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The Fall

Chapter Text

Andrew leaned back, blowing smoke into the unnaturally still air as his feet dangled precariously over the side of the skyscraper he was currently situated on. The night was well into its darkest hours and Andrew had been holding this post for the past four as he waited for his target to arrive.

Casting a glance over the golden glow of the city, he watched as the people below him hurried along, not at all aware of their silent observer from above. Taking another drag of his cigarette, his eyes scanned the crowd, looking for a specific set of shoulders belonging to a specific man. His gaze caught on a black clad figure making its way quickly down East Boulevard before turning off into an alleyway. Crushing his half finished cigarette on the ground next to him, Andrew gracefully drew himself up to stand on the ledge of the roof.

His heart rate spiked as vertigo hit him, and the ever-present fear of falling rose up, attempting to take hold of his mind before he ruthlessly and efficiently crushed it down till it was only a sinking feeling in the bottom of his stomach. He didn’t have time for such distractions tonight. Tonight, he needed the sharp bite of nothing, of no thoughts or feelings to distract him from his job. He did not welcome the feeling of fear like he normally would, and once he had it under control, he proceeded with his plan.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped off the roof.

The fall was fast. Tens of stories rushed past him as the wind continuously roared in his ears. Silently, he counted as he went, keeping track of the stories in order to time this perfectly.

Reaching fifty, he reached out with his mind, concentrating on the pull gravity exerted on him and warping it.

Everything stopped.

Andrew stood there, a hundred feet above the pavement. Quickly, he pulled his mask over the bottom half of his face,his hood over his hair, and began casually walking to the opening of the alley. The lack of anything under his feet made his heart thump and shutter, but his expression was composed. Soon enough he stood over the alleyway, watching as his target exchanged heated words with another man, the smaller form of a child crouched behind a dumpster.

His target made a wild gesture, seemingly displeased with whatever was being said. The person he was arguing with said something lowly, taking a step forward in aggression, the palm of their hand lighting up with flame as they threatened.

Andrew dropped the rest of the way to the ground, landing lightly on the balls of his feet next to the dumpster the kid was hiding behind.

He glanced over, noticing the girl couldn’t have been more than ten, and gritted his teeth in an attempt to keep his face neutral. The kid stared up at him, wide eyes scared and face pale in the darkness of the alley. “You should run,” he stated quietly, turning back to the two adults who were too absorbed in their argument to notice him. Whether she listened to him or not wasn’t his business, but after a moment of hesitation the scuffle of feet echoed down the alleyway, and Andrew released a breath he didn’t know he had been holding at the thought that that was one more civilian he wouldn’t have to watch out for.

This would most likely get messy.

Unfortunately, the sound of the girl leaving was what brought the attention of his target --now targets-- to the fact that they weren’t alone anymore.

“What the fuck?” Flame guy spun around, the fire in his palm rushing until it had coated his entire arm. The acidic smell of burning polyester quickly filled the tight space.

Andrew's original target, a man named Tyson Feild, took one look at him before he tried to book it out of the alley.

Stopping himself from rolling his eyes, Andrew raised his hand and quickly sent Mr. Feild flying back from where he had made it to the opening to the street. Flame guy shrieked as Mr. Feild’s prone body crashed into him with the weight of a car, sending both men tumbling and skidding across the rough gravel and broken glass that decorated the ground here and there. They came to a stop with a crash, slamming into a pile of trash cans.

In a split second both men were standing, shrugging off their wounds with dual looks of murder in their eyes. They shared a look with each other, seemingly casting aside their differences as they came to the mutual conclusion that Andrew was the bigger problem at the moment.

Andrew always loved helping others come together.

A spear of fire shot past his shoulder, lightly singing the edge of his hood, and if not for his quick reflexes it most likely would have hit his face. Dodging, he hit the ground, rolling to the side and coming to a stop in a crouch. Quickly, he unsheathed one of his knives before lunging for the form of Mr. Feild. He shifted the gravity around himself, allowing it so in only three bounds he was on top of the man, plunging his knife deep into his shoulder. He had been aiming for his neck, but the man had moved just in time to avoid the worse of two injuries.

With a growl, Mr. Feild flung him away as if he weighed nothing more than a toothpick. Andrew noticed the fact that Mr. Feild seemingly had some form of enhanced strength as he slowed his descent through the air and came to rest on his feet.

A man with enhanced strength and one with pyrokinesis, Andrew thought as he dodged yet another flaming spear sent his way. This will be boring.

Flame guy seemed to be thinking something similar as he boldly dove at Andrew with a flaming fist and a yell. Andrew stepped back quickly, not wanting to deal with this today.

While the first flaming fist missed him by inches, he wasn’t fast enough to avoid the second. Andrew briefly felt the excruciating pain of the flesh on his shoulder being burned off before he was moving. Manipulating the gravity around the man in front of him, Andrew swiftly kicked the guy in the stomach and sent him flying across the alley. Just before he hit the wall, Andrew reached out and made the weight of gravity triple what it normally was. The man hit the wall with a crunch, crumpling to the floor where he didn't get up.

Mr. Feild screamed something unintelligible as he charged at Andrew, a battered wooden board clutched in his hand.  Andrew ducked under his guard, ramming his blade between two of the man's ribs. He pushed Andrew away and Andrew hit the wall hard before he could cushion his landing. He was on his feet in seconds, ready to defend against the man’s next attack, but was instead greeted with Mr. Feild on his knees, a steady stream of blood dripping from his mouth as he clutched at the knife protruding from his side.

Andrew slowly walked towards the man taking in the flash of fear that crossed his face as Andrew came to stand before him. “Where are they?” he asked, his voice flat as he looked down at the prone figure in front of him.

The man gurgled, a fresh rush of blood spilling from his mouth, and Andrew felt a faint wave of disgust before it faded back into the blankness of nothing.

“Where are they?” he repeated.

“M-Monster,” Mr. Feild wheezed, his eyes sliding shut and his body slumping against the concrete.

Andrew took a moment to stare at him before he kneeled and extracted his knife from the man’s ribs.

Takes one to know one, Andrew thought as he used the body’s shirt to clean off his blade. Standing, he walked over to the crumbling wall and the second man lying prone at the base of it. With his foot, Andrew nudged him in the side. His head was positioned at an unnatural angle, blood pooling in his close cropped hair, and Andrew didn’t need to check twice to know the man was dead.

Well, there went his lead.

A clatter at the back of the alley had him whipping around the knife in his hand, prepared and ready to strike. He was met with the wide eyes of the kid from before peaking out from around the corner of the alleyway.

“You’re still here,” he stated dryly.

“Are they dead?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Andrew answered, sheathing his knife and taking a careful step towards the child. She took a hasty step back and Andrew stopped completely. The kid was all rags and bruises, weary eyes in a wiry face watching Andrew with the type of gaze that knew too much of how the world actually was, at much too young of an age. Andrew recognized it easily, as it was one he’d seen in the mirror too many times to count.

She turned her gaze to the bodies after a minute of Andrew keeping perfectly still under her assessing glare. “Good.”

“Do you know where they are keeping the others?” Andrew asked slowly, crouching as the girl carefully moved away from the wall she was hidden behind to get a better look at the bodies. She looked back to Andrew at his words, a frown scrunching her face.

She shook her head, “It was dark, they kept me in the trunk.” A tear slipped from her eye which she quickly wiped away. “I was in there for so long.”

Sirens began echoing in the distance, letting Andrew know it wouldn’t be long before this place was swarming with cops. “What’s your name?” he asked, his voice emotionless as he fought down the urge to murder those men again just so he could make sure they suffered this time.

“Lily,” the girl mumbled, looking around as the sound of sirens grew louder.

“Lily, the police will be here in a few minutes.” She looked to him, scared. “You need to ask for a detective, Nicky Hemmick.”

“Why?” she asked, looking like she would rather run.

“Because he can help you,” Andrew said standing. “He might look like an idiot but he’s the only one you should talk to.”

“Where are you going?”

“Nicky will make sure you’re safe,” he said, ignoring her question. He turned his head, watching as the first headlights of a patrol car appeared against the red brick of the building. With one last look to the girl, Andrew rose in the air, quickly making his retreat from the crime scene.

He needed time to think.

++++++

Aaron stood in his living room watching the news play out on the television, a frown plastered on his face as the reporter droned on about the local baseball team’s scores and other irrelevant nonsense. The light from the screen was the only thing illuminating the room, yet Aaron didn’t move from where he stood to turn on any others.  

“And in breaking news, two bodies have been found just off of East Boulevard in what seems to be a continuation of a string of murders that have rocked the San Diego metropolitan area. Here’s Davis on the scene with more information,” the Newscaster said, her voice irritatingly pleasant as the camera switched to a middle aged man whose eyebrows seemed to be an entity of their own.     

There was a lag between when the camera switched over and when the reporter realized he should be talking, but finally he began speaking, his wary voice gravelly and rough. Aaron found it immensely irritating.

“Hello yes, I am on the scene of what seems to be the murder of two men, ages unknown.” The camera panned to reveal yellow police tape sectioning off an area around the mouth of an alley and a growing crowd of curious civilians.  “Preliminary reports show that these two men were of this citiy’s powered population, and police have determined the attacker to be powered as well.” The camera panned back to the man’s face, who looked like he couldn’t care less about anything he was saying. It zoomed in a bit to really highlight the News reporter's five o'clock shadow, and the tiny crumbs he had dotted around his mouth.

The screen split into two to show the news anchor smiling pleasantly and the reporter looking like something found in a gutter. “Do the police think this case has anything to do with the other murders by the same criteria?”

The reporter nodded along to himself for a few moments before answering, “Yes,” the camera panned back to the crime scene where two policemen were sitting around chatting as they idly drank coffee.  “There is suspicion that these last two murders are linked to the continued activity of the powered mercenary known only as 'The Monster', but police have not confirmed anything for sure, stating need for a more thorough evaluation of the evidence.” Aaron stiffened as the camera panned around once again, catching sight of his cousin as he navigated the crowds and ducked under the police tape into the crime scene.

“Thank you, Davis.” The screen abruptly cut to the news anchor’s still smiling face as she said, “More on that story at a later date. Next ‘Gluten’, should you be worri-” Aaron cut off the tv before she could finish that thought.

He stood there in the dark staring at the blank screen in front of him. The scene of the crime still playing over in his head and his frown deepened at the news. The fact that Nicky was involved in the case did nothing to reassure him. Instead, it just complicated things all the more.

A light creak was all the warning he got before the doorbell rang, startling him. All it took was a bit of concentration and a single step and Aaron was across the house, facing the front door. Quietly, he opened it, not needing to look through the peephole to know who it was. Andrew stood there on the front porch, soaked in blood and looking slightly ruffled as he stared at Aaron.

“You have a fucking key, you know,” Aaron huffed.

“Move,” Andrew said, and Aaron took a step back, letting his brother into the hallway. He closed and locked the door, setting the security system before following Andrew further into the house. While Andrew made his way upstairs, Aaron went to the kitchen, starting a pot of coffee before pulling his med kit out of a cabinet and setting it on the island.  

Some twenty minutes later Andrew reappeared in fresh-- yet equally dark-- clothes and sans the blood, which Aaron was momentarily grateful for. Silently, he walked over to the counter. pulling out a bottle of rum from one of the cabinets before walking back over to the island and sitting down. Aaron walked over to him, carrying two cups of coffee. Lightly slamming down Andrew’s cup in front of him, he took in his brother's appearance, noting the small scrapes and cuts before his eyes landed on the blistering burn that decorated his upper forearm.

“What happened?” Aaron asked.

Andrew said nothing as he poured a good bit of rum into his already too sweet coffee.

“Did you actually learn anything this time?” Aaron reached into his bag, pulling out antiseptic and gauze.

Andrew kept quiet as he stared at his brother and took a sip of the abomination that was now his coffee.

Aaron scoffed, not knowing why he expected anything else. He held up the medical supplies, his voice perturbed as he asked his next question, “Want me to bandage that or what?” He gestured to the raw red wound on Andrew’s shoulder.

Andrew glanced down at it for a few moments before looking back up at Aaron and inclining his head. “Yes,” he answered tonelessly as he reached up to roll the sleeve of his t-shirt up higher on his arm.

Aaron moved quickly and carefully, keeping his hands in Andrew’s line of vision as he skillfully cleaned and dressed the burn. He made sure to keep the amount he touched Andrew to a minimum, only doing as much as necessary for the wound to heal properly and not become infected.

Finishing, he stepped back out of Andrew's space, walking over to the sink to clean off his hands. “Don’t get that wet,” Aaron instructed tersely. “Tomorrow before you leave I’ll re-bandage it, but it won’t be healed for a few weeks unless you go find Abby.”

With barely a glance to Aaron in acknowledgement, Andrew stood and made his way to the stairs. At the bottom, he stopped, turning back to his brother, his face cast in shadow and his posture stiff. “There was a girl.”

Aaron stilled.

“Nicky will probably call you bitching about it later tonight.”

“Andr-” Aaron started, but cut himself off when he was met with his brother’s back as he retreated up the stairs.

Aaron rolled his eyes behind his brother’s form, and began cleaning up the mess of medical supplies scattered about the island counter. The fact that there was a witness gave him pause; he didn’t know whether Andrew’s implication that the witness was connected to the men he was hunting was good or bad, but if it was going to cause undue trouble, Andrew would have told him.

Predictably, Nicky called him right as Aaron settled down to bed.

Groaning, he rolled over to silence his shrill ringtone and answer the call. “What is it, Nicky?”

“Hey, sorry, were you asleep?” Nicky asked, his voice coming down the line much too cheerful for how early in the morning it was.

“What do you think?” Aaron countered, bitterly wishing he was.

“Right…” Nicky was quiet for a moment. “How is he?”

“Fine.” Aaron sat up, resigning himself to having to talk with his cousin. “Better than the other two, from what I’ve heard.”

“Yeah.” The grimace Nicky wore was audible in his tone. “He really did a number on those two.”

“They deserved worse.”

“I know.” Nicky sighed. “Listen, they weren't the only ones found at the scene.’

“Andrew said there was a girl,”Aaron stated.

“Yeah, the district wants to use her as a key witness in this investigation, but since she’s a minor the process to do so legally will be a long one.” Nicky said, a rustle and a murmur of unintelligible words coming through the line. “The fact that she’s most likely not mentally stable is another factor.”

“Where is she now?” Aaron yawned.

“Sleeping on my couch,” Nicky answered quietly. “She insisted that she’d only talk to me, and wouldn’t cooperate with anyone else.”

“Andrew’s doing.”

Nicky sighed again, “Yeah… social services is coming in the morning. Though she’ll likely be placed under protective custody given the circumstances.”

Aaron waited for his cousin to continue.

“She… they think she’s powered, Aaron.” Nicky’s voice was hesitant, unsure. “If she is…”

“What will you do?”

“Erik and I have been talking,” Nicky explained. “Either way, we’ll make sure she’s safe.”

Aaron nodded absently, then realized Nicky couldn’t see him. “Okay.”

He wondered what Andrew’s reaction would be if the kid ended up another ghost in the system. Nicky most likely wouldn’t let that happen, but it was still a possibility.

“How’s the investigation going?” he asked casually.

“Aaron… you know it’s classified,” Nicky said, then continued. “But we haven’t identified this mysterious ‘Monster’ yet, if that's what you're wondering.”

Aaron knew if Nicky had his way, Andrew would never be identified. Him leading the investigation was the only saving grace of the whole thing. Sometimes Aaron wondered how fast all of this would have gone to shit if not for Nicky. Well, gone to more shit than it already was. At least no one had been arrested yet.

“Good,” he answered, shuffling into a more comfortable position.

“I have to go now,” Nicky said distractedly as another set of murmurs took place on the other side of the phone. “But Aaron?” Nicky asked, then continued at Aaron’s resulting grunt. “Keep safe.”

“You too, Nicky,” Aaron said before hanging up.

The time read just past three in the morning, and with a tired growl Aaron flopped back against his bed, slipping his phone onto his nightstand a he lay staring at the ceiling.

Sooner or later, all of this would come crashing down around him.

But those were thoughts for later days. He had an eight am to get to in the morning, and wanted to catch what little sleep he could before then.

++++++   

Andrew woke in a cold sweat, the after images of his nightmare playing behind his eyelids in continuous loops. Sitting up, he shakily reached for the cigarette package sitting on his bedside table and, grabbing it with a crushing grip, stood. Walking across his room, he flung open his window, letting the cool breeze ground him as he willed his body to stop shaking. Pulling out his lighter and a cigarette, Andrew quickly light it and took a drag.

He held the smoke in his lungs for a few moments, relishing in the burn before blowing it out into the predawn light of the sky. How long he sat there watching the sun begin to peak above the horizon he didn’t know, instead willing his mind not to stick on the memories he unfortunately could never forget even if he tried. As the sounds of suburbia waking up slowly began echoing through his window, Andrew finished off his pack, flicking the last butt out the window where it landed in a pile with its siblings on the ground. Leaning back, Andrew shut the window harshly and made his way over to the ensuite bathroom.

After a frankly scalding shower, he changed into his clothes for the day and stepped out into the hallway. The house was quiet, Aaron most likely still sleeping, and Kevin most likely still passed out at Abby’s where Andrew left him last night after one too many bottles of vodka. Walking quietly down the stairs, he made his way to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. Aaron would be up soon enough, and then he’d have to go deal with Kevin’s hungover ass.

A beep signaled the coffee was done. Grabbing a mug, he filled it halfway with the black bitter garbage that was unsweetened coffee and then filled the mug the rest of the way with some peppermint creamer he found in the fridge. Too lazy to walk from his spot situated on the counter, he gestured towards the creamer, making it lighter than it ever naturally should be. Reaching out, he lightly flicked it in the direction of the fridge. The bottle bobbed idly in the air, moving slowly in its direction, where it hit the side of the door and began spinning wildly in the opposite direction.

A small frown crossed Andrew’s lips as he watched the bottle aimlessly tumble through the air. Leaving it like that, he went back to nursing his coffee and waiting for Aaron to wake up.

He was halfway through his third cup of coffee when he heard the stairs creak and his twin walked down into the living room. With a heavy looking backpack slung over one shoulder, Aaron stumbled into the kitchen, making a beeline for the coffee pot and pouring himself a cup. Andrew watched as his brother then proceeded to do nothing with it before taking a big gulp of the warm liquid. Andrew repressed the urge to sneer.

The creamer bottle came wobbling through the air and thunked Aaron lightly on the head.

“What the fuck,” he said, reaching up and plucking the bottle out of the air before it could aimlessly float away again.

Andrew released the mild hold he had been exerting on the object and let the full force of gravity influence it once more. Aaron fumbled it as the full weight of the container and its contents came back to it at once.

“Maybe it’s the universe telling you to get some taste,” Andrew suggested indifferently.

Aaron glared at him before walking over to the fridge and shoving the creamer back on its shelf. He closed the door with slightly more force than necessary and turned back to his coffee,downing the rest in one go. Crouching, he reached into the cabinet and pulled out his medical bag from where he stashed it the night before. Dropping it onto the island, Aaron climbed onto one of the stools and turned to stare at Andrew, both eyebrows raised. Andrew took his time in finishing his drink, casually glancing out the window and ignoring Aaron’s frustrated exhalation of breath. The road their house was situated on was a busy one, and for a few moments Andrew watched as cars passed by before finishing his drink and making his way over to Aaron.

He sat in the stool next to his brother, rolled up the sleeve of his shirt, and waited. Aaron was quick and quiet in examining and redressing the wound, making an effort to touch Andrew as little as possible. He knew Aaron did this more for his own benefit than Andrew’s, but all the same the gesture didn’t go unnoticed. After all that had happened, they had somehow ended up sticking together, more out of a necessity for survival than anything else. Andrew held no illusions that Aaron wouldn’t leave at some point, the question was just when .   

Aaron finished with a nod of his head and a pleased glint to his eye as he took one last look at the bandages before standing. “That should be fine for now, but you’ll have to apply antibacterial ointment so it doesn’t get infected. Though,” he continued,shoving the supplies back into the bag before closing it and putting it back into its cabinet, “You can always have Abby heal it when you go get Kevin.”

Andrew made a grunt of acknowledgement. Grabbing his keys, he walked towards the door.

“Come on,” he said as he sidestepped Aaron.

Aaron quickly grabbed his backpack and followed after Andrew.

Andrew barely waited for Aaron to close the car door behind him before he was accelerating out of the driveway and down the street. One of their neighbors screamed something at them as they passed, and Andrew responded by flipping him the bird.

“Do you have to antagonize them?” Aaron asked, typing something into his phone. Reaching over, Andrew turned up the volume of the radio in answer to his question.

The rest of the ride to the University of California, San Diego campus, was quiet between them. Pulling up to the curb outside of the library, Andrew stopped the car and watched as Aaron quickly got out, not saying a word as he slammed the car door behind him. Andrew quickly peeled off down the street, making his way to Abby's, where his other problem was probably still passed out from a night of heavy drinking.

It was too early to deal with this shit.

Abby’s house was located in a quiet neighborhood a few miles from the university where old trees lined the road and the neighbors were too busy cooking apple pies to do much else. It was a large ranch-style, most likely built in the seventies, and tucked away on a side street next to a small park. Its quaint atmosphere fit in perfectly with its surroundings, and nobody passing through would have looked at it twice. Andrew always wondered if that was a purposeful doing on Abby’s part.

Andrew pulled into the red brick driveway, parking his sleek black sports car beside the green Chevy Suburban already there. He made his way up the walkway slowly, kicking a soccer ball out of the way as he reached the door. Knocking twice, he leaned back and waited. The soft sounds of voices seeped through its wood, and after a moment the light patter of feet reached Andrew’s ears and it was only seconds before the door was flung open in his face. Andrew blinked as his vision was met with nothing but empty space.

“Andy!” a squeaky voice shouted.    

Andrew slowly looked down to find big brown eyes staring back up at him. “Cody,” he returned.

“Cody!” A gruff voice called. “What did I tell you about oppeni- Oh it’s just you,” David Wymack deadpanned as he came into view of the door.

“Good to see you too,” Andrew said, stepping around Cody’s small form. The door shut behind him and Cody ran over to his dad before turning back to look at Andrew with a grin. Andrew quirked an eyebrow at the six year old and Cody’s smile just grew wider for some reason.

“Where’s Kevin?” he asked, looking back up at Wymack.

“Still sleeping!” Cody piped up at Wymack’s side.

Wymack rolled his eyes before pushing lightly at his son’s head. “Go help your mom fix breakfast.”

“Okay!” Cody said, then rushed off to the kitchen.

“He’s still asleep?”

“Yeah, he’s been out since you left last night.” Wymack shrugged, folding his arms over his chest. “How did that go, by the way?”

Andrew’s gaze fell on the picture frames decorating the living room wall. “We’ll see.”

Wymack gave him a look which Andrew returned with a steady gaze. “Andrew, if this is-”

Andrew pushed past him and headed down the hall.

“Damn it, Andrew!” David called after him.

“I’m getting Kevin out of his coma.”

Wymack huffed.

Andrew opened the second door on the left, slipping in quietly before shutting it behind him. Kevin was a blanket-covered lump on the bed, his breathing heavy as he drifted through dreamland.

“Kevin, wake up.”

Kevin mumbled something incoherent. Andrew walked over to his side.

“Wake up,” Andrew repeated, punching Kevin in the arm.

“Fuck off,” Kevin muttered, rolling over and leaving his back to Andrew.

Reaching out, Andrew grabbed the back of Kevin’s shirt and pulled him out of bed. Kevin landed on the ground with a thump, groaning as he blinked up at Andrew.

“Wakey wakey,” Andrew said, staring back at him, and fighting down amusement at Kevin's disgruntled face.   

“Ugh.” Kevin ran a hand through his hair, scrunching his eyes shut. “What the….”

His voice trailed off as his head nodded forward, and it was with exasperation that Andrew reached out his foot and kicked him in the thigh. With a start, Kevin was awake again, his green eyes glaring up into Andrew's indifferent ones. He looked ridiculous with his dark hair sleep-ruffled and still in his wrinkled clothes from the night before, a disdainful look on his face as he groggily scowled up at Andrew.

“Rise and shine, Day,” Andrew sang before stepping over Kevin and yanking back the curtains.

Kevin grumbled from the ground before grabbing at the top of the bed and slowly pulling himself into a standing position. His height was impaired a bit by the way his shoulders slumped, but Andrew still hated the fact he had to crane his neck to look up at him.

“What time is it?” Kevin asked rubbing a hand over the two tattooed onto his cheek.

“Eight-thirty,” Andrew answered, not sparing a glance at the clock.

Kevin grunted before stumbling over to the door and out into the hallway. Andrew followed him out, catching the back of his shirt as he tried to make a beeline for the front door. Kevin was pulled to a stop. Looking back, he frowned at Andrew.

“You’re not going near my car while smelling like you just crawled out of some gutter,” Andrew said, pushing Kevin towards the bathroom.

“But-” Kevin cut himself off by yawning, then continued, “but can’t I just-”

“No.” Andrew gave him another shove. “Shut up and shower.”

Kevin relented, letting Andrew push him into the bathroom and shutting the door behind him. Andrew waited until he heard the tap being turned on, then wandered into the kitchen. It was light and airy; the big glass doors that led out to the back yard were open, letting a breeze into the room. Abby and Wymack stood at the counter talking gently as Cody sat at the table coloring on a piece of paper. Abby looked up as he entered, giving him a little smile and gesturing for him to come forward.

“How’s Kevin?” she questioned, bringing a plate of waffles over to the table. Cody made an excited noise as they were placed in front of him and Wymack rolled his eyes, bringing over the syrup. Andrew could throw up-- it was so domestic.

“He’s showering,” he answered, stealing a waffle from Cody, who stuck his tongue out at him before gobbling down his food. Wymack gave him a look which Andrew responded to by taking a bite out of the waffle.  

“And you?” Abby asked, eyeing the bandage sticking out from under his sleeve.

Andrew looked down at it, noticing how his black shirt and armbands made the white stand out. “Slightly crisp.”

“Want me to look at it?” Abby offered.

Andrew stared at her, taking a moment to consider his options, then shrugged. Aaron could do a lot, but healing outright wasn’t one of his gifts.

Abby motioned for him to sit at the table, and he did so watching as she settled in the chair beside him and said, “may I?”

Andrew nodded and stiffened as she unwrapped the bandages, the sting of his wound being pulled at grounding him slightly.

“Ow,” Cody commented from across the table. Abby frowned but said nothing as she raised a hand, carefully placing over the red blistered flesh. A cool sensation engulfed Andrew’s arm, numbing the area as Abby began healing the burn.

Andrew looked away, focusing on Wymack and his son talking to each other across the table. Cody was gesturing wildly, explaining what was going on in his drawing. Wymack nodded along, asking questions at random intervals and trying not to look befuddled.

Abby finished after a few minutes. Leaning back, she said, “Well, it’s not perfect, but it’s better.”

Andrew looked down to find the blistered mess that was his shoulder was now just an excessively pink spot.  

“It should be fully healed in a few days or so,” Abby continued, standing and going over to the sink to wash her hands. Andrew nodded.

“Are you two staying for breakfast?” Wymack asked, eyeing the waffle Andrew had carelessly put on the table.

“No,” Kevin answered from where he stood in the doorway, an odd look on his face as he regarded Cody, that was there and gone in a blink. Andrew wondered how long he’d been standing there.

“Yes,” Andrew corrected casually taking a bit out of his waffle. Just to piss him off.

Kevin frowned at him, holding his gaze. He looked half asleep still, the morning light reflecting hazily in his green eyes, their brightness a stark contrast to the bags found below them. Andrew moved his gaze to look over Kevin's shoulder at the beige of the walls.

“We have things to do today, Andrew,” Kevin insisted, trying to catch Andrew's eyes again.      

“Do we?” Andrew crunched into his waffle.

“Important things,” Kevin nagged.

“Waffles are important things.” Andrew took another bite. Kevin’s frown deepened.

Kevin opened his mouth to say something but was cut off by Cody saying, “Com’on Kev! Waffles are more important than being grumpy!” Then patted the seat of the chair next to him.

“Yeah, com’on Kev,” Andrew repeated flatly.

Wymack snorted.

“You are welcome to stay,” Abby stated, setting another bundle of waffles on the table and sitting down. “There’s no rush.”

Kevin looked like he had been backed into a corner, and glancing around the room seemed to realize he had no allies in this. With an indignant huff, he sat down in between Andrew and Cody and grabbed a plate, piling it high with food.

“Waffles aren’t even healthy,” Kevin complained, staring at his plate. Andrew finished off his waffle, then stole his next one from the top of Kevin’s pile. Kevin shot him a glare even though he’d been complaining about said waffles a moment before, then dug in. The rest of the meal was mostly quiet save for Cody’s odd comments. They ate quickly, and by nine thirty were heading out.

Wymack stopped them at the front door before they could escape, a dark look on his face as he regarded the two. “Look, Andrew, what you’re doing-”

“Now, now, David, that’s not within your jurisdiction.” Kevin looked uncomfortable as Andrew easily interrupted the man.

“It will be if you don’t start trying to be more discreet.” Wymack stated, folding his arms and staring down at Andrew.

“Forgetting you’re retired, agent?” Andrew asked, leaning forward.

Wymack rolled his eyes. “You know what I mean, Andrew.”

“Do I?”

“Andrew, you know they’ll come after you if you keep this up, you can’t just-” Wymack stopped, then lowered his voice before continuing. “You can’t just keep going around leaving trails. You and Aaron are in a tight enough situation as it is, and if they find out Kevin is with you….”  he trailed off, glancing to the man in question. Kevin stared at him, gripping his arm through his jacket.

“Just… you know I’ll help you out, kid,” Wymack finished, shaking his head.

“We won’t need it.” Andrew reached back, pulling Kevin's hand off his arm. “Come on, Kevin.” He turned, opened the door, and tugged Kevin through it.

Kevin followed him all the way to the car, not making his usual fuss about driving. Opening the passenger door, Andrew pushed him into the seat before getting in his own seat. The drive back to their house was quiet, Kevin staring out the window and Andrew lost in his own thoughts.

Andrew didn’t want to admit it but Wymack might be right, and the feds tracking him down was not something he looked forward to; dealing with the ex-agent was enough already. He wouldn’t stop, though. The people he was tracking deserved what was coming to them and Andrew wouldn’t stop until their whole operation was crushed by his hand. That the general public was only seeing what he was doing in terms of the body count wasn’t his problem. That Kevin was too much of a coward to come out of hiding wasn’t his problem. That sooner or later he knew steps would be taken to stop him wasn’t his problem. Let them try, he thought, knuckles white as he clenched the steering wheel. They won't succeed. Nicky was working on exposing what was happening to the public, and once he exposed the core of it, Andrew would wipe the organization out, and they would never be able to lay a hand on another person ever again.

There wasn’t any other path. He had to keep Aaron and Kevin safe, and he had to-

“Andrew, watch out!” Andrew slammed on the brakes at Kevin’s shout, his car screeching to a halt before it could crash into the idiot who had ran out in front of them. Andrew had a second to catch a glimpse of dark hair and brown eyes that stared directly into his own before the man kept running. He was gone in a matter of moments, disappearing down a side street.

Andrew and Kevin sat there in silence, staring out the windshield until a car behind them honked. Andrew accelerated again, keeping a firm grip on the steering wheel and his eyes trained on the road.

“What the fuck was that?” Kevin asked, his voice shaky and miffed.

“A rabbit, it seems like.”