AN: Hi folks. Wanted to write a story that did not involve Jackson being angry psychopath. Trying to go from the angle that the way he acted is how he is when he is working, much like how Lisa is extra nice when she works.
Jackson broke his gaze away from the crowd to check his watch. When he looked back up to survey the parking lot, he realized that he had already forgotten what time it was. In irritation, he pulled his phone out and set it on the little table of a bar he had inhabited for the past hour. 'Five fifty-two' the phone taunted. Eight minutes before it was time to give up.
The click of high heels screamed to him above the rest of the street noises. It was in perfect tempo to match Lisa's agitated gait. The purposeful tapping was a sound he memorized years ago tailing the hotel manager. Jackson named this particular song the 'Staccato Bitch' because it was the only body language that ever put Lisa's anger on display.
She stopped right behind him and it took all of his willpower to not turn around. If she didn't want to see him, if she decided to turn around and leave, he would let her.
But Lisa eventually took the last three steps and swiftly sat across from him. She set her designer bag on her lap and kept one hand inside of it.
"You should know that I have a gun in my purse." Lisa's eyes were darker than he remembered.
Jackson smiled. "Noted."
It was not the answer that Lisa expected. She stayed silent and studied Jackson as she built her mental wall brick by brick.
"I didn't actually think you would show up on my first invitation," he said.
"I remember how it goes for my family and me if I don't do what you want." Her voice was darker, too.
Jackson kept smiling but the sincerity died. "Relax, Leese. No one is at your house waiting to ice your dad."
She leaned in closer. "Then what am I doing here?"
"Well I don't know about you, but I'm here to get a drink and catch up with an old friend."
"Rippner, I don't have the time or the patience to go through all off this preliminary bullshit. Just tell me what you want."
It took Jackson longer than he wanted to give her an answer. He had rehearsed in his head what he wanted to say over and over, but it never came out perfect. And if his answer sounded stupid in his head, what he was finally able to push out sounded downright pathetic. "I just wanted to catch up. To see you."
She snorted at him. "You and I both know that you are perfectly capable of 'catching up' on my life without my help."
"While that is true, I've refrained from those extracurricular activities."
Lisa began to measure out every word of the conversation in her head. "You're not here to harass me into doing something?"
Jackson shook his head.
"And you're not threatening me or my family in any way?"
"Nor will I," he promised.
"This is a fucking social call?"
"Yes," he said flatly.
Lisa leaned back in her chair. "I don't believe you."
Even though the conversation was taking the exact turns that Jackson had envisioned, it was hard not to let the exasperation seep into his voice or body language. He was trying so damn hard to be neutral and non-confrontational.
"Leese. I am not here to murder, maim, stab, shoot or otherwise injure, stalk, bully, coerce, manipulate, or anything else that you can think up toward you or your family or friends." He tried to be as thorough as possible.
The pent up aggression in Lisa's features did not fade away at Jackson's promise. He could see ideas click into place behind those darker-than-he-recalled eyes. She stood up fluidly and glided over next to him. Jackson watched her fingers traced the edge of the glass table almost seductively.
Her face was completely blank, but he knew what was coming even without the body language to tip him off. He could have stopped the slap, and nearly did out of pure reflex, but was able to steady himself out of force of will. It was as if Lisa had daydreamed about this moment. She knew exactly where her palm would land on his cheekbone and where her fingers would leave marks. Jackson wondered if slapping him was as satisfying as she had hoped it would be.
It was like sex with a stranger; once all the passion had gone out after the climax, neither lover had any idea what to do. So they stayed still in the position they ended up in: Jackson with his head turned towards Lisa but staring at a spot between her blue high heels and Lisa with her still stinging hand in the air and breathing heavily.
"Same time next week, then?" He spoke to the cement.
She left without an answer. Jackson almost felt comforted by the steady, angry rhythm of 'Staccato Bitch' in a way. As the sound died out over the noises of the crowd, he had to fight himself not to run after the music.
Jackson always arrived at his table at four thirty, ordered a Manhattan on the rocks, and waited. He usually finished his first drink at five seventeen and most nights he ordered a second.
Jackson had picked Wednesday night for drinks with Lisa because she usually had Thursday off. But that was before the red eye. Who knows what she had changed in her life since then. Well, besides the gun.
Lisa did not show up the next week or the week after that, but Jackson waited dutifully. He was determined to see this through.
He always left at six fifteen.
A month from the day of their first meeting at the bar, Lisa showed up at six ten.
"No threatening visits to my work place? No running after me and strangling me against my car?"
Jackson's mouth parted slightly when Lisa fell into the seat across from him. How had he not heard her approaching?
"Buy me a drink," she told him.
Her skin was splotchy and she could not seem to sit up straight in her chair. After he ordered her a sea breeze, he turned an accusatory look toward her. No wonder he didn't notice her earlier. Her drunken, wobbly steps were not ones that he had heard before.
"How much have you already had?"
"A lot," she said simply. Happily, even.
"My, my. First the gun, then the slap, and now out partying by yourself? Who is this new Lisa?" He smiled.
She rewarded him with an over exaggerated smile of her own. "Oh, I'm not by myself. Some friends from work are in the bar across the street." She turned to them and waved enthusiastically. Two people waved back.
The server dropped off Lisa's drink but she didn't move for it. "I drive by here every Wednesday night, you know."
"I did not," Jackson said in a measured tone.
"You're always here."
She finally started in on her drink. Jackson's eyebrow quirked up when nearly half the glass was gone on her first gulp.
Jackson's gaze dropped to the ice in his glass. Her unbroken eye contact made him feel uneasy.
"Leese, I didn't lie the first time. I just wanted to see you."
She tilted head into her hand and sipped noisily from her straw. "Why?"
Because I have regrets. Because you're beautiful. "I want to show you I'm the same guy from the Tex Mex."
She snorted, but then: "Why?"
"Are you five?"
"Yes. Answer the question."
Instead he looked over towards her friends from the bar across the street. They seemed to be watching him closely.
"You have a bet going, Leese?"
"And? What were the terms? Did you have to score a phone number or something?" He was relieved that it was so easy to change the topic of conversation.
"Nope," she answered simply. She shook her empty glass and the ice rattled petulantly. "Buy me another?"
"If you answer some questions."
"Done!" Lisa slapped the table. "Three questions."
Satisfied with their deal, Jackson left for the bar. It never took long for a bartender to notice him regardless of the gender of the barkeep or the business of the bar. Between his sharp clothes, his eyes, and his natural good looks, he never had to wait longer than three minutes for a drink.
He plunked her drink in front of her and grabbed the empty one. "So, three questions?"
She nodded and sipped her drink at a more leisurely pace. "That counted as one."
"No it didn't."
She pouted but let it go easily enough.
"You are rather inebriated for it only being a little past six," he commented.
"That wasn't a question."
"Fine. Tell me about your life."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Ripper, but that response was still not in the form of a question." Her Alex Trabek impression was miserable but he smiled anyway.
"Do you ever think of me?"
"Yes," she answered, but that was the extent of her response.
"Lisa." His hand reached across the table and touched her elbow. "Tell me."
Her gaze fell to his hand and she took a long sip of her beverage. "Alright, Jack," she said finally. When she met his gaze again, he pulled his hand away from her. He knew he wasn't going to like her answer.
"I think about you when…" She licked her lips in mock seduction. "I think about you when I have to walk to my car in the dark." She outlined the lip of her drink with her fingers as she continued. "I think about you when I hear unfamiliar noises in my house."
She uncoiled her arms and took his hand in hers. "I think about you whenever I'm alone, really. I think to myself 'today is the day, Lisa. Today is when Jackson Rippner will come for you to get revenge. Any second now he's going to drop in through the maintenance hatch in the elevator and finish you off."
The way she held his hand between hers almost seemed affectionate. Jackson had no idea what was happening. "Lisa, I wouldn't-"
"You followed me to my father's house and tried to kill me, Jack." She suddenly sounded amazingly sober.
She squinted her eyes at him for a moment before she released is hand and stood up. "Thanks for the quickie, Jack."