A/N: Here we go, the first of my mentalist Holiday fic prompts. This one is for mswyrr, who prompted "Lisbon protecting/comforting a hurt and/or vulnerable Jane. (WIth possible empahsis on psychic-boy!Jane)." Somehow this ended up being a 4.03 post-ep (the Kelli Williams ep). Hope this is what you wanted, not sure if it's the exact prompt, but it's what my brain could come up with.

xxx

You said you could save them

xxx

Jane was prowling around the CBI.

Through the break room, on his couch, off his couch, through the bullpen, up to the attic, on his makeshift furniture, down from the attic, out to the parking lot only to do a one-eighty at his car. He wasn't going back to his box of a hotel room to pace a mere twelve foot path.

Back in through security (ignoring the raised eyebrow and the smirk of the guard) and back up the stairs. He was too jittery to wait for the elevator. Through the bullpen again, both pleased and irritated that it was empty (no explanations, but also no distractions). Rather than fruitlessly dropping onto his couch again, Jane decided to keep going to the break room. Maybe a warm cup of tea would calm him down.

He never made it that far.

She met him as he passed her doorway. "Come on in, Jane," she said cocking her head.

Jane's eyebrows rows slightly in silent inquiry, but her back was already turned. So he followed her into her office.

"Shut the door please," Lisbon murmured quietly.

Jane complied.

"I made you a cup of tea," she said, gesturing awkwardly to the coffee table.

Jane's eyes followed her fluttering hand to see the green cup and saucer.

He turned back towards her, eyes narrowing as he watched her pick up a cup of her own off her desk.

"You were practically pacing the CBI," Lisbon explained, catching his expression. "I figured it was only a matter of time before you made it back up here. You wanna talk about it?" she asked gently.

Jane didn't answer right away. Instead he settled down on her couch (the one he'd bought her), and took a drink of his tea. Lisbon's tea wasn't quite perfect, but it was close, and it was way better than anyone else's – except for his own of course.

Lisbon sat next to him, curling her legs under her body like she'd be perfectly content to sip her own tea and wait him out indefinitely.

When really, she shouldn't be bothered wasting her time. She shouldn't even be bothering…

"Why do you work with me?" he blurted out.

Then he frowned slightly. Now where had that come from?

Lisbon turned towards him and Jane could see her valiantly trying to keep the concern off of her face (though intriguingly, she didn't look at all surprised by the question).

"You close a lot of cases," she told him with an indulgent smile.

He stared at her, intrigued again when her smile barely faltered. Setting his tea down on the coffee table, Jane leaned closer. "Do you have any idea how many people I've lied to and convinced I could help, could even save? For money?" Did she honestly not understand the type of man he was?

Lisbon's smile turned wry. "I've got a pretty good idea," she admitted. "We've had to go through your old client lists more than once over the years looking for enemies, remember."

"So," Jane prompted.

"So?" she asked, clearly unwilling to answer a question he wasn't willing to articulate.

He paused briefly. Then he finally started explaining. For some reason he had to. He needed her to know. "So, I started when I was fourteen. Lying to people. Telling them I was in tune with an afterlife, that I could see some sort of mystical great beyond. That I had a magic crystal. Anything I could think of. Just as long as they'd give me money to save them," Jane said, more than a hint of self-loathing in his voice as he remembered.

She merely shrugged. "I figured as much, reading between the lines" she explained, and Jane was shocked again by the lack of surprise in her voice.

"I couldn't save anyone," Jane said hollowly, staring into his tea.

The memories were coming quickly now.

He'd been fourteen.Fourteen. And he'd been telling dying girls that he could save them. Telling people desperate to find lost loved ones that he knew where they were. Lying and scheming and conning. Always. If anything it'd been worse as a boy psychic (when he'd had even less control). At least he'd stopped claiming to heal the dying with dollar store hunks of rock as he got older.

How long had he hated himself for it?

Probably not long enough.

Because he still continued to claim he could save people. That he could find them. That he knew where they were.

As he'd gotten older, become a more traditional "psychic," he'd told himself it was better. He wasn't claiming to physically heal people, just use clues to tell them what they wanted to hear, or maybe find information that if they'd been observant enough they could have found for themselves.

But it was a fine line.

In the end it had been too fine. And his family had paid the price.

It had all started with that confused fourteen year old. The boy who hadn't known anything else.

Most of the time Jane didn't care, shouldn't care, couldn't care.

But then, sometimes he wondered, what if? What would have happened if (as LaRoche had hypothesized one day) he'd had a different life.

Most of the time Jane figured it didn't matter, or if it did, there was no changing it. People could be manipulated. He was a master manipulator. He was well within his rights to use that.

Other times little old boys went missing.

"You saved Connor Flint," Lisbon said, interrupting his thoughts (and apparently reading his mind).

"Yeah," Jane breathed out. "But before I did that, I left his mother vulnerable to other people taking advantage of her in the same way I used to. You saw that spiritualadvisor of hers."

"Who you got rid of," Lisbon reminded him. "After you saved her son."

"Oh, I saved him alright," Jane murmured. "I made a good guess."

"And we found him in time because of it," Lisbon said, her voice suddenly firm.

"Lisbon..." Jane whispered half affectionate, half hopeless.

She ignored him, placing her hand on his shoulder briefly. "That's why I keep you around," she told him. "To help me find missing little boys so I don't have to tell their mothers that they're not coming home."

He caught her eyes. "I guess today was a good day then, even for me."

"it was a good day for everyone," Lisbon corrected. Then she shrugged, "Well, except for her stepson."

"And her new so-called-psychic," Jane added. "His biggest source of income just kicked him to the curb. Guess Beth finally got sick of being taken advantage of."

"You told her the truth, Jane," Lisbon reminded him, alluding to his painful confession to his former client. Disillusioning Beth hadn't been easy, but Jane had done it, because he'd needed to. And because Beth had needed to hear it.

So Lisbon had stood by him while he did it, for moral support (among other things).

"I felt I owed her that," Jane murmured. "After all this time…" He may have taken horrible advantage of the woman, but at least this way he'd tried to prevent it from happening again. Yeah, he was a real prince.

Lisbon watched him, obviously not liking whatever it was she could read on his face.

"I'm not going to lie to you, Jane," she said dryly. "You're not the best man I've ever known. In fact, you're not even in the top 100."

Her comment surprised him (she was full of surprises that evening). For some reason it actually helped. He stifled a laugh, his eyes smiling at her. "No?"

She smirked back. The her expression turned more serious. "But you're not the worst either," she reminded him. "And there are days you remind us all of that. I guess I hope that in the long run, on average, you'll do more good than not," she admitted with a shrug.

"You really believe I'm capable of that?" he asked, unsure whether to hope she was right or that he could convince her otherwise for her own safety.

Lisbon held his eyes. "I'd like to think everyone is."

He wasn't sure what to say to that. He ran his thumb over the back of her hand, "And I thought Grace was the ridiculous idealist of this team."

She swatted him in the shoulder.

He smiled behind his teacup.

"You alright?" she asked him after a moment.

He shrugged.

"You want another cup of tea?" she asked after a moment of silence.

That got his attention. "Two cups of tea, Agent Lisbon? Why? Do I really seem so sad?"

"Nah, I'm going to make myself another and I thought I'd be polite," she shot back, but the faint blush on her cheeks revealed the lie.

Jane decided to let it slide. "Well, either way, I'd love one," he told her.

"Fine," she told him, standing up.

"Can I wait on your couch?" he asked.

Lisbon paused halfway across the room. "Since when do you ask?" she wondered.

He paused. "Fair point," he said, as he stretched out and closed his eyes.

Even though he couldn't see it, he knew she was smiling at him. He could picture her expression, protective, concerned, indulgent.

Then she turned and went to make more tea.

"Thank you, Lisbon," Jane said softly, just before she left the office.

Still, he knew she'd heard him. He heard her pause in the doorway, but she didn't reply. It didn't matter. He hadn't expected her to.

xxxxx

The End