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Momo ✌️ @Momopichu
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Before I lose the idea. R76 and wax museum challenge.
I'm thinking Jack as a journalist, challenged to do the "one night in a wax museum" thing. (Since he lost a bet in his journalist company).

His boss wants a segment of his experience or something so Jack takes a vid camera, sleeping bag, notebooks and some necessities
His bet requires him to set up in the 'murderers' section for maximum fear factor and what not. Jack admits he's a little scared cause everything looks so real.

One of the statues is a guy called Gabriel Reyes. The story was that he murdered people around the city.
But now that Jack thinks about it, apparently the guy was convicted because he didn't have an alibi. Not because of solid evidence. Anyway the guy was brought in, convicted in (Jack thought) unfair trial and put to death.
But...whatever. Jack's here to fulfill a bet and write crap. So he sets up his camera, takes a few notes, rolls out his sleeping bag and goes to bed.
A little after midnight, Jack's woken by some weird noise and sits up. The moment he turns on his phone's light, he sees the statue of Gabriel Reyes moving (he looks as if he were sneaking off somewhere but the moment the light shines on him, he flinches and covers his eyes).
Jack screams like a bat out of hell and throws the first thing he has which is his notebook.

The statue yelps out an "Ow, what the hell!?"

And it's so /real/ that Jack just abruptly stops. He's still a little sleepy headed but his rational mind is quickly catching up.
"Oh Haha! I see what this is!" Jack snarls.

The Gabe statue thing is still holding Jack's notebook and quirks a brow "I'm uh... Sorry. What??"

"You're one of the museum actors." Jack says "the ones they hire in the day for more interactive exhibits."
"I'm not-" Gabe begins

"You don't scare me!" Jack snaps. "I'm a trained journalist and you'll have to do better than that!"

Gabe just stared for a minute before he says, "Uh... Right. Look, blondie. I have no idea what you're doing but I need to do stuff so I'll be going..."
Jack scrambles out of his sleeping bag and grabs Gabe by the hand. "You're not going anywhere!" Jack says. He marches Gabe back over to his sleeping bag and plonks them both down on it. Jack then grabs his notebook and a pen. "For attempting to scare me, you now owe me by helping
"me finish this article!" Jack finishes.

Gabe looks... Shock might be an understatement. The man shakes his head. "Look kid-"

"Jack"

"Blondie." Gabe ignores the interruption. "I have important stuff to do so how about you not-"

"Name?" Jack continues as if Gabe hadn't spoken.
"Gabriel Reyes." Gabe sighs.

In-character, Jack thinks, he can work with that. "Age?"

"50."

"Really?"

"No corncheeks."

Jack glares at Gabe. "Don't call me corncheeks. I'm putting you down as 60."

Gabe grumbles something but more loudly, says "I'm 30 if you must know..."
"tell me about your character," Jack says

Gabe flashes a look that could be disbelief and uncertainty rolled into one but, after awhile, gives in. "Well... I worked as a local tailor in my neighborhood. Usually suits and dresses...dad passed away early and mom well...murdered."
Jack hesitates, pen over his notebook. "News reports says you killed your own mother."

Jack wasn't ready for the way Gabe's face suddenly darkened, how the guy lurched to his feet and a thundercloud gathered in his eyes. He was shaking all over, fists clenched at his sides.
"I would NEVER!" Gabe roars. "My mother was the sweetest. Best-" he breaks off, chest heaving. Jack swears he sees wetness in the brown eyes. "I would /never/ hurt my own mother. My family needs her...I...needed her..."

Jack pauses. "The reports..." He starts.
"I didn't do it!!" Gabe yells. He grabs Jack's hands as if he could convince the journalist just by touch. "You have to believe me. I didn't hurt her. OR those other people..." He pauses, takes another deep breath. "I was framed. You have to believe me, please!"
Jack doesn't know what to do. His mind is struggling. One part insists that this Gabe was an actor, a /good/ one, giving him all the material he would need for an article.

The other part wasn't so certain. It was too real. The honesty, the trembling grip, voice...eyes.
He takes Gabe's hands and pries them loose, settling the palms together on his lap once he was done.

"Stay here," Jack says "I'm going to get us both water..." But when tries to leave, the expression in Gabe's eyes make him hesitate. It's almost defeat, heartbreak.
So Jack does something else. He hooks their pinky fingers together. "I'm just going for refreshments. And I...I need to process all this..." Jack says "I'll be back, pinky promise."

...But when Jack returns, Gabe is back on his stand. A solid wax statue with no light in his eyes
Jack spends the next day in his office doing anything but writing his story. He /tried/, but it wasn't working. It doesn't help that his camera recorded the whole event perfectly.

Jack can't help but be unnerved by the well of emotions in Gabe, the realness of it all.
He replays the video over and over, trying to look for flaws- to prove that what he saw was an actor in disguise rather than a statue come to life.

He can't.

So against his better judgement, Jack draws up everything regarding the Reyes case.
Turns out, the entire case was worse than he originally thought. Gabe was the one that called police after his mother's murder. The reports were a bit vague on between and then the man was arrested on the premise that he had no alibi and "evidence" suggested it was him.
Apparently "evidence" was things littered about the house. As the entire thing occured in the Reyes family household, the detectives said "without other evidence, all the signs point to the son".

The entire thing was sloppy. Quickly done. Too rushed to be anything but framed.
"Watcha' doin?" A voice abruptly asks.

Jack throws up half the files on his desk to cover up the reports he had opened. "Research!" He yelps as an excuse.

"On?" The voice belongs to his colleague. Some weirdo with the pen name Talon. Jack never got along with the guy.
"wax museum shit," Jack lies.

"Oh right! You lost the bet!" Talon guy thing (Jack never bothered with his real name) snickers, grin turning downright devilish. "Good luck with that farm boy!"

Jack has to resist throwing his stapler at the guy
That same night, he grabs the same things and goes back to the same area of the museum to wait. He falls asleep during his wait but just as before, is woken up by a strange noise.

Still, Jack wasn't ready for Gabe leaning over him as if to poke him awake.
At least this time Jack only throws his pen and Gabe's pretty chill despite the thing bouncing off his nose.

"/Will you stop doing that!!/" Jack hisses

"I should be saying that to you! Do you just throw things at anyone that makes you jump?"
Jack glares but takes his pen back and gestures for Gabe to sit beside him. As the man sits, Jack nearly misses what he says.

"I thought you wouldn't come back."

Jack shrugs, pulling his notes out. "I pinky promised. I doubt go back on pinky promises."
For the rest of the night, Jack goes through his preliminary findings with Gabe.

Most of it is accurate but something begins to feel wrong the longer they dwell on the articles.

As they stop for a break, Gabe reaches a hand out to tug on Jack's hair.
"Something on your mind?" Jack asks. He's still got his nose buried in his notes.

"Yeah. If you keep frowning like that, you're going to get whites in your hair earlier than everybody else."

Jack waves a hand in the air. "Don't care."

"Why not?"
Jack shrugs. He's never really given thought to his hair or looking older; never had time for dates with his busy schedule, and his usual friends have never mentioned it before.

"I like your gold hair," Gabe admits. When Jack turns to stare, Gabe coughs. "Prefer, I mean.
"reminds me of the sun." Gabe explains.

It hits Jack then. He doesn't know what happened to Gabe to make him a statue. He'll ask later, when it's ok to go to more sensitive stuff. But for now he realises that Gabe's probably never seen the sun since being set up as a wax statue.
Jack immediately puts aside his notes and pulls out his tablet. He doesn't have too much on it since he mainly uses it for references, but he does have a few movies. He gestures for Gabe to come see.

"I figure you must be pretty bored here," Jack begins hesitantly.
Gabe shrugs. "I've been trying to prove my innocence but the only computer is in the manager's office, which is locked. I have no lockpicking skills and I can't leave the museum...so yeah, it does get boring."

"Well I uh...have some things on my tablet," Jack says "it's not
"seeing the sun for real, but I guess it's..." Jack trails off.

"Close enough." Gabe finishes for him. "Let me see."

They end up settling for a Disney film (after Gabe has lectured Jack on his selection of movies and given him a list of to-buys).
Jack falls asleep half way through. When he wakes up, he finds himself tucked into his sleeping bag with his bag pack neatly filled with his notes and tablet beside him.

Gabe is back on his stand but Jack swears he can see a smile on the usually unemotional wax face.
The next few days go by the same. Despite his boss badgering him for the article, Jack drags up everything he can regarding Reyes' case and all those murdered as well.

At night, he brings these to Gabe and they try to work out who the actual murderer is.
Half way through, they'll take a break and Jack will pull up one of Gabe's recommended movies and they'll watch until Gabe has to go back to becoming a statue.

Jack will admit, the first time he watches Gabe turn back, it's /really/ unnerving.
Jack can't describe it well, but it's as if an usually animated and fluid being suddenly turnned as solid as stone, an impassiveness that just passes over the skin like a chill.

Like watching the life drain away.

It's unreal and he'll never tell anyone that he gets nightmares.
He spends the day after that interviewing people about the murder cases. Anything to keep his mind away from the sight of Gabe turning still.

There's still something glaringly wrong about the reports. They're really not wrong, in fact, most of the info is right.
And the witnesses say just the same. The only discrepancy Jack can find is that Gabe was never linked to the murders before his own mother's.

It bothers him to no end.

When he returns to the office, he dumps his notes down and contemplates a nap but is interrupted by a knock.
"Yo farm boy." Talon snipes "you got that article for the boss yet?"

"F off." Jack growls. He's running on barely any sleep, what with returning to the museum everynight.

"What's this shit on your desk?"

Before Jack can stop him, talon pulls out one of the murder reports.
Talon's eyes narrow. "This isn't wax museum research." He says.

Jack fumbles for an excuse. "Um. One of the statues that is in the section I slept in is of Gabe! I thought I'd find out more about him!"

"Gabe?"

/Shit/Jack thinks. "Reyes. Sorry. it's just faster to say, y'know?"
"Uh-huh..." Talon looks sceptical but lets it slide. "Just make sure you get the article done soon. Boss is getting prissy."

Jack can't help the shiver that snakes up his spine as the other guy leaves.
That night, he returns to the museum again, totting his bag full of notes and articles. By now the curator probably think's he's a homeless guy but Jack could care less. He lays out his things and waits for Gabe to wake.
It's the first time Jack's awake for the transformation. Gabe goes from looking like an angry puppy (the statue maker was probably going for 'growling' but it just scrunched up Gabe's nose) to something more relaxed.
Like shrugging off a sheet of ice, light comes back into his eyes and his shoulders slump as if he had been holding them for too long in a single position.

And when Gabe turns to see Jack, his whole face just /smiles/. It's not just in his mouth. It's in his cheeks, his eyes.
"Not going to throw stuff at me?" Gabe asks, stepping off the pedastal.

Jack sticks his tongue out at Gabe and the other man laughs, coming to join him on the sleeping bag.

"So, you got more stuff for me to look at?" Gabe pokes Jack in the side.
"Not too much tonight. Sorry." Jack avoids Gabe's eyes as he says that. But it's true, it feels as if he's slamming himself against a brick wall with this case and no amount of research was going to break that.

Still, he pulls out his things and spreads them out across the floor
He still wanted to try, still wanted to help Gabe despite everything against them. He didn't see the way Gabe raised his hand over his shoulder as if to pat him. He did, however, feel it when Gabe pulled him into an one-armed hug.

"Um...Gabe?"

"I just wanted to say, thanks."
"None of the officials went as far as you did to help me," Gabe continues. "So really, thanks."

Jack swallows. He doesn't look at Gabe. He can't. He hasn't done anything worth Gabe's thanks yet. He feels like a fool.
So he keeps his eyes down, hands focused on tracing the words of the articles he has spread out. It's only then that Jack notices something. He pulls one of the articles free.

"Gabe, when was your mom attacked?"

"September 15th. Why?"
Jack narrows his eyes. "This article was published on the 17th."

"So?" Gabe asks "most news reports are made soon after an event."

Jack stuffs the article in Gabe's face. "This one contains the full autopsy report. Official PR wasn't made until the 19th in a conference."
Gabe took the article, skimming it through. "Did you guys get clearance to publish the autopsy before the conference?"

"I'll need to check," Jack sighs "but usually, no."

Gabe points to another article, wriggling his hand. "Pass me that one."

Jack does. Their fingers brush.
They part just as quickly, too focused on their discovery.

Gabe hums as he reads, popping his lips once he's done. "This one was a week after my mom's death. It mentions me in detail."

"You were arrested a day later weren't you?" Jack says.

"Yup."
Coincidence? Or something more?

"I'll talk to the police department tomorrow." Jack declares. "And check the other cases as well."

Gabe nods, but he's still got a frown etched into his brow.

"What's wrong?" Jack asks
"It's nothing," Gabe starts. "It's just...I would go with you if I could."

Ah right, the whole statue thing. Well, they knew each other better by now so Jack decided to go for it. "Um, about the whole statue thing. How did that happen?"
When Gabe turned to stare at him, Jack quickly added "If you don't mind my asking that is..."

"Nono, it's fine." Gabe rubs his head. "It's just, I don't remember much of it either. One moment I'm sitting strapped to a chair, a needle being stuck into my arm. And the next...
"I'm waking up in the museum. At night. Surrounded by-" he makes a vague gesture at the other statues of murderers "-that."

"Scary way to wake up." Jack says.

"You're telling me." Gabe sighs. "I thought I was in hell. I couldn't leave the premises, and every sunrise I'd go back
"to becoming one of them. But this time I'd be trapped in my own body, forced to watch people come and go and point their fingers at me..." He turned away, hand over his face as if to cover his eyes. Jack thought he spied some wetness. "They'd say how I shouldn't get a statue...
"how I should be..." Gabe never finished his sentence.

Jack pulls him into a hug, arms wrapped tight around the other's shoulder. Gabe turned to press his nose into Jack's neck, hiding his face in the folds of the high collared coat.

"We'll set it right," Jack promises
/I'll set it right/ Jack thinks. He has to, so that whatever Gabe is now, he can eventually rest in peace, no longer bound to a statue stuck in a dark place.

When they finally break apart, Jack coaxes Gabe into watching one of the funnier movies he has.
They sit leaning against each other, Gabe's head tucked against his neck and Jack...

Jack unconsciously runs his fingers through the dark curls while his mind drifts.

Jack would never admit he thought of what if Gabe stayed, with him, after this was all over.
It's harder to part that night even though neither of them say anything. Jack spends the rest of his day running from the police dept. and back to the main journalist offices.

A police friend, Gerard helps him confirm that the articles were published before an official statement
"Which is weird," Gerard hums. "Usually we don't allow this kind of stuff because it causes panic.The force should also know better than to take bribes from reporters." He hands the paper back, taps a finger against his chin...
"What I'm more concerned about is that autopsy on the body wasn't completed until the 18th." Gerard continues "so either your reporter has a professional in his pocket or he bribed our forensics to give him info before it was ready."
"What makes you say that?" Jack asks.

"Because your reporter's done this for all the other murder cases." Gerard says. "I've tried talking to our forensics and sure, Moira's a little weird but she doesn't sell her reports out before PR needs them."
Jack takes all this back to the office where he dumps everything down and slumps back in his chair. He hasn't even had a moment to catch his breath before his boss is knocking on his door.

"Jack do you have that article for me yet?"

Jack yelps, fumbling for an excuse.
His boss narrows his eyes. "You aren't still looking at that Reyes case, are you?"

"No!" Jack squeaks. When his boss continues to glare, Jack slumps like a child caught doing something bad. "...yes."

His boss sighs. "Jack, I know you care but the Reyes case is over.
"the boy was put to death. Unfairly maybe, but all evidence was against him." His boss says, not unkindly "let it go and let the dead rest."

Jack snorts, if only Boss knew that Gabe was trapped in a wax statue because his spirit couldn't rest.
Mistaking Jack's silence for stubbornness, his boss sighs. "If you want to know more about the Reyes case, talk to Talon. He wrote all the articles and reports about the murders."

Jack sits up. "All of them?"

"All. Now finish your work so you can go talk to Talon."
Jack wants to do anything BUT talk to Talon. He rushes through a first draft of his article if only to pass time and the moment he's off work, he runs to the museum. The curator, Ana, is there. She quirks a brow when she spots him running up the steps.

"You're early today."
"Inspiration." Jack pants as an excuse.

Ana shrugs but let's him in and shows him back to the Murderer section of the museum. "Need anything?"

Jack hums, tapping his foot impatiently. He checks his watch. It's only 6pm, Gabe won't be awake for another 6 hours or so.
"I'm good."

"You haven't had dinner yet, right?" Ana snickers.

"I'm fine."

Ana shrugs. "Vending machine works 24/7 and break lounge is in the back near the workshop." Ana tosses a scarf around her neck "try not to break anything!" She leaves with a wave.
Jack paces in front of Gabe's statue for a good hour before finally throwing his hands up and following Ana's advice.

"I'm in the break room, come find me when you're awake." he says to Gabe's unmoving statue, before turning and heading towards the back.
The break room is a small section broken off from the wax maker's workshop. It's a little strange to be snacking right next to white-eyed wax heads with gaping mouths but Jack squares his shoulders and deals.

If he was honest, this is much scarier than the murder section.
The mannequin heads seem to follow him wherever he goes and their gaping mouths seem to move with every flicker of the light.

Jack crunches particularly loudly on a Doritos chip if only to dispel the darkish atmosphere.
He's feasted on at least 3 packs of chips and 2 KitKat bars when he spots the lighter and box of smokes. For a moment he wonders which wax worker was crazy enough to bring a fire hazard into the workshop and then he catches sight of the sightless heads again.
Jack's got a cigarette between his lips before he has time to ponder any further. The fire and smoking end of his cigarette acting as a welcome barrier between him and the headless bodies, and the heads without bodies.
He looses count how many sticks he works through while his mind drifts over the information he had gathered today.

So all the related murders were reported by Talon. That dick. Jack knew that guy had no clearance with the police department, not like Jack did.
Not only that, the guy was known for being loose with his money. There was no way he could afford a professional to help him examine bodies off photos.

Holding cigarette between his fingers, Jack brings up the article that was published one day before Gabe's arrest on his phone.
The article went into great detail of how Gabe didn't have an alibi without actually /saying/ it.

Now that Jack was looking more closely, he could see the roundabout language used. It's a technique taught to writers to help direct attention without stating the obvious.
Clever indeed. Jack brought his cigarette back to his lips only to have the thing suddenly snatched from his hands.

Jack semi-screams and throws his phone at the person. Who happens to be Gabe.

Gabe catches the phone before it can hit him, not even batting an eye.
"I thought we were pass the throwing thing." Gabe says. He then looks to the cig he's holding, then back to Jack. "I didn't take you for a smoker."

"I forget I quit when I'm stressed," Jack admits sheepishly.

Gabe darts a glance over to the table where Jack's wrappers sit.
"Stressed." Gabe says.

"Yes. Stressed." Jack takes back his cig, puffing deeply. To his surprise, Gabe leans back on the table where Jack was sitting on, and presses their sides together. "What's up?"

"Nothing." Gabe pauses, sighs. "Not nothing. Sorry."
"For what!?" Jack asks, he couldn't think of anything Gabe needed to apologize for.

"For the stress," Gabe says. "The case. You didn't have to-"

Jack jumps off the table, whirling on the statue. He's not as tall as Gabe but his shoulders give him the image of being larger.
"Gabriel Reyes. Don't you dare finish that sentence." Jack snarls. "It's my privilege to take on this case and to prove you innocent."

Gabe looks at him dejectedly. "You don't even have evidence to prove my innocence."

Jack slaps him over the knee.

"Ow! What was that for?"
"Listen here Gabe: You. Are. Innocent." Jack starts. "I may be stressed but it's a little thing if I can prove your innocence and set you free. I /want/ to. And you /deserve/ to be at peace, not stuck in some museum to suffer."

Gabe's smile is a hesitant, reluctant thing.
Time to bring out the big guns. Jack takes his phone and waves it between them. "Besides, I /do/ have evidence."

It's worth it to see the surprise and then happiness that spreads over Gabe's face. "Show me." He nearly begs.
He pulls up the same article Gabe had been looking at yesterday night. Gabe's brows crease into a confused frown. "Jack?" He asks.

Jack scrolls up to point at the author. "Talon is a guy at the news office. He wrote all the articles regarding the murders, including your mom's.
"Gerard at the police dept. says that he's been constantly reporting results before PRs are released." Jack explains "Not only that, Moira at forensics hasn't been selling results. So if Talon's not buying early info, that means..."
"You think he caused the murders because the only way he can provide accurate information about an autopsy was if he /caused/ the injuries of the murders." Gabe finishes.

"Yup! And not only that-"

"Jack."

"I looked through his report on you-"

"Jack!"
Jack paused, turning to look at Gabe. The man looked sad, not happy as Jack thought he would be.

Gabe rubbed a hand over his face. "Jack, you can't accuse someone without hard evidence. This will never pass."

"But-"

"Trust me Jack. I've been through it, they just won't."
Jack shuts up immediately. Gabe was right, no matter how hard Jack denies it, he didn't have solid evidence. But he wouldn't give up so easily, not yet.

"We need evidence?" He starts. "I'll get it. There's gotta be something he missed. I have his name, it shouldn't be too hard!"
Gabe stares at Jack for a good moment before cracking into laughter, slapping his knee in mirth. "You don't quit easily, do you?"

Laughter was a good look on Gabe, Jack thinks. He'd give anything to see it more. "Nope! My dad doesn't raise quitters!"
"So I take it that's why you never quit smoking," Gabe jokes.

"Hey!" Jack elbows him, bringing the cig back to his lips. "That's on me and my shitty teenage phase. 'Sides, it's not...all...bad?"
As Jack was talking, Gabe had pressed closer until he was standing between Jack's legs, pushing the blond back against the table.

With one hand, he took Jack's hand (the one with the cig) and guided it back to his own lips.
Ignoring the way Jack's face flushed and the heavy, panted, breaths between them, Gabe took a pull from the cig.

His hair tickled Jack's cheek, fingers still curled firmly about the blond's.

Jack couldn't help swallowing and staring as Gabe finally lifted his head away.
Smoke wafted between them, dancing about Gabe's lips. Jack was sure he was cherry red by now from the closeness.

However when the smoke cleared somewhat, Jack's eyes widened and he coughed.

"Um Gabe...?"
"Hmm?"

"Your lips." Jack made a vague gesture at Gabe's mouth.

"What about them?"

"Uh...umm. It's-"

Gabe brought his free hand up to touch his lip. And yelped.

The heat from the cig had melted the wax of his lips, making a small dent. Gabe broke away, cursing.
Jack couldn't help the grin that broke out across his face. Gabe looked so flustered and Jack was sure that if Gabe still had blood, he would be flushed to the tips of his ears.

"It's not funny!" Gabe whined a finger going to his lip as if he could push it back into shape.
"I'm sorry," Jack giggled. He did try his best to stifle the laughs, it just wasn't working and oh god Gabe was honest-to-god /pouting/ at him as if Jack had personally offended his ancestors. "Gabe! Gabe, come here." Jack beckoned, heading over to the work desk.
"Are you going to keep laughing at me?" Gabe asked sullenly.

"Nono, come here. I think there was some, ah-" Jack leaned over the counter, finding a small pot of putty and paint.

Gabe reluctantly came to stand beside Jack as the blond turned with his bounty.
Ever so carefully, and improvising as he went, Jack sculpted Gabe's melted lip back into shape and added putty where necessary to build back the lush curve of puckered skin the man had had in life.

That done, he added a thin layer of paint to the lips, bringing them to life.
When he finished, Gabe leaned back so that Jack could inspect the finished product. The blond wasn't ready for the gleam of light that bounced off the newly tinted lips, the grin that accompanied them and drowned all else into shadows.

"How do I look?" Gabe asked.
Jack didn't answer. Because he was leaning in, blue eyes affixed to brown before they gently slipped shut. And then Jack was pressing his lips carefully against Gabe's, feeling the still-slightly wet paint against his skin.
The kiss was brief, chaste. When Jack retreated, his mind had yet to come with him. Still floaty, as if he had left it against Gabe's lips.

When it finally hit Jack what he had just done, his face bloomed with red, flooding from his cheeks up to his hair and down to his chest.
"I'm sorry!" He squeaks "I shouldn't have-" Jack tries to retreat but is stopped by the arms wrapped tightly around him, dark chocolate fingers digging into muscle.

Gabe's face is conflicted, nervous. His brows are furrowed but his nose is scrunched. His face tips in but halts..
A mere finger's length from Jack's own. Their lips are so close but Gabe is still fighting, holding himself back despite the clear /want/ Jack can feel trembling in wax limbs.

Unable to decide, Gabe reaches up a hand to settle on Jack's cheek, fingers skittering across the skin.
"How..." Gabe hesitates. His voice shakes with trepidation, as if his whole sanity rested on Jack's answer to his next question.

Jack remains still in his arms, waiting. Ever so slightly he leans into the hand at his cheek.

Gabe finally gathers himself. "How...how did I taste?"
Jack has to resist laughing out loud. Of course the first thing Gabe asks is not if Jack had lost his mind, but rather worry of his own strange state.

Jack sweeps aside Gabe's worries by closing the gap and pressing another kiss to Gabe's lips.

"Like wax," he says, smiling.
The kiss after that and the nexts is just as soft. Jack is careful not to bite for fear of scarring Gabe's wax features. Gabe on the other hand strokes his hands along the hem of Jack's shirt, questing fingers droping under to slide along skin.
When they finally part for air, Jack lays his head on Gabe's shoulder, hands securely wrapped around the other's waist.

Gabe rocks them gently in place, keeping his lips pressed to Jack's hair. They don't speak of the kiss. It's too new, too fragile.
And yet, Jack whispers "I'll set you free. I promise."

Gabe takes his hand, laces their fingers together. "Jack, you..." He sighs. "Don't rush."

Jack knows what Gabe means. If Gabe is free, he'll leave; he won't be stuck in a statue anymore.
They don't know where Gabe'll go, and neither want to find out. Not when they have this - whatever /this/ is.

"You'll visit though. Right?" Jack asks. "After you're free?"

He shouldn't ask. But he has to know. He can feel Gabe swallow, the arms tightening around him.
"I'll do my best," Gabe says. Gently, he separates their hands so that he can lock their pinkies together. "Pinky promise."

Jack can only give a small smile. Together, they part and head back into the museum. Jack doesn't want to let go when it's time for Gabe to leave.
He lingers his fingers on Gabe's hand as the other man stills, returning to his wax statue state.

When Ana comes to open the museum doors, she finds Jack in front of Reyes' statue - as if he had stood there the whole night.
The day after is exhausting. Besides thinking about Gabe's case, Jack is running on next to no sleep as he finishes up the feature article his boss so desperately needs.

Jack hopes it's legible enough, sleep deprived as he is and sends it off.
In his distracted state, Jack didn't notice when the door of his office was pushed open and a man was sat opposite him.

"Burning the midnight oil?" Talon asks, lounging in the guest chair.

"What the f-!!" Jack jumps, his hands fly out over the mess of notes on his desk.
Most of it is regarding the Reyes case, and if Jack's suspicions are right, he SHOULDN'T let Talon see them.

"F*ck off Tal," Jack hisses "I just sent the first draft off so gimme a break."

"Actually, I didn't come to talk about that." Only now does Jack notice the way talon sit
Talon is leaning back in the chair at an odd angle, legs stretched out. In the small office space, this essentially prevented Jack from getting to the door (behind Talon) easily. It may just have been paranoia but Jack couldn't help the feeling of being trapped.
"Boss talked to me yesterday," Talon began casually. "Said that you were interested in the Reyes Case."

"I told you-" Jack began.

"That there was that Reyes statue in the museum." Talon finishes. Abruptly the man leans forward, planting his arms on the table.
"Strange though," Talon went on "He also told me you were digging for evidence, talking to the police...Y'know you could've just come and asked me for details, right?"

"Didn't wanna bother you." Jack's half-ass excuse wasn't going to work. They both knew it.
Talon leaned back. Jack's escape has never looked further. "So, was there anything you wanted to ask?"

The word 'nothing' was on the tip of Jack's tongue but at that moment, his mind jumped back. Gabe holding him, Gabe's kiss, the fingers turning still, the sightless wax eyes.
Jack said he would set Gabe free, didn't he? What better way than to ask Talon for evidence against Talon himself. It was suicide at best, but not if Jack played it right.

Under the table, his hand flipped open his phone, thumb sliding quietly to the recording app.
With a flick, the recording began.

"Are you sure you have time?"Jack asks

"Loads of time."

"Okay..." Jack hesitate, gathering his thoughts. Better to ease into things, he decides. "You were there on all the murder cases, not just the Reyes one, how did you get there so quick?"
"Lucky I guess." Talon shrugs "right time, right place."

"For all eight murders across the city?"

"I got connections too farm boy, they let me know where the cases were and saved me a VIP spot."

"Does one of your connections happen to be a doctor?" Jack prods
"Perhaps. Why'd you ask?"

"You happen to know what every victim suffered from before the police can release their autopsy reports to the public." Jack says "isn't that a little strange?"

"Pssht, come on Jack." Talon chuckles "the public deserves to know the truth-"
"You didn't answer my question Tal." Jack cuts "Isn't it a little /strange/?"

It's subtle, but Jack can see Talon shift uncomfortably in his seat. Apparently it was not something the man had thought of.

"I didn't have a doctor on call," Talon admits at last. "I took photos and
"made predictions accordingly. It's not hard when our journalists report on gang wars every other week. You get used to seeing blood."

"Doesn't explain how you knew /specifically/ that Reyes' mother was attacked from the back, suffered blunt force trauma and /then/ knifed."
Jack could see Talon curse under his breath.

"I don't get where this is going Morrison. Besides, her own son was convicted."

"Because the murder happened to be in his own house!" Jack snaps, undeterred he went on "don't you find it strange that Gabriel was convicted only
Because of the last murder? He wasn't even tied to the seven murders before and background checks found no links!"

"I'm not following, Morrison."

"Someone /framed/ Gabriel. And they did it through your article Tal. So mind telling me what /your/ angle is?"
Talon remains silent. Jack could see the gears turning in his head. Then, "You seem to be implying something quite specific."

Jack swallows.

"Truthfully, I'm sorry my article led you to believe I framed Gabriel Reyes," Talon went on "That was not my intention.
"My intention was just to highlight the boy's situation."

"By saying he had no alibi," Jack growls.

"It's not my fault the boy got himself drunk with his friends and then proceeded to pass out on the road side!" Talon roars, at the end of his patience.
"If he was drunk, why didn't his friends help him back home?" Jack intercepts

"Who the hell knows, his friends didn't look reliable anyhow. Like who wears a cowboy suit-" Talon cut himself off.
A slow grin spreads across Jack's face. "Cowboy? You never mentioned anything about him in your article."

"Privacy." Talon splutters

"You didn't care about privacy when you spilled Gabe's situation all over the papers." Jack hums "Say,
"What were you doing on the night of the murder?" Jack prods "If I recall, you said you went out drinking."

Talon's grip on his chair had tightened, white knuckles lining the armrests. "I suggest you think about what you're about to say, very carefully, Morrison."
No backing out now. Jack inhales deeply, preparing himself. "Y'know, a few weeks back Boss was worried since you'd started taking sleeping pills to help with, and I quote, 'your raging insomnia'. An insomnia that started right around the first murder.
"So let's just say," Jack hums "You went out for drinks and happen to meet Gabe. You integrated yourself into their friend group and slipped a pill into Gabe's drink..."

"Morrison..." Talon warns

"...you then volunteered to help Gabe back but left him by the roadside.
"In that time, you then snuck into the Reyes' apartment and murdered his mother before leaving with clean hands." Jack finishes "Gabe then doesn't have an alibi and under the effects of alcohol, his word means null in a court. But if I were to ask his cowboy friend..."
Jack wasn't ready for the way Talon slammed his hands on the table, throwing up papers and sending his coffee cup crashing to the floor.

Cold breath caught in Jack's chest. The manic haze that consumed Talon's eyes made Jack shiver; fear for his life.
"That's is quite enough farm boy." Talon snarls "I've been nice enough to listen to your damn accusations. Now I want you to forget we ever had this conversation and go back to 'colleagues'."

Jack gulps "You didn't deny-"
The hand that lunges for Jack's throat stops short with the knock on his office door.

By the time Boss pushes the door open, Talon is standing straight with a pristine smile on his face. Jack has sunk back into his chair, trying to hide the deep gulps of air, fueled with fear.
Boss arches a brow between the two men. "I see you two are finally talking. Anyway, Jack when you have time, I just received your article and need to clarify some things. Come to me when you're done talking to-"

Jack lurches to his feet. " We can talk /now/ boss!"
He nearly shoves his Boss out the door in his haste to get away from Talon. Still, Jack can feel the burning gaze that seems to be embedded in his back even as he leaves. Jack knows what he's done, he can't go back now.

His phone is tucked firmly in his pocket, recording saved.
He needs to send it to Gerard, get a statement from this cowboy friend of Gabe's. But for now, he's never been more happy with sending his boss a half-assed piece of work.

He spends his next hour in the safety of his Boss's office clarifying his article and reworking it.
The moment that's done, he's out the front door without looking back. He doesn't have time, Talon could be waiting for him anywhere and he needs to prove Gabe's innocence before he becomes another lifeless body on the streets.
Sending the recordings to Gerard takes seconds but when the call comes through, Jack nearly jumps out of his skin.

"Jack, what the hell is this?" Gerard asks over the phone.

"What does it look like? It's proof of Gabriel's innocence!" Jack snaps
"That's not what I mean," Gerard retorts "You just threatened a potential murderer!"

"Just add that to the list of dumbshit I've done." Jack hisses "Can you get a statement from this cowboy guy?"

"Yeah, he's been trying to talk to us for ages but no one's believed him,"
Gerard's tone is somber. "We thought he was just lying to get his buddy out."

Jack nods. Talon's article had that effect on people: making people believe a certain truth until it was too late.

"We can change that now," Jack says "Get his statement, prove Gabe's innocence."
"I'm on it," Gerard says "what about you?"

"I-" Jack stops. He's standing at a crossroads, the traffic light flickering red. He feels a presence at his back he cannot name but makes him shiver none the less. The feeling of something after him grows. He needs to run.
"I gotta go."

"What!?" Gerard exclaims "Jack if you're not safe-"

"Talon probably thinks I still have to pass the info to you, he'll be after me. Make sure you secure Gabe's friend, ok? I'm going now."

"What? Jack, wait-"
Jack doesn't wait. He turns off the call and tucks his phone back into his pocket. God willing, Talon will only go after him.

As soon as the traffic light turns green, Jack is moving again, faster, just short of running to the only place he needs to get to before Talon finds him
Ana greets him at the museum doors just as he leaps up the front steps, taking two at a time. She arches a brow at his dishevelled look.

"Are you ok Jack?"

"Yeah."

Ana narrows her eyes. "Jack-" she begins.
"I'm fine Ana." Jack insists "Look, I'll take you out for coffee once I'm done here."

"So...I take it this'll be the last time you sleep over at the museum?"

Hells, this could be the last few hours Jack spends among the living! But he doesn't say that, just nods.
Ana shrugs and turns to leave. "Well, goodnight Jack, and don't break anything."

Jack can only wave after her and wonder what she might say if she found a body in the museum the next morning.

Shaking his head from the dark thoughts, Jack turns and heads inside.
He might not die yet. Talon might not follow him this far, might not try to silence him for some accusations made in an office in the city.

Still, the feeling of being followed doesn't stop even when he's inside the safety of the museum.
It may just have been his sleep deprived and paranoid mind but Jack felt as if the wax statues were watching him as he moved, their eyes tracking his every step in the shady lighting if the displays.

It was like they were ready to leap and tear him to pieces.
By the time he reaches Gabe's statue, he's shivering, scared to face a fate that was very probable.

Carefully, he steps up on the pedastal of Gabe's statue and hugs the unmoving wax man. As he does so, he stealthily slips his phone into Gabe's hoodie pocket.
"I got your evidence," he whispers "one of your friends -a cowboy- has a statement proving your innocence." He hesitates, wrapping his arms more tightly around Gabe. "You'll be okay."

A bang echoes through the otherwise silent museum. Jack flinches. It could've been a pipe...
But it could also be something else. The feeling of urgency, of needing to run burns in Jack's veins and he presses a kiss to Gabe's cheek. "I have to go now. Be at peace, okay?"

He lets go, steps back. Footsteps thrum in the silent halls. Jack runs.
By now, he knows the museum as well as he does the back of his hands. Jack weaves in and out of the halls as quietly as he can, finally settling on hiding in a section depicting a warzone.

There were many statues here, some in states of horror, others in determination.
Their unseeing eyes stared at points in the air as if awaiting doom. Jack had never felt so in tune with them as he slipped in among them, hoping to hide himself in their numbers.

The shady lighting lengthened shadows, painted background and tree props swaying under the aircon
The bang came again, closer. It definitely wasn't a pipe. Metal, sure, but no pipe sounded like it was being whacked across the floor hard enough to dent.

Jack held his breath, sinking down deeper against the props and among wax statue legs. Beads of sweat gathered on his head.
His breath was too loud in the rasping silence that was aircons whirling at full speed. Every sudden shift in the shadow nearly had him leaping from his skin, every change in air...

The footsteps began again.

And stopped.

Three steps.

They sounded far away.
Sweat slipped down the side of his head. Silently, Jack wrapped his arm around the leg of the wax statue soldier he his behind.

Another few steps, as if they were crossing a hallway. And then nothing.

The silence went on for minutes, maybe hours.
Jack wasn't sure, but he didn't dare move. His sweat had evaporated in the room's cold wind, making his skin feel spiked with frost.

The steps sounded abruptly.

Close.

Closer than he had thought possible.
His heartbeat rocketed, beating against his ribs hard enough to hurt. Jack slipped a hand over his mouth.

The steps halted.

Quietness flooded the room.

And then, the sound of sliding metal against the floor. Grating, like rust rubbed raw against sandpaper.
A whimper escaped Jack-slipped free through the cold fingers against his own mouth.

"Found you."

Jack couldn't even scream as the rebar slammed over his head, knocking him out cold.
When Jack came to, he found himself lying on the stone floor of one of the museum's larger workshops. Vats of broiling wax lined the walls and tubs filled the spaces in between.

His legs were ziptied together at the ankles and thighs, hands tied behind him from the elbows down.
Struggling only dug the plastic deeper into his skin and Jack cursed as he noted the sticky feel of blood on the back of his neck. The hit to his head must've been harder than he thought.

He twisted, trying his best to wriggle, only to stop as fingers fisted in his hair.
"Finally awake?" Talon asked, jerking Jack up.

Jack flopper feebly, unable to move with the hand in his hair. At his silence, the rebar came up, whacking him across the middle. The air left Jack's lung in a puff before he was unceremoniously dropped to the floor.
"You're lucky to still be alive," Talon hummed.

"Don't expect me to thank you." Jack panted, trying to loosen the ties.

The way Talon turned back to him could only be predatory. The rebar came back, this time to tap on Jack's knee.

"I'm going to ask a few questions Jack,
"and I expect you to answer them truthfully."

"Or what?" Jack snarled. As soon as he said that, he knew he had made a mistake.

Talon brought the rebar down, /hard/. The crunch of broken bone was overshadowed by Jack's scream.
Pain and a cold wave flooded his senses. Trembles wracked his body despite the more rational part of Jack's mind insisting he stay still to save what was left of his knee.

"So, as I was saying..." Talon circled around front, fingers tangling in Jack's hair to lift his head up.
"I need to ask a few questions. And my first question is, where's your phone?"

Jack tossed his head, trying to dislodge the fingers. The rebar at his neck made him still. "Why d'you need it?" Jack rasped.

"We both know that you're not as dumb as you look, unfortunately...
"So I need your phone. Just to check that you haven't recorded our little talk earlier today and that you haven't told anyone else." Talon's tone hardened on the last words, the rebar pressing harshly against Jack's bobbing adams apple.
Jack whimpered, pain and cold overtaking him momentarily. Talon shook him, jarring a shout out of his throat.

"Answer the question Morrison. And maybe, I'll make your death painless."

"As painless as you made Maria Reyes'?" Jack spat
Talon hummed "Maybe."

"Fuck you." It was over. Jack knew he was dead, he dredged up the last of his stubborn confidence and glared into Talon's eyes. "Kill me if you want, but the police know.And they /will/ find me!"

Talon dropped him, his face hardened.
"I sent them your little outburst from this afternoon," Jack went on. Anything to keep speaking. If he was still talking, he was alive. "The police know, and they have the means to prove Gabe's innocence, you aren't-"

"Shut up!!" The rebar came down again,
Slamming hard into Jack's shoulder. Another scream escaped.

"I'll kill you, just as I killed all those other people." Talon snarled. One of his hands curled into Jack's now blood soaked shirt, dragging him back to a wax filled tub.
"I can run away, no one will know."Talon went on, more to himself. Jack couldn't protest, couldn't even move from the pain.

The fingers in his shirt tightened. Jack closed his eyes, desperate not to see the moment Talon tossed him into the heat. He felt the murderer prepare.
And then a weight was slamming them both sideways. Jack hit the floor with a breathless wheeze, his broken body rippling with eddies of pain beginning to turn numb. Shock.

He tried to focus through the waves of nausea and mind blearing aches. His ears honed in on a voice.
"Get the fuck away from him!"

/Gabe/ Jack thought.

"You! How-!?" Talon sputtered. He was caught off as another thump echoed through the room. A solid punch from what Jack could tell. Then the sound of a collapsing body.
"Gabe...?"Jack tried. He wheezed as hands turned him over gently, a soft brown gaze filling his vision.

"Right here Jack." Gabe assured, a hand stroking down his cheek. "You're going to be...ok. Fuck, you're going to be ok." He seemed to be flapping his hands uselessly over Jack
Unable to decide how best to deal with the broken bones and blood pouring from Jack's shattered knee.

"Hands," Jack gasped, trying to show Gabe the zipties. The other man caught on, quickly locating a knife to cut him loose.

"We need to get you out of here," Gabe pressed
"get you to help." But no matter how he tried, he couldn't quite lift Jack without jostling the heavy wounds. Jack ended up propped up against the other man.

From his new vantage point, he could see Talon lying on the floor, out cold.

"Gabe?"

"Shut up, save your strength."
"Gabe." Jack tried again.

"I said, shut up!" Something in Gabe's voice caught. Jack twisted his head. Even through the haze, he could see the sheen over Gabe's eyes.

He was dimly aware of planting a kiss on Gabe's lips. And more aware when Gabe pulled him in, sobbing.
The waxy, plasticine taste of Gabe's lips and the blood was overwhelming. Thick in his nose as Gabe parted and continued kissing over his head.

"Do you have /any/ idea how scared I was when you said to 'be at peace?" Gabe asked
"Fuck, I couldn't even /move/ and you were speaking like you were saying good bye-" Gabe choked, pressing his face into Jack's golden hair. "And then hours later when I can finally move I hear you scream. Do you know how fucking scary that is!?"
"I'm sorry." Jack whispered, nuzzling back as best as he can. "I-"

"Well you two are just rays of sunshines aren't you?" Talon's snarl made them both jerk.

There was a blur of colour and then Gabe was rushing to cover Jack. His scream thrummed in Jack's ears.
"Gabe!!" Jack yelled. He tried to get his fingers into Gabe's shirt but the other man was being pulled away.

Talon stood over him, rebar raised. The guy had a black eye but that was doing little to stop him as he brought the rebar down on the wax statue again.
"I killed you once," Talon snarled "I can do it again!"

Gabe curled in on himself under the onslaught, trying to protect himself against the blows. Despite not being made of blood and bone, the rebar left dents in Gabe's metal and wax body, misshaping it, breaking it.
Jack tried to crawl towards Gabe, to get to him. But his own wounds were too severe and it would be a wonder what he could do in his broken state.

But he couldn't just watch Gabe get hurt by the very man who got him killed...there had to be something he could do. Something...
The bubbling of the tub of wax beside him caught his attention. Jack instantly recalled when Gabe's lip had become disfigured by cig smoke. How he had been able to fix the injury with putty and paint.

This was more extreme. But Jack was out of options.
At least Talon won't be able to touch Gabe.

Leaning in, he got his one good arm onto the lip of the tub and began tugging. The metal porcelain giant refused to move. Jack railed his fist on the metal fixings.

Despite the pain, he hit it again and again. It /had/ to come loose!
There was just no other way.

Finally the tubes tying the tub down groaned. The metal fixings were slicked with Jack's blood, torn loose and unable to hold the weight contained within the tub.

Talon and Gabe both jerked their heads up at the unworldly groan that roared again
One side of Gabe's cheek had been torn apart, fragments of wax shredded and barely holding on. The sight of it broke Jack's heart.

He wouldn't let Talon hurt Gabe anymore. With a final heave, he pulled the tub over. Tonnes of melted wax spilt from within, hot and steaming.
Even as the tub smashed to the ground, shaking the earth, more splattered into the air. Talon yelled in a mix of anger and pain, lurching away from the oncoming tide.

Gabe, unable to move, stared as the wax coated his hands and feet.
Oddly enough, he didn't look affected by the heat and instead, when he lifted his hand, the melted wax had moulded itself to the shape of his fingers.

They were a bit thicker with excess wax, but it was working, it was repairing Gabe.
"You--" the snarl jerked Jack's gaze away from Gabe. Talon was lurching along the spill of melted wax with a single minded focus.

The blond didn't even have time to yell as the murderer's hand clamped around his neck hoisting him high enough to be pressed against the flipped tub
"This. Is for being an annoyance!" Talon snarled, the rebar raised high.

His cheek pressed into the tub's surface, Jack scrunched his eyes tight, bracing for the blow.

It never came.

A wet gurgle escaped the man holding him down.
The hand on his neck went limp, falling away, Jack slumped against the tub and only managed to twist enough to watch as Gabe, now a full wax monster - coated with sloughing, melted, wax that covered his lower half and more hanging off his body - wrenched Talon away.
Gabe slammed Talon against the wall, holding him there just as the latter had done to Jack only moments before. A waxy, dripping hand came up. Jack watched as claws grew from the fingers, lengthening to sharp points.

"This. Is for my mother." Gabe growled.
Jack's eyes widened. Fear and adrenaline warring with morals and rationality.

It would be what Talon deserved, impaled by the very vengeful spirit he helped to create. But even if Gabe's appearance was that of a monster now, that wasn't who he /was/.

"Gabe, wait!" Jack yelled.
The claws that had come terrifyingly close to Talon's neck halted.

"What!?" Gabe snarled. The wax statue was so close to his revenge. So close, he could almost /feel/ the blood pouring out of Talon's hated body. Revelled, in that anticipation. And now Jack wanted to stop him.
"If you kill him," Jack wheezed "You're giving him the easy way out." He paused, panted against the pain. When Gabe seemed to want to argue, Jack went on "If you kill him, seven other spirits and their families won't get the justice and closure they deserve."
/That/ stopped Gabe. It brought to mind his own mother. He thought of the families of those murdered. He wanted desperately to take his revenge.

But it wasn't as strong as his desire to make sure everyone hurt got something back from Talon's inevitable trial.
Growling incoherently, Gabe's wax body shifted. A great lump sloughed off to swamp over Talon and hold the struggling murderer down. The wax shifted, held down his hands and feet until Talon could barely move an inch, much less scream when a wax tendril covered his mouth.
That done, Gabe moved towards Jack. An awkward scene as his legs had disappeared into the melted wax and his torso moved along the top as if it floated on it.

Jack had to hold back his giggles as Gabe finally settled beside him, pulling him close, mindful of the wounds.
"Something funny?" Gabe asked. "Or is it the blood loss?"

"Both?" Jack chuckled. "You look like a snail with a slime body."

Jack laughed harder as Gabe slapped him gently on the head with a slime hand.
With the immediate threat finally over, Jack slumped against Gabe, head pillowed on his shoulder. He was achy, floaty from bloodloss and pain.

Gabe was a warm weight against his back and warmer still when the slimey wax shifted to form a tight cast and tourniquet over his knee.
The wax was no longer burning hot, but warm enough that Jack found himself drifting off under the blanket-like feel of it. Still, he held on to the last of his wakefulness and drew circles on the back of Gabe's arms - arms that were wrapped tight around his middle.
With the end of the case, the capture of Talon... Jack didn't want to think that Gabe would be leaving soon. Every story he's heard of of spirits inhabiting things all led to them leaving after whatever quest was fulfilled. Gabe never mentioned it, but it seemed...logical.
He pulled Gabe's arms tighter around himself, laced their fingers together. Gabe nuzzled Jack's cheek gently when a whimper escaped the blond from jostling his own broken shoulder.

"Jack?" Gabe asked.

"S'nothin."

"You're doing that puppy pout." Gabe pointed gently.
"Are your wounds bothering you?" Gabe asked "I can try and get you to-"

"No!!" Jack yelped. He didn't want to leave, didn't want to think of what would happen after he had left the museum and the sun rose. "I-I'm just..."

"Jack?" Gabe tried again "what's wrong?"
/Nothing/. If Jack could take time and stop it in every sense of the word he would halt it right here despite the pain so that he could be in Gabe's arms just for a while longer.

But that's not going to happen. Time's ticking and Jack wants to at least say a proper goodbye.
So he twists himself as best as he can and wraps himself around Gabe like a koala does to a tree. Nuzzled his head under Gabe's chin, and whispers "I..." He hesitated. "Don't go."

Gabe stiffens at that but returns the embrace, folding Jack deeper into hardening warm wax.
What can Gabe say to that? It's over isn't it? Talon lies caught, the police will be here in the morning and Jack will be taken away for questioning and for his leg to be treated. Justice will be served and Gabe will be... Free?
Free...To an unknown he does not wish to know.

His life had been taken away from him with a suddenness he did not deserve and now it would end again with the completion of his 'quest'.

Myth speaks of spirits resting peacefully after that. But that wasn't what Gabe wanted.
Not by a long shot. But it isn't what Jack wants to hear. Jack who has helped him and held him despite his odd body, and difficulties, and...despite scaring him on the first night.

Gabe smiles to himself at the memory. The flying notebook that started everything.
He recalls their first meeting. And shouldn't it end the same? Gabe wraps his pinky around Jack's, lifting it up so they can both see the interlocked fingers.

"I promised, didn't I?" Gabe whispered "To visit again after this is all over?"
He feels more than hears Jack's sniffles. The blond tries to part their pinkies but Gabe holds fast.

"Don't make promises you can't keep," Jack whispered. He was teetering on an edge; didn't want to hope. But he really wanted /to/.
Gabe lifts Jack's chin with his free hand, pressing a kiss to the tear stained lips. He couldn't taste the salt of the tears, or the inherent tastes that made Jack up. But the feel of the other man was enough, or so he told himself.

"Sealed with a kiss." Gabe chuckled.
/Now/ he had to hold onto that promise, no matter what. Or so Gabe hoped, God willing.

They drift off like that, the pain and exhaustion finally overtaking Jack until all he could do was sink against Gabe.

Gabe held on for as long as he could, counting Jack's breath,
Until he finally felt the telltale signs of whatever otherworldly power held him here. It seemed to beckon him and no matter how hard he fought, Gabe felt himself being tugged away; like a child with his hand in his mother's.

He planted one last kiss to Jack's sleeping form
Before fading. With his departure, the wax that previously shifted with life, stilled. Coldness seeped to replace the warmth. The arms that held Jack remained, but they no longer moulded themselves to better lock them together.

They just held, as if it was a job they were left.
Ana opens the doors of the museum the next morning to find broken glass across the halls and dents in the floor as if a piece of metal had struck.

She next finds blood, and Jack, unconscious and bleeding, his wounds held together by a cast of wax.
She calls the police and ambulance. Impatience leads her to pace the room while she waits. As she does so, she noticed a flickering red light in the corner of the room. When she goes to it, she finds that it is Jack's phone -if she recalls correctly.
The small device is still recording, big red light still going strong. Ana decides to leave it for the officials.

When Gerard finally arrives with paramedics in tow, he is followed by a cowboy Ana has never seen before.
She directs them to the phone in the corner and joins them in watching the playback.

Gerard mumbles to himself throughout and halfway through leaves them to make sure Talon -who is in the process of being removed from his wax prison- is arrested and securely brought away.
The cowboy is looking just a little sickly at all the sight of blood in the recording, but just as suddenly screams 'Gabe!' when a new figure enters the frame.

Ana squints, and sure enough, the figure is an exact replica of the wax statue that still holds Jack.
She doesn't know how it moved and she's not about to ask; once a veteran, she knows better than to question spirits and the dead.

Still, it makes her lift her head and narrow her eyes at the wax statue. A statue that paramedics were taking saws to to pull Jack out.
The cowboy beside her blanched. "You can't let them do that!" He said.

"Jack needs medical care." Ana replied

"Their cutting Gabe apart! He moved! He saved your friend's life! You can't just-"

"I'm well aware of that Mr.," Ana snapped.
It pains her too. To see one of the statues she has come to recognise as part of the museum be destroyed in such a way. Each grate of the saw on Gabe's wax statue cuts deep. But the paramedics need to reach Jack, and this was the only way.
Jack would probably hate it too. From what Ana saw of the recording, they had become close. Jack would break if he knew the last remnants of Gabe was destroyed to save him.

Beside her, the cowboy had begun to shed tears. "I watched Gabe die y'know, friend honour, and all that.
"This ain't right." He finished with a sniff.

"Mr..."

"Jesse," the cowboy supplied

"Jesse," Ana nodded. "This-" she gestured at the mass of wax "-was never right. Your friend was innocent and placed in the wrong section of my museum. A wrong I hope to rectify.
"I'll have the wax workers salvage what they can of Gabe's statue and have him remade. Your friend will get a place of honour in this museum."

"Gabe doesn't need to be made a statement," Jesse snarled "he doesn't need to be a reminder that the police couldn't do their jobs!"
Ana settled a hand on the young man's shoulder. "I never said he would be that." She said "From what I know, Gabriel Reyes was never given a proper burial. Let me make this for him, so that those that knew him.../know/ him, can pay their respects."
Her eyes darted to the blond now being tied to a stretcher and taken away.

Jesse followed her gaze. His shoulders sagged when he realised her meaning and nodded. It would be nice to have a place to leave flowers for Gabe...

But it doesn't lessen the blow of his departure.
When Jack finally wakes up, he has one leg in a cast, one shoulder wrapped /really/ well, and a body that felt like it was on fire. None of it hurt as much as the fact that Gabe was gone.

The doctor came in soon after to tick off his injuries; shattered knee, broken shoulder,
Minor concussion from a blow to the head...Jack listens like a man adrift.

When a cowboy comes in soon after, Jack perks up a little. The man introduces himself as Gabe's friend; Jesse McCree. They talk at length about what happened and he brings Jack up to speee.
"Talon's being trialed as we speak," Jesse tells him "He's not getting out of this one. I've given my statement and that vid you provided Gerard with did the rest. There's enough there to convict him a few times over."

"And Gabe?"
The look Jesse gives him speaks a thousand words. The feeling of aimlessness and sadness comes back and it's all Jack can do not to roll over and go back to sleep.

"Ana's giving him a special section within the museum as a kind of grave." Jesse says
"I'll take you there when you're better."

Jack nods at that, a lump in his throat.
It takes Jack almost a week before he's fully ready to be anywhere. His shattered knee and shoulder forced him to use a wheelchair and the concussion had left him with migraines that peaked in cold weather.

When he finally goes to visit Gabe, Jesse pushes his wheelchair into the
Small room dedicated to Gabriel Reyes, and leaves him there. There are little candles at the wax statue's feet and someone had previously come by to leave flowers too.

Jack hadn't brought anything. Except perhaps for the pen in his shirt pocket.
Jesse must've known Jack's intention because he didn't come back even during the museum's closing time. Jack was left blissfully alone with the wax statue as the hours tucked by.

One hour. Two.

The shadows lengthened and the darkness under the statue's eyes deepened.
Gabe did not move when the midnight hour came, nor in the hour after that, and after that. By predawn, Jack's migraines had returned with a vengeance and there were tears trying to drown his eyes. Gabe hadn't moved an inch or said anything.

It hurt.
"You said you'd come visit me," Jack cried. "You /promised/.

When Gabe still did not move, Jack took the pen out from his shirt pocket, took aim, and threw. The pen bounced off the wax statue's nose before falling to the floor and joining the rest of the offerings.
Jack left after that, unable to bear the sightless eyes and unanimated lifelessness that marked all statues. Jesse was waiting for him outside, smoking a cigarette in the rising sun's light.

He offered Jack a stick and together they watched the sun climb higher in the sky.
Life resumed to normal after that. Or as normal as can be.

With Talon's arrest and murders brought to light, the office became busier as they dealt with their own PR. Jack worked overtime to help untangle the mess that had resulted from the chaos.
For many nights, he could be found in the office sitting beside a desk piled high with papers. It kept his grief at bay, stopped the nightmares of staring statues and bloody tubs lined with rebars.

Leftover residues. Trauma from that night. Jack took it all and buried it.
He wouldn't think about Gabe, wouldn't think about the fleeting moments and touches that...

And he had done it again. Jack looked down onto the paper he had been editting and found it soaked with tears, the ink splotched and unreadable in the face of his heartbreak.
His hand shook as he put the paper aside and set about printing another copy. He didn't even notice when his Boss knocked against his door, eased it open, and lounged against the doorframe.

"It's morning Jack." Boss said in greeting

Jack only nodded.
"Did you go home at all last night?"

That, caught Jack's attention. He looked to the clock, and then back to his boss. Against the stern eyes, Jack shook his head guiltily.

Boss sighed, fingers rubbing between his brows.
He didn't look annoyed, just stressed. Stepping forward, the man placed a travel mug on the desk. "Got you some tea," Boss said "Here's hoping it'll calm you down enough so you can get some shut eye."

Jack only snorted.

As Boss turned to leave the office, he paused.
From a pocket in his shirt, the man removed a pen and lobbed it at the desk. The little item rolled across Jack's papers to sit between his suddenly trembling fists.

"I should also mention you have a guest wanting to see you in the foyer" Boss turned to leave "try to sleep, ok?"
Getting to the foyer had never taken longer or was more difficult than with one good arm and a wheelchair. Hours seemed to have past by the time Jack managed to roll himself out into the open halls of the waiting areas, the pen in a shirt pocket.
The morning sun was streaming in through the floor length windows, making it hard to see. Still, when Jack squinted against the light he could just make out two figures rising from the couches of the foyer lounge.

One wore the trademark hat Jack had come to associate with Jesse.
The other, was huddled deep in a familiar hoodie of comforting grey. It was he who started up and began moving forward - towards Jack.

The light bounced off the sturdy shoulders bobbing with each step closer, glanced off deep chocolate skin peeking from under grey cloth.
When the head of the stranger finally tilted just right to reveal flashing white teeth and warm brown eyes, Jack lurched to his feet.

The wheelchair buckled from under him. Wheels skidding with the tilt in weight and Jack's unbalanced form.
He was on a crash course to hit the cold marble floor- surely a wake up call for spending too long in the office moping over something that would never be.

But what Jack hit, was not hard, nor was it cold. Warm hands circled around him - steadying him, holding him tight.
"I promised, didn't I?" Gabe rasped into Jack's ear. His voice was smooth, a syrup that soothed the aches of the past few days and brought new tears to Jack's eyes.

"You...ass..." Jack whispered. The words were lost as he pressed them into the folds of Gabe's hoodie.
Jack's fingers twisted in the soft cotton. Gone was the plasticine smell of wax that clung Gabe. Now he smelt of coffee; of cig smoke and cinnamon rolls and sun-dried laundry in the wind.

It was real. So real. Fingers eased under his chin and lifted him up.

"Jack?" Gabe asked.
Jack wanted those lips against him, the warmth they offered and the temptation of comfort. But he held off, teetering close enough yet holding himself back. It was as if his whole sanity balanced atop what he wanted to ask. So, gathering himself, Jack asked

"Are you staying?"
Gabe smiled, a genuine thing complete thing with crow's feet at the corner of his eyes. He took their pinkies and interwined them, holding them up just as a ray of sun lanced through the foyer.

"Pinky promise," Gabe replied, before leaning down to kiss Jack.
- fin -
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