Let It Go
Disclaimer: The plot's mine, just borrowing the rest.
A/N:- This is AU in that it doesn't fit in with the way the show has dealt (or not dealt) with Bosco's death but I started writing this right after the episode aired and finally decided to dig it out from under the ever-growing pile of half-finished fics.
When there's vengeance in your heart
What comes next is up to you
Better to think before you start
Or you can dig that grave for two …
Toto – Let It Go
"You don't need to be so brave. No one expects you to be holding it together so well."
Lisbon looks up from her desk. He's standing in her doorway. He's always standing in her doorway nowadays with the same look of guilt and concern on his face. She wants to tell him to stop pitying her but a part of her can't help but admit that their shared grief makes her feel a little less lonely. "What do you mean?"
He steps into the room and closes the door. "The man you loved has been killed and the fallout from that has taken Minelli from you as well. It's like your parents all over again. Given what you've gone through, it's only natural that you think that you'll lose everyone you care about sooner or later."
"If you're trying to make me feel better then you're not doing a very good job," she says coldly, picking up her pen and staring back at the stack of papers in front of her.
"I'm not trying to make you feel better. I'm trying to get you to see Red John's going to continue ruining lives." He pauses, like for the first time ever he's actually scared of speaking his mind. "Maybe you need to stop working this case."
She looks at him and laughs, actually laughs. It echoes round the room violently. She's no longer mildly irritated but defensive and aggressive. She throws her pen down and leans back in her chair. "Now that I am more personally involved in this than ever, you, you are trying to get me to walk away." She can't get over the irony. She laughs again, a hollow empty sound.
"I have nothing left to lose. You do. You have your brothers and your family."
She doesn't say anything. She's not been herself lately. She's been masking her grief and despair well these past couple of weeks but everyone has a breaking point and Jane is slowly nudging her there.
"Lisbon, listen to me, you're treading on dangerous ground." He steps closer.
She snaps. "Since when have you cared so much about putting people in your life in danger?"
Her words hang there in the silence. It stings, exactly like it's meant to. She glares at him; she wants him to hurt as much as she is in this moment and it doesn't occur to her until a split second later that he probably already is. He doesn't say anything. Her anger collapses like a house of cards and regret overwhelms her. She stands up and walks towards him. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that."
"It's okay. It's true. And it's only right that you should be blaming me for what happened to Bosco …"
"Jane, I don't-"
"I do because it's true. Six years ago I started this whole sick and twisted game and even as the cost mounts I can't stop playing. I am locked in. I know spending my life chasing after him is giving him exactly what he wants but I can't walk away. No matter what happens, I can't stop."
She looks at him. With Bosco's death, she finally understands what drives him. "I think I get that now."
His eyes darken. "But you shouldn't. You shouldn't be in that place where you can understand that."
She sighs. He's picked the wrong time to play the overly-protective macho card with her. "We go after gang bangers and Mafia leaders all the time and there's just as much chance of them coming after me as Red John. I've lived with that risk for years."
"It's not that."
She frowns, confused, and then follows his gaze to the pile of papers on her desk.
"I know that they're not budgetary reports you've spent every night this past fortnight looking at."
She looks away, furious that it's impossible to keep anything from him. "You don't have sole claim on the Red John file," she says defensively, not even trying to cover the indignant tone in her voice. "You're not the only one entitled to read it."
"I know, but since Bosco's death what you've been doing isn't reading, it's obsessing." He looks like he's reliving a nightmare. "You tell yourself you're just going to read over the facts one more time to see that there's anything you missed; check that there's any lead you might have overlooked the first dozen times. Next thing you know you read it obsessively every chance you get, praying that somehow something in the file has changed. You continuously check facts that you've already triple-checked and struggle to resist calling up witnesses that you've already spoken to a hundred times, and no matter how many times you tell yourself this is going to be the last time, every day you're right back where you were before."
She stares at him, quietly shaken. She finally sees what he's getting at. She knows what she's been doing isn't healthy and she knows the right thing to do is put some distance between her and the case and try to rewind to a month ago when she could look at it objectively from the outside but it wasn't as simple as that.
"I don't want this to consume you. I don't want you to turn into someone like me who lives one day to the next hoping that they're one day closer to getting their revenge," he pauses, his eyes pleading. "Lisbon, I don't want you to become the person you try every day to stop me becoming."
He moves closer and puts his hands on her shoulders, forcing her to face him. The frustration seeps away from her body and she's just left with agonising sorrow.
"You're not that person and Bosco wouldn't want his death to change who you are."
He's speaking with an urgent earnestness that she's never seen from him before. She looks away but he won't let go.
"Promise me you'll take a step back. I don't want my arrogance six years ago to destroy you and ruin your life any more than it already has. That's one thing I don't think I could live with."
She looks at him and suddenly realises what he is saying: he's asking her to do this for him as much as for herself. She wonders whether it's possible to for someone to be both incredibly selfish and selfless at the same time.
"Teresa, promise me."
She wants to be angry that he's asking her to give up the one thing that has been keeping her going but with the way he's looking at her, it's hard to feel anything other than overwhelming sadness. She nods slightly and then looks down as tears she can't control start to build up in her eyes. "It's so much easier to be full of anger and vengeance, otherwise it just …. hurts."
"I know," Jane says quietly.
He moves his hands from her shoulders and she falls forward slightly. She presses her face into his suit jacket and he rubs her back gently. She hates crying, she hates crying in front of someone even more, but once the levee breaks there's no stopping the flood that comes. This is the release she's been looking for.
"You're stronger than I am. You'll get through this," he murmurs, holding her close. "You need to because there isn't room down the rabbit hole for the both of us."