Never Trust Part 1

Leslie woke up early and decided to head over to the RNC training facility for a good, hard workout. She hadn't fully recovered from the events with the St. John's Players Theatre and Gordie Ahearn's attempted sexual assault. He had pleaded not guilty and the trial was in a few months. He was in custody, though and she wasn't afraid of him anyway. She was more afraid of her feelings of vulnerability or weakness. That was new and uncomfortable.

She had started training on the heavy bag with the RNC boxing coach as a way of toughening up. She had been at it for about two hours and was starting to get hungry. Time for a last push and then get ready for work.

Jake had woken up in the apartment / office and looked around with some embarrassment. He hadn't brought Leslie back here since they had gotten serious. She was too classy for a fold-out bed above a bar. Plus, too many people had access to this place and they were still keeping their relationship under wraps for the most part. He had thought about getting a place before but when he had the house with Nicki, she had done all the work finding and organizing it and with Alison, he had balked when she started touring show homes planning their lives together. He would really rather work on finding a place as joint project with Leslie, but he didn't think she was ready for that and he didn't want to scare her off by pushing too hard. He surprised himself with how good it made him feel to think about having a permanent home with Leslie - gardening, cooking, all of it. It was an unfamiliar feeling. He loved his family and how close they were but he never thought of himself as creating a new family just for himself but now he was. He never even really felt that way with Nicki. She had just joined the Doyles.

He didn't like that they always had to hook up at Leslie's. He needed to show her he was capable of being "all grown up" and it also meant that she had some control over when he saw her. He understood that intellectually, but it wasn't totally his style to do what he was told. It certainly was Leslie's style to tell him what to do, though. That would take some getting used to. As he said to Mal once "It's not the listening, its the obeying that's hard."

He realized that he was missing her, so he thought he would call her and see if she was free for breakfast. After he got voicemail a few times, he remembered she had told him she was going to the gym a lot and thought he would head over on spec in case she was there.

All the time Leslie had been pounding the heavy bag she had been thinking about Jake. She thought about him pretty much all the time now and those feelings were good and happy most of the time. However, she was starting to feel slightly threatened in her independence. Jake was trying to let her have some space but he was also so obviously in love with her that she knew it was a struggle for him to stay away.

She was in love with him too and it often overwhelmed her how many times a day she wanted to call him to ask for advice, chat, just hear his voice. She hadn't really had a lover like this before. Mayor Bill Clarke had started out that way but very quickly she realized she couldn't trust him. Jake was different. She knew she could trust him to always be honest but she had always had trouble trusting him not to do something stupid that might ruin her career or her life. He did seem to be getting better about that, though.

But what was really different was that she simply could no longer imagine her life without him. The thought of him with another woman or not around at all would cause her to catch her breath. More and more mornings she woke up either with him or wishing she was with him. But the very next thought that came into her head, somewhat surprisingly, was that she wasn't going to change her name "(smack - she hit the bag), never (smack), never (smack), NEVER" she hit the bag with everything she had and yelled it out loud.

She heard a crash as the bag swung back and knocked Jake down. He had walked into the gym and was standing behind the bag when she hit it.

"You sure know how to knock a guy on his ass," Jake said from the ground where he was sitting.

"Jake, are you okay?" cried Leslie and she ran over to him. Then she stopped, put her hands on her hips and said "what the hell are you doing here anyway?" She wasn't 'out' to her RNC colleagues about her relationship with Jake. If they saw her being nice to him, the rumours would start. Actually, the existing rumours would just get worse. "What do you need me to do for you, now? A license plate, someone's file? You know I don't have time for your two-bit cases."

Jake frowned. Why was Leslie being so mean to him? "I didn't, ... I don't... I think you might have given me a concussion."

Leslie helped him to his feet and whispered to him, "no one here knows about you, yet, please don't let it out"

"Sure, "I get it," he replied. "I don't get it," he thought to himself. "Is she ashamed of me?"

"So what are you never going to do?" he asked her as he helped her untie her gloves.

She looked at him intently and pondered whether to tell him the truth or not. Taking her time didn't help much with Clarke. Acting cool hadn't helped with Jake the last time. She decided to play it straight up. "I will never change my name. No matter what decisions we make about the future, I will never change my name." Her words started to tumble faster and faster and she looked Jake straight in the eye. "Bennett is an honourable name, it's my name, it's my father's name and he was a hero."

Jake stopped working on her gloves and stood looking at her a bit speechless. He gave her one of his patented confused headshakes and finger points. Then he smiled and said "did you just propose to me?"

"Maybe," she said. "Let's get out of here. I only have a couple of hours before I start my shift and I am starved."

"Hang about, b'y," Jake said, "aren't you interested in my answer?"

"Some other time," Leslie snapped with a smile. "I need to get a shower and get ready for work. Wait outside and I will meet you in half an hour."

Jake sat in his car out front of the training centre and contemplated Leslie's proposal. He was pretty clear that's what it was. He understood it probably wasn't a "white wedding" type proposal but more of a commitment to him over the long term. His answer was definitely yes, but he was thinking about Nicki and how different this was from that. He wasn't thinking about a ceremony or a house or anything material. He was just thinking about happiness. "I guess this is what they mean when they talk about being struck by love," he mused. "I honestly feel like a different person than I did an hour ago."

Leslie came out and knocked on his window. "Follow me, we'll go to the diner near my place."

"Yes," Jake said. Leslie started to walk to her car. "Yes," he called out, "yes I will, yes." Leslie turned around and winked at him, then got in her car.