?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Chasing Ghosts

Title: Chasing Ghosts 16/17

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
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15



X

It took being trapped in a hospital for several days for Jack to truly appreciate just how good a cup of coffee could really be. What the hospital served should never have been placed under the same label as coffee, he reflected as he held his mug possessively close.

With deep satisfaction, Jack blew on the steaming hot liquid before taking a sip. His eyes nearly closed. Perfect. Nothing could spoil that heavenly moment, nothing but the sound of someone sitting down across from him and the sound of a throat clearing pointedly.

Reluctantly, Jack opened his eyes all the way. Mona sat before him, dressed in her usual severe, all black wardrobe. Jack let some of the tension slip out of his spine as he nodded at her, sneaking another sip before placing the mug down on the table. She looked tired, Jack noted, but still dangerous.

“Hey…”

Mona cocked her head to the side in that way she had of studying someone intently.

“You’re still in one piece, I see.”

Jack quirked a grin at her and shrugged. “Mostly,” he said. “They patched me up good.”

She tapped her fingernails on the tabletop, the dark polish gleaming under the fluorescent lights. “I’m sure you can understand why I didn’t go to the hospital.”

“Yeah, I know. I didn’t actually expect you to show.”

Mona smiled but the smile was a thin one. “What with Bravura’s investigations, it’s best I stay out of his radar. He brought in the FBI to prove a point. Even if B.B. had lived, he’d of spent the rest of his life in prison.”

“That miserable prick,” Jack muttered. He gripped his coffee cup tightly. “I hope he’s burnin’ in hell.”

“He’s burning somewhere,” she agreed.

A silence hung between them, an unspoken silence full of unasked questions.

“He’s doing better now,” Jack ran his finger along the handle of the mug. “They’re releasing him tomorrow or so the doctor claims.”

“Already…?”

“Let’s just say B.B.’s almost as poor a shot than me,” Jack gave her a fake smile. “He hit Max in the shoulder twice. I’m guessin’ he was trying to disarm him. The one in his side was the worst, but he’ll be alright. The bullet didn’t hit anything vital, so it looks like Max has one hell of a guardian angel on his back.”

Mona shook her head slowly. “He’s very lucky.”

“Yeah…” Jack took a large gulp of coffee, wincing as it burned the roof of his mouth. “Luck has nothing to do with it. He’s uh…not really up for talking about everything that happened…”

“I can’t say that surprises me.”

“Yeah, me either.” Jack and Mona exchanged somewhat bemused smiles. “He’s one stubborn son of a bitch, but he clams up like nothing else.”

Mona tapped her fingernails, one by one. It felt like they were dancing around a few topics and Jack didn’t want to be the first to say it. He made a show out of drinking the last of his coffee and put the mug off to the side, watching the other people in the diner go about their mundane lives.

“I take it you’ve been to see him since they discharged you?” she finally asked.

Jack knew what she was really asking and it irritated him. “Of course,” he said defensively. “Why wouldn’t I?”

She gave a casual shrug with one shoulder, managing to still look aloof and dangerously beautiful while doing so. Jack gritted his teeth and remembered the simple fact that she had chosen to help them, when really, anyone else would have hightailed it the fuck out of there.

He knew he couldn’t explain this…whatever that he had with Max, and certainly not with someone of the likes of Mona Sax, Russian Assassin, extraordinaire. He wasn’t even sure what he had, other than Max’s intense interest. Being with a man like Max could be disarming, at best.

Jack tried to unclench the muscles that had tensed in his back. His side was tender still and he felt tremors every now and again, a lingering effect of the Valkyr drug, an effect that the doctors felt certain would trail off soon enough. Tensing wouldn’t help him one bit.

“I care about him, Mona. This wasn’t some…some thing where I was using him.”

She studied him all the more intently and Jack clammed up. “I see.”

Several minutes passed before Mona sighed. “Anyone can see he’s very…focused on you.”

And God, that made Jack uncomfortable. He hated the truth, but there it was. Max wasn’t Bobby and that hurt. Had he been using Max for a substitute? Jack held the truth and felt sorrow over it. He knew that one truth deep down; he wasn’t in love with Max, that he couldn’t love him the same.

He blinked back the tears that wanted to rise. “He can be very intense,” he murmured.

Mona regarded Jack with much sadness and understanding. “Are you staying in New York?”

Jack smiled sadly and shook his head. “Maybe…”

X

If anything, Jack was amused by how grumpy Max was while stuck in the hospital. Not that he had expected anything less. Max was not a patient man when it came to dealing with nurses, doctors and bed rest. As far as he was concerned, they were the enemies.

Jack walked in to find Max sitting by the window in a wheelchair, his forehead furrowed, clearly deeply in thought. He put his bag and guitar case off to the side and walked up behind Max, approaching him carefully.

“It stopped snowing.”

“Yeah, I noticed,” Jack sat on the ledge of the window and looked outside, the sun shining high above the hospital building. “I nearly got hit by more than a few shovels on the way here.”

Max’s lips curved up a bit, a hint of a smile there. “Dangerous weapons, those.”

“Mhm,” he murmured. He leaned against the cool window pane, looking Max over. He looked exhausted but at least his color was starting to come back. There were more lines engraved in his forehead, worry lines that wouldn’t ease back when he was calm. Max seemed to have aged a bit since the first time Jack had caught him staring in the diner.

“The doctor came by earlier,” Max said, avoiding Jack’s gaze studiously, his eyes intent on watching the world outside. “He’s gonna be sending me home tomorrow for sure.”

“Great, that’s awesome,” Jack gave him a wide smile. He took one of Max’s hands in his own, rubbing his knuckles. “Soon you’ll be back at home, scarin’ kids away with that scowl.”

Max snorted quietly. “And then some. How’re you feeling?”

He looked up at Jack finally and Jack winced inwardly. There was something there, a bleakness that made him hurt all the more. Jack swallowed, his throat parched. “Uh, fine,” he said. “I’m fine. Still stiff an’ all that, but I’m ok.”

Max’s fingers trembled in Jack’s, a quiver that was barely there before it was gone. Max sighed, long and slow, before he nodded, dropping his gaze once more. “Good,” he whispered. “That’s good.”

“That Bravura guy, he got the charges cleared, Mona was telling me,” Jack tried. “The FBI was in on the investigation and for once, that’s a good thing.”

Max nodded silently. He rubbed his thumb over Jack’s knuckles. “More than I hoped for, to be honest.”

Jack rubbed back, grasping Max’s hand and feeling the strength in his fingers, the roughness of his palm. He sighed to himself, thinking of what Mona had asked him. “Max…” he moistened his lips, shifting uncomfortably on the ledge.

“Do you remember what I said before I left you with Mona?” Max asked before Jack could finish his sentence.

Jack looked down at the tiled floor, his hair falling forward a bit. “Yeah, yeah I do.”

“I meant it.”

Jack hated the tears that welled up, hated how easily his emotions gave him away. He blinked slowly, trying to will the tears away. He tried to say something, anything, but the words didn’t come.

“You need to go home, Jack.” Max gripped his hand tighter. “I mean it. I know it’s hurtin’ you, but I don’t want to be the reason that you don’t go back.”

“This Bobby of yours,” Max’s voice went on, digging painful but necessary gouges. “I can’t be him, I’m not what you want, and you know that.”

Jack closed his eyes, feeling his throat tighten as the words hit home. “I don’t want you to be him,” he protested, feeling the burn of the lie even as he spoke it and when he chanced a look at Max’s face, he knew that Max wasn’t fooled.

Max sat forward in his wheelchair, his eyes on Jack’s, those dark eyes that he could almost imagine were Bobby’s reading every emotion that betrayed him. “Maybe not on purpose, but deep down, you know the truth. You’re not stupid, Jack, and I know you’re hurting.”

“If…if things had been different,” Jack moved down, closer to Max to keep him from straining too far. He couldn’t finish that, his heart beating far too hard and he thought maybe Max could hear it somehow.

“I know,” Max whispered roughly. “I just want you to know somethin’. I haven’t felt anything like I do with you since before M-…” he paused, steeling himself, “Since before Michelle died. I didn’t want to love anyone; I didn’t want to like anyone. But you…you were…just there one day, sitting there in that diner, looking like you were lost an’ running from someone.”

A tear slipped out and as it rolled down his cheek, Jack felt something give inside him. This hurt worse than he ever thought it would. Almost as much as the day he’d left.

Max reached his hand up, smoothing the tear away with a gentleness that took Jack’s breath away and for that brief second, he could see the man Max had once been, three years previously. His face was still grave but Jack could see affection, deep affection in his eyes.

“I didn’t think about it, I let my instincts bring me to you. And I don’t regret it,” Max cupped Jack’s cheek, holding him close. “I’ll never regret it. The only thing I regret is getting you involved with all this…”

Jack leaned into the touch of Max’s palm on his face, craving the affection that came with it. “I’m not sorry I went with you. And I don’t regret you at all,” he smiled slowly and closed the distance between them, kissing Max as gently as he could manage, feeling his heart ache nonetheless.

Max let his eyes drift shut and went with the kiss, feeling the dampness of Jack’s cheeks and the sting in his own eyes, kissing him and knowing that this would be the last time. Jack sighed into the kiss, ignoring the pangs of hurt.

When their lips drifted apart, Jack wrapped his arms around Max, hugging him carefully to avoid his bandaged body. He wanted to tell Max that he’d remember him, and that he’d never forget, that maybe he could have loved him, if his love and need for Bobby didn’t run so deep.

Instead, he said nothing, holding all the words back behind his lips. Max shifted back, easing out of the hug. “Go back to him,” he murmured.

“I think I’m ready to go home,” Jack said in a whisper soft voice, his hands shaking.

Max looked up at him once more and a slow, true smile emerged on his lips. “Be safe, Jack.”

Jack nodded and stood, feeling his feet carry him to the side where he’d left his belongings. “Bye Max,” he said even as he lifted his guitar case and bag, feeling his chest hitch at the thought of leaving.

Max’s smile didn’t fade, though it seemed to dim a little. “Bye, Jack…”

He inhaled a deep breath and turned, leaving the hospital room and Max Payne behind.

X

Jack made it as far as the bus station before he sat down on a bench and held his head in his hands, grieving for the feelings he had for Max as much as for his fears of going home again. And if he was wrong, what then? What if Bobby had no use for him in his life?

He sighed and sat back, stuffing his hands in his jacket. He pulled out the key to Max’s apartment and laughed, tears anew in his eyes. A souvenir then, he thought, besides his new scars. He tucked the key back into his deepest pocket to keep it safe.

Jack rifled through his duffle bag, having packed in a hurry. He pushed past his clothes, checking that his mother’s rosary was still in its place. A flap of paper gave him a pause and he frowned, looking down at the folded over piece of paper. He lifted it out from under one of his sweaters, surprise sending his eyebrows skyward at the realization that it was an envelope.

His name was printed neatly across the middle, as neatly as the boxes in the storage container had been. Jack caught his breath and opened it, his fingers shaking ever so slightly. Inside the flap was a small wad of bills, held in place by a large paper clip.

A barely muted gasp of shock escaped him. Jack darted cautious eyes around him, ensuring he was alone before he counted the bills, unable to believe what he was seeing. He tucked the money back in quickly and pulled the note out that was folded under the money.

…In case you needed this…

He laughed a bit, recognizing Max’s writing. Jack shook his head, smiling at nothing in particular. He folded everything back down and tucked some of the money deep into his pocket before going to buy a bus ticket from the surly lady behind the Plexiglas window.

Bus ticket securely in his coat, Jack eyed the rows of phone booths. He plucked out some change from his purchase and made his way to the first phone booth in the row. He dropped the money in and hesitated, his fingers hovering over the buttons. Jack pushed down, dialling the phone number that he couldn’t ever forget.

The phone rang on and on and Jack felt a bead of sweat gather along his hairline. At the fifth ring, right as he was about to hang up, he heard the phone click on the other end. His stomach flopped, twisted and dropped abruptly when he heard the other line connect through.

“Hello?”

“Bobby…” Jack exhaled his name, a rush of everything all at once hitting him. “I-It’s me.”

X


Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jan. 15th, 2012 03:04 am (UTC)
I've loved watching the adventure of Jack with Max Payne. And I love that that adventure has brought him back to Bobby. Awesome!
veiledndarkness
Jan. 15th, 2012 08:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks :) The next chapter is the reunion of Bobby and Jack and I hope you enjoy that one too.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )