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Risk

Chapter XVII

 Working Stiffs

(or yet another bashing chapter)

 

 



I think I have issues. But you'll see.


Jason leans on the table at Kelly's his arm surrounds his plate of sausage and eggs with hashbrowns and side of pancakes. The territorial posture is obvious to anyone. Anyone attempting to snitch a sausage might end up pulling back a stump for a hand. Jason has pushed the condiments to the far end of the table and has the spreadsheets for the coffee business in a folder in front of him. He grunts as he flips the page. Someone has been keeping a good eye on this. There is no evidence of Sonny's breakdown. Penny comes through all the tables with two pots of coffee, one regular and one decaf. She's familiar with Jason's MO. Keep the food coming until he says stop and don't talk to him. She automatically refills his coffee. "Thanks." Jason grunts absently going on to the next page.

Gia comes in to pick up a coffee to go. She looks over at Jason immersed in his paperwork and breakfast. She pays for the beverage and then starts back out the door. Sighing she turns around and sits down across from Jason and then takes the lid off her coffee and takes a sip. Gia waits for him to notice that she is there.

"What do you want?" Jason says shortly not looking up from his breakfast reading.

"Nothing." Gia takes another sip. "But considering Carly asked me to keep an eye on things here I figured I'd get it straight from you. So how things going?"

Jason sits back in his chair and looks at Gia. "Tell me first what you know."

"Laura knows that Stavros is alive. She doesn't have a clue that Carly is coming after Deception."

"And Nikolas. Does he know that Carly is coming after his mother's company?"

"He should." Gia shrugs. "They all think they are such big authorities on Carly. If Laura doesn't see it coming... oh well , too bad, so sad."

Jason indicates the large square cut emerald surrounded by diamonds on Gia's finger. "Your boyfriend know how you feel about his mother?"

"Everyone adores Laura. Who could think otherwise?" Gia tosses her hair back so it doesn't droop into her coffee.

"You live down to your reputation." Jason says wryly.

"I thought you appreciated honesty." Gia retorts sharply. "So what do you want me to tell Carly?"

"Nothing. I'll tell her what I want her to know..." Jason thinks about that one and sighs. "Tell her I talked to Sonny. He has her phone number and I'm staying out of it."

Gia nods and rises to her feet. She puts the lid back on the to go cup. "I'll let her know."

"Why do you think she'll call you?"

"I'm part of her agenda." Gia shrugs. "Or rather Nikolas is. I figure she's got three things going... Deception, whatever Stavros is plotting, and making Stavros and Nikolas one big happy family. It wouldn't play right if she was contacting Nikolas. They have no real connection to give Carly an excuse to call him. Whereas if she is calling me and Nik happens to pick up..."

Jason half grins. "Yeah, that'll work...." He shakes his head and mutter under his breath. Nothing is ever simple. "...right up until Carly pulls the carpet out from under Laura."

"You don't seem to be too upset about that." Gia wonders.

"It was Laura's choice to go into Deception with Carly. It was also her decision to fuck her over. I'm staying out of it."

"You're saying that quite a bit this morning. Why do I really, really doubt it?" Gia holds up her coffee in toast. "Later."

Jason pushes his plate away and reaches for his coffee. Now there was a duo he didn't want to mess with... Carly and Gia. He shudders.

Penny comes by and picks up his plates having taken the clue that he was finished. She tops off his coffee again and keeps moving. On her way back to the counter she glances up at the clock and swears. She had to get to her second job. She'd only been on the schedule at Kelly's for a couple of hours cause Elizabeth couldn't be there for the real working people. where the hell is that inconsiderate bitch? That's it. Bobbie is going to have to do something about this.

Liz comes strolling through the doors. "Jason! When did you get back in town?" She comes over and gives him a big hug. "I've missed you. You wouldn't believe all the things that happened while you've been gone." She sits down across from him.

Penny gathers her purse from under the counter. "Everyone is taken care of. I have to get going." She tells Liz.

Liz gives her a wave and a nod as Penny stalks out the door. "Wow. I wonder what is bothering her?" Liz says to Jason with wide eyes.

"Miss, Could I get some more coffee?"

"I'll be right with you." Liz calls over to the guy at the counter. She rolls her eyes at Jason. "I'll be back." Liz goes over to the counter and puts her purse underneath it. Then she goes over and hangs up her jacket by the payphone. Then she puts on her apron. Grabbing the coffee pot she goes over and pours the man his refill. Bringing the coffee pot back with her she sits down again across from Jason. "So have you heard the latest? Stavros Cassadine is alive! And Carly is with him. You must be really happy for Sonny."

"Excuse me?"

"It's a good thing right? I mean all Carly ever did was get Sonny in trouble and you were constantly having to come straighten things out. She's out of both of you and Sonny's lives. Now everything can get back to normal."

"Normal. right." Jason stands up. He picks up the ticket from the table and looks at the total. He puts down a bill for the breakfast and a matching one for the tip and picks up his folders. "I have to get over to the coffee warehouse."

"Well I'll talk to you later. It is really good to see you, Jase."

"Later." Jason shrugs on his leather jacket and puts on his leather gloves and exits the diner. Liz picks up the bills on the tab. She goes over to the register and rings up Jason's check and then pockets the difference.

 



Bobbie stops at the nurse's station to pick her messages after an early cardiac bipass with Monica. Damn. Still no call from Carly. Not that I know what I'm going to tell her now after talking to Stefan. Bobbie notices that there are three messages there. One from Stefan, one from Penny and one from Mrs Lansbury. She frowns when she sees the last. Deciding to deal with the easy one first she calls Penny. It takes a minute for Penny to be called to the phone. "Penny, it's Bobbie... what do you need? Luke didn't try to cook this morning or something?" Bobbie asks wryly.

"No." Penny laughs at that one. "I would have called you as soon as I saw him walking back in the kitchen." Penny gets serious. "Look Bobbie, I hate to do this to you but I'm going to have to give you my notice."

"Oh no! Penny, you can't! You're my best waitress. I was going to ask you to take over for Tammy and manage for me! Is it about money? The management position would be more money of course and you'd get an apartment thrown in too."

There is a long pause on the other end of the line. "Bobbie, that is really tempting."

"Tell me what is going on. Let me try to fix it." Bobbie offers sensing the hesitation.

Penny sighs. "I almost got fired today. I was late for work again and the supervisor called me on it. Basically told me to choose between here and Kelly's cause it was obvious I couldn't do both."

"But Penny, you are scheduled out of Kelly's an hour before you have to be at work over there."

"My relief showed up late." Penny doesn't name names. "I had five minutes to get cross town. I didn't make it." In for a... um... Penny in for a pound. "And there is the other thing."

"What other thing?"

"My tips have been really dropping off. You know I keep a jar by the register? Under the counter?"

"Right for the tables that leave after you do." Bobbie nods. "All the waitresses do that.

"Check my jar... and the tables I had before I left. I had 4 at the counter and three tables. You tell me if the money is right. Oh and Bobbie... one of my tables was Jason Morgan. Look. I have to go or I will get fired for sure."

"Let me look into it and get back to you." Bobbie pleads.

"There have to be changes, Bobbie, otherwise consider this my notice. I can't afford to be fired." Penny hangs up from her end.

Bobbie considers the phone for a minute before hanging up the receiver. "What the hell is going on?" oh the hits just keep coming Bobbie sighs and decides to go beard the lion in his den. She walks down to Stefan's office. Knocking she enters.

"Barbara! Good you got my message."

Bobbie waves the little pink piece of paper. "Have you heard anything from Stavros or Carly?" She makes sure she stays near the door. There is something about proximity to Stefan that caused her to do really stupid things. And considering the way they'd acted in Greece... the desk wasn't out of the question.

"No. But you'll be relieved to know that the funding for the quarter is intact and deposited on schedule. If there are questions from the staff regarding my brother's return I hope you will reassure them." Stefan eyes Bobbie knowingly. His ex wife was keeping a firm grip on the door handle... anchoring herself to the furthest point from him.

Bobbie nods. "Great. Yeah. We're still in business for another three months. Anything else?" get me out of here before I do something stupid.... again.

"I was hoping you'd considered my offer to take Lucas riding this afternoon after school. If he goes directly from school to the island he should be able to get in an hour before dark."

Bobbie sighs and closes her eyes. Is this a battle she wants to fight right now? "Lucas is suppose to go over to Betty's after school. I'm scheduled for a split shift today because I'm teaching a nursing school class. I'll call her and have her drop Lucas off at the launch."

"I'll meet him there if you give me the time." Stefan pulls out his dayminder. "Since you are teaching this evening perhaps you would prefer to have Mrs Lansbury make dinner for all of us... and then you and Lucas can return to the brownstone after dinner?"

"Is that why there is a message here from Mrs Lansbury too?" Bobbie shuffles her messages.

Stefan frowns. "Perhaps. But I don't... clear my schedule with Mrs Lansbury."

"Right I'll call her later. I have to get over to Kelly's. Lucas gets off school at three. I'll call Betty when I call Mrs Lansbury. Anything else?"

"Dinner?" Stefan prompts.

"I'll get back to you." Bobbie says in a rush. "I have to go." Bobbie pulls the door open and flees Stefan's office.

 



Jason looks down to the coffee warehouse below his office. The large window gives him the perfect vantage to see all the action down on the floor. And a good view of the doors if there is ever a bust. His office is also located on at the top corner of the building. There were a couple of different exits. One the door down to the floor and the other... what appeared to be an oversized airvent which was actually a roof access. There were three feet between this and the building next to the warehouse... he'd checked one night when he was bored. The phone rings. "Morgan."

"Jason, it's Bobbie."

"I haven't heard from Carly, Bobbie." Jason cuts straight to the chase. "And I don't expect to... not until she decides she wants to come back to Port Charles."

"That wasn't what I was calling you about... it's good to know but..."

"Why are you calling me then?"

"This is awkward."

"You got a problem, Bobbie?" Jason's voice has gone into fix it mode.

"Jase... you were at Kelly's this morning for breakfast..."

"Yeah. Oh man don't tell me that Luke poisoned everyone again. I feel fine."

"No. It's a condition of the health department keeping us open that Luke doesn't work in the kitchen. Jason, how much of a tip did you leave for Penny?" Jason takes a long time thinking about that one. Bobbie starts talking again. "I told you it was awkward. Penny wanted me to check her tips because she isn't going to be coming into the diner for a few days and wants me to drop them off for her. She's on my way... I thought I'd just give her the money and then collect from the jar."

Bull-shit Jason's detector goes off. "I left her a ten."

"Thanks. I'll talk to you later. Call me when you hear from Carly."

"Yeah, right. Bobbie?"

"Yeah?"

"You're going to tell me what this is really about right?"

Bobbie sighs. "Once I have it figured out myself okay? Talk to you later, Jase." Bobbie hangs up.

Jason looks out over the floor again. There is a smooth system in place. The raw beans on one side of the warehouse in the 75 pound bags. Then orders were sorted out and hauled with a forklift to trucks to go out to the various venders in smaller bags. He eyes one of the workers who is obviously pulling his weight. Picking up the phone he dials down to the floor. "Send Zander up to my office." He watches as the message is relayed. Zander nods and going over to the metal stairs grabs his flannel shirt and pulls it on over his tshirt and goes up to Jason's office.

"You called." Zander's demeanor is a shade under hostile. He wasn't one of Jason's biggest fans nor Jason one of his.

"Yeah. I was wondering what the hell is going on. You were hired to do the bookwork."

"One of the usual guys called in." Zander explains resentfully. "We got an order that needs to go out today." so get off my ass and let me get back to work.

"I won't keep you long." Jason says flatly. "I know what you've been doing."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"You've been running things while I've been gone. I figure you've been basically in charge for the last three months."

"So?"

"You've done a good job. The numbers are right. The projections are higher than expected. You'll be getting a share of the profits from the last quarter. Keep up the good work."

Zander's jaw drops. "Whaaat?"

"The bonus will be in Friday's pay envelope. I'll let Sonny know he did the right thing hiring you to work here." Jason goes back to his paperwork... his demeanor a nonverbal dismissal. One that Zander notices and takes.

 



Bobbie takes a deep breath as she goes into the diner and then stops in her tracks. "Margie, what are you doing here?"

"Elizabeth called." The other waitress finishes bussing a table and balances the tub half filled with dirty dishes and glasses on her hip. "Lucky called and wanted to go to a new club outside of town. She knew I wanted some extra hours and she said she needed to get something to wear. I hope it's not a problem. I do need the hours, Bobbie."

"Sure, no problem." Bobbie goes over to the spindle next to the register. Each ticket was impaled on it with the register tape stapled to the ticket. The old register had been colorful and quite the conversation piece in it's antiquity but it had been a bitch for calculating meal taxes and running totals for each of the waitresses so they could keep track of what the IRS was going to bite them for-- so she'd finally broken down and bought a register from this decade. Bobbie takes the spindle over to the far end of the counter and then pulls all the tickets off of it. She starts sorting them in numerical order.
She notes the handwriting on the tickets... from where Penny stopped and Liz began. She notes the times comparing it to the work schedule and winces. Roughing in the approximate time from the register receipts... she totals Penny's last seven tickets. Then she goes over to the jar underneath the register. There is some change in there... a couple of ones... but no ten. And the total amount is considerably less than ten percent of Penny's gross for those seven tickets.
Penny was too good a waitress to have gotten screwed that way by her customers. Especially the morning crew... they were some of the most loyal customers. Bobbie shakes her head. Going back into the cubbyhole back in the kitchen that passed for an office Bobbie pulls out a Help Wanted sign. Going to the front of the diner she puts it in the window next to the door. "Margie, you said you needed to pick up more hours?"

"Sure... what's going on?"

"You're getting them." Bobbie says grimly as she lines out Elizabeth's name and reworks the schedule putting herself in for a couple of shifts. They'd be running thin until she could hire someone else. And so much for days off. But maybe this way Penny wouldn't quit. Course it meant that it was all going to hit the fan later when Lucky and Luke heard about this.

 



Gia swings back by Deception. "Hey Elton."

Elton looks at Gia's coffee distrustfully. "Is that...?"

"Yep just plain ole coffee from Kelly's."

"That is so... common." Elton shudders. "I could make you a latte, a cuppacino, a mocha breve, a frappachino, a mochachino..."

"Sounds yummy but sometimes you just have to go for the real thing... coffee black-- no creme, no sugar, no steam, no froth. Coffee."

"An espresso. I could make you an espresso that would put hair on your chest!" Gia raises a brow. "Okay bad example."

"I need to pick up my itinerary for the shoot and the travel documents."

"All business." Elton pouts as he sort through the color coded documents on the desk. "Here you go. Everything you need: Car, hotel, plane ticket."

"I'm seeing Lucky tonight. We're all going out to a new club. Do you want me to take him his?"

"You are an angel! Mr Lucky might be an artiste with a camera but he is hell on answering the phone."

"Don't worry I'll make sure he makes the flight." Gia laughs.

"Elton!" Laura comes out of her office. "I was disconnected from Istanbul... can you get them back on the line? We only have three months of essence left and I think they are trying to play the turkish version of hardball with me... Oh Gia. Hello."

"Just hear to pick up the plan for the next shoot." Gia tucks the folder under her arm and holds out her hand to Elton who hands her Lucky's too. "Hope everything works out in Istanbul. Talk to you later, Elton."

"Darling..." Elton buzzes after her toward the elevator. "I do hope you are keeping me in mind for the wedding. I know you and The Prince decided on a long engagement to give yourselves plenty of time...."

"You want to do a royal wedding." Gia shakes her head. "Nik is not into the whole prince thing. We just want a simple wedding family only."

"Darling that is impossible!." Elton smarms. "You are The Face of Deception and you are marrying the Cassadine Prince..."

"Laura... why don't you field this one and let Elton know why we don't want to do the big wedding right about now." Gia looks over Elton's shoulder to Laura. "I don't think that the mother of the groom wants the father of the groom showing up any time soon."

"Mrs Spencer?" Elton turns around to look at Laura's pale face.

Gia takes the break to step back onto the open elevator and shuts the door fast. Pulling out her cell phone, Gia makes a phone call to a voice mail. "Whatever you are doing in Istanbul is working." She hangs up.




Bobbie glances down at her watch. She'd really hoped to talk to Elizabeth today. But there was only a margin of time between the class at the nursing school and going over to Spoon Island to pick up Lucas. She sighs. At least with Mrs Lansbury she knew that Lucas would be having a balanced meal if she was late. She already called Mrs Lansbury and told her to not wait on her... that she'd be there when she could. Liz comes rushing in carrying bags from her shopping trip. Bobbie looks at them grimly knowing exactly where at least part of the money had come from. "I wondered if you were going to your studio and hoped you'd be coming back here."

"Bobbie? Is everything alright?"

"No. Not really. I'm afraid I'm going to have to let you go, Elizabeth."

"Let me go?" Elizabeth says blankly.

"Yes. I 've already rewritten the schedule and your shifts are covered. You'll keep your key for as long as you live upstairs but I think it would be better if you found another place to stay too."

"But... but Bobbie I don't understand." Liz starts to tear up. "You're firing me?"

"I have some really great people working for me here at the diner. People that have been covering up a lot of stuff thinking I wouldn't notice... or that they shouldn't bother me because they know I work fulltime at the hospital. And yeah, I let it slide when you were always late for work... or leaving early... closing early. That was mistake. I should have called you on it. People work here, Elizabeth, because they need the money. They depend on the money to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head. Stealing from other employees will never be tolerated." Bobbie stands up from her seat at the counter. Luckily there had been nobody in the diner for this little conversation. "As far as I'm concerned this is over. I won't be discussing it with anyone... but don't use me for a reference." Bobbie slides on her coat and starts walking toward the door.

"You can't fire me! Bobbie, I need this job."

"I just did, and you should have thought about your job when you were taking money that didn't belong to you." Bobbie doesn't look back.




Gia walks into the cottage and turns on the lights. "Let there be light."

"And there was light." Nik says from the kitchen.

"And it was goooooddddd." Lucky says from behind him.

"Wow both of you." Gia takes off her leather jacket and hangs it over the post of the staircase. "Lucky, I picked up your airplane ticket while I was at Deception."

Lucky comes over and grabs the folder. "Italy. Man I haven't been to Italy since I was... six? The land of pasta."

"Think much with your stomach, Spencer?" Gia teases.

"Always." Lucky puts on a mock hurt expression. "That and music. You both looking forward to tonight?"

"Oh yeah. One of the big perks of my fiance's job." Gia goes over and gives Nik a smooch.

"Comp'd tickets." Nik explains to Lucky after he greets Gia properly. "Ned has been great."

"Especially since you blew him off worse than me when you were trying to snow psycho granny." Gia taps Nikolas on the face and then looking over her shoulder. "I'm going to go upstairs and change."

"Yeah." Lucky pulls on his jacket. "I'll go get Elizabeth."

"We'll meet you at Kelly's." Nik suggests.

"Sounds like a plan."

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