NFG Season One - Meet The Parents

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Description: Hawksley arrives back at Coco's hospital room to find a surprise waiting for him.

Following his run in with Chevy outside Blaze headquarters, Hawksley finally made it to 'The Highlander', a Scottish themed bar in central Metro City. He'd grown accustomed to the place and its clientele, though he still missed The Dead Squirrel at times. Rumours are that the Irish bar is likely to be rebuilt by the new year. By then however, Hawksley will be gone from the city and living who knows where. His future plans at present only extend as far as returning home for Christmas to spend time with his family and friends in Cork.

After several swift drinks in the bar, he set off back to the hospital to see how Coco was doing after this afternoon's tests. He'd hated leaving her alone to undergo them but the staff had insisted he couldn't stick around. Of course this had only added to the Brit's paranoia that they were plotting something against her.

The air is bracing as he walks across the city and by the time he reaches the hospital, he's somewhat sobered up. He still smells strongly of booze however and he's sporting the matching pair of black eyes and a cut nose from his brotherly brawl with Braun.

Arriving at the door to Coco's hospital room, he pushes it open, calling out "Hi honey, I'm home!" in a cheery voice.

When Hawksley flings the door to the hospital room wide, he's greeted by the backs of a man and a woman, the former in a designer suit and the latter in a silver bodycon sweater dress. The man appears to be in his fifties, with streaks through crisply-cropped brown hair to match his wife's dress, and the woman has a glamorously curvaceous figure and has purple hair drawn up in a bun-and-bangs do. The man is the first to turn around at Hawksley's announcement. His blue eyes study Hawksley slowly as they narrow.

"I'm sorry, sir, but I think you've got the wrong room," the man says in a clean-cut Etonian accent.

The woman is slower to turn, but when she does, it becomes immediately obvious that the Irishman is face to face with the model upon which the image of Constance Coalbridge is based. She looks Hawksley up and down appraisingly, then places a hand on the other man's shoulder.

"John, this is him. Remember? The boy from the New... Fighting... whatever. The one she was supposed to be dallying with."

Her accent has more of a Parisian sound to it, though it's been softened by years abroad. Her lips curve into a slow smile. "I see the rumours are true. And the photographs."

John screws his eyes up a bit further before relaxing them. "Oh, yes, of course. I should have recognized you by the two black eyes," the man says as he starts to offer a hand to the younger man to shake. "John Coalbridge. I believe you're quite acquainted with my daughter. Is that an Irish accent I've detected?" He raises his eyebrows questioningly.

"Of course he's Irish, John. You should have paid more attention on the plane," the woman jibes.

"Only being polite, Margaret," John says with a polite smile.

"Oh my God, I'm not sure who I'm most embarrassed by right now," Coco says as she cradles her snoozing bearcat against her chest in the hospital bed.

"Come now, Connie, I'm here, aren't I?" John says tersely through a smile, as if that were enough effort expended in response to his daughter's life-changing injury to exonerate him from any form of recrimination. "Apologies, Mister Moore. Nipped out for a drink, have you?"

"John!" Margaret gasps. "Leave it be!"

Hawksley is stopped in his tracks by the sight of the stylish couple standing in Coco's room. His first thought is they're from the New Fighting Generation. Perhaps lawyers who've come to make sure Coco doesn't seek compensation for her injuries. But by the time he sets his dark eyes on Margaret Coalbridge's face, he's in no doubt who she is.

"Mister and Missus Coalbridge" he states, swallowing hard as his throat suddenly seems rather dry.

"You can call me Hawksley if you like. It's a pleasure to meet you, so it is."

He edges closer, accepting the hand offered to him. His own feels rough to the touch and at this moment, a little on the clammy side. "Is it warm in here or is it just me?"

He takes off the wool coat he's wearing and sets it down on the chair by the window, revealing the beige cable knit sweater and blue jeans beneath. "When did you get in from London? Did you come straight here?"

As he speaks, his eyes seek out Coco, trying to gauge her expression. Surely she must be happy the toffs have made the trip over but he knows there's been some bad blood between her and parents in the past.

Without waiting for their responses, the Cork fella keeps on chattering. "Aye, I'm from Ireland, so I am. County Cork. A beautiful place, and you're in Chelsea? I've been to London like but not that part."

A nervous hand runs through his hair to ruffle his short dark locks. "I went for a few drinks and all, because they kicked me out when Coco was having her tests. How did those go, cailin?" he checks with her.

As one might expect from a businessman of John Coalbridge's calibre, his grip is firm - downright domineering, nearly, though not quite tight enough to be unpleasant and held for none too long.

"Just you, I think, son. Americans always seem to like things on the cool side, I find. I'm sure it's just the combination of whiskey and coming in off of the street," he answers Hawksley's question about the elevated room temperature.

"And John would be very familiar with that combination," Margaret interjects with a sly smile. "Which we can thank for our Coco."

"Ew," comes Coco's comment from the back of the room.

"Now, dear, you know very well I prefer brandy when I'm at the club," John fires back before returning his attention more directly to Hawksley. "We did come straight here, of course, once we were able to find the information we needed to do so. I would say that our greatest delay, in fact, was in convincing the hospital staff that we should be permitted to see her."

"I've not been letting anyone in," Coco points out. "There are dangerous people in the NFG."

"No one except for furry animals and Hawksley here," John says with another appraising up-and-down toward the Irishman. "Well, at least you've had some company to keep you comfortable. Of course, now that we're here, you've no need to worry about that until we can get you back home to convalesce properly. I think the Cotswolds house would do nicely."

"Ah yes, County Cork. So lovely and rustic. Have you kissed the Blarney stone, Mister Hawksley?" the wife asks with an amused tone. She looks slightly bemused at the term of address. "Colleen? Coco, have you had a change of name while you were abroad? No wonder we've heard so little from you."

"No, mum, that's just because you haven't been listening for me. Figures it would take having my face burnt off for you to take notice. You know I've won all my matches while I was here?" Coco says with a petulant and arrogant tone.

"And look what it's got you, cherie," Margaret says with a disdainful look. "I always warned you to take care of your face, and now this."

"Cheers, mummy. The tests went fine, by the way. They've said I'll be free to go this weekend, in fact," Coco adds to Hawksley.

"Yeah, Coco has been cautious during her stay here. She's been through a tough old time, so she didn't just want any one wandering in here and disrupting her rest" Hawksley explains to John Coalbridge.

"We've been doing alright though and her mood has lifted since she was reunited with Morgy."

He gives the bearcat an affectionate look and then turns towards Margaret. "I have indeed had my lips on the old Blarney Stone" he confirms. "Me and some of the lads went there a couple of years ago for a laugh. Have you been yourself? If not, it's worth a trip, so it is. You've got to be alright with bending over backwards though and I wouldn't make the climb in heels."

He starts to laugh as she questions his use of the world cailin. "It just means girl where I'm from. It's affectionate. Coco hasn't changed her name or anything."

The Irishman walks over to the bed, his face beaming towards the British teen when she shares her news of being released from the hospital. "That's brilliant news, Coco Pops. They must be pleased with your progress." He reaches out for her hand to offer an encouraging squeeze, stopping to give her mother a scowl as she scalds Coco for her lack of skincare.

"So will you be going back with your mammy and da then? To The Cotswolds and all? Is that why they've come over? To fetch you home?"

"A bit late for caution, I should think, once the damage has already been done," John comments, turning to look at Coco meaningfully. "I'm quite surprised they've allowed that animal in here. But then again, I suppose they'll be more accommodating to a patient's wishes in a private system, won't they? Coco, have you had your... bearcat screened for parasites and disease and such?"

"I take good care of Morgie," Coco says with a scowl, not really answering the question as she cuddles the binturong defensively.

"Well, it's nice that you're beginning to take some responsibility," John says with a reluctant air. "Even financial responsibility, I understand. Your trust fund has been stable for months, other than a shopping spree at somewhere called 'Naughty Angel.' It's almost like you've been working for a living."

"I've been working my ass off!" Coco exclaims. "And saving my money and everything!"

"Shame you didn't choose something safer. I've already been in discussions with top people about fixing all of this, and I'm sure the medical costs will far outweigh anything you've earned on your venture," John continues. "But never to worry, it will be taken care of. It's not as though I've never made a bad investment."

"I've never been to the Blarney stone, but perhaps I'll go next spring," Margaret says with a look between Hawksley and Coco, "Assuming I have the opportunity." She looks curiously at John. "They can repair such damage?"

"The number of providers who can provide realistic assurances of success I could count on one hand, but yes. I've been probing my contacts," John says with a wary expression as he looks to Hawksley. "And yes, young man, I've every intention of taking Constance home to the Cotswolds to continue her recuperation while arrangements are made for proper treatment."

"And you'd be welcome to join us, Mister Moore," Margaret steps in to add.

"Is he?" John turns to Margaret as both his thick eyebrows rise up, before he looks back at Hawksley. "Well, yes, I suppose he is. Constance may as well entertain whatever guests she likes. Mind you, we'll not be tolerating any of this fighting nonsense on the grounds. I've seen the reports on the property damage your little operation has caused."

"That's not been Hawksley's fault," Coco pipes up to point out. "It's mostly that Junko. The one who did this to me."

"Well, I'll see to it that she's included in the litigation when we deal with this so-called New Fighting Generation, darling," John says pleasantly. "I fully intend to bring them to ruin."

"Morgie's a good fella so he is. Him and Coco look after each other" Hawksley informs John calmly. He'd seen what the separation of the girl and her binturong had done to her and though he's still not convinced of Juri's good character, particularly after recent news reports, he is grateful to her for reuniting the pair.

The mention of 'Naughty Angel' sends a grin to the lads's face. He knows exactly what she purchased on that particular shopping spree. Coco answering the trailer to him dressed as her sponsor, Angel had been quite the surprise.

"Your daughter is very talented you know" he remarks to the elder Coalbridges. "She was a bit of a wuss when I first met her but she's a total badass now. You should be proud of what she's accomplished. I know I am."

He listens to the talk of Coco's face being fixed, not too surprised that they have the cash to flash to try and find a solution. It's good that she will have options, should she choose to take them. He seems less sure about their invitation to join them in The Cotswolds though and it's obvious Coco's da isn't too enthused with the idea of having the Irishman to stay.

"I said I'd stick around Metro City for the final and then I'm gonna go home to Cork to see my family and friends. Coco was gonna come along with me. My mammy said she'd be grand to stay and she'd be sure to have a fuss made of her. Not to mention as much soda bread and stew as she wants."

"Yes, I'm sure," John Coalbridge remarks noncommitally on his daughter's relationship with the exotic mammal. "She's always had such fleeting tastes, you know. Takes after her mother that way. Good to see that she's able to commit to at least one scruffy animal."

"Coco should have been a tennis player, I think," Margaret suggests. "It's a much safer use of her natural athleticism, and the little shorts can be so cute. Of course, she could have been a model if we'd put her on the rack as a child like I suggested."

"Not too late to be an alt-model if I get a few tattoos," Coco threatens.

"Dear, after what you've already put yourself through, I'm hardly going to be terrified of that, now, am I? Besides, you've been saying it since you were a teenager," John says with a roll of his eyes before turning back to Hawksley.

"I'm still a teenager," Coco points out.

"Really? I thought you were twenty already," John says with a bemused expression. "Now, what's this about taking her to County Cork? I must say, it sounds a bit more risky than having her at the Cotswolds. She's in a very delicate state right now."

"Perhaps the Moore family could come and stay with us?" Margaret suggests lightly.

"Dear, it's one thing to let her keep her plaything around, but it's quite another to invite his whole family. You know the Irish; he probably has ten siblings," John comments irately.

"John! Let's not be inhospitable," Margaret challenges with a scowl. "It's not as though we lack the amenities."

"I can decide for my-SELF!" Coco shouts with a sudden outburst that makes both her parents stop as a palpable wave of tension washes through the room from her glaring silver eyes.

With the attention of her parents secured, Coco proceeds more calmly. "I'm going to stay in Ireland with Hawksley for Christmas. If anyone needs me, or wants to come see me, that's where I'll be."

John and Margaret look at each other before the former lets out a puff of air. "Well, I suppose that's us told -"

"And then we'll come to the Cotswolds for New Year's with you, so nobody misses out," Coco adds.

John looks dubiously at Margaret. "The Cotswolds for the New Year?"

"Sounds like an excellent excuse for drinking," Margaret says with a smile.

"You make an excellent point, Margaret. Right-o. New Year's it is, Hawksley. Or is it Lucky I've heard her call you?" John says, turning to the Irishman and offering a hand for another shake. "I don't suppose you have any background in business, do you?"

"Were you talking about me or Morgie?" Hawksley jokes at John's words regarding Coco committing to a scruffy animal.

The Irishman starts to interject regarding the invitation for the whole Moore family to stay in The Cotswolds with the Coalbridges. The whole thing sounds like a setup for a sitcom Christmas special, where two mismatched families fight their way through the festivities and chaos ensues.

"My mammy wouldn't like not being home for Christmas. We'll all be gathering back at her and my da's house. All five of my siblings that is, not ten but fair play, there are a few partners and kids in the mix and all."

He seems highly amused at the description of himself as a plaything and he lets out a loud and guffawing laugh. "I reckon Coco is right. She's old enough to be making her own mind up." The fact she's choosing to stick to their original plans to stay with him is just a bonus.

New Year with Coco's posh parents though? "Do they have plenty of pubs in The Cotswolds?" he checks. "If so, I'm sure that'll be grand. We can get totally scuttered, Maggie. You can call me Lucky if you like, Johnny Boy" he adds amiably, shaking the older man's hand again. "Am I alright to call you that or do you prefer Mister Coalbridge? As for my background, it's not so much in business. I've mostly done barwork and then the brawling since then."

It seems that the situation is mostly sorted but there's still something bothering Hawksley. "I'm a bit worried about where you're gonna stay until we go to Ireland" he confesses to Coco. "I don't like the idea of you on your own in the trailer and the apartment at Blaze isn't overly comfortable. I mean, feel free to crash there if you like but you might need somewhere you can get some rest and it's a bit mad there sometimes."

"I wasn't being overly specific," John says with a faint smirk when pressed by Hawksley on the subject of his comment. "See, Margaret? Didn't I tell you it would be too much? For them, if not us."

"We never spend Christmas at home, normally," Margaret comments to Hawksley, "it's either far too busy or far too cold. But I convinced John we should holiday with our daughter while she's unwell."

"Oh, yes. Plenty of pubs," John confirms with a slight nod. "Perhaps with less sawdust than you may be accustomed to. And we've our own bar in the house, of course. I'll make sure that it's well-stocked. And Johnny Boy will do." The grip of the man's handshake is a little warmer, as is his demeanour, at this point. "So, a professional boxer, essentially, then. Well, you'll certainly want to learn a bit about business before you take too many blows to the head. That way you ensure your winnings don't dry up."

Coco frowns faintly at the issue raised by Hawksley. "Well, you can join me in the trailer if you like, Lucky. We could always move it somewhere a bit quieter than Abigail's place."

"If you need any support with your accommodations, we can always help," Margaret points out. "We will be here in Metro for a few more days whilst we arrange with our local firm regarding the litigation process. I can recommend the hotel we're using."

"Oh yes, quite a nice little place. What is it called again, the Fritz-Charleston?" John remarks. "Excellent service, though their wifi leaves something to be desired."

Coco looks to Hawksley for his opinion on the matter.

"I can't imagine not being home for Christmas Day" Hawksley states with a slight frown. "Or missing out on my Christmas Eve on the lash with the lads. Of course you can come to that too if you like, Coco. I've told them you're heading home with me to Cork."

He seems pleased at the prospect of the plentitude of pubs promised in The Cotswolds. "You've got a bar in your own house, Johnny Boy? Jesus, talk about living the dream."

As his hand is released, Hawksley lets it drop by his side. "I've already had fecking loads of hits to the head and I seem to be doing alright so far. I'm not sure I'd be any good at the whole business shite. I've got an agent who takes care of all that for me. He got me a sponsorship deal sorted and they're paying me a pretty penny, so they are. I've not spent too much of it yet. Maybe we should use some to stay in the fancy arse hotel, Coco Pops. I mean, I'd be more than happy to hang out with Abigail but it'd probably be nice for you to have some luxury."

He scratches the back of his neck and then asks Margaret. "So you're gonna get all the lawyers on to Junko and the en eff gee then?"

"Oh, yes. Margaret and I love to entertain," John confirms with Hawksley. "Especially in our world. You'll have the most fabulous time, I'm sure."

"The hotel seems like the best option. Especially if we can manage to avoid the paparazzi," Coco decides, laying her head back on the pillow and closing her eyes with a little sigh.

"Falling asleep on us, Coco? A shame, after we've come so far," Margaret remarks, before turning to the other two and saying more conspiratorially, "It's probably best she rest, truly. We've got a lawsuit to plan, after all. And the Coalbridges are always meticulous when it comes to suits." She winks at Hawksley, nodding her own confirmation of his question. Then, she starts sizing him up with her eyes. "Speaking of suits, we'll have to bring you along to one of our local tailors to be fitted for one of ours. Free, of course. Just in case it goes to court. I'm sure you will make an excellent witness, Hawksley."

Hawksley has only ever worn a suit twice in his life. Once for his brother, Shane's wedding and the other time for his sister, Sharon's wedding. On the first occasion he'd borrowed one from his friend, Jimmy and the other time, he'd bought one from a cheap online store. It had fitted him fairly well but it hadn't survived the day. A boozy brawl with one of his new brother-in-law's cousins had put paid to that.

It would be pretty fecking fantastic to own a really fancy suit. One he could count upon if he ever needed to smarten up his act. No doubt he'd be setting himself up for jokes from his mates about when he was due in court but he can handle that. Bantering is all part of the brotherly relationships they share.

There is something else that's bothering him about Margaret's words however, beyond the ever present air of passive aggression she seems to employ. "You want me to be a witness against the en eff gee and Junko?" he checks, his tanned skin seeming to pale somewhat.

"If so, I don't think that's something I can do." He swallows hard, switching his gaze between the three Coalbridge's.

"The en eff gee has been the greatest thing to ever happen to me. It's changed my whole fecking life. Before them I was just hanging around Cork feeling sorry for myself but now I'm excited about everything. I know what I wanna do for a living, I've met some lovely new friends and I'm getting to play to my strengths instead of being pulled up for all the things I'm shite at. I don't think I'd be comfortable contributing to the reason their company collapses."

He stops to catch his breath before continuing. "Then there's the Junko thing. I wanted to kill her after what she did to Coco but she is just a kid and I think she's got something else going on that's causing her to act the way she is. I don't know what the story is but I don't see how suing her is gonna sort anything, other than getting you lot more money. I doubt she has any to spare herself anyway."

He fixes his attention on Coco now, his face looking forlorn. "I understand the anger you and your family must feel for what's happened. It's all pretty fecked up and yeah, the authorities maybe dropped the ball with all the destruction that's been going down. I'm not saying mistakes weren't made but do you really want it all to fall apart? There's been good stuff too, yeah? I can tell you've started to love what you do in the league. You've changed so much when you're competing, compared to that scared little lass who pleaded with me in the bar not to punch her in the face."

He turns back to her parents. "How about if you just asked for an enquiry to be launched and then used your own money to help Coco with her healing? I reckon you've got plenty of it."

The smiles of both of the elder Coalbridges dim in wattage slightly as Hawksley says that he can't act as a witness on Coco's behalf. Coco doesn't look nearly as surprised, though she does turn her attention to Captain Morgan and focuses on straightening his little doctor's theatre cap.

"Oh, that's rather disappointing," Margaret says, "I assumed that naturally you would want to support our Coco. Perhaps I've mistaken the nature of your friendship."

John seems a little more aggressive in his dismay. "Oh, I'm sure you realise that it's not simply about recuperating the expense of the required treatment, Mister Moore, which I can assure you is substantial. In fact, I would daresay it would be completely beyond the means of yourself, or any of the other participants' families."

"Yes. Imagine if it had happened to that poor chevalier, Buford," Margaret chimes back in. "And his poor mother. It's bad enough to have your child's face ruined. Imagine if you could not afford to fix it?"

"And he would lack the funds even to take the issue to court. It's lucky for all of you that we happen to be in a position to hold Professional Fighting Worldwide accountable," John steps in again. "As for this 'Junko,' she should clearly be under the supervision of the Novus Orbis Librarium, not parading around setting everything on fire for sport. Or perhaps we should include headbutting explosives into crowds of spectators in this 'enquiry?' Maybe that's why you're not willing to press the issue?"

"Come, John, it was hardly Hawksley's fault that they let that little imp with the grenades into the competition as well," Margaret says, rubbing a hand on her husband's jacket sleeve. "It's all in poor taste. They just need to be held to a higher standard."

Coco finally pipes up in response to Hawksley's question. "No, Lucky. I don't want the New Fighting Generation to fall apart," she says, drawing a collective look of surprise her way from her parents. "I want to rip it apart piece by piece. Do you really think I'd just forget what happened, as if anything else justifies it? The only reason I urged Abigail to hold back from going on a bloody rampage was because I want to be the one who deals the killing blow. And whatever treatment they come up with, I'm not going to take it until I've finished the NFG off. I'm not going to let everyone forget what they let happen that easily. I don't want pity, I want to be seen. What makes you think I would take this lying down?"

As soon as the words are out, Hawksley knows they won't go down well but despite this, he doesn't regret saying them. He has to be honest about the way he feels, even if it means asserting himself around the fancy folks.

"I'm sorry if you all think I'm letting you down but it's how I see things. It doesn't mean I care any less about Coco. I've been here with her pretty much constantly since her match and I want her to make a full recovery and get back to doing what she does best."

He realises he has been presuming all this time that she will return to the world of fighting but perhaps given the ordeal she has been through, she'll seek a change of direction. "You know, if she wants that for herself."

When John ups the ante, the Irishman's instincts kick in and he has to force himself not to to go on the attack. In calm, measured tones, the Cork fella chimes in. "Of course it'd be beyond my means and maybe everyone else in the contest other than Genie." He doesn't know a lot about the Swiss miss who's been on his team but from the content he's seen, she seems to be in a similarly comfortable position to Coco.

"Maybe you think you're making a stand for us little people by pushing forward with this but what about the next working class kids who want an opportunity like we've had? I agree the New Fighting Generation needs to change but does anyone really want it to no longer exist?"

Hawksley's voice is steadily rising the longer he talks, the passion spilling out in his speech. "Don't go threatening me either. I headbutted those explosives to save a fifteen year old girl, as well as myself and yeah, maybe it was crazy to have them near a crowd but this is all the kind of thing that could come up in an enquiry and like Margaret says, hold them to a higher standard."

He pauses for a beat and then asks. "What the feck is the Novus Orbis Librarium and what would they want with Junko?"

Before he can get a response, Coco offers her own thoughts and these are a little harder to push back on, considering what the purple haired posh girl has been through in both physical pain and psychological trauma.

"I get that you want revenge, Coco. You have every right to feel that way and of course you won't forget or even forgive the whole fecking nightmare you've had happen to you. Do you really want to ruin other people's lives though? Wouldn't it be better if they just learned from their mistakes and made sure things were better moving forward? Especially if you're able to get the help anyway."

Even as he's saying the words, Hawksley recognises it really isn't that simple. The thought of him standing on the other side to the same people who've given him this beautiful experience however sickens him. "I wanna support you, Coco. I really do. You know I'll look after you as best I can but don't ask me to do this."

"Well, it really is quite tragic that the best experience of your life has included headbutting explosives to save the young girl that the NFG allowed to be attacked with," John says with a disdainful sneer. "I can only imagine how miserable your existence must have been before, but I assure you, our Coco was perfectly happy before all of this!"

"Now, John, that's not fair. Of course a young man will have been restless in a place like County Cork," Margaret interjects. "He's not had the same opportunities as Coco has. Perhaps if they were granted to him, he would see the error of his ways."

"Or perhaps he's simply a thug like any other, thriving in violence just like Junko and the rest!" John says, himself becoming fired up.

"Leave it," Coco insists with a hiss. To be honest, she'd been avoiding asking Hawksley to help her with her plan because she'd known how he would feel about it and hadn't had the energy to fight it out. Now, she realises that she still doesn't. "He doesn't understand consequences. He just thinks it's all a best friends club. And anyway, his statement wouldn't matter. It's not like it's going to be hard to convince the public that a monster like Junko and the people responsible for her deserve to be punished."

John and Margaret look at each other.

"Quite right," John says, before looking back to Hawksley, his expression relaxed. He offers the younger man his hand.

"So, New Year's it is, then. Shall we let you two get on with it?"

"Don't be looking down on me, John" Hawksley warns him. "I might not be wealthy or dress in designer clothes like you but I'm proud of where I'm from and the people in my life. Cork is a bloody beautiful place and I could have built a life for myself there, if I'd wanted to. My brother and sisters have managed it just grand. The blame was on me and the rut I'd got myself in to because of getting my heart broken by a girl. As for Coco, are you really sure she was happy? Because I've heard some stories that would suggest otherwise."

His brown eyes bore into the businessman as he talks, the flash of anger in them telling the tale of how he feels. "I never had much growing up, if we're weighing things by possessions and posh education but I always had love and company when I craved it. I had a mammy who cooked for me and gave me cuddles and a da there to kick a football around with me or take me for a run out to let off some steam. As for me being a thug? Fair play, maybe I am and I do enjoy a fight but not to make someone miserable or to get revenge on them. It's because it's fun and I feel alive. If that makes me fecked up, then so be it."

His expression softens as he looks at Coco and he sees that she knows his character and what it would cost him to compromise that. "Thanks for getting it" he murmurs, making his way back over to John to shake his hand. "We're very different men, that's obvious but we both want what's best for Coco. That's something we share. So yeah, it'll be grand to see you at New Year. I hope you and Margaret have a lovely Christmas together, so I do. I'll make sure Coco gets checked in to the hotel when it's time and we'll give her a warm welcome in Ireland. She'll be drinking Guinness and playing the fiddle before you know it."

There's certainly a bit of frost lingering in the air after Hawksley makes his speech. The attack on Coco's parents is pretty blatant, but not quite blatant enough to demand a response when they're already moving toward armistice. It just results in another look exchanged between the two that implies a future discussion to be held.

Coco pulls a bit of a face when he thanks her for 'getting it' after she essentially harpooned him for his naivete. One can only suppose that it's the same naivete that took it as acceptance rather than giving up. She settles for stroking her bearcat for now, though, because she does get it. She'd thought it was a good experience on the whole, until she'd run into Junko. Now she sees things more clearly.

"Right. I'm sure we will," John says with an icy smile before releasing Hawksley's hand and putting on his hat. "And good luck teaching her the violin. We tried that once. Take good care of her." He turns to look at Coco. "Do feel better, dear. Your mum and I will be in touch as the situation develops. Don't worry, everything will be fine."

"Good night, Cherie," Margaret says, walking over to plant a kiss on Coco's bandaged forehead before giving Hawksley a hug goodbye. Then, she adds in a lowered voice, "Like he said, don't worry. She'll be good as new once this is all over with."

"Bye, mummy. Bye, daddy," Coco bids to her parents as she lays back against the pillow and exhales quietly.

Log created on 12:19:45 11/24/2023 by Coco, and last modified on 17:43:08 11/26/2023.