Oh yikes, it's been so long!
Mistiquecats: Ah! I'm so glad you like this story! Thanks for reading!
The French Waffle: That means the world to me! Thanks so much for saying that! Thanks for reading!
queenlmno: It is indeed the second time Jack has kidnapped his brother. He loves them though. Thank you so so much for reading!
Les Phansie: lol, thank you for reading!
Okay... here we go! Please enjoy!
It was easy to blend in when everyone was in such a rush around him. This might be Jack's favorite part of the job. Watching. People were more interesting than they thought, bustling about, late for something.
He was meeting a newbie today. Newbies were always interesting to work with on mediocre, easy missions that he could do by now in his sleep. What wasn't fun was having his boss listen in on him and his team. Jack didn't know what it was really about this particular mission that had his boss so intrigued. He'd bet more on old Joe listening in on his talks with Snyder. After all, that was a high profile case given to them by a representative of the CIA.
This was just some side job with some new recruit, taking down some corrupt businessman and or women; what Spot liked to call a "Rich Bitch Take Down." It was rare that these things went sideways, but Jack liked to be prepared anyway, which is why he never helped ease a newbie into the field with anyone other than his own team. He knew them and he trusted them.
"Spot?" Jack asked over his com, just small enough to be completely hidden in his ear.
"In position, Cowboy. Following your lead," came the reply.
Jack nodded. "Davey?"
"Here with the boss, Jackie. Go get the job done."
Spot was his shadow, his cover. Davey was his tech, doing his best to keep eyes on him at all times. Jack was the con and the rookie was lead, as the rookie often was on a dummy, simple mission such as this one. Jack was there to guide and correct. It was a trial run of sorts, but an important one. The target was one Don Seitz. Corrupt CEO. All they had to do was get in, get some files, start the con and get out.
In and out. That was all.
First, however, Jack had to meet the new recruit. Part of him wished desperately to get back to his real case. The one he'd been handpicked for. He was practically already at Snyder's beck and call, but he knew that he couldn't let one case consume him. That was dangerous. All of it was dangerous. He tried not to think about seeing his baby brother in the midst of all of those men again. The very image traumatized him to no end and he'd never be able to get it out of his brain.
But he had to go now. He had to get through this mission. "Alright, boys, lets go," he whispered, walking in through the doors of the very nice building he'd been casually loitering just outside. He knew Spot would be a respectable distance behind him, just as he often was. He knew Davey was watching him, ready for just about anything. With his boys, Jack could practically be a ghost.
He loved it.
"Alright, J, you're meeting Rookie at the red couch in the lobby," Davey reminded him as he strolled into the hotel, straightening his suit jacket casually glancing around as though he was excited for his stay in Manhattan like some tourist. It always was exciting to pretend he hadn't lived in this bustling city his whole life long.
Eventually, he sat himself down on the couch, easily reaching for a magazine off the coffee table before him and he waited, just like he would on any other normal day. He was only vaguely aware that it was a magazine about cars. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy cars, but he didn't have the time or focus to spend on such things. He only waited patiently for someone to sit down at a distance from him, crossing her legs and grabbing for a magazine herself. Jack didn't look up quite yet, waiting for the woman to ask him a question.
His boss had informed him that the Rookie had actually been working this for a couple of hours already, prepping the mark. She'd trained in Brooklyn and was quick on her feet, known to Jack only as KP. "Hey, what's the quickest way to the train from here?"
At the voice, Jack froze, his entire face draining of color as he was too terrified to look up from the magazine in his lap. Something deep within him was screaming and another part of him was laughing. His eyebrows rose as he still refused to look up, not truly wanting this to be real. It would inevitably end in disaster and Jack did not like that his boss of all people was sitting in Davey's van, watching this whole thing that was about to play out in a very bad way.
"Kelly…" Pulitzer called. "I believe the lady asked you a question."
Jack cleared his throat and shook his head, trying to snap out of it. "Uhm… you can… you can walk but it's about but it's about ten blocks…" he replied, trying to keep his tone even and calm.
He knew he'd have to look up eventually. Especially after a very smug, very thrilled voice responded back with a quick, "That's alright! I could use the exercise."
A very familiar pretty redhead gave him a very quick wink before slipping a key into his lap and standing to walk to the elevator. For a moment, Jack was paralyzed, unsure of what the hell just happened. Of all the stress he'd experienced over the past few days, he could really do without this.
Someone very loudly cleared their throat and Jack jumped at the loud sound in his ear. "Um, Earth to Kelly? Stairs?" Spot asked. Jack gave him a sideways glance, finding him waiting by the elevator door that just wouldn't open, courtesy of one David Jacobs.
Jack forced himself to shake out of it, standing and tossing the magazine back down on the table before making his way over to the stairs discreetly, taping his finger to his com. "Uh… boss, ya don't think maybe Weston 'r Ford could handle this case?" he asked, his voice breaking as he began making his way up the stairs to the third floor.
"Oh don't tell me you're lovestruck, Jackie!" Davey teased. Jack could practically feel Pulitzer glaring at the other man, but Davey did not scare quite so easily.
Groaning and shaking his head, Jack rolled his eyes. "Um… it's a little more complicated than that…"
Eventually, he reached the door to the hotel room that was written on the key in his hand. Slipping inside, he looked around finding the woman sitting on the kitchen counter, typing away on a single laptop. She looked up when he closed the door and squealed. "I knew it!" she laughed, jumping up and strolling over to him, pulling him aggressively towards her.
"Whoa…" David laughed, catching onto what Jack was getting at. Joe must've been too. He did not look happy.
"Yeah… she's kinda my girlfriend that I've been dating since high school…" Despite the situation, he couldn't help but smile at the beautiful woman in front of him.
"Good God, Kelly," Pulitzer grumbled.
Spot was laughing at him. "Oh, Jackie, you're in for it…" he teased.
Katherine grinned. "I knew it," she repeated with a smug, perfect grin.
But Jack only scoffed. "Oh, you did not!" he squawked in protest, wrapping his arms around her waist and managing to somehow pull her even closer towards him, almost as if he was challenging her. "You can't just come in here n' pretend you knew I'd show up!"
With a small laugh, Katherine raised her eyebrows. "Oh I'm sorry, Mr. Door to Door Salesman who has to take calls in the middle of the night because his clients are just worried about the products he's selling," she drawled, sarcasm dripping from her, much like it always was. "I knew that you were either CIA or STRIKE and there's no way you can deny that now, and now you can admit that you never suspected me for a second!" It was clear she was proud of herself. Jack couldn't blame her.
After all, he'd known this woman for what felt like a lifetime and he could honestly say that he never would've guessed he'd be meeting her on a mission. Still, he didn't quite want to give her that satisfaction. "Kelly… hands off," a voice in his ear growled. Jack shivered a little at the coldness.
So he snapped out of it and reached in his pocket for the extra earpiece, showing it off to his girl before slipping it in her ear. "The big bad boss is listening, Plumber," he informed, giving her a playful glare before he squeezed at her sides, making her squeal as he slipped from her arms and grinned as he made his way over to her laptop.
She gasped at him, pouting before following him, knowing they had to work now. Everything they had to say to each other could wait, though they knew they couldn't be mad at each other. They both understood this business. All they could do now was be happy that the secret was out. That they would be working with each other, though that could be dangerous too.
This could go one of two ways and Jack could only pray it was the right one.
"Alright, babe, what've we got?"
Katherine grinned at him and hopped back up on the counter, reaching to place her laptop back in her lap as she began to ramble on about this mission with passion and excitement and thrill all rolled into one. Jack couldn't help but fall even further in love with her in that moment.
When Race's door creaked open, he didn't move. He hadn't moved much since Jack left. His brain was tired and so was he. So he burrowed himself beneath his blankets and tried to sleep. It was easier than being awake.
"Hey, Race…" his little brother sighed. The bed dipped. Race hummed just enough so Crutchie would know he was awake. "So… ya gonna tell me what's the matta'?" The younger boy placed a hand on his brother's leg, even if it was beneath the blanket. Without a response, Race buried his face beneath the covers. That never discouraged his brother. Even if it did, Charlie never admitted to it. Instead he rubbed at his big brother's leg and stayed where he was. "Okay… well… don't ya wanna know what's a' matta' with me?" he challenged.
At that, Race slowly pushed the comforter back off of his head and propped himself up on his elbows, inspecting the boy who looked perfectly normal. "I don't get it," he admitted, falling back down and trying to hide again. But the younger boy grabbed the blankets before he could.
"I miss seein' my brotha' tryin' ta have fun," he stated.
It was made no secret that Race was not the energetic, optimistic boy that he had been when he was little. Even then, it had been rough and he'd had different issues. They all had. Race had always just wanted attention. He'd always wanted someone to be with him or hold him or talk to him. He'd do this by being loud and full of energy and Crutchie used to love the creative ways Race used to get him to smile.
Their childhood hadn't been easy, but his big brothers always somehow made it easier.
Everything was different now. The change that they'd gone through hadn't been sudden. It had happened over the course of years and had taken them out of toxic situations. That didn't mean it wasn't still hard and slightly traumatic.
Race had changed after it all happened. He'd changed after he'd started to see their mother's true colors. He'd changed after his father had gotten sick. He'd changed after he'd started high school. He'd changed and it wasn't a good change.
Race sighed and rubbed at his eyes. "I miss bein' asleep," he shot back, only sort of joking.
Letting out a small huff, Charlie swung his legs up on the bed and scooted himself back so he could lay down shoulder to shoulder with his brother. "Okay, well, if you're not going to come out of your room, then I'm going to stay here with you," he decided.
"Ya don't gotta—"
"I'm gonna." Race looked over at his little brother for a moment, but Charlie only smiled at him. "You used to like me," he joked.
Rolling his eyes, Race scooted down on his own mattress and cuddled up to his little brother's side, using him as a sort of pillow. "Just stay still and I'll still like you," he promised. "Talk about somethin'..."
With a smile, Crutchie rested a hand in Race's curls and sighed. "I really… really love chocolate," he settled on, calling it a victory when Race let out a small, breathy laugh. "I've been craving chocolate cake for the past few days and I was gonna ask Jack ta help make some cupcakes. Ya remember when he used ta do that ta distract us?"
With a small smile, Race nodded. Jack did indeed always have the perfect way to distract his brothers from noticing their mother disappear on them from days on end. Jack loved to make them treats when he could. It was something he'd learned from Anthony Higgins Sr. That man had loved to bake. When he was young, he'd opened his own bakery, only getting forced out when his building had caught fire one day and burned down.
He'd learned to laugh about it eventually, commenting that if he'd still had the thing, he may not have as much time to spend with his son and his almost sons.
"The red velvet ones were the best ones," Race mumbled into his brother's shirt.
Crutchie gaped at that. "What? They were not! The chocolate ones with the strawberry frosting! They were so good!" he argued, thinking back on those days. Jack wasn't always at home so often anymore. "Remember that time that your dad made those cherry coke ones? And then the lemonade ones?"
"I bet we could go through his old recipes and make 'em," Race muttered offhandedly.
But the second he looked up and saw that excited spark in his little brother's eyes, he knew what he'd done. And he couldn't help but smile as they both stood at the same time and scrambled to make their way into the kitchen.
For just a moment, Race had a distraction and he was okay with that.
He was laughing with his best friend in the whole world and the anxiety and depression could melt away.
Even if only just for a few hours.
"How in the hell 'm I supposed ta explain this one?" Jack muttered more to himself than his team who was standing by, taking only a glance in the mirror in front of him, wishing to punch something. He knew that it was bad. Punching things never helped him, not really. Still, he wished he could get a little bit of the nerves out.
His skin was cut up all over the place. Nothing too horrible. Definitely nothing that would kill him. But it was sure as hell noticeable to two nosy boys who loved him so much, especially now that one of them knew his secret.
He held an ice pack to his forehead, just touching his hairline. He hadn't meant for things to get so completely out of hand. It had been no one's fault, though he was sure Katherine was still a bit shaken as she was now left alone with the boss. Pulitzer was a hardass. He'd definitely try and blame someone.
There had been a third party at play. They hadn't expected it, but these things happened sometimes.
Though, to be honest, Jack could honestly say that nothing like that had ever happened when it was Katherine's life at stake. He was still trying to shake himself out of that moment.
"I can wreck your car," Spot offered with a smug grin that Jack could only glare at. "I'll shatter the windshield." Almost backing down and admitting that was a good idea made the young spy realize just how tired he truly was as he tried to stand from the small gurney he'd been sitting on.
David was quick to push him back down without even looking up from his phone. "Stop whining. It's not even that bad," he insisted.
Raising his eyebrows at his teammate, Jack scoffed. "Not that bad?" he asked. "Dave, I look like I jumped through a closed window!"
In fact, that's exactly what he'd done. At the time, it had been the only option. Even thinking back on it now, it looked to be the only option.
"Well it was that or getting you and Katherine shot," Davey reasoned, finally putting his little gadget away and looking at him. "I'd take the blessing."
It was true. They'd finally managed to get into the room they'd been trying to break into since the beginning. It was like one thing after another had just decided to go wrong and he couldn't keep up.
There was a bang on the door. Katherine jumped when Jack rushed back into the main room as she shoved a hard drive in her pocket. "What do you think the odds are that they'll believe we broke into the wrong room?" she asked, almost joking.
Jack reached for his gun but stopped himself, not truly wanting to shoot his way out of this. He looked behind him at the window and then back at the door. He grabbed Katherine's arm and pulled her behind him, convincing himself he wasn't scared of what was going to happen. He prayed that they could talk their way out of this, but he doubted that very much, being that these people had already bumped into them once and were already suspicious.
"Kat, we gotta jump," he stated.
"I'm sorry, what?"
Through the door, Jack could hear the sound of a silencer and he nodded, turning to the balcony as a the sound came again until there was a bullet flying over his head. "We have ta go now! We're blown!"
"Kelly, I'm close! Just hold on—"
"Don't have time, Spot!" Jack stood above the edge, mentally measuring the distance from where his feet would leave the ground to where he would land. All he could do was take a deep breath. "Okay… we can do this…" he decided, backing up a few paces. He glanced over towards his girlfriend and pulled her in for a quick kiss. "You can do this, babe," he encouraged, before running forward, launching himself off of the ledge and preparing for impact by curling in on himself in the air.
He could only hope that Katherine was behind him.
A swell of pride rose in him when he recalled how calm and collected Katherine had been, despite the bullets flying at them and the jumping from one window into the hotel next door, startling a poor housekeeper before running out and barely escaping with their lives. He looked toward the door, as if expecting his girlfriend to just walk through the door right then.
"I just calmed Race down about everything. I can't show up like this! He'll… God, I have no idea what he'll do…" And that was the scary thing. Just not knowing.
It was so incredibly important to keep a close eye on that kid after everything he'd been through. And now, with this? He had no idea how he was supposed to explain this. Race was dependent on him. If that kid knew how much danger he really put himself in everyday, he'd only start to go crazy because there was no way he could lose another person.
It wasn't the first time Jack had considered that fact. His brothers had lost so much already. Charlie might have handled it and learned to move on, but Race was not quite as ready to deal with the grief.
His team had nothing to say to that. After all, they'd been there when Jack had gotten the phone call that had changed everything. Neither of them had ever seen him so panicked before that night.
When the door did open, Jack looked up to find Katherine. He sat up immediately at that, dodging David's hand when he tried to push him back down. "Ace!"
"Calm down, babe," she smiled, taking his hand as he made it to her. "We're fine, we got what we needed and got out—" She was cut off by his lips on hers. "Calm down, Jack, everything's fine—" she began.
He didn't see things quite the same way. "Everything is not fine…" he muttered, pressing his forehead against hers. "I just came clean to Racer—"
"You came clean to Race?"
"I just don't know how he's gonna react ta knowin' that you ain't told him everythin' either—"
"Whoa, who said I was going to tell him?"
"He loves you, Katherine. Like a sister. He already feels betrayed and with what he went through last year, I can't keep—"
"Baby, I can't just tell him—"
"I just don't understand how I never caught on…"
Their words had been moving so fast, Jack could barely hear Katherine's argument. But she paused at that, shrugging a little bit. "Honey, we were both just doing our jobs. I only had my suspicions because…" she sighed, cutting herself off and running fingers through her long hair.
He squinted at her, his eyebrows furrowing as he shrugged. "Because why? What tipped you off?"
"Nothing! Nothing… It was just…" She bit her lip, avoiding eye contact with her boyfriend. He ducked his head, trying to catch her eye again. So she gave in. "It was just your boss… he's… sort of my father…"
If Jack had taken the time to try and figure out what Katherine had been about to say, that sentence wouldn't have even been on his radar. "I'm sorry… what?"
"Oh shit…" Spot whispered behind them. Jack tightened his jaw but didn't turn around.
Katherine gave him a nervous smile as she fiddled with the bottom of her shirt. "Yeah…"
"You told me your father lived in England!" he accused, not really sure what to believe anymore.
"I lied." There wasn't much more she could really say. They both knew they couldn't truly be mad at each other, as they'd both been keeping the same secrets. "Look, I changed my name so that I could do this and I didn't want his influence to be why I got this job," she explained. "Hey, look on the bright side! It's like… we really don't have to have anymore secrets—"
"Oh but look on the bad side! You're father's gonna put a bullet in my head…" All he'd ever done with Pulitzer was sass him and undermine him and insult him and yes, while he could work with the man, that didn't mean either of them had ever enjoyed it.
Katherine only laughed. "You're not really scared of my father!"
Glaring at her for a minute, Jack shook his head. "Nah… but I am pretty scared a' you…" Without really thinking about it, she pulled him down so her lips could meet his. He couldn't resist a kiss from the love of his life. So he melted into it. And when they pulled apart, Jack kept his eyes closed, leaning his forehead against hers. "Ya think we're gonna be okay?"
"Oh, Jackie, I know we're gonna be okay," she promised with a smile.
"I know that I'm gonna be sick," Spot muttered behind them. David snickered. Jack glared.
"Would you two get outta here?!" he demanded playfully, watching as his teammates back away in false surrender. He only rolled his eyes before turning back to Katherine. "Sorry about that…"
Katherine just giggled and gave him another peck on the lips. "So… now what?"
"Now…" He sighed, shaking his head. "Now we go home and deal with two hormonal teenagers looking like this," he shrugged, not knowing what else they really could do.
So Katherine took his hand. And together they walked out of that building, ready to face the world together all over again.
So... I'm gonna be honest, I know exactly how I want this fic to end up, I just have no clue how we're getting there.
Thanks so much!
As always, thanks for reading! Make sure to tell me what you liked, what you didn't like, what you'd change or what you'd improve by leaving me a review! Love ya, kiddos!