This is extremely AU, but I haven't yet decided to what exact bounds. Melinda is not married, but does Jim exist? I'm not sure, I haven't decided yet.

Please keep in mind that I am only on season 2, episode 11. Though it won't really matter, since this is AU but I wanted to put it out there that I don't yet know the extent of Melinda and Rick's relationship.

Oh, and I might change the title.


When Professor Rick Payne got back from lunch, he unlocked his door as usual, opened it and...there she was, sitting on his desk.

He stopped stock still, not believing what he saw.

"I locked my office," he blurted, dropping his briefcase.

Her legs were swinging as she swiveled to look at him and he couldn't help but take an extra look at them. Slim and shapely, and they went up, up to where they were unfortunately covered by an ankle length skirt.

"It wasn't locked," she stated immediately, scooting off of his desk. "But I'm sorry for barging in."

"Who are you?"

"I have some questions for you," she said. "My name is Melinda Gordon."

"Good for you," he mocked. "What the hell are you doing in my office, and yes, I did lock it."

"It wasn't locked," she repeated. "But I apologized."

"I don't care if you apologized, you broke in," he insisted, striding forward to meet her.

She cocked her head. "That didn't happen," she said. "I asked a student and he said you were probably out to lunch. So I went inside to wait, because the door was both unlocked and wide open."

"I don't believe this," he said.

"Listen, I think I came at a bad time," Melinda said. "Again, Professor Payne, I apologize. I'll come back some other time."

He swung around to watch her go, admiring the way her full hips swayed as she walked. "That is one good looking woman," he muttered, ruffling his hair in frustration before going to his desk and going over the contents. "Papers, check. Stapler, check. Phone, check. Well, she didn't steal anything."

Again he looked up at the door from which Melinda had entered and departed. "There's no way I didn't lock that door," he hissed to himself, going to check the lock. He grabbed his keys and stepped outside of his office to lock the door, then he tested the knob. "And it's holding."

Shaking his head he unlocked the door and stormed back inside his office, tripping over the briefcase he'd dropped when he first saw Melinda.

And that was when he saw it. A business card, proclaiming "Melinda Gordon, Same As It Never Was Antiques."

She did say that she was going to return. And yet...he wasn't the type of man to take chances. He needed answers, he needed them soon and he wasn't going to wait around for her to return. If she even did. Maybe she had been in the middle of a sting operation and he'd simply interrupted her; maybe she was planning on never coming back. He'd let her off too easily, he knew it.

"She must not be a pro," he muttered, picking up his briefcase and pulling out the student papers inside it. "Only an idiot would leave their business card at the scene."

He settled into his chair in his usual position: leaned back, feet up. Red pen in hand, he started to read the essay on top.

But his gaze returned to the door and he growled. "Keep your mind on your work, Payne. She'll keep until tonight."


A figure stood in the glass doorway of the antique shop and a hand swung the sign from Open to Closed just as he approached. Diving forward he banged on the door and it swung open, revealing a surprised Melinda Gordon.

Thank god.

"Oh, Professor Payne!" She exclaimed, stepping back to let him in. "You found my card, good."

"What did you want?" He asked, a bit thrown from her statement. "Why did you come to my office, issue of breaking and entering set aside for just this moment?"

"I told you, I had some questions," she stated simply, moving past him to lock the door to the shop. "Sorry, I just want to make sure that no customers interrupt us. Sometimes people ignore the sign on the door if there's someone still in the shop."

"Yeah," he said sarcastically. "And sometimes people enter other people's offices without being told they could."

"The door was open," she said calmly, passing him again to lead him to a couple of antique chairs. "And I needed help."

"I need a lot of help, too, more than you can imagine, but I don't come to your office and break in, do I?" He cut himself off, again running a hand through his hair. "You know what, I'll try to set that aside for now."

"Thanks," she said dryly. "Want to sit down?"

"Sure," he said and picked the chair closer to him, sitting down more forcefully than usual and Melinda winced. "What?"

"They are antiques, that's all," she said, but sat down in the other chair. "Look, you're supposed to be the expert on the history and beliefs of the occult and the supernatural—"

"As it pertains to contemporary psychology," he said. "If you want something stupid like your dead aunt's will, I'm not going to be much help. And nor would I want to be."

She leaned back in her chair, regarding him with an amusement that made him uncomfortable. "Is it necessary to be this rude?"

He scoffed. "Listen, you're the one who—" Remembering his promise, he changed his words mid-sentence. "Necessary, no. Amusing, always."

She shrugged. "All I know is, you're the go-to guy, and I needed somebody to go to. And your office was open, though I see now that it might be closed."Considering him closely, she raised an eyebrow.

He felt her gaze like a touch as she let it slide over him, from his face to his feet, and the briefcase that rested near them.

"They say you're a genius," she stated, her voice making the words possess an almost seductive tone. He blinked, wondering if she was doing it on purpose.

"Makes me crazy the way they throw the word "genius" around, all right?" He hurried to speak, to break the spell she was putting over him. "Although, coming from you, it does give me a certain tingle."

"Well, god forbid you don't get your tingles," she drawled. "Okay, Professor. My question is simple; and since you came here I'm assuming you are prepared to answer my question."

"Not really," he said. "I came to get answers of my own."

"I'll go first," she said, leaning forward and he wondered at the wisdom of such a motion when she was wearing such a low cut shirt. But hell, he was enjoying the view. "I need you to tell me what a symbol means."

"Well, where's the symbol then?" He asked, throwing up his hands and Melinda stood up and walked to the counter.

"Here it is," she said, returning with a piece of paper. "Keep in mind that I drew it and it may not be as accurate as it should."

He took the paper. "Um...you're right, you have no artistic talent."

"Do you know what it means?" Melinda asked, and it was the first time his rudeness seemed to have really affected her; before now she'd taken all his crap in stride and now there was finally a touch of testiness in her voice.

"Oh, sorry, uh, basically it's a warning. It's a dark motif favored by the Incans, 'Back off or die' being the fundamental message. Who are you really?" He asked, dropping the paper. "Who the hell are you to be on the wrong end of an Incan death threat?"

"Look, I'm really am just kind of a student. There are some things that I know and some things that I'm trying to find out." Melinda, sitting again, leaned to pick up the paper.

"This is not the kind of symbol you come across in everyday life," Rick scolded. "How did you come across it? And don't tell me it appeared to you in a vision."

"I have another sketch," she said, ignoring what he said and standing up again. "That is, if you'd be willing to look at it."

Rick sighed, standing up with her. "Let me take it with me, huh?"

"Whatever you want," she said. "Listen, I really do appreciate your help with this, even it's more harassment than help."

"I was bothering you," he crowed. "Listen, lady, don't break into my office and expect no repercussions next time."

"Well, if it gets me the answers I need, I'll take all the repercussions I can get," Melinda said, handing him the piece of paper and emerging from the behind the counter again, only to lead him to the door. "You have my card. Next time you can give me a call instead."

"What's the matter, you don't like my charming face anymore?" He asked, letting her shove him out and trying not to relish the feel of her hands on his shoulders.

"Go," she said simply and shut the door behind him. The next moment the locked clicked and Rick Payne strolled down the street only to realize that he hadn't gotten any answers out of her.

Shit. But there was always next time.

Next time he wouldn't let her be so evasive.

Next time.