Disclaimer: I do not own Blindspot. More like it's the other way around… I've come to realize that THEY own ME. :) (The ... indicate The Script song lyrics, which I also DO NOT own. I'm nowhere near talented enough)
A/N: Thanks to everyone who read and left such kind reviews on Where It All Began. Here's a little something else that just popped into my head in the past few days. It started out as a one shot, but… I'm not really good at writing short fics, so I'm breaking it up in pieces – not sure how many right now. The inspiration for this was in part from a suggestion in Brakkari's review of WIAB, along with a little help from yet another song from The Script (this song was just in my head the other day, I wasn't even actually listening to it), "For the First Time."
She's all laid up in bed with a broken heart
While I'm drinking Jack all alone in my local bar
And we don't know how, how we got into this mad situation
Only doing things out of frustration
Trying to make it work but man, these times are hard.
She needs me now but I can't seem to find a time
I've got a new job now in the unemployment line
And I don't know how, how we got into this mess
Is it God's test?
Someone help us 'cause we're doing our best
Trying to make it work but man these times are hard.
But we're gonna start by drinking old cheap bottles of wine
Shit talking up all night
Saying things we haven't for a while, a while yeah
We're smiling but we're close to tears
Even after all these years
We just now got the feeling that we're meeting
For the first time.
- "For the First Time," by The Script
Most of her first times included Kurt Weller.
It was true, he hadn't been there when she came out of the bag on that cold night in Times Square. That night, the FBI had thought they were dealing with a bomb, maybe a contagious disease…
Instead, they got Jane.
For a long time after that, it seemed to Jane like everything that she did was for the first time, and it was exhausting. She wasn't sure how long after she woke up, having been extremely groggy from the drugs in her system, that it was before she'd met Kurt Weller for the first time. Along with a horrifying collection of tattoos that were all over her, his name was apparently on her back, though she had no idea why. When he'd encouraged her to try to remember something, anything about him, she'd been terrified. It was only natural, since her memory had been wiped blank.
It felt like she'd been manhandled quite a few times in that small space of time between when she'd emerged from the bag and when Kurt sat in front of her, his right hand resting on the metal table beside them. And yet, when she reached out to rest her hand on top of his, and then to touch his face, that was the first time – at least the first time in her memory – that she had made contact with another person, instead of having someone make contact with her. Months later, she would wonder fleetingly if that was part of the reason why his touch always seemed to calm her, if that moment had imprinted on her somehow, or if there was some simpler, more logical explanation.
In truth, even as time wore on, it was hard to find many of Jane's "firsts" that had not involved Kurt. There were a few, of course… For example, the first time she tried coffee – and tea, for that matter – had been in Dr. Borden's office. He'd simply brought her one of each and asked her to taste them. It had been meant to be calming, she knew, to show her that she could still learn these small things about herself...
As nice of a gesture as it had been, Jane couldn't help but feel like it was ridiculous. After all, the list of things she would need to try for the first time was never ending… It was enough to give her one anxiety attack after another. The only thing that even began to bring her heartrate back down that day, when her thoughts wound her up so tightly, was walking into the screens room with Zapata, and seeing Kurt there. Never mind that they were staring at monitors plastered with pictures of her tattoos, and their conversation was exclusively tattoo focused… Just being in the room with him made her feel better.
It wasn't simple, of course, going through all of those firsts in such a short period of time, but just by virtue of being the lead agent, so he was in charge of her when she followed them into the field, Kurt had been with her most of the time, and therefore, for most of her many firsts. The first time she tried various different foods – because they did have to eat at some point in the course of their days. The first time she was overwhelmed by any one or more of a million different, unfamiliar emotions – even though he would have been the first to say that he'd never been a guy who knew how to help a crying woman feel better. Somehow, even the emotionally closed off Kurt Weller learned how to find the right words, when it came to Jane.
The list went on. Her first time going to a restaurant – because again, they did have to eat at some point. Her first time having a headache – which is generally what happens when you flip a car on its side, and it's the side you were driving on. And then, of course, the various parts of their job that the team had long since come to think of as routine, and which she didn't remember doing before, but that she somehow seemed to do with ease: her first time chasing down a suspect, her first time narrowly escaping death, her first time being nearby when things exploded… You know, just another day at the office.
There had been so many things that Kurt had been there to watch Jane experience for the first time. At times his heart had ached for her, but other times, certainly fewer of them, he'd been able to share her delight. And even when they weren't happy firsts, for the most part, he'd been there to tell her that it would be okay, that she would be okay. He had never hesitated to let her lean on him, literally or figuratively.
That is, except for the short time when he tried out that whole "remaining objective" thing, which had really just consisted of him acting like an asshole to prove that he wasn't treating her differently than anyone else – which of course, he was.
But between Jane and Kurt… well, their relationship had always been different than any other ones they had with anyone else, and it didn't take long for him to finally see that. They agreed that they were in "this," whatever this was, together. And then it seemed to work again… For a little while.
The first time she kissed Kurt gave her approximately two minutes of bliss… and subsequently changed her life – and NOT for the better.
If she had known that Carter's goons were lying in wait for her…
If she had known that she had done this to herself…
If she had known that Oscar had been her fiancé in her previous life, as well as her handler, and that he was now some sort of self-appointed, protective stalker…
If she had known that she would be forced to betray the only friends she knew in order to keep them safe…
If she had known the things that Oscar would ask – no, demand – of her…
If she had known that Mayfair would die…
If she had known that she was not Taylor Shaw…
If she had known that she would end up killing Oscar…
If she had known that she would end up losing Kurt, the one person who she cared the most about in the world…
… Would she had done things differently? God, yes, of course. But hindsight is 20/20, and that was the first of many, many painful days when she learned that, over and over again, until she hated herself just as much as the hated the people who had helped her "do this to herself."
In short, after the first time she kissed Kurt, everything went to hell. Apparently there was a first time for that, too.
That horrible day, Oscar had wanted to wipe her memory – which wouldn't have been a first time, but if he had succeeded, it would have felt like one. It would have reset all of those wonderful, painful firsts she'd had with Kurt by her side… No, she couldn't let that happen. Not again, not for any reason.
And so in order to stop that, she'd killed Oscar. Was it the first time she'd killed someone? For Jane, yes. But for… her… meaning, the person that should would only learn later had been named Remi, no. Not by a long shot.
The first time she was told that she wasn't Taylor Shaw, her world tilted on its axis.
It was one of the last things Oscar had told her that night, before they fought, before she accidentally swung the axe into his stomach in the middle of the burning barn. If it hadn't happened that way, would she have killed him intentionally? There was no way to know, now, but it seemed unlikely that he would have stopped in his attempts to ZIP her again, to erase her memory, so that may just have been the only way to stop him. And because fate had never been kind to her, Kurt had also discovered that she wasn't Taylor Shaw, at almost the same time, by finding the poor girl's remains… and so of course, he thought that she'd known it all along.
And now, if she wasn't Taylor Shaw, if it had all been a lie… who was she? She didn't know. No one seemed to know. She was back to square one, except that no… she only wished she was back at square one. What she had learned about herself… the things she had done… No, she was discovering how blissful her ignorance had been, though it certainly hadn't felt that way at the time.
For the first time, she wished that she could forget.
She's all laid up in bed with a broken heart
While I'm drinking Jack all alone in my local bar…
And then there was what she had been absolutely certain would be the last of her firsts with Kurt…
Well, in reality, that first had actually been more of a second, if she was being technical. When he had stood in her safe hours and pointed a gun at her (okay, Kurt pointing a gun at her was a first, and not one she'd thought it a million years would ever happen), when he'd told her to get on her knees, to put her hands behind her head… When he put the handcuffs tightly around her wrists… well, that hadn't been the first time it had happened to her, only the first time that he had done it. After all, that had been the first thing she had been told when she'd come out of the bag in Times Square.
After that, well… it was better to swim in the black oblivion of her mind. There were to be no more firsts that she wanted to be conscious of, much less to think of even once, and certainly not remember. The hatred in Kurt's eyes had been only a very gentle prologue to what she went through after the CIA took her away…
And yet, somehow, she made it out of there. Because while fate may not have ever been kind to her, she had also never been one to let herself be a victim if she could help it, event as a child. For once, her former life as Remi became necessary to her survival as Jane, and if there was a way out of that black site, she would find it. Those CIA agents, as well trained as they thought they were, were no match for her. The first time they realized that was the day she escaped.
The first time he came looking for her with a gun, she was as angry with him as he was with her. Would she have shot him if he'd been unarmed? She honestly didn't know.
Right there in the hallway of that motel, they slammed each other into walls, into the floor, took out months of aggression, anger, betrayal, loathing… maybe even hatred… They took it all out on each other as they fought. In the end, she had had the chance to shoot him. Really, she'd had several, because he'd tossed his gun away early on, at her insistence.
It was the first time she'd even have considered shooting him.
Kurt. The man who had been everything to her. There had been a time when she would no more have considered shooting him than she would have cut out her own heart. But that had been before so many terrible firsts… and some other things that, while she'd trained for them and they weren't firsts, would leave scars on her body that might never heal.
It was hard to remember Kurt in that role, as the one person who was good to her, who could always ground her, steady her. And yet, looking back now, what had he been… really? When all was said and done, there had never been a word for what they'd been to each other. Based on how things had ended up, how they'd crashed and burned, it was easy to say that they had been nothing. Nothing real, anyway.
Sadly, this was far from the first time they'd lied to themselves about the other.
After the bitter fight in the hallways of the motel, in which Zapata and Reade had saved Jane from having to make the decision – would she shoot Kurt, or would she not? – when they arrived and pointed their guns at her, she was surprised when a whole new series of firsts with Kurt began.
Her intention had been to finish Sandstorm, whose codename she'd never even heard at the time, on her own. And yet, she'd ended up back at the FBI, though against her will. It wasn't the first time she'd worked with people against her will, that much was for sure. Just like before, once again she was trapped. Sandstorm had threatened to kill Kurt before. Now the FBI had not so indirectly threatened to send her back to the CIA.
Why did it feel like she had only ever been a pawn to be used? Like she had never been anything real to anyone?
That's not true and you know it, the voice in her head protested.
Oh really? she replied sarcastically.
She couldn't help but wonder where along the line everything had gone so wrong.
The first time you didn't trust Kurt was where you went wrong, she told herself bitterly. You could have prevented all of this.
…And we don't know how… How we got into this mad situation
Only doing things out of frustration
Trying to make it work but man, these times are hard…
I should have known that they'd come, she told herself bitterly as she was injected with radioactive materials and hooked up to some strange looking machine that would, she was told, tell the team whether or not she was telling the truth. There would be no fooling it the way she could fool a polygraph, she was told, so don't bother trying.
And yet, part of her had believed that she was dead to them, and that they wouldn't care enough to come after her. After letting the CIA torture her… now they wanted to show concern for her? Or they just wanted to help capture her? For what? Information? Reward money? No… they wanted Oscar's group. Sandstorm, they called it. So there she was, a pawn once again. They didn't actually care about her. That much was obvious.
The first time she didn't know which side to trust, and had no one to confide in, was the first time she wondered why she had sacrificed so much to protect them.
Things were terrible, bouncing back and forth between Sandstorm and the FBI, but they were better than being with the CIA. She did what she had to do, followed orders, and she wasn't tortured… not physically, anyway. She had infiltrated Sandstorm for the FBI, and as far as Sandstorm was concerned, she'd infiltrated the FBI for them. It was exhausting, the constant pushing and pulling, watching her back and remember what to tell who. No one actually trusted her, everyone tested her loyalty – whether overtly or in secret – again and again. She now watched both groups as an outsider, seeing the value of both of their arguments, some days swayed more by one and other days swayed more by the other.
It was the first time she wondered if she really had done the right thing by allowing the FBI coopt her from her – no, Remi's – mission. She couldn't say for sure if she had done the right thing… or could she?
Did they really turn me, though, or did I just change my mind? Or… have I changed my mind? When she thought about it, she knew that it wasn't the FBI who had turned her – at least not the first time – no matter how much she might want to blame them for her current predicament. No, the fact was that she was simply no longer Remi. She was Jane, a new person. And Jane wasn't the cold, calculating killer that Remi had been, willing to sacrifice herself completely for what she believed to be the greater good, no matter how violent the means necessary to achieve this "good." To Jane, the ends did not necessarily justify the means, and there were some things that she would not give up.
So she worked with the team, despite the fact that they hated her and she knew it. It was understandable. And she worked with Nas, this newcomer from the NSA who always seemed frustratingly, suspiciously, annoyingly calm. Jane watched the way the team's dynamic had changed – both due to the subtraction of herself and the addition of Nas. They were probably better off that way, of course, but it stung more than she expected it to. Despite Nas' declaration that Jane could trust her, there was something about Nas, something that she couldn't put her finger on, that she didn't like, that she didn't trust.
Then again, she didn't particularly like any of them just then. Hell, she liked herself least of all. So not liking Nas… well, it wasn't that much different than how she felt about anyone else.
The first time she felt it – that feeling that something was off – she dismissed it as nothing.
After what she'd been through with the CIA, paranoia didn't seem irrational, and she could deal with it as long as she kept in mind that it was in her head. Besides, there had been many other times when she had flinched when someone entered the room too quickly, or when someone walked behind her, or in the case of someone who wasn't part of her team, came in her general direction at all… She knew that she was jumpy, that everything set her off, and she had to constantly tell herself to breathe, to relax, not to strike out against the people around her out of pure reflex. Even Kurt, and the daggers he was staring at her.
Especially Kurt, the one to whom she'd once been the closest of all.
Eye contact with him alone was difficult, with the way he stomped around glaring at her. Maybe she deserved it. But she'd be lying if she said she didn't have very similar feelings of anger towards him, at least at first. Anger, however, was exhausting, and hers seemed to slowly dissipate as the weeks went on, giving way to other, even less productive feelings. Guilt. Frustration. Self-loathing.
And so, among the stew of emotions bubbling inside her, when she felt the first, faint notion that something was off, she told herself that it was nothing. She had obviously just lost her ability to read situations correctly. To read people correctly. Even him. And why not? She'd lost everything else, after all.
No, she told herself, there was nothing off. While it bothered her that Kurt was bombarding her with hatred, it made sense. She had earned that. She decided that the problem was simply that she hadn't developed a thick enough skin yet to absorb the death glare that he seemed determined to give her all day, every day.
I need to work on that, she told herself, and let it go with that. She went back to her work and the uncomfortable position of working with a group of people who hated her, ignoring the hostile glares they showered her with whenever they looked her way. Or at least that's what she felt as she tried her best to ignore them.
...Trying to make it work, but man, these times are hard…
Painstakingly slowly, it started to get better. She and Kurt exchanged a few sentences at a time some days, both trying to make the other understand their frustration but not really knowing how to do that, still as buried in their own feelings as they were. The rest of the team… well, Patterson started to come around, always having been most empathetic to the sorrows of others. Even Reade's glares lessened.
Zapata was the hold out, and Jane wondered if the woman would ever stop looking at her like she wanted to kill her. In truth, Zapata seemed like she would have been just as happy to shoot Jane as she'd been when she'd done it the first day Jane had come back from the CIA and had needed a wound as a cover to pretend she'd escaped from Cade.
Despite all this, it was progress. Perhaps one day, no one on the team would want to shoot her anymore, at least.
The first time she noticed the look between Weller and Nas, she thought she might be sick.
No, Jane wasn't an FBI agent and no, she wasn't necessarily an expert at reading people. But she had always understood Kurt without even trying to – the same way that he had understood her. That tie had seemed to be severed, or so she'd thought… except that somehow, now that she was back, the connection between herself and Kurt seemed to have reestablished itself, all on its own, despite the fact that they barely talked. It was weaker, and it felt different, but it was there.
These days, this was a curse, because the more the hostility cooled between the two of them, the more she suddenly felt that connection slowly grow stronger, despite her best efforts to block it… But still she tried not to feel it, because the more she thought about him, the more painful it was.
She might never have noticed that look if not for the fact that she watched him. Frequently. More frequently than she used to, before, even. At first, she wasn't even conscious that she was doing it, she would simply emerge from her thoughts and find her eyes trained on him.
Stop it! she would tell herself feverishly. She didn't want this, didn't want him to think that she was pouting over him or something equally stupid and childish. No, she understood precisely why things were the way they were. Once again, she had done this to herself.
She was prepared to handle just about anything, or so she thought. And then there was Nas, who had been the only one to even pretend that she was sympathetic to her when she "returned" (i.e. was forced to come back) to the FBI. Of course Jane didn't trust her. Jane didn't trust anyone, so that wasn't a surprise. Her guard was up, and she watched them all. She watched the team, because she hoped to somehow see some answer in them about how to move forward with all of his, back to the good place where they had all once been, as ridiculous as that might be. And Nas, well, Jane watched her because she was an unknown variable, and Jane didn't like unknown variables.
There was so much more than she didn't know about Nas, so much that she watched the other woman guard behind a cool, calm exterior. That feeling that she'd had about something being "off," maybe it had something to do with Nas, she decided. Was it just that she was there at all, or was there a reason why Nas gave her such an uneasy feeling? She wasn't sure, so she watched her, too, more consciously than she watched the others.
It didn't take Jane long to figure out what was unsettling her.
Nas was watching Kurt.
Now of course, Jane wasn't under any allusions. She didn't own the right to watch him, or any of them for that matter. She understood her own motivations – well, mostly – and not the others', so it was easy to think that her watching people was harmless, while anyone else's was sinister, despite the fact that it could be exactly the same.
Except that it wasn't the same. If she didn't know it at first, she figured it out shortly after she'd noticed Nas watching Kurt… because what happened next was that she realized that Kurt was watching Nas, too.
She now spent a great deal of time watching the two of them, first for different reasons but now in horror as she began to realize what she was actually seeing – though she still hoped that maybe she was wrong – while still going about her usual business. When the two of them were in the same room, it became more complicated, because it was harder to watch both of them as carefully as she wanted to while not being too obvious. The whole thing made her head spin, while also making her pretty much lose her appetite. This, of course, only gave her more time to watch them, because she didn't have to stop to eat.
There was one day in particular when the two of them were standing in the middle Kurt's office, talking. Nothing inappropriate was happening. There were several feet still between them. Nothing alarming or blatantly obvious transpired.
And yet, Jane had been watching from a computer across the bullpen area for long enough, and she knew Kurt well enough, despite what he felt about never having known her at all, that something just clicked inside her head, like someone flipping on a light switch. Suddenly, Rich Dotcom's "Ohhhhh" in the interrogation room flashed through her head, playing in stereo in both of her ears, the volume deafening.
Standing quickly and suddenly struggling to breathe, she was desperate to get away before anyone noticed her obvious distress. "Luckily" for her, at least in this case, since her return to the FBI people generally went out of their way not to see her, and this had become a habit, so consequently no one noticed as she moved unsteadily from the room.
Jane walked down the short space of hallway to the bathroom as fast as she could, feeling her legs begin to buckle under her as she pushed through the door. Thankfully, the room was empty, and she locked herself in a stall where she leaned her head against the thin wall, standing still and simply focusing on remaining upright until her breathing came back to normal and she was convinced that she wasn't actually going to throw up.
Because she knew. She didn't want to know, she had no proof, but she just had a feeling that she couldn't explain. Despite having absolutely no right to say anything about it, no claim over him, no legitimate reason to object other than her wounded pride and a flash of jealousy.
Once she could breathe again, she went back to work. That's what you get for watching, she told herself.
After that, she tried not to watch either of them, tried to keep her eyes down, tried not to know. Because she now knew that there was something worse that Kurt simply hating her, as childish as she felt admitting it to herself. It was jealousy, but it was more than that. When he'd been with Allie, she hadn't felt this way. She hadn't been what she would have called excited, but she had been happy for his happiness… or she could at least lie to herself and say that she had been.
But Nas? There was something very, very wrong here. Despite the fact that she tried not to watch them, she remained concerned. Suspicious, even. And alert, because if she had learned one thing, it was that staying alert meant staying alive.