title: Evolution
author: perletwo
summary: Post-movie. Lisa's life isn't the same anymore, thanks to the red-eye flight with Jackson.
disclaimers: Am not Wes Craven. Do not own Red Eye. Am lamer obsessive fangirl. Please do not sue me, unless you're willing to take a settlement in lifetime supply of knitting yarn, which is my main asset. :-(
A/N: The phrase "it's a lovely kind of pain" is from a Heather Nova song (I forget which). The line seemed to fit this piece and probably isn't infringing on anything, but I thought I'd better fess up just in case.

Lisa Reisert could feel herself changing. She just wasn't sure how to feel about it.

Her friends and family weren't sure how they felt about it either. They tended to worry and hover, and - every now and then she could see it in their eyes - they were a little scared of her.

Miss People-Pleaser was a thing of the past since the red-eye flight. Though still courteous and professional, she was given to drawing lines in the sand and defending them to ridiculous lengths. Often they were over the most trivial, irrelevant matters. Something simmering at a low boil would flare in her eyes at those times, and people tended to step back away for no good reason they could explain.

She no longer seemed to believe the customer was always right. Once, Cynthia caught her lying to a guest about what was against the hotel's rules, for the sheer perverse pleasure of refusing to give him what he wanted. Not that he wasn't a jerk who deserved to be shot down, but - by Lisa!

Lisa just made a face at her and laughed, and Cynthia let it go.

Right after the assassination attempt, her dad and her boss kept nudging her to take some time off and decompress. Lisa would have none of it. She wasn't tired, she insisted. And it was true; for the first time in almost two years, she really wasn't tired. She was wide awake and fizzing with excess energy, and happy to expend it on work.

And really, the boss couldn't complain too much about his most dedicated employee dedicating even more of her time to the hotel. Her style may have changed somewhat, but she was still far and away the best he had. So he let it go.

Her dad was tenacious. But even he couldn't really counter her counter-arguments. What was wrong with him? she demanded. He worried when she was quiet and withdrawn, and now he was worried that she'd started living her life again. She lunched with Cynthia; she'd expanded her circle of phone-friends; she still stopped at the corner cafe for a drink once a week; she'd even added a couple of colorful chiffon-print dresses to her wardrobe and went out dancing with Cyn and a couple other girlfriends once or twice a month.

It took awhile, but in the end he ran out of things to question her on. So he let it go.

Lisa found she missed real exercise, not just the gym-machine stuff she'd been doing before. She'd have liked to take up field hockey again, but adult lacrosse leagues were hard to come by. So she went out for weekend soccer instead, relearning how to keep track of two dozen moving bodies all around her at once, how to attune her senses to fast-moving action, and how to play to win. She wasn't used to the running anymore, and the effort burned her lungs at first. She hated the weak-kitten wheezes that came from her chest after a hard run the first couple of weeks. But they reminded her of the sounds -he- had made, after she'd ripped his throat open. When she thinks of that, well, it's a lovely kind of pain.

Twice a week she made time after work for a self-defense class, with her boss's blessing. But simply deflecting blows just made her impatient, so she asked the instructor if she could switch to kickboxing instead. Somehow the -smack- sound of her own hits landing on an opponent was deeply satisfying. It reminded her of the fight in Dad's house, after she started getting her own back; but it wasn't quite right. It was too formal, she could feel punches being pulled, quarter being given. She kept at it for self-defense purposes, but after awhile her heart wasn't in it anymore.

She slept better than she had for a long time. But her dreams were still troubled things, and she still snapped awake around three a.m. on quite a few nights. She soothed herself with eggs and warm milk, and sat listening to the hum of silence around her, thinking long thoughts about herself. She -burned- constantly for something missing in her life, something she couldn't put a name to. An hour at the kitchen table, letting questions without answers chase themselves around inside her head, usually led her back to bed.

Lisa wasn't surprised to come home after work one night to find her front door standing wide open. She felt a bright acid spike of rage and tamped it down almost at once, but she wasn't really surprised. Her lacrosse stick wasn't leaning against the side table; someone had stripped the place of her defensive measures, she felt sure.

She walked into the living room and found Jackson Rippner standing in the center of the room, waiting for her.

"Hey, Leese," he said with a smirk. "Been awhile. Six months. Gotta say, I missed you." His voice held a dry rasp underneath the words, but was otherwise just as she remembered. She looked him over. He was dressed much as he had for the flight; he wore no tie or scarf, and his collar was open as it had been then, blatantly showing off the ragged round scar below his Adam's apple. His arms and hands were spread wide, displaying his apparent lack of armament.

Lisa stalked slowly toward him. "You know how it is. I've been so busy. Hardly given you a thought." That earned her a low chuckle, and she saw him tense. As she drew near him, she pulled a four-inch ornamental pin from the bun in her hair and a six-inch miniature polished-steel dagger pin from her jacket lapel - makeshift weapons were never far from her hands these days - and launched herself at him.

He got his arms up in time to deflect her downward slashes, used her momentum to spin her off to one side, and yanked off his sport coat. A grin full of pure gleeful spite split his face. "Let's go then," he muttered, and reached for her.

She slashed at his arm with the dagger and he gasped, but kept control of his wounded forearm and knocked it from her hand. She made a driving overhand swing for the side of his neck with the hairpin, but he twisted to one side and grabbed her arms to twist with him, and the pin wound up piercing the top of his shoulder instead. She head-butted him and shifted to knee him in the groin while he was stunned, but he caught her leg and held it immobile between clenched knees and thighs.

They stayed locked in this grotesque embrace, hands grasped around forearm or bicep and legs braced against each other, and grappled almost imperceptibly, pressing against each other's grips with all the concentrated strength they could muster. Their eyes were locked, doing battle with their wills as well, and they staggered slowly around the floor in a parody of a dance.

Lisa growled, and heat flared in Jackson's eyes; he lifted her off her feet and threw her into the nearest wall, knocking the breath from her lungs. Before she could dodge, he was on top of her again, pinning her to the wall. She wriggled under his weight, trying to find a weak spot to pry a limb loose, but he bore down and countered the flailing of her hands with his own. Both were breathing heavily, panting and snarling.

He wound a hand into the hair at the back of her head and pulled firmly to make her raise her face to his. He was flushed from the exertion, lips red and wet, and a heavy heat pooled in his eyes. She had just time to catch a quick gasping breath before his mouth came down on hers.

Brief attempts to twist her head away told her it would only end in bruises and tooth-cut lips; surrender was her only safe option. So she met him with equal intensity, and felt everything in her body begin to melt. This, -this- was what she had been burning for all these months, the nameless formless thing that had been missing from her life since the red-eye, real and solid here in her arms, muscle and sinew and the blood-hardened knot of muscle at the fulcrum of her thighs.

He broke the kiss and pulled back to study her. What he saw there God only knew, but she scrutinized him right back. In his eyes she saw a mix of heat, tenderness and exasperated affection. He released her hair and reached to stroke a thumb over a bruise forming at her hairline, and his lips hinted at a sweet, almost childlike smile.

She saw that neither had he been able to walk away from their encounter unchanged, and she felt something brittle and petrified inside her crumble. She reached up around his neck and pulled him down for another kiss, every bit as hot but this time slow and sweet as well.

"I did miss you," she mumbled into his hair as he nuzzled her neck.

"Hope so," he mumbled back, then pulled away. "Lisa? Can we just, maybe move on from - all this?" He gestured toward the hairpin in his shoulder and she flinched. But he kissed the frown line on her forehead and she felt herself relax.

"Tonight? Yeah. Yeah, we can. Tomorrow morning? That I don't know about. I might feel differently then. Ask me again." Her fingers were probing the edges of the pin, looking to see how much damage was done. He ducked his head to meet her eyes.

"Tomorrow, I happen to know, is your day off." He grinned. "Isn't it?"

She smiled back, sweet and sly. "Why, I believe it is..."