AN: And here we are! These have been soooo fun. I'm so glad I decided to do them, at least for this first season. The title comes from lyics from the song Nature of the Beast by Ice Nine Kills. As always, I hope you enjoy, and please leave a review!
WARNING: There are non-graphic threats of non-con, because Endicott is a creep. Only threats though, nothing more.
Ainsley was very familiar with dealing with creepy men. As an attractive woman in the public eye, she dealt with more than her fair share of stalkers, aggressive flirtations, and fan mail that made her cringe. She was so used to it, in fact, that it didn't even bother her anymore. She wasn't phased by it. Ainsley was not the type to let a man - or woman, as the case sometimes was - have that kind of power over her.
But Endicott was different. At first, it was the same as all of the other older men who had tried and failed to seduce her. She just rolled her eyes and ignored them and eventually they left her alone. But Endicott was only working his way further into her life. She could have dealt with it if he had been just a creep who was dating her mother, but framing her brother for murder wasn't something she was going to tolerate.
Perfectly timed, Endicott arrived once all of the help had left for the night. To make matters worse, her mother must have given him a key, because Ainsley didn't know he was there until she walked downstairs and saw him sitting there on the couch like he owned the place. Ainsley had been there to get a bag of her mother's things to bring to the hospital. Her mother didn't want to leave the hospital while Gil's life was still uncertain, which Ainsley could understand. She knew that Malcolm would feel the same way, so she hated to pull him away, but Endicott was in their freaking home and she needed Malcolm to get there. Ainsley set the bag she'd gathered for her mother on the stairs, and texted Malcolm a quick 911. Then, she held her head high and walked straight into the lion's den.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she asked him. She would not let this man intimidate her. She was Ainsley freaking Whitly, and she could handle anything that was thrown at her.
"Ainsley, how lovely to see you. Care to join me?" Endicott asked, gesturing to the open space next to him on the couch.
"Yeah, lovely to see me in my own house, that's rich." She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.
"Well, technically, it's your mother's house. For now, at least. " Endicott shrugged, but didn't make any move to stand or explain himself. Ainsley decided to ignore his phrasing for the moment, focusing on the much more important question that he still had yet to answer.
"What. The hell. Are you doing. In my house?" she asked him once again. "If you were smart, you'd run. Malcolm is going to end you, one way or another, for what you've done."
"Oh, your brother," Endicott groaned, rolling his eyes. "Malcolm isn't going to do anything, and neither are you, and neither is your mother. Certainly not your father." His eyes turned dark as they narrowed at her. "Your family is mine. I own you now. And there is nothing that you can do about it."
Ainsley let out a single bark of laughter. "Is that what you think? Are you so arrogant that you don't think anyone could ever stop you? You clearly don't know what kind of family you're dealing with." She kept her voice strong, but Ainsley would've been lying if she said that she wasn't starting to get a little freaked out. But she'd dealt with worse than Endicott before. She could handle this.
"That's what I know," Endicott growled as he shot up from the couch and took a few menacing steps towards her. Ainsley took a step back, then internally cursed herself for the display of weakness. With a man like Endicott, once you gave up a sliver of control, you never got it back. And Ainsley had just given him much more than a sliver.
"I will ruin you all," he continued, lifting a finger and moving ever so slowly into her personal space. "I've already started with your father. He's at Rikers and won't survive the night. I'm well on my way to ruining your mother. She's hopeless, knowing she's let another 'monster' into her home and into her body. It won't take much more to shatter her into tiny pieces that will never be fixed. She won't be able to live with herself anymore." He took another step towards her, and Ainsley couldn't help taking another step back, closer to the wall. She couldn't deny it. She was scared.
"Now you," Endicott continued, letting his perverted gaze look her up and down once again. "I could ruin you however I want, whenever I want, and you can't stop me, you can only scream. You will only report the stories that I want you to report, you will only speak to the people I want you to speak with, and when I want you, you will give yourself to me. Hell, I'll do the same to your brother. He's too small to stop me. I bet he would scream just as much. But I guess it won't matter once he's in prison for Eddie's murder, because there, there will be a whole line of men much bigger than me just waiting to get a piece of him. That's all he'll know for the rest of his short life. That's all he'll be until eventually they're so rough with him that they kill him. I'll make sure that that's the only thing he's ever used for again." Endicott had Ainsley pressed all the way up against the wall. He was inches from her face. She squeezed her eyes shut and turned her head away, fingers uselessly trying to grip the wall behind her. His hot breath was on her face, much too close. "So I suggest you do exactly as I say, if you know what's good for your family."
A moment later, the hot breath was gone. Hesitantly, Ainsley opened her eyes and turned back towards him. Endicott was once again sitting on the couch, an arm stretched out across the back, that stupid smile on his face.
"Come now, Ainsley. Join me." He looked pointedly towards the rest of the open couch. "Unless you want me to start with you right now." His gaze darkened once again, and the first tear that Ainsley had desperately been trying to hold back fell. Slowly, Ainsley did as he asked, and walked towards the far end of the couch. Malcolm would be there soon anyway. It was going to be fine. She sat as far away from Endicott as she could, holding herself close to together. Her head was still held high. He would not take that from her.
It was only a few moments later that Malcolm burst through the front door, calling out her name. Throughout the conversation, part of Ainsley had faded away entirely. She was still there, listening, shouting at Endicott, watching Malcolm pull out a gun, but a larger part of her was fading away and retreating into herself. Yes, that was a defense mechanism, but that mechanism was thinking and plotting. Her father had been right. They needed to get rid of Endicott. Ainsley knew the man wasn't bluffing. She knew he would follow through on every single one of his threats without question. She couldn't let that happen. Ainsley couldn't let her father be killed in prison, or let her mother fall so far away that she fell away forever, or let either her or her brother be raped. She had to do something to stop it, to protect her family.
It was when Malcolm pulled the gun that the rest of Ainsley faded away. She was entirely a shield, nothing more than something that needed to protect her family, no matter the cost. If she didn't do something, immediately, then Endicott was going to follow through on it all. He was going to ruin them all, because there was no way that Malcolm was going to back down. If she didn't do something, if she didn't kill him, then her family was destroyed forever. Ainsley was not going to let that happen.
She didn't feel herself doing it. It was as if she wasn't in control of her own body, like the guardian angel she had prayed to as a child had taken control of her, helping her do what needed to be done in order to protect her family. But slashing his throat wasn't enough. He still turned around to face her, a look of horror on his face. The angel controlling her continued, and she raised the knife up and brought it down on the man's chest, again, and again, and again. Maybe Ainsley was screaming. He would not hurt her family. She would not let him.
Slowly, oh so slowly, she came back to herself. What was going on? What had she done?
"What's just happened?" she asked. Ainsley glanced down at herself. She was covered in blood. Endicott's blood. The man was dead, bleeding all over her mother's favorite rug. Had she done that? She was the one covered in blood, it had to have been her. Malcolm was slipping his phone back in his pocket, his eyes wide in shock. Of course Malcolm didn't kill anyone. He couldn't. Malcolm could never kill anyone unless it was self defense in the heat of the moment, like if someone had a gun to his head or to the head of someone he loved. Not Ainsley. She had most certainly just killed in self defense, in defense of her family too, but it hadn't exactly been the heat of the moment. No, no one would have died immediately if she hadn't done it, but they would have died soon enough if she hadn't. That was something she would have to explain to a lawyer.
"Ainsley, it's okay," Malcolm said, holding up his hands as he approached her. "It's gonna be okay." She appreciated the sentiment, but it didn't look like Malcolm believed that, if the fear in his eyes was anything to go off of. He wasn't afraid of her, he was afraid of what was going to happen next.
"I had to," she said so softly, almost in a whisper, as clarity came back to her. "I had to save us. You don't know what he was going to do to us." She shook her head slightly. Whatever Malcolm thought, he was wrong. Endicott was so much worse than they thought he was. Even just thinking about what the man had said he would do to them, especially to herself and Malcolm, almost made her sick.
"It's okay," Malcolm repeated. He probably didn't know what else to say. How could he? He had just watched his sister kill someone. Malcolm took another step towards her and gently wrapped her in his arms. Ainsley melted around him, reaching her bloody arms around him and holding on as tightly as she could. He was okay. None of those terrible things were going to happen to him now. She had saved him from that. No matter what happened next, she had saved them. "It's gonna be okay," he said once more, his voice wobbly. He held onto her a little bit tighter, as if he were scared. Maybe he was.
"We're okay, now," Ainsley said, and she truly meant it. Yes, there was still a body on the floor and Gil was still in the hospital and there was so much going on that Ainsley should have felt overwhelmed, but for some reason, she didn't. She felt at peace. No matter what anyone said, she had done what needed to be done. She had saved her family from a vile, wicked man, who was actively trying to hurt them, and she would not be made to feel bad for ending him and the terror he inflicted. Somewhere in the city, there had to be a lawyer who would see it that way too. There had to be a jury that would agree, and that would look past her last name as a reason to convict her. She had done the right thing, and she wasn't going to hide from that. There would be no hiding the body and destroying the evidence. Ainsley didn't have anything to hide. Even if she still didn't remember actually slashing and stabbing the man, she still knew it was the right thing to do. Ainsley had killed a man, and yet, she had no regrets.
"We're gonna get through this, we're gonna figure this out," Malcolm said, still holding onto her. Ainsley hadn't made a move to let go either. She was content to stand there and revel in the fact that her brother was safe from Endicott's clutches.
Malcolm was right. No matter what happened, they were going to be just fine. No matter what happened to her, even if somehow, she ended up in prison, it was worth it. To save her family, anything was worth it.