Disclaimer: It's a good thing I don't own it...trust me.

A/N: This was the very FIRST story I wrote as a gift for kathiann, I really love this piece. Honestly it's my favorite thing I've EVER written in terms of a one-shot. I took creative liberties with grammar and such so for all the English majors or picky people (nothing wrong with being picky), it was meant to be typed this way. I thought I should point that out before you started reading just as a kind of heads-up.

Nightfall isn't something to fear, for nothing lies waiting in the dark that wasn't there basking in the light. Nothing. There's been nights in the past when little screams and chubby cheeks wet with tears told him otherwise but Jane knows there isn't a monster under the bed, nor in the closet. No, the monsters are outside this bedroom, lurking in the most obvious of places - behind the wheel of vehicles that could've killed the woman he cares for.

Things are never quite what they seem and as he sinks further into the soft mattress, he feels just how true that statement can be. Nothing is what it seems in darkness, shapes and shadows only becoming a simple object once light hits them but there are times when even the light leaves things submersed in black. Being in the dark isn't fun emotionally, nor physically at times. The woman next to him keeps him in one of those dimly lit areas, always avoiding the serious of some topics by letting her hands wander to places deemed dangerous.

Relationships are blurry, they're the dark of one's heart. The entanglement he's in now proves it. Talks are avoided, feelings left unvoiced but last night makes him want to confront it all in the early morning. Confronting the dark while it's still dark, fitting he supposes though she really needs her rest.

The room is silent, save for her gentle breathing. His fingers trail along her skin, over her bare hip and down to the discoloration lingering there. A tender spot that leaves her flinching in sleep. There's no other disturbances. No clock ticking; digital age has taken away the comfort found in the almost, at times, annoying sound. He should have known that she'd be one to go for the easy simple digital alarm. The numbers change, alerting him to the fact that it's a few minutes till four in the morning.

The dark encompasses the room yet still he can make out the outline of her body, her skin almost shimmering in what little light is coming through her curtains. Smooth skin, silky and so soft to the touch. Even her scars feel like raised velvet beneath his fingers. He likes touching her, likes that he's allowed to but he refrains to let her sleep. She needs it. Her puffy green eyes had shown him that much when they'd crawled into bed but she'd been stubborn, instigating something intimate to stay awake. Always so stubborn, his Lisbon. Yes his. She might not like it much but he's known from the moment they were bare of clothing and writhing in pleasure for the first time together just months ago that she was his.

Another minute passes. He's not in it for the comfort found in her warm supple form, he doesn't care that she assumes he has an agenda - assumes he's not over the death of his wife and child and that she's simply a quick release in a time of need. He's told her time and time again that he's here because it's where he wants to be and last night it'd been because she needed someone. She will never be one to admit defeat or weakness but he knew she had needed to be looked after. The bruising on her shoulder and hip remind him why. The minor lacerations in her skin making it clear to him that she's not invincible. She's not always an agent. Even if she won't admit it, he knows there are times when she's simply a woman.

Sixty more seconds pass in silence, skin brushing skin as he shifts closer. He can't resist, can't leave her in the middle of the bed curled up in a ball. It makes her look small and despite her stature, Teresa Lisbon is anything but small. Easing an arm beneath her head, he watches the dark locks fan across his skin, across the pillow - like chocolate mixing with milk. A hum meets his ears, the muscles of her face twitching as she tries to wake.

Legs tangle, leaving no room for air to slip between their bodies. Leaving no room for any disturbances of any kind to tear them apart. Chests brushing with each breath, he's mindful of her injuries knowing she's aching more than she lets on. A front on collision with a fleeing suspect isn't a bed of roses but of course she's downplaying it.

Four in the morning now. Deep breaths fill her lungs and all he can think of is her mortality. She's hurt, he's upset and neither of them really know how to deal with that. He does the best he can, lets her sugar coat her feelings on the matter though he knows she's still reliving it in her head over and over. He wasn't there, didn't see it happen but knows she was rendered unconscious. The hospital trip had told him that much. The woman wrapped lovingly into his body is more fragile than she cares to admit.

Soft whimpers leave her lips as she shifts against him, causing herself pain in the process. Perhaps he really shouldn't have let her talk him into a night of soft touch, whispered words and bodies melding together in the most primal of ways but he knew she'd simply needed an affirmation that she was still alive, so had he. So easy to fall for a woman like her, one of a kind and able to keep him on his toes. So easy. She doesn't see that, doesn't see that she's special or anything more than the woman next door.

Of course she wouldn't see the beauty in her own eyes, her own little quirks or the way her body arches into him when she's close to release. The sounds that leave her lungs, the expressions on her face when they're caught in a moment whether it be humorous, angry, loving, or passionate. Beautiful - the only way to describe it all.

An aching in his heart makes him gently reach for her with his free hand, finger ghosting along her arm, over the bend of her elbow. She's ticklish there, such a strange place but he knows when awake she squirms away if he brushes over the sensitive spot. Continuing movement up to her shoulder, rounding over the faint scar. He's not sure what it's from, she won't say but whatever caused it is personal enough to have her clamming up, so he's left it alone up until this point.

The muscles beneath his touch tense and relax slowly. He knows he's pulling her from her sleep yet he can't stop. The bruising spans out over her chest, a perfect imprint of the seatbelt - his hand traces it. The pads of his fingers draw a soft sigh when he passes over her clavicle, down to the tender flesh of her breast before dipping into the valley between. A hitch in her breath tells him she's awake but he can't seem to drag his eyes away from the angry marks marring her pale skin. She's human, capable of dying - he's not sure how he feels about that.

His name is breathed between them, her voice heavy with exhaustion and finally he's pulling his gaze from her chest to her tired eyes. Barely open, he can see confusion lingering but offers no explanation for his wandering hand. It was anything but sexual, though he can feel her body responding as if it had been, can see the low blaze burning in her gaze. He's not about to start anything. He's sure he hurt her just hours ago when he gave in to her needs; he won't do it again.

Words are irrelevant and they don't need them. Stares talk, conversing with no need for speech and before he realizes it there are tears gathering in her eyes. Finally a sign of what she feels, a break in her dam of control and he needs no time to think before tucking her head under his chin and stroking through the tangles of dark hair flowing down her shoulders and back.

She makes no noise - silent sobs with shaking shoulders and he keeps quiet, letting her deal with it seemingly on her own. Only using him for warmth, tender caress. Every breath, each rise and fall of her chest means she's alive and when her body stills, he lets his hands cup her cheeks to tilt her head back. The face he sees isn't one he's used to but her eyes still hold strength, always so strong and brave.

A whisper breaks the tacit bubble surrounding them, again his name from her lips. Always sounding so sweet coming from her tongue, unless she's yelling and then it's generally more venomous but not right now. At this very moment in time, everything has shifted leaving her unsure of what to feel and he can only sit by and offer a hand - a reassurance that he doesn't see her as weak.

There's nothing he can say, nothing that will make her resist the urge to duck her head in shame for the tears she's spilled so he doesn't even try. He chooses action instead of words and in only a few short seconds, he's lifted her chin and has his lips hovering over hers. He's not taking advantage, not using the moment or dampening the emotion behind it at all.

Lips meet softly, her body shuddering against him as small hands move along his skin, brushing his thigh to glide up and over his back. Nothing about the caress is urgent, nothing is needy or filled with want. It's just a try at comfort, a gentle meeting of mouths that fills the room with a sense of calm and leaves them both feeling as though this day will be better than the last. Knowing it's too early for her to be awake, he uses his hands to soothe her enough to have her eyes fluttering in merely seconds.

Two minutes pass of her fighting the pull of sleep, his hands sweeping over her in a rhythm that rivals that of a musician. If there were ever a sound he'd associate with the touches he lays upon her, he'd say it'd be piano - something soft and flowing. A smile tugs at his lips when she attempts a glare, knowing that he's trying to submerge her back into the bliss of slumber. Lips press against her forehead, her cheek, her nose as he mumbles a quiet 'rest now' against her heated skin. She feels slightly feverish, her eyes finally closing with a sigh slipping through her pouty lips.

He worries about her, someone should. He resists the urge to turn off her alarm, keep her in bed for a few days just to make sure she's really okay. It's best to stay on her good side, especially now when she needs him. She'll never show it, never voice it and it only adds to the reason their relationship is not what it seems. Though he tries, it's not overly romantic despite what some others who see them out and about might think. He respects her, loves her even but he lets her set the pace. However, she thinks they're temporary; no real emotions behind his motives and it troubles him that she seems content with such a thing.

Wrapping the blankets around them both, reveling in the added heat, he pulls her closer to his chest and comes to the conclusion that if she's still running a bit of a fever when they wake then he'll confront her about taking a personal day. No one will think less of her.

The bruises remind him to be careful, the hitch in her breath and soft groan that flies out when he squeezes a bit too tight cause a clenching sensation in his chest. Her breathing hasn't dropped off into that deep relaxed state just yet, she's not quite in the realm of sleep and with a burst of courage spanning from his head to his toes, he chooses to say something that will forever change the way she looks at him.

The words will change everything, mixing emotions and perhaps even causing an explosion of catastrophic proportions but with his mouth directly next to her ear, he lets three words - one little phrase - flow from his body. The heat of his breath against her skin causes goosebumps but he nuzzles them away, never expecting a response. Things are in her court; he's made the first attempt to change it all but he'll be patient.

He even pretends that it doesn't bother him when she doesn't say anything, doesn't move, just tenses in his hold and quickens her breaths. He'll wait for whatever bone she may throw, knowing that they're good for each other, that the accident has only made him determined to have that forbidden talk. The one that will take things from him being submerged in the dark murky waters of uncertainty to up on deck with the captain of the ship where things are so much clearer, whether it be for the better or for the worse.

He can feel the moment she gives up on staying awake, her body too exhausted and finally relaxing in his arms. He's scared her, he knows but there's nothing he can do to take it back and he doesn't want to. He meant it – means it with every fiber of his being. He's not sure why or how but it's true and he feels as though it's been a long time coming. A no strings attached sexual relationship wasn't something they could do; he's known that since the get-go but she'd been determined that the only reason they fell into bed together in the first place was purely for physical release after an emotionally troubling time. To make her happy, he just went along with it but he was done. He'd known then that there was something more to it and now he knows exactly why his chest had constricted the moment she called it a mistake.

Carefully shifting, he moves to stare down at her. Eyes closed, steady breaths – it gives him the chance to once again examine her body for anything he hasn't already cataloged in his head. The bruises and cuts, he knows each of them after just a few hours. Angry raised red skin above her left eyebrow, tiny little slivers of red spattered about on her cheeks from the windshield breaking.

So hard not to remember hands and lips, moans of pleasure, the look of fear in her eyes that very first time. Something for the books, nothing sweet and slow. Neither had wanted it that way, it'd been an accident and it took weeks before they confronted the issue and naturally the conversation had ended with them back in her bed – it was clear they weren't going to stop so they'd set up rules, well she had. Lying now, next to her, stroking over her battered skin and knowing it's better with soft touch, and sweet kisses, only cements the fact in his mind; he loves her.

The feeling swelling up in him is mutual, he knows but then why does she hide? Why stay miserable instead of just owning up to some small semblance of happiness? With a sad sigh, he's pressing his mouth to the corner of hers, letting his hand caress her side. It's scary, knowing that he could've lost her. Really she's lucky, only minor injuries and a lot of discomfort. Conversation for another day he supposes.

Curling himself around her, he cradles her to him and closes his eyes. He won't sleep, can't but he's at least going to let himself revel in her warmth, the feel of her heart still beating. Perhaps it's a weakness to be so terrified of losing her – then again, he's lost a woman he loved before and he doesn't want to repeat the process so maybe it's normal to be the clingy one after something like this. No matter her job, he'll always hold his breath until he knows she's out and safe, whether she likes it or not.

Fingers dancing on her skin, he's hoping they'll talk to clear the air. Maybe she'll admit her own feelings so they can move forward instead of being stuck in a twisted relationship that consists of nights filled with pleasurable sex and the occasional breakfast out in public before work. He can't imagine where he'd be without her, doesn't want to even try and when his hand stills against her ribcage, he rests his cheek against her heated forehead and lets himself doze.

Eyes drooping closed - body relaxing enough to drift between the realms of wake and sleep – he takes it as a good sign that she didn't kick him out of her bed. He's broken through her facade, leaving her exposed and stunned. All he can do is await her reply and steal touches just in case it's the last time he'll be allowed to have his hands on such intimate parts of her body.

a/n: That's my creative bit of writing. :D Now, with that being said, I hope you enjoyed it for what it is because I absolutely LOVED writing this one. I don't know why this particular oneshot struck such a nerve when I wrote it but it did and it'll probably always be my 'favorite' oneshot I've ever completed.