20. BUT THAT'S ALL ONE, OUR PLAY IS DONE (Twelfth Night: Act V)
"Cho. What's up with the boss?"
The senior agent in the room raised his eyes from his book and looked through the blinds into where his superior sat at her desk, staring at seemingly nothing. He gave a shrug that said "I don't want to talk about it" more than "I don't know". He couldn't help if Rigsby interpreted it correctly or not.
"Yeah, Jane's back to himself, but she's been kind of off for the last couple of weeks. I mean, she's still herself in the field, but when she's in her office, it's like she's in a daze."
It was mid-June now, five months out from Lisbon's kidnapping. Grace had noticed the subtle change in her boss and was concerned. She was glad someone else had noticed and brought it up. She always felt better about stuff like this when the three of them could talk it out, kick it around a little. She had interpreted Cho's shrug correctly and wasn't going to let him off as easily as Wayne had.
"There's nothing to spill . . . It's none of my business anyway."
He could feel her looking at him, and when he finally pulled his eyes away from the page he hadn't been able to focus on since Rigsby first asked his question, she was glaring, one eyebrow raised, her arms folded. She wasn't going to let this go. He sighed and—trying to keep up the pretense that he was still able to read his book—tossed an answer toward the other two agents.
"Jane?" Rigsby asked before he raised his fresh cup of coffee to his lips. "What's he done now?"
Cho waited just an instant. Timing was everything.
Rigsby gulped hot coffee, sprayed and sputtered. Cho turned back to his Tolstoy, a self-satisfied smirk pulling one side of his mouth up into a dimple. A wheezing sound caught his attention, and he looked across at Van Pelt. Her arms were still crossed, but now her eyebrows were raised, eyes widened and jaw dropped almost unhinged in shock, hard and silent laughter bringing tears to her eyes. He loved how good he was.
Grace walked-rolled her chair across the room and parked right next to his desk, facing the opposite direction. She reached out and splayed her hand across his book, gently pushing it down and to the side. Not even Rigsby had ever dared touch his book.
"Wait . . . Wait. Are you saying that he . . . and she . . . that they . . .?"
"That's usually how it starts, yeah."
Again, she burst into laughter so hard she wasn't making any sound except for the air that was wheezing out of her, which she tried to control by clapping her hand over her mouth. The three agents were practically sitting side by side now with Grace in the middle, and Rigsby watched her, amused. Something of his original question resurfaced in his mind, and he turned to look back at their out-of-it boss.
"But why does she keep staring at her couch?"
He turned back to look at the other two, and Cho raised one eyebrow as if to say "You figure it out." Grace's laughter ceased immediately, and her forehead furrowed deep into the frown that pulled at her face.
"Oo. The couch? I . . . I sat on that couch yesterday!"
She stood and fled, making a bee-line for the ladies' room. Rigsby reached for her chair and stretched out to nonchalantly scoot it around his desk, giving it a shove back towards its usual place.
"What does she think she's going to do in there that'll make it better?"
Cho shrugged again, eyes on his book. "I don't know. Wash her hands. Stare at herself searchingly in the mirror. Frown at the sink a few minutes before she gives up and comes back."
She was back in less than five. She put her palms down on her desk and lowered herself gingerly into her chair as if no seating surface was safe anymore. Rigsby watched her, again amused, but his head suddenly jerked up as something beyond her grabbed his attention.
"Hey." He nodded, looking past her. "Jane on your three."
She got up out of her chair and walked slowly back towards Cho's desk.
"Don't look, don't look, don't let him see you looking."
She picked up a paper from Rigsby's desk and turned to lean back against Cho's. He looked up at the back of her head then glanced down in annoyance at where her butt rested against the edge of his desk. Grace was losing all sense of the concept of personal space, namely his. He ever so slightly shifted his weight in his chair and moved his book so he could covertly look over the top of it into Lisbon's office. Grace did the same over the top of her paper. Wayne shifted to his right as he slid his computer monitor over to the left a few inches. It didn't matter that light from the windows now made it impossible for him to see what was displayed there.
Jane leaned on the door frame and watched Lisbon for a moment, his expression blatantly possessive. Lisbon's gaze had moved to her computer screen when she felt his presence. She resolutely refused to acknowledge him. He said something to her, and her hand twitched, eyes shifted but she still didn't look at him or speak. His look turned predatory. He moved to the couch and sat, tucked into the corner furthest from her. He reached out and patted the space next to him.
"Said the spider to the fly." Grace snickered at Rigsby's smarmy tone. "Poor little fly." He said in a mocking sing-song.
Lisbon wouldn't budge. Jane said something else and leaned back into the couch, draping his arm across the top back, lightly stroking the leather where his fingertips rested against it. Lisbon relaxed completely into her chair and looked at Jane, her eyes glittering with something other than anger. She gave a short reply, and his hand stilled, body tensed. He stood, and her eyes went back to her computer screen, the self-satisfaction radiating off of her. He walked slowly out into the hallway and turned to look back into her office, one hand at his hip, the other moving through his hair. He chewed his lower lip in frustration and uncertainty.
"Poor spider," Grace retorted.
Jane suddenly glanced toward the bullpen then away then back immediately in a double take. They had all forgotten they weren't supposed to look like they were looking. A sudden smile of pure mischief lit his face, his bottom lip still caught between his teeth. He winked at them, and they stared back at him in shock. He looked around quickly, making sure there was no one else in the area. He didn't skip, but he had this way of moving sometimes that reminded Grace of how Gene Kelly used to dance across their television screen at home. Her mother had always loved Gene Kelly.
Jane danced back over to Lisbon, slid his arm under hers, hoisted her up and kissed her full on the mouth. She didn't even struggle, and Jane pulled back and looked at her as if he was wondering something, shrugged and kissed her again.
As one, the three agents raised their eyes to Hightower's office then turned to look at one another in silent agreement. Satisfied that this looked very good for the bullpen, Cho went back to his book, Rigsby readjusted his computer screen and Grace danced back to her desk. Rigsby handed Cho a folded bill, and not even their short conversation of what to bet on next—Jane's possible death or which one of them might propose or Lisbon's possible pregnancy—could dampen Grace's spirits. The quiet scraping sound against the glass behind her and the expression on the men's faces told her the blinds had been closed.
"This," she decided, "is a wonderful turn of events. She had read that phrase in one of Cho's books when she was on stake-out with him and thought it fit perfectly. "I told Jane to do whatever it took. I should've known he'd get creative. I had every confidence."
She couldn't help but smile to herself smugly, as if she had somehow authored the whole thing. No matter how good she felt about the outcome, though . . . she was never sitting on that couch again.
Thanks so much to all who read and reviewed and encouraged me through this story. I hit a creative rough patch early on, and kind words from so many of you conveying that you sincerely wanted and wished for me to do well was a motivational blessing.
Thanks especially to information specialist and Donnamour1969 for your unfailing encouragement; to SakuraAkira365, LSR-7 and xanderseye for loving the characters so much; to liv-einziger for philosophical discussions that helped me see Lisbon more accurately; to Jbon, who used and relied on the story as a physical pick-me-up (hope you feel better soon); to AngelDiabolique and Aurora-Stormwind for reading me at work (which I loved), for making me laugh with very few words and for some of the best compliments I've ever gotten; to all of you who were so faithful to read late at night when you were dead tired; and to the amazing Rhi for her unflagging enthusiasm and kinship (and for the calendar).