Disclaimer: Uh, no. I don't own The Mentalist or any of the characters in this story. Just experimenting.

Spoilers: I guess this could be considered a tag to The Crimson Hat. So, obviously, spoilers for that episode and the rest of the series, I suppose.

Author's note:

Hello there! Welcome to my first story. (And no, this is by no means an excuse. Just thought I'd let you know.)

This hiatus is frustrating me and I just can't wait for Season 5, so I thought I would give fanfiction a shot. I wrote this for me but I figured I would post it anyway- after all, how else am I supposed to improve if I don't ask for others' opinions?

Right. I'm babbling. Please enjoy, if you can!

Oh! And I got the title from Hodges' song of the same name. It really is beautiful, you should listen to it!

My Side of the Story

I'm all alone, running scared

Losing my way in the dark

I tried to get up, stand on a prayer

But I keep crashing down hard

Senior Special Agent Teresa Lisbon.

Sometimes, I still can't believe it. Sometimes, when I wake up, I see my old bedroom – the white paint and the picture frames on the walls. Pictures of happier times, of when my family was still whole. In those moments, I assume Tommy or one of the others are going to barge inside without knocking -they never do- and demand that I make them breakfast, take them to school, help them with homework. Or, on the really bad days, I think one of them will come in, with a somewhat sad, but mostly detached expression on his young face, and I would know. I would know that our father had finally killed himself and truly left us all alone. Not that the alternative was any better, mind you. Living with an abusive alcoholic is never easy. The four of us still hoped, though, that it would get better with time. A foolish hope, perhaps, but who could blame us?

After a couple of seconds, though, I eventually realize that I'm not a teenager anymore. That I live in Sacramento, California, and that I am an officer of the law. I remember everything I went through to get to where I am now – all the pain, the suffering, the responsibility of taking care of three children, even though I was barely an adolescent myself. And I feel proud. Proud of myself, for surviving those terrible years, for moving here, for somehow finding my way to the CBI.

I still mentally thank Minelli everyday for giving me the staggering opportunity to lead my own team. Though many thought I was too young or inexperienced to fill such a position, he never doubted me. I, of course, doubted myself sometimes. I was, after all, a young woman and, in this field, those characteristics were not necessarily very favorable. Just like I had in the past, I woke up everyday with a smile on my face (or the closest I could get to one, at any rate) and the knowledge that, doing my best, I could accomplish anything.

Those first couple of years were hard, yes. But, given the chance, I would do nothing different. It took me a while, but I finally managed to assemble the perfect team – all handpicked, of course.

Kimball Cho. My second in command and one of the most loyal people I have ever had the honor to meet. Just like they had cautioned Minelli before, people told me it was foolish to recruit someone like Cho – a loose cannon, they said. One interrogation was all it took, though, and I was sold.

Wayne Rigsby. To those who have never worked with him, he might seem inexperienced or even unqualified for this job. And even if I have to admit that he sometimes acts immaturely, Rigs is so focused and knowledgeable when he needs to be – and that's really all that matters. I'm so fortunate to have him on my team.

Grace Van Pelt. Gullible and naïve at first, but she has grown so much over the years. Always extremely resourceful and ready to please, her application was easy to choose. I think I recognized something of myself in her- a woman, trying so hard to prove herself in this world. I decided to take a chance when recruiting her and I've never regretted that decision.

Patrick Jane. Not necessarily handpicked, I'll grant you, but I chose him nonetheless. In the beginning, I was scared – not scared of him, oh no. I knew I could protect myself from him, if need be. I was terrified of his darkness – of what I could see inside him. Just like with the other members of my team, I have never regretted taking him on, however. He is now my best friend and my life is so much brighter with him in it.

That was why I took it so hard when he left. Six months with no late-night tea breaks, no annoying intrusions into my office, no piles of complaints on my desk. (Alright, I didn't exactly miss those, exactly, but I did miss what- or rather, who -they represented). I took it one day at a time, but I realized that I could no longer force that smile onto my face every morning, which affected me the most. Even in the darkest years of my childhood, I still managed to smile because I had my brothers – my beloved siblings who depended on me, who I had to be strong for. After Jane left, I had nothing. The team remained true, like they always did, but it just wasn't the same. No closed-case pizza, no laughter in the bullpen caused by Jane's tricks – no tricks at all.

When I saw him in that church, I couldn't think of anything to say other than to scold him for leaving us, for leaving me. We were partners but, most importantly, we were friends. Of course, he then started to sprout his never ending Red John theories and conspiracies and I just hoped that this time, just this once, we would get some results. Anything. Because I had to help him. I had no choice, he mattered too much to me now. I knew it and he obviously knew it too.

When he pretended to shoot me in my office, I was scared. Scared that he would somehow manage to shoot somewhere I wasn't protected. (I was wearing a vest, but Jane isn't known for his marksman skills, for God's sake.) And then he just…well, he said "Love you".

Love you.

Then, when everything that could have possibly gone wrong happened and I could finally breathe because I realized he was still alive, he just held onto my hand. Just like that. And I knew – I knew I had fallen in love with him. Oh, I had known that I loved him for a long time – too long, if I'm being honest with myself. But to have it confirmed, once again, that he really needed me, it became clear. Even if he was never able to return my feelings, I knew I would love him forever. Love him through his quest, protect him, care for him. Just like I always had. I vowed never to abandon him, to never leave him alone. After all, I knew what that felt like.

Exactly a year after that fateful day in the desert, we reached the end of our shared quest. Red John was dead, finally.

A couple of hours earlier

Handcuffed to my own office door in the middle of the night, I suddenly thought how fitting this all was. To die in the place where it had all started – where I had finally discovered what I was good at, where I had met my wonderful, dear team. Where I had first laid eyes on Patrick Jane. My best friend, the only man I had truly loved.

I could not find enough willpower inside me to try and understand how it had all happened. One minute I remember saying goodnight to my team after our closed case pizza -we had finally decided to resume our tradition- and being extremely relieved to see that Jane had taken my advice and was leaving for the night. I did not know if his insomnia was getting better or if he had gotten tired of my pestering and had decided to lay on a proper bed, but he looked better, happier. Rested.

How ridiculous to think of this now; he definitely won't look like this for much longer. Not after he finds my body tomorrow morning. Jane was always the first one in the CBI, only arriving minutes after me. Red John obviously knew this and wanted him to find me, bloodied and cold, all alone.

Alone. I had vowed to never leave him alone, to never abandon him. Just another promise you won't be able to keep, Teresa. Just like you couldn't protect your brothers from your father, just like you couldn't protect your father from himself.

I could feel tears threatening to fall from my eyes and I concentrated on containing them. If I was going to die, I wasn't going to go without a fight. And I definitely would not let Red John see how much he had affected me, how he had managed to almost break me. Almost. Because as long as I was breathing, I would do my best to remain alive in order to help Jane. Because he needed me. I knew that now, and I would not disappoint him. I couldn't.

Red John walked back into the room, holding his knife, and just stared at me through his hideous mask.

"Well, well, dear Teresa. It is nice to finally meet you, face-to-face. Truly, you are more beautiful than advertised." He said it softly, almost as if he thought I would be flattered by anything coming out of his mouth.

I stayed quiet, not wanting to antagonize him even more or show weakness by saying the wrong thing. All the while, my mind kept screaming at me that I had missed something. Something that he had said. Maybe I should have recognized his voice? But no, I had never heard anything like it. I surely would remember a voice like his. Breathy, soft, and incredibly uncanny all at the same time.

"I heard much about you- even saw pictures, of course. You have to know I have kept a close watch on you all these years, my dear. I was curious about the woman who had finally managed to breach Patrick's walls and lay claim to his heart once more. It really is quite fascinating, dear, how your relationship progressed over the years. A good friend of mine came in contact with you a couple of times and he always had incredible stories to report. Frankly, I am somewhat surprised that you two never crossed that line. I suppose you were too scared of rejection, of destroying the friendship you had with him. And, no doubt, he was merely scared of the consequences of such a progression in your relationship. He must have realized, somewhere down the line, that the game consisted of my taking anything he cared away from him- so that I could have him all to myself. You have to understand, dear, that a life like mine is very lonely, and even tedious at times. Dear Patrick was a fascinating distraction. I had my followers and my particular brand of faith, but-"

And that was when it clicked. Followers, faith, "more beautiful than advertised", a close friend who had come in contact with the team, with her and Jane. It all pointed back to Stiles, to Visualize.

Dear God. But it couldn't be….could it? The only plausible explanation was that Timothy Faroget, the founder of Visualize, had a child before he died. Timothy's body had been found, so it could not be him, but his child would make sense. After all, if there was no record of him, they had essentially been looking for someone who did not exist.

Red John (I could not bring myself to acknowledge that he was a real person, not even in my own head) had apparently not noticed my epiphany, or Eureka moment, as Van Pelt would've said. Thinking of Grace, I looked out into the bullpen. The light from inside my office cast eerie shadows out there, and I could just faintly make out the outlines of my team member's desks.

Suddenly, I saw a flash of silver on top on Van Pelt's desk. Her laptop, must be. I didn't give it any thought at first, looking back at Red John. He was still going on and on about how torturing Patrick was what kept him sane, what kept him grounded. That was when it hit me. We had just closed a case, and Grace had asked for a week of personal time, said she needed to deal with some family matters. And…and her flight was at five in the morning, meaning that she would not be able to retrieve her laptop before she left, since the HQ would be closed by then.

I did not want to become too hopeful, but if there was any chance that Grace might arrive soon to get her laptop then I had to stall Red John. I had to.

"….and really, I had not intended to drag you and the others into the game, but when dear Patrick killed my friend Dumar to protect you I knew I would enjoy myself even more by including everyone. Especially you, of course."

"So this is what it's come to, huh? You were jealous of how I was affecting Jane's focus, how I was beginning to change his mind about his revenge. You knew that I would be able to at least dissuade him from killing you in the end. And you just couldn't stand it, could you Faroget?" I practically sneered, I couldn't help myself.

His expression after I correctly identified him was priceless. And if I wasn't in such a hopeless situation, I was sure I would've laughed.

"What?" I taunted. "Weren't expecting me to figure out your precious secret, were you? You did always strike me as overconfident."

He rallied quickly. I expected nothing less.

"Well-matched, dear, well-matched. I always did think Patrick underestimated you. Who knows, maybe if he had been completely honest with you from the start you might have found me before…well, before I finally decided to end the game and kill you."

That surprised me. He was planning on ending the game?

"Wait….what do you mean, end the game? Do you really think Jane will just give up? He will go after you now more than ever! You have no idea-"

He chuckled.

"Ah. But you see, my dear Teresa, Patrick won't be able to continue after this. After I rip you away from his life, the only other woman he's ever loved besides his wife- he will certainly crumble. His heart, or what's left of it, will be destroyed. And you won't be there to pick up the pieces, dear. Not this time. He will be left alone once more."

That did it. His mention of my failure to protect Jane and remain by his side cracked something inside of me, and suddenly I did not care that Van Pelt might get here soon, I did not care that my next move could be my last. I had to end it, I had to do something.

He had been standing so close to me that the kick I aimed at his face could have reached its mark, it really could have, if he had not moved away so quickly. My foot hit him square in the stomach instead, knocking the wind out of him and causing him to drop the knife. I tried to kick it further away, but he grabbed it and slashed the blade across my leg. I screamed in pain and surprise, feeling the blood slowly leaving my body.

He was panting and forcefully took off his mask in order to facilitate his breathing. I was somewhat surprised when I saw that he was a normal man. I do not know what I had been expecting, but it certainly was not the dark hair or fine features I was faced with.

"Jack Faroget, at your service. Let's see how you like this, little brave Agent Lisbon."

Hearing my title helped me to refocus and contain my screams when Red John started cutting my stomach in shallow, quick cuts. I struggled, I know I did, but nothing seemed to have any effect on my assailant.

I tried one of Jane's tricks. I could clearly remember his beautiful face and pictured him telling me to focus on the pain, feel it leaving my body, feel myself relax. It did not work. Nothing did.

He had reached my throat. At this point, I was hoping for death. I hoped he would be merciful and kill me quickly, but I knew it wasn't going to happen.


He laughed. It was an insane, maniac laugh that will forever haunt my dreams.

"What is this I hear? Are you begging, dear Teresa? Begging for mercy? Well, well, well! I expect Agent Lisbon begging is not an everyday occurrence, now is it? Thankfully I brought my faithful camera, and your colleagues and beloved Patrick will be able to partake in this crucial moment later on, when they find you. Won't that be lovely?" As he said that, he had made his first mark on my neck, shallow, only meant to cause extreme pain but no real damage.

"No.." I could feel myself slipping, losing consciousness.

In one last effort, I moved my leg quickly and managed to kick him in the shin, hard enough to knock him off balance. I could hear him swearing and hurling threats in my direction.

The next thing I knew, he was falling on top of me and I swore I had heard three shots being fired. No, it couldn't be….was Grace finally here?

"Boss! Lisbon, are you alright?" Grace's frantic voice reached my ears and she was suddenly at my side, moving Red John's body and calling the paramedics.

"Teresa! Please say something. Please! Oh my God…"

That was when I realized my eyes had closed on their own accord. I fought to open them and after a couple of seconds I finally succeeded.

"Oh! Oh thank God. Just hang on, boss, hang on. The paramedics will be here any second. Just talk to me…"

"Grace…" I whispered. I didn't have strength for anything else. "Grace…thank you."

"You're going to be fine, Lisbon. You'll be fine, I promise. Look! I think that's the ambulance. Just hang on…squeeze my hands if you can hear me. Okay, okay, just keep squeezing, boss!"

I held her hand with all the strength I had left and, next thing I knew, I was being placed on a stretcher and taken down to the ambulance. I could hear Grace arguing with the paramedics and saying that they wouldn't be able to leave her behind if they tried. I almost smiled at that. She really was stubborn these days.

She sat next to me and continued to hold my hand tightly, like she would never let go.

"It's alright, boss. Everything will be fine now, you'll see."

I tried to smile at her, tell her that I understood. I didn't know if she saw it or not, but I suddenly couldn't do it anymore. I felt the blackness slowly creep in, and suddenly Grace and the ambulance were gone.

I could hear voices. Voices and noises I did not recognize. I felt myself slowly gaining consciousness, almost as if I had been drowning and someone had pulled from under the water.

"Teresa? Teresa, please open your eyes." Jane.

I tried and found that I had regained control of my eyelids. The first thing I saw were Jane's beautiful blue-green eyes, worry evident in his gaze.


"You're awake. Oh, you're awake, Teresa. I can't believe you are alive." He placed his palm on my cheek. "I thought I had lost you." He whispered.

"Boss! I'm so glad you're okay!"

I somehow managed to drag my eyes away from Jane's face to the room's other occupants, finally facing Grace, Rigsby, and Cho.

"Grace. I can't even….thank you. For finding me." I had tears in my eyes. I hated when they saw me weak like this, but I suppose it was okay this time. Just this once.

She hesitantly hugged me and I reciprocated the action fiercely, even though it hurt. I owed my life to her, and I would never be able to thank her enough.

She slowly released me and moved away so Rigs and Cho could walk up to my bedside.

"You're okay, Lisbon. You're fine." Cho. He said it matter-of-factly, almost mechanically, like a mantra. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it hard. I squeezed it back and smiled at him, which he returned softly.

"Boss. I'm…- I'm so glad you're alive. You really scared us this time." Rigsby. My gentle, awkward giant.

I chuckled. "Yeah. Me too, Rigs."

He smiled softly and, to my surprise, walked forward and gently kissed my forehead.

Tears filled my eyes again, and this time I did not try to stop them. I looked around, at each one of them. My team. My beautiful, wonderful team. I was nothing without them.

A couple of hours later, the team left to give me time to rest. All of them, except for Jane.

"Teresa." He said it softly, hesitantly, and I realized he was nervous. Patrick Jane, nervous?

"Yes, Jane?"

"I…..we- we saw the tape."

I froze. I had hoped it hadn't been found, or that they hadn't had a chance to watch it yet. He gently placed his hand on my cheek again, forcing me to look at him.

"Everything Red John said…..what he said about me. About us. It was true. All of it."

"What…what do you mean? Are you saying…"

He smiled. He smiled, and all was right with the world once more.

"I mean that what I told you in your office a year ago- I meant it. Of course I meant it. How could I not?"

I could feel my mouth hanging open and I found I couldn't close it. Was he…was he serious? Could this really be happening?

When he realized I had apparently lost my ability to speak, he leaned forward slowly and stared right into my eyes. His were full of love, affection, and a little bit of mirth.

"I love you."

He moved even slower then, waiting to see if I would object. Of course I wouldn't. Patrick leaned forward and gently joined our lips. I was kissing him. Finally. I was kissing Patrick Jane.

We both moved back at the same time, breathless, even though it had been chaste and quick.

"I love you too. I always have."

Exactly a year after that fateful day in the desert, we reached the end of our shared quest. Red John was dead, finally.

Red John was dead. I was back at the office, staring at the name printed on the glass door once again.

Senior Special Agent Teresa Lisbon.

On the morning of the day of my confrontation with Red John, I had woken up disoriented. It happened sometimes. I would wake up lost, not really knowing where I was. Thinking I was back in the worst time of my life, stuck in the prison that was my childhood home.

It did not happen today, though. And I knew it never would again. I knew where I belonged, now. My place was in the CBI, in my office, right where I was. Surrounded by my dear, dear team.

My Grace. My savior, my friend. I had never doubted her, and it had certainly paid off. She would always be a part of my life and I could always count on her.

Kimball. Wonderful, loyal Cho. Who never showed emotion and never smiled, but who had done both of those things when he saw I was alive and well. He was irreplaceable.

Wayne. My gentle, caring little brother. I knew he had been worried about me as well, and hoped I would never put him through something like that again.

Patrick. My heart, my Jane. We had finally admitted our feelings to each other but I found that not much changed. We still talked like we had before, we still laughed, we still joked. Of course, this new aspect of our relationship had certain….perks. But he still remained, and would forever be my best friend. I love him so much, more than I thought I could ever love anyone.

He suddenly walked into my office, with my usual coffee and bear claw. I smiled appreciatively and started to sip my drink. A few minutes go by, and then…

"What are you thinking of, love?"

I smiled at him again. I couldn't seem to stop these days.

"Nothing. Everything is as it should be."

I had kept my promise. I hadn't left him alone. And I would forever remain by his side, just like I always had.


Author's note:

Still here? I guess it wasn't that bad, then! Great.

And sorry if it was too long. I didn't want to break it up into chapters because I figured not many people would read it anyway, so why bother?

I hope it wasn't too confusing, or boring, or OOC. I would love to hear your thoughts! Especially if you have any constructive criticism. I'd appreciate it :)

Hopefully I'll talk to you soon!