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Chasing Ghosts

Title: Chasing Ghosts 13/?

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
Part 11
Part 12



X

Not so much as a word was spoken between Max and Jack as they high-tailed it out of the immediate city core. Max had stashed his car a few streets back from the Aesir building which, if anything, only told Jack for certain that Max had been planning to do more than just talk to Jason Colvin.

Jack gritted his teeth in the passenger seat, struggling to keep his temper under a fast boil. He was more than angry, more than furious even. This was not how he’d expected things to go. He’d been expecting something more from a man like Max Payne. He hadn’t been expecting an out of control ex-Homicide cop who’d seemingly lost his goddamned mind.

Bobby would never have let it get this out of hand with a person like Jason. As fucked up as Bobby could be, he had a code, a series of rules that he followed. And getting your informant killed before he could give up the info was a definite no-no.

Max pulled over abruptly without sparing Jack a glance. “You need to eat.”

“Yeah, and you need a bandage for your arm.”

With little more than a grunt, Max shifted and rotated his left arm. “It’s a graze, I’m fine.”

He killed the engine and got out of the car. “Make it quick; pick something you can eat while we’re on the road.”

“Oh boy,” Jack muttered under his breath. “Beef jerky, here I come.”

The convenience store was at least warm, though overly bright. Jack squinted under the harsh lights and made his way up and down a few aisles, limping slightly, his leg still sore from their leap into the hallway. He grabbed a bag of beef jerky, a box of granola bars with chocolate and a few cans of pop.

“Don’t ‘spose you’d spring for cigarettes?” he asked Max hopefully.

Max looked thoroughly unimpressed. “It’s a filthy habit, you know.”

“Is that a no?”

He almost smiled at that and his lips quirked in the corners. “Fine, go get your brand,” Max said.

“Thanks,” Jack limped over to the counter, nodding to the bored cashier behind the counter.

The man looked half awake, though it was well past ten in the morning. He handed Max his change, his eyes registering only a flicker of interest at the blood on Max’s arm. “Have a nice day,” he mumbled into his chest, already leaning back from the counter’s edge.

Jack tore into the package as soon as they got into the car. He lit a cigarette and inhaled greedily, relishing the acrid burn. “Fuck yeah,” he groaned. Way too long since he’d last had one, he thought, aware of the way Max was staring at him, at his mouth.

“So, you got a plan, right?” he asked around the cigarette in his mouth.

Max snorted. “Not exactly…”

“Figures,” Jack snapped his seatbelt on and resumed taking long drags. “What about Mona? Can you contact her?”

“I don’t have a number for her.” Max drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and lifted his gaze from Jack to the road, keeping a watchful eye out for other cops. “But I know where her office would be.”

“Assassins have office buildings?”

“Funny.”

Jack settled for smoking, using the light banter to keep his anger at bay. He felt ready to explode and exit the car, ready to walk back home to Detroit if that’s what it took to keep himself from completely losing his shit all over Max.

As Max drove, he seemed to be tensing all the more. Jack could literally feel the tension level in the car raising. Finally he turned to look at Max and hazarded a questioning look, prepared to lean away if he snapped.

“What?”

“Max…About what I said earlier, look, I wanted to…”

Max shook his head once. “Don’t.”

“But…”

“I said don’t, Jack! You made your point.”

Jack rubbed his tongue stud against his bottom teeth, all the more annoyed. “You’ve got some nerve freakin’ out on me like this. You almost got both of us killed, Max! Colvin’s dead because of this wing bullshit, and for what? Some half cocked idea about revenge?”

“Didn’t your Bobby do the same thing last year?”

Oh, that was taking it too far.

“Back the fuck off of that one! Bobby didn’t kill anyone who was innocent, for your fucking information, Max!” Jack was incensed. He pitched his half smoked cigarette out the open car window, smoke floating over his head. “Don’t you even dare compare him to what you did!”

Max grimaced. “Please, I know more than you think about his type. You’ve got blinders on when it comes to him. How many people died last year, Jack? Huh? How many got in his way and paid the price for it? He’s well known in a few states, which I’m sure you’re aware of.”

Jack fairly trembled with rage. “He didn’t get anyone killed the way you did today,” he whispered fiercely. “It’s going to be a long day for the Colvin family. I wonder who’s gonna explain to his daughter that Daddy isn’t coming home anymore?”

Max slammed on the brakes, his eyes murderously wide, his teeth bared. The car fishtailed on the road for a moment, sliding in the snow before coming to a stop. He stared at Jack as though this was the first time he’d seen him and Jack felt his heart skip several beats. His treacherous mouth, always getting away from him at the wrong moment…

A full minute went by before Max’s throat bobbed. He looked like he wanted to punch something, one hand halfway up in the air. Jack closed his eyes, waiting for the follow through. He tried not to cringe, tried not to wince before it started to occur to him that Max wasn’t following through with his abrupt motion.

He let out a shaky breath and peered at Max from under his lashes, swallowing nervously.

Max let his hand slowly settle back on the steering wheel. “Don’t say another word,” he managed to say in a painful voice. “Not one more.”

Jack nodded quickly and looked down at his lap, his hands trembling. His eyes stung and he felt shame flood through him. For not the first time that day, he felt an intense longing for Bobby. At least with Bobby, he was safe…most of the time.

X

True to his word, Jack didn’t utter so much as a loud breath during the rest of the drive. He finished half of the jerky, a can of pop and two of the granola bars, eating as quietly as he could manage. Max said nothing at all, his jaw tensed far too tightly. He took turns, went left or right seemingly at random, moving through the back streets of the city and avoiding the major arteries where cops would be likely be cruising for them.

That thought was more than enough to make Jack want to panic. How could he explain his part in all this? The cops thought Max had killed Natasha and Alex, he’d broken into Alex’s office and stolen confidential files, had invoked the wrath of a Russian assassin and that of a SWAT team that had resulted in the death of someone nearly innocent.

Jack lit another cigarette, struggling to calm his nerves. He couldn’t cope with all this.

Max turned off a main street and drove into a warehouse facility. The tunnel was dim and Jack craned his head, unable to see much besides the gray walls and loading docks in a row. They pulled up to the one labelled 23 and stopped there. Max got out, beckoning to Jack for him to follow.

He took his gun out from his holster, moving slowly towards the large door before them.

“Stay behind me,” he said over his shoulder to Jack. “She might not appreciate us dropping by unexpected.”

“Awesome,” Jack sighed and stubbed out the last bit of his cigarette on the cement stairs.

Max used his elbow to smash through the glass window beside the door handle, the leather of his jacket protecting him. Jack winced a little and darted out of the way of glass shards.

“You think that’ll piss her off more?”

“I don’t care at this point,” Max reached through the hole and unlocked the door, pushing it open. “You still got that envelope?”

X

Jack sat on the red sunken in couch, surrounded by boxes and furniture and crates. Max was next to him, his body as tense as ever. He flipped through the folder inside the envelope, past a full page picture of a solider named Jack Lupino. Pages of reports followed that, details of a Lupino’s blood work and his reactions. Tucked inside the envelope was a DVD case, a clear one with a disc inside labelled ‘Valkyr’.

“Valkyr…That’s so damned creepy,” Jack swore, fighting the urge to cross himself.

Max took it out and held it up to the light. “See if you can find a television in this place.”

Mona’s footsteps caused Jack to pause. He looked back at her, his breath catching. Oh God, did she ever look pissed…

“You’ve gotta see this,” Max said without looking behind the couch.

Mona came around the side of the couch, putting the safety on her gun. “I’d ask how you found me, but I think I can figure it out.”

“I ran into some problems but I got this info.”

“Is that why there’s an APB out on you both?”

Jack sighed and shook his head. “Jesus Christ…” He leaned against a stack of boxes. “Max, you realize that we’re completely fucked, right?”

“Not if I can get some kind of proof to show them, something to back all this up,” Max said and Jack really wanted to believe that.

Mona took her long overcoat off and sat on the edge of the couch. “So what’s this information about then?”

“You got a DVD player around here?”

She pointed over Jack, gesturing behind him. “That one’s hooked up.”

The three of them watched in stunned silence once the video began to play, the narrator’s voice glowingly referencing the future of America’s soldiers and the newest drug to help them along, Valkyr, as developed by Aesir Pharmaceuticals.

“That’s what this is about?” Mona asked no one in particular, “A drug?”

The video continued on, listing all the ways it could help turn soldiers from mere mortals to invincible killing machines. The scene ended abruptly and switched to test subject interviews. One numbered 53, the name Jack Lupino flashed on the screen, the same man from the picture in the folder.

Jack Lupino, a Marine, sat and smiled for the camera; answering the unseen interviewer happily that taking Valkyr had changed his life for the better…that he was never scared, that he felt peace while fighting as if something was watching over him from above and that he felt like he had wings.

Jack swallowed uneasily. “Like an angel, huh?”

The man on the television smiled and chuckled and informed them that he’d had no negative side effects. The interview ended shortly after and Mona raised the remote, turning the video off. They all sat for a moment, digesting what they’d just seen.

“That man,” Max breathed, almost inaudibly. “That man killed my wife…Natasha too.”

Mona shook her head a little, nodding along. “He’s in an old club called Ragnarok. My contact, he told me about the tattoos. Lupino marks them as part of his army.”

“That sick fuck,” Jack hissed. He stood up impatiently and ran a hand through his dishevelled hair. He grabbed the photo of Lupino and wanted to crumple it up. He could feel the ungodly strong fingers prying him loose from his hiding spot and knew at once that this man had been his attacker.

Max said nothing. He moved off the couch and over to the side table, looking at the guns that lay there. He checked one for ammo, his face eerily blank once more. As he lifted it, examining the safety on it, Jack felt a chill sweep over him.

“Max, forget it. If you go there, you’ll die.” Mona walked over to him, her face pale. “You have my help with anything else, but not to go in there.”

“Keep it that way,” he said, loading a bullet into the gun. “I need you here.”

She looked at Jack for a moment and bit her bottom lip. “You,” she looked back to Max. “You don’t want to make it out of there, do you?”

Max didn’t respond but his hands stilled on the gun.

“You think if he puts you of your misery, you’ll be with them again?” she said, her voice catching a little, a deep breath of pity coming through.

“Yeah, I kind of hope that’s how it works,” Max whispered and turned to face her.

She tossed her long sweep of hair, tears gleaming in her eyes. “And him?” she nodded to Jack. “I thought you both…”

Jack shoved his hands into his pockets. And what indeed, he thought miserably. “You might’ve mentioned something about this, Max.”

“If I die, I die, so long as you don’t get hurt,” Max said with some bitterness. “You aren’t coming along this time. I can’t, in fact, I won’t let you. Mona can keep you safer than I can right now.”

“And afterwards?” Jack demanded. “What then? You go in there, shoot the fucking place up, maybe take him out or maybe he kills you and that’s that?! So long and thanks for the fuck, Jackie?”

Max unclenched his jaw and crossed the floor to Jack. He reached up, catching Jack’s cheek with one hand. He pulled him down a bit, kissing him roughly. “I’m sorry for what it’s worth,” he whispered harshly. “I’m sorry for everything.”

“Sorry…? You’re sorry?” Jack laughed a little, feeling tears spring to his eyes. “You’re fucking sorry? How can you do this? Just…just walk in there and leave…leave me like this? Do you even give a shit about me at all?”

Max moved his hand up gently, into Jack’s hair. He carded his fingers through the strands, sighing as he did so. “You’re the last person I expected to meet, Jack. And…and I care too much to let you take this kind of risk. You don’t belong with me, Jack. You should go back home. You need to go back where you belong, not here with me in a place like this. I won’t let you risk yourself for someone like me.”

Jack yanked back away from him with an angry sob. He turned away, gripping his arms across his chest for comfort. He hated the tears that escaped even more than he hated the feeling of being cast aside. He shut his eyes tightly, wishing in vain that he’d never set foot in New York.

“Mona,” Max turned to face her. He almost winced at the look on her face, the unspoken accusation in her damp eyes. “Keep him safe for me. That’s all I’m gonna ask you to do.”

“You’re a fool, Max.” She looked away from him, still shaking her head a little, “A damned fool.”

Jack held it in as Max touched his shoulder, passing by him. He held back the urge to scream, to grab Max and shake him until he understood. What was there left to say? Max’s footsteps faded away and Jack slowly knelt down to the floor, lost in his misery.

X

Mona gave him time enough to stem the flow of violently angry tears, one dainty hand touching his shoulder. Jack shuddered under the slight touch, embarrassed that she’d been there to see him fall apart. Mona rubbed her thumb over the spot where he’d been shot the year before, unknowingly pressing on it through his jacket.

Jack hissed and moved away from her, fresh tears burning his eyes. “Don’t…”

“I’m sorry, Jack,” she murmured. “He’s…He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

“You know him even less than I do, so don’t pretend you understand,” Jack swiped a hand over his face, sniffing hard. “He’s tryin’ to get himself killed, and I’ll be damned if I let him do that.”

Mona simply looked at him, her eyes clearly telling him what she thought of that. “Look, Jack, you’re not exactly prepared to do battle with a guy like Lupino. You don’t have any weapons, and…well…”

He glared at her. “Don’t you dare finish that sentence.”

She gave him a sad smile. “It’s kind of funny. Most people are afraid of me. I thought you were at first.”

“I was,” he stood, practically towering over her. “I kind of still am. But we want the same thing now, right? You’re not gonna let him go in there alone?”

Mona nodded once. “I was considering it. If he wants to die this way, it’s up to him.”

“No,” Jack whispered, thinking of his brothers and the unspoken vow to always back each other up and how close it had come to all falling apart after Evelyn’s death. “No way, I won’t let him make that choice.”

Mona seemed to be studying him. A long minute passed before she smiled a little. “You’re going to need a weapon.”

X

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jan. 7th, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah Bobby never had a death wish and the only thing that would make him want to hit Jack is if Jack was hurting himself. Atta boy Jack though for manning up to help save Max. Then get thee back to Bobby boy
veiledndarkness
Jan. 11th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
Lol, after all this, I can't imagine Jack would want to stay in New York. Poor boy...
aliceinked
Jan. 8th, 2012 06:32 am (UTC)
Gah! More please! Hanging on edge here! Hope Cracker Jack kicks some ass! XD
veiledndarkness
Jan. 11th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
Oh, he will, lol. And more is up now :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )