So here we have it everybody. The end of the line. The final chapter of 'Dual Deception.'
Before you start reading, I just want to once again say a huge thank you to everybody who has read, reviewed, favourited and alerted. The response to this story has been phenomenal, and way beyond anything I could have ever expected.
Disclaimer: I don't own it. I swear I don't.
I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long for this one, and that you enjoy.
There were only three times in her life when Teresa Lisbon had ever truly considered herself lost for words.
The first was when the uniformed police officer turned up at the front door when she was twelve to tell them that there had been an accident. She hadn't uttered a word for two entire days after that had happened. It had taken all her brainpower and all her willpower to continue to breathe, stand, and even try to get her head around the reality that her mother was never coming home.
The second was when she came home from school one afternoon to find her brother unconscious on the kitchen floor, bleeding from the head, and her father standing next to him gazing transfixed at his hands, the knuckles stained with blood, as if he couldn't believe what he had done.
The third was when Patrick Jane had cornered her in her office, taken her by the hand, and told her that he loved her.
The first time, she had managed to pull herself out of the spiralling darkness by realizing that if she didn't, she would have no family left at all. She was the eldest child, and the only daughter, now the woman of the house and the surrogate mother. It was more pressure then any twelve year old should ever have to endure, but she'd known that she simply didn't have a choice.
The second time, she had ordered herself not to collapse under the anguish of what she'd seen. She'd needed to stay strong, to get herself and her brothers out of this situation, of a father so bereaved by the loss of his wife that he could take out his anger at the injustice of the world on his own flesh and blood.
The third time, she'd admit, she could have handled better.
It was like her brain had somehow frozen itself, her entire world had ceased to exist as she tried to process what he'd said. He loved her. He loved her. Nobody had ever said that to her before. She'd started to believe that maybe nobody ever would. And now, finally, someone had. And not just any someone, but the man of her dreams. People could go their whole lives without ever finding their soulmate, and hers had practically fallen into her lap.
It was kind of hard to believe it was even real. Things like this didn't happen in real life, at least not to people like her. It happened to young, beautiful women with their whole lives ahead of them, not to thirty-something homicide cops with enough baggage to fill an airport.
A silent minute passed between them. She knew she was being unfair to him; she at least owed him an acknowledgement that she had heard and understood. Rejection was obviously the worst result of confessing one's feelings, but no response at all wasn't all that much better.
The shock started to wear off, and the panic set in. What did this mean for them now? Surely they couldn't go back to what they were, as much as she would have liked to. Everything had been turned on its head.
If it were anyone else, her silence would have been interpreted as a point-blank rejection, but Jane had seemed to understand the strange mindset she was in, and even seemed to have expected it.
"You don't have to say anything," he said gently, squeezing her hand, a small smile on his face. "I'm going to leave you alone now; I know you're going to need time to get your head around this." A brief pause, while he stroked the back of her hand with his thumb. "I'll see you tomorrow."
He let her hand go, and rose from his seat. It was like she was watching him through a stranger's eyes, as he walked around the desk. He put a finger under her chin, tilting her head up so his eyes locked onto hers again.
"I'm sorry," he said, sounding genuinely apologetic. "I just made things ten times worse for you. But you had to know."
He bent down, and kissed her forehead.
"We'll have to talk about this," he said, still in that quiet, gentle tone. "Let me know when you're ready."
And then he'd left her office, and the instant he'd disappeared, she'd buried her face in her hands, not knowing what to do or say.
A month had passed since the 'L' word, and still, they hadn't talked about it. The day afterwards, and every day since, they had carried on as normally as possible, as though it had never happened.
To Jane, it had been thirty days of waiting. Waiting and waiting for the other shoe to drop, for her to tell him how she was feeling. But as each day passed without so much as a hint from her, the tiniest bit of anxiety began to creep up on him. Even for Lisbon, the master procrastinator of all things emotional, this was a long time. He was getting to the point now that he almost didn't care whether it was good or bad. He just wanted to know.
He knew he couldn't, mustn't, push her for an answer, she wouldn't appreciate being rushed, and it would not do him any favours. He was a patient man; he'd been waiting for Red John to show his murderous face for the best part of ten years, a month should have been easy.
But it wasn't.
He'd always prided himself on being pretty good at knowing what Lisbon was thinking; he'd learned to read the subtle signals over the years. He knew how to identify happy, sad, angry, frustrated, frightened (though that was one of the hardest to spot as she took great care to hide it) and every emotion in between. But right now, he didn't have a clue. It seemed that he had developed some kind of block about it. It was maddening. He could look up from his couch into her office and see her right there, but not be any closer to knowing what was going on inside her head.
Perhaps he was the problem. Maybe she was still giving off those emotional hints, and somewhere deep in his subconscious he was afraid of finding out what they meant. Any time before that he'd suggested a potential relationship between them, she'd shut him down, and now there was nothing more he could say. The ball was in her court now, any future they might have together in her hands.
And so, he continued to wait.
Lisbon left the CBI well after the sun had set, and most people had left for the day. She wasn't staying late very much at the moment, for fear she might be alone with her consultant and he might want to 'talk' again. It was strange. A month ago, she wouldn't have thought anything of being at the CBI for hours, just the two of them, and now she tried to avoid it at all costs.
Tonight it had been okay though as she knew for a fact that he had already left. She'd overhead Rigsby telling him he'd been acting weird, and that the two of them and Cho should go out for a drink. Jane had grudgingly accepted the invitation, and she'd watched from her office as the three of them took off for the night.
She supposed she should have guessed that the rest of the team would notice something was off. They were all perceptive people, detectives no less, and though she'd tried valiantly to keep everything going the way it always had, there was no point pretending that things hadn't changed.
Jane didn't camp out on the couch in her office anymore, and when they were investigating cases or questioning suspects, he tended to go with one of the others. Instead of delivering coffee to her by hand now, he would wait until she left her office for whatever reason, and when she returned it would be waiting for her on her desk. Gradually, they had progressed from spending the vast majority of their day together to seeing very little of each other, and even then, for only a few minutes at a time.
She knew why he was keeping his distance. He was trying not to put pressure on her, or make her feel obligated to talk about the 'L' word before she wanted to. She appreciated that, as she knew that if he ever did decide to put her on the spot, she wouldn't know what to say. He had handed her all the control, and allowed her to do everything to her own schedule.
Even so, she couldn't help noticing just what her prolonged silence was doing to him. She knew she was hurting him a little more with every day, and that she should really just put an end to it already. Her previous experiences had taught her that anything that was causing her this much doubt and indecision had to be a bad thing, and fairly solid evidence that she shouldn't be doing it.
But if she told him that, obviously he'd want to know why, and she'd be lying if she said it was because she didn't feel the same way. She may not have the courage to tell him so just yet, but she loved him too, and if circumstances were different she'd have no hesitation in allowing herself to have what they both wanted so much.
Her head was pulling her in one direction and her heart was pulling her in another. And here she was, stuck in the middle just trying to hold herself together.
She couldn't keep stringing this situation out much longer, it wasn't fair to either of them, and it certainly wasn't conducive to their working environment. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't ignore all the obstacles in their way. The combination of the CBI, Red John, and Jane's lost wife; even just one of those things would send most people running for the hills, and she was facing the trifecta. It was just too much.
Tomorrow, she would tell him. It would break her heart all over again, but it was the right thing to do. She owed him the truth. Though she thought she might omit the part about how she loved him too.
That piece of information was probably best kept to herself.
"Another round?" Rigsby asked, as the three guys drained their beers.
"Sure," said Cho. "You buying?"
"Oh come on guys," Rigsby complained, looking pleadingly from one to the other. "I've gotten the last two rounds, isn't it someone else's turn now?"
"Sorry man, out of cash," said Cho.
"Me too," Jane lied easily. "Cleaned out." He smiled innocently at Rigsby, who scowled.
"Fine," he said reluctantly. "But next time we do this, you guys are buying drinks all night."
"You got it, buddy," said Jane, grinning at him some more. "But in the meantime, Cho and I aren't getting any younger over here."
Rolling his eyes and cursing them under his breath, Rigsby went to join the crowd clamouring for service at the bar, leaving Jane and Cho alone.
"So, what's with you and the boss?" asked Cho, in the super-direct fashion that only Cho could. "I know something happened while you were away, and you two have been weird around each other for weeks. Are you guys a thing now or not?"
"There's nothing going on between me and Lisbon."
"But you want there to be."
A statement, not a question. Jane didn't bother denying it. There was just no point in lying to Cho; he'd always get the truth out in the end. He could be as ruthless and hardheaded in real life as he was in the interrogation room.
"It's not what she wants."
"You sure about that?" asked Cho.
Jane thought back over their trip and everything that had happened since, and how she'd fought the change in their relationship at every turn. How he'd told her he loved her a month ago, and still was yet to find out where she stood on the matter.
"Pretty sure," he said.
"Pretty sure?" Cho repeated, with an air of mild surprise. "Kind of sounds like you've got doubts."
"Cho, what's your angle here?" asked Jane, a little irritably. He'd spent so much time thinking about nothing else, he didn't need Cho poking and prodding as well.
"There's no angle," said Cho flatly. "I told you before, what you and the boss do or don't do on your own time doesn't concern me. It's like Rigsby and Van Pelt all over again." He rolled his eyes. "And if you keep going the way you're going it's going to end up the exact same way."
Rigsby returned with three new beers and to Jane's relief, engaged Cho in conversation about the baseball game on the television mounted to the wall, leaving him free to let his mind wander where it would.
He'd never considered before that Rigsby was in pretty much the same situation that he was. It was clear to anyone how very much he loved Van Pelt, and also how much he loved his job. Most of Rigsby's problems seemed to boil down to not being able to choose between them.
The CBI had stood in the way of Van Pelt and Rigsby the same way it stood in the way of Lisbon and himself. He knew Lisbon would stand by the bureau until the bitter end, so if there was ever going to be a chance for them, it was up to him to remove that obstacle from their path. And the only way to do that would be to quit his job.
It sounded so easy. He knew he would be able to find work with another police department, it was well known in cop circles that he was a big part of the reason the CBI had such a high closure rate. The rest of the team would be OK, Lisbon told him all the time that they'd been perfectly able to close cases before he'd turned up, and he believed her. In theory, it seemed like the perfect solution.
But it was so much more then giving up an official ID card and a weekly paycheque. It meant giving up his couch in the office, it meant giving up a place to spend his sleepless nights and those were just the small things. It also meant giving up Rigsby, Cho and Van Pelt, his surrogate family, and giving up access to the Red John case, and with that, giving up any hope he might have of vengeance for his wife and daughter. It was a lot to sacrifice, even for someone as wonderful as Lisbon.
If he chose Lisbon, it meant he had closed the book on Angela and Charlotte, had given up completely on his mission and his past. If he chose the CBI, it meant he was resigning himself to loving her from a distance forever, essentially throwing away a potential future, one where he might actually have been happy. Either way, he lost.
He wasn't ready to give either of them up. He had to find a way to have both. He was Patrick Jane for God's sake; he made his living out of taking risks, and making the impossible possible. He could work this out.
Lisbon switched off her desk lamp, plunging her office into darkness as she prepared to leave for the night. She'd stayed only ten minutes more then she'd originally planned, so instead of walking out into an entirely deserted bullpen, there were still a couple of people here and there still working away.
She pressed the button for the elevator with one hand, pressing buttons on her cell phone with the other. She heard the click, click, click of high heels approaching from behind.
Katie. Though she seemed a little less then her usual effervescent self this evening. Her smile wasn't as quite as wide it normally was, and her mascara was smudged at the corners of her eyes, as if she'd been crying.
The doors opened, and they walked into the elevator. They had just begun to move, when Katie let out a muffled sob.
"Katie, are you okay?"
"Oh it's no big deal," said Katie, forcing another smile. "I just got dumped. By text message."
Internally, Lisbon cringed, wishing she hadn't said anything. She hated being drawn into personal conversations like this; she never knew what to do or what to say.
"Another asshole," Katie added, and Lisbon figured she was speaking more to herself then her. "I sure know how to pick them."
"I'm sorry," said Lisbon awkwardly, pleading with the stupid elevator to hurry up already.
"That's OK," said Katie. "Guess we can't all have your luck, hey?"
"What do you mean?"
"Oh please Lisbon," said Katie, half-smiling. "The marriage may have been fake, but you and that gorgeous consultant of yours have got something special. Everyone can see it."
The doors opened before Lisbon had time to respond, and the two women stepped out of it.
"A word to the wise," said Katie, just before they parted. "Do something about it before too long. If you don't hurry up, you might miss your chance. Most women in this office would kill to be Patrick Jane's girl."
"Are you sure you want to do this, Jane?"
This wasn't the first time Virgil Minelli had been surprised by an early morning visit from Patrick Jane, and by now he'd learnt that it could never mean anything good. Most of the time it was because of some insane plan that Lisbon wouldn't let him do without running it by Minelli first, and even then Jane tended to skate over the most illegal points when he described it to him. Minelli thought the whole process was really rather pointless, because whether he gave permission or not, it was guaranteed that Jane would do it anyway.
This morning however, Jane had arrived of his own free will, and they had actually managed to have a frank conversation. Would wonders never cease?
"I've got myself into a bit of a bind, Virgil, and this is the only way I think I can get myself out of it."
"Can't Lisbon help you out?"
Indeed, he didn't think there was anything his senior agent wouldn't do for her consultant. She would complain and curse about him day in, day out, but when push came to shove, she'd defend him to the hilt.
Jane smiled ruefully. "She's sort of part of the problem."
"Do I want to know?"
"Trust me. You really don't."
"All right, I guess it's settled then," said Minelli, eyeing him thoughtfully. "I really hope you know what you're doing."
Jane held out a hand for him to shake. "So do I," he said.
Lisbon had woken up that morning with an odd sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. It had stayed there as she showered and dressed, made a cup of coffee and eventually left for work. She supposed this was what it felt like to know that you were about to sabotage something that might make you happier then you'd been in a long time.
She tried to stop herself from thinking about it as she parked her car. She was doing the right thing for herself and Jane. This way, she could go back to doing her job without this hanging over her head, and all the other women in the office could squabble over Jane to their heart's content.
She looked to the left and saw his little blue car parked a few spots down from hers. He was here already, which was good. It was probably best to get this over with as quickly as possible.
Jane knew he was taking a gamble with this idea, knew there was a thousand ways in which he could regret it, but after thinking it through nearly all of last night, it was the best he could come up with.
He looked at the time on his cell phone. 8:30. She'd be here soon.
After a few minutes, the elevator dinged and there she was, accompanied by Van Pelt who must have arrived at about the same time. He smiled at them both.
"Good morning, ladies," he said.
Van Pelt smiled back. "Morning, Jane," she said. Lisbon said nothing, but simply nodded her head to acknowledge he had spoken and proceeded to her office. He watched her through the window as she set down the things she was carrying. She looked a bit apprehensive this morning, as though she was about to do something she really didn't want to do.
Van Pelt got quietly behind her desk, powered up her computer, and set to work. Jane walked over to his mostly unused desk in the corner, and started rummaging through its contents. Considering he didn't often sit at it, he was a little surprised at how much rubbish had managed to find its way in there.
After a few minutes, he heard the door to her office open.
"Jane?" she called out, quietly. "Can we talk?"
"Sure," he said, keeping his tone as light and casual as he could. "Just let me finish up here."
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Cleaning out my desk," he said. "I'm sure whoever has it next won't appreciate all my crap cluttering it up."
She said it so loudly, and with such surprise, that a few people passing by, sent curious looks their way. Van Pelt instantly abandoned her computer and looked up at Jane.
"You quit?" she asked.
"Talked to Minelli this morning and arranged everything," Jane said. "Today is my last official day as a member of the Serious Crimes unit."
"But don't you have to give two week's notice?" asked Van Pelt.
"They made an exception," said Jane, shrugging. "Guess they just couldn't wait to disassociate themselves from me."
Van Pelt looked to Lisbon, both with an equal amount of shock on their faces. Lisbon of course, recovered first.
"Jane, come to my office please," she said.
He grinned at her. "Your wish, my command."
As the door closed behind them, he saw Rigsby enter the bullpen, and Van Pelt fling herself from her chair and go over to him, obviously relaying the news of his surprise departure. He saw Rigsby's jaw drop and then the two of them got into what looked like a whispered conversation.
Lisbon cleared her throat loudly, drawing his attention back to her. "Jane, what the hell are you doing?" she demanded to know, without preamble.
"Isn't it obvious?" he said, casually.
Don't be a smartass," she snapped. "Why are you doing this? And it better not be for the reason I think it is, or I will-"
"And what reason do you think it is?"
"I really don't think I do. You'll have to spell it out for me."
"Stop screwing with me, Jane. Just tell me the truth."
Silence fell. Outside they heard the elevator ping again, and Jane looked over his shoulder to see Cho walk out of it, only to be accosted immediately by the other two.
"OK," he said. "The truth. The truth is that I don't see any other option here. I've tried to be patient and give you time, but it's been so long now and you haven't said a word. The truth is, I love you and I want to be with you, and I know that as long as the CBI is a factor, there's no chance of it. So I'm taking it out of the equation."
"Jane, that's ridiculous," she said, but the anger had dissipated now. "You need this job, you can't throw it away for me."
"I don't need this job," he contradicted her. "I don't need any job. I've got an ocean-side mansion in Malibu that's standing empty. All I have to do is sell it and I'll have more money at my disposal then I ever could have made from working here."
He hoped with all his heart that she wouldn't call his bluff on that one. He had no intention of selling his house, now or ever. Even if he never lived in it again and it just stood collecting dust through the years, he didn't think he'd be able to bring himself to give it up.
"I didn't mean the money," she said. "You need purpose in your life, you need company, you need friends. And I bet you didn't have any of those things until you came to work here."
"I coped fine without them before, I can do it again. And besides, this time, I won't be lonely because I'll have you." He shot her his best smile.
"But, your wife-"
"I'll always love Angela," he said. "And Charlotte too. And it's not going to be easy, and I can't promise that I won't think of them from time to time, but if you're willing to take this chance, I will do my very best to make you see that I love you just as much."
She refused to let herself be sidetracked; she had to stay on target. "Let's just say for the sake of argument, that you do quit. You'll have to give up your access to the Red John case." Surely, that would be enough to make him see sense, chasing Red John was practically his whole reason for being.
"I never said I was giving up on finding that bastard. I have contacts."
She didn't doubt that. She was sure that he would track down the serial killer eventually, with or without assistance from the CBI. But the idea of him facing Red John alone made her sick to her stomach. She'd decided long ago that whenever the two of them did have their final showdown, she would have to be there to watch his back, and try to stop him from doing something stupid. It was too big for him to tackle on his own. He may not want her there, might fight her every step of the way, but over her dead body was he going to just stroll into Red John's clutches.
"But just think about this," he added. "It'll be a lot harder to focus on revenge when I've got something to lose."
This was all wrong. She was just supposed to be his boss, not his 'something to lose.' How had they ended up this way?
Fortunately, Lisbon hadn't bothered to draw the blinds over her office windows, so Rigsby, Van Pelt and Cho had a clear view of their boss and consultant laying into each other.
"Maybe this is a good thing," said Van Pelt with unconvincing cheeriness. "Having Jane gone has got to help with Lisbon's stress levels."
"Are you crazy?" asked Rigsby. "Jane pissing her off every day is the best thing that he can do for Lisbon, it gives her a chance to blow off steam. If he's gone, she won't have an outlet for all her pent-up anger, so she'll take it out on us instead."
"Well," said Van Pelt. "If anyone's going to talk him out leaving it'll be her. She's the only one he might listen to."
"Don't do this Patrick," said Lisbon. Somewhere during the conversation, they'd slipped into calling each other by their given names; they were talking about things that were far too personal for 'Jane' and 'Lisbon' to feel appropriate. "You and I never would have worked."
"Perhaps," he said. "But don't we owe it to ourselves to at least try? You're running out of excuses now, Teresa, it's time for us to make a decision. I've made mine. What's yours?"
The rest of the day passed in a blur for Lisbon. There was no new case so she stayed in her office doing paperwork for most of the day. She looked out into the bullpen to see Jane snoozing on his couch. It was hard to believe that tomorrow he wouldn't be here anymore. He was almost as much a part of the furniture as the couch itself.
She'd always wondered which of their team would be the first one to move on to bigger and better things, but she'd never even considered it would be Jane. She'd always imagined that even if the other three did eventually leave, she and Jane would never split up, partly because nobody else would have him, and partly because she didn't want them to.
She watched from the office as the rest of the team began packing up to leave for the night. Van Pelt embraced Jane briefly, before dropping a quick peck on his cheek, Rigsby clapped him on the back, and Cho shook hands and almost smiled in farewell.
Soon enough, however it was just the two of them left, and here he was standing at her office door again, perhaps for the last time.
"Working back again?" he asked, smiling in at her.
"Lots of paperwork," she said. "I could sit here for a month and never get on top of it."
"Think you could spare a minute to say goodnight?"
She got up from her chair, walked over to where he was standing and stopped right in front of him.
"You don't have to do this," she said.
"I'm not doing anything," said Jane. "It's done. As of now, I'm a free agent." He smiled. "I kind of like the sound of that."
"Goodnight Patrick," she said, not wanting to prolong this any more than necessary.
"Goodnight Teresa. I'll see you around."
Jane was just unlocking his car, when he heard the front door to CBI open and quick footsteps hurrying towards him. He spun around and saw Lisbon skid to a stop just beside him.
"You were serious about quitting," she said, sounding a little breathless. "Did you mean it about the other stuff too?"
"Do you want to know how serious I am?" he asked. He dropped his keys on the ground, put his arms around her waist, and kissed her. She responded with enthusiasm and before they knew it, they were leaning up against the door of the car, her body pressed to his, and totally forgetting they were in an outdoor car park, where anyone could see them.
She was the one to break off the kiss, even though she would have happily stayed there all night.
"You surprised me today, Patrick," she said. "And now we don't work together anymore I guess I'm allowed to tell you that I love you too, and I do want us to try."
"I knew it," he said smiling his best smile.
"You did not," she protested.
"Did too," he retorted indignantly. "I'm psychic, haven't you heard?"
She rolled her eyes, before she pressed her lips to his again, and several minutes of blissful silence followed, until she once again, and very reluctantly, broke it off.
"I wish we could keep doing this all night," she said, as he kissed her nose, and then planted a long trail of kisses down her neck. "But I've got so much work to do."
"Don't worry about that now," he murmured against her skin. "We'll come back early tomorrow morning and you can catch up then. But tonight, I have a feeling that we might be a little busy." She could feel his hands slipping up under her top, and somehow they still felt as good as the first time. Seriously, the man had magic fingers.
"I think you're right," she said, but then something sunk in. "Wait a minute, what do you mean 'we' will come back early tomorrow. You don't work here anymore."
He let a chuckle, and she saw he had that smile on his face, the one that practically screamed 'I know something you don't know.'
"What?" she said, warily.
"I never actually said I quit," he said, trying not to laugh at the dumbfounded look on his brand-new girlfriend's face. "You just assumed, and I didn't correct you."
She glared him in such a way that said she would very soon be his ex-girlfriend if he didn't come up with an answer very, very quickly.
"I went to see Minelli this morning," he explained. "And I told him that I want to consult on a freelance, per-case basis."
"And he agreed to that?"
"He was hesitant at first, but when I pointed out that the new arrangement meant he was no longer responsible for whatever messes I get myself into, he went for it. I requested that I still be allowed to work with Serious Crimes, and he says he'll continue giving me access to the Red John case, as much as you see fit."
"He trusts your judgement. Everything will pretty much be the same as it's always been, except I won't be an official member of the team anymore. So we can walk back in there tomorrow and announce we're a couple, and they can't do a damn thing to stop us."
"I think we should just keep this between ourselves for a while," she said. "Unless we want another gossip storm like last time."
"Well you know what they say," he said. "If you're not being talked about, you're not relevant."
She smiled seductively at him, and licked her lips for good measure. Instantly, she saw the lust grow in his eyes.
"I kind of like the idea of a secret affair," she said, purposely making her voice low and husky. "More exciting, don't you think?" And far less likely to get her fired she thought to herself, but she figured it might ruin the mystique if she said it out loud.
He groaned. "You are going to kill me, woman," he said. "Doing that, here, where I can't do anything about it is just plain mean."
"And letting me spend the whole day under the impression that you were quitting isn't mean?" she asked, back in her normal voice now.
"That wasn't mean, that was tactics," he said.
"Tactics?" she repeated. "Like as in a basketball game."
"Not quite," said Jane. "More like going into battle. You can be pretty volatile when you want to be."
"I hate you," she snapped.
"I know," he said, grinning from ear to ear. "I love you too. Now are we getting out of here or not?"
"Absolutely," she said. "I'll take my car and you can follow me to my place. We're not turning up together in the morning."
"Only you could find a way to make propositioning me sound totally legitimate," he said shaking his head. "I think I'm going to need a better offer then that."
She scowled at him, but then smiled wickedly. "OK," she said. "How's this?"
She looked around for anyone lingering nearby, and then gave him a long, lingering kiss on the lips.
"It's been long day, and I could really use a long, hot, steamy shower," she whispered. "Would you care to join me?"
So after 17 chapters and many, many months, we have finally come to the end of 'Dual Deception.' I hope you liked the conclusion, and that it satisfied everyone's shipper tendencies. This story has been my main FF project for quite a long time now, so I have no idea what I'll do next, but from previous experience I'm usually only just done with a multichap before I throw myself into another one, so I'll most probably be back, if you'll have me.
Thanks again to everyone for your feedback, and unfailing patience with my very slow updates! I really am sorry about that. :)