|Give the Devil His Due
Author: Bad Faery PM
Jackson wants a lot of things. Revenge is first on the list.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 14 - Words: 22,718 - Reviews: 333 - Favs: 162 - Follows: 209 - Updated: 01-01-09 - Published: 08-27-05 - id: 2554990
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Lisa was back in a matter of minutes, dragging her bag behind her. He turned to make a snide comment, then found himself blinking at her in disbelief. "What the hell are you supposed to be?"
She dropped the bag and held out her arms, looking down over her all-black apparel: tight pants, a turtleneck, leather boots. She turned her head and he realized even her hairband was black. "I'm a spy or a counter-assassin or something," she informed him, and he felt his eyebrows lifting higher. "You know, like Emma Peel."
"You look like a mime," he informed her flatly. "The idea is to fit in."
"I'll change when we get there," and she blinked when he shook his head.
"Dressed like that, you're going to be strip-searched and flagged before we even get on the plane. Change now."
"Plane? Keefe's in Miami."
"Yes, but he won't stay there. His people will get him out of there as fast as possible now that they know someone's still after him. We're going to meet him at his next stop."
He shooed her back into the bedroom, speaking loudly enough to be heard through the closed door, "Aspen."
"I've never been to Aspen," Lisa commented, and he could hear clothes hitting the floor as she changed out of her black ensemble. Closing his eyes, he leaned back against the door, fighting the urge to join her, maybe help her pick out something more appropriate...
And probably get a right cross for his trouble. Lisa wasn't going to let him lay a finger on her until she was satisfied Keefe was safe. This was rapidly turning into far more trouble than he'd ever imagined it being. Oddly enough, he was almost enjoying it.
"You're not going to see much of it this time either. The next assassin will probably be staked out at Keefe's hotel. We need to find him first."
"Do you know him?" she asked, and he jumped a little as the door swung out from under him. Lisa emerged from the bedroom, this time dressed in tailored gray pants and a green top that made her eyes sparkle.
Mentally he shook himself, wondering when 'sparkly eyes' had become part of his personal lexicon. "Much better," he praised, tossing a few hundred dollar bills on the table to pay for the room and the decimated chair. Erik would understand. "I don't know. Probably. If I don't, I'll be able to identify him."
"How?" Lisa trotted along beside him as he picked up both their bags, leading the way back to the Mercedes.
"Center employees are trained to fit in. He'll be the person who looks the most like he's part of the landscape."
"Like camouflage?" Lisa asked, her nose crinkling, no doubt picturing someone wearing a jumpsuit made out of astroturf.
"Like the most benevolent, nondescript human being imaginable. Like an accountant, but less noticeable."
"What if we pick the wrong guy and get one who really is an accountant?"
"He'll be so shell-shocked a pretty woman is speaking to him that he won't care if you hit him in the mouth," he told her flippantly, handing over the keys, "We won't get the wrong guy. You drive."
For once she didn't argue with him, and he was a bit irritated to notice that she didn't have to scoot the driver's seat forward in order to reach the pedals. Maybe it would be easier to intimidate her if he were taller. "What are you going to do?" she asked as she pulled out.
Jackson opened the glove compartment, pulling out a prescription pad. "Bereavement fare," he told her, waggling it in her face before he realized that teasing her while she was driving might not be the world's greatest idea. "I'm sorry, Lil, but your beloved Aunt Mae just died."
"Lil?" she repeated in disbelief.
He ignored her, pulling out his phone to get them reservations on a last-minute flight into Aspen. The young lady at the ticket desk was appropriately sympathetic as he explained their needs, and he hung up with a smile, pleased that things were going smoothly for a change.
He kept a firm grip on her hand when they got to the terminal, but Lisa showed no signs of planning to cut and run. Instead she went through check-in like a pro, displaying no nervousness at his presentation of the faked bereavement notice that earned them a solemn pout from the agent and a murmur of sympathy that Lisa accepted with a completely straight face. He was really very proud.
The cracks in Lisa's facade didn't show until they were taxing down the runway with only the bright sunlight preventing the experience from being a carbon copy of their first plane ride. Frowning, he bit his lip, suppressing his instinct to distract her as the plane gained speed. She wouldn't appreciate it, he didn't think, not this time.
To his shock, he found his fingers being crushed by hers when the plane lurched into the air; Lisa grabbed his hand, her eyes squeezed tightly shut. He rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb, promising quietly, "You're okay, Leese," surprising himself by meaning it.
The connection lasted only moments. She tugged her hand out of his grasp as the plane leveled off, refusing to look at him as she muttered, "Let go." He released her without argument.
"You got it, Lil," his voice trilled over the silly nickname and he hid a smile as Lisa glared at him.
"Don't call me that," she demanded, turning her gaze out the window, muttering, "Makes me sound like some Old West showgirl."
The instant mental picture of Lisa clad in a cancan skirt and low-cut blouse, her hair done up in ringlets was more compelling than he would ever willingly admit. "Now you know how I feel."
"What was that, Jack?" she blinked innocently. "Oh, I'm sorry, Ian."
"For all you know, Jackson's not my real name anyway. Maybe it really is Ian," he taunted her.
Instead of looking confused, Lisa seemed captivated. "Is it?"
"Maybe." He leaned back in his seat, closing his eyes, pleased to have the upper hand for a change.
She swatted his arm, punishing him for ignoring her. "What's your real name?"
"Bet I can guess- let's see, you're sophisticated, so you must come from money. You're kind of odd-looking, so-"
"Odd-looking?" he exclaimed in disbelief, turning his affronted gaze on Lisa again, all pretense of boredom gone.
Insouciantly, she nodded. "Yeah, your eyes are kind of weird. I bet it's something foreign."
"My eyes are not weird," he protested. She was screwing with him. She had to be. Everyone commented on how great his eyes were.
"Liam?" she suggested, and he rolled his eyes- his fantastic eyes, he assured himself. "Declan?"
"I'm really not telling you now." He folded his arms over his chest, telling himself that he was not pouting.
"Well, if you're going to be like that..." Lisa paused, giving him an opening to say something else. He didn't. "I'm just going to call you Bob."
He winced, shooting her a pained look, "I think I'd rather you called me Jack."
She shook her head. "Bob, it is. Stay tuned for the ongoing adventures of Pecos Bob and Diamond Lil."
The comment came from out of nowhere, and before Jackson knew what was happening he was laughing uncontrollably, slumping forward to rest his forehead against the back of the seat in front of him. Beside him, he could hear Lisa giggling and every time he managed to regain some control, she'd add another detail to her Old West storyline.
"I can just see you in a plaid shirt and cowboy hat, galloping through the Santa Fe desert..."
"Plaid?" he protested, the image both hilarious and horrifying.
"Gambling... giving trick shooting demonstrations..."
"I'm a terrible shot." He finally managed to straighten back up, struggling to catch his breath.
"Fine, I'll be the trick shooter. You can pick people's pockets while they're watching me."
"You're supposed to be the sexy cancan dancer who distracts my poker opponents," he argued.
"Then we'll ride off on our trusty steeds: Scotch and Seabreeze..."
Jackson lost it again, laughing until his sides ached. Thank God she hadn't thought to do this on their first plane ride. She wouldn't have had to stab him with the pen, just gotten him laughing hard enough to make her escape.
On second thought, maybe it was a shame she hadn't.
Lisa had stopped laughing and looked a bit unsettled. As he watched, she pulled her jacket more tightly around her and resumed cloud watching, like the last ten minutes hadn't happened at all.
Reaching out, his hand hovered over hers where it rested on the armrest for a long moment, before he contented himself with brushing his fingertips against the back of her hand. "Hmm?" She still didn't look at him, but he could feel the force of her attention once again directed at him.
"Jackson," he said softly, somehow feeling like he owed it to her. "It really is Jackson."