Riley -Part 1-
These characters belong to @deluxewhump Please check out her Max and Pet Series on her blog and fall in love with these characters as I have. This is part one of a two part fanfic I got floating in my head
CW: Set in the Pet-verse, drowning, mentions of past abuse
“Here we are” Max said through a sigh, pulling up the driveway and putting the truck in park. Simon had invited all the guys over for a barbeque “an excuse to show off the new renovations” Max had put it. It seemed like a bleary day for a barbeque. The skies were grey and the weather reports had been hinting at rain all week.
Max rounded the truck and opened the passenger side door. Carlo slid out easily, holding the large cellophane wrapped dish full of ‘tapas’ he had made for the party against his chest. Max helped pick out the recipe online and picked up the ingredients for Carlo the day before, lingering in the kitchen reaching around Carlo, not so discretely, to eat all the ‘broken ones’ “hopefully we have enough left” Carlo had teased.
“You should already know most everyone. Eddie, of course. Andre, Wade, Mark. Some of them may have brought dates” Max trailed off. Carlo snuck a glance at Max trying to search his face for a trace of anything out of the ordinary. Max caught him though, shooting him his signature boyish smile and playfully nudging him with his elbow “None of them nearly as cute as mine” Carlo snorted at the corny remark. Always a gentleman.
Simons house was only slightly bigger than Max’s. A Spanish style villa, all high arches and rounded edges. They followed the murmur of laughter around the corner of the house, behind a row of manicured hedges, the backyard was lit with the soft glow of string lights and gentle hum of acoustic guitar. The usual group that made up Max’s friends were chatting, congregated around a fire pit between the patio and a large pool.
“There he is!” Carlo hears someone call and Eddie walks towards them. Everyone looks so happy and welcoming, save for the boy trailing close behind Eddie. Eyes cast down, strands of chin length black hair hanging limply in front of his eyes, he walks so close to Eddie he nearly trips stepping on the back of his shoe. “Whoop. Careful sweetie. Look where you’re goin’” Eddie stops to lift the boys chin so he can tuck the raven hair behind his ears, unveiling the iciest grey eyes Carlo has ever seen. “You guys know Riley”
This would be their first-time meeting in person. Carlo had seen him before, Eddie’s pet, once in a screen call when he first got Riley and in a few goofy snapchats Eddie had sent him, the both of them crowned in a digital flower filter. A stark contrast to Eddie’s bright, outgoing nature, Riley looked sullen, and withdrawn.
Max shifted a little uncomfortably
“Hey there Riley. Do you remember me? Max.” He smiled and held out his hand slowly for Riley to shake
“Yes, sir. Hello” Riley awkwardly accepted the handshake from behind Eddie, only grasping the ends of Max’s fingers for a quick shake.
“And Carlo? Can you say hello to Carlo?” Eddie coaxed wrapping an arm around Riley and giving a squeeze. Riley looked embarrassed like a kid being forced to apologize to a neighbor for breaking a window.
“Hello Carlo” he mumbled. Carlo gave a tight smile and nodded politely
As the evening went on and Max had let himself be led away by Simon to be shown the house and Carlo was left to the mercy of his friends. He knew and trusted all of them but he couldn’t help but to feel a little out of place around all of their boisterous energy without Max. Still, it was a far cry from the company Keith had kept.
“Have you thought of going into catering, Carlo?” Mark asked through a mouthful of appetizer “These are amazing”
“Say it don’t spray it, man” Andre nudged at Mark, who had a hand cupped under his chin to catch the crumbs.
“No. I don’t know a lot about cooking, just whatever I can find online or recipes Cissy has shown me” Carlo shrugged. He couldn’t help but feel a little proud of himself and the talent he never knew he had.
“You’ve got a real knack for it. I bet you’d be right at home in a kitchen”
Eddie gulped and everyone fell silent. Andres jaw clenched as he blinked at Mark. Wade took a sip of his beer looking anywhere but at Carlo. Mark nearly choked on his food after realizing what he’d said and how it sounded.
“Not like that! I mean like a restaurant setting or like a culinary institute” Mark stammered, red in the face. Carlo huffed a laugh
“No, I know what you meant. It’s just a hobby”
“Anyway!” Eddie cut in, to everyone’s relief. “Speaking of hobbies, I was able to pull a few strings and pick this up for you” Eddie reached over the island of the outdoor bar and handed Carlo a hardcover book. The cover was a velvety matte black with glossy crimson letters that swirled on the front “it’s by that author you like. its-“
“The newest release? thank you Eddie!” Carlo beamed running his fingers over the textured lettering on the spine.
“How many feet pics did you have to send Quentin Tarantino for that one, Eddie?” Andre laughs clapping Eddie on the shoulder. They all erupt in a choir of laughter and jeers at Eddie.
Carlo can’t help but to chuckle a little bit. He looks up and spots Riley, ignored and sitting cross legged at the edge of the pool, tapping his fingers at the surface. Carlo couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for the lonely pet sitting quietly by himself as his master was off entertaining himself.
“Hey guys” Max poked his head out of the sliding glass door “Simon wants you guys to come in see his new sound system” The guys all gave a groan but obliged, filing into the house. Max stands there with the door open head tilted at Carlo. you coming?
“I’ll just be a second”
Max nods with a wink before heading back inside. Over by the pool Riley has moved to sit on the plush cushion of the outdoor loveseat, teetering on the edge arms crossed around his stomach. Carlo approaches calmly as not to spook the boy. His chest tightens at the thought of his own, not so distant, memories of being a skittish pet. He takes a measured breath trying to think of the right words to say. Before he can open his mouth, Riley cuts him off.
“Did master give you that?” He doesn’t move but Carlo can tell he’s referring to the book in his hand.
“Um, Y-yea. He did” Carlo mutters clearing his throat. Riley keeps his head down but looks up at him through dark lashes, malice in his eyes.
“They never taught me to read” Riley snarled “My last masters”
Carlo gulped taking a tentative step backwards “I’m sure Eddie would love to uh…” He couldn’t think of the right thing to say. He knew Eddie must be a good owner but he didn’t want to make promises he couldn’t keep. Riley was on his feet now, eyes on him like he was stalking prey.
“Master only got me because of how much he loves you… and yet, he still picks you” Riley spat. they were in front of him now. He was a head shorter than Carlo but at this distance, twice as threatening.
Before he could say another word, without warning, the air was knocked out of his chest and Carlo was thrown backwards. He threw his arm back to break his fall but was met with the slap of water to the face. Carlo had never learned how to swim and his last memories of being submerged in water involved a large metal basin that the dogs drank out of and a muddy work boot pressed hard to the back of his head. You still thirsty, slugger?
Carlo struggled to find purchase under his feet, every time he thought he was close enough to the surface to take a breath his mouth filled with water. Max? where was Max? Eddie? Anyone? Still inside, no doubt, rolling their eyes at Simon, while he was there sinking in the cold water, lungs restricting in their fight to find oxygen. He could see Riley’s wavy silhouette looking down at him just above the surface. Even though he couldn’t make them out, Carlo could still feel the icy gaze, full of malice, piercing through him.
His head was foggy and dark spots started to cloud his vison. The water swirled and displaced around him and he felt fingers dig a bruising grip into his forearm. Finally breaking the surface, Carlo gasped, coughing at the water droplets he had just inhaled. His eyes and nose burned, his mind to dizzy and ears too full of water to hear the chaos that ensued around him as he was hoisted up over the edge of the pool. He braced himself on his hands and knees on the concrete, coughing hard enough to produce wet burps that turned into him regurgitating the belly full of swallowed pool water. Next thing Carlo knew Max was pulling him up onto his soaking lap and firmly rubbing circles and patting his back, helping him ride out the last of his hacking coughs, pressing lips to his temple, muttering something Carlo couldn’t make out. The sound slowly came back, ringing in his draining ears.
“Are you okay, Baby? Are you okay?” Max’s panicked voice was right above him but there was another sound, the sound of anguished cries coming from over Max’s shoulder. Riley was curled into a ball on the ground howling in terror. He didn’t seem to be being punished or hurt. In fact, Eddie was kneeling over him, petting his hair, trying to console him.
“Carlo, sweetie? Are you hurt? Did you hit your head on anything?” Max’s fingers grazed over Carlos skull gently looking for bumps.
“N-no” Carlo quivered. He was freezing, and curling up close to Max didn’t seem to help, as he was also sopping wet. A fluffy beach towel was draped over his shoulders and Max had his arms around him in an instant, rubbing up and down his forearms trying to create friction to dry him off and warm him up. Carlo whimpered at the pressure against the tender spots on his arm where he had been gripped and hoisted out of the water.
“I know, honey. I know. I’m sorry”
Riley continued to wail, making Carlos gut churn. He had no idea what could’ve happened in the time between shoving him in the pool and now that would’ve made them cry like that.
“For fuck sake, Ed! Could you please get him out of here or something?” Someone shouted, making Carlo flinch. Eddie could only look to each of them with apologetic eyes before finally landing on Carlo.
“Carlo I’m so sor-“
“Now, Eddie!” Max snapped, tightening his grip on Carlo
“M-max, re-eally. I’m f-fine” Carlo insisted. At the moment he was more embarrassed than anything, all eyes on him. He didn’t want Eddie to be in trouble and he had never heard Max yell at anyone like that, let alone a loved one.
“We’re going home” Max said sternly, mouth a hard line, water still dripping from the end of his nose. He helped Carlo to his feet, waited for him to get his balance then steered them towards the hedges from where they came in. When they got to the truck Max held the passenger side door open for Carlo to get in.
“Hold up, man” Simon called, sprinting towards them, handing Max an arm full of extra towels and a flannel sheet. “Here take these. Don’t worry about getting them back to me. Just, whenever you can” Carlo exchanged his wet towel for a dry one and Max shook out the Flannel before wrapping it tightly around Carlo’s shoulders, taking only one towel to the driver side for himself.
Carlo climbed into the truck and bucked himself in. He couldn’t make out what Max and Simon were saying but he could see Max pinching the bridge of his nose as Simon looked to be trying to explain something, a pained look on his face. Max thanked him for the towels and hopped into truck, not even bothering to lay the towel down first. He started the truck and hastily flipped the heat on high, positioning all the vents to point to Carlo.
“What about your seats?” Carlo asked, barely above a whisper. Max huffed a sigh, throwing the truck in reverse.
“I’ll send Eddie the bill”