Author: Nerwen Aldarion PM
Co author Tinuviel Undomiel: When tragedy strikes Jane and Lisbon find their roles are reversed. Lisbon is now the one who is shattered and Jane has to attempt to pick up the pieces. Jisbon. Warning: Violence and Graphic ImageryRated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Drama - Patrick J. & Teresa L. - Chapters: 23 - Words: 251,933 - Reviews: 720 - Favs: 162 - Follows: 196 - Updated: 02-10-13 - Published: 01-04-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7711805
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Disclaimer: We own nothing
A/N Nerwen Aldarion: Yahoo! It's past 2 in the morning but we are updating! I'm so excited that we got past 200 reviews, you guys are just so amazing. Thank you so much for reading this fic and giving us your words of encouragement, it always makes us that much more anxious to get back to work, knowing that you guys are waiting for us. So here it is, chapter 9 and it is a doozy. Be ready for the darkness to descend...
A/N Tinuviel Undomiel: Yes, Lisbon begins to take that downward spiral we all knew was coming. It only gets worse after this...for a little while. It will get better, but not until she hits bottom. The good news is that the semester is almost officially over, but we do have finals for the next two weeks so we may not have a whole lot of time to work on this story. However, chapter 10 is even bigger than this one so we may not be able to resist for long. On with the show everyone!
Sir T Ain: First off I'd like to say congratulations for being our 200th reviewer! That's awesome! We're so glad that you find our story enthralling and that you agree with our idea that longer chapters are better hehehe. We are definitely continuing this fic and actually we do have some original fiction that we work on in our spare time. Tin is actually an aspiring novelist so thank you for the fine compliment.
mmm: Oh there will be good stuff, you just have to wait for it hehehe. Honestly, we're not sure how many chapters this fic will be. Definitely over 20, we have the up to chapter 14 or 15 planned out but that still isn't the end. We do have the ending planned, we just aren't sure how many chapters it will take until we get there. Well Mashburn isn't going to make an appearance in this fic, but you might get your wish in seeing her react to someone touching her in this chapter and see how Jane reacts too...just read on and enjoy hehehe.
Anna: Well we're glad you are back in the world of fanfics and are loving this story! The Jisbon scenes are definitely going to continue, enjoy!
123TellMeYouLoveMe: Well we love to reply to reviews because we appreciate people who take the time to tell us how they feel. One of the best parts about the show is Jane and Lisbon's banter so of course we love to play with it. Oh there is a gathering storm coming, this chapter will show how Lisbon is quickly deteriorating even more, you are right to assume that something bad will happen to Lisbon...and soon. Jane is going to continue to deal with his own fears of failing Lisbon, it's going to get worse for him when he sees that she's falling. We're not sure if Minelli will be back on the show but he will be back in this fic, that we can promise. Oh the hair cut was intense but there's more darkness coming, just you wait.
Chapter 9: A Pale Shadow
It was becoming a sort of guessing game for Jane that whenever he drove to Lisbon's apartment to wonder which side of her he would see that day. Sometimes she was almost like her old self, funny and stern in her way of trying to keep him in line, but often she was cold and quiet, a woman who looked like Lisbon but was not the same person he had known for so long. It seemed that more and more often he was seeing this new Lisbon. Her good days were getting further and further apart.
Sophie had said this was a sort of pattern. She would have to get worse before she got better. Jane knew that, he'd experienced it. But he also knew the possibility that Sophie hadn't wanted to admit. Lisbon could fall, keep falling and then hit bottom and never find her way back up. He couldn't let that happen to her.
Jane knocked on the door like he always did. There was always that brief moment of fear that the door wouldn't open, that something had happened to her. He waited those tense seconds but as they ticked by he began to get more concerned. He leaned down and picked up the key he knew he would find tucked under the mat but before he could put it in the lock he heard the locks turning. Lisbon cracked open the door, looked at him once, and then opened it all the way. "Hey," she said.
It was a bad day.
Her shorter hair had curled slightly at the ends, reminiscent of the year he had first met her. Grace had been guilty and quiet after she had seen Lisbon. She had refused to talk about it, but Jane had seen the frightened, downcast look in her eyes. Jane had said very little about her new haircut. The brief research he had done after his visit with Sophie had said that it was common for rape survivors to want to change their appearance. What was terrible was that he knew it wouldn't restore her confidence.
Jane put the spare key in his pocket, for an emergency He walked into the apartment and saw her rubbing her free wrist. The cast had come off a week ago, but he knew she was still self-conscious about it. "How's the therapy going?" Her green eyes widened like a lonely deer staring at a semi-truck on a highway. "Your physical therapy," he corrected and pointed to her wrist.
"Oh, it's fine," she said.
"Good," Jane said, flashing her a bright smile, "You'll be ready to go back to work soon."
That did restore some of the life to her eyes. "Yeah, I've been so bored recently that I've taken to watching Judge Judy."
"Definitely a sign of desperation."
She managed to let out a small huff of a laugh. She wanted to find him funny, maybe even a small part of her did, but she just couldn't make herself feel that way. He could see the dark circles under her eyes, the gaunt look to her cheeks. Even her clothes were starting to get baggy. "How about some dinner?" Jane suggested.
Lisbon shrugged one shoulder. "I started some spaghetti."
"I'll make you some tea, too," she added. He would have to make sure she ate a good amount of her dinner. One day he was afraid that he would be able to count her ribs through her t-shirt.
Jane saw that her TV was on but it was on some reality show with the sound set low. He guessed she only put it on when she heard the knock on the door to hide what she was really trying to do. One quick peak under the couch revealed Lisbon's secret.
It was Titus Andronicus again. He found the other books stuffed in a drawer in the side-table next to the sofa. The last time he'd found them he'd expressed his dismay and that had made her get defensive. She shut down because she felt he couldn't understand. She thought she had to do this all on her own, something he had learned a long time ago just couldn't be done.
Lisbon came back into the room holding his cup of tea. Her eyes immediately fell on the books and he saw her shoulders tense up. Jane smiled at her instead.
"Thank you." He accepted the cup of tea, taking a sip before setting it down on the coffee table.
"Aren't you going to say something?" Lisbon asked and nodded towards the books.
"You're not mad that I'm still reading them?"
Jane shook his head gently. "I know you're trying to make sense of everything. I was wondering if these are helping."
"You sound like my therapist," Lisbon said with a huff.
"I'm not trying to. I really just want to know why you want to read this." Jane gave her a friendly smile. "Maybe I can shed some light on a few things, I have been known to read a book or two."
She sat in her chair with her knees drawn up to her chest. He knew she was getting a glimpse of her when she was child and wondering if her father would hit her or her brothers again that night. Did she just dream about the rape or had her childhood invaded her nightmares as well? Sometimes he forgot about her past, she had always been so strong. Now…he was seeing the vulnerable spots. They had always been there but he had needed her to be his rock so he had ignored them, but now she couldn't hide them anymore.
Lisbon looked at him over the tops of her knees. She didn't believe him. Jane leaned back into the couch cushions and flipped open the book. "You've been reading this one a lot," he said. The pages were dog-eared in several spots and the spine was creased. "I admit, I find Hamlet to be a far superior work. Titus isn't quite as refined, granted it is a much earlier play."
She shrugged in reply. He could dither all he wanted, but she knew his game. "But the character of Lavinia is unique," he confessed, gaining her attention, "She's often seen as the pure victim, the enduring image of the tragedy."
Lisbon bobbed her head in agreement. "It's terrible what Chiron and Demetrius do to her."
"Yes, I thought they deserved to be baked into pies," Jane said, hoping the grim humor would make her smile. It didn't.
She stared down at the book in his hands. "Titus kills her too."
"Yes," he said softly.
"He kills her because he is ashamed of her."
"That's what always happens to them," Lisbon said, "Lavinia, Philomela, Lucrece, none of them can bear the shame. Verginia is even killed by her father before she can be raped." Lisbon pointed to Titus. "That book says it's called an 'Honor Killing'."
Jane shook his head at her. "There's nothing honorable about it. It wasn't merciful either. They had nothing to be ashamed of. Those men were cowards. It was them who couldn't live with it."
Lisbon swallowed and then met his eyes. "Can you live with it?"
Jane blinked at the question. His jaw tightened just a little, not because of what she said but because the situation was making her doubt everything. She trusted him, but even that was limited. He wanted to make her stop reading those books, but he couldn't. He had to remain calm, for her.
"I am not ashamed of you," his words had a slightly harsh ring to them that even he heard. "I hate that this happened and turning this bastard into a pie is certainly an appealing thought, but I am not ashamed of you. I need you to know that."
Lisbon peeked up at him from behind her knees and smiled. She reached out and took his hand, lacing her fingers with his. "I do."
Jane smiled back. He rubbed his thumb against her smooth, cast-less wrist. "You know the CBI is lonely without you."
She let out a chuckle. "You just miss pushing me around."
"Well Cho can't do your disapproving look right."
They both grinned over that image, all of the tension before gone. "I'm ready to get back to work," she said.
"I'm ready to have you at work," Jane replied, "How about I sneak you in tomorrow?"
"Sounds good, what's the plan?"
"You can dress up like Marty, the janitor."
Considering Marty was a sixty-three year old African-American, rather portly man, his plan made her laugh. A real laugh of delight. She even released her knees, leaning back in her chair. Jane only let out a small titter of mirth. He just enjoyed watching her laugh and smile.
"I'll go check on dinner," she said, still smiling a little. Jane tossed Titus Andronicus aside and watched her at the stove. He knew she'd been having a bad day, but now…he'd made it better. That was the closest thing to hope he'd seen in a long time.
Luther Wainwright had been doing his best to make it look like he actually knew what he was doing nowadays. The truth was that the situation was an absolute nightmare. His top agent had been brutally raped at a fundraiser and likely by someone they worked with. When he'd been promoted to Special Agent in Charge he had been warned about Agent Lisbon's team, to keep an eye on them, especially Jane. Lisbon was the only one who could handle him.
She'd been on medical leave for over six weeks and Wainwright could see that the team really was at a loss. They still did exemplary work but they were missing that special spark that completed them. He wasn't entirely sure if Lisbon's return would change that, he knew that a generous amount of guilt was to blame for their sadness. Her rapist hadn't been found, it wasn't through any fault of their own, but that didn't stop them from shouldering the blame.
There was nothing Wainwright could do about that, but maybe he could be of some help in bringing something to rights. He dialed a now familiar number and waited the person on the other end to answer.
He'd been referred to Dr. Cargill when he'd immediately begun looking for a qualified therapist, stressing that someone with a background in sexual assault would be necessary. He'd been assured that she was the best; all he could do was hope that they were right.
"Agent Wainwright," Dr. Cargill said as soon as she picked up the line, "It's nice to hear from you again."
"I'd like to know how Lisbon's therapy is progressing," Wainwright said cutting to the chase. He'd called several times over the past weeks for the same reason with varying replies from the therapist.
"Teresa is still struggling," she admitted, "she is still haphephobic and is reluctant to discuss the attack or the effects it is having on her. However, I believe she is still having trouble sleeping and may be experiencing other symptoms of post traumatic stress but I cannot be entirely sure."
"Is there anything that can be done?"
"Very little I'm afraid, Teresa has to decide for herself when she will be willing to accept what has happened and try to work past it. Until then all we can do is offer her support and urge her to open up."
Wainwright sighed; this wasn't the answer he had been hoping for. "In your opinion, when do you believe she will be able to return to work?"
"Is that the reason why you called?"
Well she was good, he couldn't deny that. "I received word today that Lisbon's injuries are healed, physically she is able to return back to the CBI. But we still need you to sign off on it."
She paused for while. "Is this an order?"
"No, I merely want your professional opinion, do you believe that Lisbon should be allowed back on the job?"
Dr. Cargill was quiet for a long time now as she considered the options. The longer the silence lasted the more anxious Wainwright became. "Teresa has many problems that could hinder her work," she finally admitted.
"So that's a no."
"I didn't say that." That answer had Wainwright intrigued. "Teresa needs to reestablish a normal routine," Dr. Cargill continued, "she is feeling completely lost and is questioning who she is, if she is still capable of working in law enforcement. Easing her back onto the job may very well give her the boost of confidence she needs to finally overcome this, if she sees that not everything has changed because of her attack, she might finally take the necessary steps and come to terms with what has happened."
Wainwright definitely liked that idea. "So you will allow her to return to work?"
"It is not without some hesitation," Dr. Cargill explained, "she will need to be monitored by her team, they will want to make sure she is comfortable and try to prevent any situation where she may feel threatened. If Teresa is in a position where she feels vulnerable it could cause her to breakdown."
"I'm certain her team is up to the task."
"And of course it will be necessary for her to continue her therapy sessions, I cannot stress the importance of that enough."
"Of course," Wainwright agreed, "none of us expected Lisbon to get over this in a week."
Dr. Cargill didn't reply to that statement. "As long as you understand that Teresa is still in a fragile state and agree to follow my terms…I will sign off on her returning to work."
Wainwright actually sighed in relief. "Thank you, Dr. Cargill."
She didn't seem to feel the same. "Make sure her team keeps an eye on her, Agent Wainwright. This is a very big risk we are taking, I cannot be sure exactly how she will react."
"Lisbon is a professional," Wainwright said trying to assure her, "I'm certain that she will continue to conduct herself as she always has."
"Hmmm," Dr. Cargill replied unconvinced, "Unfortunately she no longer sees herself as the same woman she was before…you cannot expect her to react the same way she used to, not when she no longer feels like that person she used to be."
"If you are this concerned, why are you allowing her back at work?"
"To be frank, because there is little more I can do until she decides to move on. My hope is that this will give her the confidence to do so."
"And if it doesn't?"
She was quiet for a moment. "Then we can only hope that she will be able to pick up the pieces."
The morning Lisbon returned to work was beautiful. The sun was high and bright with only a few white puffy clouds that marred the azure sky. Lisbon wasn't sure if the weather was a good omen or a mockery about how she felt but she couldn't deny the hope that was bubbling forth from inside. She was going back to work.
For weeks that had been the one shred of hope she could hold onto. Every time she'd felt completely broken and despaired over ever truly getting better, which was nearly ever moment, she'd told herself that once she got back to work that things would be better. She was a cop. That was her identity. She'd always felt complete while at the CBI, maybe that was the part of her that was missing now. Maybe that was the piece she needed to finally start to feel whole again.
She'd put an inordinate amount of time into her appearance; she was determined to look like nothing had changed. Of course her new hairstyle was going to raise a few eyebrows but the only people who knew she'd taken a pair of scissors to her hair herself were the members of her team. People changed their hair all the time, no need for that to cause any more notice than usual.
In the end she'd decided on a simple pantsuit pairing it with a moss green blouse. The pants were a bit of a problem; she didn't think they had been so loose on her before. But the jacket hid how low they sat on her hips now and it gave her an added sense of protection. It was like a shield or a blanket she could wrap around her, an added layer that would hide her curves from any lewd gaze.
Her heart rate increased the closer she got to the CBI, it was from excitement she told herself, choosing to ignore her sweaty palms and the voice in the back of her head that kept saying she was afraid. That fear prickled her skin the moment she slowed down to pull up to the gate, the security guard popped out of his booth to look at her I.D. "Agent Lisbon, it's good to see you're back," he said nicely, she noted the pity in his eyes.
"It's good to be back, Hank," she replied, pasting on a sweet smile. Of course they were going to be worried about her; that was to be expected. Once she proved to everyone that she was okay then things would return to normal. Everything would be like it was before.
She told herself this over and over again as she parked her car. She told herself this as she remained rooted in the driver's seat, working up the nerve to open the door and finally face her coworkers. Eventually Lisbon released the steering wheel and hauled herself out of the car before slowly walking up towards the building.
The line through security was short that morning and thankfully it moved quickly. But everyone snuck at least one peek at her as she made her way through the line. Sometimes when she caught their eye they'd give her a small smile, others would dart away as if ashamed to be caught. Agent Holly Fieldman from Financial Crimes spotted her as she stepped away from the metal detectors; she gave her a big smile. "Welcome back, Agent Lisbon."
"Thank you," Lisbon replied and did her best to ignore the other stares that were pointed her way.
While she walked through the halls and waited for the elevator she received the same treatment. Sly stares and faux smiles, several offered sympathetic greetings but she always noted the wariness, the caution in their gaze. They had all seen her outburst at the press conference, now they were all waiting and watching to see if she would fall apart once more.
But Lisbon was determined. She was determined to prove them wrong, determined to hold on to the hope that once she got back to work that everything would be better. Somehow working would glue her back together; it was the only hope she had left.
Her office was as she'd left it weeks ago, the door closed with her name proudly printed on it. She paused again to look at it. That was her name; this was her office. She was a cop, that was who she was and now that she was back doing her job she would discover herself again.
Lisbon opened the door and stepped into the room. She looked around, her things were placed exactly how she'd left them. Everything was perfect. She walked around her desk and slowly sat down in her chair, running her fingers over the edge of the desk like it was something precious. She released a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding and smiled softly. This was her office. This was her job. Things would be better now; they had to be.
A soft knock broke her thoughts and she looked up to see Jane standing in the doorway, a very gentle smile on his lips. "Hey."
"Hey," she replied giving him a small smile in return.
He looked her over with that methodical gaze of his and she saw his smile brighten a little. "It's nice to see you behind that desk again."
"I'm happy to be behind it too," Lisbon said ducking her head a little. She peeked up at him. "It felt like something was missing, I think I really needed this." She shook her head. "Maybe that's silly…"
"It isn't," Jane told her smoothly. "You want things to go back to normal and going back to work is a part of that."
She smiled up at him. "Yeah it is." Lisbon put both hands on her desk and stood up. "Speaking of which, I need to get apprised with your latest case."
Lisbon moved to go past him but the gentle touch of his fingers on her arm stopped her. "If something happens…if you start to feel upset or…anything, don't be afraid to come to me."
She looked into his concerned eyes. "I'll be fine, Jane."
"Things are going to be okay now," she told him earnestly, a slight edge to her voice that she wasn't intending. "You'll see."
Jane didn't look all that convinced but he had little choice but to let her go. She tried to give him a reassuring smile before heading out of her office and into the bullpen.
Lisbon couldn't help but remember the last time she had walked in here, the last time she had been in this building before she'd been attacked. The four of them had been griping about the fundraiser that night and she'd brought in a box of cased closed doughnuts. She remembered teasing them in good-natured fun, even tossing a doughnut at Jane for being his annoying self. She'd been so frustrated with him that day; she'd had no idea that he would become such an important person in her life after that. Things had been different; they'd all been having fun. No one could have known that events would change everything forever; she hadn't even imagined that later that night she would be raped.
She pulled herself away from her dark thoughts. She was back at work. Things would be better now.
The rest of the team was where they should be, hunkered down over their own desks trying to stay busy. But they all looked up when she entered. Just like with everyone else she saw sympathy in their eyes, but there was also a great deal of guilt there too. That was what cut through her the most. Why should they feel guilty for her failings?
She opened her mouth to speak but couldn't form words yet. She cleared the throat and nervously tucked her hair behind her ear before trying again. But in the end she didn't have to say anything. Rigsby cut in quickly with a small smile. "Welcome back, boss."
Lisbon smiled back at him. "Thank you…I um…it feels good to be back here." She admitted. Cho gave a small nod and Grace looked away, she hadn't been able to meet her eyes for more than a few seconds. That hadn't surprised Lisbon in the least.
But the three of them still kept looking at her; it was awkward trying to avoid that very large elephant in the room. Finally Lisbon couldn't take it any longer. "You don't have to keep staring," she told them, her voice was too soft for it to bring any levity but it was better than nothing. "I just want everything to get back to normal." She sighed and straightened up a bit, "That means that I need to be brought up to speed on your latest case."
Cho nodded an immediately went back into his calm professional manner, exactly what she wanted. "Hillary Branton was found dead in the state park," he told her, pulling out the case file.
"Some drunk frat boys found her," Rigsby added.
"That must have been interesting," Lisbon said off hand.
Rigsby actually grinned now. "You have no idea, Jane scaring off drunk nineteen year olds in their boxers was priceless." He laughed then and Grace let out a giggle, even Cho cracked a smile at the fond memory.
But Lisbon couldn't bring herself to laugh at that; she couldn't fake it, not now. Unfortunately the other members of her team noticed and that brought the levity to a screeching halt.
"The victim moved to Sacramento six months ago," Cho said quickly, filling in that awkward silence. "Her family is out of state so we're focusing on her co-workers."
Lisbon nodded and tried to hide the fact that she felt completely out of sorts. "All right, I know you guys have done some good work so I'll let you get back to it while I catch up." She took the file from Cho's desk and turned back towards her own office.
But she couldn't leave it like that. She stopped in her tracks and turned back to see them, they had all been discreetly watching her leave. "Thank you," she told them softly. She didn't know what she was thanking them for though. Was it because they had tried to treat her like nothing had changed? Because they had continued to work well even with her out for six weeks? Because they had worked so hard to solve her own case?
Lisbon thought that maybe it was a little bit of each.
None of them said anything and she knew acknowledging what her words meant would only make things worse.
She turned away again but caught Jane's eye. He had quietly slipped back over onto his couch, a very familiar sight except for the emotion in his gaze. He was watching her with gentle concern and she wasn't sure how to get rid of it. It spoke volumes, that he wasn't fooled at all by her mask of faux professionalism. He knew that she felt strange and disappointed, things weren't quite like she had wanted but they would improve. They had to.
So Lisbon gave him a small smile before scurrying away to her office so she could bury her head in a case file and be away from the prying eyes of everyone in the building. They were all watching and waiting to see her break down.
The team had done good work so far on the Branton case and she didn't want to take it away from Cho, not when he had started out as the lead agent on this one. She remained in her office, going over the victim's file. She was much more thorough than she had to be. There was something comforting in hiding behind a thick, manila file. It served as a wall that protected her from the many eyes that wandered to her office. She was tempted to close the blinds, but that would just suggest to everyone that something was bothering her. Nothing was, she was fine. Perfectly fine.
She could catch Cho and Rigsby glancing her way often enough. She knew they were concerned and thought it was sweet, but she didn't need them to hover over her. She only saw Grace look over once. Van Pelt must really feel ashamed to have such a boss. Lisbon remembered how she'd cleared out of her apartment after helping her with her hair. That was fine. It didn't hurt…much.
Lisbon forced herself to focus again on the case file. Work had always been a distraction from her problems before, it was her oldest form of therapy. When her father had pounded on her and her brothers, she had buried herself in school and her after school job. It would work the same way. She would work and work until one day she realized the rape was a distant memory.
There was a soft rap on her door that stole her attention away from the file. Jane was there, smiling and holding up a brown paper bag.
"What's that?" she asked.
"Lunch," he said before inviting himself inside. He pulled out a cellophane wrapped sandwich and gave it to her.
The clear, plastic wrap told her exactly what kind of sandwich it was. "Peanut butter and jelly?"
"It's comfort food," Jane said.
"When I was five. Do you have a juice box and some animal crackers in there as well?"
Jane snapped his fingers. "I knew I forgot something." His smile was just as teasing as ever and forced her to grin back at him.
"Thanks, Jane." She unwrapped the sandwich even though it looked as appealing as rancid cow tongue to her. He always seemed concerned about her when it came to her eating habits, more than he ever had in the past since it wasn't uncommon for her to miss a meal now and then. She just ate when she was hungry.
Jane produced two cans of soda and two snack sized bags of chips. "Not animal crackers, but they'll do I guess."
He sat down in the chair across from her desk. "Still catching up, I see." He nodded towards the case file.
"Yeah," she said, taking a bite from her sandwich. She waited until she swallowed before she said, "I was looking at the boyfriend, Tom Hollows, what do you think of him?"
Jane shook his head. "He's too clean."
"He doesn't have a solid alibi," Lisbon reminded him.
"No I mean he is too neat and tidy. Everything is in perfect order, even his garbage was organized. The scene was far too messy for someone as anal-retentive as him."
"Fine then, who do you think it could be?"
Jane popped a chip into his mouth with a shrug. "I don't know yet. There are two different suspects warring it out right now."
"I guess it's too much to ask for you to tell me these two suspects."
The smile he flashed her was completely expected. "No sense in doing that yet. You're still catching up."
The old Lisbon probably would have rolled her eyes and whispered, "Jackass" under her breath, just loud enough for him to hear. He would have laughed and commented on her impatience. But this new Lisbon just nodded. "All right. You know what you're doing."
"No, not really," Jane said, "My plans are always fluid. I make things up as I go and hope for the best."
Lisbon sipped her soda. "You still manage just fine."
Jane squinted at her for a long moment and then gently shook his head. "You're still not yourself."
She froze with the soda can halfway between her lips and her desk. Her green eyes met his but swiftly looked back down at the file. "I'm trying," she said.
"I know you are. I'm not upset, Lisbon, I'm just stating a fact. You're still not completely comfortable."
Her eyes were on her hardly touched sandwich as she shook her head. She stared at the pores in the bread, the curves her teeth had made when she bit into it. It was a perfectly good sandwich, but now she just wanted to throw it away. No, she wanted to do more than that. She wanted to scream as she threw everything off of her desk. Better still, throw a chair through the windows of her office like she'd done when she was only pretending to act crazy. Jane had thought it had been a nice touch. She needed to destroy something. Maybe it would make her feel better.
She jumped a little when something touched her hand. She glanced up and saw that it was just Jane. She had actually forgotten he was still there. Jane drew back his hand for a moment and then put it back over hers. "Lisbon, it isn't going to be easy. No one expects you to jump right back in where you left off. You need to take your time and only do what feels right."
One corner of his mouth lifted up while his other hand went to her face. His thumb brushed away a tear that had sneaked out of her eye without her even realizing it. "And remember, I'm here. I'll do whatever you want, I'll even follow the rules if that will make you feel better."
She couldn't help but let out a puff of a laugh through her nose and smile. She reached up to take the hand by her cheek, now holding both of his hands. "Patrick Jane, willing to go by the book. The four horsemen must be on the loose then."
Jane smiled back at her, but there was still something serious in his gaze. "You know this isn't the end of the world." She knew he wasn't talking about today. It was the same thing she had told herself over and over again, getting raped wasn't the end of everything.
Sometimes it felt like that, though.
Lisbon didn't tell Jane her doubts. She just nodded. "I know that."
"Good," he said, releasing her hands so he could pick up his sandwich. "Now finish that delectably sandwich I so thoughtfully made for you."
"You got it from the store across the street," she said.
Jane's lips were still curved up as he chewed. "Don't ruin it, woman," he said after he'd swallowed.
Lisbon grinned back and held up her sandwich to him to show she was going to eat. She wouldn't ruin it, not when only now did she finally feel almost whole.
As the minutes ticked by Lisbon began to feel more and more anxious. Nothing had happened, nothing had gone wrong; she hadn't flipped out or had a flashback. But that didn't matter, she still couldn't relax, she couldn't get comfortable. She had been carrying around this idea that when she got back to work that everything would fall back into place but she was beginning to realize that like many dreams, this one wasn't going to pan out.
Her anxiety was only getting worse. Lisbon took off her jacket because she was so warm, but she still kept sweating. Frustrated she threw the file down on her desk, toppling over a photograph and a small basket of extra pens. She looked down at the mess and then her shaking hands, she felt a rush of relief, it had felt good to do some damage. Even though this hardly counted as anything.
The idea of throwing a fit flashed through her mind. It might be nice to finally just let it all out and scream. But that wasn't how normal people acted, only crazy people did things like that. And she wasn't crazy.
She shook her head and immediately stood up from her desk. Coffee, getting coffee was the normal thing to do. Not sitting around contemplating acts of violence. The break room was empty except for one occupant. Grace sat down at the table, shaking a packet of sugar before she tore it open so she could sweeten her own mug of coffee. Her eyes were on the report in front of her, which is why she didn't notice Lisbon until she was already in the room.
For a moment their eyes locked onto each other and neither one of them seemed to be breathing anymore. A myriad of emotions passed between them but the strongest was shame. Finally Lisbon spoke, "I just came in for coffee."
"Yeah, of course," Grace said, standing up abruptly from the table. "I have to finish reading this report for Cho…I mean you…I mean…" she faltered for words in this moment awkwardness.
"I'm still getting back on my feet," Lisbon said softly, "Cho's still lead agent on this case for now."
Grace nodded. "Cho then…I should go talk to him." She grabbed the file and bolted out of the room, leaving her still steaming coffee onto the table, next to the empty packet of sugar. She hadn't even gotten the chance to stir it in Lisbon noticed bitterly; she could clear a room pretty quickly these days. She didn't know if it was because she'd been raped or because of the confrontation in her apartment a week ago but Lisbon had a feeling that she'd lost Grace's respect forever.
Just one of the many things she'd lost recently.
She poured herself a mug of coffee, not really sure why she'd decided to get some anymore. Still she sweetened the brew and poured in a little cream, but she took a sip it tasted like sawdust. Nothing seemed appetizing anymore. But since it was caffeine, which she desperately needed after her still many sleepless nights, Lisbon took the mug with her on her way back to her office.
But as she rounded the corner she heard her name, which made her pause mid-step.
Gina was the secretary for the Organized Crime Unit and she was chatting with one of the interns, Renee, from Financial Crimes. "Have you seen Lisbon yet?"
"I saw her when she first came in," Renee said, "she looks a lot better than she did during the press conference."
"But she doesn't look like herself, she keeps looking over her shoulder like she's afraid."
"Maybe she has good reason, I heard that the guy who did it could work here."
"God, can you imagine? Somebody beat and raped her and she doesn't even know who he is. He could be anybody!" Gina gave an exaggerated shudder, "Ugh it's terrifying to think that someone we work with could have done this, what if he attacks someone else? Or goes after her again?"
"She has to be afraid," Renee pointed out, "this must be killing her."
"Poor Lisbon, she used to be such a strong woman."
The two women walked away but Lisbon remained rooted to her spot. Poor her. She used to be so strong.
Used to be, meaning she wasn't anymore. It wasn't anything Lisbon hadn't already known but it was different to hear other people saying it. She was broken, damaged beyond full repair and everyone knew it. It didn't matter what sort of appearance she put up or how normal she acted, it was all for nothing because everyone could see past her lies.
Somehow she made it to her office and sat down again, she didn't take a sip from her coffee but simply stared off into space. She couldn't stop thinking about what those women had said. She wasn't strong anymore, that this was killing her. They were right. She was afraid because the man who raped her might be in this building right now, watching as she continued to fall apart. Was he happy, was he gloating over his victory? Was he waiting for another opportunity to catch her off guard, to hurt her and rape her once more? What if once wasn't enough? What if he wanted to taste victory again? Maybe he was watching right now, waiting for just the right opportunity to strike.
Her phone chirped loudly and she jumped, startled by the noise. Lisbon grabbed her phone and answered her even though her voice was shaky. "Hello?"
"Teresa? It's Dr. Cargill."
That surprised her. "Dr. Cargill? Yes, hi uh…I'm sorry why are you calling?"
"I wanted to make sure everything was all right. You missed our session yesterday."
Oh yeah, that's right, she'd had a therapy session yesterday morning. But after she'd gotten the call from Wainwright saying she was allowed back at work, she'd wanted to act like everything was exactly how it used to be…and that meant no need to go get her head shrunk twice a week. "Yes, I'm sorry about that," Lisbon said quickly, "But today is my first day back at work and I just…I'm still trying to catch up."
"Of course, how has your day been?"
How has her day been? It was hard to say, nothing earth shattering had happened except she felt like this was close to a disaster as it could be. "Uh it's…it's fine," she lied.
"Are you having any difficulty adjusting?"
"Nope," Lisbon said quickly, "It's like I never left."
From the way her therapist hesitated, Lisbon knew she'd been caught in a lie. "You know, Teresa, it is perfectly normal for things to be strained. After such an ordeal, no one expects you to have everything under control."
"I'm fine," Lisbon replied.
"Are you still having problems sleeping?"
"I'm handling it."
"What about being touched? Are you uncomfortable in crowded rooms or with strangers?"
"I…I'm working through it," Lisbon told her, but her voice betrayed her.
"Teresa, you need to continue your therapy. It is important for your recovery."
Lisbon was floundering for a way to end this conversation. Which is why she was so grateful that Rigsby knocked softly on her door before entering the room. "Uh, I have to go Dr. Cargill, something has come up on a case."
"Teresa, this is important—."
"I'll talk to you later," Lisbon said and quickly hung up the phone. She turned her attention towards the man in her office. "What's come up?"
Rigsby looked a little surprised by her flustered demeanor, or her hanging up on someone. But he was a professional so he ignored it. "Uh, Hillary Branton's ex-boyfriend was pulled in by some local cops, he got into a fight with them when they pulled him over."
Lisbons raised an eyebrow. "Sounds like he has a lot of issues."
Rigsby nodded. "Cho and Jane are talking to the victim's mother, you want me to grab Grace and—."
"No, I'll go with you," Lisbon told him with a small smile. "It's part of the job right?"
"Are you sure?"
"Of course," she said a little too loudly, "I'm still a cop, do you think I can't handle this?"
He shook his head quickly. "No, of course you can." He looked towards the door, "we can go now if you'd like."
"Yeah, sure." Lisbon grabbed her badge and her gun, two items that always had been her shield of protection. She rushed around the desk and almost bowled into Rigsby who took a step back, being extra careful not to touch her. "Sorry, I guess I'm just eager," Lisbon laughed it off even as she carefully stepped away, as if he was threatening her. She noticed the hurt look in his eyes when she did that but she had to ignore it.
They were both quiet as they made their way down the hall, both pretending not to notice the way people stopped to look at her. She waited anxiously for the elevator, silently hoping that it was empty so that she didn't have to stand in a crowded box. She wasn't sure if her nerves could take it.
But when the doors opened she saw that the elevator wasn't crowded, in fact there was only one occupant. Sanford looked up from the papers in his hand; it took him a second to register the two people stepping onto the elevator. "Agent Lisbon," he greeted her calmly, "It's good to see you again, I didn't know you were back at work."
"It's my first day back," Lisbon told him simply.
He smiled gently at her. "Well we are happy to see you have returned, we're all glad you are back on your feet."
Lisbon just nodded but didn't meet his eyes. She stood as far away from both Rigsby and Sanford as she could, she didn't want to be touched, didn't want either one of them to see her weakness.
She breathed a silent sigh of relief when the doors opened on Sanford's door. "Good luck, Agent Lisbon, Rigsby," he nodded to the other man before walking away. Lisbon watched him go and then the doors shut leaving her alone with her friend. She closed her eyes and released another breath.
Sanford knew she was falling apart. Gina and Renee and Jane…everyone knew she was losing her mind. When would it end? The truth was she was beginning to see that the answer that question could very well be…never.
Hillary Branton's ex-boyfriend, Kyle Lachlan, had been released from the county jail early in the morning. Rigsby and Lisbon found him at his trailer, nursing a bottle of tequila in front of his grainy television. Thankfully, he wasn't drunk enough to be unable to answer their questions.
"I ain't seen Hillary in months," he told them, "She let outta here on her own steam."
"Her boyfriend said you threatened to kill her," Lisbon said.
"That was just talk. She wasn't worth killing for."
Lisbon had her arms crossed and her 'I'm not buying it look' on her face. Rigsby couldn't help but smile just a little. It really felt like old times right now. Maybe Wainwright's talk with them yesterday had been unnecessary. She didn't need any supervision. This was Lisbon, nothing could keep her down forever. She always came back swinging.
"Why did you get into a fight with two officers?" she asked him.
"They tried to tell me I was drunk, but I wasn't. Then they roughed me up. It was self-defense."
"Just like you weren't drunk when you assaulted Hillary," Rigsby said.
Kyle let out a grunt. "That wasn't anything." His brown eyes sparkled when they fell on Lisbon and her gave her a lazy smile. "You sure are pretty, wish you'd been one of the cops I'd tangled with last night. That would have been fun."
Lisbon froze. Rigsby could see the way she tensed up, her hands balling up into fists and her eyes widening to the size of vinyl records. A beat later he noticed that she was shaking.
"What the hell is wrong with her?" Kyle asked, standing up from his chair.
Lisbon jumped back, putting both her hands up in defense. Rigsby moved between her and Kyle, turning so his back was to Lachlan. "Boss, why don't you wait in the car? This won't be long."
She didn't relax, but she did give him a jerky nod. "Yeah, yeah okay."
Rigsby watched her walk back to the SUV. He kept his eyes on her back until she was safely inside the driver's side of the car. He looked back at Lachlan and went through a few more questions. Just preliminary stuff, the man really didn't have much to say.
Once the interview was over, Rigsby climbed in to the passenger seat beside Lisbon. "You okay?" he asked.
"Fine," she said.
"You sure, because I can—."
"I'm okay, Rigsby. I was just a little rattled, but I'm all better now." She punctuated her words by starting the car. His window of opportunity to convince her to let him drive just slammed shut.
Rigsby did his best to keep his observations a secret. He timed them so he always glanced around the windows, as if he was just admiring the view instead of watching Lisbon drive. She was always a good driver, following every rule of the road. He wasn't sure what he was looking for. Did he expect her to suddenly go nuts or was he just trying to make sure she wasn't uncomfortable?
He really wished Jane were with them. He always seemed to know what to do with Lisbon now. Jane could tell him if she was okay or not. Jane probably could have made her so comfortable that Lachlan's idiot words wouldn't have effected her. Rigsby felt completely useless now. All he could do was watch her for signs he wasn't even sure he could spot.
"Relax, Rigsby," she instructed him after he glanced away from her again.
"Huh?" he feigned ignorance.
Lisbon met her eyes, her lips curled up in a smile but her eyes didn't have that warmth to match it. "I'm not going to steer us into oncoming traffic."
"I wasn't thinking that."
"You've been watching me like a hawk, what else could you be thinking?"
"Boss, it's not that," Rigsby said but the words died in his throat. He didn't know what to say.
"I'm not an idiot. I know all of you have been keeping an eye on me."
"Okay, that's true," Rigsby admitted, "But we just want to make sure that you're feeling all right."
"Well maybe I would get better faster if everyone would stop talking about me, stop watching me and just let me deal with this on my own!" Her words were harsh and bitter and her green eyes glared at the road ahead.
The sound of the engine mingled with tires rolling on the concrete was the only sound in the car. Rigsby didn't try to hide the fact that he was watching her now, but she didn't even glance in his direction. She didn't apologize. Didn't say anything, just kept driving.
"Boss…we're just trying to help."
Those were the last words spoken between them for the rest of the trip.
The day was steadily getting worse and it wasn't at all because of the case. Actually the case was going along smoothly, it was Lisbon's nerves that were quickly destroying her. First it was the many worried looks, the pitiful questions of how she was doing, and finally her reaction to the hung-over moron who'd made a stupid statement. She'd dealt with people like him before, hell she'd been felt up by more horny suspects then she could count. But this time she hadn't felt anger or annoyance, no this time all she'd felt was panic as she'd imagined him attacking her…just like someone else already had.
That incident had shaken her up badly, and she knew Rigsby had noticed it too. That had only made it worse; she hated the fact that her team was seeing just how weak she really was now.
So she'd let Cho handle the interrogation of their latest suspect, she'd stayed behind the glass and watched. She was safe there; she wasn't in a small room with someone dangerous. Of course she kept seeing her reflection in that glass and she'd hated it. She hated the way she looked with her wide fear-filled eyes, there was uncertainty in her features now, she really had no confidence in herself anymore.
Disgusted, Lisbon walked away from her reflection and away from interrogation. She was ready to bury herself in paperwork; it seemed to be the only thing she was good at anymore. Lisbon was caught up in her depressing thoughts that she wasn't even noticing who was walking towards her, until he called out her name.
"Agent Lisbon," Jasper Wainwright drawled out.
Lisbon looked up completely startled to see him in the CBI. Her boss's brother was still tall and good-looking and thought he was more charming than he really was. The last time she'd seen him was the night of the fundraiser when he'd drunkenly pawed at her on the dance floor until Jane had rescued her from his advances. He wasn't drunk now, and while he still obviously liked what he saw, there was something different in his gaze now.
"Mr. Wainwright," she said stiffly, keeping herself at a careful distance from him, "I didn't expect to see you here. You must have come to see your brother."
Jasper nodded a confirmation but his eyes were still settled on her. "Did you receive the flowers I sent you?"
"Yes, thank you," she told him; her words were short and clipped. All she wanted to do was flee.
"Still, let me express my condolences for what happened."
"That really isn't necessary."
Jasper took a step forward and she stepped back, she found herself up against the wall and suddenly all she felt was trapped. "Well I hope they find the bastard soon. If you want, I'd be happy pay him a visit when they do, my trainer is an ex Navy SEAL, he's taught me a few things." Jasper gave her a saucy wink that did nothing to calm her down.
Lisbon felt herself beginning to panic, she had to stay calm but she needed to get out of this situation. She glanced around to see Jane coming out of interrogation, it took him just a second to see her but that was all that was needed. But he was too far away to do anything at the moment. "I appreciate the sentiment, but I…I have things I have to do."
"Teresa, I want you to know how deeply sorry I am that something like that happened to you. If there is anything I can do…" Jasper reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder, perhaps overstepping his bounds or maybe it was just to show support. It didn't matter.
He was touching her.
Lisbon jumped away from him, obviously startling him. "Don't touch me," she said sharply. Jasper stood there stunned, a quiet hush came over the hallway and Lisbon knew she'd garnered some attention. Jane was still rushing over to her but she didn't care, she just couldn't stay there any longer.
"I…have to go," Lisbon said, her voice was soft and dazed. Then she simply turned down the hallway and began walking away, her pace quickening every few steps before she was all but running.
Lisbon burst into the ladies room, which was mercifully empty. She collapsed up against the wall, only now did she realize that she was shaking. Actually that wasn't all; she was having something very close to a panic attack. Her chest was heaving but she couldn't seem to get in a full breath of air, her head was lightheaded from lack of oxygen and all she felt was the knot in her stomach that was twisting so tight she felt sick.
She heard a knock and then Jane's concerned voice but she couldn't say anything, she was still trying to control her breathing. Then he was there, entreating her to look into his eyes and keeping her gaze focused on him. "Breathe," he told her softly, "slow even breaths. In and out, like this." He mimicked the motion he wanted her to do, "just like that, slow and even."
She did as he asked, trying to calm her breathing to something manageable. He was gently rubbing her arms but forcing her to keep her gaze on him. It took longer for the shaking to stop but when she began to feel at least partially in control she stepped away from him. "I'm okay," she told him softly.
"Are you sure?"
Lisbon nodded and stepped over to the sink so she could splash some of the water on her face. "I just didn't expect to see him…or for him to touch me like that."
"He shouldn't have been so forceful," Jane said bitterly.
"He was just trying to be helpful," Lisbon replied, filling her hands with the cold water so she could splash it over her flushed cheeks again. "Besides, it's not his fault that I'm a basket case right now."
Jane gently reached over to place a hand on her shoulder, just like Jasper had done, except his touch really did give her some comfort. "Are you all right?"
Lisbon looked up, shaking the water from her hands. "I'll be fine," she told him simply before walking over to the paper towel dispenser. "I was caught off guard, that's all." She patted her skin with the scratchy brown paper and then glanced over at him. "You do realize you are in the ladies room right?"
The question didn't put him at ease like she'd intended. No amount of joking was going to ease his concern. "I needed to make sure you were okay."
"Like I said, I'll be fine," She replied simply, "I'm back at work and that's what's going to get me back on my feet. Soon I'll be over all of this, I'm sure of it."
Jane didn't look convinced at all.
"You should go," Lisbon told him, "before someone else comes in a freaks out that you are in here." She turned away, wading up the paper towels into a very tight ball but she didn't throw them away yet. "I just need another minute…alone."
He studied her for a long minute before quietly slipping out of the room. Lisbon breathed a sigh of relief when he was gone, still crumbling up the paper towels into a small wrinkled mass. She kept on breathing deeply, in and out, in and out, trying to tell her pounding heart to slow down.
But she didn't tell herself that she would be fine. She was done lying about that now.
Grace sat at her desk just staring at her computer. She was supposed to be working on her report, but she couldn't focus on it. She kept replaying that brief, awkward conversation with Lisbon in the break room. She had hoped that having Lisbon back at work would somehow make everything magically better. No such luck. The guilt was still there.
After Lisbon and Rigsby had come back, she had cornered herself up in her office and hadn't left it. Jane had brought her coffee twice and judging by the view they made through the windows, he had worked on getting her to relax. Grace knew that from the way Cho and Rigsby had looked that she wasn't the only one feeling useless.
The case had finally been wrapped up so now work was a useless excuse to keep them occupied. She stared back at her unfinished report and wondered if she should just give it up and duck out early.
Cho and Rigsby walked into the bullpen and sat down at their desks without a word. Rigsby put his head in his hands while Cho found some aspirin in his desk and took the pills with a healthy dose of water.
"Crappy day," Grace spoke for all of them.
"Yeah," Cho said in agreement.
She couldn't help herself. Her eyes were drawn to Lisbon's office, but the boss was still working. It might have been completely normal, except how tense the air was. Lisbon had only done one interview and judging by the haunted look in Rigsby's eyes when they had returned, it hadn't gone well.
"Where's Jane?" Cho asked.
"Oh, Wainwright wanted to talk to him," Grace said with a shrug. She saw Cho's almond shaped eyes looking across the room towards Lisbon's office. A few seconds later, Rigsby joined in the stare-fest
"Were we all naïve to think this would make everything better?" Rigsby asked.
"What good is a dream if it's not realistic?" Cho replied in his usual, monotone way. However, his voice was pitched slightly lower which showed how much this whole thing was weighing on him.
"Do you think she's any better?" Grace asked.
"She's trying," Cho said.
"But is it working?" Rigsby questioned, "You should have seen her talking to Lachlan. When he made a pass at her, she just froze. I was afraid she was going to panic."
"Was it really that bad?" Grace asked, her voice timid. She was uncertain if she really wanted to know the answer.
Rigsby looked back at her for a while, didn't say anything or move his head. That was answer enough. "She held it together, though," he said, "That's something."
Grace brightened up at that thought. "Yeah, that is something."
"Maybe," Cho said.
"You don't think she's doing better?"
"I think she wants to be doing better."
Grace frowned at him. "What are you saying?"
"When Jane finally smiles again without that look of fear in his eyes, then I'll be sure she's getting over it," Cho said.
Grace looked over at the empty space on the couch. Jane knew Lisbon better than anyone and she trusted him now, implicitly. Cho was right. Jane would know when she was finally moving past that horrific night. She knew what the answer would be if she asked him that now.
Jane had been expecting to be grilled by Wainwright; in fact he was sure that Wainwright would have a private talk with all members of Lisbon's team. He wanted to know exactly how Lisbon was doing, more importantly, if going back to work was the best thing for her. That was an answer that would not be easy to give though.
Wainwright glanced up from paperwork as soon as Jane entered. "Jane, you did good work on the Branton case."
He actually had to smile at the man. "You don't need to disguise your true intentions with small talk." Jane took a seat in the empty chair across from his desk. "You really want to know about Lisbon."
Wainwright did look a little sheepish at being caught. "I just want to know how she handled herself today."
Jane had a feeling that Wainwright already knew the answer to this question, perhaps it was a test to see how honest he would be, or perhaps he just wanted his opinion. Either way Jane knew how to handle this conversation. "Lisbon is still adjusting," Jane admitted, "she's trying, she still has problems but she's trying."
"My brother said she seemed a little out of it earlier."
He felt the bitter tang of resentment flow through him. Jane remembered seeing Wainwright's foolish brother corner her and then touch her, the man really had no sense or he simply didn't care for anyone's feelings but his own. Jane suspected it was a little of both. "Like I said, she still has problems, particularly with being touched."
"Will this affect her work?"
"Not if we can make things easier for her until she overcomes it."
Wainwright obviously wasn't sure on that idea. "That may not be possible, part of her job is interaction, sometimes that means physical confrontations."
"I am aware of that."
"But you don't see the problem."
Jane shook his head. "Oh I see it, but I also know that the best thing for Lisbon is to try and work through it herself. Her work is her life, if that's taken from her…she won't have anything left."
Wainwright considered that for a moment, despite his misgivings on the situation Jane knew that he really was concerned for Lisbon. He would put her needs above the Bureau's. Jane didn't doubt that. "I spoke to her therapist the other day, she said almost the exact same thing."
Jane smiled a little. "Well most of psychology is parlor tricks." The quip lightened the mood, a little.
"Her therapist thinks that Lisbon needs confidence to move on, she's hopeful that returning to work will do that for her."
He shrugged, "It's certainly possible."
"But you aren't sure."
"To be perfectly honest, no, I'm not sure," Jane admitted, "Lisbon has been pinning all of her hopes on returning, so much so that it could lead to disappointment. Everything isn't going to magically get better just because she is back, she may lose all hope if she feels like she is losing the last part of who she used to be."
His words were more melancholic then he had intended but oftentimes that was the truth. It was like a cold slap in the face, the question is how to handle it once it is realized. "Jane, you understand her right now more than anyone," Wainwright began very softly, "Is…is she going to be okay?"
Jane thought about that for a long time. There were many ways to respond to that question but he also knew that only one was actually the truth. "I'd like to lie to you and say yes…but the truth is I don't know. She can recover from this or she can fall apart completely, both options are entirely possible." He sighed heavily before admitting, "the best I can tell you is to 'wait and see' we'll soon know which way she is headed."
Lisbon unlocked the door to her apartment and was greeted by emptiness and darkness. It was something she was used to but for some reason she felt it all the more now. She set her briefcase down and slowly walked over to the sofa and sat down. Her first day back a work had come and gone and she felt…nothing.
Nothing. Nothing had changed, nothing was different, nothing had happened that made her feel like her life might finally be falling back into place. She'd left this apartment glowing with hope, hope that once everyone saw that she was trying to be okay that everyone would believe it…and then it would be true. But that had just been a foolish dream of a desperate woman.
She covered her eyes with her hands as she remembered the stares, the looks the pitiful expressions of happiness that were as ridiculous as they were fake. "If something happens…if you start to feel upset or…anything, don't be afraid to come to me." Jane had known she was going to lose it, why else would he say something like that?
There had been the moment in the bullpen when her team couldn't stop staring at her. "You don't have to keep staring, I just want everything to get back to normal." Except they hadn't, throughout the entire day Lisbon had seen them watching her, staring at her, keeping an eye on her as if she was a child that needed to be protected. As if she couldn't take care of herself.
Jane squinted at her for a long moment and then gently shook his head. "You're still not yourself."
She froze with the soda can halfway between her lips and her desk. Her green eyes met his but swiftly looked back down at the file. "I'm trying," she said.
"I know you are. I'm not upset, Lisbon, I'm just stating a fact. You're still not completely comfortable."
Lisbon bit down on her finger, welcoming the rush of pain that meant she could still feel something, anything besides the ache in her chest and the emptiness of any other emotion.
"Poor Lisbon, she used to be such a strong woman."…
"You know, Teresa, it is perfectly normal for things to be strained. After such an ordeal, no one expects you to have everything under control."
Tears spilled down her cheeks but she didn't wipe them away. They were tears of pain…and anger. Anger at her friends who couldn't hide that they didn't trust her to take care of herself. But mostly it anger at herself, for being the one who was broken.
"I'm not an idiot. I know all of you have been keeping an eye on me."
"Okay, that's true," Rigsby admitted, "But we just want to make sure that you're feeling all right."
"Well maybe I would get better faster if everyone would stop talking about me, stop watching me and just let me deal with this on my own!"…
Jasper reached over and placed a hand on her shoulder, perhaps overstepping his bounds or maybe it was just to show support. It didn't matter.
He was touching her.
Lisbon jumped away from him, obviously startling him. "Don't touch me," she said sharply. Jasper stood there stunned, a quiet hush came over the hallway and Lisbon knew she'd garnered some attention…
"I'll be fine."
"I'm all better now"
"Everything will be fine"
Suddenly a loud screech escaped her lips and she grabbed the pillow that was next to her and she hurled it across the room. It hit her shelves with a low thud, scattering some photographs and a couple of books.
But it wasn't enough.
Lisbon stood up and took a hold of the nearest object at hand. A small glass reading lamp. She threw it up against the wall and it shattered into several pieces. Next was a coffee table book, then a small dish. All thrown away to be broken.
She picked up the previously abused pillow and smacked it up against the shelf, knocking everything off, framed photographs, glass knickknacks, a little antique sewing box her grandmother had given her. Lisbon didn't care what she was destroying.
The only sound was the glass shattering and her own screams of rage.
One of the shelves tumbled from the wall, more carnage. The pillow gave out and stuffing flew everywhere. That was fine, she just used her hands. She didn't feel the pain when she cut herself on the glass, didn't notice the drops of blood that began to pepper the carpet. Lisbon grabbed another book and hurled it away; it hit the floor lamp which crashed to the floor, blinking furiously, darkness then light…darkness then light.
Lisbon finally stood still, her chest heaving with effort, her breathing was short and harsh through her gritted teeth. She felt the warm wetness of her blood dripping from her fingers but she didn't acknowledge it. Instead she looked at the damage she had caused.
Her living room looked like it had been raided. Broken glass littered the floor, her things were scattered, there was a small hole in the wall from where she'd thrown one of her metal plaques from high school.
It was perfect. Now her apartment finally matched her life. A complete and utter disaster.
She gave her surroundings one more satisfied glance before she calmly turned around and headed up the stairs. One of small glass teetered on the edge of shelf before finally sliding off and shattering on the floor. But Lisbon didn't care about the destruction.
She reveled in it.
A/N: Oh boy, Lisbon is heading to a very very VERY dark place, and it's only going to get worse. Next chapter Lisbon continues to fall further into this pit and she lashes out at everyone who tries to help her, including Jane. Also, her obsession with Lavinia takes a frightening turn. Stay tuned.
As always please review, you guys are the ones who keep us motivated.