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Three Firsts

~~~~~~~~~

Jane

~~~~~~~~~

 

One

 

The first time Patrick Jane met Kimball Cho, he forgot him fifteen minutes later.

Not because Cho wasn’t worth remembering, Jane told himself later on. Not because he hadn’t felt a little… something in the pit of his stomach. Because he had an excellent memory, had long made a good living off it. Besides, Cho wasn’t someone anyone would likely forget.

Not unless they had a concussion because they’d been at a deserted dockyard attempting to trick a suspect into admitting he’d killed his wife, then tripped on a broken plank and knocked themselves out.

Which he’d done, apparently.

Not for very long, but long enough to wake up in an emergency room surrounded by beeping machines with no idea of how he got there.

He ran his hand over his head and found a strip of gauze on his temple and a knot on his skull that was about the size of a golf ball. He struggled to sit up, then realized he couldn’t and fell back against the pillow. He waited for the room to stop spinning, thinking that it felt as if his head were disconnected from his body, one wanting to go this way, the other wanting to go that way. He was pretty sure that if he moved too fast, a part of him might get stuck in the previous moment and keep going.

He closed his eyes because that didn’t make sense, and he usually made sense, if only to himself. The thought made him smile and he was almost asleep again when a soft noise from the right roused him. He turned his head carefully.

A man was sitting next to the bed, half-hidden by a robotic-looking diagnostic machine. He was maybe thirty-five or -six, Asian, probably Korean, short, good looking and was reading a thick paperback.

“Hello?” Jane asked tentatively.

The man looked up. He met Jane’s glance with dark, blank eyes. He didn’t close the book. “How do you feel?”

Jane added, self-possessed, and nice hands, nice hair, to his character list. “Fine.”

“Good.”

“How is it?” Jane nodded to the book.

“Bad,” the man answered without looking down.

“It’s been on the New York Times best-seller list for the last month.”

“Yes.”

“Which gives it a certain cache, no?”

“If you rely on those sorts of things.”

“You don’t?”

“No.”

“You’re with the CBI?”

“Yes.”

Jane wanted to laugh out loud because talking to the agent was like throwing a penny in a pond and having it land with no splash. Delightful. He turned on his side and tucked his hand under his head. Pain spread across the back of his skull and darkened his vision for a moment, but he just murmured thoughtfully, “I’d love to see you in action.”

“Meaning?”

“You know, in the interrogation room or whatever you call it.”

“Interview rooms.”

Jane nodded, “I bet you’re terrific. In the interview rooms, I mean. How long does it usually take a suspect to crack?”

“Depends.”

“On?”

“The suspect.”

Funny man. “But you must have averaged the results, right?”

The agent paused and cocked his head. Something flickered behind his eyes and Jane felt like crowing in victory at the unsaid answer. “Right?” he asked again and this time, the agent nodded shortly.

“Three minutes,” he finally said.

“Three minutes?”

“The average. If I can’t make them sweat within three minutes, I probably won’t. In that session, at least.”

Jane nodded, imagining the scene. The agent had a voice like honey, dark and sedate, completely in keeping with his demeanor. If he could manage a soothing smile, he’d do amazingly well in Jane’s line of work. Former line of work, he reminded himself. “I bet I could make most crack under two.”

The agent sat up straighter and Jane added, prickly, defensive, but all the agent said was, “Like you were doing back at the shipyard?”

Jane frowned. The evening was fuzzy—all he could remember were bits and pieces.

The agent cocked his head. “You don’t remember?”

“Some, not all.”

“You were taunting the suspect, Barnes. You tripped and then he hit you.”

“I’ve found that most suspects react favorably to needling and aggravation.”

Cho glanced at the wound on Jane’s temple and said evenly, “And how’s that working for you?”

For the first time Jane felt a measure of irritation. He rubbed his cheek on his hand, trying to rub away the ache in the back of his head that was only getting worse. “Fine.”

The agent relaxed back in the chair. His face lightened and he almost smiled. As if he read Jane as well as Jane read him. Preposterous.

“Thought so,” the agent murmured.

Jane shrugged, or tried to. “What’s your name?”

“Agent Cho.”

“You’re first name is, ‘Agent’? Your parents must’ve really loved you.”

And, yeah, that got through as well. Agent Cho pressed his lips together and said, “Don’t be an ass.”

“I’m not being an ass, I just want to know your first name.”

“Why?”

Jane pushed up and leaned over, expecting the instinctive retreat. It didn’t happen. After a short pause, the agent copied his move, only he leaned into Jane’s space, not away.

So odd. And even though he didn’t have to force his body not to react because those responses had been drilled out of him long ago, it was still— “Why won’t you tell me your name?”

“Why do you want to know?”

He frowned, intending to say something especially sarcastic, but the ache he’d been trying to ignore became a hammer and he slipped over the edge of the bed, knowing he was going to fall, unable to stop himself.

The agent dropped the book and jumped up. He caught Jane’s shoulders and eased him gently back. “Idiot,” he said softly. He reached up and pushed the call button, already looking around for the nurse.

Jane grabbed the agent’s sleeve and said, “Wait.” This close, he could smell aftershave—something subtly sweet.

The agent looked down. His expression had opened up and Jane could finally read him. Concern, curiosity, suspicion. “Yes?”

“Why’re you here?”

“Lisbon was worried.”

That made sense and then it didn’t make sense. Jane wanted to say that, but his thoughts scattered under a wave of exhaustion. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.

***

“Feeling better?”

Jane glanced up from his book. He smiled. Theresa Lisbon was peering around the edge of the door, looking like one of those child actors from the forties—all freckles and winsome grins. Gamine, was what they used to call it. He set the book down and waved her in. “Hey there. Yes thanks, much.”

She had a pot of flowers with her and she held it up, looking around.

“Just put it over there.” He nodded to the window ledge. Lisbon didn’t say anything about the fact that the shelf was bare of any other gifts or cards.

He didn’t know her very well. They’d met for a moment when he’d snuck in to convince Director Minelli to at least listen to his proposal on the Red John case. Minelli had rejected the offer, of course, but Jane had ways around the word, ‘no,’ and had been trying one of them out. Lisbon came in on the tail end of Minelli’s third refusal, something patronizing about, ‘not letting private citizens become involved in a case, no matter how talented.’

Jane had smiled politely and turned to go, only then seeing the small figure at the door. Minelli introduced them, then told Jane to get out. He left, winking at Lisbon as he passed by. She blushed and grinned involuntarily and that’s when he knew he had to work with her, and her alone.

He smiled at the memory, at the way she was turning the plant this way and that, as if it mattered. It would be dead in a week. He wasn’t very good with living things, but he wasn’t about to tell her that. It was a nice gesture and he had a feeling she didn’t let herself make nice gestures all too often. “Leave that alone and come sit with me.” He nodded to the other bed.

She sat and looked around. “Did you drive the other patients out or are you just lucky?”

Jane grinned. “Just lucky.”

She crossed her legs and leaned back on her hands. In any other women, he’d read the pose as a sexual invite, but Lisbon’s, ‘don’t touch me’ signals were large and very, very bright. “Minelli’s pretty pissed.”

“About me solving the crime?”

She snorted. He grinned. “About you interfering with the investigation.”

“But I got Barnes to confess, right? He’s behind bars?”

Lisbon rolled her eyes. “Yes, but Minelli has this crazy idea that he’s in charge of the department, that he’s the one that calls the shots. I’m trying to convince him that you’ll be useful, but so far—” She shrugged.

Jane waved away her doubts. “Don’t worry about it. By this time next week, you and I will be working together.”

She raised her eyebrows, clearly not convinced, then straightened up and jerked her chin to the book on Jane’s lap. “Is that any good?”

He picked it up and looked at the cover. “Not really. I just started it. I don’t even know where it came from.”

“Cho left it here. He’s been too busy to come back for it.”

“Who’s Cho?”

Lisbon raised her eyebrows again. “Cho? Agent Cho? You met him the other night.”

Jane frowned. The only thing he remembered was James Barnes and the dock. And a nurse who’s bedside manner changed when he told her not to quit and marry her fiancé like she was planning.

Lisbon cocked her head. “You two had a conversation.”

“About?”

“I don’t know. Stuff.”

“Stuff?”

“You know.” Lisbon waved her hands back and forth. “Stuff.”

Jane didn’t ask her if she was sure. She was as honestly confused as he.

But then her confusion changed to humor and she stood up. “Boy, will Cho be mad that you forgot him. You made a big impression on him.”

“Which is a good thing, right?”

She shook her head and went to the door. “Not the way he tells it. I’ll see you in a few days. Wait for me to call before you come in.” And she was gone with another broad grin.

Jane stared after her for a moment. Try as he might, he couldn’t remember any Agent Cho. He picked up the book and found his place, thinking with a certain smug satisfaction that if this Cho’s taste in books were any indication of his intelligence, there would be little point in making his acquaintance.

 

Two

The last time Jane tried to hypnotize Cho was, not coincidentally, the first time he saw Cho truly angry.

It was a month or so after he’d been officially hired by Minelli. By then, he’d gotten into the rhythm of the CBI, the ins and outs of each day. It was boring, mostly, and even though he tried to liven things up now and then, he spent more time on the department’s couch than off.

He was also still feeling his way around the department, around Lisbon and Cho, and that wasn’t boring in the least.

Lisbon was an open book—unguarded and direct, the pain she thought well hidden almost as transparent. He read her in five minutes and had toyed with the idea of hypnotizing her into revealing her secret, but, in the end, had held off. She was his pipeline to Red John and the CBI. Besides, he liked her, probably even loved her because she was fairly easy to love, and even though he tested her authority day after day, he respected her boundaries.

Now, Cho, on the other hand…

Cho was work and Jane dove into him like he was diving into a particularly good vermouth—sweet and thick and wonderfully complex.

Intelligent, sympathetic, with an unusually keen sense of himself, Cho hid it all under a facade of stone. He was also perceptive and astute and Jane loved being in the glass box, loved watching Cho work a suspect. It was fun, almost sexy, and after the interview was over, he’d follow Cho to the bull pen and sit nearby, watching and wondering.

He wondered what made Cho so closed off and unflappable, wondered if it was strictly nature vs. nurture, or a rough mixture of both. Family was an influence, yes; life, maybe; the military, definitely.

But that wasn’t unusual for a second-generation American and it didn’t explain all the things Jane wanted explained. He tried some basic techniques designed to create a sense of space and comfort between them but when that yielded nothing he decided to go deeper. He needed to find the crack that would lead to the fissure that would—he was sure—lead to the treasure.

The first time he tried to hypnotize Cho, he had to wait four long days for the perfect moment. He decided on the CBI, where Cho felt safest, and waited until early evening when the light was long and golden. He sat behind Cho where the new guy sat, facing away at an angle because Cho would pick up on it too quickly if he looked at him directly and began to tap slowly on the metal surface of the new guy’s lamp with his pen. Ting. Ting. Ting…

Nothing happened, but he didn’t give up. He continued for a moment, hoping for at least a twitch when Cho’s cell rang.

“Yes?” Cho listened, then spoke a few words and shut the phone. He turned to Jane. “It’s Lisbon. We’ve got a new case. You want to come?”

His face and demeanor were completely normal. Jane sighed. “Sure.”

The second time Jane tried to hypnotize Cho, he set it up more carefully. He waited two weeks for Lisbon and new guy, Rigsby, to be out of the office at the same time. He’d already decided to try an outdoor location, thinking that it was being in the office, surrounded by a restricted environment that had made Cho so unreachable.

So, he asked Cho to lunch and when he was turned down, he wheedled. Which wasn’t a good foot to start off on, but he had a limited amount of time and was getting frustrated.

Cho finally agreed and they went outside to eat the sandwiches Jane had bought earlier. This time he used the noon sun and his watch, tipping it back and forth so that the face caught the light. The results were as disappointing as the first. Cho ate, he listened to Jane’s monotone babbling and when he was done, he calmly picked up his book and opened it up.

Jane, watch still in hand, gave up the battle. But not the war, he told himself, as he absent-mindedly watched a group of women walk by, not the war.

He had to wait another few days for Lisbon’s absence, but in the end, all his planning was for naught. The third time he tried to hypnotize Cho was under the guise of hypnotizing a suspect in a double homicide. Two birds with one stone was his thinking as he sat down next to the middle-aged women and gave Cho a look that said, ‘here we go.’ It took him two minutes to bring her under but he kept turning the bullet this way and that because he was pretty sure Cho would take at least seven. After nine, he glanced up.

And yeah, Cho had been affected, but not in the way Jane had hoped. For the first time, the shutters were gone from Cho’s eyes and his expression was crystal clear. He was angry. So angry he was almost snarling. He leaned close and whispered, “You know, that third times a charm crap isn’t going to work, not with me. So cut it the fuck out.

Jane froze a minute before his training kicked in. He ran a quick check of his own reactions and was stunned to find that even though his heart was racing, he wasn’t afraid. Cho leaned closer, fierce and beautiful, and when he grabbed the table as if he was going to leap across and eat Jane alive, all Jane could think was, ‘Yes.’ And, ‘please.’

He made the mistake of a startled smile and Cho shoved away from the table with a muttered, “Bring her out of it.” He left the room, turning right instead of left.

When Jane came out, Agent Michaels was sitting on Cho’s desk, waiting to take his turn at getting the woman to confess. He gleefully informed Jane that Cho had gone for a walk and if Jane knew what was good for him, he’d leave before Cho came back.

So Jane went home, tired and still stunned by the turn of events, mentally scripting the apologies he was going to need.

 

 

Three

 

The first time Jane had sex with Cho, it was as if by accident, serendipity, fate—whatever you wanted to call it. Jane preferred serendipity because it wasn’t an accident and the idea of fate scared the hell out of him.

Pressed flat on Cho’s couch, half on, half off, he really hadn’t expected Cho to react so quickly at that first attempt at a kiss and it felt like something more than luck, maybe more like fate. Maybe all his efforts at getting into Cho’s brain were simply so he could have this

Still, he was good at making lemonade out of lemons and he happily gave up his hunt for Cho’s soul and gave himself up to Cho’s hands.

And mouth and tongue, because he wouldn’t have thought that Cho had it in him, the ability to turn his body on, his brain to mush.

Afterwards, with his new blue shirt torn open because Cho was too impatient to deal with buttons, Jane was surprised to find himself at a loss. Cho lay on him, face buried in his chest, hardly breathing, and Jane felt a tug deep inside his rib cage that he hadn’t felt in a long time. And, even more surprising, instead of taking advantage of Cho’s vulnerability like he normally would because post-sex confessions were always easy, he just held on, puzzled by his own lack of follow-through.

That first night was nothing more than a quick fumble on the couch—he left soon after and that should have been the end of it. But the next day Lisbon sent Cho and Rigsby to San Francisco for a three-day conference on up-coming weapons technology.

Jane went to work as usual and found himself strangely distracted. They had no cases and he couldn’t seem to sit still. He wandered around the office, trying out all the chairs, annoying people when he could, touching things at random.

He knew the reason for his distraction, knew he was a victim of that the old adage of distance and the heart, but it didn’t change the fact that he missed Cho like hell and was more than a little disturbed by it.

Lisbon said nothing for the first few days. She stayed at her desk, occasionally watching him as he roamed from place to place. On the afternoon of the third day she called him into her office and told him to ‘either stay on your couch or go home, Jane, because you’re driving me crazy. And please stop bothering Michaels because the last thing I need is another showdown with that blowhard.’

Jane went to his couch and lay down. But he couldn’t find a comfortable position—from back to sides to back again until he thought he was going to drive himself crazy.

He was staring at nothing, wondering where Cho was, if he was bored or having fun, if there was any chance they’d have sex again, when Rigsby and Cho came strolling through the door.

Lisbon hurried out and welcomed them with enthusiastic relief, which Jane found more than a little insulting. He hadn’t been that much of a bother.

He didn’t get up from the couch, though. It was manipulative and rude but he wanted to see if Cho missed him as much as he missed Cho.

When there was a break in the conversation, Cho looked over a little too casually and they exchanged a brief glance.

Jane didn’t have to guess what they’d be doing later when they finally made it to Cho’s place. He settled back into the couch, laced his fingers behind his head and smiled up at the ceiling.

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~

Kimball Cho

~~~~~~~~~

 

One

 

The first time Kimball Cho saved Patrick Jane’s life, he didn’t mean to.

He was really after a suspect and Jane got in the way. And when all was said and done, he probably still would have stopped what he was doing, would still have pushed Jane out of the path of the on-coming van.

At least that’s what he told himself later on that afternoon at the office, when he had a moment to decompress.

At the time he was just angry. Angry because the suspect looked up at the wrong moment, saw Lisbon and took off running. Angry because it was raining and when Lisbon shouted for him to go right, he slipped on the pavement and lost a few crucial seconds. Angry because Jane, frozen like a damp deer in the middle of the overpass, let the perp run right by him.

But Cho was most angry at himself because when he saw the white van barreling down the road, he didn’t even think about the choice between Jane and the perp. He just changed direction and slammed into Jane so hard they landed in a heap, feet away, skidding on the wet road, almost hitting the curb. And after he made sure Jane was all right, he pushed to his feet and took off again.

But it was too late. The suspect had gotten clean away, up the street, over a six-foot high chain-link fence and down an embankment. Cho growled a ‘Fuck it,’ and did his best. He followed over the fence and down the embankment, but lost the suspect at the next street.

He put his hands on his hips and swore again, this time at Jane, and began the climb back up. When he got to the overpass, swiping at the road rash on his elbows, the tear in his new pants, he was furious. Luckily, Lisbon was there. She was examining Jane’s elbow where his coat and shirtsleeve was torn through to the skin. And Cho probably would have been okay, even after all that, but Jane looked up just then and called out cheerfully as if nothing had happened.

Cho ground his teeth and kept going.

So, the suspect managed to slip away that day, but they got him the next. Without Jane’s help, he told Lisbon quietly, emphatically, when he turned in his report.Trying to convince her that they didn’t need a psychic’s help. He went back to his desk and glared at the oblivious Jane, lying on the couch with his hands folded contentedly over his stomach.

The days after were calm and Cho’s anger evened out, but he still wasn’t sure how he felt about the new addition, wasn’t sure what the hell Lisbon thought she was doing, bringing in a third, especially a person who’d spent most of his life lying to people. He never questioned her decision—he respected her far too much for that—and he held his thoughts in reserve, waiting for that moment when Jane finally screwed up and got himself hurt or killed.

Jane didn’t, however, get himself hurt or killed, and the third time Cho saved his life it was still happenstance, but by then he couldn’t honestly say he wouldn’t have done it by intent.

Because by then, Jane had helped solve five cases and Cho’s initial distrust had gradually shifted to a very grudging respect. He privately conceded that no matter how much Jane pissed him off personally, he did have a knack of seeing deeper, of seeing more.

The thing was—he decided late one night as he idly watched as Jane needled Michaels and Walker into a war of words—was that Jane couldn’t rest at being good—he had to crow about it like a little kid. He loved getting one over on someone, and he loved making sure they knew it. He was rude, pushy, vain, and obnoxious. But never, Cho realized with a start, never with Lisbon, or himself for that matter. It was odd, now that he thought about it.

Jane might poke at Lisbon’s boundaries and he might get in Cho’s face about some things, but he never mocked and was never cruel. Unlike now, with Michaels. He didn’t know why, but Michaels hated Jane. Probably because he had a face like a washed-out boxer and Jane had a face like a—

Cho shifted in his chair and looked around. No one was paying any attention to him. Still, those kinds of thoughts weren’t for work. They were for late at night when he was on his own. And the blinds were closed.

An angry dismay coursed through his body and he stood, needing a diversion. He tried to make himself leave the bullpen to go get a cup of tea, but just then Michaels leaned towards Jane in a less than friendly manner and he found himself at Jane’s back. Michaels clenched his fists and stepped forward, but Jane, the idiot, didn’t retreat.

For a brief second it was ugly and Cho was already picturing the report he’d have to make when Michaels glanced at him.

He hesitated, then stormed off, almost running Walker over in the process. Jane turned and gave Cho a sunny smile as if to say, ‘Wasn’t that fun?’ then patted Cho on the shoulder and returned to his couch. Like he’d expected nothing less from Cho. Like they were friends.

So he found himself watching out for Jane, making sure that the peripheral abuse from the other detectives stayed just that—peripheral. That the law officials they met in the course of their investigations gave Jane at least the courtesy of listening to his theories before shutting him down.

And when they were out in the field and Jane was doing his thing, Cho waited to intervene, waited for that moment when Jane’s words and tone changed from bland remarks to challenging statements and the accused lashed out. It was an ongoing process—Jane couldn’t get in his head that mocking confrontation rarely got a suspect to admit to the crime.

It wasn’t something Cho wanted to do, this bodyguard thing, but it was something he couldn’t seem to help. Like breathing or thinking.

And when things changed between them, it was again something he didn’t want, but couldn’t seem to help.

Like breathing or thinking.

 

 

Two

 

The first time—the only time—Jane tried to hypnotize Cho, he didn’t speak to Jane for five days.

He broke his silence only because they had a new case and Lisbon asked him gently if he would please do it for her. Because Rigsby, brand new to the unit and already fitting in well, told him that, ‘Jane’s a nut, but a good nut so give him a break, man.’ 

And because Jane apologized three times that same day and once later that night after everyone had gone home and they were alone together. Jane’s apologies had been said with varying degrees of sincerity, but it was the last one that he really believed. With a voice gone hoarse and soft, Jane had stood in front of his desk and promised never, ever, ever, to do anything like that again without his express consent.

He would have said more, but Cho broke in and suggested they go for a drink. It was their first time out without the others and he spent the next hour trying to ignore the way the dim bar light colored Jane’s eyes more grey than blue-green, ignore the way Jane’s easy smile made his stomach ache.

All the same, he said to himself more than a few times in the next week, he would have gone to his grave, never speaking to Jane again if it wasn’t for Lisbon.

And then he’d admit—each and every time—that, no, he’d have given in, sooner or later.

 

 

Three

 

The first time Jane said, “I want to fuck you,” Cho was so shocked that his mouth fell open. Literally.

Because you just didn’t pull that shit in the middle of a potential crime scene, surrounded by a couple hundred people and your own team. You saved that kind of announcement for the dark, behind a locked door, and hopefully, after a few drinks.

Never mind that the warehouse slash nightclub was so crowded, dark, and noisy, that no one could hear Jane. Never mind that the low catwalk was dangerously overcrowded with dancers and they obviously weren’t paying attention to anyone but themselves.

And never mind that he’d been waiting for this for a while only he didn’t know it, not until the words came tumbling out of Jane’s mouth.

‘I want to fuck you.’

He cleared his throat, shifted from foot to foot, then re-focused on his job: surveilling the scene. On the other side of the center of gyrating bodies, Van Pelt and Rigsby were doing their own recon, scanning the crowd for their suspect. Lisbon was around somewhere but she’d disappeared into the crowd a while ago and he couldn’t find her.

Jane leaned in again, pressing his shoulder against Cho’s back. “I’m serious.”

He started to sweat. “Go away.”

Jane ignored him. His hands were in his pockets and he was rocking in time to the heavy bass, eyes half closed. He said slowly, slurring his words like he was on drugs, “It’s the music, the lights—everything designed to strip away human inhibitions and control. It makes you want to forget about tomorrow, makes you want to do something—”

Jane paused and he couldn’t help it. His initial shock had melted under the heat of his desire and he leaned back maybe a centimeter and asked, “Something what?”

“I don’t know, something crazy.”

He straightened up. “Flattering.”

“You know what I mean.”

“No.”

“Yes you do.” Jane elbowed his side gently. “You and Lisbon, you’re both alike. You spend your days dealing with a lot of bad people and then you go for a run or go home. Occasionally—only occasionally mind you—you let yourselves loose and have some fun.”

Cho turned with an anger that was surprisingly extreme, whispering, “Are you saying you want to have sex with Lisbon or maybe the both of us, because I gotta tell you—”

Jane laughed quietly, then took his hands out of his pockets and held them up in surrender. “No, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.” He stopped smiling and leaned in again, practically breathing in Cho’s ear, “But I am serious—it’ll be fun.”

Cho turned back to the crowd and muttered, “You’re something else, you know that?”

What he really wanted to say was, ‘What the fuck is up with you?’ and a little more plaintively, ‘Why now?’ because they’d slept together as if by accident each time and this was completely different. Intent, on-target, no-turning-back sex.

Whatever Jane would have answered was broken by a surge in the crowd—they shoved into him, he shoved into Cho. They both stumbled forward until the hard metal bar stopped them, pressing into Cho’s stomach. The pain was minor, but it cleared his head. This conversation, whatever the hell it was, was happening at the wrong time, in the wrong place. He pushed Jane back and said stiffly, “I don’t see Paulson.”

Jane hesitated, then stepped around him until they were shoulder to shoulder. He looked out over the crowd. It was only a moment before he pointed to the left. “He’s behind that divider. And there’s Lisbon, over there.” He smiled cheerfully and waved, gesturing exaggeratingly to the left with both hands.

Even from the distance, Cho saw Lisbon roll her eyes as she began to move through the crowd. He watched her progress, then said, “C’mon,” and turned to the stairs. They’d meet up near the stage, boxing Paulson in between.

He was halfway across the catwalk when he felt a hand on his arm. He turned reluctantly.

Jane was watching him carefully, steadily, and Cho froze. He’d always wondered how people managed to let themselves be seduced by Jane’s tricks. He didn’t wonder anymore.

Because Jane’s eyes were so dilated the blue was only a thin band surrounding the dark, and he was curving into Cho, bending his body as if he was protecting, offering. Gazing as if he and Cho were the only two people in this vast, overcrowded place, as if Cho was the most fascinating person on the planet. As if Jane was there, only for him.

It was a kind of power Cho couldn’t hope to fight—he told his feet to move and wasn’t surprised when they didn’t.

Jane raised one eyebrow as if he knew what Cho was thinking and feeling, then murmured, “We’re not done here. You know that, right?”

He swallowed. He wanted to say, ‘Don’t do this to me,’ and ‘I’m not ready for you,’ but just nodded and agreed, “All right. Later.”

 

***

 

Later…

Cho lay pressed into the unfamiliar bed with Jane heavy and hot on his back, wondering how someone so thin could weigh so much. Muscles, probably, and a complete enervation because Jane had just spent the last hour fucking him and that had to be exhausting.

Well, not the entire an hour—in reality it was probably more like ten or twelve minutes. But those ten or twelve minutes were preceded by a lot of touching and stroking and even more trial and error. Neither knew what the hell they were doing, but it turned out it didn’t matter. Jane was creative and persevering. And he had really good fingers.

Cho grinned into the pillow. He felt loose and disconnected—if he had to chase down a perp or even get up, he probably couldn’t. It was a new experience, to feel so completely within in his own body, to feel so completely used—

His sexual experiences had always been utilitarian and run-of-the-mill. He always insisted on the girl’s place and the entire thing was usually finished in fifteen or twenty minutes. After that, if politeness mandated, he’d stay for a cup of coffee or watch the news. And he never, ever stayed the night.

He closed his eyes, thinking on the then and now. He’d been right—even with his training, his abilities, he’d been in no way prepared for Jane. He hadn’t been prepared to be invaded and examined so minutely, to have every part of his body kissed and touched. Christ, even the souls of his feet, and just the thought made him shiver.

He waited for Jane to wake up—he always jumped at the slightest movement or noise, but he was as out of it. Which was gratifying, and kind of reassuring, because Cho had been so overwhelmed, he couldn’t actually remember the last few minutes and he didn’t want to be alone in that.

He hoped he hadn’t done anything stupid like cry out or say something he’d regret because that would just suck so—

“Hmm? What?” Jane stirred.

“Nothing.”

Jane smiled—Cho actually felt it—and then he kissed the back of his ear. “Hey.”

His voice was sleepy and sexy and Cho, caught by lust again, only managed a gruff, “Hello.”

Jane snorted and nuzzled his skin, rubbing as if marking him somehow, like an animal. “Oh, you sweet talker, you.”

Cho laughed, but it came out as more of a grunt—Jane really was too heavy.

“Oops, sorry. Let me—” He slid off and helped Cho turned over. They lay there, both on their sides, staring at each other.

Jane generally looked happy, even with his past, but now he was looking ridiculously happy. His face was flushed, his curls were dark with sweat, his hands lay lax and open. “Stay the night?”

Cho didn’t answer. He wanted to. Wanted to reach across and trace Jane’s lips, wanted kiss him hard and not stop. He didn’t. Even though he was still in the ‘getting fucked by Jane,’ continuum, he had a here-and-now choice. He could leave quietly and write the night off as a pleasant incident and yes, maybe they’d do it again in a few weeks, but it meant nothing, really, because by then he’d have made himself forget how much he’d loved getting fucked by Jane. Or…

He ran his finger over Jane’s lower lip and watched as Jane closed his happy eyes, humming again.

He ordered himself not to find it sexy and charming, this cat thing of Jane’s—‘You will not, you will not…’ but just then, Jane pushed into his hand and he realized it was too late. Months too late.

He smiled helplessly and leaned in to replace fingers with lips, already charmed.

 

 

fin.