Title - Gabriel

Author - Kourion

Summary: That look of pining, of yearning - I've seen it before. His gaze, always so saddened. But now, there's a different emotion muddled up in his eyes. A tenderness that makes me think that, despite everything, we might just be alright.

A/N: what prompts a one shot whilst I'm in the middle of a move, marathon training, and double-time work? The end music from the season 2 finale of The Mentalist, that's what. Blake Neely is a genius (imho), and his music never fails to elicit within me a feeling akin to... pain. Watching Jane, underneath the bloody smiley face, and that music? Stab me in the heart why don't you, Neely. Jeesh.


"At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one's lost self." - Brendan Francis


/what was then/


The first time I felt it, Jane was eating chocolate almond biscotti, debating with Van Pelt in the SCU's kitchenette about how God was, of course, a figment of her imagination.

Coming into the tail end of the conversation, I didn't catch much, but I heard Grace's slight rebuttal as I prepared a fresh pot of coffee and divvied up the remainder of my meager and thoughtlessly packed 'lunch' - sectioning off a portion of the peanut butter energy bar with a dull, plastic knife.

"Pshaww, Grace. Show me a person who actually hears the voice of God, and I'll show you a schizophrenic. Possibly an epileptic during an auric phase. I'm open minded, after all."

The woman rolled her eyes, scraped last bit of remnant sugar up with her spoon.

"A lot of people talk to God, Jane. You're going to tell me that everyone who talks to God is crazy?"

Jane, I noticed (and not without a good dollop of amusement) had the slightest bit of melted chocolate on the corner of his mouth. It made him suddenly seem childlike - moreso, really - and I resisted the typical do unto others impulse that would have informed him of this fact, smirking as I drank my coffee.

"But does he ever talk back to you, Grace? That's what I want to know. I mean, a sweet young woman like yourself? Why would God give you, of all people, the cold shoulder?"

"God doesn't have to present himself as a giant booming voice inside my head, Jane. I know God exists, because I've felt him. I feel him all around me, everyday. In everything."

Jane bit off a corner of biscotti then, and for a few seconds all I could hear were the crunching noises he made as he chewed up his treat.

"So God's in the skies and the rivers and the clouds...?," he mumbled, his mouth half full of cookie. "That's what you mean? God's in my biscotti biscuit? That's just sense impression, Gracie. Tasty sense impression," he finished, brushing his hands palm to palm to rid himself of errant crumbs.

"Come on, Jane. You never get the feeling that, oh I dunno, there is something higher than yourself out there? Or, I mean, what about evil?"

Jane's small smile belied the spark of awareness in his eyes, even as he remained silent.

"Well, how can you reconcile the existence of evil without something...to offset evil?," Grace pressed, "Something equally powerful, but good?"

Jane's fingers did a little dance of irritation on the formica coffee table, his mouth still pursed into something warm, but his eyes rapidly hardening.

"So God is this...equally powerful good thing, offsetting evil? Forgive me if I don't fall for this argument hook, line and sinker."

His eyes, rather than holding pain, remembrance, or anything of the past shone with an angered intensity instead. Not towards Van Pelt, no. The look triggered, I suspect, by the suggestion that there could be a God, and that God could be good.

And something else - some hard to categorize, hard to define emotion. Pain would have been too ill-descriptive a word.

I've felt pain.

A considerable amount of it in my life, with physical pain being the least of my concerns. A deep, sobering pain that made me wallow in the confines of my bedroom as a preteen. Stare at the band posters of Duran Duran that I had tacked up with my typical impulsivity, if the slantedness of the glossy faces staring back at me were any tell. I remember just gazing into the eyes of the paper men, and trying to determine why they were even there, crookedly, in my room. My whole space now...slanted. Off kilter.

Nonsensical.

Shock can do weird things to the mind, of course, and weird things it did; I recall picking up my worn rabbit doll (given to me by a maternal aunt, then estranged from the family).

Hoppity, his name was.

All worn, with the pilly, grungy look of a beloved stuffed animal that should have been chucked into the washing machine with a liberal addition of bleach a couple years back.

But in my shock, I can recall staring at Hoppity and not even recognizing him. Not really recognizing my shelves, my books, my baseball trophies obtained during elementary school years playing little league.

And that's how everything felt on the day my mother died.

Strange. Disjointed.

Unreal.

Things I'd known - people too - suddenly seemed unfamiliar.

Sort of like that game you play as a kid...where you take a random word, say - mittens - and you repeat it 100 times in succession, as quickly as you can? Know that one? And by the end of it (if your mind is anything like mine, that is) you'll say the word and realize that it feels bizare on your tongue. That rather than seeming more familiar, more understandable, it suddenly sounds alien. An impossible word. One you don't really know at all. One you don't really get.

Or maybe, you'll find yourself brushing your hair - catching sight of your reflection in the long expanse of a vertical mirror, and suddenly, terrifyingly - you don't recognize your own appearance. Some distant little voice pips up, 'that's you' - or 'hello, there', but the normal, everyday YOU has taken a long hiatus, and the image staring back at you feels foreign.

That was the feeling I got for the briefest period of time when I caught Jane's expression - caught sight of his eyes, and the look within them - on that day. The day I caught the anger simmering away in those ofttimes cool, blue eyes.

Anger towards God...

Anger, but something else, too...

And it wasn't until my brother Gabbie's funeral years later, while he clasped my hands in the middle of the eulogy, that I recognized that look again - at first so hard to categorize, so hard to place...

And then, suddenly, solidly it clicked.

Yearning.

Patrick Jane was yearning for something. Something powerful. Something that made his eyes go distant, and his hands clench mine with a pressure that was almost too much to bear.

And while I thought, at the time, that he was trying to ground me, or keep me from crying, I think there may have been more to it, now.

He was yearning for connection. He was missing...God, his family? - I wasn't sure.

Something he desperately ached to find.


/what is now/


Tommy doesn't live in Chicago anymore.

But James, our eldest brother, still does. What's more - he seems more than happy to have Jane stay with the family. He has, after all, a "perfectly sound guest room." And I knew before I even arrived that I'd probably just end up bunking in one of the kids' rooms, anyway - happy for the distraction of a niece or nephew to keep me rooted in control - and not attacked by painful memories of my lost brother.

Which is fine. It really is. Maybe it won't be too bad, with Jane here. He had been uncharacteristically well behaved (silent almost) when meeting my younger brothers earlier when he had given each a resolute handshake - and his soft, nodded acknowledgement when they had made his aquaintance.

Actually, he has spent most of the funeral overseeing my youngest niece, Clara.

Clara is loudly inquisitive - her raven black ringlets bouncing about as she squeaks out questions. Questions like when she can speak to Uncle Gabbie. 'Why is he in the box, Auntie Tree?' Or if she can 'PLEASE give him the monkey painting?' that she has made him (and had crumpled up in her jacket, folded messily). And Jane, God bless him, has managed to keep her high pitched questions from distracting the minister, thus far.

"But I made Uncle Gabbie a monkey picture! I want to give it to him! He likes monkeys," Clara starts to complain again, growing restless. She has, after all, sat quietly through the earlier proceedings. Relatively quietly for a three year old, anyway.

Finn, at six, is the opposite of his sister: unusually well behaved and composed, and he eyes her warily now. He's old enough to understand that his Uncle is, in fact, dead. So my brother alternates between trying to calm his youngest by gently shushing her (which never worked in our family. not with Lisbon females, at any rate) and brokenly trying to explain that Uncle Gabriel couldn't really take her monkey picture, lovely though that sentiment was. That he was 'dead, Clare-bear', and dead meant 'forever.'

Forever doesn't seem to be a concept that Clara really understands all that well: she'll nod quite sincerely only to squirm several moments later as Tommy - who is giving the eulogy - waveringly mentions something about Gabriel that Clara can fondly recall. And then her excitement to talk to him, right now!, starts all over again.

"But maybe he'll wanna come back if he sees it! Maybe he won't be so sad anymore, Daddy. I'm just gonna go give it to him!," she squeaks out impatiently, annoyed that she can't just amble on over to the coffin and knock on the lid - her stubborness all so classic Lisbon-ness, that I would laugh if the circumstances weren't so tragic.

"Shush, Clara. I won't be telling you again," my brother rasps, his voice hoarse from crying.

"Ughhf!," Clara starts to wail, fighting her father as he finally grabs her midsection (his patience tapped), and physically restrains her.

The flapping green velvet dress makes her stand out like an elf during a St. Paddy's Day procession, and not a wayward child during a funeral. Her little feet start to pound the grass, and that's when she starts to get loud.

"Lemme go! Daddy, let go! Now!," the little girl cries, her frustration and upset starting to become more pronounced as she issues orders to my brother. All 6 ft 2 inches of him, hovering over her barely 2 foot 9" frame. The sight is almost comical.

Almost...

"I said that I wanna see Uncle Gabbie!," she howls then, her eyes suddenly filling up with tears - the underlying anxiety for Gabriel starting to become more evident as she tantrums. Because even a three year old, even if she doesn't understand what death means fully... well, she understands enough.

Understands that it is something that makes her daddy (who rarely cries) cry.

Understands that Uncle Gabbie isn't coming back.

And that's when Jane crouches down low on his haunches and holds out his hands, waving her over.

Clara sniffs loudly, indelicately - just as I would have done as a kid - all snotty boyish tones and red-faced frustration covering her fear. She totters over to him a second later - this man whom she had just met, this man whom she really doesn't know at all, who had just come along on this weepy day of rain and sadness and crying Uncles and Aunties.

Her face is streaked with tears by this point - her small features scrunched up, registering her grief - even if her words fail to indicate the same awareness.

"I wanna give Uncle Gabbie my picture. See?," she warbles, her little hands coming to clasp Jane's with such open trust that I almost shudder, suddenly remembering cases of abused children, their small bodies left in ditches, or discarded not unlike garbage. Little skulls with hairline fractures and 8 ball eyes, swollen in death with intercranial bleeding that never stopped.

How anyone could hurt a little child...

Sometimes it really sucks to be a cop.

"Uncle Gabbie likes my drawings best," Clara proclaims, her attention now fully focused on Jane. She looks as if she will stomp her foot in agitation if she doesn't get a favourable response on the artwork.

Jane smiles, bittersweetly. "I can see why, honey. This is a wonderful painting, Clara. Absolutely wonderful," and his voice barely surpasses a whisper as he struggles to keep the child composed. His eyes dash over the crumpled brown paper, with the tempera paint strokes, before he swiftly looks back up to the little girl, fondly.

"You're quite the artist, aren't you?"

Clara's expression and demeanor shifts abruptly then, and becomes so completely *me* that I know Jane sees it. The resemblance. That small build, the colouration, the impatient, tomboyish way Clara moves about in clothes she absolutely hates; itchy in her dress, fussing with the lace, craving her cords and t-shirts.

She sits on the grass, shrugging at the question, before she proceeds to take off her duck shoes - the waterproof boots that she always wears, bar none. Not even a funeral could prompt the child to wear dress shoes.

"Oh, for heaven's sake, James. That child!," I hear James' wife, Natalie, start to hiss under her breath, before: "Clara Marie Lisbon - you leave those shoes on your feet!"

I hear the indignant tones of a wife who doesn't really see herself in her daughter, and never really has, and more than that...finds such mulishness embarassing. More embarassing than a daughter who doesn't want to dress up in lace and ruffles and pink, apparently.

Jane acts - almost on impulse - to keep things cool; he hurriedly starts to retie the duck boots, even as the child starts to shake her feet to rid herself of them, her mouth quirking up into a near-grin as Jane struggles to put the boots back on her feet.

"Come on Clara," Jane tries again, his patience classically formidable with children, and no exception in this case. To me, he inquires, "I can take her over to the trees, for a little walk, Lisbon? Run off some of her energy? Would that be better?," his eyes darting nervously between myself, and Clara's mother.

I distantly realize he doesn't wish to provoke her ire, but probably for reasons other than the obvious. Knowing Jane, he has already figured it out: that Natalie is 'particular' with her children, and would rather have none at all than misbehaved rugrats. Given that outlook, Jane's probably trying to keep my niece from being scolded.

"Yes, yes," Natalie supplies, overhearing his suggestion - seemingly relieved that someone was willing to take the toddler, while Jane seems to waver until I give him the 'all clear' sign. My brother, too, seems content to let me decide - trusting my judgement more than his own, apparently.

I nod, my eyes hopefully broadcasting my genuine appreciation. Jane - carefully, I note - picks up my niece, one arm tucked easily under her knees, one hand bracing her back and ribcage, before he walks a small distance away and delicately drops her back to the ground. I see the child dart around a large angel tombstone, Jane semi-jogging after her a moment later.

"Thank God," I hear my sister-in-law mutter, while I restrain my inner protector, stilled perhaps by the tentative hand of my nephew as he reaches out for me.

And sadly, I don't even consider myself a 'kid' person.


Some indeterminant amount of time passes and the eulogy comes to a close, the service ends, and people begin to disband.

I wander off in the general direction where I've last seen Jane and Clara, and meander amongst the headstones and flowers and all too-green grass. A few feet off, near a lofty oak - I catch sight of them.

Clara is sprawled out on her tummy, her legs swinging in the air above her head. The pair are holding a discussion, so I watch quietly.

"Wanna know something? My friend Maizy has a dog named Patrick!"

At some point, Jane must have supplied her with his first name.

"Good name for a dog, I think," he supplies a moment later, his voice warm and encouraging. I can imagine the smile Jane must be sporting given the warmth of his tone.

"Yeah," Clara quips. Her favourite word, in my estimate, is 'yeah' - a fact Jane was about to learn.

Boy is he in for a treat...

"Yeah, Patrick's a brown dog," she starts, "He's about, errrff," and again with the odd struggling errrfh noises, a habit she also acquired somewhere, from someone, whenever she was trying to think of a word (or when throwing a tantrum, when no other word would suffice).

"He's about maybe the size of my head, yeah."

In another lifetime, I would have snorted. Now, I sadly link Clara's odd way of describing things - random things - to Gabriel's way of describing the world.

"That robin is as red as a candy apple, Eeyore! Come and see!" or "That bug was smaller than a rice krispie!"

"That's not very big, is it, though?," Jane queries, bringing me back out of myself, my mind.

"Yeah," I hear the preschooler repeat. "Yeah, that big. Maybe even bigger now!"

A beat, and then: "'Yeah' - the puppy is not big, or yes, he is big?"

"He's big now, Patrick! As big as my head, I said!"

A moment goes by. And I wouldn't blame him for a second, but Jane is probably trying to think of some sort of logical reply to the child (who I already knew well in advance wasn't that logical at all.)

For starters, the puppy she has described did belong to her friend Maizy, but wasn't named Patrick at all. He was, in fact, named Peter. And secondly, Peter is a great dane, now fully grown. But even as a pup he was about the size and weight of four Clara's.

"But you're not very big, are you?," Jane speaks tentatively, still confused, and still not knowing the actual dimensions of said puppy in question.

Which is just as well, really.

"I'm very big. I'm almost this many!," even from the distance, I can see the little girl mock-count on her fingers her approximate age, holding out four fingers several moments later.

"Yeah! I just had a birthday!"

Not quite. Her birthday had been five months ago. But who was counting, really?

Certainly not Clara.

"You are four?"

"No, I'm...I'm this many!," and again come out the four fingers. More impatiently, now. Almost irritated, if I had to hazard a guess.

"That's four, sweetheart," comes the ever patient reply.

"No! Uh uh! I'm three!," she catapults right back, seemingly annoyed that Jane could be so dense. "Three!"

Jane slowly pushes an index finger back down, whispering 'THAT's three. That's it. One less - there ya go,' and then: "Oh. Well, that's not very old is it?"

"Yeah! I'm very old. I'm big too."

The child is just shy of 29 lbs. No one in their right mind would call her big.

"I see," Jane nods, face now forming into something serious and brisk. No-nonsense.

Of course not.

The conversation really isn't going anywhere, and I almost feel a momentary sense of satisfaction. Now, finally, Jane would know how it felt to be on the receiving end of odd, winding statements that were hard to discern.

"So let me see if I've got this straight, Clara. You're a very aged three years old, and your friend - Maizy - has a puppy, that's brown, and the puppy is named Patrick? And Patrick is about as big as your head?"

Apparently Clara finds his summation hilarious, and starts giggling.

"You're silly, Trick!"

Trick?

She laughs again, and I see Jane smile slightly in response. He probably had no idea what was coming next, and was finding the exchange refreshing for that very reason alone. I can imagine life would get boring fast for a man who knows what almost everyone else is thinking five paces ahead of said person themselves.

"Yeah, he's cute. Like you!," she giggles again, before toddling over to Jane's side, sitting down besides him in the wet grass.

The kid's apparently smitten...

I fight down a groan, torn between rushing in and saving my consultant from any more of this odd child, and enjoying the show.

"Is that why you're a Patrick?," comes the small voice.

Confusion. All over Jane's face. I really wish I could capture the magic with a camera.

"'A Patrick', honey? What do you mean?"

"You're a cute Patrick too!"

"Umm, I-"

"Did your Daddy name you Patrick after a doggy?," Clara interrupts a moment later.

Jane's voice is strained with laughter by this point.

"No, I don't think so. I hope not."

"Did your mommy name you Patrick?"

"I think so. I think my mom gave me the name, yes. Most definitely."

"Yeah," Clara agrees, suddenly shifting the conversation into a new direction. "Pretty soon I'll be as big as my Auntie Tree! I'm almost as big as her now!"

Oh no. Oh no no no. Not this. Not this again.

"Yes, you are almost as big," Jane chimes in, choking on the words as he nods his head in agreeance.

Little twerp.

"Yeah. And Auntie Tree had a doggy too. His name was Roger!"

I know, without question, that I've never had a dog named Roger. Nor will I ever have a dog named Roger.

"Oh - your Auntie Tree, huh?," Jane fishes, seemingly finding this a wonderful nugget of information. "Is that your Auntie Teresa? She had a puppy named 'Roger'?"

"Yeah!"

Jane sounds skeptical, having heard in past conversation - only briefly - about my my dog, Rupert.

Now he seems to get it: this little kid has a fierce imagination, and no qualms about adding her own made-up names and dates and times, if she thinks it makes the story richer.

If I didn't know better, I would have worried about some sort of issue with pathological lying. As it stood, I can recall Tommy going through his early years in much the same way, even though he had shirked his dishonest ways by first or second grade.

"No, nuh uh! Her name is Tree. Auntie TREE!," Clara loudly stresses the name as if Jane had simply not heard her well enough the first time.

"Really? Tree, huh? Oh well, I thought it was Teresa - don't I feel silly!"

Clara giggles.

"I don't think she knows this, Clara. I think we should inform her of this fact right away. What do you think?"

"She came with you!," Clara points out, squinting, as if wondering how Jane could not, in fact, know my correct given name of Tree.

A moment later she scratches her cheek, apparently less concerned with that small technicality, and throws herself onto Jane's back instead. He seems to take this in stride.

"Yes. We came together. Me and your Auntie Tree," he replies a few moments later, his voice never wavering.

When Clara's firmly in place, she bats at his head with her hand imperiously.

"Stand up now, Trick!," she orders.

He does.

Slowly.

Holding onto her hands tightly as she shrieks in excitement.

"There's a birdy in that tree, Trick!"

"Mmm," Jane agrees, "there is."

"It's a baby birdy!"

Jane gazes upwards.

"I think maybe you're right, sweetheart."

Clara's face purses into a frown.

"Where's her mommy?"

Jane startles at the question, then studies the little animal - currently featherless and peeping out quite a storm of hysterical peeps.

"I'm not sure."

Clara's disturbed, so Jane starts to walk gingerly around the tree - looking for any other inhabitants in the foliage. Any parental-seeming avian inhabitants, it would seem.

"Is her mommy dead?"

The question comes out of left field, and he stops. Abruptly.

His face suddenly looks... strange.

"No, I'm sure her mommy is fine. She probably went off to get some food for her baby."

"But what if her mommy is dead?"

Jane's silent, rooted to the spot.

Immobile.

"Will her daddy take care of her?," Clara tugs on his hair then - actually tugs - suddenly upset with the lack of response. "Maybe we should take her home with us in case her daddy doesn't come back! I like birds!"

The wait is excruciating.

And then: "No, her daddy will come back for her, honey. Her daddy will come back. I'm sure her daddy loves her very much and won't let anything bad happen to her."

Jane starts to back away, though, his mouth clenched as if he's been forced into ingesting rotten fruit. He slowly lowers my niece to back down to the ground.

"Patrick?," she grabs ahold of his coat pocket, still caught up in the plight of the baby bird. "What if her mommy is dead and her daddy doesn't come back? What if she dies?"

It is only natural that the child would want to talk about death - especially since no one wanted to discuss what happened to Uncle Gabbie.

And maybe, in her little kid innocence - someone, even her new friend 'Trick' - would talk about death if she could relate death to a baby bird.

A whisper: "She won't die, Clara."

"Cause she's a baby, right? Because babies can't die, can they?"

Her voice holds a note of anxiety.

"You can't die when you're little, right? Right, Trick? You have to grow up first, right Trick?"

Jane swallows. The motion is staggeringly forced.

I notice that he won't meet her eyes.

.

.

.

I don't make a sound.


fin or part 2? ideas? please review :)