Holiday fic of 2012, number 3. For Koah, Jane/Lisbon, Prompt: Opaque

I'm quite pleased that I managed to write something that didn't balloon in length.

Opaque

xxx

Ever since he returned (after Lorelei, the first time), she's been different.

He didn't notice at first. Maybe his pleasure (and relief) prevented him.

But she's changed.

Lisbon has changed (Teresa Lisbon!). She's changed, and she hasn't. In some ways she's exactly the same.

But there is one fundamental difference. It's subtle, but it's there. And Jane's almost ashamed at how long it took for him to notice it.

She can lie to him now.

She can lie to him, and when she lies, he believes her.

Or maybe he just doesn't notice. But that amounts to the same thing.

Like when she promised (she promised) that she wouldn't listen in on his conversation with Lorelei.

She promised. And he took her at her word.

And she lied.

(Maybe he deserved it.)

x

He didn't see the changes. Doesn't know what she's thinking now.

He's not sure how she feels about any of it.

He tells her one evening that she would never have arrested him for breaking Lorelei out of jail, even if she'd had any proof that he was guilty. He tried to look confident. But maybe, maybe this time, he's the one who's bluffing.

Maybe she would have.

Somewhere along the way, he's become unsure. Of her.

It's a bit of a new feeling, and not one he likes.

He may have pushed too far. She's pushing him out.

Volker proves that.

(She didn't even tell him she'd been threatened. He had to hear about it from Cho.)

He feels separate.

And now she has her new friend from Homeland Security. The one she smiles at and tells things to.

Jane scowls. After all, that guy could be anybody. He could be... He could be Red John.

Not that Lisbon cares.

(Except that maybe she does. Probably... Likely... It's complicated.)

x

It's something small.

But it makes a difference (to him).

She's trying to smooth feathers he's ruffled.

He's watching carefully, even as he pretends not to.

Because what if this is the time she really does leave him, let someone else fix it?

But instead, he watches her lie to the local sheriff. Or maybe she's just stretching the truth, reframing it. That's probably what she'd say. If he asked her. (He's not going to; it's part of their unspoken agreement.)

He watches her get him out of trouble. (All of the really, but mostly him.)

And suddenly he knows exactly what she's thinking.

(Oh, don't you worry. I'll kill Jane later sheriff, when you're not here to watch me.)

Jane smiles in relief as he watches her walk towards him, doing her level best not to scowl. As she passes by, his fingers flitter against her elbow, as he hands her a coffee with his other hand. Large, no cream, but two sugars. She's been trying to drink it black lately. But when she's stressed, she gives up the fight. She ignores the voice in her head telling her that the sugar isn't good for her.

Because she needs it.

He watches her eyebrows quirk up in surprise when she tastes the sweetness underneath the bitterness of her coffee (just as he knew they would).

He grins.

She tries not to look pleased.

But he catches her out easily, sees it in the corners of her features, clear as day.

Maybe not so opaque anymore.

Not quite.

Not always.

Not yet.

But who knows for how much longer.

(Maybe he'll have to start paying better attention...)

xxx

The end