AN: I wrote most of this ages ago and finally decided to finish writing this today even though I haven't slept all night. Funny when the urge to write hits; for me it's always nighttime. Anyway, on with the story...
For Patrick Jane sleep had been an eluding thing.
He could remember a time when his nights had been easy; when he would come home to a hug from happy playful daughter and a kiss on the cheek from his smiling wife and they would spend their nights as any family would.
And when his head rested on the pillow and he would close his tired eyes, he would always wait until the sounds of his slightly snoring wife – his daughter was asleep long ago – before he would let sleep wash over him,
With their deaths, he was welcomed to sleepless nights.
It had not been the case at first. No, at first when he had suffered his mental breakdown, he had refused to sleep. His days had already been haunted with images of bloody smiley faces and the cold dead eyes of his wife and child; he did not need to add to those by having his nights stalked by Red John's knife as it slit against smooth unmarred skin.
And so when he had refused to sleep, he found that his choice was to go ignored and instead he was greeted with a needle; its contents slowly entering his bloodstream, throwing him back into unconscious nights.
He always woke up screaming. With a sweat drenched forehead and fear-driven tear-filled eyes, he clung to consciousness as he gulped down breath in a small haste to remember that his nightmares were not real. Not anymore, they had already become reality the day Red John slaughtered them because of his actions. And no amount of comforting hands or encouraging words would be able change that.
He had learned from then on to feign sleep; it would save him from being forced back into his nightmarish slumber. He could live with his days haunted by the ghosts of his past, but his nights would torture them if he succumbed to sleep.
When he was released from the mental institution, his daily routing had changed but at night, he had still avoided – when possible – sleep and as time went on; in those moments when he could feel the weight of life push down on him, the need to sleep becoming apparent, he found that his mind refused him.
If he was offered those rare moments of sleep, they were fleeting in length and even more rarely uneventful, for blood red still plagued his closed eyelids and after a few hours – if he were lucky to get even that much – he awoke, breath still uneven, hands still clenched but the only screams present were the echoes of his wife and child.
By the time he had became a member of the CBI, he had grown a fondness of couches. They were much easier to sleep in; when he woke immediately in most cases, the odd yet strangely comforting angle he slept him made him instantly remember that he was not alone; that he did not have the luxury of letting the nightmares affect him. He did have an image to maintain after all.
He knew that he did not fool everybody by hiding behind an unaffected mask. He was sure that Lisbon – in all her intelligence – could piece together the clues. A winning smile could only hide so much, but the bags under his eyes had become a permanent fixture.
He knew that she would stare at him sometimes, studying him as he had done with her so many times before. And most of the time she would be able to see when he was upset – more so than the others – and she would offer him his moments of peace, just like she would put up with his distractions and his antics. He knew she would occasionally hover by the couch in the office at the end of the day, watching him in concern, and he would lie there, feigning sleep - most of the time.
It made him feel guilty that she worried about him so much. He didn't deserve her concern. Teresa Lisbon would always be a better person than him and there were many other people she could try and fix, but her attempts to fix him would only hurt her in the end.
He was, after all, an unfixable soul.
The only thing he lived for was justice; to see the monster that had brought terror and death to his wife and child getting his own horror inflicted on him. And he would hate himself after the revenge was said and done, that in the end, she would be the one heartbroken when she had to arrest him. And that image was soon added to his nightmares; damaging what little sleep he received.
He had always been able to survive with little sleep, had been able to maintain a life of relative normalcy. Insomnia had not affected his job, his judgements or his life in general. It wasn't until he had placed his hands on a gun and found himself killing a man to save a life – two lives in fact - that his nights became ever more strained.
He had never killed a man before. Of course, he had planned to kill Red John. It was the only thing keeping him sane – his need for revenge was stronger than any other thing in his life – but he had killed a man…and the emotions it set off were unexpected and unexplainable, at least to him.
He had believed that he would be prepared to kill if necessary but all his life he abhorred violence, avoided it at all costs and so when he severed his only link to his murderous revenge, he had not expected how much guilt he felt for the death.
The man was a bad person; he understood that. Hardy associated with Red John, how could he not understand that? It was that he had brought about an end to a life that twisted his insides so much. He had held the power between life and death and with the simple movement of a finger on a trigger; he had caused a life to end.
He had killed to save Lisbon and he would do so again in an instant; she had been right to say he would choose life; it simply wasn't his own life he would do anything to save. And when the last bloody taunt came out of the dying man's lips, it was her being alive that brought him comfort, but that didn't stop the new nightmares from coming.
They had suggested he take a few days off, advised him to go home and rest, but he knew if he were to return home he would simply end up staring at the red smiley face on his wall until the screams of his nightmares mixed with the gunshot from his memory.
So he had smiled at them and said he was fine, convincing them that he would be better to stay at the CBI. He had not realised how quickly he would become affected.
The first day with no sleep he'd been fine – he had spent nights without sleep before. He was receiving a number of concerned looks in the aftermath of killing a man, but that was to be expected.
The second day he'd found his mind was getting affected. He would find that at times he would simply at a time stop paying attention to the details. He would let his mind wander freely, and suddenly he would think back to the gun in his hands and the last remnant of life leaving his victim, if you could call him that.
By the third day he could barely make any of his usual connections. Even Lisbon was surprised when he had not once tried to do anything to annoy her. As much as he enjoyed gauging her reactions, his mind felt too heavy and the burden was simply too great to bring about the effort to do much. And no matter how his body screamed for him to sleep, his mind would not switch off from reliving the horrors.
It came to no surprise that by the fourth day of no sleep, his body had simply given up and soon after its surrender; his mind had finally done so too. He had been halfway to the kitchen area from his couch in the CBI that his vision suddenly blurred. He felt his body slacken; the empty teacup in his hand clattered to the ground but did not break. And by the time anyone had noticed, he was halfway through collapsing on the ground when his head collided with the corner of a desk.
His edges of his world darkened with the sound of the team shouting his name.
He woke up in hospital with six stitches, one hell of a headache and Lisbon half asleep on the chair beside him.
He blinked, his eyes no longer feeling the heavy burden they had been used to in the last few days. He slowly brought his free hand – the other one was trapped lightly under Lisbon's – to run down his face and he soon found himself frowning as curiosity got the better of him. How long had he been out?
"Lisbon." He gently squeezed her hand, using his other to shake her slightly, "Hey Lisbon."
She groaned in annoyance at being awoken and he couldn't help but smile at her reaction. She blinked groggily a few times, remembering where she was before her back straightened out as the grip on his hand tightened subconsciously.
"Jane…" She whispered, noticing his now conscious state.
His smile widened, "Lisbon." He gave her hand a gentle squeeze.
She looked down at their entwined hands and after a moment pulled hers away. His smile faltered and they lapsed into silence. He watched her, wondering what had caused this sudden silence. She was not the most talkative of people, but usually he would be able to coax her out of silence quite easily. In fact, this was not the type of reaction he would expect from her at all.
"Exhaustion." Lisbon finally spoke up.
"You collapsed due to exhaustion." She suddenly stood up, anger coursing her veins, "Jane, what the hell? Why didn't you tell me his death was affecting you?"
"It isn't." He assured her, "I'm fine."
"The hell you are. Jane, you're in hospital for a reason."
"Yeah, I fell and bumped my head." The grin on his face pulls tighter at the edges, "Luckily there are no more monkeys jumping on the bed."
The words irritated her, that much was made especially clear when she stood up frustrated by him and began to pace. His eyes followed her form, as it moved from left to right and back again. Every so often she would turn to him, words on the tip of her tongue, but each time she opened her mouth, she promptly shut it once again.
The silence, however, was unnerving him, and watching someone pace was not a good way to alleviate the tension.
She turned to face him, finally finding words, "You remember when you said you'd always be there for me, well the same goes for you. If you're having problems, you should come to me."
He smiled a small smile, knowing she truly meant it, "That's a very sweet offer Lisbon, but one that isn't needed."
"No Jane, I think it is needed. I let you keep things to yourself, I don't push you to tell me them, but I can't allow you to do this; not to me, not to my team and not to yourself. What if we'd been out in the field? What if you collapsed in the middle of one of your crazy schemes? Jane, you could've gotten more than a bang on the head, it could've been much worse. You were lucky but I'm not risking you or my team if you continue to go without help.
"Lisbon, I don't need any help. Really, I don't. I assure that this won't happen again."
He thought it was the end of the matter; there would be a bit of a stand off from her but in the end she would relent.
He was wrong.
Stoic faced she said, "I'm temporarily relieving you of your duties. You're taking a week off Jane."
"That's an order."
"An order?" He exclaimed, genuinely shocked.
"Yes," She spoke softly, as she once again clarified, "An order. And when you come back, you're going to get some help."
He hates the way she says the word 'help' and he may be imagining it but he thinks she does too. It never does taste good on the tongue, at least in that context.
"Lisbon-" He moved to protest again, but she simply raised her hand to stop him.
"Jane, I am asking this of you and for once, there is no alternatives, no get out of jail free cards." He doesn't comment on the irony of her choice of words. Technically he had killed a man last week. Then again, his mind had been doing one heck of a job as his prison. "If you respect me in any way, then you will do as I ask without comment. Okay?"
Jane nodded. He truly did hate it when she was looking at him like that; with a silent plea in her eyes masked as an order. He always overstepped boundaries; laughed in their faces for that matter, but every time she managed to give him that look, a small part of him wanted to make her a promise.
Just this once.
"Okay." He relented, and he is rewarded with a small smile.
"Good." She smiled, "Now get some sleep while I-"
"Rally the troops and let them know I've survived the harrowing lecture. I shall live to drink tea another day."
Rolling her eyes, she waved her phone at him as she moved out the door. "Get some sleep." She reminds him, once more as the door shuts behind her.
Just this once.
He reminded himself of his promise to her, made mere moments before as he drifted off to sleep, the demons of his nights kept at bay temporarily. A free pass for night, he thinks.
Just this once.
AN: Review, if the urge to do so arises...