*AN *I have just been watching my Profiler dvd's – it was a great show. I remembered that I had written this story ages ago, and never posted it, so on the off chance that there is still someone interested in Profiler stories, I will put it up. It's a light hearted stand alone story about John and Rachel (of course).

The Family Wedding

Rachel turned the envelope over and over in her hands, staring at it with dread. The small white square of paper taunted her; she knew its contents and was almost apprehensive about reading them.

It was ridiculous, she told herself. She was a grown woman, a successful woman, and on her way to becoming a wealthy woman, with a very high profile job, work satisfaction and a wonderful medical scheme. With an inward laugh at herself, she tossed the envelope, unopened, across her desk, and turned back to her computer, trying to lose herself in the information, scrolling across her screen.

But it was there, just in the very corner of her eye, sitting there, mocking her and her pretense that all was well. She gritted her teeth, and began reading, but the different methods of religious sacrifice were not holding her attention as they should, particularly considering the grisly murders she was trying to help solve.

"Black dog?" asked Grace, and Rachel jumped a mile in the air.

"Grace, I didn't hear you come in," she said, putting one hand over her chest. "No, I'm just a little preoccupied."

"Found a connection?" asked Grace, sinking into the leather couch, and closing her eyes briefly.

"A connection?" she asked, and Grace opened one eye to look at her.

"Oh, you mean, a connection with the case? No, though there are some similarities with this one… but not close enough, I think…" her voice trailed off, and she glanced quickly at the envelope nervously.

"Well I just came to give you the results on the Levitsky autopsy. She was not raped, and I don't think the cases are related." And Grace handed over a disk. Rachel nodded absentmindedly and snuck another quick glance at the envelope.

"Thanks," she said, closing down her screen. "Though I was hoping we could find some commonality. Now it looks like we have two murderers." She sighed and Grace frowned, leaning forward to stare at her.

"Something is wrong," she said, and Rachel smiled a little, and shook her head.

"It's nothing really," she picked up the envelope again, and turned it over in her fingers, "I am just being silly, I guess, feeling a little flat. There is nothing wrong."

"Come on, spill," said Grace, kicking Rachel's office door shut. "I'm not going till you tell me what has made you look so down."

"I'm not down," Rachel said defensively, "It's just that today I got this," and she waved the envelope at Grace, and sighed again. "I've been expecting it, I've known about it for ages, but today it came, and I …" her voice tailed off.

"What is it?" queried Grace sharply, "Are you sick, is it test results, what's going on Rachel?" and concern etched itself on her beautiful face.

"Much, much worse," said Rachel glumly. "It's a wedding invitation. My cousin is getting married, and she wants me to be one of her bridesmaids."

"Oh," said Grace, sitting back and relaxing. "And?"

"I come from a fairly small suburb, and I was the only girl in the family," began Rachel, her fingers playing with the envelope.

"This I know already," said Grace, smiling.

"Well I grew up with five brothers, and I was a tomboy. I played with my brothers, soldiers, cowboys, space invaders, and basketball – anything that was rough and physical. My mother despaired of ever getting me to wear a dress, or become interested in girl things. My Aunt, my Dad's sister, who lived close, had two girls, and they were very girly. My cousins loved dolls and tea parties, and then graduated to wearing makeup and being cheerleaders, and particularly boys! I went from being a tomboy, to being the school nerd, when I realized I was no longer accepted into the boys games and not interested in what the girls were doing, they had all formed their own friendship groups, and I was sort of left outside. My cousins were really good friends with the popular girls at school. Trust me, I wasn't." She gave a little self-conscious grin and Grace nodded sympathetically.

"They used to go out of their way to make me feel ugly, unwanted and unable to fit in anywhere." She sighed.

"This is the final triumph for my Aunt," she went on to say. "Marie is a couple of years younger than me, and achieving what my Aunt believes is the ultimate thing a woman can achieve, which in her middle class mind, is marriage. She married my older cousin off several years ago, and I barely made it though that time."

"The problem being?" queried Grace, prodding gently.

"Aunt Anne will be so proud, and she will be dragging my mother into the arrangements, crowing ever so nicely of course, about how beautiful her daughters are, how fulfilling their lives are, and sympathizing, in a patronizing way, with Mom over me. You know, poor Rachel, I know she has a very good job but still no man in her life, and so forth."

"Your mother doesn't get upset by all that sort of stuff, does she?" asked Grace and Rachel shook her head.

"No, not really, but deep down I know she wishes that I would meet someone special. And Aunt Anne wears her down. The last wedding wasn't so bad, because I could sit in the background, but this time they want to dress me up in yards and yards of pink satin and lacy frills, and stick me out the front! And of course, the other bridesmaids are all the girls who ignored or patronized me at school."

"Oh you poor thing," laughed Grace. "And how sad that these things still prick even when you are holding down one of the most difficult positions in the Agency and have been living away from home for the last 10 years or so."

"Yes, isn't it," Rachel agreed gloomily. "Of course, I'm going with my head held high, I'm going to let them know that I am completely happy with who I am, and proud of what I have achieved. It makes no difference to me that there is no man in my life – I don't need one, anyway."

"That's the right attitude," said Grace. "You go girl! That's the way to handle this sort of thing."

"Yes," agreed Rachel despondently. "I am a mature and high achieving woman, and I am not dependent on any man. Or on their collective approval!"

"You can do it," said Grace nodding her head.

Rachel sighed again and nodded. After a moment of quiet reflection, Grace leant forward over Rachel's desk, a glimmer of a smile on her face.

. "Mind you, there's another way to knock all those women sideways," she said.

"Oh yes, what's that?" asked Rachel, her eyes narrowing slightly.

"This will be a formal wedding?" asked Grace, the smile growing.

"Yes, yes, what are you getting at?" queried Rachel.

"Ask John to go with you as your partner," said Grace. "It would certainly shut up any of your critics."

"Oh I couldn't possibly ask John to go with me," said Rachel, shocked. "I just couldn't ask him to a family thing, I just couldn't."

"Why not, are you two still arguing? I thought all that had settled down. He would probably enjoy doing it for you. And trust me, it will silence all those people that will otherwise be looking at you and thinking 'poor Rachel'. Well, all the females, that is."

Rachel gave a self-deprecatory laugh. "I can't believe I'm still allowing how those girls treated me back then, to influence how I feel about my cousin's wedding," she said. "I am totally disgusted with myself for being so very childish."

Grace smiled at her in silent sympathy. "Well, watch the disc, see what you can gleam from the autopsy report. Bailey has called a conference for about 1.30 p.m. See you then." She stood up and opened the door, hesitating for a moment; then stepped back into Rachel's office, with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Ask John," she said, and headed off back towards her own office.

Rachel watched her walk out of the door, with a sour expression on her face, and then turned back to her computer.