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Title: Bare Hands
(on AO3)
By Clarity Enmuse
Rating: Teen
Words: ~4,000
Characters: Cho/Jane with appearances from the rest of the team
Timeline: Only season one events are explicitly mentioned.
Summary: The long-standing working title for this was "x times Cho walked away & the first time Jane convinced him to stay." Simply put, I present you with 5 firsts along the way to the first time Cho and Jane get together. Obviously, it's not a simple path.

All my heartfelt thanks to heffermonkey for a quick turnaround beta. She's still my Mentalist Enabler ;)


The first time Cho realized he was attracted to Jane was during a case that took them to the beach.

His mouth went dry as Jane stretched casually in the bright sun and somehow managed to flop gracefully onto the sand. Shirt un-tucked and vest unbuttoned, the fabric rode up to reveal a strip of pale skin. Cho's gaze roamed over the length of Jane's relaxed body. He tried to convince himself that the sun was the only reason he felt overheated.

Rigsby said something to the effect that they needed to leave to continue the investigation. Jane waved a dismissive hand before folding his arms behind his head.

"I think I'll just stay here for a while."

From the corner of his eye, Cho caught Rigsby's perplexed expression. Cursing the need to first clear his throat, Cho asked, "What are we supposed to tell Lisbon?"

Jane squinted up at them. He caught Cho's gaze and his smile widened. "Why don't you lay down and join me? The case isn't going anywhere, no suspects are going to run. You'll look good with some sun."

Rigsby glanced between Cho and Jane with a look of confusion. "Um... do you need me to cover for you so you can have some time alone?"

"No!" Cho snapped at the same time Jane said, "Great idea!"

Cho clenched his jaw and purposefully kicked sand at Jane's head as he marched away. Thankfully Rigsby made no further comment as he caught up to Cho.


The first time Cho realized Jane was genuinely flirting with him was during the case with Paul Fricke, the pick-up artist.

Everyone knew Jane was a natural flirt – it was one of his many ways of getting under people's skins, for better or worse. There had been times when Cho was alone, behind closed doors, and usually late at night, that he had entertained fantasies where Jane's attention had meant something more. But Cho left that to fantasy, needed it to stay fantasy for rare, private moments. Moving meaningful attention to the realm of reality would only bring trouble.

Unfortunately, it seemed Trouble-with-a-capital-T was Jane's middle name. So Cho had to clamp down on the urge to panic as Jane proposed, in a quiet, sultry tone, that the two of them go shopping for "proper attire." "Just you and me," Jane said with a little smile. Cho managed to keep his expression straight as he turned away without answering.

Despite his misgivings, Cho couldn't shake Jane when it came time to find suitable clothing to fit his undercover role. With reluctance he followed Jane's suggestions – while stubbornly ignoring Jane's side commentary. When they met up with the team at the hotel, Cho resisted the urge to roll his eyes at Van Pelt's appreciative whistle and Lisbon's smirk.

"Looks like you'll be irresistible!" Jane approved with a grin. He swung a companionable arm around Cho's shoulders. "Just don't get into anything you don't want us to hear or see." Cho scowled in response.

As he extricated himself from Jane's grip, Cho noticed Rigsby's thoughtful stare.

At the end of the night, long after Haightly had been arrested and carted away, Cho sat at the hotel bar. He decided he was off duty now that the case was closed and Lisbon had gone to book their culprit. Paperwork would start in the morning. Cho ordered a rum and coke and settled onto a stool to drink.

Seconds later Jane slid onto the stool next to him, leaning close enough that their arms brushed together. Cho took a large swallow of his drink and tried to subtly put some distance between them. Jane ordered a club soda with a lime wedge before commenting, "You were more at ease whispering lewd proposals to strangers."

Cho stiffened. "Part of the role. I'm sure you found it entertaining."

Jane smirked as he accepted his glass. "I didn't know you could talk like that, Cho. I didn't tell the others what you said – delicate ears and all." When he set his drink down, his arm again touched Cho's.

Determining that subtly wasn't going to make a difference, Cho said, "Stop it." He shifted over on his stool until he was sitting on the edge; at least there was space between them.

Jane turned to face him, the humor in his expression fading. "We're off the clock. Lisbon's not here, Van Pelt isn't here, and Rigsby's not here. Moon's out, people are involved in their own little worlds, and we're sitting at a bar." He arched an eyebrow and blatantly ran an assessing gaze over Cho from head to toe. "And you look ready to engage in some unprofessional behavior."

Cho felt his face heat in a mix of anger and embarrassment. "You're full of yourself," he snapped. He grabbed his wallet and dug out enough money to leave for his drink.

"Am I?" Jane asked. His calm tone prompted Cho to look over again and their gazes caught. "I'm not off the mark."

Cho pushed off the stool and turned away. "Leave me alone, Jane," he muttered as he walked away.


The first time they kissed, Cho had been following Jane on orders from Lisbon to "keep Jane out of trouble." They'd both known it was a helpless cause, but Cho played along in hopes of limiting the chaos Jane might otherwise incite.

The United Sisterhood for the Arts was opening its new gallery as planned despite the murder of the group's vice-president. The large, two-story gallery was the culmination of several years' worth of fundraising and construction to create a place to host up-and-coming talents. The CBI team had graciously been invited by the curator; convenient since Lisbon would otherwise have been forced to insist on attending to further the investigation.

So Cho was on "Jane duty" the opening night of the gallery when the consultant slipped away down a side corridor. He was waiting just out of sight as Cho turned the corner. The blond grinned and motioned Cho forward. As Cho caught up to walk at Jane's side, he wondered if Lisbon had seen them. She and the others were mingling with the guests, listening in on conversations and trying to catch any details their suspects might have "overlooked" during interviews.

"Where are you going?" Cho asked, voice low as they moved away from the noise of the main hall.

Jane waved a hand in the direction of the corridor's end. "The employee area is upstairs. Want to bet we find something incriminating in the treasurer's office?"

"I don't bet," Cho reminded. He let Jane take the lead on the stairs. "You know, there's a security system covering all sections of the building, not just the galleries."

"That's your complaint? Nothing about a pesky warrant? Why Agent Cho, I think you're slipping." Jane cast a flirtatious smirk over his shoulder as he reached the top of the stairs. "Don't worry about the alarms."

Cho grimaced as he again fell into step with Jane. "Unless you bypass the system, we're going to be greeting overeager guards."

Jane replied, "Oh, I think old school will work well." He nodded at a door about six feet ahead with a sign reading Staff and Emergency Only. The door had a bar across its middle that had to be pressed to open.

Before Cho could make a disparaging remark, Jane grabbed his arm and spun him so that they faced each other. Cho caught a glimpse of Jane's calculating expression before their faces were too close to see much of anything. Jane's lips moved over Cho's mouth, his hand cradled the back of Cho's head. Jane's body propelled Cho backward until he hit the door – hard enough that it opened...

The agent was stunned beyond reaction for only a moment before he began to return the kiss. His mouth opened to let in Jane's adventurous tongue, and he shuddered as Jane un-tucked his shirt and slid a hand beneath it to caress bare skin.

When Jane pulled away slightly Cho had to bite back a groan of protest. He breathed heavily, eyes closed as he tried to process what had just happened.

Jane's voice brought everything back into harsh perspective. "Do you mind, gentlemen?" Jane glowered convincingly at the two young men in security uniforms. Both looked distinctly uncomfortable.

"Uh, you're not, ah, supposed to be up here," the braver one said. His partner muttered into his walkie-talkie to order the silent alarm be turned off.

Jane managed to look affronted. "Do you have any idea who I am? If you don't give us some privacy in the next thirty seconds, I'll have you fired and ensure you won't even be able to get a job flipping burgers in a fifty mile radius."

The guards backed up nervously. "Uh, look, Sir... We're really sorry. Could you just, ah, you know... move away from the door?"

"Ten seconds," Jane said coolly. One of the guards might have squeaked as they made a hasty retreat.

Cho shoved away from Jane as soon as they were alone. He stumbled back into a dark workroom that connected to the inner offices. Jane sedately stepped inside and eased the door closed.

"They should probably hire more experienced employees," Jane commented with a small smile.

Cho turned away and started for the door leading to the offices. "Let's find whatever it is you're looking for and get out," he muttered.

"Hey—" Jane caught up with Cho and dropped a hand on his shoulder.

Cho pulled away immediately and hoped Jane could see his glare in the barely-there light. "I don't like being a distraction," he snapped. After a deep breath he felt a little calmer. "Now hurry up."

Jane relented and moved ahead to lead the search.

For the rest of the night Cho managed to dodge any attempt Jane made to bring up the kiss. In the days following, Cho made sure to never let Jane catch him alone, thus precluding any opportunity to bring up the topic.


The first time Cho slept with Jane – and that wasn't a euphemism – they were both injured and trapped in a basement of an abandoned farmhouse.

"This is the last time I'm pulling Jane Duty," Cho muttered as he wiped away the blood trickling into his eye. He'd fallen hard on his right side when the floor collapsed. It had taken several minutes to catch his breath and clear the spots from his vision. It took even longer to convince his body to let him sit up.

"What?" Jane asked from across the room where he examined the long-ago collapsed stairs.

Cho clenched his jaw as a wave of pain engulfed his side. He wrapped an arm around his ribs and decided to ignore his bloody forehead; the gash seemed to be clotting, anyway. In response to Jane he said, "You're a pain in the ass."

Jane turned and walked back to Cho. He had a slight limp and carefully held one of his arms close to his torso. Even injured and covered with dust and wood splinters, his smile shone with its usual brightness. "And that's why Lisbon's insisted on 'Jane Duty?' One would think agents have more important things to do."

Cho grunted softly as he cautiously leaned back against the fallen beams that had given way with the floor. "It certainly proves to be pointless," he agreed. He closed his eyes and focused on keeping his nausea at bay.

"Hey. Cho, come on. Open your eyes." Jane's voice was quietly insistent. Cho felt something tapping against his cheeks. He tried to bat away the annoyance but gasped in reaction to the flare of pain from his ribs.

"Cho!" Jane said louder.

Cho opened his eyes and found Jane leaning close, expression concerned. It took a few moments for Cho to recall the details of their situation. "Fuck," he muttered.

Jane offered a tiny smile. "Yeah." He leaned back on his heels, and Cho realized the blond had knelt next to him. "You probably have a concussion."

"No shit, Sherlock." Cho carefully tried to move his arm but the spike of pain aborted the plan. "Cracked rib or two," he said between gritted teeth. He looked Jane over and frowned at the protective way the blond held his left arm.

Jane noticed the look and explained, "Broken. Not too bad, considering." He looked up at the jagged edges of the hole above them.

Cho snorted quietly. "Maybe you'll take more than a few seconds to decide to go running off to explore parts unknown next time."

Jane gave Cho a considering look and shrugged with his good shoulder. "Broken arm isn't a big deal."

Cho sighed and once again closed his eyes. "I repeat: no more Jane Duty."

They sat in silence for long minutes. Eventually Cho heard Jane shifting position and a moment later felt Jane's arm brush against his.

"The sun's set. They'll be wondering why you haven't checked in," Jane said quietly.

"Well unless they talk to the Connors' neighbor, they won't know where to look." Cho opened his eyes to stare down at the cellphone in his lap. Jane shook his head before Cho could check for a signal.

"No technology friendly spot down here; tried mine out in all corners."

With a sigh, Cho did his best to get comfortable. "The whole area's spotty."

It was impossible to breathe without discomfort so he tried to divert his attention with something else. Without making the conscious decision, he focused on the warmth of Jane at his side. He was too weary to berate himself for letting down his guard. It didn't take long for his breathing to even out with Jane's.

A few minutes later, Cho drifted into a world of dreams.


The first time Jane asked Cho on a date, they were sitting in an exam room at a small clinic after Lisbon had lectured them about going off without giving her a heads-up. Cho hadn't mustered up the energy to argue, but Jane smiled through his usual routine of charm and casual dismissal of Lisbon's (completely legitimate) concerns. In the end, Lisbon threw her hands up in frustration, rolled her eyes, and headed out the door, saying she'd see them in the lobby.

"That went better than expected," Jane said shortly after Lisbon exited.

Cho snorted softly.

"I'm not off the case," Jane continued smugly.

"She'll probably let the locals lock you up the instant you ignore her orders," Cho replied, glancing sidelong at the blond. He looked at the icepack Jane was turning over in his hand. "You need to keep that on your wrist for it to do any good."

"It's already getting warm," Jane complained. Surprisingly, he complied and replaced the icepack over his wrapped wrist. Turned out he hadn't broken anything, but he had badly sprained his wrist.

The blond gave Cho a shrewd look. "How about you? Wouldn't you be more comfortable lying down?"

Cho grimaced as he shook his head. "I'm fine. We'll be out of here in a few minutes, and I'll lay down back at the room." No position was going to be comfortable with three cracked ribs and the extensive mottled bruising down his entire side. His head still ached, though not as badly as the night before after falling through the floor. He was hoping whatever prescription the doctor gave him for pain would knock him out for a while. If he wasn't going to be allowed right back on the case, he wanted to sleep through as much of the pain as he could.

His focus came back from contemplation of his injuries when Jane moved closer and placed his uninjured hand on Cho's knee. "I was thinking I could treat you to dinner when we get home."

Cho didn't really consider the possible significance as he replied, "You don't have to apologize for—" The pressure on his knee increased for a moment as Jane caught his attention.

"No. I mean..." Jane paused a moment, visibly taking a breath. "I'd like you to come to dinner with me."

Oh. Cho looked away from the intent stare. He meant to say "no," but he couldn't make himself speak. He didn't want to think about what Jane meant. The longer he waited, the more likely he was going to take a risk. He knew he shouldn't say "yes" when it would put too much in jeopardy.

He mentally braced himself and reestablished eye contact. It was on the tip of his tongue—

The door opened and a nurse walked in. Cho quietly said, "No." He turned away and accepted the prescription slips the nurse handed him.

Cho resisted the urge to look over at Jane all the way to the lobby. Lisbon resumed her earlier chiding with the warning that she would handcuff Cho to the hotel room's sink if he showed his face at the local police station before the doctor recommended. Her scolding provided enough of a buffer for Cho to risk a glance at the blond. Jane's expression was a polite blank and his gaze was carefully fixed on Lisbon as she herded them out the door.

The first time Jane asked Cho on a date wouldn't be the last.


Cho had known for months he was falling in love. His usually healthy sense of self-preservation seemed to fail when Jane was involved. Despite the long list of logical arguments he could make against getting involved with the other man, Cho struggled every time to turn down any invitation Jane made that offered more than friendship.

It had been tempting to give in as far back as that first time Jane showed interest. Now it was at least ten times more difficult to resist. However, he managed to continue to decline, albeit quietly and sometimes unsteadily.

On rare occasions – usually after Jane had seemed to put a particular amount of effort into presenting his sincerity – Cho allowed himself regret; he realized that he should have accepted Jane's early advances, back when he was attracted but not very emotionally invested. At the time, they might have managed something. Then, it would still have been a gamble, but now, it was all or nothing for Cho. He knew he wouldn't be Jane's highest priority and it wasn't fair to ask that. Some days Cho could almost convince himself he wouldn't need that commitment; he didn't have to be the most significant person in anyone's life – right?

In the end, he found the easiest way to keep himself firm on his non-involvement pact was to glance at the wedding band still circling Jane's finger. It was a powerful reminder of the significant issues Jane had yet to handle.

"There's supposed to be a spectacular meteor shower on Thursday," Jane commented. His voice was pitched in a way that clearly indicated he was talking to Cho, but he was hardly quiet enough for Van Pelt or Rigsby to miss. By now the other agents barely blinked when these exchanges took place in front of them. "I know a place. Perfect view...?"

Cho reluctantly avoided looking at Jane's face, instead seeking out the familiar glint of gold on the blond's ring finger. The wedding band seemed to wink at Cho. He blinked and moved his gaze to safer territory – his computer screen.

"No, Jane," he said gently. Behind him, he could hear Rigsby mumble something inaudible under a sigh.

Jane stood by Cho's desk a few moments longer, his fingers tapping lightly. In his peripheral vision, Cho saw the blond nod shortly and walk away.

"Idiot," Rigsby muttered just loud enough for Cho to hear. Cho tossed an exasperated, weary glare over his shoulder. The larger man's shoulders slumped in response and his frown looked genuinely sad, but he made no further comment.

Cho turned back to his computer and slowly returned to his work.

A week later, Cho sat with Lisbon in her office as they reviewed the final case report.

Lisbon flipped back to the first page of the report with a nod. "Looks good, Cho. I'll sign off on thi—" The office door opened. "What is it, Jane?" Lisbon sighed.

Cho glanced over his shoulder to see Jane leaning through the doorway. "Hey Lisbon, I need you a minute – it's important."

"Well, I guess we're done anyway..." Lisbon nodded at Cho and he started to stand.

"No, no. Cho, stay put. Lisbon, I need to see you out here." When both agents fixed him with suspicious stares, Jane widened his eyes innocently and rocked back on his heels. "A few minutes, I promise."

"Oh god, don't pout," Lisbon complained as Jane's gaze focused on her. She stood up and rounded the desk. "Fine, you got a minute," she said as she stepped into the hallway.

"Great! Here, hold onto this for me," Jane said, clasping Lisbon's hand in both of his. Whatever he'd handed her caused Lisbon's expression to swiftly morph from irritated to gob-smacked. She stared at Jane with huge eyes as the blond nudged her fully out of the office while he stepped inside. "Just give me a few minutes, okay?" He waved and shut the door, immediately turning the lock and flipping the shades closed.

Cho stood up, instantly on edge. "Jane..." he started warningly.

Jane abandoned the last shade and turned to Cho. "I know this is a poor choice of locale, but you won't spare me a minute alone outside the office." Jane spoke quickly and his hands danced in the air as if he was nervous. "It's not like there's some big secret to keep from the rest of the team, anyway. I haven't been subtle and somehow you've never made a move to stop that, not that I'm complaining, you see. It took me a while, you know. I thought I had it all figured out."

Cho opened his mouth to cut off the rambling before it frayed his nerves too badly, but Jane plowed ahead.

"I'm supposed to be good at this, but sometimes..." Jane hesitated and in that moment Cho saw guilt and regret flicker across the blond's expression. "Sometimes I miss the most important clue. When it comes to most people, it's not very hard to get them talking – you're good at doing that, too. But you..." Jane trailed off with a wry smile. "You are a stubborn, reticent man. You couldn't just drop a hint as to why your answer and your body language don't match up?"

Cho's gaze slid away from Jane and fixed on the corner of Lisbon's desk. "The point, Jane?" he asked wearily. He felt unsteady and wished he could think of a way to escape gracefully.

"I want to—" A frustrated noise escaped Jane's lips as he waved his hand in an all-encompassing gesture. "Take you out. Stay in with you. Spend time with you. I don't really care what we do, as long as you enjoy it." Cho closed his eyes. "Look, this is the last time I'm going to ask."

Cho felt his breath catch and his gaze darted back to Jane's face. The blond offered a lop-sided smile. "Well. Maybe not forever. Probably just for a little while." Cho's panic eased, but he felt a twist of guilt at the relief. He needed to give Jane a definitive answer and stop stringing the man along.


"Let me ask, first," Jane interrupted quietly, raising his hands in a placating gesture.

Whatever the blond said next completely bypassed Cho, who was too busy staring in surprise at Jane's hands. "Hold onto this for me," he'd told Lisbon, Cho thought numbly. Jane's bare hands remained in view, a pale, nearly white strip of skin around one ring finger the only thing worthy of note.

Slowly Cho dragged his stare away from Jane's hands to meet the man's gaze. When their eyes met, Jane lowered his hands. "I know it won't be easy," Jane said slowly, words no longer spilling out at a breakneck speed. "But I genuinely want to give this – us a try. Is that something you're willing to do?"

The first time Jane removed his wedding ring was also the first time Cho said "Yes."

~ Fin ~

Notes: First, I still haven't seen past 3x02, so this story is very much set within my head-canon somewhere vaguely in early season two. Second, this story has sat in a folder with the first four parts completed since something like the spring of 2011, best as I can tell. It was also apparently based on a prompt from riraldernier... I have the sinking suspicion that this was one of those stories I was doing in exchange for some charity donation. I really ought to know better than to promise such things (and truly, I have learned that lesson but apparently this fic predates that). So, er, I HOPE YOU ENJOY.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 16th, 2013 11:19 pm (UTC)
I really, really enjoyed this :D
Feb. 17th, 2013 01:21 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I was surprised and happy when inspiration finally struck to finish it. <3
Feb. 17th, 2013 09:15 am (UTC)
Yay! You posted it :D Love that you're dabbling back in the fandom, hoping to see more.

This was a lovely read x
Feb. 17th, 2013 05:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for taking an early looksee! I have an interesting collection of unfinished things, I've found. I think I should really try to finish Roses are Red, though...
Feb. 17th, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
Awwwww. Lovely. <3
Feb. 17th, 2013 07:34 pm (UTC)
Oh! I run into you for so many fandoms! :D

Glad you enjoyed, I've just realized how much I adore these characters.
Feb. 17th, 2013 07:58 pm (UTC)
Heh, this is kind of a fluke. I don't normally read Mentalist fics, but TLI recced me this. And I'm glad she did. I needed something to make me smile today. :o)
Feb. 17th, 2013 09:22 pm (UTC)
*squeak* Rec'd? Ok and now you've made my day :D
Feb. 24th, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC)
*BIG awww* So cute, and so them *nods* *heart-eyes* Loved this :) <3<3
Feb. 24th, 2013 05:47 pm (UTC)
:) Thank you so much! I do love this pairing so much. ♥
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )