Title - A Victorian Child's Book of Poems
Author - Kourion
Summary: I then pick up the jumper. Red and grey stripes, and the material also feels like velvet. Of course velvet. Because velvet is not an incredibly impractical gift for a baby. Not luxurious to the extreme. Yet, this is Patrick Jane we are talking about. So I'm not really surprised. Post 4x20
A/N: So this is my first ever post-ep tag story. :) Additionally, my spell-check feature was not! working! Again. Damn computer. All errors are my own, of course, and because I am not the best speller in the world, I apologize for any atrocious mistakes.
"It's so curious: one can resist tears and 'behave' very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer... and everything collapses." ~Colette
He leaves quickly, turning around and walking away with speed and purpose. I look up to catch a brief flash of his face - his smile slipping away like water down a drain.
The mood in the office turns decidedly more subdued afterwards.
No more jokes about how Baby Rigsby looks like an overweight British leader, or a Chinese tyrant.
Cho, in fact, says something about it being late, and Van Pelt stands around looking uncomfortable.
"Is he-?," she starts softly.
Always the empath.
"Oh, I'm sure he's fine," I reply a little too brightly.
An obvious, poorly expressed lie.
Anyone who knows Patrick Jane knows he loves kids. Loves babies.
Knows that he always makes time to speak to the smallest residents of every family home we have ever interviewed.
Claims that kids are so much more honest and straightforward. That it's "refreshing" because adults tend to lie "even when they don't mean to."
I wonder if the chronic mask of indifference and charm he wears would count as lying, to him.
"Well, you'll check up on him, right? Just to make sure...I mean, well, you're probably right. Jane's probably fine. But, you know he won't tell us if he's not, and I just-," the younger woman trails off into something too low key to fully hear.
Van Pelt, God bless her heart, worries as much about Jane as I do.
She's just more vocal about it. More obvious.
I can't help but think that if Jane feels that I'm as transparent as glass when it comes to my emotional states or moods - what he feels about Van Pelt. Of course, she's been much more guarded and less overtly open with her feelings this year - but for obvious reasons.
And she's still a genuine person.
Not that I'm not, of course.
I just have, according to Jane, "trust issues."
"Of course. I have a couple more reports I have to sign off on anyway, so I was going to make myself some coffee. I'll put the kettle on for Jane, see if he's up for some tea. Don't worry Grace - I'll be sure to check in with him before I go home."
"When is he not up for some tea, boss? Unless, I mean if Rigsby's made it. And no chance of that tonight. I'm sure by tomorrow, Wayne is going to have hundreds of new photos of baby Ben to show us."
I stiffle a groan.
"He strikes you as exceptionally eager too, right? I guess there goes his overtime hours. You and Cho will really have to say goodbye to your social lives now, I'm afraid."
Van Pelt bites her lip in a grin, then pats my hand twice. Softly. For one glorious second I'm reminded of a Star Trek counsellor off of any number of science fiction shows I watched as a teenager.
"You're good at cheering him up, boss."
I blink back surprise.
Touched, but also a little overwhelmed by Grace's words.
"I am, huh? And here I thought I was Jane's ultimate bane. His ball and chain to his every single attempt at having fun and living it up. Me and my ridiculous rules of no mask-wearing, no threats of bombs or viral agents...no hypnotic manipulation."
"Come on, boss. He's been rather good lately."
I chuckle, despite myself. "He has been, you're right. I guess that means I can go and cancel those obedience lessons."
Grace rises, stretches out like a cat, and bids me a good night. I can tell she's amused, and I mutter a sotto, "you too," before signing off on three more reports.
Two written by Cho, so the time speeds by.
I knock hesitantly on the attic room door, and patiently listen for any sign of life.
I frown. Maybe I had attributed excessive emotion to Jane's departure tonight.
Maybe he really is okay.
Maybe you're just worried for no reason, Teresa.
I slowly make my way into the room, scanning the dusty space for any signs of recent inhabitation. I note that Jane's Afghan throw is rumpled up on his makeshift sleeping area, indicating recent use, since he usually folds it up at the end of every evening. (I will not call two pieces of plywood with a foam camper a "bed.")
"Jane?," I call out evenly, my eyes still scanning the dark space.
Then I catch a shaft of light, and make my way towards the emergency door. I push against the old rusted thing and it opens with a groan.
Taking the fire escape two stairs at a time, I finally wind up on the roof in record time.
And then I see him.
Jane is sitting off at the farthest edge of the roof; one foot dangling over the edge, and one foot staddling the ledge and pointing to the safe security of space.
Damn foolish man.
One shock - one startle...
And he could topple over.
"Jane," I say softly - not wanting to rouse him too quickly from his internalized world.
Immediately I see his spine staighten.
Immediately I can see the tension fill his body - but he dislocates himself from the ledge and hops back down onto stable ground.
Flashes me an artificial smile.
I walk up to him as calmly as possible, my expression undoubtedly still giving away my worry, my reservations of his "okayness," as Rigsby would call it.
"Please don't sit like that on the ledge of buildings, Jane! Jesus - grow some common sense!"
"Oooh, widdle Lisbon is worried about me?"
I punch him in the shoulder.
None too lightly, if I'm being honest with myself.
He rubs his arm.
Yeah, that'll leave a bruise.
"Don't be a jackass. Worry about you? Yes, I worry you're going to topple over a building one of these days if you don't take better precautions with your...life."
"Meh. I was perfectly safe," he dismisses with a wave of his hand, making a wooshing sound that has my eyes focused on the glint of his wedding band in the rapidly cooling evening.
He seems to notice my attention, and quick as lightening has his hands back in his pockets. His classic, almost self-concious pose. Totally at odds with his general demeanor and one of the few expressions he chronically displays that underlines some sort of deeper anxiety, or some need to hide.
His "solid gold tell."
I walk to the edge of the building, look down from the drop. I then pull back, a little dizzy from the height.
Jane seems unfazed.
"Seriously, what are you doing out here?"
"Oh, I don't know. Just enjoying the sunset? It's rather beautiful tonight, don't you think? In fact, I think I'm possibly inspired enough to go and purchase a telescope. Take in the sky, you know. Study the clouds. Become a bona fide astronomer, or something."
Or something, indeed.
His face is now the complete picture of impishness.
"God - just one more reason you don't need to traipse through that should-be condemned attic space. I swear Jane - I don't want you up here so much. It's probably infected with asbestos."
"Infected?," Jane smiles at me, his hair ruffled by the wind - a light tremor working its way through his body.
"Hush. You know what I mean. You want to come downstairs now? I've put on the kettle."
Jane's grin turns into a full blown smile.
I do not fail to notice that none of his smiles tonight have failed to reach his eyes, however.
"Why don't we have our tea up here? It's beautiful. With the clouds, and the lights of the city."
"It is beautiful. It's also cold. Come on," and now I have one corner of his vest firmly clamped between my fingers, my body nudging him in the direction of the stairs.
"Yes Miss Pushy-Pushy," Jane quips, finally giving up his seat near the edge of the rooftop.
Much to my relief.
As we walk down the rickety fire escape ladder, and back into the darkness of the attic space - I hear him question, a little softer, "Really, Lisbon. What's the real reason you don't want me up on the roof?"
"Other than the fact that I don't trust your fool-hardy brain to not take some stupid, unnecessary risk and drape your body over the ledge of the rooftop? Oh, none - really."
I start to pull open the metal grated doors, almost flinching when Jane's hands come to grasp my own - with a force that belies his earlier brush-off comments.
I work my fingers against his, generating some lassitude in his hold, and he seems to get that he's grasping at me with an unnecessary intensity, and gives the softest, 'sorry.'
"I'm not," he starts, stops, frowns, continues, "I'm not depressed, Lisbon. I'm not in a bad, you know... head space. You know that right?"
When I turn to look at him, all I can see for a moment is the pitch black room he hides in. Then the ambient light streams inwards - creating a halo shaft of blond around his curls and making him seem deceptively angelic.
His eyes, by contrast, look unbelievably dark and engorged. The rim of blue around his pupil is very small.
Of course, it's also relatively dark up here.
"I know that, Jane. I do. I just..."
He waits patiently for me to continue. I close-open-close my hands in frustration.
"You're my friend, Jane. Isn't that a sufficient answer?"
He grins, delighted.
"Well, that's good. Now that this critical piece of information has been established, I promise to no longer sit on rooftop ledges."
I roll my eyes. "Shut up. You know what I mean."
His grin dies away, but is not lost entirely.
"I do. I do."
"Right. And I hate feeling so useless. You know what I mean," and now he seems to sober up - the hurt he's taken such pain to hide is back - like ink blooming out in water.
I can see the descension of his anguish - and something else, too - just beneath the surface.
Something harder to classify.
An anger, or a rage.
Before I can stop myself, one hand has moved from Jane's side to his face, to cup his cheek. My fingertips wrap around his temple and briefly connect with his honey curls.
He hasn't used any gel today, and his hair feels like silk.
"You know what I mean," I reiterate. My voice, even fainter, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry you're hurting."
When he opens his eyes, they are wet.
"It just comes up, sometimes," and his exhale is harsh. "It's not like I thought that I'd feel like this. I just saw that little boy's photo and it's like...it's like...," and his words break off into a gasp, while I come to envelope him in a hug.
"It took you unexpected."
He nods against me, his warm breaths panting out against the top of my skull.
"Yeah. It took me unexpected," and I hear him swallow down any lingering words.
He breaks apart first.
"Will you wait for me, Lisbon? I have something up here. And you've reminded me to get it."
His eyes are above and to the left of my line of sight.
"Of course I'll wait," I say quietly, and he nods. Holds up a finger, and rushes back into the dismal space of darkness.
How he can find anything at all in complete and utter blackness, I'll never know.
He takes a seat at the kitchenette table, glancing around nervously.
I'm about to pour the cream into his cup (cream goes in first, water goes in next), when he calls out, "Oh no. No need, Lisbon. I won't need cream."
I glance back to him incredulously.
"I won't need any sugar either," he says with a broad smile. "I'm going to have the Lapsang Souchong. I always have my Lapsang Souchong black. Cream mars the burntness."
Of course creams mars it.
But I respond without sarcasm and pull out a well worn bag of loose tea from China Town that reads in maroon print "Organic Star Lapsang Souchong," then scramble around for the tea infuser ball.
"It's in the fridge, Lisbon. In the condiments section."
I don't even bother asking him for the logic there, but nod and open the fridge, locating the necessary tea ball immediately.
"I have no idea how to make this one," and I give Jane a pert look. Everyone knows it's a formal art requiring months of specialized training to make the perfect cup of tea.
God knows I'll likely mar his tea if I attempt to make it so willy nilly. Without any formal instruction.
"Oh buck up, partner," Jane grins up at me. "I know loose teas can be intimidating, but I have complete faith in you."
I roll my eyes at the coffee maker - and he must guess the action because I hear him laugh, then offer me: "two tablespoons with a minimal steep time of 3 minutes would be perfect, Lisbon."
I nod, and follow his instructions, then chuck four white sugar cubes into my own oversized Starbucks mug, crunching up the old sugar with the base of my spoon and drenching everything with hazelnut coffee.
No fancy-pants coffee for me. Because unlike Jane, coffee making - to me - is not an art form. It's an energy necessity that allows me to do my job.
"You probably should just ask for an IV so that you can have it directly transported into your veins on a daily basis, Lisbon," Jane smiles, all sweetness and light. "It would save even more time that way."
"I'm just going to ignore your insanity, ok?," I say amusedly, taking a long schleping sip of coffee to set Jane on edge. The man always seems to turn into Mr. Prissy when he "takes his tea" and it just does something to me.
Makes me want to rile him up. Muss up his hair.
It must be the Big Sister still lingering about inside me.
Except tonight, that impulse is somewhat dampened by my friends pain. My awareness of his pain.
"So - what did you need to extract from the attic of filth?"
Jane gives me a pointed look. "It's not filthy, Lisbon. I've swept that attic at least five times. Washed the walls and windows as best I can. I even borrowed Luther's Oreck vacuum. Do you know that man keeps a state of the art vacuum in his office? And you call me fussy!"
"Oh, I'm sorry Jane. Didn't mean to cast aspersions on your impressive housekeeping skills," I swallow a sip of coffee, then add, "you better not have vacuumed up nails or paint chips with Wainwright's 'State of the Art' vacuum, Jane. Because if you have, I'm not covering for you."
Jane sighs, puts down a paper bag with the blue curlique writing of "Kindelmaar's Books" on the front. Waits for me - not so patiently - to stop talking.
"Do you want to see or not?," and I smile and make a zipping-my-lips up sign with my fingers.
"Okay then. This is for baby Benjamen. I had no idea what to get him. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't something that Rigsby or Van Pelt or Cho - or you - would get him. I spent at least three hours deciding."
I take in the book, the stuffed plush, the little jumper.
And I grin.
"So you went with prissy?"
Jane's face suddenly looks harmed, and I stop joking.
"I'm just teasing, Jane. It's perfect."
I pick up the velveteen rabbit, and examine it with care. Its body is a smoldering brown, like wood on fire. Round marble eyes, inserted deep into the body of the toy. Pink ears, inside, with a fine silky cloth that mimic the real deal.
The toy looks newly made, but ancient in design. The colours and quality almost make me gasp. When I pick up the body of the doll, I feel an unusual weight. The toy is probably filled with small beans or something to add a measure of life to the doll. It allows you to place the rabbit upright, and arrange the arms into a fixed position.
"This is a beautiful gift, Jane," I say, touched by the thought that he's already put into the selected items.
I then pick up the jumper. Red and grey stripes, and the material also feels like velvet. Of course Jane would choose velvet for a newborn's outfit. Because it's probably the most impractical gift for a baby that someone could choose. Luxurious to the extreme.
But this is Patrick Jane that we are talking about...
The third present is a rather large book - entitled: "A Victorian Child's Book of Poems."
"You do know that Benjamen is a boy's name, don't you Patrick?"
My smile should dislodge my friends anxiety, and he gives me a stern look.
"Boys should be able to play with stuffed animals and read poetry just like girls, Lisbon. I'm not a sexist."
I pick up the book, all gilded writing and covered with whimsical images and sketchings of a bygone era.
"No, you certainly aren't that..."
Turning the book to the first page, I take in the hand written inscription to Rigsby and Sarah's little boy, and read silently to myself:
Welcome to the world, Benjamen.
Stay safe. Stay happy...
and enjoy the many unique adventures of Planet Earth.
All the best blessings for you.
Hugs from Patrick J.
"This is a perfect gift, Jane. Truly. I'm sure Rigsby will love it. I'm sure Benjamen, once he's old enough - will love it ten times more."
Jane smiles at the table.
"I hope he likes the rabbit most of all. I... I had a stuffed giraffe when I was a little boy, you know."
Somehow, I can see it.
"Do you still have it? Your stuffed giraffe?"
Jane's eyes turn sad.
"No. My dad chucked him out when I was four. His name was Elmo. Long before the Sesame Street Elmo, of course."
"Of course," and I nod in his direction. "Why'd your dad do that?," and I take another sip of rapidly cooling coffee while trying to dispel the tightness in my chest.
"I had scarlet fever and my mom she - well she wasn't very good with me when I was sick, I guess. So it got bad. The fever, I mean. So she called my dad because she thought I was dying, or something," and Jane suddenly laughs, but it sounds raw, and it sounds hoarse.
And it sounds like he's probably cried over this memory in the past, and is now trying to play it off as something funny.
I'm not fooled for a second.
"She had him come get me and take me away. Her kid was dying for all she knew, right? It only makes sense she wouldn't want to have to deal with that."
"Jane - that sounds like-," but all I can do next is squeeze his hand in support, and hopefully have him take some comfort in the action.
He shakes his head at the table, and I go mute.
"I mean, I lived and breathed Elmo. I even took him into the bathtub with me."
I can see that, too.
"Was Elmo a water toy?"
Jane laughs, the memories suddenly taking on a note of relative ease.
"No, he was velveteen too."
"And you took him into the bath with you? God, that must have made quite a mess! I can only imagine how long it took for him to dry out."
"Mmm," Jane agrees, lightly, "Elmo was always very clean, that's for sure. It was - important - very important to me that he always be clean. Clean and happy. You can only imagine how much I screamed when I learned he had been chucked out. I cried for days, apparently."
I push my coffee aside, disinterested now with the beverage.
"That must have been traumatic for you," I say sadly, quietly. I don't want him to just make light of the assertion. Obviously it's something that has stuck with him all these years.
He nods, stroking the ears of the plush rabbit.
"I think it sort of was. Traumatic, I mean. I know that sounds ridiculous. But I loved Elmo. I really did. And I sort of thought of him as living, you know? Like I'd make sure to leave food for him in a little dish by my bed. And I used to talk to him. Tried to get him to talk back. Stupid kid."
"It doesn't sound stupid at all," I assert. "What happened after, though? Did your father get you another Elmo?"
Jane snorts. "My dad? Uh - no. My dad wasn't a big fan of boys having dolls. Said it made for having pansy sons. Faeries. Nice, huh? You know, I really think he thought I was gay growing up."
I wince. I can only imagine the type of childhood Jane must have had if his father had told him that as a four year old.
"I did manage to hold onto a book of poems, though. Our neighbour Lenora gave it to me. I kept it hidden under my bed."
My mind does a flash-back to when Jane was sick with fever as an adult - crashing at my place. The name Lenora sounds familiar and so I reach for the memory.
"Lenora - she's the snake lady? The one that gave you mini cinnamon donuts for singing show tunes?"
Jane looks delighted.
"Good recall, Lisbon! I'm impressed!"
I bat my spoon against my mug, and grin.
"I have a memory palace all my own, you know."
Jane bows his head. "My apologies. I did not mean to imply that your memory palace was less grandly developed than my memory palace."
He carries on, while I swat at his hand like the little pest he is.
"Anyway, Lenora gave me a book a lot like this one, actually. All this old fashioned poetry. I could read by the time I was 2 - just little things - but well enough that I really loved books by four. After Elmo was sacrificed to the burn pile, I just sort of lived in the world of books and fantasy for awhile, I guess," he takes a deep breath. "It helped me cope with stuff."
"Books can help with grief," I say easily, not wanting Jane to stop talking now. He's probably divulged more tonight about his childhood than in all the years that I have known him.
"They can help," he agrees, then seems to waver.
I go completely still.
"After Angela and Charlotte died, a friend of mine gave me a book on...," he takes a breath, and his features contort, "on children in the Victorian era. And at first I had no idea why I had been given the book at all. It was very in-depth, and it had this entire chapter of photographs of these little kids, Lisbon. Just - toddlers, some of them. All wearing their finest clothes. There was this one little blond girl. About five. She had curly hair, and-," and he swallows now, takes a gulp of air. Pushes his hands against the table to steady himself.
After a minute he continues.
"She looked so perfect. So peaceful. She was in a forest, sleeping? Up on this rock. This picnic scene. Laid out like a doll."
I try not to breathe too loudly.
"She was dead, wasn't she?," I ask - my voice brittle - when he doesn't continue.
Jane glances up at me quickly, his eyes haunted.
"She was. She looked so calm and restful. The book said that she had died of consumption. Died in the night, and her parents had called to have her photograph taken, so they could remember her. Back in the Victorian era, it was common practice to have children photographed shortly after death. Photographs were so expensive, but I guess any photograph was better than none. I guess."
He doesn't say anything more.
Not for over a minute.
I release my pent up breath.
"There's so much suffering in this life, sometimes."
He nods, croaks out a "yeah."
I get up, and refill his tea mug with more Lapsang Souchong. I want to keep the atmosphere as non-restrictive as possible because - honestly - I'm surprised that Jane has told me half the things he has tonight.
Surprised, but relieved too.
It's not healthy to bottle up emotions.
I know it.
Because I've done it myself.
But I want more for Jane.
I want him to heal.
I want that so much.
"Did the book help?," I query, pouring the tea into his jade cup.
"I think it made it more real, in a sense. It made it more real - what I was experiencing - but less personal. Does that make sense?"
I nod, fully watching Jane now. Trying to meet his eyes.
"I think so. It reminded you that many have lost the ones they've loved. That it's not just something that happened because of anything you did. That life is fragile. Even at the best of times."
He murmurs an "it is fragile."
"It is," I agree. "Very. It is always changing, and a lot of that change brings terrible loss. All we can do is celebrate the lives and the people that matter to us while they are here."
"Yeah," he states breathlessly, now effectively falling back into silence while he sips the last bit of his tea.
"More?," I smile slightly, and he nods.
The man has the bladder of a camel.
I drive him home.
It's late. I can pick him up. He doesn't have to worry about it. His place is on my way to the CBI.
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
I pull my car into the parking lot to his new apartment, leave the engine to idle.
He seems unresponsive for a moment.
"So I'll be waiting for you at quarter after seven then?," he tries finally, when I don't immediately say anything.
I hesitate, and he watches my hesitation with a smile plying the edges of his mouth.
"I'm only another two blocks over, you know," I start, uneasily.
Jane's smile enlargens.
"What are you really asking me, Lisbon?"
"I have a perfectly good futon, you know. I mean-"
His smile tempers off into something more restrained.
"I know you do. It's an excellent futon. I should know."
Yes, he should.
"And it's already late, and by the time we get up in the morning, well - one more pit stop...it doesn't make much sense..."
Jane's smile suddenly becomes toothy and child-like.
"Are you asking if I want to stay over for a sleep over? To watch romcom's and have girl talk?"
I send him a withering glare.
"Don't be an ass, Jane."
He holds up both hands as if I've trained my revolver on him.
"No assery, I promise. Can I borrow your ex-boyfriend's pajamas again? The ones that you pilfered from that poor, disavowed man? The grey ones with the baggy pant bottoms?"
I rub the bridge of my nose, feeling a headache coming on.
"Sure, Jane," I say in exasperation - outwardsly. "They're all yours, buster."
Internally, however, I feel much better.
Jane is alone so much of the time.
I hate it.
But I never know how to extend my friendship to him in a way that's truly helpful. A way that he won't refuse out of sheer pride. Or perhaps shame.
"And if we get up extra early tomorrow, maybe we can go and get ice-creams!"
I stare at him for a solid ten seconds, before he caves and starts laughing.
"I can't help it. You're so much fun to rile up, Teresa! And, I mean, I'd pay for the ice-creams. I have my debit card on me, somewhere."
"Don't push it, Patrick."
"What about bear claws, Lisbon? Can we stop and get bear claws at least? Or eggs? Please tell me that we can at least stop for eggs?"
We make our way down to my complex, while I field asanine questions from my somewhat pain-tapped consultant. Truthfully, however, I'm encouraged by his relative playfulness.
It's infinitely better than his melancholic bouts.
Those black moods can almost scare me in their intensity.
"Jane?," I say, grabbing for my house keys with one hand.
"Please don't make me shoot you."
He gives me a mini-salute. Some mixture of army move and boyscout, but mangled badly by the use of his wrong hand.
He otherwise follows me inside without further issue.
I don't miss the palest sound as we enter, however. His resounding, "Thank you, Lisbon," as I hold the door open for him.
And I don't bother replying.
Because he knows he's more than welcome to my friendship.
reviews are love.
should I do further tag-stories?