The Strangest of Inventions

Chapter 3

---

'Feel the little changes coming on

So come to me where you belong...'

- Bic Runga, Election Night

---

Normally, breathing came naturally to her but just this once, air somehow went down the wrong pipe and she choked. Jane relinquished her hand and poured her a glass of water which she gratefully accepted, still sputtering.

When she was finally able to breathe without coughing and her eyes had stopped watering, Jane was watching her with an amused expression. "I knew you were uncomfortable with sentimental talk but I didn't realize it would cause you respiratory distress."

"Shut up, Jane," she muttered, embarrassed by her reaction, even as she was warmed by the memory of his words, the sincerity in his eyes. She hoped he never ever said anything like that to her again because she didn't have a clue how to respond, but she appreciated the sentiment.

Lisbon placed the glass against her heated cheeks, and as he opened his mouth, she pointed a threatening finger at him. "If you make a single comment about reading my mind right now, so help me, I will club you over the head with that IV pole."

"Consider me cowed into submission," he said, looking anything but.

Lisbon narrowed her eyes at him. She was getting better at reading him, she knew what he'd done. Flipped her earlier trick of misdirection right back on her to distract her from applying pressure on those sensitive sore spots on his soul, make her forget that vulnerable man she'd just seen. Restore their usual dynamics. It was okay, she'd let him get away with it.

Partly because she had heard the truth in his voice, and although she didn't want to ascribe any deeper significance to them, his words had made her feel an odd fizzing combination of contentment and delight. And no, she didn't feel like examining her reaction too deeply, either.

But she also let it go because she figured he needed some space. After that dreadfully serious, somber conversation, he had some things to work out for himself, on his own.

Although he showed no signs of budging from his chair anytime soon. Which was a problem. "Jane?"

"Mmm-hmm?'

"It's- I don't know what time it is, but it's late. I'm going to get some more sleep." She waited for him to get the hint.

"Okay."

She frowned. "I can't do that with you just sitting there, watching me."

"Really? Huh. You were doing an admirable job of that just before."

"Yeah, but now I know you're here."

He looked curious. "And that would prevent you from sleeping?"

"Yes. It would. It would make me uncomfortable."

"I don't feel uncomfortable when you watch me sleeping on the couch at work."

"I- what? I do not!"

"Sure you do. You think I'm adorable-"

"If anything," she cut in hastily, "I think you're a pain in the ass, and that you should be working instead of lounging around like you don't have a job."

"That's what you say now, but you told a different story under heavy medication."

Lisbon closed her eyes for a long moment. "If I find out the team left me alone with you while I was drugged out of my mind…" Words failed her at the thought of Jane persuading her to confide all her deepest, darkest secrets to him. "Ugh," she groaned. "Maybe I'll wake up and this will all just be a bad dream."

"Come on, Lisbon. It can't be that hard. You can fall asleep in the car with me at the wheel, after all."

"Yeah, but the point is that you're driving, not watching me sleep."

Jane tapped his fingers together thoughtfully. "Oh! What if I closed my eyes?" he suggested, with the air of one who'd had a stroke of genius.

"What?"

"Your main objection is the thought of being observed while you're in a vulnerable state. But if I close my eyes, you shouldn't have a problem."

She thumped her head against her pillow a few times, and stared up at the ceiling. Frankly, she didn't have the energy to come up with an argument to refute him. "Fine, if I can't get rid of you, then- yeah, fine, you do that."

Lisbon shut her eyes, determined to get some rest despite the distraction of his presence. They almost flew open again when she felt his hand grasp hers but she didn't want to give him the satisfaction. "Night, Jane," she murmured and, despite the thought that she shouldn't encourage him, she squeezed his hand, then smiled as he interlaced their fingers.

"Night, Lisbon. Sweet dreams."

She wouldn't tell him this, but she slept better that night than she had in ages, and her dreams were of a future bright with hope and promise.

---

A/N: Yay for resolution! I'm usually terrible at finishing fics. Hope you enjoyed this. :D

However, I'm being pursued by plot bunnies that are after me to do a second part set a month later, or however long it takes to recover from gunshot wounds [anyone with relevant medical knowledge, pm me? *bats eyelashes*], in which there would be Jane!angst, dark!Jane, Lisbon!whump…interspersed with Jello fluff, because I love shippy banter.

Hmm. Real plot? Action scenes? Damn you, plot bunnies, damn you.