Chasing Pavements

If I tell the world, I'll never say enough. 'Cause it was not said to you and that's exactly what I need to do if I end up with you.

Jane had been gone for thirty-five minutes and Lisbon was beginning to worry. Maybe he had gone home. Maybe he couldn't take the memories or she had said something wrong. What had she said? Maybe he wasn't coming back.

She anxiously picked up her cell, thinking of all the drunk drivers that would be out tonight. As the dial tone rung in her ears, she began to think of all the horrible things that could have happened to him.

"Yellow?" was her answer.

"Jane, are you okay? Where are you?" She tried to sound calm, unaffected.

"Right here..." his voice sounded in the room and in her ear.

She spun around, her eyes going instantly to his face and then falling to his arms.

"Surprise!" He held two small bottles of champagne and a case of beer.

"You left here without telling me where you were going to get alcohol to drink on state supported property?"

"Yes..." he said slowly, setting the beverages down on the closest table.

"Good idea," she replied coolly, letting up her serious pretense with a mischievous smile.

"I thought so," he grinned, pulling out two plastic champagne flutes and uncorking the bottle skillfully. "I had to bribe old Bernie down there with a few cases of beer, though. He finally gave in, agreed to keep it hush hush."

"A few cases? We can't even drink this much." She wondered at his thought process.

"Oh, but can't we?" He asked rhetorically, a gleam in his eye.

She merely shook her head as he strode toward her, two champagne glasses in hand and a beer under his arm. Taking a glass from him, she gestured towards the ornaments on the couch. "Those are for you."

"No, they're for you. I'm taking the top of the tree, the star and I'll peril through the lights with your help." He stated matter-of-factly, knocking the top of his beer off with his keys.

"Well, then," she smiled, taking a sip of champagne and sitting down to package the balls. "How chivalrous of you."

"I try," he winked, before turning back to his beer and the tree.

The rest of the evening went smoothly. They talked of everything but work, drank nearly all the alcohol, and successfully untangled all ten strands of lights that were embedded in and around the tree. Jane rolled up his sleeves past his elbows to dig beyond the brittle branches and untangle the most difficult knotted lights. He came out with red scratches and laughed when Lisbon offered to get the first aid kit. They boxed and stored everything as neatly as if Van Pelt herself were there directing them. And there were no more broken ornaments as Jane had promised.

On the way to the dumpster - Jane with the tree hoisted in his arms and Lisbon following closely with a bag of trash, pine needles, and empty bottles - she found her self wondering about the mysterious Patrick Jane. His face was ruddy from walking down flights of stairs with tree in tow, his muscles strained against his disheveled sleeves, his usual vest was casually unbuttoned. He always appeared so put together, his mask on tight. But here, under the yellow light of the street lamp, he seemed real to her, tangible, attainable. Like she could help him battle his demons and make the ghosts go away for good. Start a new life. Everything that she never knew she wanted flashed before her eyes. And maybe one day, she thought, maybe she wouldn't have to endure her brothers' nagging. Maybe she could finally say, "Here he is."

The crash of the tree on the bottom of the dumpster startled her back into reality. Her eyes studied him; his breath came in short puffs as he reached for the bag she held and tossed it in behind the tree.

"We're some team, right?" He grinned, holding his hands up for a pair of high fives.

"Yeah," she replied quietly, smiling and touching her hands to his in return.

"I can't believe you thought you could do this without any help." He teased lightly.

"Yeah, thanks Jane." She smiled, modestly knowing that she couldn't have done it by herself.

"Anytime." His eyes pierced into her as a slew of fireworks exploded above their heads, then gazed upwards, his face illuminated red, blue, green. He began to laugh as he looked at his watch and showed it to her. "Happy New Year, Lisbon."

She realized that she had lost all concept of time as she glanced at his watch. It was 12:00 on the nose. Girlish rumors raced through her mind. Was it really true that if you kissed someone at 12:00 on New Years Day you would be with them forever? She tried to think very quickly, but her boss, Rigsby, Van Pelt and Cho invaded her mind.

"12:01. How was your first official minute in the New Year?" He smiled, looking up from his watch.

"Thought provoking," she answered honestly. Was it her imagination or did he just step closer?

"How so?" He asked, intrigued.

Great. "You never answered my question earlier. Why did you come here tonight?" She asked, avoiding his stare for a moment before building up the courage to look him in the eyes.

"I came by yesterday to get something I left and I saw the tree was still up. I figured you might be here at some point taking it down. I didn't want you to be alone. Trees are hazardous you know..." He smiled as he spoke the last sentence.

"Really?" She forced herself to ask, her eyes searching his.

"Really," he said honestly, seriously.

They stood there for a while in silence before Lisbon asked, "How was your first minute of the New Year?"

"Great," he smiled, stepping closer to her. They were mere inches apart. "You were right about what I do on holidays. The drinking at least..."

She should have seen it coming from a mile away, but it was difficult to concentrate on anything but the way he was looking at her. His eyes scanned her face carefully, slowly. His expression was unreadable as he leaned closer. Her heart pumped faster as she felt one of his arms on her back, the other encircled her waist. His lips moved to her ear, almost touching it.

She stood still, frozen as she felt one of his hands reach for her hair. She didn't understand if he was trying to hug her or not.

"You," he whispered closely. "...still have some Christmas tree in your hair..."

She felt as if he'd dumped a bucket of cold water on her head. She pushed him hard in the chest. He retreated, with a twig of pine in hand. He presented it in his fingers with a show of his hands, as if it had appeared by magic. A grin broke out slowly upon his face when he saw she was not amused.

"What? Now, you're right about both parts. I drink and seduce."

"You did not seduce me." She said, hoping her voice sounded light and playful, instead of disappointed and bitter like she really was. "What, was everything you did tonight a set up for that trick?"

"It wasn't a trick. And no, barely anything was a set up. I'll let you decide about what..." He smiled, much too pleased with his actions.

"Oh okay, I'll do that. Right after I move the couch back and go home." She spat, trying to get a handle on her emotions. She forced a smile and the way Jane looked at her, she knew he knew exactly what was wrong with her. "Bye!"

"No, no. I'll move the couch back." He rushed, catching up with her and holding the door for her. "You go home. Do some thinking."

"Thanks." She gave him a strange look before heading past the stairs and to the door that led to the main floor. She reached for the handle, swinging the door open, stopping as his voice echoed in the room.

"Teresa...Happy New Year. I hope I didn't spoil it for you too much."

"You didn't spoil it. It was nice," she admitted. "Happy New Year. And Patrick?"

"Yeah?"

"Don't wait too long..." She said boldly, her eyes glancing at his wedding ring. "You deserve happiness too."

She couldn't quite describe the look on his face as she walked away. It was soft, the playfulness dying out as her words sunk in. It was gentle and sad as he nodded. She wondered if he was still there, nodding. She wondered if he had sliced through her obvious meaning by now and gotten to the heart of what she said. Her heart. Don't wait too long to move on because people care about you....I care about you.

As she walked to her car, she didn't bother looking over her shoulder or waiting for him to burst from the building and take her in his arms. Life wasn't a movie and Patrick Jane wasn't even close to accepting or acting on her advice. She didn't even know if she was. She only knew she had to say it. And she hoped he didn't hate her in the morning for telling the truth, for breaking past their carefully constructed evening of avoiding unpleasant topics: his daughter, his wife, Red John. But out of left field she had gone and destroyed what she had initially worked so hard to maintain and she didn't feel sorry for it.

Little did she know that in the stairwell, back against the wall, Patrick Jane still stood. In his fingers he twirled the same piece of Christmas tree that he had removed from her hair when she had woken up. The trick had been too easy. Anyone could have pulled anything out of her hair if they had held it in their hand long enough. He wondered if she would ever figure out what he had done, how he was too scared to hug her outright, with no pretense, how he was too afraid to get too close.

Heading back up the stairs, he smiled vaguely at the branch, her words echoed in his ears. Don't wait too long. You deserve happiness too. If only he could agree, shed his protective armor and be transparent. If only.

After he had moved the couch back and turned off the lights, he fell back onto the couch. He couldn't bring himself to go back to that house now. And as he drifted off to sleep he dreamed of a world where there were no red faces on walls, no shielded attempts at affection, and he could finally be truly happy again.

It was a new year, who knew?