A/N: Written for Yana (aka. Yaba) as part of the Jello-forever secret santa. Prompt was for established Jane/Lisbon and a post-ep. This is a post-ep to the episode in the second season where Jane goes to prison (still too lazy to look up the episode name/number). AU Jane/Lisbon.

I own nothing.

Mutual Liberation


Lisbon sat on the couch in her apartment, a glass of whiskey sitting in her lap. Waiting.

She had just blackmailed an old friend. A good friend. For Jane. She had seriously hurt someone she had respected, and still respected. Actually, now that she thought about it, friend wasn't the right word. That implied something much more straightforward than the complication their relationship actually was. Sam Bosco was one of the good guys. Strong, smart, upstanding... he didn't bend the rules for his own gain, and while his record wasn't perfect, it was a hell of a lot better than most. Not to mention, the man had pulled her out of more than one dangerous situation.

And then he'd arrested Jane. Her consultant... her, well, whatever the hell he was. She didn't always know if he was her friend. And despite what they were doing he certainly didn't often act like her boyfriend. He was the guy who came over to her apartment sometimes to forget about the rest of his life for a while. And she let him, because she couldn't not, because sometimes she needed to forget as much as he did.

Bosco hated him. Lisbon doubted the other man knew the extent of her relationship with her consultant. If he had... well, blackmail or not she doubted Jane would have been getting out of prison any time soon. Or if he had still actually released him, Bosco would have been a hell of a lot more hostile, and Lisbon couldn't be sure that any resulting altercations between the two men would have been strictly verbal. Because Sam Bosco cared about Teresa Lisbon, really cared about her. She knew that. Had always known it. She knew that was why he was so worried about Jane's influence over her. And Teresa Lisbon cared about Sam Bosco too. But they'd always had an unspoken agreement that mutual respect and affection was as far as it could ever go. He was married, they worked together, both of them were smarter than that.

Well, she'd thought she was at least. Getting involved with one of her colleagues. God what a cliché. And the irony was, if she was going to be a cliché, especially given her two choices, you'd have thought she'd have done it with the man who clearly adored her. Who worshiped the ground she walked on. Who would do literally almost anything she asked. Give her anything that was in his power to give. But she hadn't done that had she? Not hard-working, stand-up, sensible Saint Teresa. No, she'd decided to let one of the more subtly dangerous men she knew into her bedroom.

And she hadn't only let him into her bedroom. She'd put him under her protection, firmly under her protection. At first her excuse had been that he was on her team. She had to look out for her own. But really, no one believed that anymore. How could they? Good Lord, even Bosco must be in some higher form of denial (and given his personality that was saying something). But it was either that, or he still trusted her because he didn't know what else to do. She hadn't been mad when the other agent had thrown Jane in jail, a little irritated he hadn't given her a heads up maybe, but she'd understood. Still she'd figured Bosco'd have been a little more flexible about the whole thing, maybe even had a little more faith in her and her team. But people's faith in her team had been in short supply lately hadn't it? And Bosco stood firm. Like he always did.

So what had she done? She'd blackmailed him. Because Jane solved cases.

Lisbon scoffed mirthlessly. Yeah, Jane solved cases. How many times in the last couple of months had she told someone that was the only reason she kept him around. Made it sound like she was perfectly objective, in control. Hah. He held all the cards and he knew it. Sometimes she thought the only reason he pacified her at all was because he knew he needed her to work at the CBI. And despite what he said, she couldn't bring herself to believe otherwise. Not when he acted like this.

He'd called her into a prison, known she would come. Then the idiot had escaped, adding a prison-break to his growing list of charges. Not that he cared. He'd just expected her to clean up his mess, known that she could do it, would do it. Expected her to betray her principles, her friends, while he got to do whatever the hell he wanted. She'd seriously damaged her relationship with one of her oldest and most constant supporters, and for what?

For the man who was likely about to wander into her apartment any minute now. Probably have the nerve to try and pretend like nothing was different. He'd certainly made it abundantly clear how much her sacrifice had meant to him before she'd left the office.

He'd played it off with a joke. So had she. What else was she going to do in the middle of the CBI? Especially after he'd made his own position abundantly clear? And you know what the saddest thing about it was? That part of her had still hoped for some sort of a serious reaction from him, after all this time. She'd still hoped he would acknowledge that maybe he should bend just a little, despite the fact that she'd seen him play far worse off with a joke and a smile. She hadn't been expecting much. Knew she should be counting her blessings that he'd deigned to thank her at all. Knew that he was glad that she'd sprung him from his cell. That an expression of gratitude was far more than most people would ever get from Patrick Jane. But when she'd dared to ask for just the smallest amount of restraint, well clearly his gratitude only went so far. So she'd laughed as well. Told him she should have let him rot in prison. Put on the smile and gotten through the rest of her day, telling herself that getting him out was what she needed to do. For the team. For their case. He was the key witness after all. Told herself that she'd known all along that Patrick Jane would never be able to give her much, that she would never be his first priority. She'd always known she'd have to take what little she could get. And that it would never be a lot.

Goddamnit. Patrick Jane could go to hell for all she cared.

Suddenly she heard a key turning in the lock. Her lips quirked upwards. Well, he certainly couldn't have had worse timing if he tried. Arriving just after she'd worked herself up into a state of righteous fury. She should have known he wouldn't even have the sense to steer clear of her apartment for the next twelve hours while she talked herself down.

"Hey," he called out to her as he shut the door. "I brought dinner," he told her, holding up grocery bags.

"Did you now?" she asked him sarcastically. "Well that was very thoughtful of you."

If Jane heard anything amiss in her tone he didn't show it. "I did. I bought the ingredients for butter chicken," he explained, "which if I'm not mistaken is one of your favourites."

"Ah," was all she could bring herself to reply as she strolled into the kitchen.

Jane continued rummaging through the cupboards for glasses, "I also picked up a bottle of that wine you like so much," he turned back towards her and noticed her near-empty glass of whiskey. "But I see you've started without me." He frowned, "What's wrong?"

"What could possibly be wrong?" she asked him with false lightness. "One of my team members got himself arrested, then broke out of jail, then forced me to pull some strings that I told myself I'd never pull to get him out."

"Ah, so you do admit that you had something to do with it?" Jane asked with a smile. The fact that it didn't reach his eyes should have been a small comfort, but Lisbon couldn't bring herself to care about that and didn't deign to respond. Seeing that she had no intention of replying Jane continued, "You know Lisbon you really should learn to relax, didn't we say we'd try and leave the office at the office?" he asked her in a teasing tone.

"No." She told him bluntly.

"We should have," he muttered softly. "Come on, don't be angry. Most women would be pleased that a man knew enough about them to prepare their favourite meal."

"That would mean more if you didn't catalogue that sort information about everyone you meet," she retorted quickly. At his look she continued, "Come on Jane, you know more about Rigsby's snacking habits than Van Pelt. You make a game of guessing what everyone's going to order when we go out to dinner and you're always right. You do this constantly, guessing everything and anything, and you're almost always right, even with complete strangers. Obtaining that type of information takes about as much effort as breathing for you. So excuse me if a single dinner doesn't quite make up for the crappy week I've been having," she told him.

"You are upset," Jane told her. "I don't know why. We caught the killer." He did know why. He wasn't stupid, but he wasn't quite ready to confront what felt suspiciously similar to guilt in the pit of his stomach.

"We caught the killer?" she shook her head slightly. That's what he was going with? "That's all you have to say?" she asked him incredulously. "Is that all that matters to you?"

"Isn't that all that matters to you? You're always saying that you keep me around because I close cases," Jane responded easily.

She paused, momentarily shocked, "Go to hell."

Jane stilled briefly. She was angry, very angry. Much angrier than he'd thought. He supposed he should have expected it (had expected it to a certain extent if he was honest). He should have known better than to believe she'd truly brush the whole thing off as a joke. But this was still worse than he'd expected. He knew the anger was justified, that he didn't deserve her, never would really. Not to mention he was terrified of what could happen to her if the wrong person (or the wrong madman) found out what was between them. So he knew he should push her away, but could never bring himself to take that step. "You know me Lisbon, better then probably anyone else. You always knew what you were getting into," he told her softly.

"I know that. You think I don't know that?" she shot back. "That's why I'm not really surprised. Even if I do keep hoping like an idiot that maybe you'll show just a little bit of restraint, just once. Though I know you won't. Just because I understand doesn't mean I'm not angry. And just because I was expecting something like this to happen eventually doesn't mean I have to let it go at a moment's notice."

"You should know better than to try and change me," Jane pointed out calmly.

"Who said anything about trying to change you?" Lisbon asked him tiredly. "I'm just not sure I want to be around you right now. Maybe if you'd tried earlier, or tomorrow."

"Well how was I supposed to know that? You didn't seem all that angry back at the office," Jane told her petulantly. Despite what she seemed to believe, he wasn't a mind-reader.

"What was I supposed to do? Scream at you? Scold you?" she shrugged. "Been there, done that. It never has any effect. You never change. And all that ever gets me is an audience of amused agents who gather around to watch while I try and control my lunatic consultant. In the end I look like a fool and I still get nowhere."

"Yet knowing it's pointless you're still angry now," he pointed out. Why was he provoking her? That hadn't been his intention. He'd known she'd be at least a little miffed at him when he'd decided to come by, but he couldn't seem to help himself.

"Because you've goaded me into it!" Lisbon snapped back quickly. "I don't want to talk about this anymore." She sighed. "Just make dinner."

They sat in silence for a while Jane started preparing dinner.

"You've known all along what I'm here for, what my goal is." Jane said quietly.

"I guess I just hoped that there was a line you wouldn't cross," Lisbon responded just as quietly.

"You had to know I'd have no problem with breaking the law."

"I guess I also hoped you wouldn't put me in the middle."

"That was never my intention," Jane told her seriously.

Lisbon rolled her eyes, "Yeah, well, I guess my principles were just collateral damage then."

Jane sighed internally; now this was really not going as he'd planned. His next line of questioning probably wasn't wise since he'd already made her pretty mad, but he couldn't help himself. The woman was like a dog jealously hoarding a bone sometimes. She could hold onto something longer than almost anyone else he knew, and he was sick of her shutting him out. "Interesting that you should mention that," he told her. "Your principles I mean. Obviously I'm not the only man you know with no problem breaking the law occasionally, if it's for a good cause. After all, even if you didn't personally commit a crime, we both know you let Bosco get away with one even if you won't confirm the fact. What's so different about doing it for him versus doing it for me?"

She looked up, "Seriously, go to hell," she told him her tone full of cold fury.

But Jane was too pleased to have gotten a genuine reaction from her as opposed to the monotone he'd been hearing for most of the evening to heed the warning in her tone. And he'd always rushed in where wise men feared to tread. "What?" he asked her innocently. "You let him kill a bad guy because it was the only way to put the guy away. That's exactly what I'm trying to do with Red John. What's the difference between us? Sounds like a double standard to me," he told her easily.

"First of all," she spat out, her eyes bright with anger and alcohol, "I never said that I let Bosco get away with killing a man. That was your suggestion, not mine. In fact, I never said I had anything on him at all."

"Oh right, of course, that was all hypothetical," Jane told her cynically.

"And second of all, even if I did, I sure as hell wouldn't tell you what the difference was," Lisbon bit out.

"Afraid I'd use it against ol' Sam?" he drawled.

She scoffed "I know you would, first chance you got. He's a good man Jane, a good friend. And if I had something on him and I told you, you'd use it without thought and without hesitation if it would help you get Red John."

"You think I'd do that?" he couldn't help asking, though he knew he wouldn't like her answer. Couldn't even blame her for giving it. "Knowing that it could cost you your career?"

"I don't have to think. I absolutely know you would," Lisbon replied in that irritatingly calm tone of hers. Jane hated that tone. He liked her when she was being genuine.

"Do you now?" he shot back, annoyed to hear a trace of anger creeping into his own voice.

"You certainly haven't given me a reason to think otherwise," Lisbon pointed out as smoothly as she could, wondering why Jane was insisting on doing this now. Why couldn't he ever just let anything be?

"Then why did you spring me from the slammer?" he demanded. "Why risk your precious principles at all if you think so little of me?"

"Because you help us close cases," she told him, giving him the rote answer.

"You really are a terrible liar," he pointed out. If she was going to be so bloody calm then he would be too.

She continued as if he hadn't spoken, "And because I don't like the idea of a member of my team in prison. Of course I wanted you out."

So that's how she was going to play this was she? We'll see about that he thought to himself. "A member of your team? Is that all I am to you Teresa?"

"You wouldn't be here if that were true," she pointed out logically.

"Ah, so that's the real reason you're angry. You're mad that you sacrificed your principles for personal reasons," he told her.

"It's not that I sacrificed a friendship for you, it's that I made the sacrifice and you don't even care." At least, as far as she could tell he didn't seem to, and in her current state of mind the difference was unimportant.

Jane ran a hand through his hair in frustration, "Of course I care. What the hell makes you think I don't care? I came over here to make you dinner to try and... well... as a gesture," he offered.

But it was too little too late. Or too soon depending on your perspective. She still thought this conversation would have been better over breakfast, after she'd had a chance to calm down. "Oh well doesn't that just make up for everything? Dinner. When you don't care enough to even consider changing your behaviour even the slightest."

"Which you already said you knew I wouldn't," he pointed out yet again.

"I also said I still hoped." She sat down at her counter defeated. "But then that's always my downfall." She paused, "Go ahead and make dinner Jane. Thanks for the butter chicken."

He sighed, "It's the least I can do."

"Yes, it really is," she agreed softly.

There was a brief period of silence.

Jane broke it first. "I'll apologize to Bosco too if you really want me to," he offered.

Lisbon snorted, "Actually I think I'd prefer if you stayed as far away from Bosco as possible from here on in. Give me that at least. I think I owe Sam that."

"I'll do my best," Jane offered, though he was irritated that Lisbon thought she owed Bosco anything. Then he tried to lighten the mood. "Would you like me to duck out of the way when I see him coming down the hallway?"

Her lips quirked up slightly. "It`s not the worst idea you`ve ever had."

Pleased at the hint of a smile he tried again, "Thank you for getting me out of prison."

"You already said that."

"Yeah, but I wanted to say it again. I know it's more than I deserve," he added.

She shrugged, "Well, I didn't want whatever harm came to you on the inside on my conscience," she told him, meeting his eyes and letting her town soften.

"You don't owe me anything Lisbon," he told her just as softly.

She looked away abruptly, as she stood and stretched her legs. "You want any whiskey?" she asked, making her way back towards the bottle.

Jane stiffened. She couldn't... could she? He abandoned their dinner preparations and quickly crossed the room towards her. Grabbing her arm he spun her around to face him. "Tell me it's not true."

"Tell you what`s not true?" she asked confused, and tired of arguing.

But Jane was tired too. "Tell me that you didn't just risk everything and bail me out of jail because you still feel guilty over what happened five months ago."

She didn't bother to ask him what he meant. "You did save my life," she told him quietly. "On some level I`ll always owe you for that." Then it was her turn to try and lighten the mood, "And what is it you enjoy telling people so much? That I resent you for it?" she asked him with a small smile.

But Jane was having none of it. "I don't suppose the fact that you've saved my life numerous times enters into the equation?" he asked, his tone clipped and angry.

"I think we've established tonight that anything I do for you rarely enters into the equation," she shot back.

He was livid now.. What was it about this damn woman that got to him more than anyone else? Why was she so damned difficult? "I see," he told her with barely controlled rage. "And so everything I do for you gets added up onto a balance sheet that you can never repay does it? You've set yourself up to be quite the martyr there Teresa Lisbon, and I'd be the first to tell you that I'm certainly not a worthwhile cause. Tell me, is that why you let me kiss you, let me touch you? Some sort of extended penance in exchange for your life? Is that all this is?" Jane asked, his eyes blazing, uncaring if she noticed the absence of control.

Lisbon stepped back like she'd been slapped, "Get out," she whispered angrily. "Get out, get out, get out, get out!" she gasped, a couple of angry tears leaking out of the corners of her eyes before she could stop them.

But Jane regretted the words almost as soon as he'd said them. "No," he whispered as he moved to her and gathered her in his arms. "I'm sorry, I'm so very sorry Teresa," he whispered in her hair.

She let herself slide into his embrace. Even if her mind was still fighting him her body had other ideas. And after spending a horrible day feeling like she was fighting pretty much everyone she couldn't resist wrapping her arms around his neck and letting herself absorb his body heat while she tried to stop shaking. "I know." She sighed, "I know you are. I'm just so angry, angry at you, angry at me, angry at Bosco."

"You don't owe me anything Theresa Lisbon," he told her vehemently, "not a damn thing and don't you forget it. Don't you ever forget it."

"I still didn't want to let you rot in prison," she murmured into his shoulder.

"It would have only been a year or so; I doubt I would have had time to rot," he couldn't help pointing out.

"Longer with the escape charges," she countered.

"I would have missed you," he whispered. When she didn't say anything he continued, "Missed your smile, missed your eyes, missed the fact that you're one of the few people who actually gives a damn what happens to me. That you're one of the few people who'll actually go out on a limb for me, whether I deserve it or not. You think I don't know that I don't deserve you Teresa? But I'm far too selfish to let you go, even if it would better for you if I did."

"Let me decide what would be better for me," she told him.

"I'll hurt you. I already have," Jane replied.

"I'll heal. Any human contact's a risk." And she was so very tired of being alone all the time.

"I'm too big of a one and you know it."

"Maybe I have a thing for the long shots," Lisbon argued.

"I think I'm more of a lost cause."

"Please don't say that," Lisbon whispered.

"Even after all that's happened, you're still hopeful," Jane realized, his voice half awe, half despair.

"Can't help it."

He sighed, "Let me make you dinner."

"Okay," she agreed.

Despite the offer he didn't let her go. And Lisbon didn't want him to. For some reason, no matter what he might have done, she always felt better when he was holding her. So she decided to just let him. She deserved it, even if he didn't.

"You scared me," he whispered in her hair.

"I'm sorry, I scared you?" she replied, her irritation surfacing again briefly. What on earth she done to scare him?

"You were too calm. Too controlled. You were giving me Agent Lisbon again," he told her.

"I am Agent Lisbon," she pointed out.

"You're not just Agent Lisbon. And I don't want you to be. I want you to feel. You're beautiful when you're passionate Teresa, happy or angry, it doesn't matter. And I want... I wish... I wish you would trust me enough to feel around me. You told me I should have come by in the morning and you wouldn't have been angry. That you'd have calmed down by then. That's not what I want. I want you to know you can be human when I'm around. If you're angry at me then get angry. Scream at me. I can take it. Not at the office if you don't want, I don't care about that, but here. It's the one thing I can offer you Teresa, a safe place to feel, to let go. Please trust me with that, if not for my sake then for yours. Let me give you that darling."

She looked up at him then, "Darling?" she repeated in surprise.

He stared at her stupefied for a moment. Just how far had he gone wrong in the last few months? If he needed any more proof that he didn't deserve her... But despite his glib tongue he'd never had the words when it mattered. Still didn't. He groaned and gathered her deeper into his arms, hoping against hope he could show her. He kissed her softly, pleased when her eyes slid shut and she let him. "Yes, darling," he murmured softly against her lips as he pulled away briefly.

This time it was Lisbon's turn to moan before she pulled him back to her. He wanted her to feel did he? Well she'd let herself feel. She'd let herself feel him all night long, she thought as she bit down softly on his lower lip. But to her surprise, when her hands moved to push off his suit jacket and undo his vest, he pulled away.

"Dinner first," he told her softly.

"What?" she asked in confusion.

"When was the last time you ate?" When she paused, he smiled, "Exactly. You've got to take better care of yourself woman."

"I am perfectly capable..." she started.

"But I want to," he told her softly. "You deserve it. You deserve to be treated right Lisbon. And tonight I am going to treat you right. I am going to make you dinner, and we are going to eat it. And when we are done," he told her leaning in to whisper in her ear, "I am going to take you into the bedroom and show you exactly what I meant when I called you darling."

Her body arched into his instinctively, "Okay," she whispered into his hear, as she let him take her hand and lead her back to the kitchen. It certainly wasn't perfect, but it was something. And for the first time in her life Teresa Lisbon wanted to ignore the logical voices in her head telling her to run away from the more dangerous option, and just let herself give in. Because sometimes she got so sick of being the responsible one. Sometimes she really did just want to let go, let herself feel.

And he was right, butter chicken had always been one of her favourites.