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Two Hearts Tested..

Guest WYN100

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The Labrador trotted eagerly up to the outer back kitchen door and stood in familiar canine pose, tail wagging with the satisfaction of energy expended, curling pink tongue emerging from a slightly nodding head which craned a fraction to the left to check on the progress of his slightly less athletic master.

The dog indeed did have to wait an extra minute or two before the sound of footsteps reassured him that admittance and a breakfast bowl wouldn't be that long delayed.

In fairness, Sergeant Gavin McGrath enjoyed his regular morning excursion to the beach with pet T-Bone - he was a naturally active man, and fit too for someone in his early-mid fifties. The beach walk generally meant a dose of pre-breakfast sunshine, some pure and unspoilt ozone to breathe in, and usually the chance to clear his head before the compliated rigours of the day set in. This indeed was promising to be a demanding day at the office, with some staffing issues to sort out, and an investigation into alleged corruption at the council coming nicely to the boil.

However, despite all those factors, it had been another issue which had levered its way into his head over the recent couple of weeks, and which had begun to ring decidedly intrusive and ever louder bells as the relevant tipping point had drawn nearer. As McGrath drew within opening distance of the back door, the rhythmical tattoo of T=Bone's wagging tail grew ever louder and more steady in greeting.The sergeant eased his dwindling trot down to a final plod as he opened the door. Once inside, he flashed a glance blending routine and habit at the large clock hung centrally on the white-painted kitchen wall - even though his internal radar-cum satnav was telling him it was aproaching the time to point himself in the direction of the office, That was something he - as a rule- pretty much enjoyed, though today was most certainly proving to be an exception. Almost subconsciously slowly, he pulled on his work jacket, emptied out a "cordon bleu"-style large sachet of food for the dog and patted it absently on the head. "Be around 6 I'll be back, mate,," he said a little ruefully. T-Bone received that news with the passing interest one would expect of a pet engaged in the serious business of meal-eating- briefly inclining one ear upwards before returbing to award serious justice to the bowl of "best beef in rich jelly" mixture laid in front of him.McGrath paused, looking down at the eager animal's enthusiastic consumption of his meal and shook his head a little ruefully.

If only life were that simple for senior police officers, he reflected. The remainder of T-Bone's day would include an extended sleep plus a sample of the meaty bone lying in the adjacent bowl, and in all probability, barking at the odd passer-by he'd spy from the big bay window.

HIS day by contrast promised to be FAR more complicated, - including the passing on of some news he confidently predicted that a certain Jack Holden was NOT going to receive well....not at ALL well, in point of fact...

Jack checked his watch, craned his neck, shook his head, and depressed his palm down onto the car steering wheel, making the stark, sharp sound of the horn circulate intrusively through and around the quiet suburban street - much to the disapproval of a small cat dozing in the sun's rays at the gate of a house two doors down.

The neck was craned again, to check whether his rather unsubtle route of reminder had achieved any success. It had - but only partially- as a downstairs curtain was peeled back to reveal Martha's face, with her tongue extended at any member of the watching world, but primarily at Jack.. He responded with a series of urgent gestures that he hoped indicated the need for speed but ended up looking more as if he was about to take off through the car's open sunroof. Her resulting smile of amusement did little to quell the rising ocean of frustration within him.

Realistically, there was zero ill-feeling in his actions or outlook, and once the curtain slipped back shut, he allowed his features to slip into an affectionate smile. After everything that had happened to them and between them, it was little short of a miracle that they were back together. Taking it slowly was the official line, but they were happy = and no-one could deny that. Jack allowed his mind to drift back over Ash, hospital stays, Sam and Rory,the all-pervasive heartache of Beth dying, plus = he felt his features tighten - the whole saga of Cam Reynolds and the Rocket Club - undoubedly that was a case of the least said - and probably also thought - the better.But - that chemistry, dynamic, whatever you cared to call it , had sustained , endured and even flourished between them, to the point where even discussions about buying a house together had ghosted back onto the agenda, with talk about property-hunting within the next few days having indeed been mooted.

But - Jack shook himself back into the previous frowning mode - he NEEDED to get to WORK - or McGrath would have his guts fo tent-pegs !! He raised the palm of his hand, ready for another salvo on the horn - - but paused as the corner of his eye glimpsed the front door opening , and the smile returned as the torrent of emotions that instinctively gushed into his heart as he saw her bustle down the path again reminded him of the one and only word that could adequetely crystallize his feelings for Martha - and that was love.

Wayne Roger' fingers moved swiftly across the keyboard with a skill borne of regular and dedicated - almost obsessive repetition. Periodically his eyes would linger on the screen as he picked off error messages and encryptions as if they were slow and lumbering Space Invaders in the earliest 80s incarnation of what now seemed an absurdly technology-outstripped game,

Wayne took great offence at the description 'hacker', but in point of fact that's precisely what he was. He preferred to be known as an "IT guru" or some similar title, but effectively he made an extremely comfortable living via his word-of-mouth reputation in certain circles in and around where he lived - he'd receive requests, enquiries and lucrative orders from those who - for their own reasons- were keen to bypass the official protocol and communication channels of businesses, organizations or individuals about whom they required sensitive and otherwise unobtainable material. The most telling label that was given to Wayne - and it wasn't one he'd written for himself - was that to date there wasn't one pc or computer system that he'd failed to crack.

And - today's task seemingly wasn't about to place a dent in that reputation. He'd reached the page he'd been aiming for - delayed only briefly by one entry code box that required some precision circumnavigating, and now only some brief refining was needed in order to cover his cyber-tracks - to the evident and vocal approval of that day's client, standing behind his chair in the cautiously-lit room and following every unfolding development with keen, darting eyes.

Wayne hit the printer icon, and a clutch of sheets began to whirr their way out, all bedecked with the masthead ­ ­ "Eastern Districts Police Human Resources Department - High Confidentiality - Senior Officers Only" .

Eager hands reached past Wayne to clutch the sheets up, followed by a quick gasp and an extremely satisfied "Well, well - now how about THAT then...?" Prominent on the top sheet that was being gripped with such excited interest was a clear and extremely distinct photograph of Jack Holden.....

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Excellent start!

Love the way it's written and the way you describe everything is fantastic :)

Glad Jack and Martha have managed to leave their problems in the past.

This Wayne fellow sounds a bit creepy though... :blink: I wonder what he wants with Jack :unsure:

This i really great. Can't wait to

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The wooden frame around the entry door to the Yabbie Creek police station shuddered rather as if an over-exuberant baby elephant had become detached from a passing circus parade and had now begun beating a tattoo with a hefty hoof to obtain entry and demand directions.

The actual explanation was less exotic but had produced an impact of seemingly only slightly lower proportions. Jack's earlier anxiety to uproot Martha from her leisurely preparations had - at least in part - been borne out of a series of increasingly loaded warnings from McGrath about erratic timekeeping- one of which had bordered on being an official warning after he'd missed a final briefing in advance of a dawn raid on a suspected drug den near Mangrove River. That had been the culmination of nearly nine months of stake-outs, observations and patient planning, and though he'd managed to catch up and become part of the manoeuvre before its completion, the dressing=down he'd received from the Sergeant had barely ceased ringing in his ears even now.

Ironically Martha could effectively be singled out as the common factor in this relatively new but potentially damaging element in Jack's behaviour.

When they'd drifted apart during the various turbulent scenarios involving Ash and Cam, Jack's whole usually disciplined persona had slid into steady and significant decline . Late nights, two or three more drinks than he'd normally have contemplated - and timekeeping had undoubtedly become a casualty. A suspicion that the breakup scars had been far deeper than he'd acknowledged had in reality contributed to the fragility of his month or two with Sam and had his bosses been even marginally less tolerant than they were, it could have led him straight into unemployment too !

And then - the exact opposite side of the equation - once he'd got BACK with Martha - well, a few late starts had just seemed to...kind of come with the territory !!

In any case, the realistic and less indulgent side of his brain knew he was most definitely on borrowed time as far as late starts were concerned, particularly today when McGrath had made such a point of ordering him in for a start-of-the day meeting.

And so came the minor tremor that shook the frame of the building momentarily as Jack careered up the small entrance corridor, lurched slightly off balance, simultaneously sending the door crashing back against the inner wall, drawing a look of slight pained surprise from Peter Baker, who was crossing the reception area,

"Bring your bulldozer in why don't you Constable Holden ..?" he observed drily , going on to add "but - now you ARE here, have you got any further with that bogus caller scam...."

Jack had been bent almost double attempting to recover his breath, but as he drew upright once again, his face glowing red with the effort of his recent last-ditch sprint, he slight ly extended the open palm of his hand and replied a little throatily "Peter - I WILL get back to you on that, but...", pointing meaningfully at McGrath's door , "I HAVE to get in there....NOW !"

Peter gave a knowing nod and waved Jack onwards in the manner of a patrol officer motioning a car past an accident scene. Waving his gratitude, Jack tapped once on the door and answered the call to enter. Noting McGrath's quickly-shot glance at the clock which indicated just a handful of seconds till the appointed 9-30 hour he leapt into an explanation that hadn't yet been demanded - "Morning Sergeant, I know I cut it a tiny bit fine, but I said I'd give Martha a lift - and you know women !! - NO shifting them till they're good and ready ! Anyway, here now , present and correct !" His strenuous efforts to arrive on time meant he didn't immediately pick up on the senior officer's rather distracted and serious manner, even when he finished shuffling some documents, looked up and asked "Ah yes, Martha - how's all that going now ?"

An involuntary smile spread across Jack's face as he replied "Well, if I'm honest Sarge, better than I could have hoped - - we're even hopefully going out later to look at buying a house together...!"

McGrath's reaction to that was immediate and pronounced -his head shot right up as a serious and decidedly troubled expression spread swiftly across his features.

"Buying a house ?...here ..? in Summer Bay..?"

Jack nodded.

McGrath inhaled deeply and shook his head gravely.

"Constable Holden, I have to tell you I DON' T think that's a very good idea - not a very good idea at ALL...."

He gazed steadily and seriously across the desk at a gaping Jack...

She set down the two cappuccinos on the table of the small elevated diner wallside booth then hovered in anticipation of the extended conversation most customers had ruefully come to realize was almost as integral to their order as any items of food or drink they'd actually requested.

Colleen's attitude to residents varied and fluctuated like the summer breezes that cantered across the Bay on a late December evening. The ingratiating "There you GO Doctor Armstrong ! " As she set down Rachel's cup would have surprised few , but it was her attitude to Martha that perfectly condensed and illustrated the point. A few months back at the height of the Rocket Club situation she'd approached and addressed her as if she genuinely were the devil's pet Rotweiler, - but now the dust had settled and Martha was seeing the "acceptably respectable" Jack once again, she was bestowed a shatteringly identikit smile to the one that had left Rachel blinking slightly nervously just seconds before, and was asked "..and how IS young Constable Holden ?? SO nice to see you two young lovebirds back at each others' sides - not with you today ?"

Martha was sorely tempted to answer that ultimate in rhetorical questions by lowering her head elaborately under the booth table and conduct a quick mock search for her other half, before reporting failure, but contented herself instead with a smiling "No, he's early at work today Colleen, .." then - wrinkling her nose "Can I smell something burning...?" Colleen looked momentarily confused before turning on her heel with a high-pitched "AWW MY !! - it must be those teacakes for table twelve !! - Irene'll have my HOIDE !!" and she carved a panic-stricken route back towards the kitchen.

Rachel took the first mouthful of her coffee before remarking with indulgent scepticism "Mm - now isn't that strange ? I'm sure I couldn't smell any burning...?"

Martha's face was a mask of mischievous innocence ,

"REALLY ? Now you come to mention it, neither can I !?" - adding with just the ghost of a wink "Worked though, didn't it !"

Rachel giggled, adding "Anyway- going on, spill, how IS young Constable Holden - you two HAVE been very cosy again lately, haven't you ? So, what's the story ?"

Martha's face wrinkled coyly, "Oh you know..."

Rachel jammed her spoon down firmly into the still very attractive froth at the top of her coffee and retorted playfully, "Hey - DON'T you be giving me the 'oh you know' routine - I'm an old expert at THAT one, believe me - TRUTH girl, I want TRUTH..!"

Martha blushed slightly, but responded slowly "Well...it's good - VERY good, and so much better than I could ever have imagined after we split up - - he's been kind, understanding - - and it's just like we've ,managed to somehow shift ALL that garbage out of the way and I really think we've got a second chance..!"

Rachel's smile was broad as she leant across to squeeze Martha's wrist - "Fabulous ! So what happens now ?"

The coy blush spread back over Martha's cheek - she stirred furiously at her coffee. then allowed herself to continue thoughtfully "Well.......we SAY we're taking it slowly..."


"But...we're talking VERY seriously about getting a house together...."


"And...well, ...I seriously think he may want us to start a family together....!"

With an involuntary squeal, Rachel lent fully across the booth table and the two shared an excited hug...at the precise moment that Jack was holding a glassy stare at Sergeant McGrath over an office desk at Yabbie Creek Police station.

The coastal town of Eastlake, some six or seven hours drive north of Summer Bay was essentially old-fashioned in character. The architecture spoke of a previous generation, centred around the high and extensive stone masonry which both formed and swept busily away from the central point of the marketplace where fruit , fish and meat traders served a lively and regular clientele, down towards rows of small shops where the sale of local arts and crafts were popularly prominent.

But Eastlake was also a town with aspirations to belong in the new Millennium. Its western fringe boasted a handful of reasonably elite nightclubs . some designer clothes retailers - - and a cyber-cafe. And - it was upon a table in that cyber­-cafe between two bottles of lager and a large glass of red wine that lay a thin paper-clipped bundle of A4 documents - the very same that Wayne Rogers had "hacked" earlier that day, and the top sheet of which displated the same clear, distinct photo of Jack Holden that had emerged from Wayne's home pc printer just hours earlier. Having provided the requested "goods", Wayne sat back and observed with interest the dynamic evolving between the other two over how to proceed. To those who believed in such things it was a quirk of fate indeed that two people with such shared hostility towards a third should gravitate to the same location at roughly the same time - but that was where the similarities between them were appearing to ebb away.

From his left came "Well as far as I can see, now we know what we know, we get the hammer to fall QUICKLY and get the whole thing boxed off cleanly !"

From his right though, a fist thumped down onto the table and a snarled "NO ! - know we know what we do, we play him along...and make him SUFFER !"

Two figures of enmity from Jack Holden's past had been thrown together in perhaps unlikely circumstances, but - thought Wayne - the upshot was promising to be both unpredictable and distinctly ominous for PC Holden...........

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Oh god *gulps* Things don't sound too good for Jack :unsure:

Aww, they're wanting to start a family :wub: How adorable!

This is really, really good. Even though this Wayne fellow is creeping me out :huh: I can't wait to see what he has in store for Constable Holden (He's not allowed to hurt Jacky too much though lol)

Please update real soon; can't wait to

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"Sarge, you just HAVE to be kidding !!" Jack's tone was urgent but increasingly apprehensive - - his face certainly two shades paler than when he'd arrived at work - - his palms had become coated with perspiration, and his regulation uniform shirt was starting to feel like one of those items one dons "just in case" on a fairly breezy summer morning, but quickly comes to regret it three hours later when the mid-day sun beats insistently down from a cloudless sky and the indulgence of hindsight shows "just in case" to have been a very unwise luxury.

McGrath in contrast was looking hunted and evasive - eye contact had been at a minimum since he'd arrived -he'd known for about a week the news he was having to impart to Jack - - and the volatile impact it would have. The officer's assessment had not been inaccurate. Having first been told, Jack had graduated predictably through disbelief into attempted persuasion, and now the truculent objection was beginning to hit.

"Sergeant, you have to know there couldn't BE a worse time, and anyway, there have to be plenty of other..."

McGrath pushed himself up by the the two palms he's come to rest flat on the desk and stiffened his own tone by a couple of notches. Adding an edge of flint to his words he interjected "Constable HOLDEN !! ENOUGH already !! I can ONLY repeat what I've told you twice now - I only GET these transfer orders every couple of years - - they come from the HIGHEST of top brass. AND­ - I'm afraid - YOU are being transferred - END OF !!, ok ??..."

Jack's response radar took another erratic lurch ­ this time heading directly towards desperation.

"But Sarge...does it have to be NOW ?? It's only a couple of months since Beth...Martha and I have just got back together..and we're about to buy a HOUSE together...."

McGrath shook his head evasively.

"I hear all you're saying Jack - but it's TOTALLY out of my hands - these things just land on my desk and they may as well have a label attached saying "we don't take no for an answer - and anyway, I thought you might fancy the promotion ! - Eastern Districts Operative Supervisor- and there's bound to be a pay rise involved !!"

Jack rolled his eyes towards the ceiling dismissively - - - "And it's got to be , what, about an EIGHT hour drive !! It might as well be interstate !!!!"

"McGrath shuffled his papers a little awkwardly "It's actually about nine hours " he muttered, - - "but you'll be based near a very decent little town - - go-ahead sort of place - - - it's called Eastlake.."

Jack snorted, looking decidedly unimpressed.

Eastlake wasn't a name he knew, but fate seemed to be conspiring to ensure that he WOULD - - - he definitely WOULD...

Martha hugged Rachel goodbye in the outer seated area of the diner and began strolling along the seafront. It was the kind of day whereby just a few minutes communion with the elements could infuse anyone with the very essence of what Summer Bay had to offer. The playful morning breeze skimmed across the sapphire blue ocean and over the sea wall, while a glance at the sea also revealed the clutch of shimmering spotlight=style pockets faithfully reflecting the ebullient rays of the morning sun back across to those passing, and absorbing the spectacle.

Martha's face revealed an involuntary smile - feeling this happy would NOT have been on the agenda a year or so back - as her marriage to Jack had begun to crumble and implode , she had to admit looking back that she'd she'd as good as flown a flag announcing herself as an available and willing candidate to be exploited by guys with issues. Ash ­ - plausible - charming -caring - spineless - gutless -amoral - and ­ she paused , set her jaw firm, and decided not to go back down the well­-worn baby plus termination route - that was well trodden enough - and as for Cam, it was almost impossible to believe she'd even entered the sleazy, smoke-ridden venue that was the Rocket Club, let alone cavorted semi-naked around that on-stage pole....she gave an involuntary shudder, moved a few steps forward, then suddenly stopped short, wincing a little as her hand migrated to the area of her stomach. She tried a few more steps, but no, there it was again - that strange, almost indefinable feeling blending discomfort, dizziness and a less than pleasant queasiness. Martha changed course and headed towards an adjacent bench, halting only before she flopped down upon it to reassure an older lady passing by that she was ok and didn't need any help ­ but as she sat, she was forced to reflect upon the precise truth of that statement.This WASN'T the first time this had happened, she admitted to herself - and - as the decision key was finally and a little belatedly pressed in her mind - it needed checking out. She waited­ ten minutes or so to collect herself, then rose gently and headed off....

Two of the Eastlake cyber-case trio had relocated back to Wayne Rogers's "office", situated as it was in a quiet, residential part of the town - given his line of work, that geographical anonymity was something he craved, and which - it had to be said - had served him very well so far. Of all the clients he'd encountered in the five or so years he'd been involved in "data intervention" as he liked to call it, this current job was one of the most engrossing, he had to admit. Not so much in the mechanics of it, but in the chemistry, or maybe more accurately the lack of it between the two men who were employing his services on this occasion. Very different, both in character, and in the means they apparently seemed to favour in chasing their goal. Indeed, that goal -and the very hazardous future it seemed to spell for one Constable Jack Holden seemed to be the one and only thing that united them. One had remained in the cyber-­cafe on a mobile phone call, and as the other was parking the car, it had been the work of minutes for Wayne to revisit his keyboard and summon up phase tw o of the information they'd required. Indeed at that moment the one who'd been parking the car entered the room -Wayne handed him the papers and as he began to purr over them, nurmuring to himself "So THAT'S when he's arriving , eh !", Wayne enquired as tactfully as possible "It's ok if I add this one om to the overall amount we discussed Mr, um...?"

His question was met by a reassuring nod and a reply of "Oh yes for sure..but I'd REALLY like it if you could keep THIS bit a secret between us...??- and..." -starting to press a one hundred dollar note into Wayne's top pocket as he spoke..." the name's Reynolds,,, but you can call me Cam...!!"

But at that moment both swivelled instinctively to look at the door which had been hurled back against the door by the up-till-then missing third member of the cyber-cafe gathering - he'd certainly never been someone to believe in making a subtle entrance anywhere.........

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  • 3 weeks later...


"But what the heck am I going to tell her, dad ..?..and depending on what I DO decide to tell her....HOW the heck am I going to tell her...??" Jack's tone was urgent and distracted as the thoroughly unexpected and unwelcome developments of that morning continued to churn around in his mind. After receiving the news of his imminent projected transfer from McGrath, Jack had headed out on patrol in a grey haze of uncertainty and distraction. It hardly seemed the same decade, let alone the same day that he'd dropped Martha off at the diner and scuttled into work, avoiding another lecture for poor timekeeping being his overriding priority.

Given what had subsequently descended on him from out of the blue, he would now have willingly reverted that particular concern directly back to the head of his priority worry list.

Pacing fretfully across the carpet, then retracing the same 10 or 12 steps, he carried what was as much a monologue as a conversation "...and we'd just got back together too ! .. I always kind of KNEW we would....and it's been so GOOD too ..... it was like , just CLICKING !!.. and all the bumps and lumps from the first time were just ironed out ...destiny probably... and we were even planning on getting a house together....""You...what ..?"

Tony's head had shot up at that point - previously his attention to Jack's words had been a little superficial, with the grunts and tut-tuts that he'd periodically interjected having been more token in nature. This though was quite a shock. Since Beth had died, he'd grown used to having the guys living there with him, and had - subconsciously at least - expected that state of affairs to prevail for at least a couple more years yet. Job postings always seemed a little different in that they usually had a distinct shelf-life after which Jack could return home, which he tended to do most weekends anyway while he was on them, armed with his accumulated dirty washing !

His previous reticence hadn't indicated a lack of interest or care about what his son had been saying - far from it in fact - it was rather his newly-obtained and reluctantly-accepted job at the council that had been preying on his mind - Tony was decidedly NOT a jacket and tie sort of guy, but after what had happened at the Surf Club and the gym, he had to get another income - though sometimes he wondered why, as the atmosphere at home was hardly posing a threat to the apple-pie contentment of the Waltons even now, though he was at a total loss to know what he could do about it. The shadow of Naomi Preston seemed to be as adhesive as the scent of a 3 day old fish-bone left in a kitchen bin-bag.

Immediately he'd begun the job of research clerk (what exactly WAS a research clerk ? he'd wondered - it was the kind of job you'd slap your fingers against if you happened to see it while idly flicking through the jobs pages and tut with bewilderment at exactly WHAT sort of people actually applied for jobs like that !!) he'd felt a conspiratorial air reigning in the office - whispered conversations, meaningful glances in corridors, and hurried departures from the water cooler - the only thing he was sure of was that none of them involved HIM - then the news of that big staff meeting tomorrow - just what you needed to worry about all through your day off, he'd thought ruefully.

And so Jack's arrival and expression of his own personal worries had caught him slightly off-guard. But this - about starting a FAMILY !? Bolts from the blue weren't in it !! - his mind flashed quickly to Martha's chequered history - instigating the separation from Jack - hitting the alcohol - pole-dancing, even hiring a handgun... he blurted....

"Look Jack, starting a family ?? - you sure you've thought about this...?"

But even as Jack's brow began to crinkle with disapproval at the direction in which his father seemed to be going, both their heads turned instinctively to the door, their attention claimed by the arrival there of Martha, standing with an impassive expression on her face. Silent for a few seconds, she was questioned by Jack " Martha, you ok ?....."

After a few more silent second she spoke softly "Jack, there's something I've really got to tell you..."

The dimensions of the small flat-cum office used by Wayne Rogers seemed to be shrinking by the minute, to the point where those with any slight tendency towards claustrophobia could quite justifiably have demanded a subliminal health warning at the very least be broadcast. Wayne obviously felt the cloying tension caused by the other two but was largely indifferent to it - after all. THEY were paying HIM and as long as they continued to do that, he'd be happy. He couldn't help though but be just a little fascinated by the dynamic and the contrast between the other two and how exactly they intended wreaking the revenge on Jack that singly and together they clearly felt he deserved. Nonetheless, discretion was the better part of "cyber-information intervention" and Wayne found his forefingers surreptitiously pressing further down into his front shirt pocket the hundred dollar bill that had been placed there minutes earlier by a whispering Cam.

To those that knew him, there was little doubt that Cam Reynolds had and still did move in questionable circles -- but they were circles that painted villainry with a false veneer - sharp suits, sharper cars and bottles of champagne used to seal deals with the kind of nonchalant ease that most people would use to draw water from a tap.

But this current situation was very different - the man who'd just thundered his way into the room didn't play by, nor even recognize those kind of rules. Indeed, no-one who'd had even the briefest accquaintance with Johnny Cooper could have described him as comfortable company. He was abraisive, demanding and thoroughly unforgiving of those who crossed him in even the most minor of ways - - and Jack's part in his imprisonment was something he considered as very far from minor.

Johnny though was also almost pathologically suspicious, and his antennae began twitching as a matter of course after making his Richter Scale entrance.

"All well here, compadres ?" he barked, eyes narrowing as he thumped Cam just a little too emphatically on the back. His co-conspirator maintained his equilibrium admirably, responding only "Oh yes - - uh, Wayne here was just telling me their wensite's down right now, so we're no further on the arrival date- but maybe gives us more time to discuss exactly which way we'll go when the little lawman gets here ?"

Johnny's notorious short fuse was straight to the fore - finger pointed aggressively in Cam's face, his voice hardened unpleasantly. "I've TOLD you - there's NO dispute about that - you're carrying the MONEY side of this - I get the action sorted - now ", turning to Wayne "..if you'd point me at the men's room in this place mate - all that up market designer lager muck you know - finds its way straight out of the exit door, if you know what I mean ?" - he laughed throatily as Wayne motioned him to another door leading off towards a small side corridor. Cam winced slightly at the Cooper brand of humour as he leant forward towards Wayne and said softly "So - what I was mentioning before - stays between us two, right ?", dropping one eyelid in a stealthy wink to emphasize his request.

Unfortunately for Cam though, his voice hadn't been soft enough nor his knowledge of his partner's paranoia detaied enough - a suspicious ear was pressed to the outside of the connecting door, as the Cooper jaw set firm be neath a grimly and slowly nodding face.....

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