A/N: Well, it's Christmas Eve (technically) where I am now, so I'm posting this. My intention was always to post this request around Christmas as it was the only one that had anything directly to do with Christmas. I hope everyone enjoys it. Merry Christmas!
Also, I feel like I'm developing some sort of unofficial Christmas tradition, where I now write some form of (nearly completely) fluffy Christmas fic. Well, this is this year's! Although, I find it's a bit of a hodgepodge of a story, to be honest. For All-I-Need (holiday request #9), who prompted: Jane/Lisbon - Jane decides to decorate Lisbon's apartment without asking her (with possible mistletoe). The prompt also includes the quote below.
"Friendship is like a Christmas tree, decorated with warm memories and shared joys, and you are the slightly cracked ornament that always makes me smile." - Unknown
Lisbon leaned against the wall next to her door as she fished through her jacket pocket for her keys. It had been a long day. A very long day, and a case that had felt like it would never end. She was just thankful it was finally over, and that she had the next two days off. She really hadn't been in the mood for a murder case dragging over Christmas, and she'd been less in the mood to tell her team that they had to deal with one. A nick of time resolution (courtesy of Jane), had been just what everybody needed.
Lisbon had wondered if Jane had waited until the last possible second to solve their case because he'd been dreading the holidays alone and so had been trying to keep people around as long as possible. She hadn't mentioned it, of course. Particularly since, knowing Jane, it was entirely possible he'd delayed the reveal to make it seem more impressive when he did tell everyone what he knew.
Lisbon sighed again. She wasn't going to think about murder any more. She may not have been going back east for Christmas, but she wasn't working either. She leaned her head against the wall as she put her key in the lock. Then she froze. She could swear she heard music, Christmas music coming from her condo.
Her right hand instinctively went for her gun. Okay, it was maybe a long shot, but rapists and killers had used stranger tactics to lure a woman into their traps. Well, Teresa Lisbon was no fading flower. She was well able to defend herself.
She nudged open the door and stepped into her condo slowly, gun raised. She walked into the living room where she froze in shock. It was... different.
"Please don't shoot me; I come in peace."
"You're an intruder in my home," Lisbon reminded him, exhaling in relief as she lowered her gun. She should have known. "I think that means I can shoot you."
Jane walked towards her. "I'm not an intruder. I have a key."
Lisbon glared at him (though she did take her hand off her gun). "That was for emergencies!"
"This is an emergency," Jane assured her seriously.
She raised an eyebrow.
"The emergency of Christmas apathy." Jane explained.
Lisbon rolled her eyes. "Thank you Kris Kringle."
Jane grinned. "Now, there's no need for sarcasm, Lisbon."
"You broke into my condo!" Lisbon reminded him, waving her arms for emphasis. "And you... you..."
"I believe the word you're searching for is decorated." Jane supplied helpfully. "And there's no need to look so scandalized. It's just a few festive decorations. It's not as if I brought in some sort of biological agent and contaminated your home."
"I wouldn't put it past you," Lisbon grumbled as she took a look around her living room. There was garland, and lights, and boughs over the mantelpiece, and, and... there was even a tree. A real tree. All decorated. Just for her.
Trust Jane not to do anything small.
"I'm sure you wouldn't," Jane murmured, watching her face carefully. Her words indicated annoyance, but her eyes... Her eyes were telling him a different story. Her eyes were showing him the part of her (deep down) that still hoped for a little magic. He smiled softly, trying to soothe with his voice. "Don't fret, Even the tree is artificial. Not by choice of course, but the only real trees I could find at this late date were either the wrong size or looked like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, minus the charm."
His efforts were rewarded when Lisbon's lips quirked up into a smile. "So far gone that it couldn't even be saved by a blue blanket?" she asked.
"It was questionable," Jane replied.
"Hmm," Lisbon murmured, still looking around her living room, wide-eyed. Jane had even put on Christmas music. "And I wasn't apathetic about Christmas."
"You haven't decorated," Jane pointed out.
"I'm busy," Lisbon insisted. "And I kept putting it off."
"Which is exactly why you need me to do these things. I was just about finished when you got here," Jane told her. "Your paperwork took less time than usual. You must have been in a hurry to get out of there."
"It is Christmas," Lisbon reminded him.
"Exactly," Jane replied with a grin.
"Some of these are my decorations," Lisbon observed, walking up to the tree.
"Yeah," Jane agreed. "I dug them out of the back of your closet. Some of the garland and the lights are yours too. I just added to your supply with a quick trip to the store. I was surprised they still had fresh evergreen boughs."
"It all kinda works," Lisbon observed, breathing in the Christmassy smell.
"Of course it does," Jane said. "They're Christmas decorations. It's not crucial that they all match! Besides, get enough of them together and they will anyway. You actually had more decorations than I was expecting."
"I don't really know why you're so surprised by that fact," Lisbon muttered. She did decorate most of the time. She wasn't the Grinch. She just hadn't gotten around to it this year. It'd been busy.
Jane didn't bother pointing out (again) that almost none of her decorations had been up, and it was Christmas Eve. "Just an observation," he told her. "There was one box that I found that I... well... They were different. I wasn't sure if I could put those up." He gestured to a box on the coffee table.
Lisbon was beside the box like a shot, her heart in her throat. "What did you do to them?" she demanded, before noticing that the mismatched ornaments were all still inside the box, exactly where she'd left them, whenever the last time she'd bothered putting them up had been. They were also clearly untouched, and clearly fine. "Oh."
"I didn't do anything to them," Jane assured her calmly. She refused to look at him, so he continued. "All that I meant was that those ornaments were obviously either the sort of thing that you'd want to hang on the tree yourself, or leave in the box. Either way, they weren't for me to touch."
Lisbon felt the tears pricking in the backs of her eyes. She hadn't opened this particular box of ornaments in at least two years. Some years she didn't, even if she put up her other decorations. "Oh."
"So which is it?" Jane asked softly, knowing he shouldn't, but his curiosity got the better of him, as it often did when it came to her.
"I don't know," Lisbon admitted, fingering the red glass ball in the corner with holly leaves on it. It had been her grandmother's. Instinctively her eyes travelled to the glass angel, still partially wrapped in tissue paper beside it. Her mother's favourite ornament. It was one of the few things Lisbon had brought with her to California. She also had one her father had bought as some sort of fundraiser at the firehouse one year, a few miscellaneous ornaments from aunts and uncles, and a collection of home-made ones made for her by her brothers when they were younger. Over the years, her nieces and nephews had added home-made offerings of their own to the collection. Some years she hung them, some years it was easier not to. She bit her lip.
"Okay," Jane said lightly. "No need to decide right this second." He had a fairly good idea what the ornaments in the box were, and if Lisbon didn't want to put them up, that was her decision.
Lisbon nodded and turned away from the box. A second later she'd turned back quickly and removed a collection of red yarn wrapped around some popsicle sticks. "This one can go up," she told him, taking a deep breath and walking over to the tree. "Annie made it for me when she was seven or eight."
"It's... interesting," Jane assured her.
That earned him a glare. He also noticed that she'd placed herself between him and the box of ornaments, an instinctual gesture of protection. He almost sighed in annoyance. One, did she really not think that he'd memorized the contents of the box already? And two, obviously he wasn't going to push any harder. Lisbon should know that. That box was personal. And contrary to what some people thought, he did know when to leave things be.
He watched as Lisbon turned back to her box and plucked out a few more ornaments that were obviously children's crafts. "Which nieces or nephews made those?" he asked.
"These two are Christopher and Patrick," Lisbon said, gesturing to a couple of painted pine cones on ribbon. "And the snowflakes are Anne and Josie."
Jane watched her flit about the tree, eying it critically to try and find the perfect place to hang her treasures. He decided not to comment on the fact that she was only hanging mementos from the youngest generation of the Lisbon family. Christmas was not the time to bring up potentially strained family relationships.
"My daughter used to like to hang snowflakes on the tree," he said instead. The second the words were out of his mouth he regretted them. Why had he said them anyway? He'd just wanted to... to put her at ease. And now he'd...
Lisbon froze in the middle of hanging one of her pinecones. Jane almost never talked about Charlotte. A second later she went back to hanging her ornaments as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. "Yeah?" she asked softly, turning towards him.
Jane nodded, staring just off to one side. "My wife taught her how to make them, using those safety-scissors of course, and Charlotte just loved them. The bottom half of the tree was always covered with them."
"That's nice," Lisbon said, feeling inadequate.
Jane nodded once. He could still picture the tree, and the very clear division between the branches Charlotte was able to reach and those that were too high. His daughter had been stubborn. Hadn't wanted help reaching the higher branches.
"Do you want to make snowflakes?" Lisbon asked tentatively. She was sure she must have scissors and white paper kicking around her place somewhere. The printer! There was white paper there.
"No," Jane said curtly.
Lisbon nodded, understanding. "Okay."
"I just wanted to tell someone," Jane added truthfully. He hadn't realized it until right now. But he'd wanted to tell Lisbon. It hurt to talk about his family, but sometimes... Sometimes it hurt less. And it was better than forgetting.
Lisbon walked over and put a hand on his arm. "Thank you."
Jane nodded again. Suddenly he smiled. "So when was the last time you added something to that box of yours?"
Lisbon shrugged, used to the rapid changes of subject with him. "A couple of years I guess. When my nieces sent me the snowflakes actually."
"And you haven't felt the need to add to it since?" Jane asked.
Lisbon frowned slightly, not sure what he meant. "What? Like ask for more homemade ornaments?"
"Well, that's one way," Jane assured her. "Or..." Reaching into the pocket of his suit jacket, he pulled out a clear Christmas ball with an exact replica of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree inside of it.
Lisbon's face lit up into a smile before she could help it. "Where did you get that?" she asked with a laugh as she reached for the ornament.
"Saw it in a store one day," he replied as handed it to her. "While we were on our last case actually. Consider it my contribution to your collection."
Lisbon looked up. "Really?" she asked. She did like the silly little thing. It was just charming.
Jane grinned. "Of course. Merry Christmas, Lisbon."
"Thanks," she said before going back to examining her new present. Sure, he'd already bought any number of decorations for her to put up, but this one was... special.
Jane let himself watch her enjoy her gift for a few more seconds before he spoke. "You can hang it on the tree, you know. Maybe you'll find you even like decoration."
Lisbon tried to look annoyed, but she was fairly certain he saw right through her. "I won't."
Jane had to work a little to keep the smile out of his own eyes. "How do you know?"
"I know," she insisted. And there was some truth to it. Living alone, decorating could lose a little of the fun. She was actually kind of liking having Jane around. Sometimes she forgot about this side of him.
Jane was actually impressed by how firm she managed to sound. "Ah."
"Have you decorated this year?" Lisbon asked, deciding to turn the conversation on him.
"What do you call this?" Jane wondered, gesturing to her living room.
She scowled. "I meant your..." Lisbon trailed off.
"My motel room?" Jane asked neutrally, knowing exactly what she'd been about to say. "Somehow that didn't have the same feel to it." He hadn't wanted to decorate his motel room. It wasn't worth it. Decorating Lisbon's home on the other hand, that was entirely different.
Lisbon's eyes turned from playful to contrite. "I'm sorry."
"Quite alright," Jane assured her. He wanted to see her smile again.
But Lisbon was having none of it. She shook her head. "I should have..."
Jane was in no mood to let her blame herself. "You should have done nothing. I just discovered that I'd rather decorate your place, that's all."
The idea made Lisbon want to smile, though she wasn't exactly sure why. "Oh."
"Well..." Lisbon trailed off.
Jane raised an eyebrow. "Well?"
"I guess I could hang one more ornament," Lisbon admitted begrudgingly.
"Thank you," Jane said softly.
Suddenly Lisbon's grin turned wicked. "Oh, I was thinking this one of Tommy's. He gave it to me before I moved."
Jane looked slightly put out. "Of course. That makes..."
Lisbon laughed and, holding up her little Charlie Brown ornament, walked towards the tree.
"Cruel woman," Jane said with a smile. "Don't drop it now. We wouldn't want it to get cracked. Not the first year anyway."
"Why not? It might suit you better that way," Lisbon told him.
"Are you trying to imply something, Lisbon?" Jane wondered.
Lisbon spun to face him, her face a picture of exaggerated innocence. "Me?"
"Oh, just pick a place." Jane grumbled (secretly thrilled).
"I'm trying to find an empty spot," told him. She was in no mood to rush this process.
"There's one down at the bottom on the right," Jane told her helpfully.
She shook her head. She'd seen that one. It wasn't acceptable. "I know. But I don't want to put it there."
"Why not?" Jane asked.
Because she wouldn't be able to see it there if she was sitting on her couch, but she wasn't going to tell him that. "It's too close to Annie's ornament, and I don't need you two conspiring against me."
Jane huffed in exasperation. Sometimes even he didn't understand women. Then he grinned. He'd forgotten about that.
He walked up beside her as she finally decided on a spot for his ornament and placed a hand on her elbow to spin her towards him.
"What?" she asked in confusion.
Jane only smiled wider.
Lisbon started to feel nervous.
He nodded his head upwards.
Lisbon's eyes followed.
Mistletoe. There was mistletoe in her living room. Jane had hung mistletoe.
Jane held his breath.
To his surprise, she smiled.
"What happened to no biological contaminants?" she asked playfully (ignoring the nerves dancing in her stomach).
"Think of it more as natural festivity," Jane replied.
"Okay," Lisbon said with a smile.
"Okay?" Jane double-checked, not sure if he'd heard her correctly.
Shaking her head slightly, Lisbon placed a hand on his shoulder and stretched up to kiss him on the cheek.
"Merry Christmas, Lisbon," Jane said with a smile.
"Merry Christmas, Jane. And thank you for this," she said, gesturing to her decorations. "It was a lovely thought."
"You're welcome." Jane replied, still watching her.
"Would you like some tea?" Lisbon asked, taking her hand off his shoulder and stepping back. She wasn't ready for him to leave quite yet, wouldn't mind a bit of company.
"Always," Jane told her.
"Okay, I'll put the kettle on," Lisbon replied, walking away.
Jane tried not to feel disappointed.
While Lisbon was busying herself in the kitchen, Jane sat down on her couch. "So, what are your Christmas plans?" he asked.
"You know I don't have any," Lisbon called back. "Annie's at her Mom's, Tommy's visiting some friends, my other two brothers tend to do massive family dinners with their wives' families back east."
"And you're all by your lonesome?" Jane pressed.
"Not right now," Lisbon reminded him as she opened her refrigerator in search of milk. "What about you?"
"I was hoping to spend Christmas with a friend," Jane told her. There was one person in particular that he was quite keen to spend the holidays with.
Lisbon paused in the middle of pouring the milk into one of the two cups. "That's sounds nice," she said after a moment.
"Yeah, but I'll have to wait and see," Jane replied.
Lisbon frowned. That didn't exactly sound like plans. "About what? Whether your friend is actually free?"
"Oh, they're free. I checked," Jane assured his companion. "Actually, my plan pretty much consists of camping out on her couch on Christmas Eve and hoping she doesn't kick me out." He didn't think she would. He hoped she wouldn't. He just wanted to spend a little time with her. Just a little extra. Just Christmas. (And maybe Boxing Day.)
Lisbon bit her lip as pleasure washed through her. "Oh."
"Oh," Jane repeated, suddenly rather glad she was in the other room.
Lisbon poured the boiling water into the teapot. "That's not much of a plan."
"Guess not," Jane agreed. He looked up at her as she walked back into the living room. "You think she'll kick me out?"
"I guess that depends on what she thinks of your decorating skills," Lisbon replied.
"Well, she's made me tea, so she must like them at least a little bit," Jane pointed out.
Lisbon tried to hide her smile. "I guess she must."
"So..." Jane pressed.
"So, I'd give your plan about a 75% chance of success," Lisbon told him.
Jane tried to look surprised. "That low?"
"Jane..." Lisbon growled.
"I'll take it," he said quickly.
She set down the tea tray with everything on it and handed him a cup of tea. "I thought you might."
Jane smiled at her as she sat next to him on the couch. He took a sip of his tea and his smile grew. He'd been hoping she'd sit there.
Lisbon got suspicious when his smile didn't waver. "What?" she asked.
Jane's eyes flicked upwards a second time.
Lisbon looked up, trepidation brewing. She was unsurprised to see another sprig of mistletoe attached to the light. "Jane! Just how many pieces of mistletoe did you hang in my condo?"
Jane took her cup of tea and set it, along with his own, back on her coffee table. "I think that's a question you'll have to investigate for yourself," he murmured.
Lisbon turned towards him, meeting his eyes and mentally noting just how close he was. "Well, I guess I could squeeze in one more case before the holiday," she murmured.
Jane was still chuckling, right up until he kissed her.
Lisbon sighed into the kiss. Yeah. She was pretty sure this was going to require a thorough investigation. A very thorough one.
And who knew how many pieces of mistletoe the crazy man next to her had seen fit to hang.
She was suddenly very glad that Jane wasn't exactly known for small gestures.