With all that's within you

Disclaimer: Don't own anything.

Rating: T

Spoiler: 3.08 "Ball of Fire"

A/N: School has been riding my ass, so this is how I cope. Huge thanks to hardly loquacious for betaing. This is to anyone who thought we learned a hell of a lot more about Lisbon than we did about Jane in 3.08. Enjoy!

xxx

"We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy"
-
Walter Inglis Anderson

xxx

The words in front of her blur into unreadable black lines, all bleeding together on the page until all she can decipher is her own signature, scrawled at the bottom of the report.

Lisbon knows that once her eyes begin to burn from too much strain and poor lighting it's time to stop, put away the paperwork, and consider going home for the night. But lately the very notion of going home makes her nauseous, because home means sleep, and for the last few weeks her subconscious hasn't given her an ounce of rest.

At first, she couldn't remember why she had woken up in the middle of the night; all that she was aware of was the loud thudding of her own heart and the shiver of fear running down her spine as she was jolted awake. However, eventually she began recalling bits and pieces of the vivid images that plagued her subconscious, that wouldn't let her get a full night's rest (an absolute necessity in her line of work).

It wasn't always the same dream. Sometimes, she found herself in the middle of a burning basement, watching in horror as her surroundings went up in flames, destroying the entire room and everything in it, including the body slumped against the pole.

In this dream, it wasn't the smell of smoke or burning flesh that left her shivering in a cold sweat, it was the realization that she was too late, that she hadn't been able to do her job, that she couldn't save him.

Other times, Lisbon found herself handcuffed alongside him, except the army knife wasn't just a prop anymore, but a weapon, being plunged deep into his vested torso over and over again by an unknown assailant, dark crimson liquid spreading into the gray material, staining it, trickling down his arms. The corner of his mouth was suddenly tinged with red as the life seeped out of him, blue eyes vacant and lost staring at her.

She always screamed in those dreams, screamed until she was hoarse. She screamed and pulled on her own restraint, trying to save him from the faceless murderer, but she was always just out of reach or just a little too late. Then she always woke up, startled, shivering, tears blurring her vision, feelings of helplessness, defeat, and something that suspiciously felt like heartbreak keeping her awake for hours after.

It didn't matter what nightmare she had, she never fell back asleep and it was starting to take its toll. She and Cho chased down a suspect just the other day and the perp would have gotten away if it hadn't been for her second in command.

Exhaustion nearly crippled her midway through the pursuit, and she actually had to stop to catch her breath. That had never happened to her before, but if her team had noticed, they didn't act like it. No one sent even a cursory glance in her direction as Cho led the handcuffed prick to the SUV.

Perhaps she had just missed their looks, but either way no one had approached her, not even Jane. Of course, the consultant was extremely preoccupied with getting a confession out of the small time thief that Cho had successfully chased down.

Thoughts of that same consultant divert her attention completely from the budget report in front of her. Sitting back, Lisbon reclines against her chair and runs a tired hand across her eyes, trying hard to stave off an impending headache.

The lack of sleep paired with the resulting anxiety is weighting on her now more than ever. She feels an acute throbbing in the back of her skull, a lethargy spreading through her muscles. Her body is telling her to give in, rest her head against the back of the chair and close her eyes, succumb to a few hours of much needed reprieve. Yet her mind is contrary today.

She simply can't shut off her thoughts, especially as she recalls the actual events that took place two weeks ago, the overwhelming relief she felt seeing Jane alive (if a little injured); the sinking feeling when she realized they were going to die at the hands of some deranged girl who missed her father so much, she redirected her anger elsewhere; and then the sudden thrill of knowing they were going to survive.

At first, Lisbon couldn't keep the smile off her face, couldn't stop being around Jane. She thought she'd never grow tired of his snarky comments or jokes. She wasn't sure why she was feeling so protective over him. Not then at least.

But she knows now, has had enough time to think in the solitude of the night about this. It's no coincidence her dreams started right after Jane's abduction; she knows it's her deepest fears sprouting to the surface, reminding her that she could have easily lost him. Had they done one thing differently, they would have been too late; she would have been too late.

However, it took her just a little bit longer to realize why this time, this abduction, was different. After all, over the years (and there were files to prove it), Jane's gotten into all sorts of dangerous situations. He's been held at gun point, been punched repeatedly, been held hostage, has even been kidnapped before, so why was this time different? Why did it trigger such a deep-seated, emotional reaction from her? How come it has invaded her subconscious?

Lisbon only realized why a few days earlier, when she was moving around her filing cabinet and stumbled onto the Red John file. Immediately, flashbacks flooded her mind, flashbacks of Jane saran-wrapped to a chair, shaking from fear but trying hard to conceal it as she and the unit stormed the abandoned hotel. Standing there with the Red John file in her hand, Lisbon knew right away why this time was different, why she couldn't focus on anything but finding him from the first second she'd heard Jane's panicked, hushed voice telling her he was in trouble.

This time was different because Red John had gotten to Jane once before. Not only had he gotten to him, but he'd killed Jane's captors in order to keep the consultant alive; Lisbon could only assume he'd done that in order to continue their torturous game of cat and mouse. However, regardless of the serial killer's motivation, what terrified her more was the fact that Red John had gotten Jane once before and could do it again.

In theory, she'd always known that, but seeing it happen had nearly crumbled what was left of her optimism, had nearly destroyed the tiny shred of hope she still had that the bastard would just disappear eventually. That he'd stop taunting Jane, and the blond in turn would possibly be able to move on.

Of course, Lisbon wasn't naïve enough to believe that could ever realistically happen. But knowing Red John had been that close to Jane, that the two men had been face to face with each other had shaken her to the very core; and it was forcing her to use a little more of her resolve every day since to maintain control and composure.

Frankly, she's surprised the nightmares hadn't begun earlier. Apparently they'd needed a catalyst though, a role that Jane's abduction had been only happy to fulfill, leaving her nearly defenseless against her deepest fears and insecurities.

Thinking of Jane makes her eyes immediately gravitate toward his couch, part of which is obscured by the bullpen structure. Still, Lisbon manages to detect the familiar but unexpectedly present head of curls resting on the brown and tattered arm of the sofa.

Instantly, she smiles. Her lips curve upward as she feels that familiar twinge of relief and warmth returning, seeping into her body, relaxing tense and tired muscles.

It's so rare to see Jane outside of his "fortress of solitude" lately that Lisbon's already up before she even realizes what she's doing. She wants to blame her sudden desire to take a break on her empty coffee mug, but doesn't even bother trying to convince herself that that's why she feels so energized all of a sudden.

Still, to keep up appearances she heads into the kitchen to refill her mug anyway. As she busies herself with the coffee maker, she contemplates making Jane a cup of tea or finding something to eat in their barren refrigerator. Ultimately she decides against it, and walks to her bullpen with nothing but her own, now full, coffee mug.

She's certain he senses her presence right away. After all, the bullpen is pretty dead this time of the evening. Though there are people working quietly in their offices, the click of her heels is distinct and unmistakable.

Besides, the moment she steps into the bullpen Lisbon sees Jane open his eyes. A second later he rises, stretching lazily like a cat, and smiling sleepily. It's a welcomed sight, one she's grown accustomed to over the years (one that has also annoyed her on more than one occasion), but one that she's missed lately. So she doesn't bite back her grin and when Jane fixes her with a curious gaze, she doesn't answer the unspoken question. Instead, she merely nudges him aside and sinks into the soft, worn cushions, still warm thanks to Jane's previously reclining form.

He exhales, feigning offense at her intrusion, but says nothing, and, more importantly, only moves over just enough to settle her between himself and arm of the couch. Only then does he look at her, casting a stare in her direction, eyes oscillating between her mug and her face.

Just to tease him, Lisbon brings the coffee to her lips, taking a long, exaggerated, and satisfied sip. Jane watches closely, his eyes widening a little, before narrowing almost immediately afterwards.

"Well that's just rude." He murmurs, this time putting more effort into his hurt expression.

"What is?" She feigns innocence on purpose, lip suspended in a smirk; the expectation of impending verbal sparring reinvigorating her.

"Not only did you wake me up but you also didn't make me a cup of tea?"

He looks so genuinely hurt that if Lisbon didn't know any better, she'd feel remorseful. But as it stands, Jane's wounded expression earns him a low laugh in response.

After a few moments of him pouting, Lisbon can't help but defend her position.

"First of all," she says. "I had no intention of waking you up, you're just a light sleeper, and second of all, we both know that if I even attempted to make you a cup of tea, you'd have to redo it yourself anyway. Besides, I'm more curious to find out why you've graced us with your presence in the bullpen tonight instead of simply holing yourself up in your attic."

It's meant to be a playful jab, just a tease, and although she knows Jane's aware of it, she still feels a tug at her heart strings when the bemusement in his eyes tapers off, replaced with a hint of melancholy.

For a moment, Lisbon regrets being so blasé.

Still the words are already out there, suspended in the air between them and Jane immediately softens, shoulders slumping just a little as he ducks his head down and gives her a side glance.

"Just wanted to be around people, I guess."

The fact that the entire floor is empty doesn't elude her, but Lisbon ignores the tiny voice in the back of her head that settles on the implication of his statement and instead smiles a little ruefully, finding a sudden interest in her coffee mug.

Sensing the unexpected tension between them, Jane clears his throat and settles back against the cushion. It's then that Lisbon becomes acutely aware of how close they are. However, she doesn't move away, doesn't even flinch. She lets the heat she feels from his body relax her, their shoulders and thighs touching as neither moves away.

When she inhales and catches a whiff of his cologne intermixed with the smell of her coffee, an unexpected shiver skitters down her spine, prompting her to take another sip from her mug, if only to occupy herself.

"So what about you?" Jane asks after a while, "what's your excuse for being here? To my knowledge I haven't done anything that would render any complaints or additional paperwork, and I know you finished everything on the McNierny case hours ago. So why are you still here?"

The question doesn't catch Lisbon off guard, though her desire to be honest with him does. Usually, with Jane her first instinct is to lie, to put up defenses, afraid that even with how close they have become and how much they've been through, he could still somehow use something, anything against her.

Lisbon wonders if it's an innate trait of hers, or something that comes out only when Jane is around. She suspects the latter, but doesn't even know if her caution is valid. After all, as many times as he's deceived her, subverted her plans, or put himself in harm's way, Jane has never used her insecurities against her. He's always regarded her as his equal, even if it isn't always obvious.

"Lisbon…" he prompts, his tone almost imploring.

His quiet concern cements her decision. Perhaps if she had more time to think it through, she would have lied. But in this moment it becomes too tempting not to tell the truth, regardless of the potential dangers inherent in confiding in Jane.

"I just don't really want to go home." She admits with a shrug, the perceived air of nonchalance belying the implication of her words.

Suddenly, the murky depths of her mug become extremely interesting and she stares down, wrapping her hands tighter around the green ceramic, hoping to extract as much warmth as possible as she catches bits of her distorted reflection in the coffee.

She feels Jane's gaze on her, not exactly intense but unnerving all the same. She doesn't have time to regret her words though, because a moment later his hand moves from his own lap to hers. She watches his thumb as it grazes the knuckles on her right hand, bone white from being wrapped so tightly around the mug.

His thumb barely runs across her skin and even though she hasn't been exactly celibate these past few weeks, especially with the reappearance of a certain arrogant but damn near irresistible and surprisingly sweet billionaire, Jane's touch sparks something inside her, a flutter of warmth that serves to put her on edge more than relax her, at least initially.

Their proximity, however, makes it impossible for Lisbon not to look at him. And when she does, the naked concern in his eye both terrifies and thrills her. It's maddening how reversed their roles are right now.

She's supposed to be the one comforting him.

She's the one who needs to remain strong and dependable.

For God's sake, he was the one who was abducted and tortured by a lunatic. Yet, here she is, ready to seek comfort from him when it should be the other way around.

Still, whether it's the magnetic pull of his eyes or the residual warmth from his touch, Lisbon realizes very quickly that she doesn't really want to skirt around the issue, or dance around the truth, or blanket herself in lies and denials.

So, she sets her mug aside and sinks deeper into the couch, leaning her head back and giving a long, tension releasing sigh before saying, "I can't sleep."

She exhales again, closing her eyes for a moment. She thinks Jane might truly realize how exhausted she is because when she turns to look at him, he's staring right at her, forehead etched in concentration and worry, something she sees extremely rarely, but secretly finds endearing now.

Jane doesn't say anything, but his silence merely spurs Lisbon on, thoughts of defenses and armor falling by the wayside as the words tumble out unwittingly.

"Every time I close my eyes, all I see is that basement, burning to a crisp…with you inside it." She doesn't dare look at him now, almost embarrassed by her vulnerability, nearly berating herself for telling the truth.

Why couldn't she have lied? What is it about this man that elicits such strange, uncontrolled behavior from her at the most inopportune times?

She thinks she knows why, but she's not going there…she's just not…

Thankfully, Jane's bemused tone and slight smile give her a welcomed distraction.

"Well I for one am glad those are just dreams you're having my dear and not reality."

She knows he's merely trying to infuse the moment with levity, attempting to uplift her spirits a little, and as temporary as this reprieve is likely to be, Lisbon takes the bait, returning his half smile with a smirk of her own. "Why? Because you'd miss the couch too much?"

He's momentarily taken aback by her mild tease and secretly Lisbon revels in the opportunity of catching him off guard. But then his smile fades, and his expression hardens slightly, as though trying to communicate something else with his eyes, and she frowns, wondering if she's said the wrong thing.

"Something like that," Jane finally murmurs before settling further back against the cushion. Silence lapses between them and Lisbon is not sure what to say, suddenly feeling like this was a huge mistake, but reluctant to leave the comfort of her current resting place.

Surprisingly, his couch has the right amount of firmness to tease out the tension in her muscles and she can't deny that she feels oddly secure in Jane's presence. Her eyes flutter shut for a moment and she thinks that if maybe no one disturbs her, she can finally relax enough to get some much needed rest.

That's probably why she nearly flinches when Jane touches her for the second time tonight. If he notices her slight recoil, he doesn't pay it any mind. He just lets his thumb brush across her wrist again, this time more slowly, as though he's the one relishing the contact.

The thought that he might be doing it for his own sake, for his own curiosity, makes Lisbon's heart stammer just slightly in her chest. A knot forms beneath her ribs as he concludes his exploration by engulfing her entire hand in his, apparently transfixed by the sight of their hands nearly intertwined.

She finds that she herself cannot look away either. So when he speaks, it takes her a second to process his words.

"You know, there is a way to find out why you're having these nightmares," Jane reminds her.

Lisbon immediately shakes her head, her mind flashing back to the last time he hypnotized her. She remembers how helpless she felt, how exposed. And although she's pretty sure he's never, ever told anyone about what occurred in her home that day (and she's pretty sure he never will), and even though in the end, it was useful, she doesn't think she can handle that kind of exposure again. She doesn't know if she's willing to trust so wholeheartedly again…especially not when she knows he's been less than honest with her since his encounter with Red John.

Besides, she already knows why she's having these dreams; she just wants them to stop.

Suddenly, Lisbon finds herself at a crossroads. She can either conceal what she feels from Jane, or she can tell the truth. From the looks of it, it seems that Jane doesn't really know why she can't sleep. If he did, he would have mentioned it already, unable to resist the pull of triumph, of quiet success in reading her and getting it right.

Well, she supposes the other option is that he does know and is too afraid to admit it, even to himself. Because if it's true, if she's having these dreams because of what happened four months ago, then the implications are far too great for either of them to handle. Still, without even thinking, Lisbon pivots her body to face him, their joined hands shifting with her.

"I don't want you to hypnotize me. I know why I'm having these nightmares; I just want them to stop," she explains.

Jane looks a little surprised, either by her assertiveness or self awareness, Lisbon can't be sure. But she does feel a tiny spark of triumph at the uncertain expression on his face.

"Okay, so why are you having them then?"

His question makes her instantly irritated with him, annoyed that he's making her verbally sort this out, even if it might be exactly what she needs. So she frowns a little, fixing him with a pointed stare.

"You know why." She pushes forth stubbornly, still not certain she wants to bare her entire soul to him, especially when he's always less than forthcoming himself.

Jane seems to sense her trepidation, but apparently doesn't really care, because he simply clears his throat, shifts his weight to face her, and shakes his head, feigning ignorance.

"No, I don't."

That's when her eyebrow rises as she turns a little more toward him, silently pointing out the ridiculousness of his denial. For a moment, it feels almost normal again, that silent battle of wills, the flutter of irritation quickly blooming inside her at Jane's tenacity.

But then he exhales, face turning serious again, and that brief semblance of normalcy fades as Lisbon remembers why they stopped talking in the first place.

"You know, I have been in similar, equally dangerous situations before," Jane reminds her. "Don't you remember the slightly psychotic yet environmentally conscious Jasper?"

"I do," Lisbon nods, attempting to curb her frustration with him. Even though it's nearly impossible as she wonders if what she's going to say next might actually scare Jane away.

"But that was different," she asserts, glancing down at their entwined hands. It's only when Jane applies the tiniest pressure on her wrist with his thumb that she looks up, his blue eyes no longer playful or mischievous, but rather somber, as though he already knows what she's implying.

"How?"

Of course, he'll never admit what he knows, preferring to be the one doing the listening in this situation, and Lisbon can't say she's surprised. She's more surprised that she's not more irritated with him, like she would normally be if they were discussing something and he was forcing her to lay it all out instead of intrinsically understanding.

Still, this isn't a case they're talking about, and she's the one who found her way to his couch. So perhaps she can at least be honest and open about it, even if it has the potential to drive him away.

"Because, Jane. That was before the Sparrow case."

God, she can't even say it, can't say "before you came face to face with Red John and survived." Even sounding it out in her head as she gauges Jane's reaction reminds Lisbon just how terrified she has been that something like that could happen again. Except this time, she would be confronted by a bloody caricature, not Jane's shaking body strapped to a chair.

She can't say all of that to him, can't properly articulate her fear. But she keeps her gaze on him, hoping to communicate everything she can't quite say. When his face hardens in recognition, Lisbon feels something sink inside her, a weight pressing on her chest and she's already lamenting the loss of his hand, even before he actually removes it. Because she knows he will.

Any second now…

Except that a few long minutes pass by, and the only physical change that occurs is Jane shifting a little closer to her. It's actually shocking, given the swirl of emotion evident in his eye and the thin line of his lips as he stares down at the floor.

"Uh, well now it makes sense," he says eventually with a hint of bitterness in his tone. Lisbon thinks it probably has much to do with the fact that he's yet again reminded of how much Red John has invaded his world and by extension hers.

But something strange happens in that moment, seeing him so dejected and not even hiding it tilts her whole world back on its axis and she finds herself back in the role of the caregiver, the support. She knows where she is now. She squeezes his hand unconsciously almost, attracting his attention with her softened gaze.

"It's not just about him, you know," she says softly.

For a split second she wonders why it's so easy to address the serial killer by his media-given name when she's around anyone else but Jane.

She suspects it has a lot to do with how his entire demeanor changes when Red John is mentioned. The tiny but noticeable alterations to his usual persona remind her that by extension Jane is Red John's victim too, possibly his most vulnerable one.

And just like that, her heart spasms painfully in her chest and she forgets about the fact that she hasn't had a decent night's rest since she washed someone else's blood off her body. All Lisbon cares about now is the man sitting beside her, suddenly looking so weary and exhausted. She wants to gather him in her arms and share with him all her remaining strength.

"It's always about him, Lisbon," Jane counters quietly.

His defeated assertion only serves to fuel her inherently protective side, the one that seems to trump everything else she's feeling. She finds herself scooting impossibly closer to him, her left hand finding its way to his knee, as Jane leans his head back against the couch cushions. He shuts his eyes in a way that makes it seem as though he physically lacks the strength to open them again.

"It's not," Lisbon argues, willing him to look at her as she speaks. "It's not about what happened that day, it's about what's been going on ever since."

He lifts his head finally, her insinuation rousing him. And, as expected, his blue eyes darken a little, because they both already know what she's going to say next and that he's not going to like it.

Still, Lisbon remains undeterred. This is a role she has perfected over the years, regardless of how much it has cost her. She knows how to be the pusher, how to shove, force, and protect. She's done the same thing with everyone she's ever cared about, even when it didn't matter anymore. Whether Jane wants to accept it or not, he falls into that category.

"I wasn't lying when I told you I worry when I don't know where you are. On a good day, you'll buckle your seatbelt and look both ways when crossing the street, but lately…" her voice trails off for a moment, thoughts slightly derailed by all the worst case scenarios flashing through her mind at lightening speed.

Jane opens his mouth to say something, but Lisbon doesn't let him, willing her voice not to crack as she tries to shake images from her mind, goose bumps spreading on her skin nonetheless.

"You're just so careless all the time." The gentleness of her own voice surprises her and Lisbon feels a strange sense of embarrassment she hasn't felt around Jane in a really long time.

He's looking at her more intently than before, trying to read her, determine her true intentions, and Lisbon quickly realizes she doesn't even know what they are anymore. What started as a spontaneous attempt in confiding in a friend (if you could call him that) has now turned into something too stifling for her, too candid.

She wishes she could remain objective and clearheaded when it comes to Jane; it's really almost necessary for her sanity, but her mind seems extremely uncooperative lately and she almost doesn't believe the words falling from her mouth. "It's almost as if…"

Her voice tapers off mid thought, mind transported back to another basement nearly a year and a half ago when she'd tried to convince both of them that when it came down to it, he would choose life.

It's almost as though they're right back where they started, except she's not as certain as she was back then about what she's saying. She's definitely not as naïve. It's bad enough that she's confronted with all this so unexpectedly, but being the sole focus of Jane's attention at the moment makes the revelation all the more overwhelming. So Lisbon moves her hand from his thigh and attempts to detangle her other one from his grasp; however, surprisingly, Jane refuses to let her go.

Instead, he narrows his eyes at her, face soft but determined, as he answers her even though she never actually finished her thought.

"It's not like that, Lisbon," he assures her. "I hope you know that, and I'd really hate to be the reason why you're not sleeping well."

There are a million things she can say right now, not the least of which is that he's probably been a source of unrest for her ever since she took him on as a consultant. However, the look that accompanies his words, the soft gaze trained on her with a sincerity she seldom sees makes everything she wants to say seem almost irrelevant.

She's not even sure what he's referring to, exhaustion numbing her awareness. But of course, it must be Red John-his entire reason for existing these last seven years, despite how many times she's attempted to change his mind.

Still, Lisbon doesn't say anything she's thinking, doesn't even want to communicate it to him with her gaze. It all feels like too much all of a sudden, like she couldn't possibly tell any more truths tonight if she wants to keep it remotely together. So she nods in understanding, brushing her bangs from her face as she looks at him again.

"I know you would," she assures him. "It's not your fault. I shouldn't have even brought this up."

This time, she succeeds in pulling away from him, but when she tries to stand up, Jane grabs her by the elbow, rising with her and definitely not letting her go far.

"Don't say that." He nearly pleads, standing close enough to her that she can see the flecks of green in his iris, expression marred by something that looks suspiciously like desperation. "I…"

For a second, she sees the uncertainty in his entire demeanor, in the way he hesitates, the way he glances down at his shoes, the way his grip on her loosens. Seeing Jane so anxious, so unlike his usual calm self makes her pay particular attention to his next words, whatever they may be.

"I want you to be able to tell me things," he explains. "I know that I haven't exactly been-…"

But she cuts him off, a resolute palm placed on his vested chest, surprising them both. Despite how long she's waited for him to be honest with her, Lisbon realizes that she's not sure how much honesty either of them can handle tonight.

She doesn't want him to come clean under duress or under the pretense of offering her comfort. She is also terrified he'll regret it later and end up pushing her away even more. But most of all, she stops him, because she doesn't know what to do with the flutter of anticipation she feels at the prospect of Jane confiding in her.

Acknowledging that will force her to confront the fact that one doesn't feel such an intense sense of relief and elation at the thought of a colleague trusting you with their innermost fears.

"You don't have to say anything," she whispers instead. "Just do me a favor."

He's looking so keenly at her, so many latent emotions simmering just below the surface that Lisbon pauses, not realizing she's biting her lip until Jane's gaze gravitates to her mouth. A flicker of something indefinable in his expression before he meets her eye again.

"Spend tonight somewhere other than the CBI," Lisbon asks quietly. "I don't care where, your apartment, my couch, even your car, just not here."

It's surprising how easily the question comes to her. There's a split second before Jane breaks into a sort of whimsical smile where she pinpoints a flicker of gratitude in his eye. It fades quickly but the moment stays with her for hours after, making her think she might have accomplished something.

"Agent Lisbon, I do hope this isn't some wicked plan to lure me into your bedroom," he says mischievously.

"You wish," she retorts back almost automatically, a hint of comfort at the familiarity their banter brings.

"In that case," Jane leans in a little closer, as if ready to conspire with her. "Let's walk each other out."

And although the smile on his face is as devilish as ever, his gaze is just a little vulnerable, just a little softened. The moment's not lost on either of them: he's actually granting her request.

Lisbon smiles back without even realizing. "Okay let me just get my things."

xxx

The air outside is cool and crisp, the nighttime sky opaque. But despite the fresh oxygen in her lungs, Lisbon still feels like eventually, some day soon, the tight rope they're walking is going to snap, forcing them to lay everything out in the open. And when that day comes, they won't be able to hide behind unfinished thoughts and cut off sentences.

Jane falls into step besides her as they cross the empty parking lot to their cars, and she can practically feel him thinking. He's obviously as weighed down by their conversation as she is.

When they reach her car, the anxiety that she managed to force down earlier threatens to come back. Then, out of nowhere, she feels the warm weight of Jane's hand on her shoulder, and when she turns around, her anxiety turns into something else, a flutter of nerves for an entirely different reason.

He's standing close enough that she can feel the heat from his body, a startling contrast to the cold air around them. While she's used to him invading her personal space, even misses it sometimes when he's being particularly distant for whatever reason, something about this particular moment is different, more meaningful somehow.

"For what it's worth," Jane says quietly, his gaze focused somewhere around her right shoulder. "I want you to know that at some point in that basement, I... I decided that I wasn't ready to die yet…and it had nothing to do with Red John."

He leans over then, running a solitary finger down her cheek. It's a simple touch, but it sparks something foreign inside her, catching her off guard but calming her at the same time. Perhaps it's his eyes; maybe she just isn't prepared for the candid way he looks at her (maybe she never will be). Lisbon can't be sure because Jane pulls away suddenly, already next to his car a few empty spots ahead of her before she realizes he's walked away.

"Good night, Lisbon," he calls to her before opening the door of his ancient Citroën and slipping into the driver's seat.

She knows he could easily be humoring her, just driving round the block before returning back to that dreary attic. She could follow him, tail him for a bit, just to give herself some peace of mind, make sure he's going back to his apartment or somewhere else. But she won't, because she chooses to have faith that this time, Jane will actually listen to her, take her thoughts into consideration. Even if it's just for one night.

She isn't sure what leaves her feeling so optimistic. Perhaps it's the relief associated with finally opening up to someone, even if it is Jane (especially if it is Jane). But, for once, Lisbon doesn't question it. She lets her mind have a break, choosing instead to bask in the warmth lingering on her cheek as she gets into her car and drives away.

It's the first time in two weeks that she sleeps through the night.

The next morning, as she leaves for work feeling more rested than she has in days, she doesn't notice either the baby blue Citroën parked discreetly at the end of her block, or the sleeping Patrick Jane tucked away in the backseat.

xxx