Disclaimer: I don't own "The Mentalist".
Summary: Jane wakes up from a coma with vivid memories of events that never happened. For one thing, he believes he and Lisbon are married. Jisbon. Rated T for language/adult situations/violence.
A/N: I think I may officially be insane for starting a new chapter fic so close on the heels of finishing one. But this angst-y premise introduced itself and began writing scenes in my head. This first chapter contains brief violence and language.
Someone Else's Life
Chapter 1: One Minute and Two Weeks
It only took one minute to change everything.
Five seconds were spent delivering an ultimatum with a bullhorn to a murder suspect who had barricaded himself in his house.
Ten seconds was how long it took for the suspect to ramble insanely and fire a single shot through one of his windows.
It was less than a second from the sound of the shot until the bullet grazed Jane's temple and knocked him out cold. But it was a full five seconds before he dropped to the ground and his head hit the pavement with a sickening crack.
The longest ten seconds of Lisbon's life were the ones when she broke every "standoff situation" protocol rule and aimed carefully at the window from where the shot had come. She then fired her weapon, killing the suspect instantly.
In ten more seconds she had reached Jane where he lay unconscious on the ground. One side of his hair was already drenched with blood as she sat down and placed his head in her lap.
Fifteen seconds later, VanPelt was at the curb with them and mumbling, "Oh my God," over and over again as she dialed 911.
Lisbon took the last five seconds to breathe in deeply before saying "It'll be all right, VanPelt. It's not as bad as it looks. Head wounds always bleed a lot." She was amazed at how calm her own voice sounded. The blood was soaking through the fabric of the jacket she'd pressed against his wound. –Please let it be all right,- she wished in the privacy of her own mind, -I don't know what I'd do without him.-
One minute, and it was all over. But something else had just started.
It was six days later, and Jane was lying in a coma in a private hospital room. The team had immediately worked out a rotation so that someone was always there; they wanted to make sure he wouldn't be alone when he woke up. Cho, VanPelt and Rigsby alternated what times they covered, but Lisbon always took the worst hours, the late-night/early-morning section. Cho had offered to trade with her more than once, but she waved him off, saying, "Don't worry about it, I'm not sleeping well anyway."
It was coming to the end of her watch that morning when she began to talk out loud to Jane for the first time. "Why did it have to be you?" she muttered. "I can't even be angry with you about it, you know. You were standing where I asked, and for once you were even wearing a bulletproof vest. But they don't cover our heads, right? So of course that's where he had to shoot you."
She pulled her chair closer to the side of the bed and looked at him. He'd been breathing fine on his own from the beginning, and she was glad of the lack of a respirator tube. Jane looked rough enough without it, frankly, with his head swaddled in bandages and skin unnaturally pale.
She sighed. "You may not be able to hear me, but I want to apologize. I failed you. I've gone over it again and again in my mind and I can't see how I could've done anything different. But I still failed you, which is why you're lying there comatose with a head injury. I just hope you recover. Things wouldn't be the same if you didn't."
Lisbon checked her watch and saw that Cho was due to arrive at any minute. She got up and stretched and made her way towards the door. Before leaving, however, she paused. Without turning around, she made a last comment. "You need to know that I would've taken that bullet for you, Jane. Even if it had killed me." She didn't dare say anything further.
Three days came and went.
"Hey, Jane," said Cho as he walked in and sat down. "I bought you the latest issue of Sudoku Digest. You can pay me back when you wake up." He watched for any glimmer of reaction in Jane's face, and saw none. He frowned, and reached for his latest novel while sipping his morning coffee.
Reaching the end of the chapter, he closed the book again. "You need to come around soon, Jane. Over a week in a coma is enough rest, even for you," Cho said. He allowed himself a small smile as he thought of Jane's frequent dozes on the couch in the bullpen.
But the serious expression had already returned to his face when he continued, "Lisbon's beating herself up pretty badly over this. As if she was to blame. As if she didn't take out the son of a bitch who shot you, and faster than any sniper I ever saw. But she still acts like it was her fault, and nothing we say will change her mind. She won't listen to us, Jane. But she'd listen to you."
Cho picked up his book again. It was still a few hours before VanPelt was going to relieve him.
Three more days flew by.
"Good afternoon, Jane," VanPelt said as she entered the room. "It's been twelve days now, are you sure you won't wake up?" She was trying to speak in a light and teasing tone, but the worry in her voice was unmistakable.
She sat on the edge of the bed for a moment and patted Jane's hand distractedly. "I prayed for you in church last Sunday; don't be offended, okay? I know you don't believe in it, which means it can't do you any harm. But I do believe, so maybe it'll do you some good."
She thought for a long moment before getting up and seating herself in the chair in the corner of the room. "The fact that you're a consultant makes this extra hard on us, do you know that? It's the truth. The rest of the team, we're all cops. We swore to place ourselves in harm's way to protect innocent people, and accepted the possible consequences of that."
She stopped and rubbed her eyes before continuing. "But you… you're sort of a halfway point. Not exactly only a civilian anymore, are you, with the involvement and aid you provide the CBI? But you carry an ID, not a badge. And you didn't sign up to put your life in danger. I think that's why Lisbon is so upset. Well, part of the reason, anyway."
VanPelt pulled out her laptop and set it on the small worktable beside the chair in the corner. She'd decided to get some electronic paperwork done while she was on watch today. She paused once more, however, and glanced at Jane in the bed again. "You just really need to wake up," she whispered.
"Man, after two whole weeks, this is getting boring," said Rigsby two days later, in between bites of his evening meal. "Not that I'm saying we're not anxious and missing you. Of course we are. You're annoying and full of yourself sometimes, but you're part of the family."
He was thoughtful as he chewed. Then he said, "But the doctor mentioned to me yesterday that there's a very good chance you're ready to come out of this coma. So I think you should do it sooner rather than later. Stop worrying us sick and get back to work, you know?"
Rigsby considered a desperate attempt on his part to get a reaction. "If you woke up tonight, I could even give you the other half of my meatball sub."
"It does smell good," said Jane in a weak voice.
Rigsby jumped. "Jesus, Jane! Give me a heart attack, why don't you?"
"Sorry, Rigsby, I was waiting for you to finish what you were saying. So can I have the other half now?" Jane asked.
"Um, honestly, I don't even know. I need to find a nurse and your doctor to find out. But I need to find them anyway now that you're awake. And Grace should be here in a few minutes because it's almost time for us to switch off. And I have to call people." Rigsby was talking a mile a minute. He'd never expected to be the one there when Jane came out of his coma.
"While you're finding and talking to everyone, could you call my wife and let her know I'm awake?" Jane asked.
Rigsby could barely breathe to form his next words, but they managed to slip out anyway "Your… wife?" he asked.
"Yes, I'm sure she'd want to know right away. Where is she, anyway?"
Rigsby felt his stomach bottom out. Early on, the team had been warned that Jane might suffer some memory loss or other problems due to the head injury. But he had never even considered that Jane could lose the knowledge of such a pivotal moment of his life.
He felt totally spineless doing it, but the only thing he could think to say was, "I don't know, Jane. I'll go find out." He then practically ran out of the room.
Fifteen minutes later, and Rigsby had found the medical staff and called the rest of the team. VanPelt showed up first, of course, since she'd already been on her way there. She immediately went to Rigsby to ask him how Jane was, but paused when she saw how unhappy he looked. "Wayne, what's wrong?"
"Oh, hello Grace," Rigsby said sadly. She saw, as he turned towards her, the shine of unshed tears in his eyes.
"What's wrong?" she asked again. "What happened? All you said was that he's up."
"Grace, he asked me to call his wife. He doesn't remember that she's dead. I couldn't even say anything about it, I just said I'd find out where she was and left. I just couldn't bear to tell him," Rigsby said, and VanPelt watched one tear fall.
It still amazed her sometimes that this man who looked like a big tough jock was the same one who had made the most sensitive plea on Jane's behalf once. "It's not about whether we need him; he needs us," he'd said, or words to that effect, with complete conviction and no trace of irony. Now his not-so-secret soft heart was making itself known again, and she couldn't help but respond to it.
VanPelt drew Rigsby in for a quick hug, and said, "I'll do it. I'll go in and talk to him. I can handle it. You wait for Cho and Lisbon, okay?"
He held her tight and whispered. "Thank you, Grace. I know I'm a coward."
"No, you're not. He's your friend, our friend. This is always tough, and it's even harder when it's personal. I will do it," VanPelt repeated and pulled away, walking into Jane's room before Rigsby could say another word.
She stood just inside the doorway and looked at Jane. He was still lying down, but his eyes were open and scanning his surroundings rapidly. "Hi, Jane. Do you know me?"
He looked at her and smiled. "Of course, hello Grace. How are you?" he asked.
"I'm fine, what about you? How do you feel? You've been in a coma for two weeks."
"So they tell me. I feel mostly okay, just kind of weak and surprisingly hungry. I'm getting an odd reaction to some of my questions, though. Like there's something no one wants to say. Do you know where my wife is? Did Rigsby tell you that I asked him to call her?"
VanPelt nodded and sat down in the chair next to the bed. "He told me. Jane, do you remember what year it is?"
Jane gave her a funny look. "2011."
"That's right," she said. She took a deep breath and went on. "Do you know who Red John is?"
His eyes narrowed. "Yes," was all he said.
"Jane, your wife passed away years ago. Red John murdered her."
"What?" he said, then blinked and nodded in comprehension. "Oh. No, Grace, I didn't mean… I know that Angela's-" he swallowed deliberately before saying the next word. "-gone."
It was VanPelt's turn to feel lost. "Then I'm sorry, Jane, but I really have no idea who you want Rigsby to call. I'm confused."
Jane frowned deeply and glared; it was the first time he'd ever directed that expression at her. "If this is your idea of a joke, VanPelt, it's not funny. Now, I want a straight answer: where is Teresa? Why won't anyone tell me?"
"Teresa?" VanPelt squeaked, as brief understanding gave way almost immediately to further confusion. She was glad she was already sitting down.
"Yes, Grace! My wife, Teresa! Why isn't she here? Is she all right?" Jane asked, his voice getting louder with each word.
Her head was spinning, but her heard herself say. "Teresa's fine, Jane, she wasn't injured. Rigsby called her. She's coming here right now from the other side of town, maybe half an hour away."
"Thank you! Could you ask her to please come to me as soon as she gets here? I don't want to see anybody else until then."
"The doctors might need to examine you-" VanPelt began, but Jane interrupted.
"I said anybody, and I meant anybody. Not until Teresa comes."
"Okay, I'll do what I can. And I'll send her in to you the second she arrives," she promised, and left the room.
Out in the hallway, VanPelt took out her phone and quickly hit the speed-dial for Lisbon's cell. It only rang once before it clicked through and she heard a terse "Lisbon."
"Hi Boss, it's me."
"VanPelt, I know Jane's awake; Rigsby already told me and I'm on my way. I should be there in about twenty minutes. You didn't need to call me."
"Actually yes, I really did. There's something else you need to know before you come here and go to see him."
"What is it?" Lisbon asked, and VanPelt could hear the clenched concern in her voice, even through the phone. "What's wrong?"
VanPelt sighed before answering. "Boss, we have a serious problem."
To Be Continued…