Present: Judgement Day
Emily can feel a bead of sweat trickling down the back of her warm maroon sweater as she shudders against the cold in the courtroom. Everybody is simply sitting, waiting for the jury's verdict, but they're all too wound up to talk. She decides she needs a change of pace from the stress and anticipation; who knows how long the jury could take to deliberate. She locks eyes with Nolan, seated two rows behind her, and he gives a tight smirk and butterfly wave. She returns it with a genuine smile, her eyes darting to the courtroom door.
She meets him in the hallway, her heart racing, still thinking about the jury, the verdict, the trial.
"So. Still think it was worth it to perjure yourself? Now that you've seen how the arguments end?" She rolls her eyes at his familiar purr.
" I didn't perjure myself, Nolan. I just gave the jury an...alternate course to think about."
"To save Daniel?...or Jack?" She fixes him with her steely gaze. "Cause you know, Ems, the way I hear it from a certain heritage-confused-Jackie-Chan, 'you can't save them both.'" She is about to respond when the doors swing open and a familiar face peeks out.
"What about me?" Jack asks, teasing but genuinely curious. Warm smiles light up both the blonds' faces.
"Hey buddy, how you holding up?" Nolan swings an arm around his friend's shoulders as Emily watches. The oldest Porter turns to her.
"Actually, I came to ask you that. Are you ok? The way you left the courtroom so fast I...got worried." Her gaze softens at his brown eyes; she can see Nolan watching closely for her reaction as she responds with a tight smile,
"I'm fine, Jack, thank you. It's...a lot to handle, but I'm hopeful."
"I was really surprised at your testimony, I can't believe Brooks went after you like that. He subpoenaed me; I was afraid-" he cuts himself off, remembering that he only told Nolan about Declan lying on the stand. He doesn't want to make enemies with Emily by revealing such a thing. She puts on her best confused face, but Jack is already uncomfortable. He slips out from under his friend's arm and slinks back into the courtroom with a, "well good luck," thrown over his shoulder.
Emily's expression switches the second they're alone.
"Brooks subpoenaed Jack? Why the hell didn't you tell me?"
"That's why I came over that morning, Ems. Jack would have been toast on the stand, but luckily you stepped up to the plate. Nice job, Batgirl." He purs. Her glare doesn't recede.
"What if I hadn't? Jack could have gotten himself thrown in prison! You can't keep things like that from me, Nolan!"
"Not like you had much of a choice." he grumbles, eyes changing from crystal to a burning sapphire. "I'll bet Brooks was pleased with your results."
She sighs. "How do you think he compares to Treadwell?" Her mouth is tugging upward in a smirk. He returns it with on of his own.
"Treadwell still wins weasel-of-the-year."
"More like decade." They share a smile before he returns to their earlier conversation, the apology escaping his lips in a sigh.
"Look, Emily, I'm sorry, ok? I didn't want the fact that Jack was subpoenaed to impact your decision." She rolls her eyes.
"Impact the decision my a-" he grips her arm tightly, feeling like he has to make his point now or never.
"Emily. You are engaged to a man who is standing trial for murder. Guy spends time in jail, he gets suspicious. I don't know if you realize this, but he is watching you and Jack constantly throughout the trial. You know my stance on it. I say dump the heir and go with the bartender-" He flinches at her look, then points to her face. "There. You know you can't. So all I'm saying is that if you mean it, stick with Daniel. I don't want to see you or Jack get hurt. Who knows what your fiance's capable of these days?" She is about to respond when the bailiff opens the courtroom door with a flourish. The blonds turn in surprise, their billionaire demeanors slipping efficiently back in place.
"The jury has returned with their verdict." She shoots Nolan a simultaneously annoyed and worried look and gives his forearm a squeeze before power-walking back into the courtroom, just in time to see Daniel take his seat at the defense table. She steps directly behind him, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder and whispering,
"I love you," in his ear as she takes her seat. Nolan watches her chocolate eyes take in the 12 people who walk through the door next to the judge's bench. Ordinary citizens they are, not pillars of justice. But these people, her fiance's peers, will be the ones deciding whether or not Emily's vengeance continues along the path she's so carefully laid down. For her sake – and, admittedly, his own, because he'll be the one picking up the pieces of her broken plan if this falls through - Nolan hopes the Grayson heir is acquitted.
The partners in crime watch intently, two rows away from each other, as Daniel turns and touches the diamond on Emily's finger, stroking it. A gentle smile plays on her lips and she laces her fingers with his, almost glaring at the head juror, who hands the verdict to the judge.
"Will the defense please rise." Daniel slips his hand out of Emily's and stands with Brooks, who is calmly twirling a pen between his fingers. Emily's hand, missing Daniel's touch, darts out for comfort, and finds Jack's, but she pulls back at the last second, embarrassment and restraint coloring her features. He doesn't meet her eyes. The judge unfolds the verdict, gives a pregnant pause, and then reads in a clear, regal voice:
"Daniel Grayson, the court finds you not guilty of the charge of first degree murder in the case of Tyler Barroll." Daniel collapses onto the table in relief, as Victoria and Emily jockey for a prime spot to rub his shoulders and comfort him. Emily tries to meet eyes with her nemesis, but can see the ice queen's gaze facing elsewhere, towards the jury box. A certain juror by the name of Ann Woodbury is glaring coldly at her, clutching her purse in her hands which Emily bets has every picture in existence of the son that Lee threatened. Emily watches Victoria's eyes follow Ms. Woodbury out of the courtroom, neither of them breaking the gaze. She turns her attention quickly back to Daniel, who stands up and hugs his mother, then her, planting a tender kiss on her lips. She smiles against his mouth, relief flooding through her. They exit the courtroom hand in hand, Emily glancing pointedly back towards Brooks. He salutes her, a wry gesture that she finds herself amused at, despite her feelings toward the man.
Daniel turns to her outside the courthouse in the freezing winter air, clutching her hands tightly. She is exhausted after answering the million questions the paparazzi had for her, avoiding the ones regarding specifics about her testimony.
"Let's get married." He says confidently. She laughs.
"I think jail might have gotten to you a bit, Daniel." She moves her diamond-clad hand closer to his face, and he shakes his head, still smiling.
"No, I mean let's do it soon. The sooner the better. I don't want to wait until June."
"Are you sure?"
"Emily...what you did for me in there, I...I honestly can't believe it. Nobody has ever believed in me or loved me that much." Neither of them mention his behind-the-stage part in coercing her into it, and she keeps the smile on her face, relieved that as deep as he is in the waters of his father's company, he is still oblivious about her truth. He looks at her with pleading eyes. She doesn't really need to be convinced. The sooner she is in with the Grayson family, the sooner her plans can continue to move forward.
"If you want to, Daniel..." he stares at her with an expecting face. "Then I would love to. Yes." He laughs and lifts her up, spinning her in his arms as she clutches his neck with her gloved hands. Her smile is genuine, it sparks of relief at his acquittal, contentment at the knowledge she is back on track, and she will admit, excitement at a wedding. She knows she can't let herself relish it too much, let herself become deeply involved and filled with regret later, but her girlish excitement at a wedding is one she won't suppress. Her course is set, she's survived this much and she can't and won't stop now.