Author's note: Also for the Paint It Red December 2012 Monthly Challenge - prompt: "mistletoe and wine".
When other people ask her, she always says she's fine. Truth is, she's far from feeling that way, but the last thing she wants to do is talking about it.
She has to be strong. There's nothing else she can do.
Sorry about this, Grace, truly. I've grown genuinely fond of you.
It's not you. It's me.
Craig's last words never stop echoing inside her head. It's never been about love, about her; she's been such a fool to believe this.
It's the second time that one of her boyfriends has turned out to be a psychopath only intent on getting closer to Patrick Jane. Rationally she knows it's none of his fault, not really; and yet that's not enough to stop her from being angry.
Sometimes she thinks she hates him. Other times she feels like he owes her something for what she's been through.
Now she can't even bring herself to date another man, no matter how nice he seems to be. Because, for all she knows, he might as well be Red John himself.
It's been months since a man's lips and hands has been on her, something she craves and loathes at the same time. She desperately needs touch but can't help shying away from it, and that makes her feel cold and hollow inside.
Then one day she stumbles upon Wayne as he's right under the mistletoe some idiot hung in the bullpen, and everything falls apart at the seams.
As she watches him walk away with an awkward look on his face she realizes that the only good thing she's had in her life doesn't belong to her anymore. Another woman is going to have his baby, and it doesn't matter that Sarah doesn't love him as much as she did – and still does.
That evening she drinks too much with their case-closed pizza, and waits for everybody else to leave the building before finally collecting her things. She feels Jane's eyes on her as he's sitting on his favorite spot of his worn-out couch, but right now she just doesn't care.
Nothing really matters anymore.
When she hears his footsteps approaching her whole body tenses. She can't deal with the way he's able to cold read her, not tonight.
Angrily she spins around, determined to get rid of him. He's closer than she has anticipated, and his unexpected proximity makes her breath catch in her throat.
She feels lightheaded – she's had too much wine after all – and suddenly unable to think clearly. That's probably why she grabs the lapels of his jacket and covers his mouth with her own.
Caught off guard, Jane seems rooted to the spot. He doesn't respond to the kiss, but he doesn't pull away either.
She fists the fabric of his jacket in a clumsy attempt to have him closer. Her lips are rough on his, as if she's looking for a way to release all the emotions swirling in her brain.
It's only when she nips at his lower lip that he pushes her away, his hands gentle but firm on her shoulders. She knows that he's still in love with his late wife – and with the boss as well – but a small part of her has been hoping that he could forget them if only for a night.
It might have helped her to forget Craig in turn.
He threads his fingers through her hair, breathing in her subtle scent of lilac. It's the most intimate gesture she's going to get from him, so she simply closes her eyes and allows herself to enjoy the moment. Perhaps there will be a different fragrance buried somewhere in his memory palace from now on, other than lavender and cinnamon.
Tomorrow morning they will both pretend that tonight has never happened.