to think "I think he's smarter than you, so better not get on his bad side."

Damn, he was being told off because of this arrogant whippersnapper. He knew Patrick had a soft spot for anyone waving the green flag of Ireland before his nose, but still. They were friends, stealing together for Barry for the last year and a half, and that was what he got? For a while Chris wished Ronnie was here, with his adoring eyes and unconditional admiration and respect.

Patrick was grinning and the kid smirked and looked at Chris with superiority.

"Yeah, right, whatever," Chris said, really pissed off now. Patrick was 17 years old and cool, even if a fucker sometimes. What did he see in this skinny kid?

"Does our smart guy have a name?" he asked.

"Ryan," the kid said.

"Ok, Ryan, let's get down to business."

But before they could do anything, the girl came from behind the corner. Patrick groaned when he saw her.

"Oh, shit, what the hell does she want?"

The girl came closer.

"Patrick, mom says you have to be home for dinner" she said.

"Tell her I can't. I have to do something."

"She'll be really angry. Says you don't eat much."

Patrick shrugged, but Chris felt jealous. At least Patrick had a mother who still cared. All Chris had was a drunken father and another one of his whores.

"Go now. Can't you see we're busy?" Patrick said.

"Oh really? Doing what?" the girl asked and then cast a hot glance at Chris.

"Hi, Chris" she said, twirling a lock of her golden brown hair around her finger.

"Hello, Joanne" Chris drawled, giving her a suggestive look, knowing full well what an effect it had on her and on every other girl in the neighborhood in fact. Joanne blushed and smiled. Patrick groaned again.

"Damn it, just go already" he snapped, taking her by the arm and pushing in the opposite direction. She didn't resist but she turned twice, giving Chris smoldering looks and smiles. Patrick was looking at all this with something between amusement and irritation and the kid, Ryan, with admiration, which he unsuccessfully tried to hide when he saw Chris looking back at him. Chris smiled, proud of himself, his gaze following Joanne's round, wide hips swaying under her incredibly short skirt until she disappeared behind the corner. Well, right, back to business, he had a shiny, black beauty somewhere out there, just waiting to be snatched.

He stretched out and looked at Ryan.

"So where is it?"

"But I'm going with you, right?"

"No, you're not. Where is it?"

Ryan was silent for a while, an odd, calculating look in his eyes. Chris frowned. What was wrong with this kid?

"Well, you see," Ryan said slowly, "I don't remember the address, but I can show you."


"I'll recognize the house when I see it," Ryan added cheerfully.

Patrick laughed. Chris was furious.

"Come on, man," he said to Patrick trying to reason with him, "We can't take a fucking kid with us."

"He can be useful," Patrick said, "And he's smart, I've told you. He can go."

"Fine, but he's your responsibility. If he'll screw up it's your ass on the line."

"I have no problem with that," Patrick said.

"I won't screw up," Ryan said at the same time, looking extremely angry but also a little bit hurt by Chris' doubts.

Chris shrugged. Right, whatever, but it seemed he had no choice. In a way Patrick was a leader of their little group. He worked for Barry long before Chris joined him and he was the one managing all their financial dealings with their boss. So if he wanted to add Ryan to the team there was little Chris could do about it. Anyway, it was just a recon, they could take him after all.

"Ok, Ryan," he said. "Lead the way."

Ryan led them to the nice, rich part of the town. Chris was there once, looking at the huge, elegant houses and well-groomed lawns with jealousy he didn't want to admit to and contempt, he magnified because it allowed him to pretend he wasn't jealous at all.

They walked slowly down the street, trying to look unsuspicious. Only then Chris started to appreciate Ryan's presence. If he was only with Patrick they would probably receive wary glances from rich people they passed. But one look at Ryan, who looked and behave like a normal boy taken for a walk by his older brothers, who was eating ice-cream and taking animatedly about the movie he saw yesterday, one look and they were smiling instead and Ryan was smiling back, the perfect picture of youthful charm and innocence.

"We're almost there," Ryan said, wiping his fingers, sticky with ice-cream, on his jeans, "It's this big house at the end of the street."

Patrick stopped to light another ciggy and Chris waited impatiently as he was patting his pockets searching for matches. He looked around and then he saw this boy. Blonde-haired, dressed in dark pants and a nice blue sweater, he stood there, in front of the house they just passed and looked at them. Chris looked back with all the arrogance he could muster. Stupid, rich brat, what are you gaping at, huh? But the boy didn't lower his gaze, like he expected him to do, and they stood looking at each other. From this distance Chris didn't see the color of the boy's eyes, but he imagined that they were blue like sky at noon when you lie lazily in the grass letting the sun to caress your body.

Chris was the first one to look away. He didn't like the direction his thoughts were going to. Damn it. Damn him with his stupid blonde hair and his nice, easy life and those eyes that still bore into him, he could feel it.

"Chris, do you have a lighter?" he heard Patrick asking and he turned to him, grateful for the diversion, checking his pockets carefully.

"No," he said, shaking his head.

"I have," Ryan said, pulling a silver, expensivelooking lighter from his pocket.

"It's my dad's," he added, "He got it from his dad."

"You stole a lighter from Seamus O'Reily?" Patrick asked, smiling.

"I didn't," Ryan said, offended. "It fell off his pocket this morning so I pick it up. And completely forgot to give it back. "He handed the lighter to Patrick. "The bastard hasn't even noticed it's gone, so busy shaking Cyril and..." Ryan stopped abruptly. Patrick wasn't smiling anymore.

"Who's Cyril?" Chris asked.

"My brother," Ryan mumbled, eyes squinted as if he was afraid he said something that would get him hurt.

Patrick shook his head, a `don't go there' look in his eyes, so Chris didn't ask anymore.

"Right, let's go, don't have time to stand there all day," Ryan said and marched ahead. Patrick caught up with him, handing him back his lighter. Chris followed slowly, fighting the urge to look back once more. Surely the boy wasn't still looking, probably wasn't even there anymore. But it wouldn't hurt to check, he could be dangerous, he could remember them. So yeah, that was what he was doing, just checking. Chris stopped and turned his head.

At the same time the door sprung open and another blonde-haired boy burst upon the view, bumping into the one Chris was looking at. The woman appeared in the opened window on the first floor.

"Toby, we'll be out in a few minutes" she said.

Toby. So that was his name. Not that he cared, of course. He didn't. He did not.

"And please, look out for Angus, don't let him to get dirty," the woman added.

"All right, mom" Toby shouted, struggling to restrain his younger brother, who was giggling and tickling Toby in the ribs.

"Stop that. Stop that!" Toby was laughing and it was so infectious that Chris started smiling himself. Toby looked up and their eyes met again. Something stirred inside Chris, something that was disturbingly familiar and completely unwanted. He stopped smiling and tore his eyes from Toby's face. He felt as if Toby could guess his secret from them. The secret he buried deep inside him. The secret he wasn't willing to share with anybody.

"Chris, what are you doing?" Patrick asked.

He and Ryan stopped and were looking at him.

He walked to them. "Nothing," he said. "It's nothing. Let's go."

This night everything went wrong. The owner of the car, who was supposed to be out of town till the next day, came back unexpectedly. And when he saw Chris and Patrick hadn't called the police, he drew a gun. Patrick hit him over the head with the heavy, metal key. The guy died five days later. Patrick was arrested the same day, Chris a day later. Patrick confessed to hitting the guy, so Chris was sentenced only for car theft. Ten years in Lardner, parole in five.

The blonde boy named Toby and the strange, smart kid with green eyes called Ryan - he forgot about them. In the face of the complete mess his life became that night they just weren't important.

The end.

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