Jess Mastriani never fitted into my neat little world. She was young, vibrant, alive and messy. My world was about keeping things neat, ordered, I was in charge and I liked it that way. I had my work, my wife, my children, it was neat, and tidy, and uncomplicated... until she came along.
I thought her 'powers' were amusing the first time I heard about her, but her solve rate was unquestionable. I thought she was too much of a kid, not real FBI material, but it was her visions I needed, so I pulled her out of training early, and she proved herself worthy after all.
She grew on me very quickly, despite how she kept turning my world on its head. When she'd had the visions about me and... my informant... I gained a new level of respect for her, but also a new level of fear. She could know things about me even when I tried to hide them, the only saving grace was that her visions to date seemed to be only about the cases they worked on... I hoped I never went missing.
After I met her brother, I remember thinking that I could never handle it, handle someone with an illness like that, it made her bound to whole new levels of respect on my internal scale. She handled it, she didn't even resent her brother for it; she was a better person than I was for certain.
It only got more complicated after my wife left me. Or more accurately, after she threw me out. Now I hadn't been expecting that. We had an arrangement. I was married to my work, she was married to me. She got her house, her car and her Prada shoes. I got a wife, kids and a nice neat home-life. If she occasionally found someone to ease her loneliness while I was working... well the house was off-limits, but we had a suit at the Regent Hotel.
My neat little world was then very, very messy.
Of course she knew, she picked up on it, and I was sure it had nothing do with visions, and everything to do with her great ability to care about people. I almost had to be amused by it all, her dragging me out of the bar and into her car, she took me to her apartment, it was nice, it suited her personality.
She offered me coffee, and because I was a gentlemen, or at least I gave a good show of pretending to be on occasion, I accepted it. I wasn't really that drunk, so one cup had me well on the track to sobriety, but that hadn't been my plan for the evening.
I wanted to get drunk, to lose control, to do something crazy, because like her brother had told me, sometimes it was good to be a little crazy and with my whole world falling apart around me, then seemed as good a time as any. But of course I was practically sober instead, sitting on my subordinate's sofa, while she sat watching me, her expression changing from second to second like she couldn't quite decide what she was supposed to feel about the whole situation, so I did the most truly crazy thing I've done in my life to date, I kissed her.
Of course it wasn't entirely my fault, because she'd kissed me back and somewhere between then at dawn we both ended up in her bed.
I left before she woke up, and I tried damn hard to make things at work normal, frankly, I thought I was doing a damn good job, until I over heard her talking to Nicole and Antonio.
"Well I sorta slept with him." I heard her say.
"Pollock? What are you crazy?" Nicole asked her, and I had to smile, because really it was kinda crazy.
"Well it's not like I meant to! It just happened, but... I think... I'm well late..."
"Late?" Antonio sounded puzzled... this man was married? Even *I* know that the means.
"Yeah as in... late..."
I could practically hear the cogs turning in their minds, as they continued to whisper among themselves. I knew this made things a lot more complicated.
I really didn't like how crazy my world was becoming. Middle-aged, mid-way through divorce proceedings and I'd very possibly gotten a junior agent pregnant. The main problem however was that I really didn't mind the idea of her having my child and I really hadn't minded being with her that night, and I really, really didn't mind the idea of more, but she was too young for me, and I was too stubborn for her, so it was a bad match and that made things very complicated, very crazy and I didn't like it.
I wanted neat, ordered, I wanted to be in charge and not have to lie in my hotel room not sleeping, and wondering if she was pregnant and if she was, when would she tell me.
It wasn't something I had to worry about for long. She came to me about a week after I'd over heard her conversation with her team mates. My office was not the ideal place for the conversation, but she didn't seem inclined to go anywhere more private. She just told me flat out, her head high, defiant, daring me to contradict her. I'd have smiled at her expression if I hadn't been trying so hard to keep a straight face.
Of course it was never going to be sunshine and roses, but as time wore on and she had a beautiful baby boy, we spent more and more time together, which was only natural but I couldn't help thinking that we didn't have to spend so much time together, so maybe she wanted to spend time with me... maybe it was wishful thinking, but I liked it.
Not that life was ever that easy and when Alex was 8 months old, she had her first date since she'd found out she was pregnant.
I glared at her date, as I fed Alex and waited for her to be ready. I glared even more when she invited him in at the end of the night, but he left after one cup of coffee and a few dozen more death glares. I had to give him credit, the kid had guts, most people were scared after the first glare.
Alex got older and we both spent a lot of time in each others company. Between work, and home, we probably only spent a few waking hours apart, unfortunately she was still dating other people and I'd given up pretty much any hope of anything more than we had.
Alex's fifth birthday changed all that, he fell of his new bike and hit his head. Jess knew, just knew. We were inside, and he was playing out front, Antonio and Nicole were watching him, and their daughter, we were getting the ice cream. I saw the fear on her face a beat before I heard Nicole calling us.
He had stitches and he had to stay in hospital over night, Jess was terrified, the whole time we were in the waiting room she held on to me like a life-line. It scared me more than Alex's blood on my shirt did.
After that things were different. We were closer somehow, we spent less time apart. She would cuddle up to me on the sofa while we watched TV, or hold my hand when we were shopping, to anyone around us I'm sure we looked like a normal couple despite the fact that we weren't, at least not in the typical 'couple' sense.
We'd been dancing around for over half a decade and it was actually not as funny as it once had been.
But Nicole and Antonio were amused by it at least, so at least someone was getting something from this whole situation, which was still as crazy as it had been when it all started, meaning my life had been in a semi-permanent state of nuts for almost seven years.
In the end it was Derek that solved things. It was actually pretty funny. For a man on the crazy list he's very intelligent. He *ordered* Jess to talk to me. Actually he ordered her to tell me she was in love with me, which was amusing, mainly because I was listening in on their conversation.
"Its not that easy okay, besides if he felt anything for me he'd have made a move by now." Jess insisted.
"Why? You haven't." that a boy, you tell her.
"Well I can't, he's my boss, I could lose my job, Alex could lose his father."
"He didn't kick you out of your job when you had Alex." See intelligent! Didn't I say that?
"What if he doesn't feel the same?"
I moved away then, because I didn't want to hear the rest, Jess had sounded so scared when she'd said that... how could she even think I wouldn't feel the same, I haven't had a date in 7 years!
I knew I had to say something, or do something, so the next time Antonio and Nicole took Alex out with Ellie I took my chance.
Jess was tiding up, putting things back where they were supposed to be, plumbing up pillows, gathering toys and for all I'd planned a whole big speech, it just didn't come, I couldn't make myself talk, so I did the only thing I could, the thing that started all this in the first place... I kissed her.
And much like the first time, she kissed me back.
She looked shocked when the kiss was over, but that was nothing compared to how she looked when I plucked a solitaire diamond engagement ring from my pocket.
That was one of the happiest moments of my life, when she said yes, with tear in her eyes, but a grin big enough to reach her ears.
My ex-wife didn't want to come, not that I mind, but she did at least let the children come. ZoŽ was only three years older than Alex, a very pretty 11 year old, who was thrilled when Jess asked her to be a bridesmaid along with her older sister. She asked Nicole to be her maid of honor, and I asked Antonio to be my best man.
The sun is bright, and shining through the stained glass of the little chapel. And Antonio is giving me what I assume to be a reassuring smile as the music starts to play, and I see her. She looks amazing, her dress is simple, but stunning, her hair curled and framing her face.
I don't remember a single minute of the service, until I realize that Jess is looking at me, and I've just been told to kiss the bride... my bride.
No. Jess Mastriani never fitted into my neat little world. But it seems I fit into her messy one surprisingly well.