A/N: Last night's episode was quite an emotional rollercoster, wasn't it? I'm guessing we are seeing the appearance of a darker Jane now, like Heller promised, and which was evident in his turning once again to belladonna. I thought I'd try my hand at some sort of a tag, hopefully keeping in spirit of the episode.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Even the title is from Friedrich Nietzsche's And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into you.
Jane's quiet, too quiet and it's the kind of quiet Lisbon always associates with Red John. Except she knows what he's thinking, or rather who he's thinking of. His hallucination of Charlotte Jane.
She figures this was logical; Jane's subconsciousness hides a lot of pain and guilt and shame and his family among all those things. She wonders what Charlotte was like. From what she could gather from Jane's interactions with the imaginary girl which she was privy to, Charlotte was probably like her father – funny, full of games and mischief.
She gazes to the bullpen and sees him reclining on the couch, eyes closed but probably not sleeping. The look in his eyes when he realized the belladonna had worn off and he couldn't see his daughter anymore, keeps haunting her. She thinks this experience did him more bad than good, upsetting his emotional stability, reminding him of everything he's lost. Lisbon has no idea what his daughter said or what they talked about but it must not have been easy to see what has been taken from him.
Just as she's about to stand up and walk over to the couch, to enquire about his well-being, maybe offer him dinner or a cup of tea and a listening ear, he stands abruptly and dashes past her office.
He startles at the sound of her voice but the momentum of the movement keeps pushing him to go forward, so she follows him to the elevator and comes to a stand next to him.
"Yes, Lisbon?" His tone is soothing and even cheery but she detects the falseness in it, the act which tells her he is far from calm and collected.
"Are you alright?" There is no easy way to ask what she really wants to ask but he senses the underlying meaning.
"You mean how am I doing now that I'm not tripping any more? I'm fine, Lisbon. It's good to be back in the real world."
They wait for the elevator to ascend, the slow hum of the cart the only noise for awhile.
"What was she like?"
It's bold but maybe the everything which has happened is making her more forward than she usually dares to be. Maybe it's an echo of love you, maybe it's the way ever since that phrase was uttered, they've been in a limbo, acknowledging the uncovered and the unsaid between them but never exploring those things. Or maybe she is just tired of pretending not to see what he goes through and she thinks he should be tired too.
Jane smiles wistfully, the look in his eyes reminiscent. His face relaxes and a softness descends, this one real, not pretend and Lisbon catches a glimpse of the real him.
"She was beautiful, just like her mother. And a wise-ass, like yours truly. Sassy. You would've liked her, really."
A ding announces the arrival of the elevator and Jane gets in. For the first time since the conversation, they really look at each other and Lisbon gets the feeling he is about to do something he shouldn't, something wrong. It's her Jane feeling, the one which usually alerts her to some plan Jane is concocting or about to put into action, a plan which will more often than not be offensive or rude or risky or all of those things.
Her voice holds a warning, an attempt to keep him from doing whatever it is he's about to do. He smiles slightly but it's a veneer again.
"Don't worry about me, Lisbon. I'm fine."
The doors close and he leaves. And she thinks she preferred him calling her Teresa and prompting her to call him Patrick even if it was just a side-effect of his trip. At least then it was real.
He doesn't return until much later, when he doesn't see Lisbon's car in the parking lot any more and when the CBI building is quiet. He greets the nightly security guard who is unfazed by his presence there in the dead of the night and hastily makes his way upstairs. A detour through the kitchen provides him with his favorite cup and a strainer and soon enough the attic welcomes him.
The bag Jane's been holding since entering the building is inconspicuous enough to not have aroused suspicion and only once the door is shut behind him does he relinquish his hold on it.
Belladonna, devil's cherry, deadly nightshade, beautiful death. And many more names, one more aptly put than other. It's not just a plant; it's a promise, a lure, an intoxicating possibility.
He saw his daughter with it. And just like he told Lisbon, drugs wouldn't be his first choice but he just needs to see her once more. Just once. He can control it.
He boils the water, prepares the strainer with the belladonna he's already mixed with orange pekoe and makes himself tea. This time he's more careful with the amount he's using. Just enough to bring back Charlotte and not too much to be out of it. He wants to be in touch with reality in the event of them being called to a crime scene or someone walking in.
And then he sits down, sipping the tea carefully. It's sweet but the pekoe balances it out with the stronger taste of black tea and he waits for the hallucinogen to kick in. There is no telling whether he will actually see Charlotte again but he hopes.
Jane's gaze rises up to the window and he is startled to find someone standing behind him. It's not a teenage girl with long blonde hair and a mischievous smirk but a dark-haired agent giving him her best scornful look.
"Lisbon? I thought you had gone home." He keeps the surprise out of his voice as he turns around to face her. The tea cup in his hand doesn't falter and his look is of pure innocence. There should be nothing odd about him sipping tea.
"I liked it when you called me Teresa. Why don't you call me that, Patrick?" Her voice is soft, almost whispery and he knows without having to think about it that it would be categorized as a bedroom voice. The scorn is gone and instead her expression is open, vulnerable even.
"Don't want to overuse it, Lisbon." She raises an eyebrow and he corrects himself. "Teresa."
"So, why are you here, wallowing?"
"Pffsht, I don't wallow." The conversation seems a bit strange but he focuses on hoping she won't notice the kind of tea he's chosen for himself. As long as she doesn't, he's willing to talk about anything.
"Sure you aren't. This dusty, moldy, smelly attic is just the kind of place to unwind and relax after the day you've had." Her voice keeps softening and the look she gives him is curious and flirtatious.
"Everything's better with good company."
"That's right. Do you like my company, Patrick? I think you do."
He can't find his voice any more, the conversation in her lead now.
"I put this on, especially for you. I know you liked it the first time."
And for the first time since the conversation started, Jane notices what she's wearing. Her brother's jersey, the one he's seen only once, the one she sleeps in, the long lines of her legs disappearing underneath the hem which is shorter than he remembers. Lisbon's presence and even her odd flirting may be explainable but her wearing the jersey can mean only one thing.
"You're not real, are you?" He whispers, his brain finally catching up with what's happening.
She laughs then, the sound echoing in the small room. "I'm as real as you imagine me to be. I'm no more than what you think of me."
"I wanted to see Charlotte." He protests feebly as she advances on him, slowly walking closer and he can't help but notice the way her hips sway with each step.
She hums low in her throat, the sound more than what he could ever imagine. Her eyes sparkle with contained excitement and the look she throws his way is equal parts pouting and seductive. "But you already saw her. And I think you wanted to see me, wanted to know what you won't let yourself be a part of. Let me show you."
Her fingers dance around the hem of the shirt, holding it as in contemplation whether to pull it over her head or not. And it's suddenly too much.
"Don't do that, Teresa."
She tilts her head to the side and her hands still. "Why not, Patrick?"
"I don't deserve this."
Her hands fall away from her shirt but she places one hand on his arm. The contact burns him in a decidedly good way and he thinks maybe he would've preferred her naked rather than touching him. She hums again but the sound has lost its dangerous edge. "But aren't you a little bit in love with me?"
The words from Lorelai's interrogation are thrown in his face. He got away with a noncommittal shrug and hum that time but he knows Lisbon heard the question. Heard the malice in Lorelai's voice, heard the threat, even if she couldn't see the truth reflecting on his face.
"Even more so."
"So, it's not in spite of feeling like that, it's because of it. Why are you so resistant to this? You're not living, Patrick, you're merely existing."
This is the second time his hallucination has called him out on this subject in the span of a day. His subconsciousness is really determined to make him face it. But he stays quiet, not really having a reply to that statement.
"You told Charlotte I know the real you."
"So, what are you doing here, having a conversation with the imaginary me if you love the real me?"
"I haven't said that."
She gives him an incredulous look. "Sure you have. Good luck, Teresa, love you. And since I'm a figment of your imagination, I know you meant it. I think it's rather futile to argue with yourself like that."
"Life usually is. You can't run forever."
"I can try." He whispers, aware of the fact that her image is fading slowly, him having stopped with the tea the moment she appeared. The effect is wearing off.
"I haven't run from you, Patrick. Maybe I'm the one who's a little bit in love with you then."
And she disappears.
He draws in a shaky breath and puts the cup away.
A/N: And there you have it. I have a feeling it doesn't quite have the emotions evoked by the episode but how could I outdo Daniel Cerone, the writer of this wonderful episode? Do let me know what you think, though!