Okay, there may be a sequel. Not sure. I admit that I left the Red John thing dangling because at this point in time, I just feel that it wouldn't be resolved too easily. And the focus of this fic has always been the friendship between Jane and Lisbon. Also, my account is doing something strange and I'm not getting review alerts. I try to check and respond, but then I get confused and am not sure who I've responded to. So…this is a group thank you for all of the wonderful reviews and I hope you all enjoy this last chapter.
Chapter Eight: Precious
As their fingers brushed, Jane thought he was too late and he was almost positive that his heart stopped. But, in a moment that could be classified as a miracle if he believed in them, his hand stretched that extra inch or so and suddenly he was clinging to Lisbon. There was a heavy jerk as his body recognized the extra weight.
Though his shoulder cried out from the strain (and he was sure that Lisbon's shoulder was damaged, if not dislocated from the jarring stop of her fall), he clenched his jaw and hauled her up, using a strength he didn't think he had.
Adrenaline did wondrous things. So did panic. Put the two together and even Patrick Jane, out of shape as he was, could perform feats of strength.
In his final feat, he pulled Lisbon to safety on the roof—with her help, of course. As she sat on the cement, head ducked between her legs as she waited for her trembling to slow (she would adamantly argue: adrenaline, not fear), Jane collapsed next to her. He was shaking almost as if he had been the one to dangle from the roof, muscles tense and strained from supporting their own weight. He couldn't help himself and, fumbling, he pulled Lisbon to him. He felt her jerk in surprise, but he couldn't help it.
His world had shrunk in the last sixty seconds. Down to this small body encircled in his arms. Down to the single person who anchored him, who supported him, who truly cared for him despite knowing most of his dirty little secrets. Despite the fact that he had betrayed her. She shifted and his hold tightened minutely.
"Jane." Her voice was firm and his arms loosened, allowing her to pull back. She glanced at his face, expression simultaneously searching and confused. She was surprised to see the intensity of his eyes. Intensity normally reserved for his grand statements about revenge and the evils of murderers. She wanted to question it, but she knew this wasn't the time. And, to be honest, she had no idea of what she would say.
She stood and scanned the roof. Red John was gone. She sighed in disappointment. Damn. She had hoped she would hit him. Sure, it had been a last ditch effort, but still…
Turning, she rushed to the girl. She made out a faint pulse and used her hands to attempt to staunch the bleeding, ignoring the twinge of pain in her shoulder. Interesting…Red John didn't normally leave survivors. Clearly, this girl was in actuality a pawn. Not really important. Even so, Lisbon knew that this showdown on the roof hadn't quite gone the way the serial killer had expected. Because if it had, the girl would be dead and likely Lisbon as well. Maybe Jane, but only after he had watched the deaths of the innocent, only after he had been made to feel as if it too were his fault.
"Jane, call Cho and have him send the EMTs in." Lisbon turned her head to make sure that Jane was following her order rather than pursuing the direction Red John had disappeared. She was once more surprised to find him only a foot or two away. Silently, he pulled out his cell phone, but didn't move from her side.
The ground team had seen what had happened with Lisbon and had already sent agents in to clear the building floor by floor. They would be there within minutes. Lisbon hoped to God that this girl had minutes.
When the EMTs burst onto the scene, the girl was still alive. In a flurry, they carted her down to the ambulance. Lisbon, having backed off to make room for them, looked down to her hands, bathed in blood. She shuddered internally and held on tight to her hope for the girl's survival. Lisbon idly wondered if she had been picked off the street at random or if the choice was deliberate. Perhaps a small slight to Red John and, being irked, he had decided to take out his anger on her and find a way to torture both Lisbon and Jane. A hand on her shoulder made her turn, expecting Cho. It was Jane.
She still didn't know what to say to him and she welcomed the interruption when Van Pelt approached with wet wipes and paper towel. Attempting to clean her hands, Lisbon's eyes catalogued the actions of everyone on the roof. She saw Cho and Rigsby examining something on the far side, surrounded by a crew that was keeping a perimeter around them. Though curious, she knew Cho would let her know what was up when he was ready.
Sure enough, in minutes Cho was standing in front of her.
"Drops of blood, boss. Looks like you hit the son of a bitch."
Rigsby grinned, happy that the bastard serial killer had gotten a small taste of what he deserved. He sobered and picked up from Cho's statement. "This block is like a labyrinth, though. Easy enough to go from rooftop to rooftop if you've planned it. We hadn't sectioned off the whole block, just the building next door."
Jane broke his silence. "He got away."
Though she couldn't hear any maliciousness in his voice, Lisbon flinched. She knew that Red John was gone because he had helped her, had saved her. Logically, she knew that both she and Jane would probably be dead if he had gone after Red John. Jane had been unarmed and Red John had the advantage (she really disliked describing it that way) of having killed many times before. He was experienced. He was professional. Jane wouldn't have had a chance.
"But we have his blood sample. We can run DNA tests. If he's in the system, we got him," Van Pelt eagerly pointed out. Lisbon watched Jane's unchanging expression.
"Van Pelt's right. Cho, Rigsby, photograph the scene and have forensics sweep the roof. Van Pelt, get everyone who isn't necessary out of here. We need those blood samples bagged, too. Make sure every 't' is crossed and every 'i' is—"
"Dotted," Rigsby and Cho finished. Lisbon grinned at them, happy to be back with her team.
"You got it."
They ambled off to do her bidding and she turned back to the consultant. She opened her mouth, but he cut in.
"You need to get your shoulder looked at. And your arms. They're pretty scraped up." He reached forward to put a gentle hand on her back to guide her toward the stairwell, but froze midair as if just remembering that they were no longer on familiar terms. His hand dropped and he stood before her. If it wasn't Jane, it would almost be awkward. She gave a tentative smile.
"Thank you for helping me. After—well, I know that it wasn't quite on your agenda and I appreciate it." She thought her words were firm, sincere.
He laughed, a little self-deprecatingly. "You sound so formal. It wasn't help, Lisbon. It was your life."
She didn't know how to respond. He slipped his hands into his pockets.
"I know that I left you hanging before. That you don't trust me. That you probably loath me at this point." He looked away from her to the sky that was bright blue. He thought that it should be murky, disturbed by dark clouds. How was it that he could feel so unsettled, so eaten away by darkness inside and the sky could be unaffected? How could the world be so bright blue when he felt as if he was sinking lower and lower, consumed by the red of hatred and death? "Today, it was your life."
He forced himself to look back to her, to take in the fading mark of Red John on her cheek. "And I realized just how precious that was."
She looked at his eyes and wondered if he was regretting what he had indirectly (in a way) done to her. "I'm glad. Life is precious, Jane. I'm glad you chose life."
He shook his head. "No. You misunderstand me. I chose your life. Your life is precious."
Awareness crackled between them, indefinable but strong. She nodded solemnly. It wasn't exactly what she wanted to hear, but she thought maybe it was a step forward, a step toward the better. She thought maybe she could trust him to have her back. She reached out and laid a hand against his arm, giving it a brief squeeze before pulling back. "Thank you."
And in that moment, it felt like something broken came back together. Still marred with a crack, but nonetheless whole once more. Maybe they weren't fixed, but somehow the world felt a little more normal. A little more stable.
She turned away and headed to the stairwell, sure that he would follow her and nosily sit in on her check-up. She searched her feelings and found that she wasn't suspicious. Her anger had diminished.
Jane watched her back. He had always loved that he could bring out her expressiveness—one of the many reasons he needled her. To get a rise. But, today, right now…well, he thought that the view of her back was one of the best things he'd seen in a long time.
Not because she was alive, though that definitely contributed to it.
But because she trusted him again. Even if just a little, she trusted him enough to show him her back.
As he left the roof, he searched his feelings and found that he didn't have any regret about his actions in the last hour. He didn't feel like he had betrayed his family. He had saved Teresa Lisbon for the world. For himself.
And he didn't think he could ever regret that.