Author: EHfan PM
As Rachel approaches the end of her medical leave, she and Jacob realize that their relationship has undergone some changes. A few scenes make this rated M, but overall, it is rated T.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Chapters: 14 - Words: 54,389 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 7 - Published: 07-04-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6110028
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jacob grumbled as Rachel slipped from his arms. She froze for a moment, but he didn't fully wake. She smiled; this was a first for them. She was awake before him. The truth of the matter was that she was too keyed up to sleep. This morning marked another turning point in their relationship and Rachel wasn't sure if Jacob realized it. Today she would be examined by the Bureau shrink and it would be determined if she was fit for duty. If she was, well that meant their lives would change, once again.
Rachel made coffee and stood looking out the window as the early morning darkness of the city began to lighten. She reflected on the past two days. Monday hadn't been too bad. They had managed to move most of Rachel's clothes and personal items to Jacob's apartment. While Jacob had no problem emptying drawers or making room in his closet for her things; he had made several pointed comments on how many pairs of almost identical black shoes she owned. She wrinkled her nose. She didn't know how she was going to break it to him that along with her summer clothes, she had only moved her summer shoe wardrobe.
His behavior in Deale had been eye-opening. She had been surprised by his reaction to Charlie's presence. He had ferreted out details about Charlie's marital status, family connections, and employment status. Rachel had been impressed with his interrogation technique. It also shed a great deal of light on their relationship.
Jacob had always, from the first, tried to protect her. She had assumed, originally, it stemmed from his discomfort at having a female bodyguard. As their friendship developed, she had attributed it to a natural concern for a friend. She had never dreamed this instinct was so deeply ingrained in him. The man obviously believed in protecting his own. She wondered how she could have been so blind about his feelings for her for so long. She also wondered how they were going to maintain a professional relationship now that they were lovers.
She shuddered as she recalled the visit to the gynecologist. It had started out well, at least from her point of view. He was the only male present. The waiting patients, mostly in various stages of pregnancy, were all smiling at him. It made Jacob vaguely uncomfortable. Rachel had grinned when Jacob had leaned over to whisper in her ear.
"Why are they all smiling at me?"
"They assume I'm pregnant and you're being a stand-up daddy; coming to my appointments with me."
Jacob had blushed, but before she could enjoy his discomfort, they had been called into Dr. Park's office. Rachel could only imagine that Dr. Parks wasn't used to having someone so medically informed with whom to discuss birth control. She barely managed to inform the doctor that she was interested in changing her method of birth control before Jacob and the doctor began a spirited debate over which form would work best for her.
They had almost decided that the contraceptive injection would be the most reliable option since Jacob indicated that he was more than qualified to handle the necessary injections. Rachel put her foot down. There was no way in hell, she had informed them, and she was going to let Jacob give her a shot in the ass every three months. They had walked out of the doctor's office with a prescription for and a three month sample pack of a birth control patch.
Their plans for the rest of the day were disrupted by Felix. He called as they were leaving the doctor's office. He wanted to meet them in the coffee shop around the corner from the Hoover Building. They had been surprised and concerned by the grim look on his face. Rachel's first thought was that somehow, someway, their relationship had become common knowledge. It was a relief to discover that Felix's concerns were entirely personal.
Felix, it turned out, needed a new place to live and he needed it now. Things had come to a head the day before. He and his roommates had hosted a Memorial Day picnic that had gotten a little out of hand. One of his roommates had gotten drunk; he had made a pass at Felix's new girlfriend. While that was bad enough, he had then proceeded to throw up on said girlfriend. Felix figured the only way to salvage the relationship change his living arrangements fast.
Felix was thrilled with the scheme Jacob had devised. Rachel was thrilled, when during his inspection of her apartment, Felix asked if she would be willing to sublet the apartment furnished. He had shrugged and explained he had a futon, dresser and bookcase. He was more than happy to leave them behind and gradually replace her things with his own. The rest of the day was spent attending to the legal formalities needed to make their living arrangements happen.
Rachel' musings were interrupted as a pair of arms circled her waist. Jacob pulled her up against his chest, kissed the side of her neck.
"Hey, what are you doing up so early? I thought I was the one with insomnia?"
Rachel leaned back against him. "I'm thinking about today; guess I'm getting a little nervous."
"Why would you be nervous, you've recovered fully from your injury, you're not having any psych problems; I would think this visit to the Bureau shrink is just a formality."
"That's not what's bothering me."
Jacob gently turned Rachel in his arms, a concerned look on his face. "What is it sweetheart, what's the matter?"
Rachel sighed, tugged Jacob over to the sofa. "Come on, sit down, we need to talk."
Jacob's lips twitched. "You know, I think I read somewhere that no conversation in the history of the world that began 'we need to talk' has ever gone well."
"I'm serious Jacob." Rachel frowned, uncertain how to begin. "So much has changed for us. I mean, look where we were a week ago."
"A week ago? Well, I was spending the night upstairs in the guest room feeling incredibly frustrated and you were asleep downstairs."
Rachel shook her head in exasperation. "I'm not joking Jacob, I meant, where were we in our relationship a week ago?"
He shrugged. "I'm not trying to be obtuse, honestly. But I don't see what you're trying to say here. A week ago we finally stopped lying to ourselves and each other." He reached over to touch her face. "We became lovers."
"It's more than that. Our relationship changed when we started sleeping together. Before, I was your handler, bodyguard, your protection detail. You were my assignment."
"Sweetheart," Jacob smiled. "I think our relationship changed more than once since we've been together. Like I told Frank, you may have started out as my bodyguard, but it didn't take long before I considered you my partner." He looked at her steadily, "and I thought it was a long time since I was just an assignment to you."
Rachel nodded in acknowledgment. "You're right. It didn't take long for me to think of you as a friend, a partner, not just an assignment. So I guess we could consider that the first change in our relationship. But," she added softly, "it was still professional, strictly professional.
Then I almost died. We both did some serious thinking, realized that we did love each other and didn't want to pretend anymore. When we became lovers, well that was another change. I was ok with that change, being with you more than made up for not being able to work with you. Then our miracle happened, the Director agreed that we could still be partners."
Jacob shook his head, "Rachel, I'm sorry; I truly don't see what's troubling you. Now we're lovers and partners. I mean, it's what we wished for. We have the best of both worlds."
"That's the problem. We haven't lived in both worlds, have we? We've only lived in our own little world. It's almost like we were on a honeymoon. But tomorrow, things are going to change again."
"Why, why do things have to change? I mean, we go on working together like we always have."
"Will we? Will we go back to the way we acted before?" Rachel looked at Jacob steadily. "What are you going to call me?"
Jacob looked confused. "I've always called you Rachel; don't tell me that I've got to call you Agent Young?"
"No, but you sure as hell can't call me sweetheart when we're working. And," she continued, "Where were you planning to sleep when we're in the field?"
Jacob's eyes widened. "Ah, no, Rachel, you're not…."
She interrupted, "and when you have speaking engagements, I won't be going with you. Since I'm not your bodyguard there's no reason for me to be there." Jacob opened his mouth, but she overruled him. "No, I can't go as your date. That wouldn't be appropriate.
We've joked about having to be discreet, but well, it's not a joke is it? We need to figure this out Jacob. It's serious. You remember what the Director's first reaction was when McGruder told him that we were lovers? He wanted to fire me. We can't have people gossiping about us, speculating about our relationship."
"According to McGruder, people were already gossiping about us," Jacob protested. "So what difference does it make now?"
Rachel's cheeks turned pink. "He was talking about old gossip. He was right, there was a lot of speculation after I was assigned to you. It died down quickly." A fierce look came over her face. "I made damn sure of that. "
"I had no idea."
"Of course you didn't." Rachel raised an eyebrow. "I also made damn sure of that. It would have embarrassed you, maybe made you request my transfer. There was no way I was going to fail on an assignment because of some malicious gossip."
Jacob shook his head in bewilderment. "If you took care of the gossip before, why don't you just do the same thing again? I don't see the problem."
"I was able to take care of the gossip before because it was unfounded. Now," Rachel shrugged, "Suppose we do share a room, a bed, in the field. What happens when something breaks in the middle of the night? Or if we get called to a hospital or crime scene? And the local LEO or, even worse, the local field agent finds us together? Word that we're sleeping together will be all over the Bureau in a heartbeat."
"I thought the whole point of you being transferred from the EPD was so that we could be together. Now you're telling me we can't?"
Rachel leaned into Jacob, hugging him tightly. "Of course not. I love you and that's not going to change. Like I said, we just need to be discreet when we're working. I think the best way to accomplish that is to act as if we don't have a personal relationship, that it's still strictly business between us."
"But our relationship has changed and I think we need to acknowledge that when we're in the field." Jacob held up a hand to forestall Rachel's protest. "I'm not talking about our personal relationship. That's nobody's damn business. I'm talking about our working relationship. You're not my protection detail, you're my partner. So no more of this nonsense about my staying in the car or behind the lines. I stay at your side, period."
Rachel sighed. They had finally come to the point she knew would cause the most difficulty. The issue of her safety. "No, I'm not your bodyguard, but I am the senior agent on this team. It is my responsibility to insure the safety of everyone on the team. Even, especially, you."
"Why the hell are you the senior agent," Jacob demanded indignantly. Why can't I be…." he trailed off.
"Finally remembered that you're not an agent, huh?" Rachel shook her head. "Your status hasn't changed. You are still a civilian employee and a valuable asset. I'm the agent in charge." Her face softened. "I know how hard it will be for you, I saw how you were with Alex, about Charlie."
"What do you mean?"
"How protective you are, were. I know that you feel that you should be the one protecting me, but you can't. You have to accept that when it comes to doing my job, I have to be the one to make the decisions, I have to decide what risks to take. "
"Shh," Rachel laid a finger against his lips. "Let me finish. I will promise you that I won't take any risks unless I deem them absolutely essential. No heroics, no acting like a cowboy. I will wait for backup. But I need to be able to do my job."
Jacob sighed and held Rachel tighter. He hated the fact that she was right. Demanding that she not protect him, to avoid any danger that might arise in the field, would be demanding that she not do her job. He did need to curb his protective instincts when they were working. She was a highly trained agent, more able to handle the risks they faced than he. Logically, he knew that his trying to protect her could prove counter-productive, expose them both to danger.
He knew how important her work was to her, it was a large part of who she was. To ask her to change the way she worked would be the same as asking her to change herself. To change from the Rachel he fell in love with.
"I promise I'll try not to be overly protective. I won't challenge you in front of others, I won't question your decisions." Jacob's lips twitched. "At least not any more than I've been doing. And I'm still gonna watch your back as much as I can."
Rachel laughed softly. "Ok, I guess we can use that as a baseline working relationship."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rachel took a deep breath as she gazed at the Hoover Building. Although she had only been on leave a little over eight weeks, she still had butterflies in her stomach at the thought of crossing the street and entering that building. Damn. It felt almost like it did when she was a rookie, reporting for her first day. She glanced at her watch, it was almost 9:30. Her appointment with the Bureau shrink was at 10:00. She and Jacob had arranged to bump into each other in the staff cafeteria. This would give him, them, an excuse for his accompanying her. Taking another deep breath, Rachel plunged across the street and through the doors.
She hesitated briefly at the entrance to the cafeteria. Despite the early hour, the place was bustling. Her attention was caught by someone calling out her name.
"Hey, Rachel! Good to see you back, do you have time for a cup of coffee?" The speaker was a tall black woman, about Rachel's own age. She was sitting with a two other agents. "Come on, sit down."
"Thanks, Donna," Rachel smiled gratefully. In truth, she had been worried how she would be received by her fellow agents. Jacob had, after all, taken down the Deputy Director. Yes, the man had had committed serious crimes, but some agents were known to cut their colleagues much more slack than they would a common criminal. Hell, some of them might even have thought that Sofia had driven Wynne to the breaking point. Rachel's only contacts with the Bureau since being on leave had been Jacob and Felix. She was unsure which way the wind would be blowing. Rachel grabbed a cup of coffee and joined them.
"Rachel, this is Gary Ohagan and Tony Merkel, they work with me over in white collar crime. Guys, this is Rachel Young, she's with the EPD."
Rachel nodded an acknowledgement, wincing inwardly as the two men's eyes widened slightly at the mention of her name. She braced herself for their reaction.
"Yeah? That was a good job that Hood guy did." said Merkel. "Bringing down that bastard Wynne. Man, I always thought he was to smooth for his own good." Donna and the other agent nodded grimly. None of the agents could forget, nor forgive, that Wynne had lied about Hood's involvement with Sofia Lyons.
Wynne had led the agents involved in the manhunt to believe that Hood was complicit in the injuries Rachel had received; that he had betrayed her. When the truth came out, the agents had been appalled. Wynne had deliberately incited their anger against Hood. They knew that if they had caught up with Hood, they would have shot first, asked questions later. It was bad enough to discover that his messy personal life had led to an agent being seriously injured. To discover that he had almost manipulated them into taking an innocent man's life put Wynne beyond the pale.
"Glad to see you're ok," he added gruffly. "You back to work yet?"
"I've been cleared by my doctor," Rachel replied. "But I have to see the shrink at ten. You know how that goes, with luck I'll be cleared to be back on duty right away, but…" She shrugged. The others nodded in commiseration. Like most of the agents, they had a poor opinion of psychiatrists. "But I'm not with the EPD anymore," she added smiling. "I've been promoted and put in charge of a new unit; Scientific Investigations."
Rachel was explaining her new posting, how it differed from the technology, cybercrimes, and forensic science divisions, when a commotion at the door caught their attention. It was Jacob and Felix. Felix was visibly upset and arguing with Jacob.
Jacob broke off his argument with Felix as soon as he spotted Rachel. "Thank god, Rachel can take care of this." He strode over toward her.
"But Doc," Felix protested in his wake, "you pissed of Carla from Accounting."
Jacob paused at the table where Rachel was sitting. He absently nodded to her companions, and forgetting their carefully pre-arranged plan, launched into speech. "It's good your back, you need to take care of that appalling woman."
Rachel tipped her head back and grinned up at him. "I'm not back."
Jacob frowned. "Stand up," he ordered her abruptly.
Fighting her own grin, and ignoring the smiles of her companions, Rachel stood.
"Ok, what now?"
"Balance on your right leg"
Rachel complied, to the evident amusement of, not only those sitting at her table, but also the ones around them. "Happy?"
Jacob nodded. Hands in his pockets, he titled his head to one side and bit his bottom lip. "Having any nightmares? Problems sleeping? Any depression or anxiety attacks?"
Rachel shook her head no to each question.
Jacob folded his arms across his chest and narrowed his eyes. "Well, your leg is fine, and you don't seem to be having any psychological problems, so as far as I' concerned, you're back. And you need to take care of that woman."
Rachel shifted her gaze to an unhappy Felix. She raised an eyebrow.
"Ah, ma'am, it's like this. Carla? From Accounting? She called with some questions about our expenses from when we were in Duluth. And uh,.."
"She was abusive to Felix and rude to me," Jacob said. "So I hung up on her."
The agents with Rachel all cringed. "Oh man," said Ohagan, "you didn't piss off Carla from Accounting? You might as well give it up right now."
Rachel stood thinking, running over what she knew of Jacob's cases for the past two months, but she couldn't remember a Duluth.
"When were you in Duluth?" she asked Felix.
"Umm, we left for there when you were still in the hospital."
Rachel's frowned, "But that's almost two months ago. Why is Carla only getting on your case about those expenses now?"
Felix shifted uneasily. "Well, uh, I just got around to filing the expense report."
Rachel closed her eyes and groaned theatrically. "How big is the backup in the paperwork?"
"Almost two months."
Rachel's eyes snapped open. "Two months? Two freaking months? Are you telling me that you haven't done any paperwork since I've been out?"
"No, ma'am, it's not that bad," Felix reassured her hastily. "It's the expense reports that are backed up. The other reports." He shrugged. "I'm almost finished with the one for Boston."
"Why in the world would you do the case reports and not the expense reports?" Rachel exclaimed, "The case reports can wait, shit, you should know you don't want to piss off Carla!"
"But ma'am," Felix protested, "the case reports go to the Director, I thought…"
"The Director can wait, but …!" Rachel shook her head. "And why would you let Hood talk to her? You should know he'd just piss her off even more."
Rachel was so intent on what she was telling Felix, she didn't notice that the cafeteria had grown quiet.
"What can I wait for?" A voice inquired from behind her. The Director pulled Rachel into his side with a one-armed hug. "Rachel, good to see you back."
Frank turned to Jacob with a look of exasperation, his arm still slung over Rachel's shoulder. "And who in the hell did you piss of now? Jesus, Jacob, you haven't been back from suspension for ninety minutes, that's quick work even for you."
"I didn't do anything," Jacob exclaimed. "Some woman called and was abusing Felix…."
Felix cut in, "uh, sir, there were some questions about our expenses from a case in Duluth."
"Ah, geez," Frank winced. "You didn't piss off Carla from Accounting did you?" He dropped his arm from Rachel's shoulders. "Well, hard as it may be for her to believe, Carla will have to wait."
He turned to Rachel. "I've been looking for the three of you. You need to get upstairs and get cleared by Summers. He has your weapon, so as soon as you're finished with him, get to my office."
"Sir," Rachel began, "my appointment with Dr. Summers isn't until…"
"Your appointment is for when you walk in his door." Frank interrupted. "I've already spoken to Summers. He's to see you and clear you ASAP. I need you to take your team out, immediately. We've had a call from the Maine CDC; something about an unusual outbreak of red tide disease. Get moving, I don't want to hold up the briefing."
Frank walked from the cafeteria, accompanied by Felix and Jacob, who was peppering him with questions. As they reached the door, Frank looked over his shoulder. "And quit calling me sir."
Rachel stood gaping. She looked down at Donna and the other two agents who were regarding her with awe. "Did the Director just order you to call him by his first name?"
"I'm not sure," Rachel grinned, "but it looks like I'm back on the job."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A short time later the small team was on a plane heading for Maine. Rachel marveled at how normal, how right the situation felt. At how quickly they had all three fallen back into their routine. Jacob, on her right side, carefully reading the files the Maine CDC had emailed them; Felix on her left going over the logistics of their trip. Jacob finally looked up from his files, a thoughtful look on his face.
"You know," he began, "the origins of the name of red tide disease is interesting…."
Rachel smiled to herself, as she turned toward Jacob, an attentive look on her face. Some things she thought would never change.