Disclaimer: I do not own Blindspot. I only WISH I owned Blindspot. But then again, if I did it would be all Jeller and it would probably be cancelled, because I'm nowhere near as talented as the writers on the show. I think I'll stick to fanfic for now.
A/N: OK, I know that Thanksgiving is technically already past, but I only got the idea to add a "1 year later" chapter on Thanksgiving… and I had very little time to write yesterday, so please forgive my lateness. Also, I know that Blindspot doesn't work in real time, so time doesn't pass at the same speed for them as it does for us – which makes it pretty hard to know what a year from where I decided that Thanksgiving was last year (between 109 and 110). So I'm just going to say that in this chapter, at Thanksgiving, it's now the part of season 2 that MG's been hinting at for the second half – when Jane and Kurt are back in a good place. As per usual, I'm ignoring the "Nas" and "Allie's baby" storylines... because it's my story, and in my universe those things would never happen – unless I found a use for them, which so far I have not. Anyway, hope you enjoy this.
One Year Later…
Her phone buzzed on the nightstand, and she rushed across the room to see that the text was from Kurt.
I'm out front. Are you ready or what? it said.
"Dammit, Kurt, I'm not ready yet!" she growled at her phone. A second later, she heard his impatient knocking on the door. Grabbing her phone, she typed hurriedly, before he decided to use his key.
You're early! I'm still getting dressed!
Well then I'll be right up, he replied quickly. She rolled her eyes at him, even though he wasn't there to see it.
Classy, Weller. Stay downstairs or I'll kick your ass.
And because I know that you could do it, and wouldn't hesitate, I'm staying outside. But hurry up!
She chuckled at his response, and then set her phone back down, walking back to her closet to pull out the sweater that she wanted to wear. The team was going out for drinks and dessert, but before they met up with Reade, Zapata and Patterson, she and Kurt were having dinner at his place. They tended to hang out at her place much of the time, but as he had informed her, "Sorry, Jane, but cooking is involved… and that's just not your thing."
Since it wasn't as though she could exactly argue with him about her lack of cooking skills, and since Kurt had insisted that he had it all under control and that he would be in charge of dinner, she had agreed. After all, he was insisting on spending Thanksgiving with her, which was a lot better than any other alternative she could have come up with… who was she to protest? She knew a good thing when she saw one.
One thing she didn't understand was the timing, however. It was hard to understand how everyone called it dinner, because the meal seemed to happen in the middle of the afternoon. However, she had been informed by Kurt, Patterson, Reade and Zapata that their families had all always eaten at that hour on Thanksgiving. Of course, Janehad no frame of reference to go by – this was only her second Thanksgiving – so she deferred to her friends.
Last year, she'd spent the day with Kurt, Sarah and Sawyer at their apartment. This year, Sarah and Sawyer had stayed in Portland for Thanksgiving, where they were now living, so that Sawyer could spend the day with his dad. Sarah had apologized profusely and promised that to make up for it, they would definitely be in New York for Christmas. Kurt hadn't seemed upset about it, possibly just a little disappointed, but as always, he did the whole stoic thing well.
Kurt sat in the car, waiting for Jane, chuckling to himself about their text exchange and glad that he'd decided to stick around for Thanksgiving. He'd toyed with the idea of flying to Portland, but in their line of work, making travel plans was a little risky since you never knew if they would end up being pre-empted by a work emergency. Now that he was Assistant Director, that possibility seemed even greater. Besides, it was Portland. He had nothing against Portland, but it wasn't New York…
And then there was Jane. If he'd gone to Portland, he'd have had to think of a reason why she should come too… No, that wasn't right. He wouldn't have to have done that, but he would've done it because he wanted to spend Thanksgiving with her – and not just because she didn't have any family to spend it with. No, despite everything that had changed between them since last Thanksgiving, they had actually made it back to a place where he hated the thought of her spending the holiday alone. Not only that, he hated the thought of spending the holiday without her. So, it would have been awkward to figure out how to convince her to come to Portland, and then to figure out how to explain it to Sarah, since it wasn't as though he knew exactly what was going on between them. Sarah would have had a field day with that, he thought with a smile.
Maybe you and Jane should talk about what is happening between the two of you, then. That would solve that particular problem, wouldn't it? the logical side of his brain offered.
But it isn't that simple, his brain insisted. Or is it…?
In any case, he was glad that he'd opted to stay in New York, because Jane had arranged a whole outing with the team, none of whom were going out of town for Thanksgiving this year. He didn't consider himself a social guy, but this was different. They were a family, and after the past year – or after the chunk of time that Jane had been with them, really, but especially after this past year – they were more like a family than ever. For the most part, they lacked most of the irritations of family. They were certainly less dysfunctional than his family… not that that said much, of course.
He sighed as his thoughts strayed once again to his father. The things he hadn't known about the man just a year ago… he closed his eyes and exhaled, telling himself to let it go. How many times had he told himself just that since that night when his father died? And why did he have an easier time letting go of the parts of that night that had to do with Jane than with his father?
Because deep down, even when she made the wrong decisions, Jane was always a good person, the voice in his head replied helpfully. You father, on the other hand…
Closing his eyes and leaning his head against the headrest, he took a deep breath and willed himself once again to let it go. None of it could be undone or changed or done any better. The only thing there was to do was to move on.
Jane had pulled on the light blue sweater that she'd been saving to wear for the first time that day. She wasn't into shopping whatsoever, but every once in a while Patterson and Zapata dragged her out to do just that, insisting that jeans and tank tops wouldn't do in every situation, and eventually she would need something nicer. Today, as she looked at herself in the mirror, she was glad that they had forced her to buy a few other things. This particular sweater reminded her of the color of Kurt's eyes, though she wouldn't have admitted out loud that that was what had attracted her to it in the first place. It was also, she discovered, the softest material she had ever felt. Between the sweater, the white shirt that peeked out under it at the collar and a pair of black pants and some black high heels that would make her the same height as Kurt for a change, she thought she looked pretty good.
Though it was simple, this was possibly her most glamorous look ever – she had even put on the silver necklace and earrings that the girls had helped her pick out. They were simple, just one small, sparkly ball on each earring, dangling slightly from her earlobe, and a slightly larger one as a pendant around her neck. She stared at the necklace for a few seconds, thinking of the only other necklace she remembered owning, and for just a second, allowing herself to wonder what had happened to that flat disc with the green stone in the middle. She wasn't Taylor, so she knew that she had no claim to it, but Kurt had given it to her, which made her miss it – even though she knew that he'd given it to her thinking that she was Taylor.
After those few seconds of thinking about the fate of the other necklace, however, she put an end to the pity party. Kurt himself was outside waiting for her. He had made her dinner, for goodness sake. There was no reason to feel sorry for herself or wonder about something as trivial as a necklace. After one more glance in the mirror, she smiled at her reflection and declared herself ready to go.
Slipping into her jacket and out into the chilly afternoon, she imagined that this family-centered holiday must have been at least a little bit uncomfortable for Kurt this year. Not only were Sarah and Sawyer not there, but this was the first Thanksgiving since his dad had died – not that they had spent the previous one with him, of course – or, as far as she could piece together from what little Kurt had said about his father in the time that she'd known him, that he had spent any holiday with him in many, many years… And while the bombshell about Taylor Shaw that the man had dropped on Kurt just before he died had assured that Kurt didn't miss him, she imagined that it made everything that much more emotional. Thanksgiving was about family, after all, and this year Kurt found himself without what little family he had left.
It was then that she realized, as she approached the car, that she was in the same boat. Shepherd was – well, no one knew what had happened to her after they had escaped the Sandstorm compound. Roman had shot her, but hadn't been able to kill her. She may have bled out, but more likely she had gone underground somewhere. Roman, on the other hand… well, the FBI was holding him, and despite his memory wipe, they would be holding him for quite some time – if not forever. That made Jane nervous, especially with the thought that Shepherd was still out there... She knew exactly the lengths to which Sandstorm would go to get her brother back, even if it was only to kill him – which, after he'd shot Shepherd, seemed like the most likely outcome. After all, Shepherd had never been big on forgiveness. So for all intents and purposes, she was just as family-less as he was.
And yet, she didn't feel like she was family-less. Last year at this time, she had felt completely alone. Desperate. She had leaned on Kurt heavily. No, leaned wasn't a strong enough word for it. She had clung to him for dear life, mainly figuratively, but occasionally also literally. This year, she felt like a different person, more of a whole person and not just a woman whose life had been erased. This year, she was prepared for him to lean on her, if necessary.
She reached that car and saw that his eyes were closed, the look on his face slightly pained, and she knew that her assumption about his state of mind today must have been at least partially correct. When she tapped lightly on his window, however, his eyes sprang open and he immediately smiled at her, his eyes lighting up. He rolled down his window a few inches and said, "I was just taking a little nap, seeing as how you took so long to be ready!" Her face twisted into an expression of mock annoyance and she leaned down by the window to say, "Look Weller, it's still 5 minutes beforeyou said you were picking me up, and I'm ready. I'm not late."
He grinned at her, enjoying the chance to tease her more than he probably should have, especially because she enjoyed bantering back and forth with him as much as he did. "Just get in the car, Jane," he told her with a smile. After one more look of mock annoyance, she smiled back at him and walked around to the passenger side of the car. It was silly that he was picking her up in the first place, when she could very well have driven over to his place herself, but for some reason, he had it in his head that he wanted to pick her up, and she'd quickly realized that it would make him happy, so why not just go with it? It didn't matter to her who did the driving… though she did like to drive.
As she settled herself in the seat beside him, he couldn't help but think how beautiful she looked. Of course, she was always beautiful, but he'd never seen her so dressed up before – besides the times when she'd been dressed up for work. For whatever reason, this had a different effect.
A few seconds later she looked up at him, catching him watching her. She smiled back at him, slightly self-consciously, and without a second thought he said, "You look beautiful." Blushing a little bit, her smile increased until he forgot any trace of sadness that he'd felt a few minutes ago. At that moment, like so many others before it, there was only Jane.
"Thank you," she replied, feeling herself blushing even more than usual. The butterflies that she got in her stomach every time he looked at her like that were back. "You look pretty cute yourself," she added, grinning at him. He just chuckled and shook his head, turning back to the task of driving them back to his place.
Kurt had considered moving to a smaller place since Sarah had moved out. Though he'd had that apartment before she and Sawyer had moved in with him and been fine with it, now that they had left it felt too big, too empty. However, every time he thought about moving to a new place, the tiny, nagging thoughts in the back of his mind, where he wondered about Jane, and what could potentially happen between them down the road – no matter how far down the road – and how he'd rather live somewhere with her, crept in, and he abandoned the topic of moving for the time being. Consequently, he still lived in the same apartment he had for years, even though it now felt much too big. The apartment hadn't changed… only he had.
Back at Kurt's place, Jane looked around in amazement at all the food that Kurt had prepared. "This is just for the two of us?" she asked in awe. Turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, salad, stuffing, rolls, and a few things that she couldn't immediately identify. He chuckled, watching her look from one dish to another as he moved around, warming the few things that had managed to cool a little too much while he'd gone out to pick her up.
"Yes, it's just us," he replied with a smile. "And you're going to be helping me eat the leftovers, too." He paused to watch her reaction, and then then added, "Right?"
Jane grinned at him and nodded. "You know I'm always happy to help. Speaking of which, why didn't you let me help with all this? You know you owe me some more cooking lessons."
It was true, he had promised to help her learn to cook, but it had been ages since they'd had time for a lesson. "Yep, we're definitely overdue for a cooking lesson. And then next Thanksgiving, I promise that you can help me," he told her seriously, his eyes twinkling.
"Next year, huh?" she asked in surprise. "Are you saying you want to spend next Thanksgiving with me, too?"
Next year, and the next one, and all the ones after that, he thought, but decided not to say that. That might be getting ahead of himself just a little, even if it was the truth.
"What? You already have plans for next Thanksgiving?" he asked, pretending to be shocked. "Wow, and I thought this would be far enough in advance to be sure you weren't busy."
Shaking her head at him in amusement, she replied, "I'll have to check my calendar and get back to you. I'll have my people call your people." At that point, she couldn't keep a straight face anymore, and she laughed before telling him, "Of course I'm not busy next Thanksgiving, silly."
"So then we're on for next year?" he asked with a smile.
"Of course," she told him with a smile, and she couldn't help but notice that he looked exceptionally pleased. "Now… can we eat already? Because someone told me not to eat lunch so I'm be hungry, and I'm really hungry!"
"Yep, it's time to eat," he said, consulting his watch. "We need to be ready to go by 4:00, anyway."
As they sat and ate, opting to sit beside each other at the round table in Kurt's dining room rather than across from each other, as they often did lately, Jane couldn't help but feel that despite the fact that it was just the two of them, it was possibly the perfect Thanksgiving meal. Or maybe that was why it was perfect? Yes, there were a lot of people that she would have loved to have there with them – Sarah and Sawyer, of course, and, if life had allowed such a thing to be possible, even Shepherd and Roman, under better, different circumstances. That part was an impossibility for many reasons, of course, and one or both of them would probably sooner try to kill her than sit down for Thanksgiving dinner with her, but the thought crossed her mind nonetheless. She knew that it wasn't something that she got to choose, just a daydream.
She was surprised and delighted to notice, however, that while Roman was not a part of it, the scene unfolding in front of her was not completely unlike those dreams that she'd been having a few months ago, the ones that used to cause her so much pain when she woke up and found that they were not her reality. No, she and Kurt weren't kissing in their current reality. She couldn't rule out that they were headed in that direction, but so far, it hadn't happened again… but otherwise, the atmosphere, the fact that the two of them were there, happily spending time together and enjoying a great meal… that part of it did remind her of those dreams. Considering that she'd never thought any part of them would come true, this was pretty damn good.
As they ate, talking about everything and nothing, he couldn't help but feel like things between the two of them were almost as good as they had been back at the beginning, before they had started hiding things from each other. No, this was even better. Jane was noticeably different, after all. She was the same in a way, but she was so much happier. The haunted look was, at that moment at least, gone from her eyes and she simply looked… content. As the conversation progressed, their hands brushed against each other, against a shoulder, or as she laughed so hard at something he'd said that he gasped slightly for air, letting her head hall against his shoulder… it was all just perfect. As much as there might be missing from his life, he had something – someone – in it that was so much better than what he could have hoped to have before he'd met her, and he was in awe.
Before they knew it, it was time to leave to meet up with the team. Though he didn't want to leave the cozy little bubble the two of them existed in at that moment, he reminded himself that he was also looking forward to spending social time with the rest of the team, his less-dysfunctional family. Of course, at that particular moment it was hard to convince himself that he wanted to go anywhere. He would have been perfectly happy to just hang out with Jane for the rest of the evening. But Jane had been the one to arrange this little get together, and she was very excited about it, as much as he knew that if they hadn't had plans with the others, she would also have been equally happy to just hang out with him.
They cleaned up as much as they could, starting the dishwasher and leaving the rest of the dishes for later, or, since "Sarah the cleaning fanatic" wasn't around to insist on them being cleaned promptly, possibly tomorrow. Now they headed out to Balthazar to meet the others for drinks.
While, of course, the others had expressed definite interest in a chance to get together with the group to break up the large chunk of family time that would be spent over the long weekend, the main goal of this outing was to cheer up Patterson. She'd been having a very rough time of it the past few months, ever since Borden had been exposed as the mole at the FBI. It didn't seem fair – first David had been murdered because he'd tried to help her with a case, and then her next boyfriend was a traitor. To say that she had bad luck with dating was quite an understatement, and despite how hard she was fighting, she was not doing well. Her parents had flown in from the mid-west the day before, and within hours Patterson had already texted Jane to say that her mother was driving her crazy. She needed a few hours away, she said, and could they meet for drinks on Thursday?
It had been Jane's idea to invite everyone, and the gathering was quickly planned for Thursday around 4:30 pm. Jane had figured that a gathering of the whole group might help Patterson even more than just drinks with one friend, and might take her mind off of both her life and her mother. The others had been equally excited for a chance to get together outside of work on the holiday as well, and of course, they would do anything they could to help Patterson. Therefore, the plan had been formulated quickly. Of course, they would have dinner with their families, and probably dessert as well. But later in the afternoon, they would meet for drinks – and possibly a little bit more dessert.
Jane and Kurt were the first ones to arrive. Jane had made the reservation, and had been both impressed and relieved that she'd been able to get one only one day in advance. They settled down at the table, taking seats beside each other – maybe a little closer than was wise if they wanted to keep up the whole "nothing more than friends" thing, which none of the rest of the team believed anyway. They took the menus from the overly friendly waitress, setting them on the table without even glancing at them until the others arrived.
They were deep in conversation when Patterson showed up a few minutes later, looking stressed, but also quite glamorous. She'd obviously channeled some of her frustration with her mother into getting ready for their outing, because her hair was curled and she was wearing a deep purple dress with a short black sweater that sparkled brightly. Her makeup was minimal, but it was there, as was the family-and-life-related stress that had been apparent in her face at work the last time they'd seen her, before her family had even arrived.
But the blonde smiled at them in relief, slipping into the circular booth beside Jane and hugging her slightly, greeting both of them with a knowing grin. Jane was glad to see that Patterson appeared to relax as soon as she sat down. It also seemed to help that there was a drink menu sitting in front of her, which she reached for immediately after she'd hugged Jane and greeted Kurt.
Jane just smiled. Even as stressed out as she was, Patterson was a whirlwind of energy. Reade arrived next, rubbing his hands together from the cold outside as he approached the table, looking slightly less elegant than Patterson, but appropriately dressed up for the occasion as well.
"Hey guys," he said, leaning down to give Patterson a quick one armed hug, nodding at the other two, and then sliding into the bench seat beside Kurt. "How's everyone?" Jane and Kurt just nodded, the happy smiles on their faces saying all they needed to say. Patterson, on the other hand, was trying hard, but her smile was clearly forced.
"Ask me again after I've had a drink," she told him, smiling just a little at her own joke.
Reade just nodded. "No kidding," he said. "Thanksgiving can be a bit intense." And just as if on cue, Zapata appeared beside the table, looking every bit as glamorous as Patterson, though not quite as elegantly dressed. She was all in black, her hair hanging down behind her shoulders. "Speaking of intense," Reade said as she stood beside the table, smiling at them. Zapata looked down at Reade and smacked him playfully on the arm.
"I heard that, you know," she said, pretending to be offended. "Hi, guys," she added, looking around at the group. She leaned down to hug Patterson, smiled at Jane and Kurt, who were sandwiched in between the other two, and then turned to look at Reade. "Looks like you're taking up two spaces there, buddy," she observed. "You trying to save that seat for someone?"
"For you, of course, Zapata," he replied innocently, scooting over further along the circle to make room for her. She rolled her eyes at him, and then looked around at the faces around the table.
"I'm so glad to see you guys, you have no idea," Zapata told them dramatically as she slid into the seat beside Reade, completing the circle.
"Oh, I do," Patterson said equally emphatically. "I'm glad to see anyone who isn't my mother right about now." She stopped for a second, taking a deep breath and attempting to steady herself. "She means well," the blonde sighed, "but she's driving me insane." Her eyes widened so far on the last word that she looked slightly crazed, which was exactly what she was going for.
The others laughed sympathetically, as Zapata and Reade tried to add appropriate comments about their own families as Jane and Kurt sat quietly, just listening. Neither of them felt like complaining about their Thanksgiving, not one bit, absent criminal family members notwithstanding. On the contrary, Jane almost felt guilty for feeling that her Thanksgiving was now just about perfect. After all, she'd had both alone time with Kurt at dinner and now, time with her friends – her less dysfunctional "family." She had nothing to complain about, as far as she was concerned.
The waitress reappeared then, and they ordered drinks, then she quickly disappeared again.
There was a pause, and Patterson attempted to bring up work. "So, I was thinking about tattoo case from earlier this week, the one with the—"
"Nope, sorry," Zapata said loudly, "We are not talking about work today. Not if we can possibly help it. Right, boss?" She turned and looked at Kurt, arching an eyebrow questioningly.
Kurt rolled his eyes and knocked his knuckles against the wooden table. "Don't jinx us, please," he told her.
"Good," Zapata replied, looking back at Patterson, "You heard him. No talking about work."
"Okay, fine, but…" Patterson began.
"Face it, Patterson," Reade interjected, "You're going to have to talk about something else."
She sighed in pretend frustration, rolling her eyes at them but smiling. "Okay then," she said with a suddenly mischievous smile on her face, "can we talk about how nice you look tonight, Jane?" Jane immediately blushed as all eyes turned towards her.
"Oh, uh, thanks, Patterson, I…" Jane laughed, trying to regain her composure. But Patterson wasn't finished.
"Doesn't she look nice, Weller?" Patterson asked, now directing all eyes to Kurt.
Oh, so this is the game, he thought, wishing he hadn't just forbidden her from talking about work.
"Yes, she looks beautiful, as I already told her," Kurt replied calmly, trying not to give in to Patterson's attempt at embarrassing them – as Jane had. "And so do you and Zapata, by the way," Kurt added, trying to deflect attention from himself and Jane. Reade nodded in agreement, but wisely stayed quiet.
"Mm-hmm," Zapata said in mock suspicion. "So who got here first, Weller? You or Jane?"
Jane bit her lip to avoid blurting out anything she didn't want to say, but Kurt still looked perfectly calm. "We got here at the same time, actually," he said, looking directly at her. "Why?"
Zapata and Patterson exchanged a knowing glance, and then looked back at Kurt. Finished with the inquiry for the time being, Zapata shrugged and replied, "Just curious." Jane happened to glance at Reade just then, watching him look at Zapata and roll his eyes.
The waitress silently deposited their drinks in front of them, and they each thanked her quietly in turn, continuing to eye Jane and Kurt with amusement.
Patterson couldn't help but recall a particular scene from one of her all-time favorite TV shows, Friends,years ago. They know that we know, that they know… or something like that, she thought with a grin. The thing was, she got the feeling that Jane and Weller didn't know any more than the rest of them did about what was going on with the two of them. Those two are so cute, she thought gleefully. She was suddenly overcome with a familiar ache in her chest, one that told her that her thoughts were wandering dangerously close to where she didn't want them to go.
Zapata watched as Patterson grinned at Jane and Weller just as the rest of them were, but then her eyes seemed to glaze over, her thoughts clearly beginning to wander. "Patterson," Zapata said suddenly, and the blonde looked up at her friend from across the table. Zapata raised an eyebrow at her, and Patterson smiled as the two exchange a knowing look. Message received.
Patterson felt a sudden rush of emotion. These people were her family just as much as the people with whom she'd eaten Thanksgiving dinner, and she was glad that Jane had invited everyone along with them. As she looked around at them, she felt lucky that they'd all been wrong about Jane when it seemed like she had gone over to Sandstorm's side – back before they'd even known what Sandstorm was.
"You guys," Jane said, not especially wanting to draw their attention, but willing to do so in order to change the subject. "Thanks so much for coming. I know it's been a…" she hesitated, looking down at the table as a million things flashed through her mind.
Their team had been through so much, and there had been a lot of animosity between the others and herself. They weren't quite back to where they'd been, but the fact that they were sitting and listening to her, smiling at her, said a lot. She exhaled loudly, and looked back up at them, her eyes darting between Reade, Patterson and Zapata as they continued to smile warmly at her, suddenly uncertain about finishing her sentence. But she'd started it, and her sentiment was heartfelt, so she pressed forward. "…it's been a rough year." The others nodded, their smiles dimming slightly, but not leaving their faces altogether. No one needed to bring up specifics for them to know what Jane was referring to.
"And I know that a lot of it was my…" She inhaled sharply, losing focus slightly, and shaking her head. Her hands were flat on the table, and she was suddenly pressing them down against it with increasing pressure. "Thank you," she said instead, her voice breaking slightly on the last word. She had chosen that over another apology. After all, they'd all made them already, and agreed to put it behind them. "Anyway, I'm glad we made it through it all," she finished.
She could feel her eyes getting misty, and she heard Reade's voice ring out about the others. As it did, she felt slight pressure on her hand, the one that was closest to Kurt. When she looked down to see that his hand sat gently over hers. She closed her eyes for a second, inhaling slowly, and then opened them again, glancing at him with a smile.
"Here's to next year," Reade was saying, raising his glass in the air. "Because it has got to be better than this year was." The others all laughed and did the same, echoing his sentiment. This year had been rough on all of them, in so many ways… but they were still there, and they had each other. Kurt's hand remained on top of Jane's as they toasted to the upcoming twelve months and the hope that they would be better than the ones that had just passed.
They stayed there for two more hours, laughing, drinking, and sharing various desserts, just generally enjoying each other's company. In the end, the group of them walked outside into the cold night, wishing each other a happy Thanksgiving and saying goodbye. Patterson hugged Jane tightly, leaning their heads together so that she could whisper, "Thank you, Jane. This was exactly what I needed." The two leaned back and Jane smiled at her.
"Call me if you need anything, okay?" Jane told her sincerely, and Patterson nodded quickly, pulling Jane back in for a hug all over again. When they let go, they both had slightly glassy eyes, and they smiled at each other knowingly. As Patterson moved on to say good night to the others, Jane exchanged an equally heartfelt goodbye with Zapata, and then also hugged Reade. He smiled at her, shaking his head, and Jane glanced down for a second.
"Thanks, Reade," Jane said softly. He just nodded, and they smiled at each other for a few extra seconds.
"It's all good, Jane," he told her. "You did good." The tears she'd felt in her eyes a minute before were threatening to fall again, and she did her best not to blink and release them.
Reade, Patterson and Zapata dispersed into cabs and within a few minutes, only Jane and Kurt remained. "So, did you have fun?" he asked her, putting his arm around her shoulders as they walked back to his car.
"I did," Jane beamed happily, leaning into him. "How about you?"
"Of course," he said, "Lucky me, I got to spend the whole day with you."
"Awwww," Jane replied dramatically, leaning against him a little harder and shaking his head. She looked up at him and shook her head. "Such a charmer."
"What?" he asked in surprise. "It's the truth."
"And I thought that I was the lucky one, getting to hang out with you," she replied.
"Oh don't get me wrong, you are lucky," he told her, at which point she punched him playfully in the arm. He chuckled at her, stopping on the sidewalk and pulling her to a stop along with him. She looked up at him and he just smiled. "This coming year, I'm going to teach you to cook, and next year you're helping me make Thanksgiving dinner," he told her.
"Putting me to work, huh?" she asked without missing a beat.
"Absolutely. If you wanna stick around, I'm going to have to," he said, shaking his head in pretend regret.
"Well then, I guess I'll have to learn," she replied, with the same mock regret.
They looked at each other for about three more seconds before they both laughed and started walking again. Whatever the coming year held, they were thankful that they had made it this far. And like Reade said, whatever was in their future, it couldn't possibly be worst that what was already behind them.