Chapter 12: Crosses to Bear

We entered to find Connor and Da in an intense conversation.

"-'s been years now boy, get a move on with it already!" They stopped as we entered. Connor instantly knew something was wrong as soon as our eyes met.

"Wha? Wha is it?" He said, fidgeting with worry. It had to have been driving him crazy to be out of all the action.

"They're fuckin Italians alright. Saw them in tha Cadillac roundin tha corner." I spat.

"Jesus, Mary and fuckin Joseph. Wha'd Smecker say?"

"Pretty much said that tha Russians are disputin turf with this Macalusso family tha's tryin ta pick up where tha Yakavetta's left off. Only problem is tha they're both out ta get us before we get them." Murphy practically growled.

"It's a fine mess ye've gotten yerselves in, aye?" Da said, standing and peering out the window. I could see him carefully weighing options.

"We can't afford ta be movin anywhere with Connor in his condition." I said automatically, knowing that's what he was mulling over. "Besides, we got nowhere else ta go."

"Aye, an even if we did, I'm not backin down, not after all tha shit we jus went through!" Murphy said defiantly. He'd always been one for action anyways. He loved the thrill of fighting for fighting's sake. I'd lost count of the times he'd pick a fight with the biggest person in the room, just to see if he could beat him, but that was Murph for you.

"Now hold yer fuckin tongues. Let's take a fuckin second ta take a fuckin breath!" Connor said, sipping from the almost empty bottle. "we don't know fer sure wha they're up ta, so let's not go around flippin shit jus yet until we know fer a fact wha they have planned."

"But Connor-" Murphy objected. I looked at Connor, studying his face. He was exhausted and hurting, but he wouldn't let that show, not at a time like this. No, Connor would do his best to keep it together, because he knew that Murphy needed him. He knew that if he fell apart, so would Murphy and he'd die before he let that happen.

"No, he's right Murph. We need ta get all tha pieces ta this before we go chargin around tha city like fuckin lunatics. Connor needs ta rest before we do anythin. We're stayin put." I put my foot down and Murph realized that I was right. He'd do anything to make sure Connor was alright. For fuck's sake, the man had been on the edge of death until only a few hours ago! Connor needed to rest and relax for a while and none of us were willing to sacrifice his health for this.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say ye've been around their Ma entirely too much." Da smiled. "But yer right. Gettin' him well is tha first priority."

"Wha's tha ya got Murph?" Connor said, eyeing the folder Smecker had given us. I'd almost forgotten about it all together.

"Smecker gave it ta us. Ya both should take a look. We got a full house ta clean." Murphy said excitedly. He loved what we did at times like this. He would always be an adrenaline junkie. Connor and Da flipped through the folder and Da suddenly snatched it up from Connor's hands, studying a picture.

"I know this woman. She's tha lass tha put me in jail!" He exclaimed, full of rage. We all huddled around, getting a good look at the picture. She was pretty, with round, full hazel eyes and a perfect smile. Her chestnut brown hair was pulled sloppily up in the mug shot, but she still had a powerful elegance about her.

"Allegra Cabassi. Her father was tha mafia's right hand man back in tha day. She ratted me out ta save her own arse, tha wench."

"So wha's she doin in tha folder then, tha had ta have been years ago, right?" Murphy asked.

"Says she married Emilio Macalusso, underboss o'tha family." He read her file.

"Wha tha fuck're we gonna do now then?" Connor said, contemplating.

"We're not gonna do shit now. Smecker's lookin inta the whole crooked cop deal, an there's not much else we can do but wait. Wha YOU need ta do is take a fuckin nap. Ya look fuckin exhausted, tha both o'ya." I said, seeing the dark circles encompassing both of their eyes. They looked at each other, both deciding it was best not to fight with me at this point. Da and Murph helped Connor to the back room, with only their Da emerging.

"Still joined at tha hip, I see." He laughed as he sat across from me at the table.

"Always will be, tha two of 'em. Ya can't really have one without tha other. " I smiled fondly.

"Yer a noble woman, Aideen. They're lucky ta have ye. Ya know they're raving mad about ye!" He said, chuckling.

"I know. I dunno wha I'd do without 'em, those cheeky little fuckers. They missed ya though. I know they have. Watched 'em grow up without ya, watched 'em struggle an wonder. They won't say anythin' though. Lord fuckin forbid." I said and his grin died away.

"T'wasn't an easy choice ta make, as ye well know now. I loved me boys, and me sweet Anne, but God's callin was louder. Not a day goes by tha I don't regret walkin out tha door, but I have a feelin I woulda regretted it more if I hadn't." he said, his eyes glimmering with resolve.

"Don't ya ever get tired? Jus want ta go back ta Ireland an hug yer wife an do nothin at all? How can we keep this up? We know how it's gonna end, none o'us will say it, but we know. God knows I couldn't, I wouldn't go on without either o'them. I feel like I got tha damn cross on my back." I said, my worries slipping out of me before I could even stop them.

"D'ya know wha I think? I think the good lord gives us all a cross ta bear, and yer crosses are sleepin in tha next room. Now that ye know how corrupt this world is, could ya stop? Could ye honestly sit around knowin wha's happenin an not do anythin ta stop it? God gave those boys ye so ya could protect 'em, look out fer them. I know ye'd follow them ta the gates of hell because ya can't be without them. O'course there's days where I wanna quit an run, but if we don't answer the call o'God, then who will?" He said, valiantly and my heart swelled. This was our calling. The boys and I knew it, we all felt it. That deep burning feeling of justice and anger and the need to fix this broken world we lived in. Da took my right hand, showing me the slightly faded tattoo that stood there. "Virtus" shone back at me. Virtue, it meant in English, honor, morality. Connor, Murphy and I had gotten them just as everything started, to serve as a constant reminder of just why we did this. I remember how proud we were, getting them done, Connor choosing Veritas, and Murph choosing Aequitas. We were fated to do this, God had chosen this as our destiny, and who were we to deny God? I smiled at Da, sipping on a newly opened beer.

"Ya think they forgive me?" He asked, studying to doorway to the bedroom guiltily.

"I think they're confused, but excited. Murphy's always been quick ta fergive, but it'll take Connor a bit longer ta come ta terms with this. They love ya, they always have. We used ta pretend ya were off fightin crime, funny how it works out, dunnit?" I grinned. He laughed as he puffed on a cigar, leaning back in his chair.

"Ye know, yer father always wanted ya ta be a strong women, like yer mother. Tha women could beat tha paint off a house if she thought it'd done her wrong." He said, remembering with a hint of a smile on his lips.

"How well did ya know 'em? I only really remember tha little things. Like tha way Da smelled of whiskey an aftershave, or how Ma loved yellow roses, so Da would get them on her birthday." I said, trying to remember every detail of them I could muster.

"I grew up with yer Da, since we was 5 years old. Sly little bastard he was, ye remind me so much of 'em anymore." He said sadly, pounding back a shot. "Ta be honest, their death is wha made me start this whole Saintly bid. I was so angry tha God could do somethin like tha ta people like yer parents, so confused tha no one could see how wrong this world was. I knew God had chosen me ta stop it all." There was a silence as we both drank. He looked at me regret and fear in his eyes. He leaned forward, his eyes staring right into my soul.

"I never wanted this fer ya three. I wanted ya ta have a happy life, free from this. I wanted tha boys ta run and play an cause the havoc only boys can. I wanted ya ta settle down with tha ones ya loved and have a family and a life tha ye could enjoy." He atoned, his cigar in hand.

"It's God's will now. T'was God tha gave us this, not you. T'was God tha gave me back my Connor and took my Rocco. God's not one ta throw all his cards down at once, he's kinda funny like that." I said, finishing my beer and standing from the cluttered table. "Now if you'll excuse me, I think it's about my naptime." I walked into the bedroom that Connor had fought for his life in and nudged Murphy, who was sleeping soundly on the floor next to the mattress. He shifted over automatically and I nestled myself in between the two people I couldn't live without, happy that we were all together once again, as our chaotic dysfunctional family.