A/N: Yes, I'm still working on "Private Eyes," but this idea occurred to me, and wouldn't let me rest until I got it out of my head. It will only be two or three chapters, but it is designed to help me (and, hopefully, you) pass the time until the hiatus is up. I'm sure someone else has had this idea, but I haven't actually read any of those stories, so any similarities are purely coincidental. I hope you enjoy this.
That Certain Smile
"We know you've been receiving letters from Jane," said Dennis Abbot, sitting in the chair in front of her desk. The endless rain continued to fall outside the Cannon River Police Department, and Chief Lisbon regarded the federal agent benignly.
"And, you realize that by withholding this information from us, you're aiding and abetting a wanted fugitive."
She shrugged nonchalantly, though her heart was pounding in her chest. "None of the letters are signed by Jane, so I can't be sure they're from him, now can I? And I have done nothing to aid anyone. Receiving letters is no crime."
Abbot gave a tight smile. "I can see Jane's methods rubbed off on you over the ten years you worked with him. Seems Jane's been funneling his letters through some of his old carney friends. When we got a warrant to monitor their post office box, we figured out that they would take Jane's mail and slip it into a new envelope, then send it up here to you. Quite clever, really, but I was told to expect no less from Jane."
When confronted with the truth, Lisbon chose to remain stubbornly silent.
"Look, I could very easily ruin your budding career here, Chief Lisbon, and just when the dust has finally settled since the Red John debacle. But if you help me in this matter, I'll forget that entire box of letters we recovered from your house this morning."
Her feigned bravado disappeared immediately. "You searched my house?" she said angrily.
He reached for the cowry seashell on her desk. "I believe this is the shell Jane mentions in his letter from Christmas of 2013, am I right? I wonder if we'd find a useable fingerprint…"
"What the hell do you want?" she asked finally, her hands clenching in her lap. It took every ounce of her self-control not to reach over the desk and tear her beloved gift from the fed's unworthy hands.
"We've located Jane on a small island off the coast of South America. We want you to go down there and encourage him to come back."
She laughed. "No way. Even if I agreed, he won't come. Why don't you just go down there and arrest him yourself?"
"I'm sure you know as well as I do that we have few extradition agreements with that part of the world. But we do have the power to make him a deal. If he comes back and works as a consultant for the FBI, we'll drop the murder charges, along with the other extraneous charges pending against him."
Her heart leapt at this unexpected opportunity. "All the charges dropped? No trial, no time at all?"
"That's right," agreed Abbot. "But he's not gonna take my word for it. Go down there, Lisbon, convince him to come home. I'm sure he's missing the comforts of his own country by now, and from his letters, he's obviously missing you too."
Her eyes flashed again at his invasion of her privacy. "Why do I feel, Agent Abbot, as if he would be making a deal with the devil? Are you wanting his soul too?"
"Nothing as innocuous as that," he said in amusement. "Just his help putting away more bad guys."
"He'll want this deal in writing before he'd even consider it."
"I'll work something up for you to show to him."
Lisbon's eyes narrowed. "Something legal and binding, Agent Abbot, that I can see for myself before I present it to him. I'll not be party to bringing him back just so you can throw him in a Federal Pen."
"You're an officer of the law, Chief Lisbon. This man is wanted for the murder of at least two men."
"Two very bad men," she said softly. "Not to mention the fact that it was mainly through Jane's efforts that you discovered the giant syndicate in law enforcement that led to the arrests of scores of corrupt officials. Quite a feather in your cap, I imagine. I think that alone entitles him to a deal."
Abbot smiled again, this time more genuinely. "Perhaps you're right. Well, the powers that be seem to think his talents are being wasted in the back of beyond, so they're pretty much giving him carte blanche here. I could have sent someone else to entice him, but something tells me you would be our best bet."
"What happens if not even I can entice him? Will I be locked up for aiding and abetting?"
"Don't get ahead of yourself, Chief," he hedged. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Besides, I have every faith in your abilities; otherwise I wouldn't have even bothered coming here."
She didn't believe that for a second. He was there to bully her into getting what the FBI wanted, even if it meant destroying her life—again—in the process.
"Fine," she said after a moment. "I'll go, but I can't make any guarantees where Jane is concerned."
"You're making the right decision, both for yourself and for Jane. This is the best, and only offer he's going to get. Now, shall I escort you home so you can pack and get your passport?"
"That won't be necessary," she said tightly.
"Oh, I insist. Our plane leaves in three hours."
Jane made his weekly trip to the post office, bantering in Spanish with the ladies who ran the place.
"Anyone ask for me?" he said, as per usual.
"No, Senor," the clerk responded, somewhat sadly it seemed to Jane. They must have thought he wanted someone to come looking for him; but it was actually quite the contrary. No interlopers meant another day of freedom.
Jane grinned his thanks and went on his way, waving to the local children and stopping to scratch behind the ears of the yellow cat that hung hopefully around the small seafood market. Jane called him Charlie, and the animal preened and purred under his attentions.
Then it was off to Alfredo's seaside bar and grill for his usual breakfast. It was a simple, predictable life, and one, though at times left him bored and restless, he also found soothing and healing. Someday soon he would move on, find something to do with the rest of his life besides being a beach bum. The money he'd stashed away in off shore accounts back in his fake psychic days wouldn't last forever, though he only took what he needed to pay the meager rent of his small hovel and the other basic necessities of life, like eggs and tea.
The only things that interested him lately were his letters to Lisbon, and the hope that she was somehow receiving them. He'd imagine her expressions as she read his cheerful missives, and that kept him going through the long days of beautiful tedium. Seldom did he tell her his real feelings about things, but occasionally he would voice his regrets, like in the letter he'd just sent. He would give anything to make it up to Lisbon for leaving her to clean up his mess-again. Newspapers from the States and his occasional glimpses of satellite news told him that Red John's legions had been decimated, and for that he was glad, but he knew it had been at the expense of his old team's jobs, and he was genuinely sorry for that.
He was not, however, sorry for having killed Red John with his bare hands. He would never regret that, for it had freed him, except for the ring he still wore on his left hand. There would be a someday for that too, he knew, though the thought of taking off his ring made him feel oddly fearful and vulnerable. He'd worn that ring like an amulet or an athlete's lucky hat. It had protected him, shielded him, but, as he saw in hindsight, it had also isolated him. He'd been (except for one night in Vegas) celibate for twelve years now, but he was still a man, still had needs and desires, which, the more time passed since his quest for Red John had ended, became increasingly difficult to ignore.
What was he saving himself for? He was past punishing himself, was even on his way to forgiving himself. He was relatively happy now, carefree, and he longed for someone to share that with. It was a perfectly normal desire, he knew, but he had recently come to realize that when Red John was gone, he'd expected to have Lisbon in his life. That was obviously impossible now, but he still wrote those letters, faithfully, every week.
It was probably in his own best interest, as well as hers, to let her go. But Jane had an obsessive nature, and once he'd committed himself to something, to someone, it was nearly impossible to give them up. He missed Lisbon with an ache that seemed at times almost unbearable. He'd freed himself from Red John, but he was still attached to Lisbon, by a long, invisible thread that stretched all the way to Washington State. He wondered if she felt it too, and that uncertainty was what kept him writing, kept that thread intact.
He finished his eggs and took a walk along the beach, removing his shoes as he combed the edge of the waves, looking for something to decorate his room, or maybe to send to Lisbon for her upcoming birthday. He'd loved to spoil her when she'd let him, though she'd often returned his gifts. That was okay with him, for the reward had always been her initial reaction. Her dimpled smiles were priceless, like a gift for him as well. Her last birthday, he'd only had his memories of birthdays past to hold onto. What he wouldn't give to see that smile just one more time.
The warm water washed against his bare feet, and he had just considered a morning swim, when something caught his attention, or, rather, someone. Some distance down the beach, he saw a woman wearing a long skirt that billowed out in the breeze, her long, dark hair blowing across her face, her sandals dangling from her fingers just as he carried his old brown shoes. Perhaps it was a trick of the sun, perhaps it was his incredibly wishful thinking, but something in the way she moved seemed painfully familiar. He'd had this experience occasionally over the past two years, (as one often does in foreign places) when he thought he'd seen someone he knew. He'd even, at times, thought he'd seen Lisbon, only to feel as if the rug were pulled from beneath him when he realized he'd been wrong.
He paused a moment, holding his breath, as the woman continued her slow trek in his direction. The illusion did not go away, and indeed only seemed more real the closer to him she came. She was looking out to sea, ignoring her feet, and when an unexpected wave splashed up to her knees, she jumped with a little laugh at being taken off guard, the skirt of her dress soaking wet.
He knew that laugh.
Jane felt his heart leap into his throat as he stood there, momentarily paralyzed, the waves buffeting against his own legs as he watched the woman trot higher up on shore and bend to ring out her skirt. When she stood up straight again, she saw him, and her face broke into that certain dimpled smile he'd just minutes before believed he'd never see again.
"Lisbon," he whispered, and he dropped his shoes in the sand.
A/N: While I loved the reunion between them on the show, wouldn't this have been even better? Another chapter soon.
By the way, the title from this fic comes from an old Johnny Mathis song, in case you're wondering.