Summary: Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Post episode 2x11.
Characters: Jane, Van Pelt
Van Pelt hummed quietly to herself as she made a pot of coffee in the CBI kitchen. It was late and she knew she probably wouldn’t drink any of it herself, but she wasn’t ready to leave the office yet and it gave her something to do.
As she inhaled the rich aroma of the beans she heard Lisbon’s voice shouting a half-heartedly stern retort. She only spoke that way to Jane. They were back. Van Pelt’s immediate instinct was to return to her desk. She knew Jane would have taken up his position on the couch, settling in for a nap until the rest of them left for the night. She often wondered where he ended up after that, couldn’t help but be curious when he was so silent about his personal life. With all of them, even with her. With a wry smile Van Pelt reminded herself that he thought of her no differently from the others, even if they…
Jane’s low murmur interrupted her thoughts and she blushed in case he actually could read minds and saw what she had been thinking about. But he just smiled at her in an unassuming way – warm, friendly, frustratingly charming.
“Fresh pot?” he asked.
“Huh?” Van Pelt, annoyed at herself, recovered quickly. “Yeah, I just made it.”
She stood back and watched as he poured himself a cup. She refused one for herself when he offered.
“How’s the lovely Willa?” Jane said, not looking at her.
“Rigsby and Cho are talking to her now. Interrogation Room 1 if you want to sit in.”
Jane eased back against the counter. “I think I’ve had my fill of high school drama for today.”
He took a sip of his coffee and let out a satisfied sigh, seemingly ignorant of the fact that Van Pelt was staring at him.
“Speaking of drama, I heard about your little threat,” she said, trying to sound angry but failing. “Nice.”
“Sometimes we just need a push.” Jane’s eyes twinkled without a hint of remorse. “It worked, didn’t it? Rigsby played the part to perfection, a murderer was caught. All in all a good day.”
“You threatened to tell Lisbon about us. About Rigsby and me.”
“Eh,” he shrugged. “He knew I wouldn’t have gone through with it.”
“No, he didn’t,” she retorted, but still unable to successfully chastise him.
Jane held up a hand in defeat nonetheless. “I’ll apologize in the morning.”
“That’s very big of you.”
They shared a smile then, the expression fading from Van Pelt’s lips as soon as she met his eyes.
“I know you won’t tell the boss,” she said quietly after a long silence.
“Well,” Jane replied thoughtfully, “I might. I can be unpredictable like that.”
She laughed, an eruption of sound that surprised him. His expression queried her.
“You’re not as unpredictable as you think, Patrick Jane.”
“Is that right, Grace Van Pelt?” he said, amused.
She grew solemn. “You’re also not a hypocrite. You’re not going to tell anyone about Rigsby and me.”
Jane looked down at his cup of coffee to avoid her gaze. She felt a twinge of regret, as she did every time she mentioned their… what was it? Connection? Liaison? Affair? Did two random couplings count as an affair? Van Pelt had no name for it, but it had happened. Now, more than once. But every time they talked about it – or danced around the subject, more precisely – Jane got a look on his face that made her feel like she had insulted his dead wife and daughter. At least, that’s all she could assume he was thinking about. Jane wasn’t one to clarify such things.
There was no point discussing it. She had tried and failed too many times. Most times she didn’t know where to start. It probably wouldn’t happen again, she decided, even if it was hard to forget the devastating look of need in his eyes when he had shown up at her door a few short weeks ago. She hadn’t expected it then, was barely prepared for it. What if it happened again? When?
Van Pelt stopped herself. It was a slippery slope. She had to protect herself. She had to think about Rigsby. She had to try and be happy, and she knew she’d be a fool to pin that hope on Jane.
So instead she smiled indulgently at him, letting him off the hook.
“Enjoy the coffee, Jane,” she said and walked slowly out of the kitchen.
“You leaving?” he asked evenly.
Van Pelt glanced swiftly in the direction of Lisbon’s office in case she was close by, then looked back at him.
“I’m going to wait for Wayne.”
Jane smiled slightly and nodded. He raised the mug to her in mock salute. She smiled in return, with more sincerity than she anticipated, and went back to her desk.
In the kitchen, Jane’s gaze returned to his coffee where he remained deep in thought.