Spoilers: Up to 3x03
Summary: Nick/Jenny work things out. References a 3x03 comment, bit angsty in that case unless you ignore that completely. ;)
A/N: Betaread by doylefan22 and rodlox - you guys are awesome for the speedy turnaround! :) Late fic for black-rose-fics for 2009 primevalathon.
What was she like?
She's wanted to ask about Claudia ever since she met Helen – ironic that her comments sparked an interest where she'd had none before. One person sounded crazy; two people made it real, though there was still a distinct possibility both of them were mad as hatters (Lester had medical teams researching anomaly side effects for that very reason).
Was she like me?
She wants to ask but she doesn't, because it's too soon after Stephen. It's too soon, it's too raw to remind him what else he's lost. Jenny knows he'd just look at her like he wishes she was someone else, like he did when she'd first told him that he had her confused. The difference is now she wants him to be right, she wants him to find that woman in her. If she knew a little more then maybe she'd find her inner Claudia Brown. Would it be the worst thing if she was a bit the same, other than looks? If it would make him the slightest bit happier, she wants it to be.
Am I really that similar?
She still wants to ask a month after and yet she can't. When will it ever be appropriate if he doesn't bring it up? Looks like she trained him well because he doesn't mention it all – no slips of the tongue, no bewildered glances where he forgets. Finally he sees her fully as Jenny Lewis and she's not sure if that's enough for her, to just be the woman he's been mistaking for someone else after she's gotten used to meaning more. It's a curse that all that emotion he felt was incidental to her having doppelganger in another reality.
Am I the woman you love?
She doesn't ask, she pushes her curiosity down – whatever will be will be. A week past that though she thinks stuff it! and she has a bright idea. A crazy idea too.
Nick stares at her sitting on the bench and then down at the letter he'd holding. A crisp clean sheet, short and precise, handwritten and signed with a dramatic flourish.
“Claudia Brown would like to meet you in the memorial garden. I knew this was a joke,” he points a finger to, well, make a point, “Didn't expect this malarkey from you but oh, I should've known it would be the last person I suspected. You're...something else.”
He shakes his head, bemused and Jenny pretends to think for a moment as she gets up, seemingly considering his words before answering, with a self-satisfied smirk to top it off.
“Yes, I am”
Hopefully he meant something special and not a piece of work.
“You're not Claudia Brown,” he says exasperated, angrily pointing at the fake signature.
“Not by name at least.”
“Oh, now you think you're the same, do you?” His words are half-accusation, half-laughed, as he steps forward.
Does he think that's raising the bar? He's never properly argued with her before. He might be all in her face, close enough to spit practically and she's lucky he's a man who doesn't, but it will take more than that to get her off this track. Calmly she answers him in the manner she has perfected; all bossy so and so that anyone in an argument with her hates.
“I was hoping you'd tell me.”
“Haven't I been doing that since I first met you?”
That was his first mistake, his repeated mistake in fact - now she remembers what it was about him that made her blood boil, that made her despise that bloody name he kept forcing on her day after day.
“No! You were telling a woman you didn't know that she was someone else entirely. I want you to tell me how we're alike, Claudia Brown and I, now that you know me.”
That hadn't come out like she'd wanted.
Nick stared at her for the second time that day. Oddly, she couldn't tell if he was angry at all. A moment ago he had appeared furious which made the stillness, the silence from him, all the more strange.
Jenny was losing her cool, and her control. She found herself leaning forward, daring him, egging him on – thinking just say something won't you, say what you're thinking damn you. Oh yes, things were not going to plan.
“Do I know you?” he asks huskily. Trust Nick to start playing Devil's Advocate when he gets his head round the idea she wanted him to realise.
“I would've said you have a good start. You could get more in-depth.”
She was expecting him to reply with a vaguely clichéd retort like, in-depth is what I do best, or a cheesy rude professor joke about studying specimens. What she hadn't considered was his warm lips closing down on hers, before capturing her top lip, teasing her. When she came to her senses, or at least one good sense to respond, she caught him off guard, like her hesitation had made him confident and actual two way interaction was more intimidating. He pulled back as though startled despite the fact he'd been the one to initiate it.
Jenny didn't let him pause for thought though, deciding that the time for decisive action was definitely now. Pulling his head closer, her lips closed on his, strong and sure. The goal was to kiss him with enough passion to force all thought out of his brain and make sure he didn't second guess himself for one second longer. But as she lost herself in the sensation and felt his tongue caressing the tender skin of her inner lip, she let out a light moan and pretty much forgot the why herself. Her hands snaked round his neck and back, a desperate plea for there to be less space between them, and his own hands on her waist scooted her hips up against his until they were flush.
Only it was over far too soon, both unprepared for how worked up they'd gotten and thoroughly out of breath. They broke it off, Jenny resting her head in the crook of his neck, pressing a few small kisses to his skin, making him shudder gently with pleasure. The whole thing would have felt unreal to her if she hadn't been holding on so tight. All she'd wanted was an explanation and instead she got more than Claudia ever had.
He was the first to say something and it was said quietly but jovially – not a tone she'd heard from him much in the past few months.
“I don't think that was quite the right order we're meant to go in.”
“As if you care, Nick Cutter,” she glanced up and smiled freely before settling herself against his cheek, testing the roughness like it was foreign to her. It had been a while since she'd had any stubble burn, but she couldn't say she missed it.
“You're right, I couldn't give a toss.”
“Careful what you say.”
“Am I giving you ideas? Because if I am that's your dirty mind, thank you very much.”
“You might just thank me if I followed through, but you're right, let's take things slow. The time honoured route. How about a drink sometime?”
He grimaced, “I'm busy tonight.”
“And not with me? I'm offended”
“Ask me again, another time.”
He did looked genuinely annoyed to not be able to say yes...
“I plan to.”
“Please do,” he whispered in her ear, before he stepped back. He held one hand, such a sentimental gesture like he didn't want to let go yet. “I'll look forward to it.”
Of course then he walked away, in what must be a typical Cutter style, a few steps backwards before spinning on his heel. What was different was the grin on his face, possibly a spring to his step as well, and she couldn't help but grin at this too.
“Me too,” she calls out as she stands in the breeze. Being outside suddenly feels a lot colder, more exposed.
No matter how much time passed, he was denied what he wanted – Helen, Claudia – and she hadn't got what she thought she wanted either. They'd both gotten what they needed. Personally, she thought she damn well needed more of that.