I'm really sorry I haven't updated this in ages. Janet/Rachel are still my favourite Scott and Bailey ship but I have been getting distracted lately, mostly by random oneshots. Also, with trying to fit this into the series, I'm running out of likely moments and I'm trying to drag it out as long as possible because I love writing this. This is not the end! Hope you haven't given up reading!
Set just after the end of Series 2, episode 6.
Janet Scott was nervous. She hated being nervous. It made no sense whatsoever. There wasn't even anything to be nervous about, she told herself firmly. All she was doing was having her best mate over for a cup of tea and a chat. There was nothing more to it than that. And she was confident that Rachel's talk of resigning was all talk. Or mostly confident. She was confident that she could talk Rach out of it at any rate. So why was she fidgetting the newspaper into a right mare's nest? Janet got up from the sofa with a sigh. She dumped the whole pile of newspaper pages in a heap on the floor. I give up. So she and Rachel had a slightly... unusual way of helping each other at times. Helping? Comforting? Cheering each other up. Sharing. Janet was aware that that particular defence was wearing thin, even in her own head. But she refused to feel guilty about it. She hadn't felt guilty when they started and she was a single woman now, answering to no one. It would be stupid to feel guilty about it now. And she had it all under control, well within limits. It was – not nothing, but nothing to worry about. Really. Janet beat up the cushions, straightened her jumper, smoothed back her hair, and flicked some imaginary dust off the arm of the sofa. Nothing to worry about, nothing to get worked up about, nothing to be nervous about, nothing to be excited about. So why the tightening in her belly, the tingling on her skin, the buzzing in brain? Janet flopped down on the sofa again and ran over their phone conversation in her head.
'Do you want to come over?'
Rachel hesitated. 'Aren't you busy?'
'Not really,' Janet glanced down at the newspaper spread over the sofa. She could hear the wind buffeting Rachel's phone as she paused again.
'What about the girls?'
'They're with Ade for the weekend. Mum's out too, some afternoon tea date thing.' The pause this time was even longer. Janet imagined Rachel jittering about on the spot, trying to make up her mind. It went on so long that Janet began to wonder if their connection had been broken.
'What time they back at?' Blurted straight out. What was going on?
'Ummm the girls probably won't be back until this evening, but Mum said she'll probably back around six-ish.' Better not to ask on the phone. Better to get her round here and then peel back all the issues.
'Ok.' Decision made. 'I'll ditch the chimp and his mini-me and I'll be round in a bit.' Rachel hung up so suddenly that Janet's 'byeee' was mostly to the dial tone.
Janet checked her watch. It was gone half-five already and still no Rachel. If she didn't hurry up, Mum would be back before she got there and then bang went any chance of a private conversation. An odd thought struck Janet. Was Rachel doing this on purpose? Was that the reason behind the twenty questions game on the phone? That she wanted someone else around, didn't want to be alone with Janet. Janet tried to firmly stamp on the thought that said her current state of nerves was connected to the same thing. Why were she and Rach nervous about being in a house alone together?
Rachel Bailey sat in her car, twisting her hands. It was time to go. She ought to get out of the car, walk round the corner, ring the bell of Janet's house and go talk to her friend. She had already been sat there for five minutes and if she didn't get a move on Jan's mum would be back already and there'd be no chance of a decent chat on their own. Course, there'd be no chance of anything else they might do if left on their own for too long either. Which was kinda the plan. Cunning plan, Rachel thought, Janet would like that. Except she couldn't say that to Janet, because Janet didn't want to talk about anything to do with this thing that they did, that was between them. But, Rachel thought with rising panic, it was rapidly getting to the point where they would have to talk about it, where something would have to change.
Rachel didn't remember much about that night when she had punched a lamppost. She didn't really remember the lamppost. She did remember snogging Janet down the alleyway. No, not snogging, something much more moving and what?... intimate... had gone on that night. It was all a bit blurry – hot and close and images and feelings merged together. She couldn't pinpoint exactly what she had done, she remembered the feelings most clearly. She remembered the desire. Janet's desire.
It was bugging her, it was haunting her. She knew how she herself felt. She knew she had fancied Jan for a while now. It had started off as wanting to be like her, craving friendship, developed into attraction, and something deeper, caring. But she had never expected Janet to want her in the same way. She had always been off limits. Even when they started this snogging thing, even when that happened, it had felt almost like it happened of its own accord. It was easy to tell herself that it was about comfort or friendship or safety or trust – nothing sexual, nothing more. Or like it was Janet just being nice to her, not like she really wanted Rachel in the same way that Rachel knew, deep deep down, that she wanted Janet. Janet, after all, was the one who had told her to be satisfied with Sean. And she wasn't. Couldn't be. He couldn't fill the gap she had in her life, inside her.
So it felt wrong, like taking advantage, like breaking their agreement, to want something. And it was scary to know that things had shifted. To realise that all her assumptions had been wrong. It seemed dangerous to acknowledge that Janet might desire her too. Because if they both knew this, and Rachel knew that if she knew it then clever-clogs, insightful, people person, brilliant detective Janet Scott definitely knew it - if they both knew this, then they were going to have to do something about it. And then their whole world could change. Scary.
It was a toss up between fear and desire. Rachel hated being afraid of things. Usually she dealt with it by just running straight at the thing that scared her, bull at gate. But when there were other people involved... it was harder. She felt a sense of responsibility that was more or less foreign to her. Because there was something else, too. Something Rachel did not want to admit, even to herself. It wasn't just about sex. Maybe once that had been the height of what she had not-quite-let-herself-imagine. Maybe. She had always wanted Janet as her friend though. And she cared about her by now so much. Rachel suspected that the emptiness, and frustration, and the longing that she felt at times, more and more frequently, could only be soothed by one person. And that was terrifying and confusing in so many ways that Rachel Bailey didn't even know where to start thinking about it.
Rachel checked her watch. Another five minutes gone. What was she going to do? Her thoughts were chasing themselves in circles. Jan was going to be wondering what had happened to her.
Time to go. See what happens.
The jangle of the doorbell made Janet jump. Her heart thudded uncomfortably as she approached the front door. She recognised Rachel's silhouette, turned away, scanning the street.
'Hiya.' Janet sounded just her usual self, calm and warm. She was almost surprised that her own voice didn't betray her.
'Hi.' Rachel dithered on the doorstep until Janet waved her in, giving her friend a quizzical look as she passed. Rachel looked nervous too. And tired. She leaned against the wall, hands bunched in her coat pockets, and sighed.
'So... still not a fan of little uns then?' Rachel pulled a face and Janet couldn't help but smirk. Bless her.
'Do you want a cup of tea?' She wandered down towards the kitchen, calling back. Rachel followed.
'Go on then.'
Janet filled the kettle, switched it on, put two teabags in the pot, reached two mugs out, crossed the kitchen to ferret in the cupboard for biscuits. Rachel watched. Stood in the middle of the kitchen near the table.
'Why is everything just shit?' she demanded over the roar of boiling water. Janet could hear the catch in her voice. She turned to look at her friend. Rachel was clutching the back of one of the chairs, her knuckles white, the scabs there standing out raw.
The kettle clicked off.
Janet sympathised. She knew what it was like. But there was nothing anyone could say when you felt like that, nothing that worked, nothing that didn't sound stupid and meaningless, and empty. Her heart ached for Rach. The look in her eyes. The pain evident in the way she held herself. The frustration and betrayal. She wished she could take it all away. Janet leaned against the worktop, forgetting the tea, waiting for something to suggest itself.
Rachel looked down at the floor. Sucked in a breath.
'Sorry,' she said forcefully. 'Sorry,' looking up at Janet again.
'Don't be.' Janet said softly. So soft it made tears start up in Rachel's eyes. Roughness she could have coped with - a lecture, telling off, even hard common sense. But softness, niceness, kindness cut her to the quick. And everything about Janet was soft today, she noticed. Her jumper, her hair, skin. Eyes. Rachel gripped the chair harder still. She felt the skin split slightly across her battered knuckles. Pain. Good. She wasn't going to be able to hold out long against all this softness. Already she longed to bury herself in Janet's arms and forget about everything. But you can't.
'Oh come here.' Janet's voice. Rachel struggled to meet her eye, looking at her obliquely. She shook her head. More tears. Janet leaned forward, insistent.
'Rachel, come here.'
Rachel gasped, almost a sob. She took one step, still clinging to the chair for a moment, then she sort of staggered, let go and found herself wrapped up in Janet's arms, clinging to her instead.
'I can't' she muttered into soft blonde hair. 'I can't. I can't.'
'Why? Why can't you?' Janet sounded so calm, so rational.
'It's just...' Rachel heaved a breath, tried to make herself push back and failed utterly. 'It's too...'
'It's ok.' Janet stroked one hand up and down Rachel's back, long and slow. She spoke into her neck, close and soft, almost in her ear. 'It's ok.'
'Is it?' Rachel asked and a bell rang way back in her head. We've been here before. But everything had changed since then, since she last asked Janet that question, and then kissed her. Everything.
'No.' Rachel shook her head, pushing her face closer in to Janet's shoulder, lost in tangles of hair.
'It's all...' she threw up her hands behind Janet's head in a hopeless frustrated attempt to convey the magnitude of what she couldn't say.
'How can you be so cool calm and collected?' she demanded. She brushed at the ends of hair getting in her eyes, suddenly almost angry, trying to fight her way out. Janet gripped her tighter, arms about her waist, hands splayed across the small of her back. Rachel stilled just as suddenly.
She became aware of a heartbeat thumping hard against her chest. Not her own. Lips brushed against her ear shiveringly.
Rachel turned her head so that their eyes met. She lifted it easily now, no longer fighting confusion. Blue eyes wide, softly lined skin, lips slightly apart.
It was there again. The wanting, the desire, the heat rising between them. And this time Rachel was fully aware, fully in control of herself, not pissed out of her tree. She listened to Janet breathing, felt her chest rise into her own, her breath tickle across her face. All the tension, all the strain of thinking this was something she was pushing Janet into – and here they were, Janet nudging her onward. And she remembered something else about that night when they had first kissed. Remembered thinking that the passion of Janet Scott was something incalculable. Something she could get lost in.
Their eyes were still locked. Janet's arms were still tight about Rachel's waist, holding her body against her. Rachel's fingers still rested on the softness of Janet's jumper. Their breaths came together, a little faster now. Tension building.
Janet's eyes flickered to Rachel's lips. Any second now she was going to crack. Any split second. All that carefully constructed control went in a silent snap and she was kissing Rachel before she had even made the decision to do so. Eating her almost, trying to swallow her, so desperately did the desire hit her. And Rachel too. They were both clutching at each other, matching each other kiss forkiss, breath for breath. Janet repeated her stroking motion but fiercely now – reaching higher to dig her hands into Rachel's hair and lower too. Rachel bunched handfuls of the soft fabric of Janet's jumper, stretching it against her skin. Skin, thought Janet impatiently, that's what I want. She tugged at Rachel's top, slid her hands underneath, reaching up, up, up her back, trying to pull her even closer into herself, stifling Rachel's gasp with her mouth. Rachel was trying to get her hands everywhere at once, trying to squeeze them between their tightly pressed bodies, to feel. She ducked her head, lips pressing into Janet's neck, mouth searching out a pulse point. She couldn't help smiling when she felt Janet's bodily reaction. Her head thrown back, back arching into a bow. Rachel felt like she was flying – 600 miles per hour. She clawed at Janet's clothing. Too many layers. Their knees banged together, they were standing so close. And as Rachel's knee slid between Janet's, Janet hitched herself closer still, one hand firmly wrapped in Rachel's hair now, the other sliding down her leg. I want you. Her mouth opened wordlessly as she felt Rachel's teeth. This was beyond... anything. She slid one hand under Rachel's top again, creeping round the front, exploring soft, firm, smooth skin. Enjoying the way Rachel's mouth faltered as her breathing stuttered. God Janet.
It was Janet who heard the key in the front door. Shit.
Her head turned sharply. Rachel froze, catching on. Janet saw the familiar shape of her Mum outlined against the panes of glass. She pushed Rachel back, moving with her, out of the line of sight from the hall.
'Only me,' Dorothy's voice called as she pushed the door open. 'Margery says hello and you must come round to hers for tea sometime, bring the girls.' Dorothy continued talking as she took her coat off and to it hung up.
In the kitchen, there was a frantic tugging at clothing, wiping at faces, tucking things in.
'Hi Mum.' Janet's voice sounded strained. She swallowed several times before trying again. 'We're in the kitchen. Rachel's just popped round.'
Rachel felt shaky. She ran a hand through her hair – all over the place, but at least that wasn't out of character. Janet turned to her, mouthed Do I look all right? Eyes enormous, mouth tense. Rachel raked her eyes over her. More or less. She nodded. Try to be reassuring. Try to be calm and together. But her insides were crawling with guilt and frustration and anger at herself. That was not supposed to happen. Her eyes followed Janet as she went back over to the kettle. Only an expert in Janetness could have told that there was something not right about the way she held herself. Rachel could. But she didn't think Janet's Mum would. She could hear Dorothy's footsteps coming down the hall.
'I was just going to make some tea,' Janet smiled at her Mum. 'Do you want some?'
Janet pressed the button on the kettle and used the noise and the faffing about with cups and teabags as an excuse not to listen while her Mum chattered away at Rachel.
Reign it all in. Tamp it all down. Lock it all away now. Rachel was right to make sure they wouldn't be alone together for long enough. Things were getting out of hand between them. She was going to have to think long and hard about this if they weren't exceedingly careful from now on. When she was with Rachel, when they were... carrying on, she didn't want to stop. And she didn't want Rachel to stop turning to her, or for Rachel to stop being there for her. But when she thought about it rationally, when she was on her own...
Janet wasn't sure that she was ready to turn her life that far upside down. She wasn't sure she was even ready to think about that.