Disclaimer: I do not own Jane or Kurt or Blindspot. Writing about them is simply the outlet for my obsession. And yet again today, my remaining slight itchiness, and my finally faint poison ivy scars as well.
A/N: Well, this is the last chapter… which I've worked hard to fill with cuteness and banter – only the good stuff... well, 95% anyway… Hope you all enjoy it! ;)
Monday (Day 13, aka "The Next Morning")
It was light in her room when Jane shifted in bed, waking up gradually and opening her eyes, squinting against the light and pressing her cheek further into the softness of her pillow. Despite what she'd feared, she'd slept the whole night without any nightmares. She couldn't get over how much better she felt after getting a good night's sleep. When her eyes finally opened all the way and focused properly, for a second she wondered if she hadn't really woken up after all. Is this some weird kind of dream? she wondered. To say that she was surprised to find Weller laying beside her would be a rather significant understatement. Surprised and confused.
What's he still doing here? she thought, having trouble figuring out exactly how this had ended up happening.
She turned all the way onto her right side, facing him, pulling herself up onto her elbow and just watched him sleeping. He was laying on his back, but his head was turned toward her, his left cheek pushing into her extra pillow.
Seriously, what's he doing here? She hadn't had a nightmare, so she hadn't called him for that – not that she thought she would have even if she'd had one – she also hadn't called him for anything else in the middle of the night… had she? No! She was absolutely sure that she hadn't called him… So then…?
Never having had a chance to watch him so intently without him catching her, she was slightly mesmerized as she watched him sleep, and her distraction made it hard to think back to the night before. She was still groggy from sleep, and her mind grasped at the details of the previous night. What time had he left?
Judging from the fact that he's sleeping next to you, obviously he didn't…
She felt like she should have felt awkward about this, but found that all she could do was smile.
Thinking harder about the previous night, she was still trying to figure it all out. She remembered sitting next to Weller on the edge of the bed, remembered him putting his hand on top of hers… she felt herself blush at the thought. Somehow, he always knew how to calm her down, and yesterday he'd had to do it over and over again. Her eyes closed momentarily and she cringed slightly at the thought of her state of mind the previous day, but it passed in seconds. Opening her eyes again, she felt a rush of affection for the man in front of her.
Yes, his hand had been on top of hers, because he'd been trying to distract her from the fact that sheH had been terrified to go to sleep, even though she'd been so exhausted she'd been nearly delirious. He'd been sitting there with her, and then he'd convinced her that she had to get in bed… One step at a time, he'd said.
And then she remembered that he'd asked her if she wanted him to keep her company or if he should let her get some sleep. She also remembered the panic that had filled her head at the thought of being alone with her thoughts, so much so that she hadn't even been able to answer him. He was going to leave? She desperately wanted him not to leave… not yet… But how could she ask him not to go home and get some sleep? Especially after spending so much time with her, day in and day out. He'd basically put his whole life on hold, and she wanted more?
No, she just couldn't ask that of him… but at the same time, she also couldn't tell him that she was fine if he left. Normally, yes, no matter how she felt she'd have probably told him to go – not that he'd have believed her, of course – but yesterday had been… just so much worse than most other days. She just hadn't had it in her to even try to pretend that she was fine.
So when he'd crawled up onto the bed beside her, all she could do was watch in disbelief, unable to express her relief and gratitude and absolute surprise. Because how could he possibly know? But then again, why was it still surprising her when he seemed to know her better than she knew herself? After all, it had been happening for quite a while. She swore there were times when he could read her mind, and that had certainly been one of them.
Her memory of the previous night was flooding back now. She remembered that he'd sat on the bed right beside her and joked about it being comfortable, and how he was surprised that an FBI safe house would have a bed that comfortable. He'd acted like it was so normal – all of it – that she hadn't been able to help but start to relax. Even with his good intentions, it could still have been painfully awkward, and yet somehow he'd made it seem like the most normal thing in the world that he would just sit there with her and talk to her while she tried to sleep.
Only Weller. And only for you, the voice in her head told her. It might have been easy to shrug off such a thought before, but it was less so with Weller himself sleeping soundly on the bed beside her. She'd always known that he cared about her, but the evidence had become a lot more obvious in the past few weeks. After last night… well, as much as she knew for a fact that all of these things had actually happened, it still felt like she was dreaming… because how could a guy like this be real?
Sitting there beside her last night, he'd started telling her all kinds of stories – she couldn't remember details of most of them now, only that they spanned years and years. Childhood, high school, even his time at the FBI, including the early days of working with Patterson, Reade and Zapata. She must have fallen asleep at some point while he'd been talking, because she didn't remember him saying good night or finishing his stories. He'd just kept going, until all she heard was the hum of his voice beside her, lulling her to sleep.
As she lay there now, leaning on her elbow and smiling at the memory of the previous night, only now fully understanding what he'd done for her, she watched the morning light dance across his face as he stirred. She felt a mixture of amazement and gratitude. She couldn't think of anything that she'd done to deserve anyone who was so good to her. He could easily have gone home. Even just waiting until she had fallen asleep and then going home would have been substantial proof of his friendship and devotion to her.
But no, instead he'd slept beside her, in his clothes, all night long, no doubt because he was afraid that she'd have another nightmare and suffer through it alone… and he was right, she probably would have, if it had come to that. He knew her too well. Not only was he sleeping in his clothes, she also noticed that he was laying on top of the covers. For a minute she wondered why, but then it hit her. It was simple – because he wanted her to feel safe when she woke up. She shook her head yet again… he was just too sweet to be real.
She'd been enjoying watching him for a while, thinking that it was okay with her if he kept sleeping so she could just watch him (Wait, is that a weird thing to think? I'm not sure… but he just looks so peaceful…) when his eyes slowly blinked open. They went directly to hers, and she swore he was blushing slightly when he saw her watching him.
"Good morning," she said quietly, smiling in amusement.
"Good morning," he replied, his voice slightly raspy. He stretched his arms over his head, and then turned on his side to face her, pushing his left cheek into the pillow.
He's definitely blushing a little under that scruff, she decided. She had the strangest sensation that he was both incredibly close to her and much too far away, all at the same time.
"How'd you sleep?" he asked. He was smiling at her. That smile.
"Like a log, if a log could get a good night's sleep and feel very well rested… and far less psychotic than it was the day before," Jane told him, fairly sure that she had a stupid grin on her face. She couldn't help it.
He was truly relieved that she'd made it through the night. Hopefully that nightmare had been a one-time thing. That one night of sleep seemed to have made a world of difference to her… and finding him lying beside her probably had something to do with the look on her face, as well.
"Apparently I have you to thank for that," she added. She hoped that her eyes were imparting that she knew and appreciated exactly how much what he had done meant to her.
It was obvious to him that she was very amused to find him there, and he was a little bit embarrassed to have just made the decision on his own to sleep beside her on her bed. That wasn't something that you generally sprung on someone. A coworker… no, certainly not. But that wasn't all they were to each other, obviously. It hadn't been all they were to each other back when Jane had first gotten poison ivy, either. They'd already been friends then. No, even when they'd first met, there had always been something extra between them – even before she was Taylor.
Despite the fact that she hadn't had a nightmare, he didn't regret his decision to stay. How could he, with her looking at him the way she was now? She looked so happy to see him there beside her… how could anyone regret being somewhere where they got to see that smile? No, he was just glad to see her smiling, even if it was slightly at his expense. Knowing that he put the smile on her face made everything worth it.
He shook his head. He didn't regret his decision to stay, but that didn't mean he didn't feel like he should apologize. "Sorry Jane, I guess it was a little presumptuous of me to stay, I just…"
"You just didn't believe me when I said I'd call you if I had a nightmare, and you were worried about me," she told him.
Busted, he thought. He just smiled at her. Of course she knows.
When he didn't deny it, she smiled triumphantly for a second, before she smiled and shrugged, looking down at the bed in between them and then back up at him, her smile growing. "And you were right. I probably wouldn't have. I guess I'm as stubborn as you are."
Despite the stupid grin that felt plastered to her face, thinking about the previous night – the whole day, really – had left her feeling slightly embarrassed. She'd been a mess, and he'd been nothing but sweet to her. "I'm sorry about yesterday," she said softly. "I was a mess from start to finish."
He shook his head, and if it was possible, his smile became even more sincere. "I told you, don't apologize. That's what I'm here for."
She sighed. "To try to stop me from losing my mind?"
"For you, Jane."
His last three words literally took her breath away, and for a second she simple stared at him, unable to move or breath. This was not real. He was not real. How could he be? And then her face erupted into a smile so wide she wondered if her face would crack open. She could have almost forgotten where she was, because all she saw was him.
"You know that, right?" he added sincerely.
She glanced away quickly, feeling her smile falter for a second. It was the kind of thing that seemed too good to be true, despite the quickly mounting evidence to the contrary. Being no one and having nothing, as she had been when she'd first come to the FBI, was seared so powerfully into her memory that no matter how much she knew that what Weller was saying was the truth, it was scary to let herself believe it completely. When you had nothing, you had nothing to lose, and the feeling of having lost absolutely everything, her memories included, was still fresh. She trusted him implicitly, and yet, it was still slightly terrifying to let her believe something so simple.
The feeling passed in a few seconds, however, and she locked her eyes onto his again. He'd seen her hesitation, but he'd watched so many other things in her eyes as well, so the doubt he'd seen there didn't bother him. On the contrary, it was almost a challenge – to continue to find ways to show her that he meant it. He didn't think he'd ever met anyone who said as much without saying a single word as Jane did. Or maybe it was just that he was specially tuned to understand her.
Why did she always get the feeling that no matter how complicated her thoughts were, he saw right through them to their simplest underlying emotions? Even when she couldn't sort them out? Maybe he really could…
His smile was making her a little dizzy, but in a good way.
The air between them felt lighter than usual somehow, and she wondered how long they were going to lay there smiling at each other. She felt the urge to reach for him somehow – he was right there in front of her, within arms' length, after all… but she didn't. That seemed to be something he did without too much thought, and always just when she needed it, even when she didn't know she did. She, on the other hand, felt too self-conscious for that, most of the time, anyway. Surely, there were rules for these things, rules that she had no idea about.
He stared up at her, her face still propped up on her elbow, even relishing the teasing looks in her eyes. She was happy to see him there, which was a relief. It had never occurred to him to stop and consider what she might think when she woke up and found him there. But there was no denying, she looked happy, and that was all that mattered.
"Are you hungry?" he asked her, holding her gaze steadily. Her first reaction was to stifle a chuckle. It had become something of an assumption between them that Weller was pretty much always hungry.
"A little," she replied, after considering the question for a second. But in reality, she was enjoying being where she was just then, and was in no rush for either of them to move. Suddenly concerned that the idea of breakfast would ruin this perfect moment, she added, "But… no rush on my account." She blushed slightly, wondering if he was doing that thing he always did where he read her mind, because really she was hoping that they could stay exactly where they were a little longer. Actually, she wouldn't object to staying there more than a littlelonger… she couldn't think of anywhere she'd rather be. She tried to cover her rapidly warming face by teasing him, though all of a sudden her words weren't coming out quite right. "And of course, you are… Hungry, that is," she added, now completely flustered.
He just shrugged, his smile spreading across his face even further. Flustered Jane was possibly the cutest thing he'd ever seen. "I could eat," he agreed with a smile, playing along. Still, he didn't move. It was pretty clear to him that she didn't want to move yet, and he couldn't claim to be in a hurry either. She chuckled at his casual admission of hunger, and laid her head back down on her pillow, tucking the arm that she'd been leaning on back under it so that they were on the same eye level.
"But not just yet," he added, in a voice that was just above a whisper, keeping his eyes locked on hers. They just continued to smile at each other, and she was beginning to wonder, worrying just a little, if he really had read her mind.
Then, almost as if it happened in slow motion, he reached up and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, letting his fingers pause gently against the skin on the back of her ear for a few seconds longer than necessary. It may have been his imagination, but he swore that she held her breath as he then brushed his fingers along the back of her ear all the way down to her earlobe before slowly withdrawing them.
While her memory didn't stretch back very far, she couldn't imagine that anything in that previous life that she couldn't remember could have come close to the happiness she felt at that moment.
Sunday (Day 19)
Now, nearly a week after that day, she opened her eyes on what was already shaping up as a bright, sunny, Sunday morning… Day 19 on the poison ivy count. She looked at the empty space beside her and remembered that smile he'd given her as they'd lay there staring at each other, the same one he gave her so often, except that the intensity had been turned way up. It was the smile that told her without any doubt that she was the most important person in the world. Just thinking about it, about him, she couldn't help but smile again. It had been a little strange to wake up with him next to her, and yet… it had also been the most normal thing in the world. Maybe one of these days it would happen again… who knew?
Don't get ahead of yourself, her inner voice cautioned.
She stretched and yawned, turning over to look at the clock beside her bed. 7:14. This week she'd been adjusting to waking up earlier again, since she'd finished the steroids that had prevented her from going out in the sun and thus trapping her in the house. At the same time, after her doctor's appointment on Monday, she had agreed to take the rest of the week, the week that was now blissfully over, off of work, giving the scabs left over on her arms and legs adequate time to heal. She knew that if she were in the office and they ended up out in the field, which happened often, she couldn't exactly tell herself, "Okay, I'll go into the field but I'll take it easy." If she was in the field and something happened, she'd take care of it however it needed to be taken care of, without regard for her slightly delicate healing skin. There was no doubt about that.
Even back on that Monday, now six days ago, seeing the poison really ivy going away and knowing that in only a few days she could get back to the business of living this strange life she'd been thrown into, she had been more able to accept a few more days of rest. Besides, it meant a few more days of hanging out with Weller outside of work. As much as she was chomping at the bit to get back to work, she worried a little bit about losing this time with him, since things between them were different at work – by necessity, of course – but she was determined not to think too much about it until she was actually there. It would be fine.
Turning onto her back under the covers and pulling back the sleeves of her shirt, she held out her forearms in front of her, smiling at what she saw. The remnants of the reaction, which had once been so severe it had made her cringe to look at the angry patches of blisters that erupted from under the ink of her tattoos, now consisted mostly of a smattering of small pink circles surrounded by larger, less discolored circles of skin that was simply very dry. It still itched, but she could live with that, knowing that it was also temporary. There was nothing left to bleed if she hit it too hard – which was most certainly a danger in the line of work in which she now found herself. No, she was scheduled to go back to work tomorrow and she would be ready. It had been a long 19 days.
Despite her relief that this recovery period was ending, she couldn't help but smile when she looked back on those days since Weller had told her she had poison ivy. Despite her discomfort, frustration and general unhappiness, she – no, they, meaning she and Weller – had done a ton of fun things. He'd been a lifesaver. Without him, she simply couldn't imagine how she would have coped for so long, "sick" in terms of not being able to go to work, but well enough to need help keeping herself busy for the seemingly never ending string of days at home. Even after getting a lot of practice, she did not do "sitting around" or "relaxing" very well.
Pulling back the covers and swinging her feet to the floor, she thought ahead to this last day of forced time off, and she couldn't help but be excited. She didn't know where they were going, all she knew was that she'd been told that she'd love it. Considering that Weller had come up with so many fun ideas in the past few weeks, even despite some frustrating limitations, such as "avoid sun exposure," she had absolutely no doubt that today would be even better than the rest. After all, her poison ivy was practically gone. She'd honestly felt like that would never happen.
She went to shower, not even minding the slight irritation of the water against the numerous spots on her skin where the poison ivy's mark had not yet disappeared. One step at a time, she told herself. Dried off and dressed in one of her basic outfits, jeans with a white tank top and a grey zip up sweatshirt over it, she walked downstairs to find Weller sitting on her couch. He was currently admiring the puzzle that they'd worked on together. They hadn't had the heart to disassemble it yet, after working so long on it. He looked up and smiled when she came down the stairs.
"I knocked, I swear," he said as a greeting, even though he knew very well that she didn't mind. "I think you were in the shower."
"Good morning to you, too," she said with a smile. "I'm just surprised you're up this early. It's your last chance to sleep in before you can't use me as an excuse to only work half days." She was standing in front of the coffee table now, looking down at him with a teasing smile.
"You mean my last chance to hang out with you without work interfering," he corrected her. "Sleep is overrated, anyway."
She felt herself blushing slightly at that, and she watched as he stood up, his eyes remaining on her.
"How does it look?" he asked, his eyes glancing down at her arms.
"The poison ivy? Almost like it was never there," she replied, almost gleefully. She walked around the coffee table and pushed up her sleeves, standing in front of him and holding out her forearms, the palms of her hands facing up.
Just like he'd done the first night when he'd told her that she had poison ivy, he took her hands, placing his thumbs gently in the center of each of her palms, the tips of his other four fingers supporting them. This time, her fingers suddenly curled towards his thumbs, gently folding over them. She bit her lip awkwardly, looking surprised, despite the fact that she was the one whose fingers had covered his. Glancing up at him shyly to see his reaction, she saw him smiling at her, and she relaxed.
He was so amused by her reaction, he almost forgot why he'd taken her hands in the first place. When she looked back down at her arms, his eyes followed hers and he remembered what he was doing, proceeding to inspect what was left of the poison ivy rash.
He looked at her forearms, inspecting the difference that the past nineteen days had made. He'd seen every stage of the progression along with her, which made the fact that it was all now almost just a bad memory – for her anyway – that much better.
"You ready to go?" he asked, their hands still clasped together.
"Breakfast?" she asked, her eyes dancing excitedly. He wasn't sure how much of it was the way they were standing, holding onto each other's hands, or the thought of breakfast that made her smile like that.
Probably both, he thought in amusement. Jane could be reserved about her emotions when she was upset – not that she could successfully hide them from him – but when she was happy, it generally shone through pretty clearly.
"Yep," he said. "Breakfast." She nodded excitedly. Still, they stood where they were for a few more seconds before either of them broke contact, letting go reluctantly and each getting their jackets.
Outside, the air was crisp, as early November in New York often is, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Jane pulled on her gloves, not because she had to because she was contagious, but because her hands were cold – and enjoyed the fact that she had the choice. She had bounded out the door first in her excitement, so Weller, following their now-established pattern, locked the door behind them. It was strange how much her safe house felt like a second home to him after the past few weeks, but it made perfect sense considering how much of his time he'd spent there.
They turned left out onto the sidewalk, Weller nodding at her detail, Jane giving a little wave, and set out without even needing to discuss where they were going – the bakery, of course. Jane hadn't been there herself since the first week of her infection, back before she'd been on the heavy meds that had kept her out of the sun. She practically skipped along beside him, soon pulling ahead of him in her excitement, turning to look back at him over her shoulder with a grin.
"You in a hurry?" he asked her with a smile, pretending it wasn't obvious.
"Maybe I am," she replied. "Why not? It's a beautiful day. And I'm hungry!"
He smiled and shook his head, walking just a little faster to try to keep with her.
At the bakery, they chose a selection of pastries they hadn't yet had the chance to try, along with the all-important coffee, and then claimed the same table outside that they'd occupied the first day they'd been there. Once again they were the only ones there, inside or out. It seemed amazing to her, since as far as she was concerned, the place was so amazing it should have been crowded. Still, she didn't mind one bit that they had it to themselves.
Gloves quickly removed, Jane took charge of breaking off pieces of various things for them to try, her delight with the pastries, the coffee, and the entire outing every bit as obvious as it had been on their first visit. He watched her and smiled. Her delight was the best part of the whole thing, even better than the food, which was pretty amazing.
She knew that he was laughing at her. Well, not laughing at her, exactly, but grinning at her and chuckling in amusement… and she knew it was because of the way she was acting, so absolutely overjoyed to be there. She didn't care if he found her amusing. No, she actually enjoyed it. At that moment, she was enjoying pretty much everything.
"What?" she asked him, making a face at him and watching his amused expression.
"Nothing," he said innocently, holding up his hands as if to prove it. She offered him another piece of pastry, shaking her head at him. "I'm glad you're enjoying yourself," he told her sincerely.
"Mmmmm mmmmm mmmmm!" she exclaimed happily, and he chuckled again. She'd had a rough few weeks – hell, a rough entire life, as far as she could remember – and if anyone deserved to be lost in happiness over some pastries and coffee, it was her. Tomorrow their lives could get back to "normal," or what passed for normal since Jane had appeared in Times Square. Though he was looking forward to it, and he was glad that her poison ivy had finally become more of a minor, disappearing irritation, he'd also come to enjoy the downtime with her, and he had to admit to himself that, selfishly, he'd miss hanging out with her one on one for large chunks of time. He tried not to focus on that, however, but on the remaining day that still stretched out in front of them before reality, as kind as it may or may not be to them, would return.
They sat at the table and enjoyed the morning, the food and the company until their coffees were finished and their pastries completely nibbled – this time, they'd finished everything. Jane gathered up the trash and jumped up, and, her hands now full, did a little dance in order to get the crumbs to fall off of where they'd settled on her lap.
He stifled a sudden burst of laughter as she danced her way to the trash can. She dumped the trash into the trash and then turned around, brushing the remaining crumbs off of her and narrowing her eyes playfully at him. "You laughing at me, Weller?" she called, striding towards him and stopping in front of where he was still sitting in his chair, hands on her hips. He pressed his lips together, attempting to hide his smile.
"I wouldn't dare," he finally replied seriously, but his eyes betrayed him. She laughed outright then, and his smile escaped his control. Yes, he was going to miss this. He'd learned to appreciate time outside of work for the first time he could remember. Possibly the first time ever.
"Let's go," she told him impatiently. She held out her hands to pull him up, though of course she wasn't strong enough to do so if he didn't decide to get up. Yet again, he smiled at her, glad that he was there in that moment.
"Bossy," he said, winking at her, watching her smile in recognition at what was usually her line, but that was always said with great affection, no matter which of them said it. She chuckled slightly, still holding her hands out to him.
Grasping her hands, he pushed himself up from his chair, pretending that she was pulling him up, then once he was upright, letting her right hand, which was in his left, fall back to their respective sides, while keeping a loose hold on her left hand in his right as they set off down the sidewalk. It was going to be hard to find that line again, the one they had managed to dance back and forth on before she'd gotten poison ivy, but which had since then almost, but not quite, disappeared… Tomorrow. But for today… he decided he simply didn't care.
"So, where are we going?" she asked, glancing at their clasped hands, and then back up at him shyly. When she looked at him that way… it was just so endearing.
"To the car," he replied, deadpan humor once again in use. She reached across and punched him gently with her free hand, her face full of mock irritation.
"So, you're not going to tell me?" she asked.
"Nope," he replied, shaking his head. "But we are going to the car…" he added.
They make it to the car, making faces at each other the whole way over Jane's repeated attempts to get him to tell her where they were going and Weller's flat out refusal to do so. He shook his head at her. She should know that as an FBI agent, he wasn't going to divulge any secret that he didn't want to give away… not even to her. It made for an amusing drive into midtown, however. At least, he found it amusing.
When they'd finally parked on what appeared to Jane to be a random street on the Upper West Side, she was still baffled about what they were doing. She climbed out and looked around, waiting while Weller took a backpack out of the back seat, slinging it over his shoulder casually and walked around to join her on the sidewalk. There were buildings on the far side of the wide street and a grassy area that seemed to stretch on and on, beginning just past the sidewalk on the side on which they were standing. Come to think of it, she didn't remember ever seeing this much greenery in the city before…
Then suddenly Weller was standing beside her, watching her look out at the expanse of grass and trees in front of them. "It's called Central Park," he told her. "It's 843 acres of park in the middle of Manhattan." He looked down at her, and watched as surprise – as he expected – crept across her face.
"Wow," she replied. "That's a lot of park in the middle of such a big city." He nodded in agreement.
"It sure is," he said. "And it's one of the most well-known sites in New York City. They film tons of TV shows and movies here, people reserve sections of it for parties and weddings… and for good reason. It's pretty spectacular, basically all year long."
"Wow," she said again. "Sounds amazing."
"So let's go," he said, grabbing her hand loosely and tugging her along with him. Line be damned, he thought. He'd worry about that tomorrow. She walked behind him slowly, still looking out into the distance as if contemplating the sheer scale of the park existing right in the middle of the city. She almost seemed to be in a daze.
"Hey," he said, stopping and turning to face her, still holding her hand, slightly confused. "You okay?"
"Yeah," she said, finally focusing on him and not the greenery in the distance. Coming out of her thoughts she smiled up at him. "Lead the way."
They headed for the path that would lead them into the park, bumping their shoulders into each other playfully as they walked. The sun was shining and the air, while chilly, was still, so it didn't feel as cold as it otherwise might have at that time of year. All in all, they couldn't have asked for nicer weather for their last free day.
They wandered along paths, cut across large patches of grass, back along paths again, and even across a concrete bridge, constructed with an intricate pattern along the edge. As they'd approached it, Jane had stopped to appreciate the architecture. It was not an exaggeration to say that it was one of the most beautiful bridges she'd ever seen. It was a lot of fun to see Central Park with Jane, to see her experience everything for the first time, and everything with awe.
Having lived in New York City for so many years, he'd seen most of the highlights – though really, he'd passed through or by most of them in a work capacity, not in a leisurely way – unless Sarah had dragged him along, as she had on the holiday lights tour. He and Allie hadn't ever really done this sort of thing, and she'd been the next closest he'd gotten to anyone unrelated to him that he'd known in his years in the city. He knew why things had gone the way they had for him – work had always just been his only real priority – but he couldn't help but realize for the first time that he'd been missing out. He knew of the things in New York, but hadn't really experienced any of them before.
"Ready for a break?" he asked her. They'd been walking for quite a while, just wandering and enjoying the beautiful views, the day and each other's company. They were standing in the middle of a grassy field, and they were almost the only people as far as they could see – probably due to the chilly weather.
"Sure," she said, stopping behind him.
He reluctantly let go of her hand – which he'd been holding through all of their wanderings so far, and took the backpack off of his shoulder, setting it on the ground and unzipping it.
"So, what's in there?" she asked curiously.
"Oh, not much. A few different things," he told her vaguely. He took out a large, thick blue blanket, quickly zipping the bag back up before she had a chance to look any farther inside. Taking a few steps from where they were standing, he spread it out on the grass, tossing the backpack onto the far corner and then stepping carefully onto it, dropping to his knees and then finally sitting back, leaning back against his elbows with his legs stretched out in front of him.
"Plenty of room here," he said, waving vaguely toward the other half of the blanket. For some reason she was suddenly self-conscious, unsure exactly how close to him she should sit. Because they'd never discussed what exactly they were doing, beyond their one, vague "whatever this is," conversation, she felt like she ended up in this situation fairly often – never sure exactly what to do when faced with deciding how close to him she should get, literally or figuratively.
Of course, she knew that she was the one who made it awkward, and unnecessarily so – despite their lack of conversations on the subject, their feelings about each other seemed to be fairly clear, and fairly evenly matched. When she didn't overthink it, things felt incredibly easy between them – far easier than they logically should have, actually. Of course, this was all only because they weren't at work. She didn't need human resources training to know that at work, everything was different. But today, they weren't at work, they were in the park.
He watched her hesitating, so he patted the spot beside him, smiling sincerely. Relieved that he had read her mind that time, or at least her expression, she stepped onto the blanket, dropping to her knees and crawling the last few steps across the blanket, just as he had, and coming to rest just beside him, where he'd suggested. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eyes, still feeling strangely awkward.
"The clouds are pretty cool today," he observed, leaning all the way back so that he was laying flat, folding one arm behind his head and looking up at the puffy while clouds above them. Because there was no wind, they didn't appear to be moving at all. Jane, thankful for a distraction from her sudden awkwardness, did the same, laying back next to him. She knew without having to look at him that he'd shifted their focus to the clouds to distract her from whatever was making her feel uncomfortable. The clouds did look pretty cool. She couldn't say she'd ever really spent any time thinking about clouds.
"That one," Weller said, pointing at one that was a particularly odd shape, "almost looks like a…"
"A slice of pizza?" she suggested.
"I was thinking more of an ice cream cone, but I could also see a slice of pizza," he said thoughtfully.
She turned her head towards him, looking at him out of the corner of her eyes, "You're hungry again, aren't you?"
He turned to face her, their faces suddenly surprisingly close together. "Well…" he made a thoughtful face. "Yeah, a little bit."
She chuckled and rolled her eyes. "Of course. I should have known," she replied, awkwardness now forgotten.
"But," he said, suddenly sitting up, "I planned for such an occasion." She pulled herself partway up, leaning back against her elbows the way Weller had been before, to see what he was doing.
"You did?" she asked. "Why, what else is in the bag?"
"Well… food," he chuckled, looking into the bag and rummaging through its contents. "Basically just food."
She nodded, laying back down and looking up at the clouds and smiling. "Of course," she said, "You were the one who packed it."
"Very funny," he said, flopping back down next to her, on his stomach this time, nudging her shoulder playfully with his. "Be nice, and I might share."
"You mean if I'm not nice then you won't share?" she asked, wide eyed and innocently.
"Were you not planning on being nice?" he asked, feigning confusion. "We do still have to work together, you know…"
She sighed heavily, pretending to think about it. "Is there anything in it for me besides food?" she asked, well aware that she'd gone from awkward to over the invisible line teasing in a matter of minutes… and yet somehow, she knew that their "whatever it was" could accommodate the sudden shifts. They'd had enough of them already, after all.
When he leaned down closer to her face in response, she almost regretted the fact that the back of her head was against the blanket and she had nowhere to go… Almost. "Did you have something in mind?" he asked. She stared into his eyes, dangerously close, and bit her lip, shaking her head slightly.
"Just wondering," she said innocently, just above a whisper. He smiled knowingly and backed off a few inches, looking down at the bag in his hands.
"I'll share my grapes with you," he said, holding up the bag. "If you promise to be nice."
Again, she looked at him innocently. "I promise," she told him, biting back a smile. He broke off a few grapes from the cluster in the plastic bag he was holding and held it out to her. "Thanks," she said quietly. She took them from him, smiling, and bit one off the stem. She didn't bother to mention that she hadn't had grapes before, that she could remember.
It got old, mentioning that every little thing she did, saw, tasted or otherwise experienced was brand new, even as sympathetic as Weller was, and as many things as he actively tried to help her cross off her seemingly never ending list. She wondered then if Weller had known that she'd never tried grapes before. It would be just like him to pack them specifically for that reason. The thought made her smile.
She hadn't actually realized that she was hungry, but she was. Maybe Weller was rubbing off on her. They'd certainly spent enough time together lately. Glancing at him, she realized that he was watching her carefully, that she had a kind of a goofy smile on her face, and she felt herself blushing. "They're good," she said, hoping to change the subject. She'd even settle talking about how she'd never had grapes before, at that moment.
He smiled knowingly, pushed himself up and retrieved another bag of grapes from his backpack, flopping back down beside her and handing it to her. "I thought you might say that," he said simply.
"Yeah," she replied, popping a few grapes in her mouth so that she didn't have to worry about the fact that she wasn't talking. Then, when she finished chewing, she figured why not? "First time trying them," she said, glancing at the sky, feeling the exasperation of having to make this admission, and then back at him.
"I know," he said, looking slightly guilty.
He had known. I'll bet everything in that backpack is something I haven't tried… she thought. She ate the rest of her grapes in silence, watching the clouds. It was so peaceful here, she wished they could just stay there forever. When she'd finished the grapes, she crumpled the bag in her hand, laying her hand by her side and closing her eyes. A few minutes later, she felt movement beside her, felt the bag being taken out of her hand, and heard the zipper on Weller's backpack. Then he was lying beside her again.
"Are you asleep?" he asked her quietly.
"I must be," she said, "because I think I'm dreaming. Today is perfect." She smiled and bit her the side of her lip, knowing what she'd said was a little cheesy, then peeked her eyes open. As expected, he was watching her, and thankfully seemed to be grinning at what she'd said, not giving her a hard time for being sentimental.
"It is, isn't it?" he agreed. He was laying on his back again, right beside her, and without even thinking about it she leaned her head over just enough to rest the side of it on his shoulder. She was already dreading the end of the day and a return to the real world, when he reached down and took her hand, lacing their fingers together.
She lifted her head slightly, trying to make eye contact with him. When she did, in her eyes were so many questions. This day was perfect, and so much about the past 19 days had been perfect (despite being simultaneously also horrible), but it was all about to end. She didn't know what has going on in the first place, so it was hard to wonder how everything was about to change… which was probably why she didn't have any words to ask him about what happened after today. Not that she expected him to be able to answer any of these questions, even if she had been able to ask.
He squeezed her hand, smiling warmly at her, and she relaxed back against his shoulder once again, choosing to ignore the many doubts and questions in favor of the security she felt in that exact moment. So because she'd relaxed and closed her eyes again, she was surprised when he tugged on her hand, lifting it. She opened her eyes in surprise to see what he was doing, and watched, once again feeling as if they were moving in slow motion, as he brought it to his lips, kissing the back of her hand gently before letting their hands fall back to the space between them once more.
Her heart was hammering in her chest, and she was temporarily unable to move – but in a good way. She wasn't actually certain that she was breathing. Her head was still leaned against his shoulder, and there was a smile firmly embedded on her face… at the same time, however, there was a slightly shocked look on her face. He glanced at her and smiled, squeezing her hand and leaning his head against hers.
"Is it weird that I'm kind of glad I got poison ivy?" she asked, finally finding her voice.
"Is it bad that I'm glad you did?" he asked in reply. They both chuckled.
"As horrible as it was… and it was horrible…" she started.
"It wasn't all bad," he finished for her.
"Can we just stay here?" she asked.
"Here in the grass?" he replied. "This is an even worse place to live than the playground… absolutely no shelter here… And we do have some food, but it won't last too long…"
"Especially with how often you get hungry," she added. For that comment she got a playful nudge of his shoulder into hers, and she laughed.
"And I don't know how you feel about not having any plumbing facilities, but I have a feeling that after having poison ivy, peeing in the woods isn't really at the top of your list…" She shivered involuntarily at the idea, then laughed.
"So, what you're saying is, we can't stay here forever," she said sadly, trying to lift herself up far enough to lean back against her elbows, but without disengaging their hands. It was tricky, and she was having trouble accomplishing it, so to solve the problem, he did the same, so their hands were still beside each other, though keeping their fingers intertwined was now much more challenging.
"I'm sorry, we can't," he lamented. "But… we're here now."
"Yeah," she sighed. "Now is good."
He smiled, sitting up the rest of the way, and she turned to look up at him, then without a word, she sat up as well, scooting herself back towards him until she was leaning all the way against his chest. Instead of resting his arms on his knees, as he'd done in the blanket fort, he put them around her waist, holding on tight, resting the side of his chin against her cheek.
"Are you absolutely sure we can't stay here?" she asked. It was worth a try, after all.
She felt him chuckle against her back, and he pulled her just a little tighter. "Shush," he whispered, leaning so that he was speaking into her ear. "Don't be greedy. Just enjoy it." She chuckled as well, feeling slightly giddy.
Leaning her cheek into the side of his face, where he'd rested it, she whispered, "Bossy." She had no intention of moving from that very spot until she had absolutely no other choice.
They didn't get back to Jane's safe house that night very, very late. It was almost 2:00 am, and, considering that they'd be going to work in only a few hours, staying out so late had been a terrible idea. And yet, they simply could not bring themselves to allow reality to encroach on their perfect day until it had become absolutely necessary. While they hadn't stayed in that exact spot on the ground all day, they hadn't made it back to Weller's car until just after the park closed at 1:00 am.
Pulling up in front of Jane's safe house, Weller shifted the car into Park and looked at Jane, asleep beside him in the passenger seat. He couldn't blame her, he was exhausted, too.
Sighing, he pushed his door open and walked around to her side, opening her door and looking at her. He really didn't want to have to wake her up, but they both needed a few hours of sleep in an actual bed before facing the workday.
Your own bed, the voice in his head reminded him. He hadn't stayed at Jane's house since the one night he'd worried about her nightmares returning.
He had come to the end of the time where he could ignore the fact that there had to be a line between them that they couldn't cross. They were going to have to stop even dancing across it, and that was going to be painful, he knew. And though they weren't at work yet, they were painfully close.
"Jane," he whispered, putting a hand on her shoulder and shaking her gently. Her eyes began to open slowly, and she was temporarily confused about where she was. "Hey," he said softly, moving his hand to her cheek, tracing her jawline with his thumb.
Weller, that is not a good idea.
I don't care, he replied in his head.
She smiled, leaning into his hand. "Hey," she said, her voice raspy from just waking up.
"We're back at your safe house," he told her quietly.
"Okay," she whispered, not making any move to leave the car. He chuckled at her. This wasn't going to be easy.
"Come on, Sleeping Beauty," he whispered, taking her hands, and tugging her towards him, "you need to sleep in your bed, not my car, and I need to go home and sleep, too."
"Are you sure?" she asked, letting him pull her towards him but no farther.
He sighed heavily. It wasn't as though he wanted to drop her off any more than she wanted to be dropped off, and that fact wasn't helping.
She was leaning against him now, her head against his shoulder, her hands loosely in his, resting on her knees.
"Come on, Jane," he said softly, almost begging her not to make this harder than it had to be. This was the last thing he wanted to be doing. He'd put off thinking about going back to what they had been before her poison ivy for as long as he could, but always with the knowledge that he didn't have to think about it yet. And now he did, and he hated it. Did things have to be different? Maybe not… but at work… yes.
Refusing to wait for her to cooperate, because he was fairly sure that she would simply continue to stall all night, he put his arms around her waist and lifted her out of the seat, and found that she was not being very helpful. She looped her arms around his shoulders as she felt herself lifting, but made no attempt to lift herself off of the seat. He set her down on her feet outside the car, and she only grudgingly dropped her arms from around his neck. He turned around, pushing the door closed and turned back to face her.
"Come on, Jane, it's late," he said. He knew she wasn't resisting because she wanted to be difficult, but because the day – hell, the last 19 days – had been so special… and yet, he really wished that she wouldn't make him be the bad guy. He took her hand, because he was pretty sure it was the only way he was going to get her to her door. He walked up the few steps, fished her keys out of her jacket pocket – which made her smile – and then leaned past her to unlock the door for her, knowing that she would drag her feet on any of those steps in the process for as long as possible. As much as he didn't want to leave her there and go back to reality, he needed to get it over with.
Her front door was now open, and he dropped her keys back into her pocket. She had at least turned around, and was now leaning against the door frame, looking at him sadly. He started to step back, but she was still holding his hand, and he felt her hold on tighter when he began to move.
"Weller, I…" She looked upset, as though something was genuinely wrong. He stepped back to where he'd been in front of her, squeezing her hand. "I couldn't have made it through the last 19 days without you."
"You could have, if you'd had to," he assured her quietly.
She shook her head in protest, but didn't argue further. "I'm just glad I didn't have to," she replied quietly.
"Never," he said, letting go of her hand. He'd meant to take that moment to step back from her, putting physical distance between the two of them, but instead he found that once again, he had reached up to push her hair behind her ear. As he withdrew his hand this time, his finger traced her cheek for just a second, before he forced himself to pull it away, despite the fact that he hated himself as he did it. But he knew that he had to back away from her, and do it now, before he made things worse for both of them.
But the time she realized that he had backed away, he'd stepped down the first of the few steps in front of her house and was no longer within her reach. She sighed sadly.
"Thank you, Weller, Again." It was the same thing she'd said every night – every night that he'd left, anyway – but it sounded different this time. More final. Sad.
He smiled at her, shaking his head. "Jane, I'll see you in," he paused to check is watch, "about five hours, at the most." She nodded, but he could tell that that didn't make her feel much better. Somehow, without ever having discussed it, they both knew that after this, things probably wouldn't be the same. At least, not without an extreme amount of effort on their part, and there was just no way to know if that was even going to be possible.
"I just…" She looked down, unable to finish her thought.
"I know." She looked back up at him, feeling tears behind her eyes. He nodded, and she got the distinct feeling that that despite the fact that she'd said only two words, which had formed no part of a complete thought whatsoever, somehow he knew exactly what she was saying. It wasn't much of a consolation, but it was something.
"Good night, Jane," he said, backing down another step, now standing on the ground. He hated the look he saw on her face, but there was nothing that he could do about it. I have to get home. This was always going to end eventually. And besides, it's not the end. The only thing that's over is Jane's time off. He tried to justify it to himself, but it didn't help very much.
"Good night," she said, looking sad, and finally stepping backwards into the doorway. She knew that he was waiting to see her close and lock the door before he left, in part because it was part of his job to make sure she was safe, but even more importantly, because she knew that he cared about her. Somehow, that only made it that much worse.
Just before she closed the door, she glanced up and saw him, still standing there, watching her intently. That same look was on his face, the one that was always reserved for her. As she closed and locked the door, and then dragged herself wearily upstairs, where she fell straight into bed, she told herself that she would see him in the morning, that it didn't matter that it would be different there. That it would be fine, somehow.
Even if she didn't believe a word of it.
He drove home on autopilot, as he'd done so many times before, and ignored the feeling in his chest. He was exhausted, and it took all of his concentration to stay awake on the drive home. He couldn't afford to be distracted by his emotions… which he kept at bay by sheer willpower alone. It wouldn't be the same, but somehow, it would be fine. He told himself this all the way home, and in the few seconds when he was between awake and asleep.
Even if he didn't believe any of it.
That night, Jane had another dream, distinctly unlike the nightmare she'd had before. Unlike her previous nightmare, which she'd never brought up with Dr. Borden, this dream – a sex dream, as Dr. Borden seemed annoyingly fixated on – would take her directly to the team's psychologist, panicked, and suddenly there would be talk of boundaries between herself and Weller, something that had never been an issue before, that she'd never wanted before. After that… it was almost as though the previous few weeks – few months, even – seemed to crumble before her eyes. By the end of that day, her first day back, she almost missed having poison ivy, even on the worst day of it, because of what – actually, who – had come along with it.
She could only hope that eventually they'd somehow get past the mess they now found themselves in.
And of course, that she never, never had the misfortune to stumble into poison ivy again.
Thank you everyone for reading and reviewing this story, which was supposed to be just silly fluff (and while I admit that it wasn't solely fluff, it was closer than I've ever gotten in the past). I hope it kept you amused.
A few notes:
First… yes, I know you all wanted them to kiss. And on the show it drives me crazy all the times when they look at each other like they want to kiss, but they don't. And yet… there's something about that tension and all those looks between them that makes what they have so much deeper. And even though I started this idea as silly fluff, the depth of their relationship is one of the things I have always loved most about these two, and one of the things I can't bear to change (even if I do love to exaggerate their cuteness far more than just a little bit). So even though I watch (and rewatch, and rewatch…) the show and wish they would kiss long before 110, the time between 105 and 106 was still too soon. I know I brought them painfully close, many times… and yes, I did it on purpose. Sorry… but not really. :)
Second… at the beginning of the first chapter, I said that this was meant to fit in the time between 105 and 106 (if you can forgive for the fact that there clearly aren't actually supposed to be 19 days in between those two episodes, because, among other things, Jane goes to Weller's for that disastrous dinner in 105 and Mayfair asks him about said dinner in 106 – obviously it wouldn't take her anywhere near that long to find out… but beyond THAT, and maybe a few other things like that…). So now, after the nineteen days of "whatever this is," as Jane said a few chapters ago… now go back and watch 106. It's about 100 (maybe 1,000) times more painful to watch (in my opinion, anyway) than it was the times that I watched that episode before I wrote this story. Now that I've inserted so much more emotion between them, in a way, they have so much more to lose. It's heartbreaking to watch them be so cruel to each other... (Okay, now I need a moment… LOL) Deep breaths. It'll be okay.
Jane – I'm sorry I gave you poison ivy, and tortured you with a severe allergic reaction to it. And gave you nightmares, and everything else I did to you in this story. Thank you for being a good sport, and keeping me company in my misery over the past 19 days. But I gave you Weller for company, at least, so hopefully you can forgive me. :)
MonkeyPajamas – I couldn't have done it without your research and brainstorming and mad libs assistance and cheerleading and reviews and awesomeness. Thank you for keeping me company while *I* was stuck at home and absolutely miserable with poison ivy myself, even from 9 hours away… let's keep working on that wormhole idea. :)