As the others returned to their work, Lisbon finally turned to Jane.
"A pony," she said, giving him a disbelieving look.
Jane leaned to the door frame with a casual slouch, his eyes twinkling with barely contained mirth. "Your sharp skills of observation astound me, Lisbon. Are you sure you even need me working for you anymore?"
She smacked his arm, trying not to smile.
"Seriously, Jane. You put a pony in my office."
He tilted his head, giving her a curious look. "I thought you liked ponies?"
She looked at the pony. A part of her wanted to just go over and pet it, while another, more practical part of her acknowledged the fact that every minute the animal remained in her office was risking the wrath of workplace resources, and, with bad luck, the cleaning staff.
"I do, just not in my office. How the hell did you even get it in here?"
"I bribed Joe from Security with Kings tickets to help me get it past the checkpoint." Jane took her by the crook of her arm and gently led her inside. "C'mon."
As they walked past the pony, Jane made a clucking noise with his tongue, and the animal followed him to the couch. He sat down, and then patted the couch to invite her to do the same.
"Since when have you been a horse whisperer?" She gave into the temptation and buried her hand in the pony's mane, scratching it behind its ear.
Jane shrugged. "One of the shows we traveled with when I was a kid had a guy who sold pony rides. He used to let me help him feed the animals sometimes."
He slipped his hand into his jacket pocket and took out a handful of baby carrots. He gave one to the pony, and then offered her the rest. She picked one and held it on the palm of her hand, unable to keep herself from smiling when the pony's lips tickled her fingers.
"You know, someday you're going to have to tell me all about this secret carny past of yours."
He gave her a wistful smile. "Maybe."
They sat in silence for a while, each taking turns feeding the pony. When the carrots finally ran out, Lisbon wiped her hands on her pant leg and stood up.
"Okay, Jane. Playtime's over. You can take the pony back now."
He looked up at her, an exaggerated expression of confusion on his face. "Take it back? Take it back where?"
She rolled her eyes. "To wherever you rented it from."
"Why would I rent your birthday gift? It's your pony. I bought it for you."
She was about to tell him to stop playing stupid, when she was hit with the sinking realisation that he was telling the truth. He'd bought her a pony.
She sat back down on the couch, her legs suddenly weak.
"Jane... How much did you pay for this?"
Jane stared at her for a few seconds, his jaw twitching, and then looked away. "It's my money," he said, almost petulantly. "I can do whatever I want with it."
"I can't take a pony from you, Jane. I'm your boss."
He turned to look at her again, a hint of a smile playing on his lips. "Are you afraid I'm trying to seduce you? I told you, if I wanted to seduce you, it wouldn't be anything this sophomoric. You'd never even know what hit you if I were."
She gave him an indignant look. "What? No, I'm not afraid you're trying to seduce me! I just..." She sighed. "Why did you buy me a pony?"
He shrugged. "You've been under a lot of stress lately, and I admit that not a small part of it has been because of me. I just wanted to make you smile."
He sounded sincere, and she found that she couldn't be angry at him, even if she wanted. "That's very sweet of you, but I can't keep this."
"I know." He reached over, scratching the pony behind its ear. "There's a small petting zoo near the airport that does a lot of charity work for kids in foster care. There was a story in the paper last month about how one of their ponies had to be put down after it broke its leg. I made them a donation in your name to buy a new one."
She stared at him, at loss for words.
"I don't know what to say."
He tilted his head, pretending to think. "How about: 'Thank you, Jane. You are an incredible friend and an amazing human being'?"
She smacked his arm again. "Thank you, Jane. You're not quite the self-centered jerk I thought you were."
Jane's smile blossomed into a full grin. "You're welcome." He stood up and took the pony by its reins. "Now... Wanna go make some kids happy?"