What it's Worth - part 1/?

Author: Loke


Rating: PG-13 for some, ah, adult activities. Heh. :-p

Summary: He knows this is the worst kind of idea. The worst kind of insanity. But he just can't seem to care. Johnny/Emily One-Shot. Totally AU. Obviously. Em's 18 and its set in the post-Liason/pre-Journey Universe… if that even matters.

(a/n) I wrote this a couple months ago and am only now getting around to posting it. I wasn't going to post it but I thought it turned out alright and decided to just go for it. Anyway, this is so NOT at all like anything I've ever written before. I don't think I can be any clearer about that. But, it was a challenge issued forth by one of my real-life friends. She seem to have noticed that I have yet to write anything even vaguely smutty—not even a real kiss—in any of my GH stories and this was her solution. So, being a sucker for a good challenge, I could not let it go unmet, lol. Hopefully it worked. And, you now, if for some reason the following makes absolutely no sense, just bear in mind that it may have a tiny little bit to do with the fact that I was working with a time limit. Part two of the challenge was to see if I could write over 6,000 words, have the story at least marginally make sense, and to do it in one day's time—overseen by my Gestapo-esque best friend, who absolutely would not let me cheat. Pfft. ::sighs huffily:: Now, for those of you who read my stuff regularly, you guys definitely know that the 5,000 word bit was no problem for me, incessant rambler that I am. But, Damn. The time limit kicked my ass all over the place. Gah.

Oh, and again, I have no idea how this whole thing ended up in present tense, but it is. ::shakes head:: I really gotta figure out how that keeps happening, lol. Hope it won't annoy too much. Anyway, read on and enjoy the fruits of my insanity. :o) --Loke


What it's Worth

She comes by three times a week to cook her brother dinner. Now, while his ego would like to say that's strictly because of him and his certain brand of low-key charm, he knows it isn't.

Well, maybe not entirely.

Because why a woman would see the need to visit her brother that many times in one week is pretty beyond him. He has brothers. It's not that great. Definitely not three times a week great.

So, he allows himself this one little indulgence, to believe that aside from wanting to see Jason, it's secretly him that keeps her coming back for more. Keeps her reserving that 8:00 elevator ride up to his penthouse. Keeps her smiling that way she does at him every time she saunters onto his floor looking like the cat that just caught the canary. Keeps her from never refusing Jason's chivalrous offer to have him 'escort' her back to her place when they're done.

Yeah. Escort. Sure.

Aw, Jesus, if Jason only knew.

Well, Johnny figured he'd be pretty dead if that were the case. On a permanent hiatus, because, damn—this thing he's got going with her? It's just not something you're supposed to do. Like, at all.

Like, ever.

It breaks every rule in the book and crosses a line that might as well be drawn in blood. And he's aware of all that. But there also happens to be other things he's aware of, things that vastly overshadow his tenuous sense of culpability. Like the way her hair curls just so at the ends. The way her eyes sparkle when she's got something wicked cooking in that pretty little head of hers. The way her laugh—soft and sweet—seems to fill him up. The way just seeing her stirs something low in his belly. A longing. A want he can't really explain.

And maybe it's because it's just so damn forbidden that he needs her so much.

Yeah. Needs.

The dance they do—for going on three months now—has taken him way past just want. She used to be something he craved selfishly, but now she's something he's pretty sure he can't be without. And that scares the hell out of him.

Because he knows that one day he'll have to be.

But right now he's trying hard not to think about how doomed this all is, because right now its 8:00, and she'll be walking off that elevator any second.

Pushing himself off the wall, he leaves his post and walks the ten whole steps it is to the elevator. Ten steps he can't seem to take fast enough. Ten steps that seem to last forever. But, at last, he's there, three feet from the closed doors, watching with a giddy—yes, giddy—burst of excitement as the lighted number display above the door burns yellow at 1. She's here. And she's right on time. A lazy half smile curves the bodyguard's mouth. Who knew punctuality could be such a turn on?

And with an odd, but entirely familiar feeling of half-lust/half-impatience, burning low and hot right in his gut, Johnny watches as the yellow glow traces faithfully up the row of numbers at a pace that makes him curse his boss's choice in residences—What, it would have killed the guy to live a little closer to the ground?

And as this wholly immature assessment finds him, so does the dim awareness that he's got it bad—real bad—because he's practically half-way there and all he's doing is waiting for her. Somewhere else in the back of his currently one-tracked mind, lays the reality that he should be embarrassed about that fact. And he would be. If what exactly he was waiting for wasn't so damn worth it.

Because if she's anything—she's worth it. Like, a million times over in his book.


And there it is—the sound that saves his life. And in a combination of movements that have become entirely subconscious—much like everything else at this point, Johnny wets his lips and steps forward as those polished steel door begin their agonizingly slow pull apart. His own private unveiling.

The first thing that hits him is her smile. Its small but it's dazzling, like midday sunshine but without any of the harshness. And it's for him. All for him.

"Good evening, Mr. O'Brien," she says, in that way that sends a curl of heat straight down his back because it just means way more than anyone would ever guess. Because she says it like she doesn't care who hears it, even though he knows she damn well does.

His eyes, dark with a number things he knows he shouldn't be thinking, rove over her lithe body, taking in every curve and dip, every peek and tease of creamy flesh her fitted black dress dares to give him. And he does his inspection with a reverence he only ever shows with her. A degree of tempered fire he only ever attempts when they're susceptible to prying eyes—not that he has a choice. He has to control it. Not doing so could get him very, very dead. Especially here. Especially now.

She's waiting for him to speak—her cocky grin tells him as much. But at the moment, words seem slightly unattainable, and for that he's sort of glad. He doesn't really trust himself with words right now anyway. Too many things he wants to say that someone could hear. That she could hear.

So, in lieu of words, he falls back on a truer part of his nature. Action.

And as he begins his silent stalk toward her, he hits pay-dirt. Her eyes, the ones which were bright and flirty just a second ago, are much more like his own now. Piercing and near black with anticipation and desire. Desire he put there. Desire he never wants to stop putting there.

And with one more strategic step, he's got her successfully back-tracking, floating further within the Godsend of an elevator that just brought her to him. Only difference is that, this time, he's in with her. And he isn't leaving. The elevator doors slide closed behind him and without looking, he practically punches the emergency stop. And now neither is she.

Her smile is gone, faded to make way for something that bespeaks what she's feeling a little more accurately. Because at this point of no return, he knows it isn't happiness she's feeling. There'd have to be something funny about them, standing there as they are, eyes locked, air around them charged and buzzing, for her to be smiling. And there isn't. Not by a long shot.

Want like this is never funny. Only uncontrollable. And eventually tragic.

And that's exactly why, when he takes just on tiny step toward her—the depth of his intent written all over his face—the result is devastating.

They clash like two opposing forces on a midday battle field, in a blur of heat and raw, savage power, and before he even knows it, an eager arm has twined itself around her slight waist, pulling, dragging, needing her to be as close as humanly as possible as he's kissing her—and with something so very close to desperation that he's determined to ignore it. Let the desperation be, he thinks, mind less than half there as he pushes her against the elevators back wall in as gently a manner as could realistically be expected. Let it happen. Let her feel it. I don't care.

And when he hears the hungry little noise she makes low in her throat—so very much like a growl, and when he feels her legs come up and hitch around him, and her fingers bury themselves in his hair, he knows that she feels it. And he also knows she won't judge him for it, because she needs this, needs him as much as he needs her.

Maybe just as desperately, too.

And the moment that realization hits home, is the moment Johnny finally understands that, with her, all bets really are off. This frenzied exploration of each other—it isn't anything they haven't done before. And it isn't anything they won't do again—God willing. But what it is for him, is a sort of mini epiphany. That guy who chased skirts and chatted up anything that was pretty and stacked, was an asshole, and absolutely nothing like the man he is when he's here, in her arms—the last place he should ever be. He never imagined it possible, but it is. A woman, this woman, this girl, actually means something to him, actually makes him want to feel all that bullshit that comes with being so damn hung-up. The insecurity, the uncertainty, the uneasiness, the foolishness, the shaky need, the feeling like every moment with them is like breathing in pure oxygen, like buzzing from the inside out.

Cliché as shit, but right on the money: Emily Quatermaine, the tiny little thing wrapped around him and very clearly enjoying it, wormed her way into his head, and into his heart. And he loves it.

He loves her.

The thought, utterly foreign and equally damning, only fuels the fire he's feeling. His hold on her loosens, but only for a moment and the pair breaks apart breathless and bearing the scars of desire that's beyond the both of them; her hair is a mess, a dark-tendrilled mass of silky curls, and her lips are swollen from his kisses, parted and wet. He can't even imagine what he looks like, but that's not really his concern right now. With a flash of a smirk, he moves them so that her weight is supported by the wall and he shrugs off his jacket, casting the fine Italian material to the floor without so much as an afterthought. The shirt goes next. She helps him with that, and he can't help but notice just how pleased she looks with herself.

"What are you grinning about?" he asks her, voice rough and unhinged. Just like them.

Her smirk only grows as she rakes a lingering and appreciative gaze over the toned surface of his bare chest. "Nothing," she says. "Just thinking that one day I might get the whole deal, O'Brien." She reaches out and skates a hand over his skin, teasing fingertips drifting down, and down, resting upon the gleam of his designer belt buckle. "You know, instead of just the Reader's Digest version."

He laughs. A great bark of laughter that fills up the cab. "Reader's Digest version?" he asks incredulously, eyebrows arched, and, suddenly playful, he rolls his hips against her, happy to see it still makes her shiver, still makes her breath go ragged and her heartbeat thrum under his fingertips. "You filing a complaint, missy?"

She shakes her head languorously and leans forward, claiming his mouth, tracing the tip of her tongue along his bottom lip and seeking entrance, surprising him for, like, the billionth time with just how forward she can be. That she isn't as innocent as everyone thinks. That sometimes she makes him feel like the teenager. She pulls back and smiles and Johnny feels his heart leap with what he sees in it. Hope. Only he has no idea for what. "Not a chance," she breathes into him, and what he's not surprised by this time, is how that's all it takes to reignite the blaze between them.

Bu then it never did take very much.

And that's why this time there is no pausing, and no talking. There's just them, two people who have every reason to be anywhere but exactly where they are, and doing exactly what they're doing, but two people who seem to have no desire whatsoever to let go of what they're feeling. To let go of each other.

And even though he knows what they're doing is wrong and that it's a betrayal on more than one front, and that the day will come when consequence will rain down upon him, he can honestly say he doesn't give a damn. Not now, not when it's come to down to this. Not when his world narrows to the maddening ecstasy of sinking into her warmth, not when she's holding onto to him for dear life, when he has no true idea of where he ends and she begins, not when his name tumbles from her lips in a shaky cry that sounds like a promise from an angel, and nowhere near as unclean as what it really is. And sure as hell not when her oblivion bleeds over and into him, swallowing him up from the inside out and sending him into a place where there's nothing he can do but keep her tight against him, and pray to God that he never looses whatever it is he's found with her. Whatever it is she's given him. Because he can't be sure he'd survive without her. He's too far gone. And he thinks that maybe even she knows it now.

But would that really be the end of the world? he thinks suddenly, irrationally. Would having her know how much this—how much she means to him be as devastating as he used to think it'd be? Maybe. And maybe not. He hasn't decided yet; just like, well, pretty much everything else having to do with her. It's an enigma of epic proportions. A treacherous situation piloted by a real life angel, an angel he's disturbed to find out has the power to build him up, and make him feel so alive it hurts, or crush him in the palm of her hand like he's nothing at all. He isn't sure which is more frightening.

But the sudden swirls of doubt are only allowed the very briefest of moments to brew, because, as goes their routine, haste is a given. With a long, contented sigh, she releases him and brings her legs down so she can stand on her own again.

He pulls back as well and looks at her, takes in the heave of her chest, the satisfied flush that starts in her gorgeous face and blooms out and trails down, the grin that makes her seem like she's glowing—and he thinks he's never seen anything more beautiful in his life. So beautiful that he wishes he could keep her just like this forever, exhilarated by their passion, flying high on what he made her feel. Not a Cassadine, not a Spencer, some roundabout surrogate son of Sonny's, some fuck-up punk, or some West Coast prepster she never really talks about—but him. Him. Johnny O'Brien. The eternal shadow, the man in the background who's never allowed to do anything but look and listen. Certainly not touch.

Funny, he thinks, as he watches her ease the thin straps of her dress back in place with nimble fingers. He knows power, he knows might, and he knows what its like to be merely an observer of both, but at this moment he feels like there isn't a damn thing he couldn't do. Couldn't be. Couldn't have. And he knows that's because of her.

Suddenly a sound breaks him out of his daydream—a giggle, high and airy, soft and sweet, a sound straight from God in his ears.

"Stop staring and get yourself straight," she scolds him, digging into her purse and coming up with a hairbrush. She pulls it through her tresses, and he finds it hard not to be mesmerized again—and it's not just because she's an incredible thing to observe. It's because he can observe her. Here. In this sanctuary of steel and marble and glass. He can touch her. He can hold her, kiss her, want her and need her. He can do all those things, but only when no one's watching. Only when it's too late and too dark for anyone to notice, only when they know it's safe. That they're safe. From him. From that ever-present worry that happens to take the form of her big brother.

And all at once Johnny's not just grateful but he's resentful, too. A furious, reckless kind of resentful that he can feel sizzling in his blood like sausages in a hot pan. And he wonders if any of this is truly real, if he can even feel this much at one time, if this soft-hearted, beautiful girl can really inspire the tempest of contradictions brewing inside of him. The answer he finds isn't reassuring in the least. Not that he has any idea what reassuring is. Because he's quite certain he doesn't. All he knows this second is that she's done brushing her hair now and that she's glaring daggers at him.

"Johnny! I mean it." She hits the emergency stop again and the cab lurches back into movement. "We don't have much time now," she says, gesturing to the floor indicator above their heads and still managing to look cute and utterly fuckable, even through her frustration. And just like that he's starting to think a second round wouldn't be so hard to pull off. She seems to catch onto this fact pretty quickly. She directs a finger at his currently bare and hopefully distracting chest.

"No," she says resolutely. Obviously not as distracting as he'd hoped. "Absolutely no more… play." She stumbles girlishly over the word and he smiles at her renewed blush. How she could have participated in what they just did and still be able to blush is just beyond him. Fucking adorable, but a mystery nonetheless.

"We'll be there in less than a minute, Johnny, and I'm already late. If we don't look not guilty in sixty seconds, Jason is going to know something's up."

And the mood has officially been killed. Amazing how one word can be, like, the biggest and coldest bucket of ice-water known to man. Sighing, he bends to pick up his discarded dress shirt, vainly trying to shake out the wrinkles. "Relax," he says. "We'll be fine. Your brother won't notice a thing." To his credit, he's really trying not to sound bitter.

"And if he does?" Clearly, he failed.

He pauses then and looks at her—really looks at her. It's times like these that he truly wishes he could read minds, because all he wants—as hopeless as he understands it is—is to know that he isn't that only one who realizes how deep they've slipped, how far they've fallen, and how there's a pretty good chance they're never going to get up again. That he's never going to get up again.

"Would it be so bad?"

As soon as the question is out, he regrets it. Every reason why it was so not a good idea is reflected in her eyes, obvious in the sudden sag to her shoulders; it was too much, too soon. Damnit.

"Forget it," he says quickly, shrugging on his slightly rumpled jacket, perhaps a little too roughly, and buttoning it closed with his head down. "Just forget I said anything."

Slowly, a pair of black leather boots enters his field of vision.

"Johnny…" Her voice is so gentle it almost hurts. She reaches a hand up to his face, not all tentative like a girl her age should be, and his eyes slip shut at the feel of her fingers on his skin. "That isn't what I meant."

"I know that."

"No," she says softly—yet sternly. "No, I don't think you do. Look at me."

It takes him a second, a long second, but he finally does look at her, and feels the knife push a little deeper when he does. See, its one thing to blurt out something you really wish you hadn't and having it be so telling. It's something else entirely to see everything you feel looking back at you, and still knowing that spilling your guts was indeed the worst thing you ever could have done. That? That stings.

"Johnny, I care about you. Do you have any idea what sort of position that puts us in? Puts you in?"

He nods his head. Of course he knows. Wishes he didn't. Maybe this would all end a little better if he could just be clueless for once in his life. Not have to worry about all the shit that could go wrong. Will go wrong.

He sees her take in a shaky breath and he recognizes its purpose. Emily is a peacemaker. A practiced referee. And right now she's trying to find a way to tell him what they both already know. What they've known since the start. That if he was to find out about them, the next battle she'd be in the middle of would be between her brother, and her lover. And he can see in her eyes that her loyalties aren't yet clear, that she doesn't know behind which man she'll stand in the end. He isn't sure how to feel about that.

"Jason will kill you," she says, and he involuntarily flinches. Did he also mention that she's direct? Painfully direct, sometimes.

"No, he won't," he answers her, voice tight and childishly defiant. Jason not kill me when he finds out I'm screwing his baby sister? Three times a week. On an elevator. In his building. With him just upstairs? Right. Sure. Denial much?

"And you can be sure of this?"

Stubbornly, he grits his teeth and glares at the ascending lights of the floor indicator. He lets his silence voice his reluctant agreement, and he's thankful that on top of being direct as hell and a peacemaker, that she's also damn perceptive. He hears her sigh, low and tiredly, in response.

"Look," she says. "I don't have anything to reference this to, Johnny. Okay? I'm completely new at this, so please excuse me if I'm not quite sure about how to tell my big brother that I'm sleeping with his top guard. Every time I even bring up the subject of guys he gets this look in his eye, like he's trying to will be to be a lesbian or something. Of course he'd never say it, but the idea of me with a guy, it weirds him out, Johnny. Big time. He hated both Juan and Zander. I can't even conceive of what'll happen when he gets the direct subject of my sex life—with a grown man, no less—thrown in his face."

She sighs again, raking a hand through her freshly combed locks in a movement of pure mental exasperation. Oddly, a hopeless kind of laughter bubbles out of her and Johnny feels something in him clench. "I mean, where do I even start? Last I checked there's no easy way to break it to your mob enforcer big brother that you're doing one of his employees. Because somehow leading in with 'Hey, Jase, guess what—you know, Johnny? Yeah, that Johnny. Well, we've sorta been having sex together for, like, three months. That cool with you?' is really the right approach. "

The harshness of the statement hangs in the cab for a full twenty seconds, taking weight in his gut, drilling a hole there. He's honestly trying not to hate the words that just came out of her mouth, but he's having a hard time with it. He knows it's true. That, yes, basically, that's exactly what they've been doing, sneaking quick fucks whenever they got the chance, and that's just how Jason will perceive it. But something in him just can't reconcile with its ugliness. Because to him this isn't ugly. As silly as it sounds, to him it means something. Something real. Something good. Something that he's always thought she felt the same about and now isn't so sure. It isn't until she's about to open her mouth again, that Johnny breaks the quiet all on his own. "That's it?"

"Is what it?" She sounds confused, and he doesn't blame her. Join the club.

He draws his eyes up again, staring hard into her impossibly deep brown eyes, wishing they weren't so deep, so easy to get lost in. Wishing that his mouth wasn't always so disconnected from his mind when it comes to her, that maybe just once he could shut up and let it slide.

Ha. He wasn't that lucky. Or that smart. "Sex," he blurts—she isn't the only one who can be direct. "Is that all this is to you, Emily? Just sex?" God, O'Brien, could you sound anymore like a chick? He resists the urge to drop gaze with her, despite wanting nothing more than to run headlong into the elevator door and put himself out of his freaking misery, and forces himself instead to see how his callousness sent her beautiful face crashing; she looks devastated. Her face crumbles, and Johnny feels like the biggest asshole on the planet. Of course it's not just sex. That's his game. Not hers. He rushes to ease the blow. "No, Em, that isn't what I—"

"It's okay." She stops his half-assed apology cold and gives him one of her placating smiles. She uses it to smooth the edges and he knows this. He's seen her use it on her family, on Carly when she's ranting her ass off, on Spencer when he's being too big brother-ish. On Jason when he's busy knowing her too well for her own good. But she'd never used it on him before. Not until just now. "It's a valid question. I mean, we've been, um, seeing each other for almost three months now and you have every right to know if this is going anywhere, or if we're just…"

"Screwing around?" The offer is quiet and bitter to its very core, but it's the truth. No use sugar coating. They've been doing it on an elevator for weeks now. What does he expect? A happily ever after? When? Before or after her bother puts a bullet in his brain for taking advantage of something so sweet and pure and trusting?

No, definitely no point in bullshitting now. She may be some kind of new-age princess, but he's no prince, and this isn't a fairytale. Not even close.

"That isn't what I was going to say and you know it." She glides closer to him, a warm and tiny hand snaking into the hold of his larger one, fingers threading together. He stares at it, at their hands melded together that way, and at that second he can't help but hate Jason Morgan with everything he is. Hate the fact that he owes the man his life. Hate the fact that she loves him beyond reason. Hate that a shared loyalty to the same person could be the one thing that keeps him from finding out if this incredible girl could be the future he's waited twenty-eight years for. The future he was beginning to think would never come. And even though he understands that some things—especially things like this—are better off left alone, once again his mouth is light-years ahead of his brain, and before he knows it, he's talking.

"Maybe there's a way," he whispers, folding his other hand over the net of their fingers. "You know, a way…a way we could tell him where he wouldn't freak out." He looks at her again, eyes grave. He wants so bad for what he's saying to be true, thinks there a good chance it isn't. "Jason can be a reasonable man—okay, maybe not reasonable. But he can be reasoned with. He loves you. He respects me. If we're strong, if we go in there and lay it all out, if we make it clear that we lo—" He catches himself before the L-Word makes a full-blown attack, but he can tell by the sudden, nervous flutter of her lashes that it was a pointless save. "—if we, uh, make him understand that we're not just messing around, but that we're… serious about this—about us, he'll get over his disapproval, Emily. Eventually. He may not like it—at all. But you know your brother. He won't forbid you anything. Not even me."

For a moment, just a moment, she looked thoughtful. Like maybe she was thinking it could be true, that it could happen. But, just like anything else, moments pass. He was just really hoping this one could have been different.

"But he could forbid you. And that's what I'm terrified of, Johnny. Jason's forbiddances tend to be permanent." With a tiny, self-assuring nod of her head, her beautiful eyes become hard and determined and his mouth goes dry. Oh God, he knows that look. Emily's going to try and save him from himself. From her. From Jason. Oh, shit, no…

"No, no it's too risky," she goes on. "We can't do it. He can't know. Ever."

She says it like its law, like there's no room for debate, for what he feels, and something about that sets off an echo of panic in his chest. His hands close tighter around hers and he isn't sure why, but looking into her eyes, into her heart like she lets him, is giving him the feeling like this conversation is more an ending than anything else. She's shutting out and shutting down; she's showing that blood isn't needed for her to be a Morgan. So much like a Morgan. "Look, Em, we can't hide forever. I know there are a lot of risks, a lot of shit to sort through… but… I mean, don't you think it's worth it? Don't you?"

Silence. Silence so horrible and battered he's having a hard time believing it's real. It can't be real. He can see that she cares. He knows that she cares. Why won't she talk? Just talk…


Her lips part and he feels like thanking every deity known to man because he knows that this is it. After three months of sneaking around, of lying and denying, of trying his damndest to make her into 'just another good lay', and failing miserably, that's she's going to say it. She's going to let him know that this wasn't all just in his head, that she feels it, too. She's finally going to give him the words…

"Johnny, I—"


The sound that saved his life now crushes his hopes. And just like that the elevator doors open and she's out of his reach, of his arms, and halfway into the hallway. He steps after her, not thinking, not caring. His sudden insurmountable confusion won't let him. "Emily, wait." His hands close around her fleeing form and dimly, somewhere in the back of his mind, he's aware that grabbing Jason Morgan's sister around the waist and pulling her against him like she's a lifeline is probably not a bright thing to do. But only dimly. "Don't do this," he pleads with her, blocking out how weak and inadequate his words sound. "I know what you're doing, and you need to stop it."

She shifts in his hold but won't look into his eyes. "I'm not doing anything, Johnny."

With a gentle hand, he urges her chin up, makes her look at him and only him. He won't let her run away. Not this time. "You're trying to save me, Em, but you don't have to. I'm all grown up. I know what I'm doing here. I know what I want."

"Do you really?" Her voice wavers and his heart crumbles just a bit as realization settles. She's afraid. Afraid for him, for herself…of letting down someone she'd willingly die for—because, grudgingly, he understands that's how much Jason means to her, how much she'd give up for him. Even this. But still there are so many things swimming in her eyes that he isn't sure what to think, isn't sure if his place among the fear and the pain and the regret and the guilt is as solid as he wants it to be. Because he knows she cares about him. He can see it there. Feel it just under her skin, but he just doesn't know if it's a good enough reason for her to rip apart her whole life, and he suddenly isn't sure if he wants it to be, if he wants to be the reason she loses all that.

"Because I don't think you do," she snaps. "I don't think either of us does. We've been treating this—this thing between us like a game, but it's not a game! It's real and it's dangerous, and I'm not ready to see you get fired, or beaten beyond recognition, or killed because we couldn't keep our hands off each other. I will not be the reason you loose everything!" With much effort, she's frees herself and slumps tiredly against the hallway wall. Her shoulders sag and Johnny can plainly see the war going on inside of her. But it's only when she looks at him again—with glinting eyes—that he truly understands.

Emily Quatermaine is a better person than he'll ever be. And a stronger one, too. Because she's going to do what he can't.

"I care about you," she whispers brokenly. "And I don't even think I understand how much, exactly, but what I do understand is that it's enough for me to know that telling Jason is not an option. And if you—if you can't live with that then maybe we should just… stop." It's starting to feel like the world is falling out from under him because even though he saw it coming he still can't understand. He takes a small step toward her but Emily stops him cold and moves away, her back now to Jason's door. "No. Don't," she warns him, the inevitable tears, the ones he knows she hates, leaking into the corners of her eyes. "Don't come any closer, because if you do I know I'll cave and that's something I cannot do. Not to you, Johnny—no matter what it is that I feel. And you can't ask me to. You just can't."

"What can't he ask you?"

Oh, fuck.

And it seems the feeling is mutual; Emily wheels around, mouth agape, and is practically touching noses with her brother.

"Jase," she says breathlessly, pretty much failing on the 'don't look guilty' front. But it doesn't seem to faze her. "I was just on my way in," she smiles broadly, blinking her eyes wildly, and resets her purse on her arm, taking a nervous swipe at her hair. She's trying to smooth it out again and Johnny really wishes she wouldn't, because he can see Jason's eyes narrow critically on the movement. "And I hope your ready to be wowed because I managed to talk Sonny into sharing a few of those recipes he's always trying to keep so secret." Jason eyes her warily as she attempts a laugh, but it's a tempered wary, a softened concern that he only offers her.

But the inspection of his sister only lasts a moment and Johnny is suddenly met with the unwelcome and thoroughly unnerving weight of Jason's stare. A stare that's stripped of concern. A stare that manages only to be cold and accusing. "Something's going on here and I want to know what it is." He shifts his gaze back to his sister and Johnny takes the opportunity to hazard a breath. "Now."

"Nothing's going on, Jase, rea--"

"Emily, don't lie to me."

She flinches at the steely edge of his voice and seems to cave, her eyelashes fluttering guiltily. "Okay, look, Johnny and I were just…" As she trails off, Johnny finds himself grateful for the breath he just took, because suddenly he can't breathe at all. That is, until— "…asking me to do him a favor," she finishes quickly. The cover wasn't perfect, she seems aware of that, but at least he can feel his lungs filling again.

Jason's brow goes up. It isn't much, but for him it speaks volumes. He knows every word is bullshit. He knows his sister, the one that walks on water in his eyes, just lied. To him. And he isn't very happy about it. "What kind of favor?"

She continues shakily and Johnny wonders how in the hell she can think this is convincing at all. If there's one thing Emily cannot do, it's lying to her brother. To his face, anyway. She looks so much like a scared little girl it's downright frightening. "Uh… he, um… wanted me to pick out a gift for his… for his… girlfriend for him."

"His girlfriend." Jason parrots his sister, his gaze sweeping over Johnny in that way he has that makes you just know some bad shit is coming your way.

Emily nods. Enthusiastically. A little too enthusiastically. "Uh-huh. Um…Carrie!" Both men start slightly at her tone's sudden climb, but Emily quickly flashes a watery smile to smooth the edges. "I mean, that's her name—right, Johnny?"

"Yeah," he lies, and nods tightly, even though nothing is more obvious than what an immense mistake it is to do both. Lying right to Jason's all-knowing face is like looking straight into God's eyes and giving him the finger. He should just attach a lightening rod to his head now and be done with it. It'd be a quicker death, that's for sure. "That's right. Carrie," he confirms wit confidence he cannot feel. Johnny locks eyes with Emily. "My girlfriend."

"And you can't help him with this, Em?" The question is directed at Emily, but Jason's eyes never leave Johnny.

"That's just the thing," she answers her brother. "I told him that I wouldn't do it by myself. That it's important for him to be there for it. That's what you heard, Jase…me saying that he couldn't ask me to do that for him. That's what's going on."

Slowly, Jason's eyes return to his sister. The softness is there again, but along with it is something else, something else that seems to cut right through her, and she blinks nervously under its weight. "That's what's going on," he echoes her, the statement holding a silent question.

This time Emily doesn't speak. She only nods, timidly. Johnny can swear he sees tears in her eyes. But he isn't given time to examine it.

"Fine. I believe you." Jason lifts a hand to her face in an entirely unexpected move and gently brushes his fingers across her cheek. She trembles slightly at the contact and dips her head. "Go inside," he tells her softly. "I'll be right in to help you get things started."

And in a flash, she's gone. Without a glance back, Emily's inside the penthouse and the door is shutting behind her.

When the telling 'click' is heard, Jason's gentle demeanor is gone and back is the Iceman. He turns to Johnny and Johnny straightens mechanically. If this is it, If Jason's going to call him on the suspicions Johnny knows he has, then he's going to be ready for it. The last thing he's gonna do is bitch-out. Play it cool and take what's coming—whatever the hell that turns out to be.


"Yeah, Boss."

"Take the rest of the night off."

Okay, in the scheme of things he'd been preparing himself for that definitely wasn't on the list. Like, at all. "What?"

"I said take the night off. Go home."

And he knows he shouldn't protest, but... "But won't you need me to drive Miss Emily hom—"

"Leave." The command is quiet, but it's given in a tone Johnny knows all too well—a tone that makes him think Emily wasn't so far off base. "Now."

The now is what finally does it, and Johnny, still admirably holding Jason's stare, nods his head and walks away, feeling the enforcer's glare at the center of his back the whole way to the elevator. He boards it silently, knowing, as the doors close on the penthouse level of Harborview Towers, that he couldn't have been more right if he'd tried.

This definitely was an ending.

To a lot of things.


Words: 6,709. Time: Well, I got it done in one day. Kinda afraid to tally up the actual hours, lol.

(a/n) I'm thinking there could maybe stand to be a part II, a little resolution to the whole thing I've set up. But then again, maybe its better left like this, where you all can just surmise on your own what may have happened to Johnny and Emily since it's obvious that the jig is up. ::shrugs:: I really don't know yet, and honestly, I've got so much fic on my plate that taking one something new would probably be a really bad idea. Tell me what you all think regardless; I'd love to know. :)

Story update: So, look it, to those of you who read my other stories: THE NEXT CHAPTER OF SIB IS COMING!! And I am so, so, so sorry for taking two frigging months to get it out. I had about half the thing written when my neighborhood's power system had a mini meltdown and I discovered that my '100 safe' surge protector was full of crap. It fried everything I had open during the surge, the chapter of SIB being the most notable lost. I expected word to do that auto recovery thing it does, but no luck. I have no idea what happened but that version of that chap is forever gone. But, all is well with my computer since then and I've got about ¾ of the chapter replacement written. I should have it posted in about a week's time, maybe sooner. Hopefully sooner. : )

Okay, well, that's it for me—bye! –Loke