Charlie and Jessie were eating lunch next to each other at the table when Johnny came back downstairs.
He walked into the kitchen, but stopped and stood behind the island. Charlie thought he looked somewhat distracted.
"Umm, Charlie," he said to her, "can I talk to you for a sec?"
Charlie rested her hand on the top of Jessie's head. "Stay right here, baby, ok?"
Jessie gave Charlie a strange look before nodding at her.
Johnny walked through the kitchen, out to the foyer, and Charlie followed behind him.
When he turned around to face Charlie, he didn't waste any time getting to his point.
"So, if they got Barone out – Carlito's gonna want him to do the pick-up! How am I supposed to get him there, if we don't need to be there, Chuck?!"
He was whispering, but his tone was harsh. Charlie could tell that his nerves were getting to him.
"Tell him that you want to be more involved or something," she said, trying to convince him that the plan would work. Johnny didn't look too impressed.
"Just get in with him at the club," Charlie continued. "Figure out what makes him tick. You'll find a way in, Johnny."
"But what if I-." He took a breath and lowered his voice. He could still see Jessie sitting over at the table out of the corner of his eye. "What if Barone is there. How am I supposed to not hurt that son-of-a-"
"Hey!" Charlie said firmly, cutting him off. She put her hand on his shoulder and locked eyes with him. "You can do this. You want to protect the kid from Barone? You get Carlito to the bus garage and you don't screw it up."
Johnny ran his hand down the side of face.
Charlie sighed. "You're wearing a transmitter. Mikey will talk you through it tonight once they set up the barrels..."
He looked down at the floor before making eye contact with her again. "I don't need him," he said.
"I know you don't."
"If this whole LAPD thing turns out to be true..." he glanced back over at Jessie, shaking his head. "We can't let any of them come on the scene tonight as back up. I don't need no dirty cops there adding to the—"
"Briggs and I talked about that this morning. Clark isn't going to authorize them as back up."
Johnny stepped towards the door. "I think we deserve a sauce night after all this is over though, Chuck. Just sayin'."
Charlie smiled at him as he grabbed his bag.
"Think about it, ok?" he asked her playfully.
"Are you pretending today?"
Johnny turned around and dropped the bag when he saw Jessie sitting on the bottom step of the staircase. She was staring at his outfit, which was notably not very Johnny-like.
"You're so sneaky, you know that?" he said.
He walked over to her and lifted her up into his arms so that they were looking at one another face-to-face.
"Yeah, I have to go pretend to be a bad guy."
"To everybody?" she asked him.
He titled his head to the side. "Outside of this house, if we're playing pretend, we have to play pretend to everybody, even our friends."
She started playing with the collar of his shirt and avoided his eyes. "Even me?" she asked him quietly.
Johnny chuckled a few times and thought about what to say to her. "That's not gonna happen."
He scrunched up his face at her to get her to smile. He stopped though, when he considered how unstable Jessie's living situation was.
"Look at me," he said to her. She matched his more serious tone and stared into his eyes.
"If you ever see somebody from this house playing pretend to try and help you, you have to pretend too." He looked quickly to Charlie for approval before continuing. She nodded her head, giving him a weak smile.
He shifted Jessie in his arms and leaned forward so that their foreheads were connected. "You have to pretend that you never lived here – you don't know any of our names. You have to act like we are the bad guys."
Jessie nodded, but Johnny wasn't convinced that she understood.
"But when the people in the FBI shirts come, or the real bad guys aren't around anymore, then we stop pretending," Charlie added, trying to make the scenario sound a little less tense.
Wondering if he took it a step too far, Johnny bounced her once in his arms and smiled at her. "But that's not gonna happen because you're safe here, ok?"
He kissed her cheek, and she let Johnny put her down.
He held out his fist. She looked up at him as she bumped her hand into his, and Johnny laughed when she made her fingers burst apart. "You remembered the explosion!" he said.
He picked his bag back up and started walking to the door. "Bye," she said softly.
He turned around and waved at her. "I'm probably going to get home really late, so I'll see you tomorrow, ok?"
Jessie nodded and walked over to Charlie. She wrapped an arm around the woman's leg as she watched Johnny leave the house.
Charlie took Jessie's hand in hers, and they walked to the kitchen to finish their lunch.
Sitting back at the table, Jessie went to take a bite of her sandwich, but after hesitating with it, she put it back down on the plate.
"What's the matter?" Charlie asked her. "I know you're still hungry."
"If Johnny finds Katia- she doesn't know he's pretending." The words were mumbled.
"No, she doesn't," Charlie said calmly. "But our job is still to help people, even when we're pretending."
Jessie gave Charlie a faint smile before finishing the rest of her lunch.
"Do you want to come up to my room with me?" Charlie asked her. "I have some work to do on my computer."
Jessie smiled at Charlie and finished her juice before getting up from the table. Charlie held her hand as they climbed the steps to her bedroom.