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: J Solt, as always, bouncing around ideas inspired us both. Too cool. Thanks again to those who read and reviewed my first story; it only makes me want to write more.
Who Needs Cupid When Youšve Got Friends?
Diane looked up from her laptop as Jake walked through the lab doors talking on his cell phone.
"Mom, mom," he repeated irritated, "I'm not going to end up like Great-Uncle Harry... No, of course I'm not planning to wait 'til I'm sixty to get married," Jake looked up and nodded a greeting to Diane who waved back, "What do you mean that's what it looks like?"
Amused, Diane tried concentrating back on the computer screen but couldn't stop herself from eavesdropping.
"I have too brought girls over to meet you guys. Remember there was Jennifer and-and... um," he paced back and forth rubbing his forehead, "and Erica. Okay, so she was my lab partner for chemistry but she was still a girl... Yes I've had serious relationships since college... just really little ones that usually end with the second date, but they were still serious... And you remember Sarah from Georgetown? Yeah, the one I kept on mentioning," Diane rolled her eyes and resumed her typing. "Well, I met up with her recently... Yeah, we've gone out on a few dates... No, I don't think there's much of a chance of something happening, though," Jake sighed leaning against the examination table. "I know you and Dad just want me to be happy. I... I just haven't found that girl yet," Jake paused for a moment then smiled. "Hmm thanks Mom, I think I'm still relatively young, too. Okay, tell Dad I said hi. I love you too. Bye."
Jake sighed and stuffed the phone in his pocket. Looking up he realized Diane was standing next to him with a sympathetic expression, "I'm guessing your Valentine's Day so far hasn't been too... Valentinesy?" she smiled trying to cheer him up.
"Oh yeah," he nodded whole-heartedly. "I'm starting to think that the real meaning of the holiday is to give parents a field day to lay guilt trips on their single children."
"And you're just realizing this now?" she said surprised. Diane playfully nudged his shoulder with hers, "Come on, don't you believe in the power of St. Valentine?"
"Not unless the guy is planning to throw something my way other than my mom's monthly lecture of how she's tired of seeing an empty chair next to me at the table whenever I go to visit them," Jake muttered rolling up one of the sleeves of his shirt. "Why? Do you?"
Diane laughed as she took his blood pressure, "Not by a long shot. But it would be interesting to meet a single person who actually looks forward to stuffing their faces with chocolate while sitting alone on their couch."
He looked up at her. "That was my plan for tonight," he said sheepishly.
She grinned. "Oh. Well then. It's nice to meet ya."
The hours passed slowly as the two carried out the normal, daily routine of tests and monitoring.
"So we're done for the day?" Jake asked buttoning up his shirt.
She scribbled a few notes on her clipboard. "Yup. You're free to go home and gorge yourself with sugary stuff."
"Ah, my life will be complete," He made his way to the doors. "Uh, you coming? I mean, walking with me to the exciting parking garage."
"I'll have to pass up on that today. My Valentine's Day plans consist of stuffing my face with development write-ups."
"I'm sorry," Jake grimaced. "I- um... I guess I'll see you later then."
"Yeah," she said quietly watching him walk out the door.
Diane shuffled the papers that composed the weekly report on Jake's progress when her cell phone started to ring. Popping an aspirin tablet into her mouth she picked up the phone.
"Hello?" she mumbled.
"Diane?" a woman's voice inquired.
"You don't know who this is, do you," the caller stated, amused.
Exhausted, she pushed up her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose, "Uh... no."
"Diane, it's me! Harvard? Me: snobbish yet your oh-so-wonderful roommate? Hello, a six-year friendship going on here."
"Karyn?" Diane's face brightened. "Hey! H-How have you been doing? You were supposed to get in touch with me years ago. How's St. Louis treating you?"
"I know, I'm sorry. St. Louis is great but I've been buried with so many cases it's almost killing me. Are you still in D.C.?"
"Yeah. I'm actually buried with work right now, too."
"Oooh, don't tell me you're still at work at this time of the night."
"Yup," Diane sighed. "I have a report due for my boss tomorrow morning."
Karyn laughed, "Just like college all over again. Speaking of college, I ran into Mike a year ago."
"Mike? Shy-guy Mike?" she questioned surprised. "Did you guys hit it off?"
"As a matter of fact we did. We hit it off so well, we're engaged."
"That's great! I'm so happy for you guys!"
"Thanks," answered her old roommate with a laugh, "and it's about time we got together too. I remember during senior year I was about ready to hit him with a 2x4 in order to get him to say hi to me."
Diane giggled, "Actually you almost did with that shelf you 'accidentally' knocked out of the window."
"That was an accident! I was just adjusting the height-"
"Yeah, yeah. So how about you? Is there a Mr. Diane Hughes around now?"
"Ha!" Diane snorted lifting a cup of black coffee to her lips. "I think there's barely a Diane Hughes around right now."
"Come on you know what I mean. You have met guys, right? I mean there are males in D.C.?"
"Yes Karyn, there is a male population here," she rolled her eyes. "And yeah I have met guys. In fact, there's this one guy- well not that kind of guy. I mean he is a guy, obviously. Just a not-kind-of-guy..." Diane shook her head and covered her face with her free hand.
"Hmm, a 'not-kind-of-guy'," Karyn repeated intrigued. "What's his name?"
Jake plopped himself onto the couch and flipped on the TV. Surfing channels, he stopped for a moment on a reality TV show. The camera zoomed in on a young woman bawling her eyes out. While whining about her elimination, images of the remaining half-clad girls flashed on the screen. After a few more seconds of pseudo crying he turned the TV off, annoyed.
"Nothing says wholesome family television more than USA's Future Best Model," Jake muttered to himself as the phone started to ring. He walked over to the desk and picked it up, "Hello?"
"Kevin!" Jake greeted taking a seat. "What's up, man? How'd you get Jenny to let you call a hopeless bachelor like me?"
"Ah, she lets loose the leash sometimes," Kevin joked. "But I wouldn't give up that leash to be in your shoes for the world."
"Gee thanks," he said turning on the desk lamp. "I'm guessing you're really loving the married life."
"It has its ups and downs but I'm enjoying the ride. You should try it, sometime."
"Yeah okay, I'll just add 'get wife' to my grocery list for the week."
Kevin laughed, "You should. So, how's the Get Sarah Project going along?"
"I think that ship has sailed," Jake exhaled. "Or sunk actually. One complete, utter shipwreck."
"Doesn't look like it."
"Well maybe that Doc could help resuscitate you. That one that came to the wedding?"
"Diane?" Jake's eyebrows rose. "We-We're just friends."
"Yeah and I just got pelted with kisses by my wife for leaving the seat up again," Kevin mocked. "What? Don't you find her attractive?"
"Of course," he squirmed. "She's... she's cute."
"Cute?" repeated Kevin unconvinced.
"Okay! I think he's really hot, alright?!" Diane sarcastically exclaimed getting fed up with her friend's prodding. She paused for a moment, shocked to realize how close to home that outburst actually hit. Snapping her head around to see if anyone overheard she growled into the phone, "Honestly, I don't know why I'm friends with you at all."
"Because you know you need someone like me to force you to be honest with yourself," Karyn explained smugly. "So. You think this Jake is a total hottie, huh?"
Diane felt her cheeks grow warm as she paced back and forth, never more grateful that she was the only one in the lab.
"I'm going to take your silence as a 'hell yeah'," Karyn continued. "Come on, spill it Hughes. What's so great about this guy? Enlighten me."
"I don't know, Kevin," Jake shrugged. "It's like when I'm around women I get nervous, you know. I turn into a huge spaz. But when I'm with Diane... I feel comfortable. Well, at least comfortable enough with my spaz-ness. Considering we're talking about me, it's like a miracle."
"Yeah that is a miracle. 'Jake' and 'spaz' are like synonyms I never thought could be parted," Kevin mused as Jake chuckled. "So, what's the problem? Why don't you guys hook up, already?"
"Because I don't want to screw up," he answered simply. "We have a really good friendship that we don't want to mess up."
"Bull crap," Karyn declared.
"I don't want to lose our really good friendship," Karyn said mimicking Diane's words. "Oh please, can you get anymore cliche than that?"
"But it's true isn't it?"
"Yeah for people who want an excuse not to take a risk. If you have such 'a really good friendship' with this guy, shouldn't that be able to stand up against a simple rejection or bad date?"
"Now that's cliche," Diane stated. "You know that some of the best friendships can't stand that. I don't want this to be one of those. And we work together; it'd be..." she fidgeted with her necklace trying to think up of the right word, "...awkward."
"When hasn't your life been awkward?"
Diane pursed her lips, "Thanks Karyn. You're a real self-confidence booster."
"Anytime," Karyn softened her tone, "But he does seem like a really nice guy. Can't you two try doing something outside of work? I dunno, hang out a bit to see if anything's there?"
"We have," she said pinning the phone to her ear with her shoulder as she refilled one of the mice's water bottles. "We spend a lot of time together. Christmas, hanging out at his place, playing games-" Diane almost dropped the phone realizing how that sounded.
"At his place, playing games. Oh reeealy," her friend commented in a mischievous tone.
"Not like that."
"Alright, I'll stop teasing," snickered Karyn. "But hold up here. I know I heard 'Christmas' in that list. You spent Christmas together?"
"We just hung out," she defended knowing what Karyn was going to ask next. "Both of our flights got cancelled so we just... we hung out."
"Uh-uh. You're not getting off that easy, Diane. You're messing with a lawyer here. I want the details. And nothing but the details."
"Did you guys... you know-"
"No," Jake tersely cut him off. "No. All we did was have some pizza, played Boggle, talked-" he paused a second, "and-and then I went home."
"Dude, that is the worst attempt of a cover-up I've heard yet," Kevin chided. "I'm guessing something goes in that pause between talking and going home?"
"Well- wait," he stopped frowning. "Why am I telling you any of this? My social life is none of your business."
"Jake. It's Valentine's Day. You could be doing lots of stuff but instead you're sitting alone in your apartment talking to your best friend who's married. What social life?"
"I-I'm not alone."
"An open bottle of beer does not count as company."
Jake lamely looked down at the bottle of beer in his hand.
"I'm just trying to help you out here because both Jenny and I want to return the favor of breaking a champagne glass at your wedding," Kevin teased. "Geez man, those were like thirty bucks a piece... Anyways, are you gonna tell me what happened before you left?"
He stared off into space, "We danced."
"Danced? That's it?" asked Kevin, confused. "So what? Didn't you guys dance at the wedding?"
"Yeah but this was..." a small smile crept unsuspectingly onto Jake's face. "This was different somehow."
"Aw, that sounds sweet," Karyn said wistfully. "Obviously a case of unresolved sexual tension, but still sweet."
Diane dropped her coffee on some files that were lying on the counter. "What?!" she sputtered as she quickly swiped the report for Lou from harms way and began mopping up the mess. "That-That's ridiculous! You don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it was all very innocent and if anything was said, it was heartfelt with the purest of intentions," assured Karyn. "But subconsciously... something hot and heavy has gotta be going on."
She laughed nervously. "That's so... so not true," Diane continued to giggle incredulously while shaking her head. "I-I don't even know how to answer that; it's so ridiculous."
"Is it?" Karyn asked with a deadly serious tone. "Some say dancing with a person is a subtle form of foreplay to sex. Pragmatically speaking, it's like a politically correct method of having sex in public, only with clothes on."
Diane's face froze, her eyes wide. "Heh," she chuckled weakly.
"What were the kind of things that made it so different?"
"It's all a little fuzzy; we had a couple drinks. I mean... I meant what I said that night but I don't think it was anything that was totally profound."
"Well..." Kevin prompted.
Jake shrugged, "Well, I said that I'm glad I met her and that she's been by my side when I needed her."
"I told her I'd always be there for her, too."
"And I told her I cared a lot about her-"
Kevin's voice went up an octave, "You what?"
"You said that?" Karyn gasped.
"What's wrong with that?" she questioned confused. "He said it too. I don't see what the big deal is."
"You guys said you care about each other. Care about each other." Diane's friend repeated with emphasis. "This takes it to a whole different level."
"Jake, there's a big difference between saying you care about something and then saying you care about something. And I think you two might have said the latter without knowing it."
"I'm not getting you."
"Dude it's like this," Kevin explained as if he was drawing a diagram. "You got 'care' and then you got 'care'. The first is like how you care about what toppings the guy puts on your pizza. The second is like how you really care about those toppings."
Silence followed. "It's just pizza toppings."
"That's not the point! Okay, maybe that was a bad example," he began. Jake heard Jenny's voice faintly in the background. "Yeah, honey, I'll be right there. Listen, buddy I gotta go but I'm gonna leave you with some advice."
"Great," Jake grumbled. "The one thing I don't need today."
"No you do need," he corrected. "I know you've probably heard it in your parents' voice or even from yourself but I'm going to say it out loud so you'll get it through your head."
"Go for this one, Diane," pleaded Karyn. "It was painful watching you go through college missing opportunities. Stop thinking for once. Before you know it, he could meet someone else or not feel the same way anymore or-"
"Hell, you could keel over and die tomorrow while making breakfast. You never know what could happen," Kevin laughed.
The thought hit Jake hard with how literally true that statement actually was, "It's not that easy. It's... complicated."
Karyn gave up, "Well, I don't know what else to say. Will you just think about it?"
"Yeah. I will," Diane murmured.
"Okay," she said, doubt evident in her tone. "I gotta go. We're going to keep in touch better than we've been doing, right?"
"Definitely," she agreed. "And congratulations again on you and Mike."
"Thanks. Great talking to you. Bye."
"Bye," Diane echoed hanging up. She looked down at Jakešs file for a bit before picking it up and heading towards the door. Taking one last look around the lab, she turned off the lights and walked out.
"So Išll see you around," concluded Kevin. "Youšll come to Seattle again soon, right?"
"Yeah, I hope so."
"Alright man. Take it easy. Remember what I said."
"See ya." Jake put down the phone and stared at the lamp in front of him. He reached out to turn it off but hesitated for a while with his hand resting on the switch. Getting up from his seat, he went to the kitchen leaving the light from the lamp to fill the empty room.
So what do you think? Should I do a final chapter to this story? Tell me if you want one.
Feb. 18, 2004 Thank you everyone SO much for all you guys' feedback so far. I'm slowly workin' on it but um... the final chapter is ending up having chapters of its own which I didn't mean it to... so it seems like I'll probably submit it as a separate story/sequel.