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It took all of his restraint not to burst out yelling at his sister when she started spitting a fiery cocktail of insults and information at him after his night in the Alhambra. But he knew it was genuine annoyance mixed with a projection of her own inner anger at herself for throwing the mission to save Greenie. So instead of yelling, instead of getting in her face as much as she was getting in his, as they normally did when they were angry, he pulled out the tissue of blood, still wet with... His blood. He put it in Evie's hand, watching the angry confusion falling over her face as she glared at it, then understanding. 

"Just... give me ten minutes," He said, voice strained from the lump in his throat and the smoke in his lungs. "Ten minutes, and then we can do what we normally do and you can tear into me as much as you like." Evie looked up at him, a soft inquiry in her eyes. She very much looked like their mother.

"Is that how you view me?" She asked, voice calmer, but hurt. "Am I just the person who berates you?" Jacob turned away at the question.

"It's all you seem to do ever since Father died, sweet sister." He left the boxcar and climbed up atop the adjacent one, sitting down on the side of it, and grasping the rails to be sure he wouldn't fall off. He could still see the smoking, blazing in the distance. He shouldn't feel guilty about what he'd done. He did it for the greater good. The master assassin rolled his eyes; now he'd begun to sound like their father. When his eyes went back to their resting position, his vision was twisted and magnified with thick tears. Maxwell had begun to feel right. Like a second home. He couldn't help the questions that Maxwell seemed to answer simply by being in his life, how he pressed on old wounds with healing fingers and positive reinforcement, something he'd never had and never realized he needed. 

Darling, what a night! The stuff of legends!

The tears fell from his eyes. His voice echoed in his ears. His kiss, lips candied with Canterbury Whisky and American cigars, left his mouth tingling. It shamed him to know he wanted more. He wanted Maxwell in a way that he shouldn't, in a way that would have made his father, in all his formality, ask him if he was taking the fucking piss. In the way that he was surprised that Evie hadn't. Henry, perhaps might, whenever he gets back from his information gathering, which could be at any given moment. And then Evie would have to confront her true feelings, just as he had. But hopeful with not so much woe and desperation. Maxwell always did equate with his level of drama, and then... and then the explosion. The children that'd almost died. The Alhambra. At least Clara won't be left unsatisfied, even if I might. 

And still, something told it it was his fault. That damned megalomaniac only worsened his unsureness (which his father had been sure to dent into his personality). Jacob should have checked the factory to begin with. He knew that Starrick used child labor. They had been targeting a factory, for fuck's sake. His head bowed, neck aching from the sudden movement, but his chin wobbled and his nose burned, coolness settling over his eyes, a rather broken sob that cracked out of his mouth muted by the whistling of the train. It was his own fault. He let personal feelings distract him from the mission. He let himself enjoy the treachery, the intoxicating feeling of doing something you shouldn't, the going behind Evie's back and partaking in things that would get him thrown out of the Creed if he'd ever been caught. He vaguely wondered if she would turn him in. No, I've got the same dirt on her. Oh, but he would never go through with it. Jacob was no assassin, he was good at fighting. He lacked the self restraint, and apparently the conviction. 

The train had begun to slow as a station made itself appear in the distance, no doubt where Henry would be ready to jump on board. Jacob took a large breath and let it go, whisping white in the cold English night. He wiped his tears on the back of his sleeve and got down, making his way inside to get himself a glass of water, Evie looking rather uncomfortable.

"This is the last job we do together," Jacob said after a moment, quietly. "And then I'm taking me an' my Rooks and settlin' here. Maybe you and Greenie can go somewhere better than here."

"Why d'you want to stay?" She asked, looking up, not at all unsurprised by the want to disassociate from each other.

"Because..." This is where he is, even if he's dead, and I don't need you judging me for feeling this way. "...No one else is gonna look after these ruffians." Evie let out a soft, unconvinced noise, but dropped the topic. He finished his water. "You should make a move on Henry," He muttered, not meeting her gaze. "There are two parts to love, or so I believe. There's a part of you that you lose, but it is meant to make room for the part that you receive. You really don't know how much time you have left until self doubt and time make the decision for you." He slammed down his glass roughly, sour emptiness groaning in his heart where love once inhabited.

"Jacob..."

"Starrick plans to infiltrate the vault at the Queen's ball tonight," Henry said as he stepped onto the train, not seeming to recognize the tension. "We need to find a way in." Evie moved to speak, looking as if to ask Henry for a moment alone, but Jacob spoke up first.

"I know just the woman to talk to." Jacob cracked one of his famous shit-eating grins and walked past them both. "Oh, and Evie?" 

"Yes, Jacob?" 

"Just rip off the bloody bandage and do it." He stepped out of the train, and went off to find his influential friend, grin fading as his back turned away. 

Why, Maxwell? 

For the same reason I do anything, my dear boy. Why not? 

 

Because it leaves us empty, and wilting, and never to be repaired.