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Chasing Ghosts

Title: Chasing Ghosts 11/?

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
Part 9
Part 10



X

“It’s not anything new, people jump out of windows all the time,” Mona said as Max drove, her gaze firmly fixed out the window. “It just happens.”

“He was pulled,” Jack muttered from the back seat.

She sniffed in disbelief. “You really think that? You weren’t upstairs with us, Jack. We saw him, you only saw him fall.”

“Whatever.”

Max tightened his grip on the steering wheel. “Where’d Natasha go for her tattoo?”

Mona’s jaw clenched for a moment before she grudgingly gave him the address. Max made excellent time pushing through the slushy snow on the side streets, and clearing a path through the newly fallen snow. He stopped the car outside a back street shop sign that was posted next to a staircase leading down.

“She got all her work done here.”

Jack hid a slight smile. Now this was familiar territory. Shops like this he’d spent more than a little time in over the years. He slipped out of the car and was the first down the stairs, ignoring the protest from Max as he opened the door to the tattoo parlour.

The bell over the door jingled and the man sitting beyond the counter looked up in surprise. The room was as gritty as Jack expected and he strode up to the counter top and leaned in, reaching for the nearest binder of photos. He flipped through them while Max and Mona stepped up to his side.

The man at the counter regarded Max with deserved suspicion. Everything about Max screamed ‘cop’.

“Can I help you with somethin’?”

“Yeah,” Jack pointed to a picture of a tattoo similar to the one he’d seen on the junkie that had accosted him. “If I wanted to get somethin’ like this one…You do these types here?”

Mona looked around Jack’s arm, peering at the photo. “What’s it mean?”

The man stared up at them, tattooed and worn looking, his longish faded black hair pulled back in a careless ponytail. He gazed at each of them and then looked back at Jack, clearly more comfortable talking to him.

“That’s a Norse Valkryie,” he said, a touch uneasily. “Vikings used to wear them for protection.”

Max looked unconvinced and the man pressed on.

“Valkryies fly over the battlefield, pickin’ out the righteous dead. See, they reward the people who draw first blood, like a soldiers’ angel.”

He reached for a heavy book that sat off to one side of the counter and opened it, paging through until he found what he was looking for. “In Norse mythology, the only way you get to go to Heaven is to die in violence. You die in your sleep, you go to Hell.”

He pointed to a picture in the book and Jack felt his breath catch at the sight of the wings on the cruel looking angel hovering over the body of a fallen Viking. He tried not to shudder. He knew what those wings sounded like, he thought absently.

“It’s protection from what?” Max probed.

The man paused and sat back on his high stool. “Huh?”

“What do you mean, ‘huh’? You said people get these tattoos as protection. What are they afraid of?”

Jack traced the edge of the picture in the book with his finger. “If they have them, they’re safe, as long as they’re the first to kill,” he whispered, “They’re afraid of goin’ to Hell, Max.”

“Got that right, kid,” The man met Jack’s eyes, a scared gleam in his own. He closed the book, narrowly avoiding Jack’s finger as it slammed shut. “You want ink or not?”

X

Jack rested against the seat in the car, his eyes closed. He felt so wearied, yet so awake, almost as if he was dreaming that he was running through a wild night, fleeing the shadows. Mona and Max were arguing quietly in the front seats, debating where to head. Jack cracked an eye open and looked out the window. Somewhere Bobby was thinking of him, he thought distantly.

Angels were real and if these ones were vengeful, deadly ones, then no one was ever truly safe. Jack shuddered a little. His Ma was an angel by now, he knew that much for certain. No one like her could ever end up in Hell, regardless of how she’d died. Even if she’d been allowed to go in her sleep years from now like she should have, she still would have gone to Heaven; he bit his lip, blinking to keep the few tears that prickled at bay.

His Ma had helped save him when the bullets had come, had protected him until Bobby had come running, gun in hand. She’d shielded many of the bullets, he believed, holding him until he was safe, until his brothers had killed every last gun man. Jack rubbed his hand over his shoulder, patting the spot through his jacket. Bobby had been kinder to him during his recovery than he could ever recall him being before.

Too bad it hadn’t lasted.

Mona shook her head impatiently, the argument coming to an abrupt end. “He’s a contact, he’s someone I can ask, but there’s no possible way I can bring either of you in there, Max.”

“Assassin’s code, is it?” Max gave new levels to sarcasm, Jack noted.

“Something like that,” Mona glared at him pointedly. “You’re the last person who’d be able to walk in through the front door without having a gun shoved down your throat.”

“Perfect,” Max started the car and drove, his frown growing deeper by the second.

Jack watched the skyline as the car moved through the night. Small points of light came from the towering buildings that filled the sidewalks downtown. He stifled a yawn half-heartedly, wishing he was back in Max’s bed. No good came from running around like this, he knew.

Max slowed the car when he reached a side street that led to a harbour docking side. Long warehouses were built here and there, crates and barrels and tires were piled to the sides, boats in the water and trucks parked alongside the buildings. They stopped halfway down the laneway on the dock and Mona nodded.

“Here, let me out here and then go. I’ll get in contact with you later.”

Max nodded silently, watching her leave. He waited until the door closed before looking over his shoulder at Jack. “You need to get some sleep.”

“You’re not lookin’ daisy fresh yourself, Max.”

“Don’t worry about me. I don’t need a lot of sleep to begin with.”

Jack rubbed a tired hand over his face. Max, as exhausted as he looked, his eyes were still feverishly bright. The look of determination left scars like that. Jack sighed into his fingers, giving in to the need for rest.

“Alright…but only if you get some sleep too,” he said.

Max grunted. “I need to make a stop first.”

“Mhm,” Jack nodded, closing his eyes once more. He drifted off to sleep within seconds, his fatigued body sinking back into the seat. He dimly heard the engine start again and as the car moved, he had the comforting feeling of being rocked in the darkness.

X

Jack awoke with a start when he heard the car door shut. He blinked and scrubbed at his face quickly, struggling to bring his attention to what was happening. In the distance, Max was outside the car, trudging through the snow. He’d parked beside a fence that guarded a row of storage units and was kneeling down in front of one, fiddling with the lock.

With a sigh, Jack emerged from the relative warmth of the car and followed Max’s footsteps. “Your locker, I presume,” he said when he reached the same spot.

“Yeah,” Max undid the lock and pulled the door open to reveal a long, dark corridor. He reached inside and flipped a switch, harsh fluorescent lighting flooding the compartment.

Jack squinted, surprised to see row upon row of shelves, each filled with white boxes. Each box was painstakingly labelled neatly. He read a few as he followed Max, noting the precision taken with each box.

Kitchen…Nursery…Bedroom…Michelle’s Home Office…

Max stopped in front of the one labelled for Michelle. He tugged it off the shelf and carried it in both hands over to the table that ran a good length along the wall. He pulled the box lid off and rummaged through the contents, his movements a great deal gentler than when he’d ransacked Alex’s office, looking for paperwork.

“Max…Um, this may sound dumb, but what are we doing here?”

“I don’t know,” Max lifted out several folders and scowled when he saw they were empty.

“Then why…” Jack trailed off when he saw the logo on the top folder. “Max…she worked at that Aesir place, right?”

Max nodded, digging deeper into the box. He threw the box back with a growl of frustration. “So?”

Jack scooped up the top folder and ran his thumb over the logo printed on it. The words Aesir Pharmaceuticals were wrapped with an image of a feather wing. He shivered, a cold chill running down his back. “This is fucking insane, man.”

“A wing,” Max touched his thumb to the folder then, tracing the movement Jack had made. “Goddamn it.”

“Why are all these folders empty?”

Max grabbed the lid from the table and slapped it back down on the box, keeping the folder that Jack was holding, out. “I don’t know that either. Everything of hers was gathered up by that supervisor of hers, Colvin something.”

Jack handed the folder back to Max, uneasy. “Someone went to the trouble of hiding her stuff and there’s a fucking wing on this folder. I’d say there’s something goin’ on at Aesir, Max.”

“Takes them up in their wings,” Max mumbled, almost to himself. He put the box back on the shelf and walked out, the folder rolled up in one hand. Jack followed him, eager to leave the cold storage room.

Max said nothing on the drive back to his apartment and for that, Jack was grateful. He was far too tired to keep up his side of a conversation. He stripped his coat and boots off with clumsy fingers, leaving them by the door. He heard the sound of Max’s sigh and almost smiled. Max hated messes. Undoubtedly, he was hanging Jack’s coat up and putting his boots away.

Jack all but fell onto Max’s bed with a winded sigh. He pushed off his clothes impatiently and squirmed under the sheets. The apartment itself was still in disarray from the police and crime scene workers that had combed over every inch of every room. He was merely grateful that he’d been allowed to keep the few belongings he possessed and that his guitar had not been torn apart in their search for clues.

“Jack,” Max said quietly as he sat on the edge of the bed.

He opened one eye a little and peered at Max, who was still dressed.

“I’m sorry about all this,” he lifted a hand, letting it hover over Jack’s lower back. He seemed to be hesitating and Jack felt a flicker of humour at that. Max was oddly reserved in some ways; in ways that made Jack inevitably compare him to Bobby.

“Don’t be,” Jack whispered sleepily. “I said I’d be here for you. I ain’t going anywhere.”

“You should.” Max let his hand come to rest on Jack, rubbing a slow circle along his spine.

Jack groaned a little, moving into the touch. He felt stiff and sore all over. “You want me to go?”

Max shook his head, his gaze moving over Jack’s skin greedily. “No…”

“Then stop trying to make me leave. You’re not a bad guy, Max; I don’t give a shit what Alex’s wife said. You’re not that person.”

Max made a sound deep in his throat, one that had Jack open his other eye and look up at him. He could see such misery and unhappiness in Max’s face, such suffering that his heart ached for him. Could someone fix such brokenness in another, he wondered sadly.

Was it even possible?

“You don’t know me well enough to say that, Jack.”

“I know what I’ve seen,” Jack shifted onto his side, the moonlight spilling through the window, casting shadows on the both of them. “You’re not cruel.”

Max stared past Jack. “Not to you. I don’t think I could be to you. Jack…I feel too much for you, and that scares me, ok? Anyone I ever cared about…they’re gone now. I can’t keep dragging you along in this. It’s too risky.”

“I know you won’t hurt me. I’m not afraid of you, Max,” Jack gave him a small smile. It was true, for the most part. He felt some fear at the idea of Max loving him. “Besides, whatever the hell is going on in this city, I’m sure they know that I’m here with you.”

Max looked all the more troubled by that, by the reminder of the assault on Jack. “That never should have happened to you,” he whispered, his voice tight. “This was supposed to be somewhere safe for you to be in the city. And now you’re wounded and chasing after me.”

“I’m chasing my own ghosts, Max,” Jack murmured, thinking of the night he’d fled Evelyn’s house. “I made the choice to come here, you didn’t force me. And you need my help, even if it’s only for lookouts.”

Max only sighed and resumed stroking along Jack’s spine, careful to avoid coming too close to the still healing wound on Jack’s side. “You left your city, you wander from place to place but you didn’t say why. You avoided the question.”

Jack shrugged. He hugged the pillow with one arm, cradling it close. “Does it really matter? Some people…” he thought of Evelyn and what she’d told him years before during one painful phone call he’d made to her when he’d run away the very first time from her house. “Some people were born to wander. Itchy feet when they stay put too long.”

“Or maybe you’re running from someone.”

Jack swallowed over the lump in his throat. “Maybe…” he admitted.

Max stroked and stroked, seemingly content to touch Jack’s skin and find a hint of peace in doing so. Jack felt his eyes droop with exhaustion and as he fell into sleep, he felt a deep longing for home, the only place that had ever felt like home until she’d died. He had a second to wonder if Bobby was still there or if he’d fled too before sleep overcame him.

X

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
sunrunnersioned
Jan. 2nd, 2012 05:32 am (UTC)
Oh heavens, I've been avoiding this fic for ages cause I'm to busy to recommit to my love of this fandom...and your fic is the perfect thing to make me start all over again. Thanks for the updates!! Am really loving the direction of this fic. The ending was so sweet it just made me grin ear to ear! Thanks as always for doing such a great job and sharing it with us!
veiledndarkness
Jan. 3rd, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
Aww, well I can understand that. The ending is still a bit of a ways of, but I hope you enjoy the ride :)
aliceinked
Jan. 2nd, 2012 05:32 am (UTC)
Amazingness as always! XD
veiledndarkness
Jan. 3rd, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
Thank you :)
(Anonymous)
Jan. 2nd, 2012 07:04 am (UTC)
There has got to be some way to at least help fix Max through Jack's relationship with him in a way that leaves Jack stronger and open to Bobby. Sometimes relationships don't have to be about the Big Love to be powerful but about crossed paths at the right times, kindness, respect, appreciation, need and yes love of a kind, that's what this feels like, a healing love, just hope it does. Poor Bobby, I doubt Jack really understands why he pulls away, its hard enough for Max to want to protect those big blue eyes, add the big brother problem, I can see Bobby terrified after Jack was shot, tender while he needed him, then pushing him away for his own sake after for fear of what um could have happened.
veiledndarkness
Jan. 3rd, 2012 03:04 am (UTC)
You're very right, on many levels. Jack can't face Bobby until he finds his own inner strength and this ordeal will help him see this.

Bobby has many issues all his own, let alone Jack's issues on top of that. But they need each other, in every possible way. Losing Jack would take one of the last good parts of Bobby, after the death of Evelyn. He wouldn't be the same, never again.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )