Author's thanks: Here it is the final chapter and I want to thank everyone for reading it. Especially to all those who have stuck with me and supported me with their reviews. You have literally kept me going. I had no idea when I started the story, that this is how it would turn out to be and it has been difficult but a pleasure. I hope you like this final chapter and once again thank you so much for your support, I couldn't have done it without you.
Jane wakes up before making it through the door, just as Angela let's go of his hand. He'd been staring at his wife and daughter, walking backwards towards the exit. He closes his eyes trying to will himself back to sleep but he knows it's useless. Instead he relaxes and lets his mind relive the sensation of holding Angela in his arms again, of seeing Charlotte's beautiful smile and feeling her tiny hands hug his neck. He breathes deeply and memories overtake him as quickly as an avalanche. burying him so that he can hardly breathe, but, he doesn't want to escape, he wants to experience each moment as clearly as the day he lived them.
He stood still, rooted to the spot as the irritating girl, who had been the bane of his life for too many years, stood before him, unrecognizable. This girl wasn't in her jeans and t-shirt, but in a dress where curves hit all the right places. Eyes were deeper with a maturity and smokiness that promised so much and held his gaze, daring him to look away first. There was no one else from that day forward.
The night they ran away was Jane's night off. They were in Pete's trailer, Angela cut his hair short and then dyed it brown. They dressed in clothes that would not attract attention, added caps and escaped in to the night. Excitement made them giddy, he had to keep hushing her as they descended the steps of the trailer, but parents didn't hear, no-one tried to stop them. Pete enveloped them in a hug and wished them good luck. Their savings and a bus took them far away.
Their wedding was a simple affair, attended by their few friends. Angela's eyes sparkled and the love in her eyes made him ten feet tall and the greatest man on the planet. He would give her everything. Heartfelt words, lingering kisses and dreams were fulfilled.
Life was perfect, it couldn't get any better, but he was wrong. Twenty inches and seven pounds, proved him wrong. He was hers the moment he held her in his arms. He's been so scared of hurting her, dropping her. But she'd had stopped crying and looked up with eyes that held his attention and seemed to hold knowledge far deeper than he could possibly hope for. He promised he would always be there for her, give her everything.
What a stupid promise that had been, and he'd made it twice. He worked hard and long, the house was beautiful, the setting unbelievable. They had it all but everything was nothing, if it wasn't you. If you didn't keep them safe.
Tears prick his eyes, as he comes to the final scene, the interview, the note, the smiley face, the blood. The avalanche of memories are a crushing weight upon his chest, he can hardly breathe. The dream rushing in to his mind once more, the love on his wife's face, mixed with despair and pleading. The weight lifts and he takes in a deep breath.
He hears the door open, he looks towards it and it's Lisbon. She's smiling until she sees his tear-stained face, it changes to concern and she moves quickly to his side.
"Jane are you okay?"
He smiles and wipes his face.
"I'm fine and I mean it."
Skepticism is written all over her face.
"I've been having dreams, most have been nightmares. A result of my imprisonment. They were awful at the beginning but now, this last one..."
Jane feels a lump making it hard to speak. Lisbon places her hand on his arm giving him encouragement.
"This last one, Angela was there...Angela and Charlotte. I held them in my arms, smelled them, kissed them...It..It... felt so real. Everyone was there..."
"All of Red John's victims...even Boscoe."
Jane smiles and a mischievous look crosses his face.
"He sends his love."
He's delights to watch a red glow appear on her cheeks.
"She said she was proud of me, that she loved me and I was to get on with my life."
"That sounds like a wonderful dream and she's right. I know you feel guilt about that night, and the things you've said. You can't bring them back, you can't undo what happened, but you've done all that you can do. You gave up your life to get the monster, you risked your life, you went through hell and offered yourself again and now he's behind bars, he can't hurt anyone again. He'll be tried and convicted, you have saved the lives of his future victims. They will go about their life not knowing the debt they owe you. It is time to move on."
Jane was watching himself twist the bed covers between his finger and thumb. When she stops speaking he looks at her. His voice is barely a whisper.
"How do I do that? I never expected to live past this day. I presumed I would be dead or in prison, it didn't matter to me. I've never thought about what I want."
She gives his arm a squeeze.
"You'll figure it out. First order of business is to get well, then I hope you'll return to work with us."
"I guess my recuperation will give me plenty of time to think about things."
He sees the disappointment in Lisbon's eyes.
"Whether I return to the CBI or not, we'll still be friends. I-I-I just don't know if I want to continue spending my days with dead people. I've enjoyed working with you, and I must confess, the job has brought some satisfaction, but maybe there's something else I can do. I need to find out."
"I understand Jane."
"I don't need to find out that I still want you in my life. We can spend time together, watching a movie, talking over dinner, trip to the beach, instead of in cars, on the way to a case."
She gives him a small smile.
"That sounds lovely Jane."
He beams at her.
"It does! when I get out of here, Friday night - movie night at your place."
Author's notes: There it is. Still deciding on the recovery follow up, so haven't done an epilogue. If I decide not to, then, I will add one on to here so keep a look out. :)