Title: Unexpected Plans

Author: icyfire

Summary:  Life is what happens while you're busy living.  Jack and Francie discover that life has an unexpected plan for them.

Rating: R.  NC-17 version available at http://omega-17.com/stories/unexpected_plans.htm and at Cover Me.

Ship:  Francie/Jack.  Yes, you read that right.  Francie and Jack. :) No, it's not a pairing I want to see on the show, however, I enjoyed the challenge of making it work for this fic.  At least I think I made it work.

Disclaimer:  Not mine.  You won't be seeing this story anywhere near the small screen any time soon.

A/N:  I blame Jenai and Sprite (yes, the drink) for this story.  I really do.  Not that she asked me for a Frack story.  No, she was just as shocked by the idea as I was.  I had another story idea playing away in my head and teasing Jenai (along with Celli who had her own twisted pairing) that I was hoping she would still like me after I wrote that plot idea.  But after pouring myself a glass of Sprite (beware that stuff), I had this pairing in my head demanding that I tell their story even as I went "where did you come from?"

Thank you to Karen T. for the wonderful beta and encouragement.  Another thank you to Celli for being there from the very beginning and for her beta work.

Happy Birthday, Jenai!  I hope you enjoy this present as much as you enjoyed the last.

***

Francie felt the coolness of the couch beneath her.  It was where they usually fell after a night of dinner and dancing.  Tonight he'd even taken her to see a play.  His mouth bore down on hers.  She knew then that it was going to be hot and fast and furious.

Like it usually was.  The way she liked it.  She could tell herself then that it was just sex.  That eventually everything would burn out and return to normal.  She would find someone else to be with, someone she could tell others about.  Someone who could come pick her up at the door when Sydney was home, who could be taken home to meet her mom and dad.

But then there were the other times.  Where he made slow, gentle love to her.  Where she almost cried because he made her feel so special.  Spun glass in a collector's hands--that's how she felt on those nights.  It was then that she let herself admit to those other feelings.  Feelings she didn't want to have, feelings he wouldn't be interested in knowing about.

Her dress was off her shoulder and half way down her arms.  His lips were on her nipples.  Her bra was lacy and the feel of it and his tongue were incredible.  She gasped and knew it was time to take charge.  She twisted and forced them off the couch.

He landed on the floor without even a grunt.  The flame in his eyes was even hotter as she straddled him.  He liked it when she got aggressive.  It never seemed to bother him to let her be the one in control.  Unlike a lot of the men she had dated over the years, he was comfortable in his own skin.  She started to undo his tie even as she used it to bring his mouth to hers.

His teeth cut into her lips as she heard Sydney say, "Francie?"

She turned around, shocked to see her roommate back home already.  She wasn't supposed to be back until tomorrow; he had even double checked before coming to pick her up.

A blush spread across Sydney's face.  Francie couldn't think of anything to say; she couldn't even move.  "I am so sorry, Francie.  I should've called--"

It was then that Sydney noticed the man on the floor.  Her keys fell from her hands.  "Dad?"

Jack reacted first.  He sat up and pulled Francie's dress back together.  He did it quickly, but with gentleness.  Caring.  It was the special way he had of touching her that made her feel exceptional.

She looked at him, her face burning with mortification.  She'd thought about telling Sydney many times, but she had never found the courage or the words.  She'd never wanted her friend to find out this way; this was a nightmare.

"You caught an earlier flight," Jack said.  There was no humiliation in his words.  As he slid out from beneath Francie and stood, he offered her his hand.  Her legs trembled as she stood beside him, looking at the girl who had been her best friend since the seventh grade.  Jack seemed unconcerned.  He was acting as though his daughter had found them eating a ham sandwich or drinking tea or some other innocent activity.

"Yeah," Sydney whispered, looking back and forth at her father and friend with shock and disapproval written on her face.  "At the last minute, Dixon and I caught another flight.  I didn't have time to call--" She looked away and took a deep breath.  When she looked back at them, her face was a cold mask.  "Anyone to let them know."

Francie started to take a step forward, but Jack laid a hand on her arm to stop her.  Sydney didn't miss the gesture.  Her jaw line somehow managed to become even harder.  "You won't be expected in the office in the morning then.  I'll come by and collect you for breakfast," Jack said.

Sydney glared at Francie and then at Jack.  "I don't think that's a good idea.  Sloane will--"

"Be fine with Dixon's report until you get there," Jack said with a hint of steel in his voice.  Francie had never heard him talk that way before, but Sydney didn't seem surprised by it.

"I'm going to go unpack," Sydney said as she reached down and picked up her keys.  "I'll see you in the morning."  Her tone matched Jack's almost perfectly.  However, her voice held a hint of a frustrated child in it.

Jack turned and took Francie in his arms.  She laid her head on his shoulder and breathed in the scent of his cologne.  His arms were warm around her, and she knew that tonight would be one of those nights that she spent crying in her bed.  Not only because Sydney had found out, but because his gentleness was reminding her that there was more at stake than sex.  Of course, after tonight there would be no more gentleness, no more anything.

"Francie," he murmured into her hair.  She tensed, waiting for the words to come.  "I think you should spend the night at my apartment."

She looked up at him, unable to believe her ears.  Instead of telling her that they shouldn't see each other again, he was asking her to spend the night at his apartment.  His apartment--off limits for even drinks until now.

A part of her wanted to accept, to take advantage of this unexpected opportunity.  But another part knew she needed to face Sydney.  "I need to stay here, and--"

"No," he said before kissing her neck.  "Sydney doesn't fight fair when she's upset.  If you talk to her tonight, you will end up hurt."

She shook her head.  "She's angry, but--"

"She's my daughter, Francie.  She will hurt you."

She looked into his eyes.  "You're having breakfast with her in the morning."

"Yes," Jack answered, stepping back from her.

"She'll still be angry then."

He said nothing.  Then he nodded and adjusted his tie.  "I'll handle Sydney."

"Jack--"

Reaching out, he grabbed her arm and jerked her to him.  His lips slammed down on hers, taking her breath away.  He pulled away, his hand still in her hair.  "I'll take care of Sydney."

A part of her wanted to give in to his command, but she knew better.  Jack Bristow would walk all over her if she allowed it.  "She's my best friend."

"And my daughter."

"And we're both involved," she said as she pulled away.  "I'm not letting her blame you, Jack, if that's what you are wanting.  I made the first move."

He opened his mouth to argue, but she put her fingers to his lips.  "I'll let you talk to her first."

Jack looked over to the side, thinking.  "Very well," he said as he reached down and picked up his jacket from the floor.  "But--" He stopped, obviously unsure how to express himself.

She'd grown used to the uncertainty he sometimes showed.  "I've made up my own mind about you," she said, realizing what he was worried about.  He and Sydney had never been close; he was thinking it might be easy for his daughter to poison Francie against him.  And at one time, she had been.  She'd put all the blame for the lousy relationship between father and daughter squarely on Jack's shoulders.

But now she knew him.  Understood his faults, but saw his strengths, too.  "There isn't anything Syd can say that will change that, Jack."

He reached for her again and wrapped his arm around her waist.  The kiss was soft and tender, and it made her wonder exactly what he felt for her.  His hand found its way into her hair and the kiss became hard, furious.  His tongue scorched hers.  She moaned.

He pulled away, and she saw the sparkle of satisfaction in his eyes.  "I'll see you in the morning," he told her as he turned away.

The sight of Sydney walking into the kitchen and pouring herself a glass of wine didn't even seem to faze him.  He reached for his overcoat and told his daughter that he would see her tomorrow.  The door shut quietly behind him.

Standing in the kitchen, Francie thought about what Jack had said, about what she'd agreed to, and then she thought of all those years of friendship.  It didn't seem right to ignore everything until tomorrow.  She took a step forward, but Sydney's eyes stopped her.  They were ice cold.  "I remember when you used to say you didn't have any use for my father.  I guess now you've found at least one use for him."

Francie gasped.  Sydney picked up her wine glass and left the kitchen without even looking back.

***

Sydney stared at her water glass like it was a crystal ball.  Maybe she wanted it to give her answers.  It was more likely to give them than the man sitting across from her.  So far, neither one of them had said a word to each other that morning.

"Would you like a refill, Sir?" the waiter asked, steam coming from the spout of a beautiful silver coffee urn in his hand.

"Yes," Jack said.  He sat his cup down and actually looked at Sydney as the waiter filled it to exactly the right point--this restaurant wouldn't allow anything but perfection--with dark liquid.  It was rich; Sydney could tell that by looking, but her father had always liked his coffee strong.

The waiter took away their empty plates and left them alone.  Jack took a sip of his coffee.  He sat the cup down on the saucer.  The china gently clinked together.  "I know that the events of last night were a surprise to you.  It's not how either of us would've liked you to have found out about our relationship, but if you have a problem with me seeing Francie, you need to bring it to me," he told her.

"If I have a problem?"  Sydney was amazed that the words managed to get through her clenched teeth.

"Yes," he answered before glancing at his watch.  "Don't bother Francie with it."

She sat back in her chair and crossed her arms.  "Last night I came home and found you two on the floor."

Her father stared at her, and it seemed like he heard the question she hadn't had the courage to ask.  He answered, almost apologetically, "It wasn't the first time we'd been there."

She inhaled a quick sharp breath through her nose.  Leaning forward, she exploded in a harsh whisper, "I want to know--"

"Our relationship is none of your concern," he interrupted.  "It's between Francie and me."

"And I'm not supposed to ask Francie any questions?  Like how she started screwing my father?"

There was a flash of anger in his eyes, and Sydney liked seeing it there.  But it was gone quickly and the familiar cool demeanor remained in place.  "No, no questions.  No comments.  It's none of your concern."

"My best friend is sleeping with my father; I think a lot of people would consider that my business," she snapped.

Jack sipped his coffee.  "In most cases, yes.  But, Sydney, you have no illusions where I'm concerned.  Finding me with Francie didn't suddenly open your eyes to the fact that I'm not a monk.  Nor is it like I'm cheating on your mother."

Sydney looked at him.  He shook his head and looked away.  "Our marriage was based on a lie.  Those twenty people she killed are just names to you, even William Vaughn, but I knew most of them.  Some I even called friends."

She looked away, suddenly uncomfortable.  Had she been watching the interaction between Jack and Irina and thinking like a child whose parents were divorced?  Had she secretly been longing for them to get back together?  She hoped she was more mature than that.  "I haven't--"

"Your childhood was difficult, Sydney.  I know that.  I can't change it," he told her.  "You've usually seen me as the cause of your pain.  I can't change that, either.  But if you need someone to blame about my relationship with Francie, blame me and leave her alone.  Do you understand?"

Anger born of frustration raced through her.  "I understand."

He looked at his watch.  "Good.  We need to go.  I told Sloane you would be in around ten."

***

"You look beautiful," Will said as Francie walked out into the kitchen area.  He was sitting behind the bar eating a piece of cake that she'd baked yesterday.

She tugged at the blue material and exhaled.  "Thank you."

Will heard the nervousness in her voice.  He looked over at Sydney and noticed that she wasn't even looking in Francie's direction.  He set down his fork as he became aware of the tension in the air.

He'd noticed Sydney's strange behavior the second he'd walked through the door.  Actually he'd noticed it on the phone when she'd called, asking him to come over to watch a movie.  Figuring that work was bothering her, he hadn't asked any questions, but now it was obvious something was going on between her and her roommate.

Thinking back, he remembered the long pause when he'd asked about whether Francie would be there or not.  "She's got a date."  The words had been clipped.  Angry.  But he'd been focused on the young man walking through his office door instead of paying attention to the woman on the other end of the phone.

"How's the counseling center?" Francie asked as she changed purses.  He noticed that her hands were shaking.

"Good," he answered.  "But it's a roller coaster every day.  For every person you think you've helped, you find out that another one fell through the net.  Or at least it feels that way sometimes."

Francie stopped fretting with her purse and looked at him.  "I don't think I could do it."

"Sometimes I don't know if I can," he answered truthfully.  "I never thought to be what I am."  He looked over at Sydney and remembered when his life had begun this new path.  "But I'm glad that I am."

Sydney glanced over at him, and he thought he saw the hint of tears in her eyes.  Angry and hurt tears.  He looked over at Francie whose eyes were focused on her shoes.  She began tugging at her dress again.

"Sometimes I think back to my time at the Register, and it feels like a dream or another lifetime or something," he said.  He finished the last bite of cake.

Francie walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of water.  She silently offered him one, and he nodded.  She walked back towards him--he noticed the darted glance in Sydney's direction--and smiled.  It was tight but genuine.  "Now instead of being an award-winning newspaper reporter, you're an award-winning magazine reporter."

He grinned, embarrassed by all the attention his article in TIME magazine had gotten.  "No, Francie, I'm not."

Setting his bottle in front of him, she slid into the bar seat next to him.  "You're going to win an award for that story," she stated before taking a sip of her water.

He opened his bottle and took a drink.  "Maybe, but I don't look at myself as a reporter anymore.  Reporters are supposed to analytical and willing to look at all sides to a story.  I'm an anti-drug crusader, and that article was my way of informing people about my cause."

Francie looked back over at Sydney, who was still finding the dishes interesting.  Will opened his mouth to demand to know what was going on between them, but a knock at the door stopped him.  The tension in the room somehow managed to grow thicker.  Francie looked almost ill, like she wanted to run but was frozen, while Sydney's shoulders were so tight that Will swore he could see the knots from where he was sitting.

Neither one of them made a move to answer the door.  Will shook his head and walked over to let in who he assumed was Francie's date.  Instead Jack Bristow stood on the other side.  The older man almost looked nervous, but Will pushed that thought aside.  It took more than showing up at Sydney's house to make Jack jumpy.  Hell, after seeing just a small part of what Syd and Jack dealt with almost on a daily basis, it took a lot to make him nervous now.

"Jack, come in," Will said as he stepped back.  "Syd, your dad's here."  It was then he noticed the rose in Jack's hand, and suddenly all the anxiety in the room made sense.  Will struggled to come up with some joke to cut through the tension, but he couldn't think of a single thing that would help.

Finally, he turned to look at Francie and smiled.  She grinned back at him, and he saw some of the strain leave her eyes.  He reached for her hand, and she laid hers on his as he helped her stand.  As Will led her to her date--who was staring down at her--Jack said, "You look beautiful."  Will heard the note of tenderness hidden behind the gruffness.

"Thank you," Francie answered, her heart obviously in her throat.

Sydney didn't look in their direction, and Jack managed to look at his daughter over Francie's bowed head.  Someone who didn't know him might not see the emotions warring on his face, but Will knew him.  He could see the frustration and the concern and the pain. 

Shifting from foot to foot, Will said, "You two have a good time.  I'm going to enjoy torturing Syd by watching movies I've already had her watch a thousand times."

"But they're classics!" Francie said, mocking him, as she rushed towards the door.  He'd said that line almost as many times as he'd had them watch North by Northwest.

"Yes, they are," he said with a laugh.  He closed the door behind them and turned to look at Syd who was standing in the middle of the kitchen looking lost.  "You pop the popcorn," he told her, "and I'll get the movies into the DVD player."