A/N: My entry in the on-going missing scenes challenge from over at the Rooftop. Anyother picked the ending of Cardiac, which does open up quite a few possibilities.
Disclaimer: Done for fun, not for profit. It's called fair use anyway.
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"Maybe I just never got caught." Jacob said with a slight smirk.
Rachel smiled derisively as she put the car in gear and pulled away from the elementary school. "For some reason Hood, I seriously doubt that."
Jacob twisted in his seat to face her, one brow raised quizzically. "What do you doubt Rachel? That I ever did anything bad or that I never got caught?"
Rachel looked over and was about to toss off a sarcastic retort, but it died on her lips for two reasons. The first was the look on Hood's face. They had only been working together for a few months but she had already realized he was incredibly expressive. She had learned early on that the look on his face was a good indication of what was going on in his head.
The look on his face right now was the one that meant his curiosity had been aroused. And her experience had been that once Hood was curious about something, he didn't rest until his questions had been answered. It made Rachel feel slightly uncomfortable to know that she had aroused that curiosity. That her opinion of him was the question Hood wanted answered.
The other thing that stopped her was the memory of Lizzie Summers' words when Hood had introduced himself. ''The Jacob Hood?' Shit, I didn't know Hood had been nominated for a Nobel Prize. That's a big deal.' She shifted a little in her seat as she realized that she really didn't know her charge that well.
She had, of course, been given his file when she had been assigned to his detail. But she had been so pissed off at being transferred from Counter-terrorism to a babysitting job with the EPD that she hadn't bothered to give it more than a cursory once over.
'Damn, first I miss the fact that he nursed his dying wife and now that he was a Nobel candidate. Jesus, I wonder what else is in there?'
"Well?" Hood's voice, amused now, broke into her thoughts.
Rachel shot him a glare, "I'm thinking, ok?"
Both of Jacob's eyebrows went up this time. 'She's taking this seriously.' Her taking him and his question seriously was an indication that she was different than his previous handlers.
He had always suspected that the others didn't have much respect for his work. They couldn't understand it, so they dismissed it of no importance. It was if they didn't quite believe that this "science stuff" was a threat to anyone. It was obvious they believed the attempt on his life had been a mistake. That the bomb was meant for someone else; that the death threats weren't credible. They were content to shepherd him around and to try to curtail his actions to make their job of protecting him easier.
Jacob smiled smugly to himself. 'Tried being the operative word.' For as little as they respected and understood his work, that was nothing compared to their attitude toward him. Those well-trained, athletic, very macho agents had been condescending. They considered him some kind of idiot savant, perfectly capable to deal with the science, but totally incapable of dealing with the world around him. They underestimated him, so they tried to hem him in, to dictate the way he would pursue his investigations.
He had resented that attitude. While he was willing to admit that he did have a tendency to get distracted when caught up in his work, he was perfectly able to take care of himself. Using his intelligence and his, admittedly, bizarre sense of humor, he had retaliated. He pushed back against their rules, sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly. He always managed to get his own way. When they protested he would look at them with wide eyes and pretend to not understand their concerns. Eventually they would request a transfer, afraid of being blamed if a high priority asset was lost.
From the beginning, he had realized that Rachel was different. Not just because of her gender. 'Hell, my second, no, third handler was a woman.' What was different was that she was willing to trust him. To trust that he did know what he was doing. Unlike the others, she only pulled the reins in when there was a clear, immediate danger or if she thought he was acting recklessly. 'She barely raised an eyebrow when I decided to check out that ventilation shaft.'
And now, here she was, giving careful consideration to the question of what kind of trouble, if any, he had gotten into as a child.
Rachel chewed her lip thoughtfully. One of her maxims was that people didn't change; they are what they are. She figured that Hood the child was much like Hood the adult. So the question really was, what kind of person was Hood? She snuck a glance at him and was irritated to see that he was looking at her in amusement. She felt as if this was some kind of test. A test she wasn't about to fail. 'Damnit, I really should have read that file.'
'Use your training here Rachel. You've practically been attached to his hip for the last few months. What have you observed?' Ok, for starters the man was smart; he was probably the smartest person she had ever met. But he wasn't arrogant about it, didn't treat everyone else as if they were morons.
To the contrary, he always took the time to answer her questions, to explain things to her, to make sure she understood what was going on and why. And he did it in a manner that didn't make her feel stupid afterward for not understanding in the first place. He was patient, a good teacher. As much as she hated to admit it, she was even beginning to enjoy his stories.
What next? He was very precise in his use of language; she figured it was a scientist thing. If he said he nursed his wife it was a good bet he did exactly that. So give him high marks for compassion. Rachel had a flashback to the Harker boy's bedroom. The way Hood had carefully shown Mrs. Harker how to view her son's video journal. The look on his face when she broke down at seeing her dead son, alive on the screen. Yeah, compassionate would be a good word for Hood.
The life they lived also said a lot about him. It wasn't easy; it was almost impossible to live a normal life. They could be called out at a moment's notice with no idea of how long they would be in the field. It was hard on friendships, almost impossible to maintain a relationship. Not many civilians were willing to make the sacrifice. 'He gave up a cushy teaching job to take this gig. He must be committed to doing the right thing, doing what he can to help others.'
Rachel's eyes narrowed. He definitely had problems with authority. Her authority in particular. The memories of more than one argument came flooding back. She tilted her head a bit considering; recalling the substance of those arguments.
They only argued when Hood wanted to pursue a course of action she considered either too high risk or strategically unwise. Or when he deliberately put himself in a dangerous position. She snorted as she remembered him stepping in front of a fleeing car; a car she had been shooting at. She shook her head. He had been so proud of himself; he had gotten the license plate number.
On reflection it wasn't so much a problem with authority as impatience with red tape, with protocol. He had a passionate desire to get on with the job. He would do anything; pursue any lead, to get the results he needed to solve the problem, to prevent more deaths, more suffering. He truly cared about the people they ran across in the course of their investigations. On the whole, Rachel decided, that wasn't a bad thing. So add passionate to the list.
And stubborn. Stubborn should definitely be on the list. While she could sympathize to some extent with his desire to get the job done, he had no subtly, no tact. He wanted answers and he wanted them now. Rachel was sure that she could have gotten something out of Sam Tewsbury. But Hood had insulted the guy right off the bat and gotten them thrown out of his house. .
"Well?" Jacob was curious. Rachel had been thinking for some time and he was wondering what her conclusions were.
Rachel considered her words carefully. "I doubt that you ever did anything bad."
Jacob was vaguely disappointed. He had expected better of her. All that time and thought and she was underestimating him just as the others had. Saw him as this prissy academic, not as a man, not as a person with complicated emotions.
She surprised him by continuing.
"You're too smart. In my experience, smart kids don't do bad things. They can see the consequences, know better than to put their future at risk." She shot him a quick glance. "Not unless they're nutcases like that little bastard Stephen or full of themselves. You may be a pain in the ass, but you're not crazy or arrogant."
Jacob smiled at the back-handed compliment.
"Not that you were any angel." She snorted, remembering some of the tales told by her predecessors. "I'm sure you did the normal teenage boy stuff, breaking curfew, messing around, sneaking a beer or two, but nothing outrageous."
She continued thoughtfully. "No, the trouble you got into would have been because you were taking a stand about something, convinced you were in the right. Or else you got on the wrong side of a teacher who couldn't believe that one of her students was smarter than she was. You would have gotten into trouble very publicly. So there wasn't ever a question of you not getting caught."
Jacob's mouth dropped open slightly and his eyes widened in shock. 'How in the world could she know that?' As a former academic Jacob knew, better than most, that there was no such thing as a permanent record card. Unless your peccadilloes had come to the attention of the police, disciplinary problems pretty much disappeared after you left school. Plus, he had seen to it that his FBI personnel file contained only the bare minimum; his personal life was none of their damned business.
But somehow Rachel was uncannily accurate. That detention in fifth grade his English teacher had given him for arguing with her in class. She had refused to believe that he had read and understood Shakespeare. The suspensions in high school; first for leading his biology class in a walk-out to protest the use of fetal pigs in dissection and then for running the underground newspaper. How he almost got kicked out of Princeton for organizing a protest over the CIA being allowed to recruit on campus. Yes, everyone in school seemed to know when Jacob Hood got in trouble.
Rachel smirked at the look on Hood's face. "Nailed it, didn't I?'
He smiled slowly. "I won't say yes, but I won't say no. How did you come to your conclusions?"
"I'm a trained federal agent Hood. That's my job, to observe and draw conclusions from what I see."
"You came up with all that just from observing me these past few months?" Jacob was slightly disbelieving. 'Shit, until recently you barely talked to me.'
"Yep," she replied simply. She turned her attention back to the road.
Jacob eyed Rachel thoughtfully. He was rapidly revising his assumptions about her. He knew she was smart, hell they were all smart. Stupid people couldn't survive the rigorous training agents underwent. No, Rachel had more than that.
She was observant. She may have been quietly shadowing him the past few months, but she was obviously using her eyes and her brain at all times. She had the ability to read people, situations and come up with a correct conclusion. She was a shrewd judge of character.
Even better, she was curious. Curious about his work, about the science. She asked questions and listened carefully to his explanations. She was beginning to offer suggestions, to actively participate in his investigations. He had been surprised and pleased when she had attempted to question Tewsbury.
He leaned back and closed his eyes with a small grunt of satisfaction. 'Definitely, this one's a keeper.'
Rachel flicked her eyes over at Hood. He hadn't admitted it, but she had nailed it, him. 'Still, I think I'll pull his file as soon as we get home. Just in case there are any more surprises in there.'
They were both silent for the rest of the drive to the airport. Each of them lost in their thoughts. Each of them wondering how much more there was to learn about the other.