For Chiisana Minako, for Christmas. The prompt was "Stolen Kiss," (Best prompt ever! Or maybe just exactly what I needed). Plus I lazily co-opted it for the title as well. I hope you enjoy it. I tried to make it as fun as I could, and well, I like it so...
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that. Hope everyone has fun.
And thanks to the lovely Alamo Girl for the beta and the read-through to make sure I hadn't gone insane (which most of the time I'm fine with really, but every so often I get concerned y'know?).
Obviously, I own nothing. Still.
Once upon a time, in a land not so very far away, there lived a woman. She was strong and kind and noble. And, of course, she was beautiful.
She was also quick-tempered, and brusque, and stubborn. She guarded her secrets with a will of iron, slow to trust and quick to suspect both friend and foe. She could be teasing and mocking and sarcastic. Or she could be good-humoured and almost playful, with a smile that crept out of her face so slowly it could weave a spell before its target was even aware.
In other words, she was human.
She was also special. She was the heroine after all.
She was fierce and protective and self-sacrificing. Prone to strong feelings, but also afraid of them. Cautious and responsible, unless she was provoked beyond her usual limits. Or unless a rare mood struck her and she took a needless risk.
In a way this is her story.
She certainly starts it at least.
Surprisingly, Teresa Lisbon was actually enjoying herself.
She was at a small CBI party, surrounded by her colleagues, by a few lawyers from the AG's office, by her boss. She should have been out of her element, but she had to admit it wasn't that bad. She had a glass of wine in her hand, people were being generally pleasant, and she was almost happy.
Of course, the fact that the little gathering had been organized in her and Cho's honour definitely helped with that.
The two of them were being awarded for exemplary service to the city for thwarting a pair of men intending on assassinating the mayor. Lisbon was sure there'd be another, more formal ceremony later (the very idea made her cringe), but for now it was nice to enjoy a little bit of appreciation.
Besides, she deserved a day off to enjoy the company of the people she worked with.
Her team surrounded her, all pleased and happy. She'd brushed off most of their congratulations, and occasionally taken refuge with her fellow-honouree. Cho's bluntness and reticence was a welcome relief from the pleasant, if occasionally tiresome, polite compliments and small talk. Though she was enjoying Rigsby's insistence on fetching her drinks for the evening whenever she wanted, that and Van Pelt's praise, which was all the sweeter for its genuine sincerity.
Maybe it was the couple of glasses of wine causing her good mood, maybe it was the silly self-satisfaction she felt, maybe it was the rare feeling of being congratulated, and just generally praised to the skies. Because while she wouldn't want it every day, and it certainly got awkward, she'd be lying if she didn't say that a part of her wasn't revelling in it thanks in part the informality of the gathering. People were drifting in and out of the bullpen at will.
Or maybe it was the feeling of a case finally ending on a definite win, but she almost felt invincible.
Like nothing could possibly go wrong today.
Like she'd done well.
Like the world owed her one.
Our story's heroine was a true heroine, not content to sit idly by and wait for a Prince Charming to come and save her, but rather determined to save herself. Quite capable of it too.
In fact, she was far more likely to save the Prince as well, if he happened to run into a spot of trouble on his quest.
But all that was irrelevant, because our heroine wasn't searching for a Prince Charming to save her. She probably wouldn't have trusted a Prince Charming if she had found one, and she'd almost certainly have found him dull. After all, they were always prosperous, propertied and perfectly pleasant, but Prince Charmings were also often also lacking in personality.
To put up with that sort of bland goodness, one had to be almost perfectly good oneself.
And though she was a protector, our heroine wasn't that.
While she worked diligently for justice and was principled and fair, well, she wasn't always perfectly law-abiding.
Even if her crimes weren't ever the kind she could be tried for.
Still, that sort of thing always came with a price.
Jane wasn't at the party anymore.
Lisbon scowled to herself as she surreptitiously glanced around the room to confirm that fact.
He might have at least stayed for her and Cho's little celebration. The rest of her team had.
She should give him a piece of her mind.
Scratch that, she would give him a piece of her mind.
This was her day.
Excusing herself from the group she was with, Lisbon made her way quietly to the door.
She'd almost escaped when she was stopped. "Everything alright Boss?" Van Pelt asked her.
Lisbon turned and sent her colleague a self-deprecating smile. "Everything's great Grace," she assured her. "I just wanted to get a bit of air for a while. I'll be back soon, I promise."
"Right," Van Pelt agreed. "I guess this sort of thing can be a bit overwhelming."
"A bit," Lisbon acknowledged. "But I promise I'll be back."
"You better be. I'm giving you a ride home, remember?" Van Pelt reminded her boss. The two women had come to the agreement earlier, when Lisbon had been about to refuse her second glass of wine and Rigsby had argued that she could hardly do that at her own party. She probably would have been fine to drive either way, but she'd always been overly careful about that sort of thing.
"I know," Lisbon agreed. "I'm not taking the chance." Especially given that she'd moved past two glasses once the two women had agreed on the driving arrangements.
"I figured," Van Pelt agreed with a grin.
Lisbon turned to leave with a small wave.
"He's upstairs," her subordinate informed her slyly.
"Who is?" Lisbon asked innocently.
Van Pelt smirked.
Who exactly were the two women talking about? One might wonder. Usually this mysterious man would be the hero, but that's hardly the case here.
Patrick Jane was no hero.
He didn't have a white horse to ride up on, he wasn't pure and good and noble, he wasn't… alright, he was incredibly handsome. But one out of three does not a hero make.
He was really more of a sorcerer, clever and cunning, with his own moral code, and just a little bit dark. He spent most of his time alone in his lair, cooking up schemes and plotting to further his own ends. And when he did emerge, he used his own particular brand of magic to accomplish his goals.
Oh, he wasn't an evil sorcerer, not exactly. Not that he was necessarily good either. He occupied a bit of a grey area.
Admittedly, his ultimate goal was to commit murder and satisfy his thirst for revenge, which certainly wasn't commendable. But his target was a murderous serial killer, so there was a hint of poetic justice involved in his frightening plans.
Though he wasn't a prince, he could be charming. Very charming. Most people didn't see him for what he was.
And our heroine? What did she think of the enigmatic sorcerer?
He and she coexisted in an odd sort of truce.
They respected each other's abilities, liked each other even. For the most part they managed to work together based on a series of unspoken rules. He needed her help to bring him closer to his goal; she needed him to help her with her calling to protect people. They both benefitted from the relationship.
They were a good pair, professionally. There was a synchronicity between them on the job.
And, from time to time, and at the most unexpected moments, that synchronicity (unexpected and sometimes unwelcome as it was) something crept up on them in areas slightly removed from the professional. And then they wondered.
Then, unexpectedly (even unintentionally), one of them broke the unspoken rules.
Usually it was him.
But not always.
Lisbon strode boldly into the attic without bothering to knock.
After all, why should she? The attic was CBI property after all. It wasn't like Patrick Jane owned it.
And there he was, lying on his makeshift couch, completely unperturbed by her entrance. Like he'd known she was coming.
"I knew you'd be up here," Lisbon said in greeting, her tone vaguely accusatory.
"Hello Lisbon," Jane replied, his tone completely unaffected. "What can I do for you?"
"Why aren't you at the party?" she demanded.
Jane sat up. "I was," he reminded her. "I stayed for about half an hour if you'll recall."
"I hope it wasn't too taxing on you, putting in an appearance like that," she said mildly, with just a hint of bite.
"Not really," Jane admitted with a wave of his hand. "Then I got tired off all the small talk. Besides, half the people in that room don't really like me, Lisbon."
"Most of the people from the Attorney General's office have left already," Lisbon told him with a smirk.
Jane smiled back. "Well, that does eliminate a lot of the anti-Jane contingent. But I wasn't just talking about the attorneys. After all, most of the Fraud Unit hates me after the escapade with the dogs and the streamers."
Lisbon suppressed a shudder at that. The only saving grace to that scheme had been that Jane was off-duty at the time, cutting the paperwork in half. Then she remembered why she'd come up here in the first place. She put her hands on her hips and squared her shoulders. "Still," she said. "There are people who like you. The team's all still around. It wouldn't kill you to go down and mingle for a little longer Jane."
"That's true Lisbon," he said, standing to watch her more closely. "It wouldn't kill me."
She ignored his staring. She was mostly used to it by now. "And if you get bored of the small talk you can always go talk to Cho," she informed him.
"Yes, I noticed that was your strategy," Jane murmured.
"It's a good strategy," Lisbon defended.
"And an entertaining one for both you," Jane mused. "If your matching smirks were anything to go by."
"Great!" Lisbon said. "See you down there."
Jane let his grin widen as she turned around. "Just a minute dear," he said slowly. "I don't recall actually agreeing to go downstairs."
Lisbon spun back around, eyebrows raised. "Seriously?" she asked.
Jane grinned. "Why do you want me to go down so much?"
Lisbon scowled. Because in Jane's mind a person needed a reason for wanting a colleague to attend a party rather than sit upstairs brooding creepily. "It's not healthy for you to spend so much time up here alone," she informed him curtly. "Especially not when there's a party downstairs. Not the most exciting one I'll grant you, but a party nonetheless. People are having fun, and you're up here alone. I don't like it."
Jane sighed. "Lisbon…"
"No!" she interrupted, not wanting to hear his usual excuses. "We're a team Jane. We mourn our losses together and we celebrate our victories together. That's how it works."
"So that's it then?" Jane smirked.
"What's it?" Lisbon practically growled.
"Someone's upset that I didn't stay for her party," Jane remarked airily.
Lisbon's mouth dropped open slightly in shock. "I am not!" she hissed.
"I think you are," Jane drawled. "I think you're upset that I didn't stick around like all the rest, making a bit of a fuss over you and telling you that you did a good job. Well here you go Lisbon, I think you did a good job. You're a credit to your profession. You should be proud."
"You can be a real jerk sometimes," she snapped. "And I didn't come up here because I wanted you to flatter me, you idiot. I can get enough of that downstairs. If I liked it, I wouldn't be hiding in the corner with Cho."
"You do like it," Jane corrected smoothly. Before she could object he continued. "You like it when it's people who matter to you. People whose opinion you care about."
"Well, if that's the case then why on earth would I be up here talking to you?" Lisbon retorted.
"Says the woman who claims to be up here because she's worried about my mental state," Jane reminded her.
"Because heaven forbid I show concern. Or worry about you sitting up here all on your own," Lisbon replied.
"I don't know why you can't just admit that you came up here because you want me at your party," Jane asked innocently.
Lisbon felt like stamping her foot in frustration. Jane often had that effect on her. She took a breath, "I do want you at my party."
"Aha!" Jane said triumphantly.
"I told you, I don't like you up here all alone," Lisbon repeated. "And if you're downstairs I know where you are."
"But I can also get into more trouble downstairs," Jane reminded her.
"You can get into trouble anywhere. At least downstairs I can keep an eye on you more easily. But if you want to stay up here all by yourself then suit yourself. I'm not going to drag you out of here," Lisbon said with a wave of her hand. Jane was intolerable in this mood and she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of asking him to come downstairs again. He could sit up here alone if he wanted; she was going to go back down to her party. Where people wanted to talk to her.
"If I'd known it meant that much to you Lisbon, I wouldn't have left," Jane told her candidly, if a little smugly. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
"Oh, don't worry Jane, you didn't," she said whirling around so quickly that she felt momentarily dizzy. She hoped he hadn't noticed.
"You okay there Lisbon?" Jane asked.
Of course he had. "I'm fine," she said firmly. "Just turned around a little too quickly."
Jane nodded, "Plus you've had at least one more glass of wine than you were planning."
"Shut up Jane, it's my party, I'm not driving, and this is only my third," she growled, irritated with herself for sounding like she was justifying her choices.
"Well, you're pretty sure of that at least," Jane corrected. "Though you can't quite remember if Rigsby refilled your glass two or three times, so there's a small chance you've just started your fourth."
"I'm not drunk," Lisbon said curtly.
"I didn't say you were," Jane agreed, stepping slightly closer to get a better look at her face. "You've only got a tiny bit of a buzz. Your cheeks are slightly flushed and your eyes are just a little shiny."
"You're infuriating, you know that?" Lisbon asked, gesturing violently with one arm. She remembered in the nick of time not to use the other one. She'd just throw her wine all over the place. Although that might not be the worst idea in the world. Especially if the majority of it somehow ended up on Jane's vest. She didn't know why, but he was driving her particularly crazy at the moment. And part of that was probably her own fault for coming to find him in the first place.
To her further annoyance, Jane's only reaction to her childish antics was to calmly take her glass from her and set it one of the makeshift tables behind him. "There," he said cheerfully. "Now you can make as many exaggerated arm movements to drive your point home as you want. So go on Lisbon, tell me how horrible a person I am."
Lisbon gritted her jaw and stepped forward; it made her feel strong, confrontational. She was prepared to give him a piece of her mind. Then she glanced at his face, his stupid, smirking face.
She swore even his eyes were laughing at her.
And it was possible that her buzz was just a little bit stronger than she'd thought.
But she didn't care. Right now she did not care. This was her day, and he had no right to try and take it from her. Not today. Today she got to be the one doing the taking.
Jane frowned slightly, obviously confused by the sudden change in her body language.
But before he could react she reached a hand up to cup his cheek, rose up on her tiptoes and kissed him.
She wasn't entirely sure what made her do it. It certainly wasn't simply the alcohol. She wasn't that tipsy. Maybe it was all her frustrations, over him never doing anything she said the simple way, over his absolute refusal to let her help him a little. Or maybe it was just because, well, she was a woman after all. And he had that smile... Hell, it could have been any number of things.
All of which didn't really matter, because she was kissing Patrick Jane, and he wasn't pushing her away.
To say that Jane was surprised would have been an understatement. He swore he felt his brain literally stop the second he felt her lips touch his own; the only thing that registered in his conscious mind was that her mouth was just as demanding as the rest of her. He'd already wrapped one hand around her waist and buried the other in her hair before his brain caught up even a little.
He could taste wine, smell cinnamon and feel the back of her neck brushing against the fingers he still had wrapped in her hair. He was so very glad she'd left it down today, not that he didn't like the bun or the ponytail, but… He pulled her slightly closer and felt her other arm wrap around his waist.
Then he decided he didn't care why she'd done it. Because she was warm and she was real and she was alive.
Now he was vying for control of the kiss.
Jane felt her sigh, and almost give in to his demands. Then she bit lightly on his lower lip and pulled away.
He moaned softly almost before he even realized what was happening.
"Didn't expect that, did you?" Lisbon murmured huskily as she pulled away, gently stroking his cheek as she went.
Jane stared at her, standing perfectly frozen as she reached around him to grab her glass of wine. Then, without even a second glance in his direction, she practically sashayed out of the door.
He regained his powers of speech just as she reached it. "Why?" he asked, irritated to hear a hint of a stutter in his own voice.
Lisbon turned briefly. "I was just curious," she said with a shrug as she left the attic once and for all.
Then she was gone.
Jane was alone again.
And he didn't like it.
And that is how our heroine changed things.
Unwittingly, unwillingly, almost apparently by chance. With a single kiss. She certainly never could have predicted the consequences of her momentary lapse in judgement.
Of course, our heroine may have been unsure why she'd grabbed her sorcerer, but her reasons weren't all that inexplicable.
After all, it was her day of celebration. She'd actually let herself enjoy all the people catering to her for a change. Then our sorcerer had tried to mar that feeling with his insidious arts. He may not have been evil, but he did like to stir up a bit of trouble from time to time.
But our heroine hadn't been in the mood to tangle with him. Not in their usual way at least.
Unfortunately our wayward sorcerer hadn't known that. His oversight could have been attributed to the sheer amount of time he spent alone in his makeshift lair, but that would be a lie. He knew about her celebration, and he knew how she felt about it, maybe even understood her feelings about it better than she did. But he enjoyed nothing so much as matching wits with anyone worthwhile who happened to cross his path.
Naturally, our story's heroine crossed his path quite often.
Even the most powerful of sorcerers could never have predicted that particular reaction.
Most of the time his preferred sparring partner ignored his attempts to provoke or unsettle. But not that day.
That day she'd been sick of him taking advantage, of pushing her to the limit, of his inability to give her a single day without stealing something from her, even if it was something as simple as a good mood.
So that day, her mood and her wine made her determined to steal something right back.
Unluckily she chose to take a kiss.
It was supposed to be casual, unimportant.
But kisses don't tend to work like that.
Especially not stolen ones.
Lisbon tried not to feel smug when she saw Jane sneak back downstairs to join the party not ten minutes later. She decided to consider it a minor victory.
And why shouldn't she? It was so rare that she managed to surprise her consultant that when it did happen it was definitely noteworthy.
Besides, she'd been telling the truth when she'd said that she kissed him because she was curious. What heterosexual woman could possibly work with someone like Patrick Jane for years on end, watching the effect he had on well over 90% of the female population, and not wonder? Lisbon immediately decided not to think about what that might imply about Van Pelt. After all, surely the redhead wouldn't consider a second intra-team relationship after the Rigsby-debacle.
Instead, the head of Serious Crimes decided to go back to enjoying her party.
Well that, and to watching Jane, as subtly as possible.
He seemed to be acting normally. For Jane at least.
But something was different. Lisbon caught him staring at her more than once, trying to figure out what she was thinking no doubt.
She ignored him.
The two of them weren't discussing this. There was no reason for anything to change.
No matter how long she'd been considering Patrick Jane's skills in that particular area, the kiss was a one-time thing, fuelled by curiosity and okay, by a little bit of frustration. Pleasant as it had been, she had no intention of repeating it.
They would both move on as if nothing had happened.
Lisbon knew her behaviour would send that message to him loud and clear.
He'd probably be relieved.
Things would be back to normal the next day.
Except that they weren't.
They were both far too aware of the fact that (supposedly) nothing had changed. That there was a reason to have to act as normally as possible
Luckily, acting perfectly normal and hiding what they were thinking was something they were both good at.
Most of the time the difference was undetectable. Things were just as they had been before.
But then others, it was obvious (to both of them) that something had changed.
Jane was uneasy around her.
Not just uneasy actually, he noticed things about her. And not just the normal sorts of things he noticed about everyone. Now he noticed little things, things that he never used to see.
Sure, he noticed things like that she altered her makeup subtly depending on the season, or that her gait was almost twice as quick as anyone else on the team. Or that when she was particularly tired her eyes drooped and she got a little line above her nose. But he'd already known all that. He'd noticed most of it years ago.
Now he noticed things like the line of her jaw as she bent over Rigsby's desk to look at his computer screen. He noticed the shape of her calves when she wore a skirt on court days. He'd committed to memory the way she bit her lip ever so slightly when she was nervous or anticipating something or the way she tilted her head slightly when she was challenging him. And when she stood next to him he noticed that she seemed to give off about twice as much body heat as a woman her size should. Sometimes Jane swore he could almost feel it.
And amidst all the cases they worked together by day, he noticed which nights she didn't spend alone.
She didn't seem to be one for relationships. Not traditional ones at least. She seemed more inclined to satisfy her needs with some short-term male company. Though she did try for normal a few times. None of the guys lasted very long.
And Jane hadn't had anything to do with that. Well, not always. Maybe once or twice. He hadn't run the guys off with a shotgun or anything. It'd been more of a friendly warning. He just wanted to make sure her would-be-suitors were good enough. After all, if they were going to be in Lisbon's life, then they were going to cross paths with him and people like him. If they couldn't hack that, it was best that both Lisbon and her potential partner knew beforehand. Besides, she never seemed too upset when John or Pete bowed out gracefully. She just sent Jane a smile the next day over a cup of tea, informed him that things hadn't worked out, and the two of them went back to their work. Even if there was a hint of regret in her tone, it was gone within the week.
Though one, Terry, Jane thought that maybe she did miss. He was also the one that Jane had nothing to do with. The one who left her all on his own.
Jane didn't understand that. He did try to cheer her up though. But they didn't talk about why.
It was too complicated.
Still, he thought about her.
And he thought about how her fingers felt on his cheek that day all those months ago.
Even though they had an unspoken agreement not to talk about it.
Our sorcerer was frustrated.
For several reasons.
He was no closer to exacting his revenge. If anything he felt like he was getting further and further away.
And to top it off he couldn't focus properly on his goals.
It was all her fault.
He could have carried on his planned path, maybe not happily, but certainly single-mindedly, were it not for the memory of our heroine alive, in his arms and demanding a response.
Without her unwanted interference, everything would have been perfectly fine.
Now he feels as if he's being pulled in two directions, for the first time in years.
He didn't know what to do about it.
It would seem our heroine had her own particular brand of magic, one her sorcerer was ill-equipped to deal with.
Because somehow she'd stolen more than a single kiss.
Jane was irritated.
He'd spent the better part of the last hour trying to decide if going to a team movie-night was a good idea.
It was Van Pelt's doing, of course. He was sure it'd be a perfectly enjoyable evening. That wasn't the problem. The problem was how much he found himself wanting to go.
He wasn't supposed to care that much about social outings. He could take pleasure in them when they arose, but he certainly wasn't supposed to be invested in them in any way. But he was.
He found himself feeling more aware of actively wanting to spend time with his team, his friends. It was becoming distracting. He shouldn't be going to a silly little movie tonight.
He should be staying at the CBI and focussing on the Red John case. Another woman had been killed a few months ago and Jane was no closer to catching the serial killer. He had nothing. Red John was taunting him. He'd made no progress of any kind in months. He needed to ignore all outside distractions and focus on the murderer.
Everything else needed to take a backseat to that.
"You coming to the movie tonight, man?" Rigsby asked as he stood up and got ready to head out for the day.
Jane opened his eyes and glanced around. Cho's expression was indifferent, Van Pelt looked hopeful, and Rigsby friendly. He searched for the familiar fourth pair of eyes before he could stop himself.
And there she was. Lisbon was leaning in the doorway, not looking hopeful but... superior, like she knew he was going to say no and wanted to hear him argue his way out of this one. Like she knew everything he was thinking.
He'd show her.
"Absolutely," Jane said firmly, focusing on Rigsby and Van Pelt's smiles of pleasure. After all, an evening at the cinema might be the perfect thing to clear his head.
Especially if he ignored Lisbon, who now (irritatingly) looked triumphant and quite pleased by this turn of events.
"Great," Rigsby said. "Probably makes sense if we all just carpool there then come back so people can pick up their vehicles. I was gonna take Cho and Van Pelt..."
"I'll take Lisbon, then," Jane interjected smoothly. "No point in all of us cramming uncomfortably into one vehicle."
Rigsby paused before glancing not-so-subtly at his boss. Lisbon just shrugged. She was perfectly comfortable going with Jane.
Seeing that she apparently had no objection Rigsby turned back to Jane. "Okay," he agreed. "So we'll see you there then?"
"Sure," Jane said, standing and stretching. "We'll be right behind you."
The three agents filed out, Van Pelt sending them a little wave Jane shook out his jacket slowly, unsure of exactly how he'd gotten himself into this. How had he ended up volunteering to do what he'd sworn not to let anyone talk him into?
Lisbon's grin was indulgent as she ambled towards him. "Do you even know what movie we're going to see?" she asked.
"Not a clue," he replied, his voice neutral.
"You didn't think to find out first?" Lisbon asked.
"No," Jane replied. "Does it matter?"
"Well," Lisbon drawled. "It is something most people check before accepting an invitation to the movies."
Jane grinned his old familiar smile. "I'm not most people Lisbon," he reminded her.
"I know," she agreed, smiling back. "But there's also another possible reason why you may not have asked."
His smile faltered almost imperceptibly. "And what's that?" he asked with forced lightness.
"You never intended to go in the first place," she answered just as lightly.
"If that was the case then why did I change my mind?" Jane wondered, glad of all the practice he had controlling his facial responses.
"I don't know," Lisbon said with a shrug of her shoulders; Jane caught a hint of her perfume. He knew if he stepped closer he'd be able to feel her body heat. He resisted the urge. "Knowing you it was probably to prove someone else wrong," Lisbon added affectionately. She grinned briefly at his obvious surprise. "Now come on. They'll be waiting for us."
Jane followed obediently, his mind racing. Had she known what she was doing this entire time? Was it possible that she'd played him? He'd have thought not, but her self-satisfied smile told another story. And he was eschewing his attic. Again. Which she liked.
Curse that woman.
He needed to focus. Desperately.
He'd wipe the smile off her face, but their precedent for doing that was a dangerous one. His traitorous imagination was already out of control. Had been ever since he'd gotten a very little taste.
It was bad enough they were going to the movies together.
Now he was being plagued with images of pinning Lisbon against a chair in the back of a darkened theatre. Which was doing nothing to clear his mind. Especially since he knew exactly how warm she'd be in his arms.
It made him so tired of being cold.
And was all her fault.
He was too aware now, too aware of her.
Have you ever noticed that in most tales people, whether villain or hero, only seem to have one real goal? Defeat the witch, slay the dragon, save a loved one, escape death, kill the princess, take over the kingdom, destroy the world, find their one true love. If they do have more than one goal, they're usually so closely related that to achieve one is to achieve the other.
There's a good reason for that.
When your goals are that important, they require all of your focus. If you have two goals, two quests it's inevitable that you become distracted between them. And when a man is distracted at least one of his goals will suffer.
He needs to make up his mind which is more important.
If he doesn't then he may not be focussed enough to achieve either.
Our sorcerer needed to make up his mind.
If he didn't the decision might be taken out of his hands.
Jane was silent.
And Lisbon was frightened.
They walked back to her office after what was possibly the most difficult meeting with Hightower that the two of them had ever had, and over the years they'd had had some doozies.
Lisbon would never forget her boss' expression as she told them the fateful news that the lab results had confirmed that the man that Mike Ramirez had killed just over eight hours ago was in fact Red John, California's worst serial killer. Then he'd taken his own life, after leaving a note explaining that he had nothing to live for.
Not since his wife's murder at least.
It seems another distraught husband had gotten to Red John before Jane could. They weren't sure how Mr. Ramirez had found Red John yet (maybe they'd never know), but it'd happened.
Lisbon would have been relieved but Jane had barely spoken three words since acknowledging the news. Lisbon knew either an explosion or a breakdown was imminent. Luckily word had already gotten around the building so everyone was giving the two of them a wide berth as they walked back to her office.
Suddenly she couldn't take it anymore. "Jane," she whispered, brushing a finger against his arm.
He shook his head and gestured her into her office.
Lisbon walked in obediently. Turning when she reached her desk, she watched him shut the door behind him and take a breath.
"Jane, I can't even..." she said, trying a second time.
"Don't," he hissed. It was all she could do not to recoil at the rancour in his voice.
"Jane," she whispered a third time.
He ignored her. "This is your fault," he said in that same horrible tone.
Lisbon almost feared for her own safety, but she was determined to try to keep him rational. Even if it was almost certainly a losing battle. "How is it..." she started to ask as calmly as possible.
"You knew what I wanted," Jane snarled. "You knew what Red John meant to me. You knew that I needed to get my revenge for my family's death. You knew that that was all that I wanted, all that I was here for. You knew it was basically all I had left."
"You don't mean that," Lisbon whispered desperately.
"You know I do!" Jane said, raising his voice for the first time since their fateful meeting. "I explained to you all about my goals, my plans for revenge. We had several conversations about it, remember? Most of them at your insistence. I thought you were clear where I stood. And now you've stolen it from me. You've taken it. I know you threatened to, but I never actually thought..."
"How?" Lisbon started to ask, understanding why he was angry, but unsure by what twisted logic this was all her fault. Still she tried to keep herself under control. One of them needed to.
"You distracted me!" Jane bit out. He was furious with her. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been so angry at someone. In his mind she was to blame. How could she not be? It'd probably been deliberately done too. She'd used his weaknesses against him before. He was the fool who'd fallen for it. "You distracted me with your plots to make me spend time with the team, to drag me down from the attic so that I couldn't work properly. And you distracted me with your eyes and that damn mind of yours. You tricked me. I know you did. You and your... You were determined to lure me into a trap from the very beginning."
"Because this is all about you?" Lisbon asked angrily. Screw keeping calm. She wasn't about to let him accuse her of ruining his life by trying to stop him from killing a man. "What about me? What about what I wanted? I'm sorry you're upset Jane. I'm sorry you feel like you didn't get closure, but if you think I'm sorry you didn't get to cut up a man in cold blood..."
"Better poor Mike than me, eh?" he asked caustically.
"Better no one!" Lisbon countered. "But that's not an option in this case. You're being selfish."
"That's not the first time you've accused me of that," Jane said menacingly. "It's becoming repetitive."
"As opposed to all your revenge nonsense?" Lisbon shot back.
"And what about you?" Jane wondered, ignoring her. "What about your selfishness? You're relieved because you got exactly what you wanted and I got nothing!"
"You think this is what I wanted?" Lisbon asked in shock. "Don't you dare! Bad enough that you're saying this is my fault. Because I tried to keep you sane and prevent you from committing a felony."
"It is your fault!" Jane insisted, vitriol positively dripping from his voice. "You distracted me from my plans and someone else got there first. Michael Ramirez used the knife that should have been mine. You've stolen my revenge from me. And there's nothing you can do to give it back."
"Jane..." she tried again.
"You can't fix this one Saint Teresa," Jane said scathingly. "What you took can't be repaid." With that Jane violently wrenched open her office door and stormed out of the building without another word to anyone.
Lisbon collapsed onto her couch, unsure whether she wanted to burst into tears of despair or relief.
Our heroine must now reap the consequences of her rashness, of her impulsive theft. Her sorcerer has left her.
He is angry.
She is alone.
Many would say she has done nothing wrong, and they may be right. Who's to judge.
Her actions merely precipitated these events.
Her sorcerer feels angry and betrayed. However misplaced either emotion may be, he is right about one thing: she has stolen his revenge.
Stolen it with a stolen kiss.
And like all thefts, however inadvertent, she must accept the consequences.
She hadn't seen him in over a month.
Hadn't even heard from him. No one has.
Lisbon told herself that it wasn't her fault. That there wasn't anything she could have done. And even if there was, she wouldn't have done anything differently.
Red John was dead and Jane was alive and free to move on with his life, or not, as he saw fit.
She also decided that she had to stop worrying about him. Much as she wanted to, she couldn't always protect him, couldn't keep him safe. She had to live her own life, and he'd made it quite clear how he felt about her... interference.
She even took a two-week vacation to clear her head, get some perspective.
None of it was working. For one, work felt strange now, as much as her team was trying to silently support her so they could all move on.
She couldn't help feeling like she could start to move on if she could only be sure that Jane was alright.
But that was unlikely.
Which meant that it was the perfect time for a mysterious knock on her front door.
Lisbon crossed her apartment quickly, unsure of who could possibly be on the other side.
She got the shock of her life when she checked the peephole.
Taking a breath, she threw open the door. "Jane," she said unable to conceal her shock.
"Lisbon," he replied, his tone neutral, giving nothing away.
"I'm glad you're okay," she said before she could help herself. Jane's only noticeable reaction was when one corner of his mouth quirked up in a smirk, briefly.
"Can I come in?" he asked, not acknowledging her comment.
"Of course," she replied quickly. "Come on in."
Jane walked in confidently, like he owned the place. Lisbon shut the door and turned towards him, telling herself that her nerves were ridiculous. He was the one who'd shown up after no contact for over a month after all.
"Can I get you anything? A drink?" she asked, for lack of something else to say. She certainly wasn't going to be the one to bring up where he'd been, or what he'd been doing. Not after their last conversation. If there was something Jane wanted to say to her he could damn well be the one to start talking.
"No," Jane declined politely. He hadn't taken his eyes off of her since she'd opened her door. "You look good."
"No, I don't," Lisbon shot back. "I've been at work all day and I'm tired." Unfortunately, she couldn't help noticing that he still looked good, as handsome as ever, though she was pretty sure the three-piece suit was new.
"Maybe I meant it was good to see you." Jane clarified. Lisbon wasn't sure what to say to that. "But you do still look good," he told her. "You always do," he murmured as an afterthought.
He walked towards her, causing her to move back towards her door. "Though you're right, you do look tired. Actually, not so much tired, as under extreme stress, worried even."
She gaped at him. "You have some nerve, waltzing in here after a month..."
He grinned. "Why Agent Lisbon, does that mean you were worried about lil' ol' me?"
Lisbon felt her temper rising. Despite the break it seemed Jane was having his usual effect. "You know what Jane? Go to hell. I don't need this..."
"I thought you were glad I was okay?" he asked feigning hurt.
"I am glad you're okay, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to sit here and listen to you rant about how I ruined your life again. How all of this is my fault. I get that you were angry, but I didn't deserve that," she informed him firmly. She'd been over it again and again in her mind, and she always came to the same conclusion, that given the choice she'd to it all over again the same way. Well, okay, maybe she'd have tied him up and made him see sense. But other than that...
"I was angry," Jane agreed readily. "And I've had some time to think."
That surprised her a little. "And?"
"And I've decided I was right that day, you absolutely are to blame for what happened," Jane told her calmly.
Lisbon's mouth dropped open in shock. Then she snapped it shut. "You've got to be kidding! Get out!"
Jane ignored her. "You opened my eyes, distracted me. I couldn't focus on Red John like I needed to."
She stared at him. He'd come all this way to blame her all over again? "You're delusional."
"And your eyes are lovely when you're angry," Jane informed her.
That threw her. "What?"
"I've been wanting to see them for weeks now," he admitted in that same quiet tone. One that Lisbon wasn't so sure was masking anger after all.
"But of course, there was always the issue of your crimes stopping me," he explained, staring at her in disapproval.
Lisbon sighed in frustration and confusion. "My crimes? Jane, why are you here?"
"I'm here for my own little brand of justice," Jane promised her, with a smile full of sinister intentions.
Our heroine had thought she was already paying for her crimes. She'd lost all hope of ever seeing her sorcerer again.
Fortunately, fate had other plans.
After all, leaving our heroine alone was hardly a just punishment for her crime. Not given her motivations at least.
For every check there was a balance. Every crime had to be answered, every theft repaid.
But they had to be repaid in a suitable manner.
Absolute abandonment wasn't an appropriate response to a crime committed to seek a connection.
Happily, our sorcerer agreed.
It just took him a little while to figure that out.
"What?" Lisbon sputtered nervously.
Jane's grin widened. "I had two goals you know," he explained. "Two conflicting goals, unfortunately. I couldn't achieve one while the other existed. You distracted me from achieving one, so I've decided that it's only fair that I succeed in the other."
"I would think that you of all people would understand the drive to go after what you want Lisbon," he said stepping closer. "Successful as you are professionally. And I've decided that I'm not quite as ready to give up on everything as I thought I'd be, even with Red John gone."
"I won't apologize," she told him, unsure of what else to say. Though she was in no way frightened, she was almost trembling.
"Of course not," he agreed smoothly. "Why would you? From your perspective you've done nothing wrong. I can't say that I completely agree with you, but it's occurred to me that if I'd killed Red John, then how would Mike Ramirez feel? Would he feel like I did? Like he'd been robbed? After all, had as much right to kill his wife's murderer as I did. I can't begrudge him that. And I think even I can accept being beaten to my goal by a brother-in-arms. Plus, like I said, this frees me up for goal number two."
Lisbon gasped, and tried to get her heartbeat under control.
"Aren't you going to ask me what my goal is?" Jane asked when she didn't say anything. "After all, if you don't know what I want, how can you help me achieve it?"
"What do you want..."
"I'm not sure I should tell you," Jane growled as he angled his body towards hers, invading her personal space. "Not after your interference last time."
"Jane..." she whispered. "What are you..."
"Doing? D'you remember that time you kissed me?" he asked. "In the attic of the CBI, with no warning?" he whispered.
"Y-es," she admitted slowly.
"You stole that kiss from me Lisbon," he said, his voice hard as he planted a hand near her head. "You didn't ask, and I certainly didn't have a say in the matter."
"I don't seem to recall you complaining at the time," Lisbon muttered, feeling her back hit the door.
"That's not the point. The point is you stole something from me and I demand payback," he said bringing up his other hand up to box her in.
"And you didn't just steal a kiss Lisbon. That was just the start. You took far, far more," he added, moving closer, forcing her further against the door.
But he was ignoring her feeble interruptions, his eyes locked on hers. "Like I said, you split my focus with that kiss. You can't very well pursue a course of murderous revenge if you can't focus, now can you Lisbon?"
She blinked at him.
"Now you owe me," Jane added, before leaning forward and burying his nose in her hair.
"You want... You want a kiss?" Lisbon asked, resisting the urge to lick her lips.
"A kiss?" he asked, against her ear, clearly scandalized by the idea. "After all you took? All the distraction you caused? Not to mention the interest that's accrued on the original kiss. You think one kiss will settle your debt?"
"How many are you asking for then?" she asked, resting her hands on his shoulders for support.
"First of all, I'm not asking," he assured her. "You didn't ask for yours."
"How many?" she gasped as she felt his nose trail along her neck. She arched back and it was followed by his lips.
"All of them," he whispered, before claiming his prize.
She didn't resist. After all, his demands weren't that unreasonable.
Our noble heroine ending up with a sorcerer of questionable moral character? Impossible, you may say, maybe even unacceptable.
This is hardly a typical story.
At least our heroine has learned her lesson. She knows that crime doesn't pay, that it's wrong, that in a fair world nothing good will come of it.
Clearly the world isn't fair though. Because she's not all that upset by the outcome.
She's gotten more from a single stolen kiss than she could have ever predicted.
And she really would have been bored with Prince Charming.
At least this way she'd always have someone to argue with, not to mention someone to protect.
They'll keep each other on their toes.
It'll been a fight to the very end of course, even with the sorcerer's latest demands of our heroine. After all, he was so used to trickery and theft, and who knows how she would have reacted to anything else.
Although, it was debatable whether his demands still counted as stealing if they were something our heroine would have given willingly.
She certainly wasn't about to ask him to find out.
And they lived contrarily ever after.