Title: Found & Forgotten
Chapter 8 of 20?: John & Jane Collaborate
Overall Rating: PG-13
This Chapter: PG
Genre: Romance, Drama, Humor, AU and a whole lot of UST
Pairings or Characters: John Smith/Jane Smith aka Ten/Rose, Jack Harkness, OCs
Summary: Human Nature meets London, 1963. John Smith is a writer, and has just made it big. Jane is a timid typist in the typing pool of his publishing house. He's a swinging bachelor with a roving eye. She is a quiet girl who has never sought attention. How is Jack going to ever manage to keep their marriage intact?
In This Chapter: John and Jane spend the night together.
Thanks to the Beta Triumvirate of Greatness: timelord1, kelkat9 and onabearskinrug
One | Two A | Two B | Three | Four | Five A | Five B | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine
Images for Found & Forgotten
Jane watched the slow-as-treacle clock on the wall with nervous anticipation. Only a few more minutes until she would be slipping into Mr. Smith's office for the night. Her stomach churned nervously as she bit into yet another piece of shortbread. Mr. Smith had treated the office this morning, and she had savored each and every bite as if he had been feeding it to her by hand.
"Daydreaming, Jane?" Priscilla Bootkins roused Jane from her reverie. "That's not like you. Has someone captured your fancy? Perhaps that fellow down in Accounting? He looks like a nice man. Very stable and well-off too. I heard he's single again. His wife just left him for the postman. He is a bit older, of course, but beggars can't be choosers."
Jane turned to Priscilla. Her cheeks were flushed and her neck was prickling but she held her composure. "I am not interested in Harold Bigglesworth."
"He's retiring next week. Getting his 50-year gold watch. You know, I think he was some sort of war hero. World War I, I believe..."
"I doubt that an almost 70 year old would have much in common with someone my age, Priscilla." Jane was trying hard to keep the conversation civil.
"I suppose you're right. But like I said downstairs Jane, honey...flies... Have you thought about a different hairstyle perhaps? You would be darling as a blonde, dear. Cut it short like Doris Day, you'd be fighting off the men. Just look at me."
Jane closed her eyes and heaved a sigh. She glanced at the clock once again. She only had to endure five more torturous minutes next to Priscilla Bootkins.
"By the way, Jane, I will be leaving the typing pool tomorrow. I've been promoted. Starting tomorrow I will be Daniel Higgins's personal secretary. I am much more suited for that position. It is so much more important than being a simple transcriptionist for a second-rate science fiction author. I didn't understand half of what Mr. Smith was talking about. It was for the best that we parted." Priscilla applied some strongly perfumed hand lotion as she talked.
Betty Anderson approached Jane's desk, hugging her steno pad to her chest. She had a sheepish look on her face.
"What's wrong, Betty?" Jane asked kindly.
"Things didn't work out with Mr. Smith." She giggled. "He's sort of an odd duck, to be honest. I was going to ask for a transfer out had he not requested a replacement effective tomorrow."
"Replacement?" Jane asked casually, garnering a quick shifty eyed sideways glance from Priscilla.
"Overheard him talking on the phone with a mate of his. He thought I was reading that strange book that he gave me, but really I was listening in."
"Oh, I love a good juicy phone call. What else did he say?" asked Priscilla.
"I don't Iike gossip, Priss."
"Well what do you think you're doing right now, then if not gossiping?" Priscilla challenged.
"How is it gossip when you're talking about yourself?" Betty asked with a laugh. "Anyhow, I need to be off. I have a date tonight!" Betty smiled warmly before she left.
"Have fun, Betty," Jane offered graciously.
"Oh I will! Bill's taking me to the Tiki Tiki Club!"
"Who's playing tonight?” asked Jane.
"A new up and coming singer. What was her name? Cute name... Oh I remember! Dusty Springfield."
Priscilla frowned. "Never heard of her."
Jane and Betty ignored the prickly comment. "If she is playing the Tiki, she has to be good," cooed Jane. "You're gonna have a great time! I know I di...I mean, I've always wanted to go there." Jane caught her near slip.
"Rather dull place if you ask me," Priscilla replied, blasé.
"I didn't ask you, Priscilla," Betty replied with uncharacteristic prickliness. "Night, Jane." Betty quickly put on her raincoat and clear plastic bonnet and ran for the lift.
Jane pressed her lips together trying hard to hide her excitement as the clock finally crept past five pm. The moment it did so, Priscilla left without another word. Jane pulled a scrap of paper out of her pocket and carefully unfolded it.
Come to my office at 5:15. I'll leave the door unlocked. Lock it, and turn out the lights. Went out to fetch dinner back for us. Back by 5:30. J
Next to his initial was a curious doodle that was reminiscent of a smiling face, or perhaps the inner workings of a clock. She couldn't quite decide which. Jane ran her fingers across the writing and then carefully re-folded the paper and slipped it back into her pocket. She went into the ladies lounge and sat until her watch indicated it was 5:15. The employees at this end of the floor were notorious for leaving at 5:00 on the dot, so she felt safe venturing out. She followed John's instructions, successfully sneaking into his office without being seen. She surveyed the office, and decided to sit at the small stenographer's desk, as it was up against the wall which faced the interior of the building, giving the greatest chance of staying hidden should anyone peek in.
At 5:30 on the dot, Jane heard a key rattling the lock. The door opened, and John Smith came in bearing a parcel.
Jane sprang from her spot and stood nervously. John chuckled. "Startled ye did I?"
"A little," she replied, smoothing her skirt.
"Brought dinner, well, not a proper dinner that your mum would probably approve of. No veg or fruit or anything green. Nothing healthy, but definitely tasty. See? Fish 'n chips." He held up the greasy bag.
"I really fancy chips actually," Jane said shyly. "So, I was thinking I would bring in my typewriter and just type as we go. I'm a much better typist than stenographer, and while my shorthand is quite good, why not skip that second step of typing out the notes?"
"Oooooh, good thinking Jane Smith! Why won't Woods would just relent!" he growled as he pulled a newspaper cone out of the bag and handed it to Jane. "I even knelt in front of her! Me! A grown man! On bended knee!" John went down on his knees, clasped his hands and reenacted the scene. "Please! Oh please Miss Woods! Please let me have Jane!"
For the first time, Jane allowed herself to laugh fully in John's presence. Her laugh was infectious and he joined in as he returned to his feet. He went over to the sofa and dropped down comfortably. Jane had once again positioned herself at the small desk across the room.
"Whattya doin' all the way over there? That can't be comfortable. Sit by me. We'll chat while we eat. Get to know each other, hmm?" He patted the orange sofa, encouraging her to join him.
"I won't bite, Miss Smith, I promise. Despite the rumors you may have heard about me, I am neither Casanova nor Lothario, although I do enjoy a pretty lass by my side." Once again he patted the sofa. He smiled when he saw the pink rising in Jane's cheeks.
"Mr. Smith, you need to know that I did tell someone who I trust completely that I am here. So no, you know..."
"Funny business? Miss Smith, I can't imagine what you are implying," he said with a wink. "Just kidding. I understand and promise. This is strictly business." He nodded sincerely. "Now come on over and eat up before it gets cold and mushy." He patted the sofa yet once again, and Jane finally complied. "Now that wasn't so hard, was it?" Jane felt a surge of electricity course through her body when he bumped her shoulder playfully with his own. "And to get any awkwardness out of the way, yes I was dating your friend Priscilla, but no, I am no longer seeing her."
"She's not my friend, Mr. Smith," Jane said quietly, before taking a ladylike bite from the end of a fat chip. "She is rather rude to me, in fact. I have no idea what I did to deserve it. It's almost like she resents me or something."
John swallowed the bite he was chewing quickly. "Blimey, I think I may be responsible for that," he said, sheepishly. "She said some rather unkind things about you, and I defended you. I said you were...fantastic."
Jane's eyes went wide and she laughed nervously. "She told me you ended it because she wasn't fantastic." Jane thought back to Priscilla's now obviously insincere apology in the ladies room at lunchtime, and a sense of worry began to take root in the pit of her stomach.
"I'm so sorry Jane," John said apologetically, but then he became stern, "but I would never sit idly by and listen to her speak that way about you, or anyone undeserving."
The sudden fierceness of John's voice overshadowed any vague fears of Priscilla, and she quickly decided that Mr. Smith was one man she would never want to cross; of course, this was also was the man to whom she was lying. What would happen when he found out? But on the other hand, he had defended her, and her heart was beating in confusion of these conflicting facts.
"It's all right Mr. Smith," she said, looking down so he couldn't see the nervousness in her eyes. "No one has ever defended me like that before. I've never needed defending." She turned to look at him. "Thank you. And just to get any awkwardness out of the way," she laughed, copying his own words, "no, I don't think that was any sort of grand declaration on your part. I am enough of a realist to know you were simply being a gentleman."
"Aye," he replied, "I suppose I was. But...you do deserve a grand declaration, Jane Smith. Something tells me you are more than simply fantastic. I have a feeling you are extraordinary." He examined her eyes, and saw something flash in them that seemed to prove his point.
Jane cleared her throat and laughed nervously. "You're too kind Mr. Smith--"
"Call me John?"
"All right. John it is, if you'll call me Jane. It's only fair. So why...why don't you tell me a bit about yourself." She needed to get off of the topic of Priscilla Bootkins.
John took a drink from his bottle of Coca-Cola and set it down on the side table. "I'm from Scotland, as if you couldn't guess," he said, hinting a smile. "From a wee village outside of Inverness. Not even on any map I reckon."
"Family still there then?"
"Nope. No brothers or sisters, and parents are both dead. I didn't really know Father that well. To his friends and even his me, my father was just a simple man with a boring job in the foreign service. But in reality, he was SIS."
"What's SIS?" asked Jane.
"Secret Intelligence Service."
"Seriously?!" Jane gasped, surprised.
"Yep. My Dad was a spy. He disappeared in 1939. A few years ago, I found a letter in my mother's things. It was from the Prime Minister himself. It was an official notification that it was believed Father was in Belgium when he was assassinated by a Nazi operative. The letter thanked Mother for her service. Can you imagine my surprise? Not only was Dad a spy, Mother had been SIS, too."
Jane stopped chewing, and her eyes went wide.
"Mr. and Mrs. Smith, in Her Majesty's Secret Service. So no wonder I was sent away to school when I was a wee bairn. That and I was a genius," he said in a straightforward manner, without pride.
"So, your mom was a spy? Like Mata Hari?" Jane asked, wide-eyed.
"No, not like Mata Hari!" he replied with a funny look on his face. "I remember her working at home when I was a wee small child. She would sit at our huge dining room table and translate official documents and books and such. She used to always sing while she worked. Somehow, I think it helped her do the work. Music is very mathematical, you know. I always remember her song..." he said wistfully, and then returned to his tale. "So she always had papers and stuff spread everywhere," he recalled fondly. "Once the war started in earnest, she was recalled to London as a code cracker and language expert. She had a very rare talent, Jane. Not only was she fluent in I don't know how many languages... French, German, ancient Gaelic, Old High Gallifreyan, Russian, Polish, Spanish... But if she saw a language written, any language, she could learn it. It was uncanny! Would have been a really great party trick," he joked with a bittersweet smile. "So she was in London during the Blitz, and I wasn't. I was 16 when she died."
John nodded. "She never had a chance. I was told she had just finished working on a code that ended up saving a whole American platoon. She refused to leave her desk because one more message had to be coded."
"She sounds like an amazing person, John."
"Aye, that she was," he smiled. "But soon, I was bored with school. Didn't seem that important or challenging anymore. Sure I wanted to learn, but it just wasn't enough. I wanted to be doing. So I cock and bulled my way into university at 16--"
"Probably didn't hurt that you're a genius..." Jane added.
"Probably not," he snickered. "So I went to university. The tuition was paid in full by a rather mysterious grant from the Tardis Foundation for Advancement of Science and Mathematics. Never knew who arranged it though. Just got a letter telling me that it had simply been taken care of."
"Tardis Foundation. Sounds familiar for some reason," Jane said, squinting deep in thought.
"I had just turned 18 when the War ended, so never was conscripted. Tried to sweet talk my way into the army, too, but I looked like I was about fourteen, all arms and knees and freckles and wild hair."
Jane had noticed those freckles, and imagined connecting them with a fingertip like a child's dot-to-dot game.
"When I finished up university, I joined up. Got commissioned. Officers were promoted fast those days, and within a few years I found myself in West Berlin, Captain John Smith, bright and shiny intelligence officer."
"So did you tangle with any Soviet spies? Sneak any brilliant Eastern Bloc scientists in through Checkpoint Charlie?" she asked, her eyes gleaming with excitement.
"I think someone has a thing for James Bond."
"Maybe," she replied with a coy smile.
"Or is it just men from Scotland in general?" he teased, imitating Sean Connery. "I happen to have an Aston Martin, just like 007," he sniffed proudly.
"You think you're so impressive," she said with a sly smile.
"I am so impressive."
She laughed a bit. "You are impressive actually. It isn't that I have a thing for spies, really. More like I have a thing for books about exciting people doing fantastic things. I suppose the closest I'll ever get to actually doing exciting things is to read about other people doing 'em. And that's why I like your books so much."
"Aww come on, you don't think this is exciting? Working in the best city in the world in a fancy office building? Meeting the impressive John Smith?" He gave her his most brilliant smile and waggled his eyebrows.
"Oh absolutely! The typing pool is chock full of intrigue and adventure," she said deadpan. "Actually, last Monday when I found out you were the mysterious author who'd been hired on, I though I might die of excitement right then and there. I've read every one of your books, several times. They're really brilliant."
"You're buttering me up, aren't you? Let's see. What could Jane Smith possibly want from me? I know! You are trying to get into my good graces so that I will...dedicate my next book to you. Wait! No! I got it! You want a job!" he teased.
"You're right about that, I would love to work for you, but since that isn't going to happen," she sighed, "I suppose I'll have to settle for charming you out of the rest of your chips." Her voice was teasing, and her smile showed a hint of tongue poking through her teeth.
John stared at her mouth for a moment, and then slowly handed her the paper cone. "Here," was all he could muster.
"Ta." One by one, she popped the rest of the chips into her mouth and then proceeded to lick her salty fingers without a second thought as to how the sight was affecting him.
He couldn't help himself from thinking definitely funny business, non-work related thoughts as he watched her plump, pink lips cleaning the greasy salt from her digits. Finally, she stopped her unwittingly sensual motions, and John found that he could breathe normally again.
"G...good chips?" he asked, clearing his throat.
"Brilliant. I'll have to go back there sometime. What's the shop called?" she asked, as she wiped her hands on a paper serviette.
"Uh...I can't remember," he replied nervously, deciding it was time to loosen his tie and roll up his sleeves. "Is it hot in here?"
"No, not particularly. Rather pleasant, actually," she replied, smiling.
He cleared his throat, and decided to remove his tie and unbutton the top button of his shirt while he was at it.
"Was wondering when you'd get around to making yourself more comfortable." Again, Jane playfully poked her tongue through her teeth.
John left the couch, suddenly feeling the need to distance himself from the girl. He didn't understand why such a simple, silly mannerism was affecting him so potently. Seeing that smile had flooded his mind with all sorts of ungentlemanly thoughts about Jane Smith: thoughts of licking, nibbling and tasting. He kicked himself mentally when he realized that they were the very same ungentlemanly thoughts he had entertained when he thought about Rose, recalling that she had smiled that very same smile.
But then he looked at Jane again. She was sitting primly on the orange sofa, looking about the room, completely unaware of the thoughts tramping through his head, and he realized it wasn't the tongue peeking grin at all that was prompting his fantasies. It was the way she really listened to him when he spoke, how she hanged on every word. It was how her eyes danced when she talked about his books; how she blushed when he said anything remotely teasing or flirtatious. It was how grateful she had been to learn he had defended her. His thoughts then drifted to Rose, and he frowned, suddenly feeling like he was betraying The One, thinking about Jane in the same way that he thought about Rose Tyler, the girl of his dreams.
He looked back at Jane and found himself wondering what she looked like under all of those layers of tweed armor under which she hid. If he peeled back the layers, loosened her hair, and slipped off her glasses, what would she look like? Something was nagging at him, challenging him to pull them off, to take a good look at her. He took a halting step forward and sat down awkwardly next to Jane. He lifted his hand, reaching towards her face.
"John, are you all right?" Jane was scowling at him. "You've been staring at me for about a minute with the funniest look on your face."
"Oh, sorry, I...I think I must be nervous or tired, or nervous and tired...and...nervous. Did I say that already? Deadline you know. Do you like working here at Prescott?" He changed the topic quickly.
"I do, actually. And I hope you don't think I'm complaining, because I'm not. Not really. It's steady and...it's...it's fine, and I am happy to have the work. And if you had asked me a year ago if working in London would have been an exciting, no doubt my answer would've been yes. But so much has happened since then. I don't have any family anymore since Mum died."
John sympathized with her. They both were alone in the world.
"I've sold my childhood home and most of our possessions. I've moved from the Cotswolds to London without knowing a soul. Accepted a job sight unseen. Moved in with an heiress who has an actual honest to goodness career, and is more successful than most men are. So I'm surrounded by interesting people with big, interesting lives. It's not like I want to be famous or anything. I just want to make a difference, like she does, like you do. I want to go places, see things. Just be...bigger! My life is so small John." Jane turned and looked at him. He could feel the frustration emanating from her. "I feel like I'm a nobody, which has never bothered me before. I've always simply been content to be a nobody, to be invisible, but you're the first person that I've met...who I think maybe...that maybe...for some reason...I feel like...like...you might understand..."
John listened quietly as the girl poured her heart out to him. He had an overwhelming urge to wrap his arms around her and comfort her. He started to act on his impulse, but then she stood up to dispose of the fish and chip wrapper.
"I can't believe I just told you all of that. I'm sorry," she said, embarrassed.
"Why are you sorry?"
"That was just, too personal and not anything I have ever told anyone before. It's the sort of thing I should write in my journal, not tell a co-worker."
"And I've never told anyone about my parents' secret before either," he countered quietly. "I guess we both needed someone to share our secrets with. Thanks for trusting me." John took Jane's hand and squeezed it. Their hands fit together perfectly. "I want you to look at me Jane." With a gentle finger on her chin, he encouraged her to look at him. "You are not a nobody. I don't care what Priscilla GiveHerTheBootkins said about you, Jane Smith. You are beyond fantastic." He meant every word he had just said.
Jane looked down at their joined hands and flushed. "I need to use the ladies. Do you think it's safe for me to sneak out of here yet?"
John looked at his wristwatch. "6:20? Already? I feel like I could talk with you all night, but I suppose we should really get to working on the book."
"I'll be back in a tic, and we'll get started." Jane scurried out of his office.
John ran for the phone and dialed Jack at work. "Jack, buddy, I've got a problem."
"Hi Jack, how are you today?" Jack affected an overly polite greeting. "Oh fine, John, buddy old pal, I am just great! Thanks so much for asking. Doc, why is it that you only call me when you have a problem?"
"You're so right. Very sorry. I only have a minute. You know how I said that I thought I had found The One on Saturday night? Rose Tyler? Well Jack, I have found a second The One. Is it possible to fall madly and sincerely in love with two women at the same time?"
"So who is it this time?" Jack sighed, frustrated.
"It's Jane Smith, from the office."
This time, Jack almost burst out laughing. "You're joking, right?"
"Absolutely not joking. Never been more serious. Rose is fun and full of life and amazingly beautiful and smart and caring and a bit of a mystery. Jane is honest, kind and...trusting and...so, so smart. She's was bit reserved, or maybe she was just shy, but that now that she's opened up...it's like they're like two sides of the same beautiful golden coin! They even look alike! Rose is a bit more polished I suppose, but Jane is pretty in a natural sort of way, like the sunrise or...or...a field of flowers."
Jack snickered at the sentimental picture that John was painting, imagining the Doctor in black leather speaking this way.
"She just moved here from the Cotswolds so I think she's a bit of a country girl. I wonder if she likes going on nature hikes? You know, I really miss simply pointing my feet and seeing where they lead me. My feet had been itching to move since I moved down here from the Highlands. I wonder...maybe they're related, like long lost cousins or something. Common genetics would explain their similar facial structure, as well as their identical bust, waist and hip measurements," he mused.
"You know their measurements? I thought you said you had been a gentleman with that Rose woman."
"I have very acute observational skills, Jack. So, what do I do?"
"Ask her out," Jack suggested plainly.
"That's it? That's the best you've got?"
"Yep." Jack said with amazing nonchalance and self restraint as he silently punched his fist in the air, and did a happy dance in his chair.
John heard her footfall in the distance. "Oh, I hear her. She's coming back. Gotta go." John quietly replaced the receiver in the cradle and casually sat on the edge if his desk with his arms crossed. He heard a commotion out in the common area and went to take a look. Jane was deep under her desk, her rear end the only thing visible.
"Uh, let me get that for you Jane," John called from his office after he allowed himself to enjoy the view for a moment.
"Oh thanks." Jane unplugged the electrical cord and extracted herself from under the desk. She picked up a thick stack of blank paper, a sheet of correction paper and an extra ribbon, just in case John got wordy.
John carried the heavy machine into his office and set it on his desk, and motioned for her to sit in his big, comfortable, expensive chair. She sat down, and he pushed the chair in for her, and then she adjusted it until it was at the proper height. He stood next to her, resting his hand on the seat back, and drew in a deep breath. She smiled up at him, wiggled her fingers and then positioned her hands on the keyboard and nodded.
"Ready?" he asked, like a racehorse waiting for the gate to fly open.
"Ready." She smiled her brightest smile, fixed her eyes on the paper, and her mind on the sound of his voice.
Their collaboration began.
John dictated rapid-fire as he paced, bounced, jumped and even ran around the room from time to time. When he couldn't come up with a thought, all he had to do was look at Jane, ask his question or even just say one word, and she'd think of something.
"Iris and the Professor stood on the hill overlooking the fairytale city below. His hand found hers and he dragged her down the path--"
"John, what if Svaldilusia wasn't just a city, but an itsy bitsy little country like Andorra or Monaco. Like a city-state," said Jane, for the first time offering a suggestion without being asked. "And what if it was nestled high in an alpine valley? Landlocked?"
John nodded in agreement as he tapped his finger on the side of his face. "Hmmm...keep going..."
"And high above the city was a sprawling palace full of tunnels and hidden rooms and...a properly scary dungeon. It hangs on the mountainside, looking just like something out of a fairytale to the citizens in the city below, but..." she passed the thought to John to complete.
"But what if the fair citizens down below don't know is going on up in their beloved castle on the mountain? High above them there are intrigues, and plotting, danger, romance, deceptions, even murder and--"
"Spies!" Jane exclaimed.
"Of course there are spies, Jane Smith."
With ease, John dictated nearly nonstop save an occasional sip of water, gulp of coffee or the occasional request. "Jane, what is the waitress's name?"
"Azynda, and she has light pink hair, deep brown skin, and Iris is jealous 'cos the Professor keeps sneaking peeks at her when he thinks she isn't looking."
"Oh, but he isn't sneaking peeks, Jane, he is simply fascinated by the culture. He is studying it, taking it all in."
"The Professor is a flirt," Jane stated it as a fact.
"He is not!"
"What about that tree woman?"
"That was their first trip, and he was simply being polite. She was royalty. And what about Iris and her tight little Capri trousers and clingy jumpers?"
"She's your character, you're the one giving her those little outfits," Jane countered with a laugh.
"Suppose you're right on that count," he replied, scratching his face sheepishly.
"Well he's still a flirt, and it hurts Iris's feelings. Makes her feel...vulnerable."
John stopped his pacing and looked at her with a pained face. "You think so?"
"I think it makes her wonder if she is going to be left behind sometime or somewhere. She needs to know he'll never just leave her, or try and send her away again."
"Well maybe it's time she knows he's never going to leave her."
"Thought you were saving that for a future book," she said with a sly smile.
"Maybe you've changed my mind, Jane Smith," he said low, with heavy eyes.
Jane was afraid to acknowledge what he had just implied, and the matter was dropped. They returned to the pressing matter of chapter one. "By the time Miss Minchin returned to her lounge carrying the delicious looking confection of berries and cream for her impromptu overnight guests, Iris was starting to feel even more uncomfortable than she had even two minutes prior, if that were possible. What had felt like a hot, flushing in her cheeks had now encompassed her entire body, like a thousand tiny ants were marching in formation over every inch of skin. The Professor, however, was oblivious to her suffering, and was only thinking about sinking his teeth into the cake--"
"That's not what it felt like..." Jane said quietly.
"Hmm?" John asked.
"That's not what it felt like...I mean," she shook her head to clear her tired, addled mind. "I meant to say, I don't think that's what it would have felt like...the curry poisoning. She felt..." she cleared her throat and blushed.
"What? What did she feel like?" John came and sat on the edge of the desk next to her.
Jane looked up at John. "She felt like she was burning from the inside out, and if the Professor didn't snog her right then and there, she might drag him down the hall and tear that pinstriped suit right off of him."
John looked at her, eyes wide and mouth gaping for a moment, and then he burst into hysterical laughter. "You're telling me that the spices in the curry were some sort of hyper aphrodisiac? And turned sweet Iris Mason into a wanton love goddess?"
Jane slunk down into the chair and nodded shyly.
"But, would the Professor give in? Or would he gently reject her advances given she wasn't in her right mind? It's not like in the last book when...they were forced into that epic kiss and...other things..." He blushed, but was unsure why it embarrassed him to speak of that particular scene in front of Jane, knowing she had already read the book. "...by those psychotropic mushrooms."
"The thing is, the spices wouldn't be forcing her to do anything she didn't want to do, it would simply magnify...her...unrealized desires. It would lower her inhibitions," countered Jane, shyly.
"So the real question is, when the Professor is finally confronted with the truth of what is in Iris's heart, how will he respond?" John stared out the window at the lights of below reflecting on the rain slick street. He turned around and faced Jane. "Guess we'll find out in the next chapter, hmm?" he said with a slightly wolfish grin. "I do know one thing, though. The Professor would never ever take advantage of Iris in her altered condition."
"So this is the book then? This is it? Finally? He's gonna tell her?"
"Yep," he answered simply. "How are we doing on word count?"
Jane looked done at her tally sheet and did a quick calculation in her head. "You've come up with approximately 5,200 words."
"Mm hmm," she replied.
"We did it then!" He broke into a smile, ran around to her side of the desk, dragged her chair away, and pulled her out of it into a celebratory hug, lifting her off of her feet and swinging her from side to side as they both laughed gleefully. He set her back down, but they stayed in their embrace. Their giddy jubilation had now been replaced with that feeling of emotional intimacy that comes from shared victory.
He pulled back, and with tenderness, touched her cheek with a single fingertip. "Maybe..." he swallowed hard, "maybe our shared last name isn't just a silly coincidence after all...maybe it's a sign of things to come," he said quietly.
Jane couldn't take her eyes off of his. She was frozen in the moment.
"Jane, will...will you go out with me tomorrow, I mean..." he laughed nervously, "tonight?" It was an impulsive request. He hadn't thought it through. It had simply popped out of his mouth.
Jane just stared, still unable to say anything, but now she was shaking in his arms.
"I'm...I'm sorry I think I just overstepped--" He retracted his words, misreading her silence for rejection.
"Yes!" she blurted, and then her voice softened. "Yes, John Smith, I will."
"You will?" he asked shyly. For the first time that he could remember, John felt like a woman had taken the upper hand. He felt like his heart was at the mercy of the quiet girl with glasses, old fashioned hair and sensible shoes.
"You have to ask why Jane? Because you are fantastic, that's why," he said, a bit upset, pulling back and moving his hands on her upper arms. His hold on her was firm, but not forceful.
"But I'm just Jane Smith," she said, nervous looking away from his smoldering gaze, "and you're...you're a famous writer, and...and...you have your pick of glamorous women and...and...I...I...don't do...those things that you are probably used to...doing," she said in a voice so quiet that it was almost inaudible.
He led her to the sofa by the hand, never breaking eye contact.
"Uh, what are you doing?" she asked, suddenly terrified. "Are you...are you going to try and...John, I just told you I don't...I won't..."
"What?" he exclaimed, somewhat aghast. "Jane I would never ever never force myself on you...or any woman!"
"I'm s...sorry! I didn't mean to upset you! I...I...I have no experience with men, John. None. I've just...h...heard stories of...of...h...handsome worldly m...men like you t...taking advantage of...of...shy girls like me and I...I..." Tears started to well in her eyes.
"I guess I will have to prove to you then that my intentions are completely...gentlemanly." He examined her eyes, and was saddened by what he found: it was the look of panic that a small helpless animal would have when they are about to flee. "I promise Jane, I would never ever ask you to do anything you didn't feel right about doing. I promise." He held up his hands in innocence.
"I believe you," she replied, finally relaxing a bit. "I think I had better get home though. It's really late, and Bess'll be thinking the worst."
"Bess?" he asked, straining to recall why that name was triggering a memory.
"Bess Cooper, from editing. She's my flatmate."
"Oh, right, right," he said nervously, but then looked at his watch. "Jane, it's just after 2:00. I won't let you take a taxi alone at this time of night. I'll drive you home."
"No!" She shook her head in protest. "What if someone saw me get out of a man's car at 2:30 in the morning! What would they think?"
He rubbed his hands down each side of his face in frustration. "You're right. They would think exactly what you are thinking they would think. You'll have to stay here."
"And show up at work in the morning in the same clothes? How is that any better?"
"Call your flatmate and ask her if she'll bring you a change of clothing, and then...and then try and get some sleep. I know I'm exhausted, you must be too."
Jane noticed that shadowy stubble was starting to appear on his face. She wondered how the masculine roughness would feel against her cheek or neck. She had never been kissed before. Would it hurt? Scratch? Tickle? She decided it would feel wonderful and her stomach flipped at the thought of his mouth dropping kisses to her lips, down her neck and--
"Jane? Are you all right?"
She nodded wordlessly and went to the phone and slowly picked up the receiver. She squeezed her eyes shut as she waited for her friend to answer.
"Sorry to wake you Bess..."
John and Jane dropped off to sleep around 4:30 am, having completed the finishing touches to chapter one of the still-to-be-named novel. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a more than adequate first draft, and ready to be presented to Daniel Higgins for first editing.
It was now 6:15, and the morning light was just beginning to soften the darkness of John’s office. Sometime between 4:30 and now, John and Jane had moved close to one another. Jane’s head was resting on his left shoulder, and his arm was around her back, pulling her close into his warm side. Her left arm had snaked its way around his waist, and she was turned slightly into his chest, perfectly comfortable.
The door to John’s office creaked open, and the light came on startling the pair awake. They jumped away from each other like a couple of teenagers who’d been caught in the dark by a disapproving adult.
Bess looked at them, one eyebrow cocked, and jaw set. In one hand she held a hanger bearing a blush pink, four button jacket with a matching skirt. Over her shoulder was a tote filled with personal and grooming items.
“Here is the change of clothes you requested, Jane,” Bess said with a slightly judgmental tone.
“Miss Cooper, this is completely innocent, I assure you.” John held up his hands as if in surrender.
“Oh, I’m sure it is. I trust Jane implicitly. It’s you I don’t know, Mr. Smith,” Bess said plainly, looking him in the eye.
“Bess, I promise! Nothing happened! He was a perfect gentleman!” It had been an emotional twenty-four hours. Priscilla’s thinly-veiled threats, working closely with John all night, and his sudden revelation that he wanted to date her, were crashing into her fatigue and the stress of keeping up the facade of Rose Tyler. Jane was having difficulty keeping a tight reign on her composure.
“Go put yourself together, darling.” Bess never took her eyes off of John as she spoke. Jane stood quickly and grabbed the things from Bess, and nearly ran out of the room trying to hold back her sobs until she was clear of their sight.
“Jane,” John called after her, sensing how upset she was.
“Did you even stop to think, hmm? Or were you were so worried about your precious book? Do you realize that you have put this girl in a very awkward position? If this gets out, Mr. Smith, it could ruin her reputation.”
“Miss Coop—“ John was cut off by Bess’s raised hand.
“I’m not done with you,” she pointed at John. “I truly hope, for her sake, that no one noticed that Jane never left the building last night. And for your sake, I hope that if they did, they have the good sense to keep their mouth shut, because Mr. Smith, if Jane’s reputation is compromised… if I hear one rumor, one hint of gossip, you will have to deal with me. And when I’m done with you, Niles will come after you. And I promise you, Mr. Smith, Niles has ways to hurt you that would make the Marquis de Sade whimper for mercy.”
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking, Miss Cooper. You are right. It was selfish of me.”
Bess’s hands were clenched, and her normally perfectly placed navy blue pillbox hat was cocked to the side. Her face showed her fury. “I mean every single word of it, John Smith. Don’t you dare ever pull anything like this again, do you understand?”
“Good. Now that we are clear on that point, what are your intentions towards Jane? She has no one to look after her but Niles and me. No one. And I’ve seen the way you look at her. She's told me how you have started to stop by her desk, asking for advice on your book. You are giving her an awful lot of attention, but what is your motivation? I’m not saying that she doesn’t deserve the attention, because she does, probably more than most. But she deserves attention from someone who is sincere. She likes you John, I can tell, but I’m sure you already know that. What woman doesn’t want you? Well, there is me, but I know I am of the few exceptions," she said, somewhat facetiously.
John muttered something under his breath.
“So, what are your intentions?"
"If you would stop talking for a minute, I might be able to tell you," he said through gritted teeth. "I like Jane very much, and I wish to get to know her better."
"So what are your plans for this? How do you intend to get to know her?”
“As a matter of fact, I have already asked Jane on a date for this evening, and she has accepted.” He said, nose tipped upward, defiantly.
"Alright. A least that is above board, and not another clandestine rendezvous."
"That was never my intention, Bess Cooper, and I think you know that."
“You ready to stop dating other women? I know that you are not exactly…exclusive in your social habits. Niles has mentioned that you have a bit of a reputation with the ladies.”
“No, you’re right. I haven't been exclusive, Miss Cooper.”
“Does Jane know this? Because I can assure you, she is not the type to casually give away her affections.”
He crossed his arms and swore under his breath. “I know Jane is different. That’s one of the reasons I like her so much.”
“Well then, there you have it. If you value her, I suggest you tell her, and soon. I will not stand by and see her hurt because she thought that she was the only hen in the henhouse when you were visiting the whole coop. She is like a sister to me.”
“I’m not…I’m not going to hurt her, Miss Cooper. I’m not playing some game.” He closed his eyes, saying the words like he believed them, but churning inside knowing that is exactly what he was doing, and he knew it would be a game that someone was ultimately going to lose: Jane, Rose, himself or all three.
“Alright then, if that’s the case, you will stop seeing other women or you will cancel your date with Jane.”
“It’s just a date, Miss Cooper." He knew it was himself that he as trying to convince. "Just dinner. Nothing fancy or impressive. I was simply going to take her to get some Indian food. We were talking about curry last night and--”
“You will tell her about these other women.”
“Not women,” he growled, “woman." Rose, only Rose. "I have one date on Saturday with one woman." John stood up angrily, finally finding his own voice.
"Is she important to you too? As important as you claim Jane to be?"
John made a rumbling sound in his throat that should have scared a grown man, but Bess stood undaunted.
"She is, isn't she?" Bess smiled cooly. "I can tell by the look in your eyes, Mr. Smith."
"I am...interested in Rose, yes. Just like I am interested in Jane."
"Rose? That's her name?" Bess almost choked.
"Yes. Rose Tyler not that its any of your business." John crossed his arms and set his jaw. "It isn't exactly illegal, Miss Cooper, for a healthy man to want to…Who do you think you...I am a grown man and...What right do you have to…" John couldn't string together one coherent thought, he was feeling a sense of dread overwhelming him, so he took the defensive approach. "Don't interfere with my life, Miss Cooper! And maybe you should stop interfering with Jane's. She deserves some happiness, you know. And furthermore, she's an adult and so am I!”
It took Bess Cooper every bit of strength she cold muster to prevent herself from collapsing into a fit of hysterics right then and there in John Smith's office. She breathed in and out a few times. From John's perspective, it looked like she was seething, keeping a tight reign on her anger. Oh, how she wanted to just blurt out the truth and save everyone a lot of heartache and confusion. John wasn't such a cad after all. She also decided that he was right. They were adults, and these two adults had each dug themselves into their very own deep holes; and out of their very own holes, maybe it was a shared hole, they would have to climb.
Bess took one more deep breath. “Don't string her along." Bess turned with a flourish on her expensive heel, and then pause at the door and looked back at John. "Don't string that other woman along either." Bess made her exit and then swiftly made her way down the corridor with both of her hands over her mouth to stifle her laughter.
"I need to call Jack," John said with a groan as he dropped back onto his orange sofa.
- Feeling...: sleepy
- Listening to...:My Ideal, Chet Baker