A/N: So, this is either the last chapter, or the next to last. I have an idea for an epilogue, if you guys are interested.
But this is it...The big reveal! I hope no one's disappointed.
Disclaimer: Hmmm...Not yet. Maybe for St. Patrick's Day? Please, Bruno?
Ok...Maybe not. I can dream, can't I?
"This was good." Lisbon smiled at Jane.
He grinned. "Thank you."
He had made her spaghetti, salad, and red velvet cake. Admittedly, the cake was from a box, but still, Lisbon was impressed.
"I didn't know you could cook."
He shrugged. "My wife…Never mind. Sorry…"
Lisbon shook her head. "I…" I want to know.
She never really had to finish sentences, not with him around.
He took a deep breath. "My wife refused to marry me until I learned to cook. So…Learn I did."
She smiled. She always enjoyed hearing what little he would share about his past.
Suddenly, she remembered.
She smiled. "Don't think I don't know what all of this is about."
He looked at her, surprised, but quickly covered it with a look of innocence. "What do you mean?"
She sighed. "This…The dinner, telling me about your wife…Spoiling me…I know why you're doing this."
He raised his eyebrows. "Oh?"
She nodded. "You're hoping that I'll break down and tell you about Craig."
He didn't really like the phrase 'Hoping I'll break down.'
That was that last thing in the world he wanted.
Silencing those thoughts, because he knew that's not what she meant, he said, "I told you I wouldn't ask you any questions about Craig."
Lisbon smirked. "You didn't say anything about bribery, and this…" she paused to gesture at her sauce-covered plate, "Is bribery."
He shrugged sheepishly. "Maybe."
She closed her eyes. He had done all of this to hear the story…So much….He'd even opened up about his own past. That was something she was convinced he was scared to do, as if, if he opened up the memories too many times, they'd just fly away.
And he'd done it.
To make her feel more open.
To make her feel more comfortable.
And she did.
She opened her eyes, the decision suddenly easy.
"Come with me."
The confusion was clear on his face, but he obeyed.
Once in the living room, she gestured to the couch, before opening up a box.
After digging around for a moment, (In which he could have sworn he saw the origami frog he gave her,) she pulled out a photo album.
Taking her place beside him on the couch, she started flipping through pages.
Finally, she stopped at one picture.
His eyes fell onto the sight of a much younger Teresa Lisbon, (In his opinion she looked as good now as she did then,) and a much younger Craig Matthews.
They were dressed up, (For some school dance, he guessed,) and their smiles were bright and cheerful. Genuine.
Lisbon leaned back in her seat, and almost involuntarily, his arm rested around her shoulder.
She made no effort to move.
She took a deep breath. "It wasn't like you're thinking, I'm sure. He never cheated on me, he never pressured me…I never got pregnant. It wasn't your average teenage nightmare. He was…Prince Charming. Sweet, caring…"
"But he hurt you." It wasn't a question.
She glanced back at the picture. "That night, after the dance, we went out for pizza. To talk, bond…You know."
He nodded, and she continued, "I told him about my mom. I mean, he'd known…"
She paused, and he could see tears shimmering in her eyes. Shimmering, but not falling.
He pulled her tighter toward him, wanting to protect her from the memories.
She started again. "He'd known about her dying, he just hadn't known…"
She gathered up every ounce of her courage before saying, "He hadn't known it was my fault until that night."
He froze. She started to pull away, obviously thinking he was horrified.
He pulled her close again. Not horrified. Just confused.
She continued, shaking, "That night…She wouldn't have been out driving. She would have been home, safe, with her kids. But…She'd promised to buy me a cherry pie that day, and when we got back from shopping…I realized she hadn't. And when I pointed it out, she told my dad she had some things to take care of and left…When that policeman showed up, all I could think was that she was killed over a stupid cherry pie… I never told anyone….Until…"
She was almost crying, but stopping herself, for his sake. Or for her pride's sake. He wasn't sure which.
He turned her slightly, so that her head was on his shoulder.
She understood the unspoken message: I'm here. It's ok to cry with me.
She struggled for only a moment, before giving in.
Years and years' worth of tears fell from her eyes, as she sobbed against his shoulder.
He gently rubbed her back, whispering nonsense into her ear.
Finally, her tears stopped.
He didn't say it wasn't her fault. He didn't have to. She could see it written in his eyes.
She considered for a moment, before deciding to finish the story. "When I told him, he freaked out. Told me I should have told him sooner. Told me it was all my fault, and that he could never forgive me. He broke up with me, of course…But he also told all of our friends. He told everyone in town that he met, really…Teachers…Cops…Everyone. But apparently that wasn't enough for him, because one day I came home and found my dad…He was completely drunk, and Craig was sitting on our couch. My dad….He looked ready to kill me."
He knew it wasn't a figure of speech. Suddenly, realization dawned on him. He held her tightly, but allowed her to continue. "He was yelling that it was my fault, that I killed my mom…Craig leaned over and whispered something into his ear…It probably saved my life, but…He said 'What's the point? She'll never understand…Why don't you just end it?' So he did."
She had no more tears to cry, but she shook in his arms.
He held as tightly as he could.
His mind raced. He'd always thought they were so different. Sure, they'd both lost people, but her mom was killed by a drunk driver, and her dad killed himself. There's no way she could understand his guilt, right?
Only she did. Maybe it wasn't her fault, but he knew she'd still have to go the rest of her life with that guilt, because it certainly wouldn't go away.
He'd tried so hard to push her away, because she didn't know darkness. She didn't deserve to know darkness.
But she already did…And he'd left her alone in it for so long…
In a moment of impulse, he lifted her chin, and placed his lips to hers.
Immediately, he felt terrible. She was probably more vulnerable than she had been in years. She didn't deserve-
But she was kissing him back.
He was being kissed by Teresa Lisbon.
It wasn't a hungry, desperate kiss.
It was soft, gentle…Loving.
The idea shocked him, but he instantly knew it was true; he loved her.
And suddenly, he could see it: Dates, dancing with her, proposing, (In a big, dramatic scene in front of everyone at work, shocking their colleagues, and earning him a hurled paperweight, but of course she'd say yes. Of course she would.) their wedding, a baby shower, holding twins, a boy and a girl, in his arms…Attending their daughter's wedding…Staring at his grandchild…He could see it all.
And for the first time, seeing a future beyond Red John didn't terrify him.
The one thing he hadn't thought of.
Red John would kill her for sure.
He pulled away regretfully.
She stared at him. "I can't lose you," he whispered.
She understood immediately what he meant.
"We will catch him Jane. We will. Soon. And I'll still be here."
He held back the desire to ask her to promise, knowing he didn't need to. She'd still be there.
He trusted her.
She stood, and he followed.
He left not ten minutes later, but just before he left, he pulled her into a tight hug. "Soon," she whispered in his ear. "Soon."
A/N: Hmmmm...I hope it wasn't too OOC at the end, with him kissing her. I didn't think it was, and honestly, I enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much. Reviews are loved, and God Bless.