Friday, February 1, 2013

Square Pegs

Author's note:  This is another older piece I managed to resurrect. 
Inspired by the episode "Hot Pursuit"


"Want another drink?" he asked her.

Claire shook her head. "I think I'll just go home now." To his chagrin, she actually stood, picked up her attaché case, and walked away. Jack turned on the bar stool and watched her walk out of the bar. When she reached the door, he stood, drained the rest of his drink, grabbed his coat and briefcase and hurried after her. Outside, he scanned the street, saw that she was up the block, crossing the street, heading back to the office; back to her car. He made it to the crosswalk just in time for the light to change. There were too many cars for him to attempt to cross against the light, and so he was forced to wait, forced to watch her get closer and closer to the parking garage, and farther away from him.

He thought to call after her, but she was too far away, and he was reluctant to scream her name as she hurried away from him in such proximity to the office. As soon as he saw the streetlights above him go yellow, he began to walk swiftly across the street. She was at her car when he reached the garage, and he decided, short of throwing himself in front of her car as she drove out of the garage, or hopping on his bike and speeding after her (this thought didn't appeal to him much at the moment...he knew he'd had just enough in the bar that any action of that sort would be stupid and reckless), he was left with no other choice, if he was to stop her, than to call her name.

"Claire!" he hollered. Several other people in the garage turned to look. Holding the car door she'd just gotten unlocked halfway open, Claire looked up to see Jack hurrying toward her. "Claire...wait!"

She looked at him skeptically when he was near her.

"Can we talk?"

"We've been talking."

"Look, Claire..."

"Go home, Jack."

"I've had too much to drink."

"You often do."

His face flashed surprise, then anger, then hurt. "I meant I need a ride."

"So take a cab."

"Jesus Christ, Claire...," he began, saw that she didn't appear moveable and gave up, spinning on his heel and heading a few spaces down, to his bike.

When Claire saw that he was going to take the bike, her concern for him overpowered her anger, and she said, loudly, "Jack...wait..."

He turned, still downtrodden.

"C'mon...I'll take you home."

The ride to Jack's apartment was a silent one, Claire leaning back in the driver's seat, arms rigid in front of her as her hands gripped the steering wheel, Jack slumped over against the passenger side door, staring out the window with his chin resting in the palm of his right hand. He still wanted that conversation, but knew better than to push.

In front of his apartment, Claire idled the car, not moving from her seat, she set the parking break, and looked at Jack, waiting for him to take off his seat belt and exit the car.

"Not coming up?"

"It's a school night," she replied. "Damn him," she thought at the expression he gave her. She hated that he had the ability to flash her a look that could reach her heart even when she was angry with him.

"Never stopped you before."


"Claire, at least park the damn car and hear me out."

She nodded, and complied.

When she'd pulled over, he released the seat belt and turned so his back rested against the door, looking over at Claire, and let out a wry laugh.

"I'm glad this amuses you."

His face grew extremely serious.

"What amuses me is the fact that we seem to do so well at keeping our romantic life out of our work life, but we can't seem to do the reverse."

"Really? It makes perfect sense to me ... the two of us, we're all about work. The way we operate at work is directly tied to our personal belief system, and we act and speak accordingly. It's only natural that our work, so much a part of who we are, would spill over."

"Am I to take it, then, by your response to my treatment of this girl on cross, that you don't like who I am very much?"

"Jack ... I didn't say that."

"You didn't have've made it abundantly clear."

"You just...push...too hard, sometimes, Jack, you know? I think sometimes you forget we're dealing with real people, with real people's lives, not theoreticals, not games. People aren't pages in books, Jack, they're not game pieces. Real life isn't black and white."

"So you've told me before," he said. "But the law IS black and white, Claire."

"The law doesn't exist in a vacuum, Jack. You can't expect to apply it as though it does... it's square pegs in round holes."

"You know something?"

"Enlighten me."

"I've noticed this disturbing trend. Whenever we have a disagreement about the application of the law ... or the 'morality' of some law, I wind up getting the silent treatment when the work day is through, whether it's me disagreeing with you or vice versa. Why is that?"

"You're the EADA ... we play it your way, all the way, right? My objections not withstanding."

"I can't help the fact that I'm your boss, Claire," Jack said, on the defensive. "Jesus! It's not like you didn't know I was when you got involved with me."

"It's not the fact that you're my boss that pisses me off, Jack, because you're right, I did know that when we got involved. And don't get me wrong...for the most part, I'll readily admit that you don't treat me as though we've got a subordinate/superior relationship, that you listen to my input much more than Ben Stone ever did, and don't make me feel dismissed or unintelligent if you don't act on it, and maybe that's the problem. I get so used to you treating me essentially as an equal, that it catches me off-guard whenever you pull rank. But sometimes ... sometimes, Jesus, Jack, I get so angry when you ask for my opinion on something and then totally disregard whatever I've said because we have some sort of fundamental disagreement ... the death penalty, for instance."

"Ahhh, yes... The Penalty," said Jack. "Whatever it's done for making citizens feel more secure, it's been a constant source of conflict for us."

"Yes ... and no matter my feelings there, we always go with what you want."

"Correction ... with what Adam wants. The statute reserves that decision for him."

"But you push for it ... you try your damnedest to make sure that the case can be molded to ensure a death penalty consideration by the jury ... even, at times, when it's been ruled out as an option for the obvious crime."

"I can't help it, Claire ... I agree with the idea of capital punishment, both for its Band-Aid, and deterrent effects.

"Yes, and you display all the zealousness required by the canons."

"Yes. I do," he said unapologetically. "It's my job. I don't make law, Claire ... I just do my best to see that it's applied. And not randomly applied; at least, not on my watch."

"So how does that explain this afternoon?"

"This afternoon would fall under the 'doing my job with all the zealousness required by the canons' heading."

"By beating up the mother of a rape/kidnap/brainwash victim on cross?"

"That's what you think I was doing?"

She blinked her eyes to indicate "Yes."

"Listen," said Jack, leaning in closer to her, "I hear what you're saying when you say that sometimes I disregard your opinions, even when I've asked for them. I know I do it. I do it to everybody. It's not personal. I'm a pompous jackass ... so sue me. But this afternoon. I didn't treat that woman any different than I would have treated the mother of anyone charged with four counts of murder."

"No, you didn't ... and that's precisely my point. Are you so sure Leslie Harlan's 'just like any defendant charged with four counts of murder'? Are you so sure that she was a willing participant? I'm not ... even Olivet wasn't convinced."

"Olivet said Harlan got a kick out of her criminal activity, don't forget ... and that she BELIEVED she was forced into it, not that she WAS forced into it."

"And you understand the distinction? I don't ... and I doubt the jury will."

"It's my job --OUR job-- to see that they do."

"I don't know Jack..." she replied skeptically.

"Sometimes I wonder if you've got the stomach for this job."

"Why? Because I've got a conscience?"

"Yeah, that's exactly it," said Jack sarcastically when he'd recovered from the shock of the barely veiled slam, "And I don't ... is that what you're saying?"

Claire stared forward, silent.

"Right," said Jack as he opened the car door in hurt anger, and exited, pulling his briefcase out with him, and slamming the car door shut. He headed down the block toward his building. Claire watched for a moment or two as he walked swiftly away from her.

"Shit!" she exclaimed, and banged her hand against the steering wheel once, twice, three times before reaching across the car and setting the passenger side lock. She made to get out of the car, but then decided against it.

She knew she hadn't been very nice, wanted to apologize for the harsh things she'd said ... but she was still angry with him, he had said some not-so-nice things himself. They were both nursing hurt feelings and wounded pride --a state in which, she knew from previous experience, was not exactly conducive to making up.

"Maybe," she thought, "By the time I get home ... we'll both have calmed down enough to be rational."

It was normally a 20 minute ride from Jack's apartment to the condo Claire had inherited from her grandmother, under ideal traffic and weather circumstances. It was early, however, and still commute time for many, and it took twice as long. The car ride home afforded her more than ample time, particularly since 20 of those minutes were spent literally sitting in traffic, to cool off, as she had known it would.

She came to a realization sitting in mid-town traffic -- and it wasn't a realization that made her feel very good about herself. What she felt about Jack's treatment of Leslie Harlan's mother that afternoon had less to do with the work issue than with the fact that she felt he'd disappointed her in his inability to express any sort of compassion for a girl who'd been horribly victimized -- when her victimization had most likely been the driving force behind any criminal activity in which she had participated. What bothered Claire most about this epiphany was not the fact that Jack had done something to disappoint her ... but that she had allowed it to disappoint her personally, as well as professionally.

She realized too, that in spite of their vow not to let the personal affect the professional, she did indeed, at least on some level, expect Jack to attend to her opinions, to give them more weight than he would the other ADAs because of their close personal relationship. This, she knew, had been Jack's contention so few moments before. And she'd made an ass out of herself for his having treated her exactly as she'd insisted at the beginning of their relationship.

She pulled up in front of her building and killed the engine. She was pulling the keys out when she paused for a long few moments, then shoved them back into the ignition, started up the car, flipped a U-turn in the middle of the road, and headed back to Jack. 


In the meantime, Jack had stormed down the block toward his apartment building. When he was at the steps to the building, he turned around to see if she'd made any attempt to follow him. He turned around just in time to see her pull away from the curb, and instead of heading in, he continued down the block, making his way to Molly O'Brien's pub.

He stopped in front of the bar. He'd had every intention of going in when he'd headed that way. He walked around the block six times intending to go in, eventually giving up, because he kept seeing Claire's face when she'd told him he often drank too much. If he weren't in such a foul mood, it might have amused him that she, when no one else had been able to manage, had the ability to guilt him into not drinking -- even when they were angry with one another. At the moment, it simply made him more angry.

He turned toward his apartment, disgusted with himself that he hadn't gone in for a drink, or two ... or more.

He walked into the lobby, completely ignoring Roger the doorman, and moved toward the elevator. It didn't come timely enough for him, and so he headed for the stairwell, mounting the steps two at a time so that he was panting by the time he reached his floor.

He entered his apartment, mood not at all improved, dumped his belongings on the sofa and headed for the kitchen -- straight for the liquor cabinet. He poured himself a shot of vodka, and drained it, pushing the guilt away momentarily, until he again saw Claire's face, heard her voice, as she's said, "You often do". He slammed the glass down, spilling the second shot he'd poured himself all over his hand and counter.

He dried his hand on a towel and tossed it down, then headed out of the kitchen, taking off his coat and throwing it on the sofa as he moved toward the hallway. At the washer and dryer, he stopped and stripped off his shirt and undershirt and turned into the bathroom. He turned on the shower, thought better of it, turned it off, and sat on the edge of the tub. He set the drain and turned the hot water on full blast and adjusted the cold so that the water would be hot, but wouldn't scald his skin.

He dumped a couple of fizzing bath tablets Claire had introduced him to -- "to relax your muscles" she'd told him -- into the water, then bent to remove his shoes and socks. When the tub was full, he stripped off his jeans and boxers and laid them across the toilet, stepping into the tub and sinking down into the water.

He sank down, raising his knees out of the water as he bent his legs, until his chin was just above the water line. He lay there for a time, just soaking, feeling the water infusing his bones and muscles and veins with a languid stupor, which the alcohol he'd consumed helped. He dipped the wash rag in the water and brought it back out, rung it out, folded it, and laid it across his eyes as he soaked for many moments. He began to relax to the point where he felt himself beginning to doze off in the tub.

His head began to nod as he came closer and closer to sleep. Several moments passed, and he was startled back into complete consciousness by someone ringing his doorbell over and over again. He stood, and wrapped himself in a towel, heading down the hall just as Claire unlocked and opened his front door with the key he'd given her months earlier.

She looked at him like he'd just caught her doing something she shouldn't be doing. He crossed his arms over his bare chest and leaned against the bookcase next to the entrance to the hallway. He raised an eyebrow at her.

"So that's why you wouldn't answer the door ... I wondered. Roger said you'd gone up ... thought maybe you'd decided I wasn't worth the effort of opening the door."

"Oh, c'mon now, Claire ... I'm not that much of a cold-hearted bastard."

"I never said you were."

"No...but your eyes were accusing me of it all night. You may as well have said it."

"But I don't think it ... no, that's a lie ... yes, sometimes I wonder if you've got a heart when we're dealing with certain cases ... but then I see the way other cases effect you ... the way they ignite your passion and indignation."

"You have to know that I wouldn't push when I push if I didn't truly believe the defendant was guilty."

"But you --we've-- been wrong, Jack. Remember Hank Chappel?"

"Claire...that's why there are so many checks along the way ... appeals, etc."

"That's good enough for you?"

He nodded.

"And when we execute a Hank Chappel because the checks along the way didn't catch the truth?"

"The odds are against it ... and anyway, you know that far more guilty people walk than innocent people go to prison."

"Talk to me about odds when an innocent person is executed ... you'll feel differently ... I hope."

"Assumes facts not in evidence," he told her curtly, "At any rate ... if you came here to harangue me again about my lack of compassion and apparent blood-lust, I'd prefer to skip it ... I'll stipulate. One lecture a night is about all I can stand.

He was baiting her, that much was obvious, out of hurt indignation, and she'd been taking the bait ever since she'd walked into the apartment. Instead of coming back at him, she moved closer, though they were still separated by several feet.

"I actually came here to apologize."

His eyebrow went up again.

"Oh...don't look at me that way ... you know I'm not above apologizing or admitting when I've been wrong."

"So you're admitting it was wrong to jump all over me --or ignore me, more accurately -- for my 'treatment' of Leslie Harlan's mother?"

"I was wrong to let it effect our personal relationship, yes."

"But you still think I beat her up on cross."

She did, actually, but had decided on her way back to his place, that if she disagreed with him about something at work, she was going to attempt to leave the disagreement there.

"I realized on my way home that the problem I'm having is what you said it was ... my inability to leave work at work. I've been letting what happens in the office or the courtroom affect what happens between us after work, and that was wrong of me. I realized that on some level I must expect something more from you in terms of my thoughts and opinions as they pertain to cases because of what we are to each other outside of the office. I've been taking it out on you when I should really have been looking at myself -- you're not treating me any differently than I demanded you treat me when we were first together." She drew several breaths before continuing. "So I'm sorry ... for keeping all this in and letting it fester and not discussing it with you before now ... sorry for taking my frustrations out on you ... and I'm sorry for the things I said tonight."

Jack nodded his head in forgiveness. "I'm sorry for the things I said, too."

Claire smiled a small smile. "Great!" she exclaimed. "I'll let you go and get back to your shower."

"Bath, actually."

"Bath then," she laughed, heading for the door. "I'll call when I get home."

"Aren't you forgetting something?"

She turned around. "Hmmm? Oh...yeah.... G'night!"

"Just 'G'night'?" he asked, feigning a pout. "I realize we were fighting until about 40 seconds ago... but I don't rate a goodnight kiss?"

She closed the door, and began walking toward him. "Oh...well...I think I can manage ONE."

When she was in front of him, she laid her hands on his shoulders and stood on her toes to give him a rather chaste peck on the cheek.

"You call that a goodnight kiss?" he teased, reaching out to rest his hands on her hips.

Some people might have considered it strange that they could be in the middle of a verbal brawl at one moment, and in the next instant, gently teasing one another and acting as though nothing had happened, once an apology had been issued and accepted. To Jack and Claire, however, it seemed only natural that they made-up so easily after a spat, for the feelings they shared ran far deeper, were far stronger, than any conflict they might have.

"Perhaps I need a refresher course," she said. "Know anyone?"

"I'm an excellent tutor," he informed her as he dipped his head and brushed his lips lightly against hers, then pressed closer, lightly nibbling on her lower lip for a moment until she felt his arms going around her, felt his damp skin even through the fabric of her blouse. The kiss grew deeper as his arms encircled her waist and her arms encircled his neck.

She pulled back, breathless, after she had opened her mouth to him, giving his tongue free access to plunder the recesses of her mouth at will. "You're getting me all wet," she told him, mind still reeling, as it almost always did, even now, at the intensity of his kiss.

He raised his eyebrows at her, going for the obvious innuendo in what she'd said. She slapped his chest lightly, "I meant because you haven't dried off yet ... get your mind out of the gutter."

"Damn ... and here I was, getting my hopes up ..." he teased, dipping his head again to kiss the slight amount of skin below her neck that the 'v' of her blouse revealed. She shoved him back softly, so he hit the corner of the doorjamb behind him.

"Dry off, you nut job ... then we'll talk," she laughed.

He took her by the hand and started pulling her with him down the hall, "Talking wasn't what I had in mind."

She sat on the edge of the bed when they were in his bedroom, and he stood in front of her. She looked up at him, and that smoldering glaze had come over his eyes, fogging over with his desire. Leaning forward a bit, she let her arm fall, then reached out, letting her hand contact his leg just below the knee, maintaining eye contact. She began drawing her hand up his leg, stroking upward softly, reaching beneath the towel as her hand moved higher and higher still: something he was fond of doing to her when she wore a skirt or a dress.

As her hand moved ever higher on his inner thigh, she could see Jack's face as he prepared himself, anticipating the pleasure he knew would shortly come. She broke eye contact and brought her other hand around him, resting her palm against his back and leaned forward until she was pressing butterfly-light kisses against his abdomen. Jack closed his eyes as she nipped gently at the smooth flesh there.

To both their amusement, when she ran her tongue around the outskirts of his navel, then darted it in, his stomach began to grumble --they had been going to have dinner after a drink or two, before she'd left him in the bar, and so they hadn't eaten since lunch.

Laughing, Claire let her hands fall from Jack. "What? Did I activate the magical hunger button?"

"Must have," he joked, running a hand lightly over her silken hair. "My stomach never has been very co-operative. Mind of its own."

"Do you have any food?"

"Do I ever?" he laughed. "Unless, of course, I've planned something special." In the little less than a year that they'd been together, the only times Jack's refrigerator had been full were the times she'd dragged him to the grocery store and forced him to shop ... when she'd had enough of the left-over take-out of various ethnicities that usually populated his fridge.

"Chinese or pizza?" she asked, laughing.

"Pizza ... no ... we had Italian for lunch," he said. "Chinese."

Claire turned over and lay across the bed, reaching for the phone on the nightstand. She dialed the number of their favorite Chinese food place in Jack's neighborhood.

"Ming's Pagoda," said the heavily accented voice.

"Yes ... I'd like to place ..." suddenly, Claire gasped into the phone as she felt the bed sag beneath Jack's weight and he moved behind her, straddling her calves as he began to run his hands up along the sides of her legs, up beneath her skirt. She recovered quickly. "I'd like to place an order for delivery."

Jack's hands continued up higher, drawing her skirt up as they went. He stopped when the skirt was midway up her thigh.

"I'd like an order of ..." she paused again, concentration broken as he reached beneath the skirt and began to work her panties off her, her hips lifting as he pulled upward before sliding them down her thighs. She was determined to get the order in, however, and forced herself to concentrate even more, knowing Jack was pleased as punch with himself for so effectively destroying her concentration. "An order of sweet and sour shrimp, Mongolian beef ..."

She kicked lightly, playfully, at him as he tickled her feet when he'd paused to remove her heels so he could get the underwear all the way off of her. "Chicken lo-mein with the pan-fried crispy noodles, and an order of steamed rice."

Jack was lightly kissing his away up the backs of her thighs as she gave the address and phone number to his place. Suddenly, he was straddling her behind, pushing her hair aside and kissing the back of her neck. She was in the middle of saying "thank you," when he took the phone from her hand and replaced the receiver in the cradle.

"Hey!" she scolded as he turned her over, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is to NOT sound like a freak when you do that? I felt like telling the Chinese food guy, 'Don't mind me ... my boyfriend's just stripping me from the waist down,' just so he wouldn't think I was some desperate phone-sex operator who'd decided she was hungry."

"You kicked me, ya know," he told her, beginning to unbutton her blouse.

"You deserved it."

"A few inches to the left and you'd have permanently killed my sex-drive."

She cocked an eyebrow at him. "Narrowly averted tragedy."

The clasp on her bra was next, and he pushed the cups aside. Moving down, he kissed the space between her breasts and then he was lower, pushing her skirt up around her waist. Claire arched her back and then thrust her hips upward when she felt Jack's tongue beginning to move on her.

"Jack... the delivery guy..."

His response was to dart his tongue inside her even as he brought a hand up to rest his palm against her pelvis while his thumb began to massage her swollen jewel. All thought of protestation left her. He worked her into a frenzy with his mouth and tongue, driving her higher and higher until, after many moments of prolonged anticipatory ecstasy, she felt her body begin to shake as the pleasure rocked her body.

He was over her suddenly and she reached up, body still in spasm, and tugged at the towel around his waist. He lowered himself gently down on her, kissing her neck and face as he braced himself on one arm and ran the other hand over her breasts, feeling the nipples rise against his palm. He moved his hand and brushed his knuckles over her cheek, gazing down at her, eyes silently questioning. She nodded, her eyes smiling and bright in the near-dark room.

His hand moved away from her face and she felt him guiding the tip of his hardened shaft to the entry of her female passage, felt him pressing against her, slipping inside her. They moaned together as he slid deeper into her, until he was embedded fully within her.

They began to move together, pace quickly becoming frenzied as their bodies connecting over and over again brought them exquisite amounts of pleasure. After many moments of repeated thrusting, of soft moans and sighs and breathless exchanges of endearments, Jack felt a lightning bolt pass from his stomach to his loins and outward, shuddering his release and calling Claire's name as she, too, felt her body beginning to crest, felt herself tumbling over into the abyss of pleasure their bodies moving together always created.

They lay together, spent, entwined in each other, kissing and caressing softly, Claire's partially clothed body draped over Jack's naked, prone frame until they heard the doorbell buzzing.

"I'll go," Claire chuckled, "Thanks to your interesting methods of seduction, I require less to be presentable than you do."

Jack held her hand until she was too far away and he had to let go. "Get the money out of my's in my pants in the bathroom," he called after her as she began walking down the hall, her skirt falling into place as she re-clasped her bra and began buttoning her blouse again.

"Coming!" she called when the doorbell buzzed again.

She paid for the food with money from Jack's wallet, tipped the delivery guy, and closed the door behind her, carrying the bag into the kitchen.

"Just bring the food back here," he called out to her.

Smiling slyly to herself, she pulled the bottle of diet Pepsi from the refrigerator, grabbed a couple of glasses, put them in the bag with the food, and carried the bag and soda bottle back into Jack's bedroom.

"Didn't your mother ever teach you not to eat in bed?" she asked. In the time since she'd left the bedroom, he'd pulled the covers back and gotten into bed.

"My mother told me not to do quite a number of things I do in bed ... you've never complained before..."

"You've got me there," she admitted jovially.

"No wine?" he asked as she poured them both a glass of diet Pepsi.

"Nope...I've got to drive home later..."

"Riiiiight...." he said, smiling at her, "It's a school night."


"As penalty, I insist on co-ed naked dining in bed."

"As you wish."

Claire began removing her clothes as Jack took the take-out cartons out of the bag and set them on the nightstand. When Claire was nude, she crawled onto the bed next to him, straddled his lap above the sheet, and picked up a pair of the chopsticks. Jack had busied himself opening the cartons.

They sat this way, talking, eating, and laughing for quite some time. At times, they'd eat out of the same carton, held by one or the other of them, sometimes eating out of separate cartons, sometimes feeding each other (not the simplest of tasks with chopsticks) from the carton they each held. During one of the sharing incidences, a noodle from the lo-mein slipped from Claire's chopsticks and landed on Jack's chest and fell lower. Claire reached down and gingerly extracted the noodle and dropped it into her mouth.

"The noodle's taken care of," said Jack, a mischievous grin on his face, "What about the sauce?"

Claire picked up a napkin and dabbed Jack's chest and abdomen.

"I was hoping you'd take the hint and lick it off."

"I know you were," she teased.

Jack set his carton on the nightstand, took Claire's from her and set it next to his, then reached up to cup her face in his hands.

"Guess we're done eating?" Claire asked, feigning innocence.

"Guess so," said Jack softly as he drew her face down and raised his to meet it, brushing his lips against hers.

Claire pushed him back and held him at bay with her arms. "Fortune cookies first."

Jack grabbed the bag containing the fortune cookies. "Your choice."

Claire picked one up and cracked it open, crumbs from the broken cookie landing on Jack's chest.

"Watch the crumbs," he told her mock-sternly as he withdrew one of the other cookies and broke into it.

"You will prosper financially," Claire read. "Dammit...I always get the stupid ones!"

"Everything will now come your way," Jack read.

"Rather cryptic...everything good, or everything bad....or everything in general?"

"It's a fortune means everything good," said Jack as he set the slip of paper aside, cupped Claire's face in his hands again and said, "Don't know what else could come my way ... I've got everything good I need right here," before crushing his lips against hers.

"You're pretty smooth when you want to be," she said breathlessly.

"You liked that one, did you?" he asked, smiling as he turned the tables on her and rolled her beneath him.

She nodded her head against the mattress, "I did."

He bent his head and kissed the side of her neck, "Thought you might."


An hour later, they stood in the shower, Jack massaging the shampoo into Claire's scalp with his fingers.

"You know," he commented, "This is the third time I've bathed today. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm about to sprout gills. But I'd never pass up the chance to get you in the shower.

Claire laughed. "Glad to hear it"

He tilted her head back gently, and worked the suds from her hair, then conditioned it, and rinsed again. When he was finished, he wrapped his arms around her upper arms and held her close to him. She laid her cheek against his chest and he bent to kiss the top of her head, and lower, to kiss her temple.

"I love you," he whispered above the noise of the running water.

She tilted her head back and kissed beneath his chin, "I love you."

Jack reached and turned off the water, and pulled Claire out of the shower with him. He slicked his hair back, wrapped her in a towel, wrapped himself in one, picked up another to towel-dry her hair, then used his brush to brush out her hair.

When they were dry, they dressed, and Jack walked with Claire down to her car. She leaned against her car with her feet in front of her on the side walk as Jack stood in front of her.

"We've got more of the Harlan case tomorrow," said Jack.

Claire nodded.

"We gonna repeat tonight all over again?"


"You didn't let me specify which part of tonight I was talking about."

"Doesn't matter. I don't plan on fighting two nights in a row. And tomorrow night, I want Mexican."

"Is that right?" he asked, moving in, smiling, she dodged him and headed over to the driver's side of the car.

Jack followed her, caught her at the door and hugged her close kissing her once before releasing her and letting her open the door. "Call me when you get home."

"I will," she said, resting her palm on his cheek before letting it drop. She kissed his cheek before saying, "Love you... g'bye," and getting in her car.

He watched her drive off then turned and went back into his building, to await the call saying she'd arrived home safely.