Pre-S1 finale. A little piece of dark introspection. (Because denial is not just a river...)
Teresa Lisbon is an attractive woman. She doesn't ignore the fact, but she doesn't use it, either. She got to where she is on ability. But sometimes she likes to be feminine, have someone treat her like a woman. Compliments, flowers, dinner.
(invading her home armed with a cactus does not count. pulls her mouth straight, as she feels the smile begin. damn him.)
This is her first date in over a year (nineteen months, in fact) She puts in her earrings, elegant little drops (not a pang of regret for those emeralds, no) and even a dab of scent (hint of cinnamon).
Robert Veidt works in ATF liaison. He's quietly good-looking, a big, fit competent man who fills out the shoulders of his jacket without hulking. He has a dry sense of humour, good dress sense and no emotional hang-ups – he's divorced, but amicably, no kids.
When Lisbon accepted his invitation to dinner, she'd been shocked by the subtle disapproval of her team, though she'd somehow expected the enigmatic smirk over the end of the couch. But not quite the new desolation in his eyes.
She knows that he flirts with her to get his own way. Mostly, she lets him. Sometimes, in spite of herself, and then she hates herself for it. Honesty compelled her to admit that he was a very attractive man, and that some of his charm came from his appeal to what her brothers called her 'mommy complex'. He would turn on the charm, that easy sexy smile, and if that failed...the rare glimpse of honesty, pain, the shattered wreckage. Perhaps he didn't even realize he did it. But every time she was left wondering.
Because she'd seen that cold machinery working in him, that would sacrifice the bait in his trap. He had taken people's pain and trust and faith before, played with it. In really dark moments, she wondered how faithful he'd been to that sainted dead wife of his.
(and what kind of a sick person was jealous of the dead?)
Still remembers the shock, when he'd confessed to the breakdown. And the further shock at his calm recital of planned vengeance.
How the hell had that stupid woman ever let him walk out of that hospital?
She knew the answer to that, though. Had seen that expression of dazed and apprehensive hope on Dr Miller's face. Patrick Jane could seduce anybody. She can, in the privacy of her own mind, imagine all sorts of graphic things, and seduction over dinner is the least of it. Those fantasies are safe. The really dangerous thoughts are the...other ones. Some people don't want to be saved, some are too badly broken. But it seems that everyone expects her to somehow save, mend, heal this damaged man. Maybe even him.
(sad eyes and a smile to charm the devil and that glimpse of vulnerability that just killed her every time)
Once, he'd been whole and happy, husband and father. Doesn't she deserve something better than the wreckage? It's a hell of a burden, being somebody's salvation. Sometimes you need an evening off. Since when did it become her job, to be responsible for him?
(someone has to be. there is no-one else.)
She's not stupid. She's noted his tendency to be territorial, possessive. But he clings to her like a drowning man, all that stands between him and damnation. And she's tired. Is it too much to ask that she might have something in her life that does not revolve around him?
(and even as she walks down the steps, greets Robert, gets into a comfortable modern car, she knows she will spend the time with half an eye on the door, waiting for a certain smile, so she can finally relax and hate him for spoiling her evening)
It seems that even the Universe is in on the act. It's Veidt's phone that goes, leaves her stranded halfway through her salad. And she didn't bring her big purse. Just the small one. The one that has room for her latchkey and her lipstick, and not a lot else. Including cab fare. Crap.
Twenty minutes later, a familiar silver blue citroen pulls into the lot.
"You called Cho first." He's reproachful, a hint of genuine hurt in his eyes.
"I thought he was nearer." She lies. She's going to bust that little twerp back to traffic. He said it was handled.
"Not on a Thursday night." he says cryptically. "Seriously, Lisbon, you should have called me first." It isn't like he has anything else to do with his evenings. Except stare at the wall. And imagine a world going on outside without him.
Lisbon, laughing up at that dumb ape, Veidt.
He won't tell her, but his first response to Cho's call had been a sharp anger. A man lucky enough to be out with Lisbon, and he drops her for work. Unbelievable.
"I was trying to escape"(you) "serious for the evening."
Of course Cho had called him. The team looked out for each other. She'd driven out to pick Rigsby up before, when the transmission had blown on his car. Van Pelt had endured a week of commuting with Jane when she'd sprained her wrist. It's no big deal.
She's also conscious that she's wearing a thin blouse that does good things for her eyes and skin, and a skirt that shows off her legs, and her best heels, and that Jane is taking in every detail.
She has never dressed like that for him. He catches that thought back. Well, why would she? They work together. Colleagues. Jane swallows a sharp and unwelcome pang of something. Little droop of her shoulders shows her disappointment at the ruin of her evening. Thin silk flutters against her, and he shrugs out of his jacket, ever the gentleman.
Too sensible to allow pride to get in the way, she accepts. An odd intimacy, to wrap in the smell of him, still warm from his body. He hands her into the car, his usual courtesy, but she is aware of his gaze lingering on her ankles.
"You look lovely."
Of course, he's always known that she was beautiful. Lisbon can wear a flak-jacket with an air. But usually she keeps it controlled, professional. Tonight, she glows.
"I could hardly wear these heels to work."
"Oh, I'm sure Rigsby would be deeply appreciative."
It's almost their usual banter. But this evening she has no professional mask to hide behind, dressed up and delicate, no badge, no gun, no defences.
"Was it a good evening? Up until the point where he had to leave, that is?"
"Since when do you get to discuss my private life?"
"You have no secrets from me, Lisbon. Anyway, I thought we were friends."
"We are. But I'm still not discussing it with you."
(because you use things, and you're complicated and dangerous, and it feels more than wrong)
She's slightly wary that he doesn't continue to mock. Sidelong glance shows that his jaw is taut.
"You deserve to be happy. And I don't think he can give you that. He'll always put the job first."
The irony does not escape either of them. He keeps his eyes on the road, hands on the wheel.
Painful silence. Then her voice, quiet and a little sad.
"I wanted to feel normal. Just for the evening. One evening."
Words that fall into the dark between them. He scares her, infuriates her, intrigues her, but he doesn't make her feel normal. He doesn't do normal.
Face on the wall, old blood.
Jane wants to pull the car off the road, pull that jacket off her delicate shoulders, find that hollow in her throat...reduce these painful feelings to mere lust. Grips the wheel a little tighter.
What right had she to drag him back into the world of the living? The charred little cinder that was his heart was dead, his body in some strange deep freeze. Yet, she clawed little pieces of him back, warmed him with her anger. He had discovered that he could still be hurt, by her dismissal, her refusal to trust him.
And this new torture. He is still human, after all. He's not ready to be what she wants, what she deserves, but he can't stand to see her smiling at another man. Selfish, he wants her to wait for him, arrogant in his belief that she will, desperate as he acknowledges that she may not. And it scares him more than he would ever admit.
She watches him from under her lashes. She likes to watch him drive. His face, sweet and sad and thoughtful, the way she imagines few people see it. The real Patrick Jane. Between one street-lamp and the next, she faces it. The inevitable. She cares about him. A lot. It's dangerous and horribly unprofessional and unhealthy, but it's true. She hates the small part of herself that wants to reach across, turn his head and kiss him senseless. It would be wrong and cruel.
(she will not compete with a ghost)
They drive in silence.
He pulls up to the kerb, and she waits for him to open her door, hands him back his jacket.
"I'll walk you up." He takes her elbow, no argument, and they both decide to believe that it is the sudden chill of the night air that makes her shiver.
"Thank you for the lift." A breath. "Would you like to come in for a drink?"
Those green eyes, offering a wary peace. He manages a smile.
"Thank you, but no. All those villains to catch, you need your beauty sleep, my dear."
Voice catches on that betraying word. Lips a rich explosion of colour against that creamy skin, her dark hair swept up off the delicate nape of her neck.
He simply doesn't trust himself.
Her own eyes widen, darken as she watches the storm blowing up in those sea-coloured eyes, and she will not open that box tonight. Must not. Dare not. So she smiles awkwardly, backs away and shuts her door.
She feels that she has just walked away from an unexploded bomb. Stills her hands with a breath, iron control. Oh, she has control issues, alright, and the lid won't stay on much longer. If she tells him, trusts him, lets all her defences down, then they will both be lost. One of them has to keep a clear head, and think straight.
(he wants to cut a man open, he lives for vengeance, and she can understand but never condone)
Her life would be simpler without this egotistical wreck of a man. Maybe it would be better. But it is what it is, and she will not let him destroy himself. Or her.
(she wants him)
Someone in this mess has to be a responsible adult. Fuck it.
Phone goes off, and makes her jump.
And she knows exactly how lost she is when she sees the call ID, and her heart sinks.
"Oh, Robert...hi, yeah, I'm fine. No, I got a lift home with...a friend..."
In the dark room where he exists (you can't call it living) there is a new ghost, delicate thread of sandalwood and cinnamon. He pulls the jacket tighter about his shoulders, inhales.
It would be so easy to pretend, especially to himself, that there could be something. And he cannot, he must not. Because that would mean that he was healing, and he has to keep the wounds raw. Because she might offer him some hope of peace, and he doesn't deserve that.
He has nothing to offer, in his headlong rush to confrontation. It can't end well. It shouldn't even start. But tonight, he is sad and selfish, and he wants the memory of her green eyes.