Rain pitter-pattered against the thin glass window sending hollow echoes through the desolate bedroom.
Claire lay on her side, her face buried in the soft pillows. Her eyes, unseeing, were rimmed red; her cheeks smeared with her shed tears. Her body, unnaturally still.
“I’ve changed my mind, pet.”
The bed dipped as he spoke, his tone low and dangerous, causing Claire’s hands to tighten around the sheets.
“I want to watch. I want to see you *with* him,” he whispered, the sinister request making Claire’s stomach churn.
She didn’t answer.
His hand reached under the bedlinens and gripped her hip, his sharp nails pressing into her fragile flesh.
Claire’s toes curled, the muscles in her calves clenching as she tried to breathe normally.
“Make it happen, Claire.”
She wanted to scream *no*, hadn’t they already done enough? But she held her tongue, knowing all too well what would happen should she disobey.
An eerie click signalled that he’d gone.
Her back tingled as she twitched, the open, *fresh* slashes pulling at her marred skin. Closing her eyes for a moment, she opened them only to trace the stray raindrops as fresh spatters hit the glass and fell, slowly, towards the bottom of the pane.
There was nothing for it, she reasoned, she had to do as she’d been ordered. No matter how much it made her heart ache. She had no other option, and no way out.
Quietly, as softly as she was able, she slid from the bed, padding across the silent room to reach for her pad and pen. Calmly, she wrote out a note, one that she was sure would have him running to her aid.
Claire wiped her eyes as she laid down the fountain pen, eager to stop her tears from ruining the elaborate typography she’d managed to delicately pen.
“Good girl,” he cooed, standing in the doorway as his bodyguard collected the small sheet of paper from between her fingertips. “Nice touch, Claire. You’ve quite the gift,” he continued, a slick evil coating his tone, “now, I suggest you ready yourself. I’ll be watching you. Remember that.”
The walls shook as the door slammed shut, causing Claire to jump at the sound.
“I’m sorry…” she whispered, her breathing catching in her throat. “I r-really am sorry.”
Black Jack, it could only be him, Jamie thought, the unpleasant sensation of that man crawling up his spine as he raced towards Claire’s apartment. The lights were on his side, all green as he ploughed through the city, paying no heed to the speed limits.
Those words floated to the front of his subconscious as he pushed forward, the streets a blur.
Jamie had encountered the man, a prominent gangster on the way to the top of the ranks, in the early days of his career. An evil son-of-a-bitch, even in his youth, he’d been the lead suspect on Jamie’s first case.
A fresh faced officer, Jamie had been ill advised and unaware of *Black Jack’s* not so stellar reputation. Even if he had, he scoffed to himself, he wouldn’t have changed his actions, even knowing what he knew now.
Staking out an old storage warehouse on the edge of the city, he’d been lured into a darkened office.
The door had been locked behind him.
Two men had slunk out of the shadows, grabbed him by the arms and had him pinned before he knew what was happening.
Jamie shrugged his shoulders, the welts on his back throbbing at the mere memory of the attack.
He’d been tied and beaten for hours. The pain was unending; each lash tore through him rendering him helpless, drowning in a pool of his own blood. He’d lain still throughout the entire ordeal, unwilling to give any of them the pleasure of hearing him scream. Little did he know, that had saved his life and condemned him all at the same time.
Turning another corner, Jamie shook the flashback from his mind, focusing back in on the facts at hand.
Frank Randall had not been an only child. He had a twin.
Jonathan Wolverton Randall had been killed, died during a house fire that had destroyed a large portion of the Randall estate. Or so it had been claimed.
Only months later, *Black Jack* had surfaced in Manhattan.
When the dust had settled on the mysterious fire, the rooms had been searched but the whole place was a wreck, and a body for the missing Randall brother was never found.
Too much of a coincidence, Jamie reasoned. Jonathan Wolverton Randall, or Claire’s cryptic financier JWR, and Black Jack were one and the same, of that he was certain.
Whatever had brought Claire to this monster, Jamie couldn’t envision a happy ending, and now, she’d dragged him back into the very web he’d managed to claw himself out of.
By the time he reached her block, the blood was burning in Jamie’s veins. Clouds filled the sky, blocking out the sun as it began to rise. As he opened the main door to the building, the wind rose, whipping the stray locks of his hair against his forehead. Thankfully, his hat stayed put as he found shelter inside.
This was most likely a setup, he thought, eyeing the sidewalk outside with some agitation. He could simply leave now, forget this whole mess and move on. But then…
…what if Claire turned up dead? Another body dumped in a random lake, or an alley like puir Frank Randall. Then how would he feel? Knowing he’d been within moments of (possibly) saving her life.
Jamie had never been one for superhero comics (or masterful heroics), but he felt as though he were living through one now.
Taking a rather large breath, he steeled himself, decision made. A trap it might be, but risking her life was something he wasn’t prepared to be accountable for.
The door to her apartment was ajar as he turned the corner. Jamie felt the disquiet rise within him; his stomach had never been good with nerves and it gurgled loudly in protest.
“Claire,” he ventured, shifting the door open a tad more, peering around the frame tentatively, as if something sinister might lie beyond.
The hallway clear, Jamie stepped further into the small apartment.
Shuffling through a closed door alerted him to some activity and he turned in its direction, awaiting what was to come.
He saw her hands first, as they slipped around the smooth wood of the inner door. Definitely the hands of a woman, the vibrant red painted on her nails cluing Jamie in as to their owner.
“How long,” he barked, an unintentional resentment lacing his tone as he slammed her front door shut, causing the walls to rattle.
“You don’t know…” she began, quieting as she watched the hatred slide across his face.
“Dinna tell me that, Mistress Randall. I *ken* plenty,” Jamie began, thumping his fist against the wall nearest to him, “so dinna play me for the fool. I have the marks to prove it. Lashes administered wi’ *fucking* cruelty and malice.”
He took a large breath, stepping closer to her as he clenched his jaw in spasmodic fits of rage interlaced with anguish. “How long have ye been wi’ Black Jack, Claire?” he finally managed to say, his shoulders shaking as he said, aloud, the name of the man who’d haunted his nightmares.
“Been with?” she returned, shocked. Her eyes narrowed and she stood up straight, her feet tapping nervously against the tiled floor panels. “*Been with*? You act like this is a *choice*!?”
“And is it no’? Here was me,” Jamie wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his sleeve in an attempt to calm himself, all to no avail, “thinking ye were in *danger*. That ye might actually *love* me. That ye might need my help. More the fool me, aye?”
“I told you to stay away! I told you, but would you listen?! No! You’re a man! You think you have all the answers! Well you don’t, you can’t solve this with passion, and love. It’s broken, way too broken for you to fix, Jamie!“ she yelled, her hands shaking with the effort of staying still. It was the most emotion he’d seen from her the entire time he’d known her.
"So he told you to *fuck* me, and you did. Well done, Claire. I thought ye many things, but a whore was’ne one of them!” he spat back, his temper rising. He regretted the words immediately, seeing the flash of pain that flitted across her eyes.
“You don’t know…anything.” A calm descended over her, her face now a mask as she coldly looked him up and down. “Yes, I *fucked* you. Yes, he told me to. I told you he can hurt me, *you* didn’t listen.”
“Does he have you too? Does he take ye to his bed, Claire?” Jamie had hold of her wrist now, squeezing tight to emphasise his point. “Does he *fuck* you too?”
Silence. Her amber eyes swam with moisture, unshed tears that showed of her endless grief. His heart plummeted.
“He does what he wants, I have no choice in the matter. Yes. He *has* me. But it isn’t normal, and it isn’t *pleasant.*”
Pushing her up against the wall, Jamie silenced her, pressing his lips to hers and nipping at her mouth. Claire didn’t protest; she went willingly, parting her legs to allow him flat against her.
Jamie fumbled with the zip of his trousers, pinning Claire’s hands above her head as he tried, desperately, to free himself, eager to prove himself worthy, to wipe the acrid taste of -Black Jack- from his tongue. The foul fiend who’d maimed him all those years ago.
Writhing against him, Claire rocked her hips against his, trapping his hand between them as she licked a delicate line from one end of his top lip to the other before tilting her head to whisper in his ear.
Licking a new path along the edge of his lobe, she spoke, low and deep. "You think it makes you strong, don’t you? You think that if you *have* me, that I’ll submit to your will.” She bit him, allowing her teeth to slowly mark him, the dent tingling as he thrust, hard, back against her. “But it’s all a lie.”
“Oh, aye? Ye think so?” he rasped back, trying to inject some dominance into his voice.
“*Aye*, I do,” she mocked, her voice cold.
Slipping his hand free, he let hers go too, allowing her to illustrate her point. Stepping back a little, he put some space between them as she forced her hand down the front of his tailored pants, wrapping her fingers around him.
"It makes you *weak*. You’re at *my* mercy. It drains you, leaves you empty and shattered. It makes *me* strong. Don’t for one moment think that you’ve left any stain on me. I have the power. I’m the one who’s taken from you. You’re a husk, sucked dry of the fluid you *think* makes you a man.”
She finished with a flourish, squeezing her palm against his agonisingly hard flesh, pulling her hand free and pushing him away with all of her might.
Jamie let out a strangled moan as he brought his eyes back to hers, noting the ice cold glare. She’d put her walls back up, gone was the momentary lapse, the lost little girl entwined once more in the siren she’d been made into.
“Yer right, Claire. I *am* at your mercy, and happy to be so.” Flinging a messily scrunched ball of banknotes on the side table, he grabbed his trilby from the floor where it’d fallen from his head and tidied himself back up, slightly abashed that he’d allowed himself to fall so thoroughly under her spell. “But I’m done. I pay my debts, and I willna make this mistake again. Good luck, Mrs. Randall.”
She stood, slightly askew but mostly perfect, a slight quiver in her lip. He saw, again, the slight buildup of moisture in her eyes and part of him, the part that loved her, begged him to free her of her bonds to Black Jack. But no, she was in deep, too deep for him to pull her away. If she couldn’t help herself (a point which she’d made over and over again to him), then he was in no position to lend a hand either.
“Gi’ my regards to Jack, ye belong wi’ each other.”
As the door slammed shut behind him, he regretted those words. The sting of them took root right in the centre of his heart, it’s steady beat stuttering and stumbling as the bitterness and resentment lodged there like a poisoned spike.
Nobody deserved that association, but she’d cut him deep and he’d been unable to stop himself spilling his vitriol.
“My two pet projects,” he purred, the menace plainly hidden behind his usual veil of nicety, “there is something incredibly…” He took a deep breath in, running his finger along the length of her exposed neck as he paused. “…satisfying about it, hmm?”
Claire licked her lips, the taste of Jamie still coating her tongue. Her heart was beating painfully in her chest. She knew this wouldn’t end well.
“I did what you asked, Jack.” She stood rigid, her spine as straight as it would go. Show no weakness, it said.
"No, you didn’t. I *told* you I wanted to watch. Those –additions– you made, those words gave you away, Claire.”
She could hear the humour in his tone, the slight lilt he experienced when he thought he had the upper hand.
Cold, harsh fingers ran down her back, the thin cotton barely concealing her goosebumps. Along each and every mark he’d ever administered. She pursed her lips, holding back the fear she so desperately wanted to expel.
Jamie had bitten her, at the height of his passion, of his anger. He’d dug his teeth into the soft, warm skin of her lips. Revenge for her words, she supposed.
It hit her all of a sudden, the thought rocketing through her.
Jamie had *known* that Jack was there, that he’d been watching them all along.
The indentations he’d made on the inside of her mouth throbbed, suddenly sore with the realisation.
He was sending a message.
This set her blood aflame. How *dare* they both mutilate her this way! How dare they use her as a pawn.
Swirling around, anger flowing through her like fire in her veins.
She faced Black Jack, a newfound hate behind her eyes.
Her life was forfeit now, no matter what.
She had nothing to lose.
Black circles ringed his eyes; he’d buried himself in work, piling up the papers of old cases around him as he fought to keep his mind off Claire.
Claire. Her name alone still sent shockwaves of half spent pleasure and combined guilt through him. He’d left her in the belly of the beast, knowing that she’d be hurt –or even worse, killed.
A small, black part of him expected her to show up half brutalised in an alley, her body barely recognisable. But that hadn’t happened. Thankfully.
Weeks had passed, and still, guilt hovered over him like a dirty great big cloud. He recalled those agonising nights in the hospital, his wounds cracking with each and every movement, the amount of time it took before he could even walk again. Contemplating her ending up with the same fate chilled his blood.
He was still angry, his blood boiled at the mere thought of their last interaction. But it had been a trap. Black Jack playing with his toys, yet again. And he’d fallen for it.
Yes, he was angry, but at himself more than anything else.
Tapping his foot against the harsh linoleum of his office floor, he tugged, mercilessly, at the ends of his bedraggled hair, scouring through open police reports. Anything to distract him from Claire Randall and her associates.
The rustle of paper disrupted his thoughts, his shoe catching on the wee sheet that had fallen under his desk. Reaching down, he plucked it from the floor and scraped off the small flecks of dirt and grime that had gathered over it.
Angrily, he began to screw it up, his knuckles glowing white with the pressure. Just as he was about to throw it at the wastepaper basket, a tinge of grey caught his eye.
“Fuck,” he cursed, lowly to himself as he unscrewed the note to see what he’d missed.
There, in incredibly small neat writing, was a warning. Again, in Gaelic.
“Tha e ribe. Tha e ag iarraidh ort tighinn. Na dèan. Fuireach air falbh, Jamie!”*
The ink she’d written in was slightly different, inferring that she’d (somehow) managed to add it after the first section had been penned.
His heart dropped.
She *had* warned him. Her words came, slowly, back to him. He’d been so enraged that he’d ignored her, assuming her guilty before proven innocent.
Not only that; he’d left her in the hands of that –sadist.
Grabbing his jacket from where it lay, slouched over one end of his chair, Jamie rushed from the bleak office, knocking his vintage tumbler from its perch.
He ignored the almighty smash as he rushed to his car. He had no clue whether she’d still be in the city, but in that moment he didn’t care.
Regret flowed through him as he rushed for his car, dropping and fumbling with his keys as he went.
‘Curse ye, Claire Randall’ he thought, ‘and curse me for falling for ye!’
Fans whirred almost silently in the underground parking lot, the huge turbines pumping air up and into the building. They blew a fine gust of wind against Jamie’s right hand side as he stormed passed, lifting the fine hairs on the back of his neck as he turned to open the car door.
He sat behind the wheel, his palms sweating as he took two deep, measured breaths. Only when he looked up did he finally see it, swaying in the same breeze that had caught him only moments before.
A slip of paper neatly slipped under his windscreen wiper.
Cautiously he stepped from the car, pulling the note gently away and opening it. Written, in her perfect cursive were the three words he wanted to hear most of all, but they also struck terror straight to his core.
“Tha gaol agam ort…CEB”
(*It is a trap. He wants you to come. Do not. Stay away, Jamie.)
I already did a wedding scenario (kinda) and the wedding has been done a lot of times. But isn’t anyone curious as to what happened before the wedding? I’m sure the nice girls of mineral town helped out Claire. No doubt the boys did too.
Omg I found these babies while cleaning up files. After days of drawing Rune Factory, here’s some Harvest Moon fan art. I initially drew them as merch for last year’s con but only had the chance to sell the chibis as keychains since I got lazy with them and I kinda don’t know what to do with them :)))) I still can’t help but fan girl for Cliff asljkfhaslkjfh <3<3 and omg why do i sort of see Barrett in Cliff aaaah D: Barrett is Cliff reincarnated in rune factory in my own au hahahaha.
Monet at Poissy (30) At the edge The weather wasn’t helping Monet a lot during his summer painting campaign in Pourville. He had to wait for bright spells with patience. These edge of the cliff views seem to illustrate quite different weather conditions.
Claude Monet, Sur la falaise à Dieppe (On the Cliff of Dieppe), 1882. Oil on canvas, 60 x 100 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA Claude Monet, Sur la falaise à Pourville (On the Cliff at Pourville), 1882. Oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden Claude Monet, Sur la falaise de Pourville, temps clair (On the Cliff at Pourville, Clear Weather), 1882. Oil on canvas, 64,7 x 80,7 cm. Museum of Modern Art, New York Claude Monet, Bord des falaises à Pourville (Edge of the cliffs at Pourville),1882. Oil on canvas, 61 x 100 cm. Private collection Claude Monet, Bords de la falaise à Pourville (Edge of the cliff at Pourville),1882. Oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm. Private collection Claude Monet, Bord de la falaise à Pourville (Cliff near Pourville),1882. Oil on canvas, 60 x 81 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York