Disclaimer: jake 2.0 and all related elements, characters and indicia © Roundtable Entertainment and Viacom Productions, Inc., 2003. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations-save those created by the authors for use solely on this website-are copyright Roundtable Entertainment and Viacom Productions, Inc.
Author's note: Written for LJC as part of the Yuletide fic project
Jake Foley was a man of action. Okay, today it was less about action and more about his latest round of physical tests, but still, he was feeling fairly cocky as he entered the lab. The greeting died on his lips when he saw a perfect opportunity to demonstrate one of his other new field agent skills. Diane was bent over the PDA she used to track his vitals, completely engrossed in something. Jake studied her for a moment, frowning. Despite her protestations to the contrary, he could tell that the recent deception by that jerk Clemens had effected her. She had seemed to rally pretty well initially, but the last few weeks he'd noticed her retreating back into herself, devoting all of her energies to her work. Seeing her so happy before had made him crazyand Jake didn't want to devote another thought to what that had been all aboutbut seeing her like this just made him feel helpless.
Giving into a sudden impulse, he snuck up behind her, careful not to make a sound and rather pleased when she failed to acknowledge him even as he edged closer. He was getting to be a pretty damn good agent, if he did think so himself, and stealthstealthiness?was one of the perks of the
"What is it, Jake?" Diane asked calmly, her eyes never lifting from her work. Jake sighed.
"What? I thought I was...you know...with being a spy..."
Diane still had her back to him, but her tone implied amusement.
"You forget that you can't sneak up on the woman who's tracking your every move day and night."
"Oh. Yeah. I..." Jake trailed off as his eyes drifted to a lock of hair that had come free from its hair clip prison. He found himself strangely fascinated by the way it curled ever so slightly as it fell just past her neck. He blinked as the lock of hair whooshed out of his vision to be replaced by Diane's bespectacled eyes gazing up at him in worry. He shook his head slightly to clear it. "I'm sorry, what?"
Diane's frown deepened.
"Are you alright? Is your hearing malfunctioning? Because I'm not reading"
"I'm fine," Jake interrupted a bit sharply, then cleared his throat a little. "Really. I'm great. No problems with the hearing. I can prove it to you." He paused, tilting his head slightly, then nodded. "Okay, right now Missy's in the break room complaining to Carver that someone's let us run out of coffee filters again. You know someone really should do something about that, it's not right to try to deprive a huge network of government spies of caffeine."
Diane offered a little smile, mostly of relief, and Jake grinned back broadly.
"Well, good. Now we should get to testing your other functions, as I assume that's why you're here..."
Jake nodded absently, still grinning, as Diane motioned him towards the examining table, gesturing that he should remove his shirt. She really looked incredible when she smiled, he thought as he unfastened the buttons and slipped out of his shirt. Diane gave him another smile, little more than a nervous twitch of her mouth, as she began to attach the wires for the EKG machine, and Jake found himself incredibly aware of the warmth of her hand on his chest...
"Whoa!" Both Jake and Diane exclaimed at the same time. She pulled her hand away from him as if she'd been burned.
"What was that?" Jake asked in alarm, feeling his chest a bit anxiously.
"I'm not sure, It's probably nothing," Diane responded in a tone that let him know that she was biting down some panic of her own. She glared at the PDA as if shocked by its sudden betrayal.
"It felt like my heart skipped a beat," Jake said in wonder. "I'd almost forgotten what that felt like. But I mean, that's a normal thing, right? No real problem."
"Actually, it might be a problem," Diane said with a bit of a sigh. "It's not normal for you, Jake, not anymore. That shouldn't happen. I mean ever. The nanites should be preserving all autonomic functions, especially the SA node"
"Diane!" Jake interrupted, grabbing her hand. "You said it yourself, it's probably nothing. Right?"
"Probably. But it could be something serious, Jake. I need to run more tests."
"More tests," Jake sighed. "Is that even possible? I mean, is there a test known to mankind that you're not already doing to me?" Diane opened her mouth to retort, then hesitated, stymied. Jake nodded. "That's what I thought. So, no more tests. If something's wrong, you'll find it. You'll fix it. I have faith in you." He turned her hand over so that the palm faced up, tracing it lightly with his thumb. Diane sighed automatically at the unexpectedly intimate contact, then tried to pull her hand away.
"We should take a trip," he pronounced. Diane just stared at him, dumbfounded by the non sequitur. He continued enthusiastically, "No, don't you see, it would be great! We both work too hard, and it's been nonstop stress and, and life-threatening danger since the whole nanite thing...not that that's a bad thing, because it's what I always wanted, to, you know, work in the field and all, but still, we could use a break, don't you think?" He eyed her expectantly, his enthusiastic grin fading as her unblinking stare, along with everything he had just said, suddenly registered. He released her hand, his face reddening. "Oh. You know what? Forget everything I just said there."
He began pulling his shirt back on with one hand as he yanked Diane's carefully applied electrodes off all at once with the other. This shocked Diane out of her trance. She hurried after him as he scurried off the table and backed towards the door, his eyes everywhere but on her now, feeling desperate to escape this room and this moment before the walls caved in.
"Jake...what...you can't go!"
"Actually, do me a favor and forget this whole visit," Jake continued as if she hadn't spoken, his eyes fixed firmly to the floor as he hastily rebuttoned his shirt, still edging backwards. And could you forget I was ever even here today? That would be so great." The door opened as his back nearly touched it and Jake nearly fell backwards out of the room, but quickly regained her balance. A short burst of hysterical laughter burst from his lips. "I gotta go. Thanks, Diane. See you later," Jake called over his shoulder as he took off in a near run.
"Jake, wait!" Diane called after him, but he quickly disappeared down the hall. She bit her lip, uncertain what to do. She knew that she was tasked with reporting to Lou if Jake displayed any behavior that was out of the ordinary, especially if she thought that he might be causing harm to himself or others. She just wasn't certain that this was really that kind of situation. In fact, if she hadn't have known better...
"I'd think he was falling in love with me," Diane muttered, then shook her head. She had feelings for Jake, but she'd suppressed them because she knew Jake's heart had been claimed for years by Sarah Carter. Whether she wanted it or not.
A short while later a somewhat out of breath Diane caught up to Kyle Duarte, who she'd been seeking throughout the building practically from the moment that Jake had fled her lab. Kyle lowered his coffee cup from his lips in surprise when she grabbed his arm.
"Diane?" he said in greeting and question.
"You really don't stay put, do you?" Diane panted, before noting the cup with a raised eyebrow. "Coffee?" she mouthed, not wanting to set off a stampede to the break room. Kyle shook his head with a grimace.
"Cocoa," he grumbled. "Though I'm sure that's not why you're here."
"No, it's Jake."
"I figured that much out myself, Diane," Kyle said dryly, and the scientist blushed.
"Of course," she said, her hand at her temple. Kyle took in the sign of distress with a frown.
"Is something wrong?"
"Yes," Diane replied, then quickly added, "I mean no! I mean, maybe." At Kyle's glare, she added weakly, "Not very helpful?"
"If by 'not very' you mean 'not at all'..."
"Okay, okay...I'm probably overreacting to nothing, but today, in the lab, some...things happened with Jake that were a little...peculiar."
"Peculiar," Kyle repeated flatly. "Like what?"
Diane's blush deepened.
"I...can you just tell me if you've noticed anything...strange...about the way Jake's been behaving lately?"
Kyle laughed shortly, shaking his head.
"As far as I'm concerned, Jake Foley behaves pretty strangely all the time. But I don't think the nanites have got anything to do with it." At Diane's vexed expression, he added, "But I haven't noticed anything out of the norm. Jake's norm, I mean." Diane nodded slowly, worry still furrowing her brow. Kyle took a sip of his cocoa and made a face. "You want me to keep an eye on him? Let you know if any weirdness happens?"
"Please," Diane responded gratefully. Kyle nodded, then edged closer.
In a low voice, he offered, "You know, if he does do anything...peculiar...while we're in the field, I'm going to have to tell Lou. And then you know what's probably going to happen to him."
Diane's face was a picture of misery.
Kyle frowned, looking over at his partner. Many had been the day he'd wished that Foley would just shut up and keep his mind on the mission, but today the former computer tech's self-imposed silence was unnerving. Jake had barely said three words to him since they had started this surveillance, and all of those had been distantly voiced replies to direct questions. Kyle sighed, the conversation with Diane from the day before weighing heavily on his thoughts.
"Jake?" he said softly. No response. He leaned towards his partner and cleared his throat, then roared. "Jake!" Jake nearly jumped through the roof of the car.
"What? Geesh, Kyle, are you trying to give me a heart attack?"
"No, I was trying to get your attention."
"Well you have it now," Jake said testily, turning towards his partner. "What's on your mind?"
"How about whatever's on yours?"
Jake's expression immediately became very careful and closed.
"I don't know what you mean."
"Come off it, Jake," Kyle said gruffly, concern and frustration in his voice. "Something's bothering you."
"You want to talk about it?"
"There's nothing to talk about," Jake said with a tone of finality, turning back towards the passenger side window and staring out at the shops along the street as he had been for the past two hours. Kyle sighed.
"Is it Sarah?" the agent guessed. Jake shrugged absently, his eyes fixing once again on an elaborate hair clip in a beauty shop window display. His mind kept flashing back to that single wavy lock of hair on the back of Diane's neck.
"No, it's not Sarah. Sarah's fine," he replied coolly.
"So you and she are doing okay?" Kyle prodded.
"In as much as there's Sarah and there's me and we're friends and we're both really happy with that, absolutely. We're doing fine. I'm doing fine. Everything's fine. I'd say dandy, even. Now can we please just get back to work?" Jake finished tetchily. Kyle mumbled acquiescence and Jake's thoughts quickly returned to a new fantasy about Diane's hair, about her pinning it up with that fancy clip and then taking it down...
Kyle watched Jake's growing smile in the side view mirror. The long-term agent then followed the direction of his partner's gaze towards the hair salon and shook his head. He didn't like it, and he knew Diane wouldn't like it, but something was definitely wrong with the young man and until they figured out what it was...
"They've declassified me!" Jake hollered as he stormed into Diane's lab.
"Decertified," Diane corrected weakly. She looked guiltily down at her feet, but Jake was too irate to notice.
"Whatever! Lou said I wasn't fit to be a field agent until you said I was...so let's get going. Fill out the forms, sign the papers, run the tests, whatever you've got to do," Jake said, pacing the lab fretfully.
"You need to calm down, Jake," Diane shakily offered. Jake shook his head.
"No, I don't need to calm down. What I need is my job back. I don't understand what's happening here. I mean, our last assignment was totally textbook, none of the kinds of mix-ups and screw-ups that have happened before. Then the next thing I know, Lou calls me into her office and tells me I'm suspended from field work for the foreseeable future...and that I should see you..." Jake finished slowly, realization warring with disbelief in his expression.
"Jake...maybe you should sit down." Diane said slowly.
"I don't want to...sit...oh God," Jake said, sinking into a chair automatically, his face buried in his hands. "It was you. You did this." Diane crouched down at his feet, pulling his hands from his face and into her own, trying to catch his gaze. She flinched at his wounded look.
"I...I didn't have a choice, Jake. There's something wrong with you, and we need to figure it out. Which we will. And then you'll be certified. I promise."
"There's something wrong with me all right," Jake snarled. "I thought I...you were the one person in this whole place that I thought I could trust. You had my back, Diane. How could you do this to me?"
"Listen to me, Jake. You can trust me. I do have your back. That's why I did this. Because I'm responsible for your health, for what happens to you..."
"Because you're my doctor," Jake asserted bitterly.
"Because I care about you," Diane hissed, her own anger rising. "If I send you into the field, and you've got some kind of malfunction and someone gets killed, another agent or an innocent bystander or, God forbid, you, then how am I supposed to live with that? How could you live with that?"
Jake considered that for a moment, and when he spoke again the anger had left his tone.
"You really think there's something wrong with me?" Without thinking Diane reached up and brushed his hair from his face, her heart breaking at his quiet question.
"I think there might be," she answered, her voice thick with emotion. "You've been behaving so differently. There was that thing with your heart, and that weird thing about you and me traveling together somewhere, and Kyle said you've been staring at beauty supplies for hours..."
Jake blinked at that last thing, then frowned. Diane watched as a series of emotions appeared on his face, almost as if he were having an argument with himself.
"And you think that means...?" he finally inquired.
Diane shrugged helplessly, suddenly near tears.
"I don't know. All of my tests so far have been completely useless. Until I can get to the bottom of this, Jake, I have to do what I think is right."
Another long silent moment passed. Diane stood up and moved away, using the distraction of gathering instruments as an escape to turn away from Jake and from the strong emotions hanging heavy in the room. She was fairly certain that Jake was not going to ever forgive her for this, and she felt like she was slowly being eaten from the inside. She swallowed hard, blinking back her tears, then gasped as she felt his hands on his shoulders.
"I'm sorry, Diane," Jake said softly into her hair. Diane felt her stomach flutter lightly as he turned her to face him. She was confused to see no anger in his eyes. "What if I could explain everything in a way that makes sense and answers all of your questions? Would that help?"
"Jake, I don't think"
"I'm in love with you."
"what's happening to you is something...what?" Diane trailed off in disbelief. Jake moved away, not meeting her eyes.
"What?" he repeated dumbly as she followed him in his retreat.
"What did you just say?"
Jake took a deep, shaky breath and looked her in the eyes again. This time she saw that he was completely sincere, and she gulped hard.
"I said I'm in love with you," he said firmly.
"Oh God, that's what I thought you said," Diane said softly.
"Oh good. The usual reaction," Jake retorted sarcastically.
"I mean, it's worse than I thought," Diane fretted.
"Worse than you...hey!"
"The malfunction! I must be effecting your hormonal levels, your endorphins"
"My hormones are just spiffy, Diane," Jake retorted.
"No, no, no," Diane moaned. "Jake, I know that you think this is real, but it's not, okay. Believe me."
"How about you believe me?" Jake shouted, grabbing her shoulders. The intensity in his gaze made her gasp. "My heart skipped a beat because you touched me and I felt all...you know, warm...and I suddenly wanted to tell you things I didn't want you to know before, about how I think about you all the time and I was so jealous of You-Know-Who because I wanted to be the one taking you places. I wanted to be the one you talked about movies with and stayed up all night with. I wanted to be the one dating you."
"Not Sarah. You, Diane. I wanted you. I love you. And I wanted to tell you, but I'm a dork and I don't know how to tell women things, so I started blathering like an idiot. And I started staring at things I thought you might like, like this," he said, pulling the hair clip from the window of the beauty salon out of his pocket and waving it at her. Diane's mouth formed a perfect "O" of surprise. "Imagining how you'd feel when I gave it to you. How you'd look with this on. And how you'd...never mind. The point is, the only thing that's wrong with me is that I didn't know how to tell you any of this before, and I don't know how to convince you that this isn't some kind of malfunction." Diane automatically looked down at her PDA and Jake placed his palm gently under her chin, lifting her gaze back to his. "But here's the thing," he continued softly. "I don't want to know what your computers and your tests and your little blinking readouts say. I want to know what your heart says. I want you to know in your heart that I'm telling you the truth. I want you to know that I love you."
Diane searched his face for a long moment, then her fingers grasped her head somewhat desperately, entangling his dark hair.
"I have a test for that," she murmured as their lips met. Her mouth parted as the kiss deepened and their tongues intertwined for a long moment. When they finally pulled apart, Jake watched her expectantly.
"I'd say you passed," Diane sighed breathlessly. Jake grinned and pulled her into his arms, feeling more content than he had in a long while. "Of course, we're going to have to keep this a secret, you know. The NSA has rules about this sort of thing."
"Does that mean what I think it does?" Jake asked slowly.
"It means I believe you. It means I...I love you, Jake Foley, and I have for a while. It means I want to date you."
"And am I certifiable?" Jake prodded, and Diane nodded, pulling him closer.
"Oh, absolutely," she answered with a twinkle in her eye as he lifted her towards him for another kiss.