Yes, another oneshot instead of updates for 'Scratched' or 'Triple Threat.' I apologize. These ideas kind of take hold in my mind and won't leave me alone until I write them down. Sigh.
Beware of minor spoilers for 'Devil's Cherry' and heavy 'T' content. You have been warned.
All her life, people have called Teresa Lisbon a control freak.
She had many a screaming match with Tommy on all the nights he snuck out to go drinking with his friends. He told her she was smothering him, that she wasn't his mother, and just to butt the hell out of his life. It broke her heart that he didn't understand she only did it out of fear that Social Services would spilt them up. She'd already lost her mother and father; she couldn't lose them too.
It wasn't easy, but she's never regretted keeping their family together, and she's always been proud of the men her brothers became. They're nothing like her father, and for that she feels vindicated.
In an unpredictable career like policing, she still likes to be in control. It was a major factor in her meteoric rise through the CBI to team leader in just a few years.
Even in her social life (limited though it might be) she calls the shots. She's the one who ended things with her ex-fiancé. She's always the first to leave after an ill-fated one-night stand, and never leaves a phone number.
There's only person in her life over which she feels she has absolutely no control. She never knows what he might do next, or even if he has any intention of coming back when he leaves the office for the night. And it's not for lack of trying. She's tried every trick in the book. She's reasoned with him, threatened him, bribed him, pleaded with him, but nothing works with Patrick Jane.
She's never known anyone in all her life as stubborn as she is, until she met him.
Before him, the biggest risk she ever took was joining the police force, and now, every day feels like she's balancing on a knife's edge, waiting to topple off it into the darkness. She shudders to think about the illegal things she's done, and the enemies she's made on his account. How many careers she's put in jeopardy, including her own, just to keep his intact. And now, even though the top brass would love nothing better than to get rid of him, he's virtually untouchable. She'll fight for him with her last breath, and everybody knows it.
Her colleagues tell her she's foolish, and that one day she'll come to regret it when he finally goes too far and gets her fired, or worse. But she can't abandon him now. She's been taking care of him for close to a decade, and that need to protect him isn't something she can just turn off. And God knows, he's in no condition to take care of himself. The state he was in on his return from Vegas proved that. So she fusses over him, and worries about his diet and his insomnia, and fixes him tea and lets him unload all the dark things that plague his brilliant mind onto her. When he is at his weakest, she must be at her strongest, for she carries the burden for both of them.
It's unhealthy, the way they've latched onto each other like this. They've built their entire lives around each other, and in their line of work, that's a dangerous thing. Several of her superiors have attempted to split them up over the years, but it never sticks. He flatly refuses to work with anyone else. Sometimes, she worries about what he'll do if something ever happens to her, and he has no choice but to join another team. Resign, probably. He's always made it clear that he can take or leave his job at the CBI, and if the conditions don't suit him he'll have no hesitation in walking out the door.
She's not interested in changing partners any time soon either. She's most comfortable when she knows exactly where he is and what he's doing. Bad things happen when he's out of her line of sight.
She's still recovering from the belladonna incident. The fainting fit in the victim's house was emotional trauma she could've done without, but the hallucinations that plagued him afterwards were even worse. Because he seemed so happy when he was chattering away to his imaginary daughter, and then, like everything else, it got snatched away from him when the tea wore off.
She remembers him waking up in the hospital bed, calling her name, and to this day, she can't figure out why. Maybe her voice filtered into his subconscious somehow. It makes sense. After all, she barely left his side until he came to. She hopes to God that's the reason. She doesn't dare ask him.
He's a stone-cold atheist, so she doesn't tell him that she prays for him a lot. Twice, to save his life, once to bring him home and a million times in between, for his job, his happiness, his sanity. She's asked a lot of favours from Him on Patrick Jane's behalf, and so far He has delivered every time. She fears the day that the goodwill runs out. It's bad enough that she allowed their professional relationship to become personal, but the real trouble started when attraction got into the mix as well. Though if she's honest, it was always bubbling away under the surface, right from the beginning. He's got a lot going for him. He's brilliant, he's confident and he's drop-dead gorgeous. Sure, it's a little superficial; but it's only natural that she would respond to that, she's only human after all.
But the crux of the problem isn't his natural charm or quick wit, or even that smile that makes lesser women turn into simpering messes at his feet, it's that he took such an avid interest in her. Not a romantic interest, of course; she's never been under any illusions that he'd want her the way she wants him, but he's never been satisfied with keeping their relationship professional. He's always tried to get closer to her. Her past, her thoughts, her dreams, it seems that nothing's too small for his notice.
It's like being under a microscope, like he's compiling his own personal dossier on all things Teresa Lisbon. She can't understand why. He's the one with the mad mentalist skills and the glittering television career. She's never done anything particularly interesting with her life. But still, after ten years he wants to know more about her.
She counts herself as the only living person who truly understands him. She's seen him in all his ugly forms. She's seen him furious, vengeful, vulnerable, and in pain. She's seen him ruthless, and calculating. Nobody knows him better than she does.
Despite all this, he can still surprise her. And often does.
He comes to her apartment one night after work. They've had a big argument today. He's just found out that she went out for coffee with Mancini last week. It wasn't a date, but he still isn't happy about it.
It's not his business what she does on her own time. She doesn't get a lot of it, so she thinks she has the right to spend it however she likes. And she told him so. He took offense to that, and they both said some regrettable things. It ended with her storming from her office and not speaking to him again for the rest of the day.
And now he's standing at her front door expecting her to allow to him stroll right in like he does at the office. "I'm not letting you in," she says, leaning against the doorframe with her arms folded. "Not until you apologize."
She shakes her head. No more general-purpose apologies from him. She deserves better then that.
"I'm sorry, Teresa." He attempts the lady-killer smile.
Another head shake. "Strike two."
He sighs. "OK, OK. I'm sorry I gave you a hard time about Mancini. It was uncalled for."
"There you go."
She knows he's only saying it because it's what she wants to hear, but she'll take what she can get.
"Am I forgiven?"
"For now." She doesn't really have the energy to hold grudges over little things like this. Instead she reserves her resentment for the big stuff, like his six-month disappearance, and Lorelei. This thing with Mancini, she thinks, is just a manifestation of his wounded pride. Jane despises Mancini and the FBI, and therefore by extension, thinks that she should too. It's easy for him, with no politics to deal with, or bosses to appease, but she doesn't have that luxury. She's expected to keep the peace between the agencies, and sometimes she thinks he forgets that.
"So can I come in?"
"For a while."
He follows her into the apartment, eyes sliding back and forth, taking everything in. She knows he's looking for signs that she's not alone. He's wasting his time. She hasn't brought anyone but him back to her place in months. She wouldn't have time for a relationship even if she wanted one. He keeps her far too busy for anyone else to even get a look in. And she's yet to meet a man she thinks could handle Jane's constant presence in her life. They're kind of a package deal, and for the foreseeable future, he will remain her first priority.
He provides her with all the companionship she needs right now, as well as mental stimulation and humour. In a way, he gives her most things she could expect to get from a lover. Other than sex, of course. And she's a woman first and foremost; she misses that.
Mancini seems to like her, she's noticed. Sure, he's a bit of a hothead, as Jane once put it, but as far as potential for casual sex goes, she could do worse. She's not looking for a boyfriend right now, but a little human contact every now and then wouldn't go astray.
It would certainly make it easier to work alongside Jane every day, who she's stupidly been in love with for years, but absolutely can't touch. There's too much at risk.
Jane stays for an hour. They watch television, drink a beer each, and chat about everything and nothing. Just before he leaves, he lightly touches her hand.
"You deserve everything you want, Teresa. Don't settle for less."
He walks out the door, and she goes to bed alone, wondering what he meant by that.
A month later, she sleeps with Mancini. One minute they're knocking back shots at a bar after work, and the next they're back at his place, rolling around between the sheets. She's not exactly proud of herself afterwards, but that doesn't stop her from doing it again a week later. They're both unattached, and it's just a bit of harmless fun.
It becomes a routine after a while. Once a week or so, when neither of them is busy, they meet up, grab dinner, and then go back to whoever's place is closest. They get each other off, and then go their separate ways. There's no emotion in this arrangement, if anything it's a business deal. They both take what they want from the other, and then that's the end of it.
It's good to feel a man's touch again, and the weekly roll in the proverbial hay does wonders for her stress levels. People start to notice, Jane in particular. He never says anything, but she can tell just by looking at him that he's connected the dots.
She wishes she could tell him that she couldn't care less about Mancini. She's just so tired of sleeping alone every night. All she wants is an hour a week when she can feel someone's skin against her own, where she can tune out all the drama in her life and live in the moment. But she'd trade it all in a second for the one she truly loves. Mancini might occasionally be in her bed, but her heart spends every night in a dusty old attic at the CBI with Patrick Jane.
Jane's quite proud of the way he handles this unpleasant situation. He plots a number of cruel and elaborate revenges on Mancini but restrains himself from acting on them. He pretends not to notice when he sees her surreptitiously texting when she thinks nobody's looking and he manages not to comment when she leaves for the night and he knows she's heading straight into Mancini's arms.
But he can't stop himself from thinking about it every night. Someone else is touching her in the way he's always wanted to, filling a need for her that he's unable to satisfy. She is his whole world, but he is not hers anymore.
God, how he wants to be the one to give her the glow in her cheeks that she has these days. He wants to pleasure her all night long, but it is too soon after the Lorelai debacle, and he's not ready. He wants to be totally sure that this is what he wants before he jumps into it. The last thing he wants to do is hurt her. But time is running out, and soon the window of opportunity may close for good. If he's going to do this, it's got to be soon.
It's a windy night, when the sharp knock comes at her door. Mancini's on an out-of-town case, and she's not expecting anyone else, so it takes her by surprise. She scrapes her hair into a messy ponytail as she goes to answer it. She's been at work all day and she looks like crap, but it's getting late, and whoever it is will just have to deal with that.
Patrick Jane waits on her doorstep, wringing his hands impatiently. She's glad she didn't bother dressing up; no doubt he's just here with some diabolical plan that just can't wait until morning.
"Make it quick, Jane," she says. "It's nearly ten, and we've got an early start in the morning."
He enters the apartment without invitation and shuts the door behind them.
"What's the problem?" she prompts, after they stand there for a full thirty seconds without him saying anything.
"I can't take this anymore, Teresa," he answers.
"What?" she asks.
"You. And him. Together."
She doesn't bother playing dumb. She knows exactly who he's talking about.
"We discussed this. My private life is none of your concern."
"It is when it affects me."
"It has nothing to do with you."
She's wrong there. She's the woman he loves, and she's wasting her time on a man who doesn't even deserve her. It has everything to do with him. But he doesn't expect her to understand that.
"You can do so much better than him."
"And that's your professional opinion, is it?"
"No, its common sense."
They enter her living room. She sits down on the couch, and he follows suit.
"So, you're going to keep seeing him?" he asks.
"Yes." She's starting to get irritated now. He has no right to come around here and tell her what she can and can't do, especially when he has no good reason.
She shrugs. "It's just a little fun. We're not hurting anybody, and it makes me feel good. Why would I stop, just because you're feeling a little threatened?"
"I wouldn't say threatened." Even in a situation as serious as this one, he still has his pride. Yes, he'd like to break both of Mancini's arms right now for touching her, but it's not because he feels threatened.
"Oh no? So this new trick of turning up at my house in the middle of the night is just you showing concern for my wellbeing?"
He has two options. He can keep lying to her and make the situation worse, or he can go for broke and tell her the real reason he dragged himself all the way over here at ten o' clock at night.
"You're making a mistake with Mancini. He doesn't deserve you."
She presses her index fingers to her temples, and sighs. "He's a good-looking guy, he's not married, and we don't work together. Where's the problem?"
"He's an ass, Teresa. I don't trust him."
"Well there's a shock. If I'm going to alienate every person on Earth you don't like or don't trust, I may as well move into your attic with you."
He shifts a little closer to her on the couch. She watches him warily as he does this, as though she fears what he might do next.
"I just don't want to see you get hurt."
"Jane, the only person in my life who causes me pain is you."
She regrets the words as soon as she says them. But it's the truth. He goes quiet for a time, and she wonders if she's gone too far.
"You're right," he says, in the end. "Who am I to judge you, after all I've done to you? I'll go. I hope you're happy together."
That's not what he came here to say. He came to stake his claim, to fight for her, but if Mancini makes her happy, he needs to accept that. If he truly loves her (and he does) he'll let her have this.
He makes to leave.
The sensible thing to do would be to just let him go. But she's had enough of watching him leave to last her a lifetime.
He obeys, and she thinks she sees the tiniest flash of hope in those green eyes.
"We're not dating," she blurts out. "Mancini and me. It's just sex."
She feels shame coursing through her, as she admits this truth to him. Because it is kind of pathetic. She can't have the man she wants, so she opts for a second-rate substitute. Sure, Mancini's a decent guy, but he can't compare to Patrick Jane.
Jane freezes. God only knows what he thinks of her now.
"Seriously?" he asks.
"Seriously. We barely even talk."
"Why do you think?" She refuses to spell it out for him. He's the mind reader; he should be able to work it out for himself.
"I'm no good for you either," he says, presently. "We can't."
"Then why are you still here?"
He approaches her slowly, until he's close enough for her to touch. But she doesn't. If this is going to happen, he has to be the instigator. She's not going to let him blame her for this tomorrow.
"This was never supposed to happen," he says softly. "But I just couldn't help myself."
She can relate. There are a hundred reasons why they can't work. But through all this, she's at least learned that there's no room for logic in affairs of the heart.
He reaches for her, but stops just before he touches her. "I can't," he says again. "It's too dangerous. Nothing can happen to you. I won't survive it."
"Now you know how I feel."
He smiles. "You were getting by just fine before I came along. I was a wreck."
"You should've seen me while you were gone."
Her ponytail is coming loose, and he brushes a lock of hair out of her eyes. His hand lingers for a moment on the side of face, and she wants to melt into his touch and never come out again. But she must be strong.
Red John is still out there. Their job isn't done, and they simply can't start something before they put the serial killer case to bed. But the man she loves is literally within her grasp, and if she doesn't reach for him now, and they let this moment pass, it may never happen again.
She can tell he's thinking along the same lines. He hasn't moved his hand from her cheek, and he's staring at her lips like they're Red John's case file. He wants her.
"Just once," she hears him mumble to himself. "Just this once." With a gentle tug, he pulls her into his arms and his mouth descends on hers.
She kisses him back with such enthusiasm, it literally staggers him. She flings her arms around his neck, and throws herself into it. It's lucky she's so tiny, or else they both would have hit the floor. He gathers her to him, as he continues kissing her like the world is ending. She tastes sweet, like the strawberries she loves so much. Fitting.
She's wearing too many clothes, he suddenly realizes. He wants them all off her, right now. It was only supposed to be a kiss, but he's crossed the threshold now, and he may as well go all the way. He wants to see all of her, feel her against him, and give himself a pleasant memory to sustain him during the miserable months ahead.
The kiss ends, they both gasp for breath, and then it resumes. Her pulse is racing; he can feel it, and he supposes that his probably is too. When they break it off a second time, she pulls back a fraction, and stares into his eyes.
He understands what she is doing. She's letting him decide how far he wants to take this, whether they will stop. But he can't stop. Not now.
He takes her by the hand and leads her to her bedroom. He's only been in it once before, and for an entirely different reason. He glances back at her. Her cheeks are flushed and her eyes are bright with desire. He turns the bedside lamp on, and closes the door behind them.
His hands shake as he undresses her, pausing every few seconds to kiss and worship each new bit of her that is revealed as her clothes fall away. He never knew there was a scar on her hip, or that it makes her squirm with pleasure when he strokes her across her stomach.
Once he has divested her of all her clothing, she returns the favour, unbuttoning his vest, almost tearing his shirt off, and flinging his pants aside. She's much quicker at this task than he was and within seconds, he's naked too. They fall onto the bed and crawl beneath the covers. He kisses and caresses every last inch of her; as she arches her back and her moans grow ever louder and more desperate. The suspense is killing them both, but when they finally do cross this line, there's no going back.
It's only after he completes a long session of thoroughly kissing her neck, and his hand wanders down between her legs, that she finally loses her patience. She buries a hand in his hair, and pulls on it gently so he has to look at her.
"No more teasing," she says, between pants. "Now."
He covers her body with his, and she's trembling beneath him, but he stops once more.
"What now?" she snaps, harshly.
"You're the best thing that ever happened to me," he whispers. "You'll never know how much I-"
"Shhh." She silences him with a finger to his lips. "I know. Me too."
He goes to say something else, but is cut off by her strangled gasp. And then they don't talk anymore.
He is gone when she wakes the next morning. His side of the bed is cold, which means she been alone for at least a couple of hours. No doubt, he snuck back to the CBI after she fell asleep, so she can find him in the attic as usual and they can pretend that things are normal, even though they're not. Apparently, he meant it when he said this was a one-time thing.
Technically though, he is incorrect. They made love twice last night. Once, after their whispered conversation and then again an hour later. She can't believe that after ten long years, it's finally happened. It's even harder to believe that it could be ten more before it happens again.
She's still thinking about the three words they almost said, and what it all means, as she steps into the shower. Steam billows up around her. Maybe one day they'll share one of these, and get so caught up in each other that they're late for work. She's never been late in her life, but there's a first time for everything.
When she gets to the office, and sees him lying on the couch in her office, it takes all her self-control not to jump him again, then and there. Last night gave her a taste for the forbidden fruit, and now she's going to want it all the time. But she'll control herself. She'll learn to put aside her frustration again, and be patient. She has no choice.
That afternoon, she breaks things off with Mancini. He'll never be able to touch her again without it feeling wrong. Casual sex isn't enough for her anymore. She wants the real thing. And if she has to wait, then so be it. All the more reason to eliminate Red John sooner rather than later.
As she hangs up the phone on the disgruntled FBI agent, she can't help but wonder if that was Jane's plan all along.
This story actually began life as something completely different. Then I started writing, and it became this. Weird how stories do that.