Disclaimer: Still don't own. Still not making a profit. Still wishing I did, though.
A/N: This is a Christmas/belated birthday present for Hardly Loquacious. She wanted something funny and fluffy, and well... this is about as fluffy as I can get. I also wanted a little different take on the whole mistletoe thing, so I mixed in a little of Jane's "over the top" tendencies and this was the result. I hope you enjoy it, Andree.
Special thanks to SSJL and Cathartes for the wonderful betaing, fangirling and suggestions. They're the ones who made this fic WIN!
"Here, hold the ladder for me."
"Why? You should be able to reach it with out a ladder. You're freaking Frankenstein."
"Oh, thanks a lot. Just… hold it for a second while I tie the string off."
"Lisbon's not gonna like this. Just sayin'."
At that, Lisbon lifted her eyes from her computer screen, cocking her head toward the half-closed door. What wouldn't she like?
She paused in her typing to hear the familiar voice of her aforementioned towering agent, Rigsby.
"There. Done. Pretty good place, if you ask me."
Turning, Lisbon spied two of her three junior agents moving the ladder out of the doorway of the bullpen to admire their work.
"This is stupid," Cho remarked, heading back to his desk.
"Why?" Rigsby put the ladder back against the wall, and reached up a hand to bob the small sprig of green he'd attached to the door frame. "It's a tradition."
"It's a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen." Cho muttered.
Rigsby got that goofy, lovesick puppy grin on his face. The kind usually reserved for being thrown at Van Pelt's retreating back. "Not if you managed to snag the right person under it."
"You're a sad case," said Cho.
Craning her neck to see over the bottom of her windows, Lisbon couldn't help the small smile curling the side of her mouth. It wasn't as if it were unexpected. Every year when Christmas approached, some romantic dork would find a place to hang mistletoe, and then the whole office was treated to the ridiculousness of grown adults acting like high school teenagers.
She might have known that this year, Rigsby would be playing the role of romantic dork. Although since he and Van Pelt had gone their separate ways, she was a little surprised. As long as she didn't have to witness Agent Way Too Good to be True catch her red-haired agent under that thing. Lisbon didn't want to endure the nausea of all the forlorn awkwardness to follow.
Still, the holidays always brought a little levity into the CBI, usually at a time when they needed it most. For some reason, maybe the nature of the season and all the depressing feelings it could bring with it, the holidays usually saw a spike in violence. So much for good will toward men, and all that.
Lisbon had seen many people get stuck under that insipid little fluff of green, and sometimes, it wasn't a pretty sight. The year it was hung over the break room refrigerator, there had nearly been a brawl: Manny the janitor trying to smooch one of the female agents from Organized Crime didn't go over well. And then there was that intern who kissed the liaison to the Deputy AG's office, and the ensuing kerfuffle concerning sexual orientation. Obviously, the poor intern got his signals crossed.
The real show had been when various female workers tried to catch a certain consultant under the mistletoe at the right time. Lisbon looked down at her desk and smirked at the memory.
It had been an amazing feat of skill. Patrick Jane wielded his charm like an Arthurian knight that season, not wanting hurt any fair maiden's feelings in the process. He managed to avoid quite a few attempts, but even that got old.
When Lisbon simply asked him why he didn't just give up and let one of them have a peck on the cheek, Jane grinned that self-satisfied grin and waggled a finger at her.
"Now, now, Lisbon," he said, "If I kissed one, I'd have to kiss them all. And frankly, that would get tiring. My lips might get too chapped. And I wouldn't get anything done around here."
The tired old cogs of the CBI machine just couldn't chug along without Patrick Jane greasing the wheels, it seemed. Keeping that old leather couch weighed down was hard work.
Lisbon just raised her eyebrows in bemusement. "Wow. With that kind of attitude, I imagine some of those ladies might want to trade in their kisses for slaps instead."
Lisbon was brought out of her memory of Christmas past by the voice of the very consultant in question. Lounging on his much-abused couch, she saw Jane turn his head back to observe the decorating work of Rigsby and Cho.
"Very nice, Rigsby. Did you know that the tradition of mistletoe goes back to the ancient Druids? They believed it had magical powers of healing and aphrodisiac qualities." Jane was in his teaching mode.
Rigsby grinned. "Aphrodisiac, eh? That must explain all the kissing."
Jane sat up, eyes twinkling. "Not always. It was also a sexual symbol. During a certain time of year, the Druid priest would go to the sacred oak tree and cut off the clusters of mistletoe as a symbol of emasculating the old king."
Lisbon heading out of her office, a new case file in hand and a smile as she saw Rigsby blanch somewhat.
"Ouch," he mumbled. "At least it was just symbolic."
Cho added, "Cutting your 'clusters' off your 'tree'. Yeah, I'd say that's a little too on the nose."
Lisbon was at the door to the bull pen, when Jane swung his gaze toward her. The mischievous glint in his eye increased.
"Oh yes. And it was also a symbol of fertility," he said, just as Lisbon came to stand under the sprig of greenery.
Glancing up, she remembered where she was and scooted none-too-subtly out from under it. A chorus of snickers resonated around the room.
"Funny. Okay, saddle up. We've got a new case, just outside Sacramento." She watched her team start gathering their things.
Jane sidled up to her, still smiling. "Life, fertility and an aphrodisiac. That little bit of spiky green fluff has a varied array of uses."
He was standing close… a lot closer than necessary, beaming at her. For a second, Lisbon just cocked her head, wondering. Then, discreetly taking a step back, she rolled her eyes and said, "Well since one of its uses isn't solving cases, I don't see what place it has in the office every year."
"Another one of its uses is to ward off evil spirits," Jane offered.
"Oh good. Can we hang some over your couch?"
"Bah, humbug." Lisbon chuckled as they headed out.
The next couple of days saw several unfortunate victims of the ubiquitous little green ball over the bullpen door. Rigsby even managed to stall Van Pelt long enough that she was forced to give him a quick peck on the cheek.
Clearly, both parties would have liked something more, but Hightower happened to be on the landing above the bullpen at the time, and the sound of her clearing her throat was an obvious signal: get back to work.
Even the enigmatic Cho got caught once by a mousy secretary from the Cold Case department. The whole office seemed to stop and stare, virtually giving Cho no choice but to heave a long suffering sigh, and let the woman give him a quick peck. He even cracked a smile at the answering applauds.
Of course Jane, the master tactician, was never caught unawares – much to the consternation of several interns. When Lisbon watched him deftly get out of a kiss by telling the girl he thought he was coming down with something, she just shook her head. Jane gave her his version of an "innocent" look, which, of course, looked about as innocent as a tabby cat with a mouth full of feathers; what bird?
For her part, Lisbon was getting very good at avoidance. Any time she saw a man standing even near the door frame, she found a different route. Jane started noticing.
"It's no fun if you don't even give some poor guy a chance, Lisbon," Jane crooned one afternoon, after Lisbon edged her way around the sides of the door frame.
"You're one to talk."
"I wasn't feeling good. Honest. I didn't want to spread something around the office," Jane protested over his Sudoku puzzle.
"How magnanimous of you." She missed the way Jane's eyes stayed fixed on her as she bent to tell Van Pelt something about the evidence in the current case.
When she stood up, she was very disconcerted to see that Jane was right beside her, hands clasped behind his back. Off balance, Lisbon stumbled backward a step and frowned.
"I'm going to put a bell on your neck," she said.
Jane stepped forward, smug. "Why won't you let someone catch you under the mistletoe, Lisbon? Afraid of a little kiss?"
A laugh. "I'm not… no! 'Course I'm not scared of a kiss." Lisbon leaned back as Jane invaded her space again.
"I think you are."
"I think you're nuts. It's not like I haven't been kissed."
"But…" Another step forward.
"But, it's inappropriate behavior at work!" Another step back.
Jane's smile was blinding, especially so close. "Oh come on, Lisbon. Live a little…"
At that Lisbon froze and stood her ground. Staring into those warm, blue eyes, she couldn't quite tell if he meant something other than just a playful dig by that remark. She never could tell with Jane, his masks were so well polished and usually cemented into place.
Jane's smile faded, and he seemed to sober right before her eyes. If he were playing at first, something seemed to have sunk in because of her reaction. Immediately, Lisbon bristled.
Him telling her to 'live a little' was rich. You first, she thought stonily.
She had no idea how long they stood there, a silent battle of wills that started out as playful banter, until the sound of Cho clearing his throat caused Lisbon to break eye contact. Looking over at him, she watched Cho try to subtly motion above Lisbon's head with his eyes.
Obviously still dazed from having the intensity of Patrick Jane focused on her, she furrowed her brow in confusion. Then, with an exasperated look, Cho pointed his index finger upward, in a "look up, you doof!" motion.
Oh damn you, Jane. After shutting her eyes, she heard some ill-covered snickers in the background. When she opened them, there was no need to look up. She knew what was dangling over her head.
Patrick Jane's face was split in a triumphant, extravagantly arrogant smile, eyes glinting with that "gotcha" superiority.
The look was instantly gone, however, after the resounding SMACK of Lisbon's file folder hitting the front of his face.
"Ow!" came the muffled whine, as Jane held onto his soundly thumped nose.
"That's for being a jerk." Lisbon retorted. To the rest of the bullpen, which was locked in on them with rapt attention, she added, "Don't you people have something better to do?"
His nose still smarted. Blast that woman, Jane thought. It was supposed to be fun, picking on her. Trying to get her to blush a little.
Of course, Lisbon had to go and get violent. Jane rubbed his nose, recalling his run in with her file folder the day before. He'd been watching her avoid all contact with anyone remotely within ten feet of that piece of mistletoe. It'd been funny, the way her eyes would shift upward, eyeing the innocent piece of green like a snake about to strike. Then she'd slink around it, trying to give it as wide a berth as possible.
Ever since then, the mistletoe had migrated to a place above the copy machine, garnering quite a few more kisses. An office as big as this, no one could hold off running off copies forever. Even Madeleine Hightower had been unfortunate – or rather, the agent from Serial Crimes may have been the unfortunate one – to be caught unawares while running off incident reports.
Jane had taken great pleasure in watching the horror unfold, when the poor agent realized where he was standing, and then the dawning realization blooming on the dark features of the CBI commanding officer. Madeleine played if off well, Jane had to give her that. A few seconds watching the stuttering, caged animal looks on the junior agent were enough. She dismissed him with a smirk and a wave.
Jane briefly considered waltzing over and giving her another peck on the cheek, just to see her reaction to him doing it in front of the entire office, but it might get him punched. He did love to screw with her though. One time, just to let her know that HE knew he could, that was plenty.
Jane's thoughts returned to Lisbon, in the break room, pouring more coffee. The holidays were supposed to be lighter. Supposed to remind you of those you love and allow you enjoy being amongst the people you care about. But they also called up too many memories better left buried. Jane immediately shook those thoughts out of his head.
A young agent – new to the CBI, Jane thought – was dawdling near the copy machine. He was tall, sandy blond hair and Jane supposed he was good looking. He also remembered hearing this new agent and a few others from the Organized Crime unit talking about Agent Lisbon. And the mistletoe.
And how somebody should try to catch her under it.
Looked like this young pup was the lucky guy. Jane huffed a small chuckle, watching the kid nervously shift his weight back and forth, trying to keep an eye on the break room. Amateur. You don't stand there and look obvious, you have to draw her in…
What was he saying? Did Jane actually want to sit here and watch Lisbon kiss this kid? Frowning, Jane was trying to pinpoint what had suddenly irked him, when Lisbon strolled out with her coffee mug, perusing her file.
The kid seemed to pluck up his nerve, stepped forward and called, "Uh… excuse me, Agent?"
Lisbon turned to him politely.
"Um… I think something is stuck." He said, pointing to the machine. "This is my first time using this thing, since I just transferred." He turned on the charm, shoving his loose bangs out of his face, almost bashfully. "I don't speak 'stupid technology' very well."
Oh, nice try, kid. The hair flipping? Nice touch. Jane was already up and off his couch before he knew it. Lisbon was smiling, commiserating with the kid over the evils of office machinery. She was getting closer, bending to look at the copier and the kid was moving in for the kill…
"Lisbon!" Jane exclaimed, loud enough to cause several people around the office to jump in surprise.
Lisbon jolted too. And unfortunately for the young, oh-aren't-I-cute-and-inept agent, her coffee cup tipped. Scalding liquid dumped down the guy's shirt front and pants. A very un-masculine yowl echoed through the CBI, and some agents actually had hands going for their guns before they realized what actually happened.
Lisbon was aghast, trying in vain to help the poor kid. She even grabbed a few sheets of paper out of the copier, as if to blot at his scalded front.
"Ohmigod! I am so… sooo sorry!" she said, but the younger agent was backing away, trying to lift the hot, wet clothes away from his skin.
Jane couldn't help but laugh. It went off beautifully, for a half-orchestrated scheme. More of an ad lib really. Maybe he should shoot from the cuff more often!
He covered his mouth with his hand in feigned shock. "Oh. Oh, dear." He gasped dramatically.
Agent Charming backed away from the scene, glaring daggers at Jane. "No, it's fine," he said to an apologetic Lisbon. "I'll just… ask Santa for a… a skin graft or something." And he walked, very gingerly, away.
Lisbon whirled on Jane, mouth open in horrified incredulity. "What… I… you…?"
"Use your words." Probably wasn't the best retort.
"What? What, Jane?" Lisbon seethed. "What in the HELL do you want, that you had to yell at me from a foot away?"
Jane shrugged. Innocent. Go for innocent. "Wha? Oh. Well, I was worried when I saw you bend over the copier. That loose shirt could get caught in the works." He nodded, motioning to the loose blouse she wore over a black tank. It was actually a rather fetching ensemble, but for now, it was a good escape. "Might be a nasty wardrobe malfunction."
Lisbon's mouth hung open as her face screwed up in confusion. Brows furrowed, she gestured behind herself. "He's probably got third degree burns because you made me spill my coffee all over him!"
"Ah, well, if you'd just use a lidded mug like everyone else, that wouldn't have happened."
Shaking her head, he watched his Lisbon take a few calming breaths, reach around and retrieve her mug from the copier.
Jane tried to look contrite. "I'll get you another cup of coffee."
But Lisbon held up a "speak again and die" hand and walked stiffly back to her office, slamming the door.
A slow grin pulled at his lips. The "I love it when a plan comes together" grin. He was a little disheartened to realize that he and Lisbon had shared space under the mistletoe for a good while, and he hadn't seen the chance in time. Although she probably would have broken the cup over his forehead for trying, at this point.
He was still standing there, eyeing the innocuous ball of leaves – maybe there should be more of them, increase the coverage to increase chances – when he heard Rigsby trying to get his attention. Turning he saw the lanky agent through the bullpen windows, laughing.
"That was… great." Rigsby said as Jane reentered the bullpen. "It was like… poetry in motion; the way you just appear behind her and the way that coffee flew right at him."
"That was pretty good," Cho added. "Guy's an ass anyway."
"Thinks he's the Casanova of CBI," Rigsby muttered.
Jane couldn't help but bask in the applause.
Van Pelt wore her usual face of righteous indignity on behalf of all those unjustly wronged. "C'mon you guys, he's not that bad. Besides, he could be really hurt."
"He hit on you too?" Jane asked, enjoying the way Rigsby's face reddened.
Van Pelt was predictably flustered, alternating between glaring at Jane and glancing at Rigsby. "What, no! Shut up!"
"Then he deserved every bit of it," Rigsby grumbled half heartedly.
Cho looked back to his computer screen. "He was trying to get the boss under the mistletoe. Damn straight he deserves it."
Rigsby nodded in agreement, while Van Pelt shook her head. Jane frowned at Cho's declaration, seated on his couch once again.
"Oh, so no guy is allowed to get Lisbon under the mistletoe then? That's sexist." Van Pelt huffed.
"No. Just not that guy. Not some egotistical playboy who's only out for a conquest," Rigsby explained.
Van Pelt smirked. "Lisbon would kick your ass if she knew you were trying to protect her like that. Like she's not capable of stopping unwanted advances."
Rigsby colored again, starting with excuses, but Jane tuned them out. He hadn't counted on the guys being that protective of Lisbon, even if Van Pelt was right. He was the scheme master, but that didn't mean that Cho and Rigsby couldn't get creative with revenge if they deemed it necessary. And it wasn't from the guys from whom he had to fear retribution.
Absently rubbing his thumb and forefinger together, Jane gazed back at the mistletoe. Then, his eyes slid around the bullpen, to the break room, down the hall towards Lisbon's office. So many good places to mine.
Rigsby was still trying to makes excuses to Van Pelt, while she maintained that his views were sexist and antiquated. Cho ignored everybody and got back to work.
And Patrick Jane started to mentally map out his plan of attack. Lisbon was just about the only woman in the CBI with an aversion to mistletoe and yet, she always managed to come out of every holiday season unscathed.
This was a challenge he couldn't resist.
It started with two. One ball was replaced in the doorway leading into the bullpen nearest Jane's couch. Another appeared in the break room, over the coffee pot.
Lisbon just smiled and shook her head. It wasn't the first time someone had decided to use more than one route of attack. She could remember one year when two agents from different units were dating, and the guy hung mistletoe over the door to the ladies' restroom and then stalked it for a few days. Minelli finally called a stop to it, though; too many complaints from women having to trek to other floors to use the bathroom, because he was lurking like the "toilet vulture," he'd said.
She didn't think anything of the fact that every time she went to refresh her coffee, Jane happened to be there, fixing a cup of tea. She just stood well out from under the little sprig, refilled her coffee and went on her way.
Then, two more festively bowed balls of greenery showed up. The third one, she didn't see until a witness she was questioning kept looking over her head in Interrogation One, instead of answering questions. When Lisbon finally wondered what the hell was up, she found out… and then told the guy to wipe the lustful sneer off his face before she wiped it off for him. Jane, who'd been sitting in on the questioning, simply huffed.
The fouth ball she didn't see at all. She and Jane had been in Hightower's office – yet another reminder of Jane's inability to follow the rules – and she had finished her "yes ma'ams" and "no ma'ams" and was on her way out. Lisbon assumed Jane was staying behind because Hightower wanted to fawn over his 'golden status' more, but was confused when she heard her boss say, "Jane… what is that?"
Hearing Jane's halting, "Uh…" Lisbon turned around. Hightower was critically eyeing a ball of Mistletoe hung over the chairs that she and Jane usually occupied during their visits to the principal's office.
Casting odd glances between Hightower and Jane, Lisbon just raised her hands and said, "I don't want to know," as she walked out.
She could hear Jane calling for her to "wait, it's not what you think," and Hightower respond with a "nice try, Patrick." Lisbon didn't know what her boss meant by that, but she wanted to scrub the image of Madeleine Hightower, Patrick Jane and mistletoe out of her mind's eye with bleach.
Two days later, Lisbon walked into work early one morning to find several sprigs of red and green lined up down the hallway leading to her office. This is getting to be a little much, she thought, as she edged down the side of the wall, staying out from under them.
Jane was at the end of the hall, dipping his teabag in his cup, and smiling. "Good morning, Lisbon!" She nodded, keeping an eye on the dangerous plant matter above her as she slid toward her office.
Jane looked at her oddly, and if Lisbon didn't know any better, she would think a hint of disappointment flickered past his eyes.
"Man," she said, congenially. "Some girl is really pulling out the stops to catch you this year, Jane." There was more mistletoe strung in a line down the adjoining hallway leading to the interrogation rooms.
Jane's face fell flat for a fraction of a second, and then it was back to the brilliant smile again. "Are you so sure someone is angling for me?"
Lisbon humor soured in an instant. She studied him to see if he was joking. Jane's face had sobered again. Oh hell, he was serious.
"What? Me?" She choked out a forced laugh. "I seriously doubt that."
Jane continued to stare at her for a moment, then shrugged noncommittally. "Wouldn't be so sure, my dear. Some gent might be working very hard to snag the incomparable Teresa Lisbon under the mistletoe this year."
Lisbon felt a bolt of uncertainty in her stomach but tamped it down. Jane was watching her, waiting for her to scoff, blush, or act otherwise embarrassed. She wasn't going to give him the pleasure.
Lisbon pretended to be appraising the people around the office. "Well, the guy from the mailroom transferred, so… not really anyone else worth considering."
Jane blanched at her admission.
"What?" she asked. "He transferred a while back, so I don't mind admitting he was pretty hot."
Jane actually seemed dumbstruck, swallowing thickly before he came back to his senses. "Oh… uh, really? The mail guy?"
"Just as long as it isn't Freddy from the guard desk downstairs. He creeps me out."
"Freddy, huh? No, I don't think it was him."
"Oh, stop trying to be modest, Jane. You suck at it. You know some little intern is doing all of this to impress you. It's just the kind of elaborate, over-done scheme you'd like." she said, giving him a friendly chuck on the shoulder before heading into her office.
She barely heard Jane's muttered, "Yeah. It is."
This was intolerable. It was really getting ridiculous, Jane thought. He lay on his couch, hands behind his head, sulking, while an obnoxious little green fuzz ball hung merrily above his head.
It seemed to be mocking him.
Closing his eyes, Jane heaved a dejected sigh. He wasn't used to one of his plans not going off like a well oiled machine. Sure, there were always mishaps here and there, but really, they were negligible. Nobody died because of them.
Well, nobody he cared about, anyway.
But even with the occasional odd hitch here and there, Jane always found a way to make it work. Even if it meant showing up at morgues to hide under tables with his lovely boss, awaiting the bad guy.
But this was just not going well. All of his hard work, balancing on a ladder at all hours of the night, hanging those insufferable little festive balls all over the place.
And he did mean all over the place.
Anything worth doing was worth doing right, as the saying went. And Jane was nothing if not thorough…
Several sprigs lined the ceiling above the pathway in the bullpen, with another sprig dangling over the conference table. There was a sprig in every interrogation room, Hightower's office and two or three in the break room. Every doorway imaginable was mined – well, except the doors to the bathrooms; Jane had standards – and even one above the spiral staircase. Anywhere Jane could conceive of Lisbon pausing for a minute.
The result was Lisbon making mad dashes through the office. She trotted to get coffee, or she just started bringing her own and going out for refills at the cart outside the building. Going to see Hightower? Lisbon looked like an Olympic sprinter, weaving through the corridors to the stairs. And she'd started almost hopping through door frames like she was leaping over a deadly ravine.
The one hung in Hightower's office had been a stupid move. He didn't savor the idea of trying to kiss Lisbon in front of Madeleine Hightower. That was just… wrong.
Lisbon really didn't want to be caught by whoever she thought might be chasing her. Jane closed his eyes and made a disgruntled sound in the back of his throat.
He heard the rest of the team entering for the morning, smelled the fresh coffee Van Pelt always brought. But he couldn't be bothered with bidding them a good morning, his thoughts were too dejected.
"Wow!" the red-head breathed.
Rigsby joined her at her desk, presumably after the coffee. "This is… this is a LOT of mistletoe. I don't think I've ever seen this much mistletoe in one place."
Cho was heard tossing his bag at this desk. "This is obsessive. Someone needs therapy."
"Oh, I don't know, I think it's kinda romantic," cooed Van Pelt.
Jane warmed a little to that. Thanks, Grace.
"Yeah," Rigsby's goofy grin was easily heard. "It kinda is."
Cho wasn't moved. "Yeah. Like those stalkers who paper their houses with pictures of their true loves - romantic."
Oh, low blow, Cho. Jane grimaced. It wasn't that bad, was it? He was just… bettering his odds, that's all. Besides, he was all about grand gestures. Couldn't help it if his target wasn't getting the hint.
"Oh, I bet it's Kinsley from Serial Crimes," Van Pelt said, conspiratorially. "He's had a crush on Maddy from Accounting forever."
Rigsby perked up. "Really?"
"Who's Maddy?" Cho asked.
"Honestly! Don't you bother to get to know your coworkers?"
Cho deadpanned. "Not the ones who have weird obsessive nut-balls lusting after them."
Jane opened his eyes and glared at the far wall. Really, Cho? Easy with the name calling, man!
It got quiet. Jane angled his head backward to see what had happened to the conversation, and found three sets of eyes staring at him.
"What?" he asked innocently.
Cho crossed his arms over his chest. "This is something you'd do."
Rigsby honed in on the insinuation, adding, "Yeah. This kind of flamboyant display is right up your alley, Jane."
At that, the consultant chuckled. "You really think I'd have to work this hard to get a woman under the mistletoe? Really?"
"Oh. Yeah," Rigsby looked crestfallen. He shrugged to Cho. "He's got a point."
Cho eyed Jane for a moment longer, mulling it over, and then made a non-committal shrug. "Maybe."
Van Pelt grinned sarcastically. "Oh c'mon guys, he's not that good." She glanced over at Jane, who was sprawled out confidently.
Jane pinned her with a "you wanna bet?" look. The rookie backed down.
"Never mind," she mumbled.
At least Grace knew when to give Jane his props. She'd been the gullible recipient of far too many of his cons, and yet, the poor thing still trusted him.
He listened to the others bandy about more names of who the possible romantic-obsessive decorator was, all the while his ire increasing. This started as just a joke, a way to surprise Lisbon. Catch her unawares and prove that he still had the ability to make her blush. It'd been a while.
Then it became a challenge. The thought of Lisbon letting some other guy beat him to the punch was unthinkable. After all, this was his elaborate holiday mousetrap.
Now… he sighed. Now, it was just getting insulting. Could Lisbon actually know that he was the one who had gone to all this trouble, and was deliberately avoiding him? Surely not.
Jane crossed his arms over his vested chest and scowled. Who wouldn't want to kiss him?
Oh sure, he knew he had equal numbers of those who were impressed by him as those who despised him. Okay, maybe the "despised" side of the equation was a little heavy. But still. He knew his charm and looks were devastating, especially to the fairer sex.
Although come to think of it, Lisbon hadn't ever really been one to fall for those particular weapons. At least, not that she'd let on about.
Suddenly, he checked the clock on the wall. It was time for Lisbon to get into the office. Eyeing his latest minefield over her door, Jane decided that this was probably his best effort to date. She'd have to stop and chat with him, now.
Ambling over toward Lisbon's office, Jane leaned a shoulder against her doorframe, a pleasant, warm smile on his face. Like clockwork, the elevator pinged, and the dark-haired, green-eyed, coffee toting leader of Serious Crimes strode out. She was reading a file, had three more shoved under her arm, and was sipping her store-bought coffee as she side-stepped the line of mistletoe on the ceiling, not even bothering to look up.
Jane shoved the slight indignant twinge away and widened his smile as she approached. "Morning, Lisbon. Not bothering with the break room coffee anymore, I see."
Lisbon looked up then, and favored him with a somewhat bashful grin. Jane didn't bother to dwell on the fact that that particular grin did funny, warm things to his insides. "Well, the break room has become a dangerous place to stand for any length of time. I've seen several woman and men molested lately."
"I doubt the men objected to it."
"Probably. Well, except for Kowalski from Accounting. I'm sure he would have preferred that his wife hadn't come up to see him at the exact time that secretary he's been messing around with had him in a lip lock." Lisbon smirked.
Jane winced. "That was ugly."
Lisbon agreed. She came to stand next to him at her open office door, glancing down at her file. "What's up?" she asked, still reading.
Jane shifted his weight toward her. "What do you mean?"
Lisbon looked up. "You. Here. At my office. You need something?"
For a moment, Jane's brilliant mind ceased to come up with a good reason to stall her. She was there, in front of him, completely unaware. It was perfect. Except for the sudden violent attack of butterflies in his stomach. How unheard of! He hadn't had butterflies since his first debut as the "Boy Wonder" on that tented stage, so long ago.
A swallow. An almost nervous look down at his shoes. Get it together, man! "Uh…you know. I was just… wondering… how your morning was?"
The urge to smack himself in the face was nearly overwhelming. Where the hell had that come from? He was Patrick Jane – the man who could talk himself out of deadly situations! He could hypnotize someone from across a room. He could enthrall a killer with just the words from his mouth, and hold him long enough for the cavalry to arrive. And yet, he just uttered the lamest attempt at small talk he'd ever heard!
Lisbon didn't look impressed either. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Oookay. It's great. I have a lot of work to do." She looked toward her office, and the door that Jane was somewhat blocking. "And to do that, I need in my office."
Jane shook himself, still trying to figure out something to keep her there. Rigsby bidding Lisbon good morning from the bullpen caused him to jump a little, his mind skittering around the vast stores of his memory palace, frantically searching for an excuse. Small talk. Something!
Instead, he gave the game away with the worst tell he could have possibly done. After Lisbon waved a 'hello' to Rigsby, he locked eyes with her, and then looked up. He couldn't help it. The object on his mind seemed to cause his eyes to lift involuntarily.
Jane had always prided himself on having complete control of his body. Handling all that mistletoe over a short period of time must have some detrimental effects on one's mind. It was toxic, right?
Lisbon followed his line of sight, spying the ball of green tied to her door frame. Jane stood frozen, unable to do anything but wait for her reaction. Bad enough she might reject him, but the whole office was watching, it seemed. He didn't think he could take rejection with an audience. Not now, after all he'd done.
Lisbon's face screwed up in confusion, and then she sighed. Shaking her head, she looked back at a stricken Jane and huffed.
"Really? God, I hope this isn't Frank's work." She said, pushing past Jane. "This is just getting too weird."
With that, she closed her door behind her, leaving Jane to fake a laugh, wave through the window and say, "Oh… yes. Right. Very weird!"
Stiffly, he made his way back to his couch, feigning nonchalance, while inwardly he imagined finding a nice brick wall somewhere to beat his head against. He only had one option left, and he'd have to get a little help to pull it off.
Later that evening, Frank the Guard thanked the Serious Crimes consultant. He'd just plopped a brand new fifty dollar bill onto his desk with the request that he not answer the emergency call alarm to the elevator the following night.
Frank was curious, but the blond consultant just grinned like a kid in a candy shop and told him that he needed to bring some holiday cheer to someone special.
The next night, Lisbon was finishing up witness reports for trial the next day. The floor was dimmed, with only a few other agents milling about, finishing their work. The lights from the Christmas tree set up in the bullpen cast a colored hue across the office floor, while the white lights from the garlands strung over the doors and around some of the agents' desks held an almost candle-lit glow.
It was pretty, she thought, as she shut off her computer. She'd always thought Christmas lights held a magical quality, even if they went hand in hand with the commercialism of the holiday.
She locked her office, and headed toward the elevator, noting that she was the last of her team to leave. Unsurprising. Yet, it was surprising that Jane was nowhere to be seen. Lisbon hoped he hadn't gone back up into his cave of an attic.
As the elevator dinged its arrival, Lisbon boarded lift, pushed the button for the lobby, stood against the wall and sighed. She was exhausted and the only thing she wanted was a hot shower, her comfy clothes and her couch.
Just before the doors shut, a hand popped in between them, and Patrick Jane's dazzling smile appeared as he entered the lift.
"Glad I caught you," he said smoothly. He sidled over next to her, hands in his pockets.
"What?" she asked. "Don't tell me… you remembered something else in the McDermot case. Jane, we have pretrial hearings tomorrow, why can't you just tell me these things when we actually have time to deal with them?" Lisbon pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration.
Wasn't like they'd actually get the case to stick, anyway. Not with Jane's antics entrapping the suspect.
"Why do you always think the worst, Lisbon?" Jane sounded a little hurt, causing her to look up. He was very close to her, looking at her with an adorable confusion that reminded her of a little boy who was about to plead his innocence in the breaking of a cookie jar.
She smirked. "Force of habit around you."
"Well, you'll be happy to know that I didn't catch you in the elevator because I did something wrong."
Curiously, Jane seemed suddenly uncomfortable. The self-assured genius glinting behind his eyes suddenly dimmed, and Lisbon frowned.
Jane shifted around in front of her, his back to the control panel. "I wanted to tell you something that I found out about all the mistletoe hanging in the office."
Lisbon eyed him warily. "Okay."
"I know who did it," he responded softly. His face was somber, intense, and Lisbon had the feeling that the temperature in the small elevator had suddenly gone up.
She gave him a look to get him to continue, and it looked like he was about to lean against the wall of the lift, when suddenly, his back connected with the control board. The elevator lurched to a stop, while the irritation ring of the "stop" alarm sounded.
"Oh!" Jane jumped back. "Uh-oh!"
"Oh, dammit, Jane!" Lisbon shoved him aside to try to push the button, but it seemed to be stuck. She scraped her fingernails over the depressed button, and then realized they needed the small key to unlock it. "Only you could get us stuck in the elevator late at night!"
Jane looked apologetic. "Sorry, Lisbon." The he brightened, "Hey, maybe Frank is downstairs and heard the alarm go off."
Lisbon scowled up at him. "Oh. Swell."
It was suddenly quiet in the elevator, and Lisbon felt a little claustrophobic. "Maybe we should try the call box," she suggested.
After pushing the 'call' button, sure enough, Frank the weirdo was downstairs and said that he would have someone to unlock the elevator from the lobby controls in a few minutes. Lisbon sighed and leaned back against the wall.
"So," she said. "Who is the masked mistletoe culprit?"
Jane angled his body to face her, and leaned a shoulder against the back wall. "Are you sure you don't know?" he murmured.
Lisbon took a good look at the way he was leaning toward her. There was a bright, warm glow in his eyes, the dimmed lights from the elevator making his blond hair gleam in a most distracting way. There was a gentle, almost uncertain smile playing at his lips.
Oh, no. It couldn't be. Jane must have seen the realization dawning on her face, because he lifted his eyes upward, and his smile grew. Lisbon swallowed and looked above her head.
Dangling from the roof of the lift was a much larger, basketball sized bunch of mistletoe.
Lisbon closed her eyes, and couldn't help but laugh. "I don't want to know how much money you spent buying all that stuff."
Jane seemed to relax then, shrugging one shoulder and smirking boyishly at her. "Meh. It was the principle of the thing. You just didn't play by the rules."
Arching a delicate brow, Lisbon replied, "Maybe I didn't want to be caught."
A frown. "You didn't know it was me."
A laugh. "Oh, what if I did know, and simply didn't want to kiss you? I imagine that thought never entered your brain?" She reveled in the slight deflation of his ego that passed across his features.
Jane recovered like the pro he was, and his smile was like the sun. "Nah! Can't be true."
Just then, the speaker clattered to life, and Creepy Frank declared that they'd be out in a few minutes. Lisbon turned back to Jane, who hadn't taken his eyes off her. Suddenly, he didn't seem to be 'playing' anymore.
"Well?" he purred.
Lisbon felt her stomach lodge in her throat. "Well, what?" she stalled.
Jane puffed out a breath, clearly put-out. "Must you make everything difficult, woman?"
Before she knew it, one of his hands gently held her chin, tilting it upward, as he bent and placed his lips on hers. For a moment, all she heard was the thundering of her heart in her ears.
Lisbon felt him slightly increase the pressure, his lips moving across her own in a gentle caress. One of her hands involuntarily fisted in the lapels of his suit jacket as she leaned into the kiss, causing Jane to suck in a breath.
His other hand cupped her cheek, slowly sliding into her hair, and the kiss was well on its way to leaving the simple holiday tradition, and into something along the lines of people being pushed up against walls, and clothing getting mussed.
Then the elevator pinged again, and started moving downward. Jane broke off the kiss, reluctantly. There was an instant, before the door opened, signaling that they were in the lobby, that Jane's face seemed to cloud over with … something.
When the door opened, they were standing apart. They each exited the elevator, Jane waving thanks to Frank, and Lisbon plowing ahead to the parking lot. As they stepped out into the cool Sacramento night, Jane called after her.
"Merry Christmas, Lisbon!" he said.
She turned to see him with that same, soft smile he'd worn in the elevator. She found her self returning it.
"Merry Christmas, Jane," she answered.
She was still smiling as she drove off, humming along with the holiday tunes on her radio.
Jane watched her drive off, the smile refusing to leave his face.
Well, he had to remind her that he was serious, after all. He hadn't gone to all the trouble of mining the entire floor during the past week for nothing. It had ceased to be just a game the moment he realized that he wanted to kiss her. Actually, he'd wanted her to want to kiss him too. She'd put up quite a chase, the little minx.
Jane strolled through he parking lot, towards his trusty little blue Citroen. Yes, his plan had been a success. As he remembered the way Lisbon's eyes became doe-like and round, just as he moved in for the kiss, he a had to admit, it'd been better than he'd dreamed.
Jane marveled at the memory of the feeling of her skin between his fingers, the softness of her lips. He was starting to curse Frank's ingenuity at getting the lift fixed without the key, now. A few more minutes could have been… interesting, he thought.
A little bounce in his step, Jane made his way to his car. One hand drew out of his pocket, and Jane grinned down at the object in it.
The elevator key glistened happily up at him.
So, did I give you a little different twist on the whole Mistletoe thing? Let me know! READ and REVIEW!