A/N: Wrote this one a while back, forgot about it, found it, edited it and now posted it! My take on how Cackle-Bladder Blood should have ended. Something much lighter and hopeful. Enjoy!
Spoilers: Some from 3x02 Cackle-Bladder Blood.
Disclaimer: Did anyone else watch last night's episode (3x07 Red Hot) and felt a mixture of love and hate? I sure did! Anyway, if last night was an indication of anything it was the fact that I own nothing. The lyrics and title are borrowed from Paramore's The Only Exception.
The Only Exception
And up until now
I had sworn to myself that I'm
Content with loneliness
Because none of it was ever worth the risk
Well, you are the only exception
- Paramore (The Only Exception)
"What are you doing here?"
The question is left hanging in the air. Jane can barely look his brother-in-law in the eye, feeling incredibly on edge just standing in Danny's living room. It doesn't help that Jane's mind is filled with the image of a vibrant, free-spirited little girl and an equally rambunctious little boy. Jane can see them hiding from their parents, crouched behind the leather couch he is currently staring at.
"I wanted to let you know we caught the killer."
Danny remains silent for minute, a myriad of emotions flicker across his face.
"Well, that's good for you."
Shoving his hands into his pockets, Danny turns his back on Jane. Jane follows Danny's gaze and finds himself staring at a faded photo, holding a still image of the same vibrant, free-spirited little girl alongside her equally rambunctious little brother that Jane had envisioned moments earlier.
"It's your fault she's dead."
Jane expects Danny to blame him. What he doesn't expect is how much the words hurt.
"That's it? You know?" Danny spat out. "You took away the one person that has ever believed in me, that has ever given a shit about me. She loved me."
"I loved her."
"Bull, you loved you more."
"You're right. But I did love her," Jane repeats quietly.
He isn't even sure at this point exactly who he is trying to convince, so he shows himself to the door without saying goodbye. He makes it down the front steps when Danny remerges onto the porch. The unmistakable sound of metal clicking against metal causes Jane to stop immediately in his tracks.
"You're a coward," Danny called out.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jane can barely make out the silvery glint of the gun, wavering in Danny's tight grasp. Jane slowly turns around and takes a careful step forward. He lifts his palms out in front of him before taking another step, then another, until they are standing a foot apart. Jane hesitantly reaches out and clasps his hands over Danny's, guiding the muzzle directly over his heart.
"Give me one reason why I shouldn't pull the trigger."
Jane simply shakes his head, "I wouldn't blame you if you did."
A single tear slips down Danny's cheek, his hands only now trembling beneath Jane's steady grasp. Their eyes remain locked on each other in a complete stalemate.
"Put the gun down, Ruskin."
When Lisbon's clear and level voice cuts through the tension, Jane isn't surprised. She reaches the pair and Jane notices her gaze immediately zeroing in on the gun between them. Lisbon frowns, her own firearm aimed at Danny.
"Put the gun down," she repeats. "Don't make me say it again."
The second Jane releases the revolver, Lisbon springs into action, freeing the weapon from Danny's grasp. She is about to cuff him when Jane grabs her wrist.
"Forget about him."
The word is enough to convince her, though he hates the pity he finds in her pretty green eyes. He says nothing else to Lisbon or to Danny and makes his way back to the safety of his car.
"Jane, wait! Jane!"
Her voice eventually is drowned out by the sound of the engine. As he pulls away, Jane doesn't even take the time to steal one last look at the only family he had the privilege of once calling his own.
Lisbon finds him an hour later. Had the roles been reversed, she figures he probably would have found her in half the time. The thought momentarily puts a small smile on her face as she hops out of the SUV. The smile fades when she spots him, perched on a granite tombstone with a modest bouquet of daisies cradled in his hands. Making the trek up a small hill, she carefully weaves her way through the tidy rows towards him. His vacant gaze is fixed between a pair of matching headstones, the final resting place of his wife and daughter. She can't help but feel as though she is intruding on a sacred moment between Jane and his beloved family, but her feet remain firmly rooted to the ground beside him.
"Stop looking at me like that."
Sighing, she turns to face him.
"Like you feel sorry for me."
"I don't feel sorry for you."
He snorts in disbelief but she ignores him.
"I feel sad," she admits in exasperation, "and angry. Sad that you think your life is so worthless and angry you think you're in this alone."
"I care about you," she continues. "God only knows why, but I do. And I'm not going to idly stand by and let you wallow in self pity for the rest of your life."
Her voice is raw by the time she finishes speaking. She knows he understands how much she hates letting her guard down. And for a fleeting moment, she thinks that maybe she has gotten through to him. She watches as he places the daisies lovingly on his wife's grave. When he straightens, he doesn't even acknowledge her before brushing past her and walking away. Her eyes slip shut as she takes in a deep breath. She feels indescribably empty, hollow. After waiting awhile to compose herself, Lisbon turns around and is stunned when arms immediately envelop her. At first she stands there numbly, unsure how to react, until she lifts her own arms and holds him. The embrace lasts briefly, ending when he takes a half-step back. He ducks his head, somewhat sheepishly as she focuses her gaze on an invisible point just past his shoulder.
"You smell nice," she mumbles, breaking the silence.
A grin tugs at her lips as she hazards a glance over at him. Relief rushes through her body when she hears his faint laugh. The moment passes and soon they quietly begin returning to their respective vehicles at the same time.
He calls out to her as she is about to pull open the car door. Smiling at his use of her first name, she looks over at him.
"Thank you," he says simply.
For a second, she doesn't see the guilt-riddled, revenge-seeking Patrick Jane. Instead, she catches a glimpse of an honest man, perhaps even a man she could possibly fall in love with one day. She watches him as he gets into his Citroen and waits until he starts his engine before slipping into her own car. With one last wave, she turns left as he disappears down the road to the right.
The next morning, she finds a beautiful navy vial on her desk with a note attached reading 'Don't Drink Me' in his familiar scrawl. Gingerly, she uncaps the bottle and smiles at the light scent of cologne that surrounds her.
Cho knocks on the glass as she discretely slips the gift into a drawer.
"We're up," he says solemnly.
Gathering her jacket, she walks past her second in command but frowns when she notices him hesitating in her doorway.
"What?" she asks curiously.
He turns around, an impassive expression fixed on his face.
"Hightower is meeting us at the scene, looks a like we caught a big one."
She studies him sceptically.
He doesn't reply as they head down the corridor and wait for the elevator.
"I would change if I were you," he says suddenly.
His comment surprises her as she looks down at her choice of attire.
"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" she asks, somewhat puzzled.
The doors open and Cho steps into the cart, giving her a blank stare.
"You smell like Jane."
The doors close before she could respond. She stares speechlessly at her reflection, taken aback by Cho's comment. Instinctively, she presses her nose against her collar, the scent of his cologne is faint but present. Her head snaps back as she hazards a quick peek to see if anyone else is around. Satisfied that she was alone, she shakes her head before reaching out to press the down button. When the elevator arrives, she finds herself staring at Jane.
"Morning," he greets cheerily.
"Morning," she replies, stepping inside.
They remain silent on the short ride down. When the doors ping open, Jane purposely brushes his hand against hers. He smiles warmly at her as he holds out his arm, allowing her to exit first.
"You smell nice today."
She tries to glare at him but the impish sparkle in his eyes makes it difficult to keep her smile from spilling across her face. She can definitely get used to being around this Patrick Jane.
"So do you."
And I'm on my way to believing
Oh, and I'm on my way to believing…
Fin for now, Jello forever