2007-06-29: The Friends Zone


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Summary: Elena visits Jack at the Den one, rainy early night. Hijinks ensue, but after the initial crazy, the world is treated to a much more different side of Jack that only his Scrappy can influence.

Date It Happened: June 29, 2007

The Friends Zone

Den of Iniquity, Brooklyn, New York

It's been raining all day. Despite that, Jack has gotten a lot of things accomplished. A solid workout, a heart-to-heart with one of his employees, and two thorough soakings. He's at his usual place behind the bar, smoking a cigarette and sipping from a very small glass of very potent liquor. Business has picked up a bit since this morning, but it's not so heavy that Jack has had to give up his comfy spot. As always, his cocktail waitress is doing most of the work.

When the door opens, it's Elena, somewhat wet from the rain - but she seems to enjoy it. Her hood is pulled down, her dark hair shakes out - half wet, half dry. Yanking her tresses from under the collar, she lets them drape on her back as she moves on towards the bar counter. "Hey, Nuncle," she says, hopping on one of the high barstools standing up, pressing her palms on the wooden counter so she can lean in and peck Jack right in the cheek. Dropping on the cushioned seat, she drags the salsa bowl over, as well as the chips. "Hey guess what? I met Trina yesterday, she seems pretty cool. She's got this bad girl thing going for her."

That's right, everybody's gotta eat. Sick of ordering in, Jack has opted instead for giant bowls of salsa and guacamole and several brown paper bags filled with freshly fried tortilla chips. He's not married, so he can still get away with this. Speaking of…

"You met my lady, eh?" As he usually does, the Irishman smiles crookedly at the mention of Trina. He turns his cheek in for the smooch, then reaches across the bar to tuck a soggy, errant lock of hair behind Elena's ear. "S'very good that you approve. I think I'm gonna keep her. She's mighty good to me. And bad, too." His smile stretches into a grin. "But you won't need to know what that's like for another twenty or thirty years. At least until you're too old to enjoy it."

"…..your ever-vigilant defense against any sort of normal love life for me astounds as always," Elena retorts dryly, propping her chin on one hand, but when he tucks a lock of hair affectionately behind her ear, she smiles at him. She picks up a chip, and scoops up a bit of guacamole and salsa before popping it in her mouth. "So, Peter drunk-dialed me the other night after he came from drinking at your place. He doesn't remember it really but he mentioned he….talked to you about…stuff at home?" She looks a little hesitant broaching the subject, but she did promise Jack that she would tell him what's going on from now on.

"Whoa. Slow down. You got drunk dialed?" Jack can't help but smirk. He reaches across the bar again, but this time it's to give Elena a fistbump. "My lil' Scrappy's growin' up." He heaves a faux-wistful sigh. "It seems like only yesterday that I was snappin' at Nearly Male until his stuff crawled back inside like a turtle's head, and now you've moved on to a Petrelli. I like that you think big, kiddo." Faux-solemn nod.

Now that his teasing's complete, he lets out a rich, honest chuckle. "Peter did stop by, though. Seemed all a-twitter. I tried to pep-talk 'im but I don't think it worked. He was a little vague. And drunk, o'course."

What? She fist-bumps him hesitantly, because she doesn't know what she's fist-bumping FOR….until he explains. TYPICAL. "Ugh, Jack, it's nothing like that," Elena groans, dropping her forehead on the counter. "He was inebriated and upset - he tried to quaff a sixty of spiced rum by himself! The bott— no. The JUG was half-empty when I yanked him out of the alley and took him home. I'd ask what you put in your drinks to compel people to DRINK more, but I know it wasn't exactly anything you did." She lifts her head up and supports her chin by her hand again, still frowning over the memory.

But she didn't really want to talk about that - she wanted to know what Peter told him, not why he was drinking. She knew why, and she wasn't sure she was qualified enough to further dig herself into the matter. "Did he tell you everything?" she asks. "About what's going on at home?"

Jack shrugs his his broad shoulders. "Dunno. Bald guy, fake office, somethin' about Heidi an' your Mom an' some injections? Said your pops has been workin' on somethin' as well. He told me that he was stayin' with Heidi to keep an eye on her. You're not in any danger, are you?" Narrowed eyes, furrowed brow, unhappily squashed-together lips. Even the possibility has him irked. His next admission is a little on the self-depricating side. "Can't rightly remember it all. Pete wasn't the only one drinkin'."

"….your memory's pretty good for someone drinking," Elena says with a grin. But when he asks, she shakes her head. "I don't know. You'd think if I was something would've happened by now, and in the past, all he's gone after were mothers. But yeah, the injections were weird. We all just kind of thought he was this crazy bastard who thought if he killed enough, he'd be immortal. Now Papa thinks he's going around impregnating people. I told you before he can get inside your head if he knows your name….god, that was ages ago." She laughs, rubbing her face absently. "One of the first get-togethers we had. But yeah, I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. Work was killer, plus Papa's all up in arms over this, and….well. Papa's girlfriend, Dezi, she's got twins and….they're sorta living with us now. So it's been a full house. Manny's not too happy about it, I think."

Of course, of all the things that Elena has to say, one word sticks out. 'I-i-imp. P-p-preg. Yech, nevermind." Jack gulps several times and goes a little green around the gills as an uncomfortable shiver runs down his spine. He shakes his head to clear it. "So this guy is goin' around an' slippin' people the business? Not tryin' to make light of the issue, but I'm not sure I understand what's goin' on here."

She winces when Jack goes gray over the 'P' word. "Sorry," she says sheepishly, munching on another chip. "No I don't think so," Elena says with a frown. "I don't really….we're all confused. I mean, he was just a serial killer until a couple of weeks ago. His business is a front, he keeps slaves and drugs them to keep them down. Papa's following the money now, and there's the thing. There's -money- involved. Otherwise Mr. Winters…" Yes, Benjamin's involved too. "Wouldn't have found anything in his accounting records. But if the business is a front, where's it coming from? We're all just….really confused. All we know about the women themselves are that they all had children, and only two of them are still alive - and one's Heidi Petrelli."

Jack might not be the sharpest tack, but he's no dummy either. If people keep getting crossed off a list, and his buddy Nate Dogg's wife is on that list, he knows there's cause for concern. His frown is deeper than ever. He lifts his forgotten cigarette from the ashtray and takes a drag, then taps an ashy grey cylinder from the tip. He takes a deep breath, holds it for a few seconds, then lets it out and looks Elena in the eye. "Let me help? I can shake a couple pimps and pushers to see what falls outta their pockets. Y'never know what guys like that might've heard."

She smiles. "Yeah, sure - thanks Jack," Elena says softly. "I really appreciate it. I mean, if this guy's an experienced criminal, or a professional of some kind…" The business was a front. Money was coming from an unknown source. Yeah this reeks assassin movies the worst way. "Maybe you'll have more luck than all of us combined. Just….be careful, yeah? This guy's….different, somehow. I think Papa knows it too, he installed a new security system in the house the other day." She nibbles a little bit on the chips, roaming her eyes around….and -gapes- at the mural of feminine underwear on the far wall. She bursts out laughing, all of a sudden, despite what they're talking about, and POINTS at it. "Wh…wh…WHAT?" she cries, almost choking on salsa and guacamole.

Careful? Jack is always careful. If by careful, one means that he wanders into any dangerous situation fists-first. He nods approvingly at the mention of a new security system. And that brings us to the panty-chain. He can't help but grin and snicker as he pads over to take down a framed newspaper clipping from behind the bar. "Trina's 'sposible for framin' this, and for the underpants." He sets the framed article down and slides it across the bar so Elena can read it. It's a shot of him dancing to the Dropkicks in full-on glamwear with the words 'BACHELOR OF THE YEAR' written under it in bold print. "The mornin' after this came out my mailbox was full o' skivvies and phone numbers."

"Wh…wh…-WHAT-? How did I MISS this? And I read five newspapers every day!" Elena says with a laugh, picking up the frame and lifting it up. "…..girls in New York actually DIG THIS? Are you -serious-?" She can't help it. She can't stop. She lowers the article gently on the counter because she doesn't want to mess up the framing job, laughing helplessly. "Ah Nuncle, I love you. Only -you- can pull this sort of shenanigans off and still be considered sexy. I wonder if Nate was that lucky." She looks up the mural and smiles. "And Trina mentioned she did that. She did a pretty good job, it's got all the phone numbers visible and everything!"

"Yeh, you wanna see drunk dialin' you should come down 'ere on Friday night an' check out the wall o' bastards tryin' to make good offa my hard work." It's clear that Jack finds this more amusing than anything else. After all, he's got Trina. "My lady's one of a kind. S'not many wot would put up with my shit." As for love, Jack repeats the familial endearmant back to his niece. Unfortunately, he's so manly it causes his face to pucker up and comes out as a mumble that sounds more like "iuhvutu."

"So how many people do you kick out Friday night if they try?" Elena asks, grinning as she props her chin on both her hands again. She seems to like doing that whenever she's at the bar talking to Jack - it was a very 'niece' thing to do, remisicient of all those movies where the kid sits in a high chair listening to his crazy uncle tell stories about 'Nam, except in Jack's case, they were all stories about the seamier side of New York City. And when he returns the L word in a mutter, she beams and reaches out to pinch his cheek, laughing. "Ah, Nuncle. You're so adorable." It was odd - perhaps a testament as to how much she considers Jack family. He's the only male in New York who WASN'T related to her by blood who she could say those words to so freely.

She chews on the chips, falling silent for a moment as she looks up the wall. A contemplative expression is more present on the line of her mouth than her face, brows furrowed as if thinking about something, like the mural itself reminded her of something and seeing it just pulled the thought into her conscious brain. "Jack…" she asks absently, still looking at the mural. Oh how things change, a few months ago seeing such a thing would've EMBARASSED the crap out of her. "…how do you know if you're in the Friends Zone?"

The combined effect of Elena's smile, pinch, and teasing compliment pull a blush from the normally stout Irishman. He huffs out a heavy breath and rolls his eyes, hiding behind sarcasm and snark. But then.. "Friends Zone?"

With his cigarette still clenched between his lips, Jack inhales sharply. Though he's a seasoned smoker, the hearty lungful is more than even he can handle. He chokes and sputters, sending the half-spent butt flying… Directly into his liquor glass.

WHOOSH! The alcohol immediately flares up. Jack panics. He snatches a towel off of the bar and starts flailing at the burning glass in a valiant but fruitless attempt to put it out. The towel responds by catching fire, as towels are prone to doing. "Shit! Shitshitshit!"

And then…. "Oh my god! Fire! You're on fire!" Elena cries, STATING THE BLATANT obvious as Jack tries to put out the fire with a towel - which only makes things worse. "Hang on! Hang on, Jack, I'll— I'll save you!"


She GROANS. Did she actually JUST SAY THAT? Where the hell was she? In a comic book?! Can she live through ONE DAY without being a TOTAL DORK?

She looks around wildly, and without thinking, she grabs for the nearest wet, non-alcoholic substance she could find. This would be….the gigantic bowl of salsa sitting right next to her. Grabbing it with both hands, she whips around, and FLINGS the contents at Jack, the glass, and the towel.



A half gallon of fast-moving salsa drenches Jack from his eyebrows to his waist. Both the towel and the glass sizzle weakly as they're extinguished. This is a good thing.


This is the sound of the nearly-empty bowl striking Jack in the forehead. He staggers backward a step, then reaches up to slick handfuls of salsa away from his eyes. "Uhhhhhhhhgggrhh," he states, for the record.

Oh my god! She hit him! "Jack!" Elena cries, scrambling up on the counter to try and get to the serving side of the bar. Thank god it was raining outside, that meant there weren't too many patrons inside. In fact, the patrons who -were- at the bar are just gawking at this entire scene, watching a young woman scramble on top of a counter to try and get to its hapless proprietor. "Jack are you okay? Oh my god. Oh my god! Were you burned anywhere? Where— "

This is when the large puff of smoke drifts upward, and upwards, spreading over the sensor required in all liquor-serving establishments in New York. The smoke alarm goes off.


The last sound? Would be the sprinklers going off, drenching -everyone- inside of the bar.

As one, the patrons stand and bolt out of the Den. This leaves a slightly singed, partially concussed, and thoroughly salsa-soaked Jack standing behind the bar with a sheepish Elena. "Mrrrghlll?" he queries. It's raining. It's raining inside?

The bartender shakes his head back and forth like a dog, sending pureed tomato and diced peppers splattering in all directions. Slowly but surely, he's collecting himself. He glares at Elena for a moment. "This is your fault for thinkin' about sex," he accuses. Then he turns his face upward and holds his arms out, making use of the active sprinklers.

"Wh….I WASN'T!" Elena cries, flailing a bit and sending drops of water everywhere. She asked about the Friends Zone, not the G-Spot! What the hell was Trina doing to him that every word that comes out of her mouth translates to something regarding those sorts of relations?! "It was a legitimate question! For….for….PURELY ACADEMIC PURPOSES ONLY!" Oh god. She wants to die. She groans, and tosses a towel at Jack. This is about the time he tips his face up, and stretches out his hands to the sky like Tim Robbins breathing in the smell of freedom for the first time in decades after crawling through a sewer. This, inevitably, drapes on his face.

"Yeah. The academic purpose of humpin'," Jack replies, his voice partially muffled by the towel. He pulls it off, then reaches under the bar and pats around until he finds the valve that controls the flow to the sprinklers. It's old, and creaky, and rusted, but it works. When it's stopped raining inside the Den, Jack wipes the water and condiment residue from his face, starting with his eyes, which are thoroughly reddened and watering. His nose is starting to run copiously as well. Much like when you put it in your mouth, salsa doesn't start to burn your eyes for several seconds after it makes contact. "Oooooooooch," he whines. "Oh man. Scrappy, it stings! Fix it!" He shimmies and dances in place, shifting his feet and crossing and uncrossing his legs. By touch and memory, he finds the ice bucket where he keeps several beers stashed. Scrambling, he pulls one out and pops the top, fully prepared to use it as eyewash. "Oh God! The flesh, it burns!"

"Jack! -PLEASE- tell me you at the very least watched American Pie to know what the Friends Zone actually is," Elena groans. Because if she had to explain to Jack that in no way this correlated to any part of the human anatomy, she might have to just go jump off a building. He was Irish! What did he know? Maybe the Friends Zone translated to something different in Gaelic. "Ack! What are you— quit it! Just sit down! Sit down!" Oh god. Taking care of Jack while he's flipping out is IMPOSSIBLE. How the hell does Trina do this?! She places her hands on his shoulders and forces him to sit down on the floor. Once she's done that, she crouches in front of him, and uses her powers to take away the pain, and then yanks the ice bucket away from him so she can do this properly. "Tilt your head up and keep your eyes open. You can't feel anything anymore, right?" she says, grabbing a glass and scooping out the cold water from the bucket.

When the pain fades, Jack abruptly cuts off in mid-wail. "AHHHHHahhh— ?" He blinks several times, then holds his eyes open wide as ordered. "No. Don't hurt n'more," he pouts. "American Pie? Never had that before. I think they serve it at the diner down the street, though." Plopped securely on his bottom, he stretches his legs out in front of him and heaves a sigh. "Is it good?"

"….you haven't." Elena laughs. "It's a movie. It's kind of like the paler, stupider, retarded brother version of the Breakfast Club for our generation," she says, tilting the glass gently to let the ice water rinse out his right eye first, and then the left eye. "There, blink. Then we'll do it again just in case." Salsa had tabasco, onions, and peppers after all. She sighs. "What I was asking in the first place is how do you know if….someone really sees you the way that's…you know. Not-friends. I only ask because I was thinking lately and….I dunno. I think I'm doing something wrong."

See? It means what Jack thinks it means. He just connects affection and sex like hand and glove. He blinks his eyes several times, then fixes them on Elena with a distinct lack of focus. "You've got a crush," he states, bringing himself up to date on what everyone else in the conversation already knows. "Damn. Sorry, kiddo. Won't tease you on this one, okay?" Fatigued from his salsa bath and firefighting exibition, he leans back and supports his weight with his hands. "Only way to really know is ask. Sooner or later you'll have to, I figure. But the longer you wait, the harder it'll be. Trust me." If there's one thing Jack knows, it's embarassment.

"Huh? NO! I mean….it's just….I'm starting to discover a trend," Elena says, rubbing the back of her neck and puts away the ice water bucket and the glass. "Okay….I've gone out a couple of times with this guy, but after….you know. A couple of months and I thought things may be progressing, there's…..nothing. Every time he talks about me, or him and me, it's always 'friends'. You know? Just friends. And then there's this other guy who just -kisses- me out of the blue, and then apologizes later because we're just friends and nothing's happened since then. I don't get it. I thought you guys are supposed to be -simple-? At least, simpler than us girls. I guess all I'm saying is….how do you know ultimately what's what? -Without- asking?" She rolls her eyes. "Because you know us whippersnappers. It's not that easy."

And then, she starts looking a little sulky. "Then again…I -am- pretty dorky," she mutters.

"Awwww. C'mere, Scrappy." Jack loops an arm around Elena's shoulders and pulls her in for a wet hug. "Sometimes guys are scared too," he informs her. "Maybe the guy that's callin' you 'just friends' is feelin' timid. You're a pretty thing, it's understandable." He hooks a finger under her chin and tilts her head back so he can make eye contact. "As for the guy who was smoochin' on you, whatsiz name an' Social Security Number? You don't want smoochies, I'll straighten 'im out for you posthaste." He winks, then pantomimes slugging an invisible opponent. "Wait, wuzzit Nearly Male?"


Wet hug is a wet hug. But Elena wraps her arms around him and squeezes. She even closes her eyes, and even smiles a bit. Because this is Jack, and Jack was awesome - he even quit teasing for her! …..granted this probably wouldn't last. She pulls away and blinks at him. "But….I'm…..if it's an intimidation thing, I'm the least intimidating person in the world. You remember the first time we met, this girl punched me and I went down and couldn't get up! But I guess….if anything I know about being a little awkward about that stuff." With her chin tilted up to meet Jack's eyes, she laughs. "I don't know his social security number," she says simply. Which is true. "And -no-, you're not killing anyone. Besides, it's really not his fault. It was…" He was drunk. "…..an accident." Because she doesn't really know how to describe it.

"You're bein' evasive," Jack chides. He pats Elena on the cheek fondly and grins. "But you're a growin' girl, you've got a right to be evasive. B'sides, I wasn't gonna kill him. I was just gonna bruise him up some." With that issue settled, he props both hands behind his head and leans against the wall. "So how does a girl get 'accidentally' kissed? I mean, I tried that excuse once, but I still got kicked in the minerals afterward." He perks up. "Did you kick 'im in the minerals?" Slump. "No. You must not be the mineral-kickin' type, else I'd know by now."

"I am a little bit," Elena says sheepishly. "I'm…not…good…with this stuff." She rolls her eyes skyward. "Which is honestly something Papa would find a blessing in disguise. It's not like I've been doing this long. After I got …." She pauses. "There was this incident," she says slowly. "Back in February or March or something. Earlier this year. I got taken hostage by this girl who could just…burn things. I didn't know about powers or abilities then, so I didn't know what the hell was going on." She turns around, pulling up her wet shirt, and Jack would see it. The burn. Part of Kellie's palm had been imprinted on the small of her back, as well as a thumb and index. "I thought I was going to die. And then when Papa got me and we escaped, he told me that I was allowed to see someone if I wanted to. So….it's not even been a year when I was allowed." And then, at the last question, she mutters. "Someone who wasn't in his right mind who didn't know what he was doing until it was too late because of substance abuse?"

At the minerals comment, she stares at him, and then, she bursts out laughing. "-Minerals-? Are you serious?"

Jack's face goes grim when he sees the burn and Elena describes the circumstances. "Kellie," he growls, his voice a low, dangerous murmur. He remembers meeting Hiro's little friend at Sydney's apartment. This is a lot of info for him to take in at once. He shakes his head wearily. "I'm not gonna tell you what to do. If your Da' says you can date then it's out of my hands, but if this guy's a druggie… ?" He leaves the statement unfinished. Clearly, Uncle Jack doesn't approve of druggie boyfriends. "And yes. Minerals. Cherries. Jacobs. Manpieces." Just in case he hadn't been clear enough, he points to his crotch with both index fingers. "Never underestimate the power of a swift kick to the minerals. I'd offer to train you, but after our incident at the firing range…" he pauses to cough delicately into one clenched fist. "Well. Let's just say your combat training's on hold."

"…yeah! That's what her name was." Derailed suddenly from her personal problems, Elena stares at Jack when this piece of revelation spills out onto her lap. "….wait, you KNOW her?" She's staring at Jack, her jaw agape. This? Is why she should hang out with Jack more often, aside from the fact that she thinks the world of him. He's been around the city, has been at this stuff longer. The fact that they were connected before they even met, perhaps, strikes her as amazing. "How? -When-? Did she try to kill you?" Because it seemed like the Kellie-type thing to do. "And no it's not….they're not -drugs-, it's…..nevermind." She sighs. She doesn't want to say too much to protect the guilty, but then she laughs when he starts preaching the advantages of the crotch kick. "I think a ….kick to the minerals is easy enough to pull off when close enough," she says with a grin. "And I….feel really REALLY bad for accidentally shooting you. I'm surprised Trina didn't want to kill me after."

"The way I understand it, Kellie is only running free because my buddy Short Ro—Hiro helped rescue her from the Company." Jack drags a hand through his damp, salsa-stuck hair. "She never tried to kill me. For as long as I knew her she was still playing nice-nice. She disappeared about the same time that Hiro did. An' don't worry 'bout shootin' me. I've been roughed up by plenty o' girls before." This seems an honest enough statement, but he leaves it at that.

"Wait, -Hiro- broke her out? But she's PSYCHO!" Elena blurts out. She didn't know this, she looks really stunned. Her teenaged woes left completely, she leans her back against the bar, pulling up one knee and draping her arm over it. "Wow. Wow….really? Either New York's really that small a town or I was really meant to run into you some day." Which they did. She looks over at him, and she quirks a grin. "Ah well. I don't believe in random anymore, these days." She reaches up, so she can pick a piece of pepper from his hair. "….thanks, Jack. After everything else I don't….know…." She halts, looking a little sheepish and awkward. "…..I wouldn't know what….you know? If you weren't in my life."

Jack nods, but he's unwilling to meet his niece's eyes. Family or not, expressing emotions isn't something that comes naturally to him. "I wouldn't either," he replies, his voice soft. "Ever since I met you, I've had somethin' to look after an' protect. There isn't anybody else that…" He frowns and his shoulders slump. "I mean, there's Trina and Cass and Lachlan, y'know? But they're…" Embarassed, he coughs into his hand again to hide it. "Things have changed for the better since we met. I've changed." Well past the point of rambling, he points one long finger at Elena and says with mock-sternness. "Shut up and gimme 'nother hug."

She looks over at Jack as he stumbles over his words, and she wonders whether that's what Heidi, Peter, Cass, and everyone else sees when she tries to talk about other things that didn't have anything to do with saving the world, or saving someone, or fixing a problem. "Jack…." Elena says softly, her expression softening even as he looks away and coughs. But when he confesses that he's changed, she smiles at him, beaming warmly. "You have. There's….I can't really describe it but there's something different about…." She gestures over her own face. "Around your eyes." When he asks for a hug, she laughs, and practically launches herself at him, throwing her arms around his neck. Kind of like one of those moments when a little girl throws her arms around her father after he's come back from fighting a war. "You got it!"

Jack scoops Elena into his arms and squashes her against his chest. "Thanks, kiddo," he whispers. "Thanks for everything. I like me better this way."

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