What If

CeeCee72

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I have no ownership of the characters in this story and no copyright infringement is intended.

***

This is a "What if?" fanfic. What if in the season eleven episode "Top Gun" Sue Ellen had changed her mind at the last possible moment and instead of teaming up with Kimberly and Wendell to beat JR she voted her Weststar shares to make him CEO?


***


What If


Part One


Sue Ellen sat on the edge of her bed and stared blankly at the suitcases stacked neatly in front of her bedroom door. She'd made sure Teresa had all of her belongings packed and ready to go; she'd known she would need to make a quick escape from Southfork before JR got home. He would be dangerously furious about how she had betrayed him…


Except, she hadn't betrayed him. Oh, she had every intention of humiliating him in public and destroying his dream of being head of one of the biggest oil companies in the world. She had plotted and schemed for weeks; with Wendell, with Nicholas, with that silly slut Kimberly Cryder. But when push came to shove, she just couldn't go through with it. The look on JR's face when he had realized what was happening stopped her dead in her tracks - the confusion, the fear, the white hot anger - that she could have dealt with. What she couldn't deal with, what she didn't expect to see in his eyes was the hurt. The wide-eyed, raw pain. The stunned disbelief of her callousness. In that moment, so many things ran through her mind in a flash. She thought about how JR would never forgive her, how he would hate her forever. She thought about John Ross and what kind of life the hate would make for him. She thought of the guilt that would crush her soul once the sweet joy of her revenge wore off. She had a sudden epiphany that revenge wasn't worth the total destruction of her son's life. JR had hurt her, DESTROYED her so many times, never sparing one thought to how it would affect John Ross. But she wasn't JR. Hard as she tried, she just could never be quite as cold and calculating as him.


Of course , Nicholas would disagree with her about that. Her plan had been to destroy JR, leave South Fork in triumph, and move in with Nicholas. There was no chance of her living with him now. She had gone straight from the Weststar meeting to see him...to explain what happened. He didn't want to hear her out though. He accused her of using him to help JR. He believed she had planned to vote her shares to put JR on top from the beginning in order to win him back. She had tried to explain, but Nicholas had angrily ordered her out of his home and out of his life.


"And I don't blame him," she whispered, raising her hand to wipe the solitary tear that had fallen from her eye onto her cheek. "I don't blame him one bit."


She rose from the bed and walked to the door, picking up her suitcases and taking one last look around her room. She wondered how long it would take for JR to realize she was gone. "At least a day or two," she muttered to herself. "He'll be out celebrating his victory with one of his whores and probably won't even bother to come home tonight."


***


JR lifted his hand to get Cassie's attention. She smiled and nodded and went off to the bar to get him another drink. JR pushed his now empty glass away from him and stared straight ahead, not really seeing anything.


Why had she done it? He asked himself the same question he had been asking over and over for the last few hours. Why had Sue Ellen saved his ass?


Oh, he knew everyone in that room - Kimberly, Wendell, all the board members - thought he and Sue Ellen had planned the whole sordid plot together from the beginning. The two of them are the only two people in Dallas who would ever know the truth; JR Ewing's wife held the power to destroy him in the palm of her soft, delicate hand. Instead, she handed him everything he had ever wanted on a silver platter. What JR couldn't figure out for the life of him is why. Why would she help him when she had clearly put so much time and effort into a plot to bring him down once and for all?


JR forced himself to grant Cassie a small smile as she put his drink on the table in front of him and took the empty glass away. He lifted the bourbon to his lips and muttered under his breath, "What the hell are you up to, Miss Texas?"


"JR, I'm surprised to see you slumming at the Cattleman's club with us regular oilmen!"


The shrill sound of the voice JR hated to hear most in the world almost made him choke on his drink. "What the hell do you want, Barnes?" he growled.


"Now, JR," Cliff chuckled, "I just came over to congratulate you on your Weststar coup."


JR said nothing for a moment, studying Cliff's face. Strangely, for once, he saw no malice there. "Word travels fast, I see," JR finally responded.


"Bad news always does," Cliff sighed. "I mean it's good news for you. Bad for the rest of us though."


JR said nothing, he simply sat back in his chair and took another drink of his bourbon.


"Anyway," Cliff shrugged, "surprised to see you here alone. I figured you and that pretty wife of yours would be out celebrating how the two of you managed to bring the entire Texas oil industry to its knees."


JR finished his drink in one long gulp, slammed the glass down on the table, and stood up abruptly. "MY WIFE," he harshly emphasized those two words, "and I prefer to do our celebrating in private."


Cliff stood looking stunned for a few moments, watching JR stomp off in a huff. "Huh," he muttered to himself, "seems to be in a pretty foul mood for someone who just got everything in the world he ever wanted."


***


Bobby carefully placed his empty glass on the mantle and steeled his nerves against the scene that was coming. Miss Ellie and Clayton had gone to dinner in town. Lucy had taken Christopher and John Ross to a movie. Even Teresa and Raoul had taken the night off. Everyone in the Ewing household had made themselves scarce tonight, leaving it to him to deal with JR.


Moments earlier, JR had stormed through the front door and gone tearing up the stairs. Bobby started slowly counting down from ten, knowing it wouldn't take his brother very long to realize Sue Ellen's room was empty and come barreling down to the living room demanding answers.


Right on cue, JR came stomping down the stairs and into the living room, glaring angrily at his brother. "Where the hell is my wife?"


Bobby took a deep breath, picked up his empty glass, and moved to the bar to fix himself another drink. "Want one, JR?"


"Where is she, Bob?" JR demanded.


Bobby sighed heavily, "What makes you think I know?" he asked, handing JR his drink.


JR took the glass from his brother's hands and narrowed his eyes. "Her room is empty, but I checked John Ross's room. All his things are still there. She wouldn't leave her boy here and not tell anyone where she was going."


"No, she wouldn't," Bobby agreed.


"Tell me where she is dammit!"


"She doesn't want you to know, JR," Bobby's voice was quiet. Almost a whisper.


JR drained his drink and slid down into a wide leather chair. For a moment, he allowed himself to remember all the times he and Sue Ellen had shared that chair, her sitting daintily on the arm while he rested his hand on the curve of her hip. "No, I don't guess she does," he finally said.


"JR," Bobby moved to sit across from JR on the couch, "what happened? We all heard you and Sue Ellen took over Weststar today. We all thought we'd be having a big celebration. But then Sue Ellen came down with her bags packed and told us she was leaving you. It makes no sense."


"No, it doesn't," JR agreed."Listen, Bob, I have no idea what happened. I didn't expect for Sue Ellen to be at that meeting. I had no idea she had been buying up Weststar stock. Once I figured it out, I thought she...well, I thought she was going to gut me. Instead, she voted with me and gave me control of the company. Then she ran out of there so fast…"


Bobby was quiet. He leaned back into the couch and quietly considered what JR had told him. "You had no idea what she was planning?" he finally asked.


"None," JR admitted. "You know, Bob, that woman.. I guess I don't ever give her enough credit, do I?"


"Not by a long shot, JR," Bobby sighed. "Listen, Sue Ellen made me promise specifically not to tell you where she was going," Bobby stood, placed his empty glass on the bar, and turned to leave the room. "But…" he said, his back still to his brother, "if you should happen to look in Mama's address book by the phone in the foyer and find out for yourself, I guess there's nothing I can do about that."


JR stood slowly, "Thank you, Bobby," he said softly.


Bobby took a deep breath. "You're welcome, JR. I don't know what's going on between you and Sue Ellen. It's really none of my business. And I am sure that whatever reason she had for not wanting you to find her, you deserve it. But...I, of all men, know what pure hell it is not knowing where to find the woman you love."


JR watched his brother walk up the staircase until he turned the corner out of sight. "Yes," he breathed to himself, "I know you do, little brother."


***


Sue Ellen was lost. She turned on the TV and flipped through the channels, hoping desperately to find something to take her mind off her current situation.


"First night on your own," she muttered, turning the TV back off, "and already lonely and bored out of your mind."


She stood up and walked towards the bathroom, thinking maybe a hot bath would relax her enough to get some rest "Tomorrow will be soon enough to figure out where I will spend the rest of my life."


She was standing at the bathroom door when a sudden, loud pounding shattered the silence. "Open this door right now, Sue Ellen!"


Sue Ellen was startled by the surprise, the dread, and...yes...the thrill of hearing JR's voice yelling at her from the hotel hallway.


"Sue Ellen! Let me in right now or I swear I'll make such a scene, neither one of us will ever be able to show our faces in Dallas again!"


Sue Ellen stalked over to the door and snatched it open with an angry jerk, "How did you find me, JR?" she hissed.


"Don't be stupid, darlin' you know I can find anyone anytime I want to," he growled pushing past her into the room.


Sue Ellen took a deep steadying breath, shut the door, and slowly turned to face him. "What do you want."


"I want," JR replied icily, "to know why you did what you did today. You obviously intended to destroy me then leave me. Why only go through with part of your devious scheme?"


"How do you know I ever intended to hurt you, JR? And...as far as leaving you, maybe I just decided to give you what you have been demanding from me for months now."


"I know you intended to hurt me because I know you better than anyone else alive"


"Maybe not, JR," Sue Ellen challenged him. "I certainly managed to surprise you today."


JR laughed at the truth of her words in spite of himself. "Yes, you did " he agreed. He took off his hat and ran his hand through his hair. "Aren't you going to offer me a drink?"


"I can't," Sue Ellen answered, dropping her eyes to the floor, "I had the minibar removed," she admitted. "I didn't think it was a good idea…"


Her words stopped him cold. Was she worried she would start drinking again? Why? Yes, she had flushed her carefully laid plans for revenge down the toilet, but she had done it with grace and dignity. The story of her brilliance was all over the city by now. They were going to be the ultimate power couple in Dallas. Why on earth would she leave him now? And why would she be tempted to drink again?


Suddenly, out of nowhere, the truth hit JR like a ton of bricks. He knew this woman. He knew there was only one thing in the world that made her hurt and weak enough to drink...him; and he suddenly knew beyond any shadow of a doubt why she had changed her mind about hurting him at the last minute. The realization of what he had done to her and their family crashed down all around him.


JR moved carefully, not wanting to alarm her. He closed the distance between them and gently cupped her chin with his hand, tilting her head up so her eyes met his. He studied her face carefully. Her eyes were puffy and red. Clearly she had been crying. Her bottom lip was slightly swollen. He realized she had been chewing on it, a habit that always manifested when she was severely upset. "Get your things, darlin'," he softly ordered. "You're going home."


"No I'm not," she jerked away from him and stiffened her spine. "Our marriage is over, JR."


"I know," he hated the words as soon as he spoke them. "But John Ross is at Southfork. He needs his mother."


"I won't sleep under the same roof as you for one more night," she spat out angrily.


"I know," he agreed again. "You stay at Southfork with John Ross until you find a more permanent solution. I'll stay at one of the condominiums."


"Why?" Sue Ellen demanded. "Why are you being so calm and reasonable about this."


JR put his Stetson back on his head and turned away from her. "You gave me everything I ever wanted today," he finally answered. "Seems the least I can do in return is be calm and reasonable about this."


Sue Ellen found herself chewing on her bottom lip again as she considered her options. She didn't trust JR as far as she could throw him, but his words had a ring of truth to them. He HAD gotten everything he had wanted - he was now the most powerful oilman in Texas and she was offering him his freedom. He was right, why shouldn't he be happy to spend a few nights away from Southfork? And certainly it would be better for both her and for John Ross if she returned.


"Alright, JR," she gave in. "But you have to promise me. No tricks, no games. We're done. For good."


JR.closed his eyes and silently cursed himself for letting things between them get this bad. "I promise, Sue Ellen. I only want to get you home to our boy. I'll leave without a fight."


Sue Ellen nodded and fought back a wave of sadness. "Just give me a moment to gather my things."


***


The ride from downtown Dallas to Southfork was excruciatingly long and silent. JR seemed lost in thought, positively brooding. The tension in the car was so thick Sue Ellen felt as if she would choke on it. By the time JR pulled his car into the driveway and parked in his usual spot, Sue Ellen's nerves were completely shot.


"You go on in, darlin'," JR told her, cutting the car's engine. "I'll bring in your things."


Sue Ellen reached for the car's door handle then hesitated. "JR? Why did you stop asking me why I voted with you today instead of against you?"


"Because I know why," JR said curtly. "You did it for John Ross." He couldn't help but smile at the look of shock on her face. "Don't look so surprised, darlin'," he drawled. "I told you I know you better than anyone else alive. Go on in now," he told her, opening his door and stepping out of the car. " I'll be right behind you with your things."


***


"JR," Miss Ellie sighed, "this is...unusual to say the least."


"I know, Mama. But John Ross needs his mother."


"He needs his father too!" Miss Ellie shot back.


"Do you think I don't know that?" JR snapped. "If I could stay here I would! But Sue Ellen won't suffer living in the same house with me and I won't force her to. Not this time."


"Oh, JR," Miss Ellie sighed, "when Bobby told us about Weststar I had so hoped the two of you had reconciled."


"Well, we haven't. And this time I don't think we ever can."


"Don't say that, JR," Miss Ellie pleaded. "The two of you have been through rough patches before. You always find your way back to each other."


"Mama...I…,"


JR fell silent when Clayton came into the kitchen. "Oh, sorry. Didn't mean to interrupt."


"It's alright, Clayton," JR said, standing up. "I was just leaving. Do me a favor and look after Sue Ellen and my boy."


"Sure thing, JR," Clayton promised. "They'll be just fine here with us."


"I know they will," JR nodded. "Goodnight, Mama," JR bent to kiss Miss Ellie's cheek. "I'll call you tomorrow."


Miss Ellie watched her son walk out the door into the night, frowning with worry. "Do you think he'll be alright?"


Clayton couldn't help but laugh. "Are you serious? If anyone can take care of himself, it's JR."


"Normally I would agree," Miss Ellie mused, "but, Clayton, this should be the happiest day of his life. Yet, he looks so broken."


"Losing your family tends to affect a man," Clayton responded.


"He's lost them before," Ellie shook her head. "He never doubted he would get them back."


"Well, maybe this time even he realizes he went too far," Clayton said. "Anyway, it's none of our business."


"No, I guess it isn't," Ellie sighed. "It's just so sad that both boys seem to have lost their true loves."


"Oh, they'll be alright," Clayton reached out and pulled her up into his arms. "They're grown men. Everything will be fine."


"I hope so, Clayton," Miss Ellie said, hugging him tightly. "I truly hope so."


***

Sue Ellen glanced at her watch and decided to give Sly five more minutes or she was leaving. She didn't know why she had agreed to meet JR's secretary for lunch in the first place, especially since Sly refused to tell her over the phone why she wanted to meet with her.


The last week had passed by in a blur. She and the rest of the family went on the same as they ever had, pretending everything was normal. John Ross missed his father terribly, but even he seemed to be adjusting. It's not like JR spent many of his nights at Southfork with the family anyway, even during the best of times.


JR...Sue Ellen managed to block him out of her mind most of the time. She busied herself with work and with searching for the perfect new home where she and John Ross could live happily. It was only at night, after everyone else had long gone to sleep that Sue Ellen allowed herself to think of him and wonder what he was doing.


He had been true to his promise. He hadn't tried to talk to her or contact her in any way. He called John Ross to say goodnight every single night, but not once had he asked to speak to Sue Ellen.


"Why do you care?" she whispered to herself, "isn't that exactly what you wanted?"


"Sue Ellen?"


Sue Ellen turned her head toward the voice that said her name, "April!" she got up and gave the other woman a quick hug. "Please sit down with me."


"Just for a few minutes," April agreed, seating herself across the table from Sue Ellen. "I have a lunch meeting."


"Me too," Sue Ellen sighed, "but I am starting to wonder if I am being stood up. How have you been?"


"Oh, you know," April shrugged, ""the same. I was really sorry to hear about you and JR."


"Why?" Sue Ellen asked. "You of all people know that split had been coming for a long time."


"Yes, I guess I just thought after what happened with Weststar, the two of you had worked things out."


"That was business," Sue Ellen said tightly.


"I know...it's just…"


"What?" Sue Ellen snapped.


"Look, Sue Ellen, I know JR is a snake," April laughed lightly, "but he's always been YOUR snake."


"Oh, yes," Sue Ellen agreed, "mine and half the women in Dallas!"


"You know, Sue Ellen, the last time you two patched things up, he was so giddy about it. Whenever he thought I was being frisky, he'd smile and say, 'You know I'm back with my wife and I'm a one woman man now.' He just seemed so happy to have won you back."


"Well, the shine wore off quickly, I assure you," Sue Ellen replied bitterly.


"I'm sorry, Sue Ellen," April shook her head. "I didn't mean to upset you."


"Mrs. Ewing, I'm so sorry I'm late…"


Sue Ellen looked away from April and saw a nervous looking Sly standing beside their table.


"It's alright, Sly," Sue Ellen said graciously. "Please sit down"


"I can't stay Mrs. Ewing," Sly said with regret. "I have to get back to the office. JR just wanted me to personally make sure you got these." She handed Sue Ellen a manilla envelope. "He also asked me to remind you that he would be spending Saturday afternoon with John Ross."


"Yes, I remember, Sly. Thank you," Sue Ellen said briskly. "Was there anything else?"


Sly dropped her eyes, suddenly unable to meet Sue Ellen's level gaze. "No, ma'am. Thank you," she turned and nodded her head toward April before hurrying away from the table. "Miss Stevens."


Sue Ellen rolled her eyes at Sly's retreating back before turning her attention to the envelope. She carefully opened it and pulled the papers out to examine. One glance, and she suddenly felt as if she had been kicked in the stomach. She felt all the blood drain from her face and for a moment she struggled to breathe.


"Sue Ellen," April said, her voice convened, "are you okay?"


Sue Ellen took a deep breath, steadied her nerves, and forced a wide smile. "Why, yes," she said with as much cheer as she could muster. "It seems my loving husband just had his sweet little secretary serve me with legal separation papers."


"Oh, Sue Ellen, I'm so sorry."


"The only thing to be sorry about," Sue Ellen said, grabbing the papers and her purse and standing up, "is that I didn't have a chance to serve him first! April, I hope you have a lovely lunch."


April couldn't help but feel a little sad as she watched Sue Ellen march out of the restaurant, back straight and head held high.


"Hey. Sorry I'm late but the two of you looked like you were deep into some girl talk."


April laughed as Cliff placed a light Peck on her cheek then sat down across from her. "The famous Mrs. Ewing holding up okay?" Cliff asked, flagging down a waitress.


"She's just fine," April said with a smile. "Now let's eat! I'm starving!"


***
 
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Karin Schill

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Welcome to the board. :)
I wonder what game JR is playing this time?

Nice to see April make an appearance she is not used that often in fanfics.
 

CeeCee72

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Thank you for the welcome! I've been a long time reader/lurker.

I love April's character. Always thought she was wasted in the show.
 

Miss Texas 1967

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Interesting start. It started off like maybe it was going to be a complete opposite story to the show but this is more a fork in the road.

I too like April a lot :)
 

CeeCee72

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I don't own any of the characters in this story and no copyright infringement is intended..


This is a "What if?" fanfic. What if in the season eleven episode "Top Gun" Sue Ellen had changed her mind at the last possible moment and instead of teaming up with Kimberly and Wendell to beat JR she voted her Weststar shares to make him CEO?


***


What If


Part 2:


"What do you mean it's all very straight forward?" Sue Ellen hissed.


"I mean just what I said, Mrs. Ewing."


Sue Ellen let out an exasperated growl. "Listen Mr. Marlowe, I know you're fairly new to Dallas. That's one of the reasons I chose you to represent me in my divorce. But please, you must TRY to understand that NOTHING JR does is straight forward!"


Don Marlowe sat back into his leather chair and studied Sue Ellen Ewing closely. He had only very recently moved his lucrative divorce practice from Austin to Dallas, so he had never met JR Ewing, but he had heard an awful lot about him. Everyone had warned him not to take Sue Ellen as a client. They all said JR played dirty and would make his life a living hell for representing his wife in a divorce action. He'd taken the case anyway; he couldn't walk away from the money Sue Ellen had offered to pay him. Plus, he knew successfully negotiating a favorable settlement against the infamous JR Ewing would go a long way towards making a name for his practice in Dallas.


"Mrs.Ewing," Marlowe began, choosing his words carefully, "I realize I only know your husband by reputation, but I have been preparing for the worst. I was both surprised and relieved when I read the separation agreement he and his lawyer have proposed. If you're unhappy with the terms, we can negotiate, but I can't imagine we will be able to get a more favorable deal than the one they are offering."


"Favorable?" Sue Ellen spat. "I can't believe JR would offer anything that would be favorable to me!"


"Well," Marlowe cleared his throat and took a sip of water "he is giving you physical custody of your son and is asking only for weekend and holiday visitation. He's agreeing to allow you to stay on Southfork until you purchase a home of your own, with no time limit. He is relinquishing any claim to Valentine Lingerie and all your other business holdings. You get to keep everything awarded to you in your first divorce settlement. He is offering very generous alimony and child support. He has agreed to open the books to his personal finances and has stipulated that you are entitled to half of what he has. So yes, I'd say those terms are very favorable to you. What more could you want?"


"His head on a platter," Sue Ellen seethed.


"I'm afraid I can't help you with that," Marlowe chuckled, "but as far as divorce settlements go, this is a damn good offer. I'm inclined to advise you to accept."


"That bastard is up to something," Sue Ellen insisted.


"Well, I can't imagine what," Marlow replied, "all of the paperwork is in order."


"Oh, don't you worry," Sue Ellen said, retrieving her purse and standing up. "JR has got something up his sleeve, and I am going to find out what it is!"


"Alright, Mrs. Ewing," Marlowe said, walking her to the door, "I won't do anything until I hear back from you; but I should warn you, an offer this good probably won't last forever."


"An offer like this from JR is simply too good to be true," Sue Ellen informed him. "Don't worry though, you'll be hearing back from me very, VERY soon."


***

"Cliff, are you okay?"


Cliff realized he'd been so lost in his own thoughts that he hadn't noticed Jackie standing in his doorway.


"Sorry, Jackie," he said sheepishly. "Did you need something?"


"Yes, Cliff. Like I said, Bobby Ewing returned your call and said it'd be just fine if you wanted to take Christopher out for pizza and a movie on Sunday. I told him you'd stop by Souhfork to pick him up around noon."


"Oh, okay, Jackie. Thanks."


"You're welcome," she turned to go but hesitated. "Cliff, are you sure everything is okay?"


"Sure I'm sure, Jackie. Close the door behind you, please."


He watched the door close and softly sighed. "What could be wrong?" he asked himself. "Only that my sister seems to have taken a one way trip to nowheresville. Where are you, Pam? Where the hell are you?"


***


Sue Ellen stepped out of the elevator and stalked angrily into the reception area of JR's posh new offices at Weststar.


"Good afternoon," a perky young brunette smiled up at her, "how can I help you today?"


"Who the hell are you?" Sue Ellen snapped, "a new receptionist, JR's flavor of the month, or both?"


"I...I'm sorry," the shocked girl stammered, "who are you?"


"None of your damn business," Sue Ellen snarled, turning her back on her and moving further into the office.


"Ma'am? Ma'am?!"


Sue Ellen ignored the young girl chasing after her and headed straight toward Sly's desk. "Is JR in his office?" she demanded.


"Yes, Mrs. Ewing, but he's in a meeting…"


Sue Ellen rolled her eyes and turned to make a beeline for JR's office.


"Mrs. Ewing! Please wait! You can't go in there," Sly said, placing her hand on Sue Ellen's arm to stop her.


"Really, Sly?" Sue Ellen asked, contempt dripping from her voice. "And just who is going to stop me? You?"


Sly seemed to consider her options for a brief moment before dropping her hand from Sue Ellen's arm and taking a step back. "No, ma'am."


"I thought not," Sue Ellen said, brushing past the secretary to open the door to JR's office. She went inside and slammed the door heavily behind her.


"Who was that awful bitch?"


Sly looked at the wide-eyed, shocked receptionist and decided she didn't like her tone one bit. "THAT," Sly informed her coldly, "was Mrs. Sue Ellen Ewing. And the fastest way to get fired around here is for JR to hear you say something disrespectful to or about his wife. Now get back to your desk and do your job."


***


"Not having much fun, are you?" Christopher asked his cousin.


"Not really," John Ross shook his head and sank into his chair away from the checkerboard on the table in front of him. "Sorry."


"That's okay," Christopher gave a sullen shrug. "I'm not having fun either."


"Both our lives kinda suck right now, huh?" John Ross pouted.


"Yeah," Christopher sadly agreed, "but at least you get to see your daddy on the weekends. My mommy is gone for good."


John Ross stood up and walked quietly to the window. "Hey, Christopher, know what? The adults in this family are so lame. But we have each other at least. And we always will."


"You promise, John Ross?" Christopher asked hopefully.


"Yeah," John Ross turned away from the window and smiled at his younger cousin. "You and me. Cousins and best friends forever. I promise."


***


"JR," Sue Ellen eyed him suspiciously, venom dripping from her voice, "I want to know just what in the hell you think you're doing."


"Well, darlin'," JR sounded slightly amused, "I thought I was having a business meeting with Marilee over there," he gestured towards the couch, "but judging by the way you stormed into my office slammin' doors and yellin' I guess you had something else in mind for my afternoon."


Sue Ellen turned toward the couch and noticed Marilee Stone for the first time. "Oh, God, JR," she said eyeing Marilee, "we've been separated for less than two weeks. Don't tell me you've already sunk so low with being lonely that you're sniffing around Marilee."


"Now, you just wait one minute!" Marilee jumped off the couch, sputtering with indignation.


"Marilee, it's obvious my wife is quite distraught and needs my attention," JR interrupted her. "Why don't you stop by Sly's desk and reschedule our appointment on the way out?"


"You're dismissing me?" Marilee bellowed.


"Well, yes. You can see my wife is here. Just ask Sly to reschedule, honey. And close the door on your way out, would you?"


Marilee snatched her purse up from the couch and stomped to the door. "Forget it, JR. There's no need to reschedule, because you and I are through!"


JR stood up and walked over to the bar. He laughed out loud when Marilee slammed the door so hard the windows in his office shook. "Well, guess she's not very happy." He turned from the bar and let his eyes sweep over his wife.


Damn, she's beautiful, he thought, taking a sip of bourbon. Sexy too. He always found her to be sexier than usual when she was mad. He hadn't laid eyes on her in almost two weeks. He had almost forgotten how truly stunning she was. "Can I fix you something to drink, darlin'?"


"No," Sue Ellen answered gruffly. "The only thing I want from you is an answer."


"I see," JR said lightly, taking a seat on the couch where Marilee had been sitting, "and what's the question, darlin'?"


"Don't play games with me, JR," Sue Ellen warned him.


"Well, darlin' I admit there are a lot of games I miss playing with you, but I doubt you're interested in any of those. So, why don't you tell me exactly what it is that's got you so stirred up? I know you pretty well, but I can't read your mind."


Sue Ellen's eyes narrowed to angry, glistening slits. "Your little separation agreement is what has me so stirred up, JR." she coldly informed him.


"That?" JR asked, genuinely surprised. "I thought that would please you, Miss Texas. Did I leave something out you wanted?"


"Don't call me that!" Sue Ellen snapped. "You only call me that when you're…"


"When I'm what, Sue Ellen?" JR didn't even try to hide his mischievous grin.


"When you're trying to charm me," she answered, folding her arms across her chest in defiance.


"I thought you were gonna say when I'm horny," he laughed lowly.


Sue Ellen's eyes widened and she felt her cheeks flush. "Stop it, JR."


JR's grin slowly faded. He knew he could probably push her. Her voice was uneven and she was blushing. Her breathing had gotten just a tiny bit heavier. Yes. He could push her. But what good would that do? Even if they ended up having wild office sex on the couch, she would still hate him just as much when it was over - maybe even more.


"I'm sorry, Sue Ellen," he sighed. "What is it about the settlement offer that you don't like?"


"Nothing," Sue Ellen grumbled. "It's perfect."


"Then why the hysteria?" JR asked, truly confused.


"Why?" Sue Ellen asked, her eyes wide open and staring into his soul, "why did you move so fast? Kimberly Cryder is obviously out of the picture. Please don't tell me it's Marilee Stone. Or that pop tart sitting out in the reception area?"


"Pop tart?" JR laughed in spite of himself. "I'm not sleeping with my receptionist, Sue Ellen, and I'm certainly not having sex with Marilee."


"Is it someone new?" Sue Ellen asked nervously. "Why are you in such a hurry to be rid of me?"


"I'm not seeing anyone else, Sue Ellen. Truth be told these last two weeks have been the loneliest weeks in my life."


"Aw, what's wrong, JR?" Sue Ellen teased him snidely, "losing your touch with the ladies?"


"Don't kid yourself, Miss Texas," JR said in a low, silky voice. "We both know I could have any woman in Texas that I wanted. ANY woman" He lazily dropped his gaze to her breasts and was rewarded by her sharp intake of breath. "By the way," his tone turned accusatory, "how is the wonderful Mr. Pearce doing?"


"I..I don't know," Sue Ellen stammered. "I haven't seen him for a while."


"Why not, darlin'?" Trouble in paradise?"


"Stop it, JR," her voice sounded thin and weak, even to her own ears. "Just answer my question. If you're not hot for another woman, why the quick divorce settlement offer?"


JR sat up straight and reached out to take her hand. He gently pulled her toward him. She resisted at first, but then reluctantly allowed him to pull her down on the couch beside him.


"It's not because I'm in any particular hurry to end our marriage," he told her softly, looking deeply into her beautiful brown eyes. "I just thought it would make it easier for you if you didn't have to spend all your time worrying about how hard I was going to fight you. Sign it, don't sign it, accept it, ask for more. Do whatever you want, Sue Ellen. I just wanted you to know this time wouldn't be ugly."


"Why not, JR?" she asked, her eyes full of unsure hope.


"John Ross belongs with you," JR's voice sounded ragged. "You've always done right by him and that's a hell of a lot more than I can say. I want peace between us, Sue Ellen."


"For our son's sake?" she asked.


"For his. For yours. For mine. I have hurt you enough, Sue Ellen. I don't ever want to cause you pain ever again."


Sue Ellen was quiet for a while, turning his words over in her mind. "I'm sorry, JR," she finally said. "I've heard this same song and dance from you before. I don't believe a word of it."


JR pulled his hand away from hers as if he'd been burned. "Believe whatever you want," he snapped, standing from the couch and walking over to open his door, "but I have a big company to run and have wasted enough of my afternoon trying to pacify you. If you have a problem with the settlement, have your lawyer contact my lawyer. They can work it out. Harv has clear instructions."


Sue Ellen stood up and left his office without another word. "Damn you, Miss Texas," he muttered to himself as he softly closed the door behind her, "damn you."


***
 

Karin Schill

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I am glad that you decided to join us instead of just lurking and reading. :)

I love April too. When you say that the character was wasted, is that because they killed her off or because of the way she changed?
Personally I liked how they developed her character and made her more likable. But I hated that they killed her off. :(

Great update!

It was fun seeing Sly bring the new employee up to speed. Of course it was Marilee Stone that JR was in a meeting with. :giggle: Sue Ellen sure is acting like a jealous wife. She still wants JR. It's obvious. He wants her back too. That's why he's acting nice. I wonder how long it's gonna take Sue Ellen to figure out that's why JR is acting too nice.

The conversation between Chris and John Ross was heartfelt. I am glad they have each other as it can't be easy to grow up at Southfork.

I'll look forward to another update. :)
 

CeeCee72

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I am glad that you decided to join us instead of just lurking and reading. :)

I love April too. When you say that the character was wasted, is that because they killed her off or because of the way she changed?
Personally I liked how they developed her character and made her more likable. But I hated that they killed her off. :(

Great update!

It was fun seeing Sly bring the new employee up to speed. Of course it was Marilee Stone that JR was in a meeting with. :giggle: Sue Ellen sure is acting like a jealous wife. She still wants JR. It's obvious. He wants her back too. That's why he's acting nice. I wonder how long it's gonna take Sue Ellen to figure out that's why JR is acting too nice.

The conversation between Chris and John Ross was heartfelt. I am glad they have each other as it can't be easy to grow up at Southfork.

I'll look forward to another update. :)

Thanks so much!

And yes, I loved April's growth as a character. She went from being a simple side chick for JR to be connected to almost everyone in the series. I really liked it when they paired her with Bobby. Then bam, out of nowhere she was killed off. Really thought it was a waste.
 

Miss Texas 1967

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Oh man, they still have so much chemistry. JR needs to man up and change his attitude going forward when it comes to his wife and marriage, otherwise they're going to be divorced and no happier.
 

Miss Texas 1967

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Oh man, they still have so much chemistry. JR needs to man up and change his attitude going forward when it comes to his wife and marriage, otherwise they're going to be divorced and no happier.
 

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I don't own any of the characters in this story and no copyright infringement is intended..


This is a "What if?" fanfic. What if in the season eleven episode "Top Gun" Sue Ellen had changed her mind at the last possible moment and instead of teaming up with Kimberly and Wendell to beat JR she voted her Weststar shares to make him CEO?


***


What If


Part 3


Sue Ellen sat at her vanity, carefully applying her makeup. She knew she was still a beautiful woman, but she hated the fine line and wrinkles that were starting to appear around her eyes and mouth.


"Face it, Sue Ellen," she said to her reflection. "You're not getting any younger."


She didn't know why her aging was bothering her lately. At first she thought it was the end of her marriage, or maybe the end of her relationship with Nicholas. But that wasn't it. She knew she was still a very attractive woman and she would have no trouble catching the eye of another man.


No, it wasn't her looks bothering her. It was something else, even if she couldn't put her finger on it.


She put down her makeup brush and stood and glided gracefully to the closet. She pulled out several ensembles, considering each one carefully before deciding on a white pantsuit paired with a low cut, royal blue camisole.


JR was coming to Southfork this morning to spend the day with John Ross. Sue Ellen had a full day planned for herself. She was meeting her realtor at 9:00 to look at several houses for her and John Ross, then she would stop somewhere for lunch, then some light shopping, followed by dinner out.


"Oh, yes," she said to herself, "a nice full day all to myself. All alone."


She tried to push her loneliness out of her mind as she dressed, but it was difficult. She and JR had been living separate lives for quite a while, but while he had still been living at Southfork, they had at least occasionally crossed paths. Plus...she had been spending a lot of time with Nicholas.


Sue Ellen sighed heavily at the thought of her former lover. So many nights, she had been tempted to call him and ask if they could get together and talk, but she always resisted. Nicholas was a good man who had been caught up in the constant crossfire between her and JR. "Collateral damage," she said out loud. No. She had hurt Nicholas enough already.


Sue Ellen finished dressing and moved to her full length mirror to survey the results. "All dressed up, lots of places to go, but no one to go with."


She sat back down at the vanity to apply the final touches to her hair and makeup. She silently admitted that lack of male companionship wasn't the only thing making her lonely. She missed Pam.


Sue Ellen never had made friends very easily. She'd made an effort with Jenna, but they were just too different to form any sort of deep bond. There simply weren't many other women in Sue Ellen's life...well except for half naked underwear models. Pam had been Sue Ellen's closest friend, her only REAL friend, and she missed her terribly.


Sue Ellen stood up and reached for her purse, then hesitated when she saw her address book lying on the table. Without giving herself time to talk herself out of it, she picked up the book, flipped through the pages, found the name she was looking for, and quickly dialed the number.


"Hello?" she said when the other party picked up the line. "It's Sue Ellen. I'm sorry to be calling so early on a Saturday, but I am looking at some real estate this morning and then heading into town for lunch and shopping. I was wondering, uh...well, would you like to come along and keep me company? If you don't have other plans, of course."


Sue Ellen's face broke into a relieved smile as she heard the response. "Oh, that's wonderful! I'll see you in about an hour."


Sue Ellen placed the phone back on its cradle and hummed happily to herself. "Perhaps today will be a fun day after all!"


***


"Mornin' Clayton," JR nodded his head at his step father and leaned down to kiss Miss Ellie on the cheek, "mornin' Mama."


"Good morning, JR," Miss Ellie greeted him, gesturing for him to take a seat at the patio table across from her. "You're early. John Ross hasn't come down for breakfast yet."


"Well, I guess I was so excited about spending the day with my boy that I couldn't wait to get started," JR replied, pouring himself a cup of coffee.


"What do the two of you have planned for today?" Miss Ellie asked.


"I'm going to take him to the airfield to watch the planes take off and land. Don't know why, but the boy loves that."


JR's eyes narrowed as he caught sight of Sue Ellen walking from the sliding glass door to her car. He studied every detail of her body, her movements. He waited for her to look in his direction and silently nodded his head. She gave him a dismissive wave, climbed into her car, backed out of the driveway, and drove out of sight.


"Guess she's in a hurry this morning," he muttered.


"She said she was going to look at some houses for her and John Ross," Clayton informed him.


"How nice for her," JR's voice was full.of sarcasm. "Divorce isn't even filed yet and she's already spending the settlement."


"Now, JR," Miss Ellie admonished, "you know Sue Ellen has plenty of money of her own."


"Besides," Clayton cut in, "I thought you'd be happy about her house hunting. The sooner she leaves Southfork, the sooner you can move home."


"I kinda like living in town," JR shot back. "No interlopers to ruin my breakfast."


"JR!" Miss Ellie gasped her disapproval.


JR was about to offer a half hearted apology when the sliding glass door opened and John Ross came bounding onto the patio. "Daddy," he cried with excitement, running over and flinging himself into his father's open arms.


"Good morning, John Ross!" JR laughed wrapping his son in a bear hug. "You ready to go?"


"Yep!" John Ross nodded. "Christopher is ready too!"


"Christopher?" JR asked with surprise. "Since when is he going with us?"


"I invited him," John Ross informed his father. "He likes to watch the planes too!"


"Yes, I know he does, son. But I thought today was going to be alone time for the two of us."


John Ross shrugged. "I can't leave Christopher here all alone. Plus, me and you can spend all day tomorrow alone. Christopher is going to a movie with Uncle Cliff."


"Uncle Cliff?" JR repeated, his eyebrows shooting up, "John Ross, that man is NOT your uncle."


"He's Christopher's uncle," John Ross protested.


"But not yours," JR said firmly. "Now you go on upstairs and get Christopher. Tell him I want to leave in 15 minutes."


"Yes, Sir!" John Ross said smartly, jumping off JR's lap and running back into the house.


"Uncle Cliff?" JR looked at his mother with disbelief.


Miss Ellie said nothing, simply shrugging and taking a sip of her coffee.


"Gone three weeks and you people are already taking in more strays and bums and calling them family."


***


"Oh, Sue Ellen, I thought that last house we looked at was just lovely!"


Sue Ellen took a sip of her sweet tea and shook her head, "I don't know. I didn't like the carpeting and the master suite didn't have a fireplace."


"You can change the carpets," April laughed. "And the backyard was amazing! Huge! Perfect for John Ross. You could even put in a pool""


"Yes, I suppose," Sue Ellen agreed. "I just...I don't know, April. It just didn't speak to me. I need my new house to be perfect. I plan to raise John Ross in it and live there for the rest of my life."


April shrugged and smiled, "I guess you'll just have to keep looking then."


"Yes, I guess so," Sue Ellen laughed. "I'm so glad you were available to come with me today, April. A second opinion is always a good thing and so is the companionship."


"I have to admit I was shocked when you called to invite me," April smiled. "But I'm so glad you did!"


"Me too," Sue Ellen smiled back at her. "I really needed a friendly face to spend the day with. Since Pam's been gone…" her voice trailed off.


"That whole situation is just so awful," April said sadly. "It's eating poor Cliff alive."


"You and Cliff seem to be getting very close," Sue Ellen observed.


"He's a very good friend," April said. "I feel lucky to have him. I don't seem to be able to make friends very easily. When I first came to Dallas I was so lonely…"


"I know the feeling," Sue Ellen told her. "I don't have many friends either."


"Are you still seeing Nicholas?" April asked suddenly.


"No," Sue Ellen sighed. "He wasn't happy that I backed JR."


"That's a shame," April said. "You two looked good together."


Sue Ellen laughed. "Yes, well, I admit I miss the...company of a man, but I think I should stay on my own for a while. At least until my divorce is final."


"How's that going?" April asked.


"Oh, fine," Sue Ellen dropped her eyes to the plate of food in front of her. "JR is offering a very generous settlement. I haven't agreed yet."


"Why not?"


"I honestly don't know. Maybe I just want to make him wait on me for a change."


"Or maybe you just want to delay the divorce as long as you can," April offered.


"Why on earth would you think I'd want to do that?" Sue Ellen asked suspiciously.


"Sue Ellen, one of the reasons I don't have a lot of friends is because I can't seem to stop speaking my mind. Are you sure you want me to answer?"


"By all means, please do."


"Alright. Look, I know your marriage has been rocky for years. I know the two of you can't seem to get along for an extended period of time. But you and JR...oh, Sue Ellen, I've seen up close and personal how happy you make him. Like I told you before, he was giddy the last time you took him back. Every time I saw the two of you together, you were positively glowing."


"Yes," Sue Ellen smiled sadly. "Our happy times were very happy. But they were few and far between."


"I know," April said softly, "but I'll tell you something, Sue Ellen; I would sell my soul to have a man look at me the way that JR looks at you."


"And exactly how does JR look at me?" Sue Ellen asked.


"With pride. With desire. With love."


Sue Ellen nervously pushed her food around on her plate with her fork. "I find that hard to believe."


April shrugged. "It's the truth, Sue Ellen. And I think deep down you know there's something between you and JR that neither of you will ever find with anyone else. And you know what else? I think that's why you haven't signed your separation papers and you haven't settled on a new house."


"You weren't kidding when you said you like to speak your mind, were you?" Sue Ellen laughed nervously.


"Nope," April grinned. "But you might find having a friend that will always come right out with the truth is a good thing."


Sue Ellen smiled at April and picked up her purse, "I think you just might be right about that, April. Now, let's go spend some money!"


***


JR sat on the patio and watched Christopher and John Ross splash around in the pool.


"How did the plane watching go, JR?"


JR turned to see his mother take a seat beside him at the patio table. "They both had a great time.The two of them seem to be getting awfully close. Reminds me of me and Bobby when we were that age."


"They're both going through a very hard time, JR," Miss Ellie said. "They seem to be taking great comfort in one another."


"I'm glad," JR said. "Blood kin should stick together."


"Christopher is adopted," Miss Ellie reminded him.


"He's Sue Ellen's blood kin," JR retorted. "That makes him family as far as I'm concerned."


"Speaking of Sue Ellen…"


"Don't," JR cut her off. "I don't want to discuss it."


"JR, please," Miss Ellie insisted. "I need to know how long the two of you are going to drag out this ridiculous situation! Sue Ellen and John Ross here at Southfork while you live in town like some kind of unattached bachelor!"


"I promised Sue Ellen I would stay away until she found a house. I'm going to keep that promise."


"But why, JR?" Miss Ellie.demanded, "you've never cared to keep a promise to her before. And it's causing such a scandal!"


"Let people talk," JR sighed. "I'm not moving back here and forcing her to live with me. That's my final word, Mama."


"I don't understand this at all, JR," Miss Ellie said. "You don't seem to be even TRYING to get your marriage back on track this time."


"Mama, see my boy over there?" he pointed at John Ross. "He needs his mama. He needs her to be strong, healthy, and sober. Forcing Sue Ellen to live with me and deal with my presence on a daily basis might push her to do something we'll all regret."


"You think she might start drinking again, JR?"


"I don't know, Mama," he answered honestly, "but I'm not willing to take the chance. I love my son; and yes, I love my wife too. Guess I just think it's high time I started acting like it."


***


Sue Ellen carefully balanced her packages in her arms and used her hip to shut the car door. She and April had shopped all afternoon and then had a lovely dinner at Scallini's. She grimaced at JR's car, parked in it's customary spot in the driveway. She had stayed out until after 9:00, certain he would be gone by the time she got home.


"You want some help with those, darlin?"


Sue Ellen was so startled she almost jumped out of her skin. Several packages crashed down on the ground around her feet. "Good Lord, JR," she seethed. "You scared the life out of me!"


"Sorry, Miss Texas," JR laughed, bending to help her pick up her things. "Looks like you had a busy day."


"Yes, I did," Sue Elken told him. "How was your day with John Ross?"


"Good. Ended up spending the day with him and Christopher both. Those two are thick as thieves."


"Yes, they have gotten very attached to one another," Sue Ellen said backing up against the car door in an attempt to put some distance between her body and JR's.


"Hmmm...which reminds me," JR said, dropping his voice to a low, seductive tone, "why is my son calling that termite Barnes uncle Cliff?"


Sue Ellen swallowed hard and shrugged her shoulders. "That's what Christopher calls him."


"Barnes hasn't been coming around here picking through my left overs again has he, darlin?"


Sue Ellen dropped the packages she had been holding and brought her right hand up to smack him hard across his face, "You bastard!"


JR moved so fast, she had no time.to react. He grabbed her arms and pinned them at her side against the car and pressed his body tightly against hers. "What's wrong, Miss Texas?" he.whispered hotly against her ear, "did I hit a nerve?"


Sue Ellen squirmed against him, desperately trying to free herself from his grasp. "Let go of me, JR," she hissed.


"I don't think so, Miss Texas," he chuckled, settling himself more firmly against her. "You might want to stop all that squirmin' though, unless of course this is what you want." He ground his hips against hers, letting her feel his full arousal.


Sue Ellen's eyes grew as wide as saucers. She stopped moving immediately. "What's wrong, JR?" she goaded him. "Can't find another woman willing to relieve you of your sexual frustration?"


JR laughed and bent his head to her neck, nipping and kissing her the way he knew always drove her wild with lust. Sue Ellen moaned against her will and her traitorous body arched against him, trying to get even closer.


"Seems to me I've found a willing woman right here," JR pulled back and looked down into her eyes. "Are you, Sue Ellen? Are you my willing woman?"


Sue Ellen struggled to breathe. She wanted him so badly. Her heart was pounding and her stomach was doing summersaults. "JR," she licked her lips, "I can't…"


JR watched her struggle with her emotions. She wanted him, but that was nothing new. She had always wanted him, just as he had always wanted her. Desire had never been their problem; but desire had never been enough.


JR pulled back reluctantly and bent to pick up her packages once more. "You need some help getting these into the house?"


Sue Ellen was stunned, both from the loss of the heat from his body and by how easily he had given up on seducing her. The JR she knew would never have let her off the hook so easily. "No thank you," she said with as much dignity as she could muster.


JR let his gaze lock with hers for just a moment before turning away and walking to his car. "I'll be back in the morning for John Ross."


Sue Ellen stood in the driveway and watched his car drive away until his tail lights disappeared. "What just happened?" She whispered to herself. In all the years she and JR had been together - or apart - he had never backed away from her when he had his mind made up to take her, no matter how much she protested. What's different, she wondered. Has JR finally tired of the chase after all these years?


Sue Ellen didn't like that thought at all. Even in their worst times, he always wanted her - always chased her. Sue Ellen let herself cry for the first time in a long time. She had a sinking feeling she needed to face the cold, hard fact that this time her marriage really WAS over for good.


***
 

zephiey

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JR is finally growing up. Now he just has to stop misinterpreting signals or he and Sue Ellen are really going to end up divorced. Come on JR, talk to the woman honestly and stop thinking you know what she wants!
 

Justine

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So, I decided to wait to read your story until I re-watched "Top Gun" (which I did today) and I am obsessed.

I'm very surprised at how mature J.R. seems to be and can't wait for more chapters :)
 

CeeCee72

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So, I decided to wait to read your story until I re-watched "Top Gun" (which I did today) and I am obsessed.

I'm very surprised at how mature J.R. seems to be and can't wait for more chapters :)
I'm trying very hard not to make JR too soft. I keep thinking about the maturity he showed with Sue Ellen in season 8 after Bobby was shot and in season 10 after the BD Calhoun mess. I hope I am striking a decent balance.
 

Karin Schill

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I think you are. The way you're writing them seems right to me. There's definitely sexual tension between them. Gotta love that.

It was nice to see Sue Ellen and April hanging out.

Also uncle Cliff! Lol
JR's comments about Cliff was hilarious.
 

CeeCee72

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I don't own any of the characters in this story and no copyright infringement is intended..


This is a "What if?" fanfic. What if in the season eleven episode "Top Gun" Sue Ellen had changed her mind at the last possible moment and instead of teaming up with Kimberly and Wendell to beat JR she voted her Weststar shares to make him CEO?


***


What If


Part 4


"I mean it, Uncle Cliff!!" Christopher crossed his arms on his chest and stomped his foot."If John Ross can't go, I'm not going!"


Cliff sighed and ran an exasperated hand through his hair, "Christopher, I'm sorry. John Ross can't come. You know his daddy doesn't like me."


"So what?" Christopher demanded. "Uncle JR is a jerk! He was supposed to come get John Ross today but he never showed up!"


Cliff shot Bobby a disgusted look, but Bobby just shrugged. "Be that as it may, Christopher," Cliff said with forced patience, "I still can't take John Ross anywhere against his parent's wishes."


"What's going on?"


Bobby, Cliff, and Christopher all turned their head in the direction of Sue Ellen's voice.


"Uncle Cliff says John Ross can't come to the movies with us because you and Uncle JR wouldn't like it. But I'm not leaving him!" Christopher fumed.


"Oh, well...uh…" Sue Ellen struggled to find the right words so her nephew would understand, "Christopher, sometimes grown ups are silly aren't they?"


"Yes!" Christopher agreed. "They sure are!"


"Cliff, would you mind terribly taking John Ross along?" Sue Ellen asked.


"No. Of course not!" Cliff said. "But JR will blow a gasket when he finds out!"


"If JR truly cared about where his son is and what he's doing, he wouldn't have stood him up this morning," Sue Ellen said with finality. "It's fine with me if John Ross goes with you, Cliff."


"Just great," Cliff muttered. "Well, I guess that's settled."


Bobby had watched the whole scene unfold in silence, but finally spoke. "Christopher, why don't you go on upstairs and tell John Ross the good news."


"Cool!" Christopher grabbed Cliff's hand and pulled him along behind him. "You come too, Uncle Cliff!"


Sue Ellen smiled as she watched Christopher drag Cliff along. Her smile froze when she saw the furious look on Bobby's face. "What is it, Bobby?"


"You know Sue Ellen, I never involve myself in your relationship with JR. But I'm warning you. It's bad enough when you use Cliff to make JR jealous of YOU, but using Cliff to come between JR and John Ross is a low I never thought you'd stoop to."


"I don't know what you're talking about, Bobby," Sue Ellen defended. "I'm not using Cliff for anything!"


"I hope so, Sue Ellen," Bobby said coldly, "because if you're playing some kind of dangerous game, you should know John Ross is the one who will lose."


***


JR glanced at his watch and grimaced when he saw the time. He had truly hoped he'd finish up in the office early enough to salvage some of the day with John Ross, but it was already passed 5:00.


He reached out and pressed the intercom button on his phone. "Sly, could you come in here a minute?"


Seconds later, his office door opened and Sly was standing in front of his desk. "Yes, JR?"


"Can you take care of ordering some flowers for the three families? I'll write a personal note to go with them."


"Sure, JR."


"And call that detective that was in here this morning and tell him I want to meet with him first thing in the morning."


"Yes, JR. Anything else?"


"No, you can go on home," JR told her. "Thanks for coming in on a Sunday."


"Of course, JR," Sly said. "Do you want me to order you something to eat before I leave.?


"No thank you, Sly. I'll see you tomorrow."


JR turned his attention back to the papers on his desk. He kept reading the same reports over and over. Three men dead. How did it happen? How does an explosion just happen on a rig without leaving any physical evidence of the cause behind? Why the hell hadn't that detective been able to tell him one damn meaningful thing?


He got up and moved to the bar to fix himself a drink. He needed to call John Ross and apologize again for missing their day together. He knew the boy was really disappointed. It really couldn't be helped though. Once JR had gotten the news of the rig explosion, he'd had no choice but to come into the office and clean up the mess.


He sat down behind his desk, reached for the phone, and dialed Southfork's number.


It only rang twice before he heard the most beautiful sound on earth - Sue Ellen's voice.


"Hello?"


"It's me, darlin'," JR drawled. "Can I talk to our son"


"I'm sorry, JR. He's out," came the curt reply.


"Out without his mama?" JR asked lazily. "Does that mean you're there all by yourself? Feeling a little lonely?"


"I'm not alone, JR," Sue Ellen said stiffly. "The whole family is here, except for John Ross and Christopher."


"Too bad," JR teased. "I was going to offer to come keep you company."


"Go to hell, JR!" Sue Ellen snapped.


JR laughed out loud. Sue Ellen could almost hear the grin in his voice. "It's so easy to get under your skin, Miss Texas."


"Glad you managed to amuse yourself, JR," Sue Ellen said sharply. "Goodnight."


"Wait!" JR stopped her from hanging up. "If the whole family is there, who is out with John Ross and Christopher?"


"Well, if you must know," Sue Ellen sniffed, "Uncle Cliff took them to the movies then out for pizza."


"Uncle Cliff?" JR's voice changed to an almost feral growl. "You let my son go off in the company of that Barnes bastard?"


"Now, listen, JR…"


"No, YOU listen," JR interrupted her. "Sue Ellen, I don't care what pathetic creatures you invite into your cold bed, but you keep your flings away from our son!"


"Now, just a minute, JR…"


"Shut up," he warned her. "I'm on my way to Southfork. John Ross had BETTER be there when I get home. And Barnes had better NOT be there!"


JR slammed the phone down with violent force.


"I don't know what kind of game you're playing, Miss Texas," he snarled, "but whatever it is, it ends tonight."


***

JR stepped out of his car, slammed the door and turned toward the house. He was just about to storm inside when dim lights coming down the driveway caught his eye.


He had stewed all the way over on the drive from Dallas. How dare Sue Ellen use John Ross to get back at him this way? He had given her everything she wanted and more and still it wasn't good enough - still she seemed to need to make him suffer.


Jr leaned against his car and watched Cliff pull into a parking spot. The car had barely come to a complete stop when the back passenger door flew open and John Ross came running out, "Daddy!" he yelled wrapping his arms around JR's legs. "You came to see me!"


"Of course I did, son,"JR laughed picking John Ross up and wrapping him a tight hug. "Sorry I had to go into the office this morning."


"It's okay, Daddy! I had a great time with Christopher, Uncle Cliff, and April!"


"April?" JR asked, surprised. He.looked over and saw the three of them getting out of Cliff's car. Wait a minute, JR thought to himself, if Sue Ellen was messing around with Cliff there was no way she'd let him run around with April.


"Hi, JR," April walked over to him, grinning from ear to ear. "Long time, no see."


"April," he let go of John Ross and tipped his hat, "You're looking well. Surprised to see you here though."


"Cliff was worried he couldn't handle both boys at once so he asked me to come along as backup," she laughed. "We had a great time, didn't we John Ross?"


"Boy did we ever!" John Ross gushed. "We went to an arcade!"


"Yeah!" Christopher chimed in, running up to them. "And April was so good at all the games! She won all the prizes!"


"Is that right?" JR asked, sliding his eyes over in Cliff's direction.


"Don't look at me," Cliff said nervously. "I sucked at the games. I just provided the quarters."


"Uh huh," JR replied. "John Ross, why don't you and Christopher run along inside and tell your mama all about the movie and show her the prizes Miss April won for you."


"Yeah!" Come on Christopher!" John Ross started to run toward the house, but suddenly stopped and turned back to them. "Thanks for letting me come, Uncle Cliff. I had a great time."


Cliff shuffled his feet and looked uncomfortable. "You know what, John Ross? I had a great time too. Thank you for coming with us."


"Uncle Cliff?"


Cliff looked down to see Christopher staring up at him with wide eyes. "Yes?"


"I really love you a lot."


Cliff felt a lump forming in this throat. He dropped to his knees and gave Christopher a tight hug. "I really love you a lot too."


Cliff let go of the boy and watched while he and John Ross trudged happily into the house.


"I think I'll go inside for a minute too," April said, shoving her hands deep into the pockets on her sweater. "I want to ask Sue Ellen if she's free for lunch tomorrow. Be back in a minute, Cliff. Goodnight, JR."


Cliff waited until April was safely out of earshot before throwing his hands out in front of him in an frustrated gesture. "Now listen, JR, I don't want any trouble."


"Really?" JR demanded, "then why are you traipsing all over Dallas with my son?"


"I tried to tell them, JR," Cliff groaned. "I tried to tell Bobby, I tried to tell Sue Ellen, I even tried to tell Christopher! But JR, none of the adults would back me up and Christopher was begging and refusing to go without John Ross and once Sue Ellen said it was okay, I lost all control of the situation! I told them you'd blow a gasket!"


Cliff stopped talking and waited for JR to say something, but JR remained silent, simply glaring at Cliff with icy eyes.


"Alright, JR. Fine. If you want to slug me, just get it over with - but I'm not going into your pool again!"


"I'm not going to slug you, Barnes," JR finally said.


"You're not?" Cliff asked doubtfully.


"No. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd enjoy it immensely, but my nephew would never forgive me and it seems my son would be pretty upset about it too.."


"Really? Cliff sounded almost hopeful.


"Are you sleeping with my wife, Barnes?" JR demanded abruptly.


"Whoa, wait, JR. What?"


"You heard me, Barnes," JR growled.


"Hey, JR, now listen," Cliff sighed. "I know you have no respect for my intelligence, but believe me when I say twice in a lifetime of getting between you and Sue Ellen was more than enough for me. No, I'm not sleeping with her and no I have no interest in sleeping with her."


JR considered the other man in silence for a moment. "Funny thing," he finally said, "yesterday I took John Ross out for a day of fun. But he wouldn't budge from this house until I agreed to let Christopher come with us."


"That's what I'm trying to tell you, JR. I really had no choice. This situation with Pam...well, I just couldn't say no, JR. It would have been cruel."


"Let's get something straight, Barnes," JR said lowly, "I don't like you. I never have liked you. I never will like you. But we both love Christopher and Christopher and John Ross need each other right now. So, I'll tolerate you for the time being for the sake of my son and my nephew. But let's be clear about Sue Ellen. I catch you near her and I'll do a lot worse than slug you or throw you into the pool. Understand?"


"Totally understand," Cliff held out his hand to JR. "Deal."


"I'm not shaking your hand Barnes" JR growled, "this is only a temporary truce."


"Fine by me," Cliff said, dropping his hand, "I'll take whatever I can get."


***


"Are the boys finally asleep?" Bobby asked, rising to fix his brother a drink.


"Not asleep, but in bed at least," JR laughed. "Those two are a handful."


"That they are," Bobby agreed, holding the glass out to JR. "We could use your help with them around here."


JR sighed and took the drink Bobby was offering him. "I can't come home, Bob. Not yet."


"Yet?" Bobby repeated. "Should I take that to mean you're planning to reconcile with Sue Ellen or that you're waiting for her to move into her own house?"


"I don't have any plans regarding Sue Ellen," JR told him. "I backed off like she asked. I offered her a painless divorce. All that's left for me to do is wait for her to make a decision."


"Oh, come on, JR," Bobby rolled his eyes. "All these years you have schemed and manipulated that woman to get her to do exactly what you wanted. Half the time pushing her to stay, the other half making her life a living hell so she'd go. You really expect me to believe now you're just standing back and letting her make her own decisions?"


"It's true, Bob," JR confessed, "and it's really none of your business."


"Don't give me that, JR," Bobby shot back, "the two of you MAKE it my business when you involve my family in the sick little games you play with each other."


"What are you talking about, Bob?" JR's eyes narrowed.


"Cliff and Christopher! Sue Ellen sending John Ross off with them today! The only reason she would have done that was to get at you! And you, you took the bait hook, line, and sinker - coming over here and confronting Cliff in the driveway!" Bobby took a deep breath and considered his next words carefully. "JR, with Pam disappearing so suddenly from our lives...Christopher is fragile. And Cliff has been a lifeline for him. I.won't allow Sue Ellen's attention seeking and your pettiness take Cliff out of my son's life!"


JR turned away from his brother and stared blankly out into space. "Bob, want to know what Barnes and I talked about?"


"Not really, JR," Bobby sighed. "I'm afraid to ask."


JR turned back to his brother and looked him in the eyes. "We called a temporary truce," he said quietly, "for Christopher's sake."


"JR, I wish I could believe that."


"Believe it, Bob. I've done a lot of things in my life I'm not proud of," JR admitted, "but even I wouldn't take Cliff away from Christopher right now. As for Sue Ellen…" he paused and took a long drink of his bourbon, "I'm sure she expected to get a reaction out of me over letting John Ross go off with Barnes, but I think her intentions were pure. Those boys are joined at the hip these days. She just wanted to do what was best for them."


"JR…" Bobby's voice trailed off as he studied his brother's face. He looked tired - haggard almost. "JR, if I misjudged you and Sue Ellen in this situation, I apologize."


"No need to apologize, Bob," JR assured him, tossing back the last of his drink. "Not like I can blame you, given our track record."


Bobby said nothing as he watched JR walk over and place his empty glass on the bar. JR took a deep breath and turned his eyes toward the staircase.


"Well, like I said, my wife is probably expecting a reaction from me. Guess I shouldn't keep her waiting any longer."


***
 
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