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Chasing Ghosts

Title: Chasing Ghosts 9/?

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
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8



X

Sitting outside the office of Jim Bravura felt a little too much like sitting outside the principal’s office. Jack stared up at the ceiling, trying not to sigh for the third time in a few minutes. He’d spent many a school day, waiting to speak to the principal for some crime, real or imagined. His knee bounced up and down nervously as the minutes stretched on.

“What exactly is Internal Affairs and why are they talkin’ to Max?” he finally asked B.B., unable to stay quiet a second longer.

“I wasn’t kidding when I said the department thinks Max killed Alex,” B.B. nodded at the door separating them from Max. “That girl who was found in pieces next to his apartment, they have him in theory for that as well.”

“But…” Jack looked at B.B., bewildered. “How…they can’t just say he killed her…right?”

B.B. looked troubled as he nodded. “Yes, they can. Max’s wallet was found with the girl. Apparently she’d been seen with him on the night she died.”

Oh, that hurt. Jack bit back the unexpected surge of jealousy. “He…He was?”

“Yes, and you can only imagine how that looks right now to the investigators. Are you ready to give them something more solid than some ‘shadow man’ for your statement?”

Jack huffed out a breath and stared at the door again, willing it to open. He needed another pill and a cigarette in the worst way. His knee bobbed faster. “He didn’t kill her either,” he muttered.

“How can you be so sure, hmm?”

“Because I trust him, that’s why!” he nearly shouted, and then looked around guiltily at the outburst. “You say you’re like family to Max, you should be the last person ready to condemn him!”

“Even if I wasn’t as close as I am to Max, I wouldn’t let that blind me to the evidence in front of us.”

Jack shook his head furiously. “That’s crap and you know it. At least we Mercers stick together. It doesn’t matter what the fucking cops say, even if one of my brothers had the gun in his damned hand, I’d still side with him.”

“And that’s what worries me about your…association with Max,” B.B. said and Jack hated him all the more right then.

“Really,” Jack smirked at him. “Or does it actually worry you because you can’t imagine your image of Max fucking a guy like me? He’s good at it, you know. I’d say a natural.”

Twin spots of anger flared up in B.B’s cheeks and he made a series of strangled noises in his throat. “Now you listen here, you little hoodlum…”

The door to the office slammed open then, Max angrily moving through the doorway. “Yeah, and some of that blood is mine,” he called over his shoulder. “Good luck with your case,” he added sarcastically.

“Let’s go, Jack,” he said without looking at them as he walked down the hallway.

Jack was up and moving before B.B. seemed to notice what was happening. Jim Bravura stood in the doorway, his face tight with anger. B.B. rose from his bench seat and ambled over to the man, speaking to him quietly.

“Max…” Jack caught up to him easily enough. “That guy back there, B.B…”

“What?”

“He um…” Jack didn’t know how to say that he didn’t trust the one person closest to a family member that Max still had. “I know you didn’t kill Alex and…and that girl.”

“Glad someone thinks so,” Max muttered.

B.B caught up to them a few steps later, sounding a touch out of breath. “Well, I hope that felt good Max. You succeeded in making yourself look guilty.”

Jack sneered at B.B. “Are all you cops that thick headed?”

“Your opinion doesn’t stand for much,” B.B threw back at him. “Max, I still have some contacts in the departments, but there’s only so much I can do for you. You need to calm down and speak to Bravura properly.”

Max said nothing, his lips pulled into a tight, grim line. He yanked at his tie, loosening it around his neck. He jabbed the elevator button at the end of the hallway, giving no indication that he’d heard anything that B.B. had spoken to him. Jack stood next to him, exchanging dirty looks with B.B.

As they stepped into the elevator, Max suddenly and abruptly stepped back out, his eyes on the Homicide Sign before the elevator doors. Jack dashed back out, amused by B.B.’s sputtering behind them. Max strode through the hallway, making his way through the rows of cubicles and cops every which way.

“Max,” Jack whispered urgently, unnerved by the amount of people glaring at them. “I hope you got a plan going on here.”

“I don’t have a plan,” Max said as he pushed through the growing throngs of angered cops blocking his way. Several people fell in line behind, all but chasing after them.

Jack glanced back over his shoulder, feeling more uncomfortable by the second. He pushed closer to Max, feeling like he pushing against a wall of water. This was all too similar to entering a packed gymnasium, full of people who wanted nothing to do with the likes of Bobby Mercer and his lippy attitude. He tensed, following Max up to a wooden door that had the words Alex Balder written across them.

Max opened the door, pulling Jack with him. Jack grunted, his still fresh stitches protesting the manhandling. Max locked the door behind them and crossed the distance to Alex’s desk in only a few strides.

“Max…” Jack stood in front of the door, listening to the furious shouts from the other side. “What the hell are we doing here?”

“Alex wanted to talk; he said there was something similar in Michelle’s file and Natasha’s.”

Jack gritted his teeth. This jealousy thing was starting to bug him. “Natasha’s the one in the alley way. What would she have to do with what happened to your wife?”

“I don’t fucking know!” Max shouted at him as he ransacked the desk, pulling drawers out and dumping them, searching frantically through the various items. He upturned the pencil holder on the desk, the furrows on his forehead deepening by the second.

He yanked at the bottom drawer at the same time someone shoved at the office door, the person vowing to kick their asses if they didn’t get out. Jack leaned on the door, groaning in pain as the door shuddered in its frame.

Max kicked at the desk in time to the kicks at the door. Jack bit his lip, fighting back his instinctive panic at the situation unfolding around them. The cabinet sprang open finally and Max yanked out the top file, rifling through it. He tore a sheet off and crumpled it, stuffing it into his pocket. He flipped through several more pages and froze, staring down at one. He ripped that one out as well and added it to the other one in his pocket.

“Max…” Jack pushed back against the door. “We’re runnin’ out of time here.”

“We’re goin’,” Max turned and lifted up the window, pushing it up as far as it would go.

Cold wind flooded in and Jack felt his teeth begin to chatter. Max leaned out the window and looked down. He nodded once and looked back at Jack. “C’mon.”

“Out the window?” Jack gaped at him, incredulous. “Are you insane?”

“I’m not askin’ you, Jack. Go, now!” he gestured at the ledge.

Jack edged away from the door, his heart pounding. He bit down on the inside of his cheek and moved over to Max’s side. “Oh Jesus,” he croaked. They were more than a few feet off the ground, too high for Jack’s comfort.

“Go!” Max pushed at him, “Now!”

Jack trembled with fear but did as he was commanded. At this moment, Max had never sounded more like Bobby and if Bobby instructed Jack to do something, he did it. There were only a few exemptions, he thought inanely as he slid one leg over the ledge. In this case, he took a deep breath and prayed that Evelyn was on his side. He slipped out and jumped, landing on the snowy ground below with only a shock of pain up his legs to show for his efforts.

X

Max said virtually nothing as they ran from the precinct, making their way through the crowded streets. Jack kept up with him, limping a little. He dry swallowed a painkiller, hoping it would kick in soon. Max fisted a hand in Jack’s coat and pulled him into an alley way, dodging a pair of beat cops. They stood in an abandoned doorway, sheltered from the falling snow.

Jack breathed shallowly, his jaw tensed. “Is…there a reason we went through all that?”

Max pulled out the crumpled papers, nodding. “Natasha’s phone records and a picture,” he said. “Natasha had a tattoo of an angel wing, and so did one of the bastards that…” he paused, steeling himself, “One of the guys that killed my wife, the exact same style, in fact.”

“Ok,” Jack looked at the picture Max held. “Max, oh man…I’ve seen that before.”

“What?” Max stared at him, his eyes wild.

Jack swallowed, the tiniest bit afraid of Max right then. “Um, this guy, he was ranting and ravin’ about angels…it was the night I bumped my head. He shoved his arm in my face and he had this kind of wing tattoo on his forearm.”

“And you didn’t think to tell me?” Max hissed at him.

“I…I was drunk that night…” Jack mumbled, looking down at the snowy ground. “I was gonna tell you…”

Max put the photo back into his pocket, anger tightening his face anew. “That’s great, Jack, just great. What else haven’t you told me?”

“N-Nothing!” Jack protested.

“Why should I believe you now?”

Jack recoiled from him. “Max…I-I swear, I’m not lying.”

“Uh huh,” Max scoffed. He made a fist and slammed it against the door, knocking snow loose from the frame. “This is something, Jack. For once, I have something to go on. Alex was trying to tell me about a connection!”

Jack said nothing. He kicked at the snow, trying to swallow the hurt he felt.

Max smoothed out the other paper, reading through it slowly. “Natasha’s phone records,” he murmured. “Her last two calls were to someone named Owen Green.”

“Right,” Jack dug in his jacket, pulling out his pack of cigarettes. He shook the last one out and lit it, his fingers shaking ever so slightly. As he smoked, Max seemed lost in his thoughts. He wanted to shout at Max and demand he apologize for not trusting him.

But this was Max, the closest thing he had to Bobby right now. And Bobby wouldn’t have apologized if he felt Jack hadn’t trusted him. That was for damn sure. He wasn’t big on forgiveness, only in the rarest of occasions.

Max folded the paper and marched down the alley way. No doubt, he expected Jack to fall into line behind him, he mused bitterly. Jack sighed and did so, enjoying his cigarette. He wasn’t sure if he had enough balls to ask Max to buy him another as he was currently out of money.

As he smoked, he trudged through the snow, wishing vainly that he’d chosen a warmer climate to travel to. The painkiller had begun to kick in and that made everything easier to endure. Max stopped at a payphone and made a quick call, leaving Jack to wait outside the phone booth.

“We’re going to meet up with B.B in an hour,” Max said in Jack’s direction as he exited the booth.

Jack nodded, sadly extinguishing the last of his cigarette. “Max, I’m sorry about before, I was gonna tell you, I swear it.”

Max finally met his eyes, apparently seeing what he wanted to because his lips twitched.

“It’s alright, Jack.”

“How did you know this woman…Natasha?”

Max exhaled heavily. “I went to see my old snitch for information on some junkies. They were the sort that would have pulled the robbery at the house. He was having a loft party and she was there. I saw the tattoo and thought it was unusual. I saw her and several other people acting suspicious in a back room. She was going to tell me what I wanted to know so I brought her back home with me.”

Jack took a step away from Max, indignant for a moment. “You brought some random woman back to your apartment on a whim and a prayer?”

“I brought some random guy home with me, didn’t I?” Max snapped.

“So, what then? You fucked her an’ sent her off to be sliced and diced?”

Max took a big step forward, crowding Jack back against the phone booth. “I did not fuck her, Jack. I kicked her ass out when she tried to convince me to have sex with her. She stole my wallet! So there’s your story, ok? Is that jealousy I see written all over your face?”

Jack wanted to spit at him. “Fuck you! You should’ve let her do you, Max. Then you’d of gotten your money’s worth when the bitch stole your wallet!”

And if he’d wanted to say precisely the wrong thing to piss Max off, that had been it. Max’s mouth tightened and a furious look passed over his face. “So that’s it then? You don’t care if I have sex with someone else? Gee, and here I was thinking we had a little something.”

“You think I care? You think you’re the first older guy I hooked up with out of necessity?” Jack gave him a fake, nasty laugh. “Please…I don’t give a shit about who or what you fuck. And you know what else? I’m outta here.”

“Jack, Jack, wait!” Max reached for him, only to have Jack shove at him.

“I don’t need you, Max Payne, I told you that before. I can take of myself!”

“Bullshit you can!” Max shouted and grabbed Jack’s arm tightly and steering him down the sidewalk against his will. “You need someone to keep you in line obviously.”

Jack struggled but really, in his injured state, he was in no shape to be fighting. He let out a sound of pain, his side aching horribly. Max stopped, realization kicking in. He put a hand to Jack’s side, stopping him from moving.

“Shit, I’m sorry,” he swore, worry clouding his eyes. “Jack…Damn it, I’m sorry.”

Jack bit the tip of his tongue, blinking back tears. “Forget about it.”

Max groaned softly and gentled his grip on Jack’s arm. “I didn’t mean to get rough and…and I wouldn’t have slept with her anyway. She wasn’t my type.”

“Would she have been if you weren’t currently dabbling in fucking a guy?”

Max winced at Jack’s phrasing. “Christ, Jack, I don’t think of it like that.”

“Clearly,” Jack wasn’t sure if he wanted to cry or scream. “Where are we meeting him?” he asked, changing the subject. Fighting left him feeling wearied and he’d never been a fan of it. In fact, when it came to fight or flight, he still instinctively wanted to run most of the time.

“At the Citizen,” Max said after a moment of watching Jack’s face. “It’s a bar.”

“Super,” Jack tugged his arm away from Max. He did his best not to shake, but goddamn it, he wanted to. He hated being manhandled. He’d only ever been ok with someone pulling him around when that someone had been Bobby.

“It’s this way,” Max said, nodding his head to the direction they needed to go. “We’ll stop at the apartment for a change of clothes first.”

X

They passed right through the bar, Max stopping only long enough to speak with the bartender. Jack followed Max glumly, away from the meagre heat of the bar and back into the snow. They stood in the alley behind the bar, still more snow falling in slow drifts around them.

Max paced in a wide circle, unable to calm down. Jack had never seen him so wound up.

Jack allowed himself a petulant sigh and leaned back against a stack of wooden crates. “I wonder why that woman had the same tattoo as a junkie,” he mused out loud.

“Because they’re connected in some way,” Max muttered, pacing another circle.

“Well yeah, but I mean, did she look like a junkie?”

Max snorted at that. “No.”

“Was she high?”

Max paused for a second, looking at Jack. “I think so. I saw her in that back room, she had this vial in her hand…I couldn’t see exactly what it was.”

Jack nodded. He rubbed his tongue stud against his teeth, thinking fast. “She was high then, so that means she had a dealer, most likely. I’d bet that’s who Owen Green is. And this might be a new drug, some fancy one. ‘Cause if the junkies like the ones I saw have access to it, then that means it’s out an’ about, not just for people with money.”

“You’re thinking she was on the same drug?”

Jack nodded hesitantly. “Maybe,” he hedged. “Maybe not, the junkies were like…tweaking, you know? If she wasn’t, then she’d of had a hit before you guys left together. I bet it wouldn’t last too long. It’d have to be strong as fuck to leave you tweakin’ on that level.”

“Do I dare ask how you have such knowledge of street drugs?”

Jack’s cheeks burned and he resumed staring anywhere but at Max. “Not important…”

“I bet.” Max looked more than a little annoyed and Jack felt his eyes sting. He wasn’t proud of his background but he wouldn’t apologize for it.

They lapsed into silence as they waited, nothing but the sound of snowflakes falling between them. After an indeterminable wait, the back door to the bar finally opened. B.B. stepped through, shaking his head at Max.

“Oh, for God’s sake, Max,” he gestured around the alley way as Max wheeled around to stare at him, breathing hard. “You’re going to freeze to death out here.”

Jack tried not to shiver. He was freezing but he figured Max was too far gone in his worked up anger to feel the cold.

“Alex knew something about Michelle,” Max said, “Something new.”

“New?” B.B. looked doubtfully at him. “Don’t you think he would have told you if he had?”

“He was tryin’ to!” Max shouted. “The night he was killed, whatever was in the apartment with us was trying to make sure he couldn’t tell me!”

“What exactly do you think you’re looking for, Max? You’ve got bigger things to worry about right now, like reporting back, not chasing phantom leads.”

Jack slipped off the crates and moved closer to Max as he pushed away from B.B.

“You know what, forget about it!” Max snarled at him. He walked out of the alley, his breath coming in fast pants, wisps floating up.

B.B. shook his head at Jack. “You could at least try and talk some sense into him, young man.”

“I don’t control him any better than you do.” With that, Jack turned on his heel, jogging until he caught up with Max.

X

Max cut a wide swath through the snowy ground until he’d reached the sidewalk. Jack stuffed his hands in his pockets, as cold as he’d ever been right then. “Max, this is um…a sketchy kind of area,” he said carefully.

“This is the kind of place I need to be right now.” Max stopped in his tracks. “Jack, you should go back to the apartment. This isn’t something you need to be involved in.”

“I’m not thrilled about all this but I’ll be damned if I’ll be left back like a little boy, Max!”

“I don’t want you getting hurt,” Max looked up at Jack, a glimmer of something in his eyes before he blinked it away, so quick that Jack barely saw it. “I can’t stand the idea.”

Jack leaned in and kissed Max, silencing his fears. “I’ll be ok,” he whispered as the kiss ended, his lips brushing over Max’s. “I’ve been through worse and you could use some help.”

Max sighed and gave a tense nod. “Fine…”

Jack smiled slightly. “You already involved me when we jumped out that window.”

Max looked over Jack’s shoulder, frowning at the trio of men that were walking opposite them, across the street. “C’mere,” he said under his breath to Jack. He nudged Jack into the nearest alley and pulled a gun from under his coat.

He cocked it, keeping Jack a step or so behind him. “Someone’s following us.”

Jack felt his stomach clench. This was the part he hated. He nodded and moved with Max down the alley, backing up, both their gazes at the opening of the alley way. Jack took two steps back and out of the corner of his eye, saw a blur of black to his left. He opened his mouth to warn Max, only to see a very large, very dangerous looking gun slide into view.

“Drop your weapon.”

X

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
littlewitch34
Dec. 21st, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC)
Oh Jack...
veiledndarkness
Dec. 30th, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
I know...
aliceinked
Dec. 21st, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC)
XD more please??????
veiledndarkness
Dec. 30th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
There's more now, lol :)
(Anonymous)
Dec. 22nd, 2011 07:27 am (UTC)
More!!!
veiledndarkness
Dec. 30th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
Your wish has been granted, lol. New chapter is up :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )