Disclaimer: I do not own Blindspot. More like it's the other way around… I've come to realize THEY own ME. :) There's more about some song lyrics that I also don't own in the note at the end of this chapter because, as Rich Dotcom would say, "No spoilers, please!"
A/N: Okay, this is the last chapter. To soften the blow, it's by the longest chapter I think I've ever posted on any fic I've written. I probably should have split it in half, but… no. It needed to be one continuous entity. Thank you all so much for coming along on this little journey with me, and for the love you've given this story. I can't believe it took until April to get through December. :) I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
As the afternoon wore on, Jane had been a little quieter than usual, a little more lost in thought. Kurt had a suspicion that he knew the reason, and he figured that if she didn't say anything about what was bothering her by seven o'clock, and still didn't seem more like herself, he'd bring it up. After all, she had every right to process things in her head. He just didn't want her to spend too long dwelling on them, which she had a tendency to do. Just another thing they had in common, he supposed.
Even though they were expecting their guests at eight o'clock, they'd warmed up a vegetable and beef stir fry – yet another thing that had been left in the refrigerator for them – around six. Kurt was already getting hungry, and Jane definitely needed to eat at least a little, so why not? They'd assumed that if the others brought over more food – almost a given, really, at this point – it would probably be more like snacks. Besides, even though they weren't bored by any stretch of the imagination, having dinner was something to do, a familiar, soothing routine. Their lives weren't especially normal, but this was at least one normal thing that they could do.
After dinner, Jane was standing at the counter making coffee while Kurt sat at the dining room table, as she had insisted that he should, watching her. As she waited for the machine to finish brewing, she stared absently into mid-air, turned half way towards Kurt so that he saw her profile, including the frown on her face. The noise of the coffee machine brought her back to reality, and she turned her back to him to finish the task she'd given herself. Besides the fact that she liked coffee, it seemed like a good idea since they were planning to stay up so late after having gotten into the unfamiliar habit of going to bed at a reasonable hour. However, she wondered if the caffeine would irritate her stomach, which was feeling a little unsettled at the moment already.
Of course, she knew that Kurt had noticed the difference in her. Surprisingly, he hadn't said anything about it yet, but she had a feeling that he was simply just biding his time. He wasn't one to let it go completely when something was bothering her, but it was very much like him to choose his timing carefully before bringing it up.
As for what was bothering her, well, she knew it was silly. She was looking forward to that evening – or she had been, anyway – and at the same time… she was feeling increasingly stressed. She and Kurt had spent so much time on their own, or at most, with Sarah and Sawyer, over the past eight days, the thought of the scrutiny of the team was… unsettling was the best word for it, because that was definitely how she felt.
She knew that she shouldn't worry about it, because they had all been amazingly kind to her only a few days ago at the hospital, after Kurt had been injured and she'd been a blubbering mess. Even before that, Jane hadn't felt friction on Wednesday morning, the one day they'd been in both the office and in the field with the team, before the explosion. Even at the holiday party the week before, things had felt pretty much okay by the end…
Somehow, however, it was only the skepticism and mistrust that she was imagining from them just then, for whatever reason. The way they'd treated her with such reservations both when she'd first appeared in their lives after Times Square, and then again after she'd "come back" from the CIA. For whatever reason, those were the parts that were brain was choosing to remember, despite the fact that she knew that those were what she should be dwelling on, and that she shouldn't.
While her first time at the FBI – back at the beginning – had been scarier, when she had had no idea who she was, the second time she'd "ended up" there (which somehow sounded better than the way it had actually happened – that they'd brought her in like a criminal… though she supposed that she was a criminal…) had been especially bad. That time she had known who she was and what she'd done. She'd been as angry and felt as betrayed as they had, while simultaneously feeling guilty for her own actions – it was a horrible combination.
Even though things had improved since then, to the point that they had all been able to at least speak civilly to each other most of the time even before the party, she still hadn't felt like part of the team. She hadn't been included in anything they did, and she had assumed that she never would be again. And as much as that hurt, all she kept repeating to herself was that it was her own fault. After all, no one had done any of this to her. No, she had literally done it all to herself. Again.
That night at the party, she'd gotten the feeling that while Patterson had acted happy to see her when she'd arrived, had things not gone the way they had with Kurt, she could have slipped out and none of them would have even noticed. Or at least, that was what her head kept telling her.
To make a long story short, this gathering had sounded like a great idea yesterday, and even as recently as a few hours ago, even, but this afternoon she was a ball of anxiety. The closer the time got, the more and more anxious she became – even though logically, she knew that she shouldn't be.
She walked back over to the table with their coffees, but Kurt stood up slowly as she approached, signaling her to follow him as he walked toward the couch. She was glad he was headed that way, because at least if they sat on the couch, she could sit closer to him. Just then she needed the reassurance that even just sitting closer to him would provide. Touch, after all, had always been soothing between them.
They sat down close together, Kurt leaning back against the back pillow and Jane perched rigidly on the edge beside him, both of them sipping from their coffee. She knew that he was watching her, because she could feel his eyes boring into the back of her head. Finally, sighing heavily, she put down her coffee on the table in front of her and leaned back slowly, finding his left arm extended behind her, so that it crossed down her back diagonally with his hand at her waist when she leaned back, and he didn't attempt to remove it. She couldn't relax, however, though she tried, and she simply sat and looked down at her lap, unable to bring herself to look at him.
Glancing across the room at the clock, Kurt checked the time. 6:55 pm. Close enough, he thought, unable to watch her brood over her thoughts any longer.
The arm that was behind her pulled her closer to him. "Come on, talk to me," he told her, not even bothering to ask if something was wrong. Surely she already knew that he could tell, after all. "What part of it is making you anxious?"
Smiling slightly at the fact that, of course, he knew exactly what was bothering her, she shook her head but didn't look up. "It's silly," she started slowly in a soft voice, realizing that talking about it didn't seem so daunting when she didn't need to explain what she was talking about. "They were really nice to me at the hospital. Even at work on Wednesday and the party last week, things seemed okay… But I can't help feeling like…" She shook her head in frustration and finally looked up at him, her face reflecting the tension she obviously felt.
Kurt smiled knowingly, feeling slightly relieved that he had been right about what was bothering her, and that it wasn't something more serious. In a soothing voice, he began trying to get through to her. "It makes sense, Jane. After all, until nine days ago, you and I weren't even on great terms, and we had always been the ones who had…" He paused there. They'd never talked about it, because they'd never needed to. They'd both just known. "…a special connection. At least…" He looked at her tentatively and added, "I think so…"
When she smiled slightly, looking back at her lap and nodding, he went on. "Things between us had gotten… better slowly, yes, but they were still strained before that night at the party. Even after the party, after we talked, it still felt a little awkward… nothing like it does now. It's hard to remember that that was only last week, because we've had so much time since then to talk, and to work through things. It's been kind of… intense… And yes, you and I have made up for a lot of lost time, but you haven't had that kind of time… to normalize things, I mean… with them. So it makes sense that you feel anxious. But it's going to be okay."
He smiled at her, and saw her smile tentatively, still looking down, before dropping her head against his shoulder. "With the rest of the team, you're not in the same place. You're farther back than you and I are. Besides that, the relationship is obviously different. Think how you felt about me when I stopped you in the stairwell. Yes, there was more baggage, so maybe it was more intense, but it's the same idea. I can't defend their actions any more than I can defend my own. But you and I both know that they're good people. They do care about you, we've all just… it wasn't as hard for us as for you, but no one has had it easy in this."
She nodded, whispering, "I know. And I have no right to judge, so I—"
But he cut her off before she could start to put all the blame on herself, like she always seemed to do. "What happened to you hasn't been fair. You have a right to feel however you feel. Just… remember that they might be just as anxious as you, okay? Or maybe not as much, but… just…" He shook his head, feeling like he wasn't doing too well in the pep talk department. "It's going to work out. We're going to laugh and have fun and count down and then kiss at midnight, so that that is the first thing that happens to either of us in the new year. And they can tease us all they want, because you know they're just jealous… Right?"
His pep talk was far from perfect, but in a way that made it perfect. He clearly didn't really know the best way to go about this conversation, and yet he was trying his best. That alone was already making her feel better. He always managed to make her feel better.
Sitting up for a second to take another sip of her coffee, she leaned back to find that Kurt's arm once again behind her. This time, however, since he couldn't raise his arm far enough to rest it on her shoulders, he had bent it at the elbow so that his forearm went up the middle of her back, bringing his fingertips to rest on the oil derrick tattoo peeking up from the neckline of her shirt on her upper back. Leaning his head back slightly to look at the lines of the tattoo, he ghosted his fingertips over the ink slowly, again and again.
She'd forgotten how much she liked that sensation since he'd done it the other day. Closing her eyes, she couldn't help but smile. "Is this you trying to get me to relax?" she asked, finding herself suddenly exhaling the stress she'd been feeling until just a minute ago.
"Is it working?" he asked. Reaching his right hand over in her direction, slowly so that he didn't accidentally twist his body toward her, he laid his right hand over hers, there on her right leg, closing his fingers securely around it.
"What do you think?" she asked, her face now completely relaxed and her eyes still closed.
He wished that he could sit closer to her, the way they had the whole time in Clearfield. Once again, it was frustrating to have so many limitations on his movement, especially when it kept him from getting closer to her. It was hard to keep things in perspective, and remember that it all could have been so much worse, even though he knew it was true.
"I think," he said slowly, "that I'm really tired of not being able to turn the way I want to."
Opening her eyes to look at him sympathetically, she saw the glint in his eyes. "Which way do you want to turn?" she asked him. She knew what he was trying to say, she just couldn't resist teasing him. It was too much fun.
Glad to see that Jane was suddenly acting more like herself, he felt the knot of frustration inside him ease slightly. After all, she had a relaxing effect on him, as well. Instead of teasing her back, however, he simple shrugged and said, "Toward whichever side you're on."
Her face broke into a wide grin then, and her head dropped forward for a second before she turned to look back at him over her shoulder at him, shaking her head.
"Sweet, but very corny," she told him teasingly. In her eyes, however, he could see raw emotion just below the surface. He loved that about her.
"Maybe so," he countered, "but it's the truth."
Despite how much she was enjoying the feeling of his fingers at the base of her neck, she had an idea about how to ease his frustration at not being able to turn towards her. Reluctantly, she moved her right hand out from under his and stood up. He watched her curiously, and before he had a chance to wonder too much, she turned around and stood in front of him in the small space between the coffee table and his knees. She hesitated for a second, knowing exactly what she was thinking of doing and how it could come across… and then she reminded herself that of all the people in the world who would take something she did the wrong way, Kurt would be last on that list. No, he wouldn't be on the list at all, because he always just seemed to know. He always just seemed to 'get' her. Before last Friday, and the party, things would have been very, very different – obviously – but now… right now she knew that he would understand what she was doing.
He'd been watching her intently, not saying anything, seeming content to just wait and see whatever it was she was going to do. Seeing her hesitate as she stood in front of him, he watched a range of emotions flash across her face in only a few seconds, and he was fascinated. And then just as suddenly as her hesitation had come, it was gone.
There'd been a few inches between his knees when she'd stood up, and she nudged one of her legs into that space, easily moving both his legs to the sides with hers and stepping towards him until both her legs were against the edge of the couch.
He now he thought he understood the look that had come across her face. There was a degree of intimacy in that gesture that they had so far flirted with only briefly, when he'd done almost the same thing, stepping in front of her when she sat on the counter. It made perfect sense to him that she was doing what she was doing, since they'd pretty much identified every angle from which they could get closer to each other over the past few days. He realized that she knew that he was frustrated with not being able to turn towards her, and she wanted to take his mind off of what he couldn't do, getting closer to him in the process. Both of them liked that. Once again, he was in awe at how intuitive and how selfless she was – not, of course, that she wouldn't also get something out of the deal in this case, of course.
Pushing himself slowly back against the couch pillow behind him as far as he could, he made as much space in front of him as he could, understanding now what she was doing. She smiled appreciatively, a hint of awkwardness in her smile that just made the entire thing more endearing, as far as he was concerned. The look that passed between them made it clear that they both know exactly what she was doing, and her smile widened in reply to the silent communication. Slowly and of course, very carefully, given the space constraints in front of her, she leaned her right knee down on the edge of the couch, followed by her left knee, both braced hard against the couch in the space between his legs. Leaning forward very slowly so that she didn't lose her balance, she grasped the edge of the couch behind him, behind the pillow that he was leaned against.
"I've got you," he said under his breath, putting his hands on her waist to help her keep her balance. She looked down at him, smiling gratefully, gradually relaxing as she realized that maybe she wasn't going to fall, after all. Not that she would have minded falling on him, of course, except that that would have hurt him, possibly badly. Trying to keep her balance, she shifted slightly, sitting down on her knees so that her face came down more into line with his.
He wanted to kiss her as soon as she was in front of him – of course he did. After all, he was in love with her, and she was gorgeous, and what she was doing was more than a little bit tempting – but even more than he wanted to kiss her, he wanted to look into her eyes. That was the thing about Jane that he'd never felt for anyone else he'd dated – he didn't just want to kiss her, or do anything else that that would lead to. No, he also wanted to talk to her, he wanted to understand her, and he wanted to protect her, all of it, and all of these impulses were about a thousand times stronger than he'd felt them for anyone else. Everything about her fascinated him, and it was a battle inside him between wanting to pull her as close to him as he could and wanting keep her just far enough away so that he could see her. This feeling had been growing for a while, slowly enough that he realized that he had missed it for a long time, but over the past week it had intensified.
"Yes, you do," she said, beaming. "Sorry if this is a little, uh… well, I mean, the options are limited… and I…" Now she was blushing, which he found hilarious. She hadn't blushed when she'd lowered herself down in front of him, which could be taken more than a little suggestively… No, she blushed a deep pink now that she was already there. That was Jane – unlike anyone else and full of surprises.
"Do not be sorry for this," he said, arching his eyebrows at her suggestively, then dropping them and grinning at her with her favorite innocent grin. Shaking his head at her and chuckling, he felt a little bit lightheaded. There was something about her, about the two of them, that made him just… Giddy was the only word for it, despite the fact that he'd never have thought he would use that word to describe himself. And yet, that was how he felt just then.
Thinking back to just a few minutes before, his face creased in concern. "Hey, are you okay? I mean, about tonight…" He carefully removed one of his hands from her waist and brought it up to her face, then pushed a wayward strand of hair out of her eyes and tucked it behind her ear, replacing his hand on her waist slowly and carefully.
The expression on her face immediately softened, and she lowered her forehead against his. "I'm okay," she said, exhaling slowly. Then, in a steadier voice, she added, "How could I not be? I have you."
"Now who's being cheesy?" he asked her, but his tone was warm and soothing, and she just smiled.
"Maybe so," she told him with a shrug. "But it's the truth." Smiling, because she'd echoed his words from not that long ago, she leaned back to look at him. Then, laughing softly to herself, she added, "I told you, they're going to think we're disgustingly cute, just like Sarah did."
"We've gotten way worse since we were in Clearfield, I think," he said thoughtfully.
"Yeah, sometime around the time you almost died," she chided him.
"I'm sorry," he said seriously, despite the fact that it had, of course, been completely out of his control, and she shook her head at him, smiling fondly that he was apologizing for almost dying. Then suddenly, once again, she felt a sharp pain in her heart as she remembered that night in the hospital.
But he didn't die. He's right there, the voice in her head told her as she looked into his eyes, trying to breathe normally after suddenly realizing that she was holding her breath against the pain.
Exhaling slowly, she felt calm slowly return, and with a shrug, her voice was reduced to a whisper. "Well, besides the fact that it wasn't your fault," she began with a grin. Her face grew more serious then, and she continued. "I guess it's like everything else we've been through… it brought us here. So… don't be sorry."
"That's what I like to hear," he said, sincerely happy to hear those words from her. He knew that she still had a long way to go towards making peace with her past, of course. They both did. But she'd come a long way already, and this was the proof.
"You like to hear what? Don't be sorry?" she asked him mischievously. "Don't get too used to that."
When she leaned her face towards his, barely able to contain the teasing smile on her face, he just shook his head at her. "Very funny, but no. The part before that. That it brought us here."
"Well, it did," she said with a shrug. Leaning even closer to him, she stopped just short of their lips making contact and asked, to his surprise, "What time is it?" After all, this time she was the one facing away from the clock.
Confused by the question, he made a face at her. "Why do you ask that?" he asked, their lips practically brushing together.
"Because I want to know how long we have until the rest of the team gets here," she said with a grin, "so I can allow five minutes to not look too disheveled. Because I know what I want to do with the rest of the time."
Catching on to what she was saying, he looked across the room at the clock. "It's 7:42," he told her, looking into her eyes.
"So, thirteen minutes. Got it," she replied breathlessly.
Then in the split second just before she closed the distance between them, he asked, "And what if they're more than five minutes early?"
"They they'll just have to wait," she growled, leaning forward the last fraction of an inch. With her lips already against his, she added, "Because no one's coming in here in the next thirteen minutes."
This kiss felt different to him, because he was smiling so hard when he leaned into it. Certainly not bad different. Actually, he really liked the feeling. Good thing Jane makes you smile so much, then, the voice in his head observed before quieting down and leaving him alone.
At eight o'clock exactly, Patterson knocked on Weller's door. She and Zapata had been back and forth about the details extensively, but they'd made sure to leave Weller and Jane alone. After all, if they really needed something, they'd have let one of them know… at least the two women hoped so. But the chances of Weller and Jane wanting anyone else around over those few days were slim to none, and the rest of them knew it. Having seen Jane at the hospital, it had been clear to the others that not only had the two of them picked up where they'd been before everything had fallen apart between them, but they seemed to have gone on quickly from there.
Kurt went to the door when he heard the first knock, at exactly eight o'clock. Jane had just ducked into the bathroom, and when he opened the door and saw Patterson, he noticed her eyes dart around, past him into the apartment. He smiled at the blonde, who was clearly curious to know how things were going between them, knowing that she would find out very soon without even having to ask.
"Hey, Patterson, come on in," he said, stepping back for her to enter.
"Hey, Weller. How are you?" she asked as she walked past him with a concerned smile. From the look on her face he was pretty sure that she wanted to hug him, but it appeared that she had decided at the last second not to.
"Still pretty sore, but doing better," he said. "It's going to be a few weeks of taking it slow, but I'm hoping to be back in the office by—" Looking up, he saw that Jane had silently appeared out of nowhere, and was looking at him with a smirk, waiting for the end of that sentence. "—next Friday at the earliest, and strictly in the office. No field work for a while," he finished, earning her nod of approval.
"You were almost busted for a second there," Jane told him with a grin, then smiling at their new arrival. "Hi, Patterson," she said to the blonde, projecting a calm that she didn't feel.
"Jane!" Patterson exclaimed, and this time Patterson didn't resist the urge to hug, just as she hadn't bothered to at the party. Of all the people she knew, Jane was probably the one who needed hugs the most, even if she might not know it. Kurt watched Jane carefully, knowing how much better she would feel with even just a friendly greeting from Patterson. He was glad that Patterson, the most sensitive of their three guests, had been the first to arrive, and he hoped that Jane would feel more at ease now.
When the hug between the two women was complete, Kurt added, in Jane's direction, "There was nothing for me to be busted about, by the way. I wasn't going to say anything else."
"Good to know," Jane said with a smile.
"For your information, I've suddenly discovered that I kind of like playing hooky from work," he said, looking directly into Jane's eyes.
Patterson took a step back, watching the two in fascination. Ever since the party, it was as though every time she saw them, things had changed dramatically. They seemed to be even closer now than when she'd seen them on Wednesday morning, before the explosion. Of course, that day they'd been at work, and had undoubtedly been trying to keep a more professional distance and demeanor because of it. She was dying to ask questions, of one or both of them, but for the time being she held them in, confident that some of them would be answered if she just waited and observed.
Jane was standing closer to Patterson than to Kurt, and she couldn't help but feel like he was a thousand miles away. After all, they hadn't spent a whole lot of time more than a few feet away from each other unless there was a reason that they had to over the past few days – the past week, even – so she felt the distance acutely, especially with Patterson there. Not that Patterson's presence meant that she couldn't go near him. She'd just forgotten how different it was when they weren't by themselves.
The introduction of a third person into the apartment had created an interesting new dynamic, and since they were about to get two more, whenever Reade and Zapata showed up, Kurt was glad that it had been Patterson, the least "threatening" of the three, who had arrived first. Not that any of them were threatening, but despite the blonde's enthusiastic greeting to Jane, he was watching Jane start to look a little too 'deer in headlights' for his taste. He began moving in her direction as they talked, hoping to calm her down before their other guests arrived, and before she got stuck back inside her own head.
Patterson, ever the scientist with an eye for observation, watched with interest as Kurt nonchalantly moved to Jane's side, sliding his arm around her waist as he stood just slightly behind her. She hadn't noticed that Jane looked tense before that, but she seemed to relax as soon as she realized that Kurt was there, glancing at him with what appeared to be a small, grateful smile.
I wonder if she's nervous, Patterson thought, a little bit surprised. But nervous because of us? Realizing that just maybe she was, since the history between the rest of the team and Jane hadn't been as successfully dealt with as that between Jane and Weller. She concluded that that could very well be the problem, and made a mental note to pull Jane aside at some point and make sure the air was clear between the two of them, at least.
Despite the fact that Patterson had been nothing but friendly, and that she'd only been there for a few minutes, Jane could feel her own stress level rising. She had already tried reminding herself that there was no danger, and that if anyone so much as looked at her the wrong way, Kurt would probably have pulled them into another room to deal with them, but it hadn't worked so far. There was no getting around it – she was nervous. When she'd felt Kurt's arm around her waist, therefore, she'd breathed a sigh of relief, feeling herself relaxing against him behind her.
When another knock on the door sounded before any of them could make further conversation, Kurt leaned forward slightly to kiss Jane quickly on the back of the head, a gesture of "it's okay, don't panic," and then let his arm fall from her waist, only to capture her hand in his loosely and bring her along to the door with him.
These two are easily the cutest thing I've ever seen, thought Patterson as she followed behind them back towards the door. Of course, she'd barely seen anything yet.
Outside the door, they found Zapata and Reade, holding several large shopping bags with reinforced handles. "Hey, guys. Whoa, what's all this?" Kurt asked in greeting. There were smiles and greetings all around, between Patterson, Jane, Reade and Zapata as the two new guests came into the entry way, the three others stepping back to make room. Jane felt herself tugged back towards Kurt, which she didn't mind at all, as the room suddenly came alive with conversation.
"Well, Patterson was in charge of shopping for food on Thursday," Zapata replied, "so Reade and I got to handle party snacks. It was only fair."
"Tough job, man, but someone had to do it," added Reade with a grin. Clearly he'd enjoyed his role in this part of the plan.
"Oh yeah?" Kurt asked, attempting to look into the top of one of the bags to peer at the contents. "Got anything good?"
"As if you've been starved the past few days?" Jane asked teasingly. "I feel like we've been eating constantly." She realized too late that she may be inviting a comment about her eating habits, and immediately tensed, clamping her mouth shut.
Kurt, of course, knew what she was talking about. Since they'd done so little over the past few days besides hang out together, the main thing that had marked the passage of time had been their meals. Even if he'd wanted to make a teasing reply to her, which he wouldn't have done on such a sensitive subject, he never would have done so in front of the others, and he noticed immediately when she tensed up.
Squeezing her hand, he replied to the group, "Oh, we've definitely eaten well the past few days, thanks to you guys," and felt her relax once again, leaning against him slightly.
"Well even so, we do, in fact, have something good," Reade replied to Kurt's question as they walked toward the kitchen, setting the shopping bags down on the counter. "Everything I picked is good. I tried to talk Zapata out of a few of the questionable choices she wanted to make, but you know how she is…"
Her hands now free, Zapata slapped him on the arm with the back of her hand. "Hey! I don't make questionable choices. You didn't even know what they were!" she exclaimed, pretending to be offended. Reade backed away several steps, his hands in the air in front of him, laughing.
"Easy, Zapata. I'm sorry, I'm not as cultured and obviously classy as you," he said sarcastically, rolling his eyes with a grin on his face.
"Damn right," she retorted under her breath, unable to control her laughter anymore.
All three new arrivals had begun to shed their coats, and Jane was quick to collect them, giving Kurt the evil eye when he tried to take them from her. "Not even coats?" he asked in exasperation as she walked toward the guest room with them to lay them on the unused bed in there.
"Go have a seat, everyone," Jane called, "Kurt especially, since you're supposed to be resting." She saw him roll his eyes at her as she walked into the other room, but she also saw the smile on his face that said that he liked that she was still taking care of him, even with everyone around. She ignored the grins from the rest of the team at their exchange, knowing the two of them were being scrutinized, but telling herself that her team was doing it with love. Once inside the guest room, however she took several deep breaths for good measure.
In the minute that Jane was out of the room, Kurt felt their questioning stares on him, but he said nothing, just smiled. Instead, walking to sit down in one of the dining room chairs as he'd been instructed, along with Reade, who'd followed him to the table, Kurt glanced toward the door through which Jane had disappeared. Patterson and Zapata were still standing at the kitchen counter, overlooking the dining room, and they elbowed each other, watching their boss looking for Jane and not even realizing it. The man was clearly in love – which, of course, they'd already known, but it was fun to see the evidence. In all the time they'd known him, they'd never seen anything like the way he acted with Jane, and it was even more blatant now that he had finally realized how he felt about her.
Of course, they'd known that he was in love with her a long time ago, before so many different tragedies, but this was different. And it could have had something to do with the fact that this was his home, and they weren't at work, but, unlike the time Zapata had confronted him about his feelings for Jane in the backwoods of Michigan, this time he knew exactly how he felt about her. It had only taken a few seconds of seeing them together for this to be pretty clear.
The two women began unpacking the food, talking quietly while they did so and taking plates out of the cupboards to use as serving dishes, warming up several of them as necessary and basically lining the counter with food. Jane had slipped into the room behind them to see if they needed help, but stood behind them, watching, not wanting to interrupt and just generally feeling unnecessary, and unsure of whether to break into their conversation. When they saw her there, after only a few seconds, they both took a step back and made space between them, immediately pulling her into their light banter as they got the food ready.
Jane's eyes felt as though they were going to pop out of her head at the sight of all the food – all snacks – that Zapata and Reade had brought. There were mini-quiches, mozzarella sticks, egg rolls, plates of fruits and bite sized vegetable pieces, and one that Jane didn't recognize. "Lobster nachos," Zapata said when she saw Jane eyeing it curiously. Jane was fairly sure that there was no way they were ever going to eat it all. She turned around to take out small plates for everyone to use with all the snacks that were now set out across the bar style counter, facing the dining room, needing to look away from all that food, just for a second. Setting the stack of plates at one end of the counter, she looked over at Kurt. He was seated, as she had requested, and was in the midst of talking to Reade beside him. Once again, she felt a pang at the fact that at least in her mind, he was so far away, even though she was looking right at him from across the room.
Things were settling down in the kitchen now that the food was mostly all on serving plates, and Zapata was pulling out the contents of the second, reinforced, shopping bag – which Jane could now see was beer. Zapata took three, then did a round through the dining room, handing them to Reade and Patterson and then pretending she was going to hand one to Kurt, but pulling it back at the last second.
"Oh! Sorry boss, I don't think so," she said. "Pain meds and alcohol are a no no."
Kurt made a frustrated face, shaking his head in disappointment at Zapata before looking over at Jane, who was the only one still in the kitchen. Speaking of those drugs that he so wanted to wean himself off of, but was taking grudgingly thanks to Jane, it was about time for another dose, and Zapata had just provided a good reminder. Jane filled a glass three quarters of the way full with water and added a few ice cubes, then shook one of his pills into her hand, walking around the counter to set the glass on the table in front of him. She held her hand over his until his palm was open, then released her fingers only slowly to let the pill fall into his hand, letting them drag more slowly than necessary out across his palm and looking at him apologetically for giving him medication instead of beer, as the rest of the team made comments that ranged from actual sympathy to teasing.
Not knowing what else to do since there were no more chairs at the table, and having completed the task that she'd walked into the room to do, Jane began to walk back to the kitchen. Since there were only four chairs, remaining there beside the others would only serve to make it more obvious that there wasn't one for her. No one needed to fuss over her. In fact, she actively wanted to avoid having anyone do so. Even though she knew that it was silly, that it didn't matter if she had a chair or not, and that surely she could have gotten herself a chair (Is there another chair anywhere in this apartment? She couldn't remember just then), her heart hammered in her chest. Logic apparently was playing no part in her behavior.
"Oh! Jane! Let me grab you a beer," Zapata cried, already halfway out of her seat before Jane had a chance to react.
"What? Oh, no, you don't have to do that, Zapata. I'm fine, I don't really—" Jane fumbled with words awkwardly, trying to get Zapata to stop and sit back down. She didn't need to go to any trouble for her. After all, Jane could have easily gotten it herself. And besides, really, it wasn't a big deal. The last time the team had gone out for a drink, they hadn't even bothered to invite her. For some reason, that was what the sight of beer bottles was reminding her of just then.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Kurt's voice, cutting through the noise of both her disorganized and increasingly panicky thoughts and the words that were tumbling out of her mouth so desperately and so haphazardly.
"Jane, have a beer. I'm the only one on pain meds here. Everyone else should drink," he called across the room. Her eyes met his, and he saw the nervousness in them.
Knowing that Kurt wasn't fooled for a second, but doing it for the benefit of the rest of the room, she rolled her eyes and tried to smile. With a shrug she acquiesced as Zapata, who had already opened another beer, pressed it into her hand. "Okay, okay, thanks, Zapata," she murmured, putting it down on the counter without taking a drink. Her stomach was more than a little unsteady just then, and the thought of the beer in front of her was actually making her a little nauseous. Or maybe it was just the fact that her stomach felt queasy to the point where it might digest itself because of how anxious she suddenly was in the midst of this gathering in general. She forced herself to smile harder, and pretended that she was looking for something as an excuse to duck her head and look away from the others.
Everyone but Jane now had a plate filled with various foods from the display on the bar, as well as a drink, on the table in front of them. Jane, back in the kitchen, had run out of things to pretend to do, and while the others were talking animatedly in the other room, she knew that at some point, the fact that she was not amongst them would become the focus of the conversation. She was breathing faster, and she just needed a minute to somehow convince herself to calm down. If she'd been able to sit down beside Kurt, that may have done the trick, but seeing as there was no chair… Hoping against hope that she could slip into the bedroom without being noticed, she moved with purpose in that direction, leaving her beer untouched on the counter.
Despite the fact that she closed the door quietly, her exit was noticed immediately. After all, the team was extremely interested in the interaction between the Jane and their boss, and it wasn't as though there were that many people there. Despite the fact that Jane and Kurt hadn't even been near each other in the past few minutes, all you had to do was watch one of them to notice how often they looked back at the other. It happened every few minutes, if not more often.
"Is she okay?" Patterson asked, concerned. "Do you want me to go talk to her?"
Kurt shook his head. He hesitated to comment about Jane to the others, not wanting to betray her confidence, but he was fairly sure he wasn't telling them anything that couldn't be relatively easily deduced when he said quietly, "She's… just a little nervous. It's okay, I got it." As well-meaning as he knew that Patterson, and indeed the rest of the team, was, he also knew that he had the best chance of calming her down.
He stood up slowly, already feeling less achy after having the latest dose of his meds – or maybe that was just psychological. "Hey, Reade, can you grab the chair from the desk in the guest room? I should have thought of that before," he said, pointing to the door across the room before leaving the circle of chairs.
Dammit, Weller, of course she panicked, he thought to himself. She doesn't dare to think of herself as part of the groups as it is, and then she was the one left standing. And no, not having a chair isn't the end of the world, but she's more than a little sensitive right now. He wanted to kick himself for not being more aware of his surroundings.
"Sure, no problem," Reade said, already out of his chair. He'd been ready to surrender his chair to Jane anyway, when she'd darted out of the kitchen.
Kurt opened the door to his bedroom, closing it quietly behind him, and saw Jane standing there, facing away from him, her shoulders heaving slowly up and down. At first he wondered if she was crying. "Hey, you okay?" he asked softly. He hadn't expected her to turn around, but she did, and he saw that she wasn't crying, just breathing harder than usual, nodding determinedly but looking anything but okay. Smiling sympathetically, he took three steps forward and was squarely inside her personal space, his arms wrapping around her and holding on as he felt her begin to relax, her arms moving slowly around the middle of his back as well.
"You're doing great," he told her. He felt her shake her head, since he had pulled her close enough that he couldn't see her and her head was beside his, her temple leaned against his cheek. "You are," he said, turning his head slightly so that he could kiss her cheek, then lean his own scruffy cheek against it. "Don't overthink it, okay. It's just a few hours of socializing and then, like I told you before, they go home, and we stay right here. Alright?"
He felt her nod against him that time, though she still didn't say anything. Slowly, she was beginning to relax, but she seemed to have gotten herself pretty worked up in that short time, so she still had a ways to go. "Ssshhh, come on," she told her soothingly. "You don't have to take a plate of food. Just sit by me and steal one or two things off of my plate. Not only will it look cute, and you don't have the pressure of finishing anything, okay? Have a beer, or, if you're not up for it, sit with a beer in front of you and pretend to drink it, or drink water. It doesn't matter. No one is here to give you a hard time. You know how they are. We all tease each other because we're family."
She tensed again, and he knew that he'd struck a nerve. When she finally spoke, her voice sounded almost haunted. "I used to be," she said, and he felt his heart break for her.
But Jane needed his reassurance, so he pushed aside any doubts about how he should have done things better that tried to creep into his mind. "You are part of this family, Jane. Family doesn't always mean things are easy, but in the end, we work it out. If anyone knows that, it's the two of us…" He paused, thinking about how very true that was. His father was a murderer and her mother was a terrorist. Perfect examples of how not easy family could be. "None of it has been easy… I know. Least of all things between the two of us, right? But here we are." She tried to smile then, but it came off as more of a grimace, so she just nodded, not trusting her voice just then.
No, things have certainly never been easy… she thought. With the exception of maybe the past few days, which have been easier, though still not quite easy… Though, then again, easy would probably scare me… She sighed heavily in frustration with herself and tried to focus on just leaning against Kurt. Everything felt better when she just focused on him.
He leaned back slowly so that he could look in her eyes. He was determined to make her understand how serious he was about what he was saying. "They're not here to judge you, Jane. Every single one of us made mistakes this year, and we know that. I think we all just want another chance… To do things right." He didn't often try to speak on behalf of other people, but he knew his team well enough to know that he was speaking the truth. He thought that she must know it, too, deep down… She was probably just afraid to believe it, and he certainly didn't blame her for that. "I know that I do," he added quietly.
He watched as a pained smile flitted across her face, and was concerned to see her eyes looking suspiciously watery. She was staring off somewhere, not meeting his eyes.
"Come back to the party with me," he urged her softly. "Please…"
He felt her shift then, seeming to relax slightly. There was a hint of a smile on her face, and she finally looked back at him. When their eyes met, he saw her smiling genuinely for the first time since he'd come into the bedroom after her. "I'm feeling a little bit of déjà vu," she replied quietly.
Realizing that she was right, he chuckled. The same thing had happened just over a week ago, when he'd sat with her in the stairwell at the office, urging her to come back to the holiday party with him. "Well, if it helps, I think that you were glad you did come back to the party with me last time," he said with a grin.
Her smile grew across her face then. "I was," she said, feeling calmer, "and I am. Very glad." She leaned forward to rest her forehead against his face, and he kissed her directly in the center of it.
"I love you," he told her softly. She breathed in deeply, as if she could inhale his words and keep them more securely somehow. If it had been possible, she would have done just that.
"I love you," she said insistently, turning her head slightly as he leaned his face against her to kiss her temple. "We should get back to our guests."
"We should," he agreed. "Are you okay?"
"Better now," she replied. When he leaned back far enough to focus on her once again, he saw that she looked better.
"Come and sit by me, alright? I asked Reade to get the desk chair out of the guest room, so we have enough. I want you close to me. Like I said before, you can steal my food and we'll look cute, and make them all roll their eyes at us and want to throw up, all while wishing they could be as adorable as we are. Please?" He looked at her with his puppy dog eyed expression, not looking away.
"How could I possibly say no to that?" she asked, leaning forward once more, this time to kiss him. Quickly, though, because they had guests waiting for them. He let his arms fall reluctantly, but took her right hand in his left, lacing their fingers together and holding on tightly.
"There," he said, "no slipping away now."
"Good," she replied, finally feeling calm again and following him toward the door.
She was afraid that all eyes would be on them as they emerged from the bedroom, but instead, the other three were involved in some sort of heated debate about the futility of making New Year's Resolutions. Zapata was insisting that it was pointless, since "everyone breaks them in a week, anyway." Patterson, ever the optimist, on the other hand, was trying to convince her that it was better to at least try to improve yourself, even if you didn't succeed. The look on Reade's face told them that he was doing his best to stay out of the argument, which was very normal behavior for him when the other two women were arguing.
Kurt sat down in the chair where he'd been before, noticing that Reade had pulled up his chair right beside Kurt's, so that the edges were touching, taking the desk chair for himself a few feet away. Smiling as he watched Jane sit down, a nervous smile on her face, Kurt glanced at Reade and nodded his thanks. Reade returned the nod, glancing at Jane and smiling. There was a lot of glancing and smiling happening at the table in those few seconds, before the discussion resumed. That was when Patterson asked Kurt his opinion about New Year's resolutions.
Jane's chair was as close to Kurt's as it could get, but he still regretted the fact that they weren't on the couch, so that he could reach her more easily. Still, he stretched his arm out as he made a thoughtful face, his arm bent at an angle that allowed his hand to land on Jane's shoulder, his fingers trailing lazily and making shapes on the cotton of her shirt.
"I think it's good to make New Year's Resolutions," he said slowly. "It can't hurt, right? And you may fail on January second, but so what? There's nothing that says that you can't keep trying. There's nothing to lose."
"So does that mean you have a New Year's Resolution for next year?" Patterson asked with interest.
"There are a lot of things I plan to do differently this year, that's for sure," he said seriously, but did not elaborate. Then, turning to Zapata, he turned the conversation away from himself by asking, "What about you, Zapata? Are you against New Year's resolutions because you're bad at keeping them, or what?"
The room erupted in a chorus of noise as everyone reacted to Kurt's friendly taunting with laughter and either support or protest. Kurt squeezed his hand on Jane's shoulder, and they glanced at each other, glad to have the conversation have continued on around them. She looked at the plate that sat in front of him, which someone had thoughtfully refilled while they were out of the room, reaching up to snag a bite sized pastry.
She took a small bite of it, despite how small it was to start with, then glanced at Kurt. He was looking at her fondly, smiling his encouragement. Feeling warmth inside her just from seeing his smile, she couldn't help but smile back at him in response, only then tasting what was in her mouth and deciding that she liked it.
Conversation continued easily, and Jane eventually sipped slowly from her beer, which had been moved to her place in her absence. The rest of the team were easily on their third or fourth, probably even more than that, which meant that they were reaching the part of the evening where they were even more entertaining and relaxed than usual. Jane wondered curiously how much Zapata had had to drink at the Christmas party, and if she would end up that drunk again.
Glancing at the clock, she saw that it was nearing 11:00 pm already. Somehow she'd lost track of time to the point that midnight was actually relatively soon. She was both looking forward the pinnacle of festivities, not having ever done the whole countdown to midnight thing with a group of people, and also to the whole party being over. Not that she hated having them there… she was feeling better about it all, preferring just to listen and offer only the occasional comment. However, it would also be nice when they were gone and it was just herself and Kurt again.
Patterson got up to gather the empty bottles from the table, since it was getting crowded, and Jane decided to help her. After all, she didn't want to let the evening go by without getting a chance to talk to her away from the rest of the group. Though she looked surprised, Patterson smiled at Jane when she saw that she intended to help with clear things up. Kurt also looked surprised when she stood, but Jane smiled back at him reassuringly, and he pulled his arm back from her shoulder up to the edge of his chair. While he continued to make small talk with Reade and Zapata, who were unfazed by the departure of the other two, he watched curiously to see what she was up to.
In the kitchen, Jane set down the bottles she was holding, opening the small pantry and taking out a cloth bag that they could use to contain the recycling until they could take it out. Together, they set the bottles inside the bag carefully, laying them down so that they were least likely to fall against each other loudly, or even worse, to break. Jane set the bag on the floor by the end of the counter, out of the way of the walkway.
"Thanks, Jane," Patterson said with a smile.
Before she had a chance to walk away, Jane cleared her throat. "Hey, uh, Patterson?" she said quietly, glancing at the floor and then back up at the other woman awkwardly. When she looked up, she saw that Patterson was looking back at her curiously.
"What's up?" Patterson asked. Jane looked nervous, and she was determined to try and put her at ease. Without ever intending to, Patterson knew that she had actively contributed to making things difficult for Jane simply by not being a better friend to her over the last few months. Not that it excused her behavior, but when she'd been at her most desperate over everything that had been happening in her own life earlier that month, Patterson had failed to see just how desperate Jane had been, as well. Now she wanted to do whatever she could to help mend things between them.
"I just wanted to say…" Jane started nervously, taking a breath and looking back up at her. "I wanted to say thank you for planning that party last week. Everything good that has happened to me in the past week has happened because of that night. So if not for you…" Jane's voice trailed off, and she could feel tears pricking the corners of her eyes. "Well, I don't like to think where I'd be if not for that night. No, I guess I know where I'd be, literally anyway. Most likely, I'd be at my place, by myself, right now."
Patterson, who had always been emotional, was moved by Jane's words, and was even closer to tears than Jane was. Momentarily speechless, she took a few steps forward, her arms already out, and hugged Jane tightly – much to Jane's surprise.
"I'm sorry, Jane. About all of it. I'm so glad that something that seemed so inconsequential at the time could bring our team back together, because I feel like it has… And after everything we put you through, I wish I'd realized sooner…" Patterson knew that she was crying, and the alcohol she'd already drank certainly wasn't helping, since she was always quick to tear up anyway… but she meant every word she'd said. She actually felt guilty for the fact that Jane was thanking her at all.
Jane shook her head, now hugging Patterson back. A minute later when they stepped back into their own spaces, they both chuckled as they looked at each other, teary eyed but smiling. "Kurt and I had a conversation like this. Or, a bunch of them, actually." Jane exhaled heavily, trying to figure out how to summarize what they'd said all those days ago. "Basically what it came down to was… we both made mistakes. If we could go back, we'd change them, but we can't. There's nothing we can do but agree to do better, because neither of us wanted to lose what we had… before it all went wrong."
Nodding silently, Patterson understood why Weller and Jane seemed to be in such a good place. They'd clearly talked things through. "I feel the same way, Jane," Patterson said, meeting her eyes seriously. "I hope you can forgive me."
But Jane just shook her head. "Don't even think like that, Patterson. You don't owe me anything. If anything, it's exactly the opposite. I'm the one who—"
"I'm missed you," Patterson said, cutting her off. "Were you this stubborn with Weller, too?" she asked with a grin.
Jane smiled suddenly at being called out. She was doing it again, and she knew it. Putting it all on herself. "Oh, so much worse, you have no idea… he'll tell you…" She tilted her head toward Kurt and shook her head at herself, able to think objectively about her behavior now. "I'm working on it, though." She glanced over at him, and he happened to look up at her at that moment. Their eyes locked for a second, and they shared a small smile. Patterson watched the exchange, and couldn't help but smile, too. It was contagious.
When Jane looked back at her, she saw Patterson beaming. "You guys are so cute," the blonde told her. "And it's about time things worked out for you. If anyone deserves happiness, it's the two of you."
"Thanks, Patterson," Jane said softly, with a self-conscious smile.
"So, who needs another beer?" Patterson called to the crowd in the dining room. Reade and Zapata both raised their hands, as did Kurt, grinning. "Nice try, Weller. Not this time, unfortunately."
"You're fired," Kurt yelled, and everyone laughed, Zapata being the loudest.
"How many has she had?" Jane asked Patterson quietly.
"I'm not sure," Patterson replied. "Hopefully not as many as at the party last week… though she was hilarious that night."
Jane blushed just thinking about the things Zapata had said to her and Kurt that night. "She was," Jane agreed. Picking up extra beers for Reade and Zapata, Jane and Patterson headed back to the table, Patterson with another beer for herself as well. Jane set a beer in front of Reade, and Patterson handed one to Zapata, before they each headed for the own chairs. Before she sat down, Jane passed behind Kurt's chair, pausing behind him for a second and laying her hand on his shoulder.
Kurt turned his head towards her the best he could, only sort of able to see her, and Jane was reminded that he couldn't really turn around. She took a step back toward the far side of him, her hand still on his shoulder. Now he looked up at her and he could see her. She could see the question in his eyes, and she just smiled in response, nodding slightly. Trailing her hand across his shoulders, she was about to go back to her chair when Kurt spoke up.
"If we want to see the New Year's festivities on TV, we should move over to the couch," he told the group. "We may need to pull over a few more chairs, though, or it may be a little too cozy." Everyone began standing up, and Jane just stood and waited while Kurt slowly pulled himself up from his chair as well. Zapata and Reade both brought their chairs over to the TV area, while Patterson, the first one to the couch, turned on the TV.
"Hey… everything okay?" Kurt asked her softly, finally on his feet in front of her and stepping forward to wind one arm around her waist, leaning down toward her face.
"Yeah," Jane said, equally quietly, "We had a good talk."
"Good," he replied simply, kissing her on the forehead, then looking down at her curiously for how she would respond to his display of affection in front of the others. The smile on her face could have lit up the room all by itself, it was so bright, and her cheeks turned slightly pink. "Come on," he told her, tugging her by the hand once again, this time toward the couch, "Let's go watch the crazy people out in Times Square on TV."
Every time he said the words Times Square, she felt a chill run down her spine. She'd been there since that night she'd arrived there in a bag, of course, mainly walking through it when they were on a case. Lots of people associated it with New Year's or just sightseeing, but it would never be that simple for her.
They turned slowly and walked toward the others, who were, of course, watching them intently, all with varying degrees of gleeful smiles on their faces. Zapata looked elated, and Jane wondered again how much she'd had to drink, and whether she'd reached the stage where she was bluntly honest. Jane stood and waited while Kurt settled himself on the couch, slowly and carefully, and then sat herself beside him, against the right arm, leaning her head on his shoulder and glancing past him at the others.
Just as she looked away, she felt his arm scoop under her knees, lifting her legs over his and setting them down so they sat diagonally across his lap. Looking back at him in surprise, she heard the others buzzing excitedly. Now her cheeks really did heat up, and she was convinced that they must be bright red.
"Okay I'll say it, you guys are ridiculous," Zapata blurted out.
Reade wheeled around in her direction immediately, exclaiming, "Zapata!"
She rolled her eyes dramatically, then corrected herself. "Relax, Reade, you know what I meant. I mean…" Looking momentarily confused, she shook her head and seemed to clear her thoughts. "Okay, let me try again," she said, "Jane, Weller, you guys are ridiculously adorable. We're all simultaneously jealous and nauseated. Seriously. Just stop being so damn cute." With that, Zapata began cackling at herself, while Reade just put his hand over his face and shook his head at his partner.
Patterson looked at a very embarrassed Jane, and hoped to ease her embarrassment when she said, "Well, I guess that answers our earlierquestion, right Jane…?" She was referring, of course, to their curiosity over how much Zapata had had to drink. The answer was: approximately as much as at the holiday party, and enough to make her say things that she would definitely never have said otherwise.
Jane was thankful for the levity that came from Patterson's comment. She knew that the other's teasing was good-natured, and really, she didn't mind. After all, she was quite comfortable with her legs across his lap, and she was just happy to be there, with the group of them, Kurt especially. It was a little bit awkward, but less so than she'd been afraid it would be, and the alcohol had helped everyone relax. Kurt nudged her in the side, pointing at the TV. They were showing the giant, sparkling ball that would drop at midnight, and then panning across the crowd that filled what looked like every conceivable inch of Times Square.
"Wow," Jane said in awe, her eyes wide. Then, looking at the others, who were enjoying watching her reaction, she asked, "Have any of you been to Times Square for New Year's Eve?"
"Once," said Zapata, obviously now trying hard to be serious. "But let's just say, it… ended badly. Never again." After that she clamped her mouth shut, looking slightly mortified but unwilling to say any more, no matter how the others begged.
Kurt reached down and took Jane's hand, giving it a squeeze as Patterson began speaking. "I used to go every year, with friends, when I first moved here," she said. "It's usually really, really cold, and it sucks if you have to pee, but it's unlike anything else. The energy is just… amazing."
"What made you stop going?" Jane asked curiously. Patterson's face morphed into a grimace, and it appeared that she was trying very hard to keep her face from falling.
"Well, the, uh, friends that I went with… There was a group of us, and one by one, they sort of drifted apart. Got married, had kids… you know… just…" She shrugged, suddenly feeling the loss that she'd suffered when David had been killed acutely, as if it was stabbing her in the heart. "You know, life happened, I guess. To them, anyway." David would have gone with me, if he was here, she couldn't help but think.
"Patterson, I'm dying to go. Can we plan on going next year? Please?" Jane asked her sincerely, seeing that the blonde was suddenly almost in tears.
"I'd love that," she answered softly, wiping a stray tear from the corner of her eye. Then, feeling bolstered by Jane's support, she sat up a little straighter. "Are you in on this, or what, Weller?" Patterson asked curiously. Jane hadn't mentioned him in this plan one way or the other.
"We talked about it earlier. I'm not opposed to the idea, though I don't think I put it on my calendar yet…" he replied.
"You have a calendar?" Jane asked teasingly, sitting up straighter to look around his apartment. "Where?"
"I'm the Assistant Director of the FBI," Kurt said, puffing out his chest in mock indignation, "of course I have a calendar."
Zapata, for whatever reason, collapsed in a helpless peal of laughter then, laughing so hard that she fell off her chair. She'd been quiet for a minute, and they'd forgotten just how intoxicated she apparently was until she landed on the floor. The others couldn't help but laugh too, and Reade stood up to help her up, though she insisted that she was "absolutely fine, I don't need any help, dammit!" Raising his hands defensively in front of him, he sat back down, leaving her to her own devices to get off the floor, as instructed. It took several tries, since she was still laughing, but eventually Zapata ended up back in her chair, tucking her hair behind her ears as if nothing had ever happened, and glaring slightly at Reade, who was still grinning at her.
"Anyway," Jane said, trying to segway the discussion back to the point at which it had derailed by Zapata's spectacular fall, "Reade, have you ever gone to Times Square for New Years?"
"A couple times," he said with a shrug, "It was cold. I was hungry. People were stupid... and the crowds…" He rolled his eyes. "Trying to move in any direction was ridiculous. I don't know, it wasn't really my scene."
Jane nodded, thinking that it sounded reasonable. "Fair enough," she said. Glancing up at the TV, she saw that the display at the bottom of the screen said that there were sixteen minutes until midnight. How had the time suddenly gone so quickly that evening?
Happy to let the conversation move on without her, she tuned out slightly as the group chatted on, leaning against Kurt, her head once again on his shoulder. They'd been going to bed early all week, in an attempt to keep Kurt's recovery on track, and she was beginning to feel the lateness of the hour, despite having had two naps herself that day. She felt herself almost drifting off when his voice cut through her thoughts, which had been growing ever fuzzier.
"Hey," he whispered. "You awake over there?" She hadn't even realized that her eyes had closed until she was opening them, yawning slightly.
"Sorry," she said, opening her eyes wide to try to wake herself back up. "Thanks for waking me up… I didn't want to miss it."
"I know," he told her with a smile. "But before that, I need you to come with me for a second."
"Where?" she asked.
"In the other room," he told her calmly. "We have just enough time, and we'll be back before the ball drops at midnight, I promise."
Looking at him curiously, she shook her head slowly at his mysterious request as she pulled her legs back off of his lap and stood up, slowly, feeling a little stiff. Once she was up, he pushed himself up as well, to the surprise of the other three people in the room.
"Where're you guys going?" asked Zapata suggestively, raising her eyebrows so high and tilting her head to the side to the point that she almost knocked herself off balance again, catching herself just in time and then cackling with laughter once again.
"We'll be right back, don't worry," Kurt assured them. "I've got a close eye on the time."
They watched the two of them leave the room together, Kurt tugging gently on Jane's hand. Patterson was biting her lip without even realizing it, shaking her head at just how cute their two friends were.
"You okay, Patterson?" Reade asked as Jane and Kurt disappeared through a door at the far end of the apartment.
"Yeah," she replied, still watching the door they'd disappeared through. "They're just so… perfect for each other."
"That they are," Reade agreed. "A little bit disgustingly so, but that's a good thing, I guess."
"What are we doing in here?" Jane asked, confused, as Kurt walked into his bedroom behind her and closed the door. Despite just having woken up from her tiny accidental nap, she was a little bit giddy with anticipation over the impending ball drop, and she wasn't sure whether she was relieved to be away from the frenzy of conversation in the next room or if she wanted to be a part of it.
"I'll share you with them for the last thirty seconds of this year," he told her. "But I get you to myself for the four and a half minutes before that." She couldn't help but smile at him, because really… his sweetness constantly surprised her. Not because she didn't think he was sweet, because she did. The surprise was that more and more over the past nine days, he directed it at her so openly. Before everything had happened, he'd always held back just enough that she never knew quite where she stood with him, or how he'd felt about her. Now, on the other hand… well, there was no more confusion.
"Dance with me?" he asked, pressing a button on his phone, which sat on his dresser, and then stepping towards her where she stood. She took a step and met him halfway, draping her arms over his shoulders as he wrapped his around her waist. A softly strumming guitar began playing from the small device, and a smooth voice began to sing only seconds later.
"Steal my heart and hold my tongue
I feel my time, my time has come
Let me in, unlock the door
I've never felt this way before…"
Jane didn't know the song, unsurprisingly. She had long been used to the fact that she never knew the song, had never seen the TV show or the movie… Never tried the food, never played the game… Never visited this or that place, never heard of that celebrity… No matter what people were talking about, she was almost sure to be unfamiliar with it. It was exhausting, and could be more than a little disheartening. She'd given up long ago trying to keep up with what other people knew or had tried. It was simply impossible.
Instead, she had decided to focus on what she did know. It might not have been much, but these memories belonged to her. Not Alice, not Remi, not Taylor. Jane. Now, as she listened to the words of the song, she already had chills.
"And the wheels just keep on turning
The drummer begins to drum
I don't know which way I'm going
I don't know which way I've come…"
If there was anything that Jane could relate to, it was uncertainty. Though she'd slowly pieced some of it together, not knowing where she'd come from or where she was going were high on the list of the many different kinds of uncertainty in her life. She'd always been lost, it was just a matter of how lost. And yet when the singer sang about it, somehow being lost didn't sound bad at all. It sounded almost… exciting. She only wished that she could feel that way about her own life, but for the most part, exciting had always been the wrong word. While yes, many people would probably have thought that working for the FBI, catching the bad guys for a living was pretty exciting… it wasn't something that Jane had had the chance to choose. She couldn't exactly say that it was boring, and doing it did give her life purpose, a reason to get up in the morning…
But after everything she'd been through, what Jane would not have given for an un-exciting life – maybe not all the time, but at least a little bit of it… a family of her own, one not composed of terrorists. A purpose, yes, but maybe not always having her life and the lives of those she cared about constantly in jeopardy…
You could still have that, she thought. You've got a pretty good candidate standing right in front of you. And you can't possibly doubt that he'd want that with you, too. Looking back up into his eyes, she couldn't help but smile uncertainly.
It's been nine days… she reminded herself. How can I be so presumptuous?
Because you know, the voice in her head told her. Even if you don't want to admit it to yourself.
"Hold my head inside your hands
I need someone who understands
I need someone, someone who hears
For you, I've waited all these years…"
Kurt was staring at her intently, trying to memorize everything about that moment. There were so many things swirling in her eyes, as she looked off into the distance. When he pulled her tighter, letting the fingers on his right hand trace halfway up the middle of her back gently, and then back down again, she focused on him immediately with a smile. He obviously knew the song, because when the next few lines of the song played from the speaker, she found that he was signing along in a whisper.
"For you I'd wait 'til kingdom come
Until my day, my day is done
And say you'll come and set me free
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me…"
While the whole song was nearly perfect, those four lines had been the ones that resonated with him the most. Because really, now that everything had unfolded the way it had, he would have done anything, waited any amount of time for her… Hadn't he done that without even knowing it, really? All his adult life he'd been, as he'd once called it, "too choosy," until Jane had appeared in his life. All of a sudden, he'd opened up to her like he never had with anyone before, even if he hadn't realized he was doing it, and even if it wasn't always in words. It had taken him what felt like an eternity, but he finally understood. For him, there was only Jane.
"…In your tears and in your blood
In your fire and in your flood
I hear you laugh, I heard you sing
I wouldn't change a single thing…"
Thinking of tears, blood and fire, she couldn't help but think somewhat ruefully that those three things seemed to sum up far too much of her life so far. But then, just like the song said, and the same way she'd told Kurt, she wouldn't change any of it. There were plenty of things that she would happily never think about again if given the choice, but instead of focusing on what she was not going to think of, it made more sense to focus on what she did want to think of – which was moments like this, when she was happy. After all, if all of the rest of it was the price of being there, at that moment, then so be it. She only wished that she'd known along the way that it would have ended up being worth it – the journey would have been far less painful.
It doesn't work that way, the voice in her head told her. And really, in a way, isn't this that much sweeter because you didn't know?
For the rest of the song, they both simply held onto each other, reliving only the good parts of the past nine days, since the last time since they'd danced. In some ways, it felt like a different lifetime, and in other ways, it felt like only minutes ago. Jane's temple leaned gently against the scruff of his cheek, which had become a familiar resting place for her face over the past week. She wasn't even sure how long it had been there, because it seemed that her temple had simply gravitated to the side of his face as if pulled by magnetic force.
"…And the wheels just keep on turning
The drummers begin to drum
I don't know which way I'm going
I don't know what I'll become
For you I'd wait 'til kingdom come
Until my days, my days are done
And say you'll come and set me free
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me…"
The song ended, and he turned his head, leaning down to kiss her for a few seconds before leaning back. "Come on," he said, "It's almost midnight." With that, he took her hand and once again, tugged her along with him back out of the bedroom. The others were looked excitedly at the TV, appearing to have gotten refills on both food and beers in Jane and Kurt's absence.
"Okay, you guys," Patterson said seriously, "since three out of five of us have agreed on not kissing anyone at midnight," she looked from Zapata to Reade, who both nodded, slightly wide eyed in discomfort at the mere suggestion, and then back at Jane and Kurt, "we're doing a selfie of our group at midnight instead. I don't think we have a single picture of the five of us, and I don't care if it's cheesy, I want one. So everyone has to get together on the couch. Come on! We have about twenty seconds left!"
Jane and Kurt smiled, moving across the room to the open section in the middle of the couch that the others had left them. Reade and Zapata were already sitting up on the back edge, behind them, and once Jane and Kurt sat down, Patterson came over and knelt on the floor in the space between Jane's left leg and Kurt's right. "Sorry, guys, you know I would never come between you two," she said over her shoulder, grinning.
"Haha," Jane said, grinning back at her as Patterson turned her phone around and they all tried to squeeze into the frame of the picture. Jane glanced past Patterson at the TV, where the crowd had already begun counting down the last minute before midnight. She felt Kurt's arm around her, pulling her closer, as the people who she cared about most in the world, despite a healthy dose of misunderstandings, squeezed their faces as close together as they could get. As those last seconds of the year ticked away, she couldn't help but flash back to so many other times.
That year had been both heaven and hell, as well as what felt like every possible part of the spectrum in between the two poles. It seemed impossible to say whether the year had been good or bad. On one hand, she would do anything not to repeat it, and on another… she wouldn't have traded it for anything – though she could admit that most of the "wouldn't trade it" part was the very end of it. Still, without the parts that hurt, she would certainly not have ended up where she was at that moment. She'd thought it to herself over and over in the past few days, but unlike most people, who've had time to think about such a thing throughout their lives, it was a new concept to her, and therefore felt like a major realization.
She felt a slight pain in her chest, but she couldn't figure out whether it was happy or sad. After all, the images flashing before her eyes held some of both. Mayfair. Roman. Shepherd. Oscar. Carter. Markos. Cade. Times Square. Days and nights spent in the office, in the field, in the car, even on the subway, which she'd been riding alone when she should have been at home in her safe house.
And wedged in one way or another inside every single one of those memories was Kurt. She didn't know what she would have done had she not ended up here, in this moment. It seemed silly now, that she had thought that she could move past her feelings for him, that she could be with anyone else. After all, in the end, it was always Kurt.
The seconds seemed to tick down faster and faster, as Patterson perfected her aim and they all made faces at themselves in the screen of her phone. Jane felt a buzzing in her head, a combination of the anticipation of the moment when this year that literally encompassed almost her entire memory, for better and for worse, would end. So much had changed. And yet, in the end, the most important thing never had, despite what she had thought.
TEN! they shouted together.
Catching sight of a glint of light in the screen, Jane realized that the shiny disc around her neck was reflecting off of a light somewhere in the room. She reached her right hand, the one Kurt was not holding, up to press her thumb and her index finger against either side of it, feeling emotion seem to flow from the smooth surface into her fingers. It held so many memories, both good and bad.
Jane looked at each of them, these people that were her family now, wondering how it was possible. After everything they'd been through, everything they'd put each other through, how had they ended up back here, together?
She was overwhelmed, Kurt could see, and he squeezed her hand, feeling her squeeze right back. He'd had so many worries, so many doubts, and yet, suddenly it all seemed so simple. He felt an unexpected rush of gratitude for the fact that he'd been so "choosy," that no one else had ever seemed right for him. Now he understood why.
Jane exhaled with effort, feeling her breath catch in her throat unexpectedly. She hadn't known her thoughts could race this fast, and it was almost making her dizzy. The good and the bad, it was all flashing behind her eyes at lightning speed.
Kurt nudged her in the side, causing her to turn and look at him. Up, into his eyes, those pools of blue in which she always lost herself. The tip of his nose touched hers, and she ceased to see the screen of Patterson's phone, which was now to her right. She ceased to see anything, except the blue of Kurt's eyes in front of her.
At that last second of the year, one second before Patterson took their selfie, Kurt leaned forward the last fraction of an inch toward Jane and kissed her. He took pity on their friends whose faces were inches away from them, keeping the kiss relatively innocent, but making sure that it lasted from the last second of one year into the first few seconds of the next, so that it was both the last memory they had of that year during which things had both gone so wrong, as well as the first memory of the year that would hopefully be infinitely better. That was the best way he could think of to both end and start a year.
At the same second, somewhere in Jane's head, it was as if a light flashed, the same way a flash bulb would have done on the kind of old camera that Jane's mother, or more accurately, Alice's mother, might have used to take a picture of her as a child during the far too short childhood that Jane no longer remembered. The blinding light flashed inside her head and her brain captured not just what she saw through her eyes – which at that second was nothing, because her eyes had closed when Kurt had kissed her – but also included the sight of the five faces crammed into the screen of Patterson's phone that she'd seen two seconds before, as well as the blue of Kurt's eyes that she'd seen one second ago.
This "picture" in her mind also included the sounds of her friends' voices, their boisterous laughter and the countdown also happening on TV, the feelings of love, of peace, of a joy that she had never thought possible, after every horrible thing that she had done and had been done to her… it was the feeling of that second, that every bit of happiness that she felt was the result of sadness and pain that was equally intense. There was something to be said for the fact that, to her surprise, she finally felt that she deserved this moment.
This was the way that she would remember that year. The year that everything went wrong, and went wrong again, and then got worse. The year when the ground was pulled out under her time and time and time again, when she clawed her way back from nothing what felt like every single day, until in the end, she lost everything she had worked for,and when it hadn't seemed possible, she'd lost some more.
And yet, she was still standing – figuratively speaking, of course – and somehow, in the end she had not only survived, but she had learned what she considered to be the most important thing of all.
Finally, she knew who she was. She was Jane… and she wasn't alone, nor was she going to be.
When she opened her eyes in the year that would start one second later, Kurt would be there, looking back at her with the love that had always been there, before either of them had even seen it. It seemed so simple now, really, and it was the only thing she needed.
Kurt had been right when he'd called this "the happy part," and this was the part that they were never going to forget.
Happy New Year, she thought with a smile.
Disclaimer 2: Once again, I do not own Blindspot (though that thought makes me sad). I also do not own the lyrics to Coldplay's amazing song, "Til Kingdom Come," which I've listened to almost nonstop for the past week and a half, since I decided to put it in this chapter.
A/N: Thank you again for reading this story through 48 long chapters, and for your kind reviews. They mean a lot to me. :)