2008-06-02: Welcome Back, Jack

Starring:

Jack_icon.gif Trina_icon.gif

Summary: He's back. He's back and he wants to meet up with his lady. Sadly, there are always surprises where he's concerned.

Date It Happened: June 02, 2008

Welcome Back, Jack


The Den - Brooklyn

The package arrives by messenger. The man doesn't speak, doesn't ask for a signature, and doesn't accept any tips, though he's by no means unfriendly.

It's a flat, white box taped shut at the sides and corners. Inside is a knot-front dress tailored to Trina's side. It's knee-length, rich purple, and both snug and loose at all the right places.

There's a single, perfect white rose and a note resting on top of the dress. The note reads:

Dinner at eight tonight? I've missed you.

Jack

The address of an upscale, uptown nightclub is scribbled at the bottom of the paper.

When the box comes, there is a rush of conflicting emotions. Surprise. Hope. Excitement. Suspicion. Doubt. Why is there doubt? Maybe because it's been months. It… It has been

The dress fits. Shoes are easily found to match. In an hour, Trina finds herself transformed from a overworked, overtired, and overstressed bartender trying to keep a place open with people both knowing and not-knowing it's operating to something… feminine.

There's perfume and makeup, haircurlers and breathmints, pantyhose and jewelry.

Touch - Uptown

When she's finally getting her precious Mustang valet-parked at the club, she bites her lower lip and steps out into the balmy late-spring air. There's a look to the building, a look to the door, and then a twenty passes from her simply manicured fingertips to the parking attendant. "Not a friggin' scratch, you hear me?" And then those patent black leather stiletto pumps start pounding a bravado sway across the concrete to the entrance, purple jersey swishing about her legs in a fluid roll.

The place is hardly what one would expect from Jack. Between the overly artistic neon signs, light flooding from the pulsing strobes over the dance floors, and the steady, bright glow from private dining areas inside, it's easy to spot him. On the ragged edge of the no-smoking area out front, he's leaned lazily against the wall under yet another sign with a cigarette dangling from his lip. Above him, the word 'TOUCH' has been worked out in neon piping, one of many signs like it.

He looks better than he has in a long time. The lateral split in his nose has healed to a tight, pink scar. So have the scratches across the side of his face. His injured eye is hidden from view by a soft, white patch that clips onto three metal studs that have been permanently imbedded in his cheek and forehead.

He's wearing a nicely tailored suit and finally starting to fill it out again. Some of the taut, wiry musculature he shed during his recent ordeals has returned. Once again, even the most skilled of tailors has to work to keep his shoulders from stretching the seams of his jacket. He no longer hunches over his belly to protect injured ribs. Erect, confident, and self-aware, he looks more like himself than he has in a very long time.

Though it fits nicely, his suit is just as out of place as the locale. White-on-white and vaugely Asian in design, it lacks collar or lapels and is fastened by short lengths of braided black cord.

Sometimes it's hard to get a cigarette in peace when you're in NYC. Jack is enjoying his. Relaxed, eyes fixed on some distant point high in the sky, he puffs and blows smoke up into the ever-growing cloud around the city.

Meanwhile, Trina is all bravado. Long, seemingly careless strides to mask a hundred different ways this could go wrong. A hundred different ways this is going to end in nothing but tears. But the stones upon her left hand — the ones that twinkle in the lights in shades of emerald and rainbow — they bid her continue her march inside.

Once through the front doors, right on time, she leans in to holler something to the bouncer just inside. "I'm looking for Jack Derex. Do you know where he is?"

There's no mistaking that voice, and there's definitely no mistaking Trina in the dress Jack bought her. Forgotten, the cigarette falls from his mouth and rolls across the sidewalk.

"Shit," he mutters under his breath, shaking himself off and pushing away from the wall.

"W-W-W-" Meanwhile, the bouncer is thorougly intimidated by a woman no more than a quarter his size. Her stance, her voice, her outfit, it all commands respect and attention. "W-W-" he continues. "Yes. Yes ma'am. Mr. Jack is—"

"Right here," Jack intervenes, interposing himself between Trina and the bouncer. Though the Irishman might look out of place to those who know him, as soon as he stepped up he leapt into a role of his own. Shoulders squared-but-relaxed, a small smile on his lips and a dangerous glint in his eye, he nods to the bouncer. It's a simple, non-verbal message to confirm any suspicions. Mr. Jack's lady is not a woman with whom to fuck. The response from the bouncer is immediate and respectful. Against all odds, Jack is a name that means something at 'TOUCH.'

"Baby," he murmurs, taking Trina's hand in his and raising it to his lips. The kiss he brushes against her ring is gentle. Tentative, even. "Missed you."

Softly curled dark tresses bounce across her shoulders as she rears her head back, Trina entirely caught off-guard by a man set to stammering. That confusion is caught in the twitch of her upper lip, kohl-framed blue eyes still more doubt-filled than anything else.

Imagine how much more confused she must be when Jack sweeps in, and takes up her hands. It's been just long enough since anyone dared think that they had right to touch her, that her vengeful right arm starts to pull pack with a fist at its end. But then she stays her hand. Her eyes narrow a little as that right hand hangs, now impotent as the left passes it on the journey to her fiance's lips. "J-jack?"

"It's me, baby. I'm back." There's regret and sadness hanging thickly in Jack's voice. "I'm sorry I was gone so long. I got… detained."

It's insufficient. So insufficient. Unfortunately, that doesn't outweigh how difficult it is to speak of the tortures and horrors he experienced while he was away. The calm, smooth facade is just that. A facade. Though he may be outwardly healthy, there's a wide, wary edge to his gaze that was never there before.

"I had to shake loose of some people who were following me. That's why I had you meet me here." Still not enough, but it's as much as he can squeeze out. Jack kisses Trina's ring again and whispers, "I'm sorry."

Trina stares at Jack for a long time, as though uncomprehending. Her right hand crosses her body, moving to rub nervously at her left arm. For her part, bravado crumbles easily in Jack's presence, and her shoudlers find a small inward curl. As she watches him pick up her hand again, she makes no movement to fight him. Her smile curls into something tight, masking what it can although poorly. "Does— Does that mean that you're stayin'? Or… Or are you gonna need to leave again?"

It's a perfectly understandable question. One Jack has thought about for a long, long time while he was away. If he ever got to lay eyes on the love of his life again, would he ever be willing to take them off of her?

"It'd take the end of the world to get me away from your side. I promise," he answers honestly, straightening to look Trina in the eye. His thumb lingers on the ring, tracing the lines and facets like a child might stroke a lucky rabbit's foot.

With a delicacy that some might find surprising, Trina lifts her fingertips and moves to brush her thumb along Jack's jaw. Blue eyes seem like bottomless black pools in the dim light of the club, masking the emotions that stir behind them as one corner of her mouth pulls higher than the other in a lopsided sort of tentative grin. "S'been a damned long while, sugar," she finally agrees.

"I know," Jack says, ducking his head slightly. "I really did come back as soon as I could. I even cut some corners to get here faster. Plus, I have a surprise for you later."

With a roguish wink, a bit of his old confidence comes back. Trina's not immediately going to throw him out on his ear. This is good. This is very good. Now work with it.

"For now, I've got us a private dining room on one of the upper balconies. Champagne on ice. I know the waiter personally, too. Damn good guy. Wanna get something to eat?"

Here they come, the fancy things that attempt to blind her with their glitter. Jack always comes back to them, for reasons that Trina has yet to suss out. But Jack came home. This is his show, for now, anyway. She'll let him call the shots and let this play out the way he envisioned it. She dark head nods a little, even as her hand moves down to wrap its way around his larger one. There's a fleeting glance to the bouncer, and then her attention is back entirely on the visage in front of her. The one that looks almost, but not quite, like the man who left. "Okay."

That's good enough for Jack. Once they get somewhere private, then he can explain. He can tell her something. Beg forgiveness. All seem like pretty reasonable options as he breezes through the inner doors with Trina's hand clutched in his.

Inside, a Hispanic waiter in a black suit meets them next to the podium. "Mr. Jack!" he greets cheerfully. "And this must be Katrina that you tell me about. My lady, he tell me you were beautiful, but I understand now why he say there were no words to describe you. You are exquisite. Mr. Jack is a good man, you make a very lovely couple. I take very lovely couple to my very best room, all the way to the top. I am Efron, I will see to all your needs."

During this rapid-fire exchange, Efron manages to shake Jack's hand, kiss Trina's, and subtly escort them around a dance floor and up a flight of stairs. In a remarkably short time they're being seated at a table in a near-soundproof room with a one-way mirror facing the dance floor in place of a window. The ultimate in privacy.

After smoothing back the tablecloth so Jack and Trina can sit, Efron picks up the champagne from the ice bucket and pours them each a glass with a towel expertly wrapped to conceal the vintage.

Unfortunately, it also conceals the handgun. Efron sets the champagne back down and fully reveals his revolver, flicking it back and forth to indicate his ability and willingness to put a bullet in either Jack or Trina.

"Up against the wall," The waiter orders. "Hands on your head and face me. There's somebody who wants to talk to you. Welcome back, Mr. Jack."

TBC …

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