****Author's Note: Hello to all of my fellow fangirls! So for those of you who were waiting breathlessly (yea, right) for the continuation of my Saints Saga, here it is! Sorry about the long hiatus, but my smut fiction tends to be a bit of an outlet for me when I'm sexually frustrated, and I haven't been since November (insert smutty grin, here). So you can blame my friend with benefits for the delay, but also thank him if you enjoy the smut because it is, **ahem**, inspired.

Anyway, this one takes us right up to the end of Boondock 1, I have the continuation already in mind, and I think it will split up nicely into two more fics, so fear not, Dear Readers, we are not yet finished.

I hope y'all enjoy and please review, not flame.

PS- A special thanks to Valerie E. Mackin (who also has a helluva boondock series going herself), Nmbr1Fanilow, and ShayGurl for the fan-tastic emails and encouragement. And to pitbullsrok, Penelope sweet, and SaraLostInes for sticking with me and reviewing all the way through this particularly dirty journey. And to everyone who loves this series as much as I do, loves my OFC, and who favorites my stories and puts me on Author Alert (although, y'all could review **cough, cough, hint hint**). Y'all are great and have kept me going. Thank you so much.

So here we go, girls. Enjoy!****

I could feel the pressure in my chest, straining to get out. I could feel the tears burning in the corners of my eyes, threatening to spill. But I wasn't going to do it. Not in the back of a cab. Not a block from the sanctuary of my apartment. I breathed in deeply, exhaling slowly, trying to will my body into relaxation…it wasn't fucking working.

The cab stopped in front of my building and I got out heading straight for the door. Murphy had paid the cabbie while Connor held me, standing on the curb. The memory of his body against my own for the last time threatened to rip a hole in my control again and I choked it off. Not in my hallway. Not a minute walk from my front door.

The elevator doors dinged cheerily as they opened and I wanted to smash them with my boot. But I curbed that impulse. Very adult of me, I thought.

I was looking down at the keys in my hand as I stepped off on my floor, and was already fumbling at the lock on my door when I heard the soft voice from directly behind me, "Need help, child?"

My keys fell from my hand as soon as the first word was out of Il Duce's mouth, but they never hit the floor. The eldest McManus, who could have been mistaken for a doting grandfather (as long as you didn't look too closely into his eyes) moved like a panther, snatching my keys from the air less than six inches from my hand.

I laughed out a little sigh, accepting my keys back from him. "Apparently," I said, "I'm a little jumpy."

I caught myself looking at his chest, before I made a conscious effort to raise my face. There was something about Il Duce (as much as I tried, I couldn't bring myself to think of him as Noah) that always made me want to drop my eyes and hold my hat in my hand as a sign of respect. Something about him just screamed to be wary, but I could see why the boys had clung to him so readily. He projected strength and power as well as malice so thickly around him it was practically a tangible cloud.

He took a microscopic step back and extended both hands to me. I slid my keys into the pocket of my jeans and put my hands in his and was instantly stuck with how much they felt like Connor's. "It was lovely to have met ye, child. Ye truly are one of a kind."

I half-smiled and nodded as he released my hands and continued. "A shame it has to end this way," he said reaching into his coat.

My brain froze as my mind's eye saw the wide open barrel of one of the six pistols he carried leveling at my head and everything going black. It must have shown on my face because he smiled as he pulled an unlit cigar from the lining of his coat. I puffed out a breath I didn't realize I was holding as he touched my face lightly with the inside of his index finger as he spoke, "Ye need never fear me, child."

I laughed lightly through my nose, "Sorry."

He pinned me with his eyes as he lit his cigar, inhaling and exhaling, before he waved his hand at me, a gesture of dismissal of my apology. "Look after yerself," he said.

I nodded. "You too," I replied, "And…" I trailed off, thinking of the boys, the tears in my eyes threatening to escape again.

"Aye, child," he agreed, a knowing grin on his face. "I'll look after them, as well."

I smiled back, "Thank you."

Then he hugged me.


Hard enough to pop my back and sudden and unexpected enough that he was already letting go before my arms moved to return the squeeze. He indulged my slow response for a second or so, then stepped back from me and swept down the hall with all the grace of a jungle predator, through the door for the fire stairs, and he was gone.

I stood in the hallway, dumbfounded, for a few seconds before I fumbled the keys back out of my pocket and managed to get the door open.

Surprisingly enough after Il Duce left I didn't feel quite so bad. I guess the idea of somebody watching out for them eased my soul a little. I was sure it would hit me at some point and I'd lose it a little, quite possibly a lot, but for now it didn't seem so pressing. I breathed a little easier as I threw my purse on the chair and started peeling clothes as I walked to my kitchen. I poured myself a shot of Jameson's and downed it and another before I poured it in a glass with some ice and a splash of Coke. I stirred it with my finger as I walked through the apartment towards my bathroom.

One of the best things about my place was the old plumbing and by association the old, deep, heavy tub in my bathroom. Sitting on the edge, I pawed through my bath salts and oils until I found the ones I was looking for and started the tub to fill. Sipping my drink, I retrieved my robe from the back of the bedroom door and a washcloth before I piled my hair on top of my head, securing it with two chopsticks.

Stepping in, I lowered myself an inch at a time watching as my skin flared red in reaction to the steaming water. I turned the knob with my toe as I settled back, whiskey in one hand, washcloth over my eyes and my mind wandering.

We had decided a few weeks ago (well, technically, the twins had decided, I had been informed) that we weren't going to spend our last night in bed together. They said they needed to have their heads in the game. Needed to be focused. I was, apparently, distracting, which, I suppose, was a compliment, I thought, smiling to myself.

Tonight, our last night together, had been fun, regardless. The boys had picked me up at my place and taken me to a nice dinner. Then onto a movie of my choice and I had gotten to make out with each of them in turn in the dark of the theater. Good times.

We had ended up back at Doc's at around 10 on a Monday, which would usually mean finding somewhere else to drink, since McGinty's is closed on Mondays. But today wasn't a normal Monday.

We had all just gotten a shot down and cigarettes lit when the others started to filter in. The three detectives first. Standing around nervously, chatting anxiously with the boys and me and Doc. Smecker sauntered in about five minutes later, shaking hands with the twins on either side of me while very studiously ignoring me.

Il Duce magically appeared at the back of the bar a minute or two later, sitting silently at a round table puffing up a sweet smelling cloud of cigar smoke. Smecker headed towards him, the detectives following in his wake like ducklings. The twins, in vigilante mode, touched me lightly on the arm as they rose and followed.

Smecker had made it clear from the onset that he did not want me involved in anyway with what they had planned. It was bad enough his own career was on the line but the careers and pensions of Dolly, Duffy and Greenly, too. The boys, with encouragement from their Da, had allowed that while I wouldn't sit in on the actual planning, it was up to them if I came along to any clandestine meetings.

Smecker wasn't an idiot. He knew that without his planning the boys had little to no chance of nailing their intended target. They needed him. And the boys knew that since the whole smiting of evil thing was kind of their bag, Smecker needed them, too. So, however grudgingly, I had been allowed along.

The meeting tonight had been a formality more than anything else, anyway. The plan had been set in stone weeks ago.

I didn't know the specifics of the plan, but considering that I had been watching highlights of Poppa Joe's most recent trial on TV for the last week or so, I could imagine. I knew it was gonna be a coming-out of sorts, and I had heard them practicing a speech to each other that I guessed would be for the media's benefit.

I was much less worried about this job than I had been about any of the others. I loved my boys dearly, but the planning aspect of this new vocation of theirs was a bit dodgy. They were a little too impetuous to be effective criminal masterminds. That seemed to be where Smecker came in. He was intelligent enough to know what would work and what wouldn't and smart enough to know that the twins would respond better to helpful suggestions than to outright orders.

Despite his opinion of me, I had to admit, sitting in my rapidly cooling bath, I respected him for what he was doing and for his honest concern for the safety of my boys. After all hell broke loose tomorrow, Smecker already had plans in place to get them out of the country and for that I would be eternally grateful.

Also more than a little jealous, I thought, adjusting the washcloth over my eyes and listening to the sounds of my apartment settling. It did burn my ass ever so slightly that he would be one of the last people Connor and Murphy would see before they left the country for good. I understood the necessity of it, really, I did, but no one ever said female jealousy was rational.

Our goodbyes had been perfunctory and brief. The twins concentrating on tomorrow and me trying to keep my head together. They had each kissed and hugged me and they put me in a cab. I looked back before I rounded the first corner and they were walking off. Not looking back.

I told myself it was no big deal as I lay there in my tub, the washcloth on my face covering the tears that were leaking from my eyes without my permission. Quick and clean was probably better for all of us. Like ripping off a band-aid, right?


All of a sudden the hairs on my arm stood up. I felt a shift in the moisture laden air as if someone was moving around the room. I was scolding myself, stupidly, for not putting bubbles in the damn bath so I could at least feel a little less exposed when a soft voice spoke from the vicinity of my toilet, as a hand took my drink from my limp fingers, "Waste of whiskey, girl, just letting the ice melt into it."