A/N: Oh yeah! The plot! Not all flashbacks this time I promise!
Once he was out of that trailer Jackson felt like he could breathe again. Too many people, too much talking, not enough facts, not enough action. If he was ever going to get out of this alive he HAD to figure out what was going on here, and that meant figuring out why Alexis was here.
If Alexis was here, that meant the Syndicate was behind both his job and Kirill's job. This was very bad news. Jackson was counting on dropping some names with whoever was in charge to get him and Lisa out of this mess, but now that wouldn't work. He realized that he was more frightened of his own company than another. "You're just a pawn," he heard Lisa's voice in his head but shook it away.
The compound seemed to be some kind of old factory and it's outbuildings. Once inside he could tell it hadn't been used in a very long time. There was scaffolding all over the interior as if a work project had been abandoned. The perfect hideout for the Syndicate. He'd been to several similar locations all over the world.
His guards marched him up some metal stairs to a mezzanine area with offices overlooking the factory floor. A door down the walkway was open and Alexis' unmistakable voice was drifting through it. He couldn't see her from where he stood, but he could see Kirill through a window.
"Have you found it yet?"
Kirill shook his head. "My men are looking."
"For your sake, lets hope they find it. We took you on a trial basis after the Bourne incident in Moscow. It would be a pity if I had to go back to the Director and tell him after we financed your surgeries you paid us back by hijacking the wrong plane."
Kirill was silent.
"Tell me when you've found it."
As Jackson was walked toward the office, Kirill walked out and met his eyes as they passed. It was a look Jackson was very familiar with. One men wore when they dealt with a beautiful woman like Alexis as a manager.
She was facing away from him as he was brought into the office, looking out the window.
"Jackie." she used the name to get a rise out of him but Jackson was a stone. "I've missed you. How have you been?"
"Well I've made a few calls. Still working for the Syndicate? I'm surprised, since we were the ones who… well, you remember I'm sure. I heard they broke you out of Tadmoor after a couple years. Needed your expertise on some case or another. Still all about the money, eh Jackie boy?"
That stung, considering it was the excuse he'd just used to Lisa and for himself for two years for working for the same people who betrayed him. He swallowed that barb, knowing it would resurface later to haunt him like her comments always did. "So you know why I'm here?"
She smiled at him with her teeth. "Well that's where I'm confused. When I spoke with your master, oh I'm sorry, your contact, he was under the impression your job had already been taken care of in Texas. But then I see Miss Reisert and I realized you have unfinished business." She looked at her watch. "Cutting it a little close aren't we Jackie? You've got under an hour to make the room change or your entire plan is shot."
Jackson fumed. It was true. He had followed Lisa to Texas, even attended her grandmother's funeral in hopes to get her alone for a minute, but she had been running back and forth all day between caring for her grief stricken mother and the hors d'oeurve table at the wake. When he realized he was going to have to improvise on the plane he made the call to his contact, knowing it wouldn't be possible from the air. How was he supposed to know the plane was going to be hijacked? (or his mark would be so damned difficult?)
Alexis laughed when she saw his frustration. "Have a seat Jack." The two guards manhandled him into a chair, unlocked one wrist of his handcuffs and hooked him to the heavy office chair. Once he was secure she waved them away, never taking her eyes off Jackson.
They closed the door and turned their backs to the window. After 4 years, Jackson was once again alone with Alexis. She circled him like a predator and he forced himself to stay facing the front, even though every instinct told him not to let her out of his sight. "I'm pleased things worked out this way," she cooed as she ran her fingertips across his shoulders. "I could never tell the Syndicate this, but I'm glad you lied to your contact and got yourself in this little scrape. Poor little Jackie, on his own and needing Alexis to help make it right."
He couldn't help the reaction to lash out at her but she moved quickly out of his reach with a chuckle. "I must say I'm surprised you're having trouble with this one Jack. The submissive waifs always were your specialty."
Jackson almost laughs when he hears his own first impression of Lisa coming from Alexis. It made him feel a little better to know he wasn't the only one who misjudged the little hotel clerk from Miami. Those feelings left quickly enough when he felt her hands on his shoulders and her breath in his ear.
"I always wondered why you found me so attractive when you're such a sadist. It always turned me on watching you work those little whiny bitches. Maybe after you coerce Miss Reisert into making that call we can have some angry sex. I'm sure you've got a lot pent up in there wanting to get out."
The sensation of her hands on his shoulders, fingers tracing along his collarbone and her breath in his ear made him shudder with the realization that he still wanted her. How could that be? After all she had done to him? "Where do you draw the line?" Lisa's voice echoed again in his mind.
His muscles tensed and he reached for her once again with his free hand but she was already walking behind the desk.
"I've got a room all set up for you. Table, chairs and of course a phone. Need anything else dear?" Her condescending tone made him even angrier.
"Not before I get some answers. What the hell is the Syndicate doing hijacking a plane? Also, if they were hijacking a plane, why wasn't I told about the op before I booked a ticket? I think that might have been good to know for my op."
All the flirting and joking was gone in an instant. She looked very seriously at him for a moment. "The hijacking was need-to-know. If you needed to know, you would have known. Besides, which do you think ranks higher on the Syndicate's list? A politician with a big mouth? Or a computer chip with a code that can hack any system?"
It was all coming clear now. Jackson had thought he was high on the chain of command. He was nothing more than a little bug, a nuisance that distracted from the real motives for the Syndicate.
As if to solidify his conclusion, Alexis said, "We could assassinate Mr. Keefe any time we want. You are replaceable."
Jackson set his jaw. "Well in that case lets just forget it. Obviously my op is secondary to Kirill's. We should pool our resources and focus on finding that chip."
Suddenly Alexis began to laugh. It was terrifying. Her mouth open, white teeth flashing, Jackson knew he had said the wrong thing. Before he could struggle for an answer she gasped out between laughs, "Oh my god! You LIKE her! This is too good!"
"What?" Jackson was shocked at her accusation. "What? No! I-"
"Of course you do! Trust me, if anyone knows the signs it's me. You loved me once. God you're pathetic."
"No! Alexis listen, I -"
Then just as suddenly the laughter stopped. Alexis was right in his face with her hand around his throat. "No you listen Jackie boy. You are going to make her make the call or die trying. Because you know what will happen if you don't? I won't just stop at turning you over to the Syndicate. I'll kill her. And all the hostages. Don't think I won't."
Her teeth clipped the last "t" right in his ear and Jackson knew she would do everything she said, and worse.
Alexis didn't wait to hear his response. She walked to the door and called in the guards. "Take Mr. Rippner to the interrogation room downstairs. And bring Ms. Reisert."