Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize belongs to me.
A/N: After the end of last week's episode, this post-ep just had to be written. It's a bit shorter than I'd normally write, but Simon Baker proved to us in the last five seconds of the episode that less is definitely more, so I'm continuing in that vein. Spoilers for 4x20, but if you haven't seen that...why are you reading fanfiction?
I'm forever grateful to Melissa, my beta for life.
And if I walk away, please follow me. -Josh Groban, If I Walk Away
Her face lights up when she sees the picture of Rigsby's son. His eyes are closed, and he has one of those adorable caps on his head. Benjamin is a perfect name, she thinks.
"He's so cute," Grace gushes.
"Yeah, if Winston Churchill was cute," Cho remarks to Jane, who is standing over his shoulder.
"Hush!" Lisbon admonishes them. "He's gorgeous."
"Yeah," Jane agrees quietly. "He is gorgeous."
Lisbon looks up in time to see Jane's forced smile turn into a grimace. She looks at him questioningly, but he turns and walks away from the table. Still immersed with their cell phones, Cho and Van Pelt have not noticed anything unusual his sudden exit. Lisbon hesitates, unsure if she should follow or leave him alone.
"Enough with the baby," Cho says, shutting his phone. "Let's eat."
Lisbon's still staring at where Jane had been standing, debating what to do. She thinks she knows what's bothering him. She could hear it in his voice, telling her exactly where his mind had gone. And she knows there's nothing she can do to make it better, because no one can change the past, but she still feels compelled to do something, anything.
"Boss?" Van Pelt says uncertainly. "You having some?"
"Just – uh – start without me," Lisbon replies as she pushes back her chair. "I have to – I'll be back."
She ignores Van Pelt's questioning stare as she takes off. She wonders how far he would have gone. He probably didn't leave the building, as it's late, and he sleeps there, but she can't be sure. Lisbon heads off to check the exit first.
But he hasn't made it that far. She finds him sitting on a bench by the vending machines, just around the corner from the squad room. His head is down, his posture tense. She suspects he can hear her approaching, but he doesn't look up. "Hey."
He glances at her when she speaks, but looks back down quickly. "Hey."
Something in his tone makes her wary, but she steps closer anyway. "You okay?"
He looks up again, and this time he keeps her gaze. "Oh, yes, I'm fine."
She doesn't think he's trying to be sarcastic, but there's something in his tone that's just wrong. He seemed to have forced some normalcy into his voice, but poorly, so that the tone almost comes across as mocking. For a moment she hesitates, unsure if it's worth trying, but in the end she stays.
Her tone tells him she's not buying it. But then again, she reflects, if he wanted to hide his feelings from her, he could have. He's not going to ask for her help, because he's not going to admit that Rigsy's news is killing him. But his voice betrays everything, a vulnerability that she has rarely heard before. She is struck by the memory of the last time she saw him this way, months ago, when she took him back to his house in Malibu.
She sits down next to him on the bench. "Talk to me."
He stares at her for a long time before finally muttering, "There's nothing to say, really."
"Jane," she tries again.
"What do you want me to tell you?" His voice is low, and she hears anger. "That I'm jealous of Rigsby and his son? That a part of me hates him for having a child?"
"That you miss Charlotte?" she suggests quietly.
His face tells her she's gotten it right. She can see the muscles tensing as he tries to keep his composure. Suddenly she feels uncomfortable. They rarely talk about his family, and when they do, it's only in the context of Red John. The actual loss he sustained, the feelings of guilt, devastation, and anger – they don't talk about these things. Mostly because he doesn't bring them up, and she knows better than to pry.
"I'm sorry," she whispers. She remembers, as she knows he does, too, the last time she said these words to him, standing in an abandoned house, staring at a blood-red smiley face. "It's okay that you feel this way. It's understandable."
It's strange, she thinks, hearing Jane speak of selfishness. She would be lying if she couldn't admit that he is probably the most selfish person she knows. But there is something about his selfishness here that is much more natural, more understandable than his usual games. It's human nature.
It kills her.
"You should go," he mutters. "Pizza's getting cold."
"I'm fine right here," she tells him.
He may not speak, she knows that. But she doesn't need him to. She doesn't need him to explain what he's feeling, or attempt to rationalize why he feels that way. He knows more about psychology than she ever will, and there is no doubt in her mind that he will rationalize and compartmentalize his feelings to the point where he can function normally around Rigsby and his son.
It's a gift, but at the same time, a curse. He may be able to reason out his feelings, but it's something he'll do alone. And she understands that, can respect that. But it doesn't make it any easier when she sees how much he hurts all on his own.
"Would you rather be alone?" she asks.
He considers her for a long moment before finally answering, "No."
A/N: Thanks for reading. Please consider leaving a review!