Disclaimer: I don't own Jackie Chan Adventures nor do I own Destiny Coffee and Tea
'blah' means thoughts
Ding, ding, ding. As the last bell signaling, the end of the day rang, the entire class packed up and left the room, except one girl. The high schooler's black hair hung loose, reaching the middle of her back, and her brown eyes were trained on her notebook as she finished her homework. When she put the conclusion to her Language Arts essay, a smile crept onto her face. Her Uncle Jackie never figured out how she never had homework on Fridays. She always used her Study Hall period to finish her homework, because Uncle Jackie said if her homework was done on Friday, she could take on assignments at Section 13. The other days she trained under Tohru as a chi witch. The seventeen-year-old closed her notebook and slid it and her mechanical pencil into her backpack. Slinging it over her right shoulder, she made her way to her locker. After waving to Frank, Rocko, and Charlie (her fellow Dragon Scouts) as they passed, she spun the dial of her locker. Once open, she pulled her books and notebooks out of her bookbag to put them in her locker, and froze. There laying on the bottom of her locker was a white envelope with her first name written in beautiful calligraphy. Jade.
Jade Chan snatched the envelope up and stuffed it in her bookbag before she placed her books and notebooks in its place. She closed her locker and began to walk home. As she walked, she dug her envelope out and extracted the letter from it.
I assure you this is neither a joke nor a prank. I also assure you that I intend you no harm. I simply wish to exchange letters as pen pals for now. I do not wish to divulge my real name at this moment, but I will in the future. If you wish to exchange letters with me, please leave me a letter in your locker during the week or in your mailbox during the weekend and/or school breaks. If you do not wish to communicate with me, I will abide by your wishes and after waiting a week for a reply and receiving none, I will not bother you again. I am anxiously waiting for a reply.
'A pen pal? It couldn't hurt to reply. I will be asking for a picture and some background information. I would like to know to whom I am writing.'
With that last thought, Jade folded up the letter and slid it back into the envelope. After putting the envelope back in her bookbag, Jade entered Uncle's Rare Finds.
“Welcome to-oh, welcome home, Jade,” Uncle greeted.
“Hello, Uncle. Is Uncle Jackie at Section 13?”
“Yes. You are to join him now that you are home.”
“One more thing. Tohru is buying groceries.”
“Okay.” Jade started up the stairs.
“One more thing.” Jade stopped. “Uncle made a sale.
” Jade smiled. “Great job, Uncle. Was it an exceptionally valuable piece?”
“Yes, a very valuable piece indeed. I got $10,000 for the Ming vase that used to be over there.” Uncle pointed at a bookcase that had an obviously vacant spot.
“Great, but, listen, I've got to get going. They're waiting for me at Section 13. I've just got to put my bag away first.”
“Fine, fine. Uncle might make another sale,” Uncle said, dismissively.
Jade shook her head as she ascended the stairs. She stashed her bag upstairs and took the express route back down. Once she reached the bottom of the stairs, she jumped off the banister, did a flip, and landed lightly on her feet. She snagged her black track jacket and called out, “Bye, Uncle. Oh, bye, Tohru.”
Tohru had just come in as Jade was preparing to leave.
“See ya, Jade.”
The newest agent for Section 13 walked to the super secret underground base and rode the phone booth into the base. Seeing Captain Black walking among the various agents, Jade stepped up to him. “Agent Jade Chan reporting for duty.”
“Agent Chan, I need you to team up with your uncle. There's a disturbance at Candlestick Park. Could be magic related so I'm sending my two magic experts.” His cell phone rang, he withdrew it from his pocket, and answered it. “Black. Ah, yes. Hang on for a moment.” He put the phone to his shoulder. “Go on your mission, Jade.”
“Yes, sir.” As Jade turned to leave, she eavesdropped on Black's phone conversation.
“Thank you for holding. Yes, she's on a mission. I assume you're checking in? That's fine. I'll see you on Monday then.”
When Black ended the call, Jade hurried to meet up with Jackie. “There you are, Jade. I assume Captain Black briefed you on our assignment.”
“Yup. Let's go to Candlestick Park.”
As they headed for the baseball stadium, Jackie noticed that Jade was preoccupied. “Penny for your thoughts?”
“While Captain Black was debriefing me, he had a phone call. Normally, he takes the call, right? Well, this time he put the person on hold to finish talking to me. I did hear the conversation. Captain Black is meeting someone on Monday.”
“Well, it is a little strange, but maybe it was a social call.”
“You mean, like a date. Ch. Like Captain Black has a social life.”
“You never know, Jade. In any case, we're here.”
Jackie and Jade slowly looked around before Jade asked, “What are we looking for?”
“Anything out of the ordinary. There was a major earthquake this morning.”
“We live in San Francisco, home of earthquakes. Duh.”
“A completely isolated earthquake? That is unusual.”
All of a sudden, another earthquake occurred, startling both Chans. A crack appeared in the outfield of the diamond. It widened into a chasm, in which a small explosion occurred, and a dozen small objects were thrown out of the chasm. Jade instinctively caught one of the objects as they rained down on the field. It was the Dragon Talisman! Jade picked up another one of the objects near her left foot. It was the Rabbit Talisman!
“Jackie! The talismans are back!” Jade ran over to her Uncle and showed him the two talismans she picked up. “Look.”
One look was all Jackie needed. “Let's collect them and bring them to Section 13.”
They collected all twelve and placed them in a bag Jackie happened to have on him. They transported the talismans back to Section 13, and when they informed Captain Black of their find, he ordered the pedestal placed back in the vault.
Jackie and Jade carefully arranged the talismans on the pedestal. Jade gazed at the talismans on display. “I can't believe they're back.”
“Like Uncle says, the power the talismans possess cannot be destroyed.”
“I'm happy they're back.”
“No showing off, Jade.”
“You don't have to tell me, Jackie. I’m not a child anymore.”
“True but the talismans have been missing for five years. Anything can happen in five years.”
%%% LATER THAT EVENING
Jade sat in the loft part of Uncle's shop with the letter from V in front of her. She had decided to reply to the letter and ask for a picture and some biographical information. After signing the letter, she sealed it in an envelope, put a simple 'V' on the front, and placed it in the mailbox. She paused, thought for a moment, and then flipped up the little red flag on the side of the mailbox, figuring V would take it as a sign that she wrote back.
As the next day was Saturday, Jade slept in until ten in the morning. She wanted to see if there was a reply to her letter. She threw on a pair of faded blue jeans and a blue t-shirt, ran a brush through her hair, and slid down the banister. After executing a flip, she dashed out the door barefoot and over to the mailbox. She opened it, noting the flag was down, and laying there was a letter. She grabbed it and closed the mailbox. After opening the letter, her enthusiasm level dropped a little at the lack of relevant information.
Thank you for replying to my letter. As for the information you asked for, it will be in my next letter, which you will receive tomorrow. I apologize for the shortness of this letter, but I wanted you to know I received your letter and to expect another letter tomorrow.
'My pen pal's considerate and polite. I like that,' she thought as she folded the letter, put it back in its envelope, and headed back into Uncle's shop.
Saturday passed without incident. Jade actually spent the entire day in the vault with the talismans. She didn't even touch them; she just say near one of the walls, reading some of the spell books Tohru suggested. It surprisingly took less convincing for Captain Black and Jackie to let her spend the day in the vault.
Sunday dawned beautiful and without a cloud in the sky. Once again, Jade got dressed in blue jeans but put on a purple shirt and dashed down the stairs and out the door to the mailbox. She opened it, revealing the anticipated letter. Instead of opening it right there, she took it back into the shop and up the stairs. Taking a deep breath, Jade sat on the love seat and opened the envelope. She withdrew the letter and the accompanying picture. She looked at the picture first. It was of a teenage boy (about her age was her guess). He had blue eyes, tan skin, and silvery-white hair down to his mid-back kept back in a ponytail. There was a single, small, gold hoop earring in his right ear, and he was wearing a long sleeve green shirt.
'He's handsome,' Jade thought as she opened the letter. 'But familiar.'
As requested, I have included a picture of myself, and here's the rest of the information you requested. My name is V (for now); my birthday is September 28, 1988; my birthplace is London, England; and I live in San Fransisco. My skills and abilities include my intelligence and my aptitude for engineering. I am a skilled martial artist and a skillful strategist. I will end this letter with one piece of information you did not ask for. We have a mutual acquaintance, Augustus Black, Head of Section 13.
Disappointment flooded Jade at not finding out her pen pal's name, but it left as suddenly as it came when the last sentence sank in. 'Captain Black knows who my pen pal is. Maybe I can get him to tell me more or even what his name is.'
Jade placed the letter and picture back in the envelope and left Uncle's shop, heading for Section 13.
Upon reaching the secret base, Jade sought out the captain. “Captain Black, may I have a moment of your time privately?”
“Sure.” Captain Black led Jade into a meeting room and sat behind the desk. “What can I help you with?”
Jade placed the letter and picture on the desk facing Captain Black. “Know him?”
Captain Black looked at the picture. “Yes. I know him.” Seeing Jade looking expectantly at him, he continued, “His name isn't for me to tell you, but what I can tell you is he is a good guy. He was bad, but has changed his ways and is interested in getting to know you better.”
“To be honest, I'd like to meet him.”
“Well, write him back, giving him the same information he gave you, and tell him you want to meet him next Saturday,” Captain Black suggested.
“I think I will.” Jade collected the letter and picture and went to leave the room.
“Before you leave, Jade, take this to keep the letters in.” Captain Black pulled out a shoe box size box and handed it to her.
“Thank you.” Jade took the box and left the room and went back to Uncle's shop.
She went back upstairs and put the letters in the box, the first on the bottom. She sat the box to the side and wrote her reply.
Thank you for the picture and the answers. I feel that I owe you the same. My name is Jade Chan; my birthday is April 9, 1988; my birthplace is Hong Kong; and I live in San Fransisco. I have been praised for my intelligence. I am good with puzzles and am a martial artist.
As for your last statement, I talked to Captain Black, and he told me that you used to be bad but not anymore. I would like to meet you face-to-face. Is Saturday afternoon at three good for you? If so, we can meet at the coffee shop down the street from Uncle's Rare Finds.
She sealed the letter in an envelope and put a cursive 'V' on the front. She laid it on her bookbag, intending on dropping it in the mailbox on her way to school the next morning.
After classes, Jade found another letter in her locker. Deciding to read the letter at home, Jade found the walk home agony. After what seemed like two hours, she arrived home and sped upstairs. Sitting down, she opened the envelope and read the letter.
I would love to meet you, and I am indeed free on Saturday. I cannot wait to see you.
Jade smiled as she put the latest letter in the box. 'I can't wait for Saturday.'
The rest of the week passed in a blur of school assignments and chi spells. Soon enough, it was once again Friday. Jade finished her homework in Study Hall and walked home, only to leave minutes later, heading for Section 13.
Seeing Captain Black, Jade came up to him. “Agent Chan reporting for duty.”
“Sorry, Jade. I don't have an assignment for you today.”
Jade was a little surprised to say the least. There was usually something for her to do. An idea hit her. “Captain Black, request permission to test the talismans. Someone should make sure each talisman has the proper power, and who better than a magic expert without an assignment.” At Captain Black's raised eyebrow, she added, “Don't forget the time I was T-Girl and Uncle transferred the wrong powers to each of the talismans. We wouldn't want to be in a crisis, need the talismans, and not be sure which power lies within which talisman.”
“You have a point. All right. Agent Chan, your assignment is to test the powers of the talismans.”
Jade grinned and saluted her superior. “Yes, sir.”
Jade walked beside Captain Black as they made their way to the vault. The captain swiped his card and entered his passcode. The vault door swung open, and Captain Black said, “Your assignment, Agent Chan.”
Jade stepped inside the vault, set down her knapsack, and walked over until her toes were right in front of the grid. Captain Black went over to the next control panel and typed in a password. The grid deactivated, and Jade crossed over to the pedestal holding the talismans.
“I'll leave you to your work,” Captain Black said before he left.
Jade set about categorizing the talismans into three groups; safe to test herself, not safe to test herself, and unable to test herself. The first group was the largest, having seven of the talismans in it. She proceeded to test the first group, starting with the rooster talisman. She went through the rooster, rabbit, ox, sheep, snake, and monkey, confirming their powers. She picked up the horse talisman, held it near a scrape on her arm and said, “Please heal me.”
The talisman lit up, and the magic contained within healed the teenager. Satisfied with those seven talismans, she placed them back in their spots on the pedestal. She then went over to her knapsack and pulled out a Super Moose stuffed animal. She normally didn't carry it around, but her gut feeling told her to take it with her to Section 13, and she always listened to those feelings. Those were the feelings that led her to follow Jackie on the assignments from Section 13 when she first moved to America all those years ago.
She carried the toy over to the pedestal and pressed the rat talisman into the toy where it was partially absorbed. The toy instantly came alive with the cry, “I'm Super Moose!”
Jade grinned. She grabbed the dog, dragon, and pig talismans. “Okay, here's the situation. You and I have to test these talismans. I will give you this one,” Jade handed the dog talisman to the re-animated toy, “and I will shoot at you with these. Do not dodge. The talisman will protect you.”
Jade first activated the pig talisman and shot heat beams from her eyes at Super Moose, who in turn was protected by the dog talisman. Next, Jade dragon blasted it, and again, it was protected.
“Excellent,” Jade said. “I will take the talismans back and put them away.”
The toy handed over the dog and rat talismans, instantly becoming stuffed once again. Jade put the four talismans back in their spots on the pedestal and noticed that the tiger talisman was all that was left. Since the other eleven talismans contained the proper abilities, there was no need to check of the power of balance was inside, so it was put back as well.
She grabbed the toy and stuffed it back in her knapsack before pulling out her cell phone and calling Captain Black. “Captain Black, Jade. I'm all done at the vault. Really? Sure. 092888 and INTERPOL. Got it. What? My own card? Cool! I'll be right out.”
She hung up her phone and typed in the password to reactivate the grid. She took out a little notebook and wrote down both the passcode and the password. She put the notebook away and left the vault, slinging her knapsack over her right shoulder. After a quick stop with Captain Black, who gave her the promised card, Jade headed back to Uncle's Rare Finds.
Friday night and Saturday morning seemed to crawl by for Jade, who was excited for her meeting at three o'clock. 'Maybe I can finally find out his name!'
Finally, at 1:30, she decided to get ready. She stood in front of her closet, unsure of what to wear. She wanted to look nice but still be casual. It took her an hour ans fifteen outfit changes, before she settled on a cherry red v-neck paired with light colored skinny jeans. Adding slip-ons completed the look. After fussing with her hair for ten minutes, she gave up and left it hanging loose. She snagged her black track jacket and her purse before leaving the shop and heading down the street to Destiny Coffee and Tea.
Arriving ten minutes early gave Jade a chance to peruse the menu as she hadn't been there in awhile. She was so engrossed in figuring out what she was going to order she nearly jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
“Jade, it's me. I apologize for startling you,” the teen said.
Jade looked at him, noting the hair and eye color. “It's all right, V. I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings.”
“Shall we order?”
They stepped up to the counter, and after being prompted, ordered their drinks. “I'll have a latte,” Jade said, pulling her wallet out.
A hand gently placed on hers stilled the movement. “I will cover the cost,” he said to Jade before addressing the woman behind the counter, “please add a Chai Tea to the order.”
He pulled out a plain born leather wallet out of his right back pocket and withdrew a ten dollar bill from it. After handling the transaction, the two teens, after waiting for their drinks, carried them to a table near the windows in the front of the shop. Jade sat her latte on the table and hung her jacket on the back of the chair and laid her purse on her lap after she sat down She stared at the guy sitting across from her. He looked exactly like he did in the picture he gave her, and as she stared at him, she overcome with the sensation of deja vu. She knew it wasn't the coffee shop or having a drink to surmise it was V. She knew him somehow. It was the same feeling she got when she looked at his picture.
He noticed her staring and asked, “Is there something wrong?”
Jade shook her head. “Not wrong per se. I just have a case of deja vu. When I saw your picture, I felt that you looked familiar, and now, I know you're familiar. I just can't figure out where we met.”
“Ah, I was hoping to have this conversation later, but I can see your determination. I admire that. So, during my explanation, please don't interrupt.” Seeing Jade nod, he took a deep breath. “I'm Valmont. The last time we met was the mess with the split Oni mask. You remember how that ended. I was wrapped up and labeled for shipping to Mexico. I did end up there, unable to return to the states. I had to reach out to the only person who could help, though I wasn't sure he would. I will admit the call surprised Captain Black, but his willingness to help surprised me. He did have his conditions. I had to serve one year in prison, and then four years probation with him serving as my probation officer. While serving my prison sentence, I earned my CDL and was a bus driver. My last time I drove a bus it nearly went over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was saved by Captain Black, your uncle, and a couple others. I've been checking in with Captain Black every week via phone and in person once a month. I am completely reformed and since I was no longer consumed by greed, I could think clearly, and I realized I was interested in getting to know people better, especially you. Only last week, Captain Black has taken me off probation, calling it time served, and has made me an unofficial agent of Section 13. Captain Black has also approved of my transformation. He pulled some strings and flew me to China to meet an old chi wizard, who was more than willing to concoct a permanent potion to once again reduce my age.”
He ended his story and waited for Jade to say something. He purposely left out why he wanted to be young again. He didn't want to say anything, especially if Jade was disgusted and rejected his friendship.
Jade was stunned throughout the majority of the story as revelation after revelation was revealed. Suddenly, Captain Black's words from Sunday came to mind. He is a good guy. He was bad, but has changed his ways and is interested in getting to know you better.
Taking her silence as rejection, Valmont sighed inaudibly. “I understand if you do not wish to be friends. I will not bother you anymore...Miss Chan.”
Standing up to leave, Valmont took one last look at Jade, who seemed to come out of some sort of trance. Before he got too far, an arm shot out, and a hand grabbed his wrist. The platinum-haired teenager looked at the owner of the hand and was surprised to see Jade preventing him from leaving. “Please stay, V. I would like to get to know the new you some more. Besides, if Captain Black vouches for you, you can't be all bad.”
Valmont smiled and reclaimed his seat. “Thank you, Jade.”
“I do have one question. Why did you wish to be young again?”
“To be honest, I have fallen in love with you. I know you know hardly anything about me. I am willing to start slow, being just friends, if you are willing.”
“Slow is good. Friends...for now.” Jade smiled. 'In love with me? Well, he is handsome.' “So, do you have any family around here?”
“No, my older sister and my mum are in England.”
“What about your father?”
“He's dead,” he replied in a soft voice.
“It's okay. It was a long time ago.”
“What's your favorite color?”
Valmont grinned. “Green. Yours?”
“Blue. Favorite food?”
“Regular or junk food?”
“Fettuccine Alfredo and ice cream. How about you?”
“Tex Mex and funnel cakes.”
“I've never had a funnel cake.”
“It's one of the best dessert in the history of desserts. So, what's your favorite talisman?” Jade whispered the last word.
“Dragon. It's too bad they aren't around anymore.”
“Why do you say that?”
“They would be useful on some missions Captain Black gives out. Also, they are how we first met.”
Jade blushed slightly. “Well, since it's not classified to agents already in the know, I can tell you. A little over a week ago, Jackie and I were investigating localized seismic activity, and after a pretty large quake, a chasm opened up, and the talismans were thrown out, and they're resting in one of the secured vaults in Section 13.”
Valmont smiled. “That is wonderful, Jade. Anyway, you never told me your favorite.”
“Rabbit. What;s your favorite type of music?”
“Same. What about favorite number?”
“12 and you?”
“The same. What's your favorite drink?”
“Tea. Is coffee yours?”
“No. Actually, it's Root Beer, but that's not sold here. What's your favorite movie genre?”
“Horror, and I know that's not your favorite.”
“And you'd be right. I prefer comedies.”
A moment of silence passed between the duo, before Valmont asked, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
“That's a good question. I would go somewhere I've never been before, but that's difficult because I've been to a lot of different places.” Jade thought for a few minutes before voicing her decision. “Russia.”
“I've been to Japan, Italy, Spain, France, England, Scotland, Malaysia, Australia, the Moon, the Arctic Ocean, Mexico, South America, and a lot of cities in America, including New York, Seattle, and Hollywood. I've also been to Kansas, Wyoming, and Louisiana. Oh, I've also been to the Himalayan Mountains.”
“Add to that impressive list living in China before moving here. That is a lot places. I would like to go to any of those places while not cursed or taking orders from a demon, but if I had to choose just one, I think I'd go to Italy.”
“I should have guessed since your favorite food is pasta.”
Suddenly, they both heard music, and both dove for their phones. Valmont pulled his out of his pocket, but it was silent and not vibrating. Jade pulled hers out of her purse and answered it, “Jade here. Yes. Right now? But I'm busy. Just a little longer. Yes. Thanks.” Jade ended the call and turned to Valmont. “Sorry bout that. That was Uncle Jackie checking on me. He wants me home soon, but not yet. I wanted to spend some more time with you. I'm enjoying your company.”
“I'm glad that you are enjoying yourself, Jade. I was worried that once you found out who I was you wouldn't want anything to do with me.” Valmont took a sip of his tea. “I do have a question. I noticed you are calling me V. Why is that?”
“It's the first name I knew you by, and I think it's a good nickname.” Jade sighed. “I guess I should get going.”
“I'll walk you home,” Valmont offered.
The two teenagers threw away their empty cups, before leaving the shop. The walk wasn't long, but it was quiet. Once they got to the shop, Jade turned to her companion. “Thanks again, V for walking me home and for the coffee.”
“You're welcome, Jade, and thank you for giving me a chance.”
There was a brief, slightly awkward pause before Jade threw her arms around Valmont, who went rigid with shock for a second before he wrapped his arms around her in response.
Suddenly, the door to the shop opened. There stood Jackie staring at his niece hugging a strange guy. “J-Jade?”
The two teenagers parted, and Jade addressed her uncle. “Yes, Uncle Jackie?”
“My boyfriend,” Jade said matter-of-factly.
“B-b-boyfriend?” stammered Jackie.
“Yes. That's what I was doing when you called. I was having a drink with my boyfriend.”
“Both of you should come in. We need to talk.” Jackie gestured into the shop.
“We'll be in in a minute, Jackie.”
Jackie hesitated for a moment, but nodded and entered the shop.
Valmont turned to Jade. “Boyfriend?”
“Yes. That's not a problem, is it?”
“I don't have a problem with it, but I thought you wanted to take this slow.”
“On our walk back to the shop, I realized that I wanted to take the relationship further.”
“Are we going to tell your family everything?” At Jade's nod, he grimaced. “Maybe we should call Captain Black, so he can vouch for me. He seemed to help you change your mind.”
Jade smiled. “We don't need Captain Black. Let's go.”
Jade grasped Valmont's hand and led him into the shop. He was half expecting to be led into a dark back room, whose only illumination came from a hanging spotlight type of lamp. It only illuminated a chair with the shadows crowding around it.
Of course, that didn't happen. The shop interior was well lit but not overly so, ans all three occupants were staring at him, except for Jackie, who was glaring at him in suspicion. When Valmont raised his eyes to meet Jackie's, the archaeologist was overcome with a sense of deja vu. He shook himself mentally and took a deep breath before speaking. “I invited you in, because I need information. What is your name? How old are you? Where do you go to school? Where are your parents? Where do you live? What are your intentions towards my niece?”
“I'm eighteen and finished with school. My father is deceased, and my mother lives in England. I live locally in San Francisco. My intentions are to make Jade happy in any and every way possible,” Valmont answered, purposely skipping the first question.
There was a pause as the others considered his answers. Uncle and Tohru nodded in satisfaction at his answers, while Jade blushed at the last answer. Then, Jackie said, “You still never told us your name.”
Valmont took a deep breath and took the plunge. “My name is Valmont.”
There was a second of silence before the trio of reactions produced a cacophony, but strangely enough each reaction was easily discernible.
Jackie's reaction wasn't a vocal one. His eyes widened, and his mouth fell open.
Uncle's reaction was his catchphrase. “Aiiee-yaaahh!”
Tohru, who was standing the furthest from the pair of teenagers, gave a shout of “Lies!” before walking towards the pair with the intent of picking up the platinum-haired teen and throwing him out of the store.
Sensing Tohru's intentions, Jade quickly placed herself in front of Valmont, throwing her arms out as if to shield her boyfriend. “Stop! He's changed. He's not evil, consumed by greed, or possessed by a demon. He's been in contact with Captain Black, and if Captain Black says he good, that should be good enough to at least give him a chance.” Jade's arms dropped to her side as she closed the distance between her and her teacher. She gently placed her hand on his arm. “Please, T. Just give him a chance.”
Tohru and Jade stared at each other for a few minutes, before Tohru nodded in acquiesce. The Japanese man turned to Valmont. “If you hurt her, I will turn you inside out.”
Valmont nodded his head once. “Of course, but not to worry. I have no intention of hurting her.”
Just then, Jackie found his voice and asked the question the others were wondering. “How and why did this happen?”
“This whole situation started with the fiasco surrounding the split Oni mask. For those of you who don't know, I ended up wrapped and labeled for shipping to Mexico. I did end up there, unable to return to the states. I had to reach out to the only person who could help, though I wasn't sure he would. I will admit the call surprised Captain Black, but his willingness to help surprised me. He did have his conditions. I had to serve one year in prison, and then four years probation with him serving as my probation officer. While serving my prison sentence, I earned my CDL and was a bus driver. The last time I drove a bus it nearly went over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was saved by Captain Black, Jackie, and a couple others. I've been checking in with Captain Black every week via phone and in person once a month. I am completely reformed and since I was not longer consumed by greed, I could think clearly, and I realized I was interested in getting to know people better, especially Jade. Only last week, Captain Black has taken me off probation, calling it time served, and has made me an unofficial agent of Section 13. Captain Black has also approved of my transformation. He pulled some strings and flew me to China to meet an old chi wizard, who was more than willing to concoct a permanent potion to once again reduce my age.”
Jackie narrowed his eyes. “Why would you want to be a teenager again?”
Valmont sighed. “To be quite honest, I found myself drawn to your niece. Her tenacity, quick wit, intelligence, beauty, and even her stubbornness are quite endearing. However, if she had rejected me, which I thought likely, I wouldn't have bothered her again and lived my life over again, though I daresay wouldn't mess it up this time.”
“Who was the chi wizard who concocted the potion?” Tohru asked.
“I don't know his name, but Captain Black knew him well.”
“He knows me well! Why wasn't I the chi wizard he contacted? Ooo. I should give him a piece of Uncle!”
This comment made everyone else laugh, which defused the tension in the room quite a bit.
“By the way, V, where are you living?” Jade asked.
“In Section 13. Captain Black lets me stay in one of the rooms.”
“Oh, no no no. You should stay with me upstairs. No one will object, right?” Jade's tone left no room for arguments.
“No objections from us,” Jackie replied, earning a smile from Jade.
As Jade dragged him upstairs, Valmont knew his life was looking up and intended to keep it that way.