Working it out

Lisa

Eugene didn't look up at the knock on the door.

"Jimmy, I told you we'd talk about it in the morning."

"It's um, not Jimmy." Eugene looked up, surprised when he heard Jamie's soft voice. Confused, he checked his watch.

"It's late. I thought you left."

"Oh well, I did but I...came back." Eugene studied her appearance. Her hair was curled, black pants, a sparkling pink top underneath her long coat.

"On your way out somewhere?"

"No," Jamie shook her head. "Heading home."

"It's not that late." Jamie rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, well," she sighed.

"So uh, why are you here?" Eugene asked.

"Well I...thought that since tonight was such a bust, I could get some files to work on. I saw your light on."

"Ahuh," Eugene nodded, returning to his work. Jamie remained right where she was. Slowly, Eugene glanced up at her. "Was there something you wanted?"

"Um...No," Jamie answered, shaking her head. "Sorry I'll uh, see you tomorrow." She turned and left, her coat gathering wind and lifting in soft waves as she walked out. Eugene rolled his lips together, thinking silently, before going back to his work upon hearing the front door open and close.

He was disturbed not ten minutes later by the scrape of a chair against the ground. Quietly, he stood from his desk and made his way into the hallway. Thankfully, Jamie had left his office door open. The hinges needed some oil. Eugene wasn't afraid, but his mind drifted easily to Lindsey's stabbing one night several years ago in that very office.

Instead of a knife-wielding dress-up, he instead found Jamie sitting at her desk with her head in her hands.

"Jamie?" Eugene asked. Jamie jumped, gasping and holding her chest, looking up at Eugene with scared eyes. "Sorry," Eugene held up both his hands.

"Jesus. The one time I don't hear you coming-"

"Sorry," Eugene repeated, before spotting the glistening tear trails on her cheek visible in the dark and the light shining from his open office door. Reaching out, he switched on Jamie's lamp. Jamie quickly wiped her palms across her cheeks, erasing the tears but not the heavy blush visible on her fair skin. Eugene rounded her desk and squatted beside her. Jamie refused to look at him, even when he grabbed her chair and spun her towards him, using her knees for balance. Jamie reached down, inching her fingers against the edges of his.

"Please," she whispered, finally locking eyes with Eugene. He removed his hands.

"Why are you crying?" Eugene asked, knowing that she would respond with a lie if he asked if she was all right. Jamie shrugged. "You must know," he added.

"Well I don't," Jamie snapped, before sighing. "Sorry." Her voice shook and Eugene was at a loss. No woman outside of clients had ever cried in front of him before. What the hell was he meant to do?

"Jamie," he said, finding his voice. Eugene cupped her cheek with his palm, but Jamie turned her head the other way, breaking the contact.

"Please don't," she replied. Eugene was now officially worried.

"You could have walked out of here, crying or not, but you didn't Jamie. Talk to me. Please." Jamie sniffled, locking onto his eyes. "Are you hurt?" She shook her, before shrugging. Eugene stared at her. What does that mean? He wondered. "Did something happen tonight?"

"Ugh, no," Jamie answered. "Never mind, I'm sorry I'm not myself."

"That's not true," Eugene replied. "You're upset but you're still you. That's okay you know, to be upset."

"It's not serious, okay? I just, I'm pissed I got stood up tonight."

"He doesn't know what he's missing," Eugene tried to console her. Jamie smiled.

"She," she answered. "My mom. I um...Yeah."

"She didn't call?" Jamie shook her head.

"I told her about um, last week."

"Told her..." Eugene gave Jamie a knowing look and she nodded.

"It's not what you're thinking, you know. I mean she was concerned and upset. It was just that it took so long to tell her. She asked if anyone else knew and I told her you did." Jamie smiled. "Then she asked who you were. I um, told her about everyone I worked with when I started."

"I'm your boss," Eugene stated. Jamie rolled her eyes.

"This conversation isn't going well. Can we start over?"

"Tell me what's wrong," Eugene stated softly without hesitation.

"That...man, didn't like you Eugene. In his mind, you contributed to the death of his wife. If he ordered a hit on Spooner, I... If he was any less sane... I ran into Tara downstairs. There was nothing stopping him from walking in here and finishing the job."

"But he didn't."

"When I heard what happened at the courthouse, it took all I had not to call you."

"Okay," Eugene stated, not sure what to make of all this.

"When you came back here, I wanted to hug you." Jamie laughed to herself, embarrassed. "God, that sounds pathetic." Eugene chuckled.

"Jamie."

"Yes?"

"I have to move." Jamie realised he was still squatting by her chair. She pushed her chair back, standing and grabbing his hands, dragging him up. Eugene groaned as the blood rushed back to his toes.

"Sit here," Jamie suggested, moving some files into a pile at the corner of her desk and sitting on the wood.

"On the desk?"

"Live a little, Eugene," Jamie smiled. Eugene sat back on the desk.

"So," he stated.

"So," Jamie echoed softly. "I um, I told my mom you were my boss and repeated what she already knew, and she wanted to know why you were allowed to know before she was, and I well...she asked if I was in love with you. You know what she said?" Jamie shook her head, chuckling.

"What?" Eugene asked.

"She says to me, 'Jamie, what about grandchildren? They'd be black'. I...hung up on her. Just like that." Eugene was silent. "I've never...I never thought she cared. She never said anything. Maybe she didn't mean it the way it sounded but it...even if it just came out, I didn't think it would hurt me as much as it did. I rang back after I'd cooled down and we arranged to meet, to talk. She never showed."

"Why would it hurt you?" Eugene asked as Jamie paused.

"Because," Jamie answered, starting to cry again. "I... I was so scared two weeks ago because we were so serious. We were living together Eugene. I was two months to the end of my lease and very seriously considering not resigning. At the same time I was scared of letting you get any closer to me, and I knew you wanted to, and that if you asked I would let you in, even if I wasn't ready, and then we would...fight, and I-"

"And?" Eugene asked as Jamie drifted off.

"When I hung up on mom I realised...how much I did love you, and how badly I wanted you to get closer no matter what, even if these nervous breakdowns are sometimes the result." Eugene smiled, taking a chance and reaching for her hand. Jamie surprised him by gripping it tightly, contrary to her previous actions. "I um, I made a horrible mistake Eugene, and I needed to tell you before...before something happened."

"Nothing's going to happen to me."

"We can't know that," Jamie looked at him with sad eyes, before taking a deep breath. "I uh, chickened out in your office, and I was going to leave, but I couldn't. I'm so ashamed. Of what happened years ago, and what I did to you. But um, now you know and I'm um, asking you to help me. I need you to help me."

"If I agree to this," Eugene began after thinking for a minute. "Will you stop crying?" He smiled at her softly. Jamie wiped her cheeks and nodded, grinning.

"I can try."

"The smile's enough," Eugene answered, reaching around her shoulder and pulling her into a hug as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

"I'm sorry I hurt you."

"It's okay," Eugene mumbled against her neck, holding onto her tightly. "You know what?" he continued as they pulled back. Jamie let him cup her cheek, as he'd attempted to earlier.

"What?"

"First, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I've told you this before and I hope you believe it. I'll tell you as many times as you need me to. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You got that?" Jamie nodded. "And second, I uh, could have done with that hug this afternoon too." Jamie smiled.

"I can do better than a hug," she stated.

"Oh? Better than a hug?" Eugene teased. Jamie cut him off before he could go any further, readily pressing her lips against his as she gripped the front of his shirt for balance, the pressure from Eugene returning the kiss pushing her back as he lowered her against the desk. Jamie broke off, laughing. "What, no good?" Eugene teased.

"We are not having sex on my desk," Jamie declared, playfully pushing him up, at the same time using his weight to pull herself back up to sitting.

"You uh, going to call your mom?" Jamie shook her head.

"Not tonight. Screw her. Once she meets you..." Jamie stared up at him with glistening eyes. "I certainly couldn't resist you. She'll understand." Eugene smiled, hopeful but not convinced. "Eugene," Jamie waited until he was watching her. "Thankyou." She stood, preparing to leave. Eugene, still sitting, reached out and touched either side of her hips, turning her and bringing her to stand between his knees. Jamie bit her bottom lip.

"Bout those grandchildren," he began seriously. Jamie looked at him, nervous. "Just so we're clear. Would that be something you'd regret? Not seeing that beautiful blonde hair every day?" Jamie smiled, shaking her head.

"I was, am I guess, more worried that I would be treated as the odd one out." She smiled sadly. "The um, I dunno. The uh, few times I've thought about it I guess I assumed the uh, bond, would be stronger with you." Eugene looked at Jamie, amazed she had thought about this.

"I think we need to talk more," he declared. "And I mean, hypothetically-"

"Yes," Jamie affirmed instantly. They were definitely speaking hypothetically.

"Your thinking assumes we're lousy parents," Eugene continued. "It doesn't take into account that from day one, any children would know exactly where they came from, and no matter how dark they were, or how connected they were to that culture, I would make sure they knew exactly how much I loved and respected my beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed wife."

"Are you still speaking hypothetically?" Jamie whispered.

"Yes," Eugene answered with a smile, realising his slip of the tongue had startled her. "But I do love you." Jamie smiled, nodding as she closed her eyes, Eugene's arms wrapping around her waist and pulling her closer. He smiled as he felt her kiss the top of his head. "Feel better?" Eugene asked as he leant back, looking up at Jamie. She nodded.

"Thanks for not throwing me out of here on my ass," she smiled. "I uh, I think I might've deserved it."

"I miss you at home," Eugene continued. "Not being presumptuous, but can I take you back there tonight?" Jamie nodded. She leant down to kiss him, and very slowly climbed back onto the desk, sitting on Eugene's lap as the kiss continued and deepened. "Can I touch you?" Eugene asked, his hands resting carefully on her thighs. Jamie nodded.

"I-was-upset-I'm-sorry," she managed to answer in one breath, pushing Eugene backwards with a degree of force and need she rarely showed him.

Eugene grunted as his shoulder slammed into the top edge of the computer, tipping it off balance and sending it crashing onto the floor. Jamie gasped, grabbing onto Eugene as he slammed back against the desk. They looked at each other.

"Are you okay?" Jamie asked. Eugene nodded. Jamie started giggling. Eugene soon joined in.

"What's the damage?" he asked. Jamie bit her bottom lip, leaning over him and glancing at the floor.

"It's broken," she laughed, resting back around his hips, resting her hands on his chest. "I told you we shouldn't make out on here."

"You said have sex," Eugene replied with a smirk. "We weren't doing that." Jamie raised an eyebrow. Not yet, she wanted to add, but refrained.

"Eugene," Jamie whispered, leaning back over him. Eugene reached up and tucked her hair behind her ears. "Take me home and make love to me." Eugene breathed heavily, matching Jamie's own pulse as they stared at each other. Slowly, he shook his head, sitting them both up and gently nudging Jamie off the desk until they could both stand.

"No," he whispered. Jamie looked at him, tears gathering in her eyes. Eugene held both her hands and started walking backwards as Jamie followed silently. She didn't comment as Eugene led her into his office. "Shut the door," he ordered softly. Jamie nodded. Eugene approached her. Backing Jamie up against the door, he used his finger to tip her chin up, beginning to kiss her neck as he went to work on the halter ties of her top. Jamie grabbed her hair and pulled it over one shoulder so it didn't tangle in the ribbon and his fingers.

"I thought your desk was off limits too," Jamie stated breathlessly, smiling as Eugene released the knot at her back. He was about to go to work on the knot at the nape of her neck, but stopped, his fingers rubbing the skin of her neck as he looked at her, his dark eyes intense.

"It is," he stated, kneeling on the ground and taking her hands, pulling her down with him. Jamie raised her eyebrows, surprised. This was almost completely out of character, but Eugene always managed to surprise her when she least expected it. At her expression, Eugene smiled. "Live a little, Jamie," he teased. Jamie relaxed, taking his face in both her hands and kissing him.

000

Jamie walked into work the next morning with her laptop in one hand and her bag in the other. As she sat at her desk, Ellenor, Jimmy, Alan and Tara stared silently. Jamie glanced around the room.

"Yeah?" she asked. Eugene opened the front door and said good morning, walking into his office and shutting the door. Jamie rolled her eyes. "Someone's pissy," she commented, her voice low. Tara and Alan exchanged a look, before Tara glanced at Ellenor. Jimmy took a step forward.

"Notice anything different?" he asked. Jamie looked up from setting up her laptop.

"Um...I straightened my hair?"

"Your computer was on the floor in pieces this morning," Tara answered.

"I uh...I didn't knock it over," Jamie replied honestly. It wasn't until they'd gotten home when Jamie and Eugene had realised they'd left the computer on the floor. Alan smirked.

"Yet you don't seem surprised." Jamie stared at him blankly, before shrugging.

"How did you know to bring your laptop?" Ellenor asked.

"Uh...women's intuition," Jamie declared. Ellenor raised her eyebrows.

"You know you have to pay for it," Jimmy stated. Jamie shrugged, pulling out her checkbook.

"How much do you want Jimmy?" she asked.

"It's covered," Ellenor explained. "It's just...unusual." Alan stood as he heard Eugene's door open again. He walked out.

"Is there a reason why you're standing around doing nothing?"

"Apparently my computer fell last night," Jamie answered him. "Good thing I brought my laptop. What a coincidence." Tara smirked and Alan barely contained his amusement.

"How did it fall?" Eugene asked.

"I don't know," Jamie answered. "I wasn't here last night. You worked late though, didn't you?" Everyone turned to look at Eugene. He stared at them blankly. Alan packed up his files.

"Well it was great chatting but I have to go," he announced, strolling past Eugene. On his way, he clapped Eugene on the right shoulder. "See you later Eugene." Eugene looked at him strangely.

"Uh, bye." Eugene glanced at Jamie. His shoulder hurt like hell, but he wasn't going to give Alan the satisfaction. Jamie had discovered the bruise once they'd gotten home in the early hours of that morning.

000

Tara approached Jamie that afternoon.

"The two of you did it on your desk, didn't you," she stated.

"No," Jamie answered with a smile.

"But you did do it somewhere here, right?" Jamie didn't answer. "Ah, wonderful!"

"Really?" Jamie looked up, surprised.

"As long as you didn't go near my desk-"

"No!" Jamie laughed. "No desks were harmed." Tara smirked.

"Good to know. So are you picking up where you left off or are you starting back at the...what am I saying, I think you skipped the beginning!"

"Shut up," Jamie hissed playfully as Jimmy walked out of the conference room.

"What are you two whispering about?" he asked.

"Sex," Tara replied simply.

"Oh," Jimmy nodded, immediately uncomfortable. He ran his fingers along his collar.

"Hot, Jimmy?" Tara teased, taking full advantage of her sultry accent. Jamie grinned, staring at her desk in an attempt to hide it. "You can join in, if you like."

"No, no, I have a meeting. You two, keep talking. Sorry I interrupted."

"That was kind of mean," Jamie smiled as Jimmy hustled out of the office. Tara shrugged.

"I thought it was kind of funny. So?"

"We can't help but pick up where we left off," Jamie answered. "But um, we're working for a hundred per cent before we move on."

"There'll be...moving on?" Jamie smiled.

"I hope so."

"What's this?" Ellenor asked, walking up behind Tara and sticking her head over her shoulder. Tara grinned.

"Nothing important," Jamie shook her head, blushing. Ellenor looked between the two younger women.

"Oh please, I don't believe that." Tara and Jamie looked at each other. It was Jamie's call. She bit her bottom lip, before glancing defiantly at Ellenor.

"Ask Eugene," Jamie stated. Ellenor began to smile but stopped herself.

"Okay," she answered, standing and heading straight for Eugene's office.

A few minutes later, both Ellenor and Eugene appeared in the hallway.

"Jamie," Eugene began. "My office." Jamie stood and followed. "What's going on?" he asked as Jamie shut the door.

"I told Tara."

"You what?"

"Not everything," Jamie reassured him. "Jimmy and Ellenor both overheard parts, but I don't think they know anything."

"Ellenor just asked if I was sleeping with you."

"Oh, did you tell her she was standing on ground zero?" Jamie stared at Eugene defiantly. Eugene laughed.

000

"I didn't think Eugene ever laughed," Tara stated. Alan, who'd just returned from court, smirked.

"Apparently he does."

000

"I did not," Eugene answered. Jamie grinned.

"How's your shoulder?"

"It's okay," Eugene concluded. Jamie raised an eyebrow, crossing her arms. "As long as I don't move," he added.

"That's more like it," Jamie smiled. They both turned as Tara knocked on the door.

"Come in," Eugene called, taking a subtle step away from Jamie.

"Sorry to interrupt. Jamie, you have a call." Jamie nodded, heading out to her desk. Tara gave Eugene a sly grin, before they both followed Jamie back out.

"Jamie Stringer," Jamie answered. "Oh, hi... I'm fine. Where were you last night? I waited for an hour..." Eugene caught Jamie's pissed off glance as she listened. Nevertheless, he wanted to hear her end of the conversation, no matter who else was in the room with them. "Listen, this isn't a good time... Because I'm at work... Yes, he's here... Look, I'm sorry I hung up on you, all right? But I was trying to tell you something important and all you cared about was who I told before you and what color they were..." Jamie lowered her voice. "Don't give me that shit, mum... If I am, which I am, it doesn't matter... Yes, he does, yes I'm sure... I have to go okay? Don't you have a class to teach? Yeah, well I have court, oh and by the way...if you ever get any grandkids, you don't have to see them. I won't tolerate any disrespect here, no matter how much of it you think is in my best interest... Yeah, Bye."

Jamie hung up and glared at the phone for a minute, before standing and looking at Eugene as though he were the only person in the room. She rounded her desk slowly and stood across from him.

"Jamie," Eugene stated as they watched each other.

"Screw professionalism," she said, stepping forward and wrapping her arms around his neck. Eugene was dumbstruck, but impulsively wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling tighter as he felt her breathing catch. After several minutes, they pulled back and Jamie smiled. "Thankyou."

"It's okay," he replied.

"Can I um, leave early?" Eugene nodded.

"You got the key?" Jamie nodded, smiling as she walked silently back to her desk, packed up her things quickly and left.

Jimmy, Ellenor, Alan and Tara all turned towards Eugene as the front door shut behind Jamie.

"Excuse me?" Ellenor asked. "What was that?" Eugene smiled.

"That uh, that was my girlfriend, Jamie," he answered.

000

Jamie entered the bathroom late that night as Eugene was brushing his teeth. She eyed the bruise on his shoulder with a small smile.

"Hi," Eugene managed with a mouth full of paste. He didn't turn, but watched her in the mirror's reflection.

"Hey," Jamie answered, coming to stand beside him and preparing her own toothbrush. "I'm sorry about this afternoon. I know you um, we agreed on no public displays." Eugene spat out his toothpaste and rinsed his mouth.

"Maybe," he replied. "Maybe a little public display is healthy, now and then... Everyone thinks you're my girlfriend," he added.

"I am your girlfriend," Jamie replied. Eugene took her by the waist as she held her toothbrush over the sink, waiting.

"I want people to know this time. Do you?"

"I um-"

"Would it make you uncomfortable if we turned up at work together every now and then?" Jamie thought.

"Every day, you mean, if I don't resign my lease." Eugene shrugged, watching her carefully for any sign of insecurity. "I think that would be...empowering," she declared with a smile. "I think it's time I started taking the risks. You seem worth it," she teased. Eugene kissed her briefly.

"Finish up in here," he answered. "Then I'll show you empowering." Jamie laughed, turning the tap on and flicking some water at his bare back as he left. Eugene growled, disappearing into the bedroom.

Five minutes later, he stuck his head around the bathroom door. Jamie was brushing her teeth.

"Still?"

"I'm not finished," she mumbled. Eugene approached her.

"Oh, yes you are," he stated, wrapping his hand around hers and gently tugging the toothbrush from her mouth. Jamie protested, before common sense and the gag reflex forced her to spit into the sink in front of her and rinse her mouth. Eugene stuck her toothbrush under the tap as well as Jamie reached for a towel, glaring at Eugene.

"You're going to pay for that," she warned.

"Am I?" Eugene challenged. Jamie wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled as he gripped her hips, lifting her off the ground.

"Yep," she answered as Eugene managed to walk her into his room. "I think I have a headache tonight." Eugene chuckled, letting her feet drop to the ground.

"Fine," Eugene answered. "You can just lie there, beautiful." Jamie grabbed a pillow and hit him with it.

"You ass!" Jamie laughed, getting under the covers. Eugene remained standing. "You coming, handsome, or am I going to have to do this by myself?" Jamie asked, grinning. Eugene didn't hesitate.

000

"Thankyou," Eugene stated in the early hours of the next morning. Jamie rested her chin on his chest, staring at him strangely.

"If that's how we're going to do it, I owe you some thankyous-" Eugene chuckled, forcing Jamie to lift her chin, his laughter shaking her jaw.

"Thankyou for giving me a second chance."

"Ditto," Jamie answered. "I know what men think of me and when they get there, sometimes it's not what they expect. I'm um, damaged goods, you know?"

"I know what women think of me," Eugene added. "And sometimes I don't know what I did to deserve you." He leaned over her, placing a kiss just above her right breast. "By the way, my expectations of you were surpassed a long time ago. You're everything but damaged, Jamie." Jamie smiled, speechless. "You know that hypothetical situation we discussed last night?" Jamie nodded. "Just so we're on the same page, would you be okay if, one day, it wasn't so hypothetical?" Jamie smiled.

"One day, one hypothetical situation at a time," she nodded. Eugene chuckled.

"Do you have a preferential order?"

"No," Jamie answered, surprising him as she threaded her fingers through his. Eugene leant down, kissing her softly as Jamie met him with parted lips. "Sleep with me a while longer," Jamie offered as he pulled back to lie beside her, both of them shutting their eyes as the son rose further over the neighbouring houses.

The End.