A/N: Well, here it is at last: the conclusion. I've had a lot of fun writing this, and you great readers and reviewers have given me confidence when I was feeling that I hadn't quite found these characters' voices. Now, my mind is just bursting with ideas, and I hope to share them with you soon. Please enjoy this last chapter—it's a little silly, a little fluffy, but ultimately, a labor of love from me to you.
Chapter 10: Conclusion
Sally and Oscar had moved back over into the clubhouse with Arlin, since the caretaker's cabin was now part of a crime scene. Sally welcomed Lisbon and Jane with literally open arms. They hugged her back warmly. Once they'd updated her on the Smith situation, Lisbon inquired after Bryan and Sophia.
"Sophia called me earlier," Sally told them softly, as they all sat on the leather couches in the great room. "I don't know if she'll ever forgive me. She thinks I've been cheating on her father."
"I'm sorry," said Lisbon simply.
"I've called a lawyer to start divorce proceedings. I can't live this way anymore." She took the hand of Oscar, who had been sitting loyally beside her. She caught Jane's eye, and he nodded at her in encouragement.
"I hope you will find some peace now," Jane said. He wished he could share the news about himself and Lisbon, but with her right next to him, he'd have to continue to keep mum on the happiest thing that had happened to him since the birth of his daughter.
"You too, Patrick. Sometimes we wear wedding rings and they somehow lose their true meaning along the way. Someone doesn't keep their vows, or stops loving you…or dies. It's not supposed to be that way."
"No," said Jane, understanding her meaning completely. "It isn't."
"Thank you again for everything, Sally," Lisbon said, rising to leave. "You made us feel right at home. If you ever need anything, or are in Sacramento, look us up at CBI Headquarters."
Sally and Lisbon rose and exchanged hugs. Lisbon and Jane had felt like part of this family for two days, and they were both surprised at how much they were truly going to miss them.
"Tell her how you feel," Sally whispered in Jane's ear as he held the older lady gently in his arms. "Time is precious, Patrick."
He kissed her cheek fondly, shook the hands of Oscar and Arlin, and left the West Wind behind with Lisbon to drive down to the Hidden Cove. They were silent during the short drive, knowing that this truly was the end of their stay on Grizzly Island. It had been a life-altering experience for both of them, and now they began to wonder how much their lives would be altered off the island. They each felt a little shy, a little uncertain, so they were secretly glad to have Rigsby as a buffer on the drive home.
Rigsby was sitting in the Fish and Game's boat, sunning himself and waiting for his colleagues to arrive. When he heard the approaching SUV, he stood up in the boat with a wide grin.
"Avast, ye landlubbers!" he called, sounding like Johnny Depp without the drunken slur.
Jane grinned, amused at how right he had been earlier. "Aye, me hearty! Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen, or we'll hang ye from the yardarm!" he called back, adopting his own piratical drawl.
"He said to get your ass up here. Let's go." This from Lisbon, who was trying not to grin at the humorous exchange.
While Rigsby was jumping out of the boat and taking the dock ramp in two long strides, Jane turned to Lisbon and caught her eye. "How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?" he growled at her under his breath, his eyes sparkling.
She stifled a surprised snort of laughter at his naughtiness, and she was relieved that their brief foray into melancholia had dissipated with Jane's unique ability to ease the tension. With a wave to the forensics team, Lisbon drove the SUV past the Hidden Cove, as Jane entertained Rigsby with the finer points of the pirate pick-up line.
Upon hearing that Crystal Hyatt had been picked up by the local police, Cho had headed back to Sacramento, so by the time the rest of the team had assembled at Headquarters, he was already preparing to question her.
Jane watched another stellar performance by their chief interrogator, as the woman, in her spiky jet-black hairdo and crystal pendant necklace broke down with very little pressure. She admitted to being Wiccan, but had been horrified by the blood play and torture David had put her through in the total bastardization of their peaceful religion. He didn't point out the irony that she'd shot him in the head with a 12-guage. This, along with Jerry Smith's testimony, would make it easy for the AG to charge Crystal with murder one.
Van Pelt was still visiting her family out of town, so she wouldn't be back until Monday, but Lisbon was grateful that Cho and Rigsby had agreed to work on a Saturday without any complaining. She felt a little out of sorts around them, nervous that their keen detective skills would see that she had to exercise extreme restraint not to reach for Jane's hand or undress him with her eyes. Indeed, she had to forcefully suppress the memories of their time on the island every time she looked at him. Jane, on the other hand, was infuriatingly cool as a cucumber. He was acting so damn normal she wanted to punch him in the nose.
Late that afternoon, while Cho and Rigsby worked on their case reports at their desks in the bullpen, Jane wandered casually into Lisbon's office. It certainly wasn't an unusual thing for him to do, but her emotional state made his presence there seem unaccountably illicit. Sensing her discomfort, he pointedly left the door open and made himself at home on her couch.
"How are you holding up?" Jane asked, enjoying the way she flushed a little at his presence. He watched as she swallowed hard before answering.
"This really sucks," she said simply, eyes darting guiltily to the glass windows that made up her office. "How the hell did Rigsby and Van Pelt hide it from everyone?"
Jane chuckled. "They didn't. Everyone in the entire CBI knew, except maybe their top agent in the Serious Crimes Unit. Even Hightower figured it out and she'd only been here less than a week. Although…I suspect you did actually know, but were just suppressing it because you're such a romantic at heart."
"I am not."
Jane's answer was a wide grin, and Lisbon couldn't help her reluctant smile of agreement. "I'm not sure I can go on with this. It's too hard."
"Well, here's what you've been doing wrong. First, don't picture me naked every time you look at me."
"I do not—"
He raised an eyebrow at that, but otherwise ignored the interruption. "Second, don't look everywhere but at me. That is a textbook indicator of a guilty conscience."
"If you start belting out People Will Say We're in Love, you'll have a stapler between your eyes."
He smiled indulgently. "You must have taken classes on human behavior at the Academy. All of this is simply a matter of self-control. We're already used to keeping our true natures from the rest of the world, you and I," he said, suddenly serious. "We can do this. It's worth it…isn't it?"
His stomach clenched as she sat in her chair, seeming to consider what he said. Had she been the one to ask him, his answer would have been an immediate hell yes! But as the seconds ticked by, he began to feel a disappointment so keen he felt like crying. Had he fallen in love after all these years of loneliness and self-loathing only to have his heart stomped on by a diminutive woman half his size? Her eyes held his, and for once, he couldn't read her at all. Her face was a complete blank. He wanted to look away, but something kept him riveted, like a motorist staring at a roadside accident.
"Yes," she whispered at last, "yes, it is."
Jane's heart jumpstarted like he'd been pumped with electricity. His grin came slowly, starting with his mouth before working its way up to light up his eyes. He nodded in reluctant admiration.
"Very good, Lisbon. You had me going there a minute. See, you can keep a secret—even from me, apparently."
She grinned. "You should have seen your face. You had no idea what I was thinking."
He felt like throttling her for toying with his emotions that way. But mostly, he felt like kissing her senseless. It took everything in him not to rise and go around her desk and do just that, but the walls were made of glass and the door to her office was wide open. It was a good thing Cho arrived when he did, a manila folder in hand.
"Boss, I need you to sign off on this report. Then, if there's nothing else…"
"Of course. You and Rigsby can go on home. Thanks for your hard work and overtime."
While Lisbon was scanning the report, Jane smiled at his other coworker. "Hot date?" he asked.
Of course, this was a running joke between them. Cho knew damn well that Jane didn't date, but this time, Jane's involuntary hesitation had the younger agent's gaze sharpening. Out of the corner of Jane's eye, he saw Lisbon freeze, and he'd bet a million dollars she was no longer reading Cho's case report. Recovering quickly, Jane gave his usual tongue-in-cheek answer:
"Of course. It's Saturday night, isn't it?"
Cho nodded, lips quirking in appreciation of the humorous exchange. "Well, don't wear the poor girl out." Jane thought Lisbon was going to break her pen in two.
"You either, Kimball." And he gave his sunniest smile.
Lisbon hurriedly signed the report and held it out to Cho, trying hard not to show how anxious she was for him to leave. "Enjoy the rest of your weekend," she said pleasantly enough.
"Thanks. You too, Boss. Jane." He nodded at them and went on his way.
"What the hell was that?" Lisbon asked between gritted teeth.
Jane laughed, happy to relieve his own tension. "It's called male bonding. It's our little bit we do every weekend."
"Well, I think it's mean, given your…situation." Her eyes darted to his wedding band, and he was a little surprised at her genuine anger, her outrage, for him. Surprised, and warmed to his toes.
"Lisbon, I figured you'd lived and worked with enough men in your time to know that we tend to laugh at the stuff that hurts the most. Besides, it's just Cho's way of checking in with me. If I'm still laughing, he knows I'm okay."
"I guess that sounds like man logic. But I still think it's a little insensitive."
Jane rolled his eyes. "Don't get me started on woman logic."
They regarded each other with half-smiles.
"So," Jane said after a moment of companionable silence. "How about you?"
"How about me what?"
She was sitting back in her chair, elbows on the arm rests, index fingers pyramided in front of her.
"I don't know," she responded coyly, "no one's asked me yet."
"Hmmm. Really? I'm surprised. Hot chick like you. Alone on a Saturday night."
"Yeah. It boggles the mind, just like it does every Saturday."
Abruptly, he rose from the couch and headed for the door. "Well, good-night, Lisbon. See ya later." And then he was gone. She stood up and watched his blonde head move above the potted plants on the way down the hall to the elevator.
Huh? See ya later? We just spent two glorious days on an island together and he says 'see ya later'?
If there weren't still a few people in the office, she'd chase after him and give him a piece of her mind. Instead, she plopped back in her chair in annoyance. Needless to say, she couldn't focus on her work anymore, so, a half-hour later, when she saw that Cho and Rigsby had gone, she gathered her purse and keys, trying to conjure in her mind how good it would feel to take a long, hot bath and put on her own football jersey and sleep pants.
But as she drove home to her apartment, she found herself smiling in remembrance of the happy little moments she'd had with Jane at the West Wind. The silly granny gown. The sexy game of pool. The sexier time in the shower. And then, this morning in his bed, when she'd almost given herself to him as his strong arms enclosed her and the scent of his warm body nearly made her throw caution to the wind and…
She was back to annoyed again as she pulled into the driveway of the apartment complex, wondering how he could possibly leave her so…unsatisfied.
Halfway to her door, she paused, noticing a small, red gift bag hanging over her doorknob. She approached it with a cop's caution, reaching out gingerly to pick it up by the string handle. Unlocking her door with her other hand, she walked in, flipping on the light to get a better look at what was inside. She dumped the contents on the kitchen counter. A note fell out, along with a small wooden box and a DVD of A Christmas Story. She laughed out loud, because, of course, it could only be from one person. She picked up the folded note card and read:
I would have asked you out tonight, but I knew you must be tired, and likely wanting to put on some different clothes after three days. Please keep these items on hand for what I'm sure will be a very hot date indeed.
She smiled because he knew her so well. Sure, she would have liked to have spent the night with him tonight, but being the planner that she was, she would actually have wanted to be well rested and emotionally prepared when she welcomed him into her bed. And she hadn't had a chance to put on her best sheets, or buy a sexy little teddy, or stock the fridge for a cozy breakfast the morning after. And she would have needed candles-lots and lots of candles-to set the mood.
Her eye was suddenly drawn to the little box that had lain almost forgotten on the counter. It was made like a miniature shipping crate, with the word Tea stamped onto the top. Curiously, she opened the hinged lid and promptly flushed a vivid scarlet, for it wasn't Jane's favorite tea inside, as she'd naturally expected, but several neat, individually wrapped…condoms. There was quite an assortment too—flavored, ribbed, lubed, colored, studded(?) and a few other features that she didn't quite recognize. Her embarrassment quickly gave way to helpless laughter, and she sat in a chair, wiping at eyes filled with mirth.
She reached into her pocket for her phone and speed-dialed Jane's number.
"Hello, Lisbon. Did you make it home okay?"
"Yes. And I was just looking forward to relaxing with a nice cup of tea…but alas, I have no one to share it with."
He chuckled softly, and the sensuality in his voice made her shiver and melt at the same time. "Well, relax tonight, Lisbon, for I plan to enjoy plenty of tea with you in the very near future."
She laughed, and Jane felt it go through his ear, then up and down his spine.
"You realize that tea will always be a euphemism for me now," she told him. "Gives a whole new meaning to tea for two."
"And all the tea in China."
"Would you like a spot of tea, love?"
"Or some tea and sympathy?"
They were both laughing by then, and there grew a warm and happy silence between them.
"How tired are you really?"
She hesitated, not wanting to disappoint him, but suddenly enjoying the teasing, the build-up, the sweet torment of unfulfilled desire. She found that she wanted that feeling to last awhile.
"I'm pretty tired, Jane."
"Okay," he sighed, disappointed, but, like Lisbon, savoring the anticipation. "Because I could be there in twenty minutes—"
"Not tonight," she laughed, delighting in his eagerness. "Soon, though. Very soon."
"Oh well. Guess I'll be having tea by myself again."
She smiled into the phone. "'Night, Jane."
A/N: I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude at my reception into this fandom! Thank you all so very much! So, due to your wonderful encouragement, I shall endeavor to embark upon a sequel. First, however, I would like to write an episode tag for "Jolly Red Elf," for I strongly feel we should have seen a lot more of drunk Jane and sober Lisbon. A great opportunity was lost, and I shall try my best to rectify that. My next full-length story, as yet untitled, will continue to develop Jisbon's new relationship, and I think that it might be interesting if Walter Mashburn came home a little early from his trip, don't you? Until then, thanks a million times for all your support and encouragement. See you soon!