A/N: I don't own any Red Eye characters. However I do own my OC, Logan Tivey. Enjoy yall!
Honey Hibiscus and Cherry Blossom Fusion. Jackson Rippner read from the amber-colored perfume bottle poised perfectly above Lisa Reisert's bathroom sink. Such delicate scents suited his delicate Lisa. He smiled lightly as he enclosed the bottle tightly within his grasping fingers. His cerulean eyes lingered on the crumbling label as he brought it close to his face and inhaled deeply. Her familiar scent danced through his nostrils, eliciting memories of their fateful flight together. The airport bar, seats 14E and 14F, together. The airplane bathroom, Jackson often thought fondly of that ordeal. He remembered holding her close, feeling her fear, her tingling flesh, his powerful hands wrapped firmly around her porcelain neck. Her beautiful neck. He never meant to hurt her. He would never intentionally place a crack in such fine china. But he had a job to do. And her overpowering scent of honey hibiscus and cherry blossoms could not keep him from doing it. He was, after all, a professional. A professional with a reputation to regain.
Jackson abruptly tore the bottle from his face. That damn scent. Her damn scent. It had taken him months to repair his shattered image, and Jackson figured he had years ahead of him until his reputation was fully repaired. That is, if it ever would be fully repaired. Image and reputation were the cornerstones of success in Jackson's business. Weaknesses were not. Weaknesses were to be stamped out, and pounced upon; not inhaled and enjoyed. Jackson slammed the perfume bottle hard onto the sterile white counter and stared quizzically at his reflection in her mirror. Was Lisa his weakness? No, he thought firmly. No. She was his weakness. Was. Past tense. And it wasn't just her that contributed to his failure that night. There were a myriad of outside forces at work. It was late, a red eye flight for goodness sake, and Jackson had not slept a wink. The nights before jobs were always hell. Especially this one. Charles Keefe had a particularly sneaky security detail, and Jackson's informant was almost caught at the last moment. So Jackson had a few drinks at the airport to ease the stress. With Lisa.
With Lisa. Was that his choice? No, he only extended an invitation, Lisa accepted the offer. She didn't have to accept it, he was only being friendly, establishing contact. Contact was a central part of the job after all. Imagine how the two of them would have made it through takeoff if he hadn't established contact? She would have caused a horrific scene and chances are she would have been far less compliant. And there wouldn't have been witnesses, seeing the two of them sitting happily together before takeoff. It would have been a complete mess.
So Jackson made contact, in line, by standing up to that jackass customer. It was a classic maneuver. By standing up to the customer, Jackson not only took up Lisa's cause, but showed he related with her line of work, showed he knew how to deal with unruly customers, just like her. Just like her. He knew all about her line of work, and wanted to show he understood, and was capable of nipping an annoying customer in the bud. Just like her.
And it worked. Swimmingly, in fact. Although she was hesitant at first. Not like the other air-headed bimbos he so often was assigned. The others were always so desperate for a decent man, they dug their claws straight into him halfway through his first advance. Typical, easy, always. Never challenging, always easily subdued, and the crying, oh god, the crying. Jackson cringed as he thought of the many lapels and silk ties those bimbos had almost ruined with tear-stains and slobber. And he would have to talk them down, like a high school guidance counselor consoling a junior varsity athlete who unsurprisingly didn't win a football scholarship. Cajole them in a light, commanding tone. Pick up the phone, open the laptop, or what have you, and do what he, and his company, wanted done. And then he'd leave them, horrified and shuddering, to contemplate their actions and vaguely spew their recollections of the strange, blue-eyed devil who forced them to break the law. They would spew this mess to friends, family members, and sometimes even the police. Jackson's technique and routine were always the same.
But Lisa was different. Lisa was hesitant. Lisa didn't fall head over heels for his gentle yet manly maneuvers. She remained suspicious and aloof. Just like him. Just like Jackson. And that intrigued him, she intrigued him. But that wasn't why he invited her to drinks. He knew she would prove more of a challenge, her trust would be harder to gain. And his surveillance not like other muscle-headed jerk offs, and could handle rejection. Jackson had noticed Lisa was always aloof around men, and figured this would be a quality she admired. And she rejected his invitation in the end. Jackson didn't expect her to be sitting beside him 10 minutes later. That was her choice. She seduced him!
Jackson angrily swatted the perfume bottle off of the counter. The glass bottle shattered and skidded across the tile floor, and its amber contents pooled at Jackson's feet. He cursed as he now found himself enveloped in her scent, and stomped toward the bath mat to try to wipe the mess from his new leather loafers. A squeak from outside the bathroom interrupted his efforts, and Jackson was thankful for the excuse to escape the room that was now filled with Lisa's intoxicating aroma.
Jackson exited the bathroom and closed the door tightly behind him to entrap her scent. He smiled thankfully as he stepped into the living room of Lisa's apartment, where the red-headed reminder of his new job and potential image maker sat bound in an easy-chair. Cynthia. Lisa's poor co-worker and friend looked disheveled and terrified. Her brown eyes were wider than usual, and were glued unsteadily to Jackson's approaching form. She was shivering, and a thin line of fresh blood was running down her cheek.
Seeing Cynthia there, tied up, helpless, bleeding. Jackson couldn't help but smirk as he glided toward her. He would have preferred Lisa to be sitting in her place but that time would come soon enough. After all, Jackson knew the job was just beginning. And this time, he was not going to allow runaway thoughts about Lisa Reisert to ruin it. Lisa ruined the Keefe job, and he was going to make her pay with this one. He was going to make that bitch pay for seducing him.
Jackson snapped himself free from his thoughts and turned his focus to the red-headed heap before him. For now, she would have to do.
"Cynthia," He greeted her aloud, placing a syrupy inflection on the latter syllables. "How are we doing tonight, dear Cynthia?"
He relished the shiver that passed through her as he slid his index finger through the trail of blood creeping down her face. Jackson scoured the room for a paper towel while the redhead fumbled with her words. Finding none, he wiped his finger clean on the front of Cynthia's torn blouse.
"I…I mean….this…person…"Cynthia mumbled meekly, pausing several times to bite her lip and think.
Jackson smirked as he watched her face tighten in confusion. He could already tell what was wrong her. He, like other operatives in his line of work, were trained in this particular technique of mind manipulative interrogation. But no one was as highly skilled in it, as his business associate and partner, Logan Tivey. Jackson should have known Logan would seize the opportunity to play with such easy prey. She did not do well in idle situations.
"Admit it's what you like about me."
Reading my mind as always. Jackson glanced past Cynthia's shivering form to see Logan Tivey leaning against the door-frame to the kitchen. Although not more than 5"4, Logan had a cocky and powerful presence, accentuated by a sinewy, curved figure and her dark, lipstick smeared smirk. Her olive green eyes were narrowed playfully and traced with minimal make-up giving her a natural, tender glow. Her flawless pale skin resembled the flesh of a Georgia peach and needed no rouge, although despite Jackson's objections, she did sometimes apply touches here and there. Tonight she had obliged him, thankfully, and he thought she looked stunning, even in the soft dim light of Lisa's apartment. She was always stunning. Lisa was always stunning.
Logan clutched a ragged roll of Bounty towels in one hand, a miniature kitchen knife caught lazily between the French-tipped fingers of her other. She mashed the roll against her chest and quickly tore off a sheet before tossing it aside with a dramatic pause, as though it had suddenly transformed into something disgusting. She never took her eyes off Jackson throughout the ordeal, keeping them glued upon him as she gingerly wiped the remnants of Cynthia's blood from the blade.
"I didn't want to dirty your beloved's dishware,"
She explained sarcastically. Her voice was enticing, youthful and trusting yet always permeated by an underlying lusty chill. Jackson straightened up as she ambled toward him. He watched as she turned the knife through her fingers like a bored student would a pencil. She paused before his muscular form and studied his face momentarily. Red lips pursed, she traced his cheekbone with her spare ring finger. Her touch could be so delicate when she wanted it to be.
"Maybe you can soak this in the perfume you found in her bathroom. You know, a keep-sake to add to your collection?"
A thin smile crept across her lips as Jackson's face tensed. Logan knew she had struck a nerve. His defenses were low, and she snatched the opportunity to lean in close. Their noses almost touched, and they could feel one another's breath on their faces. Her hand snaked toward his face.
"Did you ever have a collection for me, Jack?" She asked it so gingerly, so knowingly.
Jackson's jaw tightened. He wrapped a hand around her advancing wrist and squeezed it tightly as he pushed it away. His grip was crushing, but Logan never winced. Jackson had taught her never to wince. He had taught her so much.
"You're supposed to be on perimeter," Jackson growled, his voice low and commanding.
Logan smirked at his fury. "And miss out on the chance to see your crush's apartment? Don't be silly, Jack." She ripped her wrist easily from his grip and Jackson momentarily cursed himself for teaching her that maneuver. "Besides, if I were sitting in my little prowler outside, Cynthia and I would have never become such close pals. Isn't that right, Cyn?" She bared her bleached teeth and flashed the quaking redhead a carefree grin that went unreturned. "She's a little shy." Logan explained. But when you cut to her core, she's really quite talkative."
Jackson rolled his eyes at Logan's dark humor. "Talkative about anything worthwhile?"
"Why don't you find out for yourself?" Logan teased. She pressed the knife against his chest and watched as he took it in his powerful hands. "You can pretend she's Lisa," She whispered sarcastically.
Jackson returned her comment with an icy smile and bored tone. "Get back on perimeter, Logan."
"With pleasure, Jack. Someone's got to make sure you don't botch this job too." She shot him a parting smirk and turned toward the door. She patted Cynthia lightly on the shoulder as she passed, chuckling heartily as the redhead shrank back from her touch. "Relax Cyn, you've already given me what I wanted. Albeit, rather..." She had difficulty spitting out the last word, and instead chewed on it thoughtfully. The mischievous glint disappeared momentarily from her eyes, replaced by despondency as she hissed. "Easily."
Jackson could tell Logan's mind was racing. It always raced during disappointments on the job. Targets like Cynthia were like candy to Logan. They were fun, a quick burst of energy, but never enough to fully sustain her. Logan needed more. Jackson had trained her to need much more.
"Leesey's due home around 9." Logan had snapped herself out of her momentary depression. "Cyn here was sweet enough to text her. She's renting a movie, so give or take a few minutes. You know firsthand how darn indecisive Reisert can be." Her tone was relentless and mocking and she grinned as Jackson's hand moved instinctively toward his collar, where the scar Lisa gave him lurked beneath the silk fabric. "See you in a few, Jack." Jackson watched as Logan snaked her fingers around the doorknob. "Unless little Lisa's packing pens in her purse."
Jackson didn't respond, and instead merely stared after Logan as she left the apartment. He was in no mood to deal with her, and was grateful to have her gone for now. He set the knife down on the glass coffee table that acted as a partition between him and Cynthia. The redhead's eyes were downcast, and her pale face was alight with shame. Jackson almost felt bad for the girl as he watched her. She seemed so hollow, so clueless, like so many of the girls he usually dealt with. Not like Lisa. So few women were like Lisa.
Jackson sighed. He supposed he should try to comfort her, like he did with most targets. He just hoped she wouldn't cry. He was wearing one of his favorite jackets, and lamented the idea of having to scrub another mess of tear-stains and saliva from his sleeves. Jackson inhaled deeply. He might as well stick to his routine. "This was beyond your control, Cynthia." Jackson couldn't count the number of times he had spoken those words throughout his career. He had it down to perfect auditory science. His words were clear, assuring, concise. But the redhead did not acknowledge them. Instead she remained frozen, her body crumpled in a heap, doe eyes glued to the floor.
Jackson shrugged. He had tried. There was nothing more he could do for the girl, nor cared to do for the girl. She had served her purpose. Her internal conflicts were of no importance to Jackson. This was business, and he could not allow himself to empathize with every emotional trainwreck his business caused. Still, Cynthia's case bothered him. It was rare for Jackson's targets to be forced to implicate an individual with whom they had a direct relationship. Usually the jobs were emotionally trying for targets merely due to heavy consciouses from the far away disasters they indirectly caused. Lisa had cried. But it wasn't the same. She was too selfless to roll over and allow the assassination, wallowing in useless self-pity. Selflessness. If she could have just cooperated. If you had just bloody cooperated Leese. Jackson shook his head free from his battling thoughts. They were not serving him, and therefore he needed to abandon them. Nothing could distract him now. Turning his back to Cynthia, Jackson ambled into the kitchen. He eyed the bottle of wine Cynthia had brought over for the "girl's night" he and Logan had instructed her to stage. Cynthia acted accordingly, and in behavior typical of a hotel worker, Cynthia acted above and beyond. She had actually brought the wine. Jackson couldn't help but chuckle, although he was grateful there was alcohol in the apartment for a change. Lisa's home was generally a dry place. He knew she preferred to go out for drinks.
He knew where Lisa kept the bottle openers, and he knew which cabinet she reserved for the wine glasses she unveiled on special occasions. It would have taken a stranger half an hour to procure a glass of wine, but it only took Jackson seconds. He sniffed the glass lightly and couldn't help but frown. Jackson supposed he shouldn't be so critical. After all, could Cynthia really have afforded better than "Chateau bon Marche'" on her salary? But years of black tie company events had spoiled him. This wine smelled weak-bodied, and cheap, but alcohol was alcohol and his encounter with Logan had left him quite thirsty. Sighing, he glanced at the clock, and the fleeting dissappointment over cheap wine dissappeared entirely. The black hour hand was close to the 9, while the minute hand trailed slightly. He read 8:45 from the sunflower emblazoned clockface. Sunflowers. How...Lisa. They would be together very soon, and to Jackson, that deserved recongnized celebration.
Jackson raised his glass of blood-red wine and toasted the air. "To joyful reunions, Leese."