A/N: Dedicated to my friend kygal, who thought it would be fun to have a story about Jacob and Rachelplaying softball. In terms of the series, this story would be set after Surge (since Rachel knows Hood likes baseball) but before Titans.

Disclaimer: Done for fun, not for profit

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Jacob Hood frowned slightly as he left the late afternoon meeting. He was irritated by how much time was wasted in these things by people insisting on re-stating the obvious. He pulled up short, his irritation replaced by curiosity, as he spied Rachel deep in conversation with another agent. His curiosity was aroused by the expression on her face. Rachel was a master at the art of concealing her emotions behind a mask of polite indifference. So it must mean something if whatever this man was discussing with her had her looking distinctly pissed off.

His eyebrows rose and he decided perhaps it was time for him to intervene when he saw Rachel angrily shrug off the hand the man had laid on her arm. 'Not,' he reminded himself, 'that she needs my help.' Rachel was a highly trained agent; she could handle herself in any situation. 'Still, I can give her an easy excuse to end the encounter.'

As he approached the pair, he could hear Rachel telling the man to quit badgering her, she couldn't do it. Her companion didn't seem to like this answer; he was telling her that he needed her desperately. Jacob wondered just what the relationship between the two was.

"Excuse me, Rachel? I'm ready to head home now."

Rachel looked up gratefully. "Uh, Hood, ok, let's go."

The man with her wasn't about to give up so easily. "Dr. Hood? Special Agent George Lambert, I'm glad to meet you. Young here has told me a lot about you."

Jacob warily took the hand Lambert held out. "Really?" He shot a look at Rachel. "Nothing bad I hope?"

Lambert laughed. "Oh, no. We were talking baseball; she told me you're a fan of the game. I was hoping you could help me out with Young here."

Rachel scowled. "Look, I already told you…"

Intrigued, Jacob cut her off. "I'm afraid that I don't have any influence over what Agent Young does in her own time."

Lambert glibly explained that he wasn't talking about Rachel's free time. It turned out he was the captain of the FBI co-ed softball team. Since most of the agents assigned to the Hoover Building traveled all over the country in the course of their work, it was sometimes difficult to field a team. Especially since the league rules insisted that four of the players on the field be women. Lambert was afraid he wouldn't be able to make his numbers and put a competitive team on the field if Rachel didn't show up. She was one of the best female players the team had. But she was refusing to play in the game scheduled for the following day because she had to work.

"I figured, since her job is acting as your bodyguard, she could just bring you along. I mean, there will be plenty of agents around to spell her while she's playing." He smiled at Jacob winningly. "Doesn't that sound like fun Dr. Hood? Hanging out on the Mall on a sunny afternoon, catching some rays, watching a game?"

"No, that would be completely unacceptable," Rachel began.

"I don't see why Rachel." Jacob's eyes were dancing with amusement. "I think it would be fun. I don't have anything else on my calendar for tomorrow."

Lambert beamed. "Terrific. You don't know how much this means to me." He frowned. "We're playing the Secret Service and I'd hate to have to forfeit. This game is a real grudge match."

With a final handshake for Hood, Lambert took his leave, whistling cheerfully. Jacob turned to find Rachel glaring at him.

"What?"

"You do realize that I am armed? And potentially I am the only thing standing between you and a knife in your back?"

"Oh come on Rachel," Jacob protested. "What are you complaining about? You've made it abundantly clear in the past how much you hate weekends when we're in DC; having to chauffeur me around, running errands. Well, now we can actually do something you enjoy instead."

Rachel chewed her lip looking at Hood thoughtfully. Wondering if there was any way to explain why she didn't want to play in the game without insulting him. Because the truth was she had been looking forward to this game. The majority of the teams in the league were made up of employees of various federal agencies. While it was fun to kick the butts of the bean-counters from Commerce or the lawyers from Justice, the truth was the game with the Secret Service was the highlight of the season. It didn't matter if they lost every other game; the season was a success if they won that one.

She just didn't want to play if Hood was there. Normally she only played on her free weekends. The team was part of her personal life, her real life away from him. Her father had drilled it into her that you didn't mix business with pleasure. He had warned her this was especially true for female agents; a promising career could easily be derailed by gossip. Having Hood at the game seemed perilous close to doing just that. Over the past few months their relationship had thawed quite a bit, she was beginning to admit to herself how much she enjoyed working with him. How much she enjoyed spending time with him. But still, he was her protectee. The bottom line was she wasn't sure she wanted Dr. Jacob Hood, Special Science Advisor for the FBI to have a place in her personal life. It could be dangerous.

She sighed inwardly. Realistically, she didn't have a choice. Hood had obviously decided he wanted to do this and once he had his mind set on a course of action he was capable of digging his heels in stubbornly and refusing to change his plans. She was stuck with the situation. Idly she hoped that he wouldn't embarrass her too badly.

"Fine," she snapped. "I'll pick you up tomorrow at one. And don't," she added waspishly, "blame me if you get sun-burned."

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It was on the stroke of one when Rachel rang the doorbell of Hood's apartment. She hoped he was ready since she had illegally parked her SUV in front of his building. She wasn't worried too much about getting a ticket; after all, she had federal plates. Still, she was relieved when Hood answered the door jacket in hand.

A quick smile flickered over his face at her appearance. She was wearing black yoga pants that ended at mid-calf, a grey FBI t-shirt, and black tennis shoes. Her hair, pulled back in her accustomed pony-tail, was pulled through the back of a black FBI ball cap. It appeared that the FBI penchant for the unofficial, understated uniform carried over to their softball team. But then, he admitted honestly to himself, he didn't have room to criticize. He was wearing his usual jeans, shirt, and jacket. His only concession to the occasion was his wearing sneakers rather than his customary shoes.

"Good afternoon Rachel," he said cheerfully. "We've got perfect weather for the game."

He was amused when Rachel merely snorted in response. He was also unsurprised when she refused to respond to any of his conversational overtures. He figured her resorting to monosyllables was her way of paying him back for insisting on their going to the softball game. Still, he hoped she would relent eventually; he didn't look forward to spending the entire afternoon with no one to talk to.

Rachel quickly scanned the crowd when they finally arrived at the Mall. She was outraged when a quick head count on her part showed five women, besides herself, in FBI t-shirts. Parking Hood on a bench surrounded by agents she went to confront Lambert.

"Damn it, Lambert," she growled. "You told me you needed me today, you've got plenty of women to play."

"No," Lambert answered patiently. "I said I needed you to make my numbers and field a competitive team. Counting you, I've got four women, the minimum."

He cut off Rachel's protests gesturing to the women she had indicated. "One of them isn't an agent, she's Donavan's girlfriend; she keeps score for us. " His voice depended with disgust. "As for Scarlett O'Hara over there, you know she can't play worth a damn; she's only here to try to hook up with someone."

Rachel's eyebrows rose. She knew the woman Lambert was referring to, her real name was Susan O'Hara. She was a native of Kentucky and had picked up her nickname from the way her flirting and her accent became more pronounced in the presence of any good-looking male.

Her eyes followed Lambert's and her lips thinned as she took in the woman's appearance. Her FBI t-shirt was not only tightly fitting, but it had been cropped leaving her midriff bare. Instead of athletic pants similar to what the other women wore, she had on a pair of black running shorts. Rachel thought the woman looked more like a Hooter's waitress than a federal agent. She scowled when she also realized the woman had attached herself to Hood.

"Fine," she snarled at Lambert. "But if you think I'm leaving my protectee to her tender mercies while I'm on the field, you've got another think coming. You promised me Hood would have an appropriate bodyguard."

"It will be fine," Lambert said soothingly. "Look," he held up a sheet of paper. "I've added his name to the roster; he can sit on the bench surrounded by agents during the game."

"Yeah and when we're all in the field? Who will be watching over him then?"

"So what if it is Scarlett?" he shrugged, "she's a trained federal agent, like the rest of us." He smiled wickedly, "I'm sure she'll keep a very close eye on him. Unless," he added slyly, "you have a problem with that?"

Rachel bit back her retort. This was exactly why she didn't want Hood here, her fear that any indication of friendly feelings between them would re-ignite the old gossip. She could almost hear her father's voice warning her about needing to be like Caesar's wife.

"The man's a widower, still grieving for his wife," she answered coolly. "He gets uncomfortable when women hit on him; I don't want her annoying him. He'd be too embarrassed to tell her to get lost."

Lambert looked over at Hood. He had to admit Young was right; the guy did look pretty flustered with the way Scarlett was obviously flirting with him. He sighed, the last thing he needed was for Young to pull out citing concerns for her protectee's safety. She would be perfectly correct to do so if she couldn't trust the person filling in for her.

"Ok, don't worry. We've got one extra player; he can take my position. I'll personally babysit your guy. Now can we please get this game started?"

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As Rachel became involved in the game she began to relax. The two teams were evenly matched and after five innings the FBI was down by one run. Two things marred the game for Rachel. The first was the way Scarlett kept flirting with Hood. Not that it bothered her; she was offended on Hood's behalf. Lambert was so caught up in the game, alternately shouting encouragement to his own players and insults at the other team that he was oblivious to Scarlett's behavior.

The other thing that bothered Rachel was that she had flied out both times she had come up to bat. Normally, she had a decent batting average but she today she couldn't buy a hit. She tried to blame her poor performance at the plate on her being distracted by Hood's presence; having to be alert to threats to his safety. But she knew it was because the woman pitching for the Secret Service was really, really, good.

Rachel had just made the second out and was returning to the bench with a disgusted look on her face.

"Rachel."

She looked over to see Hood beckoning to her. She made her way over to where he was sitting on the bench. She wondered what his problem was; he was shaking his head and he had a dis-satisfied look on his face. She smiled inwardly; it would serve Lambert right if Hood, finally fed up with Scarlett's flirting, demanded to be taken home.

"What is it Hood?"

"Your swing. You're starting too early and you're swinging up. That's why you've been hitting flies. You need to wait a bit and level out your swing."

"What in the hell are you talking about?" She looked at him skeptically; she figured he was the classic science geek who failed gym class while she had starred in every sport she had participated in during high school. And he was giving her advice on how to hit a softball?

Jacob nodded, reaching for his discarded jacket. He pulled a small notebook and pen out of a pocket. He quickly sketched two stick figures, one with a bat, and the other with a ball in hand.

"Their pitcher is remarkably talented but that's not why you can't get a hit." As he spoke he continued to sketch on his pad.

"You see, here's the trajectory of the ball, you're consistently reaching up for the ball, thus losing momentum. You don't have enough torque since you've choked up on the bat so the force that you do exert on the ball isn't sufficient carry it very far. Finally, your follow-through is wrong, you're swinging up, which, combined with your lack of force, means all of your hits are easily fielded pop ups."

Rachel looked at Hood blankly. His drawings reminded her of the equations he would throw up on the white boards in the various labs they commandeered while in the field. While she was totally prepared to take his word for it on matters relating to science, this was softball for Christ's sake.

Lambert's attention was caught by what Hood was saying. Leaning across Scarlett, Lambert frowned at the drawing. "I'm not sure I get what you're saying. My whole life I've had coaches yelling at me to choke up on the bat."

Jacob nodded in understanding. "Yes, but that's exactly wrong." He tilted his head, considering. "Batting a ball is like hitting a nail with a hammer. The further away from the head of the hammer you hold it; the easier it is to pound in the nail. The further down you hold a bat, the more likely you are to generate enough force to carry the ball into the outfield. "

"Ohh, that is so interesting, Dr. Hood," Scarlett cooed. "However did you figure that out?"

Hood looked at her blankly for a second. Rachel bit back a smile and Scarlett flushed at the frosty tone of his rely. "This is basic high school physics; I hardly think it's beyond me."

Lambert shot Scarlett a warning look. "So you're saying that if we'd have better chances of getting a hit off their pitcher if we hold the bat closer to the end?"

Jacob considered the question carefully. "There are other variables of course, but," he shrugged, "the more force you hit the ball with the further it travels, the more likely it is to get out of the infield."

"What other variables?" Lambert was intrigued.

"The speed of the ball and the arc of the pitches. Her speed is consistent so that isn't as great a factor. But as I said, she's a talented pitcher; she's able to control the arc, varying it from batter to batter."

Jacob began scribbling on another sheet of paper, Lambert watching intently. "She's been getting your players to go after pitches that are too high so they've been hitting fly balls. But she's beginning to tire; her arc isn't as good as it was in earlier innings. You need to tell your batters to be more patient, to wait until the pitches are flatter."

Lambert looked up at the batter on deck. "Sanchez," he barked, "get over here."

When the man approached, Lambert outlined Hood's theory to him. Sanchez looked doubtful. "I don't know, I don't think I'd be comfortable changing my grip like that."

Jacob shrugged. "Then stand a little further back in the batter's box. It will give you the same effect."

Still Sanchez looked doubtful. "Damn it," Lambert growled. "We're down a run and there are only two innings left. Do you want those bastards to win?"

They were interrupted by the sound of a theatrical groan. Donavan had been crowding the plate and had been hit by a pitch. He grinned as he trotted down to first base. Lambert gritted his teeth, "Look, that's the tying run on base. Sanchez, I'm begging you, just stand further back in the box and wait out her pitches."

Shaking his head, Sanchez headed toward the plate. Jacob was pleased that the young man stood further back in the batter's box than he had in his previous turns at bat. Rachel found she was holding her breath; if Hood's advice didn't work out she would feel responsible. She felt herself growing tenser as Sanchez took pitch after pitch; she fought a desire to yell at him to just swing the damn bat. Her jaw dropped when, with a full count, Sanchez finally did swing the damn bat. There was a satisfying thwack as the ball sailed over the heads of the outfielders, a homerun.

Lambert was pumping his fist in the air as first Donavan and then Sanchez crossed the plate. He was so pleased the team was now in the lead he didn't even wince when the next batter, disregarding Hood's instructions, chased a high ball and made the third out. If they could hold out for two more innings, they would win the game.

The sixth inning began well. The Secret Service added a run, but the lead-off batter for the FBI hit another home run. Lambert was ecstatic. It looked as if his team would be victorious. Then a cell-phone buzzed. The whole team froze as Donavan finally identified the buzzing as belonging to his phone.

He read the text message and grimaced. "Damn, I've got to go in." He began to pack up his things.

Lambert looked on in disbelief. "Come on, we've only got an inning to go, you can't leave now." He flushed at the looks on the faces around him. "Ok, yeah, you've got to go." He looked over at Rachel with a glare. "I have to replace him in the line-up. We've only got a freaking inning left, so no complaints from you, ok?"

Rachel looked at him for a beat before nodding reluctantly. She wasn't up to bat in this inning so she would be looking after Hood as a matter of course. After that, there was only a half-inning left. She supposed she would have to trust Scarlett for that short amount of time.

Then, from the perspective of both Rachel and Lambert, disaster stuck. After the next two batters got solid hits, the captain of the Secret Service team replaced the pitcher. The new guy quickly struck out the next three batters, leaving the FBI team up only one run. Then, as they ran to take the field, Thorne, who was playing second base, tripped and sprained his ankle.

Lambert couldn't believe it; the line-up he had been fielding was the most competitive one the team had; he couldn't believe that having come this close to beating their hated rivals the team would fall short. He hastily called a time-out. "O'Hara," he barked. "Get your glove, you're replacing Thorpe."

It was harder to say who was the more stunned and upset, Scarlett or the other members of the team. Lambert ignored the looks of dismay and turned as Eric Graves, captain of the other team, and the umpire jogged over to see what was causing the delay. Lambert tersely told them of the accident and his loss of another player. He explained that he would be taking Donavon's position and that O'Hara would fill in for Thorpe.

"The hell she is," Graves objected. His was grinning; the FBI being down a player would be an advantage for his team. They might be able to pull this game out after all.

"Why not?" Lambert asked. "She's on the roster, she's an FBI employee."

"I don't care," was the reply. "She not in a proper uniform."

"I'm afraid he's right," the umpire put in. "League rules require pants. She can't play in shorts."

Lambert looked at the women on his team. "Any of you got an extra pair of pants?" He swore silently. From the looks on their faces it was clear that they'd rather finish the game down a player than loan Scarlett O'Hara clothes. A smile broke out on his face; O'Hara wasn't the only other FBI employee left on the bench.

"Fine, then I'll put Hood in, he's got pants on."

The umpire coughed. "Uh, Lambert, he may be wearing pants but he's not in uniform." He squinted at Hood. "Are you sure he's on your roster? I've never seen him before."

"Yeah, I put him on right before the game," Lambert said. "And as for the uniform, the rules only say that the players have to wear the same t-shirt and hat, along with long pants." He dug into his gym bag and came up with a gray FBI t-shirt. He grabbed the ball cap from Scarlett's head and threw it and the shirt to Hood. "Now he's got a uniform."

"Uh, Lambert," Rachel began uneasily. "I don't think…."

"Agent Lambert, I really…" Jacob looked slightly shocked.

"Oh, Dr. Hood, I'm sure you'll do us all proud," Scarlett drawled. "Here, let me help you get that t-shirt on." She leaned over Hood and grasped the hem of the knit shirt he was wearing, pulling it up over his head.

Rachel's mouth went a little dry. She knew, subconsciously, that Hood didn't wear undershirts. He only wore a tie on formal occasions and she had never seen the tell-tale hint of white at the unbuttoned collar of his shirt. Still, she had never imagined what he would look like without a shirt on. She had always figured he, like many middle-aged men, wore layers on top and baggy pants to camouflage a sagging body. She was obviously mistaken.

His shoulders were broad, and for someone who never seemed to exercise, his chest was well muscled. He didn't have a six-pack, but his abdomen was tight and his stomach flat. A fine drift of hair as dark and curly as the hair on his head covered his chest, tapering down to his belly. Rachel swallowed and thought that maybe 42 wasn't so old after all. She was jolted out of her thoughts by Scarlett's voice.

"Very nice," the woman purred.

Rachel shot Scarlett a dirty look and snatched up the t-shirt Hood had let fall at his feet. She thrust it at him. ""Here, put this on." She couldn't help but grin at the look of uncertainty on Hood's face and the blush staining his cheeks.

He quickly put on the t-shirt, turning away from Rachel as he did so, giving her a view of his bare back. Her eyebrow rose, his back was as good as his front. Not an ounce of excess fat, his muscles well-defined as he raised his arms to pull on the shirt, and smooth. She found herself nodding in approval; she did hate men with hairy backs.

"Are you sure about this?" Hood asked doubtfully.

"Look, Dr. Hood," Lambert said. "It's only a half-inning. All I need is someone to plug up the holes. It'll be fine."

Lambert quickly called the team in for a huddle. He outlined his strategy. Hood would take Sanchez's place in right field and Sanchez would take Donavan's position in left field. Lemon, the center fielder would move to left center and Rachel would move from being a rover to right center field. This way she could not only keep an eye on Hood but also be able to back him up if it looked as if he couldn't handle anything hit in his direction. Lambert himself would take over second base; he figured this configuration would give the team their best defensive posture. After all, they only had to hang on for a half inning.

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Four batters later Lambert was mentally cursing the injured Thorpe and the absent Donavan. He had been so concerned about filling the holes in his defense, he had forgotten about his pitcher. Like her Secret Service counter-part, she was getting tired. Unlike the opposition, Lambert didn't have anyone else on his roster who could pitch. So far their fielding had held up, but they were now faced with runners on second and third. Luckily they also had two outs.

Lambert's eyes narrowed as Graves came up to bat. Lambert was shocked to see that he was batting lefty. In his previous appearances at bat, he had batted right-handed. Lambert groaned silently. Obviously he was hoping to hit a ball in Hood's direction figuring correctly that Hood was the weak link on the team. Lambert found himself holding his breath as Graves did just that, hit a fly ball deep along the right field line.

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It had been a long time since he had been on a playing field and Jacob was relieved that the previous batters hadn't hit anything remotely in his direction. He flexed his hand in the stiff, borrowed glove. He snorted softly; he wasn't surprised the glove belonging to that woman was clearly new and unused.

He snapped to attention when he realized that current batter was a left-hander. If the man generated any power at all, the ball would most likely come in his direction. He was not surprised when, with a loud thwack, the ball began travelling toward him. Without consciously thinking about it, he eyed the ball intently judging its speed and angle. He lifted his hands and began drifting forward.

"Got it." He called out as he moved slowly forward, eyes intent on the ball.

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Rachel swore under her breath as she realized the ball was going straight toward Hood. Having him muff the play and end up costing them the game would be intolerable. She knew she should never have allowed him to come to the softball game.

"Mine," she yelped as she ran to intercept Hood and catch the ball, not noticing that he hadn't pulled up.

She forgot how Hood, when focusing on a problem, could become oblivious to the world around him. Or maybe she never anticipated that he would bring the same level of concentration to the track of a softball as he would to the source of an epidemic. In either case the result was the same. Just as Hood caught the ball Rachel slammed into him.

Everyone on the field held their breath as the duo went down. If Hood dropped the ball, the runner on third would score easily and, depending on how quickly the pair untangled themselves, the other runner might score also. If he managed, somehow, to keep control of the ball, the game was over, the FBI would be victorious.

A cheer went up as Jacob held up his arm, showing the ball still firmly within his glove. In their relief and happiness at beating their hated rivals, the members of the team sprinted to where Jacob and Rachel were still on the ground and helped them to their feet. There was a lot of good-natured back-slapping and excited chatter as the members of the team congratulated Hood on his game-winning play.

Rachel scowled as she realized that Scarlett had joined the team in the outfield and was enveloping Hood in a hug.

"Oh, Dr. Hood, I just knew you'd save the day for us."

Rachel gritted her teeth. She couldn't believe the way the woman had plastered herself against Hood. She moved to intervene but before she could say anything, Lambert called the team to order. He quickly lined them up in order to accept the unwilling congratulations from their rivals.

"Well," Lambert beamed at his team. "I say this calls for a celebration. First round's on me." He turned to Jacob. "I hope you'll join us Dr. Hood, after all, you made the winning out."

Jacob was amused by the brief look of horror that crossed Rachel's face. He was alarmed by the predatory look that crossed Scarlett's. "Oh, well, I'm afraid that I'll have to pass. I've, uh, got some writing that I've been putting off that I really need to get a start on."

He grimaced as he looked down at the grass stained t-shirt he was wearing. "I'll make sure your shirt is laundered and get it back to you."

Lambert smiled broadly and slapped Hood on the back. "Naw, keep it. As a souvenir of the game." He turned and walked off with the others on the team. Scarlett, with a wishful look at Hood, trailed after them.

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Jacob waited patiently while Rachel gathered her things together. He was annoyed but he wasn't about to give vent to his displeasure where other agents could hear him. He followed her to where she had parked the SUV and, climbing in, slammed the door after himself. Rachel raised an eyebrow at this small display of temper. She wondered what was bothering him. As she pulled away from the curb, he turned to face her.

"Honestly, Rachel," Jacob complained, "you could have shown a little faith in me back there. I'm perfectly able to track the flight of an object as large as a softball through the air and position myself correctly in order to catch it. It was embarrassing the way you tried to field that ball." He looked at her accusingly, "Just because I've devoted myself to a life of the mind doesn't mean that I have no physical skills whatsoever."

Rachel's mouth dropped open at the indignation in Hood's voice. She considered his words. She had underestimated him. She had assumed that he was nothing more than a science geek, a grown up version of the physically awkward boys she had held in contempt all through high school. A picture of Hood's bare chest flashed through her mind. Apparently the man wasn't as physically inactive as she believed. She even had to admit she had been impressed that he had managed to keep control of the ball when they went down.

"You're right. I should have realized you had the play. You called it and I should have backed off. I'm sorry." She flashed him a smile. "So, what's up for the rest of the afternoon?"

"Nothing. Well, nothing that concerns you. You can drop me at my apartment and then take the rest of the weekend off."

Rachel looked at him in surprise. "Are you sure?" she asked hesitantly. "I know I bitch a lot about running errands with you, but it's ok, I mean, I really don't mind."

"No," he said. "I wasn't lying to your friend; I do have an article I need to start. The Journal of Biophysics has been after me to write about the synergy effects we encountered in that case in California a while back."

Rachel nodded in understanding and the rest of the trip to Hood's apartment was made in silence. As she shifted the SUV into park Hood quickly got out of the vehicle. Before she could open her door, he leaned in to speak to her.

"Don't bother getting out of the car Rachel, it's only a few yards to the door, I'm sure I can make it without an escort."

Rachel was dumbstruck as Hood slammed the door. She wondered if, despite her apology, he was still annoyed with her; if the article was merely a ruse to get rid of her for the rest of the weekend. She sat at the curb watching as he walked stiffly to the front door, only pulling away when the security guard admitted him to the building.

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Driving back to her place, Rachel had trouble concentrating on the traffic. Her mind kept wandering back to thoughts of Hood. She had become more than reconciled to her assignment to his detail. Since the case in Pittsburgh, she had finally admitted to herself that she enjoyed working with him; that the work they did was important. Furthermore she was beginning to realize she enjoyed spending time with him as a person; that she considered him a friend.

But she had never given any thought to him as a man. Yes, he was good-looking, but his status both as her protectee and a grieving widower had but him firmly out of bounds. Anyway, she had always told herself that he wasn't her type. That he was too diffident, too un-athletic, and too old to appeal to her sexually. But now she wondered if she had misjudged him. She blushed as she realized she was wondering not only if his ass, under those baggy pants he liked to wear, was as firm as his chest but also how good his other physical skills were.

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Jacob grunted in relief as he stepped under the warm water of his shower. Twisting his head, he grimaced as he surveyed the bruise coming out on his hip. At the time he had been glad his hip had taken the brunt of the impact when he and Rachel went down. If his arm had been jarred he might not have been able to keep hold of the ball. Now, he was glad that he would have a day or so to work out the stiffness before he had to face her again. He would hate to have to admit to her he had been hurt even slightly when they collided.

As he stood under the stream of water his thoughts turned, as they were inclined to do more and more often, to Rachel. He had been pleased the game offered an excuse to spend time with her on the weekend. Technically, under the terms of her assignment to his detail, he could demand she dance attendance on him 24/7. But he was increasingly reluctant to do so. Ironically the more he came to realize how much he enjoyed spending time with her, the more he was hesitant about making her spend time with him. He felt as if he was taking advantage of her, of the situation, for his own pleasure.

It was clear to him that, while Rachel considered him a friend, her feelings went no further. Not only was she to professional to consider him in any other light, he had the feeling she would be shocked to find that he was becoming attracted to her. Watching her interact with her male colleagues today he had the feeling he wasn't her type.

He sighed as he reached for the soap, he would have to be careful not to do anything that would give away his feelings for her. The last thing he wanted was for her to request a transfer.