Title: Forgiven

Author: veiledndarkness

Pairing: None

Rating: PG-13

Summary: How can he forgive when he can't ever forget?

Disclaimer: Not mine, no harm intended and no profit made.

*Takes place two years before the movie is set.

XX

It was the smallest headline on the page, a short article in the right hand corner of the newspaper, page six, nearly hidden by the larger story above it. He reads it, his eyes taking in every scant detail.

Another shooting victim, a female in her mid-forties, found in the alley of a building that Bobby remembers all too well. He drops the paper, his jaw tightly clenched. He ignores the cautious questions from Jack, his back stiff, his head pounding.

How could he forget? How could he ever let those memories slide, when every bottle, every drug, every body he ever touched couldn't erase the fucking pain.

Shooting victim, unidentified but for one tattoo, casually mentioned. Bobby licks his too dry lips and fights the urge to scream. He leaves the room, moving on autopilot.

He has to see, he needs to see this, needs to know that she's gone.

X

This isn't the first dead body he's ever seen, not likely to be the last, but even so, his stomach turns. Killing is easier than dealing with the aftermath.

He's more than a little surprised at how easy it is to claim next of kin without much proof to back it up. She never kept records, he's certain of that, but the resemblance is there, and the cops just want her tagged and dealt with.

Bobby waits impatiently for the sheet to be lifted back. The man drapes it to her shoulders, and there, he can see it then. That tattoo on her neck, the words a scrawl of black ink on her skin. He looks away for a moment, gathering himself.

She looks haggard, her face lined with deep wrinkles near her eyes and mouth, skin rough and bumpy at first glance. He knows the color of her eyes, remembers the way they flashed a deep brown with anger, and on the rarest of occasions, gleamed with amusement.

He nods once to the man, who thankfully covers her back up. He couldn't ever forget her, no matter how good Evelyn's been to him. He swallows and clutches the meager bag of possessions she had with her in the alleyway.

The paperwork is filed and Bobby flees the building, storming through the city with fury in his face, a dark rage that keeps others from straying too close. He returns to the building and stares up at it, a shiver running through him.

It looks as it did years before, a shabby, rundown building. Bobby digs the key out of the bag and approaches the front door, less than surprised to see the door is unlocked. A cockroach scuttles past Bobby's boot, making his way down the cracked cement stairs. The irony is not lost on him.

He takes the stairs, not trusting the elevators. On the third floor, the second apartment from the stairs, cheap brass numbers spell out 302. Bobby unlocks the door and turns the knob, grimacing as he does so.

X

There's not much in the apartment, not that he expected anything more. A filthy couch along one wall, a stained carpet on the floor, a few ashtrays here and there, and a folding table in front of the couch…

Bobby wanders from the living room to the kitchen. He looks the kitchen, the bathroom and the one bedroom over, cold detachment propelling him forward. He trails one hand along the dirty walls, looking for signs that he'd been there once.

He spots the markings near the living room wall, faded as they are. He crouches down and moves his fingers over the black marks, each one listing a day of growth in height. He turns away from them, a sigh escaping him. The apartment is bleak and it hurts that much more.

Bobby rifles through her possessions, searching for something, anything, he's not quite sure. He digs under her clothes, hooker wear, he snarks to himself and finds a stash of baggies, each one neatly twisted to keep the white powder inside.

He drops the bags as though his hands are singed. With a sneer, he moves to the next drawer, furious now. He'd known, he'd always known but he hates her all the more for it.

Deep inside the drawer, Bobby finds a small bundle. He sits back on the floor and stares at the tightly wrapped envelopes. He lasts only seconds before tearing each one open, his eyes prickling with unshed tears.

X

He reads each letter, and wishes he hadn't. Each is addressed to him, written in sloppy handwriting that Bobby recognizes too well. He reads them, his heart thudding painfully against his ribcage.

She wrote words of apologies, words of scathing fury to the life she'd had, to the parents who hadn't cared enough to know when she needed them the most. She left him words of love, of how much she'd agonized over having him, of how she wanted something good in her life.

Tears gather in his eyes and spill down his cheeks. He hates her for this, more than the drugs, more than the neglect, more than the goddamn indifference that put him on his path. He hates her for making him feel pity.

He tucks the envelopes into his jacket and swipes at his eyes with the back of one hand. He sniffs and looks around the bedroom once more. He can almost see the worn crib against one wall; see the outline of a baby who'd been born so angry at life.

He turns away and leaves the apartment, locking the door behind him. He touches one hand to the bundle in his pocket. He wants to keep hating her, but the pity is stronger.

Bobby returns home that night and shows Evelyn the envelopes. She holds on to Bobby, letting him grieve in his own silent, furious tears. She understands and he loves her all the more for it. In her arms, he grieves for his birth mother, for the life she had, for his own lost childhood and for the pain and suffering he endured and caused to others.

When the tears taper off, Evelyn brushes the gentlest of kisses to his forehead, and in spite of the ache, he feels some part of his anger dissolve. He can't ever forget, but he can start to forgive, at least this much.

XX