Yes, so I am jumping on the bandwagon and have written a Christmas fic!
You are about to find out what happened when I mixed festive cheer with a desire to write Jisbon fluff. I really wanted to do a story for Christmas, but try and avoid the mistletoe and Secret Santa routes and have a go at something different. This is what I came up with.
Warning: Fluffy times ahead. No angst here!
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, nor do I own the Mentalist. I don't own the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I don't know who does, but I am 100% certain it is not me.
I hope you enjoy!
High-pitched, inhuman shrieks.
Small coloured lights flashing on and off at a rate almost guaranteed to give people seizures.
But all these things were not features of some horrific nightmare, but rather, something far, far worse.
The CBI annual Christmas Party. The one night a year when Cyber Crimes did vodka shots with Armed Robbery, Narcotics chatted cheerfully with Fraud and Senior Agents in Charge mingled with the janitors, frantically racking their brains to try and remember their names, a task made harder by the fact that their sight perception was hindered by alcohol. The one night a year where all employees of the California Bureau of Investigation put aside their differences and their egos, in the spirit of promoting goodwill to all.
Well, at least that was the theory.
Usually how it actually panned out was another matter altogether. Early in the evening, people stood around in their little clusters, never straying far from their own units, except to go back to the bar for another stiff drink, sliding their eyes towards the clock on the wall counting down the minutes until the torture was over.
As the alcohol supplies began to degenerate, so too did any propriety of the gathered CBI employees. People started to mingle, and then the trouble really started. Misunderstandings and rivalries of the year past, fuelled by too many cocktails were brought into sharp relief, and where things might go from there was anybody's guess.
The worst so far had been at the 2006 Christmas Party when David Cooper from Accounting punched James Burns from Organized Crime so hard he went through a plate-glass window after discovering that both of them were conducting torrid affairs with Elisha Henshall, Agent Minelli's secretary. Of course, nobody could have picked that the saga would take another turn when Maria Flores from the mailroom claimed that she was having an affair with Elisha too. For such a plain woman, Elisha sure got around. Needless to say, a few weeks after the fateful night, Elisha resigned.
Every year, Teresa Lisbon searched in vain for some excuse not to attend the party. She considered feigning illness, going out of town to visit one of her brothers, or once, simply barricading herself in her office and refusing to come out until the dreaded event was over.
But of course, every year, propelled by a sense of duty she greatly resented (particularly around the holidays) she found herself standing in the same rented hall, in the same black evening gown she dug out for every formal and semi-formal event she was ever invited to (except for this year, thanks to Van Pelt's ministrations), clutching a glass of champagne, and praying for the end.
The rest of the year, she was tough, no-nonsense Agent Lisbon, to always be respected, and not to be messed with but on Christmas party night, she became just that chick from Serious Crimes who nobody wanted to talk to except her team, leading people to wonder if she didn't offer her agents and consultant a little extra money to pretend they were her friends for the night.
Lisbon wouldn't have minded this so much if it hadn't prompted various members of the bureau to take pity on her, thereby forcing her to endure several uncomfortable minutes of conversation with a person she thought she might have encountered in the elevator once, who chattered away like she was their oldest friend in the world.
Of course, there were only four people in the room whose company she in any way desired. Kimball Cho, Grace Van Pelt, Wayne Rigsby and (though she hated to admit it) Patrick Jane, her faithful team, all of whom had been just as irritated about having to attend as she was, although, admittedly dealing with it rather better.
Cho perched on a barstool, occasionally gesturing to the bartender to give him another beer, seemingly perfectly comfortable with being by himself. Though it would have been nearly impossible to tell, his ever-present poker face never faltering.
Rigsby, waltzing awkwardly with a young brunette woman from the front desk, who had timidly asked him to dance with her, and whom he had been too polite to refuse. Lisbon felt her lips curve into a smile. That was Rigsby all over, always the gentleman, though she thought he might want to flick his eyes over to the left side of the room a little less, if he wanted to avoid embarrassing questions.
She followed Rigsby's gaze and wasn't in the least surprised to see it was aimed at Van Pelt, chatting animatedly with several people Lisbon didn't recognise. She at least, seemed to be enjoying herself as she and her companions dissolved into jovial laughter. It was good to see at least one of her team members making the best of the situation.
A series of loud gasps from the centre of the room drew Lisbon's attention and she turned to investigate the source of the noise. She took back her previous thought. Two of her team were apparently quite at ease with the situation. Her consultant, Patrick Jane, was holding a bevy of women spellbound as he told an anecdote, which apparently required emphasis by much twirling of his hands. He grinned around at his captive audience, caught sight of Lisbon watching him over their heads, caught her eye, and winked.
Lisbon saw the woman closest to Jane apparently misinterpreting the wink as being for her, become almost catatonic with excitement and have to be dragged away to the ladies' room by her friend. Lisbon rolled her eyes as they disappeared through the door. What was it about Jane that seemed to turn the most sensible women into complete, giggling idiots?
Not that she could claim to be totally immune to his various, and considerable charms. She'd be lying if she said she hadn't ever been tempted to run her hands through those curls, and yes, her heart rate had an annoying habit of speeding up dramatically whenever he shot her one of those smiles that she wouldn't be surprised if they had the ability to melt ice. But despite all this, she was glad that to date, she had never become a simpering mess in his presence. Sure, he might catch her off-guard every now and again and her witty retorts might take slightly longer to form in her mind then usual, but they always came in the end.
She'd only be in real trouble if one day, she couldn't come up with her usual biting comeback. Then she'd know she was in too deep.
She prayed that day would never come.
Once the crowd around him had dispersed, Jane was finally able to get a clear view of Lisbon, drawn far back from the action, practically giving new meaning to the term 'wallflower.' It never ceased to amaze him how cool, confident Teresa Lisbon seemed so out of her depth in social situations. It was the only time he ever saw her take a back seat in anything.
He couldn't imagine why. Tonight, she had eschewed her traditional black gown at Van Pelt's insistence that she 'try something a little more Christmassy.' Jane knew that Lisbon had not been thrilled with this plan, but had decided to comply out of a desire to pacify her young agent. Jane had badgered her at work all day for her to tell him what she was wearing, but she had steadfastly refused over and over, eventually closing the conversation by grabbing a handful of paperclips, and pelting him with them until he ran from her office, in search of cover.
So he hadn't been fully prepared for it when she'd made her entrance into the room. Clad in a deep green cocktail dress, showing off just the right amount of cleavage and hugging her curves, her cross pendant in it's usual pride of place, she was breathtaking. And indeed, it had taken a few attempts for him to manage to inhale and exhale in the usual rhythm.
Rigsby, who had been standing with him, had humorously offered to pick his jaw up off the floor for him, as the beautiful siren that was his boss made her way self-consciously over to them. Luckily, he had regained the power of speech by the time she joined them (and he made sure to pay Rigsby back in kind later, when Van Pelt arrived.) Unluckily, the only words he could come up with somewhat lacked in originality.
"Oh, hey Lisbon."
"Hey Jane. Rigsby, new tux?"
"Nope. Just last year's one, freshly dry cleaned."
Rigsby grinned. "Thanks boss. You look great, by the way."
She smiled at the compliment, but Jane noticed her nervously smoothing down the skirt. "Thanks," she said.
"Hey what about me?" Jane protested, cursing Rigsby for taking up Lisbon's precious attention. Didn't he know that this was supposed to be their time now?
"What about you?" asked Lisbon, snidely.
"Well, nobody's bothered to compliment me on my fabulous attire. I'm feeling left out."
She looked him up and down, and sighed. "You're wearing a three-piece suit, same as every day. Am I supposed to be bowled over by your ingenuity and diverse clothing range?"
"Come on, Lisbon. It's a brand new suit," he whined. "I've never worn this one before."
"Well how the hell do you expect me to know that?" she asked. "It looks exactly the same as all the others."
"Look it's not about the suit. It's about being polite."
"Polite? I've been here less than two minutes and you've already pissed me off. And for all your carrying on, I'll point out that you haven't said anything nice to me either."
She thought she'd won the argument, he could tell. She always got that self-satisfied look on her face when she thought she'd got one over him. Well, she had better think again.
"I didn't think you'd want me to say it in front of Rigsby," he replied coolly. "But since you insisted: you look beautiful."
Rigsby snorted with laughter, and Lisbon immediately flushed scarlet. Jane gave himself one point on his mental scorecard, as she tried to splutter out a response. Seemingly unable to find one, she mumbled something about getting a drink, and made a beeline for the bar.
Rigsby clapped Jane on the shoulder. "Nice one, man." He went on to say something else, but it seemed like pointless babble to Jane, who had checked out of the conversation the instant he'd noticed the great things the clingy material of her dress did for her ass as she walked.
She dressed so conservatively at work, it was always a treat to see her all dolled up like this. She was a beautiful woman; she ought to use it more.
The most amazing thing about it though, was that she had genuinely had no idea of the splash she caused with the male population of the room. Rookie agents had been pushing each other towards her all night, all apparently too nervous to go over and ask her to dance. Tristan Shedren, second-rate agent, and general office sleaze, had sidled up to her near the end of the first hour, and Jane had been pleased to see her knock him back in one sentence. She was far too good for any of these mere mortals here tonight. And he knew she had far too much integrity to ever hook up with someone at an office party, but even that wasn't enough to keep away the little flash of anger whenever someone else came near her.
Lisbon bolted down her sixth glass of champagne without stopping for oxygen. An experienced tequila drinker, the weak champagne barely touched the sides, but she kept drinking in order to have something to do with her hands, and more importantly, her mouth, so there'd be less chance of her putting her foot in it again like with Jane earlier. Really, she should have learned by now never to get overconfident when Jane was concerned, it always came back to bite her on the ass.
The night wore on. She watched as Ben LeMarche from Narcotics staggered out into the garden and proceeded to empty the contents of his stomach into a clump of bushes and she cringed as the entire Organized Crime unit sang an incredibly out-of-tune and off-key rendition of 'Jingle Bells' which quickly morphed from the traditional lyrics to the repulsively juvenile "Jingle bells, Batman smells…" Really, she wondered, as the eight men fell about laughing, clutching one another, were these the kind of people who should be trusted with deadly weapons? She had to laugh however, when Agent Hightower shrieked as her hair got entangled in a string of low-hanging Christmas lights.
To her satisfaction, her team (even, surprisingly, Jane) had conducted themselves responsibly the whole night. Cho had come to find her after a while and gruffly asked her if she wanted to dance. After two songs with Cho, she danced with Phil Morrison, a good-natured, happily married man from the mailroom, who haltingly complimented her on her dress, before she was claimed by Rigsby for another few songs (made slightly difficult by their dramatic difference in heights, though this effect was somewhat negated by her high heels.) The whole time, she'd been secretly half-hoping that Jane might come over and ask her to dance too, but though he often caught her eye, and smiled at her, he never did. She took it as small consolation that he didn't dance with anybody else either, despite the fact that women kept standing hopefully next to him so as to prompt an invitation.
Another boring hour passed. She watched a little sadly as Rigsby and Van Pelt shuffled around the dance floor together, both looking as if there were nowhere else they'd rather be than with each other. If only Hightower hadn't interfered, they wouldn't both be hurting like this. Of course, they would have done better not to be together in the first place but as Lisbon knew all too well, people couldn't help whom they fell for.
She took a sip from yet another flute of champagne, and started as a hand landed on her shoulder. She whipped around at lightning speed to find Jane standing behind her.
"How many's that now?" he asked, pointing the glass. "Seven?"
"Is it helping?"
"Not even close."
He laughed, and his eyes gleamed mischievously.
"Let's get out of here," he said.
"What?" she asked, not sure if she'd heard it right.
"Let's go," he said, and the grin seemed to double in size. "You and me, right now, let's get out of this place and go somewhere together."
"What makes you think I'd want to go anywhere with you?" she said, though not entirely convincingly.
"Oh come on, nobody'll even notice we're gone. We can go get a drink somewhere, a real drink. You know you want to," he added, persuasively.
While she tried to keep her face stern, Lisbon liked the idea more with every passing moment. Having Jane all to herself for hours on end? Most of the other women here would kill for the chance.
"But…the others," she protested.
"They're grown-ups, they'll be fine. Now stop making excuses and come on!" He held out a hand.
Lisbon furtively looked around the room. Nobody was taking any notice of them. She turned back to Jane, looking hopefully at her with her hand outstretched. She certainly didn't want to stay at this stupid party any longer. And it was Christmas, after all. Maybe she should have a little fun.
"Oh what the hell?" she said, slipping her hand into his and letting her pull her out the door.
Half an hour later, they were closeted in a small pub near Jane's house. There were few other patrons and a radio was playing soft Christmas carols in the background. They sat side by side in a booth, each nursing a drink.
"I've never been here before," said Lisbon, looking around. "I never knew this place existed."
Jane smiled. "That's why I like it here. It's never crowded or too noisy. It's a really good place to sit and unwind."
"Do you come here often?"
"Yeah. Whenever I need to think."
"Think about what?"
"Everything, I guess," said Jane evasively, and Lisbon decided not to press the topic.
The bartender, a tall man with ears that stuck out at the sides, paused by their table.
"Top you off, Patrick?" he offered, holding up a bottle.
Jane shook his head, and the other man shrugged.
"For you ma'am?" he asked Lisbon.
"Not just yet thanks."
The bartender shrugged again.
"Suit yourself. Patrick!" he said, turning to Jane again. "I think you should introduce me to your friend."
Jane smiled again. "Of course. This is Pete, the bartender and owner," he informed Lisbon. "And Pete, this is Teresa."
As she reached over to shake hands, Lisbon let Jane's words sink in. Not Lisbon. Not Agent Lisbon. Teresa. Just Teresa.
She kind of liked the way he said her name, it sounded how she imagined melting chocolate would.
"Pleasure, Teresa," said Pete, pleasantly. "But what's a fine woman like you doing with a guy like him?" he asked jokingly, jerking a finger in Jane's direction.
"It's a problem I have. I'm just drawn to hopeless cases."
Pete chuckled heartily at this, and then turned to Jane again. "Oh, I like her," he said. "Hold onto that one Jane. You don't find one like her every day."
"Amen to that," said Jane, and Pete left.
Jane wasn't sure what it was that had made him bring Lisbon here, to one of his favourite haunts. It kind of felt like he was giving away a trade secret, some more knowledge that she could use against him in the future. But there was a strange, unexplained feeling inside him that made him think he could trust her not to do that. In his eyes, he had not brought Teresa Lisbon, his boss, to the pub tonight. He had brought Teresa Lisbon, his friend. His gorgeous, funny, smart, brave friend who he'd been having distinctly non friend-like (and certainly non boss-like) feelings for over the course of the last few months. A friend he could depend on no matter what, and who sat beside him now, sipping her drink, totally unaware of just how beautiful she was. Something about that just made her even more alluring to him. It was true humility, something that just couldn't be faked, and something she possessed in ample supply.
There was a dull clunk as she put her empty glass down on the table and her hand accidentally brushed against his as she reached for a napkin in order to clean up a tiny bit that had been spilled.
It was like receiving an electric shock. And instantly he knew, he wanted to touch her again.
"Do you want to dance?" he asked, the words spilling out before he could stop them.
"Yeah, you know that thing when you move around to music? It's really catching on."
She raised her eyebrows at him and he grinned.
"Sorry. I just figured, since we didn't get to do it at the party…."
"Don't worry, it's just us and Pete here. Nobody's going to see."
"I'm not embarrassed to be seen with you, if that's what you're thinking."
"Then what's the problem then?"
"I can't explain it. It's just…complicated."
"Complicated?" It was his turn to raise his eyebrows at her. "You, me and the music," he said. "Seems pretty straightforward to me."
"You know that's not what I meant."
"Here," he said, bravely reaching over and taking her hand, rejoicing when she didn't pull it back. "Just follow my lead."
She knew it was a bad idea. She knew she was going to regret this in the morning. But she still let him pull her out of her seat and into his arms, as the stereo began a new song with a slow tempo.
I really can't stay
(But baby it's cold outside.)
I've got to go away.
(But baby it's cold outside.)
This evening has been…
(Been hoping that you'd drop by)
So very nice.
(I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice…)
They were as close as two people could physically get without melding together into one. They held each other so tightly it was as if they feared the other might somehow evaporate if they let go. She didn't think she'd ever in her whole life ever felt so wanted as she did right now. It was like all their issues, Red John, the CBI, Hightower, had all melted away and her mind was miraculously clear, allowing her to fully enjoy this moment.
My mother will start to worry
(Beautiful, what's your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor.
(Listen to the fireplace roar.)
So really, I'd better scurry.
(Beautiful, please don't hurry.)
But maybe just half a drink more?
(Put some records on while I pour.)
"In case you're wondering," he whispered quietly from somewhere above her (for she'd settled her head on his shoulder and her eyes were closed.) "I've been wanting to dance with you all night. The only reason I didn't ask you sooner was because I knew we'd get interrupted and I really wanted it to count."
"Hey, you heard what Pete said. A guy like me doesn't run across a woman like you every day. Can't afford to blow it, have to get it right the first time."
She opened her eyes and looked up at him. "Thanks?" she said, questioningly.
"I meant it as a compliment," he said, chuckling.
I simply must go.
(But baby, it's cold outside.)
The answer is no.
(But baby, it's cold outside.)
"I've always liked this song," said Lisbon.
"Really?" asked Jane, surprised. "You never struck me as the type to like love songs."
"And what music did you expect me to like?" she asked, with interest.
Jane shrugged. "I don't know. Hard rock, death metal…."
She snorted, and lifted her head from his shoulder so she could shake it in disbelief.
"You know, for a mentalist, you really need to get a clue."
"Well come on, tell me then."
She shook her head again. "Uh-uh. No way smartass. You work it out."
He chuckled again.
I got to get home.
(Baby, you'll freeze out there.)
Say, lend me a comb?
(It's up to your knees out there.)
You've really been nice.
(I thrilled when you touched my hand)
But don't you see?
(How could you do this thing to me?)
There's bound to be talk tomorrow.
(Think of my life-long sorrow)
"There'll absolutely be talk tomorrow," said Lisbon, worriedly. "Once people put two and two together. We're going to be this year's scandal Jane. You know that, right?'
"But nothing happened."
"Doesn't matter. Trust me the damage will have been done. Oh this is so humiliating…"
"We'll worry about it tomorrow," he said. "Shh, you're ruining the moment."
I really can't stay.
(Oh, but it's cold outside!)
The song ended, and they reluctantly let each other go. Jane put a finger under Lisbon's chin and tilted her face upwards, then leaned in and gave her a quick, chaste kiss on the lips. They smiled at each other.
"Do you want to come back to my place?" he asked.
"What? No! No way!" Lisbon jumped backwards from him as though she'd been electrocuted.
Laughing, Jane shook his head.
"Not like that!" he chuckled. "Get your mind out of the gutter, woman. What I meant was that we're both too drunk to drive, and my place is right around the corner. Do you want stay with me tonight? You can have my bed…I'll take the couch."
"No, I'm not kicking you out of your bed, I'll take the couch."
"Teresa," he said firmly. "If you come to stay, you take the bed. That's non-negotiable. Guests don't sleep on the couch."
Now that she thought about it, her head was feeling kind of funny, and everything was a little blurry. Maybe it would be wise to sleep it off a little.
"You sure you don't mind?" she asked.
"But tomorrow's Christmas Day."
"Even better. I can give you your present then."
"But I don't have yours with me."
He shrugged. "Give it to me later. Just having someone else at home with me on Christmas morning will be enough of a present." He smiled warmly at her.
"OK," she agreed.
"Shall we get going?"
To her surprise, he shrugged out of his jacket and handed it to her.
"Put that on," he said.
"What for?" she asked. "We're not even going that far!"
"I know," he said. "But baby, it's cold outside."
There was silence for a minute as he waited to see how she would react. She laughed a little, and thrust the jacket back at him.
"I'll cope," she said. "Besides, this is California, not Alaska. And anyway, you look like you need it more than me. Can't put on your whole suave act with chattering teeth, can you?"
"Lisbon may I remind you that you are wearing a cocktail dress?" he said calmly. "It was warm at the party and in here but outside you are going to be cold. Not to mention you have to negotiate the sidewalk in those shoes. Please, as a personal favour to me, will you put it on?"
"Fine," she said grumpily and did as he asked. "But I'm only doing this for you, you know. You owe me one."
Rolling his eyes, Jane opened the door and led her out into the night.
I have no idea if it actually snows in California or not. I just used the song because I think it's romantic and not as an indication of snowfall in California! Sorry if it's inaccurate!
Hope you liked it!
Happy Holidays to all!