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[#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!”]
If Jesse knew anything about Adam, it was that he was all brawn and no brain. He was towering over her, his shoulders broad as well as his waist. Like his brother he had teeth missing from the fights he had been in and a scar across the top of his forehead - no doubt from some antic which didn’t require much thinking. Just looking at him was intimidating enough! Though it wasn’t his appearance that made him threatening - it was what he was capable of. There was a reason Eddie continuously pushed his luck, even with Logan watching over Jesse’s shoulder. If something went wrong, all he had to do was tell his big brother, and like a bull in a china shop he would come rampaging in. No doubt Eddie used this to his advantage and for Jesse, she didn’t realise just how much trouble she was in!
[+grey “Me brothers a wha? A creep? You hear that Eddie, the fuckin’ FREAK thinks your a creep. Ahahaha! Oh, we’re gonna ‘av some fun...”] Adam sneered, squeezing the back of Jesse’s neck so tightly he was already leaving deep purple bruises. If there wasn’t so many people around to witness his actions, he probably would have already started teaching her a lesson but Eddie was right. Out of sight, out of mind.
[+grey “She’ll be runnin’ ‘er mouth alright when she’s screamin’. ‘Fraid of the dark? I’ll be your worst nightmare. Don’t worry lil bro, I’ll show you how we deal with snitches...”] Adam didn’t waste time dragging Jesse by his side, keeping her tight and close so no one would think anything was going on - not that they would. Everyone was completely wasted at this point.
Opening the basement door, Adam started to step down when he saw two kids from his year pinning each other against the wall, drunkenly attempting to kiss one another before they heard their intruder.
[i “Dude! Rooms taken and...oh shit Adam, uh....”]
It was all he had to say. The two of them picked up their stuff and sprinted past the group and once the door was closed behind them, Adam showed no mercy. Instead of travelling the rest of the way down, he shoved the back of Jesse’s neck and threw her down the remaining couple of stairs.
[+grey “What are you gonna do? Cry for help? Go on...I dare you to speak. Eddie, you said she usually speaks, right? Lil’ bitch is awfully quiet... not so fuckin’ brave now are you!?”] Adam hissed and once he got down the final step, he shot a sharp kick into Jesse’s gut and once his foot collided, he lifted up his arms and cheered with his impact.
[+grey “NO ONE MESSES WITH US!”] He yelled, slamming his hands on his chest and laughing with the excitement of it all, getting a thrill of watching this freak suffer.
[+grey “Go on Eddie, drag ‘er into the cold-room. Don’t be easy! Make your big brother proud!”]
Back upstairs Logan was already moving onto his next bottle. While the world wasn’t quite straight, his throat burned, everything was uneasy... he felt free. Was this why Jack drank? He felt lighter, as if the weight of the world had fallen from his shoulders. He wondered if Jesse felt the same... Jesse... shit Jesse.
In an instant his reaction changed. The drunken and goofy smile he had on his lips turned and he pushed himself from the wall, almost falling onto his hands and knees as he did. A nearby partner quickly caught Logan by his arm, lifting him straight but Logan pushed himself off, turning to the crowd back in the house. He was an idiot! He promised to stay with her for the night!
[b “Jeseeee!?”] Logan almost yodelled in his drunken state, leaning so far back as he shouted he fell back about five steps, swilling himself with the brown liquid in the bottle!
[b “Jessssseeeee I was jush... jush hanging heeereee”] He called, laughing, wondering why he was worrying! Jesse would find him! She was the smart one! Though the drink was clearly playing with his mood swings. Just as Logan was finding his balance, the couple from the basement had sprinted into the front garden, preparing to jump in their car when they heard Logan shouting in the street.
[i “Jesse? She’s the little brat who just stole our spot. Looks like she was going to have some fun downstairs. Soz mate, looks like you got ditched! Better look next time! She’s having fun with two of them! First party as well, what a girl!”] The boy mused, clicking the keys to his car before swooping the girl he had picked up in his arms and staggering away.
It was like someone had flicked a switch. The drunken, unstable mess that was Logan, suddenly turned. His eyes darkened, his balance suddenly stiffened and without knowing his feet were already storming ahead. He was shoving past the crowd, ignoring the scoffs of those he shoulder barged to get past. What was Jesse playing at? She would hate herself! He reached the basement door, kicking it open and sprinting down the stairs. He didn’t even take a second to recognise who it was. In his drunken state, he lifted up the bottle in his hand and slammed it down directly over Adam’s head.
The force had sent Adam doubling over for a brief second as a shower of glass and brown liquor covered him. He felt a punch, a kick, but before anything else could happen he spun around and slammed his arm into his attacker, sending Logan flying across the room with the older boys force!
[+grey “You fuckin’... Logan! Ahaha, well, well... look what we’ve got Eddie! Looks like he’s pissed just like his fucked up family. His big brother had a fight with our dad in a couple of years ago. Livin’ up to the reputation? What is he by the way? Brother? Daddy? Freaks all of them!”] Adam mocked maliciously, not wasting his time to pick Logan up by his throat and throwing him back down on the ground in front of Eddie.
[+grey “Whatcha wanna do Eddie? After all he knocked ye teeth out, maybe ya might wanna knock some of his? Or you could have fun with his little princess...”]
The word sent a wave of fury over Logan’s face. He was only a baby when Rick called his mother the word, but somehow it was the one thing that could send a rage within him. All the alcohol he had drunk had changed from making him a drunken mess, to a force to be reckoned with. Before Adam could react, Logan had jumped up and had him pinned to one of the basement beams and was sending punch after punch! It was merciless! Even with Adam’s brute strength, he couldn’t stop the alcohol induced force that was coming from Logan. It was terrifying! Logan hadn’t lost control like this since he was in the Brat’s and if someone didn’t stop him, it looked like he wouldn’t stop until Adam was unconscious or dead!
Since neither Jesse or Logan had the typical loving contact and appropriate shows of affection in their early childhood, it was rare to catch the two exchange anything too sincere or meaningful. Normally it was quick jokes, playful teasing, or the occasional pep talk. But every once in a while one of the pair would say something that held a much deeper meaning. Logan’s ‘thanks’ was far more than what it appeared on the surface and Jesse fully understood the sentiment. There was a time when neither teen had anyone they could rely on or trust, and it looked like they would each wind up alone. Jesse knew Logan still beat himself up for the things he had done to her in the past, but none of that was relevant anymore. Like her mother, Jesse could read a person’s true intention just by looking at them and she knew that the he would never hurt her like that again. Besides, Logan had been there for Jesse when she needed him most and that was far more important than a ripped journal and a couple impulsive accusations.
[#aa0000 “Yeah well, the last time I left you I ended up trapped under a demolished house. I learned my lesson. Besides, it would take WAY too long to break in a new best friend.”] She answered back, a little humorously at first before her expression melted into something much more genuine.
[#aa0000 “I’ve got your back Logan and I know you’ve got mine.”] Jesse told him, keeping her voice light, but the words were heavy with meaning. Jesse didn’t truly trust very many people in this world. The fact that she knew she could rely on Logan was a big deal.
[+red “Don’t worry dude, I’d never do that to a [i good] beer. Ha!”] Hudson teased back, giving Arthur a playful shove. He set his hockey stick against the wall and handed out the shots, not caring that he was serving underaged kids. Hell, he’d been drinking since he was much younger than these two, and by the way they threw back the shot, he figured they could handle themselves.
[+red “Lightweight? Just because my blood’s not half-booze like you Brits! Not too sure about that shot, eh psychic girl? Wait a sec, I got something you’ll like… Maple whiskey! That’s the good stuff right there!”] Hudson grinned at Jesse’s wince as the liquor burned her throat, clearly not as keen to the strong shot as Logan was. Hudson rightly assumed Jesse’s pallet was a little sweeter, and soon she was sipping the sugary maple whiskey with a much more favourable expression.
Jesse’s intention for this party was to stick close to Logan. She wanted to keep an eye on him, making sure she was close by to talk him out of trouble and to ensure his own fears and worries about this night didn’t come true. But Jesse severely underestimated how much a few drinks were going to affect her. Sometime between the game of Queens and the couple rounds of Beer Pong, she had lost sight of Logan and was wandering through the crowd of people starting to get a little anxious. Her head was spinning, her balance was off, and shen she had trident o ask a group of girls if they’d seen Logan, her speech was slurred. That was what really freaked Jesse out! Years ago when Antonio sliced her tongue and Jesse lost her ability to speak, it had completely traumatized the girl! She was left defenceless and without the use of her greatest skill for months! It took almost 3 months before her tongue healed enough to get her voice back and another 6 months after that of speech therapy before she lost the lisp and slur that lingered from the injury. During that time, Jesse was so self-conscious about her speech that she didn’t talk to hardly anyone! She was terrified that the other kids would tease her, especially Logan since he had bullied her in the past. What surprised Jesse was that Logan actually stuck up for her! He even shoved Rylan into the wall for making a comment about the girl’s selective muteness.
Now that the alcohol was affecting her speech, Jesse once against felt self-conscious about her voice and was growing more eager to leave the party and head home, but she couldn’t leave without Logan. She slipped through the crowd, walking through the house as she tried to focus on the faces around her. It would help if they would stop spinning… damn, how much did she have to drink?! Jesse was supposed to be the responsible one!
Jesse heard Logan’s name and turned towards the voice, regretting the action instantly.
[#aa0000 “Eddie’sssss a creep, he dessssserved it!”] She slurred defiantly before feeling the hand grip the back of her neck. In an instant, Jesse’s eyes shot open with a flash of horrific memory. She pictured Gordon… Baxter… Antonio… holding her off the ground - slamming her against the floor - the knife at her throat… no, in her mouth! The flashes were too rapid to make any sense but the underlying emotion was clear: fear.
[i those words of yours, they’ll get ya hurt.]
Those words, so close to the words from her nightmares, sent a chill down Jesse’s spine. She instantly snapped her mouth closed, taking the threat to heart. Adam was intimidating as it was, but his words and actions just sent Jesse back to the worst moments of her childhood. Any other day, Jesse would have been able to keep her cool and talk her way out of the situation, like she did this morning with Eddie, but now with her head spinning and her speak failing her, she didn’t even know where to start! So she did as she was told – she stayed quiet, and hoped Adam wouldn’t hurt her.
[#aa0000 “Looks like you caught the Freak! And you got her to shut up! You’ll have to teach me how to do that, Adam, the little bitch never stops running her mouth when she’s with me!”] Eddie’s voice cut in and the gap-toothed teen appeared beside his brother. He hadn’t had near as much to drink as the others. Once he heard that Jesse and Logan were here at the party, he wanted to take the opportunity to set the record straight! He’d take advantage of Logan being drunk off his ass, and beat the kid into the ground. Then kids at school would finally stop giving him a hard time for letting that Sanders kid knock him back!
[#aa0000 “Hey Adam, you know what we should do? Arthur’s got a cold-room in the basement. We should lock her in there! The Freak’s afraid of the dark, I bet she’d cry like a baby if we stuck her down there! And then we can find Logan and get some pay back!”] Eddie suggested, laughing as Jesse seemed to get even more afraid at the thought of being locked away all alone in some freezing cold, pitch black room where no one was likely to find her for hours!
[b “I’ve been in trouble since the day I was born! Beside’s it is usually me getting you into trouble. I swear if your mum and dad found out half the things we got up to, I think they’d ban me from ever seeing you again. Just thanks for sticking around... “] Logan said gratefully, knowing he was avoiding the deeper conversation but Jesse would understand. He never had much stability and it was perhaps another thing he and Jesse both shared. When they were born, they both didn’t have frequent parents. They were given up, kidnapped, surrendered, handed over from Brat to Brat or enemy to enemy. When they finally had a constant family, it was filled with danger and survival. Then they had to survive on their own and both Jesse and Logan weren’t the best at making friends. Logan picked the fights, Jesse avoided using her words to build on the bonds around her. Eventually, for some odd reason, Jesse used those words to build a friendship with Logan. He still didn’t forgive himself for the things he did... he was a bully. He was Eddie in a sense. He tore Jesse’s notebook, pushed her away, threatened her and then when it came to trust - he believed Xana over the only person who gave him a chance. It was for all of those reasons that Logan was so determined to look after his friend. Jesse never gave up on him, so he would never give up on her.
[b “Those things are nothing! The fun hasn’t even started yet. Let’s see what innocent little Jesse can really do...”] He also had another promise to himself... crack Jesse out of her shell and let her experience some fun. Martyn and Lisa weren’t exactly the party parents. Jesse needed to learn to let go, Maybe tonight was the night Logan could get her to loosen up and have some fun?
[+blue “Strong and bloody free... you’re all obsessed with being free! We get it, we’re sorry for taking over half the world but Jesus Christ don’t ruin good beer!”] Arthur cried out as the bottle hit against his feet, a genuine look of mourning spreading across his face as he bent over and picked up the bottle, cradling it close to his chest as Hudson made his entrance. He tried to open the bottle but as expected the black and white liquid exploded all over Arthur’s shirt, before spraying over to Logan and Jesse. He was just about ready to turn the spraying foam in Hudson’s direction, but as his friend diverted to who exactly was standing in front of them, a wide gap-toothed smile spread across his face
[+blue “You knocked his lights out! Proper battered him didn’t you mate? Siiiick. Aha! Fuckin’ defend our majesty next, you geezer! And you, aren’t you more of an afternoon tea type of gal than a, y’know...”]
[b “She’s with me so it doesn’t matter does it?”]
[+blue “Oooooh.... mouthy git. I... oh for fuck sake England! It was meant to be coming home!”] Arthur cried out, throwing his phone across the garden as a clear loss from his team knocked him back.
[+blue “Double my shots. Welcome to the party kids, you best be a better drinker than Hudson. Blood light weight!”]
Logan was already soaking in the atmosphere. This was everything he imagined it to be. No one cared about the rules. No one cared about what might happen. It was completely different to the life they grew up with! They had to be hyper-aware and worry about what was around the next corner. Here they didn’t have to think like that. They could deal with the consequences later and as he watched Jesse take the first shot, his eyes flicked with surprise for a split second before he quickly followed.
The liquid went down his throat but there wasn’t the usual squint or gag as the burning sensation took over. Instead, it was far too easy... was it supposed to do something already? It felt warm, fuzzy... Logan didn’t understand how Rick or Jack could react so badly?
[b “Now who’s leading the rebellion?”] Logan shouted into her ear over the loud music after he finished his shot, not bothering to wait for the bottles to be handed around. He pulled out his own bottle of vodka and refilled their cups, with no intention of slowing down...
A couple of hours passed and Logan had already had his fair share of drinks. It started with the shots, then the vodka shots, then Arthur thought it would be fun to play Ring of Fire, which Logan got overly competitive with. Then there was a few more drinks... Logan’s mind went blank for a bit and now he was standing outside the house, a half empty bottle of beer in his hand and he was swaying on the spot, his cheeks red and his eyes not entirely focused on the world. Part way through the night Logan had lost Jesse when someone pulled him outside. His mouth tasted of ash and smoke... did he try a cigarette? The world was starting to spin and Logan was starting to quickly lose his touch with reality...
Though while Logan was outside split away, inside there was one figure who had a few drinks of his own and news has spread.
[+grey “Where is he!? Where the fuck is Logan Sanders?”] Adam called, barging through the crowd of partners and stepping over those who had collapsed on the floor. Adam was the spit of Eddie, only much larger and much more intimidating. As he made his way through the waves of people it wasn’t Logan Sanders he eventually come across, it was Jesse Cull.
[+grey “Well, well, well... you’re the fuckin’ little weird one, ain’t ya? Messin’ with my Eddie, fuckin’ with my little bro!? I heard Logan let you down last time, wasn’t there when Eddie gotcha, was he? He’s not here now is he, you stupid little bitch.”] Adam growled, grabbing her by the back of her neck and pulling her in close. There was too many people around and Adam wanted to teach this little rat a lesson.
[+grey “You say a word, I’ll knock ya fuckin’ teeth out like you got him to do to Eddie. You mess with those words of yours, they’ll get ya hurt. You understand!?”]
Martyn lifted an eyebrow as Lisa teased about the type of antics the kids used to get up to. While he couldn’t deny the fact that Logan wasn’t bringing the troubles of the past, he was still causing havoc in whatever world he was in! While Lisa had positive intent with Logan, Martyn didn’t have the ability to see it. He had to shift his teachings for Jesse, trying to teach her how to survive with normality... it wasn’t easy. The girl was so used to manipulating the most extreme situations, that throwing the mundane was even hard for Martyn to get his head around. He was still learning how to adjust to society himself. Still, he wanted to protect Jesse and he didn’t like the amount of calls he received about Logan’s behaviours. He wasn’t fooled... he knew Jesse cared about Logan and they were friends, but that didn’t mean he trusted the kid one bit.
[+red “So long as I don’t start getting calls about Jesse. I want to help them Lisa but when does it become enough is enough? One day my words won’t be enough. Words only have a certain amount of power, you know that....”] Martyn reminded her, knowing how many dangers he had gotten himself into because he was forced to surrender his act.
[+red “At least you can try and see the lies. All I can do is try and influence her. I just said words only have a certain amount of power. I’m not a father of action...I...I can barely hug her....anyone... what if one day she doesn’t listen to what I have to say because my words...”] Martyn started to ask but he quickly silenced himself, rubbing his forehead and only feeling the strain of his workload as Lisa pointed it out. She was right, he hadn’t rested in weeks. If it wasn’t preparing for another court case, it was fixing the Sanders mess, then he was tutoring Jesse... at least the next case was an easy one.
[+red “You’re right. I’m sorry. Ignore what I said I’m just tired... “] He excused himself in the classic Martyn way, fighting against his fatherly doubts and grabbing Lisa’s hand and gently squeezing it.
[+red “We just finally have everything right. I don’t want a stupid boy ruining her future or his own. Not that you can say anything Lisa Cull, you’re constantly reading our girl... I think you two exchange more secrets than I can keep up with. Let’s get home. Thanks to your good work today, I have less to worry about.”]
[#aa0000 “You don’t owe me a thing, Logan. I’m still trying to pay you back for punching Eddie’s tooth out a couple weeks ago. I usually prefer to fight with words, not fists, but I admit there’s nothing more satisfying that seeing that jerk get what was coming to him. I’m just sorry you got in trouble for it.”] Jesse commented, remembering how angry Jack was when he found out Logan was nearly suspended for fighting. Jesse sort of felt bad for Logan’s parents. Jack and Lily were trying so hard to have a normal life and leave all the hatred and violence behind them, but it was so much harder for them: not only did they lack the financial stability that Jesse’s parents had, but they also had far deeper emotional ties to the Brats and intense trauma to fight through. Still, Jesse did feel that they were going a little overboard with their attempts to keep Logan on the straight and narrow. Logan didn’t need rules and discipline, he needed freedom and a chance to figure out how he was going to fit into this world, leaving his street life behind him. Even Jesse sometimes felt the need to break away from her parents and find her own path.
[#aa0000 “So lying to my parents, sneaking out to a party, and drinking underage isn’t rebellious? Dad’s right, you ARE a bad influence on me.”] Jesse teased, understanding by his change of topic that he wasn’t in the mood for a heart-to-heart. Jesse wasn’t worried; she knew Logan would come to her if he ever wanted to talk. The two of them had been through hell and back together by this point, so Logan knew there’s never be anything he could say that Jesse would judge him for.
[+red “Insulting the best sport in the North, Eh?”] Hudson called out, literally parting the sea of partiers with his own antics as he slid across the floor in sock feet with a hockey stick in hand. He tossed a bottle to the ground and dribbled it with his stick before finally winding up for a slapshot, sending the bottle soaring across the room until it came to rest right at Arthurs feet .
[+red “He shoots and he scores! Another win for the True North Strong and Free, baby!”] Hudson hollered, making a scene and loving the attention. He slid to a halt next to Arthur, taking a look at the two younger kids that he vaguely recognized from school.
[+red “Hey! It’s the little dude and the psychic chick! Fucken Eh! Arthur this is that kid I told you ‘bout. The one that decked Adam’s little brother in the face! Knocked it fuckin’ tooth out, Man! Fucken Eh!”] Hudson cheered, grinning widely enough to show he was also missing a couple teeth from taking a puck to the face when he was a kid.
[+red “Come on in, Man! Hey, it’s get this party started right, Eh? WHO WANTS SOME SHOTS?!!”] Hudson called out, to which most of the room cheered back. Moments later, small glasses and bottles were being passed around and Hudson’s own shot was sloshing over the edge of his glass as he handed one to both Jesse and Logan.
Jesse took the shot hesitantly, but she knew with Arthur and Hudson’s eyes on them, there was a lot of pressure to take the shot. Well, now was as good a time as any! Jesse clinked her glass to Logan’s in a bit of a cheers before taking a deep breath and taking the shot, feeling the uncomfortable burn in her throat from the cheap liquor.
It wasn’t like Jack hadn’t hear it before, but still, it stung every time Lily brought up his own past with alcohol. He thought he was past it – all the pain, grief, and guilt from Losing Lily when they were kids had driven him to the bottle in an attempt to drown out everything he wasn’t strong enough to handle. But his near death experience, his new lease on life, his re-connection with Logan, and finally, his reunion with Lily made all of that former pain seem like a distant memory. Jack had sworn he would never touch a drop of that vial stuff again in his life… until he did.
It was a few years ago now, but Jack remembered every second. He got a call from Cole saying he’d been to visit their old gang – the Stings. Once, as much of a family as the Street Brats, the Stings were the gang that freed Jack from the orphanage, protected him from his parents, taught him to steal, and eventually introduced him to his current friends and family. They’d had their share of problems… the last time Jack had heard from them, their leaders, Geoff, Frank, and Nina, had been attacked by Jack’s own parents in an attempt to force him out of hiding. Since then, Jack had wanted desperately to reconnect with his old family, but was too nervous about being blamed for the pain they suffered. As it turns out, he was too late. Cole arrived back with news that Geoff was killed by a rival gang and that Nina had been forced to take the kids and disappear. Once again, someone Jack deeply cared about was dead because he hadn’t been there to help. Worst of all, he never got the chance to patch things up with Geoff or Nina.
The next thing Jack knew, he was waking up – cold and soaking wet – in a ditch outside of town, with Lily’s wide, fearful eyes staring down at him. His knuckles were bloody from some bar fight he couldn’t remember, and his head pounded mercilessly from a miserable hangover. It was one night, but it changed everything. Logan started distancing himself again, Lily would look at him like she was scared he would fall off the wagon at any second, and he got a hell of a beating from Tigan the next time he visited. Jack swore it would never happen again, but he knew his promises didn’t mean much anymore. That was why he was so scared for Logan. He never wanted the boy to go down the same dark path that he did.
[#ff6622 “You’re right Lily. Logan’s a smart kid and he’s definitely seen what alcohol can do to a person. I guess we’ll just have to trust him.”] Jack agreed, giving Lilt a more trusting grin. After all, Logan was her son. Jack had done his best to fill the role of father-figure, but he could never have the same kind of bond with Logan as Lily did. If she trusted the boy, that was good enough for Jack.
[#ff6622 “Haha, I think you’re memory’s failing you Lily. I was more of a mushy idiot during that proposal than I’ve ever been in my entire life! I was so sappy, Cole had to walk away in disgust! But if it’s confidence you’re looking for…”] Jack suddenly swooped Lily up in his arms and spin her around, laughing playfully as he did. Whoever thought Jack would mature as he got older was clearly mistaken!
[#ff6622 “Let’s go, Beautiful! There’s a spicy tuna roll calling your name!”] Jack teased, finally setting Lily back down on her feet, with the dog barking happily at their sides.
Lisa didn’t have to ask what Martyn was up to. Even without her near-flawless ability to read others, Lisa knew her partner better than anyone. He wore the same plain expression as he did many years ago, when he’d begrudgingly agree to help Hayden talk her way out of a mess, or reluctantly set aside his rivalry with Elliot to earn the Brats a break from the police. Lisa knew from the moment she walked in that Martyn was lending his talents to another Street Brats, despite his disapproval of their actions. Clearly Logan had gotten himself into trouble at school again.
[+green “At least the boy’s not as bad as Jack and Tigan were at his age. School fight and truancy are far easier to smooth over than underground fight clubs and swimming after sharks.”] Lisa teased, remembering the hell Martyn’s brother and friends went through as young teenagers. Still, Logan did seem to get in his fair share of trouble, and that was only what the adults were aware of! Lisa had no doubt Logan would be expelled by now if Jesse hadn’t been working behind the scenes to cover up half of his antics. Although, Lisa wasn’t quite as impatient with the boy as others may think. Jesse hid it well, but Lisa had caught the odd glance at bruising on her daughter’s arms that always seemed to coincide with Logan getting into fist fights at school. She suspected that Jesse was being bullied and that Logan was simply defending her, but with her daughter being the talented reader and silvertongue that she was, it was incredibly difficult uncovering a truth that Jesse wanted to stay buried.
[+green “A study group? Since when does Jesse like socializing with other students? No, she didn’t tell me much, only that she wouldn’t be home tonight. So either she didn’t want to bother me at work, or she was hiding something. That’s the one consequence of her taking after you, Martyn, that girl is hard to read.”] Lisa admitted. She should be concerned about her daughter’s potential lies, but Lisa wasn’t overly worried. Jesse was responsible and very intelligent. She would stay out of trouble and not call too much attention to herself. Even if she was sneaking behind her parents’ backs, Lisa doubted it would be anything seriously dangerous… that is, unless this was all Logan’s idea.
[+green “Why don’t you take a night off for once, Martyn? We can prepare for the trail in the morning – now that we have an alibi, it won’t be too hard to get the charges dropped. And you haven’t taken a real day off in weeks. Besides, you and I both know you won’t be focused on work until Jesse gets home safe. That girl has you wrapped around her figure, Martyn.”] Lisa smirked, teasing a little about how close the father and daughter were. Sure, they didn’t show affection like most families, but she had seen Martyn spend hours at a time teaching Jesse her skill and telling her stories about his younger days. And Jesse was just as memorized and attentive as she was when she was a child.
[+green “I’m sure Jesse will be fine. She knows how to stay out of trouble and she knows to call us if she ever gets in over her head.”]
So Eddie was acting out against Jesse still. If a sharp punch to the face wasn’t teaching him a lesson, maybe he needed to learn the hard way. Logan made a mental note to himself that the next time he crossed paths with Eddie Quinn, he would teach him a lesson he wouldn’t forget. Logan had watched far too many people in his life get pushed around by people who thought they were bigger than they actually were. He himself never had the intention of becoming a monster, and he certainly didn’t usually go out planning any sort of vengeful justice. His last confrontation with Eddie was spontaneous. He saw his best friend get hurt and his defences took over him. Eddie was lucky that teachers were nearby to split Logan away when they did, otherwise the damage would have been much worse! While Logan had changed from when he was first a Street Brat and Jesse helped keep him on the straight and narrow, there was still the occasions when that barrier broke and he forgot how to deal with day-to-day life. He grew up fighting for his life, facing near-death and protecting those around him from the similar fates. Jesse was the only real friend he had. He wasn’t going to let a school yard bully hurt her, even if it was a far distance from the dangers they faced when they were younger.
[b “Yeah, I’m sure it wasn’t...”] Was all Logan said on the matter, again knowing that the silent conversation with him and Jesse would have already been exchanged. Eddie was pushing his limits and Logan’s patience, there was nothing more to say. Hopefully Eddie wouldn’t be at the party and they could just enjoy their night.
As always Logan was lucky to have Jesse as she quickly changed the tone of the conversation. As she picked up her act, the Sanders smirk grew on his face until she finally had a laughing slipping from his lips. He had to admit Jesse had been his one-way ticket out of detention more than he even wanted to admit! If Jack and Lily even found out half the times he was supposed to be kept behind, they really would be shocked with how much they didn’t have a handle on their son. As Jesse kept up her act, Logan messed his hair up and held his hands over his eyes, mimicking a pair of glasses and sucking in his lips in that up-tight way Mr.Clarkson carried himself.
[b “Miss. Cull, if Mr. Sanders acted as good as you said he did, he’d learn to keep himself out of trouble! He is earning himself a one way ticket out of this school and I promise you, if someone doesn’t pull him straight I will happily lead him out the door myself! This time Miss. Cull, I’ll listen to you. You are right, you are lucky to have me. I’m Mr. Clarkson and I have the biggest ego in the school and that makes me the best and blah blah blah....”] Logan mocked in return, mimicking the teachers voice in return until he couldn’t hold it in anymore. He cracked, laughing more at Jesse’s flawless act.
[b “Honestly Jesse he’s a dick. You’re right though... if anyone can twist his arm, it’s you. Thank god we have enough sob stories to pull from. If you can get me out of a weeks worth of detention, I owe you big time.”] He thanked her and as he pulled out the vodka, he was glad to see the excitement in Jesse’s eyes. Looks like she was really up for a rebellious night as well!
Though as she rested her hand on his arm and read deeper into his thoughts, Logan clenched his fists and stared down at his shoes. She was right. He wasn’t them. He was a normal kid, living a normal life which they never had. Jack wouldn’t understand. He never got to do anything like this and that’s why for Logan it was going to be different. He could do what every other normal kid did. He could have a drink, have fun, let loose...
[b “Maybe I’ll get you doing something rebellious for once as well. We’ll see Jesse...”] Logan brushed the concern off, not allowing himself to dwell on his bloodline too much. This was their night, which they had been excited for and they were going to enjoy it!
Once Jesse was secure on the board Logan pushed off and headed towards the address, being careful to avoid any routes which he knew either of their parents would travel down at this time of day. It didn’t take long to find their destination. As they got on the street, a car drove past all filled with teenagers honking the horn, music blasting and hanging out the doors with drinks already in their hands. The music from the car didn’t compare from the music fighting its way through the walls of a home a few doors down. The neighbourhood was far fancier than anything Logan could ever imagine himself living in... in fact it was probably closer to Jesse’s standard of living! The difference was, the house they were approaching was free from any responsibility. No adults, no one telling anyone to stop, just a group of kids from one school taking it over for a night of memories, high-school drama’s, and regrets...
[+blue “GOAL! Come on England! A proper sport, not like that hockey bollocks. Hudson!? Hudson you prat, throw me another Guinness”] Arthur shouted from the patio door, watching his phone screen as the football took place. Himself and Hudson were the hosts for this party and were known across the school for their antics. Mixing a Canadian and a Brit together always came with its antics, and they definitely loved to show it off.
Logan stopped near the door, watching as the group from the car pulled out crates of beer and large bottles of spirits, rushing into the house and instantly feeling embarrassed that all he managed to get was a lousy bottle of vodka.
[b “Alright Jesse, you ready?”] Logan asked, flipping his board up under his arm but just as he approached the door, Arthur held his arm out to block them both.
[+blue “Whoa, who invited the babies?”]
[b “Who do you think you’re talking to?”]
[+blue “Oh erm, I think I was talking to that brick wall. Hold on...just be quiet for a second... wait, wait for it... No, no response. I was talking to you, you little shit... Hudson! For Christ sake mate, where’s my drink and did you invite these or not?”]
[+orange “You always were a charmer Jack Sanders.”] Lily closed her eyes and let a warm a comforting smile spread across her face as he brushed her hair out of her face. It was a small gesture, one most couples probably would have taken for granted, but to Lily it was one of the most comforting gestures in the world. It let her know she was safe. No one could hurt her because Jack was by her side. She had been forced to do so many things against her will, hurt, betrayed... so that one little thing that reminded her that it was all going to be ok - it was why she loved him. It was why she hated herself for not letting herself love him sooner. He was always there for her, always by her side. It meant more now than she ever let Jack know.
When they walked and talked, Lily’s emotions shifted. She was safe around Jack and she knew he would at least listen, but their relationship with Logan wasn’t as comforting. Just after the Brat’s had broken out of prison, things between the brothers seemed good. Strong even! Logan accepted Jack as his father and they were ready to be a family. Only as time went on and they split their ties with the Brats and they struggled with their new start, the relationship crumbled. Lily wanted it so desperately to work, which was why she wanted Jack to give Logan some freedom. Maybe if Jack could trust Logan and Logan could see that, things would get better again? It might even boost Jack’s confidence!
Listening to Jack’s side of the story, Lily let out a deep sigh and squeezed his hand tightly.
[+orange “Jack... look... don’t take this personally, but the one thing that should stop that boy doing anything stupid is knowing exactly what alcohol can do.”] Lily went straight in, wanting to get the hardest part over first.
[+orange “You never got to experience a normal childhood but kids do rebellious things. They do stupid things and it is how they learn! I... I want the best for him, I really do but think about it. That boy has had to fight since he was born. Not just fight, he had to survive! He’s not on deaths door anymore Jack. He doesn’t have anyone hunting him down or trying to kill him. He’s a kid, doing what other kids do. I don’t think he’ll drink and we just have to trust him.”] Lily explained, trying to get Jack to see the perspective. It didn’t mean she wasn’t worried. Logan at a potential part just seemed like a disaster and part of her was already doubting her own words. Maybe Jack should have been out looking for him...
[+orange “And will you stop being so down on yourself! You think I’m any good at the parenting thing? Jack, I’m guessing everyday! We both are. I have never been so glad to have someone to make this up with as we are going along because doing it on my own... I don’t even want to imagine with that boy....”] Lily told him, wishing Jack had more confidence in himself. They had their troubles but they wouldn’t have even got to a normal life without how much they had fought together.
[+orange “Now, I want my Jack Sanders with confidence like the day he proposed to me and not this mushy idiot. Sushi sounds good and I want the all you can eat menu. I’m starved and you owe me for every piece of self-doubt you’ve thrown at me in the last couple of minutes. That’s a lot of sushi.”] Lily teased back in return, trying to take his mind from Logan. It wouldn’t be easy, she was doubting all her decisions but what choice did they have? This was the normal world now and it was completely different to the life of a Street Brat.
[+green “Logan Sanders is a prime example of a student being stereotyped, without the pivotal support a young boy needs after the trauma he has been through. The system is failing him, and will continue to fail him, unless the right support is allocated. Logan Sanders must not be suspended from school if he is to have any hope. After all, we wouldn’t want the school to be labelled as one who let’s its students fail in their highest time of need, would we?”]
The words were silk, smooth, and charming. They could only come from the mouth of one man in the city. Martyn Cull spoke with the eloquence of a true politician, but his face was as still and emotionless as it had always been. Luckily he didn’t have the play the part or act any differently. His words always seemed to be enough. He sat at his desk with his office phone on loudspeaker to his usual Friday evening connections... Jesse’s and Logan’s school had been a direct point of contact since they had been living their more than normal life. When Jesse failed to keep Logan in line, it would often be Martyn swaying the Head not to throw the boy out. Of course it was always with a pre-phone call from Lily. The woman had been through enough. If Martyn could help in one way, it was keeping their boy in education, as much as he resented how much Jesse was involved.
The call continued for another few minutes, before Martyn in his own way of victory, was already moving onto his next task. There was no smirk, no smile to himself, instead he continued as if it was just another tick box.
[+green “Thank you for your consideration. Good evening now.”]
Just as Martyn pressed the button to hang up, he heard the knock on the door and didn’t bother looking up. He knew exactly who it would be and he continued to sign the paperwork on his desk as the file was dropped down in front of him.
[+green “Perhaps I can talk to him in paying us extra for his divorce then?”] He asked, finishing his last signature and finally looking up at Lisa and allowing his lip just to show the slightest hint of a smile. He was getting better at showing his emotions but only in front of Lisa and it still wasn’t anything compared to any of the other Street Brat couples. Still, it was their understanding. He knew Lisa would be able to see the pride in his eyes that she cracked the case, and perhaps even the small amount of humour he was trying to make out of it.
Glancing over the file, Martyn then tucked it into his bag to take home and study for the court case ahead and accepted it was probably time to finish up their work. Mr. Dent was the last client of the day and while Martyn would have stayed in work all night if he could, he was trying to get better at making sure he was around for his family.
[+green “Jesse? Oh, yes. She phoned me earlier. Exams are coming up so she is going to a study group; whatever kids do. Staying over, extra revision in the morning. Strange, did she not tell you anything about it?”] Martyn asked as he continued to pack his things. He wasn’t a reader by any stretch of the imagination, but it did raise his suspicion a little bit. Still, it wasn’t enough to cause great concern. Jesse was smart, ahead of the other students. That may have been due to her age and the fact they forced her to drop down a year for her own protection and lie about her age to the school, but even then she was smart. Martyn just saw the story that perhaps the other students in her class needed the support from Jesse! After all she was the brightest in her year!
[+green “Sanders are on a thin line too. Again. Seems the school are concerned Logan is pulling Jesse with him and they wanted to express their concern. Of course I told them not to worry about Jesse, she’s very aware what to stay away from.”] Martyn explained what he had been up to while she was with Mr.Dent. He had been out of office most of the day dealing with other court cases. Finally loosening his tie, Martyn grabbed his coat and bag and headed towards the door. As he did however, he stopped in front of Lisa and again let the tiniest of smiles show.
[+green “You did good today. Now, I have more work to look at, at home. I think we should be heading back. I’d like to be near if Jesse wants us to pick her up. It’s not like her to want to stay around with a group of students so, if she is making friends, that’s good. I’d just like to be near and away from the office, just incase”]
Jesse crossed the school yard, watching as the emotions played across her best friend’s face even before she reached him. Logan wasn’t a reader, but he knew her well enough by now to know when something was wrong. She could tell he was concerned even before he asked the questions. To anyone else, Jesse would have buried her expression behind the impenetrable mask she inherited from her mother and charmed her talked her way out of the questions with non-committal responses and quick changes of the subject, just like her father. But after everything Jesse and Logan went through as kids, she had promised herself she would never lie to him. Logan had been tricked, manipulated, and betrayed by too many people in his past, and he deserved the truth, especially from his best friend. Besides, he would find out sooner or later – Eddie had a habit of bragging about his efforts to terrorize Jesse, knowing it would get a reaction out of Logan. So rather than cover it up, Jesse flashed Logan a rather sheepish look and shrugged.
[#aa0000 “Yeah. He just shoved me. It wasn’t as bad as last time.”] She admitted, knowing she didn’t need to bother with names. As an outcast, Jesse was picked on by several of the other kids, but only Eddie was stupid enough to make it physical, knowing Logan was always there to defend her. Two weeks ago, Eddie cornered her when she was waiting on Logan to get out of detention. He shoved her in a locker and pushed a bookshelf in front of the door so she couldn’t get out. Jesse may not particularly be afraid of small, dark spaces, but the feeling of being trapped, all alone, with no one to find her was NOT a comforting feeling. Eddie definitely deserved the broken nose and missing tooth Logan gave him for that one!
[#aa0000 “Logan Sanders, are you underestimating me?”] Jesse asked with a smug grin. In an instant, her expression morphed into a sad, pleading look.
[#aa0000 “Oh, Mr. Clarkson! Thank you so much for being so understanding with Logan! His Aunt Tori had another weak spell and… they almost lost her. Lily was so scared! If she didn’t have Logan, I’m not sure how she would have got through it! You have no idea what it means to them that you’re so understanding with Logan. Most teachers would be so cold and unsympathetic; they might even give him detention! But I know you would never do that Sir. You’d never punish a kid for trying to keep his family strong in the midst of a tragedy! That’s why we’re so lucky to have you Mr. Clarkson. Really, I can’t thank you enough!”] Jesse cooed, her act flawless, with just the right emotion for a caring friend yet tying in one hell of a guilt trip – making Mr. Clarkson look like a heartless bastard if he did give Logan the detention. Once her act was over, Jesse snapped back to her smug grin, having proven her point. Over the years, her skills had only grown stronger. She’d like to see Mr. Clarkson try to weasel his way around a Silvertongue like her!
Although Jesse was joking about Logan being a bad influence, it was clear her friendship with him had its impacts over the years. Jesse was still timid and introverted, not one for making friends, and untrusting of anyone until she was able to read them. But she had learned to let loose, have fun, and even be a little rebellious on occasion thanks to Logan. So when he produced the bottle of vodka, a glint of excitement shone behind her eyes, at least until Logan’s mind wandered to his deeper concerns. Jesse – not usually one for much physical contact – reached out and put a supportive hand on Logan’s arm.
[#aa0000 “You’re not him, Logan.”] Jesse said, not stating whether she meant Jack or Rick because her statement was true for both.
[#aa0000 “You’ll never know if this is going to be an issue until you try. Rick drank through his rage, and Jack through his depression. You’re stronger than both of them. Besides, if anything does go wrong, I’ll be right there with you. You know I won’t let you do anything you’ll regret.”] Jesse promised, knowing Logan had his own reasons for doing this. She knew the risks – alcoholism did run in his family, and this could potentially be a huge mistake for Logan. But then at least they’d know to keep him away from the booze. And if it wasn’t a problem, it would do wonders for his confidence to know he’s nothing like his father!
[#aa0000 “Trust me Logan, the parents will never have to know. Lily will guilt Jack into letting you have a night out, and my mom and dad would never believe their perfect angel was out drinking!”] She said with full confidence. Jesse stepped on Logan’s board, hanging on to his so she didn’t fall off. Everything would be great tonight as long as they didn’t get too drunk… easier said than done for two teens going to their first high school party.
[#ff6622 “You better be, Lil, you know I don’t settle for second best.”] Jack teased Lily back, flashing his signature smirk and reaching up to tuck a stray strand of Lily’s hair behind her ear – something he did all the time when they were kids. Jack had matured a lot over the years – he was a hard worker, responsible, a little more cautious, and far less reckless – but in other ways, he was still very much the same Jack that kissed Lily on that boat years before. Even as she leaned up to kiss him, Jack wondered how in the hell they had made it through everything to wind up here: living the life or a normal, happy, married couple.
[#ff6622 “Well, you’ve put up with me this long, the least I can do is walk you home. Come on Nova, let’s go girl.”] Jack called, taking Lily’s hand as she continued the conversation, growing a little nervous. As soon as she asked him to listen, he knew this was going to be about Logan. He loved the boy like he was his own son, but Logan had a rebellious streak that even put Jack to shame! All Jack wanted was to keep the kid safe and put him on the path to a brighter future, but Logan seemed determined to derail him at every turn! Still, with Lily’s hand squeezing his Jack nodded, promising to listen before he acted.
So Logan was staying over at a friend’s house tonight? Was it just a coincidence that he was staying out all night the same week Jack caught three of his classmates stealing booze? Not likely. But Lily did have a good point. Logan lives the first six years of his life with no guidance, no rules, and no one to watch over him. It was hardly a surprise he acted out now that he had two overly cautious parents hovering over him every second. Jack knew he needed to trust the boy more and let him have hi independence, but why the hell did it have to be the same week Jack suspected an under-aged party?
[#ff6622 “Lily… maybe it’s nothing, it’s just… I caught three kids staling from the store this week. All of them around Logan’s age. Makes me think there’s gonna be some big party tonight, and with Logan staying out… You don’t think he’s going to be drinking, do you?”] Jack asked, the uncertainly colouring his voice.
[#ff6622 “I know I should trust him more than that. Logan’s seen first hand what alcohol can do, especially to my bloodline. It’s just… I’m scared for him Lil. I love that kid too much to see him get into trouble. Damnit, I’m bad at this parenting thing! What the hell were you thinking, asking me to help raise that boy?”] Jack said, his tone half-joking, but in a way that was poorly covering how nervous he was. If it were up to him, he’d run out right now, track Logan down, and drag the kid back home just so he could make sure he stayed out of trouble. But Lily was right, he had to give the boy some space. Jack just hoped Logan would make wise decisions.
[#ff6622 “Well, chances are even if I did say no, Logan’s going to find a way to sneak out anyway. He’s stubborn and mischievous, just like his mother! I guess we’ll just have to trust him. Besides, I’d trade the world for a night with you, you know that Lily. Why don’t I take you to dinner tonight? We could go to that Sushi place you love?”] Jack offered, and despite his worry for Logan, he was honestly looking forward to some quality time with the love of his life.
A red headed woman in a dark suit sat across the table from a nervous looking, silver-haired businessman. The man had been accused of poisoning his business partner, and despite his claims to be innocent, he had yet to give an alibi for where he was the night of the murder. So far, he had motive and opportunity, with everything to gain from the death of his partner, and no proof that he was ‘home watching the game’ like he claimed. But this man had come to the best law firm in the city, and his lawyers were determined to get to the truth, even if their client wasn’t exactly pleased with their methods.
[+green “Where were you the night of the murder, Mr. Dent?”]
[i “I told you! I was at home watching the…”]
[+green “I think we’re done here, Mr. Dent. If you’re not going to be honest with me, then I’m afraid we’re no longer interested in your case.”] The woman interrupted bluntly. She gathered her filed and stood from the table, turning her back to the shocked and desperate looking man.
[i “No wait! You said you’d help me!”]
[+green “And you said you wouldn’t lie to us, Mr. Dent. I see no reason to keep my end of this bargain if you refuse to keep yours.”]
[i “But I’m not lying, I was really at home watching… NO! Wait! Ok, alright! I’ll tell you!”] The man finally said as his lawyer moved to leave the office. When he finally agreed to tell the truth, the woman turned back to face him, reading the truth behind his eyes even before the words brushed his lips.
[+green “Excellent. Now that you’re ready to be honest with me, let’s start: how long have you been having an affair with your secretary?”]
The meeting lasted only another 10 minutes before the doors opened and Lisa Cull walked out of the meeting with a victorious gleam in her eyes. She walked straight to her partner’s office, knocking on the door before stepping in and handing over the file.
[+green “I told you he was hiding something. Dent’s been sleeping with his secretary for the past 6 months. He was with her the night of the murder, which means our client is innocent. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble swaying the jury. Not that you needed the confession for that, Silvertongue.”] Lisa Cull stated, flashing a confident smirk towards Martyn. The two of them had been quite successful ever since they started this law firm. After severing public ties with the Street Brats, taking Lisa’s name to hide their identities, and establishing their reputation, Lisa and Martyn had managed to build a new, safer life for themselves in this city. They still saw their family over holidays of course – it was hard to avoid family ties with people like Hayden and Tigan – but aside from that, only Jack and Lily were still in their lives now, and they too had turned their backs on the precarious lives of the Street Brats.
Lisa and Martyn were far from the happy, romantic, fairy-tale couple, but they had their own unique bond. A reader and a silvertongue, raising a perfect protégé, operating one of the most successful firms in the city. After all, who could beat a team of lawyers no one could lie to or say no to?
[+green “Jesse texted me earlier and said she wouldn’t be home tonight. Any idea what she’s up to?”] Lisa asked, not too concerned. Jesse was highly trained and naturally skilled in both reading and manipulation. Lisa was confident her daughter would keep herself out of trouble.
There wasn’t many things that brought fear or concern to Logan Sanders. He’d been through it all, more than what any kid in the school apart from Jesse would understand. He was beaten by his alcoholic father from the moment he was born, leaving a thick scar across the top of his head which was hidden by his blonde hair. He had very little comfort and starved, until the moment when he could finally walk... then he met Jack. The one person at the time he thought he could trust, only to be struck by him as well. Of course a lot had changed over the years. Logan built up that relationship with his brother, even calling him dad at the points when things were going alright, but ever since Jack relapsed things hadn’t been quite the same. Logan managed to get himself on the straight and narrow for a couple of years but the moment Jack fell, so did Logan. His rebellious nature came back out. He started to stop caring in school and his grades started to slip. Eventually a week wouldn’t go by when a cop wouldn’t be bringing him home, or the Sanders would have to beg Jesse’s parents to get him out of some sort of trouble. It had been a rocky road, so when it came to not much causing Logan fear, that much was true. However there was still two very strong triggers for the teenager...
The first was darkness and isolation. Even though he was only a baby when Rick locked him away for hours, even days on end, Logan never grew out of that terror. He still couldn’t sleep with the door closed, and without admitting it to anyone he would often have his phone light on by his side during the night.
His second trigger was anyone who laid a finger on anyone he cared about. So if anyone messed with Jesse, it often came with a furious rampage from Logan. So as he sat on the top of the statue with his eyes sharply examining the yard, his hand curled tightly around his cheap phone as he waited for Jesse to come out. The bell had gone, so she didn’t have the excuse of class and she didn’t talk to anyone else if she could help it. Jesse was also an annoying perfectionist, so half a text wouldn’t have cut it. Eddie should have counted himself lucky... if Jesse didn’t make good her escape when she did, Logan would have soon been making his way to find his best friend. If he found Eddie doing what he was doing to Jesse, it would have been more than a missing tooth and a split lip this time round...
As soon as Logan saw his friend that familiar Sanders grin crossed his face. He was already waiting for it, timing how long it would take her to realise what sort of mess he had gotten himself into today. Even from far away he couldn’t mess that expression on her face. The, ‘not again’, roll of the eyes. He couldn’t blame her. Logan would have spent his life in detention if it wasn’t for Jesse and no doubt in even worse trouble outside of school! It’s why he was always by her side when he could help it. Jesse was the only person he could fully trust. Despite everything he had done wrong in the past and the amount of times he turned his back on her, Jesse was always by his side. You couldn’t buy that type of friendship. Hell, as much as he hated to admit it, maybe Rylan was right. The Street Brat motto seemed to carry out through life.
[b “You alright?”] Logan asked straight away as Jesse got close. He wasn’t smart enough, let alone skilled enough to be able to tell if something had happened, but he trusted her enough that if it anything did and it was serious, she would tell him.
[b “Well maybe if someone was actually rebellious for once and met me outside of class, I wouldn’t get in trouble. Or we would get caught together and I wouldn’t be so bored in detention on my own... I wish you could Jesse but it was Mr. Clarkson. He’s out to get me. I don’t think any words would get me out of his detention. He enjoys watching me suffer too much.”] Logan smirked and using his legs to hang on the top of the statue, he lowered himself so he was upside down with his head on top of Jesse’s.
[b “Bad influence? Me? Maybe it’s the other way around. You’re the one who seems to find ways for me to get into trouble. Don’t play so innocent...”] Logan laughed and as he did, he slipped a small bottle of vodka from his inside jacket, playfully balancing it on Jesse’s head.
[b “Maybe tonight you’ll let loose. Jack’s not as clever as he thinks he is... thing with teaching me how to steal is I’m far too good at it. I told you I’d be able to get us something by the end of the week!”] Glancing up, Logan quickly snatched the bottle back into his jacket just as some of the teachers were rallying the final students onto the school buses. With a disapproving look and a final test of their patience, Logan finally jumped down from the statue and rolled his eyes before sitting down next to Jesse.
He wasn’t sure how she’d react. Logan had been harping on about the party for weeks, practically begging Jesse to help him come up with an excuse but he was almost going to keep his prize a secret... his biological father was an abusive drinker and his brother turned father was the exact same! In a way Logan wanted this in a way Jesse would only be able to see... he wasn’t just going to this party for the fact it was the coolest most normal teenage thing that could happen for them, but he wanted to prove to himself he wasn’t like his dad or Jack. He wanted to prove he could have a drink and just be, well, normal. Logan wasn’t a monster and with his own rebellious stubbornness, he wanted to prove it. Jesse would be the only person in the world who would be able to get that from him, which was why he didn’t say anything more on the matter. Instead he nudged her shoulder and grabbed his board.
[b “I got the address from another kid in class. Come on, hop on the back. You sure this will work? Our parents won’t freak out and come and hunt us down, right? That’ll be so embarrassing!”]
Lily was still the same in many respects. She was bright and bubbly most of the time, always finding an excuse to laugh and joke. However she still also had that fiery spirit. Stubborn, and fighting for the last word if an argument occurred. She really hadn’t changed in most regards, at least, that’s why she tried to get people around her to believe. After what happened with Rick and the other monsters in her life, Lily never quite fully recovered. Her trust in the world was shattered and unless Jack or Logan was around, her confidence was knocked completely. She was glad the day Jack came home with Nova, beforehand she never would have left the house on her own but even now as she walked down the street, there was anxiety all over her.
One hand held tightly onto Nova’s leash, while her other hand was wrapped tightly around the fabric of her shirt, pulling it close. As if anyone at any moment might try to grab her and pull it off. She walked with a quick pace, her eyes observant of her surroundings but her head hung low. Lily would never walk like this if Jack or Logan was next to her but now that she was venturing on her own, that constant fear shadowed her every move.
Nova and Lily were just around the corner from Jack’s work when they stopped at a set of traffic lights. As they waited, Lily lifted her head up and as she did, her breath caught in her throat. A white van slowed to a standstill and her heart began to race. It was just like Rick’s van. The same as that night... Instinctively she pulled on Nova’s leash, bringing her closer and pulling even tighter on her shirt. She was just about to turn and change direction, when the van driver beeped his horn and rolled down his window.
[+green “Lady! Move! I’m waitin’ for ya to cross!”] He shouted, pointing at the crossing countdown on the traffic lights.
[+orange “Oh... oh um, thank you.”] Lily’s voice barely broke loud enough for him to hear, and it took all her courage to step in front of that van. Even then she kept a barrier behind Nova as she crossed the road until finally, Jack’s shop was in sight.
Lily’s pace picked up even more as she wanted nothing more at this point than to be in the safety of her husband, but fortunately it wasn’t needed for long. Just as she came into view of the shop, she watched as Jack stepped out and an instant bright smile spread across her face. The Lily from down the road was completely different to the Lily standing in front of Jack. He was her strength, her confidence... at least, until she saw the bottle in his hand.
Her mind instantly raced to the worse. Was he being sent home from working for drinking? He wasn’t meant to be finishing yet. Had he been sacked? He didn’t have the signs she had learned from counselling. She didn’t dare let her concerns show on her face in fear of triggering her husband, but that moment of instant panic washed over her thoughts. Though the moment his hand touched her cheek, her own hand which had been tightly wrapped in her shirt rested on his chest and that familiar blush washed over her cheeks. Even after all this time, Jack Sanders still caught Lily off guard and still had those butterflies fluttering around her stomach.
[+orange “I really needed to see you too. I’d say great minds think alike but we all know I’m far greater...”] Lily teased but she was waiting for an explanation. Why was he finishing early? Why was he holding that bottle?
The moment he spoke however Lily felt a wave of regret and shame. She should have trusted him more. Of course he was going to surrender it. Things had just been hard since his last relapse. She thought he would never succumb to drink again and yet they had to battle together to save him from falling completely. It wasn’t easy and things happened which Logan never should have seen in their ‘normal’ life, but adjusting to the norm wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be. As Jack handed her the bottle, she smiled warmly and took it from his hand and as she did, she leant up on her tip toes and kissed him gently.
[+orange “Good thing I like baggage.”] She whispered, tucking the bottle into the bag over her shoulder and grabbing his hand.
[+orange “Don’t apologise Jack, I’m here for you. We’re in this together, right? Talking of which... I need to run something by you but please, just listen before you go head-hunting our son.”] Lily pre-warned and squeezed his hand to try and assure him in advance to stay calm.
[+orange “Logan phoned. He said he’s staying at a friends tonight. I know he’s been causing a lot of trouble recently but... I think he’s acting out so much because we keep forcing him to stay in and not have any friends. I just want to give him a chance. One chance. I know we’re worried about him Jack but maybe he needs this?”] Lily explained, staring at Jack for a second knowing this could go one of two ways. Either he listened and gave Logan a chance, or she would have just instigated Jack’s mission to hunt his brother down! Maybe not giving him a chance to think was what he needed...
[+orange “Please Jack, one night. Besides maybe me and you could have just some time together? I think we could both use each other’s company today, right? Peace and quiet, me and you... we haven’t had that for a few weeks...”] She took a step closer again, running her free hand across his face and stopping just on his jaw line.
[+orange “Jack Sanders I’m not really giving you a choice. You’re going to come home with me and we are going to enjoy a night together whether you like it or not.”]
Scanning the room full of students, the English teacher’s eyes fell upon the only one in the room who’s eyes were down, focused only on her desk. It was no surprise that the student, with straight, dark red hair, was bent over the worn pages of her leather journal, scribbling line after line of nonsense instead of paying attention. Jessica Cull had always been an odd one. Seemingly timid and shy, but always boasting confidence when she spoke out in class. She never paid attention to the lectures, yet always had the right answers – as was shown by her near perfect grades. It frustrated the teacher to no end; and she took every opportunity to try to catch the young girl off guard.
[#226699 “Ms. Cull? What is your opinion on the subject?”] The slight inflection in Mrs. Markham’s voice caught Jessie’s attention, alerting her that the grey-haired woman was awaiting an answer. There was a smug twinkle in the woman’s eyes as she assumed – correctly – that Jesse was not paying attention to her lesson. Jesse often used her class time to practice her writing, scribbling down her thoughts and observations in the leather journal her father gave her over the holidays. Since she had already studied the curriculum in her own free time, she really saw no point in forcing herself to pay attention to the monotonous droning of her English teacher. Mrs. Markham seemed to consider it her mission to catch Jesse unaware and shame her in front of the entire class, but Jesse never gave her the chance. With a brief second to scan the room, taking in the information scrawled on the board, and reading her teacher’s expression, Jesse returned a polite smile and gave her answer:
[#aa0000 “It’s a trick question, Mrs. Markham. The main character can’t be classified as a traitor if he was never on their side to begin with. He had no moral obligation to help them. He didn’t ‘switch sides’, he simply stayed true to his original intentions of self-preservation.”] Jesse answered, secretly delighting in the scowl that crossed Mrs. Markham’s expression. Before the teacher could think of some way to contradict the statement, the bell rang to release the class and Jesse packed her text book and leather journal in her bag before skirting out of the room.
Jesse’s phone buzzed in her pocket and she took it out, unsurprised to see a message from Logan. He had been trying to get an invite to this party for weeks now, and it would have been a shame for it all to be for nothing when Jack and Lily said no. Jesse didn’t particularly like manipulating Jack and Lily. The two former Street Brats had been through hell and back, so lying and conning them just seemed… wrong. But it’s not like this was a big con. They just wanted to go to a house party; what could possibly go wrong there? If all went well, the Sanders would never even know they lied.
[i “See? I told you playing the ‘trust me’ card would work. I’m on my way. I’ll meet you at the…”] Jesse accidently sent the text unfinished after feeling a harsh knock to her shoulder. She turned to see the cocky sneer of one of her least-favourite people: Eddie Quinn. Eddie was tall for his age, with a little more weight to throw around than his class mates. He was the youngest of three brothers who picked on him constantly; the product of a broken home with no parental support, no financial stability, and no form of empowerment for the children. In an utterly helpless situation, Eddie sought power and control the only way he knew he could get it, making him a fairly typically school yard bully. Unfortunately, Jesse’s stable family life, close friend, financial security, and effortless success in school made her an easy target.
[#770000 “Watch where you’re going, Freak!”] Eddie spat, shoving her again until her pack was against the locker.
[#aa0000 “Careful Edward. The last time you messed with me, you walked away with a broken nose and a missing tooth.”] Jesse pointed out, watching the boy’s lip curl into a snarl, revealing the gap in his teeth that wasn’t there two weeks ago. He should have known better than to try to pick on Jesse right in front of Logan.
[#770000 “Yeah? Well your boyfriend isn’t here to protect you this time, Freak! You better shut your mouth before you get hurt!”] Eddie growled, getting right in Jesse’s face. [i Words will only get you hurt.] The familiar line rushed back to Jesse’s mind, sending a chill down her spine. After this many years, you would think Jesse had recovered from her feel of Gordon and the merciless lessons he taught, but those words still haunted Jesse – still served as a barrier to her skills and gifts. Jesse was just much better at hiding it these days.
With a flawless mask, Jesse stared back at the bully, reading his own fears and insecurities. He couldn’t afford another suspension, so that gave Jesse what she needed. She shifted her gaze over Eddie’s shoulder and her eyes lit up with an eager hopefulness.
[#aa0000 “Mr. Clarkson!”] She called out, knowing the fear of getting in trouble would cause Eddie to hurriedly back away, giving Jesse time to slip past and get herself lost in the crowd of students. Of course, Mr. Clarkson was nowhere to be seen, but since when did Jesse have to rely on the truth to get her way?
Not wanting Logan to be worried by her unfinished text, Jesse swiftly made her way out the front doors to see Logan climbing on the school statue. With a quick roll of her eyes, she made her way over – her dark red hair easily spotted in the sea of students. As she got closer, she could see the events of the last few minutes easily splayed out on his face. Great – more detention.
[#aa0000 “You can’t stay out of trouble for more than 5 minutes can you? Need me to talk you out of detention again?”] She offered, pulling herself up to sit on the base of the statue. Jesse had Logan had an interesting friendship - one built on an unforgiving past and a lot of give and take. Lisa used to tell her daughter that the only person in her life she trusted was Martyn. She knew she loved him because he was the only person in the world she didn’t have to read. Jesse felt the same about Logan. They had been through hell and back when they were kids, and the adjustment to a normal life wasn’t exactly an easy transition. In the process, Jesse found herself losing faith in the others. Rylan and Alex never truly forgave them for leaving the Brats, and even Carla couldn’t fully understand how it was safer on their own. Xana had traded her life of luxury for a life on the streets with Erlina and Henson, and the sisters really didn’t see much of each other these days. But If Jesse had to choose one of her old crew to stay with through the years, she was glad it was Logan. Both were outsiders in their own right, and protected each other in their own unique ways. Besides, if there was anyone who deserved a normal, happy family life, it was Logan.
[#aa0000 “I lucked out. Mom was working late last night, so I just had to ask my father about the party. It’s far easier to lie to him. Although, I think he’s starting to think you’re a bad influence on me.”] Jesse said with a teasing smirk.
[#ff6622 “Put it back, Kid.”] A firm voice rang out, startling the boy who had just slipped a mickey of Fireball into his jacket. He hastily looked around, not seeing anyone at first until a bottle on the top shelf slid to the side revealing the scarred face behind it. Jack Sanders stood in the aisle behind, watching the boy who was far too young to be in the liquor store to begin with. By the look of him, the kid was around Logan’s age – making him the third underage kid he’d kicked out this week. Jack knew what that meant: there was a party this weekend. For what seemed like the millionth time, Jack silently pleaded that Logan would be home and stay out of trouble for once in his life!
[+green “What?! I didn’t…”]
[#ff6622 “Cut the crap, Kid. Put the bottle back and walk away. Oh, and while you’re at it, you can give me the wallet you swiped off the guy stalking shelves when you walked in.”] Jack stated, noticing the slight bulge in the kid’s jacket pocket. He’d seen the brat ‘accidently’ knock into the employee on his way in and Jack had done that move far too many times in his past not to see it for what it truly was.
At first the boy looked fearful, but once he realized Jack wasn’t going to call the cops or escort him from the store, his expression turned more to confusion.
[+green “How the hell did you know?”]
[#ff6622 “Trust me, Kid, you’re not as smooth as you think you are. And If I could catch you from across the room, you better believe the next store you try to rip off will catch you too, and they won’t be near as lenient. Now give me the wallet and the bottle and get lost. I don’t want to see you in here again, got it?”] Jack stated sharply, letting the kid sheepishly return the bottle to the shelf and drop the wallet on the ground before hastily slipping from the store.
Jack sighed, kneeling to pick up the wallet to return to his colleague when he felt a sharp gaze at his back.
[#007777 “It happened again, didn’t it? What did the little fucker try to steal this time?!”] Jack recognized the harsh tone of his boss – a man who was considerably less forgiving than Jack when it came to thieves in his place of business… if only he knew who he hired!
[#ff6622 “It was harmless, Tom. I caught him before he took anything. Look, here’s Adam’s wallet. No harm done…”]
[#007777 “No harm done? Those little thieving bastards need to learn a lesson, and that’s not going to happen if you keep letting them off with a warning! The next brat who comes in here to steal my stuff better be leaving in handcuffs, or else you’ll be leaving without a paycheck, understand me Jack?”]
[#ff6622 “Of course, Tom.”]
[#007777 “Look Jack, you’re a nice guy. But nice guys don’t survive out here in the real world.”] Tom lectured. Jack inwardly rolled his eyes at the irony. He’d grown up in the ‘real world’ his entire life and he managed to survive just fine. If his boss knew even a fraction of the shit Jack lived through… of course, if he did, he never would have hired him in the first place! It wasn’t easy for a guy with no education, no real work experience, and no applicable skills to find a decent job in this city. Which is why Jack ended up working at the absolute WORST place a recovering alcoholic could possible go. It was a struggle every day, but without this job, he wouldn’t be able to help support Lily and Logan. For those two, Jack would do anything.
Tom must have mistaken Jack’s concern for his family for simple distraction. He never was the most observant of managers – thought that often worked in Jack’s favour. Om grabbed a bottle of wine from the shelf – a fancy bottle Jack wouldn’t hope to afford even if he did drink – and handed it to the man.
[#ff6622 “You’re distracted Jack. It’s your anniversary, right? Why don’t you take the rest of the day off. Bring that bottle home and treat that girl of yours. You look like you could use a night off. But don’t think I’ll be so lenient next time, Jack. I meant what I said – either those little thieves start walking out in cuffs, or you’re done here.”] Tom warned, placing the bottle in Jack’s hand. Jack didn’t bother correcting him – his anniversary with Lily wasn’t until next week – but he could use a few hours off. This hadn’t exactly been a great couple of days and Jack was worn out. The familiar weight of the bottle in his hand made Jack feel nauseous. He’d had a relapse a few years back, and had to start from scratch to get clean again. Since then, he hadn’t touched a drop, but it was a constant struggle, especially when his boss just openly handed him the poison in the form of a gift!
Jack found himself zoning out, staring at the label without moving, not even noticing when Tom walked away. He felt his pulse race a little, his breathing hitch, but before he could sink too far into his troubled mind a familiar bark caught his attention. Jack looked up, seeing a comforting sight through the window and it was enough to snap him out of his daze.
[#ff6622 “Thank you for the time off, Tom. I’ll see you on Monday!”] Jack said, hurrying out of the store with the bottle still in hand. As soon as he caught sight of Lily, his expression softened and that classic, Jack Sander’s smirk played across his face. She really was the light of his world.
[#ff6622 “There’s my two favourite girls. You have incredibly timing Lily, I really needed to see you.”] Jack said, gently resting one hand along Lily’s cheek, feeling Nova nudge his other hand as it gripped the fancy bottle of wine.
[#ff6622 “I uh… I need to get out of here for a bit. And this… can you take it? Maybe Martyn and Lisa will like it, it seems classy enough for them. I just… I’m sorry Lil. I bet you never thought you’d wind up married to someone with so much baggage, eh?”] Jack said, feeling a little self-conscious as he handed her the bottle. He should have enough self-control to have the bottle in the house and not drink it, but Jack didn’t trust himself after what happened a few years back. He wondered, like he often did as a kid, what the hell Lily saw in him.
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