Summary: Van Pelt knows what she wants, but wanting isn't getting. Post episode 2x01.
Characters: Jane, Van Pelt
Van Pelt stood in the CBI foyer and bid the Dunnigers goodbye with a sympathetic smile for the grieving family. She waited until their car pulled away before returning to the office. Lisbon passed her in the hall, talking on her cell phone. Van Pelt paused, waiting for an indication if there was a new case, but Lisbon's laugh at something the caller said and her dismissive wave to Van Pelt meant they were done for the day. Van Pelt's mood lightened immediately.
Jane was also on the phone when she walked back into the office, but he quickly ended the call with a murmur of thanks and tucked a piece of paper into his pocket. He sat back on the couch and smiled to himself.
Van Pelt felt herself smiling back automatically, then the expression faded as she wondered if he'd been talking to Lisbon. Maybe they were planning to meet up, careful to make their plans when she was leaving the office so no one caught them talking. Van Pelt cursed her own imagination – in an instant she pictured Jane and Lisbon together. She tried to dismiss the thought, but she couldn't ignore the way Jane and Lisbon had been interacting that day, or the hug he'd given her when they were in Bayshore. Van Pelt had watched them from a distance, embarrassed that she'd caught them and disconcerted that she hadn't been able to turn away.
She was annoyed that she felt anything at all when it came to Jane, but there was no denying it. It unsettled her. Just as Jane's dismissive treatment of her investigative work unsettled her. Just as the way he was looking at her now from the couch as she struggled to keep her emotions from view.
"Making plans?" she asked, determined to act normally.
"You could say that," Jane replied mysteriously, but he made no move to leave.
Giving her a head start, thought Van Pelt, then forced herself to abandon it. She was just thankful that Jane was still there, that he'd decided to stay with the CBI. She admitted that she hated the idea of him not being part of the team. It had been impossible to ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach when he'd started packing up his desk. But Jane was staying, and she decided it was enough to be grateful for. Anything else was just wishful thinking.
Van Pelt logged off her computer, satisfied she had done good work on the case. She was getting better at her job, despite still managing to annoy Lisbon with her meticulous preparation whenever they had to travel for a case. She was getting more confident, and had handled interviewing Kessie Dunninger without Cho or Rigsby as back up. She was becoming more accepted, and Van Pelt liked it.
"Heading out?" Jane asked, and Van Pelt was surprised to see he was only a few feet from her. Damn guy moved like a cat.
"I am," she replied, keeping her voice even. "I had a good day."
"Good for you." A smile played on his lips and he reached out and tugged lightly on the end of her long red hair before walking off.
Van Pelt frowned. She couldn't figure him out, didn't think she ever would. But that didn't stop her from wanting to try, fool's errand though she knew it to be.
"Do you need a ride?" she asked without thinking, her voice hitching in her throat. Jane turned to stare at her.
"Home… a ride home," she added quickly and with only the faintest of blushes.
His smile widened briefly, then he looked down at his feet. "I thought we already had this conversation."
"You never talk about anything, not really," she said boldly. "And you know it."
Jane gave a nod of his head in acknowledgment. "Maybe I underestimated those deduction skills of yours."
Van Pelt smiled but it was tinged with sadness. He was never going to let her in. They both knew it. So why did she keep hoping he would?
She collected her purse, figuring a hasty escape was warranted. There was nothing else to be said. But then Jane caught her arm with a soft touch as she passed him. Van Pelt frowned again.
"I'm not a victim, Grace," Jane said, a propos of nothing.
"Never mind." He wasn't looking at his feet anymore, instead he was studying her intently. She would have given anything to be able to read his mind, but that was Jane's department.
"Let's go," he said, not breaking his stare.
Van Pelt could barely speak from surprise. Though she made the initial offer she hadn't expect him to accept it. "Really?"
"I know a place," said Jane. He held out his arm to urge her along.
Van Pelt's steps were hesitant for a few paces as she second-guessed what was happening. It felt real, but for all she knew she was imagining it. Then Jane's hand was on the small of her back and she suppressed her doubts.
They crossed the car park in silence, heading for Jane's car rather than hers. He opened the door for her and they shared a quick smile as he closed it. In that moment she scanned his face for any regret but he was too good at hiding his feelings. He took his seat behind the wheel and smoothly maneuvered the Citroën through the CBI lot.
Neither of them noticed Cho stopped in the shadow cast by the car park lights. As his eyes followed the car as it exited the gates, he thoughtfully tossed his keys in his hand a few times before continuing to his own vehicle.
0 0 0 0
"What do you think?" Jane asked.
"It's beautiful," Van Pelt replied.
Jane took a seat on the grass, his eyes not wavering from the view of the Sacramento Marina lights reflected on the river. When she hadn't followed suit after a few moments he patted the ground next to him. With a resigned smirk she sat down, silently reminding herself she should have known better.
They watched the water for a while, neither of them speaking. Van Pelt decided to ignore the disappointment she felt and to just enjoy the peace and quiet and the last of the sunset as it dipped behind the trees… and the fact that Jane was breathing deeply beside her, calm and contented. She let her guard down with a measure of relief. It was exhausting staying alert for any Jane trickery all of the time. When he was like this she knew he would leave the cutting observations alone.
"I've never been down here before," she murmured. "Another one of your secret places?"
"Not so secret," he said as they heard laughter coming from a group around the barbeque area.
Another companionable silence fell.
"I've never brought anyone here," Jane said after a while. His gaze remained on the view.
It was enough for Van Pelt. She leaned back on her hands and smiled.