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This Unfamiliar Road

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Here is what they don't talk about --

that moment in her office.

-- again.




They are five minutes from the crime scene when she looks over and thinks, not for the first time, not for the last time, maybe.

He catches her glance and smiles in return, his expression strangely natural and free of mischief, fading traces of sunlight haloing him with false gold.

Turning her attention back to the road, she signals left and turns off Piermont.




She doesn't think he touches her any more now then he did before -- he's always been carelessly tactile; his fingers stroking the back of her wrist, his hip bumping into hers, his chest against her back as he leans over her shoulder and grabs for her attention -- but she does think she's maybe more aware of it now.

Or maybe it's his awareness that's grown, intentionality and deliberateness replacing nonchalance. Either way...




Lorelai calls him lover and tells Teresa about their night together in detail. The way he touched her hair, her hips, her breasts. The way he tasted of vodka and cigarettes and mustard. The way he didn't close his eyes as he moved on top of her but did, after, when they were finished and sweat was cooling on their bodies and a documentary on the end of the Mayan civilisation was playing on the TV.

Teresa is not upset by the fact that Jane slept with Lorelai because she gets it, she understands, and whatever the reasoning behind it -- he liked her, he was lonely, he knew she was Red John's, he was drunk -- he's a grown man who's been alone for a long time and if he found some pleasure with Lorelai, no matter how temporary, then she's happy for him.

Lorelai thinks that Teresa is jealous, that talking about her night with Jane is salt in a wound that won't easily heal and a distraction that will work in her favour.

Teresa knows better.




His first month back, they close nine cases.

It's not a record -- they've had better months -- but it is an improvement and he's back and things are starting to feel like what passes for normal in a life with Patrick Jane again, so.

She sleeps. Sleeps and dreams about that moment, the nervous tension in his body as he hugged her, the adrenaline that turned his voice thready and urgent, and while the location changes -- now they're in his car, on a beach, in her bedroom, at a cemetery -- his words are always the same and the gun is always filled with blanks and she never, ever falls.

He is always going to save her, she knows.




Here is what they do talk about --

murders, ice cream, crime scenes, lying, the traffic on SR49, office supplies, witnesses, disneyland, protocols, leadlighting, mumford and sons, victims, new york, suspects, cold readings, heartbeats, jurisdiction, tyre irons, easy marks, stonewall jackson, sweating, assaults, the beach, ninjas versus pirates, blood, motives, pH levels, ants versus elephants, lorelai, hammers, double-blind experiments, holding hands, the colour red, ryan seacrest, thunderstorms, long cons, knives, beatings, twentieth century architecture, fraud, alibis, facebook, glocks, breathing, crime scene tape, super mario brothers, sex, probability theories, meg ryan, fingerprints, eliot porter, tea versus coffee, greece, the traffic on the I80, chainsaws, life insurance policies, sunsets, windscreens, schweppervescence, blindfolds, autopsy results, crack heroin, hypnosis, red john.

-- on Tuesday.




Sometimes she looks at him and thinks of sunrises and sunsets and his shadow bleeding into hers as they walk, his stride shortening to hers, her arm brushing his, the world beneath their feet and the horizon leading them further and further away from...

The room is painted red and the walls are not smiling, deo gratias, but she sees patterns in the blood nonetheless, sees Jane blanch and cover and she knows that sometimes, sometimes, it isn't just the face on the wall or the man who put it there that haunts him, it's the room itself, the bodies on the bed, the smell of copper and death and destruction, the end of his world as he knew it.

Touching his elbow, she edges around so that she's standing in front of him and lets it slip that Cho is with the victim's mother outside and then watches his gaze flick to hers, and hold, and for a moment -- for a moment --

Blinking, he nods and turns and leaves and she thinks, briefly, of the sun falling and rising and the fabric of his suit jacket under her fingertips.

Sometimes.




Rumours aside, she and Jane don't have that kind of a relationship, but sometimes, every now and then, just for a moment, she will feel the brush of his thumb on the inside of her wrist, hear a change in his breathing as she shoves him out of the way of some danger he's orchestrated, smell his aftershave, imagine she can taste the flavour of his tea on the tip of her tongue, see his profile out of the corner of her eye, and her pulse will jump and she will smile and she will think, maybe.

Maybe his hands will touch hers, his fingertips on her skin, skimming, gliding, his mouth open on her neck and his hips fitting against hers and maybe his back will feel smooth under her palms and her thighs will shift, part, her fingers curling into his hair and her tongue against his, her lips on his, and maybe he'll steal her breath as he pushes inside of her, holds her, rocks into her and pulls her closer and maybe she'll take something of his, too, rolling them and moving them, harder, higher, and maybe maybe maybe...




Some days, she is not entirely convinced both she and Jane will survive Red John.

Some days, she is not entirely convinced that's their biggest problem.




He sleeps on the couch in her office and she saves her paperwork for the early hours before shift and maybe it should be strange or inappropriate, his soft breathing and the tap of her fingers on her keyboard filling the spaces between them every morning, but it's not.

She goes to the firing range and maybe it's Jane's face she's imagining on the paper targets, maybe it's not, but when she's finished, when she's done, when her thoughts have calmed and settled once more, she heads outside and isn't surprised to find him waiting as she takes her place by his side and lets the heat from his body touch hers.

He apologises more.

She doesn't.




Here is what they might talk about --

maybe.

-- one day.



The End