Chapter 11: Conclusion
The next morning found Lisbon alone in her bed once more, but she could hear Jane talking on the phone in the other room.
"As soon as she's able to get around on her own I'll be back in the office," he was saying, and her face formed a smile as she realized he intended to stay with the CBI. "She's sleeping right now…I'll have her call you…Yes, Sir…Yeah, will do. Good-bye."
She grinned gleefully into her pillow, wanting to laugh aloud at the news. Then she paused, and wondered why she felt so happy. Perhaps it was because of the possibility of more nights like last night. She'd awakened in darkness to find his hands roaming her body, which quickly led to a passionate joining even more intense than the first time. Afterwards, he'd carried her into the shower, which, as promised, was equipped for the differently-abled. A built-in bench allowed her to sit and use the handheld showerhead sprayer.
She supposed she shouldn't have been surprised when Jane entered the enclosure with her, completely naked. It was apparent her independence would suffer yet again as he proceeded to encase her bandaged leg in a plastic bag to avoid getting it wet. She'd flushed when he'd looked at her with wicked intent, a bar of soap in one hand, the sprayer in the other
"Seriously, Jane, I'm fully capable of bathing myself."
"But it's not nearly as much fun," he'd said seductively, advancing toward her as she'd laughed, then after a few moments, moaned.
Lisbon was fairly certain the sprayer wasn't intended to be used in quite that way.
She was still blushing at the sensual memories when she heard the soft click of the bedroom door opening. She feigned sleep, though she knew he'd see through the ruse the moment he looked at her. She felt the mattress dip as he sat beside her, then leaned forward and kissed her cheek.
"I know you're awake, you little fraud," he whispered, then moved his lips to nibble at her ear. She shivered.
"Good morning," she said, smiling, her hands in his hair. He'd showered in his own bathroom, and she reveled in his seductive smell and smoothly shaven cheeks. He hadn't really taken the time to do that after their shower last night, she remembered, flushing anew with the knowledge that she still had his whisker burns all over her body. She waited impatiently for him to make his announcement about staying with the CBI, but he seemed completely preoccupied with driving her insane by his hot, wet kisses.
Nor did his announcement come much later, over room service eggs. Nor later, after he trounced her easily at chess on his portable chessboard. And not even after the third movie of an Alfred Hitchcock marathon on the classic movie channel. Lisbon was normally a very patient woman, but his withholding of vital information was very troubling. And this information, she had realized, had become extremely vital to her very quickly.
She was responding to texts from well-wishers from work when Jane returned from another mysterious errand. He was holding a pharmacy bag, and he sat at the end of the couch, taking the foot of her injured leg in his hand.
"Doctor says we can take the bandage off after twenty-four hours, clean it, and apply a lighter dressing. You ready?"
"You're talking to my doctor now?"
"Don't get your handcuffs in a twist. The nurse passed along his message in the hospital yesterday while you were getting dressed. I was your designated caretaker, remember? That makes me responsible for things like this."
She frowned, but nodded for him to continue.
"So," he said, "are you a pull off your Band-Aid fast kind of girl, or slow and easy?"
She looked at him seriously, and his sparkle of humor dimmed. It was funny how most of his words had taken on so many meanings now, at least for her. She used to think she could bear intense pain all at once, to get it over with, but seeing him now, so beautiful, so attentive, she wondered if she'd rather let him draw out the pain little by little, if that would keep him with her longer. Maybe the real reason he hadn't told her his plans was because he had changed them again, or had actually lied to Minelli on the phone just to placate the old man.
"What's wrong, Teresa?" Jane asked, as her silence stretched into minutes.
In that moment, Lisbon decided that the no strings argument was the biggest load of crap she'd ever proposed. What's worse, she had the feeling he was reading her mind again, knew she had awakened this morning with a totally different outlook.
"Are you staying with the CBI?" she asked him, flinching at herself for how demanding she sounded. "I overheard you on the phone this morning…"
He stopped his absent massaging of her bare foot, and promptly turned the tables on her. "Do you want me to stay with the CBI?"
She blinked her eyes against the unwanted tears. "I want you to do what's best for you, Jane. I could understand if, now that Red John is dead, you'd want to be as far away from police work as possible."
He sighed and looked away. "I can't see myself ever returning to the psychic trade either," he said softly. "Angela hated what I did—not as much as when I was doing, well, other less than aboveboard things—and I blame my chosen line of work for getting them killed. So, I don't think I could ever do that again, not even if I were desperate." He met her eyes again. "That doesn't leave me much else I'm good at."
Lisbon didn't hesitate to jump on this point. "And you are good at this, Jane. I've watched your skills of observation, you ability to draw out the truth from people—you're incredible. I told you before you seemed born to this job…" Her sentence trailed off because she feared she was sounding too hopeful. "I don't want to adversely affect your decision, though, and it shouldn't be based on…whatever this is between us."
Her words made him pause, and suddenly, he sounded uncharacteristically angry. "No strings, remember?" he said.
"That's right," she agreed, but it was difficult now to sound in any way convincing.
Jane removed her foot from his lap and stood up.
"This was just supposed to be sex, right? Friends with benefits, you said."
"Yes," she replied, and while her eyes watered, and her heart protested, she remained committed to non-commitment.
"Then why are you about to cry? Dammit, I knew you couldn't handle this!" He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "I told you, I can't give you anything more than that—"
"I'm not asking," she protested, wondering how in the world the conversation had gone so terribly wrong so quickly.
"But your eyes are, Lisbon. Those big, appealing green eyes of yours. Every time you look at me now, it's like you're pulling me closer, and I don't know what the hell to give you when I have…nothing to give."
"I'm not doing it on purpose. You're the one who volunteered to take care of me. You're the one who is spending more time in my bed than in yours. If I'm pulling you in, you're certainly doing nothing to pull away."
She regretted her words immediately. He stopped his agitated movements and stared at her. "You're right," he said. And she watched in anguish as he walked to the door and left, closing it behind him with a soft click.
Lisbon reached up and wiped at her eyes. This was the risk she'd taken, trying to save him, trying to get him not to shy away from intimacy, from help. She'd scared him away. She supposed she should be grateful; he'd ripped the bandage off all at once after all.
Jane walked out of the hotel lobby and out into the night. He waved his hand dismissively to the valet and continued walking down the palm tree-lined street until he came to the walkway that followed the river. He walked for perhaps a mile until he found a bench and sat down facing the water. It wasn't quiet, but the traffic seemed distant, and no one seemed to be out except a few people taking a nighttime stroll or walking their dogs. He looked out across the slow moving river at the lights of downtown Sacramento.
"What am I going to do now, Angela?" he said aloud.
A few months before, he'd started speaking to his dead wife, and it wasn't just to apologize or to beg forgiveness like he had right after she'd been murdered. Logically, he knew she was dead and gone forever, that she couldn't hear his pathetic pleas, but pretending helped clear his head, brought him a few fleeting moments of peace.
Jane looked out upon the lights reflecting off the water. And there it was—the answer he'd been seeking. He walked over to the edge of the lazily flowing river. So much peace there, and yet it wasn't staying in one place. It was going on about its business, going around the obstacles in its way like they were nothing.
He closed his eyes tightly, felt the tears gathering beneath his lids.
"Thank you, my love," he said softly to the air.
He knew with utter certainty that there was only one option left to him. All he needed to do was find the courage to make the leap.
An hour after he'd left, Lisbon was still sitting in the same position on the couch where he'd left her. Not that she'd had much of a choice, unless she wanted to crawl on her hands and knees to a different room. Her tears had dried and now she merely felt cold and numb. It seemed pretty apparent he would be leaving her, but she knew she would be all right. She'd throw herself back into her job as usual, work long hours and forgo any kind of social life except the occasional one-night stand or harmless flirtation. She would think of Jane often, wonder where he was and how he was doing. But her life would go on, and she would find meaning again in putting away the bad guys.
But she wasn't kidding herself. This was different from any other relationship she'd ever had, even when she'd been young and stupid and engaged. She felt different about this. About him. She felt the potential of it, like she was on the cusp of something life altering, like everything she'd ever dreamed about might be slipping from her grasp if she didn't hold on. She wasn't in love with him, not so soon, but she could feel herself teetering close to the edge of falling, and it wouldn't take much of a push. She supposed it was best that he leave now rather than a month from now when the pain would be that much worse.
She was surprised when she heard the key card sliding into the lock. She should have known that he wouldn't just abandon her—even though they'd met just a few days before, she instinctively knew that about him. He wouldn't leave her when he felt responsible for her. That's the kind of man he was.
She saw immediately that he'd been crying too, and she had to fight her own tears from returning. But she would be stronger this time, wouldn't pour on the guilt, wouldn't make him stay any longer than necessary out of some misguided sense of obligation.
"I'm sorry," she said, without preamble. "I didn't mean to change the rules on you midstream. It's totally understandable that you—"
"How about threads?" he interrupted, walking over to stand before the couch.
"How about small, thin threads attached instead of much thicker strings?"
"What?" she repeated dully.
He grinned at her confused expression. "Can't we work our way up to strings? Then, maybe later, who knows—yarn? Rope? Chains?" His smile became slightly wicked as he kneeled on the floor beside her and took her cold hands in his, bringing them to his lips.
"Chains?" she said, eyes shining, but slightly misty again as realization set in as to what he was actually telling her. "I'm really not into that kind of thing."
"How about handcuffs?" he suggested. "I've heard some things about cops..."
"You've heard some wishful thinking about cops," she corrected.
"Seriously, though Teresa. I still don't know where this might go, but I want to try. This past year it's been like I've been walking around in some kind of haze. But you saved me from that, helped me to find a bit of clarity. Now I have to try to start living again like a normal person. I think that's what Angela would have wanted for me. It's going to take awhile though, and I can't be certain I'll ever be normal again."
She smiled softly at him. "Something tells me you've never been anywhere close to normal, Patrick Jane. That's not what I want anyway. My life isn't a normal one. I work long hours, I deal with death and cruelty on a daily basis. Normal to me is some weird fantasy you read about in books or see in classic sitcoms. No, I definitely wouldn't know what to do with normal," she said, pressing her palm against his cheek. "But I have a pretty good idea what I want to do with you."
"And I can't wait to find out what that is," he said, and he moved toward her to take her lips in a sweet kiss, filled with promise, yet promising nothing…at least, not yet.
A/N: Did I scare you a little there for a minute? Sorry. Sometimes I'm a little bit mean ;). Thanks again for sticking with me to the end. I hope this leaves you with a sense of hope for an alternate reality where Jane finds peace and love again much sooner than he's been given on the show. I only wrote this because I love Jane so much, and when he hurts, I really feel it. (Of course, all credit for that goes to the wonderful Simon Baker. But I digress…) And in this AU world I created, he and Lisbon live happily ever after, because in this universe, what I say goes.
P.S. I hope you are already reading my newest fic, "The Taming of the Pyschic." If not, please click on my name to find it. It's another AU, but with a lot more humor than this one.
Also, my friend and writing partner from "Scarlet Woman" has a sequel out to her "Castle"crossover fic, "It Takes a Village," entitled, "Scratched". Check it out. You already know how fabulous she is!