A/N: This is the last chapter, sorry! I will be writing a sequel, but I might not be able to start today as I leave on holiday to Cyprus tomorrow morning at five in the morning (GMT). Thank you!
Christmas was the worst and the best time of year.
It was the worst because she had to save up to pay for Christmas dinner and the boys' presents, and give them an allowance so they could buy presents for their friends.
It was the best because her father usually sobered up for Christmas Day, even if he was out cold by Boxing Day.
She was sixteen, and finally able to get a proper job. She'd left school once she'd graduated a few months earlier, so she could work full time.
"Christmas shopping time!" She shouted up the stairs, and moments later a small herd of elephants, known to others as Alan and Charlie Lisbon, came crashing down the stairs.
She bought them bus tickets and they rode the bus to the mall. As always, their eyes widened at all the possible things to buy.
Sighing, Teresa took them into Pound-Land to begin with. Charlie bought some small presents for his friends, ever the money saver. Alan tried to coerce her into buying an inflatable snowman. Needless to say, he didn't get far with his pleading.
Once Charlie and Alan had bought their presents, she deposited them at a café in the centre of the mall, and went to buy presents for them. Every year, she tried to keep up the pretence of Santa, even if it was just a book and a piece of chocolate.
She bought a book that Charlie had been asking for, and for Alan she bought a gift token for a store that he liked to shop in. It would probably only buy one item of clothing, but it would have to do. When she got back, she saw Charlie and Alan with their heads together.
"What are you two whispering about?" She asked, and they looked up, grinning.
"Can we go and look at something?" Charlie asked.
"Sure." She smiled. They hurried off, and she wondered what they were going to do. As long as they don't get into any trouble.
Alan was fourteen and Charlie was eleven. Alan had got into the same school that Teresa had, again with a scholarship. Charlie had moved to a different school after her got a bursary to a better school.
When the boys arrived back, they were carrying a bag. Both boys were grinning from ear to ear.
"What's that?" she asked them interestedly.
"Secret," Charlie told her, and handed over a few bills. "These are for you. Our contribution to Christmas."
They both beamed at her, and she was touched by the gesture.
"Isn't this the money you made from helping Janet?" She asked Charlie.
"She gave me extra; she said it was for Christmas." Charlie told her.
"Thank you, both of you." Teresa stood up, picking up the shopping bags that she had put by her feet. As they walked off to the bus stop, she noticed two girls from her class with bags full of shopping. She glanced down at the three plastic bags she was carrying, and back to the large paper and plastic bags they were carrying. She saw one of them point at her, and the other girl laughed.
"Hey, Teresa!" One of them called over. Her name was Alisha, or something.
"Hi." She answered, and the other waved. They walked over.
"Are these your brothers?" They asked, and Charlie shied away as one tried to pat his head.
"Yeah. Alan and Charlie." Teresa smiled, wary of why the girls were being so nice.
"Nice meeting you." The other girl said. Lana, possibly?
"See you in September." Alisha smiled at Teresa.
"I'm not coming back to school." Teresa corrected her, and Alisha looked surprised.
"Why not? You're like… some genius or something," Teresa smiled. She'd been the hard-working, good student. Nothing special. She'd had to work as hard as she could otherwise they might retract the scholarship.
"I… I…" What could she say? That she couldn't afford to pay the college fees? Her scholarship ended this year. There was no way she could pay, not with Alan and Charlie eating them out of house and home. "I'm going to work."
"Oh…" Alisha shrugged slightly. "See you around, then."
"Bye." Teresa turned and the three Lisbons headed for the exit, leaving Alisha and Lana staring at their retreating backs.
"What happened to her?" Lana asked, and Alisha shrugged.
"Her parents never come to parent's evening." Alisha noted.
"Her mom's dead. Don't you remember? She said when we were doing speeches. She did a speech about how drunk driving takes lives," Alisha sighed.
"That's sad. What about her father?"
"No idea. I've seen her working at the supermarket; I guess she's the one that makes the money." Alisha glanced down at their shopping bags.
"I wish I could help her…"
"Maybe… maybe, we can."
Christmas Day dawned, cold and damp. By lunchtime, it was snowing, light fluffy snow that wasn't sticking to the ground. Teresa had spent most of the day in the kitchen, making the Christmas dinner. The night before, she'd stayed up late, wrapping presents and then putting presents in stocking for Charlie and Alan.
Alan had tried to tell her that Father Christmas didn't exist, but Charlie had told him off. Charlie had said, "if you don't think he exists, then you shouldn't get any presents from him." That had quietened Alan. No extra presents? No way.
Normally, by dinner her father was sober. This year, he was still drinking. She'd already received a slap across the face when she'd tried taking away the alcohol beside him. He was drunk out of his mind.
This year, it looked like it was just going to be her, Charlie and Alan.
Teresa piled up the plates and took them into the kitchen. Charlie and Alan followed, and begun their Christmas duty of doing the washing up.
"Thanks, you two." She said gratefully. The door bell rung and she turned. "Let me get that."
She hurried over to the door and opened it. "Hello?"
"Hey Teresa!" It was Alisha and Lana.
"Oh. Hey!" Teresa pretended to look please that they'd come.
"We brought you something." Lana handed her a small parcel.
"Oh, thanks. I didn't get you guys anything…" She bit her lip, and they shrugged.
"That's fine." Alisha smiled. "Open it."
Teresa opened the parcel. Inside were three cinema tickets, one adult and two children. Next to that was a card with a phone number on it.
"Virgil Minelli?" She looked up at them quizzically.
"He's my uncle," Alisha explained, "and I asked him about you going into work. He says that there's a job opening where he works. You'd have to do training obviously, but apparently it pays really well."
"Thank you…" Teresa broke into a smile and hugged them both. "Thank you so much."
"You're welcome. Anything to help." Alisha smiled, and turned away.
"Hang on." Lana said. "And, if you ever want to go out on your own, then my sister wants to meet Alan and my brother wanted to know if Charlie could come around sometime."
"I'm sure Charlie and Alan would love to visit." Teresa wondered why they were doing what they were doing. It wasn't like they'd been close friends at school.
"TESS!" She turned at the yell. It was Charlie. She turned at ran to where the shout had come from.
She looked at what Charlie was looking at. Lucien Lisbon was flat out on the floor.
"He's not breathing, Tess!" Charlie cried.
"Stay here." She ordered him, and ran past Alisha and Lana to use Janet's phone.
Alisha walked into the house. She was amazed at how spotless it was. Barely furnished, but it was clean and tidy. She stopped when she saw Lucien. "Oh my god. Charlie, Alan. Come here."
Lana helped calm down Charlie, and Alisha kept Alan talking until the ambulance arrived and Lucien Lisbon was taken away to the hospital. Teresa leant against the wall, and slid down it until she was sitting on the ground. Alisha sat next to her and put an arm around her shoulder.
"He'll be okay." Alisha assured her. "He'll be fine."
"No. He won't. Not this time." Teresa shook her head, trying not to cry. "I'm sorry you had to see that."
"Don't worry. Do you want a lift to the hospital?" Alisha asked, gesturing to a small car that was parked on the curb.
"Thanks." Teresa stood up. Teresa rode shot gun, while Lana sat in the back, talking to Charlie and Alex, trying to take their minds off the situation. When they arrived, Teresa ran in to the hospital and up to the receptionist.
"I'm looking for Lucien Lisbon." She told the receptionist. It was the same receptionist who she had told that she'd been looking for Alan a few months earlier.
"Doctor Daniels would like to speak to you, miss." The receptionist told her. "If you could wait in the waiting room?"
Teresa turned and headed back to the room where the atmosphere was full of worry.
She waited nervously for half an hour until a doctor called her name out. "Miss Lisbon?"
She stood up and walked over to him.
"Yes?" She asked anxiously.
"I'm afraid that Mr Lisbon passed away, there was nothing we could do." Charlie and Alan were crying, but for some reason tears just didn't come to Teresa's eyes. Maybe it was because she'd expected that to happen. "Miss Lisbon, can I speak to you alone?"
She followed Doctor Daniels into his office.
"Miss Lisbon, did your father have an alcohol problem?" Doctor Daniels asked as soon as she'd sat down. He leaned forward, his elbows on his desk.
"…yes." Teresa told him.
"Did you do anything about this?" The doctor asked her. She stared down at her hands which were in her lap.
"I tried to stop him. I took away all alcohol. It didn't do anything." Teresa wouldn't meet Doctor Daniels' eyes.
"Thank you, Miss Lisbon." Doctor Daniels stood up and shook her hand. "I'm sorry for your loss."
Three weeks later, Teresa, Charlie and Alan were in court. Teresa was challenging social services. They thought that it would be better for Charlie and Alan, eleven and fourteen, to be placed in a children's home. Northern Nevada Children's home, to be exact.
Teresa's lawyer was representing her wish for Charlie and Alan to live with her in California, where she was moving to work.
"The court has come to a decision." The judge said, and Teresa clutched her hands together. "Charlie Lisbon and Alan Lisbon are to be housed in the Northern Nevada Children's home. Court adjourned."
Teresa stood up suddenly and she couldn't stop the tears from falling. She ran over and pulled both of her brothers into a huge hug. They were both crying too, knowing that they wouldn't see their sister often at all.
She pulled back and watched as the woman from social services walked Charlie and Alan out from the court room.
"I'm sorry." Her lawyer patted her back gently before leaving the courtroom.
Teresa Lisbon walked out of the courtroom and onto the busy street.
Two days later, she walked out into the bright Californian sunshine.
"Teresa Lisbon?" She looked around and saw a man about ten years older than her.
"Yes?" She asked, and he smiled at her.
"Virgil Minelli." He proffered his hand for her to shake. "The boss sent me to collect you. I warn you, he's not in the best of moods right now, our lead suspect just turned up dead."
"That sucks," Teresa said, and Virgil chuckled.
"Too right," He led her over to a black Chevrolet Suburban, and thirty minutes later they pulled up outside a building he addressed as the 'CBI HQ.'
He spoke to the parking attendant, and Teresa was given an identity badge, with her name on it.
"You'll get a proper one with a photo once you've done your training." Virgil said, as he parked his car. They walked towards the building, and headed upstairs. "I work in the Serious Crimes Unit. You don't have a weak stomach do you?"
"No," Teresa answered, and Virgil grinned.
"That's lucky. The last person we had moved from the Petty Crimes Unit to the SCU and puked at their first crime scene. Needless to say, they soon returned back to the Petty Crimes." Teresa smirked, and Virgil knocked on an office door.
"Come in." Virgil pushed open the door.
"Boss, this is Teresa Lisbon. Lisbon, this Jonathan Ryan. Your boss." Teresa leaned forward and shook Jonathan Ryan's hand.
"Thank you for giving me this opportunity, sir." She said, and he smiled at her.
"It's good to have you on the team. Minelli will show you the ropes and we've organized you sessions for training each week. In ten minutes you've got a session on the shooting range." Teresa raised her eyebrows.
"That should be… interesting." Minelli and Ryan chuckled.
"You'll be fine. Minelli, don't tell her too many scary stories about us, okay?" Minelli grinned.
"Sure thing, boss."
Three weeks later, and Teresa was settling into the SCU. She didn't realize just how intriguing fighting crime could be. Not only that, but she appeared to be quite a natural. Minelli had watched on with pride as she noticed a major clue that no one else noticed which led to taking down a killer just last week. Literally taking down. Like, flying tackle taking down.
She'd run after the suspect when he'd bolted and they'd seen a flash of green and the next thing they knew Teresa Lisbon, or rather Agent Lisbon and Lance Archer were on the ground, and Teresa was cuffing Lance's hands behind his back.
"Is it wrong to say that that turned me on?" One of the other agents on the team, Agent James Sanders, was a total player, and they all knew it. The addition of a gorgeous female agent to the team was his idea of heaven. Until that said gorgeous female agent kneed him in the balls for his comments.
She still missed her brothers desperately, but that was to be expected. At least now she was learning to live life on her own terms, rather than existing to care for her family. But still, without fail, every week she sent them each £10 from her wages.
She knew she'd always be grateful for Alicia and Lana linking her to Minelli and the CBI. And maybe one day, she'd get to thank them.
A/N: Jeez that was a long chapter! I hope I didn't bore you! Thanks so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!