A/N: Well, my Twitter friends encouraged me to expand the case into Jane's attacker, so blame them if this story seems to meander a little while longer :). The reviews/favorites/follows are all very flattering, especially those who have gone back to read some of my old fics. Thank you!
Now, on to…
Lisbon's cell phone rang just as she was leaving the office. Another Friday with no plans but the laundry and moo-shoo chicken, and she almost hoped it would be a new case to give her something more exciting to look forward to. But no, it was only…Patrick Jane? She looked at the caller ID and her heart leapt. She let it ring a couple of times, her mind racing, trying to decide whether she should answer. She'd stopped herself several times from calling him over the last three months, if only to give the scoundrel a piece of her mind. But now she realized that Jane was right; if he was going to break her heart, better to have done it quickly and early rather than letting her get more invested in the bastard and make the inevitable dumping a hundred times worse.
So she supposed she should be grateful, right? She looked at the phone as it continued to ring. He was certainly persistent. One more ring and it would go to her voicemail. Against all her better judgment, she picked up the phone.
"What the hell do you want, Jane?" she said by way of greeting.
All she could hear was some heavy breathing and the distant sound of traffic.
Great. He'd accidentally dialed her. Given the sounds he was making, she wouldn't put it past him to be in the throes of…whatever.
"Hang up the phone, Jane. I don't know what—or who—you're into right now, but I'm no longer interested in being a part of your sex life."
Then she heard it-a weak call of her name: "Lisbon…"
She froze. Her job had made her highly attuned to interpreting sounds of distress, and something about the way he said her name, combined with the ragged breathing that continued in her ear, had her heart pounding for an entirely different reason. Something was wrong. She could feel it.
"Jane!" she called again.
He didn't reply, and she heard what sounded like the clatter of his phone being dropped to…pavement? And then the line went dead. She called him back but it went to voice mail. She hesitated. Was she overreacting? Was this all just a mistake? But no, he'd said her name and he seemed in great distress or…pain.
Dammit, Jane. Why have you suddenly decided to pull me back into your web?
But Lisbon was an officer of the law, and she'd learned never to ignore her instincts, plus she'd taken an oath. If someone needed help—even if it was a lying, asshole conman-well she was morally obligated to help him. She called Van Pelt, hoping she hadn't gotten all the way home yet. She needed her help to try to trace Jane's cell phone.
It wasn't twenty minutes later when Lisbon received a call from Jane again. Van Pelt had just arrived back at HQ and Lisbon was in the midst of filling her in when the fake psychic's call came through again.
"Jane?" she answered after the first ring.
"Uh, no ma'am. This is Monterrey Bay Police Department. You were the last call dialed on Mr. Jane's cell phone. What is your relationship to Mr. Jane?"
"I'm uh—" How the hell did she answer that question. "I'm a former…colleague. I'm Agent Teresa Lisbon with the CBI. What's happened to Jane?"
"Oh. Well, that's weird. The casino here says Mr. Jane does a psychic show. They made no mention of the CBI."
"He sometimes consults with law enforcement," she said impatiently. "Where's Jane, Officer-?"
"Krenshaw, ma'am. Hmmm. You guys use psychics, do ya?" He sounded faintly disapproving. "Well, I hate to have to tell you this, but Mr. Jane was severely beaten in the parking lot of the Monterrey Casino. A worker found him in the alley when he was taking out the trash. Jane's en route to the local hospital with what could be some internal injuries. Someone kicked the hell out of him, Agent Lisbon. Any idea who might have had it in for him?"
Lisbon shook her head to herself. She imagined there was a long line of possibilities who'd want to do him bodily harm, including herself.
"It could have been anyone. He offends a lot of people. A jealous husband maybe? Disgruntled client? A woman scorned?"
"Ladies man, eh?"
Lisbon chafed at the characterization, given her own roll in that capacity.
"So it would seem."
"You know of any next of kin? They might need someone at the hospital to do some paperwork, make some decisions for his care, maybe."
Lisbon remembered seeing his employment forms when she'd reported his billable hours to Payroll.
"He didn't list any emergency contacts on his records here." She sighed. "Please let the hospital know I'll be there in a few hours. What hospital was that?"
"Great. Thanks, Officer Krenshaw."
"No, problem, Agent. Have a good night."
She hung up and looked at Van Pelt. "Did you get that?"
"Jane's hurt? What happened?"
Lisbon explained and Van Pelt blanched in horror. "You want me to come with you? Poor man. No family to call?"
"Not that I know of. No, go on home. No sense both our weekends being ruined."
"If you're sure, Boss."
"No, I got this. I was the last person he called; I feel like I should at least make sure he's all right."
Van Pelt didn't hide her sympathetic look. Everyone on the team suspected there'd been something between her and the former consultant, and that it hadn't ended well. "Okay, but call me if you need anything."
"Thanks, Grace. And I appreciate your coming back in to help."
Lisbon packed a bag for a few nights away and drove her Mustang the three and a half hours to Monterrey. The entire trip, she kept reliving every moment of her time with Jane, both professional and personal. She kept dwelling on the personal, however, on the passionate night they'd spent and the cold way he'd left her. How could he have done that to her? The most logical answer she kept coming to was that she hadn't measured up to his expectations and he had gotten out while he could. But there was another answer, a reason behind his abrupt departure that had occurred to her over the last three months, but she'd pushed it aside until now. Until he'd decided to call her, that is.
Perhaps their night together had exceeded his expectations. Maybe he'd been frightened by the actual real emotions he had experienced in her arms. She knew it had been that way for her. She'd never felt so connected to anyone before, either in bed or out. A vision flashed in her mind of his eyes meeting hers as their bodies had joined together. It was difficult to fake emotion at a time like that, and the way he'd looked at her—so tenderly, so seemingly enraptured—she had believed him. The fact that he'd made love to her all night was even more evidence of this. And it hadn't felt like it had been just sex, either. He had been so attentive to her needs, so affectionate. There had been laughter and cuddling and pillow talk-all the things any woman would want from a new lover.
But when he'd left her the next morning, all of these beliefs she'd had about that night had been unceremoniously thrown away and she'd immediately latched on to the idea that he hadn't thought her worth any more of his time. She hadn't liked feeling sorry for herself, so she'd reverted to anger and suppression of her original gut feelings. No matter whether he had been frightened or disappointed, he had left her like he likely had all the other women he'd slept with, and she was still majorly pissed off at him for that. But he had called her when he was most in need, and that had changed her perspective once more. He could have called 911. Why would he still even have her number?
She would come to his aid, but she didn't have to like it. Didn't have to like him either.
At least, that's what she told herself.
Her CBI badge was more than enough to gain access to Jane's room, even though it was past visiting hours and she wasn't a relative. She walked into the private hospital room to see his blond curls resting on the pillow, his face nearly as pale as the stark white sheets. She stood looking with a detective's eye on the face she had found herself missing more and more as each empty week had passed. There was a bandage on his temple, and a few on his hands. Defensive wounds, she thought. Already, the unbandaged areas of his arms were black and blue. He didn't look as bad as she'd feared, but the officer had said he might have had internal injuries.
She thought he was asleep, but suddenly his eyes opened, and she was caught once more in their vaguely hypnotic gaze.
He smiled sleepily. "Teresa. You came."
"Only because Monterrey PD called me," she said stiffly.
"You're mad at me. I guess that's my fault."
She'd vowed she wasn't going to get into this with him, not so quickly anyway. But as usual, the man seemed to strip away all her common sense.
"Gee, you think?" she said, her words clipped with anger.
His grin turned sheepish. "Sorry I didn't call sooner—"
She held up a hand."Shut up, Jane. Just shut up. I'm here to see if you are all right, and to see if I can help the local police figure out who might have done this to you, nothing more. Let's just leave everything else in the past, okay?"
"All business now, eh? That's not quite how we left things."
"We? As I recall you were the one doing the—no! I'm not doing this. What do you remember about your attacker?"
"Well, as I told Officer Krenshaw when I came to, I was walking to my car through the alley behind the casino and someone jumped me. I guess it wasn't a mugging because I still have my wallet, phone, and car keys."
"Did you get a look at the guy?"
"No. But he smelled of expensive cologne and new leather. And I'm pretty sure he was wearing steel-toed boots." He cringed for emphasis.
"Did he say anything?"
"Yeah. He said, and I quote: That'll teach you to put your nose where it doesn't belong."
She raised an eyebrow.
"I know what you're thinking," he said. "It doesn't sound like a jealous lover to me either."
She had to smirk. "Yeah, I'm sure you've been down that particular road before."
He smiled in self-deprecation, shrugged, then grimaced at the movement. There was no arguing with that. Lisbon felt a perverse satisfaction at his pain.
"I'm thinking it must have something to do with one of the cases I've worked on with the CBI."
"Well, I'll get the team on it, maybe get a cop to guard your door."
"Meh, don't go to the trouble. If they'd wanted to shut me up permanently, they'd have killed me." He watched her expression in amusement. "Disappointed?"
Jane's eyes twinkled at her. "It would have saved you the trouble, right?"
She was trying to stay mad at him, but his charm was his greatest weapon, and she bit her lip to stop herself from smiling. She steered the conversation quickly back to a less dangerous topic.
"So, what kind of damage are we talking here? Did they have to do surgery?"
"Nah. A few broken ribs, some bruising. You'll be pleased to know it hurts like hell. I'm wrapped up like a mummy under here. You want to see?" He began to lift the sheet, and she had wondered at his lack of a hospital gown. The thought of him naked beneath the covers did crazy things to her stomach.
"No, I believe you. You should just stay still and try to rest. I'm going back to the scene of the crime and see if there's anything the cops might have missed." And because she was such a compassionate person, she asked: "Can I get you anything?"
Jane eyed her a moment, noting the flush on her cheeks. She'd missed him too, he realized, though she was also incredibly furious with him. For the first time in a long time, he felt genuinely apologetic.
"My suitcase is in my car. I assume it's still at the casino. While you're there, if you wouldn't mind…?"
"No, that's why I asked."
"Thanks. I think they put my keys and things in the bedside drawer." He nodded toward the small metal nightstand. She would have to walk much closer to him to retrieve them, and Jane found himself anxious for her nearness. She was wearing her usual uniform of a tasteful pantsuit, this time gray with a black ruffled blouse beneath. Her golden crucifix rested in the shadowed V above her breasts, and as she moved tentatively closer, he caught a whiff of her scent. He could have sworn she smelled of sun-warmed peaches, but it was probably just an effect of the pain meds.
She opened the drawer and found his key ring, which contained exactly three keys—one to his car, one to his house, one to his post office box in Malibu. She held up the leather fob. She'd expected a key with the usual Porsche emblem, but in its place was a rather large, unfamiliar black key.
"Not driving the Porsche?" she asked, curious in spite of herself. She had a few nice memories of that car, despite his reckless driving.
"I wrecked it. And yes, I was speeding through a red light, so there's no need to resume your past commentary on my driving."
She raised an eyebrow. "What's this to, then? The key's so big, it looks like it must wind something up."
"Very amusing, Agent Lisbon. You'll find it fits the lock of a 1972 Citroen DS 20. Eggshell blue."
"That's quite a step down," she commented.
"Hey, that car's a classic. Besides," he said softly. "I've been making a few changes lately."
"Really?" she said, trying to sound neutral.
Go Teresa, she told herself. Just leave right now. You don't care about his personal life anymore.
But her traitorous body stayed where it was, right within arm's reach of this self-centered, womanizing jerk.
He reached out for her with one fingertip, touching the soft back of the hand that held his keys.
"Teresa, I'm sorry for hurting you. I can see that I did, so don't try to deny it. I've never been any good at relationships. Well, except for one, and I've accepted there's no hope of ever finding someone like that again."
Lisbon's face had softened at his sincerity, but hardened again at his last statement. No hope. Well, that about summed it up, didn't it?
"I accept your apology, so you don't have to feel any of that awkward, unfamiliar guilt anymore. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go try to find out who beat me to the punch and put you in the hospital."
She moved to leave, but he grabbed her hand. She looked down at where they touched, then back to his eyes, blue-green and earnest.
"That didn't come out quite the way I'd intended."
"Why? You were being honest, for once. Don't sweat it, Jane. I haven't been sitting by the phone crying for the last three months, so any belated worry you might have for me is totally misplaced. You were but a blip on my radar, a fly in my chardonnay. You, Mr. Jane, are so last summer. Now let me go so I can do my job and we can quit meeting like this."
She pulled away from his grip, feeling a flash of guilt herself when he grimaced in pain from the strain on his injured hand. She no longer felt satisfaction from it, just a dull emptiness.
"Go to sleep, Jane. I'll be back later with your stuff."
But she ignored his call and practically fled the room, her high-heeled boots clicking down the corridor.
"There," said Lisbon to the security officer inside the Monterrey Casino. "That's him."
They were looking at the soundless surveillance video taken in the alley earlier that night. She watched as Jane exited the building, walking toward the parking lot just as he'd said. Suddenly, from behind a large metal trash bin, stepped a man in a leather trench coat, tailored slacks, and cowboy boots. His hair was dark and he never faced the camera. He attacked Jane, throwing him to the ground before proceeding to kick the crap out of him. Lisbon had to look away as the kicks became particularly vicious, especially the one about the head.
"Mother of God," she muttered.
The man bent over Jane as if to tell him something, then, with one last kick, he lifted his leather collar higher around his neck and kept walking toward the parking lot and out of view of the camera. Other parking lot cameras captured no other glimpse of the man. It was like he'd disappeared. Back in the alley, she saw Jane reach into his trouser pocket for his phone, press two buttons, then pass out.
"That's all we've got, ma'am," said the security man. "The police have already viewed this footage and they didn't pick out anything different than what you've seen."
"How about interior shots? Maybe this guy had been in the casino earlier, or afterwards."
"The police took those for closer analysis, but we looked through them and initially found nothing."
Lisbon sighed. "Well, thank you for your time." She gave him her card. "Please call me if you can think of anything else."
The man nodded and Lisbon left the small room and its bank of security monitors.
She decided to retrace Jane's steps from that evening, going first to the theatre where he'd had his show, then backstage and to his dressing room. The local police had long gone, and she pushed open the door marked Private.
She had learned Jane had another show scheduled for the next night, so he had left some of his things there. There was a sterling comb and brush set, with a few familiar golden hairs embedded in the brush, along with a few stage cosmetics—powder and concealer. Not that he really needed those things, she mused. He was already perfect without them.
Shut up, Teresa. You're thinking like a groupie.
He'd hung up a suit, tie and shirt on the garment rack, the labels all proclaiming Georgio Armani had made them. She imagined him sitting at the mirrored vanity, powdering his nose, straightening his tie. She fingered the silver silk.
There seemed to be no clue here as to who might have done this to him. As she was leaving though, she caught a whiff of fresh flowers and looked around, trying to locate the scent. Behind the folding changing screen was a small table and a vase that held two dozen red roses. There was a card with them, and Lisbon took it from its holder and read:
Thank you for the good advice, Patrick.
I will tell him today.
P.S. Break a leg!
Lisbon reread the card a few times, then, acting on instinct, pocketed it and left the dressing room. Out in the alley, she pulled out the flashlight she'd brought, shining it on the bloodstained area of the pavement. She looked up and down the narrow lane, then found the place where Jane's attacker had hidden. She was hoping to find cigarette butts or some other evidence, but aside from the malodorous trash bin, there was nothing.
"Dammit," she said aloud. With a frustrated shake of her head, she walked on to the parking lot to find Jane's car.
Back at the hospital, Lisbon entered Jane's room once more to find him wide awake, watching some animal documentary on the wall-mounted television. He smiled as she entered with his small suitcase, which she set on a nearby chair.
"Thank you," he told her with a smile.
She nodded, then reached into her pocket and pulled out the card from the flowers.
"What can you tell me about this?" she asked.
He flipped off the TV with the remote control and took the card from her hand. Their fingertips touched, and both of them tried to ignore the jolt that slammed into them.
"Aww," he said nostalgically. "Sadie."
"What advice did you give her?" She hoped she'd successfully masked her twinge of jealousy.
"We had a private session when I arrived in Monterrey this morning. She asked me some investment advice, to tell her if the market would pay off for her. I predicted…yes…"
Lisbon smirked. "So you're also an investment analyst."
He grinned. "Of sorts." His voice took on the spiritual tone he used during his act. "I look into the alignment of the stars, open the door to the future and peer inside…"
"And make a good guess," she concluded.
"Yep, pretty much. Oh, I read the stock reports too, and have a friend who is a real analyst. But yeah, I just give them an educated guess."
"Which they could have arrived at for free using the internet."
"I'm not forcing them to pay me, Teresa."
"Whatever. Anyway, what exactly did you tell her? And who is this man she was going to tell the good news?"
"I told her to invest her inheritance on an up and coming internet site, called Facebook."
She raised an eyebrow. "Isn't that kind of like MySpace?"
"Yeah, but the potential for this new one is amazing."
"Sort of a risky investment, wouldn't you say?"
"It's not my money. But anyway, she was going to tell her husband this afternoon, after the fact. She was afraid to tell him, but then, it was her money."
"That sounds like motive to beat the hell out of you."
"I think I'll go pay her a visit. You have her address, or do I need to run her name through the local PD?"
"Yes, but I don't want you going there alone," he told her seriously.
"Jane, I'm a CBI agent; I can take care of myself. Tell me the address." He complied reluctantly, and she plugged the information into her cell phone.
"Well, call some other cops for back up," he cautioned. "Isn't that what they always say in the movies?"
"Your concern is touching, but I'll be fine."
"Would you mind helping me up so I can use the bathroom?" he asked suddenly.
"I can get a nurse," she hedged, remembering what state he might be in beneath the covers.
Jane grinned. "I'm not naked under here. I was just kidding earlier. Please, don't bother the nurses. The one assigned to my room is really mean, and totally immune to my charms."
"I can't imagine that."
"Please?" and out came the puppy dog eyes.
She sighed in defeat. "Fine." She tentatively approached the bed, standing nearby as he pulled back the sheet and thin blanket. He gave a pain-filled grunt as he swung his legs over the side of the bed, and Lisbon could see now how his lower torso was wrapped tightly and that he was in fact wearing underwear. She blushed and looked away, avoiding his wicked smile. When his feet hit the floor, she stepped forward so he could wrap a bandaged arm around her waist. She stiffened at his touch, but allowed him to lean on her as they walked haltingly to the bathroom.
"Thank you," he said breathlessly as he held onto the doorframe for support.
"I'll just wait out here to help you back if you need it."
"I might be a while," he told her, trying to infuse as much embarrassment into his reply as he could muster. "But would you mind going to the lobby and getting me some tea out of the dispenser? Then I'd appreciate it if you could find some milk from somewhere."
She looked at him a moment, trying not to be surprised at his nerve. "I'm trying to conduct an investigation here, Jane. I really don't have time to play nursemaid to you, especially when you have a hospital just full of them."
"Please? You've seen me make tea. You know how I like it. Come on. It'll help me sleep…"
"Oh, all right. But it's already late, and I want to talk to this Sadie person as quickly as possible. I'll be back in a minute."
When she left, Jane sprang into action. Sure, he was in pain, but he'd hammed it up considerably, partly to feel her body close to his again, but mostly to steal her Mustang keys from her pocket. He went to his suitcase, pulling out a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a heather grey hooded sweatshirt. Bending to put on his sneakers was much more difficult than he would have liked, and by the time he stood up, perspiration was dripping from his temples. He wiped his face with a towel, then grabbed a notebook and pen from his bag.
She'd be pissed off when she found out his real motives, but by then, there would be nothing she could do about it. He smiled at the thought of her angry expression to come, then dashed off a quick note.
Lisbon arrived back at Jane's room once more, having given up the wild goose chase in search of milk this late at night in a hospital, when all foodservices were closed down. His Highness would just have to settle for powdered creamer or drink it black.
The bathroom door was still closed, and this time she heard the sound of the shower running. He'd left a note for her on his bed.
I'll get the nurse to help me after my shower, unless you want to stay for the show. I'll see you tomorrow, I hope.
She shook her head, set down the Styrofoam cup of tea by his bed, and left, partly disappointed that she hadn't gotten to say goodbye, and hating herself for even having such a thought. Also, the thought of him nude in the shower was too much of a temptation in itself, so she picked up the pace to the elevator, anxious to have something else to focus on, like an assault suspect.
As she walked out into the chilly coastal evening, she automatically fished into her pocket for her keys. She couldn't find them anywhere. With an annoyed sigh, she wondered if she'd left them in the car in her hurry to see Jane. A few steps away, she saw that someone was sitting in the passenger side of her Mustang. Her Spice Girls CD was blasting from her speakers, making the car fairly vibrate.
She reached inside her jacket for her Gloch, which was securely resting in her shoulder holster. She stopped by the window and saw a familiar mop of curls in the dim light of a security lamp and the lighted dashboard of her car.
She banged on the window with her gun, satisfied to see him jump. Seeing it was her, he grinned and rolled down the window.
"Hey, Lisbon, what took you so long?" he yelled over the stereo.
"You bastard. You lifted my keys, didn't you?"
"How else is one to deal with an extremely stubborn woman?"
"What the hell are you doing in my car?" she sputtered angrily. Jane merely smiled in appreciation of her flashing eyes and set jaw.
"I'm here for backup, of course. Now get in, Agent Lisbon. Time's awasting."
A/N: I hope you like this turn of events. I'm so excited for the show tonight! I'm sure to be expired to right a tag. Hope to see you back for that. Thanks for reading, and for your kindness should you review.