Fractures of Reality
Disclaimer: Don't own anything. Lyrics still by INXS.
Rating: M (for sex and language).
A/N: I am SO sorry for the late update but real life and my other story got in the way and I forgot to post this up earlier. I want to thank everyone to read and reviewed this, but particularly Afterglow, who has been an amazing supporter of this story and has only encouraged me in my writing. Also, as always thanks to my amazing beta, forthecoast. There's a reason why I think she should charge money for her editing services ;).
Part III: on the mend
"We will make time stop for the two of us
Make time stop and listen for our sighs…"
She doesn't notice him right away. Instead, it's the familiar pair of scuffed brown shoes that alerts her to his presence. Lisbon rests her head against the doorframe for a moment in an attempt to understand what she's feeling, but except for the mild relief at seeing that he is okay, the rest of her emotions are unclear.
It's only when he rises off the couch and stretches leisurely as if nothing is wrong that Lisbon finally realizes exactly what she's feeling.
The surge of anger comes suddenly, but in a way, she's been expecting it. After all, she'd sent him numerous text messages, left voice mails, acted completely out of character just to make sure that he was okay, and this was how he responded?
"So good of you to break into my place again." She tries to keep the bitterness out of her tone, but given Jane's nonchalant expression, she is unsuccessful.
Instead of waiting for a response however, she drops her purse by the door and walks into the kitchen, deciding that she will not disrupt her usual after-work routine for him.
Jane follows her of course, but she ignores him, peering into the half stocked refrigerator for the leftovers she's been looking forward to since she skipped lunch that afternoon.
"I didn't want to go back to the office and risk being glared at by Hightower, so I just came here and decided to wait for you. I hope that's okay." His voice is almost apologetic. Lisbon knows that if she hazards a glance in his direction, he'll have his most endearing mask on, the one designed to mollify anyone who may be displeased with him.
But she's not ready to let go of her anger, and she doesn't want to be seduced by his blue eyes and heart melting smile.
So instead, she pulls out the plastic container and closes the refrigerator door with more force than necessary. She makes it to the counter before her ire gets the best of her.
"Okay?" she grits through her teeth, popping the top off and depositing the dish into the microwave. "No it's not okay."
She punches in the numbers and turns around to finally look at him. The first thing that comes to mind is that he looks incredibly lost. He's wearing the same suit he wore yesterday, and there is about two days' worth of stubble on his chin, but it's his eyes and posture that really get to her.
He's looking at her, but his stare is almost blank while he all but sags against the archway into her kitchen. For the first time today, Lisbon is once again confronted with the physical ramifications of what happened in that motel four days ago.
Still, it's not enough to allay her indignation. Instead of walking up to him and pulling him into her arms like she finds herself wanting to do with every passing moment, Lisbon merely folds her arms over her torso and fixes him with a narrowed stare.
"It's not okay, Jane and you know why."
He shifts his gaze away from her, somewhere past her right shoulder and merely shrugs. "I'm sorry, but I had to get away."
He glances back at her briefly, and it's enough confirmation that he's neither sincere in his apology nor is he attempting to hide it. Lisbon feels another surge of anger, this one settling deep in her bones, spurring her frustration.
Still, she is nothing if not logical and levelheaded and she gives herself a moment to calm down, relying on her dwindling reserve of patience to help her through this.
"I understand that," she says evenly, keeping her breathing as steady as possible. "But you should have called, Jane."
She's not sure whether he's surprised by how mildly she's reacting ,but eventually he takes a step forward and nods in agreement. "I know I should have called."
And it's in this moment that her patience runs out and she feels herself loosing a grip on her composure. The fact that he makes no attempts at explaining himself or even coming up with excuses only infuriates her more and she casts her gaze down, refusing to be reeled in by his magnetic blue gaze.
She doesn't want to ask him, but a part of her is eternally optimistic that one of these days perhaps he won't disappoint her, that maybe he really will have an explanation for some of the things he does.
"Why didn't you then?" She asks quietly, and the words hang suspended in the silence between them long enough for her to lose the tiny shred of hope she had. Jane seems to be slightly bewildered by her straightforward question, and even though seeing him speechless is a rarity, Lisbon doesn't stay long enough to enjoy it.
"Yeah, I figured," She murmurs under her breath before pushing herself off the counter. "I'm going upstairs to change. When I come down, you better not be here."
He stands so still in the middle of her kitchen that Lisbon doesn't expect him to block her way, but when she feels his touch, she stops immediately. It's just the press of two fingers on her upper arm, but it's enough to halt her movement. Regardless of how deep her anger goes, she doesn't want to have him leave so she can spend the night oscillating between sulking and worrying about him. In the depths of her heart, behind all the hurt and rage, she wants to forgive him, wants to be there for him. In a way, that's what makes it so hard.
"In all our years of working together, I've withstood you lying to me, going behind my back, angering suspects, aggravating my boss, and leaving me with mountains of paperwork, and I never asked you for anything. When you told me how you felt, I asked you to make me one promise and you broke it."
Lisbon tries not to flinch at the effect her words have on Jane, determined to tell him exactly how she feels before she loses the courage to do so. Without tearing her eyes away from his, she adds, "How am I supposed to have faith in whatever this is between us if at the first sign of danger, I can't even count on you to keep your word?"
Jane still doesn't say anything, but he narrows his eyes at her, and she can feel his breath escalate, especially when she steps away from him. She doesn't make it past the entryway to her kitchen when she hears him behind her.
"It's not that simple, Teresa."
And whatever patience and resolve and grace she thought she had seems to dissolve in an instant.
"Not that simple?" she repeats, voice rising. "All you had to do, Jane, was pick up the damn phone and tell me that you were safe. What could be easier than that?"
It takes her by surprise when he suddenly moves out of the kitchen and comes toward her as if some unknown force has pushed him into action. By the time he enters the living room, coming to stand directly in front of her, his eyes are bright, his carefully constructed mask slipping dangerously.
"What if I had called you and he'd figure out somehow that we're involved? What if he realized where you lived or where you get your morning coffee? Don't you realize that by being in contact with me, your life is at risk?"
A cold shiver runs down her spine as she absorbs Jane's words. She feels both ashamed and annoyed by this, because a part of her hadn't even considered that Red John would be influencing Jane so deeply. But in retrospect it makes perfect sense that he would be afraid to call her when he'd just experienced an encounter with such a dangerous man, the same one who took his family and dozens of other lives.
Still, the other part of her can't help but be irritated that Jane doesn't have enough faith in her to protect herself. "You wouldn't have put my life in danger with one phone call, Jane."
She also wants to tell him that his very presence in her home defies his own logic, but she's afraid that he hasn't quite figured it out himself yet and if he realizes it, he may actually leave. Selfishly, that's the last thing she wants right now.
Jane exhales in frustration as he steps away from her, running his hand through his hair before looking at her again. "You don't get it, do you?"
"No," Lisbon spits back at him, irritation once again takes precedence as she watches him pace the room like a caged animal. "Why don't you enlighten me."
Jane stops at her sarcastic tone. For a moment, she feels guilty for it, but it's fleeting. When approaches her again, this time with more resolve in his movements, she faces him head on.
"Having Kristina disappear is one thing. It's my fault, but I can deal with it. I can find ways to rationalize it regardless of how guilty I feel-…"
Lisbon attempts to cut him off, annoyed that he keeps forgetting that even if his hunch had turned out to be incredibly wrong, the self-proclaimed psychic was still arrogant enough to repeat Jane's most egregious mistake. But he doesn't let her talk, placing a solitary finger against her lips.
Normally, Lisbon would shove his hand away, but something in the way he looks at her stops her from doing so. With every passing second, a bit more of his mask disappears, and he's finally standing before her fully exposed, fear and vulnerability mixing uncomfortably in his eyes.
"But if I lose you. If something happens to you…"
His voice tapers off, and Lisbon immediately feels a tug on her heart when she realizes that the idea of her getting hurt is so painful that he can't even say it out loud. She knows she shouldn't be so yielding and most importantly, she knows this doesn't solve anything, but before she can talk herself out of it, her hand slides to his lap, fingers interlacing with his.
"Nothing will happen to me, Patrick."
"You don't know that," Jane counters, attempting to push her away, but she can see that he doesn't really want to and she hangs on, squeezing his hand tightly as he takes an exhausting breath.
"I do." Lisbon asserts, setting aside her own feelings to drive the point home. "I'm a cop, remember? I can protect myself."
He looks at her then, ready to rebut, but he doesn't dare bring up Bosco or the three other perfectly capable CBI agents who died at the bidding of Red John and never even saw it coming. Instead, he glances down at their hands and runs his thumb over her knuckles, a habit Lisbon has kept track of ever since he started doing it.
"I want to do right by you, Teresa, I do. And you know how I feel about you, but what happened changes everything. I've already lost my family once; I can't bear to lose it again."
She's never considered herself an overly sentimental person, at least not in relationships, but to hear Jane of all people refer to her as family triggers something inside her. Lisbon stands up, situating herself between Jane's parted legs as she cradles his head between her palms, willing him to look at her.
"You won't lose me, Patrick."
"You can't ensure that, especially not with me around," he counters, catching her a little off guard with the defeated look in his eye. Yet regardless of what Jane chooses to believe at the moment, the very fact that he's here, finally opening up to her, lifts a tremendous weight off her shoulders, relieving the ache she's carried with her for days now. And despite the precariousness of their situation and the knowledge that Jane might actually be right, for the first time since she arrived home, Lisbon feels an acute sense of comfort and hope renewed.
If there's one thing she's learned from years in law enforcement, it is that small victories are not to be taken for granted. The fact that Jane is safe and willingly came to her, even after his numerous attempts to push her away, is not something Lisbon will overlook. So she runs her thumb across his cheek and lets her lips curve into a rueful smile as she meets his eye.
"You're right. I can't guarantee it, but I promise to try, okay?"
She's not sure whether Jane actually nods because he believes her or if it's just the exhaustion finally catching up to him. But either way, as he wraps his arms around her and buries his face in her neck, she simply returns the embrace, running her fingers through his curls in what she hopes to be a soothing gesture.
She's not naïve by any means. She knows that night in the motel changed everything, not just between them but for the entire Red John case. Lisbon is also aware that she may never know exactly what went down between the two men. However, there are a few truths of which she is certain. One is that despite his flaws, Jane cares for her, cares enough to consider her family, to ignore his instincts and show up at her door.
And the second is that unlike others, Lisbon seldom makes promises, but when she does, she will do anything to keep them.
And not even Red John has the power to take that away from her.