A/N: Look how speedy I was this time! Aren't you all impressed with me?
Request #11: Jane picking out Lisbon's Christmas present AND Request #12: Jane keeping track of Lisbon on television AND Request #3 (again) some of the conversations between Annie and Jane:
I'm sending you your Christmas present to Stockton. Christmas is in a month, but I'm telling you now so that you have enough advanced warning that you can plan your travels accordingly. I know you're heading east, but I figure that won't take all month, and you're due to go south next. If you want it, you know where to find it. It's up to you. Don't you dare thank me.
In other news, I very nearly got run over with a shopping cart yesterday. (I was pushing the cart, not someone nearly crashed into me with a cart. I realized after I wrote that sentence that it might be confusing.) Luckily, I have quick reflexes. Here's what happened. I was at the grocery store...
Jane folded Lisbon's latest letter carefully and put it in his glove compartment. So Lisbon was planning on sending him a Christmas present, was she?
She didn't have to do that. Even if the idea made him smile. Of course she'd bought him a present. He'd have to make a point of thanking her for it when he next wrote her, she had specifically asked him not to after all.
And obviously he was going buy her one back. Not just because she was buying him one either. This wasn't a reciprocity thing. It wasn't that at all. Jane tapped his fingers against the dashboard of his car. He hadn't really thought about Christmas much; it wasn't a big thing for him, particularly given his current lifestyle. But now that she'd brought it up, and now that he was thinking about it, of course he was sending her something. He'd have come to the conclusion himself eventually (even if the realization would have taken a little longer). He wanted to send her something. He wanted to send her something very much. Whether she sent him anything or not.
Just to let her know that he was thinking of her.
The idea made him smile.
Jane leaned back against the front seat. The next question was what to get her then? He wanted to get Lisbon something that she'd like, something just for her. Not something practical, nothing that could be classified as sensible. Particularly not anything like those leadership books she insisted on reading in her free time, which were really just more work masquerading as a hobby. Something more like...
Jane's face lit up. He wanted to get her novels. They would be the perfect counterpoint to Lisbon's unconscious tendency to let her job take over her life. They'd been discussing books off and on in her letters and he was constantly trying to convince her to take a little more time for herself, to relax. Novels would be perfect.
He needed to find a bookstore. Jane thought he remembered passing a Barnes and Noble on his way to the post office...
Mind made up, Jane started his car and turned back the way he'd come.
After all, he had Christmas shopping to do.
Jane walked confidently into the Barnes and Noble, only to deflate somewhat when he saw the sheer ranges of choice afforded to him in the massive store. Clearly he needed a game plan. He knew he wanted to buy Lisbon novels, and nothing that could be classified as even remotely practical. Which meant he would be sticking to the fiction section, and so could ignore a good half of the store. That made things more manageable in his brain. He decided to take the store section by section. Jane started wandering towards the fiction section, subtly doing his best to avoid the eyes of the salespeople. He was in no mood to be helped by an overly friendly college student eager to recommend the latest best-seller.
Jane considered his options, and what he knew about the woman he was buying for.. Then he smiled. Mysteries. Lisbon liked mysteries. She was on about the fourth of the Peter Wimsey novels. She'd probably read at least one other before Christmas rolled around, but that still left him at least half a dozen books in the series to buy her. Jane was pleasantly surprised to find them all at the store. He'd been expecting massive gaps in the series based on what was in stock. He supposed the store was preparing for the Christmas rush. He scooped the small pile of books up, rather belatedly wishing he'd thought to pick up a basket. Oh well, too late now. He would make do.
Jane walked slowly through the rest of the mystery section. He knew that Lisbon already had copies of Sherlock Holmes, so that was a no go. Besides, he wanted to get her something new, something that she hadn't read before. A set of colourful spines and ridiculous titles caught his eye. Setting down his pile of Wimsey, Jane picked out one of the books. It appeared to be a series of a young girl who lived in an English country house, liked experimenting with poisons, and, in her spare time, helping the police solve crime. They sounded ridiculous. Immediately sold, Jane added the first two books in the series to his pile.
Before leaving the mystery section, Jane doubled back to pick up a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It would make a good gift for Annie. After all, it wouldn't do to leave out Lisbon's niece (particularly if Lisbon was going to be visiting her family for Christmas).
With that, Jane turned and headed towards the romance section in search of a little variety; Lisbon had a fondness for romance as well. After shooing a salesperson away (though he did take the basket the young woman had considerately bought him), Jane started wandering the aisles, hoping something would jump out at him. He was loathe to admit it, but he felt rather out of his depth. Most of the books on the shelves looked strikingly similar, and Jane quite frankly had no idea where to begin. He wandered a bit aimlessly, until a series caught his eye, all with intriguing colourful titles. When Jane realized his chosen set of romance novels actually featured a ring of secret English spies during Napoleonic France, he was sold. Besides, there were quite a number of books already in the series, which meant they couldn't be all bad, could they? Other people clearly bought them. Shrugging off his indecision, Jane grabbed the first two, really starting to enjoy his little shopping trip.
He even stopped by the Harlequin romance shelf, picking the one with the most absurd title he could find. Which actually turned out to be a quite a difficult choice, in the end. Jane wasn't sure whether Lisbon would prefer an implausible sounding story about cowboys, or an implausible sounding story featuring a Mediterranean prince of some kind. In the end he decided on the western theme.
Then Jane ambled over to the classics section (after a quick stop at the fantasy section, just for balance, obviously – wouldn't want Lisbon's reading to be too skewed towards one genre or another). That was when Jane started buying her some of his favourite books. He couldn't help himself. He'd started reading the classics years before, trying to distance himself from the county fair circuit. And some of them he quite enjoyed. He bought her Dickens and Bronte and Wodehouse before picking up Anne of Green Gables on an impulse.
Then, glancing down at the (now rather heavy) basket on his arm, Jane realized that it was full. He frowned.
He may have gone a little overboard.
He wasn't even going to think about the postage...
Then the set of his jaw turned stubborn. He didn't care. He didn't care one little bit. Let Lisbon scold if she thought he'd been too extravagant. He was halfway across the state anyway (he knew there had to be an advantage to that). He was buying the books. Every single one. And there wasn't a single thing she could do about it. Besides, it wasn't like he had anyone else to buy for. He just...
He wanted to make her happy.
And she was always so generous, with her time, with her sympathy, really, just in general. So he was buying her a mini-library. That was all there was too it.
Resolutely, Jane marched over to the cash registers to buy his purchases. Afterwards, when his books were tucked away in the trunk of his car, he turned back into the store, intending to relax with a cup of tea at the place's coffee shop.
His resolution didn't last long.
It seemed that while Barnes and Noble had an excellent selection of books, their tea selection was nothing to write home about. They had the basics of course, orange pekoe and earl grey, and a couple of green teas, but nothing that stood out. Nothing that he wanted. And Jane realized in disgust that the store belonged to the same chain that had once put whipped cream in his tea. Whipped cream! It was practically a crime against nature. Not to mention, the young woman behind the counter had already fumbled more than a few coffee orders. Jane had his doubts that she would be able to remember even the simplest of instructions, liking putting the milk into his teacup first.
With one final disdainful sniff at their pathetic tea selection (festive blends indeed, he refused to even consider their candy cane flavour, and "Let it Snow", whatever that was, sounded infinitely worse. No wonder people wanted whipped cream in everything they ordered –they needed it to block the taste of their actual drink), Jane turned on his heel and marched out of the store. He'd seen a local place just down the road. It looked far more promising when it came to a good cup of tea.
Jane cheerfully dunked his teabag in his Assam tea (to which milk had been added first) as he stepped away from the counter and the cozy tea room he'd found.
Really, this coffee shop was much better for relaxation than the hideous place in the bookstore. This place was comfortable, obviously a place that people came to relax. It boasted a lot of over-stuffed armchairs with stray magazines strewn around and a single TV in the corner with the volume turned down.
A casual glance told Jane the news was on.
A second one caused him to freeze in surprise.
Because Lisbon was on the screen. He couldn't believe it, but she was. He'd been secretly trying to catch a glimpse of her for weeks, and now there she was, right in front of him, without even trying.
Quickly, he walked closer to the television, pleased when he found a seat nearby with a clear view.
She was giving a statement at a press conference, describing the circumstances surrounding a double homicide on the other side of the state and asking the public to come forward if they knew anything. Calm, confident, reassuring. She was doing well, of course she was.
And she looked good. Really good actually. She'd cut her hair. She had bangs again. He liked them.
He wasn't the only one, if the sideways glances of the local sheriff standing next to her were anything to go by. Not that the man had any serious intentions (the wedding ring on his left hand confirmed that), but he was certainly admiring. And Jane was pretty sure that Lisbon had caught the attention of a couple of men at a table in the corner of his coffee shop. They were nudging each other, eyes locked on the television. Jane was pretty sure he caught the word "hot" drifting across the room.
He'd never paid that much attention to it before (tried not to, in all honesty), but Lisbon did garner a certain amount of male attention. Not that she usually acted on it, but she still got it.
Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Jane returned his focus to woman on the screen in front of him. Not that it was hard.
It was her eyes, really. Those honest, sad eyes. They made a man curious, made him want to unravel their mystery, made him want to break through the restraint to the truth behind.
Jane knew he'd gotten farther than most people, a thought that caused him about equal parts pleasure and pain.
He watched Lisbon for another minute or so, when her press conference ended and the camera switched back to the news anchor. Jane immediately lost interest in the screen.
He shifted his attention back to his tea. At least he tried to.
Lisbon hadn't changed much, but she had changed. Of course she had. It'd been months since he'd seen her.
Still, he was glad he'd seen her. Glad of that little wisp of a connection. Seeing her hadn't been painful, hadn't brought back bad memories like he'd thought it might.
Jane supposed that might be considered progress.
She'd certainly been front and centre during the press conference. In charge. Getting things done. Whether other people wanted them done or not.
But then, Lisbon always did exactly what she said she was going to do. She always did what she thought was right. Regardless of other people's opinions.
Jane tightened his grip on his cup.
Then he forced his fingers to relax, shaking his head and deliberately ignoring the frustration bubbling up inside of him, Jane focused instead on the pleasure of seeing her. He missed her. He forced herself to remember her letters, her stories. He thought about her fighting that distant connection (something he hadn't deserved at all). Speaking of connections...
He found a smile then. Because he owed her a letter.
Fishing an ever-present pad of paper from his vest, Jane took a deep breath, leaned back in his chair, sipped of his tea, and started to write.
Grass Valley, California,
I got your letter. Of course I'll go and pick up your Christmas present. Of course I want it. You didn't have to get me one though. I'm going to dare your displeasure and thank you. I want you to know that I appreciate it Teresa, along with everything else you've done for me. Stockton sounds like just about the perfect place to be in a month.
I saw you on television the other day, a press conference, obviously. It was that double homicide in Monterey. In spite of the subject matter, it was good to hear your voice. Also, you got your hair cut. I like it. The bangs suit you. You looked lovely.
I'm also glad you survived your near hit and run at the grocery store. Did you try to arrest the culprit? Tell me you at least flashed your badge.
When he finished his letter, Jane stood and stretched. It was really time form him to get on the road again, now that he'd bought Lisbon's presents.
He smiled, thinking of the small pile of books in the trunk of his car.
Then he frowned. In a way books weren't a very exciting present... Sure, there were a lot of them (a mini mountain really). But still... He wondered if he shouldn't get her something else.
Jane remembered the slightly sad eyes of the woman he'd seen on the television screen only a little while earlier (their expression lonely really, if Jane was honest with himself). That woman deserved to be spoiled a little.
A strong wave of affection rushed through him.
He missed her. He really missed her. She was important. He was confused and sometimes frustrated or angry, but she was still important.
He wanted to buy her something that showed that.
Leaving the coffee shop, Jane turned in the opposite direction of his car.
He thought he remembered seeing a jewellery shop a couple of stores down.
Jane was impressed that all of the books fit in one box. Even with the late addition to the stack.
The brooch had reminded him of Lisbon the second he saw it in the store. He wasn't sure why. It was silver, not flashy, relatively classic.
So he'd bought it without a second thought.
Because he knew that it would suit her.
Besides, it was something Lisbon could wear at work, if she wanted to of course. Though Jane supposed a flying tackle might not be the best thing for silver jewellery; at least the brooch looked reasonably sturdy. Jane was sure it was tough. Just like its future owner. Although, maybe it would be best if Lisbon didn't wear it into the field...
Oh well. He'd leave that decision up to her.
Jane smirked to himself. Then he frowned. Because, while the problem of what to put the gifts in was solved with the purchase of his enormous (and really quite sturdy) box, where to send them wasn't.
After all, Lisbon wasn't going to be home over Christmas.
Jane pulled out his phone. I need your address, he typed quickly.
Luckily for him, Annie was generally quick with her replies. The first always took the longest, and this time her answer only took about fifteen minutes. What? Why? You planning a visit?
Jane answered immediately (if a little vaguely). Not exactly.
Jane could practically see her frowning at him, so he tried to joke. You shouldn't ask questions like that so close to Christmas. Santa might not like it.
Annie's next reply seemed more cheerful (and very typical for a teenager). You sending me a present? She asked.
Jane found himself smiling. Did I say that?
But Annie cut right to the chase. Pretty much.
He tried a threat. Hey! Just for that, I'm not sending you anything.
But Annie wasn't a stupid young woman. And unfortunately, in this case she held all of the cards, and she knew it (if her next text message was anything to go by). Plus, Aunt Reese is going to be here for Christmas, Annie reminded him.
Jane smiled. He was sure it would be a lovely little family reunion. Is she?
This time Annie was definitely annoyed with him in her reply. Don't be dumb. I'm sure she told you she was coming.
She might have mentioned it, now that I think about it, Jane admitted with a chuckle to himself. Lisbon women were far too much fun to annoy.
I told you, don't be dumb, Annie ordered him (another thing the Lisbon women were good at).
Jane tried to defend himself, I wasn't.
Annie's answer was quick and decisive. You were. And yes. I'll give her your present.
Jane supposed he hadn't been exactly subtle with what he wanted, so he was gracious. Thank you.
Annie's next text took a few minutes to arrive (and made Jane laugh aloud when it did come). If you send me one too.
Naturally, Jane promised. He'd already conveniently bought it anyway.
I knew it, Annie gloated.
Jane indulged her. You think you're so smart.
I am, the teenager agreed. I told you, you're the one being dumb.
Yes, you've mentioned that several times, Jane reminded her.
Then Annie sent a text that made his heart thump in his chest. You both are. Come for Christmas dinner.
Jane took a few minutes to reply. He knew his answer would irritate her, and wasn't the one she wanted, but he couldn't help it. He didn't know if... It was Christmas. Christmas was for family. Christmas was for happy times. Christmas shouldn't be tainted with murder, and serial killers, and grudges, and... him.
None of them deserved that.
So Jane slowly typed in the reply he knew he had to give. I can't. I'm sorry.
Annie's answer wasn't a surprise. Fine.
Jane tried to pacify her. I really am.
His feeble attempts at making it better didn't work (not that he was surprised; he hadn't been particularly good at making things better in a long time). Sure.
Jane knew monosyllabic replies weren't a good thing, even over text. So he tried again. Thank you though.
Annie ignored his second peace offering just as she had the first (and maybe she was right to, Jane wasn't sure). Whatever.
Jane sighed. He certainly wasn't going to make anything better today, so probably best to end the conversation. Good night, Annie.
He took it as a good sign that she even bothered to reply. Good night Mr. Jane.
Jane slowly closed his phone. He knew Annie'd e-mail him her address, even if it took a couple of days for her to do it because she was annoyed with him. He glanced over at the two boxes sitting in his hotel room before turning away.
They just made him feel lonely.
A second later he was looking at them again though. Jane picked them up and carted them back out to his car.
He needed to drive.
Drive, and drive, and then drive some more.
Drive and try not to think. About anything.
Right now, he didn't know what else to do.
Request 13: Jane with Pete and Sam on Christmas
It was Christmas Eve and Jane was in Stockton, with yet another large box in his trunk. But this box wasn't full of things he was sending, it was for him.
He'd just come from the post office and picked up Lisbon's Christmas present.
Her very large Christmas present.
Jane was fairly certain it would take every ounce of his self-control not to dig into it when he got back to his hotel room. He was determined to wait until morning to open it though. It just seemed like the thing to do. And Jane knew that he'd regret it tomorrow if he opened his gift now.
Jane grunted as he lifted the (extremely heavy) box and carried it into his motel room. Jostling it slightly at the door, he balanced it on his knee and somehow managed to get it inside without incident. He tossed his room key next to the TV and set the box on the table. Then he started hunting through the room for take-out menus.
But it was no use. The massive box was practically calling to him (there was a reason he hadn't picked it up at the post office until the last possible second).
Surely it wouldn't hurt to just take a peek... Just one.
The box was massive after all. There was obviously more than one thing in it. Even if he pulled out a single present, he'd still have plenty to discover on Christmas morning...
Besides, he'd never been one for following the rules.
Mind made up, Jaen bounded across the room and used his car keys to cut into the packing tape across the top of his present. Flipping open the flaps, he froze.
The box did indeed have more than one present in it. In fact, it had at least a dozen. Easily.
And they were all neatly, meticulously, and individually wrapped.
Jane smiled foolishly. Of course she'd wrapped them all.
He gingerly lifted them all out of the box (even with the wrapping he could make a pretty good guess at some of them, though he tried not to).
He wasn't going to open a single one of them until tomorrow though. Not a single one.
Jane piled his presents on the table and shoved the large box they'd been in underneath and out of sight.
They were the only festive thing in the room.
And all of a sudden (and for about the twentieth time in the last two weeks), Jane regretted turning down Annie's invitation to Christmas dinner. He'd had to do it, but...
Fidgeting with his phone, Jane turned away from the pile of gifts in his room. He'd thought it would be best if he spent Christmas alone. He couldn't spend it with Lisbon. He couldn't.
But maybe... Maybe...
Mind made up, Jane turned on his phone and dialed, pleased when someone answered.
"Hi Pete, it's Patrick. I know this is short notice, but what are your plans for tomorrow?"
The next morning Jane's room was covered in wrapping paper and he was flipping through the guidebook to California's favourite attractions that Lisbon had sent him when his phone buzzed.
Jane pounced on it. Merry Christmas. You're an idiot.
He frowned. He'd thought Annie would like his little present. She certainly hadn't struck him as the type to turn up her nose at a book simply because it represented technology that was more than ten years old. Merry Christmas to you too. Does this mean you don't like Holmes?
Annie's answer was quick. Idiot. My book is fine. Thank you. Aunt Reese says I'll like it.
Jane breathed a sigh of relief. Well that was one mystery solved. You will.
Annie's next text was teasing. Speaking of Aunt Reese...
Jane couldn't stop himself from prompting her when she didn't continue. Yes?
Was something wrong with Lisbon? Had she not liked his present? He'd liked hers... Annie's reply put his mind at ease. She seemed to like her books. And her brooch. She really liked that.
Jane smiled as he typed his answer. Good. I'm glad.
Annie's next text was a little slow in coming. She seemed kind of upset though.
Jane's heart skittered. He hadn't thought of it that way, but he could see how she might be. He knew she missed him. Truth be told, he liked that she missed him. But he hadn't wanted to make her upset. He'd wanted her to be happy. He'd wanted to help give her a good Christmas. But like so much lately, he seemed to be having trouble getting it right. He glanced around at his little pile of presents, the ones that had made his morning special. I'm sorry. I didn't want to do that.
This time Annie's reply was as quick (and insulting) as it usually was. I know. But that's why you're an idiot.
Jane sighed. I know, he admitted, knowing that didn't make it better.
At least his answer seemed to make one Lisbon feel better. Good, I guess, Annie told him. She's reading your letter now.
Jane typed his reply into his phone quickly, trying to do what little he could from across the state. Tell her there'll be another one waiting for her when she gets back to Sacramento. And tell her I loved my present.
After a second he thought of something else to add. And tell her Merry Christmas.
Annie's final reply was almost vicious. Tell her yourself, she texted back.
And reading it, Jane knew that there would be no more messaging that morning.
Angry with himself, he fished out the chocolate Lisbon had sent him. He desperately needed something sweet now.
Jane was more than a little glad to be driving to Pete and Sam's trailer that evening. Opening Lisbon's enormous (and incredibly thoughtful) gift, while lovely, had been a little overwhelming.
Add that to the guilt and the (entirely self-directed) anger he felt for having caused her even a little bit of pain with his own gift, he needed a distraction.
Shaking his head to clear it, Jane picked up the store-bought pumpkin pie off of the front seat of his car and trudged up to Sam and Pete's trailer. He knocked on the door and pasted a cheerful expression on his face.
His smile turned genuine when Pete opened the door wearing a Santa hat.
"Well, aren't you festive?" Jane drawled.
"Patty!" Pete bellowed at him, sweeping him up into an enthusiastic hug (during which Jane just barely saved his pie from being crushed). "Come on in and try the eggnog! It's disgusting, but it's tradition!"
"And obviously heavy on the rum," Jane muttered, stepping into the trailer which smelled of an odd mixture of peppermint and turkey, along with the rum he could smell on Pete's breath.
"What's that?" Pete asked him.
"I said I'm driving, otherwise that sounds fun," Jane said more loudly.
Pete sighed loudly. "You really have grown almost respectable, haven't you?"
"Not entirely," Jane promised. He turned towards Sam, "Merry Christmas Sammy."
To his surprise she smiled at him as she took the pie and set it on the counter before giving him a hug. "I'm glad you came Patrick."
"It's good to see you," he told her, squeezing a little.
She pulled back with a smirk. "And good call on the eggnog."
Jane shrugged. "I've never liked the stuff."
Sam smirked. "Me neither, but it keeps Pete happy. Even if I don't think he got the ratio of nog to rum anywhere near right. Thanks for the pie, by the way."
"It's just a store-bought," Jane told her.
"I'd noticed," Sam assured him dryly. "Still, I'm surprised you found one at all, this late."
"I nearly had to fight an old lady for it," Jane said, his voice serious.
"Oh you did not," Sam said with a laugh. "Even you wouldn't fight an old woman for a pie on Christmas eve."
Jane smirked. "You got me Sammy. But it was the second-last one on the shelf."
"Guess we got lucky then," Sam told him. "Now tell me, how you doing?"
Jane shrugged. "I'm doing alright."
"Are you?" Sam asked, eyes narrowed.
"Sure!" Jane said with a smile.
"And how's that state trooper of yours?" Sam asked.
"Pepper?" Pete asked cheerfully. "Yeah, how is she? Haven't heard from her since she showed up on our doorstep. Didn't expect to of course, but still..." He trailed off.
Jane hesitated slightly. "She's alright, I guess. I haven't really seen her."
"But you have heard from her?" Sam prompted.
Jane sighed, but didn't bother to lie. "Yeah, I have."
Sam nodded once. "And you're obviously still being a bit of an idiot about that."
Before Jane could argue, Pete smacked him on the back. "Course he's being an idiot about that, Sammy. Patty might think he's a sharp one, and maybe he is most of the time, but we've all got our weak spots. This is his, the fool."
"Thanks Pete," Jane said neutrally. He really didn't want to talk about this.
"No problem," Pete said, still cheerful. "Still, it's Christmas, so we'll let you get away with it. Have some food instead. I made artichoke dip!"
Jane gratefully took the plate of crackers and dip practically being thrust in his lap. He glanced at Sam. She was still watching him in disapproval. After a moment, she seemed to decide to let the subject drop. Suddenly she smiled and slipped a party hat on his head.
"Alright Patty, I'll let you slide for today," she told him. "If you want to be an idiot, that's your business. Besides, it's Christmas, and you did bring pie."
Jane grinned back and passed her the crackers, suddenly glad he'd decided not to spend the day entirely alone.
Still, although he'd certainly enjoyed dinner with Pete and Sam, when he was back in his motel room that late that night (slightly over-full from dinner), his old friends weren't the ones who occupied Jane's thoughts. Jane grabbed the new fleece blanket balanced at the end of his bed and threw it over his legs. It was certainly cosier than the scratchy motel comforter.
Then he fished out his trusty pad of paper and began to write.
I hope my letter finds you home, safe and sound, (and if possible relaxed) after a wonderful Christmas. I'm sure that the subset of the Lisbon family had a wonderful time together. I can just picture the three of you crowded around a tree, opening presents. Closely followed by you and your brother squabbling over who was in charge of making which part of the dinner. While Annie tried very hard not to laugh. I doubt she succeeded. I hope you punished her by making her peel potatoes.
You'll be pleased to know, Teresa, that even yours truly wasn't alone for Christmas. Your choice of Stockton as a city to mail my present to was rather inspired dear, due to its proximity to Modesto. And who do you think was in Modesto this Christmas, dear? Pete and Sam. So I had people to have Christmas dinner with. I provided the pumpkin pie. Store-bought of course, but still good. I doubt my holiday meal was as enjoyable as yours though. I was subject to several disapproving looks, whereas, chez Lisbon I'm sure you would have been the one giving them if any were needed. Well, you or Annie. She seems quite judgemental of late. Probably a teenager thing.
But I've gotten ahead of myself in my Christmas tale. Because before dinner, in my hotel room that morning there was something under my tree. At least, that's where it would have been if I had a tree. It was under my metaphorical tree, because you sent me a present. Before I sent you yours I was vaguely concerned that you'd be scolding me in your next letter for spending too much money on you, or spoiling you, or some such nonsense. Then I picked up your box from the Stockton post office.
The elderly woman who brought it out from the back teased me about it. She seemed to think I must have been rather a good boy this year. You and I know different though, don't we?
It's like you decided to compensate for the fact that you knew no one else would send me presents by buying them all yourself. You didn't have to do that Teresa. You really didn't. But thank you. I'm particularly impressed that you took the time to wrap all of the individual gifts inside the one big box. They made rather a cheerful pile in the corner of my motel room. When I put them next to the television with the Christmas tree channel on, it seemed almost festive. Even if, as I said, you went a little overboard. (I'd scold, but I don't think I'm in any position to do so, given the size of my own box to you.)
You'll deny it anyway of course, so now there's nothing left for me to do but thank you. The guidebook of 1001 things to see in California is a perfect blend of utility and humour. I admit, I'm a bit intrigued by some of the entries. I see that you also sent me a journal, for writing down my thoughts and trying to sort through them (your words written on the first page). It's a thoughtful gift, Teresa. I'll certainly give it a try, though I can't guarantee success. The third package contained a fleece blanket, in case my car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and it's a cold night. As an added side benefit, I do find it makes the hotel rooms along the way a little bit more cheerful. So thank you. It looks cozy.
Tucked under the blanket, as you know, was a box of tea. My favourite brand. I thought you were spoiling me then, Teresa, until I found the chocolates underneath and knew for sure. I suppose you thought that everyone deserved a bit of a treat on Christmas morning? I'd point out that I'm not a child, but you'd simply disagree (and you might be right). So instead I've decided to just enjoy my chocolate.
Speaking of making Christmas festive, it turned out that the lack of decoration in my motel room wasn't a problem. You'd foreseen the difficulty, and found possibly the gaudiest Santa figurine that I've ever seen in my life. Maybe I should be grateful that it didn't sing and dance. I put it next to the television, and now it's grinning at me. Ridiculous thing. A completely and utterly ridiculous gift, Teresa. I'm sure you're curled up in Sacramento with your normal-looking decorations, laughing at me. You and the foolish fellow now staring at me from across the room with his absurdly ruddy cheeks. I suppose he does add something to the day. I don't know what though... I've been calling him Joe, out of sheer contrariness.
Next in your care package (yes, I'm onto you, Teresa – I can see your intention) was soup (for I assume, if I stop somewhere and can't find a restaurant), granola bars, bottled water, a candle, and a flashlight, all of which I promise to store in my car in case I get stranded and need supplies for a day.
Tucked in the bottom, there were still a couple of boxes. I picked up the smaller one first. "Songs of the seashore?" You dare to send me a relaxation CD? After I promised so faithfully not to send you a sleep schedule, dear? You really sent me the sound of the crashing waves? In an endearing combination of genuine hope that the ridiculous tape might help me sleep mixed with a healthy dose of mockery. Well played.
Underneath it was the e-reader. At first I resented the new technology. Give me an old-fashioned book any day! Then practicality crept up on me, and I reflected on how difficult it's been driving a significant number of books around California. One or two is easy, any more... So I turned the thing on warily, only to find that you'd already loaded a bunch of the classics on it. Plus a few more modern mysteries. It seems we had similar, literary-related thoughts this Christmas.
Thank you for all of it, Teresa. And don't bother telling me that I don't have to thank you, because it was for Christmas. I'll just thank you again, for all of it. Even that ridiculous Santa Clause. (I hope you won't be hurt if I use "Songs of the Seashore" as a coaster for my tea.)
Annie mentioned that you liked your gift. I hope so. I thought you might like something to occupy your brain while on vacation. It couldn't have been easy for you to try to relax. Luckily, I'm sure there was hockey on. Nice physical sport, that. It probably provided some distraction.
I hope going back to work isn't too big a shock after your lazy week. Have a happy New Year, Teresa.
P.S. I thought I'd stick around here for another day (see Pete and Sam again maybe), before heading towards Turlock.
Jane paused, considering his letter. He hadn't really thought about it before, but maybe it wasn't the worst idea in the world. Sticking around in one place for longer than a day or so.
Pete and Sam weren't always the sweetest people in the world, but they were good friends. He missed being around people who knew him sometimes. The feeling was perfectly natural of course. Human beings craved companionship.
And if he stuck around for an extra day or so, it would give Lisbon time to get home and get his letter.
And catch up.
Jane's smile was a bit painful.
He wanted her to catch up.
He wanted to hear about her Christmas.
A/N: Also, speaking of Christmas, last year I took requests about this time of year. I thought I'd do it again, with a minor variation. Last year I took a request for each day of December (although I missed a couple of days) on my LJ (though I let people know here) and I wrote a fic that was a minimum of 500 words. Now, I have no objection to writing the same number of fic this year, but I'm behind and busy, so there's no way I'm writing 30 one-shots before the end of December. That said, if anyone would like a Christmas fic, let me know. I require a character or pairing (doesn't have to be the Mentalist, though if you are requesting the Mentalist and you want a romance, the pairing does pretty much have to be J/L). I also require a prompt, which, bonus points if it doubles as the title (because I hate titles). I will then post said fic here (and on my LJ), some in the month of December, with some very likely spilling over into January. So let me know if you're interested.