A/N: Sooo… I have no will power. None whatsoever. And my muse is obviously susceptible to foolish ideas. All of these are varying levels of crack!fic. Well, except the last one, which kind of became something else entirely, and is most of the reason this thing got written at all. Oh, and Chibs, this is for you (except for the one section, which is for Grace). But really, you are the one to blame (mostly).
Five Times Red John got Conveniently Killed Off
Jane was still sharing in shock at the body holding his empty gun, when Lisbon burst onto the roof.
She took one look at the scene in front of her and stalked over to him. "You idiot!" she snapped at him. "You killed him. Just like you always said you would. With your gun, which how in the hell did you get that? Nevermind! It doesn't matter. And now I suppose you want me to cover this up, just fix it for you. Murder. You selfish, stupid, moron!"
"You couldn't even wait until I got here, could you!" she added. "Now what am I supposed to do? Just magically make it go away?"
"Lisbon!" Jane tried again.
"Oh, but what do you care? Not your problem is it? Now I'm stuck with deciding between arresting you or covering this up and jeopardizing my career for you, AGAIN!"
"LISBON!" Jane yelled. "I DIDN'T shoot him."
That finally got her attention.
"What?" she asked in confusion.
"I didn't shoot him," Jane repeated. "I was going to," he admitted honestly. "I tried to actually, but I missed. More than once."
Lisbon almost laughed. "I don't understand," she said after a moment. "If you didn't do this, then how?"
"Would you believe a freak lightning strike?" Jane asked.
"No," Lisbon said honestly.
"Well, too bad, because it's the truth," Jane assured her. "And speaking of lightning, do you think we could have this conversation in the stairwell. I'd really rather not get struck myself."
"Wait, Red John really got struck by lightning?" Lisbon double-checked.
"Yup," Jane agreed, leading her back into the stairwell so they'd be protected from future strikes. "As the autopsy and general lack of bullet holes in his body will eventually bear out. Don't get me wrong Lisbon, I would have shot him. But as it happens I didn't. We are pretty high up you know, and Red John was leaning against the big metal pole over there…"
"The lightning rod?" Lisbon asked, still sounding a little dazed.
"That's the one," Jane agreed. "He was taunting me, you see. I'd just missed again, and run out of bullets this time. So Red John was giving me some sort of version of the evil mastermind monologue, knife held aloft while I got slowly more and more terrified, then BANG! Lightning. It was an act of God, Teresa."
"You don't believe in God," Lisbon murmured.
"I'm considering starting," Jane shot back.
"No you're not,' she said, with a half a smile.
"True," Jane agreed. "But if I was the type to be converted by pure coincidence, I'd be a believer right about now."
Lisbon let out a breath of laughter.
They stood in companionable silence for a minute, watching the rain. "I should call this in," she said eventually.
"Yeah," Jane agreed. "There is still a dead body up here, even if there wasn't a murder."
"You really didn't shoot him," she said softly.
"Nope," Jane confirmed.
Lisbon let out something that sounded suspiciously like a sob before launching herself at him and wrapping her arms around him. "Thank you," she whispered.
"You're welcome, Lisbon," Jane whispered back. "But like I said, I was going to shoot him. Really you should be thanking God, since you do believe in him, or at least thanking the weather. Or maybe Red John's poor choice of places to have a final confrontation during a lightning storm. You'd really think someone like him would have had an alternate venue in case of rain."
"Shut up," she ordered, grinning into his suit.
"Whatever you say," he agreed, wrapping his arms around her in relief.
Red John was thrilled.
You see, even he wasn't completely omnipotent, whatever he wanted people to believe.
Sometimes he had trouble getting things done the way he wanted to get them done.
Complex schemes required complex planning after all. And complex planning required complex materials.
Some things just weren't that readily available, even with his connections.
But all that was in the past now. The ACME Company had changed everything.
Their catalogue had all sorts of useful products. The serial killer was particularly excited about the rocket launcher, but he figured it would be better to start small, with a simple bomb.
It would be a test run really.
He'd work up to the rocket launcher.
His test subject?
One Special Agent Teresa Lisbon; she was the obvious choice.
The woman was becoming problematic. She was too clever by half, and he was growing tired or her intrusions into his grand plan to make Patrick Jane as miserable as possible. She had to go.
(He'd save the rocket launcher for Jane himself, when he finally got sick of their little game of course.)
Luckily, thanks to the fact that Lisbon was a public servant, it was relatively easy to find out where she would be when she was on the job.
This week her team was investigating a case in southern California. She and Patrick had been travelling back and forth between the crime scene and their hotel repeatedly over the past twenty-four hours. The serial killer already knew their route by heart. At one point it took them down a relatively deserted side road, which would be perfect.
He just had to set everything up.
Red John was positively gleeful as he set up the bomb behind a bush on the side of the road and unwound the cord for the plunger which served as a detonator. Good old ACME had thought of everything it seemed.
When he was finished he hid behind a large rock, where he had a perfect view of the road and waited for his target.
He watched as Patrick Jane drove by first in his silly little car. It was tempting to set off the explosion then, but Red John restrained himself until the black SUV was passing.
Grinning maniacally he pushed down on the plunger.
He tried again.
Scratching his head he crept over to where he'd hidden the bomb. As far as he could tell it seemed to be in working order. Nothing was obviously wrong; the thing should have gone off when he'd pushed the plunger.
Then he saw it, the loose connection on the right side. He tightened the wire. There. It should work now. Of course, he'd have to wait until they left their hotel again, and that could be hours. Sitting behind that rock certainly wasn't comfortable.
The serial killer glared back at his plunger, just in time to see a sparrow alight on it, weighing it down.
Red John barely even had time to gulp.
About a half a kilometre down the road two cars stopped abruptly and turned around.
"What the hell happened?" Teresa Lisbon asked as she jumped out of her SUV at the blast site.
"I believe this is what people in the business call an explosion," Jane told her.
"Shut up Jane," she shot back. "I know it was an explosion. I'm just glad no one was hurt."
Jane pointed to a shoe lying in the centre of the road, "I wouldn't be too sure about that."
"I'm calling it in," Lisbon said, taking out her cell phone.
"Good idea," Jane murmured. "There's definitely something strange about this, though I can't put my finger on what exactly."
"Well, if you figure it out let me know," Lisbon said dryly before explaining what had happened to emergency services.
Jane glanced around before a piece of paper stuck in a tree caught his eye. "Lisbon!" he called.
She came running. "What is it?"
Jane gestured to the paper he was holding in his handkerchief, and read it aloud.
"Dear Mr. R. John,
Welcome to the ACME family. We at the ACME Corporation thank you for your business.
We hope the SuperBoom 3000 performs to expectations and meets all of your explosion needs. All products have a 30 day guarantee during which you can get your money back, no questions asked.
We also hope you will consider ACME for any further plans for death and destruction. Next week we're having a special on knife throwers which should appeal to you. Please don't hesitate to notify us of any problems you may have with any of our products.
Your friends at ACME"
The two CBI employees turned towards each other in shock.
"It can't be," Lisbon said slowly. "It's just too…"
"Ridiculous?" Jane suggested.
"For a start," Lisbon agreed.
"The tongue of the shoe we found did have 'RJ' embroidered on the tongue," Jane said slowly.
"Oh. My. God," was all that his boss could say. "You aren't honestly suggesting…"
Jane turned towards her, his expression serious, "So, do you want to be the one to say 'Meep meep,' or shall I?"
She smirked, "As long as we both continue to obey the laws of physics I don't care."
Jane was napping on his couch, well, attempting to nap really, when he heard her approach.
"Jane," Lisbon said softly. "I need to talk to you."
His eyes popped open.
She wasn't angry and she wasn't teasing. She was serious, not upset, but… worried.
Jane sat up immediately. "What is it Teresa?" he asked gently.
She cocked her head to the side. "Let's go talk in my office," was all she said.
Jane followed her, trying not to let himself get too concerned. What on earth could be wrong? He didn't think he'd done anything to jeopardize either of their careers recently. Okay, he had pissed off the mayor during their last case, but that guy had been small potatoes. It couldn't be that. Was she considering a career change? Finally gotten sick of chasing around after him? Or maybe she was taking a leave of absence, or a vacation. Or, or… God she couldn't be sick could she? She had been looking tired lately. He always told her she needed to eat better, but…
No. Just no.
She wasn't sick. He'd have noticed; he was sure of it.
Still, it was with some trepidation that he followed her into her office and closed the door.
Lisbon took a deep breath. "This isn't easy for me to say," she said softly.
"Just rip off the band-aid off, Lisbon," Jane suggested. "Please."
She nodded. "You know that when people die from obscure or outdated diseases usually some sort of investigation is held?"
"Yesss…" Jane said slowly, unsure of where she was going with this, but at least he was fairly confident that Lisbon wasn't about to tell him she was dying.
"Well, sometimes, especially if there's no next of kin, they also go through the person's belongings and their home to look for possible sources of contamination, make sure that the disease won't spread y'know? That and to tie up their estate." Lisbon explained.
"Right," Jane agreed. "Well, that just makes sense."
"Yeah," Lisbon said. "Anyway, they were investigating a case in Southern California the other day, death of a middle-aged man, bit of a loner, no known friends or family, and they found something… interesting."
"Okay," Jane replied, still a bit unsure why she'd felt the need to call him into her office for this conversation. "What'd they find?"
Lisbon handed him a file. "See for yourself."
Jane opened the file and skimmed his contents. As Lisbon had said a middle-aged man from Southern California with no next of kin listed had died. Contents of his house included an extensive knife collection, masks, capes, small vials of blood, memorabilia matching known victims of… Oh.
Jane quickly scanned down to the end of the page. He blinked. Once. Twice. Three times.
He wasn't sure how it was even possible. He wouldn't have believed it, but there were things in the report that would have been impossible to fake otherwise.
Jane looked up at his boss, incredulous. "Seriously?"
He gaped at her. "Red John actually died of dysentery?"
"Alright, let's all just keep calm," Lisbon said slowly.
"Oh trust me," Jonathan Travers, also known as Red John, hissed smoothly. "I'm very calm, Agent Lisbon. I'm always very calm."
"In that case, why don't you put the gun down and we can talk about this," Lisbon suggested, knowing it was futile. Red John was hardly the type to surrender.
The man laughed. "Actually Agent," he said. "I think you should be the one to put your gun down."
"You know that's not going to happen," Lisbon replied calmly.
"I think it will," he countered. "Unless you want your colleague here, your friend," he added, gesturing to Jane, who was standing between them. "To die. Do you want that on your conscience, Agent?"
Lisbon hesitated almost imperceptibly.
Red John smirked from his position a few feet behind Jane, the consultant acting as a human shield separating the two guns pointed at each other. "Ah. I thought not Agent Lisbon. That will always be your weakness you know, you care too much. And as a result, I'm going to get away."
"Just shoot him Lisbon!" Jane ordered.
"Shut up Jane!" she snapped. She had enough on her mind without dealing with her consultant's stupid ideas. She moved to the side, trying to get a better angle on the serial killer.
Red John just mirrored he move, putting Jane directly between them once again.
"Why?" Jane asked. "I don't care if you hit me. As long as he dies. I thought I made my position on that perfectly clear."
"And I thought I made my position on that sort of thinking perfectly clear," Lisbon growled. Damn it. She didn't have a clear shot. Any possible shot was too dangerous, too much chance of hitting her consultant.
"Not to mention Patrick," Red John added. "What happens if she misses and you fall? I have a clear shot, and your law enforcement friend dies when I put a bullet in her head. Which by the way, is also what will happen if you drop of your own accord. Then you could both end up dead since you don't have a weapon and I have more than one bullet. Is that what you want?"
Jane froze. He raised his eyebrows at his partner.
Lisbon shook her head imperceptibly, unsure of what he was thinking of doing. The serial killer was right, at the moment the three of them were caught in a stand-off, but any impulsive attempt of Jane's to end it would almost certainly result in one of the two of them getting shot, if not both. She racked her brain for an idea, and tried again to get a clear shot on the serial killer.
Red John anticipated her and moved around her again, blocking her shot. He continued moving slowly backwards, obviously heading for a car across the street. "You know Agent," he said conversationally. "It strikes me that the two of you getting out of this alive will be more frustrating to Patrick here than just killing him. And my outcome results in what, the three of us alive, that's almost what you want, that's what I want. Not what Patrick wants, I'll grant you, but two out of three is better than nothing, isn't it?"
"Lisbon, just shoot him!" Jane yelled, seriously considering ducking and taking his chances.
"I'm trying!" Lisbon growled, trying to get a shot yet again. "Would you shut up!"
Red John ducked quickly back around Jane, and took another step backwards into the road.
Only to be immediately struck by the bus that had just rounded the corner. Route #52 to be exact.
The driver obviously hadn't anticipated a man suddenly stepping out into the street and so didn't even have time to think about stopping. There was a sickening crunch as the serial killer's body was crushed under the front wheels of the vehicle.
Jane lowered his hands slowly. Turning around in a mixture of confusion and shock, he stared at the scene in front of him, the surprised passengers and the panicked driver who'd already jumped from the vehicle to examine the damage, already stuttering excuses with one hand over her face. The consultant just stared, for once in his life absolutely incapable of saying anything.
He heard Lisbon walk up behind him, already putting her gun away.
"Well," she said after a second. "That was unexpected."
"Yeah," Jane whispered, as he watched her walk over to the bus driver and take charge of the situation.
The normalcy of Lisbon, taking charge, fixing it, soothed him somehow. He knew it would all sink in eventually. He wasn't sure he quite believed it yet, but until then, he'd focus to the familiarity of her.
He took a step closer, and caught the tail end of her conversation to the bus driver.
"No ma'am," Lisbon assured the woman. "I don't think any charges will be pending. Not only do you have witnesses who will testify that the man stepped directly in front of the bus of his own accord, but you've actually killed one of California's most dangerous serial killers who was in the process of threatening the life of two state law enforcement employees. I wouldn't be surprised if they gave you a medal."
"Really?" the woman asked.
"Really," Lisbon told her. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to call this in." She whipped out her cell phone. "Cho? You're never going to believe this, but Red John just got run over by a bus."
Jane dropped to the ground and rested his head against his knees, feeling a sudden desire to laugh. He'd just wait for Lisbon here then. It was simpler. Then maybe she could explain what the hell had just happened.
Lisbon walked into the bullpen. "Jane?" she asked.
"I'm awake," he replied from his place on the couch.
"Local cops down in Monterey think the Springtime Killer's struck again," she told him.
"He's the one who kills three people every spring, one in April, May and June?" Jane double-checked.
"Yup," Lisbon agreed. "This time the vic's a middle-aged loner, lived the neighbourhood for a few years, but originally from out of town. Shot from a distance, sniper, same M.O. as all the others. The victim choice was probably completely random."
"Hm," Jane said. "I thought Sawyer's unit was in charge of that case. They asking us for help?"
"Not exactly," Lisbon hedged.
Jane raised his eyebrows.
"They want us to help ID the victim," she told him. "Actually, more specifically they want you to help identify the victim."
Jane sat up. "Who was he?"
Lisbon checked her notes, "Name was Pete McQuaid."
"Never heard of him," Jane said, shifting back down on his couch.
"They think he might be Red John," Lisbon said gently.
Jane froze. "What?" he asked hollowly.
"Based on some of the things they found in his apartment," Lisbon explained. "Having read the list of the contents I tend to agree, but we figured, since you probably know Red John better than anyone alive…"
"But you're pretty sure," Jane supplied.
"Yeah," Lisbon agreed, unsure of what to say or what was going through her consultant's head.
"I guess they're expecting me, then," was all he said.
Lisbon nodded. "I figured we'd leave right away."
"We?" he asked.
"If you think I'm letting you go by yourself, you're out of your mind," Lisbon told him. "So, we taking my car or yours?"
Jane hesitated. "You should probably drive," he admitted.
"Okay," Lisbon agreed. "Let me just go tell Hightower and then call Cho."
Jane stood up slowly, looking almost fragile. "Lisbon?" he asked.
"Do you really think it's him?" Jane asked.
Lisbon stared at him for a moment. "I hope so," she said eventually, before turning and walking down the hall.
He just watched her go.
Several hours later they were walking out of an unassuming looking bungalow near the coast.
Lisbon was shooting concerned glances at her consultant every few seconds.
"I can't believe it was really him," Jane said after a minute. He'd barely said anything for the entire trip, other than to confirm their suspicions that the dead man was California's most notorious serial killer. Between a letter in the man's will, his photo albums, and various other items in his apartment, they'd been able to confirm his identity, both his identities.
"Yeah," Lisbon agreed. The reality was just starting to sink in for her as well. She could only imagine what Jane was going through.
"He's really dead," Jane repeated. "Just like that, shot by an unknown man who's killed at least seven other people."
"I guess even Red John had the same chance of being killed at random by a serial killer as anyone else," Lisbon said.
Jane nodded. "Well, maybe a little less," he said after a moment. "After all, Red John was unlikely to be killed by himself."
"That's true, I guess," Lisbon acknowledged. She glanced at him again when they got in the SUV. "Jane…"
"I can't talk about it right now, Teresa," he said abruptly. "I just, I can't. I don't…"
"Okay," "she said softly. "It's okay. We'll just drive."
"Thank you," he whispered.
After a second, Jane unexpectedly broke the silence. "Teresa?"
"Thanks for driving me down here," he said softly, staring out the window.
"Of course," she said again.
The rest of the ride back to the CBI was spent mainly in a silence that was only broken when the pair stopped at a drive through to pick up something to eat.
Bu when they reached the CBI, Lisbon had to speak. "I need to go talk to Hightower," she told her consultant softly.
That shook Jane out of his thoughts. "Can I come with you?" he asked, unwilling to let her out of his sight quite yet.
Lisbon looked at him, this strangely docile Jane. He worried her. "Sure," she told him.
"I won't get in the way," Jane added. He wasn't sure why he felt the need to justify himself. All he knew was that he didn't want her to leave. His world had been turned upside down (again) and she was the only stable thing left.
"It's fine Jane," she assured him, placing a hand on his back and leading him towards the elevator.
He nodded and let her lead him, something which did nothing to reassure his boss.
The two of them rode the elevator in a silence that lasted for the entire walk to Hightower's office. The woman in question met them in the hall outside on her way back from another meeting. "Well?" she asked.
Lisbon nodded once.
Hightower sighed and raised a hand to her forehead briefly. "Okay," she said. "Well, that's good news I guess. Lisbon, there are some things we need to talk about, if you want to come into my office."
"Umm…" Lisbon said slowly, glancing at Jane.
He caught it. "It's okay, Teresa," he assured her. "I'll just sit down and wait out here with Rachel," he said, gesturing to Hightower's secretary and attempting to smile.
"Right," Lisbon agreed reluctantly. "Well, I'll just be right in there then."
He almost managed a genuine smile in reply. "I know."
Hightower was watching the two of them intently, but all she said was, "Let us know if you need anything."
The two women walked into the office.
"Well," Hightower said. "I guess we should get the business end of this over with first." She opened a file and the two women started going through the process of closing the Red John case. It didn't take long to go through what needed to be done for all that Red John had been a major case. An unrelated death actually resulted in the least amount of work, paperwork-wise.
When the two women had gone through it all Hightower shut the file decisively. "How is he?" she asked, her tone considerably more sympathetic now that she was discussing her employee and not the details of a serial killer's untimely (but extremely welcome) death.
Lisbon sighed. She'd been expecting the question. "I don't know," she admitted finally. "He's quiet."
Hightower nodded. "And you're worried;" this time it wasn't a question.
"Yeah," Lisbon agreed.
"And how are you?" Hightower asked.
Lisbon met her boss' eyes in surprise. She hadn't been expecting that question. "I'm fine, I guess," she said with a shrug. "I always thought I'd be happier, y'know? If Red John died and Jane somehow managed to be alive at the end of it all…"
Her boss laughed once. "I know what you mean," she admitted.
"I guess I haven't really processed it all yet," Lisbon admitted. "So I can only imagine what Jane's thinking."
"He'll need to take some time off," Hightower told her.
Lisbon opened her mouth, possibly to object, then she realized she wasn't sure what she wanted to say. Somehow sending Jane home, where he'd have nothing to do but sit alone and deal with his own mind seemed like the worst possible idea just then.
Hightower noticed her hesitation and made a guess at its cause. "Maybe you should both take some time off," she suggested, amending her statement.
Lisbon glanced up sharply.
"You and Jane have been working this case for almost ten years, Lisbon," Hightower explained, trying to put the other woman at ease. "You've both lost people. It's affected you both in ways I can't even imagine. Take until the end of the week at least, both of you, and don't make me make it an order."
Lisbon finally nodded. "Thank you, ma'am."
"And good work today, Lisbon," Hightower said.
Lisbon shrugged. "To be honest I don't feel like I did anything."
Hightower smiled at her. "You did."
"Killed by another serial killer," her boss mused. "Never would have predicted that."
"I know," Lisbon agreed as she stood. "Talk about karma."
"You're telling me," Hightower agreed.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. It was Rachel, Hightower's secretary. "Excuse me," she said poking her head in the door. "I was just wondering how long the two of you were going to be. Mr. Jane's getting… well, he's looking a little…"
Lisbon was out the door before the woman could finish her sentence.
Jane was gripping the arms of his chair and taking deep breathes, obviously doing his best to control his breathing.
Lisbon crouched in front of him and put her hand on his arm. "Jane?" she asked. "Jane, it's me. It's Lisbon. Can you look at me, please?"
She rubbed his arm, getting his attention. "Lisbon?" he asked slowly.
"Hi," she said with a small smile. "You okay?"
"Yeah," he agreed, looking around and looking a little more with it. "Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry about that, I just…"
"It's okay," she assured him. "Why don't the two of us go somewhere and talk?" She needed to get him away from people's prying eyes, and as soon as possible.
"You can use my office," Hightower offered. "I need to go meet with Bertram anyway. He wanted to know about the details of your little trip, for obvious reasons."
"Thanks," Lisbon said quietly, leading her consultant into the office she'd left only seconds before.
Jane sat down on Hightower's couch and Lisbon crouched back down in front of him.
"He's really dead," Jane said softly.
"Yeah," Lisbon acknowledged.
She didn't say anything. She didn't know what to say.
"It just feels wrong," Jane said.
"What feels wrong?" Lisbon asked, happy that at least he was talking now.
"Everything," Jane admitted.
Lisbon rubbed a hand up and down his arm, feeling helpless. At least he wasn't almost hyperventilating anymore.
"I was supposed to kill him," Jane said after a minute.
Lisbon shook her head, "No you weren't. I wasn't gonna let you."
"You were gonna try anyway," Jane acknowledged, with a half a smile. "But we both know I was going to get by you in the end."
"In your dreams," she replied with a smirk of her own. It was the first sign of animation she'd seen in him since they'd confirmed Red John's death, so she didn't have the heart to scold him for his idiotic notions about revenge. They were irrelevant now anyway.
Oh God. They were irrelevant now. The surge of relief and joy nearly knocked her off-balance.
"Jane?" she asked tentatively squeezing his arm.
"I know this may not be what you want to hear right now," she told him. "But Red John being dead is a good thing. A very good thing. You should be happy. We should both be happy."
"I just…" Jane hesitated. "I feel like I failed them."
Lisbon closed her eyes briefly. "Jane, you dedicated your life to catching their killer, and to people like him. In no way have you failed. There was nothing you could have done to change what happened, no way you could have known what was going to happen. Call it divine intervention, fate, karma, even coincidence. It's done. Red John is gone."
"I don't know how to feel about that," he told her.
"You will," she assured him. "Someday."
He nodded. "If you say so."
"Would you just listen to me, just this one time?" she asked with a smile.
He smiled back in spite of himself. "We'll see," he said noncommittally. Then something occurred to him. "You said we should both be happy," he reminded her.
"Yeah," she agreed.
"Aren't you happy?" he asked. "I would have thought you'd be doing cartwheels right about now."
She shrugged. "Too worried about my pain in the ass consultant at the moment for that. Maybe later."
He felt a surge of affection for the woman still crouched in front of him. The woman who'd never left. "Lisbon…"
She tugged on his hand and stood up. "Come on," she told him.
"Where are we going?" he asked.
"We've both been given the rest of the week off," she explained.
"Whether we want it or not?" he guessed.
"Pretty much," Lisbon agreed. "But it's not the worst idea Hightower's ever had."
"Right…" Jane said softly, really not looking forward to the idea of going to his empty apartment (or worse, his empty house in Malibu).
"So we are going to stop by my office while I finish the paperwork for the Red John case so I don't have to worry about it all week, during which time you are going to sit on my couch where I can watch you," Lisbon continued. "Or I guess you can lie down if you'd prefer. Then we are going to my apartment where we are going to find something stupid to watch on TV. Or you can just sit on my couch in my apartment if you want, while I watch TV in my bedroom. Or we can talk. If you want to."
Jane stared at her.
"If you think I'm leaving you alone right now, you're crazy," she informed him.
"So, what?" he asked. "You planning on watching me for the rest of the week?"
"Maybe," she told him stubbornly. "I haven't quite got it all planned out yet. I'm working on it, alright?"
Unexpectedly, Jane smiled. He took her hand and squeezed it. "Thank you Lisbon."
"Of course," she said awkwardly. "It's not a problem. I'd just be worried about you all week anyway."
He smiled affectionately, stood, and pulled her into a hug.
He heard her sigh. "I'm slowly becoming really, really glad he's dead, and you're not," she whispered. "I'm glad you didn't get even a chance to kill him."
"I'm glad he's dead, and you're not," Jane whispered back. I'm not sure how I feel about the rest of it, but…" He was. That had been his nightmare, another woman, Lisbon, murdered because of an association with him. Hedidn't know what he'd have done if something had happened to her too.
"Well," Lisbon said, squeezing ever so slightly tighter. "I'm glad you're not dead, so there."
"I wasn't positive I'd be able to kill him," Jane told her. "Figured there was at least a 43% chance you'd be able to stop me."
She chuckled. "You gave me better odds than I did," she admitted.
"Guess it doesn't matter now," he whispered.
"Guess not," she agreed. It didn't. It didn't matter. She kept telling herself that, and the exhilaration she was starting to feel was almost making her uneasy. She bit her lip to stop herself from smiling like an idiot. Jane might not appreciate that quite yet.
He released her. "So what happens after you finish your paperwork?" he asked, deciding to ignore the obvious jubilation on his partner's face. She'd probaly earned it. "We go home, watch old movies all week, take turns doing the cooking, you take exercise breaks and try to convince me to join you, I snoop through your stuff, you yell at me, all the while watching to make sure I'm still sane. Then we come back to work on Monday to fight crime again?"
"Something like that," Lisbon admitted. "I told you, I haven't figured out all the details. Except that I'm not planning on watching you like a hawk all week. I know you're going to need some time alone to… to think. I just thought it might be better… well… I thought you might not want to be alone the whole time..."
"I don't," Jane confirmed, placing a hand on her wrist and stopping her rambling.
"Okay," Lisbon said softly as she opened the door of her boss' office. The two of them began walking towards her own. "Wait, did you say when we come back to work on Monday?"
Jane shrugged. "Well, yeah. I mean, I figured. If that's alright with you."
"Oh, it's fine with me," she assured him. "I just thought, what with Red John dead…"
He smiled gently. "I don't have anything else to do, Teresa. Remember?"
"You might feel differently at the end of a week," she told him. "Or even after that."
"I doubt it," Jane said dismissively.
"If you're sure," she said dubiously, as they approached her office.
"I am," he assured her. "Though I'm beginning to think you're trying to get rid of me," he joked.
Lisbon glanced up at him. "You kidding me?" she asked. "I get the benefits of you consulting on my cases without having to worry about the serial killer revenge thing? That's win-win for me. Kind of ideal actually. I'm just saying that you don't need to feel like you have to stay."
"I'm staying," Jane assured her. She'd stood by him this long, saved his bacon more times than he could count. You couldn't buy that kind of loyalty. He knew he'd never find it anywhere else. She'd always been there when he'd needed her. He wasn't leaving her now. He didn't know much, but that was the one thing he did know.
"Good," she whispered. "I'm glad."
He smiled at her as he settled down onto her couch.
"So, ideal huh?" he asked, the familiar teasing feeling a bit strange, but still comforting. Focussing on her was easier than focussing on the other.
"Shut up," she said with a grin.
"You sure you're not going to regret taking me home with you tonight, Lisbon?" he continued almost playfully. "Letting me into your house, your life? Worried what I might see? I do have my own apartment you know." He didn't want to go to it, but he also didn't want her to feel obligated to take him in and look after him.
She shrugged. "I've been working with you for a while now. I guess I figure there's not much you could find out that'd be worse than what you already know."
"I'm not leaving you alone tonight, Jane," she told him quietly but firmly. "Or tomorrow, or the next day. Not if you don't want me to. Maybe not even if you do want me to."
He met her eyes in relief. "I know," he said after a minute.
"Good," she told him. "Now stop talking so I can get this done, and we can both get out of here."
"Yes ma'am," he said obediently. He was too grateful for her existence to fight with her.
As he settled onto her couch, for the first time since he'd heard the news, he felt like things might be alright.
After all, Lisbon's stubbornness wouldn't allow for anything else.
He shut his eyes and let the sound of her fingers tapping away at her keyboard soothe him.
His misery started and ended by a serial killer.
It was almost poetic.
He might be able to accept that.
At least he hoped so.
Otherwise Lisbon would worry for the rest of her life, and he couldn't have that.