Dara Jensen sat on the gurney in the darkened Triage of General
Hospital. Nervously, she kept glancing towards the door. Raising
her arm to glance at her watch, she winced. Her wrist wasn't broken;
fractured, the doctor told her. She was lucky all she walked away
were a few scrapes and fractures.
Detective Marcus Taggert and a few bystanders outside the courthouse had not been so "lucky."
"Come on, dammitt!" she hissed. "I need to get outta here NOW." Get some rest, the doctor had told her. Dara gave a short laugh as she shook her head. She seriously doubted sleep would ever come easily for her again. Resting her head against the wall, she closed her eyes, silently praying for just a MOMENT'S reprieve from the images which incessantly careened through her mind. No go. Whether awake or asleep, she couldn't escape yesterday's events. Glancing at her watch, Dara groaned as she watched the numbers become blurry. Damn. Those pain meds the doctor had given her were beginning to take effect. If only the meds could block out the pain from yesterday, she mused. Closing her eyes, she yielded to the power of the drugs, all the while knowing they'd have no effect on the thoughts which would follow.
Taking a deep breath, Dara, like the rest of the occupants at the Port Charles Courthouse, rose. Behind her, stood Detectives Alex Garcia and Marcus Taggert. Her Shadows. Since the trial's inception, she'd not made a move without either of them, sometimes BOTH of them, at her side. They, like she, knew what was riding on the outcome of this trial.
"This is gonna be a slam dunk!" Taggert smirked.
"I ain't gettin' too cocky, Marcus," Garcia replied. "But you're right," he smiled. "We've got Moreno. This case is airtight all thanks to the lovely assistant DA." Garcia reached forward and placed his hand on Dara's shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but for some reason, he got the feeling Dara was a tad unnerved.
Dara glanced over her shoulder, offering a small smile to Garcia, her game face firmly in place. It had to be. God knows she couldn't afford to fall apart now. Turning to face the judge, she cast a quick glance over at the opposite table. Seated there, a smug smile plastered to his ruggedly handsome face was Moreno. Dara swallowed hard, attempting to force back the bile rising in the back of her throat. What a smug S.O.B.; he really DOES believe he's above the law.
"Mr. Moreno," the judge intoned. "The command was for ALL to rise not 'all, with the exclusion of the DEFENDANT, rise.' " Perching her glasses on the bridge of her nose, the judge continued. "Now either rise from your chair of your own volition, or I assure you, 'assistance' will be directed your way."
"Whatever you say Toots." Moreno rose, smirking as he took in the look of utter disbelief on the judge's face.
"Has the jury reached a verdict?"
"Yes, Your Honor, we have."
The courtroom was eerily quiet; the only sounds which could be heard were the footfalls of the bailiff as he left the jury box and strode towards the judge's bench. The judge swiftly retrieved the paper, read the verdict, then passed it back to the bailiff. Picking up on the judge's impatience, the bailiff hurriedly crossed the room to return the paper to the jury's foreman.
"How do you find the defendant?"
"Guilty, Your Honor."
Within seconds, pandemonium reigned throughout the courtroom "WHAT THE Fuck?!" Moreno roared. Spinning around he grabbed his attorney by the throat. "Is this what I pay you millions of dollars for?!" he yelled. Murder in his eyes, Moreno watched as the attorney sank to his knees, all the while gasping for air.
"ORDER IN THE COURT! ORDER IN THE COURT! BAILIFF, RESTRAIN MR. MORENO!"
Dara, her palms pressed flat against the table, lowered her head and heaved a sigh of relief. She raised her head just in time to see Moreno charging for her. Before she could open her mouth to call for help, Taggert and Garcia were in between her and Moreno, who, although he was now being restrained by three guards, was still inching his way towards her.
"You're a dead woman! You hear me, Jensen?! DEAD!"
"Back the fuck up, Moreno!" Taggert roared. Meanwhile, Garcia grabbed Dara by the arm, hustling her away from the chaos.
"Run all you want, but you can't hide!" Moreno taunted. The guards now had him on the floor, attempting to cuff his hands behind his back. "I KNOW where you live; you hear me, DaraLee?!"
Upon hearing Moreno's words, Dara froze.
"Ignore him, Dara," Garcia replied in his most reassuring voice. "C'mon, let's get you outta here." Garcia gently tugged at Dara's arm. But instead of following him, she turned and headed back towards the melee which was continuing to unfold.
From the moment Moreno called her DaraLee, everything seemed to have happened in slow motion, a slow, dizzying blur.
She didn't remember her briefcase dropping to the floor, she didn't remember Taggert being restrained by the guards after having decked Moreno while his hands were cuffed behind his back, she didn't even remember Moreno breaking free once again from the guards and charging at her, knocking her to the floor.
All she remembered was the name he'd called her: DaraLee.
As she lay sprawled on the floor of the courtroom, Moreno's body atop hers, the sharp pain of his knee against her ribcage returned Dara to the here and now. She looked into his eyes and saw the look of a madman. If that look didn't chill her to the bone, what followed next surely served to.
With the guards violently pulling him off her, in a sing-song voice Moreno replied, "Nobody doesn't like DaraLee!"
Dara's hand flew to her mouth; her eyes, widened in shock. "No," as she shook her head. "No. NOOOOOO!"
As Garcia helped her to her feet, Dara drowned out the sounds of everything around her, and only focused on Moreno. As the guards led him away, he looked back at Dara, his eyes full of malice. "You've fucked up BIG TIME, Baby!" he taunted. "And don't even think about Shelter,' cause there ain't none for you no more!"
Alexis stood at the back of the courtroom in stunned silence, watching the entire scene unfold.
"You ready to go?" Mario, the driver, asked. "Mr. Morgan ain't gonna like you having come down here, you know?"
Alexis gave Jason's bodyguard a tight smile. "Mr. Morgan KNOWS I'm down here. I told him this morning I wanted to stop by," she lied.
Alexis gave a polite smile; she doubted the guard would understand. "You ever get a longing for something, something that used to really give you joy?" The guard nodded. "This," she waved her hand around the courtroom, "is 'that old feeling' for me." Her voice became distant. "It's been a long time since I've had the thrill of practicing Criminal Law. I guess I wanted to come down here and, I don't know, feel the excitement."
"Yeah, well I don't think THIS is the kind 'excitement' you were counting on!"
"Nope," Alexis laughed. "Excuse me. I'll be right back." Alexis maneuvered her way through the throng of people and was almost near Dara when she felt a rough hand grab her by the arm.
"And just where in the hell do you think you're going?!"
"Well good afternoon to you, too, Detective Taggert," Alexis replied flatly.
"You didn't answer my question." Taggert's voice was even.
God! The man was boorish beyond belief, Alexis thought. "If you MUST know, I was going to check on Dara."
"Since when did you two become friends?"
"We're not," Alexis replied evenly. "But I figured in light of the manhandling she just endured at the hands of Moreno, under the so-called "protection" of the PCPD," Alexis gave a short laugh as she eyed Taggert. "Well, I think it stands to reason she could stand a bit of a woman's touch when it comes to offering comfort."
"Daaaaaaaamn, Counselor! I had no idea you were into women!"
Alexis merely rolled her eyes as she breezed past Taggert. She wasn't EVEN going to dignify that comment with a response. "When, oh WHEN will someone put the citizens of Port Charles out of their misery?" she sighed.
"Dara?" No response.
Lightly, Alexis tapped Dara on the shoulder. After her unexpected throwdown with Moreno, the touch of a stranger's hands caused Dara to nearly jump out of her skin. She spun around, hands raised to strike.
"Don't!" Alexis threw her hands up in defense. "It's only me, Alexis."
Breathing a sigh of relief as Dara lowered her hands, Alexis informed her she only stopped by to check on her, to see how she was doing. "Well," Dara gave a short laugh. "I don't know how YOU respond to having your life threatened by one of the Mob's most deadly Dons, but I ain't doing too hot at the moment."
"Sorry. Stupid question." Alexis paused, her attention drawn to Dara's hands. They were shaking uncontrollably. Gently, she placed her hand over Dara's. "Dara! You're shaking like a leaf!" Dara remained silent, a faraway look in her eyes. "Look. I used to practice Criminal Law, I know all about the death threats, and how unnerving something like this can be." She clenched Dara's trembling hands. "I also know ALL about the double edged sword of being a WOMAN at a time like this: You're expected to have nerves of steel and balls to match. Nothing like a silly ass-whipping - which, unfortunately occurred under the ever-hungry, ever-watchful eye of the Press - is supposed to get you down. You're supposed to get back up, dust yourself off, then turn to the press and spout platitudes about "justice triumphing in the face of corruption" or some crap like that."
Alexis clenched Dara's hand, hard, so that she had Dara's full undivided attention. "I know your rep, Dara. You can play the role of Super Legal Eagle with the best of them. This Moreno guy is bad news. Even folks in the circles I travel in," Alexis paused, wincing as she realized that was no longer true. "Excuse me, the circles I USED to travel in, even those folks feared him. Please tell me you're not gonna try and play Superwoman after what went down in here, PLEASE tell me you weren't stupid enough to refuse any protection?"
"No," Dara replied absently. "I've got Taggert and Garcia."
"What?! Dumb & Dumber meets Starksy & Hutch?" Alexis was incredulous. "Dara. You've got power in this town. Pull some strings, dammitt! Pull some SERIOUS strings and get the FBI in on this. Never mind! A man like Moreno probably has stooges all over. Try the WSB - "
"NO!" Dara sprang to her feet, wincing as she pressed her hand to her side. "I'm NOT contacting them!"
"Okay, okay," Alexis replied calmly. "Well at least I managed to get a rise out of you, that means you're thinking. And that's good."
As Alexis turned to walk away, she took a parting glance at Dara. During the brief time she'd been in Port Charles, Alexis had heard of Dara's courtroom reputation: she'd chewed up and spit out some pretty vile characters. In short, a confrontation, even with a man of Moreno's rep, shouldn't have unnerved her THIS bad. No. There was something else. And then there was her almost violent reaction to the mention of the WSB. What was up with that? Reaching into her purse, she retrieved a card and scribbled her number on the back. Jason had already told her the phone lines were set up so that a trace on the calls was virtually impossible. He'd probably have a stroke if he knew she was giving her number to the assistant District Attorney, of ALL people. Still, call it woman's intuition, a hunch, whatever, but there was a feeling Alexis got when she looked into Dara's eyes that she couldn't quite shake. She recognized the look. It was the very one which stared back at her as she looked in the mirror the night she found Stefan's "calling card" in her bed.
For her very life.
"Look. There's obviously more to what just happened here than you're willing to talk about. Take this." She handed Dara the card.
"What, am I supposed to call you and we can bond over our various brushes with death?" Dara sneered. "Yeah. I know all about the little "gift" Helena Cassadine left in your bed." Absently, she ran her finger along the rough edges of the card. "Word around town is you're not a very popular person with the Cassadines. Now that I think of it, just where are you laying your head to rest these days, and more importantly, WHY are you interested in helping me?" Dara tossed the card on the nearby table.
Alexis smiled. At last the woman seemed to be returning to some semblance of life. True, she was insulting her. But it was a start. "First of all, I don't expect you to call me up so we can chat about which is more frightening - finding a viper in your bed, or being beat down my a pathological maniac. Secondly, don't believe everything you hear. And thirdly, and most importantly, the number on that card is not for public consumption, Dara. Like I said, you're not talking now, but when the shock of today's events wear off and you're ready to, use that number." Alexis held up her hand to silence Dara. Glancing towards the table, she picked up the card. "You might think I'm foolish, but I have a feeling I'll be hearing from you. And THIS is the only way you'll be able to contact me." She thrust the card at Dara, whose eyes were now dancing with curiosity. "I strongly suggest you take this and put it in a safe place." She gave a light laugh as she watched Dara pull back the collar of her turtleneck and stick the card down inside her bra.
"That 'safe' enough?"
"I think so. Well, I need to get going." She gave Dara's shoulder a light squeeze. "Be careful."
"Yes," as she turned to face Dara.
"IF I call you, what can you do for me that all the other folks you suggested can't?"
"I'M not the one who can help you." She offered a cryptic smile as she watched Dara's eyes fill with suspicion. "But let's just say I know someone who MAY."
And with that, Alexis Davis turned and left the courtroom, leaving a battered and stunned Dara Jensen in her wake.
"You ready to go, Dara?"
"It's time to leave," Garcia said softly. Glancing at his watch, he grimaced. Damn. She'd been sitting in the judge's chambers for close to an hour. "Sorry for the wait. S.W.A.T. was busy with a hostage crisis."
They made their way to the elevator. The entire ride was one of silence. As the elevator doors opened, Garcia turned to Dara. "The guards are outside, near the side entrance."
"Well, I hope they do a better job of protecting me OUTSIDE the courtroom than they did while I was in." Dara looked down the hall, an uneasy feeling coming upon her as she saw it was deserted. "Where's the other half of my shadow?"
"Taggert? He's out front. He'll be driving. Hey, I know, I know," as he shot Dara an apologetic glance. "It's not my fault. I lost the toss of the coin," he shrugged.
"You sure it wasn't one of those two headed coins?" Dara laughed.
They reached the end of the hall. Garcia was about to open the doors, then turned to face Dara. "Look, Dara. I'm really sorry about what went down inside the courtroom after the verdict. The PCPD was slack, pure and simple. We should've taken extra precautions. We didn't and as a result, he was able to get to you like he did. I want you to know how sorry I am."
"Apology accepted, Alex."
"Good," he smiled.
As they exited the courtroom, immediately they were surrounded by armed policemen. Glancing upwards, to her right, Dara saw sharpshooters positioned atop the corners of the courthouse. It sure seemed like they were definitely trying to make up for the fiasco which occurred after the verdict. At a hurried pace, Garcia and the guards hustled her past the media.
"I know it no excuse, but Moreno's reaction was totally unexpected," he replied. "There won't be anymore 'surprises' like that, I can assure you. In fact, as an extra precaution, we're not taking you back to your place." Ignoring Dara's look of surprise, he continued. "There's a safe house set up, over in Llanview,"
"Whoa! Why am I going to Pennsylvania? I'm safer right here, in plain sight, in Port Charles."
"Just a minute." Garcia whistled, signaling the officer at the foot of the steps. The officer was about to leave when he was stopped by Taggert. Shaking his head, Garcia chuckled. "Damn that Marcus. He's so used to not being allowed behind the wheel,"
"And with good reason!" Dara interjected.
"Yeah. Well, guess he figures he should make the most of every minute he's behind the wheel. With his driving record, the way he sees it, each moment he's at the wheel could be his last," Garcia laughed.
"Tell me about this safe house in Llanview." Dara's voice turned serious.
Her concern wasn't lost on Garcia. "Don't worry, Dara. Everything's set. We even managed to get a break on this. Excuse me, again." Garcia was fuming as he took in the scene unfolding on the courthouse steps below. Taggert was holding center court with that irritating reporter. Whistling sharply, Garcia got Taggert's attention, then motioned for him to get the car, NOW! "I'm sorry," as he turned back to Dara. "As I was saying about the safe house, we weren't gonna hide you 'til next week, but after Moreno's stunt, we had to move things up. Luckily for us, the WSB was willing to help out."
"Wh,wh,what did you say?" Suddenly, Dara felt her knees begin to buckle. Swaying slightly, she reached for Garcia's arm to steady herself.
She turned to ask Garcia to repeat his statement, because she was certain she couldn't have heard him correctly. In fact, Dara couldn't hear anything. There was a loud explosion, followed by intense heat. Then the strangest thing happened. Garcia was suddenly airborne, sprawling backwards through the air, feet and arms outstretched before him. And moments later, so was she.
When Dara finally came to rest upon the ground, her ears were ringing, or was that the crackling of glass underfoot she heard? She leaned forward, trying to raise herself then screamed loudly as she felt the shard of glass slicing into her hand. She looked for Garcia, but he was nowhere to be found. Steeling herself, Dara took a deep breath then yanked the 3-inch long shard of glass from the palm of her right hand. Immediately, blood began to gush forward. Somehow, she didn't know how, she managed to get to her feet.
GOTTA MOVE! KEEP MOVING, DAMMIT!
Staggering away from the carnage, she came to rest against a nearby tree. Looking up, she at first thought she was hallucinating, then realized she wasn't: That WAS a limb she saw dangling from the branch overhead. Dara began to wretch as the smell of burning flesh permeated her senses. Stumbling away from the tree, Dara paused. And just WHERE are you gonna go that they can't find you, she mused.
THINK, DAMMIT! *THINK*!!
Suddenly, Dara remembered her conversation with Alexis. Patting her breasts, she searched for the card. Smiling, she retrieved the card from the top of her bra. Don't that beat all? The explosion all but rips my shirt off, but the little business card remains intact, save for a few splotches of blood. Committing the number to memory, Dara then proceeded to tear up the blood-stained card and scatter the pieces. Just as she began to ponder WHOSE blood was on the card, she felt something warm oozing between her breasts. Looking down, she saw a gash above her right breast, oozing blood.
The gash was no more than an inch long, but it appeared to be very deep. Dara lightly pressed her hand to the wound, then nearly doubled over from the pain. There was something IN the wound. Inspecting the wound closer, she realized it was a piece of metal. All her years of training notwithstanding, even SHE wasn't brave enough to attempt to remove a metal shard without having some SERIOUS anesthetics nearby. Suddenly, she began to feel lightheaded.
I can't have lost that much blood, she told herself. Although her vision was becoming increasingly blurred, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the paramedics headed her way. Bracing herself against the tree, Dara fought to remain standing. But it was no use.
Her legs giving way, the last image she recalled before losing consciousness was that of Moreno, smiling triumphantly as he sneered, "And don't even think about Shelter,' cause there ain't none for you no more!"
Dara awoke to find she was still in the ER.
"Guess I wasn't dreaming," she laughed bitterly.
Easing herself off the gurney, Dara determined that if she wanted to remain alive, she'd have to LEAVE the hospital. She was a sitting duck. With her good hand, Dara violently yanked at the ties of the hospital gown. She was angry. That was good, she told herself. Anger, when used correctly, can be a good incentive, at least that's what her former partner always told her. As the gown fell to the floor, Dara shivered as she felt the breeze against her now nude body. Closing her eyes, she forced back the tears. This was no time to go soft. No. She had to be in control. All they had taught her, she'd use to survive. She could beat them at their own game. If she stayed alive long enough. Silently, she cursed herself for having called Alexis. What in the world kind of help could SHE give her? Sit tight; help is on the way, Alexis had told her. "Sit tight my ASS!" Dara hissed.
"You don't take direction well. We'll have to work on that."
Dara recognized the voice immediately. HE was her help?! Slowly, making no attempt to cover her nude body, Dara turned to face Jason. "So, YOU'RE Alexis' shelter from the Cassadine storm?" She quickly cast her eyes towards his ever present shadow, Rinaldo.
Slowly, Jason allowed his eyes to roam Dara's body. Crossing the room he stopped in front of her, then cocking his head slightly, stared at her intently. Unflinchingly, Dara returned his stare. "Well are you just going to stand there, or are you here to help me?"
Jason said nothing. Instead, he lowered his gaze to the stitches above her right breast. Lightly, he ran his hand across the incision, his eyes darting back to Dara as he heard her quick intake of breath. "Make sure you put some Vitamin E ointment on that. It won't scar as badly if you do. You look about the same size as Carly, these should fit you." He turned to Rinaldo, then thrust a duffel bag at Dara, who began to remove its contents: a pair of jeans, a T-shirt, a leather jacket, socks, and Keds.
"I'll be outside. You've got 10 minutes to get dressed." As he turned to leave, he cast a pensive look at Dara. "You've had a pretty rough day, so you don't have to give me all the specifics tonight; Alexis gave me a brief rundown of what you told her when you called." He paused, locking eyes with her. "But by this time tomorrow evening I expect to know any and everything about your history with the WSB Agent Jensen."
As the limousine pulled into the complex, Dara cast a glance at an obviously displeased Jason.
"We shouldn't be here," he replied evenly. "This is way risky. You know this is the first place they're gonna come."
"They've already been," she replied matter-of-factly. She turned to face Jason and held up her hand to ward off his forthcoming protest. "But they didn't find what they were looking for."
"You can't be sure." The limo came to a stop.
"Oh, I'm POSITIVE." Reaching for the door handle, she winced.
"You all right?"
"Yeah," she replied through clenched teeth. "Just some fractured ribs."
"That's it. We're heading to the Penthouse. Whatever "necessities" you
need, I'll have Carly go out and get for you."
"Your "concern" is touching." Her voice was dripping with sarcasm. "Look, in case what Alexis told you didn't register, let me reiterate: I'm a WSB agent, Jason. I'm in a bit of a tight spot right now, but I'm FAR from being the traditional Damsel in Distress. So don't insult me by presuming I'm some damn airhead who's not gonna be able to sleep tight unless I'm in my favorite flannel jammies!" she snapped.
"Hey, YOU came to me. Let's get that straight." Roughly, he grabbed her by the collar of the leather jacket. His eyes were positively glacial as he drew her face close to his. "For all I care, you can hop your pretty little banged up Secret Agent Gal ass outta this limo and keep walkin'. I won't lose a wink of sleep if I pick up tomorrow's paper and find the headline reads, "ASST. D.A. FOUND DEAD IN ALLEY." Releasing her collar, he shoved her back into the seat. "We're going back to the penthouse. That's final."
"Well, I know where you live-I'll see you there."
With a quick nod of his head, he motioned for Rinaldo to stop her from exiting the limo. With lightning-like speed, Rinaldo's hand was clamped onto Dara's wrist. Then the damnedest thing happened. Without so much as breaking a sweat, Dara rotated her wrist. It was a most freaky sensation, to be holding someone's wrist, then feel it kind of pop. The momentary pause on Rinaldo's part was all she needed, for suddenly, he was nearly on his knees as Dara proceeded to apply what was obviously excruciating pressure to the pulse point of his wrist.
"How-?" Jason's voice registered a grudging admiration that never quite reached his eyes.
"Double-jointed," Dara shrugged. She continued to apply pressure to the inside of Rinaldo's wrist as she locked eyes with Jason. "Now I don't wanna break Rinaldo's wrist, Jason. And I KNOW you don't want him to splatter my brains all over your nice tux." Coolly, she cast her eyes towards Rinaldo, who had somehow managed to unholster his piece before dropping to his knees and now had the nuzzle placed against Dara's temple. "Trust me, Jason. I NEED to get the things that are in my apartment."
Heeding Jason's signal, Rinaldo locked the safety, then slowly lowered the revolver.
"All right," as Jason opened the door. "But let's make it quick"
Hugging herself, Dara shuddered as she stood in her apartment. The fullness of it all was slowly beginning to sink in.
The Agency had tried to kill her- was still trying to kill her..
Jason looked about the room, frowning. The place was practically immaculate. The only sign of previous occupancy was a lipstick-stained glass of orange juice, obviously left by Dara, on the end table of the living room. "I thought you said they'd been here." Jason's voice was tinged with impatience.
"They have." Pointing, she directed Jason towards her computer. She headed down the hall to her room. "My login code is Songbird. The password is Raven-all caps," she called out.
Hitting the lights, she quickly made her way to the closet. Parting the slew of clothes, she knelt down and felt around until she found the cedar shelving unit which housed her shoes. It was one of those types which could be broken down in to separate compartments. Suddenly, she was thankful she'd heeded her former partner's advice: "When you need to hide something, Dara, hide it in plain sight." After a bit of jiggling, the side of the shelving unit gave way. She gave a relieved sigh as she saw the carpeting beneath was secure. Tracing her fingers along the edges, she continued until she found the area she needed, then giving a tug, pulled it back. Beneath was a safe with a combination pad which resembled the type one would find on a briefcase. Quickly, Dara dialed the combination.
"What in the hell are you doing?!"
"Shhh-" Dara replied in a hushed voice. Gingerly, she pried the safe open, slowly sliding her hand between the opening. When she was done, her shoulders sagged in relief. "Here, catch!" as she threw the object over her shoulder. His reflexes were always quick, but Jason nearly jumped out of his skin when he realized he'd just caught a grenade. "Don't worry," Dara chuckled as she glanced over her shoulder. "It's not alive."
The look on Jason's face told Dara he was NOT amused. "One more stunt like that and you won't be, either." Although the tone of his voice was positively lethal, Jason couldn't help but marvel at the way Dara was handling herself. She is SOME piece of work. The sooner I get her outta my hair, the better. She could be real trouble. Hell, what am I talking about? She IS: a hidden safe armed with a live grenade?! In her line of work, trouble is a prerequisite. "You almost done?" he asked impatiently.
"Uh-huh," as she reached down into the safe. "Just-one-more-THING!" She returned everything back to its original position, then rose. When Dara turned to face Jason, she had three items: A laptop computer-a small metal box resembling the type which could be used to file index cards- and a 9mm."Okay, we can go now," she smiled.
"I'm glad you find this amusing," Jason sneered.
"I don't." They made their way down the hall. "But if I don't try and keep it light, it's only a matter of time before I crack up. What did you find on the computer?"
"Nada. You were right. They WERE here. I guess your password was supposed to take me straight to the WSB files?" Dara nodded. "Well, those have been wiped out. Any connection you had to them, or more importantly, that THEY had to you?" He shook his head. "It's gone."
Dara smiled as she tapped the small metal box. "That's what THEY think!" When they reached the door, Dara paused. Wistfully glancing about the room, she pursed her lips, shaking her head as she lightly touched the gauze bandage on her forehead.
"I did everything I was taught to do-played by all the rules," she said softly. "Everything was black and white. I worked for the "good guys." Folks like you and Moreno were the "bad guys." Let me take that back. It's an insult - not to mention poor form in light of the fact you're saving my ass - for me to compare you to Moreno. The man's scum-less than scum," she frowned. Shaking her head, she gave a short laugh. "And it turns out this `scum' is a former Agent, who's been in bed with the Agency all along-with their blessing." Jason looked at her questioningly. "Alexis was the second person I called. The first was my former partner. Jerry Jacks."
If he was surprised, Jason didn't show it. He said nothing, taking it all in. "Go on."
"Now it all makes sense why he's distanced himself from the Agency. He found out about Moreno and his deal with the WSB. Turns out Moreno was a real loose cannon and the Agency dropped him. But when he began trafficking drugs, some of the folks upstairs had a change of heart. Turns out a lot of his "business" was based here on the Eastern Seaboard. I always wondered why I was sent to Port Charles. Now I know. Getting me settled in here was nothing more than a well calculated front to give Moreno an "in" with the Port Charles legal system if he ever got into trouble."
"And you knew about none of this?"
"Nope. About a week ago, I was approached by some folks within the WSB to conceal evidence against Moreno." Again, Dara gave a short laugh. "Well, being the dutiful Agent, I of course went to my superior. I was then informed that the agents who approached me would be dealt with, to carry on-proceed with introducing the evidence." She paused. "Now it makes sense why Moreno looked so smug. He thought everything had been taken care of. He was probably told I was gonna play along."
"The oldest trick in the book. Play both sides against the middle."
"Yeah. Only problem is, the Agency was backing Moreno's `side.'" Sighing, Dara rubbed her forehead. "If it's all the same to you, I'd like to take you up on your deal about telling you everything 24 hours from now?" As Jason nodded, Dara smiled her thanks. "You know, I really did believe I worked for the good guys." She gave a bitter laugh. "And THIS is how they repay me?" Glancing at Jason, whose face was expressionless as always, Dara offered a tight smile. "Never mind me. I'm just bitching."
Shrugging, Jason opened the door. When he turned, he saw Dara, her knees buckling, about to hit the floor. "Whoa!" as he caught her.
"I'm all right-I' m all right," she mumbled, still clutching the safe's contents. "It's just a mild concussion." The only thing missing from the look Jason shot her was laser beams. "Oops. Did I not mention that?" As she attempted to stand, her legs proceeded to once again go out from under her.
"No, you DIDN'T," he hissed. "Gimme that." He took the pistol, tucking it in the back waistband of his pants. "Can you carry those?" nodding to the laptop and the box. Dara nodded lazily. "All right then." Propping Dara against the wall, Jason fiddled with the lock, then swept her up in his arms. "Get the lights," he barked.
"Do you ever say the word "please"?"
"Not if I can help it." They headed down the hall. "Can you get the elevator?" Leaning forward, Dara reached for the button, then, suddenly feeling lightheaded, slumped back. Looking down, Jason grimaced. Damn! She's unconscious. It took a bit of juggling, but he managed to hit the button for the elevator. Eyeing Dara, he shook his head. "I'd bet good money there's nothing MILD about your concussion, Lady. Damn thing's probably full blown."
"No it's not," she murmured. Her eyes closed, her voice was groggy, as if she were fighting sleep. "I've had one before-this is only a little one. My first year in the WSB, I had a full blown concussion, punctured spleen, and a broken hand."
"How'd you come by those?" Jason entered the elevator.
Dara began to snicker. "I was standing in the wrong spot when somebody decided to toss a grenade."
Although he tried his best not to, Jason felt a tight smile forming at the corners of his mouth. She really IS some piece of work, he thought. "Looks like trouble is your middle name," he said softly.
Nearing its landing, the elevator began to shake violently. Flung all about the compartment, Jason tightened his hold on Dara. Then, as quickly as the tremors began, they passed.
"Are we here yet?" Dara asked groggily.
"No. Go back to sleep."
Heeding Jason's command, Dara closed her eyes once again. Although the enormity of her situation was gradually sinking in, for some reason she was overcome with a feeling which could only be described as peaceful. Damn. Those pain meds must have some sort of delayed reaction, she thought. For at that moment, the fear which had been her constant companion since the explosion seemed to have dissipated. Either that, or maybe she really DID have a full blown concussion. As the elevator doors opened and Jason stepped out into the dimly lit parking garage, Dara nestled her head against his shoulder.
Or maybe it was the fact that for the first time in the past 48 hours, she had cause to believe she was safe.
Rinaldo smirked as he took a still sleeping Dara from Jason's arms. "Looks like Jane Bond here is down for the count."
"Far from it-FAR from it."
Motioning for Rinaldo to wait before entering the limo, Jason gingerly pried the laptop and box from Dara's grasp. He already had the small metal box open by the time he entered the limo. Just as he suspected, he found computer disks inside. Putting the box aside, he whipped out his cell phone. "Carly, its me. Yeah-I'm on my way home. Listen, I need you to go next door and tell Alexis to get the extra room ready." As the limo peeled out of the garage, Jason paused, the faintest hint of a smile forming at the corners of his mouth. "We've got a new guest."
Jason sat at his desk in his office, swearing profusely at the laptop computer before him. On the way to the Penthouse, Dara had given him the password before drifting off to sleep once again. Yet, he still was unable to access the info on Moreno. He'd even gone through every single disc that was in the box. What a waste of time that had been. The information on the disks - coded entries and, from what Jason could tell, false names - may as well have been written in Hebrew. Dara had told him to forget about trying to decipher what was on the disks, only she could understand it. Jason being Jason, of course, he ignored her counsel. As he prepared to shut down the computer, out of the corner of his eye, he saw the disk Dara had told him WOULD be of some use to him. Jason had asked her what it contained. "My life-at least what I USED to believe was my life," had been her reply. "Everything you'll need to know about me and my history with the WSB is on there."
"What the hell," he sighed. "May as well find out what makes Jane Bond tick," he laughed mirthlessly. Inserting the disk, he leaned back in the leather chair and stared at the screen. Before him, the complete history of one Dara Lee Jensen whizzed by:
Dara Lee Jensen. Born October 8, 1965. Only child of Frank and Lila Jensen, both killed in a plane crash when Jensen was 12. Became a ward of the State of Florida when no immediate family was available to claim her. Ran away from foster home at age 13 when repeated allegations of sexual (?) abuse filed by Jensen were never investigated-
A series of rapid knocks at the door interrupted Jason's concentration. "Boss?"
"Come in, Johnny." Jason downsized the screen, then turned his attention to his somewhat frazzled guard.
"Carly told me to come get you. She was kinda hysterical so I really couldn't understand her. She said something about the baby not breathing right."
The moment Johnny uttered the word "baby," Jason was half way across the room and on his way out the door.
Alexis was seated on the couch in the living room reviewing Liz's petition to be declared an Emancipated Minor when she heard the door to the upstairs bathroom open.
Slowly, Dara descended the stairs. Pursing her lips she muttered, "Ugh! Who bought Ultra Brite?! That stuff's NASTY!" Spotting Alexis, she nodded. "Good morning."
Alexis nodded in return, smiling. "Good EVENING, actually." Dara gave her a quizzical look. "It's nighttime. Almost midnight, to be precise. You've been dead to the world since Jason brought you in last night." Looking down at the oversized denim shirt, Dara asked, "You mean I've been out for nearly 24 hours?!"
"Just about." Noticing Dara still looking at the shirt, Alexis fought to suppress a small smile. "It's Jason's. You were awake long enough to put it on, then you hit the sack."
"Okay," Dara replied slowly, all the while nodding her head. She made her way to the kitchen and began opening the cabinets. It may have been nighttime, but her body was convinced it was morning, and that meant breakfast-which meant CEREAL.
"If you're looking for something to snack on, try the cabinets to your right." Alexis rose and made her way to the kitchen counter. Once there, she found Dara shaking her head as she eyed a cabinet stocked with about 16 boxes of cereal-all the same type. "Jason said to tell you he wanted to see you once you were up."
"Okay." Dara closed the refrigerator. Precariously balancing the gallon of milk, box of cereal, and a rather large bowl, she made her way to the counter.
"I don't recommend you keep him waiting." She paused. "Patience is definitely not a virtue of Jason's," as she cleared her throat.
Dara paused as she placed the bowl on the counter. She couldn't be positive, but she could swear there was the strangest lilt in Alexis' voice-especially when she said Jason's name. Tucking that thought away in the back of her mind for future pondering, she closed the box of cereal and prepared to leave. "Well then, I guess I'm off to hold court with Junior Mafia," she chuckled. "I was gonna tell you to make sure all the Fruit Loops don't get eaten before I get back-but I don't think there'll be a problem."
Incredulous, Dara stared at Alexis. "I take it Frosted Flakes or Captain Crunch never crossed the breakfast table over at Wyndemere either, huh?"
"No. Cereals weren't exactly a breakfast staple for the Cassadines," she replied sheepishly.
"Too bad. You missed out on some good stuff. Here." Dara handed Alexis the box. "Allow me to have the honor of giving you your first experience with Toucan Sam," she smiled. "I'd tell you to knock yourself out, but with your virgin palate, the sugar rush might kill you. Start slow- maybe half a bowl; then if you're feeling really bold, you can try for a WHOLE bowl," she winked.
"Uh-thanks," Alexis laughed.
Dara headed for the door, then pausing, turned to face Alexis. "I've gathered there are three of us in this place. Since you're not the cereal type, they must belong to Contestant Number Three. Who is it?"
"Yes." Alexis rolled her eyes. "If you ask me, she should still be in that rubber room Jason got her out of," she replied disdainfully. "Really, Dara. She's loopy as hell! The other day, she was ranting about how there was nothing here to eat that suited her tastes. So she DEMANDS that one of the guards takes her to the grocery store, which of course, he CAN'T-no one's supposed to know she's still in Port Charles. The guard reminds her of this and asks her for a grocery list. All the while, he's still keeping his cool, even though she's giving him a MAJOR attitude. After making the poor guy wait for 45 minutes, she comes downstairs, her hands empty, and tells him to use his imagination-bring her back something he thinks she'd like. So he leaves-"
"And returns with a six month's supply of Fruit Loops!" Dara guffawed.
"Yeah," Alexis replied, beginning to laugh herself.
Composing herself, Dara dabbed at the corners of her eyes; she'd laughed
so hard she was in tears. "Fruit Loops. That's too poetic!" as she
crossed the room. "Well, I have to say this: if nothing else, my stay
here looks like it's gonna be a real trip." She opened the door to find
Brenda on the other side. Stifling the irresistible urge to laugh, Dara
smiled instead. "Evening, Brenda," as she walked out the door.
Brenda turned and watched Dara go down the hall towards Jason's Penthouse. Entering, she looked at Alexis. "Lemme guess-we've got a new roommate?" Alexis nodded as Brenda closed the door. "Well guess she needed more than an "angel" watching over her," she smirked.
Dara sauntered up to the door of Jason's Penthouse.
"Please. Call me Dara. I'm here to see Jason-he's expecting me." Rinaldo nodded his head as he opened the door. "Hey, Rinaldo." Dara turned to face the man who nearly 24 hours ago, she'd literally brought to his knees. "Sorry about your wrist. It wasn't personal. Strictly business."
"Don't sweat it, Dara." He offered up a chilling smile. "My thoughts exactly if I woulda had to pump a bullet in your head."
Dara nodded, returning the smile with equal chill. "Nice to know we understand each other, huh?"
Entering the Penthouse, Dara found the living room empty. Noticing
light filtering from beneath a door to her right, she made her way down
the hall. She opened the door and was about to step into the room when
she was violently jerked backwards.
"Just what in the hell do you think you were doing?!" Jason had Dara by the collar of the shirt, pinned against the wall.
"You know, you really need to expand your vocabulary. Can't you think of a more menacing line than that one?"
Locking eyes with Dara, Jason's hands quickly dropped to her wrists. Grabbing them tightly, he pinned them to her sides. "Don't EVEN think about kneeing me in the groin," he hissed. "I'll ask you one more time-what were you doing in my office?"
"You-summoned-me," she sneered. Incredibly, Dara was thankful her hands were pinned to her sides. For if they were free, her temper might have gotten the better of her and she would've slapped Jason. As she stood on the receiving end of his blistering gaze, she realized that would NOT have been a good career move. "Alexis told me you wanted to see me as soon as I was up. I'm up. I'm here. You weren't in the living room. I saw the light from beneath the door. Makes sense to me."
Searching her eyes, Jason reasoned she could either lie under pressure like nobody's business-or she was telling the truth. Opting to go with the latter, he released his hold on her wrists. "I'm sorry." He walked away. "I'll talk to you sometime tomorrow. Now is not a good time."
"Fine. You know where to find me."
Standing near the wet bar, Jason downed his drink as he watched Dara walk away, her hips swaying slightly. He could tell by the way his shirt fell over her behind she wasn't wearing any underwear. He shook his head as he realized she'd walked past the guards outside in the very same attire. "C'mre, Dara." She turned to face him, her brow raised. "Please," he replied flatly.
Dara crossed the room, coming to rest in front of him. Setting his drink down, as he locked eyes with her, he peeled back the collar of the shirt, checking the scaring of the incision above her breast. Still holding her gaze, he reached down and gently took her by both wrists. Suddenly, he drew her to him, covering her mouth with his in a hard kiss. To his surprise, Dara parted her lips. Without thinking, Jason allowed his tongue to probe the recesses of her mouth-dancing, dueling with her tongue. Just as the kiss was increasing in its fervor, Dara bit down on his tongue. The bite wasn't hard enough to cause injury, but she drew blood.
Jason drew back, a cryptic smile on his face; his eyes, as always, revealing nothing. "You didn't like that, did you?" he asked. "Uninvited guests rarely tend to be received warmly." He paused, his intense gaze fixed upon Dara. "Do we understand each other?"
"Completely." She returned his stare. "You're the Boss-long as I respect that, my stay here will be a pleasant one. If I don't-well, I don't want to entertain the consequences. Obviously, your office is off limits-unless an invitation is extended, correct?"
"Which I rarely do."
"Understood." Dara was silent as she looked Jason over. "When you're ready to discuss things, send for me. Whatever you need from me, I'll give freely. My mind is at your disposal." She paused, offering up a wry smile. "Everything else of mine? It's like your office-off limits, by invitation only." She turned to walk away. "And like you, I rarely extend `invitations.' Good night, Boss," she called out without looking back.
As he watched Dara walk away, Jason lightly touched his finger to his
still throbbing tongue. A wry smile on his face, he turned and headed
for his office.
Alexis and Brenda were still up when Dara entered the Penthouse. Nodding towards both women, Dara walked past without saying a word. "Well, she ain't walking bowlegged," Brenda smirked.
"Not yet," Alexis muttered under her breath. Suddenly, Alexis was overcome by a wave of jealousy. Dara was right. The three of them under the same roof WAS gonna be a trip.
Leaning against her bedroom door, Dara closed her eyes.
Rolling her tongue over her lips, she smiled. The taste of Jason's Tequila-tinged kiss was still fresh. Tequila. Exactly what she'd expect a man like him to drink. He probably even eats the worm, she chuckled. Turning out the lights, she allowed the slivers of moonlight filtering through the blinds to be her guide as she made her way towards the bed. As she climbed beneath the covers, she reflected upon the events of the past 48 hours: In that span of time, she'd gone from crusading District Attorney-slash-Secret Agent to residing under the room of the head of the Eastern Seaboard's biggest Syndicate. The moment she called Alexis, she had the feeling nothing would ever be the same again. When Jason showed up to announce he was the "protection" Alexis had spoken of, her feelings were confirmed. Dara Jensen and Jason Morgan on the same side?! As Luke loved to say, who'da thunk it. Closing her eyes, Dara once again licked at her lips, giving a wry laugh.
Oh, yes-the worm has DEFINITELY turned!
Carly and Alexis are the first at the table waiting for the others they start chatting about stuff. Carly leans forward her eyes inquisitive. "So what happened at the benefit?"
Alexis replies ruefully leaning forward as well her hands wrapped around a coffee cup. "You probably would have loved it. What a mess! Luke noticed the necklace-- right off."
Carly laughs. "I KNEW he would! So... was he bent out of shape?"
Alexis shakes her head. "I don't know. About that time Jason sent me on an errand. Jason told me in the limo to not be alone with either Stefan or Luke because he wants them both to know that there are a new set of Rules in play.
Carly grimaces. "RULES! Jason is an absolute tyrant where rules are concerned. The one knock down drag out fight we've had has been about rules. I thought he was never going to speak to me again. I started asking him questions about something he figured was none of my business. He went from zero to sixty in nothing flat.
Alexis nods. "I've seen that."
Carly replies, "He never touched me but he was so cold I would rather have had a fat lip! I never want him to be that mad at me again. You were Tony's attorney so you know what kind of mess I was in. If Jason hadn't made up with me and been there for me I would have lost Michael. He set things up so I would have a relationship with Bobbie, and Luke hasn't threatened me ONCE since I moved in with Jason."
"If I may be blunt-- you've changed a lot since you hooked up with Jason."
"Not really. I'm just not angry anymore. And I realized now what blood ties can really mean-- that whole nature versus nurture thing that I thought was such bull back in school played out in the real world. How much blood can be overcome with environment. You've had your own experience with angry Spencers."
"That's true--But I hope you're wrong because the blood running through my veins could be hazardous to everyone's health."
Alexis leans back in her chair. "Jason wouldn't have cared if I went in to my room and was never seen again or about pulling a no show at the benefit. You set it up! You set it all up! You wanted me to be seen with Jason and picked the most public forum." Carly says nothing just takes a sip of her coffee as Alexis processes the new information.. "You haven't changed a bit have you?"
"NOT-- ONE --BIT." Carly replies smugly Just then Emily comes down the stairs cutting short the women's conversation. "Hey Em. Howzit going?"
"Okay I guess. Jason's still up with Michael. Those two are so cute together."
Alexis laughs. "Don't let Jason hear that. I don't think 'cute' is what he strives for."
"What do you have planned for today, Em?"
"Rinaldo is going to drop me off at school." Emily makes a face. "I think he wants to check the place out. He and Jason had a chat yesterday."
"OH GREAT." Carly replies sarcastically, shaking her head. "That means one of two things-- either there's drugs on campus or a narc."
"Or a third," Alexis adds her eyes narrowing. "He thinks someone knows that Emily is staying here. Moreno is a pig and crazy. I don't think waiting for sentencing in jail is going to slow him down any."
"DAMN you're right! Em, this guy Moreno is as bad as Dorman ever dreamed of being. It wouldn't matter if you were here or at the mansion; if he figures he can mess Jason up through you, he will. You see anything weird, tell Rinaldo. I'd stick close to Lucky too. He's normally pretty good at spotting the creeps. Although he's like his father, he likes to stir things up but he'd make sure you were okay first."
"Or Nikolas. Normally wherever one is, the other isn't so that'll cover the bases. What's the school policy on cell phones?"
"We aren't really supposed to have them but the only ones that get confiscated are the ones that are ringing."
"I'm going to be here or my office at the hospital today so you can take my cell phone." Alexis decides. "The number is new so the only people calling would be one of us."
Carly nods. "I like that idea and I think Jason would too."
Brenda comes out of the kitchen blowing on a cup of hot chocolate. She's dressed in sloppy sweats and her hair is tied up in a knot. "What would Big Brother like?" Brenda gives Emily a one armed hug then sets down the chocolate to give her a firm squeeze that Emily returns.
"Me carrying a cell phone to school for emergencies."
"That sounds reasonable; 'course me and reasonable haven't been on speaking terms for awhile!" Brenda jokes. "So what is for breakfast? Some idiot bought a bunch of sugar cereal for the other apartment. If I eat that ....crud I'll be weighing 300 pounds before Jason can get me the hell out of here."
Alexis snickers then covers by taking a sip of her coffee avoiding Carly's questioning gaze and Brenda's glare. Carly replies semi-diplomatically. "Well then nobody would recognize you."
Brenda's glare turns on Carly who shrugs her shoulders in reply. Brenda changes the subject through gritted teeth. "So what emergency could it be?"
Emily attempts to smooth the waters with her hurried answer. "Alexis and Carly think that someone may be causing trouble for Jason and might use me to do it like Dorman did."
"Well if you are around Jason then you'll be in the line of fire and you either have to deal with it or get the hell away."
"I think that you are exaggerating. If you are careful and learn from other people's mistakes there is no reason to panic. Nothing has happened to me while I've been with Jason." Carly interjects reassuringly.
"I guess that just proves how unimportant you are!"
"Listen, you psycho bitch, if you think that I am going to put up with your insults at this table you are going to finally have that sliced up face that you fantasized about for so long and you won't ever have to worry about being recognized!"
"Oh my-- have I struck a nerve?" Brenda gets right into Carly's face her eyes glowing and her step bouncy as she bites of her words sharply and probes for weaknesses. Alexis picks up her coffee cup and steps back to the thankfully bulletproof and reinforced windows. Alexis waves Emily over by her. Emily looks over to the stairs where Liz is now settling in on one of the treads to enjoy the show. Liz reaches into her bookbag for her pack of cigarettes; she stares at it wistfully wafting the unlit smokes under her nose before regretfully returning the cigarettes to the bag.
Just then Rinaldo lets himself in the front door after a soft rap that went unheard and unanswered. "Oh Jeez!" He takes in the sight of the two women toe to toe with Carly towering over the petite Brenda. He shakes his head and makes his way over to Alexis and Emily. Settling in next to Emily, he says in an undertone that doesn't reach the combatants. "I was wondering when this was going to happen."
Emily looks at him entreatingly. "Aren't you going to stop it?"
"NO way. Do I look stupid? I'm not getting between those two." When he sees Emily's shocked expression he decides to explain further. "It's like the kids at school, Em; you break them up too soon and then the fight will move and escalate. You've seen it... teacher breaks up a tussle in the hall and the next thing you know you have a brawl after school. Don't worry I won't let them kill each other."
Just then Dara comes from the kitchen having found the corridor between the two apartments that passes through the kitchens after discovering herself alone in the other apartment. "Whoops looks like y'all are busy. I'll just come back later."
Emily looks at her with all the rage built up from the years of dealing with the police and district attorney in Port Charles. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? WHY ARE YOU HERE? HAVE YOU COME TO ARREST JASON AGAIN?! WHY DON'T YOU JUST LET HIM ALONE! HE HASN'T DONE ANYTHING WRONG!"
Emily's outburst distracts the two combatants who turn and in a blink of an eye take in the situation. Carly moves to reassure Emily. "No, Em, she is just staying here because of the explosion at the courthouse yesterday."
Emily tries to move around Carly to get a clear view at Dara. "It's a lie. She hates Jason. When ever something goes wrong she arrests him. She arrested him for Dorman, she arrested him for Valentine, she tried at arrest him for SAVING NIKOLAS' LIFE. She'd arrest him for a rainy day if she could. If she was actually doing her job then she would have caught the guy that shot Jason or the one that shot Nikolas but she doesn't care about that all she wants to do is put my brother in jail! It's a set up. Where is your warrant? You can't be here without a warrant! Alexis, tell her she has to leave... TELL HER!" Rinaldo comes up behind an escalating Emily and puts his hands on her shoulders.
"Emily..." he says softly. "Come on, Em."
Emily turns around swiftly and wrapping her arms around Rinaldo's waist she buries her face in his chest. In a muffled voice she asks as she cries. "Tell her she has to leave-- tell her." Rinaldo awkwardly pats Emily on the shoulder and back as he glares at Dara for getting him into this mess.
Jason calls from the landing midway down the stairs where he stands holding the baby. "What in the hell is going on here?" Liz pops up off the stair she had been sitting on and moves out of Jason's way. Emily lets loose of Rinaldo and runs upstairs snagging Michael from Jason's arms taking him back up stairs with her. "Carly?"
"Let her go, Jase. The baby will calm her down. Nobody told Em that Dara was here. Her appearance caused a ...shock."
"Why is she so upset?"
"Boss, She associates Ms Jensen with you getting arrested. Emily thinks that Ms Jensen is setting you up."
"Well the is a reasonable assumption and a reasonable reaction then." Jason nods understanding and walks down the stairs the subject closed as far as he is concerned.
Liz walks over to Brenda who has been rolling her eyes at Jason's reactions. "Do you want to go up on the roof and have a smoke? It's about the only place that nobody gets tense about." "Whatever-- I just smoke over in the other apartment." "Actually Brenda, I'd been meaning to speak to you about that ..." Alexis begins. Brenda raises her hand in a silencing motion. "Is the roof offer still open?"
Liz grabs her book bag and throws it over her shoulder. "Come on it's not so bad there is actually a little gazebo thing up there with a space heater." Practically pushing Brenda out the door Liz keeps talking. "So what was it liked to be locked up? I mean-- I've been grounded most of my life how bad could it be?...."
"Well that wasn't quite what I had in mind for Liz to get Brenda out of here." Jason shrugs. "Whatever works. Why don't we all have a seat." As the women and Rinaldo sit down Jason picks up some folders and deals them out like playing cards: Alexis, Carly, Dara and Rinaldo. Giving everyone a chance to look at their folders, Jason goes to check on breakfast. Within minutes he is seated at the head of the table and Graciella is bringing in hot plates of juevos rancheros with warm tortillas. Jason smothers his in more salsa and begins to refuel. Graciella goes back into the kitchen shutting the door firmly behind her.
Carly looks up from her folder. "Oh Man, Luke is going to have a conniption."
"You've been doing the books with me for months. I'll still look them over but I don't see why you can't handle it. We've always done the books here anyway."
"This doesn't mean you are getting out of our pool games though." Carly says questioningly.
"No Way. Although it's kinda like taking candy from a baby."
"HA HA for that you lose this week, Morgan!"
"Right. You need to set up some household books as well. This many people here I need to know at a glance what is going on."
"Probably an appointment book too as crowded as this place is getting." Carly adds.
Jason grimaces. "I hope it doesn't come to that, but I'll handle it. Good. Rinaldo, you're going to be taking the girls to school so you're next. Do you have an questions?"
"Not one. I'll see you later, let you know how it goes." Taking the one sheet from his folder with the one word on it, Rinaldo shreds it then throws it into the fireplace. Rinaldo goes upstairs to get Emily. About a minute later, Rinaldo is back with Emily her eyes are dry, but puffy and her jaw is tight.
"Michael is playing in his crib; he had a bottle up there but he'll want his breakfast later."
"Thanks Em." Carly rises and gives her a hug. "I'll bring Michael with me when we come to pick you up. Maybe you and he can sneak into the mansion to see Lila."
"Okay." Rinaldo and Emily leave to get Liz.
Jason focuses on Dara. "I want everything that you and your ... sources have on Moreno. Every soldier, every asset, every person that he has in his pocket including the name of your WSB superiors who were dealing with him."
Carly about comes out of her chair. "What?! She's a what?"
Dara replies. "WSB Agent."
"But they have had a falling out. And Dara, I really wish I'd known you were going to firebomb your apartment before we got on the elevator. We would have taken the stairs. How's the concussion?"
"It hurts, but I'll live."
"So how do you want to handle this?"
"I know one person I can trust inside the agency but he's been staying away from the office-- now I know why."
"Not much of a friend if he didn't warn you." Carly interjects. Her eyes convey her fury at the realization that Dara had endangered Jason and her words are chopped short. Jason covers Carly's clenched fist and squeezes it warningly. "I'm going to check on Michael. Let me know when she's gone." Carly rises pushing her chair back abruptly Carly slides Jason her half empty plate that she is done with. He spreads more salsa over the leftovers and digs in before further detailing his concerns ignoring Carly's flounce up the stairs.
"You're on a roll-- first Emily and then Carly."
"I'm sorry about Emily; she's a sweet girl, too much has already happened to her."
"I'll talk to Emily but she has a legitimate concern."
"Believe me, I never thought I'd be here. What are you going to do with the information?"
"You don't want to know. Let's just say-- all connections between Moreno's organization and the WSB will be ... severed."
"I need a secure phone line."
"All the phone lines are secure and swept regularly."
"I knew that yours was. Is there any word on Garcia?"
"He's in about the same shape as you were in: concussion, lacerations, but he had to have his spleen removed so he's still in the hospital. As soon as he's back on his feet he'll be knocking on my door. Why?"
"Because he's a good cop. And he had no idea what was going down. Taggert either."
"Taggert was an ass. And not a good cop either. He lost more cases for you than he won."
"He didn't play by the rules but then neither do you."
"Oh but I do. They're just my rules. And I'd advise you to get on Carly's good side. She runs the house and everything that you need goes through her."
"Is that a rule?"
Jason considers briefly. "Yeah, I guess it is."
Alexis takes off her glasses folding them neatly on top of the open folder. She is stunned by the contents of the folder and her poker face has slipped abit. Jason watches her curiously as she tries to find her composure. "Well.... Well, " Alexis repeats herself and then clears her throat. "You want ME to watchdog ELQ?"
Jason leans forward pushing his empty plate away. "I want ELQ so clean that Ned squeaks. You know all of the players. Justus and I are fed up with them. If it weren't for Lila and ELQ, I'd never set foot in that house again. So you're going to proxy my shares. You and I will go over everything. I've already made some notes where Ned and the old man are trying to slide things by the next board meeting."
"I saw those; I see what you mean."
"By the time you go to that meeting I want you up to speed: facts, figures and everything that they are trying to hide. I want you in their faces. I also want Jax off that board. He is insinuating himself too much into ELQ activities. He's ripe for another takeover attempt. You shine a light on what he is doing and he'll go scurrying under the nearest furniture. I want you to analyze J&J of Alaska-- I know there's some dirt buried there. Sonny and I found some of it. Find out where they're weak and we'll use our percentage of the ELQ dividends to start pulling the foundation out from them."
"Who are planning to take over-- ELQ or J&J?" Jason just smiles and says nothing. "Okay I'll prep for both. What happened to only being interested in what happened in YOUR TOWN?"
"Jax is playing in my town. As far as I'm concerned ELQ belongs to Michael and Emily. Anything that Jax does to harm the company harms them. It's not going to happen. Alexis?"
Alexis looks up from the notes she'd been frantically scribbling. "Yes?"
"The international company that is pushing the docks project... It's a Cassadine front, isn't it?"
After a long pause. "Yes, I recognized the name."
"I would have thought Stefan would wait. This is too close to the Jakarta deal. "
"STEFAN would wait. I don't know what Stefan has planned. I was out of the loop from the Jakarta deal on." Alexis answers. Jason starts thinking his gaze goes flat momentarily then he starts grinning.
"What's so funny?" Dara asks.
"Jax used an older displaced female family member before. Felt sorry for him then maybe I should feel sorry for him now. Wonder who he's in bed with?"
Alexis gets an instant mental picture despite all efforts to block. "Ewwww that's disgusting. But I thought that Jax was smart?!"
"And arrogant. He played Tracy for a fool and walked away with no losses."
"I'll see if I can find any connections ."
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