(A/N: My deepest apologies. School and work and some family health issues held up my ability to work on this for a bit. I appreciate every little bit of feedback, and hope you enjoy the next chapter!)
Juliette felt a tingle along the back of her neck as she walked into the precinct. It strummed along her nerves and tickled the hairs that brushed against her coat collar. It was as if she could feel Captain Renard – Sean – across the room. She'd felt it before, that day in the coffee shop, she just hadn't quite acknowledged it at the time. Now, however, it was as familiar as a favorite pair of slippers but thrilling like being at the top of a roller coaster right before the bottom dropped out. The urge to just go see him was threatening to override every other command her body was following.
Nick appeared before her, that comforting-yet-worried smile that had become his default expression around her stretching his lips. She returned it, a little strained and lopsided. She wasn't sure what exactly was going on, but considering how haggard he'd seemed over the past few days she gathered it probably wasn't good.
"Hey" he started, "I don't know how to do this exactly, but I need to talk to you about something"
"Alright", she fumbled with her purse strap on her shoulder, clutching the bag like a lifeline. Focus on Nick. Follow Nick to his desk. Sit. Listen to the words coming out of his mouth. Forget that you can sense Sean in his office, rummaging through his desk, shuffling papers, and…
"…so I don't want to alarm you, but I feel like in light of the case we should assign a detail. To the house. And maybe to your work," Nick looked like he was bracing for her response. She chewed on her lower lip.
"How serious do you think this guy is?" she responded, trying to buy time to catch up.
Nick shook his head, "There was only a day between the two murders, but we haven't been able to link the victims at all. There were no overlapping friends, families, acquaintances, activities. They really lived totally separate lives. The only thing that is in any way similar is their looks"
Ah, apparently a serial killer. Fantastic. She loosened her hold on her purse, and instead traced the seam on the side of her jeans, her fingers and body itching to move. She was really a pretty independent person, and she wasn't terribly excited by the idea of having to check in every time she wanted to leave her house.
"Well," she began, "I mean, there's like 600,000 people in Portland. I think the odds are pretty slim that they'd pick me out of a crowd" Nick reached forward and grabbed her hand. She paused, willing herself not to jerk it away, but her whole consciousness thrummed with how wrong it felt.
"I don't know. I do know I don't want you to get hurt though," his eyes shone at her, filled with earnestness and a flicker of fear. Guilt speared through her stomach and she squeezed his hand reflexively. A small smile gripped the corner of his mouth as he squeezed back, a little glow of hope dancing visibly across his gaze. The spear bloomed, and her stomach twisted in shame and anxiety. She wavered for a moment, wanting to pull her hand back but unsure how to do so without hurting Nick further.
She cleared her throat, "So, what would this entail?"
Nick leaned back, solving the dilemma by releasing her hand on his own. She forced herself to retract slowly and not snatch her hand back to her lap, "We can set up a rotating patrol. Someone to stop by at least once and hour and check on you for the time being. At night I'll assign someone to watch outside the house and make sure you aren't disturbed"
She nodded, "I see. Are you sure, you know, Monroe couldn't do this?"
His gaze darkened for a moment, and his eyes slid to the left. Lying? She filed the response away in her brain. Why would he feel the need to lie about his good friend?
"Monroe, well I'm sure he'd be happy to help.." stammered Nick, "But he's been dating this girl…And he's not really. I mean if someone broke in…" he trailed off. Juliette nodded numbly, suspicion growing. While often underestimated for being a softy and perhaps a bit childish, Nick was nothing if not charming and easy with words. In all the time she'd spent with him since waking up, she'd never known him to struggle to find something to say.
"I see", she chewed on her lip again, "I guess I'm just not sure how I feel about strangers being around our house all the time"
"Well they're not really strangers. They'd be patrol officers" he replied, impatience insinuating itself into his voice. She didn't want to pick a fight, and really she understood the reasoning behind the detail. It just made her uncomfortable to think about being watched by people all day, every day.
"I know, " she started, and then froze as a hand landed on her shoulder, brushing under her hair.
There was a fleeting pause before, "If you'd like, I can always stop by" rumbled from above her.
If she'd been a cat, she'd have been purring. As it was it took every ounce of strength to refrain from rubbing her face on the hand and arm next to her head. Her whole body cried out in yearning at the touch, so much that she was sure he could feel its response just to his presence. She felt herself tremor as she looked up, green eyes locking on green.
She knew, as soon as he caught her gaze, that the touch hadn't been on accident. She bit her lower lip hard, reminding herself that she was not with this man, the she was not his and he was not hers to claim. But she so wanted to. Wanted to grab that hand, wind her fingers through it, pull him closer as she slid up his body, her mouth finding his… She drew in a ragged breath, "That would make me feel better"
"I'm happy to. If it would make you feel more comfortable" she found herself staring at his lips as they formed each word, wondering how they would feel on her own.
"Yes. I believe it would" she heard herself say, entranced as she watched those same lips open in a genuine smile. Oh lord, he was going to be the death of her. The hand on her shoulder gripped harder for a few seconds and released, and goodness help her she let out a barely audible whimper as he let go. His adams apple bobbed as he swallowed, and clenched his fist to his side.
She gripped the edge of her chair, now physically keeping herself from following him as he retreated to his office, saying "It would be my pleasure. I'll see you soon Juliette"
As his door closed she swung her eyes back around to Nick, and smiled weakly, "Well..Is that alright? Are we done here?" Barely acknowledging his nod, she responded, "Great, gottagotowork, seeyoutonight" and fled from the precinct before she could change her mind.