Why So Jaded?

Chapter 16

"So guess what my idiot brother did today, or rather- is going to do." Violet prodded Barret as she happily took a glass of wine from his hand as she dug into the little charcuterie board he had made and took a bite before hopping up onto the stool beside him in his kitchen after their "shifts" for the evening after she dropped an overnight bag off on his couch on her way to his kitchen while Barret's offering for dinner was finishing off in the oven.

"What?" Barret asked with a laugh at the sarcastically pleased tone Violet was using as she took a sip of one of her favorite wines.

"So, you know how there's this club called Lotus that's like five blocks away, like it's right over...there." She said as she looked out of the windows on his apartment and pointed to the skyscraper in question, it was a hotel with several restaurants and bars and had a nightclub at the top on the roof.

"Yeah." Barret nodded as his gaze followed her direction before he nodded.

"I don't know if you've ever been there but it's a rave, party, dance place with like a dozen VIP rooms that caters to the rich and famous and upwardly mobile of Metroville and beyond right? Well, Phillip is a co-owner, he was an investor and his name is on the lease of the building and that place makes him a decent amount every year and the restaurants there are actually really good too, but that's besides the point, so anyway, remember how my brother was supposed to come to Scene It with us like two weeks ago but never came? Well that's because Phillip and Dash went out clubbing there instead, they went then and they went last weekend to celebrate the relaunch of White Lightning under SEB-SI and they're back there now, as we speak. Well one of Phillip's "toys" Vivian, who is actually a friend of mine, she's an exotic dancer there. She is one of those women who is so insanely hot and beautiful that she's used to making everyone around her reconsider their sexuality if only to explain why they're attracted to her- kind of hot and so since Phillip is used to having the best and she is one of the best at what she specializes in so, Phillip is one of her sugar daddies and Phillip likes to think he owns her. Not that he's her pimp but in the sense that Phillip pays for the vast majority of her lifestyle, her apartment, her wardrobe, pays for her shopping trips and vacations and pays her to basically fuck him and his friends on command, his friend's money supplements her income along with the club which takes care of her taxes for her and insurances and she's as smart as she is beautiful and I've helped her squirrel away all kinds of money just in case any minute Phillip dismisses her from his service." Violet explained.

"How many little "toys" does Phillip have?" Barret asked curiously.

"Including me? Like a dozen and a half." Violet answered with a dismissive wave.

"Now that being said, Viv is a great girl, she's really fun and we're great friends and we're in the same dance class and we hang out when we're not working and I don't want Dash to ruin that damn it, but I digress." Violet continued to rant as Barret simply sat and nibbled on the charcuterie board with her and listened attentively before Violet pulled up the most recent picture she had of them together just the other day when they went out for brunch as Barret looked at the picture and just shrugged, sure Vivian was pretty but he still preferred Violet.

"Anyway, Dash really wants to date her just like everyone else who looks at her does. So I did the sensible thing and tried to warn him that she's not really available to be his girlfriend and then I warned her going 'hey my brother really likes you, do him a favor and tell him to take a hike because you deserve better that a shallow, cheating, two timing, narcissistic asshole who can't even cook for himself or take care of himself properly and you know the dangers just like I do if it goes south,' kind of thing and what did both of them do? Ignore me. Vivian basically made the point that Dash is not all that different from Phillip from her perspective but going out for little while couldn't hurt even though she could literally have any guy she wants, even though she is already wrapped around Phillip's little finger but because Phillip is currently dating Cheseray for like, a month now, which is one of the longest times he dates people. So, my brother is going to be asking her out tonight, in front of Phillip, while she's working and probably going to be giving him a lap dance. Like I can not begin to tell you how not cool it is to ask a woman out while she's working, especially in that industry, especially in any job where she's working with the public, just..no, very un-classy. But since when has Dash ever had any class?" Violet ranted as Barret just sat there and grinned and let her get it all out.

"And I'm willing to bet a hundred bucks, Viv is going to look to Phillip for permission to say yes or the direction to say no when he does too." Violet predicted as she took her adult's version of a lunchable sandwich of a cracker topped with prosciutto and gouda and bit into it.

"He just...has no sense does he?" Barret asked which got her to giggle.

"No, but then again, I don't think you have any room to talk Mr. Steal- A- Nano- Chip- From- Phillip's- Office in your attempt to try corporate espionage." Violet teased as Barret made a face which made Violet laugh even harder.

"Ok, maybe you have a point." Barret admitted lowly.

"But it did bring me here and got me closer to you so I can't complain too much, could be worse." Barret allowed.

"It could be, you could be in max security prison in the showers getting…" Violet began to say over her half full mouth of food before Barret silenced her with a kiss.

"Shh, don't...don't go there, no." Barret shushed her with a shudder which got her to grin in triumph as she hurried up and finished chewing on her bite and washed down what remained with her wine before she picked up where he left off and kissed him and just as their kiss deepened, the oven beeped, telling them the contents were done.

"You should get dinner out of the oven." Violet tried to tell Barret between kisses.

"It can wait however long it needs to." Barret murmured back as he readily reached up and reverently held her face in his hands so she wouldn't pull away before moving his mouth down from her mouth to her jaw then to her neck and to feel all tension leave her as her hands stroked up his arms to his shirt to pull him towards herself as he readily slipped off the high barstool so he could stand between her open legs as the kiss morphed from sweet to sensual to passionate and all Violet needed to do was move her hand to his shirt to grab it and pull it up his torso and untuck it from his pants and that was all that was needed before he attempted to pull at her own clothes and when Violet gave that hum of agreement and consent before he readily undressed her as she did the same right there at the breakfast bar.

"You sure dinner won't burn?" Violet asked.

"Nope, I learned my lesson last time, I set the oven timer, when it goes off, it shuts the oven off." Barret reassured her as he grabbed her hips to scooch her forward so that her whole torso pressed up against him and when she readily wrapped her legs around his torso he went ahead and grabbed her up and carried her off to the bedroom where more and more things of hers had started to accumulate here, all within the confines of a few dresser drawers so that at least when the cameras turned on, there was no evidence of her presence in his space. But with Phil literally "babysitting" Dash, that freed her up to do as she pleased while the two egomaniacs had their hands full with each other.

What she really loved is how she could tell Barret had just washed his bedding as he set her down gently on top of the bed, it smelled amazing, he had even ordered new bedding since he came to more reflect his own personal style along with other decorations for his space. Which Leslie had done most of the decorating for the space, hell Leslie had helped Violet decorate her own apartment, but Barret's own tastes differed slightly and Violet happily got his own hand me downs to help decorate one of her safehouses which she knew Phillip might compromise if push comes to shove while taking notes about what Barret actually liked and noticed he gravitated towards blues, greens and grays with stark whites instead of the pure black, white and red of his old aesthetic. Violet liked to keep her own private space a beautiful blend of taupes, creams and soft purples and violets and greens which Barret had taken keen notes of whenever he got to visit her own private space. Barret had even started to design the perfect dream house for them on his off time, hiding it in plain sight under Project Ellie, he knew it was foolish to do so, but between Violet and this, it made the confinement bearable because he still had an endgame to achieve. Plus he always did better when he had long term goals, it helped fill in the gaps of how he was going to get from A to B and helped him realize what steps he needed to take and what processes he needed to start and in what order in order to accomplish the big picture.

And for Barret- the big picture was Violet, and making her happy and taking care of her and how he was going to do it- was take all of these little moments and prove to her that his feelings for her were genuine. He didn't need to say 'I love you' he just needed to show it in ways that Violet would understand and appreciate and hopefully like, and right now that meant kissing her so well that he could hopefully make her forget her troubles and worries and fears and help her feel comfortable, and wanted, desired and treasured and while he knew she had had a lot of sex, he wanted to make love to her and have the act have meaning and it didn't have to be the best sex of her life, but he wanted it to be good enough that she would be happy and content with it, for hopefully the rest of her life because he was already there himself.

When their relationship progressed to finally involve this kind of intimacy, Barret made sure that Violet understood that all he wanted was the real, genuine her. Not an act, not what she thought he wanted to hear or see, no manipulations, no working, whenever they were in his personal space or hers and "off the clock", which is what Violet loved the most. She didn't have to pretend to be someone else, or figure out his dream girl and be that for him like she did with Phillip. She could just be her whole self, not hiding anything or show anything she wasn't comfortable with showing either and not catering to him and be accepted as she was and what Violet found was that Barret was very self sufficient, particular about some things, like he liked to keep his work space and his home space clean and organized, he liked to keep timers so he didn't forget that he had clothes in the washer or dishes in the dishwasher.

He explained that it came from a life of being an only child, with only a single mom who worked two jobs to take care of him and him having to do most of the domestic chores to try to help his mom, and that's when the inventions started, wanting to invent shortcuts and ways to help so that he got to spend more time with his mom since her time to spend with him were moments few and far between and how she never really took days off from work, she couldn't afford to. His dad had been an electrical engineer for some kind of company and had died on the job and thankfully had had life insurance and while the money helped for a while, it left Barret alone in his father's office a lot while his mom was working and when he wasn't in school. Staring at all these schematics and trying to figure them out and once he did, once it all clicked into place in his mind and once he understood what he was looking at. He at first wanted to pick up where his dad left off. Then it was a matter of improving things, reinventing things, reimagining things and that's when the inventions really started to come along and came naturally to him. So his own self sufficiency and common sense was out of necessity.

For Violet it was easy for her to understand why Barret reached out so strongly and fiercely to her father because he was the ideal father figure. But at the same time, Barret could see that that attachment was extreme, unbalanced and unhealthy and downright obsessive, dangerously so and his circumstances were no justification for it, which Violet was very happy and relieved that Barret had learned and accepted that.

And it was because Barret bared his soul without expecting Violet to do the same that she opened up to him. While she didn't tell him everything because she didn't want to tell him anything that would either compromise his safety or her own, she did give him little bits and pieces, where she had gone, what "jobs" she had done. Which skills she learned where and from who. How it was Tali who got her into ballet, not to be a dancer on the stage- but to gain the grace, finesse, strength, stamina, flexibility and mental and physical control of her body which would extend into controlling her powers. It was Ziva who taught her multitasking and delegate and prioritize and both of them taught her how to be as devastating as she was beautiful in all respects while both of them had also taught her how to manage and structure her money well, but it was Violet who had taught herself the vast majority of the art of hiding in plain sight and to blend in with any crowd and how to be underestimated on purpose, or simply how to terrify everyone around you so that no one ever would.

But right now, the past seemed to be so far away, her job, her obligations, her complications, everything seemed so far away when she was in this perfect bubble of safety that Barret built with her, all that mattered was them, like the rest of the world could fall away and it's just the two of them and that's ok and she was surprised how even the thought of Barret chased away every feeling of loneliness. And what Violet really appreciated was how Barret seemed to communicate so much without having to say much of anything and noticed she was doing the same. Little simple things that somehow added up to being more than just what they were at face value. How even though it was Barret who was the one confined, he still did so much for her because he was thoughtful enough and wanted to. He was putting in work and effort and actually courting her despite his own limitations and challenges and Violet for one was happy that Barret didn't have to rely on fancy restaurants or expensive dates or gimmicks or tricks. Just dinner that he was fully capable of making, which she felt he was showing off most of his culinary skills which she didn't mind one bit, a nice wine and company and nights spent in, that's all she really wanted, no exposure, no other people, just them. Of course that wasn't to say that Barret didn't send her flowers. Or gifts, either at her home or at her office, his favorite kinds of gifts were self care items or gadgets or tools for her work to make her own work and life easier.

She actually preferred it when he sent flowers though to her office. Because that way it was "proof" for Phillip that things were going well while also using the language of flowers to deliver "secret messages". And it made it easier for Cheseray to not think that Violet was a threat to her relationship with Phillip if Violet clearly had a "boyfriend" who sent her flowers regularly.

But that also meant that Phillip had to send Cheseray flowers, "bigger and better" arrangements then the ones Barret sent to Violet because he was after all, competitive. But that wasn't to say that Violet didn't put a show of being "jealous" of the flowers Phillip got for Cheseray. But they were just a show, they didn't mean shit and that's what made all the difference in the world to her. Because the flowers that Barret sent her meant something. And were special.

"So I have an idea." Violet prodded as Barret settled over her and continued to make love to her.

"I'm all ears." Barret answered between kisses and gentle sucks of her neck and shoulder as his hips stroked into hers deliciously.

"Phillip and Cheseray will be going away on a trip to...somewhere tropical, I forget exactly where, Veronica is handling it, that means that you and I can, in theory get away too, not anywhere close to where they're going, but, we could go to say...Scotland? Try some whiskies? Stay in a castle?" Violet offered hopefully.

"Oh hell yeah." Barret readily agreed.

"Sweet, we can like make a week of it and stay in Ireland and England, I actually have a safehouse there that I need to check up on too." Violet disclosed.

"So would this be a vacation for us or would you be working?" Barret paused to ask.

"Well if we were to leave this space, I couldn't help but work just a little if only to stay safe and see if we get followed, and if we end up getting followed, then yeah, I wouldn't be able to check up on my safe house unless we would shake them." She reasoned.

"So is it a test to see how far the leash goes then?" Barret surmised.

"Kind of? But I just really want to prove to myself that I can get the both of us out of here and get away somewhere, anywhere we want to go." Violet explained.

"Ok, yeah, lets do it." Barret agreed.

"Great," Violet grinned as she pulled him down to kiss him again.

A week later Violet happily came into his apartment, already seeing his bag by the door as Barret was making sure everything was ready for him to be making the trip, making sure nothing would rot in his refrigerator or anything as he was quickly tossing everything that could potentially spoil in his fridge away.

"Ready?" Violet asked.

"Yup. Just need to throw this out on our way out." Barret answered as he carried the trashbag with him as Violet got his actual luggage as he threw his trash out in the proper dumpster on the floor that would be removed the following day before they made their way to her car where Barret took over his own bags and put them in the truck.

"Want to have some extra fun on this trip?" Violet asked once she got into the passenger seat and put her seatbelt on.

"I am both just a little nervous yet intrigued by your choice of words and tone." Barret answered as he was doing the same before Violet opened her cup holder compartment and pulled out a ring box that contained a wedding ring and matching wedding band.

"Want to pretend to be a married couple? Newly weds even?" Violet asked as she opened the box and handed it to him.

"Why not for real?" Barret asked.

"Still too soon, you don't have to agree, but I thought it would be fun." Violet shrugged.

"Yeah let's do it." Barret decided as he took the wedding band off and was impressed it fit really well and was actually in his preferred style.

"Yes." Violet cheered as he took the wedding ring out of the box and slipped it on her finger as they smiled adoringly at each other.

"Also I may have just gotten my new Ellie Pine stuff in and I wanted to see how good it was but I didn't want that to sway your decision." Violet confessed as she opened her glove compartment where two cases were sitting as she put her own wallet into it and pulled out the second one where a second wallet was where she had all kinds of credit cards, insurance cards, a drivers licence, and quite a bit of funds in both american currency and UK pounds before she handed him a bank envelope full of UK pounds that he put into his pocket with a grin before he drove them to the airport.

Barret was actually a little surprised by how much he enjoyed all of this. Like a little secret mission and they were Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and was impressed by how easily they both fit into this role they made for themselves. Violet still had him sitting next to the window, and still discretely watched everyone around them and made sure to see every single person who got onto the plane with them from her spot in first class while her bag that had most of her weapons was in a cloaked bag between her feet, besides the ones in her cloaked super suit disguised as her clothes. She even knew which passenger was the air marshal just by looking at him for a tenth of a second.

"So are we clear?" Barret murmured to her once all the passengers were on the plane.

"One air marshal and so far I counted at least six guys and four women who might get drunk on the way, and three more individuals that might be trailers." She murmured back to him as she held his hand with one hand and sipped on her drink with the other as Barret hummed in response because he noticed just about everyone give Violet a lingering look and an appreciative glance and while he had always felt possessive and a little jealous of the attention Tali garnered whenever they went anywhere, he still felt a little possessive but not jealous in the slightest. If anything he was proud to be with her. And especially to see how everyone soon noticed her wedding ring and then his own and came to the conclusions that they were married made him happy and he couldn't wipe the soft, serene smile off his face for anything. He knew that their current difficult circumstances wouldn't last forever, but hopefully, one day, this would be their reality. Although if he was honest, he could do this from the comfort of his private jet too. But he also knew that Violet wanted to see that they could be totally "exposed" and still be safe.

Meanwhile Phillp pouted from his spot with Cheseray under his arm, already giddily talking about all the things they were going to do once they landed. Cheseray, for being so beautiful and actually rather sweet, was also a chatterbox and she seemed to voice every thought that came into her head, it made him appreciate Violet's silence and discretion even more and how she didn't say anything about what she was really thinking about and how she kept her feelings pretty controlled and even, whereas Cheseray's feelings were like waves on the stormy ocean, it was exhausting trying to get hers to stay in balance or completely withdraw his powers to only stay with himself to keep himself from feeling seasick.

But Phillip's mind was clearly elsewhere, Veronica only mentioned offhandedly while she was talking with his security team that Violet was also taking a trip and hoped that she had fun. Phillip's jealousy that she was going somewhere else, in the opposite direction he was and was going to be spending the whole trip with Tully, he wanted someone to trail them to keep an eye on things and everyone he reached out to turned him down when they found out it was Violet, claiming that they didn't have death wishes, and he had to resort to his last desperate reach to be able to get anywhere. Part of him wanted to tell the pilots to turn around and follow after her and go to the British Isles too but he knew that Violet wouldn't approve and she'd back peddle and withdraw from Tully just to keep things so torturously slow. Phillip was getting so frustrated and exasperated by how slow Violet and Tully were moving because Violet herself had insisted that he was one of those individuals who wouldn't be intimate with anyone he didn't have a strong connection to and building that connection was a lot of work, too much work for Phillip's taste. Phillip felt like glaciers were moving a hundred times faster than Violet and Tully and Violet was going to be cleared from her contract with him before she could even take the first step with Tully. He almost felt like they were doing it on purpose but he knew that Violet could only move as fast as Tully let her move and he couldn't do anything about it. Maybe that was the frustrating part, he couldn't do anything more about it. And he wondered if the length he was going to was going to backfire and make them back off from each other again, but he also couldn't help himself, he just...he needed to know. But also this trip with Tully was proof that things were going in the right direction. A first big step.

Once Violet and Barret touched down in Glasgow, Violet paused when she saw paparazzi waiting at the exit of the airport and it made her look around curiously to see if anyone actually famous enough would be here to warrant them before she narrowed her eyes at them.

"What?" Barret asked.

"Paparazzi." Violet nodded over to them.

"Do you really think they're here for us?" Barret asked.

"I don't know, but it is strange isn't it?" Violet asked.

"Yeah, even when I was with Tali, I never really dealt with them, she did. She dealt with all the press because she had the better face and temperament for it." Barret confessed.

"So what do you want to do?" Barret asked.

"Let's see if they engage us, if they do, then we can lose them, but if they're here for someone else, lets leave them be. But just in case." Violet said before she got on her phone and made a quick phonecall from her phone.

"Let's hang back a moment." Violet suggested before they sat down with their luggage between it and the car rental desk and waited about 20 minutes before a very nice limo pulled up and the paparazzi seemed to become alert and get ready and point their cameras at the door as they seemed to put themselves between the exit and the car, eager to get a picture before Violet grinned and went to the check out desk to get their Land Rover she rented for them.

"Who's the limo for?" Barret asked Violet.

"Whoever wants it- it's like a taxi, but it's a limo. If they're for us, Phillip is under the impression that you only like the finer things in life and can't imagine you'd go on a vacation with me and "slum it up" by driving a normal car or fly with normal people or anything, this is your chance to show off your wealth to me like a bird of paradise showing off it's fancy plumage and dance, like he always does because he's a show off. If it's for a real celebrity, they'll be grateful they got a limo and can travel in style." Violet shrugged and just as they were done loading up their luggage and drove away, the limo got taken by another couple who were curious to see who the limo was for and finding that it was open to whoever wanted it- they readily took it to their own destination with their four rowdy children while the paparazzi seemed disappointed before one of them went into the airport to see if they could see anyone who fit the description of who they had been sent to photograph.

"Nicely done Vi." Barret smiled as he happily drove them away as she pulled up their destination on their phone, choosing to stop for food before they would reach the castle they were going to be staying at.

"Thank you, and I didn't even have to use my powers." Violet beamed happily.

Phillip landed his plane and his phone started to ring.

"Hello?" Phillip eagerly answered.

"Sir, we didn't see them. We waited all day, we saw a limo come but a family took it and there are no more flights in, and Violet Parr was never a passenger on the flights, in fact the only people who fit the description were here for their ten year anniversary, they may have stayed in London and never came out here." The paparazzi reported.

"Fine, then go there and see where you can find them. He's a billionaire and he's with my secretary, surely this is a scandal that's worth something right?" Phillip pressed.

"Of course sir, we'll find em." He assured them before Phillip hung up the phone with a snarl.

Meanwhile in Scottland, Violet and Barret were halfway through their dinner, their highlander grog and their flights of whiskies and talking and laughing the evening away as Violet was so happy when they clearly had no other tails and could continue on with their vacation like any normal pair.