Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
Spoiler: The Scarlett Letter
Prompt: Lisbon decides to have Jane's couch reupholstered/cleaned/moved…(without telling him.)
A/N: Thanks everyone for all your sweet reviews and thanks Frogster for the wicked prompt! Hope you enjoy this part.
Unfortunately for Jane's plans, the case takes over much of the unit's work for the next few days, leaving little time for anything else.
The boyfriend's murder turns the investigation into a completely opposite direction, which means they work around the clock to cover all possible angles and explore every clue available.
Although, Jane spends most of that time in deep thought, occupying Lisbon's couch, the brunette herself is rarely there with him; instead strategizing with the team in the bullpen or re-examining evidence that is of no interest to the consultant, who chooses to focus on re-watching the interviews with the victim's next of kin and other suspects to catch anything he might have missed before.
This cuts severely into his ability and desire to extract the location of his couch from the detective. Their conversations as usual have been reduced to shop talk, bouncing ideas off each other, sometimes a heated argument over his unorthodox methods erupts. However, whenever Jane has the desire to tease her or to direct the conversation back to his own kidnapping case, Lisbon either sends him a preemptive look of death or the exhaustion in her eyes deters his attack altogether.
He doesn't even notice that he's becoming more attuned to her moods, to how she's feeling. His concern for her wellbeing overpowers any rumination and Jane finds that he does what comes most naturally to him, instinctively making sure Lisbon is okay.
Between that and the case, his coach's whereabouts retreat further and further to the back of his mind, to the point that when he walks into the office after getting closed case donuts and coffee for everyone after an all-nighter, he doesn't even notice that his couch has arrived until Rigsby points to it, powdered sugar on his nose.
Jane watches first as Van Pelt knowingly extends a napkin to an embarrassed Rigsby before averting his gaze to the place where his couch usually resides.
He's delighted to find the sofa there as if it never left. It doesn't look any different from far away, but up close he can see the leather looks brand new and the large tear in the cushion is gone; it also smells faintly of lemon, probably some sort of cleaning solution.
Jane sits down on it cautiously. Cho, Van Pelt, and Rigsby watch amusedly as he tests it out as if he's in a furniture store; he grimaces at first, realizing the thing he appreciated most about this couch before was how well worn it was, how it conformed to his body, reminding him of stability.
Despite the squeaking of leather beneath him, Jane pulls off his blazer and lies down, resuming his usual position for a few moments. At first it feels slightly weird, almost foreign and even though Elvis, the spot on the ceiling. is still at his eye level, and though the couch, after a few long minutes, finally feels worn in again-the old springs screeching as he moves around on it- something feels different.
The couch is perfect, the window brings in the same early morning sun rays, and the position he is in is ideal for napping, but Jane can't seem to shake the feeling that something isn't right, it just doesn't fit.
He moves around for a moment but realizes very quickly that his discomfort has nothing to do with the couch, instead as he catches sight of Lisbon disappearing into her office, he understands that the problem lies elsewhere.
Jane startles the agents crowded around the case-closed feast with his abrupt move from the couch and to the conference table, where he snatches two donuts and a cup of coffee from the platter, and barges into Lisbon's office without knocking.
Van Pelt watches amusedly, taking a sip of coffee as she catches Rigsby's eye,
"Five bucks says he still stays on boss's couch."
"No way," the taller agent exclaims, through a mouthful of doughy goodness, "Jane loves Elvis."
"Elvis?" Van Pelt raises her eyebrow, confusion marring her face, "I thought Elvis was the spot on the ceiling."
"It is," Cho cuts in, earmarking the page he's on, "but there's also Elvis, the couch." He clarifies and Van Pelt just looks at him blankly,
"Whoa, he couldn't have been more creative." She muses, then plucks a small glazed donut off the platter and returns to her desk, muttering something to herself about the lack of originality in men.
Lisbon doesn't bat an eyelash when she hears him come in, just continues reviewing the report in front of her, eyes not wavering as Jane places the donuts and coffee on her desk, teetering impatiently on his heels in front of her.
"Your couch arrived while you were out." Lisbon reminds him, swiping the bangs from her forehead.
Jane tries to ignore his spontaneous desire to do it for her,
"Yes, I see that it did. It's been reupholstered and cleaned. Lisbon I'm touched that you took the incentive to fix up Elvis for me."
Lisbon lets out a snort in spite herself, finally looks up. It's not very ladylike but for some reason Jane finds it incredibly cute and also secretly a little proud that she's so comfortable around him.
"Well now that he's back, you can resume your idling duties; give me some peace and quiet."
There's a teasing inflection in her remark and the corner of her mouth is upturned, but Jane still feigns ignorance,
"You don't mean that, do you? I thought we got on quite well as roommates. I've grown very fond of Rosita here."
"Rosita?" Lisbon raises a perfectly sculpted eyebrow at him, paperwork long forgotten. Jane nods and she sighs, "Well of course you'd name my sofa."
"To be named is to be acknowledged, and I am certain everyone wants to be acknowledged at some point."
"It's a couch, Jane." Lisbon says, then when there's no response, she stifles a yawn and clarifies, "a piece of furniture."
"So what if it's a piece of furniture?" Jane deadpans, interrupting her quick fantasy of snuggling deep into the covers of her bed, the plus mattress beneath her, and the sounds of silence…pure bliss after a hellish work schedule.
Lisbon opens her mouth to reply, but finds nothing to say and instead just rolls her eyes, "whatever you say, Jane."
She hopes to finish up as quickly as possible, but when Jane sits down on her sofa, crossing his legs and looking back at her from his comfortable spot, Lisbon knows he won't be leaving any time soon.
"I brought you some closed-case goodies." He gestures towards the spread on her desk and Lisbon nods in acknowledgement, "Yes you did. Thanks, but I probably shouldn't have any, sugar and caffeine are a sure way for me not to catch up on some sleep."
"Eh, nonsense, having one won't kill ya."
He's insistent and Lisbon raises an eyebrow again, sending him her customary suspicious stare, but reaching for the donut anyway.
"I suppose not." She admits, taking a tentative bite and placing it back on the plate, eager to return to her casework.
Jane is aware his presence may not be so much appreciated and he's also pretty certain that the brunette is wondering why he's still lounging on her couch when his has just arrived, a better and squeakier version, but still Elvis nonetheless.
To be perfectly frank, he's not so sure why he's still sitting in Lisbon's office either. Jane can't quite pinpoint what has changed, is perfectly convinced that while he was too busy scheming different ways to weasel information out of Bosco about Red John and being an overall nuisance, he let something slip passed him, but he isn't sure what it is.
She's still the same Lisbon, sure her hair is different now and she walks with slightly more authority, probably because the transfer of the Red John case toughened her up, reminded her that her career isn't bulletproof; however, she still rolls her eyes every time he does something stupid, and still hushes him when he says something inappropriate in front of a suspect or witness.
And at the end of the day, she's still the only one who can keep him in check, the sole reason he hasn't been kicked out of the bureau just yet. Maybe that's why he's here, because somewhere in between catching Red John and firing a weapon to save her life, Lisbon became more than just a colleague, a means to an end.
It's foreign to him, being unable to decipher his own mind. He's always been good at reading others that much is evident, but that same trait has not always extended to himself. So Jane does what he's good at, he deflects, in hopes that Lisbon's response will be a window into his own soul.
"I am curious though," He begins, studying his nails in a usual attempt to avoid her eyes for the moment. Lisbon is acutely aware that this is Jane's way of preparing his prey for his ultimate attack, so she places the document she's working on to the side.
Jane looks up, meeting her emerald gaze with a lighter, sea-colored look of his own, "why didn't you let me know you were going to have the couch reupholstered?"
"You mean aside from how much fun I had watching you try to wheedle the information out of me and then struggle to get comfortable on Rosita, here?" The smile on her face lights up her features and Jane can't help but notice.
"Ah, well you're quite the devil, aren't ya?"
"I learn from the best" Lisbon deadpans her smug expression momentarily startling Jane.
"What? Me? No, I do not purposefully deceive you." He counters but Lisbon just shoots him an incredulous stare, "oh really?" she asks, gives him a moment to rethink his position.
Jane remains silent, choosing instead to watch her as Lisbon prepares to fire, setting up an attack of her own.
"You want to know why I didn't extend the courtesy of informing you that I was having the couch fixed?"
"I most certainly do." He reaffirms. It only makes Lisbon frown slightly but she focuses all her attention on him, paperwork put away and donuts forgotten.
"I didn't tell you, because even after everything that's happened, Hardy, Bosco, Minelli reassigning the Red John case, you still refuse to play by the rules. Better yet, even after consistent reprimands you still hypnotized that suspect last week and guess what Jane, now his confession is inadmissible and he'll most likely walk. Do you know what that means? It means in all your good intention, you might have aided a serial rapist in escaping proper prosecution. So, I figure if you can't play by the rules, I won't either and since that couch is all you seem to care about, I thought what better way to remind you that you're not the only one capable of following your own protocol."
She never anticipated the rant, was not prepared to reveal the full extent of her motivation. Thus, by the time she finishes speaking, there's a faint blush on her cheeks and her heart seems to be beating out of her chest.
Jane sits frozen, still, a blond statue that's unmoving, aquamarine gaze trained on her, but revealing nothing as it takes in everything. She's reminded of a different conversation they had not too long ago, a dark basement, a botched plan, and her almost revealing something she hadn't realized herself at that point.
Now, Lisbon understands. It's as if all the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place. In revealing the superficial motivation behind a seemingly innocent, tongue in cheek prank, the deeper motive has reared its ugly head and Lisbon is uncertain she wants to confront it.
The last time she was this honest, he told her not to be angry. He also saved her life. The second thought hangs over her for a moment longer as she gauges Jane's expression.
He's quiet for some time, and Lisbon isn't sure what she's expecting. Will he simply get up and walk out of here? Will he psychoanalyze her until he uncovers what she has unearthed? The anticipation builds in her stomach and Lisbon almost wants to shake him for a response, but then something unlikely happens, something she would have never predicted.
Jane stands up, walks over, and perches himself on the edge of her desk. Lisbon has the urge to move away from him, but her innate sense of authority, that part of her that will forever remain defiant when challenged does not waver, instead she sits up straighter, eyes meeting his, ready for combat.
For a moment, she looks past him, her blinds are open and she catches sight of the shiny, leather couch in its usual spot. It's only when he touches her shoulder and murmurs her name that Lisbon swallows, suddenly wondering when this stopped being about a couch and started being about something else.
Damn Jane and his ability to make her reveal everything. The heat from his touch burns through two layers of clothing but the intense blue gaze trained on her sends cold shivers down her spine.
The duplicitous sensations threaten to undo her so she fixes him with a questioning stare and in turn receives an unexpected, heart-melting grin. The one that makes Jane's entire face soften, the creases around his eyes more pronounced but they only make them seem younger, more vibrant, the dichotomy in the man.
"Silly Lisbon," He murmurs again, but this time she hears it as if he were screaming it into her ear and a surge of anger jolts through her system. How dare he, she thinks, already pushing her chair back to stand up, but the hand on her shoulder stops her.
His touch is soft but stern. He will never belittle her, never treat her like a child, and make her sit down when she doesn't want to. Instead, his gesture implores her, asking her to remain seated rather than forcing her to do so.
"You really think I spent the last four days horribly uncomfortable in your office, because I wanted to know what you did with my couch?"
She looks at him as if it was the only logical explanation and Jane can't help but smile wider. He appreciates that she wants to see the good in people, that she doesn't try to read into every action like he does. After all this is the same person who once told him that not every murder is a secret inside of another secret, but god this woman can be ridiculously oblivious in the most inopportune moments.
"I'll give you a piece of advice. Next time you want to hide something like that from me, make sure the order receipt doesn't get mixed up with the case files on your desk."
Her eyes grow saucer-like with surprise, green with speckles of gold peering at him from beneath dark, long lashes, and he can't look away. He also can't stop grinning as her expression changes into one of usual annoyance and she swats his arm for the umpteenth time.
"You knew?" Lisbon exclaims, ready to kill him, "you knew this whole time?"
She can't quite believe it, but she shouldn't be so shocked. She wagered a game against the master, she should be glad she's emerged relatively unscathed. The smile that morphs on her lips is involuntary, so is the slight relaxation in her posture.
"I should've known," She sighs, and for a moment Jane almost rolls his eyes, as her eyes yield no recognition of what she should really be focusing on. But then, she turns to look at him again, eyebrow arching in that perfectly adorable way as she eyes him suspiciously,
"So why'd you torment yourself for so long on my "horribly uncomfortable" couch then?"
"Well," He moves his hand from her shoulder and they both try to pretend not to be disappointed, "let's just say, Elvis the couch, is not the only thing I care about."
He doesn't wait for her reaction, doesn't think he's ready to face the ramifications of what he's just said, what he's invariably admitted. So he stands abruptly, startling them both by grabbing a donut off the table and walking towards the door.
He should walk out, not look back, because later it will be easier to chalk this up to a lapse in judgment, a slip of tongue if he doesn't turn around, but he can't. He needs to know, needs to see her face, so Jane looks over his shoulder and finds Lisbon staring at him, a slight deer caught in headlights expression that she tries hard to conceal.
And then she smiles at him, and for the first time in a while Jane doesn't know what to make of it, but she's not yelling or threatening him or calling him a jerk for leading her on for the last couple days, so a part of him is at peace,
"Get some sleep today, you look way too exhausted."
"Thanks," Lisbon replies dryly, trying hard to conceal the shock she's just sustained.
She isn't sure what to make of his confession and she's also a little glad that Jane's perceptive enough to give her space right now, but she's also grateful for the resilience in their interaction.
How they don't let the weight of anything interfere with their playful banter.
"Do I look that bad?" she murmurs, not really expecting an answer, but Jane gives her one anyway,
"God no," he says, a little too quickly, a little too earnestly, his eyes roaming over her a little too unabashedly, and they both realize he needs to walk away now, before the tight spring of control snaps between them.
And although Lisbon is kind of itching to find out what comes after this, thirsting with curiosity, she knows neither of them is ready for the next step.
There are so many things beyond this room, beyond the tension bubbling between them, and they have to be careful, so she just shakes her head at him a little and looks down at her desk again, picking up the report she was looking at, if just for show.
Jane takes that as a hint to leave and finally pushes the office door open.
The floor is awake by now, people coming in for an early day or getting ready to leave after an all-nighter like the Serious Crimes unit, and though he'd welcome the commotion on any other day, right now he's never found the noise more off-putting.
Regardless, Jane makes his way into the bullpen and slides down on his refurbished couch, fidgeting for a moment but ultimately relaxing, fatigue sinking in as his body reminds him he's spent the last twenty four hours chasing leads.
Lisbon smiles as she watches him through the blinds.
She should be angry, should be pissed as hell that he outsmarted her yet again, but instead her heart feels a bit lighter and there's a feeling of warmth that she's only now getting used to. Her thoughts refuse to focus on how she's been duped. Instead all that she can concentrate on, the only thing that makes her feel like a giddy 15 year old, is that Jane spent four days uncomfortable as hell on a couch way too small for him.
And although she figures Jane probably didn't learn much about breaking the rules, and she invariably lost this particular game with him, she's gained so much more.
"…the couch is not the only thing I care about."
And that's a loss that she can definitely live with.