Warning: This story contains scenes of torture as well as adult language. Reader discretion is advised.
No son of mine should ever look so ... fragile, he thought in a controlled manner as he tried to dispassionately gaze down on the young man filling the bed near to overflowing and yet somehow looking childlike in his pain. The figure in the bed was a big man in both height and build, nary a spare ounce of fat to be found upon that hulking frame. His black hair was cut short under the bandage that was wrapped around his head, blood showing that the cuts on his head had bled rather freely. They had just finished the cast on his arm, the plaster still drying and adding its scent to the stink of blood and urine and feces not yet washed from his body. The lurid incisions marring his fabulously muscular torso were still open to the air and the blood from the emergency surgery and bruises from his fights last night showed vividly on skin that was even paler than his normal Irish pallor. There were wires and hoses connected to him at the bend of his right arm, his right hand, his nose, and his chest, bringing blood and saline solution to his arteries and carrying the signs of life to the machines that beeped the announcement that he would likely live through his folly.
“I agreed to briefly let you see your boy,” a hard voice said behind him, its accent pure Hell’s Kitchen. “I have also arranged your amnesty for the next twenty-four hours under the conditions we negotiated. Now you must keep your word and leave him to the Grandmaster until he is up and ready to go back to his life.”
The man turned away from the bed, his face shockingly similar to that hidden beneath the bandages and tubes. His black hair was long, cut evenly just below the thick shoulders and styled back from his face. Piercing dark blue eyes narrowed but his head nodded. “And so I will,” his gravelly voice replied formally in a South Boston accent. “And know I appreciate the courtesy you have paid me by fixing this.”
The other man, as tall and thickly muscled as the two men in front of him, smiled as he shook his head, his flaming red hair brushing his own bulging shoulders. “Merely a return of favors, Rory O’Shea. We both know what burning your Cavanaugh identity cost you and part of that cost lies behind you. Part of that was for me and mine and so we return the favor for you and yours.”
O’Shea smiled, shrugging. “Eventually all identities must be burned,” he said philosophically, “one way or another. The cost of this one, however, did sting, cousin. And your namesake nearly lost his life for it. I thank you for validating my sacrifice by mitigating its effects. See to him, Angus. And make sure he does not leave here ignorant.”
The red-haired Angus’ brows rose. “You want me to awaken him? I thought you would want that privilege.”
Rory shook his head. “You have granted me twenty-four hours to complete my business in your city, cousin,” he reminded him harshly. He raised a placating hand when Angus opened his mouth to retort sharply. “I did not mean that as you heard it. I simply meant that my time is limited and Angus will not be awake for several more days, according to the Aesculapians. That means twenty-four hours is all the time I have to insure that my son can go home to his life when he wakens and flees this place, as he will undoubtedly do when you or your people awaken him. Those human scum will know the mistake they made when targeting my son before I leave your lands and my message will be clear enough that even a Gambino will know to leave him be.”
Rory O’Shea took one last look at his unconscious son, feeling the rage build like the bubbling of an expensive champagne, before nodding to his cousin and leaving. He did not look back as he cycled through the airlock into the temporary room and then stalked across the warehouse.
Outside, he inhaled deeply to clear the stench of his son’s near-death; his eyes alight with excitement as he felt the anger boiling in his veins. Unlike his son, who channeled and constrained his “curse,” Rory O’Shea reveled in his. He knew how to control it until he was a walking hormone factory, adrenaline blazing through his body and his mind searching for the target of his rage. Hulking forms converged on him from the shadows where he left them upon entering the warehouse.
“How is Little Angus, boss?” one of them inquired, his concern in his voice.
Rory laughed. “‘Little’ Angus isn’t quite so little anymore, Robert,” he replied, his voice hazed by the state he was in. “As a matter of fact, ‘Little’ Angus may be bigger than ‘Big’ Angus now. How he managed that living with his mother is beyond me. It always amazes me that our genetics burn through even the meekest of upbringings.
“That, however, is not our concern, gentlemen. Cousin Angus has given us our twenty-four hours. Considering what I did for him, I would have thought at least forty-eight would have been fairer,” Rory informed them, a business-like tone burning through his blissed voice. He began walking towards their waiting SUVs. “I understand his terms, though, and the reason for them. So we have tonight and tomorrow to do what we came to do. Have the boys run down our prey for the evening?”
“Jamie says Angus’ Grandmaster arranged for the bodies to be placed in a warehouse in Brooklyn owned by the Gambinos. He suggests that we use the same warehouse,” Robert replied swiftly. “Forge has the Gambino captain in his club. Harry has the Genovese captain in his office. Nathan, Annie, Eddie, Siobhan, Mark, Bridgette, and Domino say their people have the others in their houses at the moment.”
Rory grunted, pleased, as they reached the vehicles. Rory got in the first Escalade with Robert and his two men, the others getting in the three behind them. “And has Janie found us a workshop?”
Danny, Robert’s cousin, chuckled from the back seat. “She found us a meatpacking plant that the FDA closed down for health violations. She says it only cost her a thousand dollars and a guarantee to the inspector that nothing will be found in the plant when we are done.”
“Whose plant was it?”
“The Chinese own it through the Jamaicans.”
Rory nodded with a smile. “Tell Janie she did good and to have it ready for us. Have everyone grab their package and head for the plant. We are moving now.”
Robert started the Escalade and they drove away from the warehouse. Rory gazed at the lights of the Big Apple somewhat bemusedly, sinking into the blissful feeling his body was producing now that the adrenaline was fading. He would have just enough time to let it fade before he needed to focus. It had been two decades since he last caught a glimpse of Angus following his brother home from school. That was the day he was sure Angus was his son. He knew Keith wasn’t his as soon as the boy was born. Mary was a cute, petite woman with whom he had fun on occasion but he also knew she had been with someone before him and that the punk had knocked her up. The math wasn’t right for Keith to be his son.
Angus, though, he was sure as soon as Mary called him in Boston to tell him she was pregnant. He didn’t mean to get her pregnant. Things were a little hectic in Boston and he knew Mary would never leave New Jersey. Especially not for Boston. When he knew he would have to run out on her shortly after Angus’ birth, he made sure his friends in New York looked out for Mary. Nobody would ever mess with her as long as he was out there free. And the FBI would trumpet his arrest, or death, loud enough for the Chinese in Shanghai to hear it. It was the best he could do for Mary and his boy.
From time to time, he would drift through New Jersey on his way back to Boston for business, long enough to check on his son and Mary. That was how he got to see his son’s first fight. It was a moment every Bloody Hand had, that day when he is stressed to the point of flooding his young body with enough adrenaline to trigger his condition. Rory saw Keith’s tormentors start on him, the other children surrounding them in the manner of every schoolyard tussle, the chants of “Fight! Fight! Fight!” and Angus pushing his way through to his brother. The first few punches were wild and raw, but they quickly got more precise and naturally powerful. Angus was still on the scrawny side, for a Bloody Hand. His nature had not announced to the normal humans that here was someone different. By the time he walked across the stage to get his diploma, however, Rory saw the family resemblance quite plainly, despite the lingering sadness over his brother’s recent death. He couldn’t be there for it, but his people made sure he got a tape of the graduation.
He barely watched it, fast forwarding through to the few seconds Angus was on screen and then throwing it away. Why they bothered still puzzled him. I guess they wanted to make sure I knew he was doing well and had graduated, Rory mused as he pondered his son. Angus’ future was going to be interesting. One thing is for sure, he will not be joining me in the business! After what he did tonight, he would probably try to turn me into the FBI as his civic duty. I doubt the other Bloody Hands would have any better chance to recruit him, since he rejected every offer made to him by my human counterparts in New York.
His cell phone rang. “O’Shea,” he said curtly.
.... There is more of this story ...