Okay, here's the thing. I wrote the first chapter on a whim, just so you know, I'm not a very 'whimsical' person normally. So, trying to get this chapter out was like banging my head against a brick wall. Eventually I had to stop. Partially because of the brain damage and partially because I was getting tired.
Also, I didn't want to make you guys wait anymore. It is surprising how bad it makes me feel, because I know what it's like waiting weeks and months for stories to update, slowly losing hope…..
Anyway, from now on, *raises write hand and continues in complete solemnity* I, canisedocanis, do hereby swear not to load a single chapter unless the entire story has already been completely written and edited.
A quick thanks to everyone who reviewed, Mabeline36, Thranduil's Daughter (Thanks for being so observant, I have no idea why I thought her eyes were brown!), FiveRoses, Chiisana Minako (Thanks for all the help! I spent ages thinking of the summary for this!), lysjelonken, Anna, MentalistLover (Thank you!), JisbonRock (he is, isn't he?), mwalter1 (never underestimate the power of a good thump), In The Name, Xanderseye (Glad to hear it, I was aiming for vivid!), fenix, DiamondLily425 (hope no longer!), LittleMender (laughing out loud is good, as long as you don't spray coffee on your computer screen, keyboard etc!), Jisbon4ever (Another observant person, you were right about the eyes!), Jbon (sharing is caring), Mrs. Peeta (I know, shirtless!Jane would be awesome, but poor Lisbon's brain would melt and she wouldn't be able to function if she were faced with it for too long!), famous4it (As you demand, so it shall be), DrEvilSketch (You were right, Lisbon's eyes are not brown, I spent a few episodes with my nose pressed to the screen and realised it was true. I just don't know how I missed it!), xphile715 (continued, for your reading pleasure) and CharmedNightSkye (Y'know, that line is my favourite too, it was a sudden inspiration I just had to put in).
For a quick thanks, it wasn't very quick.
Until next time, I hope you enjoy this second and final instalment of my debut fic!
EDIT: Apparently, ffnet eats line breaks. Today, I have learned something.
[Disclaimer goes here]
Chapter 2: Everybody loves the Morning After
She floated in the warm place between awake and asleep. The pillow beneath her head smelled familiar, warm and masculine. It was safe, comforting. She remembered the night before, and was aware of the presence in the other side of the bed. Deciding that she was still too tired, and far too comfortable to wake up and deal with her current situation, she nuzzled back into the pillow, her nose filling with the smell of Jane and laundry detergent, and promptly went back to sleep.
Something pulled at her blankets, exposing her shoulder to the cool morning air. She clutched at the retreating edge, grabbing it tightly, she rolled, securely wrapping them around her. She sighed contentedly as the delicious warmth surrounded her once more.
She felt the mattress shift as someone moved toward her. Then nimble fingers tugged at her hands, trying to pull the blankets from her deathlike grip.
She growled a warning.
The fingers continued.
So she bit one.
The fingers quickly withdrew with a surprised yelp of pain.
She cracked open an eye to see the reaction.
Jane was kneeling next to her, looking even more dishevelled than he had in the middle of the night, his stubble fully grown in. He was glaring at her petulantly as he sucked on the injured digit. He removed it briefly to make his displeasure known.
"That was unnecessary" he whined, his voice rough from sleep.
Her face threatened to crack into a smile.
"Serves you right for trying to steal my blankets." She grumbled moodily.
"If you'll remember, dear Lisbon, these are, in fact, my blankets. And if I'd known you were a blanket hog I would have made you sleep on the floor."
She snorted in response.
"At least I'm not the one who has to hypnotise women to get them into bed" she remarked sarcastically. She blinked in surprise as she realised the room had lightened considerably.
"What time is it?" she asked worriedly.
"Still early, don't panic"
"I wasn't panicking" she muttered mutinously.
"There's still plenty of time for us to go get your car, and for you to go home and get ready" he reassured her. "First, I have to shower and get dressed"
"You go do that, then" she ordered, and nuzzled back into the pillow.
"You're not going to get up?" he asked, genuinely surprised.
"Nope" the word was muffled by the pillow.
"Why not?" he queried.
She lifted her head out of the pillow with a disgruntled sigh and ticked off each of her fingers.
"Because I'm tired, because I still have to wait for you, because this is a really, really, comfortable mattress and-" she paused, and raised a finger for emphasis, "-I'm not wearing pants. So go shower, and hurry up about it. I don't want to be late for work"
She dropped her head back into the pillow with a contented sigh.
She felt the mattress shift as he climbed off, and heard the soft padding of feet as he left the room. She grinned into the pillow, she couldn't resist a parting shot. Jerking her head up out of the pillow, she shouted after him.
"Don't forget to shave either! Your face looks like a porcupine's rear end!"
"My face did not look like a porcupine's rear end"
She opened one eye and blinked at him blearily. He was back, and staring down at her grouchily. He was showered, shaved and neatly dressed, holding her freshly laundered pants in one hand, and a steaming cup of coffee in the other.
"Yes it did" she responded with force, and smirked when he practically pouted. The man was as vain as they come. She reached out to take the cup of coffee. But he pulled it out of her reach in retaliation. A pointed glare got the message across, and he surrendered the cup to her grudgingly.
She curled her fingers around the warm ceramic mug. Her eyelids slid shut as she inhaled the delicious aroma.
Oh, Coffee. Where would I be without you?
She took a preliminary sip and smiled. She should have guessed that Jane would know exactly how she liked her coffee. It was the perfect temperature too, just below scalding, so she took another, larger sip, and sighed contentedly.
Opening her eyes, she realised Jane was watching her with a self-satisfied smirk. Frowning, she reached up and snatched her pants from his outstretched hands. Suddenly acutely aware of her own lack of dress.
"Out" she ordered him with a wave.
"It's nothing I haven't seen already" he reminded her, his tone betraying his amusement. She glared up at him through a curtain of hair. He shrugged, unperturbed.
"As you wish, my lady" he replied, and then with an exaggerated flourish, he left the room, closing the door behind him.
Lisbon rolled her eyes at the display, typical Jane. She waited a few seconds to make sure he was truly gone, before climbing out of the bed and getting dressed. She searched the room for her shoes and other belongings, not that it involved much searching. As she had noticed last night, the only furniture in the room was the bed, side table and lamp. Given that the room was quite large, it only made the emptiness seem more pronounced. Her stuff must have been somewhere else.
Sunlight slanted in the window, and she walked towards it, her feet scuffing on the cream Berber carpet. Looking out, she realised Jane's apartment was quite high up the building. Tenth floor, at least. She sipped her coffee as she watched toy-sized cars navigate the streets below. The warm sunlight tickled her feet, and she wriggled her toes into the carpet in response.
She drained the last dregs of coffee from her cup with a sense of disappointment. Now, she'd have to leave the bedroom.
She looked over her shoulder at the closed door, knowing Jane was out there, and that she had to face him sometime. She suddenly felt irrationally nervous, which was stupid, because she hadn't been nervous before, and they'd done nothing more than share a bed. But whether she liked it or not, their relationship had changed the moment she called him last night. What had always been friendly professionals was now leaning way more to the friend than the professional. The moment she stepped out of this room, and back into the real world, she'd have to deal with that, and how it affected her job.
Also, she'd seen him naked.
Mostly naked, anyway.
There was just no going back after that.
And he'd seen her half naked too, possibly even helped her out of her pants. She cringed at the thought. How was she going to be able to look him in the eye ever again?
She was being ridiculous, she knew, Jane was a just a friend and colleague who had helped her in a time of need. Nothing more. Besides, he loved his wife, there was no possible way there was any sort of subtext to his actions.
They were two mature adults, who had platonically shared a bed.
There was nothing awkward about that. Nothing at all.
So why was she so apprehensive about leaving the room?
She rolled her shoulders and straightened her spine. She had to go out there and act normal, like she was entirely unaffected by the whole situation. She could do that, easy. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
Here goes nothing.
The bedroom door opened onto the open plan living/kitchen area. She had remembered the absence of furniture, but in the light of day she could now also see that the room was huge, with an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that gave a picturesque view of the river and landscape beyond.
It was beautiful.
Her eyes scanned across the space, her police trained mind taking in as much detail as possible in a single glance. She catalogued the faded areas of the wall where pictures had once hung, and the indentations in the carpet that indicated there had once been furniture. Probably before his family had been….
She snapped her eyes across to look at Jane, who was watching her carefully from his position leaning against the kitchen peninsula, tea in hand, unsmiling. The look on his face was indecipherable. She forced a wry smile.
"I like what you've done with the place, very Zen" she remarked. He gave a small laugh, more because it was expected than because he felt it.
Still, the tension was broken, and she saw some of the tightness around his eyes loosen as he let out a breath. Had he been… nervous? Of what exactly? Her reaction to last night, or her assessment of how he lived?
She glanced around his apartment again, it's not like she was one to judge, she had a wall of boxes she had never unpacked, and never expected to. It just seemed pointless because her apartment had never really been 'home'. It was a place to eat, sleep and shower. And it didn't take her entire paycheque in rent. To be honest, this place had more furniture than her first apartment ever had. Admittedly, her first apartment didn't have hardwood flooring and marble countertops either.
She could understand though, that he might not want people to see it. He made a concerted effort to convince people he was fine, normal even. If anyone saw this place it would strip away any illusions as to the state of his mental health. She's caught a glimpse behind the mask once or twice, and she knows how important shields are.
And yet, he had chosen to ignore his own desires in favour of helping her.
An awkward silence grew to fill the room. She looked down at the dirty mug in her hand, and decided that the least she could do was rinse it out for him. She walked towards the kitchen, which was quite some distance in the massive apartment. The vaulted ceilings made her think they might be in the penthouse. Such an obvious display of his wealth made her feel out of place, inadequate. Jane straightened as she approached, gently resting his bone white china cup on the saucer in his other hand.
Honestly, he didn't have a table and chairs, but he had a saucer.
No, his priorities weren't skewed. Not at all.
He stepped forward and held out his hand for her cup, sensing her intentions, and she reluctantly let him take it. He turned to the sink, his back facing her, and started washing their cups. The noise echoed horribly in the emptiness, and she felt her nervousness creep higher. She rarely saw Jane this…subdued, he seemed just as uncomfortable as she did. She wished she could think of something to say that would fix it. But what could she say?
'Funny weather we've been having lately' just wouldn't cut the mustard.
She knew how to talk to criminals, victim's families, that was business. This was personal, and she was never very good at personal. She felt bad for putting him in this situation, if it hadn't been for her own stupidity then they wouldn't be here right now.
Unsure of what to do with her now empty hands, she stuffed them in her pockets and stared at her bare feet.
She really needed to use the bathroom, but she didn't want to invade his privacy anymore than she already had. She could hold on until she got home.
"Bathroom's on the left, if you need it" Jane spoke suddenly. Lisbon glanced up to see him half-turned away from the sink, watching her, his hands covered in bubbles. She had the sudden terrible thought that she had spoken aloud, before she remembered.
It was Jane, he was good at guessing.
He was still looking at her expectantly, one eyebrow raised in question. She glanced to her left, down a short hallway that culminated in what she assumed was the front door, peephole and all. She walked to the closest door, turned back to look at him, and pointed at it. He nodded in response. She ducked inside as he turned his attention back to the sink.
With the door safely closed behind her, she suddenly relaxed, and took in the room. It was slightly steamy from Jane's shower, and the bottom edge of the mirror was still fogged. The bathroom smelled like his pillow, only much stronger. The bright white tiles were cool on her bare feet.
As she washed her hands, she chastised herself for her behaviour. It was ridiculous.
She glared at herself in the mirror, noting her bed head and the bags under her eyes. Get a grip.
She was Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon, a formidable law enforcement officer and a force to be reckoned with. Just because her relationship with her consultant had taken an uncomfortable step into the personal, didn't mean she could turn into a nervous wreck.
It was then that the border of tiles that ran across the top of the sink caught her eye. They were beautiful, but understated. Elegant. They were clear glass, with shards of gold and blue and green embedded in them. It reminded her of an ocean on a sparkling summer's day. She ran her finger across the rippled surface, and couldn't help but wonder.
Had his wife picked out these tiles? Or was it simply something left over from the previous owners? She didn't know if he'd owned this place before his family had died, they had been killed in the family home in Malibu. Of course, if they had lived here once, as a family, then he and his wife would have slept in the bed she and Jane had just shared. She felt inordinately guilty about that. Impinging on the memory of his dead wife, simply because she had felt the urge to go out and drink alone. She'd have to make amends, somehow.
Knowing she was avoiding leaving the bathroom, she sighed and summoned her courage. Hopefully, this awkwardness would dissipate. It had to.
Jane was waiting by the front door when she came out, his car keys in hand. She walked towards him.
"Shoes?" she asked. He pointed to the floor beside him. Sure enough, her loafers were lined up neatly next to a coat rack that had on it…of all things….her jacket.
She quickly slipped into her shoes and put on her jacket as he handed it to her. She swiftly checked her pockets. Wallet, watch, keys and phone. All were accounted for. And…she pulled out a wadded up napkin, on it was the name 'Darryl' and what she assumed was his phone number. She shook her head in annoyance, last night was probably better left forgotten. Not that she liked the idea that someone had targeted her, and by association, all women.
"Ready to go?" Jane asked cheerfully as he opened the door. She nodded, stuffing the napkin back into her pocket. Maybe 'Darryl' was the one who had drugged her, or had seen who else she had spoken to last night.
It was a thought to keep in mind.
Jane dropped her off in the abandoned car park next to Finnegan's, an Irish bar she liked because it was out of the way and no one she knew ever went there. It was a great place to relax and unwind, without worrying about running into people you worked with.
She spotted her car immediately, sitting alone on the asphalt. She climbed out and walked towards it, before pausing halfway, and turning back to look at Jane. He was watching her, sitting in the driver's seat of the blue death machine that was as much a part of him as his three-piece suits and his couch.
She had wanted to say something. I'm sorry. Thank you. Please don't tell the others. But she wasn't sure how. The words themselves weren't enough. Could never fully express the extent of her gratitude, and embarrassment, about this whole situation. But in the end, the words were all she had.
"Thank you" she said eventually, it sounded paltry even to her ears. A look of understanding passed over his face, and he smiled softly. He understood. Not just what she had said, but everything she hadn't been able to. Of course, she should have known he would, if anybody could, it was him.
She was 'translucent' after all.
"I'll see you at work" he said finally, his tone full of unspoken meaning, and she nodded gratefully in response.
He didn't drive away until she was safely in her car and it was moving.
Lisbon strode into the bullpen dead on time, as usual. Although she had to skip her morning coffee to make it.
She'd had five minutes to spare, and the choice had been between brushing her teeth, and coffee.
It had been a tough call.
In the end, spending a whole day with foul breath and furry teeth was a more unwelcome thought than a delayed caffeine boost. They had coffee at work. Of course, she really should be drinking water after her eventful night out, and she had a niggling feeling a headache was about to be born.
Van Pelt and Cho were already at their desks, Rigsby should be arriving from the gym anytime soon. The couch however, was empty.
Not unusual, but she had kind of expected him to be there. He was probably up to no good. Again.
Lisbon went to her office and booted up her computer, before sitting down at her desk to begin wading through the quagmire of information that had piled up overnight.
She emerged sometime later in search of coffee, to see that her entire team, consultant included, were enjoying fresh donuts from Marie's.
She strode into the bullpen in confusion.
"What's going on?" she demanded to know.
They all turned to look at her, with matching expressions of guilt on their faces, all except Jane, of course. She crossed her arms and stared them down, one eyebrow raised questioningly.
"'ane brought 'onuts" Rigsby explained around a mouthful of donut. Lisbon bit back the urge to tell him not to speak with his mouth full. Instead, her eyebrows raised in surprise, and she turned to the consultant in question. His face was pure innocence.
"Did he now" she said lowly. What sort of horrible scheme had he pulled? He hadn't come directly to work after dropping her off, and even stopping for donuts would leave plenty of time for unsavoury plans.
"So, I should be preparing my résumé ?" she asked acerbically. Jane's smile faltered slightly, and she registered genuine surprise on his face, before he recovered.
"What? I can't buy my favourite CBI agents a little something once in a while to say 'thank you' for all their hard work?"
"Riiight" Lisbon said, drawing the word out in disbelief. A glance at her colleagues showed that they too, were considering the possibility of an ulterior motive.
"You, Lisbon" Jane announced sternly, pointing at her in mock anger "Are far too suspicious" He grabbed the half empty box of donuts off the corner of his desk and held it out to her "Here, have a donut, that one's got strawberry icing."
Lisbon looked down at the proffered donuts suspiciously, and then glanced up to meet Jane's gaze. There was something different about his smile, and she realised that it was the first one in a while that had reached his eyes. Based on that alone, she decided the offer was genuine, and she wasn't about to get dragged before a livid Hightower just yet.
She pretended to consider her choice of donut a little while linger, before settling on the strawberry one.
He passed the box around to the others, Van Pelt declined, but the boys each took another.
Jane relaxed back into the couch with a grin, one foot propped on the other knee, and his arm stretched along the back of the couch. He was the image of relaxation.
Lisbon shared an amused glance with the others
"You're in a good mood this morning," Van Pelt grinned from her desk, caught up in his good mood. "Sleep well?"
"Yes. Actually, I had a wonderful dream last night" Jane dangled the bait in front of them, knowing the lure was irresistible. Van Pelt's eyebrows rose curiously, Jane rarely offered information so readily.
"Really, what about?" she ventured, hopeful.
"I dreamed a beautiful woman told me I had a nice chest" he said with a grin, making sure not to grin in any one particular direction.
Lisbon choked on her donut. But nobody noticed, all were too surprised at his admission. Honestly, for people who were meant to be observant, they sure did miss a lot.
"What'd she look like?" Rigsby interjected.
Jane glanced at them, they were all staring at him, surprised and intrigued, even Cho, who was leaning forward at his desk expectantly. Van Pelt had a slight blush on her cheeks, clearly a little embarrassed, but it did nothing to rival Lisbon's blush, which spread all the way down her neck. The strawberry icing on the donut paled in comparison. It was a delightful contradiction to the dark eyes glittering at him menacingly. They promised impending violence, which didn't entirely cover the slightest hint of fear. His lip twitched in amusement, last night had brought unexpected surprises, and he now had an angle on their illustrious leader. He knew exactly how to make her squirm.
He turned his attention back to Rigsby, and answered his question, in detail.
"She was gorgeous" Jane said with wistful smile. "Long, dark hair. Slender, with the loveliest legs I have ever seen." Jane smirked mischievously. "And she was wearing a pair of tiny, black-"
"No one wants to hear about your lurid fantasies, Jane" Lisbon cut in suddenly, her voice strangled and hoping her face wasn't as red as it felt. Though judging by how hot her cheeks were, she doubted she was that lucky.
"Why Lisbon, I'm shocked at your dirty mind" Jane returned in amusement, a knowing glint in his eye. Oh, yes. He knew exactly what he was doing.
"I'm sure you are, Jane. But may I remind you we have a case to solve?" She steered the conversation away from disturbing personal situations.
"Eh, the best friend did it. Jealousy" he waved it off in disinterest.
Lisbon scoffed, "And you have evidence of this, I'm sure"
"She was wearing a turtleneck sweater" he stated obviously.
"Oh, I see" Lisbon remarked snidely, in her element "People who wear turtleneck sweaters are psychopaths. Of course, why didn't I see that earlier" She then became more serious and was glad to find she could meet his gaze with confidence. Regardless of recent events, she would still be able to do her job. "We can't arrest people based on their sweaters Jane, there is nothing wrong with wearing a turtleneck in the state of California"
"In this weather?" he replied casually "It's been unseasonably warm, hasn't it…Rigsby?"
The agent looked up at his name, eyes wide as he realised he was being addressed. His gaze flicked between the two, both were watching him expectantly.
"Uh…I…" he stuttered, knowing better than to take sides, he opted for a non-answer "I don't know?"
"Sure you do," Jane interrupted "Didn't you take Tiffany out to the beach last weekend?"
Rigsby gulped. How'd he find out about that? He glanced at Van Pelt at the mention of his date, but she was talking quietly on the phone, absorbed in her work.
"Uh..Yeah, I suppose" he finished lamely. Hoping they'd leave him alone if they got an answer.
He breathed a sigh of relief as Jane turned back to Lisbon with a triumphant grin and Lisbon huffed in frustration.
"See?" Jane declared "Other than chilly weather, the only reason someone would wear a turtleneck is to hide something. Probably bruising or scratches around the neck"
"Right, I'm sure this woman's death has nothing to do with the violent argument she had with her boyfriend less than an hour before her death." She replied dryly
"No, that is a factor. But he isn't the murderer. Eleanor, the best friend, had ample opportunity to commit the crime and get back to the party without being missed. I'm telling you Lisbon, it was her."
Lisbon shook her head in annoyance. Bizarrely, he made sense, but the boyfriend was a much better suspect, and the evidence was mounting against him.
Van Pelt hung up the phone.
Lisbon gave the redhead her full attention.
"That was the victim's bank" Van Pelt said, then hesitated, biting her lip in apprehension, before continuing with an apologetic smile "Eleanor Jace just tried to empty the victim's accounts. Security's holding her until we get there."
An uneasy silence descended on the bullpen as the information registered. Lisbon slid her gaze across to Jane, whose smiled had grown three times wider, the air of smugness hung palpably around him.
Lisbon sighed quietly in irritation. Five minutes. If that call had come in five minutes earlier she could have avoided this moment of humiliation. Not that it changed anything, the boyfriend was still looking good as a suspect. Unfortunately, the best friend had just bumped her way to the head of the list.
Thankfully, she was used to this sort of thing.
"Okay." She said finally, "Rigsby, head over to forensics, see if you can get a rush on the murder weapon. Van Pelt, go back over her statement, see if there is anything there we can use as leverage. Cho, let's go"
She grabbed her jacket from her office and they headed out, Jane falling in step beside her even though she hadn't asked him to come. He didn't say a word, but she could feel the self satisfaction radiating off him in waves.
They stepped into the elevator, and Cho pushed the button for the ground level. They stood in silence for a few moments, but Lisbon knew it was too good to last.
"Told you it was the best friend" he murmured with unparalleled glee.
"There is no evidence that she is the killer" she muttered in retaliation.
She could feel him smirking.
He was probably right. He didn't have to be so damn smug about it though.
Still, she couldn't help a small smile.
Their relationship was back in familiar territory, and she was ridiculously grateful.