A/N: Yea, I know, I haven't even gotten to the bomb scene yet... But there's so much that needed to be filled in too. Ah, no wonder this is taking me forever :P
"I know where the bomb is."
Her head was a mess, a poisonous ZIP soup swirling with snarky hallucinations and tenuous tidbits of information. But at least Jane was sure about what she'd heard, before everything had fallen apart.
Everyone's attention snapped her way, confused looks on all of their faces as she breathlessly explained the gist of the situation, only realizing how crazy it all sounded when the words came spilling out of her.
"The hallucinations are helping me remember the information we need to find the bomb," Jane explained. "Ivy's putting it in Times Square."
Even given all of their extreme experiences, the entire team all stared at her in various states of skepticism. But then Patterson turned and started applying that information right away and everyone else unfroze as well, getting back to work.
Thankful that she'd managed to get her message through and that no one had even questioned the absurd nature of her intel, Jane heaved a sigh of relief. They needed to stop Ivy before millions of people were exposed to the ZIP and experienced worse symptoms than hers.
But then she saw the distraught expression her husband was wearing and cringed, knowing that there was an uncomfortable conversation ahead. She knew Kurt, understood the worry that governed his heart. He was not going to agree with her decision to leave the treatment for later, no matter the situation. And if Jane was being truthful with herself, she'd be upset with him for making the same choice if he were in her position.
It wasn't the same though. Kurt hadn't brought any of this on himself, other than being such dedicated honest agent that even Remi and Shepherd had trusted him with her life. On the other hand, her actions had inadvertently ended up with ZIP becoming weaponized, brought the entire HCI Global mess into their lives. Jane needed to be there for the final chapter, was sure that her presence was still going to be somehow necessary.
Weller stepped towards her, his hand reaching out to rub her shoulder as he pulled her aside.
"What's going on?" he asked, his head tilted towards her. "Shouldn't you still be getting the antidote?"
Jane chewed hard on her bottom lip, had a hard time looking Kurt in the eye. But she forced herself to stare up at him and feel the depth of his concern, see how worried he was.
"I stopped the treatment," she admitted. "To remember."
"What do you mean? The doctor told me you needed more of the antidote as soon as possible."
Jane sighed. Of course he had questioned the doctor more about the procedure than she had. Which wasn't ideal, but at least it was all out in the open between them. She just had to convince him that she was making the right choice.
"The hallucinations have been trying to tell me that I heard where they were going to plant the bomb, I'd just forgotten it when I was ZIPped," she replied. "And the antidote was making those answers disappear so I had to stop taking it."
She watched Kurt take in the information, the furrow in his brow deepening as he listened to her explanation.
"But you've got the answer now, so you can start the treatment again," he reasoned.
Jane tensed, knowing that he was technically correct. She was fairly certain she hadn't heard anything more specific about where the bomb was going to be placed. And yet she was still sure she had to be there in order to find it in time.
"I think I need to be there," she said. "I can't explain it. But I feel it."
"Jane, please," Kurt pleaded. "You're risking your life every minute you go without the treatment. It's not worth it."
But it was, she could save all of those lives. Of course it was worth it. It was what they did, all the time.
"Kurt, I'm sorry. I know it doesn't make sense. But I don't think the hallucinations are done yet. I'm sure all the answers are in my brain somehow. As long as I don't take more of the antidote."
Again the words seemed ridiculous as they tumbled out and Jane mentally cringed at how crazy it sounded. But she was desperate for him to understand why she had to do it, despite the risk.
Weller's frown had reached maximal capacity, was making her heart hurt.
"Even if you're right. It's not up to you anymore, Jane. You can sit this one out. I'll stay here with you."
She looked at him, warmth flooding through her chest. He was so goddamned sincere, desperate to protect her.
"I know you would. But I can't stay here, Kurt. It's not who I am. And it's not who you are either. I know I'm the key to this and yes, that puts me in danger. But isn't that how it's always been?"
She knew he would give in eventually, and also that he had to first fight it as fiercely as possible. He wouldn't be Kurt if he didn't try everything to keep her safe.
"But it doesn't have to be anymore," he tried, with pleading eyes.
"After this," Jane said.
"We just have to save the world. One more time."
Kurt was still frowning, but she could see the set of his shoulders shifting, a shift towards the inevitable. Then, sighing, he reached up with his hand and caressed her jaw while looking at her sternly.
"It's not worth the risk," he repeated, in a stubborn mutter.
But she knew he didn't really believe that. He has always been there in the thick of the action, first one offering to put his life on the line.
"It is," she stated. "It always has been. I have to do this, Kurt. I started this all, I can't let it end in so much death."
The deep furrow in his brow remained, yet he looked sympathetic as well. She knew he didn't blame her for everything that had started with that bag in Times Square. But he was Kurt, so he understood her too. Knew that she saw it differently and respected her need to resolve it for herself.
"I know it's not rational. But I'm sure I need to be there."
Weller sighed, staring into her. She could see that he hadn't quite come to full acceptance of her choice yet, his gaze swimming with worry as his thumb drifted absently across her cheekbone.
There wasn't anything else for her to say though, Jane just had to wait for him to wrap his head around her decision. As hard as it was to resist his silent plea and the fear in his eyes, she needed to stand her ground, the way she always had.
Patterson came back over as Kurt was still standing there, his hand holding her jaw, wearing an expression that was somehow both disapproving yet affectionate all at once.
"What's going on?" Patterson asked. "You guys ready?"
"I had to stop the treatment to remember where the bomb was being planted," Jane replied. "Kurt wants us to sit this one out so I can get more antidote now. But the hallucinations are helping me find the bomb."
Patterson looked between them in concern as she took in Jane's explanation.
"I'm not getting between you guys on this," she said. "But if you're going, here are your comms."
Jane grabbed hers and stuck it in her ear immediately, then turned back towards Kurt.
"We're going," she stated.
Weller sighed, then caressed her cheek one more time before reaching for his own earpiece.
"I know," he said. "When have I ever won an argument with you?"
He sounded resigned but not upset and Jane's lip twitched at the mix of emotions stirring in him. Kurt looked concerned yet proud, love and fear mixing equally in his eyes.
"Just one more time," she replied, both a question and a statement all at once.
Weller nodded and she could see that he had finally settled with the decision.
"One more time," he repeated.
"Let's go save the world."
The ride to Times Square seemed excruciatingly long, even at top speed with sirens going full blast. It was impossible not to think that every minute without the antidote brought Jane closer to an imminent death; that she was risking her life just by sitting in that vehicle while her brain continued to disintegrate and malfunction.
They were together in the back seat of one of the SUVs, Weller trying his best not to stare at his wife. Instead, he snuck long glances that he was sure Jane noticed, even as she steadfastly looked out the window. But she still didn't say anything, which was making his nervous.
Thankfully she seemed okay at the moment, fierce and focused on the mission ahead. But Kurt still wondered what was going through her head, if she was at all scared that she would run out of time. Jane had been so sure back at the NYO but he remembered how scared she'd been when her brain started shutting down the last time she'd nearly died from ZIP poisoning. The vulnerability in her voice when she'd admitted her fear had shattered him; he couldn't believe she was willing to risk it all happening again in the middle of a dangerous op.
Kurt clenched his hands into fists and told himself to breathe. He had never been so terrified going into an operation. But he'd come so close to losing her in exactly the same way, barely six months ago. Had watched as her body forgot how to perform the simplest of tasks, seen her struggle for breath as her brain shut down.
Weller realized he'd succumbed to his desire to stare, even though he didn't want to add any pressure onto Jane's already enormous load. She held herself accountable for so much that happened in a different life. He understood her need to see it through despite the risks; loved it and hated it all at the same time.
It was just who she was; she'd been exactly the same, even without any memories. Kurt remembered back to their very first case, the way she had convinced him to let her risk her life. He'd been almost as worried as he was now; the thought of losing Jane had been terrifying from the start.
Jane was still looking out the window but must have felt the weight of his gaze because she turned and tilted her head at him, gave him a nervous quirk of her lip as she took her comms piece out of her ear.
Kurt did the same, wondering what she wanted to say to him. He thought they'd finished talking about the mission back at the NYO.
"I'm sorry," Jane said, biting the corner of her bottom lip and reaching out to take his hand in hers.
"I know how hard this is for you."
Weller's heart stuttered, realizing what she was saying, why Jane was focused on him when all of her energy should be directed towards the mission ahead. But he didn't want to hear any apologies, any possible last words.
"Don't worry about me," he grumbled, gripping her fingers tight. "You're the one risking your life to be here."
"Yeah," she replied. "But I know you would make a different choice. I'm sorry for putting you through this all again."
"I was just thinking about that," he mused, eliciting a puzzled look from Jane.
"Our first case. Chao. I can't believe I let you come on the search."
Jane paused, shook her head a little.
"I can't believe you trusted me to make that shot," she said.
"See, I've always trusted you to make the right call," Weller replied. "And I still do."
Jane was quiet for a long moment, as if absorbing his declaration. At first she held his gaze, and seemed to settle a bit. But then she abruptly flashed her eyes away and back again, the furrow in her brow deepening as a scowl formed on lips.
"Yeah, and how many times has that burnt you?" she asked caustically.
He frowned, wondering where the sudden negative mood had come from. It wasn't like her to question a decision, especially on the way to a field op.
"I have to do this, Kurt," she said with a slight waver in her voice.
"I know it sounds crazy but I swear it's not just me needing to be in the middle of everything."
"Hey, whoa where did that come from?" Weller asked, feeling blindsided by Jane's sudden doubt.
She was the one who had convinced him that they had to go to Times Square, that it was worth risking her life for. But he couldn't let her go into it with any of the hesitation that seemed to be leaking through.
Jane didn't reply immediately and he noticed her eyes shift away once more, as if there was someone behind him.
"It's just something Roman said," she admitted.
Dammit. Sometimes Weller felt incredibly gullible, so easily played by Jane's deflections. She'd been projecting such a steady sure front that he'd nearly forgotten she was actively hallucinating.
"Is he here now?" he asked.
Jane looked behind him again and nodded, then squeezed her eyes closed for a moment.
Weller forced himself to breathe even as he stumbled over the thought that she was still being harassed by her dead brother, that she'd been battling alone against hallucinations all day.
Casting doubt on her intentions, playing mind games; that was exactly the kind of thing the real Roman would say with his love of sowing discord. Yet the hallucinations were also her own thoughts too, her self-doubts come to life.
"Well tell him to leave us alone," Kurt said. "This isn't the time or place for his bs."
Jane opened her eyes and gave him a small smile, but she still seemed twitchy and unsure. Which made sense considering she was seeing ghosts while going into an all-important mission. After experiencing hallucinations for the first time recently, he couldn't even imagine how she was handling it at all. Except that she was Jane and routinely did the impossible.
All Weller had ever done was stand beside her, offer as much support as he could. And in this instance he reached out and tipped her chin so she was looking directly at him, then gripped her fingers tightly with his other hand.
"That never crossed my mind," he stated, staring hard into her, hoping to drive his message in deep.
"I know you doubt yourself but I never have. It's always been about the mission for you, trying to save lives. So please don't worry about it Jane. And don't worry about me either. If you think you need to be here then I trust your instincts. I always have."
Jane held his gaze as her eyes shifted from a wavering hazel to a steely green and back again.
"You're sure you're okay with this?" she asked.
"What did I just say?" he teased, giving her a mock scowl. "No worrying about me. If I wasn't okay with you risking yourself to save others then I wouldn't be with you."
He got a tiny grin for his reply, a little loosening of her shoulders and a warm grip on his hand.
"Of course I want to wrap you up and take you to the doctor and make you well. But you're right, we need to finish this and you could be the key to finding this bomb."
"So let's do this, one more time," he finished, repeating her own words from before.
The SUV was pulling to a stop, it was all about to begin and end at the same time. Strangely, Weller suddenly felt more sure about the mission than ever before now that he was the one convincing Jane she was right all along. So he took a moment to stare into his partner, make sure she was physically and emotionally ready for what lay ahead.
Jane returned his focused look with one of her own, no sign of any doubt left in her countenance. Then she gave him one serious nod and squeezed his hand tightly before letting go.
"Let's finish this," she said. "Together.