They wrapped up the investigations and filed their case reports. The mystery of Witsett's and Avery's murders would probably never be solved, but everyone accepted the plausible theory that Fargo had killed Witsett after she shot Avery over Steiner's death. The hidden bugs and cameras were located and removed, and Hightower instituted a policy of sporadic electronic sweeps throughout the CBI building.
The unit received commendations from the AG for their handling of the case. There was a rough moment when he eyed Lisbon suspiciously. Remembering that he had had dealings with Elizabeth in the past, Jane and Lisbon both knew he may have deduced at least part of the truth of what had happened. But he had been the one to bring Tierney in, so what could he really say or do? In the end, he was so relieved to be able to tell the voting citizens of California that the serial killer who had terrorized them for over ten years was dead that he apparently decided to let sleeping dogs lie.
Jane worried things would never really be normal again for the team but was surprised and relieved that after things settled down, it only took two weeks for them to get back to some semblance of the way things had been before. Cho was reading a book Tierney had given him. Rigsby eventually ate his way through the snacks she left behind, and Jane got his mostly unused desk back. He was disappointed to find that the holster had been removed. Van Pelt was trying harder than ever to impress her boss but was much more confident of her success in doing so.
Jane still had his dark moments. Nightmares still plagued him, though with less frequency. The insomnia wasn't as much of a problem, but he didn't expect that to clear up altogether as he had suffered from it long before Red John, long before his marriage even. At least now his waking moments weren't filled with thoughts of blood and violence.
He and Lisbon never spoke about the Avery case again. Sometimes he was angry with her about the whole thing, but it was more than balanced with gratitude for what she had done for him. He knew that in the future there would be times when he was angry with Elizabeth for making him stay; that in frustration with the CBI's rules or the slow-grinding gears of the justice system or out of simple selfishness he would want to chuck it all and just walk away. But he was loath to even consider the possibility that he could break his promises to either woman, especially Lisbon. He knew that in his past life, he would have had no qualms about breaking his word and doing as he pleased. Rickety sort of honor, indeed.
The only discernable difference was in the way Lisbon treated him. She was very nice and polite, and she always listened to his theories and plans. She stopped yelling at him and hadn't threatened to do him bodily harm since they had returned to work.
Two weeks was all he could take.
It took him an entire day of complaining about the tea, doing magic tricks in the bullpen and walking into her office uninvited to get an eye roll out of her.
The next day, he refused to get up to accompany her to a crime scene until she growled and kicked his couch in frustration.
Calling her Tess earned him a glare, but when he called her "Woman" for the first time in weeks, she offered him that uniquely-Lisbon begrudging half-quirked smile.
Another week passed, and she was approaching normal, but he was missing just one thing from her. He had to go to extreme measures, but giving Mash her cell phone number really wasn't so terrible. She could change it easily enough. Honestly, the woman would be relieved to be able to vent with the wild abandon she had enjoyed since the beginning of their acquaintance. He heard the little chirping sound of her ringtone come from her office.
He stood up from the couch, stretched, and walked nonchalantly into her office.
I know I've said it before, but I have LOVED writing this. Thanks so much to all who have read and reviewed and alert-ed and favorite-ed. I want to write another - actually have it in the works, but I'm not as prolific as some of you. Besides, I'm enjoying reading and rereading all of YOUR stories!