Rating 》 T-M for Profanity, Adult Situations, Violence and Sexual Content

Pairing 》 Jack/OC

Disclaimer 》 Fandoms, canons, music, references and source material are not mine, but this plot is. No monetary profit made.

Author's Note 》 For fanart, fanmixes and fanvids, go to hapadoll,wixsite,com/hapadoll (replace , with . )

1. Reminiscence

His voice was a panty dropper.

Judging by the wave of enthused screams that filled the crowded auditorium, she wasn't embellishing. Lots of young women were in complete concurrence. The man had fans.

She hadn't seen him since graduation four years ago. They'd never really been friends but she knew exactly who he was. The Mercer name carried a certain weight and reverence with it, in all classes.

When she'd walked into work that evening, her attention averted from her usual greetings to tonight's guest act, sat front and center with his acoustic guitar on his lap. It was a surprise to see her former classmate - the reserved, mysterious boy she'd once known in passing looking dapper in rock star garb with a rock star persona.

The music scene wasn't one she'd expect him to be interested in. Guess he'd found his niche after high school which was more than she could say.

The gaze she had on him hadn't faltered, like a peacock whose eyes are inclined to its tail.

She hoped he wouldn't sense her staring with such earnest intent, like he could somehow spot her from a crowd. This is how it used to be. Whenever she'd catch him looked back at her, she'd turn away.

Reading between the lines at the risk of him being another good-looking guy with a guitar, she allowed his lyrics and melodic voice to speak for themselves.

'How can you say that your truth is better than ours?

Shoulder to shoulder, now brother, we carry no arms

And the blind man sleeps in the doorway, his home

If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy I could have won'

She never knew he was capable of words so deep and thought provoking that carried so many interpretations and references. They would make beautiful poetry without music. He knew how to make you cry. She realized his career wasn't a fluke. He was in it for a reason. He was genuinely talented and it blew her mind.

"Hey girl, we going to get ready?"

Cutting her hazel eyes and thoughts from Jack, she redirected her attention to the petite brunette who'd nudged her harder than she'd liked. Cora.

"Yeah, sorry, I got distracted for a second. I know that guy," she explained to her co-worker, nodding in Jack's direction. "Well, kind of, we went to high school together."

Small Cora pursed her peach flavored lips in intrigue and prodded the taller dark haired beauty.

"Did you two rock the casbah, sink the sausage?" Subtle.


"You should," advised Cora adamantly, like it was a golden piece of advice she'd given her younger friend.

The younger girl shrugged, brushing off the uncomfortable direction the conversation had taken and spoke bluntly, unashamed of her intentions.

"Wouldn't be opposed to it. Not the way you said it..." she dismissed, causing Cora to roll her doe eyes and continued. "But I don't really know him that well, so don't make any awkward comments tonight. I'm just going to quickly say hi to him when his set's done and we'll go on with our lives. Let's just go get ready. I need your help with my lashes."

The two changed courses, led by Cora pushing a path through as they moved past the crowd towards backstage and entered the security code for the keyless entry when prompted. Jack's velvety rich voice carried over the sound system. He was explaining where he came up with the song he was about to introduce and the significance it held. He was a few feet from them, on the other side of the dark curtain. With the lights lowered, they could barely make out a hand as they navigated from memory towards their dressing room, pausing in greetings when they passed others.

Distracted, she slammed her shin full force into a sharp corner of a tool box, left in the dark for unsuspecting victims. One of the lovely deck hands must've left it there accidentally.

"Tater Tits!" she cried, louder than she should have.

Cora whipped around with a perfect 'O' mouth formation and subdued the ruckus by pulling the hobbling girl into their room and pressing a cold drink to her friend's leg.

They dumped their belongings; purses, makeup cases, and plastic grocery baggies on the vanity counter before shrugging out of their jackets and started prettying up as best you could with an iced tea strapped your body.

A half hour later the girls sat at the bar, joined by two more, Lacey and Jess, who'd never been as punctual. Their makeup set with their favorite violet poudre, they snacked on bar nuts and club soda through bendy straws to maintain their perfectly applied lipstick. They'd only need to throw on their costumes closer to curtain call.

They were enjoying their usual routine of watching the preceding act. Good music was a perk of working at such a renowned venue.

"Skyscraper's a fox," Lacey noted, referencing the tallest Mercer.

Cora agreed. "That's what I said! Although, I do prefer my men a little less Jolly Green Giant."

"That's because you're a midget," laughed Jade, tossing a peanut Cora's direction, prompting a dramatic mock response about allergies she didn't have.

"I honestly don't get the fangirling. I just don't see what's so attractive about him."

The other three turned to Jess's direction, who'd make the last comment, dumbfounded. To each their own.

"I guess drop dead sexy's not everybody's type," replied Lacey who clearly converted.

Keeping an eye on the time, it was expected when Jack announced his final song of the night. The crowd erupted in mixed protests, which was not lost on him. Jack appreciated the positive feedback. It made him feel validated in his efforts, like he was doing something right in spite of having been told the opposite in the past. His pearly teeth glistened under the lights, as he flashed a coquettish grin, the kind that could melt snow caps in Iceland.

He thanked his audience for the approbation with such sincerity it made a few of them feel special. The talent and charm he'd filled the room with that evening had lit a fire that would inspire several to walk away new fans.

After he'd disassembled his equipment from the stage and secured his guitars into their cases, he felt a small hand take hold of his bicep. His body tensed from the sudden intrusion on his personal territory, though it wasn't completely unexpected. Being approached after a show wasn't an uncommon occurrence and the gesture was welcomed, but since being discharged from the hospital and throughout rehabilitation, he had to reacquaint himself with normal social behavior. He'd never liked being touched but the shooting left him excessively on edge. He hated feeling neurotic. It'd been over a year.

He jerked his arm away as an instinctive response and quickly did an about face so his back wouldn't be turned and left vulnerable. Jack looked down into a pair of green-gold eyes that shined like beacons in the club's dimmed lighting. Eyes he'd seen before. They reminded him of maple leaves held up to the sunlight. His shoulders and jaw relaxed and he fell strangely at ease.

The friendly smile on her face reappeared when she saw his disposition softened.

"Hey Jack, I don't know if you remember me-"

"Jade Bailey," he finished for her, saving them from an awkward introduction.

Of course he remembered her. He had the memory of an elephant and always had been observant as a detective. The girl hadn't been the friendliest or most sociable person on the planet but neither had he been. He'd been too wrapped up in his own terrible relationship back then, one that felt more like a full time job. He definitely noticed Jade though, and her face was the same today, albeit a lot more made up.

Her lips were classically red; bold, and bright while her eyes were lined with a thick, black wing on each side. Cora helped apply the false lashes she didn't need which fluttered like butterflies readying for landing when she blinked. Her hair was fixed up real nice and pretty, curled and pinned to the side. A lot longer now than it had been as a teenager.

The acknowledgement prompted a corner of her mouth to curve upwards. She honestly hadn't been sure what to expect, if he'd recognize her or remember her at all. She hadn't exactly left a lasting impression that year. They'd barely spoken a word to each other but he remembered her by first and last name.

"I work here. I'm actually the next act after intermission," she explained when she realized her face must have stood in contrast with her casual attire; cuffed skinny jeans and ankle boots with a plain black tee and light jacket suitable for the late spring Detroit weather.

"Oh, the burlesque show?" responded Jack, slightly amused.

Burlesque was a step above stripping in his opinion. Women took their clothes off for money. Not that he had a problem with stripping. He'd been to his share of clubs, mostly dragged by Bobby and Angel. He knew better than anyone that you did what you need to in order to survive desperate times and was the last person who'd pass judgement but he always assumed Jade was from a traditional, well-to-do family. She'd transferred in senior year from a private prep school in the Royal Oak district.

"Vaudeville," she clarified, bringing Jack back from his thoughts.

"It's very similar but there's a lot more storyline to it. It's more of an entertainment act with comedy, kind of like Cabaret. A lot more technical forms of dance involved, including ballroom," she laughed, wrapping her babble up.

It was a social mistake or habit she didn't realize she had, unnecessarily telling people about random information they probably weren't as enthused hearing as she was telling.

Jack nodded, his dirty blond hair flopping over his eyes. It was his gesture of conversational politeness, feigning giving a shit about the difference between the two.

As far as he was concerned, being paid to disrobe publicly was the same however you spun it. Just be honest about it. Wrapping it in fancy packaging with a shiny red bow didn't class it up. Decent pornos have storylines but that doesn't change what it is.

He just thought it was an interesting turn of events for the girl who was once so stuck up and acted like she thought she was better than everyone, miserable and hating every moment she was there. Not that he didn't, but at least he attempted to go through the motions.

He couldn't help wonder if her reasoning for approaching him tonight had anything to do with the fact that he was now an up and coming musician and not just a low class, inner city kid.

He'd met countless women, and disastrously dated a few, that turned out to have been interested in him for ulterior motives. An old ex-girlfriend had recently reconnected with him conveniently after hearing about his career.

By the sound of Jade giving him an astonishingly perceptive and in-depth compliment, he felt a hint of conviction. Jack realized he was judging her and that wasn't fair to her. That wasn't the way his mother taught him to treat women. This woman in front of him was four years matured from the girl he was holding her accountable for. Jade was a grown ass woman now. Here she was reaching out to him and he was making assumptions based on the past. Feeling regretful for his critical thoughts, he spoke up to make amends she was oblivious to.

"You know, I could use a beer at the bar right over there, the one overlooking the stage. Care to join me after your show?"

He spoke in a soft baritone, with a diffidence that was alien to the confident, commanding musician she watched perform so effortlessly on stage a few minutes ago. He looked so in his element up there, comfortable and relaxed holding his guitar, like he belonged there and no where else. The Jack in front of her reflected the introverted boy he once was.

Jade eagerly accepted, grateful for the opportunity to catch up with him.

They exchanged parting pleasantries and headed separate ways, Jade to prepare for her own show.

Jack loaded up the car he'd borrowed from Bobby and returned to the bar after being stopped by a few people wanting to chat - mostly compliment him - and take pictures. It was nice to have a local fan base. One perk of being stuck in shitty Detroit for the moment.

He sipped on a Miller Lite to get him through the show he was regretting staying for.

It began cheesily as expected. He was surprised to see it was a coed act. Everyone was dressed similar but not the same. Some of the men were shirtless with suspenders, others had suspenders over wife beaters, while the rest wore vests. The women were dolled up in long gloves, back-seemed stockings and glitter. Some more revealing than others though none topless or even in pasties as he imagined. However, there was no shortage of cleavage.

He spotted her, introduced as "Jade Dynasty" which he snickered at and noticed her outfit was the more conservative of the bunch. Her midsection was completely covered in a corset but she showed lots of leg. He was a leg and butt man. She had nice, toned, long legs.

At over 6'2, he never noticed how tall she was since he towered over everybody. She didn't have the most realistically perfect proportions but she had the body to be a model if she wanted. Tall and thin with a flatter chest and thigh gap.

The show started with creative, slapstick skits that used comedy to parody lowbrow society, taking it back to a classier time, featuring big band songs, going back to the glamorous pin-up style.

Between the excerpts, they transformed into technical dancers who clearly had formal training. The numbers incorporated classical ballet with salsa, swing, tango and jazz. Jade flipped effortlessly into a forward aerial like some damn gymnast. Bobby would have made some innuendo about her bendiness. Jack wondered how she could do that in heels without hurting herself. The skill she held obviously came with years of intensive training. He had no idea she was basically a professional dancer.

Four beers in - two of which by people who'd offered to buy him a drink - the show came to a close. Jack was pleasantly surprised.

If you're a male whose only reason for going to a Burle- Vaudeville show is to be turned on, you'd probably be disappointed. If you're looking for grimy strippers that will show you a good time, this wouldn't be for you. Or Bobby. If you want to be entertained for cheaper than a Broadway show and see some talented performers, it was actually kind of fun.

There was something noteworthy about live entertainment, especially in an era of social disconnection and electronic isolation. Jack was old fashioned in that sense. He didn't have a Facebook or Twitter. He never even used the band's Instagram account before they went their separate ways. He appreciated face to face interraction. Raw, unfiltered, talent was such a rarity these days. It was one of the reasons he'd recently adapted to the acoustic guitar instead of electric. That and the nerve and muscle damage from his shoulder wound that benched him from performing as vigorously.

"Nice job," he complimented when the barstool beside him became occupied. "Jade Dynasty."

The brunette rolled her eyes at his teasing with a pained expression. Clothes changed and makeup removed, her skin glowed like she'd just washed it. Natural and healthy without crap painted over it.

"Please don't remind me. We were forced to come up with pseudonyms and I took so long trying to come up with mine I just chose my favorite video game before I realized how much more Asian it makes me seem," she laughed, ordering a drink for herself from the bartender who always took care of her.

That's what she was. He always wondered. She was obviously a mutt, obviously part white but he could never place the other half.

"Nerd alert," Jack murmured in a sing-song voice as he brought the bottle to his lips for another swig.

That earned him a high-pitched protest and prompt smack on the arm. He tensed. She didn't notice. Perception was his thing, not hers.

"I was talking about how you so casually used the word 'pseudonym' in a sentence," said Jack, leaning back in his chair, one arm out holding onto his lukewarm beer.

"Miami-Dade Spelling Bee champ two years running, representing," she threw up her hands jokingly, flashing a popular symbol.

With widened blue eyes, he instinctively scanned the room for possible threats. That type of shit was always in the back of his mind. Damn, this girl was sheltered. Didn't her parents teach her any street smarts? You can't go throwing gang signs in a city like this. Especially not a pretty girl. That's just asking for trouble. Then again, they weren't in the part of Detroit he called home. They were in the suburbs.

He bit his tongue, realizing he didn't know her enough to scold her and instead asked, "you not from Detroit?"

"I am for the most part. My brother and I were raised back and forth when we were younger. My dad is originally from there but my mom is from here."

Two things he didn't know; she had a brother and she lived in Florida at some point. He noticed she referred to her parents as hers not theirs.

"What about you?" she asked, sipping some fruity concoction Jack wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

"My family tree is... complicated."

He wasn't sure how to follow her backstory without feeling like they were right back in high school. She was exactly the princess with the perfect little family he assumed and he was still the first class fuck up from a dozen broken homes. He sure as hell didn't have a mom and dad, annoying little sister named Susie, Rover the pet golden retriever, white picket fence, station wagon or tropical vacations. Not like she had.

"I'm from Detroit," he said simply.

She didn't need to know more than that. He wouldn't expose her virgin ears to half the shit he buried. They'd probably burst into flames and catch her hair on fire. He chuckled sardonically.

"Lived in New York for a bit though," he added, trying to add his part to the discussion.

He realized she was carrying the conversation, asking all the questions, showing all the interest, giving all the in-depth responses. Not that he didn't want to be there, he just wasn't much the caring and sharing type. Never have been. Especially with somebody from Wonder Bread Land who could never understand.

"Oh, nice. What brought you out there?" Another question.

"What is this, an interrogation? ...Sorry," he apologized when he saw her face, taken aback. "I was in a band. Went there for better opportunities. Couldn't exactly pursue a legitimate career in the industry in Detroit. Nothing but second-rate, half-assed talent here."

As soon as that sentence came out of his mouth he wanted to pull out the foot that was in it and swallow the words back up. He was just being a bitter little bitch, upset by being dumped by the band he created and left in Detroit indefinitely for physical and occupational therapies after nearly being killed by the scum who murdered his mother. He genuinely hadn't directed that comment towards Jade but that was understandably the way she took it.

"Oh, sorry you had to stick around for that abomination I call my career. Don't let me keep you," sneered Jade, clearly pissed off. Justifiable.

God, he was coming off as such a condescending prick. Terrible with words but magic with lyrics, however that worked.

Jack felt like a total dick upsetting a girl to the point where he was the reason her face fell from a smile to a scowl in two seconds flat.

"Jade-" he started, attempting to reach out to her as she stood.

She ripped out of his grip and chugged the rest of her drink before she slammed it down on the counter, hard. It nearly broke in her hand.

"Oh, I think you dropped something, let me get it for you," she said.

She leaned down below his waist, reaching for something near his long legs. He was confused. He didn't see anything from what he could see around the back of her head. She popped back up like a jack-in-the-box, nearly catching him under the chin and flashed another lovely hand gesture in his face. This one required just one finger.

"This is what you dropped. This belongs to you."

Satisfied with that, she quickly turned and made her exit.

That was a first. Not what he expected coming from her. Girl had a temper. Not that he could totally blame her from that insult. The bartender gave him the evil eye and a head shake while he cleared their drinks, including Jack's half full bottle, ignoring his protest at not being done.

"What is this, 'Cheers'? Bartenders eavesdrop on conversations?"

Jack stood up to leave, throwing a few bills towards the man who didn't look happy with his last comment.

Awesome. Pissed two people off within minutes. He wouldn't be a Mercer if he wasn't making enemies left, right and sideways. Ma would be real proud.

Author's Note: Thank you for reading! Please drop a line to let me know what you thought :)