AN: Went to type out the title to this. Accidently typed "Burnt Offerings." I think I need a writing break. I have the dumb.
Disclaimer: Still not mine.
Coffee and Confessions
She would never know what Jane had said to keep himself out of federal custody. It was probably a combination of lies and truth, coupled with the fact that he had just come out of fairly major surgery.
All she knew was that two weeks after Lorelei had originally escaped supermax, she was summoned to Bertram's office in the statehouse.
She met Jane in the elevator, quite by accident. It was a bit of a shock; she had purposely avoided him since their last meeting in the hospital.
Their relationship had twisted in on itself once more, and she found it was much easier to not deal with it. It was a cowardly move, she knew, but she also knew that Jane was perfectly capable of picking up the phone and calling her.
"Hey," he said, giving her a tight smile.
The automatic response was hey, yourself, but that was their thing, and she wasn't willing to let him smooth things over once again.
"Hi, Jane," she said instead, pushing the button for Bertram's floor. "You look better than you did the last time I saw you."
It would have been hard to look worse, but still. The bruises on his face were gone, his hair was as orderly as it could be, and the suit he was wearing looked new.
"Thank you," he returned. "I feel better, too."
They lapsed into awkward silence, and she suddenly wished she had worn her hair down for something to hide behind.
Not that she was scared of him, or what he could do to her emotions. It was a natural defense mechanism, that was all, and she had good reason to protect herself.
Blessedly, they reached their floor and exited, Lisbon working on perfecting her stoic face. When she had meetings with the director and Jane was involved, her favorite strategy was to look as impassive as possible. There was never any telling what was going to come out of Jane's mouth, and it was best to not act like she was surprised by any of it.
Despite everything, she still intended to present a united front to the boss.
Bertram's expression was nearly unreadable when they entered the office. If she had to guess, she would say it was apprehensive, with shades of annoyance.
"Sit," he said by way of greeting.
From the corner of her eye, she saw Jane wince slightly as he lowered himself into the padded chair.
"Now, Jane," Bertram went on, the tips of his fingers pressed together, "please explain to me using small words why you shouldn't have charges pressed against you for aiding and abetting a fugitive?"
Jane smiled. "Well, for one, you have no proof that I did any of the things you said. In fact, the woman beat me half to death."
She frowned at the reminder, then smoothed her face back out.
"For another," Jane continued, "I know who the mole in the FBI is, and I'm pretty sure you're going to want to hear about it."
"Jane, I'm in no mood to hear about your wild conspiracy theories."
Lisbon could feel herself start to tense. If Bertram wouldn't even listen at all…
Jane smiled in a self-satisfied manner. "No conspiracies here. I have proof. Your kind of proof," he added. "Things that can be seen and touched and verified."
His words had the desired effect. Bertram took a deep breath. "Let's have it."
As was their tradition, Jane never looked at her. She wasn't a very good liar to start with, and he tried to avoid drawing attention to her.
"Your mole is Alexa Shultz."
Tension in the room was instantly palpable.
"Alexa Shultz?" Bertram echoed. "The director of the FBI in California? Jane, I thought I told you that I wasn't interested in any of your crackpot theories. I've worked with Alexa for a long time, and though she might not be my favorite person, I think I can safely say that she is definitely not working with a serial killer."
Jane slipped his hand into his pocket. "I told you I had proof. Irrefutable proof, for that matter, the very best kind."
Suddenly, she wished she would have spoken to Jane sometime in the preceding two weeks. This was beyond his normal brand of revelation. If he was naming moles, moles that happened to have a lot of power in the FBI, she should have known about.
But, again, it wasn't like Jane had forgotten her phone number.
"Let's have it then," said Bertram, clearly annoyed.
From inside his pocket, Jane pulled out her cross, the one he had stolen when he had left the CBI the last time. She tried not to remember that the only reason he had managed to take it from her was because he had cleverly distracted her by putting his tongue in her mouth.
"That doesn't look like proof," the director said, breaking into her admittedly chaotic thoughts.
"Patience," Jane said, flipping the pendant over.
She watched as he deftly peeled off a piece of gold-leafing that had been attached to the back of the necklace, hiding something. Before she would think about it, she was leaning over the arm of his chair.
There was a tiny microchip attached to the backside of the cross. Carefully, Jane pried it off.
"Go get one of your fancy chip reader things," he said, and she couldn't help but be amused at his utter lack of technological knowledge, even as he attempted to expose someone as a career criminal.
Bertram stared for a moment, obviously trying to read Jane's face. Eventually, he reached for his phone. "Get me someone from tech services up here," he said into the receiver. "Tell them it's urgent."
Jane handed the cross back to her, his fingers brushing hers. She was almost certain it was on purpose.
"So how did you come across this?" Bertram asked, gesturing at the microchip.
"I'm afraid I can't tell you that," Jane said. "Confidential source, and all of that."
A vein started to throb in Bertram's temple. "If you're not going to tell me where this came from, how can I trust its accuracy?"
"Oh, trust me," Jane told him. "The information on here is easily verifiable by your fact-checker people. Besides, you want it to be Director Shultz, just a little."
An argument was averted by the arrival of a man in square glasses and a tie just a touch too short, clearly the technical support.
Jane held up the chip. "Ah, my good man. What do we need to get the information off of this?"
After peering at the device for a few seconds, the tech rattled off the names of several pieces of equipment that she had never heard of.
"Can we do that in this office?" Jane asked, though she knew he had even less of an idea what the man was talking about.
The tech straightened his glasses. "Yeah, that won't be a problem at all." He scurried off, and the rest of them tried to settle into their chairs. Jane was the only one that looked comfortable at all.
A half hour later, Bertram was swearing almost constantly under his breath as document after document popped up on his computer screen. She couldn't see enough to make sense of any of it, but she assumed Jane's proof was holding up under his scrutiny.
"This is unbelievable," he kept muttering.
"So," Jane finally said, "I'm assuming this is enough to keep me out of prison? And employed by the CBI?"
Bertram nodded. "You have one hell of a bargaining chip."
"Well, you know me," Jane said. "Go big or go home."
The director dismissed them after that, and she wondered how long it would be before this story broke. She didn't think there was any way that they would be able to keep this hidden from the media. It was going to be too big of a story.
Jane didn't speak until they reached the front doors of the state house.
"Can we talk later?" he asked, stopping in front of her.
She felt her guard go up. "About what?"
"Hm, I don't know." He rolled his eyes. "I imagine we could find a few relevant topics of conversation, don't you?"
She sighed. "Fine. Do you want to come over?" Whatever Jane wanted to say, she knew she didn't want to hear it at work.
"Sure, if that's what you want," he told her. "Shall we say seven?"
So at 6:58 that night, she answered her door. She had taken part of the afternoon off, due to her nerves, and had spent that time compulsively cleaning her apartment. It was something she did when she was nervous.
Jane stood on her doorstep, bottle of wine in one hand, jacket folded over his other arm. "Hi," he said, smiling.
"Come in," she told him, taking the proffered bottle of wine. "Going to get me liquored up before we talk?"
He shrugged. "That's one idea."
She pulled two glasses out of the cupboard, dug around in the drawer for the corkscrew. Filling both glasses liberally, she handed one to Jane before gesturing to her living room.
He sat on her right, fingers tapping absently against his glass. She curled her feet underneath her.
"So," she said. "Let's talk."
Abruptly, he smiled. "You know, this isn't going at all like I had pictured in my mind."
Reluctantly, she returned his grin. "What's on your mind, Jane?"
She could have sworn his cheeks colored slightly. "I kissed you," he said.
Her smile was more genuine this time. "Yes, I noticed that."
"And I told you I loved you twice."
"I noticed that, too," she said, amusement gone now.
He sat his glass down. "You don't have anything to say about that?"
She chewed on her lip, thinking. "I told you what was on my mind the day you called the CBI. I meant to keep you talking, but at the same time, what I said was all true."
"Yeah," he said flatly. "I was worried that it was." Jane stretched out his legs in front of him. "And you've made a point of not talking to me since I woke up from surgery."
"You know, you're just as capable of talking to me as I am of talking to you." She would be damned if he would put this all on her.
"Would it have made a difference if I had called?" He looked as though the answer was honestly important.
"It might have," she said. "It might have made a difference if I knew you wanted to have me around, or talk to me at all."
"Teresa," he said, eyes wide. "In case you've forgotten, everything in our relationship that wasn't strictly friendship has come from me. Every hug, every overture, has all been my doing."
In a shocked moment, she realized that his statement was true. He had been the one to confess his love first, he had been the one to kiss her. And what had she given him?
Well, everything else.
Her heart, her career, her every thought.
"But you're the one that always walks away," she told him, voice soft. "The one that pulls back, hides behind your need for revenge." He didn't get to play the you're rejecting me card.
"I know you hate that," he said, smiling gently again. "But it's the only way I have of protecting you. The less you know, the safer you are."
She shook her head. "That'd be a nice thought if I didn't wind up saving your ass every time you did something stupid without telling me. When are you going to learn?"
Carefully, he reached over and brushed his thumb over her cheek. "I distinctly remember telling you that I was always going to save you. I haven't been doing a very good job of that lately, have I?"
She took a sip of wine. "Jane, where is this all coming from, anyway?"
"We're coming to an end with the search for Red John. We're close, so close, that I've started to realize what I might have to give up to get him."
Her brows furrowed, not understanding what he meant.
"I would never sacrifice you, of course. Not ever. I need to you to know that," he said quickly. "But I might have to give up the hope of ever being able to have any sort of real relationship with you."
"Why?" she asked. "If you're worried about Red John thinking he can get to you through me, I think we've already crossed that bridge."
"That's true," he admitted. "But it would be damn difficult to have a relationship with you if I was in prison, wouldn't it?"
She resisted the urge to slap him. "Do you think that matters to me?"
He touched her face again. "Probably not, but it matters to me. I've held up a decade of your life already, Teresa. I won't deny you the chance to have a normal life if I'm out of the picture."
"You're an idiot," she told him. "That should be my decision, not yours."
He waved a hand. "Let's table that. There's a more important issue that's been bothering me." He turned directly towards her. "Please tell me why you don't think I love you. Do you think I said it to be funny? Do you think I'm the sort of person that says that sort of thing lightly?"
There was anger burning in his green eyes now.
She chose her words carefully. "The first time you said it, you pretended you forgot. That didn't inspire a lot of confidence in me. And then…you disappeared." Her words came more quickly now. "You ignored me, distanced yourself from everyone, kissed Lorelei in interrogation, and acted like everything I was doing was childish and silly. Like you were some great guru that was being put upon to mentor a five year old." Unexpectedly, she felt moisture pool in her eyes, like she hadn't realized how much he had actually hurt her until now.
He pulled her into his arms suddenly, and for once, she didn't hesitate to embrace him back. He smelled like sandalwood and Jane, his hands warm on her back. She turned her face into his neck, listening to his heart.
"I'm sorry," he whispered to her hair. "I never intended to hurt you."
"You did, though," she murmured back. "And you never even noticed. Or maybe you did, and just didn't care."
She felt his lips against her temple. "I care," he said.
Eventually, she pushed back, one hand on his chest. "Then you need to do a better job of proving it."
He raised his eyebrows, almost smirking. "Again with the authoritarianism, Teresa."
She was glad of his humor. It lightened the mood, and there were certain things she was still reluctant to talk about.
"Tell me about what happened with Lorelei," she said, steering the conversation back to safer grounds. "The truth, please."
And to her great surprise, he told her.
When he was through, she stared. "How are you not in prison? Or dead?" she wondered.
He tapped the cross around her neck. "I think I have my own personal guardian angel." His smile was soft.
She snorted. "That's pretty corny, even for you, Mr. Stone Cold Atheist."
He laughed, then kissed her cheek.
"Why did you take my cross?" she asked.
His expression was sheepish. "Well, if you thought the guardian angel thing was corny…" He took a breath. "Despite what you think sometimes, I am aware that there are consequences to actions. I knew there was a good chance that the next time you saw me, I would be behind bars or dead. I also knew that there was nothing you were going to be able to do to help me. I suppose I just wanted to take part of you with me."
"You're right," she said after a moment. "That was corny. But very sweet," she added.
"It also had the added benefit of giving me a place to hide that handy little microchip," he reminded her. "One of my more inspired ideas, if I do say so myself."
He stayed for a while longer, their words light. She had the opportunity to realize how much she had missed him these past weeks. Really, since he had come back from Vegas, even.
Things were not alright between them, not by a long shot.
But they were getting better.
The next day, he threw himself into their new murder case the way he used to. He didn't seclude himself in the attic, didn't sneak off to do his own Red John investigation on the side.
She caught herself smiling once or twice. This was Jane proving he cared, and she was touched.
Kirkland sent her a text in the early afternoon, asking about the Volker case. There were some new leads from the financial records he had given her, but they were currently waiting for some of the red tape to disperse.
He would be caught, though. She would see to it.
Jane pushed the door to her office open just as she was setting her phone down, tea in one hand and coffee in the other. He handed the ceramic mug to her.
"I think it was the boyfriend," he said. "Want to hear my plan?"
She grinned. "Absolutely."
While he was outlining his idea, she took a second to appreciate the novelty of being in the know. She knew why he was doing it, and it meant a great deal.
As they stood, heading for the door, she thought about what he had said the night before about being the one to make all the overtures. Impulsively, she grabbed his hand, pulling him back to her. For the first time, she was the one that hugged him.
"I'm glad you didn't die or go to prison," she said into his chest. "I just remembered I hadn't told you that yet."
He trailed his fingers down her back. "Thank you," he murmured. "I'm glad, too."
She let him go as abruptly as she had grabbed him, making for the door again, and pointedly ignoring his smirk.
They would be okay, she decided. In the end, when Red John had been caught and Jane was free, they would move forward, together.
For now, knowing that he was trying to show her he loved her, and in the way she had requested, was enough. It was more than enough, actually.
So for this day, for this hour, she was content.
AN: I left the Kirkland thing open on purpose, in case I feel like revisiting that particular story arc. Did I write him as RJ? I left the possibility there, what with the shooting Lorelei (after Lisbon tells him that she thinks Jane could get her to talk) and the tea drinking thing.
I also have a strong suspicion Volker is involved with RJ, too, so that's something I may get around to addressing in the future as well.
The goal for the end of this was to get Jane and Lisbon back to the way they used to be, with maybe something a little more. As much as I would like them to just make out in the middle of the office, I would settle for a nicer Jane at the moment. Sigh. Here's to hoping, folks.
And yes, I was purposely vague on what Jane was up to. Some things are better left to the imagination.