Of Saints And Saviors
Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
Spoiler: 2.19 (Blood Money)
A/N: Thank you to forthecoast for doing such an amazing job betaing this for me. I thought this was a wonderful episode and showed exactly why I love this couple so much and have so much faith in them. Any spoilers be damned! In case anyone is wondering, I should be updating Running Through Red Lights by the end of the week. I really hope you enjoy this one!
If Lisbon learned anything from her one day suspension it was that her house wasn't exactly a place she wanted to spend more time in than necessary. In her haste to rise to the top at the CBI, assemble the best team possible, and consistently maintain the best closing record in the whole agency, making her place homey and inviting somehow landed at the bottom of her priority list, runner up only to taking a vacation.
It wasn't the first time she confronted the fact that her home wasn't really her home, but then her justification had always been that she spent at least 18 hours a day, six days a week doing her job. It never seemed totally unreasonable that her work space felt more lived in and comfortable than the place where most people sought refuge.
This never bothered her before because she had her job and she had her office, which contained her framed softball, her comfy revolving chair, and pictures of her brothers stashed in the top right drawer, but now Lisbon realizes her mistake.
She should have never relied so heavily on finding fulfillment through her career because now that it's being threatened, she has to face the fact that she can't define herself completely by her "Senior Agent" title, because that is just as precarious as everything else.
Despite Hightower rescinding her suspension, there's still a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach, a vicious thought swirling in her head, that this is just a small improvement and nothing to get excited over. It can all easily change the minute Jane does something else to screw up, to undermine her. Then Lisbon figures that Hightower may not be as forgiving because, as she told Jane, some days catching the bad guys is enough, but others…
She should be angry, upset, frustrated over how unfair this all is, but upon reflection, Lisbon knows Hightower is merely doing her job. It wasn't her decision for Jane to be on Lisbon's team, it was her own, and Hightower is merely acting accordingly.
Despite the innate defiance that has been a part of her personality for as long as she can remember, Lisbon still answers complacently to authority, especially Hightower who, unlike Minelli, has a preconceived notion of Lisbon as someone who has consistently let her incorrigible consultant get away with a lot more than what's acceptable.
She steals at glance at Jane as he effortlessly maneuvers her Mustang through the quiet Sacramento streets and wonders for the umpteenth time how she still hasn't bludgeoned him to death with something, or at the very least forced him to transfer to another unit.
It's true that she knew what she was getting into the day he became her consultant, but along the way something changed. Instead of him being just the perpetual thorn in her side that she tolerated simply out of her tenacity and inability to admit defeat, Jane has become something a little more.
More like a constant presence in her life that, despite the front she puts up at times, she doesn't mind having. Somehow, they've formed a convoluted partnership, sometimes maybe even a friendship, and it was such a gradual process she didn't even notice until it was too late. Until his stuns no longer made her as angry, until she basically threatened Bosco's friendship and respect to bail her wayward consultant out of prison.
Thoughts of Sam make it just that much harder to breathe, so she presses the button that rolls the window down, eyes closing against the pleasurable breeze as it filters into the vehicle.
She should be so angry with him, so impossibly irate, but then he says something with that concerned tone of voice. His eyes betray the worry he feels, and all of a sudden, she can barely remember why she was upset with him in the first place.
It happened in the crate and it's happening now, and as she rests her forehead against the window, Lisbon finds that she's too tired to fight the feeling of warmth that flutters in her chest when she considers that Patrick Jane, despite all his stupid flaws and inflated sense of self, actually cares about her.
She replies with a small smile.
He doesn't believe her.
He doesn't believe her, and he feels like a total ass, which in of itself is no small feat, considering Patrick Jane rarely finds himself feeling guilty for anything.
However, he feels guilty now.
In the worst way too, when he considers that his latest scheme almost put a permanent blemish on Lisbon's otherwise spotless record with the CBI.
He hadn't really allowed himself to think about it since then, rather decided to pour all his efforts into finding a way to prevent the review from happening.
However now, even though his methods have succeeded, both in catching the real criminal and annulling Lisbon's suspension, the odd twisting of shame, which has occurred quite frequently lately, remains ever present, weighing heavily on him.
It's not that he questions his methods; his distaste for rules and boundaries is too deeply rooted, too inherent to be reversed. But his sudden awareness of the consequences, especially where Lisbon is concerned, is becoming a little overwhelming, constantly overshadowing his every move.
He has to hand it to Hightower.
She's a worthy competitor, an adversary with her own arsenal and her own tricks that he's only begun to uncover. He's tried going on the offense once before, and it seemed to work, but when he tried to read her, bringing to light several of her own failures, including her marriage, the supervisor seemed positively unfazed.
It left Jane a little surprised, but he concealed it well.
At least he hopes so, because if his mask faltered even just a little during that particular conversation, then he is in trouble.
He's only begun to sift through his own feelings, dealing with certain revelations that have miraculously slipped past his own observations until now. The possibility that Hightower is aware of them, never mind that she uses them to target Lisbon as a way to get to him, proves unsettling; she also happens to be the primary catalyst for these new thoughts in his head.
This fact is possibly more disconcerting than the actual feeling themselves: the occasional bouts of clarity he's been experiencing recently around Lisbon.
He's fond of Lisbon, has always been, but lately, it's been more difficult to spend time away from her, to stop his mind from wondering about her when she isn't with him.
It's all very troubling because for quite some time now, his mind has been focused only on one thing, one singular, seemingly evasive goal that has given him a reason to live, regardless of how morbid that is.
Apprehending Red John has always been his one and only agenda, with everything else just a way to pass the time, catching criminals an added bonus and a possible way to even out his karma: a thousand bad guys for one.
Or so he'd like to believe.
Yet somehow, at some undefined point in time, his mind began to waver, not exactly treading off course, but creating another path, one he liked to detour down whenever memories and plots of revenge got to be too much.
A distraction of sorts, personified in the woman currently leaning against the window, seemingly relaxed with her eyes closed; though the crease in her forehead is a sure sign of stress and tension that is still very much present.
It is completely typical that even after calling him out on his plans, figuring out exactly why he did what he did, and leaving him in a way very vulnerable, Lisbon still doesn't trust him enough to tell him what's wrong.
Jane doesn't blame her, considering lately even he has to admit that he hasn't been the epitome of trust, but when has he ever been?
But in the end, he always comes through; he always has her back, regardless of why she needs it, even if it's his own doing.
Like she said, she knew what she was getting into, and even if that's not enough to justify his behavior, Jane earnestly hopes she knows he has her best interests in mind.
Always has, and always will.
He looks over at her again, momentarily distracted by the way the setting sun illuminates her features, dark eyelashes against her pale cheeks, lips pressed into her signature pout, one that only Lisbon can pull off.
She lets out a relaxed sigh, reminding him of the way she savored the breeze when they were trapped, and suddenly he's smiling at the sight of her, pleased that she can finally have a moment of well-deserved respite.
"You're staring, Jane."
Lisbon's slightly teasing tone breaks Jane from his reverie, and he immediately turns his eyes back on the road, masking his slight embarrassment impeccably well, almost not surprised that she felt his eyes on her.
He smiles again, internally proud that his observation tactics have been rubbing off on her.
"Am not." He quips back, but there's too much of a pause between her tease and his retort to make it credible. Lisbon lets out a small laugh before opening her eyes and stretching.
Jane is forever grateful that the red light turns green, because it forces him to concentrate on the road instead of admiring the sensual way her body lengthens. How her unconscious, feline-like movement accentuates the subtle curve of her torso and hips as Lisbon raises her arms over her head momentarily before reclining back again.
He likes that in this moment she's so comfortable around him but wonders if she would be less so if she were privy to his innermost thoughts, those that, despite his best efforts, not even he can control.
As traffic slows, Jane realizes they're close to their destination.
They're in the theatre district, which is not only a far cry from the barren part of town where the shooting range is, but also probably a neighborhood Lisbon hasn't frequented recently.
He knows she's basically in a committed relationship with her job, even more so after Hightower's arrival, which probably doesn't leave much time for entertainment. It's a shame, he thinks, because downtown Sacramento is very lovely, and he knows Lisbon would enjoy it.
They pass a small theatre, which is promoting an upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing, and Jane briefly wonders if maybe a night out would do her some good.
He's already planning to call in to inquire about tickets when he notices a parking spot and practically cuts someone off to get to it quickly.
He hears Lisbon inhale sharply as he maneuvers swiftly into the tight space, but he subdues her with a wide grin as he cuts off the engine.
"You really had to do that, didn't you?" She rolls her eyes, before slipping out of the car.
"Relax, will ya, woman. We made it here in one piece, no thanks to your lack of confidence." He teases, echoing her earlier hesitation about letting him drive as they exited the shooting range.
He'd convinced her by saying that if they crashed, he'd volunteer to be her human target.
He'd been teasing of course, but when Lisbon grinned mischievously before handing him her keys, Jane decided to actually put some effort into being cautious with her car. Though that lasted all of the five minutes it took him to get on the freeway.
He sidles up to her just as soon as Lisbon murmurs something dark about him under her breath, and Jane flings an arm over her shoulder nonchalantly. Lisbon shoots him an incredulous glance while he just grins at her.
"Definitely way too tense." He observes, and Lisbon shrugs off his touch, walking determinedly in front of him even though he's supposed to be leading the way.
Yes, a night at the theatre would definitely do her some good.
She'd be lying if she denied that she spent majority of their car trip curious about their destination. In his usual attempt to both irritate and surprise her, Jane wouldn't reveal where he was taking her. Although Lisbon had been a little annoyed before, now she is thoroughly amused and smiling because the destination is so obvious, she can't help but laugh.
Being an avid coffee drinker, she knows she would never venture upon this place herself, but it's charming, quaint, and most of all quiet, which is exactly what she needs after the last few days.
Soft music plays in the background, and people at different tables are talking in very low voices over steaming cups of tea. Lisbon inhales deeply and sits down as a waitress walks over to them, placing two menus in front of them and welcoming them to one of the oldest teahouses in Sacramento, before walking away.
Lisbon doesn't even bother perusing the wide selection of teas and lets Jane order, which earns her a raised eyebrow from the consultant. He breaks out into a heart melting grin and flags down the waitress.
It's only later when she bites into a tiny Russian cookie, the name of which she can't pronounce, and inhales the rich, dark aroma of the black tea that her tense muscles begin to relax. She finally settles into her chair, taking an occasional sip of the hot brew as she stares out the window.
Jane's voice breaks her reverie, and she turns to him, nodding as he smiles over the rim of his teacup.
He presses further, a little teasingly now, but Lisbon is too comfortable to care so she merely nods again, lip curving ever so slightly into a smile.
"That's great then. Maybe if you switch to tea, you wouldn't be so tense all the time."
Lisbon fixes him with a stern glare, "Keep dreaming. You'll never make me give up coffee, Jane."
Lisbon expects him to pout, but he actually perks up at her response, placing his cup down and watching her curiously, "So you admit it then."
"Admit what?" Lisbon looks at him suspiciously, as if she's expecting him to play a trick on her.
Jane wonders how he could have missed the moment when Lisbon began to anticipate his antics rather than just be unsurprised by them.
He almost hesitates in replying,
"You aren't denying that you're tense."
Lisbon lets out a humorless laugh and runs her finger across the rim of her teacup.
Her posture suggests she's relaxed, and it's almost contagious because in her presence, in this very moment, despite his lackluster attempt to annoy her, Jane feels a rare sense of calm descend upon him.
He tries to ignore that his present company could have anything to do with that as he bites into a cookie.
"Keen observation," Lisbon rolls her eyes then, "is it any wonder that I'm tense, considering I have to deal with you on a daily basis?"
Her comment is meant to be light-hearted, Jane can tell by the way she smirks at him, but he can't help wondering if there's some truth to it.
Of course there is, but then why is she giving him such mixed messages?
His thoughts wander back to the conversation they had in the crate, the way she seemed so resigned to the fact that he would inevitably cost her the job she loves so much. She wasn't even blaming him, and Jane frowns unconsciously, that familiar twinge of guilt resurfacing as he contemplates the possibility that he could really get Lisbon fired.
"Jane, you okay?"
He snaps back to the present, to find Lisbon looking at him with concern flickering in her inquisitive green eyes. He assures her that everything is alright, though he's still thinking about their earlier talk.
Lisbon's stare doesn't waver; instead it drifts to his mouth, an amused sparkle in her eye.
He asks, but Lisbon just smiles to her self. Then as if he's watching in slow motion, her hand moves imperceptibly from the table, arm reaching closer to him. Her eyes soften immediately, uncertainty replacing the bemused glint from earlier. She appears to be contemplating something, and before Jane knows what's happening, he touches his jaw, inadvertently saving Lisbon from her hesitation when he discovers a smudge of powdered sugar on his cheek.
He quickly wipes the remainder away with a napkin, but Lisbon is still blushing and now avoiding his gaze, which doesn't let either of them forget what she was considering doing.
She was considering whether or not to touch him.
It's such a small, infinitesimal gesture, that with anyone else, Jane would think nothing of it.
But this is Lisbon. The only time he ever dares to touch her is when he has the element of surprise; otherwise he wouldn't risk it, knowing how uncomfortable she is with physical contact.
So the very idea of her contemplated actions resonates deep within him, and when she looks up again, still a little uncertain, he's suddenly overwrought with an urgency he can't describe.
Jane simply has to know.
"Before I interrupted you in the crate, you were going to say something. What was it?"
He speaks very softly but determinedly, and Lisbon bites her lip nervously. Her eyes wander to the other tables, wondering if people around them are having such an intense conversation as well.
There's no way she can deny that she was going to say something, but she has the choice of concealing it or telling the truth. The sudden urge to just be honest, lay it all out on the table, and be brave for once is tempting, but then she suddenly remembers that there's something she's been meaning to ask Jane for a little over a week now. She decides that she doesn't have to be the only honest one.
"I'll tell you, if you tell me what you and Hightower talked about last week during the Jane Doe case."
He raises his eyebrow at her, appearing a little too innocent as he shakes his head,
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
Lisbon narrows her eyes at him for a second, as if pondering the possibility that he's actually telling the truth, but ultimately concludes that he isn't.
"I'm not stupid, Jane. I saw the look Hightower gave you when she was telling me I did a good job. I know you said something to her during your meeting. Now it's only fair that you tell me what you said, since it obviously has to do with me."
She looks at him with her typical resolve, and Jane already knows he's going to have to admit to something. Once more he wonders when she became as good at reading him as he is at reading her. Then again, he reasons, it probably comes with the territory when two people spend so much time together.
Jane tries to fight the pleasurable tightening in his stomach at that particular thought as he briefly considers actually being honest.
"We simply discussed the case."
He decides that teasing her for a while longer is too much fun to pass up.
Lisbon looks expectantly annoyed but tries hard to conceal it, fixing Jane with another pointed stare, letting him know silently that she's not convinced and is actually a little unimpressed with his substandard lie.
Jane would be offended if he didn't think so himself. Nevertheless, he maintains eye contact, enthralled by this silent game of will they're playing as Lisbon keeps her arms crossed and her gaze on him.
He realizes once again that she's probably the only woman that could handle him for as long as she has and still somehow miraculously stay true to her principles and morals, well as much as one can under his influence.
It's that particular observation that weakens his resolve, making him realize that for everything she's done for him, Lisbon might actually deserve the truth at some point.
"Alright, fine. You don't have to pester me. I'll tell you."
He exhales dramatically and picks up the teapot. Lisbon can't suppress the smile that tugs at her lips. Jane putting on a show never ceases to entertain her, especially when it's because he's reluctant to tell her something he'd hoped to conceal.
She urges him on and Jane refills his cup before speaking,
"Please keep in mind that I resorted to this only after I tried reading her and it didn't work-…"
"Wait," Lisbon cuts him off, "you did what?"
"I made some honest observations about her marriage, which by the way is very strained. I assume it's because she's very career-oriented, a very driven woman. Few men can handle that."
She looks a little shocked, but there's something in her eye, a glint, an anticipation of some sort that betrays her slight indignation. Jane can tell she's a little pleased that he used some of his tricks on their new boss.
"Jane, I can't believe you did that." Lisbon exclaims nonetheless, trying to look the part of disapproval but failing miserably. If possible, the sparkle in her eye grows as she pretends to be more annoyed.
"Oh please, Hightower can handle it. Trust me."
He pouts in displeasure, probably recalling Hightower's reaction, and Lisbon explodes in what could only be described as girlish giggles, suddenly needing to know what her boss's response was.
"I assume that didn't go over too well?"
"She seemed completely unperturbed by it, asking me if the lack of pictures on her desk alerted me, which is offensive since my methods are far more sophisticated than that."
Lisbon can't help laughing again, respecting Hightower a little more for not falling for Jane's tricks. The woman is definitely someone to contend with, if Jane can't rattle her.
The thought immediately leaves Lisbon disturbed but she ignores it, reminding herself that she'll cross that bridge when she gets there.
She doesn't want to admit it, but looking at Jane, seeing him so relaxed and smiling, sends a surge of warmth through her, willing any unpleasant rumination about the precarious nature of her employment away.
"So, back to my original question…"
Jane tries to divert the conversation, but Lisbon doesn't let him get away with it.
"Not so fast. You still haven't told me exactly what you said to Hightower for her to compliment me."
Jane looks a little miffed that she won't let it go, but it doesn't deter her questioning; if anything it spurs her on. He rarely gets challenged and it's wonderful to watch him try to avoid the topic.
"You're not going to like it," He cautions, but Lisbon just rolls her eyes, "C'mon. Don't be such a baby, just tell me."
"I just told her that she should stop picking on you, because that makes you unhappy. Naturally because we spend so much time together, when you're unhappy, I'm less happy, which is definitely not conducive to me respecting any sort of boundaries."
Jane watches the varying emotions flash across Lisbon's face as he speaks, but he's still not prepared for the darkening of her irises.
She doesn't say anything for a while, gaze cast down as her smile falters.
Jane heaves a sigh, leaning back into his chair even though it's not nearly as comfortable as it was just moments ago.
He doesn't dare speak at first, but eventually the silence, and all its implications, becomes too much for him and he hazards a glance at the brunette across the table from him.
"Told you that you wouldn't like it."
He says it as if it absolves him, but they both know better. He can spin it anyway he likes, but his words hold meaning, a far deeper connotation than Jane originally realized, and he suddenly hopes that Hightower is less perceptive than she has proven thus far.
"You shouldn't have said that."
Lisbon's stern voice breaks through his contemplation, and Jane looks at her again, trying to understand where she's coming from.
Regardless of her displeasure, he doesn't regret it; he did what he thought best in the situation and he was looking out for her.
Didn't he make it clear that he would always be there?
The possibility that Lisbon still doubts his intentions aggravates him more than anything, perhaps even upsets him a little, and Jane feels compelled to reiterate his earlier claim, his earlier promise.
"Why not? I told you already that I would always save you whether you like it or not, Lisbon. That's just not going to change."
He's sincere, he really is, but then why does she look so exasperated, so utterly annoyed by his explanation?
"Why do you seem so bothered by this?" He asks, and the genuine curiosity in his tone alerts Lisbon, the stern look in her eye softening considerably.
Yet, her lips are still pursed into a thin line and she lets out a deep sigh, her shoulders slumping as she looks down. It reminds Jane of how defeated she looked in that crate when she realized that help wasn't coming, and it makes him want to pull her closer, reassure her somehow that he really means her well.
He's so consumed in his plan to make her understand that he almost misses when she speaks, but he doesn't. He's glad, because it feels like the first time in so very long that she lets him see the side of herself that she usually keeps under lock and key, the one that reminds him that she's not bullet proof.
"Because, sometimes it's not about saving me. Sometimes I just wish that there would be no reason for you to save me at all, Jane."
He opens his mouth to retort but finds that his throat is very dry all of a sudden, as if someone has stuffed his mouth full of cotton. It's an uncomfortable feeling because he doesn't like being disarmed like this, stripped of his greatest weapon, his speech.
"Sometimes, I wish that you would think before you leap, maybe weigh out the consequences before you render them, not after. Sometimes, I wish that instead of worrying about how to protect me as if I'm some damsel in distress, you would just be more cautious."
For the second time tonight, Jane feels the insurmountable weight of guilt falling like bricks on his shoulders as he listens to Lisbon's measured words and sees the glint of disappointment shining in her subdued green eyes.
She's no longer smiling at him, but is rather fiddling with the edge of the table cloth, as if she's already regretting what she said to him.
However, Jane is only thankful that she's actually opening up, telling him how she feels, even if it's not about all the other issues in her life, even if it's only about him. The tug on his heartstrings is unexpected, but he's starting to slowly confront the possibility that his feelings for Lisbon run a little deeper than he ever thought they would.
Immediately, Jane shakes away the implications that accompany that thought, refusing to focus on his own turmoil when he should be focusing on Lisbon's. He reaches across the table, pressing his hand just barely on her wrist; it catches her attention as he hoped it would.
"I'm trying, you know."
"I know." She concurs, a rueful smile emerging on her lips. Lisbon ducks her head just slightly, bangs falling over her eyes, and as she pushes them away, Jane feels the irresistible desire to do it for her.
Alas, his hand remains on hers for just a moment longer before he moves it away.
He doesn't have to look at her to know that for this specific moment, that's all either of them can handle. This is the only amount of touch, of honesty, that they can accept from one another without having to face the proverbial elephant in the room.
Although he's more curious now than ever about what she was going to tell him in the crate, Jane chooses not to broach the subject again. He's always known that some things, some secrets, are better left untold and besides, he has a faint idea of what she might have added to her already brazen confession.
Despite his desire to prove all his suspicions, Jane actually prefers to be left in the dark about this one. After all, they'll have plenty of time for her to tell him later on.
She isn't going anywhere.
The thought gives him more comfort than it should, but her permanence in his life doesn't bother him anymore, it can't bother him. He's already too involved, and at this point there's really no turning back from whatever lies ahead of them.
Judging by the look in her eye, Jane knows that Lisbon feels it too.
The revelation brings excitement Jane hasn't felt in so long that he refuses to think about what this means for his quest for vengeance or how it may reflect on their working relationship.
Instead he channels all his efforts into making Lisbon smile the way she had before, as he leans across the table to ask her something that's been on his mind ever since he saw that production poster.
"So Lisbon, what are your thoughts on Shakespeare?"