Three Months Later, the day after the Yakavetta trial; Birmingham, Alabama
I settle back in my desk chair, blowing out a long breath between pursed lips. The paper in front of me (well, essay, really; I'm staring at a computer screen, so I don't rightly feel I can call it a paper until I've printed it out) blurs a little, and I dig the heels of my palms into my eyes. I've been working for the last few hours on this research project for my British Lit class, and I think my entire brain is about to deflate.
The television blares a national news broadcast from the den (I will never get used to Southernisms...why not call it a living room like any sane person?), and I feel like chucking one of my thousand-pound textbooks at Eunice's perfectly coiffed head right now. She's the one who talked me into enrolling in summer classes at the local university when I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with myself (a surprisingly easy task when my roommate works for the FBI and has a high-up connection within said organization to help me get my false identity in place in plenty of time to register). She could at least keep the noise level down when I'm studying.
"Eunice, can you drop the volume? I'm working on that essay for Dr. Murphy, and-"
Then I hear the words "Saints of Boston," and my mouth goes dry. I'm in the living room before she can even raise the remote. I snatch it from her hand, turning the volume up a few more clicks.
An anchorman reads from a sheet of paper in his hand, his brow furrowed, and I'm pretty sure this is probably the most sensational thing he's reported so far in his career. I catch phrases like "These are not polite suggestions" and "On that day you will reap it, and we will send you to whatever God you wish." A shiver runs down my spine, and in my mind, I see a sudden image of the three MacManuses, their faces twisted with righteous anger, expelling this tirade upon the world.
I glance at Eunice, who shakes her head silently and nods back towards the television. She doesn't know anything else yet, but I'm betting she'll be on the phone with Smecker before the night is out.
"These are the words of the MacManus brothers and a man assumed to be their father, after they broke into the courtroom where suspected mafia don Giuseppe "Papa Joe" Yakavetta was on trial yesterday for the murder of more than a score of men. The three men held the people in the courtroom hostage as they delivered their speech and then shot Yakavetta at point blank range," the anchorman continues. His face is grim, but there's an uncertainty there that I can empathize completely with. He needs to show outward condemnation of these illegal acts, but he's not completely sure he disagrees with them, either.
"We have a clip here from this morning where Boston reporter Sally McBride interviews local people regarding their opinions of these vigilantes' actions."
The camera swaps over, and suddenly I feel more at home than I have in months. Sally McBride, in her ever-present trench coat, strolls purposefully towards the camera, her face grim. Three police sketches line the side of the screen next to her face, and I'm startled at just how accurate the portraits are. I mean, there were no pictures of Connor and Murphy in the paper before; these drawings are all from descriptions of the three MacManuses, and they are spot-on accurate. Sally is speaking, though, so I wrench my eyes away from the drawings and try to pay attention.
"After the astonishing display of vigilantism during the Yakavetta trial yesterday, the largest manhunt in recent memory is being undertaken to capture the three men the media have dubbed 'The Saints.' This reporter went out to the street to find out what you thought about these three."
Eunice takes the remote from my hand and mutes the TV, watching me with concern. I don't feel faint or panicked, though. I let out a breath I've been holding since March; all three of their pictures were on the screen, which means all three of them were there in the courtroom. There's no mention of major injuries to watch for, so they're all in reasonably good shape, or, at least, they were when they left the courthouse yesterday. Noah made it through whatever happened on the sidewalk after I left him, and he was apparently okay enough to help Connor and Murphy hold an entire courtroom hostage.
And then there's the other elephant in the courtroom…
They killed Yakavetta.
Rocco isn't coming back, but...maybe he can rest a little better now. Not that I mind him visiting my dreams. He's been nice enough to keep the nightmares at bay, and I love talking to him, but...I miss my friend, and seeing him almost every night in my sleep is not helping that pain get any better.
Eunice waits, watching the expressions warring on my face as I consider my next words.
"I...you, uh...you promise you'll tell me if you hear from Smecker?"
She nods once, and I believe her. Eunice has been nothing but supportive and transparent (as far as I know) since she took me in on nothing more than Smecker's request. The fact that I had literally nowhere else to go hasn't escaped me. She's crazy smart, and she seems to just intuitively understand how I work, so we're getting on really well. And I trust her.
"So, I guess I'll...get back to work on my essay, then." I turn to go back to my room, but she grabs my hand.
"Hey, you know we can talk if ya need to."
Well, yeah, I think. Who else am I going to talk to? But I really do appreciate her offer, and instead of voicing my inner monologue, I simply say, "Yeah, and we totally will, I swear, but I need a little while to process. Talk over dinner?"
"Sure, hun. Want me to go pick up our usual from The Purple Onion? I can get you extra tzatziki."
"You're the best roommate ever."
"Oh, I know. Now scoot and finish that paper so ya got one less thing to fret about. Can't stand you whining about all those assignments you've always got due."
I settle into my desk chair again, staring blankly at the screen in front of me. I hear the jingle as Eunice grabs her keys and the snap of the front door shutting. The lock clicks behind her, and then her footsteps retreat into the setting sun.
Time to think. What's changed in the world since ten minutes ago? What do I know now?
As of this morning, Connor, Murphy, and Noah were all alive, and as the report didn't mention anything about them being injured in anyway, I think it's safe to assume they are still alive and holed up somewhere.
Rocco is still dead, but now his killer is, too. Papa Joe seemed to be pretty important, so maybe this blow to his organization might set them back a ways. Theoretically, organized crime and maybe even crime in general could significantly drop in Boston, since the scum of the world now have proof that someone is going to do something about their bullshit.
Does this mean...could the boys be finished? I have no way of knowing, no way of finding out unless Smecker passes on a message from the boys through Eunice. And I'm one hundred percent certain she's going to contact Smecker tonight, so I can either wait up for the call to end, or I can grill her in the morning; either way, I'll have more specific information soon.
I reach over and pluck a photo from where it leans against my desk lamp. In the picture, I'm grinning maniacally at the camera while Connor and Murphy both kiss me on the cheeks; behind us, Rocco's shaggy face smiles just as brightly at the camera as I do, and above us all, a banner reads, "Happy New Year 1998!"
It was my second New Year's Eve spent with the MacManuses, and I remember how horrifically drunk I got later on that night, but at the moment, all four of us were uncharacteristically sober. Connor, Murphy, and I had only begun our combined relationship a few months earlier, so I was still more than a little giddy when both of them paid attention to me at the same time. Rocco was on one of his frequent breaks from Donna, so he was in a great mood.
I only vaguely remember Doc snapping the shot right at midnight, but I got so wasted later on that I never even remembered the photo until I opened the manila envelope from Connor and Murphy the first night at Eunice's apartment. I flip the picture over so I can re-read the boys' note to me, scrawled hastily on the back.
"We went to see Doc when Da sent us to your place to get your stuff, and he said he wanted you to have this. He sends his love and says he's going to miss you."
As I set the photo back in place, light catches on the stones in my ring, and I tilt my hand, watching the circles of diamonds and green sapphires sparkle in their white gold setting. I found it in the envelope, along with the photo, though, sadly, no additional note.
Honestly, though, Connor and Murphy didn't have to say anything else. Connor's face when I was trying the ring on, all those extra shifts at the plant and the overtime they worked for so many months; they must have been trying to save up the thousands of dollars this tiny bit of rock and metal cost, and then they literally fell into a sudden fortune. What else would they do with the money? Besides buy more guns and ammo, of course.
And whiskey. Let's not forget the whiskey.
I've wondered several times since I found the ring when exactly they found the time to go back to the antique store to pick it up amidst the chaos of those last couple of weeks. I've worn it ever since, taking it off only to shower (it catches my hair, even in the ultra-short pixie cut I'm sporting these days, and Eunice got me a special dish in the bathroom just to hold the ring so I won't lose it).
But they're alive. My boys and...my...Da...My family is alive. My friend is dead, but, then, so is the man who killed him. Rocco is avenged, and Boston, if not the world, is actually safer now. I don't know if the boys are done, but it's possible. Anything is possible.
But until I hear something definite, all I can do it wait. And hope.
I sigh heavily, a dull ache starting right between my eyes.
And I can finish this stupid essay.
Two days after the Yakavetta trial; Boston, Massachusetts
Smecker sits back in his chair, his fingers steepled in front of his frowning face. He stares at the piece of paper he's just placed on the flaming log, watching as a ribbon of flames consumes the words "need you with us. Tell Smecker what you want to" as the letter crumbles to ash.
"Are ye sure t'was th'right thing t'do? Dey seemed pretty adamant-"
"They can't be distracted," Smecker murmurs, cutting off the priest. His eyes reflect the orange of the flames even as the light deepens the lines of his face. His jaw clenches for a moment, then he stands and turns away from the fireplace, brushing off his suit and straightening his tie.
"Ye don't think they'll-"
"They'll believe what I tell them. She was indecisive, changed her mind more than once. All I have to tell them is that she's happy where she is, and they'll leave without question. We need to get them away from the heat of this manhunt, out of the country entirely for a while. They can't sit around waiting for some woman who is ultimately nothing but a death sentence for all of them. Once I calm this media storm down, we can bring them back and get them to work. We're doing this for the greater good, because they can do what we can't."
For just a moment, Smecker hesitates, and the priest crosses himself fervently.
"God forgive us fer what we've done. If dey find out-"
Smecker's bark of laughter is as sharp and humorless as his shark's grin. He pulls a pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket, shaking it loose, sticking it between his lips, and flicking a lighter all in one fluid, practiced movement. He sets the tip aflame, inhaling deeply, his cheeks hollowing alarmingly before he finally speaks.
"Padre, if those boys find out what we've done, it ain't God's forgiveness we need to worry about. Now let's get them out of the country before you crack and confess everything to the wrong person."
The priest's bushy eyebrows shoot up in alarm, but Smecker has already stepped out the door, shutting it firmly before the older man can respond. He makes his way out of the church, blinking as he steps into the bright sunlight. He shakes his suit coat calmly, smoothing out a couple of wrinkles before running through his fingers through his hair. He inhales once more, taking the cigarette from his lips and tapping it absentmindedly, scattering ash over the steps.
"It's only the start, boys," he mutters to no one in particular. "Got a lot of work left to do."
Ten days after the Yakavetta trial; a container ship halfway across the Atlantic
Noah folds his hands behind his head, marveling at the sheer open space and comfort of his current living quarters. After spending the better (worse) part of three decades in solitary confinement, the inside of this metal container seems spacious and open. Not as open as the fields and village streets he only just recalls from his childhood, or even the dirty and bustling streets of Boston from his teen years, but still far superior to the six-by-nine-foot box that was his residence for so long.
In the week that they've been in the container, neither of his boys has spoken much, but Noah is still getting used to the sounds of conversation, so the lack of speech doesn't disturb him. What with the groaning of the metal ship, the occasional shouts from the crew that filter in, and the whoosh and rush of the ocean itself, it's a far cry from the absolute, ringing silence of his cell, and he revels in even the smallest noises.
He'd like to say he's not overwhelmed, but that's not entirely true. Not that anyone could tell by looking at his face; he's worn this mask of blank, muted rage since his father died, and he's not sure he'll ever be able to take it off entirely again.
Grace did manage to get a smile or two from him, though.
"Hey, Murph, are ye awake?"
Even after missing most of their thirty years, the last couple of weeks have educated Noah tremendously in the habits and nuances of his boys, especially as the last seven days have been spent confined in their own personal container. He knows that his eldest is fully aware of his brother's state of consciousness; the two boys (men, he's going to have to get used to calling them) are continuously aware of the other's presence, often feigning ignorance for the sake of pettiness merely to get under the other's skin. Case in point, Connor's question is designed solely to get Murphy's attention before he starts shit.
Noah settles back and waits, a grin hidden behind the tangles of his facial hair.
"Aye. Fuck ye want? 'M pretendin' t'be asleep over here."
"Ye t'ink she got th'letter by now?"
"Prob'ly. Smecker said it might take a while 'cause he needed t'be careful an' whatnot, but she shoulda gotten word by now."
"Ye don't think she-"
"Ye know she's gonna be on th'first boat or plane or whatever shit Smecker can sort fer her t'get t'us, but not til we're settled somewhere an' he knows where t'send us. Ye know all dis; why th'fuck are ye blatherin' on t'me like ye don't?"
Connor doesn't answer, and the comforting sounds of the ocean at night once more settle over the container. Noah is just starting to drift off when his eldest speaks again.
"Ye really fuckin' braid her hair? Like, chick-flick-moment sorta shit?"
"Fuck off, Connor, I ain't in th'mood."
"O'course, ye musta done make-overs, as well. Ain't a proper sleepover wit'out make-up an' all dat gunk you girls like t'slather all over yer faces, aye?"
"I'm fuckin' warnin' ye, Connor, now piss off!"
A couple more minutes pass without comment, then-
"Did ye talk about boys, too? 'Cause she's got some real stories t'tell about me, boy-o."
Noah's eyes close as the sound of Murphy ripping Connor out of his bed echo around the walls. His grin widens as his boys roll around on the floor, banging into anything in their path, cursing each other as fists collide with flesh. Another week in here with these two, and he will probably be tired of their antics, but for now, he's content to let them work out their frustrations while he gets to know them.
Far, far superior to solitary confinement.
This epilogue is dedicated to all my Boondock Saints writer friends. We may not be a group anymore, but you all helped me get started and you kept me going. Siarh, Rhanon Brodie, DeDe324, irishartemis, Incog Ninja, AislingIsobel, bleedingrose0608, kselzer, pitbullsrok…you all beta-ed, suggested, edited, and basically made these stories possible. A special shout out to Roaddog469, whose amazing Boondock Saints OC arc inspired me in the first place; I would never have written these stories without first reading hers and thinking, "Huh. I wonder if I could do that, too?" Most of you don't follow this arc anymore; you've moved on to other fandoms or stopped writing altogether, but thank you, all the same.
We did it, folks. We made it through the first movie. It took me a while, but we got here. Major Milestone sort of thing. To be honest, I feel a little numb. My insides are dancing and singing and crying, but I'm feeling it all in a removed, detached sort of way. This story arc has run my emotions through a gauntlet beyond what I ever thought something fictional could. Blood, sweat, tears, snot, vomit, all that good stuff. I have plans and schemes for the second movie and onward, but for at least a little while, I'm going to take a break from the arc and let Grace and the boys get some sleep. I'll be trying on some other fandoms for a while, maybe revisiting my Whovian roots or trying out Supernatural for a bit, but, in the end, we all know where my real home is.
Some of you have been here from the beginning, and some of you have jumped on somewhere along the trail, but all of you have shown your love or support in so many ways that matter. Thank you for sticking with the story for as long as you have, through the smutty beginnings and terrible typos to the actual plot development and the gritty not-quite-end. You helped me push this arc from a nameless girl hopping MacManus beds to a full-fledged character with a story of her own that hopefully is not quite done yet. I can't express to you how much your words and support and occasional reminders have helped me to move forward with stories I thought were dead. I will honestly say that I was one chapter away from just offing Grace on the bus. Siarh talked me off that ledge, and you were all spared having to watch Grace get a stiletto slipped between her ribs.
Let's just say I was in a rough spot.
Here's just a few stats I dug up from my time working on this story arc:
- 3/23/2012: Cold Feet published.
- 6/26/2016: Clean Break published.
- 5/15/2018: Clean Break completed.
- Roughly 290,000 words of Boondock Saints stories, most of them in this OC arc, and almost half of them in this story alone.
- 29 stories published since the start of this arc, 19 in this arc alone.
- 12,874:number of times my Spellcheck almost punched me in the face because of my insistence that I attempt to write in Irish dialect.
- Innumerable mental meltdowns, only a few of which are directly related to this story.
- 3 miscarriages and 1 son, now 3 ½ years old and driving me just as batty as my uncooperative characters do.
- 3 major medical procedures.
- 5 new scars, only one of which is in anyway related to this story.
- 6 loved ones lost, so many new ones gained.
- 7 jobs, ranging from full-time teaching to Moe's (as in, "Welcome to Moe's!")
- Moved to/lived in 5 different states
- Moved almost 3600 miles total
- I learned to drink and actually like coffee without sweetener, although I still can't successfully roll up my own sleeves, so I don't count as a real adult yet.
- How about the roughly 7000+ rumors about Boondock Saints III and/or Prequels that were finally squashed/confirmed when Troy Duffy recently announced the go-ahead for the television show prequel? If anyone has Duffy's ear, let him know I'm available for consultation/rewrites on the script, if he needs any help. ;)
Thank you for sticking with me through the bad dialogue and the plot holes. Thank you for sticking with me through quick updates and one shots and months-long gaps (let us not forget the 5-6 month gaps between the last five or six stories of this arc, not to mention the nearly two years this particular story took). Thank you for sticking around long enough for me to turn Grace into a real character. To everyone who reviewed, favorite, followed, and viewed, thank you, as always, for your time and love.