Word Count: 1306
“That was too close last night, Cancer,” Rayn was berating me, “it’s not gonna be long before all the fucking cops in Las Vegas have seen our faces.”
“Well you’re alright, you can pretend to be a girl, you usually seem to get away with that shit. It’s still fucking weird, but we pull in more cash when you’re packing a fake pair of tits,” I tried to hide a grimace from him. I didn’t like the gender bending stuff, but this kid stopped growing when he was about eleven; I’m not sure he actually ever hit puberty. His face is feminine enough, his hair goes down to his waist, his body is small enough that it’s what you’d call petite on a woman, and once he’s dressed up in girl’s clothes with makeup, he looks like the real deal. Sometimes I’m not sure he’s even got a cock.
“That’s not the point, Cancer!” he yelled at me, exasperated.
“Look, Rayn, you’re like my little brother, okay? I’m taking care of you, aren’t I?”
“You’ve had more and more run ins with the cops, they’re going to catch on eventually, even they aren’t that stupid. You need to get us back to Reno.” He didn’t look much like he wanted to put any weight behind that last part.
“Reno,” I repeated, arching an eyebrow.
“Yes, Reno. I’ll be fine, it’s safer there than it is here.”
“Have you lost your mind?”
“No,” he looked up at me, eyes wide.
“No, don’t you give me that face. Rayn,” I warned him, but he had that look on his face, a mixture of ‘I’m not going to drop this’ and the lost puppy face he gave me when we first met as kids. “No.”
“Please, Cancer,” he crept over to me and wrapped his arms around my waist, his chin poking into my ribs as he looked up at me, “we should just go home. You’re good at cutting and running. We’ll still be able to scam enough to get by.”
“We’ve got a good fucking life here, Rayn, which we built from nothing. We were homeless before, but now we have a roof over our heads, and enough food to eat, and you want to go back to Reno? You know you’re dad’s still fucking out there, right?” The mention of his dad was... well it didn’t have a good effect on him, it never did. He dropped off me like I’d just thrown acid in his face, eyes to the floor, suddenly trying to make himself as small and inconspicuous as possible. “I’ll put a bullet in his brain if you’ll let me, Rayn, you know I will.”
“No, don’t,” he muttered at the floor. And there’s the Stockholm syndrome. See, my parents were assholes, they fought, dragged me into it and inevitably I ended up in the ER. Rayn, on the other hand, well his dad was a different kind of asshole.
Rayn’s mom died giving birth to him, and so his dad always blamed him for it. Cody, his brother, was the favourite to the point where Cody got to eat at dinner time and Rayn was shut up in his room going hungry. Cody was a good kid, he did his best to make Rayn’s life a little easier, saving food that kind of thing, but he couldn’t do anything about what his dad did behind a locked door. See where this is going yet?
Yeah, Rayn got raped by his dad, and was a prisoner in his own home. I got him out of there – a bit late, but what can I say, I didn’t get a gun til I was fourteen, I was hardly gonna bust in there with only my fists to protect us. But Rayn never let me shoot him. He deserved it. The cunt deserved worse than death, but he never let me call the cops on him either. He just buried the memories under drugs and this fucked up lifestyle we had going on.
So you can see my confusion when he told me to go back to Reno. I’d rather have seen Rayn put behind bars than back in that area.
“It’s not safe in Reno. Just because everyone already knows what we’re like and lets us get on with it, doesn’t mean we have to go there. We could go anywhere. Cali, maybe. I’m sure there’s something for us in LA. C’mon, Rayn,” I hooked a finger under his chin and forced him to look up at me. “Not Reno.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“We’re not gonna run into him, Cancer, Cody says he never leaves the house anymore, not for anything.”
“He will if he hears you’re in town.”
“He won’t hear anything.”
Five days later, Rayn had worn me down. Now me, I’m stubborn as fuck, but Rayn just... never lets something go. He had his mind set on Reno, and so that’s where we ended up.
We rolled up outside some cheap motel down the road from the IHOP, the one near that Quality Inn that wasn’t really quality at all. We could’ve afforded going there, it was nicer than the motel we ended up in, but then we were looking for somewhere that would turn a blind eye, not a comfy bed.
“IHOP for dinner?” Rayn asked. His tone was bright, but it wasn’t quite the same as normal. I sighed, figuring I wouldn’t bring anything up, ‘cause I didn’t want to get him all upset on our first fucking night there. But something was wrong.
“Sure,” I smiled back at him in what I hoped was a reassuring way. He returned it but it was kinda forced. “C’mon,” I steered him out of the room, hoping I could find a way to cheer him up that didn’t involve spiking his food with coke, “I’ll buy you waffles, ‘kay?” he nodded, stopping to hug me. His face was buried in my chest, and what with there being at least a foot between us in height it was a bit awkward, but I returned the hug, patting him on the back.
In the IHOP, the TV was set to the news station in the background, the subtitles on so people that were actually interested could watch. Wasn’t much help to me, considering I’m illiterate, but Rayn was watching it with me. Both of us were always watching for any mention of us on there. Not that there ever was. It was always the same old boring crap. Y’know. America’s picked another illegal war with some country I’ve never heard of until now, or some other sort of disaster somewhere else. None of it was relevant, really. But Rayn seemed interested in this one particular piece of news that was on. His eyes were fixed on the words onscreen.
“What’s caught your attention, then?” I asked through a mouthful of pie.
“The Centers for Disease Control have fucked up,” he mumbled, still fixated on the news.
“The people that are in control of whether weaponized diseases gets loose or not.”
I looked up at the screen doubtfully. “Well that’s comforting. What’s she saying?” I nodded up at the reporter. She must have been brave, or stupid, to go so close to a building that’s full of deadly diseases, especially if they’ve fucked up. The building was in the background, filling the rest of the screen. She kept gesturing at it, talking about its security measures, I think. I can’t remember what Rayn told me she was saying anymore, but the gist of the story was that something got out, but they don’t think it’ll be a big deal and that they’re dealing with it.
Just like everyone else watching that report, we shrugged it off and thought nothing more of it.