And I'm back with a new fic!When: Max Payne 1, during Max's undercover stintWho: Max, Vinnie Gognitti, Joe the random mob-connected guy.What: In order to bring them down, Max has to become them. In order to become them, he's got to get them to trust him.Warning: Deals with drug addiction, criminal activities, and refers to violence. Probably PG-13-ish. No sex or bewbies, sadly.
A hurried phone call with Alex made everything clear: I had to move before the stuff did, and fast. No more beating around the bush and peddling 5 dollar hits of Valkyr and dropping hints I wanted to be included in some of the riskier deals. That in and of itself was weird, not something that someone of the faint of heart would do. You had to have brass balls if you were trafficking Valkyr to the hard core users. That, or preferably have body armor and a mouth piece in case the shit hit the fan. Even so, there was a shortage of willing, warm bodies, considering the short shelf life for the guys who either only had half a brain or a death wish. After all, pushing Valkyr to the big fish was a quick ticket to fast money, if you’d be willing to take the risk. Offering myself up to the roulette table would get me notice, something I needed.
The only problem was how- I could think of a few possibilities, but each seemed to have a drawback as big as the payoff of getting in with the popular boys and girls. I could sell it straight to Joe, who I'd be seeing later during our regular backdoor ware routes, but there was a good chance he'd get suspicious about my sudden insistence. And Joe was my gateway to seeing Gognitti, so making Joe look at me cockeyed wasn't the smartest thing to do. There was no way I could threaten him into getting me to Gognitti- I'd be left bleeding in one of the half dozen back alleys we'd be trekking through. It would blow my cover quicker than a typhoon.
In the cramped phone booth, I maneuvered until I could plant my back against one of the walls, waving off a potential interloper with a glare. I fished out the bottle of magical little pills I'd recently started swallowing, and shook a few into a hand to palm them into my mouth. This new hobby started when I got the feeling that seeing someone as squeaky clean as me pushing Valkyr was more than a little off. I was pissed at myself for developing a habit like this, but keeping the cover meant doing things you didn't like.
I knew I already had a belly full of that crap already. But if it meant curtains for these yahoos, I'd do it.
The muffled rattle of the pills gave me an idea that if it weren't for the fact I knew I had an ulcer, I'd pin this roiling in my gut down to being the plan I couldn't stomach. The couple seconds I spent splitting my head over it gave me the sinking feeling that the drawback that I’d identified was likely something that would barely be a drawback, especially in this business. Except for the part where my dignity would be walking a fine line like a drunk on a Friday night. And the possibility that I might be kicked to the curb without a second glance if it went down wrong.
You exposed your throat more often than you wanted to in this business. There were no safe places, no ways to guard your weaknesses. They’d be found out and needled at until you died or found a way to make it a strength. Have lady problems? Beat them or the guys that suggest you do. Family have a history of mental health problems? Threaten that’ll you’ll snap one day and slaughter somebody.
Develop an addiction? Let somebody think they own your skin for supplying you with what you need. The good thing about this is that it didn’t have to be permanent- give me another week, and I’d cut myself back so they couldn’t team up on me. But I’d still be where I needed to be- watching where the real action happened.
Bad thing, good thing- it would get me results faster than playing the tarnished Boy Scout as I had been.
Someone pecked on the glass of the booth, drawing my attention. Outside, Joe raised both his hands like he didn't know what he was going to do with me, and motioned me out.
Joe bought the gag well enough. By the time we'd reached the end of the street corner, my pupils were constricted almost painfully, and I was twitching like someone hooked up to the electric chair. My ragged pleading to see Gognitti must have been sincere enough for Joe to believe, and while he argued my growing addiction with me, he eventually gave when I convinced him that Gognitti's stash of prescription pain meds were the only kind that would help me. The flashy bruises on my ribs and the healing knife wound that I won during a scuffle with some punks over walking on their turf a week ago, which looked like an angry red mouth stretching across my left side, were probably the cinchers of the act. I didn’t have to fake the pain, and I was running dry on the meds I had been given.
Joe assured me we'd see him at around five, since we'd be passing the restaurant Gognitti frequented for dinner. By that time the drugs had taken full effect, and I could only mumble an agreement, and shuffle after him to help him with the deals by glaring at the customers. It was only 3:00 then, and I hazily predicted I'd be coming down by about 4:30, giving me an extra 30 to manufacture some amount of need for a fix. That and my ribs would be screaming at me, so I wouldn't have to fake it too much.
When 5:00 rolled around, I found out that the DEA hadn't been lying to me when I'd been told that someone who'd gotten hooked on painkillers would feel pain more acutely if they were going through withdrawal. Never having been addicted to anything aside for caffeine and nicotine, I had been reluctant to fully believe them. I had to stop a few times to suck in a breath my lungs had refused to grab because of the pain dotting my ribcage, prompting good old Joe to ask me if I was okay. The act was becoming less of an act and more the real deal, and it occurred to me that I was not liking this development at all as I pushed myself into taking a few halting steps to keep moving.
I had a grade-A headache when we reached the glass door that opened into the little deli where Gognitti was grabbing dinner. Rumor was, if I drudged it correctly out of my brain, that Gognitti was waiting for Sandra the elusive Middle Eastern hooker-
Wait, no, that wasn't right. That was last Tuesday. No, this had to do with the phone call with Alex. The stuff- there was a big, backdoor deal that was going to happen that Gognitti was hard pressed to find support for. I could dimly recall Alex's voice telling me that the regular goons were calling in with head colds to be counted out of the deal. And how could Gognitti resist someone desperate enough to risk their neck like this for a bottle of crap he regularly kept on him.
Only problem was convincing him I could keep my head on my shoulders during the deal. At least long enough for the transaction to seal. I figured that as long as I limited how many of the magical little pills I inhaled, I could do it. The lights inside the diner were too bright, and I squinted as I made my way over. Gognitti was sitting there in a booth alone- unusual for him, considering he generally didn't travel to these meets without at least one guy. He looked pissed and vaguely uneasy, like he was trying hard not to imagine himself stuffed in a dumpster with his throat slit if the deal went bad. When he heard our footsteps coming close to him, his head lifted from its careful study of the plate of pasta and sauce he'd been intent on mangling. He was one of those people who picked at his food until the sight of it disgusted him and he couldn't eat it. Judging by the state of the manicotti, he'd been at it for a few minutes, not quite long enough to really get himself scared for the deal.
Could be good, could be bad. Joe gave Gognitti a greeting I wasn't exactly paying attention to, considering I was more occupied in wondering if my ribs were trying to push themselves out of the slit on my side. I came back down to earth when I realize Gognitti had addressed me. I was trying to recall what it was he said when Gognitti whistled and snapped in front of my eyes, "Hello- you in there? Wake up, Payne."
I stopped myself from shaking my head to clear it, having the feeling I'd look more like a junkie than I'd been acting already. "Yeah, sorry." I reached up to pinch my nose bridge. "Been a long day."
"Freakin' great." Gognitti cleared his mouth while he sketched a 'what' gesture with his hands. "What is it. I got something happening at six, an' I don' need you around screwin' it up." I lowered my hand, the motion shifting my ribs, and that old pain woke back up, roaring across the bones. I caved, bent double with a snarl on my face, seating myself across from Gognitti before I ended up on the ground. "Look," I ground out. "I need-" I fished in my pocket with the hand that wasn't clenched in a fist on the table, noting the tremors, and brought out the empty pill bottle, dropping it on the table, "-more of that. You give me some, and you've got me for this tea party you've got arranged." I kept my eyes locked on Vinnie, letting him see that I was sane, just in enough pain to make me offer my skin for something like this.
Which made me wonder why the hell Gognitti was doing it- given the choice, Gognitti would have beaten one of his men into doing it before going himself. It occurred to me that Punchinello had probably put the fear of God into Gognitti to make him do it. Which meant Gognitti was twice as desperate for back up. Lucky me.
We traded impassive glances before Gognitti shifted back in his seat, leaning back to get to his pocket. "Okay, Payne. Okay. But you understand one thing." He pulled out one of the orange-tinted bottles and popped off the cap, shaking out a few of the little pills into his palm, which he rolled forward to grip them between his fingers. He stabbed the fingers at me, and stood, moving around the small table to stand by my side. He looked down at me, a hard shine in his blue eyes that told me the nervousness had shifted into the brand of sadism he was known to practice. I was less wary that I ought to have been- at worst, I thought wearily, Gognitti would serve me another beating.
Then the cold, skinny fingers of one hand latched under my jaw and pried it open, and I huffed in surprise, but didn't jerk back. He stuffed the pills into my mouth and, releasing my face to clamp the hand on my shoulder while I gulped the pills, bent so his face was level with mine. I could hear the hollow little rattle of the pills as he slipped the bottle into my jacket pocket, and he said just loud enough for me to hear, "You do exactly as I say, when I say, how I say it. Your ass fuckin' belongs to me, Payne."
Maybe it was the drugs, but a quick jolt of elation cut through the rumbling veil of pain.
I was in. “You got it.”
Amazing job! The characterizations were oh so perfect and although Max has always been my least favorite character, I just felt so badly for him.*goes back to lurking*
Oh no, don't lurk leave! D: We need more people inhabiting this crumbling little fandom of ours. Thanks for the review! It's always nice to see new faces around here. And I'm glad I managed to make him sympathetic. :D
:O It's alive!!Awesome job once again, I always enjoyed your writings! :) You get people so in-character, and in interesting situations that make me re-read your stories. I liked the mention of an ulcer, I still remember that "freakin' bleeding ulcer" story :) I like to read about Max during his under-cover days. It's not touched much in the games, just a quick mention. But it's interesting to think about the character dynamics Max had with the baddies at the time. He was there for quite a while and he must've had good and bad days with the mobsters. And I like the mob :) My favourite parts in MP games were the parts with the mob....hey, you posted some Vinnie/Max fic earlier this year but I somehow missed that :O Oooooh *excited about that and goes to read it*--back after reading. Aweesooommeee. :) <3Vinnie<3. I've been looking for Vinnie fics on fanfic.net but haven't had much luck. And a mention of Lou and Sal? I don't know if the names were a coincidence, but I saw it as a reference to voitaic's fic that mentioned briefly mobsters by that name :)I like the way you describe things and people, you paint such vivid and alive images of things into my head, like in these parts: He looked pissed and vaguely uneasy, like he was trying hard not to imagine himself stuffed in a dumpster with his throat slit if the deal went bad. When he heard our footsteps coming close to him, his head lifted from its careful study of the plate of pasta and sauce he'd been intent on mangling. He was one of those people who picked at his food until the sight of it disgusted him and he couldn't eat it.Gognitti wasn't exactly hiding, but he sure as hell wasn't sitting by the plate glass windows. He reminded me a little of the rats that scurried under the dumpsters when they heard footsteps coming, always looking for corners to hide it.The Max Payne movie wasn't that special. But at least it got me back into playing MP games again, and checking out if anything new is going on with MP fandom online, and even drawing a few fan artsy pieces :) I went digging up your old fics that I had saved on my computer a few years ago, and I was re-reading them and they were just sooo gooooood.
HOLY SHIT HOW DID I MISS THIS