For GabbynSteve4eva, ironically one of my biggest fans, who's always starving for fresh material. Enjoy!
"What's this I hear about pole dancing?" Jack Quade asked with a grin to his friend, colleague and housemate Gabrielle Jaeger at the end of the day.
She glowered at him. She liked Bree Matthews, but definitely not her idea of a hen's night – a pole-dancing class followed by a lot of drinking and God knew what else. And naturally, when the instructor falling had resulted in them ending up in the ED on their day off, it wasn't long before word got out that the three of them had been at a pole dancing class. Like anyone was going to believe that she hadn't actually done any dancing – although Bree had seemed keen to join in. "Shut it," she said. "I didn't do anything."
"Because you didn't have the opportunity," Jack suggested with a twinkle in his eye.
"No... because – flaunting myself – in front of a group of strangers is not my idea of a good time," she said.
"Ah. Lucky Steve then," Jack said, referring to Gabrielle's ex-boyfriend and another colleague of theirs, Steve Taylor.
Gabrielle found herself blushing. "It wasn't exactly my idea of a good time," she said, referring to both the pole dancing class and the idea of doing anything like that, even in a relationship.
Jack laughed. "You are such a country girl," he said.
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked indignantly.
"It means you can be charmingly old-fashioned sometimes," he said with a cheeky grin that he was becoming familiar with. She had always thought of him as someone who took himself a little too seriously, but in the weeks they had been living together, she had discovered he had quite a sense of humour and wasn't as stuck-up as she had thought he was.
"I am not old-fashioned!" she said indignantly. "Just because I didn't spend the last of my adolescence running around Canberra with no parental supervision doesn't make me old-fashioned – it just means I never gave DOCS cause to worry."
"I was too smart to give DOCS cause to worry," Jack said, a touch of pride in his voice. "Hey, you want to go to Cougars?"
Gabrielle made a face. "I'm avoiding Bree at the moment," she said.
"You really don't want to go out with her?" he asked. "I thought you liked her."
"I do," Gabrielle said. "It's just – I'm not big on going on a massive bender like what I'm sure she has planned."
"You want to order in a pizza and have a few drinks at home?" Jack suggested. "Tell her I had a lousy day and could do with some downtime."
She smiled gratefully. "I'd like that," she said.
So they ordered in pizza and settled down on the couch. "Jack?" she asked after a few drinks.
"Am I really a prude?"
"I didn't say you were a prude, Gabs, I said you were charmingly old-fashioned. It's not an insult. I've never met someone like you before – at least, not that I took the time to know properly."
"But Steve – "
Jack knew where she was going with this; Steve had cheated on her, and maybe if she had been less of an 'old-fashioned country girl', he might not have."Steve was an idiot if he didn't recognise what he had in you," he declared. "Being a pole dancer wasn't going to change that. I bet he cheated on the girl he cheated on you with," he said.
"You don't know that," she said.
"I grew up with a man like him," he reminded her gently. Sometimes he thought that was why he and Gabrielle got along so well; she understood what it was like living with someone who was an alcoholic woman who thought of nothing and no-one but themselves. "Trust me, he did. And even if he didn't, he was a git who didn't deserve you."
"Thanks," she mumbled, not really believing it.
Impulsively he cupped her chin and rotated her face so she was looking at him. "Hey," he said gently. "I totally mean it." And because he'd had a few drinks and she looked totally adorable looking at him like that and things had been bubbling away between them for a while, he kissed her.
He'd thought about kissing her before, of course – you couldn't share your life with someone the way he shared his life with Gabrielle, couldn't have the kind of camaraderie he and Gabrielle shared without the occasional thought about kissing them – but his thoughts – ok, fantasies – had nothing on the reality. Even with the taste of beer on her breath, she tasted sweet and soft and like nothing he could remember. Certainly, kissing Rachel or Mercedes or any of the random women he'd been with in the past year had nothing on her – nothing on this. He flicked his tongue into her mouth, gentle probing, encouraging her to kiss her back, knowing instinctively that she wasn't very good at this because, after all, Steve Taylor was hardly the kind of man who knew what he was doing with women. Certainly not a woman as sweet and old-fashioned as Gabrielle was.
He felt her whimper under his touch, and reality came back sharply into focus and he realised what he was doing – kissing his housemate, a woman that he worked with. Hadn't he promised himself he wouldn't get involved with a colleague again? Hell, wasn't Gabrielle practically still on the rebound? OK, so technically she had broken up with Steve, but he hadn't given her much choice. He pulled away, wiping his mouth guiltily. "Shit, I'm sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have done that. Frank will kill me."
She remembered him saying how his boss, Frank Campion, had made it a condition of his return to the ED that he not sleep with anymore of his staff after Rachel Simms had quit after he had seduced her and then had nothing to do with her the next day. Ruefully, Gabrielle remembered that she herself had made Frank make it a condition of Jack's return – after all, she had suffered more than Frank from Rachel's quitting. The irony that she and Jack had since become very close and she wanted him to kiss her again made her stifle the urge to giggle."Actually," she admitted guiltily. "It was actually me who insisted that you don't get involved with anyone."
He stared at her. "Y-you?" he asked incredulously. He should have known. Gabrielle was perfectly capable of holding her own against Frank when need be, and in all fairness, his treatment of Rachel and Rachel's subsequent quitting had affected Gabrielle more than it had affected Frank. He pulled away from her and slumped against the couch. "Now I feel really stupid." He chewed nervously on his bottom lip. "I should – uh – go to my room," he said awkwardly, getting up to do just that.
She reached for his hand. "Wait," she said. "I – uh – I didn't know you when I made that request," she said.
"You knew me well enough," he admitted ruefully. "I wasn't in a very good frame of mind at the time."
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked tentatively.
He shook his head. "I'm sorry, I'm not trying to weasel out of being honest with you. I want to be, it's just – painful at times. But if it means anything to you, I'm not Steve. I don't play around – I've never cheated in my life – except, not unless you count Charlotte, and me and Terri had broken up at the time." Gabrielle smiled indulgently. She had noticed that when he got nervous he regressed back to the grammar of his working class childhood, using phrases like 'me and Terri' instead of 'Terri and I'. "And I'm a good boyfriend. I like making my girl feel special and I won't neglect you of talk down to you or – " He was aware that he was rambling now, but he couldn't help it.
"Jack, calm down. I trust you, OK. And I don't care if you can't talk to me about – last year – yet – so long as you're open to talking about it sometime in the future. Now, do you think you can stop rambling and kiss me again?"
"OK," he said, and sat back down on the couch, drew her into his arms and kissed her more passionately then he had a few minutes ago. "I can't believe I've never thought to do this before," he said huskily after a few minutes, burying his head in her shoulder because he felt his face going red and for some absurd reason didn't want her to know how much she was affecting him.
She smiled indulgently, knowing that he had his head buried in her shoulder because he was too embarrassed to admit how much she was affecting him. It was amazing how well she knew him, given she didn't know men in general very well. "What, you've never thought about kissing me before?" she asked, because she knew that you couldn't share your life with someone the way she shared her life with Jack and have the kind of camaraderie that they did without having the occasion thoughts about them. Not that she would have admitted to that before today.
"Of course I have," came his muffled voice. "I just figured you'd slap me if I tried."
She chuckled at that. "Just don't expect any pole dancing anytime soon," she said.