Chapter 12


Patience was a virtue, or so his mother had always told him. Jimmy had always been the one with the quick temper, even before the accident. Quick to judge, quick to snap. Quick not to think. He needed to think.

He needed a cigarette. And a shot of whiskey.

He could hear faint voices upstairs. Footsteps. Creaking. But his wrists were almost free. Whoever had bound him didn't really think it through, as he wasn't tied to anything. It still wasn't an easy task, rubbing the tape against the sharpest thing he could find—a broken pipe—but it was coming. Slowly.

The door rattled and Jimmy straightened up, holding his hands straight out on his lap. Calm. But defensive. A skinny Italian stood in the doorway.

"Don't worry," the man said with an easy smirk. "Your brother is on the way with the money."

"The money," Jimmy repeated.

"The money he owes."

Jimmy's cloudy mind registered. The money. Son of a bitch. He was going to kill Kevin. No. He was going to kill this guy. Jimmy stared at him and watched as the man flexed his fingers, leaning against the doorway. A skinny punk who liked to think he was in charge. And he was Italian.

"Not for nothing," Jimmy said, "but who the hell are you?"

"Doesn't matter."

"A lacky, huh? You could have just said so."

The skinny man's eyes shot daggers at him. He moved threateningly into the room and Jimmy rolled his eyes. If he were able to, he could down this guy in one punch. If he were able to. Instead the man saw the cocky look and the next thing he did was kick Jimmy in the side.

Jimmy hissed, but held back the string of expletives that would usually be tied with the pain he was felt from the kick. He gave the guy a smug grin instead.

"Feel better?"

It was the wrong answer. The man kicked him again and this time Jimmy fell onto his side. He held back the words on his tongue and stayed down instead.

"I do now," the man said. "By the way." He paused in the doorway. "Don't you and your brothers talk?"

Jimmy stared at him.

"'Cause one already brought us the money, and now another one is bringing more. So we figure we'll hold on to you a little longer." A laugh followed the words and Jimmy tightened his fists as the door clattered closed.

Son of a bitch.

--

"Come on, Jimmy."

Jimmy was more mobile now, but had to wear a brace on his leg. Walking was a challenge. It hurt, a lot, more than he let on at times, and even though Tommy had come out of hiding and was playing the role of super supporter, it still didn't have Jimmy wanting to get out of bed every day.

"Jimmy." Tommy had always been a more serious child than the rest of them, but lately he was like a different person. Jimmy wasn't sure what to make of it. "How's it gonna get stronger?"

"It's not, Tommy."

But Tommy's eyes were begging him to get up.

"Tommy." Jimmy let out a frustrated breath of air. He hated it. He hated the brace. He hated his leg. He hated the support he was getting.

"Jimmy, come on."

He wanted to say no. To tell Tommy to go away. But Tommy looked desperate, so intent, and so he allowed himself to be helped up to his feet, grimacing the whole way.

They struggled to the kitchen and when they got there Jimmy sank into a chair tiredly. What used to be a two second dash had turned into a ten minute ordeal. Tommy pulled another chair out from the table for Jimmy to put his leg up on.

Sean was watching from another kitchen chair and eyeing the brace on Jimmy's leg curiously. "Maybe your new leg will be even stronger, Jimmy."

"It's not a new leg, Seany."

"Like Terminator."

"It's the same damn leg, Sean."

Sean looked a little hurt at Jimmy's tone and Tommy sent him a small smile, as if to say, 'It's okay, he doesn't mean it'. But Sean still pouted. He shifted in his chair and rested his chin on his hand. He looked tired. They were all tired.

Tommy sat in a chair on the other side of the table. He had to distract Jimmy. That was the word his mother had used. Distract Jimmy from his pain. "Hey Jimmy, want to play cards?"

"No."

"Watch TV?"

"No."

"We can walk outside."

"I'm not going outside, Tommy." Jimmy gave him a hard look. He didn't want people to see him like this.

Distracting Jimmy was harder than it might seem. Tommy was running out of ideas when he heard the front door open and the sound of paper grocery bags crinkling. He leaned back in his chair and turned his eyes to the door as Kevin came barreling through with a plastic bag in one hand. Tommy immediately realized his poor positioning of Jimmy's leg when his younger brother's path included knocking into the chair supporting it.

Jimmy let out a hiss. "Son of a bitch," he muttered. He glared at Kevin, who retreated quickly out of Jimmy's reach, behind Tommy's chair. Tommy pulled the grocery bag out of his hand.

"Jimmy Donnelly." His mother had entered the kitchen with her own armful of groceries, just in time to hear the expletive.

"Sorry, Ma."

"What's a bitch?" Kevin whispered his question to Tommy, but Helen's eyes shot to him warningly. Kevin shut his mouth. When her back turned, he nudged his brother but Tommy shook his head.

"Good to see someone out of their room," Helen continued, giving Jimmy a pointed look. She didn't stop for a response. "Tommy, there's one more bag at the foot of the stairs, can you get it?"

Tommy nodded and slid off of his chair to retrieve the last grocery bag for his mother. When he returned she was starting to fix dinner and Jimmy was beginning to move his leg off the chair, the grimace back on his face.

"Kevin, I swear, if you come closer…"

"I can help."

"You can't."

"Yeah, Kevin, you can't," Sean echoed. He poked at Kevin, twisting in his seat.

Kevin balled up his fist and held it in front of Sean's face, something he had picked up recently from Jimmy. It looked threatening when Jimmy did it. Kevin's version didn't. Sean stuck out his tongue in response.

"Tommy." Jimmy grabbed his brother's arm as Tommy lowered the bag of groceries onto the table. "Help me out?"

"Yeah." It was the first time Jimmy was really asking for help. Tommy pushed Kevin's hand out of Sean's face and then helped Jimmy slowly get to his feet.

"Back to our room?" Tommy asked. Jimmy had been acting like a recluse lately, spending most of his time in their room, by himself. Or sneaking cigarettes in the bathroom.

But this time Jimmy shook his head.

"No," he said. "Inside."

None of them saw the small smile that passed over Helen's face.

--

Kevin was late to Bailey's, and he knew it. Getting the money from the car took longer than he thought, but he had it, and without any major issues, knock on wood.

What he wasn't expecting was the scene he found inside the back office of the pub. The big man was there, of course. But so was Jimmy.

"Christ. You're late, Kevin."

Kevin stared, hesitant. It was Jimmy in charge of the situation, gun pointed at the fat man's head.

"Jimmy," he started.

"Put your money away and find some duct tape. I have a little favor to return."

"What are you—"

"Kevin."

The fat man's eyes were burning holes through him. But Kevin focused on Jimmy instead.

When Jimmy started binding the man's wrists, Kevin went along with it, holding the gun Jimmy handed to him and pointing it at the heavyset man. Kevin then watched as Jimmy rummaged through the man's desk and came up with another wad of money.

"You're nothing," Jimmy told the man. He pushed Kevin to the door, turning back to face the desk. "You think you're shit because you own a bar? I own a bar."

The fat man glared, face turning red with anger, but he couldn't answer. Jimmy had taped his mouth.

"If there's a next time I'll kill you too," Jimmy continued. Kevin glanced at him. There was a look in Jimmy's eye, something that was beyond this situation, beyond being tied up, beyond sticking up for Kevin. It was something more.

"Jimmy, c'mon."

Outside, Kevin's mind was racing. What the hell had just happened in there?

"Jimmy."

"Yeah."

"Did you kill someone?"

"Don't ask me that, Kevin."

"Did you?"

"Don't ask me, Kevin."

"Jimmy."

"No, Kevin."

But it was a lie, and they both knew it. Kevin stopped asking. And Jimmy suddenly laughed, that cackle of a laugh. "Kevin, you nitwit."

"What?"

"Did you even talk to Tommy?"

--

Later at the bar, for the first time in days, things were calm. But then the phone rang.

Sean picked it up. "Firecracker." There was a pause. He then held it out to Tommy, who took it with a frown.

It was Frankie Stein, asking where his brothers had been earlier that day.

Kevin had come over to get another beer but his steps slowed when he saw Tommy's eyes go straight to him.

"A car stolen… is that right?" Tommy raised his eyebrows and Kevin did a quick about-face, ready to make his retreat. But Tommy caught his jacket, holding him in place and Kevin resignedly sank onto the nearest stool. He played with a coaster nervously and watched Tommy's face.

"No." A pause. "Yeah, Frankie. Thanks." Tommy's gaze locked to Kevin's. There was a pause. "Yeah, he would. A lineup, sure. He would love to."

"Tommy." Kevin's heart sped up in his chest. What the hell was Tommy doing?

"What time?" Tommy signaled Jimmy for a beer and caught the bottle that was slid toward him. "'Course he's free."

"Tommy," Kevin hissed. He made a cutting motion with his hand and shook his head. "Not a good idea, Tommy."

"Here, why don't you just talk to Kevin, he's right here." Tommy handed the phone off to Kevin and gave his brother's leg a hard swat as he moved away from the bar.

Sean was watching the exchange from the sidelines and gave Tommy a curious look. "Wasn't that Frankie on the phone?"

Tommy took a drink of his beer. "Yep."

Sean frowned. Tommy looked pleased with himself, but Sean didn't get it. If Frankie had wanted to talk to Kevin, that couldn't be good. Only Tommy ever conversed with Frankie, and it was usually to convince the guy that none of them were involved in whatever trouble it was that he was calling about.

Tommy saw the look on Sean's face. "It's fine. Frankie hung up."

Sean glanced at the bar again. It was true; Kevin had already hung up the phone and had joined Jimmy behind the bar. But something still wasn't right about it.

"Before I gave it to Kevin," Tommy said, noticing the frown. Frankie had hung up after 'Thanks'. The rest of his conversation had been to a dial tone.

Sean looked less concerned now. He gave his brother a smile. "I knew you wouldn't turn him in."

"One of these days." Tommy took a long swallow of his beer. The next time they did something, even stupider than this time around, he would wish he had. And it was true that maybe he shouldn't keep cleaning up their messes. But that was the thing. He knew that he would.

"Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman, he thought.

But that was the thing I was born for." –Ernest Hemingway


A/N: Well I had to tie the title into a quote, of course. And that's all of this one, folks! I hope that wasn't too abrupt of an ending. It just seemed like the right time to close things off. Thank you all so much for the reviews. I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did! I intend to have some other things to post soon (if you're interested!). Please let me know if you enjoyed.