It was around midnight when she finally yielded to temptation and tiptoed downstairs. The chocolate chip ice cream tasted so good that she couldn't resist having some more. She just hoped that her niece would forgive her for stealing her favorite dessert. Annabeth Lisbon had a sweet tooth and a short temper, but she hoped she would understand.
As she savored the first spoonful she curled up on the sofa and closed her eyes. Chocolate was her best friend these days, especially since Jane had vanished from her life. She couldn't get him out of her mind though. The way he'd kissed her all over and made love to her – almost reverently – before leaving. Then, there was the note he'd left on her nightstand, begging her not to look after him. Where was he right now? Why had he left at all? She had no idea.
She nearly dropped the half-empty bowl when she felt a hand being placed on her shoulder.
"You shouldn't be eating at this time of night. It isn't healthy, or so they say."
"Tommy, you scared me. I thought you were asleep."
Her brother sat down beside her. "I was actually looking forward to talking to you without Annie being present."
A look of concern immediately showed in her eyes. "Is anything wrong?"
Tommy raised an eyebrow. "Shouldn't I be the one to ask you that question?"
It was clear that he felt slightly uneasy about broaching the subject with his big sister. Teresa simply shrugged.
"Are you sure?"
"I can't say I'm particularly happy about Jane's sudden departure, but I expected nothing less. I can live with it."
"What about the other thing?"
She put on her best ingenuous-looking face. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"I'm sure you do. You've stopped drinking coffee and started going to of the bathroom more and more often. Not to mention that it's the third time you've snuck to the kitchen at night…"
Her voice held a distinct note of warning, but he seemed completely unperturbed by it.
"Reese, I have every right to worry about you. You're my sister."
"I'm also a big girl. Remember that."
She held his gaze for a moment, and then suddenly looked away.
"Fine, I think I'm pregnant. Are you happy now?"
Tommy had never been the touchy-feely kind of guy, but he still took hold of her hand and squeezed it tightly. Teresa appreciated the gesture; it was the kind of support she needed right now.
"Are you happy, Reese?"
She bit her lip. In spite of all that had happened, she couldn't regret carrying Jane's child, if that turned out to be the case. In a way, it was a sort of parting gift he'd given her. The most precious she could have asked for.
Her eyes met her brother's once again.
"I will be, Tommy. I will be."
Lisbon couldn't keep from smiling each and every time she felt her baby moving inside her belly. At first she had tried to hide her happiness, at least from the members of her own team. In the end she'd just given up.
She was going to be a mother in a couple of months; she had every right to be happy.
The only thing that cast a shadow over her impeding motherhood was the thought of Jane. No man should be robbed of his own child. And especially not someone like Jane, who had endured so many losses in his life already.
Except that she had no idea how he might react to such news. He'd left for a reason, after all. Perhaps he was already adjusting to some sort of normal life again. And he'd asked her not to try and contact him. She was just going to have to respect his wish.
That didn't mean she would forget about him. She'd just go on with her life and devote herself to her son. She had found out the sex during her most recent scan, and now, she really needed to think of a name for him. As much as she'd like to call him Patrick, she knew that she couldn't do that. It would have been too obvious.
When her colleagues had discreetly inquired about her baby's father, she'd implied that he was some stranger she'd met as she stayed at Tommy's place. Just another of her one-night stands that she had no intention of ever meeting again. She'd justified keeping the baby because she figured she'd never have another chance at motherhood.
Her instinct had prompted her to do her best in order to protect Jane. She felt bad about lying to her friends, but that was a price she had to pay. A sigh escaped from her lips as she recalled how good he'd always been with kids. In the last decade, they'd helped so many children in one way or another. Kids were a blessing, she told herself. The light of your life; that was what Jane had said to a woman ten years before.
A woman whom he'd been lying to, but he'd given her hope nonetheless. And then he'd saved her son, Connor.
She liked it. Baby Connor might as well be the light of her own life too.
As soon as Connor called, she rushed to his side. He thrust a piece of paper into her hands and she took a look at it. Then, she gave him a warm smile. Connor was indeed the light of her life.
"What a beautiful drawing, honey. Thank you."
Of course he'd drawn his mother holding her gun. Teresa Lisbon was her son's hero and she wouldn't have had it any other way. She took him in her lap and affectionately ruffled his dark hair, considering once again how much her son reminded her of Jane. It was probably the way his dimples showed when he smiled. Then, there was the childlike trust the boy had in her, just as Jane had used to. No one else had probably noticed as much, since her child resembled her very closely. Yet she could see it, and it was enough to make her both happy and sad at the same time.
She just hoped that Jane could find something close enough to happiness, wherever he was right now.
As for her, she had Connor; she didn't need anything else.
She could almost forget how much she still missed Jane. She'd realized the fact that she was in love with him – had been for years now – only after she'd given birth to his child. A bit too late; but she was used to keep her expectations low, so it didn't really matter.
Her cellphone rang and she bit her lip to prevent herself from chuckling. When he pouted, Connor resembled his father even more.
"Hi, Cho. Got a new lead? Yep, I'm coming. I just have to call Connor's babysitter."
The little boy clung to her. "I don't want you to go away, Mommy."
"I'm sorry, darling. I'll be back as soon as possible. I promise."
She didn't know for certain that she wasn't going to be able to keep her promise. How could she? Her job was still dangerous, but she needed the income in order to support her little family.
There was no such thing as psychics, after all.
She was disorientated and confused when she woke up in a hospital bed.
A doctor finally informed her that she'd been shot in the head, and they'd had to keep her in an induced coma for almost a month.
Her first thought was for her son. Where was Connor, and who was looking after him right now? One of the nurses said that the child had been visiting her quite often throughout the last weeks along with a kindly redhead and a handsome blond man. Teresa heaved a sigh of relief. Grace was taking care of Connor, so she didn't have to worry at all. She was unsure about the identity of the man, however, but presumed it was a boyfriend or relative of Grace's. Since her experience with Craig O'Laughlin, Van Pelt had refused to talk much about that specific subject.
After that she dozed off, only to wake up when Connor himself burst into the room. Her child was in her arms before she even had a chance to say a word.
"Missed you, Mommy," he whispered simply.
She cradled him gently against her chest. "I'm sorry, sweetheart."
None of them – not even Grace, who was currently smiling at her friend – noticed that the other visitor who'd been waiting outside had suddenly turned away and left.
Her heart was in her mouth when she finally stepped into her apartment. Was Jane really beside her, with his arm wrapped around her waist in order to support her? She leaned on him as he helped her to the bedroom. If this was just a dream, then she had no intention of waking up.
Five long years without him, and now he was there again.
When Connor had told her that her friend Patrick was back she simply couldn't believe it. Then he'd finally shown up at the hospital with an apologetic look on his face, and she'd forgotten about everything else. Even though he had visited her daily since she recovered consciousness, she could still scarcely believe he was there at all.
As she stole a furtive glance towards him, she realized something she'd never considered before.
He cared for her still. Almost as much as she still cared for him, she suspected.
And he already adored his son as well.
They could still be a family, if they wanted to. Both Jane and Connor had probably worked out they were father and son, she assumed. However, she knew she would have to tell them both the truth one day soon.
For now, she contented herself with falling asleep next to him, while his fingers gently grazed her brow.
She'd just finished reading Connor a bedtime story when he looked her in the eyes and finally asked that question.
"Is Patrick my daddy, Mommy?
Teresa ran her fingers lightly on his cheek. "Yes, honey. He's your daddy."
"Why did you lie?"
"I'm sorry for keeping the truth from you, Connor. It's… complicated, you know."
"Because of what happened to his family?"
"That's why he had to leave, because he was sad about them?"
She fought with the sudden lump in her throat. "I guess so."
The child stared at the ceiling for a while, very deep in thought.
"But he's going to stay with us now?"
Teresa placed a soft kiss on his brow. "He's actually asked me to marry him."
Connor's eyes lit up all of a sudden. "What did you say?"
"I said yes. Are you happy about it?"
"Mommy! Yes! Does that mean we're going to be a real family now?"
She nodded and he leaned back against the pillow with a big smile spread across his face. Teresa was certain that he thought this was the best news he could ever have heard.
"What do you think you're doing here?"
Jane frowned uncomprehendingly. "I just wanted to have a cup of tea, that's all."
Teresa smirked as she snatched the teapot from his hands. "Go back to your couch, Patrick. I'm going to make your tea myself."
Then the teapot risked to meet an untimely end as he backed her against the kitchen counter and he kissed her like he wanted to make up for lost time. They quickly pulled away when Connor entered the kitchen still wearing his pajamas and asked for something to drink. Jane poured him a glass of orange juice and gently stroked his tousled hair.
The little boy trotted away merrily, only to pause on the threshold and turn towards his parents.
"Don't kiss in front of me anymore! It's gross."
With that he shot them an impish grin and disappeared through the door.
Teresa rolled her eyes playfully. "Looks like he's inherited your nosiness."
"Well, like father like son, or so they say."
"What have I done to deserve this punishment?"
"Shut up, woman. That's one of the things you love about me; don't you dare to deny it."
She just stood on her tiptoes and kissed him again, before finally turning her attention back to the teapot.
"I told him about us last night."
Her smiling eyes made her answer quite superfluous. "He's really excited about mommy and daddy finally getting married. But, obviously, no more kissing in front of him."
He brushed his lips at the corner of her mouth. "Maybe we could even provide him with a little brother or sister."
"Maybe," she whispered against his lips before kissing him back.
It was unlikely, considering their ages, but she couldn't help but be hopeful. If it happened, it would be wonderful, but it wouldn't have been the end of the world otherwise. They had each other and Connor, and that was enough.
Provided that Tommy could keep himself from shooting his soon to be brother-in-law, at the very least…