Firstly, I should be studying

Obviously, I'm not.

Secondly, if I'm posting anything, it should be the second chapter of my current work in progress.

It's not.

Apparently, my mind has decided it doens't want to think about it anymore and produced this, which took me all of a procrastinated afternoon to write.

I'm quite happy with it, and it is complete.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Jane lay on the grass, watching the clouds scud by overhead. He'd found a park a few blocks from their latest crime scene, and he'd been struck with the sudden urge to lie down and watch the sky. So he had.

It wasn't a picture perfect day.

It was a little too windy, a little too cloudy.

And Red John was gone.

Not just gone, dead and gone.

And he felt nothing.

No, not nothing, an absence of nothing.

The call out had been to a suspected Red John case, and the dispatcher said the caller claimed to have killed a man in his house, standing over the body of his dead wife, smearing a smiley face on the wall in his wife's blood.

The husband hadn't expected to be home for another six hours, but he had decided to catch the early flight home and surprise his wife with a bunch of daffodils.

Jane had expected it to be another copycat, or another ploy by Red John to confound the police.

But the moment Jane stepped over the wilting bunch of daffodils in the doorway of the bedroom, he knew.

In the end, it didn't matter who Red John was, it only mattered that he was gone.

And with it went Jane's purpose for living.

A particularly large, grey cloud passed in front of the sun, blotting it out. And he shivered in the sudden chill.

What would happen now?

He had never thought past Red John, his mind had recoiled from it in every imagining.

And now here he was, alive, and Red John was gone.

There had been no final showdown, no reckoning.

A complete stranger had stolen his revenge in an act of pure self defence.

He probably hadn't even known who he was killing.

He should be angry.

He wasn't

He should be relieved.

He wasn't.

He should feel…something.

But he didn't.

In fact, he felt he could lie here, on the grass, for the rest of the day. And tomorrow. For the next week. Month…year.

He could go back to the CBI, or go out to lunch.

He could leave the state, or even the country.

He could go back to his hotel room.

Or to the house in Malibu.

But what was the point now?

He could do anything he wanted. Every option was suddenly open to him.

He could feel the paths stretch before him, the whole world suddenly expand from a single defining purpose and stretch until his mind could no longer grasp the edges.

He was left reeling, spinning in a world of possibilities, and he felt that he might very well float from the ground and fall into the sky.

The unbearable lightness of being.

He heard the scuff of footsteps moving slowly across the grass towards him, and knew it was Lisbon. With her, came the solid presence of command and calm that she carried so lightly everywhere she went, and he felt the world slowly settle back into place.

Not unchanged, but not spiralling out of control either.

He released his breath in a long, slow sigh. He could breathe again.

He should have expected her. He had left suddenly. After declaring the body was that of Red John, he had simply walked away. Considering the number of possible directions he could have headed in from the crime scene, it was surprising she'd found him so quickly.

She stood over him, jacket tucked back and hands stuffed in her pockets. The wind toyed with the loose strands of her hair, drawing them across her face, but she ignored them. Her gaze intent on him.

There was fear in her eyes, beside the ever present maternal concern. She was afraid, of his reaction? That he was about to violently explode, or collapse in on himself like a house of cards?

He was waiting for the same thing.

Agent Lisbon appeared for a moment, looking up to quickly scan the surroundings for possible threats, and then Lisbon was back. Watching him worriedly.

She could have sent one of the others to find him. The death of Red John was a major coup for the CBI, and a long time coming. Everything had to be dealt with perfectly, brass would be on their back and there would be hours of work yet dealing with the crime scene.

Yet, here she was. With him.

"He's gone" he said suddenly, his voice not his own, and the words sounded surreal even to his ears. She frowned, but spoke softly.

"We don't know that it's him yet. It could be another trick to throw us off our game"

Ah, typical Lisbon. Always the devil's advocate. She could so often vacillate between pessimism and optimism. Whenever he was excited about a new lead, she was there, telling him not get his hopes up, that Red John was playing him. And when she was proved right, she was there with a 'next time, Jane, we'll get him next time'.

There would be no 'next time'.

Because Red John was dead.

He had to keep reminding himself, or he was likely to forget.

"It's him" he told her. The words resounded with every ounce of confident he felt.

There was a look of indecision on her face, she wanted to believe him, but she couldn't. She wouldn't be happy until she had solid, undeniable, physical evidence. They would find it, he was sure. But he had all the evidence he needed.

She flopped onto the grass beside him, realising he had no inclination to leave. It was impressive, the pressure to return to work from her own sense of duty had to be almost overwhelming. Despite it all, she would rather recline on the grass with him and watch the cumulonimbus frolic above.

A decidedly lackadaisical choice for the ordinarily strait-laced Lisbon.

If she was determined to stay, then he wasn't compelled to drive her away.

"That one looks like a duck riding a horse" she said after a moment of quiet contemplation.

Jane's lips quirked as he spotted the cloud in question.

"I think it looks more like Hightower"

At her silence, he turned his head to face her, and found he was the recipient of a bewildered look. He ignored the concern haunting the corners of her eyes and focussed on relieving her confusion.

"A fire-breathing dragon" he clarified, smiling as her expression morphed from puzzlement, to surprise, and then to playful indignation. She swatted him gently on the arm.

"Play nice" she scolded, though her tone had no bite. He could see the relief in her eyes. He wasn't about to shatter like fine crystal dashed against a stone fireplace. It didn't completely supersede her worry, but then he hadn't expected it to.

They spent an hour transforming condensed water vapour a thousand miles above them into fantastical creatures, and even once, a dog peeing on a tree.

She didn't once ask him if he was alright. He wasn't. She didn't once ask him how he felt. He didn't. She didn't once ask him what he was going to do now. He didn't know.

She didn't ask, because she understood. Had always understood. Sometimes you didn't need to talk, sometimes you just needed to open your mind and let it go.

Take the mask off and breathe.

They were there for each other, no pressure, no questions, no judgement. Just someone you could be yourself with for a while.

He had never realised how much he appreciated it, until now.

Eventually, he stood. The sun had shifted lower in the sky, and the warm, gilding light had begun to fade.

Wordlessly, he began to walk, and she kept pace with him silently. Apprehensive, but accepting.

He led her back to the crime scene, the population of law enforcement vehicles and personnel had increased, but thankfully the vultures had yet to arrive. This would be a feeding frenzy again, and he would be cast, unwilling, back into the spotlight, the heartbreaking story of his life broadcast, inked out and dispersed to the masses, to be digested over orange juice and cornflakes tomorrow morning.

At the moment, it was the quiet before the storm, and he had no reticence stepping back under the yellow police tape that had circumscribed every earth-shattering event in his life.

Lisbon was quickly subsumed in her work, issuing commands, overseeing procedures and communicating with various departments. He made certain to stay close, without interfering, so that when she looked up, as she inevitably would, eyes searching, her gaze would find him easily. With a shared look of understanding, and the smallest hint of relief, she would turn back to whom or what next required her attention.

Even the arrival of the twitchy little ghoul whom often appeared at Red John scenes couldn't distract him.

The malodorous buffoon declared that this was the work of a copycat, and not the real killer. Jane had laughed at that, eliciting surprise from those within earshot. To see such a sudden reverse of their usual positions was humorous. Certainly, the cretin was only saying it because Red John was a personal hero to him, and the revelation that he was nothing more than a fallible, flesh-and-blood man would seriously shake the foundation of his beliefs.

Jane expected he would probably go home and cry.

But then, Jane expected he himself would probably do that too. Only for different reasons.

Jane ignored the hushed whispers that stopped suddenly whenever he entered a room, and simply smiled as they stared at him, wide-eyed and embarrassed. His team were among those giving him worried looks, even the taciturn Cho was keeping him under close observation, surreptitiously, or so he thought. The others were less discreet.

He knew that Van Pelt wanted to hug him. She would do so at the first opportunity, just not in public, rather later when they were alone, away from prying eyes. Rigsby would then pat him on the back, as he struggled to show affection without compromising his masculinity. Cho would simply meet his eyes in an unfaltering gaze of mutual understanding, and nod in acknowledgement. Cho's reactions were always more powerful, as they were so understated. Lisbon might even be persuaded to hug him, in light of the circumstances, foregoing her usual avoidance of physical intimacy.

They were worried though, for all that they had good reason to be.

Even Lisbon's concern was increasing, rather than dissipating, as he continued to remain upright and unemotional. He had avoided speaking to anyone, and had no desire to wander. Which marked his behaviour as quite unusual.

He had even seen the distraught husband of the victim, being led away for questioning, an angry, sobbing wreck of a human being if Jane had ever seen one. He thought maybe he should speak with him, but at another time. He certainly didn't look like someone who had just avenged his wife's murder. But then, he'd only had minutes between the discovery of his wife's body and the death of her killer.

Jane had had years.

Lisbon gathered him up and drove him to the CBI, citing 'the media had been alerted' as the cause, and were about to descend upon them like a pack of hungry wolves.

He went without argument.

He sat on his couch in the bullpen, but didn't feel as drawn to it as he normally was, its solitude was normally comforting, but currently undesired.

Instead, he shifted to the red couch in Lisbon's office. She watched him enter without comment, eyeing him anxiously as he moved the cushions into a more comfortable configuration, and settled in to think.

Lisbon let him be.

When the reality of today sank in, he knew, his currently calm demeanour would dissolve, his mind would become a black squall of pain and emotion, and there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

He wasn't sure if he'd make it out the other side, or what he would be if he got there.

For the moment, he was calm, almost peaceful, the rage that drove him unanchored, and it was all the more precious because it was short-lived.

It would be a few days yet before the paperwork and dreaded 'evidence' was compiled, and the case could be formally closed. He didn't know if he had that long, and he wanted to celebrate this achievement with the team.

He had considered the usual closed case donuts, pizza, and even Chinese. But Red John had left no-one untouched, had made them question good and evil, and the nature of humanity. He had taunted them, killed friends, family and colleagues. It had been a harrowing torment that had seemed unending, especially to him.

No, they would do something else, something to finalise this as a chapter of their lives firmly closed. He would take them all out to the most expensive restaurant he could find, Cho and Rigsby would be ecstatic, though only Rigsby would show it, Van Pelt would be flattered, Lisbon would object, but he was paying and she wasn't beyond convincing.

No, they would celebrate this milestone together, and regardless of what might happen in the days and weeks to come, he would make sure they knew he appreciated them.

Because he would be dead without them.