Make Your Heart
Disclaimer: Don't own anything. Lyrics by Citizen Cope. Title from Azure Ray.
A/N: This is my entry into the Jello Forever September challenge, and another fic gift for Chiisana Minako because she's just that awesome! A huge thanks to forthecoast for being patient with me, editing as diligently as always, and coming up with a title for this thing. As always, I hope you guys enjoy.
"If there's love,
I just want to feel yours..."
It's only when she steps into the restaurant that she realizes, with some level of chagrin and self-deprecation, just how crazy she is for doing this. As soon as the hostess approaches her, immaculately dressed and smiling far too cheerfully, Lisbon feels the first traces of trepidation grip her.
She curses not only the sneaky and apparently murderous reporter, but also the needling voice inside her head that gnaws at her constantly, reminding her that she hasn't had a decent date in several months and must really have a problem if she can't think of an answer when asked what she does on her weekends.
At first, the question simply caught her off guard. It came out of nowhere; no one has asked her that in a long time. But given the chance to fester, her subconscious thoughts grew louder, telling her to stop being so stubborn and admit that she has no social life whatsoever.
She tried to reason with her psyche for a while. Between the piles of paperwork on her desk and the unruly consultant who could never just go through a case without wreaking havoc at every turn, she couldn't be blamed for having no life outside the office.
Still, the nagging voice wouldn't abate and as soon as she realized that just a week prior, Liz from the DA's office suggested a date with an old friend of hers, who had just moved to Sacramento, Lisbon could no longer justify not accepting the offer.
And now as she stands in this busy, loud, and (possibly) pretentious restaurant, the urge to flee is almost too consuming to override. She nearly sprints to the exit before she hears her name being called from inside the dining room.
She's so struck by his handsome features that she doesn't even bother to ask how he knows her name (Liz showed him a photograph apparently) until they're seated at the table and he's pouring her a generous amount of wine.
(In retrospect, it should have tipped her off that it would be a complete disaster of a date when he didn't bother asking her if she even drank).
Still, it isn't until he orders for her and blatantly checks out the waitress as she walks away, that Lisbon realizes she needs an exit strategy…immediately.
Being a trained cop has instilled in her an interesting habit of mapping out all the exits everywhere she is…just in case. The instinct didn't fail her when she first entered, so she knows that if she can slip past the waitresses, past the aquarium, she can reach the back exit through the kitchen.
Yet, she decides to give him a chance at first; overlooking certain details that would have otherwise been deal breakers, mostly because she is incredibly stubborn and doesn't want to admit that this date may turn out to be a complete waste of time.
However, when he decides that she hasn't had enough to drink and refills her glass without her having taken more than a few sips, Lisbon finally excuses herself to the restroom, grabbing her clutch off the table at the last minute…just in case.
The desire to escape out the back exit is indeed enticing, but one glance at the mirror and she feels guilty. The man did go to all that trouble of getting reservations at a nice restaurant and he was trying to impress her with one story after another, so perhaps he's not all bad…
Upon exiting the bathroom, she decides that she'll draw the line at any unwanted touches, which is quite the ironic thought as only a few seconds later she feels herself being pulled into a tiny hallway, right by the restroom.
"I'm glad you had the common sense to grab your purse, otherwise it would have been tricky maneuvering it out of there."
She hadn't been as frightened as she was shocked by her sudden abduction, and now she realizes why, irritation heavily noted in her voice, "Jane? What the hell-…"
It's only when he turns to look at her, blue eyes alighted with an excitement she hasn't seen in the last few days that she realizes how close they are, that he's holding her by her elbow, trapping her between himself and the wall.
Her first instinct is to push him away, and she does, but not before a sudden spark of electricity courses through her. Jane seems completely unperturbed by their proximity. He smiles at her instead; the crooked amused grin that Lisbon has seen far too often, that she knows usually precedes some terrible plan.
"I've placed your date into a relaxing trance, which will wear off just as soon as someone taps him on the shoulder. Since this is likely to happen in a few minutes when the waitress brings your entrées, I suggest you save your reprimands until we're safely out of here."
He looks so calm and so extremely serious that it's almost comical. But Lisbon is not amused, her annoyance with him rising by the minute. It doesn't matter that the date was bad; he had no right…
"You did what?" She snaps, a loud, angry whisper that makes Jane's eyebrows rise for a second before he shakes his head.
"Oh would you just listen to me for once, woman? I told you, yelling later. C'mon."
And she doesn't even have a chance to tell him off before he grabs her hand and pulls her into the kitchen, nearly colliding with a waiter on his way out. The sous-chefs all freeze with pots and pans sizzling before them as Jane guides her swiftly through the kitchen and out the backdoor.
It only dawns on her when they're out in the cold evening air, breathing heavily and trying to stifle their laughter that she's had more fun in the last five minutes than she had in the entire hour she had been with her date.
Maybe it's the fact that she and her subconscious are suddenly in agreement, or perhaps it's the way Jane looks all disheveled and triumphant, but instead of reprimanding him, she surprises them both by asking him if he'd like to get some food.
"You know I could always eat, Lisbon." He smiles, already walking towards his car.
"Especially with such lovely company," he adds a bit later when she's already seated in the passenger side of his Citroën, heart beating a little more rapidly at the sudden turn her night has taken.
They end up going to the In-N-Out drive through and eating on the hood of his car while Jane tries to impress her with his wide knowledge of astronomy. She lets him believe that she's fascinated, keeping a look of feigned interest on her face, while surreptitiously stealing his fries as he tries (in vain) to locate the Big Dipper.
For a while, they just sit in silence, watching the cars rush by on the busy highway and the stars twinkling in the dark canopy of the sky, and Lisbon realizes then that she actually wouldn't mind doing this again.
They've rarely spent time together outside of work, and seeing this side of Jane, him so relaxed and unguarded, is actually rather attractive. She knows there are great demons lurking beneath his jovial façade, but something about this moment feels genuine. Perhaps it's the spontaneity of it all, but she actually feels butterflies rising low in her stomach…
And Teresa Lisbon doesn't feel butterflies…not since the tenth grade anyway.
It's all so ridiculous and unexpected that she can't help grinning at the possibility that she might actually like Jane. He seems to catch her train of thought because his smile falters just a little, gravity seeping into his gaze as he runs his thumb discreetly over her knuckles.
It's a feather-like touch, but her breath catches imperceptibly in her throat and the entire ride home, she can't help thinking that she doesn't really want this night to end.
Predictably, he walks her to her door, even though her porch is just steps away from the curb, and as she takes out her keys, feeling his eyes on her, Lisbon presses her forehead against the door for just a moment before turning around and biting the inside of her cheek.
"I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I had a surprisingly good time with you and wouldn't mind doing it again."
She says it all in one breath, nerves on edge. It's not that she isn't confident, or that she hasn't asked a man out before, but this is Jane and everything with him can be a farce. As much as she might not like her lack of a social life, being vulnerable is a far greater risk.
As usual though, Jane surprises her with his answer, taking her hand gently and stepping into the light, breath just skirting her cheek.
"Oh, trust me. We will do this again sometime, very soon I imagine."
Uncertainty is quickly replaced with annoyance as she fixes him with an arched stare. "You know arrogance isn't exactly an admirable trait in a man, Jane."
"It's nothing arrogant, I can assure you I'm doing this as much for my own benefit as yours. I get the pleasure of your company, and you can avoid future disastrous blind dates." He flashes a grin that's equal parts mischief and innocence, but Lisbon can't find it in herself to chide him for his supercilious remarks.
Instead, a thought occurs to her and she eyes him warily again. "How did you know I was on a blind date? And for that matter, why were you in that restaurant at all?"
A flash of guilt crosses his face before a cherubic smile spreads on his lips.
"Oh I was just in the neighborhood and got hungry, why must you be so suspicious of me?"
It's such a blatant use of reverse psychology that she's surprised Jane doesn't put more effort into the lie. Still, she doesn't have time to think on it as he leans in and kisses her hastily on the cheek before making a quick exit.
Two days later, when she's going through a stack of paperwork and Liz stops by to ask if Lisbon knows why Jane sent the DA's office a fruit basket and flowers, Lisbon feigns innocence, attempting to keep a straight face.
"I have absolutely no idea." She shakes her head and tries to stifle her grin as she thinks about the date she has with Jane later that week.
He'll be the first to admit that he doesn't sympathize with victims' families. If anything, he's more likely to aggravate or provoke the next of kin than to feel sorry for them. Unless it's a Red John case or one involving children (especially little girls), he doesn't take any of them personally, preferring to focus on the actual investigation rather than anything else.
But this case is different, and he knows why.
His first instinct upon meeting the fiancé of the deceased was how deep the man's guilt ran. Despite Jane's initial appraisal of the banker, he wondered if perhaps he had been the one to strangle his lovely wife to be.
It was only through the course of the interview that Jane began to realize more and more that the aura of remorse around the grief-stricken man had nothing to do with murder and everything to do with the argument the couple had before the woman went missing.
Jane will be the first to tell a next of kin to stop drowning in self-pity, but the genuine remorse coloring the man's words and his entire demeanor struck a chord with the consultant, catapulted him back into the past. Recollections of moments when he should have been as repentant for his actions as this man before him was, when he should have been more patient, less arrogant, more understanding, swirled through his mind.
Moments when he should have been a better husband.
Still, it isn't something unusual for him to remember his past from time to time, the person he was before, and he seeks comfort in the faded memories occasionally. So he had expected the unease to fade after they left the victim's residence.
It didn't, and only now as he lies completely awake on top of the covers does he realizes why the man's words won't leave his mind. The past is simple to deal with; he's spent so much time living with it that he can manipulate it to his will, shelving away memories that are simply too painful and resurrecting thoughts that conjure up warmth and happiness.
The present, however, is far more complicated than that.
It doesn't bend to his will and he can't easily put away his regrets; he has to face them. This time when he closes his eyes, instead of seeing a familiar faded image of his late wife, a different face flashes through his mind, and suddenly, he knows what he has to do.
In the time it takes him to slip out of his hotel room and knock on the door across the hall, he realizes that he doesn't want to live with regrets. He doesn't want to be a coward, and he doesn't want to ever feel like he missed out on something important because he was afraid to take a chance.
It's rash and perhaps a little dangerous, considering that he still hasn't accomplished what he set out to do, but it's also exhilarating and thrilling and he finally feels alive, adrenaline guiding him.
"Jane, what's wrong?"
There's only a brief inkling of hesitation as Lisbon opens the door, but the sight of her rosy cheeks, sleepy eyes, and disheveled hair only makes him smile wider as he pushes past her into the room, bearing no invitation.
Yawning as she surmises that there isn't some sort of emergency but rather Jane's usual, crazy behavior, Lisbon folds her arms over her torso, and stares at him pointedly, silently communicating her impatience.
She expects him to give her some ridiculous, off the wall excuse for his sudden interruption of her sleep, but he surprises her by walking up and gently placing his hands on her shoulders. The excitement in his expression is difficult to ignore, and for some reason she feels a flutter of nerves deep in the pit of her stomach.
Her voice is soft, uncertain, and her saucer-like green eyes stare at him with faint confusion. He wants nothing more than to lean in and kiss her, to show her how he feels instead of telling her, but he figures it would be beneficial for his physical health if he didn't try to surprise Lisbon in that particular way so late at night.
Instead, he squeezes her shoulders slightly, smile fading as he clears his throat. "Before you threaten to dismember me for waking you up, just hear me out okay?"
Her confusion is more apparent now, but she nods anyway, sensing that whatever he has to say is important. As the words spill from his mouth, the twinge of anxiety Lisbon feels starts to grow into full blown panic. Her heartbeat begins to escalate as she tries to make sense of what Jane is saying, and through all the haziness in her mind, there's a tiny flutter of something other than unease that begins to manifest inside her, something she hasn't felt in a very long time.
She's so completely taken aback that she can't even indulge in the rarity of seeing Jane so disoriented and nervous himself. However as he reaches up and tentatively runs his finger across her cheek, she doesn't shy away from his touch, realizes she doesn't want to, and a little bit of the uncertainty chips away, clarity seeping in as she looks up at him.
She sees no pretense in his eyes, only vulnerability. Although it leaves her even more shaken, Lisbon doesn't pull away. She doesn't even consider that he'd gone on a date with another woman just months prior and that Red John is still out there somewhere because nothing seems to matter in this moment.
It's as if by coming forward with his feelings, Jane has broken the dam for both of them, bringing everything to the forefront, and Lisbon finds that she's more relieved than anything.
"I know this is kind of abrupt-…"
She can't help teasing him because really, the man has horrible timing. Jane seems to agree, eliciting a self-deprecating chuckle before turning serious again.
"I don't want to live with regrets, Teresa. I don't want to think back on this time years later and wish that I told you how I felt."
She senses the gravity beneath his words and can't help reaching for the hand on her cheek. "I know."
His gaze intensifies as he draws her closer, relief flowing through him when Lisbon puts up no resistance. It's only now that he's holding her that he realizes how differently this could have turned out, and he knows that he's doing the right thing by not pulling away from her because in his arms is a rare, striking woman who knows him (at his worst) and still apparently wants him.
And there's nothing more that he wants to do now than show her how much he wants her back.
But he never has the chance, because Lisbon catches him off guard, turning the tables in the sweetest way possible. It's just a brush of lips, but when Lisbon pulls away and Jane sees the twinkle in her eye, he immediately draws her in again, not a hint of regret on his mind.
As soon as the verdict is read, she slips out of the courtroom, shutting the heavy oak door carefully behind her before catching a much needed breath. The sound seems to echo in the vast, empty hallway, but she takes comfort in this, in the rhythm of her own heart beating as she leans against the window.
The trial itself was closed to the media, but she knows what's outside these doors. She knows that on the steps of the courthouse, the hordes of reporters and journalists are ready and waiting, like a swarm of killer bees. There's no way she or anyone else from the courtroom will leave without being bombarded by a million questions, so she shuts her eyes for just a second, taking comfort in this momentary reprieve, gathering her strength for the inevitable maelstrom about to take place.
She braces herself as the creak of the heavy door once again disturbs the quietude around her, but the flurry of activity doesn't follow. Instead, as Jane steps into the hallway, Lisbon feels a hint of apprehension settling low in her abdomen, now confronted with an entirely different kind of anxiety as she studies his face for the first time today.
They sat together through the entirety of the trial, on the side of the prosecution. Sitting diagonally across from the defense table, she would notice the man who had been known to her only as Red John for the better part of a decade glancing in her direction periodically. Jane acted like he didn't see and kept his gaze focused ahead, but she could feel the tension in his body every single time the pair of haunting black eyes fixated on them.
She had purposefully situated herself on Jane's left, a physical barrier between him and the man on the other side of the aisle. It seems utterly ridiculous that she would execute such a preventive measure, but in retrospect, remembering how Jane was in the weeks preceding the trial, her actions seem justified somehow.
He shoves his hands into his pockets and purses his lips together as though he's deep in thought. The customary expression is reassuring and Lisbon leans against the window sill, relaxing slightly as she watches him.
"You alright?" She finally breaks the silence. He glances at her, expression unreadable, but somewhere in the depths of his gaze, she discerns relief. It calms her a bit more.
"Yeah," he nods, feigning a smile, and she's suddenly apprehensive again. A man steps out of the courtroom, shooting them both a curt nod before continuing towards the front exit.
Lisbon recognizes him as the husband of one of Red John's earlier victims, a young woman who was stabbed to death in her living room in 1999. Jane inches closer to her as they both watch the man step through the large, glass doors of the courthouse, only to be met with flashing camera lights and commotion.
The vultures (as Minelli liked to call them back in the day) will take anything they can from such a high profile case, even a man who was forced to relive the murder of a wife he'd buried nearly fifteen years ago.
"It's about to be absolute chaos." She murmurs under her breath, not yet ready to look at him.
Jane smirks, a thin smile stretching his lips. "That's quite the understatement."
This time, Lisbon does look at him and notes the way his smile isn't quite at its usual vibrancy, but she doesn't show her concern. She knows she has to be strong for him and take this one last step, even if he isn't so deserving of it.
The twinge of regret in his expression alerts her to the fact that he knows this better than anyone, but it only imbues her with more courage. "You ready?"
Jane stands ambivalent for a moment, eyes darting in both directions as though he's contemplating whether he should just stay indoors until the horde outside dissipates or flee in the opposite direction. Then the courtroom opens, and the decision is made for him. A crowd of people rushes past them, hurried steps and excited chatter.
The District Attorney sends a congratulatory smile their way and they're both immediately reminded that something monumental has just happened. They finally caught him.
Lisbon just hopes the way it happened is enough for Jane to move on - if only for the sake of his peace of mind.
"Well?" she goes as far as to nudge him playfully with her elbow, attempting to infuse the moment with some levity. The concentration on his face dissolves, the creases around his eyes becoming more pronounced.
"After you," He says, the customary teasing inflection in his voice. She nods in response, walking ahead.
It's only when she pushes the front door open, squinting against the flash from multiple cameras in her face that she feels the warmth of his hand engulfing hers, securing her with just one touch.
Her breath catches in her throat, but she does her best to retain a neutral expression, even though it feels like she can suddenly breathe again.
There's still so much to talk about and so many more roadblocks to overcome, but the worst is most certainly behind them. As Jane squeezes her hand, Lisbon exhales, knowing that whatever they have to face will never be as daunting or insurmountable as before.
Because they'll be facing it together.
Hearing the inevitable knock on the door only exacerbates her frustration. Fleetingly, she contemplates not letting him in, but in the end, she decides she would rather have him inside the house than have her neighbors call the cops because some crazy man in a suit was chanting her name on her front porch.
Sure enough, between the time it takes her to push herself off the couch and walk to the door, he's already called out her name twice, a familiar playful inflection in his voice.
It's just her luck that she was talking to him on the phone when she walked into the house to discover the power was out. She plans to show him just how annoyed she is by this intrusion, but when she flings open the door, the sight of Jane tilting a flashlight upwards to illuminate his face makes her chuckle in spite of herself.
"So you were really that bored? Enough to come here?" Lisbon smirks, leaning against the opened door as Jane carefully crosses her threshold, peering into the very dimly lit living room.
"Well of course I did. I couldn't very well leave you all alone in the dark." He steps further into the room, dropping a bag onto the coffee table like he's been here countless times before, when really he's only been to her house once…and she's not going to think about that now.
"And look, just as I figured. You aren't even prepared for a blackout. No candles or anything, just one lonely flashlight. You definitely needed my help."
He smiles and reaches into his bag, pulling out a few large candles and a box of matches. Lisbon rolls her eyes, infinitely amused by the notion that she needs him, when it's usually the other way around.
"Candles are a fire hazard; that's why I don't keep them in the house. And I definitely don't need you here to protect me from the dark. You're probably run to me at the first signs of danger anyway."
She doesn't wait for his reaction and instead returns to the kitchen, pulling out two glasses from the rack by the sink. "Hope you're okay with wine, since tea's not an option," she calls a bit loudly, mistakenly assuming that he's still in the living room.
"Wine would be great, thank you."
A line of goose bumps breaks out on her skin as she realizes he's closer than she anticipated. She frowns when she turns around to find a self-assured smirk on Jane's face as he leans against her kitchen table. He walks deliberately towards her, taking the glasses from her hands.
"And by the way, Lisbon. How many times have I told you that it's no use lying to me?"
Her eyebrow arches of its own accord. "And what am I lying to you about exactly?"
If it weren't so dark, she'd probably catch the predatory glint in his eye, but the shroud of night gives him opportunity and Jane leans forward, just close enough for it to still be considered appropriate.
"We both know you keep candles in the house. Your baths just wouldn't be the same without them."
He walks away smiling, and Lisbon is suddenly glad for the black out. At least it keeps her terrible penchant for blushing concealed.
Sometime later, as they lounge on her couch, the empty bottle of wine by their feet, Lisbon wonders what time it is, although she feels too warm and comfortable to move.
Her eyes only momentarily flicker to her cell phone, sitting just out of reach on the edge of the coffee table, but Jane notices and clears his throat, "It's about a quarter to-…"
"Don't tell me." Lisbon cuts him off unexpectedly, not even the least bit surprised that he knew her train of thought. Stealing a glance at Jane, she smiles indulgently at his confusion, taking the time to drain her glass before answering.
"Sometimes, I'd rather not know what time it is."
The admission is simple but wrought with so many underlining meanings that Jane just nods, lips curving into a wan smile. Lisbon functions so well in a time-limited, high-pressured work environment that even he sometimes forgets that she has more of a carefree spirit than she'd ever let anyone know about.
The fact that she's letting it slip out now warms him in a novel way, testing his limits, pushing past the barriers he's so vigilantly built around his heart.
"Even when it's your first instinct to?"
He probes gently, not wanting to scare her off, but when she looks at him, he sees that she's neither afraid nor shy.
"Sometimes I forget it's just a job, you know?" She looks away as she speaks, her hands twisting on top the blanket pooled in her lap. He's not sure whether it's the candle light illuminating the room or the way she has her feet tucked underneath her, but this vulnerable and extremely feminine image of Lisbon doesn't reconcile with what he sees everyday. Before he knows what he's doing, his hand covers hers, thumb brushing over her knuckles, then her wrist bone.
"For what it's worth, I'm glad you're fighting against it. I'd hate for the job to become your entire life."
Lisbon smiles faintly at his words, trying to focus on anything other than his soothing touch, "I think it's a little too late for that."
"It's not; it's not too late." The quite desperation in his tone resonates with her; the concern in his expression seems to amplify in the dimness of her living room. She's not sure if it's the moment or the glow from the candles scattered around them, but she wants to believe him, wants to have assurance that the concept of normalcy, of happiness is still within reach.
"Okay," she nods, gaze lingering on their now entwined hands. She's not sure how they got so close, but knows she doesn't want to pull away, regardless of what line they're about to cross.
She looks at Jane again, searching for any sense of trepidation or anxiety in his eye, but when all she sees is the unadulterated affection lingering there, she swallows hard. Suddenly, she is very aware that they aren't about to cross the line; they already have.
That's why Jane's next words don't surprise her as much as they should. If she's honest with herself, she had always known it was going to happen, and she merely smiles before answering, a certain weight rolling off her shoulders as she nods her consent.
"And I'd like to be the one to remind you of that every once in a while. If that's alright with you."
He knows that in another lifetime, she would have been the one for him.
He doesn't regret meeting his late wife; she gave happiness and stability as well as a beautiful daughter. He misses them both terribly and still feels guilt for causing their deaths, even though the man truly responsible is long gone.
Granted, it didn't play out exactly like he would have preferred, but a year after the fact he realizes that having Lisbon pull the trigger on the once elusive serial killer was the best possible outcome - for him, for her, for everyone.
He knew instantly that if it were anyone else, he'd have hated them, but not Lisbon. He couldn't hate her, which causes him to reflect from time to time on what could have been.
He loved his wife, and to an extent he always will, but he wonders if Lisbon, with all her rough edges and no-nonsense attitude, would have been the one to finally persuade him to quit the psychic trade. Exchange his flashy suits and slew of appreciative fans for well-worn jeans and quiet nights at home, supplemented by occasionally helping the police catch the bad guys.
He would have loved it. But he never let himself indulge in the what ifs for too long; his wife didn't deserve it. She loved him wholeheartedly, unconditionally, and married him against her family's wishes, while he loved her the best way he knew how.
And it wasn't even close to what she or their daughter deserved. That's why even after fulfilling his promise to them, he wouldn't let his mind stray into forbidden territory, where he could let himself indulge in the smell of cinnamon and a pair of skeptical green eyes.
But that was before.
Before a week ago, before the unsettling reminders of Teresa Lisbon's mortality. Before he had to watch in horror as she nearly lost her life wrestling a suspect, while he could do nothing but stand on the sidelines and wait for back up to arrive.
It wasn't the first time he'd seen Lisbon get injured on the job, and in the end, she'd come away with a sprained wrist and a few cuts and bruises (which he found astonishing given the altercation) while the 300 pound biker spent the night in the hospital with a concussion and a busted jaw. Still, the incident triggered something in him, sparked an urgency that, even seven days later, he still can't wrestle down.
He realizes now though that his reaction shouldn't have been all that surprising. After all, there were only two reasons he'd fought his feelings for Lisbon all this time. Red John and guilt.
The former is now irrelevant and the latter, well, he's working on it. For the first time tonight, he runs his thumb over his wedding band and doesn't feel the same apprehension and regret as he pushes the metal upward.
It gives no resistance as it slides from his finger, and he slips it in his jacket pocket. His eyes instinctively land on her office, catching just a glimpse of her behind her desk, working by the light of a solitary lamp. The enclosure of the bullpen obstructs his sight, but he can almost visualize the determined expression on her face as she stares at the triplicate forms on her desk.
He smiles as he thinks about the way her lip curls in concentration and she loses focus of everything around her except the documents in front of her, pen at the ready. The only anomaly to the scene, as he imagines, is her left wrist, immobilized and concealed in a brace.
A bit of concern sprouts in him as he once again considers how tough this must be for her. She hates to show weaknesses, and has probably considered a million things she could have done differently to avoid being in this situation. At the thought, Jane pushes off the couch, the bare skin of his ring finger not feeling quite as foreign as it has on those rare prior occasions where he'd briefly slipped the ring off.
He knows instinctively that this time, it's staying where it is.
As if she senses him approaching, Lisbon looks up when he enters the room, tired but expectant eyes meet his as she reclines in her chair, waiting for him to speak. He's never once contemplated whether she returned his feelings or not; he just always somehow knew.
It's not really arrogance on his part or transparency on hers. Remarkably, Lisbon isn't always so easy to read, having learned to keep anything personal extremely well guarded. He's never been able to figure out quite how he knows she feels the same way, but it feels right. It's felt like this for as long as he can remember and now that his reasons for holding back are no longer strong enough, he finds himself growing impatient.
There's only an inkling of apprehension as he steps into the room, making his way toward her desk and leaning against it. He reaches for her injured wrist, preferring to let actions speak for him. He can almost pinpoint the exact moment she detects the absence of his wedding band.
Her eyes flicker towards his, marred both by confusion and a restrained excitement, which is all the confirmation he needs. He pulls her hand towards him and presses a light kiss to her knuckles, just on the edge of the brace.
"I want to tell you something," He says quietly, not wanting to disturb the tranquility around them. Lisbon doesn't say anything, merely nods as she curls her fingers around his.
For a moment, fear seems to paralyze him. He's not good with words when he's trying to be genuine, and he isn't sure he can articulate exactly what he needs to say. He looks away for a moment, only to be reeled back in by her gaze. It's no longer confused, more encouraging despite the unease he knows she must feel.
When Lisbon squeezes his hand, wincing slightly against the pain in her injured wrist, any indecision or anxiety Jane may feel melts away, because he knows now.
In another life, she would have been the one who looked after him.
In this life, he wants to be the one who takes care of her.
The house is shrouded in complete darkness as she closes the door behind her. There is a slight chill in the air, but that doesn't detract from the comfort of knowing that she's finally home. Slipping off her jacket and her shoes, she doesn't bother with the thermostat, and instead ascends the stairs as quickly and as quietly as possible, anticipation blooming at the thought of the man upstairs.
She's only been gone for a week, a completely useless but mandatory annual conference for lead bureau operatives in San Diego, but it feels like much longer than just seven days. She never thought she'd be one of those people, the kind who spend their entire business trips just waiting to get on a plane back home, but what surprises her most is that she doesn't mind it at all. She doesn't care that she took the red eye home instead of getting a normal night's rest.
Besides, she has good reason for it.
The bedroom door is thankfully left ajar, affording her a chance to slip in without additional noise, less likely to disturb the man sprawled across the bed. This is not an easy feat, given how light of a sleeper he is. He doesn't stir, however, and she pauses by the foot of the bed, only then realizing just how much she actually missed him while she was away.
Thinking back on it, she doesn't even remember the last time they spent more than two days apart, let alone a week. It might be an unhealthy attachment, but she can't bring herself to care. Instead, she quickly sheds the remainder of her clothing and slides onto her side of the bed, on top of the sheets, just for fun.
Propping herself on her elbow, she can't wipe the grin from her face as the man besides her begins to stir, the last vestiges of sleep falling away. His eyes are still closed when he turns to her, but when he reaches out and grazes her naked hip, she knows he's awake.
"Even my dreams aren't this vivid." He murmurs teasingly, voice still thick with sleep as he opens his eyes, a flicker of lust visible even in the dark as he takes in her state of undress.
"You know," she replies amusedly, hands itching to run themselves through his disheveled curls, "I half expected you to be sitting on the couch awaiting my arrival. You disappointed me."
At this, he shrugs and pulls her closer, warm hands leaving a tingling path across her skin as he somehow maneuvers her underneath the blanket. She hears his sharp intake of breath as their limbs tangle together.
"What can I say in my defense?" He pretends to think of a moment, for her amusement obviously. "I suppose being married to me has given you a certain advantage."
"Or maybe you're just losing your touch." She teases right back.
His eyes darken slightly in response as he deliberately runs his fingers over her ribs, smirking when he feels her heartbeat accelerate.
"Oh, somehow I highly doubt that," he adds, only half joking. She recovers quickly, smiling as she presses a palm against his chest, the heat from his body seeping through the threadbare white cotton.
"Speaking of marriage, did you know that the first wedding anniversary is leather?" Her hand reaches down, toying with the hem of his t-shirt as he furrows his eyebrows at her.
"I did indeed, but why do you bring it up now?"
She laughs easily, aware of her husband's penchant for feigning innocence whenever possible,
"C'mon, as if you'd ever forget our anniversary."
"I wouldn't," he confirms, drawing her in until she's pressed firmly against him. For a moment, she forgets their verbal sparring and indulges in the feel of being nestled in her husband's arms, forehead resting on his shoulder, as he speaks.
"Oh, so is that why you came tonight rather than tomorrow? Or is it just because you couldn't bear to be away from me for any longer?"
"Hardly," she scoffs playfully before leaning back to look at him. "Don't think so highly of yourself. I just missed my bed."
He pretends to be offended before smiling again, a softened expression on his face as he runs his thumb across her bottom lip. "Well I missed you."
He leans over and brushes his mouth against hers. It's just a touch but it melts her completely, and she smiles back, "I missed you too."
"Even work was dull without you."
She chuckles then, "I'm sure you found a way to entertain yourself. In fact, if I don't have a stack of complaints on my desk come Monday I will be pleasantly surprised."
"You just might be," He whispers huskily, before leaning forward and kissing her once more, hand tangling in her curls as he settles her on top of him.
She pulls back eventually, remembering her original intention, and smiles wickedly at him as he affectionately whispers, "Happy anniversary, dear."
She returns his sentiment before leaning over and retrieving the object she'd pulled out of her bag before heading upstairs. It's a rare sight to see her husband so surprised, and she revels in his slightly bewildered expression, unable to curb her amusement.
"Why, Agent Lisbon, I do hope that's an off duty pair of handcuffs you got there," he adds teasingly after a while.
Lisbon fingers the soft leather thoughtfully, green eyes twinkling as she bites back her laughter at the remnants of shock on his face. "You know this is just the custom pair reserved for my misbehaving consultants."
"Are there many of them?" He asks, fingers gliding up and down her spine.
Not to be outdone, Lisbon fixes her eyes on her husband with a look of feigned sympathy and concern.
"Are you sure you're alright? You seem really off your game, you know. First, I somehow manage to surprise you by coming home early, and now you're asking me questions about myself?"
Not a moment sooner than she finishes goading him, Jane flips them over, half of his body covering hers as he peers down at his wife. Like Lisbon just minutes before, only then does he realize the extent to which he missed her, missed the way she curls around him when she sleeps, the way she smiles when she teases him, the way she arches into his kiss.
"Watch what you say, woman, or I'll be forced to use those handcuffs on you." Jane warns playfully. Lisbon just laughs, sliding one hand beneath his t-shirt as she twirls the handcuffs in the other.
"I'd like to see you try," she challenges a moment later, but as always, her husband doesn't need anymore encouragement and easily distracts her with his mouth. She sighs into his kiss, wrapping her arms around him, handcuffs sliding forgotten to the floor.
It's good to be home, she thinks, before pulling the blanket over both of them.