Them Eastside boys robbed easy. They didn't even put up a fight: hands raising high, lips quivering and all, backing slowly into the alley while staring down Omar's favorite shotgun.
"Y'all probably want to be dropping that cash about now." Omar gestured with the barrel to the fat one in the hoodie, and just like that, he dropped the paper bag clutched in his fist to the ground. Omar pivoted on the tall one in the sweater. "And let's not be forgetting the stash." There was a second's more hesitation this time, but then that crumpled bag fell too.
Omar glanced past their shoulders to Brandon, grinning like crazy behind the sight of his leveled .45. He was right where he should be, flanking with Bailey to cut off escape from the alley. Nothing raggedy about this play today, no sir.
Omar bit down on a smile and looked back at the boys he was sticking up. "Unless you had some other business to bring to my attention, gentlemen, I think we're done here." When they still just stood, staring, Omar took one hand off the shotgun to make a run away motion with his fingers. They took the hint.
"That's a nice score," Bailey said approvingly when they'd gone, grabbing the bag with the drugs and peering inside. "G-pack, at least."
Brandon let out a whoop and scooped up the bag with the cash, carrying it to Omar with a triumphant smile. He'd been pretty down on himself after slipping up on the Barksdale job, but now after two easy Eastside rips where everything went according to plan, he was starting to get his confidence back.
"Yeah, yeah," Omar said, giving into a grin at last. He roughed up Brandon's hair, then pulled him in for a kiss. "You did good."
"Fuck," Brandon ground out, and then he just gave, opening up for Omar to slide in deep and easy. Sometimes Omar would mess with him, slow down, make him thrash around and beg for it, but he was feeling too good tonight to tease.
"You like that, hmm? You want it?" Omar asked in a rough whisper, knowing the answer but wanting to hear it from Brandon's kiss-bruised lips anyway.
"Yeah," Brandon panted, lifting his hips, shoving back against Omar, pushy and eager. "Fuck, c'mon, please."
There was always that moment where everything changed -- playful and easy turning urgent and wild. Omar planted his arms hard on either side of Brandon's shoulders, picking up the pace, driving into Brandon's body with a purposeful rhythm as he watched the heated shades of pleasure wash over Brandon's beautiful face. Brandon was lost now: eyes closed, lips parted, breath coming in ragged moans. When Omar glanced down between their bodies, Brandon's hand was a glistening blur as he jerked himself off relentlessly. On and on he stroked, faster and faster, until his body seized up tight and he was crying out, bucking and writhing beneath Omar, spraying his own sweat-slicked belly with come. Watching that, feeling it, was more than Omar could take. He let go with a groan, slamming home again and again until he came hard, collapsing into Brandon's arms.
It wasn't until Omar woke up later that he even realized he'd fallen asleep. The moon was high that night, throwing a soft, glowing light onto the bed. Brandon was turned onto his side in his usual way: back to Omar, one arm tucked up beneath the pillow. Omar watched him sleep. It'd been a long time since he'd had someone this steady. It was surprisingly easy to do.
Yeah. This one. He leaned down and kissed Brandon's cheek. This one he'd keep for a good long while.
Something was wrong. You couldn't be living off the rip and run for as long as Omar had without good instincts, honed by experience. Omar knew what wrong felt like, and it was this -- the fluttering tightness in his gut as he rattled through the drafty, mostly empty rooms of the squat, puffing through cigarettes until his head ached and his throat was raw with smoke. He tried not to be the worrying kind -- it never changed facts -- but still and all...Brandon should have been home by now.
"Someone beat my score," he'd said when they stopped by the Greek's that afternoon for sandwiches. He'd tugged at Omar's sleeve and pointed to the blinking machine in the corner like it was supposed to explain something.
Omar didn't see the appeal, honestly. Shoot before you get shot was pretty much his life already, why pay good money for a fake version of that? But Brandon loved them games. He'd play for hours, gather a crowd around to watch, put his name at the top of the screen for all to see.
Sometimes a man had to make his mark, Omar got that -- so he wasn't surprised when Brandon wanted to go back to the Greek's tonight to regain that flashing throne. And it was more than just the score too -- all this laying low was plain wearing on him. Omar could feel Brandon's restlessness growing by the day. He was pressing for them to pull more jobs, even, just to have something to do. You could say: "that ain't how this game works," and "timing is everything." You could tell him what you knew: how to read a situation, how to play them odds. But at the end of the day, advice was all you really had to give. Decision had to be Brandon's. Couldn't go treating a man like a boy -- not and get what neither of you wanted out of it.
Omar sank down onto their bed. A cold draft seeped in through the window they had to keep cracked for the wires tapping electric and cable off the street line. He turned on the TV, ran around the dial, then switched it off again without watching anything.
"I won't stay long," Brandon had promised, sitting right there, on the floor, looking up at Omar from under them long eyelashes while he pulled on his sneakers, getting ready to go.
Maybe he was just talking to some of the boys he used to hang with on the corner back in the day before they'd hooked up. Gone off to drink a beer, even. Omar never cared much for feeling fuzzy around the edges, but Brandon liked to cut loose sometimes. Maybe he'd done good at the games and got his top score back and all, just wasn't keeping track of the time.
But wrong felt like this.
The shame of it was, he didn't have nothing of Brandon's to remember him by. Not even the Polaroids Bailey'd taken, just laughing and fooling around after that last Eastside rip, that got destroyed when Wee-Bey and Stinkum trashed the squat. Nothing was left but memories, and they...faded. Even when you fought it. Pictures that exist only in your mind couldn't help but get blurrier as the days, as life, wore on.
The feeling was still strong, though. What swelled up in his chest whenever he thought about what they'd done to Brandon. Cuffed, burned, and broken. Put out in the alley like some piece of trash. Wasn't no getting over that. And there was still the fierce pride that Brandon had proved so strong, had never given Omar up, even after everything they'd done to him.
Two years' passing made no difference. Omar was a patient man. He could wait it out as long as he needed until them Barksdales got sloppy, one by one. The soldiers had come easy enough -- Stinkum dropped, a bullet into Bey, and Bey and Bird caged up forever and all. Kingpins were harder. Avon might have slipped his full jail run, but there was still time for him to get his. Stringer was the one who meant the most, anyway. Mastermind. The man with the plan.
Omar would have preferred to take care of it on his own, but he couldn't dispute Brother Mouzone's desire to be along. Stringer had done enough dirt to earn them both showing up, after all.
"Are we ready, then?" Mouzone asked in his weird, clipped accent, buttoning his sharp-looking suit jacket and tugging to conceal the bulge of the Walther.
"Most assuredly, Bowtie," Omar replied, sweeping his trench coat closed.
And after, when the shots' echoes died, there was a strange stillness in the air. Omar stepped closer, needing to see. Much as he'd figured, alive or dead, Stringer's eyes were a window to nothing. Killing him brought justice, but no peace.
Well, justice was something anyway.
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