Summary: Erica disguises herself as a nun so she can stay close to and thereby protect Jack at a clergy-Visitor function. She attempts to seduce Hobbes, who's initially happy to role-play. However when the tryst doesn't go as planned it's left to Jack to smooth things over between all concerned.
Content notes: Mild sexual scenes, sacrilegious themes. Set sometime between 1.5 and 1.7
Disclaimer: not mine, not for profit
It was an important event for the Church, and naturally there was going to be a lot of security involved. To Jack's relief, Erica was going to be there as part of that detail. A number of important clergy members were going to be attending, meeting with a Visitor representative to talk about matters of faith. Not Anna and not the Pope, but this was still a big deal.
The only problem was that the actual meeting was to be clergy and the representative only. The press-attended reception and the refreshments afterwards were to open to civilians but the FBI and Visitor Task Force were to wait outside closed doors for the duration of the session.
"I don't like it," Erica said.
"Neither do I," Jack said. "But there's nothing I can do about it. They made a show of this being a matter of trust – of faith, if you will. "
"Don't go," she urged.
"I can't. It will look suspicious if I don't turn up – doubly so if anything untoward should happen at the meeting," he pointed out.
Hobbes snorted. "Untoward? I could take out the entire meeting room with a block of C4 the size of my fist."
"Thank you for that cheery notion," Jack retorted.
Ryan rubbed a hand over his forehead. "It's dangerous, yes, but you're right. You can't inot/i go. And I'm sure the security detail will be searching for any explosive devices and the like."
Hobbes rolled his eyes and Erica caught him doing so. She put her hands on her hips. "I suppose you think that's not enough? That you could get through security?"
"I know I could," he taunted.
Jack laid a placating hand on Erica's arm. Being in such close quarters in the basement, away from the daylight, seemed to aggravate the tensions they faced more than usual. "I trust you, Erica."
She smiled and relaxed a little. They talked for a while about the potential threats and how the security detail would handle them. At last Ryan checked his watch.
"I have to go."
He left and Jack followed shortly afterwards. Erica pulled on her jacket, flicking her hair over her collar. Hobbes examined the knife he'd been sharpening throughout the discussion.
She paused at the foot of the stairs. "What is it?"
He smiled wolfishly. "I've had an idea."
"And this is Father Roland Cranshaw from County Antrim," the enthusiastic young priest told Jack. He must have just got out from the seminary, Jack thought, wondering if he'd ever been so young or so enthusiastic. He shook hands with yet another person he'd never met and would probably never meet again after today. He moved on to the next person, barely paying attention. Hobbes's comment about C4 had unnerved him and although a team of agents with scanning devices and sniffer dogs had been over the room twice he was still on high alert.
The young priest checked his clipboard. "Father Jack Landry of St Josephine's, where we'll hold the service this evening," he said by way of introduction. "Father, this is Sister Mary Rosa from Chicago."
Jack held out his hand, raised his eyes from the floor, from the sensible shoes and long blue skirt and up to the bright blue eyes of – Erica Evans.
She raised her eyebrows, fixed smile on her face, hand outstretched.
Jack clasped her hand briefly. "Sister," he said, the word somewhat strained.
She lowered her veiled head briefly as she released his hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Father," she said demurely. Over the long blue tunic, a crucifix dangled at her breasts. Jack stared and the young priest had to clear his throat nosily to get Jack to move onto the next guest.
The clergy were almost all seated when Jack managed to get a moment alone to talk to Erica. She was sat on the end of the second row, with a good view of the room. He crouched down by her seat.
"What are you doing?" he whispered.
"Watching your back," she told him.
"Are you armed?" he demanded, shocked.
She glanced about her to be sure they weren't attracting undue attention.
"Of course." She smiled involuntarily at the horror on his face. "What use would I be otherwise?"
Jack made a noise that seemed to indicate both his acceptance of the fact and his displeasure at it.
"My boss okayed it," Erica said as if that would make everything all right. "Anything to make sure an assassination of a member of the Church doesn't happen on his watch. Though to be fair, this was actually Hobbes's idea."
Jack sighed and looked across the room. His eyes widened. "You, undercover FBI, I get. But that?"
Erica looked to where he was jabbing an accusing finger. A black-robed priest, his cassock hanging down to his ankles, was nodding and pointing to the clipboard. The young priest was scribbling with a pen. He then nodded to the priest and moved off. The man turned and Erica saw that it was actually Hobbes. He was wearing half-moon wire-rimmed spectacles and he'd trimmed his beard. He grinned and bowed in their direction. Then he turned and took a seat near the back of the room, on the opposite side to Erica.
"I had no idea," Erica said. "I thought he was going to wait outside, with Ryan." She shrugged. "And in civilian clothes."
Jack was wearing a black shirt with his clerical collar and black trousers. While Father Travis was wearing the black cassock, Jack had decided to show a more casual, progressive side to Saint Josephine's. And there was Hobbes, more priestly-looking than he was. It was an outrage. Probably blasphemy. There were laws against posing as a clergy member, though Hobbes had broken far more serious laws than those.
"We're going to hell," Jack said faintly. "We're all going to hell."
"Not today," Erica promised.
The meeting was incredibly dull. The Visitor, Aaron, was careful not to say anything controversial and the clergy were being cautious too. Lots of talk of serving mankind, of the importance of peace and love, lots of empty platitudes. The elderly priest sitting behind Erica was snoring softly within the first five minutes.
Finally the closed session was over and everyone repaired to the main room where the buffet was laid out. Aaron made a great show of tasting a cream cheese bagel for the first time and finding it to his liking.
There were plenty of FBI agents here as well as police and other security personnel. Erica withdrew into the background. She didn't want to be photographed while posing as a nun – religious Sister, she corrected. Jack had given her a two minute lecture on what he considered to be the most salient points if she were to successfully pull off the deception. Sister Mary Rosa was from the Sisters of Charity and therefore not cloistered and not technically a nun.
"Hello, Sister," Hobbes purred in her ear, having crept up behind her left shoulder. "Did Jack like your outfit?"
"Not as much as he hated yours," she said. "Which, I might add, was not part of the plan."
"You thought I'd let you have all the fun?"
"You're insane," she said, still looking forward and keeping a smile on her face so as not to attract attention. "You're a wanted man and you waltz into a top-security gathering with nothing so much as a cassock and a pair of glasses to hide your identity!"
"Works for Clark Kent," Hobbes pointed out.
"Do you enjoy the danger? Is that it?" Erica turned her head to stare into his dark eyes. "We need you alive, Hobbes. Don't tell me you have a death wish."
"If I didn't enjoy the risk I'd never have been so good at my job," he told her.
"You mean your military career," Erica said.
"Career is for officers. Big Brass. Career sounds like something with a pension, and promotions you aspire to, something you do 9-5 and then go home from, probably to some house with a white picket fence. What I did in the military wasn't a career. It certainly wasn't part of some grand plan."
Erica tipped her head. "You're not the grand plan type."
"No. Live for the moment," he said. He reached over and tugged gently at the corner of the veil. "It's a pity you didn't go for the more traditional habit."
"Most of the Sisters here are dressing modestly rather than traditionally," she pointed out.
"Looks like things are winding down a bit," Hobbes observed as the Archbishop and Aaron left the room with great ceremony. "Probably need to get their beauty sleep before the service tonight."
Jack was still deep in conversation with several clergy members, for the party wasn't yet over. Still, it was unlikely the Visitors would bother to attack now.
"Do you mean it?" Erica asked. "About living for the moment?"
Hobbes nodded. "Why?"
Erica bobbed her head towards a door across the room. "Come with me."
Beyond the door was a narrow, winding, staircase. Erica led the way. At the top of the staircase was a tiny landing with the only exit an imposing door with a key sitting in the lock. She turned the key and took it from the lock, then pushed open the heavy wooden door and led them into the generously sized storage space. One large empty table sat near a shuttered window, an overstuffed armchair occupied one corner, and extra plastic chairs were stacked neatly in rows against one wall.
Erica closed the door behind them and put the key into the lock on this side, turning it with a satisfying click.
"What now?" Hobbes asked.
"Now, this," Erica said. She reached up and put one hand behind his head, pulling him down towards her. She kissed him, full on the lips, and at first he didn't respond, taken aback. She released him and waited for him to make the next move.
"You sure about this?" Hobbes asked, his body language saying he was uncertain, but his voice deeper with his obvious desire.
Erica nodded. She reached up and plucked the glasses from his face, tossing them into one corner. She clasped his cheeks with her hands and he responded by holding her by her elbows, urging her forwards. This time when she kissed him he kissed back, parting his lips to catch her lower lip between both of his.
"You are a very naughty nun," he admonished.
"Yes, Father," she agreed. He bent down and unbuttoned the top four buttons of her tunic, exposing her cleavage and the edge of her white bra. He kissed her right breast and Erica moaned encouragingly as he then licked at her cleavage, sliding his tongue along the edge of her left breast.
"You've tempted me into committing the sin of lust," Hobbes said gruffly, "and possibly I'm committing adultery."
"Aren't all nuns the brides of Christ?"
Eric stepped backwards and knelt before him. "Give me penance," she begged.
"Treat me as if I were thy husband," he said and Erica reached up under the cassock and ran her fingers lightly, seductively, over his groin.
"Do I please you in my obedience?" she whispered and he reached down, fingers twisting in her veil.
"No. It pleases me more for you to be bold, Sister."
Erica got to her feet and grabbed at his shoulders, fingers clutching at the cassock. She again sought his mouth with hers, kissing him roughly, seeking his tongue with hers.
She pulled away suddenly, still holding onto his clothes, and yanked hard so he almost lost his balance. She spun him so that his back was to the window and she stepped in close, forcing him to move backwards. She shoved him against the table.
Hobbes now snatched at her veil, pulling her to him. He kissed her hard, his stubble grazing her cheek. Erica forced one knee between his legs, and pushed harder, forcing him to bend backwards and lie pressed against the table top.
"There'll be Hail Mary's for this," he warned breathlessly. She smirked and bent down, hitching his cassock up and folding it over his chest.
Erica straddled his hips and leant over him. She licked at his throat, one hand clutching his clerical collar, the other fumbling for the fastenings at his groin. Hobbes was breathing faster in anticipation. He grabbed at her buttocks, holding Erica close to him. He closed his eyes.
"Bless me, Father," Erica whispered into his ear, "for I am about to sin and I do not care."
Hobbes suddenly opened his eyes and his hands went from her buttocks to the front of her thighs, pushing her away.
Erica stumbled, almost fell to the floor, barely able to land on her feet and not her behind. She adjusted her skewed veil, confusion on her face. "Too much?"
"No," he snapped, standing up straight and smoothing his rumpled clothing. "You don't want me. You want this." He gestured to his outfit, mouth twisted in rage.
Erica opened her mouth, but no words came out in her confusion.
Hobbes gave a wry laugh and shook his head in self-deprecation. "You want him!"
"Hobbes," she began desperately but he shoved past her. He tried the door, but it was still locked of course. Erica reached for his arm but he shoved her away, got the door unlocked and then flung it open and stormed out.
Erica watched him go. She pulled the veil from her head, and backed away, cheeks hot with shame.
"Erica?" Jack approached her. She was sitting on the floor by the table, back to the wall, staring at the floor. Hobbes's glasses were clutched in one hand. "I've been looking for you. Are you all right?"
"I hurt Kyle," she said, lifting her head to meet his gentle gaze.
Jack's eyes narrowed and he reached out, caressing with the back of one finger a small bruise by her cheekbone. "Did he do that to you?" he demanded angrily.
"No," Erica said, further shamed by his concern. He had, but it had been during their passionate, in-character, struggle and not the violent end to the encounter. It hadn't been done in anger, nor on purpose, and it was easier to lie than describe the true circumstances. "No. And that's not what I meant."
Jack sat down next to her and waited for her explain. At last Erica gathered her thoughts.
"I hurt his feelings," she said.
"Is that even possible?"
Erica shot him a stunned glance and he looked embarrassed.
"That was wrong of me. I'm sorry. I sometimes think he brings out the worst in us."
"He wants us to think like soldiers," Erica said. "Do you think – is it possible we bring out the best in him?" He'd joined them reluctantly but he'd been loyal and more of an asset than she'd hoped for. He had contacts she didn't, took risks even she was reluctant to. He'd saved their lives on more than one occasion.
"I'd like to think so," Jack said. He tipped his head to one side. "How did you hurt him?"
Erica gestured to her dress. "I was dressed like this and he was dressed like that, and…and we came up here to, um…to, um…"
Erica bit her lip in embarrassment. Jack's eyes widened as he realised what she was referring to. "Oh," he said, and then, incredulously, "With Hobbes?"
Erica threw her head back in despair and banged her skull against the wall when she misjudged the movement. She didn't care; she deserved the pain. "I know. I'm an FBI agent, a law-abiding citizen, a mother. And he's…Hobbes."
When she fell silent, Jack said carefully, "You're not just a federal agent or a mother. You're a woman and you have desires. Perfectly normal desires. And stressful circumstances can cause us to perceive situations differently and to act in ways that we otherwise might not. Circumstances like war. And we are at war with the Visitors."
When Erica didn't reply he tried another tactic.
"You're both consenting adults and while my vocation insists I disapprove of intercourse outside of a marital union, I personally understand why you would seek out this comfort."
She blinked hard. "That's not the problem. We didn't even have sex."
Jack took this in his stride. "Then what is it? What happened?"
"We were – flirting, I suppose. Roughly," she said, motioning to the bruise that had so alarmed Jack. "And I was getting a little bit carried away with the role-playing. And he –he felt I was using him."
Erica nodded. "And maybe he was right."
They were both silent a moment.
"Do you want to talk anymore about this?" Jack asked at length. "Or is it going to get more awkward than it already is?"
"More awkward," she agreed.
"What about Hobbes? Is this going to affect the team?" Jack asked, moving to a safer topic and one that was of immediate importance.
"I don't know." Erica sighed. "I doubt he'll change his mind about helping us, but I can't see how it will improve his disposition."
Jack got to his feet and held out his hand to help Erica up. "You should go home," he said.
As he led the way downstairs he said, "I spoke to your boss. I told him how grateful I was for your dedication to protecting us."
"Thank you," she said softly.
"Go home," he said again. "It'll be okay."
Hobbes was lying on the bed in the basement, one arm crooked behind his head, staring at the ceiling. Jack entered and Hobbes flicked his eyes to the door, confirmed there was no threat (though the man was too paranoid not to have glanced at the security monitor already), and returning to studying the dull concrete.
"Thank you, for protecting me today," Jack said.
"Not that there was anything to protect you from," Hobbes replied moodily.
"But there could have been."
"Aren't you angry at my impersonating a member of the clergy?"
"Would it matter if I was?" Jack moved to sit on the edge of the bed. Hobbes stayed silent and didn't move. Jack was aware that Hobbes was probably never more than three inches away from a weapon, or something that could be used as a weapon, and even unarmed the mercenary could grab him and snap his neck before Jack could yell for help. While Hobbes attacking him was highly unlikely it was more than feasible; Hobbes scared Jack more than he cared to admit. So Jack was cautious when he spoke next.
"Erica seemed upset when she left the reception."
Hobbes shifted then, sitting up against the headboard, eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Yeah?"
Jack nodded. "She seemed to think you were angry with her. I wanted to make sure you were all right."
Hobbes shrugged. "Why wouldn't I be?"
The two men locked gazes, neither willing to concede further.
"It's my job to be concerned," Jack reminded him softly. "If something happened that you want to talk about –"
Hobbes shook his head. "No. Don't fret, padre. It's water under the bridge. We're fighting a war. Can't get bogged down in petty jealousies."
Jealousies; interesting choice of phrase, Jack thought. "I told Erica much the same; that we're at war, and that people react in unusual ways during such times."
"I'm always at war," Hobbes said and he'd clearly meant it to be flippant but it wasn't. He looked away, angry at the vulnerability he'd inadvertently exposed. "Don't you have a service you need to get to?"
Jack checked his watch. "I have a few minutes."
Hobbes frowned. "You really don't get it, do you?"
"What?" Jack asked.
"She wants what she can't have," Hobbes said bitterly. "So she'll settle for me, what she ishouldn't/i have."
Jack tried to pretend that the thing Erica couldn't have, the thing that they were discussing, was reconciliation with Joe, who wouldn't forgive her, or some mystical perfect relationship that didn't exist, because otherwise things were getting to get complicated.
Jack stood and was glad that Hobbes remained seated. It was the only time he was taller than the mercenary and it wasn't just the superior height that made him feel better for standing; Jack always stood when he was giving a sermon and this position bolstered his confidence.
"Whatever happened, or didn't happen, I know this much. Erica would never intentionally hurt you," Jack said. "And if she did, I'm sure she's very sorry."
Hobbes shrugged, but his expression was grim. "You'll be late for your service," he said and his tone brooked no argument. Still Jack hesitated.
"I'm good," Hobbes said at last. He smiled, one of his cocky smiles that irritated Erica and, to a lesser extent, Ryan. "Really. Go."
Jack nodded. Maybe he should have asked Ryan to intervene here; Hobbes was skilled in suppressing his emotions, where Ryan had struggled to embrace his. They might have common ground. Jack considered telling Hobbes that he should call him if he wanted to but didn't; firstly because Hobbes knew this already and secondly because Jack knew he wouldn't.
The next day, while Jack was making coffee, and Hobbes and Ryan were looking at photos of alleged fifth column activity, Erica descended the stairs and came into the basement room.
"Morning," Jack called.
"Hi," she said, her tone bright, but her face anxious. She headed over to Hobbes and held out the half-moon glasses. "In case you need to be Clark Kent again," she offered.
He stared at her a moment.
"I should have given them back yesterday. I'm sorry," Erica said.
Jack held his breath, but Hobbes simply took the proffered spectacles and slipped them into his coat pocket.
"Thanks," he said and returned to discussing the photos. Things were back to what passed for normal, at least on the outside. Thank Heaven, Jack thought, for small mercies.