A/N: So... I've been catching up on post-finale fic lately. It makes me nervous. That finale makes me nervous. I never really intended to write post-finale anything. At least not this quickly. I'm not sure I have everything sorted out in my head yet. But then this idea sprung up fully formed this afternoon, and I couldn't stop myself. I hope you enjoy it. It's a little different than my usual.

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Judge Not

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You do not judge.

That is not your job. Never has been.

You are responsible for catching, apprehending, containing. That is what you do. That is what matters. (Jane helps catch a lot of bad guys.)

You are not responsible for deciding on punishment or guilt.

You do not judge.

.

You will not judge.

You remind yourself of that fact over and over as you wait for the verdict to be read aloud.

You will not judge.

Not even if Jane gets off on self-defence, which you have your reasons to think is likely. (Though how that could possibly be is beyond you, given what you've heard about his crime. No, not his crime, not yet. His kill.)

You will not judge him.

If the legal system does not think that he needs to be punished then that's all there is to it.

It is not up to you.

.

You do not judge.

You have before, each time an unqualified disaster.

.

You judged the man who drove drunk and killed your mother.

It made you bitter, resentful, angry. And it landed you in your high school guidance counsellor's office for weeks (there was talk of more extensive therapy, but thankfully you managed to control yourself before things got that far).

It made you hate.

It made everything worse, when everything was already falling apart.

And it didn't change anything.

It didn't bring her back.

.

You judged the father who abandoned you in alcohol and abused you when whiskey could no longer mask the pain.

And you hated again. Hated all the more desperately because you used to love.

It was years before you could remind yourself that he was a good man. That he had his flaws, that he was imperfect, but that he was still your father, and in his way, he had loved you. He just couldn't cope.

Only then did you receive a measure of peace.

.

You judged your boss, the one you idolized, when he shot a child-killer in cold blood on the street.

You didn't bring him in, didn't arrest him. You judged it justified (based on whose experience? Your own? Please). An eye for an eye. Should a good man's life be ruined for taking that of someone no one would miss?

No, you said to yourself.

Except that was never your judgement to make.

And you only realized it later, when you could no longer look Sam Bosco in the eye.

So you fled San Francisco the second an opportunity presented itself.

.

You thought you'd learned your lesson.

Apparently you hadn't.

Because you judged a girl. A girl like yourself, abused by her father, mother murdered.

You decided (you decided) that she didn't deserve to be punished more than she had. That the legal system wasn't the best place for a soul that had already endured so much pain. You remembered your own teenage attempts to keep your family from the prying eyes of the government. You remembered the panic and the pain.

So you shielded her from it.

But now, months later, you're troubled with the idea that maybe going through the equalizer of the system and emerging victorious on the other side would have eased her demons. You're reminded again that it wasn't your decision to make.

Maybe you saved her short term pain at the expense of long-term guilt.

You do not know.

You've asked the question to late. The time for those answers has passed.

Now you worry that you will both feel forever guilty.

.

Guilt.

Why you should not judge.

You almost cannot bear it.

Part of you knows why.

You have a Catholic conscience. Remnants of Sunday school lessons long past rear their heads inside you at times both expected and not.

You don't think that it's a bad thing. It's who you are. And with the bad comes the good.

You can accept that.

But sometimes you do wish you didn't care so much.

Then maybe your occasional judgements would be bearable.

Maybe you could even stop taking responsibility for everyone.

.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

Matthew 7:1.

You do not wish to judge others in part because you are not sure you have that right, since you have made so many mistakes of your own.

Jane would never understand that.

Jane has judged.

He was judge and jury for a man who, even now, you are not sure actually was Red John.

Jane's gun pre-empted the question before you could get an answer.

Before judgement could be given. The kind of justice you need.

.

Jane probably thinks you are weak, unable to bear the consequences of your decisions. He would probably argue that his own strength in his convictions, damn all reprisals, is a far more logical course of action.

But, Patrick Jane never did have any use for the legal system, nor for religion. He always follows his own path. You cannot stop him. He refuses to look outside himself for guidance.

You're surprised he's never mocked you for sometimes praying to a god he doesn't believe in, and one you're not always sure you do either.

Still, whatever Jane might think, not judging isn't weak. Not for you.

.

You cannot judge.

On some level you have always recognized that.

You care too much.

Having to make those decisions just might break you. You do not want the moral responsibility.

Others can determine guilt. You want no part in it.

So you play to your strengths, and trust in a system so imperfect, yet the best there is to offer.

But you have faith in it. You have to.

Because even an imperfect system is better than arbitrary judgement by a single broken man (or woman).

It has to be.

.

Jane disagrees.

You know that.

But you hoped. Oh, you hoped.

And you were disappointed.

You often are.

.

Still, you do not judge.

Jane is who he is. That has never changed. And he was honest with you about it.

He told you he would kill. You told him you would capture.

He even arranged things so that you were spared the pain of arresting him yourself.

Maybe that is something.

Maybe not.

You don't know.

You don't intend to pass judgement.

.

So you will abide by the court's decision, the one you're standing, holding your breath, and waiting to hear.

.

"Not guilty."

Self-defence.

(How? You want to ask. How has Jane managed to slip out of another one? But you don't ask. That is not your job.)

You're not sure if you're relieved or not.

But you can live with it.

You think.

.

You do not judge.

You do not judge.

.

Jane is beaming, grinning, and shaking people's hands. Always the showman pleased that he's pulled yet one more successful con.

Nothing keeps him down for long.

.

You do not judge.

You do not judge.

.

Nor do you forget.

.

You meet your consultant's eyes across the courtroom (still your consultant, since he's now innocent in the eyes of the law).

You know he is looking for you in particular, waiting for you to share in his victory.

(He does catch a lot of criminals. That is his job too. Maybe it will still be enough.)

.

You will not judge.

.

You also are not sure you will ever forgive.

You doubt that Jane realizes that.

And you look away a split second before he does.

Because you are not sure you can bear to meet his eyes anymore either.

So you do not see the triumphant light in them suddenly disappear.

.

The end