Author's Note: Final chapter. Part of me is happy, part is sad. Thank you all for reading!
CHAPTER 9 Going Home
"Come on," Jane chided as Lisbon helped him ease himself into the passenger seat of her car, "it makes perfect sense and you know it."
"You can't be overdoing it, or you'll end up back in the hospital."
"I promise—I'll only go from the couch to the kitchen and the bathroom. Oh, and of course the vending machine for chips. Maybe the occasional candy bar. I'll go home to shower. I'm supposed to walk around—it speeds recovery from the surgery, and I'll be able to help on cases."
Lisbon agreed grudgingly. "Minelli won't like it."
"Well...it reduces my risk of clots or stroke!" he said adamantly, "and this was an on the job injury, you'll recall."
"Minelli still won't like it," she repeated.
"You can handle Minelli," Jane insisted. "Oh," he said, looking at her again, more carefully. "I see. You've already cleared it with him!" He shook his finger at her. "You tried to trick me."
"No field work," Lisbon clarified, ignoring the jibe.
"Deal. No field work. Unless—"
"No!" Lisbon snapped. "No field work, Jane!"
"Okay, no field work, for awhile."
"Until your doctor clears you."
"Doctors don't know everything. It's called practicing medicine because—"
"NOT until your doctor clears you," Lisbon maintained. "One wrong punch to the face and you could re-break your cheekbone!"
"It was only cracked," he corrected her. "Not even a real break."
Lisbon pulled the "boss" card and started to stare him down.
Jane sat back and put both hands in the air in defeat. "Okay, okay! You win. That couch is going to feel so good. Thank you Lisbon, for everything."
Lisbon shut the engine off and faced Jane. "There's something I need to tell you."
"Okay, I'm listening."
"I saw you doing the magic show for the kids yesterday. It…it was very sweet."
Jane bowed his head slightly and chuckled awkwardly. "Yeah, well. I saw you there too."
"You did not!" she insisted.
"Yes, to the right of the elevators, standing next to the balding but bearded doctor with the Gumby neck tie."
"You didn't let on that you saw me."
"You didn't look like you wanted to be seen."
"You were in your element. I didn't want to intrude."
"Well, you could have joined me as…as… My Lovely Assistant, Teresa. Of course, then you would have had to wear a sparkly leotard…of course it would've had to be revealing but...not in front of the children."
She slapped his shoulder and laughed.
Then he faced her and smiled. "I guess you can take the boy out of the carnival, but you can't take the carnival out of the boy."
"I heard a lot of laughing. You were laughing too. It was a great sound."
"It felt good," he admitted, taking a deep breath. "There's something I just can't quite figure out," Jane said with an uncharacteristically puzzled expression on his face.
"Patrick Jane stumped?" Lisbon chided, still in her parking place. "I didn't think that was possible."
Jane raised an eyebrow and nodded, "Well I agree it is highly unusual. I'm trying to make sense of why you feel so out of sorts."
"Out of sorts? Who's out of sorts!" she argued.
"So guilty—other than the obvious…"
"The obvious?" Lisbon answered, fingering the cross pendant she always wore around her neck.
"Your Catholic upbringing," Jane stated with a smirk as Lisbon frowned and let go of the gold pendant. "It seems to have predisposed you to feeling guilty. I hear it's quite common…"
"My Catholic upbringing has nothing to do with me feeling guilty," Lisbon defended. She adjusted her rearview mirror needlessly.
"A-ha!" Jane pointed at her, his eyebrows raised. "Then you do admit you feel guilty about something. Something that seems to have a lot to do with me, which I can't figure out because you did, after all, save my life and help nurse me back to health…"
Lisbon turned in her seat and faced him suddenly, her emotions ready to explode. "Save your life? Are you kidding me? I have no business using you like this! You almost died, and I didn't protect you! That's my job! You're not a cop! You didn't have a gun—I did! You're not trained. You're a consultant; you're not supposed to be put in dangerous and volatile situations. I was irresponsible! I should have told you no! Hell, I didn't even know you'd been stabbed! Even after you passed out! This whole thing scared the crap out of me! And now I'm letting you come right back into the lion's den? What kind of person am I?"
Jane's bemused expression did nothing to calm her.
Lisbon's rant continued. "Dammit, Jane! You could at least yell at me or something! You stood there in my office bleeding to death and I was mad because I thought you just fainted. Which is stupid that I would think that because I've seen plenty of bad things happen to you and in front of you and you aren't a fainting kind of man. So I'm just so MAD at myself and you should be mad at me too, but instead, you sit there—"
"Did you roll your eyes?" Jane asked out of nowhere.
Lisbon stared at him in disbelief. "What?"
"Thank back. When you thought I fainted. Did you roll your eyes? Because if you did, I didn't see it."
"What?" she repeated, dumbfounded. "What does that have to do with anything?" Jane had effectively thrown her off her downward spin.
"Calm down, please, Lisbon," Jane said, this time gently… even tenderly.
Lisbon's blazing eyes softened. She slid down into her bucket seat and swiped at a tear that dared to escape her eyes.
"Look at me," Jane asked warmly.
She couldn't ignore the silky voice. But to look at those eyes would be to bare her soul. "I hate to cry," she sniffed. "I'm not a crier."
"Please," he added, seeing her hesitation. "I know you're not a crier."
Her eyes finally met his. He smiled. "Thank you. Thank you for saving my life… in more ways than you know."
She felt a lump in her throat and shook her head as she opened her mouth to speak.
Jane held up a hand. "Hear me out. If you hadn't gone with me that night—if you had said it was too dangerous, or stupid, or a bad idea, or anything, you know I would have ignored you and done it anyway by myself."
She started to speak, but he cut her off. "Come on, Lisbon, you know I would have done it anyway. And instead of stabbing me to disable me so he could use me as a shield, he would have just slit my throat or left me there to bleed to death, and I'd be dead. Stan might or might not have found me, and it probably wouldn't have made any difference. Then you would feel guilty that you didn't come with me, and I wouldn't be around to tell you not to feel guilty because even that wouldn't have been your fault."
"I'm not done yet, and this isn't easy for me." Jane took another deep breath. "I'm not especially fond of sharing my feelings, except perhaps disapproval, but seeing that you're berating yourself over something that you didn't have the power to prevent, I need to tell you. So please indulge me."
Lisbon could hear the intensity behind Jane's words. Intensity she had only heard in the past when he confronted a murderer or talked about Red John. "I'm listening."
"I've never really considered my own death before. Not close up and in my face. At least not when I was thinking rationally. I've been consumed by the deaths of my wife and child and never thought of my own mortality. I didn't care. You were right back when you told me I would choose life. That there are people…people who care about me."
Lisbon swallowed to ease the tension in her throat as another stray tear traced down her cheek. Jane reached up and wiped away the tear with his thumb. Her skin tingled under his touch.
Leaning across the seat tugged at his incision site, but he didn't care. He sighed deeply. "I want to live." He lowered his hand.
"To avenge their deaths…" Lisbon continued for him.
"Yes, but more. There's more now. Maybe something after Red John. You have given me that."
"More?" Her green eyes locked on his blue, hoping that he couldn't read her mind.
"More," he affirmed before he lowered his gaze. "I've said enough."
Lisbon cleared her throat. "I'm not sure what to say."
"You don't have to say anything." He looked back at her eyes. "There are many things I want to see when I look in your soulful emerald eyes, and guilt is not one of them. Never guilt. Guilt belongs to other people. Not to you. "
"Let's get out of here." It was clear he had just closed the subject, at least for the time-being.
"Hey Jane?" Lisbon added as she began to back up out of her parking place.
Jane looked up.
"I'm glad your eyes got their sparkle back."
Jane flashed her a dazzling smile. "Hey, did you see my fruit basket? It's from Minelli. I'll let you have the strawberries…"
"I'm not going to take your strawberries!"
"Relax, Lisbon, it's not a forbidden fruit."
"I don't do forbidden fruits," Lisbon clarified.
Jane laughed out loud. "You certainly don't," he agreed, his eyes twinkling with mischief.
Lisbon's face turned scarlet with embarrassment. "That's not what I meant, and you know it! It didn't come out right."
"They're dipped in white chocolate…" he taunted.
Oooh. Lisbon did her best to suppress a smile. "Well, maybe one. Two at the most. But don't be thinking that will let you get away with stuff. I'm still 99% immune to your strawberries and charm."
"A-ha! So you admit that I have charm. I knew it!"
Lisbon rolled her eyes.
"I saw that!"
"Let's get you home."
Again, thank you for reading and supporting this passion!