A/N: Hi! Alright, this fic was up under my cousin's name a couple of years back, and I'm adopting it and bringing it back, because frankly, I'm bored, and was just inspired since I watched Cheetah Girls the other day.
Bigger summary: AU placed between the first and second movie and pushes the second movie later on. What if fame got to the Cheetahs' heads once more and they went back to Jackal? He still wants them under his label three months after Toto's rescue, and they agree to work with him. They're smarter this time around. Jackal has to work with their requirements or lose them. He agrees, but there's one thing he didn't count on- Dorinda's oldest foster sister keeping an eye on things to make sure he's not messing with them again. Will fame threaten to tear the Cheetahs apart again? Growing up is in store for each and every one of them, whether they like it or not. GalleriaDerek, JackalOC. Rated for occasional language and some not-at-all-explicit innuendo.
"No! Absolutely not! Do you remember what happened last time with that leech of a man?" Dorothea Garibaldi demanded of her daughter Galleria as the two of them walked back into their New York City apartment.
"Mom, it's been three months! He saw what we're really about and wants that! He's signed so many more people for their real talent lately! This could be our big break! Please?" Galleria protested.
"That's what you said last time…" Dorothea pointed out.
"We're smarter this time, Mom. We won't walk into any crazy schemes. No masks, no lip syncing, just us."
Dorothea frowned again, then looked to the side, remembering something. "Hold on… didn't Dorinda's older sister take an entertainment marketing class a while back?"
Dorothea took a moment, then nodded. "She did. I remember her telling us when she picked up Dorinda not too long ago."
"Your point being?" Galleria asked.
Dorothea squared her shoulders. "Fine… you can meet with him… only if Taylor can accompany you girls. I trust that young woman. I do not trust him. I'd like her to be there to be there this time- to keep an eye on him, his tactics… his hands-"
"Mom!" Galleria shrieked.
"What? Those are my demands for you girls to do this- and be in a public place, no less. Fine, call him. I do trust you girls, no matter what you think. You just need to grow up a bit. Go ahead, talk to him, but if he pulls something again… this time I will say I told you so."
Galleria squealed. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! You won't regret this!" She replied, running off.
Dorothea sighed. "I already do."
Taylor Quinn looked back at the large rock jutting out of the ground from the bench she was sitting on in Central Park. She was freezing, just sitting there drawing. However, she should've seen that coming, wearing thin jeans, a low-cut long sleeve shirt and a leather jacket at the end of Fall. She put down her sketch of the rock and the trees in the background and zipped up her jacket.
"Not bad. Were you an art major?"
Taylor jumped at the unexpected voice almost right next to her ear and turned around sharply.
The owner, a tall, thin man with reddish brown hair and obnoxious blue sunglasses offered a sheepish smile. "Sorry, didn't mean to startle you."
Taylor, who had spent all her life in the city and was no stranger to possible creeps, she arched an eyebrow. Not to mention the guy looked sleazy, between the hair, sunglasses and… she didn't want to get started with the clothes. He looked like he was trying way too hard to look like someone big. Then, there was the sleaziest bit of information yet- he was no longer checking out her sketch, but her herself.
The man smirked. "Not a creep. I promise. I don't look familiar?"
Taylor scoffed, then looked around, making sure that there were plenty of people around if something went down. "No…?"
The man extended his hand. "Jackal Johnson, Def Duck Records."
Taylor tried not to burst out laughing. This was the guy that her foster sister and her friends were trying to go to for a record deal? This was the guy who practically screwed them over? Oh, that was rich. She offered what she hoped looked like a genuine smile and turned around. "Then I'm supposed to see you, actually. I'm- OOF!" She stumbled when something collided with her side, and if she hadn't recognized the voice that called her nickname, she would've elbowed her potential attacker quickly.
Taylor laughed, then bent down further so Dorinda could get down from her current spot on her older sister's back. "Hey, Do," She looked over at Dorinda's friends, who were walking up a few feet away. "Hi Aqua, Chanel, Galleria!" She waved.
"Hey, Girl!" The others called.
Jackal turned to her, and, as she could practically see coming, pushed his glasses down and tilted his head down to get a better look at her. That is, her chest. She wondered if he knew she was onto him. "So, you're Big Sister Cheetah, huh?"
"Mm hm. Enlisted to make sure you behave with this latest deal of yours." Taylor replied, crossing her arms over her chest. "Taylor Quinn, at your service."
Jackal outstretched his hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Sweetheart."
Now she couldn't fight the sort. "Don't even go there, pal. I'm here to make sure no funny business goes on."
"Hey hey hey, easy. I'm just being friendly. That's how we wanna start this off- on the right foot, huh?" He looked at the teenagers, who smiled uneasily. He sighed. "Alright, let's get this over with, huh? I know you guys aren't happy with me, so let's just get down to business so we can all relax and get you on the way back to getting international stardom."
None of the others looked too convinced.
Jackal sighed, then tossed one arm around Taylor and the other around Galleria, not noticing Taylor raise an eyebrow at his arm, then give him an 'are you kidding?' look. "Come on, let's go sit down and get somethin' drawn up. There's a reason we're not in the office, ya know?"
And so it began. They worked up a contract that worked in the girls' favor. To the girls' surprise, Jackal didn't pull any tricks. He was interested in the Cheetah Girls. There was no mention of Global Get Down or any other 'new, in demand' group. He worked with the girls' school schedules. All seemed well, and before they knew it, they were scheduling a meeting for the following weekend about hearing some of the girls' other songs. The girls parted ways from the two adults, leaving the two of them alone.
Taylor started fishing around in her messenger bag for her phone, trying to ignore the walking ego beside her.
Jackal leaned over. "So, is Sister Cheetah satisfied?"
Taylor glared at him. "A, don't call me that. B, my eyes aren't on my chest, they're a fair bit higher up, and you better be looking me in the eye right now. C, on one condition…"
Jackal shrugged. "Name it… and I don't do sexual favors… much…" He winked.
Taylor narrowed her eyes and scoffed. "The condition was a verbal contract of our own- under the table business-wise, and we don't tell the girls. Here it is- start off this whole thing with a two month trial. If you try anything to exploit my girls in any way, or you pull some crap in the next two months… we're all done. The contract goes bye bye, and I take your ass to court if come need be. Agreed?"
Jackal put his hands up. "Fine by me, Sis-" Taylor set him with a glare that he finally caught on to. "Ahem- Miss. Quinn."
Taylor smiled and nodded a farewell before turning to go to the corner, where a couple of taxis were lining up.
"Hey, Miss. Quinn, ya know, that's way too formal for my kinda business partners. Taylor, right?"
Taylor turned back to him, getting less and less convinced by the moment that he was the kind of man who took himself seriously. " 'Business partner'? and yes, Taylor."
Jackal shrugged. "You oversaw that whole thing with the girls, and you and I just made a contract all our own." He smiled at her, and she figured he was going for a charming vibe. That certainly didn't go with the rest of his appearance at the moment, in her opinion.
The young woman didn't have a response for that. She offered another weak smile, then turned back towards the taxis again.
"Ah ah ah, you didn't let me finish."
Taylor flinched and turned back. "What?" She didn't want to know what the people around them who were looking their way were thinking, seeing the two of them like that. "What's up?"
Jackal smirked. "My business partners travel in style with me, Taylor. Come on." He nodded towards the block parallel to the one she was headed for.
Taylor looked around. "…Where?" She looked around, then wanted to slap her forehead when she saw a large, white, stretch limo that had two lines of blue and purple neon lights bordering the bottom of the doors and windows.
Jackal snapped his fingers and pointed at it. "My ride,"
Taylor stared, then laughed. "No, I'm good."
Jackal waved his hand. "Come on. I told you I'm not a creep. This isn't some trick. You're a gorgeous girl and you deserve a gorgeous ride, not some hideous yellow… thing. Just tell the driver where you wanna go."
Taylor sighed. "Seriously?"
Jackal motioned at it again. "Come on, Partner. I'm really trying to win you guys over, here. I feel bad. Let me start making it up to you guys."
"It's not me you need to work things out with. It's them. I don't know you."
"Then get to know me. Come with the girls next week. You're their mothers' eyes and ears, right? It helps everyone."
Taylor flinched again. He was a wheeler dealer. There was no saying no to him. "Fine, whatever. I have weekends off, anyway. See you then." She turned back towards the taxis, only to see they had all been taken. Now it was a fifteen block walk, or a ride in the most ridiculous limo she had seen, with a man she had just met who she was convinced was sexist. While the rational part of her was screaming it was a bad idea, she was starting to like the limo with a stranger better.
Jacak rolled his eyes and tossed his head back. "Come on. I'll hand over one of the bottles in the mini bar as a weapon if it makes you feel better."
Taylor sighed. "Ugh. Fine. Whatever. And I don't need the bottle. I have a Swiss army knife in my bag." She pushed past him and towards the limo, then stopped. "Oh, and by the way- not part of the contract or anything, if you hurt them in any way… I'll decapitate you or kill you and hide the evidence. Got it?" She started walking again, and he followed behind.
Jackal mock-saluted her. "Got it, Chica."
"Don't call me that, either. Taylor works." She shot back.
" Got it… Tay, maybe? Please? Come on, Taylor's so… blah." Jackal made a face.
They reached the limo, and she practically yanked the door open. "Are you gonna keep being this difficult?"
"Are you?" Jackal countered with a smile, watching her get in.
Taylor poked her head out of the limo. "When it comes to watching out for those girls? Hell yes," She went back in.
Jackal looked to the side, pressing the tip of his tongue to the inside of his right cheek. She was going to be more of a challenge than Galleria's mother. He could just tell. He chuckled. Well, he always did enjoy challenges.