... ... ...
"Trick or treat?"
This was what she had expected to hear, just not who she had expected to be saying it.
Rolling her eyes at Jane's grinning face, she told him, "With you, I don't know which would be worse."
He feigned pain in his chest while laughing at her retort, and she stepped aside, gesturing for him to enter.
"What can I do for you?"
"Didn't think you should be alone. There are some scary looking children out there."
"I think I'd have been okay."
"Okay, I didn't want to be alone. There are even scarier looking children outside my hotel."
She laughed at him, slowly shaking her head.
"So I brought popcorn and some scary movies", he told her, holding out the bag with a smile full of hope that she wouldn't send him away. "And wine."
"Wine? On a Wednesday?"
"Why not?" he grinned.
Lisbon took the proffered bag and peeped inside. Frowning, she looked back at him.
"Well I figured we deal with the serial killer stuff on a daily basis."
"So instead you went with the terrifying rom-com genre?"
"Exactly. I thought you might appreciate the break."
She smiled. She did appreciate that gesture. "Thanks."
"And besides, I know romance and all that happily ever after talk terrifies you."
Mouth open to protest, she found him smirking at her and backed down. After all, he had a point. "Is this the trick or the treat?" she questioned with a pout.
Chuckling, he took the bag from her and led the way into her kitchen. "Ah, Lisbon, you know you have to choose one or the other."
Watching him move round her kitchen gathering wine glasses and bowls as if he knew where everything was, Lisbon asked him, "Which will I loathe the least?"
Jane laughed but didn't answer her question, he just continued his preparations, putting the popcorn in the microwave.
Lisbon thought on it a moment longer, intrigued as to what trick he might have planned - because knowing Jane as she did, she knew that "trick or treat?" was not just an expression: He definitely had something ready. And she felt strangely compelled to make him go through with it.
"Well, I suppose there is nothing left that I could provide as a treat, because you brought it all with you. So, I'll go with 'trick'."
Jane paused from pouring the wine to eye her with surprise.
"What?" she queried when he just stared at her.
"I never expected you to look at it that way," he explained.
She shrugged. "The only thing I could offer you is tea, but it wouldn't go well with the wine."
Jane's face crumpled adorably. "True."
His surprise at her having chosen 'trick' intrigued her further. "What's the matter, Jane, do you not have a trick up your sleeve?" she teased him.
A smile crept slowly onto his lips. "Oh, Lisbon, you know me."
"Yes I do," she smiled back.
And as they stood, eyes locked and grinning at each other across her kitchen, Lisbon couldn't help but feel that it had all turned a little flirtatious. Dangerous. She felt an excited flutter around her heart. Scary even.
... ... ...
The beeping of the microwave saved either of them from having to choose to break their moment. Jane turned to retrieve the popcorn and, heart pounding, Lisbon crossed the room and picked up the wine.
"Are you sure you don't want to change your mind about the trick?" Jane offered as they carried the snacks through to the living room.
Lisbon placed the glasses on her coffee table and faced Jane as she straightened up.
"I'm sure I can handle whatever you have planned," she assured him, confidently.
Jane's eyes sparkled as he looked back at her. "No doubt... I just need to pop out to my car. I'll just be a minute."
Lisbon's confidence wavered and she could tell by the widening of Jane's smile that he noticed. He shot her one of his most dazzling smiles - the kind she had quickly learned usually preceded trouble - and swung her front door open, disappearing outside.
Reminding herself that there was no point worrying about his intentions, she set about choosing a DVD. She knew Jane wouldn't mind which one they watched, she suspected he wasn't a fan of the genre anyway.
She was crouched in front of the television waiting for the disc drawer to open when she found herself plunged into darkness. On instinct, she stood up, resting her hand on top of the television to help get her bearings as her eyes adjusted to the lack of light. Her other instinct was to curse Jane.
Briefly casting her mind back to moments earlier, she mentally checked whether there were any obstacles between her and the drawer where she knew there was a flashlight. Continuing to curse Jane - out loud, despite knowing that he couldn't hear her - she made her way across the room. A scraping noise outside the door startled her part way there. She stopped, expecting that Jane would come through the door. When, after several seconds, he didn't, she rolled her eyes and snatched the door open. Then she nearly jumped out of her skin.
"Damn it, Jane!"
Jane's laughing face remained illuminated by the flashlight he still held under his chin.
"I couldn't resist," he chuckled.
Lisbon shook her head as she calmed down. She really should have been expecting that. "You'd better know how to undo this!" she reprimanded him as he walked back into the house.
He was silent for a beat, then his words signalled that he hadn't immediately understood. "Oh, the blackout isn't my doing. Lights are out across the area."
"This isn't your trick?"
"I wish! Your face!"
"It's dark, Jane. When I try to punch you in the arm I might inadvertently hit you elsewhere."
"No need for violence, Lisbon."
"I think there's every need," she insisted, moving to the drawer to retrieve her own flashlight.
"And you don't even know what my trick is yet."
Lisbon didn't need to be able to see Jane to know he was still smugly amused.
"One day I'll learn to just not let you past the door," she muttered, heading for the kitchen and her supply of candles.
"Keep telling yourself that," he smiled, following her. The bag he had returned with from his car rustled as he moved, but she dared not think about what it might contain.
"Ah, candles," he commented when she lifted some out of a drawer. "Perfect."
"Perfect?" she queried, sensing she might regret that when he had explained himself.
"For the right atmosphere."
She shone her light directly at him so she could see his expression as he answered her next question. "Atmosphere for what?" There was no way he wouldn't pick up on the warning in her tone.
Shielding his eyes against the light, he replied, "Well watching the romantic movies I chose is out of the question."
That fluttering around her heart was there again, but then Jane's lips curved into a smile. "Relax, Teresa. The right atmosphere to go with your costume."
He placed the bag on the table and produced from it (with dramatic flair) a witch's hat and cloak.
"Oh, no. No."
"You chose 'trick'."
"I'm not wearing those."
"Come on, Lisbon. Get in the spirit - pardon the pun... It's for the kids. When they knock on your door, they expect to be greeted by a witch."
He continued before she could hurl a response at him.
"That didn't come out right."
"You'd better hope it didn't come out right," she threatened as she stalked closer to him.
He kept his flashlight trained on her as she approached. "Now, Lisbon... What I meant was they enjoy it more if the grown ups play along. It was always -"
She stopped walking when he stopped speaking, realising he had been about to reveal a memory about Charlotte. She could imagine Jane taking his daughter trick or treating; the young girl dressed up, Jane too, most likely.
She was about to tell him that he didn't need to finish that sentence when he carried on.
"It was always better when the neighbours tried to scare us."
She smiled, sympathetically, at him, but understood that he wouldn't want to discuss that any further. "My neighbours are used to me not trying to scare them -"
"I think your scream scared several of them."
She narrowed her eyes at him for that quip. "Isn't it enough that I bought candy and actually intend to answer the door?"
Jane nodded, thoughtfully. "Yes. Yes, that would be enough except..."
With a heavy sigh she finished that for him. "Except, I chose 'trick'."
With another sigh, she held out her free hand.
"No, let me," he smiled, placing his flashlight on the table and stuffing the hat under his arm while he prepared the cloak.
He moved closer to her and swung the fabric round her back. She lifted her chin so he could tie it at her neck, and couldn't resist watching him while his eyes were not on hers. She enjoyed observing Jane when he wasn't aware it was happening. They were little glimpses of the real Jane, she thought.
"Light, please," he requested.
She adjusted the flashlight in her hand so that the beam shone upwards, illuminating her face in much the same way his had been lit earlier.
He glanced up at her and now his face lit up with genuine delight. She smiled back at him, pleased that he wasn't dwelling on the difficult memories that had come up. She knew he had been struggling, since his hallucinations; that they had added a further level to his suffering. But, in some ways, he also seemed slightly more open to moving on - as if perhaps "Charlotte" had convinced him of things he had been denying to himself.
He returned his eyes to tying the cloak, and she resumed watching him - and stopping herself from dwelling on the fact that he was so close. She hadn't needed hallucinations to point out what she had been denying to herself. Six months of worrying and not knowing where Jane was had done that for her. Along with the feelings stirred within her at hearing about him and Lorelei. She tried not to think about it. Any of it. But, occasionally it was kind of nice to imagine...
"There we are," he said as he straightened up.
She hoped she didn't look guilty, and smiled pleasantly at him while he took the hat and placed it on her head.
"It suits you," he told her.
She hit him on the arm.
"So violent," he murmured, walking back to where he had left the bag.
"So deserving of it," she retorted, trying not to feel cold now he had stepped away.
He rooted in the bag and she felt a sense of dread that there was more to this trick.
"I think this is enough," she told him.
"Just one more finishing touch," he said, carrying a small box with him when he returned to stand in front of her.
She directed the light at the box so she could see what it was.
"Oh, definitely not! You are not painting me green!" she stated, moving back to the candles to make it clear that was the end of the discussion.
"Oh, come on, for the kids," he pouted.
"Emotional blackmail won't work. Jane, green face paint will not come off properly. I'll look ill for days."
She set each candle to the side as she lit it, their flames casting a warm golden glow over that part of the kitchen.
Jane moved up next to her. "Well at least let me give you some warts."
"No. I'm wearing the hat and the cloak and I'll even let you take a photo if you want, you can show the others."
"There usually isn't negotiation after someone chooses 'trick'."
"The trick is usually eggs thrown at their house."
"I'd have gone with, 'usually people give a treat, to avoid the trick.'"
"You left me no choice."
"I believe you have a bowl of candy by the door."
She froze, and sensed him smirk beside her. He leaned in close to her, his voice directly next to her ear when he continued, "Admit it, Teresa, you wanted to know what the trick would be."
"You would have accepted candy?" She tried desperately to ignore his proximity.
"I like candy."
"You can have -"
"Too late now. Now, be a good sport. I won't paint you green, but the compromise is warts."
Rolling her eyes, as she did so often when it came to him, she turned round, finding there was barely space to do so because he was standing so close to her.
"You'll have to hold the light in place," he pointed out.
"'Let me paint you, turn around, hold the light'," she mimicked.
"Well you've got the grumpiness down pat."
"The trick or treaters have probably all been and gone by now."
"We'd have heard them," he argued as he popped the lid of a little pot and placed it on the countertop beside her. He then produced a small paint brush, seemingly from nowhere, and dipped it in the pot before lifting it to her face.
"Now hold still," he instructed.
She waited until the brush was about to touch her skin and then she moved the light.
He stopped and looked at her sternly. "If you'd like me to do this purely by candlelight then I will, but I can't guarantee it will turn out well."
"You're enjoying this too much," she remarked, returning the light so she could at least minimise the damage.
"Of course I am," he agreed as he touched the brush to her face, his fingers landing on her cheek to steady his hand, "Teresa Lisbon, completely at my mercy."
She spoke carefully so as not to move her cheek but had to retort, "In your dreams."
He was still concentrating on the face painting when he responded with, "In my dreams, you'd be wearing only the hat and the cloak."
She suspected her sudden intake of breath was audible. Her wide eyes sought out his as they shifted upwards, probably hoping to see that she hadn't heard what he had said.
"Did I say that out loud?"
Still he didn't move anything but his eyes. They looked down, briefly, before returning to hers and holding her surprised and confused gaze.
"What did you... mean?" she asked, tentatively, recognising immediately the resemblance to a moment in a warehouse in Las Vegas. A moment when he had pretended not to know what she was talking about. He could hardly play that card now.
"I think that was -"
"No, Jane... Were you joking or do you... think about...?"
His hand left her cheek, moving to her side, where he put down the brush. His gaze followed it and she got the feeling he was about to step away. Disappointment churned her stomach but she remained in place, ready to deal with whatever his answer was. Realistically, she knew that he probably wasn't ready for this conversation. Realistically, she knew that she probably wasn't ready either.
So she was surprised when he didn't move away and even more surprised when he met her gaze and answered her question, "Sometimes."
She had no response to that, unexpected as it was, but it did send a shiver through her body.
"Not -..." he quickly tried to clarify, "I don't picture you - ..."
"It's okay," she interjected, realising this was quickly turning into a friendship-altering moment.
He frowned. "It is?"
She nodded. "Sure. We'll just... forget you said anything."
"I think that's best."
He nodded once, but, she noted, still didn't move away. In fact he inched closer.
And in a voice more intense than she had ever heard it, he whispered, "Scared, Teresa?"
The racing heart, shaky breathing and instinctual desire to run certainly indicated that she was. But she was also exactly where she wanted to be.
"Should I be?" she whispered in return.
In the candlelight, he looked even more angelic than usual when he smiled at her. "I'm terrified," he admittedly softly.
"Then step away."
Their chests bumped as they both breathed deeply, their eyes were once more locked together, and Lisbon switched off the flashlight when she realised her face was still uplit eerily. This broke the tension a little, bringing forth a small laugh from Jane.
"I can't seem to step back," he said, softly. "I think you've put a spell on me."
"Yes, in the minutes since you put this trendy hat on my head I have honed my witchy skills and now you're under my control."
"I knew it."
"I really should move away."
She nodded. But again he just edged closer. Bringing his head nearer this time as well, his forehead almost rested against her hat.
"Do you want me to move away?"
She managed to suppress her immediate response of 'No!'. Instead she forced herself to be sensible. "I want us to be able to work together tomorrow."
Jane looked proud. "Always the practical one... Teresa, ask me to step back and I will."
"Jane... You can't put this all on me... I know how I feel. I know that you're a huge risk and I'm probably a complete idiot for falling for you, but no amount of talking myself out of it has made a difference. If you want to stop this, you'll have to stop -"
"I don't want to."
"Okay. Then can you handle what comes next?"
She watched him swallow hard. "There's only one way to find out."
He shifted his head and his lips captured hers, firmly but tenderly, moving in nervous exploration. She tilted her head back - as much as she could with a cupboard behind it and a pointy hat on it - to deepen the kiss, and her free hand landed on his waist, encouraging him to stay close. His hand, that had earlier rested upon her cheek so he could paint her skin, now returned to gently cup her cheek, holding her still as he welcomed the escalation in passion that she initiated. Lips parted; tongues tangled and air was snatched quickly between increasingly heated kisses.
When Jane's hand slipped into her hair, she felt the hat move and managed to think clearly enough to remove it and drop it to the kitchen floor - before it fell off and landed on the naked flames beside her. Then all her attention returned to Jane and the incredible sensation of actually kissing him...
Until there was a knock at the front door and Jane smiled against her, breaking their momentum. Two more, languid, kisses then he pulled back.
"We're going to miss the trick or treaters," he pointed out, breathlessly.
Lisbon shrugged one shoulder. "You can have the candy."
His eyes slowly swept around her face, a look of adoration in them, as he smiled at her again. "That's a little selfish, Lisbon," he pointed out, voice still quiet.
"It's very selfish," she amended.
He looked at her in that way he had, where she felt like he actually could read her mind. "It's not just that I'm irresistible. Go on, say what you're thinking."
And then he kissed her again, drawing her closer, both hands steadying her head now. He kissed her softly, then forcefully, then softly again; ran his tongue along her lips but then didn't finish what he had started. He broke it down to gentle touches, mere glimpses of a caress, then, when her eyes fluttered open, he was waiting, expectantly.
She got his point: If she was willing to do that, then she had to be willing to talk to him.
"I'm scared we'll break the spell," she admitted, more shyly than she would have liked.
His lips quirked. "I was only joking about you bewitching me."
"I know... But candlelight and proximity... Even without my witchy powers, there may be other forces at work here."
"Well, who'd have thought it, Teresa Lisbon believes in magic."
"Well, this has never happened any other night, has it?"
She watched him consider that. "If it's Halloween magic, I'm sure it'll last until midnight, regardless of if we pause to answer the door a few times."
She had to face what she had been trying to ignore. "You want to stop."
He kept her close. "I think we should take this slowly."
"Mmm, now you're being the practical one," she frowned.
"It's understandable that you can't think straight right now, so I'll stand in."
Another eye roll, but she appreciated him trying to lighten the atmosphere a little.
"Teresa, you're scared because you think I'll regret this as soon as I have time to think..."
That was an accurate assessment, she couldn't deny it.
"... I'm scared because I know I won't... Whatever the reason why this happened tonight, it happened. Finally."
She was torn now between complete and utter confusion, and complete and utter delight.
"I have told myself that you're just a friend; that I missed you a completely rational amount when I was in Vegas. I've told myself that the "love you" didn't mean anything and that the guilt I felt after Lorelei was purely because of Angela..."
She couldn't believe that he was saying this, but that last part especially rendered her speechless.
"... This wasn't supposed to happen; you don't fit into the plan... But I can't find a single part of me that isn't excited about this; not a single part that hasn't been waiting for this... This is ... big. And I'd like to tread carefully."
She wanted to say something in response. She started with, "You -" but couldn't find the rest of the sentence.
"I?" he prompted, looking far too pleased with himself.
She was saved by another knock at the door.
"Get the door," she instructed him.
She had never seen anyone look so thrilled to be given that command. "Are you sure?" he checked, quietly, before he even moved an inch.
He drew her in for a quick, tender kiss, then dropped back and picked up a candle. "I'll get this one," he told her, "But you need to get the others. You're the one in costume."
She watched him position the candle beneath his chin as he opened the front door, and she laughed at the frightening sounds he made, bringing forth giggling from the children outside.
Bending, she picked up her hat from where she had dropped it, and she thought back on what had just happened, on everything he had just said. She knew she was in a euphoric state of disbelief. She knew that once that wore off she would have to face that this wasn't going to be at all easy. But, tonight, at least they had a little Halloween magic to help them along.
Replacing her hat upon her head, and straightening out her cloak, she headed for the door. Trick or treat indeed.