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Disclaimer : See chapter 1
Beta: Obsidian Jade - thank you for all the help. If there are any errors still left in this chapter is because I suffer from being unable to read though any story of mine and not tweak it a bit. Since I always read before I post, there has some tweakage.
Note : I apologize for it taking so long to finish this chapter. When I split this section off from the last chapter, it allowed me to add a lot of material (its almost three times as long) that was going to be left out or squeezed in at a later date. I am much happier with this version and hope you enjoy it as well.
Previous Chapters : Ch 1 - Denial ; Ch 2 - Anger ; Ch 3 - Bargaining - Jacob

Therapy Sessions



By Lattelady

Ch 4 - Bargaining - Rachel

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"So, if you can escape these lands of darkness and see the lovely stars on your return, when you repeat with pleasure, ‘I was there,’ be sure that you remember us to men.” - From The Divine Comedy Of Dante Alighieri – Inferno – Canto XVI

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Jacob’s fingers moved further up Rachel’s calf until he found the source of her pain. He dug deeply into the cramp, applying slow, intense pressure, fingers moving in a steady circle.

“Yes,” she gasped. “Right…right…there…ohhhhh...yessss…” Air swished out of her lungs. She threw her head back, caught by surprise when the sharp, twisting agony in her lower leg shot off the scales and then lessened as it was massaged away to a dull, twitching ache by strong warm hands. Exhausted from her struggle, she slumped, panting, against the raised head of her bed. Her lungs had been about to burst, and she hadn’t realized she’d been holding her breath.

“Sorry, that…ah…was…unexpected.” Her eyes fluttered open and she noticed Hood was looking at her with an odd expression and pink tinged cheeks. “What…what?”

“Ahhh…nothing.” He tried to bring himself back into the moment, but her cry was still ringing in his ears and he wondered if that was what she sounded like under more... pleasant circumstances.

“You’ve got that expression again, like you’re thinking really hard about something, but we don’t have any bad guys to catch or mysteries to solve.”

“I…ah…was just wondering if you might want to revisit the idea of narcotics, at least for a few more days.” It was the only thing he could think of to say that wouldn’t embarrass them both, especially when she sat there looking flushed and…and…sated.

“No, no, I’m fine, really.” She hesitated and took a moment to mentally acknowledge the bargain she’d struck with the physical therapy gods. They’d kept her from crying while Jacob was around, now she had to keep up her end. “My muscles aren’t used to being immobilized in that brace most of the day. I’ve had a little trouble with cramping in my calf,” she admitted, knowing she had to give him some reason or he’d go digging for information on his own. “Thanks for helping.”

“My plea—your welcome,” he quickly corrected and deflected the conversation away from him. “Rachel, you’re pushing yourself and not taking proper precautions.” He knew he sounded lame, but he was still caught up in what had happened moments earlier. When had he begun touching her? When had he begun wanting to do more than touch her? He searched deeply for the guilt he should feel and strangely there was none. That knowledge gave him a pang of anxiety that sent his mind spinning in directions he had no intentions of exploring.

“I’m not overworking. I need to push to get back on my feet. But in order to do that, I need a clear head. If this were happening in my thigh, then I’d have to stick with the stronger meds, my incision is still too sore, but it isn’t, so I can deal with it,” she argued, sure he was still seeing her as weak. “I’m fine.” She reached for the fasteners on her brace, determined to seem competent, controlled, and on the mend.

“Have you looked in a mirror recently?” Hood’s voice oozed skepticism, as he stared her down while she cinched the Velcro straps until her right leg was once again immobile.

“Yes I have!" she answered defensively, fully aware of the bruise-dark shadows under her eyes. "I have fair skin, that’s all. You’re just not used to seeing me without make-up,” Rachel countered. She knew exactly how he looked when he hadn’t shaved or slept for three days and all he’d done was shower before they met in one room or the other for a quick meal prior to heading their separate ways to get some sleep. But she conveniently chose to forget what she’d looked like sitting across the table from him, with damp, freshly washed hair and scrubbed face on those nights.

“Riiight,” the word slid over his tongue, dripping sarcasm, though he didn’t push the point. He wasn’t convinced she was doing that well, or making the wisest decisions, but he had a more important issue to bring up and he’d learned with Rachel, it was best to choose his battles.

Ignoring his obvious doubts, she looked pointedly at his hands where one encased her ankle and the other, the arch of her foot. “You can let go now.”

“I was…ah…going to try one more thing.” In an attempt to look liked he’d planned it all along, he flexed her foot, gently supporting and pressing at the same time. The action stretched the back of her leg. “How’s that?”

“Oh, yeah, that works.” She breathed deeply as muscles from ankle to hip responded and relaxed. The movement was exactly like one of the exercises she’d been prescribed by PT, and much easier when she had help. “Ohhh...” she sighed, when he did it again. To gain maximum benefit from the stretch, she folded at the waist, until her forehead touched her knee. Rachel felt a gentle relaxing pull all the way up into her hip. It was the best her leg had felt all day.

As he flexed her foot one more time, he brushed his thumb across her brightly painted red toenails. Jacob wondered if that shadowy man from her past had liked the incongruity of tough Agent Young wearing something so blatantly feminine. Was that why she wore it or did it simply please the woman under the FBI Badge?

Still folded over her leg, Rachel looked up, straight into deep hazel eyes that were lost in thought. “Jacob, are you okay?” When he didn’t respond, she reached out her arms and wrapped her hands around his. “Hey, Rachel to Planet Hood,” she tried to get his attention, again.

“Yeah, yeah, sorry, what did you say?” He blinked and quickly let go of her foot giving her fingers an awkward squeeze as he pulled away.

“You kinda went MIA there for a moment.” She walked her hands back up the mattress until she was sitting, leaning against her pillow. A tiny piece of her was proud she was still so agile. She hadn’t been to a yoga class in ages and hadn’t attended regularly since she was assigned to Hood.

“I was just…” he patted his pockets, looking for something, anything to explain his monetary loss of concentration. When his fingers brushed against soft, bumpy, plastic, he was filled with relief. “I’ve got these for you.” He pulled out the bag containing her jewelry. “Sorry, your badge and ID are still at my sister’s house with your purse. I meant to bring them, but in my rush to get out of there yesterday, I only grabbed your keys so I could get your travel case last night. I’ll bring them with me tomorrow.”

“Well that confirms it.” She grinned and reached in to retrieve her earrings and watch from their nest of two hopelessly tangle gold chains

“What?” Jacob frowned as she put the diamonds back in her ears.

“The nurse from the Emergency Department stopped by to visit me today and she told me she’d given my valuables to my husband. My hospital ID bracelet has my own name on it, so until one of you guys fessed-up, I didn’t know if I was Mrs. Lee or Mrs. Hood.” From what Carl, her night nurse, had said, she was fairly certain it was Hood, but the thought gave her a funny feeling in her stomach.

“Actually, I was Mr. Young,” he answered, trying not to let his voice break as he remembered standing helplessly outside the trauma room.

“You’re kidding?” she giggled until she saw the distressed look on his face and realized the gravity of what he must have felt. “I’m sorry, Jacob,” Rachel gasped, finally understanding what had been niggling at her since she’d learned that someone, most likely Hood, was thought to be her husband. Complete strangers had placed her in the spot that should belong solely to Maggie Hood. She read pain and sorrow in his eyes. “I don’t understand why you went through the masquerade. I’d never…I mean…I’m not and would never pretend to be...I’m sorry…” She nibbled her lower lip, confused by the intense loneliness that swept over her.

“It’s all right.” He smiled as best he could when caught somewhere between the reality of losing Maggie and the almost of Rachel bleeding to death. “My wife never used my name. She was a mathematician and widely published in her own right before we married. It wasn’t practical for her to change it.” At the time it hadn’t bothered him, and he wondered why all of the sudden it did.

“As to why I did it, it’s simple.” He shrugged and hoped she’d understand. “I never told them who I was, they just assumed. I let them, because as your spouse, I was allowed in after visiting hours and given information that they wouldn’t have given to me otherwise. I didn’t mean to invade your privacy. I--just—needed—to--know.” Even now he didn’t understand why he’d done it, and was still doing it. That morning, like the one before, he’d had no qualms about calling the nursing station for a full report on her night.

“No apology necessary.” She was deeply touched by what he’d done. “I gave you my medical card for a reason.” It had been after she’d been caught in a particularly nasty bomb blast. A well placed trash dumpster was all that had stood between her and a bad concussion. She’d walked away from that one, with only bruises and abrasions, but she could have ended up unconscious in a Chicago hospital. “There’s a spot on the back of the card to indicate emergency contacts. I’ll have your name put there, if you like. It’ll give you the same rights without having to…ah…pretend.”

“I’d like that.” Hood couldn’t verbalize what had driven him to continue the charade but he was glad he had, since according to the nursing staff, he was her sole visitor. It bothered him that none of her family was with her. Felix had explained that Rachel had specifically asked her friends and colleagues from the Bureau to wait to visit until she was better able to get around. Lee, like many others, had sent flowers but he’d also followed up with well wishes and messages brought by Hood.

Jacob thought about his medical card with Alex’s name on the back and wondered if maybe that needed to be changed. “Would it be all right if I put your name on mine? If that call ever has to be made to my sister, I’d really rather it wasn’t some stranger on the other end of the phone.” He knew he was asking a lot, but he also knew he was about to ask even more of her.

“Ah…wouldn’t Director Fuller be a better choice?” She couldn’t tell him that the odds of her surviving him on the job were almost nil. If she opened that can of worms it was likely he’d be telling her she was free to take another assignment - nice knowing you, Rachel.

“Frank isn’t exactly her favorite person since I took this job, but she likes you.” He smiled gently.

“That’s nice to know, I like her too.” Rachel was pleased at the compliment. She’d only met Alex Hood a few times. She’d discovered Alex was as complex, in her own way, as her brother. “If it’s what you really want, then it’s fine with me.” She didn’t consider it a lie, just another way of protecting him, even if it was his peace of mind and not his physical being.

“Okay then, I’ll get the paperwork started and you do the same.” Hood was relieved. His sister and his nephew where all the family he had left. The more he thought about the idea, the better he liked it. He trusted Rachel and knew that even if she were assigned to someone else’s detail, she would see Alex and Owen through that difficult time.

“Felix will know who to contact to get it taken care of.” She leaned forward and checked the straps on her brace. “Now, how about those last three laps you promised me?”

“Are you sure they’re such a good idea?” His brow rose and he eyed the length of her leg. It was too easy to remember the pain she’d been in and he had no doubt it had been caused by her protracted exercise just before he arrived.

“A deal is a deal. I lived up to my part of the bargain. I expect you to do the same.” She crossed her arms stubbornly. “Though if you don’t want to join me, I can always do it on my own.”

“And you would too, wouldn’t you?” He wasn’t pleased, but he’d promised. “All right, but before we do this, there is something I need to talk to you about.”

“Yes…” She froze. The last time he’d said that he’d tried to replace her.

“As of midnight tonight, I’m officially returned to active status. I could be called away at a moment’s notice.” He wasn’t telling her anything she didn’t know. It was the life she’d lived for more than a year. “How soon do you get out of here?”

“If my physical therapy goes as well as it has so far, and I don’t develop another fever, I’m outta here the day after tomorrow.” She knew the doctors were watching her carefully for infection. The bolt had been in her leg for almost twenty-four hours and it had created a deep narrow wound that had needed to be opened further to be cleaned and debrided. She’d also required repair to a small vessel branching off the femoral artery. If she’d been hit a few millimeters in a different direction, she really would have bled to death, probably in less than an hour after being shot.

“You live in a two story walk-up.” He nodded toward her crutches.

“I’ll manage---” Rachel was determined to get out of there. She hated being in the hospital where there was someone always watching and listening. It went against all her training to allow herself to be so open and accessible.

“I’m sure you would, but I need a favor---” He interrupted, but she interrupted him in return.

“Is this another one of your bargains?” She was beginning to feel closed in and panicky. There was anger and fear just below the surface. Rachel knew she couldn’t let him see the fear, so she hid behind anger.

“No,” his voice was strained. He wished like hell he had someway of making her do what he wanted, but he was all out of ideas. For his own sanity, he had to know that she was getting well and making good progress. There was only one way of doing that, if he was out of town on a case.

“What are you getting at, Hood?”

“You know my sister is a glass artist?” He watched as Rachel nodded. “She has an important show coming up at the beginning of September. The woman who usually helps her out with her son had an illness in the family and will be out of town for the next few months. Alex was wondering if you’d be willing to recuperate at her house. It would be good for both of you. There would be another adult around for Owen, so she could spend the time she needs in her studio and you’d have all that space for getting back up to speed. There’s a bedroom with its own full bath on the main floor so you don’t have to worry about stairs.”

“I love that old house of hers, but it’s a good distance out. I’m going to need physical therapy and won’t be driving for a while. I don’t think it’ll work.” It was an enticing offer. She would have loved to spend the bulk of April and as much of May as possible on the shore of the Chesapeake, but regular PT was the key to getting back to her job of protecting Jacob Hood.

“Alex’s closest neighbors are Eric and Mary Pressman. They’re physical therapists at the Rehab Center of Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore. My sister talked to them about your injury and the Pressmans will see that you get daily sessions. The hours may be a bit odd, since they commute, but between the two of them, they’ve got you covered.”

“My insurance isn’t going to pay for daily in-home therapy.” Rachel argued. As much as she’d like to accept Hood’s offer, she wasn’t sure it was the wisest thing to do.

“They said they’d take what your insurance pays and you’re not to worry about it.” He could see her distress and explained further. “When the Pressmans bought their house and were remodeling, my sister repaired and redid most of their leaded glass and three stained glass windows. She only charged them for the materials. They feel they owe her. This show is a big deal for Alex. It’s their way of paying her back.”

“You’re sure it’s okay with your sister?”

“Rachel, stop being so stubborn. It was her idea. She really does need another adult around. She converted the old icehouse on the edge of the property into her studio. It takes three different furnaces to blow and work glass. The area is off limits to Owen at all times. He’ll be in school during the day until the beginning of June, but it’s hard for her to simply drop everything at three o’clock and turn into a mom again.”

As much as Jacob had wanted to ask for Alex’s help, he hadn’t because he knew how hectic her schedule was going to be during the summer. She was getting ready for her first major show and was the single mother of an eight-year-old boy. It had been a relief when she’d offered. “If it’ll make you feel better, you can have your doctor check with the Pressmans.”

“I appreciate the invitation. The days are already getting warm and it won’t be long before it’s hot and muggy in the city. I’ll be in touch with them tomorrow and let you know for sure.” She was almost positive she was going to take Alex up on her offer, unless there were problems regarding the therapy program or…or…she was able to figure out why the thought of spending time in his sister’s home made her uneasy.

“That reminds me. When I saw McGruder today, he wanted me to give you this.” Jacob pulled a cell phone out of his jacket pocket. “Your old one is in the evidence locker. Felix transferred all your data and I added Alex’s number along with the Pressmans’, so you should have everything you need.”

“Thank Felix for me and the Iceman when you see him next.…” Rachel hesitated. She wasn’t used to asking for help. “Ah…Hood, would you do me a favor?” She picked up the plastic bag that contained the two gold chains she’d been wearing when she was shot. “Would you take these with you…I don’t know, leave them at your sister’s, or whatever is easiest. They belonged to my mom and starting tomorrow I’ll be going to physical therapy instead of them coming to me, so I’ll be out of my room a lot. I want to be sure they’re safe.”

“I’ll take care of them for you.” He put them back into his inner breast pocket, glad to have something of her with him again.

“Now, how about those last three laps.” She shifted until her legs were over the side of the bed and began working her slipper onto her left foot. Hood just sighed and handed her the crutches.
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Jacob was careful to keep the pace slow and stay close to Rachel in case of mishaps. Much to her distress and his amusement, he kept his right hand an inch from her lower back, fingers brushing her shirt each time her crutches and the toes of her injured leg had to bear her weight.

“I’m not going to fall, you know.” She glared at him over her shoulder. They were nearing the elevators on their last lap. Rachel ground her teeth and wondered what in the world had happened to the mildly confused scientist she was used to dealing with. This version of Jacob Hood was far too observant for her peace of mind.

“No, you are not.” His reply should have reassured her, but the way he said it gave his words an entirely different meaning than hers.

“Stop right there. This isn’t going to work.” She halted her jerky forward motion, turned and pressed her back against the wall. Her balance was precarious, but she gripped the handholds of her crutches until her knuckles turned white to stay upright. “We’re not going to work like this.”

“What are you talking about, Rachel.” Hood faced her, brushing his hands through her hair, pushing it off her face and tilting her chin upward.

“I was right earlier. You see me as damaged. You’ve been protecting me, but it’s my job to protect you.” She swallowed back the lump in her throat and blinked quickly to push back tears. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. She was the tough agent and he was the one in need of help.

“You’re hurt, not damaged. Give yourself time--”

“But--”

“No.” He stroked his thumb across her lips and earned himself a glare. “As much as you resent it, right now, it isn’t your job to protect me. Felix has been my constant shadow and as of midnight Carson Dilworth officially joins the team.” Jacob wasn’t sure he had this part of it straight in his mind, but he was going to try and explain it anyway. “These last few days, I’ve been keeping a close eye on Rachel, not Special Agent Young. She can damn well take care of herself.”

“But that’s who I am,” she protested.

“No, Rachel, you’re much more than that.” He studied her carefully. He could tell she was struggling with the concept.

The elevator doors opened a few feet away spilling out nurses for change of shift.

“Hey, Mr. Young, Rachel,” Carl, her night nurse greeted them. He couldn’t help smiling at the couple that was cuddling in the hallway. He was tempted to suggest they get a room but since he’d dreaded that very scenario and all it implied since the first night she’d been admitted, he kept his ideas to himself.

“Did you see the way he looked at us?” She watched Carl’s back as he headed toward the Nurses’ Station. Her lips began to twitch. “Have you been putting up with that for three nights?”

“Well there was one moment last night when I thought he was going to give me a lecture on neglect, because I hadn’t been in since the morning.”

“Oh, this really is too funny.” She gave up the battle and giggled. “If he only knew the truth…”

“Are you sure you’re off the narcotics?” Hood threaded his fingers deeper into her hair so he had a clear view of her eyes. They looked black with a tiny ring of blue around large dilated pupils.

“My last dose was at nine this morning. It was either take them or go without pain medication until they could get new orders and meds. Why do you ask?”

“You’ve been giggling on and off all night…it’s…ah...different.” He grinned as she frowned. “I hate to be the one to tell you but the drugs are still in your system.” At least now he knew the cause of her mood swings all evening.

“I haven’t been giggling,” she denied. “That makes me sound like some ditsy blonde.”

“If you say so, though I’d never call you ditzy.” He ignored her argumentative glare and discreetly helped her get turned in the direction they’d been headed.

Both were relieved that the nurse had innocently broken up a conversation that was taking them places neither was ready for yet. Instead of talking, they continued on their way, arriving back in her room half an hour after they had left it. Rachel headed for her suitcase that was sitting on its side on a table.

“I never thanked you for getting this for me or for bringing dinner.” She dug through neatly folded clothes. “All I asked for was the bag that I always keep half-packed, but you knew enough to add a few extras.” She thought of her shampoo, lotion and flat iron that had been in her bathroom and two pairs of sleep pants and some t-shirts that had been folded in her laundry basket ready to go in either her drawers or luggage, depending on how soon they were called out of DC again. “I guess we really do live in each other’s pockets when we travel.” It was the only explanation she could think of for him knowing her so well.

“Your welcome. Your extra clothes were right there and I figured you’d had enough of the smell of hospitals and would want your own things.” He shrugged. “And dinner, well it was my turn to buy.” It had become a habit, on their first night back in DC, to stop at Cavalarie’s, a small hole in the wall Italian restaurant down the block from Hood’s apartment. Five nights earlier their plane had been delayed by a huge weather front that had backed up air traffic for hundreds of miles in all directions. By the time they’d landed, everything was closed. The following night had been the interrupted dinner meeting with Ray Wynne.

“Well, I appreciate all the trouble you’ve gone to.”

“It was no trouble. I had to eat tonight too and the smell of chemicals from institutional soap gets old fast.” He came up behind her and laid his hand on her shoulder, taking a moment to inhale the subtle scent of almonds that clung to her hair. It reminded him of some of life’s simple pleasures: his grandmother’s coffeecake, Christmas cookies, and sleeping on airplanes with Rachel Young.

“Go ahead and get changed.” He nodded toward the bathroom. “Can you do it by yourself or should I ring for your nurse to help you?” He moved back to her bed making himself comfortable and it clear he wasn’t taking any chances of her heading back out into the hall for more exercise.

“No, no I’ll be fine.” While she gathered a few items from her case, she realized he probably had a good reason to dislike the smell of hospitals. He had to associate it with cancer, death and intense loss.
.......................................................

After she’d exchanged shorts for clean sleep pants and her ratty yellow sweatshirt for a shirt, Jacob was conscious of how much slower she moved on her way back from the bathroom. “It’s time you got some sleep.” He helped her into bed and left her crutches where she could easily reach them if she needed to get up in the night.

“I will, soon, but I’m not quite ready to yet. Thanks for the very interesting story over dinner.” She chuckled determined not to let it slip into the giggle that was bubbling up in her throat. “You’ve got quite an imagination hidden in that serious brain of yours.”
She’d been extremely entertained when she’d listened to him talk about The Bourbon and Scotch Club.

“You still don’t believe me.” He leaned down and brushed aside a lock of blonde hair that was still damp from when she’d washed her face.

“Nope, but it was a good try.”

“Well try this.” He sat on the side of her bed, his hip warm against hers. “You know McGruder’s wife.”

“Here we go again.” She rolled her eyes. Fun was fun but he was carrying it too far. “The Iceman was married to the Corp and now he’s married to the EPD. You’re imagining things. I’d remember if I’d met his wife.”

“He may have been married to the Marines and he may have started out married to the EPD, but if that’s the case, there’s been a divorce, ‘cause he’s married to Jen now. I don’t think she uses his last name at work, or I would have heard it, but she used McGruder when I met her the first time.” For one quick moment he wondered why Maggie and he hadn’t thought of that solution when they’d gotten married. She could have used one name professionally and another personally.

“That doesn’t prove a thing.” Rachel challenged.

“She works at The Hoover Building a few days a week and you know her. I’ve seen you talking to her, you and Felix both. The three of you had quite a long conversation by the elevators outside of McGruder’s office. It was the day after we returned from Philadelphia. You remember, we’d been investigating those deaths that appeared random until we realized all the people involved had passed through the same subway station at about the same time.”

“Was that the case where Felix had to use deadly force for the first time?” Rachel felt suddenly sick inside.

“Yeah.”

“The woman you’re talking about, is she petite, with curly dark blonde hair and grey eyes that look like they see everything?” ‘Please say no, please say no,’ she silently begged.

“I don’t know about the eyes, but the rest sounds like her.”

“Damn, damn, that’s Jennifer Kirkwood, Dr. Jennifer Kirkwood. She’s a Bureau psychiatrist. She has to sign off on me before I can be certified fit for duty, once all the physical stuff is cleared away. You’re telling me she’s married to my boss?! Damn!”

“Ouch.” Hood had never believed in talk therapy, not that he believed in pills. The secret, for him, was to get on with life no matter what.

“You’re not much help!" Rachel snapped, but quickly softened. "But thanks for tonight, it was nice, up until about a minute ago.” She smiled dejectedly, trying to remember if Dr. Kirkwood had been wearing a ring the day she’d introduced Felix to her.

“It was nice,” he agreed. “But I could have done without finding you up and wandering the corridors all by yourself, when I first arrived.”

“That’s just something you’re going to have to get over.” Rachel wasn’t going there again. Her mind was too occupied with other matters. “I know we’ve been out of town a lot the last year and a half, but someone should have said something. I mean, McGruder is a legend. I just don’t understand how I missed that he’d married the Bureau psychiatrist. If nothing else, it’s fodder for some incredible jokes, but not a peep out of anyone.”

“Maybe they’re simply discreet at work. Ty McGruder doesn’t seem like the type to appreciate gossip.” His lips twitched and his eyes sparkled, ruining his serious expression.

“No one is that discreet, unless they’re dead.” She giggled, quickly covering her mouth. “Sorry, I guess you were right about the narcotics.”

“You need to get some sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow, unless…” he didn’t finish, simply squeezed her hand.

“Yeah, unless…” She nibbled on her lip, hating to let him go with the possibility that he might be heading out on a case without her. “Just in case, take care.” She watched him nod in reply and leave the room.

Rachel waited five minutes to be sure he wouldn’t be back and then pushed back the covers, took off her brace, and began the painful stretching exercises she’d neglected earlier in the evening. She couldn’t have done them in front of him, even though she’d paid the price when her leg cramped. But this time, she had to do them. She’d made a bargain.

It took her half an hour and by the time she was done, tears ran down her face. Her reward was that her right knee was no longer stiff from being immobilized so long and her muscles were warm and supple. She put the brace back on for protection while she slept and curled her body around a mound of pillows as the tears dried. As an afterthought she reached for her new cell phone and plunked in a number. It was only a little after ten and she knew that he always stayed up to watch the eleven o’clock news. DC and Sanibel Island, Florida were in the Eastern Time Zone, so she didn’t have to worry about disturbing his routine.

“Young, here,” the crisp male voice answered on the third ring.

“Daddy, it’s Rachel.” She’d been putting off the call for as long as she could. It was better he hear from her, instead of one of his old cronies, that she’d been injured.

“Rachel, is everything all right?” They didn’t talk often, especially since she’d been given what he thought of as ‘the idiotic assignment of babysitting that scientist’. Jonathan Young believed the Bureau was being run by a bunch of pantywaists these days.

“I…ah…was wounded on the job. It isn’t anything much, but I didn’t want you hearing it from someone else. There’s not a lot I can tell you, the case is classified.” She sure hoped it was. The less her father knew about her involvement with Ray Wynne’s professional demise, the better.

“Your protectee come out of it in one piece?”

“Yes, definitely.” Rachel knew that no matter what her dad thought of Dr. Jacob Hood, to allow him to be harmed in the slightest would have been to fail. Failure was not tolerated in the Young household.

“Good, that’s as it should be. Now maybe that ex-Jarhead Director Fuller brought in to run your detail will realize your worth and move you on up the ladder, or at the very least to someone more important.”

“Dad, I’m not having that conversation with you but I will remind you that Director Fuller is an ex-Marine, too. I doubt he would appreciate the term ‘Jarhead’ anymore than I do.” Rachel was beyond tired and wondered why she had bothered making the call. Father – daughter relations had never been the best, no matter how hard she tried to make up for not being the boy he’d wanted. “I expect you to treat my Detail Chief, Lt. Col. Tyler C. McGruder, Retired, with respect in all matters.”

“Well in that case,” he huffed. It made his stomach burn to think that Rachel was piddling away her career following after some nerd. She was good, even if she was a girl. “Is there anything you need?” He was really asking if she needed him, but wasn’t capable of saying those words.

“I’ve got it covered, but thanks for asking.” It had seemed like from the time her mother had died, when Rachel was ten years old, Jonathan had tried to teach her that needing made you weak.

“All right then, good-night, Rachel.” He was relieved he could get on with his life. He’d never really understood his daughter, but he’d tried, he really had. “Glad you’re okay.”

“’Night, Dad.” She pressed the button to end the call.

Wiping her eyes against her pillow, she lay on her side with her right leg safely in its brace and her left knee drawn up and thrown over the pillow in her arms. It was the way she’d leaned to sleep as a child. Brave children didn’t sleep with teddy bears or stuffed animals. Unbeknownst to Jonathan Young, Rachel had substituted a pillow. It was something she still did when she was worried or very tired. Old habits died hard.

As she was drifting off to sleep she thought about Jacob and the strange conversation they’d been having in the hall when Carl had interrupted them. Jacob had said….she froze at the thought. She was thinking of Hood as Jacob…no wait…she thought back over the evening. She wasn’t always thinking of him by is first name, just some of the time. Was he right? Had being shot cracked her in two? She’d worked so hard to be Agent Young and leave all the rest behind her. “Damn, damn,” she whispered.
.......................................................

At 3 AM Rachel woke to gentle vibrating in her left hand. She’d fallen asleep still holding her cell. She had a text message from Jacob---no---she had a text message from Hood.

Heading to Duluth. Felix and Dilly R with me. Call Alex.
Take care of yourself.
Jacob

She stared at the words as they blurred and cleared and then blurred once again. It took her a moment to realize her eyes were filling with tears. Damn, she wanted to be on that plane with them.

She’d lost count of the late night or middle of the night flights she and Hood had taken, but it was always the same. Sleepy people with hushed voices scattered throughout the cabin. She and Jacob sitting side-by-side quietly discussing what they knew about the case. In recent months, Felix Lee had joined them in the seat across the aisle.

If their flight was long enough or their case information scant enough, she usually slept after they took off. More often than not she’d waken with her cheek pressed against the scratchy fabric of Hood’s jacket. On the rare occasions they were both tired enough to sleep, she’d find his head pressed lightly against hers and his breath ruffling through her hair. It was one of the many little things between them that they chose to ignore.

“Be safe, guys,” she whispered, wishing she could trade the soft cotton of her pillowcase for the English wool of a familiar sport coat. It wasn’t until she was falling back to sleep that her mind cleared and she realized what she’d really meant to say. “Keep him safe and I’ll give up what ever it takes,” she was never sure who or what she was trying to bargain with, or even if the words were simply thoughts. All she was certain about was that they were true.


To Ch 5 - Depression - Interludes

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Quotes

The moving finger writes: and having writ Moves on. nor all your piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancal half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it...The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

If I quiet the voices in my head, I would face the day with nothing to write. - Unknown

I must go down to the seas again the lonely sea and sky...J Masefield

Cinderella walked on broken glass,
Sleeping beauty let a whole lifetime pass.
Belle fell in love with a hideous beast,
Jasmine married a common thief.
Ariel walked on land for love and life,
Snow white barely escaped a knife.
It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
Because love means facing your biggest fears


The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of...French Proverb

I have drempt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after. They've gone through me like wine through water and altered the colour of my mind ...E. Bronte

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage...Lao Tzu

It takes chaos to give birth to a dancing star ..F. Nietzsche

How many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true? But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face...Yeats

Let us go, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky...T. S. Eliot

In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter, that is the day when I first met you, appears the words, "here begins a new life".
La Vita Nuova

Midnight courage of the heart...Jen Kirkwood

The three o-clock in the morning courage which Bonaparte thought was the rarest...Thoreau

Did you say it? I love you; I don't ever want to live without you; you changed my life. Did you say it?
Make a plan, set a goal, work toward it, but every now and then, look around, drink it in, 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow. - Meredith Grey

Shakespeare is easy, life is hard...Wheels

Don't try to be a great man, just be a man. Let history make up its own mind...Z.Cochron

I had a job to do and I was unafraid...Jack to John Creighton

For I dipt into the future, as far as the human eye could see. Saw the vision of the world, and the wonders that can be...RWW Hipwell

Without diviation from the norm, progress is impossible...F. Zappa

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar...E Lear

Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea, Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea! Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon and blow, Blow him again to me;... Tennison

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn... Keats

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