She sees Jane, who can cheerfully pluck people's thoughts from thin air. She sees Jane, a quietly sad man who zealously guards his sorrow and refuses to share it with anyone else.


Lisbon can feel her eyebrow rising way up, entirely of its own volition. "Nothing?"

"Nothing," confirms Van Pelt. She sounds confident, and Lisbon doesn't doubt her for a second. The note that Van Pelt has put together suggests only one conclusion: Timothy Carter has no connection to at least two of the earlier and confirmed Red John murders. It's not conclusive by any means, but it does confirm one, or a few theories on Red John—or on his seemingly endless vines of followers, or the Murderous Sociopaths Anonymous, whichever one would choose to address them.

And, so, then. What now? What can I possibly run with this?

They're all waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for Red John or his cohorts kill again. She knows it, her team knows it, Jane definitely knows it. They have to change the state of play, or else nothing will change. But how?

The question hits her harder than it should. She's expected the investigation to be slow-going, its progress as well as process to be fully frustrating, yet the exhaustion she feels in all of this seems wholly unexpected. Maybe it's the lack of sleep steadily catching up to her. She may have lectured Jane over his refusal to sleep, but it's another fine example of "do as I say, not as I do" she's demonstrating right here. Still, considering Jane's provided most, if not all, of the causes for her insomnia—

Jane. She eyes the empty couch in the bullpen. He wasn't in when she came in the morning, and he's still not in. She hopes he'd gone home the night before, not just haunting all the dark corners of the office building like he's more apt to do, but she's long ago learned that when it comes to Jane, her hopes and expectations never end up on the same side of the spectrum.

"Boss?" Van Pelt asks. Her voice is cautious, if not alarmed. "You okay?"

Lisbon blinks away the sluggish haze that seems to fog her vision and musters a smile. "Great work," she tells Van Pelt, and means it even more when Grace looks so unguardedly pleased at the praise.

They have little time for their little side project as it is, but Van Pelt has been conducting meticulous and careful research, putting the timelines together and picking up slack when Lisbon could mostly afford to concentrate on their current case, which is back to the starting point, once again. There's no way to prove or disprove whether Jameson was the mysterious boyfriend of the victim's, at least not without the man's own admission, which he's unlikely to give. They questioned the coworkers and friends, but nothing—Eurydice kept her secret all too well. The motel room couldn't contain any useful evidence, already cleaned and having been occupied by others. She's sent out Cho and Rigsby to question the motel staff once again, but at this point it's mostly to cover the basis.

Lisbon studies photos from the case file again. The only one not from the crime scene is a picture of her provided by her sister. Eurydice Jackson had a serious, delicate face that used to come alive with a smile. Used to. What happened to you? Lisbon asks, as she's done many times to the pictures of hundreds of other victims. And as always, no one answers back.

But the much-needed break comes later, just when Van Pelt is about to summarize the third set of analyses on the data available on Red John.

"They remember seeing him before," Rigsby announces as he enters the bullpen, each step hardly masking excitement. "At the motel. At least two of the staff actually recall seeing Jameson. They don't think they saw him with the vic—he came in by himself and left by himself, apparently—but at least they confirm seeing him two or three times within the last couple of months. Oh, and get this." Rigsby stops and looks at Cho, who picks it right up.

"His wife's parents are still ostentatiously the owner of the company that Jameson operates." Cho sounds considerably calm compared to Rigsby, but even a slightly brighter tone of his voice practically equates to bouncing on the floor for Cho. "They've been on the board of directors for the parent company for decades. Greg Jameson has no other family on his side, and he's been living with them in their old family mansion in the suburb even after his wife passed away."

Lisbon slowly takes in the information. It's good, very good, almost cinching the facts together, but it's not quite as neat as it could be. Even if Jameson was the mysterious boyfriend, and even if he was sneaking around so his former in-laws wouldn't find out about his affair, what could be the motive for killing her? And why at a dingy street corner where drug dealers frequent? There are too many questions to chalk it all up as a crime of passion, either. "Do we know if there was a pre-nup or something equally legally binding?" she asks, building a test scenario together. "Anything dictating that once he's in a new relationship, it'd cost him the company even after the wife's death?"

"Don't know yet, but we'll find out," Cho promises.

"Oh, indeed we will," Jane pipes up, turning the corner and appearing like a mirage out of the thin air.

Jane takes a sweeping look at the team, beaming brightly. Lisbon lets out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding, and then immediately berates herself for it. After all, there's been no reason to worry over him anyway. He looks sunny and sounds cheerful, without the lack of sleep taking visible tolls on him—unlike her—and he's showing no sign of the odd mood swings that seem to seize him as of late.

The begrudging resentment, though, quickly gets edged out by trepidation at the idea of Jane attempting to find out about the pre-nup, and all the dramatic flouncing, grand gestures and some impressive fits that would inevitably follow some clever schemes Jane must be devising in his head right now. "No, no, no." She shakes her head emphatically just in case the last three no's haven't gotten across. "If we do this, we're doing it right. No funny business."

"Uh-huh, sure, whatever you say, Lisbon. So, do we go talk to Jameson or do we bring him in?" Jane is still beaming and he sounds just about the same, but he isn't looking at her, even when he's talking directly to her.

If she didn't know any better, she might conclude that he's avoiding her, but she does know better, so she pushes away the stray thought and tugs at his wrist until he faces her fully. "No funny business, Jane, you hear me?"

Only then his eyes slide over to meet hers, and abruptly she feels her hand freeze in midair. There's something incongruently quiet about his eyes that takes her back to the night before, to the feel of gentle fingers brushing her hair away from her face—that she can't, she won't, think about right now, not in the middle of the office, surrounding by her team, in the bright daylight that conceals nothing.

She lets her hand fall and watches his face just as something else clicks in place, dislodging the look in his eyes as quickly as it's appeared. "Of course not. No funny business," Jane echoes solemnly, a perfect imitation of an errand child being thoroughly chastised. "No funny business, no dilly-dallying, I swear."

And then Lisbon has to grapple with a sudden urge to shake him, and not just because she doesn't believe a word that comes out of his mouth. She's always preferred this Jane—bouncing with boundless energy and dealing out sharp words slick and fast like quicksilver—over the other Jane she knows, a quietly sad man who zealously guards his sorrow and refuses to share it with anyone else.

But this Jane, this blindingly brilliant Jane that she always finds difficult to look away from, is only one of his many faces, the facade he likes to adorn for his convenience, and she wants—

Wants what? Something not feigned? Something real? From Patrick Jane? It's a ridiculous, laugh-out-loud concept. Since when did she begin assume that she suddenly has a right to demand from him something that isn't just a front? More to the point, when did she begin to think he might let her?

She needs to collect herself, so she clears her throat and rolls her eyes for effect. "Honestly, why do I bother?" she mutters, and it's moderately successful. At least, it doesn't come out as embarrassingly plaintive.

Jane grins like there's nothing more delightful. "Ah, so you are finally learning, grasshopper."

"Call me grasshopper one more time and I am shooting you," she growls, ignores Jane's quick miming of zipping his lips together, and turns to the rest of the team. "Bring in Jameson. Let's hear what he has to say."

Jameson, it turns out, has little to say, but what little he does say, he does it oh so unfortunately well.

"You lied to us, Mr. Jameson," she starts, seated across from him in the interrogation room. Everyone except Jane is watching from the other side of the glass. Jane, for his part, has taken up his favorite looming position at the corner of the room.

Jameson, Lisbon has to admit, is sharp enough to realize that there would be no point in hedging. He offers them a thin-lipped smile instead. "I suppose I did."

"So, you were there at the motel with Eurydice Jackson the night she was murdered," Lisbon presses.

"I met her at the motel around nine-thirty that night, yes, and we were together for about an hour." His words are measured and matter-of-fact. "She left before I did, about ten-thirty or maybe just before eleven."

"On foot?" asks Lisbon, sounding dubious even to her own ears.

"She usually took a cab, so I assumed she called for a taxi while I was in the shower."

"She didn't that night. We checked."

That doesn't faze Jameson. "I assumed she did. My assumption turned out to be incorrect."

His face is carefully blank and Lisbon stares him for a moment. Usually prolonged silence alone is enough to make a suspect squirm in their chair, but Jameson bears it well without showing any crack for her to explore. So she goes right to the point. "Why did you lie, Mr. Jameson?"

Jameson has his answer ready, and he provides it without a single change in his inflection. "My reputation. The scandal could hurt the company and my position within it as well as hers, so we kept it in secret."

"Oh, really?" Jane takes a step forward, speaking up for the first time. There's an exaggerated tilt of his head that's supposed to signify curiosity, but it's more sardonic than anything else. "Does your company take fraternization between employees that seriously?"

"She was my subordinate," Jameson says simply. "It would've been frowned upon and would've reflected badly."

"Ah," says Jane. "On you, or on her?"

"On both of us. The company CEO fraternizing with an employee he was supervising wouldn't have looked right. And she would've been put in a difficult position among her co-workers for dating the boss."

"Ah," says Jane, once again, quite understandingly. "So you were just exercising proper gallantry."

The acidic words, dripping with contempt, should've done some damage, but they barely make an impact. Jameson lifts his eyes to meet Jane's, but there's no expected outburst or expression of outrage. He looks away, simply choosing not to respond.

That won't do, so Lisbon barrels forward. "So, you two were seeing each other. On a regular basis."

"Yes," Jameson answers, still impeccably measured.

"For how long?"

"For about a year. We got closer after we worked on our company's first commissioned project for the city together."

"And she was in love with you," she summarizes, less like a question than a statement.

That, unexpectedly, scores a hit. Jameson's expression shifts, holding something other than casual indifference he's diligently retained so far. Jane, too, notices. She knows it, because Jane's wearing his fine-tuned well, now look that he has on just before he pounces on an unsuspecting prey.

"Naturally," Jane says when Jameson offers no answer. "She was in love with you, but you weren't. No man in love would ever let a woman he loves take a step into that seedy motel unfit for any kind of company sharing affection. So, no, you weren't in love."

Jameson doesn't rise to meet the implicit challenge, but his glance turns colder, icier, when he regards Jane. "Maybe I wasn't. Maybe I was. I still didn't kill her."

"And you're maintaining that, even though you have no alibi to speak of?" Lisbon asks, not bothering to hide her incredulous tone.

There's an odd, disquieting expression on Jameson's face that she still doesn't know what to make of. When he speaks up again, whatever cracks they might've managed to open up seem plastered close again. "Yes, I am."

Lisbon decides to try something else. "Did your in-laws know about your relationship with Eurydice?"

That earns her Jameson's full attention. He studies her before he answers. "Now you are making incorrect assumptions. My keeping our relationship secret had nothing to do with Sarah, or her parents."

"Did they?" she asks again, flatly. "Yes or no?"

"No, they didn't," he admits easily.

"And why not?"

"Because it has nothing to do with them," Jameson says slowly, as if it's him who needs to scrape the very last bit of patience to carry on this entire conversation, not Lisbon. "You're wrong if you believe that to be the case. Someone else killed Eurydice, and you are wasting your time with me." He holds her gaze, steadfast and unwavering. "Is there anything else you wish to ask?"

Lisbon sees, in the corner of her eyesight, the way Jane is considering Jameson, which alarms her a little. Before she could say anything, though, Jane proceeds to shrug and say, "Nah, not really."

Jameson turns to Lisbon. "Then, since you know where to find me when you have more than just circumstantial evidence to accuse me of a murder and want to charge me with something concrete, may I leave?"

She throws a quick dart of a glare at Jane, but it doesn't even register. And it's a moot point anyway, because Jane isn't exactly wrong. There aren't any more questions to ask, and holding Jameson now would be a pointless exercise.

Lisbon lets him go, if reluctantly; when they're finished, her team slowly gravitates toward her and gathers in her office.

"That didn't exactly go well," says Van Pelt.

"No, it didn't," Lisbon agrees with feeling. "Cho?" she prompts, trying not to sound too hopeful.

Cho's shaking his head. "His family lawyers are stalling and refusing to give us anything about the pre-nup, at least not until Steven and Rachel Patterson, Sarah Jameson's parents, return from their trip overseas."

"They are cutting the trip short after finding out that their son-in-law could be suspected of a murder," Rigsby adds. "Evidently, they're quite upset."

"It'd upset me if my son-in-law turns out to be a murderer," Van Pelt points out.

"Um, no, actually." If a grownup man can be described as squirming while standing perfectly still, Rigsby's doing a fairly decent job to qualify. "They're upset on behalf of him. They believe he would never hurt anyone, let alone murder a woman he worked with. And they insist Jameson's still grieving, after all these years, so he should be left well enough alone. They're coming back to make sure that he is. Left alone. By us, I mean."

"Good grief," Jane harrumphs loudly, stretching widely on her couch. He's already got himself a cup of tea in one hand, and doesn't at all look concerned. "A fine rigmarole we find ourselves in, isn't it, Lisbon?"

Lisbon thinks for a second. She's an officer of the law, and it's against that very law to shoot an unarmed man who doesn't pose an immediate threat. That still holds true, just as it did last night. So, shooting Jane in front of all these witnesses is truly not an option.

"Someone else in the family has to know about the terms of their pre-nup," Van Pelt suggests, neatly diverting Lisbon from giving into homicidal urges. "Maybe we can go talk to the friends of Sarah Jameson's."

"And we need to find the gun," says Cho. "Where did he get the gun? If we can trace the ballistics, we may be able to get somewhere."

"Cho's right," Lisbon decides. "Finding the terms of the pre-nup may help, but Jameson isn't wrong. Even if the terms stated that the company would default back to the wife's family once he begins any other relationship, that's still all circumstantial and it proves close to nothing. We need a solid piece of evidence."

Jane casually takes a sip of his tea. "Oh, ye with so little faith. When has that pesky little thing like the lack of evidence ever stopped us?"

Shooting him, Lisbon decides, may still be an option.

She shuts her eyes, counts till ten in French, and issues her orders. "Van Pelt, you take the Pattersons angle. Rigsby, let's test our luck once again and check whether anyone's seen Jameson in the area the vic was killed. Cho, you get the ballistics and check whether the gun that was used to kill the vic was used in any other crime. I'll check with the DAs, see if there's anything we can use to pump the family lawyers for information. Jane, anything you want to contribute?" she adds the last part pointedly.

Jane, apparently having decided that testing how close Lisbon can be pushed into breaking the law would be a fun way to end his life, doesn't even look up while flipping through the book on his lap. "Oh, you're doing all so well all by yourselves. No need for my help, I think. Do go on and proceed as usual."

Lisbon is rather proud of how quick on the uptake her agents are. And there's no better example of it than how, after staring at Jane for a second and spending half that long on Lisbon, all three of them opt to leave her office as quickly as humanly possible.

She shuts the door and whips around to face Jane. "If you already know how to corner Jameson but holding out on me on this, I swear I'd—"

"Ooooh," Jane says expectantly, looking up from the book and training his twinkling eyes on her, "you'd what? You'd what, Lisbon?"

He's goading her. Of course he is. There is a price to be paid being the only witness to Patrick Jane's moments of weakness. Lisbon sighs and runs a hand down her face. "Whatever you're planning, just try to tread carefully, okay?"

"What makes you assume that I have a plan ready?" Jane raises one expert eyebrow at her, reaching for his tea again. "As flattering as it may be to let you go on thinking I always have everything figured out, I haven't the foggiest idea where to go from here, truly. And since when does this whole rich, influential people exercising their undue influence worry you, Lisbon?"

"It doesn't." Well, it's not just that, at least. Something else doesn't quite fit about this entire scenario, and she can't put her finger on it. And Jameson— "Just try to take a different approach, for this once," she implores. "Pick the path of the least resistance. Try not to irk so many people if at all avoidable. I know how much of an ordeal that will be for you, not being as aggravating as you can possibly be, but do it as a favor, to me."

Jane stares at her, thoughtful and considering, above the rim of his blue teacup. It's a look she loves to hate. Or hate to love. One of these days, she'll figure out which. She's dreading the day when she'll figure out which.

"Ah," he says, making it sound like a quiet Eureka! so she knows it's going to be bad. And her prediction is proven correct, because he follows it with: "You feel that Jameson earned some compassion. Because he's a widow."

Just like I am may be on the tip of his tongue, but he doesn't have to say it out loud for her to hear it.

She shouldn't have to remind him of this. She really shouldn't have to, but he's making her. Damn him. "No," she snaps, "because if he isn't our killer, then he's lost two women in his lives already and there's no reason to make it more difficult for him."

But Jane, of course, isn't done. "You want me to be considerate. You want me to be kind. You want me to be a good man," Jane says, and he sounds regretful. Genuinely, movingly regretful, drawing a fine line between an act and a display of honesty, and she sees, not for the first time, how good a con man Patrick Jane really is. "That's very sweet of you, Lisbon. Misguided, but sweet, nonetheless."

The patronizing tone sets her teeth on edge, even when she knows that this is only Jane's—annoyingly effective—defensive mechanism in a full swing. "You already are a good man," she says, consciously trying to un-grit her teeth.

He looks at her in frank disbelief.

"Okay," she concedes, "so maybe at times you can be a selfish and egotistical ass—"

"Why, Lisbon," he says, mock-affronted by the accusation.

"—but that doesn't mean you can't be both," she concludes, as firmly as she can and leaving no room for further discussion. "You can tell yourself whatever you want, that you don't care, if that makes things easier for you, but that doesn't change who you are, deep down."

For a second, she thinks she sees that quiet look returning to his eyes again, but in another moment, Jane is ruefully shaking head. "After all these years, your naiveté still astounds me. Really, Lisbon. You should know better."

It's not just the words themselves. Not just the words, but the softly chiding tone of his voice accompanying the abject pity in his eyes that actually stings. So, he's been aiming to hurt. To hurt, to claw back, to push her away.

She's not unused to this Jane, either, and the thing to do would've been grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him until he's startled of his practiced mask, and then thoroughly making him pay for his audacity to pull a fast one on her. But she still feels the sting somewhere inside her that she's stupidly left unguarded, so when the question slips out of her, it's mostly an unthinking, unplanned act:

"When are you going to forgive yourself?"

Unthinking, unplanned, and she can't reel it back in.

Jane doesn't freeze, like she does, because he has too much control over himself, but she feels his pause, the way he quiets into stillness.

"You didn't kill your family, Jane." This should count as the world's most unnecessary reminder, but the words stumble out of her anyway, even when this entire conversation is rapidly spiraling out to where neither of them wants it to go.

And she only realizes the extent of her mistake when Jane says, "No." His voice is taut. "Red John did."

She almost shuts her eyes, just then. She knows what follows after his line, even though it's never been uttered: And I let him.

She can see the words written on his face, even when not a single word has been uttered to be avowed again. Red John killed my family, and I let him. Over and over and over to himself. Every time unsaid, every time a reminder and just as punishing, and—

Words, still stumbling, are stuck somewhere inside her chest. If only a right assembly of words, given to him at the right moment, could ease his pain and solve all their problems. If only—

But Jane never gives her a chance. "You look tired," he tells her, sounding almost normal again. "You should go home early and get some rest." Normal, and almost gentle, even though the walls have drawn up around him once again, heavy and impenetrable. "And you're right—we'll catch the killer, one way or another, like we always do."

He turns around to leave, and in his profile, she sees Jane, who can cheerfully pluck people's thoughts from thin air. She sees Jane, a quietly sad man who zealously guards his sorrow and refuses to share it with anyone else. Not even with her.

And the words become unstuck, just when he opens the door.

"For once, Jane, let me win," she asks him, because seeing him breaks her heart. "For once, let yourself off the hook."

His hand on the doorknob stills. He doesn't turn to see her, and for a long moment, he doesn't move from the doorway.

When he finally does, he turns around just a little, but he doesn't meet her eyes. "Like I said, Lisbon." A quick grin he grants her is not a happy kind. It never really is with him. "I'm not a good man."

This time, she doesn't—can't—stop him when he crosses the doorway.

Not even when he closes the door, leaving her behind.


TBC


A/N: I am so amazed that some of you are still following the story, despite the sporadic updates that happen at a snail's pace (well, a snail would've been faster, really). I do have the ending written, and I have a little more time now, so I hope to wrap it up before the next season. Thanks for the lovely comments and all your kind encouragement. They're much appreciated!