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Realistic or Modern Empire City: The Irish Mob - IC (Closed)

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  1. Mystery
  2. Realistic
  3. Romance
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Enzyme

The All-Powerful Enzyme!
Forever and Always Jackson McCarthy

With his head rested in Syd's arm, Jackson looked up to him with an angelic stare, as if all the pain had subsided and left him fatigued, yet tranquil. After the panic receded within Syd, and he seemingly accepted the inevitable; it was as if a breath of fresh air and settled between them. "My boy.... My boy..." Jackson drew out, his brittle lips slowly parted as the words ambled out like a gust of wind. "Look at you." Through his fading orbs, he managed a faint, weak smile. "Look at the man you've become." Even with his lids half-closed, the admiration his in stare resembled that of a proud lion, perched upon his kingdom's rock. "A warrior, a lord." Jackson's hand squeezed Syd's back in a faint pulse. "You will become... Unstoppable."

"Take care of them, like I know you will."
Jackson trailed, as his fading mind went to his family, causing his restful eyes to run glassy at their image. "Natasha will need you more than -" he paused as the blood in his throat had collected into a pool around his uvula, forcing him to painfully swallow what he could, "anyone."

"And Blake..."
He paused once more, although this time it was at the emotion that struck his still-beating heart. "My queen... My beautiful queen... Don't let her ... Fall," he was stifled once more by a sharp pain in his chest, that violently shook him like a live wire.

This seemed to be it, as he melted in Syd's arms, the life in his face slowly fading away. "I always..." He started, his voice far weaker under the stone of a whisper. "I always thought of you-" he drew out once more, his eyes slowly closing shut. "As my so-"

Jackson's body seized up, his eyes falling lifeless. His once rocky hands fell limp against the ground as Syd held the entirety of his weight. With no beating heart or rising chest, he laid still, the soaking maroon in his torso starkly contrasting his paper-pale skin. Jackson was finally at peace.

Pyroclast Pyroclast (Jackson)
 

Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Conor Sullivan and Adam Harper

The three men charged back down the corridor, with Adam leading the way so he would bare the brunt of any attacks before his boss did. When they reached the double doors that led to the security checkpoint, Adam aimed his machine gun ready to fire before kicking one of the doors open. Amongst the lingering tear gas were lifeless bodies sprawled out across the floor. Some of them belonging to his own teammates, ones who are died at his side the moment the shooting had first started. He signalled right for Perry to check there were no attackers or even survivors of their own side along the 38.1ft corridor. Conor meanwhile checked left, looking towards the security checkpoint where the Sullivans had first entered the area from before being ambushed. Adam kept focused as he approached the set of double doors leading to the employee corridor.

Adam stepped over bloodied bodies belonging to soldiers from both sides of the battle. He pushed open the equipment room door but no sooner had he established the room was empty did he hear sounds coming from further door the corridor. Gripping his firearm, he moved along the corridor before setting his sights on Syd who was knelt on the floor at Jackson's side. The younger man was cradling Jackson's head in his arms. Adam naturally lowered his weapon as he approached Syd and crouched down alongside him. Although Adam still wore his mask - both the literal and the metaphorical kind - it was easy to sense the despondency in the usually confident soldier. He didn't need to check for a pulse to know Jackson was dead. It was etched clearly on the lifeless man's pale face and reflecting fiercely in Syd's anguished eyes. Already forcing himself to maintain his typical stony, professional demeanour since finding Rebel, Adam had to work in overtime to maintain a level head now. With Syd, and no doubt soon Conor, emotionally affected, he knew it might fall onto his shoulders to get the few Sullivan survivors out of the train station and away from the cops. "Syd..." Adam began, placing a firm hand on the distressed man's shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze. Before he could get any more words out, he became fully aware of the hard to miss man standing over them. He turned his head to look upwards to Conor, seeing his boss' eyes fixed solely on the motionless face of his fallen best friend.

af9943f5b1f57c4aa5223b6b141eba7c.gifConor had rushed down the corridor when he saw Syd, but his steps quickly slowed to a halt when he realised his nephew was crying over Jackson's body. Conor had carefully removed the mask from his face to give him a clearer view, but that only showed with more clarity that his friend was no longer breathing. Conor's eyes focused down to the man's blood-soaked body, able to see where the bullets had ripped into him and killed him. Yet, despite the proof before his eyes and the severity of losing not only a best friend, but his closest one, his brother, Conor's features remained eerily calm. "I... we... I should..." he began, his voice faltering on every stuttered word. "I'll check no more of our men are in there," he said, his voice losing all conviction as he walked past the others and towards the manager's office.

Adam tightened his jaw and dragged off his own mask before taking a deep, exasperated breath. With Perry keeping watch and ready to alert the others of unwanted company, Adam got up to his feet and rushed after Conor. "No. I'll check the rooms and keep us covered." Seeing the desperate denial on his boss' face as the man fought in vain to suppress his devastation, Adam knew he had to be direct. He was feeling the emotional weight of seeing Rebel and Jackson dead, but he also knew they didn't have much time left if they were going to get away from the train station in anything other than a cop car. "Conor. He's dead," Adam said, his voice gentle yet assertive. "There's no time to convince yourself otherwise. Go to him," he firmly implored.

Conor briefly paced a small spot on the step before leaning back against the wall and in his hand tightly gripping a clump of his own hair at the back of his head. "No. No," he said, letting go of his hair before frantically shaking his head. Pushing himself away from the wall he suddenly lunged forward and gripped the collar of Adam's jacket, slamming his employee's back against the wall. "Shut your fucking mouth," he furiously growled into the man's face. Although his heart was racing in his chest at the threat of having his head caved in by the bigger man, Adam managed to keep his cool and maintain composure as he stared back at Conor. His eyes urging him to back off. "Shut your..." Conor gasped for air as he was rendered breathless. "He can't be," he desperately pleaded. As a wave of emotion overcame him, so did his senses. Conor quickly let go of Adam and sheepishly patted the top of the man's arm before backing away.

Screenshot 2020-12-11 141301.pngConor returned to where his best friend's body remained lifeless on the bloodied floor, with Syd still down at his side. The man felt a tight knot in his chest as he lowered himself down to kneel at his nephew's side. He reached out to grip Jackson's hand, the lack of returned grasp or any kind of movement on the other man's part only serving to bring the reality of the situation to Conor. His friend had been there for most of his life. Even when separated by an ocean, they'd had each others' back. Now one of the few people who could always reassure and instil confidence in Conor was laying dead before him. Conor hadn't been able to have his friend's back this time and there was no way to put it right. Having already lost loved ones in the space of only a few months, he wasn't sure if he could take yet another loss. "Not you, Jackson. No. Stop pissing about, mate. Please..." he pleaded and squeezed the man's hand harder, even though every part of him knew it was far too late. His body shook as he could no longer hold back the sobs that caught up with him. As quickly as his eyes overflowed with tears, he ran his sleeve over his face to rub them away. Having for a time forgotten to breathe, he quickly gasped for air which then opened him up to cry more audibly. As he did he placed a firm arm around his nephew's shoulder. "Syd..." he choked out. He knew he needed to be stronger for his nephew's sake, but in the moment, everything was too raw for him to try.

Adam had been glad that Conor came to his senses before things had to get messy. Once his boss had backed off and moved to Syd's side, Adam finished checking the corridor was clear before he returned to the security checkpoint, briefly glancing to the other men as he passed them. When he spotted Perry, the man made it clear they needed to make a start at getting out before it was too late. Adam turned on his heels and once again stepped through the double doors. He briefly stopped to take a deep breath and compose himself. This was meant to be easier than it was, but things had been more complicated for a while now. There was a time when he was nothing more than a soldier and there were no personal attachments to his colleagues or employers. But these days, he'd grown to care about the families he worked for. His friendship with Peter leading him to see he wasn't just protecting powerful mobsters, but he was providing their families and children with security. He'd even grown to form friendships beyond simple co-worker levels, with Chase in particular. Whilst he couldn't reject his close attachments, they were making the present task much harder to complete. He took another deep breath, forcing back his own emotions for the sake of preventing any of them getting dragged away in handcuffs. "Guys. I'm sorry but..." he began, crouching down to retrieve his respirator from the floor. He cleared his throat and continued speaking with strength and assertiveness in his voice. "We have to get out of here. We have to do it now."

Pyroclast Pyroclast Enzyme Enzyme
 
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Pyroclast

Add alcohol and stir!
Syd Porter

ezgif.com-gif-maker (15).gifIf there existed an ideal death, Syd had always thought a quick exit was preferable over a slow one as it left no time for suffering or fear. But as Jackson lay bleeding in his arms, Syd’s perspective changed. Jackson wasn’t suffering - he was making the most of the moments he had left to say goodbye. It wasn’t fair that he had to die at all, but at least he had the time to reflect on the people he loved before he went. Most importantly, he didn’t have to die alone, which is more than could be said for most mobsters. Later on, Syd would realise all of this and be grateful to have been there for his Godfather in his final moments. Now, however, all he could think of was how he wasn’t ready to let him go.

The way Jackson was able to overlook his own pain and speak to Syd with such affection made his heart surge and he choked back another sob, gripping even tighter onto Jackson’s hand. Weakened by an overwhelming mix of survivor’s guilt, fear and grief, he didn’t feel much like a man in that moment - not the kind of man he thought he was supposed to be, anyway. He certainly didn’t feel like a warrior or a lord. Still, it didn’t matter what he thought. His memory may have been compromised by his treatment but the memories he had with Jackson were all strong enough for him to hold onto, right down to the last word. His Godfather’s wisdom had a tendency to make sense later on.

Syd blinked hard to clear the tears from his eyes, not wanting to waste a single opportunity to look into Jackson’s while they still had life in them. “I will, I promise,” he nodded, drawing a shuddering breath. It was getting harder to hold himself together, especially hearing him speak of Natasha and Blake. Syd could see the pain return to his Godfather’s eyes as he thought of them, too. “Don’t worry, Jackson, I’ll make sure they’re okay. I promise they’ll never be alone.” Hands trembling, Syd unconsciously ran his fingers through the man’s hair. “Don’t you worry.”

It was becoming more difficult for Jackson to speak by the second, and some of the peace he exuded was suddenly tainted by a visible surge of pain. Syd tightened his jaw as his tearful eyes remained fixed on his Godfather’s, holding his breath as he listened to him speak his final words. That closeness, that father-son bond that they shared, was something that not even death could defeat. “Jackson…” he whispered, but Jackson’s eyes drifted shut, his body falling heavy and limp - and Syd felt his heart tear into pieces.

ezgif.com-gif-maker (7).gif Now with no reason to hold himself together, he let his remaining strength fall away and he curled over Jackson’s body, burying his face in the man’s chest as he wept freely. He had done his best to grant the man a peaceful exit, leave him with no responsibility or reasons to worry, but the second he was gone, all of that effort was overridden by a desperate pain, an impossible wish for him to come back. Perhaps Jackson was right, that Syd was strong and unstoppable, but in that moment the world might as well have ended. He didn’t feel ready to be without him, without his comforting, confident presence. It was situations like this when Jackson would pull him up onto his feet and remind him that there was hope. Yet, as he knelt there, alone and in darkness, any hope seemed well beyond his reach. His choked-up cries evolved into howls that echoed through the station and he wrapped his arms around Jackson, rocking him back and forth as though he could never let him go.

Having lost all awareness of his surroundings, the feeling of a hand on his shoulder caught him off guard. While he would normally tense up or panic at any sort of touch whilst in distress, this time he was too weak to give any kind of response at all. If anything, it was a comforting reminder that he wasn’t as alone as he felt. Still gripped by the tragedy of Jackson’s sacrificial death, Syd didn’t notice Adam leave his side nor Conor take his place a moment later. If his head had been clearer, he would have been relieved to see that the two had survived the fight, but Syd could barely process anything that had happened in the lead up to Jackson’s death and so couldn’t fully appreciate what his friend and uncle must have been through to still be here. It was Conor’s presence that pained him the most, having to watch his uncle mourn his best friend. The man didn’t even know that Jackson had died saving Syd’s life and he was almost afraid that he would be resented for it. People were always telling him not to blame himself when tragedy struck, but he couldn’t help but keep finding reasons to. If he had only been watching Jackson’s back like he had promised...

It was only when he felt the familiar embrace of Conor’s arm around his shoulder that he loosened his hold on Jackson and leaned instead into his uncle, wrapping an arm around him in return. “I’m s-sorry,” he choked, his heavy sobs cutting each breath into strained gasps of air. Now that he had let his guard down, he couldn’t seem to build it back up. Syd had had countless breakdowns like this before, but by this stage he had normally surrendered to the idea of getting back on his feet. When that’s exactly what Adam suggested, Syd reclaimed possession of his Godfather’s body and shook his head. “No,” he stubbornly objected, as more sobs ripped from his chest. “I’m not leaving him!”

Interactions
Misty Gray Misty Gray Conor, Adam, Perry
Enzyme Enzyme Jackson
 

Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Jasmine Carpenter

tumblr_1904e7c270a3e62d4cf39efdc53f30ba_a47e0095_400.gifEven the ever-developing relationship between Jasmine and Chase wasn't enough to prevent the car journey from being silent. The two were having similar thoughts, fully aware that their friends and colleagues could had already been at the train station too long to be saved from Moretti's planned ambush. Whilst there was always some chance the Sullivans might have escaped or realised it was a trap before any harm was done, the realist in Jasmine could only look towards the worse case scenarios. Not only was her boss on the job, but friends were too. It didn't matter how confident some of them were, nobody was immune to being defeated or killed. She couldn't help but resent the still healing stab wound in her leg, believing had she not been injured a few days earlier she would have been assigned to the train station job, perhaps in the place of a teammate with a family and children who needed them at home. Jasmine felt expandable in comparison, yet she'd been sat back playing cards and having a good time with Chase.

As they got closer to the station, it was hard to ignore the chorus of police sirens ringing out in the distance. There was no doubt the cops were heading to the same destination. She nodded in frustration as Chase pointed out plan A was now out of the window. "Driving by sounds like a good idea," she agreed with Chase. She sat up straight and observed the city out of the car windows with focused determination. The pair noticed the crowd rushing down a nearby alleyway, clearly fleeing the kind of scene Jasmine expected from the train station. She quickly shook her head at Chase's question. "Not that many, no. Our lot must have been seriously outnumbered," she gravely admitted.

Their attention was then drawn to the escape route the group had taken; a route the cops possibly weren't all over as yet. She turned to meet Chase's gaze, her own eyes showing there was no doubt in her mind about what she wanted to do. "It's a risk, but I know I want to head in. If even one of our team needs our help, then I'm willing to take that risk. If I find out later I could have helped someone, that would be worse than the other alternatives. I like to believe they'd do the same for us..." she said, trying to see if Chase felt the same.

Pyroclast Pyroclast
 

Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Gabriel and Valentina Moretti

As her father reeled off his orders to his trusted employee, Valentina remained seated on the couch beside Teddy. She tried to listen in to Gabriel's words as she refilled the glass tumbler with her father's brandy, but wasn't able to make out much of what he was saying. When he dismissed the man, Valentina knocked back the strong alcohol before sitting up straight as she expected Gabriel to update her on the situation. Instead, the man had stopped at Elvian's side to address her. Valentina was able to hear his words. "East Harlem were always going to be a concern once the war with the Irish was over. I suspected they would eventually want more power for themselves. But this has forced my hand into acting now. It appears those freaks need eradicating ahead of schedule."

Realising she was being cut out of the conversation, Valentina placed the glass down on the coffee table and turned to Teddy to send him a glance. Clearing her throat, she stood up and approached her parents, making a conscious effort to keep her voice clear and assertive. "Okay, so you're going to deal with East Harlem. You're going to get Steve. What's the plan? " she firmly asked.

"The plan is for you and your mother to go home, where it's safe. I have a lot of business to attend to so I'll be staying here tonight," Gabriel informed her.

Valentina's face fell flat at her father's words and she quickly shook her head in disapproval. "Wait, so you want to send me off home whilst you deal with Steve? That's not what I want! I want to be there to watch that bastard suffer. I want to see that disgusting animal's death with my own eyes!" As her words became more intense, her face burned up and reddened. Seeing Gabriel shake his head increased her frustration, evident as she pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a deep sigh. "You don't understand what this feels like. You don't understand the desperate need I have to see justice being served to..." she began, falling silent as she realised her poor choice of words. "I can handle it. It might make me feel better seeing him in pain."

"Really? I don't understand?" Gabriel trailed off. Realising his daughter had caught on to her error, he decided not to press the issue - the fact he'd spent years wishing to do exactly that. To watch James Porter and the Irish mob suffer for murdering most of his family. He knew that desperate desire, but he also knew his daughter wasn't as ready as she believed herself to be. "We will not argue about this, Valentina. Under no circumstances will I let you be present when Steve gets what is owed to him. Not because I don't think you stomach watching the man suffer in all kinds of ways, but because I know more about Steve than you do. The man is sick and twisted. He will get in your head and he will make you relive all of that suffering again," he said pointing to his forehead as he spoke, to indicate the psychological trauma she was suffering. Whilst he would rather Valentina stayed out of the messy side of business, he would have preferred not to be a hypocrite, to let her do the same jobs he allowed Tatiana and Marcus to do. But the fact was, neither of his eldest had been personally hurt in the way Valentina had been and neither of them were still recovering from such an attack.

"What else can that fucked up bastard do to me now?!" Valentina growled at her father. Despite her reaction, she knew deep down her was right. Although she believed she wanted nothing more than to watch Steve die in the most horrific way, she knew simply being in his presence could trigger her anxiety as it had done only a short time ago. She was aware of how the twisted the man was.

Gabriel allowed his features to soften but his stance remained the same. "Go home, Valentina. You know you can trust me and I will make sure that freak dies. He won't be able to hurt anyone else." Gabriel reached out to Elvian's shoulder, looking to his wife before placing a kiss on her cheek. "Have one of my drivers take you and Valentina home. We'll speak again tomorrow," he told her. He then turned to Teddy, waiting to see if the man had any parting words for Valentina before he addressed the man. "Theodore, you will remain here. We have much to discuss once the others arrive," he told him.

Mentions: Melanin-Gxdess Melanin-Gxdess (Elvian, Teddy) RayPurchase RayPurchase (Marcus)
[You don't have to reply, but this chapter still has ground to cover elsewhere before the next chapter can start. So if you still want to post, here we are...]
 

Enzyme

The All-Powerful Enzyme!
The Third Party

Suddenly, a loud rumble rocked the building, as the boarded-up walls violently shook, nearly popping the nails onto the floor. "Again!" A man shouted. The battering ram slammed against the door once more, nearly tearing the metal off of its hinges. The sound of a door being broken open echoed throughout the train station, as the now audible sirens blared down the hall. A bright flashlight beamed through the front door, obscured by the heavy gas that still lingered in the security checkpoint. "Police! Police" The first man shouted, as heavily armed men in S.W.A.T apparel swept into the entrance.

The scenery was dim, having only their high-beamed flashlights and the headlights from the SWAT vans behind them for illumination. Even then it only cast their exaggerated shadows against the decrypted walls, like the silhouettes of a puppeteer. Despite having their respirators on, the smell of wet pennies was so thick, that it wafted through their filters. "Jesus fuckin' christ..." The S.W.A.T member taking lead drew out to the men behind him. His flashlight revealed the absolute blood bath that was the train station. The beam trailed from the blood coated glass down to the numerous bodies that littered the entrance.

The place resembled more of a slasher film, then a gang-related shootout. With blood and gore smeared against the walls, it looked as if someone had tried to repaint the room with their entrails. "What the fuck happened here, Serg...?" The man behind asked, nervously pinning his rifle to his shoulder as if one of the bodies was going to spring to life. "I haven't seen nothin' like this since Bakersfield..." Another officer chimed in, pushing past the rafter into the security checkpoint.

The rattling of a door threw the direction of their firearms towards the civilian corridor. Their flashlights combined into one giant, super beam, that evaporated every shadow the corridor attempted to hide. "Police! Step out now, and we won't open fire!" The Sergeant ordered.

As if on cue, a small rat scurried out of the tin it had smacked against, before squirming through a cracked hole in the floor. There was a sense of relief among the officers, as their aim dropped to their hips. "Think they're all dead?" One of the officers asked, looking back to the corpses by his feet. "Sure fuckin' looks like it," another officer responded.

"Even so, we're clearing this place," the Sergeant confirmed. "Keep your heads on a swivel, they could be lurking about anywhere." With that, the search commenced.

Misty Gray Misty Gray (Conor/Adam) Pyroclast Pyroclast (Syd)
 
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Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Conor Sullivan and Adam Harper

Surprisingly, as he continued to have Syd present by his side it brought something of an inner-strength back to Conor. Perhaps it was seeing his nephew so upset that brought his protective side into gear, but believing someone was relying on him helped to stop Conor from shutting down into a complete sobbing wreck. It was on his shoulders to look after Syd and he knew those back at the house would expect him to do that. With his arm already around Syd's shoulder, Conor pulled the younger man in closer, showing him he wasn't alone in what felt like such an hopeless situation. He once again rested his eyes on Jackson's lifeless face. No longer were the man's features so animated. The grin that Conor was so used to seeing before they did something crazy was nowhere to be seen. Although there was no doubt the face belonged to Jackson, it was hard to accept it was the same man now. If only it was a bad dream or some elaborate practical joke...

Adam's words had caused Syd to break away from Conor's hold so he could reclaim possession of Jackson's body. When Syd said he wasn't leaving his Godfather, Conor looked up to Adam and shook his head. "You heard him. We're not fucking moving," he supported his nephew's stance.

Adam gripped the handle of his gun tighter and let out an audible sigh behind his respirator. Of course it was a hugely sensitive situation, but Adam still had to consciously command himself to approach it in such a manner rather than denying any of their emotions. "A few more minutes and the pigs will be dragging you away," Adam firmly explained to them. It was clear the two men weren't willing to leave Jackson on the corridor and despite his detached nature, he could still fully understand that need. "If you're not going to leave him then you're both going to have to carry him with you, because one way or another, we're all getting the fuck out of here. Right now!" he raised his voice to forcefully command Conor and Syd, throwing aside any regard for them being his superiors. "Perry and I will cover you all the way," he explained. He determined they wouldn't be much use at navigating and shooting given their mental states. Besides, he couldn't deny Conor was the strongest man left standing so carrying Jackson literally fell onto his shoulders.

"Fuck..." Conor muttered. It felt wrong to move Jackson, but he also knew they couldn't stay where they were nor could they leave him behind. "Come on, Syd," he gently told him, creating some space between his nephew and Jackson. Conor leaned in so he could wrap his arms around Jackson's upper body and pull the man in close. With no concern for the blood being pressed against him from Jackson's fatal wounds, Conor stood up with the lifeless body firmly in his hold, Adam stepped forward to assist before motioning for Syd to step in to support Conor with carrying Jackson.

Adam led the way back towards the security checkpoint, going on ahead of the others so he could instruct Perry to lead the way while he would cover the men from behind. Perry headed through the double-doors that led to the to the public corridor - their only means of escape from the cops. Holding the doors open for Conor and Syd to carry Jackson's body through, Adam urged them to try quicken the pace. That's when the loud rumble shook the building as the cops started breaking their way in. "Go. Quick!" Adam gruffly ordered the two. "Follow Perry!" Once they were all onto the public corridor, a second loud rumble was heard. Giving the others a head start, Adam intentionally trailed behind, ready to open fire on the cops if it meant buying the others more time to reach the manhole.

Conor had quickened his pace with Syd, taking more of Jackson's weight on his own shoulders given the fact he was physically stronger than his nephew. Covered in blood and carrying his dead best friend through the corridor, it would be easy to give up. However, he knew they had to keep moving so they could get back to their family. So Jackson could find his way home. Having seen the Morettis escape down the manhole, Perry was able to lead Conor and Syd directly to the escape route. However, he stopped there and turned to seek out Adam, wondering how far behind the man was and if they should wait.

Adam hadn't needed to put himself between his comrades and the cops. Once he deemed the others had been given enough time, he sprinted down the rest of the corridor and outside towards the manhole. "Climb down," he told Perry and Conor. "Me and Syd will pass him down to you," he said, knowing the other two men would be able to physically take the weight. "Hurry up. The cops won't be far behind us." Once Jackson had been carefully passed down the manhole to Conor and Perry, Adam told Syd to climb down next. "You all go on ahead," he commanded. He dragged the manhole cover partway over the hole, leaving enough of a gap for himself still fit through. As he started descending the 8ft ladder, he stopped, gripping the rung of the iron ladder with the hand of his injured arm as he struggled with his free hand to drag the heavy lid over the rest of the hole, closing it up above his head.

Unsure of whether or not the cops had seen anything, Adam jumped down onto the sewer floor and rushed down the tunnel pathway. "Keep moving. Fast. I don't know if the pigs saw us," he called out as he rushed to catch up and help the carry Jackson. Meanwhile, Perry led the way with his flashlight lighting up the tunnel ahead of them.

Pyroclast Pyroclast Enzyme Enzyme
 

Pyroclast

Add alcohol and stir!
Syd Porter and Chase Zegarra

ezgif.com-gif-maker (7).gif Despite Adam’s attempts to usher the now-much-smaller group out of the station, Syd’s focus remained fixed on the heartbreaking sight in front of him. On the one hand, he couldn’t stand to see his Godfather without life in him, but on the other, he couldn’t look away, half-expecting to spot a sign that he wasn’t dead after all - if his eyelids fluttered, if his finger twitched, if his lips parted even a fraction. Some subtle indication that there was still a chance was all he wanted. He wasn’t going to listen to anyone who told him to give up and it infuriated him that Adam didn’t seem to understand. Of course, if Syd wasn’t so overwhelmed, he would have been able to think of a million reasons why the man was right, but even his mention of the cops went over his head. He was trapped in the pain of the present moment to the extent that he hadn’t even thought of his own children and so couldn’t imagine that the consequences of staying could possibly be worse.

Syd wouldn’t have moved at all if Conor hadn’t prised Jackson’s body from his arms. He was adamant on staying with his Godfather, however, so if he was to be moved out of the station, then Syd would have to move, too. Now was the time to step up and put his pain aside like he used to when he was younger, but having already let his emotions come to the surface, he found he no longer had the strength to push them back down again. He stopped fighting Adam’s instruction when the man gestured for him to help Conor carry Jackson. Once he was up and walking with Jackson’s arm hooked around his shoulder, he grew aware of just how unpleasant their surroundings were. The urgency to leave finally came to him, if not for the threat of being arrested but for a desperation to get out of his bloodsoaked coveralls.

* * * * *​

“You’re right,” Chase sighed, his gaze lingering on Jasmine. Of course she was right - Jasmine had a strong moral compass and he always felt he could trust that the decisions she made were made with a clear conscience. His only reason for hesitating was for the risk of the pair being arrested if they ran into cops in the sewers, as that would no doubt lead to them being separated for a long time. He knew what he had signed up for when he had chosen to pursue his feelings for her, just like he knew there were no limits to the occupational hazards that could hit them at any moment. Yet, when it came down to it, he found himself anticipating danger in ways he never had before. It was the price of having something to lose, he supposed. He just had to remind himself that if the day ever came when one of them didn’t make it home from a job, he could take comfort in the fact he hadn’t let his feelings for her go unknown.

With a dutiful nod, Chase glanced back over to the manhole in the alleyway. “Okay,” he said, one hand on the door handle as he did a last scan for police activity. “Let’s see what’s going on down there.”

Chase was first to climb down into the dark tunnel. He didn’t have the eyes of a detective, so as far as he could see there were no obvious signs that a large group of people had come storming through just a few minutes ago. It was strangely peaceful in contrast to the sleepless city above ground, the air as still as if nothing had happened. All that could be heard was the faint flow of water, the occasional drip echoing between the curved brick walls. “First time in a sewer?” he murmured to Jasmine, partly to test how far his voice would carry. “I didn’t expect it to be so quiet...Anything could happen down here and nobody would know.” He turned and smiled at her before following the wall in the general direction of the train station, all the while listening out for signs of activity.

Barely a minute had passed before Chase heard footsteps sloshing through the shallow water up ahead, where the tunnel curved and sank into the darkness between the light fittings. He stopped and glanced over at Jasmine, pressing himself against the wall with his gun raised. Along with the footsteps came the sound of distant voices, strained and irregular. Somebody in pain. Somebody crying? After hesitating for a second, Chase called out, “Boss, is that you? It’s Chase. We’re here to help you.” On the off chance that he was wrong and it wasn’t the Sullivans, he purposefully didn’t mention Conor’s or Jasmine’s name. But when instead of gunfire he heard an unmistakable sob ring out in response, Chase instantly broke into a run, and the light faded in to reveal Adam and Perry, with Syd, Jackson and Conor trailing along behind them.

The state of them gave him some idea of just how bad the attack had been. They had entered in a group of about 15, and now there were only five. “Oye,” he muttered when he had caught up to Adam, his own face reflecting the man’s grim expression. He wanted to ask him if he was okay but for now he had to focus on the facts. “There’s nobody else back there?” When he looked over to the three men behind him, he noticed that Jackson wasn’t holding his own weight at all. Conor’s face was set in a tense expression, an unmissable darkness in his eyes, and combined with the deep anguish in Syd’s cries, he didn’t need confirmation that the man they were carrying was dead.

“Syd,” he spoke, in a gentle yet assertive tone. The man was a mess, covered in blood from head to toe, his speed hindered by the grief pinching every nerve in his body. “You go, walk with Jasmine. Let me take him, come on.” He didn’t want to be insensitive in any way, but the most important thing to him was getting them away from the cops and he knew he had more strength in him than the younger Porter. At first Syd resisted, but he couldn’t keep it up for more than a few seconds and so Chase managed to take his place without too much fuss. After ushering Syd in Jasmine’s direction, Chase picked up the pace. “Are you injured, boss?” he asked, hoping Conor would be able to keep up. “We saw the exit where the enemy left and came down that way. It’s not too far from here, we’ll be out in a moment.”

It was a difficult task hoisting Jackson’s body up through the manhole. Chase went up first so he could help to pull him up while keeping an eye on the street ahead. In such a dense city it was practically impossible to find a spot totally hidden from potential witnesses, so speed was of the essence. “Don’t hurt him,” Syd tearfully reminded him from below. Syd trusted everyone in the remaining group, but it still pained him to watch his Godfather be manhandled in such a way when the man deserved nothing but peace and respect.

Once everyone was out, Chase briefly looked between them all. “Before we get on the road, does anybody need a medic? Syd, your nose -”

“Is fine,” Syd cut in through gritted teeth. “I’m going with Jackson. I have to take him home…”

Knowing that an argument would only draw attention to themselves, Chase didn’t press him, instead turning his attention towards Adam. He put a hand on the man's arm and drew him aside. “I think you want to come with me, asere,” he mumbled, trying to keep his voice down. “You know that girl in the safe house, Kerry? Well, she’s the reason we found out what happened here. She said that Moretti forced her to give information to Conor that would lead you all into a trap. She kept it to herself a long time, or we would have come sooner...”

Interactions
Misty Gray Misty Gray Conor, Adam, Jasmine, Perry
Enzyme Enzyme (mentioned)
 

Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Conor Sullivan and Adam Harper
Jasmine Carpenter

Screenshot 2020-12-20 022409.pngJasmine descended into the sewer after Chase. It was quiet and in her world, it was rare to find herself in such a seemingly peaceful place. Granted, she didn't exactly favour or rate the sewers as a pleasant place to take herself to relax. "Oh yeah. I can't say visiting the sewers has ever been on my bucket list," she remarked back to Chase's comment. Jasmine returned Chase's smile with a small one of her own. She couldn't help but think the location housed a place their enemies would likely use to hold and torture a captive. She supposed she was grateful Ethan had kept her held in the abandoned police station.

Upon hearing the sound of footsteps, Jasmine instinctively raised her gun ready to fire on cue. She practically held her breath as she awaited some kind of response to Chase calling out into the tunnel. The sound of crying was clear. It was followed by Adam and Perry stepping into view. Jasmine's relief at seeing the two men who soon overshadowed by the grim expressions on the men's faces, followed by Syd and Conor carrying Jackson's lifeless body. Jasmine momentarily covered her mouth with her free hand at the sight. Not only the dead teammate but also the grim expressions the other men carrier, as well as the obvious lack of numbers. Did only four of them survive the ambush?

Although it didn't show on his serious and grim expression, Adam was glad when he saw Chase and Jasmine approaching. Up until then, it had felt like he had a huge weight to carry on his shoulders and it was expected of him to remain completely controlled. Professional. The arrival of his two friends made it feel like some of the responsibility could be shared out. He could now breathe. When Chase asked if anyone was following, Adam gravely shook his head. "It's just us," he confirmed. "No other survivors," he added, making it clear the cops wouldn't have anyone to take in. He couldn't help but think of Rebel and how he'd had no choice but to leave her lifeless body slumped in the corridor.

Jasmine stepped forward when Chase told Syd to walk with her. As expected, the man resisted, but he soon allowed himself to be ushered towards her. "Come on, let's get some air," she said. She walked alongside him still ready to shoot if needed, whilst Perry walked in front of the two.

Conor was too distracted to show any kind of relief at the presence of Chase and Jasmine. As he helped carry his friend's body through the tunnel, it continued to sink in that even though he was holding Jackson, the man was never coming back. Not only had he lost a friend, but he couldn't help but think about the others back at Lucy's house. Blake and Natasha, who were not even aware that in that very moment, they had already lost a husband and a father respectively. Furthermore, he knew he'd have to be the one to break the news. He snapped out of his thoughts when Chase addressed him. "Injured?" he distantly asked. As if it wasn't his own body he was being asked about, Conor took a moment to look down at himself and then to his arms, assessing if there was any damage. He was too emotionally numb to register any physical pain if there was an injury. Of course, he was covered in Jackson's blood, but he soon realised that was the only person's blood on him. "No, I'm not hurt. Let's keep moving out of this hole," he said, feeling suffocated in the confined tunnel.

tumblr_p3wjbrG9CV1rjn473o7_500.gifOnce back above ground, Conor was relieved to breathe in the fresh air and not feel so trapped. He looked to Syd as the younger man protested he was fine. "Finn can take a lot at him back... home..." Conor trailed off. He quickly nodded as Syd said he had to take Jackson home. "We need to go back now. The Porters place, in Bayside," he commanded. Jasmine quickly nodded her head and pointed towards the vehicle she'd arrived in with Chase. She waited for Chase and Adam to speak before confirming she would drive Syd, Conor and Jackson back to the Porter mansion.

Adam had ignored the question about needing a medic. Although his sleeve was soaked in blood, he didn't see the wound on his arm as severe. so it didn't need urgent attention. When his friend led him to one side, Adam tightened his jaw, hoping he wouldn't be made to express his feelings or anything of that nature in front of the team. Luckily, what Chase said next didn't evoke those kinds of feelings, but instead the ones he was more familiar with expressing. Hearing that Kerry had led the Sullivans into the trap instantly caused a snap within him. It was enough to make him ignore the fact she'd been forced by Moretti to do it. Considering what he'd just witnessed and been stuck in the middle of, he couldn't find any way to excuse her for it. "Wait. Wait. So that little bitch has been put under our protection and has been having personal counselling sessions with Dr Fucking-Two-Face, all while knowing she was leading us into a trap? Conor won't..." Adam began, about to approach Conor to inform him. Seeing how much his boss already had on his mind, Adam froze on the spot and looked back to Chase. "Of course she's a snake, else she wouldn't be so cosy with Maddox and his girlfriend." He looked over his shoulder towards the main road, before turning back to Chase. "I've got a car stationed nearby. You and Jasmine can drive the family back to James' place. I'm going to pay that lying little bitch a visit. See what else she's been hiding. Even if I have to rip it out of her fucking head!" he snapped. Whilst he wasn't known for showing mercy and holding his tongue, it was clear on this occasion there were deep emotions behind his words. It had been the roughest of nights.

Pyroclast Pyroclast (Syd, Chase)
 

Pyroclast

Add alcohol and stir!
Chase Zegarra

1608478390709.pngIt wasn’t often that Chase caught Adam in a vulnerable moment. The man was as stoic as they come, but Chase could see the cracks beginning to show. As practised as he was at keeping his composure, there was only so much stress a person could take and so when he heard the news about Kerry’s involvement, his reaction didn’t surprise Chase in the slightest. “That’s what it looks like, yeah,” he answered, trying to keep his voice down. Since leaving the safe house, Chase had had enough time for the initial shock to wear off, but seeing the devastation that could have been avoided, he found himself unable to find any justification for Kerry's actions that would bring anyone peace. The emotional side of it was too much to process in one go; for now, all he understood were the facts.

When Adam spoke of paying Kerry a visit, Chase grabbed the man by the shoulders. “No,” he asserted, commanding him to look him in the eye. “No, I’m not gonna let you deal with this alone. I’m going with you, and I’m driving. Me oyes?” Before he could argue, Chase caught Jasmine’s attention and asked her to drive the others home. He hoped to be able to reconvene with her for a debrief before the night was over, but he was concerned that Adam might do something rash if he let him go to the safe house on his own.

The first few minutes of driving were focused purely on getting away from the crime scene. Chase knew Kerry wasn’t going anywhere, nor Maddox or Ani, so he wasn’t worried about rushing to visit them. He was more worried about Adam. Once the sirens were too distant to hear, Chase turned towards the west coast where the streets weren’t so alive. He parked up in a dark, empty lot and got out before rounding the car and opening Adam’s door. “Get up,” he gently ordered, extending a hand to help him out of his seat. “There’s no one here but us now, asere. You don’t have to hide with me, okay?” Chase pulled his collar together, standing stiffly against the cold rain. Talking about feelings was always awkward, but Adam was his closest friend and he knew the awkwardness was worth getting past if it meant he could be there for him. “Before we go to the safe house, I want you to get this out of your system,” he explained. “If you want to get angry, get angry now; if you need to hit somebody, you hit me. Because if you go in there now así, you’re gonna do something...descuidado, uh…something reckless. We need a clear mind before we go in. Conor doesn’t know about any of this yet and he won’t until we tell him, so let’s let him decide what to do with her, okay?”

The traffic was never too distant in Manhattan, but behind the shelter of the riverside skyscrapers it was distant enough to allow an uneasy silence to pass between them. Chase’s expression softened as he took in the sight of his friend, wondering what horrifying scenes and images would be replaying in his mind. “Ven acá…” he softly murmured, casting his eyes to the ground as he opened his arms and beckoned him in for a hug. “Just take a minute.” It was a rare gesture to offer comfort to another man in such a way - while warmth and affection were marks of his Cuban heritage, that sort of dynamic wasn’t something that Chase had established with many of his more recent friends in the US. For him, hugs were a friendly greeting or part of a teasing remark, and used for little else. But the night had been a dark one, one that had left many of their comrades dead, and frankly Chase was relieved to see Adam alive. He held him in a steady embrace, no longer caring about the rain that poured over them. “You did a good job tonight, protecting Conor and Syd, getting yourself out of there on time.” His mind was stuck on Rebel, knowing that the woman hadn’t made it but struggling to find a way to bring it up. “Do you, uh...Do you want to tell me what happened to her? To Rebel?”

Interactions
Misty Gray Misty Gray Adam
 

Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Adam Harper

When Chase grabbed his shoulders, Adam tensed up in response. "No? What do you mean no?" he snapped back before looking his friend in the eye. When the man continued on to say he wasn't letting him go see Kerry alone, Adam let out a deep sigh. Before he could protest, Chase made a point of moving ahead with the idea regardless, telling Jasmine to take the others home. Figuring his friend was going to come along whether he liked it or not, Adam walked with him to the car, begrudgingly letting his friend do the driving.

From his seat in the passenger side, Adam kept his gaze out of the side window to the streets he was being driven through. When Chase made an off-course turn into a parking lot, Adam turned to his friend. "The safehouse, mate. Lo entiendes?" he asked, though he knew his friend's actions were completely intentional. When Chase stopped the car and climbed out, Adam let out a frustrated groan. His car door had been pulled open and Adam was suddenly faced with Chase's hand as the Cuban told him to get out of the car. "Jesus..." he grumbled, firmly gripping his friend's hand before climbing out of the car. "Fuckin' hell," he grumbled at the rain which had kicked in again. But then something far more uncomfortable than the cold rain was thrown at Adam, in the form of being asked to talk... to get his feelings out of his system. "It was a failed job, simple as that..." Adam lowly muttered but fell silent to listen to what else Chase was saying. He was being asked to get his anger out of the system there and then, rather than taking it back to the safehouse and risk being reckless. In his current state of mind, Adam couldn't see anything wrong with killing the person who had sent the team into the trap. Although it was true that it was a decision they had to let Conor make, Adam had scores of his own to settle.

Adam rested his back against the car as he looked to his friend. When Chase opened out his arms to hug, Adam looked to the ground and shook his head, lightly scoffing at the gesture. But with further encouragement towards the gesture, Adam relented and returned the man's hug. The two men held the embrace and when Chase started commending him on the job he'd done, Adam carefully pulled away. He nodded his head, glad he'd been able to get Conor and Syd out safely. "Still, I wasn't good enough to stop so many others from dying. I don't think it's just failure that's getting to me..." When asked about Rebel, Adam let out a strained sigh. "Me, Conor and Perry were practically cornered and severely outnumbered by Morettis fuckers. Rebel went to try take them down, giving us a better chance. The next we saw of her, she was dead. Shot and slumped down in the corridor. I didn't have time to go back for her. I had to leave her in that corridor for the pigs to get their grubby hands on her." Adam looked upwards, allowing the rain to drip onto his face. "This didn't used to get to me," he began, looking back to Chase. "It used to be easier to distance myself and move on from lost teammates. Now, I'm not just driven by the need to be seen as successful to the Boss. Now it gets to me when we lose one of our own or when one of the family gets hurt. I could distance myself from it before, but now when I hear something bad has happened to someone, like one of Pete's daughters, it really get to me, y'know?" Adam pinched the bridge of his nose and tightly closed his eyes, trying his best to hide his tears from Chase. "And now, we've lost our friend," he said of Rebel, pulling his hand away to look to the Cuban. "Jackson's wife and kid have to learn that the most important guy in their lives is dead. It's supposed to be blokes like me who die - I'm disposable. But I'm not dead and why shouldn't Kerry face the consequences for what she did?!"

Pyroclast Pyroclast (Chase)
 

Pyroclast

Add alcohol and stir!
Syd Porter

tumblr_om14ngkcOe1ub5aypo6_500.gifWithin a few minutes of the journey home, Syd had worn himself out. He sat with his uncle in the backseat, an arm threaded loosely through Jackson’s who lay between them. He didn’t notice his cries die down, nor the pain pulsating from his broken nose. There wasn’t space in his head for much self-awareness - he was too busy trying to cling onto the sound of Jackson’s voice, replaying his last words over and over in his mind, recalling the strength of his grip and his confident smile. He would gladly exchange all memory of the fight if it left enough space for every little detail of Jackson’s final hour. Whenever the car swerved between traffic or jumped over a pothole, Syd’s focus would jolt with it and remind him of where they were heading. Knowing that they were about to deliver the devastating news to everyone back home made him want to cry out to Jasmine to stop the car, and a few times he very nearly did. He knew there was no way they could go back to the scene, but going forward filled him with just as much dread.

“Conor,” he piped up, after a long silence. His voice had grown hoarse and weak from crying and he had to clear his throat before continuing. “You should know...the guy that shot him...he’s dead. Jackson killed him.” His face tensed and he placed a hand over his heart, fingertips resting at the edge of his healing scar. “It was the same East Harlem guy that cut me...when they kidnapped me and mam and Sinead.” Ethan’s smug face came to the front of his mind and his stomach gave a lurch. “I didn’t see him coming. I told Jackson I was watching his back but I...I-I didn’t see him. I wasn’t paying attention...” He had only opened his mouth to help Conor understand what had happened to his best friend, but it had quickly descended into deep regret. It was always too easy for Syd to find fault in his own actions, just as he always looked to take responsibility when things went wrong - but the fact that his failure to notice the approaching enemy had resulted in the death of one of the most important people in his life made it especially hard not to beat himself up. “I wish I could go back, you know?” Biting down on his trembling lip, he reached up to wipe away the fresh tears leaking from his raw eyes. “I’m sorry.”

As much as he had hoped for some kind of intervention that would keep them on the road, they inevitably arrived back at the mansion. A fresh wave of grief suddenly hit him again as he caught sight of the light in the windows and Syd turned in towards Jackson and buried his face in the man’s shoulder, trying desperately to stifle his cries. He wanted to give his family more time to believe that everything was okay. To allow Blake a few more moments of being a wife, and Natasha a happy childhood. He knew the second they went inside their lives were going to be turned upside down and the weight of the responsibility was keeping him glued to his seat.

Interactions
Misty Gray Misty Gray Conor, Jasmine, Perry
Enzyme Enzyme (mentioned)
 

Pyroclast

Add alcohol and stir!
Chase Zegarra

1608603055089.pngIt was easy for Chase to look at Adam and know he was being unfair to himself. Realistically, in a fight that unbalanced, it was almost impossible for one man to defend and protect everyone on his team. But Chase hadn’t been there when it all unfolded, he hadn’t had to watch his comrades die. His responsibility that night had been to act as back-up, and the only reason he had failed to get there on time was because information was delayed. Adam, on the other hand, had been thrown into a hopeless situation and now had to process it all, haunted by the lives he might have saved had he done something slightly differently. In the thick of it, however, there wasn’t time to calculate each move.

Chase’s active imagination was useful as an artist, but at times like this it was less than desirable. Even the briefest description of Rebel’s death painted a grim image in his mind. Although he carried no resentment towards Adam for having to leave her there, it was horrible to think of her lying there alone, no doubt to be handled by the cops at any given moment. He let out a heavy sigh, hanging his head down just as Adam looked up. The mental image occupied him for a moment, and before he could come out with an appropriate reply, Adam spoke again, causing him to reset his gaze on the man. It wasn’t often that Adam opened up like this, so Chase wasn’t going to interrupt him. It was clear the job had taken a toll on him and while it gave him no pleasure to see his friend in anguish, he was at least relieved that Adam was willing to vent out his initial feelings before they visited the safe house.

Chase listened to his friend explain how the business had changed him. It was somewhat unexpected - not to learn that Adam was driven by more than a desire to impress his boss, but more to hear him openly admit that he cared about the people he was protecting on a deep level. He hadn’t been an active member of the mob for nearly as long as Adam had and wondered if one day he would have the same overwhelming realisation. There were people he didn’t want to lose, of course: Rebel had been a close colleague of his since he first became a guard under her leadership, and he would surely feel a loss for Adam, Jasmine and probably Syd, too. But his career in the violent mob business had started with the devastating loss of his own father and so, combined with his shy disposition and the culture shock of moving to the states, he hadn’t made much emotional investment in the lives of the people he was protecting. As he watched Adam struggle to comprehend it all, he had an uncomfortable feeling that he would have to face the same pain someday.

“Adam, listen to me,” he spoke, keeping his voice steady. “Every one of us working in this business is here because we chose to be. Jackson made his choice, and so did Rebel. So did all of us. We go out on jobs knowing there’s a chance we won’t come home. Their wives and kids will feel that pain, and it’ll be the worst pain they ever felt, but we are all responsible for our own lives, asere. It is not your job to stop someone from making a sacrifice, and the lives we lost today are not your fault.” He stared solemnly into Adam’s glistening eyes, wondering whether any of his words were making a difference. With the trauma so fresh, it wouldn’t surprise him if his friend just wanted to be angry instead of listen, but it was all he could think to say. There was no real comfort to be taken from such a grave situation and having experienced close personal loss himself there was no way he could try to sugarcoat it.

“Now, you alright?” he asked, reaching out to squeeze the man’s shoulder. He hadn’t missed the tears in Adam’s eyes, but felt his question was implicit enough not to draw attention to them. “We need to get a move on if we’re going to head back to the safe house. Kerry will face the consequences of what she did, don’t worry about that.” He let his hand fall and began to make his way back to the driver’s seat, allowing Adam a moment to himself. “Just remember the girl was a hostage of Gabriel Moretti, alright? He probably scared the life out of her.”

Once back in the car, Chase gave a hard shiver and passed a hand over his hair to squeeze out the raindrops. He got the engine going but just before pulling away he reached out and slapped Adam on the arm with the back of his hand. “And don’t you dare say you’re disposable, cabrón," he said, sounding every bit as serious as he had before. "I will miss you if you die.”

Interactions
Misty Gray Misty Gray Adam
 
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Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Conor Sullivan and Jasmine Carpenter
James Porter and Sinead Callahan

EgNqWUJXgAY6C8W.jpgConor had spent much of the journey home with his head resting against the back of the rear car seat as he stared towards the inside car roof. Jackson's body was placed between him and Syd, but for a while, Conor had hoped if he didn't look at his best friend it might make it easier to imagine the man wasn't actually dead. It failed, of course, but Conor continued to stare up above for a while longer. The journey usually took around 45 minutes, but something told Conor it was going to feel like much longer. It was almost another hour where he could prepare himself for what was to come when he had to break the news to the others. Almost one more hour Blake and Natasha could live believing Jackson was still alive.

When Syd finally spoke up, Conor opened his eyes and turned to look to his nephew. Hearing that the man who had shot Jackson was dead gave at least some comfort to Conor as knowing the killer had got out of there alive would have made him feel even worse. "Good. That's one less bastard for me to kill," he darkly told Syd. Hearing it was the same man who had tortured his family gave Conor an idea of who was to blame. One of the three men he'd encountered in the parking lot at the auction. In a way, it was a shame they couldn't have made Ethan suffer a slow, painful death, but Conor was glad he was dead and Jackson had been able to take his killer down with him. Syd then went on to speak more about what had happened, saying he hadn't been paying attention and hadn't had Jackson's back. Conor remained silent and processed the information, expecting his nephew was going to continue speaking. Syd did speak further before apologising to his uncle. Conor remained silent a little while long before shaking his head. "Don't apologise," he firmly told Syd. "And don't for a moment think it's okay to start blaming yourself for this. This isn't your fault and the only ones to blame are the mongrels who ambushed us. This is not your fault, Syd, and I believe you would have only done what was humanly possible. That whole thing back there caught us all by surprise. We were all out numbered and fighting to survive." Conor quickly shook his head and glanced to Jackson. "Trust me... Jackson would not want you to blame yourself for any of this."

As the car slowed to a stop, Conor looked out of the window and felt the knot in his stomach tighten upon seeing they'd arrived at the Porters' house. He knew he couldn't put it off for long. If those in the house realised they were back, taking too long to go into the house could risk someone going outside and seeing Jackson's body in the back of the car. He knew he had to go in and tell them. He removed his gloves and unfastened the heavy combat jacket he'd been wearing before stepping out of the car so he could drag the bloodstained outerwear off of his body. At least the shirt he had on underneath was black so any blood that could have soaked through would have been harder to see. Certainly not as ghastly a sight as it would be if he entered Lucy's lounge covered in blood. He carefully set the jacket down on the empty spot beside Jackson. "Stay here for now, mate," Conor firmly told his nephew.

*****​
Conor had been about to open the front door when it was pulled open from the inside before he could grab the handle. He felt a slight sense of relief upon seeing James who had been about to go outside for a cigarette. His brother-in-law made a remark about Conor walking about in his shirt in the cold rain, but it went over the big guy's head. Instead, Conor had James step out onto the porch and closed the door behind him. With lowered voices, he informed James of what had happened before pointing him in the direction of the car Syd was seated in the back of.

With James heading out to Syd, Conor once again reached for the door handle. Upon pushing the door open, he heard kids voices and heavy footsteps as a the group ran upstairs. He hoped all of them had gone up to play a game together as that would mean none of them had to hear him break the news. Mostly, he hoped Natasha was playing upstairs. When he entered the lounge, Conor looked to the faces that turned to him. Aliana, Lucy, Sinead, Peter, Roxie... Blake. He closed the door behind himself before hesitating to step further into the room. "I need you all to stay seated," he said, his voice cracking "Syd is outside with James," he began, making sure to ease any concerns about his absence. If only he could ease their concerns about Jackson. "It's bad news. The job didn't go well," he admitted. He paused once again, taking a deep breath as he struggled to hold back his emotions. As broken and devastated as he was, he knew he owed it to his family to break the news without making them suffer more agonising moments waiting for him to spit it out. "The Morettis and East Harlem lot were already expecting us. We were ambushed and forced into heavy gunfire. We were outnumbered and we lost... we lost..." Conor hesitated as he met Blake's gaze and tears began streaming down his cheeks. "Jackson's... He didn't make it, Blake. I'm so sorry, but he's gone..." Not making it to the sofas, Conor rested his back against the wall before practically sliding down it until he was slumped on the floor sobbing. He buried his face in his hands, not wanting them to see the so-called head of the family so weak and also not wanting to imprint further devastation into Blake's heart.

Sinead sprung out of her seat and rushed to Blake's side. The redhead was stunned into shock, but her innate response was to comfort Blake. She naturally wrapped her arm around the woman's shoulders, trying to give her some warmth. Having spent many sleepless nights worrying about Peter and wondering if one day someone who be standing in front of her breaking the news of her husband's death, she had some understanding of what Blake had been through. Only, Peter had always come home. This time, Jackson hadn't. "Sweetie," Sinead softly cooed to Blake, gently rubbing the woman's shoulder as she assessed the woman's reaction and how best to try comfort her...

*****​

90e4a27a5b9bbebb4f484677a44f476e.jpgJames walked at a surprisingly slow pace towards the car, ignoring the rain as it splashed against his face and clothes. As much as he wanted to get to Syd, he was trying to get over the shock himself. Despite a rocky start when they'd first met back in Dublin, James and Jackson had grown close, not only working well professionally, but becoming more than friends. They were family. Jackson had been such a big part of his life, that James hadn't had any doubts about the man becoming Syd's godfather. James froze before he reached the car, stopping on the spot and gazing towards the ground as he forced himself to process the reality. He'd lost too many people already yet he still didn't feel equipped to deal with this. After a few deep breaths and choking back the tears, James took the final few steps towards the car, moving to Syd's side and opening the door. As he leaned down to peer into the back seat, James covered his mouth with his hand; the sight of Jackson's lifeless body seemingly hitting him in the chest. James moved his trembling hand higher, anxiously massaging his forehead as he struggled to remain strong for his son.

"S-Syd, mate," James weakly began. He then looked back into the car and outstretched his hand towards his son. "Come on, Syd. Let's get you cleaned up," he softly told him. His eyes once again glanced to Jackson, his mind still struggling to accept what he was seeing.

Pyroclast Pyroclast (Syd)
Melanin-Gxdess Melanin-Gxdess (Aliana)
Mentions: Bella:D Bella:D (Blake, Lucy, Roxie, Peter) Enzyme Enzyme (Jackson)
 

Melanin-Gxdess

Give up on your dreams and die.
Aliana Cartwright-Sullivan

"You're always going to be my headache child, aren't you?" Ali said to Leo, chastising him for breaking yet another piece of glassware. At this point, if she had a nickel for every piece of glass he had broken she would be a millionaire. He always blamed the dog as if the adult didn't know it was the children who were breaking things. "Mom, listen. I'm a boy and boys are rough and sometimes things get broken but that doesn't mean it's always our fault." He defended, shaking his head. Ali just shook her head and pinched the bridge of her nose. "How do you even- you know what? Just-Just clean this up and go upstairs and don't break anything else or we're not going to visit Grams." Leo's eyes grew wide at the thought and quickly ran to the kitchen to grab a broom. With a deep, heavy sigh she turned to walk into the kitchen for that ginger ale to calm her stomach. The sound of the door closing was audible as she walked back into the room, her husband looking more distressed than she had ever seen him. Her heart immediately sank as she recognized that look on his face as she had seen it before.

The sound of his voice cracking as he told them to remain seated nearly broke her heart, but she listened to him anyway. He hadn't even needed to say it as it was written all over his face; someone had died. Her mind immediately went to her nephew, preparing herself for the news to hit her. Her heart was beating to the point where she wondered if anyone else could hear it. This was the part of the night she was actually looking forward to, having thought for once they had the upper-hand in this war against the Moretti's, but seeing her husband's face was proving otherwise. His words settled her nerves for the moment when he confirmed Syd was okay and that he was outside. It wasn't significant enough to stop her heart from racing, but it was enough to calm the thoughts that were going through her head. The Moretti's having ambushed them was both concerning and puzzling, but that wasn't something her mind was focused on processing. She was studying Conor's face, trying to remember a time she had ever seen him look this way; so heartbroken and defeated. Tears had started streaming down his face and the moment she saw them it hit her; Conor had been like this when Tommy died. There were quite a few people she imagined could make her husband break down and the majority were in this very room. It wasn't until she followed his gaze to Blake that everything clicked.

Ali was stuck in place, unable to move or say anything as she tried to process what had been said. Jackson was gone. Blake was a single parent, a soon to be mother to a child Jackson would never know. Her heart sank to the bottom of her stomach, Sinead's movement off the couch bringing her back to reality. As much as she wanted to rush to Blake's side she knew her husband needed her support and Sinead was taking care of her. Ali got up from the couch and made her way over to him, slowly lowering herself to his level. "I'm here, love." She whispered, softly placing her hand on the side of his head. Her free hand was on top of his wrist, rubbing softly with her thumb trying to comfort him. If she knew her husband as well as she liked to think she did, she knew he was going to beat himself up for this. Jackson had been his best friend from the very beginning, she and Blake often joking about how they wished they were dating each other. Losing someone like that? It was the hardest thing in the world and Ali wished she could take his pain away. "Tell me what you need, okay? What do you want me to do?" She softly whispered, kissing his forehead. Although she was feeling hit with her own wave of emotions, she knew she had to be strong in this moment. "You wanna go out to the back to breathe?"


 

Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Adam Harper
Kerry Patrick and Maddox Parker

unnamed.jpgAdam listened as Chase reassured him about how everyone involved had been there because they chose to be. It made sense to him, but it was still difficult knowing they'd died under such circumstances. Adam wasn't used to failed missions and he certainly wasn't familiar with plans turning so chaotic. It feel that recently, there had been less control over situations. For most of his time working for the Sullivans, things had been easier to coordinate and enemies easier to predict. It was a learning curve even for such an experienced man, but he didn't like that so many had to die for the mob's operations to further evolve. "I know you're right. It's just... hard." He sucked in a deep breath and allowed his features to appear more stern. "It's just a kick in the gut knowing it could have been easily avoided if that bitch had opened her mouth sooner."

When asked if he was alright, Adam quickly nodded his head. "Yeah, I'm good. Let's go see what else we can drag out of Kerry." Adam ran his hand through it wet hair before squeezing out some of the rainwater. When he climbed into his seat, Chase reminded him that Kerry had been held hostage by Moretti. He let out something of a defeated sigh, knowing he couldn't exactly argue with his friend's reasoning. "Then she'll be used to it by now..." he grumbled. He quickly shook his head to take back his words, knowing they were unreasonable ones. "No, I understand. I suppose she wouldn't have had much choice," he distantly trailed off, still struggling to excuse the fact many of his teammates had just been killed. "We still need to find out what else she might know. It would be best if you talked to her, right?"

Adam managed a smirk when Chase slapped his arm and berated him for calling himself disposable. "Well, alright. I'll try stay alive, just for you, amigo." Whilst he did appreciate having people to call friends, the fact still stood in his own mind that there wasn't any family depending on him. Having been the black sheep of his family and practically cast out many years ago, he doubted his parents and siblings would shed a tear for him. Given he'd never chosen to settle down, he didn't have a wife and kids waiting at home for him, not like some his teammates.

*****​

Kerry had been struggling to calm her nerves since confessing to Maddox. Chase and Jasmine hadn't stuck around long, but that only made Kerry more nervous about what was to follow. Every noise she heard from outside the apartment door she expected was the sound of someone coming for her. To torture and kill her. She found herself hoping the Sullivans were as merciful as they seemed and they'd spare her the torture to instead give her a quick death. In her current position of betraying both the Sullivans and the Morettis, it all seemed imminent. When the door finally did open, she audibly gasped, causing Maddox to get up from the sofa opposite her. Naturally, he placed himself between Kerry and the two men, despite knowing full well he wasn't physically equipped to protect her. The faces of Adam and Chase told Maddox things had gone as badly as expected. "Kerry had no choice--" he began.

"Stay out of it, Parker," Adam interrupted. Looking past Maddox, Adam studied Kerry closer than he had been able to before. She was fragile-looking and appeared no older than Savannah; a young woman he could never imagine bringing any harm to. A young woman who had been terrified on too many occasions recently herself. It was difficult to excuse what had just happened, but seeing Kerry up close made it easier to understand how scared of Moretti she would have been. "While Chase talks to Kerry, I need you over here," he ordered, pointing to the kitchen table. Adam then proceeded to remove his outerwear and roll up the blood soaked sleeve of his shirt. His arm was covered in blood from the deep graze in his bicep. Though it wasn't anything Adam was concerned about, the wound was deep enough to need tending too. Once Maddox had retrieved the medical kit, he set about cleaning Adam's wound so he could stitch it up. "We lost a lot of people," Adam quietly told Maddox, attempting to make the counsellor understand the gravity of the situation.

Kerry had rushed to her feet when the men entered the room, folding her arms tightly for comfort as she backed into the wall of the lounge area. Adam had called Maddox to the kitchen area, but she was aware of Chase approaching her. "I'm sorry..." she desperately told Chase.

Pyroclast Pyroclast (Chase)
Also present: Ani
 

Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Conor Sullivan

Conor looked up as he saw his wife was approaching him. His eyes were thick with tears but he could still make out that it was Aliana crouching down in front of him. He wiped his eyes on his shirt sleeves and blinked a few times so he could better see her. He practically leaned his head into her hand as she reached out to him. His eyes then gazed down towards her other hand as she softly stroked his wrist. He was glad he had Aliana there to comfort him, but he still couldn't help but feel guilty that Blake didn't have Jackson at her side.

"I don't know. I don't know..." he helplessly answered her when she asked him what he wanted. Aliana then asked if he wanted to go out into the back garden to breathe, he nodded along, not giving it much thought but accepting his wife knew best. Once they were outside on patio, sheltered by the canopy above, the cool air hit Conor and seemed to snap him out of his daze. Without anyone else around, he felt able to speak out more and not risk causing further upset. "He was going to be heading back to Dublin soon. Jackson, Blake and Natasha were going to go back home together. I should have made him go sooner, but I was too wrapped up in the fact I was getting to spend some time with my friend. Fucking selfish, right?" he asked, slumping down on the nearby bench.

"I hate this place, Ali," he admitted. "I know I've said it before, but this city isn't home," he told her, shaking his head. "Tink and Pete have the right idea moving back to Dublin. I'm stuck here, but you don't have to be. Ali, I want you and Leo to go back to Dublin, at least until this is all over. I need all three of you to be somewhere safe."

Melanin-Gxdess Melanin-Gxdess (Aliana)
 

Pyroclast

Add alcohol and stir!
Syd Porter

Syd’s glazed eyes barely blinked as he let the tears flow silently down his cheeks. Having curled himself around Jackson, his face was now hidden against his Godfather’s broad shoulders and all that filled his vision was the close-up mottled leather of the backrest. The man was still as warm as if he were only asleep, and beneath the nauseating stench of iron and tear gas, Syd could still detect his natural scent. But it was the stillness that made it all real. From that close up, he should have been able to hear him breathe and feel the rise and fall of his chest beneath his arm. Instead, there was nothing. Syd listened absently to the shuffling of heavy fabric as his uncle removed his soiled outer layers and tossed them onto the seat. It was somewhat reassuring to hear that Conor didn't resent him for how it had happened. It didn't make it any easier to accept, but he knew his uncle was right: no matter whose fault it was, Jackson wouldn't want him to blame himself. He thought once again of the loving way his Godfather had spoken to him in his final moments and he clutched tighter at Jackson's hazmat suit, bunching the fabric into his fists like he was holding on for his life.

Even if he could speak, there was no way to describe how terrible he felt for Conor. Part of him wanted to be there for him and to follow him into the house, but he found himself frozen to the spot, not wanting to leave Jackson’s side. In the end he was glad that his uncle told him to stay. When he heard the car door shut followed by the sound of Conor’s distant footsteps, Syd was flung into a heavy silence. It was the first time he had been alone with Jackson since the man had been lying in his arms back at the station. His vision blurred further and he took a sharp gasp for air, struggling to relax enough to properly breathe.

In deathly silence, there was nothing to distract him or pull him out from the depths of his mind. He had stopped thinking about Conor, about Blake and Natasha and about Roxie, Jeanie and Jane. The only thoughts that passed through his head were ones of Jackson. A few random memories: some small, forgettable moments that he had taken for granted; others more poignant, like the adoration in his eyes when he had held Syd’s newborn daughters in his arms or the way they had fought together to bring Roxie home from liberty island.


Jackson stopped a few feet away from Syd, his eyes trailing from the smoking firearm back to the boy's eyes. "Whatever's goin' on," Jackson started, lowering his hand, "this ain't it." He shook his head, a look of sincerity looming from his expression. "That's running from your problems when you've been cornered, mate. Men made of steel, men like us, Syd - we don't run away." Jackson ran his hand across his heavy coat, pushing the foaming liquid off of him."Death means a lot to an Irish bloke. It ain't a card you play when you feel like you've got nuffin' left in your hand. When you're ready to face the end, you go out for somethin' you believe in. It's the ultimate sacrifice, not a cheap escape."

The sudden click of the door handle startled Syd out of his thoughts and he blinked, causing the collected tears to spill down his cheeks. When he turned his head he saw James there, leaning down to him with a hand outstretched. Syd pushed himself upright and took another look at Jackson from arm’s length. From the clear expression on his face, he appeared to be at rest - but the effect was ruined by the blood that stained his skin and clothes. Syd made a last attempt to wipe away the blood from around the man's mouth, but his hands themselves were filthy and trembling, and he soon gave up. Turning instead to his father, he took the man’s hand and carefully climbed out of his seat and into the rain. The act of standing up caused his cracked nasal bone to send a wave of pain to throb through his head; all at once the blood drained from his face and he stumbled into his father’s arms, clinging onto his shoulders to hold himself up. He stayed there for a few seconds as he waited for it all to pass - but it wasn’t going to. The dizziness would ease and the broken bone would eventually heal, but Jackson wasn’t coming back. “He’s dead,” Syd announced, partly to himself. Feeling the grief within him rise up again, he tightened his hold on James to stop himself from crumbling to the ground. “Dad…”

One of the guards had come to stand beside the car and before making their way towards the house, Syd made him promise not to leave Jackson on his own. Entering the house after a traumatic job was never easy. He could hear the heartbreaking sound of people crying as soon as the front door opened and had to press the back of his hand against his mouth to keep his own at bay as he stumbled down the corridor. Once he had made it to the bathroom he surrendered to the weight of the grief and let himself collapse onto the tiled floor, only just managing to prop himself up against the bathtub. He unlaced his sewage-stained boots and struggled out of his own multi-layered hazmat suit before throwing the tangled mess into the tub. Now stripped down to just a t-shirt and his underwear, Syd hugged his knees to his chest and burst into fresh tears, shivering uncontrollably. “I watched him die,” he croaked, almost choking on his words. “He took - h-he pulled me behind him and took all these bullets so I wouldn’t -” Syd drew an unsteady breath of air as he struggled to keep up with the sobs that shook through him. “I was there on the ground with him, dad, I had him in my arms and he was talking to me and then he just…” There was no need to carry on - he was sure his father knew exactly what he was describing. Instead, Syd just focused on stabilising his breathing and the sick feeling in his stomach. “Remember the day he arrived in New York?” he asked once his cries had simmered down, fixing his gaze on his father’s eyes. “I was all ready to do it. But then Jackson turned up, and he told me that death was a sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice...and that when you’re ready to go, you have to go out for something you believe in…” His eyes welled up with tears once again at the thought, but he didn’t drop his gaze. “Can you believe it, dad? Jackson did exactly that.”

Interactions
Misty Gray Misty Gray Dad
Enzyme Enzyme Jackson (mentioned)
 

Melanin-Gxdess

Give up on your dreams and die.
Aliana Cartwright-Sullivan

The two of them going outside was a good thing, she thought, as he needed to get it all out. If she had picked up on anything in the past it was that he hated crying in front of other people and wanted to relieve him of that. She helped him to his feet and quickly grabbed her coat before leading him to the backyard. The initial chill sent a shiver down her spine as both of them took a seat on the bench. There were times she had seen her husband defeated, but never this defeated. Losing Jackson was going to be very hard for her family to get through. The man was her husband's best friend and had watched his back for years, something she was grateful for. It wasn't until now that she realized that Jackson had done a lot for her besides just being there for her husband. He was the person who had to break the news about Tommy and comforted her before Conor took over. It was because of him that she was able to get closure by getting the revenge she needed against those who murdered the man she loved. But as much as she wanted to reflect on that and mourn with him, she couldn't. Not yet.

She listened to him speak, already starting to blame him. At the mention of Blake and Natasha, she felt like someone had stabbed her in the heart. The thought of their unborn child came to thought again and she debated telling him about it. She eventually decided against it at the moment, figuring it would be something that added more to his guilt and he didn't need that right now. "Conor, that's not selfish. If Jackson didn't want to be there with you, you know he would have said no and put his foot down. Don't blame yourself for any of this because it's not your fault." She placed her hand on his knee and rubbed his back with her free hand, listening to what he had to say next. It took her off guard to hear him say he wanted them to leave the city, considering it had been the topic of so many of their arguments in the past. The old Aliana would have more than likely snapped on him and brought it up, but she was seeing a therapist and working on approaching things like this in her marriage differently. Plus, to start an argument with him now after his friend had died would be heartless.

"Look at me," she said, her hand on his cheek. Her eyes were deadly serious as she shook her head. "I know you hate this city. You know I hate this fucking city and the one thing I want to do is leave and go back home but I can't. If you're not going to be there then I can't." Her voice broke, but she was going to continue to do her best to keep the tears in despite a single one falling down her cheek. "I just got you back and our family is finally together again and growing and we're not going to be apart from you again. I'M not leaving you alone." Aliana had a lot to make up for in the years Conor had been locked up and she thought about it every single day. She hadn't told her husband about it, but it weighed heavily on her mind of the different ways she was going to do it. Standing by him through everything and not letting him be alone was going to be her first priority. "It's out of the question completely."


 

Bella:D

Boop boop-a-doop ;)
Blake McCarthy

Things were going pleasantly enough at the Porter Residence but even all the pleasantries weren't enough to distract Blake from thinking about how long it was taking the men to come home. She was just anxious to see Jackson now that she had told everyone else her happy news, ready to share with him the same excitement she had been feeling for quite some time.

The conversation she was having with Roxie was nice enough but as soon as she heard the front door open, Blake was out of her seat. Conor stepped into the room and closed the door behind him before telling them to all stay seated. Blake felt kind of stubborn, wanting to stay standing but after a moment she took a seat again. He didn't have to say anything to her for her to know that something was up. Her heart started to pound painfully in her chest as she started to assume the worst but there was slight hope in her mind, wanting her to hold on to that hope as she waited for Conor to speak. As soon as he said that he had bad news to tell, Blake could already piece together at least what the outcome was of the job. He's going to step through that door any minute, he's probably with Syd. Her mind tried to protect her, convincing her that her husband was just right outside. But Conor looked far too shaken for that to be true, she reasoned. She never saw him like this before. "Where is he?" Blake asked but her voice failed her and Conor continued on, clearly not having heard her. The tightness in her chest was becoming unbearable and she reached her hands up to clutch it as Conor hesitated to say who they had lost. Closing her eyes, Conor finally told her that Jackson hadn't made it.

She wanted to be sick.

It wasn't true. It couldn't be.

He always made it home.​

She continued to keep her eyes closed as if to tune out the fact that what she was hearing was real, maybe if she kept her eyes closed long enough she could reset something somehow, reverse time if that was possible. Something that resembled a strangled sob could be heard, a sound that wasn't familiar to her but it was coming from her lips. Someone had wrapped their arms around her and Blake instantly went limp against them her chest heaving heavily as she let the grief consume her.

Her eyes opened and she could see familiar red hair in her vision. Sinead's voice cooing to her slightly. Blake shook harshly as if she had just stood out in a snowstorm for hours on end, her teeth chattered uncontrollably. Another sob escaped her and she gripped Sinead tightly in her grasp. This wasn't how it was supposed to be, there was no way that this was happening to her. "He always comes home to me. He's got to come home. He promised me, Sinead! He did!" She tried not to shout but her voice was getting louder and louder as the realization came to fruition. Her hands and fingers tingled as the panic began to set in. What the hell was she supposed to do without him? What was Natasha going to do without him? "I can't do this without him! I was supposed to tell him about the baby today! I should have told him when I knew! I CAN'T DO THIS." Blake wailed as she cried even harder.
tenor (1).gif
It was weird for her but after crying hard for several seconds, she quieted down. This isn't happening to you. Her mind told her, trying to ease her pain as a defense. He's right here. You aren't alone. Blake released Sinead instantly and moved to lean back against the couch. Her tears had stopped eerily enough and she just stared at Sinead openly as the shock began to set in. Not saying a word, she just shook her head repeatedly very very slowly. Her eyes saw Conor and how upset he was, but her body and mind were ready to disassociate from everything. It was starting to look like she was watching this from somewhere else, the feelings of grief becoming comfortably numb within her as her ears started to ring. Blinking slowly, she allowed herself to figuratively float out of the room feeling more comfortable living outside of herself than in this hell she was now being forced to live.

All thoughts of her husband's death were washed away to their first moments together back in Ireland. Staring off into nowhere, in particular, she could vividly see the curve of his lips when they first met, when he found her in the jazz club after the IWU shooting. She had been a damsel in distress and he was just the type of man who couldn't stand to see such a pretty face so upset. That was before he knew the truth about her. But even after he found out, he wanted her. After that their relationship had no more secrets, no more doubts, it was as easy as breathing with him. Waking up beside him every day always felt like the first time she had, being with him was always exciting and adventurous.


...The warmth of his body was slowly leaving her and she found herself missing it almost instantly. Her heart ached as it pounded in her chest, soon she would be cold again. She stayed against the wall, unable to will herself to go inside yet, instead of watching him walk down the street. The urge to follow him was strong and she had to grip the railing to her staircase to keep from falling down them in a hurry. Biting her lip harshly, she wondered if it would be stupid of her to give in to her urges. She wasn't with the Porters to fall for someone, she was there to get information and get out. But those eyes, that smile, the way he held her close just moments ago.

Her hands pushed against the brick wall behind her as she willed her feet to move towards the stairs. Looking at them with wide eyes she wondered if she would make it before taking the first steps. clinging to the railing, she side shuffled clumsily before her ankle rolled underneath her weight only causing slight pain but causing her to fall from the final step onto the sidewalk. Blake burst into a fit of laughter before moving to hold her ankle. "Wait!" She laughed out, though she clearly was in pain. "Jackson!" She called to him. Blake managed to pull herself up but waved to him as she held her ankle and balanced on one foot.

--------------
He thought Blake calling his name was just his imagination until he heard the loud thump of her falling down. He quickly shot around, able to see the woman struggling to get up. His clouded mind quickly sobered up as the thought of her breaking something entered his mind. Thankfully, those concerns were quickly put to rest as she belted out laughing. He quickly jogged back to her steps, meeting her halfway on the sidewalk.

He quickly caught Blake to help her balance and looked down at her rolled ankle. "Jesus, are you alright?" He asked, trying the assess the damage under her dress. It was obvious that he was overreacting, as he was met with nothing but laughter when he looked up at her. He soon found himself chuckling as well, seeing how hilarious it was that steps managed to take at least one of them out.

Despite how sure he felt before, he couldn't shake the feeling of how good it felt to be this close to her. Maybe it wasn't the alcohol, made it was genuine. He looked up to her, his smile fading once more. Using the hand that wasn't supporting her, he rested it on the side of her face. He slowly leaned in, this time without hesitation. Pressing his lips against hers officially eliminated any doubt he held. He was sure that this was meant to be.


Blake's lip trembled as her vision went back into focus. Everything was still the same but the memory of her first kiss with her husband helped her in some way. Maybe because she knew deep down that she would always have those memories. Maybe it was because she knew she would have to pull it together for Natasha, for her baby on the way. Looking to Sinead, tears began to stream down her face once more but there was a new sense of calm that took over her. She was going to be okay. Jackson always had faith in her that she would be. Why doubt herself now? "I can do this." She told the redhead but reached her arms out for another hug as the sobs began to form once more in her chest. She knew she would be okay but she also knew that the sadness for the death of her husband would never go away.
with: Sinead Misty Gray Misty Gray
mentions: Conor Misty Gray Misty Gray ; Syd Pyroclast Pyroclast ; Jackson Enzyme Enzyme
 

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Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Conor Sullivan

The cold didn't seem to register with Conor personally as he sat outside without a coat. Still, he put his arm around Aliana to try keep her warm. Or was it for his own comfort? Although he still had self-doubt, he nodded in agreement when Aliana began to reassure him that he hadn't been selfish in doing nothing to deter Jackson from staying in New York. Something he did know for sure, was that it was never a mistake that Jackson had agreed to come to the city in the first place, when James had needed him. Had he not, the family would have lost Syd some months ago. Conor knew things happened for a reason, but it still hurt and it made him angry knowing the enemy was to blame. "It still hurts, Ali. How many more people will this family lose before this is over? I've lost two best friends in just a few months. And for the first time in years, I'm not even sure anymore what my father would have wanted. I've felt like I owed it to him to step up and lead this family, that I couldn't disappoint him. But surely family is worth more than money and power."

Conor looked Aliana in the eyes when she commanded him to. Of course she already knew his feelings about the city and that he felt obligated to keep fighting for what both Liam and James had built in New York. He wasn't surprised when she said she couldn't leave without him, but he was still disappointed she hadn't agreed to return to Dublin. "But you, Leo, the baby..." he quietly began. "I'd never forgive myself if anything happened to any of you," he told her, gasping for air as he forced back more tears. "If you're staying, we're going to need more security around you until this mess is sorted once and for all. No arguments."

Conor pulled Aliana in closed to hold her tight against him. "I can't believe he's gone," he said, starting up towards the cloudy sky as he shook his head. He then looked down to Aliana and placed a kiss on the top of her head. "You don't have to be strong for me, love. I know you're hurting too," he told her, fully aware of Aliana's friendship and memories with Jackson.

Melanin-Gxdess Melanin-Gxdess (Aliana)
 

Misty Gray

Pessimisty
James Porter

When Syd finally stepped out of the car, James was ready to catch his son as the younger man practically fell into his arms. James wrapped his arms around Syd, pulling him in close. As his son seemed to stand frozen on the spot, James had no intention of pulling away. "I know, mate..." he replied to Syd, still processing Jackson's death himself. He tightly closed his eyes as his mind was split between his own grief and the overwhelming need to comfort his son.

The guard arrived to stand by the car, also informing the two men that Finn was on his way over to tend to Syd's broken nose. This served as a cue for James and his son to break away from the embrace so they could retreat indoors. Upon entering the house, it was tempting to walk towards the sounds of upset family members in the lounge if only to comfort Lucy, but knowing she had family and friends around her, James knew it was Syd who needed him most at that moment. He accompanied his son to the bathroom and started filling the sink with water whilst also wetting a cloth for if Syd wanted to clean up some of the blood from his face.

James sat on the floor opposite Syd, for now leaving the wet cloth draped over the edge of the sink. With Syd sat with his knees at his chest and arms wrapped around his legs, James reached out to gently grip his son's shoulder. He slowly nodded when Syd explained how he'd watched Jackson die. It came as no surprise that Jackson had put himself in the path of the bullets to protect his godson. The man had proved countless times how loyal and committed he was to the business, but more than that, Jackson was a part of the family and one who would selflessly help those he cared about. No matter the cost. "Jackson will have been glad you were there with him. I'm glad you were... I'm grateful to know he wasn't alone and you were with him in those last moments." James looked down to the ground as his own grief threatened to catch up with him, despite how he would usually spare his own feelings for when he was alone with Lucy.

Before he could lose himself, Syd spoke up again, causing James to look back up to him and shift his focus back onto helping his son. James was led to thinking of Jackson's arrival in New York. Whilst it could be easy for James to blame himself for Jackson's death given he'd asked him to come to New York in the first place, to help fight the Morettis, he could never regret his decision. Had Jackson not come to New York, James knew Syd would have killed himself that day. James nodded his head after Syd had spoken, managing a small, fond smile. "Yeah, I can believe it, Syd. Jackson thought the world of you and I know for a fact he was so proud of you. Jackson was a brave man and I don't think he would have even hesitated to sacrifice himself for you, because he believed in you."

Pyroclast Pyroclast (Syd)
Mention: Enzyme Enzyme (Jackson)
 

Melanin-Gxdess

Give up on your dreams and die.
Aliana Cartwright-Sullivan

Ali listened to Conor intently, focusing on his words and trying to find a solution for him. As difficult as that might of been with the different emotions welling up inside, she was still managing. For years she tried her best to support her husband and his desire to make his father's memory proud but she could see just how much he was struggling. She pursed her lips for a moment, knowing exactly what she wanted to say but not how to say it. She didn't want it to come out as overly critical but she did want him to understand it was coming from a good place. With a small sigh and smile, she shook her head. "I know, baby, I know. We're all hurting with you so that's not something you're alone in. But, Conor, you're trying to do things the way your father would have done and what worked for him may not work for you. Times are changing and things are so different; people are so different and you have to adjust. You've been doing the best you can dealing with ghosts from the past and stepping up when you needed to that you don't have to keep beating yourself up when things don't go according to plan." She rubbed her hand through his hair, trying to comfort him. Even though she probably hadn't said it in a while, she was genuinely proud of her husband for making do with what he had. Though she had been secretly against it for fear of what could happen, she had grown to be more supportive and understanding of the situation.

His worry was understandable, losing so many people in such a short amount of time. But there was no way she was going to budge on this. Leo had just gotten his father back in his life and she was seeing improvements in his behavior. Just knowing how happy her son had become when his father was around was one of her main reasons for staying. "Hey, nothing is going to happen to us, okay?" She nodded her head at his compromise. "You can surround us with more muscle heads or even confine me to the house for all I care. All I know is that wherever you are is where we are no matter what." She placed her hand on the back of his neck bringing her forehead to rest against his. "We're a team. All four of us and we can't just leave you." She took a moment before she pulled away from him with a sad smile that faltered at the mention of Jackson.

She didn't want to cry right now, was trying her best not to, but his words were going to cause her to burst. She didn't realize how much she felt she owed to him until he was gone. The things he did may have seemed small to others, but to her they were huge. Vengeance was a tricky and sometimes dark thing and not everyone was able to get it. Aliana had been able to on more than one occasion for both of the men she loved and cared about all thanks to Jackson. But now her heart felt even heavier knowing Blake was pregnant and that she would never get the chance to tell Jackson. That one thought was the thing that broke her into a mess of tears, knowing how it felt to grow up without a father. Even though Conor had only been absent from her life for a few years, he had come back. Jackson wasn't going to do that for Blake. She covered her face with her hands in an attempt to stop from crying, but it wasn't helping. "Blake is... She's all alone now. She's going back home with two kids and a dead husband and I don't know what to do to help her..."


 

Misty Gray

Pessimisty
Conor Sullivan

Conor looked to his wife when she told him he was doing things the way his father would have. He wanted to tell her it wasn't that simple, that in their way of life honouring his predecessors' achievements and empire was important, but he didn't believe that himself. It was true that times were changing and he had to adapt, so the struggle he was facing was one of pride. Conor still believed he owed it to his father, as when Emmet died, he knew he wasn't taking the family business or much else seriously. He slowly nodded his head. "I think you're right, Ali. While I know I've made a lot of reckless mistakes in my life, I think I've been so focused on wanting to do what I think my old man would have wanted to do that I've never admitted the real problem. This is the second time I've tried to lead the business and the second time it's been in the middle of an existing war against my family. I loved my Dad, but I inherited his fight with the Romanos. I hold no ill feelings towards Liam or James, but I've now inherited their war with Moretti bastards. I barely even knew the smug fucker Moretti until recently." Conor shook his head. "I'm in charge of the Sullivan businesses here and in Dublin, but they are nothing alike. Jackson knew it and I know it too... Dublin is where our family's heart is. New York is where we're stuck right now and as far as business is concerned, I feel more trapped right now than I did in jail. This isn't about me trying to shake my responsibilities, I just don't believe in New York. Where's the soul and the community spirit? It's just a cold and hollow city, trapping us in an endless cycle of battling to maintain this power. The only way for me to ensure you're all safe, no matter where we are, is to become more like New York. It seems to work for our enemies."

Conor softened as Aliana spoke of her and the kids, the family being a team. He looked her in the eyes and nodded decisively. "I'll do whatever it takes to protect you. Whether that means accepting Moretti's offer and getting the fuck out of here, or gunning down everyone who steps in our way without hesitation. We can't lose anyone else. I'm already dreading going to sleep as it means I'll have to wake up with the realisation Jackson is still gone..."

Seeing his wife cover her face to try prevent herself from crying, Conor pushed back on his own feelings and held her closer. "Ali, you don't have to stay strong right now. If you need to cry, you should," he softly encouraged her. When Aliana spoke of how Blake was alone, it choked Conor up again as the image of her face when he broke the news was something he wouldn't be able to forget. "I know, I--" he suddenly stopped as he realised what Aliana had said. "Two kids?" he asked. As it became clear Aliana was revealing Blake was pregnant, he tightly closed his eyes and shook his head. "No..." he sadly whispered. It had been bad enough knowing Blake and Natasha had lost Jackson, but knowing his best friend would never meet his unborn child was even harder to bear.

Melanin-Gxdess Melanin-Gxdess (Aliana)
 

Pyroclast

Add alcohol and stir!
Chase Zegarra

1609023854081.pngChase didn’t mind Adam’s threatening tone when he spoke of Kerry - even if the man truly meant to hurt her, he had a feeling that he wouldn’t lose control as long as he was at his side. Still, it reassured him to hear Adam suggest that Chase spoke with her instead. "If you think so," Chase responded, feeling no need to reiterate his concern for Adam’s current state of mind. He trusted his friend to do almost anything, but to set aside his anger and be reasonable towards Kerry was a lot to ask.

It was clear from Kerry and Maddox’s reaction that they had been expecting someone to come back. The pair both jumped to their feet, Kerry instantly backing up against the wall while Maddox moved to shield her from any potential attack. Despite having already heard the girl’s defence earlier in the evening, Chase didn’t soften at the sight of her. Not when he knew the extent of the deaths she could have prevented. He hadn’t come to show her any more compassion than simply making sure Adam didn’t kill her.

Once Adam called Maddox to tend to his injuries, Chase locked his eyes on the girl who had backed up against the wall. She looked more terrified with every step he took towards her and started to apologise as if it might save her from harm. “Stop crying and sit down,” he ordered, snapping his finger towards the chair in front of him. Once she was seated, he perched himself on the table facing her and folded his arms. “Do you understand where you are right now, Kerry?” he asked her, watching to make sure she kept her eyes on him. “It’s pretty obvious you’ve not been involved with gangs before, so let me explain you how this works. You are in a safehouse. That means you are under our protection and nobody knows where to find you. Not the police, not your family and not Gabriel Moretti. But still you thought if you opened your mouth, he would hunt you down and kill you, right?”

Not being a confrontational person by nature, Chase doubted he would have found himself in this position had someone else been there to deal with her. Yet, now that it was his duty, he found it somewhat cathartic to address the person who had sent his colleagues to their deaths. “Eleven of our team died tonight, Kerry. Friends of mine. People who were fighting for your justice, who were supposed to go home to their wife and kids. Their deaths are all on you, you understand?” The low, steady pitch at which he spoke made his words sound more like a warning than the more fierce punishment she might have expected. Still, it masked the heaviness in his heart just as well. “You have to take responsibility for that, carry it in your conscience for the rest of your life. But you must have thought of that before you made your choice, so I’m sure you’re already prepared.” Part of him definitely sympathised with her, and he was aware that he was being cruel. Kerry was no gangster, just an innocent waitress in a mob-owned jazz club. She was practically a civilian. Chase was sure any civilian threatened by Gabriel Moretti would be as haunted by it as she clearly had been, so it made sense that she had been too terrified to speak out. But his heart was beginning to ache the more he thought about it all. It hurt to know that all of the deaths could have been avoided if she had dared to speak up, and so while he was still in a position of some control, he wanted to make sure she took home the gravity of what had happened. “What I’m wondering is,” he went on. “If you don’t believe that our protection works, why should we bother to keep you here at all? Why shouldn’t we just hand you back to Moretti?”

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