Seek, and Ye Shall Find

Disclaimer: Don't own anything…lyrics by Imogen Heap.

Rating: T (language)

Spoiler: His Right Red Hand

Prompt: Jane walks in on Lisbon & Bosco having a heated argument.

A/N: So this is another present for Frogster for the Secret Santa! I hope everyone enjoys this one and likes my approach to it. For those of you who are wondering, an update for RTRL is in the works, and will be up shortly. Meanwhile, enjoy and this is of course dedicated to Shelli, for her wonderful, creative prompts that had me writing obsessively for days!

***

"Oily marks appear on walls
where pleasure moments hung before the takeover,
the sweeping insensitivity of this still life…"

***

The empty, cardboard box feels heavy in her grasp as she stands in the doorway, eyes cautiously surveying the room.

Everything remains as it was before the crime scene cleaning crew arrived.

Nothing has been removed aside from blood spatter and evidence. The scene appears like a still life, undisturbed, and a shiver runs through her spine as she shuts her eyes to will away the memories of what took place here just a week ago.

Has it really been a mere seven days, she wonders, but doesn't let herself think about it too much. After all, she's done a pretty good job composing herself thus far and despite the few tears she shed in that hospital room, she's been alright. There seems to be no reason for her to break down now, give into this heavy weight on her chest and the prickling of tears beneath her eyelids.

For, if she does give in, lets herself waver just a little bit, it will be too late for self control and now there's no one to catch her if she falls, so it seems too dangerous to step over the ledge.

Instead, she keeps it together and has done a flawless job. There's little she can say to encourage her team, but she knows they're grateful for everything she's done and it is most definitely reciprocated.

Almost immediately after it happened, as she washed Sam's blood off her clothes, she made herself a promise.

She would watch over her team more, she would protect them with all her might; she would fight to prevent anything of the sort happening to any of them. If she can help it, none of them would ever be wheeled out anywhere on a stretcher or in a body bag.

No, she wouldn't allow that.

That thought alone kept her going for much of the week, through the perfunctory motions, closing the case, saying good bye to Sam, the funeral, the solemn vigil her team kept afterwards.

She holds her head high, a tight, regretful smile stretching her dry lips, and the thought that she needs to keep her morale up for them, prevents her from falling.

But it seems that Minelli's resignation has struck a chord in her, has cemented a reality she does not want to face; the cruel and utterly devastating realization that she really has no one now.

No one to watch over her, no one to give her a stern reprimand for letting Jane get away with his crazy antics, no one to berate her for having a lack of social life.

Momentarily she thinks about the consultant, remembering his version of Sam's words, those that echo in her mind with a small sense of fallacy in them.

She's not as clairvoyant as Jane, isn't really much of a people person, but she's worked with him for long enough to pick up on his mannerisms too and the moment he told her what Sam said, she knew it was a lie, or some fabricated version of the truth.

She didn't pry then and she won't now, because in her mind, it doesn't matter. What Sam said doesn't hold any weight now, especially with Jane, because Sam is gone, Minelli is gone, and she's left bitter and resentful, but most of all exposed, without a shield.

The thought that she has no cover now, nothing to hide behind, makes her nauseous so she moves quickly, impulsively, finds herself at Sam's desk.

She thinks she can distract herself by taking care of the mundane necessities, cleaning out Sam's personal items, knowing no one else is up to the task. Yet being here, in Sam's personal space, seeing the little touches such as the picture of his family next to the computer, it all becomes too much, too unbearable.

The first tear slips down her cheek unwelcomed. She ignores it, ignores the sting, and the blurred vision, begins to do the job she came here for.

She can mourn all she wants, but the world will not stop moving and if she doesn't collect Sam's things now, she'll never be able to, and no one else has the courage to.

So like the reliable shield that she is, Lisbon carefully begins to transfer items from the desk to the box. At some point, her vision becomes so blurred she doesn't even realize what she's collecting, everything becomes one big haze; imperceptible items haphazardly thrown into the box, no desire to see what she's putting away, what memories she's erasing.

Her hands shake as she works, tears fall without reprieve and yet she thinks if someone were to pass by the office, see her here, they wouldn't halt, wouldn't bat an eyelash.

She looks the picture of composure. The slight tremor in her wrist and the sheet of wetness on her cheeks are indiscernible from afar. It's quite ironic, she thinks, for most of her life she's been walking the thin line between a complete breakdown and composure.

She kept her cool while on the inside she was screaming and she thinks for the umpteenth time about the things she said to Carmen to trap him.

They weren't lies.

They were truths. Truths she bundled up and concealed in the various compartments of her heart, keeping a calm exterior while on the inside she's burning, reeling, itching to break down, but never letting herself.

Her whole life there have always reasons not to let go, always others to consider.

First her brothers, then her burgeoning career, and now…now letting go seems fruitless, seems like it would only devastate her more.

There's no catharsis in tears anymore. The thought makes her shiver; she stops for a moment, rubbing her arms through the button down she's wearing.

The action affords her a moment of reprieve and she takes a deep breath, blinks back tears so her vision is clear again. Everything comes into focus, as she tries hard not to envision Sam sitting behind his desk, a small smile as he greets Rebecca only to be met with a gun, a menacing stare, and the last vestiges of consciousness.

She tries to push the image from her mind, particularly the moment she entered Bosco's office only to find him barely conscious on the floor, blood everywhere. The possibility that Sam could die broke through all her barriers, awoke all her senses, made her keenly aware of just how delicate life really is, how close they all are to danger each and every day.

The only upside, perhaps a bit depressing, but something she finds minor solace in is that while Bosco left behind a grieving widow and two kids, she will leave behind no one. She's certain her brothers will be heartbroken, of course, but they would eventually move on, they've lived apart for years, have established their own worlds, those that consist of significant others, babies, careers, lives that she no longer fits into except for the occasional phone call and reminiscing dinner as they pass through town.

At least, her passing wouldn't cut anyone quite as deeply as Sam's death is cutting her, leaving her more vulnerable than she would like to admit.

It's also left her to contemplate what she truly felt for the man who became a great friend to her, not just a mentor. She's not certain if she was ever in love with him, perhaps if it were different circumstances, she'd let herself indulge in the fantasy, but she's certain that her feelings for him were strong.

Lisbon cared for him deeply, far more than she ever realized.

Now though, it seems useless to think about this, entertain these frivolous thoughts about a man whose funeral she left just hours ago.

It still haunts her that moments before he died, Sam chose to tell her he loved her. He didn't tell her to relay the same message to his wife or his kids and the weight of that is something she cannot carry, refuses to confront.

That seems to be way too much for her to think about sober or ever, so Lisbon takes another steadying breath and lowers herself into the chair, determined to finish the task in hand before self-destructive thoughts completely consume her.

Unfortunately, she's not prepared for what she finds when she opens the bottom desk drawer.

She jerks her hand away from the handle as if it were burned, her eyes blinking rapidly now, not to stave off impending tears but to double check that she's not envisioning something that's not there.

But no matter how many times she shuts her eyes and reopens them again, the object is still there and with trembling hands she reaches into the drawer and pulls out the picture frame, coming face to face with her younger self.

She remembers where the photo was taken.

Golden Gate Park.

Her first annual police picnic.

Mandy insisting that she and Sam pose for a picture.

"Mentor and student!" the blonde had exclaimed before snapping a picture of them delicately embracing.

She remembers vividly how Sam's arm wrapped carefully around her waist and her curling into him just slightly, just long enough for his wife to click her camera.

She made copies for them both and her heart twists painfully when she realizes she doesn't even know where that photograph is now, whereas Sam apparently kept it close by. She holds it in her hands, hard edges pressing uncomfortably into her palms, but she welcomes the sensation, feels like she deserves the discomfort for what's happened.

Her eyes close momentarily and she inadvertently remembers the last conversation she had with Sam.

He came into her office, a shot of tequila for them both, an old tradition warming her from the first sip of the burning liquid. He stayed long after that, talking about nothing and everything, not exactly reminiscing, but not exactly wavering from the discussion of their past.

She'd asked him for the first time how everyone was doing at the old precinct and he told her brief anecdotes about each old colleague and where life has taken them.

Then, before he was set to leave, she asked him one question, just an innocent inquiry, but damn her curiosity.

"Sam, why did you decide to come back to the CBI, they treated you like god at the SFPD, why did you transfer?"

It was something she'd wondered about for weeks, but never found the time or place to ask.

Now, she wishes she never had, because she'll never forget his response, never forget its implication or what it means to her now.

She'll never forget how he looked at her either,

"CBI is home, besides you were here, how could I ever stay away?"

There was mirth in his tone then, a mischievous glint in his dark green gaze. She'd rolled her eyes at him, even playfully nudged his shoulder in response, but even then, beneath the surface, beneath the joking and lighthearted atmosphere, she felt an inkling of something.

A sense of dread perhaps, knowing this man may still harbor feelings, may actually be serious about being here because of her.

But it was a brief moment; a mere interlude in her thoughts, one she paid no attention to, at least not until now. Now, now after his confession to her at the hospital, after the recent turn of events, a surge of anger laced with guilt assaults her full force, knocking her back, shaking her, making her feel lightheaded, nauseous, and then strangely imbued with adrenaline.

She sets the photo down on the desk, feeling suddenly clear-minded and impossibly indignant.

"You couldn't stay away, could you?" she murmurs, teeth gritting as her palms ball into fists.

She doesn't expect to feel so much emotion, has forced herself into submission, subverting her feelings to retain composure, some form of propriety as they buried her longtime friend, as they sounded salutes and watched his casket being lowered.

But now, when there's no one, she finds no reason to stay strong, her team has dispersed, there's no one in this building besides the janitor and the quietude does nothing to calm her frayed nerves.

She stares at the photo, wants to break it, shatter it, anything to rip apart the two people hugging in it, just like life has so tragically done, taking Sam away from his family, and why?

For her?

It should have been a stupid joke; he couldn't have been serious about coming back to the CBI for her. But in her gut, Lisbon knows she can't deny it, she can't put something like this away. God, even Jane noticed it and who is he to be wrong? The observant one, who's almost always right, knew Bosco for only a few weeks, before realizing something Lisbon tried to conceal for almost a decade.

Sam had been in love with her.

He'd come back to the CBI for her, and if he hadn't, he wouldn't have died in a shower of bullets courtesy of Red John's latest conquest.

The thought leaves her positively livid.

Inadvertently, she's responsible for his death. Rebecca pulled the trigger, but if Sam had never come back, if he didn't take on the Red John case, it wouldn't be him six feet under right now.

She shudders to think about the alternative, doesn't want to know who would be in his place, if perhaps it would be her and her team, but she'll never know for certain.

What she does know is that Sam is dead now and she is in some way to blame, of course so is he. He should have never come back here, should have never entertained his curiosity, should have stayed away.

"You shouldn't have come back," She raises her voice, the ache inside rattles her, makes her want to scream out, beat her fists, stomp her feet, demand that Bosco undo what he did, take back the transfer, take back everything.

She wants to go back to three months ago, when the biggest problem in her life was the blond consultant who refused to follow rules. She yearns for the days when Jane's antics landed her in Minelli's office, when she would be so irritated with him, she'd kick the couch he was sleeping on to wake him up, just to show him a little defiance, challenge him, remind him she's still a force to be reckoned with.

Now, she's not so sure.

She's been reduced to a weeping, shuddering mess, hair plastered to her face, stuck to the sticky tear marks on her cheeks, and her entire frame is shaking, as she paces in front of the photo, trying hard to avoid looking at it.

She thinks she must look like a mad woman, no longer the epitome of composure, but she just doesn't care.

Fuck propriety, fuck what others think, she holds no accountability for her actions, emotions taking over, anger feeding her as she looks at Sam's smiling face.

Seven years younger, but the wisdom and the apparent affection on his face are still there.

"How stupid were you, hmm?" she says, eyes trained on the photograph, tunnel vision as everything else disappears.

She imagines Sam standing in front of her, alive, breathing, still breathing and she envisioned what she would say to him if he could hear her, if he wasn't just a freeze frame, but tangible, something she could hold on to.

"Goddamn it, Sam, you had everything. Your wife, your kids, fool proof career, why did you have to come back? Why was it so important that you see me? I'm fine okay, I was fine. I didn't need you to watch over me? I didn't need-…"

She doesn't realize how quickly her words turn into shouts, her throat straining to get the sounds out, reaching to an abyss, talking to a ghost. There's never going to be a response, she's not expecting one, but she wishes someone would hear her, wishes Sam could heed her words, understand…

"I can't believe you were so foolish. I wasn't worth you coming back here, I wasn't worth losing your life over, god…"

Her voice cracks just a bit and she sinks in the chair, still feeling insurmountable rage, but internal, drained otherwise, guilt and shame overpowering that natural fire as she heaves her torso over the desk, hands grazing the frame as she tries to swallow back the tears.

Without her reprimands, the silence in the office becomes overbearing, falls on her like a heavy realization of what her life's been reduced to.

Empty rooms, empty words, no one to listen, no one who truly cares…

Sam is gone…Minelli's gone…and there's silence.

She never thought she needed anyone, always told herself she was just fine on her own, didn't need comfort or human touch, nothing, just herself and her perseverance. After all, those were the things one could rely on…and now when she craves all those other things, when she needs someone to be on the other side, to listen to her, to absorb the shock of everything, there's no one…

She's alone…and responsible somehow for the death of a man who seemed to love her…

That thought alone feels like the final straw and this time when her tears escape shut eyelids, she doesn't fight, has no vigor. She lets the sobs that wreck her body take over, and she loses herself in these gut wrenching feelings of guilt, anger, shame, and grief so much so that when a tentative touch falls on her shoulder, gentle fingers stroking her back, she doesn't realize right away that she's not alone.

In fact, she doesn't realize much of anything, doesn't comprehend that someone is besides her, until she feels arms wrapping around, a warm chest pressing against her side.

Finally, when she feels the steady rhythm of another heartbeat against her ear, it wakes her up, alerts her to the presence of another individual and just like that, she's somehow back to her old self, her body tenses up but in a familiar, composed way and she quickly wipes the tears away.

This isn't who she is, damn it, she's not a sobbing, destructive woman. She's a Senior Agent at CBI, she's the older sister of a doctor, a lawyer, and a veterinarian, but most of all, she's never the one who's in need of comfort, but rather the pillar that holds others. So it's time to wake up from this self indulgent reprieve.

She quickly wipes away any evidence of distress and looks up, only to be met with worry filled blue eyes, eyes that usually wink playfully at her. It seems somehow wrong that there's so much unabashed concern in them now.

She looks at Jane for a long time, at first slightly embarrassed that he's found her in such a vulnerable position and that she had her guard down enough that he was able to embrace her, but she can't deny a sense of relief that she's not alone, that despite the empty words spoken to a ghost, she's no longer alone with her thoughts.

She gives Jane a small smile, grateful for the distraction,

"I thought you'd left." She murmurs and turns her back to him, prepared to clean out the rest of the items in the drawer, but the soft grasp on her shoulder returns, this time more forcefully luring her back to look at him.

"Please don't pretend to be okay."

His soft voice, his touch, and the imploring look in his eyes threaten to undo her, but Lisbon remains strong, despite Jane's surprisingly earnest plea.

"I am okay." she counters, picking up the photograph to put it in the box, but Jane once again interrupts her movements, extracting the frame from her hands, giving the two people in the picture a wistful smile,

"I knew it." He says fondly, "you do look lovely with short hair."

Lisbon runs a hand through her locks self consciously, brushing her bangs out of her face, before snatching the photo away from him none too gently, this time succeeding in putting it away.

Fortunately, the box is now full and it gives her an excuse to leave, she stands up, picking up the heavy cardboard but she doesn't get very far, before Jane stops her at the conference table, coaxing the box from her hands and putting his hands on her shoulders.

He's not sure if she's just too drained to fight him or just doesn't care anymore, because she stops willingly, avoiding his glance, but nonetheless compliant.

"I can't let you think this is your fault." He says assertively.

"What?" She spits out, afraid to say anymore for fear she won't be able to control her tears any longer.

"I will not let you delude yourself into taking responsibility for something that is entirely my fault, my doing." His words penetrate her, sending a shiver down her spine when she looks into those troubled eyes again. Suddenly, she's overcome with the level of pain this man holds inside of himself. He lets her see bits of it from time to time, but now when he's so set on consoling her, he doesn't seem to be so on guard with his own feelings.

She knows guilt now though.

Understands at least a fraction of how he must feel.

Losing his family because of something he did, like she lost Sam, because he couldn't stay away from her.

There's no reason to deny it now, she knows he's heard her rant, an incoherent cacophony of sounds spewed at an old photograph, triggered by something she'd tried so hard to repress for so long, only to have it thrown back at her.

And something else hits her too, something she hadn't considered before. Jane could have walked right past the office and not come in.

He could have walked away, shirked responsibility like he often does after any damage he's caused, but he didn't.

He stayed.

He came in here, shook her awake, and is forcing her to talk, to spar with him yet again.

She's not sure what this means.

Is keenly aware that this could be nothing, could just be her own mind trying to make something out of a minor effort, but the feeling of comfort seeping into her cold bones is not negligible so she doesn't fight him.

Doesn't try to mask what she really feels.

"It is my fault." She counters, breaking away from him only to step deeper into the room, leaning against the desk, facing the couch, away from where Sam was shot, "you were right."

She adds, a trace of irony in her tone, a bitter after taste. She yearns to wash it down with something strong, something that will make her forget.

Jane watches her like a hawk, trying to gauge her state of mind, knows that she's teetering on the edge, catching herself every time she may falter, keeping it together by a thin thread.

"Right about what?" He clears his throat, certain he knows what she's referring to, but needs to hear it from her lips, if only to tell her how wrong she is.

"Sam was in love with me, and that love got him killed."

The illogic in her statement doesn't reach her ears, but it reaches Jane and he tries to quell his irritation, his innate desire to shake the thoughts out of her, make her see that she's no more responsible for Bosco's death, than she is for his feelings for her.

Of course, Sam loved her, Jane could see it in his eyes every time the detective was near Lisbon, and Jane couldn't blame him, still can't.

"He may have loved you, Lisbon, but you are in no way responsible for his death. Red John used Bosco to get to me. He infiltrated CBI to make it personal, because he wants me on his case."

"Exactly," Lisbon exclaims, her voice slightly hitching again, the fire returning to her eyes, but the sight is not welcome to him. Jane thinks her energy is charged by a false belief, a schema that needs to be dispelled.

"If Sam hadn't been here to take the case, he wouldn't be dead now and I'm the reason he came back. I am." She points to herself, shoving a slender finger against her chest, as she stares at him with luminous eyes, wild from the realization, but also begging him to challenge her, which he does.

He takes a few steps forward, trying hard not to notice how she flinches as he bridges the proximity between them, and places his hands delicately on her shoulders, not daring to touch her face just yet. Although the yearning to brush loose strands of hair and wipe away the tears becomes more and more unbearable the more time he spends in here with her.

"It may be so, Lisbon. However, the sole reason why Red John even did what he did is to get to me, so if it wasn't Bosco, it'd be someone else-…"

"But it was, Jane. It was Sam and I-…"

This time she doesn't even finish the sentence, just gives up halfway, train of thought lost as she's too exhausted to even think anymore. She bows her head down, refusing to meet his gaze and Jane can no longer resist pulling her body flush against his.

Surprisingly, she lets him, forehead resting against his chest, cheek pressed against the elegant buttons on his dark gray vest. His attire has always intrigued her, but she's been too afraid to ask why he chooses this particular style as his armor.

Now, it seems clearer. It's safer to hide behind an elegant uniform, a pristine cover so no one will ask questions.

Without thinking, she reaches out and twists one of the buttons, her fingers inadvertently brushing against the soft fabric of his vest, making her aware of how close she is to another human being, Jane no less.

The thought should terrify her or at least make her uncomfortable, but it doesn't.

Instead, she feels a strange sense of calm she hasn't felt in a while. At first, she thinks Jane has hypnotized her without her awareness, but the way he holds her, his arms keeping her in place, body unconsciously pinning her to the desk behind her, it all holds too much honesty and intimacy for it to be hidden beneath a veil of falsehood.

She's never found human touch to be too comforting, growing up in a family where from the age of twelve hugs were sparse and usually any human contact involved shielding her brothers from their father's belt. Yet this particular embrace instills in her something therapeutic, her limbs growing heavy, lethargic.

She even feels her breathing lowered, her heart rate returning to its normal pace.

She's so relaxed by this point; the whispered words come as a shock, her body reacting to the warm breath tickling her ear as she tries to take in what he says seemingly in one breath.

"I know I can be quite the thorn in your side, but I am asking, no imploring you not to think that Sam's death was your fault. Red John killed Bosco and his team for my benefit, the guilt should rest squarely on my shoulders, not yours. So please, I know you've done a lot for me, but do this one thing and please do not blame yourself."

Each hushed whisper is distinct; words enunciated perfectly, a beat into her brain, driving the point home. She tries to fight against the reason in his words, tries to stay in her deluded preconceived notion, which is no match for Jane's soothing pleas.

She doesn't want him to be right, because that would mean admitting that this was his fault and despite the pain she feels, she can't begin to imagine how deep the guilt goes for Jane.

Sometime during the week, she happened upon the transcript of his interview with Rebecca. She remembers how her heart constricted as she read the words, trying not to think of how much this was hurting Jane. More blood on his hands, Red John's gift to him, three lives taken away without much thought, so Jane can return to his path of vengeance.

This notion makes her weak, nauseous as she tries to understand the kind of monster this vicious man is, to take away lives for no other reason but to taunt another.

Somehow, her own guilt doesn't hold much weight against the one she's certain the man besides her struggles with on a daily basis. So almost without thinking, she lifts her arms from her sides and wraps them around Jane's waist, pulling him impossibly closer, hoping for the first time that she can pour comfort into him.

Jane tightens his hold on her in response, wrapping his arms around her petite, warm frame, as she stays glued to him. He feels a tug on his heart when he realizes she's probably moved past her own feelings to comfort him.

It's just who she is.

His Lisbon: selfless, a natural at comforting others, but amateur in understanding her own pain.

When he first caught a glimpse of her in Sam's office, he thought of nothing else, no other alternative, but to walk in here and remind her that she's not alone. The words he heard her say, the shouts directed at a photograph felt like a thousand knives stabbing him all over his body.

He could come to terms with his own guilt, already committed to the fact that he had three more murders to avenge whenever he came head to head with Red John, but he cannot handle knowing Lisbon, the same person who stuck her neck out for him, defending him against her superiors time and again, could ever believe she was responsible for something that was entirely his fault.

So he holds her now, trying to soothe her with his touch, where he knows his words have failed. She's not the touchy feely type, he knows that good and well, but that doesn't mean she doesn't crave it, doesn't desire the feeling of being physically shielded by someone, welcoming, strong, absorbing any doubt, any pain she may have.

He feels this is little repayment for everything she's done, but he hopes it's enough for now. Her body is relaxed, and he finds himself rubbing soft circles on her back, trying to focus on making her feel better instead of the way she makes him feel, the way she's inadvertently giving him something he never thought he needed.

The instinctive tranquility that comes from a female's touch, from the presence of another woman's body besides his, something he thought he could do without. He thought his wedding band a worthy replacement, a reminder that he no longer deserves to feel good, to crave human contact.

Alas, his mind may trick him into thinking he doesn't need this, that this is solely for Lisbon's benefit, but as soon as she lifts her head, gleaming jade eyes looking up at him beneath hooded lashes, he can't deny his body's reaction, the stirring inside him that feels so out of place, yet so good.

He catches a glint of something, perhaps understanding in her gaze, and for a split second he wonders how they got here. How everything has been turned on its axis, how a simple touch on her shoulder, pleading words, have sparked a desire to hold this woman closer, help her in any way he can, help dispel her erroneous beliefs, remind her how amazing she is.

He watches her for a moment, but she doesn't waver, doesn't turn away from his gaze, or duck down, blushing as she usually would when he looks at her directly.

So he reaches out slowly, for the first time unsure of himself, and allows the pad of his thumb to brush across her cheek bone, losing himself in the soft sigh that escapes her lips and the smoothness of her skin.

The effortless contact, that tentative way he moves his fingers across her face send shivers down her spine, but these sensations don't breed anxiety, these gentle tugs on her nerve endings, these little sparks that seem to move through her entire body are welcomed, desired.

And when Jane leans in just that much closer, his breath tickling her cheeks, she gives him an imperceptible nod. Neither is certain whether this is her silent reply to his earlier request or if she's just given him permission for the inevitable.

Regardless, caught in this moment, his will power seems no match for his longing, so he moves just an inch and her lips find their path to his mouth effortlessly.

It's not explosive like in the movies, there are no fireworks or sparks flying, but there's a stirring inside him and it holds him in this embrace, reawakening nerves, triggering sensations he thought himself no longer capable of feeling.

Her lips are impossibly soft, her mouth is hot and wet, and when her tongue traces his bottom lip, he has to physically restraint himself from groaning. Instead he settles one hand on her hip, the other in her hair, and lifts her gently until she's sitting on the surface behind her, thighs spreading on their own accord to let him in.

For the first time, her mind is completely blank, she's not thinking, not ruminating on anything, instead she's feeling. Her senses are alive, thriving, the slow burn in her belly escalating until she feels the flame consume her, the fire not scalding but soothing her, forcing her to recognize that she craves this, needs this, has found a source of comfort that fits impossibly well.

For a moment, she almost forgets who she's kissing, the reality seems too much to bear, but when she hears his sharp intake of breath and feels him push her back onto the desk, her eyes fly open and she pulls back slightly.

There, in the dim light of the room, she sees something uncanny, something that sends a distinct and very unfamiliar feeling of pleasure through her reawakened nerves.

Jane stands in front of her, still trapped by her thighs, breathing heavily, his usually calculating blue eyes, a dark cobalt shade, wild, and lust filled, the desire seeping from them.

She blinks then, resting her hands on his chest, feelings the beat of his heart, comforting but frantic. Although she never breaks eye contact, she can't be sure exactly when his eyes return to normal, when his gaze is no longer feral, exposed, telling the truth.

She's also not sure if she's ready to face that, face the possibility that this might be more than just a lapse in judgment, because it isn't, it can't be.

Kisses so powerful, an embrace that feels so right can never be just an accident and looking at him now, even when he steps out of her hold, Lisbon knows Jane is thinking the same.

It's unusual that she could read him so well, but for once he seems like an open book, a rare opportunity for her to gloat. But she just bites her lip and gingerly slides off the desk, shoulders almost bowed in shame that she let herself indulge in a moment of pleasure near a box of a dead man's belongings.

"That was-…"

"I know."

She's not sure why she cuts him off, but she's certain she doesn't want to hear the multitude of reasons why this would be the worst possible timing, why it wouldn't be wise to ever contemplate going beyond this.

And yet, she knows she will not make the same mistake twice. She will not try to bury feelings for the second time around. She knows there're things to sort out, issues to work through, for both of them, but she vows silently that she will not wait to figure all of it out until it's too late.

They stay like that for a long time, not exactly touching, but still close enough that if someone walked in, it would be inappropriate.

He wants to offer to take her home, but one look at her vacant expression, not even a hint of blush on her usually rosy cheeks after the intimate moment between them, overwhelms any desire for him to be courteous.

He may never have her completely, but hell if he doesn't want her close by, near him, doesn't want to let her out of his sight ever again, to make sure she never thinks those hateful thoughts about herself, misplaced guilt and overactive imagination.

She's hurt, he knows that, and all he wants to do is shield her from it, keep the demons at bay, try anything he can to rectify a mistake that he can't ever take back. Yet, when he reaches up to brush a strand of hair from her face, his wedding band shines in the moonlight and he knows that she sees it too.

A symbol of love and devotion that stands between them, reminding them both that reality isn't as sweet or comforting as the kiss they just shared.

Reality sinks in so harshly, so abruptly, she almost doesn't remember what his lips tasted like…almost.

"Why don't I make us some tea and you can tell me some embarrassing stories about your days as a rookie?"

And just like that, with a simple suggestion, Lisbon feels the world slowly tilting back to its axis. Somehow, Jane has managed to restore the normalcy between them and though she's comforted by how resilient their relationship is, she can't deny the sense of loss she feels as he moves away from her completely, a rush of cold air as he breaks all the contact between them.

She contemplates his suggestion, her eyes on the box sitting on the conference table, reminding her of what she's left unfinished; however, Jane immediately senses her hesitation.

"Just one cup of tea, and then you can finish what you started." His voice is coaxing, gentle, sounding impossibly inviting and when he extends his hand, she feels herself unable to deny his request and takes it.

His skin is warm, the grasp is strong, and it feels like a shield around her body, like nothing can hurt her as long as she's holding onto this man.

It's a lie of course.

Se knows what the future can hold, knows that perhaps some day soon, she could be putting handcuffs on the very same hands that guide her now, that promise her reprieve from the hell she's been put through. Even though that thought alone leaves her more cold and afraid than she's been these last few days, she puts it out of her mind, because for once, she refuses to think about what can happen.

She also vows to stop hating herself for the mistakes she's made in the past.

She's not sure she'll ever be able to get rid of this feeling of guilt and shame that threatens to drown her every time she thinks about Sam, but for now, she realizes she's most tired of thinking too much, rationalizing every action, trying to think of reasons not to do what she wants most.

So somewhere in the hallway, she stops and pulls at Jane's hand.

Jane stops with her, giving her a quizzical stare, but she doesn't think, she just reacts, cupping his face in her palm and pushing his face down for another kiss.

This one is not as soft or tentative as the other was. There's no need to be careful or modest, she already knows what he likes and even though she stuns him with her action, he returns her kiss with equal fervor, lets her push him into the opposing wall, her small body pinning him as her hands grasp at his vest.

And just like that, Lisbon breaks the kiss, chest heaving as she tries to catch her breath. This time her eyes do not communicate surprise or bewilderment, instead she looks at him with purpose and before Jane can comprehend what has just occurred, she speaks,

"I tried to hide from the truth for years and look where it got me. I am not making the same mistake twice, Jane. So just know that you can push as hard as you want, but I'm not going anywhere. I'll be here until I can't be anymore, okay?"

She stares at him, waiting for an answer, and although he wants so badly to ask her what her breaking point will be, he doesn't, partly because it's not the right time, and partly because he's afraid of her answer.

He knows although she's inadvertently done something extremely out of character tonight, she still lives by the badge, still lives on the right side of the law, so he doesn't need confirmation.

Knows their previous difference of opinion still stands, and it's strangely comforting to know that not everything between them has changed, that some things will inevitably stay the same.

He still has his Lisbon, still with her principles, her stern gaze, and irritated scowl.

For the first time in days, he lets a genuine smile slip passed his cold façade. He simply nods in return, knows that she understands the feeling is mutual, knows he's not going anywhere eight, will keep her close by for as long as he can.

"Now," She says, smile reciprocated, "you said something about tea?"

"Yeah, I'm going to wean you off caffeine slowly." He says with a wink and she lets out a snicker in disbelief, "that's highly unlikely, but you can try."

"I will." Jane replies, his tone slightly insinuating as he guides her to the break room.

She walks just a little ahead of him, but his presence behind her, not exactly touching her, but close enough to feel his breath on her neck, gives her a sense of unprecedented comfort.

She knows there may never be more between them than there is now.

She knows some mistakes, some actions can never be undone, knows eventually she'll have to lament properly, acknowledge what has happened in a healthy way, mourn like she's used to, being very well acquainted with the grieving process.

But for now, all she wants to think about is the trace of Jane's lips on hers, the comforting way he held her, and the promise she made to him, because those are the truths purely reserved for her, untainted by the rest of the world.

She'll hold onto this moment for as long as she can.

Because without hope, without the little moments to indulge in, the weight of the world could easily crush her, take the remnants of life out of her, but she won't let that happen.

She might be barely holding on, extremely damaged, ripped at the seams, but as the man in front of her has proven, she's still capable of feeling, still capable of breathing, which means she still has life inside her, still has vitality in her.

A battle has been lost, but there's a war yet to be won and now that she's chosen her ally, she knows where she stands.

And she's not done fighting yet.

***