A/N: Redsandman here, with the third collaboration between myself and RRatedauthor. I just wanted to stop and say that if you haven't ready Crossfire (posted on my profile page) or In the Line of Fire (posted on RRatedauthor's profile page), you should stop and go back and read them (especially In the Line of Fire, since this story will not make much sense if you don't read that one).
Now, with that being said, on with the story!
Two thirty in the morning. Tom Hardy had been missing for almost seventy-two hours. No phone calls, no nothing. Not even a peep on his twitter account (TomHardyRox). With every passing minute, the odds that Tom was going to be found decreased.
The only comfort was that Jeff seemed to have a lot of people willing to help, even the Lawsons. Well, James wasn't exactly receptive to the whole help thing, but he did stop swearing every time Tom's name was mentioned.
The bigger problem was the police. Almost immediately, Jeff had wanted to go to them. The problem in question had to do with the two dead bodies found in Tim's club. The police were going on the assumption that it was a random incident, although they were having trouble explaining how one of the bodies happened to be found completely skinned with nothing above the neck. If the name Lawson came up, this could lead to all sorts of digging and who knows what other bits of dirt may be brought to the surface, put there was definitely enough for a several awkward questions to be asked.
'Fuck fuck fuck... why can't these fuckin' Hardys ever leave the fuckin' drama alone?' A quarter to three and Cooper was staring into his mirror trying to convince himself that he wasn't letting Tom's disappearance get to him. Convincing himself was not a problem, it was the rest of his "family" that was the kicker, Mark especially. The Deadman seemed to be watching him every waking moment (when he wasn't fucking James), although after the blowout three days ago, he had backed off and was starting to act almost like a father to him. That really weirded Cooper out.
"Screw this," Cooper growled and began to dress. He wasn't about to admit, not to himself, or Mark, or anyone else, how deeply this had affected him. He dressed in silence, and quickly eased out of his room.
"And just where do you think you're going at this hour?"
"Fuck off, Mark." Cooper finished locking his bedroom door without bothering to even to look at the speaker. "We've already had this talk and if I remember correctly, you said after you were done talking I could tell you to go to hell. So here it is... Go... to... HELL!"
"I swear, sometimes I think Connor is more mature than you are." Mark shook his head, glaring at his eldest son.
"That has nothing to do with me, Deadman. Unless you want to explore realms of pain similar to what Patrick experienced, get the fuck outta my way and let me do what I hafta do."
"That being what?"
"That being none of your business." Cooper elbowed Mark out of the way and ran down the stairs.
Mark watched Cooper leave the house. That boy is about as subtle as a fart in church. Must take after his mother.
"That's a lie. Annabelle? Come on Mark, you know what she was like. She never ran out of the house at this hour."
Mark looked over at James who had materialized seemingly out of thin air. For a man his size, an incredible feat indeed. He also realized that his mumblings were a lot louder that he'd hoped.
"Dude, do you know how annoying it is when you do that?" Mark growled.
"Motherfucker, do you know how annoying it is when you leave in the middle of giving me a blowjob?" James demanded.
"Yes... you've done it to me many times."
"Good." James threw Mark over his shoulder and carried him back into their bedroom. "You do that again and you're leaving in a wheelchair..."
"This is ridiculous. What the fuck is your brother trying to prove?" Randy yelled.
"I don't know. He's never done anything like this before." Matt replied, keeping his tone down so the sleeping man in the next room wouldn't wake up. Almost three days straight of being awake before Jeff's body finally gave in and he passed out in his bed. "Something must've happened to him."
"Why didn't he just get in the car with us and talk to James later? What could have been so goddamned important? I thought he hated James to begin with."
"I dunno, man, but I do know that he is going to have a lot of explaining to do when he gets home..."
"For sure," Randy stated "And knowing you, if he doesn't you'll beat it out of him."
"If he's lucky.. hang on, there's someone at the door."
"At this hour?"
"Maybe it's Tom... I'll call you back." Matt ran to the front door double-time, hoping that it was his wayward brother.
"It's about time you... what the fuck!"
"Is Jeff around?"
"He's finally asleep," Matt growled "You've got some explaining to do."
"Yeah, but not to you."
"Matty, is that Tommy?" Jeff was at the top of the stairs. Rubbing his brick-red eyes, he called down to Matty.
"See what you did. You woke him up!" Matt barked. "No, it isn't Jeff. It's Cooper."
"Cooper?" Jeff ran into Cooper's arms. "What are you doing here?"
"I was going to ask him the same question." Matt leaned against the wall and stared Cooper down.
Why am I here? Why do I even care? It was a one-time thing, you said so yourself!
"Uh, Lawson?" Matt waved his hand in front of Cooper's face.
"What?" Cooper snapped, blinking twice to refocus.
"You haven't answered Jeff's question. Why are you here?" Matt repeated. His body language clearly indicated that Cooper's reply better not only be a good one, but the right one.
"Fuck it. I knew coming here was a mistake."
"Yeah, Lawsons aren't known for making mistakes, right?" Matt retorted.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Pushing Jeff aside, Cooper stood nose to nose with Matt.
"Obviously something happened while the two of you were chasing after Patrick. What happened?" Matt demanded.
"That's the million dollar question," Cooper answered.
"Yeah, one to which two people know the answer to." Matt continued to lock eyes with Cooper. "And since one of them is missing..."
Cooper scowled. This was not something he wanted to discuss with Matt. "Well the other one is going to talk to Jeff alone," he said quietly. "So why don't you--"
"No!" Matt said stubbornly. "No fucking way! Jeff, Tom, Randy and I all put our lives on the line helping your family and they didn't even DESERVE it! You fucking owe it to us to tell us what happened between you and Tom."
"Fine," Cooper said. He didn't want to tell Matt. This was going to cause a fight and a fight between them would more than likely end with Matt getting injured. But Matt wasn't going to let this go without a fight, and the more time they wasted doing the arguing bullshit, the less time they had to find Tom. "We fucked. We fucked in a shed before we got to Patrick's house. Don't even ask me what either of us were thinking because I still don't understand why that fucking shit happened. Tom's a prick and I don't even like him but things just got out of hand--"
"You....you fucked Tommy?" Jeff said softly, his eyes wide in disbelief.
"Well technically he fucked me," Cooper corrected before realizing that was probably not the best thing to admit at the moment.
Matt shook his head. "No way," he said. "There's no way he would do that. After everything that happened last time with Jeff and James--"
"It happened, okay?" Cooper said irritably. He was not in the mood to be anything but blunt. He hadn't really slept since he had found out that Tom had disappeared and that was really starting to get to him. "Now get with the fucking program asshole!"
Jeff just stared at him with hurt and tearful eyes. "How could you....how could he...." Jeff couldn't even finish the question. He just lunged at Cooper and began beating him with his fists. "You bad!" he shouted. "You bad! Why couldn't you leave my Tommy alone?"
"Damn Jeff, that is not helping right now!" Cooper snapped. He made no move to defend himself or point out that Tom had just as much to do with the incident in the shed as he did. He wanted to take the blame for this. I shouldn't have told him. I don't think this was a good idea...but what the hell else was I supposed to do? He was probably going to find out sooner rather than later, and if it was me, I would want to fucking know.
Jeff ignored Cooper's words and just kept hitting him. Matt let him do it, although he looked ready to strike if Cooper laid a hand on Jeff in retalliation. Finally, after what felt like forever (although it couldn't have been more than a minute), Jeff collapsed at Cooper's feet and began to sob. Matt quickly kneeled down and pulled his baby brother into his arms. "Are you fucking happy now?" he asked Cooper.
"Does it fucking LOOK like I'm happy?" Cooper snarled. Even knowing that he was in the wrong party was not going to prevent him from punching Matt in the face if he got a question like that again. He knelt down beside Jeff too and physically grabbed Matt to prevent the darker haired man from pulling Jeff away. "We're going to find Tom," he said quietly. "No matter where he is, we will find him and bring him back to you. And then the three of us are going to sort the shit out. You understand me."
It took a few more minutes of crying, but Jeff finally managed to nod.
"Alright then." Cooper looked at Matt, who looked ready to try to take his head off. "Don't give me that look Hardy," he growled.
"Why not?" Matt replied. "It's nothing compared to what I really want to do to you."
Yeah, like you could. Cooper didn't say that out loud though, even though he wanted to really badly. Starting a fight with Matt wasn't going to solve a damn thing. It was just going to make things worse and things were bad enough as it was. Tom, I swear, if something didn't actually happen to you and you just ran off to avoid Jeff, I will slaughter you. This shit has put me into one hell of an awkward situation and this is not going to be fun at all.
"What the hell has gotten into that boy of yours?" James turned his head to look into Mark's eyes.
"Why is it when Cooper does something stupid, it's always 'that boy of mine', but whenever he kills someone, he's 'your' son?" Mark stared at the ceiling, bringing a lit cigarette to his lips and puffing deeply.
"'Coz I'm the only one who taught him anything." James answered, taking a drag of his own smoke. "Ya mind movin' the ashtray a little closer so I don't have to butt this out on you?"
"Maybe if you had acted more like a human being instead of the psycho ass you usually are, he might have been a little nicer about the whole situation. I'm almost positive confronting Tom alone was not the best thing to do."
"I don't want my son..."
"Now he's your son again." Propping himself on his elbow, Mark stared at James. "He's fuckin' twenty-seven years old. Isn't it about time you stopped meddling in his life."
"I'll stop meddling when he stops fucking around with people I hate!" James growled.
Like father, like son.
"Did it ever occur to you that maybe Cooper has feelings for Tom? Did you even stop to think about that?"
"Yeah, right. How the hell would you know?"
"Because I actually talked to him about it, okay!" It was breaking down again. Mark wondered when fists would enter the fray. "He's confused right now. What he needs is a little bit of understanding."
"What's there to understand? Tom is the enemy, as are all of them."
Mark wasn't exactly sure who 'all of them' were, but he had a good idea. "Not to Cooper. If you're too pig-headed to get that, maybe it's time I step up and become a father to him." He threw off the blankets and got out of bed.
"Just where the fuck do you think you're going?" James demanded
"Mark..." James said in a low voice. "Don't do something you'll regret."
"I don't do regret. If you decide to come to your senses, let me know." Mark stormed out of the house and got on his bike. Why the fuck can't we have a civil conversation once in a while?
Mark was pretty sure he knew where Cooper had gone, but another confrontation like the one he'd just finished was not on his agenda. He drove through town, taking the back paths so he wouldn't be spotted. Fifteen minutes later, he pulled up to the nightclub where Patrick as well as his cousin had met their fates three days ago. It was still surrounded by police tape, but that didn't bother Mark at all. He was just as good at breaking and entering as the rest of the Lawson clan, only just a little out of practice.
He stared at the dark structure. Hardy, you better be in here or dead or both. If you're not, heaven help us all...