"Oh shit it's the fucking Riddler," said Sweet.
"Hey little leprechaun, you seen my brother?" he kept on as I raised an eyebrow at him,"Kind of a smart-ass, likes to pull stupid shit to give his poor big brother a heart attack."
"Real funny," I said,"Come on; get in the Greenwood, we going for a drive."
"Oh yeah?" he said, playfully grabbing at my derby so I had to duck away from him,"Where we going?"
"Remember what I told you a couple of days ago," I said,"I gotta surprise for you, and some stuff to tell you about what I was up to while you was inside."
"OK nigga," he said, nodding,"Fair enough..... this surprise better not be anything fucked up though."
"So let's hear it, CJ," he said,"You been up to some fucked up shit since I went down, it's time I knew what my little brother was up to."
I took a breath as we pulled out of Grove Street, and then I started up and it all came spilling out, unloading the last few months out on him as he listened, sometimes wide-eyed, sometimes laughing, sometimes angry, but mostly quiet. I took my time driving, we stopped to grab breakfast from Cluckin' Bell, and it was three hours from leaving Grove Street to get to where we were going.
In that time, I told him about getting dumped in Angel Pine; killing the snitch; meeting Truth; meeting Catalina and that whole fucked up situation; Cesar getting Kendl out of Santos and holding back his own need to take revenge on the people who turned on him so he could protect her; burning the marijuana fields; the fucked up trip to Fierro; opening the garage and getting it up and running; Zero and his fucked up miniature planes; infiltrating the Loco Syndicate, meeting Jizzy and T-Bone and taking them out; killing Ryder; Woozie and the shit with the Vietnamese Gang running illegal immigrants into Fierro; Toreno turning out not to be dead and putting me to work in return for keeping Sweet safe from Tenpenny; getting into the racing circuit; me and Cesar hijacking the truck; coming to Venturas and throwing down with the mob; saving Madd Dogg, Paul, Maccer and Rosey from themselves and the mob; the Casino heist at Caligula's and hijacking the Hydra from the Naval Base in Fierro; and finally got around to Toreno showing up and telling me that he'd organized Sweet's release as we came into sight of the Vinewood sign.
"....shit," Sweet said at last,"You been busy, nigga."
"That's one way of putting it," I nodded, driving up into Vinewood Hills and turning into the winding driveway of Madd Dogg's mansion.
"Ahhhh shit, CJ," Sweet complained,"Tell me my surprise ain't a tour of this fake-ass gangsta's mansion."
"No man," I said as we got out of the Greenwood and I led him around the front to the big ass deck looking out over Los Santos, the best view in town, currently being enjoyed by the person standing out on it waiting for us.
Kendl and Cesar turned around, Sweet looking a little unsure, Kendl as well. Last time they'd talked they'd been screaming at each other over Cesar, and now here we all were, Sweet's surprise revealed, a family reunion.
But would it be a happy one?
"Sweet, I..." she started, but then Sweet was moving past her and staring Cesar in the eyes, Cesar staring right back. Kendl started to speak up but I stepped between her and them, stepping her back.
"Let's see how this plays out, huh?" I said to her.
"But they're going to kill each oth-" she started, but I shook my head and held a finger up to her lips.
"Let them do this their way," I said.
"I understand you used to run with Aztecas, huh?" Sweet grunted.
"I still run with Aztecas," Cesar said, drawing himself up,"Things are just fucked up right now."
"CJ told me how drug dealers took over your gang," Sweet continued,"Took over your set, slang base on your corners, and what did you do? You drove out to Angel Pine and lived in a trailer until he gave you a job in a garage in Fierro.... that's what CJ told me."
"If you th-" started Cesar, angry and looking set to fight, but Sweet interrupted him again.
"He also told me that the reason you left was to get her to safety, and the reason you didn't go back was to protect her," Sweet finished,"That true?"
"I love your sister more than my life, holmes," Cesar said at last, surprised.
"Shit," shrugged Sweet, holding out his hand,"Welcome to the family, Cesar Vialpando."
A surprised Cesar shook Sweet's hand, then grinned and gave him a big hug, Sweet taking it in good grace and then pushing him away, muttering like grumpy old Sweet, but I could tell he was pleased, and Kendl was pleased.
The whole family was back together again, Grove Street was on the rise again, Tenpenny was going away for good, and it was just a matter of time till we took down Smoke. Everything was going to be all right, I could tell, looking out over Los Santos with my brother and sister and the man who was as good as my brother-in-law, I felt like the city was brand new and I was seeing it for the first time. Like the song said, it was a new day, a new dawn, and a new life, for me.
And I was feeling good.
"Hush up!" I shouted as we settled onto chairs we'd grabbed out of the bar to watch the big screen television in the room we'd been having our reunion in,"It's coming on!"
I'd given Sweet the tour after all, him trying not to look impressed by the place, and when he'd met Madd Dogg I'd wondered if there was going to be a fight after all. They'd gotten to talking, turns out that Madd Dogg knew Sweet's rep, and Sweet hadn't been able to resist bringing up what he thought of Madd Dogg moving up to Vinewood because he didn't want to be robbed.
"That old fucking rumor still dogging me?" Madd Dogg had said,"Shit, I moved up here because my Momma was sick and needed fulltime care, and no nurse would come stay down in the hood no matter how much money I offered. By the time she died, I was set in my ways up here, considered it home."
"Yeah?" Sweet had said, a little surprised,"Well you shouldn't have.... uhh... sorry about your Moms."
"Man, talk about an awkward situation," Truth had said from beside me and I'd nodded.... then jumped about a foot.
"Truth? What the fuck dude?" I'd shouted,"Where'd you come from?"
"Oh Carl," Truth had smiled, bowing to me,"Where did ANY of us come from?"
I was making introductions for everyone when Maccer had popped his head around the corner.
"'Ere, you lot?" he'd said,"I was just getting set to wank to this top bird on the telly when she said something about some bluebottle called Tenpenny, isn't that the lad fucking with you lot?"
So we'd all gathered around the TV, and heard it from the reporter on Court TV - a press conference had been called regarding the trial of Officer Frank Tenpenny.
"Hey be quiet, be quiet," I said as the television cut to a shot of the Prosecutor and the Defense Attorney standing by a podium, an old policeman in a fancy ass uniform standing to the side not looking too pleased. This had to be it, Tenpenny had finally given up and cut some sort of deal to reduce his prison sentence as much as possible, so he'd maybe get out of prison as an old man if he survived being surrounded by people he'd fucked over and put away over the course of his career. This was going to be the perfect icing on the cake for a perfect da-
"SHUT UP!" we all yelled, and then the male news anchor was taking over from the pretty reporter with the great rack to let us all in on the breaking news, that most of Santos was wrapped up in watching right now, waiting to see the mighty Tenpenny fall.
"Officer's Eddie Pulaski and Frank Tenpenny, both hard working members of a community policing unit, have been charged with racketeering, corruption, narcotics and sexual assault," he was saying, like anyone in Santos hadn't been obsessed with the trial, especially the way the media been pushing it down everyone's throats in newspapers, magazines, radio and television.
"They brought it on themselves!" sniffed Kendl, waving her hand through the air in disgust.
"That bastard cost me my farm," nodded Truth smoothly, then looked back at Maccer.
"Fooking brutal," nodded Maccer.
"...conspired to kill fellow officer Ralph Pendelbury," the anchor was continuing,"Who had threatened to turn State's Evidence and who was then found shot dead in a supposedly unrelated gang incident..."
"I'd say 20 years," Sweet spoke up, keeping his face blank but we could all tell he was loving this, watching Tenpenny being brought down by the system he'd worked to his advantage for so long.
"Try 5 years," said Cesar, shaking his head,"Cops always get off easy."
"Yeah I heard that," nodded Kendl.
"...ost evidence, retracted witness statements, and now the disappearance of fellow Officer Jimmy Hernandez, and Officer Pulaski himself, believed to be on the run," the Anchor was keeping on, enjoying knowing he had a captive audience. Me, I figured 15 years, anything less and people would claim preferential treatment, and any more and Tenpenny wouldn't have taken the deal and gambled on the Jury fucking up and getting him off - all or nothing. It pissed me off that I wouldn't get to hear the Jury saying,"Guilty" and see him carted off, but this was almost as good.
"That bastard Pulaski will probably turn up dead, just like the rest of them," shouted Kendl and I put a hand on her knee to quiet her, not wanting to let her know how close to the mark she'd hit.
The Defense Attorney stepped up to the podium and started to speak, and we all shut up to hear what deal she'd been able to get for Tenpenny, how much time he'd "only" have to serve.
"...of the lack of evidence against my client," she was saying, trying to make herself look good, make her plea bargain seem like a victory,"The District Attorney's office has seen fit...."
".... to drop all charges."