Okay, so despite the fact that I'm trying to plan about three chapters of other fic this is what I got written. Sigh. It's a bit different then what I usually write, sort of. Maybe. I don't know. Anyways, here it is. The length kind of got away from me. Hope you like it.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
She was sure that everyone had those days. Days when you didn't feel quite like yourself. Actually, that wasn't true. It wasn't so much that you didn't feel quite like yourself, but rather that you felt like too much you. But not too much like the parts of yourself you happen to like, too much like your flaws. Especially the ones you tried to bury the deepest. Something happens, usually something completely innocent, that for whatever reason you manage to blow completely out of proportion. Unfortunately for her, today was one of those days.
Ninety-nine days out of a hundred she was self-assured and confident. She knew who she was, what she was doing. She was Agent Teresa Lisbon of the California Bureau of Investigation. It was her job to solve the most high profile, the most delicate, and yes, usually the most gruesome cases that the state of California had to offer. She was known for her cool head, her quick reflexes and her ability to lead. And she knew she was one of the best field agents they had.
So her life wasn't exactly thrilling outside of work? She had her friends, her family, other interests. She volunteered weekends she wasn't working; she'd hiked all the trails within two hours drive of her apartment. Okay, so there was no one special. That wasn't unusual. Most people couldn't deal with the hours she worked, let alone the danger she faced weekly. Besides, she still had time to meet that special someone. She hoped. Generally life was good.
At least on a normal day. Not on one of those days. And she never could pinpoint what caused them, or anticipate when they'd happen. Maybe it had something to do with the lunar cycle, or the alignment of the planets, or she'd disrupted the feng shui of her apartment, or maybe karma was out to get her because she'd swatted one too many flies the day before. She didn't' know. All that she did know was that on those days it felt like a supernatural force was smiting her. Just because it could.
Today was one of those days.
It had started off ordinarily enough. She'd gotten out of bed, showered, gotten dressed., eaten breakfast. The usual. But something felt off. First she'd lost a shoe, then her keys looking for the shoe. The California traffic had seemed particularly congested, the other drivers particularly moronic. She'd arrived at the office at 9:02, technically late, but not late enough that anyone would comment. Well, other than Jane, who'd asked her if she'd misplaced her car keys or her wallet. She'd almost ignored him, but that would have resulted in more questions, so she'd answered calmly before getting to work.
Luckily the team didn't have a case so she didn't have to worry about going out into the field. Other than feeling a little antsy, a little discouraged, she thought she'd been doing fairly well. A quiet morning, lunch at her desk, a little conversation with her team. It was fine.
Then it had happened. And sadly it was completely unimportant. On any other day it wouldn't have even been a blip on the radar. Rigsby had made some off-the-cuff comment about their last case (ex-security guard who'd gone a little crazy, killed his wife).
Cho had answered him, "He was used to having his own way man. Went nuts when she didn't fit into his world."
"God can you imagine being that rigid, that tightly wound that anyone who doesn't fit in your skewed worldview gets killed? I mean, I thought you had control issues boss, but that's a whole other level of creepy."
Her face went white; she was sure of it. Had he honestly just compared her to a murderer? Logically she knew, she knew that wasn't what he'd meant, known it was a kind of joke, meant to be silly, but on those days logic was sometimes a rare commodity. She heard Van Pelt give a significant cough, and Rigsby seemed to realize what he'd said, and more importantly, her lack of reaction. On any other day his backpedalling would have been comical.
"Not that you're creepy boss… or, you know, have anything in common with a murderer. When I said… I just meant that you were really in control all the time. Not that that's a bad thing! It's probably one of many reasons you're in charge and not us. It's not… I mean…"
She managed to shake herself out of it and even sent him a smile, cutting off his awkward apologies, "I know Rigsby. Don't worry about it. I know what you meant."
But she interrupted; she wasn't having this conversation, "Seriously. Don't worry about it. I just spaced out for a minute there. It's fine."
He opened his mouth to say something but Cho beat him to it, "Quit before you make it worse man."
Cho's facial expression barely changed, but Lisbon knew that was deliberate. Rigsby looked contrite, and Van Pelt looked like she wanted to give her a hug. She refused to look at Jane, but she knew he was watching her. She grabbed a file off a desk, "Alright, well I've got to go finish up some paperwork. I'll be in my office if anyone needs me."
She could feel their worry on the back of her neck as she left the room. This is what came of having a team of good, decent, perceptive people who cared about you. It almost made you want to hire a bunch of incompetent jerks. She'd been worried Jane would try and follow her into her office, and today she wouldn't be able to get away with fooling him. But he didn't, and for that she was grateful.
She sat at her desk and tried to go back to her paperwork. Okay, so she was a bit controlling. She needed to be. That was what being the head of a team entailed. Especially a team with Jane on it. She'd been in law enforcement long enough to know what happened when people in charge were incompetent. It wasn't pretty. And it wasn't like she was always looking over her team's shoulders. She recognized their strengths. When she sent them off on some task or other she didn't feel the need to call them every ten minutes to make sure they hadn't screwed it up, unless of course she had some good reason for suspecting that they might. She trusted her colleagues with her life. So she didn't like looking vulnerable, especially on the job. Did anybody? It's not like the rest of her team were really open and emotional with each other! Van Pelt was too ambitious; Rigsby would never want to appear flawed in front of Van Pelt; Cho personified stoicism; and everyone knew Jane was always wearing a mask. So why did she get nailed with the control thing all the time?
Well, she knew why, she guessed. It was her thing to be teased about. Like how they teased Rigsby because he never stopped eating, or Cho for never changing his facial expression, or Van Pelt's naiveté because she was the rookie, or Jane's general uselessness in a dangerous situation. She just hadn't wanted to hear about it today. Not when all of her flaws already felt amplified a hundred fold. So she controlled her own behavior. It was called being responsible, was that a bad thing? She cut her line of thinking off abruptly. She was not doing this here. It was only four o'clock. All the self-pitying, sophomoric, self-indulgent crap could wait until she was out of the office. Right now there was a mountain of paperwork waiting for her attention. Hooray.
Still, when six rolled around she decided to head home, unfinished paperwork or no. She wasn't really concentrating on it anymore anyways. She stuck her head in the bullpen, "Bye guys."
Rigsby and Jane were the only two left. "Night Lisbon," Jane called from his couch.
"See you tomorrow boss." Rigsby told her. As she walked down the hall she heard footsteps behind her. Turning she recognized her pursuer, her (usually) gentle giant.
"Boss…" Rigsby started apprehensively, "About before,"
He looked so apologetic and so any residual annoyance disappeared. Patting him on the arm and sending him a real smile she said, "Don't worry about it Rigsby. You just caught me on a bad day. See you tomorrow."
"Okay. See you tomorrow."
As she walked to her car she noticed the chill in the air. It was getting damp out. She didn't remember that from the morning. She wrapped her jacket more tightly around herself and prepared for another quiet evening at home. Alone.
At least she was leaving late enough to miss most of the rush hour traffic.
By the time she got home she didn't have the energy to make dinner so she decided to take the easy way out and grab something from the freezer. She flipped on the TV in the hopes of finding something to occupy her mind. After channel-surfing for a few minutes she found a movie she hadn't seen before. It was about halfway through, but it didn't look the type of movie where that really mattered.
Actually, it wasn't even very good, but she didn't have the energy to change it. She supposed this is when it would be nice to be in a relationship, when you were home after a long day at work. There'd be someone to call, to talk to, maybe to laugh you out of yourself, or just to listen to you complain. The sad thing was she had no one like that. Sure there were her brothers, but it was getting too late to call the east coast, especially since the kids would be in bed. And yeah, she had friends, but they all had families, or they hadn't spoken in a while, or they weren't that kind of friend. Sure they might go hiking together, or volunteer together, maybe go out for a drink, but they weren't the type of friends you called after a long day just to talk. When it came to that she was alone.
She guessed part of it was because she was a workaholic. Why not blame it on the job? It's what she always did. But on days like today she knew that wasn't really to blame. Rigsby was right, she did have control issues, and not just in the office where it was expected. She controlled herself, both her actions and her reactions. She'd gotten so used to being the one to take care of everybody, that although it had made her very good at what she did, it also meant that she could never deal with anything short of perfection in herself. Could never let anyone see her slip. Could never let anyone in. And she figured that, and that alone, was the main reason that she found herself in her early thirties with no one to call on a Wednesday night when she was having a bad day.
And would it be so bad? Would it really be so bad if she started letting people in again? If she let people see her, and tried to trust that they wouldn't smash apart whatever parts of herself she'd managed to glue back together? But let's face it, she didn't know how to begin. She'd gotten so used to keeping people out that she didn't know how to do anything else. Besides, ninety-nine days out of a hundred she wasn't sure she wanted to.
But still, sometimes it was lonely.
And she had to admit that was why she really liked Jane. More than she would ever admit to anyone, not to her team, not to her boss, especially not to him. Most of the time not even to herself. He was arrogant and vain, he almost never considered the consequences of his actions, he had a skewed sense of justice that didn't correspond to the law she was duty-bound to uphold, he was immature, and let's face it the man was seriously broken. Not to mention he never let anything go, he was always prodding, always pushing, invading her personal space… trying to shatter her control.
And sometimes, usually only in a small way, he succeeded. And part of her liked that. Besides, he was fun, and silly, and quirky, and absolutely insane, and he made her laugh. Even if it was only to herself he made her laugh. So yes, she liked him. Even though she probably wasn't supposed to. Even though it was probably a bad idea. She did. And on days like this, when she was alone in her apartment she wished she could call him. Like he was a friend and not a colleague, she wanted to call him just to talk. Because with his freakish abilities he would know something was wrong, and she was sure he'd be able to make her feel better. But she couldn't do that. Agent Teresa Lisbon of the CBI could not call her loose cannon of a consultant, a man she had only had the flimsiest of holds over, and tell him her deepest darkest secrets.
Enough. She had to be responsible. In control. She glanced around her apartment where barely a book was out of place. She had a sudden urge to start hauling things off shelves and hurling them across the room. Didn't matter where they fell, as long as nothing ended up in its original location.
She needed to leave. She grabbed her jacket and her purse and slipped on some shoes. She needed to walk. Didn't care about the hour, the neighbourhood was relatively safe, and if it got too late she could always call cab. Forget a walk, she needed a drink. Maybe a walk then a drink. In some anonymous bar somewhere where nobody knew her name, and wouldn't bat an eye at the sight of a woman sitting at the bar, or maybe in a corner nursing a drink. And after she'd managed to turn off her brain for the rest of the evening she could come home, after the day was over, to her sickeningly neat apartment.
He could tell something was bothering her. And he doubted it was just because he was good at that sort of thing. She was too quiet. Okay, so Lisbon was never particularly chatty, but this was different, this was a sadder sort of quiet. More… deliberate he guessed. No particular cause for her mood sprang to mind, it wasn't the anniversary of her mother's death, that was months away, and the anniversary of her father's had passed several months ago. He doubted something was wrong with one of her brothers or one of her nephews, it wasn't that kind of sad, there was no tinge of worry. No, this was like she was in a funk, but not a silly little thing because she'd slept through her alarm and missed her morning cup of coffee; this was serious. He racked his brains. Nothing had happened during the last case that would have caused it... The victim was a forty-six year old male, which was sad, but even though he'd been married, there were no kids, and as it turns out, not really the nicest of guys. Hell, he'd even come quietly. Lisbon hadn't even had to threaten to shoot him.
Normally he would have gone to investigate, gather more clues to the puzzle instead of lying here on his couch, but not today. Today was not a good day to prod at Lisbon. It was one of those days. One of those days where after waking up he'd glanced around his almost empty kitchen and acknowledged how pathetic his life was, if you could even call it that. One of those days where he couldn't quite maintain the cheerful mask to pretend that everything was fine. But more importantly, and more devastatingly, one of those days where he wished everything could be.
He hadn't been lying when he'd told Lisbon that he wished he could move on. He knew what he was doing wasn't healthy, knew he'd be happier, knew his wife and daughter would have wanted him to. None of that seemed to matter. His guilt wouldn't let him let go. Still, every so often he'd have one of those days. On those days he'd get flashes of what his life would be like if he could. He could really be friends with the guys, maybe invite them over to his house for barbecues without worrying about them going upstairs. There'd be no sense that in a few months, or years, or however long it took, all of this would be over because either he'd be dead, in prison, or have nothing else to live for. There'd be nothing stopping him from becoming a more integral part of their little club of two. He could move his relationship with Van Pelt past that guy who liked to tease the most innocent girl of his acquaintance, who liked to watch her squirm when he met the men she was seeing. He could more fully move into his role as surrogate older brother, teasing, mocking, challenging, but always there. And Lisbon… Well, as always, Lisbon was complicated. She was brilliant, and beautiful and unexpected, and she puzzled him more than he liked. If he didn't have his own agenda he could probably get her to trust him, and if he could get her to trust him… He could picture her as his best friend. Laughing at her apartment, going out to dinner together, calling her up on the phone for no good reason. He bet she'd make a great friend. Between his sense of fun and her sarcastic sense of humour they'd be unstoppable, and probably a terror to anything or anyone they encountered.
That was the worst part of those days. Because no matter how much he wanted it, how much he wished for it, he knew it could never happen. It wasn't fair to her. He couldn't let go, not even on those days. Because all he'd have to do is close his eyes for a few minutes, and inevitably a smile painted in blood would appear, or note taped on a door, or a house that as far too still to have people in it. And she deserved better than that.
He couldn't get close to her only to hurt her down the line. He knew enough about her personality to know she wouldn't deal with that kind of a betrayal well. And even if she could deal with it, what right did he have to inflict that sort of pain on anyone else? As it was they were friends of a sort. Well, she was the closest thing to a friend that he had. He could trust her, he liked her, she liked him most of the time. They even had a good working relationship, which was really more than he deserved. But what she deserved was someone who could be there for her, who wouldn't let her down like she'd been let down hundreds of times before, who would be a constant in her life. And let's face it, he wasn't that guy.
And so he couldn't into her office and wheedle what was bothering her from her. Not today. Because if he did, and she told him, and she let down her guard just a little, then he'd want to comfort her, want to be there for her. And he was worried that once he started he wouldn't be able to stop. Wouldn't want to stop. So uncharacteristically he stayed where he was.
But still, he couldn't help wondering what was wrong.
When Rigsby made the off-the cuff comment he saw her face go ashen. She was probably cursing herself for her weakness. Ironic that the very quality she was being criticized for was letting her down now. Normally she'd have brushed the comment off sooner. Not like she was doing now, about thirty seconds too late, but immediately after it had been made, and with a half laugh and a quirk of her head. She wouldn't have paused like she'd been slapped.
Was their normally reserved leader wishing she could open herself up more? Loosen up a bit? Well that was interesting. But all the more reason not to instigate a tête-à-tête. Not if she was vulnerable and looking for something more in her life. He knew he was the one who broke her control sometimes, just for fun. But this was serious, and he didn't think he'd be able to resist an appeal if he saw one in her eyes.
After what seemed like hours (and probably was), people started leaving. Lisbon left before him, and he let Rigsby leave too, to once more apologize to thier boss, even though she'd just assure him it was unnecessary. About fifteen minutes after the office was empty he left too, first stopping by a fast food place to grab some dinner, which he ate in his car.
He walked in his house, and then turned and walked out. He couldn't go in there today, not on one of those days. The urge to change it would be too great. He wanted to buy paint to paint over his wall. But he knew that come tomorrow he wouldn't be able to, so he just left. He'd wander the city all night if he had to, but he wasn't going home. Not today.
Wandering the city. It was lonely, but at least it wasn't quiet. Of course the sounds of the city weren't as effective at occupying his mind as the distraction of a case, or of his teammates. Here there was no one to bug, no one to tease, no one to try to make smile… But that was a bad path to go down. She had her own life, even if she'd never be the centre of whirling social network, she was relatively content. He didn't have the right to destroy yet another woman's life.
How long had he been out here anyways? Not long obviously. He still had about 12 hours before the office opened the next morning. He considered going back anyways, trying to get some sleep on his couch, ignore the memories. Which ones he wasn't sure. Maybe all of them, but especially of her.
Then he saw her. He almost couldn't believe it, but unless she had a twin it was true. Teresa Lisbon was sitting in the window of a bar about a twenty minute walk from his house. Half-obscured in the darkness she hadn't seen him yet; she was gazing sightlessly across the table, playing with her glass and looking miserable and alone.
Before he even realized what he was doing he was in the bar and sliding into the booth across from her. "Hi Lisbon," he said with the softest of smiles.
When he spoke she seemed to recognize him, realize he was really there. "Jane!" She said, surprised. "What are you doing here?"
"Shouldn't I be asking you that?"
He couldn't resist smiling at her; she still looked a little like she couldn't believe he was actually there. "Last time I checked this bar was considerably closer to my house than yours. Just in the neighbourhood were we?"
She frowned. He was right. She was closer to his house than her own. She'd thought she'd been moving aimlessly when she'd started but, what if… She shook herself out of her thoughts to answer his question, "Just wanted to go for a walk, wandered for a while. Ended up here I guess. I forgot you lived near here to be honest."
"I'm touched," he responded dryly.
She sighed, "That wasn't what I meant Jane and you know it." She shrugged, before continuing more quietly. "Just needed to get out of my apartment for a while."
Now it was his turn to sigh. He knew that feeling. "Yeah. What are you drinking?" he asked gesturing to her empty glass.
"Hm? Oh, this? It was Jack Daniels but…"
He was already standing, "I'll get us a couple more." He had a feeling he'd need the alcohol if he was going to stay. Six drinks or so would have been dangerous, but one would be alright.
When he got back to the table she wasn't staring across from herself anymore, instead she was looking out the window. When he set her drink in front of her she turned back towards him and gave him a barely-there smile. "Thanks."
She looked at him over the top of the glass, sipping the alcohol slowly. Jane looked tired. Jane always looked tired, but this was different. He looked almost vulnerable, like he was searching. Trying to bring some semblance of normalcy to their meeting she asked, "So what brings you into a bar this fine evening."
"Of the two of us I think I'm the one who'd be more likely to be out drinking on a weeknight don't you think? Better excuse."
He could see the flash of compassion in her eyes, but to his surprise she didn't let him get away with the diversion. "Somehow you don't strike me as the type who'd cope by going out and getting drunk every night. Trust me; I know what that looks like." She could see that her comment had surprised him. Of course it had. Teresa Lisbon did not talk about her past. Everyone knew that. She sighed, "So why?"
"What if I told you it was a beautiful woman in the window?" Crap. He hadn't meant to say that. What had the bartender put in his drink?
She started at that. It would be easy, so easy… but in the end rationality won out, "I wouldn't believe you."
Well, he couldn't have that. Even if this was a terrible idea he couldn't have that. "Wouldn't believe what? That you're beautiful? Or that I came into this bar because I saw you sitting there? Because as it happens both are true."
She had no idea what to say to that. Absolutely no idea. She knew what she should say, what she would've said had it not been one of those days, and she knew what she wanted to say since it was.
He resisted the urge to reach for her hand as it played around the top of her glass and steered them back to safer ground with the answer she'd originally been looking for with her question. "I didn't want to be in my house today either." Lisbon seemed to accept that. Just nodded and took another sip of her drink, rolling it around her mouth a bit before swallowing. He liked that about her. She seemed to have some innate sense of when not to ask.
She wondered if Jane ever wanted to be in his house. She knew he hadn't moved since the murders. She assumed he'd changed some things but had no idea how much. And she certainly wasn't going to ask. Dealing with Jane on a day to day basis was much easier if you pretended he was at least half as functional as he pretended to be.
"You know, you never really told me how you ended up here." He pointed out.
"Sure I did, I said I went for a walk."
"A directionless walk that ended up in a bar?" He asked with a smile, "Somehow that doesn't sound like you either. Besides, you were sad today."
She glanced up abruptly. She knew he'd noticed. She looked back at her drink. "I guess it must be a bit of the shock to see the by-the-book Agent Teresa Lisbon nursing a glass of straight alcohol alone at a bar on a weeknight. That'd be enough to fuel the CBI gossip mill for a month." She looked at him then, and he saw an expression on her face he'd hoped never to see. "Do you ever have days where you wish things could be different? Where you wish you could be different?"
He laughed mirthlessly, "Days? Lisbon…"
Her expression changed to one of contrition, "Oh god, Jane… I didn't mean…"
"I know. I knew what you meant." He shrugged, "Some days are worse than others. That's true of anybody. I just have a more obvious regret than most people." Now it was turn to study her more intently, "You on the other hand, very successful, generally well liked, competent, kind, beautiful, many people would wonder what on earth you'd want to change."
"Come off it Jane, you're not most people. I bet you know."
"It might make you feel better if you told me though."
She nodded, but she didn't know if she could say it out loud. She tried to come at it from a different angle. "Do you ever think you should be more careful? Look before you leap?"
He would have protested at the change in subject, but he knew it wasn't one, not really. "What for? You've seen me talk my way out of pretty much anything." He couldn't tell her that he didn't often care what happened to him, not when she was looking at him like she was.
"I know what you meant Lisbon Truthfully?" When she nodded he continued, "Yes. Some days. On days like today I wish I could be more cautious."
She nodded, but when she didn't continue he added with a smile, "Most of the time I just figure you'll sweep in at the last second and save me."
She smiled back, but it was fleeting. "Well, I am in charge. The boss. That's my job."
"You're good at what you do Lisbon."
"Maybe too good."
"Are you saying you think next time you should just let me die? Teach me a lesson maybe? Lisbon I'm hurt." He tried another attempt at levity. Sucker for punishment that he was he wanted to see her smile.
She ignored that before biting the bullet. "Do you think I'm too in control?"
"It's your job to be in control," he pointed out logically.
"I meant outside of work," she clarified.
"You forget, I don't know you very well outside of work." They'd both ensured that he realized. They both seemed to realize what might happen otherwise. Both were really very careful about that one thing if nothing else.
"I thought I was translucent," she tossed back at him.
"Maybe parts of you. Every so often you throw me a curve ball."
She grinned then, "Like when?"
"Like now." He paused, before adding in a gentler tone, "You could try to let people in you know Lisbon." What was he doing? Was he crazy? This was way way past the danger zone. But he couldn't just leave her sitting there and say nothing.
"I don't think I know how."
"And you think I'm the one to help you with that?"
She looked at him then. Part of her wanted to say yes, but what then? She was lonely, he was broken, they were all wrong for each other. But she also couldn't bring herself to say no. "Maybe. You claim to be so in tune with human emotions."
"I don't know that I can help you with that particular problem though. I don't know that anyone can but you. I promise you I would if I could." He did run his hand over hers lightly then.
She was surprised by the gesture, even though it was over almost before it had begun. She was also surprised by the truth in his eyes. It was something she couldn't name, not even today, not if she wanted to keep her sanity, but she suspected her eyes might be showing him something similar.
He decided he'd better change the subject "On days like that I don't want to lose control, I dream of moving on."
"What? But you said…" She didn't understand, he'd…
"I said I can't move on. And most times I don't think I can, but some days… some days…" he couldn't continue. Couldn't admit his reason even to himself, let alone to her. He was surprised she'd actually told him as much as she had. Maybe there really was something in their drinks… "Will you hate yourself tomorrow?" He asked her suddenly. "For telling me this I mean."
"No, I don't think that I will. You?" It was probably as much a shock to her as it was to him.
"No. I know you'll keep my secret. You always do." He told her honestly.
"Though you might broadcast mine from the roof of the CBI you mean?" she said half-jokingly.
But he answered her seriously, "No. Not this secret Lisbon. I promise you."
"I wouldn't have told you if I'd thought otherwise." She could give him that, even if she couldn't bring herself to give anything else.
"But we probably won't ever speak of it again."
"Probably not. Unless…" she trailed off.
"Unless another one of those days rolls around." He finished for her.
"Yeah." She nodded sadly.
They sat in silence for a while. They had a lot in common she realized. He was lost and looking for a reason to live. She needed someone to teach her how. It was almost… It was almost nothing. They were what they were. Neither of them could change that.
She had no idea how long they'd been sitting there, but she realized she was getting tired. "It's almost midnight," she pointed out after checking her watch. The day was almost over.
"Yeah." He acknowledged.
"I should go." Oddly enough she was almost feeling better. Guess she'd been right about talking to Jane at least.
"Yeah," he said again. She was right, like she always was.
"I'll get the bartender to call me a cab."
"I can walk you home." He figured he should make the offer even though he knew she wouldn't accept.
"It's what, over an hour out of your way?" she pointed out.
"Doesn't matter." It was preferable to being alone, even on a good day.
"You're going back to the office aren't you?" She asked, suddenly concerned.
He shrugged it off. "I sleep better there. I'll wait with you until your cab gets here."
"Okay." She said companionably.
As Lisbon left the bar to grab a cab back home, she didn't look back. But she wished she'd had the courage to stay. Not because it was the right thing to do, (it probably wasn't), but because it would have been a risk. A risk that she wouldn't have even considered taking 99% of the days of her life. Because even though she knew they would almost certainly fail, and that she would probably be left broken and alone, at least she would have been able to say that she'd tried. And because it still might have been worth it.
As Jane watched her leave he admitted that he hated seeing her go, especially when she was sad. He admitted that she might have something to do with his fleeting desire to just stick a damn For Sale sign on his front lawn and be done with it. And he really wished he could help her, and not just as her occasional sounding board.
As she reached her front door she wondered what would have happened if only she'd been willing to risk it all and offer him her couch to sleep on.
As he walked back to her office he wondered what would have happened if only he'd just followed her back to her apartment.
If only she had the courage to let someone in so she didn't always have to go home alone.
If only he could forgive himself enough to stop sleeping in the room where he'd lost everything.
If only she could risk heartbreak on a man who was already broken.
If only he could forget about avenging deaths and instead devote himself to teaching someone how to live.
If only those days could last just a little longer.
If only both of them were brave enough...