acne scars and cowboy boots
part one ao3 link
vague summary? ranboo’s adventure starts a little sooner than he’d like. tw for guns and threats but no one gets hurt :]
Less than twelve hours after his departure the next morning, Ranboo finds himself clinging onto his horse’s reins for dear life, flying over the tough desert terrain, bullets zinging past his ears. His face is practically pressed into his mare’s neck, he’s hunkered down so close to her quickly-tiring body, but if he weren’t, his head would surely be shot clean off by the metal pellets that come dangerously close to grazing his delicate skin.
Three other sets of hooves pound the solid, cracked ground behind him, clouds of dust billowing into the sweltering air, accompanied by rancid strings of profanity that would rot even Technoblade’s ears clean off.
Throwing a hurried, panicked glance over his shoulder, Ranboo sees his pursuers are nearly on him, and groans inwardly, urging his horse to go faster, but he can feel her getting tired, and he knows it’s only a matter of time before she’s had enough. God, when he’d decided to take on the offer of the cowboy life, this is not at all what he’d meant.
As Ranboo whispers some sort of haphazard prayer under his breath the only thing that seems to come to mind is, how did he even manage to get himself into this situation?
Ah, right. The pawn shop. Jesus.
The shop was a small, practically rotting building, stuck next to a similarly rundown tavern, only a five mile ride from Techno’s house,if not less. The ugly little thing was a sore thumb in every sense of the metaphor- neon signs and tacky items were advertised in every available window in the store, an abhorred mash of revolting colors and patterns.
Guiding his horse by the reins, Ranboo had stopped by just to drop off what few things of value he owned, a couple golden earrings, collector coins, the occasional broken bracelet chain- things that weren’t worth much in context, but could get him a couple dollars for the upcoming weeks he’d be spending on his lonesome. He was a little reluctant to part with the earrings, but he’d be needing every penny he could get.
He had loosely tied the horse to a lone fence post outside the pawn shop, and stepped inside, carefully gripping the bag of valuables in his hands. The employee at the counter, a man in a worn flannel with a scruffy beard (Ranboo guessed he was in his late thirties to early forties) sat thumbing through a stack of crumpled dollar bills, muttering under his breath.
After a few less-than-comfortable moments of standing there waiting for the man to notice him, Ranboo gently cleared his throat, and the man’s head jerked up. Upon seeing the little velvet bag that Ranboo clutched, his face split into a wide grin, displaying the few golden fillings in his crooked teeth, their marigold color hardly any different from the color of the natural teeth. Ranboo couldn’t help but wince.
“Howdy, m’boy!” greeted the shabby-looking man, his voice gravelly and loud, but not entirely unpleasant.
Ranboo nodded his greeting in return. “Good afternoon, I’m just- here to sell a few things.”
The man leaned forward and rested his chin in his hands in earnest, nodding. “Go on.”
“Right, well-” Ranboo carefully shook the few contents of the bag into his hand, sorting through the assorted pieces. “Just a couple of gold earrings, a silver chain…” Without warning, the man jumped forward and swiped the jewelry from Ranboo’s hand, causing Ranboo to startle and step back.
Bringing a magnifying glass seemingly out of thin air, the man held up the lens to his eye to examine a small golden loop, his brow furrowed in concentration. Ranboo blinked, intertwining his hands together in an attempt to prevent his fingers from fidgeting.
After what seemed like an eternity of watching the man pore over the tiny piece of value, he gently set down the magnifying glass, and the earring next to it. He folded his hands and looked Ranboo square in the eye. Ranboo swallowed.
“Son, you mean to tell me,” the man began, his eyes flashing with something similar to what you see in a rattlesnake’s when you stare him down and that bullet on his tail begins to rattle. “That this… is a gold piece?”
Ranboo opened his mouth, struggling for words. “Yes, I mean, I assume so, I- I haven’t looked at it closely, but I thought that it was, and-” The man’s arm shot out once more, and he grabbed ahold of the collar of Ranboo’s shirt, yanking him far too close, in Ranboo’s opinion. He could smell tobacco and beer on the man’s breath, and he struggled not to wrinkle his nose at the unpleasant stench.
“Don’t play games with me, boy,” snarled the shopkeeper, and Ranboo struggled against his hand. “I think you’re tryna pull some funny little scam on me.”
“I’m- I’m really not,” Ranboo protested, trying to lean away from the man’s rancid breath.
“Don’t get smart. This ain’t no gold piece, and you better tell me that straight before I bring down all hellfire on you.”
“What’s goin’ on here, Rich?” Both Ranboo and the shopkeeper glanced up as two other similarly scruffy men waltzed into the room. They eyed Ranboo with suspicion, and all Ranboo could do was offer them a nervous smile.
“This boy’s tryin’ to scam me,” The man, “Rich”, spat, tightening his grip on Ranboo’s shirt.
“Is that so?” the other man questioned, his hand moving to a holster at his side. “”We don’t take kindly to scammers round here, fella.”
“Nope,” agreed the third man, popping the last consonant for emphasis. “In fact, we like ta eat em with Sunday dinner.” The men stalked closer, and Rich’s breath grew fouler, and Ranboo was starting to feel very much like a cornered animal.
“Welp,” Ranboo said, and with a sudden, dizzying, vwoomp sound filling the air, he suddenly found himself halfway out the door. “That sounds like my cue to leave.”
“Wha- get back here, ya filthy little-” Rich screamed, both him and the other boys springing into action, and Ranboo scrambled for for his horse, clumsily untying the knot keeping her at the fencepost, and slinging his leg over her leather saddle. “H’yah!” he shouted, and his mare broke into a sprint, the shopkeepers already clambering onto their own horses behind him.
So here he was now, having been on the run for the longest five minutes of his life, surviving based on pure luck and a sturdy horse. The sun beat down in the late-afternoon heat, but the sweat on Ranboo’s glistening forehead was the least of his troubles at the moment. He rode for his life, and he had been running for at least another minute before he noticed the absence of hoofbeats behind him and bullets in his ears.
Glancing behind him once more, Ranboo found that his soon-to-be capturers had skidded to a stop on their steeds, simply watching Ranboo slip through their fingers. Their guns were holstered, and their stances showed obvious annoyance that they hadn’t been able to catch the teenage boy.
“Ha!” Ranboo cackled, sitting up straighter and punching the air. “Couldn’t catch me if they- uh oh.” Before Ranboo could even process what was happening, his faithful mare was bucking her hind quarters up, chucking Ranboo off and right into the ravine that he had failed to notice they were coming up on. A strangled scream wrestled its way out of his throat, and by some miracle of god, Ranboo flailed and managed to grab onto a shrub firmly rooted into the ground on the other side of the treacherous scar in the earth.
Breathing heavily, he kicked against the sandy wall, trying desperately to pull himself up onto the solid ground. The jagged rocks far beneath him were not a tempting fate. The sound of cruel, ugly laughter carried through the air and into the ravine in which Ranboo currently hung. Goddamn his involuntary teleporting. He could’ve used some help.
“Look at him!” snorted one of his pursuers, as the three of them came to stand at the edge of the trench and gawk. “Hangin’ there like a strung chicken! Should we finish him off , boss?”
“Nah,” came the reply from Rich, and although Ranboo couldn’t see his face, he could hear the infuriating smirk on the triumphant man’s face. “Let him fall to his death. Maybe it’ll teach him a lesson about scammin’ people.”
After filling themselves up on snickering at the helpless boy (and maybe firing a few bullets near his dangling feet), the three thugs eventually got bored and strolled away, and Ranboo finally got a good enough hold on the bush to pull himself up and out of the ravine. He collapsed on the ground and closed his eyes for a moment, the warm sand pressing against his porcelain-pigmented cheek, still very much out of breath.
Ranboo’s head shot up at the familiar sound of a shotgun being cocked, and found himself staring up the barrel at a young boy (about Ranboo’s age, if he had to guess) with warm, doe-like eyes, and a smattering of freckles across his round face.Two tiny horns poked out from his wild mess of brunette hair to match the goat-like ears that stood in place of human ones.
When the boy spoke, his words came out in some strange combination of a british accent slathered with the familiar southern drawl that most folk took on around these parts, and if Ranboo didn’t speak any english, he would’ve thought the boy’s voice was comforting.
The next words that came out of the stranger’s mouth quickly shattered that illusion.
“You’d better tell me what the hell you’re doing here or I’ll shoot you right between your fuckin’ eyes, cookies an’ cream,” the boy snarled.
Ranboo swallowed. Oh dear.
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