A/N: Follows my line of stories that began in "Snow Day." I would say this one takes place approximately 2 months after "Father's Day."
Disclaimer: I don't own them, but I consider this story fair use. Warner Brothers, Jerry Bruckheimer, Stephen Gallaher and others may disagree.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It was late in the afternoon and the sudden chirp of a cell phone startled Dr. Jacob Hood. His hand, in the process of adjusting the resolution on the light microscope in his FBI lab, jerked, causing the specimen of lake water to go wildly out of focus. Jacob cursed and glared at the offender, Special Agent Rachel Young.
"Do you mind?" he snarled, "I'm trying to work here and I could use a little quiet."
"Hold on," Rachel mumbled into her phone. She returned Jacob's glare. "Excuse me; I'll take this in the hall." Getting to her feet she stomped out of the lab, slamming the door behind her.
Jacob sat stiffly until Rachel was out of the lab. His shoulders slumped and he sighed softly. Rubbing his hand over his face, he was turning his attention back to his microscope when he was once again interrupted; this time by a loud harrumph. He looked over at Special Agent Felix Lee with an expression of irritation. "What?"
"A little harsh, don't you think Doc?" Felix looked disapprovingly at Jacob. "I mean, really. I know the NIH has been after you for an analysis of that cyanide bacteria…"
"You mean cyanobacteria," Jacob interjected with a small smile.
"Whatever," Felix waved a hand, "still, that's no call to go snapping at Agent Young. It's not like she made you drop the slide or anything." Felix narrowed his eyes. "You ok? You two ok? And don't tell me it's not my business," Felix continued as Jacob raised his eyebrows. "If the two of you are gonna start having spats in from of me, then yeah, it is my business."
"I'm sorry Felix," Jacob replied formally. "You're right, Rachel and I shouldn't be subjecting you to our fits of temper. But" he raised a hand to forestall Felix's comment. "We're not fighting, it's just..." Jacob sighed and rubbed his face again. "To be honest with you I'm not feeling that great. Rachel has been pestering me all afternoon to go home, and well, it annoyed me. I mean, I'm not going to feel any better sitting around our apartment; besides, the NIH needs this analysis"
The National Institute of Health has called the day before, requesting the assistance of the Special Science Advisor for the FBI. NIH scientists had been researching a connection between cyanobacteria and ALS, or Lou Gehrig's, disease. They had mapped occurrences of ALS all over the country and were looking at disease clusters that appeared in close proximity to the bacteria. They had been surprised to discover that the bacteria sample, from the cluster in New Hampshire, had mutated in an unusual fashion. Unable to determine the cause of the mutation, they had turned to Jacob for help.
A stubborn look came over Jacob's face. "This mutation in the bacteria may be significant. If this is a natural mutation, it could be the key to finding a genetic linkage to ALS disease. I need to find the cause of this mutation now." He turned back to his microscope.
Felix sat back shaking his head in frustration. Talk about an irrestible force and an unmovable object. How in the world did two of the stubbornest people he'd ever met manage to fall in love and get married? If Agent Young had it in her head that it was in the Doc's best interest to get home she wouldn't let up until he agreed. And if the Doc decided that he needed to keep working, then well, he could dig in his heels with the best of them. He settled back into his chair with a magazine, resigned to riding out the coming storm as best he could.
Felix's head snapped up a few minutes later as the lab door opened softly . His eyes widened at the look on Agent Young's face. In all the time they'd worked together, he'd never seen her look like this. She looked almost, Felix searched his memory for the right word, bereft. Yeah, that was it, she looked heart-broken.
"Agent Young," he began hesitantly, "you ok? Was that bad news on the phone?"
Rachel entered the lab slowly. She felt a little stunned and a bit heartsick. Felix's questions finally penetrated, she shook her head. "I'm fine, Felix. It's just..." She turned toward Jacob. "Jacob, I'm sorry but I need to talk to you."
Felix's eyebrows rose. This must be serious. Agent Young was scrupulous about always calling the Doc 'Hood' whenever they were working. This must be bad.
Jacob, for his part, turned from his microscope with a theatrical sigh. "Now what?"
Rachel's lips tightened. "That was my friend Amanda on the phone, she's pretty upset, she needs to talk to me, wants me to come over to her place. Since you're not feeling well anyway, would you mind wrapping this up for today? I could take you home and then head over to her."
"Damn it Rachel, I've already told you I'm not going home until I've finished running these tests. I've got a minimum of two hours of work left here tonight. Who the hell is this Amanda and what's so important that I have to stop work?" Jacob's already flushed face darkened in anger, he was oblivious to the distress in Rachel's face.
Felix made a moue of protest. "Doc?"
"You know perfectly well who Amanda is," Rachel snapped her voice rising in annoyance. "I was her bridesmaid, she got married in March, right before ..." Rachel stopped short, flushing. She couldn't believe that she almost said "before we did" in the middle of the Hoover Building.
Jacob's lips twitched involuntarily, yes, he did remember Amanda, the one with the dress. "Fine, I do remember her, but why do I need to stop working because she's upset?"
"Because," Rachel explained patiently, "she's had a bad shock, she needs to talk to me, ask my advice. I need to take you home, get you securely settled, before I can go over to her place."
"You can't talk on the phone?" Jacob raised his eyebrows.
Rachel closed her eyes and not so silently counted to ten. "No, this isn't the kind of thing we can talk about on the phone."
"Why not?" Jacob stubbornly crossed his arms across his chest.
Felix made another sound of protest, "Uh, ma'am?"
"It's," Rachel bit her lip and looked up at Jacob, her eyes shiny. She stared at him silently for a few minutes. "Her husband, Greg, is out of town, he's supposed to be gone for two weeks," Rachel blurted out finally. "Amanda was opening the mail. Opened up his AmEx bill. There were charges on it for an escort service. She did some checking and it seems he's been hiring a hooker every week, it's been going on for over a year."
Jacob stared at Rachel, an abstracted expression on his face. "That's, that's hard to believe."
Rachel took a deep breath, but before she could speak Jacob continued his thought. "I mean, you can pay for something like that with a credit card? Huh, I would have thought that was the kind of transaction that would be cash only."
Ignoring Rachel's gasp, Felix hurried into speech. Hoping devoutly that this would remind the two of his presence in the room. Unfortunately, his contribution to the conversation heaped fuel on the fire.
"Oh yeah, Doc, if he's dealing with an escort service or a high class call girl, then yeah, they prefer plastic. You only need to go the cash route if you're picking up a hooker in a bar or on the street."
"You pigs!" Rachel exploded. "I can't believe the two of you! You," she glared at Jacob, "I tell you that a newly married man is regularly hiring a prostitute and you only express surprise at the method of payment. And you," her glare turned to Felix. "You seem to be pretty familiar with the payment options preferred by whores. Personal experience?"
"Agent Young," Felix protested. "No, I'd never do anything..." he trailed off uncertainly in the face of Rachel's anger.
"Still," Jacob interrupted, "Sorry as I am that your friend married a bastard, why does that mean I have to leave important work undone?"
Rachel's lips thinned. "Believe it or not, not everything is about you, Dr. Jacob Hood. Just once, just once, mind you, do you think it could be about me? I realize that it's my job to follow you around. I have never, in all of the time I've been assigned to your detail, never asked you to modify your actions as a favor; to show some, any, consideration for me. Not once! I can't believe you're being such a jerk about this. It's late. You haven't discovered one freaking thing. You don't feel well, you've been bitching about that ever since lunch, so you'd think..."
"I have not been bitching," Jacob cut in coldly. "I have been trying to work even though you have been nagging me all afternoon."
Felix moaned again, "Guys!"
Jacob suddenly slumped in his seat, eyes closed. "Get out, now. Before we really start saying things we'll regret."
"You know damn well I can't do that," Rachel ground out. "As long as you're here, I'm here."
"Not tonight," Jacob said flatly. "I want you out of my lab, you're interfering with my work. Felix can make sure I get home safely. No," he stopped her protest. "I'm serious, I will take full responsibility with Frank if anyone finds out. So just go, now."
Rachel stared at him. "Fine," she said abruptly. Turning on her heel she stormed out of the lab.
Felix looked at Jacob open-mouthed. "Uh, Doc?"
"Don't start with me Felix," Jacob said wearily. "I feel like crap, I need to get these tests run. If Rachel had stayed, we'd only end up, I don't know," he shrugged. "It's best she left." He glanced at the big man ruefully. "And I am sorry you had to be in the middle of that." Smiled gently. "Maybe she'll be more help with her friend Amanda than here."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It was close to 9:00 p.m. and Felix was beyond bored. The Doc had spent the last three hours testing the bacteria, the water, and the mud from the lake over and over. He would occasionally wince and grunt as if in pain; but would only glare if asked if he was ok. Felix was rapidly beginning to have a great deal of sympathy for Agent Young. Dealing with an obviously sick and grumpy scientist was no walk in the park.
"Hey Doc, how about I order us a pizza?" Felix asked. He rewarded with a glare that dissolved into a wince.
"I'm sorry Felix," Jacob rubbed his face. "This has been a wasted evening. Not a single test has yielded any significant results. I hate to admit it, but Rachel was right, I might as well have gone home when she wanted me too." He looked at Felix and smiled crookedly, "and if you tell her I said that I'll deny it. Let's get out of here."
Jacob and Felix's heads both turned as the door to the lab opened. Jacob closed his eyes and shook his head. 'Crap' he thought, 'Just what I needed, to have Frank show up.' Felix grimaced, just their luck, to have the Director show up. Frank and his bodyguard, Ian Kendrick, walked into the lab.
"Jacob, I thought I saw your lights on. What the hell are you still doing here? Still working on that problem for the NIH?" Frank looked around curiously, "Where's Young? Why isn't she here?"
Jacob briefly considered telling Frank that Rachel was in the bathroom, but quickly discarded the notion. With the way his luck was running tonight Frank would stay around waiting for her to reappear. He decided on the truth.
"She's not here. I threw her out a couple of hours ago."
Frank's mouth dropped open. "You what?"
Jacob put his hands to his face, ran them into his hair. "You heard me. Look, I feel like crap, my work has been one dead end after another, and she kept bitching at me to go home. So I told her to get the hell out of here."
"And she just left?" Frank said through gritted teeth. Kendrick and Felix exchanged glances, Young was in for it now.
"Only after I threw her out."
"God damn it Jacob, you can't do that! And what the hell was Young thinking? She knows full well that she's going to be charged with dereliction of duty for this."
"For Christ's sake Frank, what is the problem?" Jacob exploded "I'm working in the freaking Hoover Building. I hardly think I need a bodyguard here. And while Felix may not be a member of the exalted EPD, he's a fully trained, armed federal agent. I'm sure that he's more than capable of seeing me home safely, considering that I live less than ten miles from this building."
Frank raised his eyebrows. "Jacob that may well be the case, but still..."
Jacob took a deep breath. "Look, I'm sorry, but I was starting to snap at her too and really, it's probably better for our long-term working relationship that she left tonight before..."
Jacob broke off to moan in pain. Holding on to the bench beside him, he clutched his right side. The others looked on in astonishment, questioning, as Jacob suddenly bent and vomited into the trash can.
"Damn, I think we'd better get me to a hospital, I'm pretty sure I have appendicitis." Breathing heavily Jacob leaned on the bench.
"Uh, sir, should I call 911?" Kendrick asked nervously.
"No," snapped Frank, "They're already bringing my car around, we can get him to the hospital quicker than an ambulance. Lee, help me support his weight, Kendrick, you go ahead and make sure the car is ready and waiting for us." He turned toward his old friend. "Come on Jacob, let's get you out of here."
As Frank and Felix half led, half carried Jacob to the elevator, Jacob turned a worried face to Felix. "Felix," he mumbled, "Rachel."
"Don't worry, Doc, I'll call her." Felix reassured him.
Freely swearing, Frank and a scared Felix manhandled Jacob into the elevator, across the lobby, and into the Director's car. Within minutes, they were at the emergency room of George Washington University Hospital.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Frank briskly took charge as they entered the ER. Sliding Jacob's wallet from his back pocket, he tossed it to Kendrick. "See if he has his medical insurance card is in there, and handle the registration. Lee, you stay with Jacob, I'll get us some help." Flashing his credentials, he soon returned with a nurse and a wheelchair.
"Come on Jacob," urged Frank. "We need to get you into this wheelchair." Between himself, Felix and the nurse, Jacob was soon being wheeled into the treatment area, with Frank striding along beside him, a worried Felix trailing behind.
The nurse stopped at the door, though, and placed a restraining hand on Frank's arm. "I'm sorry sir, but only immediate family are allowed in the treatment area. I'll have to ask you gentlemen to go back to the waiting room."
"Look, I'm the director of the FBI and this is…"
"I'm sorry sir," the nurse was firm. "But hospital and federal regulations strictly forbid anyone but immediate family members being in the treatment area. Now, if Mr." she quickly checked the paperwork in her hand, "Hood's wife or other family member arrives, I'll be glad to escort them to the treatment area, otherwise, I need you to let us do our jobs."
Frank began to argue, but he was cut short by Jacob. His face ashen with pain, Jacob looked up at his friend. "Frank, for God's sake, just call Rachel, let her take care of things. Felix?"
"Right here Doc."
"You know what to do, say."
Frank grunted in annoyance, but he allowed the nurse to take Jacob away without further argument. He turned quickly and strode over to where his bodyguard was dealing with the admission clerk. Kendrick was shaking his head uncertainly, he looked relieved when the Director and Felix approached the counter.
"Ah, sir," he began hesitantly, "they need to know the name of Doctor Hood's wife, or next of kin...?
" Jacob's wife is…" Frank began.
"Not here," Felix cut in quickly. He raised his eyebrows at the Director silently begging him to cooperate and gently elbowed him out of the way. He turned to the clerk. "But I've called Rachel, and she's on her way, she'll be her shortly."
The clerk looked up at Felix, "That's R-a-c-h-e-l?"
Felix smiled at the women, glancing at her name tag. "That's exactly right Keisha. I'll let you know the minute Rachel gets here, I know she'll want to see the Doc right away"
"You do that..." she looked at Felix with a smile.
"You do that Felix, I'll make sure she get escorted back to the treatment area."
"Thanks." He lightly tugged the Director toward the waiting area, calling out to the clerk, "I'll, uh, let you know the minute she gets here."
Before the Director could question him, Felix held up his hand, with a pleading expression on his face. "Uh, sir, could I have a second." Pulling out his cell, he quickly punched in Agent Young's number. "Agent Young, hi, uh,…look the Doc's sick….yeah, you were….it's serious….we're in the ER at GW hospital….Doc thinks it's appendicitis…but there's a problem…..no, no, nothing like that...uh, the Director's here too….yeah…..ok, I'll see you soon."
Felix turned to find the Director glaring at him. Kendrick was looking stunned. Felix smiled weakly. "Now, I'm sure you're wondering sir…."
"They're married?" Frank cut him off sharply. "When in the hell did that happen? And how long have you known about it?"
"Did I say anyone was married?" Felix widened his eyes. "No, sir, I merely said that the Doc's wife wasn't here. I then said that I'd called Rachel and that she was on her way." He smirked at the Director. "Now if the clerk chooses to connect those two facts..."
"That's bullshit!" Frank snapped. "What..." But before he could say more, they were interrupted by a doctor in surgical scrubs.
"Jacob Hood, who's here with Jacob Hood?"
Frank immediately lost interest in Felix. "Here," he said sharply. "We brought Dr. Hood in."
The doctor surveyed the men dismissively. "Are any of you next of kin? Or have Hood's medical power of attorney?"
Frank drew his eyebrows together. Felix gulped and said "Uh, no, but Rachel's coming, she's uh, on her way here."
"Hmm," the doctor frowned. "Well, let us know the minute she gets here. We've started treating Hood. I'd prefer to have her present when I go over the details with him."
He turned to go, but Frank put a restraining hand on his arm. "Wait a second, what do you mean you're treating him? What's the matter with Jacob?" The doctor looked pointedly at the hand on his arm, Frank dropped it quickly.
"I'm sorry, but unless you're his spouse or hold his medical power of attorney, I can't discuss my patient's condition with you." The doctor vanished through the double doors.
Felix looked at the Director and shrugged. "Sir, we need to wait for Agent Young. With all due respect, you being the Director of the FBI, even being an old friend of Doc's, won't count for jack with these people."
"For god's sake you can't..." Frank began hotly.
"Look, they'll ask for paperwork if you claim you have a medical power of attorney. But if they think you're a spouse..." Felix shrugged again. "It's what we do, whenever any of us ends up needing medical attention. We'll get all the info we need once Agent Young gets here."
Frank opened his mouth, but on second thought he snapped it shut. He narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Lee. 'So does Young pretend to be your spouse?' he thought. 'Or only Jacob's?'
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Twenty minutes later Rachel came tearing into the ER. She paused inside the waiting area, looking frantically around for Felix. He took one look at her white face and huge eyes and was grateful the Director and Kendrick had gone up to the cafeteria. There was no way they should be seeing her until she got herself under control. He stood immediately and waved to get her attention. "Agent Young, over here."
Rachel hurried over to him, "Felix, where is he? Is he ok?" Her eyes were brimming with tears.
Felix pulled her into a quick hug, scrubbed his hand up and down her back. "It's, he's ok. They have him back in the treatment area. It must not be too bad, they haven't said anything about it being an emergency."
Rachel hastily wiped her eyes. "You're sure Jacob's gonna be ok? Did they say it was appendicitis? Where's the Director?"
"Nah, you know how hospitals are. It was the Doc who said it was appendicitis." Felix shook his head. "I guess he'd know. The Director's upstairs with Kendrick. I suggested they get some coffee; that we might have to wait awhile." He put an arm around her shoulder. "I'm supposed to let the staff know when you're here. They'll take you right in to see the Doc."
Rachel stood quietly for a few minutes leaning into Felix. She had been so angry with Jacob that she almost didn't pick up when Felix called. Luckily, her training had prevailed. She shuddered, remembering the last, heated words she and Jacob had exchanged. She took a few deep breaths. Pulling away from Felix, she wiped her face again. "Ok, but first, tell me what happened after I left."
Felix pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Not much. Doc kept running tests on all those samples, but nothing was making much sense to him. To be honest, he had decided to pack it in for the night when the Director showed up." He sighed at Rachel's frown. "Yeah, that's pretty much how we felt about it too. The Director started jumping all over Doc about you being gone." He swallowed, "and, uh, the Director started throwing around 'dereliction of duty.'"
"What did Jacob tell him?" Rachel interrupted
For the first time in several hours, Felix grinned. "Doc lost his temper. Told the Director that he threw you out of the lab. Started yelling about how you were interfering with his work so he kicked you out; didn't give you a chance to stay. Said he didn't need you hanging around giving him a hard time. Then he kind of collapsed. Threw up and told us to get him to the hospital 'cause he had appendicitis."
Rachel smiled weakly. "Sounds just like him. He's sick as a dog and he's still trying to protect me." She took a deep breath. "And what's happened here, what have you told the hospital, the Director, about me?"
"I haven't lied," Felix said. "I did like you and the Doc. Mislead people by telling the exact truth. I said that the Doc's wife wasn't here, which you weren't; then I said that I had called "Rachel" and that you were on your way." He shrugged. "They made the connections, not me. I told the Director that's what we do, to get around the medical staff."
Rachel considered the matter carefully. "Thanks for thinking of that Felix. We can work with this; with luck we can brush through this without having to tell the Director about us." One side of her mouth kicked up. "Especially since we can point to that stunt Jacob pulled in Sacramento."
Giving Felix a hug of her own, Rachel smoothed down her jacket. "Ok, let me go see Jacob now."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Frank re-entered the ER and sent a glare in the direction of Agent Lee. The man was propped up against the admissions counter flirting with the clerk. He frowned and snapped at the man, "Lee, has Young arrived yet?"
With a final smile and wink for Keisha, Felix straightened up and turned to the Director. One look at the man's face, clearly showing his annoyance, and Felix hurried into speech. "Ah, sir, why don't we sit over here?" Felix led the Director and Kendrick to some vacant chairs in a far corner. "Agent Young arrived right after you went for coffee. She's back with the Doc now. But according to Keisha, it looks like they're admitting him. Paperwork's been started to transfer him upstairs. She couldn't tell me much, but she did say that the doctor we saw; that's Dr. Wiley. He's on the surgical staff, she figured they must have called him down for a consult."
Felix looked over the Director's head and sighed with relief. Agent Young was heading toward them. He noted with approval that she looked calm and all traces of the tears that threatened to overwhelm her earlier had disappeared. Felix attempted to stand, but Rachel put her hand on his shoulder.
She smiled down at the men reassuringly. "It is appendicitis. He's been given something for the pain plus they've started antibiotics and fluids to counteract the nausea. He'll be moved upstairs soon. The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow at 8:00 a.m."
Frank frowned. "Appendicitis? Why are they waiting to operate? Aren't they afraid that it'll burst?"
Rachel shook her head. "According to the surgeon, they're not worried too much about that. Right now, they're more concerned about controlling the nausea. They want him stable before they operate. That's all the news for right now." She looked at the Director. "I'll call you if Hood's status changes overnight; otherwise, you can expect to hear from me after the surgery."
"You're staying?" Frank looked at her with narrowed eyes.
Rachel flushed. "Yes, sir. I realize, earlier, that I shouldn't have left Hood at the lab. But he, ah, I..." her voice trailed off.
"Yeah, Jacob kind of explained it to me." Frank looked at her sharply. "Under the circumstances, I'm willing to let it go, this time, but Young..."
Rachel swallowed audibly, "Yes sir?"
Frank got stiffly to his feet. "Don't let it happen again. Kendrick, let's get out of here." He turned as he reached the door. "And Young? I'll see you here in the morning."
Rachel sagged as the door closed behind them. "Thank god he's gone." She straightened. "I guess it could have been worse though. I was expecting him to grill me about being Jacob's wife"
Felix pursed his lips. "Well, I did tell him we've done this before. When he saw how the hospital wasn't gonna give us any information I think he bought my explanation. But," he added warningly, "he wasn't too happy, so I expect he'll ask you about it tomorrow." He shook his head. "And I gotta tell you ma'am, he, well, his reaction was a little, I don't know, off?" He shook his head again at Rachel's look of inquiry. "I don't know how to explain it, exactly. I mean, he was more surprised than shocked. As if he was half-expecting it."
Rachel nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah, Jacob said he thought the Director was getting suspicious." She shrugged. "Oh, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it." She gave him a quick hug. "Look why don't you go home and get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Shortly afterward, Jacob was moved from the ER to a room. Smiling down at him Rachel brushed the hair back from his face, laid her hand against his cheek. The touch of her hand on his face roused him.
"Hey," he murmured sleepily. "Don't leave me again." Jacob reached for Rachel's hand, but the painkiller had left him disoriented and he had trouble connecting. "Sorry about before," he mumbled. "Didn't mean to be such a jerk."
Rachel bent and brushed a kiss across Jacob's forehead. "It's ok, baby. I'm not going anywhere," she whispered. She unclipped the holster from her waistband and laid it and her weapon on the bedside table. She slid into the bed beside him. Moving slowly and carefully, she put her arms around him, resting his head on her shoulder; making sure that she didn't disturb the IV line attached to his hand or the wires attached to his chest.