A/N: For Nana, who requested "Loaded." This didn't turn out exactly how I wanted it to, but it's close-ish. I hope you enjoy it.
Lisbon had asked him about his pockets once, why he had so many.
Jane had grinned and told her they were to keep things in.
She'd rolled her eyes and called him a smart ass.
But even if his response had sounded facetious, it'd also been true.
When you were a con-man (or a psychic, if we were dressing it up a bit), it was always a good idea to have a few places to hide things on your person. What better way to do that than an excess of pockets?
Jane used to keep tons of things hidden in there. Spare pieces of costume jewelry, tarot cards, regular playing cards, a rabbit's foot, a mirror, a pencil, a small piece of a crystalline stone, a marble, a small silver chain. Some for obvious reasons, others for reasons not so obvious, all had their purpose.
None of them were there now.
Except for his dice of course. He couldn't give them up.
He'd had them made specially.
Everyone in his old line of work needed a pair. If you were going to gamble with certain people, you needed a pair of dice whose outcome you could predict. Never knew when you might need to win a hand, or even lose one. After all, deliberately losing a few thousand dollars was better than losing your skin.
Sometimes you needed to know the outcome going in.
All dice games were games of odds; you played the probabilities. Jane's dice just made those probabilities a little more favourable.
With those dice in his pocket, Jane always felt more secure.
They allowed him to manipulate the odds in his favour.
And now, in his new job, they reminded him that if he was going to rush in to confront a criminal, he'd need to learn to manipulate his probably adversary first.
The dice had become his touchstone, his talisman.
They held a kind of power.
Once they were thrown, things changed.
That's what happened when things were loaded.
Lisbon was used to having it at her hip..
Some days it almost felt like it was a part of her, another limb, but not quite.
It wasn't a power thing, at least she didn't think it was.
But it had become part of her identity almost.
She was a CBI Agent, an officer of the law. As such she'd been issued the appropriate weapon.
Now her gun was as much a part of her as her badge.
As her job.
Her gun was constant when she was out in the field. Walking into a dangerous situation, she knew it was there, either for protection, or to protect.
It did give her a sense of power, of authority, she won't deny that. A loaded gun was awfully persuasive after all.
It gave a person an edge, allowed them to sway the world to their will. It certainly increased the probability of a favourable outcome.
It allowed her to sway the world to her will.
Although, It wasn't something she was ever cavalier about.
Lisbon understood the responsibility of carrying a firearm to protect the public, reveled in it actually.
It was a necessary part of her job.
The gun evened the odds.
Her gun could be used to protect a life or to take one.
In the right hands it held a certain kind of power.
She liked to think her hands were the right ones.
She knew the price of using it.
Shooting a loaded gun changed things. Hopefully for the better, but not always.
Things always changed afterwards; she'd made peace with that.
She felt secure when she held her gun.
It was loaded.
Smart people create tools to bend the world to their will.
Jane and Lisbon were both smart.
Power and control were important to both of them.
They both needed an edge, in all situations..
They didn't just manipulate the world, they manipulated each other, weapons loaded and held in reserve.
Loaded but almost never released.
Who knows what would happen if they were.
Far better to deal with each other carefully.
Each well aware that the other woas a worthy adversary, well-matched.
So they were careful. Always, always.
Both aware of the limits of each other's control.
Both aware of each other's armoury.
Both aware that it would be wiser not to push.
But both too invested not to.
"I'm observant!" Lisbon snapped at Jane storming up to the attic of the CBI building behind him. "I'm an investigator for god's sakes!"
"Yeah, and you do a heck of a job with dead bodies, Lisbon," Jane assured her. "Course, It's the live ones you sometimes have an issue with."
Lisbon grabbed his arm, spinning him to face her. "And what the hell is that supposed to mean?" she demanded.
"Oh come on!" Jane expostulated.
"I'll have you know, I'm very good at reading people," Lisbon told him. "Just because I'm not good enough to pull off a job as a fake psychic doesn't mean I'm incompetent."
"Maybe not in certain situations," Jane was willing to allow. "But in others..."
"Oh, you're overreacting," Lisbon growled.
"He was hitting on you!" Jane told her. He couldn't understand why she wasn't bothered by that. He couldn't understand why she didn't see it as a big deal.
"So you've said," she agreed wondering what the hell was going on wtih with Jane that afternoon (and afraid to ask).. "But I think he was just being friendly."
"The good Sherriff was not just being friendly," Jane disagreed. "He wanted something a hell of a lot more than friendship, in spite of the wedding ring on his hand."
"Since when are you the morality police?" Lisbon demanded, knowing this argument was not a good one to be having, but unwilling to let it go. "Even if he was hitting on me as a married man, and I'm not saying he was, it's not like you haven't done things that were at least as bad."
"That's not the point!" Jane cried.
"What is the point?" Lisbon wondered.
"He shouldn't have been hitting on you at a crime scene," Jane insisted. "Show a little respect to the dead."
Lisbon stared at him. "Jane, you've hidden things on bodies just to screw with the MEs."
Jane clenched his jaw, irritated with her for her (completely valid) argument. Damn it all to hell. Did she not see the difference? "How could you not notice how that guy was looking at you, treating you? It may have been admiring, but it sure wasn't respectful," he snapped. Jerk of a local Sherriff only had about half a brain. No way would the man have treated her right in any way.
"And what would you have me do?" Lisbon asked. "Take him out back and castrate him for looking at me funny?"
"He wasn't looking at you funny," Jane growled. At best he was leering, at worst... I just think it was inappropriate behaviour, is all."
"Funny," Lisbon snapped, his irritation throwing her off balance slightly. "No one else seems to have mentioned it."
"They're all too afraid," Jane told her. "Want to stay out of it."
Lisbon took a step closer. "But you're not afraid, are you Patrick. You have no problem getting in the middle of things, creating disorder. You notice things. And you think somehow that gives you a right to bring it all to light."
"I just think you should notice more," Jane said stubbornly.
"You think I should be more like you?" she countered.
"Not necessarily," he replied. "But I think you might start noticing when you're in danger. When you're wandering around with blinders on, ignoring the problems or the issues in your life because you don't want to."
"Unlike you, the poster-boy for coping with things in a mature and healthy way," she snapped, frustrated and starting to fight back. Tact had flown out the window long ago.
"At least I notice the things that need to be dealt with in the first place," he countered, inching closer confrontationally.
"Oh, I don't notice anything, do I, Patrick. Not a damn thing." Lisbon asked sarcastically.
"Sometimes I think you don't." Jane said honestly.
Lisbon continued to push, slowly moving forward to make her point "And you notice everything, do you? Everything about people, what they know, what they think, how they feel?"
Jane's heart rate increased with every inch of distance between them that she closed.. "I notice a lot," he said, the slightest hint of a tremor in his voice.
Suddenly she was right up in her personal space. "Whereas I never have any idea what's going on?"
"I didn't say that..." he swallowed, wondering if he'd pushed to hard, gone too far. She was so close, so very close. He'd definitely noticed that.
"What else do you know that I don't? What else am I missing? What else haven't I seen?" Lisbon asked angrily, barely resisting the urge to poke her index finger into his chest.
They both did.
He stood staring at her, standing there inches below him, it wouldn't take much to reach out and touch her.
Her question echoing in the air between them, loaded.
Would she take the shot?
Would he roll the dice?
Would they play the game through to the end?
Or just back down and leave everything loaded?
All games take risk.
If you're going to play, you have to consider the possibility that you might lose.
And you might lose big.
It was the other reason they were so careful not to play with each other.
Why they didn't just roll the dice.
Not always a good idea when the ammunition was live.
Not if you were unwilling to risk a shift.
It was a dangerous situation.
And when the two of them got angry, they tended to spark.
With a strangled gasp, Jane suddenly lunged forward.
Lisbon let out a muffled cry against his mouth, wrapping an arm around his shoulders.
Jane didn't know what he was doing, just that he couldn't contain it anymore. Something had just shifted.
And he knew that even if he wanted to, it couldn't be undone.
Lisbon swore she heard something snap in her brain, snap and then settle strangely into place as she pulled him tighter.
A new game had begun. One she thought she might be eager to play.