It’s 5pm on a Wednesday night, the dark winter sky is full and cloudy as Janet and Rachel make their way out of the station.
“You alright mate? You’re looking a bit pale” Janet questioned her friend in a caring tone.
“Yeah fine, probably just need a good night’s kip” Rachel replied rubbing her eyes tiredly.
“Not fancying the pub then?” Janet queried. Rachel shook her head and stifled a yawn,
“Nah, reckon I’ll go home and veg in front of the telly.”
“Jesus you must be tired. Rachel Bailey missing out on the pub? It’s unheard of!” Janet responded in a shocked tone. Rachel chuckled and playfully batted her friend’s arm,
“I’m not that much like my mother you know!” she joked, referencing her late mother’s alcoholism “besides, I’m really not a fan of non-alcoholic beer and I won’t get away with drinking orange juice around you lot” she added, gently stroking her abdomen where she was just beginning to develop a bump. Janet smiled a smile that made her eyes sparkle with pride,
“Alright mate, you and squirt go and have a nice night in and I’ll see you in the morning.” Rachel waved at her colleague as she got in her car and watched the small group of detectives wander into the pub before she drove off.
Inside the pub Janet and Pete sat down at a table with their drinks while they waited for the others.
“Is her ladyship too good to drink with us lowly detectives now?” Pete jeered. Janet gave him a look and replied
“Don’t be ridiculous, you know Rachel doesn’t think she’s any better than any one of us. She’s just got plans with her sister tonight.” Janet added a little fib, not wanting Pete to suspect anything as Rachel’s pregnancy wasn’t common knowledge yet. The others joined the table one by one and Janet found herself answering the same question a few times - it really was unusual not to see Rachel in the pub.
On arriving back at her flat, Rachel flopped down on her sofa with a thud. Her head was pounding and she had a scratchy feeling in the back of her throat. She toed her shoes off and pulled a blanket off the back of the sofa and round her shoulders, reaching forward for the tv remote before settling back on to the sofa with an episode of Come Dine With Me for company.
The detective awoke a few hours later, the tv had turned itself on to standby mode and the only sound in the flat was its quiet electrical buzz. Rachel felt cold and clammy as she wrapped the blanket tighter round her shoulders and heaved herself off the sofa and up the stairs into bed.
When she woke again to the sound of her alarm at 6 am, her mouth felt dry and her nose was stuffy. She groaned loudly as she rolled over in bed, feeling her muscles ache. With a bit of effort she managed to get up out of bed and into the bathroom. Rummaging through her bathroom cabinet she pulled out a box of paracetamol and popped two out of the blister pack and into her hand. She hesitated before looking at the two round while tablets and then down at her stomach. Rachel let out a sigh and threw the tablets in the bin, raking her hand through her hair.
Janet pulled into the car park outside the station as Rachel hauled her aching body out of her car and headed towards the building. Janet jogged to catch up with the younger woman and cheerfully greeted her
“Morning chuck, how was your night?”
Rachel’s nose was stuffy and her throat felt worse than last night, her voice was hoarse as she replied
“Morning Jan, yeah not bad, how was the pub?” Janet took in Rachel’s appearance for the first time. Her chestnut hair framed her face in a stark comparison to her pale white complexion. Janet placed a hand on the other woman’s arm, stopping her briefly,
“Are you alright Rach? You don’t look too clever.” Rachel laughed and responded,
“Gee you’re full of compliments today!”
“Sorry, you just don’t look yourself, is everything ok with the baby?” Janet asked gently, lowering the volume of her voice as she looked around making sure nobody was in hearing distance. Rachel was getting frustrated now as she turned to carry on walking into the building,
“Janet I’m fine, I’ve just got a bit of a cold. Just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I’m going to self combust.”
“Ok, just make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard” the older detective advised, falling in step with the newly appointed DCI.
“Yes mother!” Rachel responded sarcastically.
Later in the day Rachel stepped out of her office and called across the room
“Pete, can you go and pick up Steve Carrington? Take someone scary with you and arrest him if he doesn’t come of his own accord.”
“Are you tryna say I’m not scary?” Pete queried, sounding a bit put out. Rachel smiled,
“of course your scary Pete” she replied before adding under her breath “in the same way sneezy the dwarf is.” She turned around to head back into her office and swayed slightly as her head went fuzzy. She grabbed the door frame in front of her, breathing deeply to steady herself.
“Y’alright boss?” Pete asked as he was walking past to head out of the door. Rachel inhaled slowly before lifting her head to look at the detective. She ignored the fact she was seeing two of him and replied
“Yeah, just need some lunch. Go and bring that moron in and I’ll feel much better.” Rachel hurried back into her office, slamming the door behind her. She managed to make it to her desk chair and planted her hands on the desk in front of her, breathing deeply as she tried to focus her vision.
Janet sat at her desk, gazing at the office door where her best friend was. She was doing her best to resist the urge to run in and mother her, trying to think of how to approach this without making the younger woman feel suffocated.
Rachel was sitting at her desk with her pounding head in her hands when she heard a familiar knock at her door. She ignored it, knowing that her friend would come on in anyway. Seconds later the blonde peered around the door and stepped in, closing it behind her as she took in the other woman’s appearance.
“Jeez Rach, you look awful!” The brunette’s slim body shook as she sat cradling her aching head, and there was a thin sheen of sweat on her pale clammy skin. She gingerly lifted her head to look up at the visitor. Janet knelt down in front of her younger friend and placed the back of her hand against her forehead.
“Oh love, you’re burning up. Have you had any paracetamol?” Rachel shook her head softly as she croaked out,
“I didn’t want to hurt the baby.” Janet placed hand on the ill woman’s shoulder and gave her a sympathetic look,
“You need to get to a doctor sweetie, I think you might have the flu. I’ll get you an appointment and take you.” Rachel suddenly lifted her head up fully
“No, I need you to interview the dickhead Pete’s bringing in.” Janet tilted her head to the side,
“Why can’t Pete do it?” Rachel gave Janet an incredulous look before she replied
“It’s Pete... I want the guy to confess Janet.” The older woman looked thoughtful, ok, give me a minute.” Janet pulled her phone out of her pocket and walked out of the office.
Half an hour later Rachel was resting underneath a blanket on the sofa in her office at Janet’s orders. The door opened again and she opened her eyes slightly to see a petite figure standing in front of her.
“Alright cock, you look like shit!”
“Jill?” The young DCI croaked, her throat still dry and scratchy. Janet appeared next to her as Rachel pulled herself into a sitting position.
“Jill’s taking you to the doctor’s and I’m going to deal with Steve the stupid” she explained with a smile. Rachel shoulders hunched over as her body tried to curl in on itself and make her as small as possible. She chewed on the skin around her thumb and her eyes glistened as she tried to keep her emotions in. “What’s the matter love?” Janet asked softly, stepping forwards towards the younger woman. At that moment there was a knock on the office door. Jill gestured for Janet to go and deal with it, knowing it was probably Pete with their suspect. She sat down softly next to Rachel.
“Fancy this eh, you sitting in my seat and me sparing my precious retirement to come and look after you” Jill joked, trying to lighten the mood. The corner’s of Rachel’s mouth twitched upwards as she did her best to smile. “Come on, talk to me kiddo” Jill continued. Rachel let out a shaky breath
“I’m scared” she admitted, finally allowing tears to fall. “I can’t lose another baby Jill.” The older woman wrapped an arm around the DCI.
“I’m not going to tell you that won’t happen because I can’t promise that. What I can tell you is that you getting yourself worked up and worrying about it won’t make the slightest bit of difference. You need to look after yourself though kid. Take it from someone who knows; this job is overwhelming and all encompassing. It can break even the best of us. You overworking yourself and ignoring the signs isn’t going to help anyone, especially not that little one in there” she finished, placing a gentle hand on the other woman’s abdomen. Rachel allowed her body to relax and let her head fall on the older woman’s shoulder. After a few minutes of silence Rachel spoke softly
“I never thanked you.” Jill turned her head to look at the other woman with a look of confusion. “Without you I wouldn’t be here. I’d have had myself chucked off the force years ago. You believed in me, you gave me a chance. Thank you Jill.” The older woman gave her shoulders a squeeze as she replied
“Don’t mention it Sherlock. Now, come on, let’s get you and Squirt to the doc.”
Later that evening Rachel was tucked up in bed. She reached an arm out from under the safety of her duvet, grabbing her phone to stop the infernal racket it was making. Through squinted eyes she could make out Janet’s name and picture on the screen and answered the call.
“Hello?” She croaked.
“Hiya Love, how did it go with the doctor?” Janet asked softly with a caring tone to her voice. Rachel coughed weakly,
“He gave me antiviral tablets and told me to rest. How did interviewing Steve the Twat go?” Janet tutted
“You’re supposed to be resting, not talking about work! Anyway, Mum and the Girls have agreed to look after each other for a few days and I’ve got some annual leave to use, so I’m coming to stay with you while you get better. Ah! No buts, you need looking after.” Janet added as Rachel tried to interrupt. “I’ll be there in about half an hour, I’m just going to nip to Tesco first. What do you want for your dinner?” Rachel couldn’t help but tear up at her friend’s kindness. Janet was concerned when the other woman didn’t reply and she heard a sniffle on the other end of the phone. “Rach?” she prompted softly.
“Yeah I’m here” she croaked “sorry, I’ve just never had someone want to look after me before. Don’t get me wrong, our Alison did her best but she was only a kid herself.” Janet’s heart hurt as it always did when Rachel spoke of her childhood. How anyone could abandon this girl was beyond her.
“Jeez Bailey, that was the soppiest thing I’ve ever heard you say! Are you sure you’re not getting a bit hormonal?” she joked lightly. Rachel laughed
“Detective Sergeant Scott are you mocking your superior?” She joked back.
“Oh I’m ever so sorry Ma’am” Janet replied in a mock posh tone “how ever will you forgive me?” Rachel laughed until she made herself cough. Once she had recovered she asked her friend timidly
“Jan? Will you bring me some chicken soup?” Janet couldn’t help but smile at the child-like tone in her voice.
“Yeah, course if I will.” She responded “I’ll be there soon Love” she added before she hung up.
Rachel awoke again a little while later to the smell of something warm and tasty drifting into her nostrils. She opened her eyes and saw her friend standing at the end of her bed smiling.
“Hello my poorly little pickle. I bought you some emergency get-well-soon supplies.” Rachel sat up in her bed as Janet placed a tray containing a bowl of hot soup and a glass of orange juice on her lap, then out of a bag pulled a hot water bottle, a box of tissues, and the film Moana on DVD. At the last one Rachel pulled a face and looked at Janet questioningly, to which she replied “it’s Disney! Taisie said you’ll love it.”