So you'd think with a prompt like "Nonsense" I'd be able to write something fluffy. Not so. I blame the new season. It's pretty dark. Written for the Jello-forever November prompt "Nonsense."

I own nothing.

xxxxx

No-nonsense

She was known for being professional. Known for being straight laced. Known for being by the book. She was hard-nosed, ultra-capable, no-nonsense Agent Teresa Lisbon, CBI.

It was a reputation she'd cultivated.

She hadn't always been that way of course. Wasn't always that way now, under a certain set of conditions that is (ie. the few times a year she actually let herself go out with friends). Never let go when she was on the job though.

At least that was how it used to be. Pre-consultant.

She'd known she'd never be the most fun, or the most popular, but she was respected and generally well-liked. And that was worth more to her then winning a popularity contest anyways.

She wasn't against nonsense of course. Like almost anything else it had its place. She remembered silly jokes made off the clock with other agents, teasing remarks to her superior when he was being surly, little gestures every now and then to ease the tension of the job.

She just never let it go overboard.

She couldn't.

Had all but had the nonsense dragged out of her over the years. There was no room for it when you had three younger brothers and a broken home. At school she'd had to work to support herself, to keep her scholarships, and it left little time for anything else. As a woman in her chosen field, well, too much nonsense and you were dismissed as flighty or stupid. And Teresa Lisbon was not flighty or stupid.

So she let go of the nonsense. Shut it out. Hid it. Made herself into the consummate agent she now was. She still had fun, just quietly, on her own time, and under her own terms.

She was content.

And then came Jane.

Jane who was out of control. Foolish. Who had loved nonsense. Brought it into her workplace deliberately at every turn. At first she'd been sure it was to spite her (the fact that he'd been assigned to her team was almost nonsense in and of itself), but she soon realized that he couldn't help it. He was so used to the tricks, the gimmicks, he couldn't do anything else. He teased and poked and danced, trying to confuse everyone around him with whatever spell he was weaving at the time. Even if she understood it, she rebelled. It was her team, her workplace, and she wasn't going to be party to his shenanigans. So she stomped them all down one after the other. After all, things were always better when people were professional.

Except there was one problem. It was fun. The nonsense that is. The origami and the banter and the card tricks. It was fun. And it was fun that she hadn't had since she was a child, hadn't let herself. And without realizing it she found herself relenting. Sometimes. When it was harmless. A silly mind trick on a slow day? Why not, she had five minutes. What could it possibly hurt? And why should she be the only one who was always serious? She shouldn't. It wasn't fair. She could give herself a break every so often. She deserved it. Everyone was always telling her she was too serious anyways. Why not get caught up in Jane's inanity once in a while. Loosening up a little might be a good thing.

Except sometime Jane's fun became thoughtlessness. And it was hard to see the difference until it was too late. He was always so full speed ahead and damn the consequences. And after he was done running roughshod over a situation she was the one who went around smoothing over all the disaster he'd left in his wake. The first few months they'd worked together she yelled at him for it each and every time. Told him to be more careful. Tried to put a stop to it. He'd just looked at her with that arrogant grin and promised to try and be better. Neither of them had ever believed him.

So she'd gone back to shutting him out completely. Gone back to not giving an inch. Tried to keep a tight hold on him. But for all that she hated his methods they got results. So she ended up easing up again. Just a little, she told herself. Just this once. This one case, and then it's back to by the book. And then it was two, then three. And then sometimes she forgot to chastise him for his little games. And after each annoyance she tried not to be amused when he embarrassed Rigsby, or baited Cho, tried to stop the pleasure when she found an origami flower on her desk.

Because going easy on Jane was a bad idea.

His thoughtlessness sometimes led to madness. Sometimes Jane'd be so sure of something that he'd cajole and beg. Tell her he had a perfect plan to catch the killer. And even if it went against every rule she'd ever learned, sometimes she let him do it anyways. Despite herself. Because she found herself being caught up in the world he was creating. Where even his methods weren't perfect (and seemed to defy everything she'd ever known) they did tend to work. So she tentatively supported him. Sometimes.

And she realized she was enjoying herself. Enjoying him. Enjoying throwing the rulebook out the window every so often. Because she was fairly sure she could stop him from crossing the line.

Then they got their first Red John case. And she saw the harmless fun turn to a wild frenzy. And it frightened her. But she also recognized what he'd lost, the grief that he felt, the pain of a family destroyed. So she'd cut him some slack. Shown some compassion. Gave a little more leeway. Tried to comfort.

And at the time she hadn't realized that something had shifted.

That she'd gotten closer than she'd meant.

That afterwards she was more accepting of his lunacy. More tolerant of his methods. More willing to engage in his games. In hindsight she wondered if a part of her was desperate to let nonsense back into her life after shutting it out for so long. She'd thought she'd kept at arm's length. Maintained a distance. Protected herself from getting too wrapped up in his world.

If you'd asked her she'd have told you she was still in control.

Until the day he'd fired a gun to save her life.

She saw him willing to give up his own life for his mission, saw the lengths he'd go. How far he'd sunk when he'd missed his opportunity for revenge. And she'd had to face just how far he'd weaseled his way into her world, her affections. How much what had started as less than tolerance had resulted in a significant bond. At least on her side. Was terrified by the strength of her attachment. It wasn't wise. It wasn't sensible. It certainly wasn't professional.

And she learned how quickly nonsense could lead to chaos.

She watched as he took out his frustrations over his inability to catch a serial killer on each and every case. Found herself resentful over the fact that she owed him anything and so was both unable and unwilling to intervene when she should have.

And she felt everything spinning out of control. Didn't know what to do with him. Her guilt prevented her from disciplining him even as she hated him for it. And even as she resented him, she still felt the need to protect him, from the world, from her supervisor, from himself. She'd felt like her old worldview, her old rules had been replaced. And not by her own choice. And for the first time in her professional life she didn't know what to do. Didn't feel like she was still in charge of her own team. She felt lost. In nonsense.

And she didn't know how to stop the spread of his nonsense anymore. She'd only ever dealt with it by cutting it out completely, keeping it in its own separate little box. A box that he'd managed to blow to smithereens.

And now no-nonsense Teresa Lisbon was swimming in a sea of grey areas and games. She'd succumbed slowly, but he'd drawn her into his world. And she was losing herself.

And she didn't know how to go back.

Didn't know if she could.

And most terrifyingly of all, sometimes, like when he teased a smile out of her from across the room, she didn't know if she wanted to.

Because part of her craved his chaos. Even if she was losing herself in it.

xxxxx