Title: Sailors Take Warning
Disclaimer: Thou shalt not borrow permanently and without asking.
Spoilers: 2x23 (Red Sky in the Morning)
Summary: The collapse of a house of cards. Jane, Lisbon, and the truth that comes between them.
Author's Notes: This was originally supposed to be an attempt to fix the epic fail that I found the season finale to be. It has since turned into something else entirely, but hopefully I still managed to do a better job of dealing with loose ends than they did during the episode itself. As far as the title goes, I decided to forgo my usual patterns, and instead borrow from the rhyme that was used as the episode title. Huge thanks to boutondor for the super fast beta turn around so that I could finally clear this thing off of my hard drive after working on it on and off for the better part of two months.
For Yana. For her unwavering support and handholding, without which I would probably never write anything. And for everything else.
you'll go backwards again, but then
you'll go forwards again
-Coldplay, "Twisted Logic"
The sound of voices cuts through the otherwise silent, still air of the bullpen, and Jane wakes with a start.
He stretches lazily and turns just in time to see the retreating form of Senior Agent Eric Glenn disappear into the darkened corridor. Jane rolls onto his side and uses one arm for leverage to swing his legs over the edge of the couch. When he dozed off that afternoon, he had been the only person left on the floor; after all, only the necessary staff reported on a holiday weekend.
As he rises, he immediately notices the light in her office.
He shakes his head, but the sight of Lisbon, hunched over her desk and hard at work, gives him pause.
He considers ignoring her, almost returns to his comfortable reclining position, but in the back of his mind, conjecture won't let him rest. By his count, this is the third time Lisbon and Glenn have met this week.
Impulsively, he rises and strides over to her office. Several pressing questions immediately spring to mind, and the best way to extract accurate answers is to catch her off guard, before she becomes aware that his presence in the bullpen is no longer innocuous.
Only when he reaches her closed office door does he pause for a few steps, peering inside again. With her back to him, Lisbon leans forward against her desk, propped up by an elbow as she flips determinedly through triplicate forms. She breathes a heavy sigh, her frustration audible, and for the first time, Jane notices how tired and world-weary she appears in this moment of perceived solitude.
He almost retreats back to occupy the couch, granting her the respite she so obviously desires. She would never even have to know that he'd awakened.
Before he can stop himself, however, his mind conjures up the image of Agent Glenn leaving her office, and he closes the distance to her door. Closing his fingers into a fist, he raps softly against the glass paneling.
She jumps visibly when she registers the sound.
Outstretched hand at the ready, he pushes the door open.
"No rest for the weary, huh Lisbon?" he asks casually, finally stepping over the threshold and leaning back against the doorjamb.
Initial shock quickly fades into an expression of fatigued exasperation; Lisbon sets her pen down with a forceful tap. She exhales.
"What do you want, Jane?"
She leans back in her chair, but her posture is anything but relaxed. Her eyes sweep over him with suspicion, though her gaze feels almost hollow.
"I saw the light on in your office and wondered what could possibly be so important to drag you back in over this holiday weekend."
"Just a never-ending stream of paperwork." A sigh, and then, "I've fallen behind lately."
She says lately, but what she really means is since Frye went missing over two weeks ago; he can see it written across her face plainly. Which leads him back to the issue at hand.
Lisbon's visitor, Agent Glenn, just so happens to be the lead agent for the Missing Persons Unit. Meeting once, or even twice, could be considered perfectly normal; the third meeting alerts Jane that there is more between Lisbon and Glenn than simply transferring a few files as Glenn takes over the investigation on Kristina Frye's disappearance.
Not like that, of course. Agent Glenn is pushing fifty and happily married. But Lisbon isn't simply turning over her files and case notes to Missing Persons; Lisbon is working the case with them.
Moreover, Lisbon is working the case with them, and Jane can safely assume that she doesn't want him to know about it.
He crosses the room and stands directly in front of her desk, eyeing the files laid out before her. Lisbon, in turn, crosses her arms and sits forward in her chair, as though bracing herself for a confrontation.
Only then does he notice the deep-seeded fatigue that seems to penetrate even her irritated stare.
"You may be catching up on paperwork now," he says. "But that's not why you came in on the Saturday before Memorial Day, against Hightower's direct orders."
She looks at him slyly, releasing a bitter laugh that leaves him feeling cold.
"Well, you know me. I never was one for following the rules."
"Name one time you've disobeyed a direct order," he teases, an attempt to counter the hint of abrasion in her tone.
"I could name plenty of times, and most of them involve covering for you." She exhales audibly, then adds, "You know what, I'm done for the day; I'm going to head out. I'll see you on Tuesday, Jane."
In a flash, she rises from her desk chair, grabs her keys, and heads for the door. He finds himself so taken aback by her abrupt departure that he does not even register it until she disappears into the elevator and out of sight.
Jane finds himself torn. On the one hand, he could follow her to force a confrontation; on the other, Lisbon's office holds the promise of easy access to information that he cannot ignore.
Sitting down in her abandoned desk chair, he opens the bottom right hand drawer and retrieves the correct files. He reads until the sun sinks low in the sky; the words begin to run together in the dimly-lit room. He reads, and he mulls possibilities.
By the time he closes the final folder, quiet fury simmers deep in his chest. He gathers up the files and flips off her desk lamp, angrily shutting the door behind him as he makes his way to the darkened parking lot.
Jane sits outside her apartment for nearly five minutes before composing himself enough to approach her front door. He climbs the front steps, rings the buzzer, and waits, still simmering quietly.
When the door finally opens, Lisbon flashes an irritated scowl in his direction. "What do you want, Jane?"
"I think we should talk." He shrugs, thinking his intentions obvious, but Lisbon makes no move to let him inside. "Can I come in?" he finally presses.
"Fine," she says with a sigh, reluctantly stepping aside and shutting the door behind him.
His gaze sweeps across her living room, noting no significant changes from the last time he was here. Her leather jacket lies haphazardly across the back of her lounge chair, while a half-finished glass of wine - Cabernet, he guesses - sits on her coffee table, a dated copy of Newsweek serving as a coaster.
"Jane." Her voice is subdued, but insistent.
"We need to talk," he repeats gently.
"You said that already." Her head rolls side to side in an attempt to relieve the tension building in her neck, until her vision seems to narrow in on him. "What are you doing with those?" she demands, the change in demeanor as abrupt as the sudden halting of her movements.
Jane tries to appear unperturbed, though he cannot help a quick glance at the offending files he holds in his hands. He remains silent, but that only seems to infuriate her more.
"Where did you get those?" She barks, closing the distance between them and ripping the files from his hands.
Jane steps back, startled, and that's when he detects the flash of anger in her eyes.
He'd noticed, of course, that Lisbon has been subdued, a half-shell of her former self, for months now, but he hadn't realized just how much she had changed - or how much he missed her fierce, determined spirit - until he sees the small flame seem to ignite within her once more. Even as the subject of her ire, a sense of relief settles over him, that Lisbon still lies somewhere just below the surface, trying to break free.
Instinctively, he lashes out, provoking her almost as though he intends to draw her out himself. And maybe he does.
"You've been working with Glenn for over two weeks. Did you honestly think I wouldn't find out?"
She scoffs derisively in response. "I've been wondering when you were going to notice."
"I always notice."
He speaks in a low whisper now, but he grabs her hand for emphasis. She pulls away from his touch.
"You could have fooled me."
He redirects, choosing to ignore her comment. "These are good notes. You're not going to find either of them, but your instincts are solid."
Hurt flickers momentarily in her eyes, then disappears. "You don't know that."
"I do, and you know it too." He pauses only long enough for Lisbon to process his words. "This is Red John. You can't keep this from me."
"Right. Because you never keep anything from me," she says, suddenly eerily calm and detached even as he can see the narrowing of her eyes.
Jane has the decency to shrug apologetically. "That's different."
Her breathing hitches, and she argues, "Why? Because you have this misguided idea that you're protecting me? That's bullshit, and you know it." Before he collects himself enough to respond, she makes no attempt to mask contempt and frustration, and she adds, "I don't need you to protect me; I need you to start telling me the truth."
Stepping closer to her once more, he challenges, "How many times do I need to tell you that you can't fix this, no matter how hard you try?"
Lisbon simply stares at him for a moment, lips pursed, before she releases a slow breath and seems to shrink backwards. "Believe what you want to believe, Jane, but you aren't the only person in this world who's lost someone you love, and you aren't the only person in this world who's lost someone to Red John."
Although her soft admission stings, its brutal honesty resonates deep within him. Lisbon tilts her head, empty but expectant, as if she is simply bracing herself for retaliation.
Before he knows what is happening, he tugs on her free hand and kisses her on the mouth. It's hardly romantic, standing in the dim light of her living room, one of her hands still gripping the Red John case files; it lasts for only a moment and ends as abruptly as it began.
Jane drops her hand awkwardly, unsure if his actions or her lack of reaction has him more stunned. Lisbon stands frozen in place as he begins his retreat.
He takes only five steps before she pulls him back.
"Don't walk away from me now," she says sharply, her eyes suddenly alive once more. "You started this."
He isn't sure what she means by this, but she doesn't seem to know, either.
Their eyes lock, and he feels her proximity acutely, from the slight twitch at the corner of her lips to the gentle rise and fall of her chest with every intake of breath. He tries to decipher her body language, searching for any signs of her tell, of her true reaction.
For once, she gives nothing away.
Jane can sense hesitation and uncertainty hanging heavy in the air, even as Lisbon closes the distance between them. She kisses him this time, her lips soft and light against his mouth; when she pulls away silently, he still isn't sure if her actions are a test or a question or both.
This time, the look in her eyes causes his pulse to accelerate ever so slightly. Her free hand still falls clenched at her side, evidence that her anger with him has not entirely dissipated, nor should he expect it to. Her eyes, however, contradict her hand; bright and wild, unfamiliar and almost unrecognizable. He finds this exhilarating.
A sudden shift in the air, a rush of static electricity, and the moment is no longer either ambiguous or tentative.
Their actions now are akin to the collapse of a house of cards, and Jane indulges himself with the thought that he has no intention of putting a stop to it as long as Lisbon does not. He wants this, maybe even more than she does.
Then she's pulling him down with one hand, bold and verging on reckless, and kissing him again. Without hesitation, he returns her gesture with even greater fervor, kissing her back as if to prove to her that he meant that first kiss, even though he did not know it at the time. She lifts both hands to his chest and then his neck and, in the process, drops the Red John files unceremoniously to the ground, forgotten before they even hit the floor.
His fingers ghost across her cheek while hers migrate to his hair, pulling him in until he is flush against her. With her body now pressed fully against his, there is no mistaking the deceptive femininity she masks with her usual professionalism.
Oh, Jane has always seen past that, always known; he could acknowledge a beautiful woman with ease, even one who did not want to be recognized. But there is a significant difference between acknowledging beauty and feeling attraction.
She nips at his lower lip, using teeth and a swipe of her tongue, and attraction gives way to arousal. He prides himself on being a master of seduction, but at present, regardless of how things started, she is the one seducing him.
He pulls away from the kiss reluctantly, watchful eyes sweeping over her lithe form; one hand drops from her face, his fingers gliding gently along her forearm as her fist unclenches, involuntary. Her breath hitches.
Lisbon exhales audibly, and he can feel her pulse under his fingertips. She looks at him, half sideways, with eyes that shine infinitely dark and deep and free from reservation as the last vestiges of his self control fall by the wayside.
No longer content to remain somewhat passive, Jane tugs her back against him and leans down to kiss her again. Coaxing her mouth open, tongue slides against tongue with urgency and desperation. He slides his hands down her rib cage slowly, as though he is counting each rib individually - which, he notices, he could in fact do with ease. When his thumbs brush against the sides of her breasts, she hums appreciatively against his mouth.
This unleashes something inside of her. If he thought she seemed uncharacteristically reckless before, it's nothing compared to the frantic manner in which she tugs on the buttons of his vest.
She stops only long enough for him to tug her own T-shirt over her head before returning intently to her previous task, sending several buttons flying in the process before she finally shrugs the offending garment off his shoulders. Lisbon wastes no time, immediately starting in on his shirt before the vest reaches the ground.
Later, Jane will reflect on the fact that just over two weeks prior, he had to escape to the bathroom on his absolute farce of a date. Nothing about this feels forced or unnatural, the guilt he felt then is almost nonexistent at present - or, at least, temporarily obsolete. Just the pleasant shiver as he trails his lips from her jawline to her neck and finally along her collarbone.
There's no hiding the physical evidence of his arousal as her head falls back and she arches into him just slightly. He stills his ministrations suddenly. Eyes dark and pupils dilated, she glances up at him before running her hands along his shoulders, divesting him of his shirt in the process.
"You have to stop that," she mutters. He's certain she's trying to appear menacing, but with her shirt tossed thoughtlessly behind the coffee table and goose bumps becoming more and more visible against her pale skin with every intake of breath, she doesn't get quite the desired effect.
Though his posture straightens, he begins to run one hand idly along the exposed skin of her back, fiddling with the clasp of her bra but not releasing it just yet. "Stop what?" he asks lazily, which only seems to heighten her perceived frustration.
"You're reading me." Lisbon growls, low in her throat. Again, it comes across as more husky and less threatening. "Stop it. Don't you ever turn that off?"
"No." His answer is simple and nonchalant, punctuated only by a slight shrug of his now-bare shoulders. "And given the circumstances, I'm not sure I want to."
Jane takes immediately notice of the exaggerated huff of her chest that follows his statement. Though he silently acknowledges that he is, in fact, reading her, tonight his motivations are far more primitive than conniving. He traces indistinct but deliberate patterns across her back, absorbing every nuance of her body's reactions and cataloging each one.
"You are -" she stops short as he finally releases the clasp of her bra; she gasps, then manages to stutter, "- infuriating."
Pulling her in closer to him still, he murmurs playfully against her ear. "So I've been told."
Hands brush along her rib cage, back to front, noting the erratic thudding of her heartbeat as his thumbs begin to trace patterns along the edge of her breasts. He slows his motions as her eyes close, taking the opportunity to cast a reverent glance over her; one that she would usually never allow, especially in these circumstances, if she were coherent.
His thoughts are not entirely coherent either, however, and it's all he can manage to take hold of her hand and move towards the stairs. Her hand is warm in his as he guides her around the corner and into the bedroom.
Jane has been in her bedroom once before, on that horrible day last fall when she was framed for murder, but the room was tidy then. Fastidiously so, which left him under strong suspicions she cleaned it for the express purpose of preventing him from poking around as she baited Carmen downstairs. He would never tell her that her cleanliness revealed just as much as if she had left the room in its usual state of order; that night, he was far more fascinated in watching from the shadows as the scene played out in her living room, almost precisely as he had expected.
Her bedroom is a more natural state of subtle disarray at present, but he isn't so much looking at his surroundings for a change.
She is the one to close the door behind them; not loud or exaggerated, just a quiet exclamation as it finishes with a muffled thud. Standing by the foot of her bed, she toes off her shoes and drops her pants to the floor, and he swallows hard, still startled by her boldness.
Lisbon smirks at this, revealing subtleties to her expression that Jane has never seen before. She continues smirking, at least until he lays one palm flat against the lower edge of her rib cage, his thumb brushing lightly against the underside of her breast, but when he finally moves her hand upwards, stroking the sensitive flesh, her eyes close almost immediately.
Why yes, two can play at this game, he thinks resolutely, and maneuvers her backwards onto the bed, trailing kisses along her jawline until he reaches her mouth. There is an urgency in the way she meets his kiss, arching against him as her nails dig into his back, and he slowly trails his hand down her side, until it holds her hip in place. She grumbles against his lips - or, at least, attempts to - there is less sound and more frustrated tremors at the slight restraint.
"Patience," he murmurs against her ear.
"I've never been very good with patience," she manages to mumble back.
While his thumb traces circles against her hipbone, she drops her hands to his waist, tugging clumsily at his pants. Jane moves her hands away and slides, slowly and carefully, down the length of her body, finally pushing off the foot of the bed and freeing himself from the rest of his clothing.
Reclining back on the bed beside her, he props himself up on one elbow and with his free hand, lightly brushes against her cheek. His hand stills but remains in place as his eyes travel over her; his grin grows wider with each uneven breath she takes.
The way Lisbon lies still, almost stiff, it is as if his gaze has rendered her temporarily immobile, though he notes the flush rising against her pale skin. A truly remarkable contrast. Eyes close under the intensity of his stare, and she remains silent, just the slight uneven rise and fall of her chest as he transfixes her with his eyes alone. Just waiting.
He withdraws his hand, then quickly replaces it with his mouth on her neck, her collarbone, then finally her breasts.
With her otherwise distracted, he can easily snake one hand once again to her hip, where Lisbon doesn't even notice as he removes her underwear. She doesn't seem to notice anything at all until he strokes her once, then twice, the extent of her own arousal now betraying her. She moans low in her throat, hands fisting tight against his hair as his fingers dance lightly against her thighs.
Then, her arms fall from the base of his neck, nails digging into his back, as he curls his fingers inside her. She writhes beneath him, releasing a string of incoherent syllables with every stroke, and he coaxes her closer and closer to the edge until she cries out in his arms, tremors overtaking her body. She collapses, boneless and limp against the sheets, and he watches, breathless. Not once do his eyes flicker away.
Finally her lashes begin to flutter open, pupils still wide and dilated. She opens her mouth to speak but no sound comes out. Jane flashes an impish grin in return for her efforts. He idly drops his lips against her collarbone and shivers as one of her hands finds its way to the base of his neck, though he feels impossibly warmed by the contact.
Her hand begins to wander, tracing the length of his spine; a hint of softness is evident in her expression. Just a hint, however, before she takes her bottom lip between her teeth. She's teasing him, and she knows it.
He takes the bait, leaning forward to kiss her soundly; he can feel the thud of her heartbeat under his fingertips as he begins to tap light circles against her ribcage. She tries to turn him, and while he is usually no match for her strength, one swipe of his tongue against her lips forces her to forfeit. Instead, he rolls to lean halfway over her, eliciting a muted sigh that he feels, rather than hears, against his mouth.
Reaching across her to the nightstand, Jane slides his hand into the top drawer and retrieves the foil square. Usually, such an action would prompt a sarcastic retort from Lisbon about how he always has to know, to be right, but tonight she makes no such comment, running her hands along his shoulders as he tears open the package. He settles in between her thighs and slowly pushes inside her as her legs lift to lock behind his back.
Her eyelids flutter shut once he is fully inside, and he stills his movements, allowing time to adjust to these new sensations. To lose himself momentarily in being with a woman, with Lisbon, after so long. Until now, he had forgotten that he could feel something as simple as desire.
It's been too long, for her as well; he has strong suspicions of exactly how long. But she runs one hand through his hair and her hips shift beneath him, and he can't dwell on anything else anymore.
He begins to thrust, slowly at first, but then quickening his pace with ease as she matches him. She arches into him, tilting her hips, and his head drops to her chest, the series of her moans and sighs only serving to urge him further, deeper.
Jane is grateful for his ability to read her, to note even the smallest change in her demeanor, so that he notices the signs of her impending climax even before she does. It comes hard and fast, almost seems to take her by surprise. Just one lone cry before she unfurls beneath him, shaking pleasantly in his arms; real and solid though she is barely conscious.
He finds that alone is enough to be his undoing.
Jane doesn't expect to sleep through the night, so it comes as no great surprise when his body wakes from a dreamless slumber as the clock on Lisbon's nightstand flashes 4:27.
The bed next to him is conspicuously empty.
The house is quiet, hauntingly so. Lisbon must have slipped out sometime during the early morning hours.
His heart clenches unexpectedly at this realization. It's been a long time since he's been so completely and entirely caught off guard, even if it only lasts for a brief moment
Lying in the cool, tangled sheets, he sees flashes, memories that blur together in his mind's eye. He stares blankly at the ceiling and tries to refocus. He cannot. Instead, he abandons the bed, distractedly straightening the comforter before wandering into the en suite bathroom. He could just as easily shower at the office or return to his apartment in town, but stays at Lisbon's.
It takes him no more than ten minutes before he is seated at the wheel of his beloved Citroën and speeding through the deserted suburban streets. He arrives at the CBI building after taking several subconscious detours, just as the sun begins to rise.
When he notices her car parked just a few spaces away from the entrance, he feels something akin to relief, or maybe just quiet anticipation, seep over him slowly.
Once again, he finds Lisbon in her office, but unlike the night before, this time her presence is just as he expected. She is leaning over an open drawer in her file cabinet, and though her back is to him, he imagines her forehead is creased in frustration.
He hesitates for only a second to compose himself before he steps over the threshold and announces his presence, "If this is your master plan to avoid me, I'm sensing some very obvious flaws." He keeps his tone light and nonchalant, hoping to ease some of the tension he can see settled in her shoulders. Or at least elicit a reaction.
Lisbon stills, then pushes the drawer shut and spins around to face him. Her expression is soft and gentle, without a hint of embarrassment or anger; she appears more concerned for him than for herself. As always.
"I'm not avoiding you." She shrugs, but she isn't defensive or stern. Just honest. "I was awake, and I needed to get these folders back to the office. You're really not supposed to take them without signing them out."
Jane considers this for a beat, retort or explanation on the tip of his tongue, but at the last second, he changes his mind. Instead, he takes two steps forward and offers a hushed, "I'm sorry."
Lisbon is momentarily taken aback at this; after all, it is maybe the first apology he's ever uttered in her presence that she hasn't had to make on his behalf.
"You don't have to apologize."
But he does. For so many things.
"I mean it," he says, though he isn't speaking about taking the files against protocol anymore, and she knows it. He takes another step closer. "Lisbon," he presses on. Then, imploring. "Teresa."
She pulls away, retreating to lean against her desk. "We don't have to talk about it, Jane."
"I think we both know that's unwise," he counters. Her eyes flicker in agreement, but she channels it away quickly. Too quickly. So he continues, "You don't need to make yourself a martyr. Not for my sake."
"What if it's for my sake, too?" She is determined but quiet, and she doesn't look away. "I can't be a martyr if I'm just doing my job."
The pang of guilt he felt moments earlier now returns full force. He touches her cheek gently.
"Don't do this."
"I'm not doing anything," she argues futilely.
"Yes, you are." He leaves his palm in place, forcing her to maintain eye contact as he senses her resolve weakening. "You already made it clear you were fine not talking about what happened last night."
"There are a lot of things that happened in the last few weeks that I'd like to talk about, but that hasn't mattered to you, Jane."
His hand falls from her face, and it takes Jane more than a minute to realize that it was simply her words and not her actions that slapped it away.
"You're angry at me?" he guesses.
"That's just it. I'm not angry; I'm just tired of you lying to me." Lisbon exhales deeply, blinking back fatigue that has nothing to do with her lack of sleep. "Can't you see that by withholding the truth, you're just playing into exactly what Red John wants? He wants you to be miserable and alone, to isolate yourself. You don't have to do that." She pauses; this time she is the one to step in closer. "We have to work together, Jane. That's the only way we're going to catch him."
"And when we do?"
He abhors the fact that his question is necessary at all, but he cannot escape its inevitability. Unexpectedly, she does not blanch at his implications.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," she admits. "But until then, I need you to tell me the truth, no matter how much you think keeping it to yourself will somehow protect me. I think I deserve that much."
She deserves more, but in the absence of anything more to give her, he nods and offers a simple, "Okay."
Jane can discern from the way her face relaxes that she has said everything she wanted or needed to say. He allows silence to settle in around them for several minutes before he finally decides to add one final thought; the most important thing, but the one he had purposefully avoided since he awoke earlier that morning.
He barely recognizes the sound of his own voice as he stutters, uncertain, "My intentions last night were anything but-"
"I know." She cuts him off, her mouth curling upwards just slightly. "I didn't have to pull you back, either."
"I just don't want you to think that anything that's happened has been orchestrated to hurt you."
"I know," Lisbon repeats, and he knows that she believes him. "You haven't."
He reaches out and offers her his hand; smiles back at her when she accepts.
"I don't really know how to do this anymore," he admits finally.
"You don't have to," she answers. Though she drops his hand, she does not back away. "All I'm asking is that you tell me the truth. Everything else we can figure out later."
Jane finds her cautious optimism reassuring, even comforting. She leads him over to her office couch and settles comfortably beside him. She tells him about her own investigation with Missing Persons, and then she asks him to recount his own story. To start from the beginning and tell her everything.
Honesty does not come freely at first; there is no one with more practice in the art of a lie. It's Lisbon who guides him over that initial barrier.
After that, the truth flows without hesitation.