Nikki's alarm went off just as Jane walked through the front door. She pulled her keys free from the lock and turned around to close the door behind her. Habitually, she tossed them on the table and went to sort through the new mail.
Nikki half-stumbled into the kitchen and with the same in-grained habit, went through the motions of making a pot of coffee.
"Late night, huh?" she said to Jane, blinking a few times sleepily.
"Early morning, huh?" Jane replied with a teasing smile.
"I'm making up that test from last Thursday I missed," Nikki went on to explain.
"Yeah, well, I had paper work up to here last night," Jane informed, gesturing up to her chin with her hand. "I didn't think I'd ever get out of there."
"I'll trade places with you," Nikki offered, staring at the drizzling coffee. "You can be just getting up and I'll be the one climbing into bed."
Flipping disinterestedly through yesterday's stack of mail, Jane laughed and shook her head. "I don't think so. I'm beat."
She turned and headed for her bedroom, slipping out of her jacket as she did. She folded it once and placed it over the back of a chair. This wasn't the first time she was forced to pull an all-nighter and it certainly wouldn't be the last, but Jane never liked trying to sleep during the day. She always felt she was missing something important when she did and it was hard trying to get her mind to shift down in gear and not think about everything that needed thinking about.
Sighing, Jane entered her bedroom, which seemed unusually cool and ablaze with early morning sunlight for some reason. She stripped off her badge and gun, placing them side by side on the dresser as she always did and looked up into the mirror. She noticed then, the window to her room was wide open, and the thin gauzy curtains had been pushed aside and were waving softly back and forth in the late autumn breeze.
Funny, she didn't remember leaving the window open. A flicker of alarm shot through her and instinctively her hand moved for her gun. It was then her eyes fell on her bed. A moment later, she released such a loud, startled exclamation, Nikki called out to her.
"Jane! What's wrong?" she asked, sounding just as startled, striding down the short hallway to her sister's room.
Jane deftly slid into the hallway to intercept her, closing the bedroom door smoothly behind her.
"I'm all right," she assured Nikki, holding up her hand.
Nikki was trying to look past her as if she could see through the closed door. "What? I heard you scream."
"I didn't scream," Jane replied. "I was just a little surprised."
Nikki raised her brow inquiringly.
Jane sighed. "It's John," she explained.
Now Nikki frowned. "John? John Clayton? What about him?"
Jane gestured back at the closed bedroom door.
"How long has he been here?"
"Yeah. You didn't know, I take it?" Jane licked her lips and took a deep breath. "Of course not. You wouldn't have seen him. You were probably asleep when he arrived."
"He's in there?" Nikki pointed past Jane's shoulder at her bedroom. Her concerned expression slipped into a smile of amusement. "Well, introduce me."
"He's asleep," Jane stated. She planted her hands firmly on her younger sister's shoulders and turned her back towards the kitchen. "Go on. I'll get rid of him."
Nikki frowned. "Can't I at least see him? You know, you've got me so curious about him anymore, I'm dying to meet him."
"No, Nikki," Jane said with a resolute shake of her head. "I don't want to scare him by waking him up with a strange person ogling him."
Nikki grinned now. "I wouldn't ogle him."
Jane knew better, but left that sentiment unsaid and shoved Nikki away from her, then slipped back inside her bedroom.
Stalking up to the side of the bed, Jane tried to summon a look of outrage, and cleared her throat. She wanted John to know this sort of thing would simply not be tolerated--that by coming into her bedroom in the middle of the night and making himself so completely at home in her bed, he had made her very angry with him.
"John!" she said sharply and folded her arms across her chest. "John!"
He didn't stir. Immediately Jane found that strange. Surely with his honed instincts and abilities, the sound of her voice would have had him up and on his feet in the blink of an eye. Furrowing her brow, Jane bent over him.
"John?" Her eyes slid down the length of him, taking in his new-looking, but torn shirt and stained cargo pants. No, he didn't appear hurt at all. Just crashed. The soles of his feet had little cuts and bruises all over them, but since he refused to wear shoes, that was to be expected. Jane dragged her gaze back up to his face and opened her mouth to call to him again, but found herself suddenly too breathless to speak. In fact, all Jane could do now was stare at him.
Maybe it was the way his long, tousled hair spilled over her pillow, the curve of his cheekbone pressing into the soft fabric of its casing, the fullness of his slumber-parted lips, or even the delicate and impossibly long lashes which lined his tightly closed eyes. Jane was struck by how truly beautiful and mesmerizing he was lying there like that, and slowly, the indignation she had felt earlier ebbed away like the retreating breezes sweeping through her room this morning.
Jane knelt by the side of the bed, stretching out her hand to brush back a stray lock of hair which had fallen over John's eyes. Her fingers itched to trace his brow down to the sloping hollow of his cheek, but she stopped herself just before she touched him, and quickly drew back her hand. She had no business touching him like that for one, and two, she really didn't know how he would react to being woken from such a sound sleep in that way.
Straightening, Jane forced herself to back away from the bed. She extended her foot and kicked at the side a few times.
"John! Wake up!"
His eyes suddenly flew open and he sat bolt upright so fast, Jane inadvertantly jumped. For a moment, he looked about the room wildly as if he didn't remember how he had gotten there and didn't know where he was.
"John, calm down," Jane soothed, taking another step back. "It's all right. Calm down."
His eyes fixed on her face at the sound of her voice and the fire blazing in them quickly cooled. He stared at her piercingly for a few moments as if trying to decide if she were really there or not, then he looked around the room more slowly and took a deep breath.
"You're home," he whispered thickly, his steel-blue eyes narrowing slightly.
Jane sighed. "John, you can't just show up like this," she started in. "You can't just invite yourself in here whenever you feel like it and you sure as hell can't sleep here when I'm gone. I know you wouldn't hurt Nikki and I know you probably didn't mean any harm...but you need to start respecting my privacy and show a little more consideration for me and my home. Don't force me to keep that window locked. I don't want to lock you out, but I will if you start doing things like this to me."
Jane's tongue-lashing was met with a prolonged and unwavering stare. John's expression finally softened and the corners of his mouth turned up slightly. He blinked finally and reached up to rub his eyes in an endearingly child-like gesture, than sank back down and settled his head against the pillow once more.
"No, no, no, no. You have to leave now," Jane continued. "Cause I've been up all night and now I have to get to bed."
"You want me to go?" John surmised, peering up at her curiously, his voice soft and somewhat breathy.
Jane nodded, and forced herself to look away from him. "Yes, I want you to go. I can't sleep with you here."
John looked up at her, shifting to the side of the bed as if to make room for her. He glanced down at the newly vacated space beside him on the mattress, then back up at her in open invitation.
"Sleep with me," he murmured.
Jane knew he wasn't trying to be seductive, but his choice of words made his offer that much more suggestive. As if to show her he really did want to sleep some more, he yawned and languidly stretched his arms above his head, twisting his torso slightly to the side.
As he did, Jane's eyes were drawn to the inadvertantly bared flesh of his abdomen beneath the hem of his rather tattered shirt. The brief image she got of herself spooning her body against him as he held her on the bed came unbidden and unexpectedly. Jane swallowed hard and closed her eyes to quash her over-active imagination, feeling as if she were being systematically tortured by such thoughts.
Jane scowled. "I can't...sleep with you...here."
"Why not?" John asked, appearing as if he hadn't the slightest clue as to why she would hesitate at such a thing. "This is where you sleep. Your scent is here." He paused and buried his face in her pillow. "It made me feel like you were with me. And now you are."
"Because this is my bed, and my room and you were not invited in either," she went on. "Your being here is making me uncomfortable."
John sat up again. A look of concern darkened his pale blue eyes. "You're angry with me."
Jane made herself nod. "It was wrong of you to come here like this."
John was up on his feet in an instant, standing in front of her barely inches away now, and gazing down at her face with a weighty stare.
"I'm sorry," he quickly apologized. His extremely expressive face told Jane he truly did not like knowing she was upset with him. He tried to take her hand.
Jane didn't know which was worse, him lying and writhing on the bed, or him standing so close to her, she could practically feel the heat radiating off his body. Discreetly, she tried to edge away from him, and determinedly placed her hands on her hips out of his reach. She could feel her cheeks flush and her anger soon returned.
Frowning, Jane realized she was more angry with herself and the way he made her feel, than at what he had actually done. Clearly, he saw nothing wrong with slipping into her bed in the middle of the night while she was gone. At least he hadn't tried something like this when she was actually home.
Looking up at him, Jane pressed her lips together tightly and half-gestured at his ripped clothing.
"What have you been into tonight?" she asked, her brow knitting with disapproval. That shirt looks like it was brand new maybe a day ago."
John peered down at it as if he wasn't sure what Jane was referring to. He looked back at her and tilted his head slightly to the side in confusion.
Jane tried another approach. "What are you doing sleeping here, anyway? I thought everything was working out with your aunt? Did something happen?"
Turning his head towards the window, John sighed and faced Jane again with another lost expression.
"I was being chased," he stated.
John nodded once. "I got away. And I came here."
Jane looked up at him in exasperation. "Chased? John, what are you talking about?"
"My uncle's men. They found me."
Jane's eyes' widened. "So you came here? That's the worse thing you could have done!" she scolded him. "You could have led them here! My sister is just down the hall, John. What if those men would have come storming in here after you? You realize, your uncle already suspects I know more than I'm telling him about you. If he gets proof that I'm harboring you--"
"I got away," John said again, his voice tightening.
Jane frowned. "I understand that. But you should have gone home to your aunt."
"I wanted to come here."
Reaching up, Jane dragged her hand through her hair in frustration. "So you were just hiding out then? Waiting for the coast to be clear?"
Again John nodded. "I feel safe when I'm here." He paused and inched closer to her, lowering his face to hers and nuzzling her hair.
Jane closed her eyes momentarily, feeling the warmth of his breath on her skin as he spoke. "You should have left when you saw I wasn't here," she replied, her voice betraying the havoc he was wreaking with her emotions at the moment.
"I waited for you, but you did not come home and I fell asleep."
"I was at the police station," Jane informed him. "I had things to do there."
"I know," John said and flashed a smile.
His shoulder was touching hers now and his hand was absently stroking her arm. Jane opened her eyes and turned to look at him. His nose brushed against her cheek as she did which made her immediately aware of the proximity of his lips to hers and made her jerk away from him as if she'd been burned.
"John, you really need to leave now," Jane said slowly and carefully.
Suddenly, Jane realized John was already at the window. He turned once to look at her before hefting himself up on the sill. He looked confused and decidedly unhappy.
Jane crossed her arms over her stomach, feeling his abrupt absence far keener than she should have.
"You know why you can't stay," she told him.
A look passed over his face that hinted at the quiet intelligence which was too often concealed beneath his more prominent wild and somewhat naive layers.
"You feel it too," he whispered. "But you're unhappy feeling that way. I do not know why, but whatever it is...that is why you send me away now." He reached up and pushed the window open farther, turning to face the bustling streets below. "I do not want you to be unhappy."
Jane bit her lip. "I can't help it," she whispered back. "Right now, my feelings make me unhappy."
John peered over his shoulder at her. "You want me to leave? Would that make you happy?"
There was something in the tone of his voice that insinuated something more permanent than just his departure this morning. Jane stared back at him, her mind warring with conflicting responses. In the end, the truth was, she would not be happy if he left her life for good. He was asking for honesty and in that moment, was willing to accept whatever she saw fit to decree--if only it would make her happy.
Definitively, Jane shook her head. "No, John. It would not make me happy if you left me. I want to see you again. I want to know you're safe and healthy and...happy too. Just try to understand. I need some time to make the adjustment of having you in my life. Give me this time to figure this all out and I'll be happy. I promise."
John sighed heavily as if in relief. He licked his lips slowly and turned back around towards the street. He disappeared a moment later without another word.
Jane felt her body slump in the same kind of relief. She went to close the window to stave off the chill in the room, but declined to turn the lock. There was something oddly symbolic in the gesture, she realized.
Too tired for a shower, Jane simply undressed, got into the nightgown she'd worn the night before and crawled into her bed snuggling down between the sheets with a deep sigh. A smile flitted across her face as her head hit the pillow and her eyes lit upon a single strand of wavy blonde hair just inches from her hand. She reached out and traced the silken strand with her fingertip caressingly.
John may have left, but Jane could still sense him close. The bedclothes were still warm where John had been laying. A faint musky, earthy scent of leaves and wind and trees lingered on her sheets. It smelled of sky and rain and life itself. Of him. His wild beauty and his untamed spirit. It made her feel strangely secure and warm inside. It was as if she knew he would never leave her. He would always be with her, looking out for her. Loving her. Her heart thumped heavily in her chest at the thought. It was as if she had never felt that way with anyone else before.
She understood now what had lured John into her bed. He had sought comfort in her scent as well. Without a doubt, the opportunities he had in his rather harrowing life to feel safe and warm and loved were rare and genuinely prized.
Jane regretted her anger now, and decided the first step to "figuring it all out" was to try to see things from John's perspective more often. After all, he saw the world far more clearer than Jane ever had. It seemed like a step in the right direction.
Wrapping the blankets around her shoulders, Jane closed her eyes and focused her mind on these thoughts for a change, resolutely pushing aside the more stubborn thoughts of police files, unsolved cases, and court dates that often inhibited her attempts at daytime slumber before.
In moments she was fast asleep.