Disclaimer: Property of Bruno Heller
Summary: Teresa Lisbon has nothing to say to Lorelei Martins – but unfortunately, the reverse is not quite true, and her disclosure will have significant ramifications for Jane and Lisbon's relationship. [One-shot; some spoilers/speculation for 5x16. Be warned: contains both Kirkland/Lisbon and Jane/Lisbon!]
1) First off, this is something I've had in my mind for quite a while. I'm sure I can't be the only person who thinks/hopes that this could have happened. I want to be open and say that I read starry19's drabble on her tumblr and loved it so much that I finally felt the urge to put pen to paper and write my own version. So, starry19, I really hope you don't hate me or think I'm stealing anything. I promise that the premise is similar but the storyline is different.
2) I wrote this while gnashing my teeth over 5x16 spoilers. This fic is more speculative than anything but is written to include the basic info we have for this episode. Having said that, the story is based at what I imagine to be the 'end' of the episode, and takes a few twists and turns from there (in fact, it didn't turn out at all the way I expected). I fully expect the actual episode to be a completely different animal!
3) It took a lot longer to write than planned, and I was rushing towards the end because I wanted to publish it on Sunday pre-episode just in case it turns out to be in any way similar to the ep (but I really doubt it!)
Hope you enjoy reading while we wait for Sunday night to arrive!
Lorelei's arrest is inevitable, but fraught with all the usual tension that tends to accompany Red John matters.
She'd crossed their radar three days ago, first after her DNA had been found at a crime scene in Contra Costa county, followed not long afterwards by a phone call to Jane.
In the last seventy-two hours, Lorelei has managed to accumulate a substantial tally of criminal charges ranging from petty theft to attempted murder, along with impersonating a police officer and discharging an unlicensed weapon somewhere in the middle.
Lisbon's stomach rolls unpleasantly when she considers how unfazed Jane had seemed to be about all of this.
He hadn't cared what Lorelei had done; he'd only cared about what she was going to do.
And on that score, Lorelei had been very forthcoming indeed. "If what you said is true," she'd said over speakerphone in the CBI bullpen, "then… I'm going to do it, Patrick. I'm going to kill him."
Even now, Lisbon remains uncertain as to whether Jane's pursuit of Lorelei was primarily driven by the idea of her leading them to Red John, or if he simply wanted to stop her doing the very thing he'd spent more than a decade planning.
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter, she supposes, because here they are.
The sun is hot on her back, the heat absorbed easily through her black shirt. Lorelei is handcuffed, but she looks utterly comfortable leaning against Jane's car and squinting into the sun. Jane himself is hovering near Lorelei, speaking to her in quiet, urgent tones.
Lisbon turns away. She doesn't need superhuman hearing or psychic powers to know that Jane is most likely promising her the world in exchange for Red John's identity. Or maybe just himself. Lorelei had made it perfectly clear that that was still on the table, as far as she was concerned.
Footsteps approach from her right; the sound of Kirkland clearing his throat makes her smile involuntarily. He's been rather… supportive, she thinks. He's not the type of person to fixate on problems; he's a big-picture, brass-tacks sort of man. He's spent the last seventy-two hours looking at this mess from all angles, deciding what the main issues are and then theorising on the best way to approach them.
He and Jane don't get along.
At times, it's been almost amusing, Lisbon reflects. Mostly, though, it's been frustrating, because Jane can only see this through his 'Red John' goggles and doesn't want to accept that other perspectives – however valid – could be useful.
Kirkland comes to stand next to her; he hands her a coffee in a Styrofoam cup. "No Starbucks here," he says, by way of an apology. "This came from a gas station a block away. At least, I assume that's why it tastes of oil and feet."
She laughs – her first genuine laugh for what feels like forever. Her fingers brush his as she takes the cup, but she pretends not to notice. Her pink face is easy enough to explain in this heat, anyway. As she sips it and grimaces, Kirkland seems to recall something, and looks her directly in the eyes. "Uh, this is not that coffee, by the way."
She blinks at him. "What?"
"The coffee you agreed to let me buy you?" he prompts, eyeing what's left in his cup sceptically. He shrugs and drains it anyway. "Uh, this is not that."
She half scowls at him. "Are you referring to the coffee you promised me three months ago? You don't think that ship might have sailed at all?"
Kirkland's smile is warm and genuine. "I apologise, you're right. I ought to renew the offer, and I will." He moves away from her by a few steps, tosses the cup into a trash can, and returns to her side. "Agent Lisbon, would you let me take you out for dinner sometime?"
Her eyebrows shoot up into her hairline. "Dinner?"
"Well, speaking honestly, coffee was the prelude to asking you to dinner, so…" He gestures to her cup. "It seemed like the right time."
She's aware that her expression must appear to be an awkward mix of surprise, hesitation and interest. She's also aware that she finds this man attractive and intriguing, and that apparently he thinks the same about her. "Sure," she says. "I'd like that."
He nods, still smiling. "Great. So, I'll give you a call?"
"I'll look forward to it."
Nothing like a date to boost your confidence, she reflects, watching Kirkland walk back to his car. Of course, it's also helped her to forget the colossal shitstorm that will no doubt await her once they get Lorelei back to the CBI. Naturally, she'll go back to prison, but where? Her transfer to Chowchilla Women's Prison was unauthorised – and untraceable. Most likely she'll go to Sacramento County Jail, but eventually she'll have to face trial for this fresh batch of crimes.
And Lisbon knows Jane won't want to let her out of his sight again.
She feels vaguely nauseous at the thought of Lorelei being kept in the cells at the CBI, with Jane as her constant companion. He'd probably sleep there, she thinks, and the nausea intensifies.
She's being ridiculous, of course. They won't be keeping her at the CBI.
But she has no doubt that Jane would prefer it if they did.
One of the Federal Marshals – a short, stocky man named Mitchell – approaches her. "Agent Lisbon? We're about to get moving – I understand you guys want a convoy for this prisoner?"
She holds up her hand in an attempt to placate him, even though he doesn't appear angry. "It's nothing personal," she assures him. "It's just that we've had issues with… this prisoner before, and I think it'd be for the best."
Mitchell shrugs. "No skin off my nose. You want us to stay with her at the CBI office?"
She drains the rest of her coffee as she considers this. "That would be useful. Uh, feel free to rotate your people if they're finishing their shifts. But I'm hoping we'll be able to process her quickly and transfer her to the county jail as soon as possible."
He nods in assent, and heads off to check that the vehicle is ready.
Lisbon turns, and to her surprise finds Lorelei under guard between Cho and the other Marshal, Kent. Jane is nowhere to be seen.
She scans the street and doesn't see him. It's a little concerning, but in a way she's relieved. She doesn't really feel like dealing with him right now, especially if he's going to be condescending and rude as he often is in these situations.
She heads over to Cho, keeping her gaze fixed on him and ignoring Lorelei altogether. "We're getting ready to move out," she tells him. "Traffic's not too bad, should be a couple of hours maximum. Cho, you coordinate with Marshals Kent and Mitchell about transport arrangements."
"Yes, boss," he replies. Kent nods at her.
"Where's Rigsby?" she asks, raising a hand to shield her eyes from the sun. "He'll need to stay to liaise with local PD."
To her surprise, Lorelei pipes up. "He went to pee, Agent Lisbon."
For a few seconds, the contrast between the honesty of the words and the softness of Lorelei's voice almost makes Lisbon smile. Instead, she quirks an eyebrow. "Is that so?"
"He told Patrick a few minutes ago that he was going to use the facilities." Lorelei examines her nails carefully, ostensibly focused on this task, but Lisbon can see her dark eyes beneath her lashes, glittering as Lorelei watches her. "And then Patrick seemed unhappy about something, so he went for a walk."
She sounds like a child, Lisbon realises. Most likely, it's deliberate. Surely she knows she can't fool anybody she's previously met at the CBI, so it must be targeted at the Marshals. Lisbon wishes she could feel confidently scornful about the possibility of Lorelei's escape, but history has given her good reason to be suspicious.
"That's very helpful of you," Lisbon says pleasantly.
Behind her, she hears a clunk, and turns to see Mitchell opening the doors of the prison van. Officer Hoskins of Contra Costa PD hurries over to her. "Front and rear vehicles are ready and waiting, Agent Lisbon."
She thanks him and digs in her pocket for her car keys. She'll be driving the third vehicle in the convoy. Theoretically, Jane will ride with her… but she's not holding her breath. No doubt he'll show up at the last minute and join Lorelei in the back of the prison van to make one last-ditch attempt to persuade her to part with the information she's so stubbornly withholding.
Cho, Mitchell and Kent have been conversing, and it's apparently been decided that two of them will stay with Lorelei at all times; for this first stage of the journey, it'll be Cho and Kent, while Mitchell rides up front with the transport officer.
Lisbon takes in this information and nods curtly, but inside she's almost overflowing with gratitude towards Cho, who'll most likely volunteer to stay with Lorelei at the next stage as well – when they stop at the border with Sacramento County and exchange their Contra Costa police escort for a couple of SacPD counterparts.
Cho knows her fears without having to ask. He also knows what Lorelei is capable of. She wishes she could let him know how much she values him as a friend and as a cop, but as always with Cho, the most powerful words are left unspoken.
She calls Rigsby, who reports that he is already on his way to the local PD offices to finish up the paperwork and take care of any necessary diplomatic issues. Then she texts Jane, because if she calls him he'll read her voice and hear every ounce of strain she's carrying right now, and he'll probably poke and prod and make everything worse.
'Convoy almost ready,' she texts. 'Leaving in five mins.'
Hopefully, he'll understand that she means they'll leave with or without him.
She gestures to Mitchell, who jogs back to the prison van and does a final sweep of the interior before hopping back out again to hold the door open.
Cho and Kent have each handcuffed themselves to Lorelei, who looks utterly serene. They march her forward firmly. Lisbon follows behind, one hand on her gun in its holster. She isn't particularly nervous. She knows it's unlikely that Lorelei will pick this moment to make a further escape attempt, but that doesn't mean she's about to let her guard down.
She also won't hesitate to shoot if she has to, regardless of the consequences.
She watches like a hawk as Cho and Kent start to assist Lorelei into the van, and then half-turns to scan their surroundings for Jane once again. She does truly intend to leave without him if he doesn't show, but that doesn't mean she doesn't want him to show. And that unfortunate fact renders her permanently annoyed at herself.
"Agent Lisbon." Lorelei's voice cuts into her train of thought.
Her head snaps around, her heart pounding for a brief moment before she sees that Lorelei is still shackled securely. Cho and Kent look annoyed; both of them have a foot planted on the floor of the van and are clearly waiting to get Lorelei up and in.
"What is it?" Lisbon asks. There's an edge of weariness in her voice. She hadn't intended to let that slip, but that's the price she's paying for allowing Jane to occupy her mind so much.
Lorelei glances between Cho and Kent, and Lisbon stiffens automatically, readying herself for either a chase or a fight. But Lorelei doesn't have escape on her mind, it turns out. "You can relax, Teresa," she says scornfully, a trace of a sneer passing across her face. "I just have something I'd like to tell you, that's all."
Lisbon rolls her eyes. "It can wait. Get in the van, Ms Martins."
"Oh, but who knows when we'll next get the chance?" Lorelei coos. She looks disdainfully at the chains that bind her to the two men. "Of course, I'd like to be discreet…"
Lisbon folds her arms, trying to suppress an outright glare. "I think you're stalling for time, Ms Martins. Whether that's because you think Red John will come running to your rescue, or because you know your options will be limited once we're on the road, I can't guess. But either way, there's nothing you can't say to me once we get back to the CBI."
"Very well," Lorelei raises her voice a little. "If you're so happy for me to discuss the night I slept with your consultant in public, then that's your choice, I guess."
Lisbon hopes she controls her face well. She knows she can't say the same for the rest of the muscles in her body, which have stiffened painfully and seem to be restricting her breathing.
For obvious reasons, she never thinks of that night if she can help it. Naturally, then, when she does think of it, it's accompanied by a sickening jolt in the region of her gut.
A few feet away, Kent is looking a little intrigued, and her heart sinks. The last thing she wants to do is leave the Marshals with any hint that her team engages in unprofessional behaviour. Jane's conduct in the last few days has been incredibly unhelpful in that department, but she at least would prefer that the truth about his relationship with Lorelei be kept under wraps as far as possible.
Until this moment, she thought she'd managed at least that much.
"What," she says slowly, "can you possibly have to say about that?"
Lorelei attempts to take a step toward her, but both Kent and Cho move with her, blocking her path. "Really?" she says nastily, looking directly at Cho. "Back off, doggie, I want to talk to your mistress a moment."
Well, Lisbon considers briefly, if nothing else, at least Lorelei has revealed her true colours to the Marshals. Hopefully it'll make them a little more cautious around her in future.
"Give her a little slack on the cuffs," she advises softly. "Just a little. I'm sure Lorelei knows that if she tries anything, it won't end well for her."
Cho glances at Lisbon. "You sure, boss?"
Lisbon raises an eyebrow. "You have your gun, don't you?"
It's only the minute muscle movements around his mouth that give away any amusement at all. He and Kent let out the remaining length of chain on either side. It allows Lorelei to take perhaps four steps away from them, which Lisbon considers four too many. However, she's willing to risk it. She doesn't have a clue what Lorelei is about to say, but Jane's business ought to remain just that – his own business, not for the eyes or ears of anybody else.
Lorelei leans close to her, and Lisbon's hand goes back to her gun, covering it to prevent Lorelei making a desperate grab for it. She accepts that it's unwise to let the woman get this close – she's been thoroughly searched, but she's still clever and a jailbird to boot. Any sharp object can become a shank in the right hands, Lisbon knows that much.
"Somehow," Lorelei whispers into her ear, "I suspect we won't be able to talk again for a long time – perhaps ever."
Lisbon draws back slightly to stare at her. "You really think you'll escape so soon?" she asks, but there's concern in her voice. Her heart is telling her that escape isn't the implication here.
Lorelei shrugs ever so slightly. "If he gets me, he gets me. There's nothing I can do about it." For once, she sounds a little hollow and defeated. Lisbon could almost find herself drawn to sympathise. Almost. "In any case," Lorelei continues, whispering again, "even if I only spend the rest of my life in jail, we both know you wouldn't visit me for the world. So my time is limited, isn't it?"
Lisbon suppresses a sigh. "I'm listening."
Later, Lisbon will try to remember Lorelei's tone and will be unsuccessful. Then again, she'll struggle to remember the drive back to the CBI, too; in fact, most things that afternoon will remain a blur – a fallen leaf floating on the otherwise clear surface of her memory.
But Lorelei's words will forever be burned into her mind.
"That night in Vegas," she whispers, so quietly Lisbon can barely hear her, "it was your name he said when he came."
Lisbon's mind is slow at processing the words; it takes them in fragments and mashes them up all wrong. The full meaning takes a while to sink in, and even then, in her mind it sounds like some kind of joke. A riddle, even.
She closes her eyes briefly. Her head feels fuzzy and achey; her skin is prickling and tingling, and she feels oddly distant from the world, as though she's floating above it and watching events unfold as a passive observer. She sees herself standing next to Lorelei, two heads of dark hair so close together they almost look like a figure of eight.
Then her fingers brush over the gun in her holster; the metal is cold against her skin, and the sensation anchors her to the world once more. The ground is solid under her feet; she feels tethered, and steady, and strong.
She draws back and looks Lorelei in the eye. "Nice try," she says coolly. "Points for effort, but – no." She meets Cho's eyes over Lorelei's shoulder and nods. He and Kent move in synchrony, shortening the chains with a metallic racheting sound and drawing Lorelei safely back towards them. Lorelei's expression is impassive, but Lisbon wonders if she sees a glimmer of triumph in her eyes as the two men steer her into the van.
The doors close; she hears the sound of the bolts sliding home from inside, but it isn't until she reaches up to lock the doors from outside that Lisbon realises her hands are trembling.
She pauses for a moment. Takes a deep breath, and then another. She lays her hands flat against the doors as she breathes, and only once they are completely steady does she flip the lever of the complicated exterior lock, slide it along its frame until it clicks into place, and then enter the six-digit code on the small keypad. The grimy display blinks and beeps to confirm a correct code.
She sighs, and takes another moment to steel herself.
She's not going to think about this.
She isn't even going to acknowledge that there's something she isn't thinking about.
Hypothetically, if Lorelei had said something to her, then most likely it wasn't important, relevant or even true, so why waste time worrying over it?
It was your name…
Lisbon stops, and sucks in a breath. No.
She treks around the side of the van, stopping alongside the cabin. The driver – not a Marshal, but USFM-employed – is laughing and joking with Mitchell. She smiles at the two of them as they notice her, and holds out her hand. They glance at each other and reach into their pockets with some reluctance.
She knows they think this is overkill.
They probably look at Lorelei and see a small, delicate woman who – in their minds – just went a little 'loopy'. They probably even think it's PMS.
Lisbon doesn't really care what they think.
The two men surrender their cell phones to her as previously agreed, and in return she gives the driver, Eddie, a slip of paper with the first stage of the route on it. This part of the plan was her idea – she's fairly sure Jane doesn't even know about it. Not that he's been particularly communicative these last few days.
She stops by the two Contra Costa PD cars as well to give them identical information about the route. There'll be one further stop within this county before they switch to a SacPD escort.
Glancing at her watch, she hurries back to her car, doing one last pat-down of her pockets to make sure she has everything. She's so focused on getting on the road as soon as possible that she doesn't even notice Jane in the passenger seat until her seatbelt is fastened and she's started the engine.
Her startled noise makes him smile, which in turn makes her scowl. Typical of him to be amused by her discomfort. "Nice of you to show up," she remarks tartly, as she pulls off after the prison van.
"Ah, yes, I got your little threatening text…"
He trails off as she removes one hand from the steering wheel and reaches into her pocket, dumping the confiscated cell phones in the tray under her CD player. "Have you been out pickpocketing, Lisbon?" he asks curiously. "I mean, I'm impressed, but it seems a little out of character…"
She ignores him and picks up her radio handset. "Charlie-Charlie One, this is Charlie-Charlie Three, do you copy, over."
Out of the corner of her eye, she catches the open interest on Jane's face. It takes more effort than she'd anticipated not to look over at him. The radio crackles in her hand. "CC3, this is CC1, reading you loud and clear, over."
"CC1, ignore Step Two on your travel directions. I repeat, ignore Step Two and follow the logical route between Steps One and Three. Do not specify the route by radio. Confirm, over."
There's a pause, and then, "CC3, can you say again?"
"CC1, I said ignore Step Two, read back, over."
"CC3, ignoring Step Two and following logical route to fill the gap, over."
Rather than radio the same instruction to the other two cars, she advises, "CC2 and CC4, proceed to follow CC1's route until further notice, I repeat, follow CC1's route and pay no regard to the written information in front of you."
By the time she's done repeating herself, Jane has clearly connected the dots for himself and sounds genuinely awestruck when he says, "Bravo, Lisbon, that's some extraordinary work there."
She can't decide whether she's pleased or pissed off right now. Jane's been working at a consistent setting of 'complete pain in the ass' ever since Lorelei showed up again, and now he looks as relaxed as could be in the front seat of her car. Either he knows what he's put her through and doesn't care, or his Red John goggles are still on and blinding him to everything else in the world.
"I've upset you," he says when she doesn't reply, a touch of surprise in his voice. "Lisbon, I –"
"Spare me, Jane," she replies tiredly, keeping her eyes on the road. "Just… spare me, okay?"
One hour later, she's exhausted, but forcing herself to keep her eyes open. She stayed up all night formulating this plan, devising her primary route as well as three backup routes and memorising them to the point of seeing little crisscrossing map grids against the back of her eyelids every time she closes her eyes.
She's coming up with a lot of these alterations almost on the spur of the moment, though. At the last pitstop, she'd changed the planned route altogether, ordering the others to double-back on themselves for about a mile and then take a series of country roads leading to the highway.
No doubt she's driving the rest of them crazy, but she still doesn't care. The spectre of Red John looms high overhead, and she's damned if she's going to let him take another witness from under her nose.
She coordinates the transition from CCPD to SacPD escorts at the county line, knowing that the Contra Costa officers will be glad to see the back of everybody. She doesn't have long to dwell on it, though, because as soon as she's behind the wheel she's thinking ahead to the next alteration, the next pitstop.
Which brings her back to the feeling threatening to completely overwhelm her, body and spirit: utter, bone-deep exhaustion.
"Why don't you let me drive for a while?" Jane asks softly, surprising her.
She glances at him for only a second. "Thanks, but it's better this way. I can stay on top of everything if I'm behind the wheel."
"Yes," he says, an edge of mockery creeping in, "and I'm sure that policy applies to the rest of your life, as well, but –"
For once, she silences him with only her eyes.
Asshole, she thinks, and once again turns her attention back to the road.
When he speaks again half an hour later, they're not far from the city.
He sounds considerably more contrite, and she has the sense that he's been choosing his words carefully before speaking. "I'm sorry for behaving like such an idiot," he says quietly. "For behaving the way I always do in… these situations."
"Okay," she says flatly, "and?"
"And?" He sounds a little indignant now. "I'm doing my best to apologise, Lisbon –"
"Yes, and you have a long way to go, too," she shoots back. "Besides which, Jane, your apologies don't mean all that much if I know you're just going to go and do the same thing next time Red John rears his head."
"I do what has to be done," he argues stubbornly, not looking at her.
"And in that sense, you aren't sorry at all," she concludes. "So where does that leave us? I just accept your empty words every time this happens, and we all carry on as normal?"
"No!" he snaps. "I mean… they're not empty, Lisbon, and you know it. You know I've never wanted to… to hurt you, or cause problems for you, I just – sometimes there are things I have to do. I don't like it or want it, but it isn't a matter of choice anymore."
She meets his eyes and doesn't bother to hide her disappointment. "I can accept that your options might be limited, but that shouldn't change the way you treat us. We don't suddenly become your enemies just because Red John is involved. And since you obviously know that, I'm left with the inference that your behaviour towards us is a calculated decision on your part." She turns back to the road. "And if you plan to keep doing it, then yes, your words are empty, Jane."
His reply is as mean-spirited as he evidently feels right now. "You know, Lisbon, you say 'us', but I can't help thinking you're only really referring to yourself. You know as well as I do that I've never confided much in the team – but I tell you more than I've ever told anyone." His words slide into her ear, silky and spiteful. "Do you feel hurt when I suddenly stop?"
She sees no reason to beat around the bush. "Yes," she replies, "of course I do. It makes no sense to me. Does your trust come with some kind of expiration date? Or does it just depend on how you feel when you get up in the morning? 'How much will I trust Lisbon today? Hmm, I think today I'll let her into the attic and tell her my latest Red John ideas. But tomorrow I'll leave without telling her, ignore her calls, assist a wanted felon, and then I'll expect her to forgive me and act as if it never happened.' Sound familiar?"
For a moment, he looks stunned – and then, just as quickly, the shields are up again. "Is that why you're hooking up with Kirkland?" he asks bitterly, the fingers of one hand curling and uncurling against the edge of his seat.
The jolt in her chest at the realisation that he must have seen or heard their conversation is accompanied by a warm, pleasant sensation. Even now, in the midst of this hellish conversation, she's still a little excited at the prospect of their date.
Jane sees this, perhaps, because he snorts before she has a chance to reply. "Wow, this guy must be a hell of a lot more interesting than he looks," he snipes.
"I like him," she replies honestly. "I'm sure that means nothing to you, but I do."
The look on his face when he turns to her again is wild but otherwise unreadable. "Do you really think it means nothing to me?"
She sighs softly, braking as they start to merge with the busy city traffic. "Why do you ask when you already know the answer?" She reaches across the dashboard and flicks the switch for the concealed emergency lights; ahead and to the rear, the SacPD cars activate their lights too, but leave the sirens off for now.
He's silent for a while. Every so often, she hears a change in the pattern of his breathing, but what that represents, she can't begin to guess.
Then, when they're only a few minutes away from the CBI building, he shifts in his seat and says, as if they are merely continuing a pleasant and altogether innocuous conversation, "So what did Lorelei say to you earlier?"
This time, the jolt is unpleasant and sets her heart racing. Her palms feel clammy against the steering wheel, and her throat is suddenly dry.
It was your name…
She fights to scrub the thought from her brain even as she is replying, "Nothing." Naturally, it sounds weak and false, and immediately she cringes.
"It obviously wasn't nothing," he mutters. "You looked pretty shaken up afterwards."
She grunts with annoyance. "Jesus, Jane, how long were you standing there watching me?"
"Long enough," he snaps. "And don't try to distract me – what did she say to you?"
"I told you, nothing –"
"Lisbon, you're the worst liar in –"
"Nothing to do with you!" she exclaims irritably. "It was… personal, okay?"
She should have known that wouldn't discourage him, of course. "It might have come across that way, but anything she says could be a clue, or even a half-clue regarding Red John."
She shakes her head as the convoy pulls into the CBI parking lot. "I can tell you categorically that what she said had nothing to do with Red John, okay?"
He's watching her again, scrutinising her face as she pulls up in front of the building and kills the engine. "Interesting," he says. "Embarrassment and anger – well, I believe that you think it's nothing to do with Red John, at any rate, but that doesn't mean there aren't hidden nuances that you might have missed."
She pauses as she opens the door and considers – just for one brief moment – telling him the truth. But she can barely bring herself to run the sentence through in her mind, let alone out loud.
Instead, she turns to him and says, "No."
Then she hops out of the car, and he lets her, and for a little while she thinks she's managed to keep this one under wraps.
About an hour later, Rigsby sticks his head into her office and tells her that Jane is insisting he be allowed to speak to Lorelei again. Until now, Cho has been handling the necessary interviews and statements while Lisbon has been up to her neck in paperwork for the marshals, Homeland Security and Bertram.
She shrugs, feeling largely indifferent, and informs Rigsby that Jane can do whatever he wants.
Rigsby blanches; evidently, he thinks that sounds a great deal more lenient than is wise when it comes to Jane, but she's had enough now. The day is nearly over, and she's ready to go home, get into her sweats, and eat whatever crap she can find in the fridge.
Just as she's contemplating this, Kirkland calls her.
She can't help smiling when she sees his name on the phone display. After taking three months to remember his coffee invitation, she'd assumed she'd be waiting at least a few days for his call. This is, in fact, the first thing he mentions when she answers the phone. "You can't imagine how much I've been chastising myself for that," he explains. "Quite honestly, you must think I only show up when it concerns sociopathic billionaires or associates of serial killers."
"It certainly crossed my mind," she says, certain that her smile is audible in her voice. "But I'm willing to forgive you. Mainly because I'm starving."
"Excellent." He sounds pleased. "How do you feel about travelling a bit for your food?"
She shrugs before she remembers he can't see her. "Mmm, depends on the food, I guess." Something else occurs to her. "Unless you're talking about leaving the state – or the country. Because thanks to Jane, I'm probably on some kind of watchlist."
It was your name…
She digs her fingertips into her leg. Not thinking about this, remember?
Kirkland is laughing; she finds she likes the sound quite a lot. "No, I'm talking about St Helena – there's a great restaurant there, fantastic Napa Valley cuisine. I think you'll really like it. What do you think?"
He offers to pick her up from her house, and she accepts, because frankly she's done enough complicated driving today to last her a lifetime. She texts him the address without fear or regret, and has a sudden breakthrough memory of what it's like to trust somebody new and not be screwed over.
Which, naturally, brings her back to Jane.
She doesn't know what she expects from him anymore. She always thought that by expecting the worst, she'd never be the victim of an unpleasant surprise, but he seems to raise the stakes every time he gets closer to Red John. She's learning more about him all the time; some days she even thinks she can predict his behaviour, or detect a lie at the very least.
Then there are days like the last three when she can't contact him at all, and when she does finally track him down, he's become this cold, closed-off stranger who acts as though she's nothing more than an annoying insect buzzing in his ear.
His apologies are becoming sloppier and less convincing, too. Either he used to mean it and doesn't anymore, or he never cared in the first place but put more effort into faking it.
It's times like these when she wonders if she can still call him 'friend'.
The next station on that train of thought is whether he ever thought of her as a friend at all.
Shaking her head, she resigns herself to the fact that she'll probably come into work tomorrow and he'll act as though nothing has changed; he'll ask her why she's making such a big deal over nothing and eventually she'll lose the energy and the will to remember why she's angry, and they'll fall back into their old, comfortable pattern.
Cho agrees to oversee Lorelei's transfer back into the prison van; he also reports that Jane was in an interrogation room with her for about fifteen minutes of unrecorded time.
Lisbon rolls her eyes at him. "Big surprise," she comments. "I take it her lawyer wasn't present?"
"No. But apparently it was Lorelei who asked him to leave."
She shrugs. "Fine. I wouldn't be surprised if he wants to go with the van to county jail, given what happened last time."
"Actually, he was looking for you," Cho replies, giving her what passes for a significant look from him. "Seemed kinda wired, if you ask me."
"Not interested," she says flatly. "Let him work it off elsewhere. You okay if I head home? I have, uh… a meeting…"
Cho cracks a small but genuine smile. "A 'meeting' – right. Sure thing, boss."
"Shut up," she grouses, but she's smiling too.
The date goes well.
Really, really well.
Bob Kirkland is straightforward and honest. He tells her right off the bat that he was married once, in his twenties, and that it didn't work out; they divorced after a year. No kids. He's spent most of his life on the East Coast; born and raised on Staten Island, college educated at NYU, and then he moved to D.C. when he was recruited to the FBI. The move to Homeland Security is more recent, within the last five years, and he'd personally requested transfer to the California field office, feeling that he had no real ties on the other side of the country anymore.
She's not given to sharing large parts of her life with near-strangers, but after he opens up so willingly, she can't help but reciprocate. She doesn't go into the entire dark and twisted history, but he's smart enough to read between the lines. They talk about Chicago and New York, baseball and football, and provoke each other gently about the CBI vs FBI rivalry.
All in all, they spend much longer than planned just sitting there talking, nursing multiple post-meal coffees before realising that they will have to give up the table eventually.
Kirkland suggests finding a late-night café on the way back to Sacramento, and she's all for it, but by the time they're on the road they realise how late it is and how far they still have to drive. So they settle for crappy coffee from a drive-thru and carry on talking right up to the moment he pulls up outside her house.
"I'd really like to do this again," he says almost instantly.
She tries not to grin outright, but she's secretly thrilled that he's said it first, and without prompting. "Me too," she agrees. "I had a really great time."
Kirkland initiates the kiss, and at first she's a little startled by his beard – it's been a while since she kissed someone with facial hair, after all – but she adapts well and kisses him back without hesitation. He slips a hand into her curls and angles his head a little better so that she doesn't have to stretch too far across the seat. He kisses her with all the self-assurance he displays in other aspects of his life, but he isn't rough or demanding.
When they part, she can see his reluctance written all over his face, but they both know it won't go any further tonight. It's too soon to call this 'passion'; right now, they're just two compatible people who have discovered a mutual attraction. Still, when Kirkland reaches out to push a lock of hair behind her ear, she feels her skin tingling where he's touched it, and knows that the next step won't be far away.
"I'll call you tomorrow," he promises as she's getting out of the car. "If you're free this weekend I'd love to see you."
"It's a date," she assures him.
Of course, the problem with all that coffee is that she's now thoroughly wired and it's 1:00 am. Kirkland has waited until she's inside the house like a gentleman – for a moment, she reconsiders her decision not to invite him in – but instead she just waves as he drives away.
Inside, she slips her shoes off and lets out a moan of satisfaction as her toes curl into the carpet.
Then she flicks the light switch – and screams.
It isn't the fact that he's broken in that outrages her, because that is pretty much standard operating procedure for Jane, but she can't believe he has the audacity to look at her as though she is the one who has transgressed.
"You know you have work in the morning, don't you, Lisbon?" he says sternly. "Where exactly did he take you for dinner, anyway – Canada?"
"Jane," she says, arms folded across her chest, "get out of my house."
The jackass has made himself comfortable in her nicest chair with a cup of tea and a sandwich. "No, I don't think I will," he decides calmly. "At least, not until we've talked a little more."
She throws up her arms with frustration. "Jane! It's 1 am! I have nothing to say to you at this hour, and frankly, if you were wise you'd stay out of my way for a couple more days, because I'm seriously considering shooting you."
He waves his cup at her. "Let me make you one of these. You'll feel much better – it's a very calming blend, perfect for a good night's sleep."
Oh, she's going to kill him.
She marches over to him, snatches the empty cup from his hands and slams it down onto the coffee table. She stands over him, fuming, hands on hips, and for one second she almost thinks she sees his pupils dilate as he stares at her. She definitely doesn't miss the way his eyes follow the lines of her simple but fitted black dress.
"What," she hisses, "do you want, Jane?"
An odd look passes across his face – if possible, his eyes seem to darken even further – but it's gone before she can try to interpret it. "I talked to Lorelei," he says.
She blinks at him. "Yeah, Cho mentioned you went in. And? I assume she didn't give you anything useful, or you wouldn't be here."
"She told me what she said to you." His voice is hard, muscles tight around his mouth.
The very thing she's successfully avoided thinking about – either the words or their meaning – for most of the day, and who should bring it up but the one person she'd thought would never want to speak of it?
Suddenly his gaze feels hot against her skin, and she turns away, using the excuse of throwing her jacket over the arm of the couch to put a little space between them. She hears her voice as if from a distance. "I don't want to talk about that."
He rises to his feet abruptly, and she takes a reflexive step back. "Too damn bad," he grits out into her face. "You should have been the one to tell me, Lisbon, not her."
"Why?" she snaps. "You think I enjoy spending my free time discussing the many lies of Lorelei Martins? I'd rather forget it altogether!"
She feels sick. Her heart is hammering inside her chest and she doesn't know if that's the coffees, or this situation, or the fact that Jane's face is no more than three inches away from hers right now.
He's staring at her with surprise and a little uncertainty. "… lies?" he says eventually.
She rolls her eyes. "Well, yes, Jane, that is generally what she does, right? Or do you think I'm stupid enough to believe the crap that comes out of her mouth?"
"Huh…" he says vaguely, dropping her gaze. "Well, that's certainly… I mean, you have a valid point, but…"
"I'm sure her timing wasn't exactly a coincidence," Lisbon points out with a snort, feeling bold enough to push past Jane to get to the kitchen. "I mean, right before she's loaded into the van? Obviously she was trying to throw me off my guard so she could make a break for it. Too bad for her, anyway, since it didn't work."
As she speaks, her heart rate starts to settle and her breathing evens out. It occurs to her that although she'd been looking for a way to rationalise Lorelei's words, she might actually have arrived at the correct explanation. "She enjoys provoking us," she adds. "Now that she's back in custody, she knows her opportunities to mess with us will be limited. The difference is, we're prepared for it this time."
She gets herself a glass of water and drains it quickly, filling it up again. In the doorway, Jane watches her curiously but says nothing. "Need to flush the coffee out," she explains, drinking half of the second glass and filling it to the top.
"You'll be up peeing for most of the night," he points out. "Why didn't you just get decaf?"
She flashes back briefly to sitting across a table from Kirkland and smiles. "Oh, we just lost track of time."
Immediately he gives her the same look he'd had in the car that afternoon – annoyed and cynical. "Come on, Lisbon, you can't honestly be telling me that that guy can carry an interesting conversation? He looks as though he reads the phone book for fun!"
She shakes her head, irritated. "I told you, I like him. That isn't based on his looks or his job – it's because our personalities mesh well together. Or is it so inconceivable that I might have good judgement in this area?"
He turns from her and slouches back into the living room towards the armchair he clearly prefers. "I just think," she hears him say, his back to her, "that you… That you deserve so much better."
For just a moment, she actually thinks he's serious, and her anger towards him begins to fade…
Then he plops down into the chair and faces her again, looking cool and casual instead of heart-warmingly earnest. "I mean, that tie, Lisbon – that alone is a crime against fashion, let alone this weird thing he's doing with his facial hair…"
"Jane," she says, feeling suddenly and overwhelmingly exhausted, "just get out, okay? I'm going to bed."
She doesn't bother staying to make sure he leaves. Every step towards her bedroom feels like she's trudging through desert sand. She can't believe that less than thirty minutes ago she was congratulating herself on a successful date, and now Jane has brought her down so quickly and so ruthlessly.
She gets changed and ready for bed on autopilot, and before she knows it, she's between the sheets and slipping easily into sleep…
It's her third time getting up to pee when she hears a noise downstairs. She stills suddenly in the middle of drying her hands and waits.
She hears it again – just a faint rustling sound, nothing more – and slips stealthily across the hall into her bedroom to collect the gun from underneath her pillow. She creeps quietly down the stairs, scanning the dark living room as it comes into view for any sign of –
And there it is.
On her couch, a dark unidentifiable moving lump.
It's only as she's raising her gun and preparing to shout a warning that she notices a head of blond hair sticking out from what she now recognises to be a blanket.
She suppresses a groan, but doesn't bother to keep quiet as she stomps down the remaining stairs. She whips the blanket off Jane – still dressed in his suit, she's glad to see. He blinks up at her as though he's surprised; he doesn't look particularly tired at all. "I told you to go home," she growls. "I nearly shot you, you idiot."
He sits up, casting the blanket aside as he rubs a hand over his face. "Well, you exercised great restraint, and I'm grateful. Now, seeing as I can't sleep worth a damn on this thing, why don't we talk some more?" And he pats the space next to him.
She finds, if she thinks about it, that she has a lot she wants to say to Jane, but doesn't really know where to start. Tired though she is, it seems like a good opportunity to have a discussion in a private forum, rather than risk being overheard at work.
To spite him, she sits in the armchair instead, curling her feet underneath her. "Okay," she mutters, "let's talk about why you're such a huge jackass."
He smiles wryly. "Okay, I guess I deserve that…"
"No." She lifts her chin. "You deserve worse. Honestly, Jane, how do you think this is going to pan out? You think you can keep showing up to work acting like it's beneath you – like you're doing us all a favour – and then periodically disappear because apparently assisting a criminal counts as justifiable if it relates to Red John?" She wills herself to calm down, because letting fury overtake her is a surefire way to lose any argument with Jane. "The worst thing is, you genuinely think you can say something glib and I'm supposed to find a way to reconcile everything and just… be okay with it. And if I don't, you act as though I'm behaving irrationally."
He drops his gaze.
She isn't sure whether he does that because it's easier to be honest without eye contact, or because it makes it easier for him to lie.
"That's not…" He hesitates and starts again. "That's never been my intention, I swear to you. I just – it's my way of trying to make everything better again."
She snorts derisively. "I don't know if you've noticed, but acting like that does not make anything better. It's like putting a bandaid over a wound that needs stitches – might look patched up from the outside, but in reality it'll heal badly and probably get infected, and –" She shakes her head. "Ugh, I'm too tired for metaphors right now…"
"I don't like it when you're upset," he says quietly. His head is tilted back against the couch cushions, and his eyes are closed. "Maybe that sounds cheap, but there's no way for us to discuss these issues without upsetting you more, and I – I worry that one day we'll go too far and I won't be able to make it right again. And I need things to be okay with us, Lisbon, because if I don't have you…"
"So… what? You just stick your head in the sand and pretend you haven't hurt any of us? Just carry on as you were until eventually we fall into line and pretend we're all okay as well?"
"I see." She supposes it's better than the alternative – that he doesn't care who he's hurt – but it's frustrating to hear him admit it with so little remorse. "What about Lorelei?"
His eyes snap open; she can't read his expression. "What about her?"
"Where do you get off defending what she's done?" This is a particular sticking point for Lisbon. In all the years she's known Jane, she never thought she'd see him shrug off something like torture.
Is it her imagination or does he look relieved? He shrugs as he closes his eyes again. "I can't criticise her for going to extremes when it comes to Red John, because that would be incredibly hypocritical. But obviously I've never condoned any of her actions – and yes, I'm referring to what she did to those people. I thought you knew that."
"Oh, you did? Really? Because you know, it wasn't completely clear to me when you said, 'she must have had a good reason.'"
"That wasn't… I didn't mean to sound so…"
"So coldblooded?" She runs a hand through her hair, tugging distractedly at the tangles. "I swear, sometimes you're like a different person, Jane. And the thing that scares me is I have no idea if that person is just… an aberration when you're under stress, or if that's the real you and everything else that we see is just a lie."
"How can you say that?" he asks her, voice croaky with disbelief. "You know me, Lisbon. You're the only person who knows who I am. After all these years, does it really take so little for you to lose faith in me?"
She stares at him. "You son of a bitch…" she breathes. " 'So little'? After what you've put me – put all of us through – in the last three days alone, it's incredible I have any faith in you at all. How can you be so blind?" She knows she's raising her voice, but self-control be damned – she's going to say this. "What is it that you see on my face every time you do something like this? Do I seem confident to you? Do I look like someone who has any sense of control or strength or anythingbeyond the rug being pulled from underneath my feet again?"
He says nothing. She sees him swallow roughly.
"Or maybe you don't look at all," she concludes in a whisper. "Maybe that knowledge is inconvenient for your purposes."
He still says nothing. By now his posture is hunched and defensive. She exhales slowly, realising that her cheeks feel warm and flushed after shouting. She ought to have known that saying these things wouldn't change anything. No matter what Jane might admit to, he isn't going to change his behaviour, not for her. Not for anybody.
"Anyway," she says into the silence, "I think we've said enough for the night." She pushes herself up from the chair, shifting her weight from one foot to the other to alleviate the numbness and tingling. "I'd tell you to go, but I'm sure you'll just do whatever the hell you want, as usual. See you tomorrow, Jane. Or – later today, I guess."
She's almost passed the couch when he grabs her arm.
His fingers are cool against her warm skin, but they leave trails of fire as he slides his hand down to her wrist. "It wasn't a lie," he says roughly.
She stares down at him. His face is hidden in the darkness. "What do you mean?" she asks, acutely aware of the hairs standing up on her arms and neck.
He looks up at her, then, but the angle of his head only serves to throw the shadows into sharp relief across his features. The curve of his lips looks sinister, and she shivers. "What Lorelei told you," he repeats slowly, fingers tightening around her wrist, "was not a lie."
Her heart shudders to a half within her chest. She cannot breathe.
She scans his face over and over again, trying desperately to read him, trying to anticipate the punchline to this awful joke. He can't possibly be telling the truth, she thinks.
And yet, if that's the case, why say it at all?
That night, it was your name he said when he came.
As soon as the thinks it, the image presents itself: two naked bodies in the moonlight, moving together in frantic synchrony as cries of ecstasy fill the air.
But no matter how she looks at it, she can't find a way to put her own name in there.
Her heart restarts at a furious rate, and she feels her face fill with colour. "No," she says, her voice thick. "You're messing with me."
She can hear the uncertainty in her own voice.
He doesn't say anything at first, just draws her wrist towards his mouth and presses his lips to the pulse there. It's such a light touch, she barely feels it at first, but then the pressure changes – his mouth feels warmer and wetter against her skin, and she realises he has opened his lips to let his tongue slide over her rapidly pulsating artery. He must be able to feel it, she realises with some alarm. He'll know exactly what he's doing to her.
"Stop it," she whispers. "Why are you doing this, Jane?"
He watches her with heavy-lidded eyes. "Why?" he murmurs, his breath cool against the little moist spot he's left behind. "Didn't you say I could do whatever I wanted?"
She sucks in a breath. "I never say could," she reminds him, and hopes he doesn't notice her unsteady voice. "And why would you – I mean, what exactly is going on here? Talk about blowing hot and cold, Jane, I swear –"
"I didn't think she heard."
If not for the fact that his mouth is still close enough to her skin to feel him speak, she might not have heard him. "What?"
"When I said your name… I just assumed she didn't hear." He lifts her hand and presses a kiss to her knuckle. "I thought I was quiet, and she didn't say anything about it at the time. Even after everything that happened, when she goaded me about you… I didn't make the connection."
The reality hits her like a punch to the gut. She still doesn't know what the state of play is between herself and Jane, but it's irrelevant – if Lorelei has some idea of what's between them, and has communicated it to Red John, then they might be in bigger trouble than previously anticipated. And yet, there's something she doesn't quite understand. "Goaded you?" she repeats. "What do you mean?"
He's resorted to playing with her hand, scraping his fingernails gently over the sensitive skin of her palm. It's sending little jolts of electricity along her nerves, and she's finding it harder and harder to ignore. "Well, you know," he's saying. "You were listening in – illicitly, I might add. You must remember her suggestion that I'm a little bit in love with you?" He glances up at her, a trace of a smile on his face. "A lie, obviously."
It takes every shred of strength she has not to react. It doesn't matter that she's spent the last few days cursing herself for ever thinking that Jane's feelings for her might extend beyond whatever is useful and convenient. It doesn't matter that she's spent years firmly denying the idea that there could be something more than friendship between them.
The truth is, she's found herself contemplating what she overheard more than she ever wants to admit. And although, each time, her conclusion has been the same… it still hurts to hear it quickly and brutally dismissed by the very man who'd so scornfully laughed it off all those months ago.
She's so busy trying to fortify her defences in the face of this latest insult that she fails to notice the change in Jane's expression.
One moment she's standing next to the couch, her hand trapped in his…
… the next, she's being yanked down, into his lap.
She yelps with surprise, flailing in her disorientation. Jane's other hand grips her hip, tugging her firmly against him as he campaigns to invade every bit of her personal space. He leans into her, ignoring the way she leans back and away from him, and locks his gaze with hers. "Listen to me," he whispers harshly, gathering her to him so that he can press his forehead to hers. "It's never been 'a little bit', do you understand?"
She still hasn't fully processed this when he tugs her towards him and kisses her; the words don't seem to make sense, but the kiss does. It's the key that unlocks a message that shouldn't have been hard to read at all, when she thinks about it later.
His mouth is hot on hers, and he wastes no time in coaxing her lips open; she's so stunned she doesn't even think about it until she feels his tongue sliding against hers and hears the low moan coming from her own throat. He slips his hand to the back of her neck to steady her, and instinctively she braces her hand against his shoulder. From there it seems only natural to push her hand up further until she's threading her fingers into his short curls – something he enjoys, evidently, from the sound of his muffled groan. His breathing is ragged in her ears as she starts to kiss him back properly, taking initiative and applying pressure against his demanding mouth.
Before she knows it, he's pressing her down along the length of the couch, and his kisses are becoming deeper, more passionate, with a delicious flavour of danger as his thigh slides between hers and the friction drags a strangled gasp from her lungs.
She's not inclined to overthink this, really, but she's wired a certain way and nothing's going to change that. So when Jane's hand skims her waist and slides under the thin fabric of her camisole, creating a blazing trail that ignites every synapse, she shoves the instinct to arch into his touch aside, and pulls away from his kiss. "Jane," she pants, "we can't."
The look in his eyes is an enticing combination of lust and promise; he pauses briefly to catch his breath and says, "Is there any wiggle room on that decision?"
She smiles and lifts her hand to cup his cheek. "I wish there were."
They disentangle themselves slowly, their lingering hands making traitors of them both. Lisbon shuffles back to the opposite end of the couch, lips burning and a little sore. She can't stop looking at Jane, and he doesn't seem to be in a hurry to take his eyes off her, either, but she knows they can't just stare at each other until the sun comes up. There's a question she needs to ask, and she hates the idea that it will make her sound clingy and desperate, but she doesn't see any way to avoid it.
Then again, the man sitting across from her is Patrick Jane.
"I'm not sure," he tells her, "is the answer to your question. I… There's so much I want to give you – so much you deserve – but with everything the way it is… I just don't know how to reconcile everything yet."
Her anger is long gone, but frustration is a stubborn, slow-burning emotion. "I need you to be clearer than that," she tells him point-blank. "I… I trust you a hell of a lot – with my life, in fact – and I know you'd never toy with me like this, so I'm going to be equally open with you: I won't wait forever."
She sees the flicker of fear in his eyes, and wonders if that's because he thinks she's about to impose a time limit, or simply because he knows there's a significant danger that their time is short anyway.
"That's not a threat," she adds calmly, in an effort to reassure him. "And I promise you, I'll be by your side every step of the way when it comes to Red John. But I put my own life on hold a long time ago, and if you're going to give me that kind of incentive to pick up where I left off, then you'd damn well better fulfil your end of the bargain."
His smile is a little self-satisfied at the idea that she considers him to be a worthy inducement to jump-start her own life again. "Are you sure you aren't threatening me?" he says lightly. But he sobers quickly, and reaches out to take her hand. "I'll make a promise to you, then, Lisbon: I'll do whatever it takes to repair things with the others… and with you. I'll commit fully to being in the team again – with everything that entails. And when I've got my affairs in order, so to speak…"
His smile turns into a deviously suggestive grin. "I'm going to be coming for you." He winks. "So to speak."
She physically throws him out of her house.
Jane's still slouching to his car when he hears her scream of horror, and his grin widens.
Her morning alarm has just gone off.
Author's Note: Arrghhh, arrrrrrghhhhhhh! I deeply apologise to everybody for this rubbish! I actually find it really difficult to write J/L arguments, because my default setting is 'Fluff Factor 50', so deliberately sitting down to write 20 pages of angst is pure torture for me. I have left Kirkland's fate undecided because I actually like him and couldn't bear to write a rejection scene.
By the time most of you read this, 5x16 will be airing or will have already aired. My body is not ready… Good luck to everybody and here's hoping we all come out of it unscathed!
Also, let me take this opportunity to humbly beg for reviews – I'm dying to know what you think. Thanks for reading!