Fractures of Reality

Disclaimer: Don't own anything. Lyrics by INXS.

Rating: M (for sex and language).

Spoiler: 2.23.

A/N: This story is a bit of a mind bender chronologically, but it takes place right after the season two finale. This is canon, except for one caveat. J/L are involved and this is the third installment in my established season two series. It follows "Something in Between" and "Dancing on the Precipice".

This story would not have been possible without my Big Bang cheerleader Macavity, who despite her real life responsibilities always checked in and motivated me. I would also like to thank hardly loquacious, Chibi, and Afterglow for their unwavering support through what turned out to be a very painstaking process and finally to forthecoast, who is the Yin to my Yang and without whose quick editing job, I would never have made it on time. I love you ladies :).

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Part I: lost for words

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"If I could just be
Everything and everyone to you
This life would just be so easy..."

Present Day

He wakes to the faint sound of his cell phone vibrating, but instead of searching for it to silence the irritating noise, Jane simply rolls over, wincing slightly as a sliver of light hits him square in the face.

Judging by the orange hue of the sunlight cutting through the missing blinds, he can tell that it's nearing evening, but he makes no attempt to rise. The phone buzzes again, this time signaling a text message. Jane slides his hand into his inside jacket pocket and instinctively silences the ringer. He doesn't need to look at the display to know who is trying to contact him, and even though each time he doesn't answer the pressure in his chest increases, he does nothing to alleviate the ache. In fact, he welcomes it as a form of penance for everything he's done (and hasn't done) lately.

He turns on his side and towards the wall, blocking out the dimming rays of sunlight that signal a semblance of life. His eyes instinctively flicker up, just skimming the edge of the permanent scarlet caricature, the one he sees even when he closes his eyes. As the last few days have made apparent, it serves as a continual reminder of everything he has lost and everything he still continues to lose.

He's so deeply connected to his past, to this room and everything it represents, that sometimes he swears he can smell the metallic scent of blood if he concentrates hard enough, regardless of where he is. However, there is one place as of late where that theory doesn't uphold. But Jane wills himself not to think about it, about her, because as recent events have indicated, he should have never let himself cross that line.

He should have never let them happen, regardless of how much he wanted it, because it isn't just about him anymore. He could handle the duality of searching for his family's murderer while being with someone who was so against the idea. He could handle her disapproval and even her attempts at changing his mind, at trying to show him that he wasn't beyond redemption. But it's so far beyond that now.

Because now it's about her safety, and Jane knows that if anything, anything at all, were to happen to her on his account, it would break him completely. And in doing so, it would destroy any remaining shred of faith he may have in the good in this world.

Oh no, he isn't naïve. He stopped believing in anything beyond his abilities a long time ago; not exactly cynical, but realistic nonetheless. However, Teresa Lisbon is a rarity and Jane knows it. He's aware that being in love can certainly cloud one's judgment, but even before discovering those feelings in himself and admitting them to her, Jane had known the type of person Lisbon is. He may not be a person of faith, but has marveled at Lisbon's ability to believe. Most importantly, he admires her still believing in him despite everything he's vowed to do and all the turmoil he's caused her.

Yes, he's known all of that about Teresa Lisbon long before he let her kiss him outside his apartment building that night. He knows that ultimately it's those qualities about her, the ones he lacks in himself, that attracted him to her. It's her refusal to give up on him that made him fall in love with her, but now he finds himself facing a difficult decision. If he doesn't push her away, doesn't distance himself from her, those very qualities may be her undoing.

Because if there's one thing Red John has made clear by kidnapping Kristina Frye, someone who got mistakenly dragged into this out of Jane's selfish desire to prove her a fraud, it's that this game between them is no longer just about Jane. And he refuses to let Lisbon be collateral damage. He won't do that to her; he can't.

Yet just as quickly as he decides this, the last few weeks pass like a kaleidoscope of images through his mind weakening his resolve almost the moment he finds it. He'd thought that by being the one she turns to for comfort and a sliver of levity amidst the chaos that is her job, he could extract some content for himself, a shred of peace that he's denied himself for seven years now. It seemed even more perfect when they'd established boundaries, an unspoken rule between them that worked incredibly well for months.

Except Jane hadn't counted on the surge of fear and desperation that overwhelmed him when Lisbon had called him for help from the Harrington estate. He also hadn't expected the overwhelming sense of relief upon hearing her voice, or the flood of emotion that nearly crippled him upon realizing he could have really lost her.

And he most certainly hadn't anticipated falling in love with her or having her reciprocate his feelings as readily as she did. Despite everything that's happened and where he is now, Jane feels himself smiling. His lips curve upward of their own accord as he remembers fondly the way she'd smiled at him almost shyly, green eyes shining from beneath thick, dark lashes as she leaned up and kissed him when he'd told her how he felt.

She never said it back, but Jane knew then and knows now that she feels the same. Lying in this barren room that holds the ties to his past, he lets himself indulge momentarily in the faint recollection of her lips pressed to his, the smell of cinnamon and vanilla engulfing his senses as she slid against him.

But then he opens his eyes and comes face to face with the image that precipitates all of his nightmares, and just like that, thoughts of Lisbon and her warmth disintegrate, splintering like delicate glass in his mind's eye.

The blood has faded over time but the impact remains the same. It reminds Jane now as it has many times before the reason why he comes here in the first place. Why he refuses to sell this house, even though most of its sentimental value has been destroyed and all the possessions that mean something are tucked away in a storage locker two blocks from his apartment in Sacramento.

No, he doesn't come here to escape, to remember where his daughter took her first steps or where his wife spent hours playing the beautiful piano he'd bought her with his first big pay out. He comes here to remind himself of his plans, of the promise he made to his family, one he's further than ever from achieving.

He doesn't let himself think about how helpless and enraged he felt being tied to that chair while Red John taunted him, knowing the killer could end his life if he wanted to in an instant. Instead, Jane thinks about the fact that he is still alive and what that means. He may be more confused than ever, not entirely certain as to why the serial killer let him live, but he knows he's not going to waste this chance.

He can't.

Because Jane knows that as with all good things in life, one doesn't get third or fourth chances at revenge either and he has to make this one count. He will.

Shifting his eyes away from the wall, Jane rolls onto his back, groping the unwashed comforter for the poetry book he brought with him. The moment he opens it to the desired page however, his cell phone interrupts again. This time it's a beep signaling a new voicemail, one of many he's racked up since coming here this afternoon. There's only one person who would contact him so frequently, and the knowledge only tightens the knot in his chest because it reminds him of just how much she's compromised for him.

Lisbon would never call him so often unless she was worried, wouldn't betray her cool and calm exterior unless she really felt something was wrong, and it's only now that he realizes how selfish his actions have been, how he has barely considered her feelings in all of this.

Although, he'd been the one strapped to a chair, helpless against his arch nemesis, she'd been the one frantically searching for him. She'd been the one to break down the door of that run down hotel, and she'd been the one who tore through the saran wrap with shaky hands, attempting to control her emotions as the gravity of the situation dawned on her.

She'd rescued him…again.

And here he was, disappeared in the middle of the day and not answering his phone. Momentarily, Jane rationalizes that Lisbon must know where he's gone, but it doesn't lessen the guilt. Instead, it amplifies it, and this time the urgency propels him forward until pushes himself off the bed and walks across the room to the door.

He knows he'll have plenty of time to think on everything as he makes the long trek back to Sacramento, including what Red John's actions mean, what his grand plan is, and how Jane will combat it.

But he can't deny that the quiet desperation with which he locks the door to his house (his past) and walks briskly to his Citroën are fueled by the image of Lisbon staring at him in relief as she rips the saran wrap from his body.

And not for the first time since he awoke this afternoon, Jane reflects on what a difference two weeks can make…

xxx

Two weeks ago

"Jane."

"Hmm."

"You're staring." She informs him, propping one eye open as her lips curve into a lazy smile.

"How observant of you, agent." He teases her back, sliding one finger luxuriously down her arm while placing an opened mouthed kiss to the shoulder closest to him. The slight swipe of his tongue gives way to a line of goose bumps across her collarbone.

He's on his side, pressed against her as she lies on her back, and he grins wider when he feels the slight escalation of her pulse as he kisses along her neck. He wraps his arm around her waist, surreptitiously pulling the comforter down to her hips, giving him free reign to explore the soft skin of her stomach, mapping out each freckle and curve as though this is the first time he'd had the opportunity.

In a way, Jane thinks this kind of is like their first time together. He knows they've been skirting around each other for months, hiding behind this unorthodox arrangement, afraid to admit that there was something else going on between them. And even though he figured he'd have a bit more time to ruminate on the issue, figure out how this could even work between them given all the baggage they both had (especially him), he doesn't regret the spontaneity of it all.

He doesn't regret pulling her aside after they closed the Harrington case last night, and telling her they needed to talk. He doesn't regret dragging her away from an evening of paperwork to his apartment and telling her how he truly feels as soon as they stepped through the door.

Jane doesn't remember the last time he was honestly nervous about something, but as they took the elevator to his floor, the unfamiliar churning of anxiety snuck up on him and he decided he wasn't going to wait. He hadn't thought things through at all, hadn't even wondered what her response would be, relying on his keen observational skills to steer him in the right direction.

And even though in that moment of silence right after he let the words tumble out into the space between them and Lisbon hadn't said a single word, he did feel an inkling of doubt, it disappeared the moment her lips landed on his.

If Jane is honest with himself, he hasn't had a coherent thought since, every faculty of his entirely consumed by the raven haired woman lying beneath him. Her eyes are like dark green beacons, reeling him in until there's not a centimeter of space between them.

Her sharp intake of breath as he covers the skin of her breast with his palm only spurs Jane on. He slides down the length of the bed, pressing his lips to her sternum, shuddering involuntarily as she threads her fingers through his hair.

"You do know we have to get up for work in an hour, right?"

"Mhm."

Jane doesn't abate, instead he continues to tease her, fingers sliding along the curve of her hip as he kisses the underside of her breast, a bit inebriated from the softness of her skin.

"And that I still have to drive home and change."

"Mhm."

Lisbon feels him smile against her skin and decides it's futile to negotiate at this point. So instead of trying to stop him, she gently pulls on his curls until he looks up at her, his day old stubble lightly scratching her torso as he looks up at her with eyes that are far too lively and alert for five in the morning.

"You're incorrigible, you know that?"

"Meh."

She's not exactly sure how one can shrug while in Jane's current position, but somehow he manages, raising one shoulder and tilting his head at her. "I've been called worse, by you nonetheless," he adds, then pulls himself up until they're face to face.

There's a witty retort on the tip of her tongue, but all Lisbon manages is a low chuckle as Jane's eyes grow dark to navy, sending a shiver of anticipation down to her very toes. Her hands slide from his hair down his spine, the smile fading from her lips as she feels him harden, bodies almost perfectly aligned, hip against hip.

Once she catches her breath though, Lisbon can't resist goading him and leans up to press a chaste kiss along his jaw before saying, "I'm sorry for that comment, then. What I actually meant to say is that you're insatiable."

Jane pretends to be offended for a moment but before Lisbon can claim her victory, he leans in, whispering, "Can you blame me?" against her ear before pulling her into a kiss.

She welcomes it, rising off the pillow to meet his lips, the need for foreplay quickly vanishing as his tongue traces her lower lip and slips inside her mouth. His lips brush against hers in a way that leaves her completely unaware of everything around her except Jane and the way he's pinning her down to the bed, finding his way between her thighs, wasting absolutely no time.

Last night had been about exploration, about taking the time to rediscover each other without the pretense of it being just sex hovering over them, but right now, right now it's about pure need and desire. When Jane abandons her lips in favor of her breast, Lisbon doesn't stifle the moan rising from deep within her as he runs his tongue over her roused flesh. Her hands again find themselves entwined in his hair as she pushes him closer against her, so enamored by the feel of his lips and tongue and his teeth on her skin that she isn't even aware of the fingers skirting up her inner thigh until she feels them slip inside her with absolutely no resistance.

Her breath hitches in her throat as warmth bursts suddenly to all her nerve endings. Jane watches as Lisbon shuts her eyes, biting the side of her lip as he curls his fingers in just the right spot. Through the haze of arousal, Jane thinks he may not last if she keeps making these noises and unconsciously rubbing her foot against his calf.

Eventually Lisbon stops moving, instead wraps her leg around his as she searches for some leverage, a way to ride out the immense pleasure blooming inside her. Every muscle in her body feels like its on fire, and she feels the first inkling of her orgasm approaching as Jane's fingers slide over her clit.

Instinctively, Lisbon arches against his hand, tightening her grasp on his hair as Jane draws maddening circles around her sensitive flesh. His pace is unyielding, teasing her with the promise of so much more but refusing to let her reach the pinnacle. She doesn't suppress the growl of frustration that falls past her lips as she opens his eyes to find Jane watching her with a dark, lust-filled gaze.

She knows by the amusement dancing in his eyes that he's nearly expecting her to beg him, but she won't. She doesn't want games or extended foreplay, she just wants him. The thought should scare her because it's not just a physical desire anymore. If she's honest with herself, it hasn't been just that for months now, probably even before they first slept together and agreed to such a precarious arrangement. But after last night, hearing him say the same things that have been swirling in her mind for weeks now and sharing her fears and elation has made Lisbon less terrified of this change between them.

Perhaps she's even a little excited about the prospect of having a real relationship, despite all the obstacles standing in their way. It's a novel feeling for someone who has treaded carefully most of her life, walking a path of professionalism and composure only occasionally interspersed with bursts of excitement and spontaneity. If she weren't otherwise preoccupied at the moment, Lisbon would surely smirk at the realization that of all her impulsive detours, Patrick Jane must be the most insane and reckless one. But the loving way he presses his lips to her cheek while continuing to stroke her makes all coherent thoughts disappear from her mind, reducing her focus only to this moment and nothing else.

Desire guiding her movements, Lisbon slips her hand between their bodies, fingers gliding down smooth, hardened flesh until they reach their destination. Her lips curve into an unwitting and triumphant smile as she feels Jane spasm against her touch, biting gently into the skin below her ear as he speeds up his own ministrations.

Lisbon matches his pace with ease, dissolving them into one intertwined mess of shaking limbs; the rustling of sheets and escalating breaths the only sounds in the room. However it doesn't last for too long. At some point, Jane braces himself on his free arm and leans back to meet Lisbon's gaze. All it takes is one glance between them, a silent agreement for Jane to pull both her arms over her head and slide into her warmth.

Unconsciously, Lisbon grabs onto Jane's hand, their fingers intertwining in the circle of her dark curls, splayed across the pillow. Her knees bend slightly, feet planted firmly on the mattress if only to gain some stability against the frenzy building inside her. She doesn't stop moving though, back arching off the bed as she angles her hips against his, precipitating a string of moans from him that seem to reverberate through her entire body.

Each time Lisbon moves beneath him, Jane feels himself losing just a bit more control, his thrusts becoming more frenetic, unrestrained. Everything from the way her soft breasts press into his chest to the way his name spills effortlessly and so seductively from her lips leaves him nearly powerless against the pressure building in the pit of his stomach. The tension between them steadily rises until he can feel every ridge and curve inside her, senses attuned to every moan and every movement of her body as she writhes beneath him.

He's so incredibly lost in the feel of her surrounding him, Jane doesn't even realize how close she is until she trains her eyes on him and pulls one hand free to dig into the skin of his shoulder. Pain, however, is the last thing on his mind. The sensation of her tightening around him trumps anything else he may be feeling and it's enough to snap the last shred of his willpower. All he can do before the dam breaks is tilt her chin towards him and capture her lips, her mouth absorbing his moans.

Lisbon responds in kind, curling her hand around his neck to deepen their embrace, every nerve ending in her body splintering against the tidal wave of pleasure crashing over her. Her legs wind around Jane's hips, holding him as close as possible as they shudder together until the pressure dissipates.

Some time later, despite Lisbon's protests, Jane slides onto his back, and almost instinctually, she curls into his side, sliding her leg in between his as he wraps his arm around her waist. They lie in silence for a while, hands tracing indistinct patterns on cooling skin until Lisbon hazards a glance at the ancient alarm clock sitting on Jane's nightstand.

"Damn," she murmurs, resting her forehead against his shoulder before looking up at him.

"Hmm?"

Lisbon smirks at Jane's indifference, aware that he probably knows why she's annoyed but just doesn't care.

"I really do have to be at work in about an hour."

"Oh c'mon. Give yourself a break, woman. We solved a case last night, quite successfully if I may say so. You don't need to come in at the crack of dawn just one time." Jane slides down to face her, turning unto his side; presumably to convince her to stay in bed a little longer.

"Oh yea? And who's going to do all the paperwork, you?" Lisbon asks, the slight curve of her lip betraying her amusement.

Jane pretends to contemplate for a moment before conceding, "I guess you're right." He pauses for a moment, then adds, "Well, better get a move on then," before giving Lisbon a slight nudge off the bed.

"Hey," she exclaims, swatting his arm away as she holds the comforter to her chest. "Keep talking like that and you'll be spending your nights alone," she threatens, but Jane doesn't seem to heed her warning. Instead he pulls her towards him and catches her lips in a chaste kiss.

He slides his hand into her hair, fingering the soft chestnut strands as Lisbon runs her tongue along his lower lip. However, Jane doesn't let it escalate, certain that Lisbon will be less than pleased if she is actually late to work.

He pulls back reluctantly, only to find her looking at him with an intensity he hasn't seen before, forest green gaze revealing a vulnerability that she rarely exposes. Jane doesn't need any further indication to know that whatever she says next will be important.

"I know I didn't say anything last night, but I hope you know I do feel the same. I think I have for a while."

The shyness in her tone only disarms him further, warmth that he hasn't felt in far too long swells inside him and Jane reaches up, unable to resist running his thumb across her cheek.

"I know you do," he whispers back, not tearing his eyes away from her. He knows exactly how difficult it must be for her to open up to someone, especially him and he doesn't take it for granted, hanging on every word.

"And I do. I want to try this with you, I just, I need you to promise me something."

"Anything."

The words tumble from his mouth before he has a chance to contemplate what she could be asking, but staring into her eyes, Jane suddenly realizes that he's almost certain that whatever she requires, he will try his hardest to make it happen. He isn't sure if Lisbon believes him, but she doesn't break their gaze, pursing her lips together for a moment before taking a deep breath.

"I want you to be able to talk to me. The only way that this can work is if you don't push me away."

This time, there's no timidity in her voice, no uncertainty, words only betraying a secret need for reassurance. To know he's right here with her because it's the only way she can see them happening, given everything that awaits them outside this room.

He realizes that she hasn't just thought this through, she's already committed herself to him, to making this work. Thoughts of bloody caricatures and dead bodies and taunting serial killers disappear momentarily as Jane loses himself in this revelation and he can't help pulling Lisbon impossibly closer, burying his nose in her hair as he whispers in her ear.

"I promise."

xxx