And we'll all float on
Disclaimer: Don't own anything. Lyrics still by Paramore, title stolen from Modest Mouse.
Spoiler: None, just set in the future.
A/N: Hey everyone! Thank you so much for all the great reviews on the first part. I had a lot of fun writing this and I hope you enjoy the conclusion. Thank you to Five Roses for doing such a great job editing. I appreciate it!
"You are the only exception
And I'm on my way to believing..."
Lisbon wakes up to the faint tapping sound coming from somewhere inside the house. Despite her lack of sleep, she's oddly alert and immediately registers that Jane is surprisingly dead to the world beside her. She dresses quickly and goes to investigate the origin of the disruption before it pulls the former insomniac out of much needed rest.
Although she's spent about three days here already, she is still surprised to locate another entrance to the house, a door through the kitchen that leads to the main street, which is where she encounters the source of the noise.
The boy pauses with his hand poised to knock again as Lisbon greets him. The detective in her instantly sizes him up, the dark, tanned skin, the cropped black hair, and lanky build. He looks to be no more than nine or ten years old and when he speaks, she realizes he's most likely a local.
"Hi, who are you?"
His dark hazel stare is marred by suspicion and confusion, but his childlike innocence and curiosity makes Lisbon smile and she leans down just a little, extending her hand.
"I'm Teresa, what's your name?"
He looks down at her hand for a second, hesitating.
"I'm a friend of Patrick's by the way," Lisbon adds tactfully and that seems to change the boy's entire demeanor. His eyes light up, and he breaks out into a grin, grasping her hand with firm enthusiasm.
"Patrick's my friend too, I'm Mal-…"
"Malcolm, my man, what's going on?"
Lisbon doesn't notice Jane walk up to the door until he greets the boy. Discreetly, he circles her waist, affectionately squeezing her side. She smiles at him from the corner of her eye.
"Mimi and Lou sent me to check on you, because you missed this morning's class."
Lisbon glances over at Jane to find a confused, blank expression on his face.
"Today is Tuesday, don't you remember?" Malcolm adds and this time the mischievous glint in his eye is hard to ignore. Fondly, Lisbon deduces that he must not be the best behaved or disciplined kid, something she thinks he and the man standing besides her may have in common.
Jane finally comes to and smiles brightly at Malcolm. "I must have slept through my alarm," he explains, and only Lisbon seems to note the innuendo in his tone, which causes her to shake her head slightly.
Malcolm waits restlessly, eyes flitting between them until Jane leans forward and addresses him.
"Tell you what, give us like fifteen, twenty minutes and we'll be right over, okay?"
It's not supposed to feel this good to have him say "we" and "us" but Lisbon can no more help the flutter in her stomach than she can her budding curiosity.
Malcolm seems satisfied with the response and takes off down the street on the bike he had dropped by the sidewalk.
"Good kid," Jane murmurs fondly, watching until Malcolm rounds the corner. He shuts the door a few minutes later and Lisbon turns to look at him, arms folded over her chest. "Okay, explain."
But it seems Jane has no intention of doing so. Instead, he traps her against the door and kisses her deeply, holding her without an inch of space between them.
"Shower first, explanations later," he murmurs playfully against her lips after they break apart. Despite being a little winded from their kiss, Lisbon still arches her eyebrow at him amusedly.
"Are you sure showering is a good idea right now? You did promise the kid you'd be there in twenty minutes."
The half smirk playing on her lips and the way her green eyes sparkle mischievously are enough of a challenge to his self control, but Jane smiles nonetheless, nuzzling her neck affectionately.
"Are you implying that once I get you naked again, I'll suddenly forget all my prior commitments?"
His candor sends a jolt of arousal all the way down to her toes, but not to be outdone, Lisbon grabs the hem of her t-shirt and unabashedly pulls it over her head. "You be the judge of that," she teases triumphantly as she watches Jane's eyes darken.
Still, she has barely any time to revel in her victory as Jane removes the remainder of her clothes and pulls her towards the hallway. The concept of time is lost on them both as soon as he shuts the bathroom door.
She watches as Jane captivates a group of wide eyed school children with a certain sting in her heart. Back when they worked together, she loved observing the way Jane handled himself around kids, especially those that had suffered loss or sustained trauma.
He was always gentle and sweet with them, also a little teasing when it was appropriate, and in the process of focusing solely on them, he always left himself unguarded, exposing his rarely seen vulnerability.
Now, any joy she may feel is trumped by the cold revelation that this is yet another sign that he has no plans of coming back to Sacramento. He's not just hiding here, waiting out the aftermath of his (poor) decisions. No, this is his home now. He has a house that's decidedly lived in, and friends, regardless of how little they are, and now she's learned that he has a job.
He's putting down roots and it absolutely petrifies her, because if she's honest with herself, she'd imagined that she would find him in a state of bare existence; instead he's thriving in this place…(without her).
The classroom suddenly feels a little too claustrophobic and she slips out discreetly, hoping not to draw attention to herself.
The long, empty hallway leads to a backyard and she ends up perched on a bench overlooking the playground. The children's rehabilitation center is adjacent to a preschool, but it's not quite lunchtime yet so the playground is empty, giving Lisbon a much needed reprieve.
The quietude calms her nerves a little and she closes her eyes, breathing deeply. Having spent most of her adult life living in temperamental Northern California weather, she can't help being completely seduced by the warm, mild climate of the South. It's early September, but summer refuses to give way to autumn and the only indication of an approaching seasonal change is the soft breeze that keeps the scorching midday sun at bay.
However, not even the serene atmosphere around her can stop her thoughts from churning and she flinches involuntarily when a tentative hand lands on her bare shoulder. Lisbon looks up to find a pair of troubled blue eyes peering at her.
She manages a smile, but Jane sees right through it and slides onto the bench next to her. "You know, I've been doing this for about seven months now and I have never had someone walk out during a session."
"That's because most of your audience is under the age of twelve," Lisbon teases, stealing a glance in his direction.
"Are you saying that I should broaden my horizons?" His voice is light but he doesn't hide his concern, reminding her that despite their banter, he hasn't forgotten that something is amiss.
She sees the question at the tip of his tongue but knows that if he asks, she won't be able to lie, so before Jane can say anything else, she leans up and wrapping one arm around his neck, kisses him.
When they pull apart, she runs her thumb along his jaw, an act of affection meant to divert his attention.
"No, you're doing a great thing here."
The distraction seems to work at first; Jane leans over and presses a kiss to her temple in thanks. Yet, when he pulls back, Lisbon notes that his expression doesn't waver.
She nods, smiling, but Jane remains unconvinced. Still, he doesn't press it further and Lisbon is grateful.
They'll have to talk at some point, but not on such a beautiful day, she reasons.
"I can't stay."
They're lounging on the back porch again, the sun dipping beneath the orange horizon, when the words slip unwittingly from her lips, now suspended in the dusky silence.
It's only been a week and a half but the end of her self-imposed hiatus is approaching, bringing with it a new dose of reality that she can't ignore. Although spending time with Jane, ensconced in their own little world, seems to be exactly what she needed to scrub away all the dirt and grime of the last year, the knowledge that this will inevitably come to an end unnerves her more and more each day.
She's in love with him, has been probably for a long time, but instead of being overjoyed about it, since she's almost certain the feeling is mutual, Lisbon feels the small seeds of anger and bitterness sprouting with every sunset she witnesses here.
She doesn't need to confront him to know that Jane has no intention of coming back, but a part of her is still impossibly frustrated with him, not even so much for how quickly he disappeared after what he did last year, but more for his current behavior.
It's clear that he's letting his past dictate his present and although she's always known in the back of her mind that him getting his revenge would not make his demons disappear, she can't let go of the fact that he's savagely holding onto them, refusing to let go. She wants to help him, she does, but a part of her is also incredibly hurt by how effortlessly he has lived here, detached from everything and everyone (her) he used to know.
Perhaps it's the simple acknowledgement, the very belief that while she's spent the last year oscillating between regret and hurt, he's been creating another life for himself that finally drains her patience.
As soon as she says it, she feels Jane stiffen behind her, but she doesn't turn to look at him, instead stares straight ahead, waiting.
"I know," he finally murmurs, brushing a few strands of hair to expose her neck. The kiss he presses behind her ear makes her shiver, but she suppresses the tingle rushing through her veins. Whether he means to or not, his show of affection only irritates her further.
She turns so she's no longer in his arms, but rather facing him. This time, Jane is fully confronted by the display of her ire, which she's barely restraining.
Despite them not really discussing any future plans, he's known from the moment Lisbon arrived what her intentions were, and selfishly he didn't press the issue because having her in his life again was too great an indulgence to pass up. He hadn't realized how lonely he was or how much he actually missed her until she showed up on his doorstep, and he'd so easily fallen into his old routine with her that now as she stares at him with blazing jade eyes, he's not even sure what to say.
He's in love with her, has been for quite a while now, and the realization that he's likely been hurting her all this time makes him ache in a way he's only ever experienced in connection to his past. There's not a day that hasn't gone by in the last twelve months that he hasn't thought of her: how upset she must be, how angry and abandoned she must feel. But his family and Red John are also never far from his mind, and it's those thoughts that keep him in a stranglehold, not letting him move forward.
"What do you want me to say?"
Jane realizes it's probably very foolish to incite Lisbon further, but reasons that their eventual separation will be easier to handle if she's angry at him. In the last week, she's managed to completely surrender her heart to him and he's going to squeeze it until it bursts, because he's a damn coward.
Predictably, her posture falters as she expels a humorless chuckle. "Well there's a lot I want you to say, but I doubt I'm going to hear any of it."
They haven't fought in so long, she's almost forgotten how easily Jane can rile her up and before she knows it, her fists curl resolutely at her sides, rage gripping her like a vice.
Still, somewhere in the back of her head a little voice reminds her that she's survived much worse than this. One doesn't lose both parents before the age of seventeen without growing a thick skin and she'll be damned if Patrick Jane will be her final undoing, even if his silence is slowly chipping away at her already fractured heart.
"Anyway, I have to be back at work by the end of next week and since I'll likely be heading back alone, I figure I should at least take some time to visit my brothers."
She doesn't wait for him to say anything, and gets up to go inside, but Jane grabs her arm, not letting her go far.
"It's not like that, you know."
His calm tone spurs a surge of anger, replacing any sympathy or understanding she may feel with pure indignation.
"It's exactly like that."
They're standing face to face now, but her lack of height doesn't diminish the force of her rage. The air grows thick with tension.
"You can stay here and pretend that the rest of the world doesn't exist for as long as you like, but unfortunately the rest of us cannot afford that luxury."
And once again, it's not about what she says but about what she doesn't say. Flashes of what they could have flood his mind but the past is never too far behind and he wills the tantalizing promise of a future with Lisbon away, shaking his head.
"You think that's what I'm doing here? Just deluding myself into a peaceful existence, because I'm too afraid to face the consequences of what happened?"
In all their years of working together, Lisbon has never seen the former consultant become quite so livid so quickly and it's obvious that she's struck a nerve, but any compassion she may have felt has long since been sapped from her, leaving nothing but her survival instinct behind.
"You've made it painstakingly clear by your absence that what I think doesn't matter to you."
The words sting more than he'd like them to, effectively bringing up issues he thought they'd both moved past by now. Jane suddenly remembers a time when he'd been able to honestly say that he would be there for her no matter what; the realization that he's no longer able to do that feels like someone has punched the air out of him.
"You don't know what you're talking about, Lisbon," he snaps back and can see the spark of fire alighting in her green iris, which only provokes him more.
"Not a day goes by that I don't think about what happened, that I don't wish I had at least said goodbye to you. Just because I'm elsewhere doesn't mean the events of that night don't haunt me, doesn't mean that I don't wish for things between you and me to have gone differently. But you need understand that I-, I can't regret what I did. I made a promise a long time ago that I was going to avenge my family and I did, and regardless of anything else, I can't feel any remorse for it. I can't."
"I never expected you to regret it."
Her reply is simple but exact, blindsiding him and delivering a blow that knocks him off balance. Just like that, his anger dissipates, replaced by a sinking realization that he's been wrong about her thoughts this entire time.
"I know you had your reasons for what you did, Jane. I've had years to come to terms with the fact that you would get your revenge in one way or another. I'd only hoped that somehow you'd come out alive and you did. But then you left and I was angry for a long time, but now, now I see it doesn't even matter."
Her arms are folded over her torso and she's looking at him just as fiercely as before, but the hint of defeat in her expression is unmistakable and the desire to draw her closer and rewind the last twenty minutes is impossibly attractive.
He wants nothing more than to hold her again, but a part of him already feels it's too late for that, so he doesn't back down, simply stares her down as he asks,
"And why doesn't it matter anymore?"
He's not sure what he's expecting, but the way she hesitates at first, worrying her lip between her teeth for a moment sends a cold rush skittering down his spine, as if foreshadowing something terrible.
It doesn't help that she steps closer to him; disheartened emerald gaze searching his face as she gently runs her thumb across his cheekbone. Her touch soothes him in spite of their argument and he nearly reaches out to hold her, but something in her expression, a twinge of regret, halts him.
"You're letting the past control you, and as much as I care for you, I can't watch someone else I love self destruct because of something they can't change."
As Lisbon speaks, Jane begins to feel as though he's been injected with a heavy dose of morphine; he can't think or speak or move, mind unable to grasp how quickly everything is unraveling between them again. His heart aches in almost the same way it did when he walked away from her without so much as a goodbye, but this time it's so much worse, because she's staring at him with those huge defeated eyes, hanging onto a shred of futile hope.
He's too broken for her anyway, he reasons, too damaged, and she deserves better, but he knows his thoughts are merely a ruse, a way to justify not fighting for her when he should. For a moment, he's tempted to do just that, but it passes, and he watches unmoving as Lisbon presses a kiss to his cheek and retreats into the house.
It hurts like hell, but she walks away, because she's tired of putting others, especially him, before herself and she's made too many first moves already. It's his turn.
As always, it's about the things they leave unsaid between them, and she realizes almost as soon as she steps into the living room, hands unexpectedly shaking, that the past is too difficult an entity for Jane to part with.
(Just like her father)
Still, she doesn't leave right away.
Instead, she gives him a few hours, holding onto the vain hope that she's wrong. However sometime in the early hours of the morning, without the soft breeze and the warmth of the sun, reality sinks in much faster and Lisbon makes the split second decision to gather her belongings and go.
She casts one look over her shoulder, before slipping out the front door. He never said goodbye to her either.
From inside his bedroom, Jane hears the sound of the door clicking shut and a sense of urgency passes through him, but just as quickly, it vanishes into the shadows on the ceiling.
He hesitates only briefly before turning over to face the wall.
She doesn't go visit her brothers.
Instead, she buys a travel guide at the airport, extends her sabbatical, and spends three glorious weeks attempting to forget Patrick Jane on the streets of Paris, Madrid, and Tokyo.
It doesn't work of course, but when her plane touches home soil Lisbon feels refreshed and more unburdened than she has in years, actually excited at the prospect of returning to work; something she hasn't felt since the bullpen couch became vacant.
She even misses the relative disarray of her house, and vows to stop living out of cardboard boxes and actually take some time to decorate.
A fresh start of sorts.
She's too busy flipping through the thick stack of mail to notice that she's not alone in her living room until she flips on the lights and freezes instantly by the door, nearly grasping it for support.
It's as if time has effectively frozen, as if the last year hasn't happened, as if this is just another ordinary evening, her returning home from work exhausted to find him sitting in her living room, sipping tea.
His gray suit jacket hangs neatly over the back of her kitchen chair, and the only indication that he spent thirteen months living in a bungalow on the beach is the tanned skin of his forearms, contrasting nicely with the rolled up sleeves of his starched white shirt.
As soon as their eyes meet, Jane stands up and walks towards to her, lips curving upward as he watches her intently. The sense of déjà vu is so strong, Lisbon simply stares at him with wide, uncomprehending eyes.
"What?" he asks, now grinning wider. "You didn't think I'd find you?"
The memory flashes in her mind instantly. Him, frozen in surprise, the sun blazing down on them, as she tilts her head, asking him the same question seemingly an eternity ago.
"What are you doing here?" She whispers, still in mild disbelief.
Jane stops smiling, clearly struggling with his response, but Lisbon doesn't say anything, she just waits. Despite the flutter of warmth, there's knot of fear and apprehension that stops her from reaching out to him. She hasn't forgotten anything.
"You were right," he says finally, but it doesn't alleviate her worry. "I was so determined to start fresh elsewhere that I didn't understand that all my decisions and thoughts were guided by what happened in the past. I hadn't truly realized it until you showed up."
Lisbon stands, motionless, absorbing his words, and Jane takes a tentative step closer, afraid to scare her off as she watches him ambivalently. She can feel the first spindles of forgiveness start to twine around her, but a part of her still can't let go. She knows that regardless of what happens now, it will require a leap of faith and trust on her part. She needs reassurance that he won't disappear on her again but she may not get it.
The question is whether she wants to take that chance with him or not.
"If I had seen that you were truly at peace, I never would have said anything."
"I know." Jane nods, a wistful smile forming on his lips. "That's the thing about you. I might be good at reading other people, but you are the best at reading me. You know things about me that even I don't recognize and I only realized this recently."
He's looking at her somewhat expectantly, but Lisbon isn't sure what he wants to her to say. It's difficult to make sense of all this; she was totally unprepared to face him, had been convinced that she would likely never see him again, and now he's here…
After a moment of heavy silence, Jane finally exhales and carefully reaches out to place his hand on her shoulder.
"I know I surprised you today, but I haven't done right by you in so long that it made no sense for me to wait to tell you this. I want you to know that I'm here for good and whether you decide to have me in your life or want nothing to do with me ever again, I'll understand. I just want to make it clear that I want you, more than anything, and if you'll have me, I promise I'll try every day to prove to you that I'm worth keeping around."
He tries to coax a smile from her, but Lisbon is too wrapped up in thought. His words propel her into another memory, her on a train from Paris to London, an older passenger sharing his life story with her in broken English. The conversation inevitably falls on the topic of love and she remembers the sorrow on his face as he tells her that the worst kind of regret comes from not taking chances with one's heart.
And even though she's completely terrified to open herself up again, especially with Jane, she knows it would be horribly hypocritical of her to still cling to the past while asking him not to. The knot beneath her ribcage dissolves; slender fingers reach out to trail along the buttons of his vest, as she peers at him through hooded lashes, a half smirk on her lips.
"So does this mean you're actually making the first move this time?"
It's a jab at him, but Jane knows there's some doubt in it, so he draws her closer, if only to reflect how truly serious he is about this.
"I think it's about time that I do."
Lisbon doesn't say anything, but when Jane threads his fingers through hers, she grips him tightly, realizing that the risk she's about to take doesn't seem so daunting with the past, marked by hurt, regret, and the most breathtaking sunsets she's ever seen, now only a faint memory floating somewhere on a distant coastline, never to dock again.