Part 3: Teresa Lisbon

xxx

Lisbon watched him go for tea.

Everything felt so strange. Familiar, yet strange.

She wanted to be mad at him. She wanted to be so damn mad at him that sometimes her body ached with it.

But she couldn't quite hold onto it.

I'm faking my breakdown.

With that one sentence, said in her ear, in a church of all places, Jane had changed everything.

All the worry, all the panic, all the sleepless nights (she was so very tired). She still hated him, still wanted to hit him, but underneath it all...

He hadn't given up. He wasn't quite as close to slipping off the edge as she'd thought. He'd come back to her, sought her out.

Six months later than he should have, perhaps. Maybe far too late by most people's reckoning, but Lisbon still couldn't quite hold onto her anger, not even over the insane plans. Because the plans showed better than anything that Jane hadn't given up on the world. Not quite.

In fact, he was almost exactly like he used to be. Almost. It was shocking to see him in her office, fixing tea in the break room, leaning against the wall in interrogation.

In the interrogation room, with Lorelei, when Lisbon'd been questioning the woman, the two of them had found their old rhythm. Lisbon asking the questions, Jane observing, adding the odd question when it suited him. Even with Lorelei's attempts to throw her off balance, interrogating with Jane felt like nothing had changed. But something had, hadn't it?

It had to have.

He'd found her. God, he'd even apologized. And he'd meant it, he had.

She was still going to kill him though. How could he not trust her? After eight years?

And before he'd pointed a gun at her and pulled the trigger, and after he'd pulled her into his arms and held her tighter than anyone had in years, he'd... He had said it.

Good luck, Teresa. Love you, love you, love you, love you... It echoed through her like a beat on her brain.

She needed to forget it. It didn't mean anything. They'd both been running high, both been frightened. Neither thinking clearly. She knew that.

At most she would take it as evidence that the last eight years hadn't meant nothing to him. That they hadn't just been something he could toss aside without a backwards glance (while she lay in bed, haunted with fear for his safety when she wasn't around to check up on him).

She could check up on him now.

He was back. And he was making her tea. Just like he used to, before. Before, when...

When what?

Lisbon bit her lip.

There was so much she didn't know. She didn't know what Jane had actually done for six months? She didn't know all the details in the limo. And she still didn't know what was going on with Lorelei. She didn't like it though. No matter what Jane said. He might get blinded, or too involved. He probably already was. And he definitely wasn't as in control of the situation as he claimed.

He had slept with a woman he'd known could be one of Red John's agents.

He'd also faked his breakdown.

Exactly what else was he faking? What was an act, and what was...

Just how far was she being manipulated? Just how much of what he said did he mean? Lisbon spun in frustration, trying to figure out whether she hated him again, or herself.

She heard a voice behind her.

"It wasn't that I didn't trust you enough, you know," Jane told her, walking in the room with a pot of tea and a second cup.

"No?" she asked, spinning back to face him, and hating how hopeful her voice sounded.

She watched him shake his head slowly. "It was that I didn't think you were a good enough actress."

"What?" Lisbon asked, taking the cup of tea he was holding out to her.

"You had to be acting like I'd gone off the deep end, or my entire plan wouldn't have worked. I knew Red John would be watching me, and as a result you. Could you have been convincing if you'd known I hadn't actually given up on catching him? Would you still have tried to call me every single day?" Jane murmured.

Lisbon stared at him. Could she have acted upset that he'd left her? Would she still have woken up at two in the morning wondering if he was eating enough, or safe, or whether he was lying in a gutter somewhere, drunk and out of it? All of a sudden she was angry again. "How the hell would I know?"

"I didn't know either," Jane said calmly, glancing hopefully at her couch.

Lisbon slammed her cup of tea back down on her table, ignoring Jane's wince. She dropped onto her couch, clutching the arm for dear life and angling her body as far away from him as possible. Jane walked to the other side of the couch and sat down. Lisbon tried to answer his question. "Could I have acted worried that you were falling off the edge if you'd told me? You know, it's not like I haven't had any practice with that sort of thing already... with people who just..."

She shut her eyes, hating him for making her feel like this, hating herself for opening up the line of conversation. She couldn't talk about this. She wouldn't talk about this. He didn't care. He didn't...

She felt his hand brush against her shoulder before it was gone again. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "I'm so sorry Lisbon."

She turned back towards him almost in spite of herself. "Are you?"

He was staring at her knees. "Yes."

Lisbon watched as he set down his own cup of tea, picked up hers, and handed it back to her. She took it without looking at it, unable to take her eyes off his hand, which was now sliding down, finding her free hand, and slipping his fingers into hers.

She stared at their hands, remembering the now-familiar feeling.

She wasn't sure how long the two of them had sad on that little mount of dirt, Jane still trying to catch his breath, to calm himself, she trying to make him feel better, to reassure herself that he was still here and whole. That Agent Darcy had in fact arrived just in time.

That Lisbon had been able to save him, or at least send in the cavalry.

Right then, nothing else had seemed all that important.

Then Darcy had told them they could go back to the CBI. That she'd talk to them later.

Lisbon had driven Jane herself. She'd told herself that no one else had wanted to, that in his current state; no one else would know what to say. And maybe there was a grain of truth in that.

That wasn't the reason she'd done it.

She hadn't wanted him to leave again. Not even for the length of time it took to get back to their offices with Lorelei.

She was pretty sure she'd glanced at him every sixty seconds or so. Mostly he'd been looking out the window, or watching her.

Then she'd noticed his hand sliding towards her very slowly.

She'd (very casually, she'd thought) placed her right hand on the console between the seats.

He'd taken it almost immediately, holding on lightly. He'd never held her very tight. She could remove her hand without trouble any time she needed both hands to drive.

But he'd held her hand the entire way back. Even after he'd started making casual comments about the team, and the neighbourhood, and even Lisbon's new blouse. He'd held her hand through it all.

She'd responded in kind.

Because when it came right down to it, she wouldn't let him go. He might try to throw himself off the edge again in his attempts to catch Red John, and maybe she shouldn't help him. Not when he did things like go away for six months and refuse all help.

Maybe that path was futile. Maybe he needed to realize it.

But...

Suddenly Lisbon gripped Jane's hand tighter, refusing to release it, even as she set down her tea again, stood and opened the top drawer of her filing cabinet, took out a file and dropping it on his lap.

"What's this?" he asked curiously.

Lisbon settled back on the couch and picked up her mug of tea. "Look at it and see."

Jane set down his tea, and one-handed, slipped out the paper inside.

Lisbon felt her heart rate pick up, sure he could feel it if he tried, through their still-joined hands. She didn't care.

Jane skimmed the page quickly. "This is..."

"Darcy may not have been able to do anything about Vegas PD, but I could," Lisbon murmured.

"Jane looked at her in shock. "They've agreed to forgo prison time because of my association with you, give me probation and community service."

"Yes," Lisbon agreed.

"Provided I do my 'community service' with the CBI," Jane said slowly.

"Yes," Lisbon breathed out, anticipation building.

"Under your supervision," Jane added, looking at her intently.

She found a smirk to send him then, "Nobody else was stupid enough to take you on."

Jane glanced down at the papers on his lap, "This is real?"

"Bertram's already approved it," Lisbon nodded. "That scrawl in the corner's his signature."

"Darcy convinced the FBI we were undercover," Jane reminded her teasingly.

Lisbon bristled slightly. He wasn't honestly comparing the effectiveness of her and Darcy's attempts to get him out of as much trouble as possible? "For the faked deaths, not your six month breakdown."

"You could have been more convincing," Jane said leaning towards her slightly.

Lisbon glared at him, torn between wanting to hug him and hit him. "Why do you think that sentence is so reduced?"

Jane shrugged, acknowledging the point with a stroke of his thumb against hers. "So basically, you've arranged for me to work with your team for three months, for free."

"Yup," Lisbon agreed, taking a sip of her tea. Three months. She'd secured him on her team for a minimum of three months. Three months when she'd know he wasn't off getting himself killed. She thought that might help with... everything.

Jane let out a near silent whoosh of laughter. "This is slave labour!"

Lisbon shook her head. "Oh, it is not."

"I'm working without being paid," Jane reminded her. "How is that not slave labour?"

"You're providing a valuable service to the state of California, in exchange for which, you're not going to trial, or to prison," Lisbon reminded him. "Your payment is, effectively, your liberty. The fact that you're saving the taxpayers money just means that everybody wins."

"I don't mind going to trial. That can be fun," Jane mused.

Lisbon shuddered. She didn't think she could stomach another trial. "Jane..."

"It's just the principle of the thing..." he grumbled.

She flopped back on the couch, slipping her hand out of his. "Hey, it's your choice."

She watched him out of the corner of her eye, as he eyed her hand. "You know I choose you," he said softly.

Lisbon allowed herself the smallest of smiles. "Excellent."

"Even if you're little more than a slave driver," Jane added before taking a drink of his tea.

"Damn straight. I own you." Lisbon said happily, snuggling into the couch and taking a drink from her own cup.

She watched Jane glance at her sideways. "I suppose this is the part where you order me to make you more tea," he grumbled.

"Maybe in a little while," she told him. She wouldn't mind sitting with him for a few more minutes, if he could manage not to be a complete jerk for that long.

"I can't believe Bertram agreed to this," Jane murmured.

Lisbon shrugged. "Why wouldn't he? We at the CBI are helping to rehabilitate a man who's lost way after being taunted for years by the serial killer who killed his wife and child, a man who has provided us valuable service in the past, at minimal cost to the organization. The plan allows us to catch more of California's worst criminals, all while relieving the American public of the cost of trying a man for a crime borne of desperation. At the CBI we're not just being innovative in how we catch criminals, but how we deal with them."

"Teresa!" she heard Jane breathe in admiration.

She chuckled, trying very hard to ignore her blush. "Bertram's not so hard," she told him. "He genuinely doesn't seem to care about right and wrong most of the time; he cares about the politics of it. What did you think? That I couldn't make a good political argument if I needed to? Sorry Jane, that's you."

She felt him shift slightly on the couch. "Thank you, Lisbon."

She shrugged again, trying to ignore the affectionate smile she could see out of the corner of her eye. "I know it's not quite that new life you were hoping for..."

She felt Jane's hand on her elbow again. "Hey, I didn't say I wanted Red John's new life, just that I needed it thanks to the fake breakdown."

"Oh," Lisbon replied, her heart thumping all over again. Oh.

Jane was still smiling, though she couldn't quite look at him. "Not saying this life isn't without its drawbacks, but it's not all bad."

"Glad to hear it," Lisbon murmured, trying very hard to summon her anger at him for his completely ridiculous remarks in the last fifteen minutes and ignoring the pounding in her ears. Really, why did he say half of the things he did? Love you, love you, love you...

"Thank you, Lisbon," he murmured again.

"Whatever." Love you, love you, love you. Why had he said it?

She closed her eyes briefly. Well, she'd meant it to be brief.

A minute later, she felt Jane take her teacup from her and nudge her hip until she was half lying down on the couch.

"Jane?" she whispered, slowly opening her eyes.

"Yes?" he asked.

"What're you doing?" she murmured, as she felt him take her hand again, rubbing her thumb with his. It was... nice.

"Shh," he whispered soothingly. "Close your eyes, Lisbon."

She glared at him, not ready to give in. "Jane..."

"You're exhausted," he reminded her. "Just relax for a minute, before you drive home."

She tensed. Half of her brain was objecting, the other half was pointing out that her couch really was quite comfortable. And whatever Jane was doing with his hand (and he'd better not be hypnotizing her), actually felt really good. "Jane..."

"Just breathe Lisbon," he murmured. "There you go, in and out."

She sighed, and gave in. She was so tired, so tired. "You'd better not abandon me here, sleeping on my couch, for anyone to walk in on," she murmured.

She knew he was smiling. Damn that man. "I won't leave you," he promised. "It's not like I have any plans. Now, just try and get a little rest."

Not quite sure what she was getting into, Lisbon let herself drift off, comforted by the feeling of his hand in hers.

She still had questions, but they could wait until later. He'd still be there.

She still had him, for at least a little while longer.

xxx

The end