Entwined

Disclaimer: Don't own a damn thing.

Spoiler: 2.23

Rating: T

A/N: Huge thanks to spyglass and lil_smiles. The former for betaing and the latter for being my awesome Secret Santa recipient. This is loosely based on a prompt she provided as part of the challenge, so this is written for her. Also, as will become obvious, for some of the scenes, a little suspension of reality is required but I don't think all of them are exceptionally AU so I wouldn't characterize it as such. Enjoy!

Prompt: "You asked me what I wanted, so there. Satisfied?"

xxx

i. post - 1.08 (Thin Red Line)

A very annoyed social worker from CPS gives him a ride to the Blakeley residence, speeding off almost as soon as he hands baby Kaylee to her startled grandparents.

Jane stands on the sidewalk for all of two minutes before pulling out his cell phone and hitting speed dial. Even though she sounds exasperated and annoyed, twenty minutes later the familiar CBI issue SUV pulls up to the curb with Lisbon scowling from the driver's seat.

"You know what you need." Jane says the minute he buckles his seat belt.

"A new cell phone number?"

"Funny, but no." Jane dodges easily, "What you need my dear is an ice cream cone and a stroll through the park."

Lisbon glares at him like he's grown a third eye, then calmly looks away as if he's never said anything.

"C'mon, the case is closed, it's a beautiful day, and baby Kaylee doesn't have to go into foster care. Plus I know a great ice cream stand at Grove Park that serves Rocky Road."

No reaction from the senior agent.

"I know it's your favorite flavor." He baits her slowly, but confidently.

Lisbon doesn't say anything, but at the next red light, makes a left turn, driving in the opposite direction from the CBI.

Sometime later, after paying for their ice cream cones, Jane finds Lisbon perched on a bench near a playground.

"No stroll?" He asks teasingly.

"Ice cream should be enjoyed while sitting down." She explains with such resolute conviction, Jane can't deny her. His eyes scan the area around them as they enjoy their respective cones in silence. Normally, he would goad her, but she seems relaxed, less on edge, actually enjoying herself as she picks out the marshmallows with her tongue.

In the distance, the indistinct sound of children laughing catches his attention, and in the warm breeze, with an ice cream cone in his hand and an unguarded Lisbon by his side, Jane shoves all heavy thought away and enjoys the sight of youthful innocence at play.

The loud teasing coming from the swing set alerts them both, and they watch in amusement as a little blond boy steals two dolls from the dark-haired girl sitting in an unmoving swing. He presses the two together and chants,

"Barbie and Ken sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I…"

The girl stands up abruptly, hands on her hips, expression seething mad, "Shut up."

He looks at her wide eyed. "You can't say that! That's a bad word." He tells her matter-of-factly, but she doesn't appear to care.

"Sure I can," She pouts at him, before retrieving her dolls and walking off. The boy looks completely lost and confused for a moment, but then chases after his brunette friend.

"Wait for me." He shouts as they disappear out of view behind the jungle gym.

Jane glances over at Lisbon, sees her softened expression. She catches him staring, narrows her dark green eyes at him briefly before looking ahead again, taking occasional licks of her ice cream.

He watches her for a while, the way her lip curves upwards every time a child runs by or cries in delight, and suddenly his curiosity is overpowering.

"Do you ever think about having children?"

If the comment catches Lisbon off guard, she doesn't show it, though she does glance at him suspiciously again. Suddenly, Jane wonders if maybe this is too uncomfortable a topic to broach for both him and her on such a beautiful day.

"No," Lisbon answers curtly, defusing all his thoughts of changing the subject.

"Really?"

He tries to mask his surprise, but fails miserably. "How come? I think you'd make an excellent mother."

Lisbon smirks almost bitterly, ice cream cone forgotten. "That's the point. I already was one."

She says cryptically, but Jane understands immediately, realization like a cold bucket of water down his spine.

Images of Lisbon as a jaded teenager taking care of three younger siblings flash in his mind almost as vividly as if he'd been there.

"It's just something that's never been part of the plan. I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement early on, I knew I wanted to live somewhere close to the ocean, I knew I wanted my brothers to grow up, be happy and healthy, but children-…" Her voice trails off as she shrugs, "I guess it was never in the cards."

The hint of sadness in her gaze belies her words, but Jane chooses not to comment on it. Instead, he leans closer to her, a press of fingers to her arm. It catches her attention, and she turns to look at him, black curls dancing in front of large, green eyes.

He won't argue with her about the existence of fate or destiny, but he will tell her what he thinks.

"For what it's worth Lisbon, I really do think you would make a terrific mother."

He holds her gaze for a while, willing her to believe him even when she remains visibly unconvinced.

Eventually, her lips dissolve into a smile and she ducks her head, "Even so."

Lisbon doesn't finish her thought, but Jane nods, understanding.

A moment later, as the previously quarreling six year olds run past them causing Lisbon to smile, Jane finds himself earnestly hoping that she will change her mind.

xxx

ii. post - 1.19 (A Dozen Red Roses)

"No."

"Please?"

She heaves a deep sigh of frustration and speeds up her gait, hoping he'll tire eventually and leave her alone.

"Are you that old that your hearing is impaired?"

He gasps. From the corner of her eye, she sees the exaggerated look of shock and hurt on his face.

"First of all, I am not old, and second of all, just because you're going to be a year older in a couple days does not give you the right to take your anger out on me."

"It does when you annoy me." She snaps back, walking even faster.

He's panting besides her, but refuses to give up. Damn it, if stairs won't deter him from bothering her, what other measures can she take?

Her silence gives him the opportunity to probe her a little more.

"Seriously, Lisbon, I bet you'd feel a lot less bitter about turning-…"

Even though they're alone on the staircase, in between floors, she still halts his speech, turning around to glare him into silence.

"Do you really think going that route will get you what you want to know?"

She looks on at him amusedly from the top of the staircase, arms crossed over her chest, eyebrow raised.

He's not intimidated though, and proves that by stepping up to her level, now standing close enough to smell her perfume, see the flicker of anticipation in her defiant jade eyes. She doesn't back away though, and he grins, pleased to evoke a reaction other than annoyance from her.

"No need to be ashamed of your age, Lisbon. As you so derisively implied, I should be the one worried about how old I am, not you."

He watches with a sense of triumph as Lisbon gives up the fight and allows herself to smile, albeit almost impishly.

"Eh, whatever." She shrugs after the moment, already backing away from him, "you'll learn to live with the acknowledgement that you're nearing middle age soon enough."

She steps to the door, then looks over her shoulder, "besides, has it ever occurred to you that maybe I want to be surprised instead of telling you exactly what I want?"

She even dares to wink at him, before disappearing into the hallway, her teasing inquiry lingering in the air. For a moment, Jane is too stunned to do anything, but eventually he chuckles to himself. He may not have gotten her to admit what she truly wants for her birthday, but that was never his intention.

Figuring out Lisbon's gift is the easy part, as is surprising her with it.

It's getting her to smile like that at him that feels the most rewarding.

Three days later, as she opens her office to find a pony standing there, Jane feels like he successfully accomplished both.

xxx

iii. post - 2.11(Rose-colored Glasses)

She's not sure whether it's the unseasonably warm November night, the distant crash of the ocean, or the lingering melody of her favorite song fresh in the recess of her mind but the words tumble out almost of their own volition.

"The ocean."

Jane looks at her, not an expression of surprise, but rather quiet encouragement to elaborate.

Lisbon focuses her attention on the nozzle feeding gas into the SUV, a little embarrassed by her own spontaneity.

"You mentioned that in high school I was always wondering what I really wanted. Well, what I wanted was to see the ocean."

She doesn't dare look at him, stares straight ahead, but she feels his eyes on her, trying to read her. It doesn't make her uncomfortable, because as unnerving as it is being the sole focus of Jane's attention sometimes, his body radiates warmth and it's been at least a few minutes without a sarcastic comment or a tease from him.

"I saw the beach for the first time when I was twelve; it was indeed a beautiful sight. I'll never forget it."

She doesn't expect him to reciprocate, but the smile spreads on her lips unconsciously as she glances at him. His cerulean gaze is directed at an undefined point in the distance, but the candidness is there and she knows he's not deceiving her.

"I didn't get to see it until I moved out to San Francisco, and even then, it was a deceptive experience. No one told me you could nearly get pneumonia just by dipping your toes into that freezing water."

Jane stifles a chuckle at her words, matching her self-deprecating smile; somehow she feels lighter after speaking, as if something monumental has been lifted off her chest. She doesn't tear her eyes away from his until the nozzle clicks, signaling a full tank.

As of cue, Lisbon tries to suppress a yawn.

She's just about to slide into the driver's seat when Jane halts her, a barely discernible touch on her elbow.

"You're tired." He states in a low voice, "let me drive."

Despite everything, Lisbon still raises her eyebrow at him, but Jane merely smiles in return, shaking his head at her weariness, "I promise not to go too fast."

She hesitates for a moment, worrying her lip between her teeth.

"C'mon," He nearly whispers, standing so close to her, she can almost feel his arms around her again, the soft rhythmic swaying to her favorite song.

With a little defiance, she slides out of the driver's seat and walks around the car.

Sometime later, a jolt to her shoulder rouses her from sleep.

It's dark, but Jane's eyes are distinct even in the dimness. "We're here." He whispers excitedly.

"Where?" Lisbon asks confusedly, but he simply motions her to get out of the car.

With a huff, she does, ready to scold him because this definitely isn't the CBI parking lot, but her reprimand gets caught along with her breath when her eyes look ahead, only to find the beach right in front of her.

It's barely visible, but the sound of waves hitting the tide is unmistakable, as is the cool breeze that carries the scent of the ocean with it. In quiet wonder, she looks over at Jane, searching for his sea colored gaze like a beacon in the night.

He stands off to the side, hand in his pockets, "I know it's dark still, but if you're willing to wait, I hear the ocean at sunrise is beautiful."

It's absolutely ridiculous, insane even; everything that characterizes Jane and not her.

Nevertheless, Lisbon finds herself smiling eagerly. "Why not? Sleep is for the weary anyway."

They don't make it to sunrise, but when Lisbon wakes up, she decides the beach is an even more breathtaking sight with the usually sleep-deprived Patrick Jane dozing peacefully beside her.

xxx

iv. post - 2.20 (Red All Over)

"You gave me quite the scare there, Agent Lisbon."

His warm breath fans across her neck, hand lingering on the small of her back as he follows her into the darkened apartment.

Despite the shiver running down her spine, Lisbon moves away from him, but he doesn't have to look at her to know she's smiling indulgently, no longer having to put up a professional and demure front.

"I did, really?" She asks innocently, turning around.

Jane smirks.

Even in the poor lighting, her dark emerald irises reel him in with their vainly disguised glint.

"Although I should reprimand you yet again for being unnecessarily brave, I have to say I am extremely proud of you for defusing that bomb."

He takes a step towards her, determined blue eyes zeroing in on their prey, but Lisbon isn't intimidated, neither by the desire in his expression nor by his purposeful saunter.

Instead, she slides her leather jacket slowly down her arms, leaving it to pool on the living room floor. The hint of surprise in Jane's stare is noted.

"You know," she says softly, as he finally comes up to her, infringing on her personal space.

Her hands instinctively slide up his torso, "I've been told, oh, about a thousand times today how courageous I am, how amazing what I did was…"

Her voice trails off as she leans closer, an imperceptible brush of her lips against his jaw as she methodically undoes button after button on his vest. It's Jane's turn to shiver as his hands find her hips intuitively, thumbs sneaking underneath her shirt, running over smooth, unblemished skin.

"What are you proposing exactly?" He nearly growls into her ear, lips tracing the shell before dipping lower to her neck.

Lisbon leans back to gaze at him, suit jacket falling to the floor by her hand as a sly and impossibly sexy smirk stretches her lips.

"I think you'd better remind me how irresponsible I was."

"Horribly irresponsible," Jane concurs, hands sliding fully beneath her top now, fingers tracing her spine upwards.

"How completely stupid it was of me to try to play hero."

"So stupid," Jane murmurs amusedly, lust clouding his senses as words mingle with ragged breaths. His vest joins his blazer and her jacket.

Lisbon grins, stepping away only slightly to unbutton her own shirt, darkened blue eyes following the path of her fingers as the material comes apart to reveal black lace and feverish skin.

He knows that skin so well, has trailed his fingers over it so many times, has savored the sweetness of it with his tongue. The knowledge only feeds his desire, spurring him on until he's pressing himself against her, claiming her with his mouth, tongue pushing past the barrier of her teeth with primal determination.

Lisbon gasps out of surprise but quickly reciprocates the kiss, smiling devilishly against his lips as she wraps her arms around him. She's almost too consumed by the embrace to feel him unfastening the clasp on her back until his bare hands are on her, molding perfectly to heated and aroused flesh.

They pull apart for a moment, and Jane rests her forehead against hers, smoldering cerulean eyes peering promisingly at her.

"Let me take you upstairs and I'll remind you what a bad girl you've been indeed, Agent Lisbon."

Her only response is to pull him further up the stairs.

xxx

v. post - 2.23 (Red Sky in the Morning)

He awakes abruptly, unsure of what roused him from a dreamless sleep. With slight disorientation, he rises off the couch, rolling his neck to relieve the tension gathered there.

He feels her presence before he sees her. Frustration and anger radiate from her, and he tilts his head to the side to find her standing dangerously close to the couch, right foot extended forward.

Jane realizes very quickly what woke him up.

Normally, being awoken by Lisbon slamming her boot into the couch would occur on a regular basis; however, he can't recall the last time it happened. Unfortunately, it's further evidence that the last few months have been nothing like the previous four years they've worked together.

She's still Lisbon though; still authoritative, hard working, and stubborn; probably even more attentive to protocol since Hightower's arrival and his unexpected encounter with Red John.

Meeting the elusive man he's been hunting for so long has left with him more thoughts and emotions that he can handle, but somehow he's been able to put away the nausea and fear that curls his stomach every time he thinks about his inferiority to Red John by channeling all his efforts into figuring out his motive.

However, he's not as good about compartmentalizing his feelings when it comes to Lisbon. It makes him almost delirious to imagine anything happening to her, and he knows that if he confides in her, Red John will figure it out and that will signal a level of trust between them that Jane would prefer to keep from the serial killer.

Red John may still be a complete mystery, but if there's one fact Jane does know about his arch nemesis it's that he has a sick penchant for taking anyone Jane cares for away from him, or purposefully hurting them as a warning.

It happened with Bosco and it happened with Frye, whom Jane is convinced is either dead or being held captive. Though, he does wonder if she even fits into this category considering she probably angered the killer on her own by arrogantly repeating Jane's mistakes.

Either way, he'll take all precautionary measures because he might be careless with his own life, but not with the lives of others, and especially not with Lisbon's. He's not adding her to the list of people he's failed, although judging by the calculating look in her eye, she probably thinks he already has.

He doesn't say anything for a long time, unable to read her intentions. The last few months have been tense to say the least, their interaction marred by the weight of unspoken words.

He knows she knows that he's keeping something from her and it has driven a wedge between them, but he'd rather have her be upset with him and alive, rather than be aware of the truth and dead.

Still, he can't force himself to make something lighthearted out of this. He's tired too, just as exhausted as she is. Sometimes, especially in these late hours when they're still the only two people left, he yearns to walk into her office, shut the door, and tell her everything that Red John told him.

However, the image of his wife and child's butchered bodies has always stopped him, hasn't allowed him take that final step and risk exposing Lisbon to the same danger he had inadvertently exposed his family, because what good is hindsight if it's ignored.

Awareness has kept him on his couch night after night, staying until she left, feigning sleep to avoid any awkward goodbyes even as she lingered around the bullpen, never coming any closer, even though she desperately wanted to.

However, her resolve is still strong even after she finds herself at his couch, probably impulsively kicking it to alert him, her stern demeanor concealing what he knows to be hurt.

He sees it flicker in her dark green gaze even through the poor lighting, and for a moment, he almost can't breathe. The brief glimpse into how truly distraught she's been is like a knife slowly twisting in his chest, a pain that's probably more intense than any Red John could cause with his blade.

He stands abruptly, stepping closer to her, but she steps away.

"Lisbon…"

If possible, she flinches even further away from him at his words; the tug on his heart is unexpected and unwelcome.

He sees her resolve weaken, regret ebbing its way in, but her inability to back away from a challenge forces her to stand her ground, shoulders dangerously squared as she looks him in the eye.

"Don't," she warns in a low voice, "don't try to make this into anything more than what I am about to say."

There's never been a moment in which he has wanted to touch her more than right now, if only to brace himself for the verbal blow he's certain to receive. Yet, he remains motionless, silent.

"I want you-…" She begins, but hesitates, clearing her throat, "no, I need you to be honest with me."

He can easily feign ignorance, but his respect for her won't let him. He cannot demean her like that, refuses to reduce whatever is left of their friendship to nothing by playing dumb.

He's about to say something, anything at all to acknowledge that he's heard her, but she breaks the silent tension between them unexpectedly.

"You asked me in that crate why I signed on with you, why I tolerate you. I told you it's because you close cases and it's true, but it's also because you don't lie to me, at least about things that matter. I know you've kept things from me before, things others have told you, but never about something like this. So I need you to tell me the truth, because otherwise, you really have proven me wrong."

"About what?" He quickly prompts, unable to keep silent any longer, even though her words have left his mouth incredibly dry and his heart beating at an unhealthy rate.

She looks at him for a moment, a flash of softness that's quickly replaced by something akin to disappointment.

"You really aren't worth saving."

There's no malice in her tone, nothing to indicate that she means to hurt him, but the phrase cuts deeply, leaving him reeling for hours after, as he sits on his battered couch alone; the only evidence of her earlier presence, the faint trace of her perfume.

He doesn't know why it bothers him so much when he's known it all along, but somehow knowing that Lisbon might lose faith in him, might give up on him, makes him sick with fear, unable to think straight, throwing him completely off balance with the ache in his chest.

It makes him acknowledge exactly how screwed up everything has been, how distant they have become, and even after hours of mindless driving and convincing himself that he can still salvage their relationship through other means, he finds himself parked in front of her driveway early the next morning.

He hesitates only briefly before retrieving the book from the glove compartment, fingers easily finding the familiar well worn page with the circled couplet. He creases the page and gets out of the car, scanning the street for any activity.

He places the book in her mailbox, knowing she'll find it there after her morning run, and hurries back to his car. He considers leaving right away, but something makes him linger. When he sees Lisbon's jogging figure approaching steadily, he knows it's too late to drive without attracting attention.

Instead, he watches as she opens her mailbox, retrieving various envelopes and then the book. He can't see her face, but the sudden straightening of her spine signals alertness and maybe a little apprehension.

Nevertheless, after a moment, she relaxes and when she turns around, eyes scanning the street, the book open in her hand, he doesn't look away. It's still too dark outside for him to be certain that she sees him, but her small smile and calmed posture is enough for him.

Enough to allow a moment of indulgence, to feel his heart beat properly again, blood coursing through his veins with renewed vitality.

Lisbon has long since entered her house by the time he drives away, but the feeling stays with him for hours. He knows his actions weren't smart, knows that Lisbon's knowledge of Red John's words is likely exactly what the serial killer wants, putting all of them in danger. However, he can't stop the vigor he feels inside, the burden lifted, because Jane knows now, probably has for some time that he's not without attachments.

Somewhere along the way, a strong but easily flustered detective with raven hair and dark jade eyes got under his skin; perhaps his unwillingness to lose what little faith she has in him makes him seem weak, but maybe that's exactly what he needs.

xxx