For forthecoast, whose prompt was pretty much the best thing ever. I have decided, this fic is basically my ship manifesto, albeit in an unusual form. But really, that's what it is.

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You had to come along

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Patrick Jane was solitary by nature. Maybe he hadn't always been that way, but one's family being brutally murdered tended to change a person. Now he had to walk a different path. His own path.

Teresa Lisbon was independent. She'd learned a long time ago that if she didn't do something, it wasn't going to get done. Someone had to take responsibility. She was used to that someone being her. Why would she bother leaning on anyone else? They often couldn't be relied on anyway.

It wasn't that Jane didn't like people. He did, at least some of them. But he didn't have the luxury of 'people' anymore. After all, he was planning on killing a man. He didn't want to drag someone else into that. Besides, Patrick Jane was toxic to others. Best if they stayed far away.

Oh, there were people Lisbon loved. Her brothers, their wives, her nieces and nephews, not to mention a whole battery of aunts, uncles and cousins. She had a few friends who she was reasonably close to (plus a lot more mere acquaintances). Andofcourse she cared about her team. She'd protect them to the ends of the earth if need be. She cared for people. That didn't mean she had to let them learn her secrets. Or let them care for her in return.

People close to Jane got hurt. Then he got hurt because of it. The solution was obviously not to let people get close. Not anymore. Anyway, a solitary quest sounded so much more intriguing.

Lisbon knew her life wasn't all that balanced, but it was what she was comfortable with. She was better at dealing with people on the surface anyway. Besides, when it came right down to it, there weren't really all that many people she found herself wanting to get to know better.

Jane knew he used people. Not in the way he had in the past, not quite that badly, but he did use them. Sometimes he watched them when no one was looking, wondering what it would be like to have a normal relationship with someone again. At least now when he did interact with others, his intent was no longer quite so malicious. Maybe that was something. Maybe not.

Lisbon was getting set in her ways. Things were comfortable, if unexciting. She felt stable, though occasionally a little bored. A little lonely.

Jane thought things were going according to plan. Then she came along.

Lisbon was perfectly content with her life. Then he came along.

He hadn't planned for someone like her. Hadn't thought there was a need to. It never even occurred to him that someone like her could come along. (Hadn't thought people like her existed anymore.)

She wasn't prepared for someone like him. She'd worked hard to get where she was. Patrick Jane was a complication her life did not need.

She was amusing. The combination of her principles and the blinders she deliberately wore fascinated him. She was almost laughably straightforward, except also… not. She became a bit of a game, a challenge.

He was infuriating! Infuriating and childish and, and… unprofessional! He had no sense of personal boundaries. He did nothing but play games all the time. He was manipulative. He didn't care about the law, or police work, or probably even her team. Everything was a puzzle, or worse a diversion. And he did nothing but cause chaos wherever he went. What had she ever done to deserve this?

He'd noticed her walls of course. They were hard to miss. And Jane found he enjoyed nothing so much as causing a slight disturbance, nothing significant or life-shattering of course. Just enough that she'd come barrelling out of her office and around the corner to scold him. The cracks in her barriers were easier to see when she was angry.

Lisbon had to admit, he was good at what he did. Really good. She couldn't possibly have tolerated him otherwise. She found she liked watching him, seeing how he did it (not that she'd ever tell him that of course). He may have been intolerable most of the time, but at least he wasn't boring. And she'd always had a little bit of a hidden rebellious side herself.

The cracks in her barriers were also easier to see when she was upset. But Jane found he didn't like it when she was upset. Far better to stick with teasing and annoying her. That was probably safer anyway. Less chance of getting too invested.

He needed help. It wasn't really Lisbon's job (wasn't her job at all actually), but she couldn't stop herself. She was used to taking the lead. And someone needed to look out for Jane, and not just by making sure he didn't go and get himself shot one of these days. He was in so much pain, even if he hid it reasonably well. She could certainly understand the urge to hide it. She might not always like him, but she wished she could help him, maybe give him some peace. She knew it was idealistic, but that didn't mean it wasn't possible.

Jane spent a lot of time with her. She stuck it out with him, unlike everyone else. Soon her presence was soothing. Spending all that time beside her, he found himself getting to know her a little better. He figured that was okay. It was inevitable really. Besides, he found himself liking the stability she provided.

It was funny how quickly a person could get used to something. Lisbon adjusted to him in less time than she'd ever thought possible. Eventually how things had worked pre-Jane was only a hazy memory, muted and drab. This was her reality now. She hadn't actually had a partner in a while, still didn't really. But she did find she'd gotten used to having Jane always hovering somewhere near her elbow.

Jane's life was still all about Red John of course. It had to be. Even if he was working with her team now. At least working with them a little didn't seem to threaten anything.

Lisbon found herself thinking about him at the oddest moments, worrying how he was. Sometimes she couldn't resist checking on him. It was ludicrous. He was a grown man, even if he got into more trouble than a hyperactive toddler.

Then, one day, she got sucker-punched in the gut by a case. And Jane felt an overwhelming urge to make it better. That frightened him. Because in that moment he realized that she was a person. A real, whole, person. Lisbon wasn't a puzzle anymore. She was Lisbon, Teresa Lisbon. And he'd gotten far closer than he'd ever thought possible (or intended).

He solved a lot of cases. He solved a lot of cases. He solved a lot of cases… That was why she kept him around. That was why she protected him so fiercely. That was why she did what she did. Any other reason was just, unacceptable. Not to mention insane.

He tried to push her away again. He really did. But the stubborn little woman insisted on checking up on him all the time. And no one else was quite so much fun to tease.

When had her irritating consultant gotten so far under her skin? How had it happened? When had things started changing? This wasn't supposed to happen. At all.

To pursue a course in revenge one had to be cold, cruel, aloof. Jane was all of those things. He made sure of it. (Except sometimes when he forgot to, when he was with her.)

Lisbon couldn't help noticing how differently he treated her than anyone else. She wondered if he realized. She wondered if it was deliberate. She wondered what it meant. She didn't like it. (It scared her.)

He liked her. He really liked her. He'd accepted that when he started working with a team that he'd form at least superficial bonds with his colleagues. He hadn't expected this. Damn it. He wouldn't let it change anything, but… but... Damn her.

Lisbon had to admit he was charming. And attractive. She liked that sometimes, when it was directed at her. The charm was flattering, even if it was probably meaningless (a game to him). But what she might like even more was his instability. It might have made her feel a little better about the darkness swirling around inside of her. Like maybe she wasn't the only one.

That woman needed to be careful. Jane understood that she had an ingrained compulsion to save the world, but really. Did Lisbon have no sense of self-preservation? Clearly someone needed to watch out for her. She obviously wasn't going to do it herself. Jane scowled as he watched her try to brush off medical assistance, yet again. He strode purposefully across the lawn. Stubborn fool. He'd hypnotize her if he had to, but she was getting her wrist looked at.

He thought he could help her? Him? Patrick Jane? Please. She was fine. She'd do it on her own. Teresa Lisbon stood on her own two feet, thank you very much. What could he possibly do? At any given time, the man was at most two steps away from a crisis. No, she certainly wasn't going to lethim helpher. Still… It was almost nice that he wanted to try.

He knew that she fought with herself. He knew she was always torn between what she wanted to do and what she felt she should do. Noble minds always were. It was one of the reasons he was glad he was too much of a schemer to be bothered with that sort of thing. She needed a sounding board though. If she didn't start letting things out, she'd explode.

She told him about her father. About her father. How had she let that slip out? She didn't talk about that. Ever. She'd admitted it to Jane though. Why? And worst of all? It hadn't even felt strange.

He'd really done it this time. He needed help. There was no way he'd be able to get out of the little pickle he was in on his own. Maybe… maybe he could ask her? Shewas awfully good at fixing things. His plans for revenge were supposed to be a secret, but maybe it would be okay to tell someone… Just this once.

She inserted herself into his plans without hesitation the second he asked. Somehow she trusted him. She didn't know why. They'd stood beside each other for so long now... She'd accept the consequences of her actions. After all, she couldn't just abandon him to his fate, no matter what he'd done.

He didn't understand. She'd come to see him. In jail. (Of course she'd come to see him.) She'd checked herself out of the hospital against medical advice (of course), driven across the city (with a bad shoulder, obviously), and showed up during visiting hours with a smile on her face that promised to try and save him. She didn't hate him. He'd just shot a man and she didn't hate him. He'd assumed that would drive her away. It was the only thing he'd regretted about the whole thing. But she was still there.

Part of her wanted to be so angry with him. Part of her wanted to tie him to a chair and yell. Except that she'd spent so much time with him. She understood how his mind worked. She'd seen his pain up close. She knew what Red John had done to him. She knew how destroyed he was about it. She'd be lying if she said the serial killer dead wasn't what she wanted too, even if she'd have preferred it if Jane hadn't actually committed murder to do it. At least he'd never lied to her. Besides, once she heard the death penalty was still on the table, yelling at Jane seemed kind of pointless. Like hell was she going to let him die for ridding the world of a man like Red John.

They were going after Lisbon. Lisbon. Why were they going afterLisbon? If anything, they should be going after him. He was the one who'd planned it all. He was the one who'd shot someone. Jane accepted that her job was dangerous, and if one day some psychotic criminal took her down in the line of duty, well, maybe (maybe) he could live with that. At least he could understand it. But Teresa Lisbon was not going to be destroyed by soulless bureaucracy. That Jane wouldnot allow.

She found she didn't even resent him for getting her job back. Why shouldn't he get her job back for her? He was the whole reason she'd almost lost it in the first place, and he wouldn't last a month without her. He owed her. She'd let him pay his debts.

After shooting someone, well, things got complicated. Being alone somehow wasn't quite the same anymore. He felt different. He wasn't sure why.

She'd almost lost her job. She should have been more upset about that, but she was strangely okay about it. The trade-off felt somehow worth it. Because the two of them had achieved something necessary. Now she was back. She was her job again, and she did things alone. Except when she did them with Jane. When had that happened?

He found himself not liking it when the team abandoned the bullpen after a case. Being solitary got tedious. Lisbon was still around though. Maybe she wanted a cup of tea. She could use some time to relax. He'd brew a pot.

She checked in with him every morning now (and some evenings too). Just to see how he was, how his day had been. People needed other people sometimes, even Jane.

Wait, since when was he spending so much time with Lisbon?

Wait, since when were she and Jane…friends?

This wasn't supposed to happen to him. She wasn't supposed to be... her.

She'd never planned this. Why had he happened to her?

He was Patrick Jane. He was Patrick Jane, and the serial killer wasn't dead yet (and that was something he knew she would force him to deal with eventually; she'd still want to be involved, stubborn woman). Patrick Jane was focussed only on revenge. Patrick Jane did things alone. Patrick Jane didn't have anyone. Patrick Jane…

She was Teresa Lisbon. She stood on her own two feet. She didn't rely on anyone, and she certainly didn't need them. No one got that close anymore. No one… No…

Patrick Jane didn't let anyone in.

Teresa Lisbon didn't let anyone see.

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Jane leaned against her office doorframe. He tapped lightly against the door.

Lisbon looked up from her file immediately. She knew who it was.

He raised his eyebrows and glanced pointedly at the clock.

She rolled her eyes and gestured towards the stack of files sitting on her desk.

He sighed and shook his head.

She crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair with a scowl.

He stepped into the room and mimed drinking a cup of tea.

She chuckled before she could stop herself.

He grinned and cocked his head towards the break room.

She got up from her chair in defeat almost immediately, trying to look resigned.

He smirked to himself as he left the office first. Their tea should be ready by now. She'd be along in a second.

She bit her lip and jogged a step and a half to catch up.

xx

Jane's eyes warmed as he handed her a cup of tea.

Lisbon let herself relax.

He should be doing everything alone, but…

She should be far more careful where he was concerned, but…

This wasn't supposed to happen.

She certainly hadn't wanted this.

But, it was just…

She couldn't explain why it was...

Okay.

Fine.

Maybe unexpected…

Originally unwanted…

But he'd allow it.

She could live with it.

One. But that was absolutely it.

Just one. That was still near enough to independence.

One other person.

A single person.

Her.

Him.

Them.

That might actually work.

xx

The end