A/N: Well, another story down. I can't believe I've written so many that I've lost count! As long as I keep being inspired and keep getting such wonderful support from readers like you, I'll keep churning them out. I hope this conclusion proves satisfying. Thanks once more for reading.
Chapter 13: Conclusion
Lisbon's hopes that Jane had gone out to surprise her with breakfast died by eight o'clock. She went to work, forcing herself to send no more texts, to leave no more messages. He'd obviously left her—he'd taken his things-and there was no sense in denying it any longer. He'd made love to her, had found himself feeling too much, and had run, just as he had before. He'd broken his promise to say good-bye before he left her, and she resigned herself to the pain to come. This time, however, it would be much worse. This time, she had fallen in love with him.
"How's Jane," asked Van Pelt curiously when Lisbon passed through the bullpen.
The secret was out that Lisbon and Jane were involved, and the past few days it was obvious by her jocular mood that having the psychic in her life had made the boss very happy. But Van Pelt's polite daily question fizzled when she took the time to really look at Lisbon's puffy eyes, meticulously covered with makeup.
"Oh," muttered Van Pelt, and turned back to her work in embarrassed sympathy.
Rigsby and Cho, normally top-notch detectives, called their usual good morning to their boss, and went about their business, unaware of Lisbon's vast change in demeanor compared to the day before. Van Pelt, however, watched with concern as Lisbon continued on to her office, coffee in hand, where she promptly shut the door and closed her blinds against the world. Her obvious pain tugged at Van Pelt's heart, and she decided she would break the unspoken, cardinal rule against butting into Lisbon's personal life. Not much—just enough to give romance a little shove.
The boss deserved to be happy, and she'd seen the way Jane had acted around her the night they foiled his most recent attack; there was no doubt in Van Pelt's mind Jane had feelings for her too. The junior agent was nothing if not a romantic, and in that spirit, turned to her computer with a new mission.
By noon, Lisbon had answered all her e-mail, updated her paperwork on their last (though unsolved) case, and could finally think of nothing to do—well, nothing she had the motivation to do. She'd checked her phone several times, even though it was fully charged and the volume up. He hadn't called. Hadn't texted. He was well and truly gone.
As she stared blindly ahead at her shuttered windows, she willed herself not to break down like she had in the shower that morning. It wouldn't do to bring her personal life to the job, and it was already interfering with her thoughts. She stopped just short of praying for a new case to keep her mind off her troubles, when suddenly the small chime announcing a new e-mail caught her immediate attention. She focused on her computer screen, but saw with a sinking heart that it was only from Van Pelt. "FYI" it said in the subject line. Only vaguely curious, she clicked her mouse and opened it.
She was greeted with a picture of Jane that made her heart skip a beat. It was a black and white professional head shot. He was wearing a dark colored sweater and a bit of rakish stubble on his cheeks and chin, his hair casually tousled. He could have easily been a fashion model. His expression was serious, though his eyes had the familiar, mischievous sparkle that she'd grown to love. She blinked rapidly against sudden tears, then noticed the other information contained in the e-mail:
One Night Only: Psychic and Spiritual Advisor, Patrick Jane.
His Insight Will Amaze and Inspire You!
February 3, 8:00 p.m.
Bay View Hotel Ballroom
Lisbon stared at the date. The show was tonight. Did she dare? The thought of the weeks to come, without an explanation, without closure, prompted her quick decision, so that that by five o'clock she was chomping at the bit to leave. She would go to his show and confront him, maybe even finally punch him in the nose like she'd often been tempted to. It would be painful to see him, but she was compelled to force him to face her like a man, make him tell her admit that he had once again run scared. He owed her that much. Hell, he owed her more than he could possibly repay, and she fully intended to collect all that she could before she was done with him for good.
With evening traffic, Lisbon made it to the Bay View Hotel with only five minutes to spare, bought her ticket to the nearly sold-out show, and slipped into a seat at the rear of the crowded ballroom. The familiar, elaborate stage had been set up at the front of the room, just like it had been the first night they'd met. All around her, mainly women chattered excitedly about how handsome Jane was, how amazingly accurate, how they'd seen his show three, four, even five times. It struck her that to them, he was merely a stage persona. They hadn't seen him genuinely laugh, genuinely cry, seen his face in the throes of uninhibited passion. Then again, maybe he'd just been putting on a show for her too, and she should remember that he'd likely slept with a good percentage of the repeat customers here.
She set her face in stone. No more of that, Teresa. Jane is going to be the one suffering tonight, not me.
Right on schedule, the lights dimmed and the dramatic intro flashed on the stage's big screen. Then, the man of the hour appeared as if by magic, center stage. The applause was deafening. When the lights came up again and Jane had used his charisma to calm the tide of fans, his eyes scanned the crowd, searching for his first mark. He began with a fishing expedition.
"I'm Patrick Jane. I'll be your psychic for the evening." There were titters of feminine laughter and appreciative clapping. "Let me start with—" and he closed his eyes as if in deep thought, "—the letter…C…Someone in this room has a connection with the letter C…"
Teresa rose to her feet. "Coward," she called. "Coward starts with a C, doesn't it?"
Instantly recognizing her voice, Jane shielded his eyes against the stage lights, and they went down as if by magic as he looked toward the back of the ballroom.
He smirked a little, but he didn't seem all that surprised.
"Yes, ma'am," he said into the microphone headset. "Indeed it does." He was pretending he didn't know her. "Brad, get a mic on the lady, if you please."
Lisbon could feel the scandalized eyes on her, could hear the speculative whispers throughout the room. The man she assumed was Brad suddenly appeared before her, holding a microphone in front of her face, which she promptly swiped from his hand. He looked at her as if shocked someone would do such a thing, but her eyes never left Jane's.
"I recently met a coward," she continued, her voice now suitably amplified. "He was afraid of commitment, so he left as soon as he could. Oh, yeah, commitment starts with a C too, doesn't it?"
Jane walked slowly down the steps toward her. "Are you certain he really left you?" he asked, conscious of their rapt audience.
"Well, he wasn't there the next morning. I stopped short of looking underneath the bed for him, but yeah, I think it's safe to say he was gone."
More chuckles, and now, a few sisterly harrumphs.
"Maybe you don't know the whole story," continued Jane seriously. "Maybe his leaving had nothing to do with you. Maybe he had no choice."
She paused, and by then Jane was standing right in front of her. Of course, the audience had caught on that they knew each other, and aside from a few shocked whispers, most of the onlookers were completely caught up in the drama unfolding before them.
"Is that what your psychic link is telling you? Because I'm pretty sure he's not dead, well, at least not yet." The crowd loved her threatening tone. "He could have called," said Lisbon. "He could have returned my texts. He could have said good-bye, like he promised." She swallowed back the tears, not wanting to humiliate herself any more than she already was.
"Perhaps he wasn't ready to say good-bye," Jane said softly, as the crowd seemed to be holding its collective breath. "So there was no need to say it. Perhaps he hoped she would trust him, that she could see that he had changed, because of her."
"I had no reason to trust him," she said. "He's done this before. I saw no evidence of change."
Jane raised an eyebrow. "None?"
She thought of how he'd stayed with her the past few days when he hadn't really had to, when there hadn't even been the immediate promise of sex. She remembered the joy she felt upon seeing his smiling face each day after work, the comfort and security she'd felt as he lay beside her in her bed at night. But then she stiffened her spine in remembrance of the empty bed this morning.
"Well, it did take him longer to run this time, probably because until this morning, he was physically incapable of doing anything else."
"Ooooooohhhh," said the crowd.
"Don't you mean until last night? He certainly could have run last night, after the third time he wasn't physically incapable. I mean, so my psychic sources tell me, folks…" Laughter again, and Lisbon flushed scarlet. And then, the fight seemed to drain out of her, and she was finished playing games.
"You left me, you bastard! I just want you to tell me to my face why you did it. Don't I deserve that much?"
"I was coming back," he said, forgetting his act as well. "I swear on my life I was."
"I don't believe you."
He made the last few steps forward that would allow him to be close enough to rest his hands on her shoulders. He looked deeply into her eyes, uncaring now of their audience.
"I would have come back, Teresa, because…because I'm in love with you." Each of words was softly spoken, but the microphone made them sound loud as gunshots. The crowd gasped.
"I—I don't believe you," she repeated stubbornly, and around them, Lisbon felt the nearly tangible shift of their witnesses from supporting her position to being firmly in Jane's camp. "If someone loves you, they don't leave without telling you where they're going, when they'll be back. They're not selfish life that."
"You're right," he told her solemnly. "And I'm sorry. But I do love you Teresa Lisbon-deeply, helplessly, and somewhat reluctantly, and I'm making a psychic prediction that you love me too, otherwise you wouldn't be here."
He smiled a little, and they stared at each other, the room completely silent, awaiting her reply. Jane's pulse was hammering in his ears, having just made a confession that would have been difficult enough without an audience, but as he had said, he was helpless in his feelings, and there was nothing else for it but to let them out and damn the consequences.
Then, from the front of the room, came a gleeful call of encouragement.
"Kiss her, Patrick! You know she wants you to!"
That was all it took to get the rest of the audience to join in on the battle cry: "Kiss her! Kiss her! Kiss her!"
Jane, the consummate showman, couldn't help but give the people what they wanted. Determination lit his eyes like a dull flame, and hers widened at his obvious intent. She began ardently to shake her head, but he wouldn't let that dissuade him, and Lisbon found herself engulfed by fine Italian wool and expensive French cologne.
"Jane—" she managed, before his lips silenced hers. He kissed her thoroughly, his tongue tangling with hers, willing her to give everything to it, silently begging her to show the world that she had been equally caught up in this supreme madness. With a soft sound of acquiescence, she brought her hands up to delve into his smoothed back hair, the microphone she'd held bouncing to the carpet with an earsplitting squeal of feedback. The crowd, as they say, went wild.
He held her small body even more tightly to his, ravaging her mouth as if they were completely alone, applause, catcalls and whistles fading into the background, drowned out by their pounding hearts and whispered endearments. Jane forgot he still wore his headset, so the spectators heard every sound.
A few moments later Jane pulled reluctantly away, smiling into moss green eyes that still looked up at him in shocked disbelief.
"Hey, Teresa," a woman called, "if you don't want him, I'll take him!"
"Me too," echoed several others, laughter in their voices.
"What do you say, Lisbon," said Jane. "Clearly you have a bit of competition."
"Also one of the problems," she said.
"Talk into the mic!" someone yelled. "We can't hear you!"
She sighed and huffed, then bent down for the discarded microphone and addressed the room.
"Thank you all for your concern, but this is really a private matter between Jane and me—"
"Who's the coward now?" Jane said.
"Oooooohhhhh," said the crowd.
Lisbon lowered the microphone. "Seriously," she ground out for Jane's ears only. "I don't want to do this now…here…"
Jane took pity on her and pulled her to his side. "I'm afraid this part of the show is over, folks. I'm fairly sure this wasn't what you came to see anyway. While I have Teresa here with me, however, I'd like to make an announcement."
"Have you set a date?" asked an audience member. More laughter.
"Uh, no. I'm afraid that's another show," replied Jane with a grin, and he could almost feel the waves of embarrassment rolling off of the woman at his side.
"No, this particular announcement might come as a surprise, and dare I say even a disappointment to some, but tonight's show will be my last. I've been offered a full-time position as a consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation. I've accepted."
There were immediate murmurs of protest, and Lisbon looked up at him, more shocked than anyone. He gave her shoulder a squeeze.
"But, tonight's show will go on as planned. That is, if you're still in the mood to talk to your loved ones who have passed on…"
They applauded in response, and Jane escorted Lisbon back toward her seat. He covered his microphone and took Lisbon's from her hand, switching it off.
"Wait for me," he pleaded. "We do have a lot to talk about, don't you think?"
She tilted her head, contemplating his request. "Or, I could leave without telling you. Make you wonder what's become of me, make you rack your brain trying to figure out what you did wrong."
"Please," he begged softly.
"Okay. But I don't care to watch you hoodwink another bunch of gullible, desperate women, so I'll wait in the hotel lounge."
He leaned down to kiss her cheek. "Thank you. And Teresa…I meant what I said."
"Well, that would be a first."
She wasn't going to let him off easily, he could see that. He supposed that was about what he deserved.
"See you in about ninety minutes," he told her. "I promise to explain everything."
She shook her head a little, only now beginning to recover from the shock of his admission and his kiss. She wanted nothing more than to be alone to think about it, to sort out the truth from the bullshit.
Jane watched her exit the ballroom, while his thoughts roiled within his brain and he tried to focus on making his very last show a memorable one—at least for the fans. It would take a Herculean effort to stop thinking about Teresa Lisbon.
It was more like two hours before he made it to the hotel lounge, and he was in a near panic that she would have left after ninety-one minutes. It was difficult to get away when everyone wanted his autograph, or a hug, or to talk about his plans with Lisbon. And so it was with a sinking heart that he entered the lounge to find her gone. A pianist played tinkling jazz in the corner, and the bar was only half-full on a weeknight. He went to the bartender.
"You see a beautiful, petite woman who looked like she could spit nails?"
The man laughed, drying a few highball tumblers. "Trouble in paradise?"
Jane grinned wryly. "You might say that."
"Well, your troubles may be over. If you're Jane, the little lady left you a message." He reached beneath the bar and pulled out a folded napkin.
"I'm Jane, all right, but after tonight, I might just be forced to change my name." He unfolded the napkin to find only a room number. "Thanks, my friend," he said to the bartender, slipping him a twenty for his trouble. Then he hastened to the elevator.
She could have just left him without a goodbye—that would have been the most cutting and meaningful way to blow him off once and for all. Booking a room then had to be a good sign, but with Teresa Lisbon, she could just be looking for a quiet place to bust his balls.
He stood outside the room on the tenth floor, pulse racing. He took a few deep breaths, willing himself to calm down. After a good thirty seconds, he knocked. No reply. He knocked again, sweating a little now.
He heard her disengage the deadbolt, then open the door. He had hoped she'd be wearing sexy lingerie so he'd know immediately her intentions, but she was still clad in her work clothes (minus the blazer and heeled boots), her hair mussed, eyes sleepy as if she'd been taking a nap. He found he preferred her that way, and his heart clenched a little.
"May I come in?" he asked. She hesitated, appraising him as well, and he couldn't help but notice she liked what she saw.
She stood aside so he could pass. "Point taken," he said, as he looked around the classy room she'd rented, complete with king-size bed.
"What point is that, Jane?" As if she didn't know.
"When I got to the bar, you were gone, after you'd told me you'd be there. Point taken."
"Imagine that feeling for three months, or even over night, and you see my trouble in a nutshell."
"I know. I'm an idiot, Teresa, set in my ways, scared to death, out of my depth—whatever you want to call it. I got a call this morning saying I'd better get my ass to this show tonight or I'd be sued for breach of contract by my business manager."
"Oh?" She crossed her arms over her chest, still not convinced he was telling her the whole truth. She hadn't offered him a seat, so he was feeling unusually nervous. It took everything in him not to run his hands through his hair in agitation, or worse, start pacing.
"Yeah. I missed a few shows lately without notice. My mind was on other things, like broken ribs and, well, you. And since I'm now on a civil servants' pay, I figured I would run out of my savings pretty quickly if I didn't try to get some of my manager's money back."
She simply stared at him, debating. His hand went to his tie, which suddenly felt like a noose. He decided at that moment that after tonight, he wouldn't be wearing any of those anymore.
"Geeze, Lisbon, can we sit down please?"
She almost laughed, but chose sarcasm instead. "Nervous, Jane? What on earth do you have to be nervous about?"
He sat in a chair, figuring it would be too presumptuous to sit on the bed.
"You never answered me," he said. "And would you, for Pete's sake, please sit down?"
She purposefully hesitated, enjoying his discomfort, then sat on the bed. He visibly relaxed, then grinned, knowing exactly what she was trying to do and even admiring her for it.
"All right," she began, all business-like. "If this relationship is going to continue, there need to be some rules."
"Lisbon's Commandments," he said with a twinkle.
"Don't be sacrilegious."
"Sorry," he said, but he wasn't really. He waved his hand encouragingly. "Shoot."
"First, you will keep your promises if at all humanly possible."
"You've made that abundantly clear."
"Good, because that's a deal breaker. Second, your time as a playboy will end if you're with me. No other women, period."
"Thou shalt have no other women before me, sayeth Agent Lisbon. Not a problem; I don't think I could handle you and someone else anyway."
"Third," she went on, ignoring his wry comments. "Don't lie to me."
"Thou shalt not lie. Understood."
He got up from the chair and joined her on the bed, taking her hands in his.
"Look, believe it or not, I know how to be a good boy. I've been in a committed relationship before—I was married for ten years, and I never cheated or broke promises, or told more than a little white lie about how good she looked in a dress. It's been awhile, but I remember, Teresa," he finished softly.
She stared at him a moment, wanting to believe him, wanting him to be the man she believed was there beneath the conman facade.
"Anything else?" he prompted.
His hands in hers were distracting, but she had to put everything on the table before she chose to take a chance on him again. He'd said he loved her, and she wanted desperately to believe him.
"Yes. Since you're really working with the CBI now—I called Minelli to confirm, by the way—work has to be separate from our relationship. From what I know of CBI regulations, it's a gray area that defines the role of a consultant-team relations. I think we're okay from a rule standpoint, but my job is very important to me. I don't want you screwing it up by well, screwing me. Do you get what I'm saying?"
"Loud and clear, and so delicately put too." He was grinning ear-to-ear now, heartened that her commandments weren't going to be as difficult to follow as he'd feared, for the more he spoke to her now, the more he wanted this with her.
"Is that it?"
"Fine," said Jane. "I will follow your commandments. But I have a condition too before we embark on this adventure."
"And what's that?" she asked, sounding suddenly nervous herself.
Next thing she knew, Jane had pushed her down onto the bed, covering her body with his. His mouth hovered mere millimeters from hers.
"I need you to tell me you love me. I know you do, so don't bother denying it. But admitting it is my one and only condition."
"Just so you'll be proven right?" she asked, becoming breathless at the feeling of his hard body pressing hers into the bed.
He smirked, but his eyes were soft and filled with desire. "Among other things."
"Tell me," he said persuasively, his lips alighting on her cheek. His sensual cologne enveloped her once more, and her breath hitched in her throat. He kissed one corner of her mouth, his tongue lightly flicking the sensitive spot, making her ache to feel his lips fully covering hers.
"Tell me," he said again, gliding lightly over her lips to the other corner, repeating his sensual torment. "You may have tamed me, sweetheart, but I still need you to throw me a bone to keep me in line." He pressed his hardness into the cradle of her hips for emphasis.
It was all she could do not to moan, especially when he moved to kiss her other cheek, then her chin, purposefully avoiding where she wanted his mouth most.
"Repeat after me, Teresa," he said, his words whispering over her skin. "I…"
"I," she said tremulously.
"Love…" and he kissed the tip of her nose.
"L-Love." Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes, and Jane kissed each one closed.
Her hands went up to his face, and she opened her eyes, allowing the tears to fall as she looked up at him.
"You," she said, her heart in her eyes, and he smiled before claiming her lips at last.
Later, Lisbon lay naked at his side beneath the covers, her hand resting on his firm stomach, while his slid lazily up and down her softly curved back. Then, much to her surprise, he quoted Shakespeare:
"'Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?'"*
She smiled mischievously, nestling more closely to him. "Your external part isn't always soft…"
He chuckled, kissing the top of her head. "Naughty Lisbon rears her lovely head."
"I'm wondering, however, whether you will truly be able to give up the glamour and the fame of the stage. Won't you miss all that feminine adulation, the yachts, the cars…?"
"No, yours is the only feminine adulation I need. But ask me again a year from now about the other things, when I've depleted my savings."
"You'll become oddly comforted by Ramen noodles and cold pizza."
"I somehow doubt that. And yet, I'm looking forward to finding out. I-"
But his thought was interrupted by the ringing of Lisbon's cell phone. She rolled to the side to pick it up from the bedside table.
"It's Cho," she said, and pressed a button before speaking into the phone. "Lisbon." A few minutes later, she disconnected with a sigh. "We're up," she said, quickly kissing his cheek and pulling back the covers. "A murder in Ukiah."
"You're kidding me." Lisbon turned on the lamp and Jane blinked in annoyance against the sudden harsh brightness. And then Jane's phone rang.
"That will be Cho," she predicted with a grin.
"What?" He lifted up his phone and answered it. She was right, of course.
"I'll be there," he told the agent on the phone. He hung up and turned to Lisbon, admiring the view as she hastily pulled on her undergarments.
"This is ridiculous. Can't murderers do their business at a more civilized hour?"
She laughed heartily, throwing him his pants.
"Welcome to the CBI, my love."
Lisbon felt almost guilty to be so happy about going to a crime scene. She'd be working with the man she loved, doing the job she loved. She knew she hadn't completely tamed the former psychic, but then again, every girl needs her man to be at least a little bit naughty, from time to time.
A/N: Thanks for reading this fic! I do appreciate all your kind words of support. I'm tentatively working on my next story, an extreme AU set in the world of Jane Austen, and I might have a little help from a familiar friend…Please be sure you're following me so you know when I post the first chapter!
*This quote comes from Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," of course.