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Topic Title: Ash

Topic Description: Ash, Jack, Martha, Sam. Rated: A(VD, L)

Type of story: Short/Medium fic

Rating: A

Main Characters: Ash, Jack, Martha, Sam

Genre: Drama

Warnings: VD, L

Is Story being proof read: Yes

Summary: Ash's past catches up with him, as well as Jack and Martha.

I didn't know what to call this fic so I'm just calling it "Ash" (cause that's what I have it saved as in Word). It's in three parts, and is mainly about Ash and his relationship to Jack, Martha, and other people... and all their relationships to each other. If that makes sense...

There are a couple of violent and potentially distressing scenes in this, so beware. Also, the timeline's kind of all over the place so... um... just try to keep track of things as best you can :P. Each new Part is a significant time skip, if that helps. Good luck, and enjoy...


“Call for back up.”

Ash barreled out of the police car and slammed the door behind him. The two masked criminals stumbled out from the back alley behind the store, carrying all that they had stolen. As they saw the flashing lights of the car, they ran, and the young cop chased after them.

“Ash! Come back!” Jack withdrew his head from the car window, grunting at his partner’s impatience. He picked up the radio receiver and started the transmission, but before he could speak….


Jack’s blood went cold as he heard the gunshot.

He looked up from the radio – he couldn’t see Ash, he’d gone into another alley.

“Ash!” Jack called as he left the car. “Ash, can you hear me?”

Jack turned a corner. There, slumped against the wall and bleeding from his chest, was his partner.

Jack heard a set of cowardly footsteps running in the opposite direction, but as he turned to confront his friend’s attacker, he saw that the other criminal remained. His gun was still pointed at Ash.

“Drop it!” Jack demanded, reaching for his own weapon.

The criminal’s head turned, but instead of lowering his gun, he raised it at Jack.


Jack didn’t even feel himself squeeze the trigger.

The criminal lurched forward, holding his chest, and dropped the gun. A second later, he was on the ground, motionless.

Jack glanced back at Ash – who nodded breathlessly for him to check out the criminal first.

Jack proceeded to kick the other guy’s gun away. He knelt down beside the black-hooded figure and removed the balaclava…

It was a teenage girl.


Jack stood at Ash’s bedside, waiting for him to wake up. Jack’s father, Tony, and little brother Lucas, were looking on anxiously as well.

“Is he in a coma?” asked Lucas as he stared down at Ash. At age 15, he’d never seen someone in a critical condition before.

“Nah mate,” Jack answered shakily. “He’s just sleeping off the anesthetic from the operation. He’ll be awake soon.”

Jack was trying to convince himself more than Lucas that everything would be okay.

“Jack,” Tony distracted him, “Why don’t you and Luc go get something to eat?”

“Dad, I can’t…” He didn’t want to leave Ash. Lucas, who had come to see Ash as a brother figure alongside Jack, felt the same.

“I’ll stay with him,” Tony assured his sons. “I’ll come find you if he wakes up.”

They knew that their father only wanted them to take a break from worrying. They nodded sadly and left the room.

Tony sat in the chair beside Ash’s bed, and held his hand. “Ah, boys. How do you get yourselves into these situations?”


“It wasn’t your fault,” said Lucas. “Ash shouldn’t have run off like that. It was dangerous. He should have waited for back up.”

“It’s not Ash,” said Jack. “It’s not just Ash…” He looked around the hospital corridor to make sure there was no one in earshot. “I killed a girl, Luc. I shot her.”

“Yeah, because she would have shot you if you didn’t.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Neither do you! Jack, I’m sorry that a girl died, but if it was a choice between an armed criminal and my brother… I’m glad that you did what you did.”


Tony felt Ash’s hand twitch against his own.

“Ash, mate, you awake?” He gently squeezed Ash’s hand, hoping that Ash would squeeze back. He did.

“Mmm…” he moaned groggily, “Where…?”

“You’re in the hospital mate,” Tony explained. “You’ve been shot, but you’ll be okay.”

“Shot…?” Ash began to remember. “Jack…?”

“He’s fine. Everything’s fine.”

“The crims…”

“One of them got away,” said Tony. “The other…”

“What?” Ash wasn’t happy to leave the story there.

“The one that shot you,” Tony explained, “She still had her gun raised when Jack got to you both. Then she turned it on him, so…he shot her.”

Ash was stunned. “Is… is she okay?”

Tony shook his head.

“What was her name?” It seemed important to know.

“Emily Chambers.”

Ash was breathless – shocked.

Tony couldn’t understand why Ash was taking this so hard. It was true that both he and Jack were relatively new to the force, and neither had been responsible for taking a life, but…

“It was self-defense, Ash. Jack didn’t have a choice.”

Ash whimpered hopelessly – he was still weak from the operation, and the sudden news of Jack murdering someone that he himself had chased down, didn’t help.

“Mate, it’s alright. Nothing’s going to happen to him – to either of you. Jack’s already spoken to the senior sergeant. There’ll be an inquiry, but they’re confident that Jack acted responsibly, which we know he did. So don’t worry, everything will work out okay.”

Ash turned his head away as he felt a fretful tear stinging the corner of his eye. Tony rubbed his thumb against the back of Ash’s hand to comfort him.

“Listen,” said Tony, “I tried to get in touch with your parents. They weren’t at the contact number you gave the police. Do you know any other number that we might be able to reach them on?”

Ash shook his head, still not looking at Tony. “Nuh.”

“Ash, they need to know what’s happened to you.”

“No they don’t,” said Ash. “You said I’ll be fine, so why worry them? They’ve got enough to deal with.”

“Like what?” asked Tony. He was curious to know what could be more important to a parent then their eldest son getting shot in the chest.

Ash had said more than he meant to. “Nothing. They’re just… they’re overseas with my sister. They’ve probably moved hotels by now. I bet that’s why you couldn’t reach them. I’ll catch up with them later.”

Tony didn’t know why, but at that moment, he felt very suspicious of his surrogate son.

“Make sure you do,” he said in his best fatherly tone. “I’ll go let Jack and Lucas know you’re awake. They want to see you.”

Tony got up from the chair and smiled at Ash before he left. Ash smiled back as Tony closed the door behind him.

As soon as he was alone, Ash started to cry. He didn’t attempt to hold back the bitter tears. He had to get them all out now. He couldn’t let anyone know what had really happened in that alley.

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WARNING: J&M fans, you're not gonna like this...


“So you’re new in town?” asked Martha, grinning happily over the top of her beer. She was supposed to be working the bar, but Alf, her granddad, had it covered. Right now, she was more interested in this curious new stranger known as Ash.

“Yeah,” said Ash, getting rather tipsy himself. “The place seems alright so far. Nice views.” He smirked in Martha’s direction, making her blush.


Jack laid in a hospital bed, still trying to come to terms with the fact that his marriage was over, and he may never walk again. Add to that the fact that his estranged wife Martha was already doing his supposed best friend… Jack couldn’t see anyway out of the darkness he was facing.

“Are you ready to start your exercises?”

Sam, his physiotherapist, was determined to get Jack’s legs working again. She had no doubt that he could make a full recovery if he just put the effort in. All he needed was the right motivation.


Ash laughed with Martha as they enjoyed their romantic fish and chip picnic by the beach. It was a relief that she had appreciated his lame attempts to be charming, showing up to her door in black-tie and boardies.

The wind swept her dark hair across her face. It caught around her smiling lips and lined her flawless skin. She was beautiful. Ash could see why he wasn’t the first man to fall for her.

“I’m really glad we met the way we did,” she told him. “Even though we hurt Jack… I don’t think I would have given you a chance if I’d have known from the start that you were a cop.”

“Oh come on,” Ash smiled, “Jack can’t have been that bad. And be careful what you say. He’s still my mate.”

“Yeah, he’s my mate too,” Martha reminded him, “But Jack’s not the only cop I’ve been with. There was this other guy, Corey. It was pretty rough.”

“Did he hurt you?”

“He tried to. But Jack stopped him. He’s in jail now. The whole experience just left me a bit shaken up, you know?”

“Do you think that’s why things didn’t work out with Jack? Because he reminds you of Corey?”

“No!” Martha’s face twisted in disgust at the thought. “No way! Jack is nothing like Corey. Corey was a psycho. Jack’s just…” She trailed off. When she looked at Ash, she could see that he was expected her to finish the sentence. “Jack just wasn’t the one, I guess.”

“So it’s definitely not cops that put you off then?”

“No,” Martha laughed. “Definitely not.”

“Good,” said Ash.

He leaned forward to brush the strands away from her face. She sat still and smiled at him taking care of her.


Tony sat at the bar, staring thoughtfully into his drink.

“What’s up with you?” asked Alf, cleaning out the used glasses behind the bar.

“It’s nothing,” lied Tony.

“Doesn’t look like nothing,” said Alf. “It wouldn’t have anything to do with that young Ash, would it?”

“What makes you say that?”

“Come on mate. You haven’t had a good word to say about him since he got here. In fact, for a kid who’s supposed to be your son’s best mate, you haven’t said anything about him at all. Is there something I should know?”

“Nah…” hissed Tony dismissively.

“Mate, if there’s any chance of my granddaughter getting into trouble with that boy…”

“No, really,” insisted Tony, “It’s nothing like that. It’s just…” He sighed. “I feel like I can’t trust him. I feel like he’s been lying to me.”

“About what?”

“His family. I met his mum a couple of times when the boys were in high school. She seemed a bit strange. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but then Ash had an accident a couple of years ago. I tried to contact his parents at the number Ash had listed, and ended up speaking to a hotel in America.”


“Yeah. Ash said that they were on a round-the-world trip, staying a few months in each country. Anyway, they weren’t at that number so I asked him where else they could be contacted. He wouldn’t answer me. Said that his parents had enough to deal with.”

“Such as?”

“He wouldn’t tell me.”

“So you think he’s hiding something about his family?”

Tony nodded, but then changed his mind and started shaking his head. “I’m being paranoid, I know I am. But I’ve never met any of them besides his mother, and that was years ago. He used to mention his sister and his brother every once in a blue moon, but he never even had any pictures. I actually don’t even think that Jack knows much about them. It’s just…”



Sam entered Jack’s hospital room, looking rather sheepish. “I’m sorry that I snapped at you before when you asked about my family,” she said. “I was the one who brought it up, telling you about my son Rory. It’s just that I don’t like to talk about them much. With patients.”

“It’s okay,” Jack understood her position. “You don’t have to tell me anything.”

“No, Jack, I want you to know…” She took a deep breath and sat on the end of his bed. “My daughter died when she was two years old. She had an illness. My husband and I traveled the world looking for a cure. He always said that the cost didn’t matter, and that we’d find the money… but it didn’t help. She died anyway. And when we came home, I found out that he’d been embezzling money from work. So did the police. They arrested him, and he was sent to jail.”

“I’m sorry,” said Jack. As a police officer, he felt a twinge of guilt for being on the wrong side of Sam’s tragic story.

“I’ve never told anyone about this,” she said with a nervous smile.

“I’m glad you told me,” said Jack.


Ash paced around the empty room of the police station, hissing into his mobile phone.

“Tony’s been asking questions, and Martha’s granddad… Of course no one knows the truth! What kind of an idiot do you think I am?” He made a face at the other person’s reply. “Yeah, very funny… What about you? How’s it going at you’re end?”

He nodded emphatically, taking in the information, scanning the windows of the room to check that no one was about to barge in on this private conversation. He paused to listen intently to what his conspirator had to say.

“Oh, don’t tell me…” He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Listen to me, I know this is hard for you. It’s hard for me too, but we can’t let our emotions get in the way. Just stick to the story, and don’t get attached… We are not backing down on this! …You know why! Or did you forget about Emily…?”

His point was well and truly made. Both of them understood what had to be done.

“Okay… I’ll see you soon. Love you. Bye.”


Sam found herself at the end of Jack’s bed once again, her eyes downcast in something resembling sorrow. “She was my daughter… I loved her… I couldn’t do anything to save her…”

She looked up at Jack to let him know that she wasn’t trying to make him uncomfortable. “Sorry,” she said. “You don’t need to hear this depressing stuff two weeks in a row.”

“Nah, it’s good to hear it from someone who’s actually got something to be depressed about.”

Sam appreciated his sympathy.

“I just can’t shake the image of her, the moment she died. I mean I actually watched her take her final breath on this earth. It was… I don’t know… amazing, in a horrific way. Working in a hospital, you get used to death after a while, but it’s never quite the same. It’s always difficult, even when it’s someone you don’t know.” She glanced at Jack. “I guess you’d know that as a cop.”

Jack looked away from her and nodded.

“Have you ever killed anyone, Jack?” She saw that her question had rattled him. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. You don’t have to tell me.”

“No,” said Jack, feeling like he was finally ready to talk about this. After all, Sam had opened up to him. “I have killed someone. A girl. She shot my partner and then turned the gun on me… I had no choice but to shoot her.”

“You couldn’t have aimed to wound her?” There was an edge to that question that threw Jack for a second. Then he remembered that Emily Chambers was someone’s daughter too.

“I didn’t have time to think. I just reacted.” He sighed, aware that his view may upset the grieving mother. “I’m sorry that she died, but… I don’t know if I regret killing her. I mean, if it meant that me or Ash would have died instead…”

“Of course,” said Sam flatly. “It’s funny that you say that though. I thought that Ash was a bad friend for going out with your ex, and your life wasn’t worth living anymore because you can’t walk and your wife has left you. What reason is there that Emily should have died instead of you?”

Jack knew that Sam was only being this harsh as a form of reverse psychology – she was good at that.

“I don’t know,” said Jack, thinking about it as he spoke. “I guess I have my friends – who, deep down, I know still care about me – and my family…” He looked up at her, perched on the end of his bed like a beautiful songbird. “And I’ve got you.”

Sam hesitated. Jack was smiling at her, not in sympathy, or an attempt to make her feel better… His eyes were inviting her to come closer to him.

She leaned forward over Jack’s body. She knew she shouldn’t be doing this. For so many reasons, she shouldn’t be doing this…

Jack pulled himself up off his pillows – proof that she alone could give him the strength he needed to move with such enthusiasm. They kissed.

Jack hadn’t felt another woman’s lips in over a year, besides Martha’s. By the tentative moves of Sam’s tongue, he felt sure that this was an uncommon sensation for her as well.

They continued kissing. Jack bravely lifted a hand off the bed so that he could hold it against the back of Sam’s neck, drawing her closer still. He was shaky now, supporting all of his weight on one arm.

He quickly withdrew his hand from Sam’s hair and broke away from her mouth. Sam sat up, wondering if she’d done something to hurt him.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Emily,” he said suddenly. “How did you know her name?”

Sam didn’t realise that Jack hadn’t said it himself.

“Oh,” she stalled, “Ash mentioned it before.”

“When were you talking to Ash?”

“Ages ago. I asked him if there was some reason, other than Martha, that you might have a grudge against him. Emily’s name came up. He actually blames himself for what happened.”

“It wasn’t his fault,” said Jack, “It was mine.”

Sam shook her head as she felt Jack’s body sink back down into the pillows. “It doesn’t matter,” she told him, brushing her fingers against his face. “All that matters is you’re here now with me.”

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Remember how I said there'd be some distressing scenes? Well here they are :)

WARNING: J&M fans are REALLY not gonna like this!!


Name: HENDERSON, Corey

Gender: Male

Age: 22

Height: 165cm

Weight: 65kg

Eye Colour: Brown

Hair Colour: Brown


Ash looked over the prison file and photo, and then glanced at the corpse that was being wheeled passed. He had the undertaker unzip the body bag to make sure that he’d got the right person. He had. He put his fingers on Corey’s throat to check that he was actually dead. There was no detectable pulse.

Ash nodded and signed the release form. “Everything seems to be in order,” he said, handing a copy of the form to the prison guard.

The guard took the form, squinting suspiciously at the young officer.

“Do you lot normally give a police escort to dead bodies?”

“Well,” answered Ash, “After Detective Baker’s miraculous recovery, you never can be too sure who’s really dead in this town.”

He tipped his hat to the guard and then followed Corey’s body into the back of the hospital morgue’s van.


Jack shuffled forward across the floor. He supposed he must have looked like a baby, taking his first steps, but he didn’t feel like a child. He felt like a man, fighting to be near a beautiful woman.

Sam smiled as her patient progressed towards her. He’d come so far in the few months that she’d known him.

Jack kept on walking, unassisted, until he fell into Sam’s waiting arms. He laughed at himself – relieved that he was able to do it. Sam laughed too, so much that she cried. She was so proud of him.

She lowered Jack into the wheelchair, and while he had her arms hooked around the back of her shoulders, he took the opportunity to kiss her.

“What was that for?” asked Sam.

“To thank you… for reminding me that life’s worth living. And to let you know… I love you.”


“So what do you want to do today?” asked Martha as she sat with Ash at the Diner.

She didn’t know why her granddad had tried to warn her off from Ash a while ago. Just being his overprotective self, she presumed. It seemed so silly now. Ash was clearly a wonderful guy, and he was treating her better than Jack ever had.

“I don’t know,” answered Ash. “I was thinking of maybe going for a drive. Check out some of the lookouts.”

“Mm, sounds romantic. I know a place where you can see the whole bay. It’s beautiful. The ocean goes on forever.”

“Yeah… I’m more of a bush man, myself. A view of the valley would be nice. Know any places like that?”

“Ah… yeah, I guess we could find a place.”

“Somewhere out of the way,” said Ash. “We don’t want to be interrupted.” He grinned evilly. Martha matched him with a conspiring laugh.


Ash turned the car onto a secluded dirt road. Martha sat rigid in the passenger seat, willing herself to appear calm in front of her boyfriend. This was different to the last time she was here. She had to remind herself of that, holding her breath as they passed the signpost: FLINDERS ESCARPMENT

She went pale as she remembered finding out that Corey had been poisoning Irene; how he chased her down like an animal out here, until Jack had arrived to save her.

Corey was dead. He died in prison, which was nothing less than he deserved. He couldn’t hurt her now, and Ash was nothing like Corey. Martha just had to remember that.

“You okay?” Ash asked her.

“Yeah,” Martha exhaled, smiling.

The car pulled into the clearing. Ash got out and went around the other side to open Martha’s door. He may not have been so chivalrous, except that she didn’t look to be making a move herself.

Martha smiled up at him and nodded as she exited the vehicle.

They walked out to the edge of the lookout.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Ash, breathing in the clean air.

“Yeah,” said Martha. She held her arms tightly across her chest, rubbing her shoulders nervously.

“Are you cold?”

“No, I’m fine.” Martha realised that she was hugging herself. “Well maybe a bit.”

Ash smiled and moved around behind her. “I can fix that.” He held her tightly and kissed her neck. Martha began to relax in his arms.

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Martha turned in Ash’s arms, startled by the other presence. Her eyes widened and her mouth hung open. Ash’s face became stern as he held her steady.

Corey grinned at them both. He bent down to the ground and picked up some leaves. He threw them into the air like confetti. “Congratulations to the happy couple.”

“No…” Martha breathed; it wasn’t possible.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Corey said to Ash, “I thought you were Jack. I heard that he and Martha got hitched. And yet, here you are.” He smirked at Martha. “Things didn’t work out? I told you that loser wasn’t good enough for you.”

Martha’s instinct was to run. She tried to break free of Ash, but he wouldn’t let her go.

“Ash,” she panted helplessly, “It’s Corey! He’s gonna kill us! We have to get out of here!”

“Sh…” said Ash, “He’s not going to kill us…” Ash looked up to at Corey. “You could have waited,” he said.

“Come on bro,” said Corey, “You know you were just keeping her warm for me.”

Martha didn’t believe what she was hearing. She struggled against Ash, but to no avail; he was too strong.

Corey walked towards them and motioned for Ash to give Martha up. Ash hesitated, and then shoved his whimpering girlfriend into his Corey’s arms.

“NO!” Martha screamed, trying to fight him off. “NO!”

She tried to kick out but Ash grabbed her legs, lifting her off the ground. He and Corey carried her a little way through the bush until they came to a tree they liked.

“Calm down, sweetheart,” Corey told her gently. “We’re not going to hurt you… Well…” He glanced over to a roll of barbed wire on the ground. “No more than you hurt me.”


“Where are we going?” asked Jack, looking out Sam’s car window.

“Just an outing,” she said plainly. “To celebrate the progress you’ve made.”

“You don’t sound like you’re in a celebrating mood…”

He had felt it for a few days now. Sam hadn’t been herself. She may have been worried that he was getting close to not needing her anymore. That wasn’t the case. Even if he became an Olympic sprinter, he’d still need Sam around. He thought that she knew that.

Jack tried to think of another reason for her to be so distant. “Is it Rory?” he asked.


“Rory,” Jack repeated. “You’ve told your son that you’ve been seeing me, haven’t you? And he’s not too keen on the idea.”

“He’s just not sure about the whole situation,” said Sam. “He doesn’t know you.”

“I’d like him to.”

Sam didn’t say anything. She just kept her eyes on the road. The bitumen turned to dirt as she turned off into the bush.

“Flinders lookout?” Jack asked, recognizing the road.

“Yep. It’s nice out there.”


Jack didn’t find the image of Corey threatening to snap Martha’s neck particularly ‘nice,’ and that was all he could associate with that place. Hopefully Sam would help him to create better memories.

As they rounded the final bend, Jack saw another car in the clearing ahead.

“That’s Ash’s car,” he said. “He must have come up here with Martha.” He smirked at Sam. “Great minds, huh? Maybe we should go somewhere else.”

Sam didn’t answer him. She kept driving forward.

“Sam, what’s wrong? Have I done something to upset you?”

She let her car roll to a stop behind Ash’s and turned the ignition off.


“Get out of the car,” she instructed him.


Jack didn’t understand how Sam expected him to do that. He didn’t have proper use of his legs yet, and his wheelchair was in the back. He needed Sam to get it out for him, but she wasn’t going to.

She still wasn’t looking at him. “Get out,” she repeated coldly.

It was one of her tests. It had to be.

Jack could see tears forming in her eyes. She was staring out the windshield, determined not to let herself cry.

She was doing this for him, to make him stronger, and more independent from her. He knew how hard it must have been for her, literally forcing him to stand on his own two feet. He didn’t want to make it any harder by prolonging it.

Jack opened the door and swung his legs over the side of the seat. The bush around them was eerily silent. It was as if the whole world was holding its breath in anticipation.

Jack hoisted himself up by the roof of the car and started crawling along the side of it towards the back.


It was Martha’s voice. Jack looked around, but he couldn’t see her. Obviously she could see him.

“MARTHA?” he called back. She had sounded desperate, almost like she was crying. Jack went cold as he considered the possibility that something had happened to Ash.

“Sam,” he leaned into the car, “Get the chair. Something’s wrong.” There wasn’t anytime for him to prove his progress to her now.

Sam kept staring out the windscreen. She couldn’t keep the tears from falling down her cheeks.


There was no time to wait for her.

Jack grunted and dragged himself along the car, placing his feet as carefully as he could in his urgency. He stumbled, slamming his body hard against the car.

As he willed himself to a quick recovery, he heard the engine turn over. The car vibrated beneath him, and the tires crunched slowly on the gravel…

The car was reversing.

“SAM!” He beat the roof of the car for her to stop. “SAM! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” She wasn’t listening.

Sam drove the car out from under Jack, leaving him to fall to the dirt. He shut his eyes tightly to defend himself against the sudden pain as his body collided with the ground.

When he opened his eyes, he saw that Sam had taken the car a few meters back and parked it sideways across the road. She’d blocked Ash’s car in at the lookout.

“Sam…” Jack whimpered. He didn’t understand.

“Jack…” Martha’s voice filled his ears. It wasn’t as loud as it had been before. She sounded weak.

Jack turned his back on Sam. Whatever was happening here, she was obviously not going to be of any help to him.

He tried to stand up, but couldn’t. He managed to get to his knees, dragging them awkwardly through the rocks and dirt as he headed towards Martha’s voice.

“Martha…” he puffed, wincing at the cuts and grazes opening up on his hands and shins, “Where are you…?”

“Jack…” she cried helplessly, “It’s a trap…” She was sobbing too quietly for him to hear.

Ash stroked her shoulder, choosing his movements carefully so as not to snag his fingers on the barbed wire twined around her elbow.


Jack scanned the trees to see exactly where the scream had come from. He saw her.

“Oh my god…”

Martha, her face twisted and streaked with tears, was tied up against a tree. Jack didn’t realise why she was in so much pain, or why she wasn’t struggling as much as he expected her to. Then he saw the thin lines of metal cutting their way across her stomach. There was blood on her arms from where the barbs had torn her skin.

Ash was hovering beside her, touching her gently as she cried.

“MARTHA!” Jack scurried towards them with all the urgency he could muster. “GET AWAY FROM HER!”

Ash paid Jack little attention. He continued caressing Martha, attempting to comfort her in his own twisted way.

Jack pulled himself up on a nearby tree, taking a shaky stand, determined to be able to run to her. He figured that the adrenaline had to kick in at some point.

He took a heavy step forward. “GET AWAY FROM HER YOU SICK – ” And found himself flat on his face. At first he thought he had fallen, but the weight on his back told him he was wrong.

“Sick?” Corey repeated, straddling Jack. “It’s not sick, Jack, it’s justice. Martha did this to me, so I’m doing it to her. That’s fair, isn’t it?”

“Get off me!” Jack growled into the leaf litter.

“Ah, see? It’s not so fun when you’re the one pinned to ground…” He grabbed Jack’s wrist. “…Arm twisted up behind your back…”

“Ahh!” Jack cried out as Corey illustrated his point with force, and again when his adversary grabbed a fistful of his hair.

“… Pulling your hair like a girl…” Corey grinned, yanking Jack’s head back to make sure that it hurt. “Not much fun at all, is it Jack?”

“How…?” Jack finally managed to pant through grit teeth. “How are you alive…?”

“When you’ve got a cop for a brother and a doctor for a sister, you’d be surprised how easy it is to fake your own death. Ash was only too happy to swipe Peter Baker’s file to find out how to do it.”

“I trusted you,” Jack hissed up at Ash. “You were my friend! I TRUSTED YOU!”

Corey grinned and leaned into Jack’s ear. “Well what does that say about you?”

Jack felt Corey’s weight leave his back, but he didn’t try to get up. He just laid there, dwelling helplessly on the sordid scene: Ash, his best friend, standing by that psychopath Corey; both of them holding his ex-wife hostage.

Martha was staring down at him, crying, equally helpless. She knew there was nothing Jack could do.


Jack turned an ear to Sam as he heard her voice behind him.

“You’re the sister?” he spat, as if he didn’t already know. “You’re the doctor that helped him escape?”

“Would you let your little brother rot in jail?”

Jack wanted to answer yes – yes, if his brother was a murder like Corey – but now all he could think of was Lucas, and his father, and how he may never see either one of them again.

“I’m sorry Jack. I didn’t have a choice.”

“I don’t want to hear it.” He reconsidered and decided on something he did want to hear. “Everything you said to me… all that stuff about your family… your son… your husband… your daughter… it was all lies…”

“No,” said Sam.

“Bull!” yelled Jack. How could he have been so stupid as to believe her? To feel sorry for her? To love her?

“Sam told you the truth,” said Corey. “It just wasn’t hertruth.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Jack was not in the mood for Corey’s doubletalk.

“Jack,” said Ash, as if they were still friends, “Do you remember when I got shot, and I said that my parents were overseas with my sister?”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” glared Jack.

“Our sister died, Jack,” said Sam. “At two years old. It was a disease, just like I said.”

“Mum and dad went all around the world looking for a cure,” added Corey. “And just because Dad used money from his business to do it, they put him in jail. Your good friend Irene Roberts, and the rest of that brain-dead, heartless jury.”

“No,” moaned Martha suddenly. “Irene would never do that… if any of it were true Irene wouldn’t have sent him to jail… Jack, he’s lying…”

“No, I’m not,” hissed Corey. “The prosecution called my sister’s death ‘irrelevant’ to the fact that Dad committed a crime, and that jury agreed. They should all burn in Hell for what they did to my family and so should you if you think any different.”

Martha stared at him, bleary eyed, disbelieving his insanity.

Corey swayed his emotions. “I’m sorry baby,” he said to her. “I didn’t mean that.” He touched her face. “You know I love you.”

“Then let her go!” said Jack, watching from the ground. “If you love her, let her go.”

“And what? Take you instead? Thanks for the offer Jack, but you’re not my type.” Martha cringed as Corey touched her shoulder. “Martha and I are meant to be together.”

“What does Ash think about that?” asked Jack.

Corey smirked. “Don’t even try to turn us against each other, Jack. There’s no way my brother would listen to you after what you did.”

“What I did…?”

“Ash doesn’t want Martha. You killed the only girl that he ever loved.”

“What…” Jack stared at Ash. Nothing Corey said ever made sense, but that statement was especially baffling. “Ash…?” What the hell was Corey talking about?

Ash suddenly seemed very interested in the tree bark behind Martha’s shoulder.

“I couldn’t tell you about her, Jack,” he said wistfully. “You wouldn’t have understood.”

“Ash, who are you talking about?”

“Emily,” Sam answered for her brother.

“Emily?” repeated Jack, still not getting it. “Emily Chambers? She was fifteen! She was a random criminal! She shot you, Ash! How could you have been in love with her?”

“She wasn’t a criminal!” Sam protested. “She just… had some problems.”

“When I first met her,” said Ash, “I thought she was like all the other teenagers we cops pick up. Bad friends, bad family – just rebelling to get some attention. But she was different, Jack. She had this … energy… I knew she wasn’t meant to be part of that world. I couldn’t let her fall victim to the system.”

“So you got her off?” asked Jack.

“In more ways than one,” grinned Corey. He was leaning over Martha, whose head was slumping down to her chest. It looked like she was in the process of passing out, and Corey was poised to take advantage.

“Don’t touch her!” Jack ordered him.

Corey smiled back from Martha’s shoulder and mouthed, ‘Come and stop me.’

“How would you even know about Emily?!” He yelled at Corey. “You weren’t even there! Neither of you were!” he added to Sam. “If you two are Ash’s family, how come he never talked about you? Where were you when he was in the hospital, huh? Where were you when his so-called girlfriend almost killed him?!”

“We were around,” Sam assured him.

“I didn’t talk about my family,” said Ash, “Because I knew that your family could never approve of them. You were a good cop, Jack, and even before that, your dad was a good teacher. And Lucas… well, he’s always been the little moralistic one.”

“Shut up,” growled Jack.

“It wasn’t an insult,” Ash assured him. “Not to any of you. I cared about you and your family. I knew you were all good people with good morals. If you knew what my father was doing…”

“What, the embezzling?”

“I couldn’t risk you telling anyone. I didn’t want to put you in that position in the first place. You were my friend.”

“But I thought that your dad only stole money for your sister? I knew you for longer than two years, Ash!”

“It was for us too,” said Sam. “Putting two sons through the Police Academy and a daughter through med school wasn’t cheap. And Mum’s medication… even before she was…” She reconsidered what she wanted to say. “Before she went away to get help… she was always depressed. Losing a baby didn’t help.”

“Dad knew people,” said Corey. “He knew how to get her what she needed to make her feel better.”

“When he went away,” said Ash, “So did those people, and the drugs… without them – without him – Mum just got worse.”

“And then Dad couldn’t take it anymore,” said Sam darkly. “He killed himself in prison…”

“And that’s why Corey came after Irene,” Jack remembered. “Because you all think that she and the rest of the jury that put your dad away were responsible for his suicide.” Jack shook his head in amusement. “It’s pretty obvious to me that your Dad just couldn’t handle the fact that everyone in his family was insane!”

Jack regretted saying that as Corey strode over to him and kicked him hard in the ribs.

“Corey!” yelled Sam. Ash made a move to stop him as well.

“Don’t you talk about my family!” Corey warned Jack as Ash held him back from attacking again.

Jack curled up in pain… but he didn’t really care anymore. He knew there was no way he was getting out of this alive.

“Kicking a cripple while he’s down,” Jack panted. “Your dad must be so proud…”

Ash kept a strong hold on his brother, and Sam stepped in as well.

“Corey, don’t.”

“Why are you two defending him?” yelled Corey. “After what he did to me? After what he did to Emily!?”

“I still don’t get it,” panted Jack, feeling that he at least deserved a proper explanation for why he was about to die. “Emily… what did I do that was so wrong? I was protecting you Ash… I saved you…”

“You killed a teenage girl,” Sam reminded him.

“I didn’t know who she was!”

“Shoot first and ask questions later?”

“I’m not the one who shot first!”

He squinted up at his supposed girlfriend, unable to figure out her involvement in this. “Why do you care, Sam? She was Ash’s girlfriend, not yours. You didn’t even know her.”

“Yes I did.”

Sam turned her back on her brothers as she spoke.

“For five years, I was an only child. All I wanted was a little sister to play with. Then Ash came along, and Corey… I was so excited and I loved them so much, but having brothers wasn’t the same as having a sister. Then, just when I thought that Mum and Dad were done with kids, they had a little girl. I finally had what I always wanted… except that my little sister got sick, and Mum and Dad had to take her away…

“I missed her so much, Jack. Even though she was only a baby, I still missed her. All I wanted was to hold her and look after her and to tell her everything would be okay. When Ash introduced me to Emily, she was a lost kid in need of help and guidance. Ash asked me to let her live with me, and to take care of her… She was with us for six months before…” Sam bowed her head. “She was like the little sister I never got the chance to know.”

“I’m sorry,” said Jack. And he was. He never meant for anyone to die, least of all someone that Ash and Sam cared about, but in his heart, he knew he hadn’t done anything wrong. He looked up at Ash. “If you both loved her so much, why did she shoot you?”

“She was scared,” said Ash. “Her dad had forced her to come back home, where she’d be ‘safe.’” He laughed at the man’s ignorance and shook his head. “She fell back in with her old crowd and started stealing again. I’d never known her to do an armed robbery before that night. When I chased her down, I couldn’t have guessed that it was her… and she didn’t know who I was when she turned the gun on me…

“After she shot me, she said my name, and we both realised what had happened. That’s why she didn’t run, Jack. That’s why she was still standing over me when you found us… She never meant to hurt me.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” said Jack, devastated by his mistake.

“I was in pain and in shock… I couldn’t speak… I barely had time to realise what was going on… and then the next thing I knew I was in hospital and your dad was telling me that Emily was dead.”

“Why now?” asked Jack. “If you’ve been blaming me for your girlfriend’s death for all these years, why come after me now?”

“I couldn’t tell you what you’d done; what Emily meant to me. Apart from the fact that I’d gotten her off criminal charges, she was a minor. If anyone found out about my relationship with her…”

“You would have been charged with assault,” said Jack.

Ash nodded. “But it wasn’t like that. I loved her…”

“If you loved her, you should have realised that she was too young to have an adult relationship,” glared Jack. “You should be in jail.”

“Says the guy who married a 19 year old,” sneered Corey. He had returned to Martha at the tree. He was behind her, fiddling with the barbed wire.

“What are you doing?” asked Jack.

“Getting out of here,” answered Corey. “If I listen to one more word from you I think my head will explode. And we don’t want two sets of brains splattered all over this pretty bush land, do we?”

“So you are going to kill me?” Jack read between the lines.

“Was there ever any doubt?”

Corey gently peeled the barbs away from Martha’s arms and stomach. Ash went over to help keep her steady so that she didn’t get injured any further.

Sam stayed with Jack, watching her brothers take their prize.

“So this is it,” Jack said to her quietly. “After everything we’ve been through… after all the time and effort you spent getting me back on my feet… you’re just going to let them kill me?”

Sam didn’t answer him.

“I thought you loved me Sam. Was all that really a lie?”

Corey untangled the last of the wire. Martha fell limply into Ash’s arms.

“You can still stop this,” Jack tried to coax Sam. “You can still save us…”

She didn’t look to be changing her mind as her brothers carried an unconscious Martha off to her car.

“Keep an eye on him,” Corey sneered. “Make sure he doesn’t make a crawl for it.”

Jack didn’t bite. He didn’t speak until Corey and Ash were out of earshot.

“Sam,” he begged her, “Why are you doing this? Corey I understand, but you… Do you really think that I deserve to die for trying to save Ash’s life? Do you think that Martha deserves to be abducted?”

“You both put Corey in jail,” said Sam, as if reminding herself of her reasons.

“Yes, because he tried to kill our friend. And then he tried to kill us!”

“He wouldn’t have had to do that if you’d just left it alone.”

“Sam, you know Corey is dangerous.”

“Like Emily was dangerous?”

“Emily made a mistake. I know that now. But Corey planned out his attacks for months. He destroyed peoples’ lives. He killed someone, Sam. And now he’s asking you to kill me.”

“I won’t kill you…”

“But you’ll let it happen… I loved you Sam… I know you can be a good person, but not while your doing your brother’s bidding.”

“I’m not.”

“Yes you are. I know you’re grieving over your sister and your father and Emily, but my death won’t bring any of them back. You know it won’t be any kind of justice. You know that you’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you let Corey murder me… if you do nothing to stop it…”

“You’ve got a pretty high opinion of yourself don’t you? Why should I care if Corey kills you?”

“I saw you cry, Sam. Those tears were real. You don’t want this to happen to me, or to Martha. I know you want your brother back, but you don’t want to kill us for it.”

Sam paused and thought. “Jack… wouldn’t you kill for your brother?”

Jack looked back through the trees to Ash, who was holding Martha over the open boot of Sam’s car. “I thought I already did.”


Corey reached into the boot and dragged Jack’s wheelchair out of it to make room for Martha.

“Won’t be needing this,” he said as he tossed it aside.

“Do we really have to do this?” asked Ash, cradling Martha close to his chest.

“You’re not backing out on me now are you?”

“No… it’s just… can’t we put her in the back seat or something? I’ll stay in there with her.”

“Ash, this is the girl who tied me to a tree with barbed wire. I don’t think we can afford to give her room to move.”

“Yeah, well, I think she learned her lesson about that.” He shifted his hand on her arm so that he wasn’t touching her open wound. “Anyway, isn’t the whole point of this to get her to love you again? How do you expect to do that if she wakes up locked in the boot of a car? She’ll be terrified.”

Corey considered his brother’s concern for Martha. “Right… I guess it would be better if she woke up with you? She’d feel safer, you think?”

“Well, relatively.”

“Relative to what, Ash? To me?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to. Ash, I thought we were clear about this from the start. You were supposed to pretend to fall in love with Martha to get close to her so you could lure her out here when the time was right. Same with Sam and Jack. But Martha was always going to be mine, and Jack was always going to die. I hope you didn’t forget that, bro?”


“Good. Now put her in the boot.”


“Sam, please… please… I’m begging you…”

Sam was becoming very irritated by Jack’s constant groveling. She rolled her eyes at him. “Damn it Jack, don’t you at least want to die with some dignity?”

“I don’t want to die at all!”

“Well what do you expect me to do about it?! Even if I did want to stop Ash and Corey, what am I supposed to do?! They’re two grown men, and Ash has a gun.”

“You’re their sister. They won’t hurt you. They’ll listen to you.”

“Yeah right Jack. They’ll listen to me when I say, ‘Hey, let’s not kill the only two people besides us who know that Corey is alive. Let’s let them go back to the police and tell everyone all about it, as well as the fact that we attacked and maimed them to avenge the death of Ash’s underage girlfriend.’ I’m sure they’d be totally fine with that!”

“You could run. Martha’s unconscious, and I couldn’t even stand up before Corey kicked the crap out of me. You’d all be long gone before we could get back to town. You don’t have to kill us Sam. You could still get away.”

“But you’d still tell people about Corey.”

“What difference does it make? With Martha missing, everyone will be after Ash anyway. And if I turn up dead… well guess who the last person I was seen alive with would have been.”

Sam realised that Jack was talking about her.

“Sam, you’re already in serious trouble here. Please don’t let it get any worse.”

“What are you two love birds chirping about?” asked Corey as he strode back onto the scene.

“Nothing,” said Sam, a little too quickly.

Corey noted how jumpy she was. “Oh no, not you too…”


“You’re having second thoughts!”

“No, I’m not!”

“Yes you are! God, am I the only one in this family who knows anything about loyalty?!”

“Excuse me?” said Sam, offended.

“No!,” said Corey. “First I have to deal with Ash getting all clingy with my girlfriend, and now you’ve fallen for Jack! Jack for God’s sake!”

“I have not fallen for him!”

“Oh please, Sam! It’s so obvious! You came here with tears in your eyes!”

“Maybe I’m just thinking about the fact that we’re taking a human life, Corey!”

“Human? Hah! Humans are supposed to walk upright, aren’t they? Not slither around on their stomachs. He looks more like a worm to me.”

Jack chose to ignore yet another cruel insult from Corey, hoping instead to appeal to any scrap of humanity that may have remained in him.

“Corey, let Martha go. Kill me if you want – I don’t care – just let her go.”

Corey laughed. “Jack, Jack, Jack… determined to be the self-sacrificing hero ‘til the end, aren’t you?”

“Corey, please…”

“I’m sorry,” Corey put a hand to his ear, “What was that?”

“Please!” Jack grudgingly repeated.

“Ah, I just wanted to make sure. That was literally Jack Holden groveling at my feet.”

“I might be groveling on my feet if you hadn’t hit me from behind,” Jack muttered. He couldn’t help himself.

“Oh? You really think that would help?”

Corey grabbed Jack by the scruff of the neck, dragged him up by his shoulder and slammed him against a tree.

Jack grunted, not wanting to give Corey the satisfaction of screaming outright at the pain in his back.

“Well?” Corey taunted him. “What do you want to say to me, Jack, face to face? Man to man?”

Jack couldn’t think of anything, other than to beg for Martha’s release again, but that had gotten him nowhere. He realised that there was nothing he could say that would change Corey’s mind… not Corey’s… but maybe…

He looked over Corey’s shoulder, struggling to speak as Corey’s fingers crushed around his throat. “I love you Sam…”

Jack doubled over as Corey’s fist connected with his stomach. Once he was on the ground, Corey kicked him again for trying to tempt his sister away from their cause.

“Corey, stop!” yelled Sam. “STOP IT”

“Why?! We’re going to kill him anyway!”



“I’m not going to let you kill him!”

“You’re insane,” said Corey. Jack couldn’t help but to think of the irony.

“No I’m not. Corey, if you do this, there’s no going back. Jack is a cop. If he’s killed, the rest of them will hunt us down until we pay for it.”

“And what about me? And Ash? Please Sam, if the cops were really that loyal to their own do you think that any of us would be in this situation? Do you think I’d have ever been sent to jail in the first place?”

“We could get away,” Sam tried to reason with him. “We could leave Jack and Martha here in the middle of nowhere – ”

“Martha?” Corey stopped her. “Leave my Martha here with him?”

“She’s not yours,” grumbled Jack, trying to right himself. “She’ll never love you. And when she rejects you, you’ll only end up having to hurt her. You don’t want that.”

“What I want,” said Corey, “Is my family to be alive and together. But because of you and your friends, that’ll never happen. And now I’ll make sure that you never see your family again either.”

Corey strode off with a new determination. He went a little way through the trees and found a large rock with a sharp edge.

Jack couldn’t watch. He didn’t want to look like a coward, but he couldn’t help ducking his head behind his arms as he laid helplessly on the ground. He had hoped that he at least would be shown the mercy of Ash’s gun. He should have known better. This was Corey’s plan, after all.

“Corey, don’t,” Sam begged him. “Don’t do this. There’s still time – there’s another way! We could get out of here and go some place where no one knows us. We don’t have to kill anyone!”

“Maybe not,” said Corey with an evil glint in his eye, “But I want to.”

He dropped to his knees beside Jack, and raised the rock over his head, ready to bring it down on Jack’s.

Jack braced himself, trying to be ready for it… trying not give Corey anymore satisfaction than he already had… He closed his eyes – he wouldn’t let Corey see them as he died…


A sharp, violent sound that was over as soon as it had started. But he hadn’t felt any pain. Was he dead already?

He could hear gasping, choking – his own, perhaps? But then, he didn’t feel like he was choking…

Jack opened his eyes.


Sam was screaming now, crying. She had fallen to her knees, huddled to her brother’s side as he swayed back on his knees. The rock dropped from Corey’s hand…his eyes flickered, and his mouth tried to say something, but no words came out. Just the gurgling of blood as it rose up from the bullet hole in his lung.

“Corey! No!” Sam tried stop the bleeding. “NO!”

She and Jack looked around to see where the near-fatal shot had come from. Standing by the car was Ash, gun raised and shaking in Corey’s direction.

“WHAT DID YOU DO!?” demanded Sam. “WHAT DID YOU DO!?”

Ash lowered the gun, laboring to breathe at a normal rate. He wasn’t quite sure himself.

He walked forward to where Sam was kneeling with Corey, and scooped his little brother up in his arms.

“Ash,” Sam breathed, clearly panicked. “You’ve killed him! You…”

“He’ll live,” said Ash sternly. “I did, didn’t I?”

He carried Corey off towards Sam’s car, and Sam scrambled to her feet to follow.

Jack stayed still on the ground. He couldn’t believe what had happened. Ash had just shot his own brother to save him…

And then it occurred to him. Ash had never held a grudge against him. Ash had said it himself, Jack was his friend. He always knew that Jack was only trying to protect him. It must have been Corey that had forced him into this plan for ‘revenge.’ And yet, when it came down to it, Ash only wanted to protect Jack as well.

Jack no longer had the strength to monitor the scene that was going on in the clearing. He stayed low to the ground, listening to the commotion.

The car doors opened and slammed. Jack thought he heard the boot as well. The engine turned over and, as if striking Jack’s heart into action, prompted him to drag himself to his hands and knees. The car was leaving – with Martha.

Jack wheeled himself around to see the car driving out of the clearing in a cloud of dust.

“Stop!” he called desperately. “Come back!”

He scrabbled through the dirt, moving faster on all fours than he would have thought possible… but it wasn’t fast enough. As Jack got to the clearing, he could only see the dulled taillights of Sam’s car disappearing around the curve.

He fell onto his stomach, laying in the tracks of his defeat. They’d taken her. They’d taken Martha… his ex-wife…his friend… the woman he had loved… By the time he could tell anyone what had happened, Ash, Sam, and Corey would be gone, and Martha with them. He’d never see her again.

Tears fell and settled the first specks of dust to the ground. A few minutes later, the rest had settled too. Jack rested his forehead on his arms, not wanting to force himself up. There was no point now.


At first he thought he’d imagined it…

Cough, cough…

Jack turned on his stomach, looking back over his shoulder to see where the weak sound had come from. Martha was lying in the dust, only a few meters away. She was okay.

“Martha!” Jack crawled over to her and held her face in his hands. “Martha…”

“Jack…” she rasped. She was only just coming to. She was in pain from the wire cuts on her stomach.

“It’s okay,” Jack assured her, brushing her hair back.


“He’s gone. So’s Ash and Sam. They’re not gonna hurt us now. It’ll be okay.”

“Jack…” Martha didn’t know why she wanted to say his name right then, or why she wanted to keep saying it forever. And then she realised, although she had loved being with Ash until all this had happened, she never really loved him as a person – not the way she had loved her husband. Not the way she had loved someone who would truly take care of her. “I love you Jack…”

Jack smiled. He had been waiting for months for her to say those words. “I love you too,” he told her.

Jack held Martha close, comforting her in the silence of the open bush. As safe as he was trying to make her feel, the fact remained that they were in the middle of nowhere with no way to get back to civilization. Ash’s car was still there, but without the keys…

The sun caught something silver in the dirt, making it glitter to catch Jack’s eye. A set of keys.


“I can’t believe you did that…” said Sam, holding Corey in the back seat. She’d managed to stop the bleeding, for now. “Ash?”

“I couldn’t let him die,” said Ash as he drove along the desolate road.

Sam wanted to argue, but she couldn’t. Corey might die in her arms, but she couldn’t bear the thought of letting him be so brutal as to bash her boyfriend’s head in with a rock.

Jack wasn’t her boyfriend, it was just an act. She knew that Jack would already be going back to Martha, since Ash had refused to abduct her like Corey wanted. Sam herself never had any real feelings for Jack. She couldn’t, after what he’d done to Emily… could she?

Ash kept driving, not bothering to check on his siblings in the rearview mirror. They’d be okay, and so would Jack. His brother would be okay.


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