Red in Tooth - Epilogue

By Thalia Drogna

Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who has stuck with this and for letting me play in your fandom. I'm pleased with how it turned out in the end, especially for my first Mentalist fic. This is something of an indulgent recovery epilogue. I hope you enjoy it.

Lisbon found herself spending a lot of time at the hospital over the next few days as Jane's condition slowly improved. She didn't spend the night again after that first time in the uncomfortable chair. Van Pelt had filled in for her after they'd arrested Lois Birchley and shot Jonathan Barnes, but as Jane's condition improved he seemed to lose some of the early neediness for her continued presence that he'd displayed at first.

Talavera was able to stop administering the antivenin on the third day, it having cleared all the remaining snake toxins from his bloodstream. That meant that she was also able to step back on the corticosteroids but Jane was still on a fairly high dosage of pain medication, and it seemed that it was the opioids that were affecting his ability to focus his eyes. They were also most likely responsible for his general sleepiness. And it wasn't until the end of the first week of Jane's hospital stay that Talavera thought he might be able to tolerate a change to a different family of painkillers. His leg was healing and the internal damage created by the venom hadn't worsened.

The change to the new painkillers signalled a return to a much more alert Jane, and a considerably more bored and belligerent patient. However although he was bored and awake more, he was also in more pain and it made him bad tempered, as well as increasingly depressed by his extended hospital stay. The entire team took turns to visit in an effort to keep their consultant from getting too disheartened, and to some extent it worked, although Jane probably would never have admitted it.

Lisbon brought him books and magazines, Van Pelt lent him her tablet and installed games on it, including a Sudoku program. Jane discovered "Angry Birds" and "Cut the Rope" when Rigsby pointed the games out during a visit, somewhat amazed that he'd never played them before. That kept him occupied for several hours before he got fed up with firing birds at green pigs and feeding monsters candy in increasingly elaborate ways. Cho attempted chess games a couple of time, but found the total mismatch of ability (Jane always won) too much to make it enjoyable for either of them.

Cho walked in to the hospital room with a bag of apples to find Jane staring up at the ceiling with a determined but clearly pained look on his face. He deposited the apples on the table at Jane's bedside.

"Hey, man. I brought you fruit. What's up?" asked Cho.

Jane forced a smile, and the very fact that Cho could tell it was forced worried him. Jane was so good at manipulating others that he almost never allowed anyone to see how he really felt, unless of course he wanted them to.

"Your turn for the daily pilgrimage to my bedside, Agent Cho?" said Jane, in a tone somewhere between pleased to see him, and incredibly weary.

Cho ignored the question as the answer was obvious. He asked one of his own instead, with a probably equally obvious answer. "Did they step your pain medication down again?"

"Yeah. The world is feeling very, uh, sharp today," replied Jane in a tired voice.

"If you're in pain then you should tell them," said Cho.

"It'll pass. I'd rather be off the medication," said Jane. "Even this new stuff interferes with my head and I've had enough of living in a drug induced daze."

"You're an idiot," said Cho tersely and pressed the call button to summon a member of staff. Jane actually failed to notice this, another sign that he just wasn't right. A nurse appeared a few moments later.

Cho indicated Jane with a gesture. "He's in pain. Can you give him something to supplement the IV?"

The nurse checked the chart. "I'll check with the doctor, just a moment and we'll see what we can do."

The nurse returned with Dr Talavera. She took one look at Jane and Cho knew that she wasn't happy to have found out this way that Jane was hurting.

"Patrick, you should have pressed the call button before now if the pain was getting bad," she admonished. Cho noted the use of the consultant's first name with interest.

Jane sighed. "Well, now that you're here…"

Talavera adjusted the IV so that it was giving Jane slightly more pain medication and the tight lines of discomfort on Jane's face immediately began to soften.

"Snake bite wounds are very painful and you need the right level of medication so that you can rest and heal," said Talavera.

"What I need is to get out of this sterile, insipidly dull room," replied Jane.

"You can't rush things. Your body will take its own time to get better and trying to force it into things that it isn't ready for won't help you get out of here any faster," replied Talavera.

Lisbon chose that moment to also arrive to visit Jane, and caught the end of the conversation. "What's he done now?"

"He didn't tell them that the decreased pain medication wasn't working," said Cho.

Lisbon scowled. "I didn't take you for a masochist. Listen to the nice doctor, she knows what she's talking about."

"I've had enough of this place," said Jane, an unattractive whine in his voice. "And staring at the same walls day and night for the last week and a half with nothing to do but read books and play puzzle games. I've catapulted so many small red birds at architecturally dubious structures that I'm seeing them in my sleep, and honestly I can't actually even remember what the birds are angry about any more."

"Well at least we know he's getting better," said Lisbon to Cho with more than a little resignation. Cho was unimpressed by Jane's complaints.

"You're still on dialysis," pointed out Cho. "You can't leave until you can be unhooked from all the machines that are keeping you alive."

Talavera nodded. "It should only be another couple of days on the dialysis and then we can re-evaluate the leg wound and other damage from the snake venom. Hopefully we can get you home next week, although you'll probably need someone to help you out in the house."

Jane's face fell even further if that was possible. "I don't really have a house at the moment. Well, I do but it's in Malibu and there isn't any furniture in it. I stay at a motel most of the time."

Cho was actually momentarily shocked by Jane giving this information away so easily to the Doctor, but then Talavera seemed to have some sort of strange bond with Jane. Both of them were relatives of Red John's victims, and it seemed to mean that Jane was actually willing to be slightly more open with her once in a while.

Talavera frowned. "I'm not sure that I'd want to discharge you to a motel at that point, especially on your own. We might be better off keeping you here for another week."

Jane looked utterly defeated by this statement.

"Hey, man, don't worry. We'll work something out," said Cho, already thinking.

Lisbon nodded. "Yeah, you can always stay with me."

Jane shook his head. "Lisbon, as charming as your offer is, you have a one bedroom apartment. I refuse to throw you out of your own bed and I doubt sleeping on your rather uncomfortable couch is going to help my condition at the moment. You're also out during the day solving crimes."

Cho wasn't entirely surprised by the answer, or by Lisbon's rapid assertion that she'd be happy on the uncomfortable couch. Jane refused to budge on the proposition though, both too proud and too private to accept such close proximity living.

"I'll just have to man up and stay here for the extra week," he added.

Talavera looked a little perplexed at this, but before she could probe further into what was preventing Jane from taking up Lisbon's offer, Cho spoke. "You can stay upstairs at CBI. It's practically where you live anyway."

Lisbon's eyes widened and her mouth opened just a little in surprise. Cho could tell that she was considering objecting, but her expression changed and mutated into one of agreement. There was a slow nod to her head, as she looked between Jane and Cho.

"You know that actually might just work, if we can keep it in the team. We can take shifts to make sure there's always someone to keep an eye on you and bring you food. We'll need to get you a proper bed, rather than that door on trestles you've been sleeping on, but I think we can swing that," said Lisbon.

A broad smile spread across Jane's face. "I like it. I can be free of this place, but you still get to feel like you're looking after me, thus fulfilling your need to believe that you're keeping me safe."

"Jane," said Lisbon, in a tone of warning. "I can just as easily leave you in Dr Talavera's care for the next two weeks."

Talavera actually smirked as she watched this exchange, and Cho realised that she was beginning to get a feel for how the team dynamic operated.

"Patrick's recovery will definitely be helped by not being in a hospital," said Talavera, the smirk fading somewhat. "Although I hope that there's a bathroom on the same floor, getting around is going to be difficult until your leg heals properly. You'll need to be resting and not working as well."

Lisbon nodded. "Yeah, it should be fine. There are bathrooms on all the floors at CBI, and I'll make sure he doesn't get involved in any cases too soon."

Cho also nodded, backing up Lisbon's statement. "We'll keep an eye on him."

Jane gave a roll of his eyes. "I won't be needing the babysitting service, I'm quite capable of knowing my own limits."

Cho just raised his eyebrows. "You tried to catch two murderers in the room down the hall from this one. Your condition was still listed as "serious" on your chart. I don't think you even have a passing acquaintance with your limits."

Lisbon laughed, but stopped when Jane glared at her. "He's right. So we'll be keeping an eye on you until you're back to full health. It's part of the deal Jane, so you're not getting out of here unless you agree to play ball."

Jane sighed with exaggeration. "Very well, but I want it noted that my plan worked. I didn't try to catch two murderers, I succeeded."

"Yes, but you nearly died in the process, so I'm not sure that you want to be reminding everyone just how close we came to attending your funeral instead of installing you in the attic," said Lisbon, in an even tone. She wasn't chastising Jane, she was just reminding him to be more careful in the future.

"I know," said Jane, and his tone was so flat and unlike him that neither CBI agent had the heart to take the conversation any further.

They changed the subject and chatted about office gossip, which Jane always pretended not to be interested in, but in reality loved. Talavera eventually left to make her rounds, and it was the end of visiting time before anyone realised it.

Jane's mood and patience improved considerably once he was given a date for leaving the hospital, and somewhere to go. However, on the day of his final discharge he was climbing the walls waiting for Lisbon to arrive and take him back to CBI. Lisbon had checked to make sure all was well that morning and he was expecting her at lunch time. He couldn't help but watch the seconds tick by until he could finally get out of this white walled prison for sick people – which he certainly no longer numbered himself amongst.

The appointed moment came and went. Lisbon was late. He sat on his bed, dressed in the suit that Lisbon had left him the previous day, looking like his date had stood him up. He received a text message from her on his phone a few minutes later. They had caught a murder case and therefore she'd had to go and examine the body at the site where it was found. She would get to him as soon as she could, but it might be a few hours.

Jane sighed. He texted back "understood", just the one word, because he didn't know what else to say. He did understand and work had to come first, but the disappointment was ridiculously crushing. He had been looking forwards to leaving and even a short delay was too much at this moment. He realised that this was an overreaction, but the weakness in his body was leading him to experience some very strange emotional twists at the moment. Although perhaps it was the drugs that Talavera still had him taking.

He regarded the crutches that sat at his bedside. He'd tried them out over the previous few days with varying degrees of success. Could he even use them well enough that he could make a break for it? He didn't know, but he was certainly going to try. He gently levered himself off the bed, using it to support himself enough that he could grab the crutches and get them positioned. He stood and wobbled for a few moments, getting used to standing with the crutches with the bed within reach in case he fell. He tried a couple of steps, tentative and slow, but he seemed stable enough. He allowed himself a smile for this small triumph.

He grabbed the bag that Lisbon had dropped off, which now contained the few personal items he'd arrived at the hospital with and a small pharmacy of drugs. Holding it made using the crutches difficult but if he left it behind then he'd be in trouble with both Lisbon and Talavera, something that he just couldn't face at the moment. It was bad enough that he was still sleeping a lot more than he would consider normal, and feeling weak from just walking the few steps that he had. His leg was now aching fiercely from the movement too.

He hobbled and shuffled out of his room and towards the front desk. He made a little bit of small talk with the nurses, left a note for Talavera, who was currently off shift, and asked one of the nurses to call him a cab. He took a seat in the waiting area, glad for the excuse to sit down again, and after few minutes the cab arrived.

He almost fell asleep in the cab on the way back to CBI, but the cabbie was kind enough to awaken him with the demand for the fare. He searched around in his belongings for his wallet only to realise that there wasn't enough cash in it to pay the fare. He sighed and went to borrow the required amount from the security guard on the gate, with a promise that Lisbon would reimburse him. He was racking up the black marks with her today and he hadn't even entered the building yet.

He successfully negotiated the exit from the cab with the crutches, and made it up the steps into the building. He nodded at a few people who said "hi" as he moved towards the elevator, but he mainly ignored people. He was mostly focussed on getting to the bull pen before his leg gave out somewhere public, which was becoming more likely with every agonising step. He hadn't ever walked this far on his crutches and he hadn't realised that it would take so much out of him.

He made it into the relative safety of the empty elevator where he allowed himself to lean against the wall and hit the button with the end of a crutch. The walls were cool against his sweaty forehead and he pretended that he didn't feel like crap, even though he did. The doors opened and quickly pulled himself into an upright position again. He steeled himself for more people to acknowledge his presence and the possibility that at least one of the team was still in the bull pen. He rounded the corner and almost ran into Rigsby, reading a file as he walked. That actually turned out to be just as well since he lost his balance and his bad leg was now so sore that it wouldn't take his weight even for a minute.

Rigsby's exasperated grunt of "Jane!" was both one of surprise at seeing him and exertion from stopping him from falling to the ground.

"What are you doing here?" asked Rigsby, crossly, as he helped Jane to the couch.

"This is where I'm supposed to be," replied Jane, breathing heavily.

"Not on your own. You were supposed to wait for Lisbon to come and pick you up," said Rigsby as he deposited Jane on the couch. "We don't have time to get you settled in right now, we're chasing a killer."

"I'll be fine here. I just need a glass of water to take my pain pills, and I'll be fine," repeated Jane, using his most pathetic tone, as he shrugged out of his jacket and gently stretched his legs out on the brown leather couch.

Rigsby sighed, putting the file down on the table and went to get the glass of water. By the time he came back Jane was already half asleep, but he had the pill bottle out and Rigsby shook out the required pills onto his hand. Jane downed them on autopilot with a mouthful of water, only because he knew he'd be woken by the pain if he didn't take them. As he happily drifted into proper sleep on his favourite couch, he heard Rigsby flipping open his phone and calling Lisbon, but didn't stay conscious long enough to hear what was said. He was certainly too far gone to notice Rigsby shaking out the blanket and throwing it over him.

Lisbon had not been pleased when Rigsby had called her to inform her that their consultant had decided to make his own way home from the hospital. This sort of exertion was exactly the kind of thing that he was supposed to be avoiding, and he wasn't even meant to be using the crutches yet, let alone hobbling home on them. When she arrived back in the office to find that she owed cab fare to the security guard on the gate, she was ready to kill Jane.

That was right up until she saw him sleeping on his sofa with a blanket draped over him. He actually looked happy for the first time in weeks and was sleeping, which he needed to do to heal, so she just couldn't maintain her anger. Some things just went against the laws of physics. Instead she organised her team and set them their tasks just as she would do for any murder investigation. Even having Jane asleep on the couch felt like being back to normal. Of course normally she'd be shouting at him to help out, but right now she'd prefer him to be lazy and take the time he needed to recover.

It was several hours before she saw any kind of movement from the couch at the end of the bull pen, save the gentle rise and fall of Jane's chest. She had set herself up at what was supposed to be Jane's desk, but he never actually used, so that she could keep an eye on him. To be honest the entire team had an eye on their sleeping consultant, and the other on what they were actually supposed to be doing. They were at the point of the case where research was needed, so they could all afford some time in the office at the moment.

Jane stirred in his sleep, but took his time coming to. Lisbon could tell by the way that he moved that his leg was aching again, but he wasn't due more pain medication for a little while yet. It had was something that she'd picked up during his two week stay in the hospital. Talavera had warned them that over exertion would lead to pain while his muscles healed, especially in the area of the bite where the muscles had been damaged most badly. He was due to start physio in the next few days so he could get back on his feet without the crutches, but Jane only had himself to blame for the discomfort he was now in.

Lisbon twisted in her seat so that she was facing Jane as he opened his eyes. He smiled as he saw her.

"Lisbon," he paused a moment, clearly taking in where he was, and slower than normal at covering it up. Once he'd worked out that he was back in the bull pen he relaxed just a little.

"Hey there," she said and just gave him a look which let him know that he was in trouble. "What are you doing on my couch? I was expecting to pick you up from the hospital. You couldn't wait a few hours?"

"Clearly I couldn't," replied Jane. "Staying a moment longer in that miserable place was simply not an option that I was willing to consider. Hospitals are for sick people and obviously I'm not sick, so I was not going to wait for you to finish whatever it was that you were doing."

"I was investigating a murder. You know, that thing we do in this office," replied Lisbon.

Jane waved a hand at Lisbon. "I'm sure the body would have waited for you." He began to push himself up into a sitting position and then started to reach for his crutches.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"I need to go to the little boys' room, Lisbon. Are you going to be like this until my leg has healed? Because I don't really want to have to report to you every time I feel the need to use the bathroom," said Jane.

Lisbon rolled her eyes. "You don't need my permission to pee, Jane. I'm just worried because Talavera told you to stay off your leg, and so far you've done a pretty good job of ignoring all her instructions. I bet you didn't even take all your pills before you crashed."

"I was tired," said Jane, a little defensively.

"Rigs, give him a hand to the bathroom. I'll get his medication sorted out and then we'll get him upstairs and into bed," said Lisbon, reaching for Jane's bag.

Jane managed to make it into a sitting position on his own, failing to hide the odd grimace from moving his leg. "I'd rather stay here for a while if it's all the same to you."

Lisbon looked up from her sorting of the pill bottles, and caught the look in his eye. It was definitely asking her to give in this one time. She sighed. "Okay, you can stay down here a bit longer, but you're not spending the night on your beloved couch. No trying to get up and get tea either, for now we'll bring you whatever you need."

Rigsby got himself positioned so that he could help Jane to stand on his good leg and then after getting him steady he helped position the crutches. He hovered beside him.

Jane grinned at being upright again. "Personal servants, I like that idea."

"Don't get too used to it," said Rigsby.

"But one of us will be staying the night in the building, every night, until you're more mobile," Lisbon pointed out.

"Well the illusion of independence was nice while it lasted," said Jane, as Rigsby continued to hover around him as he lolloped towards the toilets.

By the time Jane returned, Lisbon had his medication laid out in order and had shaken out the required pills onto the lid of one of the larger bottles. She handed Jane a glass of water and deposited the pills in his palm once he was sat on the couch again.

"This is truly touching, but I don't need your mother hen routine, or for you to sort out my medication for me. Vicky wrote everything down for me and took me through all the pills and their potential side effects twice," said Jane. "I also have an excellent memory, which it seems you've forgotten."

"Then start proving that you're actually capable of taking care of yourself, otherwise I'll get Cho to bring Talavera down here and you can explain to her why you're being an idiot in person," said Lisbon, brusquely.

"If it will make you feel better, I promise to try to be more careful with my leg," replied Jane, his demeanour softening slightly. Perhaps he had worked out that Lisbon was deadly serious about looking after him. She was determined that he was going to have a smooth recovery.

Lisbon nodded. "Okay. I'll remind you of that when you inevitably want to do something stupid."

Jane threw the handful of pills into his mouth all at once and then drank half the glass of water to wash them down.

"Are you hungry?" Lisbon asked.

Jane gave a shrug, but then nodded. "I could eat. And if you could rustle me up a cup of tea that would be good. Just don't let Rigsby make it."

"Hey!" said Rigsby indignantly, as he returned to his desk. "I did exactly what you said."

"I'll make the tea," said Lisbon to forestall an argument. "Van Pelt can you organise some food?"

"Sure boss," replied the young agent, already reaching for the take out menus.

Lisbon wandered out of the bull pen to the kitchen, listening to the sounds of Patrick Jane interacting teasingly with the rest of the team as they decided what to eat. Things weren't quite back to normal but they were certainly getting there. Although she was just beginning to get some idea of what having a recovering Jane around the place was going to be like. She wouldn't change things for the world at the moment though.

Nothing where Jane was concerned was ever easy. He complained a lot about what he considered to be fussing and everyone else just considered to be common sense when dealing with someone of limited mobility.

Jane's attic room had been set up with a proper bed for, admittedly it wasn't a particularly deluxe bed, just a basic metal frame, but it would do for now. A mattress had also been added on the floor for whoever was on the overnight shift. The idea was that someone would sleep in the same room as Jane, so that they were on hand if required. Jane had initially protested at this, but had been unanimously overruled by his team. No one wanted Jane to take a fall and be stuck on a cold floor all night.

Lisbon took the overnight shift on the first day after he came "home" from the hospital. Jane woke her twice during the night, once because he wanted to go to the bathroom and a second time because he was having a nightmare. Lisbon gently roused him from the nightmare, not bothering to ask what it was about. He seemed to be somewhere else and she didn't think he actually recognised her. They settled back into sleep until the morning. She wasn't even sure that Jane had really woken at all and when she questioned him in the light of the morning sun, he didn't actually remember it.

Subsequent nights brought reports of similar incidents from the other team members. Cho had a particularly bad night a couple of days later, with three nightmares waking them both and Jane being confused and scared by one particularly bad one. Cho seemed to have done the right things and calmed Jane down, but the last of the three took over an hour for Jane to come back from. Both of them looked worn the next morning and Jane spent almost the entire day asleep on the couch, leaving the bull pen unusually quiet.

The following night Lisbon decided to broach the subject with him, since it was her turn again. She waited until she'd got him into bed and then sat on her own mattress and began questioning.

"How long have you had nightmares like this for?"

"Nightmares?" asked Jane, innocently.

"Yes, nightmares, Jane. Everyone has told me that you've had them these last few days, so there's not point trying to bluff it out with me. Is this something which is always this bad or has the snake bite made it worse?"

Jane was clearly not meeting her eyes on purpose. "I've had them ever since…" he waved a hand and she knew what he hadn't said. Ever since Red John murdered his wife and child. "Sometimes they're worse than others. Before my hospital stay they hadn't made much of an appearance for a while, just the odd night here and there. In hospital, it was every night, sometimes more than once. You were there for some of it…"

Lisbon nodded. "Don't you think you should see someone about it? It can't be much fun, and then you're sleep deprived the next day."

"Usually there's a trigger, and as I said it hasn't been this bad for some time. Talking about it would probably make it worse not better and sleeping pills can't be used long term without unacceptable side effects." He finally turned a little to look at Lisbon. "It'll improve, just like it did before. Until then, I'm sorry for disturbing your sleep."

"You don't need to be sorry. Maybe next time you fall asleep on the couch during the day I'll be more inclined not to wake you."

Jane smiled. "Every cloud has a silver lining."

"Do you know what set you off this time?" she asked, gently.

Jane shrugged. "It could have been the hospital itself, or watching my blood in tubes during dialysis. Sometimes a lot of blood at a crime scene triggers a flashback, at least it used to. It may just be that some of the medication that I'm taking is messing with my REM sleep. I don't know. Like I said, it got better before, so I have every reason to believe that it will this time."

Jane wouldn't say much more on the subject, so she gave up. Everyone just did their best to deal with Jane's nightmares as quickly and sensitively as possible when they were on shift.

Jane spent two more weeks recovering, either on the couch in the bull pen or in his attic room. Finally he began to sleep better when Talavera stopped his pain medication (apparently it had mostly been the pills interfering with his sleep) and his nightly watchman service was no longer necessary from a mobility point of view.

He wanted to get back to work far earlier that Lisbon felt happy with agreeing to, which surprised her a little, but of course eventually she had to give in. Once Jane was using a walking stick rather than the crutches, she let him loose on crime scenes again. This led to a memorable incident where Jane used his walking stick to trip up an escaping suspect. She'd actually been pleasantly surprised by his input in the case that day, and Rigsby had thanked him with an extra slice of case-closed-pizza for meaning that he didn't have to run after another suspect.

Lisbon hadn't been entirely certain that he was ready for such exertions, but this seemed to prove that he was, at least in spirit if not in body. He still slept more than was normal for him, but even that improved as the days passed. Talavera had been making regular trips to the office, but they were now few and far between. She almost missed the dark haired doctor, who seemed to be the only medical professional whose opinion Jane took seriously.

Lisbon walked into the office one morning to find Jane making tea in the break room without even his walking stick at his side. He'd been doing his best to leave it behind at crime scenes and suspects' houses for days. It was early, in fact far too early for Jane to normally have made it in from the motel that he'd been staying at since officially moving out of the attic. She'd bet money that he'd slept on his sofa or in the attic, amongst his Red John photos and cuttings, last night. The rest of the team hadn't got in yet, in fact very few people were even in the building at this time of the morning.

"Hey, no walking stick," she said, as he dunked his tea bag in his favourite blue cup.

"No, I haven't really needed it for a while now, but it was a useful prop for the Jones case," he said. He'd made out that he was shot in the line of duty so that their suspect, an ex-policeman, identified with his story. It had worked and he'd got a confession out of him easily.

"Are you sure? Talavera was pretty clear that you were to use it until the weakness was gone completely," said Lisbon.

"It's fine, Teresa," said Jane, throwing the tea bag in the trash. "My leg is fine and I'm fine."

She watched his gait carefully, and she had to admit that he showed no signs of the limp that he'd initially displayed. Then she realised that he'd called her Teresa, and she knew he only kept that for the moments when he was serious.

She turned back to her own coffee creation. "You do seem better. At least your leg is anyway. The rest of you? I've never really known."

"I think you have, otherwise I'd never have got this far," replied Jane, slightly cryptically. "But this is all rather serious for this time of the morning. I was rather hoping that you could help me out with something."

Lisbon frowned. Where Jane was concerned, helping him usually led to trouble.

Jane obviously saw her expression because he continued. "Don't worry, this is a personal request rather than a work related one. I've decided that I need to buy an apartment in Sacramento. All this hiding out in attics has been fun, but clearly it has ramifications that I hadn't really considered. It would be cheaper than all these motels and more convenient as well."

Lisbon knew that there were several reasons why it had taken Jane five years to consider buying an apartment in Sacramento and none of them had anything to do with money or convenience. As far as she'd been able to ascertain it was a combination of not wanting to let go of the life that he'd had, self-flagellation with the reminder of what Red John had done because of him, and perhaps some strange idea that he was forgetting his wife and child if he actually began to move on with his life.

"That sounds like a good idea," she said, not wanting to seem overenthusiastic and perhaps destroy this fragile progress that he was making by giving him a reason to go back on the suggestion. "How can I help?"

"I need a second opinion," he said. "I've got some viewings lined up, but it's been a while since I was in the market for property. I can go alone but it would really help…"

Lisbon was already nodding. "Not a problem, just tell me when and where."

Jane sipped his tea. "Of course. I have the details on my desk, I'll text you."

They stood, making and drinking their respective hot drinks in companionable silence for a few moments. Lisbon never would have guessed that getting bitten by a snake might actually have a good outcome for Jane and she wondered why he'd really decided to look for an apartment now. That question was answered almost immediately when they returned to the bull pen and found Rigsby depositing a stack of real estate details on Jane's desk.

"Hey there, man," said Rigsby. "I talked to my cousin and he thinks now is a really good time to buy."

Cho entered a few minutes later and also joined in the conversation with his own recommendations about apartments. Van Pelt added her opinions when she showed up and Lisbon realised that five years ago, when a haunted, fragile looking Patrick Jane had refused to leave until he could see the Red John files, this wouldn't have been possible. No one had been around then to wake him from nightmares or stop him from falling.

He had something now that he'd lost on the day Red John struck. He had a reason to stay in one place and call it home. He had a family again. Perhaps it had taken a snake bite for them all to realise it.

Lisbon just smiled to herself as she watched her dysfunctional family discuss real estate options for Jane. It was all so pleasingly mundane and normal. It was also rare that she started her day feeling this good about something that Jane had done, so she savoured it before getting back to work. They still had killers to catch after all.