A/N: It has been a long time since I've written a oneshot. This little piece was born of several things, my anticipation of Season 5 starting here in Aus in 2 days, and my own general frustration at my lack of inspiration when it comes to writing these days. I'm in a bit of a slump. It doesn't bring me the joy that it used to, and I'm hoping to get it back.
Please forgive me if anything I've written doesn't match up with the premiere. I'm really trying not to spoil myself.
Disclaimer: Nope. Not mine.
The sun goes down over Sacramento, marking the end of another day. The bullpen goes quiet as people leave, discussing plans for the weekend.
Some have families to go home to, others just an empty house.
I have neither.
All I have is a bare motel room, a few three-piece suits and a car.
Everything else in my life is here. My couch, my attic, my job, my friends. I am grateful for all of them, and I know that I deserve none.
I am a murderer. I've shot two men. I've indirectly caused the death of another. I let my family take the fall for my arrogance and greed, but still, that isn't enough for me. Everything I touch turns to crap; I am bad luck, diseased.
They've hung people in other countries for less than what I've done. They ought to lock me up and throw away the key. But I'm still walking free, not because I'm innocent but because I said the right words to a jury, because I blackmailed the right powerplayers, because I twisted the truth the right way. I know how to manipulate and deceive, to trick, to trap, to play on emotions. I can bend people to my will; use their weaknesses as my weapons. As a result, in the eyes of the law, I am innocent of everything I have ever been charged with, even though I know there is blood on my hands.
God bless America.
I hear shoes clicking on the tile, and smile in spite of myself. Even her footsteps sound brisk and irritable.
Lisbon emerges from her office, briefcase in hand, flicking the light off as she goes.
She's tired. She's hungry. She's frustrated because she's been on the phone with a defense lawyer all afternoon. Her back is killing her. She's worried because Van Pelt didn't seem herself today, and she could be backsliding after the progress she made concerning O'Laughlin. She's hanging out for another cup of coffee. She's annoyed because Tommy promised he'd call today and didn't.
She doesn't have to tell me in words how she's feeling right now. It's written all over her face. There's not a deceitful bone in her body. She never pretends to be something she isn't, to feel things that she doesn't.
She's afraid. She's constantly afraid. Ever since our latest Red John plan failed. She's afraid for herself, for the team, for the CBI, but she's mostly afraid for me. I can see it in her eyes when she looks at me sometimes, hear it in her voice when I take off somewhere without telling her where I'm going. If I were a better man, I'd reassure her, tell her I'm not going anywhere, I'm not about to do anything stupid, she can stop worrying. But I'm not.
She's approaching me now, craning her neck, trying to figure out whether I'm sleeping or not. She's always telling me I need to get more rest, have I tried this pill or that pill, do I want to talk about it, is there anything she can do? I've told her many times that it's something she can't fix, but she keeps ignoring me. She's like a dog with a bone when she thinks she's right about something. Stubborn.
Her footsteps quicken, she's evidently decided I'm awake, and within moments she's standing next to the couch, peering down at me with an exasperated frown.
"You keep this up and I'm going to start charging you rent."
"I like it here."
I know she understands, because she's almost as bad as I am. She hasn't stooped to spending the night here yet, but she often leaves well after everyone else and arrives well before in the mornings.
"It's comfortable, it's in a prime spot, and right now, I must say the view is rather spectacular."
She rolls her eyes at the compliment, because this is what we do. Lighthearted banter, sometimes bordering on the flirtatious, witty jibes and bickering. It's a practiced code of conduct that has served us well over the years. A clearly defined line that nobody steps over, and ensures that our friendship remains at least one thing in our lives that remains constant.
Our friendship is still there, but something's changed since Vegas. I came back so suddenly, and we were so occupied with Lorelai drama that we've never properly talked about what happened in the months I was gone. I've had second hand accounts from various people at the office but I've yet to hear it from her. I'm not sure I ever will. The thing about Lisbon is, she's a bottler. If she's angry I'll hear about it in no uncertain terms, but if she's sad, or in pain, she'd rather hold it in until she self-destructs then share.
Fair enough, really, since most of the time it's my fault.
"If you're not going home, promise me you'll sleep at least," she says.
"I can't guarantee it."
"Just promise me you'll try."
I feel a smile cross my face. Through Lorelei and Red John and the resulting crap storm that came down on all our heads, she still finds the time and inclination to fret about my sleep patterns, as though it's just another day at the office. And she's not just asking to be polite, or because she feels she has to, I know she's asking because she still cares.
Lying is second nature to me now. I was lying practically before I could talk. I lied for a living. Lying to her is different. I have lied to her for many different reasons; to make her laugh, to deceive her, to protect her.
"Want me to fix you a cup of tea before I go?" she asks, with a little half-smile as though she hopes this will cheer me up, even though she knows full well it won't.
That's the biggest lie of all. I'm not OK. I haven't been OK in years, and I can't be OK until Red John is in the ground. I can't let my guard down for a second, or something terrible will happen.
She shrugs, and I watch those slender shoulders rise and fall. "Suit yourself," she says. "See you tomorrow."
Before she leaves, she reaches out and straightens the corner of the blanket I threw over myself. The tips of her fingers brush against my arm once or twice and I enjoy the pleasant sensation of her touch. We have barely touched at all since the truth about my time with Lorelei was revealed. Perhaps she thinks I am now somehow tainted by my association with Red John's girl. Perhaps she's right.
"Stop fussing," I tell her.
"Who else is going to do it?" she asks. I know she's not just talking about a crooked blanket. She wonders who else would devote years of their life to someone like me, who lets them down at every turn. She wonders if there is something wrong with her, that she sticks by me, when most reasonable people would have cut their losses and left by now.
Funny that I will thank her about small things like this, but the big things that she does every day, I let pass without a word. She is my strength, my conscience, my support system, and my guide. She is my protector, my confidante, and my anchor to reality when the world is crashing down around me. Her friendship is the most precious thing I have.
Of course, when someone devotes themselves to you so assiduously for such a long time, it is natural to care for them too in return. When this is all over, all I want is for her to be safe and happy. I don't care what happens to me as long as Red John is dead, and she's all right. She still believes there's a way to arrange things so that we both come out on top. She still maintains that we're going to take Red John into custody in the end, that he'll go through the system and end up in jail.
One of us is going to be disappointed.
"I should go."
I can tell there's something on her mind. The way she's lingering over the blanket, not meeting my eyes.
"Yes. Get home at a decent hour for once. Eat a good meal."
She'd be justified in pointing out the hypocrisy of this statement, but she doesn't. In fact, I'm not sure she even heard me, as she's still so lost in thought.
If the situation were different, I'd make her mine. I'd hold her for hours, rather than seconds, make love to her instead of making excuses.
But she is marked for death. Red John has made it clear that she will be a casualty one day, if he has his way. It's my fault that things have turned out this way. I allowed her to get too close, I spent too much time with her, and with every day I threw up another red flag to my nemesis, that yes, if he wants to hit me where it hurts he need look no further than her. I wonder if she can feel the crosshairs trained on her. I wonder if she knows that it's a matter of when, not if, he will strike at her.
He will take her. He will torture her. He will use her as bait to lure me into his twisted little game. She probably won't live to see how it ends. And I know now that I can't protect her. The only protection she had was my supposed indifference, and it's all been shot to hell. He knows now.
It's all my fault. If only I'd been in better control. If only I'd kept her at arm's length right from the start like I always planned. Instead, I accepted her support and her friendship. I crave her attention, and in return I put her on a serial killer's hit list.
"Goodnight, Jane," she says again, abandoning the blanket, and straightening up.
She pauses, and turns her eyes back to mine.
"I missed this when I was gone. Talking to you." It's the first formal acknowledgement I have made of my absence. When I returned, I just slotted back into my life and my job as if I'd never left. Everything was the same, except it wasn't.
She looks surprised. She obviously thought we were going to go on avoiding this subject forever.
"So did I. Every day."
I hear the truth, and the pain, behind each word. I know it's but a small taste of the misery I put her through.
"It didn't have to be that way," she continues. She is right. She tried so often to initiate contact, and I just kept on putting up walls. It made it easier. For me, at least.
She shrugs again, and I understand why. To her, those two words are perfunctory at best, an automatic reaction, rather than an honest apology. Still, I think it's necessary to say them. I couldn't let her leave here without letting her know I regret the pain I caused her. From now on, any time she leaves my sight, I may never see her again.
"You're back now," she says, casual as you please. "Business as usual."
"Naturally. We'll clean up California, one lying scumbag at a time."
She smiles a little at that. "Takes one to know one." She bends to pick up her briefcase again. "Goodnight."
I watch her as she walks to the elevator and hope with all my heart that today isn't the day he takes her. Just so I can have one more day to tease her, to memorize her smile, to lie on her couch and just feel her presence.
She is my everything. She's the light to my darkness.
The thing about pathological liars like me, is that we can never stop lying. It's ingrained. Even now, I still lie to her. I lie by omission. I didn't miss this while I was gone. I missed her. I need her.
I love her.
And she'll never know.
A/N: I know my Jane-voice is a little rusty, but I hope you enjoyed this, and it wasn't too depressing or OOC. Jisbon forever!
P.S Anyone who hasn't checked out Donnamour1969's fic 'The Taming of The Psychic' you are missing out! Do yourself a favour and go read it. You'll be glad you did.