Disquiet, horror and perturbation follows...
A/N: A secret santa gift for Yana (aka Yaba) over at jello-forever. The request was to basically write from the season finale to the premiere. Title is from Much Ado About Nothing (in case anyone's interested), perhaps not entirely appropriate, but close enough, and I like the phrase. This is my attempt at resolving the season finale with the season premiere as requested. The fic runs from the last scene of the finale to the end of the second episode of the season. I hope I was successful. It was harder to do than I was expecting. Focus on Jane and Lisbon, with a bit of Minnelli and the odd hint of the team.
As always, I don't own anything
No one who's ever worked in or alongside law enforcement ever doubts the old adage, "In a split second everything can change."
A split second is about as much time as it takes for a gun to fire, and anyone who's job is to keep the peace has seen a single gunshot change far too much far too many times.
They were cordoning off the crime scene. Things were done, wrapped up. And although the conclusion certainly hadn't been ideal in the minds of everyone concerned, Lisbon was perfectly happy with how things had turned out. She was alive, Jane was alive, her team was alive. Maya Plaskett was alive, and although she certainly wasn't well, at least she was breathing. And because of it Lisbon wouldn't have to tell the young woman's family that they'd arrived too late to save their daughter. They even had a link to Red John in Sherriff Hardy, or whatever his real name was. Jane was upset about that of course, well, not about the potential lead, but about losing Red John. But... Jane would just have to learn to deal with it. Lisbon didn't have the luxury of living for a semi-suicidal revenge fantasy. And who knows what Hardy could tell them. He just might be the missing piece they'd been waiting for. It was possible.
She walked over to talk to one of the local deputies. She knew there was no point in talking to Jane anymore tonight. The lunatic was still completely beyond reason. She scoffed internally. Imagine thinking she'd let him sacrifice himself that easily, that she'd really let him go into a house alone when Red John was expected, especially knowing her consultant's murderous intentions. Besides, there was nothing more she could say to a man who insisted on giving up on life so completely. Lisbon shook Jane out of her head as she greeted the older deputy and started updating him on the details of the scene.
Suddenly she was startled by a noise behind her.
Hardy had somehow managed to free himself and get a gun. After shooting his own partner the first thing he'd done was round the gun on her.
She'd frozen for a split second. Sure she'd faced down the barrel of a gun before, but it wasn't usually held by someone so completely deranged, who knew his life was over now either way. And she assumed that she was about to die. Sure enough she heard a shot. But to her surprise it was Hardy who fell. She turned and saw Jane. Jane of all people was holding a gun. The image just didn't compute.
Jane hated guns... almost never touched them... But now he was holding a recently-fired rifle, with an expression of pure horror on his face. Seconds later, as if realizing what he had done, he threw the gun down like it was toxic.
Jane had just shot a man. But he was her consultant. The man that she took great care to inform everyone wasn't actually an agent. He'd taken a life. A potential lead's life. To save her.
Oh. My. God.
Then Lisbon watched as Jane ran to Hardy, trying to save the man's life, to catch his dying words. She watched as Red John's latest pawn laughed at Jane's pain.
Saw that pain on the blond man's face. As she took a breath that by rights she shouldn't have been able to.
And just like that the balance shifted.
Jane wandered aimlessly off of the porch. He had to leave the house eventually. There wasn't anything there. He knew there wouldn't be. He couldn't hide forever. And she wouldn't let him hide from her.
Besides she'd seen too much (and revealed too much) already.
Red John had slipped though their fingers again. He couldn't believe it. He'd been so close. He'd just known it. And then Lisbon had chickened out. Hadn't wanted to go through with it. He chuckled bitterly to himself; even in his current state of mind he knew that was a ridiculous thought. Lisbon hadn't chickened out (she never did). The woman had never really had any intention of going through with the plan to begin with. He should have known that. She'd made her position on his intended homicide abundantly clear.
And then, after thwarting his plans, his little everlasting optimist had even pointed out that thanks to her choice not only was everyone still alive, but they still had a lead.
When would the woman learn that hope was wasted on him?
He knew the "lead" was no good. If there was even the slightest chance Hardy would or could actually tell them something, Red John would make sure of he didn't. Somehow.
But despite his preoccupation when he was talking to her, when she was trying to make him see her position, he was still hyper-observant. Watching her. Even in his anger and disappointment. Always watching her. Especially now. He couldn't afford to let her fool him again. So he watched her face.
Knew she was hoping he'd change his mind. Decide not to murder. Maybe decide to live. Well, he knew better. Eventually she would too.
It was that same hyper-observance that let him know something was wrong before anyone else did. He watched in horror as Hardy started to move. Somehow knew what the man would do, and without thinking grabbed the rifle leaning up against the porch beside him. Aimed it at the madman, who had wasted no time in pointing a gun at Lisbon. His Lisbon.
Jane didn't even flinch. Just shot. Watched as Hardy fell. Watched as Lisbon turned to him. Shocked yes, but alive. Thankfully, very much alive.
Then he realized that Hardy might not be. Running over to the fallen man he got there just in time to hear a dying jeer.
Hardy was dead. He was back where he'd started. He'd failed his family. Again. And it was his own doing too. He'd killed the man himself after all.
But his Lisbon was alive. He'd never regret that. She couldn't die. Another woman couldn't die because of him. He wouldn't allow it. Especially not her.
"Can't you see there are people who care about you? Who need you?"
Pushing her voice out his head he met her eyes in despair. Willing her to fix it. She always fixed it.
And he saw the shock in her eyes. The shock and the sorrow, for oh so many reasons. But mostly, he knew, because she couldn't solve this. Hadn't fixed it. Thought she had, had been almost pleased about it too. And now it was broken again. And she looked as upset as he did. And guilty. But for what? For being alive? For the fact that he'd had to kill? For what she thought he would view as a betrayal?
And as he looked between a badly shocked woman and a dead lunatic, he knew. He'd sacrificed his investigation for this woman. Without even thinking he'd put her before what for years had been his only goal. Somewhere along the way protecting her had become reflexive.
And that thought made him crave solitude, as quickly as possible.
But first there were things to do.
After all, there were another two bodies now. (Could have been more. Could have been her.)
He had to give a statement. Lisbon had to give a statement.
(I saw Hardy grab Officer Morris' gun. Saw him shoot him. Morris went down instantly. And as he fell, Hardy turned and pointed the gun on me. I barely had time to even reach for my own weapon when I heard the second shot. Hardy fell and I saw Jane holding the gun. It was a good shot. He... he saved my life. Maybe Maya's as well.)
He watched as she took charge, calmed everybody down. When logically she should be the one who needed calming. But not his Lisbon. She would not shirk her duty. She was a state agent, and she would complete her job promptly and efficiently as was expected of her.
And soon she had everybody reasonably calm, well maybe not calm, but subdued, dealt with. But she she'd actually dealt with quite everyone personally. He knew of at least one person she hadn't tried to comfort (maybe the only one). After making her preliminary rounds she'd called Cho and Rigsby back to the scene. Spoken to the (pretty badly shaken up) local cop in charge (telling Cho to keep an eye on him with a single raised eyebrow). Then she'd left her unofficial second in command in charge of the scene and moved slowly (warily?) towards him. But that couldn't be. Because Teresa Lisbon didn't walk warily anywhere. Her gait was quick, and sharp. Purposeful, but not hurried. He could pick it out in the crowded bullpen with ease. Of course, he could pick almost anyone out of the crowded bullpen with ease, but she still stood out.
And now she was wary. Worried. Unsure of how to approach him. As if he was some sort of bomb that could go off at any moment all over her.
Which he supposed wasn't a totally unreasonable simile.
But he had (some) control over himself now. He was Patrick Jane. His self-possession was stuff of legend. He sent her a half-smile. She frowned slightly. Ah, so she knew enough not to trust it. Smart woman.
He scoffed internally. Of course she was smart.
Or was she? Because then her face softened. Not in pity, but in compassion. In apology.
"Jane?" she asked him in that way she had, softly, tenderly. He liked it. That voice was real, vulnerable, more genuine than the brash confrontational one she used most often with him (though he liked that one too). But this voice was Teresa. And was the closest thing in his life right now to a caress.
He just nodded in response to her salutation, so she continued. "We're going to take Maya back to her parents now, if you want to come," she told him. The unspoken Please come in her eyes. Like if he saw the girl reunited with her family it would make him happier. Make things better. Make him see what he'd sacrificed for. (He didn't care about Maya. And he'd already seen what he'd made the sacrifice for.)
But maybe it would help the ache. A little. At least it would help justify the day. But nothing could ever make him better. "Of course." He told her. "Lead the way."
But she didn't. She paused, bit her lip. Nervous habit Lisbon. Got to get rid of those, he scolded her mentally. "Jane?" she tried again, "About what happened..."
"Don't," he told her abruptly. Didn't want to hear her talk to him in that voice. In the voice she reserved for the hurt and the broken. He didn't want her compassion. Didn't want it and certainly didn't deserve... didn't deserve...
"I just wanted to..." she tried again.
"You did what you had to." He told her. "What you thought was right. And you're right Lisbon, you saved a woman. Congratulations." he told her without emotion.
"You saved Maya too," she argued.
"I didn't save anyone," he countered as he walked quickly to the police car. If he'd had his way, Maya would probably be dead. He hadn't cared a hoot for Maya Prescott. But he couldn't tell her that.
Couldn't make her hate him.
"You saved me," she whispered quietly to his back.
He'd pretended not to hear. After all, that hadn't been a choice. Not really.
But he did go with her in the police car to the Plaskett's, sitting in the front seat while she sat with Maya in the back, occasionally whispering words of comfort, but mainly keeping silent. She hadn't said a word to him. Seemed to understand he didn't want that. And he was grateful. He didn't want a conversation, not until he'd had a chance to think. If she decided to force one on him he'd prefer if she did it when they were alone.
It was daylight by the time they pulled up at the family house. When they pulled into the driveway Jane got out of the car first, opening the car door for his boss and watching as the local officer opened the door for Maya. Saw Maya run to her family, who wasted no time in enveloping her in a hug. He hung back at the car. He didn't want to talk to the family. Who knows what on earth he'd end up saying?
Probably something Lisbon would kill him for. And he didn't want to say anything to provoke her.
But she didn't seem to be in any hurry to speak to the family either. She took a few steps towards them only to wait on the edge of their property, giving them their moment. Letting them hug their daughter. The woman seemed to have an innate sense of when to push and when to just let things be. And the families trusted her for it. Believed what she told them. Even if she needed her badge to get her in the door (or at least she thought she did), once she was in, they opened up. He watched as Mr. Plaskett approached her, and reached out to shake her hand. Jane assumed the man was thanking her. Even sent a nod Jane's way.
It wasn't Mr. Plaskett he was interested in. But Lisbon. She was always just solidly, calmly and quietly there. No wonder the victims trusted her. He could never be bothered to take the time to foster that kind of a relationship, preferring to use short-cuts to insinuate his way in. And so the families sometimes hated him. He would never be able to show that kind of genuine compassion. The kind that came so naturally to her. But Lisbon always put the innocent first didn't she? Always. But he wasn't innocent was he? And didn't plan on remaining so. Therefore she shouldn't put him first. And he didn't have the right to let her. He didn't have the right to the compassion she'd tried to give. So he would refuse to let her give it.
When they got back in the car to the police station she'd been quiet. It was only after they arrived and the officer escorting them left them alone that she tried again, "Jane..." In that voice of hers. She was using that voice. That voice that he didn't deserve.
So he'd interrupted her. "I need a walk. It's pretty around here. I think I'll go look at the scenery. You guys have got some paperwork to go through before we head back don't you?" When she didn't answer right away he continued on before she could object. "Great. Why don't you just go do that? Give me a call before you leave would you?" And without another word he'd turned and left the station, leaving her to watch him walk away, a helpless expression on her face (but he knew Teresa Lisbon was far from helpless. Everyone did.).
So Jane wandered. Found himself in an orange grove of all places. Well, it was California. They weren't exactly rare. He thought over the events of the last 24 hours. He'd come up with a plan to finally catch the man he'd been hunting for years now. And he had been thwarted, oddly enough by one of his colleagues. Well, if he could call her that. Was he really even on her team? He liked to think so, in a sort of loose capacity, though his motivations and mindset were drastically different than the other members. He supposed when he came right down to it he was, though he also liked the liberty of believing he wasn't as well.
Given his semi-rogue status why had he thought Lisbon would go along with his plan? Had the tunnel vision everyone told him he got when Red John was involved been so limiting that he'd seen only what he wanted to see? Or was she a better liar than he'd thought? But that could be dismissed quickly. Lisbon was a terrible liar. (Though he couldn't always read her.) Part of the reason their fake-argument for the Sherriff's sake had been so convincing was that some of what she'd shouted at him had been genuine. He probably frightened her, more than she'd ever admit.
And when she'd gone back on their plan (his plan, not hers, never hers) it'd hurt. Because he'd trusted her. Was that why he'd assumed that she'd follow his lead? Because he'd trusted her? But she didn't trust him. She'd told him so. And though she trusted him more than she knew, she certainly didn't trust him implicitly. Maybe he shouldn't do the same. Oh he could trust her with his life, with his safety. She'd always had a higher regard for that than he had. And he could trust her to protect him, protect his position, keep him close to Red John. But maybe he couldn't trust her when Red John was involved. Because she cared about the law, and about him. And he cared about neither. He just wanted to kill.
Maybe his biggest mistake had been the complete trust he'd placed in Teresa Lisbon. She was an honest woman, and a just one. But as she'd once pointed out, there was a difference between justice and vengeance.
Still, even after the betrayal, he'd saved her life without thinking. It had been an almost reflexive action. Why? That was more troubling. He only had the one goal. Where did she fit into it? If she'd been right about Hardy, keeping the man who might lead them to Red John alive should have been far more important to him than a single agent, even if she was his strongest link to the CBI. If Hardy had panned out, Jane wouldn't have needed her anyways. Of course, everything had happened too fast for the pros and cons of a given action to be weighed and considered.
He'd reacted without thinking. And it turned out that at least subconsciously his foremost goal had been saving her life.
It hit him like a thunderbolt. Momentarily paralyzed him. (Good thing no one else was around.)
She'd gotten too close.
He cared about her. How much he couldn't be sure. Probably as much as he could care about anyone anymore.
He'd known it to a certain extent. Known she interested him more than anyone else. But he told himself it was just because she was complex, she was interesting. She was fun to study, fun to provoke. Even with his singular goal, if he didn't have a link to Red John he could still have a bit of a laugh. And that's all it had been, a game. A diversion. His favourite diversion, but a diversion nonetheless. He'd acknowledged that she was attractive. That was allowed. He was still alive and still male. Acknowledged that he might like her laugh, her smile, how her eyes looked when she was annoyed. But he liked teasing Grace as well. Lisbon was just more fun because she was more of a challenge. He had to work at it with her.
He'd been a fool.
He didn't love her obviously. Wasn't about to start writing her sonnets to her eyes (Although if he was going to romance her, that certainly wouldn't be the way to go about it. She'd probably just laugh and roll her eyes. She'd never believe that sort of thing was genuine.). Still, he cared about her. And she mattered now. More than anyone else.
More than she was supposed to.
And to make things worse she cared about him too. She'd made that clear as day earlier.
And he didn't know if he'd be willing to sacrifice her, even for Red John.
Because she didn't deserve that. He wasn't sorry he'd saved her. Never would be. He was fond of her.
And that was the problem.
One he needed to remedy.
People who were too close to him ended up dead. He was careless and arrogant, and he couldn't protect them (The fact that Teresa Lisbon didn't need protecting was irrelevant). She could still get hurt, and he'd already admitted that he couldn't have the death of a second woman close to him on his conscience.
Besides, he didn't need the distraction.
He knows what he's living for, and it's not her. It couldn't be her.
Jane considered the events of the day. He hadn't chosen life, well not his own at least. But he'd chosen hers. Without thought.
Without thought he'd fired a gun and taken a life.
Jane smiled to himself as he picked an orange. He'd saved a life by taking another. Well, isn't that exactly what will happen when he finally killed Red John? Except in that instance it'll be lives. Lives of all the potential future villains. At least he knew now that he can do it.
No, he's definitely not sorry he saved her.
But she'll feel guilty. Maybe resent that she owes him anything at all, let alone something so important as her life.
Because for all that Teresa Lisbon trusts her colleagues in the field, she doesn't trust them with herself. Doesn't want to feel beholden.
And she did go back on the plan.
Maybe he could use that.
He bets she'll give him some lee-way.
Lisbon had no idea what to say to him.
No idea whatsoever.
Jane had saved her life. She hadn't expected that. She wasn't naïve. Knew that she worked in a dangerous field. Knew that she had to trust her colleagues. And she'd counted on Rigsby or Cho to help her out of a tight spot more times than she cared to remember. She had to. She was sure that given time Van Pelt would join the list of people she owed her life too as well. It was the nature of the job. They depended on her, she depended on them.
But she'd never expected it from Jane.
He was her slightly off-balance consultant. The wildcard. No one ever knew quite what he was up to or what he would do next. It was how he worked best (and was responsible for a good percentage of the friction between them).
She guessed that technically he'd helped save her life before, when she'd been trapped in an isolated cabin in the woods with a killer and she'd needed a diversion. He'd come through with that trick with her phone.
But this was different. This time had involved eliminating the source of the danger, not just distracting it. And given that she'd not even had time to draw her weapon he must have acted without thinking.
And that meant a lot. It meant that whatever he said, whatever he tried to claim, her life, and the life of his team members mattered to him. I mean, she'd always hoped they did... But he made it awfully difficult to remain optimistic sometimes.
And he'd saved her after she'd broken an agreement with them. After she'd wrecked his chance to finally meet his rival. And not only that, the man he'd killed had been the best lead he'd had to finding the hated Red John.
Yet Jane had still saved her life.
Maybe it had just been a reflex. Or maybe he wasn't as far gone as he'd like everyone to believe. Maybe he did care about her well-being. Maybe this had been Jane's way of choosing life instead of revenge.
She didn't know.
She had no idea what was going on anymore.
She'd wanted to thank him. But he hadn't let her. The man had cut off any attempt at communication she'd made. He clearly needed to sort things out.
Maybe he regretted saving her.
But not even Jane could be that cold... Could he?
God that was a horrible thought.
She wasn't sure how she felt about Jane saving her life. After all, he's technically a member of her team. She's saved his life more times than she cares to count (though she's pretty sure Cho's keeping a tally somewhere). She should be able to just write this off as part of the job.
But she can't.
Because it's Jane. And it's Red John.
And she feels guilty that he lost a potential lead to the killer. Guilty that he's one step farther away from achieving some sort of peace. Guilty that, given the situation, things worked out in the best possible way that they could have for everyone except him (well, him and Hardy, but she couldn't say she cared one way or another about that).
Not only that, she didn't like that she felt like she owed Jane something. Especially something as important as her life. She was grateful he'd saved it of course. Happy to be alive. Her guilt didn't extend to self-loathing. But owing Jane was dangerous. It made her position more vulnerable. And she was already vulnerable enough where he was concerned.
Damn! Why did it have to be Jane who grabbed the gun in time? There'd been at least four other cops on the scene.
She wasn't supposed to bond with Jane. And he wasn't supposed to care about her. She was supposed to watch him. Make sure he didn't do anything stupid. And her judgement couldn't be compromised. (Not anymore than it already was.)
But then again, he had saved her life without hesitation. Like another CBI agent would have. Maybe she was looking at this all wrong. Maybe he did care more than he indicated. Not about her personally per se, but about the team. About how things were supposed to be between team members. Maybe she should cut him a little slack. Maybe even trust him. He'd saved her life after all; she probably owed it to him to try. And, she did tend to scold him an awful lot.
She could try a little positive reinforcement. Tell him when he did a good job. It was supposed to be the more effective method of team management (and scolding him never had any effect anyways). They'd never have a good relationship if they didn't communicate. She didn't need to trust him completely, but maybe she should lighten up. He deserved it.
Besides, any failure the team encountered wasn't really his fault. It was hers. She was supposed to be in charge after all.
She'd give him a little more rope, she decided as she got in the car to pick him up. It was a good idea.
So why did she have a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach?