This story was inspired by a post I saw on Tumblr that I can't link here because this site won't let me, so if you'd like to see the initial inspiration, message me or check out the story on Ao3.
Thanks for reading! :)
It was late in the evening when Jenkins moved through the shadows of the bookcases on the back wall of the dimly lit Annex room. Working on a solo project, he searched for a book or two that could provide him with some assistance. He found one that he thought might do and removed it from the shelf, moving into the direct line of the lamp's light to check it out before retreating to his lab.
A faint scratching noise alerted Jenkins to the fact that he was not alone, as he had assumed. He peered between two rows of books and saw Cassandra, sitting with her back turned to Jenkins. She was slumped on a stool at the main table, her head in one hand. Her other hand moved steadily, and Jenkins figured she was probably writing in that little notebook she always wrote in after returning from a job. A big, old, leather-bound book lay open to her side. Jenkins nodded to nobody but himself; she was studying spells, naturally.
Before he could go see what the young Librarian was getting herself into this time, Jacob Stone appeared from the main Library. Jenkins retreated into the dark safety of the shadow created from the rows of bookshelves behind Cassandra. Mr. Stone and Ms. Cillian had spent the day together, out on a case on their own once again, and, like everything between them as of late, the job had dissolved into squabbling about the merits of magic and whether it should be used under non-extreme circumstances. The squabbling had followed them through the Back Door after the retrieval was completed. Stone had walked away to place the artifact in the Library. Cassandra had groaned and crossed her arms and scurried off in the opposite direction. Jenkins wasn't sure if the two Librarians had seen each other since, but he was sure that he was probably safer in the dark until at least one of them vacated the room.
Stone removed his jacket from the chair he normally claimed as his and headed for the exit, intending to nod a goodnight to Cassandra. As he walked by the table, however, he looked down, took notice of what she was taking notes on, and shook his head, betraying any hopes he had of getting away with his disapproval with a little scoff. Cassandra would have noticed anyway, her eyes having traveled up as he walked by her, but the scoff set off her defenses.
She let both of her hands and arms fall to the table, one on top of the other, and she spoke his name on a sigh. "Jacob," she said, stopping him before he could leave the room.
"What, Cassie?" he asked, doubling back to the table.
"I need you to be okay with this," she said. "We can agree to disagree – that's fine. Every Librarian in history has probably had different ideas on how to use magic. They just haven't had other Librarians to deal with at the same time, and you can worry about me, too. That's okay. It's sweet, even, and I understand your concerns, but that, the scoffing and the eye rolling and the snippy remarks and the making me feel bad for trying to learn about something I'm interested in and something that means so much to what we do…" She caught herself from going too far off on that tangent and said, "Can't you at least try to be okay with this?"
"Why?" Jacob asked with a shrug.
"Well…for me," Cassandra replied with a small shrug, standing to meet him as he came around to her seat.
"No, but why? Why's it matter?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Why do you care about my opinion? Baird shoots you one of her mom looks for doing something with magic, and you nearly laugh. Flynn gets worried, and you get defensive and loud. Jenkins worries, and you're…well, you ain't loud with him, but you're still pretty defensive. But me, my opposition seems to make you sad."
"Well, you're…you're different," Cassandra said.
"Why?" Stone asked.
"You know why," Cassandra said quietly.
"No, I don't," Stone said. "Why am I different?"
"Because I like you," Cassandra said. "Because I…" She rolled her eyes and sighed, almost as if she were frustrated with herself for letting that slip, and said, "Because I have a crush on you, okay? So, silly as it is, your opinion means more to me."
"You have a…" Stone stuttered. "How long?"
"What does that matter?" Cassandra asked.
"How long, Cass?" he asked again.
She hesitated, then sighed and said, "Months, Jacob. It's been months."
"Okay," he said with a nod. He started heading not for the exit, but back towards the Library.
"Where are you going?" Cassandra asked.
"I'm just gonna…I gotta think about things for a few minutes. I'll be right back," he promised.
"Okay," she replied softly.
From his hiding spot in the back of the room, Jenkins peered to one side to watch Mr. Stone slowly retreat into the Library. His head quickly turned back to the Annex, where he watched as Cassandra opened her mouth and put her hand up as if to stop him. Before she could say anything, she swallowed her words with a small gasp. She stood, awkwardly frozen, facing the Library for a few moments.
"Okay…" she finally muttered with a small shrug. She sat back down on her stool, her head falling back into the palm of her hand.
Jenkins peered back towards the Library, frowning when he didn't see any trace of Stone. He looked back towards Cassandra again, the book in his own hands long since forgotten. He couldn't see her face, but she did, indeed, seem a little sad, and he wasn't sure what to do. Jenkins didn't really want her to know that he had been witness to their intimate conversation, but the part of him that deeply cared about the young woman wanted to walk over, put a comforting hand on her back, and offer up what little words of wisdom he could muster on the topics of love and romance.
Decision made, Jenkins turned to return his book to the shelf. Before he could step out of the shadows, however, a door opened, and Stone returned from the Library. Jenkins stayed out of sight, watching as Cassandra immediately stood, turning to face him.
"Jacob, I…" Cassandra started.
She never got to finish what she had intended to say, her words swallowed on another small gasp, as Jacob Stone cupped his hand around her face and pulled Cassandra into a kiss. One kiss turned into five as the shock wore off and they sunk into the embrace. Their lips finally separated slowly, their eyes fluttering open soon after, and Jenkins knew he was stuck in the shadows until whatever was about to happen next played itself out.
Cassandra's face broke into a smile – a bright, genuine smile full of joy and sunshine. A giggle threatened to escape her lips, and she clasped her hand around her mouth to stifle her elation, her eyes growing wide as she waited for him to say something. Instead, he grinned, moved her hand slowly away from her mouth, and, keeping her hand held in his, placed another small kiss on her lips. She bit the side of her own lip as he pulled away, as if she were questioning what to do next.
"Words, please," she finally muttered.
"I'm sorry about the leavin'," he said. "It's just been kinda hard for me to admit to myself that I've always had a thing for you. Always, Cassie, since the first time we walked in here together." His forehead fell against hers, his arms wrapped around her, and he softly said, "I had to talk myself into finally letting us have this."
She tilted her head to capture his mouth in another kiss, but before that kiss could turn into another, too, Cassandra broke it on a smile and another small giggle.
"I'm sorry," she giggled. "I'm so happy. I mean, it's just a momentary rush of dopamine and serotonin in my brain, but…"
"Cassandra," he interrupted.
"Yeah?" she replied.
"Just be happy," he said.
Cassandra grinned softly and asked, "Are you happy?"
"I mean, it might just be the dopamine…" he teased.
Cassandra playfully smacked his shoulder. Stone pulled her a little bit closer and tenderly cupped her face again, and even from his place several feet away, Jenkins thought he could see Cassandra physically melting into Stone's touch.
"I'm very happy," Stone whispered.
"I thought you could never be with me," Cassandra said quietly. "Because…because of what happened when we met or…or the brain grape…"
Stone, deciding to stop her right there, leaned in and gave her a tender kiss. Her fingers came up to stroke his face, too, and he kept her close again when the kiss had ended.
"None of that is enough to keep me away from you," he said.
Her wide eyes traveled over his face as the gravity of his feelings for her sunk in. She leaned back just a bit, tilted her head, and asked, "If we've both felt like this for so long, why haven't we ended up here sooner?"
Stone chuckled. "Because you're a hell of a lot braver than I am, apparently."
Cassandra laughed at the self-deprecating truth behind his words and remembered the conversation that had brought them there. "And what about all of…" she asked delicately, gesturing towards the book and notes she had been working on before.
"I'll get okay with it," he said. "We ain't ever gonna see eye to eye on this, and we're probably gonna talk about it a lot, but no more scoffing, I promise. Okay?"
"Okay," she nodded.
With that, she flung herself further into his arms, wrapping him in a tight hug as the smile returned to her face. Her chin rested on his shoulder as they held one another, rocking back and forth a bit in the middle of the Annex. Stone finally kissed the side of her head and offered up a hand as they separated.
"Dinner?" he asked.
"I'd like that," she said, and Jenkins watched as they headed out of the Annex, hand-in-hand.
The next morning, Cassandra wandered into Jenkins's lab with a plate of decorated, homemade cookies. Without a word, she slid onto a stool at his work table and placed the cookies into an empty space in front of him.
"And what are these for, Ms. Cillian?" he asked.
"For yesterday," Cassandra said with a smile.
Jenkins sighed. "At what point did you know I was there?"
"Not until we were leaving. I doubled back to grab my notebook, I guess about the time you decided it'd be safe to come out, and I caught a little glimpse. I think you were still trying desperately not to be seen, but…"
"But I suppose I failed," Jenkins sighed.
"A little," Cassandra laughed.
"You're not upset?" Jenkins asked.
"Because you saw everything? No," Cassandra said with a laugh. "I actually feel a little guilty about that, so…" She grabbed the plate of cookies and tilted it towards him. "Thank you. You know, for dealing with me."
It was Jenkins's turn to smile as he said, "It's my pleasure, Ms. Cillian."
"Oh, and, um, we're not really ready to tell Colonel Baird and the others yet, so…" she started.
"Your secret is safe with me," he promised.
Cassandra nodded in gratitude, shot him a bashful little smile, and slid off the stool.
"Ms. Cillian?" Jenkins called as she reached the doorway. She turned and looked at him quizzically. "For the record, I think you and Mr. Stone make a lovely pair."
The bashful little smile on Cassandra's face returned. "Thanks, Mr. Jenkins."
She disappeared, and Jenkins picked up the plate of treats and walked across the room to place them out of the way of his work.
"Of all the things I thought I'd never have to deal with in my Annex…" he muttered.
Returning to his table, he picked up his tools, but before he could get back to work, he thought about Cassandra and how the Library had given her life in so many ways. He thought about Stone and the twinkle in his eye that morning that hadn't been there the day before. He thought about himself the night before and the moment where he wanted nothing more than to comfort Cassandra when he thought Stone might just leave her alone at that table.
Jenkins sighed, put his tools back on the table, and headed back towards the plate of cookies. These people, these situations, livened up his lonely little Annex. If that meant he had to hide in the shadows every now and then, so be it.