Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, and I'm certainly not making any money off them.
A/N: Total fluff.
"As I was saying, the projections for next quarter are not looking favorable at this point, so make sure you submit your form 442s on time, or funds currently available to your teams may be allocated elsewhere-"
Lisbon tuned out the sound of Wainwright's droning voice and glanced towards the window. She was in the unit leads monthly budget meeting, but her eyes kept straying to the glass partition separating the conference room from the hallway. She reprimanded herself, telling herself sternly to focus, but she couldn't help it. She wasn't sure how, but these meetings had somehow gotten even more boring since Wainwright had taken over. At least Hightower and LaRoche had the decency to recognize how odious these meetings were, despite the necessity of having them. Wainwright seemed to almost relish them. Jane said it was because Wainwright excelled at tedium and it was therefore the element in which he was the most comfortable.
Lisbon looked out the window again. Jane usually found some way or another break up the monotony of these meetings by executing some kind of trick partway through the meeting, but so far, nothing. She wondered if he was cooking up something even more outlandish than normal, although what exactly would qualify as more outlandish than normal for Jane was hard to say. He'd sent Wainwright a singing telegram once. Another time, he'd set a duck loose in the hall. Halfway through the last meeting, he'd flown a model plane past the window with a tiny banner attached to it that read 'Smile, Lisbon. The drones will NOT inherit the earth.'
Wainwright had lectured Jane sternly about professionalism and the importance of not disrupting meetings, but Jane had listened with that characteristic ease of manner which meant that he'd listen to all the yelling his superiors had breath for, but he had no intention of altering his behavior unless it damn well suited him. Jane had listened politely, thanked Wainwright for the insight into his leadership philosophy, and left with a wink to Lisbon.
"Honestly," Wainwright said, exasperated. "Sometimes I think he's like the class clown trying to get the attention of the prettiest girl in the schoolyard."
Lisbon flushed at his implication, and then Wainwright, realizing what he'd said, turned bright red as well. "Not that you—that he—not that I think you're pretty, or anything." Then—"Not that I *don't* think you're pretty. Of course I do—you're a very beautiful woman. But as your boss—well, what I mean to say is—I don't think of you as anything. That is, except a superior agent and an excellent team leader. Because to think anything else would be unprofessional—"
Lisbon held up a hand to forestall him before he went any further down this deeply uncomfortable path. "Sir, please don't apologize. I know what you meant. I know better than anyone that Jane at times defies conventional description."
Wainwright let out a deep breath. "Yes, he does."
Lisbon always yelled at Jane herself after these stunts, but of course the bastard knew she secretly found them amusing and her words had even less effect on him than usual. She *did* enjoy having something to break up the tedium of those never-ending meetings. He always managed to get a smile out of her when she first caught sight of his latest prank, even if she did school her features into a disapproving expression when giving him the obligatory dressing down afterwards.
Today, however, there had been no singing telegram, no hysterical duck with a firework attached to its tail. Maybe Jane was getting bored with his own games. Lisbon tried to feel glad of this and the corresponding reduction in paperwork it entailed, but somehow she couldn't quite manage it. Okay, so she was glad about having less paperwork, but Jane just wasn't being Jane if he wasn't up to something or another that ended up making her life more difficult in the end.
Come to think of it, he had been playing fewer pranks in general lately. She hadn't really thought about it before, but their last two cases had been solved by what Lisbon called good solid detective work rather than one of Jane's convoluted schemes. She was pleased to be able to show Jane that what he called tedious drudgery did pay off now and then, but was it possible she'd been focusing on the wrong part of the equation? She'd congratulated Cho and Van Pelt on a job well done, but maybe she should have considered the idea that it wasn't that they were so above and beyond their normal standard of work, but that Jane was somehow off his game.
When the budget meeting finally let out, she headed back to the bullpen. The team was working diligently (though Rigsby's diligence was accompanied by a steady stream of snacking and the occasional covert glance at Van Pelt).
Jane, predictably, was lying on the couch, eyes closed. She thought about waking him up to give him a hard time about not working, but hesitated. Jane had been looking rather tired lately. Which meant that he was getting even less sleep than usual. She decided to let him sleep. He probably needed the rest.
"I'm not asleep," Jane said, without opening his eyes. "Though I do appreciate you trying to make sure that I'm getting enough rest. That's very thoughtful of you, Lisbon."
"You okay?" she asked tentatively.
"I'm fine. How was the meeting?"
"Eh. The usual."
He opened his eyes and looked at her. "Wainwright give you the standard spiel about tightening our belts and documenting your efforts in triplicate?"
Jane stood. "All right, then. Let's go."
Lisbon looked at him blankly. "Go where?"
"To your office. You want to talk to me about our next case without disturbing the others, don't you?"
"I—yeah." Again, a hesitation. "We don't have to do it now, if you need to finish your nap."
"I told you I wasn't sleeping."
"All right," Lisbon said, allowing Jane to usher her into her office with his hand at the small of her back. But once they were inside her office, she hesitated again. He was unshaven and he did look tired. His face was a bit drawn. "You sure you're all right? You don't look so good."
"Why the sudden concern, Lisbon?"
"Ah, you were disappointed that I didn't create one of my amusing scenarios during the budget meeting and you had to sit through the whole hour of Wainwright blathering on about quarterly projections without anything to distract you."
"Not at all," she lied. "I was relieved you decided to act like a professional for once. It was nice to sit through a meeting without having to deal with any of your antics."
He smiled at her. "Liar. Don't worry, just because I didn't have time to have any live poultry delivered to the CBI today doesn't mean I'm going off the deep end."
Lisbon was not reassured. "But everything is all right?"
"Don't fuss, Lisbon. Everything's fine."
"I'm not fussing, I'm just asking. You don't seem quite yourself."
"I just thought I'd try to catch up on some sleep during your meeting instead of coming up with a new scheme to entertain you and pester Wainwright."
"You said you weren't sleeping before," Lisbon pointed out.
"I was *trying* to sleep. I just wasn't successful. Now, are we going to keep talking about this, or are you actually going to tell me about the case?
Lisbon let the subject drop, and probably would have left it at that, but the signs that something was off with Jane only grew more apparent over the next couple of weeks.
It was obvious he wasn't sleeping. He really didn't look good, Lisbon observed critically. She'd seen him tired before, of course, but even on previous occasions when he'd gone through periods of insomnia, he managed not to let it affect his appearance much beyond appearing attractively rumpled instead of immaculately pressed. But now, he wasn't faring so well. In fact, he looked downright terrible. For the first time since she'd met him, Patrick Jane looked something less than irritatingly perfect. Dark circles seemed to have taken up permanent residence under his eyes under his eyes, and hollows appeared in his cheeks which had never been there before. His suits hung loosely on his frame and he looked positively gaunt, though there hadn't been any change in his eating habits that she could notice. She worried that he was ill, but he insisted he wasn't. No, everything seemed to hinge on a lack of sleep. She nagged him about going to the doctor to get a refill of his prescription for sleeping pills, but he told her the pills hadn't been working.
She got him an extra blanket for his couch and even bought him a new pillow, but nothing seemed to help. She raided his tea stash and purged every tea bag she suspected had even a trace of caffeine, but that didn't seem to help, either. She let him lie on her couch while she was working, on the theory that it would be easier for him to sleep in the slightly more quiet environment of her office than out in the noisy bullpen, but he tossed and turned the whole time, and she spent the time worrying instead of working.
The breaking point, though, didn't come until about two weeks after Jane's failure to disrupt the monthly budget meeting.
Jane was punchy. This was a sight to behold. He was moving around with a manic energy and displaying even less tact than usual. While in some circumstances this might have been amusing, Lisbon couldn't seem to find the humor in the situation.
He, who was usually so guarded and controlled, seemed not to make an effort to censor himself even the slightest bit before blurting out every thought that came into his head as it occurred to him.
One of his infamous plans had gone horribly wrong, and the whole team was on a knife's edge, everyone stiff with tension. The plan had been an absolute disaster from the word go, and Grace had nearly been killed. Jane had pegged the wrong man as the killer, and while the rest of the team was chasing the wrong suspect, the real killer had nearly succeeded in killing Van Pelt and would have done so if Lisbon hadn't realized what was going on at the last minute and ordered the team to double back and look for her when she failed to report in on the radio check. Now Grace was shaken, Rigsby was white with anger that Jane had put Grace in danger, Cho was grimacing in pain from a knife wound to the arm the killer had managed to inflict before he'd gotten the cuffs on him, and Lisbon was pissed at herself for agreeing to go along with Jane's plan in the first place. She'd let herself be persuaded despite her misgivings and Van Pelt had nearly paid the price. In retrospect, she could see the plan hadn't even made sense, but since Jane's plans never seemed to make sense at first, she hadn't dismissed the idea out of hand as she should have. Now she was coming down from an adrenaline rush sparked by the fear of her own mistake costing the life of one of her team members.
Jane, meanwhile, kept lifting items from the pockets of the local sheriff, and then presenting them back to him by flicking the items against the man's nose. When Lisbon told him to leave the poor man alone, Jane insisted that he deserved it. He said he was only doing it because the man had squidgy eyes, whatever the hell that meant, and men with squidgy eyes weren't to be trusted. She finally had to grab him by the arm and drag him forcibly over to the rest of the team.
At the sight of the team, he balked and pulled back.
She stopped. "What the hell is the matter with you?" she snapped.
"Don't make me face them," he begged her. "Please, Lisbon. They'll kill me and leave my body parts scattered through the forests to be eaten by wolves. I don't want to be eaten by wolves."
Lisbon was in no mood for this. "You're going to have to take your chances." She yanked him forward and he stumbled a little as she thrust him back into the midst of the group.
Jane went straight to Van Pelt. "Lovely Grace," he said, with his most charming smile. "Please tell Rigsby that what happened wasn't my fault."
Van Pelt's eyes hardened. "It was your fault."
"Yes, I know," he answered in a stage whisper. "But kindly tell Rigsby that it wasn't so he doesn't kill me for putting you in harm's way."
"It isn't funny, Jane," Rigsby said angrily. "She could have been killed."
Cho stopped examining the bandage on his arm and looked up at him. "What's going on with you, man? It's not like you to let things get so out of hand."
Jane rubbed his hand over his face. "I can't sleep." There was something horribly desperate in his eyes as he spoke. "I just haven't been able to sleep in so long."
Cho nodded. "Well, you'd better figure something out. You can't keep going on like this."
"Yeah," Jane said sounding defeated.
The others nodded, not happy, but the tension had lessened considerably and they were all looking at him more in pity than anger now.
Jane looked at Van Pelt. "I really am sorry, Grace."
"Don't worry about it," she said gruffly. "Everyone's fine now, that's what matters."
Jane nodded, but then he seemed to sway lightly and lose his balance. He staggered to one side and reached his hand out for balance. Lisbon caught him and he leaned heavily against her side.
Oof. He weighed a ton. "Jesus, Jane, you really are a mess," she said. "You should go home."
"No, no, I'm fine," he said. "Just… let me lean on you for a minute."
"All right." She tried not to think about what they must look like to the rest of the team, standing together with his arm around her shoulder and her arm around his waist anchoring him to her, and concentrated on keeping him upright. "Rigsby, can you tie up any loose ends with the good sheriff? Van Pelt, if you're up for it, would you mind touching base with the victim's family? Cho—" Lisbon broke off at the sensation of Jane picking up a strand of her hair from where it lay against her shoulder and lifting it to his nose. "Jane, what the hell are you doing?"
"Mm, cinnamon," Jane said, breathing in deeply. "It's a very comforting smell. Soothing." He leaned in and buried his nose in Lisbon's hair, nuzzling against her head. "Do you think I could sleep if I had some cinnamon candles around?"
Lisbon jerked away and ignored the poorly concealed smirks on the faces of the rest of the team. "That's it. No more arguments. You're done here."
Jane blinked. "What are you saying?"
"I'm benching you, Jane. You're off the case."
Jane's eyes didn't leave hers. "The case is closed."
"You're off the next case, and any other case, until you sort out whatever the hell is going on with you."
Rigsby's eyes widened and he jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "I'll just go—got to talk to the sheriff."
"Yeah, me too," Van Pelt mumbled, beating a hasty retreat after Rigsby, neither eager to witness the scene that would undoubtedly follow this declaration.
Jane ignored them. "Lisbon, is this really necessary? I admit I'm not exactly at my best, but what purpose will it serve to-"
She cut him off. "You need to sleep, Jane."
"Don't you think I've *tried* to sleep? All I want to do is sleep. I just can't."
"I don't care. Do whatever it takes. You're not doing yourself of anyone else any good in the state you're in. Go wherever you like—go to the beach, or a nice peaceful sanitarium, for all I care, but don't come back to work until you've slept at least eight hours in a row and can demonstrate that you are once again capable of rational thought. Now, give me your keys."
"Oh, Lisbon, really? I'm perfectly capable of—"
She ignored him and held out her hand expectantly. "Keys, now. You're not fit to drive right now."
He sighed and handed his keys over to her. She pocketed them and peeled off a couple of bills, which she handed to Cho. "Here's fifty bucks. Should be enough for cab fare to anywhere in the city he wants to go, but make sure he gets in the cab. I'll wrap up here and check in with you later, okay?"
Cho took the money. "Yes, ma'am." And he frog marched Jane away from the crime scene.
Lisbon didn't get home until late that night. Tying up everything at the scene had been no small task, and then she'd gone back to the office to smooth things over with Wainwright, who was understandably upset that their consultant had nearly caused one of their agents to be killed.
She was exhausted. In addition to it having been an extraordinarily hellish day, she was short on sleep herself. Preoccupied as she'd been by worrying about Jane, she'd been having trouble falling asleep, too. She debated investigating the fridge to see if she had any leftovers that were still edible, but decided to hell with it, she just wanted to go to bed. She was pretty sure there was nothing in the fridge, anyway.
She headed up the stairs and went into her room. She peeled her shirt off as she entered without bothering to turn on the lights, planning to do nothing but strip off her clothes and grab a t shirt to sleep in before crawling into bed.
She took no more than two steps inside the door before a voice to her left cut the silence of her still apartment. "I suggest you stop there if you don't want to keep your consultant awake for entirely different reasons than usual."
She whipped around and had her gun trained on the place where the voice had come from before she'd processed what was happening. Adrenaline spiking, she turned on the lights.
There, lying on her bed, under the covers, was Patrick Jane, blinking against the bright light as his eyes adjusted to coming out of the darkness. "Hello, Lisbon."