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Disclaimer : See chapter 1
Rating : PG-13
Credits : The movie that Rachel and Owen and later Rachel and Jacob watch is Time Machine. It is the 1960 version. I own a copy of the DVD, but not the movie. I found some interesting parallels, as did Owen.
Note : Sorry it took so long to write this chapter. I wanted to include a conversation between Rachel and Alex in this story, but as I began writing it, I realized that Rachel isn’t a woman who would do ‘girl talk’ with Hood’s sister. It took me a long time to get it right.

Previous Chapters : Ch 1 - Denial ; Ch 2 - Anger ; Ch 3 - Bargaining - Jacob ; Ch 4 - Bargaining - Rachel ; Ch 5 - Depression - Interludes ; Ch 6 - Depression - Jacob

Therapy Sessions

By Lattelady

Ch 7 – Depression – Rachel

And when, with this, his words were at an end, the flame departed, sorrowing and writhing and tossing its sharp horn. - From The Divine Comedy Of Dante Alighieri – Inferno – Canto XXVII

April 26, 2009 (Sunday) – Deale, Maryland – 6:30 AM (CDT)
“Good morning,” Alex Hood walked into the kitchen and headed straight for the coffee maker. Her hair was wet from the shower and she looked tired, but she moved with fluid grace that spoke of deep satisfaction. “Thanks for making this.” She held the pot in the air and grinned at the blonde agent slumped in her seat at the breakfast bar. “I could get used to service like that.”

“You’re welcome...needed caffeine...now,” Rachel mumbled and stretched her neck and right arm, working kinks out of stiff muscles. She’d spent the night unconsciously trying to keep her cell phone pressed against her ear as she slept. It left her feeling like she’d been tied in knots.

“Bad night?”

“Not really, I slept well for once.” It was useless trying to hide her nightmares from Alex when they were living in the same house. “Just can’t seem to wake up.” She blinked groggily at the older woman and rested her elbows on the counter. “I’m a bit stiff, but nothing PT won’t torture out of me later.” She’d fallen asleep talking to Ja—Hood, listening to him breathe. She’d probably still be asleep if her cell battery hadn’t died. She’d woken to an incessant beep that warned her to either turn off the device or charge it. She’d chosen the latter. “I didn’t hear you come in last night, but you look very pleased with yourself. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you had a hot date.” She deliberately directed the conversation away from herself.

“It was hot all right,” Alex laughed. “Even though my studio is well vented and the furnaces insulated, it can get up to 110℉.”

“If you ever get bored, you could hold Bikram yoga classes in there.”

“Yoga, hmm, somehow I pictured you more of the martial arts kinda woman.” Alex put two English muffins in the toaster. Rachel hadn’t been eating well and she was determined to change that.

“Bikram isn’t for sissies. Ninety minutes of twenty-one poses that work core muscles and it’s done in a room that is 105℉.” The agent shot back and then added wistfully, “Not that I get the chance to go to classes much anymore.”

“I’ll bet we could find a studio around here that offers it. Once you get the okay from your doctor, let’s do it.” She pulled the muffins out of the toaster, buttered them and then sprinkled one with cinnamon and spread honey on the other.

“You’d really want to?” Rachel took a bite of cinnamon covered English muffin and chewed slowly. She wasn’t very hungry, but she knew she had to eat.

“Sure, I’d like to try it.” Alex poured them each some orange juice before moving to the other side of the breakfast bar. “The heat shouldn’t be a problem since I work in high temperatures everyday. I’m fairly strong, but my agility sucks. I envy the way you’re able to move, even after being shot, having surgery and spending time in the hospital.”

“But I still have so far to go,” her voice broke and Rachel bit her lip. It was hard, she didn’t know who she was anymore. Gone was the strong FBI agent who could do anything she set her mind to. In her place was this woman who was confused and alone.

“You’re doing great. Everyday you’re making progress.”

“Sorry, it just gets to me sometimes.” She felt hollowed out and isolated, even with Jacob’s sister in the same room. To hide it she straightened her back and carefully sipped her coffee. She’d remade herself before and could do it again, if necessary. “You’ve been wonderful to have me here. I’ll never be able to thank you enough.”

“Rachel, I’m the one who owes you. You could ask anything and I’d do it for you. You’ve had my brother’s back for the last eighteen months. I know it can’t have been easy. He isn’t an easy man to get along with, but for some reason you stayed when all the others couldn’t be bothered putting up with him. For that you’re welcome here anytime, under any circumstances.”

“Alex, you understand that I didn’t take the bolt for him?” Rachel met hazel eyes that were very familiar but very different from the ones she was used to looking into. “He was hundreds of feet away and out of sight.”

“I know, he told me.” She smiled sadly. “But you did make sure he was out of danger before you went chasing that woman. You always make sure he’s out of harm’s way. I see you doing the same thing for Owen and by extension, me. You’ve got that cell phone practically glued to your hand.” She nodded toward the counter where Rachel’s cell was charging. “My ‘Owen only’ number hasn’t rung once since you’ve been here. My son calls you if he needs anything and I can work and not worry about him. I know my two men are taken care of because of you.”

“Ahhh...ahhh…” Rachel wasn’t sure what to say. Her insides felt like they were breaking up. She wasn’t used to people showing such gratitude for simply doing her job. “Ahh shucks ma’am, it’s all part of the service,” she tried to do her dad’s John Wayne imitation, but it sounded shaky and unsure even to her ears. She took a deep breath and changed tactics. “Why don’t you tell me about what you were working on last night, before I ruin my superwoman image and end up balling like a girl.”

“Okay, I’m always happy to talk about my work.” Alex grinned, relieved that she’d finally been able to tell the agent how much she appreciated her. “I made the most incredible piece. It’s the first in a two part series. I’d show it to you but it’ll be at least another day before it’s done in my lehr….that’s a special furnace for evenly controlled cooling,” she added for Rachel’s benefit. “I’ve got the second one all planned and the materials ready. Getting the proper mix of colors took me forever, I couldn’t get it right...but finally…” She paused and shook her head. “Sorry when I get like that it’s best to tune me out, but you did ask. Bottom line, I’d still be working if my hands hadn’t started to shake. Adrenaline will get you just so far and then it becomes a hazard when doing detailed work, but I suspect that’s true in your profession too.”

“Yeah, it is…” Rachel was interrupted when her cell began vibrating on the counter. She took one look at the callback number and sent it straight to voicemail. “What you do is fascinating.” She carried on as if nothing had happened. “Where do you get your ideas?”

“You know, you’re going to have to talk to him sooner-or-later.” Alex nodded toward the phone. “Why not make it easier on both of you and do it now.” She had seen the blonde agent screening her calls all week and had been the unhappy recipient of a number of frustrated voice mails and texts from her brother. “Jacob isn’t used to being unable to reach you.”

“That wasn’t Jake,” Rachel looked deep into her coffee, unaware that she’d used the nickname that only his sister and she used. “It was my father. He likes to dispense, what he calls, pearls of wisdom after his morning run. I’m not up for his particular brand of parental advice this early in the morning.”

“Ahh,” the brunette slid onto a stool next to her. “So it’s just your dad that you’ve been avoiding.”

“No, yes, not exactly...”

“Rachel, you can talk to me and I won’t tell anyone, not even my brother.” She could see confusion and hurt in the agent’s deep blue eyes. They were the exact color Alex had spent hours trying to create the night before. They were the exact color of the tears that had finally flowed as molten glass from her pipe as she blew and turned and reheated and blew again, until she’d given life to the heart of Sorrow. It was a magnificent piece. Crystal-clear glass, eighteen inches high with a delicate slightly curved silhouette that was feminine and yet strong. Bubbling up from the center was a well of blue the color of Rachel’s eyes when she refused to let herself cry. It rose until it overflowed causing droplets to slowly slide downward, teardrops caught forever, finally allowed to fall.

“I haven’t been taking his calls because there was nothing I could do while he’s so far away and I’m here. I can’t help him. I know you think I take care of him, but that was before.” She groped for words that would make sense of why she’d been avoiding him. “Jak-Hood has to get used to working with Carson Dilworth. I’ll be back, but until I learn to compensate for the nerve and muscle damage to my thigh, he isn’t safe with me as his bodyguard.”

“That explains your nightmares, at least some of them.” Alex rested her hand gently on Rachel’s shoulder.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Young stared defiantly at Hood’s sister. It was one thing to have someone know her bad dreams existed but it took it to a whole new level if she was expected to discuss them.

“Sometimes at night, when I’m up late, I hear you call out his name. You’re telling him to get down, or run, or get behind you.” Her eyes filled with tears knowing that this slim woman would do about anything to protect Jacob.

“You don’t understand,” the agent gasped, unable to pretend any longer. “In those dreams I’m not fast enough, or strong enough or good enough at my job and it puts him in danger.” She covered her face with her hands. “Sometimes it’s more than danger, sometimes I can’t even warn him in time.”

“I thought as much.” Alex ran her hand up and down Rachel’s arm, giving the only comfort she could. “All the more reason you need to talk to him. Then you’ll know he’s all right and you can concentrate on getting faster, stronger and better. Besides, I don’t think he’s been calling his handier slash bodyguard. I think my brother has wanted to speak to his friend. That’s something you are that Dilworth will never be.” She challenged.

“I guess we are...kind of...friends,” Rachel muttered. “He isn’t as much of a pain in the ass as he used to be.”

“Kinda friends?” Alex teased, wanting to lighten the mood. “You forget I saw the lingerie he packed for you. I’d say that speaks of friendship and more.” She also remembered finding Jake in the downstairs bedroom, the one that had become his since they inherited the house. He’d gotten back from an exhausting day spent with the FBI Legal Department, followed by dinner at the hospital with Rachel. Instead of relaxing he was clearing out a dresser drawer and moving some personal things to the guest bedroom upstairs. Later, with a glass of scotch at his elbow, he’d carefully, almost lovingly; untangling two knotted and twisted gold chains. Once he’d completed his task, he’d left the jewelry on his nightstand beside an FBI badge, ID and purse. Oh yes, they were friends and then some.

“No, no you’ve got it all wrong,” Rachel gasped. Horrified at what Alex was implying. “I started packing that case the first morning we returned. He didn’t...oh my God...you’ve been thinking all this time that he...no.” She could feel herself flush as she pictured Jacob’s long strong fingers touching the silk and lace of her bras and panties.

“That’s your story and you’re sticking to it,” the dark-haired woman’s eyes sparkled over her coffee mug.

“Are you trying to cause trouble?”

“Nope, just trying to wake you up and get communication flowing again.”

Rachel frowned. “You realize I don’t do girl talk?” At least she didn’t anymore, not since she’d been told that her best friend, Nicky Parsons, had died in a fire in Tangier, two years earlier.

“Says the woman with a fondness for lacy silk undergarments and bright toenail polish hidden under her FBI black and sensible shoes.” Hood’s sister was pleased with the expression on the other woman’s face so she took it one step further. “It’s an interesting dichotomy: tough as nails on the outside yet feminine and sexy underneath. That’s got to mess with any man’s mind, even one as intelligent as Jake’s.”

“Alex,” Rachel choked on her coffee until her eyes watered. “You’re way off base.”

“Well, it would certainly explain why you’ve been dodging his calls.”

“I’m not dodging his calls...anymore. He texted me late last night, about two, our time...wanted me to call if I was awake…” She put her mug down and turned toward Alex, suddenly needing to confide in someone. “He didn’t sound good. I don’t know what I expected, but I’ve only heard him that depressed once or twice before.”

“Palo Alto has difficult memories for him.”

“I realize that, but he was spending the day with Professor Yang. His text caught me by surprise, I was sure he’d be too busy to...” She shrugged, refusing to finish the thought, remembering how the couple had looked as they’d kissed, in the shadows of the front porch light while Rachel waited in the car, guarding the house where Jacob Hood had had dinner with his old friend. It had happened five months ago, but was still sharp and clear in her mind.

“Isn’t she the one who is taking care of his dog?” Alex tried to recall what else she knew about the woman.

“That’s the one,” Rachel nodded unable to understand why the thought of Hood and Yang together was so painful, when she’d been the one to persuade Jacob to stop screening the Professor’s calls and act on them. “They’re...ah...friends.” It was all she could say.

“Yeah, in a round about way. She was Maggie’s old roommate from as far back as freshman year at Berkeley. If I remember correctly, Anna was involved with an old friend of Jake’s. That’s how my brother met his wife.”

“Professor Yang used to date Calvert Rigdon?” Rachel shivered at memories of what had happened because of the virologist. Pittsburgh and what Rigdon had done there still had the power to give her an occasional nightmare.

“Yup, that’s his name, Rigdon. Anyway, he did a great deal of traveling, though he was based out of Palo Alto because his research grant was through Stanford. When Jake first moved to California his friend was living with Yang. Maggie occupied the second bedroom in the apartment. My brother slept on their couch while he was looking for housing.”

“Hood told me. He said introducing him to his wife was Cal’s greatest accomplishment.” Rachel pulled her robe tighter around her shoulders feeling the cold that had seeped into her bones when she stood frightened and alone in that plastic room, with men dying on either side of her.

“Are you all right?” Alex rested her hand on the other woman’s wrist. For Jake to have confided in Rachel was significant. He never talked about Maggie, ever, even to her and she was his closest family.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” The blonde forced a smile onto her face as she slid off the stool, gripping the counter until she was sure her leg held her weight. She’d left her cane in her bedroom. She knew she’d need it after PT, but until then she wanted to be able to get around on her own.

“Rachel, what do you know about Anna Yang and my brother that I don’t?” Her question caught the FBI agent off guard. Alex was surprised to see a momentary flash of confusion and pain fill serious blue eyes. It said more than words ever could.

“I don’t know anything.”

“But you’ve met her?” Alex kept digging, knowing there was more than she was being told.

“I’ve met a great number people in the last year and a half--” Rachel took a deep breath and started again. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude but you have to understand that I can’t talk about any of this with you. When the FBI protects someone, they guarantee him or her confidentiality. It’s a huge part of building enough trust to be able to do the job effectively.”

“Okay, fair enough.” Alex sat back and folded her arms, studying the relieved look on Rachel’s face. “But you have to understand that I don’t care what you may have seen or heard. Jacob is not involved with Anna Yang.”

“I never said he was.” Rachel’s chin rose in defiance.

“Not in so many words, no.” She shook her head. “Don’t let my older brother’s intelligence fool you, sometimes he can be very dense.” Alex didn’t know what was going on in Jake’s head, but it was obvious that he hadn’t bothered to tell Rachel why he was in Palo Alto and she had formed some very interesting conclusions of her own, conclusions that were hurting her.

“I know all about it. It’s caused by a dominant gene found on the Y chromosome.” The blonde shrugged.

“That’s something we can agree on.” The artist slid off her stool and carried her dishes to the sink. It was clear she wasn’t going to get any further with her line of questioning. “When you spoke to him last night, did Jake say when he’d be back?” Something wasn’t right. Would spending time with his dog, Tanner, leave him sounding depressed? Was he second-guessing his plans to leave the University? Alex knew he had a meeting with the Chairman of the Science Department but wasn’t sure when it was scheduled for. Though she’d denied it, this thing with Anna Yang bothered her. She refused to give any credence to the idea that Jacob would be seeing Anna romantically, not after how he’d reacted to Rachel almost dying. If he was finally letting himself get emotionally involved with a woman, again, it was with the small blonde who was staring sadly out the screen door.

“No and I didn’t think to ask. He didn’t sound good and it worried me but there wasn’t much that I could do from so far away.” She shrugged, unwilling to be too specific about the call.

“What would you have done if you’d been there?”

Rachel’s chin tipped toward her left shoulder as she thought. “It would all depend on why…” she shook her head. She was giving too much away, but Alex needed to hear something, to be assured her brother was all right. “I don’t know why he was so upset. He didn’t volunteer any information and I didn’t push. Maybe I should have?”

“No, Jake will talk when he’s ready to.”

“That’s been my experience in the past, as well.” Rachel needed to talk and Alex needed to hear what she had to say. It wasn’t as if she was breaking any confidentiality rules. “So far we’ve solved all of our cases, but sometimes they can have a tragic beginning or ending. Over the last eighteen months we’ve developed...kind of…a routine.” She was looking into the past and totally focused. “Usually one or both of us has been without sleep for at least twenty-four hours. There’s been a time or two when I’ve been icing an arm or an eye or some part of my body. It kind of goes with the job,” she laughed softly. “Anyway, we’d sit together on a couch in some nameless hotel room, often unsure of what city we were in, and simply let all the noises that were echoing in our ears fade into the background, until we could hear the sound of our breathing.” Was that what had happened the night before, had they simply been searching for the sound of the other’s breathing? She gave herself a slight shake and blinked. “Sometimes we talk, but usually not, unless there was something specific that worried one of us.

“That’s about what I did on the phone, kept him company, the only way I could, since he’s on one coast and I’m on another.” Rachel realized that was exactly when they’d done, both last night and the night he’d told her about Pirate Jake. She’d needed him the first time and he’d been there for her, just as she’d been there for him last night. It was like a punch in the stomach to understand that neither night had anything to do with their jobs.

“Okay.” Alex smiled tenderly and thought, ‘Oh, yeah friends and a lot more.’ She could only shake her head at the two of them. They had the world’s strangest relationship; she hoped it would have a happy ending. Jake deserved some happy and she had a feeling that Rachel did too. “I need to get some more work done…will you be all right?”

“Sure, and I’ve got Owen covered so you don’t have to worry. The Martins aren’t bringing him back until mid-afternoon. I’ll get physical therapy out of the way long before he’s due back. I’ll take my cell with me just incase. Are you still planning on going to New York tonight?”

“Oh Lordy, I’d forgotten all about that. I’ve got to go. It’s business with the gallery. The final contract needs to be signed and they’re insistent I be in on the meetings about publicity.” She grimaced at the thought. “I need to work glass like I need to breathe, but to make it pay the bills, I have to put up with all the crap that goes with it.” She was determined to make her art cover all her expense. She’d been willing to accept Jacob’s financial help for Owen’s sake and in a small way her brother’s too. Family was important to him and he’d really wanted to help. He had the disposable income. Two of his discoveries had paid off handsomely and a third one was hitting the market in the fall. She knew that if he chose, he could live comfortably on his share of the income from his patents for the rest of his life. But it was important to her to be self-supporting and now it was finally almost within her grasp.

“Are you sure you’ll be all right alone with Owen for two days?” Alex thought quickly to be sure she had all her bases covered. “I’ve got Melissa Sanderling for tomorrow evening. She’s nineteen and reliable, so you can go to your FBI dinner and not worry about a thing.”

“Gee, thanks.” Rachel had been hoping that she’d be able to use Owen as an excuse for not attending, unfortunately Alex had gotten a sitter and outmaneuvered her. “You don’t have to worry, we’ll be fine. He’ll be in school during the day so I’ll be able to get to PT. I promise to only drive your SUV for that and if there is an emergency.”

“I’m not concerned about my car, cause I’ve got yours.” She grinned wickedly, knowing how much the agent loved her vintage Sunbeam. She’d been surprised Rachel was willing to let her leave it in airport parking.

“Yeah and I don’t even want to know who drove it out here. Felix is too damn big to fit and Ja--Hood’s driving skills leave a lot to be desired. Just the thought of him driving a stick shift gives me...ah...the chills,” she whispered, fighting an odd memory of bouncing along on the highway as Jacob shifted the gears of an old speeding truck.

Alex rolled her eyes at Rachel’s comment about her brother’s abilities. It was a running argument between them and she suspected they enjoyed it tremendously. She also believed it was partly due to the agent’s need to feel in control, more than anything Jake had done, though it was never a good idea for him to be behind the wheel when his mind was on something else.

Late that afternoon a huge storm swept in. It delayed Alex’s plane enough so she was able to catch it, since she’d spent extra time in her studio and was running late.

“Rachel, can we watch this?” Owen held up the DVD Time Machine. It was the original, from the early sixties. “Ya can’t have popcorn and no movie.” He grinned at her as she entered the family room carrying a full bowl and two cans of soda.

“It’s almost eight-thirty, and you’ve got school tomorrow. We can only watch for an hour.” She warned as he turned on the TV and loaded the DVD player.

They settled on the couch as the opening credits rolled and rain beat against the windows. In the distance and moving closer, lightening lit up the sky, followed by cracks of thunder. The last few days had been unseasonably hot, but it had become damp and the temperature dropped as the weather changed. Jacob’s nephew was ready for bed. Rachel was wearing borrowed jeans, a tank top, and a black Stanford hoodie around her shoulders.

“I like storms,” Owen reached into the bowl of popcorn they were sharing. He was fighting sleep, but refused to admit it. He and Tommy Martin had told ghost stories most of the night, instead of sleeping on their camping trip.

“Yeah, me too, especially the lightening, though I’m not so crazy about thunder anymore.” Rachel couldn’t tell him it sounded too much like her memories of New York City on Tuesday morning September 11, 2001.

“Uncle Jacob says it’s the sonic shock wave caused by lightening.” He talked as he chewed more popcorn. “He explained it to me a long time ago so I wouldn’t be scared. He said ya can’t have one without the other.”

“I guess you can’t.” But she sure wished you could. “Will you be all right upstairs alone? I can make up the couch for you.”

“Naw, we get storms like this all the time,” as he talked, he didn’t take his eyes off the TV. “Oh watch, this is a good part. The door opens and there...” He grinned as he watched the movie. “That guy, the scientist, George, reminds me of my uncle. He’s so smart.”

Rachel didn’t see the comparison. “If George is so smart, how come he’s all bloody and bruised like that?”

“Cause his pretty blonde lady isn’t an FBI agent,” Owen stated innocently. “She’s an Eloi and kinda needs to be saved a lot. He even has ta fight the Morlocks ta get her back. You wait and see. The rest of the movie tells ya how he got so busted up.” The child blinked sleepily at what was happening on the large flat screen, completely oblivious to the shock he’d given the woman beside him.

Before George, the scientist, saved his blonde lady’s life the first time, Owen was asleep, curled up with his head on Rachel’s left thigh. She was engrossed in the movie, running her fingers through the little boy’s straight brown hair over-and-over-again, hardly aware of what she was doing. She had to agree with him, there were times the guy in the movie reminded her of Jake. He didn’t look like him, but he was good and kind with high ideals.

“Rachel, I didn’t know you liked science fiction,” Hood’s words were deep and smoky coming from somewhere behind her.

“Why do you think I hang out with you?” She laughed as she turned slowly, expecting to discover her mind was playing tricks on her and she’d only imagined hearing him. She’d been caught up in the movie, but couldn’t believe anyone had gotten into the house without her knowing it.

“I’ve often wondered about that.” He walked out of the shadows of the darkened hallway and into the ring of light surrounding the sofa where she and Owen were. “It’s good to finally have the answer.”

“Shhhh,” she held her right index finger to her lips and pointed to the cushion beside her with her left. Seconds later she muted the TV, plunging the room into silence. He was here, really here. She hadn’t imagining it.

“Ahhh I see,” he mouthed as he took off his wet coat and smiled at the sight of his nephew sleeping, tucked against Rachel’s side. “Is he hurting you?”

“No, he doesn’t weigh much and he’s on my left side.” She knew if she was smart, she’d look away, but she was caught by deep hazel eyes that she’d missed.

“I’ll take him upstairs. You’ll both be more comfortable.” Jacob slipped the strap to his carryon over his shoulder. He was standing almost directly behind Rachel when he leaned over the back of the couch. His shoulder bumped hers and the back of his hand skimmed her jean-clad thigh as he picked up the child.

Rachel’s chin tipped upward as she was surrounded by his scent and hit by the strong memory of sleeping on airplanes with her head resting against the wool of his jacket. “I’ve missed you,” the words simply tumbled out, low and husky.

“I’ve missed you too.” Hazel eyes turned dusky green.

“Uncle Jake,” Owen murmured, breaking the spell that had frozen the two adults inches apart.

“Yeah, kiddo, it’s me. I’m taking you to bed.” He straightened and tucked his nephew’s head under his chin.

“But I was watching the movie with Rachel,” he protested.

“She’s not going anywhere.” His gaze was still locked with hers as he made her a silent promise: she’d have a fight on her hands, if she took him up on his old offer to be reassigned. “Be right back,” he whispered before turning and heading toward the hall.

Rachel wasn’t sure how long Jacob was gone. She stared at the silent television not seeing a thing. He’d caught her by surprise making her feel exposed and vulnerable. Had she really told him she missed him? Did she imagine that he’d said he missed her too?

It could have been minutes or hours later when Hood asked from the doorway, “Are you still off the narcotics?”

“Yes, nothing but ibuprofen since before I left the hospital.” She looked straight ahead as if she were watching the soundless TV.

“Good, then we can watch the movie with adult beverages.” He sat down beside her and handed her a delicate balloon shaped crystal snifter of cognac while keeping the matching Old Fashioned glass, half filled with scotch, for himself. Taking the remote from her hand, he turned the sound back on and put his feet up on the coffee table next to hers.

“You want to watch this?” She finally looked at him. He’d changed into dry jeans and a t-shirt.

“Sure it’s one of my favorite movies.” He smiled slowly, fully expecting her to argue with him. “Actually, I think it is my movie. I moved most of my things here when I rented out my house in Atherton.”

Rachel knew his books were here, she’d seen them in the study. They weren’t simply books that he’d read. There were textbooks that contained chapters he’d written and a collection of old first editions. The item she found most intriguing was a slim volume that was of his Nobel candidate paper on dark matter. Seeing those things had made her finally understand what his life had been like before the FBI and she’d wondered if he wasn’t bored silly nowadays. There had also been a copy of Margaret M. Cain’s dissertation, dedicated to her husband, Dr. Jacob Hood. Rachel had scanned it a number of times, though didn’t have the mathematical background to understand much of it. She’d walked away each time, more convinced than ever that Jacob’s wife had been brilliant. They definitely had been well matched.

“Lost interest in the movie?” Hood’s voice broke into her thoughts.

“No...ah...just thinking, now shush, so I can hear what they’re saying.” She glanced at him sideways, gently rolling the snifter between her palms to warm her cognac. He seemed to be concentrating on the action on the screen. How had he known that she hadn’t been?

When the movie was over and Jacob had watched the ending twice, Rachel turned to him and asked, “Do you think he made it back to the world...er...time of the Eloi, or did he go somewhere ...some when else in that time machine of his?”

“Of course he went back or I guess it would be more correct to say he went ahead,” he chuckled softly. “He had a world to set right and a woman to help him do it.”

“Yes, I guess he did.” She slowly sipped the rich amber liquid in her glass, trying to ignore Owen’s words from earlier, ‘That guy, the scientist, George, reminds me of Uncle Jacob.’ He was looking at her oddly and Rachel wanted to keep his mind on the movie and not on questions she didn’t want to be asked. “I wonder...ah…what were the three books he took with him?”

“I’ve always found that to be an intriguing thought, three books on which to build a new world.” He shrugged and turned off the DVD player and TV before tossing the remote onto the cushion on his far side. The movie had been an interesting diversion, and served its purpose: he’d been able to study her unnoticed. She wasn’t doing as well as he had hoped and he wasn’t going to let her get him sidetracked talking philosophy.

“So how have you really been doing?” Hood nudged her gently with his shoulder and ran the toes of his sock covered right foot along the instep of her bare left one. “It’s apparent you’re not sleeping well.”

“No-no-no-no,” she shook her head and turned toward him. “After last night’s phone call, that’s my question to ask you.”

“I am sorry about that. I shouldn’t have bothered you so late.” He took a drink of scotch and stared into the dark liquid. “Especially if I was going to fall asleep in the middle of your story.”

“That’s okay. It wasn’t much of a story.” She smiled gently, not willing to admit that she’d fallen asleep too. “You sounded like you’d had a terrible day.”

“I did.” He’d had a marathon therapy session that had left him reeling. “I...ah...did something...” He sighed and straightened until his feet were on the floor with his elbows resting on his knees. “It’s something I’ve been fighting for a long time. I...ah...saw a therapist,” he whispered, refusing to look anywhere but into the contents of his glass. “It was like taking a guided tour through hell.” Hood had spent most of his flight from the West coast trying to put his life into some sort of prospective, after his session the day before. He’d never before been so glad for extended travel time due to inclement weather. It had given him more time to try to put his emotions back into the box where he’d hidden them for years.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not right now. I can’t...but soon.” He smiled at her gratefully. “I’m all talked out. My session with Anna lasted almost six hours.”

“You saw Professor Yang professionally?”

“Ummhumm.” He nodded. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”

“It had to have been all the more difficult since you’re...ah….you know, involved with her.” She tried to sound sympathetic, but didn’t think she was successful.

“Involved with her?” Jacob frowned. “She was a close friend of my wife’s and she was kind enough to take Tanner when I moved to DC, but…” He was missing something, he could tell by the look on Rachel’s face.

“I thought...I mean...months ago you stopped screening her calls…then went to her house for dinner...you...you were seeing her,” the words came out in a low rush. She’d never said a thing about that night when she’d felt like nothing more than a ghost watching him live his life, while she stood between him and any danger that might lurk in the bushes. It had made her feel like a voyeur and she hadn’t liked it.

“You thought I’ve been dating her?” His brows rose in amazement. “That yesterday was a romantic...whatever?” He chuckled softly at the irony.

“Your text said you were going to see her.” Rachel scrambled to keep from feeling foolish. “What else was I supposed to think? I was the agent on duty the last two times you were in Palo Alto. I’ve seen the way she looks at you.”

“Oh, and how is that exactly?” He turned toward her, fighting a grin.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about, Hood.” She glared and curled her left leg beneath her while keeping her right heel supported by the coffee table. Rachel couldn’t rid her mind of the scene that had played out in the shadows from Anna Yang’s front porch. “Besides,” she sniffed indignantly. “You don’t seem like the kinda guy who’d causally kiss someone.” She felt a flush creeping along her cheeks but refused to give into it. He’d given every impression of a man who cared about a woman. “What other conclusion should I have drawn?”

“You seem to have given this a great deal of thought.” His voice crackled with pleasure, causing Rachel to blush to her hairline.

“You’re enjoying this way too much.”

“Oh, that I am, Agent Young. But to set the record straight, Anna Yang and I are just friends and I didn’t kiss her, she kissed me.”

“I wasn’t trying to invade your privacy.” Rachel backpedaled. It felt like the ground was falling out from under her. “I was watching the house and there was movement at the door. As soon as I realized---”

“Shhhh,” he leaned very close, covering her lips with two fingers. “It’s all right. I know you were doing your job. You’re very careful of my personal boundaries. I, on the other hand…” his brow twitched and one corner of his mouth twisted upward, “May not always have been as scrupulous about yours.”


“I’m not done.” He cut her off again by adding a bit more pressure with his fingers. “There’s one other tiny item you need to understand.” He was strangely distracted by her full pale lips. “When I kiss a woman, I’m far more thorough and discreet.”

“I’ll...ah...remember that for the next time you...ah...well...are entertaining someone.” As she spoke her mouth moved against his fingers and it created a bubble of pressure deep in her stomach.

“You do that.” He pulled back to give her some space as he ran his thumb over dark smudges under her eyes. She hadn’t been sleeping and the slight tan she acquired in the last few weeks, couldn’t hide it.

“Please don’t ask.” She saw the question in his eyes and reached for his wrist to pull his hand away from her face.


“Nightmares, okay, are you satisfied.” She hated the way the bad dreams were stealing her strength and making weak and useless, as weak and useless as she was in her dreams. “I can’t talk about them now...not yet.” She couldn’t meet his eyes. He was too perceptive and would see the fear and doubts that haunted her.

“Fair enough--” Before he could say more, a huge bolt of lightening lit up the night sky, followed by thunder like an explosion that shook the windows. The lights flickered once and went out, plunging them into inky darkness.

To Ch 8 - Acceptance - Interlude



Latest Month

September 2012


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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