Spoilers/Timeline: None/Set in the future
A/N:Lots of love to the amazing bloodwrites for answering concept questions and K. Elisabeth for the quick read through.
Disclaimer: The Mentalist doesn't belong to me; Title found in Fleetwood Mac's Little Lies.
Sighing deeply, she placed the last sheet of paper in the pile in front of her and rocked back in her chair. There was a rare calmness that fell over CBI headquarters at night. Even knowing Jane was probably still lurking in the break room or sprawled on his couch, there was a comfort and a relaxation that seemed to fall over the offices.
Maybe it was just the feeling of autumn starting to seep in. She knew it was nothing like the cool, crisp days she experienced when she visited her oldest brother back East, but it was still her favorite time of year. The temperature dropped, the nights were comfortable, and she could live in her faded navy jacket.
And then there was Halloween.
The CBI always went all out decorating for the holiday. They hosted a trick-or-treat trail almost every weekend leading up to the thirty-first for various groups—underprivileged and special needs children, even a family day for cops' kids—and black cats and bats took over the building as a result.
She scrawled her signature at the bottom of the budget report and grinned, the soft glow of the orange lights scattered around the bullpen catching in the fake cobwebs sprayed across her office windows.
Secretly, at least to the majority of her co-workers, she loved the holiday. It was the one that put the least amount of pressure on her growing up and she could remember nights of constructing ninja costumes out of old PJs, plotting the best route to take to get the most candy. It let her be creative, solve problems, and yet enjoy being the kid for at least one night.
Glancing at the paper one last time, she closed the report and stood. It was late; everyone but her consultant (partner, constant source of irritation, boyfriend...) would be long gone so she turned on her small stereo, kicking off her shoes as she spread newspaper over the small coffee table in front of her couch.
She had just started cutting around the stem of the pumpkin she planned to put on the top of her filing cabinet when the door pushed open and he walked in, vest half unbuttoned, shirt sleeves rolled high on his arms.
She tipped her head towards him even as she continued to concentrate on the work in front of her.
"Quite the opposite, actually. The skeleton on the side of Grace's desk seems to be staring at me." Lowering himself next to her, he rubbed the back of his neck. "Makes it difficult to relax."
She pressed her lips together, the corners of her mouth turning down as she tried suppress the laughter she felt bubbling up. After all the horrors in Patrick Jane's life the idea that some Halloween decorations might unsettle him was downright bizarre.
Then again, maybe it was the little things like this that spoke the most now.
That with Red John gone, the only threat was the reminders of his life before, the torture and hurt and—
"Lisbon, dear, I think you've conquered the gourd..."
"Hmm? Oh." She chuckled, following his gaze to her pumpkin and realizing she'd completed the circle around the stem not once, but twice. Carefully lifting it off, she grabbed a spoon and began scooping out the seeds, piling them on the newspaper.
The spoon quickly became ineffective though and she abandoned it, using her hands to pull out the stringy mass of what her brothers still referred to as "pumpkin guts". Digging into a particularly stubborn clump of seeds, she bit down on her lip, peeking over at him.
His eyes were bright in the low light of her office, his shoulders relaxed, an amused smile spread over his face as he watched her work. It didn't matter how many times they were together like this, seeing him so content because of her made her heart pound.
The seeds she'd been fighting with finally gave way and she dropped them on the paper closest to him, laughing as he physically backed away from the goopy mess.
"Now I know why you don't study the dead bodies too closely."
"What? You know perfectly well that I observe the entire scene, canvass the living for signs of guilt and—"
"Mhmm." She wiped her hand on a worn towel and squeezed his knee before cleaning the outside of the pumpkin, sliding it towards him.
"You know..." Shaking his head, he grabbed a marker and began sketching a design as she picked up the pumpkin she'd gotten for the break room. "The only reason you like this holiday is because it allows you to keep a greater stash of chocolate out."
"And you haven't been eating a handful of candy corn every time you make a new cup of tea..."
"It's hardly my fault that Rigsby bought a jumbo bag."
"Of course." Grinning, she began digging into the second pumpkin, a comfortable silence settling over them.
It lasted for several minutes, the only sounds in the room were the hum from the radio and their matched breathing. Her foot tapped along with the beat as she finished cleaning the seeds out once more and she sighed as he scooted back towards her, their thighs brushing together.
"If it's not the candy then it must be the costumes..." He leaned over her shoulder, his breath ghosting along the curve of her jaw. "You would understand the allure of being different from oneself, even if it's just for one fleeting night."
"It was more than that; it was—"
His fingers tucking the few strands of errant hair behind her ear stopped her explanation and she turned towards him, her breath hitching as their eyes met. He knew, understood.
And not just because he was Patrick Jane, but because he was the one person who she'd let in.
"Let's see then, you obviously had a favorite costume..." He leaned back, his eyes drifting over her as she began drawing a face on the orange fruit. "You were a tomboy growing up, still are except for in the most fun ways." He grinned cheekily, his eyebrow lifting as she elbowed him. "In any case, there were three brothers influencing your every move, your weapon of choice would've been a firearm of some sort... no... no, a sword." He tilted his head towards her, eyes sparkling. "Zorro, Zorro was your favorite."
"I wore that costume three years in row."
Laughing, he kissed her temple. "I never really properly celebrated the holidays; we moved around too much, but one year, when I was about nine, a local convinced me to sneak away for the night. It was cold and windy, but we didn't care." He closed his eyes, memories swirling. "We spent the night TPing and, when we ran out of that, we switched over to half used rolls of paper towels he'd stolen from his mother. One of those 'rites of passage' moments." Shrugging, he started moving his knife through the pumpkin once more, attempting to disguise any wish for something more normal.
Nodding, she grabbed his free hand, lacing her fingers through his as a wave of heat skittered down her spine. Even after being together over a year, moments like this still surprised her, made her feel crazy and trusted and loved.
The feeling stretched as she started carving once more, her hand slipping out of his to steady her creation as she carefully completed the eyes. The only thing left now was the fangs and she'd—
"Finished! Now get a move on..." Placing his knife on the table, he turned the completed Jack-o'-lantern towards her, the bat with a police shield hanging from its foot making her laugh. "I'd like to get home sometime tonight."
Rolling her eyes, she carved the last few bits and stood, setting both pumpkins on the corner of her desk. Slipping into her shoes, she leaned back against him as his arm wrapped around her waist, his lips pressing to that spot on her shoulder. She shuddered, deftly snagging a mini-Twix as they started out.
Pausing in the bullpen, he grabbed his coat from the back of Grace's chair and draped it over her shoulders. "I know you didn't wear one today even though you knew it was going to get cold tonight."
His voice was low in her ear, his hand pressed warmly to the small of her back, and she inhaled sharply, snuggling in the large jacket. It smelled like him, felt like him, and that alone was enough to make the brisk October air disappear.
Shoving her hands deep in the pockets, she started for the elevators once more, only to stop as her fingers closed around a piece of cloth. Pulling it from the pocket, she held it up, the corner of her mouth twitching up, her eyebrow lifting, as their eyes met over the black mask.
Grinning, he took a step forward, his hand settling low on her hip. "I thought later..." Sliding the material through her fingers and into his, he held the mask in front of her eyes, smirking.
Her laugh reverberated through the hall just as the elevator doors slid open and she pocketed the material once again, dimple appearing as she tugged him into the car with her. "Mmm, I guess you're never too old for a little mischief."