Disclaimer: Don't own it.
AN: Thanks to those that reviewed. I hope this chapter offers some answers!
- All Falls Down -
Crossing a street, Charlie carefully placed the gun in the back of his trousers, making sure that his shirt hid it from view. The last thing he wanted was to cause a panic; people easily started to scream when they spotted a man with a gun, but it was rather early and there was only the occasional person getting from their house into their car to get to work.
It was then that doubt started to settle in. Charlie knew he had to get to Don, but the question that really mattered was how. Don was on the other side of the city and Charlie had no money or car to get there. Walking would take him over four hours which was time he did not have. He contemplated if stealing a car would be his best option, but at that moment, a large, black SUV came driving besides him, causing Charlie's heart to skip a beat.
Had the Boss' men already found him?
The armoured car came to a complete stop and the window from the driver's seat rolled down and revealed a kind, older man. John. Charlie didn't know why, but he smiled when looking into his greyish eyes, suddenly feeling a relief flood through him. Perhaps not all hope is lost yet, he thought.
"Get in," John said kindly, stopping the car completely now.
Charlie did so, knowing that he still had a gun if he needed to defend himself. He quickly pushed aside those thoughts because this was John, this was a man Charlie considered to be his uncle, who would never hurt him. Would he? Fact remained that John still worked for the Boss so could he honestly be trusted?
John's next words made Charlie feel a little more at ease since his voice surprisingly calm. "I'll drive you to your brother. You'll get there faster than on foot." He pressed down on the gas and the car shot forward.
"Thanks," Charlie said, allowing himself to take in a deep breath. He leaned his head against the head-rest and dared closing his eyes for a few minutes. He only realized now how tired he actually felt due to the past events. So much had happened this morning alone and Charlie suddenly remembered Tiny's cry of agony when he had shot him. Slowly, he opened his eyes, unsure of how much time had past already. "Why?" he suddenly asked.
The question seemed to have taken John off guard since he didn't answer for a long moment later. Charlie noticed how his fingers were clenched around the steering wheel. "Why what? Why am I taking you to see your brother?" John waited for Charlie to nod. "Because you're Alex," he explained, "or should I call you Charlie now?"
"Charlie is fine."
"I saw you grow up into a fine man, Charlie," John said, keeping his eyes focused on the road ahead, "and believe it or not, but I do care for you. I never had a family of my own, but if anyone is closest to me, it's you."
Charlie sighed heavily, knowing full well what John was risking for him at the moment. He too felt very close to him and the mere thought that this could get him into trouble with the Boss send shivers down his spine.
"Thanks," he said again.
"But you shouldn't have shot Tiny in the knee-cap," John almost reprimanded him, quickly casting him a glance before turning to look ahead once more. He turned the car into the east street and continued their journey. "He can't go to the hospital without being arrested since the police is always notified when your injury is a gun shot wound and Tiny is wanted criminal."
Charlie should feel a little remorseful, but he couldn't even kid himself. "He had it coming."
John chuckled, clearly amused. "Perhaps, but you pissed him and his friends of. You'll have to be careful, Charlie, not to get caught by them in the future."
"Don will protect me." Determination seeped through his voice.
"Are you sure?" John turned the car into another street. There sounded worry in his every word and something else as well, but Charlie couldn't quiet place it. "Because you have committed crimes in your life, Charlie, so who isn't to say that he won't arrest you as soon as you show up on his doorstep."
"Are you trying to change my mind?" Charlie didn't take his eyes away from John for even a second. Those greyish eyes seemed glued to the road, avoiding Charlie completely.
"Just think about it," John said, "if you do this, then there is no turning back. Ever." Again, that strange emotion became apparent in his voice, but Charlie dismissed it. It was only logical that John felt torn about the whole situation.
"Would you believe me if I said I don't care?"
"I just need him to be alright, John" Charlie said, needing him to understand, "I have never before doubted who my family was, but then I met the Eppes and...I don't know." He sighed heavily. "I felt like I belonged. I had come home and leaving again was the most difficult thing I ever did in my life. If it wasn't for Peter Sullivan..." His voice died away, overcome by emotion. Not that he would cry – he had long ago learned never to cry. It was the first sign of weakness. At least, that was what the Boss had taught him.
However, John managed to complete his sentence. "You would have stayed."
"Yes," Charlie watched how John offered him a kind, almost sad smile, "I would have stayed, but I couldn't. Returning to the Boss only opened my eyes and made me realize that I never belonged there in the first place. You know me well enough, you should know that."
"I do," John eyed him, "which is why I know that you despise that weapon you have concealed behind your back."
Slowly, Charlie reached around his back and pulled out the gun. It was almost strange to be holding it again, its weight heavy and dangerous, but knowing that he would never need to use it again brought him comfort. He had never been a violent man and weapons had always caused a shiver to run down his back.
"Give it to me," John said, holding out a hand, "Charlie, you can trust me."
He had gotten into his car willingly, he had trusted him ten minutes ago so why couldn't he trust him now? Would John really shoot him once he had the weapon? Charlie shrugged away that feeling. He could trust John, he had to trust John. Gently, he gave him the gun and watched how he emptied the clip with one hand – keeping his other one on the steering wheel - and tossed the weapon onto the back seat. It was a completely harmless gun now.
"Why are you doing this?" John suddenly asked, his voice tight. "The Boss has always been kind to you, loved you and now you're running to your other family."
Charlie swallowed when hearing those words. "You think betraying your family is the worst possible crime, don't you?"
"I would have died for you," John said in a low voice, "I would have done anything for you."
Again, he made a left turn and Charlie suddenly realized that John knew exactly where they were going. "While everyone knew you had grown too attached to your brother," John continued, "the Boss kept believing that you'd turn around, that you'd realize who mattered to you."
The realisation came slowly, too slowly for Charlie's otherwise genius brain; he should never have gotten into the car!
"I did what I had to," he said quietly, "but you are here as well. If I am betraying the Boss by returning to Don, then what are you doing?"
They were only three blocks away from the Eppes' home now.
"I am doing what should have been done a long time ago," John snapped. His hand disappeared into the inner pocket of his jacket for a second and he pulled out a knife, a weapon more painful than a gun.
Charlie couldn't help but look back at the empty gun laying on the back seat. He cursed himself for having been so blind, for having trusted John when he knew he was loyal to the Boss in the first place.
"Are you going to kill me too?" He asked nervously. All that he could think, was getting out of this car as quickly as possible.
"You are returning with me, Alex," John said violently, "and you are going to face punishment. No one walks away from the Boss and no one betrays him like you did."
Charlie didn't know why he did it, but suddenly his hands flung forward and grabbed the steering wheel, pulling it his right. John cried out in surprise and brought down his hand holding the knife. The blade sunk deep into Charlie's stomach who screamed in agony. The car flew across the road as John lost control over the vehicle and it landed on its side, trapping John and Charlie inside.
His surroundings swam around him, but Charlie forced himself to open his eyes. Bile rose in his throat and black spots threatened to consume his entire vision, but he managed to focus and look at John who lay with his eyes closed, blood running down his face as his head had slammed against the side window.
Slowly, as if every movement caused a thousand needles to pierce his body, Charlie opened his door with much effort and crawled from the passenger seat. Smoke erupted from the hood of the car and glass lay scattered on the road, but no one was around to have witnessed the accident. It was only a matter of time before John would wake and understand what had happened. Charlie needed to act quickly and so he began to walk, his hand pressing down on his stab wound.
His legs felt like those of a doll, completely out of control and empty, and his head felt extremely light, but he managed to walk, keeping his mind occupied by thinking of Don. He had to reach Don. He had to warn him, protect him. Just a little while longer and he would be home. Finally.
He reached the right street after what seemed a century.
Coughing violently, Charlie tasted blood in his mouth, but he felt new energy course through his veins as he saw the Eppes home before him. Making sure that John wasn't behind him – he wasn't – Charlie made his way to Don who just exited the house, but hadn't noticed him.
His hands were trembling now, his legs threatening to give away, but he finally reached his brother. He would finally be able to warn him.
AN: I hope that explained some things. Next chapter will began where the previous one left of. Thanks for reading!