by Jade Hawthorne

TITLE: Awareness
AUTHOR: Jade Hawthorne ( DISCLAIMER: Not mine, just borrowing.
SPOILERS: Season 7, post-Closure
SUMMARY: He's noticing so much more these days, more than he has in years.


by Jade Hawthorne

She laughed today, a genuine, throaty laugh, for the first time he can remember. For the first time since her cancer and a dying little girl stripped her emotions away. Or maybe it's just the first time he's noticed. He's noticing so much more these days, more than he has in years. All the attention to detail that he formerly focused on the profiles of killers or whispers of informants is now broadening to include a greater world.

To include her.

The way her hair falls over her eyes in waves of sunset when she concentrates on paperwork. The way she's taken to wearing body conscious clothing that flatters her petite frame instead of the frumpy power suits she used to favor. The elegant lines of her classical nose, with freckles just visible under a translucent layer of powder. The bow of her lips as she absently chews on a pen. Did he ever notice before that her eyes are the color of the summer sea, instead of just plain blue?

She's comfortable with him now. She doesn't flinch when he moves closer. The easy banter they used to share has returned, and they can debate again without the undercurrent of anger and resentment. She jokes and laughs, and he swears he can see something in her eyes beyond duty and obligation when she looks at him. He can feel something between them when they're riding in a car, soft and warm yet crackling with electricity.

Maybe she's picking up on the ease and the comfort he feels. He came back from California a changed man. He looked up at the stars and told her he was free, and he believed it. Free to live without the guilt that had been his longtime companion. Free to focus on the curve of her body as it melted into his. Free to think about something beyond the chase, the quest that had defined him for so long. Free to come up with a new definition of who he is and what they are to each other.

For the first time in his adult life he feels whole, not crazy, not damaged, somehow worthy and whole. And he wonders how much of this feeling comes from finding his sister and how much springs from his discovery of the woman by his side.

He finds himself wanting to make her laugh, just to hear that sound again, a peal of joy that sounds like music to his ears. The old sly, crude innuendoes are not what he's after these days, although they're still good for a chuckle. He used to want to break her facade, crack her mask, provoke a reaction to make her notice him. Now he wants to make her happy, to make her fall into his arms for the pure joy of it.

He thinks about kissing her. He kissed her on New Year's Eve in the safest of ways, but caught up in his old cycle of guilt and pain, he buried it, laughed it away, and ran scared from any feelings it might have sparked. He wonders if that hurt her... not that she would have shared that with him then.

But maybe now, if he keeps making her laugh, keeps noticing her, learning her signs and signals... just maybe he'll know when the time is right to pull her to him, press his lips to hers and never let go.


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