Quit Playing Games

Chapter 85

As he had promised, Jay didn't ask her any questions. He just helped her step gingerly into the SUV; working to avoid jarring her bandaged shoulder, and then hopped into the driver's side and started the vehicle up. Didn't say a single thing the whole drive to Nick's house. Not a word. Not a peep.

She really wished he would shut up.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out he had, in fact, lots of questions he wanted to ask. But she also knew that most of them were questions he was asking of himself. Whose side should he be on in this? Protect the Boys or protect Nick? Would trying to convince her to stay be protecting Nick or just being nice to him? Would it help the Boys or impede their healing? How the hell were they supposed to heal anyway?

Question. Without answers. Because, really, what could the answers be? How WERE the Boys supposed to heal? One of their own had been doing stuff that hurt them all

The whole situation was totally fucked up. And everyone involved was fucked up because of it.

Oh yeah. Life sucked.

Kat leaned back in her seat, taking a deep breath and then wincing as she accidentally bumped her arm against the door. Popping her shoulder back into its socket may have elevated any major problems for her, but it still hurt like a sonofabitch. What must Nick be feeling? He'd always been an active person and there he was stuck in a bed for the next few months. He must be feeling trapped. Scared. Maybe she should go back and…


Her mother used to say that she always ran away from her problems. Of course, her mother used to say a lot of stuff, most of it totally freaking creepy. So what was she supposed to believe? If you asked her mother she was a slut who was sleeping with her father. Not true (and still as icky a thought as it was the first time she heard it). Did that mean that because her mother said stuff that was patently wrong that she had to - ergo - wrong about that? I mean, she had displayed a propensity for it. Ran away from a screwed up home to go to university. Though that technically was not running away, it was going away to school. And she came back when she was needed. Took her years to actually graduate. So she hadn't run away.

Though an argument could be made for her running away after the fire and all. One minute, small town girl with a big-city dream, the next a big-city girl with nothing but nightmares.

And she had hightailed it pretty fast after Howie'd made his proposition and all.

Still, she had stayed and duked it out with David and Parker. Kicked his ass but good. Of course that only brought Nick back into her life, but while she'd tried to extricate herself she'd never actually run for the hills when he laid out his 'master plan.'

And its not like she couldn't have slunk off in the night back when she was undergoing her remarkable transformation. Or hightailed it when things got, well, complicated would be the best way to describe it. She'd stuck it out. For as long as she could.

She'd only been leaving 'cos of the whole falling in love and not being about to be real stuff. And that had taken a while to develop.

Therefore she wasn't someone who ran away from her problems. Okay, so maybe she fought things out until they were totally untenable and when that didn't work she finally took an easier way out. But people who 'ran away' from problems would have taken the easy route the first time it presented itself, wouldn't they?

She wasn't running away. She was accepting that, at this point, there was nothing more she could do to help the others and that that, for now, she needed to spend sometime to herself to recover. Physically and mentally. And maybe even romantically.

That was what she was doing. It was all perfectly logical and acceptable. No running away here.

Why did it feel like it?

Jay cleared his throat quietly and Kat looked up, realizing that they were just pulling into the airport.

"What flight?"

I suppose, technically, if you were going to the airport you were going so you could catch a flight. Or meet one. Which wasn't the case here. She was going to get on a plane. That was what she was here for. To get on a plane.

Of course she hadn't figured out where she was going yet, so that made plane hopping a little difficult.

"I don't know," she replied truthfully. "And before you ask, I don't know which airline either. Unexpected departure and all, you know?"

Jay looked like he was about to disagree with her. After all, when they'd gotten to Nick's house he had clearly expected her to take some time packing her things rather than her just pointing to the dining room and telling him the bags were right there. But there was a difference before preparing to leave and actually leaving, and Jay seemed to get that after a second. So he just said he'd park and they could take it from there.

A plan! Gotta have a plan…

After the success of his plan (they found a great parking spot right near the elevators), it was time to put her plan into operation. Her plan, thus far, consisted of standing in front of the big board in the middle of the airport concourse and deciding which of the outgoing planes to get on. Nothing too soon or she wouldn't get on in time, and nothing too late or she'd end up dropping this idea and heading back to the hospital.

Jay stood silently, but solidly, behind her as she scanned the boards and then followed along as she headed over to the airline counter and purchased a ticket to Chicago.

"Your final destination?" he finally asked.

"I don't know," she shrugged. "It's as good a place as anywhere, I guess. The other option was St. Louis and I just wasn't feeling that." He chuckled. "Anyway, it's a big place. I can either hop out there or take another plane somewhere else. I have no where I have to be."

"Except maybe back at the hospital."

"So much for not saying anything, hunh?" She smiled sadly. "You held out longer than I thought you would."

"Not really sure what to say. I mean, giving them time makes sense. So does being there while Nick recovers. And like you said, you don't have anywhere to go. So why go?"

"I guess I know a little thing or two about being stuck in the middle," she replied, thinking once again about her family. Being in the hospital had brought back her nightmares, only this time it was a car crash that started the inferno that destroyed her parents' bodies. Nothing like two nightmares coming together in one. She shuddered and then turned back to Jay. "They're all gonna go through an "I hate her" period. Even Nick. And frankly, I'd rather not be around for that, thanks. Let 'em go through it on their own, go through their anger and recriminations, get to the healing part. Maybe then, if they want me around I can come back."

"Sounds like you don't expect that to happen."

"Honestly? I have no clue. This whole thing…" She sighed. "'Best laid plans of mice and Nick,'" she mused.

"Aft gang aglay," he murmured, then grinned evilly as her startled reaction to his knowing the Robbie Burns poem she'd been paraphrasing.

Kat blushed and shrugged. "This whole thing just… it all went sideways, you know? I mean I expected people to get a little hurt when Nick finally confronted Howie, but a car crash? Like that? Hell no! And I sure didn't expect to have to have a grand exposition scene. Like something out of an Agatha Christie mystery, you know? It was all supposed to be Howie pulls his stunt, Nick pulls his, we all go away happy and none of the others have to know. Sure didn't happen that way."

"And how," Jay muttered as he directed her to a row of seats near the gate.

"See? You couldn't have called it either." She sat down and started to rub her shoulder without thinking. "Whole thing was out of control. Howie called it a 'little game." So did Nick. Not one I'd ever want to compete in again, thanks very much."

"Yeah." Jay was silent for a moment. "You got my cell number, right? In case you need anything?"

"Yeah, I do thanks. Mind if I check in on things with you from time to time? It'll be screwy if I call Nick and I am just not up for the drama right now. I call you, you tell me they are all okay - that I can handle."

"'Ain't no mess, like a Backstreet mess'," Jay hummed in a deep bass voice, grinning wickedly at her.

Kat laughed. "Man, you have GOT to get away from them from time to time. Starting to sound like 'em, big time."

"It's a living."

She rolled her eyes and then looked over at the security line. "The line's starting to die down a little. I better head through while the getting's good."

He nodded, grabbing her carry-on and walked her over. He handed her the bag once they came to the front of the line, then quickly gave her a tight hug. "You call. Not just to check on them, but to let me know you're okay. Okay?"

She nodded, too choked up to speak. She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She could have sworn he blushed, but the attendant beside her snidely told her to hurry up so she didn't have a chance to really check. Once she was through she glanced back, seeing him in the process of answering his cell, and continued walking over to the monorail doors.

Suddenly, one of the policemen nearby went into an alert stance, clicking his rifle against his wedding ring, then started running towards the exit. All heads turned as several other officers ran by and loud shouting could be heard.

Kat noticed all this, but was standing in a bit of fog, and didn't come aware until she heard her name being yelled loudly, over all the other shouts. Glancing over she saw one officer pointing his gun, in a challenging position, while two other men tried to wrestle Jay back. She dropped her bag and ran over.

"Miss, you have to step back," the gun-toting man growled.

"But I know him. It's me he's calling."

The men raised his gun, pointing it at Jay's head. "Okay, Mister. Is this the person you want to talk to?"

Jay nodded, and Kat could see tears running down his face. The officer told his counterparts to step back, though he still held his gun fixed at Jay. "I'm gonna let you talk to her. Just right here. No sudden movements, you got it?" He didn't even turn to take his eyes off of Jay. "Miss, you can talk to him but if you go over that line there you have to go through Security again. And frankly, whatever he's gotta say better be important 'cause no matter what I'm arresting his ass."


He held out his cellphone, glancing quickly at the officer. "It's Nick. You have to talk to him."

"Jay, come on. I told you. No more of this. I need a break and they need to heal. I can't…"

"Talk to Nick. Talk to him now," he demanded.


"Howie's dead, Kat. Talk to Nick."

Chapter 86