Okay everyone, after a week's worth of devoting every spare moment to writing, I give you the final chapter of 'Puppeteer.'
It's a little different to the previous ones but I think you'll like it…or at least I hope you do.
Disclaimer: The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of other things. Like how I don't own the Mentalist, and cabbages and kings. And why the sea is boiling hot etc, etc, (borrowed from the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, which incidentally I also don't own.)
After almost a week of rest and recuperation or 'pointless, mind-numbing monotony' as she had resentfully been calling it, Lisbon walked into the CBI for the first time in what had only been four weeks, but felt like forever.
She ignored the smiles and greetings of colleagues as she passed through the building. They all seemed to have conveniently forgotten how they had stood around the elevator on the day she had been fired, whispering to one another with badly disguised glee. She however, had not. She didn't think that she would ever quite forgive them all for the way that her life and career had been belittled and recycled for the purposes of the next day's water-cooler gossip.
When she got upstairs however, her bad mood with the rest of the agency dissipated as the three people whom she actually had wanted to see came into view. She was greeted with the comfortingly familiar sights of Van Pelt on her computer, Rigsby rooting around in the fridge and Cho immersed in a book. It was like she had never left.
Rigsby emerged from the fridge holding a slice of pizza left over from God-only-knew-when and was halfway through transferring it to his mouth, when he caught sight of her. His face broke into a grin.
"Boss! You're back!"
As though they'd both received an electric shock, the heads of the other two snapped up. Van Pelt immediately leapt to her feet and Cho carefully marked his page before getting up too.
"Welcome back, Lisbon!" said Van Pelt, beaming, as she hurried over to her.
"Oh hey boss," Cho greeted her nonchalantly, as though she'd been gone for half an hour rather than a month, but he was smiling too.
Lisbon could practically hear the smart-ass remark about the rarity of such emotion from her senior agent, but of course, it never came. Unable to help herself, she flicked her eyes over to the leather couch across the room. Empty.
No suit jacket draped across the back. No books of Sudoku puzzles piled haphazardly beside it. No blonde curls peeking over the top of the armrest.
No Patrick Jane, leaping eagerly up with an ear-to-ear grin to welcome her back with the rest.
This was going to take some getting used to.
Sentencing hearings weren't exactly known for being the most joyous of occasions, but the case of Patrick Jane was one of the most dismal affairs that Judge Alana Kandelis had ever presided over.
Firstly, it had been the sheer dejectedness of the man who sat in front of her. He seemed to radiate sadness, casting his gloom over the entire courtroom. She had seen remorseful defendants before, but nothing like this, where his guilt seemed to have taken over his entire being, his misery too deep to be put into words. She'd had to repeat herself several times when he'd failed to answer questions but somehow it hadn't felt right to reprimand him for his inattention. If she'd had to describe it, she'd have said it was less a case of him being unwilling to listen then being simply unable, like he was so consumed by his inner hopelessness that nothing of the outside world seemed able to permeate it.
Secondly, it had been the unusual emptiness of the courtroom; save for the two of them, the ADA prosecuting the case, the bailiff, and the few journalists who had either bribed or tricked their way in. The absence of the rest of the news hounds didn't concern her; they were surely camped out around the courthouse doors, ready to pounce as soon as he emerged.
Alana had heard from a friend in the DA's office that the case had been hushed up by the CBI, and understandably so, as it involved one of their own people nearly suffering an untimely death at the hands of another employee who had then proceeded to murder somebody else. Somehow however, the word had got out (as so often happened in such cases) and she was certain that the media feeding frenzy would be waiting as soon as the defendant left the sanctuary of the courthouse.
But where were the other people usually present at a sentencing? Where were the family, friends, acquaintances, well-wishers and hangers-on? Who would he look to for emotional support as the sentence was handed down? Who would he pull towards him in a farewell embrace, before being lead away in handcuffs?
She knew that Patrick Jane was a widower; his wife and daughter taken from him by the same man he had killed last week, and that he had never remarried, but surely there had to be someone, anyone, in the world who cared about his fate?
But as the proceedings wore on, no such person appeared, and it seemed that he had not expected them to, for he never looked back at the door once, keeping his gaze focused somewhere on the back wall just to the right of the judge's dock.
Alana was not in the business of sympathising with criminals but deep down, she'd felt a tiny bit of pity for Patrick Jane as she handed down her sentence of fifteen years imprisonment, with a possibility of parole in ten. If it were up to her, the term would have been somewhat lighter; the murder victim had been a serial killer after all, and the world would no doubt be better off without him in it, but the law was clear. Murder was murder, regardless of whether people deserved it or not.
She didn't see the tiniest flicker of emotion cross his face as two guards each took him by an arm, and escorted him from the room.
One step outside, and Jane found himself assaulted by sound as journalists converged upon him like lions on a fresh kill. Questions were shouted at him from all directions and flashes of light from a hundred camera flashbulbs seemed to sear themselves to his retinas.
Keeping his head down and his mouth shut tight, he was guided forcefully to a van that would take him to his new home for the next decade and a half.
Once inside, his thoughts floated inevitably, to Lisbon and how much she hated journalists. 'Vultures' she called them. He remembered what had happened to the last reporter who had caught her on a bad day. He'd heard the man in question had decided the time was ripe for a career change and was now working in a florist downtown.
He remembered the smirk that had graced Lisbon's face when she'd heard about it. "That's the problem with these people," she'd told him afterwards. "They want to be where the fire is, but they just can't take the heat."
Jane had thought to himself that he'd happily swelter through the world's worst heatwave if it meant he got to spend as long as possible in the company of the firecracker that was Teresa Lisbon.
As the van pulled away from the kerb, he felt a strange tugging around his mouth as he thought about that and he realized that for the first time in a week, he had almost smiled.
Lisbon placed the last framed merit certificate on her office wall, and stepped back to admire the effect. She was pleased she'd refrained from throwing them away with the rest of her work things; having them there made the room feel like it was hers again.
The baseball was back in its place of honour at the front of the desk, the photographs arranged at either side. All was as it should be.
The bullpen was quiet, with it being quite early in the morning, and she walked into the kitchenette to get a cup of coffee, enjoying the silence.
Someone it seemed, had been in a hurry to leave last night as little individual sugar packets littered the table and a copy of yesterday's newspaper lay abandoned next to the coffeemaker.
She reached for a cup, and recoiled as though she had been burned when her fingers brushed the blue cup in which Jane had always taken his tea. She remembered the way he had once said that the right cup made the tea taste better and from then on had steadfastly refused to use any other. Of course she'd dismissed the claim as ridiculous to his face, but sometimes late at night when she was alone in the office, curiosity had made her start to reach for it and try it out, just to see if it were true.
Maybe she should do it now. It wasn't like he'd be coming back to claim it after all.
As her fingers neared the handle, his voice filled her head so loudly he might have been standing right next to her, speaking the words of a conversation they'd had a couple of months ago after she'd tempted fate and consented to make him a cup of tea.
"Perfect," he'd said, after taking a sip. "You my dear, are the goddess of tea."
She snatched her hand away again.
She made a point of not looking at it anymore as she selected another cup, and closed the cupboard doors.
With time to kill before the rest of the team arrived, she tucked the paper under her arm as she returned to the office. Seated back at her desk, she flipped through it, pausing here and there to read an article that caught her interest until her eye was drawn to a small illustration at the bottom of a short piece entitled "Former Psychic Sentenced."
Her heart skipped a beat.
The picture was an artist's impression, obviously legal red tape had prevented the paper from printing a photograph. Whoever the artist was, they had done a pretty good job of capturing his likeness, but she kept thinking there was something slightly off about it. After scrutinizing it for a full minute she saw it.
The eyes. The eyes were wrong. The artist had drawn them brown. This person apparently wasn't the sharpest pencil in the box, to miss something as crucial as this. Jane had blue eyes. Everyone knew that.
"Everyone, Teresa?" piped up a little voice in her head. "Or just you?"
She ignored it.
She also hoped the artist had imagined the melancholy air the picture seemed to have about it. She didn't like the idea of Jane sitting alone somewhere looking so sad. She might not have been able to totally forgive him yet, but still, she cared.
To distract herself from her ex-consultant's miserable face, she turned her attention to the article.
"Former television personality Patrick Jane today faced sentencing over several charges including one count of assault, one count of murder…"
She couldn't bring herself to read the rest of the sentence and instead skipped to the end.
"Mr Jane declined to make any statement in his own defence and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with an option for parole in 10 years."
She slammed the newspaper shut. Fifteen years in jail, it might as well have been an eternity. She'd let him take the rap for her and now he was paying for a crime he hadn't committed. It wasn't supposed to end up like this. If she'd done her job properly and arrested Red John years ago, none of this would ever have happened.
Stupid, stubborn Jane. If only he'd told her when this whole mess had begun, they could have worked it out together like they'd done so many times before. He'd be here with her now, instead of in a prison cell.
They could have had something. Something real.
But now all she had was bitter thoughts of what might have been.
Jane hated to agree with Red John on any count, but he had to admit that on one point the serial killer had been absolutely right. Jail officially sucked.
It wasn't that he was scared for his safety or anything, as his main weapons were his quick wit and mentalist skills, neither of which could be confiscated during a random cell search. What really got him was the boredom.
The same routines all the time, every day like the one before. No variation to break the monotony, just an endless circle of mundane events that made up a day.
He was so bored that so far he'd worked out four possible ways of escaping, which he was ninety percent sure would all work if he'd cared to test them. But what was the point in breaking out? Where would he go?
Some nights he pondered this as he lay on his bed, gripped by insomnia and every time he got the same answer. Lisbon. The only reason to go to the effort of breaking out would be the opportunity to see her again. It had been months now and the uninspiring lifestyle in the prison meant that his brain had nothing to do all day except miss her.
Whoever said that time healed all wounds had been seriously misinformed. Half a year down the track, and it still didn't hurt any less to think of her, to remember her laugh, to lament over everything they might have had if he hadn't been so damn stupid. On occasion, when was in the mood for a little self-torture, he'd go back to the old fantasy of her walking down the aisle in a white dress imagining himself waiting for her at the end, wondering how he had gotten so lucky. He looked into her eyes when she reached him and pulled her close…
And then the dream would dissolve, leaving him feeling even more depressed than before.
Sometimes when he was feeling particularly resentful about it all, he considered throwing caution to the winds and just doing it. What was a few more years on his sentence? It would be worth it just to see her again with his own eyes. Talk to her. Maybe conjure up the guts from somewhere to tell her that he loved her.
But then he reminded himself of how he'd got in this situation in the first place. He was nothing but trouble to her, and the further away he was, the better off she would be.
The next day, he sat in the common area watching a small television bolted to the wall accompanied by Rick, his cellmate. The news had just started a report about a body found in a back alley in Sacramento. Foul play was suspected. It was just a run-of-the-mill report until Jane caught the word 'CBI.'
Jane smiled as the flat, monotone voice of Cho echoed around the room.
"We have no solid leads at this stage," he was saying calmly. In the background Jane could just make out Rigsby's hulking figure and Van Pelt's vibrant red hair. He leaned forward in his seat eagerly. If the rest of the team were there that must mean…
He waited and hoped, and after a few seconds he saw a small figure stride into the frame, bellowing to Cho that they were leaving soon and to hurry up. His heart leapt. He'd know that impatient bark anywhere.
His face broke into a grin as the camera cut to another scene, and there she was. It wasn't as good as seeing her in person, but it was the next best thing. The shot was of Lisbon being interviewed and looking as she always did, extremely annoyed that someone had shoved a microphone into her face when she was working. She was smiling, but it was very forced, and the irritation in her eyes was evident. He could also see the line between her eyebrows deepening with every passing second. Or perhaps these things were only obvious to him because he knew her so well.
He thought he knew what was bothering her. She had obviously not expected there to be media at the crime scene and he could see she hadn't bothered to redo her makeup and hair before they'd left headquarters.
It wasn't that she cared how she looked while working, but she thought that as team leader she should be setting a good image for the agency.
He personally had always thought her fears were groundless. In his eyes, she was beautiful all the time, without the slightest bit of effort. He wished he'd had some opportunity to tell her so.
He chuckled as she crossly waved the microphone away and stalked back off to rejoin the others. The camera followed her.
"That's one fine specimen of woman right there," observed Rick. "I don't do cops, as a rule, but I'd be willing to make an exception for that one. Bet she's a wildcat in bed, she looks like the type."
"Shut up!" Jane snapped.
"What's it to you? She your girl or something?" asked Rick, pointing up at the screen.
"Sort of," said Jane, truthfully.
"What do you mean 'sort of?' She either is or she isn't."
"Well that's the woman I love," said Jane, and heaved a deep sigh. "But she was never mine."
"Huh," said Rick, thoughtfully. "That's rough. But you know, it'll probably make it easier in the long run."
"What makes you say that?"
"First time I was in lock-up, I had this girl Nancy. Not a whole lot going on upstairs but she had a slammin' body so I could overlook that." He grinned. "Anyway, for the first few months she was calling all the time, dropping by for the odd conjugal visit every now and then…we had some wild times," he added reminiscently. "But then after a while she just stopped calling, stopped visiting and when I saw her after I got out, she was married with a kid on the way."
"I'm sorry to hear that," said Jane.
Rick shrugged. "No big deal. She was a good lay, but that was about it. Anyway, the point is that while we're all stuck in this soul-sucking hellhole, outside time still goes on. Life doesn't stop for them just coz their boyfriend's in the clink. They go out, they meet other people and in the end they all decide you're not worth the trouble."
"Thanks a lot for that," said Jane, bleakly.
"Hey, that's the reality, man. No point sugar coating it. Once a felon always a felon. Even when you've paid your debt to society, the world never lets you forget you're an ex-con. You keep paying for it for the rest of your life. That's why so many reoffend, it's almost restful to get away from it all."
"Is that how you ended back up in here?"
"Nah," Rick chuckled. "Turned out the jewellery shop owner I tried to jack was an ex-marine. Had me in a headlock before I could even draw my gun. How's that for bad luck, eh? Anyway," he said, jabbing a finger towards the TV again. "You should be glad you and your cop lady never got it off the ground. Can't miss what you've never had."
Jane begged to differ. And he also thought there was quite a distinct difference between the loss of a casual sex partner and a soulmate. There'd always be some other pretty girl for Rick to sleep with, but it wasn't every day you found the love of your life, and if you ever were lucky enough to find her, you were supposed to hang on tight.
Well, he'd found her all right, however reluctant he may have been to admit it in the earlier stages. But he'd messed up the next part. He hadn't held onto her with everything he had.
And he'd let her slip away.
Lisbon closed the manila folder with a deep sigh. Though the quantity of paperwork had dropped dramatically since Jane had left, having less of the stuff didn't make it any less tedious.
She still thought about him often, as though some essence of him was still around, hanging over every cup of coffee or slice of case-closed pizza. She didn't dare mention this to the rest of the team who were all still quite happily hating the sheer memory of him, and never brought him up unless it was to abuse him or comment gleefully at how unpleasant life must be for him now in prison.
She wished that she could hate him too. She'd tried. God how she'd tried. Going over every wrong he'd ever done her in her head. Seeing the malice in his eyes as he'd run at her with a knife, but nothing worked.
What did he have to do to her to make her stop caring, short of killing her outright? It wasn't fair.
She partly resented the others for having it so easy. None of them had ever seen that under all that rage and twisted sense of justice, there'd been another side of Patrick Jane, one that she only ever had brief glimpses of.
Like the time when she thought they were dying and she'd asked if there was anyone he wanted to call and the only person he nominated had been herself.
Or the time when he danced with her at the high school reunion to her old favourite song and let her pretend he was "that mean cold-hearted guy you used to worship from afar but never talked to." (She'd sworn she'd never tell him so, but when he took her into his arms, that other guy was the furthest thing from her mind.)
Or the time he had told her that he needed her to know that she could trust him, and that no matter what happened, he would be there for her.
Or the time only weeks ago, when he had cradled her in his arms at his old family home and had made her feel safe, despite the peril they were both in.
Those fleeting flashes of human emotion had been enough to stop her from being able to move on, and it made her so angry she wanted to scream.
He'd done it on purpose, she thought savagely to herself. It was a slick new method of torture, designed especially for her, so that she'd never be able to truly let him go.
She couldn't give him up as a lost cause, not when she knew that sweet, caring side was there, buried deep within. And she'd been the only one he'd ever allowed to see it. She had once seen it as a compliment to be privy to the delicate mental state of Patrick Jane, but now it was nothing but a burden.
Things would have been so much easier if he really was the jerk he'd made himself out to be. She could be right now basking in the blissful state of indifference that her team were currently enjoying. There wouldn't be the tiny little voice inside her head whispering 'what if?'
Even though he was nowhere near her, he was still messing with her head. And she still couldn't hate him for it. Bastard.
Twenty-three hours a day in a small cell would be enough to drive anyone stir-crazy, and all the prisoners had to come up with their own means of entertainment to keep themselves from going insane.
Jane wrote letters.
Strictly speaking, pens were considered contraband, due to the possibility of them being used as a weapon, but Jane had managed to sweet-talk the night guard into giving him one, as well as a fresh pad of paper, each week. He'd just had to tell a heart-wringing tale of being separated from his love, and how if he wasn't able to write to her, he didn't know how he was going to cope.
It was easier to make it convincing because the story was completely, 100% true, he just neglected to mention the part where he didn't send them.
And so he wrote letters. He wrote to his wife, to his daughter (for both of these, he tore the paper up again as soon as he had finished.) He wrote to the team sometimes, he occasionally even wrote to Red John (the ideal scapegoat for his suppressed inner fury) but most of the time, he wrote letters to Lisbon.
Some comprised only a couple of paragraphs, others went on for pages and pages, so long that he'd have to use both sides of the pieces of paper just to get it all down.
Each time, he addressed it differently.
"My dear Lisbon…"
"To the world's moodiest CBI agent…"
But every letter ended in the exact same way, with the three words he hadn't ever been able to say, held back by fear. Fear for her safety, fear of losing her friendship, fear of being rejected, fear of having the woman he loved tell him that he just wasn't good enough. Which was true. Nobody was good enough for her as far as he was concerned, least of all himself, but unfortunately he wasn't able to switch off his feelings that easily.
So he kept writing to her, with each attempt hoping this time the words would come out right, but even when he got it perfect, he knew he'd never send it.
He might love her more than life itself, but he sure as hell didn't deserve her.
As more months passed, gradually Lisbon tried to purge Patrick Jane from her life. The most obvious reminder was the brown leather couch in the office, so that had been the first thing to go. She hadn't told the team she was doing it, just waited until they'd all gone home then had it packed up and taken away. She didn't care where it went, she just couldn't handle having it in her office anymore as a silent monument to Patrick Jane.
When the other three had arrived the next day, they'd all done a double take when they noticed the now-clear spot on the office floor and flicked curious glances over at Lisbon, inviting her to explain if she so desired, but didn't ask any questions.
The next thing she'd done was 'accidentally' knock his blue cup from the shelf and sent it hurtling to the floor. The saucer had gone the same way.
Getting rid of the physical reminders was easy. Getting rid of the memories was not. The best she could do when she caught herself thinking of him, was to force her mind onto something else.
After a while, she was able to go for several hours without him crossing her mind once, and when he did, rather than the pang she used to feel, there was only a slight twinge.
She figured that was as good as it was going to get. But then, life threw her another curveball. She met Shane.
July 1st 2011
I haven't seen you for over a year. My last memory of you is in that hospital room, looking so pale and exhausted. I see you and the team on the TV sometimes. You should really try and get Cho to look a little less intimidating though, it scares the crap out of the reporters who interview him.
I noticed in that report that you've stopped straightening your hair. I always liked it best when it had curls in it; it softens your face a little and it makes you look younger, and so beautiful. Even more so than usual.
I hope you're happy, and even though the very thought makes me want to punch something, I hope you've found someone who'll take care of you the way you deserve, just like I would've if I'd ever got the chance.
I love you,
Shane Weston was cute, smart, funny, caring, successful and a great lover. He ticked all the boxes on Lisbon's 'potential husband' checklist. He was exactly the kind of man she had always seen herself being with. The team thought he was great, her brothers and their families adored him. Everyone told her how lucky she was to have found someone so wonderful. It seemed that everyone was happy, except for her. It wasn't that she didn't love him, she would always be grateful to him for bringing her back into the world again, it was that Jane was always lurking in the back of her mind. They'd never had a chance to get this far. Maybe they could have been great as a couple. Maybe they could have had a life together.
And therein lay the root of her problem. Maybe. As long as there were 'maybes' she couldn't give her whole heart to Shane. Part of it would always belong to someone else.
December 15th 2013
My dear Lisbon,
It's cold today. We're all shivering in our cells because once again, the heating's out and the warden just thinks 'hey, who cares about the convicts, let them freeze to death."
Do you remember that night the heating went out at the CBI? It was just you and me, everyone else had gone home for the night and you were shivering so much that you couldn't even hold your pen steady to write your signature.
I offered you my jacket but you wouldn't take it, like the pigheaded, impossible woman you are. And then I thought about how I would much rather reach over and hold you instead, but I knew that if I even attempted it, I'd be flat on the floor in the blink of an eye.
I never had a girlfriend who could kick my ass, but I would've put up with the humiliation of it all quite happily if it meant I got to be with you. I would've done anything to have the right to say you were mine. Still would.
As long as I live, I'll never forgive myself for betraying you the way I did. I miss you every day, but I know you're somewhere out there (probably hunched over your computer in your office, biting your lip the way you do when you're trying to figure something out.) and I know your life is probably a hundred times better now that I'm not in it.
For the record, my life without you in it is a million times worse.
I love you,
After almost two years together, Shane proposed. Lisbon had been expecting it, he'd been edgy all week and he wasn't the greatest at keeping things to himself. That was one of the many differences between him and Jane, with Shane, there were no surprises. This was both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it meant no angry phone calls from witnesses or her boss, or awkward surprise birthday parties, which she'd always hated, even as a child. But it also meant no spontaneity, no dropping everything for a romantic weekend away, and no little presents just because he felt like it. It was like dating the male version of herself.
So she'd had plenty of time to prepare for what she was going to say.
Her father hadn't been the best of men, but one particular piece of advice he'd given her one day had stuck with her for her whole life. They'd been sitting at the kitchen table, he was between benders at that point, and almost totally coherent when he spoke to her.
"Tessie," he'd said to her. "I know that I'm no saint, but if you remember only one thing I ever tell you, make sure it's this. Never do anything if you can think of one good reason why you shouldn't."
So when she'd guessed the cause of her boyfriend's odd behaviour, Lisbon made sure to go home at a decent hour, opened a bottle of wine, and she thought.
One good reason. One totally logical, viable reason to turn down a man who loved her.
Shane was a good man. He cared about her, he made her laugh when she was sad and when she'd opened to up to him about her childhood one night (under the influence of too much tequila) he hadn't gone running scared like she'd thought he would.
But when he looked into her eyes, she didn't fall into a blissful oblivion. He didn't make the heat rise in her cheeks when he smiled at her. He didn't make her shiver when he touched her. Simply put, he wasn't Patrick Jane.
There was no getting around the fact that somewhere deep inside, she would always hold a candle for Patrick Jane. He'd always be a regret, the one that got away.
But she couldn't keep going on like this. Hanging onto the past, longing for a man she hadn't even seen in years, who had betrayed her in every possible way. She hadn't even told Shane about him, wanting to keep that part of her past to herself. She knew it wasn't fair to keep him in the dark about something so important, but she just couldn't bear even the thought of telling him.
The truth of the matter was this: She loved Shane. And despite all he had done to her, she loved Patrick Jane too.
One didn't marry someone when one was in love in with someone else. She had her reason. But was it a good reason? Should she really throw away the man who was willing to give her a home, and a family, on the account of another man who was so wounded and broken that she wasn't entirely sure if he would be the same person when he got out of prison, or if he even felt what she felt?
When Shane got down on one knee in the middle of a crowded resteraunt, and pulled a diamond ring out of his pocket, Lisbon hesitated for only a moment before nodding her acceptance and kissing him in front of the applauding patrons.
And so she was engaged, because there was no good reason that she shouldn't.
March 24th 2014
You don't mind if I call you by your first name, do you? We've known each other long enough now.
My cellmate got released today, and I never realized before that there was something in this place that was worse than boredom. Loneliness.
Sure, Rick was a little rough around the edges (you would've hated him) but he was company after all. We didn't even have to talk really, it was enough just to know that someone else was there, sharing the burden.
I'm so sick of being lonely. I was lonely after I lost my family. I shut everyone out who ever tried to help me, because I couldn't stand having anyone else's blood on my hands.
Then you came along, and suddenly I wasn't lonely anymore. There was a reason for me to get up in the morning. You brought me back to life when I was practically just a zombie, roaming around aimlessly through every day, waiting for the one when I found Red John again.
I never knew just how miserable I was until I met you.
It's been so long now, and still it hurts to think of you, but still I do it. Am I a masochist? I don't think so. I think I do it because the pain lets me know I'm still alive. It's hard to tell sometimes.
I saw Rigsby and Van Pelt's wedding announcement in the paper last week (I stole it off a guard.) Tell them congratulations from me. I always knew they'd find their way, eventually. They just needed a little push. (Well, a big push really, if Rigsby had been any slower about it, he would've been going backwards.)
I remember making him pay me a dollar so I could teach him about seduction. I don't even know what I told him now, but one thing I do know with absolute certainty is that it wouldn't have been enough to win your heart. You would've seen right through me. I could get minor stuff by you, but something as important as that, you would've called my bluff in an instant.
I love you,
Teresa Lisbon's wedding to Shane Weston was quite a small affair. Neither of them were the kind of people who liked a lot of fuss. Everyone remarked that she must be the most easygoing bride in history as she happily handed over all the planning to Van Pelt, her maid of honour.
She'd made only one request. When choosing the song for their first dance, Shane had suggested one that had long been a favourite of hers, and she had told him no.
She couldn't have 'More Than Words' played at her wedding to Shane when it was a song she associated with someone else. She couldn't have that one song become a part of two significant moments in her life. Also, she didn't want to taint the memory of that dance she 'd shared with Jane. She had so few good recollections of their time together that the loss of even one was practically catastrophic.
Shane, being the kind of guy he was, didn't even ask her why she was so against the idea and just suggested something else. He didn't poke and prod at her to try and get the truth. He just accepted her at her word. No probing around for some underlying cause.
She loved him for that.
August 7th 2018
My darling Teresa,
Saw you on the TV again today. Promoted to Hightower's old job. I'm so proud of you. I can't think of anyone else better.
I also noticed the ring on your finger and I'll admit I wasn't quite prepared for that. I guess a part of me still hoped that you would wait for me, but the bigger part of me is really glad that you didn't.
I'd really like to meet this husband of yours. I'm sure he's a great guy, you always had excellent judgement in these matters. Hopefully he knows how good he's got it and never takes you for granted.
I hope that when he looks at you, he sees you the way I do. To me, you're still as beautiful as you were the day I first laid eyes on you. All these years later, and you still take my breath away.
I love you,
The phone on the desk rang, shattering her concentration. She glared at it in annoyance, she needed to concentrate on this press release. She'd never appreciated how hard this job was until she'd had to do it herself.
"Hello?" she answered, briskly.
"Hello," said a gruff man's voice. "Is this Agent Teresa Lisbon?"
Despite being married to Shane for almost five years now, Lisbon had decided to keep her maiden name for work purposes. It made everything less confusing.
"This is Keith Hudson from the California State Correctional Facility."
"What can I do for you, Mr Hudson?"
"We have you listed as the next of kin for an inmate named Patrick Jane."
She dropped the phone in shock, and had to hasten to pick it up again.
"He had you down as emergency contact. You didn't know?"
"No. Why? What's happened? Is he all right?" asked Lisbon, imagining what terrible thing might have occurred for them to call her like this. Had he been beaten up, or shanked, or God forbid, killed?
"Everything's fine," said Hudson, impatiently. "In fact, he was paroled yesterday."
Relief washed over her.
"Oh thank God," she said. "But if nothing's wrong, why are you calling me?"
"Well, when he left yesterday Mr Jane left behind several personal effects. So far we've had no luck trying to track him down." That didn't surprise Lisbon in the slightest. They had no chance of finding Jane if he didn't want to be found. "We were wondering if you could come down and take them off our hands," continued Hudson. "We're tight on space right now and if you don't take 'em, they'll be incinerated."
It was almost the end of the day. She'd been looking forward to getting home and having a hot bath and an early night. Shane was going to a work function and wouldn't be home until late and she was overdue for a little 'me' time. But curiosity overtook her. What exactly had Jane left behind?
"Okay," she said into the phone. "I'll be there around six."
The badly-shaven guard behind the desk pressed a shoebox into Lisbon's hands. "Here's all his stuff," he grunted.
"That's it?" Lisbon asked, looking dubiously at it.
The guard shrugged.
"He was a strange guy. Model prisoner, never caused any trouble or nothin' but all introverted you know. Barely spoke two words to anyone the whole time he was here."
Back in her car, Lisbon lifted the lid on the shoebox. There were precious few items inside. There was a brown leather belt, his old cell phone, his car keys, and a single sheet of paper.
She picked it up and turned it over.
May 18th 2020,
To my Teresa,
You wouldn't believe how many times I've rewritten this letter over the years, but I think I've finally figured it out.
I love you.
Always have. Always will.
Just for clarification purposes, in case I didn't make it clear, Jane never sent Lisbon any of those letters.
So there you have it folks! I'm sorry I couldn't give them a real reconciliation, but I just didn't think it would fit in with the story, and besides it's dark and windy outside, perfect weather for writing angst. I hope you like what I came up with. I'm pretty happy with it!
Thank you to everyone who's reviewed and stuck with this story despite the slow updates, I've appreciated all your feedback and even though this story is done and dusted I've still got "Dual Deception" on the go, if anyone's interested.
Thank you, and good night.