The man sentenced for life pretended to sleep, ignoring his cellmate's reluctant removal. He wished the best for the charming man, but he knew better than to anger the guards.
Jane endured the worst of prison politics. The guards did their best to humiliate and grind him into submission. When he would not submit, they released their primal domination in the darkest recesses of the prison. The results were brutal.
In the prison infirmary, they stopped bleeding and sutured torn skin. A couple of days later they sent him to his cell for the process to repeat.
He curled up into a ball on the cell floor. His cellmate carefully placed him on the lower bunk. Jane refused leave the lower bunk, avoiding any social interaction. He mulled over why the guards had it in for him. Who had the connections to make this happen? Roscoe was a decent man and too intelligent to compromise or debase his position in CBI. Gang bangers would enlist prisoners to do the deed. This was either mob influence or Red John. At some point in time, one of the guards would become lax and give up a clue.
After missing two meals, the guards forced him to walk to the evening meal. At the top of three flights of stairs, a guard behind him casually kicked behind the knee causing Jane's leg to collapse, falling down the next flight of steps. His head hit the rail, his face bloodied, more bruises to hide. He grasped the railing pulling up and continued to the cafeteria. The food was horrid. He ate little but met the requirement for attending one meal out of three. He ignored all of Lisbon's requests to see him. A new day dawned; he endured more of the same.
Later in the week, the guards told him he must meet with the CBI. The damage from falling down the stairs once a day was telling by the bruising. His prison garb hid most signs of abuse. He headed into the interview room confident he could hide his physical distress but he couldn't hide the bruises on his face.
She watched him quietly, studying his face; examining him head to toe. A deep frown etched her features. She felt the stiffness in his stance. "Tell me about the bruises." He squirmed, uncomfortable in her gaze. "I'm a klutz. What can I say, I fall down a lot."
"Liar, tell me what is going on here." She frowned, noticing the torn damaged wrists, obviously caused by tight handcuffs.
He couldn't meet her stare, his eyes downcast. This wasn't her battle. He wouldn't let her give up anything to save a worm like himself. "Please Lisbon, I'm fine. Don't involve yourself. I screwed up and I'm paying the price."
"Jane, I've been trying to see you for several days. They said you were in the prison hospital. What happened to you?"
He sighed, "I told you, I fell down the steps". He avoided her gaze. He wouldn't discuss this with her or anyone else.
"Jane, until you trust me enough to be honest there is nothing I can do to help you."
"I understand." Jane stood up slowly and turned away, motioning for the guards.
Lisbon watched him leave the visitor's room. He did not deserve this punishment. This sick game had to end. She knew Boscoe's biggest skeleton and use it to get Jane out of prison.
After a couple of weeks, the paperwork was completed and Jane released. Lisbon waited outside the prison gates. She watched his slow progress to freedom. He was obviously in pain and unable walk with his normal casual grace. What did those bastards do to him? He didn't see her until she tapped his shoulder. He cringed and pulled away. "Oh, Lisbon."
"Need a ride home?"
Jane nodded, avoiding the unwanted questions. The last thing he wanted was her scrutiny and pity. He stiffly locked his seat belt and stared out the window. He occasionally mumbled something unintelligent and hummed a simple tune. She left him to his inner musing knowing he was off, lacking the normal air of annoying confidence. As hard as it was for her, she would wait until they got close to CBI before engaging relevant conversation.
Traffic was stop and go, giving them both time to adjust and think. Selfishly she was glad he was free. She had never seen him awkward and silent, tortured in turmoil beyond the usual Red John case. Something very bad happened to him in prison. He was lost, violently seeking center. His breathing was fast, then after humming a tune his breathing would even. He repeated the cycle in broken steps.
The only solid ground she understood was the obvious physical distress. Clinging to the one fact, he was in pain. She wanted to eliminate the physical condition.
"Jane, I can see you're hurting. I'm taking you to the hospital."
Jane straightened up, bravely fighting his inner demons. "No. I'm tired. I have a clean bill of health from the prison hospital. I want to go to my apartment." Under normal circumstances, he would never want to go to his apartment. Something very bad was going on with him and she was worried.
"Jane, how many times did you fall down the steps after the hospital released you?" He continued to hum ignoring the question. "Jane!"
"Yea?" He continued to stare outside the window. "Lisbon, watch the road please, don't get us both killed." She steered the car toward the local hospital and pulled up to the emergency entrance. Jane sat quietly until she opened her door. He launched out of the car in the opposite direction of the hospital. He did his best to gain distance from Lisbon and the hospital. She followed him until his energy failed. He sat stranded on a bus bench, his mind swirling and body drenched in self-hatred.
"Lisbon, stop. I just need to go to my apartment."
Lisbon tried pulling the boss card. "Jane, it's ok. You need to get checked out before you can get back to work."
He shivered and turned away. "I don't care about work. Please, no hospital."
She was lost. There was no controlling him. Her hand covered his. "Jane, please talk to me."
Jane didn't care as long as he could him be alone. Everything he endured in prison, he selfishly deserved. His anger centered on knowing she gave up something with Bosco to get him out. He stood up for the approaching bus, not caring where it went as long as it was away from away from her.
Lisbon grasped his hand. "OK, you win. I'll take you to your apartment. Hightower has given you week's suspension. I expect you back to work in a week."
Jane knew he needed her; he needed them, all of them. For the team, not himself, he let her take him to his empty apartment. He closed the door in her face, sliding to the floor. His weakness flowed through body and spirit. He slept where he fell, his back against the front door.
Lisbon understood his need for privacy, but she worried. He shouldn't be alone now. He needed to know how important he was to her… to the team. She wasn't the only one worried. He didn't understand human comfort and neither did she, until now. She needed to know if he was to be trusted to take care of himself. She decided to give him some time and waited outside in her car watching.
Hours later Jane woke aching. The hard floor was not the best place to sleep, but more comforting than a prison cell. The jail experience changed him. He was upset at the humiliation endured, but not the pain. No matter how much he suffered, nothing could ever match the torture his innocent family endured. When I kill Red John, I will confess. Life in prison is not enough and death would be too easy.
He paced the room his bruised body screaming at his pride and greed. A full week before he could be back with them. Finally, he turned off the lights and stumbled onto the couch, the only piece of furniture in the apartment.
Lisbon watched the lights go off in the apartment. She couldn't argue with the fact that the prison hospital had given medical release. She didn't trust the prison, but she couldn't legally force him to go to a local hospital. Reluctantly she headed home. He was hiding something, but she didn't have the heart to confront him. She knew the cold hard truths of prison and it hurt her that he accepted them without complaint.
Jane slept, his dreams filled with cries of mercy for his wife and child, his muscles twisted and cramped, sweat covered him, and cold knifed his guilt. They didn't do anything wrong, but he did. In a semi state of awareness, his calves' cramp screaming, ego diminished him to a lowly pawn. He dug this hole and he was pulling others into the downward spiral.
The next week was hard on Jane and the people who cared. Cho, Rigsby, Van Pelt and Lisbon tried to get him to open the door. He stubbornly refused their attention. He leaned against the door wanting to reach out and touch them, hold them and cry, but he couldn't. He didn't want their pity.
Early Monday morning, a week after his suspension, he relaxed into the worn leather couch at CBI. The smell of the couch and the noises of the office were comforting. He put on his best game face and waited. The sound of Lisbon's soft determined footsteps came first. She quietly studied him before dealing the customary kick to wake him. Jane smiled and stretched before he opened his eyes. "Lisbon." He yawned avoiding her stare.
"Jane, glad to see you are up to no good as usual."
"Lisbon, you know me too well."
Satisfied with his banter, she moved to her office to deal with the boring details of paperwork.
A few minutes later Van Pelt's lavender scented soap and click of heels greeted Jane. Hesitantly she approached Jane's couch. He appeared to be sleeping. He had lost weight and dark crescent shadows ringed his eyes. He looked thin, pale and tired. A quiet sigh escaped her lips. He was back and she felt great relief to see him again. She wanted to reach out and hug him, but she knew to respect his distance. She hesitantly went to her desk, eyes lingering over his prone body. His breathing wasn't even; he was hurting, not sleeping. She sent him a silent prayer.
The scent of a fresh morning shower and steady footsteps announced the most observant member of the team, Cho, objective and straight to the point. The man wouldn't meddle unless duty or friendship required his attention. He was the man to be trusted not to pry.
Cho arrived at the office noticing Jane hiding physical discomfort lounging on the couch. For the sake of keeping out of office politics, he decided to wait to see if Jane's problems compromised a case. He knew better than to ask questions for which there would never be an honest answer.
Lastly, Rigsby entered the bullpen. His freshly showered after shave and heavy footsteps were obvious. He stumbled at the sight of Jane. A quick glance at Grace and Cho reassured him the apparition on the couch was indeed Jane. Van Pelt shot him a warm grin, Cho a pleasant stare. He wanted to touch Jane to see if he was real but restrained himself. Before he could stop himself, "Jane you look like shit!"
Jane smiled keeping his eyes closed. "Rigsby, I'm happy to see you, too."
If this was Red John, he would hunt him down for the torture and death of his wife and child. The game would only end when Red John was dead. For any other avenging criminal, they were his pawns in the game to find Red John.
CBI team members worried too much about him, but he would do anything to keep them safe and out of reach of his own self-destruction.