So this is the final chapter. I admit I'm a bit sad. Again, thanks to all the wonderful people who reviewed, many of you multiple times. I always love to hear that people are reading. I hope everyone is pleased with the ending, bearing in mind that I always said this was going to be a friendship fic ;)
Lisbon absently shuffled some papers on her desk. It had been a busy couple of weeks. Two cases had fallen in their laps one right after the other, but today she was expecting a quiet afternoon. She was just finishing up some of the paperwork now. Things had gone fairly smoothly. Well, as smoothly as possible she guessed when your week involved multiple homicides and dealing with Jane. Actually, he'd managed to only mortally offend three people this week, which might be some sort of new record. Besides, she admitted to herself, at least one of them had definitely deserved it.
Huh, Jane. Her relationship to the provoking man had been changing over the last few weeks, ever since they'd first gone for ice-cream. They'd been spending more time together, and she had to admit she liked it. It wasn't ever a big deal of course. Usually it was just coffee in the break room, or sometimes he'd show up at her apartment and they'd watch TV or a movie, maybe on a rare occasion play cards. But it was always casual, natural, and he didn't seem to require anything of her. It hadn't even seemed to affect their working relationship; well, other than possibly increasing the frequency of mutual mockery. But there was no harm in that. They were buddies; it was nice.
She wandered over to the storage room to grab a file she needed for her meeting with Minnelli later. While she was searching, a couple of junior agents from another team passed by and she had the extreme misfortune of hearing part of their conversation.
"Dude, I'm telling you, they're sleeping together!"
"What? You're crazy! No way Agent Lisbon is involved with a member of her own team."
Oh God. What? How? Crap. She should really storm out there and give the pair a piece of her mind, but for some reason she couldn't seem to make her feet move.
"Oh yeah? Then why are they always spending so much time together? Going out for meals, or taking breaks together? Besides, Tim said he sees them bringing each other coffee all the time."
"You're a moron. She brings her entire team coffee every so often, not just him. And everyone knows the serious crimes squad is close. Anyways, if I was going to suspect a relationship within that team then Lisbon and Jane would hardly head the list."
"Okay, then why has she been amused rather than annoyed by his crap more often than not lately? And why is he always hanging around her office?"
"So they're friends! Lots of cops are in case you haven't noticed. What do you care anyways?"
"I don't. Well not really, but come on, can't you see he's just using her?"
"Oh open your eyes! Even you must have heard the rumours about why he's here! He just wants to kill the guy who murdered his family, and he's using Lisbon to get what he wants!"
"Is it? If he gets close to her then she's less likely to stop him from killing the psycho. Who knows, he might even convince her to look the other way. She's getting soft where he's concerned and she doesn't even know it."
"You really think so?"
"Yeah, I really do. Come on, help me with these boxes. We've got to get them to city hall."
Lisbon walked out of the storage room towards her office in a daze, carrying the sought after file with her. She hated being the subject of gossip, always had. Although in this case she really didn't see how she'd even done anything to warrant it. And as for the idea that Jane was merely using her, well that was ridiculous. Wasn't it?
She shook herself, of course it was! No way had Jane gone to the trouble of taking her to a carnival, or watching movies with her, or showing her the best chocolate store in the city just to get on her good side! She knew he was dark sometimes, and their ideas of justice certainly didn't line up, but he wasn't cruel. She certainly didn't think he'd ever intentionally throw her under a bus in the pursuit of one of his crazy plans.
But, her more suspicious side pointed out, he can be careless. And he doesn't always think his plans through all the way. Besides, you thought he was acting strangely a few weeks ago, right before this whole thing started. Can you really be sure this isn't somehow part of one of his crazy schemes? You know that some of them are pretty convoluted sometimes. Maybe this one's just long term...
But that didn't make sense! After all, he'd told her things, trusted her, and she... she'd... He'd told her things about his wife and daughter, willingly, unasked. Whatever else she thought of him, no way would Jane ever intentionally use the memory of his own family for personal gain. And as for the idea that they were sleeping together, the man was nowhere near over his wife and the most physical contact they'd ever shared was when he'd draped an arm over her shoulders. Those two gossiping agents didn't know what they were talking about, and the one had been more than a little malicious. If it weren't for the fact that she didn't want the stupid rumours to go any further she would have spoken to his supervisor. As it was, she'd just have to keep an eye out.
Lisbon snapped open the file and started reviewing its contents before her afternoon meeting. The whole thing was ridiculous, and she vowed not to think about it anymore.
"Well, all things considered it's been a good couple of weeks," her boss commented.
"Except for the three dead bodies of course sir."
Her boss sent her a withering look, "Yes Lisbon, of course, except for the dead bodies." He shook his head. "You know what I meant."
She grinned. "Yes sir."
"Besides, even Jane has been keeping out of trouble. I think I've only gotten two complaints this week. That's got to be a new record with two cases on the go." Throwing his senior agent a grin, he asked, "Whatever did you do to get him under control Lisbon."
"I have no idea," she remarked absently. But she felt like someone had poured a bucket of cold water over her. Jane was being more cooperative, and he did seem to be making some sort of concerted effort not to make her life as miserable as possible. Sure, he still pulled a bunch of his crap, but somehow she'd been less affected, or maybe she'd just gotten used to it. But if even Minnelli had noticed it no wonder people were gossiping. She hadn't thought it was possible, but maybe Jane was up to something. And that almost never spelled good news for her.
"Well whatever it is, keep it up."
"Hmmm? Oh yeah, sure thing boss." She needed to be more careful when Jane was around, at least until she found out what was going on.
"Are you alright Lisbon?" her boss asked concerned.
She shook her thoughts away, "Yeah boss. Of course. Sorry, just got distracted there for a minute." She sent him a small smile to convince him; she wasn't sure it had worked, but at least he didn't call her on the lie.
"Alright," Minnelli said, not believing her for a moment. Something was up alright and probably something to do with Jane. Oh well, he was sure Lisbon could handle that lunatic even though pretty much everyone else in the department refused to have anything to do with him. "Well, I'll probably be talking to you soon enough. Your team did good this week Agent Lisbon."
She smiled, "Thanks boss." She needed time to think about what was going on with Jane, time away from his probing eyes.
Despite his confidence in her abilities, Minnelli couldn't help noticing as Lisbon walked out of his office, that she somehow looked more tired than she had when she'd walked in.
Lisbon was so lost in thought on the way back to her office that she almost ran right into Rigsby. "Whoa, boss. You alright?" he asked, as he grabbed her arm in order to prevent a collision.
"Yeah. Sorry Rigsby. I got distracted. You know how it is."
"Sure thing boss. Look on the bright side, at least we've just finished up a couple of cases, we're not starting them."
"Besides, even Jane's been behaving lately. I think it's been over a month since the last time he was called up for disciplinary action," Rigsby added in an attempt to lighten the mood.
Lisbon just gave him the barest of smiles before practically running back to her office. Now Rigsby wasn't always the most discerning of individuals, especially when it came to women, but it didn't take a moron to realize that something was bothering his boss. He just hoped it didn't have anything to do with him.
Oh well, he shrugged. One of the good things about having Jane on the team was that the crazy consultant usually ended up bearing the brunt of Lisbon's wrath when things went wrong.
Lisbon was avoiding him, and Jane had no idea why. He'd thought things had been going well; so much so that he'd almost been ready to declare Operation Lisbon a success. But these last few days whenever he'd called her or brought her coffee she'd been busy, or on her way somewhere, or hadn't picked up her phone or just plain had no time to talk to him. She'd been fairly ingenious in her excuses; it wasn't like she'd claimed she needed to wash her hair or anything, but she still wasn't talking to him. Not about anything that didn't directly relate to a case at least, and somehow he couldn't provoke anything out of her. What on earth had happened? He missed the twenty minutes he spent each afternoon irritating her or making her laugh. He missed having the option of showing up at her apartment for a movie. This new policy of minimal contact was unacceptable.
Jane was lost in his thoughts as he wandered into the bullpen. What had he done to make her so mad at him? He couldn't remember doing anything particularly offensive lately. Well, not by his standards at least. He'd figured that she'd be mad when she found out that he'd purposefully poured red wine on all of their prime suspect's white shirts, especially since said suspect had been a congressman. But he'd had his reasons. Besides, that wasn't when she'd started ignoring him; a small part of her had even thought it was funny.
He was so distracted that he didn't notice that Cho'd somehow cornered him in the break room until the agent had him almost backed up against a wall. "Alright man, what'd you do?"
"What?" he asked, despite having a pretty good idea what the other man was talking about.
"To the boss. What'd you do? I warned you what would happen if you hurt her. Only thing is, I'm not sure why she's been acting weird and avoiding you for the past couple of days, so I'm giving you sixty seconds to explain yourself."
"How very magnanimous of you," Jane muttered under his breath.
"I have no idea okay? I have no idea what I did! Everything was fine! Occasionally we'd go out for lunch, as I'm sure you've noticed, but usually one or more of you guys came too so it was more of a team thing anyways. Sometimes I'd call her on lazy afternoons, or we'd watch movies or go walking in the park, but most of the time we'd just have coffee or tea together in the afternoon. It was all just little things. We were just being friendly. My plan was working. And then a few days ago she got all skittish and strange after she came back to the office from her meeting with Minnelli. I can't think that anything in that meeting would have scared her off since we solved our last case and I didn't do anything too insane. But I honestly have no idea what's going on."
Cho considered the other man for a moment. He seemed to be telling the truth. It was always tough to tell with Jane, but Cho was inclined to believe him. Of the two of them, Lisbon had been the one looking a bit odd for the past couple of days, while Jane had clearly been confused by her behaviour. "Yeah, I believe you man. But you know, had to make sure."
"Of course. Any idea what's going on?" If anyone knew what was going on in Lisbon's head, it was her second in command.
"I wish I could help you. But even if I thought she'd talk to me, I'm not sure it's a good idea. If she thinks this is all some sort of plan or worse, some kind of trap, then my asking her about it will just make her defensive. Plus she's my boss and she might just decide to kick the crap out of me."
Jane acknowledged that with a nod and a sigh. "Thanks anyways Cho."
The other man continued as if he hadn't spoken, "I can't talk to her, but I think you should. Find out what's going on, away from this place. You've certainly had enough practice getting people to talk to you." At Jane's questioning look the other man just shrugged, "She was happy. Looser, and you were too. You guys make good friends. If she matters you should figure out what's wrong. It might just be some stupid misunderstanding that talking can fix. Only thing is, she doesn't like to talk about personal crap, so you'll have to force the conversation."
Unexpectedly Jane grinned, "You're right Cho. Thanks. I'll talk to her about it tonight. I'm sure things will be fine."
He walked up to Lisbon's door looking more confident than he felt. He had no plan, nothing to open with really. Well, that's not true, he had the fact that she'd probably be so surprised to see him that he might be able to weasel his way in the door before she could shut it in his face. At least he'd arrived at her building just as someone else was leaving, so he hadn't needed to get buzzed up.
Well, here goes nothing, he thought to himself as he knocked on her door.
Lisbon was sitting on her couch channel-surfing, and bored out of her mind. She needed to resolve the Jane situation soon, if only so that she'd have someone to call when she felt like mocking whatever was on television. Also, because there was only so much longer that he'd let her get away with ignoring him. They really needed to talk. But given the possible outcomes of that particular conversation she wasn't sure she wanted to. "Hello, Jane. I know I've been acting strangely, but quick question, are you by any chance trying to get close to me so that when the time comes you can steamroll over me more easily in your quest for vengeance? Just thought I'd ask." Either Jane was just using her to forward his own agenda (the jerk), in which case she really didn't know how she'd deal with it, either personally or professionally, or she was acting like an idiot, and his motives were fairly pure. She guessed there was a third option as well, that there was absolutely nothing different between them in the first place, making her basically like a kind of science project he indulged in when he was bored. She wasn't sure which of the three possible outcomes displeased her the most, although a small part of her admitted that just this once she could probably deal with looking like an idiot.
The knock on her door nearly gave her a heart attack. Who on earth could that be? Unless it was someone else who lived in the building... She walked and checked her peephole, almost groaning audibly when she realized who was on the other side with his irritatingly cheery grin. She'd known that she didn't have much more time, but she'd been hoping for at least another day to mentally prepare herself for the inevitable conversation. Oh who was she kidding? She'd never be prepared for this. Maybe he would just go away...
Jane was relieved when she finally opened the door. He'd been worried that she'd pretend to not be home, or worse, refuse to let him in. "Hi Lisbon. And how are you on this lovely evening."
"I'm fine Jane. Did you want something?"
"I was bored, so I thought I'd come see how one of my favourite CBI agents was doing. Can I come in?"
She sighed, but figured that now that he was here she might as well get this over with. She stepped aside, and allowed him to pass into her apartment.
"Watching TV were you? I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
"No, there was nothing on."
"Unsurprising. Hey! Do you have any ice cream?" Lisbon was always more agreeable when she had her treats. Why hadn't he thought to bring some?
"No, I'm all out."
"That's a pity. So..." He wasn't exactly sure how to bring up the change in her behaviour, without making her angry or defensive. Luckily she solved his problem by interrupting him.
"What are you doing Jane?"
What did she mean what was he doing? He was trying to figure out what was wrong with his friend. What did she think he was doing? "Right now? Well, I'm standing in your apartment talking to you. You've been acting strangely lately, and I was worried."
"I've been acting strangely! Jane, what about you? What's been going on these last few weeks? First you almost entirely stop prying into my life, and then all of a sudden we're spending a lot more time together, and you're being almost polite to some of the suspects... Our relationship is changing, and I want to know why. What exactly do you want from me Jane?"
"Want from you? What do you mean what do I want from you? I want to spend time with you. I want you to trust me."
"That's was this is about? You want me to trust you?" Lisbon sounded scandalized by the thought. "Why would you care if I trust you Jane? Why is it so important?
"I want us to be friends." Jane muttered, feeling silly. He was looking at her carpet, not at her eyes so he didn't notice when their change in expression at his admission. He didn't see what the big deal was. Why did everyone seem to think this was so underhanded?
"You wanted us to be friends." Lisbon repeated calmly. Too calmly in his opinion.
"Yes. Friends. You know, two people in some sort of close relationship based on common traits or interests who spend some time together in a non-romantic but also non-work related setting? I didn't want to be just the thorn-in-your-side consultant you tolerated because you had to."
"So these last few weeks you were being nice to what, manipulate our relationship into the form you wanted?" She knew it sounded harsh, but Patrick Jane self-consciously shuffling his feet and telling her he wanted to be her friend was not really something that had fit into any of her prior views of the universe and she needed to get to the bottom of this. And if there's one thing she did know, it was that you never really knew what to expect with Jane.
"No! Stop being so cynical woman! I was just trying to be nice. I know you don't like it when I pry into your personal life, but I thought if you were more comfortable around me then you might talk to me anyways. I was just trying to get you to relax. Learn you could trust me, like I trust you. Then maybe we could be friends."
She almost gaped. Jane meant it. He did trust her. Really trusted her. That's what this had been about, at its core, trust? He'd been upset about that she realized, upset when she'd told him that she didn't trust him. Probably as upset as she'd been when she'd worried that maybe all their relationship was to him was a step on the road to killing a serial killer, a little voice in her head pointed out. Last week she'd thought maybe she'd trusted him, but then recently, given their jobs, she'd worried that opening up a bit might have been a mistake. To make sure there was absolutely no confusion she needed all the answers this time. "Why?"
"Why what?" He asked, genuinely confused. This conversation wasn't going like it was supposed to at all. He should have known as much with Lisbon.
"Why do you want to be friends so much?"
Now he was completely flabbergasted. Why did she think he wanted to be friends? How sick and twisted did she think he was? "Because I like you. I like talking to you. I like spending time with you. It's fun. And I thought you were having fun too. Why else?" At his wits end Jane waited for her reaction, and once again, it was nothing like what he'd expected.
She threw herself at him. Wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight. Lisbon was hugging him. Man was she strong. Luckily his arms wrapped around her automatically, because he was pretty sure his brain had actually stopped working. Lisbon, self-sufficient, reserved, tough as nails, a-hand-on-the-shoulder-represented-noteworthy-bodily-contact Lisbon, was hugging him. He took this to be a good sign.
He wanted to be friends. It wasn't some sort of weird, twisted power-play. Just friends, real friends. She didn't have many of those; she guessed most people figured that with her being such a workaholic it was too much work. He hadn't just been screwing with her. She was surprised by just how much she wanted to be friends with Jane, how much it had hurt when she'd thought he'd had ulterior motives. And he was right; she did have more fun when he was around, even if she pretended otherwise. She liked the attention, liked the idea that someone might care what she was doing with her time. She could do a friendship with Jane, assuming he stopped tiptoeing around her like an elephant in a minefield and went back to normal of course. Well as normal as Jane ever got; all this overly cautious Jane freaked her out a bit. Speaking of going back to normal, she was still hugging him. He must think she'd gone crazy.
The hug ended as abruptly as it had begun. Jane noticed that Lisbon seemed to be having trouble meeting his eyes, but she was smiling.
"Alright then, I guess this calls for the good ice cream."
"I thought you said you were out?" Still a bit stunned, Jane felt the need to state that fact, and to reference their earlier conversation. Lisbon lying to him, or trying to lie to him. Familiar ground. Excellent. All was well...Wait a minute, how had he not noticed she'd been lying? Crafty, crafty Lisbon.
She shrugged as she got out two spoons, "Of the normal stuff yeah. We'll have to break into my secret back-up stash. Grab the bowls from that cupboard would you?"
Obediently he grabbed two bowls from the nearby cupboard. As he watched her haul things out of her freezer he asked, "You sure you want me knowing where you keep your emergency stash?"
She shrugged as she pulled out the tub from the back corner of her freezer. Her voice sounded casual, but when she turned to face him the expression in her eyes gave her away, "I guess I'll just have to trust you."
Jane merely smiled as he handed his friend the bowls. As usual, he understood what she couldn't say. It looked like Operation Lisbon could finally and officially be declared a success.