A/N: A thousand apologies for the delay in posting this, the final, chapter but I do hope you'll forgive me? Things have been...hard lately to say the least but I really wanted to get this finished and out there.
Huge thanks to everyone that reviewed the previous chapter, I honestly wasn't expecting that kind of response considering I refrained from putting them together so it was amazing, thank you :)
Anyway, enough rambling and onto the final part. Spoilers for the episode, 'There Will Be Blood.'
I'll see you at the end...
Jane sat and stared blankly out of the attic window not even seeing the Sacramento skyline. A cup of tea, long since grown cold, remained untouched on the desk in front of him. Next to the bright blue china sat his notebook. It was turned to the back where an inked drawing of a tree took up most of the last page. It was a bittersweet image, conjuring up even more bittersweet memories.
Lisbon had drawn it. Just like she'd joked she had right before he'd gone and ruined everything. Maybe permanently. He certainly hoped not, but she was proving tougher talk around then he'd envisaged. Her demeanour was professional, rigidly so, even now after the seven weeks since their return to Sacramento.
A cold tolerance bordering upon indifference is what she subjected him to every single damn day. He hated it. Loathed it. Tried every trick he knew to try and snap her out of it, but nothing had worked. Not even come close. She was determined to remain firmly encamped on her side of the seemingly unassailable abyss of their broken relationship.
Sometimes he wished he could just take everything back. Rewind time and say to hell with Red John. It had been on the tip of his tongue on countless occasions…but he knew he couldn't, just as he also knew he wouldn't even if he could. It was for the best in the long run. What was done, was done and he had no choice but to live with it.
At least they'd caught the bad guys. Much good it'd do. Newland would probably be out in a few years as he hadn't actually killed anyone…so he said. It was easy to blame other people when they were dead and there was no actual physical evidence to refute his story. It was annoying to say the least but he really hadn't expected anything else. He knew it had frustrated the team, especially Lisbon, but for all their years working within the system, Jane still understood the law better than they did and he knew that, sometimes, it just wasn't good enough.
His gaze fell upon the doodle and a soft smile touched his lips. Lifting a hand, he ran a finger down the page, feeling the indentation of the lines left by the nib of the pen. It was basic at best, but to him it was much better than any of those paintings by famous artists. They still had a price attached to them whereas this…this was priceless, simply because she'd drawn it. For him.
Impulsively, he ripped the page out of the book and carefully folded it up. Taking out his wallet, he flipped it open then deftly placed the paper inside one of the card slots, making sure he wouldn't lose it. Closing it up, he put it back into his pocket, shut the notebook and stood up.
Turning around, he stared at the intricate suspect board he'd made after Lorelei had told him he'd met Red John almost as if he'd forgotten about its very existence. He hadn't of course, but the burning desire for revenge that had once driven him on, day after day and night after night had dimmed somewhat ever since Lisbon's declaration.
Now, in its place a new longing was forming, was shaping his actions. One that was so unexpected that it had left him reeling a little. For the first time since his wife and child's deaths, he saw a real possibility for a future. With Lisbon.
Naturally these feelings had been a shock. He'd been so certain that nothing or no-one could ever lead him away from his chosen path of self-destruction, but these past few weeks had proved him wrong.
Not that he'd given up without a fight. No; he'd tried to find that craving within himself again, but although the guilt was still there, the horror, the devastation of that night long ago, he found to his consternation that he now also had a very real, almost compulsive yearning to hear Lisbon utter those three little words again.
Hell, he'd take a smile, mild amusement even…anything but the unremitting freeze to which she was currently subjecting him. He really hadn't been prepared for how much the situation would affect him.
He'd thought was so in control of his feelings that nothing could penetrate his carefully protected façade, but ever since she'd walked out of his hospital room, he'd felt such remorse that it was almost a physical ache. It was unlike him to have regrets, but that day, that hour, was definitely one of them.
He let out an abrupt sigh then took a couple of steps closer to the board, his gaze running over the familiar timelines and photos. Maybe his real problem was that he still hadn't heard from Lorelei. He'd expected to have had some contact by now and the silence was making him antsy. Making him doubt himself and his decisions. Once she just called or sent word to him, everything would go back to normal; his normal at least.
Still, it bothered him that he'd allowed himself to be sidetracked like that. When Lisbon's feelings had remained her own, it had been far easier to ignore them. Now, he recognised that he was fast becoming as fixated with them as he was catching Red John…more so even.
It was disconcerting to say the least.
There was a sudden knocking at the door and he looked over at it in surprise. He hadn't heard anyone approach. He frowned. Yet more proof that he wasn't as on his game as he should be.
"Who is it?" he called out.
"It's me," came Lisbon's sober voice.
His frown deepened at her tone. It wasn't as curt as it had been the past few weeks. She also hadn't been up to the attic since their return, so what could have happened that it had prompted her unexpected visit now?
Naturally, his first thought was Red John. He strode over to the door and slid it back enough that he could poke his head through the gap. He felt a cold dread begin to trickle through his veins as he took in her sombre expression.
"What's up?" he asked quietly.
She eyed him with some trepidation and seemed to be reluctant to reply but then she suddenly took a deep breath and revealed, "Sac PD just called. It's Lorelei. She's killed someone. A woman called Julia Howard. I'm going down to the station to view some footage they recovered from the nanny cam in her house."
Jane felt as though all the air had gone out of his body. There had to be some mistake, hadn't there? Surely it couldn't be Lorelei? Someone who looked like her, possibly, but not really her. She was supposed to contact him; that was the plan, not murder someone.
"You coming?" Lisbon asked, cutting in on his internal rambling.
He stared at her blankly for a moment trying to gather in his thoughts then nodded.
"Let me just get my notebook," he said absently as he turned and went back into the attic.
He went over to his desk and picked up the book then put it into his jacket pocket. Hearing a small gasp from behind, he belatedly realised that he'd left the door open and turned to see Lisbon standing in front of the suspect board he'd made up. Due to their estrangement, she'd hadn't seen it yet.
"Oh my God," she breathed as she stared at all the collated information in shock. "You've really put a lot of thought into this."
"That's because I really want to catch him, Lisbon," he replied pointedly as he took a step towards her. He studied her averted features for a moment and felt a rush of longing crash through his body. Before he even knew what he was saying he added in a softer tone, "Even more so now that I know how you feel."
She stiffened as his words hung in the air between them, then she slowly turned and looked at him with a faint frown. "Don't do that," she told him after a pause.
"Do what?" he challenged.
"Don't make this out to be anything other than your need for revenge," she replied with a trace of bitterness.
"But what if it isn't anymore?" he countered, taking another step towards her. "Maybe I've realised that there's a future for me…for us."
Her eyes narrowed and she shook her head. "Stop it," she ordered tightly. "Stop trying to play me because Lorelei is back on the scene. A few empty words aren't going to make me agree to whatever it is you have planned."
"Oh please, if I wanted to play you, do you honestly think that I'd pretend that I'd changed?" he retorted in frustration. "What's the point when I know you'd never believe me? That's not how the con works and you know it."
She looked a little taken aback at his words but it wasn't until a light blush coated her cheeks that he allowed himself to relax a little.
"So…what are you saying?" she asked somewhat hesitantly.
A slight smile touched his lips and took another step closer. Near but not quite touching…yet.
"I'm saying that when this is all over, once we've caught Red John, I'd like to be with you," he told her gently before suddenly shrugging and adding in a lighter tone, "Or if you can't agree to that considering what an ass I've been, then could you at least tell me that there's a possibility of being with you?"
He hoped she understood what else he was telling her. That he didn't have a death wish anymore. That he had her to live for.
She held his gaze for a few moments, a mixture of uncertainty, hurt and hope shining bright in her eyes then she looked down with a sigh before saying, "I'm not waiting another ten years, Jane. Not even for you."
His stomach lurched a little but his kept his tone light as he asked, "Is that a yes…or a no?"
She held his gaze for a moment then her mouth quirked up into a ghost of a smile. "That's a definite maybe," she replied.
Jane felt his stomach settle back into place and he instinctively reached out to touch her on the arm. His fingers slowly slid downwards, little shocks of awareness shooting through his system at every brush of contact until he encircled her hand and squeezed it gently. After weeks of not being allowed to engage in even the barest of physical contact, it felt like coming home.
"I can live with that," he whispered, staring deep into her eyes.
As she gazed back at him, Jane knew that it would have been so easy to take that final step, to move into each other's arms and seal their agreement in a more satisfying way…but not now. It wasn't their time; soon though.
As if coming to the same realisation, Lisbon suddenly cleared her throat then looked away as she pulled her hand from his and took a step backwards. Jane resisted the urge to grasp her tighter and relinquished his hold as soon he felt her move.
Blushing furiously, she glanced up at him then nodded towards the door. "We'd better get going."
Jane nodded and his expression turned serious as his brain suddenly came into sharper focus than it had in weeks.
Finding some resolution, some hope, with Lisbon felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders and he could function properly once more. Which was good, because there was more at stake than ever before. Both his past and his future depended heavily on Lorelei and what information he could garner from her. She certainly hadn't come back in the way he'd expected but he be damned if he was going to let this opportunity slide. He would stop at nothing now.
He followed Lisbon out of the attic with a new sense of purpose. This was the beginning of the final chapter, he just knew it, and for the first time since his family had been murdered he could finally see beyond the last page.
A/N: And that's a wrap! I hope you enjoyed/liked Redwood, I've thoroughly enjoyed writing it even though it's been a challenge at times. All reviews welcome :)
For those of you interested, I do have a sequel in the works but I felt I needed to end this particular story here. It's untitled as present, so please put me on your author alert if you want to know what happens to them.
In the meantime I shall be updating WMYBT soon as I've ignored it for far too long and quite honestly, I feel the need to write something a little lighter :)
Until the next time...