Actions

Work Header

Not so glory days

Chapter Text

"The mini McKinney's?"

"Yeah."

Those very words had marked the beginning of what was going to become a fame-filled, life changing journey.

"Come on bro, think about it." Chase had said. "Me and you putting our faces out there, making a name for ourselves within the face of fortune. Showing off the talent that any old average person couldn't. Not to mention proving mom and dad wrong."

That was the thing about Chase, he always knew how to sweet talk him into doing whatever he desired. Whether it was something small like wanting the chocolate bar Merritt had, to convincing him to steal some cash off of their parents. Whatever it was he was always able to grab a particular weak spot, then cling onto it until his demands were met.

For Merritt that weak spot had always been family.

Family was the main focus of his life for many years, even when he and Chase were just kids nothing else mattered as long as he had his family. Although, the Mckinney's weren't the typically happy ones shown on TV adverts that most kids would hope for. All it took was an unintentionally badly timed occurrence to see it for themselves.

It had all started during a normal Sunday afternoon with an innocently asked question by Chase to their dad, 'do you love mom?' His reaction wasn't the typical, of course, I do, or the mommy and daddy will always love each other. Instead, all they got in response was a simple yes, along with a muttered phrase which neither child could understand. Even though they were only six at the time, that didn't mean they weren't able to pick up on the unusual, but as an equally scary vibe, that sentence provided.

That very afternoon continued to haunt the older Mckinney twin throughout the night, Merritt could sense Chase felt it too. That was one of the many perks of having a twin, one being the comfort of knowing your sibling was more or less thinking the exact same thing at the same time. Another being you were able to experience things that normal siblings wouldn't.

Ever since that day Merritt and Chase would spend most of their time observing their father. Watching his every move and listening closely to each and every word he spoke. Pointing out the little details from the twitching of his facial features to the way he fidgeted when asked simple questions.

Within days of having started the process, those secret night time talks soon became daily discussions, new pieces of evidence were discovered nearly every week, which only lead to the Mckinney's being one step further to finding out the truth.

Then there was the killer which brought all of the Mckinney twins theories to life. It was just days after their seventh birthday when the sounds of a woman laughing could be heard from the living room, and whoever it was, certainly wasn't their mother.

Truth be told Merritt had expected this to happen sooner or later, even if he did feel a hint of surprise that he had been correct on so many things, so soon, and at such a young age.

But the one thing that really tugged at his heart was the way Chase had turned to look at him at that very moment. A sorrowful facial expression displayed for only Merritt to see. Looks like we were right all this time, was the thought that raced through both their minds.

Neither twin felt it was right to speak until that night when Chase jumped onto his older brother's bed, eager to tell him something as he shoved a poster in front of Merritts' face. He had a strange habit of just appearing when he least expected it.

"You know, I've been wanting to find out about how you were able to figure out so much about dad. Then I came across this poster about something called Mentalism, it includes everything you were able to do. People with these kinds of skills are called mentalists."

"A what?" Merritt had questioned, unsure of what Chase was trying to tell him.

" A mentalist. Come on bro, if you were able to figure out dad's bad secret by reading him, who knows what else you and I can discover?"

As silly as it sounded, it was an idea Merritt wasn't totally against.

To gain more of an insight into the world of Mentalism, Merritt decided to explore it for himself. What he uncovered fascinated him. The hypnosis being the part that stood out to him the most. Maybe Chase had been right to tell him, after all, if he and his brother were to expose their father for what he was, hypnosis was the way to knock down his wall of lies.

For the next six months or so, Merritt and Chase now confident they had all the evidence they needed, instead, focused on getting to grips with hypnotism. Mostly on the very few friends that they had and total strangers.

They adored the way hypnotism seemed to open up so many doors to a person, just by delving into their mind. Their dreams, fears, desires, along with the hidden ugly secrets their facial expressions exposed into the out and open. Which in this case were the McKinney's eyes. The occasional order to do something hilariously silly as a kind of punishment wasn't unheard of.

At the age of eight was when the Mckinney twins finally got the courage to approach their parents. Unleashing everything they had witnessed over the course of nearly two years, to present the mendaciously dishonest hound of a man, a man of which didn't deserve the time of day.

Merritt had managed to put him in a state where whatever questions he and Chase asked him, he would speak the truth. Let's just say the outcome involved a lot of swearing and objects being damaged, as a result of the aftermath of their stunt.

Then in a matter of less than forty-eight hours, their dad had just got up and left, claiming what the kids had made him reveal was true. Leaving the twins to deal with their mother's drunken wrath of pure rage.

"This is all your fucking fault!" Was the roared insult tossed at them that very same day, along with the second empty bottle of red wine she had consumed that night, having landed just mere inches above their heads.

Merritt had vowed to himself that night to never be dragged down to that level of corruption.

Since then alcohol became their mother's dependency in order to live through life as despair caught up with her, which meant the Mckinney twins had to look after themselves. This lead to a pact between the brothers that they were to always have each others back, no matter what occurred in the future. As long as they had one another, the shit life hurled at them could go to hell.

So at the age of ten when they had finally had enough of watching their mother drown all traces of nurture or any morals she once had, the twins choose to start afresh by running away to focus on themselves and their lives together.

It had just come up to seven o'clock that very evening when the Mckinney twins had made their move to freedom. All they took with them was a few items of clothing, some food the small bags they used could carry and all the cash they could get their hands on. Not that their alcohol possessed mother would notice.

Before they knew it they were standing just inches from the building they once called home. Looking back to the stranger of a front door, Merritt tossed the spare house key they had found into the drain, both the brothers listening carefully to the loud splash as the key hit the water below them.

It wasn't until what seemed like an eternity of endless walking that they found a bus station only occupied by a couple of people. However, as they made a move towards the bus they intended to get on, they caught sight of the man who couldn't have been any older than his early forties driving the empty bus leaving to end his shift for the day.

"Hey, not so fast!" Chase had shouted, rushing over towards the man like a deranged animal that had just escaped from the zoo.

Grabbing the man by his arm, Chase yanked it so he had no option but to look at him in the eyes. "When I snap my fingers you will sleep at my command. Now sleep!"

When the man did nothing but give him an odd look in response, Chase huffed irritably.

"I said, sleep!" He then yelled, his frustration interfering with his ability or inability to hypnotize the man. Despite, them sharing the identical looks and voice if there was one difference between the two brothers it was their tolerance for unexpected failures. Chase had always been the one with a shorter fuse, while Merritt was more level headed about those kinds of situations.

It was then up to Merritt to take over if they were to be going anywhere that day.

As he Gently pushed his brother aside, Merritt went to stand in front of the man, face to face. "Look into my eyes, and sleep," was the calmly told command which sent the man flopping forward onto his left shoulder in a deep sleep. Chase watched his older brother with a slightly envious facial expression.

"When I snap my fingers you are going to take us to a hotel that is far away from here, which you will do for free." The lifeless man remained in a lolled position as Merritt whispered those exact words into his ear, making sure the man absorbed his instructions.

"And, wide awake!" The bus driver was then snapped back to reality, unaware of what had just happened between him and the McKinney twins.

"Fancy a ride to a hotel far away from here?"

The Mckinney brothers wordlessly nodded as they took their seats, a look of success shared between them.

Once the bus had begun to move away from their hometown, Merritt chose to spend the time looking out from the window. Watching as the remains of the lingering light faded into the rapid fall of the night.

Taking a second to glance over to his younger brother who was twiddling his thumbs to keep himself occupied, a heartwarming smile spread across his lips as he pictured themselves settling down somewhere, with mentalism as their reliable source of income.

Laying back with his arms tucked behind his head, that very same thought continued to race through his own mind, until he felt himself drift off to sleep.

Chapter Text

“Chasey and a Mere-bear, gonna make you scare bear? That’s just weird on so many levels Chase.”

“Oh come on bro, everyone knows that a catchy phrase gains the most attention which is what we want. Isn’t it?”

With that Merritt reluctantly let the annoyingly embarrassing phrase slide, as it wasn’t too long before the two of them began to get noticed within the streets.

To begin with, their first few attempts at gaining the attention of the general public had been a challenge. But once they had targeted a few people unexpectedly, each with their own deceitful, dark secret they desired to remain concealed to the public domain at any cost. That cost going straight into the McKinney’s pockets.

“Let me guess, your name is, Regina, no Renetta, Renetta Morgan .” Merritt had said to a teenage girl with her boyfriend, who seemed surprised at the fact he was accurately able to guess her name.

“And your lucky boyfriend's name is Samuel or as he prefers to be called Sam,” Chase added, cooing at the couple with kissy noises.

“And according to my senses, you two have been dating for around two and half years, am I right?” The twins had received gasps of amazement from the couple in response to yet another dead right estimate, along with a few others who had taken to keeping a watchful eye on the insanely interesting brothers.

“Now, we're gonna move on from the minor details and dive straight into the real stuff.”

“And what better way to do this than discovering just how much you two really love each other, after all, two and a half years is a pretty impressive amount time to be dating someone.” The couple smiled for the second time since the strange arrival of the twins.

Merritt had then proceeded to walk up to Samuel, only to suddenly stop in his tracks. “Oh, what am I doing? Any fool knows that the ladies always get the privilege of going first.”

Having stood in front of Renetta so they were more or less face to face, Merritt lifted both his hands up onto his forehead, making Renetta giggle.

“Now, I’m picturing something small, something fluffy which goes by the name of Fluffy. Not the most creative name. Now, correct me if I’m wrong but this Fluffy is a he, and to be more precise he’s your beloved pet cat you got just over a year ago.”

“I got him for Renetta for our anniversary,” Samuel admitted, earning himself a few ‘awws’ from the crowd of people who seemed to multiply by the minute.

“But that wasn’t the only thing you benefitted her with,” Chase had then stated, looking over towards his older brother who knew what was to come next.

Glancing over to the amazement filled girl, both the brothers took a step closer towards her. “You’ve bought her numerous pairs of earrings, all of which are of expensive taste. Then we come to the meals you have paid for, the trips to the movies and not to mention your friends.” The last part of his sentence was said as a muffled cough, which the couple both managed to pick up on.

“What!” Samuel snapped, his face no longer displaying his earlier astonishment towards the twins. While Renetta herself had worn her own facial expression that gave off vibes of fury.

“You’ll find out soon enough.” Renetta frowned at the simple statement.

“Sooner than you think in fact because I can sense a name coming into mind. Let me see, does it begin with an A, no, too far! Er, shall I go deeper into the alphabet and say M? Nope, still not right. Ah, hang on what about the letter R? Oh yes, we're definitely getting somewhere now!”

“This is stupid, we're out of here!” Renetta had shouted, tugging at her boyfriend's arm. However, a quite, almost deadly mumbled ‘stay’ from him had put an end to her demands.

“Uh, uh, we can’t stop now, it’s beginning to get interesting.”

“Now, this name beginning with R, does it stand for Robert? No, no Raphael, no wait Ralph!” Renetta had involuntarily let out a squeak from her pursed lips, giving the McKinney’s all they needed to make their next move towards the truth.

“Why, who’s Ralph?” Chase had asked, his eyes darting in between the couple in search of an answer.

“He’s my best friend,” Samuel said, unable to look at his girlfriend who in turn couldn't look at him either.

“Oh, that’s kinda sad. Was one not enough for you Renetta?” Chase questioned, he and Merritt both shooting stern glares at her.

“Hang on there's more, ooh I feel a long list on the way. It’s like an essay of names all in one go!”

Renetta had tried to interrupt for the second time, she was soon put in her place when Merritt put her into a trance which didn’t allow her to speak nor move.

“Ethan, Finn, Isaac, John, Keith, Ricardo, Norman, this list could fill up the entire city if I was to carry on. Besides, I think you get the picture.” All eyes were then placed on Samuel whose eyes were shining at the heart-shattering revelation, while the crowd viciously booed at Renetta, pointing fingers and whispering. For a moment Merritt could honestly feel for him.

However, that sympathy vanished as quickly as it had come on when Chase said, "wait, now the tables are turning!” While doing a motion with his hand before turning to address Samuel.

It was at that moment when Merritt had realized something crucial that really did turn the tables on the seemingly lovestruck couple.

“Well, well well Sammy, for a minute I thought you were nothing more but an innocent boy. But it seems not everything is what it seems.”

Having noticed the way Samuels' fists had suddenly changed from calm to clenched, they knew he was in no position to prove them wrong.

“Turns out Sammy here has written a list of his very own, it begins with a Kayla, then goes onto an Anna, Evangeline, Penelope and to finish off with a Bethan. Looks like you're a huge fan of the redheads.”

Renetta who had been unable to say a word against her will turned to look at Samuel with a murderous facial expression. Running a hand through her own short red hair.

“You're not so guilty free yourself, so I don’t think it’s fair to act all angry about it.” Merritt had said towards the couple before turning to address the crowd who cheered in agreement.

“And now that the truth has been revealed, I’m pretty sure you both want-” Chase had been cut off from his sentence when Samuel took a couple of steps closer to him, his fist balled as if to throw a punch at any given moment.

There prediction had been correct as just when Samuel decided to swing at Chase, Merritt had made his move to stand in front of him with a stern glare. “Hey, it’s not his fault you two are a pair of cheating snakes that just so happened to be exposed.”

Samuel had growled in response just as Renetta flipped them off

“You know we could make all this disappear if our interests are taken into account,” Chase offered in a more sing-song type of voice. This only aggravated the dishonest couple to their breaking point. Which for the McKinney’s was a relief.

Having nothing else to say to the Mckinney brothers, Samuel fumbled in his pocket and slammed a portion of money into Merritt’s hand, demanding for them to never set a foot near him again. He then turned to face Renetta who had now been given back her voice, with the simple statement that he and her were over.

“Ouch, such a harsh way to end it. Why don’t you see if one of your other boyfriends will comfort you.” Merritt flashed her a false smile immediately afterward, while Chase waved her goodbye in a silly manner.

“You jerks!” Was the last thing Renetta had to say to the twins, storming off into the distance, as she kicked several bins nearby as a substitute for the McKinneys brothers.

Once the ex-couple had begun to walk off in different directions, the crowd's roars of excitement as they went filled the McKinney twins ears. Never had they really received much praise in their lifetime before, and in all honesty, it felt wonderful to show a fraction of the world their talent and to be appreciated for it.

Then as their success in revealing strangers secrets increased within weeks of leaving home it wasn’t just the general public who took a liking to the twins.

It was on a particularly triumphant day for the twins from exposing yet again another pathetic liar to an unsuspecting victim who sometimes paid the Mckinney's as a silent thank you, to telling a happy couple the sex of their baby, when a lady in a professional suit type outfit had introduced herself as Charlene Wicks. It turned out she was interested in being an agent for the McKinney’s as a guarantee for their growth in fame and fortune.

At first, neither twin had the words to come up with a response to her out of the blue offer, in the end, they told her they would think about it.

However, it wasn’t long before they would meet again as during one evening of a fairly busy day the twins were unexpectedly targeted by two bulky men, one of who they had previously hypnotized to sing, along with the dance to the macarena every time he thought of abusing his wife.

“Those are the two urchins who decided they were to realize my secret to the public, just a shame their choice of person was a bad one!”

Just as the two men made their move to grab them by the scruff of their necks, the echoing sound of something metal ferociously smacking against the back of their heads, knocking them out stone cold in a matter of seconds. The twins could only stand and watch as the two men lifelessly collapsed onto the floor with a huge thud.

After a few seconds of just staring in a mixture of astonishment and a hint of the fear that remained tugging at the pit of their stomachs, the twins eventually looked up to see a familiar face looking back at them.

“Boys, I see we meet again,” was the greeting from Charlene Wicks. A small shine in her eye could be noticed as she spoke to the bewildered brothers.

Once the twins were in a reasonable state to talk, it had been agreed that they were to work with Charlene, making her their agent as a thank you for saving them from a life-threatening beating.

From then onwards things began to change drastically for the Mckinney’s. Some were easy enough to accept, while others took them a bit longer to adjust to. But if they were to choose the best part of all this, it was without a doubt the sudden boost of popularity that they would have never been able to achieve just on their own.

However, all that changed when news of a huge party was to be hosted by a good friend of Charlene's down the street. On the other hand, it wasn’t the only issue they had to deal with that night.

“We can’t go to the party, Chase is sick,” was what Merritt had told an uncaring Charlene around half an hour before the party was to commence.

“You’ll just have to ride it solo won’t you?”

Merritt’s stomach twisted just at the mere thought of going alone. “No, we’re a two man team. That's why the Mini McKinney’s has an s on the end.”

“Well, the ‘s’ will have to be struck off for tonight!” Charlene sharply commanded as she adjusted her hair that was tied up in a tight bun. “Besides, how many people in showbiz turn down a great opportunity just because of a minor setback?”

“Just do it,” Chase had added in a quiet plea, Merritt only had to look into his eyes for a split second to realize he couldn't say no to him.

So he went to the party, on his own. Which quite frankly scared him a bit.

It wasn’t the fact he was at a party with at least two hundred people overcrowding the area, nor was it that Charlene was eyeing up his every move like an overly obsessed hawk. It was the nerve-wracking reality that he was riding solo for the first time, just him and the stage.

Don’t screw it up! Charlene had mouthed just minutes before he was due to set foot on the stage, without Chase.

Despite, the constant worry of messing up racing through his mind throughout the whole show, to his surprise he found himself showered with praise and applause on a level he had never experienced when performing with Chase.

To add to his abrupt growth in fans, Charlene had also contributed to his flock of glory by the way her facial features expressed a look of pride in what he had achieved. Although, as pleasing as it was for him, he couldn't help but noticed a greedy gleam present itself within her eye.

A gleam he had no desire to find out about that evening.

When he did come back from the party, he could immediately tell that something was plaguing his younger brothers mind. Which it didn't take him long to vocalize.

“Successful then?” Was all he needed to say, Merritt had winced at the tone of his brother's words.

“Yeah, but it didn’t feel right without you there.” Even though his response conveyed some meaning to how he felt, it didn’t stop the slight tingle of joy from having secretly enjoyed being the only one within the hands of the spotlight. Nevertheless, Chase had smiled softly at Merritt's words of reassurance.

But none of this made it worth leaving Chase, they were loyal and devoted to their pact.

And no amount of success and glory was to change that.

Chapter Text

"This Mini McKinney's thing isn't working for me anymore."

"What!" Merritt had exclaimed in horror, appalled that now at the age of sixteen Charlene was about to drop everything they had achieved after having worked for her so many years.

"I thought me and Mere bear were doing great!" Chase added, Merritt had to put a maximum amount of effort not to cringe at the horribly chosen nickname.

Charlene snapped her head round to face the McKinney brothers, before sharply spouting out something neither twin expected to hear.

"Oh, Mere bear is doing just fine." Charlene had then viciously pointed at Chase when saying, "you on the other hand just aren't making the cut."

For a moment Chase nor Merritt could squeeze out a single word as shock filled their systems, leaving them unable to come up with a single retort to Charlene's rather abrupt sentence.

"How can you say that, surely the public like me and Chase?" Merritt questioned, having bravely decided to break the uncomfortable silence.

"They like you, Merritt." Charlene had retorted, emphasizing on the word you. "Chasey here contributes to the act like a fly does in someone's presence, sure, the fly makes itself known by buzzing around to gain some of the attention, but in the end, it is destined to be swatted away until finally, someone decides to squash it. Therefore, I'm only letting the fly out the window before it leaves its mark that's a right bugger to remove ."

"You can't seriously be suggesting I kick my own brother to the curb and go solo!" Merritt shouted, disgusted that Charlene would even attempt to try to split them up in such a shady way.

Besides, he had already had to go solo against his will once, and despite the fact he might have enjoyed it he would never ditch Chase. If he went so did Merritt.

"You know for a mentalist, you're pretty slow to catch on!" Was yet another hurled insult from Charlene, who looked as if she was ready to smack some sense into the McKinney twins.

And at that moment Merritt couldn't have cared less.

"Well Miss Wicks, as much as it's been nice to have worked under your thumb, if you won't allow my brother Chase to be on that stage with me then we don't perform at all."

Charlene scoffed. "Fine. Though I think you've made a grave mistake there McKinney."

Just as she had begun to hastily make a grab for her phone, Chase had rushed towards her just as a dog would at feeding time. The agent scowled at the younger twins sudden approach.

"You know she does have a point brosky," Chase said to a more than perturbed Merritt who had no trouble in making his confusion known.

"Chase, how can you agree with her?" Merritt had questioned in a quieter tone than usual, his voice shaky from what had been revealed.

"Think about it, wouldn't it be great to have everyone's eyes all on you, their roars of amazement ringing through your ears, particularly those from the female fans. Not to mention the sexy feeling of the wads of cash piled onto the palms of your hands. Plus you already have the experience of the whole solo thing, and I wouldn't be totally out the picture. I could be something like your manager, so I would still be part of the action just not in the same way I used to."

Merritt frowned at his brother's rather long speech, each and every word he had spoken somehow managed to convince him to go along with it. Chase must have been nit picking through his mind throughout this whole time if he had been able to capture the tug of emotions Merritt was currently experiencing all in a matter of seconds.

"I can't do that to you bro," was all Merritt could utter out, sadly shaking his head as his facial features screwed up slightly.

Then all of a sudden Chase's facial expression abruptly transformed from his usual fun loving smile to an uncharacteristic, almost murderous glare of pure anger. As the older McKinney brother blinked rapidly into Chase's eyes, he could sense a rather disturbing vibe radiating from the way his body language seemed to threaten him, a vibe of which he had no desire to dig any deeper into.

Having lost the energy to argue along with quickly glancing over to Charlene whose hand remained clutching her phone, but a step nearer to tossing it to the side. Merritt had then taken one of his deepest breaths of his entire life so far.

"Okay, I'll do it." Merritt agreed in the same quiet tone as before, this had instantly reverted the odd but as equally frightening moment of his brother's sudden change in behavior.

It hadn't taken too much longer for Charlene to place her phone back to its original spot on her desk, a grasping smile spreading across her lips at the new agreed arrangement.

And that had been that.

From that day onwards Merritt's journey to fame and fortune with Chase as his manager continued to grow until he was officially known as America's best mentalist. Then before he knew it he was being offered guests appearances on TV shows before receiving a couple of his very own television specials. But that was minuscule compared to his first ever tour around the country, which turned out to be huge in numbers. The memory of that very day the event came into display would certainly never fade.

He called those days his glory days, particularly the ones that gained him an extensive amount of cash, along with the company of a few girls long after his shows had finished. And with the little spare time he had, he devoted that time to write a book based on his experiences as a professional mentalist.

All was well and truly filled with glory. He had fans who adored him, a mind blowing amounts of success and money which just seemed to fall into his lap. With Chase and an assertive yet skillful agent by his side, it couldn't have gotten any better. The world was in quite a literal sense his oyster.

Until the oyster flipped the other way. Leaving Merritt to deal with the bitter aftermath of the heavy smack to his confidence and self-worth.

"Chase? Chase!" Merritt had called as he entered the apartment he and Chase shared.

Despite, the large portions of money fame provided, it was nowhere near enough to live anywhere too fancy such as a two story house. So as long as it was reasonably liveable and there was a decent amount of space enough for two people, they were fine with it.

As Merritt continued to call for Chase around the living room, a gut wrenching feeling of worry made itself known when he received nothing in response. Normally he wouldn't have bothered getting himself in such a tizzy, but something rather distressing had come up which he needed to discuss with Chase urgently.

He had only encountered this issue that very morning when he went to buy some food and drink supplies as they were running low. However, when it came to paying for the items, his credit card had been denied. Tempting as it was to hypnotize the cashier to let him have them for free, it would only have drawn complaints and the last thing Merritt wanted to deal with was a bollocking from Charlene.

So he had run over to the nearest cash machine to find his credit card had been completely swept clean of any money he had earned within the past few years. As a mixture of fury and fear sent chills down his spine, Merritt had run back over to his apartment in desperate need to talk to Chase, who he'd been trying to contact ever since.

Once he'd become fed up with waiting for Chase to return, the older McKinney brother scrambled for his phone and frantically dialed his number. After having tried his mobile number three times he had left a voicemail along the lines of, "Chase, pick up! Someone has stolen all my money!"

Once he'd forced himself to hang up, Merritt groaned as he tried to refrain himself from undergoing a panic attack.

After a few minutes of persistent pacing around the living room, Merritt reached out towards his phone to contact the only other person he could.

Although he had a fair inkling of what to expect from Charlene, he'd phoned her up to inform her of his alarming discovery. Nevertheless, she showed no interest in helping him, which soon got proved loud and clear when she hung up halfway through explaining his situation.

"Shit!" Merritt yelled, slamming his phone on the table as he pulled on a handful of his thin shoulder length blond hair to remain calm.

Charlene had never been the type to sympathize with anyone during rough times. If shit happened to you that was just tough.

Before he could even process what had just happened, a sudden loud pounding bang at the door snapped him out of his thoughts. At first, he thought a crazy obsessed fan of his had somehow found their way to his apartment, it wouldn't have been the first time if this had been the case.

However, this theory was soon scrapped when a booming command to open the door echoed behind the front door. Merritt's eyes widened in shock when he opened it to find two police officers staring right back at him.

"Merritt McKinney?" one of the police officers questioned, his voice firm.

"Yeah?" Merritt responded, unsure of what to expect, despite being America's top mentalist.

"You're under arrest!" said the other police officer who made an attempt to grab Merritts arms to put them in handcuffs.

"Wait, what?!" Merritt shouted out, taken aback at what he was hearing. He even pinched himself in case this was all just a hideous nightmare, alas it was reality showing its ugly side.

"We have camera evidence of you stealing a car, as well as mugging an elderly man and an attempted burglary."

"Hang on, I haven't done anything of the sort!" Merritt protested even though he could tell he clearly wasn't doing himself any justice.

"It's all there McKinney, and if you don't confess your gonna make it more difficult for yourself."

"I swear, I didn't do any of that. It wasn't me-"

Then all of a sudden Merritt felt a heavy twinge enter his system as the room spun around him. Everything instantly dawned on him like a grand piano crashing onto its unfortunate victim. Chase. It was Chase who had done all this, stealing his money, the crimes, all of it. To put it mildly, it hurt like hell. It made him question various aspects of his life, those he couldn't bare to think about.

Had Chase truly been there for him throughout his career? Or was he just in it to gain his share of the income?

Did Chase really convince him to go solo to protect him from having to start over as a nobody in the streets? Or was it just for show to hide the fact he'd done what he did for his own benefit?

Was he ever serious about the pact the twins had agreed to as kids? Or was that just another act of his selfish ways?

Merritt wanted to kick himself multiple times until he knocked himself out for being so stupid, so entwined with the glory of being famous and enjoyed that he didn't notice his traitor of a brother stealing from him right under his very nose. How could he have been so unaware of Chase's intentions for that amount of time? What made it worse was Chase had been so sly, so secretive about the true colors of his schemes, it made Charlene look who made no effort to hide the fact she was dominated by the wonders of money like an angel.

His train of thought soon turned to Charlene as her earlier dismissal of his problems came to mind. Quite frankly, he wouldn't have been surprised if she had been in on it too.

Merritt must have dazed out as he soon found himself in handcuffs that scratched against his skin.

"Merritt McKinney, you have the right to remain silent. If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire…"

The policeman's words fell on deaf ears, in fact from that moment on everything went by in a blur. He'd barely noticed himself being dragged away from his apartment and shoved into a police car, nor did he snap out of his intense rush of thoughts throughout the entire journey to what was more than likely to be his long term home.

It wasn't until he found himself in a gloomy gray room with only his reflection on the observation mirror to keep him occupied. The very reflection of a man who had just been cheated from all his hard earned money and life. Having little energy to deal with anything else that day, Merritt banged his head onto the stone cold table as the dread of what his future consisted of crept closer towards him.

"Merritt McKinney, male, age twenty-five has been charged with the following crimes, car theft, muggery and an attempted burglary."

Looking up from where he was stood Merritt found himself face to face with the judge and various witnesses, including the elderly man he supposedly mugged.

"Merritt McKinney, I shall now ask of you, do you plead guilty or not guilty?"

Looking sorry for himself Merritt sighed in remorse. If he did try to defend himself he was only going to get every reason he should be sent down hurled back at him. Even if he was somehow proved innocent, what would he have to come back to that was worth it? Whatever remained of his washed away career, along with an apartment that held way too many memories based on lies and self-centered actions. The harsh reality was, he had nothing left, so what was spending a couple of years in prison to him? At least he would get fed, even if it was inedible muck.

"Guilty."

Merritt was soon placed in a cell shared by two other men, who had the structure of a ten-foot gorilla, but also with the intelligence of a fruit fly. At first, they mocked his skinny figure all the way down to his skills in mentalism, that was until some rather embarrassing secrets had been revealed against their own will. They didn't dare bother him after that.

The cell itself was a less than habitable square space with thick gray walls of stone that Merritt spent most of his days staring at, the blankness of the walls being the only thing keeping him from going totally insane. To the side there was a window, not like the one he remembered looking out of after a successful day, instead, it was a heavily barred midget of a window with no glass. In the summer it was a minimum relief from the stench of the overwhelming heat, but in winter it let in a nasty draft that reduced the temperatures below of what it was outside. The joke of a bed was simply just a steel bedstead, with a practically concrete mattress and a manky blanket and pillow piled on top. He sometimes struggled to tell whether it was day or night due to the constant darkness of the room as if even a hint of light was forbidden to enter under any circumstances. Some days were suffocatingly quiet, while others were filled with protests from the other inmates. Those were the days he often compared his car crash of a wreck he'd force himself to call his life.

As the three and a half years he'd been sentenced to slowly passed by Merritt went through a major transformation. His formerly warm, outgoing personality turned into one of hatred and resentment. It wasn't too long until his heart went through a similar process, as the cold bitter wrath that lingered around him invaded the man who was once content with his existence.

For Merritt, this really was an all time low.

Chapter Text

“Stand towards the door McKinney,” a male officer ordered, fiddling with the keys between his fingers.

Moving to follow his instructions, Merritt let out a small sigh as he came face to face with the last prison door he was to see. The very door that in a matter of minutes would lead him to his freedom was a dull, gray, unburnished piece of metal that like Merritt, had seen better days.

Unclipping the one key from a whole chain of keys, the mentalist watched with bated breath as the officer made his way towards the door in total silence. The silence seeming so deafening it was almost unbearable.

Soon enough Merritt heard the door slowly open in front of him, the creaking noise causing goosebumps to invade his arms. It sounded like a cry for help, the intense amount of pain and sorrow leaking through the side of the door until the hand of the officer held it firmly in place.

“You may leave Mr. McKinney.”

Straightening up his posture, Merritt wasted no time in making his rather quick exit. And despite his efforts in trying to fight it, he found he was unable to help himself look back at the building he had spent the past three and a half years trapped inside.

All it took was one final stern look from the officer to make himself scarce for good.

It wasn’t until he had walked at least a few long meters away from the prison, that he suddenly realized just how cold and bitter the air really was. Even when he had pulled his jacket as tight around himself as he possibly could, still somehow the harsh bite of the chilly wind went right through him.

Having no choice but to ignore the frigid wind that seemed to poke him with icy fingers, Merritt dragged himself towards the nearest footpath where he planned on walking until he was able to find himself suitable shelter.

Alas, he had no such luck. And after spending hours walking nonstop he settled on going to sleep on a rusty old bench that was literally just a few planks of cheap wood crudely nailed together, hoping he could at least catch a few hours undisturbed.

Running a hand through his overgrown, unkempt, disheveled blond hair he made himself as comfy as he could possibly be on a bench that was horribly rough against his skin, preparing himself for a more than likely restless night.

Having been forced into an early start the following morning, Merritt could already tell the upcoming few weeks were going to have their ups and downs.

Finding temporary accommodation had been rather like tossing a coin. Sometimes he was able to snap up a place to stay for the night, other times he wasn’t so lucky. Even when he had managed to find somewhere to sleep, he still had to work for it. Those days mostly required him going to less than decent hotels to hypnotize whoever was on the desk that night into letting him stay the night for free, and for the record he had only been chucked out by a seething manager once.

On the other hand, when he wasn’t capable of providing himself any shelter, things became slightly more complicated.

Food and drink were the easiest of the lot. All he really had to do was take the essentials he needed from various supermarkets, and do it within mostly ten minutes before closing time, when it was more than certain he would get away without paying for them.

Other everyday needs could be a challenge at times. Let’s just say it required taking long trips to public restrooms, or in extremely unfortunate cases the only other option available to him was going behind a bush.

After having to adjust to all the necessary requirements, including trying to keep a low profile for himself, it became a sort of routine for him. Not that he had much choice.

Then as soon as he became relatively comfortable with how he was having to live, it wasn’t long before he tried his hand at conning people out of cash by uncovering their sinful secrets in a less than polite way.

To put it mildly, there were good days and bad days. However, there were one or two odd days which bad wasn’t a strong enough word for.

“ I don’t believe it, it’s Merritt Mckinney. I could recognize that face anywhere!” A middle-aged lady had randomly exclaimed as she ran over to get a closer look at him, sending razor blade chills down the mentalists spine.

Great, someone who knew him. That's all he needed.

“Though, you do seem to look a bit rough these days. Did the whole mentalism thing not work out for you dear?”

Merritt had to fight his overwhelming urge to strangle the women with what remained of his self-control. Instead, he balled his fists behind his back so the women couldn't see, though it was more for his own benefit than hers.

“I could have sworn you were doing so well, I just don’t understand how-”

The lady was suddenly cut off from her sentence as Merritt grabbed her by the arm, yanking her towards him, before placing her into a trance, having completely lost his cool.

“You know you really should cut down on your habit of being nosey, cause one day you’re gonna piss off the wrong person!” Merritt had begun, his voice sharp and raspy as if he was to burst into tears.

And although he had felt the sudden twinge of moisture building up inside his eyes, there was no way he would let himself cry. Not here. He had to stay strong for his own sake. Besides, he hadn’t cried when he discovered Chase had stolen all his money and split. Nor did he even shed a tear throughout the three and a half years he spent in prison.

Crying wouldn’t have helped during those times, and it certainly wouldn't do any good now.

However, he soon found himself involuntarily distracted as memories of various times he had spent with Chase began to flash to the front of his mind, and despite his best efforts, he couldn't shut them down. Soon afterward the feeling of despair insidiously worked its way through Merritts emotional state, the formerly fond memories shared with his brother now tearing up any trace of happiness once found within them.

Then in a matter of seconds, he was thrown into a vision of the past. He was standing just mere inches away from the dozens of screaming fans crowding around him during one point of his tour around America. Loving the way the microphone wrapped around his ear projects his voice to mark his importance. The cameras in every direction he could think of snapping photo’s of him, the shine of his bright sea like blue eyes radiating his pride. After the show, he turns around to see the looks of approval from Chase and the team he worked for. He’s then showered with a series of good jobs and nicely handled, particularly from Chase.

But then those cheers of admiration and respect soon turned into an abrupt isolating silence. The flashing cameras with their sole purpose to capture all the glory of his success transformed into the ones back at the prison, their only goal to expose the so-called criminal for all to see and hate upon.

It was all too much. The almost blinding reminders of how great things were at one point of his life, the pain those memories felt no remorse in leaving behind. But most of all it was the fact that they played with his emotions, sending them all over the place like a group of teenagers at a wild party. Emotions caused him nothing but problems. They made you believe nobody or anything can bring you down, then change you when the shit hits the fan.

Not to mention they interfered with the mentalism. Merritt had been unlucky enough to find all this out during a day at school when one of the class bullies caught him alone one lunchtime, to make matters worse he taunted Merritt over his father leaving just three days after it happened. When his first plan of sweet talking the bully to leave him alone failed, he switched over to his hypnotism only to find himself crying halfway through.

Long story short the hypnotism didn't work, leaving Merritt to deal with the mortifying aftermath. But if anything, it did teach him a valuable lesson. A lesson he would never let himself forget.

The Mentalist had to practically shake himself free from the visions fierce grip before he totally lost it.

God, pull yourself together! Merritt had mentally hissed to himself, pinching his arm rather viciously to put an end to all the nonsense. Surprisingly he had managed to keep the women's trance intact throughout the whole time, maybe he wasn’t so bad at blocking out his emotions after all.

Making sure to scrub at the unshed tears that formed in Merritts' eyes, his facial expression then darkened as he focused his attention back on the women, who he still had one more thing to make loud and clear

“In fact, as of this day onwards you no longer know who I am, so you’ll never want to bother with or even talk about me ever again!” Merritt finished off in a calmer tone than previously, even if it was a tad shaky.

Snapping his fingers rather impatiently the woman was then summoned back to reality, having not remembered that less than five minutes ago she had been going on about mentalism had betrayed him.

“Do I know you?” The women asked, looking at Merritt with questioning eyes as if clueless to what she was doing next to a stranger.

“No.” Merritt dryly stated in response, watching carefully as the women nervously muttered out an apology, just before walking away from where she had briefly interrogated him. Merritt continued to stare at that very spot even after she was long gone.

His days were never quite the same after that.

Those memories he had tried so hard to dump and discard returned with a vengeance, constantly plaguing his mind like a cosmic curse sent to trip him up. To begin with, these metaphorical trips only occurred maybe once a day if he was extremely fortunate. However, as time progressed so did the trips and their harrowing ways of portraying just how screwed his life really was.

It had become so frequent and dare he say frightening, that sometimes Merritt couldn't bare to open his eyes to face yet another bout of furious memories out to attack him.

That was until he came across what would become his best friend and a top priority for survival.

Alcohol.

It hadn’t been his intention to drown down the pain this way. He had only wanted to stop off somewhere to relieve the agonizing pain his feet were subjected to, as a result of hours of endless walking. The nearest place for him was a modern pub that seemed decent enough to be in.

The bar only a few steps in front of him was filled with conversations told in loud voices, most of them competing with the jazz music playing in the background. Having to weave his way through the numerous amounts of bodies to order himself a drink, he pulls out however much cash he managed to earn that day, and before he knows it it's all safely tucked away inside the pubs till.

Of course, it had started with just the one, then a second one because hey why not? Closely followed by a third and fourth which by this time Merritt had lost count, but it felt great so why the hell should he care? Though, little did he know it was just the beginning.

Once the alcohol's effects had grasped onto Merritt’s everyday life like a clingy girlfriend, there was no stopping it. Each pub he came across he thought of as his home, with each drink being offered seeming like an even better idea than the last. He adored the way it seemed to possess the power to toss away his troubles to the darkest corner of his mind, this freedom allowing him to spend his evenings without a care in the world.

Being drunk was his coping mechanism, and for the most part, it did a bloody good job.

As soon as whichever pub Merritt was closest to welcomed him with open arms it doesn't take long for a beer to be ordered, seeing as he’s usually the first one in. The first one always goes down the quickest, as does the second one which after consuming triggers him to have another one and another after that. Then by the time closing time comes around he’s walking as if the ground beneath him is a deck of a storm-tossed boat, his feet colliding with the concrete as he stumbles to where he will sleep for the night.

The heavy feeling of nausea, along with a splitting headache from the hangover he wakes up to the following morning is just a minor price to pay. But it’s well worth the pain just to escape from his whirlwind of troubles, even if it was only for a few hours.

That being said, just like every other good thing out there, it didn't mean his love for alcohol was without its disadvantages. Hangovers for one were a definite drawback, almost as if the pounding sensation within his head was a school teacher yelling at a student for talking in class. The hangovers he could deal with, it was the sobering up and realizing his problems in life remained clamped to his back.

Alas, the only way to solve it was to get drunk all over again.

Unfortunately, on a particularly miserable evening, not even the immense amounts of booze could save Merritt from his sorrows.

It was that time of year again, which even after four years still felt as if it had happened that very day. And despite having drunk more than he should have done, the etched memories that had somehow become invincible replayed themselves in his mind like a broken record player.

Having walked for a while (as walking had become somewhat of a hobby for him) to find himself somewhere sufficiently private to sit, Merritts tiresome, weary body slid to the ground. His hands clasping his face as he laid his head on his knees, so his posture was in the shape of a tightly screwed up ball.

It was at that moment where he could no longer conceal his fury.

“Fuck you!” Merritt had screamed out multiple times, not giving a damn if anyone who was to walk past him saw the drunken lunatic of a man with clenched fists hollering in the street. In addition to the screaming he lets escape a few gasping cries, as the deep despair, he has spent god knows how long shoving back hit him as if he’d taken several blows to the stomach. Each one considerably harder than the other.

After having spent a period of time unintentionally feeling sorry for himself, Merritt had managed to calm himself down just enough to end up drifting off to sleep. But it was when he woke up a couple of hours later that he was in for a surprise.

At first, his initial thoughts were someone had called the police on him as a large shadow appeared in front of him, without being able to see who or what it was. He didn't fear the police in the slightest, he’d dealt with them too many times to care.

However, Merritt’s theory of it being the police was soon proved wrong as the strange shadow revealed itself to be an elderly woman, who looked to be in her mid-seventies or even early eighties if he was to push it. Appearance wise her face was gently structured with fragile skin, her body figure thin and slender. Her just above shoulder length hair gray and slightly scraggy, with a hint of curls giving it some life. She wore a dark brown trench coat, with a lighter brown scarf and a jet black fedora hat placed on the top of her head.

“What do you want?” Merritt had tried to say, his words coming out slurred and most likely senseless. Though, it didn’t stop the woman responding to him.

“Oh my, well if you sound as dreadful as you look, then life must really be giving you the cold shoulder.”

Merritt scowled at the woman in pure anger, how dare she make fun of how he was forced to live his train wreck of a life. Attempting to defend himself against the woman's badly chosen words, the mentalist began to pick himself up to scare her off, only to stumble back onto the ground due to the effects of his alcohol intake.

“You really have had it rough huh? Perhaps there's more to you than what meets the eye.”

Merritt was silent. He must have given up on mentalism for the night as he had no clue on what she had meant by that.

“You could use some TLC. A cozy bed, a warm blanket and a nice hot shower should do you some good.”

Merritt chose to give her a look of disgust as a substitute for his lack of words. He’s practically thirty for christ sake, he doesn't need someone to treat him like a little kid. It made him seem like he was unable to do a thing for himself.

Hoping to be second time lucky Merritt tries to say something to object to the women's delusional idea of help, instead he lets out a body heaving sneeze, followed by a pitiful snuffle.

“You need to be taken care of, being alone for so long can harden any man.”

The woman’s words fell on deaf ears as the mentalist began to fade out from reality once more. He wasn’t sure what had happened afterward.

But if there was one thing he knew for certain, he no longer remained in the stone cold streets.

Chapter Text

Rousing clumsily from his heavy slumber the following morning Merritt was greeted to the strange bout of warmth that made his body tingle with delight, along with the morning light shining through the blinds of a window he wasn't familiar with. Slowly turning over to change position he jumps at the sudden feeling of a soft object that he certainly didn't recall being underneath him, just before noticing the rustling sound of the white patterned duvet covers gently tucked in around his exhausted body frame.

Now that he was awake (or perhaps more fully awake than he'd ever been) Merritt then pushed himself in a seated position, scanning the room at a slow pace as he tried to make sense of his surroundings.

The room itself was an adequately sized space which contained a small bedside table with a pale colored lamp only mere inches away from the single bed. Over to his right, Merritt spotted a bird sitting in a tree painting hanging up on the silver embossed wallpaper, along with a pure white armchair right beside the window, with a fluffy white cushion gracefully placed on top to match. Then as he looked to his left, he was able to spot an open wardrobe with only a few hangers occupying it, as well as a white fluffy rug that tickled his toes as he attempted to get out from the bed. This was when he noticed a small television plonked on a desk slight bigger than the bedside table right in front of him, though there didn't seem to be a remote that went with it.

His time with getting to know his surroundings was interrupted as the door slowly creaked open, making Merritt jump for the second time that morning.

"I thought you were awake, you've been sleeping like a log over the past twenty-four hours." A more than recognizable voice said from the small crack of the opened door in front of him.

A voice that in a matter of seconds emerged fully into the room, revealing itself to be the women he'd had a drunken conversation with the previous night.

Merritt had wanted to leave the woman's home who he now knew as Myrtle Wilson as soon as humanly possible, only for her to insist he stay until he was at least over the worst of his cold. So seeing as he wasn't allowed to leave he decided to get to know this Myrtle woman, and what better way to do that than rummage through her mind.

However, unlike the hundreds of people Merritt had been fortunate enough to come across and almost instantly dived into the playground that was their mind, Myrtle wasn't as easy. It was as if she had some sort of forcefield that repelled his abilities to pull out any kind of information he could use against her, and the fact she was somehow able to block him out was a bit of a blow to his ego. Though he couldn't be sure whether it was his cold to blame or if Myrtle really was immune to his skills. Nevertheless, he wasn't going to let one setback put him off, after all, there is more than one way to get an insight into a person's true nature.

So when Myrtle had popped over to the supermarket Merritt wasted no time in taking a proper look around her apartment, which contained one or two things that definitely caught the mentalists eye.

Her apartment as a whole had a homely atmosphere to it, occupied with only seemingly meaningful and basic objects which alone told Merritt that Myrtle was someone who appreciated the little things in life. As he continued to look around he noticed a long wooden table stretching across the room, which was only mere inches away from the cognac brown leather couch that leaned against the mocha brown wall.

On the table were a pile of what looked like cards, but as he turned them over he soon realized these weren't just any old cards, they were tarot cards. The mentalists eyes were soon met with the first card he had seen, at the very bottom the card read the Hermit, which was accompanied by a picture of an elderly man dressed in a cloak, with a lantern in his right hand and a staff in the other. Merritt couldn't help but notice the way the Hermit was looking down from the hill, alone. This created an uncomfortable twinge to his stomach, one that he wouldn't have been able to explain if someone was to ask him about it.

Unable to look at the card any longer he slammed it back onto the pile, which was now jumbled up with more than a couple ending up on the floor. A few seconds later Merritt got up from the couch and walked over towards a door which led to a practically bare room what he would say was a study. In that study was a medium sized wooden desk which seemed to be devoid of dust, with only a few bits of paper neatly placed on top of one another claiming it. In front of the desk was a thin office type chair pushed underneath the gap that was provided for it.

Having pulled the chair out of its place, Merritt got up onto the chair and began to slowly spin around on it as he got a good look at how similar this room was to the living room. As he continued to spin around on the chair in attempt to pass away the excruciating boredom, he suddenly stamped a foot in order to prevent the chair spinning any further when spotting something on the bookshelf he hadn't noticed till now.

Walking over towards it, he then came face to face with the objects that had caught his attention from when he was slumped on the chair. On the second from the top (something) that strangely wasn't filled with books, instead, a collection of rather smart hats sat in their place. It was rather odd if the mentalist said so himself, although he had found Myrtle to be an odd one since the beginning.

However, these hats had an unusual charm to them as he unintentionally found himself carefully grabbing the jet black fedora hat Myrtle had worn the night they met off the shelf, before placing it onto his own head which he had to admit looked rather fetching on him. As if it had always been destined to be there.

"I see you've taken an interest in my hats," was Myrtle's unexpected sentence that marked her appearance, making Merritt jump just before whipping the hat off his head and back onto the shelf untidily.

"You sure love the whole making me jump outta my skin thing," Merrit said in a gruff voice, refusing to give Myrtle any eye contact.

Myrtle only lightly shook her head in response as she rearranged her hats until they were immaculately displayed just as they were before Merritt's hands had interfered with them.

"Also, next time you decide to look around, you might want to make the fact you've been going through my stuff a little less obvious," Myrtle added as she walked into her living room and pointed towards the disarranged pile of cards Merritt had come across earlier.

Merritt didn't speak, unsure whether it was embarrassment or that he lacked a sharp remark in response to Myrtle's words.

Picking up the mess of cards Merritt had carelessly left everywhere, Myrtle suddenly stopped in her tracks when she found the Hermit card the mentalist had been very eager to avoid.

"The Hermit," Myrtle said in a voice deeper than Merritt had ever heard it before. Again Merritt remained silent, hating how despite, being a mentalist didn't seem to know what to expect.

Expecting her to have something to add to her randomly spoken sentence, Merritt found himself to be slightly weirded out when she said nothing at all to explain the meaning of her words. Instead, she went over to the little armchair in the furthest corner of the room which just so happened to be in the exact same as the one in the bedroom Merritt had woken up too. Pulling the armchair over towards the long wooden table so she was sitting face to face with the mentalist who she had made sit on the couch, she then began to shuffle the cards around until she carefully placed them onto the table with only the Hermit card still in her hand.

Oh great, she's a tarot card reader. Well, that's not at all shoddy, Merritt snappily thought to himself as well as letting out an exasperated groan.

Twisting the card around her fingers she then showed it to the confused and irritated mentalist before saying, "now, do you know what the meaning of The Hermit card is?"

"No," Merritt mumbled, staring at Myrtle for a few seconds before looking down at his knees.

Flipping the card in between her fingers Myrtle then set it down right in front of Merritt so it landed on his lap. This caused him to look up but didn't say anything, giving the elderly women a chance to explain herself.

"Well, this card can be interpreted in two different ways. The first is the need to withdraw from society to look for answers within, soul searching as some may say it. Thus the Hermit card indicates a time where the person seeks solitude and isolation, meaning that the person has a strong desire to experience a deep sense of seclusion, along with possibly re evaluating their personal goals and change their overall direction in life."

Having not moved a muscle to even open his mouth to say anything, Myrtle directed a slight frown at Merritt when moving onto her next sentence.

"On the other hand, The Hermit also has a completely different meaning behind it when reversed."

"What do you mean?" Was the mentalists questioning interruption, giving Myrtle full eye contact now that his sense of interest had suddenly perked up. Even if that interest came across as unenthusiastic and tightly limited.

"The reversed Hermit can go one of two ways. The person is either not taking enough time for personal reflection, or is taking too much which is more likely to be the case out of the two."

Merritt looked down at his lap to see the Hermit card now reversed right in front of him, it spooked him out, to say the least.

"In this case, the reversed Hermit signifies loneliness, self-pity and making hasty decisions based on their yearning need to withdraw themselves in order to focus on their overanalyzed personal dilemmas. They then begin to lose their grip on reality and become so stuck in living in the past that they find themselves unable to make changes to benefit their quality of life. Often in these circumstances, the person may try to be on the run to avoid the problems they fear to face up to, for example, they may get into unhealthy habits to push away their sorrows for a sense of temporary relief. Sometimes this can even lead to a person literally becoming a Hermit and cutting themselves off from other people to an extreme so they end up shutting down those who have tried or are wanting to help them."

Throughout Myrtle's detailed explanation all the hypnotist could do was stare at the Hermit card which remained on his lap, having not once looked away from it.

He didn't need to use his mentalism skills to work out why she was doing this, he's seen it all before. Once, during his time in prison, he was offered help to get his life back on track, but nothing they could have said or done would have changed the way he viewed the world. So what made her think she stood a chance?

"So Merritt," Myrtle began straight afterward, leaning forward with her hand clasped together which started the hypnotists from his thoughts. "Which side of the Hermit would you say you stand by?"

In response Merritt's head suddenly jerked up and his eyes widened which soon transformed into a cold hard glare, refusing to tell her anything that could potentially lead her to find out more. Information he would under no circumstances let Myrtle dig around for. Besides, he's the one who asks the questions and pokes around in people's minds to leach out and reveal their secrets, and the fact someone was doing it to him was just wrong on so many levels.

But to his dismay, it didn't end there.

"Ok, let me ask you this. Do you feel that you've been cheated somehow? Like you've built up your whole life ahead of you, only for it to be demolished right before your very eyes?"

Immediately after asking the mentalist growled in rage. "Is this your way of trying to get me to open up just so you can 'figure me out'?!" Merritt aggressively challenged, already on the verge of losing his cool.

Instead of backing off like he hoped, Myrtle ignored his warning and went straight ahead into asking the next question that came into her mind.

"So you wouldn't say you're at a loss of which direction you should be taking towards the path you wish to lead in life?"

"Don't. I know what you're trying to do and it won't work. You're not going to get anything out of me, so I suggest you quit it!" Merritt hissed dangerously as his eyes darkened with anger, clenching his fists as if preparing to give her a punch to the mouth.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but do you think that your high levels of anger due to the loss of control over your life signify as a deeper sign of a cry for help?"

That was all it took to finally push him over the edge.

"You know what, I'm not gonna sit here and listen to this shit, you haven't got the faintest clue of what I've been forced to go through. So don't you even dare try for a second to pretend that you do!" Merrit roared as he tossed the Hermit card near enough in Myrtle's face, not that it fazed her in the slightest. The raging mentalist then stormed out of the room and headed for the door.

"Forced, or to hide the fact you're struggling to rebuild your life?" Was the final sentence from Myrtle that Merritt heard just before he slammed the front door so hard the house shook violently.

Within moments of making his exit, Merritt rushed over to the nearest alleyway, only to end up coughing his lungs out just a mere few seconds after stopping. His hands shook with fury as he let himself punch the bin beside him to express his high levels of anger. Looking back to see if she was following him, he then let out a sigh of relief when he was confident that he was alone.

He had to get away, he had too. Everything that women said hit him hard, harder than he could have ever imagined. Never in all his life had he felt like this, she had gotten under his skin big time. But the tiniest part of him was starting to wonder if what she said did bring a painful tinge of truth to it.

Let's face it, he wasn't exactly living his life to the fullest. The most he ever did in a day was walk into a pub, get hideously drunk, then collapse somewhere in a drunken heap after many hours of guzzling down endless amounts of booze. And for what? Just so he could wake up to the exact same shit he wanted to escape from in the first place, but with a ghastly hangover to accompany it.

Maybe all that stuff about him being trapped in his own isolation and dare he say it his indeed hasty acts of self-pity weren't all lies after all. Ever since Chase's betrayal, he had been so desperate not to fall a victim to such foolishness again, but at what cost? He had completely lost track of what he wanted to get out of life, not to mention having to resort to kidding himself by believing that everything would just go away if he blocked everything out. Reality was he was helpless to himself.

And Myrtle could sense that.

He was just a mess. A huge thirty years old mess with no apparent hope of getting his shit together and leading a fairly suitable lifestyle.

In fact, the only thing he could do was go back over to Myrtle's house and apologize for his ridiculously out of line behavior. Now he realized all she had wanted to do was try to talk some sense into him, it felt like a ton of bricks were falling on top of him simultaneously.

If anyone was to chuck a few bricks towards him at this very moment, he wouldn't have argued against it.

Deciding enough was enough Merritt slowly began to make his way back to Myrtle's to find her stood at the entrance to the alleyway, her facial expression without even a hint of vexation plastered on it.

"Hey, er… I just wanted to, er..." Merritt found himself lost for words as if today couldn't have gotten any worse.

However, to his surprise, Myrtle held up a hand to stop him from talking. Instead of the telling off he was more than prepared to undergo, what did come out of her mouth shocked him.

"Merritt when I explained to you the Hermits purpose I wasn't doing it to get at you or to make a scene, I did it because I wanted you to realize that despite you troubles you do have it in you to change your ways. I can sense you're a man with something about you I just can't put my finger on, but what I do know is whatever this characteristic may be you will learn to use it to your advantage once again."

Merritt didn't need to say anything, he believed her every word. And if he wasn't so emotionally restricted he reckoned he would have even shed a tear for good measure.

Myrtle smiled when the mentalist nodded in agreement, a small smile of his own appearing across his lips.

It was from that point onwards that he and Myrtle became good friends, and with a little nudge at times Merritt was able to pick up the pieces from his previously disordered life and transform it into a more orderly and functional existence.

At first, progress had been slow, very slow. There were days that brought a reasonable amount of success, while others weren't so nice to him. It was those frustrating days which controlled whether he would drink or not. Some days he just had to, luckily Myrtle never inferred when he did chose the drinking option.

However, when the pressure began to take its toll on the mentalist, Myrtle had wasted no time in reminding him of what he could become if he put his mind to it. That very night had consisted of her pulling out the Hermit card for a second meeting to explain the points she wanted to make.

"You see how the Hermit has an object in each hand, they both have a meaning to them. The staff he holds within his left hand represents his ability to use the knowledge he has gained from his time spent in isolation as a tool upon the path he wishes to lead, meanwhile the lantern in his right hand symbolises his capability to light his own path, and inside the lantern you will see a six pointed star that combines two triangles, one pointing upwards and the other pointing downwards. This indicates a symbol of wisdom which helps guide him further along his path."

Unlike the first encounter, Merritt kept his mouth firmly shut as he absorbed every single bit of information Myrtle was telling him.

"You will also notice how the Hermit appears to be standing on top of a mountain with just a hint of ice beneath his feet. Mountains typically express the qualities of achievement, growth, and accomplishment, and in the Hermit's case he's done this by continuing his journey in the way he has chosen to because of his commitment to his life goals."

By the time Merritt had got himself ready for bed he took one look at himself in the mirror, determined that if an old man on a card could find his path and succeed from it then so could he.

Then after many ups and downs things did start to pick up, which soon lead to Myrtle discovering his talent.

It had started out as just another bog standard day when Merrit had heard muffled screams coming from around the corner. Jogging over to where the screams were increasing in volume the mentalist was stunned by the sight of a young boy who couldn't have been any older than twelve being attacked for his money by a gang of much older, stronger looking men.

"Hey!" Merritt yelled without even taking the time to process what he was doing, not that he needed to as soon as he got in between the boy and the gang, he pushed several of the gang members over before quickly placing them into a group trance. Unaware of the few people that were mingling around the area stopping to watch him, one of them being Myrtle.

"Clearly you bunch of buffoons have no apparent morals if you have to resort to picking on a kid, who clearly hadn't done anything to deserve your unwanted attempt of stealing his rightfully earned money. So unfortunately for you, your days of numerous mugging victories end here bozo's."

The brown curly haired boy who remained silently standing behind Merritt observed his every move and word with bated breath, wondering what this man would do to the gang of men who due to the trance resembled drooling dogs at feeding time.

"When I snap my fingers you will not only apologise to this boy and give him an extra two hundred dollars as an apology for the inconvenience and distress you've caused him, but whenever the thought of mugging or any criminal act for that matter enters your heads you will all atomically burst out with Mozart's The magic flute queen of the night aria opera."

As soon as Merritt had forcefully snapped his fingers the gang handed over two hundred dollars to the kid from their very own pockets, along with an apology before leaving with facial expressions plastered with confusion.

"Stay safe kid," was all Merritt had to say to the boy who gave him a thankful nod in response. Then all of a sudden loud claps and cheers echoed across the street as the boy and the others who had multiplied by at least two lots since the beginning applauded him for his outstanding work. It almost felt as if he was famous again.

Once everything had calmed down to the point where it was just him and Myrtle alone together, the tarot card reader placed a hand on his shoulder as her way of saying well done. Merritt couldn't have felt happier that day.

It was soon after that event when Merritt had truly been able to use his mentalism skills as his source of income and make a living for himself, sure it was difficult at times and his life certainly wasn't perfect, but he always managed to get through whatever challenges life tossed at him. Then after just a couple of months of starting his new and improved lifestyle, he was able to buy himself an apartment, it wasn't the nicest of places to live in but as long as it provided a roof over his head, the negatives surrounding the place were irrelevant.

Throughout the years he had undoubtedly amazed many people with his powers to lure people's secrets into the out and open, though nowhere near as much as when he was famous which even now did sting from time to time. A few people had even asked him if he would consider working with them, but he worked alone and didn't hesitate to inform them in the nicest way possible.

The only person he did consider wanting to talk to was Myrtle who by her own admission was getting on a bit, so when he could Merritt would go over and help her with anything she needed doing. As a gesture of her appreciation, she would make him a sponge cake from a family recipe.

Until one day she couldn't.

It had only been a couple of days since he'd last visited Myrtle, and now that her health was at a stage of not being able to recover Merritt had promised to visit her as often as humanly possible. A year or two ago the mysterious yet knowledgeable tarot card reader he first met was diagnosed with lung cancer, which meant soon afterward she was placed in an elderly peoples home in order for her to receive the right care for her needs.

Sadly within those two days, he'd received an urgent phone call regarding Myrtle having been taken to hospital in a rushed emergency along with the warning that this would most likely be the last time he would ever see her. Merritt had wasted not even a second getting himself dressed in a clumsy fashion and bolted out the door of his apartment and straight to the hospital.

When arriving outside her bed, even he couldn't have known what to expect. Once he had gotten the permission of the nurse who was looking after her to push back the curtains, he found himself unable to believe what was happening. As if it was all just a disturbing dream that he would wake up from any second and everything would be fine. Alas, this was reality yet again displaying its ugly side, and there was nothing he could do about it.

The room she was spending her last moments in was nothing like the cozy, homely place she once owned, the hospital room was just a plain white box with a window the size of a biscuit tin lid. In the air was a stagnant smell to it, as if the rooms were cleaned with just plain water instead of disinfectant. The uninviting looking bed Myrtle was made to lie in sat low on the ground, the mattress worryingly thin and the frame around it possessing various bits of rust. If they had known just how much of a wise and incredible woman Myrtle truly was they would have been ashamed of themselves.

"Merritt," Myrtle said in a raspy voice, which had her coughing violently instantly after speaking. This sent a chill of pure guilt down his spine, making sure it hurt him in every way imaginable.

"Myrtle," he whispered back, having to force down the lump that had formed inside his throat with all his might.

Merritt bites his lip involuntarily as Myrtle gestures him to take a seat right beside her. For a minute or so all the mentalist could focus on was the never ending amount of wires wrapped around her arms and chest like snakes coiled around their prey, along with the frequent beeping sounds of the machine next to her. It was only when Myrtle softly took his hand that he finally snapped out of his thoughts.

"You know, I throughout my time have come across countless numbers of people who have gone through tough times like you have. Many of those end up following the path that eventually turns them into nothing more than a shadow of a person, only living to grasp onto what they feel is left of their existence until their conscious says enough."

"Myrtle I..." The elderly women soon shushed him.

"I have also witnessed a lot of people who throw away their hopes, dreams, and talents they could have pursued to have not only made a difference to themselves but to the entire world as a whole."

Merritt gulped at Myrtle's upcoming sentence.

"Now, you are a man with a special kind of talent that not many would be able to hold to their name. Even within the final few minutes life has left for me I can sense you're going to accomplish great things in life, you just have follow what you feel is the best direction for the path you chose and let fate deal with the rest."

Having to squeeze his fists into tight balls in an attempt to control the obsessive shaking his whole body seemed to be infected with, the hypnotist could only look at her with sorrowful eyes.

When all of a sudden Myrtle jerked upwards Merritt was about to call for the nurse, until he saw her arm struggling to reach across to where her jet black Fedora hat lay. The Mentalist could have sworn his heart had missed a beat multiple times during those very few seconds.

"Here, I want you to have this. It is to remind you as I've said before and this one last time you possess a fine talent Merritt, there's only so many tomorrows you will be allowed to have, so please don't let it go to waste because of setbacks you have and may face in the future."

"I… I won't," Merritt stammered in response, unfortunately, that was to be the last response Myrtle was to hear as her eyelids began to slowly droop shut, watching as all the light faded from her eyes. Having not released his grip on her hand since he'd arrived, he felt the palm of her hand going cold and stone like within the grasp of his own warm one.

Never again would he hear a word of wisdom from her mouth, nor would he ever be able to see her smile when he did a good deed to help someone else. Rubbing a hand through his shorter, aging, blond hair was the daunting moment that from this point on he was truly on his own.

It was that very moment when he decided to let himself go, and allow the pools of tears he'd made himself hold back throughout this entire time escape the clutches of his usual tendency to chuck his emotions to the very back of his mind. Then in a matter of seconds streams of remorseful tears rolled down his cheeks which he soon lost control of, though he did have to admit it was sort of like a release of all the shit that he'd been through all in one go.

During the time he spent having a much needed long cry, he then immediately felt something drop into a softer surface. Looking down he saw one of his tear drops trickle down the fedora hat Myrtle had given him moments before she took her last breath. Wiping his eyes with a tissue one of the nurses had given him Merritt picked up the hat, tracing his fingers around it like a toddler would with a teddy bear.

Leaning back onto the chair he had been sat on for at least a couple of hours, Merritt permitted himself to let escape a shaky breath when looking up at the ceiling before saying, "I promise you now that I won't give up on my life journey, just you wait and see."

Sniffling quietly the mentalist steadily picked up the hat from where he'd left it on his lap and gently placed it on top of his head to show the seriousness in his unheard vow.

Sighing sadly to himself he began to think of all the times she had helped him and what little he offered in return. He knew that within a matter of time he would be able to cope without her, however, he would never let any of the things she said flee from his mind. Afterall, it all helped him in the end.

And now it was time to help himself.

Chapter Text

Five years after Myrtle's death and now at the age of forty-three, Merritt's life couldn't have been any more different than it was now.

To start off the chain of events, just days after his dear friend passed away was the move to the New Orleans, change of scenery and all that. Although, it did mean having to leave his heavily memory oriented apartment behind and move into a much less habitable, cramped space of bricks and concrete. Nevertheless, a house was a house, even if it did resemble more of a hovel.

The second life alteration which occurred not long after the move was the unplanned change of image. Having made a promise to Myrtle just seconds before her passing that he would never give up on his journey with mentalism, he just couldn't see himself fulfilling his promise without the hat. However, the jet black fedora hat and his shoulder length hair weren't a good look when combined, so without further hesitation, off went the hair. Besides, in Merritt's own words he would have only looked like a decrepit version of Haymitch Abernathy.

The final but most significant change he had made for himself as a person was the combination of his past and present self. Sure, it hurt like hell when looking at the younger and dare he say it more loved version of himself on the cardboard banner he decided on using to attract people to witness his mentalism skills, nevertheless this stronger, much wiser to the ways of life Merritt did not let such minor details interfere with what needed to be done.

Because of the necessary changes he had made for himself, he found that within time he was able to rediscover the joy of being able to use his skills to his advantage, as well as help others get the truth they deserved. Today was no different, except that it was.

"Look into my eyes and sleep!" Merritt had told a woman who had been eager to find out what mentalism was. After whispering certain instructions into her ear so her husband who was stood a few steps away couldn't hear, he then snapped his fingers to wake her up and for a minute everything seemed normal.

"If you can take this bill from me, you can have it," Merritt said as he held up a twenty dollar bill in his hand just a few inches away from her. Alas, she was unable to grab it from him due to her hands being stuck together.

He then tried something else, just for the fun of it. "If you can say your name you can have it." Once again the women attempted to do what he said, only to find her lips firmly sealed as if someone had super glued them.

Glancing at the woman's husband, Merritt told her to hang on a sec while he took a peek under the hood of her hubby's brain.

Despite his obvious refusal, Merritt went and did it anyway. "I'm picturing; beach, cocktails, Florida?"

"It was a business trip," the man who he had found out was called Mack replied with an edge to his voice Merritt didn't trust.

"Maybe the oldest business," the mentalist challenged. His ways of dishing out the juicy bits already getting to him as he tried to get his wife to come back with him, grunting when being reminded his wife couldn't actually move.

"You're thinking of a woman's name, A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J! Jean, Jane, Janette!" Merritt had to try his absolute hardest to hide a wince when noticing the way Mack's eyes and lips twitched involuntarily and rather a lot too.

"W- who's Janette?" Merritt questioned, not being entirely sure that he wanted to know. When Mack didn't answer him the mentalist turned to his wife, "do you know Janet?" The woman nodded her confirmation.

"It's not your best friend is it?" Merritt asked, cringing as he spoke.

"My sister," the woman tried to say which came out pretty clearly considering her lips were practically zipped shut.

"Your sister! Merritt repeated in utter disgust. "Oh my god, you weren't away on business, you were away on Janette, your wife's sister!"

While on the outside he kept a neutral facial expression on display, the inside was a different story altogether. That man certainly had a nerve to think that it was even remotely acceptable to cheat on his wife with her own sister, just thinking about it made the mentalist feel sick to his stomach.

The wife who until now remained silent got both her arms that were still stuck together and took a swing at her cheating toerag of a husband. If Merritt was truly honest he wouldn't have minded hitting that twat himself.

"She's gonna get upset, let's move over here," Merritt said as he moved Mack away from his rightfully angry wife. "You want this to go away!?"

"Yes," Mack replied desperately, Merritt was going to enjoy this.

"Alright, pull out your wallet. Come on, get it out!" The Mentalist commanded, loving the look of irritation on that poxy cheaters face.

"You shake on everyone like this?" Mack asked, still annoyed at what all this had lead to.

"Only the special few," Merritt smirked in response as he took $250 dollars from his wallet, laughing when being called a stickup artist.

Moving over to the wife, he snapped his fingers so her body fell loosely downwards.

"Now when I snap my fingers you won't remember any of this. And you Warren Battey, every time you see or even think of Janette you're gonna picture me, naked, and that's not a pretty sight."

Instantly after placing the punishment into Mack's mind, Merritt snapped his fingers which brought his wife back to life, clueless to what had happened less than a minute ago.

"Look after her," was the last thing he said to Mack as he and his wife walked off, having not noticed the scowl Merritt did behind Mack's back.

After the rather escalating revelation only a couple more people had been interested enough to come by, which was just as well seeing as he was unable to shake off just how much that man had repulsed him.

It wasn't until that very evening while he was packing away his bits and bobs for the day that he caught sight of a mysterious card randomly placed on top of his display banner. Reaching out his hand to get a closer look, he found the card with a picture of a hooded figure with a lantern, something Merritt recognized in a heartbeat. Despite having to fight the almost overwhelming urge to chuck it away he forced himself to turn it over, revealing an address in New York city along with a date and time in which he had to be there.

Looking up from where he had been carefully analyzing the instructions, the mentalist stared into the distance of the view the window provided for a single second, before letting out a small sigh and making his way home.

For what was left of the evening by the time he got home, Merritt would usually relax on the couch with only the faint sound of the television for background noise, and today was no different. Although, with the presence of this somewhat interesting yet at the same time strange and not to mention out of the blue occurrence, his mind seemed only able to focus on one thing.

What on earth was this all about, and more importantly where or more likely who did this card come from?

Putting the tiny tinge of not having the slightest clue to the purpose of this aside he did have some ideas as to the reason behind the card. Maybe it was some unknown fan of his who had recently seen him around and been desperate to meet him, if he was twenty years younger it may have been an inviting option, but certainly not now.

Or it could have been something as ludicrously unsettling as Chase wanting to meet up after all these years, even the very thought of seeing his two faced twat of a brother made him shudder with pure disgust. Hurling that theory to the very back of his mind, simultaneously another stepped forward.

What if this whatever it was had a reason which he wasn't to figure out until the time was right, now that he really thought about it, it reminded him of what Myrtle had told him seconds before she had taken her last breath.

You just have to follow what you feel is the best direction for the path you chose, and let fate deal with the rest.

If he was correct in his assumption, then maybe just maybe this was what Myrtle had meant all those years ago. Afterall, she did have the knack of sensing things that Merritt himself could not. In fact, he could imagine her talking to him now, "Merritt McKinney I do not need to tell you again that you're a man of fine talent, now go show the world that very talent you proudly possess," she would say if she was sat beside him at this very moment.

Then after weighing up the pros and cons of this possibly life changing opportunity seemingly available only to him, he could gain a strong sense of requirement that he was to be there. And despite his better judgment he was going to go through with the offer and accept it with open arms.

The journey itself to get to the given address that following morning wasn't so bad, even though he did have to rush around to pack his things at some ridiculous time in the early hours, therefore causing him to be drowsy and nearly miss his flight as a result.

Once he did get there (a little early may he add,) Merritt took his opportunity to look around the slightly depressing area, as if on guard to make sure only he was standing in front of the locked apartment door. When satisfied he wasn't to have company anytime soon or at all, the mentalist took a deep comforting breath as he continued to wait for whatever he was waiting for in silence.

However, two minutes into his wait, the faint sound of distant chattering interrupted his embracement of the solitude he wasn't often granted with these days, causing Merritt to jump slightly at the unexpected occurrence.

Instead of the chattering withdrawing into silence it only became increasingly louder, much to the mentalists dismay. Then in a matter of seconds, the sound of footsteps soon added to the earlier gossiping which hadn't died down. It wasn't too long afterwards where Merritt's sudden theory that he wasn't to be alone for much longer was soon proved to be correct when a flame haired woman, who Merritt by his own admission thought of as quite attractive was accompanied by a slightly taller curly haired man with a look of surprise approached him, each holding up their own tarot card.

"Oh…" Was all Merritt could say to greet their very unpredicted arrival. If anyone was to ask what the most unforeseeable moment of his life was, then this would be it.

"Okay. So apparently none of us was the only one chosen, so let me be the first one to kick my ego to the curb," the mentalist offered as a proper introduction. Not that it was greatly appreciated as the man who had just arrived made his way towards the door, despite being informed of the door being locked.

Classic signs of a control freak. Was the first thing that came to mind as he let the curly haired man past to do his all important check. But on the plus side, it did give him an opportunity to make an observation on the pretty lady.

"You." The Mentalist began while taking a couple of steps towards the red head. "Now hold it, uh don't tell me. Helen, no no, Henley!" Merritt said as he finished his sentence with a somewhat cheesy grin.

"It's on your coffee cup," the control freak helpfully provided in response. When explaining that what he just did wasn't an act of mentalism but an observation, Merritt could already sense the tinge of annoyance and jealousy building up within the control freaks body language. His senses were only proved to be true when Merritt out of honesty called Henley beautiful, which resulted in the control freak walking away from the door to stand next to her as if he was some sort of bodyguard.

Deciding to play with what he knew he could, Merritt wasted no time in digging deeper into what was so plainly obvious but at the same time painful to watch.

"Shh! Now hold on, I'm sensing that you are a control freak," Merritt clarified, being the one trait that practically screamed at him the moment his presence entered the area.

This alone annoyed Daniel at a level the mentalist had no intention of stopping at.

"So that's why you're no longer a couple."

As soon as his sentence came out from his mouth, both Henley and Daniel were more than a little quick to deny such absurd suggestions. The amount of denial that escaped them was enough to make the mentalist chuckle, one he was almost ashamed to say he hadn't experienced in years. Not only were they so desperate to hide the fact they still clearly liked each other in more than the friend's stage, but what really made him laugh was the more Merritt pushed Daniels limits by 'flirting' with Henley the more agitated he became. His gut instincts told him that this was just too good to let slide.

Although, as fun, as it was to tease Daniel just five minutes after meeting him, the mentalists attention was soon brought back to the real reason he was stood here when a third person came to their attention. Once the much younger boy called Jack who couldn't have been older than his very early twenties made himself known, he whipped out a pair of metal rods before quoting that nothing was ever locked. This Jack was a clever kid who had some pretty neat skills, it was impressive, to say the least.

Upon entering the house a sudden wave of guilt ran down Merritt's spine, instantly remembering a number of times he had bad mouthed his own apartment. While it made no difference to the fact his apartment wasn't the most filth free of places, however, this monstrosity of a building consisting of many hard layers of thick, green mold covering almost every bit of what was once loved and cared for bathroom furniture took the phrase a messy home is a sign of character to a whole new level.

Having to shake off the revolting discovery, Merritt focused his attention on the vase that contained a white rose and a note saying now you don't beside it. Once Daniel had read aloud what the note said, Henry picked up the rose and placed it inside the vase while reciting a Shakespeare quote. Then all of a sudden water began to trickle down from underneath the vase and across to a symbol of which it carefully traced, leading to a rapid outbreak of cold thick smoke that Merritt immediately recognized as dry ice.

Being just as curious as the others were about this weird but as equally intriguing event Merritt put a hand up to the side of his head and closed his eyes, despite screwing them as tightly as he could he was unable to detect any sort of clue that would answer any of their questions. This unusual force that seemed to block his mental channels was something he hadn't come across in the past, and he didn't like it.

"Nope, I got nothing," Merritt admitted in defeat, earning himself a frustrated response from no other than Daniel Atlas. "I'm only creating space for wisdom," the Mentalist told him in an attempt to defend himself and his talent. Daniel didn't take his act of defense lightly, which lead to a rather interesting battle of retorts involving the Buddha and Jesus.

It was only after Henley questioned Daniel on whether he was responsible for whatever this was supposed to be that ended the minor argument between the two men. The topic of conversation then moved onto the others asking each other if they were behind all this, though the fact they had practically avoided asking Merritt hadn't escaped the Mentalists notice. Although it didn't seem like it due to his expertise in hiding such things, he did have to admit to feeling a tad hurt at their abrupt dismissal of him.

"Why didn't anyone ask me if I did it?" Merritt asked out loud in order to gain some acknowledgment, but just as he thought, his unwelcome question was only to be answered with an awkward silence. They could have at least replied to his sentence with a shut up Merritt, he would have preferred that over nothing. Alas, no words were spoken.

"Oh great!"

Nevertheless, all this was soon to be pushed aside when Daniel discovered the electricity was out, that was until Merritt went to check. Afterall, if he was to make himself useful at some point today, now was the perfect time.

Turns out Merritt's moment of productiveness proved useful as the light he managed to twist jumped into action along with the device behind Daniel, revealing a remarkable display of various holographic images consisting of complex blueprints planned down to the very last detail flaring right in front of the magicians very eyes.

"Wow…" Was all Merritt could say to this incredible outburst of rather complicated plans only for them to see. Even though he couldn't deny his amazement, it did spring one doubt shoving its way to mind.

Could he actually pull this off working as part of a team? Well, this eye who he wasn't even sure existed obviously thought so, but it counts for nothing if the others didn't believe in him, but more importantly in himself. He wasn't a great magician, never was and never really will be. Besides, working as part of a team was what got him into all that shit in his younger days, and he wasn't sure he could ever go for the teamwork thing again.

When seeing Daniel reach out to grab the holographic plans from the corner of his eye was when Merritt decided to take one of his deep breaths, and see what this plan was all about.

The first thing the group had to do just an hour after meeting each other was travel to some warehouse that contained boxes with the eye symbol marking them, triggering the alarming question of whether the eye really did exist that had concerned the mentalist since the mention of the eye, and it wasn't long before he vocalised those concerns.

"Whoa, nothing's happening yet, we still need to decide if we're gonna do this," Merritt said, causing Daniel to turn around to face him with an irritated facial expression.

"What do you mean, if?!" Atlas spat in response, which soon meant that Henley got involved.

"Do you know how many people get this opportunity?" She had asked as an attempt to get Merritt to answer her question then consider his perspective of things. Unfortunately for her, he wasn't going to change his mind that easily, he was far too set in his ways for any of that.

"What, go to prison? About two million give or take," Merritt argued back. There was a lot these kids didn't understand about him, besides, he had already experienced the joy of prison life once, with certainly no intention of revisiting that particular ordeal.

So when the comment of being a buzzkill was used in retaliation to his negativity, he did his very best to ignore it for that reason.

Although, things did seem to look up when noticing that Jack had also come to wonder whether all this was worth it. The Mentalist couldn't help but silently thank him for taking his words seriously, which gave him the comfort of knowing at least one person in the group saw the logic in his statements.

"Okay, I'm gonna have to agree with Doogie Howser over here. You think about it, you chase a pot of gold to the end of the rainbow and it turns out, poof, it was just an illusion."

When they argued against his theory he couldn't contain himself from adding," well it could be very real, very elaborate hoax!" Underneath their defense for the eye he could tell deep down they knew he was right, and hopefully, his next point would prove that.

"I mean look at what they're asking us to do, we couldn't pull off one of those shows, much less all three."

As soon as Henley mentioned something to do with working together, along with Jack whose mind had changed because of the mention of teamwork added the eye requiring complete faith in the host was when he had finally had enough of wasting time in arguing.

"Aha well see that's the problem, I don't do faith," was the last thing Merritt had to say to them as he headed for the exit. He'd lost his faith in those who were lucky enough to have it many years ago, meaning he was having no part of this crazy scheme with people he barely knew. Call him a wimp but he had a phenomenal bar to get back to.

"Oh yeah, cause I'm sure you have people lining up for your Hypno act right? Are you really in a rush to get back to your little all you can eat buffet and mini cruise line?"

Merritt slowly span round to face the redhead who wasn't stood too far away from him, looking firmly into her eyes when rightly informing her this bar was way more than some 'all you can eat buffet'. Afterall, the bar didn't deserve such abuse.

However, the insults towards the bar were immediately forgotten when Daniel spoke up. "Okay, all the great magicians have dedicated their lives to this, they know the rumors about the eye. But this, this is a chance to find out if they're actually true. And you want this as much as we do, you know I'm right."

Trust Atlas to turn his formerly used words against him, nevertheless, it still didn't change the mentalists views on all this, so it was only fair to ensure he understood that.

"The difference between us Danny boy is I don't consider myself a great magician, so here, take this and try to find yourself another Hermit."

Suddenly to the shock of the others Daniels tarot card flew straight into Merritts, combining the two together. Soon afterwards Henley then pulled hers out which had the same effect, Jack was last to place his on the stack that officially began the process of creating a semi transparent plastic like card with the familiar image of an eye.

Watching the second unexpected event unfold, Merritt couldn't mutter out a single word throughout the entire process as it was at that moment when the mentalist realized something. When he was passing his card to Atlas his card flew straight into his, meaning that whether he wished to be or not, he was part of all this.

This was also the very moment where Myrtle's quote about fate suddenly made sense. For years he had wondered the meaning behind it, and now it was there right in front of him. He must have either been delusional or just plain stupid to even consider thinking he could drop out, this was all meant to happen, whatever or even whoever this eye may be, they required him to be involved just as they did for the others. So as Danny said, let's find out if the eye is indeed true.

The following year spent on perfecting each and every plan they had to pull off without fail was without a doubt hard, and most often stressful work. Then there was the added pressure of having to get used to each other and their different lifestyles and habits were a struggle for all. Though during the course of the year Merritt had formed strong opinions on all three of the others he had to work with.

Daniel Atlas was just as tangled up in being the control freak he was since the day they met, but just progressively worse as the year went on. In fact, if he was completely honest with himself as much as Danny was fun to pick on for a variety of reasons, he was unable to stop himself comparing the illusionist ever so slightly to Charlene Wicks. Like Charlene, Atlas hated not being in control of everyone at all times, whether it was demanding to know where someone was going, or being told off for arriving at rehearsals a second after his given time. Yet he did those things as a way to show his deep dedication to the show that he, along with the rest of the group were picked to perform, even if he did chose to show it in the most humanly irritating ways being the very thing that separated the two far away from each other. Plus, Danny was fun to pick on, make fun of Charlene and that would have been the last thing you'd ever do.

Then there was Henley, who was a whole lot easier to get along with (considering she had once been Daniel's assistant) was the one person Merritt spent most of his time talking to out of everyone. He knew from the beginning that she was more of an open book when it came to discussing her past, and it didn't take much questioning for her to tell him all sorts about herself, including her journey to making a name for herself as a solo act. Not to mention she laughed at many of his jokes and funny one-liners, even more so when aimed specifically at insulting Atlas.

Last but not least Jack, who Merritt literally considered to be the kid of the group had somehow muscled into the role of being the mentalists nephew he'd never had. Despite idolising Atlas (god knows why) he could sense that Jack also appreciated the company and advice from someone older and wiser, (yes Danny, wiser!) Jack was also the peacekeeper when heated arguments between Merritt and Atlas emerged on a regular basis, though not as much as those between Danny and Henley. He was a strong kid who had obviously been through an awful lot during his childhood, but nevertheless, it didn't stop him from showing off his talents, which was one of many things he admired about him.

Then as if the year had gone by in a blur of seconds here the team who were now known as the Horsemen stood in Las Vegas, the very place hundreds if not thousands of magicians dreamed of being where these extremely fortunate four individuals were now.

Just by looking around at the never ending rows filled by the public who were roaring with excitement from the magnificently gigantic stage that made Merritt want to jump around and dance on, he could already feel the buzz of the moment have an impact on his overall mood of what they were about to do. The one thing that made this breath taking experience ten times better was the overwhelmingly crazy reaction from the audience when announcing their biggest trick of tonight, despite the fact they were to become criminals in less than twenty minutes.

"For our final trick, we are going to do never before seen on a Las Vegas stage, or any stage for that matter."

"Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we are to rob a bank!"

As the crowd cheered almost to the point where it was deafening, Merritt took a glimpse at the others who were just as pumped for this. When they had successfully got the members of the audience to pick out the 'random' seat number of B-5-13 where the Frenchman Etienne sat, they then got him up onto the stage which had the audience going nuts.

Before they began the trick a brief mention of their 'friend' and benefactor Arthur Tressler was made, the man they were to expose in their next show. So once that was over they were able to get straight onto the real thing, which consisted of Jack presenting the teleportation helmet Etienne was to wear which Merritt put on for him. As soon as the Frenchman made his way onto the teleportation device Merritt watched with fake suspense when he got 'sent' to his bank.

After spending a minute or so 'worrying' where the Frenchman had got to, they suddenly found him at his bank where stacks of money lay in large neat piles for Etienne to look at and touch. His face when all the money came flying out from the bank and straight towards the audience, sent a chill of accomplishment through the mentalists spine. Not only had they done this successfully, but it gave him hope that the other two would go down just as well.

The interrogation with the agent Dylan Rhoades and Interpol agent Alma Dray was a doddle, all Merritt had to do was do what he did to most people, peek inside their minds and dish out the dirt. So after various revelations including tranny Tuesday's, first times off the desk and daddy issues he was free to go. After all, putting someone in jail because of magic would just be silly.

The second show was to be a much bigger, mind-blowing event and not just the magic part. A couple hours before show time the Horsemen were sat in Tressler's private jet, ready to grab the information needed for the show to be a success.

Firstly Merritt had to lure Danny out from his seat several rows in front of them, by chatting up Henley about Danny's lack of emotion value ability and her being tightly corked.

Next Merritt had to convince Danny to attempt mentalism which after a few short statements Arthur willingly volunteered himself to be read, then all Atlas had to do was make some (rather poor) guesses at Arthur's past which resulted in Tressler telling them about his first pet cat Snuffles and his mother's maiden name.

(Turns out mentalism is harder than it appears to be, isn't that right Danny boy?)

When arriving in New Orleans to perform their second show, just a few minutes before it was to begin, the Horsemen were greeted with a visitor backstage who turned out to be Thaddeus Bradley, the debunker of magicians. Just seconds after his appearance the mentalist knew Thaddeus had come along for more than to wish them good luck, although, he was flattered when he referred to him as a has been when he had always considered himself to be a never was.

The first half of the show went just as expected, the bit where Merritt had to hypnotize twelve people into believing they were football players who would tackle anyone when hearing the word freeze was particularly entertaining for him to do. But the final trick for the night would be off the scale.

Merritt couldn't help but smile with slight glee as Daniel told Arthur to come up to the stage, unsuspecting of anything to happen to him or his accounts which made it that little bit more pleasurable. So when the mentalist had called out various peoples names it didn't take long for Arthur's huge paper check containing the precise, insanely large amount of money he currently had, along with a just as big flashlight to accompany it.

Now came the fun part.

"It's weird, a second ago it read $144,579,651.00 but now it says $70,000 less!"

Gesturing for Josepha to stand up, a warm sensation took over Merritt when she happily declared she now had $70,562 dollars in her account.

"Hey check it out, it's happening again!" Jack had exclaimed after questioning out loud if it was possible for the previous women's money to go up the same amount Tressler's went down. Well evidently it was, and he was going to be in for another surprise, a minus 280k surprise.

Right after another woman read aloud her new money total, it was time for the all important reveal.

"We have a confession to make."

"She's right, we lied about something."

"All of you in here have something in common."

"All of you in this room was a victim of the hardships that affected one of America's most treasured cities!"

"Some of you lost your houses, your cars."

"Your businesses."

"Your loved ones."

"But all of you were insured by the same company… Tressler insurance!" That particular sentence had the mentalist more enthusiastic to do all this than ever before.

"You were abandoned!"

"You were loopholed!"

As soon as Arthur realized what they had done he tried to lash out at Merritt only to find himself chained to the stage by his left foot. "Hey, we left you the jet and the rolls," Merritt added just before running to stand with the others where a zip wire lifted him up to the exit, leaving Arthur to deal with the bellows of rage from the audience as they yelled numerous threats at him.

Two down, only one left to do.

However, unlike the last two, the preparation for the third and final show was more complex, and if any of them were to mess up at any point, then not only would they have failed pulling off what remained of the plan, but also having to face spending the rest of their lives in jail. Something Merritt really did not want to think about but had to.

"Who are we working for, and are we really prepared to go to jail for them?" Merritt had questioned, his voice shaking slightly due to panicking mentally. Never in his life had he been more terrified than right now.

"It really does happen!" Merritt had insisted after Daniel said otherwise, earning himself another snappy response from the illusionist.

"I don't know what I'm doing here!" The Mentalist scoffed before adding, "I'm here for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that's it, then I'm gone!" After briefly hearing Henley's retort to his words, it was time to go.

"Okay, let's do it!" Merritt said as an attempt to be positive as he, Henley and Danny made their exit. Before going down the secret passage, he took a deep breath and prepared himself for the what was to be either a glowing success or a remorseful failure.

The task of having to steal a safe with the money from Elkhorn and fool the FBI into thinking the truck they were following had the money in it when all it contained were animal balloons was easy enough to handle. Then once they got the word that Jack had been able to play his part in the plan, the remaining three filmed a video expressing their 'loss' of Jack, along with telling everyone that their final show would be at five points in Queens at 7.00pm.

Just minutes before they were set to begin their last show, Merritt decided now would be a good time to say something to a certain member of the group, he needed to get it out of his chest.

"Daniel?"

"Yeah?"

"As our, let's call it  year of living dangerously comes to a close, in a rare moment of vulnerability I'd like to express a sentiment to you about our relationship."

"Well when I first met you, I thought you were kind of a dick."

He couldn't hide his smile when Henley laughed in reaction to his mini speech.

"And?"

"No, that's it."

"That's very nice," Daniel stated

"Yeah just from the heart," Merritt confirmed with a small smile.

"Well, it didn't tell you where I was touched," Atlas replied, earning a laugh at Merritt when realizing what Danny had meant.

"Oh, what are we going to do when all this is over?" Was the appropriate but at the same time, saddening question asked by the redhead in a much softer tone than usual.

"We're on our own, our instructions run out after the show."

Just by looking into his eyes, Merritt knew that for once Danny didn't want to be right. The Mentalist himself had thoughts on what he was to do after this, truthfully despite his worries, he couldn't bear the thought of having to return to that bar and perform solo. He had spent too many years alone as Myrtle had said when they first met, now even he must admit this lot had all grown on him, each in their own way and there was no way on earth he wanted to leave them.

"Even if there is no eye, if we're completely played and we spent the next twenty years in prison I just want to say…" Henley's sentence was soon met with a gentle "yeah me too" from Daniel. As nice as it was, this was all far too sentimental for Merritt to handle, so he turned to face the front to avoid the sappiness of the moment.

The third show was pretty straight forward, mostly made up of thank you's and a long goodbye speech.

"All we wanted to do was bring the world to a magic show."

"And thereby bring a little magic back to the world."

"This has been one hell of a ride for all of us," Merritt stated just as he took one of Henley's hands and one of Daniels. They then disappeared through a fury of cash with their faces on which showered the audience once they could no longer be seen.

The group who were now walking up to the gate of the central park met Jack who was in front of it ready to unlock it, Merritt's comment of Jack now being a big boy was practically asking to be said aloud. Once they were inside the Horsemen then came face to face with the Lionel Shrike tree that contained the card encased with glass, it really was a magnificent sight.

Soon after the group placed their tarot cards one at a time on top of each other, this activated carousel music along with bright colorful lights filling out the darkness of the night. Then all of a sudden, something that even Merritt himself couldn't have in a million years predicted occurred. The at first unknown figure who was stood in front of the Horsemen was soon revealed to be the most unlikely person of all.

Dylan Rhodes.

It turns out that he was behind the Horsemen meeting each other, the plans, all of it. Long story short, he was the son of Lionel Shrike who died after a failed stunt involving a safe provided by Elkhorn. Tressler, Thaddeus, and the Credit Republican de Paris were also involved in either his death itself or the aftermath, leading Dylan to want revenge on them all.

"Hey listen for the record, I have always been a one hundred percent believer. And the amount of energy I have expanded to keep these infidels on point…"

"Merritt you're in."

"God bless." Sweeter words had never been spoken.

Dylan then gestured for the group to follow him onto the carousel. "The real magic is taking four strong solo acts and making them all work together, and that's exactly what you did."

You know what? He was right! For years Merritt had become so fearful, so caught up in avoiding working with other people like the plague even after Myrtle's death, all because of Chase's betrayal. Now not only had he proved himself to be a great magician but also along the way he found out that working with other people wasn't all that bad. He just had to find the right people, and those people were all stood with him.

"So welcome, welcome to the eye," were the last words spoken as the Horsemen proceeded to run over to the carousel.

Merritt couldn't stop a grin from escaping when from the corner of his eye, he saw Danny and Henley reaching out to hold each other's hand. Now, this was something he could keep for future reference.

Jumping onto a carousel horse, Merritt let out a deep breath of relief as he could now say he was part of something truly magical. Afterall, good friends were hard to come across, even harder to leave and impossible to forget.

Chapter Text

Always two sides to a story- Part1

The brilliant light of May marking the beginning of yet another day, the glass was practically invisible. The Sun streams in like an uninvited guest to a party, which for a moment made him forget the metal bars that surrounded the only source of light the prison cell allowed. Four months had passed since he, Tressler and Walter were arrested following a revenge plan against the Horsemen, and to this day Chase felt no regret on what he had done.

In his eyes, it's Merritt who should carry the guilt. Him being the very reason he had resorted to turning against everything that had once been true to his heart.

It had been another darkness filled grim day when a much wished forgotten memory returned to haunt him once more, curling himself into a ball and rocking himself back and forth he was mercilessly brought back to his childhood. A particular quote used by one of his school teachers regarding the twins ringing through his mind like a malicious earworm.

Siblings who spent their childhood together, stay together.

Then what the hell happened to the McKinney brothers?

It had started when they were kids, and in those happy, if now blurred days Chase and Merritt were the best of friends. They did everything together. Played together, ate together. They even did tricks together, which mostly involved swapping seats to confuse the teachers and their own parents.

The one moment Chase was particularly proud of was when he managed to trick his mother into feeding him lunch twice that day, which resulted in Merritt having to endure a long painful wait until dinner time. Now that was a childhood memory worth remembering.

Of course, all this was before their unexpected discovery of mentalism. And all it took to trigger it into something so massive was a simple question to begin the journey they couldn't turn back from.

"Do you love mom?"

Who would have thought a simple, innocently asked question like that could have caused such mayhem for the McKinney brother's minds? Well, whatever this unsettling vibe that came across from their fathers less than enthusiastic response signified, they were going to find out the underlying cause of it, together.

To begin with, the twins would spend an hour or two keeping an extra close eye on everything their dad did and said, Merritt, being the one to observe him thoroughly, while Chase took notes of any eye catching hints to the theory of their dad being unfaithful.

This self-proclaimed 'exposing the beast mission' then progressed into something more complex as their theories within time became increasingly logical. To ensure their suspicions were rightly placed they had set up various secret schemes, including expressing a sudden attachment to their father, which often left him feeling awkward and rushing off with a different mumbled excuse each time.

"Did you see how dads eye twitched when you asked him about mom?" Merritt had said to his younger twin brother as he wrote down their latest findings.

"Yeah and the way he stammered when making up that pathetic excuse of having to walk the dog, we don't even have a dog," Chase added, having earned himself a satisfied smile from his older brother.

From that day onwards things became more serious and awkward as not only did their father become more evasive each day, he also began to leave the house at any time of day and not come back for hours, if at all. The longest he had been gone on one of his so called 'trips' was for two whole days.

Although they both knew in their hearts that their slime ball of a father was a good for nothing cheater, it didn't prepare them for what they were to discover.

"Stop it, stop it!" Was the softly whispered chuckle that greeted Merritt and Chase when they got home from school.

Deciding to take a closer look at what they had walked into, the McKinney brothers eyes widened to the size of saucers when seeing their father passionately snogging a much younger brunette women who didn't look past her teenage years.

Everything that had led them to believe their father's disloyalty glared at them right in the face, the harsh smack of reality hitting them at full force as they came to terms with the fact that they had been right all along. At that very moment, neither twin could say they were proud to be correct.

Chase who's rage boiled through his body wanted nothing more than to burst in and give them both a piece of his mind, clenching his fists Chase was about to pull himself up to cause a commotion when he felt a hand pushing him back down by the shoulder.

"Don't," Merritt whispered, causing Chase to look up at him, unable to hide the mixture of fury and sorrow the unshed tears that lingered within his cold blue eyes. He was more in touch with his emotions back then.

Turning away from his brother's concerned gaze, he could only stare at the floor as he realized that Merritt was right, he always was.

Having been sent out to calm himself down Chase roamed the lonely, bitterly depressing yet humid streets that he remembered once being a wide avenue, alive with the lively sounds of laughter and endless chatter. Briefly turning to look around he spotted only a couple of people on the pavement opposite him walking past each other so quickly and without any eye contact, as if they were programmed to behave like everyone they came across was a potential threat.

Sighing softly to himself, Chase who reckoned he'd calmed down enough made his way home until he got unexpectedly shoved into the wall by a much older woman who hissed out a watch it, which Chase responded to by sticking his tongue out. Rubbing his arm to ease some of the pain from when it got scraped against the wall, the soft sound of paper gliding to the floor caught his attention. Grabbing it from the floor he turned it around so he could read what was on the other side.

Roy D. Bruce

Hypnotist and mentalist of the century!

The one and only man who can unlock a closed book

and read every single page of your mind using your own pad lock and key!

"I see you've taken an interest in Mr. Bruce," a voice said behind him. Turning around to look at the elderly man who had spoken to him, Chase's strong willed curiosity soon took over.

"What's a mentalist?"

"A mentalist is someone who is gifted with mental powers and is able to do extraordinary things such as mind reading, and a few can even master hypnosis."

Listening carefully to what the man had said, Chase grinned from ear to ear as an idea popped into his head, he then wasted no time in rushing back home with the poster flapping in his hand.

"Merritt, Merritt, come and look at this!" Chase had yelled as he jumped onto his older brother's bed, shoving the poster in his face.

"You know, I've been wanting to find out about how you were able to figure out so much about dad. Then I came across this poster about something called mentalism, it includes everything you were able to do. People with these kinds of skills are called mentalists!"

"A what?" Merritt questioned a few seconds after taking the poster from Chase, looking at it with tired eyes.

"A mentalist." Chase sighed when his older brother didn't reply.

"Come on bro, if you were able to figure out dad's big bad secret by reading him then who knows what you and I can discover?" This time Chase smiled when Merritt sat up from his lying down position with a thoughtful look on his face.

"I'll tell you what, give me some time to look into it properly and we can take it from there."

That following morning the twins had agreed to learn everything to do with mentalism and hypnosis, and to begin with it was a real struggle, making them almost believe it was impossible. But then it suddenly clicked, and within a year, they had advanced from not being able to a single thing regarding mentalism to successfully hypnotizing other people. This as well as correctly read their minds and dish out various secrets, which for Chase was a personal favorite.

It had taken a further two weeks before they were convinced it was the right time to finally spill the beans.

"Hey dad, look into my eyes and sleep!" Was the first thing Merritt had shouted as he galloped down the stairs, snapping his fingers once right in front of their father who unconsciously flopped in between his and Chase's shoulders.

"Boys, what are you doing?" Their mother questioned, which went ignored.

As soon as Merritt had placed their father into a trance, to begin with, they started with the small stuff, such as what his middle name was and his most embarrassing life memory. Although their skills had impressed their mom, it didn't prevent the simultaneous twisting sensation in both the twins stomachs as the daunting moment that would change everything was to come right now.

"Dad, is there anyone you're seeing at the moment?"

"Yes," he answered honestly in a monotone drone, earning a raised eyebrow from their mom.

"Male or female?"

"Female."

"What's her name?"

"Mary- Anne."

"Do you see this Mary-Anne as a friend or something more?" Merritt asked in a firmer tone of voice.

"Something more."

Now it was time for the cat to be let out the bag. "Thought so and you know what, we know for a fact you're cheating on our mom with her!" Chase yelled.

"Admit it!" Merritt spat out, glaring at his father in utter disgust.

"I am cheating on your mother with Mary-Anne."

Looking towards their mother as soon as their father had spoken fury began to fill her facial features, something neither McKinney twin had ever seen before.

After releasing their father from the trance, the next couple of hours were spent listening in on the intense argument between their parents. For Chase, in particular, one part of him felt accomplished that the truth was now in the out and open, while another felt remorse for his mother.

Unfortunately, the very next day was something neither twin could have predicted.

Their father had left them.

"Look, the kids were right, so I'm off," was all he had to say. Then in a matter of seconds, he was out that door, leaving behind a heavy silence immediately afterward.

"Mom, are you alright?" Merritt had asked with a slight stammer to his voice, as he and Chase came downstairs to offer any comfort they could give to her. However, the death glare they received in response proved otherwise.

"This is all your fucking fault!" Was the roared insult their mom hurled at the twins just as they began to make their way back upstairs.

"Mom we're sorry, we just -" Merritt was cut off from finishing his sentence as their mum did something unthinkable.

"Get out of my sight!" Then out of nowhere the second bottle of wine, their mom had consumed that night was launched towards the twins, resulting in it whacking Chase on the forehead, slicing it open which caused him to collapse on the stairs in shock.

Later that evening once Merritt had managed to sort his younger brother out in the bathroom, neither twin felt like talking, meaning they sat in total silence. Chase hadn't been able to stop shaking since the incident a few hours ago, Merritt who had been just as shocked himself wasn't going to leave his brother suffering, at least not alone.

"I propose a pact." Merritt blurted out, making sure Chase heard the seriousness in his voice. But when he silently looked up at him with fear filled eyes, Merritt took Chase's hand in his own.

"I want to make a pact that we are to always have each other no matter what happens, and as long as we have one another, whatever life hurls at us good or bad, we can guarantee we will get through it just the two of us," Merritt said in a reassuring tone, gently squeezing his young brother's hand as he spoke.

"Promise me, Chase, promise me you will stick to the pact as I intend to." Were the last words spoken that night as Chase could only feebly nod his agreement in response, he vividly remembered sleeping like a log that night.

Soon after declaring their pact officially active the twins decided it was time for a fresh start, meaning they were to run away from the building they once recognized as home to focus on themselves. It wasn't a particularly difficult decision to make. Besides, after witnessing the dramatic changes in their mom's behavior, they didn't fancy taking up the role of the punching bags whenever in her drunken rage required something to take out her frustrations on.

After drawing up a very basic plan of where they going to run away to, the McKinney brothers had wasted no time in shoving all they could into small duffle bags, including limited food supplies and a pile of cash from their mother's purse. All they had to do then was sneak out of the front door undetected, not that their mom would give a damn.

Before they knew it the twins were stood at the other side of the front door, unknowingly leading the way to a much better life for just the two of them. Watching as Merritt tossed away the keys into the nearest drain, a feeling of satisfaction that from this moment forward their lives would only improve sent a burst of joy to Chase's soul. Though the difficult thing out of all this wasn't the actual running away part, it was having to leave behind those memories that had meant something to him in the past.

But by the time he and Merritt had arrived at the bus station after an hours walk those negative thoughts that had invaded his mind vanished, especially when from the corner of his eye he got a glimpse of a bus driver who would, (with their input) give them a ride to their desired destination.

"When I snap my fingers you will sleep at my command!" Chase ordered as he ran up to the bus driver, yanking him by the arm so that he was forced to give him eye contact. But when his attempt to hypnotize the man failed, Chase grew frustrated.

Just as he was about to have another go Merritt had gently pushed him aside, then in a matter of seconds the formerly self-aware bus driver was sent into a sleepy trance.

"When I snap my fingers you are going to take us to a hotel far away from here, which you will do for free," having no choice but to silently watch Merritt give the man his instructions, Chase couldn't help but feel a tinge of jealousy of how his older brother was able to flawlessly hypnotise the man under pressure.

With that aside, the McKinney twins were soon on the move to the hotel far away as offered by the bus driver under Merritt's orders. Once they had arrived as far as they could be taken, wherever they were now was completely different to the dull as dishwater village they had left behind.

For instance, the one out of a hundred chance of seeing someone walk by in their village was doubled by almost ten thousand, as people swarmed the area like huge groups of flies, introducing the brothers to the game of avoid being budged out the way. Secondly, the city itself was alive with rays of light, as if someone had taken a pot full of glitter and thrown it as far as the eye could see. This along with the lively sounds of music blaring through their ears and into the open atmosphere.

Despite the obvious differences of locations, the McKinney brothers knew they had to make this work, no matter the circumstances.

"Chasey and a Mere bear, gonna make you scare bear? That's just weird on so many levels Chase." Merritt had complained during the day the twins had sat down in their hotel room, coming up with a catchy slogan for themselves.

Chase tutted at his brother's immediate dismissal of his success guaranteed idea. "Oh, come on Brosky, everyone knows that a catchy phrase gains the most attention which is what we want."

Having heard Merritt sigh to himself, Chase had grinned triumphantly when Merritt had reluctantly let him have his own way.

To begin with, they were lucky if a homeless person approached them asking for money, but as time progressed so did the attention of the people passing by. Then it wasn't too long before the brothers came face to face with their first official target.

Their fortunate (or unfortunate) target had been a couple called Renetta and Samuel, who seemed to be happy with one another. Like they did with their dad they started off with the small stuff, such as revealing they had a cat called fluffy. Then once the buzz got going, they dug deep for the major twists and turns of their minds.

The rush of excitement that tickled every bone in Chase's body as he and Merritt exposed the couple for the Janus faced cheats they were, was the moment where he was thankful he and Merritt would never sink to that level of stupidity, their brotherly love as they put it was far too close for that.

Before they knew it a boost of popularity hit the McKinney brothers as the numbers of people interested in them increased by the day, sending bursts of joy for the boys just as it would for someone who had won the lottery. For them, it felt like they had.

However, the attention of the public wasn't the only source of attention they had managed to gain. It had been a particularly successful day that they were approached by someone who didn't look to be just anyone from the public domain.

"You two go by the Mini McKinney's right?" A female voice had questioned in a soft tone, startling the brothers.

"I've seen you two perform out there, I just wanted to introduce myself as Charlene Wicks and say that you boys have taken my interest." Charlene leaned her hand out for the twins to shake, looking at her, Chase had instantly received bad vibes from this Charlene woman.

"My profession is an agent, a reliable and very skilled agent. And just so you two know, I could be your agent if you wished to extend your fame and fortune on a one hundred percent guarantee by me."

Chase had let out a sigh of relief when Merritt told her they would think about her offer, it was comforting knowing he too could sense the unfavorable auras Charlene gave off.

Now that he could confidently put the event behind him, he and Merritt were soon out and about on the streets doing their usual thing. Though sometimes when they performed, Chase couldn't help but look behind him just in case Charlene was watching.

Unfortunately, his fears of Charlene watching over them proved to be true as after yet another evening spent earning money, one man they had targeted earlier that day approached them, but this time with backup consisting of a bulky, fierce looking man with the intention of ripping the twins apart, limb by limb. Having no clue on how they were to escape the majorly alarming situation alive they had prepared themselves for the worst, when suddenly the sound of something metal viciously attacked the men, knocking them out cold.

"Boys, I see we meet again," Charlene greeted as she helped the twins up from off the floor. Chase, in particular, was all over the place, not just because of the near death experience but also due to the fact that now they would have no choice but to allow her to become their agent. Besides, no agent would save someone's life out of goodwill.

Just as he had dreaded the McKinney twins were officially working for Charlene Wicks, which meant changes were to occur. But despite those changes or necessary sacrifices for the long run as Charlene called them, it did mean they were more or less known throughout the entire city, which was something Chase had to admit wouldn't have happened without her.

So as their popularity rose for the second time in less than four months the McKinney twins had it all, but most importantly they had it together.

Until life decided to drop a bombshell on the younger of the two.

Well more like forcing him into uncontrollable fits of wall to wall vomiting, as a result of catching a stomach bug the very day they were to perform at a very good friend of Charlene's party down the street.

"We can't go to the party, Chase is sick," was the first audible thing Chase had heard as he was lead back to bed after another episode of ruthless vomiting. Exhausted and fed up, all Chase could do was weakly listen to the argument between Merritt and Charlene commence.

"You will just have to ride it solo."

"No, were a two man team, that's why the Mini McKinney's has an s on the end." Despite being clouded by sickness, Chase had managed to let out a small chuckle at Merritt's retort.

"Well, the 's' will have to be struck off for tonight! Besides, how many people in showbiz turn down a great opportunity just because of a minor setback?"

Merritt had been about to angrily reply when Chase had stepped in. "Just do it," had been his quiet, almost painful plea that he said to put an end to the pointless argument.

"Listen to Chase here, he's talking sense."

Then within the time of which Merritt literally had a few seconds to say goodbye to his ill ridden brother, they were gone. Leaving the hotel room they were currently staying at with an unbearably isolating silence, the only thing for company being the sick bucket left beside him.

After an hour or so waiting for something he wasn't sure he should be waiting for, Chase did manage to drift off to sleep, until all of a sudden a terrifying vision filled his mind, blanking out everything else around him.

He was thrown into a vision of a stage, the very stage Merritt was stood on, facing a crowd of at least over two hundred people and counting. All flowing down to the very front, eager to catch a glimpse of Merritt revealing the unknown for everyone to witness, flawlessly of course.

Though the one thing that struck him as unusual was the lack of nerves when performing. Although he couldn't exactly tell from how he spoke, but if he did feel even a tad nervous, he certainly didn't show it. In fact, he could have almost said Merritt was enjoying being the center of attention, on his own.

The majority of the vision then passed by in a blur, and when it did begin to make sense once more, he'd have done anything to make it so it didn't.

"Wow Merritt, way to go there buddy!"

"That was an incredible show young fellow!"

"Has anyone ever said how amazing you are!"

The emphasis on the word you echoed throughout the roars of applause just for Merritt to embrace.

"You were a grand success tonight McKinney!" Was the prideful statement from Charlene whose lips wore a wide smile, along with a disturbing gleam in her eye. A gleam he was more than certain to see again.

Then there it was the moment that shoved all the others into the shade. Merritt who possessed the exact same smile as the agent listened gleefully to the people showering him with praise and applause, which then transformed into cheerful chants of Merritt's name and his alone.

Just him.

No one else…

Jolting upright with sweat rapidly rolling down his forehead Chase's eyes dilated just before collapsing into himself, letting out rasping whimpers. Unsure whether it was genuine fear of the nightmare vision, or the churning of his stomach causing him to react in such a way. Whatever the meaning of this hair raising experience conveyed, it was sure to have an effect on him in the mere future.

After a couple of hours spent waiting for his brother to return, eventually around midnight Merritt and Charlene had arrived back at the hotel, the only noise surrounding the room was their agents drunken singing.

"Successful then?" Chase had bitterly questioned, looking up at Merritt who seemed flustered at his tone of voice.

"Yeah, but it didn't feel right without you there," was his response, and as reassuring as it was meant to sound, somehow it didn't stop the doubts of the fact he had enjoyed performing solo from forming in his mind. Nevertheless, he plastered on a false smile and carried on as if nothing happened.

Yet it was easier said than done, especially how everything seemed to have changed since that very day. Now whenever they performed, Charlene would always call out Merritt's name in a louder enthusiastic voice than when she called out Chase's, as well as after each show she would focus her attention on Merritt when congratulating them on another successful show.

To put it mildly, it was certainly a killer to the ego, not only that but it did make him wonder if Charlene had really only wanted Merritt for her business, and just took on Chase as well to keep Merritt sweet.

Well, the answer to his pending question would come around the corner soon enough, though not in the ways he had planned the case scenario.

"This Mini McKinney thing isn't working for me anymore," Charlene had sharply informed the twins on their sixteenth birthday, the reality of the shocking revelation grating into the McKinney brothers very souls. So much for a sweet sixteen.

"I thought me and Mere bear were doing great?" Chase had questioned, giving the agent the sour look she was giving him.

"Oh Mere bear is doing just fine, you on the other hand just aren't making the cut!"

And there it was, for them both to hear loud and clear. Charlene had finally vocalized her wish to kick Chase to the curb and make Merritt the star she had always believed him to be.

"They like you, Merritt. Chasey here contributes to the act like a fly does in someone's presence, sure, the fly makes itself known by buzzing around to gain some of the attention, but in the end, it is destined to be swatted away until finally, someone decides to squash it."

Despite the fly remark hurting that tiny bit, it was soon to be forgotten when Merritt decided to bounce back and fight for the twins right to perform together.

"Well Miss Wicks, as much as it's been nice to have worked under your thumb, if you won't allow my brother Chase to be on that stage with me then we don't perform at all."

Charlene scoffed. "Fine. Though I think you've made a grave mistake there McKinney."

Just as she had begun to hastily make a grab for her phone, Chase had no option but to rush towards the fuming agent who scowled at his sudden approach.

Regardless of whether Chase should have felt discouraged or even remotely angry at Charlene's insensitive statements, Merritt had made a lot of sacrifices for him in the past so now it was his turn to return the much-owed favor. And what better way than to do it in the only way he knew best. Sweet talk.

"You know she does have a point Brosky," Chase began as quickly as the flow of words came to mind. "Wouldn't it be great to have everyone's eyes all on you, their roars of amazement ringing through your ears, particularly those from the female fans. Not to mention the sexy feeling of the wads of cash piled onto the palms of your hands. Plus you already have the experience of the whole solo thing, and I wouldn't be totally out the picture. I could be something like your manager, so I would still be part of the action just not in the same way I used to."

For a moment Merritt did look as though he was considering his brother's words, seconds later he shook his head, claiming he couldn't do such a thing to his own brother.

Sighing to himself, Chase knew he had only one option left. The younger McKinney brothers facial features transformed from his usual go lucky, cheerful expression to a death glare of pure fury, Merritt's freaked out response had been worth the worrying thoughts of hurting him.

"Okay, I'll do it," Merritt confirmed seconds later after Chase's 'change of behavior'. Charlene who had watched the entire conversation between the twins let out an avaricious smile as she tossed her phone to the side, happy to comply with the newly decided agreement.

That following evening was spent celebrating the beginning of Merritt's journey to becoming world famous as a solo act. Nothing anyone could have said or done would have changed the way Chase had felt that night.

Even if he was no longer allowed to be on the stage with him, he could say without a doubt not a single thing would change the connection shared just between them. Afterall, Merritt wouldn't let all the glory get to his head, right?

Chapter Text

Always two sides to the story part 2 (goes on to chapter 9)

 

Big. Mistake.

How could he have been so foolish not to realize that when circumstances change so does the person?

Well, that wasn't the case, to begin with, and for a period of time, there was nothing not to like. It was from the very day the agreement had been put into place that Merritt's journey to fame and fortune grew at a rapid speed. Then before anyone knew it Merritt was officially known as America's best mentalist, and as his name was passed around the country, various opportunities to appear on television and live shows came knocking on their door, all eager to meet the mystical Merritt McKinney. It was those moments which gave Chase the extra pleasure of working beside his brother at the center of it all.

Being Merritt's manager was nifty at times, he took extra care to make sure his brother was feeling his best no matter what, and Merritt had respected the work he put into that. Not to mention the pay was good, even though he could have sworn Charlene pinched more than ten percent of the overall income, which left Chase with less than he was entitled to. But despite that minor detail, he couldn't have asked for anything better.

A profound memory of his was when Merritt had received flabbergasting news of an around the country tour offered exclusively for him, this had triggered happily shouted out phrases of fuck yes, along with triumphant fist punches in the air, creating an emotional moment shared between the twins. The remainder of that day was spent consuming large amounts of alcohol late into the night, except Merritt who was to stay sober under Charlene's orders.

His first official day of being on tour had been scheduled for the 25th of June, just a week after the announcement. When the day came it was an extremely early start for everyone, and despite the tricky process of having to travel without being stopped by groups of exuberant fans desperate to snap a photo or even a glimpse of the Mentalist, they did manage to get to their given destination in time for the performance.

Then moments before Merritt was due to hit the stage just a couple of hours after arriving in San Diego, was when things took an unexpected turn in ways Chase wouldn't have even considered thinking of.

"You got this Mere bear," Chase had said to his brother in his usual cheerful manner, along with a reassuring pat on the shoulder. However, it didn't go down the way he had expected it too.

"Mere bear?!" Merritt began, his suddenly cold blue eyes glaring daggers into his younger brothers softer ones. "For god sake Chase I'm gonna be up on that stage in less than a minute in front of hundreds if not thousands of people and the last thing I need is you acting the fool by calling me stupid names, making me out to be some kind of bloody immature schoolboy!"

Merritts hollered out sentence reverberated in Chase's ears like a clap of thunder consisting of pure rage, it was a roar of fury the younger McKinney brother had never been on the receiving end of before. Even Charlene had been quite surprised at the mentalists sudden outburst, though a second later a wicked smile crept across her lips as if Merritt had accomplished something.

All this was just so out of character for him that all Chase could do was stare at his older brother open-mouthed, and once his brain was able to formulate thoughts again, Chase decided to divert his gaze elsewhere. Then within seconds, Merritt had just enough time to walk away while directing a scowl towards his brother and take a few deep breaths, before his name was called out, followed by many piercing screams of excitement.

Looking at his brother as he walked onto the stage, a feeling of shame burned inside Chase's stomach. He hadn't meant to cause any drama from such a little gesture, and it certainly wasn't his intention to irritate his brother to such a major level. Though if he thought about it, maybe it was the pressure of having to do well getting him, so really he couldn't hold his venting episode against him. He just had to hope nothing like this would repeat itself.

Nevertheless, with the incident pushed aside, Chase remained encouraging towards his brother, especially since it was his first time on tour. Beaming as he watched the entire show right through to the end, clapping when the big reveals came into action. A burst of joy filled his soul with warmth at just how much of a huge success Merritt had become, even if they were now in separate leagues.

Quietly sighing to himself as he allowed that thought to ponder his mind, he failed to notice Charlene's formidable stare sharply fixed on him from within the distance. It was only until he turned to his right, that he detected the agent's fixated staring over towards his direction for longer than he was comfortable with. Shifting awkwardly under her gaze that made the hair on his arms rise with discomfort, Charlene then turned away but not before giving him a crafty look. A look that haunted him for the remainder of the show, with no desire to explore the meaning behind it.

So once the show had finally come to an end at just over midnight, Chase had regained enough confidence to gently approach Merritt with a look of fulfillment swiftly upon his facial features.

"Hey bro, good job out there," he had said in a much more calmly spoken way than before.

Merritt groaned, unsure whether he was just tired or still pissed off from earlier, either way, it didn't make his response any easier to take in. "I'm exhausted Chase, please, just leave me alone."

Despite the obvious urge to find out exactly why Merritt had been treating him in that highly unusual way, then after some consideration, he decided to call it a one-off. Afterall, everyone has a bad day once in awhile, and Chase could confidently say with his hand on his heart that this abrupt change in attitude wouldn't last.

As much as he'd loved to have said that what the following months brought to the table conveyed the honesty represented in his earlier statement, he couldn't. For a while after the incident, things had surprisingly gone back to being relatively normal, including the relationship between the twins. This ultimately lead Chase to believe his strangely frightening encounter with Charlene was just to scare him into keeping himself in his so-called place. But over time he came to realize just how wrong he'd truly been about everything his heart held dear to him.

It started off with the very minor things, such as occasionally being missed out on being informed of a meeting until the very last minute, it's the kind of thing that was easily understandable given there was lots to do with such little time to get it done, and so it was just as easily forgotten about within minutes. But it wasn't long before the occasional 'forgetting' to notify him turned into a regular occurrence, that continued to escalate until it became a daily situation.

Once he can accept as a genuine slip-up, twice he could possibly overlook as a mistake, but third and beyond was just both ridiculous as well as highly frustrating. However, this wasn't the only issue Chase would end up having to 'gracefully' deal with.

Soon after the problems with the meetings began, then came the sudden exclusion from anything that was to do with public events. As soon as Chase would receive any news about yet another TV opportunity or live show for Merritt to appear on, within seconds Charlene would snatch his rights to voice his opinion on the matter and accept the offer herself, regardless of whether it was actually worth their time or not.

Power being the constant notion bolting across the agent's mind as if it were a racing track where an intense racing competition was taking place, only this particular race didn't seem to cease. Just like a racing track, those who rode in the way of the much-desired prize found themselves forcefully flipped over within an instant, leaving you scrambling to reclaim what was once your dignity.

This swiftly moved on to his next point as to how accurate his last statement described his feelings when this abrupt, but none the less surprising rule imposed by the agent herself that nobody below her rank (meaning Chase) was to be heard at any given time without her express permission, though it was quite obvious she would preferably not even have him seen if it weren't for Merritt's wish for him to be part of it all. From that moment onwards nearly the whole crew ignored his presence as if Chase was some sort of pesky cold caller you would normally slam the door on.

The only person he did get to speak to on a daily basis besides from Merritt for a minuscule amount of time in the evenings was Charlene's runner called Sephora, who had only worked in Charlene's services for a week and was already at the end of her tether. He couldn't blame the poor girl for getting so flustered within such a short space of time, especially considering the way she was treated. The tyrant like agent had her run ragged from dawn to dusk, often made to suffer the frequent spells of Charlene's anger oriented wrath for the littlest of things, whether it was for something as silly as being a second late with her coffee to making an invisible mess of the papers she was to fetch.

Then most evenings Chase would find her crying in the tea room. Although he wasn't the best when it came to offering comfort, he did try his best to help her whenever he could to stop her from undergoing a major breakdown. In return, Sephora gave him small smiles of gratitude, which just showed him how fragile she really was. If he wasn't here to be of support to Merritt he would have told her to flee while she still maintained her sanity, after all, she wasn't the one who had sibling duties resting on her shoulders.

And as if all that wasn't enough, the one and only thing that well and truly pained him more than anything else he had been forced to endure was the fact that whenever advertising was required, Charlene's name always somehow managed to muscle itself into the spotlight at some stage in the process. Then when it came to the many requested interviews on various morning TV shows, it was Charlene who obtained the pleasure of joining Merritt in sharing their experiences for the world to see, acting as if they were the siblings who had spent a large majority of their lives building up towards the fame and fortune.

Watching closely at the way Charlene's body language portrayed the pack of lies freely escaping her mouth, the feeling of desolation that squeezed the center of his heart sent a graduate slow burn of darkness boiling through his veins. Never before had Chase ever felt so futile in all his life, it was one thing to ignore him, but to practically wipe out his total existence and replace it with someone who was more 'suitable' was downright despicable.

To put it bluntly, it stung like a bitch. But this sting would soon transform into a full-blown punch to the soul, in ways that were beyond him.

The upcoming weeks could only have been best described as an emotion-packed water rollercoaster. Like any other ride, there were ups and there were downs, the only difference was once you reached the nadir moment of the journey you soon found yourself diving straight down with no indications of gradual decline until it greeted you with the harsh splash of reality at full force.

The first major downfall being halfway through the tour around America. They had all arrived in Los Angeles a day early only for the actual show to begin just a few hours due to a mix-up involving the dates and times, which meant everyone had to quite literally put their skates on and rush to get things done to perfection.

Despite all this, there was a ray of sunshine that shone over all the hassle, particularly for Chase as he had been specifically requested to appear on the stage with Merritt, which sent a giddy feeling down the manager's spine as he tried to conceal his childlike bounces of excitement. Glancing at the clock for a split second Chase's eyes widened at the fact that in less than two minutes he would be up on that stage right beside Merritt, just how things were ten or so years ago.

Looking back at the clock, his rush of adrenaline levels only increased as the minutes till show time decreased. Deciding to focus on Merritt who he sensed his own excitement radiating from his pacing body, shot Chase a heartwarming smile from behind one of the crew members as if to silently say, welcome back bro.

Now that he only had less than a minute to wait the overwhelming sensation of the butterflies fluttering inside his stomach kicked in, as the realization dawned on the younger McKinney brother that nothing could happen to rip this blissful moment away from him.

Or so he thought.

Alas, just as he was about to set foot out into the public, a barrier which in this case consisted of an overly familiar woman with her hair in a tight brunette bun, who wore a just as familiar firm facial expression. Her arm which was steadily blocking his path to the exit instantly replaced the joyful vibes with a jaw-dropping dismay.

"Er, what do you think you're doing?" Charlene hissed, her teeth gritted together so tightly spit sprayed on Chase's face who avoided wiping it off in front of her. Instead, he weakly responded with something along the lines of being told he was to accompany Merritt on stage.

Scoffing in pure disgust at Chase's reply, Charlene's expression only got darker as the following harshly spat out words came out from her mouth.

"Allow me to make something crystal clear to you. I am the one to accompany Merritt on stage, there's no us, there's definitely no you, just me!"

"Then how come was I specifically requested to come up on stage?" Chase blurted out without thinking of how badly this could end for him, "surely seeing as Merritt's my brother they would-"

"Don't try my patience Chase!" The agent yelled, hastily cutting Chase off from his sentence before adding in low-toned whisper, "I will not have a skimpy little shit like you ruin this massive moment for me, so if you really want to see your bwother up close, go stand to the very back of the audience so I don't have to set my eyes upon the burden that follows this crew around like a disease!"

Feeling personally attacked, along with the discomfit of how Charlene teasingly used his own words against him, Chase saw no reason in arguing further and with that, he went off to do as he was told.

Once he had slipped his way through the overbearing crowd of thousands of people swarming around the area while roaring with exhilaration, Chase could only let out a forlorn sigh as he listened out for the introductions.

"Ladies and gentlemen, your favorite mentalist you have been waiting for has finally reached the delightful city of Los Angeles. So without further ado, presented to you by Charlene Wicks, the one, and only Merritt McKinney!"

Then immediately after the introduction speech, Merritt appeared onto the stage with a confident smile on his face, which made his blue eyes beam with pride. Listening to his older brothers voice projected by the microphone he held within his left hand as he invited up a few people on stage to reveal their secrets, it almost made him forget all the crap he's had to put up with in order for Merritt to lead this lifestyle of fame.

However, this sudden bout of content would soon disappear as quickly as it came on when towards the end of the show, Chase from the corner of his eye caught a glimpse of Charlene chatting away to a co-producer next to her near the entrance of the stage. He would have been about to turn away if Charlene hadn't noticed him before he could do anything, the agent then elbowed the co-producer just before pointing towards Chase and sniggering, sending sharp chills down his spine.

Directing his eye contact back at Merritt who was evidently enjoying the attention, all Chase could do was let himself drift off for a bit, that was until he received an unexpected pat on the shoulder. Looking down at the blonde woman stood next to him who he assumed was responsible for making him jump, it didn't take her long to start talking.

"Funny isn't it?" She began, completely oblivious to Chase's confusion. "It's shows like this that really make you feel as if you're included in all the glamour instead of just the consumption, don't they?"

"Yeah?" Chase replied, anxious to know where this was going.

"Well, that's just the beauty of being part of the audience!"

It was at that moment where everything around him came to a halt for a single second, it had been as soon as the word audience was mentioned that made him lose his sense of sanity for those few seconds.

He was the manager, not some audience member. Couldn't she tell?

Hang on, now that he thought about it, how could she? There was nothing about him that told anyone that he was a manager or anyone even remotely important for that matter. In fact, if he were someone else looking at him he wouldn't have the slightest clue either.

It was quite depressing, to say the least.

Though as usual, he would have to shove everything negative aside as before he knew it the show had ended, meaning he could finally escape the embarrassment he was sustained too.

Once he had made his way over to where Merritt was currently being congratulated on his latest stunt, the thought of telling him in a non-complaining way of how Charlene was treating him behind his back popped into his head. Then without considering it for even a second Chase went up to him, praying for the slightest hope Merritt would understand his concerns despite all his glory.

"Hey Mer- bro" Chase began, mentally wincing at how the forbidden nickname had nearly slipped out from his mouth. "You did a great job out there and I'm proud of that, but when we get a chance could we talk?"

Unfortunately, as if she had placed herself on cue Charlene burst into the room, instantly disrupting the chance of getting any sort of answer from Merritt as she informed him that a reporter wanted a photo of the two of them together for the local newspaper. Watching as his older twin dashed for one of the exits without even so much as a rushed talk later from him, Charlene directed a smug grin towards Chase as if she was a cat sitting contentedly by the fire.

Though if he looked at it closely, it really wasn't too far off from being reality. They all had parts to play in this, Charlene was without a doubt the owner of the two pets wrapped around her legs, Merritt being the cat that's endlessly pampered and showered with love and attention. Whereas Chase was the dog constantly being choked by the lead stiffly around its neck, yanked around from to and throw against his will.

But never did he think he would look up one day to see Merritt in control of that lead.

Chapter Text

It was now the final two weeks before the official end of the tour where the four remaining shows that were to transpire, was when things really began to kick off. What with all the pressure piled up to the very maximum, it was understandable that Merritt would be majorly stressed out and perhaps even fed up with the entire thing altogether. So to be of help towards his brother Chase did all he could to unload a fraction of the stress onto himself so that not only Merritt knew he could count on him for support but to also make life a little easier for him.

However, as Chase began to realize that his efforts to be loyal towards his fame filled brother weren't exactly paying off, it soon became crystal clear as to where he stood in Merritt's perspective.

This swiftly lead him on to the second downfall of this so-called journey, which also took place during the last couple of minutes before a show was to commence. Unlike the previous shows, rumor had it that some celebrity VIP's were to come along to witness America's foremost mentalist in action, which alone must have sent whirlwinds of butterflies in his stomach without having to think of the general public as well. But just as the withstanding pact to this day conveyed, Merritt wasn't to go through it alone.

"Merritt," Chase began as he took a few moments to look around in case Charlene got any ideas of interrupting. "You're gonna do great, I can sense it, so you don't need to be ner-"

"Yeah, I know," Merritt interrupted with a look of irritation plastered on his facial features, giving his younger brother a shock with his unexpected reaction.

A gobsmacked Chase could only watch Merritt flip his shoulder-length hair as he attempted to conceal the multiple squeaks that escaped his lips. The fact that he hadn't received even a small thank you in response to his kind gesture, but just a simple statement of how he knew, hurt a little.

Even after the show circumstances hadn't improved as this particular show had received the largest outcome of audience figures since the very first one back in San Diego. When achievements like this came to Charlene's attention some sort of celebration party was sure to come, with this event being no exception. In spite of the merry atmosphere, the party portrayed Chase was feeling the complete opposite, mainly due to the fact that throughout the whole evening Merritt made absolutely no effort to even acknowledge his younger brother's presence. He didn't even do as much as raise an eyebrow when making his departure, despite making it quite obvious that he was leaving.

Though it wasn't just at parties he was often abandoned at the drop of a hat. What with Merritt being famous and all it wasn't uncommon for a few hyperactive overly obsessive fans to be squealing from outside the door, desperate to get up close and personal with him. Whenever this did occur which was more or less a daily situation, Merritt would waste no time in allowing them to have what they desired, uncaring of the repercussion on Chase's behalf.

In his earlier days of fame, Merritt used to apologize deeply for any kind of unexpected interference during the time which he specifically devoted to being spent between himself and Chase. That was until he stopped being sorry.

Then it wasn't long before the sudden isolation from Merritt's life journey became a twenty-four-hour experience. If he wanted advice, Charlene was the one he would turn to. If he required a few encouraging sentences when the pressure of doing well became a hassle to handle, the opportunity was automatically handed over to Charlene.

Eventually, the overbearing isolation got to a point where Chase would regularly listen in on the hourly long discussions between Merritt and the agent, with his ear pressed against the door in case any mention of him came into the conversation. As a result, the pain of the steep segregation only deepened when not even a whisper of him was mentioned.

The evenings were no different, Merritt was either hanging out with fans who relentlessly insisted on spending time with him well after show time hours, or he was with Charlene doing god knows what as Chase had been forbidden from disturbing them at any time of day. Instead, during those evenings he would look out of the window in silence for hours on end, frequently wondering what it was like to part of the unsuspecting public, completely blind to what went on behind closed doors.

If he was totally honest with himself he envied each and every person he saw walk past, jealous of the boundless freedom they were privileged to have. Sometimes, if his day had been beyond shit, he closed his eyes and visualized himself within the crows of people, doing his own thing without having to face the constant misery of being trapped.

Whenever circumstances lead to him using this particular coping method, the phrase be careful what you wish for always seemed to muscle itself in his mind. But never did he think there would be a catch involved.

Today was the day and enough was enough. Today he was going to come out from his shell and tell Merritt everything he'd yearned to get off his chest for what seemed like centuries.

And nothing was going to stop him.

"Merritt!" Chase had called out multiple times as he frantically ran through the studio, desperate to find his brother to finally spill out the truth he'd been concealing for years. After having no luck in locating his brother's whereabouts, Chase sighed with frustration as he bent down to catch his breath.

However, Chase wasn't the only one wanting to accomplish something when he felt his back suddenly bumping into someone's chest. Then before he could react he found himself forcefully dragged into a small pitch black room by the arm just before being viciously shoved onto the wall, his head vibrating against it as he did so. Without as even as much as a second to look up to see who it was, he needn't have bothered when the voice that spoke out soon after his unpleasant attack belonged to no other than the despicable agent who for years loathed him.

"I should have known," Chase spat as soon as his eyes came into contact with Charlene's menacing facial expression.

"Oh sorry, did you hope that I was Merritt wanting to whisk you away from my dragony clutches?" The agent sneered, her voice sounding as if she had become a mentalist herself.

"Well at least let the nasty old dragon breathe its fire," Charlene scornfully added before Chase got a chance to open his mouth to protest against her previous taunt.

"So, I guess I should explain why I brought you over to my lair," said the beaming agent, preventing Chase from responding yet again.

"Oh come on Chasey, I thought you would be pleased to see me. Especially since I bring some news that I sense you will be so keen to discover."

Immediately after finishing her sentence Chase's eyes widened before reverting back to his glaring position. "Yeah, like what?

"Nothing much," Charlene began while twiddling with a lock of her hair. "Just that me and Mere bear have discussed certain matters which have lead us to renegotiate a couple of things."

"What kind of things?" Chase questioned warily, unsure of what to expect.

Charlene let out a sickly sweet laugh as if it was all just one big jolly jape. "Oh you know, like what will happen once the tour comes to an end, stuff like that."

Frowning at the agent's dreadful attempts to make out she wasn't purposely hiding something from him, Chase anxiously bit his lip as he waited for her to reveal the classified information.

"Like I said nothing terribly important… Oh, wait! There was something else," Charlene blurted out, the way she pretended to forget pressing on his nerves. "There was a small discussion to do with a change of scenery."

Making sure Charlene didn't hear, Chase let out a small sigh, instantly wishing he didn't have the mental capacity to guess where this was heading.

"Now you're probably thinking where Merritt was thinking of wanting to locate to next, but this isn't the question of locations. No, this is to do with a change of scenery team-wise, you know determining who to keep and who to drop. Most of the crew were easy enough to decide upon, but like any other company there are always those few who aren't such an easy choice."

"Shot in the dark, I was one of them," Chase grumbled, earning himself a fruitful smile.

"Now, I myself didn't get much of a say when it came to discussing you, but Merritt, on the other hand, didn't take too long to make up his mind…"

"Don't even go there!"

"What?" Charlene asked in such an innocent tone of voice that made Chase want to vomit violently.

"He wouldn't, not without me!" Chase defended, ignoring the way his body was heavily shaking, along with how his voice wavered as he tried but failed to speak with confidence.

He wasn't truly going to let Charlene's ways of twisting his mind really make an impact on him, was he? Surely Merritt wouldn't be that wrapped around the fingers of fame and fortune as to cut off the very person who had been there for him no matter the situation since the very beginning?

Chase was soon snapped out of his thoughts when Charlene let out another laugh, but this time a more sinister one. Then as if all this had been rehearsed, the agent's former fruitful smile transformed into one of pure evil.

"Oh, he would," the agent replied in an awfully familiar low toned voice as she fished something from a yellow folder beside her, which she then slammed into Chase's hands what was revealed to be a contract signed by Merritt.

"And he has!"

Chase gasped in a mixture of disbelief and horror at the heart-wrenching reality that everything his mind had ever feared was there to see in black and white. Chase could feel the sweat that drenched the skin of the very palms of his hands mark little spots onto the corners of the paper itself. The throbbing of his eyes overtaking his ability to think as he quivered at the sight of Merritts neatly written signature agreeing to his twins impending doom.

To even hold the single piece of paper that confirmed each and every dark thought Chase had fought long and hard to banish to the very darkest corners of the back of his mind, felt like a severe burning pain that increased in waves of fury on a mission to disintegrate his heart, once and for all.

Charlene cackled at the sight of the younger McKinney brothers sorrow-stricken look of agony.

"What? You seriously thought Merritt would continue to let you tag around for the remainder of his glory days, just so you can feel that tiny bit better about your own worthless existence? Well, guess what Chasey, you are nothing!"

At this point all Chase could do was stand and stare at the agent hurling various hurtful words towards him. He was pretty sure Charlene could hear his rapid breathing over her own voice, though he knew for a fact he was the only one who could feel the oxygen flooding in and out of his lungs as she spoke.

"Yeah, that's right, nothing!" Charlene continued to jeer in a mocking tone. "You're nothing to me, nothing to the whole production, or any of the public who don't have even the slightest clue as to who you are. But most of all, you're nothing to Merritt. You're not famous, you're not someone the whole world desires to be like, you don't have fans who adore you and roar with excitement every time you show your face, hell, nobody would know that your even related to the magnificent Merritt McKinney if they walked past you in the streets!"

Scoffing dangerously, Charlene suddenly leaned closer to Chase until their heads were practically touching. "I hate to say it, but I think your brotherly bond has run out of juice."

Watching as Charlene snatched the paper from Chase's sweaty hands just before leaving the room with a smirk on her face, as if to reward herself for a job well done, Chase was left trying to process all that had happened in such a short space of time.


 

Desperate to get away from all the crap he'd been forced to endure Chase threw open the door, uncaring of the fact he had made a dent in the back of it and rushed back to the apartment that from this moment in time felt like a fortress made up of false pretenses and deceit.

Bursting through the entrance to the said apartment a sudden but forceful bout of anger boiled inside his system, it churning within his very soul and hungry for destruction. Which in this case as the pressure of the raging sea continued to rise until it became too much to physically restrain.

Then as if someone had unleashed a ferocious beast, everything that stood in its path was sent flying across to wherever they were fortunate or unfortunate enough to land. Swearing uncontrollably as he let the tornado of fury having been suppressed for many months, if not years wreak havoc in the form of Chase's own person. This mostly consisted of various items (of which most were his own) hurled against the wall, some surviving while others smashed to smithereens.

When there was nothing left to throw, Chase resorted to kicking the table leg a numerous amount of times. That was until the venomous outburst of indignation began to fade, only to be replaced with the profound feeling of sorrow compressing his chest as the ugly side of reality hit him at full force like a kick to the stomach.

As his eyes shifted from side to side to get a good look at the damage he had inflicted on the apartment, Chase's singling ice cold blue eyes soon became glazed with a glassy layer of tears he'd previously succeeded in preventing from escaping. But now as he blinked they dripped down from his eyelids and slid down his cheeks, no matter how hard he bit his lip to conceal any sounds that wanted to shout themselves out into the open, Chase could no longer contain his broken wails from echoing across the atmosphere of the empty apartment.

Then once that one tear broke free, the rest followed in an unbroken stream. Curling himself into a tight ball from where Chase had sunk to the floor in a heap of despair, the heavy sobs that tore through his throat in between strangled breaths unleashed all the misery and affliction he'd suffered through in silence for many years too long.

As his sobs began to falter, multiple questions of various aspects of his life came to mind.

Had Merritt ever truly appreciated all the things Chase had done out of loyalty to his brother throughout his years of stardom?

Was Merritt really that grateful for when he had willingly sacrificed his place on the stage so his brother could pursue their wildest dreams to the fullest?

Had he even been serious when he proposed the pact they had sincerely agreed to as children?

Who was he kidding? For the past ten years, he had been so blinded by Merritt's apparent refined gratitude and brotherly love, that he hadn't realized he'd just had the wool pulled over his eyes to conceal his deceitful objectives. It had all been one big fat joke he'd been unintentionally pulled into being part of, being lead to believe Merritt was laughing along with him when in actual fact he was laughing at him!

But what really made the bitter wrath of the harsh reality sting that bit more was now the 'joke' had been made and the audience having gotten a kick out of it, he was left in the dark, thrust to the curb like a tramp in the streets. There wasn't a single soul out there willing to lend a helping hand, he was truly and utterly alone.

Who was there to prove him otherwise? Merritt had obviously made up his mind regarding his own priorities, Charlene probably would have turfed him out years ago if he weren't Merritts brother, more or less the entire crew despised him, and as for Sephora she had cast off her chains and found her way to freedom.

Which left Chase once again helpless against the depths of isolation.

But what if things didn't have to be that way?

What was there to stop him from taking a leaf out of Sephora's book and unlock his own chains?

Why should he be denied to live his life to the fullest just because of a certain twin brothers past actions?

What or who could even remotely prevent him from leaving all this behind him and starting from scratch? That's right, no one.

No one to tell him what he can and can't do.

No one to take advantage of him whenever they saw fit.

No one to push him around or stomp on him so hard he ended up revisiting the domination of profound sadness he was earlier exposed to.

And now that he truly thought about it, he saw no reason why he couldn't shove all the negativity throughout the years to the darkest corner of his mind and start afresh. Yeah, he could do this.

In fact, there's no could, he would do this!

Abruptly standing up at the wave of confidence that sparked through his entire body, Chase scrubbed at the stray tears in the process of staining his cheeks as he walked over to the bathroom where a mirror was placed just above the sink. Staring fondly at himself for a good minute or so, a small smile crept up on the younger McKinney brothers lip as he pictured himself living a solo life, with the presence of other people and the burdening complications they bring absent.

He could see it now. No longer would he be the ragged old doormat everyone walked all over and having the crap wiped off on from the end of their shoes. Nor shall he be the object that after serving its purpose was tossed aside, deemed useless. He would rise above from the floor he was once confined to and prove to himself that Chase McKinney will indeed hold his head up high, and walk through life having shaken off all the shit he could safely dispose within the past.

Well, maybe he could leave his mark someplace or two. You know, in order to give two certain people something to remember him by. Oh yes, they definitely wouldn't be forgetting what he had planned for them within the deepest recesses of his mind in a hurry.

Already he could visualize the exact route the plan was to take to every last detail. After all, if he was to live with the repercussions of the past, then why should they have the privilege of missing out?

Oh, how things could have been different if Charlene hadn't become such a massive impact on their lives...

Though to be fair Charlene wasn't entirely to blame, Merritt was just as bad for letting her words get to his head as she was for saying them. Nevertheless, they had both done wrong towards him in one way or another, and now it was time for the dog to bark back.


 

Step one, kick the cat off its perch.

Just like a cat, Merritt relied on his creature comforts in order to feel good about himself, therefore it wasn't long before Chase raced to gain access to what his dear brother cared for most.

His beloved green friends.

It hadn't taken too much effort to figure out various passwords along with a pin number for his brother's credit card, after all, he was a mentalist which meant everyone and everything they possessed or wished to hide was an open book and Merritt had always been an easy read.

This only fueled the warm feeling of satisfaction that circled his veins as he watched the cash machine drain Merritt's finances dry that bit further, triggering the barely contained wide grin to spread across his lips.

Clapping gleefully once the huge wad of cash (and a hell of a lot of it) was softly touching the palms of his hands, he gracefully traced every single cherished note with the one finger as if it was some kind of pet, before quickly shoving it into his pocket undetected.


 

Step two, retaliate against the 'owner'.

He hadn't even been able to get to the door to find two bulky men standing outside of Charlene's room. Whistling to get their attention, the two guards accosted towards him with their fists clenched, ready at any given moment to do some damage if necessary.

"Hey fellas, nice day?" Chase asked in an overly cheerful voice, trying to make a conversation, despite knowing all too well they weren't the type to have a random friendly chat with an intruder.

Then just as one of the men made his move to swing a punch at Chase's face, the younger McKinney twin swiftly seized the man's arm and ferociously twisted it so a dull cracking sound filled the atmosphere before grabbing the arm of the other guard.

Before the man could even cry out in pain, he along with the other guard were suddenly drawn into Chase's mesmeric gaze. Their facial features relaxing once they were under the influence of the younger McKinney brothers compelling voice.

"So strong, so sturdy, so brawny, so ... Stupid, and sleep! "

"I bet you two wish you played nice," Chase said while chuckling to himself as he let the two men drop to the floor with a massive thud. He'd been practicing his hypnosis skills outside of brotherly duties.

With the guards officially dismantled, there was now nothing to prevent Chase from doing what he'd craved to do for so many painfully straining years.

Skipping over to the very front of the door Chase was about to make his grand entrance until the sound of Charlene's hyena-like laugh roared through the door. Upon hearing the ear bleeding noise which could have been easily mistaken for an atrociously played violin, the younger hypnotist pressed his ear against the door, longing for the right moment to pounce on his prey.

"You should have been there Melba, it was so tragically funny to see his little sad face droop at the devastating news!" The way her mocking tone of voice carelessly ridiculed the most harrowing time of his life, made the blood circling Chase's veins boil with intense rage.

Unwilling to stand around and listen to any more of the agent's astringent insults, Chase didn't even hesitate before making his grand entrance by swinging the door so hard he could have sworn the door handle had broken off in the process.

"Security!" Charlene yelled as soon as Chase had burst into the room, ignoring her annoyed facial expression when marching straight towards her. Then within an instant her previously annoyed facial expression abruptly changed to one of fear as she was suddenly grabbed roughly by the arm, feeling the compressing force of his grip dig deeper into her flesh, the agent found herself unable to break free from his grasp.

"Sorry to say, but your boys have been deactivated for this occasion as this is a VIP only show," said Chase with a grin, his blue eyes twinkling in delight of the fact he after many years had finally gotten the upper hand of things.

"Security…" Charlene tried again, her voice barely an audible whisper as her trembling lips betrayed her ability to speak. Chase found himself unable to contain the laughter that escaped him at the agent's feeble attempt to convince herself that help was on the way, despite being openly informed otherwise.

"You know, I understand that everyone is allowed to be ugly sometimes, but you just abuse that privilege," Chase taunted, accompanied by a scornful chuckle that echoed across the room.

"Mmph! Y-you - c-can't do this t-to me-ee," Charlene huffed, struggling to get a single word out in edgeways.

"Uh uh uh, no talking," Chase hushed the agent, placing his index finger on her lips before commanding her to sleep with the snap of his fingers.

"Oh, Charlene, what possessed you to become so rashly spleen? I suppose it didn't dawn on you that one-day karma would kick your ass. Nope, didn't think so. You know what they say about karma, that it's like a rubber band you can only pull so far before it comes back to slap you in the face, well that 'slap' is me!"

Chase paced the room for a few seconds before allowing his hand to connect sharply to Charlene's cheek, the open-handed slap he gave her as loud as a clap that left behind a vicious red welt on her left cheek, making her look as if she had contracted Scarlet fever.

With his breathing slightly heavier than before Chase then drew his hand back and placed it onto his chin, rubbing it with his thumb to calm himself down. Seconds later he made his way back to Charlene, his facial expression more sinister than before.

"Funny thing is I've always found the word revenge too naive for my liking, which is why I prefer to see this as an act of returning the favor for all the excruciating pain that's been forced upon me. You know, for when I was involuntarily made to surrender my part of the Mini McKinney act in exchange for an increase of your greed, for the many years I had to wordlessly endure the many belittling comments and snide actions out of spite. Not to mention playing a huge part into destroying the once inseparable bond between Merritt and I…"

Suddenly Chase found himself unable to speak as his darkened blue eyes brimmed heavily with unshed tears, desperate to flee the clutches of his determination to hold them in. No way was he going to cry in front of Charlene, hypnotized or not. Perhaps he wasn't as over the whole brotherly betrayal thing as he'd lead himself to believe, however, crawling back to his previously vulnerable state of mind was certainly no option for this McKinney brother!

Surprised that despite the two emotional distractions his hypnotism had held out pretty well, Chase soon regained his portrayal of confidence, along with the dagger-filled glare he fixed right on the agent as he straightened himself out, ready to do what he actually came to do.

"When I snap my fingers your attitude to certain necessities will change abruptly. No longer will you care for the endless amounts of money Mere bear prances over to your lap, everything you have prided yourself on achieving with Merritt will now be lost in a long line of memories, therefore you shall not be in the least bit flustered over any shit that may happen to him in the near future. From this moment on you shall live a meaningless life, with nothing to your name and more importantly nothing to live for."

Adoring the way his voice seemed to deepen that little bit as he talked, Chase was about to wrap it up until one last sentence popped into his head that begged to be said.

Spinning on the heel of his foot with excitement, Chase held up the agents head just before whispering something in a deadly tone of voice. "Turns out Merritt isn't the only McKinney brother who knows this hypnotism thing!"

Satisfied his work here was done the younger McKinney twin quickly made his exit, snapping his fingers as soon as he was out the door so none of this could be traced back to him.


 

The third and final step, for the dog to escape the coercing lead and run free.

He was free, finally free! He was where he wanted to be, out there with just the wind running its icy cold fingers through his hair and the songbirds that seemed to share his fulfillment of victory as they tweeted a jolly song that brightened up the atmosphere.

In the end, it hadn't been too difficult to gather up some supplies needed until he found himself some suitable shelter, along with having been able to snaffle up some more of Merritts belongings just for the fun of it. Oh boy, was payback sweet.

Faintly humming through his slightly chapped lips as he walked down a narrow pathway, Chase suddenly froze when a vibrating sensation came from inside his coat pocket. Fishing out his phone to see who was calling him, his heart rate increased that little bit when he found it was Merrit trying to contact him.

For a moment the thought of whether it was him wanting to apologize for his incredibly out of line behavior came strongly to mind, however, it was soon quickly disposed of once Chase had firmly ended the call. He didn't need shit like that creeping up on him, especially not after the huge amount of effort it took to escape such drama.

On the other hand, this shit had made him think of the possibility of Merritt somehow being able to track him down to reclaim his precious earnings. Well, he would just have to delay that process, by a few years or so.

Maybe, he wasn't quite done with the whole taste of his own medicine thing after all.

Then as if by magic, an opportunity that literally came just around the corner caught his eye like a hawk swooping down to devour its prey. Once this opportunity revealed itself to be a doddery old man walking the opposite way, Chase wasted no time in grabbing him by the top of his coat and placed him into a trance before he could even open his mouth to protest against it.

"Sleep, old man! Now, you're gonna get some money taken off you, but don't worry old timer you'll be happy to know that the name of your criminal is Merritt McKinney. So when I snap my fingers you're going to realize you have been mugged, but then you will get the urge to look down and there will be your evidence." Chase let a hearty smile slip as he tossed Merritts passport a few centimeters away from the man's right foot.

"Thank you!" Chase cheered as he snatched a total of seventy dollars from the man's pocket, before eventually snapping his fingers and running off into the distance where no one could think anything suspicious of it.

And as fun as running from his wild antics was he would have to find some method of transport sooner or later, luckily a rather fancy looking car just a few blocks away attracted yet another one of his menacing schemes to rebel against Merritt bounced into action. Besides, the car did look that tad bit lonely if he did say so himself, so really he was doing the car a much-owed favor.

Hoping the owners of the American craftsman house where the car was precisely parked outside of were present, within a matter of seconds Chase made his grand entrance where indeed he came face to face with a couple in their mid-thirties gobsmacked at his unwanted arrival.

Again like last time, no real amount of effort went into mesmerizing them to comply with the younger McKinney brothers needs. Soon enough the car along with a small trinket Chase had randomly picked out from a shelf were in his hands, ready to join him on his journey to live a completely different lifestyle.

This journey soon found him cruising down the freeway, traveling south in search of the perfect place to reside. Sitting in the driver's seat as he lightly tapped the steering wheel, there were so many thoughts racing through his mind that he could barely hear the 389 horsepower six-liter engine roaring across the road beneath him.

Feeling for the money that remained safely tucked away in his pocket in the inside of his jacket Chase let out a little chuckle, which in his moment of distraction sent the car leaping forwards. Now, this was a car that sneered at any given limits, if only he himself could have been like that much earlier on.

Oh well, no point crying over spilled milk as they say.

Chase was soon redirected to focus on something completely different when his phone flashed, revealing a little symbol of what looked like two rolls of sellotape combined into one indicating someone had left him a voicemail. Taking a few deep breaths to ease the slightly tense feeling of nervousness fluttering inside his stomach, a few buttons were then pressed to reveal Merritt being the voice behind the occurrence.

"Chase bro, pick up! Someone has stolen all my money!"

As soon as Merritts pitifully pain filled pleas reached his ears, a loud snort that instantly transformed into raging fits of laughter traveled across the car's atmosphere until his stomach began to hurt due to his uncontrollable amusement. He'd obviously not figured out the truth behind his disappearance of his entire income yet, but he would in time. And it was only time itself that could tell what would come from that.

However, just then out of nowhere a wave of sadness suddenly struck him like a bolt of lightning, ready to claim the life of its next unsuspecting victim. Screwing up his face ever so slightly without even realizing it at first, Chase fiercely smacked the left part of the steering wheel as if it were a punishment for failing to conceal his deadly mixture of feelings.

Though to be fair to himself, could he really be blamed for his currently hasty state of mind? Change was never an easy concept to accept whatever the circumstances may be, but when it's because of the impact of another person's actions things can become that little bit more tricky.

Afterall, people change for two main reasons, their minds have either opened or their hearts have been broken. For Chase, he'd experienced both.

It wasn't the fact that over the course of many years Merritt had gone from being a loyal role model of a big brother to a selfish lying hound that bothered him. It was the tormenting process of remembering the person he used to be, the person who cared about him.

Life is like a rollercoaster is a saying that's never been a stranger to him, that has often been followed by you can either scream every time you hit a bump, or you can throw your hands up and enjoy the ride.

What if neither of the two options were ones he could take? But there was one final part to the saying that isn't as well known.

The only ones who get hurt on a rollercoaster are those who jump off.

But who says those who jump off the rollercoaster don't survive?

Chapter Text

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

A belief that over the years Chase came to abide by. And what he was about to do would confirm his loyalty towards his newly enlightened perspective.

"Just a few more steps Mere bear, then we get to play!" Chase giggled as he gleefully rubbed his hands together with enthusiasm. He then shot halfway up the steps that would lead him straight to Merritt's front door, before coming to a halt and dramatically slowing down his pace.

"Oopsy," Chase lightheartedly chuckled, straightening himself out as he continued to walk towards Merritts apartment with a stupid grin plastered on his face.

Once having found himself stood more or less face to face with the door that in a matter of seconds would open up and reveal his replica foe. Chase sniffed before taking out his 'pizza box' from behind his fake Pizza company delivery outfit.

At a glance of the cream-colored entrance, a certain evocation of the past ten years or so relapsed upon him, as he found himself dragged back to the very day he found out Merritt had made a comeback.


 

It had been just another average kind of day spent channel hopping on the TV, looking for something decent to watch that wasn't a talk show or a hideously acted out sitcom. After concluding that he wasn't going to have much luck Chase had sat back on his couch and let himself relax, he had almost been asleep when a flash of the news channel flickered from the TV, instantly jolting Chase from his almost accomplished slumber.

There had been only just enough time for him to unintentionally roll off the couch and kneel in front of the TV before the camera switched from the studio to where a female news presenter stood in the middle of a crowd of at least a thousand people, roaring out deafening cheers of joy as they were showered with money that came floating just inches above them.

"Breaking news just coming in! A group of four magicians who go by the name of The Horsemen were less than five minutes ago performing on this very MGM grand stage in Las Vegas, where they robbed a bank using a teleportation helmet that took Frenchman Etienne Forcier inside the bank Credit Republican De Paris, where a huge amount of money was found that somehow ended up on this very stage!"

Chase had been about to call it a night until the presenter continued to talk.

"The names of the four magicians who are responsible for this marvelously unique trick are the following, Daniel Atlas, Henley Reeves, Jack Wilder and Merritt McKinney!"

"Merritt?" Chase shakily questioned in disbelief as the presenter called out each of their names, Merritt's seeming louder than the rest. Then as if the news presenter could sense Chase's discomfort through the television screen, she revealed the very photo that confirmed all his nightmares rolled into one.

"Merritt!" Chase bellowed so loudly he swore he heard a faint muffled shut up from his next door neighbor. Then within seconds, Chase grabbed the nearest drink bottle he could find and hurled it at the TV screen, yelling as he did so without even as much as a little smidge of regret towards the now destroyed television by his eruption of rage.

"No, no, NO!" Chase screamed, breathing heavily out of pure anger as he punched the arm of the couch. Once his wrath of fury came to an end he let out a world heavy sigh, having no choice but to absorb the silence that lingered around the room like a bad smell.

Why? Was the question he kept repeating to himself over and over like a broken record, and no matter how many times he asked himself that very question whether it was aloud or in his head, no answer came. Grunting, Chase stood up and paced around the room, in hope that he could somehow regain part of his sanity.

How could Merritt, after all the shit he had willingly caused him show his face again in such a carefree manner? But before he could process this any further, a sudden surge of odium hit him as the picture of Merritt happily enjoying the heat of the moment the new presenter had displayed came to haunt him like a revenge-seeking ghost.

Ugh, that grin, that very menacing grin made Chase want to gag with such utter disgust. The way he stood joyfully gazing around himself as he embraced the wonders of misdeed without a care in the world, sent a disturbing chill down the younger McKinney brothers spine. Yep, that looked like the same, but just older twat of a brother to him. He would have thought that by now Merritt would at least show some decorum when throwing himself onto the public domain. Was he really that much of a stranger to repentance?

Oh, who was he kidding, Merritt had never been sorry for anything, those ten long lost years should have taught him that. He had then wasted a further twenty or so years waiting for the apology he was never to receive, so once the feebly thought out idea had officially been cast away as a pipe dream, he chose to become completely reliant on his own company.

And if he was truly honest with himself, he liked it that way.


 

Until now of course.

Pushing his cap down as he bowed his head, Chase got himself into position just before reaching out to knock on the door and ring the doorbell to make sure he was heard.

"Is this apartment D3375?" Chase asked in the dumbest voice he could master as soon as Merritt opened the door.

"Not even close," Merritt deadpanned, his tone of voice as dull as ever.

Then within the blink of an eye Chase span the pizza box at such a rapid speed, he could barely contain the urge to look up and watch his twin brother in the process of being drawn into the letters and numbers forming the word sleep.

"Sleep!" Chase commanded, mentally signing with joy to himself when his unsuspecting brother's limp body fell onto his shoulder.

"Relaxing, floating, drifting, dreaming… Falling." Chase said into Merritts' ear as he held the nape of his neck before letting him go, smiling at the thudding noise his body made as he dropped to the floor.

Stepping over Merritt as if he was a muddy puddle in the middle of the road, Chase grabbed him off from the floor and roughly pulled him up into a standing position so he could make full eye contact with him.

"Hello, wombmate! I've been looking forward to this cushty reunion for a while, and what better way to commemorate all those long lost years than for you to do me a little favor, in return for the things I did for you all many moons ago."

"So what we, or- sorry, slip of the tongue, you will do is go towards this handy computer device over here and download all the information about the Horsemen's next big show, where they plan to have their escape route based and any other technical tidbits of info you have." Chase continued as he leads Merritt to the computer where he instantly complied with his orders without hesitation.

Once Merritt had successfully completed his task, the younger McKinney twin took a moment to shoot him a triumphant smirk of accomplishment before claiming what was rightfully his.

"Thanks, broski, it's been a pleasant reunion has it not?" Chase asked in a sing-song voice as skipped his way over to the front door, with the smirk still plastered on his face. He then went over to make Merritt sleep for the second time, pushing him to the floor as he chuckled at the soft snores escaping from his mouth.

"When you wake up a couple of hours from now, you won't remember any of our little catch-up session. Instead, you will believe that you directed the pizza boy to the correct apartment and then have no idea on how you came to end up asleep on the floor."

With that Chase was gone within the speed of light, sniggering as he flipped the memory stick his brother had downloaded all he needed within the palm of his hand, ready for the mission to take place.

Success!

His employers will be pleased.

Especially since he owed them his loyal services in return for all the countless necessities they had willingly provided him with. A spark of joy flew across his entire body as the vision of his employer's smiles of satisfaction filled his mind with the jubilant feeling of being wanted because they actually needed him, not just for convenience.

Once Chase had climbed into the private taxi waiting for him outside the block of apartments, he laid his head back on the head of the seat and closed his eyes as the taxi driver began to drive him to his destination, which soon sent the younger McKinney twin into another blast into his past.

Though this time, no negative vibes hung off it like a chain clamped around someone's ankle.


 

"Chase McKinney?" A voice from outside the hotel room he was staying in at the time asked after a firm knock, immediately creating a buzz of wariness within his stomach as the only other visitors he could recall were the hotel staff who had only addressed him as Mr. McKinney.

"Who wants to know?" Chase skeptically responded, slowly turning around from where he was stood, absorbing the views from the small window the hotel room provided.

"All will be explained once you let us in," the British accented voice replied in a calm but with a hint of urgency in his tone. Despite his suspicions along with his instincts telling him otherwise, after that statement Chase made his way to the door to let in whoever was so keen to see him.

The man behind the voice carefully stepped through the open door, accompanied by another older looking gentlemen following closely behind him. Chase kept his gaze firmly on the two gentlemen as one sat on the bed, while the other pulled up a chair placed under the desk opposite the bed.

"So Chase," the smaller man began as if they been familiar with each other for many years. "I am Walter Mabry, and I should think you would like to know the purpose of our visit?"

"Well yes," Chase muttered sarcastically to himself, he then directed a short nod towards Walter, who seemed happy enough to carry on from where he'd left off.

"Good. So before I go into any major details on anything, I just wanted to ask you if you are aware of the so-called 'champions of the truth' group of misfit magicians known as the Horsemen?"

Chase's heart sunk as he began to think the worst. What if this Walter guy was secretly a devoted fan to the Horsemen and had wanted to track down anyone who done wrong by any of the members, on a mission to publicly shame him in front of the entire world.

Or perhaps he was an undercover serial killer sent to dispose of the 'monster' he'd no doubt Merritt had labeled him as.

"Just as I thought," he continued after taking Chase's silence as an unfortunate yes.

"Well you'll be pleased to hear that I too share a passionate hatred for them, but for what may you ask? How about I let a worldwide familiar face that just so happens to be my father do the explaining for me!"

Diverting his gaze onto the older gentlemen, Chase could only watch with suspense as the man whose entire identity was covered by various layers of clothing slowly began to reveal himself. The moment his vision came into contact with the man's face, Chase felt his knees begin to buckle as the man's facial features immediately become recognizable.

"Arthur Tressler?!" Chase squeaked, gasping with maximum disbelief as his eyes widened to the size of saucers at the sight of the well-known benefactor. "I- I saw you on the TV, they publically humiliated you, and not to mention practically drained your entire bank account out of millions of dollars!"

Arthur frowned. "I see you I am a well know face to you Mr. McKinney."

"I am so glad that we seem to be seeing eye to eye," Walter continued. "So I have high hopes of you understanding the raw intensity of the horrid psychic pain I felt when they took pleasure in draining not just my father's fortune, but his dignity!"

Just like all those years ago when Merritt heedlessly kicked you to the curb, just so he could take all the glory for himself, leaving you with nothing to your name for the marvelous talent you both shared.

Oh shit, he really did understand where he came from.

"The point is Mr. McKinney, is that we all have suffered some sort of loss at their hands," Arthur filled in, his facial expression emotionless as he slowly paced from one side of the room to the other, deep in thought.

Chase sighed defeatedly. They had well and truly got him.

"Which is why we require your help."

Chase did a double take. "Y-you need my help?" He questioned, fully aware he was stuttering but due to the shock, unable to prevent it.

"That is correct," Walter confirmed.

"Now, we do have a plan, a very cunning plan in fact," Arthur added. "However, we do have one slight issue, which is where we require your assistance."

Chase nodded, earning a smile from Walter who took over from explaining their requirement of him.

"You see, we pretty much have each member of the horsemen sussed out. Thier weaknesses, their desires, their fears. But, despite our knowledge of Daniel Atlas's ego button, Dylan's weak state of mind, Jacks inexperience and youthful age, along with their newest member Lula who is practically untested when it comes to 'magic. Merritt, on the other hand, proves to be a slightly tougher nut to crack."

"We want you, Mr. McKinney, to help us crack the very core of Merritts mind."

"Provide us with your extraordinary mentalism skills that are needed in order for some aspects of our plan to work," Arthur added.

"Erm, I don't know," Chase nervously admitted, fumbling with his sleeves as he spoke.

Instantly picking up on Chases doubts, Walter took his opportunity to go in for the kill.

"Burrow deep into the darkest corner of your mind, and fish out your most torturous memories. Now picture yourself at those worst moments of your life, focus on how you felt hurt, betrayed, overwhelmed with anger and sorrow at Merritts heinous deed, those bitter concoction of hostile emotions trapped within the inner recesses of your heart, in which you brood on to this very day."

Chase's heartbeat began to increase as Walters facial expression suddenly darkened, while Arthur just watched in total silence.

"But what if the shoe was on the other foot? Then it would be Merritt who would endure the bitter wrath of suffering you were subjected too. Join us, and you'll be granted that opportunity to release those years of affliction and resentment in the sweet form of revenge, with plenty more besides. Merritt would be nothing more but a mere puppet in your hands, helpless within your total control, unable to escape the torture of being tossed and turned in all directions as he did to you, before finally disposing of him once and for all."

Just moments after Walter stopped talking, a wide grin spread itself across Chase's face. However, it was no friendly cheeky grin, this one had a sinister tone to it. His blue eyes shining maliciously as he hears Walter's soft voice carefully narrating his former words repeatedly within his mind, excitement rushing through his veins each time he emphasized on Merritt and revenge.

It was like music to his ears, a song he'd never heard of before that was impossible to stop listening too once played. The harmony of this particular song being the sounds of Merritt begging for mercy beneath his feet, the guilt radiating from his pleading eyes as Chase does what he should have done many years ago.

If this was what Walter's plan would consist of, then so be it!

"So Chase?" Walter said in a cheerful manner, interrupting him from his blissful train of thoughts. Not that he minded.

"Are you with us on our plan?"

Without as much as even having to look up between Walter and Arthur Tressler, Chase let slip a menacing smirk which in all three of the men's perspective did the talking for him.

"I'm in!"

"You have made a wise choice Mr. McKinney," Arthur stated as he slowly reached out to shake him by the hand.

"Thank you!" Walter exclaimed with a more jolly handshake, grinning like a Cheshire cat at the success of gaining a new team member.

"I promise you won't regret this!"

Chase didn't need a promise to know regret wouldn't even touch the sides of this well thought up plan.

He was going to enjoy this!

Perhaps revenge wasn't as naive as he believed it to be?


 

Now the moment that was to officially declare their flawless plan active had finally come.

It was a vital task that could easily go wrong if they got sloppy, so when Walter devoted that task specifically to Chase he couldn't have been more honored.

Unlike his brother, Walter was an easy going, friendly chap who actually treated him as a human being, not just some convenient tool, in fact, it was safe to say that he considered Walter to be his long-lost best friend.

He was always up for a chat, frequently involved him in team discussions, guaranteed to always have his back when things became tough. He even went as far as to encouraging Chase to speak of what had happened between himself and Merritt all those years back, yet he never pushed beyond what Chase was comfortable saying out loud, nor did he question any aspect of him as a person.

Words couldn't express the amount of gratitude he owed this remarkable man for selflessly going out of his way to helping him up from the curb he'd been kicked to, and held firmly down to stay there by the negative impacts of shitty emotions that came with it.

Although Arthur was more limited as to how he displayed his fondness for a person, Chase was pretty sure he was in his good books.

After having been given specific instructions from Walter along with an encouraging pat on the shoulder, Chase gleefully rubbed his hands together as he waited for his prey to turn up.

It wasn't too long before a commotion of people began shouting which lead to a group of four being shoved out from the kitchen doors, to realize the long-awaited Horsemen were here. He must admit their mini conversation about Chinese food just being referred as food was quite entertaining.

But now, it was show time!

"I believe in your particular parlance the word is, magic!"

Chase had to prevent a full-blown laugh from escaping as he turned around to reveal himself, his gaze, in particular, fixed on Merritt, who stood on the spot gawking with extreme shock at the very person he'd been certain he'd left behind back in his so-called glory days.

Oh doesn't karma work in mysterious ways?

"That guy looks exactly like you, are you seeing this right now?" Was the whispered observation from the ever so clever Lula May.

Though he didn't show it, that comment pissed him off big time.

Okay, he could sense she had a highly irritating aura about her, but how could anyone in their right mind think that he and Merritt were anything alike!

For starters, he had a magnificent head of hair made up of trendy curly hairpieces, while Merritt's seemed to have malfunctioned leaving him with his hair in his nose than on his head. Secondly, he possessed a fine set of pearly white teeth, all perfectly in line with no gaps, whereas Merritts were discolored, horribly wonky and generally quite revolting.

But that was just Merritt as a person, which was why when he began to tell his groupies how it had been Chase who'd apparently screwed him over instead of the actual truth, he couldn't have said he was overly surprised.

Well, at least Merritt was polite enough to introduce him to the rest of the group.

Though he'd regret it once Chase was able to tell the whole world a condescending arse Merritt truly is, and who better to start off with than his misfit magician friends.

Once he'd openly told them how they had brought themselves here, which left them with facial expressions desperate to work out what had gone wrong, Chase then lead them to the car off to meet with his boss.

"It's all about blind spots. You could be staring straight at something and not see it, why? Blind spots." Chase began, instantly picking up on the tension that lingered within the atmosphere of the car.

"Did he tell you we were partners once? Didn'tidnt think so, the mini McKinney's," Chase continued once he'd caught their full attention, not that they had much of a choice, but hey, that was what made the journey more fun!

That and singing.

"Chasey and a Mere bear, gonna make you scare bear. Ma, ma, magic McKinney's!" Chase as he promised himself sang to the group, making sure to do some cringey hand gestures for the sake of old times.

Moving on to story time Chase spent the next two or so minutes retelling one of his most vivid memories, consisting of the time he and Merritt at the age of twelve were just mere beginners to the experiences of fame. This of course ending with Chase being eliminated from the scene soon after the introduction.

Despite the hint of sadness that overtook him for a moment, the younger McKinney twin smirked with joy at how throughout the entire time of his storytelling, Merritt had kept his face hidden by his hands.

Finding the truth a little threatening are we Mere bear?

Then came the questions on the Horsemen's part, which he didn't hesitate to answer, especially when his response to their final question landed Merritt with death glares.

Each and every one of their anger oriented looks of dismay directed straight at his Buffon of a brother sending blissful vibes dancing around his very soul.

"Just follow the guards and they will take you to my boss," Chase informed the group once the car pulled up onto the circular driveway, where the guards stood ready to forcibly lead the Horsemen to their doomed destination.

Flashing a smile towards Merritt as he and the others were in the process of being dragged away, Chase winded down his window before happily exclaiming, "it was fun playing cat and mouse with you broski!" Giggling like a girl when catching sight of Merritts feeble attempt at retortion.

"Have fun at the sands!" Were Chase's last words as the car driver drove away from where they had dumped the Horsemen, shaking his head with amusement as he faintly hummed the Mini McKinney tune to himself.

If Merritt thought this was bad enough, just wait until he saw the photos!


 

"You know the most heartbreaking moment of my life was when I discovered you had stolen all my money and split."

That was the first thing that came out of Merritts' mouth once a few vodka shots had been done the following day.

What was he supposed to do, weep with intense regret at his lack of sympathy?

Perhaps he should have for his brother's severe lack of taste. The bar he'd insisted on going to was pretty shabby, and as for the vodka, that was just as lame as Merritt's insults.

Old man pubes? Was that seriously the best so-called insult his dunderhead of a brother could deliver? And for what? Just so he and his buddies could screw over his employer? Well, it wasn't going to work, he was too smart for that shit.

"You are such a buffoon Mere bear," Chase began, watching closely as to how Merritts facial expression immediately changed. "And this little ploy you have of stalling me while your friends screw over my employer not gonna work."

Standing up to leave, Chase suddenly found himself subjected to a pretty predictable 'surprise' appearance from Jack, whose strive at mentalism was more pathetic than his brothers see through as glass distraction.

Pretending to play along to Jacks addition to this already badly thought up attempt of a plan, Chase then flopped his head down to make it look as if Jack had successfully hypnotized him, listening carefully to Jacks command that he was to apologize to Merritt once it was clear his own surprise had worked.

Instantly after hearing the snap of Jacks fingers, the younger McKinney brother turned to face Merritt who he could have sworn was already fully aware that he wasn't going to get an apology.

"Merritt, I am so very, very sorry... About how pathetic your pupil is!"

Bursting into enjoyable fits of laughter as he grabbed Jack by the shoulders and spun him around next to Merritt, out of pure pity Chase then gave a brief explanation of how a surprise should be a surprise, just before leaving the pair of imbeciles to sink in their own defeat.

Shame he didn't mention anything about those photos.


 

"How do I look Chase?" Walter exclaimed, letting out a joyous laugh as he placed a blue hat on top of his head.

"Well, I must say, blue is definitely your color," Chase replied, grinning from ear to ear at the pure genius of Walter's ability to use science against his asshole of a brothers group.

"Now all we have to do is wait for them to confirm that they have the stick, then we shall pounce on them like a tiger and its prey, ending with us claiming the stick for ourselves!" Walter continued, his each and every word sending a rush of adrenaline dashing through the younger McKinney brothers veins.

Clapping like a madman as he watched Walter fling himself onto the leather sofa beside him, both men sharing a fit of laughter when imagining the peril the Horsemen were unknowingly leading themselves into.

In Chase's eyes, nothing could go wrong now. Merritt, as Walter promised, was just a puppet under his total and utter control, with absolutely no way of avoiding his grimly deserved fate just hours ahead of him.

No matter how hard the Horsemen would try to stay one step ahead, he and Walter would always be at least five steps further. Afterall, the mouse could only run so far before the swipe of the cat's claws put it through the wringer.

Chapter Text

Until they weren't.

"How could this happen, how the hell has this happened!" Walter had been frantically yelling for five or so minutes, glaring into his tablet while pacing up and down the room.

Chase who had just come out from the bathroom wore a look of confusion, approaching the seething Walter just meters away from him.

Before he could even open his mouth to ask what was going on, the scraggly bearded British man hastily showed Chase a youtube video of the four Horsemen standing together, titled The Horsemen return.

Picking up on Walters obvious distress, Chase put his arm around him. "Look, Walter," he began, "I bet you anything that-"

"We don't have time for discussion Chase, we need to find my father, now!" Walter shouted, harshly shoving his hand away that sent instant twinges of regret down the curly haired man's spine.

To say he hadn't understood the cause of this sudden level of aggression would have been an understatement. I mean they had successfully tricked the Horsemen into thinking they were going to steal the stick and hand it over to the 'eye', shortly after following that success they had then personally handed over their arses to them, with the added bonus of capturing Dylan to relive certain childhood memories.

Which may he add was mostly down to his substantial skills in mentalism.

Then to top it all off, they had all the resources, technology on hand, including the stick itself needed for their long-standing mission to bring the Horsemen down, once and for all.

Now as far as Chase was concerned he, Walter and Arthur had the upper hand of the situation, so what danger could the Horsemen possibly convey in the form of a video towards them?


 

Seeing is believing, but is it the truth?

"You know they are just playing you right?" Chase asked, diverting his eye contact between Walter and Arthur Tressler once they had gotten on the plane and having seen the video for himself.

"Leading you into the trap?" He continued in an attempt to drop the positive vibe bumming topic.

"Yeah, but the threat is real," Walter interjected. "This card can hack into any system on the planet, including ours. They have it, why wouldn't they use it to expose us? Me, everything we've done?"

Chase did a double take.

Had he heard that right?

Surely not.

So, all this time he'd been confident in thinking that they were five steps ahead of the situation, when in fact they had allowed themselves to fall victim into one of the most crucial mistakes of all time. Letting their guard down.

Suddenly this threat became a whole lot more real. Maybe he had underestimated his brother's group of misfit magicians.

Nevertheless, this didn't mean they were going to come out as winners, not if he had anything to do with it! Besides, they had way more backup and reinforcements than the Horsemen could 'magic up' in a fortnight, all they had to do was play their cards right.

"Is it real, Mr. McKinney?" Came a canvassedly spoken inquiry from Arthur Tressler that shook him from his train of thought, his questioning tone along with his eyes piercing into Chases creating bubbly sensations within the latter.

Then it hit him.

He couldn't quite believe it. They were waiting on him, for his all-important answer that would conclude what their next step would be, and how they would go about it.

Both Arthur and Walter were now putting all their faith in him to lead them to glory, relying on the very words that were to come out from his mouth.

A huge responsibility that he was more than happy to take on.

Motioning for Walter to bring the laptop still displaying the Horsemen's latest video over to him, Chase then placed the laptop on his lap, pressing the enter button that zoomed in on Merritts' face. The way his carefree smirk proudly presented itself across the screen tweaked at every nerve in his system.

"Threat is real," Chase announced, looking up at Walter whose eyes were doing the talking for him, radiating the very question that was screaming to be released into the out and open.

"So, how do we stay ahead of them?"

Chase took a moment to think. This was the very moment he'd spent years rigorously fantasizing over, often spending every second of each daydreaming, planning, hoping that one day his long-desired wish would present itself before him. Now it was staring at him right in the face, so enough with the planning and dreaming, it was time for action.

"We need to get to London by midnight."


 

Depends on your point of view.

"Trust me, gentlemen, I know how these guys work now," Chase had declared as part of his newly devoted responsibility, out of reassurance more than anything else, though it was pretty obvious when putting the need to rush aside.

"They're gonna start with a tease," he began, looking at himself in the mirror as if that was whom he was addressing.

"A few little pop-ups, something to lure you in, like.. Well you know, like three card Monte where the guys goes looky here, no no looky here. Except when all these little tricks are done, the only thing your gonna be looking at is the inside of your own colon, with the words Horsemen written all over it, in blood."

"We get the picture, Mr. McKinney," Arthur Tressler bluntly stated, his response pinching underneath the core of his chest. The way he quickly dismissed his opinion of the matter sent that twinging feeling that was becoming a little too familiar for his liking down his spine.

"And get out of my chair."

Without hesitation, Chase did so.

Despite Arthur's rather offhand attitude towards Chase's theories, whatever pathetically thought out plan the Horsemen had devised Chase was confident that he'd got them all figured out.

Now all that was left to do was ensure they caught on to them first.


 

The eye, it may not lie. But don't think for a moment that it can't be lied to.

After checking up on the viewpoints and uh, surprises presented by their secret cameras, Chase found himself wondering the streets in search of his troublesome twat of a twin brother.

It was funny how this particular evening that happened to be providing one of the worst bouts of torrential rain on record, was to be the happiest day of his life. The rain that currently poured down over the city with a ferocious roar couldn't have been any more different to what was happening within his mind, filled with unstoppable rays of sunshine beaming down on the certain triumph of defeating the Horsemen, bringing true warmth to his very soul. And he owed it all to one little slip-up.

Dylan had survived.

Now if he was totally and utterly honest, the whole safe thing was shabby in itself, though he hadn't dared question it in front of Walter or Tressler. But really, give him long enough and he would have drawn up a long list of many ways Dylan could have escaped that safe.

On the other hand, because of all this, Chase now had the chance to catch Merritt unprotected, throw him off guard with his profound ability to pick at his mind like one pulls a rabbit out of a hat, and completely jeopardize the perfectly thought up plan he and his horsemen chums had come up with.

Chase chuckled at the very thought of it.

After scouting around the street for a minute or so, Chase spotted a Merritt like figure wearing a worn out raincoat and a tattered hat to match, his twinly instincts being all he needed as confirmation to make his move.

"Hey broski, what do ya knowski!" Chase said in a sing-song like voice, instantly capturing his brother's attention.

"Please bro, don't do this," was Merritts sorrowful attempt of a response, his quiet plea for Chase to stop went ignored.

"Where are you headed? North, south, east? East!" Chase exclaimed, already having figured out half of the whereabouts the Horsemen were going to have their big finale.

"Tower of London? Tower Bridge? Near Tower Bridge? The Thames! You're going to the Thamesy - Whemsey! You're so easy!"

Like taking candy from a baby.

But then something unforeseen happened.

"Bro, if there's any chance of us ever having a relationship."

He had to stop him there.

Was he kidding right now? Of course, there wasn't a chance of having a relationship, that's if you call it a relationship. Talk about lame, and just when he thought Merritt couldn't be any more pathetic.

If even the faintest hint of moisture built up within his eyes at how sad his brother truly was, he would have cried tears of pure pity.

"There's not," Chase bluntly told him, placing both hands on Merritts' shoulders, then grinning widely when they were shoved off as soon as he laid his hands on him.

"Where's your entry? South bank? Greenwich? Greenwich!" One blink and that was all it took to confirm everything he'd managed to pull out from beneath Merritts hat.

"I know where you're going!" Chase taunted, his adrenaline levels rising when seeing Merritts facial features grow increasingly intense in a mixture of irritation, and self-shame of having let his precious team down yet again.

Chase continued to provoke Merritt's anger button until he finally cracked and was pushed into some hobo, his devilish grin still intact as he watched his brother storm off into the distance.

He was going to enjoy this...


 

Come in closer, because the more you think you see...

Despite feeling a little drowsy, it hadn't taken long for Chase to dash back to Walter and Tressler with the required information on hand.

"Hey I know where they're going, they're gonna be at Greenwich near the Thames!" Chase yelled as he ran over to Walter and Tressler, who only stared blankly at him before ordering everyone to get going.

During their journey to locate the Horsemen for important business, Chase couldn't help but ponder on the fact that since they learned of the Horsemen's comeback, he hadn't been receiving quite as much appreciation for his work.

Perhaps they were just saving all the thank you's and good jobs for the celebration ceremony that was to commence once the Horsemen were defeated. Though it didn't entirely dispose of those nitpicking notions.

However, he was soon snapped out of his thoughts when the van screeched to a halt, seconds afterward poking his head round to get a glimpse of the action. His eyes trailing the scene as he watched several of the henchmen shooting at the Horsemen who were riding motorcycles in an attempt to escape the fight.

Chase had to stifle a large guffaw from in front of Tressler when seeing his brother practically wobbling on the motorcycle he was on, swerving in and out to avoid hitting anything until he idiotically flipped over a broken car door and landed near one of the henchmen's feet with a painful thud.

It was at that moment where the henchmen were successfully able to grab them one by one and drag them into the van, Merritt in particular riddled with chagrin.

Then within a matter of minutes, the van started up again, leaving Chase with five gloom filled faces to analyze.

"Okay, feeling fear," pointing a finger at Merritt who shot him a glare in response, "fear, anger, anger, oh full house-"

"That's enough!" Arthur interjected sharply, his abrupt interruption causing him to flinch at his scolding tone directed towards him.

"I was done."

"So nice to see you all again. But since we're such old friends, let's skip the formalities," Arthur began in a serious, don't you try to pull anything over on me tone.

"Now, one of you has something we require. So give it over."

A gleeful grin then crossed its way onto the younger McKinney brothers lips, in a mixture of how impressively threatening yet subtly spoken Arthurs request was, and how the quintet of misfit magicians had the guts to answer Tressler's demand with total silence.

"Nothing at all, really?" Walter intervened soon afterward, taking the time to look at each and every member of the Horsemen, fear radiating from their very bodies as they shook with sheer terror.

"Let's go, let's go!" Walter ordered once the van reached their destination, Chase being the first one to leave the van with a giant leap of rejoicing triumphantly at having been successful enough to get to this long-awaited, thrilling moment.

Hurry up and move them, quickly, before they can do anything!" Walter commanded as Chase stood watching the Horsemen getting helplessly dragged towards the plane, their protests along the way triggering his warped sense of joy proudly gleaming through his facial features.

"Get on the plane!" Was then yelled out a couple of times before Chase could physically join in on the action, taking upon himself to shoving each member of the Horsemen inside, making sure to save the hardest hit for Merritt who was last to aboard the plane.

"Yeah uh, take off immediately," announced Walter once their prisoners were seated, the urge to inflict more pain onto his brother proving irresistible as his hand forcefully came into contact with Merritt's chest, making him go oomph in pain.

Giggling to himself like a little girl, Chase skipped past Walter knowing more fun-filled times was to come.

"You know, you make it too easy," Walter began after Chase had sat himself down on the seats just centimeters away, glancing through a magazine with Arthur Tressler being the main feature.

I mean, even your hilarious attempts to make yourselves unpredictable, just follow the same pattern each time. Set up, set up, set up. Oh, big reveal!" The British accented man continued, the way his words seemed to flow flawlessly from his mouth and into the out and open undeniably being one of the reasons he'd signed up for this.

"Which tonight was going to be at the stroke of midnight, middle of the Thames? Tell me if I'm warm?" His question was met with total silence of having been found out and outsmarted yet again.

"The stick dear boy," Arthur stated, his order not spoken in the form of a question. Chase watched in silence as his eyes trailed Arthur's whose were boring into Dylan's, the one he was demanding the stick from.

"No." The curly haired McKinney twins eyes widened at Dylan's ruthless refusal.

"Fine," Walter said, "start with her," pointing a finger towards Lula whose eyes widened in shock.

Then it all descended into chaos amongst the bewildered bunch, and he loved it! Just a simple wrong move and everyone would suffer the consequences, he hoped for the sake of the plane that not too much blood was to be shed.

As if things couldn't get more exciting, Chase was proved wrong when the control freak Atlas pulled out the stick from his pocket and reluctantly handed it over.

"We'll have a closer look," Walter stated as he took the stick from Atlas, only for this to cause further arguments between the hindered Horsemen.

Amongst the squabbling, Chase focused on Merritt who was attempting to be the voice of reason although, he soon became involved in the heated argument when Lula decided to question him.

He really hadn't changed.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," Walter said, instantly breaking up the argument. "But I just have to say congratulations and thank you. It's real."

After a few astonished remarks from the stick retrievers, Walter motioned for the henchmen to bring them through, Chase clapping with enthusiasm to add a passionate jist to the heat of the moment.

"Well done my boy," Arthur praised as he walked over to join Walter who smiled in return, the very gesture sending a warm fuzzy feeling to Chase's heart.

This feeling was soon replaced with intense delight when he caught sight of the Horsemen being gathered around Walter and Tressler.

"Cote Du Marisule champagne, it's the most expensive bottle on earth," Arthur proudly announced while holding the bottle within the palms of his hands, "$1.2 million dollars, and I saved it just for this occasion."

Chase licked his lips, already able to taste its luxurious flavor streaming down his throat.

"Honestly, same bottle, liquor shack, 700K."

He had to ruin the moment.

Ignoring Merritts foolish attempt to jump in on the discussion, the topic of conversation abruptly changed when the question of allowing the Horsemen to escape arose.

"Knowing what you know about us? No." Walter answered for them, seconds later doing the unthinkably unexpected thing yet. The five words that were to be spoken ringing in Chase's ears.

"Chase, what shall we do?"

Then all heads turned to him. This was it, the finishing act and he was the one to decide the fate of it. Turning to address the group awaiting his answer, Chase let out a heart grin as the perfect idea displayed itself right in front of his very nose.

"Toss them out."

"Get your last words in quickly everybody!" Walter chimed, a gloriously fiendish smile entering his lips as the doors slid open to assist with the farewells.

Making his way further towards the open exit that was to see to the Horseman's demise, Chase gleefully rubbed his hands together with major excitement as the five misfit magicians came struggling towards the exit, his eyes beaming with joy when the first to christen the farewell ceremony was to be Merritt.

"Wait! I just wanna say… I came into the world with the wrong family, but I'm leaving with the right one. I love you guys!"

Chase had to lift a hand to his mouth to prevent himself from gagging at how horrendously juvenile Merritts choice of last words were.

"This is how I kicked you out of the womb!" Were his own last words to his brother before remorselessly kicking him out of the plane, adrenaline levels at their very maximum as he blissfully listened to Merritts screams of terror fading, until they could no longer be heard.

The rest of the Horsemen soon followed suit, kicking and screaming their final minutes on earth away before coming face to face with their well-deserved demise.

"That was fun!" Chase exclaimed while playfully rubbing his hands, mentally congratulating himself on a job well done.

"Cheers," Arthur congratulated, pouring Walter a glass of the champagne. "Well done my boy."

However, the beverage clearly was anything but luxurious when both Walter and Arthur spat what they had sipped back into the glass in utter disgust, bad vibes suddenly formulating within the back of Chase's mind.

"Is it supposed to taste like that?" Walter questioned which Arthur replied to with a simple, "no it is not."

Picking up the bottle to examine it, Arthur Tressler began to peel away the front label to find a card with the words fool written on the top. Before Chase could process what was happening, all of a sudden the Champagnes color quickly transformed into a dark moldy shade of green just as the lights went out, leaving the plane pitch black.

"What the hell is going on?" Walter asked. But before anyone could make up a rational explanation behind it all, the engines of the plane ceased along with the rain previously covering the widows dribbling downwards, revealing a platform full of people erupting in applauding cheers.

A knocking sound pulled their attention away from the crowd roaring outside when the very people they believed to have successfully gotten rid of were looking right back at them.

For Chase, in particular, it was the fact that not only had Merritt survived, but the dreadful suspicion that he was never to be rid of him in the first place sent nauseating chills down his spine.

"Come on out, come on," all five of the Horsemen offered, motioning for Walter, Tressler, and Chase to abide by their request. Chase had been about to prevent that from happening when Walter had already made his way right into what was to be their very own big reveal.


 

The easier it will be to fool you.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Horsemen!" A voice announced just as Walter, Tressler, and Chase made their way to see what was going on before them.

"No, you should feel pretty good about yourself, man." Danny continued as the three men absorbed the sights of thousands of people watching their every move. " You predicted it correctly, the Thames, stroke of midnight. New year's eve, happy new year!

Walter gingerly nodded, still stunned as to what was happening.

"Thank you very much, London!" Dylan shouted in appreciation. " We would like to acknowledge not just our old friend, Arthur Tressler, but his young and very brilliant son, Walter Mabry. Who has performed one of the greatest feats of illusion even we have ever seen. He has, amazingly, brought himself back from the dead!"

The crowd erupted with a series of boos.

"But before he did that, he revealed someone. And we think it only right to give him a proper introduction, he is our friend and he is our leader. Dylan Shrike!"

In the middle of all this Chase kept himself focused on what was happening rather than the impact it would have later on, his bewildered gaze fixed on Merritt the entire time whose triumphant grin grated at every nerve in his body.

So, normally only the magician, his assistant, and a few trusted stagehands know the secret of a trick. But tonight, however, in this effect, all of you people around the Thames here. And since we're streaming live, everyone around the world already knows everything."

"And it's these fellows here who are left in the dark," Dylan said, pointing towards the trio. Although, Chase could sense an explanation was to follow.

"Remember when we were playing 'Find the lady,' and I said that we used a Barry trap, some classic switches, and a few duplicates?" Jack asked, taking over where Dylan had left off.

"Well that's how we switched the driver of the truck, that took us to a duplicate hanger where we used your need to rush and fear of being seen to do the work for us."

Now it was beginning to make sense.

"So, the airplane, how did we get it to fly?" Lula perked up, making air quotation marks at the word fly.

"Well we used fans, lights and rain machines," Daniel added, directing a smirk towards Jack who happily stepped up to play his next part.

"Obviously, all of this was reliant on us getting caught. But we needed to make sure that you would do exactly what we needed you to do once you did catch us."

An abrupt twisting sensation invaded the curly haired McKinney brothers stomach

"My brother Chase, who was technical advisor to the losing team taught us that it's all about blind spots."

Chase cocked his head to one side in desperation to figure out what was meant by his statement.

"And uh surprises."

Then it hit him.

"Watch it hobo."

"Why don't you watch the watch I'm wearing, the where of where you are watching and sleep!"

"It's going to be your idea to throw the Horsemen out of the plane."

That little toerag Jack had hypnotized him, with the aid of Merritt! His own unique gift of magic used against him to their advantage, and so shamefully at that.

"If all of this is kind of confusing to you, I could maybe catch you up on it later. Probably see you, what three to five?" Merritt smugly suggested, making Chase jump at his sudden confrontation.

"Come on, put it there," Merritt added, the carefree laugh accompanying his comment causing Chase to hesitate before carefully putting his hand up to high five Merritts.

"Hey, tit for tat bro!" Merritt exclaimed just before punching Chase in the gut.

But as he was recovering from the unexpected blow, both Walter and Arthur Tressler looked up at him. Anger boiling within their narrowed rigid eyes, their cold hard glares contemplating the most brutally agonizing punishment they could afflict on him. His entire face the most likely preferable target.

It was at that moment when it all came pouring down on him.

He'd been used for their own benefit, just as Merritt had done all those years ago.

They were never his friends. Real friends don't point fingers at each other.

The rest of the Horsemen's speech of how they had tricked and exposed the trio went in a blur, soon ending in the heroically thought of magicians making their escape, whereas he, Walter and Tressler weren't to be granted the same privilege.

For a split, second Chase couldn't comprehend what was happening as the world began to spin around him, his mind a mess of tangled thoughts, with only one marking its presence by repeating itself over and over like a broken record.

Revenge is a dish best served cold...


 

Unless you're the one being served.

It had only been a few days since the arrest, but he could still feel that firm grip on his arm as a police officer and an FBI agent dragged him from where he stood, shoved him into a police van and tossed him into a prison cell as if he was the enemy in all this.

When in reality, he was nothing but a Patsy.

All his life he'd been taken advantage of in one agonizing way or another. Yet he was the one portrayed to be the bad guy.

His father, the official inauguration of what lead him to where he is now, used him and Merritt as doormats to cover up his deceitful behavior behind their mom's back.

Next, their mother took a leaf out of his book, by choosing to frequently vent out her frustration of getting hurt on them for her own personal comfort.

Then there was Merritt who was a different story altogether.

"I want to make a pact, that we are to always have each other no matter what happens, and as long as we have one another, whatever life hurls at us good or bad, we can guarantee we will get through it just the two of us."

That single memory from their youth which to this day continued to haunt him, the spirit where those words lay attacked him like in a horror movie, except they had left scars that no one but him could see.

Now last but not least, Walter, Arthur Tressler, and Merritt rolled together all in one.

All that time he'd spend by Walters side, convinced he was a wanted valuable member of Tressler's team, doing everything he could to please them, to avoid being thrown out for not being good enough, yet now he realized nothing he'd said or done would have prevented history repeating itself.

He was as Walter had said a couple of times, a button that when pushed makes a person go blind, Chase's being acceptance.

What was worse that Merritt could sense this.

The moment where the words, 'bro, if there's any chance of ever having a relationship' were said dug deeper than he imagined. If he was truly honest with himself a part of him couldn't deny wanting those words to be true, for them to actually mean something.

However, it was just another way for Merritt to stamp on him.

And now he was currently running freely with his chums, laughing and ridiculing his actions and reasons behind them at his expense.

While Chase was left playing the long game.

In fact, his current situation reminded him of his little speech to do with three card Monte. Like the game itself, Chase always ended up being cheated, swindled as no matter where he turned he couldn't win. He was always told to looky here, no looky there, but in the end, it got him nowhere.

Though not anymore.

He would get the last say in the matter, to prove he wasn't the bad guy everyone made him out to be. To show the world that Merritt wasn't the saint the public domain believed him to be, to blast in black and white that he was nothing more than a common thief. A thief that robbed him of his future, his right to justice and to claim back what he'd destroyed.

The day will come where he would drag Merritt into the light, a light where every fault, fuck up, and every bit of pain Merritt had forced Chase to endure would illuminate the entire world of the two-faced twat his brother truly was.

Looking up at the ceiling that seemed to be on the brink of caving in, Chase let out a huge deep breath as he thought to himself,

So Merritt, if you can mind read this, I just want you to know that you will get what's coming to you, in ways you can't imagine, but very much deserve. As I will be waiting to pounce when you least expect it.