Disclaimer: I do not own Blindspot. More like it's the other way around… I've come to realize that THEY own ME. :)
There were so many questions. In fact, he felt that he had almost nothing but questions. The biggest one, obviously, was why she had left. But, as it had been from the beginning with them, it seemed that questions only led to more questions. As did answers. Indeed, everything seemed to lead to more questions. There was only one thing that he knew for sure, and that was that he loved her, that he needed her.
And now, after so much time he had found her. That answered one basic question – where she had gone. But that was the only thing he felt had been sufficiently answered since Jane had gone missing months ago. There had been only a cryptic note, her wedding band sitting beside the neatly folded sheet of paper. He'd been shocked by the fact that she'd left – for many different reasons, but not least because she had to have known what it would doto him to find her gone.
So yes, now he'd found her, and together they'd answered the question of how to open the metal box – they had needed both of their fingerprints. They'd also successfully determined what was in the box – a small metal "key" with the same picture of a bird that was on her neck, which would appear only under very specific conditions – when it was held by not just one, but both of them. What that key had unlocked, however, was the most mind blowing thing of all. To say that neither of them were prepared for what came next was an understatement.
So there they stood, Jane's body giving off a luminescent purple glow in the low light of the tent that had been hers since she'd been taken in by the Tibetan monks months ago. Kurt stared at her, unable to believe his eyes, as she looked back at him, equally shocked. There was something else in her eyes just then – fear.
Did I do this to myself as well? And if so, how? she thought frantically.
Kurt was afraid, too. It didn't make sense. This couldn't be natural… what was inside her, or under her skin, that was causing this? What did it mean? Was she in danger? He couldn't let anything happen to her… not again. Not after everything else that they'd already been through. Not after he'd just finally found her again.
The purple glow emanating from under Jane's skin showed no sign of dimming as the two of them stood there, wide-eyed, so Kurt slowly pulled the key away from her neck. As much as there would be a time when it would be necessary to study each and every one of those new images, this was not that time. Really, at that moment, as shocked as he was by what had just happened, he was even more consumed with something far less complicated.
After all this time, he had found his wife.
When he looked at the big picture, it hadn't been that long. But a few months without her – he didn't even know how many off the top of his head, his mind was so scattered just then, only that it had felt like an eternity – had been endless, like a new kind of hell that he'd awoken to every day, only to remember that in this version of his existence, for some reason there was no Jane. Each day had felt never ending, the weight of it constantly growing, even when he felt that it couldn't possibly be worse than the previous day, the previous moment. In short, it had been an existence he was not willing to accept. No, he had refused to believe that she had been gone for good, even when they'd found not a single lead to go on for what had felt like years. It hadn't been years, of course, and eventually they'd found the break that they'd needed. And now, here he was.
Stepping back from her, he replaced the key in the box, then slowly replaced the box inside his backpack. There was almost nothing else inside his bag, despite how long and arduous his journey had been. He'd left the few other belongings that he'd brought with him with the first monk he'd encountered, taking him up on his offer to hold his things for him. Kurt had, however, insisted that he needed his backpack with him.
He took his time replacing the key in the box, and the box in his bag, because standing here in this tent with Jane, they both felt overwhelmed. He'd spent so long considering what it would be like if he never found her – like Taylor all over again, only so much worse, because as much as he'd loved Taylor, he loved Jane so much more – and then what it would be like when he did find her. He'd imagined this reunion in his head so many times, that now that he was actually here, he wasn't really sure what to do. They'd held each other tightly when he'd first walked in, and now… now what? Their emotions were boiling over, to the point that they just stood and looked at each other.
The purple glow from under Jane's skin had faded, and now she looked more like herself again. Standing there several feet away from him, he couldn't help but think that in some ways she resembled the Jane that he had first met so long ago, in that FBI interrogation room. Not physically, of course. Her hair was longer and her clothes were different…
What is it about her just now that reminds me of that first day? he wondered.
And then it hit him. Among the many conflicting emotions that she wore on her face, the one that shone through most clearly was the one that was giving him deja vu. She looks afraid. Terrified, even. Even in the most harrowing of situations, Jane rarely looks frightened.
Suddenly he wondered why he was still standing so far away from her. Shouldn't he be at her side? At the same time, he felt his feet firmly planted on the ground. He wanted nothing more than to move closer to her, to try to fix whatever it was that she looked so afraid of – after all, wasn't he the one who'd always been able to do just that? More than anyone else, he'd been able to soothe her… so why hadn't she given him the chance this time? They were so much more to each other than they'd ever been before. She was his wife, for God's sake! So… why?
Still, despite the urge to rush forward, he remained standing where he was, looking at her desperately but somehow unable to move.
Instead of calming down, Jane seemed to be slowly losing her composure before his eyes. Tell me what to do, he wanted to beg, but he was currently unable to utter a sound.
He watched helplessly as her head fell to her chest, and she turned away, toward the far "wall" of the tent. A shiver of fear ran through him, and he suddenly regained his ability to move. No, he wouldn't stand by and do nothing. He wouldn't watch her suffer like this, not if there was anything he could do to stop it.
In only a few steps he was standing behind her, his hands coming to rest gently on her shoulders. He wanted to wrap his arms around her, as he had when he'd first arrived. That time, he'd needed to reassure himself that she was real. This time, however, he hesitated. There was so much between them, but for the first time he didn't know what to do.
"Jane," he whispered, staring desperately at her back and willing her to turn around. "Talk to me."
He felt her shoulders heave beneath his hands, as her whole body shuddered, and if not for the fact that he was holding onto her, she may have fallen to the ground then and there.
I don't deserve another chance, she thought forlornly. I do not deserve this man. And he does not deserve to have to go through this, because of me.
She just shook her head, unable to form words. The volume was so loud in her head, and she wanted nothing more than to turn it off. To make it stop. Involving him in this would be cruel. It would put him in danger.
He's already involved, the voice in her head reminded her kindly. He has been from the first day. He could have bailed out a long time ago, and he has always done the opposite. Give him credit for that. What's cruel is shutting him out. He's obviously not going to walk away. If you haven't noticed, he literally followed you to the ends of the Earth. I get the feeling that he would sooner cut off his own arm than give up on you, so you may as well stop torturing the poor man and let him in. The way you used to.
I can't, she insisted in her head, feeling herself beginning to shake as the emotions overpowered her. It's too dangerous. If anything happened to him…
You're too late for that, the voice said soothingly. A lot of things have happened to him. Terrible things. Horrible. Things that no one should reasonably be expected to go through and come out the other side unscathed. And yet here he is.
Those things happened because of me, though. I can't let it get worse… She simply couldn't understand why that damn voice in her head couldn't understand this.
A lot of bad things happened. Some of them because of Shepherd, some because of Remi, the voice corrected her.
I did some of those bad things, too, she thought. I can't blame it all on them. I'm nowhere near innocent.
No one is perfect, the voice said, still frustratingly calm.
This isn't about me not being perfect. This is about me being a monster. I can't keep blaming Remi for things, as if she's someone else. We're the same person now, she thought sadly, choking back a sob. I spent all that time wanting to remember, only to find out that I never should have wanted that at all. Why couldn't I have been happy just the way I was?
Because it's not in your nature, came the answer from inside her head. You need the truth, even when it's ugly.
Well the truth is certainly ugly, she agreed ruefully.
But you are not that person, the voice insisted.
The thought was so tempting to believe, and yet she simply couldn't let herself. She was that person, after all. Now in every way. She felt like a fraud for going by the name Jane at all. She wasn't worthy of that name. Jane had been innocent… she hadn't done all of those terrible things. The woman she was now… she'd lost her innocence all at once.
His voice cut through her thoughts, just as he'd always been able to do, simply by saying her name. The name that she no longer deserved. She shivered, feeling worse and worse by the second.
She would have sank to the floor, but as she lowered herself in that direction she realized that, because the room was so small, she was directly beside the bed – if the narrow cot she'd been sleeping on could be considered a bed – so she perched on the edge of that instead.
His hands had rested tentatively on her shoulders, and when she moved he let the motion tug him along with her, so that seconds later, he was sitting on the edge of the bed as well. Her back was still facing him, and he moved up as close behind her as he could. Still she refused to turn around, and he felt her stiffen all over.
This reaction wasn't what he had expected. Her note had said that he hadn't done anything wrong, but if that was the case, then why was she reacting this way to him? He was willing to take what she'd said at face value, however. He didn't think it had been a lie – they'd been through enough with lies early on, and since they'd gotten together for real they had managed honesty, even when it hurt. Looking at it that way, that could only mean that there was something very wrong that was weighing on her mind, something that she wasn't letting herself talk about.
But what? And why didn't she feel like she could tell him? Why was it better to run halfway around the world than to talk to him? That was the part that he needed an answer to the most.
His hands slowly slid down from her shoulders, over the fabric of her white t-shirt. With the lightest touch possible, they moved along the skin of her arms – skin that had been glowing purple only a few minutes before – until he reached where her arms were tightly crossed over her chest. Now pulling her against him tightly as well, crossing his arms over hers, he leaned down towards her ear.
God, I missed this, he thought as he inhaled deeply before speaking.
"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to," he told her quietly, as close to her ear as he could. "I can accept that. What I can't accept is you running away. Not for any reason. Not from me. Whatever you think you have to run from, you don't. Not from yourself. Not from anyone or anything. We've been through so much… enough for me to know that nothing is going to change."
He let the words sink in, and felt her shudder. He didn't understand what was happening in her head just then – which was unusual for them – but he could tell from her reaction that he wasn't far off. She tensed even further, even as she leaned back into him, her breathing becoming shallower and shallower by the second. This only made him hold on tighter.
He has no idea… he's so right and so wrong at the same time. I know I have to tell him, but this is going to change everything. Her mind was paralyzed with fear. Fear that what she had to say was going to hurt him, fear that now that things had changed, she would do something that would hurt him… fear of herself, like at the beginning when she'd first been Jane. Except now she couldn't fall back on uncertainty. The fear was real. She didn't have to doubt herself. She knew the truth, and it scared her.
"You have literally gone to the ends of the Earth to get away from whatever it is," he told her as calmly as he could, knowing that that was what she needed just then. "Did it work?" he asked.
Her head began to shake slowly. Of course it hadn't worked.
"I refuse to believe that it's me you're running from. I know you, Jane. We're much too good together for that to be true."
He really didn't believe that she was running from him. Surely, her reaction to his arrival had already demonstrated that he was right about that – that she was relieved to see him, even though she was the one who'd left. Still, he sighed with relief when she gently leaned her left cheek against his right, as if in reply. At that moment, it was enough. He felt her shuddering in his arms once again, and that only made him hold on tighter still.
It was surreal, hearing him say almost the exact same words that she'd said inside her head only a few moments before. The ends of the Earth. It wasn't supposed to be an actual place… and yet, this felt like exactly such a place.
Does it surprise you? the voice in her head asked. That he would come here to find you? It shouldn't. Not the Kurt that you know. Why did you think that running away would work?
I just… I couldn't think of another way to keep him safe, she thought miserably.
He doesn't want to be safe, you know, the voice told her. Not if being safe means not having you in his life.
I can't do that to him. The thought was more desperate than the others. No, she had to keep him away from her… no matter how much everything inside her screamed that it was the wrong thing to do.
Silly girl, the voice replied, almost sadly. Why do you still think you have a choice? He's not going to give up on you. End of story. You know it's true. He spent twenty-five plus years looking for Taylor. The only reason he gave up was that he found physical evidence that she was dead, and his father confessed to killing her. You know this man too well to think that he's going to give up on you. After all, he's as stubborn as you are.
The more desperately the voice tried to placate her, the more she felt herself losing control of her emotions. She couldn't do this. She couldn't. And yet, she knew that she didn't have a choice. It was simply impossible to reconcile what she needed – to protect him at all costs – with what she wanted – quite simply, him. It had been simpler, though far from simple, when he was half a world away. Now that he was here… she felt like she was tearing herself apart inside, and it was getting harder and harder to breathe.
Special Agent Kurt Weller had never been a man who was in touch with his feelings. Actually, he'd done his best to avoid his feelings for most of his life. Until Jane. She had changed everything for him. For Jane, he would do anything. Absolutely, literally, anything. Like end up on the top of a mountain in Tibet after six months or more of combing through leads that had led to nothing, refusing to believe that she could not be found. He was not a man to let his emotions get the best of him… unless those emotions dealt with Jane.
"Keep breathing, Jane," he whispered, thinking back to when he'd said the same thing to her so long ago. So many things about her right now were reminding him of the beginning… there had to be a reason why she was so terrified, and it wasn't simply him. They'd been deliriously happy, and then something had shifted. The thing he didn't understand was why she hadn't felt like she could talk to him about it. After everything that had happened, that was the part that had hurt him most. Well, that and the fact that she'd simply left. But it didn't change how he felt about her, only made him feel it more desperately.
She recognized the words immediately. Keep breathing. They echoed across time and across the world, from New York City years ago to now, here on this mountain. Despite everything that was different, the sentiment, and the person saying them, were the same. His feelings for her had changed since then, however… As strong as they had been then, they were far, far deeper now. She wanted to let his words soothe her, but she knew that she couldn't. Therefore, her reaction was somewhere between a chuckle and a choked sob. They both remembered the first time he'd told her that, as he held her hand on his heart… and yet, that just made it more painful now.
"I love you," he whispered in her ear, hearing his voice breaking as he shook just a little with the build-up of emotion inside him as well. "I know that you know that, but you need to hear it again. And you should also know that I'm not letting you run away."
I found her. I found her. It was as though he realized all over again every few minutes that he'd found her, and the novelty and wonder he felt simply never wore off.
She was shaking for real now, not just shuddering, but actually shaking with sobs. He hated that she was crying, and not just a little bit, but crying with every muscle in her body, as if all of the pain that had been stored from everything that she'd gone through over the years but never released, in all the time he'd known her, was now being let out. His chest ached to see her this way, but at least he was here, because the only thing worse than this was to think about her going through this by herself.
She couldn't think. Her emotions had taken over her and she simply couldn't think anymore. He'd pulled his arms tightly around her. He'd whispered in her ear, and that was when she'd lost it. It went so far beyond her not deserving this man – though she definitely didn't. It went so far beyond the fact that she loved him with everything inside her, even though she came up so short in every way when she thought about him…
Stop fighting it, the voice told her.
Really, she couldn't have fought it anymore if she'd wanted to. Not like this. Not with him here. That was why she'd left. She could keep her feelings in check only if he wasn't there in front of her. Now… with him here… it was impossible, so she stopped trying, letting go of the emotions that had built up inside her for months and months – maybe years. The dam simply burst, and it all flowed out at once.
I'm not strong enough, she lamented sadly. I can't do it.
You don't have to, the voice in her head said soothingly. Didn't you hear him? There is nowhere you can go to run from this. From him. So you might as well let him back in. Really, I don't know why you think you have a choice in the matter. That's not something to be afraid of, you know. That's something that should make you feel safe.
Slowly, relief pushed its way back into her veins. She hadn't even realized that she'd been crying, as crazy as that seemed, but now she felt the wetness on her cheeks and the spasming of her stomach muscles as her sobs finally began to slow down. She'd completely forgotten her surroundings for a few minutes, but now the world slowly faded back in around her. Kurt's arms were pulled around her shoulders tightly, clasped in front of her, since she was still facing away from him, still sitting on the edge of the small bed. Her breathing slowed, and her left cheek still leaned against his right, which was tilted slightly forward above her left shoulder. His even breathing against her helped her begin to regulate her own, as she attempted to match his rhythm.
Now she closed her eyes, feeling drained of every bit of energy, as if it was suddenly too much effort to even keep her eyes open. Turning around slowly, her eyes still closed, she felt his arms loosen just barely enough to allow her movement, but still holding onto her firmly. She continued turning until she was facing him, her head dropping down onto his right shoulder but her eyes still closed. At that moment she felt as though she had no strength left inside her.
"You should get some sleep," he told her, rubbing her back slowly, back and forth, with one hand, while his other arm remained securely around her shoulders. He wasn't sure what to do, or how she was going to feel about any of this, only that he wasn't going to leave her alone. The farthest he was going to go from her, if she wanted him to, was across the room. That was it. Taking his eyes off of her at that moment was something that no force on Earth was going to convince him to do.
She couldn't argue with the fact that she needed sleep, that was for sure, but she swore she was even too exhausted to sleep. Besides, if he moved anywhere farther away from her, she was fairly sure that she would simply collapse.
"If you need some space…" he asked her tentatively, "I can—"
But her head was already shaking against his shoulder, and her arms moved slowly, tentatively up to his waist, as if she wasn't sure whether or not she should put them around him. She didn't feel like she had any right to seek comfort from him after what she'd put him through, and yet… she couldn't help it. Over these past months she had successfully convinced herself that she didn't deserve to lean on him, and yet with him there beside her, that resolve crumbled. She found that all she wanted just then was for him to never ever move any farther away from her than he was just then. This wasn't rationally possible, of course, but it also wasn't fair, since she'd been the one to run away from him. It was all so complicated.
He chuckled at her quick reaction, and smiled in relief. He didn't want to be anywhere but exactly where he was, but he wanted to respect her wishes. Whatever the reason that she'd left, and that she'd ended up here, he had to accept that she would need time to work it all out. He knew her well enough to know that she wouldn't have run to the end of the Earth just on a whim. Then again, he would never have thought that she would've left him for any reason at all…
Easy, he told himself. You're both here, and it's going to be okay.
He'd told her that she needed to come home because Reade, Tasha and Patterson were missing, and that wasn't a lie – as they could already see from the box, he needed her help to find them. Still, as much as he thought that she would come back just knowing that, he couldn't be certain. Really, he couldn't be sure of anything anymore, except of his feelings for her. He wanted to ask her again to come home with him, to tell her that it wasn't just because their friends were missing that he wanted – no, needed – her back. Because more than anything, he needed her. Not because she could help him, but because he couldn't conceive of a life without her.
She should know that. I'm sure I don't have to tell her… didn't she know that when she left? Should I have told her more often how important she was to me? His thoughts were just as confused as hers, just different.
Relax, he told himself again, almost the same way he would have if he'd been talking to Jane. It's going to be okay. Hadn't he told her that, back at the beginning?
Scooting back farther on the bed so that he reached the far side, he leaned slowly down to his right, his head moving toward the pillow. Her head moved with him until she was about to fall over from the odd angle, and at that point, she turned around, lowering herself without a word or a second thought – without any thought, really. Now lying down in front of him, she settled against him with her back securely against his chest.
She felt tears leaking out of her eyes again, and she wondered how much of the emotion pouring out of her was exhaustion, and how much of it was the fact that she was really and truly emotional… because of course, she was both.
The feeling of his face pressing into her hair on the back of her head threatened the delicate balance of her emotions that was already slipping out of her control.
"Ssshhhh," he told her, as much for his own benefit as hers. She nodded and swallowed hard, but said nothing, attempting to reign herself in once more, but feeling what little composure she had mustered fading quickly. She was simply too tired for this… in every way.
"Here we are at the ends of the Earth," he whispered, moving his face out of her hair so that she could hear him better. "And it's still okay. We're still okay, alright?" He made a conscious decision to tell her that they were okay rather than ask her, because he couldn't stand the thought of getting anything other than an affirmative answer. They had to be okay… They would be okay…
He smoothed her hair, his fingers skimming her cheek, which made her turn slightly toward him. "Sleep now," he whispered, and she leaned back down against the pillow, focusing on breathing evenly.
Jane nodded, feeling exhaustion take over. Now that he was here, now that they were together, she might be able to sleep for the first time since she'd left him.
I left him, she thought, not quite believing it herself. Squeezing her eyes shut tightly, she released a new cascade of tears as her chest ached all over again. Of all the things I've done, that might be the worst one, she thought just as she was beginning to fall asleep. And worst of all, I knew exactly what it would do to him.
She felt herself jerking awake again, her mind attempting to pull her body back from the brink of sleep. Then, in the next second, she saw a parade of images marching through her mind of all of the other horrible things she had done, mostly as Remi. She remembered them now. All of them. It was no wonder she hadn't been able to sleep for months, ever since it had all come back. That was why she'd left. Because if she was remembering being Remi, then how could she be sure she wouldn't keep right on changing… how could she be sure that she wouldn't become Remi again? It put him in too much danger to stay, and she just couldn't risk it, no matter that everything inside her wanted to be with him.
Just as she seemed to be falling asleep, he felt her startle then pull away from him, as if she was trying to curl into herself. She'd obviously thought of something that had caused that reaction. "Jane," he whispered, "it's all okay."
How can you be this calm? he asked himself, slightly in shock. After all of these months of searching, of heartache, of fear… have you forgotten how it tore you apart?
Of course not, the calm side of his brain reasoned. But I know Jane. She's still the same person, the one I married. Something made her run, and I'm going to find out what it is, and we're going to figure it out. As bad as that felt, this isn't about me. Later, it can be about me. This is about her right now. It just… has to be. We can't both break down at the same time… She needs me.
Her hands were tucked up in front of her protectively, her chin down, and her legs pulling farther and farther in, as though she was slowly pulling into a fetal position. Kurt's left arm, which was already around her, followed the line of her arm slowly until it reached her hand, which was balled into a fist alongside her right and tucked under her chin. His thumb reached up to her cheek and swiped several times, so lightly that it almost wasn't there, the rest of his hand partway around her clenched fist, which was tucked under her chin. Gradually, he felt the muscles there relax.
It's been months since you remembered and you haven't become Remi, as you seem to think you're going to, the voice in her head reminded her. Do you think maybe you overreacted?
That was a hard thing to think, because if she had overreacted, then she'd left him for no reason. She'd hurt him for no reason, and made him chase her across the world for no reason.
What kind of a person does that? she thought desperately.
The kind of person whose love for someone else is so big that she would sacrifice the only thing in the world that she really wants in order to keep him safe, the voice in her head replied, right on cue.
"It's going to be okay," he whispered yet again, realizing that he was probably saying it as much for himself as for her. Just then, they both needed to hear it. When he felt her relax back against him once more, he felt relief flood through him all over again.
It was going to be like this for a while, he knew. It would take a while before they got out of this place emotionally, where every move, every breath, every gesture was so potentially painful. It wouldn't be forever, but it would be a slow road back… and that was okay. After all, look at the road that had led them to each other. It had been worth it, and it would be again. Yes, it would be a while before they got back to what was normal for them. But he'd always been stubborn, as had Jane, and there was nothing in the world that was going to convince him to give up on her. Really, he felt like he'd already proven that.
Once again, she was teetering on the edge of unconsciousness, wanting to drop off to sleep but held prisoner in that drowsy state by her mind. At this point, she was simply overwhelmed, and sleep would have been a welcome relief, but her thoughts continued to spin.
While she was slowly relaxing again, he could tell even from behind her that she was still awake. He was feeling sleepy now, after the long journey and the relief of finding her, but he vowed to himself to do what he could to stay awake until she had fallen asleep – and not because he was afraid that she would run. Well, maybe there was a little bit of that fear mixed in with the rest of his emotions… Surely that was a normal reaction, all things considered…
He didn't know why, but at that moment he thought back to that day when they'd been on the plane to DC, after Patterson had told him that Jane was considering leaving the FBI – right at the tail end of the Sandstorm case. It occurred to him in hindsight, and not for the first time, that their misunderstanding that time had come about because neither of them wanted to say too much, or to unduly influence the other one's actions, and so neither of them had said what they really felt. She'd never wanted to leave, but had been afraid that he was going to leave and didn't want to be left behind. If they'd both just spoken up from the start…
So he decided to do just that. "There are so many things that I love about you," he began softly. "It's hard to decide what I love the most… but interestingly enough, it just might be one of the things I find most frustrating about you, too." He knew that that would get her attention, assuming that she was still awake enough to listen, and he chuckled at how strange his words sounded, even to him, as he continued.
"Your heart is so big, and you can't help but put everyone else before yourself. I've watched you do it for as long as I've known you. Even when you should take yourself into consideration, when you should remind yourself that you matter too, for some reason you make everyone else more important. And for some reason, I feel like that had something to do with how we ended up here, in this tent."
She'd already been too exhausted for words when they'd laid down, and she was dumbfounded by the fact that his words had just struck so close to the heart of what was really going on. It certainly hadn't taken him long to tune back into her thoughts, that was for sure. Saying nothing, she forced herself to take deep breaths. If he'd figured that part out, then what else had he also realized about her…?
"Luckily for you," he continued in the same low, even voice, "I'm not going to let you sacrifice yourself for the good of everyone else. I almost made that mistake once, a few years ago. Never again."
He was referring, of course, to sending her into Sandstorm, into the lion's den, undercover. When they'd started that mission, he'd been so angry with her that he'd felt as though she owed it to the FBI, to him, to bring down those terrorists – her family – no matter the danger to her. The incredible thing had been that she'd seemed to agree. She'd never batted an eye at the danger they'd asked – no, demanded – that she put herself into. She'd been perfectly willing to do so, acting as though she hadn't expected to make it out alive.
"And now, I need your stubborn mind to turn off so that you, Jane, can go to sleep," he told her, leaning down to kiss the top of her left shoulder, where her skin was exposed beside the neckline of her t-shirt.
She didn't turn to look at him, but she smiled, feeling herself finally relax. No wonder the monk had seen longing in her eyes. Even when she didn't want to believe it, she had been longing for him. She just hadn't wanted to admit it to herself. But she could have climbed that mountain a thousand times, or a million… that feeling never would have left her, no matter how much she liked to pretend. And now that she didn't have to long for him anymore, or to fight herself and deny that that was what she was doing, the weight was lifting. Slowly, but it was lifting.
Don't think about the rest of it, she ordered herself. Not yet. Right now, sleep.
When he felt her relax completely, heard her breathing even out so that he knew she had finally fallen asleep, he sighed with relief.
Finally, he thought. They had a long, long road ahead of them – both the actual journey that would take them back to New York, and the metaphorical road that would get them back to them – but he'd never backed down from a challenge, and he wasn't about to start now. What had scared him, he could see now, were the times when he had feared for her safety, her well-being. Not just when she'd left him, but before that, when their work had put her in danger. Looking back, the only thing that had really scared him had been the thought of something happening to Jane, the thought of losing her.
You'd better rest up for that long road, the voice in his head told him. You've had a hell of a couple months yourself.
His eyes were already closing, and he now actually smiled at the thought. He knew it was crazy that the thought of the long trip back to New York made him not just smile, but feel slightly giddy. In reality, though, it wasn't the thought of the journey itself that was making him smile. It was the thought of Jane… No, the reality of Jane, there in front of him and tucked safely into his arms. How in the world could he not smile, when he'd fulfilled the need that he'd had for each and every day of the months that she'd been gone? He'd found her.
For God's sake, go to sleep, he told himself, wondering how he was even still awake. There's plenty of time for thinking tomorrow, and the next day and the next.
Sleep. Here with Jane. Yes, the thought was appealing. Even though the fear was there that he would wake up and find her gone, he knew that he needed to sleep. That fear would probably last for a long time, but he couldn't let it cripple him. Hopefully by showing up here, he'd already demonstrated to her that running away from him wasn't a solution that was going to work. In any case, his eyes were growing heavy and he knew that any second, his mind would finally surrender.
He inhaled the scent of her, so close in front of him, exhaling slowly. Jane, he thought simply, his lips curling into a smile. That was enough to help his mind relax, and at that moment, he too fell asleep.
Despite the fact that the windowless tent provided excellent insolation from the light outside, Jane had awoken early every single day since she'd arrived on that mountain. The monks awoke with the sun, and the sounds of their going about their business outside were audible, though not disturbing, and generally helped to rouse her. She'd never been a good sleeper anyway, always having had so much weighing on her mind, so their activity provided a reason for her to be up, to help with whatever needed to be done that day, and to prepare herself to climb the mountain once again.
This day, however, Jane did not stir at the usual early hour to which she had become accustomed. There was no alarm clock, of course, so she didn't know exactly what time it was when she first thought of opening her eyes, only that she felt more rested than she had since leaving home. Not yet fully conscious, she was still in that blissful state in which everything was fuzzy, her thoughts not yet quite making sense. However, the sudden realization that she was not alone in her little bed helped to accelerate the return of her memories of the previous night, and in seconds it all came flooding back to her.
Kurt. Here. What do I—
"Good morning," came a low, raspy voice from over her shoulder. Before she'd even had time to form a complete thought, she felt herself smiling broadly. Suddenly needing to see him with her own eyes, she craned her neck to look back at him over her shoulder. It wasn't enough, however, so she began to turn the rest of her body over – no small feat in such a small, crowded bed. Understanding what she was attempting to do, he leaned back as much as he could to give her space to move, settling back down against her as soon as she finished moving, and looking into her eyes.
She was smiling at him, he couldn't help but notice immediately. That smile that he'd missed every second of every day… He felt his chest ache as once again as he was overwhelmed by her. He took her smile as a good sign.
"Good morning," she said, her voice equally scratchy. She felt simultaneously more exhausted and more energized than ever before, and couldn't help but smile at the thought. This was his effect on her – giving her strength even when logically, she should have none. Then, her smile fading, she looked into his eyes seriously. "I… I don't know where to start," she said, her voice breaking before she'd even finished one sentence, as she looked down at their hands. He'd clasped the fingers of his right hand firmly around hers, his left hand laid over her waist. It all felt impossibly familiar, even though she knew that she didn't deserve such an intimate gesture from him. Not anymore… not after what she'd done.
"None of that," he replied, lifting his hand off of her waist to bring it up to her face, and then resting his index finger against her lips to stop her from saying anything else. "Start with this." Leaning forward, he waited until the last second to remove his finger from her lips, moving his hand to her cheek just before their lips met. It took her a few seconds, but she kissed him back, though hesitantly, feeling unworthy of this level of devotion.
You are not unworthy, the voice in her head said loudly, stop telling yourself that. He loves you because of who you are, not in spite of it.
It was tempting to give in and do as the voice suggested, but she knew that it wasn't realistic. It just wasn't that simple. After all, she hadn't left on a whim. As much as she wanted to believe that they could end up living happily ever after, the reality was that she probably couldn't fix this.
That's not fair. You haven't even given him a chance to try, her mind said reproachfully.
I was protecting him, she protested.
Well, stop it, the voice replied in frustration. He's not going to give up on you, and you shouldn't either. Don't pretend that's what you want.
It's not about what I want, she thought sadly, beginning to pull away.
There was hesitation as she'd kissed him back, but it was a starting point. Nothing about this was going to be easy, and once again, he was okay with that. Leaning back, he tried to look into her eyes, but she refused to meet his. "Jane," he said softly, the tip of his nose touching the tip of hers, and their foreheads touching slightly, "I love you."
He felt her head start to shake back and forth against his, as if she was about to protest. "Oh no, it doesn't work like that. You can't stop me," he told her, smiling slightly at his own attempt at humor despite the seriousness of the situation. "I suppose that you can tell me that I shouldn't, maybe even try to convince me, but I can tell you right now that I'm not going to listen. You're just going to have to accept it. I love you. Okay?" There was so much more he wanted to say, but he decided to leave it at that for the time being.
With a sigh, she nodded ever so slightly, looking down again as a small, pained smile crossed her face.
Breathe, she told herself. For once, she took her own advice, just focusing on the fact that he was there in front of her.
Why does this feel harder than climbing that mountain? she wondered.
So don't make it hard, the voice in her head replied, as if it was just that easy.
Her eyes moved slowly back up to his, reluctantly, where she found him watching her carefully, a smile on his face. Will he smile, when he finds out? she wondered sadly.
There's only one way to find out, the voice pointed out.
Not yet, she thought. I just… I can't… not yet.
It was such hard work to smile at him when inside she felt so conflicted, especially because he was looking at her without judgement. She certainly didn't deserve that. On the contrary, she deserved to be judged, and for so many more things than she'd realized before…
His hand was still on her cheek, she now noticed, his thumb moving across her skin slowly, evenly. It was soothing, just as it had always been when he'd done that in the past. The past. There was both so much good and so much bad mixed up in their past, and it was both painful and wonderful and—
Stop it, she commanded herself. You're going to get caught in the spiral again. Focus. She forced herself to focus only on his hand on her cheek, his thumb moving back and forth. Her eyes closed on their own as she tried to push the other thoughts away.
"Will you come back with me, Jane? Back home?" she heard him ask. If she didn't know better, she'd have said that he sounded afraid of her answer.
You did leave, after all, the voice in her head reminded her. There was no guarantee that you would come back… and that's the one thing he wants.
"Yes," she whispered, knowing that she shouldn't, for his sake, but unable to fight the need to be with him. Besides, not only was pushing him away clearly not going to work, her friends needed her. She couldn't let them down, not for anything. It looked like they were in danger because of her, for whatever reason.
She felt the need to explain everything to him then and there, but she wasn't sure how or where to start. Shaking her head, she searched desperately for the words. "I'm sorry, Kurt, I know I…" But nothing else would come. Sighing in frustration because the words were once again bottled up inside her, she looked away from him, leaning her forehead down until it was against his shoulder. She'd promised him that she could explain, and yet here she was, unable to even form a whole sentence.
He leaned forward and kissed the top of her head. "That's all I need right now," he said, letting his face rest in her hair. "I just need you."His left hand moved off of her cheek, his arm wrapping around her slowly once again, holding on tight. They would get up soon, but not quite yet.