A/N: Well, hetbigbang went live this weekend, so I can finally post the story I wrote for it. It is a multiparter, and I'll be posting a part a day for the next two weeks. Hope you guys enjoy it. It was tremendous fun to write. Thanks so much to yaba for betaing!
How to woo a woman as stubborn as Teresa Lisbon
1. Step One: Realize that you want her in the first place.
"So, have you ever thought about dating again?"
Patrick Jane's eyes popped open to stare at the woman currently standing over him.
"Excuse me?" he asked in shock. The question may have been asked of him once before, but the repetition didn't make the query any less surprising.
Madeleine Hightower grinned. She did so love shocking the normally composed man off of his equilibrium from time to time. "Dating," she repeated calmly (though her eyes were twinkling). "Have you ever thought about dating again? You know, where two people go out, maybe enjoy a meal, maybe an outing, hopefully each other's company?"
Jane sat up, running a hand through his hair and tried to collect his thoughts. It was ridiculously unfair of the woman to sneak up on him like this. And she was the only woman of his acquaintance who'd have dreamed of asking him that question once, let alone twice. He decided to try and deflect it, "Why Madeleine, this is all so sudden. I had no idea..."
"None of that, Patrick," the head of the CBI admonished lightly. "You know what I mean, and it was just a question. You don't have to answer it."
Jane knew the superior lilt to her voice was code for "chicken" if he did decide to keep his own counsel on the subject. "I hadn't not thought of not dating," he explained eventually, wondering why his boss saw fit to periodically ask him about his love life. He knew what, or rather who, had precipitated the question the first time. However, he had no idea what the proximate cause of the query was this time. He ransacked his brain; he hadn't crossed paths with any likely romantic candidates in the last few weeks to prompt Madeleine's curiosity. He didn't think he had at least.
"But you also haven't actively considered it," Madeleine clarified.
"I suppose not," Jane admitted.
The other woman sighed. "It's been months since Red John's death, Jane," she reminded him.
"Oh, so I should just move on then?" Jane asked, sarcastically.
"That wasn't what I meant and you know it," Madeleine rebuked a little sharply.
"Then why did you ask me?" Jane wondered.
"I can't just want to see you happy?" his boss asked She'd expected more of a change from Patrick Jane since the serial killer's death, and his apparent stasis in some areas worried her. Sometimes she wasn't sure it had all quite sunk in. After all, there'd been so many false alarms where Red John and his minions were concerned.
Jane raised his eyebrows.
"And I just like seeing that look of panic that flashes across your face," Hightower admitted, shrugging off her moment of seriousness. "Sometimes you need a little bit of shaking up."
Jane blinked at her in shock. "Well, Madeleine," he drawled eventually. "I certainly can't promise to hit the Sacramento dating scene just to please you."
"It might be good for you," Hightower reminded him, stifling a chuckle at the image of Jane in a suit with oversized lapels, fedora perched rakishly over one eye, lurking outside the local bars, out on the prowl.
"Maybe I just haven't met the right woman," Jane suggested smoothly.
"You can't meet the right woman if you're not even open to the possibility," Hightower countered.
"True," Jane admitted. "Although, now that we're on the subject, how is your love life going these days Madeleine? With the hours you work I'd imagine raising two children and maintaining a social life might be difficult. But it's important to still put yourself out there, you know."
"Alright Jane," Hightower conceded. "You've made your point."
Jane nodded. "Did you need anything?" he asked. "Or were you just on a trip to surprise me with unexpected questions?"
Hightower smirked. "That was just a side-benefit. I was actually looking for Lisbon. Have you seen her?"
Jane nodded. "She just went downstairs to drop something off with forensics. She should be back any minute now."
"Alright," Madeleine said. "That's fine. I'll just wait here then."
With that the Director walked over and sat down in the empty chair next to Rigsby's desk, clearly not intending to continue their conversation.
Jane lay back on his couch, trying to relax. "A wise decision," he told her, his mind unfortunately fixed on her original question even if he'd finally succeeded in distracting her from it. Had he ever thought about dating again? Truthfully, no. Well, not really. He'd always said he'd move on after Red John was out of the picture. And Red John was out of the picture (the real Red John this time), thanks to a high speed car chase down the streets of Sacramento, streets slippery in the rain, darkness and glare, and a conveniently placed traffic light. Well, convenient for them. Inconvenient for the serial killer they'd been pursuing.
The team had slowly been dismantling Red John's organization piece by piece. The final confrontation ending because of concrete pole seemed oddly anticlimactic, but there was little anyone could do about that, least of all Jane.
Still, Jane hadn't really thought about dating since then. He'd been too busy trying to get his own head on straight, not the easiest thing in the world all things considered. He would have been a truly terrible date at any point during the last few months. Or if not terrible, completely fake because he would have been playing a part from the appetizers straight through dessert.
Madeleine was just trying to stir up trouble, probably for her own amusement. The idea of dating right now was just silly.
Even if he'd wanted to.
After all, how could he think of dating, really?
First of all, there was the problem of meeting someone. He'd become a bit of a loner over the past decade (at least that was Lisbon's word for it, Jane would have preferred solitary; it lent more of an air of elegance to his predicament, less of an atmosphere of desperation). The idea of jumping headfirst into some sort of regular social schedule again made him uneasy at best.
But if he wanted to meet someone he'd have to change his routine. Unless he was planning on meeting them at his local grocery store, or at work. And forget barhopping. That had never been his style. But nor did he feel quite ready to be attending cooking classes, or poetry readings, or whatever else one typically did to meet women nowadays.
Jane settled into the comfort of his couch, the familiar cushions reassuring him that he was not required to go out seeking a romantic partner, and no one, not even Madeleine Hightower, could make him. He was perfectly comfortable where he was.
Besides, even if the problem of where to meet someone was solved, who on earth would he have anything in common with anymore?
He'd spent the last decade on a rather singular quest for revenge. It didn't exactly make for good small talk on a first date. He could just imagine the conversation.
"Yes, I'm a teacher. I teach third grade. The kids alternate between being angels and devils. But I love it and I wouldn't do anything else. And what do you do Patrick?"
"I'm a consultant for the CBI."
"The California Bureau of Investigation."
"Oh right. That must be interesting. You must have seen a lot working there."
"I have. Actually, I've spent the past decade trying to kill the man who murdered my family. Try these potatoes. They're to die for."
Okay, so it wouldn't be that bad. He could probably avoid bringing up serial killers on the first date, or at least wait until after dessert. But that wasn't really the point. Red John had to come up sometime, along with his family. Eventually explanations would be required, and how could a regular person, someone untouched by the world he'd been living in for years, possibly understand any of it? No matter how much closure Jane managed to get, how could someone else cope with any of the things he'd had to come to terms with it? And did he have the right to thrust his darkness onto anyone?
Really, what kind of woman could possibly understand what he'd been through?
She'd have to be something exceptional. Strong, understanding, kind, and preferably with a bit of darkness of her own to even the score. And she'd have to be able to deal with him, something Jane was well aware was not an easy task. He was also well aware that whoever she was, she'd be hard to find.
His not-so-romantic musings were suddenly interrupted by the sound of Lisbon's footsteps entering the bullpen.
Jane was grateful for the distraction. In another minute, Madeleine would undoubtedly have grown tired of the silence and decided to instigate conversation again. Not a problem normally, but he had no desire to return to the previous topic up for discussion. Besides, the director's mere presence in the bullpen was still acting as a reminder of her impish question.
Lisbon always had had impeccable timing. She'd save him from Madeleine's curiosity.
"Jane," she said walking into the bullpen, obviously about to ask him a question. That was when she realized Jane wasn't alone. "Ma'am?" she asked, sounding both surprised and amused.
Madeleine stood with a grin. "He's not asleep," she informed Lisbon, answering an unasked question.
"He rarely is," Lisbon agreed. "But why are the two of you sitting in silence then?"
"I wanted to talk to you," Hightower explained. "And I think Patrick is still feeling a bit put out about a question I asked earlier, so I decided waiting quietly might be best."
"Oh?" Lisbon asked curiously.
Hightower just smiled.
"You know," Jane said, speaking for the first time. After all, Lisbon wasn't distracting Madeleine in quite the way he'd hoped. "Much as I'm enjoying this show of female bonding at my expense, since you both know that I'm awake, you could speak to me directly instead of just talking about me while I'm in the room."
"That assumes you'd answer the question," Lisbon replied easily. "Doubtful at best, even more unlikely if you didn't like the subject the first time around."
"I asked a casual question about his love life," Hightower clarified. "Now he's sulking."
Jane found he wasn't as irritated by her amusement as he'd been by Hightower's. "I'm not sulking," he insisted.
"Brooding then, if you prefer," Hightower corrected.
"I was just finishing my nap," Jane insisted firmly. "Now that I'm well rested, I'm at your service."
"I don't recall saying that I needed you," Hightower reminded him. "Just that I wanted to talk to Lisbon."
"Madeleine, I'm hurt," Jane said with a grin, deciding to take the opportunity to get up and stretch. Even if the women didn't need him he was going to get some tea.
"If you want to help with the unit's annual budget reports you're more than welcome to join us," Hightower assured him.
Jane gave an exaggerated shake of his head. "No thanks, I'll leave you ladies to it."
Lisbon rolled her eyes at him. But she grinned when he caught her eye.
"Why don't we discuss the budget in my office," she offered.
Hightower evidently agreed. Jane fell in step with the two women on their way to Lisbon's office. They both looked at him in surprise.
"I'm getting tea," he explained defensively.
That earned him a friendly pat on his arm from his immediate supervisor. "There's a new box of earl grey in the cupboard," Lisbon informed him.
Jane grinned. In other words she'd bought it for him. Or at least ensured that someone else had. Lisbon was considerate like that; she usually remembered the little things. Though she'd die of embarrassment if you called her on it. Didn't like to be thanked. Jane always made a point of thanking her more than she'd like. After all, embarrassment was an attractive look on her; she was so endearingly awkward.
Of course most looks were attractive on Teresa Lisbon. She was an attractive woman. Petite, fiery, subtle, strong.
And a woman of near-infinite patience where he was concerned. In all the years he'd known her, they'd worked fairly harmoniously together all things considered, with a few notable exceptions. But they'd moved past their difficulties (though there had been times when he'd almost despaired of it). When it came right down to it, their continued friendship was probably due more to her than to him (though there'd been at least once when he'd been the one to persist, one of the times he'd almost despaired). Lisbon was persistent, and she could deal with almost anything he threw at her. Really, the woman probably knew him better than anyone else on the planet. She'd seen him through the worst after all, his worst.
Jane was well aware that he didn't deserve her. Didn't deserve her at all, and never had. But she never seemed to call him on that.
And he trusted her.
Maybe that was why he didn't mind so much when she teased.
He glanced over at her affectionately, as she started discussing the particulars of the budget with Madeleine, giving him a distracted sort of a wave when they parted ways at her office door. Jane watched her surreptitiously for a little longer through her office's glass walls. Tea could wait another minute or so.
Because she really was lovely. She was a good six inches shorter than her boss, but Lisbon still commanded attention. He wondered when she'd learned the unconscious air of authority. Probably about the same time she'd acquired her quiet grace (although that probably came from her adolescent athletic endeavours).
He'd always liked watching her move, especially when she didn't know he was doing it.
Right now the two women in the office were far too busy saving the world (or maybe just the Serious Crimes Unit) to pay him any mind.
Jane felt himself smile as he watched Lisbon push a strand of hair behind her ear awkwardly. No doubt Madeleine had complimented her on something or other. And from Jane's vantage point he could see the resultant faint blush on Lisbon's cheeks and the flash of pleasure in her eyes.
From where he was standing, he had a perfect view of her face, and those ever-so-expressive eyes.
Actually, her eyes weren't the only ones he had a clear view of. Thanks to the reflection in the glass walls, he could also see his own eyes, watching her.
And so he could see(quite clearly) that his pupils were dilated.
Well that was unexpected.
Now he really needed that tea.