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So We Meet Again

Xander spent most of his day at Red Rooster, attempting to get the restaurant restored before the manager returned. The interior remained unchanged from the shootout, and it wasn't going to appear reconditioned anytime soon.

Midnight had arrived, and the moon had no struggle shining through the vibrant skies while the stars complemented its magnificence. Harlem’s setting wasn’t unknown to Xander, but it had been awhile since he paid a visit to his hometown and was present as someone other than the businessman his image embodied.

He had only just viewed Jade's text message where she asked to be picked up from the 17th precinct, but he was occupied with work and unable to depart any earlier. She assured him that she wasn’t in any hurry to leave, so he didn’t stress himself out about it.

There was no doubt in his mind that the strategy back at Grand Central Terminal landed both Jade and Mack into trouble. It was also no coincidence that Jade was located at the same precinct as his own brother, and he knew that it was would be complicated walking in and out because of that reason.

The communication between the two deteriorated as time went on, and they were mutually aware of what drove them to that point. One of them sought to mend that connection while the other was satisfied with how matters currently were.

Within half an hour, Xander appeared at the precinct. He removed his suit blazer and set it behind his car seat before leaving his vehicle and locking it. He paced through the doors and stroked the top of his head as if to prepare himself for the moments to come.

"Mr. Brown," Rick began once he surveyed Xander moving through the front doors. He was situated at the front desk, conversing with the receptionist as it appeared that he was helping her with a technical issue. "Nice to see you again."

"Rick," Xander greeted, not able to loosen up at the thought of being at the station and potentially running into some former acquaintances.

Xander walked through the main room without asking any questions as Rick followed with his eyes. There was an errand to run and that was simply to pick up Jade. The sooner he left the building, the better.

He ambled down the halls, passing by the single offices but not sensing any sign of Jade. It wasn't until he reached one of the interrogation rooms that he witnessed his brother, Jade, and Lacey through the glass, conducting an interview with an older man.

Jade stood pressed up against the far wall behind Andy and Lacey, keeping her arms crossed as she studied Pasternak who was settled across the table from her colleagues.

"Mr. Pasternak, why did you have a weapon in your hand after the collision?" Andy questioned, leaning his forearms onto the counter in front of him as he edged closer to the suspect.

Lacey tilted back into her seat and overlapped her arms, examining the man as her captain took the wheel in the grilling. Pasternak was easy to read, but she felt as though they would be incapable of getting anything out of him; at least not this early on. He played the game of providing subtle hints towards his intents well and acted as though he was the innocent victim.

"I told you, captain. I was merely doing what I was told to do," Pasternak stated, a terrified expression taking over his face as he unsuccessfully fumbled with his hands which were cuffed to the countertop.

"He's bullshitting," Lacey whispered, leaning closer to Andy in order to disclose her conclusion. “He knows exactly what he did and why he did it.”

Andy exhaled before reverting his attention onto the accused. He was growing tired of the monotony of Pasternak’s statements, especially since they had been going on for over an hour. Sooner or later, he had to move on to interrogating Pierce, and he recognized that reading someone he had encountered before would be a much simpler task.

After some time, Xander grew exasperated with the procedure and brusquely opened the door into the chamber. He wedged his head into the slight gap as everyone inside the room glimpsed over towards the disruption.

“Xander,” Andy uttered, upholding his seated position as he viewed his brother standing at the room’s entrance.

Xander regarded Jade, not allowing a word to escape from his lips as he slanted his head a tad to the side to let her know that it was time to go.

“Mr. Brown,” Pasternak blurted, his tone alleviating as he bothered with the chains around his wrists for a second time. “I’m a huge fan of your work.”

Pasternak tended his consideration to his hands, recalling that they were restrained so he was unable to remove himself from his chair. “I’d love to get a picture with you, but I appear to be in some trouble at this point in time.”

Xander rolled his eyes and absconded from his spot at the door, leaving it ajar as Jade trailed him out into the corridor. He was in no mood to engage in any friendly discussions, particularly with a supposed criminal.

“Lacey,” Andy started, getting up from his stool and rotating to his coworker before delivering the next orders. “Tell them to take him back to his cell.”

With the signaling of Andy’s head, Lacey got to her feet and pulled her walkie talkie from her belt, preparing to convey a message. “Boys, we’re ready to move Pasternak back into his cell.”

From the room’s exterior, Jade followed Xander as he headed for the front, anticipating to depart without any difficulty.

“Xander,” she articulated, receiving no response. Xander continued edging towards the exit, not slackening in his stride.

“Xander,” Jade voiced once again, still obtaining no reply from her friend.

On her following attempt, she hastened up and grasped a hold of his hand, turning him around as she said his name once more. “Xander, slow down.”

He released a suppressed sigh as he was now facing her, not glancing down to look her in the eyes because he was certain that she would advise him to act sensibly.

“We should go now,” he recommended, scanning down the hallway as he noticed his brother approaching.

“Hey, I’ll explain everything. Just don’t make this harder than it already is,” Jade promised, finally capturing his focus.

Xander calmed down somewhat, but he kept his guard up, knowing that he now had to converse with Andy. “Go wait in the car. I’ll be out in a few.”

He took the keys from his front pocket and passed them to Jade as her lips compressed. She was aware that the family reunion was not going to come about as communicative as she would have wished.

She took the keys and deviated from the building, peering back as she seized Andy’s attention. They nodded at one another from the distance as if to express their gratitude for one another’s assistance and to guarantee that things were going to stay composed.

“Xander,” Andy began as he moved in the direction of his brother. “It’s been five years since I last saw you and over a decade since we last had an actual conversation.”

“I’m really not up for anything right now, Andy,” Xander asserted, not eager to indulge in any unfinished business he had with his sibling.

“Look, it’s been a long time, and the past is the past. Can we just please move on, and-”

“It’s not that simple. Now I have to go.” Xander revolved around and progressed towards the exit in another effort to depart, but of course, his brother had one further utterance.

“I hope you’re willing to help us with this case. We could really use someone with your set of skills.” The quality of Andy’s voice remained unbothered in a way that he was requesting Xander’s help, but he would get the job done himself if he was required to.

Xander discontinued in his tracks and spun around, not pleased with the fact that his brother considered them being on the same side. “I don’t remember you having my back fourteen years ago, so I don’t think it’ll work out better this time around.”

With those concluding statements, Xander was out of the precinct, leaving his brother standing in the lobby as he watched the Bugatti leave the parking lot.

Of course, Andy wasn’t going to get across to his brother with that pitiable of a try. He could only anticipate that he would eventually be forgiven for something that happened so long ago; something that was the only right decision to make.

All was silent as the two were settled within the vehicle: one eyed the outside from the window while the other concentrated on the road. Jade had just concluded explaining the mission to Xander, and the both of them were unsure on how to carry on with their exchange.

The automobile proceeded down Lexington Avenue as Jade observed the individuals outdoors, attending to their own matters. Everything seemed so straightforward, but she had no clue what every single person's life was really like.

It was a Friday night in the city, and it was booming as everyone was now able to kick off their shoes, unwind, and have a good time until they were necessitated to come back to their frantic lifestyles.

Nevertheless, their lives couldn't have been as chaotic as hers. Even if they made daily errors, the consequences of their actions couldn’t amount to the brutality of hers.

Jade glanced over to Xander whose eyes persisted forward as he kept a hand on the steering wheel. That was when she broke the silence. "I know what you're going to say."

Xander swapped hands on the wheel, but he didn't offer her his full attention. He was at a loss for words because he never believed that he would be in his current position with his brother all over again.

"You don't have to take part in this," Jade turned back in the direction of her window. She couldn't compel her friend to play a role in something he didn't want to, but she knew that he wasn’t one to let an opportunity go that easily.

"Donnie owes you and Mack a lot. I need to be there in case something goes wide of the mark,” Xander deliberated, recognizing that his contribution was essential in order for the plan to run as effectively as possible.

"But Andy-"

"He owes me a lot." Xander uttered, knowing that he was the only one with an invite to the gala. "Tell Andy I only want you and Mack to receive my communications. At that point, whatever you two want to tell the cops doesn’t matter to me."

Jade shifted herself in her seat so that her body was facing Xander’s as she prepared to make another statement. "If you need someone to be angry at, be angry at me. Don't blame your brother for anything he didn't do."

"Jade, I'm not angry. This is just a lot for me to take in, especially since he and I don't have that great of a relationship."

Jade retained her focus on Xander as the lights from the outside illuminated the vehicle’s interior, shadows coming and going as their coupé advanced down the street. She didn’t detect any rage coming from him, and she was content that he had changed his mind on being included.

“You up for some food?” Xander enquired, switching lanes as his eyes peeked over towards the side mirror. “I think we’ve both had a long day.”

“Yeah, that sounds good,” Jade replied, pressing her lips together since her mind was still concentrated elsewhere.

“How does an extravagant view of the Empire State Building sound?” He questioned, looking over towards her as his expression improved. He couldn’t impair the mood, especially following the workday that he had, and he knew that Jade was also up for something other than the usual.

“With you, always.” They locked eyes for a brief moment as Jade presented a smile. One night making use of their leisure time couldn’t hurt, so she embraced the fact that she even had the chance.

“Why were you at the Chrysler Building this morning, Pierce?” Andy grilled, sitting across the counter from the suspect in the interrogation room.

“Captain, I’m going to make it simple for you: I wanted to eliminate the girl,” Pierce started, placing his forearms onto the table as best as he could, regardless of the manacles he had on his wrists and ankles. “Like I said earlier, she has to pay for what she’s done.”

“You still haven’t told me that part of the story. What exactly does she have to compensate for?”

“That,” Pierce commenced, creeping closer towards the opposite side of the table. “is something you’ll have to ask the boss himself.”

Andy had Pierce’s tactics memorized from a few years back when he examined him. The lack of personal space was geared towards making others feel ill at ease, something that never had an effect on Andy himself. “Your boss being Tesla?”

“Why don’t you wait and find out?” Pierce teased, not responding to the captain’s enquiries as seriously as he was expected to.

Right outside of the chamber, Lacey stood monitoring through the glass with her arms intersected. The atmosphere was still as the precinct began clearing out for the day, leaving only Andy, Rick, a few other officers, and herself.

“The tension’s too much for you?” Rick enquired, coming up alongside her as he presented a cup of coffee. “Don’t worry, it’s decaf.”

“Captain says I’m better off not being in there. Sounds like the two of them have quite a bit of history.” Lacey accepted the drink and took a sip, not taking her eyes away off from the questioning.

“If you ever get to hear that story from Andy himself, consider yourself very lucky.”

Back in the room, the interrogation persisted as both participants remained calm. Andy furrowed his brows as he attempted to work out a way to tear down Pierce’s defenses, but nothing occurred to him at that late hour.

“Can I get something to eat here? It’s been a long day,” Pierce requested as he leaned back in his chair.

Andy sighed and sat contemplating for a moment before getting to his feet, removing his radio from his duty belt and clutching it up to his mouth. “Take the suspect back to his cell and bring him something to eat.”

Afterwards, he exited the area as Pierce scrutinized him from afar. Andy shut the door behind him and looked to his coworkers with a dissatisfied expression on his face.

“Nothing, captain?” Rick questioned, lending Andy his undivided attention.

“Not yet, but I know his maneuvers. Give it a few days, and we’ll get something out of him.” Andy proceeded walking off to his office as his colleagues watched on before he remembered that he had one last thing to articulate. “You two should go home and get some rest. I’ll rally up the rest still in their cubicles.”

“You sure you don’t want any help with closing, sir?” Lacey asked, halting Andy in his tracks.

“I’ll be okay. We’ve talked to almost everyone so far, so we’re moving at a solid pace,” Andy declared, giving a side smile to Rick and Lacey before heading off. As of then, he was all set to return home and be with his family after the wild day that he had.

Refinery Rooftop remained packed as people from all over the city joined together for a night of good food, tasty drinks, and positive energy. The Empire State Building irradiated in the background while the golden lights put on a show for those whose minds wandered away from reality long enough.

Jade and Xander were seated at the bar located within the innermost portion of the terrace, enjoying their own plates of food and a beverage. For once, everything was calm as the eatery contained only those who were solely pleased to unwind after the workweek.

“So how do you fit into all of this?” Xander queried as he rotated in his seat to give his friend his complete attention.

“I guess we’ll wait and find out on Sunday.” Jade returned the gesture, looking to Xander and taking in his mannerisms.

“With your experience and training, they’d be insane not to take advantage of that.”

“Until some sort of proof comes up, I’m not sure using my skills will be appropriate at all.”

“You said Mack’s niece called you the other day, right?” Xander recollected as the piece of evidence crossed his mind. “You could use the message she left.”

“I turned in the recording already,” Jade breathed, tracing her fingers around the top of her drinking glass. “All the police have to do is figure out what to make of that.”

“The NYPD has to look into her murder. If I know my brother at all, I know that he’ll do anything for justice.” Xander correlated that characteristic with his brother even though it was the one that landed their relationship in a rough spot.

Jade understood Xander’s statement. Andy was always one to make the better decisions, being one of the most reliable people she had ever met. To think that he would shove a critical piece of evidence to the side would be impractical.

“When was the last time we actually hung out?” Xander uttered after a moment of reticence, taking a sip from his cocktail glass.

“You have the better memory between the both of us,” Jade teased as she placed a piece of fried calamari into her mouth. In all honesty, she couldn’t recall when the two of them last had a day to themselves, but she was pleased they picked up right where they left off.

“You’re right. It’s just-”

“Work,” Jade interjected. “I get it. We all have things that we devote our energy to, and you wouldn’t be you if you didn’t try to make the world a better place.”

Xander considered her remarks, and that was when an older statement of hers occurred to him. “Those words you said to me five years ago still come to me every now and again.”

Jade pondered about the utterances he was referring to, and it was obvious to her when the exact ones stumbled across her knowledge. “Xander Brown, always trying to save the world.”

She revolved her stool to her right to face him, observing his body language in the process. Despite the conditions of having Donnie on their backs and running with a plan that was extremely precarious, that instant was enough to make them feel at ease. They had to make preparations, mentally and physically, for Sunday, and being restless was not an option.

“I’m still thinking about what Pasternak said at the precinct,” Jade commented, thinking back to the moments before she departed from the station.

“That old man you guys were questioning? Those are the guys you try not to get involved with.” Xander took another sip of his drink, discerning exactly what Pasternak meant but declining to go into detail.

Jade shifted her upper body in closer to Xander’s as her voice adjusted down to a whisper, attempting to keep her words between the two of them. “Donnie has a way of getting under people’s skin, and he’ll use anyone’s past as a way to meet his goals.”

Shortly after, her phone buzzed. She accessed her blazer pocket and read the caller ID before taking the call, seeing it as urgent.

“Andy,” she initiated, receiving a quick glance from Xander before he faced forward, still not thrilled that she was taking police matters into her own hands.

He watched Jade’s brows furrow and jaw slightly drop as the other line articulated something that was all a murmur from his end. Whatever it was, it had to be significant to trigger her expression to alter so rapidly.

“I’m on my way.” She ended the call and turned her attention over to Xander who was on the verge of asking questions.

“What’s going on?” He enquired, displaying not only his sense of curiosity but also concern on his face.

“They found something.” Jade didn’t bat an eyelid as she delivered her statement, arranging to dash from her seat once her friend had processed the information along with the discomfort in her expression.

Without a second thought, Xander reached into his wallet and placed some cash onto the table before following Jade back to his vehicle. For an imperative phone call at such an unreasonable hour, this was something worth having a look at.

Mack woke up from his slumber, reaching for his mobile device on the nightstand beside his bed. It had been hours since he returned to his room, and he couldn’t come up with anything better to do than to rest his eyes for the remainder of the day. He had to free his mind from all of the recent chaos, and sleep seemed to do the trick; at least for a short time.

The only messages on his phone were from work, even though he wasn't demanded to return immediately. His two-week vacation felt more prolonged than he wanted it to, and he hoped that an extension wasn’t going to be necessary.

Going back to San Francisco with a target on his back was a sure way to get himself killed, especially since the marksman in that equation was someone he thought he knew personally. There had to be an end or else everything would stand no chance at ever being the same.

He elected to confide in Jade as she entrusted Andy. Overall, Mack remained doubtful about the undertaking, but whether it was the appropriate alternative or not, it was happening.

His paranoia was identical to how it was in the interrogation room, but in his eyes, it was justified. How could anyone expect him to accept the circumstances as they were if he had met the officers at the precinct only hours earlier?

He hoped that Jade was right to depend on her intuition. If she seized the risk and it wound up backfiring, it would mean that all of their efforts were for nothing.

Right before he set his phone back down, he received a call. The caller ID read Jade, so he cleared his throat and answered it without delay. “Jade?”

“Mack, they found something down at the Brooklyn Piers,” she revealed, the urgency in her voice sounding more profound than ever before.

“Jade, what’s going on?” Mack was uncertain of what to make of her report, and his drowsy state didn’t help his comprehension whatsoever.

“There’s a video file. They think it belonged to Brie.”

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