For Bruises

It's a violent and solitary independence that's unwittingly taught by fathers with hands for bruising.

The first time he came to her it was not for work.

Patrick Jane is a smooth operator. Patrick Jane doesn't need help. Patrick Jane can talk himself out of anything.

He'd been scared shitless.

The first time she came to him it was not for work.

Teresa Lisbon is a strong woman. Teresa Lisbon doesn't need help. Teresa Lisbon doesn't get hurt.

She needed to hurt.

He won't look at her and his hand fits snugly over the shadow on his wrist and she's startled to realise that his hand is precisely the size of the one that made the bruise. His hand is precisely the size of the one she wrestled from its grip around his wrist. Precisely the size of the ones she handcuffed as she tried to un-hear the grating of his delicate consultant bones.

Patrick Jane is not a fighter.

'But, ah, maybe if we could just, um,' a slight twisting motion, still covering his wrist. 'Figure I make your job hard enough already, besides, you cop-types must know something useful.'

Weak joke, still no eye-contact.

'Sure,' tight in her throat because she doesn't know who this man is, but he's not Patrick Jane. A throat clearing and a reach half-way across, halting before he can flinch. 'Just let me know when this's cleared up.' A weak smile. 'We'll give you some new bruises to show off.'

She won't look at him and her fingers are pushing little dents into the skin at the base of her neck. Rhythmic little push-push-push-pushes and her gaze doesn't seem able to catch anything at all. Ten thirty on a Saturday night in the parking lot of a motel in Nowhere, California, 'So've you got any plans?'

Teresa Lisbon is not a talker.

His fingers drawn all on their own to join hers, a headshake enough to catch her attention momentarily. Her head drops, her fingers still, she presses against him. Too hard, too much pressure and he startles.

The whimper in the back of her throat is a noise he didn't know she could make and his hand tightens reflexively on her shoulder.

Again too hard, but the way she leans in…

'Teresa,' is apologetic because it's not who they are, but neither is this so he asks anyways, 'are you sure?' The way she bites her lip tells him two things.

She's sure, and so is he.

When he looks up at her, sweaty and panting and with a stunner blooming under his eyebrow - his eyes alight and fearless - he's not hiding and maybe that's not so weak after all.

When she stretches, sleepy and languid and leaning into last night's shadow of his hands - a weight lifted and able to focus - she can feel and maybe that's not so bad after all.

And so they keep coming back.

For bruises.