The Net: Dog: Chapter 12

Together Jacob Resh and Walter Cizelski sat in Dr. Vecchio's waiting room, waiting to speak to the doctor. Inside his office they could hear several voices arguing over something.

"Look, I don't have any reason for this not to happen!" Dr. Vecchio's voice came through the wall. "From everything I've seen he's telling the truth. And she trusts him. A lot more than she trusts me and the rest of the staff."

"And the CSI's report doesn't say anything about him physically hurting her from what I read," another male voice said.

"That would be Judge Hollister," Walter clarified in a whisper.

"They're talking about our case. Angela's case," Jacob sounded surprised. "So that's why they wanted both of us here. They're talking it over and they're going to tell us what's going to happen. Oh God..." Jacob was suddenly nervous. "What if...what if..."

"Shut up!" Walter hissed. "And calm down. If you want this to come out in your favor, you've got to act calm and professional. If you break down now there's no way they'll release her into your custody."

Jacob choked back a sob and sat up straight, taking deep breaths to calm his nerves.

The door opened and Jane Faraday stood there, staring at them a moment before motioning them to enter the room.

"Ah, Agent Cizelski," the older judge greeted Jacob's boss with a handshake before turning to him. "And you must be Agent Resh." They shook hands.

"Yes, Sir," Jacob replied, feeling like a child to the man, even though his white hair and plaid button down shirt did make him seem friendly.

Everyone was crammed into the tiny office sitting on folding chairs in a circle. Two chairs were left, and Jacob gratefully sat down in one next to Walter, unsure how well he would be able to stand up if the news turned bad. He was afraid he was already a little light headed from his nerves. He clasped his hands together in his lap and refused to let them go.

"So, I suppose we should get started here," Jane said. "For the record, I want everyone here to know that Angela's real and full name is Angela Marie Bennett. The Resh which was added on has been taken off." She turned to look directly at Jacob, staring deep into his eyes. "You're one very lucky man," she said, her voice intimidating enough to make him nearly wilt under its power. "CSI cleared you. And with all that rubble, I have not a clue how they figured out what really happened. But they say you're clear."

Relief hit Jacob in the head like a twenty pound hammer and he struggled to stay sitting upright, to look as if nothing was wrong.

"Thank you."

"Don't thank me. Thank the evidence. Because I wouldn't have been so nice."

Jacob nodded and looked over at the judge and Dr. Vecchio who had yet to speak.

The psychologist spoke up first, "Jacob, I don't know how you did it, but you managed to make a connection with Angela when my nurses, and myself, couldn't. You managed to get her to at least attempt to eat with silverware, when my staff couldn't. I know the last time you were here things didn't end on a happy note. That's to be expected. But you've always been there for her, and that's what she needs, to know that someone will always be there for her, no matter what.

"Right now, she's going through a rough time, after three years of being treated like an animal now she suddenly has to relearn human behavior. She will never be the same way you knew her years ago. Because of the way they treated her, she will always have a flight or fight mentality. In her case, it will be more of a flight than a fight, but with enough patience and time she might regain enough of her old self to hold down a possible job. Maybe. There are no guarantees about any of this. As you probably know already, even the smallest of things could set her off. What you view as normal could have her hiding in a corner."

Jacob nodded, remembering the chocolate pudding on Angela's nose, just when he thought he'd gotten close to her. But he didn't understand why the doctor was going into such detail to him specifically and not to everyone in the room.

"It's been awhile since you've last seen her and her stitches have come out. She hasn't tried anything since that dinner, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. As I said, even the smallest of things could set her off and have her trying to cut her wrists again. You should be careful to keep all sharp objects away from her as much as possible. And always keep an eye on her."

"You look confused," Judge Hollister commented. "You've been cleared by the CSI. I personally looked over the evidence myself and could find nothing to arrest you on. I looked over Dr. Vecchio's notes here, and found nothing that says she can't go home with you."

Jacob stared at the judge in shock. Surely they weren't granting his wish? Surely the judge hadn't just said she could go home with him? That she was being released into his custody? Jacob wasn't sure whether he should be up out of his seat and jumping for joy or...or what? He was still in shock, too surprised to move a muscle, let alone get up and dance around the room.

"Angela is being released into your custody under one condition," the judge said. "A psychologist will visit you both once a week and report back to me. If it looks like anything wrong is happening, if she cuts her wrists once, she'll be brought back here within a heartbeat and you will be denied visitation rights. Understood?"

Jacob could only nod his head as thoughts raced through his mind. Angela was being released to him. He was being allowed to take her home and care for her. No one would ever hurt her again, as long as he lived. Of course, his apartment was too small for both of them. He hated the thought of having to move her too many times. But he would take her home if he could, get her settled in for awhile and do some apartment hunting. They needed a place big enough for both of them, but also one where he could work from. A home office, a big home office was important. A place with lots of windows. No. No, he would have to get Angela's opinion about the windows. Though he wanted a place that was sunny, and happy, if she didn't want...

"Jacob?" Dr. Vecchio brought Jacob back to the present. "Angela's in her room and a nurse is waiting to let you in if you'd like to tell her the news."

"Yes, yes I would," Jacob stumbled over his words as he stood up.

Walter grabbed his hand and gave it a quick squeeze before he was out the door and standing in front of Angela's room. He took a fast breath and walked in to find Angela in her usual place. He stopped in the middle of the room not wanting to intrude on her personal space after their last encounter.

"Angel?" he breathed, his heart racing.

She looked up from her lap with sad eyes. When she saw who it was, she blinked but didn't take her eyes away from him. She was wary of him, on her guard, and it made him sad. She shouldn't have to be that way. Not around him. He was there to help her. To protect her.

"Angel, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that dinner to turn out that way. I just forgot. That's all. And I'm sorry. It won't ever happen again. I promise."

Her gaze fell to the floor in front of her, letting her guard down. Jacob walked over to her and sat down in front of her, leaving two feet between them.

"I know you might never forgive me for any mistakes I may make. But that's ok. I respect that. I'm going to be doing the best I can to help you get better from here on out."

She looked back up at him with questioning eyes.

"Both Dr. Vecchio and the judge assigned to the case have agreed to release you into my custody."

He waited, letting that sink into her mind to see what her reaction would be. Her face betrayed no emotions but then she spoke, "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I'm learning. And everything is scary."

"No, Angel. No. You have nothing to be sorry for. After what that sonofabitch did to you." Jacob felt the tears coming to his eyes again, and wanted nothing other than to hold her tight. But he was afraid to move any closer. He wanted everything to go smoothly. This was a big event. And nothing could go wrong. "You'll remember the sun," he said through his tears. "You'll remember life."

Several nights later after Jacob had gotten into his makeshift bed on the couch he lay back and thought about the past few days. They'd been given a private jet on loan from the FBI to get them back home to Seattle, Washington that much quicker. Angela had been silent the entire way home. She'd been quiet a lot lately, in her own world. But he couldn't really blame her. This was a new situation for her. His apartment was a new place and he'd broken the news only a few hours ago that he would be looking for a bigger place and he wanted her help in the search.

He was beginning to learn to read her body language as if she was speaking to him. She'd nodded her agreement to the new place, but she hadn't been happy about it.

Really though, there was nothing he could do. He only had one bed here. They needed a larger place. Once there, all the moving would be over and she could finally settle in for good and get comfortable. She could finally have a place she could call home.

For now, he was just doing his best to get her used to sleeping in a bed again. The morning before when he'd gotten up he'd found her curled up in the corner with a blanket wrapped around her. He'd found the same thing again this morning, but he was sure with time she'd adjust. Time was what she needed.

Jacob yawned and closed his eyes as he slowly began to fall asleep, glad to know that she was finally safe. No one would ever touch her again.

The sound of something hard falling on the coffee table in front of the couch he was sleeping on, broke Jacob out of his deep sleep. Struggling to sit up, he wiped the sleep from his eyes and was surprised to find Angela curling up beside him under the blanket.

"Angel?"

On the table he saw what had woken him up and his heart stopped beating. He stared at the object, remembering Dr. Vecchio's words back at the Chicago Hospital for Mental Health,

"She...she...tried to cut herself. Several times. That's why we put her in here. She represents a danger to herself and to everyone else right now...We thought maybe it was just an accident that first time. But she did it again the next day. And the next. We moved her here, but she's determined to get those bandages off. She wants out of this world, and I'm doing all I can to keep her here as long as possible."

Then he remembered the scene from the kitchen earlier that day when Angela had accidentally knocked a glass off the table. He saw it shattering in slow motion on the floor and remembered picking up the pieces, telling Angela that it was ok, that she wasn't in trouble for anything.

This was the closest she'd willingly gotten to him, and the closest she'd willingly been to sleeping in a bed. He had to give her that. But inside, his heart was trembling. What had she done? Looking back at the glass he realized there was no blood on any of its sharp edges. She hadn't done it. She hadn't cut herself.

He looked down at her in his arms and found her as close to him as she could get with her head buried in his chest. She'd willingly taken the first big step towards getting over what the Praetorians had done to her. She'd given up the glass and come to him. Even if she wasn't talking to him Jacob knew everything was going to be ok. It would take a long time, but everything would be ok.

Letting her get comfortable in his arms as she fell asleep he laid his head back down on the pillow above hers and thanked the world for everything he had right there.

The End