|Just This Once
Author: LittleMender PM
"Blood on Blood" Tag. Someone should have been there for her. They should have cared, should have seen her bruises and seen through her trying to cover them up as well as the shameful secret they evidenced. She should've been someone's "just this once."Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Teresa L. & Patrick J. - Words: 2,022 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 21 - Follows: 2 - Published: 02-11-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6734805
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I loved this episode and wanted to write a tag, then decided not to, then couldn't help myself. Don't own it—just tagged it.
JUST THIS ONCE
Episode Tag for "Blood on Blood"
Jane walked up the ramp to Juvenile Detention, not taking his eyes off of Lisbon. He hoped she would, just this once, eschew what was the law for what was the right. Trina deGeorge didn't deserve punishment for protecting herself, for doing what she had to do in killing her father. He really thought he could convince her, that they had come far enough that he could accurately gauge her reactions and persuade her to his way of thinking. He had made a slight miscalculation in so forcefully using Trina's father's abuse as an argument to win his cause, not realizing it would so forcefully wrench a confession from Lisbon about her own abusive father. But her immediate reaction to her indiscretion had turned it back to his advantage. She had wanted to snatch back what she had said, as if the words hadn't passed her lips. He could move on to the next thrust without meeting her parry.
Now they were closer to the door, and though he saw in his periphery the near abomination of children in prison uniforms, some in chains, he couldn't stop watching her. Hoping against hope. He never thought he would apply that particular phrase to Teresa Lisbon.
He was relieved, to say the least, when at the last moment, she turned from the steel mesh window and took Trina's hand, guided her back to the car and took her home. The only thing he felt more strongly was pride. He was so proud of her.
Trina safely tucked into her aunt's protective embrace, Lisbon walked away from the house back to the car, not able to get away from the cloying weight of gratitude fast enough, her badge feeling heavy on her hip. She slid into her seat and shut the door, clicked her seatbelt and then slumped against it, waiting for Jane to get in.
He wouldn't have spoken, even if he knew what to say. The expression she wore warned him against any attempt. She started the car, shifted into drive and pulled away from the curb. He didn't miss the heaviness of her movements, bound by a new gravity.
They rode for a while in silence. He wanted to crack the window. Just a bit. Just to get some air moving in the closeness. But he didn't dare even do that. He was pleased with the outcome for the girl's sake, but he had a flicker of doubt about the cost, realizing he didn't have to bear it, not even in part.
He was surprised into taking hold of the handle that jutted out just above his door when Lisbon suddenly swerved across two lanes, horns blaring at and around them, to exit the freeway. She barely decelerated into the curve of the ramp in spite of the posted twenty-five mile per hour warning. Pulling into a gas station parking lot and into the parking space farthest from the building—the only one with shade—she brought the vehicle to rest and switched off the ignition.
He watched her as she looked out the windshield, looking at and watching nothing. She was in control now . . . No, that wasn't quite right. She was just calling the shots. She wasn't quite in control. He sat mesmerized, trying not to breathe too loudly as he watched her struggle. It only took seconds for her to wrestle through and gain a firm hold.
"My father didn't keep a gun in the house."
His left eye pulled into a slight squint as he tried to understand what she meant. It was all she said. She gave nothing else away in expression or gesture or posture, as if those nine words were all she could bear to part with on the matter—all she could stand to give.
He reached toward her, but his hand only hovered above the console between them. She hadn't moved exactly, but something in her manner had conveyed a flinch, a withdrawing from his touch.
He saw it so clearly now. He had been watching her and not them. Lisbon and Trina had stood at the window side by side, looking at one another.
"It's okay, Teresa." Trina wanted her to know it was all right to do what she thought was best, to do what Trina knew was the law. But Lisbon had looked into her eyes for a second, and then he remembered what had subconsciously registered at the time.
They were so much alike physically he didn't know why he hadn't seen it before. The two heads of chestnut hair, one darkened by age, the fair skin dotted with a delicate pattern of freckles, the jade-green eyes—even their profiles of long angular nose and slight overbite were the same. In that instant, something had passed over Lisbon, a vulnerability of memory and pain and kinship and something else . . . There but for the grace of God.
Lisbon hadn't resisted killing her father because she was weak or afraid or already imbued with a sense of the law. It had only been lack of access. My father didn't keep a gun in the house.
She finally accepted that he understood what she was trying to say, and for some reason it made it easier for her to continue.
"It was better that way. We could stay together, and I could take care of my brothers."
He wondered how many times she had told herself that. He knew he should tread easy, but he couldn't help himself.
"You mean it was all right so long as you could take the brunt of it."
He thought his outburst would make her angry. She didn't like it that people knew even in part what her childhood had been like, and he knew that, like his own pain, she wouldn't like when other people talked as if they understood it. But she only laughed, light and bitter and brittle.
"Something like that, yeah."
She was looking out her window now, rubbing her hands up and down her thighs. The heel of her right palm caught on the lower point of her badge, and she frowned down at it then unclipped it and dropped it into a cup holder before she turned back to look out the window, her hands lying idle and helpless in her lap.
"Just this once," she murmured to herself. Again, he struggled to catch her meaning. Was she throwing the words back at him? He had caught the look of suspicion, almost venomous, when he had asked her to consider, just this once, taking it into her own hands to do the right thing. He knew she was wondering if he was setting her up, trying to move her towards a future, another "just this once". But he had reiterated the words, making sure she understood that wasn't his intention. He wanted to do this for Trina, yes, but it was just as important that he do it for Lisbon. He knew how she would feel about all of it once the dust had settled, and he was certain driving away and leaving Trina at Juvenile would tear her up even more than this.
Again, he caught up to her meaning with an abrupt and wrenching suddenness.
This wasn't her first "just this once".
He had not taken for granted her generous grace when she had let his brother-in-law slip out the door and away from charges of fraud and whatever else the SPD could throw at him. But then Danny hadn't killed anyone. And she was so pleased that she had almost been able to keep up with him during the investigation. And really, fraud was such a small fish to fry compared to everything else. But there had been bigger fish. He had never pushed to know what secret she had held over Bosco's head to get him out of jail. The fact that she'd done so was another case in point. Nearly anyone else she would've left in the cell.
The heaviness that bore down on her small frame, making it look even smaller to him now wasn't about today but all the other days, all the other times. She was a creature of rules and regulations and protocol. They were the reason her first thought had been to call Juvenile Services. They gave her life, her mind, her actions, even her heart a much-needed order, necessary for her survival. He still wasn't sorry, but now he felt some of the bearing of the cost himself.
He reached for her badge and picked it up, weighing it in his hand. It was the first time he had ever touched it. It was heavy and solid, not like the child's dress-up tin star. It was real and significant. He brought his other hand over it, tracing its rises and falls with his fingers.
"The intent, if not the letter."
"What?" She turned to him now, and he was glad for the sheer relief of being able to look into her eyes.
"The law. The intent, if not the letter. Don't we do what we do, not just to stop the guilty but to protect the innocent? Not just to arrest the criminal but give relief to the victim?"
He had used the word "we" a lot today. Usually his world consisted of "I" and "me", "you" and "them".
"We don't have to do this."
"We can let her go—just this once."
"Yes. That is what we do." She had caught it, too.
All at once his sadness overwhelmed him. Someone should have been there for her. Someone should have cared, should have seen her bruises and seen through her trying to cover them up as well as the shameful secret they evidenced. She should've been someone's "just this once".
"Then we did good today. Today in this once."
She thought about it a moment and then smiled at him, weakly but genuinely.
"Yeah. I guess we did."
"You did good today."
She understood his meaning. He wasn't saying she merely did well. Trina had saved herself from an abusive, murderous father, but Lisbon's decision had saved her from everything else.
She switched the ignition back on, and in a moment of whimsy, he lifted the badge and clipped it to his jacket breast pocket. She laughed at him in disbelief.
"Is it just me, or is it starting to disintegrate? Just a little . . . around the edges?"
"I just wanted to see what it feels like to wear it. Move on, little missy. Not too fast, now. Ya hear?"
"That was the worst John Wayne imitation I have ever heard."
"Good. 'Cause I was going for Jimmy Stewart."
"Just make sure you remember to give that back to me before we go back in the building. I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong impression."
"What? Like you pinned me?"
She glared at him, and he batted his eyelashes back at her.
"Be careful with that attitude, little—"
"If you say little lady, I will break your hand."
He held his hands up and away from her in surrender, his eyes rounded with pretend fear.
"Yes, ma'am . . . do you reckon we could swing into that ice cream shop up ahead and git us some confectionaries?"
She sighed heavily and switched on the turn signal.
"You can stop now. It's okay."
He tilted his head and looked at her, seeing that young girl in her profile again. "It's okay to do what you have to do."
"Only if you let me pay."
"Oh, don't worry, Jane . . . you will."