Chapter Two: THE X FACTOR
Later that night, Joanna had gotten off earlier than usual and decided to head to the Turner Express to chill with Sheena and the rest.
“OOOOHHHH!! Shit!!!” That was the sound of one Joel Cob as he got through with 14 shots but slowing it down with a smooth whiskey. “OK, a drink I can just sip and be refreshed with.”
“At least you’re not naked again.” Kati said.
“Oh, that one time!” Cob said.
“Yeah. One plus 5 times 5.” she retorted back.
“And I don’t have to pick up your underwear again.” Kai said.
“Nor do I.” Sheena said, “Then again, we get Yon to do it.”
“As you should.” Kati said.
“HEY BABE!” Sheena shouted as she sees Joanna walked in and gradually hugged her. “You got off early! YAY!!”
But Joanna looked tired as all hell.
“YAY….but I am pretty drained from today.” Joanna said.
“You went to tell us about it?” Kai said, “We got all…(she checks her watch)….2 hours. You can tell me about your day.”
A few minutes into the conversation…..
“OW!!! OK….I guess a first time for something.” MAK shouted as Joanna was telling them that she shot a guy in his balls.
“Yeah…..I remember my first time doing that.” Kati said. “Good times…..laughed my ass off.”
“We all know.” Yuan and MAK said in unison.
“So it seems like you’re back to good graces with the Faction?” Sheena asked.
“Kinda.” Joanna said.
“Kinda?” Kai replied, “That seems like you’re not so sure about it.”
“No, no. I am.” Joanna said, “It just doesn’t look like an easy feat.”
“Well…..no one ever said it would be easy.” Kai said, “I know you being late today might have been a slip-up but a little can go a long way.”
“Yeah, that’s true.” Joanna said, “But it’s another thing that’s been on my mind today.”
“Hmmm?” Sheena, Kati, Yuan, MAK and Kai gathered to her.
“OK, I guess that got your attention that fast….but someone from my past needed my help today. Well, someone that was related to somebody from my past needed my help today.”
She emphasize that part as Sheena felt like she knew who she was talking about.
“From your past?” Kati asked.
“A friend’s sister.” Joanna went on, “You see, her mom is running a bakery and she’s been getting hustled and harassed by some corrupt cops along with their own guys on their side of town. I told the Faction I want them to be under protection as we bust those guys. I owe it to that family…..and I owe it to him, too. I just wish he was here today.”
“Him?” MAK said.
“Oh yeah…..” Joanna said, “He was a high school friend from back in the day. We was always tight with each other and got each other’s back when times were tough and share everything about one another.”
“What was his name?” MAK asked her.
“Tyrell.” she said without hesitation. “Tyrell Ortiz.”
FLASHBACK – 9 years ago
We cut to late night at an house with the lights dimmed and soft music playing in the background as Joanna and Tyrell were having sex in her room while her parents were out.
“Oh….Tyrell….” she moaned as they were kissing each other. He went down to her belly button and starts to move back up, to her cleavage.
“Oh, yes…..I want you to take it off for me.” she said.
“Take it off?” he said.
“Yes….” She said before kissing him again. He unhooked her bra and started to lick her breasts.
She softly moans as she got licked. She started to notice something down Tyrell’s boxers getting bigger.
“Oh, you must love sucking my tits right now?” Joanna said.
“Oh, yes, baby.” Tyrell said.
“So…..can I go down and start to suck on……”
Tyrell smiled and that meant a yes. She pulled down his boxers and she started to suck on his dick but not before…..
“JOANNA!!” MAK said, snapping her back to reality. “I take it you and him were close.”
“Oh….um. Yeah, we were.” Joanna said, “He was one of the first real friends I had in high school…No, scratch that, real friend in general…. I just wish he was alive to help me out.”
“Al–Oh……oh shit…..” MAK said, “Sorry, I…”
“I know. You didn’t know.” Joanna said. “But now……I just hope they go through with this and actually include me on it.”
“Come on, J.” Sheena said, “I’m sure they’ll go through with it….but with you? Well….”
“Well, what?” Joanna said.
“Yeah,” Kai said, “You know the trope of they won’t let the cop personally get involved in either family or friends get involved in a mission? Well, I don’t think they’ll allow you in there. They may think since you know the family and if one of the corrupt cops notice that about you or them, they might do something to put yourselves in more danger.”
“I can be careful with that.” Joanna said, “I can get someone to–”
“If you’re talking about Tomoki and Cassie, good luck.” MAK said, “I think they’re laying low again after that last event we did.”
“And you know if the Faction spots any of us getting involved, they’ll be pissed all over again.” Yuan said. “That and more fire will be thrown at you.”
While they were still talking, one guy walked in with a lit cigarette as he threw it into someone’s drink.
“Well, well, well……this sorry-ass bar still manages to be alive and kicking.” the rude guy shouted, “I guess standards are set low as fuck coming here.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!!” Yuan said as he turned around. “Who in the fuck are y–”
The others, particularly Sheena, were all in gasp to see who was right at their bar.
“No……” Sheena said.
The guy standing there was Carter York, the ex-boyfriend of Sheena and trollish troublemaker for the bar.
“Did you all miss me?” Carter said, “Because I know I missed the lot of you as much as you do me. I see the usual people here getting sauced as always. I see the dork and the Penguin still running this place to the ground.”
“Dork?!” Yuan said.
“Oh what? You always knew people called you that.” Carter said. Then Kati walked forward to his face.
“And you’re still the dickhead from all those times.” she said.
“Times haven’t changed, didn’t they, short rib?” he said and those last choice of words echoed throughout Kati’s mind.
“You motherfucker!!” She tried to attack him but he then flashed out something in the form of a card.
“The fuck is that?” MAK said.
“You see, this is my own personal get-out-of-jail free card.” he said, “Or more like my ‘keeping me from jail’ card. I got granted some immunity since we heard the owners of this place aren’t as stable as they used to be.”
“Unstable?” Kati said, “OK. That’s it.” Kati got out her bat and was ready to swing at him.
“You know you’ve proven my point, right?” he said. “Hit me and I’ll make sure this place will go down faster than a teenage girl in a hotel at prom night.”
He then spies Sheena and the rest.
“Ah….Sheena. Long time no see.” he said, “It’s been a while since you ended things with us.”
“I ended things with you because you’re an abusive, lying, cheating piece of shit.” She said, “What do you want with us?”
“What? I can’t talk to an old ex?” he said.
“You mean in front of her new beau?” Joanna jumped in.
“New beau?” Carter said, “You already moved on? Who’s the new dude?”
“That’s me, genius.” Joanna said, “I happen to be the new person in her life.”
“Well…..that doesn’t surprise me.” Carter said, “I figured that eventually you would go lesbian on me sooner or later when we broke up.”
“Go lesb–” Sheena got pissed off, “You mean I would choose somebody more faithful and less of a dick like you.”
“I figured you and that Kai girl would eventually scissor each other when she dumped that loser boyfriend of hers.” he said.
“You little bitch…..” MAK took offense on that.
“What? I’m amazed that you kept a girl like that for so long.” Carter said.
Then MAK flashed him the finger and his wedding band. “Well, guess what? I’m married now, bitch.”
“Oh….” Carter said, “I guess that’s one less blue freak and one less girl with a neon fetish that’s single. I hate to imagine your kids years later.”
Kai then got up to his face.
“Wow, you really got a mouth on you today.” Kai said.
Carter then retorted with, “That’s what he said after you sucked on his d–”
Then a bunch of guns pointed at him from MAK, Yuan and Kati as they were getting tired of him and his mouth.
“OK, you big mouth motherfucker.” MAK said, “You might be back from jail but if you try and mess with us…you’ll be back in there in no time flat.”
“We can refuse service to an asshole like you.” Yuan said, “You’re rude to our customers and harassing employees here. Your immunity can’t protect you from that.”
“I’ll just keep this short.” Kati said, “GET THE FUCK OUT!!”
“I told you dicks and cunts before!” Carter said, “You touch me and I’ll make sure this bar will go away forever!”
Sheena then got up and went to grab him by the collar.
“What…..do……you…..want from us?” Sheena said bluntly.
“Now, now, Sheena….” Carter said, “I would say I’m not here to start a war here…..because all of you already started it.”
“STARTED IT!?” Joanna said.
“You three fuckers got me thrown in jail!” As Carter was pointing to Sheena, Kai and MAK.
“You deserved to be in jail, bitch!” MAK said.
“You’re one to talk, Mr. Blue Hybrid.” Carter said, “I hear about the shit going on around you and you’re not exactly a fucking saint.”
“At least I don’t harass women in bars with your pitiful-ass!” MAK said.
“What sensible woman would want you!?”
Kai then got up and sternly told him, “I think you need to get out of here right now. It’s clear that no one wants your ass here.”
“Well, Kai….” he then snatches her by the collar.
“YOU SON OF A—”
Carter got himself a gun aimed at MAK.
“Yeah, I’m going to be here for a long time. I’ll be doing this every damn day until I break you fuckers.”
“So being an asshole’s not enough for you?” Sheena said, “You do this?”
“I figured while I keep coming here, I might as well fuck with your two friends here.” Carter said, “And maybe your new girl there. I mean, she got enough tits to suck on for days.”
Joanna took hard offense to that but she stopped herself from doing something regretful.
“I hope you know you happen to say that to a Faction agent.” Joanna said, “I will have you arrested.”
“Yeah, sure.” Carter said. “Then I can reverse that, sue you and your precious Faction and you’ll end up unemployed just your two girlfriends as soon as I’m through with you.”
Carter eventually leaves the place.
“That’s your ex, huh?” Joanna asked.
“That’s him.” Sheena said.
“And that dude is a dead man!!” Kati said, “The nerve of this asshole trying to disrupt our business and then threatens us.”
“Especially that part.” Kai said.
“I should’ve beat his slimy ass when he got a grip on you.” MAK said, “He’s not getting away with that shit!”
“But he has that special immunity card.” Yuan said, “He’s free to do whatever he wants.”
“Who in the fuck would give him a card like that?” Sheena said.
“I guess higher-ups in the Society.” Joanna said, “Some folks can allow someone to do that.”
“But him!?” Sheena said, “Of all the people that suffered a lot of injustice today, they give that pardon to an abusive asshole. Oh great……” She sat down in anger while pouring herself a shot.
Back at the apartment, Sheena and Joanna were trying to get some sleep but Joanna has a lot of going on her mind from trying to get in on protecting the Ortiz family to Carter appearing in the Turner Express.
“Sheena?” Joanna said, trying to wake her up but she isn’t responding. “Sheena!”
Sheena was still sleeping but then uttered, “Joanna, you still up?”
“Yeah….” she said, “I’ve been thinking about something…..you know that I told you about with me and Tyrell, right?”
“Yes, you did.” Sheena said. “I don’t want to bring up that unfortun–”
“But….you haven’t said much about you and Carter?” Joanna said.
“Uggh…..after what you saw of him earlier, you know why I don’t want to bring him up.” Sheena said, “He’s literally the guy you regret seeing after you saw his ugly side of him talking shit about you behind your back, seeing other girls while having his friends lie to you directly at your face and when you catch him doing that, he denies it and says that I’m being paranoid!”
She punches her pillow in frustration.
“And the worst thing is that I was too late to realize that shit. I was one of those girls that thought ‘Hey, a very cool guy likes me’ and the rest is history.”
“Wow….he seems like the worst.” Joanna said.
“Very.” Sheena said, “And now, he might do something about our friends, the places we go to…..hell, he has power to shut down the Faction if he wanted to. He might go to you and….”
“Sheena….if he ever tries to mess with me or anyone we know, we’ll make him regret doing that.” Joanna said. “Also, you know Kati, Kai and especially MAK can take care of themselves with him.”
“I know. I know.” Sheena said, “But after that one time you got shot because I didn’t follow your lead…..I don’t want anything like that to happen to us again.”
“Oh……” Joanna said, but she hold her in comfort and said, “I promise nothing like that is going to happen to us again.” And then she kisses her.
“I hope so.” Sheena said.
They were about to go to sleep but then Sheena had to ask her one more thing.
“Wait, Joanna…..what’s the case you’re trying to get on about Tyrell’s family?”
“Here’s the thing……his family is being threatened by these two cops in the mom’s bakery. I heard they heard some goons to rough her up to send a message.” Joanna said, “We’re trying to get them into protection under us and make sure those guys won’t harm another person ever again.”
“In other words, corrupt cops are involved?” Sheena asked.
“Yep, one of the top 3 things that I loathe in this world.”
“What’s the other two?”
“That styrofoam noise and coconut.” Joanna said. “Although you already know that tidbit.”
“I didn’t know you was ALLERGIC!!!”
THE NEXT MORNING
The Ortiz Family arrived at the Faction offices that morning to meet up any potential protection services for them.
“Hello?” Raina said.
“They said to meet here at this time?” Katrina, the middle sister said. “And this is the place that Jo works at?”
“She said that she can get us some protection from those guys?” Maria, the younger sister, said.
“I know her.” Raina said, “I can tell that she’s determined to do this for us.”
“She better.” Katrina said, “I’m tired of his goons trying to peep at me whenever I get a jelly-filled doughnut spilled on me.”
Soon, they hear her outside with Gina carrying her and Joanna screaming not to drop her.
“You’re not gonna drop me like last time?” Joanna shouted.
“HEY! That was an accident!” Gina yelled.
“But near a dumpster at the Steak and Bake!?”
“They had filet mignon and Chocolate Cheesecake! You wanted it, too!” Gina said.
Gina gently put Joanna down to the ground in time to meet the girls.
“Morning.” Joanna said.
“Hey, J.” Raina said, “I didn’t know you arrived in style…ish.”
“Joanna……” That was the words of the mother, Milenna.
“Oh…..Milenna.” Joanna said.
“It’s nice to see you again even if it’s under these circumstances.” she said wearing sunglasses in the room.
“I’d ask how you’re doing but….yeah.” Joanna said.
“And to think, it’s been only a year since we last met face-to-face.” she said.
Jiro and Sei then came along to meet them. “So this is the family I’ve been hearing about from Yubari.”
“Yes….I’m Mileena Ortiz.” she said.
“Um, miss, you know you can take off your sunglasses.” Jiro said.
“I rather not, Mr….”
“Matsuda.” Jiro said, “Is there a reason why..”
She then showed the black eye.
“Oh my Lord.” he said.
“Let’s get straight into our services.” Sei said as she allowed the family into the office but kept Joanna out of there.
“Huh? What the?” Joanna said.
“Uh, Joanna?” Jiro said, “Look, we need to talk.”
“OK….” She seems confused about what’s going on right now.
Meanwhile at the room…..
“Excuse me?” Raina said, “Shouldn’t Joanna be a part of this, too? She is going to help us, right?”
“Well, that’s what I want to talk to you about.” Sei said.
“Oh no….don’t tell me she’s been faking it all these years.” Katrina said.
“No, that’s not it.” Sei said, “Joanna is very legit about her position at the Faction and we’re glad she recommended us when you are in need of help.”
“So will you help us with this?” Mileena asked. “Please, Ms. Goto, I can’t keep giving my hard-earned cash to those damn cops…and have them harass my daughters.”
“Ms. Ortiz…wait, it is Ms. or Mrs.?”
“OK then.” Sei said, “Ms. Ortiz, I can assure you that the Faction will have your back on this.”
Back outside, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M NOT IN!!?” Joanna screamed, “I can’t be in assistance to them?”
“Look, I know these are people that are close to you and now thinking about it, it would be a terrible idea for you to be involved in this.”
“TERRIBLE? HOW!?” Joanna said.
“How you seen any cop show where some main characters’ friend or wife or family member gets killed and they’ll go crazy trying to find the murderer.” Jiro said, “I know you mean well but we can’t risk that shit.”
“I can get past that!!” Joanna said, “Look, this family has been through a bunch of hell and I just don’t mean right now.”
“You mean the file on Tyrell Ortiz we found while researching them?” Jiro said, “Yes, we know about the incident with the cop shooting him at a grocer 8 years ago. I get it, this family doesn’t need anymore shit flung upon them. But you know you can’t interfere with this.”
“They’re going to need a familiar face to help them!” Joanna said, “I’m that face!”
“I’m sorry, Joanna.” Jiro said, “But we can’t risk you and their safety if someone connects you and them and…..Yeah. End of story. You’re not in on the mission. You can check up with them but you can’t get too close to it. Again, I’m sorry.”
Jiro then walked back to the room with the family and Sei to confirm their protection deal while Joanna just walks away from there, without making a scene in there.