A/N: So I was talking to yana about the fandom, and how I was intrigued by the prompt. And then this idea popped into my head. I doubt it's what she was expecting given the subject of our conversation, but whatever. Here we go. I guess it's my version of a "Five times..." fic. Except, you know, there are six. All sections are actually unrelated by the way. And if you don't like the first one they do vary in tone, I promise. Enjoy! (hopefully)

As always, I own nothing.


Variations at an Airport


i. Hatred


Teresa Lisbon hated airports.

She always had. There were people everywhere, rushing this way and that. The buildings were always confusing, you never knew where you were going, or if your flight was even going to be on time. You showed up hours early, and sometimes security took so long to get through that you were still afraid you might miss your flight, which meant that you became one of the irritating people rushing around trying to find where you were supposed to get on the damn plane.

Or sometimes security took ten minutes, you breezed through all the checkpoints, getting your ticket took mere minutes, you were comfortably seated in the correct waiting area the prescribed half hour before the plane was due to take off. Everything was going just as it should be.

Then because of a massive storm several hundred kilometres away, your plane was delayed two hours. And of course, by that point there was nothing much to do other than browse the overpriced booths and stores nearby, hoping for something decent to read to occupy your mind while you killed time at one of the coffee shops. Or maybe one of the bars.

Today was definitely a day that required alcohol.

So Lisbon found herself a table in the corner, ordered herself a drink and prayed that another beleaguered traveler didn't decide to come over for a friendly chat. She was so not equipped to deal with that right now.

Of course what did happen was far worse.

The television in her line of sight was switched, not to a brainless sporting event (of course not), but to the local news.

It should have come as no surprise when his face swam into her peripheral vision.

It was the typical coverage really, the usual clip about a CBI Agent being gunned down in the line of duty, the typical headshot, plus some footage of flashing lights and people running around in a panic.

She even caught sight of Jane at one point, standing off to the side looking distraught, albeit unharmed.

It had taken the rest of the team half an hour to find them. Why so long? Because Jane had decided to go rogue again, and as always, Cho had gone willingly. And this time there hadn't been any cavalry to arrive in the nick of time; Jane hadn't been able to hypnotize anyone, to talk his way out of a sticky situation, and there had been too many for Cho to reasonably defend both of them against.

Lisbon knew it wasn't actually her fault, that her only mistake had been to trust her second in command, if not her consultant, and to assume that they'd learned their lesson about doing anything that monumentally stupid, at least not without telling her about it. But no. They really had been that stupid. Or maybe just that arrogant.

She'd been cleared of any wrongdoing of course. But it didn't matter. After all, even though Jane and Cho both had large doses of vigilantism in them, they were still her team.

She hadn't been able to protect them.

And that was the one thing she couldn't deal with, so she was running far away, desperate for a job that would let her fade into obscurity and her own misery.

Lisbon gritted her teeth, downed her drink in seconds, and stormed out of the bar before she caught any more video coverage of her failure. After all, Cho's blood was on her hands. Hers and Jane's.

And she would never forgive him for that.

Or for making her feel like she no other option but to run away.

She exhaled audibly when her flight number was finally called.

Well... The bastard was Hightower's problem now.

Good riddance.


ii. Friendship


Teresa Lisbon hated airports.

Too many people, too little space, too much confusion. And for some reason, even though the travel time was inevitably shorter on the rare cases where the team ended up flying to their destination rather than driving, the journey always felt ten times more exhausting. Lisbon never had been able to figure out why.

"Hey Lisbon! Did you know there was a new place around the corner that sells homemade cinnamon buns? You can even choose your own toppings."

Well, apart from the obvious of course.

"Jane, do you really think you need sugar right now?" Lisbon asked him.

"Is sugar ever really something one needs?" her consultant wondered as he plopped himself down in the seat beside her.

Oh good. Jane was in one of those moods. Lisbon sighed and closed her copy of the case file. Trying to read it now would be pointless anyway. "Well, I suppose you could argue that sometimes humans need it as an energy source. Especially if there's nothing else available," she pointed out rationally.

"True," Jane admitted. "There are other things available here though."

"Yes, yes there are," Lisbon said dryly.

"I see you bought your usual peanuts," Jane observed. "Didn't even spring for the honey-roasted ones. Uh oh. You must be feeling particularly practical today Lisbon."

"Jane..." she warned.

"I'm kidding," Jane said quickly. "I know honey-roasted's only for the way back from a case. After we've solved it, as a little reward. It's a very responsible system you've got there Lisbon."

"Thank you," she told him sarcastically. "Your approval means everything to me."

Jane just grinned at her inanely.

"Jane if you want a cinnamon bun just go and get a cinnamon bun," she said finally when it became obvious that it had no intention of going away on his own.

"But what about you?" he asked.

She rolled her eyes, "I don't want a cinnamon bun."

"I think you do," Jane replied unconcerned. "I think you've been secretly longing for the sugary goodness of a cinnamon bun ever since I brought it up."

"I think you're wrong," she told him.

"Tut tut Lisbon, when will you learn?" Jane asked. "Where you're concerned I'm never wrong."

She scoffed at that, shooting him a look.

Jane smirked.

Irritatingly she felt her own lips quirking up in response.

Obviously sensing victory was within reach Jane closed in for the kill. "We could share one," he suggested.

"We could," Lisbon agreed. "If I wanted part of a cinnamon bun of course."

"Really Lisbon, now you're just being stubborn. You and I both know that you do in fact want a cinnamon bun," Jane repeated. "Besides, think of it this way. If you split it with me it means I'm only eating half the sugar. Think of my health."

Lisbon paused.

Jane quickly spun so that he was crouched in front of her and she was forced to look right at him. All the better to convince her to do what he wanted she supposed. "Come on, the flight's not for another forty minutes," her consultant cajoled. "We've got time. And while we eat it I'll regale you with my theories about our case so you can even feel like you're working."

Lisbon eyed him warily. "You already have theories about the case?"

"When do I not have theories about the case?" he countered.

"And you're really going to tell me them," she double-checked.

"Yes," Jane nodded.

"All of them?" she asked suspiciously. "You're not going to leave out key details so I look like an idiot later?"

"I'll tell you everything. Truthfully Teresa," he told her.

Oh, Teresa eh? He was pulling out the big guns now, using her first name and everything. "Really?" she asked.

"Yes," Jane said in exasperation. "Think about it. What happens if I lie to you now? You inevitably find out in a day or so, then you'll be grumpy the whole case, including the plane ride back and then you won't play hangman with me on the plane or let me sleep on the couch in your office while you do your paperwork. And I don't think either of us really wants that."

Lisbon eyed him warily. "I get to choose the icing," she said finally.

Jane offered her a hand to help her up out of her chair. "Of course," he said immediately.

Lisbon grinned to herself as she let him lead her around the corner.

She didn't even want to know how he'd known she'd been craving cinnamon.


iii. Indifference


Teresa Lisbon hated airports.

At least she wouldn't be in one for much longer. It was always more relaxing getting off the plane than getting on. You knew the journey was going to be over soon. She was particularly relieved that the boring conference she'd been attending was finally over. Lisbon grabbed her bag from the baggage carousel, pleased that it had actually appeared promptly. Then she headed to the doors where she was supposed to meet her ride.

"MOM!" she heard bellowed across the airport.

Her face breaking out into a smile Lisbon turned towards the voice and immediately crouched down and held out her arms to catch her daughter. "Hey there sweetie," she said into her daughter's hair. "I missed you."

"Missed you too," the five-year-old Veronica told her mother happily.

"Did you and Daddy have a good time while I was gone?" Lisbon asked.

"Yup," Veronica said. "He let me have ice cream yesterday," she added, apparently apropos of nothing.

"Did he?" Lisbon asked, raising an eyebrow at her husband who had finally joined them.

He just shrugged and kissed her on the cheek when she stood. "We both needed extra cheering up because you were gone, right Ronnie?"

"Yup!" Veronica agreed cheerfully.

Lisbon rolled her eyes slightly. "Well, I suppose that's allowed then," she told them.

"I thought you'd agree," her husband replied before wrapping his arm around her waist and picking up her bag. "So are we ready to head home?"

"Absolutely," Lisbon said. Turning towards the exit she froze slightly when something caught her eye. "I can't believe it," she murmured to herself.

"What's wrong?"

Wordlessly Lisbon gestured towards the departure screens across the airport.

Obediently her husband followed her gaze where he saw a vaguely familiar looking, and still quite striking blond man. "Hey isn't that?" he asked.

"Yup," Lisbon agreed. "Patrick Jane. I haven't seen him in years."

"Why don't you go say hi? Ronnie and I can wait here if you prefer," her husband offered.

Lisbon watched Jane for a minute biting her lip. She literally hadn't seen him in years though he hadn't changed much. Not physically at least. Mentally she had no idea. He'd left the CBI long ago. The Red John case had gone completely cold. Most people thought that California's worst serial killer had just died of natural causes. Eventually even Jane had given up. Well, officially at least. Lisbon suspected he was still searching for clues on his own. But the man had lost all interest in solving other cases. When he finally left her team both of them had promised to try and keep in touch, both of them also knew it probably wouldn't happen. And it hadn't.

Lisbon sighed before shaking her head. "No," she said slowly. "It might be better not to."

"He might like to see you again," her sweet, sane, sensible husband suggested.

Lisbon smiled affectionately. "He might," she admitted. "But I think it's probably better if we keep that door closed. In the end less complicated's probably for the best where Jane is concerned."

"You sure?" the man she'd had the good sense to marry asked her.

But Lisbon was sure about this. "Yeah, he might be trying to put things behind him and I wouldn't want to open old wounds. Maybe he's finally happy. I hope so." Lisbon said with a final backwards glance at her former consultant. Then taking her daughter's hand she asked brightly. "So are you two sick of ice cream after yesterday or do you think we should stop for some on the way home?"

"More ice cream!" Veronica said enthusiastically.

"Somehow I thought that's what you'd say," Lisbon told her.

"I'm glad your home," her husband said as he took her other hand.

"Me too," Lisbon agreed nudging him with her shoulder. "Come on, let's get out of here."

She left the airport without another backwards glance so she didn't notice when the blonde man standing under the departure screen glanced in her direction. His eyes widened in surprise and recognition before his mouth quirked into a small smile. At least one of them deserved to be happy. He was glad it was her.

And he knew why she hadn't approached him.

He wouldn't have either if he'd been the one to see her first.

Shrugging to himself Patrick Jane headed towards his departure gate barely giving Teresa Lisbon a second thought. After all, there was a small chance one of Red John's former prison acquaintances might be currently living in Oregon.


iv. Obliviousness


Teresa Lisbon hated airports.

She wasn't really in them all that much. A few cases a year for work, maybe a flight back east to visit her brothers about once a year. Whatever the reason, airports were always worst at the holidays. She just hoped to make it to her brother's house for Christmas without a major incident.

Lisbon was weaving her way through the throngs of people when she suddenly had to spin quickly to her left in order to avoid a woman with what looked like twelve shopping bags and a baby carriage and was determinedly headed her way, whether Lisbon moved or not. Unfortunately Lisbon's sudden change of course sent her crashing into a blonde man who'd been spinning to his right, presumably to avoid a frantic businessman practically running through the terminal.

Lisbon watched as her open water bottle went flying, but she was powerless to stop it. Luckily the liquid mostly missed them both. But she also dropped her package of peanuts (luckily unopened) and her magazine, before almost crashing to the ground herself.

Lisbon felt the key word there was almost.

"Oh, sorry about that," the stranger said with a friendly grin as he grabbed her arm to steady her, and probably himself. "I hope I haven't caused you any lasting damage."

She smiled back. After all, it hadn't been his fault, and he seemed nice enough. "I don't think so," she admitted. "I hope I didn't get water all over you."

He shrugged. "Not much. And it's better than the grape juice my daughter manages to get everywhere. Toddler," he explained as an afterthought. "Besides, it was partly my fault anyway."

Lisbon nodded, before picking up her stuff.

"Here, let me help you with that," he said, immediately joining her crouched on the floor. "I insist. Besides, I feel as if I leave you down here on your own you're liable to get trampled by the masses."

"Whereas this way we both get trampled?" Lisbon asked slightly sarcastically.

That earned her a beaming smile that almost took her breath away. "Exactly," her new friend said with a wink.

"Well thank you," she said somewhat self-consciously.

"No problem," he said as he stood, brushing off his pants before offering her a hand to help her up. After eyeing him suspiciously for a moment (something that only seemed to amuse him further) Lisbon took it.

"Well, I hope you have a happy holiday," she told him awkwardly.

"You too," he said. "And try to forget work for a few days. A little relaxation won't kill you."

Before she could reply he was gone.

Lisbon stared after him for a moment wondering why he'd said that. Not that it mattered, but it was interesting. At least the guy, whoever he was, hadn't been a jerk. A bit too polished in an obvious way maybe. After all, everything, from his hair to his shiny suit, was far too perfect to be genuine. But there'd been a twinkle in his eye and something in his smile that she'd almost liked.

Lisbon shrugged before going back to her magazine. After all, what did the stranger matter to her?


v. Abandonment


Teresa Lisbon hated airports.

She absolutely hated them. Especially since in her life being at an airport almost always meant one of two things, either she was heading off somewhere because someone had been brutally murdered and the local authorities couldn't cope, or someone was leaving her and she had to say goodbye. You'd think that would mean there would also be a roughly equal number of homecomings, but that didn't seem to be how her life worked.

Instead she got to stand there pretending everything was perfectly fine while she watched the rest of her team say goodbye to her consultant. Scratch that, ex-consultant. Jane had quit not three days ago.

"We're going to miss you man," Rigsby said, shaking the consultant's hand, before adding a man hug as an afterthought.

"Yeah, I'll miss you guys too," Jane said. "But we'll still keep in touch. Don't forget, I'm moving to northern California, not the other side of the country," he reminded them.

"It's far enough to fly," Cho pointed out.

"Well yes," Jane admitted. "As always that's true Cho."

"Thank you," Cho replied.

"Say goodbye to Elise for me," Jane added.

"I will," Cho said curtly. "I'm glad you finally got Red John."

"Thanks," Jane said with a nod.

Wordlessly the two men shook hands before Jane moved on to Van Pelt.

Lisbon couldn't help noticing that Jane hadn't bothered to try and convince her second in command that he'd keep in touch. It didn't surprise her. Jane never had much cause to try and deceive Cho.

And he had finally "gotten" Red John. Oh, Jane hadn't actually killed the serial killer himself. Once Red John had realized he was trapped he'd actually taken his own life, to Lisbon's secret relief. At least that way the serial killer had spared her the trouble of having to arrest her consultant for murder, or somehow prevent him from committing it.

She'd almost felt happy for a day or two afterwards.

Then Jane had walked into her office and told her he needed a break from the CBI. She'd thought he'd meant a vacation at first. Which made sense. But it soon became clear that wasn't what he meant at all. Oh sure, he said he might come back once he figured out his life, but Lisbon was fairly certain Patrick Jane was well on his way to putting law enforcement behind him.

She'd have been happy for him if it didn't mean that a man who'd become (in a completely insane sort of way) one of her best friends was leaving her.

She glanced over to see him hugging Van Pelt.

"I'll miss you Grace," he told her.

"Take care of yourself Jane," the redhead answered.

"Take care of the team," Jane shot back with a grin.

Van Pelt smiled. "I'll see what I can do," she promised. "And make sure you send me an e-mail from time to time. If you don't you know I will hunt you down electronically."

"Of course Grace," he promised.

With that Jane disengaged from the team. "Oh I left you all presents in your right-hand desk drawers. The ones you foolishly keep locked," he told them, ignoring their groans of protest.

Then it was Lisbon's turn.

"You may not believe me, but I really will miss you Lisbon," Jane told her. "And I really did learn a lot working for you."

"Like what? How to take a punch?" she asked, going for the joke.

Jane smirked. "Well, I was thinking more about you know, crime-fighting and maybe friendship, but who could forget your violent tendencies."

"I didn't just mean punches from me," Lisbon told him in irritation.

"I know," Jane assured her. "Take care of yourself Teresa," he added. "And try and be happy would you?"

"I could say the same thing to you," she replied.

"With you I think the impulse to care for and fix the broken can probably be assumed at this point," Jane replied.

Lisbon didn't know what to say to that. He looked like he wanted to say more, or maybe give her a hug as well. But in the end he just stared at her. "Well, I hope you find what you're looking for Patrick Jane," she told him, summoning up a smile that she knew wouldn't even come close to convincing him she was okay with his decision.

"You too Teresa Lisbon," he replied.

She shrugged. "What I've got isn't so bad," she reminded him.

Jane grinned softly. "Guess not," he admitted. "I'll keep in touch."

Lisbon may not have been a mentalist, but even she could see the lie in his eyes. And he knew it. "Sure," she said just as softly.

She could see his gratitude that she'd gone along with his lies just one more time.

Why not? She'd been doing it for years now.

Jane had achieved his goal. He'd helped bring down Red John. Now he was leaving.

He said it was a break, that he needed time to sort out his life, get his head on straight. But they both knew the truth.

He wasn't coming back.

So once again she was standing in airport watching someone she cared about walk away.


vi. Surprise, or something like it


Teresa Lisbon hated airports.

She always had. There were people everywhere, rushing this way and that. The buildings were always confusing, you never knew where you were going, or if your flight was even going to be on time. You showed up hours early, and sometimes security took so long to get through that you were still afraid you might miss your flight, which meant that you became one of the irritating people rushing around trying to find where you were supposed to get on the damn plane.

Thank god she was arriving back in Sacramento, not departing from it.

It'd been a brutal case, a son who killed his father and brother in hopes of getting his inheritance early. Said inheritance had consisted of an admittedly sizeable fortune and a quite a lovely beach house, making it something Lisbon could understand killing over, at least in theory. Of course, unbeknownst to the scheming son his affectionate father had planned on giving him half of his inheritance early as a birthday present in about two weeks time. Needless to say his one surviving family member, a younger sister, was completely devastated by what had happened instead.

Despite the closed case Lisbon was feeling completely drained. She knew her team felt the same way. Rigsby hadn't even suggested some sort of closed case snack.

The four of them wandered towards the exits where their SUVs would be waiting, when suddenly Lisbon noticed her three subordinates had abruptly stopped walking and were all staring in the same direction. Lisbon glanced that way in confusion, only to stop walking abruptly herself.

Because there he was.

Patrick Jane was casually leaning up against a pillar in the arrivals bay of the Sacramento airport like he hadn't up and left the city three months earlier.

"What are you doing here?" Lisbon asked, not caring if her tone was accusatory.

"I can't visit my favourite crime-fighting team?" Jane asked cheerfully.

Lisbon blinked. "And you couldn't stop by the office like a normal person?" she asked. Then she realized what she'd just said. "Of course you can't," she half-muttered to herself.

Jane just grinned and started walking towards her.

"How did you even know we'd be here?" Lisbon asked, deciding that for her own sanity it was probably best to focus on the practicalities of the situation. Especially given how exhausted she'd been even before Jane's random reappearance.

"Hightower told me," Jane admitted. "And I did stop by the office earlier in the week. You can't imagine my surprise when I actually found it empty. For a minute I thought the truly unthinkable had happened and you'd actually decided to take a vacation," he added.

Lisbon scowled.

"Though that didn't explain where the rest of the team had got too obviously," Jane added. "Hey guys," he said with a wave. "Like the new haircut by the way Van Pelt."

The team chorused back quick greetings of their own. Lisbon heard Van Pelt add a "Thanks," to the end of hers.

But by that point Jane had already turned his focus back to Lisbon. "You solved the case?" he asked.

"Yeah," Lisbon said.

"But it was a bad one," Jane said softly. It wasn't a question so Lisbon didn't see any point in trying to tell him otherwise.

Instead she sighed. "Why are you really here Jane?" she asked again. "I thought you needed some time off after, well, after..."

"After Red John," Jane finished for her.

"Yeah," she agreed.

"I did," Jane admitted. "But it turns out time off gets really boring."

Lisbon smirked without realizing it. "Does it?" she asked.

"Yup," Jane agreed. "And it also turns out that you four are basically the only people I've spent any time with in the last six years or so."

"So you've come back because you literally don't know anyone else?" Lisbon double-checked.

Jane's eyes twinkled. "Well, that and because I missed you," he admitted with far more candour than usual.

"We missed you too," Lisbon told him.

"No," Jane correctly softly. "Not the team, though come to think of it I did miss them. Sorry guys. No offense," he called behind her back.

"None taken," Cho replied quickly, obviously more interested in whatever Jane was planning on saying to his boss than anything else.

"But I meant you, Lisbon," Jane clarified. "Though I could see how you could get confused, what with the multiple uses of certain pronouns in the English language."

"Jane," she said, before trailing off, unsure of what to say exactly.

Jane looked at her sympathetically. "You're exhausted dear. Come on, let's get you home," he said as he took her bag from her. "You guys don't mind taking both cars back to the CBI while I drive the boss back to her place do you?" he called to Lisbon's grinning teammates. Well, Cho wasn't exactly grinning, but he still looked quite amused.

Lisbon heard a series of immediate affirmatives from her traitorous team behind her.

"Oh no!" Rigsby said cheerfully. "Not a problem at all."

"I've got the spare key to her SUV already," Cho agreed.

"And Lisbon's practically been up for twenty-four hours straight anyway," Van Pelt added. "She shouldn't be driving." Then she clapped her hands. "Well, it's great to see you Jane," she told him. "But we should all get going. We'll have to catch up later."

"Yeah," Cho agreed. "We'll actually be in the office tomorrow afternoon. Got the morning off luckily."

"Have fun Boss," Rigsby called over his shoulder.

Lisbon watched completely flabbergasted as her entire team practically ran from the airport. She turned back to Jane. "Did my team really just abandon me here with you?" she asked.

"Of course not," Jane told her as he watched them go. "They left you in my capable hands."

"You say potato," Lisbon muttered.

Jane turned towards her, his expression puzzled. "Are you angry with me dear?"

Lisbon paused. "I don't know," she admitted finally. She'd been tired before Jane had showed up. Now she was tired and confused.

"I thought Van Pelt was exaggerating about the whole 'being awake for twenty-four hours' thing, but now I'm not so sure," Jane muttered to himself.

Lisbon heard it anyway. "Busy case," she explained.

"And you probably haven't eaten on top of it all," Jane added with a sigh. "At least not recently. Come on, I think there's a coffee shop around the corner. We'll get you a bagel or something."

He turned to go, but Lisbon reached out and grabbed his arm.

"Something wrong?" Jane asked in concern.

"Are you really back?" she whispered hopefully.

Jane grinned slowly. He deliberately took a step back towards her, put down her bag beside them, wrapped one hand around her waist and brushed her bangs out of her eyes with the other. Then he kissed her.

Lisbon tensed for a moment as she felt his lips touch hers before shutting her eyes and letting herself relax for the first time in three days. For some reason the strangest thing about having Jane back was how not-strange it really was.

"Of course I'm back dear," Jane promised her after several seconds. "Like I said, time off from you is boring."

"That's not quite what you said," Lisbon couldn't help pointing out with a hint of a grin.

Jane shrugged. "It's what I meant," he told her before tightening his hold on her waist and kissing her a second time.

After another few seconds he pulled away. "Now come on," he told her. "Let's get you something to eat while you tell me about this horrible case of yours. You'll feel better afterwards. Then you really need to get some sleep."

Lisbon grinned and took his hand.

Maybe airports weren't always quite so hateful after all.


The End


A/N2: I would say let's hold a poll of which one's everybody's favourite, but I think I can predict the winner already.

Oh, and it's occurred to me that technically vi. could be considered a sequel to v. I wasn't thinking of them that way, but you totally could if you wanted to.