False Hope

DISCLAIMER: The Mentalist does not belong to me. It is the creation of Bruno Heller. I'm writing this fiction to express my love for the series and maybe vent a little.

"So, Pizza?"

Teresa Lisbon took off in disgust. Walking into her office, the door slammed
shut behind her, making Jane wince.

Looking around at the bullpen, his eyes caught Grace who seemed determined to avoid him. It was hard to read whether she was more hurt or angry. Eyes wandering further, Jane found Rigsby glaring at him. Well, he was clearly pissed, though there was something else in his eyes;
disillusionment? As if he couldn't believe Jane could have done such a thing; could have willingly endangered Grace's life, no matter how low he thought the odds were. Jane suddenly felt very uncomfortable. And yet he chanced a look at Cho. Hmm he was the most challenging to read. It didn't help that he was looking at his paperwork, with no desire to glance up though it was obvious he could sense Jane studying him.

I guess that says it all.

Jane had upset his team many times. Usually because he had misled them, kept them in the dark from his schemes, gotten Lisbon in trouble. He usually got them to come around easily enough; mostly by just a remark on how chilly the room was when they were pissed.

But this was the first time he actually felt cold, but not because they were angry.

They were disappointed.

Hands in his pockets, feeling unhappily awkward, he was about to retreat to the quiet of his attic when Lisbon opened her door.

"Jane, get in here!"

Jane walked into her office, closing the door behind him without being told. He knew he was about to be reamed and had no desire for anyone to hear it; especially since he kind of deserved it.

Lisbon was sitting down at her desk. Jane guessed it was either because she had calmed down, or because she was so angry her legs were shaking and couldn't stand up.

He hoped it was the latter.

"Please sit down Jane, this is going to take a while," she ordered.

"I'd rather stand, thanks," his refusal an automatic defense mechanism, telling her he wasn't about to take a beating lying down. If she understood, she didn't let it show.

"Look, Jane. I know the last few months have been tough on you. I've tried to be supportive, and I've tried giving you space. And I've tried being there for you, as a friend," she started wearily, "But what you did today was beyond out of line, and you don't seem the slightest sorry for it. Now, I know that in your mind you made a calculated risk. But here's the thing: that wasn't your risk to take. You had no right. It was wrong in every way it could have been wrong. Grace trusted you, and you," here Lisbon's tone hitched a bit as her irritation overflowed and words failed her. Shaking her head, she gathered herself then continued in her original calm pitch.

"On a professional level, you endangered a colleague, and on a personal level, you risked getting a friend hurt. Now I don't know if you had realized that before you let Grace get on that horse. If you didn't, well, it was still a reckless thing to do. And if you did and still let her get on, then it was careless."

"It could have been both," Jane quipped, unable to resist, the corner of his mouth curling upwards slightly.

Lisbon was not amused. Here, Jane lost whatever fa├žade at mirth he had.

"What do you want from me Lisbon?" he demanded, his voice hard.

Oh, he knew exactly what she wanted, but he wasn't about to give it to her. Annoyingly, she seemed to be reading him just fine lately.

Let's see just how good she's gotten.

"I'm trying to figure out if you've become so shut off that you've subconsciously regressed into not caring about other people."

"Wow, that's deep," he said, mocking her.

"Or is that you're so preoccupied, you honestly just don't realize the risks you're taking," she continued, undeterred.

"What does it matter?" He retorted carelessly; deliberately obtuse.

Lisbon felt a headache coming on. This is why she hardly bothered talking to Jane about the consequences of his actions. It was like being in a deadly obstacle course with no exit in sight. He had the ability to run the conversation around in circles, always seeming to come out one top.

Another was the fact that what she said never seemed to make a difference to Jane; it was ultimately a battle lost before it began. So she usually only confronted him for principles sake; and only when he did something major. Most things she just let go.

But she couldn't let this go; not this.

"It matters," she said simply, "I can't have you endangering the team."

"I thought it was your job to be in danger," he countered, throwing back her words from a few weeks ago back at her. Lisbon gritted her teeth, refusing to show her irritation.

"From external aggressions Jane, not from within our own team," she stated in monotone.

"Well, then. You should get rid of me shouldn't you? My mere presence is dangerous. God knows that's been established."

Lisbon suddenly felt like hitting him. Trust Jane to twist her intervention as an excuse to stay away from them; to further service his downward spiral.

"No, Jane. Not your presence, just your actions," she stated forcefully, "there is a difference."

"I don't see one," he stated, again being intentionally thick.

Lisbon felt her last thread of patience snap.

"Is this just another way for you to pull away from us? I mean you were never good at predicting the fallout of your schemes but at least you've never put anyone in actual danger before," she said heatedly. "This isn't about bending the rules Jane. She could have been seriously hurt, might've broken her neck. Don't you have enough guilt to live with?"

Teresa knew she had mis-stepped when, at her question, Jane's eyes turned cold, bitter, and oddly triumphant.

"I guess a little more won't make a difference," he retorted, maliciously.

Lisbon realized this was his tactic from the beginning: to rile her up into throwing herself off guard, into saying something particularly nasty that he'd use against her. She knew his games, but still allowed herself to be caught.

She felt like crying in helplessness, was actually afraid she might do so in front of him, when a staggering realization hit her like lightening. She knew Jane, knew his methods, and yet hadn't been able to foresee him using them against her. And it was because she had let her guard down around him, had been doing so for a while now.

It showed how much progress they've made in their relationship; that she had trusted him enough to talk freely, passionately, forgetting his mean streak and sharp wit.

Because it had been so long since he used it against her.

But in the scope of a single argument, they've reverted back to the beginning. As if any progress they've made in their relationship never happened.

That was what he wanted. To forget they were friends, to forget they were family, and drown himself in his revenge. Just like he had been when she first met him, and when he told her he was going to cut up Red John.

Or had he ever changed?

Maybe he had been deceiving her this whole time, and his run in with Red John just brought that into light.

No. That wasn't true. He had always been up front about his intentions, just like she always was about hers. But she couldn't reconcile it with the Jane that had danced with her, offered her pudding, and teased her about a millionaire's attentions-traitorous memories-but ones she'd hold on to willingly if it meant there was hope for him yet.

Looking at him now, eyes particularly vindictive, waiting for her to say something else he could hang her with, she knew the only hope she had for undoing the damage, for regaining the status quo was to remain calm.

She wouldn't let this hurt them, not after years of working with him, finally getting to know him and everything they went through together.

She forced herself to take a deep breath. It helped.

Lisbon remembered that Jane never liked being cornered, even metaphorically; That his games, mean streak, and even glibness was just a mask to hide his real emotions. At least, that's what she hoped because the alternative was too sordid for her to explore. No, not hope, she thought furiously. She knew it, she knew him.

"Jane, every single one of us here is willing to put his life on the line for you," she found herself saying earnestly, the words started flowing effortlessly from her mouth. Her sincerity caught Jane off guard; his eyes finally losing some their steeliness.

"Every single one of us," she repeated, "Because you're family. We're a family. And if we can't trust our family to look out for us, to not willingly endanger us, who can we trust?" She asked rhetorically, making sure her tone was benign and didn't have even a hint of accusation in it.

Jane couldn't argue with the truth of what she said; she and the others have risked their lives for him repeatedly. And her mentioning of trust took him back to their trust fall, to a time when he desperately wanted her trust. He was surprised to realize that, perhaps foolishly, selfishly, he still wanted it; hers and the team's.

The fight left Jane with an abruptness that made him lightheaded. He took up Lisbon's earlier offer and sat down on her couch.

Lisbon got up from her desk and joined him. She didn't seem to mind the fact that Jane seemed content to ignore her presence. It might have put her off if she didn't know him any better. But she did.

"Grace my not have been physically injured, but she was hurt. All of us in fact," she said, continuing in the same neutral yet emphatic tone, "because we care about you, and what happened," what you did, "makes it seem as if you don't care as much" at all.

Jane looked away, hands clasped in his lap. He knew what he did was wrong. Even if the implications hadn't been clear to him from the start, seeing his team member's reactions made him realize how thoughtlessness he had been. And he was sorry. But he was sorry for so many things. He was sick of being sorry.

"For what it's worth, I know that hadn't been your intention," she said, putting a hand on his arm nearest to her. "You can pretend all you want," she continued, her voice taking a decidedly affectionate quality, "but I know you love us as much as we love you. You just have to let the others see it sometimes."

Jane couldn't resist anymore; he looked at her, and was almost overcome by the warmth he saw in her eyes. It was almost more than he could bear and he found his eyes drifting down, settling and lingering on her cross.

If he was ever honest with himself, he'd admit that he wasn't as much of an agnostic as he pretended to be. It wasn't so much that he didn't believe in God, he didn't want to. Because then, he'd have to wonder if his family's murder was caused by something beyond angering a serial killer; if it was an act of divine retribution, a punishment for all the people he wronged and used.

Like Lisbon said, he had enough guilt to live with. He didn't need that thought hanging over him.

On another level, the idea was terrifying because then he'd have to more than just Red John to fear. And Patrick Jane had never liked feeling out of control.

So yeah, not believing was certainly a more attractive option.

On the other hand, Teresa Lisbon presented the best case against atheism. Oh, she never spoke of her beliefs. Rather it was her mere presence, like his wife's before, which spoke of the existence of something so good, so clean, it could only be described as holy.

Saint Teresa. Reporters who knew nothing about her undoubtedly chose the name while looking for a sensational headline for the papers.

They had no idea, would never know, how right they had been.

"Jane?"

Lisbon called his name gently, wondering what got him so quiet.

Rousing himself from his thoughts, Jane looked at her. It had been a long time since he allowed himself to really see her, to revel in her. Her brightness was practically blinding. She was all pure white skin and green eyes. Sometimes they were opaque, but they were clear now. In them, he saw empathy without pity, understanding without condensation.

Unnerved, he glanced away,

He could have loved her. Hell, he did love her. But, in another life, he could have loved her enough to make her overcome her trust issues, to teach her that life's pleasures were just as real as its pains. He would have made her know how it felt to let someone else take care of her for a change. He would have been happy to live just to be that someone.

But his heart belonged to another woman. Angela might be physically dead, but in his mind she was as alive as ever.

True, she was usually chastising him, trying to make him give up his quest, to give into his desire to make Lisbon happy.

But that wasn't her choice.

Lisbon deserved so much. And he couldn't give her a fraction. Even now, he wanted to hug her in gratitude, to breathe her in, to let her feel his sincerity through his heartbeat. A few months ago, he might have done it.

But not now. Not after seeing Red John and seeing what he did to Kristina. Not after someone gave him a gun that he hadn't turned in, nor bothered to register. He hadn't even told Lisbon about it. Not when he knew what he would do with it.

He was too afraid of Red John, of himself, and of her. He knew he should keep away, yet didn't trust himself to. And she was fighting him kicking and screaming; had been for a while. The way their argument now ended up was just more proof that she wouldn't allow it to happen.

Swallowing, he looked into her eyes, trying to convey his friendship, and all the emotions he felt for her but couldn't categorize. He wanted her to see his gratitude for everything she did for him, and everything she will do. And his remorse for all the pain he had caused, and the pain he would cause.

He knew he would inevitably make Lisbon's trust issues worse. His run in with Red John just further established how important it was to kill the murderer. And yet her faith in him seemed just as unwavering, when she had all the reasons in the world to give up on him. She knew it too, but wouldn't admit to it.

She was content to believe there was hope for him; and he wouldn't deny her that hope.

At least for now.

It was false hope, but hope nonetheless.

"You're welcome," she said, gently breaking the spell.

The corner of his mouth turned up slightly as he remembered one of the reason's he had riled her up was to see how well she could read him. She had recently claimed she could tell when he was lying now. Apparently, she could also tell when he was being sincere.

Somehow, the thought didn't upset him as much as it had before.

At least for now.

Author's Note:

For the love of God, would the Mentalist writers please slow the season down! You're not gonna have much of an audience if you put them in cardiac arrest every episode, am I right or what? I don't think I'll make it to the end of the season.