A/N: Thanks to all those that read this! If there's anyone interested, I actually have another story started, and will post when I figure out where it's going. Please leave a comment or complaint if you can!
EpilogueMr. James frowned at the video feed before him. His son's namesake was barely recognizable–drowning whatever problems he'd had in alcohol and more bad decisions. He'd last seen the man as a struggling single father years ago; had lost contact with him when the older Jake Tripp decided that he no longer wanted to be a part of his friend's world. Despite the fact that he'd managed to track the man down through phone contact, Mr. James didn't feel too much pride for himself.
At the moment, Jake had his head bowed, shaking fingers curling through his graying hair. He looked much older than he actually was at that moment; feeble, old and desperately in need of another drink.
"I don't know what else to tell you," Jake was saying, his voice the product of too much strong liquor and cigarettes. His eyes were garishly red and bloodshot–his teeth rotted at the gums. It was a hideous sight from what he had been when they'd last seen each other. "It's been quiet this end. Save for the fuckin' paps that keep bringin' up old shit. You get that kid to stay with you?"
"McKinley lives on his own," Mr. James answered quietly. "I have found his background satisfactory, though the contacts you gave me. While I doubt his ability, at least he is of age where he can be where I cannot."
"Don't know nothin' about that jerk, but he's good at what he does," Jake muttered, blinking bag heavy eyes sluggishly. He used to be attractive back then–but the years had been much too harsh. "Came recommended when you asked. Background, I checked personally. No parents. Found an idol in your baby's momma, so he's a bit biased. Might hate on you."
"...He seems to work well with Jake. I didn't realize how much my boy exhausted me until he came around."
Jake started coughing, hard phlegmy coughs that made Mr. James' stomach curl. When he wiped his hand, there was a line of mucus from one of his nostrils. Mr. James indicated his own face until Jake caught the hint and wiped his nostril with the back of one dirty sleeve. "Seen my son around them parts? Fuckin' scoundrel never comes around his old man, anymore..."
"He's back in New Park," Mr. James said. "From what I heard."
"Them drug runners you cut down are being missed by some people. But they ain't going to try anythin', knowin' you're still around. Shame 'bout your son, though. Had a lot a potential." Jake's eyes shifted slightly, seeing something that Mr. James couldn't. "Could have been like his mom. When she was normal. She was all right when she was normal."
"I'd rather he have nothing to give to people. I'm satisfied with the lack of ability he has.."
Jake was quiet for a few moments, running his hand over the grizzle over his swollen cheeks. He stared at something beyond the screen, lost in thought. Mr. James felt sorry for the man, but he didn't show it.
"Rumors are hitting the streets," Jake muttered, clearing his throat a couple of times before leaning over to hack up a nasty wad. "'Bout who's making their way up there. It's kinda obvious the kid don't have any powers, so I don't see why they're makin' the trek...just ta let ya know. Maybe they're curious about you, now. Revenge never dies. Heh. Asshole. You seen Smith around, yet?"
Jake focused on him for a few moments, then frowned deeply. "The sidekick. It–never knew if she were alive or dead. But you wouldn't know she was there. Turned...downright ugly in the end. Probably died. The Burns are because of her, you know. The Burns...drifting acres of nothingness, full of power...fuckin' feds and Alien authorities have no idea how to get in there without being fried. Can't find nothing decent in that neighborhood. Eh. Live near one. You can still hear the screams–"
Mr. James thought of Yoshida Smith. Samsara's 'partner'. The world had stopped asking about her after Samsara's disappearance. He'd always figured the woman had died of loneliness, or at least an overdose. He recalled the last part of Jake's report. "You don't know who it is that's coming this way...?"
"I don't know, I didn't pay attention!" Jake barked at him, then lowered his tone, searching the floor for something that required uncoordinated gropes. Grunting, he stilled. He looked at Mr. James with a quiet stare. "Not that it matters, anyway. Nothin' does. Did you see this city? Fuckin' dump. Full of...people that wander, day to day, oblivious of their mortality...Burn sites still burning...scores of blocks still abandoned...bodies still being pulled from the rubble..fucking hostiles still roaming the streets, undeported and unreported..."
Jake's incoherent rambling became nothing but a monotonous drone, and Mr. James filtered that out. It was such a shame what had happened to his old friend. He wondered when the man would die, and if anybody would ever know in time.
The man deserved more than a death that would only be discovered upon the smell. Sighing, Mr. James strained to hear what he could from his son downstairs in the den, hearing only Bart's deep complaints and Jake's cheeky laughs, accompanied by loud thumps that didn't sound so good. The walls shook and something broke with a glass effect that had an eye twitching. Upon Gone yelling at them both for some order, Mr. James focused back on the screen in time to see Jake draining a bottle of its very last drop.
"Please keep checking in with me," he said quietly. "Even if it is to ramble."
Jake stared at him for some time, then cut the transmission.