Author: Kat Lee
Fandoms: Batman/Modern Family
Character/Pairing: Jay/Gloria, past Selina/Gloria
Rating: Soft R/M
Challenge/Prompt: fan_flashworks 196: Thief and lands_of_magic: Blind Date (If you join, be sure to tell them Kat Lee of Team Winter sent YOU!)
Word Count: 3,051
Date Written: 4 July 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
It's taken him months to track down every single time his wife has interacted with this thief. He doesn't know the man himself, but he doesn't have to to know he's a thief. He's seen the checks his beautiful, fiercely independent Gloria has written the perp. He's seen how she's covered her tracks, and he knows she would never hide this from him if she was planning on returning to him. But as it is, she's never mentioned the perp or her time in his city, and she waited until he was supposed to be away all weekend for a business meeting for Closets, Closets, Closets, to make her move.
She's hiding from him, and the knowledge of the reason why breaks Jay's heart. He never thought he'd get to keep her forever. He always knew she'd move on after his death, if not before, but he never expected for it to happen this way. This man doesn't want her love. He's not only a thief; he's an idiot, choosing money over a wonderful, beautiful woman like Gloria! His Gloria, or so Jay had thought up until about six months ago when the bank contacted him because of a mysterious check his wife had written. It wasn't the first or the last of those checks, Jay had found out, but it was the first piece of paper in a line that had spelled his ruination, not because Gloria gave away all his money or because he was more concerned about his money than his wife but because he knows that Gloria's only stayed with him as long as she has for his fortune.
She doesn't love him any more. The mere thought still brings tears to Jay's eyes. The woman he loves, the woman he will always love for he's tried to stop loving her and can not, loves another, and that fool, that idiot who stole her from him wants her only for his money! Jay shakes inwardly. His hands ball into fists as he stares at the small diner across the busy street. He knows she's meeting him there. He knows this is the real beginning of the end.
He could walk away, Jay thinks, fly back to Los Angeles, pretend that he never saw the checks, feign surprise when Gloria finally leaves him, try again to make her fall back in love with him . . . But he has tried. He's tried every trick in the book to make her realize that he will do anything for her, to make her want him again, to make her love him again! And none of it has worked. None of it will work, because her heart belongs to this . . . this S. Kyle, whose name is written on the check he now crumples up again in his fist.
He squeezes the paper so tightly in his fist that he hears it rip and knows it will never be readable again, but he takes no comfort out of that fact. It's not the money, after all, that concerns him. He'd gladly give the bastard every cent he's ever made if it would keep Gloria at his side, but nothing will. Their marriage, whatever is left of it, is over. The guys at the office tried so many times back in the beginning of his courtship of the bold, Latina beauty to warn him that a fancier, younger man would eventually come along and sweep his cherished Gloria off her feet, that he would make her forget him or, worse yet, realize that she never loved him in the beginning. Perhaps she didn't love him, but he loved her. He will always love her.
That's exactly why he's got to do this: He's got to stride across that highway, barge into that cafe, and call this bastard out. He can't make Gloria love him again, but he can make her see that this thief only wants his money, not her. He even knows how he's going to do it. All he has to do is offer the thief a fortune, and he'll walk away and never look back at Gloria. It'll break her heart. Perhaps if he was a different man, he might be consoled by the fact that his wife will soon be hurting like she's hurt him, but he doesn't want to hurt her. He loves her too much to hurt her, but if he doesn't cause her the pain now, the bastard will later, long after he's taken her from him, long after she's God knows where in a place where Jay doesn't know where she is and can no longer help her.
At least, doing it this way, doing it his way, he'll know when she falls apart and be there to pick up the pieces. He can make certain she and Manny are going to be okay before he leaves them. A tight lump forms in his throat as he thinks of the kid. He no longer cares if the kid does turn out to be gay like his younger son; he still loves him. Like his mother, he will always love him. He checked on Manny's college fund just yesterday before booking his own ticket for this very trip and was relieved to find that it was not only still safe and in tact but that Gloria had not made any effort to access the account. She would've known he was on to her if she had, because he'd taken her name off of her own son's account. He couldn't stop this bastard from hurting Gloria or himself, but he wouldn't touch Manny.
"All right, Kyle," Jay mutters, gathering all his courage and popping open his door. "Here I come, bastard." He's dealt with more important men than this creep. He's dealt with richer men, more knowledgeable men, bigger crooks too. He's dealt with men both better and worse than the man who's stealing his wife away, but he's never been more afraid to meet some one, even Gloria's family. There's no words he can say, no actions he can take, to make Gloria love him again, but he doesn't want to appear even less of a man than this creep in her eyes. He doesn't want to lose whatever respect she may still have for him.
He forces his tears down and tries to concentrate on his anger as he crosses the street. It won't do to give into them now, but he can't stop remembering how Gloria, even right up until he left her this morning, has continued to play the perfect wife, the perfect lover even. He's never had passion with any one else like they still seemed to have last night, and she didn't even slip up when she came. It was his name she screamed, not this bastard's. It was his name she crooned when she told him again how much she loves him. But it wasn't real, he tells him forcibly as he blows through the cafe's door. It wasn't true, because she doesn't love him. She couldn't be running away with this bastard if she did.
Jay jumps when the little bell tingles behind him on the door. He almost whips around and rips it off, but as he moves to do just that, his eyes catch sight of the most beautiful eyes he's ever known. He sees Gloria gasp, sees him cry out his name in surprise. His hands balling into even tighter fists, his nails biting his palms, Jay strides across the cafe and only stops when he finally takes his eyes from Gloria and looks to the person sitting across from her.
Suddenly, he can't breathe. The room seems to swirl around him. It's not a man at all -- it's a woman! But she's still a thief, he reminds himself though he feels even more like crying now. She's still a damn gold digger, stealing away his beautiful, beloved wife for his money!
"Sir? Sir!" a waitress calls, stepping between him and the table where his wife sits with her lover, a woman whose beauty might almost rivals Gloria's if Jay didn't already know what she is and hate her for it. "Sir, can I help you?"
"YOU CAN GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY!" Jay thunders and pushes the waitress aside, neither realizing or caring that she's a woman.
"YOU!" he bellows, reaching his wife's table and glowering down at the beautiful brunette whose face looks like that of a cat who just swallowed the Master's prized songbird. He had planned to be a gentleman, but now, face to face with the bitch who's stolen his wife, Jay finds he can not be. He's trembling from head to foot with barely controlled anger, and it takes every inch of his control not to slap the bitch clean out of her seat.
The woman's emerald green eyes, which again remind Jay of a cat, glance over him as though he's nothing before looking calmly back over at his wife. "I take it this is your husband?"
"DAMN RIGHT I'M HER HUSBAND!"
"Jay!" Gloria scolds and breaks off into a torrent of heated Spanish.
The bitch looks at him again with the same, calm superior gaze that already skimmed over him. "Then I owe you a debt of thanks, Mister Pritchett, for your generous donation."
Jay loses it! The sound that rips from his lungs sounds far more like a beast than anything even remotely human. His fast slams down for the woman's pompous face, but moving with all the swift, graceful skill of a cat burglar, the woman not only smoothly avoids his blow but slides out of her seat, out from underneath the table, and around to Gloria's side! Jay stumbles, landing abruptly face forward in the vacated seat, and when he finally manages to get back up, he finds Gloria glowering down at him and still spitting Spanish.
Sirens blare, and he's vaguely aware that the cops have probably been called. The first sign that the woman gives that she's finally growing uncomfortable is the way her green eyes slant toward the door at the sound of the sirens. "YEAH!" he shouts triumphantly, still not thinking clearly. "THEY'RE COMING, AND THEY'RE GOING TO HAUL YOUR ASS AWAY!"
"JAY, IF YOU DON'T STOP THIS NONSENSE, THEY ARE GOING TO HAUL YOU AWAY! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!"
"YOU'RE THE ONE FUCKING THIS WOMAN, AND YOU ASK ME WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!"
Gloria's slap across Jay's face echoes through the almost deserted cafe. He blinks as her hand slowly lowers from his face but her finger stays pointing at him. "YOU BETTER START THINKING STRAIGHT! YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE I FUCK! WHERE WAS I LAST NIGHT?!"
"That was an act," he mumbles, rubbing his cheek. Of all the many times he had planned this moment in his head, not once had he ever considered that he might find his cherished wife with another woman or that she might be the one to strike him.
"Gloria," mutters the woman who started all of this mess, "I need to go -- "
"OH, HELL, NO! YOU'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE, BITCH!"
Gloria slaps him again. "Gloria!" the woman hisses urgently.
"Go," Gloria tells her, and Jay roars when she kisses her cheek in front of him. "I'll take care of this!"
Jay grabs for the woman, but somehow, she cleanly avoids his grasping arms and flees through the back of the small cafe. Gloria glowers up at Jay and starts spitting Spanish again as the cops come to a screeching halt before the cafe.
"You've really made a mess of it this time, Jay Pritchett!"
"I'M NOT THE ONE SLEEPING AROUND -- "
She slaps him again. Once more, he rubs his cheek.
"I HAVE NEVER SLEPT AROUND ON YOU!"
Jay blinks and looks at her, for the first time uncertain of his conviction. "You . . . haven't?"
"NO!" She starts off into another tirade of Spanish, but Jay grasps her arm just as an officer walks through the door.
"Release the woman!"
With an irritated sigh and a roll of her eyes, Gloria looks to the cop. "It's okay, Officer. This . . . nincompoop is my husband!"
"Si! He's just a big idiot sometimes!"
"Well, you are!"
"Gloria!" He shakes her this time. Realizing what he's doing, Jay quickly releases her shoulder but still looks at her incredulously. "You weren't sleeping around with her?"
"NO! How many times do I have to say it, Jay?! And in how many languages?! NO! NAO! NON! NO! NO! NO!" Gloria screeches.
Her screams had never sounded better to him, but he still remains uncertain as he thinks of all the checks he's seen that she's written to S. Kyle. "But then what about -- ?" he starts to ask.
"Later," she hisses and cuts eyes sideways at the cops.
He nods, coughs, and offers the policemen a shaky smile. "I'm sorry, Officers," he says sheepishly, stepping up between them and his wife. He scratches the back of his head, from whence he knows he's lost even more hair during these last six months. "This all seems to have been nothing but a huge misunderstanding on my part."
The youngest cop in the group whistles. His eyes rake appreciatively up and down Gloria's body. "If my woman looked like that, I'd be afraid of losing her too!"
Jay reaches behind him and takes Gloria's hand. Her hand feels small, cold, and scared in his grip. "Then you won't mind," he says, smiling confidently, "if we take our leave." She comes to stand directly behind him.
"We still have questions for you, Mister."
"And forms that have to be filled out."
"Fine, fine. I'll fill them out, and I'll pay for the damages here at the cafe." Squeezing Gloria's hand, he releases her and pulls out his checkbook. "How about I make a donation to the Gotham PD while I'm at it? You boys were quick on the answer."
"We have to be," the heavy set Detective mutters, casting glances at the cafe, its workers, and the nervous woman behind the stranger who claims to have caused all of this scene with a matter of confusion, "around here." Something's itching inside of Bullock, and he knows there's something he missed.
But then Jay pulls out a fine, thick cigar from the inside pocket of his shirt. "Mind if I light up, boys, while we discuss this matter?" Bullock eyes the cigar appreciatively and begins to lighten up the moment Jay pulls a second from his shirt and offers it to him. The Commissioner would have his ass for accepting such an easy bribe, but Gordon's nowhere to be seen right now. Besides, this man, he thinks, looking to the beautiful Latina still hiding in his shadow, is clearly a man of taste and reckoning.
Gloria watches, her heart hammering, as Jay continues to smooth things over with the police. It's well over an hour later when they finally emerge into the darkening street. Gloria glances around them. "We should be going home," she murmurs.
"Our plane doesn't leave until Monday," Jay says. Pulling her back against his side, he turns her around and lifts her chin. "Now do you want to tell me what the Hell is going on?"
"Selina's . . . " Gloria pauses, pursing her lips together and trying to find the right words that he will buy without too much pushing. " . . . an old friend. From Miami," she adds quickly.
"One of those friends?"
Gloria nods, and it feels great to have her long, silky hair brushing over his jacket again. "That's why she had to leave when the police were called. She's . . . still wanted. But she has children, Jay," she tells him, careful not to mention the paws or fur those children have. "Lots of children she took in off of the streets in Miami and here and elsewhere."
"And that's who the checks are for?"
"Si." Gloria nods.
Looking into her beautiful eyes, Jay sighs deeply. "You know many men wouldn't believe this. They'd think you were on a date in such a small, cozy cafe, especially since you've been writing these checks and hiding them and your correspondence with this woman for months."
"Have I ever lied to you, Jay?" Gloria croons, sliding her body across his in a partial hug.
Jay glowers down at her.
Gloria sighs. "Fine. But I have ever lied about something this important?"
"No," he has to admit. "So you weren't on a date. And the checks are for the kids."
"I was on a date," she admits. "A date between friends. Between old friends where one has never been lucky in love and always been on the run, often for doing the right thing or maybe the wrong thing but for the right reasons, and the other has been . . . unbelievably blessed with love and money and so many ways to help out her old friends . . . "
Jay sighs, feeling himself cave. It doesn't really matter, he thinks, as long as Gloria loves him. He was never worried about the money any way. "Gloria," he asks slowly, softly, "who do you love?"
She pats his arm as though he's joking. "Don't be silly!" She's grinning, but that grins fades when she sees how gravely serious he is. She cups his head in her hands and pulls his gaze down to keep it locked with hers. "You, Jay! Always! I love you!" And it's the power of her kiss that finally hushes any other questions her husband may have had, successfully stills the words inside of him and moves his tongue into a passionate dance with her own, and ultimately Jay that he was wrong to ever doubt her. The power of her kiss tells him how much she's always loved and will always love him alone, erases all doubts, and makes him believe again in the love they've shared for so many years. And if a certain cat slips further down the elongating shadows of the street with a wink behind Jay's head, nobody has to know except two old, dear friends who have always believed in the power of love.