The Harem of Jason Morgan
Jason's Office, the Main Penthouse
"Is this some sort of joke?" Connery asks, incredulous. "Most of these Operations are vital to the WSB maintaining good relations with our South American "associates." You're kidding, right?" he inquires, incredulous.
"Does he LOOK like he's kidding, James?" Jerry seethes his voice terse. He also has a copy of the files his boss is skimming; and while no fan of the "shady dealings" the WSB oftentimes engages in, like Connery, he can't believe the proposal.
"Sorry." Connery closes the file, tossing it to the carpeted floor next to his chair. "Not possible. Not even REMOTELY possible," he shakes his head.
"You MAY want to reconsider your stance, Director," Dara intones cryptically.
"Did he stutter, Dara?" Jerry snarls, shooting Dara a heated gaze. "No. His answer's NO."
"Was I talking to you?" as Dara arches her brow, her voice rising slightly. Calm down, baby. Too much at stake for you to let Jerry get a rise out of you. She turns her attention to Jason her voice now tightly controlled. "Perhaps you should inform them about the renegade faction of Moreno's soldiers "
"Naw," he replies, shaking his head. He makes no attempt to mask his delight at the flustered responses of Connery and Jerry. "You tell 'em."
"RENEGADES?!" Connery bellows.
"FACTIONS?!" Jerry rages.
"Are you two done throwing your hissy fits?" Dara asks, rising from her seat. "Good. Now, Director," as she makes her way towards him, "I suggest you rethink your position on Jason's offer." She pauses, pointing a finger in Jerry's direction, never breaking her gaze with Connery. "Don't EVEN think about butting in, Jerry!" Seconds later, a disgruntled Jerry returns to his seat, muttering the entire way. "As I was saying before, although Jason has taken control of Moreno's territory, there remains a small group of his men who aren't willing to cooperate, and these men have been trying to stir up unrest within other Organizations--especially those that were once tight with Moreno. So far, none of the other Organizations have taken them up on their offer. They know better. They may be ticked about Jason coming in and totally revamping the way they've done business - squashing their drug trade, the prostitution.... - but they're NOT stupid. And stupid is exactly what someone in a rival Organization would have to be to take on Jason after what happened to Moreno." Dara shrugs. "But, then again, these "renegades" aren't exactly known for their brains like the pitbulls they are they're big, vicious and loyal. They just MAY be crazy enough to try and take on Jason. not because they'd win but because of Moreno."
"VERY big on loyalty," Jason concurs, rising from behind his desk, coming to rest next to Dara.
"Yeah, nothing like honor among thieves, eh, Morgan?" Jerry sneers.
"Didn't Dara tell you to shut up?!" Jason barks, then without missing a beat, returns his attention to Connery. "Now, while I'm sure these men knew nothing of Moreno's involvement with the WSB, if they WERE to find out " Jason taunts, offering up a knowing smile. "Well, let's just say, they would NOT be pleased to know that once their man Moreno was thrown in jail, the folks at the Bureau didn't so much as lift a FINGER to help him out. You guys scraped him from off the bottom of your shoes like he was day-old dung. Yep," as he shakes his head mockingly, "they're a REAL loyal bunch. And if they were--say, given a bit of info on some Bureau Operations down in say, COLUMBIA " Jason lets out a low whistle, offering up a derisive laugh. "Well, they'd be out for blood, Connery. No doubt about it but it wouldn't be mine."
"You wouldn't," as Connery rises, all the while eying Jason.
"Dara, do I bluff?" Jason continues to return Connery's stare, never blinking.
"Believe he's bluffing if you like, Connery. Hell," she snorts, "he might even lead 'em there himself!"
"All right," as Connery slowly returns to his seat.
"James! You're not actually gonna give in to the Pup's demands?!" Jerry looks at Connery like he's just sprouted a third eye. "I cannot BELIEVE this!"
" Sit down, Jerry," Connery replies evenly. "I think Dara's right. I need to reconsider my stance."
"Smart move," Jason answers his flat unblinking stare still focused on Connery.
While Jason and Jerry hammer out the finer points of Jason's terms, Dara and Jerry stand on opposite sides of the room, staring daggers at each other. Finally tiring of being under Jerry's intense gaze, Dara crosses the room, heading for the wet bar. Seeing her headed in his direction, Jerry quickly ambles over to the bar.
"Nice necklace," Jerry nods. "A gift from Pup?" he sneers.
"What of it?" she challenges, eyes flashing.
"Nothing!" as Jerry raises his hands in mock surrender. "I was just gonna say, I never took him to have a sense of humor." Dara looks at Jerry quizzically. "The stone in the choker it's a form of chrysoberyl--Tiger's Eye."
"And?" Dara shrugs, absently taking a step back--the more distance between her and Jerry, the better as far as she's concerned. "The POINT of this lesson in Gemology?"
"It represents protection from the Government."
"Well...I always thought Jason had a pretty wry sense of humor," Dara smiles, absently stroking the stone. "You want one?" as she pours herself a drink. Jerry shakes his head.
"Bourbon?" he comments, arching his brow. "Since when did you become a drinker?"
Tossing back the drink, Dara shoots Jerry a venomous look. "Since when is it any of your business?" she replies, wincing as the fiery liquid glides down her throat.
"Still as brash as ever, I see," he laughs. "Nice to see SOME things never change."
"See, that's where you're wrong, Jer." as she slams the glass down. Jason and Connery never so much as break their concentration. "Things HAVE changed," as she turns to walk away.
"I think not," he counters quietly. Taking her by the arm he attempts to turn her to face him. "What in the hell are you doing here, Dara? What's happened to you?"
"Let go, Jerry." Dara struggles to keep her voice even. It's all she can do not to lose it right then and there. She's amazed that after all this time, his touch can still do that to her. "I said let GO!" she hisses, her back to Jerry.
"Not until you give me some answers!" he hisses back. "Okay, so you needed to stay alive I can buy that. But backing Morgan--sticking it to the Bureau? That's not like you. This," He waves his hand around the room, referring to the new world she inhabits, "THIS isn't you, Dara." He pauses, turning Dara so that she's looking right at him. "This isn't MY Dara," he says softly.
Looking into Jerry's dark brown eyes, Dara nearly comes undone. Upon hearing him call her "my Dara," her heart all but stops. Get a GRIP, woman! This is not the time. This is NOT the place! Calling upon every ounce of self-control she has, Dara slowly disengages herself from Jerry's grip. Clearing her throat, she steels herself. "I'm not "YOUR Dara", Jerry. I haven't been for a long time. I'm certainly not the Dara that gave 10 years of her life to the Bureau. THAT Dara died the day they planted a bomb in a car at the Courthouse, a bomb meant for me. Take a good long look, Jerry. What you see? This is what and who I am NOW. You say this stone represents protection? Well, that's what Jason offered me. No, he doesn't have the Government's seal of approval with regards to what he does, but he sure is a helluva lot more loyal than the Bureau. Jason was there for me when I called and every day since then.
"So, this is your life now?"
"This is my life," she nods. "I make no apologies for it. I ask for no one's approval. The sooner you understand and accept that, the better off we'll both be."
"Okay. That's the way you want it? Fine."
"That's the way it is," as she walks away.
"Yeah, Dara. Believe that all you want," he says softly, watching her cross the room. "You talk about sealing your fate with that phone call? Just remember who you called FIRST, luv!"
The final stages of Negotiations
"Nope," as Jason shakes his head. "I thought I made it clear, Connery? Cross that "associate" off the list of Operations I'll be dealing with. I want no part of prostitution not even a hint of it."
"Is that so, Pup is that so?" Jerry sneers.
"The name's Morgan," Jason replies, his voice tinged with warning.
"Well, PUP according to our sources, you have an inordinate number of ladies here at your Penthouse. Many of them with some rather loose reputations if you know what I mean?" he winks. "Kind of a perfect setup for a brothel, if you ask me..."
Dara's jaw tightens. Her eyes ablaze, she rises, making a beeline for Jerry. Hands on her hips, she stares him down. "Now I just KNOW you're not insinuating Jason has the women here hooking for him? I'm hoping for your sake that little comment is due to you hitting the sauce a little too much over the last hour," Dara threatens.
"You think I'm drunk, luv?" Jerry laughs. "I'm as sober as a judge!" He steps closer, then bends down to whisper in her ear, deliberately allowing his lips to graze her ear. "What's wrong, Dara? Tonight not your night to warm Pup's bed? Hell, at least with me, you never had to wait in line!"
"I'm warning you, Jerry..."
"So, tell me, Pup," as he looks across the way at Jason. "It's gettin' kinda late--did you and Dara already "take care of business"...or will that take place after this meeting is over?"
"Connery, muzzle him or I will!" Jason rises from his chair.
Connery, flushed with anger merely shakes his head, scowling at Jerry. Giving a mirthless laugh, he realizes he was hoping for too much that Jerry and Dara could be in the same room and it not turn nasty. "Dammit, Jerry! Just shut up, would you? You are NOT helping here!"
"Shut up?" Jerry repeats, laughing. "Oh, I'm JUST getting started," as he whirls Dara around.
"Wrong, baby. You're finished!" Seconds later, Dara swiftly rams her knee into Jerry's groin, sending him crumpling to the floor, groaning in agony and uttering a few curse words she didn't even know existed.
"Jeezus, Dara!" Connery gasps.
"You trying to kill the man?!" as he gets in between them, Dara still towering
"He's lucky I didn't do it TWICE!"
Still doubled over, Jerry slowly rises to his feet, with assistance from Connery. "Yep. No doubt about, mate...she still loves me!" he cracks.
"In your dreams!" she snorts.
"You okay?" Jason asks, gently leading her away.
"Yeah," Dara replies, exhaling deeply, staring daggers in Jerry's direction. Damn. She hated it when she let Jerry push her buttons. The question was WHY was he trying to make her lose it?
"Okay, Connery. Your boy acts up one more time, he's outta here!"
"Everything's under control," Connery reassures Jason. "Isn't that right, Jerry?" Silence. "RIGHT, Jerry?"
"Yeah, RIGHT," Jerry groans, his hands absently darting to his crotch.
His stomach is now in knots. But not from the pain of Dara's blow. Locking eyes with her, he realizes he's probably blown any chance of a possible reconciliation with Dara--but it was something he had to do. Having Dara in the room is a liability, as far as Jerry is concerned. Thus, he was doing his best to fluster her--to make her upset enough to leave. Unfortunately, his best wasn't good enough, he muses. For not only is she sticking around, but if he can still read her right, the look in her eyes tells him she's going to make him pay for those comments.
Jason casts a glance over at Dara.
He couldn't help but notice as they crossed the room, the sway of her hips was a bit more pronounced then usual. And when she stood next to him, he distinctly felt her breast brush against him.
"So, he wants to know if you got it like that?!" she'd muttered. "Well, I'll show him JUST how you got it!" she spat.
Yep. No doubt about it, Jason surmises. Jacks had tried to ruffle Dara's feathers, and she was gonna retaliate. She's really playing things up for Jacks, that's for sure. Only Jerry isn't the only one her actions are having an effect on. Smiling, Jason finds himself more anxious than ever to have the meeting over with. Maybe he's imagining things, he tells himself, but Dara seems just a wee bit "tense," he chuckles silently. Another shower is in order, perhaps...
Connery's voice brings Jason's attention back to the matter at hand.
"...and with us having agreed on the Bureau Operations that will be used, I do believe this..."partnership," as he clears his throat, "will be advantageous to both parties involved."
"Well, speaking of 'parties involved,' Connery," Jason begins. "There's one other thing that I insist upon." He holds up his hand to silence Connery's forthcoming protest. "I'll be straight with you, Connery--yeah, you're working with me. Hell, you don't have a CHOICE, when you think about it. But I do give you points for grace under pressure. Still, the fact remains, I don't trust you. Pure and simple." He pauses. "And neither does Dara."
"Is that true, Dara?" Connery asks.
"Let him finish, James," Dara replies somberly moving to stand beside Jason her strong had moving to brush against the desk drawer as her casted arm rests along the back of Jason's chair.
"Dara will be pivotal in my dealings with the WSB," Jason continues. "I can't have her on edge, constantly on the lookout--second guessing you, wondering if the contacts we're working with are on the up and up. So, here's the deal: You step down, I choose your successor, and on this end *I* call all the shots. Take it or leave it."
Jerry bolts out of his seat in a flash, heading straight for Jason...only to be stopped short by the gun Dara has aimed at him. The pistol she'd pulled from the desk drawer in anticipation of his move. Jerry recognizes the determined look in her eyes. And he knows her well enough to realize, love him or hate him, she'll shoot him if need be. He turns, kicking over his chair to release his frustration.
"Just who in the HELL do you think you are, Morgan?! Do you think you can just waltz in and take over the World Security Bureau?!" Jerry offers up a contemptuous laugh. "Such visions of grandeur, Pup, are what will get you killed!"
"You gonna be the one to do it, Jacks?" Jason answers coolly. "Does the Bureau mean so much to you? Huh? You, who spent the last--HOW many years drinking yourself into oblivion in some outback watering hole? I don't THINK so! Now sit down and shut up!" he roars. "These negotiations don't concern you." He pauses. "Not yet anyway." Jason turns to face Connery. "So--do we have a deal? This is the ONLY way you're going to come out of this even SEMI-clean. This is your ONLY chance to get out with your name and freedom intact."
Connery remains seated, the color drained from his face. He knew something was up when Dara had not responded to his question, and instead had told him to hear Jason out. Something's gone wrong, he tells himself. REALLY wrong.
"James, what the hell is going on?!" Jerry barks, all but reeling from his boss/friend's reaction.
"L-L-Listen, Jerry," Connery stammers, finally finding his voice. "Bringing you into this was a mistake. I'm sorry." He turns to Jason, searching the young man's eyes. They give away nothing, yet Connery's gut tells him, whatever Jason knows will not be divulged in Jerry's presence. He'd grant him that courtesy. "I'll step down, Morgan. Immediately. But there's no guarantee on the successor being who you want it to be. No guarantee that you'll have any control. This is my mess, and whoever replaces me may be fine with airing the dirty laundry and using me as a scapegoat. You won't have any control over them," he warns.
"I understand that," Jason nods. "But if I can't have control, then I want to be damn sure whoever takes over for you is clean. Someone who can be trusted..."
Dara slowly began to rise to her feet, her heart in her throat. No, she tells herself. He's NOT gonna go there. He won't do that to him. To ME. "Jason..."
"Someone who can't be bought. Someone like you, Jacks."
Jerry looked from Dara, to Connery, then to Jason. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT?!"
"Jason... can I have a word with you, please--just for a second?" Dara asked, her eyes boring into Jason. "WHAT are you doing?" she hisses, as they huddle in the corner.
"I'm making sure I don't get stabbed in the back. Which is exactly what will happen if CONNERY is still in charge. Or have you forgotten HE was the one who gave the order to whack you...not to mention he sent those goons here, not even caring if V got taken out in the process?"
"No," Dara replies evenly. "I HAVEN'T." She takes a deep breath, placing her hand lightly on Jason's arm. "The entire time I've been here, Jason...have I ever asked you for anything--EVER?" Jason shakes his head. "Well, I'm asking now. If my loyalty to you - which I think I've proven is real - if it means anything to you, I ask you to do this one thing for me--don't put Jerry as Connery's successor. You've seen what having that kind of power does to someone, what it did to Connery--and believe it or not, he WAS a good man. I don't want to see the same thing happen to Jerry." Her voice became barely audible. "I don't think I could take it if he wound up like Connery." Quickly recovering, she adds, "Besides, the last thing either of us needs is to be working side by side. I'm...I'm just not ready for that. And you said so yourself that you needed me focused..."
"Do you still love him?"
"Wh-wh-what?" she laughed. "Puhleeze!"
"You didn't answer my question."
"Why should I," she replies sullenly. "You obviously seem to think you already know the answer."
Jason merely smiles, nodding his head as he turns to walks away. "And so do you, Dara," he says softly.
Leaning against his desk, arms crossed, Jason eyes Jerry who's now pacing back and forth, cracking his knuckles. "So, Jacks. What's your answer?"
"Go to HELL!" Jerry spits, still pacing.
"Not the answer I'm looking for," he smiles. "Tell me something. Satisfy my curiosity. Why don't you like me, Jacks?"
Stunned by the question, Jerry blinks, trying to collect his thoughts. He was expecting some smartass retort from Jason. Not that. As if anything Morgan does makes sense, he muses. Hell, NONE of what's going on tonight made any sense: Dara, standing there holding a gun on him because she was loyal to a punk mobster... Connery's capitulation to Morgan's whims, and agreeing to step down as head of the Bureau... and now Pup wants to know why I don't like him?! "What the hell kind of question is that, Morgan? Are you afraid I won't come over and ask you play? Afraid you won't get picked for the team?" Jerry sneers.
"Answer the question."
"Fine." Jerry has stopped pacing, and is standing directly in front of Jason, their faces but inches apart. "I don't like you because you're a pompous, arrogant, small time punk that thinks he can handle the bigs. I don't like you because you feel that you're above the law. And I don't like you because you've turned the only woman I've ever loved into someone just like you!"
"Not bad answers," Jason nods. "Okay, you'll do." Jason steps away from Jerry, taking a seat behind his desk.
"What is THAT supposed to mean?"
"Connery, I don't care how you do it, just make sure that Jacks here is your replacement. Dara?" There's no response, as she's still reeling from Jerry's outburst. "Dara!"
"Uh...yeah. What do you need me to do?" as she shakes herself out of her revelry.
"Later on, I'll need you to get with Connery. I want him to give you access to everything he has regarding these Operations. Even though Jacks will be running the show, I still consider you my eyes and ears when it comes to what goes down inside the WSB."
"I don't believe this!" Jerry exclaims as he runs his hand across his eyes. "Am I the ONLY ONE in this room who's SANE?! This HAS to be a nightmare!" He turns to Connery, his eyes narrowed. "What haven't you told me, James?"
Jason cuts in before Jerry gets his answer, "That can wait. You need not concern yourself with the finer points of my terms. You can go now."
"I can "GO"?!" Jerry repeats. "You're dismissing me?" he asks, incredulous. "Look, I don't recall agreeing to your "terms"! In fact, let me tell you right here, right now...no. Wait a minute. Not just, no...HELL NO!" as Jerry slams his palms down on Jason's desk. "If your "TERMS" are that Connery steps down and I replace him, the it looks like we have ourselves a bit of a stalemate, Pup" he replies defiantly.
"I'll repeat myself one last time, Jacks," Jason replies slowly. "Leave."
Jerry doesn't budge. It's only when Connery taps him lightly on the shoulder that he breaks the steely gaze he has fixed upon Jason. "Go on, Jerry. It's all right. Leave. For me, okay?"
Jerry slowly backs away from the desk. As he looks at Connery, he gets a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. He's seen that look on Connery's face one other time, when he told him his daughter was dead. And now, for some reason, Jerry got the feeling that Connery, too, was dead.
"Fine. I'm outta here!" as he turns to leave.
"Make sure you don't leave town anytime soon, Jacks," Jason replies.
Jerry pauses in the doorway, shaking his head as he gives a bitter laugh. "Oh, I'm not going ANYWHERE until I get some answers." He looks to Dara, then Connery, then back to Dara. "You can best BELIEVE that!" as he storms from the room, slamming the door behind him.
"Guess hanging on to this key came in handy for more than just a memento" V thinks wistfully as she unlocks the door to the penthouse. She closes the door and leans back against it taking it all in, everywhere her eyes land brings on another memory. Pushing herself off the door, V walks the perimeter of the living room, turning on a small table lamp, picking up a picture here and a figurine there. She heads to the couch and takes a seat, picking up a pillow and bringing it up to her face, V closes her eyes and inhales deeply taking in his scent.
"Okay V. Get a grip!" she thinks to herself. "This is NOT what this visit is about. Damn! Why can't I be over him!" She gets her answer very quickly as she spots a picture of her and Jax from Malibu. V recalls that day...Brenda had broken his heart. Again. Worried about him, V had headed out to Malibu to make sure he was all right. Jax may have been dealing with heartbreak but it was one of the happiest days of her life. The picture was taken when they were both a little giddy from champagne. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on V's mood, she wasn't giddy enough to take advantage of his need. She didn't sleep with him, a decision that at any given time she regretted. She knew it would have been about Brenda and not about making love to her and yet, it was her one chance and..."Damn her! Hell! Damn him! This is getting me nowhere...it was a mistake to come here to confront Jerry. I'm too distracted here." she says aloud. As she gathers her purse and jacket in preparation to leave she hears the key in the door. Looking in that direction, V sees Jerry coming through the door. "Oh well here goes nothin'" she thinks.
Jerry turns on the lights, "V! Well, well, well, if it isn't my very favorite mad bomber!"
V smiles wryly, "Well, well, well, if it isn't my very favorite demolition's instructor. What brings you town, Jerry?"
Jerry rushes forward and scoops V up in a big bear hug. "Oh, like you have to ask?" He realizes that V isn't responding to the hug. In fact, she's stiffened up. Curious, Jerry holds V at arm's length and took a good look at her, "Okay Ardanowski. Out with it. Why are you waiting for me here alone in the dark hmmm? I thought it was my brother who'd won your heart," he teases.
V's face darkens even further, "Jer...let's not go there okay? There's nothing between Jax and me. Never has been."
"Sorry V. I just sort of figured you would've done something about it by now. The Midget Model is finally history and my brother is playing the field these days..."
"Stop! Okay? I didn't come here to talk about Jax!"
"Well then, kitten, why are you here? And more to the point, why are you angry with me? What's with the cold shoulder?"
"I'm not angry with you, Jerry... yet."
"Yeah? Then why did you stiffen up when I hugged you? Why are you looking at me the way you used to look at Munson?"
V's eyes narrow, "Munson? What do you know about Munson, Jerry?"
Confusion's written all over Jerry's face, "Nothing V, I just remember the way you used to look at him. You loathed and distrusted him. It showed in the way you looked at him and now, I see you looking at me the same way. What's changed V? What did I do?"
"Jer, tell me what happened at the meeting. I need to know what Connery and Morgan worked out. What I do next depends on what you tell me."
"So, you knew about the meeting. Why am I not surprised?" Jerry gives a low chuckle "You should have seen Connery's face V...it was priceless! He fingered you for the leak you know."
V nods but insists on an answer to her questions. "Jer, what happened. What was the outcome? I need to know. I need you to tell me everything, and most of all, I need you to tell me about Connery."
"Won't Dara fill you in? Or is she loyal only to Morgan now?" he replies bitterly.
"If you have to ask that question then you don't understand what Dara is doing, and you don't know everything that's going on, Jerry. What did Connery tell you about all this, about Moreno? How did he rope you into coming here and getting involved?"
Jerry looks at V quizzically, "I owe him. That's why I'm here. I owe him big and he chose this as my payback. A one shot deal."
V couldn't help but wonder at the choice of words, "One shot? Are you paying him back by killing Morgan?"
Jerry's eyes narrow, "Kill Morgan? No. Not that I wouldn't mind taking that pompous, arrogant sonuvabitch down a few notches. He believes he can control the WSB!" All a once, realization set in, "Oh God V! Not you! That's why you're so standoffish, isn't it? You're working for the pup too! "
V shakes her head, "No Jerry, I don't work for Jason but I've worked for worse. In fact, I kind of like Jason. Loyalty means something to him, and he takes care of his own. As for him controlling the WSB? Well, he believes that for a good reason, Jerry. Not only does he have Dara's information but there is also a few more dirty little secrets that Jason developed on his own. They have the potential to blow Connery right out of the water and the bureau with him. So I gotta ask you again, Jer...why were you brought into this? Are you or Connery planning to take Jason out?" V asks fiercely.
Jerry looks at his former student. "She always was a feisty one" he thinks, " What an idiot my brother is for letting this one slip through his fingers for the sake of the model." Jerry searches V's eyes, "You know something V, out with it!"
V shakes her head, "Not until you tell me why you're here. What does Connery need from you that he was willing to cash in a favor? Are you here to take out Morgan?"
"V, you know Connery doesn't operate like that! And, more to the point, you know I don't work that way. I am an agent-- NOT an assassin. No matter how much that smarmy pip-squeak pisses me off I wouldn't kill him. Not unless he was a major threat to world security which he's not. He's just a common mob thug that got lucky."
"Yeah Jer, but he does represent a threat to Bureau security and not to burst your bubble or anything-- Connery DOES work like that. Why don't you ask him about Munson's latest assignment. I think you'll find his answer rather disconcerting."
"V, what in the bloody hell are you talking about?" Jerry demands, "I don't give a rat's arse about the bureau. I'm here because I owe Connery. That's all. He asked me along to show strength against Morgan. When this is all over, I'm going back to the outback to continue drinking myself into oblivion."
V weighs all that Jerry had said and decides that he's on the up and up. "Jerry, there's a lot about Connery you don't know. He ordered a hit on Morgan and if I'd been trained by anyone other than you, Jason, Dara and I would all have been blown to smithereens the other night along with about a half dozen innocent people and an infant. Connery sent in Munson so I hope you understand why I'm a little on the cautious side about your sudden appearance." V filled Jerry in on the whole deal with Moreno. When she's finished, they both sit quietly for a moment. V is the first to break to silence, "Kind of feels like you've been kicked in the gut huh? I'm done, Jer; I'm leaving the bureau. Once Connery realizes I know everything I'll become a loose end. He'll probably come after me but I can't do this anymore. The cost is too high."
"I don't think he'll be in a position to do anything else, V. You're clear. After what you've told me, maybe my time to disappear back into the outback hasn't arrived yet. Someone needs to keep an eye on things and with you and Dara gone-- Damn it! I guess the pup is going to get his way. I might be the best one for the job."
"Maybe you better tell me about the meeting, Jerry."
Jerry nods and fills V in.
"Jerry, where's Connery now?"
"I don't know, V. I left him at Morgan's penthouse and from the look of things, I'm not so sure Connery will be alive for 24 more hours." At the look on her face he quickly adds, "Not because of either Jason or Dara but I DO know him, and I don't think he could live with himself now. Before he was caught, he could go on and pretend these things didn't happen, and weren't happening but the people he cares most about found out about his dirty deeds. The shame'd be more than he could bear."
V runs her hands through her hair and lets out a huge sigh, "I wish I could say I felt sorry him but I don't. How could he have let this happen?"
"I don't know, kitten, I don't
know. What I do know is it looks like I'll be in charge now whether I want to be
or not and I promise you, V, I won't let this happen again. I will NOT let the
WSB become a weapon for Morgan's use! V, since it'll be me in charge, would you
consider staying? I'm going to have my hands full and I'd like to have someone I
trust watching my back"
V shakes her head, "I'm sorry. I can't. My life is such a mess right now. I don't think I could do it. I'll stay on for just a little longer to help you clean house but then I have to go. Please try to understand."
"Is it Jax?"
"Yes, and no. What I feel for Jax, well, let's just say that a good agent needs to be focused, and needs to keep their priorities straight. I can't do it, Jerry, I've had a taste of loving someone and I want that in my life. Maybe not Jax of course. He doesn't even know I'm alive but I'm not giving up hope that there's someone out there for me and that I'm going to want to love and be loved without looking over my shoulder, or holding my breath waiting for my next assignment. I don't want a relationship that is based on a lie and that is all I have been doing since I hit Port Charles. I want children and having a WSB agent for a mother does not exactly fit in with a nice steadfast family life."
"Yes but V, Anna did it!"
"And look where it got her. Look at Robin."
Jerry threw his hands up, "Okay, you win. You got me on that one"
V gives Jerry a wry smile. "Stay in touch okay?"
She wipes a tear away as she gathers her things and heads for the door.
She turns around.
"What are you going to do?"
"I don't know, Jerry. I just don't know. Maybe paint, maybe talk to Jax about getting Dog and Bird published, making it a series, or maybe I'll take a friend up on her offer of going into business with her."
"And what business might that be?"
V giggles a little, "V. Ardanowski, P.I. at your service"
"Well now kitten, that kinda has a nice ring to it don't ya think?"
"Yeah, it does. Only problem is I can't seem to say it with straight face. It sounds like a movie with Kathleen Turner. Look, I better get back. You be careful with Jason okay? I don't want anything happening to you."
Jerry just stands there watching her leave, "Goodbye kitten" he says softly.
As V leaves the Port Charles Hotel she feels a wave of sadness wash over her. Memories of Jax flooded her thoughts and by the time she reaches the garage her eyes fill with tears. "NO!" she thought, "I will NOT go through this again! Damn! I thought I was over him!" V fights a brave battle against those tears but as soon as she entered the privacy of her car she surrenders and the tears flow unchecked down her face. After a short time she composes herself, takes out her cell phone and punches in the now familiar number.
"Hi Alexis, it's V. Look, I don't want anyone to worry or anything so could you let Carly or Jason know I decided to stay at my apartment tonight?", V dabs at a stray tear that had escaped. "No, no...nothing's wrong. I just have a few things to do there. I'll be back in the morning. Jason has the number and my cell phone number if he needs me. Okay, thanks Alexis". V snaps her phone shut and let's out a heavy sigh of relief that it was Alexis that had answered the phone and not Brenda. Brenda's the last person V wants to deal with right now. She starts her car and heads home.
As she opens her door V's immediately comforted by the familiar scent. A little musty smelling true, but it smelled like home nonetheless. She turns on the lights and opens the windows to air the place out. There's a light coat of dust over everything. Had she really been gone that long? She thought back to all that had happened. It had actually been kind of fun until Munson dropped his bombshell. That was the turning point. Everything had gone downhill from there. Feeling tense and out of sorts, V rubs her neck as she heads into the bathroom. On her way she stops at her vanity selecting a bath oil bead from the aroma therapy collection she had. Jax had given it to her awhile back when she'd put in some major overtime hours. He'd said that she needed to relax. V smiled at the memory and sighed, he was always doing little things like that. Well, he used to anyway until Brenda turned up in his life again. The frown on V's face deepens, "Best not to go there", she thinks. She looks in the mirror and speaks to the image looking back at her, " Get a grip and stop feeling sorry for yourself, Ardanowski! Life isn't a fairy tale and sometimes prince charming really is a toad" V rolls her eyes, then steps over to the tub and drew herself a bath. While the water was running V busied herself with lighting some candles, pouring a glass of wine and selecting a CD to listen to. A short time later she slips into the steaming water, wine in easy reach and leaning back, lets the tension she feels slip away. Feeling a little like Dorothy having just gotten home from Oz, she leaned and back, thought "there's no place like home" and let out a little giggle.
V did a lot of thinking during that bath and by the time she was finished and drying off she'd reached a very important decision. It was time to come home for real. Not just for the night. Her work was done. She'd found Robin, she'd seen that Robin was okay and now it was time to go. Besides, with all these feeling about Jax all stirred up again it probably wasn't a great idea to be rooming with Brenda. Even though Brenda had changed, with all the memories flooding back, V couldn't help but harbor a little resentment toward her. "Nope, rooming with Brenda would NOT be a great idea right about now" V determined. With those thoughts floating through her head, V climbed into bed and turned out the light.
Having had a restless night, V gets up early the next morning and heads over to Penthouse. Thinking she'd be the only one stirring at that hour she's surprised and somewhat annoyed to find Brenda of all people perched on a chair at the dining room table sipping on some coffee and looking downright perky.
"Hi V! Oooo, must have been a rough night, you look like hell!" she teases, with an ear to ear grin on her face, "Hey, let me get you some coffee. Where were you last night? I think something went down next door, but whatever it was it must have worked out okay cuz I had the most FABULOUS evening with Renaldo! I can't WAIT to tell you about it!" Brenda jumps up and headed into the kitchen to fix V her coffee. V, flabbergasted just stands there momentarily and watched the whirlwind that's Brenda. What had gotten into that girl? And then her words caught up to V..."Renaldo? You were with Renaldo last night? But what about..."
"Dara?" Brenda finished the question. "Long story. But don't worry. Dara is cool with it all. "She handed V her coffee.
V's heart sank even further if that was at all possible. Maybe Brenda hadn't changed. Maybe what happened to her with Jax was happening to Dara with Renaldo. "What is it with Brenda anyway? What do they all see in her?" V thinks to herself.
"...so what do you think? Can we, V?" Brenda asks.
V realizes she'd been thinking so hard on this that she'd missed Brenda's question, "Hmmm? What was that, Brenda?"
"Can we get in a work out this morning? I'm just feeling so...so, energized!"
"I'll bet." V mutters under her breath. "Look, Brenda, I don't think it's such a good idea right now. I'm not in a great mood and I need to talk to Jason."
"Please, please, please V! C'mon, it'll be fun! and it'll get you going. Looks like you could use a little energizing yourself. C'mon, please?" she pleaded.
"Brenda, you really don't want to spar with me right now..."
"No. I'm refuse to take no for an answer. Look, a good workout will help you work through whatever is bothering you."
"Yeah Bren but little do you know
that it's YOU that's bothering me!" V thought. "Okay Brenda, you win but don't
say I didn't warn you!"
A short time later V and Brenda are up on the roof starting the session with a series of Yoga exercises and stretches. When both are warmed up V takes Brenda through the basic movements, taught her a new move and soon enough it was time to spar. V shows Brenda no mercy. Time and time again, Brenda finds herself on the receiving end of a punch or a kick and time and time again she's knocked on her butt. Finally Brenda had had enough.
"HEY! Go a little easier would ya? What the hell is wrong with you this morning, V! Something has obviously got you upset, you're taking it out on me and I don't appreciate it! Now, why do you want to hurt me so badly?"
V, slightly out of breath stopped and looked at Brenda standing there, hands on hips, her eyes filled with a combination of fire, hurt and confusion and jaw set. "Would you believe PMS?" V quipped matching Brenda's body language. Brenda's eyes widened in disbelief, "You're gonna stand there and joke about this, V? You've been coming at me like I was your personal body bag! Geeze, you almost re-broke my nose! Again! No. This felt personal and I want...no, I demand to know what's going on."
V runs her fingers through her hair and looks at Brenda. "No doubt about it", V thinks, "Brenda has certainly changed."
"Look, Brenda, no offense but it's nothing you'd ever begin to understand. I don't even understand it. You're right, I was mad at you but I had no right t o be. I'm sorry. Maybe we better call it a day huh?" V turns and picks up her towel and water bottle preparing to escape but to no avail...
"So? Who's the guy, V and what does it have to do with me?" V turns to Brenda, "Who said anything about a guy?" "Gotta be" Brenda responds, "You have all the symptoms. Now what makes you so sure that I wouldn't understand huh? Cuz let me tell you something girlfriend, when it comes to unrequited love all I can say is been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. With all the gossip you've heard about me I'm surprised you didn't hear all about Jagger. So out with it V... who's the guy?" V just stands there trying to compose herself.
"It's Jax isn't it?" Brenda questions softly. V, overcome by all that had been going on in her life nodded as the tears fell from her eyes slowly at first then more and more quickly as V lost her tenuous hold on her emotions. Brenda walked over to her friend and held her as she let out all of her sadness and loss. "I'm so sorry, V. I guess I can't blame you for taking it out on me. If it weren't for that stupid breakdown of mine you'd be with him now."
V composes herself and squeezes Brenda's hand and wipes her tears away, "No, don't blame yourself. I've thought long and hard on this and I've decided it wouldn't have happened anyway. I'm just not his type."
"True, you're not needy, you don't need to be taken care of. But YOU are exactly what he needs. Ya know, I always figured that once I was out of the picture he'd turn to you. What happened?"
V gave a wry smile, "He did Brenda but I sent him away. I didn't want him to be with me while he was thinking of you and pretending I was you. You see, it was right after he received that video you sent him. That tore him up at first and he turned to me for comfort. Turning him away was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do, but I didn't want to be the rebound relationship. He's been playing the jet set playboy ever since. One thing has changed though, he is definitely over you now, Brenda. But he's also built a wall around his heart that is impregnable. His heart has been hardened so that no one can get in and after my rejection, he's cordial but that's about it."
Brenda's eyes widen. She'd wanted to hurt him with that video but she had wanted to hurt him so that he would move on, not shut himself off. "Oh V...I am so sorry. If I'd known..."
V cuts her off, "You probably would have done the same thing, Brenda. I understand. It's not like you had it easy either. I guess I just had some lingering resentment toward you because it's easier when you have someone to blame. In the meantime, I have to put Jax out of my mind. I have more pressing issues to deal with right now and unfortunately, even more unpleasant."
"Yeah? Like what?" Brenda asks with a glint in her eye.
V laughs, "Always ready for some excitement eh, Brenda?" V is quiet for a minute or two trying to decide just how much to tell Brenda. "I'm leaving today. I'm going home. I have to make some career decisions and my reason for being here is all taken care of now."
"Tired of the WSB?"
V's eyes nearly pop out of her head, "What did you just say?"
Brenda grinned impishly, "I said..."
V cuts her off, "I know what you said! Now, how did you find out? And who else have you told!"
"Oh! Don't worry V, it wasn't anything you did or said. None of the others know except for anyone that you may have told. Look, I'm a snoop. You'd never really explained your connection to Sonny and why he was e-mailing you so I poked around your laptop a little. Anyway, I ran across his emails and he more or less had spelled out that he knew you were... ya know."
"Brenda, my email, in fact everything is password protected on that laptop. How in the world did you break the code?"
"Jax. See, I just put myself in your shoes and I just kept punching in passwords. I tried passwords pertaining to cop type things, since you're a cop, then I figured you'd worked for Jax and I'd always figured that you had a crush on him so Jax was the key...I got lucky with Adonis" Brenda grins.
"In more ways than one" V mutters under her breath. "Looks like I need to be a lot more careful! Okay, so you got me. I am WSB but not for much longer. I'm quitting."
Brenda regards V for a moment, "What will you do V? Will just the PCPD be enough for you?
V shrugs, "I don't know. I need to think about my next move. I have other options to consider besides the PCPD. There's Dog and Bird for one thing."
"Yeah", Brenda replies slowly, "but are you really ready to work so closely with Jax again?"
"I've thought about that too and to be honest, I don't think so. At least not while he's on this playboy kick. I just don't think I'm ready to see the parade of beautiful but vacuous women ya know? There is one other option though. One where I don't have to give up law enforcement totally. I'd be able to have the excitement of the WSB or at least the PCPD but not have the departmental procedure hassles."
"Yeah? so what will you do? Become a bounty hunter? A mercenary?" Brenda teases.
V smiled, "Close. A P.I.. Felicia offered me a partnership. I'm thinking of buying Mac out."
"What? What are you laughing at? It's not THAT funny!"
"I'm sorry, I couldn't help it."
"What's so funny about my being P.I.?"
"Nothing V...that wasn't what I was laughing at."
"I just pictured the sign on the door...V & Flea Detective Agency, Inc."
V starts to laugh too, "Flea? where did you come up with that one? Never mind...I don't want to know" V grins. "Anyway, the sign for the door is a moot point right now. I still need to come up with the cash", she sighed.
"V, I can help. Remember that little weasel of a business manager that ripped me off? Well, he was found and my money along with him. Now...how much do you Ned?"
"Brenda, that's awfully sweet of you and everything but I can't take your money"
"Why not? Look, how much can it possibly be?"
"$5,000 more is all I need but Brenda, I can go to the bank and get a business loan."
Brenda laughed, "Five grand? That's it? Geeze, the way you were acting I was expecting a much higher figure! Look, V...why pay the bank interest on it? I'll GIVE you the money. Consider it payment for my Martial Arts training okay?"
"I haven't even come near teaching you $5,000 worth!"
"Well then, I guess you'll just have to continue until I'm a black belt or until the money us used up whichever comes first. Consider it payment in advance."
"I don't know, Brenda. Like I said, I'm going back home tonight. I won't be here to train with you every morning which means you'll have to venture outside of here." Brenda didn't say anything for a minute but then, very quietly she asked, "V, do you really have to go?"
"Yeah Bren, I do. It's time."
Brenda smiled sadly, "I understand. I'm gonna miss you though. I know that when push comes to shove everyone here backs each other up but let's face it, none of the others like me very much. V, you're just about the only friend I've got."
"Hey, there's Robin..."
Brenda gives a snort of disgust, "Yeah, right. Robin. I gotta tell ya V, I don't know if it's because I've changed or if she has but she is soooooo annoying these days!"
"Well, she's been through a lot."
"Now V...don't even try to defend her...she's annoying and you know it!" Brenda gasps "That's it! That's why your going...to get away from her! I'm on to you now!" she teases.
V shrugs, "Guilty as charged!" When V sees the look on Brenda's face, "Brenda, I'm just kidding! I told you why I'm leaving. Really!"
"Yeah, riiiight V, whatever you say"
V groans, "C'mon. We're done here."
Just before they reach the doorway Brenda stops. "V? Listen. About Jax...I really am sorry. Listen, what Jax thinks he wants is someone that is dependent on him, someone needy. Someone like I USED to be. What he doesn't realize is that is exactly what he DOESN'T need. He needs you V. And deep down, I think he loves you."
"Yeah, but as long as he doesn't
KNOW that he loves me and he doesn't THINK that he wants an independent woman
with a mind of her own...", Brenda winces, "Oh! Brenda I'm sorry... I didn't
mean to imply that you..." Brenda cuts her off, "It's okay V. You're right and I
was such a sorry case. Now, you were saying?" V continues, "Well, as long as he
doesn't think he wants to be with someone like me, what's the point? There's
nothing I can do about it"
"Fine, but I'm NOT going to let this drop!"
Brenda and V head inside to clean up.