Field Test no. 5: Presents & Other Dangerous Objects
Based on the episode Red Handed
Cho fought it, but insistent awareness filtered in and he slowly woke up.
He stared blankly at the glowing red numbers that said it was two-sixteen. It was two-sixteen and that was too early to be awake, so he closed his eyes and enjoyed the fact that he was warm, safe, and that—for the time being—no one was shooting at him.
And that was a good thing. Lately it seemed like there was a lot of the latter and not much of the former. Like a switch had been thrown, the CBI’s cases had gotten more bizarre, more violent. Just last week they’d had the very unpleasant duty of investigating an attempted schoolyard murder. What made it unique wasn’t the location of the crime, or, sadly, the weapons involved—it was the age of the perps.
Bringing in a trio of nine-year olds who’d thought it would be cool to shoot their teacher before class was a new one for him. The kids were arrested before they managed to put their plan into action and everyone had breathed a sigh of relief when they were rounded up with no fuss.
Cho had hated every minute of it. Hated the way Lisbon’s face grew pinched as they got deeper into the case and realized what was what. Hated the way that even Jane lost his 24/7 smile.
The only thing he’d enjoyed—and he was honest with himself, he enjoyed the fuck out of it—was bringing in the parents as soon as they’d located them.
On the first interview he’d done the atypical and let his anger out. Lisbon had intervened, but not before he got a chance to do what he did best: scare the crap out of a couple of adults of both genders who thought his low voice and calm demeanor meant he was either stupid or a pushover, or both.
Lisbon had given him the official dressing down but her heart wasn’t in it. And it had been worth it. The Nelson’s admitted they’d given their son access to a gun he was way too young to handle. Admitted that they were both too tired the night before to notice that he’d left for school the next morning with the weapon in his backpack.
That night—the night after the confessions and the subsequent arrests—Lisbon had gathered the team and herded them out the building, then led them down I street to the nearest bar. They all got drunk. Or, as drunk as Lisbon and Van Pelt ever allowed themselves. Cho, Jane, and Rigsby made up for the women, though. They finally stopped when the bartender refused to serve them another round—not even Jane’s charm could change her mind.
Cho had ended up going home alone that night. Which was how he’d wanted it, really. The case was still worming its way through his mind and body and he wouldn’t have been good company, so he’d told the others he needed a walk and turned left when they turned right.
Jane, of course, had followed and argued. Right in the middle of J street at one a.m. Which wasn’t new. What was new, however, was the way Jane had almost convinced him that he didn’t need to hide away while he got a handle on the anger he usually kept so well in check, that Jane could take whatever he could dish out.
Cho had looked around to make sure the others were gone, then dragged Jane into the shadows of a van, and kissed him with a mouth he couldn’t gentle. Then he pushed him away and hurried back to the parking lot, afraid he’d give in and take Jane home with him anyway.
The next morning he’d shown up for work as if nothing had happened. Lisbon had given him a long, measuring look and asked for his report on the Sullivan case. Jane had ignored him until noon. It didn’t bother Cho. It was something they were both still working on—their unified inability to let someone else in when they needed it the most. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to change that part of him, wasn’t sure he even wanted to try.
Besides, Jane was just as bad, just as secretive.
The few times they’d ever argued with serious intent, it was always about boundaries, about secrets. Secrets such as Jane’s past, boundaries like expensive presents.
Carefully, because he didn’t want to dislodge the arm around his waist, Cho reached for the watch sitting next to the clock. He held it up—the face gleamed dully in the filtered glow from the riverside streetlights and he thought again that it really was an amazingly ugly watch—huge and gaudy, it looked absurd on his arm. He still couldn’t believe Jane had spent thirteen thousand dollars on it. He wouldn’t have paid twenty bucks for it.
But he’d never had a present like it before, never had anyone spend so much money on him. He’d told himself that Jane had spent more on Lisbon and Van Pelt. And Rigsby’s watch had cost the same thirteen thousand. But that hadn’t eased his mind and he wasn’t sure how he felt about it—even with his savings, he couldn’t afford to repay in kind. It made him uncomfortable. Made him feel a little like a gigolo or a prostitute. Which was another something he was confused about, because it was sort of sexy, imagining Jane as his sugar daddy.
‘Who’s your daddy?’
He snorted softly at the memory of Jane’s ridiculous words, then put the watch back on the nightstand and lay back down. But he’d moved too much and the body behind him stirred. He pushed back and the arm automatically tightened and a pair of warm lips kissed the top of his spine.
“What’s so funny?”
Jane’s usually butter-smooth voice was raspy and low and it sent a spontaneous curl of lust through Cho’s belly. He took Jane’s hand and pushed it down his chest to his stomach. “Nothing.”
“It’s the watch, isn’t it?” Jane kissed him again, only this time he used his teeth. “It’s not been a week, I can return—”
Still shivering from the bite, Cho rolled over and wrapped his leg around Jane’s hip, pulling him in, pressing as close as possible. Earlier, he’d refused to let Jane put on his pajamas, saying they’d just have to come off again sooner rather than later, but now Jane’s back and shoulders were cold. He reached over and pulled the covers up and kissed Jane once, then twice. “No, I like it. I want it.”
“I just wanted to get you something nice,” Jane mumbled into his mouth.
“Yeah, I know, it’s fine.”
“I bought your watch first, you know. I didn’t want to make it too obvious that I—”
He kissed the explanations off Jane’s lips. The minute Jane began to pass out the presents, he’d known there was something in the bag for him. Kind of like the Scarecrow or the Tin Man. Which would make Jane the Wizard. He cleared his throat of the immediate laughter and repeated, “It’s fine.”
“Then why are you awake at,” Jane pushed up so he could see the clock, “two-thirty in the morning? I’m supposed to be the insomniac, remember?”
“No reason. Just woke up.”
Jane grinned and even in the dim light, Cho could see the way his eyes shone. “To make love?”
He didn’t roll his eyes. He’d gotten used to Jane’s way of speaking and it didn’t embarrass him anymore. Much. “What do you think, Kreskin?”
Jane laughed. He rolled Cho to his back and reached up and over for the lamp. He always wanted the light on when they had sex. It was another thing Cho had gotten used to and now he couldn’t imagine it any other way, couldn’t imagine not tracking even the most minor of Jane’s expressions, the smallest movement of his body.
He moaned and arched up, stretching to kiss the pale skin over Jane’s ribs as Jane slid astride his waist.
He was flushed and smiling and his hair was all over the place and Cho thought what he always did in moments like this: that he’d never seen anyone or anything so beautiful.
Of course he never told Jane that, never told Jane that the last three months were turning out to be the happiest in his life. Never told Jane that if Minelli finally had enough and kicked Jane out the CBI for good, he’d probably end up quitting as well.
It was something he didn’t like to think about, the fact that he’d fallen for Jane somewhere between tolerating his antics and appreciating his skills. That it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that he’d do something monumentally stupid just to keep Jane in his life.
The thing was, he didn’t know if he was alone in all this, didn’t know if Jane felt anything other than superficial affection. He was pretty sure it wasn’t just casual, but Jane was such a mystery and too good at blindsiding his subjects. He came in, did his thing, and took off. And the victim was left reeling, left wondering what the hell just happened.
Cho was never a victim. Ever. But he’d realized weeks ago that when it came to Jane, all certainties, all bets were off. They hadn’t said the words, hadn’t gone any further than a somewhat regular pattern of every-other-nighters and still he wondered—
Jane’s smiled died. “What is it?”
But Cho was just as good at misdirection. He took Jane’s hand and tugged him down. “Nothing.” And to make sure, he nuzzled Jane’s head to the left so he could lick and bite his ear the way he loved.
Jane’s breath caught in his throat and he shuddered, pushing into Cho’s mouth, into his body. “Do it again,” he whispered, and when Cho bit harder, he thrust against Cho’s belly and added breathlessly, “Kreskin was a fake.”
Cho ran his hands down Jane’s back, down to his ass and shifted him a little to the right so their dicks met, heat for heat. “No, he wasn’t.”
“Yeah, he was.” Jane kissed the side of Cho’s neck, then the center of his chest as he began to move. “They’re all fakes.”
Cho loved this, loved having Jane over him, using his deceptive strength to drive them both crazy. But it was too good and like always, his brain lagged behind his dick and he forget himself, forget the boundaries he’d set for himself the day after they’d first had sex. Made love. “One of them has to be real,” he muttered, not really thinking of anything but, ‘there,’ and ‘yes.’ “It can’t all be lies.”
He heard what he’d said too late, and hoped Jane wouldn’t get it, would be so into what he was doing that he hadn’t heard or understood. But he was out of luck.
Because Jane stopped moving and pulled back, propped above Cho, every muscle in sharp relief. He stared down and his expression—always so volatile and fluid—changed again, went from surprised to a happiness so deep he fucking glowed.
He leaned down and gave Cho a firm kiss, open and slick and warm, then said, “No, it’s not all fake, not all lies.” He shifted to his side and ran his fingers over Cho’s face, slowly, delicately, like he was reading Braille or tracing a pattern only he could see.
Then he pushed up until he was sitting on his heels and reached for the watch. With the air of ceremony, he picked up Cho’s arm and gravely fastened the watch on his wrist. He touched the crystal and said without looking up, “I was thinking…”
Jane cleared his throat. His face had turned inwards again and Cho wondered if it was too late to stop whatever was coming—he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear it. “I was thinking I could use some help at my house. I was thinking it was time—”
Jane stopped and looked straight into Cho’s eyes and Cho caught his breath.
They hadn’t once talked about Jane’s former life as husband and father, not since things had changed between them. Cho knew his own restraint was due to cowardice and a reluctant superstition that if he called attention to his good luck, then fate would take it all away.
He didn’t know what Jane thought. Shame over his betrayal? Anger that his life’s path had been altered, maybe beyond repair?
Whatever it was, Jane had stayed hidden behind his sunny smiles, and Cho, too fucking chickenshit to do anything else, had let him. And damnit, if he hadn’t been so paralyzed by his own doubt and fear he would have recognized the gift for what it was.
Because even though Jane’s face had turned carefully blank, in the back of his eyes lurked something that looked a lot like entreaty, a little like love.
But it was no time for self-recrimination—he just swallowed the anger at his own lack of insight and ran his hands up Jane’s thighs, deliberately firm. “Yeah, okay. Whenever, man. We can go tomorrow, if you want.”
Jane’s eyes lightened but Cho didn’t give him a chance to respond. He pulled him down and—carefully holding his arm so the watch wouldn’t scratch Jane’s back—kissed him again and again.