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Fic: Chasing Ghosts

Title: Chasing Ghosts 1/?

Author: veiledndarkness

Rating: R

Pairing: Implied previous Bobby/Jack, Max/Jack

Summary: Not all those who wander are lost.

Disclaimer: Not mine, no harm intended, and no profit made

Crossover between Four Brothers/Max Payne




X

New York wasn’t what Jack had expected.

When he’d stood in front of the bus depot, swaying with the crowds of people milling about, he’d found the view before him to be disappointing. Gray. Everything was gray. The sky, the puffy clouds that sagged through the skyline, they were dark. Even the snow under his boots seemed dingy and dirty.

He exhaled a slow breath, verging on a sigh. “New York, New York…” he muttered as he finally merged with the people exiting the station. Maybe Sinatra had had high hopes for the city, but then again, maybe he hadn’t known how the city would look when covered with a coat of gray.

Jack lit a cigarette as he walked, slushy snow dampening the edges of his worn boots. He shouldered his duffle bag with one arm, clutching his guitar case close to his body, watching the seemingly endless mass of people with him on the sidewalk march along. With Thanksgiving approaching, he figured there should still be some cheer somewhere.

Guess not.

He wandered aimlessly, winding his way through the streets. Like any other tourist he craned his neck, staring up at the maze of skyscrapers that lined the streets. Each one seemed to stretch higher than the previous, stretching to the snowflakes that were falling now.

Half a pack of cigarettes later, Jack found refuge from the snow in an old diner, one that was tucked in a corner, somewhere in the vicinity of East Harlem. He scuffed the snow off his boots, shaking the excess from his hair. At least the diner was warm, he mused, looking at the attempts at holiday cheer, the hints that December was on its way. He felt a pang echo through him, a phantom scent of gingerbread tickling his nose for a brief moment, teasing.

He slid into a booth as the waitress seated him, nodding at the offer of coffee. His blood felt ice cold. The duct tape on the booth seats, the chalkboard on the wall, the tired old men seated along the counter…Jack’s lips twitched in mild amusement. He’d been in places like these far too many times. Another pang echoed and his attempts at a smile faded. Bobby had preferred diners like these.

X

Halfway through his meal of pancakes and somewhere between his second and third cup of coffee, Jack felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He paused mid-chew, his long, lean body completely alert. Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see a blur, a shape to his right. He gripped his fork and swallowed the mouthful of pancakes, casually turning his head to follow his line of vision.

He hated being stared at, always had.

The blur sharpened into an outline of a man, one dressed in dark colors, his hands and face the only thing to contrast him, his brown hair cropped closely to his head. He sat across from Jack, a steaming coffee mug clasped in his hands. He stared intently at Jack, staring at him like he was committing some offense simply by sitting there.

Cop. Jack’s chin lifted ever so slightly. He could practically smell the ‘cop’ vibe coming off him. Living with his brothers had taught him nearly everything he ever needed to know about making someone for a cop. He didn’t relax the grip on his fork. Didn’t trust cops, not now, not back when he’d needed one the most as a kid.

He raised his glance to match the one aimed at him, daring the man silently to find some excuse to do his thing, to make some bullshit reason as to why he was being eyed like a dangerous offender.

Then, to Jack’s stunned surprise, the man moved off his chair and slid into Jack’s booth, sitting opposite him. He still stared, but now the look seemed less menacing, less likely to result with Jack in handcuffs and a bloody lip. And Christ, did he ever look like…

’don’t think about him’

Jack lowered his hand to the tabletop, confusion marring his face.

“Those pancakes any good?”

He blinked, unnerved completely. “Huh?”

The man nodded to the plate of food. Jack looked down, inwardly cursing his sudden lack of language. He stared at his half eaten food, then at the man. “Yeah…”

“Never tried them here, myself,” the man looked up, his gaze landing on the chalkboard above Jack’s head.

Jack rested his fork on his plate warily. He could hear the tinge of accent to his voice, one that reminded him of Bobby. He blinked, tucking the flicker of pain back expertly.

’don’t think of him…’

“They’re not homemade,” he offered, shrugging his shoulders.

The man’s dark brown eyes gleamed for a second. Jack thought it might have been amusement in them. “Yeah,” he nodded. He drank from his coffee mug, his gaze returning to Jack’s.

“You’re not from around here.”

Jack shrugged again. He pushed his fork around on the plate, dragging it through the syrup.

“Are you on vacation or just passing through?”

Anger sparked through Jack. He clenched his jaw. “Does it matter, Officer?”

The man inclined his head a little, offering a wan smile. “Detective, actually,” he murmured.

“Well, in that case,” Jack shoved his plate forward,” Detective, it’s none of your goddamned business.”

The man merely sipped his coffee. “I’m thinking you’re from a big city. You’ve got that look about you. I’m thinking inner city maybe. “

Jack gritted his teeth. ‘Fucking cops,’ he swore silently. “Look, let’s cut the shit right now, ok?” he forced attitude into his voice. “I’m just passin’ through. I’m not going to do anything, I’m not a troublemaker, and I don’t have a gun on me. There anything else you need to ask?”

“Is that all?” he set his coffee mug down. “Settle down, kid, I’m not looking to arrest you.”

Jack snorted. He grabbed his plate back and took one big angry bite out of his pancakes. “Heard that before,” he snapped.

“So in other words, I run you, I’m gonna find a history?”

“Do whatever you want, man, I don’t give a shit but do you mind if I finish this first?”

“By all means,” the man sat back in his seat. He watched Jack eat, falling back into silence.

Jack polished off the rest of his food and drained his coffee cup. He pulled his old wallet out and, feeling the heavy weight of the detective’s eyes, rifled through the few bills he had left. He took out a ten and dropped it on the table, next to his plate.

“You make it a habit to stare at people while they eat?”

The man shrugged at him. Jack huffed and gathered up his duffle bag. “You’re an ass, you know that?”

“So I’ve been told more than once over the years, kid.”

Jack stared back at him, irritated. God, he was just like…He exhaled heavily. “I bet you have.” He shouldered his bag once more. “Thanks for the interrogation an’ all but I gotta be on my way.”

The man said nothing, watching him leave the diner, cradling his guitar case closely to his side. Jack winced as he stepped back into the cold air, the tips of his ears burning in the frigid wind. He rubbed his hands together, wishing like hell that he’d remembered to bring his gloves when he’d left in a blaze of glory.

He heard the door close behind him and knew, he knew it was him, standing on the step behind him, that silent stare drilling into his back. Jack turned his head and yeah, of course he was right.

“What?”

“Where’re you heading?”

X

When he looked back over things, Jack wasn’t quite sure how he ended up following the nearly mute detective back to his apartment. He trudged behind him, hating the gritty, slushy snow, hating the gray pallor over everything.

And wasn’t he deliberately doing this? Doing everything that Angel would have scolded him for? That Jerry would have fretted over? Jack scowled at the floor of the hallway, watching the melting snow trickle from his boots. He closed his eyes and turned to the side, grieving anew.

“You comin’ in?”

“Considering I don’t even know your name, that doesn’t seem too wise.”

The man nodded a little. “Smart enough. Name’s Max Payne. And you’d be?”

He hesitated. “Jack Mercer.” It was with some relief to see no recognition in the detective’s eyes, to know that even the name Mercer didn’t reach everywhere, though some days it had felt like it.

“Well, now we’re acquainted.” He held the door open for Jack.

A waft of warm air floated out teasingly. Jack nodded and stepped over the threshold, tugging at his gray and black scarf self consciously. Max closed the door firmly; doing up the three sets of locks, ignoring the way Jack flinched at the sound. He tugged at his long black coat off and tossed it on the coat stand that was propped in one corner of the hallway.

Jack undid his scarf, shivering slightly as he did so. There were boxes stacked to one side of the hall, moving boxes, some still sealed. Reluctantly, he took his coat off and draped it on the coat rack as well. “You uh…you just move in?”

“No.”

Huh. Jack glanced up the hall, watching Max disappear into a room off to one side. The apartment was dim, a few lights here and there that illuminated small circles of light. Jack squinted. He could see more boxes further down, close to what he guessed was the bedroom.

The man returned a moment later. He stood in the doorway, looking at Jack. “I ain’t gonna bite you, kid.”

“I don’t make it a habit to go home with guys I don’t know.”

Max raised one eyebrow slightly, as if to say he didn’t buy that at all. “But you got nowhere to go, no plans and by the looks of it, no money.”

Jack bristled at that. “I don’t need a plan.”

Max made a sound in his throat, whether it was approval or disapproval, Jack wasn’t sure. “Uh huh,” he nodded his head to the side. “Grand tour is this, kitchen behind me, living room to your right, bedroom down the hall, bathroom to the left of it.”

He badly wanted to ask why all the boxes were scattered everywhere, but there was something in Max’s eyes, something that made his stomach churn uneasily, something that told him that the answer wouldn’t be a good one.

Jack slid his boots off, leaving them by his coat. The apartment had enough warmth to chase away his chill, but he still felt the cold in his bones. He walked the length of the hallway, feeling the hardwood floor creak under his feet. Max watched him, his arms hanging loosely at his sides.

“Is this the part where you try an’ convince me that I’m safe with you?” Jack crossed his arms over his abdomen, his nerves jangling uncomfortably. He kept expecting the sudden rush, the sudden assault. It didn’t matter that this man was shorter than him by a few inches. Size had little factor in how dangerous a man could be, he knew.

“I’m not so hard up that I’d take it by force.”

And maybe it was because he looked so much like Bobby, like Bobby would if he’d cut his hair, if he’d strap a badge on and carry his guns legally; Jack felt his eyes burn with unshed tears. He swallowed over the sudden lump in his throat. “Good to know,” he muttered.

“Couch folds out into a bed.” Max pointed to the living room, Jack following behind him slowly. “Stay as long as you want. I don’t want to find you in the gutter ‘cause you trusted the wrong person.”

“That’s it?” Jack rubbed his elbows, his breath catching as he watched Max watch him. “That’s all you want?”

Max shook his head. “Don’t sell yourself short, Jack.” He turned and left the room, leaving Jack standing in front of the couch.

X

It was funny, Jack thought, about how two people could stay in an apartment and not speak to each other, without a tinge of anger.

Watching the snow fall outside, he sat on one of Max’s chairs, a hard back, vaguely uncomfortable one, one knee pulled up to his chest. He listened to the sound of his own breathing, a cup of now cold coffee on the ledge beside him.

Max worked long hours, Jack learned quickly. He left the apartment at seven thirty each morning and didn’t return until well past seven each night. Rarely was he home before that, which meant that Jack was on his own almost all the time. And to be honest, Max was so damned quiet during the times that he was home, Jack couldn’t be sure that he wasn’t a ghost.

He didn’t seem to expect much of anything from Jack. He didn’t expect him to cook, to clean, to talk. Jack sighed softly and rested his head on his knee, rubbing at his forehead. The snow was falling steadily, the sky an off white for once, instead of a murky gray shade.

Jack often went out for hours, exploring the neighbourhood the way he would in any of the various cities he’d been in before. He’d make his way around on the subways and buses, explore any museums that offered free days, lurk in pubs and bars, and sometimes drag his guitar to one of them and play for the hell of it. He felt pangs of regret for the days of when he’d traveled with his band, staying in dive motels and playing in worse bars. If Max had noticed his guitar case, he’d made no mention of it.

Nor was Max forthcoming about anything he did since the day he’d met Jack and told him that he was a detective. Jack supposed he could have gone through any of the numerous boxes that littered the dark apartment to look for clues but the very idea made him feel guilty. He picked up his coffee mug and winced at the taste of the stone cold liquid.

Muttering in disgust, he slipped off the chair, stretching the kinks out of his back as he stood. He carried the mug to the kitchen and rinsed it out in the sink. Blue-gray light trickled into the room, casting shadows across the black and white tiled floor.

In truth, he often wondered exactly why Max had all but dragged him to his apartment. He seemed to want nothing from him, and that in itself was making him feel off. It was strange to essentially live with someone who had no interest in explaining why he’d brought you there. If he wanted him in the bedroom, he’d shown no inclination so far.

Jack chewed on his bottom lip, contemplating that. Wild horses wouldn’t drag it out of him but he couldn’t deny the base attraction he felt to Max. There was the resemblance to him of course. They could have been twins for how much they looked the same and that was hard enough on Jack’s nerves.

If anything it made him feel worse.

Jack sighed again, hearing it echo around the empty kitchen. He leaned against the counter, his gaze wandering around the barren space. Max kept very little furniture and even less to fill the various shelving that lined the space opposite him. There was one chair that he avoided without being sure why. It was a simple small white chair against the wall, a floral print to it that would have gone out of style twenty years before. It was the size that kept Jack’s attention. It was small, much too small to comfortably seat any normal size man, let alone one with Jack’s height or even Max’s.

It looked like…like a lady’s chair, one meant to be sat on amidst the flowers of a garden.

Jack debated another cup of coffee for a few minutes before discarding the idea. He’d had enough caffeine for one day. He opened and closed a few cupboards, taking note of the few food staples. Clearly, Max relied heavily on take-out, he thought, rolling his eyes.

On instinct, Jack wanted to offer to cook, to help out at least in some way or another. Being a free-loader was not something he was accustomed to. Drifting aimlessly from city to city, sure, but hanging around like a houseguest to a guy like Max Payne?

Jack closed the cupboard door sharply, annoyed with himself. After all, it wasn’t bad here, not by a long shot. A bachelor’s apartment, sure, and one filled with a cold silence, but it wasn’t a shelter, or some alleyway or the backseat of a truck cab, he mused bitterly.

Enough…Jack left the kitchen, padding over to the living room. He grabbed his guitar case from where he’d tucked it, in the space between the couch and the wall. With the weight of his guitar in his hands, Jack felt some of the tension in his body melt away. He let his fingers drift over the strings, tracing them with his eyes closed.

He still preferred his old acoustic to any of the electric ones he’d played on stage.

Before long, Jack began to play, letting his fingers choose the songs, his lips moving to the lyrics in his head. He kept his eyes closed, singing along, louder now, letting everything he was holding back fall away.

He didn’t hear the footsteps, didn’t sense the other person standing in the doorway until he’d finished a song and felt the now familiar stare on him. Jack turned his head to the side, his cheeks flushed. “Um…Sorry,” he mumbled. “If you uh, don’t want me playin’ this in the apartment, it’s cool.”

“I’m not complaining.”

True. Max looked intrigued actually. Jack glanced at the clock on the wall. “You’re home early.”

Max nodded. “Not much going on today.” He tilted his head, speculation in those dark eyes. “I’m going out for a drink.”

“Is that an offer?”

“Could be,” Max shrugged, “You old enough to drink, Jack?”

Jack smirked at him. He’d been drinking since he was old enough for his first year of high school. “Sure.”

Max met his smirk, his own lips almost lifting. That was another odd thing about the man. He rarely smiled or even grinned. “I just bet.”

Jack tucked his guitar into the case, closing it carefully. “You look like a beer drinker to me.”

“Good guess.” Max watched him put the guitar case back into its spot. “I’m thinkin’ you don’t go for the weaker alcohol.”

“Better guess.” Jack slipped his coat and scarf on, toed his boots on as well. “Beer’s fine to start, but Jack Daniels is where I end up.”

X

Even men like Max had regular places to go, a favoured waterhole, a familiar pub or diner. The bartender nodded to him, murmuring a few words of greeting. Max leaned in, nodding to the offered beer. He took two bottles, carrying them to a table off to the side.

Jack sat down, rubbing his hands together under the scuffed table. “Does this city ever have another shade but gray?”

“Summer time,” Max placed a bottle before Jack. He took a sip of his own beer, “And in the fall sometimes.”

He found that hard to believe. Logically, he knew that the city must have a beauty of its own. He drained half the bottle in one long swallow. “Believe that when I see it.”

“Stick around long enough, you might.”

Jack felt the words stick in his throat, the protest that Christ only knew where he’d be by the summer time. He grimaced and set the bottle down, staring at the grain of the table.

“Look, Max, I…”

Max took a long pull of his beer. “You’re a drifter. You don’t stay anywhere too long and you’re running from whatever or who ever put that sad look in your eyes.”

There was nothing to protest about that. Jack swallowed again, the lump in his throat rock hard. “So?”

“I’m wondering why you’re runnin’ is all.”

“That’s none of your business. I thought I made that clear a week ago,” Jack snapped.

Max gave him that level look, one that Jack was quickly growing to dislike. It made him feel like a petulant child. “Maybe not but I know there’s something hurting inside of you.”

Jack crossed his arms, fuming inwardly. “Stop analyzing me, you bastard.”

“Hit close to the mark then?”

“Ok, let’s turn that around.” Jack sneered at him. “Someone or something hurt you, that’s why you ran, right? That’s why you never unpacked, cause that’ll make it too real, right?”

Max’s face closed off so fast, Jack felt the chill settle between them. He bit the inside of his cheek, wishing he could pull the words back.

Max’s fingers gripped the bottle, his knuckles white. “Three years since those boxes came with me,” he whispered finally. “It’s real, doesn’t make it any less real if I unpack.”

Jack exhaled a long, slow breath. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”

There was no answer, only a strained silence. Max finished his beer and Jack had the distinct feeling that it would take a hell of a lot of effort to get a man like Max to open up to him. He drank the last bit of beer in his bottle, aware of Max’s eyes on him as he swallowed. Now he could feel it, feel the heat in Max’s stare.

A shiver raced through him, making his skin prickle instantly. “I think we both need more booze to open up, huh?”

Max nodded abruptly, tearing his gaze away from Jack. He clenched his jaw for several seconds and then stood up. He went to the bartender only to return a moment later with a bottle of Jack Daniels in hand, two shot glasses in the other. He poured whiskey into each glass and pushed one across the table.

Jack caught his before it could spill. “Thanks.” He drank it down, welcoming the slight burn.

Max grunted lowly and downed his glass in one smooth shot. He sat back down, licking a drop from his lips. Not another word was spoken until each of them had taken another shot. Max rested his fingers on his shot glass, tenting them.

“Where’re you from?”

Jack fiddled with his own shot glass. “No clue originally,” he admitted. “But the last place before I started…traveling was Detroit.”

Max raised an eyebrow. “Originally…?”

“Foster kid.” Jack held out his shot glass, false bravado fuelling him. “Don’t remember my birth mom, if I even spent any time with her after she had me.”

Max whistled softly. “Sorry, kid.”

He shrugged one shoulder. “Doesn’t matter,” he wiggled the glass. “Fill ‘er up, hm?”

Max did so, refilling his own as well. Jack downed it immediately; chasing the phantom memories back in the manner he’d done so for years now. “Doesn’t matter,” he said again. “Bad shit happens to lots of people. That’s the cycle.”

“I’ve seen that before,” Max sipped his shot this time, savouring it. “Happens too damned often, I find.”

“Whatever.”

Jack glared into his empty glass. “Why’d you leave most of your shit in boxes if you moved in three years ago?”

“I don’t care, that’s why,” Max’s voice had a hint of a snarl to it and Jack blinked rapidly, swearing he could hear Bobby in that moment. “What’s the point? It’s not a home.”

Home…Jack closed his eyes. He bit his tongue, tears stinging his eyes. “Haven’t been home since she died,” he mumbled.

Max’s head snapped up, as though spooked. “What? What’d you say?’

Jack wiped a hand clumsily over his face. “Nothin’…” He stood up, his legs shaking. “I gotta get out of here.”

“Jack…Jack, wait!” Max was up in a flash, grabbing his arm.

“Let go!” Jack spat at him. “Let the fuck go!”

Max leaned in, his grip tight on Jack’s arm, his voice whisper quiet. “Listen to me, Jack, you hearing me? Calm down, alright? Take a breath, man.”

Jack shuddered, feeling sick. Too much caffeine and alcohol on a nearly empty stomach, he shook, taking in a strangled breath. “Damn it…Damn it…”

Max kept his arm around Jack, half dragging, half pushing him towards the entrance of the bar. Jack stumbled along, teetering on the edge of a full freak out, his mind two steps behind. He reached blindly for the door handle and pushed forward, wrenching free of Max’s surprisingly strong grip.

He dropped to his knees in the slushy snow, panting for air, and still heard her voice, that soft, gentle voice that he missed so fucking much, overlapping with the increasingly worried sounds that were coming from the man behind him.

Jackie…

“God, stop it,” he hissed, clamping his hands over his ears. “Fuck, please stop…”

Max stared down at him, completely bewildered. “Jack, c’mon kid, you’re gonna freeze to death out here like this.” He rested a cautious hand to Jack’s shoulder. “Hey...”

“She said I was safe there.” Jack wiped at his face, sniffling.

“Who did?”

“Never mind,” Jack wiped over his eyes one last time. He stood up shakily, regretting the three shots already. “It’s not important any more.”

“C’mon, I’ll take you back to my place.” Max kept his hand on Jack’s shoulder until he was sure that he was standing safely.

X

Max hustled Jack back to his apartment, his forehead deeply creased with concern. Jack stayed silent, not wanting to explain, not wanting to let the words climb out and tell Max everything. For the first time in what felt like years, Jack wanted to tell someone everything, the whole damned truth, the reason why he’d fled the only place that had ever felt like home.

He sat on the couch, shivering in the darkened room. Faint sounds echoed from the kitchen, the sound of a kettle filling, and Max’s footsteps on the creaky floorboards. A moment later, a heavy blanket was draped around Jack’s back and shoulders. It smelled faintly spicy. He hunched in a bit and tugged the edges of the fabric closer to his body.

“Thanks.”

“Yeah…Jack, you uh, you gonna be ok?”

Jack rubbed his thumb over the wet patch that soaked one jean-clad knee. “Mhm,” he rubbed harder, his hair flopping untidily forward to cover part of his forehead. “Sorry about all that. Too much booze too quick, I guess.”

Max sat down on one of the uncomfortable looking chairs near Jack. He leaned forward, his hands clasped. “I don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with…things like this. So if there’s someone I should be calling, or something you need, say so.”

“No. There’s no one to call. I’m gonna be fine, Max.”

“Wish I could believe that.”

“What difference does it make? They couldn’t help even if I wanted you to call them.”

“Jack…” Max sighed.

Jack shook his head. “No. I’ve been lounging around here for a week now, Thanksgiving’s comin’ up, an’ I’m sure you got family and all that shit, so I’m gonna leave tomorrow.”

“There’s no one to celebrate with.”

Jack glanced at him and felt his breath catch at the bleakness to Max’s face. “No one at all? No family? Friends?”

“No.”

“Shit…” Jack nodded a little. “I’m sorry, man.”

Max stood up, the blast of the kettle startling them both. “It’s fine.”

Jack tucked his long legs underneath himself, wrapping the blanket tighter. He worried at his lip with his teeth, trying to keep them from clacking together. He lifted his head only when Max returned, pushing a large mug at him. He clasped the mug, feeling the heat seeping into his fingers.

“You were married, huh?”

Max stilled. Jack sipped the hot coffee, noting the heavy hand of milk added to the liquid. “You still got that pale line on your finger,” he added when no sound emerged from Max. “That tan line gives a divorced guy away, every time.”

“I’m not divorced,” Max ground out. “She’s…she’s gone.”

Jack felt sick. “Oh Jesus…”

“Three years ago.”

And that would explain why he hadn’t unpacked. Jack gripped the mug, searching for the right thing to say. “Sorry I pushed.”

Max sat down stiffly. “She was murdered, her and our baby.”

There was nothing he could say. Jack stared into his mug, letting the pain in Max’s voice wash over him. “I’m sorry…”

“They never caught her killer.” Max fell silent again, his fingers locked over each over. “I transferred to the Cold Cases Unit, thought maybe I could dig up something, fucking anything to give me an idea as to who…or why. I couldn’t let it go, still haven’t.”

Now that reminded him of his brothers. For half a second, he could feel the snow pelting him, the wind whipping his hair into his eyes as he watched Bobby and Angel fire their guns into two men. He shuddered, his heartbeat roaring in his ears.

“Not easy to let go,” he murmured. “They wanted vengeance, they got it.”

“Who?”

“My…my brothers,” Jack drank deep from his coffee, fortifying himself. He smiled sadly. “My brothers an’ me, we were all foster kids. Our mom, Evelyn, she adopted us all cause no one else would. No one wanted us, we were too much trouble.”

“Bobby was the worst. People were scared of him, and lots still are.” Jack ran a hand through his hair, smoothing it back from his face. “Our mother…she was murdered last year, right before Thanksgiving.”

Max made a sound; one that Jack knew meant more than sadness. He nodded, rubbing his thumb over his fingers. “And this Bobby of yours, he wanted vengeance?”

Jack flinched at Max’s words. “He, yeah, yeah he did. She was the first person to ever give a shit about him, treated him like he was worth it, y’know? She was our Ma, and they took her away. Guys like Bobby; they can’t let shit like that go. And…and I think you’re not far from that, Max.”

“You don’t know me like you think you do, kid.”

“I think I do. I’ve known men like you before.”

“Just because you’ve been here for a week doesn’t mean you know shit.”

“I might if you’d speak more than five words to me! This is the most you’ve said to me since the day you fucking interrogated me in that diner!” Jack sat upright, his cheeks flushed. He missed the look in Max’s eyes, the way his throat bobbed.

“Fuck you and your goddamned issues. You drag me here and God knows why I agreed to follow you. I’m not some scared little kid, I’m not someone who needs to be saved, I’m not the kid you lost, and I’m sure as fuck not a replacement for your dead wife! What straight man brings home a guy like me if he’s not lyin’ to himself?!”

Max’s lips thinned to a faint line, his eyes flashing angrily. “Who said I wanted a replacement? And if I did, it wouldn’t be some mouthy shit like you.”

Jack slammed the mug down on the coffee table, droplets of the liquid splashing on his hand. “I don’t need this bullshit! If I did, I would have stayed home and let him fuck me on the nights when he didn’t feel like pretending any more!” he raged, horror flooding in when he heard the words leave his mouth.

“I…” Jack stood up, his stomach lurching violently. “Shit…”

“Jack.”

He shook his head and bolted for the bathroom, sliding to his knees in front of the toilet in time to lose his battle with nausea. And as he retched, unwanted tears slipped down his cheeks.

When it was over, he rested his head on one arm, fumbling for the flusher with his other hand. A cool washcloth moved over his damp forehead, wiping away the film of sweat on his skin, wiping away the hot tears that still stubbornly fell. After several long minutes, Jack stood up, avoiding eye contact with the man beside him. He rinsed his mouth out, chasing the foul taste away.

Max looked as though he wanted to say something. Jack shook his head, brushing past him. He could almost hear the unspoken apology from him, and that would have been more than he could take right then. Jack opened the pullout bed and curled up on it, wrapped in the heavy blanket.

He cursed everything then in his head. He cursed Bobby, cursed his own crushing loneliness, his big mouth and Evelyn for leaving him. And as he did so, Max stood in the doorway, watching him pretend to sleep.

X


Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
aliceinked
Sep. 1st, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
Omg! Abso-freaking-lutely amazingness! I can't wait for more!!! *pelts you with cookies and confetti*
veiledndarkness
Sep. 6th, 2011 10:59 am (UTC)
Lol, thanks :)
littlewitch34
Sep. 2nd, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
That's my girl.
veiledndarkness
Sep. 6th, 2011 10:59 am (UTC)
<3 You don't even know how much I needed that.
newtoyou
Sep. 3rd, 2011 07:54 am (UTC)
very nice. I like it a lot and I'm glad to see things still being written in this fandom
veiledndarkness
Sep. 6th, 2011 11:00 am (UTC)
Sadly, it's a small fandom. Seems to be more active on ff.net though.

But thanks :)
seyyed
Sep. 5th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC)
ooooh! I'm really enjoying this so far - looking forward to the rest!
veiledndarkness
Sep. 6th, 2011 11:00 am (UTC)
Thank you :) Working on the next chapter.
darkangle102
Sep. 9th, 2011 04:33 am (UTC)
awesome god i love your work
veiledndarkness
Sep. 9th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
(Anonymous)
Sep. 18th, 2011 09:22 am (UTC)
Oh thank God. You're writing more Four Brothers stories! I absolutely love your Jack/Bobby whether in Four Brothers a crossover, don't care, Max Payne, sure, hell do Tron for all I care just keep doing it. You write this stuff better than anyone I've ever read!!!
veiledndarkness
Sep. 21st, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
Lol, thanks :)

I took some time off from writing, in part because I was pregnant. I have a bit of time during the week to write while rocking the baby in one arm ;) so I decided to pick it up again.

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )