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