No copyright infringement intended. I do not own Red Eye or any of the characters.
A/N: This should look familiar, but watch for the twist at the end of the chapter!
Lisa's eyes fluttered open and the pain in her forehead made her stomach turn. What happened? Where was she?
"I want you to get excited about your life. But you gotta get real."
Things got real very quickly as the pit in her stomach turned icy. She was trapped on a plane with a Dr. Phil quoting psychopath who was holding her father hostage to get her to become an accomplice to the assassination of a Politian.
"I'm challenging you, starting now, to stop dealing in opinions and assumptions and start dealing in facts. Fact: Fearing to act is human. Failing to act is just plain dumb. Fact: Thinking when you should be acting will only make your head hurt." I'm not makin' this up, Leese. It's right here." He was holding the book. The book that had been her only chance of communication, of letting someone know she was being blackmailed into killing a world leader. A glance over her shoulder showed her that mercifully the older woman was still alive, but that didn't change her situation.
"Fact: You've been out for a half an hour and Keefe's room still hasn't been changed. So I got you some aspirin." His voice had taken on the tone of an impatient parent dealing with a disorderly child. One look at his face told her he was nearing the edge of sanity, and she didn't know what would happen if he lost it. "I need you coherent, Leese."
Jackson was beyond frustrated. He watched as the woman took his offered medication and reached for the phone. The pilot's voice came over the loudspeaker regarding the weather, but Jackson's mind was focused on only one thing: getting Lisa Reisert to make the call. He had worked blackmail stings before. He knew how to persuade people and had taken the minor inconvenience of doing it on board a plane in stride. Especially with a mark like Lisa, he had expected little to no resistance. Yet here he was, reading Dr. Phil of all people to prove his point. "Now, let's do this."
"If I do it, if I make that call, do you promise you'll tell who's outside my dad's house to go away?"
She was still fighting him, even after he had painted such a simple picture of the consequences. Sarcasm was a tool he used often, but with Lisa it was genuine disbelief in her ability to grasp the concept. "You call, I call, Dad wakes up, puts on coffee, never suspects a thing, you go back to work, life goes on."
The look in her eyes told him she had broken and before she could change her mind he ran her credit card through the phone. "I am now calling your hotel. I don't have to tell you to sound convincing." Even he was surprised by how angry his tone sounded. Usually he remained calm and in control, letting the mark ride the emotional rollercoaster. Her mocking reply of "You've said enough," made him feel dirty, like he'd compromised one of his rules of conduct. He handed her the phone and juvenilely responded, "Good."
She was making the call. Jackson allowed himself a tiny breath of victory. In just a few moments he would have accomplished his mission. Then he would keep Ms. Reisert under careful watch until he received word that the job had been done. A quick flashback to their conversation at the Tex Mex made him wonder what they would talk about after the job was done. Of course she would feel guilty and if her previous attempts were any sign she would probably still try to prevent the assassination from taking place, but what then? After he foiled her attempts to escape and save the day, would they talk? Jackson knew about guilt, what it can do to a person. Lisa wasn't a bad person by any stretch of the imagination. A bit of a loner, and far too noble for his tastes, but she didn't really deserve to have her life ruined. That was just the nature of the job. She would be blamed for the assassination plot, lose her job, and probably spend some time in jail, that is if the company who hired him didn't decide to take her out themselves. Still, he knew it would be the guilt that really ruined her life. An unpleasant twinge a the back of his mind reminded him that he would carry that same guilt, more even if he counted Lisa into the body count. Maybe he could talk her into leaving town before things went down. There was a laugh. He would blackmail her, then help her deal with her guilt. With a grimace Jackson wished he'd never picked up that Dr. Phil book. It had apparently turned him into a therapist.
Something wasn't right. The tension in the air had changed somehow and Jackson's training picked up on it right away. With a glance at Lisa, he began scanning the cabin and noticed a passenger across the aisle having trouble with their phone. Realizing what was going on he grabbed the phone away. "Gimme that. Hello? Cynthia?" The static on the other end was all the response he needed. Shaking his head, for the first time he realized that he might not pull this off. He felt something he hated. Fear. He knew what would happen to him if this job didn't happen. Death took the number one slot. Probably number two as well actually. Best case scenario he would be blacklisted and forced to go into hiding for the rest of his life.
As he hung up the phone, he had to give her credit. She had almost pulled it off. If he hadn't noticed the other passenger, she would have completed the call and he would have carried on as if the plan were still in motion. "Pretty clear thinking, given the circumstances. Let me guess, stress management courses? They're really paying off. We get outta this, I may have to steal you."
"Excuse me, miss."
"Are the phones not working?"
Lisa felt sick. She had been so close! She huddled in her seat as Jackson talked to the stewardess, knowing her attempt would have consequences. She braced herself for another head butt or a slap, but was surprised to see him so rattled. She watched him try to regain control of the situation, and for the first time, she realized something. "You don't have a backup plan? Why are you doing this here?"
His response was almost a laugh, as if he realized the ridiculousness of the situation himself. "Blame your grandmother. She keeled over, you hopped on the next flight, Keefe changed plans, here we are."
"Excuse me. Peanuts or pretzels?"
"Peanuts, thank you." Jackson snatched a bag of peanuts in an effort to get rid of the stewardess.
Lisa shook her head, "No." Jackson grabbed her a bag anyways. His futility was her futility, so she had to ask the big question. "So, what happens if they don't start working?"
His eyes turned cold. "You bury your dad in a closed casket."
They sat in silence, watching the little blue screen on the phone, each one hoping for it to turn back on, but for entirely different reasons. Lisa could literally feel the tension pouring out of her blackmailer and for the first time noticed his vulnerability. He was doing a good job of hiding it, but as they waited for something neither of them could control she could almost relate. Almost. Except of course for the killing part, and the terrorizing people part. Still, she had to try. If he could be the man she met in the airport, there must be some part of him that could recognize how wrong this was. She broke the silence. "I know him."
"Keefe." She forced herself to make eye contact. "He's a really decent man."
With a shrug he turned hostile. "Well, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Like you." Lisa shrunk back as he went on the offensive. "You know, I've known you for a while now, Lisa. Before tonight, I mean. And far as I can tell, your life revolves around your job. The occasional cocktail at the corner cafe, the classic late-night movies. And scrambled eggs at am." Lisa turned away, horrified. His voice turned mocking as he asked, "What turned you into such a loner? Was it your parents' divorce? Wait, did someone break your heart?"
"The captain has turned off the fasten seat belt sign."
The ding from the sign was a god send. She had taken a chance and opened up to him and he had destroyed her sense of security, her sense of self confidence, and her sense of uneasy camaraderie, reminding her that he was a monster. She couldn't be so close to him anymore. "I have to go to the restroom."
He held up the empty water bottle. "Best I can do."
Enough was enough. His petulance was getting ridiculous. "OK, you know what? You got me. I'm gonna make that call when I can make the call. But right now you gotta let me go." She held her ground. "I need to go."
He balanced his options carefully. "OK. I trust you."
"And I need my purse."
He laughed. "Not that much."
He watched as her body swayed down the aisle toward the toilets at the back of the plane. She was so small, she looked almost fragile the way her shoulders stooped and she had to put out her hand to catch herself against the wall. But as she reached the back, a little girl came running down the aisle and cut in front of her. Lisa stopped, obviously debating her options, and slowly turned back up the aisle. "There's a line, I'll go up front," she mumbled as she passed him in the aisle.
Jackson returned to his seat so he could keep an eye on her as she moved toward the cockpit, but he had a split second of uneasiness. Part of him wanted to race after her and drag her back to the seat next to him.
Two seconds later it was too late. The man held a box cutter to her neck and held her in front of him like a shield. In a thick Russian accent he yelled, "No one move! We are taking over this plane!"