A/N : I started plotting this shortly after I saw the first few episodes here in the UK. It's purely my idea of what might be going to happen, and I thought of it before I even heard anything about season 2. I have dated notebooks to prove it. The new agent originally had a different name and face. Joss Whedon already seems to keep his spare ideas in my head – now it looks like Bruno Heller has joined in. I've only seen up to the S1 finale, and I'm deliberately avoiding the reading of any spoilers for S2. This is the future in the AnJLverse, as 'Scarlet Threads' is the past.-


- with thanks to FiveRoses and Madaboutthementalist, for their (im)patience and encouragement.-




Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit....



There had been a little too much honesty in their staged fight.

If they could be just Patrick and Teresa, there would be no need to fight. But there is a whole world of restrictions and vows, policies and promises, old loyalties and bloody vendettas. He wears a ring, she wears a badge. And what those things symbolize stand between them.

"I've had it with you and your egotistical crap! This – this isn't about justice or the law. This is about you and your wounded pride. I'm done with it!"

Sheer fear in him that this may indeed be the case, one day. That his ego, his quest for vengeance, will crash headlong into that belief in justice, that strength of hers. But without the rage to drive him, what is he? And does she really think (is she really right) that this is all because he is locked in some twisted combat, with a faceless opponent who mocks him?

...hands scrabbling at the wall, a feverish muttering, got to get the face just right so that he can talk to it, ask it, demand to know why , plead and scream and beat with his fists until the kind voices come to take the pain away, silver needles turning out the lights in the memory palace...

He needs a purpose, and the empty words of the law are not enough.

"Can't you see there's people who care about you, who need you? You're being selfish and childish. And I want you to stop it."

People. Oh yes. One person, certainly. She was tired, and the pain in her eyes tore at him. He's finally broken through that motherly pity, that control. And in destroying that barrier, he's destroyed more than that, pushing her away, even as she says the thing he has so wanted to hear.

He had lied to Sophie. Told her that he could be healed, that she could fix him.

He had told Lisbon the truth. He would like to stop, to step into her arms and be whole. But that simply isn't how the world works.

He is broken, and he needs to be, shards of himself to goad himself on, deserves to be, because he failed so utterly to protect those that he loved.

And then Tanner had pointed a gun at her, and there was no time for thought at all.

...weight of the metal in his hands, smell of the shot, his body doing what his mind will not grasp...

He's killed the wrong man. For the wrong woman.

Even as he looks upon what he has done, the choking, the light in those dark eyes fading the furthest way away, in the echo of a madman's laugh...

...Is this what it will feel like? Because he doesn't feel anything...

They are polite, distant in the sheriff's office, bewildered and shocked by the secret face of one of their own. He does not notice, does not even care when they tell him that the State will not be filing charges against him. One of the officers uses the term 'righteous kill', and is hastily hushed.

Righteous. He can live with that.

The world happens around him, night turning to day with that huge, impersonal carelessness. People live, die and suffer, and the sun still rises.

Turns it over in his mind, on that silent drive, sitting beside an officer, conscious that behind him, she sits, internal turmoil of her own, but locked away, to help and comfort Maya Plaskett, who has at least seen her tormentor stopped, repaid in full.

He can't regret killing the man. Now he truly knows that he can.

Another father gets to welcome home his little girl. (But only one, only half of the whole, and how will she fare, one half of her life gone, a space beside her always filled with a ghost?) A family in their grief, and himself outside, and looking in.

...His life. One grave lost somewhere in the midwest. One in a cemetery in Florida, plastic lilies and false sentiments. And one behind a marble slab, behind closed doors. He hates the idea of her being shut away from the sunshine. But at least they are together. That little box was too small to be on its own, and she was always scared of the dark... Himself, rather fragile and slack in the face, accompanied by Dr Sophie Miller and a bland, calm orderly, leaving flowers on the steps, because they'll only open the doors for family, and they have made it so very clear that he no longer counts. Their grief turned to hard anger, bitter words...

He cannot be there, cannot watch. Has to walk, lose himself in motion.

He had truly thought himself lost, damned, beyond the reach of hope. Deliberately turning his back upon it. Prepared to kill. Prepared to die.

Then the broken pieces shifted, fell into new patterns, kaleidoscope of his life re-ordering itself. Seconds to change the world forever.

He can lose his own life, but he cannot lose hers.

He can try and rationalize it. Scourge himself for betrayal, weakness. And there is nothing that can explain away the fact. Today, the sun still shines on a world with Teresa Lisbon in it, because his world without her would be a new hell.

The dead hold him. But so does she. Caught between two worlds.

And still he cannot quiet the one small triumphant note in the chaos of his mind. She cares.

(Fingers pull the fruit from the tree.)

Teresa cares about him.

And for the rest of his life, the scent of oranges will always be linked to that thought.