Their walk took a longer route than usual, neither of them wanting to go home. Eventually though, Lisbon did turn to lead them back to her condo.
On the way, she realized there were a few more things that then two of them needed to talk about.
"Sorry about before," she murmured. "I know I may have gone a little crazy."
"Maybe a little," Jane agreed. "But that's okay. I don't mind."
For some reason, his response annoyed her. "Oh, you don't, do you?"
"No," he admitted. "You wouldn't have gone crazy if you didn't like me a little."
"Something I'm re-thinking now," she grumbled.
Jane smiled. "No you're not."
She looked at the ground. "No, I guess not."
Jane frowned, suddenly concerned. "Teresa?"
She bit her lip and took a chance. "I just... don't want you to leave."
And all of a sudden, Jane understood a lot more about the past few weeks. He'd known Lisbon didn't like change and that she'd been particularly terrified of changing their relationship. He hadn't realized that it was because she'd been afraid of losing him. "Does it sound like I want to leave you?" he asked gently.
Lisbon shook her head. "Well, no, but..."
"Can you give me a chance to prove that I won't?" he asked.
"I'm working on it," she admitted.
Well, that was a relief, Jane decided. "Okay. Just think about it this way, if it helps. On whatever scale we use, I think the two of us can agree that I've already caused you so much stress with all the insanity and instability in my life that there's no way you could ever catch up, even if you go a little crazy like that every week. Honestly, you're probably due for some craziness. So if you need to panic again, that's fine with me."
Lisbon glanced up at him. "Really?"
He nodded. "Like I said, Remember how you were there for me for an entire decade when it came to Red John. Well, I'm here now."
"Yes," Jane agreed. "I think that works out well. Of course, the caveat to that is that I'm still going to be insane at work, and you'll have to deal with that. So really, don't even worry about the occasional crazy spell, Lisbon. No way you catch up to me in the trouble category."
Lisbon stared at him. "You really are absurd."
Jane shrugged. "Maybe a little."
Lisbon had to admit (although not out loud), that she kind of liked him that way. Still, she had to be sure that he knew what he was getting into. Because if she was doing this, it wouldn't be casual. Not with Jane. "I am still a terrible person to have a relationship with, though. You know it as well as I do. I haven't had a romantic relationship that's worked in over a decade."
Jane pulled her up the steps to her condo. "As opposed to me, whose romantic history of the last decade is smooth sailing?"
Lisbon froze in the middle of searching for her keys.
Jane chuckled to himself. "Didn't think of that, did you dear? If anything, my romantic history makes yours look positively perfect."
"And our joint relationship baggage doesn't make you worry that maybe we'd be better off with people with, I don't know, fewer issues?" Lisbon asked tentatively.
Jane shook his head. "No, of course not. Quite the opposite."
She looked sceptical. "Really?"
"It's something we can bond over, Teresa," Jane explained. "Isn't that what you're supposed to look for in a relationship, common ground?"
"We already have lots of common ground," Lisbon grumbled.
He grinned. "I know."
"Oh, hell," she murmured. It still sounded crazy, but it was really starting to feel like it could work. She wanted him, and he wanted her, and they already got along, and...
Jane slipped a hand onto the small of her back. He loved that when he touched her now, she didn't flinch or pull away. "You know how you could make it up to me if you're worried about it?"
Lisbon rolled her eyes. "If you say let you move into my condo, I swear to god, Jane..."
"I was thinking maybe dinner next week, wearing that dress of yours," Jane suggested hopefully. That dress had featured prominently in quite a number of his daydreams, but the reality was really so much better.
"Oh," Lisbon said with a grin.
"Yes," Jane nodded. If she was in the mood to make it up to him, he was going to get something out of it that he wanted.
"Okay," Lisbon agreed. Another dinner with Jane where he treated her like the only woman on the planet? Yeah, she figured she could do that.
Jane's face lit up. "Really?"
"Yes," Lisbon assured him.
He searched her eyes, looking for some kind of a catch. It couldn't be that easy, could it? He probably didn't deserve for it to be that easy. "Really?"
She laughed. "Yes. I think I might be okay with that."
"With wearing the dress?" Jane double-checked.
"And the dinner, and the dancing, if there is dancing, and the other stuff," Lisbon told him.
"What about the flowers?" Jane asked her.
"I always liked the flowers," Lisbon admitted.
Jane watched her for a second. "We're not just talking about one dinner, are we?"
Lisbon shook her head. "No."
And with that Jane was almost entirely in her personal space again. "We can go as slow as you need," he promised recklessly.
"Don't need to go that slow," Lisbon told him with laughing eyes.
He could feel his own pulse skitter. "Teresa..."
She smiled slowly, enjoying having him so close. "Jane? Is that okay?"
He nodded. "I think so. Can I let you know if I need to slow down?"
Her eyes softened. He'd been so gung ho about moving in together that she hadn't really considered how a new relationship might be affecting him. "Of course," she promised.
"Good," he murmured. "Anything else?"
"Yes," she told him. "If we're doing this, if you're sure you want to..."
"I am," Jane interrupted.
Lisbon nodded. "Then you can go out and make as many friends as you want, but... but..." she faltered, no sure how to phrase it.
Jane saved her. "Oh, I'm afraid I'm going to have to insist on exclusivity, Teresa."
She relaxed. "Okay then. Although, that's hardly going to be a problem on my side."
"I don't know," Jane said slowly. "I've seen how some of our local counterparts look at you when you stride out onto a crime scene."
Lisbon flushed. "Oh, they do not look at me in any particular way. You're exaggerating."
"They do!" Jane insisted. "The local sheriff just two weeks ago was looking at you like he wouldn't mind taking you out to dinner, and not to discuss any case."
Lisbon rolled her eyes. "And what about all the women who practically fall all over you?"
Jane smirked. "I've been using you as an excuse to avoid them for years. I'm hardly going to stop now that the excuse is actually going to be true."
She laughed. "So, we're really going to do this?"
"Yes," he told her. "We are."
"Okay," she whispered. "Okay."
"We don't need to figure everything out tonight though," Jane assured her. "Remember, we can take it slow."
Lisbon nodded. "Jane?"
"Are you doing anything on Saturday?" she asked, tilting her head up to look at him.
Jane smiled. "No."
"Did you know the art gallery's got a new exhibit on the French impressionists?" Lisbon asked. "It's apparently only here for a month."
Jane paused. "I didn't know. How did you know?"
She shrugged. "Just heard, I guess. I thought maybe we could go Saturday."
He stared at her. She really was a terrible liar. It was obvious that she'd looked up the gallery's schedule. And she didn't really like art. Only one reason for her to do that then. Jane stepped closed the distance between them and kissed her. Because he wanted to and she wanted him to.
A fact that Lisbon herself confirmed by wrapping her arms around him and leaning against him.
"I don't know why you think you're bad at this dear," he murmured.
She glanced down, avoiding his eyes. "The last two hours?"
Jane ignored that. "And I don't know why you think I'm good at it."
"What?" Lisbon wondered. After all, he'd done a damn good job of keeping her off balance for weeks.
"I asked you to move in out of the blue, and nearly gave you some kind of aneurism," Jane reminded her.
Lisbon paused to consider his point. "Well..."
"And then there's the last ten years," Jane added. Those had hardly been a walk in the park for her, and much of it had been his doing.
Lisbon disagreed. "That wasn't your fault."
"It was," Jane countered. "But either way, it doesn't exactly make me a safe bet for a relationship.."
"I... Huh," Lisbon murmured.
"It really didn't occur to you that you might not be the only person who's bad at this?" he wondered.
Lisbon scowled. She'd thought they weren't going to fixate on that. That they were going to try to work at this together. "Jane..."
"I mean, the only think I know for sure is that I refuse to lose you, which is apparently something you also feel strongly about. We just had different ideas about how to ensure that," he pointed out.
"Oh god..." she murmured. When he said things like that, he made it very difficult to be annoyed with him.
"So I guess it's good that we have each other to be terrible at this with," Jane added, liking the way the earlier panic and fear in her eyes had been replaced with a kind of hope. He was determined to keep reinforcing the idea that they both wanted this. Hopefully she'd do the same thing when he started to panic. Her technique would probably be different though. She'd probably just yell at him and fix it.
"I guess so." Lisbon murmured.
Jane tucked her hair behind her ear. "I told you this wasn't just some crazy whim of mine. I have thought this through a little."
"I'm beginning to realize that," she admitted. She was thinking about it too.
"Good," he replied, preparing himself to leave her for the night. Maybe he could steal another kiss first.
Lisbon smiled. "And Jane?"
"I'm still not ready for you to move in with me," she told him seriously..
He nodded. "I know." He was still going to pester her about it, but he really was okay with going slowly.
Suddenly she smiled. "But I think it might be something to work towards."
Jane stared at her. He wasn't capable of anything else.
She laughed, couldn't resist it.
And then the porch railing was digging into her back again.
A little over two months later…
"Jane! Be careful! Don't knock over that lamp!" Lisbon yelled at him.
Jane sighed, easily avoiding the lamp and setting his box on the coffee table.
"It's a miracle you didn't break anything," Lisbon muttered.
"Oh, it is not," Jane replied. "It's maybe a dozen boxes. Even I'm capable of getting those upstairs without causing a disaster."
"I guess it's lucky that you don't have more stuff then," she told him.
"Particularly since your condo's pretty full," Jane replied.
"It's not that full," Lisbon countered awkwardly. "I let you make some changes."
"I got you better pictures at least," Jane replied. "Something more personal than whatever the previous tenants left behind."
"Exactly," Lisbon grumbled.
"You took longer to give in than I originally expected," Jane informed her.
"What?" Lisbon asked.
"When I originally came up with the notion of moving in together, I bet myself that I could get you to agree in two months. In reality it took closer to three. I think you waited that extra month just to spite me."
Lisbon bit back her irritation, knowing he was just teasing her. "Yes, that was exactly what I did," she said dryly. "The extra month had nothing to do with wanting to be comfortable with the crazy idea."
"I thought so," Jane agreed, wrapping his arms around her.
"Mm," she hummed. It still felt new, this easy affection from him. It wasn't something she took for granted. She hoped she never would.
"I like this," he murmured, holding her tightly.
"Of course you do," Lisbon argued. "You got everything you wanted."
Jane grinned. "So did you."
Her expression turned playful. "Hardly, I still hate that lamp," she told him, gesturing to the lamp he'd insisted on buying.
"Almost everything then," he conceded.
Lisbon pretended to consider that. "I don't know, I kinda hate the old-fashioned looking radio that you bought too."
Jane mock growled. "That's it," he murmured. "I'll show you," he added, just before he kissed her.
Feeling her sigh against him, he smiled. It might be time to visit the store downtown again, the one that sold reproductions of furniture. Last time he'd been there, he'd seen a second lamp to match the first, and this argument was just way too much fun to resist.
Besides, he knew that she secretly loved it (the lamp, although she liked bickering about it too).
She was Lisbon, still strong-willed, still stubborn, still set in her ways.
Jane knew he'd never tire of arguing with her to make it work.
And while the lamp (and the radio) didn't exactly match with the rest of her decor, somehow it all worked.
He smiled down at the woman in his arms. "I thought I'd make fajitas for dinner," he told her.
"I think we have the stuff to make a salad to go with it," she murmured.
He nodded. "We'll have to go grocery shopping tomorrow though."
Lisbon shrugged. "We can go after work. If you want to unpack, I can get dinner started."
Jane shook his head. "I've only got a couple of boxes left to go. They can wait until after dinner."
"Okay," she agreed.
"Lisbon?" he asked, watching her walk into the kitchen.
He smiled. "I'll make the fajitas, you make the salad?"
She smiled back. "Deal."
He followed her into the kitchen and opened the fridge.
"You're going to buy another lamp, aren't you?" Lisbon asked from over his shoulder.
Jane paused. "What makes you say that?"
"I passed by the store yesterday and saw the second one," she told him.
Jane briefly considered his options. "I may have been considering it," he admitted.
Lisbon crossed her arms over her chest. "You can't buy it Jane."
"What?" he asked. He hadn't expected that reaction from her. "Now you're just being unreasonable."
"No, I'm not," she told him with a sudden smile.
Jane narrowed his eyes. Something was up.
Confirming his suspicions, Lisbon laughed. "I'm surprised you didn't notice the extra box on the other side of the couch."
Jane glanced over in shock, and sure enough there was a box there, the perfect size to hold a lamp. "You really bought my lamp?"
She fidgeted. "I wanted to get you something. You know, since today's the first day that you're officially moved in."
Jane boxed her in against the counter. "You didn't have to do that."
She shrugged. "Well, I already did, so..."
Jane just kissed her.
Lisbon wasn't sure why he was making such a big deal of this. For all her complaining, the lamp wasn't that bad. And there was an empty space on the other side of her living room that didn't get enough light. The lamp would fit in nicely, and it would fill the hole that'd been there. She'd always meant to put something there anyway. The lamp was perfect for the space, if a bit odd looking. But Jane liked it.
And the second she'd seen it, Lisbon had known that it would fit in her apartment nicely.
She moaned when she felt his hand trail down her side. "Jane," she murmured, pushing his jacket off his shoulders
"Hm?" he hummed, distracted by the softness of the skin over her collar bone.
"What do you think about pushing dinner back an hour?" she asked, starting to unbutton his vest.
Jane smiled and pulled her towards the bedroom, their bedroom.
"I think I could live with that," he assured her before kissing her again.
After all, compromise was essential to their relationship.
Lisbon smiled as Jane manoeuvred her out of her kitchen, not stumbling into a single piece of furniture or box. Her breath caught when his mouth found the sensitive spot behind her ear.
She wrapped her arms around him and let him lead her upstairs, enjoying the familiarity in it, enjoying that having Jane around didn't freak her out.
Enjoying that a lot of things felt like they might fit in her apartment nicely.
A/N: Alright, well, that's it. Thanks to everyone who stuck it out with me. I hope you enjoyed it. And thanks to everyone who reviewed. I always appreciate that.
Anyone who's interested should consider searching AO3 for "Power Struggle" to see the accompanying art, which is rather fabulous, and thanks to the lovely Chizuru chibi.
Oh, and I am tentatively shopping around for prompts to a J/L one-shot, so if anyone has any suggestions or things they would like to see written, let me know. I'm only writing one. I have an idea, which I am not 100% sure I want to write. I make no guarantees that I will take any or all of the prompts (this time around), but I will consider them. Thanks!