PLEASE READ: This is a DARK fic. This is NOT a "RAPE" fic. It will not end darkly.

I am far more interested in the psychological affects playing Volker games would have on Lisbon, Jane, and the team than I am in writing a lurid, graphic piece. That doesn't mean this isn't "M" or that it won't be a disturbing five or six chapter piece.

All I'm asking is that you have enough respect for my desire to explore an interesting character we didn't see enough of to not read this story if you're a) underage or b) going to get distressed with me for writing this piece as some of my readers have occassionally done in the past. I have enough respect for you as my reader to post a warning that's probably stronger than the piece itself will be. But, since I haven't written it, I honestly don't know how it'll turn out or if I can actually pull it off for that matter.

I am working on the last 4-5 chapters of Ouroboros and will post them asap. ~Calla

#

Looking up from his cup of tea, a fragrant red tinted China black, a hint of a smile played across Jane's lips as Lisbon swept through the door in her typical no-nonsense style only to be stopped midstep by one well aimed glare from the hostess. A deceptively bubbly blonde, he'd learned early on that particular minx was a barracuda in disguise and she took her job seriously. As his companion would soon learn, Trevor's was not their usual divey watering hole. Things were done differently here. The front door was manned with purpose and that forgotten CBI badge still swinging from Lisbon's hip wasn't cutting any slack with Amy.

However, announcing she was with Patrick Jane did.

Watching his "date" following closely on Amy's sky high heels, Jane took the opportunity to study Lisbon's appearance surreptitiously. Those niggling stress lines were finally gone. She looked younger, more relaxed, and far prettier now that Volker's arraignment was over. If he was a betting man, and he was, based on the luminescence of her countenance he'd say bail was denied.

That was a good thing for everyone.

The man was a true blue sociopath getting off on the kill…One who liked harming women…And one who'd wanted to hurt Lisbon real bad….

That realization on Jane's part had changed everything.

Not readily apparent to his adoring public, he'd caught that nasty vibe in Volker's dealings with his favorite Agent and reacted accordingly. He'd let the sicko know, in no uncertain terms, he was going down. And he was going down fast. Jane had backed his words with actions and Volker's well laid plans had raveled before disbelieving eyes.

So, they'd won the skirmish.

And they'd brought the creeper down.

But, they hadn't won the battle.

They had yet to keep him down.

Jane was under no illusions their job was done. Not by a long shot. A lot could happen between incarceration and conviction especially with vermin like Thomas Volker. Though contained for the moment, the man still had access to mighty big guns…Guns big enough to rock their world with a whisper.

That, more than anything, had him greatly concerned.

Thanks to his infamous past, Jane was intimately familiar with the subtle ins and outs of extortion, intimidation, and shady politics among the Volkers of the world. While not nearly as rich as most of his prey, he'd once navigated amongst the most powerful sharks in the water with consummate ease. His talents had gotten him where money never could and Jane had reveled in the challenge. He'd played their games acquiring his fair share of what they'd offered without hesitation or remorse never touching their wives and daughters in the passing. Though he could have, he hadn't. He wasn't that kind of man. Had he not already possessed a lovely family of his own. But, their booze, their money, and their dirty little secrets were another matter. He'd collected plenty of those.

So, thanks to his dubious past, Jane knew better than either Bertram or Lisbon that no matter their thoughts on Volker's present circumstance, the volleys were far from over.

As valiant a fight as they'd given to date, they could still lose the war. Volker was a slippery fish and the hook through his jaw not particularly strong.

Rising to his feet, Jane shook off his unpleasant thoughts in favor of greeting the vibrant, attractive woman standing in front of him. It had been a long time since he'd noted the fire in her eyes and that healthy glow in her cheeks. Those things had disappeared shortly after the Cassie Flood case started. While he'd admit to briefly adding to her strain, most of the fault for his "Boss's" condition could be laid squarely on the doorstep of a sadistic s.o.b.

Lisbon had had just cause in the following weeks for showing up at his place the time or two she had once the Volker debacle began in earnest. She hadn't revealed much more than she had at the CBI; just shown up at his door when the stress became unbearable much as he'd done her over the years. She'd even spent a couple of nights curled beside him modestly swathed from chin to knees in one of his shirts when she'd not wanted to be alone snoring and drooling on his fluffy down pillows. Not having a couch to offer as she did, all that really mattered was Lisbon felt safe in the end and Jane had done everything in his power to see that she did.

He'd ignored the interesting undercurrents swirling between them since before Luther's death and offered her a warm, shielding body instead…an innocuous body fully capable of ignoring the feel and scent of warm Lisbon against him…even if his mind was having a much harder time wrapping itself so innocently around a situation he'd fantasized about many times. Jane finally understood the price Lisbon had paid over the years in comforting him if that look he saw in her eyes in unguarded moments was as real as he believed it to be.

As well as he knew the woman, Lisbon was the one person Jane couldn't read as well as he claimed he could. Perhaps because his observations were clouded by too many unacknowledged feelings of his own. He honestly didn't know.

What he did know was he'd done his best to lay her fears to rest never asking her to share her nightmares. Or reveal what Volker had done to disturb her so. Were Lisbon ready, she would have told him what he wanted to know.

Jane had known instinctively whatever game the monster behind the pretty face was playing was beyond reprehensible. Was so far out there he'd unsettled a seasoned, heavily armed cop like Teresa Lisbon which wasn't easily done. She might be cute as a button, quite pretty even; but, she was bad assed to the bone with a mean upper cut and a determination that wouldn't stop. He'd admired her fortitude from the start even when he wasn't sure he liked her very much.

But, Lisbon was known to break on occasion. When there was no-one around to see her shame…Or when that no-one was incapable of seeing her as less than she truly was… Jane had held her that time or two and ignored her tears letting her know without words he had her back when she was ready. She had but to say the words as she eventually did.

He'd earned the right to keep her safe over the years. He still marveled at times that the woman trusted him as much as she did. Her confidence wasn't easily won.

"Lisbon." Jane openly studied her much as he would any other attractive woman catching his eye noting she wore exactly the same outfit she'd worn this morning except for her blouse.

She'd thought enough of their evening to make that tiny, but significant, change and that pleased his masculine pride. Pleased him far more than anything so seemingly insignificant should.

While her suit was the same dressy tailored black suit jacket and pants with the subtle rhinestone buttons she'd worn into work, Lisbon had changed her muted turquoise dress tee for a bright cobalt silk top he'd never seen. The cross necklace adorning her neck was the one she usually wore as were the dainty gold hoops affixed to her ears exactly as he'd expected. Her strappy heels were a tad higher than the norm, her blouse a slightly deeper "v", and her makeup more night than day. There was nothing indiscrete in the picture she presented, just more relaxed and little less stiffly professional in a way Jane found more feminine and appealing than he usually found Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon of the CBI. Not that he didn't find his boss appealing, he certainly did. He just found this version of her infinitely more so.

Resisting the urge to drag his fingers through her dark locks, Jane decided he liked Lisbon's hair that way…softer without the bangs. He always had and he might tell her so.

"Sorry I'm late." Lisbon apologized as she slid into the chair Jane waited patiently to ease under the white cloth covered table. "Bertram was long winded."

She'd just left a not too brief debriefing with her big boss twenty minutes ago concerning the outcome of Volker's preliminary hearing. As a result, she was a good three quarters of an hour late meeting him. She'd not been sure Jane would still be here as he'd not answered his phone any of the times she'd called. She was pleasantly surprised he was.

"Did you expect him to be any other way?" Jane asked knowing she'd thought he might leave.

He wouldn't. It simply wasn't necessary to answer his phone as he'd known what was going on. Bertram was running off at the mouth and Lisbon had no choice but to listen. She'd get here when she got here and that was fine by him. He'd sip his tea and people watch in the interim.

"Not when our conversation concerned a fish as big as Tommy Volker." Lisbon reached over to take a sip of Jane's tea deciding it was tasty, if strong, for a change. "That's not bad."

"I'm going to turn you into a tea connoisseur yet." He'd start by ordering her a cup of her own if she kept stealing his China black.

"Not going to happen; but, if you can eat my food, I can sip your tea." Lisbon stated remembering the way he'd scavenged her dinner while they'd combed that deposition on a night not so long ago.

They'd ordered another round of takeout long before they were done. Picking at what was left of her lunch hadn't cut if for either of them. Lisbon hadn't realized at the time that they'd continued sharing a plate as they'd done earlier. She'd justified it in her mind afterwards by claiming one plate took up less space than two. She suspected Jane hadn't really cared either way. Sanitary of not, he didn't seem to mind sharing with her…unless it was tea.

"I suppose turnabout is fair play." Jane agreed offering her another sip.

"Nice place." Lisbon's eyes swept from one side of the restaurant to the other as she nudged Jane's cup back in his direction.

"Yes, it is." He agreed. "I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate Volker's fall from grace."

"I suppose it is." Lisbon glanced at the menu. "It's also got a waiting list three weeks long. How did you get around that?"

"Maybe I didn't." Jane quietly admitted.

"You've had reservations for two for the past three weeks?" Lisbon quirked a brow in disbelief that he hadn't just cut to the chase by hypnotizing someone to get his way as he'd done in the past.

"It was closer to four weeks actually." Jane lifted his cup to his lips ignoring the slight smudge of lipstick against the rim.

Lisbon's lipstick actually had a pleasant taste he'd not noticed before. Not that he'd ever been in a position to notice. He hadn't been. While they held hands on occasion and had been known to hug, they certainly did not kiss.

"Seriously?" Lisbon perused the menu and decided she'd start with one of those fancy specialty beers.

Maybe she'd order an Irish Red Ale or a Pumpkin Stout. Or maybe she'd settle for a more expensive red wine than she usually ordered since all of this was going on Jane's tab.

"Yes, seriously, Lisbon." Jane discretely signaled for their server. "I can be a patient man."

"Who was the lucky lady you had in mind?" It wasn't her as Volker hadn't been in custody four weeks ago.

Lisbon smirked at the thought of her consultant on an honest to goodness date. Truthfully, she couldn't imagine the awkwardness of it. Jane had been out of the dating scene for years and while he was a charming man…She really did not want to go there.

What she did know was his date with Kristina Frye hadn't gone so well and she doubted he'd taken Lorelei out on the town. In fact, she knew better. He'd told her precisely what happened and how it all came down before he was done. Before they'd finally made up and the pieces between them had fallen comfortably back into place. From Lisbon's perspective, what he'd had with the other woman hardly qualified as a date. Any more than her "indiscretion" with a certain dark haired billionaire reminding her too much of Jane had been a date.

Then again, with Jane, who really knew how his mind worked?

What happened between he and Lorelei was whatever he chose to call it in the darkest recesses of his mind. That memory belonged to him.

"I always assumed it would be you." Everything about her response from the startled darting of her eyes to the sudden dead air was as predictable as the rising of the sun. "We have been known to do things like this every now and again." He calmly reminded her.

And they did…Once in a blue moon.

It beat hanging in her lonely apartment or his mangy hotel room wishing for decent company. They'd even shared a sundae not that long ago. Lisbon was still put out with him for eating the cherry on top though he'd gotten her another to take its place. Apparently, it wasn't the same which made absolutely no sense. Go figure. It must be a woman thing.

"I suppose we have." Lisbon agreed thankful for a way out as she lifted the menu and studied the wine list.

"You look nice." Jane said casually not pushing the point as he pretended to read his menu as well.

"Thanks." Glancing at Jane, Lisbon decided he cleaned up nicely when he wanted to and he'd obviously wanted to tonight for whatever reason. "So do you."

Lisbon didn't miss the smile or the raised hand as their server suddenly appeared by Jane's side.

"Adam, the lady will have the Champagne Lager and an appetizer of crab cakes with horseradish remoulade. I'll have the same with the salmon cakes." Jane was pleasantly surprised that Lisbon didn't protest his high handedness in spite of his silent plea that she not. "Both are quite excellent."

"I'm sure they are." Lisbon agreed not sure how she felt about his ordering for her. She'd not expected that and wasn't sure how to take it. As long as he didn't do it again, she'd let it slide. "You've been here before."

"I've been here several times since it opened." Jane answered honestly unwilling to volunteer he was here every Thurday night at six forty five on the dot when they weren't working a case.

"Really?" Somehow that wasn't as strange as it seemed.

"It's a great place to people watch." One of his favorite past times as Lisbon already knew.

"Why do I get the feeling you have a standing reservation here?" She watched their server sit their Lagers in front of them.

"Because I do." Jane confirmed her guess. "My regular seat is right over there at the bar." He motioned towards one of two barstools haunting the end of the long mahogany bar in a darkened corner.

"Which explains why the lovely hostess knew right where to take me without looking at her trusty seating chart." Lisbon took a sip of her drink enjoying the smooth flavor. "And why they didn't kick our butts out over my being so late."

"I suppose it does." Jane agreed. That and the fact the couple behind them were no shows had certainly helped. "However, I wasn't lying when I said I waited four weeks for a reservation for two. It's far more difficult to arrange than the most undesirable seat at the bar for one."

"Your inside connections don't help?" Lisbon poked at her crab cake deciding she liked the fact it was more succulent lump meat than binders even better than the heavenly smell.

"Not as well as one might think." Jane smiled watching Lisbon's eyes widen as the pungent horseradish in her remoulade burned her nose. He'd forgotten to warn her that sauce, while delicious, had a serious bite to it.

"Well, I'm glad you invited me here." Man was she ever if her crab cakes were anything to go by.

"I'm glad you came." Jane forked a bite of salmon cake and dipped it in chili horseradish tartar sauce before carrying the nibble to his mouth.

"Did you expect me to turn down an invite to a place like this?" Lisbon set her fork on her plate.

"I never gave it that much thought one way or the other." Jane sipped his Lager as he watched Lisbon watching the couple across the way.

"You knew I'd say yes." She wasn't sure how she felt about that.

"I hoped you would. What can I say? I enjoy your company both in and outside of work…Besides, who else would I ask? The team would kick my ass if I asked Van Pelt, Kristina still thinks she's a ghost, and most of my past flirtations are either in jail or parts unknown trying to avoid extradition and possible imprisonment." Jane said thinking of Erica Flynn among several others.

"Sounds like you have lousy taste in women with the exception of Grace and you're right that we would kick your ass starting with Wayne who'd have my blessing." Lisbon said only half joking.

Jane obviously found Van Pelt attractive. What red blooded man wouldn't? She was a beauty on her worst day. Mercifully, he didn't appear to be interested in that way. Grace would never survive tangling with their mentalist. He'd turn her inside out before he was done.

"Then I guess it's good that I'm more interested in her Boss." Again, Lisbon let his remark slide without visibly reacting beyond that slight widening of her eyes saying she wasn't quite sure she'd just heard what she thought he'd said. "Here comes Adam with our steaks."

He'd given them just long enough to finish their first course as a good server should.

As for Lisbon, she was so predictable. He'd known she was going to order one of the bigger steaks on the menu with the salad, ranch dressing on the side, and a fully dressed potato before the words ever came out of her mouth. How she stayed so small with that truck driver's appetite was beyond him. Or maybe it wasn't. She was a fairly athletic little thing compared to most of the other female agents around the CBI. He'd struggled a few minutes torn between steak and poultry finally deciding on the Filet which he knew was always perfectly grilled. Watching Lisbon tuck into her steak, Jane lifted his knife and shook his head slightly knowing she was going to clean her plate and want dessert before she was done.

If there was one thing Teresa Lisbon was not, it was a cheap date even when it wasn't really a date. Or maybe it was. He suspected neither of them really knew as they hadn't attached any definitions beyond celebrating Volker's downfall to their evening.

"Jane?" Lisbon asked from behind her Lager glass.

"Yes?" He was surprised she'd stopped eating while there was anything on her plate.

Lisbon wasn't that much of talker when there was steak on her plate. Neither was he for that matter.

"I think we should do this again, my treat. The service is excellent and the food is good. It certainly lives up to the reviews." Lisbon observed quietly somewhat surprised she was enjoying the evening as much as she was.

"We can do that or you can just come with me any Thursday night you want to come. I'm sure we can find two seats at that end of the bar. While considered the worse seats in the house, they're excellent for people watching, Eric gives exceptional service, and the food is every bit as good." Jane offered.

"I'd like that." She didn't really care if they sat at a table or at the bar. Jane would be equally good company either place and she liked bar food if they even had a separate menu.

"The only condition is it's my treat. My place, my treat. You can treat at your place." Jane said.

"I don't have a place." Lisbon resisted the urge to jab him for being difficult.

"Yes, you do." Jane reminded her.

"The greasy cop dive on 7th street." The place with the killer chicken wings they all liked.

"That's the one." Jane agreed as he picked up the dessert menu.

"Maybe we can hit there on Saturday night. We're not on call this weekend and we just wrapped up Volker. If we're lucky we can take Smithson and James to the cleaners again." Lisbon was about as fond of the two SAC PD officers as they were of her since they'd made it their business to make fun of Jane on a regular basis; but, they shot a mean game of pool and that was worth setting their differences aside for.

"Sounds like a plan." He was up for the challenge if Lisbon was.

"Good. I'll meet you there about 7:30. Smithson usually gets there around eight and James by eight thirty. That should give us time to grab something to eat and warm up." By her estimation, they'd be done by nine and she'd be in bed by ten. Plenty of time to get a good night's sleep and hit early Mass on Sunday morning.

"I'll be there." Jane handed over the dessert menu smirking at the way Lisbon's eyes lit up when she saw what it was. "It's getting late so we need to go ahead and order if we're going to."

"We're going to." Lisbon took the menu from his hand ignoring the look on Jane's face saying he was about to bring up something she didn't want to discuss. "I'm not going to like what you're about to say am I?"

"Probably not." Jane agreed.

"Then let's get it over with." Lisbon said knowing he wouldn't give up. "I want to enjoy the rest of the evening."

And anticipate doing it again and again. Lisbon refused to consider why she was doing anything as reckless as willingly spending planned time with Jane off the job. Whatever they were doing felt intriguingly dangerous and guiltily like mixing business with pleasure. Glancing at her mostly empty plate, Lisbon decided what the hell. She'd spent plenty of time with Jane outside of work. Granted, always haphazardly arranged at the last minute, not carefully planned with forethought as they were doing now. But, what did that matter? They weren't Wayne and Grace. They weren't breaking any rules and regulations. They were just hanging out. Hanging out and innocently blowing off steam as two good friends.

"What did Volker say or do that finally made you ask for my help?" Jane asked quietly forcing Lisbon to look up from her plate and abandon whatever thoughts had that slight blush staining her cheeks.

Lisbon shot him a look that seemed to say, 'Three dead bodies lying in the street wasn't enough?' It was. But, it was all the things happening before that Lisbon never shared he was concerned about. The things that had prompted her to ask for his help prior to the three dead bodies scenario. Those were the things that could matter now.

"Nothing really." Lisbon kept her eyes evasively focused on the dessert page pretending she hadn't already made up her mind.

"You were clearly frightened. If he didn't say anything, it was something he did." Jane watched her set the menu aside and waited for her response.

"It wasn't anything he said or anything he did." Lisbon forced herself to look at him as their server mysteriously reappeared at her side yet again. "I'd like a cup of coffee and the chocolate caramel brownie a la mode." The old fashioned dessert reminded her of happier times when she'd been a kid and her Mom was still alive. She hadn't expected to find something so extraordinarily ordinary on the menu of such an exclusive place.

Jane placed his order for the same deciding he could suffer through a cup of coffee for a change. It might make Lisbon more willing to talk if he did and he wasn't above using any trick in his arsenal.

"Lisbon, honestly, you've always been a terrible liar and you still are." Reaching out he lightly patted her hand in a manner only he could get away with.

"Fine. He said things like I looked good and I'd been working out." The words sounded ridiculous to her ears and she couldn't believe she was repeating them. "It wasn't really what he said. It was how he said it and how he looked saying it. He made my skin crawl."

"He frightened you." Jane said what Lisbon wouldn't.

"I don't know if I'd say frightened exactly." That was as close as she'd come to admitting the truth even with Jane. "He made me feel dirty in some crazy way."

She'd wanted a bath and when she'd finally gotten one, she'd almost scrubbed her skin raw. There was something about Volker that seemed to cling to her long after he was gone. Maybe it was the look in his eyes…Like he was doing unspeakably horrible things to her and enjoying every second of it.

She didn't have to be Jane to know Volker was dangerously cracked in a seriously sadistic manner.

"Earth to Lisbon." Lisbon became aware of Jane's hand lightly gripping hers and knew she'd betrayed more than she meant to by the look on her face.

"I'm okay." She watched Adam set their coffee and dessert in front of them before discretely exiting in a manner saying he was experienced, excellent at his job, and worth every bit of the generous tip she was sure Jane would leave him.

Initial impressions aside, Jane wasn't a stingy man. The handsome young man would be well compensated for his superior efforts in serving them. He'd made it his business to know when to appear and when to disappear and that was worth something to both of them.

"Yes, you are, and I want you to stay that way." As much as he didn't want to spoil their meal, there were a few things he needed to say.

"Meaning?" Lisbon added cream and sugar to her coffee as she clung to Jane's every word.

"Watch your back and don't put yourself in any danger until Volker's put away." Holding Lisbon's eyes, Jane mirrored her gesture in adding cream and sugar to his cup. He wasn't fond of coffee; but, suitably doctored he found it tolerable once in a while. "Once he is; verify he's where he's supposed to be on a regular basis. The man has friends in very high places. Friends with the kind of secrets killing him might bring to light where helping him disappear would keep them hidden. Were that to happen, I'm sure he'd pay you a visit on the way out of town. "

"You may be right." Lisbon agreed taking a sip of her coffee and adding a little more cream.

"I am; but, that's all I'm going to say on the matter." Jane decided, if one must drink coffee, his cup was quite good considering what it was. "I'd rather enjoy our dessert than completely spoil our evening by saying anything more."

"You haven't spoiled our evening and I'd much rather know you're guarding my back than saying what I want to hear." Lisbon scooped a bite of brownie and ice cream into her mouth deciding it was almost as good as the one her mom used to make.

"Remember that when I walk you to your car and you keep reminding me that you're fully capable of taking care of yourself and of exactly how many guns you have on your person." Jane motioned for Adam to bring him the check knowing Lisbon would be ready to leave soon. They'd both had a long day and it was getting late.

"I don't think that will be a problem." Lisbon said as she watched Adam refill her coffee cup and take Jane's credit card. "I parked beside you."

"That saves me some trouble." Jane sat back in his chair deciding perhaps he'd eaten too much.

"I'm going to need to go soon. I still have to stop by the market on the way home." Lisbon glanced at her watch debating whether she'd rather stop by the store tonight or go through a busy drive through on the way into work in the morning. Sleeping in a few extra minutes beat the hassle of fast food. "Don't even think about following me. If I see you car anywhere near the market or my house I'll shoot you. Volker was denied bail. We're both perfectly safe for the moment."

"I guess we are." Jane agreed. "Don't take any unnecessary chances."

"The same goes for you." Lisbon watched Jane tuck his credit card back in his wallet before pulling her chair out.

"I'm always careful." Jane said as rested his palm against the small of her back. "I don't have an arsenal of weaponry on my person."

"You don't need one. All you need to do is hypnotize someone." Lisbon quipped as they walked out the door well aware of how ridiculous she sounded.

#

"Where's Lisbon?" Jane queried as he ambled into the bullpen white paper bag and tea cup in hand fully expecting to find his last night's dinner date seated on the corner of Cho's desk already in full work mode.

"Not in yet." Rigsby didn't bother looking up from his computer screen as he unerringly took a massive bite of the raspberry jelly filled doughnut he'd snatched from the box he'd taken from Jane earlier in the break room before laying the pastry aside.

"That's not like Lisbon." Jane commented to no one in particular.

"Maybe she wanted to sleep in." Van Pelt added her two cents while a silent Cho watched everyone speculatively.

"That's not like Lisbon." Jane repeated feeling the first tingle of uneasiness.

Lisbon did not sleep in. It wasn't her style.

"It wouldn't be the first time Lisbon's done something unexpected." Rigsby licked jelly off of his fingertip ignoring Kimball's look of open disgust.

"Really? Are you sure about that? She's pretty predictable when it comes to things like getting to work on time. She takes that whole Team Leader setting an example thing seriously." Jane reminded Rigsby and Van Pelt though, by the not so inscrutable look on Cho's face, he didn't think he needed to remind the Korean Agent of the same.

"Fine, we'll play your game. If she's not at home sleeping or in the shower and she's not here, where do you think Lisbon is?" Rigsby leaned back in his chair fixing Jane with an aggravated stare.

"Volker has her." Jane said the one thing no one thought to hear and got the expected reaction.

"You're crazy." Rigsby shot Jane a glare saying he wasn't up for the melodrama. "Volker's in a prison cell and the Boss is out there cussing a blue streak looking for a way to circumvent traffic."

"I hope you're right." Jane took a calming sip of tea as he set the white bag containing Lisbon's favorite pastry on his rarely used desk clearly rethinking his previous insanity.

"Don't go all spooky on us because you can't make brownie points with the Boss." Rigsby knew Jane well enough to know he'd probably done something to get on Lisbon's last nerve and wanted to smooth troubled waters.

Why else would he bring her a separate treat when he'd already brought a dozen doughnuts for the rest of the team?

"I'd say dinner at Trevor's last night is all the brownie points I'll need for a while." And it probably was.

"You can't be serious? You took Lisbon to Trevor's? How'd you even get reservations in the first place?" Van Pelt shot Rigsby a look clearly saying that would be one way to get her attention again.

Rigsby shot Jane a look conveying his thanks for throwing him under the bus when it came to regaining Van Pelt's affections.

"I waited the four weeks like anyone else. The day before the night rolled around, I asked Lisbon to go with me and she accepted." Jane continued.

"Is there something we need to know?" Cho asked what they all wanted to find out.

Things had been kind of hinky between Lisbon and Jane for a while. They'd seemed much too close without doing anything to make anyone feel that way. Unless you wanted to call holding hands in the desert weird and out of the ordinary. Who knew with those two?

"I don't think so." The status of his relationship with Lisbon was none of their business. Not that there was anything to tell. But, still, she wouldn't appreciate the discussing of her private life. "Think about it? Who wants to eat alone in a fancy restaurant when you can do it with a friend?" Jane saw no need to admit he was a regular at the bar. "Actually, Lisbon met me there. I thought it would be a nice way to celebrate Volker's incarceration. She seemed to appreciate the gesture."

Jane's tone said he still wasn't comfortable with the current situation. But, he wasn't in a panic either. Not yet. He was doing his best to step back and take a page from the team's play book. In this instance, it was probably best to exhaust the common sense possibilities before jumping into insanity with both feet. Lisbon would not appreciate them bursting in on her bath.

Then again, he wasn't totally at ease with the lack of Lisbon's familiar presence either. He'd walked her to her car at a reasonable hour and seen her off. There was no reason she shouldn't be here at her regular time. None except one.

"Wayne, how many times has your boss overslept in the decade you've known her?" Jane tossed out there hoping, for once, his memory was wrong.

"Never." Rigsby didn't have to think about it.

Lisbon was never late because she was usually so early even being late for her wasn't being late by anyone else's estimation.

"I rest my case." Jane's tone was far calmer than he felt.

"Jane, Volker was denied bail." Rigsby tried again. "He's rotting in that cell where he's going to spend the rest of his crummy, nutjob life."

"Ah, Wayne, he's not." Van Pelt looked up from her computer screen. "The ruling was overturned. Volker was released last night."

"Shit." Cho said exactly what Jane was thinking.

"Come on, Guys, Volker's already half way to some country without an extradition treaty. He's not going to hang around messing with Lisbon when his freedom's on the line." Rigsby tried again unable to get his mind around the possibility Jane's whacked supposition was right.

"You're wrong." Jane fixed the Agent with a penetrating stare forcing him to accept his words. "He's not looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. Volker's not that kind of man. The way he sees it, he's got nothing left to lose. He might as well get his vengeance while he can. Have a little perverse fun at Lisbon's expense."

"What do you mean?" Grace perked up at his words. "He's already lost everything. The evidence against him is airtight."

"Yes, it is, and the biggest thing holding it all together is about this high with dark hair and bright green eyes." Jane held his hand right below his eyes. "With Lisbon out of the way, that air tight evidence isn't so airtight…It isn't that hard to make disappear."

"Not when you have friends in high places and the only real witness is a kid." Van Pelt observed having seen it all before. "He really is another Red John."

"Yeah, Grace, I suppose he is. Not as bloody, but every bit as narcissistic, cunning, and twisted." Jane agreed. "Call Lisbon's cell and her apartment again. If she doesn't answer, Volker's got her and he's had her since last night.

He got her somewhere between my walking her to her car at Trevor's and Lisbon's place. Probably at the market as she mentioned needing to pick up a few things." Jane shook his head knowing she could have stopped at any of the four or five places between the restaurant and her apartment and she'd probably have stopped at the one she thought the least crowded

"Shit." Rigsby repeated Cho's eloquence deciding he really was an idiot not to have taken Jane at his word.

If he said Volker had Lisbon, the freak had Lisbon, and she wasn't answering that phone. He could tell by Van Pelt's expression.

It was as simple as that.

"We need to tell Bertram." Cho tossed out to no one in particular.

"We don't need to tell anyone anything yet." Jane corrected him. "Not until we check out Lisbon's place and those markets along the way."

"We need to tell somebody. Get out a BOLO as soon as possible." Rigsby said more forcefully. "If Volker's got Lisbon, we don't have a minute to spare."

"While that may be true, we can't let Volker know we're on to him until the last possible moment. He needs to believe he's got the upper hand. Let him verify what we already know." Jane knew his words went against every cop instinct the team had; but, they needed to play the game his way for Lisbon's sake.

"You can't be serious." Cho openly snorted at the whole idea.

"Cho, he's not going to kill Lisbon. Not any time soon." Jane refused to back down from the three hard glares aimed his way. "Hurt her, yes; kill, no."

"That's what we need to prevent." Van Pelt's tone was outraged. "We can't do that without going after them."

"That's exactly what we don't need to do." Jane held up his hand as Rigsby opened his mouth to protest. "Go after them and Lisbon's as good as dead.

Volker will cut his losses, kill her, and disappear. " Jane watched their faces as the team digested the starkness of his words. "He'll be living it up on some island somewhere siphoning off funds from accounts we know nothing about while Lisbon rots in the ground."

"We'll do it your way." Cho spoke for all of them after a few minutes of tense eye-ball dueling between the three.

It wasn't necessary for Jane to say anything in response. The sudden expulsion of the breath he'd not known he was holding was enough. He hadn't been sure the team would cooperate and he was beyond grateful they were.

"How do you know he won't kill her?" Van Pelt asked the question on the tip of everyone's tongue.

"I'm sure that's his final intent; but, that being said, Volker likes to play with his prey before putting them out of their misery." Jane watched the team's involuntary recoil at his words knowing they weren't going to like what he had to say. "We have time on our side for the moment. Volker feeds on fear and degradation. It makes him feel invincible.

Unfortunately, Lisbon showed him otherwise and he's going to make her pay."

"Damn it, Jane, you're saying it's torture Lisbon time." Rigsby hadn't expected those words to pass his lips when he'd bowed to Cho's silent alpha male eyeball bullying earlier. "That's why we need to go to Bertram and get a BOLO out."

"That's why we need to wait." Jane reminded him. "The most we need to do is check out the markets between the restaurant and Lisbon's place to see if they caught anything on video verifying my hypothesis. Once we know I'm right, we'll know where to go from there."

"How will we know that?" Cho asked.

"We should have our first communication by then." Jane answered quietly.

"What do you mean?" Van Pelt's curiosity was aroused. "You mean like Red John? He's going to hack into the computer system or something?"

"Nothing so devious." Jane held out his phone. "He's going to contact me…By video if I don't miss my guess."

"Why would he do that?" Rigsby asked.

"I openly challenged him from right over there on a quiet afternoon not so long ago." Jane pointed in the direction of his couch. "And I helped Lisbon bring him down."

"So, he's going to torture you as well." Cho said unnecessarily. "I don't like any of this."

"Neither do I; but, none of us asked to play his sick little game." Jane looked him in the eye. "We aren't being given a choice. That being said, I'd suggest we get a move on. The longer we dally, the longer it's going to be before we get that first video."

"You make it sound like Volker's watching us." Van Pelt shuddered at the repulsive thought.

"What do you think?" Jane let Grace draw her own conclusion and knew by her reaction that she was right. "We're wasting time when we shouldn't."

Tipping his head in the direction of the elevator, Cho motioned for the rest of the team to fall into line. Following Lisbon's agents, Jane stepped into the elevator watching the doors drift closed as he contemplated what he was going to do now that his worst nightmare was taking place. Beyond saving Lisbon, and making Volker pay, he hadn't a clue.

"How did Volker get her in the first place?" Rigsby asked no one in particular. "It isn't like the man could walk up to her in plain sight and put a gun to her head. He'd have been recognized and Lisbon would have put up a fight."

"How do you think?" Cho asked amazed at his fellow agent's obtuseness considering how good an agent Rigsby really was. "Someone she knew delivered her to him."

"Someone she knew from work." Van Pelt volunteered knowing it could be anyone from the SAC PD to the Feebs to Homeland Security. The potential suspects were endless unless they got a big break. "Someone Lisbon wouldn't think twice about walking into that parking lot with."

"You're right, Grace." Jane said as he stepped aside to allow the rest of the agents to lead the way out of the building. "That's why we better hope there's a video showing us precisely who that person is or Volker has more than just an upper hand."

"Rigsby, you and Van Pelt ride together. We'll meet up at Trevor's and go from there." Cho didn't expect any resistance as he assumed Lisbon's role as Team Leader and he didn't get any. The Boss would expect nothing less. He'd already proven he was up for the job. All he had to do was take it. "Jane's coming with me."

Nothing else was said as the partners split up heading in different directions each with their mind on a case none of them cared to contemplate.