A/N: So, I wanted a bit of a change from what I've been writing lately. And I always love it when Jane tries to help Lisbon, because he's always trying so very hard. Plus I wanted to write something a bit fluffier. So here it is. I hope you enjoy.
Oh, these are chronological (and connected) this time. And I own nothing.
Five Times Lisbon asked Jane for help... And one time she didn't.
"Don't! Don't ever try to protect me. I can protect myself, from Hightower or anybody else."
-Teresa Lisbon, Aingavite Baa
"Patrick Jane, you were trying to help me."
-Teresa Lisbon, Blood Money
She didn't understand. She never had really.
She always seemed to think that when she asked him for help that he was triumphant. Triumphant about her own inadequacy and pleased at his apparent superiority and resourcefulness. He swore that she thought he would exploit any weakness she showed without pausing for breath.
It wasn't true. It never had been.
He may tease her a little, but that was different.
She didn't understand that the teasing and the blinding grins, while they were necessary, they certainly weren't real. And he couldn't quite bring himself to tell her that she was different. That he wanted to help her. That he'd do almost anything for her if she'd only ask. That she wasn't just another toy to be played with like almost everyone else. That when he could help her, she made him feel like a slightly better person. It hurt him that his attempts to help sometimes made her feel worse. Because she didn't trust him, and she was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Still, he always tried to help her, because he already owed her more than he could ever repay. Though he wasn't sure he could even articulate exactly why that was either.
He couldn't explain the truth. He didn't know if he'd ever be able to. It probably didn't matter. She wouldn't believe him anyway.
So instead he could only wait, and try and help her, whether she asked him to or not. All the while waiting for those times when she actually said the words, their rarity making them all the more precious.
And she did say them from time to time, despite her denials.
Jane was sulking on his couch.
Lisbon had basically ordered him away from anything to do with their case. She'd told him that he was causing too many problems and that the team could take it from here.
Intellectually Jane knew she'd mostly only done it because Hightower had given her a not so subtle hint that in this particular instance it might be best if things ran smoothly, especially since the case was basically solved and all that was left was really just a bunch of interviews for formality's sake.
Well, that and they needed to somehow get Sarah Armstrong to talk.
That was really what Jane had wanted to be a part of. Ms. Armstrong had a unique moral code. Not quite immoral, not quite criminal, but interesting. Her sense of justice, well, Jane was always interested in people with ideas about justice that weren't quite mainstream. He knew Lisbon and Cho were talking to her now in one of the interrogation rooms. It was also the one place Lisbon had specifically barred him from.
He'd have just disobeyed her, but he had a feeling this was one of those times that disobeying Lisbon might push her just a step too far. So now he was refusing to even enter the observation room to watch the proceedings. If she didn't want him to have any contact with their suspect, he'd stay damn far away. Let Lisbon and Cho get that confession themselves for all he cared.
Jane huffed. He just wanted to help anyway. And how was he to know that his plan to round up Ms. Armstrong and her compatriots would result in a few minor injuries? The most serious one was only a broken arm. That was nothing. Okay, one of the local cops had a small second degree burn. Jane felt a bit bad about that, but it'd be fine in a few days.
He really didn't think that was any reason to ban him from the interrogation rooms.
Frowning again, Jane burrowed deeper into his couch. He'd just take a nap.
A few minutes later he heard her. She was obviously walking over to his couch, and her gait was irritated. "Interrogation not going well?" he asked neutrally when she got close enough.
Lisbon paused then sighed. "No," she admitted a touch peevishly.
"Armstrong not cooperating as you'd hoped?" he surmised.
"Not exactly," Lisbon said.
"Jane," Lisbon said her voice steady; she was obviously trying to keep calm.
"Would you open your eyes?" she asked.
Jane opened his eyes obediently.
"Armstrong's not talking," Lisbon told him. "She's ignoring Cho, and she does nothing but sneer at me."
"Rigsby and Van Pelt?" Jane asked curiously.
"She mocks them," Lisbon admitted.
Jane smirked and sat up. "I can see how that would be problematic," he said in an attempt at sympathy.
Lisbon steeled herself up for the inevitable. "Will you talk to her?" she asked.
"Thought you didn't want me to," Jane reminded her, still feeling the sting of his banishment.
Lisbon took a deep breath, "I thought it would be easier," she admitted cautiously. "Pretty much everyone involved in this case already hates you."
"Well, that's a nice thing to say Lisbon," Jane told her. "Tell me, are you one of the exceptions or..."
Lisbon looked scandalized at the idea. "What?" she interrupted loudly and in obvious surprise. "Jane..."
"You are involved in the case," he pointed out.
"I meant the outsiders," Lisbon clarified. "Anyone who doesn't already work for the CBI. You know, witnesses, suspects, victim's family and friends..."
"That's not what you said," Jane told her.
"That's what I meant," she assured him. "I'm not angry with you Jane," she added. "I was irritated with you and what you did, but that's nothing new. I just thought it'd be easier to keep you..."
"From making things even more complicated," Jane supplied.
"Pretty much," Lisbon admitted.
"Hightower breathing down your neck again?" he asked.
"Yup," she confirmed.
Now it was Jane's turn to sigh in frustration. "You could have told me," he reminded her.
"Didn't think it'd matter," she replied. "After all, confession was supposed to be a formality anyway. We didn't even need it, but some well, unforeseen details have come out in some of the other witness's statements and now it'd be handy to have one," she admitted.
"I see," Jane told her.
"Besides," Lisbon continued. "Thought I was saving you from a boring confession so you could catch up on your sleep. You always say that you don't care about prosecuting the criminals once you've solved the case. I figured you wouldn't care one way or another what I asked you to do," she said with an attempt at a friendly smile.
To her surprise Jane flinched and looked away. Realization hit her like a lightning bolt. He had cared about it. She'd done more than just bruise his ego; she'd hurt him. "I'm sorry I snapped at you earlier," she said after a moment.
Jane turned then, bright smile firmly attached to his face. "S'okay Lisbon," he told her. "I took the opportunity to catch a power nap."
Lisbon sent him a slightly painful smile. "The thing is," Lisbon said, realizing she'd been distracted. "You and Armstrong bonded. Sort of. Well, you pissed her off and betrayed her in the end so that we could catch her, but you still understand each other."
"I'd like you to talk to her," Lisbon said calmly.
"Oh," Jane said in a monotone.
"I need your help," his boss added. "After all, you're the master manipulator aren't you?"
"You're asking for my help?" Jane clarified slowly.
Lisbon winced slightly, but kept her head held high and met his eyes. "Yes," she admitted.
"Well, alright then," Jane said as he brightened almost immediately and stood up with a grin. "Of course," he told her. "All you had to do was ask Lisbon. I'm always glad to help you out when you need it. Anything for the team and all."
"You're going to be insufferable now aren't you?" Lisbon asked dryly.
"Whatever would make you say that dear?" Jane asked playfully. "I just pointed out that all you needed to do was ask me for my help," he reminded her.
"It's slightly ridiculous that I have to ask you to do your job in the first place," Lisbon muttered.
Jane heard her of course. "You only had to ask because you told me specifically not to help you get a confession about half an hour ago," he reminded her.
Lisbon's jaw tightened and she began muttering that if consultants would just cooperate in the first place none of this would be necessary.
Jane ignored her as he breezed straight into the interrogation room.
Twenty minutes later he strolled out just as Lisbon was leaving the adjacent observation room. "Thank you," she said.
"It's my job," Jane said cheerfully, his earlier mood forgotten thanks in part to the chance to manipulate an interesting subject into confessing her crimes.
"Yeah," Lisbon agreed. "But still, thank you."
Jane looked at her more closely, watching as she glanced back and forth between his face and the post just off to his right. His grin softened. He was perceptive enough to recognize an apology when he saw one. And he knew better than to expect both a direct request for assistance and an apology from Lisbon all in one day. Besides, he probably didn't really deserve the second one anyway. "You're welcome Lisbon," Jane said instead. "And you'll notice that I didn't even cause a scene."
"No," Lisbon acknowledged. "You didn't. I'll go let Hightower know that we can close the case."
Jane nodded. "Hey Lisbon," he called softly.
She turned, her head cocked to the side, obviously surprised by the change in his tone.
Jane smiled. "All you ever have to do is ask," he repeated sincerely.
Lisbon started. An impulsive smile started to bloom on her face before she ducked her head slightly, waved a hand in his general direction, and turned towards Hightower's office.
Jane watched her go. It wasn't much, but it was a start.
Now he really wanted to take that nap.
Jane was dozing peacefully on his couch. Not very surprising at the best of times, not even a little surprising given that it was getting late and he was tired.
Suddenly, his nap was interrupted by a voice. Familiar, and succinct, but also oddly... embarrassed?
"Jane, I need your help," Lisbon said quickly.
Jane's eyes popped open in surprise. He observed the woman in front of him, the fact that she was shuffling slightly from side to side revealing just a hint of nervousness, "Really?" he drawled in obvious pleasure. "Of course Lisbon, how can I be of assistance?" the consultant asked, sending his boss a binding smile.
Unsurprisingly Lisbon scowled in response. "Someone put the pads of paper on the top shelf in the storage closet again and the only chair I can find is on wheels," she explained in obvious irritation. "You're taller than I am," she added as an afterthought. Bad enough that the stepladder that was always in the damn storage closet had gone missing and she had to ask for help, but to make things even worse the only person she could find at this time of night was Jane. Sure, she probably could have found a member of the custodial staff if she'd felt like searching for at least fifteen minutes, but she just needed a goddamn pad of paper.
The hope in Jane's eyes dimmed slightly upon hearing what his task was to be. He had been hoping for something a little more... personal. But he rallied quickly. After all, any request for help from this insanely independent woman was something. "You know, I find this request almost insulting Lisbon," he told her with a confident grin. "I was hoping for something a little more, challenging, or at least something geared to my unique skill set."
"Are you going to help me or not?" Lisbon snapped, irritation making her pricklier than usual. "Or am I going to have to risk my life climbing on an unsteady desk chair?"
Her annoyance only encouraged Jane. Whatever the reason, she was asking himfor help, and he was going to enjoy this, at least a little. "Well, when you put it like that it sounds much more chivalrous, rushing in to save you with my..."
"Extra six inches of height?" Lisbon suggested dryly.
Jane's ego visibly deflated. "Hush Lisbon," he said quickly. "And it's more than six inches. You're short, woman." He knew it wasn't a particularly nice response, but she needn't be like that. She was asking him for help after all. Theoretically he could say no.
Lisbon scowled again. "So?" she asked.
Jane swung his legs off the couch and set them on the ground. "You're not asking very nicely is all," he said with deceptive innocence.
He watched out of the corner of his eye as Lisbon froze. He knew what she was thinking, calculating really, whether or not this was even worth it. Whether it wouldn't just be easier to find one of the other few human beings that must still be lurking around the building at this time of night, maybe even wondering whether she even needed the pad of paper she'd mentioned earlier. Suddenly she sighed, her shoulders dropping ever so slightly. "Please Jane?" she asked in a more normal tone of voice.
Jane's smile was suddenly blinding again. There. That was really all he'd wanted. Okay, he'd also wanted to tease her a little, but mostly he'd really just wanted that. "Of course Lisbon," he told her pleasantly. "All you had to do is ask."
He ignored the annoyed muttering from the woman beside him. He gathered it wasn't particularly complimentary. Of course, it very rarely was.
"What do you normally do when you find yourself in this predicament, Lisbon?" Jane asked curiously as they made their way to the storage room. "This can't be the first time it's happened. After all, the pads of paper can't be the only things on that top shelf."
"There's usually a step ladder in the storage room," his boss said curtly. "It's gone missing."
"I'm sure maintenance just needed it for something or other," Jane said with a wave of his hand. "But it's not the first time it's gone missing is it?"
Lisbon blushed slightly. "I usually send Rigsby," she admitted.
Jane laughed. Lisbon started slightly, surprised at the sound. For all that Jane usually wore a (deceptively) pleasant expression he very rarely actually laughed.
"Of course," Jane agreed readily. "Rigsby would make the most sense. He is by far the tallest of our little motley crew. And I'm sure he'd be more than happy to help out the boss."
"I'm glad you're amused," Lisbon remarked. "Rigsby's always much nicer about the whole thing I might add."
"To be fair, I'm sure you also ask him more nicely," Jane couldn't help pointing out.
"Yeah, well, after a lifetime of hauling over chairs and stepladders, of asking taller people for a hand in the grocery store when you want something at the back of that top shelf, you see how you like all the amused looks you get," she muttered. At least Jane had the good sense not to call her 'little lady' or ask her about the quality of 'the air down there.'
Jane's features softened again. "Well, I'm sure that there are advantages to being short as well. The extra legroom in cars for one," he said as he nudged her subtly with his shoulder.
Lisbon's lip curled up in a half smile. Then she shrugged self-consciously. "Most of the time it's not a big deal. I'm used to it. But there are times it's annoying, y'know?"
Jane nodded, considering. Sometimes he forgot how short Lisbon really was. Her attitude usually more than made up for it. "Well, you can take comfort in the fact that you can always scare the crap out of any taller person if need be. Rigsby included," Jane assured her. "And I can always be your back-up white knight, with my six extra inches of height," he promised. "No questions asked." He scanned the top shelf, and grabbed a pad of paper. "I take it this is what you wanted m'lady?" he asked as he handed it to her.
"Thanks Jane," Lisbon said with the slightest of eye rolls as she took the pad.
"You need anything else while I'm in here?" Jane asked. "It seems the staplers are up here too. Yours still going strong? You do tend to throw it about fairly frequently."
"Only at you," Lisbon retorted.
"But no, I'm good," she assured him.
"Okay," Jane said with a shrug.
After a moment he added, "But the next time I need something out of the crawlspace in my basement I'm calling you. I'm getting sick of having to do everything in there hunched over."
The pad of paper hitting him in the arm was entirely expected.
Jane wandered down from the attic of the CBI building in search of a cup of tea. He'd been brooding over the Red John case all night. It was frustrating. Sometimes he felt like he was so close to making a connection, but then when he tried to reach for it, it'd be gone.
Stretching to work out the kinks in his neck Jane glanced around the empty bullpen. Maybe he should try and get a couple hours of sleep down here. His couch was still more comfortable than anything upstairs.
That was when Jane realized that he wasn't the only person still around. Lisbon was in her office. Most of the blinds were closed, but he could still see her hunched over her desk, her head in her hands.
He frowned. Well, that wasn't good. She certainly hadn't fallen asleep like that. Something was obviously wrong. Changing course Jane forgot about the tea and headed towards his boss' office. He knocked quietly on the door, pushing it open slightly as he did so. "Lisbon?" he called softly.
Lisbon looked up, her eyes slightly red but dry. "Jane?" she asked in surprise. "What are you still doing here?"
Jane huffed. "The usual," he admitted.
"You alright?" he asked tentatively.
Lisbon looked confused for a moment then realization began to creep in. She started, and then she tried to shut down. "I'm fine," she told him quickly. "Just a little tired, I should get going."
"You don't honestly expect me to believe that," Jane said, crossing his arms and leaning in her doorway.
"You can believe whatever you like," she retorted as she started shoving things haphazardly into her briefcase.
"Lisbon," Jane said softly.
"What?" she snapped.
"What's wrong?" he asked quietly.
"I told you, nothing's wrong," she insisted.
She faltered, but to his surprise she started explaining things to him in an overly casual voice that almost didn't sound like her own. "Nothing's wrong," she repeated. "Something being wrong implies that something out of the ordinary's happened and I can assure you that my life is just humming along like it always does. Everything's exactly what I expect. Just got a call from a friend of mine, a detective. Seems that my little brother's managed to get himself arrested. Again. Minor offence of course, they always are with Tom. Probably no more than six months in a minimum security prison, even with the prior convictions. So I guess it could be worse. But this time I'm not calling in a favour from one of the local officers. Done that too many times and I'm sick of it. He can just deal with it, like all the other criminals."
Jane winced at the bitterness in her voice, but didn't interrupt. It'd do her good to get it out.
"That's always a fun call to get," Lisbon continued. "A Detective telling you your brother's going to prison again. I mean, he's not even a competent criminal. Tommy always gets caught. No wonder Steve and Joey don't even speak to him anymore. You'd think he'd learn though. But no, and then I'm stuck here on the other side of the country having to deal with Detective Frasier's sympathy, and thank him for taking the time to give me a courtesy call. And we've both been through this dance so many times. We both know there's nothing he can say and there's nothing I can say. So I thank him and he apologizes and I hang up and try not to think about the irony of the model CBI agent having a petty criminal for a baby brother. And that's not even the worst part. The worst part will come with the call from Tom. With the apology, and the shame. And I'll try and tell him it's okay, and that he'll always be my baby brother, and that I'll always love him. That I'll even try and visit him in a little while. Then will come the excuses and the promise that this'll be the last time. Which I'll pretend to believe. Or maybe I'm not pretending. Maybe I'm trying to convince myself, because I have to. Because the alternative is giving up on him like everyone else has."
With that her little rant stopped suddenly and Lisbon dropped weakly onto her couch. Jane took a few steps into the room, but didn't approach her right away. He knew that if he pushed she'd retreat back into herself, and that was the last thing he wanted.
A second later Lisbon looked up and met his eyes and Jane's heart broke for her, just a little bit. "Well," she said after a moment. "Aren't you going to say something?"
"I'm so sorry Lisbon," Jane replied. It was trite, but it was all there was.
"Yeah," she said in defeat. "Me too."
"I had no idea," Jane said softly, realizing that he needed to say something else. "I knew that your brothers didn't all get along but..."
"But you never would have guessed this," Lisbon finished for him. "That's what everybody says when they find out. Hey, at least I finally stumped the great Patrick Jane," she said mirthlessly. "Don't feel bad though, it's not like I advertise it."
"No," Jane agreed, rolling her desk chair over to the couch and sitting down across from her. "Perfectly understandable."
"Bet this'd feed the gossip mill for months," Lisbon muttered. She glanced up sharply then in apprehension.
Jane's face hardened. "You've got to be kidding," he said firmly. "You can't honestly think that I'm going to tell anyone."
Lisbon dropped her head to her chest. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm just feeling a little..."
"Don't apologize," Jane said, taking her hand. "I just wanted to make a point. Your secrets are safe with me Lisbon."
Lisbon nodded. Jane wasn't sure if she believed him or not. Neither was she really. She wanted to. Just like she wanted to believe her brother each time he told her this would be the last time. The small remaining hopeful part of her pointed out that just because Tommy let her down didn't mean Jane would.
"No one who knows you would think any less of you Lisbon," Jane told her.
Lisbon looked at him warily.
Jane smiled softly. "Do you honestly think that Van Pelt or Rigsby's opinion of you would change over something like this? I think you'd have to go out on some sort of crazy murderous rampage in the streets of Sacramento for that to happen. And even if you did, Grace might give you the benefit of the doubt. Cho quite simply won't care. Far too rational to conflate your action's with your brothers and besides, he spent a few years in juvie himself. Hightower knows you now. She knows you're a good agent, and she'd defend you in the press if this ever got out. The rest of the building, well, most people respect you and probably wouldn't think twice about it, well, apart from feeling vaguely sympathetic. And as for the malicious one's who'd enjoy your pain, well, screw 'em. Or leave 'em to me to deal with," he told her with a wink. "And me, remember I come from a whole family of con men so..."
"Yeah," Lisbon agreed, trying for humour. "You probably identify more with Tommy than you do with me."
Jane shrugged. "In a way maybe," he admitted. "But Tommy's not the Lisbon sibling I'm planning on pestering until she feels better."
"How much time do you have?" Lisbon asked, almost managing a smile.
"How much do you need?" Jane replied easily.
"Heaven only knows what Detective Foster thinks at this point though," Lisbon said as an afterthought.
"I'm sure he thinks that you're a good person who has a relative who's not quite so socially acceptable, as almost all of us do. And I'm sure he thinks that you're a loyal big sister, and probably better than Tommy deserves. He definitely respects you if he's still calling you with the courtesy calls," Jane pointed out.
"That's true," she breathed out softly.
"You don't have to shut us out all the time, Lisbon," Jane told her. "After all, I seem to recall someone telling me that law enforcement was like a family."
Lisbon almost grinned again.
"I'm sure your friend the Detective thinks the same," Jane told her. "Which is why he calls you. You're a good cop, and you're part of the family. Same reason your team'll be there if you ever ask," Jane told her.
"Thought you didn't believe in the CBI family," Lisbon reminded him.
Jane shrugged. "You do," he told her. "And I certainly see the value," he added. "Who knows, in time I might even be convinced. You can be pretty persuasive when you want to. Well, that and you threaten me a lot."
Lisbon huffed in amusement. Then she sunk back into an unhappy silence.
"My baby brother's going back to jail Jane," she said sadly, her voice almost breaking on his name.
"I know," he said feeling helpless. "Is there anything I can do?" he asked seriously.
"What, to help?" Lisbon asked, her voice caustic, though this time the bitterness wasn't directed at him.
"Yes," Jane said in all sincerity.
That caught her attention. "You mean that?"
Lisbon took a breath, "You mind keeping me company for a while?" she asked. "That might help a little."
"Sure," he told her, letting out a breath he hadn't even realized he was holding.
"Okay," Lisbon said, dropping her eyes back to her knees with an almost inaudible sniffle.
"But we're getting out of here," Jane told her firmly.
"What?" Lisbon asked, looking up in surprise.
"And we're not sitting around in your apartment brooding either," Jane added, realizing that would be no better. "You need a distraction."
"Jane," Lisbon said in warning. "I'm not up for..."
"Lisbon I'm not suggesting we go to a club, or anything else that will require effort on your part," Jane said in mild irritation. "I meant something a little more mindless than that."
"Like what?" she asked sceptically.
Jane paused for a moment. Then inspiration struck. "The movies!" he said brightly.
"What?" Lisbon asked.
"We could go to the movies," Jane repeated. "It's perfect. A movie should be distracting enough to keep your mind occupied. You won't be brooding in your apartment but you also won't have to actually do anything."
"Do you even know what's playing?" Lisbon asked.
"No," Jane admitted. "But between the two of us and the eight computers capable of connecting to the internet in the SCU alone I'm pretty sure we can figure it out. There's got to be something that's at least tolerable. Especially since we're basically looking for a mindless distraction."
"It's not the worst idea in the world," Lisbon admitted. "If you're sure you're not busy."
"Busy doing what?" Jane asked. "I think that I can push 'brooding in the attic' back a day."
"And you're sure you don't mind?" Lisbon asked tentatively.
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," Jane said blithely. "Now, I'm going to go look up the show times while you make a phone call to that friend of yours, about that favour. Because even though you said you weren't going to, we both know that you're going to do it. And the earlier the better. So it's best to get it out of the way now."
Lisbon froze momentarily. "Yeah," she said finally. "Okay."
"Okay," Jane repeated. "See you in a few minutes.
Ten minutes later Lisbon met him at his couch. "Phone call all finished?" Jane asked.
"Yeah," she admitted.
"Then let's go," Jane told her, taking her bag from her despite her protests. "Would you let me do this for you?" he asked, in amused irritation. "You're having a bad day. It makes me feel useful."
"Fine," Lisbon said. "What are we seeing anyway?"
Jane grinned. "Oh, you'll love it Lisbon," he told her. "I thought we'd go to the latest movie featuring a tough, adrenaline-loving law enforcement professional. Lots of intrigue, fast cars, explosions. Nothing even a little realistic, and absolutely impossible to take seriously. Plus I'm told the leading man's quite attractive to the ladies, which you should appreciate. And you know you always love a good fight scene."
"Exactly what's in it for you?" Lisbon asked curiously. He was right, it did sound like something mindless that she'd enjoy.
Jane gestured her into the elevator. "I get to make fun of everyone for their on-screen idiocy of course," he told her happily.
"Of course," Lisbon said dryly.
"You've never been to a movie with me before Lisbon," Jane was explaining. "I'm told I can be quite entertaining."
"So maybe we should go to one of the theatres that's likely to be relatively empty so we don't get thrown out," Lisbon surmised.
"Way ahead of you my dear," Jane said, his enthusiasm undimmed. "This is going to be fun!"
"We'll see," Lisbon said. But she had a feeling that maybe he was right. "Jane?"
"Don't you dare thank me Lisbon," Jane told her, waving a hand in her general direction, before rapidly changing the subject.
Still, this was a shift, and he knew it.
Several hours later Jane was laying on the couch in her living room after dragging her out for Chinese food. He was sure she hadn't eaten anything in hours, other than the popcorn he'd insisted on buying for her. Then he'd sent her up to bed about an hour ago after a couple shots of whiskey to help her sleep and a promise that he wouldn't drive this late at night. So here he was, still in her apartment. And he wasn't sure what that meant. He cared about her. He wanted to be the person she confided in, who made her feel better. He desperately wanted to be her confidante; he hadn't even realized how much until she'd let him in.
It was a shift all right. A shift that would make it harder and harder for him to keep hiding all alone in the attic.
Lisbon was unbelievably frustrated.
She needed to get to a CBI fundraiser, dress code formal, which some idiot had decided to schedule almost immediately after working hours. That had forced her to change into her dress in her damn office. Which would have been fine; with all the blinds closed was still far preferable to an uncomfortable bathroom stall. But now her damn zipper was stuck.
She'd managed to get it halfway up before it suddenly decided it wouldn't budge an inch, neither up, nor down. Resisting the urge to growl in frustration Lisbon forced herself to calm down. It wasn't the end of the world. She could fix this, she'd just... she'd just call Van Pelt and ask her to come to her office for a minute. That was the perfect solution! Sure, it would be a little embarrassing, but it wasn't the end of the world.
Lisbon took a deep breath and picked up her cell phone to call her female colleague. Who wasn't answering her phone. Lisbon remembered that Van Pelt was heading to the reception early to help set up. So much for her perfect solution.
That was when she heard the knock on the door.
Lisbon froze. "Who is it?" she called tentatively, hoping to god that it wasn't Hightower with someone important to introduce her to. If it was anyone else she'd at least be able to send them for help.
"Lisbon?" Jane called, sounding a little puzzled. "It's me, Jane. Can I come in?"
Lisbon resisted the urge to bang her head against the wall. Of course it was Jane. She'd never hear the end of this now. She almost yelled at him to just go away when she thought the better of it. After all, it could be worse. Obviously Van Pelt would have been preferable, but Jane was infinitely better than say Rigsby, who would have blushed straight to his hairline. Cho would probably have been okay though. He would have simply gotten the job done without blinking an eye. At least it wasn't a stranger at the door. And when he wanted to, Jane could be quite sweet sometimes. She only hoped this would be one of the times he'd want to.
Lisbon hurried to the door and opened it a crack. "Jane," she hissed. "Keep your voice down."
Jane's expression changed from puzzled and amused to mildly concerned, "Is something wrong?" he asked.
Lisbon scowled. "The zipper on my dress is stuck halfway up; I can't reach it myself and Van Pelt's probably already left. I need you to get in here and help me," she informed him all in one breath while practically dragging him into the office with one hand before quickly shutting the door with the other.
Jane resisted the urge to laugh at the hint of panic in her voice. He knew she wouldn't appreciate it. "Of course Teresa," he said softly, the use of her first name catching her off guard, as he'd intended it to. He watched as some of the irritation faded from her eyes. "It is a lovely dress," he added. "And I'm sure it'll be even lovelier once we can get it all fastened correctly." It was a lovely dress. V-necked, knee length and sleeveless in a dark green that suited her skin tone and her eyes.
His remark stopped Lisbon's mental irritation for the moment. "Thank you," she said sincerely, staring at him across her office she took the opportunity to full appreciate the sight of Patrick Jane in formal wear. Sure, he looked good in his usual three-piece suits, but Jane in a tuxedo looked even better. "You look good," she added casually.
"Well, thank you Lisbon," Jane said puffing up a little in innocent pleasure. "Now turn around, so I can see what we're dealing with here."
Dutifully, Lisbon did what he asked, telling herself that it was ridiculous to feel self-conscious. They were both adults, and they were even friends of a sort now. Besides, everything even remotely scandalous was still covered. She held her hair out of the way with one hand. "It's like I said," she told him. "The zipper got stuck half-way up."
"Hmm," Jane agreed. Lisbon could feel his breath tickle past her right ear. For some reason she hadn't been expecting him to be standing so close. She felt him rest a hand on her waist, holding her still while he tried the zipper. "Nope, you're right, it's stuck," he agreed.
"Thank you," she said sarcastically. "You're very helpful."
"Well, I haven't given up yet," Jane told her in mild exasperation. "I'm just... examining the situation."
"Well hurry up, would you?" Lisbon asked, clearly still a little annoyed. "I'd like to get out of here some time tonight."
But Jane didn't particularly want to hurry up. He was finding himself distracted by the top two thirds of her spine, by the back of a black bra against her smooth skin, by the freckle just below her right shoulder blade and by the fact that he was pretty sure if he leaned in to glance down the partly opened zipper he'd see something even more... suggestive. Jane admitted that he'd certainly seen women in more revealing positions than this since his wife had died, between trips to various clubs for work or watching the odd movie when he had the time. But he hadn't felt, well, intrigued by any of them, not really anyway. But Lisbon, unsurprisingly, was somehow different, as she almost always was.
Jane forced his mind back to the task at hand and forbade his eyes from dropping any lower than the top of her hips as he examined the zipper. Gently he slid a hand into the opening of her dress.
"Jane?" Lisbon asked nervously. "What are..."
"I think the zipper's caught on a bit of loose fabric back here," he explained quietly. "I'll need to free it to get the zipper moving again."
"Oh," Lisbon said. Well that made sense. She tried to stand patiently while Jane's nimble fingers worked away at the back of her dress. She decided to pretend that it was perfectly normal for her consultant to have his hand on her bare skin while he stood this close behind her. She also told herself that there was nothing odd about Jane's behaviour, that he wasn't being strangely quiet and cooperative and... gentle. And she told herself that she hadn't almost gasped when she'd first felt his fingers against her spine. Then Lisbon ordered herself to calm down and for heaven's sakes to breathe normally. If she didn't, he'd know. And then he'd probably misinterpret it.
Jane focused on freeing the little bit of caught cloth without damaging the zipper itself in any way. He did not focus on all the body heat she seemed to give off, or the faint shudder he thought he'd felt when he'd first touched her (his hands were probably just cold, that was all). Her pulse certainly hadn't spiked, and if she had goose bumps it probably had more to do with the fact that the back of her dress was still hanging open than anything else. As for anything he might be experiencing, well, he was still a man, and she was a beautiful woman. Dressed up like they were it was easy to forget who they were the rest of the time. It was all perfectly innocent.
A few seconds later Lisbon felt the zipper slide slowly up her back. "There you go," Jane said quietly, still practically whispering right in her ear as he slid his hand briefly back to her hip.
She turned to send him a self-conscious smile over her shoulder. "Thanks," she said. "Though now I probably don't have time to figure out how to put my hair up," she added a little self-deprecatingly.
Jane frowned slightly. "Why do you need to put it up?" he asked. He'd always liked her hair best when she let it curl naturally. "I like it that way. It looks lovely like that."
"Thanks Jane," she said wryly. "I'm glad, because it'll probably have to do."
"You're lovely Lisbon," he repeated quietly. Genuinely.
Lisbon stared at him, feeling a blush rising to her cheeks. Jane took the opportunity to appreciate the slightly heavier make-up she was wearing. She shook her head slightly. "Thank-you," she said again with a slight cough. "Okay, I'll leave it down then."
Jane grinned, fast and bright. "Excellent. Are you ready then?"
"Now that my dress is done up I guess so," Lisbon admitted.
"Good," Jane said clapping his hands together. "Then I think as a reward for helping you with your little problem I should get to escort the prettiest woman in the building to the big event," he told her with a wink.
Lisbon chuckled. "Shut up," she said self-consciously taking a swipe at his arm. "I'll bet you say that to all the girls."
Jane shrugged, "Just the ones who threaten me with physical violence."
"So all the girls," Lisbon repeated.
Jane smirked. He supposed he'd walked right into that one. "Alright," he amended. "Just the ones who threaten me with physical violence that I also happen to work for."
Lisbon rolled her eyes, but she took the offered arm.
"Plus," Jane continued. "Look on the bright side. Now you'll have me around to get you out of any awkward conversations."
Lisbon looked frightened at the thought. "Jane, I don't know how you're planning on getting me out of awkward conversations, or what type of conversations you even consider awkward," she said, picturing Jane blithely going about the room insulting all of the most important people in it one by one, under the guise of making her more comfortable. "But I am more than capable of getting myself out of unwanted situations. This isn't my first CBI function remember."
"True," Jane said. "But this could be more fun." When Lisbon looked like she'd object again he corrected himself. "Okay, okay," he told her. "Think about it this way. If I stick close by you can keep an eye on me, since you seem to think I need it."
"You do need it," she shot back.
"Plus this way we can make fun of the other guests without them hearing," Jane added. "I do hope that awful woman from upstate wears another hat like she did last time."
"The one with the hideous white feathers?" Lisbon asked. "Maybe this time she'll expand her colour palette."
"Or move into other animals," Jane suggested. "Perhaps some leopard print."
Lisbon let out an undignified snort. But she continued on in the same vein. Because this was who they were. They were all banter with a bit of friendly teasing. They were friends, good friends even. Which is why asking Jane for help with her dress hadn't been the worst option. After the slight awkwardness Jane could still make her smile. It was there way.
And when he put his hand back on her waist to lead her out of the office it felt exactly the same as it always did.
Lisbon walked as quietly as possible through the abandoned warehouse flanked by her team and several members of SWAT. She moved as quickly as she dared, knowing time might be crucial. She only hoped it wasn't already a non-issue.
Stopping outside a door, she nodded quickly to her companions and gripped her gun as someone broke down the closed door. She and Cho ran into the room quickly. The sight she was greeted with wasn't what she was expecting, though she almost exhaled in relief. Jane was still alive. He and Red John were faced off against each other in the centre of the room, both pointing guns at each other.
"CBI!" she yelled as various armed professionals got into position around the room. "Drop your weapons now!"
"Ah, if it isn't Agent Lisbon," Red John said with a sibilant hiss. "I was wondering if you'd get here in time. It seems our friend, Mr. Jane, has been stalling," the serial killer added, from beneath a horrific cloak and mask. "What's the matter Patrick?" he asked. "Wanted to wait to let your partner do your dirty work?"
"Shut up!" Jane and Lisbon yelled at the same time.
Lisbon could see Jane's hand shaking ever so slightly, but his face was still resolute.
"Such loyalty," Red John mocked. "Such similar ways of thinking. But the two of you aren't actually alike at all are you? Mr. Jane here wants nothing more than to kill me, while you, on the other hand..."
"I wouldn't mind if you died," Lisbon interupted. "But I don't want anyone to become a murderer to achieve that goal."
"Tell that to your indecisive consultant," Red John said. "What's it going to be Patrick? In the end it was always going to be down to you and me anyway."
Lisbon decided it was time to change her approach. Appealing to the serial killer would get her nowhere. "Jane," she called calmly. "I need your help. I need you to do something for me."
"What's that?" he asked woodenly.
"I need you to put the gun down," she told him as firmly as she could. "Please."
She saw a flash of doubt run through him, "Lisbon I..."
"Come on Jane," she coaxed. "Help me help you. Just put the gun down."
"I don't..." He couldn't put the gun down. Not now. Not when he was so close. All he needed to do was pull the trigger. Why couldn't he pull the trigger?
"You don't want to do this," Lisbon told him, her voice still soothing, though he could hear the distress underneath the outward calm. He didn't like when Lisbon was distressed. "You know you don't really want to do this," she repeated. "You've been having doubts for years now."
"No I..." Jane denied quickly. "How did you..."
"You're not the only one who notices things," she said quietly. "Now let me help you."
Jane's fingers slackened ever so slightly on the gun. It really did feel foreign in his hands. Wrong. Even after spending all that time practicing shooting it in secret. Maybe he should help her help him, maybe he should... He'd always told himself that if she'd only ask him for help he'd do almost anything she wanted. He'd thought Red John was the one exception, but maybe... Jane's gun lowered a half a centimetre.
Bellowing in fury at his nemesis' uncooperativeness, Red John snapped. "You think you can just ignore my plans for you?" he seethed. "We'll see about that Patrick Jane. This'll make you act," he added, as he turned to point his gun at Lisbon.
He'd barely had time to swing his arm in her direction before at least five shots were fired. Cho, Van Pelt, Lisbon herself, along with two SWAT team members stepped forward, guns raised.
Jane stared at her, hand still shaking, still unable to pull the trigger of his own weapon.
Lisbon decided to let the others deal with the dead serial killer. She was going to look after her consultant. She holstered her weapon and walked over to him, taking the gun from his hands gently. "It's over," she told him. "And I don't even want to know where you got this," she added, referring to the unfired 9mm.
"It doesn't matter," Jane said dully. "I didn't even fire it."
"I know," Lisbon agreed," running a hand tentatively along his arm, as she handed the gun to Cho. "And thank you for that. Thank you for helping me."
Jane gave a barely discernable nod, his eyes never leaving the body on the ground.
Lisbon was trying very hard not to worry.
It'd been about six hours since Red John had been killed. They were still waiting on the autopsy results to determine which of the bullets had been fatal. Not that it really mattered.
Jane had stuck around for a while, given a statement, done everything that was legally required of him actually. Then, all of a sudden he'd just disappeared. Lisbon had finished up what she'd needed to at the office, then she'd found excuse after excuse to delay her there. After a few hours though, she'd decided to just go home. He knew where to find her if he wanted to.
And that was a big "if".
She understood the need for time and space to process what had happened, but he'd just disappeared. She only wanted to make sure he was alright. That he hadn't done something stupid. Jane'd even left his cell phone at the CBI so she had no way of getting a hold of him. All she could do was sit on her couch, trying to distract herself with pointless television shows, and telling herself not to worry.
It wasn't working.
Suddenly she heard a knock on her door.
Lisbon leapt to her feet and practically ran across the room in her hurry to open the door. Sure enough, Jane was on the other side.
"Hi," he said with an attempt at a smile.
"Hey, come on in," she said quickly, ushering him inside before he could leave again.
"Sorry, I left so abruptly," Jane said without preamble.
Lisbon waved away his apology awkwardly. "S'okay," she said. "I get it. You needed time, and space. I'm sure you probably need more of it. No one blames you. I was just worried that... that..."
"That something had happened," Jane finished for her.
"Yeah," Lisbon said, letting out a woosh of air. "I'm glad you're okay."
"I'm not okay," Jane told her.
Lisbon winced. "That's not what I meant. I meant, well, I meant physically."
"I'm not sure how to be okay," Jane continued as if she hadn't spoken. "For years all I cared about was killing Red John, and now he's dead. And I'm alive, and I'm not heading off to prison. I just... I don't know how to do this."
Lisbon's heart broke for him. "I know," she said softly. "But I'm glad you didn't kill him," she added.
"You asked me not to," Jane reminded her. "And I... I... I just need time, and I need to figure this out."
Lisbon nodded dumbly. Of course. He was leaving. She'd always expected that he would. After all, he'd told her the only reason he was working with the CBI more times than she could count. Well, at least the ending to all this had been happier than she'd expected, and at least Jane had come to say goodbye first. "You can take all the time you need now," Lisbon promised him.
"I don't know how to live life without having Red John to chase after," Jane admitted.
"Yeah," Lisbon sighed, staring at her floor.
"I might want to learn though," Jane said softly.
"Wha?" Lisbon said in shock, her head whipping up to look at his eyes.
Jane sent her a small but hopeful smile. "I don't suppose you'd like to help me with that Teresa."
Lisbon felt like someone'd hit her in the head with a mallet.
"I know it's a horrible imposition on my part," Jane continued. "But given that you've put up with far worse from me over the years, I thought you'd probably do it anyway. And you are so very unselfish, and kind, underneath all your prickles."
"I don't," Lisbon started. "Jane... what are you...?"
Jane took a step towards her, and took her hand. "I want to try having a normal life. With you," he clarified, pulling her closer. "But I'm going to need your help, if that's alright with you."
"Jane," she whispered again, her heart starting to race. She was pretty sure she knew what he meant, but she wasn't certain and if she was wrong...
"Yes dear?" Jane asked, as he brushed her hair off of her forehead.
Lisbon leaned into his hand for a moment. Then she remembered what needed to be said. "We just got Red John," she reminded him.
"I know," he agreed. "I was there."
"And I'm so happy you decided not to murder him yourself," Lisbon continued resolutely, ignoring the hand that had somehow travelled to her waist.
"Because you asked me to," Jane told her.
"What?" Lisbon asked, her train of thought sidetracked by his interruption.
"I didn't murder Red John because you asked me not to," he explained. "You almost never ask me for anything personal, so when you do ask, I want to do it for you. I want to do things for you for other reasons too," he admitted. "And I heard how upset you were, back in the warehouse. I'd already been standing there for what felt like hours, not shooting. And when you asked me to help you... I..." Jane faltered, before continuing in a stronger voice. "Let me help you just a little bit from time to time Teresa," he asked as he brushed his lips through her hair. "I like it."
Lisbon shook her head. "This isn't real," she told him. "This is... You're emotional because of what happened today. Anyone would be. And you're here because, well, we got pretty close over the years. Cops do. It makes sense. It's understandable. But it's not... You're adrift and you're seeking comfort..."
Jane pulled back and stared at her, gripping her arms, anger and amusement fighting for dominance. "Oh, I'm just looking for comfort, for familiarity am I?" he asked.
Lisbon nodded, not looking at him.
"Then why, my dear, am I standing here and not in say, Van Pelt's living room?" Jane asked. Lisbon couldn't help scowling briefly at the idea. "After all," Jane continued, "Van Pelt is an attractive woman, very compassionate, and even after all this time, fairly easy to manipulate. I've been working closely with her almost as long as I've been working with you," Jane reminded her. "So why aren't I there?"
"Because you like Rigsby too much for that," Lisbon joked.
Jane grinned softly. "Or because I happen to think that while Grace is a lovely woman, you're far lovelier Teresa," he told her, his grin widening at her quick intake of breath. Maybe it wasn't fair to read her like this, but this was far too important for something as silly as fairness. "And because you're the one I've spent all that time with at the movies, or in your office, or on this couch in your apartment. And you're the one that I see sometimes when I do manage to fall asleep. I've dreamed about you before Teresa, did you know that?" Lisbon let out a sob, but still refused to meet his eyes. Jane simply continued with his explanation as he drew patterns on her forearm. "You're always insulting me and poking me, and never letting me close in on myself. Even when I wanted to. I admit I was stupid, not realizing what any of it meant, but I'm not here because you're handy Lisbon."
"Okay," Lisbon said finally. "Maybe it's not because I'm convenient, but Jane you're still trying to fill a... I mean..."
"You're not a replacement Lisbon," Jane assured her quietly, his hand slipping into hers, he found her pulse and felt it racing. "Why are you so intent on denying what I'm saying?" he asked, trying to catch her eye.
"I'm not," she insisted, still staring at her carpet. "I just..."
"You what?" Jane asked gently, rubbing circles on her wrist. "Lisbon what's wrong? You can talk to me."
"I don't know if," Lisbon started to explain as Jane tipped her chin upwards, forcing her to look at him. She gasped at what she saw in his eyes. "Patrick..."
His own eyes widened at what they recognized in hers. He crushed her too him. "Oh Teresa," he whispered. "You little fool, you wonderful little fool, why didn't you..."
"What could I possibly say?" she asked him as she wrapped her arms around his waist, too tired to fight anymore. "How could I say anything at all?"
"Well how could I?" he demanded, running his hands up and down her back. "I was dangerous, and poisonous. I almost got you killed again today! How could I possibly..."
Lisbon was shaking her head again. "I'm fine. I'm fine. Not your fault," she told him. "It wasn't your fault Patrick Jane. It will always be his fault."
"No it won't," Jane said. "Not all of it."
"Yes it will," Lisbon contradicted immediately.
Janed grinned, "Stubborn woman.
"Yeah," she agreed. "I'm stubborn Jane and I'm terrible at relationships and..."
"Teresa, stop talking," he ordered as he pulled her closer to him. He was sure she'd never be close enough. He trailed his lips across her forehead, then her eyes after he felt them flutter shut.
"Okay," she agreed, as she ran her hands over his vest. He was right, they could talk more later.
"Just," Jane added, his voice by her ear, "Does that mean you'll help teach me how to be normal?" he asked.
"You could never be normal," she murmured against his neck.
He pulled back to smile at her. "Functional then," he amended.
Lisbon smiled back slowly, "All you ever had to do is ask," she told him, right before she kissed him.
Hope you liked it! I sometimes feel like there's a seriously lack of non-depressing fic in this fandom. And yes, I know I can be as bad as anybody else.