The Harem of Jason Morgan
"I guess this is it, the real test." Carly notes from the door.
Dara applies her make up one handed still grimacing a she looks at her plastered wrist. She looks at Carly's reflection in the mirror. "What do you mean?"
"You needed to take down Moreno-- he was as big a threat to you as he was to Jason-- maybe more. It's decision time, Dara. I stay out of Jason's business...." Dara gives Carly a 'yeah right' look as she tucks a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "Okay-- I mostly stay out of Jason's business. But now I need to know what you're going to do-- stay or go? You could go back to the DA's office pretend nothin' happened or go back to the WSB.
Dara shakes her head. "Carly, neither is an option. The DA's office was a WSB assignment. Something I was ordered to do. It was a lie, especially what they wanted me to do-- free Moreno. I've had Jason's back and he mine-- There's no way I could work to put him behind bars and no way I can go back to being an ADA and not."
"You have a place here, you know that."
"There's something you need to know before you make that offer."
"Right. I know Alexis told Jason and Justus what happened but I need to be the one to tell you. Alexis had info on me, what it was now is irrelevant. I could have lived it down or recues myself and Tony would have gone to prison, but I didn't. I plead him out with that farce. Because I had to be in position when Moreno came to trial. I was so furious with myself-- when you shot him I drew a hard line and you suffered for it. I'm sorry."
Carly has moved from the doorway to the bed where she sits. "It's been interesting having the three of you here... and believe me I remembered your 'hard line stance' when I was knocking you on your ass with those defensive tactics. You, Alexis and Robin. I don't remember doing it, you know. I remember him smiling, smirking, at me. The plea hadn't even sunk in yet. The next thing I know Jason is wrestling something from my hands."
"It was a good shot, if Monica and Bobbie hadn't been there he'd have died." Dara admits.
"And the stakes would have been raised-- think you would've gone for the needle?" Carly jokes her eyes serious.
Dara shrugs and shakes her head. "I'm glad I didn't have to find out."
"How weird is it? I don't blame you. I don't even blame Alexis. It wasn't personal except when you were coming after Jason."
"But you blame Robin."
Carly doesn't answer but instead asks, "What would you do now... I mean if Tony came after Michael or anyone else?"
V walks along the waterfront to clear her head. Ever since Munson told her about Connery's connection to Moreno she'd felt at loose ends. There was still too much that she didn't know so she'd been spending her time thinking back on her years with the WSB. Was there some sign she'd missed? Try as she might, she just couldn't pinpoint where it had all gone wrong. V wipes a tear away. As she approaches Kelley's she hears her name being called. Turning toward the sound, V sees Felicia signaling her to wait up a minute. V sighs and points toward an open table outside the restaurant. She sits down and a moment later Felicia joins her. "V! Where have you been? I've been trying to reach you for days! I was worried sick! Mac said not to worry about you, but I couldn't help it." Felicia takes a moment to catch her breath and look at her friend, "Are you okay?"
V gives Felicia a wry smile, "I'm
sorry to have worried you Felicia. I'm okay, I'm um...,well I guess you could
say I'm on an assignment."
"Oh, I see," Felicia folds her arms across her chest, leans back in her chair and searches V's face, her eyes squinting as they always do when she thinks someone is lying to her. "So V, what's going on? You don't look so good. In fact, you like you've lost your best friend. Does it have something to do with this assignment? You know, if it's too rough I can talk to Mac and have him pull you off the case."
"Felicia, really. There's no need. It's almost wrapped up and besides. This isn't official PCPD business."
"Well then what is it? You said assignment. What kind of assignment would Mac give you if it wasn't official PCPD business?", Felicia asks suspiciously.
"Felicia, I really appreciate your concern but it's really okay. It's a personal favor for Mac. You can ask him okay? Now please, no more questions."
Felicia purses her lips together, looks at V a little harder and shakes her head. "No. I can't let this go. The only other time I've seen you this sad was when Jax broke your heart." Felicia gasps "Oh God! No! V...please tell me that its really about an assignment and not that you've fallen for him again! Please not that! He's worse than ever! The man's turning into a real slut, you know? Oh! oh...V, I'm so sorry, I shouldn't be telling you about his escapades, should I? I think I better shut up now."
V smiled a genuine smile at her friend, "Felicia, it's okay. It's not Jax. It really is an assignment, just ask Mac about it, okay? It's almost over and I'll be home and more available within the next few weeks."
"Hmmm, I see. Must be something to do with Robin's disappearance. I take it you've found her and she's okay because Mac actually got a full night's sleep the last few nights."
"Yeah, I found her and she's safe. I emailed Mac."
"Then why are you so bummed?"
V weighs how much to tell her friend. Always a tricky decision because for all her ditzyness about some things, Felicia's really an incredibly sharp detective. A little eccentric in her approach but VERY resourceful, persistent and creative. If there's something she wants to know, she'll stop at nothing to find out the information. V takes a deep breath and dives in, "Felicia, have you ever idolized someone? I mean really looked up to them and tried to pattern yourself after them? You just knew that they could do no wrong ever, and then one day...WHAM!", V slams her hand down on the table with such force the noise makes Felicia jump, "You find out that it was all a lie and that this person was nothing like what you'd thought?"
Felicia takes V's hand and gives it a squeeze, "Yeah, sort of. It can turn your whole world around? Who was it, V? Did Mac do something? or Alex?"
V shook her head, "I can't really tell you now, Felicia, but I promise I will. Someday. Anyway, enough about that. How's business? Any interesting cases?"
Felicia's eyes light up, "That's why I was trying to call you! I'm swamped! Now that Mac went back to being commissioner, he can't work the PI jobs-- Conflict of interest. Anyway, I have so much work I was hoping you could help me out."
"Felicia, it's just as much a conflict of interest for me. I also work for the PCPD, remember?"
"I know, but I was really hoping that you'd consider quitting and buying Mac out. V, I'd like you to become my partner in the detective agency. I've talked to Mac about it and he'd hate losing you but he says its up to you."
V's jaw drops and she stares at Felicia for a minute. "Are you serious?"
Felicia nods, "Look, you don't have to answer me right now but I really do need know soon. I'm very close to having to turn work away."
"I understand. Let me talk to Mac and think about this. Can you wait a little longer? Just a week or two?"
Felicia smiles, "Sure thing, V! A couple more weeks is do-able." Felicia looks at her watch, "I have to go pick up Maxie and Georgie; V, if you need anything...if you need to vent or cry or talk, call me okay?"
The two women get up and hug. As Felicia crosses the street to her car she yells out "Hey! How does V. Jones Detective Agency sound? See ya!" Before V can answer, Felicia is in her car and pulling away.
"I think it's time for Dara and I finally have our little talk." V thinks, "It's time to stop ignoring the elephant in the middle of the room." V takes out her cell phone and calls the penthouse, "Hello, Carly? It's V. Could you send a car for me? I'm at Kelly's. And Carly? Tell Dara that I'd like her to come along for the ride. Thanks." V flips the phone shut and sits back down to wait.
A short time later, the car pulls up and Johnny gets out to open the door for V. He waits until V gets right to the door so that no one will see Dara in the backseat. As the car pulls away V turns to Dara, "Okay Dara, what's going on? I've got a puzzle here with more than a few pieces missing... pieces I think that you have. What are you trying to protect me from?"
Dara heaves a sigh and tucks a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Dara had been dreading this conversation but knew it was coming. V deserved the truth, always had, but V was going to be so hurt... just as she had been. "V, I'm so sorry. When I found out it rocked me to the core too. The only thing that helped was time... time to process the information. Munson is full of it but he didn't lie. He just knew that finding out like that would hurt you." Dara proceeds to tell V all that she'd learned about Connery's connection to Moreno. She finishes as they pulled into the garage. Both women just sit there quietly for a minute. V looks both pale and sick. Dara reaches out to her, squeezing V's shoulder in silent support. Johnny, not wanting to disturb them, gets out of the car and waits by the door.
"Dara, what are you going to do? Are you going to take Connery down? What happens after that? What happens to the bureau?"
"I don't know V. I just don't know. I'm having a tough time caring; what is going on now with the agency is a bastardization of what we signed up for and I want no part of it. How about you?"
V shrugs, "I don't know. Dara, we're supposed to be the good guys! God! Why is this happening? Do you think Jerry knows?"
"I couldn't tell you. Jerry and I haven't really been in touch for years. I tried to call him before Jason came through for me but we never connected. Why don't you feel it out?"
"Because I'm afraid of what I might find out. But, you're right Dara. We need to know. I'll email him tonight and see what I can find out." The two get out of the car and head to the door.
"You won't have to email him... he's already in town. Jason is just waiting for Connery to get here to set the meeting. Jerry is staying at Jax's penthouse."
V bites her lip and changing the subject to something that has been running through her mind since Munson's revelations. "Dara, have you ever thought about leaving? I mean, what would you do if you weren't working for the bureau?"
"Carly was asking me the same thing when I left the penthouse to meet you. It looks like we are both at the crossroad, V."
Outside the Port Charles Hotel
"I want your word, Jerry," Connery presses, checking his watch for the umpteenth time.
"C'mon, James--I said I would," Jerry sighs.
"Your WORD, Jerry," as Connery takes him by the arm.
"Okay, okay," Jerry relents. "I give you MY WORD."
"That.... " Connery prompts.
"That you'll do the talking," Jerry mutters. "Happy now--satisfied?"
"As a matter of fact, yes. Trust me, Jerry. It's better this way."
"Fine by me," Jerry scowls, still smarting somewhat from his conversation with Jason. "The less I have to talk with that arrogant bastard, the better."
Eyeing his friend, Connery begins to chuckle. "What's wrong, Jerry--someone finally give you a taste of your own medicine? Have you finally run across someone you CAN'T stare down?
"Yeah. Right. Whatever. Just keep the Pup outta my face, and all will go smoothly." Jerry hails a cab, then begins cracking his knuckles--a telltale sign to the few who know him that something's weighing heavily on his mind. The act does not go unnoticed by Connery.
"You wouldn't be a tad ANXIOUS about this meeting, would you, Jerry?" Connery cracks.
"Like you're NOT," Jerry shoots back. "You damn near wore a hole in the carpeting with all the blasted pacing you did last night." Now working on the left hand, Jerry finds his mind still stuck on the notion that the "inside source" Jason Morgan has may be none other than Dara.
Ever since Connery had approached him back in Australia, Jerry had been wrestling with the possibility of Dara having joined forces with Morgan. And while he knew Connery suspected V may have been Morgan's source, Jerry dismissed the idea on the basis that, one, V wasn't the type to look at things in "shades of gray," and thus would have serious qualms trying to justify forming an unholy alliance with Morgan--and two, the info being leaked to the Press was regarding WSB operations were in place prior to V's joining the Bureau; she'd have no knowledge of the events. Besides, his gut was telling him not to rule out the possibility of Dara having sought sanctuary within Morgan's world.
True, it went against everything he knew about Dara, character-wise. But, when push came to shove - in particular, trying to stay one step ahead of the WSB, and thus stay alive - he told himself if Dara HAD joined up with Morgan, it was a brilliant move. He would be the LAST person the Bureau would suspect Dara to turn to. But all Jerry had was his gut to go on. And although it rarely proved to be wrong, in light of having no concrete proof to present to Connery, Jerry decided to keep his suspicions to himself.
As the taxi arrives, Connery turns to Jerry. "Well, let's get this thing underway, shall we?" as he motions for Jerry to get in, then enters behind him. As the taxi speeds away, neither is aware of the figure across the way who's been watching them since they exited the Hotel.
"It's me," as she cradles the cell phone against her shoulder, while starting the car. "Yep. They're on their way. Got it." V clicks off, then pulls away from the curb following Jerry and Connery at a safe distance back to the penthouse.
The Renegade Penthouse
Dara emerges from her room, securing the clip-on earring as best she can with her left hand. As she makes her way to the living room, she's greeted by a chorus of cat-calls and whistles from Liz, Emily, and Alexis.
"Oh, stop it, you guys!" Dara blushes.
"Hey, we're just trying to tell you that you look hot, Dara!" Liz laughs.
"You got a date or something?"
Emily teases. "'Cause you MUST-- wearing a dress like that," referring to the
sarong styled floor-length Versace number Dara's wearing.
"Elizabeth's right, Dara," Alexis agrees. "You look stunning. You're just missing," as she absently smoothes back a stray strand of Dara's hair, "one thing." Dara shoots her a quizzical look. "This," as Alexis produces a choker-styled necklace from behind her back.
"OH My," Dara replies, somewhat breathlessly, "it's gorgeous. Is it yours?"
"No. Although I have one similar to it--as does Carly. It's from Jason."
"Gee does this mean we're going steady?" Dara cracks but secretly touched.
"Turn around, woman!" Alexis laughs, playfully swatting Dara s arm. Once the choker is secured, she turns Dara to face her. "C'est magnifique," Alexis praises.
"I agree," a voice from the stairwell concurs.
"Renaldo," Dara replies in a surprised voice, as she turns around.
"Dara," he nods.
"What are you doing here? I thought that you were suppose to be resting." Dara chides.
Renaldo looks around the room-- all eyes were on him and he had to wonder how much they all know about his dalliances with both Dara and Brenda especially Liz and Emily. Liz's eyes were devouring him and Emily was giggling and ogling him as well. Alexis was even giving him the once over. "Dara, Can I see you in the kitchen, please?"
She looks at him quizzically. "Sure, c'mon." Dara lead the way into the kitchen shutting the door behind them. She turns and looks at the man who took a bullet meant for her, who'd held and soothed her during those nights when her dreams woke her in terror and pain. The man who'd become not only her lover but her friend. "I'm not going like this, am I?" She asks.
"Dara, we both know that what you and I have is not the "happily ever after" stuff. Your heart's still with Jerry, that much is obvious from all those nights you cried out his name in your dreams, and you know that I was with Brenda before you. While I can't say that I'm in love with her or anything, I've grown fond of Brenda and I'm afraid that with the recent events going on around here and our time together... I've ignored her."
Dara crosses her arms in front of her and smiles. "Is this where I'm supposed to feel dumped?"
Renaldo takes her in his arms in a hug and kisses her softly. "I hope not. You can't "dump" someone you never had. I'll always, always, be there for you: emotionally... physically, but I don't want to ignore Brenda any longer. She needs me...."
Just then they hear a throat clearing. "Excuse me? Do I have a say in this? Renaldo, I don't *need* you. I will never need another man for as long as I live. You got that?! I'm my own person and I'm never going back to being someone's weak link."
Renaldo releases Dara and turns to see Brenda standing there. She was a vision except for her eyes which were clouding up with hurt, anger and sadness.
Brenda holds her hand up. "Stop. Renaldo, I care for you... more than I'd like to in fact. I know we don't have an exclusive relationship. I've known about you and Dara for awhile but when you were shot I realized what you meant to me. It was more important to me to have you in my life and share you than to not have you at all. But that doesn't mean that I NEED you! It means that I WANT you. Do not confuse the two. You see, you didn't treat me as someone weak... at least you didn't-- until now."
"Brenda, he didn't mean it like that!" Dara protests.
Brenda turns her gave to Dara. "I know you don't like me, Dara. Do you really think that I don't hear what you guys say behind my back?" Brenda laughs. "God, the stuff you say to my face is clue enough. I may have been institutionalized but I'm not crazy and I've never been stupid. I'm not the same Brenda you knew before so just stop trying to condescend or pacify me, okay?" She turns and walks over to Renaldo gently caressing his face. "I'm not so naive these days. We have no secrets, I know exactly what you do for Jason so it's not like it was with Sonny. And while I enjoy how you pamper me and give into some of my indulgences I don't need you to take care of me like it was with Jax. I'm strong enough now that I can handle what you have with Dara but I will not be treated like an afterthought and I will not stand around waiting to be tossed out on my butt on your whim. Do NOT play me, Renaldo. I deserve better."
Renaldo turns to Dara. They share unspoken words. Then Dara tells Renaldo, "Do what you have to. I understand and know that you'll always be there for me as I will be for you... both of you." Dara leaves Brenda and Renaldo to finish working things out.
Renaldo reaches out to Brenda and draw her into his embrace. "Brenda, I'm sorry; you do mean a lot to me too. I know we started out a little unconventionally but we're more than just about sex and you do deserve to be treated better than that."
Brenda looks up into his eyes and sees that he is sincere. She takes her face into his hands and begins to kiss him lightly at first and then more passionately.
Renaldo breaks from the kiss first. "Gawd woman, what you do to me is a sin. Why don't we skip dinner and just order in?" Brenda nods breathlessly. "Let's go." they walk out of the kitchen hand in hand stopping short when they see Carly and Dara talking quietly but very animatedly. Both have hard looks on their faces.
Carly sees them. "You guys look like you were planning on going out. I hope that you didn't have any big plans."
Brenda smiles smugly at Carly. "Hi Carly, we actually did have some plans... what's up?"
"I'm afraid you're going to have to change them." Carly informs them. "I'm sorry." She locks eyes with Renaldo, then replies, "Jason said to tell you it's time. V called and they're on their way."
Renaldo nods and looks reassuringly at Dara, "You-you're not gonna be sitting in on the meeting, are you, Renaldo?" Dara asks, her chest momentarily tightening at the thought of having all three men in the same room. And she didn't t EVEN want to go there regarding her "relationships" - past or present - with ANY of the men.
"No. Let's just say, I'll be--shall we say, on the "welcoming committee" when the guests of honor arrive," he replies cryptically, a twisted smile briefly crossing his face.
"Uh, good fine," Dara mutters, suddenly breathing a bit easier.
"Renaldo? I thought you were out of commission?"
"I'm sorry Brenda, I have to do this."
"I know." She says quietly. "Just be extra careful okay? I fully expect a raincheck and I want everything intact. I'll be waiting." That said, Brenda bolsters herself up and gives him one of her brilliant smiles and a wink hoping that she appears more confident than she feels.
Renaldo gives her another deep kiss, and then chucks her under the chin. "Don't worry about a thing, that's more than enough incentive for me to not exert myself. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Brenda shoos him out of the penthouse. "Great. Now go on. Get out of here. Standing around and looking that good is raising the temperature in here to an uncomfortable level."
The Service Entrance, Harborview Towers
"What in the hell are we doing down here?" Jerry fumes, as he makes his way towards the service elevator.
"This is the way Morgan wanted it," Connery shrugs, jamming his finger against the button. "Believe me, I'm no happier about it than you are."
"Evening, Gentlemen," comes a voice from the shadows, causing both men to spin with lightning-like speed.
"What the--" Jerry mutters. Before he can complete the sentence, he' grabbed roughly from behind as the elevator doors open. Connery quickly suffers the same fate. "Get your hands off me!" as Jerry struggles against the vice-like hold he now finds himself in.
"I take it Morgan sent you?" Connery inquires coolly, secretly impressed. Before he can get a response, Jerry manages to execute a reverse headbutt of sorts, by ramming the back of his head into the guard's forehead. Although the move sends both him and the guard crashing to the floor, Jerry manages to extract himself from the guards grasp and goes for his gun.
"Ah ah AH!" Renaldo intones, his gun leveled at Jerry s head. "I would NOT make a move for that piece if I were you. It'd prove to be unwise." He releases the safety. "VERY unwise." Motioning for Jerry to rise to his feet, Renaldo enters the cab of the elevator. "You okay, Mario?" he asks, never taking his eyes off Jerry.
"Yeah," Mario mutters, clutching his forehead, still slightly woozy from the impact.
"Well I'm sure you boys didn't come all this way just to feel us up," Jerry sneers, as Johnny and Mario pat him and Connery down, respectively.
"Nope. We didn't," as Renaldo grabs Jerry by the back of his collar, slamming him against the wall. "But seeing as you Secret Agent types are known for being pretty crafty, I don't think we should take any chances, right, Johnny?" he calls out over his shoulder.
"Yep," Johnny replies, all the while staring down Connery.
"Look, we don't have time to waste," Jerry hisses. "So STOP jerking us around and take us up to see Morgan."
"Sure thing," Renaldo replies, releasing his hold on Jerry's collar. "AFTER you strip."
"WHAT?!" Jerry and Connery roar in unison.
"Do I stutter?" Renaldo asks. "You heard me," he replies flatly. "Drop em."
"Why, that arrogant, twisted sonofa...."
"Let it go, Jerry," Connery cautions his hotheaded friend. "I should've known to expect this," he mutters, unbuckling his belt.
The Main Penthouse
Dara's at the window, staring absently out at the city below. She's only shaken from her reverie when she hears Jason s voice from the stairwell.
"Don't even think about trying to bail out the window," Jason cracks. "The glass is bulletproof."
"Damn. You're cracking jokes-- do I look that tense?"
"Well, it's not every day you come
face to face with the head of an organization - that you gave over 10 years of
your life to - that tried to snuff you out," she replies bitterly.
"Yeah. And it's not every day you find yourself in that very same room with an ex-lover you haven't seen or spoken to in nearly five years," he adds.
"Gee, Jason. THANKS for reminding me of that little tidbit," as she rolls her eyes.
"You okay with all of this?" he asks softly. "Look, I know you're still worried about V, and I'm sure Munson s little "revelation" brought back some painful memories.... "
"You don't know the half of it," she snorts. "Just when I think the nightmares were over, after the interrogation, they started back up again." Turning back to the window, she looks out at the lights below once again. "I am SO ready for this to be over, Jason," she says softly.
"Yeah," as he places a hand lightly atop her shoulder, "I know you are. Just a little while longer." He says quietly, giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "Just a little longer, and it'll all be over." The two stand at the window, staring out in silence. When the door to the Penthouse opens, neither turns away.
"They're here, Jason," V says. "I followed them to the service entrance then came around to the keyed elevator. Mario, Johnny and Renaldo are searching them right now. They should be coming up the business elevator any minute."
Turning to face each other, Dara and Jason reply in unison, "Let's do this."
Dara goes over to V giving her a one armed hug. "You were the only one that could have ID'd them both. But your part is done for now. Jase and I will keep you out of this until you decide what you want to do."
Connery rises, slowly strolling about the office. "You know, I didn't want to mention this to you before, because I know how fond you are of V, " as Connery pensively strokes his chin. "I'm beginning to think SHE may have had something to do with Morgan finding out all the information that was leaked to the press."
"VENUS?!" Jerry laughs, incredulous. "That's insane, Connery. You need to stop grasping at straws, mate. Remember, most of the stuff that was leaked was underway LONG before V became an Agent."
"Okay okay," Connery shrugs. "So my theory has a few holes in it but nothing that couldn't really be explained by V's computer skills. V had a way of finding patterns that others wouldn't have noticed and putting them together. It was a headache to listen to her but damn if she didn't came up with scenarios that were too close to what I knew to be fact. And you can't deny Morgan's getting his info from SOMEONE on the inside. I don't know how he did it somehow he's managed to buy himself a snitch--"
"A "snitch"? Now, now, Director," a familiar voice chides from across they way, as the door adjacent to a back room in the office opens. "Is that any way to refer to a fellow Agent?"
"Good LORD...it can't be!" Connery stammers, slowly rising to his feet.
"Oh, yes it can!" Jerry offers up a smug smile, nodding his head sagely.
Jason steps into the room first. "I'd introduce the lady to you," he smirks, extending his hand to the lady in question, drawing her into the room, "but I do believe you all know each other already."
"Hello, Director Connery. Jerry."
"MY GOD...YOU'RE ALIVE!" Is all Connery can manage.
"Hello, Dara," Jerry replies, all the while taking in the sight of her. "How does the quote go--'reports of your demise were a bit premature,' no?" Although his face, like Jason's, registers no emotion, there's the faintest hint of a smile dancing in his eyes.
"Well, you know what they say..." She crosses the room, taking a seat next to Jason. "'Seeing IS believing,'" as she locks eyes with Jerry. Then, just as quickly, she breaks the gaze. "But enough of that," as she eyes Connery. Dara then turns to Jason. "I do believe the gentlemen came here to do business with you, Mr. Morgan"
"Ms. Jensens IS correct, isn't she, gentlemen?" Jason replies, returning Jerry's stare, dagger for dagger. Connery slowly regaining his composure merely nods. "Well, then...let's get started, shall we?"