Disclaimer: *Bursts out laughing* Oh I thought you just asked if I owned the Mentalist.
A/N: We are finally at the end of the journey for this fic. I am so excited to finally be ending it but at the same time, I'm very sad to see it go. I don't really want to go on a long rant here, so I'll simply say that I hope you enjoy the epilogue and that you like the way it all turned out. If it seems different compared to the rest of the story then I'll blame my pregnancy hormones for influencing my writing. :P
I wrote this entire chapter for the real Nellie to cheer her up. She's been kinda down and majorly stressed so if anyone else wants to join in on the 'Cheer Up Parade' I encourage it.
"I'm sorry Patrick..." She wanted to say more. She wanted to do something to make it better but he leaned in and pressed a gentle exploratory kiss to her lips. Everything she'd planned to say vanished when she felt his hand snake along the hem of her shirt.
"I want to know you're real." Something inside of her knew that he'd managed to win the argument.
6 weeks later...
"Ara, sweetie, calm down. Don't put your face against the glass!" The small child was sitting in a window with her face just millimeters from the glass and of course Lisbon was trying her best to make sure no little finger prints or face prints ended up marring the pristine window to the small two bedroom log cabin they'd rented. She couldn't really blame her little one though, the sight was beautiful and pure - although it was ruining their skiing plans. "Nellie, make sure she doesn't touch it."
"Teresa, she's fine. Let her enjoy this." The voice of reason was whispered in her ear, arms wrapping around her from behind to keep her from grabbing Ara and sitting her back on the sofa.
"Mum-mum look!" The excitement showed on her tiny face, her eyes alight and wide with awe as she pointed at the big white flakes falling heavily from the sky.
"I see baby, it's snow."
"Smow?" She repeated it a few times, testing the word and the teen sitting at her side tried to gently correct her mispronunciation but it didn't quite work. In Ara's mind, it was now known as 'smow' and that was that. "Smow cold Mum-mum. Brrr."
"That's why we're inside but when the storm passes we might go play in it."
"Play, play, play." Jane chuckled at Arabella's enthusiasm and the rumble sent a shiver coursing down Lisbon's spine. The vacation had definitely been a good idea. She hadn't been so sure about going away with him because it made everything seem more permanent but now, seeing her little girl bouncing with a smile on her face as the snow storm raged on, she realized it'd been just what they all needed.
Nellie was healing, physically she had a clean bill of health but mentally, she was still working things out and Jane - the man who had been there for so long - was doing just as well. He didn't seem to be in as foul of a mood as he had been the days following the kidnapping and things were good between them. A few little spats here and there but that was normal. She felt at home watching her two girls sitting in the window while leaning back against Jane's chest as he swayed them gently from side to side. It felt like a family.
"Help me with dinner?" In all honesty, there wasn't much to do in the cabin and Lisbon was sort of bored. Ara's toys just didn't interest her much and the TV was out due to the winter storm. It was just them, in their little cabin nestled back in the woods and a part of her liked the boredom - a part of her wanted to stay forever. It was great to spend time with her three favorite people with no interruptions and she was loving how much bonding time she was getting with Arabella after just being there for a few hours. There were still ten more days in blissful ignorance of the outside world. She intended to make the most of it and that started with a family meal.
A kiss was pressed to the side of her neck, an agreement to help and with a glance at Nellie, she untangled herself from Jane's arms to grab his hand and lead him off to the kitchen. Cooking was technically second on her list of things that she wanted to do but the first had to wait until the kids were asleep. Thanking him for talking her into a vacation would come when they got some privacy, although she had no qualms about stealing a kiss once in the kitchen and that's exactly what she done.
Pressing him into the wall, she showed her appreciation using her hands, teeth, and tongue to say thank you and he responded in kind. It was supposed to be a quick kiss but she'd lost herself just a few seconds in with a small moan and he'd seemed more than okay with just submitting. It was when she heard Ara's giggles that she remembered exactly why they couldn't get too carried and with great reluctance to do so, she pulled away.
Flushed and breathing a little labored, she ducked her head and whispered her gratitude as well - just so he knew why she'd practically mauled him.
"Thanks for talking me into this." Not wanting to give up the contact, she stole a brief kiss and smiled warmly when he let his nose settle against her forehead.
"We all needed it."
"Yeah, we did." Dinner was momentarily forgotten as they just stood there wrapped up in their own little world. In a cabin in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a blizzard and with plenty of supplies to keep them happy for their stay, they didn't have to think of the things that generally kept them on edge with each other. There was nothing to be said or done that could triumph over what they were accomplishing just by being close.
"I thought we were supposed to be cooking?"
"Shush." The husky chuckle that escaped his lips fanned across her skin and only relaxed her further. This what what she'd been wanting for so long. It seemed unreal but she knew it wasn't. It was reality now and though there would be tough times, it was the little moments like what they were having right at that moment that would get them through the bad as well as the good.
Her heart started pounding in her chest once she realized what she was about to do. Her kiss swollen lips suddenly seemed dry and cracked but her tongue did little to solve the issue. Keeping herself pressed into but moving her head back to look him the eye, Lisbon felt her stomach jump into her throat and her mouth became cotton-filled. Her palms were starting to sweat and she knew that if she was going to say something then she needed to do it before she lost the capability and with a deep breath, she calmed a few of the nerves.
This was just Jane, just the man she was sleeping with and sharing family life with. Nothing big and what she was about to say couldn't wait any longer. She'd been biting her tongue and holding it in as long as she could. It no longer mattered if he said it back or not. It was something she needed to get out before it became something that stood in the way of their relationship. He seemed to know that she wanted to say something and gently urged her on with a kind smile and warm eyes.
"I uh, I want to say something and I was going to wait but I don't think I can." The smile fell, but only to acknowledge the seriousness of the topic and she knew right then that it would change things.
"Okay. Go ahead."
"I-I love you. I have since before Ara was even born, I mean you helped me so much after Chris was killed and I never thought I'd make a good mother but you proved to me that I would. You keep proving that and you've been there every step of the way with Arabella, she calls you 'daddy' and that's exactly what you are; I never in a million years..."
A soft kiss drowned out her words but it didn't last long and she knew she'd been rambling; it was just a way to get her to be quiet but when their eyes locked and she saw that his were shining, she chewed her bottom lip between her teeth.
"You m'dear are incredibly gorgeous when you ramble." Heat rose in her cheeks but she also wasn't sure what to feel. She'd told him; she'd said it and he was just holding her close and staring down at her. "I didn't think you'd say it first."
"I love you too and I was planning to tell you tonight after showing you just how much but I guess this means you beat me to it." Relief was the first wave that rushed through her and then happiness and finally realization at what he'd admitted to. It all seemed to take just seconds but at the same time, she felt as though it'd taken so long to admit. It had in actuality. Ara was turning two soon and she was pretty sure she'd really been 'in love' with him since about her five month pregnancy mark. Before it'd been that she liked him, a lot, and really wanted to further their relationship but once it became love she'd decided that she'd be happy with whatever cards she was dealt and if that'd meant he was just a really good friend then she'd handle it.
She didn't have to now and her next action of peeking around the corner to see Nellie watching her from the living room only proved that she wasn't in some weird dream. It was all real.
"I'm sorry that you had to go through losing Christian but I'm not sorry that it led to this."
"I wish he'd got a chance to know his daughter but it wouldn't have changed anything. I'd still be here with you and you'd still be the one I love." Insecurity made her duck her head but he didn't give her the chance to back out of the conversation before he was lightening the mood and leaving her lips tilting upwards.
"Well I guess there's only one thing we can do then."
"Get married." Choking on the gulp of air she sucked in sharply, Lisbon stared at him wide-eyed as if she hadn't heard him right but Cheshire grin told her she'd heard exactly what he'd said and that thought left her with her mouth hanging open and her brow furrowed. "Oh c'mon don't look so shocked. We've pretty much been dating since you were pregnant although we held off on anything physical until just a few months ago and we both love each other so it's the next logical step. Marry me?"
"Not the word I'm looking for." Still gaping at him, she shook her head to clear her thoughts and wondered how exactly they'd managed to get on the topic of marriage. "It's a simple word...rhymes with mess...starts with a 'Y'."
She almost felt the urge to run away but then she realized his smile had faltered. He was actually worried that she'd say no and that alone made her see that she didn't want to. She wanted to make it official but was it really a good idea?
"Okay, I get it. You don't need to feel bad, I'll survive."
"I just - okay...yes. Yes, I'll marry you."
The storm raged on outside the little cabin and Nellie appreciated the beauty in it as well as whatever had just happened between Teresa and Patrick in the kitchen. Whatever it was, it had to be good. She could hear what sounded like laughter, happy laughter and it brought a smile to her face as she turned her attention back to the wiggle worm situated in her lap.
"Mum-mum and Daddy go?"
"They're making us something yummy to eat." She doubted they were doing much other than kissing and possibly a few things that weren't really decent to think about nor did she want to think about it. Ew. She couldn't tell that to Arabella so she settled for her explanation and gave the little one a grin.
"Oh." The little pout that formed on her lips reminded Nellie of the face that she knew Teresa made when she was upset about something.
"Do you need something sweetie?"
"Need go potty." Lifting Ara from her lap, Nellie stood up and took her tiny hand in her own to lead her to the bathroom. They'd all been working with her on the potty training for the last two weeks and she'd been doing really well. No one was pushing her; she wasn't quite two yet but she wanted to use the 'big potty' like 'big people'. At least that's what she'd told her mother one day and since then it was all they ever heard about.
"What do you say we get you a bath while we're at it?"
"No, I think Mommy's going to take one later." If she wasn't talking to a toddler she probably would have added in a 'with Daddy' but she wasn't about to corrupt an innocent and Arabella didn't need to hear such things.
It was still so different for Nellie to think that she had a family. She had a mom, a dad, and a little sister; she didn't know if it'd ever grow passed that but if it did, she'd be more than happy with any additions to their little family and if it didn't then that'd be okay too. It took her eighteen years but she finally felt at home. If she could just get rid of the nightmares then things would be perfect.
AN2: THE END! Look at that, I finally finished it. Okay, so it was kinda on the fluffy side but hey, I'm pregnant and it makes me want a happy ending. So there it is. I would have had it up sooner but then I decided to go review all 30 chapters of 'United' as Nellie's going away to college present as well as a thanks for her help with this fic and her hours of virtual hand holding when I went on rants during writers block as well as personal things...it took awhile to review so many chapters but I thought it might cheer her up a bit.