A/N: For the last time for this particular story, I want to say a really BIG thank you to all of you lovely people that read and reviewed 'Red Diablo'. It was my first Mentalist story and I've just had the best time writing it and I've been absolutely blown away by the response it's gotten.
As I said before, I'm sad to see it end but I really hope you all enjoy the epilogue :)
Lisbon sank down onto the comfortable couch with a contented sigh. Looking around, her gaze touched on the familiar objects dotted about the reasonably spacious room. It was good to be finally in her office again.
It had been a long day ending with a medical to pronounce her well enough to return to work. She'd then met with her new boss who'd given her back her badge and gun before delivering a short speech about what he expected from her now. She had nodded politely then headed straight down to the bullpen and the sanctuary of her office.
The rest of the team had expressed their delight at having her back before they'd finally left for the day. Cho was glad to hand the leadership reins back over to her, Rigsby, who had only come back the week before, and Van Pelt were just pleased to see their boss back where she belonged.
Now she was alone.
She'd had so many psych evaluations in the past couple of weeks that she'd been starting to think she'd never get her job back.
Still, considering she'd been abducted and hypnotised by Red John, she wasn't surprised that there were certain…reservations as to whether something nasty was going to crop up at some point.
In truth, she'd had some concerns about that herself. She felt completely normal but there'd be times when she'd wonder if the killer had put some weird trigger in her head that nobody had been able to find and one day she'd do something completely crazy.
It was a disconcerting thought but one that she'd tried to keep at bay. It did her no good worrying anyway; she had no way of knowing until, or if it ever, happened so it was pointless.
Then there was the fact that she had failed to return to her apartment yet. She was annoyed at herself for being such a coward but the thought of going back to where she'd been kidnapped and a poor woman had lost her life just didn't have any appeal.
Until today that was, when Cho had passed on a very interesting piece of information about a certain consultant that had her deciding she was going back tonight whatever awful memories it induced.
Her mind drifted back to that fateful night just over a month before and she couldn't contain the slight shudder that ran through her body. Even now, as she went over everything that happened again, she wondered if she could've been quicker, stronger…more alert.
Red John had grabbed her from behind when she'd entered her apartment and injected her with something that had her unconscious in seconds. She'd awoken not too long after to find herself tied to one of her chairs and the murderer sitting calmly in front of her toying with a knife.
She'd honestly thought he was going to kill her then and her only concern was, not for herself, but of how it would affect Jane when he found her. He'd suffered so much heartache in his life and she knew that losing her to the same man that had butchered his family would more than likely break him.
It was a shock when the killer had gotten up and walked around behind her, trailing his hand up her arm and lingering at her neck as he came around to stand in front of her. He'd bent down and started talking to her in a tone of voice she recognised from when Jane attempted to put someone into a trance. As soon as she'd realised what he was doing, she'd fought against the urge to succumb but the drug had made her more susceptible and weakened her strength of mind.
She didn't remember much more after that until she awoke to find Meyer looking in at her through the car window and her time as Sarah Parsons began. She remembered everything from those couple of weeks but it was if she were replaying it from someone else's point of view. It was an odd feeling but one she thankfully didn't have to worry about any longer due to her tenacious consultant.
Letting out another sigh her thoughts abruptly turned to Patrick Jane, which then led to her focussing on the way he'd broken the hypnosis…and what had followed afterwards.
More specifically; the kiss.
The kiss she'd instigated. As soon as that wall in her mind had come tumbling down and all the fear had miraculously disappeared along with the aching in her head, she'd quickly realised she was in his arms and simply couldn't help herself.
She'd tried telling herself that it was a spur of the moment thing because she was so grateful that he'd saved her but it had only taken her a day or so to admit to herself that her feelings for him had already begun making themselves known long before she was kidnapped. The whole thing with Lorelei had really opened up a can of seriously jealous worms that she'd been progressively having trouble keeping a lid on. So it wasn't any great surprise that she had acted on the latent desire; she knew she'd have eventually given in to her feelings anyway.
The only problem was that she hadn't spoken to him about it. She was embarrassed about her lack of restraint and considering how he'd reacted afterwards she assumed that he wasn't ready to talk about what happened either.
In truth, it hadn't really been that awkward between them but then they'd seen only each other briefly over the last few weeks and only during work time. He wasn't avoiding her exactly, but he also wasn't constantly in her personal space. There, but not there and she couldn't decide if some of it was due to the CBI keeping close tabs on her or whether he was simply distancing himself.
Both probably. With Red John gone, there really wasn't anything to keep him at the CBI any longer. She felt her stomach drop a little at the thought of him possibly thinking of leaving but knew he had more right than anyone to try and finally have a normal life.
The rest of the team had kept an eye on her. It was to be expected until her evaluations were over and it had surprisingly been very enlightening as they'd all told her what had happened while she was missing. Predictably, everything appeared to have centred round Jane.
How Red John had contacted him and taunted him with her death. How the consultant had really got that scar on his arm. She felt ill when Cho had informed her exactly how close that had actually been. And also how he'd been so single-mindedly determined to find her. From what they said, he'd never once given up or entertained the thought that Red John had lied and had really killed her anyway. Cho thought that the consultant had transferred his desire for finding Red John into finding her instead. It made sense, but she'd also realised that by doing that he probably hadn't had any time to process the fact that his quest for the revenge of his family was finally over. There had to be a hell of a lot of baggage for him to deal with and it wouldn't surprise her if their kiss were the straw that broke the camel's back and why he'd kept his distance.
She didn't blame him. She just missed him.
Subconsciously, she touched her hand to her mouth, thinking of his lips on hers as she had done many, many times everyday since it had happened. They'd been so soft; so tender; so demanding.
Many months ago he'd declared his love for her, or so she thought, but apart from her stumbling attempt at asking him about it and his refusal to acknowledge it, they'd not spoken of it again. Just like the kiss.
It was from that point on, while he had interrogated Lorelei and they'd grown closer to catching Red John, that she'd begun to question the extent of her own feelings for him. It hadn't taken her long to recognise that they ran far deeper than she'd ever realised. She loved him too. Was in love with him. Had been for quite a while and she'd actually laughed at herself for being so blind to it. Some cop she was…
"Hell, woman, quieten down! You're thinking so loudly it's hurting my head."
Lisbon gave a little start of surprise and blushed as she quickly dropped her hand to her lap and looked up at her visitor with an irritated frown. Speak of the devil. If she ever did go crazy one day, she knew it'd be down to the blond consultant lounging nonchalantly in her doorway with his hands in his pockets, rather than any trigger some evil serial killer had implanted in her brain.
"What do you want, Jane?" she asked, adopting her best, resigned tone reserved especially for him.
"Oh, just thought I'd check on our fearless leader…but Cho's gone so I decided to come and see you instead," he replied, giving her one of his most charming smiles.
"Nice!" she groused with indignation as he left the doorway and sauntered over to sit next to her on the couch. Close, but not too close. "Now you've seen me, you can go."
Jane chuckled as he leaned back further into the soft leather then folded his arms and simply drank in the sight of her. He'd missed her these past few weeks but he knew she'd be well looked after and so he'd taken the opportunity to take some time to try and sort out his own life.
It hadn't been quite as bad as he'd expected. After all these years he'd finally allowed himself to grieve properly. There had been tears and anger and self pity and remorse but he'd worked through them all in the knowledge that Red John was dead and he'd managed to save woman that he now loved.
Naturally, he still carried around the guilt of Angela and Charlotte's deaths and rightly so, he should never forget what had happened and he wouldn't. They'd always be with him, but now he remembered them as they were, not just as he'd found them that dreadful day and it left him feeling freer than he had in years. At long last, he was in a good place and more than ready to move on. He just hoped he could convince Lisbon to go along with him.
He thought he could…if that kiss they'd shared were anything to go by. He'd thought about it often but it'd only been in the last few days that he'd realised that she must have been herself when it'd happened. Not only that but she had been the one to kiss him. His epiphany had been a relief and it was one piece of guilt of which he quite readily let go.
The light touch of Lisbon's hand on his arm brought him back to the present and he realised that his mind had drifted for a few seconds. Seeing the concern on her face, he marvelled at how she could be worried about him when she was getting over a huge ordeal herself. Giving her a reassuring smile, he continued to study her face.
She didn't look so tired anymore he noted, relieved to know that she was sleeping better now. Her cheeks still held a slight rosy hue, which he really hoped was down to her thinking about him, and her hair…
Her hair was back to its natural, glossy shade of dark brown almost black, the colour emphasising her green eyes far more than the red tint ever had. "You look like…you," he commented softly as his gaze continued to roam slowly over her face.
She tilted her head slightly wondering whether to offer him a smart retort but stopped short at the intense, warm look in his cerulean eyes as he smiled at her tenderly. She blinked. For the first time since she'd known him, he didn't appear to have that air of tortured, wretchedness that seemed to doggedly hover just beneath the jovial façade he usually wore. He seemed to be finally at peace with himself. She couldn't help but smile back at him, her cheeks reddening a little more.
"Thanks," she finally replied, sincerely. "I went to my local salon. It's good to be me again too. If it weren't for you, I'd still be plain old Sarah Parsons from telemarketing."
The blond tutted derisively.
"Oh, come now, Lisbon, we both know you could never be plain," he rebuked chidingly.
Her eyes widened at his off-handed compliment and she felt her cheeks grow even hotter. She wasn't quite sure how to deal with this new Jane that was sitting beside her and cleared her throat slightly before attempting to prod the conversation onto safer ground.
Naturally, whenever she felt uncomfortable she went for the attack.
"So, Cho told me that you stayed at my place while I was gone," she stated her tone faintly accusing as she narrowed her eyes to look at him. "You went through all my stuff, didn't you?"
Jane looked surprised and a little affronted at the allegation.
"First of all, I didn't go through all of your stuff…some of it maybe, but definitely not all," he rectified in a hurt tone. "And secondly, I prefer to think of it as me doing you a favour by looking after your apartment until you returned. You know, the usual house sitter kind of things; watering the plants, feeding the cat…"
"Cat?!" Lisbon interjected in surprise. "Jane, I don't have a cat!"
The blond looked back at her with a slight frown.
"Huh," he grunted as he glanced down, apparently processing that piece of information before looking up at her again in perplexity. "Really? You don't have a cat?"
She shook her head and he unfolded an arm to tap a forefinger thoughtfully on his chin.
"Well, that's very odd because she kind of reminds me of you. I thought she had to be yours."
"What?" she questioned in amused disbelief. Only Jane would compare her to a cat. "In what way? You're the one who sleeps all day, I think it'd be more like you."
Jane smiled and shook his head as he turned slightly to look at her, his face sobering as he took in her happy features. Reaching out his hand, he gently took hold of a lock of her hair, rolling the fine strands between his fingers as he replied softly, "No; she's a tiny little thing with shiny black fur, the biggest green eyes I've ever seen…and a crotchety inclination to lash out at me when I'm least expecting it. I'm completely smitten."
Lisbon felt her breath hitch slightly as she stared back him. The feel of his hand on her hair and the almost mesmerising quality of his voice had her leaning closer and closer to him as he spoke. She could feel his warm breath ripple gently across her cheek as her mind raced at his thinly veiled implication, unsure whether to believe him this time or not. Why couldn't the man just be honest for once and tell her outright how he felt without being so Goddamn obtuse? He'd covered himself again, just in case…
Just in case she didn't feel the same, she realised with sudden clarity. She smiled. The stupid, stupid idiot. As if there were anyone else for her after all these years.
She was so close now that the consultant had to use all of his considerable willpower not to just lean in a kiss her senseless. He watched the play of emotions on Lisbon's face, half fearing her outright rejection and his free hand sought out to clasp around hers in an effort to keep her from bolting. She kept her cards even closer to her chest than he did and that what saying something. And then she smiled. His heart soared and he was about to claim the kiss he'd denied himself when, without warning, she struck out at him and knocked his hand away from her hair.
"Crotchety?" he heard her say in an offended tone.
Jane sat back and silently mouthed the word, "Ow," as he rubbed his arm. Grimacing slightly at uncomfortable stinging sensation her slap had caused he scowled in annoyance. So damn close.
"Good God, woman! Here I am bearing my soul to you and that's the word you choose to focus on?" he grumbled in exasperation.
Lisbon let out a snort of laughter.
"You mean as opposed to, 'smitten'?" she queried sardonically, one eyebrow raised.
"It's a perfectly acceptable word to convey how I feel," he replied defensively before looking away and adding in an aggrieved mutter, "And more than you've ever said to me."
Her amusement faded as she saw that he looked genuinely hurt and she automatically reached out to take his hand in hers. Clasping it tightly, it took her a second or two to register the absence of the metal band that used to reside in his fourth finger and she looked down at their joined hands in surprise. Sure enough, his wedding ring was gone. Slowly, she looked back up to find him staring at her intently, the enormity of his gesture reflecting in the love emanating from his gaze.
"Are you sure?" she asked on barely a whisper.
"Very sure," he replied without hesitation.
And there it was, she realised all of a sudden, the trigger that would make her do something crazy. She'd just known it'd be him.
Leaning forward, she gently laid her free hand against his chest then closed the gap between them to tentatively press her lips to his, initiating a soft kiss. Jane closed his eyes at the first gentle touch of her mouth, letting her lead for a few moments before taking control. Raising his hand, he slid it up her neck to entwine in her long hair, holding her in place as he sought to deepen the kiss. Tongues met and danced until the need to breathe caused him to tear his lips from hers but only long enough to begin a trail of heated kisses along her jaw and down her neck.
"I love you, Teresa," he murmured as her head tilted back to allow him better access.
"Mmmm," she hummed in reply, barely registering what he'd said.
Lost even further in the moment, he leaned against her and she capitulated readily. Soon she was pinned beneath him on the couch, the air around them punctuated by heavy sighs and moans as their arousal for each other threatened to spiral out of control.
The sound of a door slamming and the intermittent squeak of wheels abruptly brought their surroundings back into sharp focus and they hurriedly sat up. Straightening their clothing, Lisbon looked down at herself to find a few of her shirt buttons undone. Blushing, she quickly did them back up and found herself having a whole new appreciation for the deftness of her consultant's hands. She hadn't felt a thing.
Looking over at the blond sitting next to her, she felt her cheeks redden even more as he grinned back knowingly and gave her a wink. Rolling her eyes, she raised her arms and ran her fingers through her hair to try to tame what was undoubtedly a tangled mess. The movement naturally caused her back to arch therefore pushing her out chest in an unintentional erotic pose. A sharp intake of breath from the man beside her had her turning to him in surprise. He looked enthralled, his gaze riveted on her body and a hint of feminine pride lit up her eyes when she realised that her innocent gesture had inadvertently sparked quite a reaction. This time it was she who winked at him when he finally dragged his gaze back to hers causing him to shake his head with a wry smile.
They both stood up as the squeaking wheels drew nearer and the night janitor came into view walking slowly along the corridor.
"We'd better go," she said as she grabbed her bag and coat.
Jane joined her at the door and they nodded a greeting at the cleaner before heading towards the elevator.
She pushed the call button and waited. Out the corner of her eye, she saw Jane shove his hands into his pockets then roll back on his heels before rolling forward onto his toes and down again. It was a patented move that let her know he had something to say.
"What's wrong?" she asked, turning her head to look at him.
"Nothing," he replied, all innocence.
Lisbon eyed him suspiciously for a moment then turned back to the elevator. She patiently stood there through two more of his foot rolls but on the third she'd had enough.
"Alright, just tell me what it is you want to say," she demanded, the annoyance plain to see on her face as she turned fully to confront him. "Come on, out with it."
"I don't know what you mean," the blond denied.
Lisbon folded her arms and gave him a glare that lesser men would have run from.
'Ah, it's good to see her back,' Jane thought to himself before taking a step towards her. "OK, it's nothing really…just that…you haven't actually said that you love me yet and well," he paused to smile disarmingly before adding, "a man does kind of like to hear that sort of thing…especially after he's just put out."
The brunette agent let out a surprised burst of laughter and shook her head at his cheek.
"Well?" he prompted expectantly.
"Are you going to tell me?"
"Not when you've just told me to!" Lisbon retorted irately, her whole demeanour telling him that her answer should've been obvious.
His face fell a little and he gave a quick nod as he looked down with a mumbled, "OK."
The agent turned away from him, determined not to cave in to the deafening silence that now reigned. She punched the call button twice more wondering where the hell the elevator was and then, hearing a heavy sigh come from the man behind her, she suddenly couldn't take it anymore.
"OK! Alright!" she all but yelled as she turned to face him again. "I love you, Patrick! Is that good enough for you? Are you happy now?"
The consultant looked at her for a moment as if considering the question seriously.
"Honestly? I could've done without the shouting," he finally admitted, ignoring her huff of annoyance to move forward right into her personal space and look down at her with a tender smile. "But yes, I am happy now."
In the blink of an eye, all of Lisbon's anger completely evaporated as she stared back at his handsome face. He'd meant it so much more than just in answer to her question that she couldn't resist going on tiptoes to give him a lingering kiss.
The elevator dinged and the door slid smoothly open as she pulled away and took hold of his ringless hand. His eyelids fluttered open a few seconds later, as if awakening from a dream and he smiled contentedly at her.
"Come on, let's go home," she said, pulling him into the cabin behind her. He eagerly went with her, his smile faltering slightly as she added, "And if I find a cat in my apartment, you are so not getting lucky tonight."
"Don't worry, you won't," he hurriedly assured her as the door slid shut and they began their descent. Jane raised their entwined hands and brushed his lips over the back of her knuckles before adding quietly, "I left her with your neighbour for a couple of days."
The consultant laughed and pulled her into his tight embrace before cutting off any of her further protestations with a searing kiss. He knew they still had a lot to talk through but for now it could wait. They had plenty of time ahead of them.
Finally, after all these years, he was free to be with her.
Free to love her.
And he couldn't wait to get started.
A/N: Please let me know what you think of the ending - it was quite an angsty story throughout so I hope this was a nice conclusion! :)
And you're welcome to check out my other ongoing story, "What Makes You beautiful" - it's quite light if you're happy to read that sort of thing and I'm posting weekly until Christmas :)