A/N: Alright, here it is. The Epilogue. This is the end. I have no current plans for a sequel as this fic was meant mainly to set up a close friendship and hint at stuff. This chapter takes place directly after 3.01. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks to all my reviewers, including all those who logged in anonymously so I can't thank you individually. I hope you all enjoy the conclusion.
Approximately a month later,
Jane frowned to himself as he walked beside his boss. The Russo case was over. He'd been dragged into it against his will. All Lisbon's fault. It was also over a month since he'd last attended Team bowling night. Lisbon's first. Van Pelt was getting irritated with him for not showing up now. Lisbon was just concerned. And he was still no closer to figuring out how to come to any kind of balance where her team (or Lisbon herself) was concerned. He'd started trying to hide in the attic more often to impose some distance, but she kept coming and dragging him downstairs. Now she was yelling at him about betraying the team and telling him not to worry about protecting her because she could take care of herself. It was irritating. Not just because he liked trying to protect her. Actually, he also secretly liked it when she came up to his attic and hauled him downstairs again.
She was trying to be his friend still. He liked it.
But he couldn't tell her that.
Of course, he couldn't bring himself to leave her alone either. What if she got all depressed and withdrawn again? Wait a minute...
"Lisbon?" Jane asked suddenly.
"Can I ask you question?"
"Sure," she said. "But since when do you ask me permission beforehand?"
"Since you've gotten very argumentative all of a sudden," Jane explained.
"Oh I've gotten very argumentative have I?" Lisbon replied in annoyance. "What about you who randomly provokes our new boss because he sets you off? On television no less."
"Yes, but I've always done that sort of thing," Jane explained airily. "You weren't always this difficult."
"What's your question?" Lisbon asked, deciding to just ignore the rest of his comments in the interests of moving the conversation forward.
"Your speech, about pulling away and shutting people out, how it was a betrayal of the CBI family," Jane started to explain.
"Yeah?" Lisbon prompted when he didn't continue.
"Well, you don't find it at all hypocritical given how you were acting a few months ago," her consultant wondered.
Lisbon scowled. "And look how well that plan worked out for me," she pointed out.
Jane glanced at her.
Lisbon stopped walking and turned to face her consultant. "Look at me Jane. Compare it to me about a month ago."
"You do look happier," Jane said slowly.
"So the logical conclusion is…" she trailed off.
Jane sighed. "Lisbon…"
"I'm not gonna let you do what I almost did Jane," Lisbon told him. "I know what that's like."
"I'm dangerous," he reminded her. "It's not safe."
"And I keep three guns in my car, remember?" she asked. "I'm a cop Jane. Don't you dare try and protect me."
"Sheep Dip to my protection?" Jane asked with a half a grin.
"Damn straight," she said with a toss of her hair.
Jane smiled. Then he sighed, "Lisbon…"
"You said you wanted to be friends Jane," Lisbon reminded him. "You were the one who said that means I could talk to you when things were bothering me. Well, if you really want to be friends that whole talking to each other thing has to work both ways."
Jane paused. He nodded. "Quite right Lisbon," he said eventually. "I hadn't considered that."
"No kidding," Lisbon muttered.
"So who was your Lisbon?" Jane asked.
"Who pulled you aside and gave you your speech about loyalty and betrayal?" he asked.
She smirked. "An old friend."
Jane raised his eyebrows.
"Bosco," she admitted finally.
"Ah," Jane nodded. "Well that makes sense."
"It does," she agreed. "Now come on."
"Where we going?" the consultant asked curiously.
"It's a surprise," Lisbon told him.
"Yeah, well, is this another personal favour?" he asked. "Because I didn't really like the last one."
"Would you drop that?" Lisbon practically growled. "I already said that I wouldn't lie to you ever again."
Jane shrugged. "It does make life interesting when you do," he admitted. "And I suspect I put you in a bit of a tough spot."
Lisbon didn't answer. "This isn't a favour," she told him after a minute. "We're not going to meet anyone."
"Oh! A special private outing," Jane said cheerfully. "I'm assuming to cheer me up. Now where would you take me?" he asked rhetorically. "The fair? No, you'd be too afraid of what I might do. You'd never go for something so traditional as the movies. And I don't like all those sports games you watch to relax… I'm going to go with food. A snack. I'm right aren't I?"
"You suck the fun right out of everything don't you?" she asked indulgently. "What makes you think I'm not just taking you to a park for some peace and quiet?"
"I suppose it's a possibility. Or it would have been before you suggested it." When she rolled her eyes Jane explained. "The fact that you suggested it almost certainly rules it out as our true destination. Your concern for my health rules out a lot of the fun alternatives when it comes to food."
"You need to exercise more," Lisbon told him.
"Got down to that trash can before you could stop me," Jane reminded her. "I had to get over that wall too."
"I didn't want to stop you," she said dryly. "If you want to go disturb a ransom demand and almost get yourself shot…"
Jane waved a hand in her direction. "Meh. If you thought I was in any real danger you'd have tackled me before I got even halfway there," he told her confidently.
"Proving that I'm in much better shape than you are," Lisbon said with a grin.
"Tea?" Jane said, guessing their mystery location.
"Well, you can get tea if you like," Lisbon told him.
"Meaning that while they serve tea there it's not the primary object," Jane said softly. "I'm just going to guess the entire way Lisbon. Are you craving a bear claw?"
Lisbon sighed and gave in. "God you're irritating," she muttered. "I thought we could go for chocolate chip muffins is all. Now you comin'?" she snapped.
Jane stopped walking abruptly.
Lisbon turned. "Jane?" she asked.
Her consultant hesitated. "Lisbon can I give you that hug now? I'd mean it this time," he told her seriously.
Lisbon stared at him warily for a moment. Then her posture softened, and she stepped towards him and wrapped her arms around his waist. After a half a second Jane reciprocated, and pulled her close. Lisbon smiled when she felt his grip tighten. "No more hiding alone in the attic?" she asked softly.
"I like the attic," he countered as he pulled back slightly, unwilling to completely surrender both his argument and the brief physical comfort. "Gives me time to think. But I promise to try and come down more often."
"Okay," Lisbon said, perfectly willing to accept the compromise. "And you're coming to team bowling night. Van Pelt's still upset that you missed the last two."
Jane grinned, "Do you and Van Pelt still want a cheerleader?"
"Your pom-poms are waiting," Lisbon promised. Abruptly she stepped away from him. "Now come on. I'm getting hungry."
Jane smiled as he fell in step beside her. After a minute he spoke. "You're not going to try and sneak me a low-fat muffin or something?" he asked.
"No," Lisbon said in frustration.
"I think you're lying," Jane informed her.
"I'm not lying," she told him, her tone slightly irritated.
Jane grinned and continued to wind her up, "You say that, but you've started a trend now Lisbon and…"
"Still carrying a gun Jane," she warned him.
"With more in the car," he said with a nod. "I remember." He considered that fact for a moment, "I don't suppose we could walk to get these muffins."
"If you want," Lisbon agreed. "You could certainly use the exercise."
Jane's expression turned indignant. "You tricked me into this didn't you?"
"You're getting paranoid," Lisbon replied dryly.
"I'm not," Jane insisted. "I'm shaken by this new manipulative Lisbon. How can I be sure what to think?"
"Hazard of friendship Jane," she told him remorselessly. "I'm learning how to keep up with you."
"Well that should make things interesting," Jane said after a moment.
"Yup," his boss agreed.
"Lisbon?" Jane asked after a moment.
"Yeah?" she said.
Jane paused. "You ever read any Blake?" he asked quietly.
"A bit in college," she admitted, glancing at him curiously. "Why?"
"Because one of these days I think you and I might have to have a discussion about poetry," Jane explained.
Lisbon nodded, apparently taking the response for what it was. "Okay."
He wasn't ready to talk yet, but maybe someday. It was still unbelievably dangerous, but he was beginning to get the feeling that she'd find out somehow anyway, whether he wanted to her or not.
Maybe it was time to consider working together a little.
As a compromise.