A/N - Well, here we are, folks - the end of this particular story. I hope that all of you who have been reading and reviewing have enjoyed following along as much as I have enjoyed writing this little tale. - aml
Rigsby woke up several times over the course of the night, each time more relieved than the last to realize that Grace was still there, sleeping peacefully in his arms. He was sorely tempted to wake her in the same fashion she'd done to him the morning before, but he decided against it. If the previous evening's activities were the last time he'd get to see Grace naked, he wanted to go out on a high note. The alarm clock read 7:00, so he decided to head downstairs to the health club for quick run before they had to start getting ready to check out and head back to Sacramento. He tugged on a t-shirt and his running shoes, grabbing his iPod before planting a gentle kiss on Grace's temple and heading out the door.
He returned a little more than an hour later, balancing two tall cups of coffee and a bag of muffins from Starbucks in his hands. Setting the food down on the desk in the bedroom, he noticed that Grace was still out like a light, clutching her pillow tightly. He sat down carefully on the edge of the bed, stroking her arm. "Grace," he whispered, "c'mon, time to wake up." She rolled over onto her back and stretched, revealing the slightest hint of bare tummy, which he reached out to tickle gently, just to make sure she was awake. She reached for his hand, bringing it up to her mouth, licking the inside of his wrist. She tugged him down to meet her lips, kissing him thoroughly and reaching down to pull his t-shirt off.
"Grace," he mumbled as he reached around to grab her hands, "we have to get moving. It's already eight, and we need to be at the airport by ten."
"Do we have to?" she whined.
He picked her up off the bed and drew her in for a tight hug. 'Yes, we have to. Unless you want both of us to be looking for new jobs tomorrow." He kissed her quickly before setting her back down on her feet. "I got coffee and muffins for breakfast. I'm gonna jump in the shower, okay?"
"Okay." She grabbed her coffee and a blueberry muffin, and settled into one of the chairs on the patio to eat a quiet breakfast. Her brain was an absolute mess of jumbled emotions – relief to be done with the case and heading home; sadness at having to head home and return to their real lives; and worst of all, uncertainty about what to do next. She heard Rigsby rattling around in the bedroom, getting dressed and packing up his stuff, so she decided to hit the shower herself.
Rigsby showered and dressed quickly, wanting to leave plenty of time to pack up his stuff while Grace was getting ready. He noticed that she was sitting out on the patio, her expression a million miles away. He decided to let her be, especially since she was already packed and needed only to shower and get dressed herself. He continued to pack in silence after she emerged from the bathroom, dressed, and tossed her remaining clothes in her carry-on bag. They were ready to go by 9:30, and walked out the door of the suite, leaving Lucy and Charlie behind, transforming permanently back into Wayne and Grace.
They arrived at the airport with plenty of time to kill and settled into chairs in the gate area. Van Pelt retrieved her book from her purse and started to read; Rigsby attempted to shift into a reasonably comfortable position and get in a quick nap. Forty-five minutes later, they were on the plane, having corralled spots in one of the exit rows, as planned. Van Pelt let Rigsby have the window seat; it was a short flight and he liked to nap. They were on the ground ninety minutes later; Rigsby had slept through the entire flight and landing.
"Rigsby,' she whispered as she prodded him on the shoulder, "time to wake up. We're back in Sacramento."
"Already?" he asked groggily.
"Yes, already," she replied as she reached up into the overhead bins for their carry-ons. She handed over his duffel bag and reached down to tug him out of his seat. "C'mon sleepyhead, time to go home."
They arrived at Baggage Claim just as the suitcases from their flight started spitting out onto the carousel. Rigsby grabbed both of their suitcase, plucking them off the belt with ease. It was at that point that Grace remembered. "Shit," she mumbled under her breath.
"I don't have my car here – Lisbon gave me a ride last Sunday. Would you mind dropping me off back at my place?" she asked uncertainly.
"Of course not, it's no problem." They piled the luggage into Rigsby's Jeep and pulled out of the lot a few minutes later. The drive to Grace's apartment was filled with a tense silence. He pulled up to the visitor's parking spots in front of the building, and before Van Pelt could make a move to get out of the car, Rigsby turned and tugged at her arm to get her attention.
"Grace ….. what are we going to do now? I know I said the other night that we could table this discussion, and talk about it later, but it's later, and I don't have any clue where we go from here."
Van Pelt stared at her hands in her lap for several minutes before daring to look at Rigsby. The look on his face nearly broke her – a mixture of desire, confusion, nervousness and fear. But she had to give him the truth. "I don't know either, Wayne. I wish I did. This weekend was amazing, but what if it was just because we didn't really have to be ourselves? What if we can't make it work now that we're back to our real lives? I just ….. need a little time to get my head together. Can you give me that?" To her immense relief, he smiled.
"Of course I can do that. I'm not going anywhere, Grace. When we're both ready, we can figure this out." They both hopped out of the car to unload her luggage. Rigsby was very surprised when she leaned up and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
"Thank you, Wayne. For …. being you."
"You're welcome," he whispered, as he watched her walk up the sidewalk and disappear through the main door of her building.
Monday morning, 8:30 A.M.
Rigsby arrived at the office unusually early for a Monday morning. He hadn't slept well the night before, trying to get used to being in his own bed, alone, and he just wanted to get settled, check all the emails he'd missed from last week, and pray that they got a new case soon. He could use the distraction. He did not anticipate being called into Lisbon's office barely ten minutes after he'd sat down.
"What can I do for you, boss?"
"Have a seat, Wayne," she instructed, pointing to the chair in front of her desk. He sat down gingerly, uncertain as to what was to come. "Do you know agent Dave Allen, who heads up the Arson and Bomb Squad unit?"
He was genuinely flabbergasted by this question, completely unsure of why she would be asking. "As a matter of fact, yes; Dave and I were partners for a year in San Diego. He's the one who recruited me here."
"Then you know that his wife was expecting a baby?" He nodded in response. "Well, she gave birth to a little boy over the weekend, and therefore, Agent Allen is on paternity leave all this week. With two agents still on desk duty after the explosion at the warehouse last week, they're very short staffed. Long story short, they pulled some favors with Minelli, and I am being forced to temporarily re-assign you downstairs. You're basically going to be running the team while Allen is out. Do you think you can handle that?"
Rigsby was totally dumbfounded; this was not what he was expecting at all. "Um, of course, boss, but out of curiosity, why me? "
She leaned back into her desk chair and appraised his reaction for a minute. "Given that the two of you have a professional history, I suspect that Allen asked for you specifically. I've had inquiries before about making such a transfer permanent, if you were interested, but every time we've done your performance reviews, you've indicated a preference to stay here, so I haven't mentioned it before. Just know that it's out there, should ..." she paused here for effect "... circumstances change."
He let that comment sink in for a moment before standing up to leave. "Thanks, boss."
"IT already has a computer set up for you downstairs. Now scram. And make sure you make me look good."
Rigsby smiled as he turned to walk out the door. "I'll do my best, boss."
Van Pelt settled at her desk at promptly 9A.M.; she'd gone straight to the kitchen to fix a cup of coffee when she'd arrived at the building, and completely missed Rigsby gathering his stuff and heading downstairs. Lisbon emerged from her office and saw Van Pelt's face fall, then shift to worry. She sat down on the table next to Van Pelt's desk and addressed her team.
"Folks, you may have noticed Rigsby is missing. We're going to be without him all this week, as I had to temporarily re-assign him to fill in with the Arson and Bomb Squad unit. He'll be back with us next Monday, I promise. Van Pelt, do you think you can finish up the paperwork on the Vegas case by lunchtime?"
"Sure, boss, not a problem, " she replied, hoping that her relief that Rigsby's move wasn't permanent didn't seep through into her voice.
"Good. Cho and I have a trial prep meeting at the Attorney General's office this afternoon, so I have a special project for you. You're aware that the Bureau recently established a Cyber Crimes Unit, correct?" Van Pelt nodded. "All the new hires for that unit are starting their database training today, and none of them have experience with the state and federal databases we use; almost all of them were poached from either local agencies, or private consulting firms. I was asked if I could spare you to help with their training this afternoon, as you know those systems better than almost anyone else in the Bureau. Can you handle that?"
Van Pelt blushed a little, proud that her computer skills had gotten her noticed. "Sure thing, boss. What time will they need me?"
"Afternoon training starts at 1PM in Conference Room five. Okay, back to work everybody."
Jane followed Lisbon back to her office and shut the door as he flopped into one of her guest chairs. "You separated them on purpose, didn't you?"
"I truly didn't have a choice about sending Rigsby downstairs. Arson specifically asked for him, and Minelli forced my hand. Sending Grace to Cyber Crimes was my idea, however. I couldn't leave her alone with you for the afternoon; that would be cruel and unusual punishment."
Jane smiled. "This is true. So, do you think my cunning little plan worked?"
Lisbon sighed and buried her face in her hands. "I honestly don't know, Jane. And to tell you the truth, I'm not sure I want to know. Personally, I don't think it's any of my business or the Bureau's business who they date, but I don't get to make that call. Just between you and me, as long as they can keep a lid on it well enough that I can plausibly look the other way, I will. However, if things get serious, one of them will have to make a move, and I want them both to be aware that they have options; options that don't necessarily involve one or the both of them leaving the Bureau entirely. We need more agents like those two, not fewer, and it's part of my job as their supervisor to guide their professional development. I particularly want Van Pelt to understand that she shouldn't have to choose between the agency and having a family; I know that both of those things are important to her."
"You really do care about those two, don't you?"
"It's my job to care about my team, Jane. I'm the center, and the center must hold, always. I am always trying to do what's best for everyone. Even you. I need to prep for this meeting this afternoon, so scoot. Go nap on the couch."
Jane knew a dismissal when he heard one, and mock-saluted as he walked out the door.
Monday evening, 7:00P.M.
Van Pelt pulled up in front of Rigsby's duplex, not entirely sure what she was doing, or what she might say when she walked up to his door. All she knew was that the last 36 hours had been equal parts awkward, uncomfortable and excruciating. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts as she approached his front door, that she didn't realize his car wasn't in the drive, and didn't hear him park on the street. She started pacing, wringing her hands in front of her, until his voice cut through the mental clutter.
"Grace? Were you just gonna pace in front of my door all night, or were you gonna knock at some point?"
Van Pelt jumped a good six inches at the surprise. "God, Wayne, you scared the hell out of me. I guess I didn't realize that you weren't home yet." she said, sheepishly.
"I called upstairs to your desk before I left the office, to see if you maybe wanted to get a drink, or some dinner, but you didn't answer, so I assumed you'd already left and I headed home. I didn't anticipate you showing up here."
She reached out to smooth down his tie. "It was weird, not having you in the office today. I missed you."
"Really." He allowed her to continue fiddling with his tie while she worked out whatever it was she wanted to say. "Wayne, I …. oh God, spit this OUT, Grace …. I didn't just miss you today at work. I missed waking up in bed with you this morning. I missed knowing that you would be there when I came home today. Lucy and Charlie may have been a front, but those feelings we dug up these past few days … those were real. And I miss them. I guess what I'm saying is ….. I want to give us a try. I think we can make this work." She looked up at him with a hopeful expression, and was stunned to see the intense love in his eyes. He reached down, wrapped his arms around her waist, and pulled her into his arms for a breathtaking kiss, simultaneously unlocking his front door and dragging her inside.
"That's what I want too, Grace," he murmured as the door shut behind them with a soft click.