|One is the Loneliest Number
Author: EHfan PM
Rachel wonders if her feelings of loneliness have anything to do with her growing friendship with Hood. A missing scene and a continuation of the final scene of Titans.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship - Words: 2,675 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 1 - Published: 09-09-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7367481
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Another in the missing scenes series. There are two points in Titans that always intrigued me. The first is that oh so convenient text message when Rachel is about to fall into bed with Miller. The second is the look on Rachel's face at the very end. She sits there on the bleachers looking so sad, I've always wondered what was on her mind. So I decided to write a story that connects the two.
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Jacob Hood looked up from the microscope he had been peering into and gave a huff of irritation as he looked at his cell phone. It had been almost an hour since Rachel and the college's head of security had gone off to check on the backgrounds of the students who had administered the flu vaccines. Surely it shouldn't take this long, shouldn't she have checked in by now?
'What's the big deal?' The rationale part of his brain couldn't understand his irritation. 'You've got plenty to do here in the lab, it's not like you need her for anything right now.'
Jacob acknowledged the truth of that statement. Right now the best chance they had to save Isaac lay in his and Dr. Ruscillo identifying and successfully reverse engineering the gene that was producing the excess nitrous oxide. There was nothing Rachel could do that would make that process go any faster. Still, for some reason, he found himself vaguely annoyed that Rachel was absent from the lab for so long.
He didn't fully understand why. As their relationship evolved, as Rachel became more of a partner and less of a bodyguard, he was used to her taking off on her own to track down leads. Especially if, as was the case here, he was established in a secure location and would be staying put for the foreseeable future.
The less rationale part of his brain, the part that was increasingly interested in Rachel and her activities, had no problem coming up with an explanation. 'What? Afraid she's fooling around with Miller? She was drooling over him earlier, wasn't she?'
Jacob's lips tightened as he pushed those thoughts away. Rachel hadn't been drooling over Miller; she had merely expressed admiration at his record, nothing more than that. Even if she was, what she did and who she did it with was none of his damn business. Rachel had made that abundantly clear a few months after she had been assigned to his detail.
It was after one of her weekends off. Since they seemed to be getting along so much better, he had thought that the polite, friendly thing to do would be to ask if she had had a good weekend. She had haughtily lifted one eyebrow, coolly stared at him for a few seconds, and answered simply 'yes'. He had never asked again.
He didn't really think she was having sex with Miller. While Jacob didn't think she lived a celibate lifestyle, she was much too professional to engage in an affair in the middle of a case. Even so, Jacob couldn't stop himself from glaring at his silent cell phone. She was supposed to be available to help him, damn it.
He sat back with a soft sigh and slumped shoulders. He flashed a small smile in Dr. Ruscillo's direction when she looked up at him inquiringly. Reassured that he didn't need her attention the woman turned back to her work.
He needed to concentrate on the problem at hand and find a solution now. So far all of the leads they had so painstakingly followed had proved to be dead ends. And even if he and Dr. Ruscillo could identify the gene involved, there was no guarantee that they would be able to neutralize it. But there wasn't enough information to keep his mind fully occupied so thoughts of Rachel began demanding attention.
Part of him wanted to blame Alex for these anomalous thoughts. 'The lovely Rachel, indeed,' he softly snorted. Like he hadn't noticed that she was a beautiful woman. Although it was true, as he had told Alex that their relationship was strictly professional, his innate sense of honesty forced him to admit that his thoughts about Rachel had been taking a distinctly different direction lately.
It wasn't merely that he was coming to recognize that he found her sexually appealing. After all, he was a normal male, able to appreciate a beautiful, sexy woman. But that, he hastily assured himself, didn't mean that he was interested in acting on those feelings. He simply wasn't ready to move on in that way.
What was more disturbing was the realization that he was becoming increasingly irritated by her casual dismissal of any evidence that he could be a man that women wanted, that he was a sexually appealing male. He frowned as he remembered that case in LA a few months back. Rachel had rolled her eyes when the college student he had recruited as a lab assistant made a pass at him. And she had sounded incredulous when she had informed him that detective, Cordero, found him attractive.
He wondered if that was the reason he had told Rachel not to knock sex in a plane until she tried it. To let her know that a woman had wanted him enough to risk having sex in a semi-public place. To let her know he was the kind of man who, if he wanted a woman enough, would have sex in a semi-public place. If so, he didn't think he had been successful. Her 'way to go Hood' had sounded amused, as if she didn't believe him.
Jacob smiled ruefully to himself. He might be smarter than the average man, but that didn't mean that his ego wasn't as touchy as any man's when it came to sex. It was starting to rankle him that Rachel seemed to think of him as an asexual being. 'Christ, I'm a widower, not a freaking eunuch.'
With a sigh Jacob turned back to his microscope. As he refocused on his work, he began to frown. "Wait a minute, wait a minute…" he murmured.
"What is it Dr. Hood?" Dr. Ruscillo asked.
"I think we're dealing with two genes here." Jacob answered. He gestured to his microscope. "As you can see in this blood sample, there's the gene that targets muscles, but look over here - that's another genetic marker entirely."
"You're right!" Dr. Ruscillo was excited. "One gene was meant to invade the muscle and this second gene was to piggyback on the first to affect the muscle itself. It should be simple to discover what this extra gene does."
"Yes, this is a major break for us." Jacob reached for his cell. Information this important needed to be shared right away.
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"Your own bed." Rachel leaned against the dim stacks in the student health center and smiled coyly at Blake Miller.
""Yeah." He retuned her smile.
"Nice…" she softly replied.
The breath caught in Rachel's throat and she could feel her heart beat faster. She couldn't quite believe what she was saying, doing. 'Shit, I must be crazy, I shouldn't be doing this.' It wasn't the first time and she was sure it wouldn't be the last that one of the locals would hit on her. She usually made it clear that she wasn't interested. For some reason, tonight she didn't.
Rachel held her breath waiting for Blake's response. Wondered what she should say, just how bad an idea it was to go to bed with him. She jumped slightly as her cell phone chirped and she glanced at the display.
"A text message from Hood."
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Three days later
Rachel tore her eyes away from where Hood and Dr. Ruscillo were monitoring the Richmond brother's progress. She looked up at Blake and flushed slightly. Now that the case was over, the awkwardness of the aborted pass hung in the air between them.
"Ah, well, I guess this is it." He smiled down at her with a slight laugh.
"Yeah, well, I guess if you have another strange science crime, you'll know who to call."
Blake shook his head. "I'll see what I can arrange with the Physics Department." They both laughed uncomfortably. He stuck his hand out. "Well, goodbye."
Rachel extended her hand with a strained smile. "Goodbye." With a final smile, Blake left quickly.
A pensive look came over Rachel's face as she stared into space. 'Shit, I nearly screwed up this time.' A brief grimace twisted her lips as she realized what she had just thought. 'Yeah, I could have literally as well as figuratively gotten screwed.'
Bureau agents didn't take a vow of celibacy, but common sense and FBI protocol demanded that an agent not do anything that would put the mission in jeopardy. And since her mission was to keep Hood safe at all times, talking a break to have sex with some random guy was out of the question.
Even if it wouldn't interfere with the mission, Rachel knew that it would never be a good idea for word to get around that she had slept with a local or another agent. And word always seemed to get around. Hell, Blake probably still had friends in the Bureau. He didn't seem the type to kiss and tell, but she couldn't count on it. And it was a short step from people gossiping about her sleeping around while on assignment to people gossiping about her sleeping with her assignment.
Rachel's lips tightened at the thought. There had been a flurry of speculation when it had become clear that Hood's parade of handlers had come to an end with her assignment to his detail. She had quashed that gossip ruthlessly, letting it be known that she would personally take down anyone who repeated that crap. Thankfully the reputation she had picked up in Counter-Terrorism for being as tough as nails and all business had lent credibility to her words.
Aside from her own feelings, she would hate for that kind of gossip to come to Hood's ears. Not only because she was sure that it would make him uncomfortable; she saw how he reacted when women flirted with, hit on him. 'Shit, he gets flustered when they just thank him for helping.' But also because she was afraid that if gossip of that kind became prevalent, he would request that she be transferred.
Rachel grimaced. The root of her problem was that she was lonely. It had felt good when Blake had begun flirting with her. Part of it was that she was impressed with his FBI record; he had been a member of the Hostage Rescue Team. Those guys were the rock stars of the Bureau, an elite unit. The other part was, as she had told Blake, that being on Hood's detail had left her feeling disconnected from people. Maybe she was just craving intimate contact with someone, anyone to drive away the loneliness.
She hadn't anticipated how being on Hood's detail would isolate her. They weren't together 24/7/365, but it was damn close. Luckily he lived in a secure building. After work she could drop him off at his apartment so her evenings were mostly free. Still, she was on call if he needed her escort so she was reluctant to make plans of her own. Her friends were used to her accepting only the most casual of invitations and disappearing for days or weeks on end. Weekends were the same; she was at Hood's disposal, running errands, shopping, taking him to Deale to visit with his sister and nephew.
The only times she could truly call her own were her two glorious free weekends a month. Two long weekends, from Friday to Monday morning, she was free of all things Hood. But even those days weren't sacrosanct. Hood had made it clear that, while he was prepared to put up with a temporary handler on the weekends, he wasn't about to go into the field with a strange agent. If a case came up her weekend off would be cancelled. Rachel sighed. It was hard to explain to a guy who had planned a romantic weekend get-away that yes, she would be leaving town, but with another man.
And when they were in the field, they were together practically 24/7. Lately Hood had been better about paying attention to her rules for his safety; allowing her to go off to run down leads on her own or with the locals. Otherwise, they were together working, eating, and sleeping in adjoining hotel rooms with the connecting door ajar.
Even after a case was solved, they didn't immediately return to their so-called normal lives. Hood always insisted on sticking around to make sure that the people involved were ok. Like now, he had wanted to stay in Tulsa until he was assured that neither Richmond brother would suffer long-term effects from what was done to them.
Propping her chin on her hands she gazed over to where Hood was standing with Dr. Ruscillo. That was another reason why she might have been flirting with Blake. She wasn't quite sure when it had happened but Hood had gone from being an assignment, and a pain-in-the-ass assignment at that, to being a partner. And a friend. Recently the friendship had taken a, well, friendlier, turn. They had begun teasing each other, smiling at each other more often. She had begun taking more of an interest in his past and had even opened up a bit about her own.
She was sure that it was nothing more than friendship on Hood's part. In all of their time together she had never seen him take more than a friendly interest in any woman. He was still grieving for his wife. What she had to guard against was her loneliness convincing her that what she felt for him was more than what was proper.
'Maybe I should try to fix him up with someone. If he was seeing someone that would really put him out of bounds.' Rachel shook her head at the thought. She couldn't think of a single one of her friends who might be interested in more than a quick hook-up. Hood was good-looking enough, but all of her friends were like her. They were women who had grown up competing with the boys and who had learned to be aggressive to succeed. They all preferred their men to be a lot more assertive than Hood.
She smiled remembering her younger self. She had been a wild child, a real handful, when growing up. Professionally she might have to be cool, calm and all business but when she was on her own time she still liked to let her hair down. While she wasn't stupid enough to crave a "bad boy" she had always liked her men to be a little bit daring, men who didn't worry about the conventions. Not conservative ex-university professors like Hood.
A sudden thought made her grin. 'If he was telling the truth about having sex on a plane, maybe he's not so conservative after all.' Tilting her head a bit she eyed Hood narrowly, 'he didn't actually say he's done it, but still…' She wondered if she had the nerve to try to pin him down about the subject. She shook her head with a smile. 'No, that's one mystery that's never going to be solved.' Still, she knew that plane trips with Hood would never be the same again.