Disclaimer : This is a work of fiction. All the characters, places and events portrayed in this story are products of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously.

Warnings : I'm sticking to NC-17 just to be sure. Bad guys, bad habits, immature adult talking, immature adult behavior, X-ish rated adult behavior... If, for some reason or other you're not supposed to spend your time here, I'd advise you not to continue with further reading.





Sam Pagan



"The early bird gets the worm, but in the end, the worms will get the bird."

~ Chapter I ~


'What a crappy day.'

The words were stuck on repeat in Devon's mind as she walked in a very hurried pace, that is, she was walking as fast as her bad knee was letting her, down the unfamiliar streets, trying to find her way to the subway. She spent her entire life in a small town of Chestonville, and now, for the first time in her 24 years was in a city as big as Bedlam City, and was completely on her own. And completely lost.

She couldn't believe her luck, or maybe it was better to say, the lack of it. Of all the people living in the States, some freaking machine just had to pick her to be a part of the jury in a case of some local cop killing his wife after finding her in bed with his second or third cousin, she hadn't paid that much attention to details. Fortunately, there was strong enough an evidence, the DA presented her case exceptionally well, and the jury had no problem to wrap it all up and after two days of trying reach a unanimous verdict – guilty.

The entire circus regarding the trial has finished half a day ago, and now Devon wandered throughout the city she knew nothing about. She has tried to ask several passers-by for directions to the subway or at least some hotel or motel where she could stay for the night, what with the late hour, but no one had the decency to even acknowledge her presence, let alone answer her simple question.

Sighing in defeat, she raised her head and read the sign which informed her she was on the crossroad of 9 th and Burton St. That meant nothing to Devon, however, because she still didn't have a clue which way to go.

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and decided to try her luck with the 9 th . She released a tiny growl and clenched her teeth when in the middle of the step a sharp pain shot through her right knee like a bullet, almost causing her to lose her balance.

Her otherwise imperceptible limp got worse every time her meniscus decided it had been overused, and rebelled, not to mention a series of cramps which always grabbed the muscles around her painful joint whenever she walked or stood for too long.

She could thank for the condition her knee was in to an accident that had happened five years ago, when a pick-up truck barreled through the crossroad, not minding the red light, and rammed into another pick-up, which in turn hit her dirt bike.

The guilty driver, like in most clichés, was dead drunk and, like in another cliché, as it is a known fact some ''higher power'' always watches over drunks and fools, got by with only a few scratches and bruises, where the other driver was left in a wheelchair for life, and Devon counted herself lucky to resume her presence among the living. On the downside, these days passing through a metal detector without setting off the alarm due to the 6x4 cm titanium plate on the right side of her head, stretching from her ear toward her temple, was impossibility. Fortunately, the partial loss of hearing was repairable.

Lost in thoughts about her not so delightful past, Devon didn't pay much attention to where she was going, until she found herself in front of the wall indicating a dead end. She looked around the quiet alleyway and randomly turned left into another one, hoping she would soon end up back on the main street.

Getting more nervous by each passing minute, she pushed the light button on her digital watch, and the blue light dutifully illuminated the screen. Her eyebrows skyrocketed at the time displayed.

'Holy cow! How long have I been wandering around?'

She glanced around before randomly taking another left, then twice the right turn and again another left, all the way mumbling to herself how stupid she was for agreeing to be a juror in the first place.

"I should've just told 'em I'm mentally unstable or something and they would've let me off the hook. But noooo, I can't lie, even if it would get my butt out of the mess I've put myself into."

She was so caught up in self-berating, at first she didn't register the raised voices coming from the alley she was just turning into. Her ears finally picked the strained male voices and she raised her eyes off the ground, bringing into focus two arguing men.

She stopped dead in her tracks, observing the man kneeling on the dirty asphalt in front of another man clad in a black suit and a long black coat. She gulped and willed her suddenly lead filled legs to move when she realized what she has actually stumbled upon. But, no matter how much she begged her frozen limbs, they refused to budge from the spot.

"Y'know, the boss ain't happy with ya, Danny boy." the man in the suit spoke loudly. "We know you're the one who turned the info over to the feds. Don't try to deny it, it'll get ya nowhere."

"But it wasn't me, Johnny, I swear!" the kneeling man cried. His eyes pleaded with the other man to believe him. "I-I would never betray the family! Y-you know I'm loyal to the bone!"

"I don't give a shit about you or your supposed loyalty!" Johnny barked back and pulled out a gun. "I just do whatever the boss tells me to do. And right now, he told me to get rid of the rat. This specific rat."

"Johnny, please! I swear it wasn't me!!! Please, you have to believe me! For God's sake, you're the godfather to my little Marina! Please, I swear on her life! Please, don't do this!"

Johnny sighed and leaned closer. “Danny boy, if you were my own fuckin' brother, I still would've popped ya 'cause the boss asked me to."

With that he took three steps back, pointed the gun at Danny's forehead and without hesitation pulled the trigger.

Devon jumped at the sound of a shot being fired and quickly covered her mouth to muffle the cry which threatened to escape and reveal her, as of yet undiscovered, presence. Silent tears broke free, however, leaving a wet trail behind, as she watched the man's lifeless body crumpling to the ground.

Johnny put the gun back in his shoulder holster, then buttoned his suit jacket and coat. Quick survey of his clothes revealed more than several drops of blood on the fabric and he frowned. Murmuring a curse, he straightened the collar of his coat and sighed, looking down at the dead body of his long time friend. He shook his head. 'What a waste.'

Looking up and to the left, he sighed with relief, seeing there were no witnesses to his dirty job. He really didn't feel like killing anybody else tonight.

With a big, relaxed smile on his face, he slowly turned to the right, ready to get the hell out of here. He took one step, then blinked in surprise, his mind requiring a dozen of long seconds to convince him the woman standing next to a lit up barrel wasn't an apparition, but a real human. His smile faded and he slowly dragged his gaze from the woman to the cooling body lying at his feet, and up again. He blinked once more and his brain finally kicked in a higher gear. With a growl, he rushed after already departed Devon.

When the man looked her way for the second time and their eyes met, Devon's sense of self-preservation pitched in and her feet moved at last. Without another thought, she turned back in the alley she came out of earlier and ran as fast as she could, then quickly steered left into another, darker alley.

Rounding a corner, she cast a quick glance over her shoulder, failing to see an obstacle in her way. Tripping over some discarded chair, she started falling and quickly extended her arms to absorb the full shock instead of her knees. She winced at the stinging in her palms and elbows as her weight brought her down. Quickly scrambling into a crouch, she grabbed a nearby unlit barrel to bring herself in the upright position.

Glancing over her shoulder again, her breath hitched in her lungs when she came almost face to face with her pursuer. She pushed away from the barrel and barely made one step before the man grabbed a handful of her jacket. Devon tugged hard, freeing her arms out of the sleeves and leaving the article of clothing in the man's hands.

Reacting on instinct, she grabbed the chair she tripped over and swung it with all her might, striking the man in the chest before he had a chance to grab her arm. She heard an oomph, followed by crunching sounds when the man landed into a pile of trash bags several feet away. She didn't waste any time to stick around and see if he was incapacitated, but ran in the next alley where her knee screamed one final protest and buckled under her weight.

Devon summoned enough energy to scramble back on her unsteady feet and limped in the next alley almost completely devoid of the street light. She couldn't see much, but was hoping, if the man chasing her was close behind and has seen where she went, that he, too, would have a problem spotting her. Just then, she heard him yelling a curse and a threat to her well-being.

Angry, Johnny kicked some pieces of wood and several tin cans out of his way, his footsteps echoing as he slowly jogged after Devon, rather breathless after taking not so mild hit to the chest.

“You're gonna pay for that, you little bitch!”

Devon gulped, but didn't dare turn around to see if he was close behind her. Instead, she gritted her teeth against the pain tearing up her knee and sped up, intended not to let him catch her so easily. Fighting away the tears, she half limped, half hopped on one foot into the next alley. If she grew weary now, she knew she was as good as dead, so she pushed her exhausted body well beyond its limits, despite its more than obvious protest.

Looking around, she spotted a rusty metal door on the, judging by its dilapidated state, abandoned, windowless building. She launched for it and tried to open the door. They gave away easily and with a relieved smile she crept inside. Closing the door behind her surprisingly more quietly than she expected from the rusty metal, she took several seconds to catch her breath. With one last, sharp intake of breath and with her arms outstretched in front of her, she carefully waddled further into the pitch black building, hoping the man wouldn't find her.

Step by step, Devon walked against the wall, trying around with her feet and hands for any stairs or obstacles. She almost toppled down when her right foot actually found the stairs leading to the basement. Or at least, she presumed it was a basement. Carefully advancing downstairs, she counted fifteen stairs before her feet were on the flat ground again. Slowly going forward, she caught a glimmer of light coming from under what was another door, she guessed, on the far end of the room she was currently in.

Warily inching closer, the light calling her like a beacon, she heard muffled voices mixed with moans and grunts. Her heart leaped in her throat, fearing she has once again stumbled upon something she definitely shouldn't be seeing, or in this case, hearing. By the sounds coming from behind the closed door, somebody was torturing a woman, she concluded, as pleas for mercy reached her tormented ears.

She sniffled, then snorted loudly, but there was no amusement in her tone, only bitterness. She just couldn't believe her bad luck. In the span of maybe twenty minutes she had witnessed one murder, and now one torture, with most probably a murder as closure.

Suddenly all sounds died away and she gulped audibly, just knowing in her gut she will once again have to run for her life. She was about to turn around and, hopefully unnoticed, sneak out of the building, when the door flew open and a dark haired, stark naked woman stepped over the threshold, her tall, muscular frame outlined by the lanterns casting the light in the background. Both the strap on she wore and the gun she was holding were pointing in Devon's direction.

"Who the fuck are you and what are you doing here?"

Devon's eyes widened at the sight that greeted her. If it weren't for the cocked, lethal weapon in the woman's hand, she would've laughed at the vision in front of her. The gleam of the cold metal, however, quashed that notion. She gulped, just knowing without a shadow of doubt that her life was forfeit. A wave of dizziness overcame her at the realization and she passed out cold.

Jack blinked twice, standing there and staring dumbfounded at Devon's suddenly horizontal, unmoving form.

“Oh boy.” she mumbled, rubbing her eyes with her left hand.

"What is it, baby?"

"Nothing." Jack replied while scratching her cheek with the barrel of the gun. She quickly flinched away from the weapon when she realized what she was doing. “Aaargh! Shit! I'm gonna blow my own brains out one day.”

She quickly uncocked the gun, then took one step closer to Devon, trying to think of what to do with her. She couldn't just leave her there lying at her door.

"Well then, come back to bed, stud muffin." The woman inside purred. "I'm all hot and ready for you."

Jack groaned and cursed herself inwardly for hooking up with the annoying bitch, again , and who was sharing her bed at the moment. Coming to what she hoped was a smart decision, she scooped Devon's unconscious form in her arms and carried her inside the room.

"Get out." she ordered to the smiling blonde who was lying spread eagle on the bed, enthusiastically presenting the evidence about the natural color of her hair.

In an instant, the smile melted off of the woman's face. “What?!?”

"I said, get the fuck out! Grab your things and get the hell outta here!"

The blonde huffed indignantly but got up anyway, picked up her discarded clothes and slammed the door on her way out.

"Bitch!" resonated out in the dark hallway, followed by a loud crash as the woman fell over something hidden in the dark. "Fuck and fuck you, Jack!"

“Not anymore.” Jack mumbled, ignoring the continuing string of curses in the hallway.

Instead, she paced to and fro, trying to figure out what to do with the young woman she took charge of without properly thinking it over. Deciding the best first step would be to wake her up, Jack sat gingerly on the edge of the bed where she put her charge and slapped her cheek gently.

"Me and my weakness for damsels in distress." she muttered before calling softly, "Hey, girl. C'mon, wake up."


"C'mon, wakey wakey."

Again, no response.

"Oh boy." She exhaled slowly, got up and ran her fingers through her disheveled hair. Her eyes briefly turned toward the girl, then continued wandering around the room, hoping to land on something that could help her rouse Devon back to consciousness.

When nothing in particular caught her eye, Jack opted to try with another slap. Again, she eased herself on the edge of the bed and, this time a little more roughly, slapped Devon's cheek.

"C'mon, Shrimpy, you're scaring me.”

Devon murmured something unintelligible, but stayed in la la land.

“Y'know, it's not healthy to be fainted that long." Jack chided and slapped her once more. “C'mon, open those pretty eyes for me.”

This time the slap provided the desired effect; Devon moaned and squirmed, indicating she was slowly climbing back to the land of conscious people. Jack smiled and breathed a sigh of relief when green eyes fluttered open.

Devon swept the room with confused eyes, which widened in fear when they zeroed on the person who just moments ago held her at the gun point. She quickly scooted away from the dangerous woman, until her back were against the headboard.

"P-please, don't kill me." she pleaded desperately. "I-I didn't see or hear anything, I swear! I won't tell anybody about you, just please, don't kill me."

"Hey, hey, it's okay." Jack assured her, showing her empty hands. She smiled warmly, hoping it would help Devon relax a bit. "I won't hurt you, I promise. It's okay, you're safe here with me. What's your name?”

One dark eyebrow arched as Jack waited for the answer.

“I swear I won't harm you." she added when Devon remained silent.

Still not getting any response, Jack sighed and rubbed her temples. "Look, Shrimpy, I'm really sorry about that gun thing and all, but I didn't know who's at my door. This isn't exactly the most friendliest neighborhood, if you haven't noticed. But I'm truly sorry for scaring the shit out of you."

Devon wiped her tear-stained cheeks and eyed the woman warily, her honest eyes engrossing her attention. She wasn't completely sure could or should she trust this stranger, but she was still alive and the woman didn't make any attempt to hurt her, so she tried to trust her instincts which were telling her Jack wasn't a threat.

"Devon." she offered softly after minutes of silence.

Jack grinned widely, happy for the made progress. She offered her hand, which Devon reluctantly accepted.

"Nice to meet you, Devon. I'm Jack. Now, do you think you could share with me what were you doing in front of my door in the middle of the night?"

"I-I-I..." Devon managed to stammer before her throat went completely dry.

She gulped and shyly averted her eyes when, for the first time, she took in the full, embarrassing picture of Jack. The shock of seeing a man murdered without even so much as a missing blink from his murderer still clung to her, and the woman who called herself Jack and who at this very moment was sitting on the bed next to her wearing nothing but a leather harness with a colorful attachment and was absolutely unfazed by that fact definitely didn't help to make her relax.

"C-could you..." Devon's voice broke, so she cleared her throat. "I-I mean, would you, please, put some clothes on?"

Jack smirked, glancing down at her naked glory. Her wicked mind reveled, the thought of teasing the obviously modest girl very tempting. However, she decided to give Devon some slack when she turned a very unhealthy shade of red and found the winding patterns on the pillowcase most intriguing.

After removing her detachable member, Jack pulled on her red boxer briefs, which proudly presented smirking Bugs Bunny chewing a carrot, and donned her plain white T-shirt. Deciding she looked presentable enough, she sat back on the bed, this time scooting more closely to Devon.

"Can you answer my question now?" she asked.

Devon closed her eyes, trying to calm her tattered nerves and steady her shaking hands. She yelped when a larger, warm hand practically engulfed hers and squeezed gently in assurance. Opening her eyes, Devon looked deeply into the ones so close to her and was surprised when she read a certain amount of empathy in them.

‘She doesn't even know me, yet she's concerned about me?'

The concept appeared as very incredulous to Devon, but stranger things had happened to her than running into a good, albeit armed, Samaritan. Willing to take a risk with a complete stranger, she took a deep, slow breath, her eyes affixed over Jack's shoulder onto the wall across the room.

After a minute of silence, she began in a trembling voice. "I-I couldn't run anymore, so I tried to find a place to hide. The door to this building was unlocked and I slipped inside. Someone was after me a-and I didn't know where I was going altogether. I just..."

"Who was after you?" Jack prodded softly when Devon paused in her narrating.

“I-I don't know. I don't know anyone in....”

“Shh, it's okay.” Jack soothed when Devon started crying, and it seemed to be helping, because she calmed down almost immediately. “Do you remember anything about this person chasing you?”

Devon sniffled. “The man he killed called him Johnny." She tilted her head just a bit and connected her teary eyes with Jack's. "I saw him do it."

'Oh boy.' "You saw a man named Johnny killing another guy?" Jack clarified.

Devon sniffled again and nodded. "That Johnny guy was saying something about his boss and how he thought the dead guy was a rat. And the boss told Johnny to get rid of him."

"Oh boy." Jack breathed out, nervously running the fingers of her free hand through her black tresses.

She was having a suspicion about who that Johnny guy might be, but couldn't be one hundred percent sure, for there were a lot of Johnnys who had bosses out there in the city.

"Did this Johnny fellow see you entering this building?"

"I-I don't know. I don't think he did, though, or he would probably be here by now."

Jack sighed, nodding her head. "Yeah. Yeah, you're probably right." she agreed, pulled her hand free and slapped her own thighs. "Tell ya what. Why don't we go to sleep now and think about all this fresh in the morning, when both our heads would be much clearer, huh? You're probably still in shock and exhausted. Go to sleep, rest for awhile. I promise you no one'll get to you with me by your side. Okay?"

And just like that, she found herself with an armful of sobbing Devon soaking her T-shirt with more tears.

'Oh boy.'

Awkwardly hugging Devon closer to her, Jack stroked her long hair with one hand, the other one drawing soothing circles across her trembling back. Not an expert in a comforting department, she hoped she was doing a good job with Devon, taking the woman's clinging to her like a tick as a good sign.

'Well, if she were finding this inconvenient in any way, I'm sure she would've slapped me into the next week by now.'

Finally, after what to Jack seemed like hours, but in truth was no more than fifteen minutes, sobs slowly turned into hiccups and hiccups slowly shifted to even breaths and light snores, indicating Devon had fallen asleep in Jack's arms. The soft noise brought a smile on Jack's face and she gently extricated herself from Devon, making her lie on the bed. She undressed her, leaving her only in her underwear, and covered her with a comforter. She then scurried to the door, securing it with the lock, and settled in the recliner placed opposite the bed.

"I just stepped into a shitload of trouble, I can smell it." she muttered before closing her eyes and succumbing to the siren's call of sleep.

However, after only a couple of hours she was pulled away from her pleasant dreams by loud sobs coming from the bed. Opening her eyes, she saw Devon squirming in bed, looking like she was trying to run away, probably from the dream Johnny guy. She cringed in sympathy, knowing first hand what having a nightmare was like.

“Devon. Hey, Shrimpy, it's okay. It's only a dream. C'mon, wake up. Devon!”

When in response Devon started thrashing around hysterically, Jack jumped on the bed and scooped the resisting woman in her arms, biting her lip when Devon started clawing at her arms in attempt to break free.

Hugging Devon to her and effectively trapping her hands between their bodies, Jack began humming and whispering softly in her ear. “Shh, calm down, Shrimpy. It's just plain ole me. No real bad guys here.”

Devon jerked and her eyes flew open. Then panic overwhelmed her when she realized someone had her in a hold so tight she couldn't move a muscle.

“Hey, hey, take it easy. I'll release you if you promise me you won't kick, hit, slap or bite me.”

The raspy voice sounded vaguely familiar and Devon focused on it. Suddenly drained of energy, she looked sideways with sleepy eyes. “J-Jack?”

Jack smiled at her. “Hey! You remember me. That's a good sign.”

“What... happened?”

“Just a bad dream. Must be something you ate. So, you ready to get back to sleep?”

Devon's head bobbed up and down, her eyes unable to stay open. With a sigh, she curled on her side.

“Good night.” Jack smiled and tucked the comforter around her, then returned to the recliner.

“Would you lie next to me?”

“Excuse me?”

“Would you, please, lie next to me? I'm afraid.”

Surprised at the request, Jack looked around, hoping someone else would offer to do the comforting thing she sensed Devon was in dire need of. She scowled, seeing as there was no one else there but her.

“Oh. Uh, ahem, sure.” she stammered and somewhat awkwardly settled down next to Devon. “Me and my weakness for damsels in distress.”


* * *


Emerging out of the dreamland, Jack squinted, then quickly shut her eyes closed under the assault of strong light the lanterns were casting. She cursed herself for forgetting to turn them off last night.

Unable to resist the natural urge, she yawned, and it was then that she registered the weight on her chest. Tilting her head down, one blue eye peeped open, only to find the red head with blonde highlights resting there. She was confused at first, because she could swore last night Tiffany was an unnatural blonde. Seconds later, however, her mind woke up fully, and she remembered the turn the night had taken for, right when she was about to do some very interesting things to Tiffany.

“Man, she'll gonna make me pay for that.” she half-mumbled, half-yawned while rubbing the sleep off of her eyes.

Sparing another glance at the red head, she smirked and couldn't help but run her fingers through the long, silky hair. Devon mumbled something unintelligible in her sleep and buried her head under Jack's chin, her arm squeezing Jack's waist, hugging her more closely. Jack chuckled and scratched Devon's crown, earning more mumbling and nestling.

"You surely are a cuddly person." She chuckled in amusement, now tracing her index finger along Devon's jaw. After a moment of self-indulged appreciation of beauty, she patted her bedmate's shoulder. "C'mon, Shrimpy, time to get up."

"Just five more minutes, mom."

Jack's eyebrows shot up. “Oh, lady, good thing we're not related in any way, 'cause they would've locked me up for having triple X rated, incestuous thoughts about you.” Chuckling, she shook Devon's shoulder. “C'mon, we should really get up.”

“Don't wanna.”

"Well, I don't want to, either, but we have to. C'mon." Jack squeezed Devon's shoulder and tried to slip out of her firm grip.

Devon reluctantly let go of her warm pillow, moaning her protest. Her eyes slowly fluttered open, then widened comically when she realized whom she had used as her snuggling pillow. She bolted out of the bed with the speed of light, blushing profusely.

Jack, amused by her antics, just chuckled at her hasty retreat.

"I... I... Sorry...”

“S'okay.” Jack waved her off. “S'cool, really. I have lots of experience in acting as a human pillow.”

“I-I'm truly sorry. I-I don't..." Devon stammered, then shivered when a chill washed over her body. Glancing down, she realized she was clad only in her underwear. Blushing even more, she folded her arms across her chest and squeezed her legs closed, feeling utterly exposed.

"Don't worry, you've got nothing I haven't seen before." Jack stated offhandedly, hoping to put Devon at ease. As she got out of the bed, she handed Devon her clothes, then reached for her own. “I'm gonna make us something to eat, so why don't you make some coffee while I'm at it, huh?”


* * *


"Um, Jack, can I ask you something?"

For a moment, Jack looked away from the frying pan where she was making scrambled eggs and glanced at somewhat nervous Devon. "Uh, sure."

"Who was with you in here last night? I mean, I heard noises. Moans, to be exact. And pleas for mercy."

"Oh boy." Jack blushed and nervously scratched her cheek with the wrong end of the fork she was using for scrambling. She yelped and flinched away when the hot metal and bits of eggs touched her skin. Gently rubbing the sore spot, she glared at the offending item in her hand, then cleared her throat. "Well, um..."

Devon lowered her gaze and focused on her hands fumbling in her lap. "At first, I-I thought you were torturing someone."

Jack almost choked on her own tongue at the soft admission. She turned incredulous eyes toward Devon. "Wha?!?"

"Well, that's how it sounded to me. I thought you were torturing a woman and preparing to get rid of her body once you're finished with her."

"Well, I didn't torture the bitch, that's for certain!" Jack retorted indignantly, then added more softly, "At least, not in the way you obviously got the impression. Though God knows she definitely deserves it." She coughed to clear her throat and rather nervously pulled on the collar of her T-shirt, which suddenly became too tight.

Devon smiled at her shyly and blushed. “Yes, I kinda got clued in at what was really going on when you opened the door.”

"Yeah, well... Um, here's your afternoon breakfast." Jack put a generously filled plate in front of Devon, then settled across the table with a hearty plate of her own. "Maybe you should go to the police. In my experience, most of 'em are dickheads, but maybe they could help you. Y'know, offer you protection or somethin' as a witness."

She gestured for Devon to hand her the ketchup and squirted a healthy dose over her eggs before adding a small amount of minced onion, peppering everything with half a teaspoon of curry. Devon stared in both utter fascination and disgust, watching Jack as she happily savored the odd combination of tastes.

"How can you eat that?"

"Wha? S'good. Wanna try?" Jack offered a forkful of her breakfast.

"Uh, I think I'll trust your word on that, thank you." Devon declined, gently pushing the offering hand away.

"Suit yourself.” Jack shrugged, munching happily. “So, you wanna go to the dickheads?"

Devon shook her head and swallowed the food in her mouth so she could speak. "Mm, I don't know. I mean, I know I should, but... To tell you the truth, I just wanna go home, forget about everything, and live my life. Hopefully, this Johnny guy would forget about me, too. I just don't wanna get caught in the middle of an investigation and all that circus. That's what got me in this mess in the first place."

Jack's fork froze halfway toward her mouth. She frowned. "What do you mean?"

Devon put her silverware down and swallowed a mouthful of eggs.

"I'm from Chestonville originally. It's a small town some 90 miles away from here. I came to Bedlam City because some goddamned computer decided I should be a juror in the case of some guy who killed his wife after he caught her rolling between the sheets with his cousin.

This is actually my first time ever in this city and I got lost while trying to find my way to the subway. I ended up watching some random Johnny putting a peep hole in someone's forehead. He saw me I saw him. I ran. He ran after me. He almost got me, grabbed me by my jacket. I wrestled free off the jacket and ran again. I haphazardly chose your building to hide in. You caught me sneaking around and pointed a gun to my chest. As a brave soul that I am, I fainted, and here we are today, sharing a breakfast like the best of pals."

Finished with the story, Devon took a gulp of juice, then picked her fork and resumed with her meal.

"Some story." Jack murmured around a mouthful.

Devon snorted. "Tell me about it."

"Okay." Jack breathed out as she swallowed the last of her breakfast and pushed away from the table. She gathered the empty dishes and put them in the sink before turning around to face Devon. “If you'd like, you can use the shower while I clean up this mess and then I'll walk you to the subway.”

Devon stood up and walked to Jack, giving her a hug. "Thank you, Jack, for everything."

Jack reciprocated the gesture with a smile. "You're welcome. Now off ya go."


* * *


When much cleaner and refreshed Devon emerged out of the bathroom half an hour later, Jack was all set and ready to go. She put her SIG Sauer in the holster at the small of her back, hiding it from the unwanted glances under her dark blue windbreaker.

She snatched the door keys and a flashlight, then gestured with her head toward the door. "Shall we?"

Devon eyed her warily. "Do you have a license for that gun?"

Jack arched an eyebrow. "Do you think your buddy Johnny has a license for his gun?"

"Er, probably not."

"Exactly! So stop bugging me with technicalities. Jeez, soon they'll license farting 'cause someone might consider it a biological weapon." Jack grumbled as she swung the door open.

Turning on the flashlight, she took one step and froze. Her eyes wide and unblinking, she gulped, then stumbled backwards, slamming the door closed. She quickly bolted it and stepped away, not caring when the flashlight slipped out of her hand. As she exhaled slowly, her fingers entangled in her hair.

"Oh boy."

"What is it?" Devon asked as she came to stand beside her. She put a hand on Jack's upper arm to draw her attention. "Jack?"

"Jackie girl, open the door." a male voice called, a voice Devon recognized immediately. "I know you're in there, I just saw ya, for fuck's sake."

Jack moaned unhappily before taking a deep breath. "Johnny boy. Long time no see. How'd you know where to find me?"

"Your whore Tiffany narked on ya. Man, was she pissed at you or what!? The cunt sang like a happy canary when I introduced her to Benji. She said you brought in some stray redhead bimbo last night and kicked her ass out."

"Shit!" Jack cursed quietly and mentally kicked herself in the ass for her own stupidity. "I knew it that traitorous bitch would cost me big time! Again! Aw, you should start thinking with another part of your anatomy, Jack."

"I just want the chick, Jack."

Jack's head snapped sideways and she regarded visibly frightened Devon. " This is your Johnny guy?"

Devon's panicked expression was all the answer she needed to confirm her earlier suspicion.

‘Oh boy, this is so not good.'

Devon looked up at Jack with pleading eyes, silently begging her not to turn her over to the man she was positive was Johnny the Killer from yesterday evening.

"What'd she do to you?" Jack asked the man, trying to gather more information and stall long enough so she could come up with a plan.

"I just wanna talk to her. We had a... little misunderstanding last night. Right, Devon?"

Devon's eyes bulged to the size of saucers. "How in the hell does he know my name?" she mouthed to Jack who shrugged her shoulders.

“The boss has a... proposition for her.” Johnny continued. “And... if you're a good girl and hand her over to me without any fuss, I just might forget to mention to the boss that I've finally found you. While I haul her over to him, you'll have enough time to scram and find yourself a new hidey hole."

Jack snorted. 'Yeah, right. Johnny Delgado letting the opportunity to pay me back to slip away from his greasy fingers? Not likely.' Glancing down at her companion, she sighed. "A'right."

Wide-eyed, Devon gasped, unable to believe that Jack would betray her.

Smiling reassuringly, Jack leaned closer and whispered, "I need you to trust me on this one and play along. Okay?" She stepped back and cupped Devon's cheek. "I'll get us out of this, Devon, I promise."

Devon nodded and wiped her eyes.

"Okay." Jack breathed out. Closing her eyes for a brief moment, she took a deep breath and unholstered her gun. Switching the safety off, she pulled Devon close to her body and put the barrel against her right temple. "Don't worry, I won't shoot you." she whispered when Devon stiffened in her arms. "Now, unbolt the door."

Devon did as she was told and stumbled when Jack quickly stepped backwards, pulling her along. The door opened and the man in a black suit entered the room.

"Ah ah ah!" Jack shook her head when Johnny stepped over the doorstep. "That's close enough, Johnny boy. You know how my hands can get shaky. Let's not risk damaging the goods."

Johnny eyed the gun pointed at Devon's temple and his face grimaced in disgust. Jack had the upper hand, and he had to figure out how to turn the tables. And carefully, lest Jack wouldn't shoot the girl. It wouldn't be the first time, and his boss wanted this one alive and unharmed, planning to put her in his 'special' business. And if she wasn't delivered in top health, well, his balls would be on the grill. Literally. Regardless he was his boss' favorite man.

"Hand over the girl, Jack, and I won't drag your thrashed ass back to the boss. How's that for a bargain?"

"How can I be sure you won't just clobber me over the noggin' as soon as I turn my back on you?"

Johnny smirked. "Well, ya can't. Guess you'll have to trust me on my word, eh?"

Jack snorted loudly. "Dude, I don't trust my own mother, and you expect me to trust you? You, Vitto's favorite lap dog? Ha! Blow me! Oh, no, wait. Rosie did that already, and more.”

She knew she shouldn't provoke him, but it was so ingrained in her, she couldn't help it. She grinned when that little vein on his forehead threatened to burst.

“Man, she howled like a wolf on the moon while riding me. Later, I had to pass notes to some of the guys to let 'em know what she's best at. Say, is she still giving freebies to the boss' men, or you have to pay nowadays?”

"You fuckin' dyke!" Johnny spat furiously, completely losing his temper. He knew the rules regarding Jack: kicking her ass was allowed, as long as one made sure she will live. But there is only so much a man can take. Jack always seemed to find some way to humiliate him, ever since they were kids. And then she'd rub it in his face every chance she got.

Not caring about possible consequences anymore, he raised the gun he firmly held in his left hand, his right one still clutching the flashlight. But, before he knew it, Jack pushed Devon aside and leveled the barrel at his chest. She pulled the trigger, and Devon jumped in reaction when the sound of a gun discharging reverberated against the concrete walls, ringing in her ears so loud it was almost painful.

Then three pairs of eyes fixed on Johnny's chest, where a big, wet spot was now marring his expensive suit.

“You bitch!” he gurgled indignantly before death claimed him.

Jack dropped the smoking gun on the floor and grabbed trembling Devon by her shoulders. "Hey, Shrimpy, you okay?"

When she got no answer, she tried to coax any kind of reaction from Devon by patting her cheek.

"Devon? C'mon, Dev, say something."

Devon blinked a couple of times, clearly in shock. "I-I think I'm gonna be sick."

"No, no no no. No puking. Oh boy. Look... aw, look, Shrimpy, I know this kinda shook you up and all, but we have to go. Like, now!"

Not getting any response, Jack leaned Devon against the wall and rushed toward the bed, pulling her duffel bag from under it. She grabbed her most essential things, among which were $67,000 she earned from selling that last batch of pot and stuffed all of it, along with some of her clothes, in the bag and zipped it closed. Picking the gun off the floor, she put it back in its holster, then reached for the bag. She draped it over her shoulder with one hand, while the other one claimed a firm hold of Devon's hand.

"C'mon, Shrimpy, we have to go."

Knowing the building like the deep of her pocket, Jack led them through the dark expertly, avoiding all the holes and barriers in their way. In a matter of minutes, they emerged onto the deserted street. Squinting against the setting sun, she glanced left and right before she focused solely on her silent companion.

"Aw, c'mon, Dev, don't be in shock right now, it's not the time."

"You killed a man." Devon whispered, astounded.

"Yeah, well, it happens sometimes. Look, Shrimpy, it was him or us. I preferred us. Y'know, dunno 'bout you, but I'm not in a hurry to find out if there actually is or isn't an afterlife."

Glancing around nervously, Jack brushed her bangs out of her eyes, hoping Johnny didn't hide any ambushers around the building.

"Devon, we, like, really, really have to go!"

"Okay." Devon agreed, her brain still in a haze.

Jack nodded and took a hold of her hand, leading her through the darkening, unfamiliar alleyways in silence, until Devon caught a glimpse of traffic.

"Where are we going?"

Jack glanced sideways, maintaining a firm hold on Devon's hand. "First we're going to visit one of my friends, then we'll go somewhere nice."

"When can I go home?"

Stopping abruptly, Jack closed her eyes and took a deep breath before facing Devon. She dropped the bag and put both hands on Devon's shoulders. "I'm sorry, Devon, but you can't go home."

Devon frowned. "What do you mean, I can't go home? Why not?"

"Dev, you told me you've lost your jacket. Did you have anything in there Johnny boy could've identified you by?"

Her brows furrowed as Devon thought about it. "Uh, I have my ID in my wallet, and my wallet is..." She touched the pockets of her slacks and closed her eyes when she couldn't find it. Sighing, she covered her eyes with one hand. "...in my jacket. Son of a bitch! That's how he knew my name."

Jack exhaled heavily, massaging the bridge of her nose. "Devon, the guy I... who was after you, he was a mobster. The boss he talked about is Vittorio Moretti, a hotshot who holds half of Idaho in his pocket, and the other half by their balls. By now, he probably even knows the preferable color and the size of the bra you're wearing."

"Oh my God!" Devon shrieked as a sudden dread filled her entire being. "What about my family?"

"If he still operates as I remember, he'll leave them be. He wants you and you alone. But he'll put a tag on 'em in case you try to make a contact.” Jack explained with compassion, giving Devon's shoulder a light squeeze. “I'm sorry, Shrimpy.”

Devon snorted bitterly. "Once again, I ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm so sorry you got involved in my mess, Jack."

Jack waved her off. "No sweat. I was already a high priority on Johnny's shit list, anyway. It was only a matter of time when he'd find me."

"How so?"

"I, uh..." Jack picked up the bag, took Devon's hand and pulled her along. As they emerged on the main street she cleared her throat. "Well, for my last stunt... I, uh, I banged his sister, Rosie."

Devon quickly looked up, then shook her head with a sigh. "Oh boy. Why, great. I'm running away with a woman who could give Casanova a run for his money. Can you keep it in your pants at least till we get out of this mess?"

Jack raised an amused eyebrow at Devon's using of her own proverb and grinned cheekily. “Why, thank you for having such a high opinion of me, but I must humbly confess I'm still nowhere near the nice, round number of 10, let alone Casanova's personal record.”

“As long as you've scored with Johnny's sister.” Devon quipped.

Jack regarded her through narrowed eyes. "If you really must know, she was coming on to me."

"Uh huh."

"Well, she was." Jack muttered and tugged on Devon's hand, stepping onto the escalator leading down to the subway station.


~ Chapter II ~


After two hours and forty minutes of squashing and getting a notion of how sardines must feel like in their little tin cans, Jack and Devon practically jumped out of the train and hurried up the steps. Emerging onto the busy street, they welcomed the smog polluted air over the mix of dozens different bodily odors, none too pleasant.

Admittedly, their sense of smell suffered a great deal, but it was their price to pay since they didn't buy tickets, not wanting to leave any evidence whatsoever as to where they might be going. Taking a cab was out of the question since the taxi service was Vittorio's only legit business, and Jack wasn't about to risk running into one of his men. So, it was the subway or walking since neither owned a car. Furthermore, Jack left Devon astounded when she admitted she never even gotten her driver's license.

"C'mon." Jack tugged on Devon's hand and was yanked backwards when she stumbled and pulled her back. "What's wrong?" she asked with a frown when she noticed Devon favoring her right knee.

"I, uh, had an accident several years ago." Devon confessed through clenched teeth. She growled out her frustration, but slowly gathered her resolve and limped away. "C'mon. And don't you look at me like that, I'm not a freaking invalid!" she called over her shoulder when Jack just kept standing there, staring at her retreating back.

"Oh boy." Jack sighed and ran her fingers through her hair before bolting after Devon.

Hour and a half of walking later, Devon had to admit even to her stubborn self that she reached her final limits and needed rest, desperately. Her knee protested for being overused and by now, her limp was very much prominent. Capitulating, she called Jack's name.


“Can we sit somewhere for awhile?”

Jack couldn't help but smirk. 'My o my. Devon the Stubborn finally admitting she can't go on anymore. Oh, my God! That has to be written down and framed!'

But at the same time, she felt bad for her. She could only imagine how much that knee must be hurting if Devon conceded.

"Sure. Where'd you wanna go?"

"Dunno." Devon shrugged non-committaly. "Somewhere we can get some coffee and some food, I guess."

Jack's smile was blinding as she regarded her companion. "I know just the right place."

Now already a habit, she clasped Devon's hand and led her to the other side of the street. A few blocks further, they found themselves standing in front of a small diner. Entering, Jack scanned the place for any familiar faces before they settled in a fairly secluded booth and gave their orders to a waitress Jack seemed very familiar with. Soon, the coffee and the food was in front of them and they both attacked it with gusto.



"How did you know it will work?"

Puzzled, Jack looked across the table. "How did I know it will work, what?"

Devon used a napkin to wipe her mouth before speaking. "You know... Me, Johnny..." She leaned over the table and lowered her voice to a whisper. "...the gun at my temple."

"Oh, that. Well, when Johnny boy said his boss has “propositioned” you, I knew the old son of a bitch wanted you alive and in top health, and I could use that to our advantage."


Jack sighed. "Johnny boy had to be careful so you don't get hurt. Not 'cause he had a good heart or anything, but because his balls would end up on the grill for damaging the boss' goods. But, as you saw, things got a little out of hand.”

Devon gave her an incredulous look. “A little?”

“Okay, a lot. I didn't mean to kill him, you know? Anyway, this ''proposition'' means the boss wants you alive and unharmed for one of his businesses. Prostitution branch, to be exact."

Devon's eyes almost popped out at that little piece of information.

"Excuse me?!?" she whispered harshly, then glanced around, hoping no one overheard their conversation.

"Look, Devon, you're a very beautiful young woman. Johnny boy must've shown Vittorio your ID, and when he saw your picture... well, the bastard clearly decided in the long run it'd be more worth it to snatch you alive and “employ” you as one of his elite whores than to simply whack you."

"Oh, goodie!" Devon scrunched her face in a fake smile, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Being a sex slave is so much better than being killed."

"Yeah, I know, it's not much of an option."

"No shit, Sherlock!" Devon muttered. She leaned into the soft back of the bench and took a sip of her coffee, eying the rest of her food. She kind of lost her appetite, but her stomach demanding to be filled, she forced herself to at least try to wipe her plate clean.

"How come you know so much about all that?" she asked, swallowing a piece of sausage. "About this Victor guy?"

Jack played with her food, considering should she play deaf or provide an answer. Closing her eyes, she exhaled slowly through her nose.

"Vittorio. Because I used to work for the old bastard."

She kept playing with the food on her plate, afraid to raise her eyes, knowing for sure Devon would now run away from her screaming bloody murder.

But it never happened. Instead, she felt a small hand taking her own and squeezing gently.

Jack finally found the courage to look up and was pleasantly surprised when she was faced by the most beautiful, compassionate smile ever directed her way. She automatically returned the smile and brought her attention back to her meal once Devon released her hand and returned to her own food. They finished in silence, then Jack grabbed her bag, leaving a few bills on the table, enough to cover the check and the tip, and headed out with Devon in tow.

"Jack?" Devon called just as they turned around the corner of Mercury St., their final destination.


Devon bit her lower lip, unsure if she had the right to ask, or if she really wanted to know.

Jack stopped and turned around. "What is it?"

Devon squirmed and averted her gaze. "I..."

Jack's brows furrowed and her voice filled with concern. "Is something wrong, Shrimpy? Is your knee hurting again?" She nodded with her head toward the one story building across the street. "Hang on just a few more, we're--"

"No. No, it's not that." Devon interrupted her. "I was just wondering..." Green eyes glanced up for a brief moment, then quickly lowered to the ground.

"What, Devon?" Jack huffed and re-settled the bag on her shoulder. "Listen, we really shouldn't be standing in the middle of the street like this."

"Oh, right." Devon smiled weakly and scurried after Jack.

Entering the building, Jack closed the door behind Devon, then pushed her gently against the wall. "A'right, spit it! What's naggin' your mind?"

Devon lowered her head and scuffed her toe on the concrete tile, her voice small and timid. "I wanted to know what were you doing for Vittorio?"

Jack inhaled deeply, then released a shaky breath. "Oh boy. Ahem, well..." She nervously rubbed her chin, and ended up scratching her cheek. "I was a really small fish in the sea, to be honest. I was just dropping shipments of ice from the lab to our Johnny boy."

"Ice?" Devon blinked stupidly. She wondered why would a mobster deal in ice, of all things.


'Ah.' Devon's eyes narrowed when the more familiar word sunk in. "So, you were a drug dealer."

“No.” Jack shook her head. “I didn't sell the shit or anything. I mean, I am, was, from my own stash. But I only did grass, nothing more serious than that, I swear. For him, I was just a delivery guy, picking up the packages when they were ready and dropping them at Johnny's, who was then doing with them whatever."

"Oh." Devon looked away for a moment, digesting all the information, then again focused on those eyes filled with fear of being judged. "Why were you doing that?"

Jack reached up to rub her eyes, then re-arranged the bag on her other shoulder. "About ten years back, that bitch I didn't torture got busted for prostitution. She made a deal with the dickheads and narked on me. The cops raided my place, caught me growing pot. I was busted and had my ass hauled in jail, facing 5 to 7, 'cause I was already on probation for driving while I was higher than the Empire State, and without a license, of course. My old man had begged that son of a bitch to get me out. He did, and I was paying my due, along with my dad."

"Oh. And where is you dad now?"

Jack once again re-arranged the bag, grabbed Devon's hand and pulled her along down the stairs.

"He's dead."

"Oh. I'm sorry." Devon said softly and squeezed Jack's hand. "What happened?"

"He got drunk and ended up in an intimate hug with an unfortunate street lamp."

"Oh my!" Devon exclaimed and covered her mouth in astonishment. “I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have asked.”

Jack shrugged her shoulders indifferently. "S'okay, it was a long time ago. We're here." she announced as they reached the only door in the long corridor. She let go of Devon's hand and knocked five times on the metal door, paused for two seconds and then knocked once more.

"What's your number?"

"99 red balloons." Jack answered and Devon had a hard time containing her chuckle inside and not laugh outright.

Jack glared at her through narrowed eyes, daring her to say something. Devon, still chuckling, raised her hands and backed away, watching as the door was opened. Jack motioned for her to step inside, then entered after her. She dropped her bag on the floor and turned to her long time friend, accepting the bone-crushing hug.

"Long time no see, Jack. No phone call, no card, no nothing. I thought you were maybe six feet under."

Jack stepped away from the hug and with a smile held the other woman at arm's length. "Sorry, Cat, but I had to stay under the radar after all that shit with Rosie and Johnny boy."

Copycat chuckled and patted Jack's back. "Yeah, I've heard all about that. Did you at least score?"

Jack snorted, then grinned impishly. "Hell yeah! Johnny boy whizzed in her bedroom just as I was giving her a lesson in proper riding stance."

Devon blushed and looked everywhere but in the direction of the two women who just high fived each other. She cleared her throat and spied all the equipment and little gadgets scattered all over the place.

Copycat acknowledged the presence of the young woman and elbowed Jack in the ribs. "You gonna introduce me to this lovely thing or are you just gonna stand here like a Jack ass?"

Jack glared at her friend, but the glint in her eyes was a clear giveaway she wasn't really angry at the friendly jibe. She cleared her throat and put one arm around Devon's shoulders, pulling her closer.

"Copycat, this is Devon the Shrimp."

Devon shot her a glare. "Devon Carter." she growled and held out her hand while still maintaining eye contact with smirking Jack.

"Dev, meet Copycat the Machine Killer."

"Nice to meet you, Copycat."

"Same here." Copycat winked at her. "So, what brings the two of you into my neck of the woods?"

Jack glanced briefly at Devon, then looked at her old friend. "We need new names, the whole package."

"Whoa, girl!" Copycat looked at her in surprise. "Who did you boink this time? The President's wife?"

"Worse. I wasted Johnny boy and Devon here saw him getting rid of one of the rats. The old bastard propositioned her."

"Holy fuck!" Copycat puffed out as she ran her hands through her spiky hair. "Oh, Jack, you really know how to pick 'em girls, don't you? You are aware that sadistic bastard's gonna skin you alive for snatching his goods yet again? You know that, don't you? Not to mention you wasted his boy. "

"Yeah, yeah. So, when can it be done?"

Copycat took several long moments to study her friend before she spoke. "Let's go to my studio so I can take pictures of you two."

She ushered them both into her studio where she took their pictures, then went to begin making up their new lives, leaving them to settle for the rest of their staying here in the only spare bedroom.

Once in the room, Jack dropped her bag on the floor, then plopped down on the bed, running her hands through her already enough messed hair, Devon settling down next to her.

"Oh boy." Jack sighed just as Copycat knocked on the open door. "Yeah?"

Copycat looked from her friend to Devon. "You guys thought about your new names? I'm taking requests."

Devon and Jack looked at each other before Jack shrugged indifferently. "You have any special request?" she asked Devon.

Devon thought about it for a few minutes, then smiled at Jack. "What do you think about Alison?"

"Alison, huh?" Jack gave her the once over and nodded slowly. "Hm, kinda suits you, actually." She smiled and tasted the name again. "Alison. Alison... Alison Williams."

Devon graced her with one of her most beautiful smiles. "Alison Williams, you say?"

Jack nodded. "Um hum. You look like Alison Williams to me."

"I like it." Devon said and repeated the name once again. "Alison Williams. Well..." She cleared her throat and offered her hand to Jack. "Hi, I'm Alison Williams. And you are?"

Jack grinned as they shook hands. "Hi, Alison. Hey, can I call you Allie?" Devon nodded and Jack continued, "Well, Allie, my name is... Taylor Carter." She wiggled her eyebrows. "Whaddaya say?"

"Carter, eh?" Devon smiled as Jack winked at her. “My, should I feel flattered? We've known each other for one day.”

“Sure you do. I wouldn't use just any woman's last name.” Jack grinned saucily, but then grew serious. “No, I was kiddin'. I would be honored to use your last name, but we shouldn't tempt lady luck. She's a bitch on a good day. I was thinking more along the lines like... Taylor... Johnson. Taylor's a nice name, I always liked it, and Johnson... It's common enough, yet not as flagrant as Smith.”

"Not bad, dude. Not bad." Copycat smiled when Devon approved of Jack's choice with a nod and a grin. Then she scurried away to do her magic.

Later that night, both Devon and Jack lay on the bed in similar position; on their backs, with their hands behind their heads, staring at the ceiling. They talked about everything they went through and what they'd expect from their new lives.

"Jack, do you think we will ever be able to return to our real lives?"

Jack looked sideways at her companion. "I honestly don't know, Shrimpy. I mean, I've been hiding for the past three years, but I've been mostly avoiding Johnny boy. That was easy enough, he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. But Vittorio... He's like a dog with a bone – he doesn't let go just like that. And he has a whole pack behind him ready to pounce at his bark."

Devon sighed and a few tears slipped out. She was saddened by the possibility of never being able to see her family again; her parents and all her siblings. But Jack explained to her if she was to appear on their doorstep, Vittorio would grab her in a matter of minutes. And none of her future plans involved ending up as someone's plaything.

Seeing the tears, Jack scooted closer and tugged at her new friend's arm. "C'mere."

Devon instantly laid her head on a broad shoulder, snaking her left arm around Jack's waist. She sighed in contentment and closed her eyes when long fingers combed through her hair, making her relaxed and sleepy.

"Thank you for being here with me." she murmured and snuggled closer into the warm body next to her. She really needed that comfort right now.

Jack smiled warmly and held her more tightly. "You're welcome." she replied softly and kept stroking her hair until she was sure Devon had dozed off. Extricating herself from the hug, she got up and was on her way to the sofa in the living room, when a small voice stopped her at the door jam.

“Please, don't leave me alone.”

Jack's heart clenched at the desperate plea. She quickly returned to the bed, once again taking Devon in her arms.

“Shh, you're not alone.” she whispered. “I'm right here.”

She then closed her eyes, not allowing her mind to mull over the thoughts she knew wouldn't let her get the sleep she needed.

'Tomorrow. We'll face things tomorrow.'

With that single thought, her breathing soon evened, indicating she was asleep.


* * *


Hot breath tickled the sensitive skin of her neck, while surprisingly strong arms held her in a loving embrace. The warmth emanating from the woman's body lying on top of her made her blood boil in her veins. She whimpered and felt her libido stirring to life when soft lips pressed a featherlight kiss on her pulse point. She tilted her head to give the questioning lips a little more skin to enjoy, but instead of kisses, she felt something sticky bathing her neck.

Dark brows furrowed in sleep. 'What the...'

Suddenly, two pale eyes popped open and Jack fingered around her neck, feeling the soft hair beneath her fingertips. She slowly traced down the sleepy face until she reached the soft lips, slightly parted. She fingered the corner of the mouth and traced the wet path leading all the way to her neck. Devon hadn't woken up, hadn't even stirred at the nuisance, just smacked her lips, turned her head and continued drooling on the other side of Jack's neck.

"Oh boy." Jack muttered and closed her eyes. Sighing deeply, she blinked, gently scratching the top of Devon's crown with the tips of her fingers. "C'mon, Shrimpy, rise and shine."

Devon answered with a loud snore, then smacked her lips and tightened her hold on the body underneath her. Jack couldn't help but chuckle. It was obvious Devon wasn't a person who could wake up easily. But, no matter how much Jack enjoyed this, minus the drooling, of course, it was time to get up.

An impish glint sparkled in her eyes, matching her equally impish grin as her right hand traveled down Devon's back, getting closer to its ultimate goal.

"Yikes!" Devon suddenly yelped, very much awake. She glared down at amused Jack who continued to snicker. "Why'd you do that for?" she grumbled, rubbing her backside where Jack had pinched her.

Jack gave her a saucy grin. "'Cause it's effective. You're awake, aren't you?"

"Y'know, Jack, there are far more pleasurable ways to wake someone up."

Jack's grin broaden even more and her hands began roaming all over Devon's back. "Oh yeah?"

"Okay, wrong choice of words." Devon smacked Jack's wandering hands when they neared to her rear, then rolled away from her. "Hey, down girl! Do you always grope women? God, I swear you're worse than men."

"Well, I can't help it since you keep using me as your own personal furnace and mattress all rolled into one. So, I thought I could add a sex toy to be 3 in 1. Y'know, like that 3 in 1 instant coffee."

Devon chuckled along with Jack. "Sorry to disappoint you, buddy, but you're barking up the wrong tree here." she ensured her before she got up and snatched her clothes off the chair placed next to the bed.

Jack yawned and sat on the bed, flopping her sock-clad feet on the floor. Releasing another yawn, she ran her fingers through her sleep tousled hair, trying to bring it in some kind of order.

"Ah, you're just sayin' that now." she remarked with a smirk. "Wait till you see all my qualities, not just my trial version."

Devon snorted despite her coloring cheeks, embarrassed for once again taking so much liberty within Jack's personal space, albeit while asleep. But then, as she turned around to face the woman, she grew all serious. She stepped right in front of Jack, standing between her long legs. She cupped her face in both hands, looking her straight in the eye.

"I've already seen your qualities, Jack, and I've learned how extraordinary a person you are. We've known each other for two days, and in that short span of time you saved my life and basically threw away yours just to help me, a total stranger. You held me while I cried, offered me comfort, protection... And all that after I interrupted your... ahem, you know.”

Jack burst out laughing when a deep red painted Devon's face, and Devon couldn't help but join in with a soft chuckle.

“Yeah, ahem... So, I don't know about you, but to me, that's saying a hell of a lot about one's qualities. And I couldn't thank you enough."

She then placed a soft kiss upon Jack's cheek and continued with her dressing. Jack sat there on the bed, speechless. Never in her life had she done anything worth praising. Until now, and that warmed her heart immensely, drawing forth a big, genuine smile on her face.

"Thank you, Devon." she said softly. She got up and snagged her into a bear hug. "That's the most nicest thing anyone ever said to me."

Devon melted into the hug, drawing soothing circles over Jack's back. "Hey, I can give a praise when it's earned."

"Yeah, well..." Jack cleared her throat and slowly backed away, feeling her emotions flowing dangerously near the surface. "Now look at what you've done. You turned me into a giant mush ball! That's no good, Shrimpy, I have a rep to maintain."

Devon chuckled and shook her head, patting Jack's midriff. "Yeah, yeah. You're acting all tough, but I know now there's a soft heart underneath it all."

Jack chuckled and let her impish personality resurface again. "But you're still gonna fall for me, girl. Mark my words. No woman can resist my charms."

Devon snorted. "Dream on, Romeo."

"Oh, I'm dreamin', a'right." Jack wiggled her eyebrows, earning a smack in the shoulder for her reply. "And just so you know, you're droolin' in your sleep more than a baby can wet its diaper for the night.”

After a short pause she added, “But I still like you.”

Devon gaped at her indignantly, hands planted on her hips. "Excuse me? I do not drool!"

"Oh, you don't? So, what's this, then?" Jack pointed to her still slobbery neck. “Hm? Did a toothless vampire attack me?”

Devon had the grace to blush, but nevertheless opened her mouth for a counter quip, when both she and Jack heard snickering coming from the door jam. They both looked that way and noticed Copycat leaning there, observing their interaction with amusement.

"Christ, you two sound like you've been married for 15 years." Copycat joked.

"Perish the thought!" Jack quipped. "This one would've drowned me in her sleep the second night of our marriage."

Copycat laughed loudly while Devon just glared at them both. She opened her mouth to fire back some smart retort, but thought better of it and instead turned toward Copycat. "So, how's it going with...?"

Copycat took a deep, calming breath, but the small smirk still remained on her lips, even as she answered. "Don't worry about it. When it's done, it'll be as good as legit. Now, when you two are ready, the food's awaiting." she informed them, then turned away and left the room.

Jack smirked and draped an arm over Devon's shoulder. "C'mon, my little droolin' machine." She snickered as she steered her companion toward the kitchen where she knew a royal feast was waiting for them.


* * *


They stayed with Copycat for a whole week, Jack covering both of their tracks and cutting loose ends while waiting for Copycat to create not only their new IDs, but the whole thing; their new lives, completed with fictitious background and a secured job. Their other friend was taking care of some other things from her end, among which was finding a new place they would call home, and today she gave Jack and Devon the green light.

“Everything's set.” Copycat said as she settled next to her friend. She grabbed her cup of coffee and watched the two women eating breakfast, hoping they'd see each other again someday.

After the breakfast, Jack packed their things and was saying goodbye to her friend, deep inside hoping this wasn't the last time she'd ever see the spunky blonde.

“Here.” Copycat handed her a cellphone. “Don't worry, it can't be traced. Call me if you need anything, and if you get in trouble, Rickie's number's in there, too. She said to call her if you need anything else done from her end. Also, this is where your new home is.” She gave Jack a slip of paper containing her and Devon's new address.

Jack hugged her friend tightly and closed her eyes. “Thanks, Cat, for everything.” Letting go, she looked around to be sure Devon was nowhere near before whispering, “Please, keep an eye on Devon's folks. Vittorio's usually not the guy going after the family, but you can never know for certain with the bastard.”

Copycat nodded. “You got it, babe.”

“Great. Here's the address.” Jack handed her a piece of paper with Devon's address scribbled hastily.

Copycat nodded and quickly put the paper in her pocket when Devon emerged from the bathroom. Seeing her friend looking behind her, Jack turned around and faced Devon with a smile.

“Ready?” she asked.

“Ready.” Devon answered and rewarded Copycat with one final hug.

With that, the two women exited the building and headed toward the bus station.

"So, how do you like Canada?" Jack asked conversationally. She had yet to inform Devon where they will reside from now on.

"Canada? Jack, isn't that a bit too drastic? Why couldn't we stay in the States, maybe go somewhere south?"

“Aah, Dev, staying in the States wouldn't be the smartest thing to do. That bastard has connections all over. Besides, everything's set. Our final destination is a small town in Alberta called Maywall.”

"Oh, alright." Devon capitulated with a sigh and without paying much attention to their surroundings dutifully followed Jack who was leading the way.

Jack, on her part, was antsy, hardly waiting to be as far from Bedlam City as possible. She knew Vittorio had probably discovered Johnny's cooling body by now, and it wouldn't be hard for him to guess who killed him. She glanced around with wild eyes, watching for anyone suspicious among the throng of people on the busy streets.

Deciding to take a shortcut, she steered them toward the parking lot of a nearby mall. She observed with a wary eye all the cars parked there and the people passing by. Not noticing anything out of the ordinary, she relaxed until her eyes locked on a police cruiser which just gave the signal for turning into the lot. A disturbing feeling churned deep inside her gut as she watched the cruiser rolling closer toward them. She yanked on the sleeve of Devon's shirt and turned back to the path they came.

"C'mon Shrimpy, this way."

"Wait, didn't you say we're supposed to go that way?" Devon pointed with her thumb in the other direction.

"I have a bad feeling about that..."

"Stop, police!"

"...cop." Jack finished and looked down at Devon, grasping her hand tightly. "Run!" she hissed, dropping her duffel bag, knowing it would only slow them down.

She glanced over her shoulder, watching the officer eating the distance between them quickly. Running only as fast as Devon was able to, Jack knew the cop would catch them soon unless she could incapacitate him without killing him. Marked as cop killers wouldn't help their situation at all, even if he was a dirty cop.

Turning a sharp left into an alley, Jack sneered and with her free hand grabbed the container full of trash resting against the wall. With a grunt, she yanked it behind her and pushed it toward the cop who was fast on their heels.

Both she and Devon heard the sound of a person colliding with the hard metal, accompanied by a loud ugh . Devon cringed and almost felt sorry for the guy. Jack chanced another glimpse over her shoulder and, spotting the policeman lying sprawled on the ground, expelled a sigh of relief, knowing she wouldn't have to push Devon over her limits.

She slowed their pace, giving Devon's bad knee a chance for recovery, all along cursing inwardly for having to ditch the bag. Fortunately, she moved all the cash and their new papers into the small rucksack Devon carried, but all of their clothes and, more importantly, the spare ammunition for her gun was in the bag. But there was no way she was going back for it and risk being captured if the cop had called for backup.

Four blocks further, they stopped to catch their breaths and for Jack to think.

"What now?" Devon asked, out of breath.

Jack looked around, noticing they were in less than friendly part of the city, even worse than where she had lived. Even in the light of day, it wasn't safe to stick around on the streets for long. She patted her SIG behind her back, feeling a bit safer knowing she had her gun with her.

"C'mon, I know the place where we can rest for awhile." She grabbed Devon's hand and led them to a motel where she knew no one would ask any questions. “We'll spend the day there and catch the late evening bus.”


* * *


Once they secured the room, Jack locked the door and started her nervous pacing. "Oh boy."

She squeezed her eyes shut and combed shaky fingers through her hair. She took a deep, calming breath, when she felt a warm hand touching her upper arm.

"Are you okay?"

Devon's soft touch and voice made Jack stop and open her eyes. Looking down, she smiled, though weakly. " I should be asking you that question. How's your knee?"

Devon rubbed the body part in question and grimaced at the pain there. "I'll live. We're screwed, aren't we?"

Jack smiled bitterly and pulled her friend into a hug. "C'mere."

Devon's arms encircled Jack's waist and squeezed tightly. Jack placed her chin on the red head and simply relished the presence of another human being. Running for your life seems a lot easier when you're having someone else by your side.

"We'll figure something out." she whispered. "But first of all, you have to ditch your clothes."

Devon pulled away from the hug and with a frown glanced down at her white button down shirt, gray slacks and black loafers.

"Well, it's rather hard to run in this fancy shit, dodging all the bad guys, wouldn't you say?"

"You've got a point there." Devon quickly agreed, their recent run still very fresh in her mind.

"Yeah, well, I have my moments. Now, you stay here and don't let anybody in. I'll be back in a couple of hours or so."

"Where are you going?"

Jack detected a tiny trace of fear in Devon's voice, instantly knowing she was afraid she would be left behind. She smiled and squeezed Devon's shoulders in assurance.

"Hey, I'm not going to leave you here, Shrimpy. I'm just going to buy us some new clothes and grab some food. And I have to go get some ammo." She leaned down and looked into those green depths. "Look, we started this together, we'll finish this together. Okay?"

Devon nodded. "I'm sorry, Jack. I-I just thought maybe..."

"Aw, Shrimpy." Jack hugged her tightly, running her hand up and down Devon's back. "Look, I just want for you to rest your knee a bit. I know it must hurt like a bitch after all this running. I'll be back as soon as I can, probably in two or three hours. A'right?"

Devon nodded and smiled weakly. "A'right."

Jack chuckled and ruffled the red-gold tresses. "A'right then." she said and exited the room, leaving Devon alone with her thoughts.

True to her words, Jack was back two and a half hours later, carrying two full, heavy bags in one hand and two boxes of jumbo pizzas in the other. Hands busy, she kicked the door with her hiking boot-clad foot.

"Who is it?"

"It's me, Jack."

There was a sound of the door unlocking, then Devon opened it wide enough for Jack to enter with all the goods.

"Hope you like junk food." Jack nodded toward the two red carton boxes she was holding, the smell spreading out of them, taunting two empty bellies.

"Oh, yeah!" Devon beamed and snatched the boxes. "What's in there?" she asked, pointing toward the bags.

"Our new clothes." Jack answered and started pulling the new garments out. "I had a little problem finding the fitting clothing for you, considering you're only 5'3'', but I've found everything I needed in the kids' compartment."

She smirked as she laid two pairs of children sized, different colored cargo pants she had bought for Devon on the bed, then rummaged through the bags, pulling out one dark blue and one dark green hooded sweatshirt, one olive green, long-sleeved shirt, two white T-shirts, two pairs of thick sports socks, black women's boxers with matching sports bra, blue baseball cap and at last, a pair of hiking shoes.

Devon folded her arms and cleared her throat, glaring menacingly at Jack, but letting the quip about her height slip by without a comment.

"Uh, I hope you don't mind I bought you this," Jack blushed, pointing to the undergarments, "but I figured you'd might like to have a pair of fresh undies to change into until we get to our new home."

Devon smirked at her blushing companion and thanked her for her thoughtfulness. "Yes, thank you."

“Unless you want to go commando all the time. You won't hear any complaints from me for going for it.”

“Ha! You wish.” Devon snorted, then motioned for Jack to turn around so she could change. "Um, Jack?" she called while shedding her old clothes and stepping into the new ones. "I wanted to ask you, what was it with that cop?"

She put the extra clothes into the backpack Jack also bought. Folding her old clothes, she put it on the bed and finally attacked her pizza.

"That was one of Vittorio's dogs. I told you he has connections everywhere, and that includes the police. I believe the DA's also on his paycheck."

"Sweet." Devon snorted in disgust.

"Yup." Jack mock saluted her with a slice of pizza held high. "Welcome to Bedlam City."

"Mm. But how can you be sure Vittorio sent him? Maybe the police found--"

"Nuh uh." Jack cut her off and swallowed a mouthful before continuing. "First of all, there's no a snowball chance in hell anyone could've heard that shot. Second of all, even if somebody, against all odds, heard it, and even less likely, reported it to the police, the cops couldn't figure out that fast who killed Johnny boy."

"But wouldn't they know he was killed in your apartment?” Devon interjected. “Couldn't they connect you somehow? Find your fingerprints or..."

Jack shook her head. "That building was an old, abandoned factory, scheduled for demolition May next year. Nobody knew it was occupied, and nobody knew I lived there. Well, nobody except that bitch Tiffany, who spilled it to Johnny boy, and who again most certainly told on Vittorio before paying us a visit."

She glanced toward her companion and saw her lowering her head in self-indignation.

"Hey, Devon, don't fret your life." She gently gripped the trembling chin, making Devon look up. "None of this is your fault."

"But, if it weren't--"

"No, Shrimpy. Look, Johnny boy would've found me eventually, with or without you in the picture." Jack graced her with one of her charming lopsided grins. "At least now I have some company. And a cute one, at that."

Devon blushed and smiled back, a little more at ease. Jack chuckled and ate the last of her pizza, then sighed happily at the feeling of her belly being full.

“I'd recommend you to get a nap, Shrimpy, for it's going to be a long night.”


~ Chapter III ~


Murmuring in her sleep, Devon swatted away the annoying thing poking her in the ribs and turned to the other side. Jack laughed lightly and thought of another tactic. So far, she gently shook Devon's shoulder, scratched her crown, blew in her ear and now poked her ribs, yet nothing seemed to be working. Grinning devilishly as a very naughty thought entered her mind, she quickly ran downstairs to the ice machine and grabbed a handful of ice.

Returning into the room, she walked to the bed, leaned over Devon and whispered in her ear. “Nap time's over, Sleeping Beauty.”

Then she slipped her ice-cold hands under the white T-shirt and grabbed Devon's sides. Green eyes popped open and a mighty scream filled the room as Devon bolted out of the bed with an amazing speed.

“What the...” she panted, looking around the room in alarm before she focused on laughing Jack. Her eyes narrowed into slits as she absently rubbed her chilled ribs. “Did anyone ever tell you you're really mean?”

Jack took a deep breath and put her laughter under control. “Did anyone ever tell you you're a very sound sleeper? Nothing I did work on you, so it was either that, or a bucket of ice-cold water in your face. Or...” She grinned devilishly as she stalked closer to Devon. “...a proper good morning, or in this case good evening, kiss. Now that would've roused you for sure. In more ways than one.” She wiggled her eyebrows, delighted at the deep blush coloring Devon's face.

“Yeah, yeah, keep dreaming.” Devon grumbled, trying to bury away the nagging fact that the thought of kissing Jack didn't sound unpleasant. “Uh, give me a minute and I'll be ready to go.” she added, slightly flustered.


* * *


Fifty five minutes later, they were at the bus station.

“Here, hold this, I have to go.” Devon said as she handed her own backpack to Jack.

“'Kay, but hurry back. The bus is leaving in ten.” Jack replied, putting the backpack down next to her feet, and watched Devon jogging to the restroom.

Entering the room, Devon rushed into the first free stall, sighing in relief when she did her business. She washed her hands afterward and with a happy smile stepped outside. The second she rounded the corner, however, the smile dropped off her face. She stopped dead in her tracks as her heart started hammering in her chest.

Quickly hiding behind the wall, she peeked around, only to see one of the two burly men, who conspicuously looked like mobsters, roughly grabbing Jack's upper arm, steering her toward the dark blue sedan with tinted windows, while the other one walked behind her friend, holding his coat-covered hand suspiciously close to Jack's back, probably gripping a gun, Devon concluded with a grimace. He glanced around, obviously looking for her, too.

“Crap.” she cursed under her breath.

Glancing around, she spied her blue-black backpack leaned against the curb. Pulling the hood of her sweatshirt over her head, she hurried toward the bus and quickly snatched the backpack, then rushed toward where several cabs were parked, all the way trying not to lose the sight of the sedan which was just pulling away. Swinging the door open, Devon flopped into the first cab she reached.

“Follow that car!” she ordered, pointing at the dark blue car with her forefinger.

The driver looked back at her via the rear view mirror and shook his head. “Uh, look, lady, I'm on--”

“Just drive!” she growled.

“This ain't a movie, lady, and I...” There was a clicking sound behind his back and he suddenly smiled widely. “...will be happy to oblige.”

Devon sighed and put the gun in her lap, hating herself for scaring the crap out of the man. But Jack was in trouble and she had to find out where the goons were taking her. She was grateful Jack left her SIG in this backpack, for it came in handy right now as the means of persuasion.

Trying not to look like he was tailing the sedan, the cab driver drove three cars behind his target, careful not to lose it from his sight. Ten minutes later, he turned into a side street after the first car and watched as it then turned into an alley to the right. Slowly driving past the alley, both he and Devon could see the car stopping and the right back door opening.

“Okay, stop here.” Devon commanded and stepped outside, pulling the backpack with her and slinging it on her shoulders. Leaning back inside, she sighed. “Look, I know we kinda had a bad start, but, um, could you wait for me here? I have to go grab my friend away from those goons. I'll pay you double for everything, plus extra for me terrorizing you.”

The driver closed his eyes and sighed, battling with himself. He was sure the woman wouldn't really harm him, but had only intended to scare him into helping her. It was also obvious she was in some big trouble, especially if she whipped her gun around so freely.

Finally, he nodded his head positive, although another part of him screamed to get the hell away.

“Okay. But could you, please, not point that thing in my direction?” He smiled weakly and pointed toward the gun Devon was gripping in her right hand.

Devon looked down and scrunched her face. “Sorry, it won't happen again. I'll be right back.” She turned to him one more time. “And thank you.”

With that, she crept to the corner and peeked around. Her heart jumped in her throat when she spotted Jack on the ground on all fours, one man beating the stuffing out of her, while the other one spoke on his cellphone, several feet away from the duo, with his back turned to them.

Devon took a deep breath, clicked the safety off, just as Jack had showed her, and sneaked toward the man who was now kicking defenseless Jack. Two feet away from her target, Devon raised the gun and smacked the back of the unsuspecting man's head with the butt end. In that moment, the other man finished his conversation and turned around in time to see his companion falling unconscious to the ground. He locked his eyes with Devon and quickly reached under his dark coat for his own gun, but Devon was faster in pulling the trigger.

Not having the luxury of time to be in shock over killing a man for the first time, Devon put the gun in the waistband of her pants, then knelt beside Jack, wanting to touch her, but afraid to lay a finger anywhere on her body. Wherever she looked, Jack was all cuts and bruises, covered in blood. Unaware of her falling tears, Devon reached out a trembling hand and caressed Jack's cut and swollen eyebrow, trailing down to a bruised cheek and over a split lip.

“Oh, Jack.” she whimpered and leaned down to kiss her forehead.

Then she stood up and walked over to Jack's head in order to grab her under her armpits. Grunting, she managed to lift Jack into a sitting position, but when she tried to drag her dead weight, she had to give up after only two feet. Gently laying Jack down on the ground, she ran back to the cab, hoping the man kept his word and was waiting for her. Smiling as the cab came into her field of vision, she was about to yell for his assistance, when the driver got out of the car and ran to meet her halfway.

“Jesus, lady! What happened to you?” he asked wide-eyed when he saw the blood on her hands and clothes.

“Later.” she panted, grabbing his hand and dragging him after her. “I need your help.”

Stopping next to Jack, Devon nodded toward her unconscious form. “Help me carry her to the cab. I'd do it myself, but she's too heavy for me.”

“It's okay, I'll carry her myself. You just go ahead and open the cab door.” the driver said and with a grunt scooped Jack in his arms, following nerve wrecked Devon back to the car.

Laying Jack on the back seat of the cab, the driver watched as Devon scurried in from the other side and placed the brunette's head in her lap, stroking her hair and murmuring something under her breath.

Sitting behind the wheel, he asked, “Shouldn't we take her to the hospital?”

“No, no hospitals.” Devon shook her head, quickly thinking of whom she could turn to for help. A small smile appeared on her face as an idea struck her. “Floor it, we're going to Rockfort.”

“Yes, ma'am.” the driver obliged, this time genuinely happy for helping this young woman and her friend she obviously cared a lot about. “I'm Will, by the way.”

“Devon. Nice to meet you.”


* * *


Despite Will's fast driving, it was almost two hours later when they reached the small town of Rockfort. Devon only hoped the mob boss hasn't found out about her older sister who lived here and who was rather estranged from the rest of the Carter family.

Pointing to the house Will was supposed to stop by, Devon was out of the car before he had the chance to properly step on the brakes. She ran toward the front door, buzzing the doorbell until she saw the light coming on.

“Alright, I'm coming!” an annoyed female voice yelled from the inside.

Seconds later, the door flew open, revealing a half-asleep, stocky woman whose dark brows frowned when she recognized the person standing on her doorstep in the wee hour.

“Devon! What are you doing here?”

“Dash.” Devon greeted hastily and grabbed the unsuspecting woman's hand, dragging her toward the waiting cab. “I'll explain later. Come now, we need your help.”

Seeing Devon coming back with the backup, Will stepped out of the car and with the newly acquired helper carried still unconscious Jack inside the house, laying her down on the bed in the guest bedroom. Wishing to the four women all the best, Will said his final goodbye with a promise they'll all meet again.

“So, can you tell me what are you doing here?” Nell asked her sister after she treated the last of Jack's injuries. She stretched her aching back and stood next to her dark haired partner, who immediately started massaging her neck and shoulders. “And who is that,” she pointed to Jack, “and what the hell happened to her?”

Devon sat on the bed beside Jack and looked into the hazel eyes of her sister. “You better sit down, Nell, I have one hell of a story to tell you.”

Half an hour later, finishing her story, minus a few key but gory details, exhausted Devon looked at her wristwatch, what Nell took as her cue.

“Well, we better let you get some sleep, you look like you haven't had any for three days.” she said, getting up and pulling Dash with her.

Devon chuckled. “Trust me, I feel like I haven't had any sleep in that long.”

“Well, then...” Nell kissed her sister's forehead. “If you need anything, we're across the hall. You sure you won't want a room for yourself?” she asked one more time.

“Yeah, I'm sure.” Devon answered, glancing briefly at Jack. “I'll stay here with Jack in case she wakes up and needs anything.”

“Okay. Good night, then.”

“Night.” Devon replied and watched as her sister closed the door, leaving her alone with Jack. “Oh boy.” she huffed and settled down next to the woman who, in a matter of one week, came to mean a great deal to her.

Taking the larger hand in her own, Devon closed her tired eyes, telling herself it was just for a brief moment, but the very next second, she fell asleep.


* * *


Soft whimpering and moaning roused Devon to instant awareness. Berating herself for falling asleep in the first place, she reached for the lamp on the nightstand and turned it on. Cringing in sympathy, she observed Jack's bruised face as the woman slowly climbed toward consciousness. She released a small laugh when one blue eye opened and looked at her, a small smile tugging at the corner of Jack's lips.

“Dev...” Jack croaked, blinking slowly to gain a better focus of her friend. ‘Damn! It's so hard watching in 2D!'

“Hey.” Devon whispered, brushing the bangs off Jack's forehead. “How are you feeling?”

“Like someone... beat me up.”

Devon grimaced, imagining how Jack must be feeling. “It'll be a'right. You're strong, tiger.”

“Tiger?” Jack questioned and tried to laugh, but ended up scrunching her face in pain when her ribs started hurting. “Damn.”

“Can I do something for you?” Devon asked, wishing she could somehow make the pain go away.

Jack smiled weakly and motioned for Devon to come closer. The red head leaned down as Devon put her ear next to Jack's lips.

“You can... kiss it and make it better.”

Devon moved away and dumbstruck regarded her smirking friend before she started laughing. Now she knew for sure Jack will be fine, if her usual advances were any indication. Feeling very cheeky, she grinned impishly and leaned down, making Jack's wish come true.

“How's that?”

Jack still had her good eye closed, her breathing accelerated, as well as her heart rate. “I, uh... I think I'll need lots of these... if I want to recuperate fast and proper.”

Devon chuckled. “Uh huh.” She leaned down again and kissed Jack for the second time. “And how's that?”

“Mm. I feel... much better already.” Jack licked and smacked her lips. “But it still isn't nowhere near enough.”

Pressing her lips against Jack's for the third time, Devon traced her split lower lip with her tongue, earning a soft gasp.

“And now?” Devon asked huskily.

“Uh...” Jack slowly opened her eye and looked at slightly flushed but grinning Devon. She raised one hand to cup her cheek. “Shrimpy, what about... barking up the wrong tree?”

Devon placed her own hand over Jack's and gently squeezed her fingers. “Let's say I'm re-evaluating my points of view.”

“Mm. I like that philosophy.” Jack smiled sweetly. “Can I have... another kiss?”

Devon chuckled and nodded her head, leaning down to give Jack another soft kiss. When they broke apart, Devon touched their foreheads, mindful of Jack's split arcade.

“But there's one thing we have to clear up right away.”

“What's that?”

“I'm not a sharing type of person, so, from now on, other women are off limits. Understood? Or I'll kick your butt harder than the guy who did this to you.”

“Yes, ma'am!” Jack replied readily, inviting Devon to lay back next to her. There was a minute of silence, then she called, “Dev?”


“I told you... you won't be able to resist my charm.”

Devon snorted through her laugh and placed a small kiss on the available skin of Jack's neck. “Yeah, well... But don't you get too cocky on me, I think I have your number, too.”

“That you do.” Jack whispered her agreement.

Sighing in contentment, she closed her eye and put one arm around Devon's shoulder, who instantly snuggled closer. Waiting for sleep to claim her, she thought about how she felt. True, Vittorio's goon beat the bejesus out of her and she felt like the streets of Pamplona after all the bulls and humans stomped on it, but all that ache paled in comparison to what, or better yet whom, she had in her arms.

At first, she was her usual flirting self, teasing Devon any time possible, delighted for making her blush. However, that playfulness very quickly changed into a genuine liking, even, she would dare to admit, a crush. The attraction was there from the very beginning, that wasn't in question. But none of the women she'd been with so far stirred any emotions within her, sans desire. Here, there was so much more to it than that. And she knew it will run much deeper given time.


* * *


“Hey, Dev. Dev, can you, please, move a little? You're crushing my ribs.”

Devon mumbled something in her sleep, but complied, rolling on her other side and facing away from Jack who greedily gulped the air and stroked her tender side.

“Sorry, Shrimpy. Usually, I'd be ecstatic for you using me as your own personal mattress, but this kinda hurts.”

“Can you roll on your side?” Devon slurred, half-asleep.

“I think so, yeah.” Jack nodded and with a grunt rolled on her uninjured side. She draped an arm over Devon's waist and buried her face in the red tresses.

Smiling, she placed a kiss on Devon's nape when the woman took her hand and entwined their fingers, then placed their joined hands between her breasts.

That was the position Nell happened to find them in several hours later when she entered the room to check up on her sister and her friend. Coughing to cover the gasp of surprise, Nell wondered when her younger sister started batting for her team. The last time she saw her, Devon was very much straight, dating that same guy she was with in high school.

‘Maybe we have more in common than I first thought.' She smiled and left the two exhausted women to sleep a couple more hours.

“How are our unexpected guests?” Dash asked her partner when Nell reappeared in the kitchen.

Nell leaned up for a quick kiss before answering, “They're sleeping. But you won't believe in what position.”

“What do you mean?” Dash asked, allowing Nell to taste the green beans stew she was cooking for lunch.

“I might be mistaken, but I think I have a reason to believe Devon just leaped to smell the grass on the other side of the fence.”

Dash quickly looked through the window and frowned when she didn't see her sister-in-law jumping into the neighbor's yard. “Which fence?”

Nell laughed, forgetting Dash sometimes looked upon things quite literally. Unable to resist, she raised on the tips of her toes and kissed her partner lightly on the lips.

“Not that kind of fence. I meant, she's into women, too. I never gave it a thought she might be bi.”

“Oh, that fence.” Dash nodded to herself, then grinned. “Cool. Who's the lucky toaster winner?”

Nell pointed her finger toward the upper floor.

Dash's brows shot up. “That Jack woman?”

Nell nodded. “Yep. Devon doesn't let just anybody to touch her, let alone snuggle with her. As far as I know, after she and Dwayne 'did the deed', she had always come home. She never let him touch her in front of other people, and I don't think she had ever stayed at his place overnight, and he definitely never slept in our house. But Jack up there's wrapped around her like a second skin.”

Dash started to laugh almost hysterically. “Whooo, boy! Your folks are gonna have a stroke when they learn that yet another daughter strayed from the straight path. Pun intended!”

“Dash!” Nell scolded, although she was giggling, too, and smacked her partner's bicep. “Be nice, they're your in-laws.”

Just then the subject of their conversation entered the kitchen.

“Damn it, you two would wake up dead with all that noise.”

Both partners quickly looked toward the door to see a tousled looking Devon dragging her feet lazily toward the coffee maker.

”Ooh, look at what the cat dragged out of bed.” Dash quipped.

“Do tell what's the joke so I can laugh, too.” Devon grumbled as she punched the start button, ignoring Dash's quip. Then she walked to the fridge and pulled out a carton of orange juice.

“Actually, we were just talking about how Graham and Stephanie will have a stroke when they find out yet another daughter turned into a magic carpet muncher.” Dash remarked, grinning from ear to ear.

Nell groaned and smacked her forehead with her palm. She also conveniently forgot her partner didn't beat around the bush and was having a very warped sense of humor.

Devon spluttered the juice she just took a sip of and coughed.

“Excuse me?” she croaked, wiping her chin with the back of her hand.

“What my dear, sensitive wife here...” Nell looked pointedly at her smirking partner, “...tried to say is, welcome to the family.”

“Um, thanks?” Devon blinked at them, not understanding what her sister meant by that.

Dash once again took over the helm. “What Nell here tried to say is, welcome to Melissa Etheridge's fan club.”

Devon's brows frowned in total confusion and she shrugged her shoulders. “Whatever.” she murmured and picked two cups of coffee. “Till later. I have a patient to take care of.”

“She didn't get the hint, huh?” Dash remarked, stirring her stew.

“Nuh uh.”

Returning back to the bedroom, Devon placed both cups on the nightstand, then reached in the closet for extra pillows to place them behind Jack's back to help her get in a sitting position.

“There ya go.” She handed one cup to Jack, then settled on the bed beside her, leaning her head on one strong shoulder.

“Thanks, Shrimpy.” Jack closed her eye and hummed with pleasure when the rich taste of coffee bathed her taste buds.

“Mm. Anyway, I think we should stay here a couple of days, letting you restore your strength before going to Canada.”

“Where's here?”

Devon took a sip of her coffee and gulped it down. “My older sister's house. I don't think Vittorio knows about her, so...”

Jack took a sip of her own coffee before asking, “How can you be sure? I mean, he could barge in any minute now. And… I mean, I know I told you he's not the one going after the family, but you can never know what's going through his head when he's pissed. And I'm sure we pissed him off royally.”

“Well, I can't be sure. At least, not one hundred percent. But he won't find her under my last name, nor will my family willingly acknowledge they're related to Nell.”


Devon gulped the rest of the coffee, put her empty cup on the nightstand and made herself more comfortable against Jack's side.

“Nell's gay. She and Dash were joined in a civil marriage in San Francisco five years ago, and ever since, my parents are trying to forget all about their eldest daughter.”

“Oh.” Jack put her own cup next to Devon's and pulled her closer to her own body, ignoring her protesting ribs. “Well, if she's anything like you, they don't know what they've lost.” She placed a kiss on Devon's temple and closed her eye, searching for the right words to express how she felt. “Dev... I-I know we've... just for a week, but... with me... I...”

Devon chuckled and looked up from where she rested her head on Jack's shoulder. Her left eyebrow cocked on its own. “Are you asking me to stay with you?”

Jack nodded her head.

“As in, together? Like an item? You and I?”

Jack nodded again and focused on the thread she was plucking off the blanket. “I-I know I'm not the best catch a woman could wish for, but I really, really like you.” She lowered her head bashfully and almost whispered, “I-I think I'm falling in love with you. I mean, I know it sounds stupid, we practically don't know anything about one another, and we... but I...”

Devon smiled widely and cupped Jack's cheek, making her to look up. She caressed her cheek with a thumb. “You know what?”

Although she knew it was a rhetorical question, Jack shook her head. “Uh uh.”

“I'm thinking the same thing.”

Jack's good eyebrow shot up. “Y-you do?”

“Yup.” Devon pulled herself upwards a little to lay a gentle kiss upon Jack's lips. “And as much as I love my family, if they can't accept the person in my life I choose to be with, then they'll have another daughter they will be trying to forget. But...” She exhaled and lowered back into her original position beside Jack. “...I don't need to worry about their reaction, do I? They'll never know what happened to me and why I never came back from Bedlam City.”

Jack's face suddenly fell. “I'm truly sorry you'll be separated from your family. If there were any other way...”

Devon backed away slightly and braced her elbow on the headboard before looking down into one blue eye. “Hey. Don't think about it, okay? It's not as if you're kidnapping me or anything.”

Jack sighed. “I know. But I ca-- I... Oh boy.” She exhaled heavily, then without thinking went to rub her black eye with her fist. “YOW! Damn it!”

“Easy.” Devon cooed and took Jack's hand in her own, rubbing the scraped knuckles with her thumb. “Shh, calm down. Everything'll be alright. And don't worry so much. True, I'm saddened by the fact I may not see them again, but I can live without my family.” She took on a faraway look. “Hm, to be honest, I think they're more attached to me than I am to them, especially after the accident. Truth be told, they became clingy, afraid to lose me out of their sight, 'cause another car could hit me when I'm crossing the street, or I might trip and fall, or I could choke on my food, or a plane could crash down right on top of my head...”

Jack chuckled, getting the picture. But she had no doubt Devon would miss them all, despite them being overprotective. She took a deep breath, throwing her head back into the soft pillow.

“Maybe one day, when the old man kick the bucket, we could come back.”

Devon hummed, at the moment content to just lay in this very special woman's arms, and snuggled closer. Jack returned the sentiment in earnest, her hand sliding down from Devon's shoulder toward her belly. Reaching the hem of the shirt, her fingers played with it for a moment, then slipped under, finding the soft skin they were craving for.

Devon inhaled sharply, her muscles contracting in response to the gentle caressing. Jack smiled and nuzzled her neck, her fingers slowly but surely advancing upward. She kissed Devon's neck, just as her hand cupped one soft breast.

“Jack...” Devon moaned. She knew where this was leading, and that she should stop it before it got any farther. Jack certainly wasn't up for something as strenuous as a sexual encounter in her current condition. But after years of abstinence, it felt so good to have her body stimulated by another person.

“It's okay, Dev.” Jack whispered, never ceasing her attack. “Just relax, baby.”

Devon grinned, then hissed when Jack simultaneously sucked on her neck and kneaded her breast. Lost in sensation, she blindly wound her fingers in Jack's hair, guiding her lips to her own. Without a thought, she crushed their lips together, her tongue insisting in getting inside Jack's mouth.

Jack's other hand boldly inched southward, teasing Devon's thighs into spreading open and giving her more playground to explore. She sighed happily into Devon's mouth, thinking she had died and gone to heaven, hearing and feeling Devon's response to her touch. That is, until Devon thrust her tongue deeper into her mouth, forcing her to open them wider. She quickly pulled away and hissed in pain, tasting the blood on her tongue.

“Fuck. My lip's split again.”

Devon blinked, her excitement taking a quick nose dive upon realizing she was the cause of Jack's pain.

“Oh, my God. I'm so sorry, Jack. I should've never let it get this far. God, I'm so stupid. I know you're injured, and I--”

“Shrimpy.” Jack cut her off. “It's okay, really. If it's anyone's fault, it's mine. I should've known better than to start something I couldn't finish.”

Devon smiled at her, reaching out to wipe a small drop of blood off Jack's lower lip. “This will teach us to get carried away. How about we just kiss lightly and cuddle until your body's healed enough for you to put your money where your mouth is, hm?”

Jack snorted and rewarded Devon with a soft kiss. “It's a deal.” She kissed her once more, then invited her to resume their previous positions. “So, how did we end up here? I don't remember anything past that goon's foot connecting with my skull.”

It was a perfectly normal and reasonable question, and anyone in Jack's position would've asked the same thing. But as soon as it left her mouth, she had a feeling the question was anything but ordinary to Devon, because her entire body tensed.


There was no answer, just hard breathing, which was becoming more and more rapid, until Devon sounded like she was running a marathon.

Panicked, Jack shook Devon's shoulder, trying to bring her back to reality from wherever her mind has gone to. “Devon? Dev, can you hear me? C'mon, Shrimpy, you're scaring me.”

When it looked like Devon was on the verge of passing out, Jack called for help, her face scrunching in pain as her ribs protested the abuse. “Help! Is anyone there? I need help here!!!”

Not a heartbeat later, two sets of footsteps could be heard running up the stairs. Nell was the first one to rush into the room.

“What happened?” she asked almost accusatory, seeing her little sister in the throes of panic attack, fighting for her next breath. She turned to her partner. “Dash, bring me my bag.”

Dash nodded and was off, only to return half a minute later, a black leather bag in her hand. She quickly handed it to her wife who then pulled out a small ampule and a syringe.

“Hold her like this.” Nell instructed Jack when she turned Devon on her side and pulled the sweatpants down, revealing Devon's pale rear. Without missing a beat, she administered the shot, smiling a little when her sister tensed, and she couldn't help herself but picture the small redheaded girl, who would put on a brave face every time she saw a needle nearing her skin, even though she was terrified, and the paleness of her face would betray how she truly felt.

It didn't take long for Devon to go limp in Jack's arms, and she hugged her to her body, running her fingers through the red tresses.

“Care to tell me what caused her to have a panic attack?” Nell asked after she settled in a chair next to the bed.

Jack sighed. “I don't know. She was fine just minutes ago. We were... um... talking about stuff over our coffee, and then...”

“And then?”

“I asked her how did we end up here. Then all of a sudden, she sounds like she just ran to Boston and back.”

“Well, I'm only a vet, but I'm guessing something bad must've happened to her and the question triggered her memory.”

“Oh boy.” Jack sighed when a thought crossed her mind.

Nell narrowed her eyes. “What?”

“Did... Did Devon tell you how we escaped my place?”

Nell frowned. “Not exactly. She was a little sketchy on the details. She told me you managed to beat the guy who was after her and you ran away together.”

“Oh.” Jack looked down at the peaceful face and couldn't help but smile a little. Her fingers itched to make a contact, so she let her thumb trail softly across Devon's jaw.

Nell huffed, wanting answers. However, knowing she won't get anywhere by pushing Jack, she let her off the hook for now.

“Okay.” she said as she got up. “Devon should sleep for the rest of the day, and she'll probably be drowsy when she wakes up. If anything happens in the meantime, call for me.”

Jack nodded absently as she settled in bed and hugged Devon closely. Nell watched them for a moment before she silently left the room, Dash right behind her.

“Aww, Shrimpy, I'm so sorry. Should've never taken you in, in the first place. Argh. Me and my weakness for damsels in distress.”


~ Chapter IV ~


Mumbling something incoherent, Devon's first conscious reaction was to pat around the bed when she registered the lack of extra warmth she got used to. Frowning when her hand encountered nothing but cold sheets next to her, she slowly sat up in the bed and moaned when drowsiness almost overwhelmed her. Shaking her head, she cleared some of the cobwebs and looked around the room.


When there was no answer, she slowly got up, wondering why she felt like she just woke up from a drunken stupor.


When continued silence was the only answer, she advanced toward the door, but not before succumbing to a call of yawn and almost stumbling over a dresser's foot in the process. Cursing softly, she reached the door and peeked into the hallway.

“Jack, where are you?”

Hearing soft murmurs downstairs, she slowly advanced toward the voices. Entering the kitchen, she was shocked to see the one person sitting at the table she thought she wouldn't be seeing anytime in the near future.

“Copycat! What are you doing here?” She searched the room for the one person that was still conspicuously missing. “Where's Jack?”

“Devon!” Nell bolted off the chair and quickly reached out for her sister, gently grabbing her by both arms when Devon swayed a little. She led her to the chair she had been occupying just seconds ago. “Here, sit down. Damn, you were so out, I didn't expect you to wake up so suddenly.”

Devon glanced from one face to the other. At last she settled on her sister's. “Guys, what's going on here? Where's Jack? And, not that I mind seeing you again, Copycat, but what are you doing here?”

She sat there quietly for a moment, then Nell's words sunk in. She frowned as she leveled her gaze at her sister. “What do you mean, I was so out?”

Nell traded a quick glance with her wife, pleading for an answer Devon might be pleased with.

Dash shrugged one shoulder. “Don't look at me.”

Nell sighed, running a nervous hand through her hair. “Um, you... Ah, you had a panic attack and I sedated you.”

Devon's eyes bugged out in outrage. “You sedated me?!?”

“Yeah, that was the best thing I could do. I just wasn't...”

Now the green eyes narrowed to almost mere slits. “You just weren't, what?”

“I, ah... Well, it would seem your body doesn't like acepromazine.”

“English, please, sis.” Devon ground out.

“Ah, that's a sedative we vets use...” At the dirty look Devon shot her way, Nell cleared her throat and got to the point. “Anyway, you were asleep much longer than you were supposed to.”

“How much longer?”


“How much longer, Nell?”

Nell cleared her throat again. “Two days.”

“Two days?! I sle-- I slept for two freaking days?!”

“You did wake up yesterday afternoon, but it was only for a couple of minutes. You mumbled something incoherent, then you were out like a light again.”

Devon stared at her open mouthed, then shook her head and covered her face with her hands. Groaning, she rubbed her eyes still somewhat heavy with sleep.

“Fine.” she said at last, accepting, albeit grudgingly, that she had lost two days to a drug induced sleep. “But that still doesn't explain why Jack isn't in bed, where's she supposed to be, bearing in mind her condition. And it certainly doesn't explain why are you here.” She looked pointedly at Copycat.

Nell squirmed where she was leaning against the counter-top. “Yeah, about that...” She reached behind her and retrieved an envelope from a small basket resting in the corner. Taking two steps closer to her sister, she handed her the envelope. “Here.”

Devon looked at the item in her hands this way and that, before turning her eyes to Nell. “What's this?”

“Read it. It's from Jack. She said it'll explain everything.”

Still eying her sister, Devon pulled out a sheet of paper, then devoted it her full attention. She huffed, her anger building up the more she absorbed Jack's scribbled words.

“Copycat, how old is she?” she asked without parting her eyes from the paper.

Copycat was caught off guard by the odd question. “I beg your pardon?”

“Jack. How old is she?”

“Uh...” Copycat looked at the other two women as if they could understand where that particular question had come from. “I-I believe she turned 31 this February.”

“Really?” Devon drawled sarcastically. “Because she sure as hell doesn't act like that. And this...” she waved the paper in her hand, “This just confirms she has the brain of a freaking child.”

Copycat snorted at that. “Kiddo, you should've learned by now Jack is about as mature as a fourteen year old kid who just discovered his older brother's most treasured porn collection.”

Growling, Devon slammed the paper on the table, making everyone jump at her uncharacteristic, physical display of anger. Then she turned her full attention to Copycat. “Now, I don't care what she thinks. What I do care about is finding her and getting some sense through that thick skull of hers. And you're gonna tell me where her little hideout is.”

Copycat smirked. 'Well, I'll be damned. Oh, you better stick to this one, Jack.' Finally, she nodded. “I can do that. Let me just call Rickie and tell her there's been some change of plans.”

Devon nodded. “You do that.” Then she looked at her sister and sighed.

“You okay?” Nell asked her.

“Mmph. I will be when I slap some sense into a certain individual.”

Nell smiled fondly. “You really care about her, don't you?”

Devon quickly ducked her head to hide the blush which assaulted her face. Still, she nodded affirmative. “Yeah, I do.”

“Huh. I have to admit, I've never even considered you might be bisexual.”

Devon shrugged her shoulders. “I never gave it any thought at all. I mean, I admit I always did find women attractive, but I never felt compelled to act upon it, so I simply pushed it out of my mind. Besides, I was already involved with...”

“The jackass.” Nell finished.

This time Devon laughed. “Actually, I'm trying to find the Jackass.”

Nell gave her a puzzled look, then laughed when she connected the epithet with the name.

Devon continued. “Dwayne's just a...”

“An asshole?”

Devon agreed with that description. “Yeah, he's an asshole. Sadly, it took me a hit to the head to realize that. But, better late than never, right?”

“Okay, it's done.” Copycat announced when she finished her call. “Just say the word, Shrimpy, and we'll be on our way.”

Devon shared a brief look with her sister before getting up. “Give me ten minutes to grab my things.”

Copycat smirked. “She doesn't waste any time, does she?”

Nell grinned. “Nope.”


* * *


Watching the scenery passing by with uninterested eyes, Devon sighed, which caught Copycat's attention.

“You okay there?”

Devon turned away from the window, regarding the driver. She sighed again. “I just don't get it. How could she even think...” She sighed yet again. “If we've had just sat down and talked about it, you wouldn't have to be involved in this mess. Doesn't she care that Vittorio might catch the word about you still being around? It's enough...”

“Okay, Shrimpy, lemme tell you a little something about our Jackass here.” Copycat smiled, conveying she didn't use the epithet as an insult. “She may be a real jackass sometimes, and will drive you nuts to the point you'd want to kick her ass so hard it'd finish the trip around the world in 8 days. But I also haven't met another person in this fucked up world who has as gentle and caring a heart as she does. And because of that, sometimes she'll make bad decisions with good intentions at heart. All the more so when it comes to the people she cares about.”

Devon looked away, unable to hide the hurt. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Not knowing what to say to make Devon feel better, Copycat chose silence. Her only hope was Devon could find it in her own heart to forgive Jack for her recklessness.

They drove for several more hours after they crossed the border and entered Canada, the entire time silence their only constant companion. As they rounded the corner of an unfamiliar street in a quiet suburban area, Copycat slowed down and finally pulled over against the curb.

“We're here. Number 76.” she pointed toward the house across the street.

It was a nice looking house, Devon admitted silently. The nicely groomed front yard was enclosed by a white picket fence, a bungalow style house neatly merging with the environment. Thanks to Jack's change of plans, she knew a similar home awaited her, too, about 45 miles away from here.

“You want me to...?”

“Stay in the car, please. I have to talk to her alone first.”

Copycat nodded and smiled. “Knock some sense into her, kid.”

Devon chuckled. “That was the plan.”

With a sigh, she stepped out of the car and just stood there, replaying in her mind what she wanted to say to Jack. A deep breath in, and she took the first step toward the house across the street. She kept taking one step after the other, until she entered the yard and approached the front door. Her finger lingered over the doorbell as her stomach twisted in nervous knots.

“Let's get this over with.” she murmured and pressed the small button. Several seconds later the door opened, revealing very stunned Jack.

“Oh shit.”

“You've changed your phrase.” Devon stated dryly.

“I-I... Devon!” Jack quickly looked left then right and scowled when she spotted Copycat sitting in the car across the street. She even had the audacity to smile and wave at Jack! Jack glared at her for a moment, before returning her attention back to Devon. “What are you doing here?”

“Since you left in such a hurry, without giving me a chance to say a damn thing, I kinda felt obligated to come and explain some things to you. Mind you, if you didn't split like a coward, I wouldn't have to travel all the way to Canada to tell you this. But as you did, here I am.”


“Don't you 'Devon' me! Now, get the fuck inside so we can talk like adults!”

Jack actually took a small step back at Devon's outburst. She never took her as a person who'd use such strong words, no matter how pissed she might be. Stunned, she watched as Devon brushed by her and settled on the sofa. With a sigh and a shake of her head, she closed the door and joined Devon.


“So,” Devon echoed, “I've read your little note.” She slammed the paper on the coffee table, making Jack flinch. “I really can't believe you.”


“Shut up! Shut up and listen to me!” Taking a deep breath, Devon spared a glance in Jack's direction, then observed now rather crumpled note without any real interest. “So, you presumed your cold-blooded killing Johnny made me go all wacky, and out of some misplaced guilt you thought it'd be best if you leave me behind.”

Jack lowered her head and watched the tips of her socked toes as they played in the thick carpet. She didn't know what else could be said, she made certain the note was very clear.

“Mmhmm. Well, if you'd had stuck around, I could've told you it had nothing to do with Johnny or you.” Thinking for a second, Devon realized she was wrong. “No, scratch that. It had something to do with you.” She swallowed hard, the night she had saved Jack replaying in her mind. “The night we had tried to flee and Vittorio's goons had found you... You remember that?”

Jack nodded. “Some. Still have the reminder, though.” She smiled a little, pointing to her yellowish-purple eye, which was operational again, if painful. “Anyway, I remember they pushed me into a car and Carl started to beat me up as soon as we pulled away. Things got a bit blurry after he elbowed me in the temple, and went completely dark after his foot mistook my noggin' for a soccer ball.”

Devon nodded in acknowledgment. “When you asked me how we ended up at my sister's and I lost it... It was not because I remembered Johnny. It was because... because...” She sniffled and quickly wiped away the forming tears. “I killed a man that night, Jack! Jesus, I broke the law on so many levels... I even hijacked a cab and forced the poor man to follow the car you were in. I saw... In that alley, when they pulled up, I saw you kneeling on the ground and the guy beating the crap out of you. I smacked him in the head with your gun, but the other guy... He just finished talking on his cell and turned around. I had no other choice but to pull the trigger or wait for him to shoot me first.”

Jack's head snapped up at that bit of information. “You...?!? You shot Mike?”

Devon nodded, her eyes downcast. So, that was the name of the man she had killed. Mike. Michael?

“Afterward, the only thing on my mind was to get you somewhere safe and take care of your wounds. I repressed it all about the guy... Mike... until you asked. And... Well, you know the rest.”

“Oh, Devon. I'm so very sorry. I-I didn't know.” Jack quickly stood up and scooted next to Devon. Kneeling beside the couch, she took both of Devon's hands in her own, releasing them only briefly so Devon could wipe away some more tears. She focused on the carpet as she murmured, “I screwed up, huh?”

Devon didn't say anything, but her look conveyed the answer. Jack nodded dejectedly and pushed herself up. She headed toward the kitchen, when the doorbell sounded.

“Come in.” she called, knowing it could only be one person.

Copycat poked her head inside and cleared her throat before entering. “Um, sorry for interrupting, guys, but, um... I just got a call from Rickie. Boy, there's no easy way to tell you this... Devon, Vittorio snatched your folks. He said he'll let 'em go if you and Jack give yourselves in.”

Devon was on her feet instantly. “What?! When? H-how? Are... are they alright?”

Copycat shook her head. “Dunno. I do know they're still alive, though. Rickie said he gave you three days. After that... He said... um, I quote here, I hope you're good with jigsaw puzzles.”

Horrified, Devon looked toward Jack, begging her silently.

Jack didn't need any more incentive beyond that look. “Let me pack some things and we'll be on our way.


* * *


As soon as they got off the plane, Jack recognized Vittorio's men. She had no doubt they were there to make sure she and Devon didn't change their minds about visiting their boss.

“We've got company.” she warned, nodding toward the two men who were sticking out in the crowd like a sore thumb.

Noticing the two women, the mobsters quickly approached them.

“Jack.” the stockier one greeted and indicated with his head toward the exit.

“Sonny.” Jack nodded and gently steered Devon in the right direction. Outside, the same sedan in which Jack took the beating was waiting for them.

“Get in.” Sonny ordered as the other man settled behind the wheel.

“So, how's the old man doin' this days?” Jack asked when they were on their way.

Sonny glanced back at her before answering. “Same ol', same ol'.”

Jack grunted and focused on quiet Devon next to her. She smiled reassuringly and squeezed her hand. “We'll get through this.” she whispered.

Devon looked sideways and tried to smile, but wasn't very successful.

It didn't take them long to reach Vittorio's mansion. As they were ushered inside, Devon couldn't help but marvel at the pictures and sculptures decorating the place. The library they were escorted in was no less impressive.

“Wait here.” Sonny ordered and disappeared behind one of the tall bookshelves.

“What's going to happen now?” Devon asked when she and Jack were left alone.

Jack sighed. “Now he'll make his grand entry and blackmail us into coming to work for him.”

As she said that, a small, camouflaged door opened and in rolled a gray man in a wheelchair, a stout, dark haired woman right behind him.

“Jacklynn!” he greeted with a smile. “So nice of you to finally come and visit. Come, let your mother see for herself the boys didn't do much damage. I keep telling her they know better than to do any permanent damage to you.”

Jack growled and stood her ground beside very confused Devon.

“Jack? Is... Is that woman over there your mother?”

“If you ask me if that bitch gave birth to me, then unfortunately I have to say yes. But no, that doesn't make her my mother.”

“Watch your tone, young lady.” Vittorio warned. “I won't tolerate disrespectful behavior in my house!”

“Then we'll be on our way. Bye.” Jack quipped and grasped Devon's hand. However, they didn't make one step, when a very large man stepped in front of the exit, blocking it effectively.

“Now, now, Jacklynn. See, Donna...” Vittorio turned to his wife, “...this is all your fault. If you hadn't lied to me all those years ago, none of this would've happened. That wimp Jack--”

Jack whirled around, pointing an angry finger at him. “Don't you talk about my dad like that! You'll never be half the man that he was!”

Vittorio sighed in exasperation. “How long will it take for you to accept the fact that Jack was not your father?”

Devon kept glancing between Jack and Vittorio. “What is he talking about, Jack?”

Vittorio laughed at Devon's confusion. “Oh, Jacklynn. You didn't share your family history with your girlfriend? Tsk tsk. But the truth is the best foundation for a stable relationship.”

“Cut to the chase!” Jack snapped, changing the subject. “What do you want?”

Vittorio chuckled. “So impatient. Just like me when I was your age.”

Jack growled, and he finally grew serious, realizing he'd better stop taunting before Jack did something they will both regret.

“Fine. Well, you know what I want from you. Nothing has changed. Swear your allegiance to me and take over the family business. Do that, and...”


“I'll cut your girlfriend loose. I'll even throw in a small bonus and let your in-laws go, as well. Unharmed.”

Jack was clenching her teeth so hard she could almost feel them cracking from all the friction. The bastard had her and he knew it. His smug grin grew wider the longer he held her stare.

“Fine.” she ground out at last.

“What?! Jack, what the hell are you doing?” Devon shrieked when Jack walked over to Vittorio and knelt on one knee in front of him.

“On this day, I, Jacklynn Danielle Di Franco, solemnly pledge my loyalty to the House Moretti, may God be my witness.”

With a kiss to Vittorio's ring, Jack's oath was sealed.

The man beamed at the easy victory. He glanced toward shocked Devon and wished she'd met Jack sooner. It would save both him and Jack a lot of trouble.

Briskly, Jack got up. “So?”

Vittorio returned his attention back to his daughter. She needn't to say more for him to understand what she was asking.

“I'd never break my word to you, Jacklynn. They're free to go, as we agreed. You can see to it personally, if it'll make you feel better. I believe you know where they're being held? Oh, and Jacklynn? Accommodate your girlfriend, but I expect you to be present at this evening's meeting.”

Jack nodded and turned on her heel, snatching Devon's hand along the way. She walked right in front of the Mountain-man, glaring at him. He swallowed, cast a brief glance toward Vittorio, and then dutifully stepped aside with his head bowed. Liked it or not, Jack was now officially Vittorio's second-in-command. When she was gone, he inched closer to his employer.

“Boss, this mean we can't beat her no more?”

Vittorio looked up at his bodyguard. The man was loyal as much as he was dumb. Then his eyes turned to the door where Jack had disappeared, and he chuckled. “It would be kind of counterproductive if you were to beat your boss, Manny, don't you think?”

Leading Devon through the mansion toward the wing better known as The Dungeon, and where Devon's family has been held, Jack hadn't uttered a single word, despite the barrage of questions Devon attacked her with.

Finally having had enough, Devon halted and yanked her hand free, glaring at Jack. “You mind telling me what the hell was all that back there?”

Jack glared right back. “Which part is confusing to you? The one where I just sold my soul to the devil? Or the one whom I sold it for?”

Devon took a step back as if struck. “You did it for... for me?”

Jack looked heavenward and sighed deeply. “Whom else for?”

Scowling, Devon stepped closer and poked Jack in the chest. “I never told you to do that! I didn't expect you--”

“He would've killed them, Dev.” Jack cut her off. “And you'd end up... So I offered him something he deems more valuable.”

Devon sighed, nodding in understanding. “You.”

“No.” Jack shook her head. “Not me. My loyalty. He knows I despise him, but I'm sworn to him now.”

“Can't you just... unsworn?”

Jack chuckled, even though the situation she was in was far from funny. “You don't understand, Dev. I'm... officially part of the “family” now. And not just that. I'm his right hand. His heir. I can't fuck around anymore. If I betray him now, he'll kill me, his blood or not.”

Devon looked at her intently. “So, he's your real father?”

Jack lowered her head, ashamed of the fact. “Yeah.”

“And what about... Jack?”

Jack took a deep breath and motioned for Devon to follow her while she explained the soap opera that was her family. “Jack Di Franco was a dashing young man, born and raised to lay down his life for House Moretti, if needed, when he met... my... mother . They fell in love and married not long after. However, Donatella, being so beautiful and all, caught Vittorio's eye. And what Vittorio wants, Vittorio gets. She cheated on dad with that bastard and made me in the process. Dad never suspected I wasn't his kid, and I believed he was my dad. The truth didn't come out until he died.”

“How did you find out?”

“When he got into that car accident, he was still alive when they pulled him out and rushed him to the hospital. But he had lost a lot of blood. I volunteered. Turned out we weren't compatible. He was O positive. Donna's B negative. I'm A positive. Do your math. Anyway, I confronted Donna, and she confessed whose sperm ended up cozily taking a permanent residence in one of her eggs, eventually resulting in yours truly.”

“I'm guessing Vittorio had no idea, either?”

“Nope. She kept us all in the dark. But then my dad finally found out his lovely wife was cheating on him for the past 22 years, so he got drunk and got himself killed. And destroyed this idyllic illusion of Donna's.”

Stopping beside the solitary-like door, Jack took a deep breath before ordering the man on guard duty to open it. Stepping aside, she motioned for Devon to enter first. Glancing at Jack, Devon took a cautious step inside, then gasped when she saw her family huddled together in one corner.

“Devon!” Graham gasped when he spotted his daughter standing next to a tall woman. He rushed toward her, crushing her to his chest. “Are... Are you okay?” he asked as he stepped away to observe her for any obvious signs of mistreatment. He sighed in relief when he found none.

“I'm fine, dad. We-- Jack and I, that is, came to get you out. You're free to go. All of you.”

Graham turned around to regard the rest of her family, before he focused on Devon again. “Devon, what's this all about? Have you--” He leaned closer and consciously lowered his voice. “Are you... in debt with these... people? Have you any... gambling problems?”

Devon couldn't help but laugh at her father's first presumption. She glanced sideways at Jack, who shrugged her shoulders and offered a small smile. Devon smiled back, unconsciously leaning closer to her. Without any thought, Jack supported her weight, her arm encircling Devon's waist.

“No, dad, I... I don't owe any money to anyone.”

Jack chose that very moment to clear her throat rather loudly.

Devon snorted, poking her in the ribs. “Fine, you skinflint. I'll pay you back.”

Jack waved her off. “Nah, you were worth every cent.” She was quiet for a moment, then suddenly blurted, “Stay with me.”

Devon gasped, caught off guard by the softly uttered request. “What?”

As soon as the words slipped off her tongue, Jack realized what she was asking of Devon. She shook her head, her expression hardening. “Never mind. Get your family and get outta here.”


“I said forget it, Dev.”

Not wanting to waste any more time in this unholy place, Graham quickly gathered his family. Stepping in front of Devon, definitely not liking the way she was staring at Jack, he put an arm around her shoulders and steered her out of the room. “C'mon, Devie, let's go home.”

Reluctantly, Devon complied to her father, glancing at Jack over her shoulder.

“Goodbye.” she whispered sadly when Jack simply hung her head.


~ Chapter V ~


Eight months later


“Just a minute!” Devon replied to the sound of her doorbell buzzing. Making sure the food she was cooking wouldn't explode, implode or find any other way to become an inedible mess, she quickly wiped her hands in the dishtowel thrown over her shoulder. She started for the door, not bothering to ask who it was, for there was only one person she was ever expecting to see.

“It was about damn time, Cat. One would think you've traveled all the way from the US--” Her words got stuck in her throat at the sight of the person standing on her porch.

“I did come from the USA, in fact. Hello, Shrimpy.”

Devon blinked, not believing her eyes. “Jack? What are you doing here?” she asked, having a strong feeling of déjà vu, only with their roles reversed. She even spied Copycat sitting in the car parked across the street, grinning widely and waving in greeting. She waved back absently.

Jack smiled, reflexively looking behind her when Devon waved, and returned the wink she received from Copycat. Turning back to Devon, she cleared her throat nervously. “Can I come in?”

Devon shook her head to get rid of the cobwebs. “Um... ah, sure. C-come in.” she stammered, letting Jack step inside.

“I like what you've done with the place.” Jack commented, observing the living room she was invited to sit in. The entire place looked completely different from when she called this house a home, for that brief period of time, when she and Devon split the first time. “I have to admit, I was a little surprised when Cat told me you moved to Canada. I thought you'd stay with your folks.”

“So, she's the one who ratted me out, huh?” Devon smiled to show she wasn't really angry. “Should've guessed you two would stay in touch.”

“Don't be mad at her, Shrimpy. She just thought I'd like to know how were you doing and stuff.” There was a slight pause before she quietly added, “And she was right. I... I've been thinking about you this whole time. I still care about you, Devon.”

Devon sighed and plopped down into an armchair opposite Jack. “Then why did you push me away? Why didn't you ask me to stay with you? I would've, you know?”

Jack nodded. “I know. That's why I changed my mind. I couldn't ask that of you. I realized it'd be really selfish of me. You'd end up in the same deep shit right next to me.”

Her anger rising, Devon sprung to her feet and started pacing to and fro. “But I was willing to be right next to you! After all you've done for me and my family... And I... I mean, I... When we...”

Jack smiled, got up and put a stop to Devon's pacing. Closing her eyes, she hugged her, basking in their closeness. “I know, Devon, I know.” She took a deep breath and placed a gentle kiss on Devon's forehead. “I love you, too.”

Hearing the words, Devon pushed away from Jack, regarding her with open surprise, fear and hope. “Do you really mean it?”

Jack smiled reassuringly, pulling Devon back within the circle of her arms. “I really mean it, Shrimpy. I love you, and I want to be with you. And I promise you, no more running. Not from you, not from anyone.”

“What about Vittorio?”

Jack cringed at the mention of her biological father. “He's... Ahem, he's in jail. As is Donna.”

“What??? How did that happen?”

Sighing, Jack disentangled herself from the arms holding her and settled her weary body on the sofa. “The very next day after you and your family left, I approached both DEA and FBI and offered them a deal they couldn't refuse; I'll bring them all the evidence they needed to remove one big and painful thorn in their sides poking them for decades, if they let me walk away.”

“And they agreed?”

Jack grinned, her arms spread wide open. “And they agreed.”

Devon whooped with joy and jumped onto Jack's lap, straddling her hips. Realizing what she had done in her display of joy, she quickly apologized and tried to get up, only to be pulled back by strong hands gripping her waist.

“Please, don't go, Dev.” Jack whispered, searching the green eyes for permission to do what she wanted, needed to do the second Devon opened the door.

Devon smiled in answer and leaned down, bringing their foreheads together. “So, this is it? No more mobsters, dead bodies, running away? Just you and I?”

Jack nodded. “Just you and I.” She paused for a moment, then added, “And Copycat spying on us.”

Devon snorted, before letting herself drown in the blue depths that had nothing to do with the ocean. “Would you, please, kiss me now?”

Jack grinned. “I thought you'd never ask.”


The End


Copywright, Sam K. Pagan

April 25, 2018


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