HHFC#8: Trick or treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat. If you don't, I don't care. I'll pull down Annie's underwear! ~ Halloween, the movie
Vandalism: The New Aphrodisiac
His son was well on his way to becoming a juvenile delinquent, and, sadly, Jason Morgan was probably the only person in Port Charles surprised by that fact.
Stepping out of his bulletproof SUV, he slammed the car door shut behind him, his irritation with his only child seeping through his normally stoic exterior and manifesting itself in both his expression and his actions. It seemed as though, no matter what he did, the enforcer simply couldn't calm down. His teeth were permanently clenched together, grinding themselves painfully while his jaw ticked, his hands were balled into tight, dangerous fists without an outlet for their ever-building fury, and his left eye was twitching, a sure sign of his distraction and rage.
He had thought that Michael was a good kid. Always obedient at home, he never mouthed back to his father or disobeyed a house rule. He was a smart student, made the honor roll, and, as far as Jason could tell, he was considerate towards others. In fact, before that morning, the blonde hitman had been very proud of his son, often bragging to his boss and coworkers about how his child would not end up living a life of crime like they all had.
However, his disillusioned world had come crashing down upon him just hours before when he had received word from Michael's personal bodyguard, telling him that his son had snuck out of his best friend's house the night before, the two thirteen year olds going off to vandalize a local home. They had toilet papered the bungalow's front yard, egged its windows, smeared soap on the car that was in the driveway before wrapping saran wrap around it, and smashed every single pumpkin on the small property, including the ones that had been carved for Halloween, and, while, luckily, the boys had not been caught by the homeowner or the police, Jason was determined that his son would pay the price for his actions.
Whatever Michael's best friend's parents decided to do, that was their business, but his son was going to both apologize to the family he had attacked, and he was going to repent for his behavior by cleaning up the yard he had destroyed in the first place. It was the very least the kid could do in the enforcer's opinion.
"I still don't understand why you did this, Michael," the single father seethed, leading his redheaded son towards the front door of the small cottage. "If nothing else, I thought that I had managed to teach you respect for others, but this…"
"Dad, you don't understand," the thirteen year old protested, finally lifting his bowed, contrite head in protest. "The girl who lives here terrorizes me daily. She's awful!"
"So, this is about a girl?" And why shouldn't it be, Jason thought to himself. Wasn't it always about a girl when it came to teenage… and adult boys? "Listen, Michael," he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose as they came to a rest, side by side, on the front porch of the cozy house. "I don't care what a girl does to you; you can't go around destroying other people's property. It's a felony, and I get arrested enough in this family for the both of us. We don't need Diane getting dragged down to the PCPD for you now, too."
His son rolled his eyes, and Jason found himself practically biting a hole through his own tongue in order to prevent himself from saying something in the face of his wrath that he would later regret. Besides, he had to maintain his control. If nothing else, someone – and it didn't appear as if Michael was ready to – needed to appear contrite in front of the home owners they were about to apologize to, and he really didn't need them cowering behind their door in fright.
However, before he could fully get a handle on his temper and well before he lifted his hand to ring the doorbell, the front door was pulled open, and a tiny, adorable little imp of a girl greeted them, a bright, warm smile on her beautiful face.
"Mama," she yelled, apparently too excited with the prospects of guests to follow proper etiquette. "There's some strange man here and…" As her gaze landed upon his only child, she blushed, shuffling her feet in what could only be described as a nervous habit. "Hi, Michael," she fairly trilled out her greeting to his son, and Jason found himself smirking. Apparently, the slight child standing before him had a crush.
"Annie," the redheaded thirteen year old spat back venomously, and, before he could reprimand his rude kid, the little girl's face fell, and her plump, pink lips started to tremble.
"What the hell… I mean, why did you do that, Michael," Jason questioned his son, turning to face the teenager as they both still stood waiting for the child's mother to arrive. But the only response he received was a petulant folding of the arms and a glacial glower, and the hitman found himself wondering if that's what he looked like when he was pissed off. Frustrated and wanting some answers, the blonde turned back to the unknown girl before him. "Annie," he started, only continuing when she looked up at him, her wide, indigo eyes reeling him in as if he was under some kind of spell. Kneeling down, Jason continued. "Please, don't cry. I'm sorry my son was mean to you, but he hasn't been the nicest person recently. I'm trying to fix that, but it's taking more of an effort than I had anticipated."
"It's okay," the young pixie reassured him, grinning again and showing off a missing tooth. "Michael always yells at me. I'm used to it."
Poking his son in the leg, he asked, "why would you do that?"
"Dad," the thirteen year old protested. "You don't understand! She's terrible, always following me around, singing this stupid song about us sitting in a tree together, and, last week, she stole my Batman comic book and colored in it!"
"I'm afraid that's my fault, Michael," a fourth voice joined their conversation, and Jason Morgan found himself tongue tied for the first time in years. "I seemed to have passed down my passion for all things art related to my daughter, and she hasn't quite realized yet that there are some things you're not allowed to color on."
"Miss… Miss Webber," his son gulped, visibly paling. "What are you doing here?"
The petite beauty, obviously little Annie's mother due to the fact that the two of them were practically identical, laughed. "I live here," she answered his only child. "This is my home, this," she tousled the lively curls of the child standing before her, "is my daughter, and that's my car out in the driveway that you soaped and saran wrapped last night."
Still, Jason said nothing, but, apparently, his teenage son had suddenly found his voice. "You knew about that but didn't call the cops."
"I really don't think a little Halloween mischief was worth you getting a juvenile record, and, since you're here, ringing my doorbell, I assume you've come to apologize."
"And clean up," the enforcer added, finally standing to properly address the woman before him.
"Mama," Annie spoke up, directing all three older gazes in her direction. "Can I help Michael?"
"That's up to him, young lady. Evidently," her mother leveled a reproachful glare in her daughter's direction, "you haven't been very nice to Mr. Morgan recently. No wonder he wanted to toilet paper our house and smash all your pumpkins."
"I just wanted him to play with me," the young girl admitted, looking way too apologetic and sad for Jason to understand how her mother could ever punish her for anything. If he was here father… But he stopped himself there, refusing to allow that thought a chance to grow. It would only get him into further trouble with the blue eyed brunette standing across from him, and that was certainly something he didn't need at the moment, for he was afraid he was already in trouble too deep to find himself a way out of.
"Well, I think that should be up to Michael then," Miss Webber said. Looking to his son for an answer, she waited for the redhead to respond.
"Come on, shrimp," the thirteen year old replied. "I'll let you hold the garbage bag for me."
And, with that, the two of them were off for the SUV, Michael opening its heavy, black truck door to pull out the cleaning supplies they had brought along with them. He was just about ready to take stock of the situation, realizing the whole debacle had been caused by a little girl no older than seven or eight idolizing his son and having an innocent crush on him when the child's mother spoke up, interrupting his thoughts.
"Please, Mr. Morgan," she spoke softly, kindly, welcomingly. "Would you like to come in? I have freshly made hot chocolate if you want some, and, if not, I know there's some instant coffee grounds around here somewhere…"
He followed her inside, quick to decline her offer. "No, thank you. I'm not thirsty."
They moved into the living room, a brightly decorated yet livable room that he immediately felt relaxed and comfortable in. There were toys piled into the corners, magazines, books, and notepads scattered across the coffee table, and the television was on softly in the background, for Annie must have been watching cartoons when they had arrived.
"Are you sure I can't get you something…"
"I'm sure," the hitman murmured, smiling awkwardly in an attempt to ease the woman's nerves. Why she was nervous, he didn't know, but he sure as hell knew why he was. His only child had just toilet papered this stranger's house the night before because her daughter had a crush on his teenage boy, and, now, he found himself rapidly developing his own crush upon the mother of the little girl who's unreturned affections had started their entire mess in the first place. "Look," he coughed out, his neck reddening with embarrassment. "I'm really sorry for what Michael did."
"It's fine, really," she reassured him, sitting down in an armchair and motioning for him to take a seat as well, either adjacent from her in another chair or beside her on the couch. He chose the couch for obvious reasons. "Boys will be boys, or, at least, that's how the saying goes, right," she asked rhetorically of him. "And I understand that he meant no real harm, and of course he'd be uncomfortable with the attention my daughter gives him. I knew that she liked someone, but, until this morning, I wasn't aware of the fact that it was one of my students, one of my much older students that she had a crush on."
"Oh, that's right," the woman laughed, holding out a petite hand for him to shake, and he did so, marveling at just how very soft it was as his own rather large hand made it disappear almost entirely. "I'm Elizabeth Webber, Michael's art teacher. I guess this little misunderstanding gave us an opportunity to meet each other earlier than we would have if we would have had to wait for parent-teacher conferences next month. It's a pleasure to meet you. Despite his extracurricular activities, Michael is a joy to have in class."
"The… um…," Jason paused, cleared his throat, and then tugged on his flushed ear lobe. "The pleasure's all mine, Miss Webber."
"Please call me Elizabeth."
Nodding, he agreed to her request quickly yet silently.
"Anyway, as I was saying about Annie… I'm afraid she really doesn't have any real male presence in her life. Her father's not in the picture, my only brother lives and works on the west coast, and she only gets to see him during Christmas, and all my friends, as few as there are, are women." And a damn good thing that was, the hitman found himself silently praising. "I think she just wants, no needs, a man in her life to look up to, you know?"
Ineptly, he found himself responding, "Michael's never known his mother. She's in a mental facility and will probably be there for the rest of her life."
"So, then, you understand what I mean?"
He didn't, not really, for Michael had never before doted upon a woman, but what Jason did understand was the fact that, if there ever was a woman for his son to look up to and admire, Elizabeth Webber would certainly fit the bill, not that he would be comfortable with his kid crushing on a woman he planned to somehow, someway spend more time with, in a romantic sense, in the future. And, as for little Annie, if she needed a male influence in her life, then he'd be more than happy to provide that for her. However, even the blonde enforcer knew telling the single mother before him those things might just come across a little too strongly, especially for their first meeting.
"You know," Elizabeth spoke up once again. Apparently, the teacher liked to talk, and it was lucky for the both of them that Jason liked to listen to her. "If you have things to do, Mr. Morgan…"
"It's Jason," he interrupted her.
"Well, Jason," the brunette revised. "If you have things to do, Michael's more than welcome to stay here. I don't have any plans this morning or, really, all day. Annie and I were just going to hang out here, maybe bake some cookies, and Michael's more than welcome to join us. And don't worry. I won't make him work too hard. I'll make sure that they take plenty of breaks for snacks, and to rest, and even for some fun."
"He'll be fine," Jason assured her, furrowing his brow in disappointment at the thought that she was already trying to get rid of him. After all, he had just gotten there, and, maybe it was just him, but he thought they had been getting along fairly well. Sure, his conversation skills left something to be desired, but he was trying, and she could certainly carry a conversation quite nicely on her own, with or without his input. "And I'm staying," he added, his tone leaving no room for argument. "I have no other plans for the day either."
"Oh," Elizabeth blushed, a pretty shade of soft pink that made him wonder what she would look like when she was completely embarrassed and flustered.
"And I think this clean up job may take more than just one afternoon, too" he continued, suddenly feeling confident. Blushing women, especially this woman, had that effect upon him. "We'll probably have to stop by again tomorrow, and I'm going to tell Michael later when we go home not to make plans for next weekend… or the weekend after that either. Instead, he'll be here, cleaning, while we…"
"Get to know one another better," the petite beauty offered, grinning slightly. "You know, because you're Michael's father, and I'm his teacher."
"Exactly," Jason agreed. "I couldn't have said it better myself."