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Chasing Ghosts

Title: Chasing Ghosts 4/?

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3



X

If Jack had been the betting type, he would have tossed all his money on Max acting strangely after giving in to his hormones. He expected it, despite Max seeming more concerned about Jack regretting his decision to be intimate with him. Men like Max, he’d found before, could vary in their reactions afterwards regardless of what they’d promised beforehand.

He couldn’t have sworn to it, but he was pretty sure that Max seemed calmer the next morning, a certain degree of relaxation to his shoulders as he made his coffee at a nearly ungodly hour of pre-daylight. Jack had rolled over and encountered a cold spot that Max had occupied until recently. He breathed in, Max’s scent still lingering on the pillow next to him.

He hadn’t counted on Max being this calm in general.

Jack sat up slowly and stretched, working his way out of the warm sheets. With a pang of sadness, he looked out the window. Bobby hadn’t been much for cuddling. He’d found it repellent, though he’d often wrapped a possessive arm around Jack as he’d slept, holding him as if he was afraid Jack would slip away in the night. Max however, he’d rested next to Jack, one hand absently stroking down the length of Jack’s side.

Slipping silently off the bed, Jack padded over to his discarded clothes. He dressed, shivering a bit in the morning chill. He longed to jump back under the sheets, but then again, Max might not want him to do so. Jack ran his tongue along his teeth, debating that.

As he did so, he headed into the kitchen and shifted close to Max, leaning against the counter. “Hey…”

Max looked up from the coffee he was stirring, a faint smile quirking his lips for a moment. “Morning,” he dropped the spoon to the counter. “Sleep ok?”

“Mm,” Jack nodded, fighting the urge to shiver again. He’d left his sweater on the edge of the bed. “S’warmer when you’re sharing a bed, huh?”

Max choked on his sip of coffee, his throat bobbing. “I…” he took another sip, as if to fortify himself. “Yeah, I suppose it is. It’s been a long time since I have.”

“So you really haven’t been…with anyone since?” Jack felt his eyebrows creep up.

Max turned away, busying his hands with the washcloth at the side of the sink. “No.”

Jack let several minutes tick by, debating the length of Max’s silence. “She was beautiful,” he murmured. “From…from the pictures I saw.”

“She was.” Max’s voice was strained. He gripped the counter, his knuckles tight for a long moment. He relaxed his fingers and turned back to face Jack. “I miss her. Every goddamned day, Jack, I still miss her. And…and it never stops. No matter how I feel about y…about anyone,” his jaw tightened.

“No one says you gotta. Fuck anyone who thinks you shouldn’t.”

Max let out a breath and shook his head. “I can’t ask you to be ok with that.”

Ok, that hurt. Jack covered the flinch by shrugging. “I’m not lookin’ for romance. I thought I made that clear last night. I’m not a girl, you’ve gotta stop seeing me that way. I don’t need to be treated like I’m some fragile waif.”

“I don’t think you’re a girl!” Max snapped. “I…fuck; this is what I was talking about.”

“You’re doing this to yourself.” Jack covered the top of Max’s coffee cup, slipping it under and away from him. He took a sip and wrinkled his nose, “Jesus, its called sugar, Max. Ugh…” he passed the mug back.

“I…I drink it unsweetened,” Max muttered, clearly taken aback.

Jack ignored the bitter taste on his tongue. His throat ached and he wanted to smack Max. Or kiss away that confused look of frustration from Max’s face. “I never said one thing about replacing her. I’m just…here.”

“And I’m not a replacement, either?”

Jack swallowed over the lump in his throat. “No…”

Max drank the rest of his coffee, a look Jack couldn’t decipher in his eyes. Jack fixed his attention on the tiled floor, listening to the sound of Max breathing. “You need to relax more,” he said, his words aimed at the floor.

“I don’t need advice.” Max slapped the mug down on the counter and left the kitchen, a cool breeze lingering behind him.

Jack sighed under his breath. He rinsed the mug out, Max’s angry footsteps echoing down the hallway. When the door shut, once again without a slam, Jack let his shoulders slump.

That went well. He rubbed a hand over his hair, mussing the already messy strands. “Stupid…”

Jack could practically hear Bobby’s derisive laughter at him. He’d made it uncomfortable for himself, for Max even. And yeah…yeah Max knew a part of Jack had found a replacement in him, there was no hiding it.

Jack sighed again, shaking his head. “Can’t have everything you want, Jackie boy,” he mumbled, watching the water swirl down the drain.

X

Passing time could be a lonely business. Jack knew that on a personal level. He’d kept busy while Max was at work, found ways to pass the hours on his own. He’d been good at it in other cities, had passed many an hour in his teens by simply disappearing in the world of music. He’d filled notebooks with angry and angst filled lyrics, had played his guitar until his fingers were achy and calloused.

And yet, even in a city as dense as New York, Jack hadn’t covered very much territory. He’d stuck close to Max’s apartment, never venturing all that far from the darkened rooms that felt impersonal, even with Max’s belongings in them.

There was something uncomfortable in the streets that he had been on. Something he didn’t care for. Something that felt like eyes watching him. Jack glanced over his shoulder for the tenth time since he’d taken to the streets that morning. He couldn’t shake it, that feeling of being followed.

He paused in front of a store, pulling out his lighter and a cigarette from his dwindling supply. As he lit one, he looked around casually, searching for a sign that he wasn’t crazy. His brothers had trained him far too well to not spot someone tailing him. As he inhaled, Jack let his gaze wander over each passerby.

Nothing popped. Nothing came up suspicious.

Jack rested back against the brick of the store, smoke floating in a thin stream above his head. Sometimes he could almost feel Bobby near him, and fuck, wasn’t that just insane? He smirked around his cigarette. Bobby never broke a vow, not once in the time that Jack had been a Mercer.

A man walked past Jack, a slight sneer curving his mouth. His gaze darted in Jack’s direction, then away, then back again. Jack stiffened, one hand fisting at his side. The man paused at the nearby intersection, looking about in different directions, his boots shifting about in the snow covered ground, everything about him screaming jittery, anxious even.

Jack stubbed out his cigarette on the brick wall, stuffing it into the pack. He took a quick breath, ready to bolt, ready to fight, whatever it took. The man glanced back at him, a nervous, ratty look to his dirty face. Jack cocked his head to the side, one eyebrow lazily raised, a look that never failed to piss people off, one well patented over time.

The man drew his lips back, sneering more. He fidgeted closer to Jack, still looking every which way.

It had to figure he’d be a junkie. Jack rolled his eyes. As the man drew closer, Jack ran a hand over his pocket, his small blade hidden inside. His thumb grazed the opening of the pocket.

“Somethin’ you want?”

The man stopped in front of Jack, his feet shuffling still, “Brave lil’ thing, ain’tcha?”

Jack resisted the urge to roll his eyes again.

“You hidin’ out in that place?”

That caught his attention. “The fuck did you say?” he demanded.

“You ain’t smart then,” the man snorted, then spat a rather large glob of yellowish phlegm on the pavement. “Seen you goin’ in an’ outta there,” he added. “You oughta bail from there, little boy.”

Jack moved his hand into his pocket, gripping the knife tightly. “Go fuck yourself.”

“Don’t know who you been with, boy?”

“Back the fuck off,” Jack hissed through his teeth. He brought his hand back out, giving him a glimpse off his blade.

“Your loss,” the man took a step back despite his bravado. “Nosy man’s gonna bring down problems. Best not be around when shit’s fallin’ from the sky.”

“How ‘bout you go find another hit before I put a few holes in you, motherfucker!” Jack took a big step forward, the tip of the blade resting against the grimy skin of the man’s neck.

The man swallowed audibly and then huffed out a shaky laugh. “Easy lil’ boy, don’t go wavin’ that sticker around.”

“Then do yourself a favour an’ get the fuck outta here!”

He nodded rapidly, backing away from Jack. “That man’s chasin’ after what he ain’t s’posed to know,” he whispered before hurrying away from him.

Jack stared after him, baffled. “What in the hell…”

He stuffed his knife back into his pocket and walked, moving on autopilot to the nearest coffee shop. He suddenly felt cold all over, despite the man having left as though his ass was on fire. And even after he stepped into the warmth of the shop, he still felt eyes on the back of his head.

X

Hours later, Jack sat on Max’s foldout couch, thumbing idly over his guitar strings, doing his best not to stare at the clock. The hands on the face of it were mocking him, he was sure of it. Jack scowled down at his guitar, thinking back to the bizarre man who’d approached him. He still felt vaguely dirty, despite the long shower he’d taken once he’d reached the safety of Max’s apartment.

He could ignore the ramblings of some random junkie. It wasn’t like he’d never seen junkies back home, he mused, playing song after song as he waited. He’d seen plenty but none had come up to him with cryptic ramblings quite like that.

Jack frowned. In fact, how in the hell had that junkie known who Max was? Had he arrested him before? Before his wife had died and he’d gone down to work the cold cases?

He strummed faster, almost angry that his relative peace had been disturbed. He’d left Detroit for a reason, running away from Bobby, from the way it hurt to stand in Evelyn’s house.

“Working on a new one?”

Jack flinched and almost dropped his guitar, badly startled. “Jesus Christ, Max!”

Max looked somewhat amused. “Sorry.”

“Don’t look very sorry,” Jack grumbled. He righted himself on the couch, clasping his guitar. “You’re late.”

Max looked at his watch, “Yeah.” He resumed staring at Jack. “You ok? You look kind of…disturbed.”

Jack smiled at that, unfolding his legs from where he’d been sitting. He knelt up on the couch and leaned over, tugging the end of Max’s tie. “I’m fine. You’re still late. Good thing I didn’t have dinner on the table, hm?”

“Yeah, good thing,” Max agreed, his words fading when Jack tugged harder, bringing him down for a kiss that sent sparks shooting down his spine.

Jack licked the edge of Max’s lip and let go of his tie. “Maybe next time…”

He slipped off the couch and stood up, setting his guitar to the side gently. “Say the word, I can cook for you. I can make more than turkey dinners.”

“It was an excellent turkey dinner,” Max leaned on the doorway jamb. “You’re too modest.”

Jack stood next to Max and put his head to Max’s neck, breathing him in. He didn’t smell like cigarette smoke or whiskey and sometimes Jack missed that part of Bobby. He let out a soft breath and leaned in closer, enjoying the way Max’s hand rested in the small of his back.

“Sure you’re alright?” Max rubbed his hand back and forth along Jack’s spine.

“Perfectly fine,” Jack nodded, feeling only a little guilty for the white lie.

Max frowned. “C’mon, we’ll grab something for dinner. You feel up for Chinese tonight?”

“Always,” Jack reluctantly moved his head, stepping aside to pass Max in the doorway.

“I still say you don’t eat enough.”

Jack snorted. He tugged his coat on and buttoned it, amused by Max’s perpetual fussing over him. Much like Evelyn had fussed, a part of him wanted the attention while he instinctively wanted to protest the treatment.

“I’m not arguing this with you.”

Max lifted an eyebrow. “Then eat an’ I won’t have to nag your ass.”

“Last night you liked my ass the way it was.” Jack smirked at him and wrapped his scarf around his neck.

The color rose in Max’s face. “You are…something else.”

“Prude…”

“I’m not a damn prude,” Max sputtered. “I…shut up, you.”

Jack laughed and kissed Max again, silencing his protests easily enough. Max grumbled but his arms came up, keeping Jack pressed against him tightly. “Make me,” Jack murmured, nipping Max’s bottom lip.

“You keep that up and we won’t make it out the door.”

“And if that’s the plan?”

“You need to eat sometime,” Max nudged Jack against the wall, his knee pushing between Jack’s legs, pinning him there.

Jack took in a breath, letting his earlier worries fade away. “After…”

X

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Nov. 24th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
New chapter! Yay!
veiledndarkness
Dec. 3rd, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
Lol :)
newtoyou
Nov. 29th, 2011 08:29 am (UTC)
This story is fantastic. Can't wait to see what was up with the crazy guy.

Poor, poor broken men.
veiledndarkness
Dec. 3rd, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks :)

The crazy guy was wise, lol.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )