Summary: Sequel to An Exchange. Jane gives back the things he borrowed and receives gifts in return.
Disclaimer: I am not associated with the Mentalist, and I make no money from fan fiction.
A/N: Do NOT flush prescription medications. Water treatment plants cannot deal with them.
Extra ficlet associated with the same universe.
Jane isn't clumsy and he hasn't been since he was thirteen. It doesn't stop him from stumbling every once in a while. It happens to everyone, he tells Lisbon as he prods his ankle gingerly. He thinks he might have sprained it. When Lisbon drags him to his feet, supporting him by sliding under his arm and wrapping her own arm around his waist, he doesn't regret it.
Cho isn't clumsy either, but at 4 a.m. in the break room, piles of paperwork waiting for their return, it's not clear which one of them bumped into the other. Jane's hand wobbles, thin rivulets of tea dripping down cheap porcelain. They don't look at each other when they settle back against the counter, close enough that their arms touch. The scent of Cho's coffee is comfortingly bitter. Jane does his best to burn the moment into his memory as he stares at the far wall and drinks his tea.
Wayne is in love. Jane likes it. Grace and Wayne share secret smiles across the room, and they are so sweet and young that Jane has to restrain himself to keep from giggling. He basks in their happiness like a cat in the sun. There's a cross state road trip that month and Jane gets packed into the backseat next to Wayne, pressed against the door. He fakes sleep, resting his head on Rigsby's shoulder. The constant hum of the air conditioning lulls him to sleep and he wakes up to find himself sprawled across Rigsby's legs, having slipped out of the seatbelt at some point.
Grace looks at him with sad eyes and Jane wishes desperately for her to go away. He can't deal with her, with anything right now and he opens his mouth to tell her. She hugs him and he melts into her, curling around her as if he could protect her, protect anyone. He watches the blood drip down the wall and holds her closer. Her hair shines in the florescent lights and his hands slide through it involuntarily. It feels clean.
Red John was dead, caught in the act with one last victim. He had come peacefully, smeared with blood. He hadn't even spoken before he killed himself, bleeding out in his cell as Jane watched from outside. There had been no vengeance.
They watched Jane and he watched the world, quiet and reserved. It didn't feel right.
The Monday morning after Red John died Rigsby found his favorite shirt on his desk. He frowned. Jane had taken it last week. He picked it up and a pair of glittering baubles skittered out onto the floor. Rigsby dropped the shirt and chased after them, nearly knocking himself out on the edge of his desk.
He held them in the palm of his hand, shirt forgotten. They were Jane's cuff links. Rigsby studied them for a second, the flashy gold and diamond spoons twinkling in the light. He was fairly certain that there's a joke here that he's missing.
He looked up and caught Jane watching him from the doorway. As soon as they made eye contact Jane turned and left, walking out the door.
A sense of unease built.
Rigsby swore quietly and followed Jane, dropping the cuff links into his jacket pocket and then patting them a few times to make sure they were really there. He was pretty sure he'd never held anything so expensive before, and grand gestures were better when you didn't lose them.
The door at the far end of the hall was swinging shut. Rigsby walked faster. He heard Jane's footsteps echoing in the stairwell and he called down, "Jane?"
Jane didn't respond and Rigsby heard the stairwell door creak open. A thin line of sunlight flashed across the linoleum.
Rigsby jumped down the last few steps, landing with a thundering boom. He hesitated, looking at the door. He had become conditioned to Jane walking in at the worst possible time. The door stayed shut. Rigsby self-consciously brushed his hands over his pants to smooth out imaginary wrinkles and opened the door.
He saw Jane walking out the gate and called after him again. Jane glanced back and Rigsby waved at him. Jane turned away and continued toward the street.
The busy street full of speeding cars.
Rigsby jogged after him, catching him at the crosswalk and grabbed his arm. Jane looked over his shoulder at him, startled and a little embarrassed if Rigsby read him right.
Rigsby let go. "You forgot these," he said, and handed Jane the gleaming cuff links. Jane looked disappointed and Rigsby wondered if he had misunderstood the situation.
"Do you want to go to the park?" he found himself asking. He winced after he said it, because it sounded like he was twelve years old and asking Jane on a date. Jane would never let that go. But the street was right there and he couldn't think of anything else.
"Right now?" Jane asked, and he sounded more surprised than smug. Rigsby relaxed a bit.
"Yes," Rigsby said decisively, grabbing Jane's wrist and dragging him away from the street.
"But you have work," Jane said. He sounded confused and Rigsby wondered again if he was misreading this. Jane pointed at the CBI.
"Yeah, well, I think I've come down with a sudden cold," Rigsby told Jane, already plotting out his excuse for Lisbon (he would use the truth, she would understand). "Let's go," he added as he put more distance between them and the speeding cars.
"I have work," Jane protested, smiling as he stumbled along behind Rigsby.
"You were leaving anyway," Rigsby replied, waving off Jane's concerns. He paused, feeling an odd moment of role reversal. He looked back.
Jane was smiling wide enough that the corners of his eyes crinkled.
Rigsby smiled back and opened the car door for him.
Several days later, Jane found an old sweatshirt, carefully folded up around a tin of Earl Grey. It was washed past softness into the curious texture of total comfort, the original black faded to a soft heather grey.
Jane checked the office discreetly to make sure no one was watching before sniffing the worn fabric. It smelled like Downy dryer sheets—Rigsby. Grace used Tide, Lisbon used Bounty, and Cho used something Jane had never managed to find in a store. Or in Cho's apartment.
Three days later, Jane gave in and went home. He wore Rigsby's sweatshirt to sleep. It was huge on him, comfortable and loose. He slept for a full six hours before he woke up to his daughter screaming.
Jane took the sweatshirt back to the office and hid it under the couch pillows.
He hid the cuff links in Rigsby's desk.
A few weeks later, when Rigsby found them again, he shot an unreadable look at Jane and pocketed them.
Jane sighed in relief.
Grace found her sock half-hidden under her laptop right before they left for San Francisco. She stuffed it into her pocket as she rushed out the door, not looking at the strange lump in the toe until they were halfway there and stuck in traffic. Bored, Grace pulled the sock out and looked inside.
Threads of sunlight slid through the thin fabric and sparkled cheerfully off something inside. Grace dipped her hand in and pulled it out.
Lisbon didn't notice, focused on the road.
Rubies and diamonds sparkled in her hand.
She smiled, and risked a quick glance at Lisbon before sliding it back into the sock and tucking it away into her pocket.
"Did you give this to me?" Grace asked Jane when they stood on the balcony overlooking the crime scene. She held the necklace in the palm of her hand, half stretched out to him.
"What?" Jane asked, distracted. He glanced over and smiled. "Yes," he said. "It's just—you wanted it, didn't you?" He leaned over the edge, looking down on the street below. "Will you keep it this time?"
"Yes," Grace told him, sliding it back into the sock with the earrings, dropping it into her pocket. "It's beautiful. Thank you."
"Ah—you're welcome," Jane replied, looking a little uncomfortable.
Suddenly he leaned over the wrought iron, reaching toward the balcony across from theirs. Four feet separated the balconies, but there were over 40 feet between their floor and the street. Grace gasped in surprise and grabbed his jacket, holding him in place.
"What are you doing?" She gripped his wrist through his suit, keeping him from falling to the street below.
Jane waved away her concerns, and stretched out further. "I think I see—" He grabbed a piece of paper from between the bars. Paper in hand, he wobbled over the 40 foot drop, shoes slipping on the marble tiles.
Grace leaned forward enough to grab his shoulder and used it to haul him back onto the tiles. Jane tripped and stumbled, landing at her feet, the scrap of paper still clutched in his hand. He looked startled.
"That had better be worth it," she told him, hand clutched to her chest. She had thought he was going to fall for a moment.
"Looks like it's a note for a Jesse Kilpert," Jane replied, smug as ever. "Our victim, if I'm not mistaken."
"Oh, well, that's alright then," Grace muttered, sinking to her knees beside him. "What's it say?" she asked him, watching him warily, lest he try and jump over the edge or something.
"Jesse Kilpert, you're on the list. Seven o'clock, June 3rd. Do not be late," Jane recited, flipping the paper over to check if there was anything written on the back.
"That's it?" Grace asked, looking Jane over and contemplating how difficult it would be to find a toddler leash that could fit him. Lisbon would make him wear it if Grace told her about this.
"No," Jane corrected her. "That's tonight." He looked at the paper thoughtfully, and then rose to his feet.
Grace followed so fast that she stumbled. "Listen," she said hurriedly, grabbing hold of his wrist. "Do you want to go to that café down there?" She pointed at a little eatery across from the hotel.
Jane looked at his arm and then back up at her. Grace met his eyes, refusing to blush. "Okay," he agreed, glancing at the scrap of paper in his hand.
"Good, let's go." Grace pulled him through the French doors and back into the room, heading for the exit.
"Wait, right now?" Jane responded, looking up from the paper in surprise as she led him toward the elevators.
"Yes," Grace said firmly. She pressed the button for the main floor, resisting the urge to tap her foot impatiently. Something classical played over the speakers as the doors slid shut.
Jane shrugged and smiled. "Well, alright then."
It was three weeks later when Jane found a thick blue book under the pillows of his couch. He paused, putting Rigsby's sweater to the side.
Jane used a finger to crack it open. The front cover fell against the well-worn leather of the couch cushion, revealing a photo of the team gathered around a table in a bar.
Jane's fingers drifted over the photo, seeking out each in turn.
Lisbon held her beer in front of her face, hiding a smile. Cho held his cards determinedly, one hand reached out for a bowl in the centre. Rigsby had his arm around Grace, earnestly explaining something to her. Grace smiled peacefully at Rigsby, one hand resting lightly on his wrist. The last face was his own.
Jane blinked. He looked…happy.
Jane flipped through the album until the sky lightened from the rising sun. The first few CBI agents wandered in as Jane stood, his knees cracking. He carefully wrapped the book in Rigsby's sweatshirt and hid them both in the sofa next to Cho's tie and Lisbon's jacket.
That night, Jane went home. He brought the sweatshirt and the book.
Jane put them on the bathroom counter and opened the medicine cabinet. He had twelve bottles of sleeping pills lined up alphabetically on the bottom shelf. Nine different brands. Seven prescribing doctors.
Jane opened the bottles and lined them up on the counter. One after another, he emptied them into the toilet and flushed the evidence. The empty pill bottles lined up like a faintly accusing army. He threw them away.
Eventually, Jane slept, photo album open on the carpet.
Lisbon came in to find Jane asleep on the couch and her favorite jacket draped over the back of her chair. She gave Jane a quick glance to ensure that he was, indeed, asleep, and circled around behind it. Lisbon reached out on hand slowly to touch the soft leather, but hesitated before she made contact. She grabbed a pen from her desk, and prodded the jacket.
Nothing happened. Lisbon frowned to herself, and lifted the jacket with the pen. It fell to the ground. Lisbon gave it a wary look, then lifted it gingerly between two fingers, and carefully rummaged through the pockets.
Her hand closed around something soft and a little slippery. Lisbon pulled it out using the tips of her fingers. A silk black bag pulled shut with a drawstring. Lisbon set her jacket on the desk and sat on the edge, rolling the bag between her hands. The object inside was small and hard.
Lisbon delicately pulled the edges apart, peering into the small sack. She frowned. It was too dark to tell what it was. She dipped one finger in, and hooked the chain.
It was attached to a carved ball of green stone. She rattled it gently and a second ball of the same stone rolled inside. The ball had to have been carved inside the outer shell.
She rolled it gently in her hand, marveling at the workmanship. Little elephants and lilies patterned the outer shell, with vines framing windows that revealed the carved stone inside. The inner ball rolled smoothly, showing a jungle filled with tigers and birds through the windows in the shell. The gold chain hooked to the top in an ornate metal knot.
Lisbon smiled, charmed despite herself. A flicker of motion caught her eye, and she glanced up, catching a glimpse of Jane's jacket as he left.
Lisbon dropped the ball in her pocket and followed him at a more sedate pace. Jane offered her a tight lipped smile through the walls of glass that separated them and backed into the elevator.
Lisbon sighed and waited in the lobby, watching the numbers on the elevator display. He must want her to follow him, if he was being so obvious. The elevator stopped on the top floor, Payroll and Human Resources… which Jane wouldn't visit on a bet, so…
Lisbon rolled her eyes and pushed the button. Jane was going to the roof. He could at least try to be mysterious about it. She liked the challenge.
"Jane," she called out to him, making her way over the gravel roof. He looked up, and she frowned slightly. His eyes were sad. It's a ridiculous statement that she never would have made before she had met him, but even without a single detail to point out as evidence, she's prepared to swear on the bible that it's true.
Jane rocked back a step at her approach, leaning against the low edge that separated him from a steep fall. Lisbon slowed, purposeful strides becoming a more casual stroll.
Lisbon pulled the ball from her pocket, letting it dangle on the chain. The late summer sun pierced the translucent stone, lighting it from within, and she took a moment to admire it again. "You gave me this?" she asked, almost awkwardly, her eyes dropping to the lapel of his suit rather than meeting his.
"Yes," Jane replied, his eyes scanning her, seeming to read her every thought in a way that left her irritated with him, no matter how often he did it. She met his eyes, a hint of challenge in her own. "I bought it in a thrift shop in Florida, a long time ago," he added softly.
Lisbon sighed. "Thank you." She said it because she was supposed to, rather than because she was truly grateful. Gifts without context aren't something she'll ever be comfortable accepting. They feel like bribes rather than affection.
Jane forced a smile, and she knew that this was important to him for some reason. Lisbon matched his smile with an equally false one and dropped the green ball into her pocket. Jane sat on the edge and Lisbon went to high alert out of instinct.
A heavy breeze ruffled their clothing and Jane swayed slowly. Lisbon wondered, for a moment, if he was doing it on purpose. Some part of her was always suspicious of him, wary. She shook its influence, frowning yet again as she grabbed him by the collar and pulled him solidly onto the roof.
"You were going to fall," she explained at his faintly incredulous look. "Come on," she added, dragging him none too gently toward the stairs. "There's a deli on 23rd that has the best sourdough in the city." It also has one of the largest selections of teas Lisbon has ever seen. But that was purely incidental.
It's nearly a month before Jane found an egg-shaped rock in his couch, under the first cushion where he used to keep Lisbon's things.
It's heavy for its size and polished to a high gloss. He flicked on the lamp and studied it. Solid, heavy, silvery hematite. Exactly the right size to nestle in the palm of his hand. He wondered if she knew the meanings attributed to hematite, if she researched the generation ball he gave her. It's all tripe, of course, but he wondered about the response.
He slept at the office that night, his treasures hidden beneath him, except for the hematite. Jane held it in his hands, resting over his chest, the skin-warmed rock comforting in its weight. He did not sleep, but rested nevertheless.
Cho was understandably confused when he found his tie threaded though a ring and tied around one of his chair legs. He crouched in front of it, studying it. He had worn the tie yesterday. And he was fairly certain he had worn it home.
He tapped the ring gently, rocking it. It was heavy gold, thick, masculine. A broad red stone lay flat in the gold. Worn carvings adorned the band. Cho slipped the tie off the chair, shaking the ring into his hand. He thumbed it thoughtfully as he folded the tie and put it in his pocket.
The ring fit his ring finger.
Cho considered the matter for a moment, and slid it on.
Cho caught up with Jane on the private dock of a murder victim. The ocean stretched out around them, the screams of seagulls deadened by the miasma of fog. Jane had removed his shoes, dipping his toes in the cold water as he stared into the mist.
Cho sat down next to Jane, his legs crossed. He wore the ring on his left hand and waited for Jane to free himself from his thoughts.
Moments, minutes, maybe hours later Jane stirred, the tide having dragged the water away from his feet. He put his socks back on, and Cho could see the moment his turning brought the ring into view. Jane blinked and glanced up to Cho's face before replacing his other sock.
Cho buried his smile and didn't look at Jane. Eventually, Jane would ask. He had little tolerance for silence.
It was another indeterminate amount of time before Jane shifted, shivering a bit. "Did—" Jane broke off, a faint flush coloring his face.
Cho didn't look over. The fog encased them, hiding them in a private world. It was like breathing cool water, refreshing and life affirming. There was the faintest tinge of brine.
"You like the ring?" Jane asked, his voice oddly dulled by the mist.
"Yes." Cho smiled for him. It's a bit tacky, but Cho was fond of the colors. Besides, it sort of matched the watch.
"It was my father's," Jane offered, his eyes flickering toward Cho to take in his reaction.
Cho glanced at Jane, a little surprised. Jane never spoke about family. "Thanks."
Jane let out a soft laugh, the fog making it sound like a sob. "You're welcome."
Cho bumped shoulders with Jane. "Do I say 'I do' now?"
Jane sputtered, beginning half a dozen sentences at once.
Cho chuckled, bumping Jane's shoulder again, this time keeping the line of contact between them.
Jane looked at him, his eyes wide. Cho didn't respond, and Jane slowly relaxed, leaning into him.
By the time Lisbon caught up with them, wanting to know what they had found in the hours they'd been gone, they're lying next to each other on the wooden dock, Jane half-asleep, using Cho's stomach as a pillow. Cho blushed when she found them, but he never regretted it. Not even when she assigned him to desk duty for a week.
Three days afterward, a stuffed penguin appeared on Jane's couch. It was ridiculously soft and floppy, and Jane suspected it was meant for a baby.
Jane stared at it in incredulity for a moment before grinning. He giggled in glee and used it in interrogation until Lisbon made him stop.
He went home that night, dragging along the photo album, Rigsby's sweatshirt, the iron egg, and the penguin. Jane placed them in a circle on the kitchen counter, an irrational corner of his mind calling it a tea party. His lips quirked into a smile at the thought.
The night was restless.
Jane paced through the empty rooms of his home, aimless loops that brought him back to the kitchen each time. His restive wanderings stopped and started as he paused, pressing his hands against the walls in an attempt pull out old and tattered memories.
The ache was finally fading.