2007-10-20: The Hand of a Higher Power

Starring:

Jack_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Father Patrick "Paddy" Brady

Summary: Jack learns that when you confess a string of murders to Father Brady, you do not tell him that you intend to do it again.

Date It Happened: October 20th, 2007

The Hand of a Higher Power


Saint James Cathedral, Brooklyn, New York

St. James Cathedral is quiet at this time of night, but Father Brady has a visitor in the guise of one Jack Derex. The man adjusts his high-necked collar for the moment, slipping into the booth and making a sign of the cross before settling into the seat. Leaning back, he looks through the screen where Jack has managed to find himself, and waits for the words. Because the words are important. Confession wasn't just a sacrament, it was a ritual of words and

Now that he's been off the road for several days, Jack is finally starting to heal up. His bruises are beginning to fade, his cuts are beginning to close, and his limp is far less pronounced than it was when he got back to the city. Dressed in a snug white t-shirt, fitted jeans, and a black peacoat, he has his hands clasped in front of him and his forehead is leaning against the closed door to his side of the booth. "Bless me Father," his begins, his voice creaky and laced with sarcastic humor. "For I have sinned a lot."

"I figured," Father Brady remarks, his Irish accent making his tone all the drier. He looks through the screen at that, and he exhales. "Very well then, son. Confess your sins." Truly, a more diplomatic way to say: What did you do now, Derex? Hey, he has to be a little bit professional about this, even if he and Jack have shared a bottle of Jameson or two in more than one occasion.

"You can't tell anybody anything I tell you, right?" Suspiciously, Jack glances at Father Brady's silhouette through the screen that seperates them. "If you do, I'm pretty sure that God gets pissed at you and picks you last for the big football game. I know that I'll get pissed at you." There's a shuffling sound from his side of the enclosure as he fidgets around nervously.

He sighs. "You never asked me that before so whatever you've been up to in the last several weeks, Derex, must be really bad." Ice blue eyes meet Jack's steadily from behind the wood-etched screen. With another exhaled breath, he quotes: " 'The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.' Code of Canon Law, 983 section one. It governs Catholic priests when administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation." Confession, in this case.

"Good." That seems to be all the reassurance Jack needs. He takes a deep breath and launches into his story. It's a dark recounting of murders comitted, hostages taken, and friends betrayed. A bank robbery, a prison break motivated by revenge, and brothers killing brothers. He ends it by grimly stating, "And worst of all, I think I'm hooked on drugs."

"Jack…" Father Brady rubs his face. "You know even if I wanted to, I can't tell the police about this. At least tell me you didn't do all of that willingly. And the drugs? Since when were you addicted to drugs outside of alcohol?" There is a pause. He doesn't even know just how much penance he can administer to this confession without having Jack sit here for hours. "I suppose asking you to promise me never to do those things again would be futile, wouldn't it?" he asks dryly. It's not like he's giving up on Jack….as a shepherd, he can't. But he is familiar enough with Jack's proclivities to know he can't make such a promise. Still, he has to try.

"Hey." Jack cuts Brady off with a growl and a brisk wave. "We all have our skillset. I did what I have to do, and I plan to keep doing it, and doing it well." Cleverly left out of Jack's tale were any mentions of his biological father, no details about his brothers, nothing that might better help explain why things happened the way they did. Scowling, he crosses his arms over his chest and kicks his feet like a stubborn, pouting child. "And I said I think I'm addicted to drugs. I'm not sure what I've been taking, only what I think—you know, nevermind. We can talk about that next week."

"Plan…to keep on doing it…" is said quietly. And then, there's silence. Ice blue eyes narrow. Before Jack knows it, a hand SHOOTS out through the wooden-etched screen, grabbing Jack by the collar and pulling back to try and ram Jack's forehead into the wooden frame repeatedly.

THUD.
THUD.
THUD.

The camera cuts to the outside of the St. James Cathedral's confessional booth. It is serene, quiet, empty this time of night. There are candles flickering from their votive stands. The crucifix in the front looms, surrounded by the serene faces of the Virgin Mary and a choir of angels….

The confessional booth explodes outwards, the bodies of two men flying from it as a good fashioned, not-quite-drunken Irish brawl commences. "How the hell am I going to administer penance for all of that, lad?!" bellows the priest, PUNCHING Jack square in the jaw. "If I did it the old fashioned way you're going to be in here FOREVER!"

The punch lands hard, driving Jack to the floor with an audible THUMP. He groans, and spits out a mouthful of blood, his hands pawing and scrabbling around on the floor as he tries to drag himself out from under the priest. When one hand bumps into a heavy, leather-bound bible, he seizes it up and whispers, "Sorry, God. He started it."

WHACK. Jack belts the padre in the side of the head with the bible and shouts, "Don't think I won't kick your ragged old ass just because you're nice to orphans and people with herpes!"

WHAM! Father Brady goes down. He's older, shorter - but back in the day, the old man had been a pretty capable underground prizefighter back in Galway. A little slower now than he had been those many decades ago, but he does kick, with both legs, on the back of Jack's knees when he manages to stagger backwards. Just to help things along, because he's a helper like that, like he said. "What th'bloody 'ell are you talkin' about? I'm NICE— " And then, he launches himself forward, firing a jab with his left fist, and a hard, cross-punch from his right. "To EVERYBODY." Yes. This is why he's beating the crap out of Jack in some modern version of penance in his own parish. "And you better not have herpes."

One-TWO! Both shots land, driving Jack back to the deck. "Shit," he groans. "You've got bony knuckle like a girl. And I don't have herpes, but that hooker I caught you with in Atlantic City probably did!" He skitters backward on his hands and his backside, bumping into overturned pews, the podium, and a mic stand. When he knocks the stand over, he scoops up the microphone and throws it at Father Brady. "Oh, that's right, she had PROBLEMS. There, talk to God with that!"

"Yeah?" Father Brady breathes, his shoulders hunched a bit and both his hands up in a stance. Who knew the old Padre could hold his own? It was just like that Bob Barker scene in Happy Gilmore. "Well you whine like one. Should I start calling you Candy? Susan? Barbara?" He pauses and squints at him. "….nah, you don't really look like a Bar— OOOF!" The mic bounces off his forehead, and he staggers backwards, falling over another pew near him. Before Jack can get up, however, he grabs the mic and throws it back at him.

The grille of the mic catches Jack in the throat, cutting off a curse and effectively quieting him. Gasping for air, he leans forward and sticks his head between his knees in an attempt to catch his breath. "Hey Padre?" It's a painful effort for him to speak loud enough for Brady to hear him, but he manages. He even laughs. "My God can beat up your God."

Panting, raggedly breathing, the old man stands up. "Y…yeah…?" Brady wheezes, wiping his forehead and the blood from his lip with his sleeve. He grins back….until Jack says what he does.

Oh dear. He broke the third commandment.

And then? He charges forward. No, he doesn't wait for Jack to rest. Hell, he doesn't wait for his older lungs to get much self-sustaining oxygen either. With a roaring battle cry, he launches himself at Jack, tackling him to the ground and landing another punch. "My girly bony knuckles can beat up your girly bony ass!"

Jack turns his head into the blow, taking it on his crown rather than somewhere more vital like his nose. Everyone knows Irishmen keep their brains in their middle nut, after all. It still stings like a bitch. Jack's roar mirrors Brady's. High on morphine and fistfighting with a priest in his own parish, he cries out the first insult he can think of as he grabs the older man by the collar and butts foreheads with him. "When you introduced me to your family, your daughter tried to have sex with me! Och… Your head is hard." Groaning, he slumps back against the floor.

THWACK! "SONUVAB— !" There was a crack, the priest's nose gushing blood as he pinches his nose with his fingers, staggering back a bit from Jack, but he's standing over the Irishman as he slumps on the floor. "And that…that wasn't my daughter," he wheezes, and his voice sounds nasal since he's pinching his nose. "That was your mother." With a groan, he slumps in a seated position, near the steps leading to the tabernacle, hunching over. "…. 'sides, lad. Sure that was preferrable to the million Our Fathers and Hail Marys I would've asked you to perform as an act of contrition. Are you -contrite- enough?" He quirks a bloodied, white brow over the slumped, younger Irishman.

"Jesus!" Abashedly, Jack clears his throat from his prone position on the floor. "I mean yeah. I feel real bad. You've got gorgeous ceilings, you know? I never noticed that before." Dizzily, he props himself up into a half-sitting position and groans again, massages his sore neck and his forehead simultaneously. "Holy shit, Padre. I haven't had my ass kicked that bad since the last…" he trails off, then continues, his voice far quieter. "Since the last time my father caught me sneaking in drunk. Man. You got anything to drink here besides watered wine? I can pay you back for a little of that Jameson I owe you."

"Don't make me hit you again, boy," Father Brady huffs when he says the first word, but at the quieter words, he smirks, and glances down on the ground. "Heh. Me too. You gave me a pretty good workout there." He rolls a shoulder. "Not as young as I used to be, but 'm glad to know I can still crack one when I need it." He digs into his robe, and pulls out a flask. "Here." He tosses the silver thing on Jack. Worn, made out of silver, it was so old the initials embossed on it are worn down and faded….but if Jack inspects it, it's rather clear that the initials aren't Father Brady's own. "The good stuff. Should cure what ails you. Don't know about the drugs, but it's something. Warms the stomach."

"Good man." Jack unstoppers the flask and takes a healthy swig. When he's finished, he comes up gasping for air and passes it back to Brady, but not before trailing his sensitive fingertips across the faded engraving. Slowly, painfully, he hauls himself to his feet and claps the priest on the shoulder in a friendly fashion. "You pack a whallop for an old bastard," he admits, and there's a hint of respect in his tone. "Come on. Let's get out of here. I'll buy you a steak and tell you a little more about my 'vacation.'"

Father Brady takes the flask back, standing up and takes the slap on the shoulder in good grace. "I'll count it as part of your confession so I don't have to tell anyone anything. Including your girlfriend and your faux-niece," he remarks dryly. "But steak and potatoes sounds good." Medium rare steak. With loaded mashed potatoes. He hobbles towards the door. He'll have one of the altar boys clean the mess. "There's a good Irish place just down the street. Should introduce you to O'Connell anyway. He's a good guy. Gets the good stuff shipped over now and then." After a pause, he gives Jack a look. "I mean Guinness, before you get any ideas."

"Yeah. Shut up, Paddy. I'm buying, so that means you have to be nice." Jack gives Brady another playful cuff, then limps back out the way he came. Once again, he's creaky, bruised, and cut. Welcome to Catholicism. Elena told him it would be painful.

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