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Chasing Ghosts

Title: Chasing Ghosts 6/?

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
Part 4
Part 5



X

As annoyed as Jack still was, he’d expected Alex Balder to give him a brush-off in regards to Max’s history. Jack could have been anyone and when someone suddenly pops up asking painful questions, one tends to be suspicious, he figured. And Alex Balder wasn’t just anyone, a cop, no less. Jack grimaced at that. Damned cops…

It’d been an awfully long time since he’d trusted one, Max being the exception.

Jack poked at the snow with one wet boot while he smoked, contemplating just what the hell his next move would be. He exhaled slowly, watching the wind carry the smoke wisps away from him. He couldn’t tell Max about Alex, couldn’t ask Alex for anything else.

He flicked his cigarette thoughtfully. If Alex wasn’t willing to talk, then who would?

With a half smile, Jack leaned against the back of the bench he’d perched on. Bobby had all but dragged his brothers along with him in his crusade to avenge Evelyn’s murder. He’d questioned people he’d had no business talking to, chased down thugs, murdered said thugs, and threatened to kill others who’d withheld information. And so on…

As he smoked, Jack kicked at the snow. ‘You’re no Bobby though,’ he reminded himself.

Bobby would have known where to start. He would have known what kind of people to intimidate into spilling their guts. Jack stubbed out the last bit of his cigarette and exhaled the last plume of smoke. All he had was some half baked notion that he was going to find out what had gone wrong and use that to try and repair the damaged man he cared all too damned much about.

So what if the cops themselves hadn’t solved the case? Jack frowned. So nothing, he decided.

As he stood up, he shoved his hands in his pockets, the creepy sensation of being watched falling over him. He hunched his shoulders and walked away from the bench, straining his eyes for any sign that someone or something was about to appear.

Nothing around him but white snow and a few random people walking about here and there, some laden with bulging shopping bags, and others clutching at their briefcases. Jack kept his eyes on the people around him and hurried along the snow covered path. It was getting late and Max would be home soon.

He dodged in and out of the crowds, blocking out all the noises that echoed off the streets and buildings, the surges of people at every crosswalk. Jack looked up in time to see a car come careening around the corner of the intersection, a dark blue cargo van that came far too close to the people standing closest to the curb.

His breath caught in his throat, his feet skidding over the slippery ground to a stop. Just then, he felt someone slam into him, sending him forward and crashing into the body of the man in front of him. Jack bit his tongue as he did so, already mumbling an apology as the man turned to grab him.

“The fuck you think you’re doin’?” the man growled, shaking Jack’s shoulders.

His head lolled from the force of the shake. Before he could answer, two hands clamped down on each of his arms, dragging him back from his irritated fellow pedestrian. Jack gathered his senses, feeling his boots drag and skid over the random patches of icy cement.

“W-What…” he scrambled to see who was pulling him. “Hey!”

“Shut up!” a voice hissed unseen.

Jack yanked his arms forward, struggling to free them from the tight grip. “Let go, asshole!”

He yanked again and managed a yelp as he was slammed into a wall. The bricks scraped along Jack’s cheek, biting into his skin unmercifully. Jack groaned, breathing hard, his cheek stinging in the frigid air.

A man stood before him, dressed in dirty clothes, his eyes wide. Great, Jack thought sarcastically, another tweaker. The man looked around; his dark pupils dilated widely, his hair sticking up in wild tufts. He nodded at nothing and stood back, releasing Jack’s arms.

“Sorry ‘bout all that, but you’re goin’ the wrong way.”

“Says you,” Jack grumbled. He braced his back off the wall warily. “The fuck do you want?”

The man paced a somewhat straight line, shaking his head back and forth as he did so. “I seen you, I seen you talk, talk, talkin’ to that copper. You know him? Huh?”

Jack shrugged. “And…?”

The man laughed a high pitch laugh, his yellowed teeth sharp and unevenly spaced. “You a fool, boy,” he said. He scratched at his wrists, then up to his arms, blue lines standing out against his white skin. “You a fool an’ you gonna burn within the angels.”

Jack rolled his eyes. “Oh, sure, me and everyone else too, right? We’re all going to Hell?”

The man shoved his arm in Jack’s face, an elaborate wing tattoo scrawled over his unwashed skin. “They take you up in their wings, boy. They take you up an’ you gone then!” he screamed.

Jack recoiled backwards, smacking his head sharply into the brick. He winced, his vision blurring from the impact. The man screamed and screamed, ranting in front of him, the words running together in an incoherent ramble. Jack turned his head to the side, shadowy movements floating above them both.

The movements hovered, a slow whooshing of wind that mussed Jack’s hair, the shadows sharpening to the outline of black wings for a moment. He blinked slowly and they vanished, the man running out of the alley as if he was on fire. Jack held a hand to the back of his head, blood trickling over his fingers. He groaned and slid down into the snow, waiting for the world to stop spinning around him.

X

Jack fumbled his way back to the apartment in time to see Max stomping back down the stairs to the front entrance, a scowl carved into his face. Jack stayed back a few steps, watching Max make his way to the nearby parking lot and get into his car, the sound of the door slamming echoing across to him.

The engine roared and Max tore out of the parking lot a moment later, disappearing from sight. Jack caught his breath, his heartbeat slamming against his ribcage. Christ, did Max ever look like Bobby when he was pissed, was his only thought. Jack hesitated a moment before hurrying upstairs.

The apartment felt colder than usual, every light off but one in the hallway. Jack stopped in the bathroom, probing the back of his head gently with his hand. He hissed, nudging the sore spot with his thumb. At least the bleeding had stopped. He splashed some water on his face and dried off hurriedly.

Max had left a piece of paper by the bed, his handwriting a messy scrawl.

Gone out for a few hours, order a pizza or whatever.

Don’t wait up.

Max


Next to the note was a small wad of bills. Jack swallowed back his reflexive annoyance and stuffed the bills into his faded wallet. The note itself seemed angry. Jack crumpled it in one hand, his decision already made. He wasn’t some house cat, content to wait around for Max to return. There was something incredibly fucked up going on and sitting here wouldn’t solve anything, he reasoned.

Jack closed the door behind him again and crept down the stairs, ignoring the pulsing of his still fresh wound.

X

Several hours of smoky bars and darker corners had given Jack little else but a buzz and a growing nausea. He laughed to himself, staggering down the sidewalk, looking for the familiar building he’d been staying in. He rested against a telephone pole, laughing into the wind.

The cool air felt good on his flushed skin. Jack tilted his head way back, breathing in large gulps of air and swaying back and forth as he did so. Somewhere, far way, he could hear screams, the whooshing of air.

Like wings…

Jack blinked. He turned to one side, listening as another scream echoed. Not far away, not far at all, he realized. He moved off the telephone pole, stumbling towards the alleyway where he’d heard the sounds. He stopped short at the sight of a woman running through the alley, looking behind her while she did so.

He could hear the wind rushing above, that flapping sound, the one that made his skin crawl. A shadow leapt at the woman, covering her in darkness. Jack rubbed at his face with one hand, blinking away this bizarre hallucination. He couldn’t see her, couldn’t see anything but the shadow, and couldn’t hear anything but the sound of flapping wings.

Jack scrambled backwards when the shadow looked at him, his breath choking in his throat. He ran for the front door of the building, hurtled inside, the heavy door slamming shut behind him. As he ran up the stairs, his nausea returned full force. He nearly gagged, rounding up the next flight of stairs but managed to keep it down, his terror of the shadowy creature the only thing he could focus on.

He shoved the key in the door and wrenched it open, bolting the door behind him as fast as he could, his chest heaving with each breath. “Jesus, Jesus fucking Christ,” he whispered hoarsely.

“Jack?”

Max came out of the kitchen, a scowl still on his face, but one that was fast melting into concern. “Jack?” he said again. “What happened?”

Jack shook his head mutely, his blue eyes wide with fear. “The shadow…there was…” he trailed off, his hands shaking. “The shadow an’ the wings…”

Max stared at him, the oddest look on his face. “What wings?”

Jack ran past him, barely making it to the bathroom in time. He retched into the toilet, his shoulders heaving. Max followed behind him, his footsteps echoing in double time to Jack’s ears. He closed his eyes, feeling the floor tilt from under him.

“Jack?” Max touched Jack’s head, his fingers catching in the knotted strands of hair.

“What the fuck? You cut your head?”

“Uh,” Jack muttered, swiping at the flusher handle. “Um yeah…earlier...”

Max parted the dried bloody strands, swearing quietly to himself. “How?” he demanded.

“The wall,” Jack slumped backwards, his hands still shaking. “I saw the shadow thing; it looked at me, Max.”

“What shadow thing? You’re drunk, aren’t you?”

Jack closed his eyes again and put his head in his hands. “Yeah,” he laughed, surprised at how close he was to crying right then. “I’m losin’ my mind, Max.”

Max sighed softly. He leaned down and lifted Jack up. “C’mon, into the shower with you,” he said, manipulating Jack against the bathtub ledge.

“Don’t want shower sex,” Jack protested, pushing at him feebly.

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” Max muttered crossly. “I’m not going to…to do that with you like this. C’mon, help me get you in the shower.”

Jack helped as best he could but his fingers felt as though they’d grown two sizes bigger. He gave up and stood passively in the bathtub as Max undressed him and turned the water on. He leaned against the tiled wall, shivering under the spray.

Had he imagined it all? If he had, then what was really happening?

Jack let out a muted sound of pain when he felt fingers guiding his head under the spray of water. Blood ran in watery rivulets over Jack’s shoulders. “M’sorry, Max,” he whispered.

Max undressed quickly and stepped into the shower behind him, holding Jack steady under the water. “Shh, nothin’ to be sorry about,” he said, his strong hands gripping Jack’s hips.

“Stupid thing…an’ seein’ shadows,” Jack rambled. “The wings, they were overhead, I heard ‘em.”

Max shushed him, washing the blood out of Jack’s hair with gentle movements. Jack let Max take over, focusing only on the rush of warm water, and the muscled chest pressing against his back. His head rolled to the side and he pressed a faint kiss to Max’s neck, feeling his heartbeat pulsing under his lips.

X

With the familiar feeling of a hangover looming, Jack opened only one eye cautiously the next morning. He heard the kettle whistle sharply in the kitchen and slammed his eye shut, croaking out a pathetic moan. Oh Lord, his head hurt. He licked his parched lips and tugged the blankets over his head.

‘Why did a hangover inevitably follow a night of reckless drinking?’ he wondered with a silent whine.

Jack heard the sound of Max’s footsteps and managed to lift his head out of his protective cocoon of blankets. He peered up at him blearily. “Um, hey…”

Max held out a mug for him. “Morning,” he said. “You feel human yet?”

“God no,” Jack muttered. He took the mug gratefully and sat up a little. He took a slow sip of the coffee and smiled. Sweetened just the way he liked it.

Max sat on the bed, checking his watch. “I have to leave in a few minutes. I wanted to check on you first.”

Jack shuffled about until he was sitting up completely. He drained half the mug before he nodded. “M’fine,” he said. “Listen, I’m sorry ‘bout last night. I uh, used the money you left to hit up a few bars.”

“It’s fine,” Max looked around the bedroom, his face still tight with what seemed like annoyance. “I’ll leave more if you want, but use it for food, not booze, alright?”

Jack nodded. He folded his fingers in the blankets. “Max, you sure you’re not pissed off?”

“Not at you,” Max finally said after several long moments. “I want you to take it easy today. Just stay put.”

Jack bit the inside of his cheek, chafing at the request. “Sure.” He drained the rest of his coffee and toyed with the mug. He badly wanted to protest against the unfairness of it all.

Max’s mouth quirked in an almost smile and he leaned in, cupping Jack’s cheek. Jack brushed his lips over Max’s, nudging at them and stealing a deeper kiss from him. Max made a sound in his throat, his hand sliding up and into Jack’s hair.

Max pulled back after a moment, some colour in his cheeks, a look Jack secretly found to be almost adorable. He cleared his throat and nodded. “I’ll be back later.”

Jack gave him a small smile. “Yeah, you got it.”

Max slipped off the bed and left the room; leaving Jack huddled up in the blankets once more. Jack debated going back to sleep as he stared up at the ceiling, his head still throbbing. He could faintly hear sirens outside the window and sighed, rolling over onto his side.

The lights from a police car flashed along the alleyway, glimpses of it entering Max’s bedroom window. Jack frowned and sat up again. He padded out of the bed and across the bedroom, his headache forgotten as he lifted the window and looked outside.

He stared down at the ground, his mouth dry as dust. Jack blinked, and then blinked again but the image stayed the same. There were cops everywhere, yellow caution tape rippling in the wind and white sheets spread out in several spots.

“No,” Jack choked out. “Oh holy fuck…”

He backed away from the open window, shaking in the cold breeze that flooded the room immediately. Jack crossed his arms over his chest, his mouth working soundlessly. That woman he’d seen, that woman who’d been screaming for her life as she’d run down the alley…

The shadow that had swooped over her, the one that had filled the alleyway…

Jack swallowed, no moisture left in his mouth. His throat was parched; a dry clicking was all that emerged when he tried to make a sound. He found himself having a desperate wish that he was back home in Detroit, somewhere where he knew Bobby would cover him in a heartbeat.

With trembling fingers, Jack reached for his duffle bag. He pawed out some clothes and put them on, nearly falling over in the process. He threw on one of his hooded sweatshirts, one that he’d swiped from Bobby years before. He laughed and the sound of it was more than a touch hysterical.

“Oh fuck, Max!”

Jack ran for the phone, only to stand there with the receiver in his hand, unable to recall what Max’s work number was. He stared at the phone, unsure of what he was doing. He hung up, his stomach flipping and flopping.

“Think, Jack, think…”

Within moments, Jack was dressed in his coat and boots and out the door. He ran down the stairs, slowing down only when he reached the first floor and saw the trio of cops standing close to the door. He aimed for a look of nonchalance as he left the building, his heart pounding the whole way.

As he rounded the corner, Jack broke into a jog, running from the building and towards the precinct that Max worked at, vaguely remembering where he’d said he worked. And as he ran, he swore he could hear the sound of wings flapping nearby.

X

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
aliceinked
Dec. 13th, 2011 06:17 am (UTC)
Omg! So amazing! I cant wait for the next part!
veiledndarkness
Dec. 16th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks :) Next part is up now.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 13th, 2011 07:51 am (UTC)
Poor Jack, he's not really at his best in a crisis, but he tries. Times like this I wish I actually remembered more about Max Payne. I seem to remember it was billed as being about angels and such but was really about drug, or maybe a virus, something like that. Eh, I'll work around it. Love the story too much not to.
veiledndarkness
Dec. 16th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
No, he certainly isn't cut out for crisis management, lol.

It was kind of about both really, more on the drug side than the angel side. It wasn't explored properly. I'll explain as I go along, hopefully in an entertaining method :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )