A/N: A big thank you to everyone that reviewed the last chapter, Guests and named reviewers alike :) Sorry for the delay on this one but it was tricky to write from Jane's POV and Lisbon's has proved no easier, LOL!
March 6th – 2.15am
God, what a night.
I slump back against my apartment door and let out a heavy sigh. I feel exhausted. Though that's hardly surprising since I've just spent the best part of the night in hospital.
It wasn't for anything much; just a little car accident for goodness sake. A prang really. Heck, I've had worse on the job. I was on my way home when some stupid kids who'd had too much to drink decided they wanted to go for a joyride. Thankfully, due to the driving skills training days I've been on, I was able to avoid them…for the most part.
I dread to think what could have happened if I'd been just a shade slower in my reflexes though. Could have been a nasty.
Could have been fatal.
My heart thumps a little at the thought but then I brush it aside. Everything's fine. I'm fine. The car's…well, I'm annoyed with myself that I wasn't quite quick enough for them to avoid catching the side of it. That dent will be expensive to get out.
Obviously, because of the nature of the incident, the local uniform were involved. A couple of young guys who were keen to do everything by the book which included ensuring the hospital called my named contact…Patrick Jane.
Don't get me wrong, I know it's standard procedure and everything but it was absurd considering my injuries. I've only sustained a sprained wrist and a couple of bruises to my face for crying out loud.
So, I tried to stop them. Flashed my badge even. But they didn't listen.
And now I don't think I'll ever forget the expression on his face when he first came into my room. In hindsight, I think I'm going to change my named contact to Cho.
I mean, I was expecting some mild concern, a sardonic comment or two about my driving and even a good-natured grumble about taking him away from his beloved couch.
What I got was a man who looked scared to death…absolutely petrified. I don't know what the hell they'd said to him over the phone but he'd obviously thought the worst.
His relief was palpable when he saw I was OK, but then I had to give my statement to the police. He's not stupid. He understood just how bad my accident could've been even though I tried to play it down.
And then I saw it. The detachment. The withdrawal. It was in his eyes and on his haunted face. He was pulling away from the situation…from me, just as he did the closer we got to catching Red John all those months ago. It's his defence mechanism, a way to protect himself from getting hurt, I know that. But distancing himself is also what almost broke our friendship in the first place. We'd been doing so well getting back to how it used to be, I didn't want to see that ruined by some unthinking idiots who should've just taken a cab.
I wanted to say something. Comfort him in some way, but there was too much going on and all I could do was watch as he all but faded back into the hospital walls and refused to meet my gaze.
At least he offered to bring me home. I was pleased about that. I thought he was going to make an excuse and leave, but he didn't. Not yet, anyway.
I tried to talk to him in the car but with my adrenaline rush gone and the painkillers I'd taken, I was pretty wiped out and ended up falling asleep. Now I have no choice but to leave it until the morning when I'm in better shape to deal with what I think I know is coming.
I push away from the door then walk slowly across the room. I don't bother with the lights, I can see well enough from the glow of the streetlamps outside. I glance out of the window before I head upstairs and see that his car is still parked outside.
Odd. I thought he'd be long gone by now.
I move to the window for a better look and can see him sitting in there, head bowed. He cuts such a lonely figure that I have a sudden, unfamiliar urge to out there and just give him a hug. I even take a couple of steps back towards the door but then the car headlights come on and he pulls rather speedily away.
I stare out the window for a few more seconds and can't help but wonder if he's going back to the CBI or not. By the looks of him I doubt he'll get any sleep, wherever he decides to go tonight.
I turn away and head wearily upstairs. I forego my usual nightly routine and opt for lying straight down on my bed. I'm so tired I think I could sleep for a week.
I turn on my side and let out a sigh as I close my eyes. As I lie here, three things soon become apparent. My cheek hurts. My wrist hurts. And I can't sleep because I can't stop thinking about Jane.
Wait, does that last one count as two?
I don't know.
I turn over to my other side but that only aggravates the bruising on my face, so I roll onto my back and stare up at the ceiling.
He's going to run, I can feel it in my exhausted bones. Only as far as the attic most probably, but at this particular moment in time, I'm really not sure I have the fortitude to deal with going through all that crap with him again…even if I do love him.
I close my eyes and shake my head slightly. It still feels weird admitting that, even in my thoughts, but ever since the night of the auction I've given up lying to myself. Problem is, I've been denying it for so long, it's almost as if I'm committing some heinous crime by even mentally acknowledging such a thing.
Still, as long as he never finds out, it'll be fine. And I'm good at hiding it. I've being doing it for years. Even from myself.
Take that for translucence, Mr. I-See-All Mentalist. Not quite so good as you think you are, huh?
OK, I'm rambling. Too tired.
Time for sleep then I'll go in early tomorrow…today, and go up to that damn attic and let him know I'm not going to stand for that crap anymore.
Decision made, I find that I feel more relaxed than I have in hours and soon feel my eyelids start to droop. I don't fight it and it's not long before everything around me fades away.
It's six a.m. when I awake. Apparently my internal clock won't let me sleep in, even after an eventful night. I'm grateful for that because it means I can still get into work early and have time to speak to Jane.
I get up and have a quick shower then get dressed. My wrist feels a little better but the bruising on my face has really come out now. Great.
Since I don't have my car, I call for a cab and it's not long before I arrive at work. I make my way through the quiet building and take the elevator up to my floor. I step out and head along the corridor only to see Jane standing there, looking on edge and as though he's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
I stop a few feet away and my heart goes out to him when I notice the dark circles beneath his tired eyes. Any closer and I think he'll bolt. Or be sick judging by the way his face has just paled. He's staring at my cheek and I can guess what he's thinking…what if? In fact I'll bet he's been doing that ever since he left me.
"I didn't expect you to be here," I say, deciding to cut to the chase.
"I could say the same to you," he replies.
He tries to smile but just looks so miserable that I really want to hold him tight.
"I'm fine. There's nothing wrong with me that a little time and make up won't fix," I dismiss, hoping that he'll see the truth of my words. Right now, I'm more concerned about him. He looks dead on his feet. "What about you? Did you even get any sleep after you dropped me off?"
I get my answer when he looks down, unable to meet my gaze any longer and I let out a sigh. I knew it. But that still didn't stop a tiny part of me hoping against hope I was wrong. I wish I knew the magic words that would make this all go away but I don't, so I have to rely on what I know best. Candour.
"Look, I know you were scared last night, Jane, I was too. But I'm here and I'm OK and right now I'm far more worried that you've spent all night thinking yourself round in circles and are going to start pulling away from me again. I didn't like it the last time and I won't put up with it now. We've gone past that, haven't we? I thought we were friends again."
"We are," he's quick to assure me and I feel a little better for that. I'm still not completely convinced though.
"So I didn't just catch you trying to leave before I turned up then?" I ask dryly, knowing the answer but wanting to hear from his own lips.
He has the grace to look a little guilty but then shakes his head and says, "I was just about to make myself a cup of tea. Why don't you go to your office and I'll get you a coffee too?"
I look at him a moment then nod my assent. I don't believe him for a second and I certainly wouldn't put it past him to send me on my way so that he could slip upstairs to the attic anyway.
"I won't be long, I promise," he then says and I guess I'll just have to take his word for it.
I head into my office and switch on the lights. Leaving the door open for Jane, I go to my desk and sit down on my chair before opening my bag and retrieving the compact mirror, cover powder and brush I've brought with me from home. I tuck my hair behind my ear then move my head a little to get a good look at the bruising in my reflection. I think it's got even darker. I take the brush and dab it liberally in the powder before tapping off the excess.
Before I can begin, Jane walks in carrying our drinks. He places them in front of me then, instead of taking the chair opposite as I'd expected, he perches on the corner of my desk right next to me. I do my best to ignore the fact that I immediately notice the way the fabric of his trousers tightens across his thigh and simply offer him a small smile of thanks for my drink before forcing myself to stare back into the mirror.
I just wish I could remember what I was supposed to be doing.
"It doesn't look that bad," Jane proclaims blithely.
Ah, yes. That's it. Concealing the bruise.
"It doesn't look that good," I retort with a grimace.
"I'm just glad you're OK. When I got that call last night…"
He stops talking and I look up to see the most unusual sight of my consultant lost for words. I can't help but feel a pang of guilt for having been the one unknowingly responsible for putting him through such an upsetting experience.
"Jane…" I begin, ready to apologise.
"You were right just now," he cuts in quietly. "I was going to run away, to distance myself, all those things I usually do."
I go cold at his admission. "So why didn't you?"
"I'm still waiting for that dinner I won at the auction," he replies after a pause.
I should've expected the response really. He always uses levity as protection when he feels he's revealed just that little bit too much information about himself; but my disappointment is acute at his offhand answer and I look away, determined that he not see. I have to remember we're just friends in his eyes. Nothing more.
The silence stretches on between us and I've just decided to carry on with my attempts at covering this bruise when he says something that completely floors me.
"To be perfectly honest, Lisbon, I stayed because…I don't want to be that man anymore."
My heart gives a little lurch. Does he actually mean that? I search his face for an answer and for once he's letting me in. Letting me see the truth of his words. He wants to change. That's huge and I just feel so happy for him.
I start to grin but my cheek protests vigorously at the sudden movement and I end up grimacing against the pain instead. I turn my attention back to the mirror and lift the brush to apply a dusting of powder when I suddenly find my hand empty.
What the hell, Jane?
"What do you think you're doing?" I ask in annoyance. That was a perfectly good brush he just threw in the bin.
"You don't need that, Teresa," he tells me. I barely have time to register that he's used my first name when he reaches out and trails his finger gently down the side of my injured cheek until it comes to a stop under my chin. "You look beautiful…as always."
I do? I mean…what? I mean; I don't know what to do…or say…or think. I can feel my face growing hotter. The way he's looking at me, like he's about to…Oh, God.
My eyes shut as soon as I feel the first tentative touch of his lips against my skin. My heart thuds hard in my chest as he leaves a trail of little kisses that are so barely there, I begin to wonder if I'm just imagining this whole thing and he's really sitting there drinking his tea. Why is he doing this? My cheek is tingling from his touch so much that it takes me a moment to realise he's finally stopped and pulled back.
I belatedly open my eyes and try to hide how much he's affected me by saying the first thing that pops into my fuzzy head.
"Is that supposed to make it all better?"
Apparently, levity in an awkward situation isn't just Jane's specialty.
And really, I have no idea if I mean my cheek or the fact that he's decided not to distance himself anymore. A bit of both, probably.
"No, but I think…I hope that it's a start," he replies softly and my heart does that little lurch again.
He's obviously talking about his decision and if this is how he plans to go about it then I have to admit, although my head is trying to caution me about his actions, right at this moment my heart is all for it.
"It is," I proclaim with a half smile.
He's still touching my face and as I continue to stare into his amazing, toe tingling, warm blue eyes I have to quell the urge to lean forward and finally have a much longed for taste of his lips.
Down the hall, the elevator dings and I can hear the sound of the team arriving for work. Jane gives me a rueful smile then removes his hand and stands. He picks up his drink then moves away while I turn and switch on my computer.
"Morning, Boss," Cho greets from the doorway as is his norm. I turn to acknowledge him and when he sees my face he steps into the office. "What happened to you?"
I glance at Jane who seems very interested in his tea all of a sudden. I'm loath to go through it all again with him still here because I'm a little worried that hearing all the details once more might have him backtracking. He's got form for that.
Still, there's only one way to find out I guess. I explain to Cho about the accident and his expression remains stoic throughout.
"Sounds like you did well to avoid them. Glad you're OK," he comments with a nod then leaves.
I look over at Jane and he's still staring at his cup, his expression faraway and I suppress the feeling of dread that pools in the pit of my stomach. Have I lost him after all?
"You OK?" I ask, trying to remain calm.
He looks over at me as though I've just woken him from a daze and then I'm treated to one of his brilliant smiles.
"Never better. You?"
I am now that I know he's still with me.
"I'm good," I say then stop as I decide whether I should call him out over his actions or not. It didn't get me far the last time, but then words are much easier to brush aside than a physical act. "About what happened…"
He's quick to prompt me but I'm suddenly not quite sure what or even if I should ask. I still remember how I felt after he forgot he told me he loved me. What if he dismisses what he did out of hand as nothing or worse, apologises?
The one thing I've learned with Jane is that you can never take anything he does at face value. You have to look and look and then look again.
I've just decided I'll leave it when Cho walks back into the office and looks at the pair of us quizzically.
"Am I interrupting something?" he asks.
I guess he can feel a certain tension or maybe it's the fact that he caught us staring at each other, either way it brings me back to my senses.
"No, of course not," I reply briskly as I give him my full attention. "What is it?"
He lets me know of a new case that's just come in and despite my best efforts to remain focussed entirely on what's he's saying, I still notice when Jane quietly leaves the room. When Cho has finished apprising me of the specifics, he goes and I get up and head to the break room.
I'm certain this is where I saw Jane go and I reach the doorway just as he turns to leave. I still don't want to ask him outright why he did what he did but I figure that maybe I can gauge his intentions by spending some time with him.
"So…when we close this case, how about we have that dinner you paid so much for?" I ask, adopting a casual tone.
"Sure. It's a date," he replies easily with another of his megawatt grins and I just know I'm blushing furiously.
I manage to smile back then turn and retreat swiftly to the sanctuary of my office. I know it's just a saying and I shouldn't read anything into it but that didn't stop my heart giving a little flutter of anticipation at his words.
At this rate, I swear I'll have a coronary soon. I knew that man wasn't good for my health.
Now I have a few minutes to myself, I sit down at my desk and take a sip of my tepid coffee as I try and reason out everything that's happened in the past half hour. It feels like I've been caught up in a whirlwind with all my emotions buffeted about all over the place as I try and ride out the storm that is Patrick Jane.
Unsurprisingly, the one thing that I keep coming back to is the way he kissed my cheek. I can rationalise most things that take place between us as either being 'typically Jane' or 'his idea of friendship'.
But I'm not naïve. Those wonderfully tender kisses were neither.
And suddenly that confuses me. No, scratch that…it frightens me.
Because loving Jane when he's emotionally unavailable is safe. I like safe. I don't get hurt…much.
Loving Jane when there's a possibility he's starting to feel some kind of attraction back? That's a whole different ballgame…and one I'm not sure I want play.
Because I know he won't ever love me.
Not when he's still, after all these years and Red John gone, wearing his wedding ring.
Not when he's still in love with his dead wife.
That path leads to destruction; to me falling so deep that I don't think I'd ever be able to crawl back out when he's done with me…and I just know that day would come.
So, do I go with my heart and say to hell with the consequences?
Or do I listen to my head and protect myself? Pretend nothing really happened?
The heart wants what the heart wants they say…well it can get in line; today my head is going to win.
END CHAPTER 3
A/N: Thanks for reading and I hope you liked it. Let me know what you think :)