Suspended

xxx

They were the only two people in the elevator. And they weren't speaking.

The silence between them wasn't quite a comfortable one. Close, but not quite.

Jane knew it was his fault. They were coming up from the basement, from meeting Lorelei. Lorelei, who'd just dropped her little bombshell and was obviously enjoying its effects. Lisbon obviously had a lot on her mind. And he wasn't sure he wanted to know what she was thinking. He also knew she wasn't going to make the move to end the growing silence. Jane could almost feel it now, starting to claw at his throat. Lisbon may have helped him, may have stood (or sat) by him over the past twenty-four hours, but he was well aware that it was still his turn to make the effort.

He just wasn't sure what effort to make, set.

He heard Lisbon sigh, softly, very softly. Almost everything she'd been doing lately felt soft, muted. Except for yelling in the church.

I hate you Jane. Oh, I hate you.

He knew it wasn't true. If it had been, he wouldn't be here beside her. But even if it wasn't true most of the time, he was sure there'd been days.

He glanced over at her, noticing with a frown that she appeared to be leaning against the wall of the elevator, like she needed it to hold her upright. She looked like she was lost in her head, and whatever was holding her wasn't pleasant.

Jane opened his mouth to say something (anything) to pull her out of herself when the uneasy silence was broken by a loud metallic crunch and the elevator slowed to a stop.

Lisbon let her head fall back against the elevator wall with a despairing thunk. Then he watched her screw her eyes shut and groan, like she was in almost physical pain. But before he could do anything, she'd straightened up and stepped across the small space to call security and tell them what had happened.

She seemed resigned to their answer.

Half an hour. Approximately.

Jane wondered what time it was now. He resisted the urge to check her watch.

Helplessly, he watched her slide down the side of the wall until she hit the ground, obviously trying to make the best of their current predicament, obviously trying to get comfortable (or as comfortable as possible in a small metal box).

That was when inspiration struck. Jane shrugged out of his jacket and held it out to her.

Lisbon raised her eyebrows. "Thanks," she said. "But I'm not cold."

Jane shook his head. "To sit on," he told her. "If you want. That floor can't be very comfortable."

Lisbon stared at him, surprised. Jane resisted the urge to fidget. After a minute she shook her head. "I'm good. Thanks though."

Jane shrugged. He sat down across from her, his legs stretched out next to hers. He placed his jacket in his lap. If she wouldn't use it, he certainly wasn't going to. Besides, he supposed the floor wasn't actually that bad.

Lisbon was leaning her head against the wall again. "This day..." she groaned. "I can't believe I'm stuck in an elevator." She left the With you unsaid, but Jane heard it anyway.

He tried to smile. "Oh come on, Lisbon, it could be worse."

This time her sigh was far closer to a gust than a whispered breath of air. "It could," she admitted. "It could always be worse."

Jane frowned. She wasn't usually this pessimistic. But then, what did he know about her life? He hadn't seen her in six months. He'd effectively abandoned her. "Cheer up Lisbon. Security said it'd only be half an hour. That's not so bad."

Lisbon looked like she was trying to summon up the energy for a glare, but couldn't quite manage it. Her expression came out resigned instead. "Forgive me if I'm not thrilled at the idea of being stuck in an elevator for half an hour. That's no one's idea of a good time."

Jane frowned. And not only because of her demeanour.

Because it was his idea of a good time.

Okay, ot really the being stuck in an elevator part, or not that on its own. But, well, he was stuck with her.

He was stuck in a six foot by four foot box with Teresa Lisbon. And that thought made him happier than he'd been in months.

Even just being able to see her, really look at her, be in her company. It was better than a lot of the alternatives. It was better than the last six months.

He'd missed her so much.

And now he had thirty minutes of uninterrupted time.

He wondered what to do with it. There were so many things he wanted to ask her, to know.

Lisbon beat him to the punch. "So, Lorelei, huh?" she asked. "When were you planning on telling me about that?"

Jane winced. "Now. I was planning on telling you now, or when we got back to your office. Wasn't really planning on this little delay in the elevator."

"Right," she scoffed.

"I was going to tell you," Jane insisted.

She almost smirked. "So you said."

Jane didn't like the sound of that. "Lisbon..."

"Whatever," she muttered, glancing away. "I don't care."

But she did, and he knew it. And he didn't know what to say, to convince her that this time he had planned on telling her. This time he was going to keep her in the loop. That it wouldn't be like last time (he hoped ever again).

"Just tell me this," she said. Then she paused, second-guessing herself.

But Jaen answered anyway; he knew her question. "No. I didn't know she was working for Red John when I slept with her, but I was aware that it was a strong possibility."

"Okay," Lisbon said quietly.

Jane sighed. When Lorelei had dropped by his hotel room unexpectedly, well, it had been nice to have someone around for once. Someone who had wanted to spend time with him. It had been easy to pretend, just for a little while, that it might have been real. But that was over now.

"She seems to like you," Lisbon told him.

Jane shook his head. He wasn't sure that Lorelei liked anyone. It was hard to have genuine feelings when you'd been completely brainwashed by a serial killer. "She's also a bit crazy," Jane reminded Lisbon.

Lisbon raised her eyebrows.

"It won't be a problem," Jane assured her.

Her smile was wry. "We'll see."

And all of a sudden he felt the need to justify his actions to her. The betrayal was positively oozing out of her pores in his direction. "I was lonely," he told her.

Suddenly she had no trouble meeting his eyes, her own hard and accusing, reminding him that he hadn't been the only one.

"I was trying to catch a killer," Jane tried again.

Lisbon let her eyes drift shut again, leaning back against the wall, looking like she was about to give up.

"I had a plan," he told her softly, desperately.

"Yeah?" she demanded derisively as she opened her eyes again. "And how'd that work out for you?"

And your plan, it's stupid. It's not even a plan.

"Not very well," he admitted.

Lisbon didn't seem to hear him. "Wainwright's dead. Red John's gone again. I almost got arrested, along with my entire team. You did get arrested, along with almost losing a finger... I am so sick of your plans. You go around, pulling all this crap, you don't care how it affects anyone else, you just, you do it anyway."

"I'm sorry," he muttered, pain flashing through him.

"Yeah, well, I'm not," Lisbon told him, not looking at him.

"I didn't think you were," Jane told her. He knew she meant every word.

"Do you even know what you're doing?" Lisbon demanded. "With Lorelei, I mean?"

Jane was pretty sure her questions about his decision-making ability extended to more than just Lorelei, but he didn't point out that out. "Of course I know what I'm doing, Lisbon." He was pretty sure at least.

His answer didn't seem to relieve his companion. "And what if you go too far again? Do you even know what too far is now?"

"You won't let me," he told her.

"I might," she shot back. "Teach you a lesson."

"You won't," he said softly. He knew it was true, even if he didn't deserve it to be.

"Hmph," she muttered, but he thought she looked pleased.

"How are you?" he asked.

"Stuck in an elevator," she snapped back.

"Apart from that," Jane replied suppressing a sudden urge to smile. There she was, his annoyed little Lisbon.

"Fine. I'm fine," she answered automatically.

She wasn't fine. She was exhausted. He knew better than to tell her that though; he wasn't sure what to say.

"Things won't just be like they were before," she told him.

"I know," Jane said softly. He was well aware what he'd done, what he'd half-destroyed.

"Are you even really back?" she asked him.

He paused. Was he? Well, that depended on one thing, "If you'll have me."

Lisbon caught his eyes and held them, obviously searching. "I wasn't the one who ran away," she said eventually.

"Thank you, Lisbon," he exhaled in relief. Maybe if he said it enough, she'd believe it.

She shrugged. "Team's still pissed as hell at you, though."

The team. Did that mean she was holding herself separate? Maybe. He hoped. "I know," he assured her.

"Okay," she replied.

Watching her closely, Jane couldn't help wondering when the last was that she'd smiled. Then he wondered what she'd do if he tried to give her a hug.

He decided he wasn't brave enough to find out.

Instead, he pulled a deck of cards from the pocket of his coat and started shuffling.

That caught Lisbon's attention, "Jane, what are you doing?"

"Dealing," he told her as started two piles.

She rolled her eyes. "Dealing for what game, exactly?"

He hadn't quite decided on that yet. "Go Fish?"

She gave a surprised burst of laughter. "Jane, I am not playing Go Fish with you on the floor of the CBI elevator."

Jane hid his smile carefully. "Why not?"

"I'm not six," Lisbon reminded him.

Jane kept dealing. "Okay, what about War then?"

"No," she said firmly.

"May I ask why not?" He let himself relax into the familiarity of their debate, hoping its rhythm would soothe her as well.

"Do you know how many interminable games of War I have played in my life?" Lisbon asked. "First with my brothers, then my nieces and nephews?"

Jane paused. He hadn't known that, but he should have guessed. Of course Lisbon had played cards with her family.

"Anyway, I hate that game now," Lisbon told him.

Jane slowly stopped dealing out the cards. "Well how do you propose we spend the next, however much longer we have here?" He really hoped she didn't plan on yelling at him the whole time, or sitting in silence.

"Twenty minutes," Lisbon murmured with a glance at her watch. "We've got about twenty minutes."

"And are you planning on using all that time to interrogate me?" he asked. He supposed he deserved it.

But she surprised him. "I guess that can wait until tomorrow. We can play poker."

Hope sparked somewhere near his stomach; Jane gathered up the cards. "We don't have any chips."

"So?" Lisbon asked. "We can each start with a hundred points, or pennies or whatever, and keep track mentally as we go. You telling me you can't keep track of two numbers, Jane?"

He held her eyes, pleased when he realized that not only wasn't she looking away, but she was almost smiling. "I can do that."

She nodded. "So deal."

God knows, I'm glad you're back. It's a huge relief.

Jane dealt, feigning an extreme interest in his own cards. "I really did miss you," he said softly.

After a moment, he felt her foot jostle his knee. "I know," she said softly. "I know."

Jane risked a glance up at her. Lisbon was staring very intently at her own cards. And she was biting her lip.

He smiled quickly. She almost looked happy.

"Jane?"

"Yes Lisbon?" he said, considering his hand.

"Give me your damn coat."

He chuckled, handing it to her gladly. He hoped it would make her more comfortable. It wasn't much, but it was a start.

He would figure out the rest.

After all, he still had nineteen minutes.

xxx

The end