Jason and Dara were in the limo, on the way
back to the Penthouse. "Does
it really have to go down like this, Jason?" Dara groaned.
"I guess you'd rather I rent a video or something?" he smiled. "We both know the only way to do this is hands-on. And you can't get that from a video."
"Yeah, you're right." Dara reluctantly offered up a smile as she shook her head. "I don't know which makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up more: the thought of me and Carly in the same room as a loaded handgun or the idea of BRENDA having access to one."
"Will three days be enough time?"
"Not for them to be good but to make them familiar with the weapons; it'll have to do. How many of them besides Alexis have any experience with firearms?"
"Great." Dara pinched the bridge of her nose. "My headache just went from bad to worse," as she massaged the back of her neck. The only thing worse than a nut job like Brenda with a gun, was a nut job with NO IDEA how to use a gun, she mused. "Do I REALLY have to let Brenda near a handgun?"
"Afraid so, they already are. This is actually way overdue." Jason nodded. "Hey, I'd rather she learn how to use one the RIGHT way and be able to protect herself, than find herself in need of protection and be totally clueless."
"She ain't too FAR from clueless right now, if you ask me."
As he watched Dara slump back into the seat and sigh, Jason eased his hand behind her and lightly began to massage her neck. "Damn, you're tight."
"Tension has been my middle name since the day Moreno went on trial." A low moan escaped Dara's lips as Jason's fingers went to work.
"You really should do something to relieve all that tension," as he leaned in. "It can't be good for you to let it build up like that." His hand was now making its way around front, slowly undoing the buttons of her shirt. Once done, he slipped his hand inside, gingerly tracing the outline of the scar above her right breast. His finger was soon replaced by his mouth.
Her eyes closed, Dara ran her fingers through Jason's hair, her breath catching slightly as he slowly flicked his tongue over the scar. "And you're willing to help me "release" all that tension?" she murmured.
Raising his head, Jason locked eyes with Dara. "Every last drop." Dara was about to respond when the limousine came to a stop. "We'll finish this "discussion" later." As Dara buttoned her shirt, she looked over at Jason; the smile on her face an almost mirror image of his. Absently, she stroked the scar as she watched Jason depart the limo and head towards the Penthouse.
'Round midnight; PCPD Headquarters .
" No, they don't have any new leads on the Jensen broad." The cop paused, looking furtively around the police station before continuing his conversation. He was calling from a pay phone, still, he wanted to be sure no one was within listening range. "I couldn't get on the case 'cause Garcia, the cop who was guarding her, he volunteered. Yeah. The one who wound up in the hospital after the explosion. Him and some new rookie chick P., T., wait a minute V.! That's her name. They're snooping around in Jensen's background."
"Tell me something I don't already freakin' KNOW!" Moreno barked. "You said you called me to give me a tip." Silence. "Am I supposed to GUESS, or are you gonna tell me?"
"The man of the hour just breezed past. That's why I didn't say anything."
"Damn. It's almost midnight and Garcia still there?"
"Yeah, well it seems you ain't the only one with a hunch Jensen ain't dead. He spends every waking minute here at the station either poring over notes from the trial or reviewing the video tape of the scene inside the Courthouse the day your verdict came back."
"Oh, yeah," Moreno said quietly. "I'd almost forgotten the verdict was televised." A sinister smile touched his lips as he recalled the rush he felt when he had Dara pinned to the floor, trying to beat the life out of her. The smile quickly disappeared as he recalled that thanks to the video, his face was now one of the most recognizable in all of Port Charles, thus his reason for having to lay uncommonly low, even for Wiseguy standards. "What's Garcia up to?"
"I think he's trying to make some connection between you and her. And when he's not doing that, he's trying to bust Morgan's balls. Garcia got that V. chick snooping around all Morgan's old hangouts, especially that club, "Luke's" but so far, nada."
"What's your take on Garcia? Can he be bought?"
"Nope. He's Old School. I'm telling you, man, you'd think he was bangin' the Jensen broad the way he took the news of her "death." Turns out he's just got a case of the guilts," the cop snorted. "Guess he takes that "To Protect and Serve" crap to heart."
"He been over to the Penthouse to roust Morgan yet?"
"Nope. No cause. Morgan's been so clean lately, he squeaks. 'Sides, word on the street is he's laying low gearing up for a War. Which leads me to my tip. This could be nothing, but I figured it might mean something to you just the same: I know a snitch who bangs one of the hands over at this target range outside of town; she was griping about how she was gonna have to spend all this time with him since the owner of the range gave all the help the rest of the week off. Seems some bigwig has bought up time on the range for the next three days and Mr. Big Shot wants complete and total PRIVACY. 'Cept for the owner, NO ONE is allowed on the premises."
"Is that a fact?" Moreno smiled. "What's the address of this range?" Moreno motioned for his Lt. to come over as he scribbled the address down. "You done good. If this tip pans out, look for TRIPLE your usual bonus." He hung up the phone then turned to his Lt. "Get some men over there to scope this out and get back to me."
"Boss, look at the time. The place is closed."
"So? Any news on the Scorpio chick?" The Lt. shook his head, the slightest trace of worry crossing his face. Unfazed, Moreno leaned back in his chair, crossing his hands behind his head, a satisfied smile on his ruggedly handsome face. "I still want her found. But in the meantime, if this turns out to be something we can use, it just may prove to give me an extra bit of leverage with Morgan."
Next day; somewhere in the Basement of the Penthouse .
"I thought we were going to the shooting range today?" Brenda yawned.
"Change of plans," Dara shrugged. Stifling a yawn herself, she held the door open as the rest of the usual suspects filed in.
"Well, this better be good," Carly replied curtly. "The only time I'm up this early is when Michael's not feeling well. And why doesn't Alexis have to be here?"
"Geesh," Liz muttered. "We got to skip school for THIS?!" She turned to Emily, who appeared to be even LESS awake than she was, if that was possible.
"I know. It's bad enough I have to eat dinner with her, but now I have to get up at the crack of dawn so she can flip me around on a mat?"
"Aw, c'mon, Emily," Rinaldo chided. Closing the door, he fell in behind her and Lizzie. "You can't tell me you're not gonna get even the SLIGHTEST kick out of being able to throw a punch at the former Assistant D.A .especially after all the grief she gave Jason?"
Emily pondered the thought for a moment. "Well ," as her eyes began to sparkle. "Now that I think about it ."
Dara, dressed in sweat pants and a tank top T-shirt, walked to the center of the mat. "Okay, ladies. According to Jason, I've got three days to teach you the basics of self defense. I know some of you were looking forward to going to the shooting range," as he cut her eyes over at Brenda, "but I've decided to save that for last, since it's the most important - and DANGEROUS - of the self-defense tactics we'll cover and if you are ever in a situation where you need to use a firearm I doubt that you will feel on your top form-- all relaxed and stress free. With any luck, by the time I'm done, all of you will be able to flip a man the size of Rinaldo with the greatest of ease and know that afterward you'd be able to shoot what you were aiming at."
"Oh, I can 'flip' him, all right," Brenda smirked as she stole a glance in Rinaldo's direction.
"So let's all pair off and get started, okay?"
Brenda immediately made a beeline for Rinaldo, her eyes practically boring a hole through him as she took in the sight of him in sweats and a T-shirt. Emily and Lizzie paired off, which left .
"Carly," Dara replied coolly. "Guess you and I are partners, huh?"
Carly and Dara were about the same height, of similar build. And although Dara's body seemed to be quite taught, Carly figured, Dara's WSB training aside, she could probably match her blow for blow. Hell, she grew up in South Florida in a pretty rough neighborhood. She learned to fight early on the "street" way. And the first rule of "street fighting" was, There ARE No Rules. Chuckling silently, Carly decided she was gonna enjoy the HELL outta this!
Three hours later .
Emily and Lizzie had managed to discover they could do back bends.
When Rinaldo wasn't busy trying to keep Brenda from grinding her butt against his crotch, she'd actually managed to ALMOST flip him over her shoulder.
And Carly and Dara? Under the guise of "self-defense," both had landed stinging blows to each other's ribs, chest, legs, and back. "Damn!" Dara groaned as Carly proceeded to flip her for the umpteenth time. "You SURE you didn't do a stint at the Police Academy when you were growing up in West Palm?"
"Not unless you count being hauled in on a shoplifting charge when I was 16," she smirked as she extended her hand to Dara. The minute she turned her head to check on Em, Carly regretted it. Suddenly, Carly was airborne; flipping head over heels as Dara used her feet to somehow hoist Carly's off the mat and upend her. Carly came down on the mat with a resounding thud.
"Rule Number Two in Street Fighting: Never Turn Your Back," Dara winked.
As Carly took Dara's hand, Dara's eyes on her the entire time, she couldn't help but chuckle. "What do YOU know about Street Fighting?
"I grew up in South Florida, too. My motto used to be "A Good Run Beats a Bad Stand ANY Day" but that only worked for so long. When I wound up in Child Protective Services, especially some of those so-called "halfway houses" they put you in?" She shook her head, laughing bitterly. "My motto quickly became, "Kick Ass or Get YOURS Kicked!" "
"I didn't know you were a foster child."
"Yeah. Became a ward of the State at 12 when my folks were killed. For the most part, the System sucks. But every now and then, a kid can luck out and get a really nice set of foster parents. I wasn't so lucky." Dara paused, a pained expression crossing her face. "But enough about my Childhood From Hell," as she turned away.
The entire time Dara told her brief but bitter tale of Foster Child Hell Carly was silent. She had not missed the look in Dara's eyes when she'd said that she wasn't one of the "lucky ones." Carly knew that look. She'd seen it time and time again during her stint on the streets when she left home at 18. "That's why you learned to defend yourself," Carly said softly. "It wasn't school kids you had to fend off, was it?"
"Nope." Dara paused, her voice becoming distant. "It's one of the worst feelings in the world. To stand by and not be able to do ANYTHING to protect yourself as someone ." Dara's words trailed off as she closed her eyes, forcing the memories and images back into that dark corner of her mind. Regaining her composure, Dara turned to face Carly, her game face once again in place. She cast a glance at Emily and Lizzie, both of them laughing. "The world Jason lives in aside, they should be able to enjoy being kids to enjoy their adolescence. Their innocence. 'Cause once it's gone, you can never get it back," she said softly. "But, if I do my job right, at least I'll be able to make sure they'll be able to hold their own if someone tries to take it from them," as she turned to walk away.
Alex Garcia sat at his desk, waiting for a fax of a copy of a phone bill.
After doing enough digging into Dara's past to bore a hole all the way to China, he'd come up with squat. It was as if she had no life before she came to Port Charles. His superiors at the police station dismissed it as her being an intensely private person. But Garcia's gut told him something else. Still, for all his research, he only wound up running into wall after wall in his attempts to come up with clues regarding Dara's disappearance. He refused to believe she was dead. And the more he replayed that video from the courtroom, the more convinced he became he was right. After pulling some major strings down at the local phone company - and promising to take the overzealous clerk out to dinner - he'd managed to procure a copy of Dara's phone bill from the previous month. Thus, his vigil beside the fax machine. As the fax machine began to show signs of life, Garcia wheeled his chair over and began to scan the list of numbers. So far, all the numbers checked out. Except one. As he hurriedly dialed the number, he waited while the overseas operator connected the call.
"Excuse me? J&J Jacks of Australia? Sorry, wrong number." Garcia paused. "Excuse me, ma'am? What are your hours? I see," as Garcia nodded his head. "And do you have an answering service? Ah, it forwards the calls to the recipient of the caller's choice. No, that will be all. Thank you very much for your time." Garcia hung up the phone, a quizzical expression on his face. "V, you spent time with Jax Jacks, didn't you?"
"Mmm, hmm," she mumbled between bites of a veggie sub. "I used to work for Mr. Jacks, Detective Garcia."
"Please," Garcia sighed. "Call me Alex."
"Sorry, Detective Garcia. Uh, I mean, Alex." Garcia was looking at her expectantly. "I don't see the connection."
"Me neither. Did he and Dara I mean, Ms. Jensen did they have a relationship, to the best of your knowledge?"
"Aside from a professional one - meaning when she was involved in pressing charges against against Mr Jacks for the possession with intent to distribute cocaine and then when she was pressing charges against Miss Barrett for that Tin Man fiasco? No. Why do you ask?"
"I'm just trying to figure out why there's a call on Dara Jensen's phone bill to Sydney, Australia?"
"Gee, that IS unusual, sir."
"It gets even stranger. The call was made the same night her apartment was firebombed less than ONE HOUR before."
"If you're trying to implicate, Mr. Jacks in this sorry sir, no go. I was with him that night, over at his Penthouse. We heard about it on the late evening news." Garcia shot her a knowing look. "Detective Garcia!" V. gasped. "I was briefing him on the leads I had in his search for Miss Barrett; you do know don't you sir that she hasn't been seen since she left the mental facility? Mr Jacks is extremely concerned about her."
"He's STILL messing around with her?" Garcia asked, incredulous.
"Yep," V. sighed. "At one point, he was even gonna contact his big brother Jerry and ask him to use some of his WSB contacts."
"His brother's an Agent for the WSB?"
"Uh-huh. To hear Mr. Jacks tell it, although he's more of a rogue than an agent, he's a real natural for the work. A real adrenaline junkie. Loves the thrill of going in, assuming new identities, taking down the bad guys stuff like that."
"Wait a minute back up. What's that bit about assuming new identities?"
"Mr. Jacks didn't talk much about his brother's work, but he said a large part of why it was so hard to keep track of his brother was because he bounced from place to place, all over the world and almost always, under an assumed identity. You ever see that Schwarzenegger movie "Eraser"?" Garcia nodded. "That's kinda what Mr. Jacks' brother does. When he's not deep undercover using a fake identity, he's CREATING them for other folks."
"You don't say?" as Garcia pensively stroked his chin. "Where does he live?" Slowly, Garcia began to rise from behind his desk, all the while slapping the copy of the bill against his palm.
"Nowhere, really. Mr. Jacks said he's got a real serious case of wanderlust. He's all OVER the place. But he uses Australia as his home base." V pauses after what she just said sinks in. "Ohhh, Sir, Do you think...?"
"YES, BABY!" as Garcia swung his fist in the air. V. looked at her new partner with a mixture of shock and curiosity. Picking up on the latter, Garcia pocketed the phone bill. "Finish up, V.. I need you to go pay a visit to your old boss, Mr. Jacks and pump him for all the information you can get on one Jerry Jacks, WSB Agent."
The Main Penthouse
"Ooh," Carly winced. "Take it easy, will ya?" She groaned as Jason helped her into her turtleneck shirt. The groan gave way to a moan as Jason began to plant kisses along her back, one for each of the bruises.
"I take it that makes it all better?" Jason grinned as he stood, slowly allowing his hands to fall from Carly's waist.
"Mmm, hmm," she smiled. She paused, arching her brow. "You gonna do the same for Dara? 'Cause she looks just as bad, if not worse."
"I thought you were gonna make nice, Carly?" Jason shot her a wary glance.
"I DID," she smirked. "I kept my strongest shots all below the face. And I took it easy on her arms, since I knew she'd need the use of 'em today."
"You really got a kick outta going toe to toe with her yesterday, didn't you?"
"Is it that obvious?" she smiled. Jason nodded. "Yeah, well I'm sure she got a kick out of it, too she sent me flying through the air so many times yesterday, I thought my name was Superman." She paused. "She really knows her stuff, you know?"
Jason eyed Carly. That was the most she'd ever spoken of Dara without having something negative to say. Dara, for her part, had done likewise last night. She'd told him that Carly was "the perfect woman for this type of life"; she then jokingly added that if he ever needed a replacement for Rinaldo, she just might be able to do the job. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you two were actually starting to like each other," he chided.
"Don't get crazy on me, Jase. She's okay that doesn't mean she's suddenly my best buddy." Donning her jeans, Carly began to wince, a low hiss escaping her lips as she pulled them past her crotch area.
"You okay? You're looking kinda green around the gills?"
As she zipped the jeans, again, Carly hissed. Taking in Jason's quizzical look, she waved him away. "Don't ask," as she headed for the door. The more she thought about it, the more pissed she got. "DON'T ask."
The Underground Garage; Harbor View Towers . "Hey, Johnny, what's the station that plays Classical music?"
"Rinaldo," Dara replied in a surprised voice. "Why are you riding up front?" as she eased into the limo.
"The same reason YOU are: I don't want to be anywhere in the vicinity of Carly and Brenda if they decide to throw down while this car is moving."
"Carly still steamed over Brenda's cheap shot on the mat yesterday?" Wincing at the mere thought of the kick Brenda had landed to Carly's crotch, Dara crossed her legs.
"Uh-huh. She's lucky the girls were there. If they weren't, Carly would've kicked Brenda's ass up one side of the room and down the other." Rinaldo looked over at Dara, who was resting against the leather seat as if it were a bed of nails. "Looks like Carly did a pretty good job on you, too. How's your back?"
"It hasn't been this sore in a long time." She massaged the right side of her back. Without thinking, a wry smile crossed her face as she muttered, "A LONG time."
"Damn, Miss Jensen. You into the stuff that leaves bruises?"
Rinaldo was staring straight ahead, his face set like flint. But Dara could see the slightest hint of a smile forming at the corners of his mouth. Such a pretty mouth, she smiled to herself. "You know, Rinaldo, I told you the first night I arrived at the Penthouse you could dispense with the 'Miss Jensen' bit. I mean, why so formal? You've seen me as naked as a newborn baby I'd think after THAT "introduction" we'd kinda be on a first name basis."
"I think it goes like that when BOTH parties are naked, Miss Jensen." There was no longer a hint of a smile; it was full blown.
"You offering, Rinaldo?" Dara purred.
Rinaldo turned to face Dara. They held each other's gaze for a second, then began to laugh.
"You are such a freakin' TEASE, Jensen," as he shook his head.
"No more than you, Rinaldo-- no more than you," Dara replied knowingly Rinaldo raised a brow. "The walls in Brenda's room AIN'T as thick as you two think!" she snickered.
Rinaldo was about to respond, when the back door on the passenger side swung open.
"C'mon, Ladies," as Johnny snapped his fingers. "We got a long ride to the range." He held the door open as Lizzie, Emily, and Carly piled in the back. Brenda was about to enter the passenger side up front when Johnny stepped between her and the door. "Sorry, Miss Barrett. Front's already full, you'll have to ride in back."
"Johnny," Brenda pouted. "You KNOW I wanted to ride up front with you."
"And RINALDO," Carly snorted.
Brenda shot Carly a venomous look, then turned her attention back to a now somewhat flustered Johnny. "C'mon, Johnny," she purred. Standing on her tip toes, she snaked her arms around his neck. "Just this once?"
"Sorry, Miss Barrett." Johnny thought he'd burst right out of his pants when he felt Brenda's hands against his neck. Calling upon all his resolve, he fought to keep his hands from trembling as he peeled Brenda's away. "M-m-m maybe on the ride back, huh?" he stammered.
As Brenda sulked her way into the back, up front Dara merely shook her head, having overheard the entire exchange. "She is SOME piece of work," she laughed.
As he peeled out of the garage, Rinaldo smirked, "Why do I get the feeling that's NOT a compliment?"
A shooting range; somewhere on the outskirts of Port Charles...."No, no, Emily...ease up on your grip," Dara replied softly.
"Do you HAVE to literally look over my shoulder while I try and do this?!" Emily snapped.
Dara took a deep breath. A loaded 9mm in the hands of a nervous teenager, who was NOT her biggest fan? Not a good mix. She expected some hostility from Emily, but nothing along the lines she'd been getting for the past couple of hours. "Okay, Everyone. What say we take a break for a bit?" Dara called out. Realizing no one could hear her over the gunfire, she caught Rinaldo's attention and gave the signal for him to tell the others to stop shooting.
"I wanna keep practicing," said Lizzie. "I'm getting the hang of this!" A quick nod of Rinaldo's head told Dara he'd keep an eye on her.
"Well, I'm gonna stop for a bit." Carly replied. "Hey, Em. Didn't you mention something about that shop across the street? Why don't you come with me? There's something I wanna show you." As they filed past Dara, Carly gave her a look as if to say, "I'll take care of it."
Dara smiled her thanks. As she watched them near the door, Dara suddenly was aware there was someone behind her. She turned and found herself face to face with a 9mm.
"Pop quiz, Spy Girl," Brenda sneered. "You're staring down the barrel of a loaded gun...with enough firepower to leave a hole in your head the size of a melon. And the person holding it was recently sprung from a rubber room and has had a REALLY bad week. What do you do...what DO you do?"
Time seemed to stand still in that instant. No one moved. Emily and Carly seemed frozen in place near the door. Johnny's hand was on his piece, but he knew by the time he drew it, one false move on Brenda's part and everyone would be peeling Dara's brains off their clothes. Rinaldo stood in front of Lizzie, slowly motioning for her to stay behind him - partly to shield her, should Brenda actually shoot Dara and the bullet become a stray; mainly, to try and get the drop on Brenda if Dara wasn't able to first. And Dara? The whole time, her eyes never left Brenda's. When she finally spoke, her voice was so still, so soft, a pin dropping to the floor would have made more noise.
In the instant Brenda's eyes darted to the gun, Dara swung and landed a stinging right hook squarely in the center of Brenda's face. As the gun fell from Brenda's hand, Rinaldo and Johnny called out in unison for everyone to hit the floor. Both men waited for the sound of gunfire. It never came.
"MY NOSE!" Brenda wailed. "You BITCH! YOu broke my NOSE!!"
With lightning-like speed, Dara picked up the gun, then slammed Brenda against the wall. "You're lucky I didn't break your flipping NECK!" Dara hissed. With Brenda still pinned to the wall, Dara turned and addressed her stunned roomies. "I'll say it one more time because apparently SOME of you," as she glared at Brenda, "DIDN'T understand me the first go round." She held the gun up for all to see. "This is NOT a toy. You DON'T go waving it around for kicks. When you point this gun at someone, you're pointing it for one reason and one reason only: to shoot them. And the chances are tremendous that when you DO have to shoot, the person you're shooting is gonna want to take more than your wallet, or your best leather coat. That person's gonna want to KILL you. So when you shoot, you don't shoot to hurt...you don't shoot to immobilize. You are shooting...to...KILL." When Dara turned to face Brenda, her eyes held the same lethal quality as did her voice. "Does everyone here UNDERSTAND that?" Brenda, still clutching her nose, could only nod, as did the others. There was brief uncomfortable silence, then everyone went about their business. When Brenda turned to leave, she was yanked back by Dara.
"Not so fast, Froot Loop." Dara leaned in until her face was inches from Brenda's. "Just IN CASE you didn't get all that, here's the gist of it: The next time you pull a gun on me, you'd better be ready to shoot me...or die trying. So help me, if you EVER try any crap like that again, I'll shove the gun so far down your throat they'll need to call in a search party to find it!"
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