Chapter Four: Ghosts

A damaged man struggles against gangsters, criminals and his own demons, always on the run from his past and looking for redemption.

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Simon Toews
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Re: Chapter Four: Ghosts

Post by Simon Toews » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:42 pm

Anna stepped into the stables, finding Simon already hard at work. A brush was in his hand as he groomed one of her horses. The man never ceased to amaze. She tugged her brown suede, wool-lined coat shut and crossed her arms watching him, a crooked smile on her face.

"Well. Look at you." She said.

Simon glanced back at her, grinning. "Hey."

"You look right at home." She told him, walking over to the horse and running her hand along its neck before giving it a pat.

"One of my jobs when I was on that farm." He explained. "One of my favorites."

"You're good with him." Anna said. "You ride?"

Simon made a face and wavered his hand, so so. "Let's just say I won't be entering any competitions any time soon."

The grin that formed on Anna's lips unsettled him. She stepped past him and the horse to a chestnut and white mare, leading her out from the stall. "Come on, Nevy. That's a girl." She cooed to the giant beast.

Simon cocked a brow up at her. "Going for a ride?"

"Yes." She said. "We are. Saddle Brutus up. Let's go."

She took a sort of sick enjoyment at the look of slight panic in his eyes them. She wanted to see just what other fun secrets her old friend was hiding. "I mean..." he said. "There's a lot of work to do..."

Anna rolled her eyes, pulling herself up onto horse. "All work and no play. Come on, Sally. Let's go!"

With a "Yah!", she kicked the beast into motion, galloping out of the barn into the snowy field. Simon watched her as she went, a rueful look on his face. "Yeah. This is a good idea..." He muttered sarcastically and pulled himself onto Brutus's back and chased after her.

Snowy chunks kicked up behind him as he pursued after Anna. Despite the chill in the air whipping by him , it didn't bother Simon. The property was huge, Anna leading him across the sprawling snow covered fields. As he pulled beside her, she glanced over with that crooked little grin on her face. Simon couldn't help but laugh. She was loving this.

Suddenly, she broke off to the right, Simon struggling to follow suit. Brutus made an annoyed sound as he turned. Simon swore he shot him a dirty look over his shoulder before taking off again.

Anna and Nevy shot into the woods, following a trail. She'd clearly run this path before, ducking under twigs and branches before they even came close. Simon barely escaped getting clotheslined by a branch.

"Heads up!" Anna called out teasingly behind her. The pair of them tore through the wooded trail, Simon catching up alongside her. He had to admit, it was exhilarating. Anna's face was aglow. This was where she belonged. Finally they burst out of the tree line, heading up a hill. When they finally came to a stop, Simon looked out over a vast canyon. Winding and impossibly deep into the earth, a brilliant display of reds and browns, forged by millennia upon millennia.

Simon's breath left him in a mist, the sight overwhelming him. He'd never seen anything quite like it.

"Helluva view, isn't it?" Anna said breathlessly. Her green eyes were shining, possibly from the cold, but also the sight. "This is where I used to come when I first came here. It just made me feel like, everything we went through was just a blip in time and everything would pass. It gave me hope."

Simon was happy for her. She deserved something like this. Looking out into the winding valleys and cliff faces, he completely understood. "It's beautiful."

"Yeah," She said with a wistful smile. "It is."

For a moment they sat and took in the splendor of it all. Soon after, they were riding back at a leisurely pace. "You ride well," she told him.

"Not as good as you." Simon snorted. "When did that start?"

"I was about...17 I think?" She looked to him. "Sam and Maggie saw how much I liked the horses, so Maggie started taking me out."

"Well, you clearly took to it." He said.

Anna laughed bitterly. "Took my fair share of falls. Got tossed a couple times. Spent about a month with a busted arm thanks to one particularly ornery horse."

"Eeesh..." Simon responded through clenched teeth.

"Yeah. Not fun." She said. "Brutus likes you. I think you made a friend."

Simon chuckled "Yeah, right. I think he was about to dump my ass into the canyon."

Anna rolled her eyes. "Oh, he was not. You're pretty good. I half thought you'd have him walking backwards half the way there."

"No, I'm not THAT bad." He snickered. "He's a lot of animal to move around."

"Yeah." Anna smiled. "He's my big boy."

"You ever miss the city life?" Simon asked.

Anna shrugged. "Not really. The city's a place of bad memories for me. Out here, it's peaceful. Safe."

He could understand that. How different would his life have been if he'd found her earlier? How much pain would he have avoided if he'd just left with Cici?

"Plus, you'd probably piss a few people off racing a nearly one ton animal down Main Street."

"Yeah, there's always that." she laughed.
"And it's sick that all these battles are what keeps me satisfied"
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Tessa Bradley
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Re: Chapter Four: Ghosts

Post by Tessa Bradley » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:49 pm

Tessa lay, pressed up against Miles' side, her head resting upon his chest, just listening to his heartbeat. Her fingers trailed along a scar along his ribcage, one of many that rose here and there upon his body. A rough thumb stroked her shoulder gently. For how aggressive and passionate the night had started, now he was incredibly tender. Those blue eyes peered up at him, taking him in. Miles stared up at the ceiling, looking lost in thought.

What was going through that head? What had charged him up so much that he needed this so badly? It took a moment for him to sense her gaze, his eyes flicking down to the blonde wrapped in his arm. A warm smile spread across his face, the mask back on. His lips pressed to her forehead. "Hey, there."

Tessa's eyes closed, a contented smile upon her lips. "Hi."

"You okay?" He asked her.

Tessa rolled over, her arms draping over his chest, her chin upon her hands. "Mmhm." She nodded. "Are you?"

Miles made an odd face, a little scoff leaving him. "Yeah, I'm good."

"Good." She grinned. "Can I ask you something?"

"Shoot."

Tessa licked her lips, working up to the question. "Not that I'm not completely satisfied with it...but...what brought this on?"

That smile of his faltered just a hair. It was almost imperceptible, but she caught it. He mulled it over in his head before finally speaking. "I just had one of those days...where nothing goes quite right. I wanted something...perfect."

Her brows rose. "Perfect, huh?" She smirked. "Lil' ol' me?"

Miles grinned and shrugged. "Eh. You're alright."

She swatted his chest. "Dick."

Miles chuckled and adjusted his position, getting more comfortable. Tessa rested her cheek upon his chest. "Is everything alright?"

"I think so." he nodded. "Just a bad day."

Tessa's brow furrowed in concern. "You'd tell me if it wasn't...right?"

Miles' fingers ran through her hair. "Yeah...Yeah."

Nothing in his tone exactly convinced her, but he clearly didn't want to talk about it. She lay there and tried to quiet her mind. She didn't know what he did for Jakob Falk, but she was certain it had something to do with all of this.
Corrine Paige
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Re: Chapter Four: Ghosts

Post by Corrine Paige » Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:38 pm

Paige tried the number once again. For days, she tried to get ahold of Simon, but the man was a ghost. A long talk with Coleman left her ill at-ease with how they'd parted. Words had been said that stuck in her head. He didn't deserve them, least of all from her. In her heart, she knew the kind of man Jakob Falk was. The rumors persisted for decades as he built his stranglehold over the city.

Over the intervening days since his departure, she was able to piece together what must have happened. Fall played Simon like a fiddle and she, with her coworkers, was a pawn in this game. It had worked. Simon was separated from those closest to him. God knew where he'd gone to hide and regroup, but it didn't take a psychic to figure out what would come next. War would break out in the streets, and Simon would be leading the charge. It was only a matter of time.

Contacting Toews was an exercise in futility. Corrine's shoulders sank with a heavy sigh, the phone pressed to her forehead as she shut her eyes. In her fantasies, she could convince him not to go through with it. She could spare him more pain and blood. She knew better. Once Simon Toews set his mind to something, he saw it through to the bitter, blood soaked end. Even if she didn't, he wasn't picking up.

"Is Teen popstar, Tessa Bradley off the market?" She heard from the television. Corrine's attention was pulled to the screen, some gossipy garbage entertainment news show showing video of the girl singing on stage.

"Sources have spotted her with a mystery man getting cozy at popular night spots throughout the city for the past few weeks. But who is he?"

Paige's breath caught in her throat. The boy with her looked just like a young Simon. She had to rewind and pause the image. It was the eyes. She knew those eyes. As quick as she could she pulled up his number, listening to the ring anxiously.

"Pick up. Come on, Toews. Pick up the fucking phone!"

"This is Toews. Leave one." She'd heard that damn voicemail message a hundred times. Left messages that were never returned.

"Toews, it's Paige. You need to call me back! I know I fucked up, you need to hear this! Call me back."

She ended the call, knowing full well he wouldn't. Her head was spinning. She needed more. She needed something else. Corrine went to the first name that made sense.

""Yello?"

"Jordan." She said as the girl who worked as the clerk and bookkeeper at the agency picked up. "I'm sending you a picture. I need an ID."

"I don't exactly have all my files..."

"Just do what you can. Please. This is important."

It was a long shot, but Jordan knew her shit, and research was like her drug. She knew how to dig up dirt. It was just a hunch, but if it meant what she thought, it could change everything.
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Anna
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Re: Chapter Four: Ghosts

Post by Anna » Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:34 am

Simon sat at the kitchen table across from Otis. The man was built like a wall, arms as big as Simon's head. And that face was stoic as a statue. His cards were dwarfed by his huge hands, the big guy just staring. Simon studied him in vain. Otis betrayed absolutely nothing.

Those sharp blue eyes, shot to his hand. Full house. Good hand. Otis stared like he was looking at a hidden image poster, waiting for everything to become clear. Simon chewed lightly on the inside of his cheek and made his decision. "Welp..." he said. "Call up Danny Tanner...cuz, it looks like we got ourselves a Full House."

He laid that full house on the table. The moment Otis saw his hand, his facade cracked, those brows rose and a cocky smirk came to Simon's face. That was...until the slow, low laughter started rumbling from the man across the table. Otis layed down a straight flush, and Simon's face fell.

"Well...fuck."

Otis laughed loudly, collecting the pot. "Better luck next time, Uncle Joey."

"Hey." Simon said firmly. "Uncle Jessie. At least give me that." Simon joked bitterly.

Anna walked into the kitchen ,pouring herself a glass of water. "Otis, you scamming Simon?"

"Just a friendly game, Miss Anna." He assured her.

Simon made a face. "Yeah, tell that to the five hundred I'm out now..."

"Hey, live by the sword, die by the sword, little man." Otis collected his winnings with a chuckle and stood up, leaving the room.

"I'll be wanting a rematch!" Simon called after him.

"Any time, anywhere!" Otis called back.

Anna grinned watching the big man lumber away. "Sorry. Shoulda' warned you. Otis used to play professionally."

"Yeah, I kinda figured that one out the hard way." Simon muttered, dejected.

Anna chuckled, making a pouty face. "Aww...poor baby."

Simon shook his head, laughing quietly. "Where'd you find him?"

"Otis?" She said. "About five years ago, he made a lot of the wrong people angry. Hurt some folks pretty bad out East. He needed some place to lay low and get away from it all. I took him in, and he just.... fit. He's a good worker, and he's great with the kids. Plus anyone has trouble follow them to my doorstep, they take one look at him and think twice. He's kinda the papa bear around here."

Simon nodded and laughed. "Yeah. He's a good guy."

"He is." She agreed. "So, what about you?"

"What about me?" He asked.

"You seem pretty happy here. Fit in pretty well with the group. And I won't lie, I'm alright having you around. Think you might wanna stick with us?" Anna asked.

Simon's heart ached at the question. As much as he enjoyed this place and being with her again...it wasn't him. Not yet anyway.

"I really don't think I can." he sighed.

Anna's shoulder slumped as she sighed. "Why not? Isn't this better? Isn't this enough?"

"I have unfinished business, Anna." He insisted. "I left a girl...someone I swore to protect...out there with him. I can't just run away forever."

"A girl. Of course." Anna nodded, her green eyes slid shut as she attempted to compose herself. She could understand wanting to help. Hell, it was her entire life's work. But she knew his methods. She knew how he'd go about it. "Okay. So...what's the plan?"

"What?" Simon asked.

Anna took in a deep breath, shrugging her shoulders. "You go back. And then what?" She asked him.

"I finish it. Once and for all." There was that naive righteous, macho viciousness in his tone that unsettled her.

"More killing. More bloodshed." She shook her head. Exactly what she'd assumed. "You didn't consider a Goddamned thing I said the other night, did you?"

"Anna..."

"Bigger, more powerful men than you have tried, Simon." Anna interrupted him. "And still...there he is. What do you think you're going to do? Go in guns blazing, like some one-man army and take him down? Try to kill your way to the top. see how far you get?"

"It's worked so far." he said defensively.

"Has it?" She nodded doubtfully, bitterness in her voice. "Simon, he'll kill you."

"Not if I kill him first." Simon knew the risks. It didn't matter, he was resolute on seeing the life leave the man's eyes.

"Okay. So let's say, by some miracle, you make it through his people. You kill Jakob Falk. Then what?" She asked.

"What do you mean?" Simon looked perplexed

"You kill him. He's gone. And then...what? You wait for the next one? Bide your time living some...half-assed life you don't really want until the next damsel comes calling so you can repeat the cycle again? Because there will always be a war for you. Always someone to save. Always a reason for you to jump back into it all."

Simon didn't know how to answer right away. "I...No. No, when he's gone, then I'll be free."


Anna's eyes narrowed at him. He just didn't't see it. "You truly believe that?"

"You're damn right I do." he insisted.

"Because that's worked out SO well, thus far, right?" She shot back. "With Cotter, with this Vicelli, with that...hick out in the boonies. That freed you from it all, right? You were 'free' then?"

Simon didn't have a response to that. "Simon, answer me one thing...Has anything you've done in these pursuits of vengeance actually made your life any better?"

He thought a moment, a sinking, anguished feeling hitting him. "For a bit..." he whispered. "But then..."

"But then." she nodded, speaking quietly. "Do you think Cici would be proud of the man you've become?"

Anna could tell from the look on his face, it was a shot to the gut. Maybe she'd gone too far, but it was a fair point. She reached out and took his hand in her's. "Look...you can do what you have always done. Get attached, get involved, find someone to fight, and end up at yet another war. Or you can choose a different path. Well and truly free yourself of him. Of this anger and shame. You can be *more* than he brought you up to be."

Simon's eyes lowered to the table. What other choices were there? "How do I do that? This girl is an innocent. She has a chance at a good life...but if he gets his claws into her...I can't deal with that, Anna. I can't leave her to that."

"And I'm not telling you to." She said softly. "You get your friend...and you leave. Leave the city, leave Falk, leave it all behind. Just let it go."

"And he still gets to stay?" Simon asked incredulously. "Gets to hurt other people? Other kids?"

Anna sighed. She once thought like him, in the early years. But reality had to set in. "I know you want to change the world. Break the system down and create something better. But sometimes...you have to know your limits. Falk dies, another takes his place. You can't save everyone, Simon. But you can save her."

"Is that enough?" Simon asked quietly.

"It will be everything to her." Anna responded. "Trust me. I know."

He'd saved her once. Fought for her, gave her a reason to keep going. It meant more than she'd ever told him. It was why she was the woman in front of him today. Jakob Falk had tried to make her a slave. A killer. Simon Toews' kindness had made her human. He had made her whole.

"He wants this. He wants you to be...this." She looked him in the eye. "Don't let him win. Don't let him keep dictating who and what you are."
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