Alright, here comes the first half of the Jello-forever Summer Secret Santa deluge. All of my fic are gifts for Nellie (aka. NellietheMarvelous). The first prompt is Shoes. And the whole thing pretty much sprung to mind fully formed when I read it. I hope you enjoy.
As always, I own nothing.
Walking a mile
Teresa Lisbon was on the phone. She had been for over half an hour now. First it had been a call from the local sheriff from their most recent case regarding persons employed by the CBI tampering with a supposedly sealed crime scene, and did they think that just because they worked for the state that they were above the law? Then it had been a local businessman angry about how he'd been spoken to while being interviewed, as well as being tricked into thinking his business affairs had utterly collapsed, supposedly to solve a murder.
Rigsby, Van Pelt and Cho were at their desks in the bullpen busying themselves with paperwork while pointedly trying not to watch their boss as she paced around her desk desperately trying to keep her cool.
"Oh, she's going for the desk drawer," Rigsby muttered.
"Thirty-seven minutes before reaching for the Tylenol," Cho replied. "She lasted longer than I thought."
Van Pelt winced. "You guys seriously thought it was a good idea to let Jane speak to Mr. Harrington alone?"
"Hey, it's not like we knew what he was gonna do," Rigsby defended.
"And we caught the guy," Cho added.
Van Pelt sighed before going back to her paperwork. "Still…" she said, trailing off. There was no point in placing blame, but the outcome here did seem rather predictable.
Suddenly a fourth voice, one that'd been notably silent joined the conversation. "They're quite right you know," Jane told her. "I certainly didn't tell them I was planning on antagonizing Mariposa's enterprising local entrepreneur."
"Yeah, but at this point they probably could have assumed," Van Pelt muttered.
If Jane heard her he didn't show it, choosing instead to open his eyes, sit up and continue his line of thought. "I needed Harrington on edge so we could catch his secretary trying to frantically dispose of the evidence proving her guilt in all the kerfuffle. And it's not like I actually caused his business to completely collapse Grace; I just made it look like I had. Now everything goes back to normal, well, except for the secretary I suppose. She'll have a trial in her future I'd imagine."
"Harrington's family was threatening to sue the CBI for emotional distress!" Van Pelt told him.
Rigsby snickered, but wisely turned it into a cough before the female agent noticed.
"Nah," Jane said, waving a hand at her. With that he stood, stretched and added, "I'm going to get some tea. Anyone else want some?"
Waiting for all three agents to refuse the offer Jane just shrugged. He glanced towards Lisbon's office in time to see her put down her phone and briefly rub one of her temples. He frowned; maybe she could do with a cup of tea. It might relax her.
Before he could make his way over to her office he noticed Hightower briskly walking down the hallway towards the Serious Crimes Unit.
"Uh oh," Rigsby muttered.
Completely ignoring the three agents plus one consultant who were obviously all watching her, Hightower turned quickly into Lisbon's office.
"Agent Lisbon," she said sharply. "Could I see you for a moment in my office?"
Lisbon was already up from her desk nodding, "Of course ma'am."
Without another word the two women walked briskly down the hall away from the rest of the team.
Jane suddenly felt three glares turn his way. "Oh come on guys, it'll be fine," he insisted.
"You sure? Because that didn't look fine," Cho told him.
Jane waved him off again, "Lisbon'll get everything under control."
"If you say so," Cho replied.
"Oh come on," Jane exclaimed. "Hightower doesn't actually want to fire Lisbon. She's just trying to exert control. It's the posturing of a new authority figure. I promise you it'll be fine."
"Yeah, Lisbon might get suspended again, but it's not like she'll actually lose her job," Cho said dryly.
Jane sighed, "Lisbon's not going to get suspended."
"Okay," Cho responded with a shrug.
Jane frowned again as he glanced down the hall on the way to get his tea. Cho didn't have to be so negative about everything. Things might be awkward for a few days, but they'd sort themselves out. He was sure of it. Lisbon was diplomatic enough to work at the UN. Everything would be fine.
About half an hour later Jane felt someone kick his couch.
"Well hello to you too Lisbon," he said trying to hide his wince.
"Alright," she told him brusquely. "Here's what's going to happen. You are going to write a letter of apology to Harrington and you are going to sign it. And before you send it, you are going to show it to me so I can make sure you haven't written anything completely offensive. Once he gets his signed letter of apology Harrington has agreed to drop the lawsuit. If you don't show me a letter by tomorrow morning I'm going to type one up and forge your signature myself. Are we clear?"
"Forging a signature Agent Lisbon," Jane told her, "Tsk tsk. That hardly sounds legal."
"You're one to talk about legalities," she shot back. "And right now I don't care. Write it or don't, an apology is going out with the mail tomorrow Jane. A thorough apology. And if I write it, you'll be grovelling."
With that she turned on her heel and marched out of the bullpen, ignoring Rigsby who was again snickering into his file.
Jane considered her request for a few seconds before standing up and walking into her office.
"It seems ridiculous that I have to apologize to someone for catching a killer Lisbon," he told her. "I mean, it's not like Harrington actually lost any money. It's the principle of the thing."
"The principle of the thing?" she asked in disbelief.
"Yes," he told her.
"Because it was absolutely necessary for you to do what you did to solve the case," she asked.
Jane paused considering, "Well…"
"It was absolutely 100% necessary for you to turn that family's life upside down?" Lisbon double-checked. "You couldn't have just engineered a far less disruptive con to freak out the secretary? Like maybe making her think we were on to her?"
"Where's the fun in that?" Jane asked her with a grin.
"Exactly," Lisbon concluded with a nod. "You had your fun. And since that fun was so important to you I'm sure you won't mind apologizing for it now."
Jane put on his most wheedling tone, "Oh come on Lisbon, you know this idea of Hightower's is ridiculous…"
"Who said it was Hightower's idea?" she interrupted. "The only reason we're both standing here right now is that I'd already talked Harrington out of suing if you apologized."
"Technically I'd be standing here either way," Jane couldn't help pointing out.
Lisbon slammed a file down on her desk. "Yeah, well, since I wouldn't be I guess I figured I'd better be the one to come up with a solution. I've spent almost two hours now cleaning up your mess. The least you could do is sign a stupid letter. And if you don't, I'll write one that'll make you sound so apologetic you'll wish you'd just gone along with things."
Hm, she was really quite angry. That was upsetting to him. "Come on Lisbon, we did catch the guy."
"Yeah we did," Lisbon admitted easily. "Now I'm doing the rest of my job. I'm protecting my team, this building and myself…"
"Pretty sure the building's safe, unless Harrington decides to become a mad bomber or an arsonist," Jane interrupted.
Lisbon ignored him, continuing on with her previous train of thought. "And I'm making sure that the charges actually stick. You can go play your little games Jane. I'll be the one holding everything together when you're done."
"I didn't mean to…" Jane started.
"I know," Lisbon replied with a sigh. "But this happened anyway. And now you're going to apologize for it. Or I'll do it for you."
"You know I could probably get the letter out of the mail," Jane couldn't help pointing out.
Lisbon sighed, "Then you'll be without my company for two weeks, and you'll have to count on Cho to save your sorry ass."
Jane did a double take, clearly surprised.
"Most people have to deal with cause and effect Jane," Lisbon told him calmly. "You don't for the most part. You run around playing your games, and that's fine. You solve cases. That's what you're here for. But you have no idea what it's like living in my world. You really want to protect me like you sometimes claim? Then don't fight this. This time it's an easy fix. In my job it's not enough to solve cases. There's a public face to this unit, and that's me. You think the apology's tough? Try my life."
With that she left the office.
Jane frowned. He didn't like it when Lisbon was mad at him. This would take some careful thought to fix.
He ambled out of her office only to see Hightower leaning in a doorway across the hall.
"Guess her job's harder than you thought," the woman remarked. "She's spent the last few hours getting the pair of you out of trouble. And that's just the time you know about. She's a better boss than you deserve Patrick. If I were you I wouldn't screw it up."
And with that Jane watched a second woman walk away from him.
He frowned. Yes, this would definitely require careful consideration.
And why did no one think he didn't understand Lisbon's job?
Jane strolled into the CBI the next morning humming to himself.
"Morning all," he greeted the team. "Our lovely little leader in yet? What am I saying? Of course she is." Then without another word he headed towards Lisbon's office.
"He seem particularly weird today to anyone else?" Rigsby asked.
"It's the shoes," Cho told him matter-of-factly.
Rigsby's forehead wrinkled in confusion; he glanced at Van Pelt, who merely shrugged in response. Rigsby shrugged back, deciding to wait for Jane's return to investigate further.
Meanwhile, Jane was already knocking on Lisbon's door before poking his head in. "Morning Lisbon," he greeted her cheerfully.
"Morning Jane," she replied, somewhat surprised at his good mood. She'd expected either defiant or petulant given the previous day's little incident.
Her surprise turned into downright shock when he pulled a folded piece of paper from his jacket pocket and handed it to her. "One signed letter of apology, as requested," he told her with a grin. "Pretty tactful if I do say so myself, especially given the complete arrogance of the recipient. Take it Lisbon, it won't bite you."
Lisbon cautiously took the paper from him and unfolded it, whereupon she got the third surprise of her morning. The letter was tactful. In fact it was downright polite, and easily as diplomatic as anything she would have typed out herself and signed his name to. "This is… this is… wow. Thank you Jane," she told him sincerely.
"You're welcome Lisbon."
"Wait, you're not planning on switching this letter for another one when my back is turned are you?" she asked suspiciously.
"Nope," Jane answered cheerfully.
"And you're not going to somehow prevent this from reaching its destination?" she double-checked.
"Not at all. Upon further consideration I decided it probably wasn't worth the trouble of arguing with the cretin, even if we did solve his case and his attitude smacks, quite frankly of ingratitude." Lisbon couldn`t help grinning slightly as he continued. "But in this instance I have decided to be the bigger man, secure in the knowledge that not only did I solve the murder, but I also have the moral high ground."
"Well, good for you Jane," Lisbon said, "This certainly makes my morning easier."
He shrugged, "Apparently there's more to this job than just catching murders. Although between you and me, that's definitely the fun part."
Lisbon grinned, "Yeah. Yeah, it is. Alright, thanks again Jane."
He just nodded and left her office.
Lisbon walked him go with a shake of her head, unsure of what had prompted the change of heart. Not that she was complaining of course, but something was definitely different. She couldn't quite put her finger on it though.
Jane walked back into the bullpen. "Well, now that I've finished my task for the morning I think I'll take a nap," he announced as he wandered over to the couch.
Rigsby and Van Pelt were both watching him out of the corner of their eyes. When he put his feet up on the couch Rigsby's eyes almost popped out of his head in shock.
Jane was wearing loafers.
It was a few hours later before Rigsby got up the courage to broach the subject. For one, Jane was finally definitely awake. The blond consultant was sitting on the couch flipping through a file. Even stranger, he appeared to be making notes.
"Nice shoes man," Rigsby said suddenly.
"Thank you," Jane said.
"Any particular reason for the change?" Rigsby asked.
Jane put his file down and turned his attention to the younger man. "Do I need a reason to get new shoes?" he asked.
"Well, you have been wearing the same ugly shoes for the past two years," Rigsby pointed out.
"True, very true," Jane agreed. "I thought it was time for a new footwear experience."
"And how's it going for you so far?" Rigsby asked.
"Quite interesting actually," Jane told him cheerfully.
"Any particular reason you basically bought the male version of the shoes Lisbon wears every day?" Cho asked, interrupting the conversation.
Jane grinned, "That's very observant Cho."
"This have anything to do with you actually being cooperative today?" Rigsby asked.
"You mean has my footwear somehow altered my personality?" Jane asked.
"Well…" Rigsby faltered. When Jane put it like that it sounded ridiculous.
Suddenly the conversation was interrupted by Lisbon herself. "Jane, I don't suppose you've actually looked at the Miller file like I asked you."
"Reading through it as we speak my dear," he told her.
Lisbon stopped walking abruptly, "Really?" she asked intrigued. Apparently Jane was full of pleasant surprises today.
Jane held up the file he was holding. "I'm even making notes. I'll give it to you when I'm done."
"Oh," she said, surprised again. "Well… good."
Jane smiled at her, before pulling a second file out of the couch cushions. "I have however finished flipping through the Goldburg file if you'd like that one."
"So… you're actually catching up on paperwork?" Lisbon asked, dumbfounded.
Lisbon couldn't help a brief flash of anxiety at that thought. "Jane this isn't some…"
"Pre-emptive attempt to get on your good side because I've got something positively diabolical planned later that will make you lose sleep?" Jane asked with a sunny smile. "Nope. Just trying to be a good consultant."
"Okaaayyy," Lisbon said, drawing out the word. "Well good."
"Hey boss, you see Jane's new shoes?" Rigsby asked cheerfully. "Apparently he's trying something new."
"Uh, no." Lisbon said glancing at her consultant's feet. Sure enough Jane wasn't wearing the ugly brown things he so often wore. "They're very nice Jane," she told him politely.
"Thank you Lisbon," he replied.
"They're loafers," Rigsby added with a grin. "Very sensible footwear," he added. Van Pelt tried to hide her face behind her computer screen.
"I can see that," Lisbon said, mildly confused. Then shaking her head, she headed back to her office. "Just drop that file off when you're done Jane."
"Absolutely," he said as he scribbled something in the margin.
It was fairly late in the evening when Jane dropped the file off at Lisbon's office. So late that the rest of the team had already left. "Here's that file you wanted Lisbon," he told her as he walked in. "Sorry it took so long, but I got distracted when Cho started trying to surreptitiously send text messages to his girlfriend."
Lisbon smirked, "Hey, I'm just impressed you did it at all."
Jane grinned in response.
"Ah, Jane?" Lisbon asked suddenly. "Is something going on with you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Oh come on, you willingly write a letter of apology to an arrogant idiot when normally you'd just wave it off and leave me to deal with it, you're willingly doing paperwork, I haven't gotten a single complaint about you all day, and apparently you've bought new shoes. That's more change in twenty-four hours than I usually see from you in a month."
"You don't like the shoes?" Jane asked.
"I already told you that I liked them fine," Lisbon replied.
"I should hope so," Jane retorted. "Since you're wearing an almost identical pair."
Lisbon froze. She'd thought the shoes had looked familiar, but she hadn't made the connection until he'd pointed it out.
Jane continued on blithely. "I can see why you like them of course. Very practical, excellent arch support and a high level of comfort. They're not very flashy, but they're classics. And they get the job done very efficiently. As new experiences go I have to say this one has been quite eye-opening."
"Why?" Lisbon asked.
"Ah, that's the question isn't it?" Jane replied enthusiastically. "Apparently no one seems to think I understand your job Agent Lisbon."
"And loafers help you do that?" Lisbon asked, still confused by his reasoning.
Jane shrugged. "Well, you know what they say dear, if you want to get to know a person, walk a mile in their shoes."
"That's why you've been so cooperative all day, you've been, I don't know..." Lisbon trailed off, searching for the right words.
Jane sighed. "I do appreciate the things you do for me Lisbon," he told her softly. "You probably do more that I'm not even aware of. And I know it doesn't seem like it, but I do appreciate it. All of it. Hence the Lisbon loafers."
"Well... I... Thank you Jane," Lisbon looked down and busied herself with her files. "But don't think this means I'm coming in tomorrow wearing ratty old brown dress shoes tomorrow," she told him semi-seriously.
Jane grinned, "We'll start slowly, maybe switch some of that coffee for tea."
Jane glanced around. "Does this mean I can nap on your couch again?"
"I never said you couldn't," Lisbon couldn't help pointing out.
"Well, no," the consultant conceded. "But it's no fun napping in your office when you're mad at me. The irritation just roles off you in waves."
Lisbon sat back in her chair and smiled indulgently at him, "Yes Jane, you can lay on my couch if you like."
"Excellent," he said as he walked over to her couch.
"So what'd you think?" she asked as soon as he was settled.
"Of the loafers?" she clarified, "What did you think?"
"Oh." Jane considered the request, "Like I said, very practical, and not without their good points. But they're far too responsible for every day."
"Of course they are," Lisbon said dryly with a shake of her head.
"I assume however that you'll be switching to tea tomorrow," Jane teased.
Lisbon threw a pen at him.
Jane dodged it easily, raising his hands in self defence. "Kidding, kidding. Calm yourself woman. I promise not to take away your coffee. I'll even go and get you one of those flavoured ones you like from the place on the corner if you'll wait a few minutes. They always make a new batch on the hour and you know you always like your hazelnut cream better when it's fresh."
Lisbon returned to her files clearly pleased, "Okay."
Jane her make a note in one of her files through half-closed eyes. He sighed dramatically, "Alright, alright. Every day's a bit much, but I suppose I could wear the loafers every once and a while. For the experience of course."
Lisbon's pen stopped moving mid-sentence. "I suppose I could switch to tea for a day and see how it goes," she admitted grudgingly.
Jane's eyes opened wide in surprise.
"If you make it for me of course," she added.
Jane grinned, burrowing deeper into her couch, "I'll just start getting Rigsby to make two cups."
Lisbon merely laughed and went back to work, letting Jane keep her company.