Author's note: In my version of the Jake 2.0 universe, this occurs somewhere between Double Agent and "Get Foley".
Please also note: I don't own anything, just like to write about it and hope you enjoy reading it. R&R's are greatly welcome and appreciated; I do try to reply to each one I receive and employ the suggestions (like, lines between the author's notes and the beginning of the story – thanks, Zucht ! )
Like many other activities of late, New Year's Eve just wasn't what Jake had remembered. Even though it had only been a year since the last one, he realized that for him, a lifetime had passed, not just a year.
As he got ready to go downtown to meet his friends, he thought about everything that had happened, and the changes in his life. He pondered the fact that none of his friends had had to kill people in their line of work, as he had.
He and his poker posse – sans Kevin, who was spending it with his wife, Jenny – had decided to go to the Hard Rock – not the trendiest place but always a solid good time and lots of girls.
It just wasn't as much fun as he had remembered, and the only girls they met were either uninterested in a seemingly lowly NSA tech or uninteresting. He realized the only women he had met in the previous year with whom he could strike up at least a conversation had been criminals of some kind, definitely untrustworthy … well, and Diane, but she didn't count – she was his doctor, his friend, his co-worker his brain iterated to him for the thousandth time. He couldn't put any more thought in that direction.
At 11:30, when he was the last one without a girl to kiss at midnight, he decided to try and beat the traffic and catch the ball drop at home. He waved goodbye at his friends, who chalked up his antisocial behaviors to his split with Sarah, and jumped in his little sedan, finally provided complements of the agency. At least that aspect of his life was looking up, he though somewhat miserably. It was his little bit of immature fun, to drive it with a certain amount of reckless abandon.
As he had driven past the Press Club, he remembered Diane mentioning she was going to be attending a New Year's party there with someone she knew from the university where she had begun an Italian course. She was excited because she really enjoyed places like the Press Club; stately, old institutions rich in tradition, although she generally eschewed the dressing up part.
"There's just such an air of elegance and history about it, you know?" she had enthused.
Just as the thought was crossing his mind, he saw her, with no coat against the December chill, her hair slightly askew across her shoulders; one was revealed to the elements. She was striding purposefully down the sidewalk. He pulled over and rolled down the window, driving alongside her.
"Diane!" he called.
She stopped, startled, and turned in his direction; she had on a fabulous black velvet dress dotted with tiny rhinestones, and a wonderfully revealing, plunging neckline, but there was something not quite right about it. She looked relieved to see him, and smiled.
"Hey, Jake," she said. She stepped closer to the car; she was shivering a bit, as she folded her arms around her for warmth, tugging the fabric around her bare shoulder, clutching a matching evening bag in her other hand. Aside from the fact that something was obviously wrong, she looked incredibly sexy, he realized. He quickly banished the thought.
"Aren't you supposed to be out with your poker friends?"
"Drew a bad hand; I figured I'd just go home and watch the ball drop there," he said casually.
"Yeah, so did I," she said dejectedly, rubbing her arms for warmth.
"You look cold; are you okay? Where's your coat? Hop in; I'll drop you at your apartment." He reached over and opened the door for her; concern was setting in.
"Thanks," she said with a smile as she slid into the passenger seat. That's when he noticed the tear in her dress which had left her shoulder exposed.
"Geez, Diane, are you okay? Here, take my jacket." He slipped his jacket off and draped it around her shoulders before she could protest.
She settled back against his jacket, visibly relaxing, but still dejected.
"Are you sure you're okay?" he pressed. "Do I need to go and defend your honor or anything like that?" he said with a sideways grin at her.
She chuckled softly, but there had been no mirth in her laughter.
"I didn't get a black belt in karate because I had nothing better to do. It's going to be a while before the honorable Professor Grimaldi can take a piss without bruising himself," she said in a low voice, with just a hint of anger.
Jake remembered being somewhat shocked by her tone and her words; he was equally shocked by the fact that it turned him on. He quickly brushed it aside.
"Note to self: do NOT piss off Diane," he said with a teasing grin. "Seriously, though, good for you. I'm sorry you had to deal with that, but good for you for defending yourself." The thought of somebody trying something on her annoyed him.
She sighed, and gave another dry laugh.
"Well, I finally found someone who only wanted me for my body; guess that type of relationship's not all it's cracked up to be, either," she said with a dry, slightly sarcastic tone.
They both chuckled now, at the memory of the last conversation they'd had on the subject.
"Is there anyone left on this planet that doesn't want more than you're willing to give, Jake?"
He'd often wondered the same thing. He couldn't give too much to a relationship, since he couldn't be honest about what he did; and few girls seemed interested in him because his fake profession seemed so lackluster. That fact, and his job had really opened his eyes to the truth about humanity; some days he wasn't sure how much more he wanted to know.
"I don't know, Diane. But a new year is almost upon us; I guess we might be able to find out."
"Yeah, I hope you're right."
They rode a few minutes in comfortable silence; watching the revelers and party goers around them. Snow began to fall; Jake drove slowly towards her apartment. As they got closer, the snow was starting to cling to the sidewalk. It would be a slippery walk, and she wasn't exactly dressed for the weather. As he pulled up in front, Diane reached for the door handle.
"No, hang on a second. I believe in door to door service under these types of conditions," he said with a grin. He nosed the car up over the curb, and drove carefully up the sidewalk to the doorway, turning so she could step out onto the cement platform directly in front of the entrance to the building. He looked over at her; she was giggling slightly with surprise and amusement.
He threw the gear shift into park and jumped out, jogging around the front of the car, slipping slightly on the snow, he reached her side and opened her door, offering her his hand so she could disembark. She giggled as she took his hand and stepped gingerly out onto the cement.
He shut the door behind her as she fished for her apartment keys.
"Oh, here, let me give you back your jacket," she said, handing it back to him. As he slipped it back on, he decided again that she looked terrific in that dress, tear and all.
"Thanks so much Jake; I really appreciate this."
"No problem; happy I came along at the right time."
She looked up at him, with a half serious look. "Yeah, you did."
They could hear chanting now, as the countdown to the New Year wrapped up, and people began to celebrate.
"Happy New Year, Jake," she said, smiling at him.
"Happy New Year, Diane," he replied. Without really knowing why, he closed his eyes and leaned down and brushed her lips lightly; she returned the light kiss.
They stood looking at each other for a minute, each wondering what, if anything, should follow; Diane shivered against a sudden breeze.
"Well, I should really go in," she said, moving towards the door.
"Yeah, and I should really get my car off the sidewalk," he said with a grin, as he walked back around to the driver's side, slipping slightly against the snow and wet grass combination. "Good night, Diane."
"Good night, Jake." She had smiled and waved at him as he drove away; Jake made up his mind then that this year, things would be different – somehow.
Diane hesitated at the door to Louise Beckett's office. This couldn't be a good way to start the New Year, and she really didn't need additional trouble at this point.
"You wanted to see me?"
Louise looked up at her. She smiled slightly, to reassure the girl, but she didn't want to be too placating about the situation.
"Come in Diane; please shut the door and have a seat."
Diane's heart leapt into her throat, as she complied with her boss's instruction. As she sat in front of her supervisor's desk, she concentrated on a spot on the blotter, focusing all of her attention on it.
"Diane, tell me about what happened with Professor Grimaldi."
Diane looked up, almost startled. "What about Professor Grimaldi?"
Louise looked at her, not unkindly. She contemplated the girl's expression; based on what she knew about her already, she knew Diane wasn't hiding anything or feigning ignorance.
"Can you tell me why he wants to press assault charges on you?"
Diane sighed and looked down. It unnerved her slightly that the NSA would know about this incident, but she knew the risks of working for them when she signed up. She took a deep breath, and looked up, meeting Louise's gaze straight on.
"Because I injured him with a karate move in the Press Club on New Year's Eve."
Louise listened, and chose her next words carefully.
"Can you tell me why you did it?"
Diane was quiet for a moment, but her eyes never left Lou's face.
"Because he wasn't taking 'no' for an answer."
There was an angry snap to Diane's eyes that she wasn't used to seeing in the young scientist; Louise surmised what had happened and decided she didn't need to pry for further details on the specific incident.
"Then what happened?"
"Once he was down, all I thought about was getting away." Diane looked down and shut her eyes, trying to squeeze out the ensuing flood of memories of the panic and desperation she had felt while she was trying to get away from him – first from the back room he had locked them in together, then from the building itself. She took a deep breath and continued.
"Once I got out of the building, I began walking home – mainly to walk off the anger, but it's not like there'd have been a cab available at that point on New Year's Eve. Luckily Jake pulled up and gave me a ride."
Louise was struck by that particular detail.
"Really?" she said with a bit of surprise.
"Yeah, I guess it was serendipity," Diane said. "He said his plans hadn't worked out and he just happened to be in the area. Lucky for me, since I had left my coat behind and it started to snow." She looked away now; Louise guessed there was more to that ride home than Diane wanted to reveal.
"Are you okay?"
"Well, aside from the possibility of losing my job because I defended myself against unwanted advances, I'm fine."
"That's not what I meant."
Diane was quiet now; she did know what the other woman meant. She thought for a moment, then looked directly at her boss again.
"Yes, Lou; I'm fine, and quite frankly, regardless of the fallout, I'd do it again." The angry snap was back in her eyes.
Louise smiled briefly at her; as annoying as it could be at times, she really did admire the girl's spirit.
"It might be a rough stretch of time for you."
"It would be rougher if I hadn't done it."
Louise thought about this answer.
"Well, as I understand it, the D.A. hasn't made any firm decisions on whether or not to pursue the charges, and he didn't feel the need to have you arrested, so it could very well blow over. These types of cases are messy, and they really don't want to deal with them." She hoped to give the girl some measure of comfort with these words. She didn't think it was necessary to inform Diane that she had put off the arrest with some fancy verbal footwork of her own.
Diane smiled her quirky smile at the deputy director.
"I hope so."
"Go ahead and go on back to work; try not to think about it until the D.A. has had a chance to make a decision. If they wait too long, any evidence of an assault will be minimal, anyway."
"Thanks, Lou." Diane breathed an audible sigh of relief as she got up and headed back to the lab.
When the girl was out of sight, Louise picked up her phone and dialed a different number now.
"Hi, can you come down to my office for a moment? Bring your partner, too."
Kyle and Jake were in the doorway within a few minutes.
"Please come in and shut the door."
Kyle and Jake looked at each other; this usually meant something serious.
As they settled themselves in front of her desk, Louise focused on Jake; her gaze made him slightly uncomfortable.
"Jake, can you tell me what happened with Diane on New Year's Eve?"
Jake gulped; he wondered how she knew. He really didn't think it was worth mentioning; he couldn't see Diane actually stopping in to tell her boss about it, unless he'd just read her all wrong.
Lou was still staring at him; he stopped his mental gymnastics.
"It was just a little kiss; you know – like a brother and sister, or something like that. I mean, it was midnight on New Year's Eve, after all." Jake reminded himself to stop talking at that point.
Louise shut her eyes; she could almost feel Kyle grinning. This story was getting much more interesting.
"I meant, can you tell me what happened to Diane that night? She only mentioned that you had given her a ride home when she had a problem at the Press Club."
Jake sighed, and closed his eyes, dropping his head against the back of the chair. Diane hadn't said anything, but he'd blown it a mile wide now. When he opened his eyes again, Lou was still staring at him, waiting for an answer. He sat up straight.
"Well she looked like she'd been through some kind of fight, and her dress had been ripped right off her shoulder. She didn't say much other than that some guy – Professor Grimaldi – would be …" he paused, trying to decide how to repeat what she had said, "having difficulty urinating for some time."
Kyle looked down; Louise could see he was hiding his laughter. She shot him a death stare; he straightened up and swallowed hard, trying to get serious.
"Is that all?"
"Well, I didn't think it was my place to ask her details about what happened; I was just worried because her dress was ripped and she was walking in the cold without her coat. It's not like she was going to get a cab at that time on New Year's Eve, so I gave her a ride home."
Louise stared at him a moment longer, but she believed him that he wouldn't have pressed for details, and what he said had matched what Diane had told her.
"Alright, Jake, thank you. You can go now; Agent Duarte, I'd like you to stay," she said as the senior agent got up to leave with his partner.
Kyle and Jake exchanged a look.
"Certainly," Kyle said as he sat back down; Jake exited the office, sighing as the door shut behind him.
When Jake was out of sight, Kyle's grin returned full force.
"You can almost see it coming now," he said.
"Like a runaway freight train on a downhill slope," Louise said with exasperation.
"C'mon Lou; you know what it's like."
"Kyle, you and I both graduated from the school of 'been there, done that' and we both know how difficult it can be."
"Yeah, but wouldn't you do it all again, knowing what you know now, knowing what you knew then?"
Louise thought about Kyle's words for a moment; yes, she would do it all again; it was just hard to watch two young people moving towards something that had the potential to make their lives so hard. A part of her also remembered the rush and intensity of those feelings, though, and how alive she felt during that time. She stared at the little bottletop chair on her desk; the feelings were still strong.
"Yes. I guess they're entitled to their moment, too," she said resignedly. "I just hope …" she trailed off, not sure how to end the sentence.
Kyle looked at her; he knew what she meant.
"Yeah, me too."
Louise sat up straight in her chair and leaned on her desk, the intensity in her eyes telling Kyle there was more to this conversation.
"That's not why I wanted you to stay. The reason I called you and Jake in here is that Diane may actually be charged with assault for what happened on New Year's Eve, and unless Professor Grimaldi can be persuaded to change his mind about those charges, there's a good chance that D.C.'s finest will be leading her out of here in handcuffs this afternoon."
Kyle absorbed her words, and let out a long, low whistle. "Man, that just seems so wrong."
"It is, but the mayor's office is serious about their no tolerance policy on crime, and NSA employees aren't going to catch a break right as the New Year starts – and, you know we can't get involved, officially."
Louise clasped her hands together on top of the desk, and lowered her voice.
"Unofficially, however, since you and Jake aren't on assignment at the moment, if the two of you decided to do some investigating on the matter, I wouldn't really know about it, would I?"
Kyle smiled at her. "Lou, I feel a cold coming on; may I please go home?"
"Please do; I don't want half the office coming down with it – in fact, you don't look so good; have your partner take you to the clinic."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, smiling as he got up, bowed slightly, and exited her office.
Jake was waiting for him just down the hall, out of the boss' sight.
Kyle gave him a serious look.
"I'm sick, and you need to take me to the clinic."
"Really? You don't look too bad."
Kyle stared at him. "I'm sick, and you need to take me to the clinic."
Jake absorbed his partner's look; the real meaning of his words finally clicked.
"Yeah, actually, you do look a little green around the gills; try not to breathe on me," Jake said, as he shrugged into his jacket and grabbed his keys.
As he steered out of the garage, he asked the obvious question.
"So, where are we really going?"
"This Professor Grimaldi person is planning to press assault charges against Diane; unless you and I can find a way to change that before the end of the day, they'll arrest her."
Jake's mouth fell open; he couldn't believe what he had just heard.
"Are you kidding me? She defends herself and this is what she gets? Geez, the jerk tried to rip her dress off!"
"Well, that's why you and I are going to fix this. Who do you know from the University?"
Jake thought for a moment; the immediate answer hit him, but he was reluctant to reveal it. Kyle continued on with his hastily sketched plan while Jake considered whether or not to answer him.
"I have a friend in the District Attorney's office; I need to wish her a Happy New Year. You'll need to touch base with someone on campus and see if there's any way we can motivate the professor to change his mind. That might be kind of tricky, with it being holiday break and all."
Jake chuckled slightly. "Oh, don't worry; I've got that part covered; every dirty old man's got a secret and I know just where to find them."
"Can you get in there? Legitimately, I mean? We can't ruffle too many feathers with this."
Jake sighed. "Yeah, I can do it. Most professors are easily influenced by the deans of their colleges; once I've figured out his secret, I just need to find out who that person is and have a chat with them. That will be the key to changing his mind."
Kyle eyed his young partner closely.
"You don't seem too enthusiastic about this plan."
"My best contact for the University is Sarah."
Kyle grimaced. "Ooh, that's gotta suck. Will she help you, given the circumstances?"
"Yeah, I think so; heck, after our last date, she suggested that I should ask Diane out."
Kyle laughed. "Man, you really don't know anything about women, do you?"
"So, are you going to?"
"Going to what?"
"Ask her out? You've already kissed her." Kyle's tone was mildly teasing.
"Can we focus on keeping her out of jail right now?" Jake asked, deflecting any further conversation on the point as he pulled up in front of D.C.'s city hall.