Holiday fic gift #6. This one's for Frogster. The prompt was essentially, what if Lisbon was the first to find Lorelei again? I have to say, it's an interesting dynamic, at least, it has the potential to be interesting. I really enjoyed writing this one.
My enemy's enemy
"Fancy meeting you here."
Lorelei looked up in surprise. She briefly considered pretending she didn't know the woman standing next to her.
Lisbon had obviously anticipated her plan. "Save it, we both know it won't work." She pulled out the chair across the table from Lorelei Martins without hesitation. They were in a little family-owned restaurant in the middle of nowhere, California. Not a bad place to hide out, all things considered. Certainly, none of the other patrons had given them a second glance. "Don't bother trying to run either, because I'd really hate to have to tackle you. And I can have a two kilometre roadblock surrounding this place with one phone call," Lisbon added, holding up her phone.
Lorelei leaned back in her chair, curious as to what the other woman wanted, and wondering why she hadn't simply ordered the police to pick her up in the first place. Obviously Teresa Lisbon had a reason for this little chat. Lorelei wondered what her consultant thought of that. "Where's Patrick?"
Lisbon sat down across from the woman she'd been secretly trying to find for weeks. "In Sacramento," she said bluntly.
Lorelei raised an eyebrow, surprised. "He's not with you?"
"Nope." Lisbon admitted. She didn't elaborate.
But Lorelei could fill in some of the gaps herself. "Which means he doesn't know you're here. Interesting."
Lisbon didn't reply.
Lorelei smirked. She figured it was probably in her best interests to at least find out what the other woman wanted. She really had nothing to lose at this point anyway. "So, Agent Lisbon, what do you want?"
"I want to talk," Lisbon said bluntly.
Lorelei nodded. "About Red John."
"Among other things," Lisbon admitted. The serial killer was going to be a key part of their discussion, but not the only part. And Lisbon knew that she had to tread carefully.
"And why should I talk to you?" Lorelei wondered. Just because she had nowhere else to go, didn't mean the conversation was worth it. Worst case scenario, she could stay silent and wait for either Patrick or Red John to help her again.
"I think we might be able to help each other," Lisbon explained.
The tactic wasn't surprising, but Lorelei wasn't sure what the other woman thought she could possibly give. "Really?"
"Yes," Lisbon nodded, doing her best to hide her nerves. She knew this was a risk..
Lorelei frowned. The other woman was calm, and almost confident. It didn't make any sense. Why was she here? And where on earth was Patrick? Why didn't he know about this? "Why you specifically? After all, if I want to give up Red John, the FBI's indicated their willingness to listen more than once."
This time it was Lisbon's turn to ask the questions. "And you trust them?"
Lisbon almost sighed in relief. It was what she'd been counting on. "Exactly."
"Not all of them," Lorelei admitted grudgingly. It would be pointless not to at this point. And she was nowhere near ready to completely concede. Not yet. "But that doesn't mean I trust you either."
"You probably don't." Lisbon agreed with a shrug. That didn't bother her. "But I'm also betting I'm one of the few people on the planet you're sure isn't directly connected to Red John's network somehow."
Lorelei paused. The other woman had a point. "I'm connected to Red John's network, more than that. I'm in it up to my neck."
"Do you want to be?" Lisbon asked gently. "Even still?"
Lorelei bit her lip and looked away. Ah. So this was Lisbon's tactic. "You know," she said hollowly. Of course the woman did. She wasn't a fool, and Patrick would have filled her in.
"I'm sorry," Lisbon said softly. She couldn't agree with Lorelei's choices, but there was no denying that some truly horrific things had happened to her over the years.
Lorelei looked over at her, annoyed to see a kind of understanding in the other woman's eyes. "What?" she asked almost angrily. "No speech about how with my help we can catch the man who raped and killed my sister and make him pay?"
"Actually, I meant I was sorry because I met your mother," Lisbon said dryly.
To her surprise, Lorelei laughed.
Lisbon allowed herself a small smile before turning more serious. "A speech won't make it all better, won't fix it."
"You're not really helping your case here, Agent Lisbon," Lorelei said derisively.
Lisbon almost smiled again. "You don't even know what my case is yet."
"Revenge isn't part of it?" Lorelei wondered.
The answer to that question quick. "No."
Lorelei leaned forward, genuinely intrigued in spite of herself. She'd always assumed... "I thought maybe it would be, all these years of working with Patrick."
"No," Lisbon said again. If there was one thing she was sure of, it was that doing this or revenge was a bad idea.
Lorelei leaned back in her chair again, considering the woman across from her in another light. "Interesting."
"Are you really out for revenge?" Lisbon asked.
Lorelei hesitated. "What if I am?"
"I don't think you are," Lisbon said softly. "I think you just want out, period. Of all of it."
Lorelei's eyes narrowed. The woman was more perceptive than she'd expected. Probably more perceptive than most people gave her credit for. "And you can give that to me."
"Maybe," Lisbon said slowly.
"I'm not going to lie to you," Lisbon admitted. She couldn't guarantee the other woman's safety. No one could. Not when the danger was Red John. All that she could do was her absolute best to keep her safe.
"You're not?" Lorelei wondered, her voice containing a barely discernible quiver. She had no real reason to believe the woman sitting across from her, but for some reason she thought she might.
"No." Lisbon confirmed. "That's what I bring to the table."
"I'm not sure I follow why that's important enough that I'd risk my life helping you catch Red John," Lorelei observed, determined to maintain some control over the situation.
"You've been dealing with men and manipulated by them for most of your life," Lisbon pointed out. It was the one thing that stood out in Lorelei's recent history. "I thought you might like to try a more female-focused approach."
Lorelei smirked. "The solidarity card? Really? That's the argument you're going with?"
"Not exactly; it's more that I'm telling you the truth," Lisbon explained. "And I'm not physically attracted to you, so I won't be using you for that."
"One might argue that means I lose one of my best assets," Lorelei countered. Men could be awfully predictable about that sort of thing.
Now it was Lisbon's turn to look skeptical. "You really think that's all you are?"
Her question annoyed Lorelei. "Did I say that?" she bit out.
"Maybe inadvertently," Lisbon replied.
Lorelei scowled. "Now who's being manipulative?"
Lisbon smiled. Being honest was one thing, but she was also going to take advantage of every opportunity that came her way. "You know I have an agenda."
"I do, but I don't know what it is," Lorelei admitted. She assumed getting rid of Red John was part of it, but beyond that... If only Patrick had come. His motives she could understand. But maybe he was behind this. "And I don't know who's pulling the strings."
"So I'm a challenge," Lisbon replied.
Lorelei smiled. The other woman was that. Lorelei couldn't make up her mind whether Teresa Lisbon was extremely clever, or extremely desperate. Maybe both. She was certainly hard to pin down. "Oh, I can see why he likes you."
"Who?" Lisbon asked, trying to sound innocent.
"You know who," Lorelei chided.
Lisbon lifted her chin slightly in defiance, determined to tread carefully. "I've found myself the interest of more than one person in my time, whether as friend or murder target."
Lorelei shrugged. "Sorry about that."
"No you're not," Lisbon countered.
"No, not particularly," Lorelei admitted easily. "Although, I have nothing against you personally, Teresa, and neither does Red John."
"Well, that's nice to hear, I guess," Lisbon muttered.
In the brief pause that followed, Lorelei gave in and asked the question she'd been wondering since the other woman had sat down. "So, how did you find me?"
"I'm an investigator. This is what I do for a living," Lisbon replied.
Lorelei raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you supposed to be trying to build trust?"
Lisbon smiled. "Actually, I said I wasn't going to lie to you."
Lorelei continued to stare.
"Would such an obvious manipulation really work on you?" Lisbon asked after a moment. She'd assumed all the obvious tricks cops used in interrogation would be useless in this case. And she knew that her chances of building a genuine rapport with Lorelei Martins were slim to none at this point. Maybe with time, but...
Lorelei smiled again. "No, but I'd appreciate the effort."
Lisbon leaned back in her chair and told the truth, or an abbreviated version of it. "I tried to think of what I'd do, if I was trying to avoid the police, and Patrick Jane."
"The second one's trickier," Lorelei said. "No offence."
"None taken," Lisbon assured her. "There's a reason I'm allowed to work with him."
"Plus you like him," Lorelei said slyly, fishing for information.
Lisbon answered easily. "I do." There was no point in denying it, after all. She and Jane had worked alongside each other for years. They were friends. Jane had admitted it himself.
"How much?" Lorelei wondered.
But that Lisbon absolutely wasn't going to get into. "Enough."
Lorelei almost laughed. "Very specific."
"Enough to know that I don't want him to do this the way he's trying to do it," Lisbon admitted after a moment. That was the key point really. Anything else was irrelevant.
"Maybe that's what he needs," Lorelei suggested. After all, she didn't care about the law one way or another. She had no duty to preach its precepts. She was free of that sort of thing, free to do what gave her peace. Maybe his quest was the only thing that could do that for Patrick.
"Maybe he doesn't know what he needs," Lisbon muttered.
Sensing a chink her companion's armour, Lorelei exploited it to find some answers. "And that's your call?"
"Maybe it's something I need to try and stop then," Lisbon admitted. It was true. She was going to do what she could to prevent Jane from destroying himself, from destroying them all really.
"And you think I'll help you?" Lorelei wondered.
"I do," Lisbon confirmed, glad to be back on firmer ground. This was why she'd come here after all. "I think you want Red John taken down, but you need an ally to help you, someone you know you can trust, or at least someone who won't come with strings attached."
"I'm beginning to think the man you call Red John needs to go," Lorelei said. It pained her to say it, but, much as she agreed with some of his theories, after finding out about her sister... A man who would do that... "Before, when I was with him, I thought… Anyway, no one should have that much power."
"I agree," Lisbon said, trying to keep her relief mostly internal.
"And he won't leave me alone forever," Lorelei admitted. There was only so long she could run. If he wanted to find her, he would.
Lisbon had come to the same conclusion, "Probably not."
"He'll find me eventually, if he wants to." Lorelei swallowed. She had no idea if she'd be forgiven, or simply killed.
"I've seen how resourceful he can be," Lisbon reminded the other woman. Lorelei would eventually either have to re-submit to the serial killer's will, or she'd disappear. Really disappear this time.
"Patrick's just as clever," Lorelei pointed out, internally cursing her fascination with manipulative men. "They're a lot alike, you know. Or they could be."
"And if Jane catches Red John and kills him, do you think that will make him more like Red John, or less?" Lisbon asked quietly.
Lorelei stared at her. Suddenly it all made sense. "That's your agenda?"
Lisbon nodded. "Part of it."
Lorelei continued to stare. "You want to stop…"
"What's the good of catching one monster if you create another in the process?" Lisbon asked, her tone full of conviction.
"You think it could come to that?" Lorelei whispered, but she already knew the answer.
Lisbon's eyes turned hard. "I know it could. And so do you." She took a deep breath and reminded herself why she was sitting here. "But I also know it's not there yet. I'm trying to make sure it never gets there."
Lorelei suddenly understood, possibly more than Lisbon wanted her to. "That's why Patrick's not here with you."
"He's taken a very specific approach to Red John," Lisbon said tactfully. "He thinks it's the only way."
"You don't agree with him?" Lorelei wondered.
Lisbon hesitated. "I worry about what else the means he uses to achieve his end will result in. And I think there has to be an alternative." Really, having seen the insane light behind Jane's eyes one too many times when he talked about Red John, and the way he'd casually manipulated people to their deaths, any alternative was preferable at this point.
"It's risky," Lorelei pointed out. She didn't entirely trust the other woman, and she knew the feeling was more than mutual. Then there was the danger of Red John or Jane getting in their way...
"I know," Lisbon admitted.
"For both of us," Lorelei emphasized.
"I know," Lisbon admitted again. It was the one thing that made her plan possible. They both had a lot to lose if it went wrong, but they both had a lot to gain.
"And you're really not going to promise to keep me safe?" Lorelei double-checked.
Lisbon didn't falter. "I'll promise to do my best."
Her answer was surprising. "You're still not lying to me."
"Lorelei, when you decided you didn't want to work for Red John anymore, why didn't you find Jane and tell him that right away?" Lisbon asked.
This time it was Lorelei's turn to hesitate slightly. "I… I hadn't gotten around to it."
Lisbon shook her head. She knew that wasn't true. She had her own theory about what was going on. Lorelei Martins may not have been in love with Jane, but Lisbon was fairly confident the woman was fond of him. He had that effect on people. But she was also frightened of him, in a way. "Here's what I think. I think that you don't want to get caught up with him. You said it yourself, Jane and Red John are very much alike. I think that, having been involved with one of them, you don't want to move from one powerful, manipulative man to another. And I think you know exactly what this obsessive quest for Red John could end up doing to Jane."
Lorelei swallowed. Definitely more perceptive than she'd given her credit for. "So instead, I should be caught up with you."
Lisbon smirked. "I told you, I don't want you. No offence."
"You don't want me," Lorelei said, her voice surprised. It shouldn't have felt as good as it did.
"I also told you that I think you should to listen to me," Lisbon added.
"So I give you Red John, and then I'm free to go?" Lorelei double-checked. No way was she going to stick her neck out, only to end up in prison again. "All charges dropped?"
Lisbon looked almost amused by the question. "As I understand it, the most serious charges against you revolve around your association to Red John, and that pesky little matter of plotting to kill a law enforcement professional. CBI Agent, I believe. Now, what was her name…"
"Very funny." Lorelei groused, finding herself smiling anyway.
"Help us get Red John and those first charges go away," Lisbon said, laying some of her cards on the table. "And I can get rid of the second ones in about thirty seconds, if I want to."
Lorelei paused. "How do I know you're not lying to me?"
"I've been told I'm a terrible liar," Lisbon said truthfully.
Lorelei considered that. "I bet you can be better than some people think."
"But why would I lie about this?" Lisbon asked. "I suppose I could be about to take you directly to the FBI, but that wouldn't really help me. Unless you think I'm working with Red John."
Lorelei frowned. The other woman had a point. She had absolutely no good reason to lie. Unless she was doing it for her own career, but she didn't strike Lorelei as a careerist. None of Lisbon's actions in the past indicated that at least. Quite the opposite. "No, you were right. I don't think that."
"Good. Which only leaves Jane," Lisbon said. She supposed she could be working with her consultant as some sort of scheme. "It's true, I could be secretly working with Jane to catch Red John, but would that change things all that much?"
Lorelei shook her head. If she had to get caught, she supposed ending up back with Patrick was better than Red John. She refused to go back to the bed of the man who'd killed her sister. "I guess not. I always knew I'd have to talk to him eventually. I didn't think there would be anyone else."
"I'm your third option," Lisbon said. She knew she wasn't ideal, but she was better than the alternatives. At least that was what she was counting on.
"Maybe you are." Lorelei stared at the woman across from her. It hadn't been an option that had occurred to her before. She wondered who else it wouldn't occur to. Maybe that was something that would help them.
Lisbon tried not to blink under the other woman's scrutiny.
After a minute, Lorelei gave in. Maybe it was time to try something new. After all, things couldn't get much worse. "Well, you may as well go ahead and call your friends."
"Really?" Lisbon asked, surprised. She hadn't really expected compliance from the other woman. Now she just had to worry about what Jane would do when she found out. And he would find out and soon. Lorelei was back in CBI custody after all. And Jane wasn't going to have access to her. Not this time.
Lorelei shrugged. "This could end in a disaster, but you're right, it's better than the alternatives. And if it works, I get to go back to my name."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Lisbon replied.
But Lorelei had agreed to try; she hadn't agreed to be optimistic about the outcome. Still, this was the best chance she had at protecting herself. "You forget, I actually know Red John."
"I haven't forgotten, though I'm not all that upset to have missed out on that pleasure," Lisbon said.
Lorelei smirked, deciding to enjoy dropping a little bombshell. "Actually, you've met him too."
Lisbon sighed. "I was afraid of that."
"You're not calling your colleagues." Lorelei asked curiously. The Agent's phone hadn't left the table.
Lisbon looked over, eyes twinkling. "Oh, I called them before I sat down. They're on their way."
Lorelei winced. She should have seen that coming. The other woman had promised her a tackle if she'd tried to leave. "So much for not lying to me."
"I didn't lie to you," Lisbon justified. "I never said I hadn't already called them, and you never asked. I couldn't risk you getting away if you refused to talk to me."
Lorelei decided to concede the point. "I guess you didn't actually lie. You just have your own agenda."
"I told you I did," Lisbon reminded her. "It's just a different one than you're used to. And I also told you that I really didn't feel like tackling you."
Lorelei nodded once. "So now what?"
"Now, I guess we see whether we really do have a common interest," Lisbon said. The faster they put things in motion, the better (for both of them).
"If I do decide to help you, it won't be for you," Lorelei warned.
"I assumed that."
"It'll be for me," Lorelei insisted. She was going to get herself away from Red John, and Jane, and... all of them.
"Good," Lisbon nodded. That was better than either of the alternatives.
"Course, you aren't doing this for you either, are you?" Lorelei observed.
Lisbon didn't bother denying it. They both knew why she was doing this. Still, she tried to hedge a little, "I'm a cop. It's my job. I protect the public."
"And your team," Lorelei pressed.
"Them too," Lisbon agreed.
Lorelei watched her for a moment. "Agent Lisbon, you might be the first person I've spoken to in a long time who I don't feel has an ulterior motive they're not admitting to."
"Yeah, I told you mine upfront," Lisbon joked. "So, do you want to wait for the uniforms to get here, or do you want to ride back with me."
"You gonna handcuff me?" Lorelei asked.
"It's procedure." Lisbon informed her.
Lorelei almost rolled her eyes. Of course it was. "I'll still ride with you."
"Good," Lisbon said, taking that as a good sign. They still had a lot to talk about after all. Not for the first time, she wondered what she was getting herself into. Still, it was better than nothing. It was better than a bruised and blood Jane alone in the attic, his eyes lit by a crazy fire. "I can wait until we're outside to put the handcuffs on if you like."
"I'd appreciate that," Lorelei said sincerely.
The two women stood.
"He might never forgive you for this." Lorelei observed conversationally.
Lisbon bit her lip. "I know."
The conviction in the other woman's tone caught Lorelei's attention. "I thought you'd care more about that."
"If this works, he'll still be alive," Lisbon reminded her.
Lorelei watched her for a minute. "Probably."
"Probably," Lisbon agreed.
Lorelei put some money on the table to pay for her drinks. "Do you love him?"
"What?" Lisbon asked, startled.
Lorelei smiled a knowing smile. If she was going to do this, she was at least going to have a little fun. "You said you wouldn't lie to me. Do you love him?"
Lisbon stalled. "I don't want to watch him become a monster."
"I don't either, now that I think about it. I like Patrick. He's not so bad, and he has potential to be better," Lorelei admitted easily. "I don't love him."
Lisbon glanced away. "He's on my team. I care about him."
Lorelei smiled. Ah. There it was. Interesting. In a way, she really was a terrible liar. "Teresa…"
"I don't know," Lisbon answered eventually.
"He loves you," Lorelei told the other woman. Of that she was sure. After all, she'd seen Jane's face when she'd asked him to kill his boss.
Lisbon clenched her jaw before forcing herself to relax. "Maybe he thinks he does."
Lorelei didn't bother correcting her. There was no point. "Maybe it'll mean he forgives you."
"Maybe it'll mean he hates me more," Lisbon countered. She knew there would be hell to pay when Jane found out she'd gone behind his back on something related to Red John. She told herself she didn't care.
"Well," Lorelei said with a wry grin. "Let's find out."
Lisbon sighed as she opened the back door of her SUV for her passenger. "Buckle up."
They were going to be in for one hell of a ride.
A/N: So, I have decided, I would really enjoy something like this. It won't happen, but it would be kind of awesome, in a way.