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Jack was just switching off the stove and dividing a generous portion of hash browns between three plates that already had scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. When he heard Lily’s teasing tone, he smirked, proving he was in a much lighter mood than the night before.
[#ff6622 “I lived off of stolen burgers and trash bin leftovers for the first 16 years of my life. If you wanted a gourmet chef, you married the wrong man.”] He teased back, proud of himself for managing a simple breakfast without the smoke detector going off! He set the plates on the table, sliding one in front of Logan. Jack knew from experience that the toast and hash browns would felt settle his hangover and the gesture was Jacks attempt at an apology, but it wasn’t coupled with the same fatherly pep talk he often had with Logan after one of their arguments. Jack knew he couldn’t blame the boy, but Logan’s hurtful words still stung, especially now that he was going to be a real father! And besides the hurt, Jack was also still angry at Logan’s choices. Not only did he lie and sneak out of the house, he risked getting drunk at a party, he nearly beat a kid to death, and he stole from Jack’s store – getting him fired! For Lily’s sake, Jack wanted to avoid another fight, so he kept his mouth shut until Logan addressed him directly.
[#ff6622 “You think last night was fun?”] Jack asked in an even tone, not really having the patience for Logan picking fights this morning. He filled the coffee-grinder with beans and thought about taking it to the other room to grind so the loud buzzing noise wouldn’t bother Logan… on second thought, the kid was being an asshole, so why do him any favours? Jack pressed the button, letting the grinder run for several seconds, before finally turning it off and silencing the irritating sound. He then poured the grounds in a filter and started making coffee.
[#ff6622 “You know me Lily, always on my best behaviour.”] Jack remarked, giving his wife a smirk. Of course he would make every effort to keep the peace with Logan, but Jack wasn’t entirely sure that was possible while the boy was still bitter about last night. Jack almost wondered if this conversation wouldn’t go better if he wasn’t here, but Lily needed the support and Jack was still harbouring a frail hope that news of the new baby might bring him and Logan closer together.
Jack killed Lily’s cheek before taking his seat at the table. Once Logan was treated, they could all enjoy their meal and talk about the news. Jack was tempted to bring up the events of last night, but knew that would only set Logan off again. Obviously Jack’s attempts at being the disciplinarian last night backfired, so he’d leave that conversation to Lily. Maybe it would be better received from Logan’s mother. Instead, Jack held his tongue once again, biting back any retort he may have normally had for the boy. It was uncharacteristic of Jack to let the events go without a lecture, but he had promised Lily he was going to be better for this new child and all of that started today. While he waited, Jack took out the newspaper and turned to the classified section to see if there were any potential jobs that might hire him despite his criminal record. He still hadn’t told his wife about his lost job because he didn’t want to muddy her excitement over the new baby. Jack would wait until after they dealt with Logan so he could speak to his wife in private. No need to add to Logan’s bad mood with news that his actions got Jack fired.
[#ff6622 “I called Larry this morning. He’s going to hack the hospital records to see if he can find out how much damage was done to that boy’s face. Once he gets the details he’ll send them to Martyn. For now, at least, it looks like the kid is going to take a few weeks to recover but hopefully there’s no long-term damage.”] Jack said, more to Lily than to Logan, but Jack vaguely wondering if his little brother even remembered the extent to which he beat that bully. There were certainly times when Jack remembered waking up with busted knuckles and blood on his clothes without any recollection of who he fought with or what condition they were in when he left. It was a horrifying feeling, thinking there was a monster inside that could hurt or even kill someone without your knowledge. At least it seemed like Logan remembered some of what happened last night, so hopefully he hadn’t been as wasted as Jack initially feared.
Lisa gratefully accepted the cup of tea, giving her partner an appreciative look as she took a longing sip. It had been a long night. It was already late when Lisa was finally able to usher Lily off to bed, but she still waited up until after 4:00am for Jack to come home. Lisa wanted to make sure he was sober and to send him away if he wasn’t. Thankfully, it wasn’t needed. Jack was sober – albeit a little worse for wear – and Lisa was able to get a little over two hours of sleep before she left the Sanders residence. She knew that there would be plenty of discussion once Logan woke up and that was a family matter. Lisa would always be around for support, but some things were best dealt with among the three of them. Besides, Lisa was anxious to see how Martyn and Jesse were. She had rarely seen her daughter that distraught and the alcohol certainly wasn’t helping. It was no surprise when she heard the unpleasant sounds of Jesse’s misery as soon as she walked through the door.
[+green “Jack has always been overly emotional, but his reaction wasn’t surprising considering what Logan was saying. That boy was getting vicious… he almost reminded me of you, back in the old days.”] Lisa teased. Instead of the telling smirk and bright eyes that some of the other Brats would have when bantering back and forth, Lisa’s jab was a little more subtle, with a slight twitch of her lip and a raise of her brow. It fit the expressionless bond the two shared.
[+green “I’ll be fine; I’m just a little tired. Jack didn’t get back home until after 4am, so I didn’t get much sleep. Besides, Lily told me something that even I didn’t see coming.”] Lisa said, looking slightly troubled by the fact that the other woman was able to keep such a secret. It couldn’t have been for long – Lily must have found out recently. But still, Lisa was a reader and should have seen the changes in Lily. She should have predicted the pregnancy long before Lily decided to tell her. Either Lisa was getting rusty, or Lily’s past trauma helped her hide the truth much better than anticipated.
[+green “Lily’s pregnant.”] Lisa explained, knowing she didn’t have to say anything further. Martyn would understand the complicated ups and downs that news like this would bring. It certainly wasn’t good timing: Logan was already acting out and this may make things worse. Jack had always dreamed of being a father, but now more than ever, his confidence in being a father was shaken. Lily has the potential to see this as a new, loving chapter in her life, but the pregnancy and birth alone will be nothing but a reminder of her past trauma. This wasn’t going to be easy on anyone.
Not that Lisa and Martyn’s own family was any easier at the moment! The mother listened carefully to her partner’s explanation, just as concerned as he was about Jesse’s random act of defiance. When Martyn suggested taking a step back, Lisa allowed the surprise to show on her face. Martyn and Lisa weren’t exactly ‘involved parents’. They weren’t the type for hugs and kisses, they rarely felt the need for parent-teacher conferences or imposing extra-curricular, and they weren’t nagging Jesse for every intimate detail about her day. Of course, a lot of that was due to their particular gifts: Lisa could read her daughter to make sure there were never any problems or concerns, and Martyn could keep her on the right path and offer all the advice she’d ever need in just a few words. To hear that they were overstepping was a concern.
[+green “You know, Martyn, most parents would give their child less freedom after an incident like this, not more freedom. But you may have a point, my reading can be a little invasive.”] Lisa confessed, still hearing the retching from upstairs to prove Jesse was still in the midst of her horrible morning.
[+green “I just don’t understand what changed. Jesse never lied to us before, especially about something this serious. And I’m worried that her bond with Logan may be affecting her judgement… I’ve always taught her that a reader is only as good as she is impartial, and Jesse is far from impartial when it comes to Logan. He could have killed that boy tonight, and if she had misread him… if he had ever turned on her…”] Lisa trailed off, not wanting to think about what would have happened if their little girl caught Logan in a rage.
It wasn’t too much longer before the miserable sounds from upstairs stopped and light footprints could be heard heading towards the kitchen. Jesse looked pale and still a little green. Her eyes were raw and her discomfort clearly displayed on her face instead of the expressionless mask she normally wore. When she saw her parents, Jesse bit the inside of her cheek, not looking forward to the coming lecture.
[#aa0000 “Are you going to yell at me for sneaking out?”] She asked sheepishly.
[+green “I think what you’re feeling now is likely punishment enough for going to that party and drinking under age. The lying, however…”]
[#aa0000 “I know. I already promised father I wouldn’t lie anymore. I’m sorry mom. It won’t happen again.”] Jesse swore, knowing how much trouble these innocent little fibs got her in this time. She wasn’t eager to have this situation repeat itself!
[#aa0000 “I’m worried about Logan though… I tried to calm him down before he did too much damage, but Adam… he was really badly hurt, wasn’t he? Logan was just trying to protect me. He’s not going to get into too much trouble, is he father? Can’t we argue that this was all self defense?”]
Lily wasn’t often so hesitant regarding telling people her thoughts or feelings. If she had an urgent need to express how a situation affected her, she would be the first to challenge anyone, even her own husband . Ever since she found out the news she was pregnant however, parts of that changed and she didn’t realise just her how much until this very moment. She saw the person she couldn’t live without, standing in front of her, battered and bruised and she couldn’t say a word against him. Her husband, who she stupidly resisted against for so long, had his arms wrapped around her lovingly and she was still trying to find the words that could bring the both of them so much joy. If it wasn’t for Lisa’s words, she might have even waited until the morning but her best friend was right. She had the right to be excited. She shouldn’t have been held back by the fear of what might be, but instead embrace the moment that was happening. There was going to be a new member of the Sanders family. In nine months time there would be an extra life in the house, bringing new memories and lessons for them all.
As she said the words, she took a quick glance at Jack as he shot up right and she felt her chest tense, just like it did moments before she had the panic attack previously. What had she done? He wasn’t ready for the news. She should have known better than to tell him the moment he walked back from a fist fight, unsure of himself! What happens if it was all just a lie? Maybe he was convincing himself he wanted a child but now the reality was here, perhaps it was too much? Lily rested her head back down on the pillow and stared ahead, trying to control her breathing in part but also too terrified to see what the next stage of his reaction would be! Lily knew Jack wouldn’t hurt her, and he wouldn’t leave but this could all be one big burden to a family already shaken up.
Waiting for those first words, something which seemed like would never happen now, gently stroked her thumb against the back of Jack’s hand. Beneath his palm was a life they had both created and while it wasn’t planned, the unexpected had a way of making the biggest difference. She wanted this baby to be the change they needed. Maybe it would inspire Jack to be different and for Logan to stop being so reckless. Unlike with Rick, Lily was wishing the newborn was in her arms right this second. For a brief moment, she could almost imagine their future and it was beautiful.
So as Jack asked if this was what she wanted, she squeezed his hand and dared to turn her eyes back up, watching the tears in his eyes.
[+orange “More than anything.”] She whispered back and the instant her husbands lips turned into a smile, she felt the instant relief across her body and her own smile broke out, Her chest relaxed and for the first time that night, she didn’t feel tense.
With Jack’s kiss she was halfway closer towards the future she was dreaming of. That kiss alone evaporated a lot of her doubts. She could tell he was going to try and change, to become the father he always bragged he would be and live up to the wild dreams he had. They would do this together, just like they always had...
And with the rise of new hopes came the rise of Logan’s first exposure to the torture of hangovers - the sun.
When the light broke through the crack in the curtains, his eyes squinted together and a cracked out groan escaped his cracked and dry lips. Why did he feel like he had been crawling through the dessert? As he tried to pull his head from the sheets, he could feel the sticky residue of his own saliva pulling on the sheets which had spread all over his face as he fell unconscious at some point. It was the same for his knuckles! His bedsheets were covered in a pool of dark red blood and as he lifted his hands up, the sheets pulled up with him where the wounds on his knuckles had scabbed over with the fabric of his bedding. He was able to pull them away, ripping open some new wounds but that was the least of his concerns. His head was pounding, his stomach was churning and he wondered how he even ended up in his bedroom.
Finally daring to open his eyes he turned to see three blood splattered holes in the wall and a smear of blood on the floorboards. Looking down at his hands he could see they were now a deep purple, the knuckles were out of place, the lacerations were deep and they had both swollen up twice their size. Grunting at the pain that exposed his body, he slipped from his bed realising he was still wearing the same clothes from the night before. Just as he left his room to try and piece together what had happened, Lily was standing with her arms crossed around her chest.
[+orange “Was it worth it?”]
[b “The beer pong was good...”]
[+orange “Wrong answer, try again”]
[b “Do you have to go on, you’re giving me even more of a headache...”] Logan complained, resting his bloody hand on his forehead which gave Lily everything she needed.
[+orange “Well considering you didn’t let me treat you last night, you’re coming downstairs and letting me look at those hands and Logan, let’s try and keep this peaceful for one day. We had enough drama for one night.”]
Escorting Logan downstairs they both walked into the kitchen. Lily approached her husband, grinning as she watched him working at the kitchen.
[+orange “First time for everything. I’ll be impressed if we don’t get anything back burnt”] She teased, obviously exchanging a happiness which only her and Jack knew about yet but she quickly gave him a look, sharing the uncertainty of whether she should tell Logan now or judge the situation first... grabbing the first aid kid, she walked over to her son who was sat at the table with his head in his hands and looking like he was going to be sick at any moment.
[b “Can we open a window? The smells making me sick...”]
[+orange “No Logan, the amount you drank last night is making you sick. You’re going to eat and drink, you’ll feel better.”]
Logan didn’t seem too impressed with Jack’s efforts. He could remember some things... the words, the smashing of the bottle... he glared over at his brother, seeing the bruises and cuts on his face.
[b “See you had fun last night as well... argh! What the fu-“] Logan started sarcastically, but Lily was quick to put the antiseptic spray on her sons wounds and the sting enough silenced him.
[+orange “Remember Logan, nice family breakfast. No drama. Isn’t that right, Jack?”] Lily spoke up but it was also a warning for Jack not to overstep the mark. If they wanted to make this announcement, she needed Logan to at least tolerate Jack and not see him as the enemy!
Back at the Cull household, Martyn was sat in the living room with a scene laid out that was no different than any other day. There was paperwork and case notes sprawled out across the table, as well as stacks of books by his side. What made this different to any other morning was that Martyn wasn’t researching for a stranger trying to wangle their way out of a prison sentence - he was trying to build a case to protect his own family and the Sanders!
Hearing the door open, Martyn looked up from his chair to see Lisa, only to look back at the clock.
[+red “I don’t know how you do it Lisa. I lost my patience once Jack threw that bottle. He was lucky he stormed out when he did... are you ok? You look exhausted.”] Standing up Martyn poured the remainder of his tea pot into a fresh cup and brought it over to Lisa.
[+red “Was Lily ok?”] He asked, sensing there was already a story to tell but he knew Lisa would have questions of her own as the background noise of their daughter facing the consequences of intoxication echoed through the house.
[+red “She’s ok. She woke me up with the sound of wrenching but I suppose that’s a good sign...she’s awake and alive. Lisa...she... we need to be careful. We lost her trust for awhile, things have been going on which she hasn’t told us and I’m thinking, reluctantly, that we have to take a step back.”] Martyn explained as quickly as he could, not wanting to break Jesse to think that her parents had to plan and strategise how to fix broken trust! They already had a lack of emotional contact and after their chat in the car, he didn’t want that bridge breaking any further.
[+red “I know it is going to be hard but perhaps you need to stop reading her and I need to stop... I don’t know... talking? Persuading her life decisions. It’s why I haven’t gone to her without her calling. If she speaks up, I know she’ll need me, rather than me telling she needs me.”] Martyn tried to sum up but there was a clear disconnect. While he was able to act like a father, sometimes understanding the emotional reason behind why someone wanted something was a little harder. He was logical, he spoke his thoughts, persuaded people with the best interests in mind if he cared about them but this was different... this was his daughter and all he ever knew was to how to mentor. Now he had to let her make her own decisions.
[+red “I just needed you to know before she came downstairs. I mean it though Lisa, are you ok? Jack didn’t drink did he? You’ve been up all night, haven’t you?”]
[+green “Stop right there Lily. No buts. You were excited, so I want you to latch on to that. Next time you feel these anxieties or fears, I want you to close your eyes and think of that moment. Because no matter what else was happening in your life, you’re first instinct was to be excited to bring another child into this world. To bring a new life into your loving family. And if that makes you happy, Lily, then it will make Jack and Logan happy too. They love you, Lily. And they will love this baby. All the rest… we’ll figure it out as we go along.”] Lisa promised, allowing herself to be happy for Lily now that she knew this was what the other woman wanted. It wouldn’t be easy. Jack and Lily weren’t exactly financially stable, and babies were expensive. But no doubt once the word got to the rest of the Brats, they would have everything they needed. Lisa was sure she could convince Martyn to help with a donation if needed and she would certainly offer any support she could. It did mean, however, that they would have to put even more effort into setting things straight with Logan. Lily didn’t need the stress of her son being charged with assault on top of everything else, and if Lisa had to step in to be a mediator to get Jack and Logan on the same page, she would!
[+green “You’re not a burden Lily. I don’t think you realize how much you give back to my family. Martyn and I… Jesse means the world to us, but neither of us are good at expressing it. She hasn’t had a very warm and loving childhood. But you and Jack have welcomed her into your lives and given her the comfort and affection she could never get from us. The Street Brats may be a thing of the past, Lily, but I still consider you my family.”] Lisa told her, allowing herself to be a little more sappy than she usually was, but Lisa figured Lily might need the reassurance.
After a soothing cup of tea, she ushered Lily off to bed and took her place on the couch, skimming over case files and waiting for Jack to return. She was relieved he wasn’t drunk, but his emotional state was far from stable. It certainly wouldn’t be an easy discussion with Logan in the morning. Once Lisa did her duty and ensured it was safe to let Jack see his wife, she turned in for the night and trusted the two to handle things from here.
When Jack entered the room, he wasn’t sure Lily would even want to see him. He saw the disappointment in her eyes and winced, turning his own gaze to the floor in shame. What had he done? He yelled at her son! He cut Logan down after he promised Lily he’d go easy on the boy! And Logan was right, whether Jack was married to Lily or not, he wasn’t Logan’s real father. He had no right to step in like he did, especially when he took things so far. Then he threw that bottle, smashed the glass… oh god, he must have reminded Lily of his father! And without even checking on her, he stormed out and disappeared for hours without any explanation! He hadn’t scared her like this since that night Geoff died and Jack started drinking again. Jack wouldn’t blame her if she ordered him to leave right now! But Lily Sanders always seemed to surprise Jack. Instead of kicking him out, she placed her hand on his face, gently brushing the reckless injury. Jack closed his eyes to her touch, thinking once again how lucky he was to have her. When she thanked him for not drinking, he opened his eyes and met her gaze, wanting her to see the sincerity in his expression.
[#ff6622 “I promised you I wouldn’t.”] Jack said simply, as if that was all the reason he needed. He wouldn’t say it wasn’t a struggle. His throat itched with temptation, his hands trembled with need, and when he was gone, he had stood outside his old workplace with longing, knowing that everything he needed to satisfy his craving was inside. It would just take a bottle or two and he would go numb – no more pain, no more guilt, no more expectations. He had been so close to giving in… that’s why he called Tigan. That’s why he wound up taking a bus in the middle of the night to the next city over where his best friend was waiting for him. That’s why he yelled and cursed and shoved and punched, letting Tigan do the same until all that anger and pain was released and the need to drown his suffering had lessened. It wasn’t a healthy way to cope, but it was better than the booze. Jack left Tigan’s feeling calmer, more in control. He hugged his best friend, thanked him for knocking some sense into him, and left, catching the bus back home. All of this, just so he wouldn’t break his promise to Lily.
[#ff6622 “Lily, I… I’m so sorry…”] Jack started, but found his own apology cut off as she pulled his shirt over his head and led him back to the bed. Looks like he wasn’t sleeping on the couch tonight, so that was a good sign. But there was still something hidden in Lily’s eyes that Jack didn’t quite know how to read. He let her pull him down and drape his arm over her. After what she went through when she was a teenager, Jack always let Lily take the lead as far as physical contact was concerned, but he gave a sign of relief when she pulled his arm around her, clearly needing the comforting contact more than he was willing to admit. But then his wife did something a little out of character by moving his hand down towards her belly. He didn’t question the strange move at first, believing she was going to start into another lecture, but then he heard the two little words that shook Jack to his core.
The comforting embrace was torn apart and Jack bolted upright and turned to look down at his wife. His mouth was agape and his eyes were wide with shock – almost illuminated in the darkness of the bedroom. His hand, still resting against her stomach, began to tremble and Jack watched Lily’s face for any hint that what she said was real or just some illusion. His breath hitched in his throat, finally releasing in something that resembled a strangled sob. His eyes – seeing nothing but honesty and nervousness in Lily’s expression – slowly drifted down to where his hand as resting against her belly, before starting to well up and gradually breaking with a tear that rolled down his bruised cheek: he was going to be a father.
Jack finally snapped from his initial shock and clenched his teeth to hold back his reaction. He had always wanted a child of his own. Ever since he was a little kid, looking after his baby brother, Jack promised himself that if he were ever fortunate enough to be blessed with a child, he’d be a better father than Rick ever was. Jack’s dreams were crushed after Lily died and he fell into his pit of misery that deprived him the chance to raise Logan right. Jack thought he had failed and knew that with Lily’s trauma, he wouldn’t likely get another chance. He had mentioned it a few times over the years, but Lily had always explained she wasn’t comfortable having any more kids. Jack – despite his dreams of being a father – couldn’t put Lily through that trauma, so he had resigned to the fact that it just wasn’t meant to be. He loved her and if it was her choice not to have any more children, then he would support that. Even now, despite the emotion building in his chest, Jack almost didn’t want to dare let his hopes up before getting the answer to one important question:
[#ff6622 “Lily is this… Is this what you want?”] He asked, stumbling over the question, almost afraid to hear the truth.
For a brief moment, the reality of their situation seemed to dissipate from Jack’s mind. He forgot about losing his job, about the fight, about the potential assault charges, and all the family tension. For one brief moment, Jack let himself soak in the news that he was going to be a father. That there would be a Sanders child not raised in hate and violence, but born into all the love and support they deserve. That he could prove to himself and to the world that he could be a better father than Rick. That he and Lily could create something perfect together! And something finally broke through Jack’s expression. His lips turned up and his eyes brightened into a look of unbridled joy. He knew there were complications and hurdles ahead but for once in his life, Jack wanted to linger in the happiness of the moment and let all the worries and dread wait until tomorrow.
Jack leaned in and kissed Lily, letting all his love flow through that simple act, as his hand gently caressed her stomach and the new life within. With that, Jack let himself relax once more, lying down by Lily’s side and draping his arm over her in that gentle hug once again, knowing that whatever challenges awaited them in the morning – this alone would give him the strength to face them.
Or so he thought.
As the sun broke through the window, bringing with it the bright dawn of Saturday morning, Jack awoke with all the dread and concerns that had escaped him the night before. He was going to be a father… but what kind of father would he be? He hadn’t told Lily yet that he lost his job. His son was likely hung over from his trouble last night, and if their fight was any indication, Logan didn’t have any faith in Jack as a father figure. Then there was his anger problems, his tendency to over react, and his bad habit of becoming a voluntary punching bag every time he lost his cool. Lily was right, Jack had a lot to work on. He needed to pull himself together. Jack couldn’t afford another mistake like last night – he had to be better.
Jack rolled over, giving Lily a gentle peck on her cheek before he crawled out of bed. He went downstairs in time to see Lisa just putting on her jacket.
[#ff6622 “Heading home?”] He asked, a little relieved to see that Lisa wasn’t nearly as sharp as she had seemed the night before.
[+green “You can handle things from here. I need to check on Jesse and help Martyn get started on Logan’s defense. We might be able to make a case for teenage arrogance, underage intoxication, and provocation. Jesse will testify that the other boys were making threats and that Logan clearly perceived more danger than what was intended. No promises, Jack, but we’ll do our best. As for you…”]
[#ff6622 “I know… I know I need to do better.”]
[+green “Then stop making excuses, Jack. You’re the adult here, you need to start acting like it. Logan pushed your buttons, but you never should have reacted the way you did. Just don’t push things with Logan. He’ll still be raw from last night and if you try to fix things before he’s ready, you’ll only make things worse.”] Lisa advised, knowing that there was no easy fix to this, especially once Logan found out about the baby. There was a chance he’d see this as an opportunity, and thrive off the chance to be a big brother. But there was also a chance he’d see this as a way that Jack and Lily were trying to replace him, especially after the trouble he’d caused. The parents would have to be careful about how they handled this.
[+green “Tell Lily I’ll see her soon. Oh, and Jack? Next time you’re out looking for a punching bag, don’t use my brother-in-law.”] Lisa warned him sharply, annoyed that both Jack and Tigan seemed to be sporting fresh cuts and bruises every time one of them needed to cool off.
Jack started making breakfast and a fresh pot of coffee when Lisa left, wanting to make the extra effort this morning in hopes of buying himself some forgiveness. Lisa left the Sanders to their morning and took a taxi home, walking through the front door to the unpleasant sounds of Jesse getting sick in the washroom, and the cliché promises of: [i “I’ll never drink again!”] echoing through the halls.
Lily knew Lisa was right with a lot of what she was saying. The bottle was better smashed into a million pieces with the contents spilt all over the floor than in Jack’s possession. It was better that he left to calm himself down than destroy his relationship further with his son. But there was so many elements that Lily just couldn’t shake off. Her own past was a huge factor in all of this. She knew that a smashed bottle didn’t stop someone from gaining access to more liquor. Rick was the prime example, but even though this was different and she knew Jack wouldn’t lay a finger on her, she knew he had his own resources to getting his fix if he needed. She’d also seen how low an alcoholic could go and how self-destructive they could be. She had seen it first hand with her husband, then in her own job as a support worker with the AA group she helped. Lily was overly aware of the dangers, the tactics and Jack leaving the house didn’t give her any sense of hope. He would be in his prime state for a drink! He was feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt and rage. All Lily wanted was to hear Lisa promise that Jack would come back sober but of course even the most skilled reader in the world couldn’t offer false hope. All she could do was give Jack what he wanted... to give him more credit than what she perceived. She wished it was enough but their life was going to drastically change with a baby on the way and if he acted like this in front of Logan, would he ever change? It was a big ask. She adored Jack and would never leave his side but it only added to her list of ever growing doubts.
[+orange “It’s been building up. Logan has been getting in more trouble, he’s been avoiding Jack or making small comments... when Jack had his last episode it broke Logan. I know Logan had been drinking, I know he would have said things he didn’t mean and I tried to warn Jack but Logan will remember this. They were doing so well before all of this and... I just know this isn’t going to fix anytime soon. That’s what scares me. We have so much changing when we only just started adjusting and I’m trying not to show my weakness in front of Jack and Logan. I don’t want them to see me panicking and having these attacks... I’m almost glad Jack was so angry he didn’t see...”] Lily projected her thoughts, knowing they were jumping from place to place but she had been holding so much back. Then, in true McCleeve style, she was already feeling guilty again for off loading on Lisa.
She was going to further apologise for that as well before she felt further contact from Lisa. Lily knew Lisa wasn’t the most physical, so when the gestures were there she knew it was with true intent and purpose. Something she also found incredible about her friend was even though she wasn’t a silver tongue like Martyn, she always seemed to know what to say. Lisa was right. Despite the ways Jack received that scar and the self-inflicted pain he caused , he did it in a very messed up way of proving he was strong, and loyal, and that he cared and he loved Lily. Lily even joked when they got married, saying they didn’t need a wedding band because that scar was the evidence she needed that he would love and protect her, through sickness and in health and with all the other vows they made that day.
[+orange “Lisa Cull, I don’t know why you see the same in me because the day with Rick and Gordon, despite your own horrors you held me together.”] Lily still retracted but Lisa would have seen quite easily it would have been a loss in confidence. Especially with Lily’s next confession. Soon enough the Sanders would have another family member and that uncertainty was terrifying!
Her first thought as Lisa challenged her was how could she not think of everyone else? Just as they get some stability, everything gets shaken up, and now Lily was going to announce this news! Still, she did as she was told. She took a deep shaky breath, almost fearful to go back to the memory. All she could think of was when she found out she was pregnant with Logan. She resented the idea! She was terrified! As soon as she found out she begged everyone to put it to an end, to make it stop and she couldn’t do it. It was a moment she regretted. Logan was the light of her world, despite the trouble he caused, and she couldn’t believe her initial thoughts of him where of terror. Only as she closed her eyes and went back to the moment she found out she was pregnant this time around, even she could stop a small smile from crossing her lips. It was quick, but it was there.
[+orange “I was excited. I thought it would be a positive but then...”]
Lily didn’t have to say. She already aired all her concerns. She felt guilt for shaking the family up, for Logan, for Jack... she was excited but now there was so much doubt. She wanted this baby, to get things right, only now she wasn’t so sure that was possible.
Reopening her eyes, she saw Lisa’s grin at how Lily wasn’t so innocent either with her words and even she couldn’t help but grin in return.
[+orange “I think the boys should consider themselves lucky my hormones have changed... I guess that’s one perk of currently being a nervous wreck, they don’t have to listen to me snap... for now...”] She attempted to joke but her voice was still flat and empty.
[+orange “Thank you Lisa. I know I burden you with so much but thank you for always being by my side.”]
The hours ticked by and Lily tried to follow Lisa’s orders. She drank her cup of tea, she stayed up for a little longer but as she went to bed she just couldn’t sleep. She was restless, continuously looking at her bedside clock trying to listen out for when Jack would come home. Then she heard the door unlock and the exchange between Lisa and the voice she had been so desperate to hear. He sounded sober, but the moment she heard him there was a tightness in her chest and an anger that erupted. She was still tense about the night and as she heard his footsteps coming up the stairs, she pulled the blanket tighter and was almost tempted to pretend to fall asleep until the morning when she was more rationale.
Instead the door opened and she instantly made eye contact with her husband, her eyes filling with the same disappointment as when she saw him in the ditch. She quickly observed his fresh injuries, his ripped shirt and she bit her lip. What was there to say? He messed up? He broke her trust? He should have been stronger? Why the hell was he picking fights again? She could see the guilt in his eyes and with a heavy sigh, she pulled herself off the bed and onto her feet.
[+orange “I need to be having words with Tigan you keep using this as a way to cope.”] Lily spoke up, gently lifting her hand to his face and brushing her thumb over his split lip.
[+orange “But thank you for not drinking...”] She whispered, tracing her hand down his chest and helping him remove his scuffed up shirt.
Without speaking anything more she gently grabbed her husbands hand, pulled him down onto the bed and as they were laying down, she turned her back so it was rested against his chest and wrapped his arm around her in a gentle hug. She had so much she wanted to say but there was one matter that was on the top of her mind... she wanted to wait to tell Jack and Logan together but after everything that had happened and seeing the self-hatred in Jack’s eyes, she was quickly changing her mind. She closed her eyes again, this time moving her partners hand over her stomach and resting her hand on top.
[+orange “You need to start getting your act together Jack Sanders. We can’t do this anymore...”] She started, which to Jack would have probably have just sounded like a strict warning from his wife, but instead would be huge announcement that would change everything.
[+orange “I’m pregnant.”]
The words came out quicker than what she expected, almost too easily... yet the moment she said them her body tensed and her hand, on top of her husbands which was rested on her stomach instinctively squeezed tighter. He’d only just come home. He was broken. He was tired but Lily was tired of keeping it together. She was tired of keeping it a secret and most of all, she was tired of the arguments. After a night of chaos, she was hoping that somehow in some way this would bring a single second of joy before they both closed their eyes. Though as she waited for Jack’s response, she didn’t turn to face him. Instead she kept her back rested against him and almost locked him in place - waiting to hear the response she was most terrified of.
Lisa could only imagine how difficult this was for Lily. The two woman had similar stories: both abducted, torn away from their families, not sure whether they would ever live to see their loved ones again, forced to sleep with their captors, and consequently giving birth to the children of their tormentors. But Lisa had the benefit of playing her part for months before Gordon caught on to her act. She was treated as a volunteer, not a victim, and thus spared a lot of the rough treatment and abuse Lily suffered. Even when things finally ended and the women were rescued, Lisa’s suffering was nearly over. She had another child ripped away from her, just like Lily, but aside from that instance she was finally safe in the comfort of her family, with her beautiful daughter and the support of her partner by her side. Lily didn’t have that… at least not at first. And even when she was reunited with Jack and Logan, that had its own challenges. At one time Jack looked identical to his father, with only his soft, warm eyes and gentle voice separating the two. Now, with the scar running across his entire face and his matured features growing ever different from Rick, he only truly resembled the man when he was angry. But there was still that link Lily could never escape. She was living with the two sons of her worst nightmare. Constantly fighting the fear and anxiety that would send her directly back into the flashes of her past. All Lisa could do was try to be understanding and patient and help Lilly the best she could.
[+green “Lily… addicts are unpredictable. When Logan shoved that bottle at him, I was worried. I half expected him to bring it with him when he stormed out, but he destroyed the temptation instead. I know that was frightening, but believe it or not, that was a very good sign. It means he’s fighting very hard to stay sober. When he left, it didn’t look like he was going to drink. But I won’t make you any promises, Lily, I don’t know what will happen out there. But I can promise you this: he’s not coming back into this house unless he’s sober.”] Lisa insisted. Lily wanted to protect Jack, even from himself. But Lisa knew that bringing that drunken fool back inside would only add to the tension in their family. If Jack did drink tonight, it was better to keep him away from Lily and Logan until he sobered up.
[+green “Jack needed space Lily. Give him a chance to calm down. Logan didn’t mean to be so cruel, but he did strike a nerve with Jack. He questioned Jack’s ability to protect his friends and family, and rejected him as a father. And in turn, Jack proved him right by attacking his own son with words that were just as cruel. They both need time to calm down and reflect on what happened tonight.”] Lisa explained. She had already seen the guilt building in Jack before he stormed out and knew that if he did get into trouble tonight, it would be driven by pain and guilt, not anger. As for Logan, the boy had just been compared to his father and told that his one and only friend had suffered because of him. Those wounds weren’t easily healed, and no doubt as the alcohol left his bloodstream he too would feel the pain replacing the anger in his heart. Neither father nor son were too likely to trust one another any time soon and both would have to work at repairing that bond if they were going to fix what happened tonight. But none of that would be settled until everyone involved had some sleep and a chance to think about what happened.
When Lily apologized for her reaction, Lisa set her cloth down and took one of Lily’s hands, giving it a gentle squeeze of reassurance. Lisa had never really been one for physical affection, but that would only add more meaning to the gesture.
[+green “Lily, what you went through when you were young was deeply traumatic. It carved a wound into your soul no different than the slash Jack carved into his face. And just like that slash, it’ll heal, and scar, but never disappear. It’s a painful reminder of what you went through – some days you’ll barely even notice it, while other days feel as sharp as the day it happened. But when you look at Jack’s scar, you don’t see weakness or foolishness – you see strength. You see that scar as a reminder of how much Jack has overcome and what lengths he was willing to go for the people he loved. We see the same in you Lily. We know what you’ve had to overcome and the fact that you survived, that you came back, that you gave all of us another chance… that takes more courage and strength than you know.”] Lisa told her. This was one of the reasons she wanted to talk to Lily in private. Anyone who knew Lisa would hear such words and think she was going soft! But the truth was, the two woman shared a unique bond from their time in captivity. Lisa could dare to say that Lily was her one and only true friend aside from Martyn. But despite her bond with Lily and her skills at being a reader, even Lisa was blindsided by Lily’s announcement.
She watched carefully as Lily struggled with her confession, but once the words were spoken, everything became far more clear. Lily’s anxiety had been growing worse over the past few weeks leading to this panic attack tonight. At first Lisa thought it was just a fluke, but know she knew: a mix of hormones, parental concern, and PTSD as Lily relived some of the hardest times in her life! Neither of her previous pregnancies went as planned and both ended in tragedy. How was she to expect any different? Lisa couldn’t tell by the emptiness in Lily’s voice whether she wanted this child or not. Clearly this wasn’t planned and thought it would be a dream come true for Jack, who had always wanted a child of his own, it would be torture for Lily and a struggle for Logan. Besides, after the doubt cast on Jack’s ability to be a father tonight, this wasn’t exactly the best timing. What could have been a happy announcement, now carried far too much worry and uncertainty.
[+green “Lily, you spend so much time trying to make sure everyone else is happy, that you sometimes forget to think about yourself. I want you to forget about Logan, forget about Jack, don’t think about what they would want or how they would feel. I want you to think just about yourself, for once. Close your eyes, take a few breaths and think about this baby. Think about the moment you found out you were pregnant and tell me what was the first thing you felt? Dread or excitement?”] Lisa asked, wanting to ready Lily’s features as she explored her own feelings. If Lily’s initial reaction as dread, then they’d need to have a serious talk about whether she should keep this child. No matter how disappointed Jack might be, Lily needed to do what was best for her and the baby, and if that meant changing her mind about keeping the child, so be it. But if she felt excitement, despite all her fears and worry, then this was a matter of convincing Lily that everything was going to be ok. They would figure this out together if it meant giving this family a chance to truly be happy.
[+green “Logan doesn’t hate you Lily, he never will. He was angry and not thinking straight; he said some things he didn’t mean. If I remember correctly, you had the same problem as a child.”] Lisa said, grinning a little to show it was a light jab at Lily’s foot-in-mouth tendencies as a young teenager.
[+green “He loves you Lily and I think you’ll be surprised at how he reacts to being a brother. Trust me, Martyn wasn’t exactly thrilled when I told him I was pregnant and now look at him. That girl has him wrapped around her little finger! As for Jack… he and Logan have some things to work out. But you know Jack loves that boy like a son and whether Logan wants to admit it or not, he loves Jack too. He’s just afraid of getting hurt again.”]
It was well after 5am before Lisa heard the shuffle of footsteps leading up to the front door. There was a hesitation, before a timid hand turned the knob and opened the door. Lisa was wide awake and ready. She crossed the room in seconds, slamming her hand against the door frame to stop the man from entering. From her initial read, Lisa wasn’t impressed: Jack’s eyes were red and puffy, his hair messy, his cheek dark with a deep bruise from Logan, but there were other signs of a fight that were clearly not there when he left – a split lip and bruising above his eye. Jack’s knuckles were red and scraped, his shirt was scuffed and dirty, and the guilt and regret was emanating off him as he kept his eyes to the ground.
[+green “Did you drink?”] Lisa demanded, causing Jack to lift his red eyes and wince at the accusation.
[#ff6622 “Lisa, come on, I…”]
[+green “After the mess you caused to night, you don’t get any leniency Jack. You and Logan put Lily through hell and I won’t stand for it. You are not setting foot inside this house unless you’re sober, so look me in the eye and answer the question! Did. You. Drink.”] Lisa snapped back, showing some of the vicious side that was so rarely used outside of her Streetbrat days.
Jack sighed, knowing he wasn’t getting around Lisa. By this point, he was dead tired, guilt-ridden, and feeling like even more of a failure than when he left. All he wanted was to check on Lily, get some sleep, and hope by some miracle that these last few hours had been some sort of horrid dream. Reluctantly, he looked up at Lisa, letting her to read the truth, and to see that there was a more innocent explanation for his appearance.
[#ff6622 “I didn’t drink. I wanted to… but I didn’t. I called Tigan; let him knock some sense into me.”] Jack admitted and Lisa rolled her eyes. Tigan and Jack got in more fist fights than anyone in the Brats and somehow it always seemed to bring them closer. Those two had an oddly violent method of showing they cared for one another, but whatever seemed to work.
[ff6622 “Logan? Lily?”] He asked as Lisa reluctantly removed her arm and let him enter the house.
[+green “Logan’s asleep. Lily’s upstairs. You should check on her – she’ll sleep better once she knows your safe and sober. You really scared her, Jack. Don’t let it happen again.”] Lisa told him firmly. She knew there was more to the story. Jack had another crushing blow after he left the house, but from what she could tell it wasn’t anything that couldn’t wait until the morning. Finally, she let herself go to the guest room to catch an hour or two of sleep herself. Jack nodded his thanks to the reader before slipping off his shoes and heading up to the bedroom. He was fully expecting Lily to make him sleep on the couch tonight for all the damage he’d caused. He’d have to tell her about losing his job, but that was a conversation for the morning. Right now, he just wanted to tell her how sorry he was and to make sure she was alright.
[#ff6622 “Lily?”] he called in a soft, dejected tone, not sure if she was even still awake.
Jesse bit her lip when her father questioned her – a nervous habit she had picked up from Tessa and Lily over the years. Her father had an excellent point, her lies had been growing bigger: what was just a couple nightmares at first, turned to lying about the bullies, and finally covering up the fact that she was going to drink at this party tonight. Where would it have stopped if her father hadn’t caught her? Then came the truth of the fact that neither Lisa or Martyn really knew how to be parents. Lisa may have started in a happy home, but that all ended by the time she was 8 years old. From then on, she was on her own, never truly finding anyone aside from her partner that wanted her. Martyn was stripped of his loving family when he was just a toddler and lived a life of abuse for years until he was finally rescued. Even then, any happiness with his mother was short lived, and though he had found a common respect with his brother and sister, they weren’t exactly close. Even among the Street Brats, there were few families left intact, and even fewer ‘perfect parent’ role models to look up to. Martyn and Lisa were doing the best they could with what little information they had.
All that lack of experience, however, didn’t stop Martyn from finding his inner father. When he twisted Jesse’s words, putting a new spin on the very old threat, Jesse’s eyes snapped up to meet his with a wide, surprised look. She had never thought of it that was before, but Martyn was absolutely right! Her silence as a child almost got her mother killed. When she was a older, her reluctance to fight for herself got her banished from the family, nearly resulting in her own death as well as the downfall of the entire group of kids! And when she was trapped in that basement with Logan, Xena, and Carla, every one of them could have been killed had she not stood up to Antonio. Martyn was right – silence could get her and her loved ones killed! She should never have been such a coward.
[#aa0000 “I guess I have a lot more to fear by staying silent… I didn’t speak up tonight and because of that, both me and Logan were hurt.”] Jesse agreed, taking her father’s lessons to heart as she always did. There was still uncertainty in her eyes until she heard Martyn’s reassurance that he could never be disappointed in her. Jesse’s lips curled into a small smile, soaking in her father’s comforting words and allowing them to dissipate her fears and concerns. She let her father help her with her jacket, careful not to jostle her arm too much, and even those small gestured meant the world to the girl. Jesse didn’t need the higs and kisses to know her parents loved her. Even if the words went unsaid, she could read them in her parents’ eyes. But it was small things like this that proved how loved she was. Even Martyn’s half-offer to stay with her was enough to crack a smile of appreciation on the young girl’s face.
[#aa0000 “I’ll be ok. Thank you, Father.”] Jesse said and headed towards the stairs to go to her room. But just as she took her first few steps, Jesse paused and looked back at Martyn with a sincere expression in her eyes.
[#aa0000 “You know… you’re better parents than you give yourselves credit for. Tonight, even though I lied, and I drank, and I got into trouble, I still knew I could call you. I knew that, no matter how much trouble I was in, you’d come to help me. I was so scared tonight… not being able to use my skills, not having an escape from the bullies, and not being able to stop Logan… but as soon as you arrived, I felt safe again. I knew you’d protect me; that you’d make everything better.”] Jesse admitted, telling her father the honest truth behind her relief the moment he walked in the room. She may have been scared of disappointing him and ashamed of her bad behaviour, but there was no doubting the instant relief that crossed her mind the moment her father told her he was on his way.
[#aa0000 “I know I can always count on you. I know you’ll always find me and that you’ll do whatever it takes to make me feel safe again. Most kids my age don’t have that kind of relationship with their parents. I’m glad I do. I love you, father. Goodnight.”] Jesse told him, giving a last shy smile before she hurried up to bed to sleep off what was promised to be a very bad hangover the next morning.
Lily was taken back to her teenage years. The sound off the smashed bottle against the wall took her away from the moment, and back when she was trapped with Rick. Her body was tense, prepared for the next strike at any moment. She stiffened up in an attempt to not shudder at the next threat, for if she did then her baby would suffer. She could almost see him standing over her shoulder, demanding she cleaned up quicker so she could go back to his bedroom and...
The thought made her scrub the wall hard and fast, her breaths so short she was barely even able to gasp for air as the tears streamed freely down her cheeks but her eyes were fixed in shock. As she felt the grip on her wrists, she shook her head, almost attempting to tug away as the fear grew. He was going to hit her again! He was going to hurt her baby! He was going to drag her into that room!
It was only as Lisa spoke, that Lily was dragged straight back to reality and her locked in breath escaped as a pain filled sob, her still face breaking as all the pain came out. Her panic attacks hadn’t exposed themselves for years. She still had her nightmares and sleepless nights, but she thought she was past this! The argument between father and son however was the long forgotten trigger. It took a few minutes before Lily’s breathing equalled out and her cries calmed, but despite Lisa’s reassurances there was a doubt in her eyes.
[+orange “What if he doesn’t come back? Lisa is he going to drink? Did he look like he was going to drink? I need to know because if he is I can’t leave Jack out there! He’s been doing so well! I can’t let him mess up anymore, I can’t!”] Lily begged for an answer, knowing Lisa would be able to read if Jack was in any danger!
[+orange “I shouldn’t have let him go. I thought this would be easier... I thought everything would be ok! Scraping to give Logan a roof over his head, food, love and he still... I don’t know what to say to him anymore Lisa? I don’t know what to say to Jack. I’m sorry... I... I don’t know why it effected me so much...”] Lily apologised for her panic, lowering her gaze out of shame. Usually she would have just told Jack and Logan straight and split the two of them up herself! Why couldn’t she just get over the past and move on?
[+orange “Tomorrow morning was meant to be the day I told them...”] Lily started out of the blue, joining with Lisa as she returned to cleaning but with not nearly as much energy as what she carried before. There was a distance in her eyes, one far from happiness and one far from despair: in fact it was a terrifying in-between. Lily was numb. She didn’t know what to take of the news anymore.
[+orange “I’m pregnant.”] Lily said emptily only this time, as she said the words, there were fresh tears edging in her eyes.
[+orange “I was going to Jack’s work to tell him, then he came out with a bottle of wine and I thought the worst. Then he took me for food and... we haven’t had quality time in so long. He’s been working every day he can and so have I. I just got so lost... then I thought maybe when Logan come home and proved we could trust him that I could tell them both together. I was hoping it might give Logan a reason to get on the straight and narrow and give Jack...I dunno... I don’t even know anymore... now Logan is going to think he’s being replaced, Jack will doubt if he can even be a father... I thought I could have a happy announcement for once....”] Lily admitted, leaning back and resting her hand on her stomach.
She had been so careful with Jack. She had pushed back again and again every time he asked if they could try for a child of their own. She felt guilty but Lily never thought she could bring another life up. One child had the worst beginning, the other was missing and now they had a home they could barely afford - she just wanted to give Logan the best life they could. Yet they had one night, Lily wasn’t thinking straight. She let loose and then a couple of weeks later, she started to feel sick. As soon as she found out she wanted to tell Jack, but there was so many questions in her mind. Now those questions were coming forward even more. How could they afford to bring up another life? How would Logan react? Would Jack run away? Would she be able to manage?
[+orange “I don’t think anything is going to get better Lisa. I know Logan. He’ll hate me. He’ll hate Jack even more and after tonight... I don’t know what to do.”]
Martyn was ready to interject Jesse as she made her first explanation. While there had been enough lectures for one night, he had to get Jesse to see the danger she put herself in! Martyn might have had his frustrations with Logan but the blame couldn’t entirely be put on his shoulders. Jesse was an intelligent girl, capable of making her own decisions. Martyn was also very aware that she would have made the decision to drink; not just one but enough to make her inebriated! She was also aware exactly what her lies could do, but as Martyn opened his mouth he paused as he watched his daughter try to get out her own thoughts. He might not have been as good of a reader as his wife, but he knew his daughter. She had been made terrified to speak, that much was clear, so he wasn’t going to interrupt as she was clearly preparing the courage to speak up. What she explained was far from what her father expected.
He listened with intent, his eyes falling down to the wedding band on his finger. For so long he thought he was getting it right. After giving Jesse away on the day she was born he swore when he got her back he wouldn’t let her get hurt. So he did try to guide her through life. He did ask Lisa on repeated occasions what Jesse was thinking and he always demanded eye-contact. It had kept his little girl safe in the only way he knew how... he wasn’t a fighter, he wasn’t strong and he certainly wouldn’t be able to defend her physically but if he could get her to make the right decisions, then surely he was getting it right?
It seemed he was getting it completely wrong. Martyn and Lisa never had normal childhoods. They never knew what it was like to have a normal family and the closest they got to witness was when they were working with the Brats and finally when they had Jesse.
So to hear they had stripped her of her independence and normality of a teenager was striking. Not only that but it ended up with Jesse hiding small truths from her parents. That’s what hurt most. Martyn wasn’t the most affectionate father and he was conscious of that, but he really hoped his words could provide his daughter comfort. It seemed it was only pushing her away.
[+red “And how long until those white lies turned into something more Jesse? It starts with the small secrets, then it turns bigger and then when it is too late, there is nothing I can do. Have I really been taking away so much from you?”] Martyn asked again but he didn’t need an answer, it was more confirmation for himself!
[+red “Jesse, all me and your mother want for you is the best. That’s all we have ever wanted. All your lies are important to me because it is one less thing I understand in how I can help! Imagine if you didn’t tell me this tonight. What would I have been able to do? I know it might be too late, and I don’t expect you to not lie overnight but please Jesse, you have to give me and your mother more of a chance. We never got to be kids. We had to grow up quickly. You’re teaching us.”] Martyn explained but there was a more pressing matter on his mind.
[+red “As for your nightmares and what the bullies say, how about I put a different perspective on it: words might get you hurt but silence will get you or those you care about killed.”] Martyn shared his belief, having been exposed to that damaging truth on more occasions than he could count. When he withdrew, didn’t speak up, that’s when his own life or the lives of others were at risk.
[+red “I hate to speak like a Street Brat, we are beyond that life now, but tonight showed it. Those bullies hurt you because you couldn’t speak up. You will never disappointment me Jesse. I just want what’s best and if you need me and your mother to back off, we will do our best.”] Martyn promised before starting the engine and driving Jesse home. As they arrived, Martyn looked up at the clock. It was early hours and he was exhausted so he couldn’t imagine how his daughter was feeling. Stepping forward he helped Jesse take her jacket off, being extra cautious with her broken wrist.
[+red “Get yourself to bed. Do you...”] Martyn was about to ask if she wanted him to come up, or if there was anything he could do to try and ease her nightmares but he had to trust she could make her own decisions. She would speak up if she needed him.
[+red “You’ll wake up not feeling too good in the morning. You know where I am Jesse. Goodnight.”]
[i I proved I’d protect mu friend… more than what you do…]
Either Logan didn’t realize the impact of his words or he was being purposefully cruel and malicious. Jack’s greatest failures in life boiled down to him not being able to protect the people he cared about. First, his big sister was beaten to death right in front of him, then baby Larry nearly died in his arms. He met the Stings and watched as his leaders and the other young children were targeting, hurt, and sometimes killed while he stood powerless to stop them. As he grew older and learned to fight, it still wasn’t enough. Tigan was tortured by his worst fear, Cole was shot, Kira lost her arm, the twins were kidnapped and tortured, Lily was captured, raped, beaten, and nearly killed more than once, his brother Larry was arrested, his half-brothers were neglected and targeted, Frank and Geoff were killed… And Jack couldn’t stop any of it. He was useless, no matter how he tried to protect them, he failed.
Any of the self-confidence and self-assuredly Lily had tried to build up in Jack over the years was crumbling and that self-loathing pit returned with every word. This was the same emotional torment that drove Jack to drink after Lily was ‘killed’. It was the same helplessness that took over a few years ago when he learned about Geoff’s murder. It was the turning point where Jack’s outward rage turned inward, targeting his own depreciating self for the failure he had been his whole life. Rick and Susan had drilled it into their son’s head since he was a toddler and that message had never truly left him. It was why whenever Cole or Tigan used to try to snap some sense into Jack, it never worked the way they wanted it too. Most people would expect jack to fight back against these insults and accusations, but he just absorbed them, letting them cause enough emotional pain to compensate for his lack of physical feeling.
[#ff6622 “So this is all my fault? I taught you to steal, so you try to get me fired. I screwed up my life with drinking, so now you drink just to prove a point. I couldn’t protect the people I loved, so you’re picking fights to show you can. So what’s going to make you fall back in line Logan? You want me to leave? You want me out of your life, is that it?”] Jack demanded, wanting to know what was at the heart of all of this. He loved Logan but he truly believed that love was one-sided. And he had learned a long time ago with Lily, that just because you love someone doesn’t mean they will love you back. Sometimes it’s better to give them space and protect them from afar. He wouldn’t abandon Lily, he cared too much about her and he knew she was still struggling to adjust to this new life. But just because he was a part of Lily’s life, didn’t mean he had to impose himself on Logan’s, especially if it was his own involvement that was making matters worse.
As the fight continued to build, Jack’s rational mind was lost in the pain and anger that swirled around him. He was blinded and deafened by Logan’s cruel words to the point where he didn’t even notice Lily’s panic attack! His own nails dug deeply into his palms as he fought every instinct to lash out – but when the first punch was thrown it didn’t come from Jack. The fist collided with his jaw with such force it snapped jack’s head to the side. His lip split on impact and a large red smudge covered his cheek with what would soon be an impressive bruise. The pain from a punch like that should have been enough to snap the man out of his craze, but with Jack unable to feel anything, he just turned back to his son with those same cold eyes, watching Logan take the rest of his anger out on the table. It was only then that Jack finally saw something that shook him out of his state. He saw the tears in Logan’s eyes and he knew he was the one who caused them. Jack had sworn never to hurt his son, and although he never laid a hand on the boy, he knew he had broken his promise. Jack should have known better – he should have known that emotional damage was just as bad. What he just said to Logan was no less abusive than a punch. With Lisa’s advice to take a walk, Jack didn’t hesitate. He needed to get out of there before he did anything else that he’d regret.
Jack stormed out of the house and didn’t stop walking until he reached the park several blocks away from the house. He was still fuming, but now the guilt was setting in and as Jack replayed the fight in his mind, the thought of what he had shouted at his son was making him sick! He pulled out his phone, needing to talk to someone – anyone! But as he glanced at his phone he noticed a missed message, clearly forgotten between the lovely evening he had with his wife and the miserably fight he just had with his son. Pressing
‘Play’ on his voicemail, Jack listened to another crushing blow to his character:
[i “Jack… It’s Tom. Listen, I hate to do this to you, Kid. You seem like a nice guy – maybe a little too nice. I just checked the inventory and found out we’re missing a few bottles of vodka. I warned you about letting those thieves go with a warning. Either they slipped back in when you weren’t paying attention or… well, I’d hate to think you just let them away with it, but I’ve never seen anyone slip anything by you before. Look Jack, I hate to do this, but I don’t have a choice. You’re fired, Jack. I’ll pay you out the next two weeks, but… don’t bother coming back in. I’m sorry Jack, but I did warn you. I can’t let this slide anymore.”]
By this point, Jack felt numb. ON top of everything else, he was going to have to tell Lily he lost his job. They were barely covering the mortgage payments now, but without a steady income week by week… Logan was right: he really was a disappointment as a father.
After Jack stormed out and Logan shouted his last stabbing insults before charging up the stairs, Lisa turned to Lily to console her, only now realizing the state she was in!
[+green “Lily? Lily, look at me. Keep your eyes on mine, alright? Deep breaths.”] Lisa said gently, having seen this before – but never after a confrontation with her husband and son! She stepped over to Lily, but was pained to see the young woman go directly to the mess of red wine and shattered glass and start to clean, just like she had done years before in Rick’s house during those dreadful dinners with Rick and Gordon.
[+green “I’ll be fine Martyn. I just need some time alone with Lily. I’ll spend the night here – I don’t want to leave her alone when she’s like this. And as for Jack – he’s not stepping a foot back inside this house until I know he’s calmed down. Take Jesse home, I’ll see you in the morning.”] Lisa whispered to her partner, not wanting Lily to overhear the concern in her tone. Lisa shared a meaningful look with Martyn, expressing her gratitude for his own concern and a reassurance that everything would be ok.
When Martyna dn Jesse left, Lisa grabbed a cloth of her own and went over to Lily, gently taking the young woman’s wrists in her own hands to stop her from cleaning and make her look Lisa in the eyes.
[+green “Lily, you’re safe. Take a deep breath for me. I need you to focus on slowing your breathing, alright? Rick is dead. Logan’s upstairs. You’re safe. And Jack won’t set a foot inside this house until you’re ready, ok? I know what just happened was scary. But Logan and Jack… neither of them were in the right frame of mind. Logan was drunk and angry, and Jack was scared and guilt-ridden. Neither one handled the situation well, and if you want me to, I can talk to them for you. But I think what we all need right now is some rest. Let me help you clean this up, then we can have a nice, soothing cup of tea and get some sleep. Everything will be better in the morning.”] Lisa offered, starting to wipe up the chattered glass and red spill so Lily wouldn’t have to do it all herself.
Jesse climbed into the back of the car with her eyes downcast and her splinted wrist tucked tightly in to her chest. She was dreading the coming conversation with her father, but knew there was no way around it. While her mother always knew when she was hiding something, she had a much harder time convincing Jesse to talk. Martyn, on the other hand, had an uncanny ability to get anything out of his daughter when he wanted to and this would be no different.
She was expecting a direct question, maybe even a lecture, but the one thing Jesse wasn’t expecting was to glance up and see the self-doubt in Martyn’s eyes. Great, now even her father was hurt by her actions tonight!
[#aa0000 “It’s not… I didn’t… I’m sorry father. I shouldn’t have lied to you, I just… I knew you and mom wouldn’t allow me to go to this party, especially if you knew I was being bullied by some of the other students attending. This was important to Logan and I didn’t want him to go by himself. I didn’t think it would go so wrong… I let the alcohol affect my skills and… I put us both in danger.”] Jesse admitted, letting Martyn know that she fully blamed herself for this, not Logan.
[#aa0000 “I…”] Jesse considered her next answer carefully. She wanted to be honest with her father, but she was afraid that admitting the truth now would only get her into more trouble. At this point, however, Jesse had seen the trouble her own lies could cause and had no interest in keeping her father in the dark any longer.
[#aa0000 “It’s not easy being a teenager in a house with the best silvertongue and reader in the city. Mom reads me too much, it’s invasive. She knows everything before I can even tell her and it’s not… it’s not fair. And you’re so persuasive when we talk that sometimes I don’t know whether my decisions are really [i my] decisions, or if they’re ones you’ve planted in my mind. So, last year I started hiding things… not big things, just little white lies.”] Jesse admitted, showing that their ‘perfect family’ had challenges of its own. Jesse respected and loved her parents more than anything, but it wasn’t easy for a teenager to have so little privacy and agency, especially when so much of their lives were lies and secrets already!
[#aa0000 “I didn’t tell you about the bullies, because I thought I could handle it. And I didn’t tell you about the party because I was worried you’d tell Jack and Lily. And I… I’ve been having nightmares about Gordon again. Some of what the bullies say to me reminds me of his threats, and it makes me dream about the torture. I… I didn’t want you and mom to worry, so I kept it to myself. But I don’t lie to you about anything important, I promise! I just… I didn’t want to disappoint you.”] Jesse admitted, trying to prove she was being honest now, even if she was reluctant to do so. Her mother and father were so strong and brave, even in the face of their own weaknesses and fears that she didn’t want to disappoint them by admitting she was just a cowered and an outsider with no friends other than Logan.
Lily was half-taken back when Jesse snapped at her, though the relief that her son hadn’t caused his best friend any pain instantly took away that shock. Out of all of this, if he turned on someone he cared about, Lily wasn’t sure how they would ever get past this. Still, Jesse wasn’t the kind to have a sudden outburst. She was intelligent, calm, composed: something Lily dreamed of in her own home on some days and she was praying for it today!
[+orange “I believe you Jesse, it’s ok. I just had to check. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen our children hurt like this. You can’t blame me for wanting the facts.”] Lily justified her questioning, finalising Jesse’s splint and making sure her wrist was secure. As much as she was trying not to rush Jesse’s treatment, the beginning of her own son’s rant was showing that Lily’s prayer wouldn’t be answered. This was far from the intelligent, calm, and composed conversation she was hoping for!
Logan was fully prepared to cut his brother down. If Logan was sober and was facing the same confrontation, he might have made a few snide remarks but he never would have pushed Jack’s buttons! In fact he probably would have taken the lecture, rolled his eyes, and accepted whatever punishment his parents threw at him! Not that it would have kept. He would have been sneaking off and back to his old ways before they could get a grip, but that would have been better than this. He wasn’t in control of his emotions or feelings. The alcohol was pulling on every negative feeling he carried, snapping the delicate threads that held them in place and forcing them out in a way that would cut anyone down! All his fears, concerns, angers, and upsets were all being directly thrown at Jack. What he was tonight was everything he wanted to avoid. He knew in life he wasn’t easy. He knew he was a jerk, a trouble-maker, a hard-to-look-after-kid, but at least he had his morals. Now those morals didn’t exist, clouded by alcohol and rage. It was a dangerous combination in a household bonded together by trauma. So when Jack demanded that Logan kept his attention on him and not Lily, Logan was all the more happy to oblige.
[b “Learned your lesson? I swear you said that when I was younger. Oh and then you screwed it up and fell in a ditch! So how long is your next streak going to be? Couple more years until the next Jack explosion? Wonder when mum will have her next nervous breakdown because of you drinking. You always disappointment us. MAYBE that makes you my dad! Because you are one big disappointment! That’s the category for this family, right? Fathers who are fucking useless. I don’t have to prove anything! Tonight I proved I’d protect my friend... more than what you do...”] Logan retorted though with the beginning of the comparisons against Rick, the red mist was growing thicker in front of Logan’s own vision. How dare Jack even say he had to prove he wasn’t like Rick! He had one night of drinking and he had fun doing it. Maybe he would do it again? Maybe he could make this a trend and see how long it took to drive Jack away completely.
The day Logan stole the vodka he was supposed to be in detention. He’d snuck out, having made a deal with some of the people going to the party that if he could steal some booze for them, they’d persuade Hudson and Arthur to offer him an invite. He snuck to the shop, watching as Jack was throwing out some other kids attempting the exact same thing. Jack was so distracted lecturing the other kids of the consequences, he had no idea Logan had slipped right behind him and grabbed multiple bottles from the shelf, avoiding all CCTV along the way. Logan didn’t remember it now, but in the moment he felt the worst guilt he felt for a long time. He knew it was wrong. He knew Jack would be disappointed but right now that wasn’t showing. Instead his attempts to piss Jack off as much as he could only brought that horrible little grin to his face, almost close to laughing as he watched the horror in Jack’s eyes.
[b “Well you must have been a pretty shitty teacher to have a pretty shitty student. Looks like I learned how to be a screw up from the best.”] Logan threw back, laughing as he watched Jack start to tremble. He was almost daring Jack to throw a punch. Maybe a fight could solve this once and for all and Logan even prepared his stance to throw the first swing if he had to...
[+orange “That’s enough! Both of you! Jack this is what I warned you about and Logan, enough!”] Lily tried to intervene, hating how destructive they were both being! This family was all they had! After everything they had been through she couldn’t understand why Jack was allowing himself to get sucked into all this!
[b “Jack said to stay out of it so stay out of it! This is between me and the big brother!”]
Then before everyone knew it, everything escalated. The bottle smashed against the wall, causing Lily to scream out as she watched Jack’s rage. It was instant. She was taken straight back to her time with Rick, threatening her son, threatening her. Amidst all the chaos, Lily froze, her chest restricting and her eyes wide in the middle of a panic attack. Though no one noticed. Martyn was preparing to try and talk Jack down, Lisa was trying to stop the madness, Jesse was just as shocked and Logan and Jack were squaring against one another!
Logan hadn’t shifted. There was no fear as Jack threw the bottle. Instead it just made him more intense and as Jack announced his own truth, Logan chewed the inside of his lip so much that his teeth were stained red with blood as he split the inside. What was pure anger, was turning into another emotion... pain. Logan had been expecting many things but to target the only friendship he had was beyond even his emotional strength. He was protecting Jesse! They called her Princess. Logan knew what happened after those words... . He thought the one thing he got right in his life was his friendship with Jesse but now Jack was pulling on all his insecurities. Just as Jack finished, and before Lisa could fully intervene, Logan pulled his fist back and threw one punch towards his brothers face. It was quick and sharp, but before Logan could tell if he made an impact or not he slammed his fist against the kitchen table with a vicious ‘crack; of his knuckles echoing the room as he broke them further. There was no physical pain on his face, but the emotional tears were there. As Jack left, Logan shot a dark glare towards his mother.
[b “If you didn’t screw every alcoholic in town, maybe our family would be normal.”] He hissed, storming away from the kitchen and into his bedroom. Another door slammed and the walls shook as he could be heard punching the walls, before a near silence filled the house...
The only noise breaking that silence was Lily’s breathing. She was choking on his own breath, trying to restrict her panic attack but ultimately, making it worse. Her face was red with her own anger, the tears freely falling down her cheeks as a mix of everything combined. She was facing the traumas of her past again, almost seeing Rick standing in front of her. She was terrified Jack was going to go out and have a drink to calm himself down, only to rile himself up again! She was scared for her son, scared for the Cull’s, and ultimately that McCleeve guilt was pressing down so hard on her, her physical posture was slumped over. Instead of saying anything, or acknowledging anyone else in the room she did the only thing she knew how to do... she grabbed a cloth and went over to the wine splatter, attempting to start cleaning it, just like she would have done with Rick after an extreme situation. He ordered her to clean, so she would clean...
Even Nova whimpered with concern as she watched Lily go into auto-pilot, her ears lowered and her tail between her legs...
[+red “Lisa, you call me if anything happens. Jesse, come on. You can speak to Logan tomorrow.”] Martyn ordered, knowing that if he didn’t make the offer for Jesse to speak to her friend at some point, she would be too concerned and distracted for the rest of the night. Resting his hand on her back, he escorted her out, giving Lisa one last look to make sure she could handle the situation before heading to the car.
As he climbed in however, Martyn didn’t start the engine straight away. Instead he stared at the rear-view mirror, observing his daughter for a few minutes before turning around and looking at her with those steely eyes.
[+red “I’ve been your father and your mentor. I’ve tried to teach you right for a long time Jesse... I saw you stand up for Logan against Lily. You used your words. You were brave and you said your truth. My question is Jesse, how can you say the truth then, but lie to me?”] Martyn asked but there was no anger in his voice, no disappointment... instead there was just the sheer desire to understand. He knew he wasn’t a perfect father, but what had he done so wrong for his own daughter to lie to him?
[+red “I thought we had enough of a bond that we could respect one another and at least be honest. Have you lied to me before Jesse? Do you take advantage of the fact that I can’t read you like your mother can? I need to understand. This is serious Jesse. You understand that? So help me understand you.”] Martyn spoke with a bit more demand, though as always his composure whilst speaking was perhaps something Jack could learn from. Jesse would be able to see the true intent. She would see the self-doubt, the hurt... but there had been enough pain caused tonight, he refused to watch his own relationship suffer like Jack and Logan.
[+red “This is going to be a long night Jesse unless you tell me the truth. I can’t read you, so I’m really hoping you won’t lie to me again.”]
[#ff6622 “I know Martyn. I know that look in his eyes – I’ve seen it far too often in the mirror. I’m sorry Jesse got wrapped up in this. But thank you for bringing Logan home safe.”] Jack said, father to father. He knew Martyn’s patience must be growing thin, especially when his own daughter was getting hurt because of Logan’s antics, but Jack didn’t know where they’d be without the Martyn’s support over the years.
[#aa0000 “It wasn’t Logan!”] Jesse spoke up suddenly, almost snapping at Lily when she saw the unspoken question in the mother’s eyes. As soon as she realized her own sharp tone, Jesse lowered her eyes again sheepishly. With the amount of trouble she was already in, the last think Jesse needed was to be taking back to the adults, but she hated when they jumped to conclusions about her best friend. Jesse knew Logan better than anyone and she knew he’d never hurt her. Logan only did what him did because he was trying to protect her!
[#aa0000 “It was an older boy from school. I broke it when he pushed me down the stairs. Logan was protecting me.”] She stated insistently, as Lily took a closer look at her arm. There was already quite a bit of bruising and swelling around the broken bone, but it was a minor break – a few weeks of healing and Jesse would be fine. The more pressing matter was Logan and it sounded like that was already off to a bad start.
Jack’s glare darkened when Logan gave his reasoning for going to the party. He knew that the incident several years ago had cost him Logan’s respect, but he didn’t realize it had caused this much damage. It sounded like Logan help Jack in about as high regard as he did his father! In the boy’s mind they were both drunk, violent monsters and he was doing everything he could t distance himself from them. Tragically, tonight proved that Logan had the same unfortunate traits as the rest of his cursed bloodline: Anger and Alcohol. It was one thing for Logan to not want to be like Jack – in fact, that was perfectly fine with him, since Jack didn’t want Logan to turn out like him either! If the boy could avoid becoming the same screw up his older brother was, all the better! But it hurt far more than Jack wanted to admit to hear Logan say that Jack wasn’t his father. As far as Jack was concerned, Logan was his son, and to hear that love only went one way was heartbreaking to the man who would never have any real children of his own.
[#ff6622 “Don’t speak to your mother that way! You want to vent your anger, you keep it focused at me, Logan.”] Jack hissed, not wanting Logan to damage the relationship he had with his mother. Lily had put up with enough bullshit from Jack’s own drinking problem, she didn’t deserve to suffer the same from her own son!
[#ff6622 “I made mistakes, Logan. I’m sure as hell not perfect, and I know it! But I am not going to hit you and I am not going to drink. I’ve learned my lesson. But I sure as hell thought you were smart enough to learn from my mistakes instead of making the same ones yourself! You want to hate me for drinking? You want to shove all my screw ups in my face? Fine! But don’t go out there and do the same damn thing! If you want to be better than Rick? Better than me? The prove it!”] Jack growled back, starting to lose his handle over his emotions. Things were getting heated and everyone in the room knew it. Even as Logan stepped up to Jack, looking like he was seconds away from throwing a punch, Jack showed no sign of backing down. He hoped Logan wasn’t so far gone that he’d start swinging at family, but even if he was, Jack preferred it be him that was hit instead of anyone else. At least with Jack’s resistance to pain, he wouldn’t have any more than a bruise to worry about.
But as Logan shot down Martyn’s advice to let this rest and pushed even further, Jack started to realize it wasn’t the punch he needed to fear from Logan! Not only did he lie, break the rules, sneak out, get drunk, and get into a fight, but he stole from Jack’s own store and the little shit was proud of it! Jack’s eyes widened and he looked like he had been slapped! Logan stole from him! He stole from his own father brother! Jack thought back to his boss’s words today at work and he felt a pit settling in his stomach. Tom was already frustrated with Jack from letting the thieves go with a warning, knowing it left those kids open to coming back and stealing again. He had made it very clear that the next time it happened, Jack would be out of a job. Yet here was Jack’s own kid stealing from his store! If Jack’s boss found out, he could be fired! It was hard enough for an ex-con and former street brat like Jack to find work, but it he lost his job for letting a thief into the store, he’d be screwed! How was he going to provide for Logan and Lily if he got fired! And what’s worse: Logan claimed that was the ONLY thing Jack taught him? Jack may not have been father-of –the-year, but he put his heart and soul into raising that boy! And now it seemed all of that was for nothing!
[#ff6622 “You must have been a pretty shitty student if that’s all you took from what I taught you! I taught you to only steal what you needed to survive. I taught you to NEVER make someone else suffer for the sake of your own greed, and I taught you that it’s your choices that determine who you are, not your bloodline! And based on your choices tonight, I’d say that like it or not, you are well on your way to being a screw up just like me!”] Jack snapped back, losing more and more control with every word. His shoulders were trembling and his fists were clenched tightly at his side. He completely forgot Lily, Martyn, Lisa, and Jesse were in the room since his full attention was focused on Logan. Jack felt the rage building in his own mind, twisting and warping the pain into anger, creating his own wall of red across his vision. Jack’s breathing was deep and shaky, just like Logan’s until even Lisa couldn’t tell which of the two was closer to snapping!
If there was one thing Logan did inherit from Rick it was his ability to find a person’s weakest spot and keep stabbing at it until they finally broke. For Jack, it was the cruel truth that he wasn’t Logan’s father and it seemed that in the boy’s eyes, he never would be. Jack loved Logan like his own son; he’d raised him, cared for him, protected him… very nearly died for him and had no regrets, because he loved that boy so much. But for a man who couldn’t feel physical pain, Jack could imagine Logan taking a knife and slowly driving it straight through his chest with every word! It just reconfirmed Jack’s greatest fears: that he was a monster, that he didn’t deserve to be loved, that he would never be the father he always wanted to be, that he had failed everyone he cared about. And when that bottle was shoved into his chest, Jack finally snapped.
[+green “Jack!”] Lisa’s sharp warning rang out just seconds before Jack ripped the bottle from Logan’s hands, turned on his heels, and hurled the bottle towards the opposite wall with an enraged shout! The sudden burst of anger shocked the room as the bottle struck the wall and shattered, spilling red wine down the starch white walls in a violent contrast that looked unsettlingly like a spray of blood. The instant the bottle left his fingers, Jack’s hands curled in his own hair, struck with the instant regret and shame of losing control and proving Logan’s point. He took a deep breath that did very little to calm himself, before turning on Logan once more. His eyes were dark, cold, and hard – lacking the soft, caring warmth that separated Jack from his father. In fact, right now, Jack looked more like Rick than he had in years!
[#ff6622 “I wanted the truth, Logan, but now I see you’re the one who needs to hear it.”] Jack said in a chilling voice that matched his eyes. It was enough to prompt a nervous whine from Jesse and a warning glare from Lisa. The readers knew where this was going and both were concerned it was closing the line. Martyn had warned Jack that Logan wasn’t acting like himself, but now the same could be said for Jack!
[+green “Jack, stand down.”] Lisa cautioned, but her warning went unheeded. Jack didn’t even show signs of hearing her! Instead, he squared up to Logan and lowered his fists to his side.
[#ff6622 “You think you’re protecting Jesse? You’re the reason she was in trouble in the first place, Logan! She wouldn’t have even been at that party if you hadn’t dragged her along! Look at her Logan! That fear in her eyes has nothing to do with that asshole who pushed her down the stairs and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that YOU lost control tonight! You could have KILLED someone Logan! And we’re not talking about the murderous scumbags that used to torture and abuse the Street Brats, we’re talking about a schoolyard bully! A teenager! And you think he deserved it? You know who else used to beat little kids to death when they acted out? Your father!”] Jack snapped back with words he would most certainly regret once all of this was over. If Jack had been thinking clearly, he never would have dared to compare Logan to the monster that sired them, nor would he have been so harsh about Logan’s actions. Jack had always tried to be more understanding and compassionate as a way to prove he was a better father than Rick could ever be, but Logan’s words had pushed him far past his better judgement and now he too was lashing out!
[#ff6622 “You think you’re a good friend to Jesse? You think you’re the one protecting her? Well let me ask you this Logan: the bullies that hurt Jesse, were they coming after her? Or were they using her to punish you? Because from where I’m standing, all I see is you dragging that innocent little girl into your own bullshit, and hoping she’s going to be able to get you both out of it! And one of these days, you’re going to get her killed!”]
[+green “That is enough!”] Lisa snapped, finally having to intervene because she could see in Jack’s eyes he was far from finished and this was only going to get darker and darker. She stepped in between the two, literally shoving Jack back away from his little brother.
[+green “Jack, go for a walk, you need to calm down.”] Lisa insisted pointedly, not wanting Lily to have to see any more of this darker side to her husband. She knew that Jack just needed space and he’d be fine – probably beating himself up for what he said to Logan. But this needed to end now before either one of them were pushed any further.
[+green “Martyn, why don’t you take Jesse home and get some rest? I’ll stay with Lily and help her clean up.”] Lisa said, shooting her partner a clear look that only he would understand: she wasn’t going to leave Lily alone and defenseless in a house with two of Rick’s sons both ruled by their current anger. She could stay and lend her support, while keeping Logan and Jack at peace, and it would give Martyn a chance to make sure Jesse was alright. Jack, finally seeming to accept Lisa’s advice, backed away from his brother and left the house, slamming the door behind him.
Lily instantly regretted what she had said. Jack didn’t deserve that thrown at him. He had been doing well and stepped up even more as a father! It was just the sudden shock of what she had heard and the instant fear. She wished she could have taken it back, but it was too late. Instead she shot Jack an apologetic look, as much as she could with all the guilt that had swallowed her whole in the moment.
[+orange “I’m sorry Jack... I know you would never hurt him again. I know you love him. I just.... yeah, you’re right...”] Lily couldn’t say anything further. She already crossed a delicate line but as always with Jack, he was right there by her side. As she felt the gentle kiss on her cheek, she felt some of that weight of guilt fall from her shoulders. It was a continuing surprising effect that Jack had on her, but it was one she would be eternally grateful for.
Slipping out of the bed, she grabbed her dressing gown and headed to the medic supply she had. While her life was no longer with the Street Brats, she didn’t falter with keeping her supplies up.
The only movement in the back of the car that Logan made was making was the deep heaving of his chest as he continued to try and calm himself down. His eyes didn’t move from the back of Martyn’s headrest, and his entire body was stiff. It was only as Jesse rested her hand on top of his that he turned and looked at her for a brief second, letting his eyes show just how much his aggression came from his past being triggered. Also how scared he was for her safety! Though it was only for a split second and the moment passed quickly as he returned to his rage, the rest mist refusing to clear.
As the car pulled up to the house, Martyn didn’t waste anytime heading over to Jack. He had enough warning glances from Lisa to know he had to prepare the father for what could happen.
[+red “Jack... if we’re speaking to them now, play this carefully. Remember, he’s had a drink. He won’t be himself.”] Martyn whispered as the children walked past to arrive to Lily who already had most of her medical kit out on the kitchen counter.
Logan didn’t make eye contact with either of his parents. The only order he obeyed was going inside and sitting on a chair next to Jesse.
Lily’s face fell as she saw the state of her son. It was the same disappointment she carried in her eyes when she found Jack in the ditch. Her instincts wanted her to go straight to Logan, but as Lisa pointed out Jesse’s injuries she had to shake off her motherly instincts.
[+orange “Of course Lisa. Who broke her wrist? Please don’t say...”] Lily said quietly, her eyes looking over at her son to indicate who she meant.
Stepping over to Jesse, Lily knelt down by her side and gently brushed a strand of hair out of the girls face. While she was sure they were in for a hell of a lecture, they deserved some comfort. She had seen enough drinkers go through enough suffering because of their actions.
[+orange “I’m just going to put these on your arm while I make a splint. You’ll have your wrist in a sling for a few weeks...”] Lily explained, tentatively reaching for Jesse’s wrist for a quick examination. Resting two ice packs on either side of Jesse’s wrist to reduce the swelling, Lily started to work on the splint to keep it in place.
Logan was sat on the table, his eyes staring down at his own bloodied and skin-ripped knuckles, now swollen and distorted while clenched either side of the coffee cup. He didn’t even bother touching the mud-like liquid in front of him. By the look in his eyes he didn’t even register it was put in front of him, or that Jack had ordered him to drink it. It was like Logan had been taken to an alternative world and everything that was happening around him wasn’t quite there. Perhaps what happened with Eddie and Adam had taken him back to his past, or he was lost in all that rage that came from his attack: or quite simply it was the amount of alcohol in his system taking him away from reality. It was Jack’s neck demand, that finally sparked some life. A shaky smile spread across his face, his clenched fist opening and slapping the counter as a drunken laugh echoed across the kitchen - completely not fitting with the tense surroundings.
[b “You hear that Jesse? He wants the truth! Ahaha! No, no he doesn’t want it, he demands it. Alight [i brother] you want the truth...”] Logan laughed again, though there was no happiness in his voice - it was sinister, it was dark and clearly whatever was about to happen wasn’t going to be pretty for anyone in the room.
Logan pushed himself from the chair, almost losing his balance as he did but grabbed the table so tightly he was splitting his knuckles even further.
[b “The truth is, I wanted to prove I wasn’t like you. Or dad. Yeah, that’s right, my actual dad. Not my big fucking brother who tries to stand in his shoes, only to prove every once in awhile you’re just like him. Guess what Jack, looks like I’m joining the club after tonight!”] Logan snarled, taking a staggered step towards Jack as he spoke.
[+orange “Logan don’t you dare...”]
[b “What mum? Hide the truth!? He wanted it! It’s not my fault if he can’t handle it. What? What are you going to do big brother? Hit me? Drink? Have mum find you in a ditch? Maybe you can drink and me and you can have a big fight to solve this?”] Logan continued, his voice becoming much darker with every step he took until he was inches away from Jack. His fists were clenched so tightly at this point it looked like he could take a swing at his brother if he wanted to, but what was more terrifying was the blood dripping from his knuckles and onto the floor with just how angrily gripped his hands were!
[+red “Maybe we should let the kids go to bed for tonight and we can discuss this in the morning.”] Martyn intervened, not liking the way this was going. He might not have been a reader but even he could tell this conversation was rapidly turning in the direction where someone would snap. The question was, who was it going to be first?
[b “No Martyn, he wants to hear my story... I got me and Jesse a drink. Guess where I got it from? Right under your nose. Yeah, bet you didn’t know that. You were working and I went into your shitty little place of work, snuck right in and took this. You taught me well, didn’t you? Because hey, forget everything else! The one thing Jack decided to teach me in life was how to be a thief! Isn’t it? How to be a thief and how to not want to be like him.”] To add to his truth Logan produced the now empty bottle from the inside of his jacket and slamming it on the table. The brand was one that Jack would have recognised, as it was one that only his small little shop sold! It wouldn’t have been an easy bottle to steal without being caught but there was a proud grin on Logan’s face.
[b “So we went the party, we drank it, got wrecked! Had a good time! Like every other kid! That’s what I wanted, to be like everyone else and not some abused Brat! But then they hurt Jesse, so I hurt them. Would have killed... heh... now I am sounding like my dad. My actual dad. My abusive, messed up dad. Not someone trying to step in his shoes...”]
[+orange “That’s enough Logan! He has been more a father than Rick has ever been. Rick is not your father. He was...”] Lily couldn’t finish the sentence, there were far too many words but she couldn’t just stand there and watch her son compare Jack to that monster! Jack had been there for Logan, he cared for the boy and it was a dream come true having Jack in their lives. She knew it must have been the drink making Logan talk the way he was, but his words were cutting through her like a knife! She couldn’t even imagine the effect it would have been having on Jack.
[b “That’s right. I don’t have a dad. You know something big bro? I know what you’ll say... you’ll never drink again, never do this again, but you always slip at some point. Don’t you? I did tonight. So when is your next slip up? Hm? Tonight? Come on Jack! You demanded the truth, so why don’t we drink to it! Look!”] Logan snapped up the bottle of the wine Jack was gifted by his boss which was left on the table by Lily. He shoved it harshly into Jack’s chest, his own face twisting with anger as he did.
[b “Go on you hypocrite! Drink up! Drink up and join your brother in our messed up little family! At least I was protecting my best friend! At least I wasn’t found in a ditch, or hurting mum, or failing the family, or messing up like YOU DO!”]
Jack was sleeping soundly next to his wife, fortunately not plagued with the same nightmares as Lily. While Jack had his fair share of traumas in his life, he could confidently say his nightmares had died along with his father, and now that he had the love of his life by his side and his little brother living a normal teenage life, Jack usually had no trouble sleeping through the night. The sound of Lily’s phone was enough to stir the former Street Brat awake, but Jack had no immediate cause for concern. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and groggily turned to face his wife, making sure everything was ok. Jack was just blinking his eyes closed again when Lily sat up more urgently. That caught his attention.
Jack sat up in the bed and turned on the lamp so he could see Lily’s expression, but it was her words that brought him the most concern. Trouble? Drinking? She couldn’t be talking about Logan, could she? What has that boy done now?! The feel of Lily’s hand in him was the only thing stopping Jack from clenching his fists. Logan had been out drinking, no doubt at that school party. Whatever happened was serious enough that Martyn and Lisa were involved. Jack’s face hardened, but his anger was born from concern. He had always worried about Logan having those toxic Sanders genes in him, placing him at risk to follow the family misfortunes and it sounded like he had done just that! But what really struck Jack was that Lily was looking at him like she feared what he would do. She didn’t really think he’d cross the line with the boy, did she? Logan was like a son to him!
[#ff6622 “Before what, Lily? Before I snap, cross that line, beat him into the floor and lock him in the cellar like my old man?”] Jack asked, his tone carrying more hurt and shock than anger. Still, he felt bad for turning this on her. He couldn’t blame Lily for being cautious around him, especially after his slip a few years back, but the one thing Jack was proud of himself for was that he had never laid a hand on that boy, no matter how far Logan pushed him. He made that mistake once when Logan was just a child and Jack swore he’d never go down that road again.
[#ff6622 “Give me more credit than that, Lily, he’s my son too. I just hope he didn’t get himself in more trouble than we can handle. Martyn and Lisa are brilliant, but even they can’t defend the boy from everything.”] Jack said, trying his best to keep calm, knowing that the next few hours wouldn’t be pleasant for anyone involved.
[#ff6622 “I’m going to put on a pot of coffee. You should grab your first aid kit. If the kid’s anything like me when he’s drunk, you’ll have bloody knuckles to tend to once he’s home.”] Jack said. Before slipping out of bed, he leaned in and gave Lily a quick kiss on her cheek to show there were no hard feelings and that he was trying to stay calm for her sake. None of this was her fault, she had no idea letting Logan go out tonight would result in this. He just hoped she wouldn’t blame herself. The McCleeves had a nasty habit of placing too much blame on their own shoulders.
Jesse wanted to drop her eyes in shame, to avoid her father’s stare, but she knew that doing so would only disappoint him further. He was right. She should have been braver and used her abilities despite Adam’s threats. If she had, she would never have been cornered like that and Logan would have never been involved! Jesse didn’t want to admit it, but she was still working through trauma of her own. The last time she had used her words as a weapon, it was when she was a little girl and Antonio beat her half-to-death and nearly made her a mute! At the time, Jesse was brave and persisted with her words, lashing out at Antonio despite the beatings, crushing him with her talents. But she had come close to losing her gift permanently because it that. Maybe if she had been sober, she would have been able to realize that this was nowhere close to as dangerous as the stuff they got into as kids. That there was no risk to using her words as a defense in this case. But with her head still spinning and her mind unable to focus, all Jesse could hear was those threats!
[#aa0000 “I’m sorry father… I know you taught be better than that.”] Jesse admitted, feeling the shame of letting her mentor down. She had mixed emotions about Logan’s intervention. One the one hand, she felt a swell of pride and gratitude that he was still defending her, even after all the trouble she’d caused. She really could count on her best friend for anything. But another part of her wished he would stay out of this before he got himself into even deeper trouble. As it was, Jesse wasn’t sure she could get Logan out of this! All she could do was shoot her best friend an apologetic look when her father cut him down. As Lisa ushered the two of them up the stairs, outside, and into the backseat of the car, Jesse kept her broken wrist hugged tightly to her chest while her other hand reached for Logan’s bloodied fist, wanting to offer at least a little comfort and reassurance, or in the very least keep him calm.
Eddie was a mess, pacing back and forth by his brother while Hudson did his best to stop the bleeding. Eddie had been in his share of fights, but he’d never seen anything so ruthless! That Logan kid could have [i killed] Adam! It’s not like they were really going to hurt his little girlfriend. Jesse may be a freak, but Eddie just wanted to scare her! Nothing that warranted getting his brother’s face smashed in!
[#777766 “Whoa, Jesse is…? No, we weren’t bullying! We were just messing around, that’s all! It was that Freak, Logan that started this! He almost killed my brother!”] Eddie argued back until Martyn continued, getting his whole family involved. Eddie’s father was a good man, but he’d made some mistakes in his life – mistakes that could lead to the family losing everything if word got out. It was enough to keep Eddie quiet, at least for the time being. Besides, he was much too worried about his brother to start picking fights with Martyn.
[#777766 “I swear Sir, I won’t mess with the Fre…uh, I mean Jesse!”] Eddie backpedaled. The sirens were growing closer and soon enough the ambulance was arriving on scene to take Adam to the hospital. Eddie jumped in the ambulance to ride along with his brother, leaving Martyn to take the others home and Hudson and Arthur to clean up a crime scene.
Lisa didn’t say a word the whole drive back to the Sanders, she was too busy reading the emotions of the kids in the rear view mirror. Jesse was completely stricken with guilt and shame and wouldn’t be causing any more trouble for a while, but Logan didn’t look like all the rage was out of his system yet. This night was far from over as far as Lisa could tell. When they pulled up to the Sander’s house, Lisa could see the light on in the kitchen and knew Jack and Lily were awake. She shot Martyn a wary look, warning him that things could get a little messy once they were inside. It was going to be useful having a reader and a silvertongue on site to keep the peace, but only if Martyn could keep his own fatherly emotions in check.
Before they even reached the house, Jack pulled open the door and stepped out to meet them. His eyes immediately went to Logan, noting the blood on his clothes, the mess his hands were in, and the unfocused glaze to his eyes. His eyes then moved to Jesse seeing her cradling her wrist and Jack prayed that it wasn’t Logan that broke it!
[#ff6622 “Get inside.”] Jack ordered, his voice tight but controlled, with the disappointment and frustration wafting off him in waves. When they stepped inside, Jack placed two coffee mugs on the table for Logan and Jesse and ordered the teens to drink. Jesse took a tentative sip of the very strong, dark blend, and scrunched up her nose at the bitter taste.
[#aa0000 “It’s gross…”]
[#ff6622 “I don’t care if it’s gross. Drink it. It’ll help sober you two up.”] Jack said shortly, feeling a twinge of guilt as Jesse winces at his harsh tone. He was really trying to be calm and collected here, but inside Jack was tearing himself apart! He still didn’t know the whole story, but before he got it, he wanted to make sure the two were sobering up a little.
[+green “Lily, I think Jesse’s wrist is broken. Would you mind taking a look? Logan took a few punches and a blow to the head, but I think his hands took the worst damage.”] Lisa explained, relying on Lily’s medical expertise to treat the kids here so they wouldn’t have to go to a hospital.
[#ff6622 “Drink your coffee Logan and tell me what happened tonight. I don’t want Jesse to sugar-coat this, I want to hear the truth from you.”] Jack demanded.
It had been the first time in weeks that Lily was getting a peaceful nights sleep. With her history of trauma, it was rare for her fall asleep so quickly, relaxed next to her husband, with a warm smile on her face. Of course she had her anxieties about Logan, but the evening with Jack had been perfect, It had been so long since they were able to spend time together and for the first time in a long time, Lily had forgotten about all her anxieties, concerns, fears... she was relaxed. At least until her phone next to her bedside buzzed, illuminating the dark bedroom with a bright burning light. It instantly made Lily jump up, snatching the phone forward and squinting at the light.
Lisa? That was odd. Lisa had been with her through all her difficult moments and if anyone understood Lily’s trauma, it was Lisa. The two kept in touch, were close, and often confided in each other when history crept up. Lily wanted to believe that perhaps Lisa just needed to talk, but there was instantly a shadow of dread that surrounded her. As she answered and listened to Lisa explain, she quickly sat up, mostly to ease the instant and sudden pit of pain in her stomach. Instantly tears of frustration and fear built in her eyes and her shaking hand shot to cover her mouth.
[+orange “What do you mean he’s in trouble? Lisa, what has he done? He...he.... drinking? I... we’ll be waiting. Lisa, whatever’s happened I’m so, so sorry...”] Lily was so in shock she didn’t know what else to say. She was already dreading the worst but already assuming Logan was the main reason this conversation was happening! Not wanting to prolong the children being brought home, she hung up without any further questions and let the phone slip from her hand. She was frozen, staring blankly at the wall ahead for what seemed eternity before her hand reached for Jack’s, squeezing it tightly, knowing exactly how this could turn.
Part of her didn’t want to tell him too much right now, but she was scared if she didn’t tell him now, the shock would make it worse!
[+orange “Jack, Logan’s being brought home. He’s... he’s been drinking... he’s in trouble. I’m so sorry, I thought I could trust him but please Jack, for me let’s just see how he is before...”]
Before he lost his mind. She was already blaming herself. She should never have let him go so easily!
Martyn didn’t let his unforgettable, intense stare leave his daughters eyes. His face didn’t change when she called him dad, or when she started her story, or pointed out her injury. It was chilling and probably intimidating for Jesse. It was the exact reaction Martyn carried in only two situations: when someone he cared about was in extreme danger, or he was feeling immense emotional pain. For Martyn in this instance, it was both. He didn’t even say a word as Lisa brought up the possibility of something further happening. Instead his eyes hardened even further , warning Jesse not to even think about further lying.
Listening to his wife explain the gaps, it was the first movement Martyn made. He nodded, taking off his suit jacket and using it to create a makeshift sling for his daughters wrist. Despite his actions however, it was clear he was buying himself some time to calculate his words. How could a silver-tongue be so careful with so much emotion? He was disappointed his daughter would allow herself to get involved with such a party. He was angry she had been drinking and allowed herself to slip into a uncontrollable state. He was concerned about her injuries and the fact she had been bullied. He was furious Logan Sanders had once again pulled her into trouble but mostly, he was feeling a weight of guilt that his own daughter couldn’t tell him the truth. This was his special little girl. It was the one thing he was certain he had done right.
After a few moments of silence, Martyn looked back up and met Jesse’s eyes again. This time his stare was a little softer, but he allowed himself to open up just enough that even in her drunken state, she would be able to read all the emotions he was feeling. He couldn’t hide it if he was about to lecture her!
[+red “Hiding the truth Jesse is one of the most dangerous things you can do. You know that better than anyone. However, that’s a concern for when we get home. My main concern is you are scared your words will get you hurt. Can’t you see that being afraid of your words and staying silent can cause more harm? If myself and your mum stayed silent, do you think we would be here today?”] Martyn challenged but it wasn't out of wanting to shout at her - he just wanted Jesse to believe in herself!
[b “Leave her alone! You want to lecture anyone, it was me!”] Logan drunkenly cut in, the rage still filling his voice as he took a defensive step forward. It was clear he still was on that defensive territory of only seeing villains and Martyn’s lecture was only sparking that red mist which was thickening with the drink in his system.
[+red “I am pretty aware of the trouble you have caused Logan. How about this lecture for you: if you keep living in the past, you’ll end up repeating it. Think about that.”] Martyn said coldly, and the words seemed to have an effect. Logan’s aggressive grunting turned into a chilling silence, obviously hurt by what Jesse’s father had told him. To Logan, he was just compared to Rick, which was the worst comparison Martyn could have made! Martyn knew it was harsh, but he couldn’t hold back. He needed to try and sober the kid up enough to get him in the car!
[+red “Lisa, get them in the car. I have one last thing to do...”]
Heading back to the front garden he could see Hudson trying to treat Adam, Eddie standing nearby and Arthur a few steps away on the phone to the call handler. Martyn knew there would have been more witnesses, but he had to delay a criminal investigation coming to their door. He wasn’t foolish. He knew it would hit but if they stood a chance then he and Lisa would need time to formulate a defence. Also, after what his daughter said, he wanted to put Eddie in his place...
[+red “I take it you have called the police?”]
[+blue “Who the fuck are you?”] Arthur called out, not liking how an adult was already showing up at his house!
[+red “I can quickly become your worst nightmare. Eddie Quinn, your father was one of my clients... I’m sure he’ll know me if you tell him my name. The girl you’ve been bullying, her father protected yours, but I have enough to ruin him. Do you know that? Oh, and i have enough to ruin you and your brother...”] Martyn said, standing in place.
[+blue “I suggest you leave...”]
[+red “And I suggest you be careful what you say to the police about Logan Sanders and Jesse Cull. Hudson, Arthur, the both of you just hosted a party for underage kids which is now a crime scene. The Quinn family has enough evidence piled against them, which they aren’t even aware of, that can destroy them. However I’m sure we can all keep a secret, can’t we?”] Martyn threatened, watching Arthur lower the phone and stare back with pure fear. He couldn’t have a criminal record! This guy was crazy! Adam had just been beaten near to death and he was ready to get everyone else sentenced!?
[+red “Oh and Eddie... you saw what Logan can do. There’s a whole family out there who are even more deadly. I suggest you be quiet unless you want hell to fall down on you.”] While Martyn didn’t have connections with the Brats anymore, nor any evidence against the Quinn’s, they didn’t need to know that. He wanted them all to be terrified of what could happen... at least to keep them quiet for as long as he could. Just as he finished flashing lights appeared on the road, indicating the arrival of the ambulance and police. Backing away, he gave them one last intense stare before heading to his car and joining the others to take them back to the Sanders household.
[#aa0000 “Logan breathe! Just look at me, ok? We’re fine. We’re safe!”] Jesse repeated, speaking in a calm, soothing voice that in no way matched the fear and concern she had inside. She had to get Logan to snap out of this craze before he started throwing punches again. Normally when Logan got a little too aggressive, a few words from Jesse and a couple deep breaths would settle him down, but with the alcohol and the heightened emotions, Jesse just wasn’t able to get through to him! It didn’t help that Jesse wasn’t exactly in her best frame of mind – the pounding head ache, the dizziness, the nausea, and the pain radiating from her broken wrist were all far too distracting for Jesse to properly use her skills. She couldn’t read Logan accurately enough to know what he needed to hear and she could hardly speak without slurring her words, never mind take him down from his madness! She needed help. She needed her father!
[+red “Alright everyone, party’s over! Get the hell out!”] Hudson shouted, hurrying through the house to spread the word and disperse the crowd. When he came back, he was carrying a first aid kit – although nothing in there was likely to do much good for Adam. He needed a ambulance, but until one could get there, Hudson did the best he could, still casting side glances towards the two kids who caused all of this. He thought Logan and Jesse were cool – a little misunderstood, but still good kids. But now… Hudson wondered what those two were capable of. Sure, Adam and Eddie were class A assholes, but to beat a guy half to death? That was some scary shit!
[#aa0000 “Logan, you have to listen to me! You have to calm down!”] Jesse tried again, and as Logan ripped his hands away, she gave him some space, not wanting to get caught in the crossfire. Jesse wasn’t overly afraid of Logan hurting her, but if he did last out, he’d have a hard time forgiving himself and she didn’t want to place anymore guilt on her best friend’s shoulders. Instead, Jesse cradled her broken wrist into her chest, and kept repeating her slow, steady breathing in hopes that the rhythmic inhales and exhales would cause Logan to mimic her breathing and calm himself down.
The call to her father did little to settle Jesse’s nerves. On the one hand, she knew he would take care of this. But on the other hand, her father sounded upset and Jesse was terrified of disappointing him. She was dreading the upcoming conversation for multiple reasons: 1) she lied to her father about where she was going tonight, 2) she was drunk while underage, 3) she was wasted to the point that neither of her skills were working, leaving her practically defenseless, 4) she had been bullied by Eddie for weeks and never even mentioned it to her parents, and 5) she was right in the middle of a very serious crime! If Adam pressed charges, Jesse would be involved in a legal case, one that had the potential to affect their pardon! Dammit, why did that have to come to this stupid party in the first place!
Lisa didn’t bother asking question, knowing it would only delay them further. She got in the car with Martyn and hurried to an unfamiliar address with teens fleeing in all directions. When they got out of the car and found their way into the basement, Lisa took seconds to read the situation, instantly shooting Martyn a look to warn him of how serious this was. While Martyn went directly to his daughter, Lisa picked up her phone and called Lily, not wanting the mother to hear about this from anyone else.
[+green “Lily, its Lisa. I know it’s late, but Martyn and I will be over shortly with the kids. Jesse’s been injured and Logan’s in trouble. Both of the children have been drinking. Listen, just stay at the house and let us deal with this. We’ll bring the kids home as soon as we can.”] Lisa told her, wanting to forewarn her about what she was about to see. Watching Logan stumble through the doors with split knuckles and bloody cloths would be a little too reminiscent of Jack’s darker days. She wanted the Sanders’ to be prepared.
Jesse bit her lip as her father stepped onto the scene. She was nervous to talk to him, but she knew he needed to know. Another cause for concern was that Jesse didn’t seem to have any control over her emotions. Her unreadable Mason mask was gone so that even Martyn would be able to see the fear and pain in his daughter’s expression. For a reader and a silvertongue, that alone was a sign that Jesse was beyond impaired. She had been trained to hide her weaknesses and vulnerabilities and yet here they were on display for all to see!
[#aa0000 “Dad, I… I mean father…”] Jesse shook her head, knowing she was off to a poor start. Even as he rested his hand on her shoulder, Jesse’s alcohol-delayed mind didn’t immediately process the gesture as comfort, and she flinched at the contact, drawing her wrist in tighter to her chest as if to protect her injury from more pain. When she realized her mistake, Jesse relaxed, trying not to tremble under her father’s piercing gaze.
[#aa0000 “I got separated from Logan. I was looking for him when… Eddie and Adam Quinn, they’ve been bullying me for months now… they told me not to talk or I’d get hurt…”] Jesse explained, her thoughts not exactly in ordered and concise the way she usually spoke, but the meaning was there and Martyn would remember the significance of that threat in Jesse’s mind: Words only get you hurt.
[#aa0000 “Adam pushed me down the stairs and I… I think it’s broken…”] She said, glancing down at her wrist.
[#aa0000 “They were going to lock me in the cold room, but Logan… he was just trying to protect me! He tried to get them away from me, but Adam overpowered him and Eddie, he… he said he’d…”] Jesse shuttered and Lisa made an audible gasp before stepping over to her husband’s side, reading what Jesse couldn’t put into words.
[+green “Jesse, did that boy touch you?”] She demanded, knowing her question alone would let Martyn know what was left unsaid.
[#aa0000 “No… He didn’t get that far. Adam called me ‘princess’ and Logan… He just snapped! But father, he did it to protect me! No one else knew we were down here, no one would have stopped them from… Please father, you have to help him! Logan did this for me!”] Jesse pleaded, finally managing to get the most of her story out, at least to a point where Lisa could fill in the blanks.
[+green “Jesse and Logan were both drunk when this was happening. Jesse couldn’t rely on her skills to get her out of trouble like usual. The threats coupled with her impairment – I have no doubt Jesse would have been at the mercy of those boys had Logan not stepped in. His initial intentions may have been honourable, but once that line was crossed… we’ve seen it before, Martyn: In Jack, in Tigan, even Carlos used to cross that line – let the red take over and all sense of control fade away. He’s lucky that boy is still breathing.”] Lisa stated plainly, trying to control her own emotions after what she heard. She always trusted Jesse to stay out of trouble never expected her to even come to parties like this. When Lisa thinks of what could have happened… some part of her thought that boy deserved what Logan did to him.
There was a red mist which Logan hadn’t experienced since he was a Street Brat. Even then it was anger: survival. It wasn’t fighting to kill, it was fighting to see the next day! This was different. It was every ugly emotion crumbling together into one deadly hurricane of force. It was mixed with alcohol, making that blind rage even more deadly. It was a side of Logan that even Jesse wouldn’t have seen before because quite simply, he had a trait that carried through the Sanders blood line. A few drops of alcohol could bring out a hidden alter-ego that was dangerous.
Rick’s was dangerous to others.
Jack’s was dangerous to himself.
Logan was quickly discovering he had the ugly combination of both.
He didn’t feel the force of the punches. Logan didn’t feel Adam’s bones breaking beneath his knuckles, or his own knuckles fracturing under the immense force. He didn’t feel each other their skins splitting, or the blood splattering. The terrified cries and begging words for him to stop didn’t register. All he wanted was to make Adam suffer. He could see the flashbacks... Lily being thrown in the bedroom, his tiny body being slammed against the floor, the screams... he couldn’t block out those screams... and that name. [i princess]. He wouldn’t stand back and watch someone else suffer his mothers fate.
Eddie’s attempts to stop him didn’t work and neither did Jesse’s voice, and even as she rested her hand on his cheeks it didn’t have an immediate affect. He continued with every last bit of strength he had until Jesse literally had to yank his head in her direction! Logan’s entire body was shaking, his eyes wide and looking through her. His face was burning red, his eyes bloodshot, his veins bulging and it looked like he could turn all that rage onto Jesse at any second!
[b “I’ll fucking kill him! I’ll fucking... arrgh!”] Logan screamed, his chest heaving with each breath he took as he struggled to regain control. Unfortunately Logan’s intoxicated rage had been heard by a crowd all gathering at the top of the stairs, all staring with astonished and frightened eyes.
It took a good couple of minutes for Logan to gain some reasonable composure but Jesse would have been able to see that the drink had taken him to a different apart of himself which could snap again at any moment. It seemed he didn’t care about the risks!
Meanwhile Arthur had just appeared, sprinting through the crowd and appearing just next to Hudson with a horrified expression. He observed the scene for a second, unable to muster the words before he rushed down the stairs and lifted up his phone light towards Adams face.
It was a horrific scene. Every part of Adam’s face was distorted and swollen. There wasn’t a part that wasn’t covered in blood and both his eyes were so swollen you couldn’t see the whites underneath! All of his teeth had been smashed out or cracked. There was a deep laceration on the top of his forehead but what was worse he was struggling to breathe... his nose was smashed in and he was choking on his own blood.
[+blue “Fucking hell... Hudson get everyone out of my house right now! Parties over!”] Arthur shouted up in panic, grabbing Adam’s other arm to help Eddie get him up the stairs while lifting his phone up to his ear, dialling for an ambulance.”]
Everyone was quickly clearing. Firstly no one wanted the emergency services to catch them at an underage party but they also didn’t want to be seen as witnesses to what had happened! What was a filled house of teenage freedom just hours before was now a condemning to anyone who stayed. Jesse was right, if they didn’t get out there was nothing their parents would be able to do!
However Logan wasn’t making it easy. As Jesse grabbed his bloody hand he tensed, gritting his teeth.
[b “I don’t care. I’ll fight them all! You hear me!? I’m not letting anyone... no one touches my friend!”] He hissed, pulling away, unable to see the sense of just how much danger he was in. All the drink had blocked any sense of reality and he was staying in a one way ticket of not only destroying his own future, but his families! If Logan was caught, the consequences would come crashing down on the Sanders. They were surviving on the ever thinning line of the pardon that was only granted to them due to Lily’s parents connection to the police! Even Martyn couldn’t keep that going if they were caught!
Martyn had been home with Lisa for a number of hours now and just as predicted, he wasn’t exactly taking it easy. It had been the first time that he hadn’t returned home from work to see Jesse. With the long hours he and Lisa dedicated to their law firm, it was often that Jesse would be the first home or she would meet them in their office. It didn’t feel right now to have her home and there was hardly a moment that Martyn had stayed still. He tried reading, but every time he ended up just staring blankly at the pages. He tried relaxing next to Lisa and talking to her, but he ended up pacing. He kept making excuses for his behaviour, classically as a silver-tongue shifting the reasoning despite knowing Lisa could see right through him but he missed his little girl. She was growing up. Looking after herself... or so he thought.
It was the well past midnight by this point and Martyn’s determination to stay awake for her return was faltering. With one last look of the clock he sighed to himself, accepting that he would just have to wait until the morning for that phone call. Just as he took his first step on the stairs however, his phone buzzed in his pocket and his hand couldn’t move quicker! Lisa was right again, Jesse had him wrapped around her little finger and when he saw her name, even he couldn’t resist that tiny smile.
[+red “Jesse I... Jesse? Have you been...”] In a flash the one moment of warmth Martyn carried on his face switched. A stern steely gaze that could freeze anyone who dared make eye contact had taken over his expression. Jesse wasn’t even at the point of explaining her location before Martyn was throwing on his coat and grabbing his car keys.
[+red “Don’t move. Stay at the address.”] Was all he said, slamming the phone shut and feeling his chest tighten. His little girl was in danger. She had been drinking, he could hear her fear but what was worse was that she said us... that meant only one thing. She was with Logan Sanders.
[+red “Lisa we’ve got to go.”]
He didn’t explain anything further. Martyn was at that terrifying point of fear, anger, and frustration that his words were limited. There was a silence in between everything he said which was the loading of the gun. Everything he said from this moment would only be a weapon... Lisa would know exactly how serious this was.
Rushing to the car, Martyn drove as fast as he dared to the address just in time to see the mass of teenagers rushing down the street and the sound of sirens in the distance. Climbing out the car the car he could see a kid being laid down on the grass, covered in blood and with a small crowd around him either staring in shock, crying, or screaming down the phone for the ambulance. Sprinting into the house he was seeing all the evidence he needed to paint the initial picture. Bottles all over the floor, the smell of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs...
Though it was the sound from the basement. There was a grunting, almost animalistic but his keen ear was able to pick up the sound of Sanders. Rushing down, Martyn’s eyes went straight to his daughter.
[+red “Jesse, what happened?”] He asked, his voice so cold and monotoned to anyone else it would seem that he didn’t care about seeing his daughter terrified, shaken, and looking at her cradle her wrist! However to the Cull family it was the highest level of concern the father could show!
[+red “I suggest Logan that you let Jesse speak if you even want me to consider getting you out of here.”]
[b “But she...”]
[+red “But she is stronger without you Logan Sanders and her words do not need another intervention from you! Jesse... tell. me. what. happened.”] Martyn insisted, taking a step towards her and resting a hand on her shoulder. He needed to hear it from his daughter. She couldn’t have been involved in this. She was smarter than this! That’s why he needed her to speak, in front of her mother. He needed Lisa to read their daughter for the truth. If that had happened in the first place, maybe their daughter wouldn’t be in this mess.
Jesse knew she misspoke as soon as Adam raised his voice, but it was too late to take it back. She shivered as the grip on her neck tightened. Logically, Jesse knew if she screamed for help now, any one of the kids from her high school could jump in and save her from whatever these bullies had planned, but the alcohol was messing with her judgement, highlighting her fears and muddling her senses, so instead Jesse stayed quiet.
Jesse started getting even more nervous as they stepped towards the basement. Seeing the other two students, Jesse knew this was her last chance to get help, but as she opened her mouth, the words just didn’t come! Her head was pounding from the pressure on her neck, and her stomache gave a violent lurch as she peered down into the dark frigid basement. Before she could even think of crying out for help, Jesse’s feet slipped out from under her and Adam’s shove sent her tumbling painfully down the stairs. She hit the floor with a sickening snap as the pain exploded in her wrist. Jesse – like her parents – had a very low tolerance for pain. She cried out at the feeling of her wrist snapping, and cradled the fractured limb close to her chest to protect it from the approaching bully.
The sharp kick resulted in a pitiful yelp from Jesse and she rolled away from her tormentor, trying to create some distance between her and Adam. Her words were failing her – [i Father is going to be so disappointed in me!] – so her only option was to try to flee and hide, but as she pushed herself to her hands and knees, she felt the fingers of her good hand being crushed into the cement floor beneath Eddie’s boot.
[#777766 “Where do ya think you’re going, Freak? Come ‘ere!”] Eddie growled, grabbing a fist-full of Jesse’s long red hair and pulling her to her feet. Jesse was so dizzy from the liquor and from her tumble down the stairs that she struggled to get her feet under her. Eddie was practically dragging her over to the cold room. He yanked open the door, feeling the frigid air strike him, so much colder than the already-chilly basement. It wasn’t life-threatening. It’s not like she was going to freeze in there, but it be miserably cold until someone eventually found her. But before Eddie could toss her inside, the sound of shattering glass caused him to turn around.
[#777766 “Logan! What, are you guys attached at the hip or some shit? You always have to stick you fuckin’ nose in everything!”] Eddie hissed, pulling Jesse in so he had one arm around her throat and the other tugging her good arm behind her back in a painful twist. He grinned with a sick satisfaction as his older brother slammed the boy into the ground, causing a worries squeak from Jesse.
[#777766 “Yeah, yeah, you’re right, Adam! I bet I know why Logan’s being such a prick! He’s probably jealous of another man moving in on his girl, aren’t ya Logan? Maybe it’s time you learned how to share!”] Eddie taunted, shifting so he was cheek-to-cheek with Jesse in a twisted version of a romantic pose. Jesse felt her stomach turn again, feeling like she was going to be sick and this time, she knew it had nothing to do with the booze! But as soon as Adam mentioned that word, Jesse’s eyes snapped open. The effects were instant, and frighteningly sobering. She watched the transformation, where Logan put all his past fears, vulnerabilities, and guilt into one, burning fury of emotion: Rage.
[#777766 “Whoa, what the… what the hell?! Get off him! Get the fuck off him, you psycho!”] Eddie shouted out, instantly forgetting about Jesse and shoving her to the side as he rant to help his brother. He grabbed Logan’s arm to try and stop him from punching, but the kid was freakishly strong when he was pissed off! Jesse watched with wide-eyes as Logan crossed the line between protection and torment. His mind was no longer seeing bullies, it was seeing villains, as if he was no longer living a normal civil life, but he was back on the streets with the Brats. Jesse knew… she knew just by the dark look in his eyes that if he wasn’t stopped, Logan was going to kill that boy!
[#aa0000 “Logan!”] She cried, finally finding her voice. Jesse ran to his side, forgetting about the painful surge in her wrist as she placed her hands on either side of Logan’s face and tried to turn his eyes towards her.
[#aa0000 “Logan stop! STOP! Look at me! Dammit Logan, LOOK AT ME!”] she shouted, trying desperately to get him to focus his attention on anything besides his rage. All she needed was one flicker of recognition to get him back under control. Jesse kept one hand on his cheek and moved the other to his chest. She took a deep, slow breath through her nose and exhaled very slowly through her mouth, letting her hand mirror her breathing on his chest in attempt to get him to do the same. She needed to get him to relax and calm down if she was going to snap him out of this. When she finally had his attention, Eddie was quick to move in and tear his brother away from Logan. Eddie pushed Adam back against the opposite wall, supporting his older brother and checking over his injuries with a freaked-out expression.
[#777766 “What the fuck was that?! You fucking creep! You’re a fucking psycho, Logan Sanders! I hope they lock you up for this! Murderous freaks like you belong in a fucking prison cell!”] Eddie hissed back, his insults far more fear-driven than ever before.
By now the commotion had caught the attention of several of the partiers and there was a small group of onlookers at the top of the stairs.
[+red “Move it! I say move out of the damn way, you fuckin… jeez! What the hell happened down here? Arthur! Fuck man, something crazy just went down! Adam’s a fucking mess, dude, I think he might need an ambulance!”] Hudson called out, looking quite stricken at the sight.
[#aa0000 “Logan, we gotta go! Come on Logan, we have to leave before someone calls the police!”] Jesse urged in a desperate whisper. She was still scared, but now her fear was directed towards her best friend. Logan had been in and out of trouble for years, but nothing this bad. If Adam pressed charged, Logan could go to juvy for this! And if Jack and Lily found out… Jesse knew her words weren’t going to get him out of this one.
Jesse’s wrist was incredibly painful – already bruising and swelling around the joint. She knew she likely broke the bone and would need a splint, if not a cast. She reached for Logan’s hand, seeing the blood on his knuckles and figured at least some of it was probably his own from splitting the skin. Both were drunk and needed medical attention, but if they stuck around until the ambulance arrived, they’d be in even more trouble for drinking under age and assaulting another kid! No cop is going to see what happened and believe Logan was just acting in self-defence! Jesse knew they needed help and despite how badly she wanted to avoid the next call, she knew it had to be made.
[#aa0000 “Dad? I’m sorry… I’m in trouble.”] Jesse started. Martyn would know right away she was drunk by the slurring of her words and the fact that she referred to his as [i Dad]. Normally she was so careful to call him [i father], after he told her when she was just two years old that he preferred it.
[#aa0000 “Can you come and pick us up? We’re at 9 McQuarrie Street. Please don’t be mad! I… I really need your help, Dad!”]
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