So, I've been having an odd kind of day. I've been feeling antsy, and had the urge to write an argument. They're fun to write every so often. So that's what I did. Because I genuinely feel that Jane and Lisbon need to argue a little more often. To be perfectly honest, in some ways, I'm not entirely sure what this is. Thus, feedback would be appreciated.

xxx

Fraught

xxx

"I heard someone had an interesting evening," Jane said, ducking his head into his boss's office, and deliberately keeping his tone light.

Lisbon didn't even look up from her paperwork. "Oh, did Van Pelt decide to attend another séance?"

Jane smirked in spite of himself. "Not as far as I know. I think I managed to dissuade her from those."

"That's a polite way of putting it," Lisbon said.

"I wasn't that bad," Jane insisted as he shut her office door (something that should have tipped Lisbon to the fact that this wasn't the casual visit he was pretending it was).

"You were," she replied. "You were like a dog with a bone, Jane. In the end, poor Van Pelt probably only conceded the point because you were scaring her."

"She's more stubborn than that," Jane said, unconcerned.

Lisbon shook her head. "She also likes to keep the peace."

Jane considered that. "So she does. Which means that I probably didn't convince her at all. "

"Probably not," Lisbon agreed.

Jane shrugged. "Her loss. Besides, you still haven't figured out who had an interesting evening last night," Jane told her.

Lisbon sighed. "What? Did Rigsby or Cho go on a date that they were foolish enough to tell you about."

"As if I'd need to be told," Jane scoffed. "They're both completely transparent."

"Cho?" Lisbon asked sceptically, still trying to focus on her paperwork.

"Somewhat transparent," Jane amended.

"Hm."

"But no, neither of the guys were on a date," Jane insinuated.

Lisbon froze for the briefest second. "Who was then?" she asked, keeping her voice light.

Jane smirked at her attempts at deflection. "Agent Gabe Mancini," he drawled.

Lisbon shut her eyes briefly.

"Aren't you going to ask me who the lucky lade was?" Jane asked.

"Do I need to?" "Lisbon wondered, finally meeting his eyes and leaning back in her chair.

Jane shrugged. "Depends on how long you want to continue this little charade."

Lisbon gritted her teeth. "And how did you find out?" She knew he was good, but honestly. She'd barely even seen him since last night.

"Lisbon, I'm shocked that you have to ask," he told her.

"Even you're not that good," she replied. "Tell me."

Jane smirked. "My best guess? I think Bertram mentioned playing poker with you to his secretary this morning. You can guess the rest."

"Great," Lisbon grumbled. That meant that half the CBI probably knew by now.

"It seems you made quite an impression," Jane observed.

"On who?" Lisbon countered.

Jane took a step forward. "Who did you want to make an impression on, Teresa?"

"Who says I have to pick one person?" she countered back quickly. She knew she was being childish (among other things), but she really didn't want to talk about this with him.

"Interesting," Jane murmured, taking another few steps closer, walking around the desk until he was almost leaning over her.

Lisbon refused to just tilt her head back and let him cow her. She stood up abruptly and glared at him, hoping he'd get the message.

He didn't. At least not the one she'd intended. "Which means that Agent Mancini, or should I say Gabe, do you call him Gabe? Either way, he was one of your intended targets."

"So what if he was?" Lisbon demanded, crossing her arms.

"So I'll ask again, just what impression were you trying to make, Teresa?" Jane wondered, his tone suddenly clipped.

"He's an interesting man," Lisbon replied, evading the question.

"That's not an answer," Jane said, catching her at it. He leaned closer, trying to use his height to his advantage again.

But that tactic had stopped working on Lisbon when she was about ten. She walked around her desk (and around him). She wouldn't let him box her in. "Because it's none of your business," she shot back.

"Actually, I think it is," he growled, taking two steps towards her into the centre of the room.

Lisbon stared at him in shock. Half-afraid of what his reason for that might be. Still, she had to ask, even if her voice wavered slightly when she did it. "How?"

Jane almost faltered. Almost. He covered it with sarcasm. "Lisbon, really."

His condescending tone had the desired effect (though Jane wasn't sure of the wisdom of his tactics). Either way, any uncertainty in Lisbon's eyes was replaced by anger. "Don't take that tone with me."

Jane turned serious and took another step back towards her, into the centre of her office. His arm fluttered briefly at his side as he quashed the urge to reach for her. "He's with the FBI, Lisbon," Jane reminded her.

"Yes, I am aware of that," she said with a glower.

"Do I really have to spell it out for you?" Jane asked, suddenly frustrated (though he wasn't entirely sure with who, there were so many options).

Lisbon took a quick breath, but she stood her ground. "I think that maybe you do."

Jane shrugged, feigning a calm he didn't feel. This conversation wasn't going the way he'd intended (or maybe it was going exactly the way he'd intended, or at least, the only way that it could go). "The FBI stole Lorelei Martin, Lisbon. Or have you forgotten?"

"We don't know that!" Lisbon hissed. "We have no proof of that. We don't know who helped free her."

"Someone doesn't want me to talk to her! She was mine! I had her. She was going to lead me to Red John, and now she's gone. And Gabe was one of the people trying to keep me from her!" Jane replied, his expression becoming more and more crazed as he spoke.

Lisbon tried to remain calm. "The FBI didn't want you to speak to Lorelei because he thought you might be compromised. Can't think why!" she added sarcastically.

"Except that Red John has a mole in the FBI. You know he does. Who do you think that is, Lisbon?" Jane asked angrily.

"How should I know?" Lisbon snapped. "There are thousands of employees at the FBI."

"One of whom is Agent Mancini," Jane replied.

"Therefore he must be the mole," Lisbon growled.

"He could be!" Jane insisted, stepping towards her again. "He could be the mole. In which case he's just using you. He's just using you so he can feed Red John information, Lisbon."

Lisbon took a step back, like she'd been struck. "How dare you?" she asked, her voice low and dangerous.

Jane didn't listen to the warning, and tried to ignore her pain. "I'm just saying, it makes sense. And you obviously haven't considered the possibility."

Lisbon shook her head slowly, and turned away. She should have expected this. Maybe on some level, she had. Maybe it was why she desperately hadn't wanted Jane to find out about last night's poker game. Maybe . She fought for calm (Jane obviously wasn't going to). "Do you have any proof of that? Any proof at all?" she asked softly, staring at the wall.

She heard Jane walk up behind her, though he didn't touch her. He seemed to know better than that. "Lisbon, the FBI didn't want me to have Lorelei Martin. Mancini didn't want me to have Lorelei Martin. Magically, when I was supposed to get her back, she disappeared again. And Mancini was right in the middle of it. He's involved somehow," Jane insisted, his voice persuasive.

But she was so sick of insinuations and shadows. She spun around suddenly to face him. "You know, you're right. Gabe could be Red John. He could be doing all of this to spy on me and get inside my head. Or rather, your head, because it's always all about you." She advanced upon him with ever sentence, and this time it was Jane's turn to retreat, holding his hands up in front of him in protection.

"I didn't say..." he tried to explain.

But Lisbon didn't want to hear it. "Or he could just be an FBI Agent trying to do his job," she suggested. "Wouldn't that be a novelty? But sometimes it does happen. Gabe could just be an FBI Agent, one of the good guys, just someone that met me and thought, 'Huh. She seems like an interesting and attractive woman. Maybe she wants to play some poker."

Jane blinked. Of course that was possible. It was Lisbon. That was obviously possible. He just wasn't sure that it was true in this case. "With some highly influential law enforcement professionals, including your boss, who by the way, is by no means certainly innocent."

Now Jane could definitely see the hurt on Lisbon's face. Still, she rallied quickly. He'd give her that. "You know Jane, I know I haven't studied human behaviour as much as you have, but from what I've heard, sometimes men try and show off in front of women, to impress them."

Jane steeled himself against the pain in her eyes. It was the only way... the only way to... He needed to put her on her guard at the very least. "And you really think that's what's going on? Oh, Lisbon..."

She cut him off. "Shut up."

Jane took a step towards her. "I'm trying to help you," he said, his voice almost pleading.

Lisbon shook her head. She knew better. "No you're not. You're trying to get me to drink your conspiracy-juice."

Well, now she was just being ridiculous. "Conspiracy juice? What does that even mean?"

Lisbon took another deep breath and tried to calm down. She hadn't expected anything less of him (at least she shouldn't have). "Right, because I'm the one being unreasonable."

"I am not..." Jane tried to object.

But Lisbon was sick of the conversation. More than sick of it, actually, "Again, do you have any proof. Any proof at all? Beyond the fact that Mancini works for the FBI, a very large organization."

"Well, I think we can eliminate the half that works on the other side of the country," Jane pointed out.

Lisbon resisted the urge to smack him. "Oh, so I just have to watch out for any FBI employee living in California."

"That'd be a start," Jane admitted. Not forever, but at least for now. Caution was only prudent.

Lisbon stared at him. He looked like he was serious. "Right, and while I'm at it, I probably want to suspect anyone who could be connected to Red John. Which narrows it down to, who, exactly? Because let's face it Jane, based on what we know, anyone could be connected to Red John. The guy who delivers my paper in the morning could be an accomplice. Maybe his job is to monitor which days I'm actually in my apartment based on what time my paper disappears. Or what about the guy who works at the coffee shop around the corner, or the homeless man who seems to like this neighbourhood? He usually says hello when he sees me. Should I be paranoid that he's trying to worm his way past my defences so he can report back to Red John? And what about the entire admin staff working in this building? After all, they have access to all the CBI records, so they're probably all Red John's moles. What about my team? Red John seems to be one step ahead of us all the time. Maybe the inside man is closer than we ever thought. Who do you think it is? Rigsby or Cho, or maybe Grace. Seems unlikely, but maybe that's the point. Just how paranoid do you think I should be? My family? Do you think it's someone in my family? Tommy, or Annie or... Oh god! I can't trust anybody can I? You really haven't left me with anybody. Except you, of course."

Now it was Jane's turned to stare. They stood, facing off against each other in silence for several seconds. Eventually he spoke, "I never said that."

"But you do want me to trust you," Lisbon pressed. "You've said that before."

"I have," Jane agreed, wondering how they'd gotten here exactly. All he'd meant was to give her a friendly hint about her new admirer, and now... He nodded. "I do want you to trust me."

"Just not anyone else," Lisbon said harshly.

Jane felt like he'd just gotten conversational whiplash. He shook his head quickly. "No. That's not..."

Lisbon took a step towards him when he backed away. "What is this really about Jane?" she asked softly.

He stared just over her right shoulder. "I don't trust the FBI."

"The whole FBI?" she double-checked.

Jane shrugged. He didn't see what choice he had. He was alone in this. Or, almost alone... "Until proven otherwise."

Lisbon was shaking her head again, though her tone was still gentle. "I can't operate that way."

He found himself getting annoyed with her. Couldn't she see that he was trying to help her? "You can't, or you won't?"

"You're not infallible," Lisbon reminded him, apropos of nothing, in Jane's opinion.

"Neither are you," he couldn't resist shooting back (though even he knew it was childish).

For the briefest of seconds, he thought he saw her smile. "I never claimed to be."

"And I did?" he asked.

She huffed. "You sure act like it."

Jane tried again to get his point across. He stepped towards her, wondering just how long this dance back and forth on her office floor would last. "I just..."

Lisbon met his eyes and held them. "You just what?"

He hesitated, "I'm just concerned about you."

She sighed, obviously disappointed (and disbelieving). "No, you're not."

"I am!" Jane insisted. "You could get hurt."

"I could get hurt any day!" Lisbon reminded him. That was in her job description after all. Unreasonable man. "But that's not the point."

"What is the point?" Jane wondered.

"You're not just anything." Lisbon growled. "You're never just anything." It was true. She wondered if Jane ever had only one meaning in the things that he said. She doubted it.

"I am concerned about you," Jane said again.

Lisbon decided to give him a break. A little one. "I appreciate that."

"But you're still not going to listen to me," Jane surmised.

Lisbon took another step towards him and placed a hand briefly on his forearm. "You need to trust me to know what I'm doing."

Jane glanced down at her hand. "Lisbon," he said, meeting her eyes. Not sure if he was pleading with her or chastising her.

She held his gaze, her eyes and her voice steady. She wasn't giving an inch. "Jane."

And suddenly, Jane's expression changed to one of wonder. "Well I'll be."

"What?" Lisbon asked in confusion.

"You're spying on him," Jane exclaimed.

Lisbon frowned and stepped back. "No I'm not."

"You are," Jane insisted, stepping forward.

Lisbon rolled her eyes. "I'm really not."

"Teresa," Jane rebuked.

"Gabe's an attractive man," Lisbon said lightly. He was. A very attractive man. Who very likely wasn't a serial killer's accomplice.

"No he isn't," Jane insisted.

Lisbon raised an eyebrow. If there was one place where she felt on firm ground in this whole argument, this was it. "I beg to differ."

Jane leaned in, examining her face. She refused to blink. "Interesting," he said after a moment. "You meant that."

"Of course I did!" Lisbon snapped. "Smart, handsome, successful. What's not to like."

Jane took a step back. "I guess I never thought he'd be your type."

"Smart, handsome, successful?" Lisbon repeated, irritation building inside her again. After all, wasn't that everyone's type? Every woman might have a different definition of what those three words meant, but, in the end...

"Now you're putting words in my mouth," Jane replied.

She glared at him. "No, I think you're the one putting something in there, and it's not words."

"Very funny," Jane muttered, still watching her face, trying to figure out the truth. He wondered if her suspicions about Mancini were subconscious. Maybe she hadn't really acknowledged them to herself. Or maybe she really wasn't spying on him. At least, that might not have been her primary motivation. Maybe he wasn't the only one who did things for more than one reason.

"This is none of your business," Lisbon reminded the man standing across from her.

Jane's eyes turned hard. "It is if Red John's involved."

"You don't know that he is," Lisbon reminded her consultant for what felt like (and probably was) the tenth time.

"You don't know that he isn't," Jane countered.

Lisbon shrugged. "I refuse to believe that the majority of the FBI's dirty, even if a handful of agents are. I'm giving Gabe the benefit of the doubt. And who knows, maybe he'll be good for my career."

Jane smiled slightly in spite of himself, "You're not that ambitious."

Lisbon stiffened her spine. "You don't know everything about me."

He was definitely smiling now, "I know you."

Lisbon wasn't. "Ha."

Jane frowned slightly. "Do you really want to be promoted to a bureaucratic desk job?"

"Not now," Lisbon admitted. She didn't. She loved her job, most days. And she was good at it. "But what happens in ten years when I'm tired of slamming criminals to the ground with my shoulder?"

"Ten years?" Jane repeated sceptically. "That's optimistic."

Lisbon felt her temper rising. He'd insulted her more times than she cared to count that evening. "Not the tone you want to be taking right now."

"What tone do I want to be taking?" Jane asked neutrally.

Lisbon leaned against her desk and tried to stare him down. "Whatever one gets you out of my office."

Jane watched her for a second. "Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you."

"Your concern is noted," Lisbon assured him.

"If not appreciated," he muttered as he turned to leave.

"Oh, go to hell," she snapped.

Jane whipped around and strode back towards her, anger blazing in his own eyes. "What you're doing is dangerous. He could end up hurting you."

But Lisbon was angry now too. "Unlike you!?"

That stopped him in his tracks, his anger evaporating. "Lisbon..."

"What?" she demanded, not willing to give up her own irritation.

And all of a sudden, Jane realized what he might have done. What if she really had liked Mancini, even a little? And even if she hadn't... "I'm sorry."

She was shaking her head again. "No, you're not."

But he wouldn't let her deny. Not completely. "I am," he insisted. "For some of it."

Lisbon stopped shaking her head and turned to examine his face. "Which parts?" she wondered.

"Enough," Jane assured her, willing her to believe him. He didn't think he could explain. Didn't want to. Look at where his attempts at explanations had been getting him lately. He just, he didn't want her to get hurt, least of all by Gabe.

But what he was offering wasn't enough for Lisbon. Not today. "That's what you think," she informed him as she grabbed her things. "I'm leaving. I'll see you tomorrow."

Jane stared at the ground. "They stole my witness," he said softly, trying to explain. It was all tangled up. Everything was a mess.

Lisbon turned in her doorway. "That's the thing, Jane. She's not yours. You didn't win her at a fair. She's not a possession. She was never yours to own. No one is."

Jane watched her go, helplessly. Lisbon might have been right, but he still needed Lorelei back. She was his link to Red John. And Red John was his. Lorelei was... Lisbon was...

After a second, Lisbon spun around again. "And I'm meeting Gabe for drinks this weekend."

Jane stared at her in a kind of despair. "I hope you know what you're doing."

She stared back. "I hope you know what you're doing." With that, she spun again and walked towards the elevators.

She didn't look back.

Jane watched her go helplessly. "Yeah," he murmured. "Me too."

xxx

The end

A/N2: Also, if people want December/January gift-fic, I'm still taking requests. If you would like a one-shot written for you, I need a prompt, and a pairing/character. For those of you who have requested fic, but haven't sent me a prompt, could you please do so ASAP so I can start thinking about them? Thanks.