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Watch the Sun Go Down

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It's just a fact that when Jake gets to the bar, he's looking for a fight. Well, anything will do, really; if he ends up drunk off his face, he'll call it a success—and of course, the more he drinks, the more likely he is to find a fight.

He scans the room as he enters, just habit really, and sees muscle-bound steroid-junkies (not likely), a couple scrappy-looking youngsters (far too young for him), and just one jerkward (sometimes first impressions are accurate) hitting on a girl who is not into it.

Jake tells himself that he doesn't care, it's not his business, but some things were ingrained at the Academy and when you see something wrong, you correct it.

"Hey, buddy," Jake says.

"What the hell do you want?" the man replies, already hostile.

"I'm thinking this woman has other interests here tonight."

"Yeah, and what do you care?"

The woman speaks for the first time, and Jake is pleasantly surprised. "Now I've got two men paying me attention when I wanted none. Can ya both bugger off, or is this going to turn into—"

The man pushes Jake, and he is blown out of the water when the woman cranks back and puts her all into punching the guy in the face. Quickly, Jake grabs the guy and rams his head against the wall, then turns casually to the woman and says, "You wanna get out of here?"

"Yessir. On the double, I think."

On the double it is, getting out of a hairy situation before it gets any hairier. They'd both had a few, so they grab a cab home. Jake gives the cabbie his address and the woman doesn't argue, and then he realizes they haven't been introduced, and then, when he gets a better look at her, he recognizes her.

"Leslie Bennett? As I live and breathe."

She looks back just as hard and then says, "Jake Doyle. Is this a surprise?"

"That sounds like a question."

"Last I knew you were top of the Academy, on track for a primo career in law enforcement."

"Last I knew you, you were my main competition. But a law enforcement official can have a night out, of course. Maybe it's the locale that provides the cognitive dissonance."

"Yeah, well. Let's say things didn't exactly go as planned."

"I could say about the same." The cab reaches its destination and Jake pays. "Now, this is a bit forward."

"We are standing outside what I assume is your house, yeah."

"Well, nightcap?"

Leslie smirks in a way that says she won't be coming in just for a nightcap. But, "Absolutely," she says. "I could use it."

As soon as the door is closed behind them, one of them takes a step forward and without a beat they are kissing, hungrily and without restraint. Jake has a certain amount of the gentleman still in him, and he would lead the way to the bed if he could separate long enough to do so. Instead, they end up screwing on the couch, the first piece of furniture they see.

After a rest, they do move to the bed, and they go at it again, anything between them—hesitation, shyness, doubt—left behind at the door, and what's left is a surprising amount of passion, sweat, and flexibility.

It's a night to remember, to say the least, and they aren't drunk enough to forget.

Enough of a night that, wonder of wonders, Leslie stays until morning. This is unprecedented for both of them, but they were legitimately exhausted enough to sleep through the night. As soon as they wake up, Jake makes it clear he will not be providing breakfast. Instead of getting into a huff, Leslie laughs out loud.

"No worries there, Jake my boy. I get breakfast on the road."

To where, he thinks but does not say. Questions are not a morning after thing. Not for Jake. Likely, from what he can tell, not for Leslie either.

By the time Jake turns back, looking over his shoulder at Leslie, she's gotten into his bedside notebook.

"Hey, now!"

"Oh sorry, is this your diary? It was just sitting open here… right here where I could see it…"

"Nah, nothing sordid. I'm sure you'll be disappointed, in fact."

"Numbers… addresses… more numbers… Booring."

That's kind of the point, he thinks, watching amused as she flips through the notebook, finding nothing at all of interest. Then she looks up, and sees his bulletin board. Oops. Diamonds. Jewellery. Surveillance photos of houses obviously out of his price range.

Not so easy to explain away.

"To be fair," he says, as she gets up and walks closer to peer at the photos. "I don't generally bring girls back here."

"Ooooh," she says. "So I'm special."

"Please. You're, uh, an exception to the rule. It wasn't exactly well-thought-out."

"Oh, now, Jake, you must know better ways of speaking to girls."

"Well…" He stalls. "I just like to look at jewellery. And big houses. Call it jealousy, or a vision board."

"A vision board." Leslie sputters with laughter. "You know those are only for girls who can't actually go out and get what they want?"

"And you're the opposite, of course."

She smirks and raises and eyebrow.

"I'll give you that," he says on a laugh. "Now, please, stop staring at my vision board and…"

"Get out of your hair? And you're sticking with vision board, which tells me it's anything but."

"Oh, lord." Jake gets up and follows behind as she peruses the board.

"Not used to a girl with perseverance, are you Jake-y boy. Tells me you've been looking beneath your pay grade. Or, I suppose I should say, what was your pay grade long ago—"

At that, he lunges for her waist, tugging her away as she laughs and pretends to fight. Soon enough she's turned around and they're kissing again, sloppy with laughter and ruse.

"Don't think you'll distract me," she says, pulling away just a little. "I see a plan forming here and…"

Jake holds his breath, waiting for something he definitely does not want to hear.

"I want in."

He scoffs. "Really? Miss Top of Her Class Leslie Bennett? You sure you know what you're getting into?"

"I've had a life since you knew me," she says, coy. "You'd be glad to have me along."

Watching her appraisingly, Jake ponders his options. "I guess I'd better hear you out. You do have a tiny bit of… shall we say… reason to suspect." He takes another minute, then decides: "How about we go out for something to eat. Chat this over a little."

She mimes a shocked face. "Breakfast, Jake Doyle?" Then, on her way out the door, with a wink, "I thought you'd never ask."

Jake drives them to the Bagel Café and they order French toast and Eggs Benedict to share. Leslie has ideas, he'll give her that. Good ideas, too. It's not her arse on the line so she can say things like, "If you use your own car, you've got to minimize any suspicion connected to it," and "Do you have a way to move things that won't be connected back to you?" Jake shushes her and waves her down but she has an excitement to her that is endearing as heck.

And she's smart—really smart—which is, he tells himself, what this all hinges on. In truth, she is drawing him in to herself just by speaking and he can't swear that he wouldn't try to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to a land developer if she convinced him it was a good idea.

They shake at the end of the meal; they will do this together, because they each have something to offer, and he has no reason not to trust her. You can't quite ask for reference letters for a job like this, so it will do.

When he drives her back to his place, she stops him at the door.

"One more thing."

This he doesn't see coming, to be honest.

"If we're going to work together, we can't let things get complicated. When emotions get involved, things get messy. We have to keep our relationship strictly professional if this is going to work."

He looks at her there, in his dank little foyer, terrible lighting, terrible backdrop, and she looks absolutely gorgeous. He has to decide whether to carry through on the job he's been planning for months now, the one he's already started hinting around to Christian, his only mainland connection—or give it all up for maybe one more night with her.

He chooses the job.

Lord knows if it will prove to be the right call.