A/N: I warned you this fic would be short, but hey, it's a chapter longer than I promised! Thanks again for all your glorious reviews.
Chapter 4: Conclusion
It was four-o'clock, and Lisbon and Jane sat on the beach on towels, watching the fishermen hauling in their catch not far from shore. Jane would often show up there that time of day to buy fresh seafood for his dinner, but this afternoon, food was the last thing on his mind.
They held hands and she cuddled against him, and he knew she was trying hard not to cry. So was he, for that matter. Only two days before, this island had seemed fulfilling and beautiful, with only one small piece missing—Lisbon's friendship. Now, he had Lisbon's love, had tasted her, joined with her, and even paradise seemed dull by comparison.
They'd made love again in the heat of the early afternoon, the desperation he had shown her that morning apparently contagious, for she had held him down and straddled him, taking him inside of her body as she undulated with mindless abandon. Her motives were easy enough to read: she had no control over his choice to leave, but she'd be damned if she wouldn't exert some control in his bed. Afterwards, breathless and perspiring, they'd run down to the sea and swam, Jane in his swimming trunks, Lisbon in one of his t-shirts over her bra and panties.
Now, they sat in the sand, her hair nearly dried into deep natural waves, the minutes ticking by too quickly.
"I have to go," she said, her voice hitching a bit. "I need time to bathe and change. I don't want to be late and piss Abbot off."
"Fuck Abbot." He threw a stone angrily into the sea for emphasis.
"I would, if that would do any good," she said, in a lame attempt at humor.
He pulled her roughly to him, kissing her with a passionate despair that finally drew tears from each of them.
"I wish I hadn't come here," she said, breaking his heart a little more. "I was doing all right before. I missed you, but your letters got me through. How the hell am I going to survive now on…on just letters?"
"I could get a phone—"
"It won't be enough. Not now."
He'd told himself he wasn't going to say it again. It had been a mistake earlier, a selfish mistake in a long line of his selfish mistakes. But seeing her cry, he could only think of one way to get her to stop.
"Don't go," he said.
"No, I'm serious. You could stay here, with me."
"I would kill you—or myself—within a week. No."
"We wouldn't have to live here, if you don't like this village. We could find another place, a bigger house—"
"It's not the village. I have to work, Jane. I have to be a cop—it's who I am. What would I do here on an island? Work security at a hotel? Investigate petty thefts and pick up drunks off the beach? That would be my personal prison. I couldn't do that anymore than you could sell your soul to the FBI."
"You're right. I'm sorry. Forget I suggested it."
He ran his fingers through his hair in agitation, and then he slipped one hand behind her neck and pulled her lips to his. She succumbed for a moment, savoring his taste—peppermint tea and tears.
"I have to go," she repeated tremulously against his mouth. She caressed his beard, then pressed her lips where her fingers had touched.
"I'll walk you to the hotel," he offered, his eyes bleak.
"No. I won't be able to say good-bye if you do. All it'll take is that smile of yours, and I won't be able to get on the plane."
She stood, while he remained seated in the sand, paralyzed already by her loss. He grasped her hand and looked up at her, giving her a weak semblance of the smile she mentioned. But she was still going.
"I love you," he told her.
"I love you too."
And then he let her go.
He couldn't bear watching her leave, but he made himself do it anyway. She walked as quickly as her small legs could carry her through the sand and up to Alfredo's, waving good-bye to the barkeep and no doubt gifting him with her dimples. Then she disappeared from view.
She would have to stop at his place to get her things, put on her turquoise dress. Then she would walk through the square, past the fountain, and up to the swanky hotel. He imagined her in the shower, allowing herself a few last moments to cry as she leaned naked against the tile. But then she would wipe off her face, pull her wet hair into a neat ponytail, and stoically do what needed to be done.
Abbot would drop the whole letter thing when they got back to the States, Jane had little doubt. If he'd thought otherwise, he'd have gone with her in a minute. Abbot was a stickler for the law, but he really wasn't a cruel man. He'd had a job to do—get Jane to work for the FBI—using the most logical and expedient means necessary. But he wouldn't waste the taxpayers' money putting a good cop in jail because his plan had failed. There would be no point in that, really, and despite his outward arrogance, Jane didn't really overestimate his own importance. Lisbon would be allowed to go back to being Chief of Police in her own little village, get back to the new life she'd started…without him.
And he—he would still be here, sitting on his ass in the sand.
"Shit," he muttered, wiping angrily at his eyes.
At five minutes until five, Lisbon stood in the hotel lobby, waiting for Abbot. She had sadly packed away her island clothes in exchange for jeans, a black t-shirt, and sensible flats. Her hair hung in a damp ponytail. She kept picturing Jane as she had left him, shirtless and beautiful on the beach. This was the memory she would take with her. And the four times they'd made love.
The airport shuttle pulled up outside the hotel, but still no Abbot. Then a young man-Franklin, according to his hotel nametag-approached her.
"A Senor Abbot asked me to give you a message. He said he is delayed, but to take the five o'clock shuttle to the airport and he will meet you there."
"Gracias," she said kindly, but inside, Lisbon was fuming. She could have had more time with Jane, rather than busting her ass to make it here on time. She dragged her rolling carry-on to the shuttle bus and climbed inside, finding a front seat, and staring out the window at the beach in the distance.
She'd gotten through customs and was already on the plane, but no Abbot. She thought about calling him, but she didn't have the man's cell number. Should she leave? Was Abbot in trouble? She was taking out her smart phone to look up the hotel's number when she saw the big man appear in the doorway of the small plane. He nodded to her and sat a few aisles ahead of her. Another passenger came aboard, and then there was Jane. Happiness suffused her, and his smile was the widest she'd ever seen-he'd always taken great pleasure in shocking her.
He sat beside her in the empty aisle seat. Before she could speak, he was kissing her. He still smelled like the sea, and she saw he had quickly thrown on one of his old suits—sans vest-and his island shirt. He held a small duffle bag, which he pushed under the seat in front of him with his sockless, brown-shoed feet.
"Jane," she said in exasperation. "What the hell?"
"I couldn't let you leave without me," he said simply.
"But you won't be happy working for the FBI," she reminded him. "I don't want you resenting me for your decision—"
"Don't worry, Lisbon, I added a few of my own terms to the deal."
He brought from his suit coat pocket a gold napkin, one she recognized from Alfredo's bar, upon which he'd scrawled with marker a list of his demands. Number one was…her.
"Dammit, Jane. You had no right—"
"Read on," he said, nudging her with his arm. "It gets better." She skimmed through it, past the Airstream trailer, the couch, the tea, the living expenses. Huevos grandes indeed. She gave him a skeptical smirk.
"And Abbot agreed to all this?"
"He signed it on the bottom, see?"
She did, but then she frowned. "You realize he probably had no authorization to promise you these things."
"He's a man of his word."
She snorted doubtfully. "Did you sign the real contract?"
"So, the moment this plane touches down on American soil, he can arrest you for murder if he wants, and you won't have a leg to stand on."
"They want me to work for them, Lisbon, not to sit in jail. It'll all work out. Trust me."
She didn't even stop herself from rolling her eyes.
"Back to your so-called terms, Jane. I don't appreciate that you didn't consult me about Item Number One."
"I didn't exactly have the time…"
"I have a life in Washington now. A house. A good, respectable job."
"That bores you to tears."
"It's a good, respectable job," she repeated.
"Well, now we both will. In Austin. What does it matter the place? We'll be together, that's the main thing."
It was difficult to argue with that, but she tried anyway. "What about selling your soul to the FBI for five years?"
He tapped the napkin in her lap. "This will make it infinitely more bearable."
"You hope," she said under her breath.
He turned in his seat to take her hands in his. "Do you love me, Lisbon?"
"You know I do."
"Then be with me. This is a new beginning, Teresa, for both of us. All that beach bum stuff—I'm over it, just like I bet you're over the too-quiet charm of Pacific Northwestern living. Admit it, we both need some excitement, some adventure in our lives. But it will mean nothing if you're not there to stroke my…ego on a regular basis."
This last he said with that certain smile of his, the one that could always make her do anything for him, even fly to a South American island, put her life on hold, change her address, change her job, forgive him all his multitude of sins, and make love with him until she couldn't see (or walk) straight. But she still didn't want to be perceived as a pushover. She was determined that they have an equal relationship, without him calling all the shots.
"You're assuming a lot here," she said. "Maybe I have some terms of my own."
He raised an amused eyebrow. "Like what? Lay 'em on me, Lisbon. I'm in the mood to negotiate." He rubbed his hands together for emphasis.
The flight attendant interrupted them, however, making preliminary announcements and giving her in-flight safety spiel. When they had finally lifted off, Jane kissed her cheek and picked up the thread of their conversation.
"Well? What are they?" he prompted indulgently.
She shook her head at him, loving him so much that it made her heart contract almost painfully. She took a fortifying breath.
"Item Number One. You are never to lie to me, about anything."
"Never? What if your jeans make you look fat, or you have horrible morning breath."
"Never," she reiterated. Then she smiled a little. "And I'll certainly return the favor."
He sighed. This would be the most difficult rule to follow, which of course was why she'd made it number one.
"Seriously? I already don't believe you."
"Okay, will you accept that I will try my utmost, especially on important things?"
"Things that are important to me, Jane. This is a deal-breaker."
He tried to look annoyed, but in his heart he was jumping for joy. "All right. But you drive a hard bargain, Lisbon."
"Good. Item Number Two. You will include me in any and all of your schemes, before they transpire."
"Well, that's an easy one. Done."
"It never seemed to be easy for you in the past."
"We've reached a new level of trust, Lisbon. I want to share everything with you. It'll be me and you against the world, or at least the FBI. Besides, you're no longer The Man. The FBI is now The Man."
"It doesn't have to be us against them, Jane. We're supposed to be on the same side."
"Ha. You know how massive government entities are, sticking their fascist noses into everybody's business. The CBI was bad enough. We're talking despotism on a much grander scale…"
He grinned. "So the simple answer is yes, I'll include you in all of my schemes."
"Okay then. Item Number Three. You shall maintain an appropriate level of professionalism with me on the job at all times."
His expression turned sly. "All times? No quickies on my new couch when everyone has left the office?"
She blushed, looking nervously around at the other passengers. The woman across the aisle suddenly smiled down at her Kindle, and Lisbon wanted to sink into the floor. She lowered her voice to a warning hiss.
"That's just the kind of thing I mean."
"We're not on the job right now. As a matter of fact, we could join the Mile High Club when the seatbelt light goes off and in no way would I be violating Item Number Three."
Lisbon had seen the small bathroom on this kind of plane, so she wasn't even tempted. Much.
"Absolutely not. And keep your voice down, sheesh."
"Sorry," he said, in an exaggerated whisper. He looked over at their neighbor, caught her eye, and winked.
"Anything else? How about something fun, like Starbuck's every morning or backrubs every night?"
"Are you volunteering?"
"Of course. Anything to sweeten the deal for you. I mean, I'm getting an Airstream, myself."
"Good luck with that."
"What do you religious types say, O, ye of little faith?"
"My faith is in God, not in Dennis Abbot," she said, shooting daggers at the bald head three aisles up. The man had blackmailed her, after all, and she hadn't appreciated the heavy handed way he'd come in and taken over at the CBI two years before.
"And I have faith in us, Teresa," he said, his demeanor turning serious. He brought her hand to his lips, his eyes reminding her of the Caribbean Sea, far, far beneath them now. "I've had two years to think about it, and I realized that I've come to believe a little in destiny. I was meant to meet you twelve years ago. If I hadn't, if you and Minnelli hadn't given me a chance with the CBI, well, who knows what I would have become. I'm pretty sure I'd be dead, actually. Now here you are again, giving me a second chance at life after…after Red John."
He hesitated a moment, then plunged in to say what was on his mind. "Timothy Carter told me I should get on with my life, that I should give up my obsession with Red John, find myself a woman to love. I'd told him I would, when he was dead. Well, he's dead, the real Red John is dead, and it's time to get on with my life. Seriously move on, not hide from it on an island somewhere. You, Lisbon. You are my life- my fate, my destiny—whatever you want to call it. Believing in you has gotten me this far. I want to see how much farther we can go together."
He kissed her tenderly, and the lady across the aisle wiped away a stray tear. After a few sweet moments, he drew away, kissed her knuckles again, then sat back against his seat, smiling contentedly.
"Okay," said Lisbon, smiling dreamily back, her dimples meant only for him. "Starbuck's and backrubs it is."
"That's my girl. Go for the gusto."
Lisbon was genuinely looking forward to it.
A/N: Well, it's the end of my fic, but not for Jisbon, I hope. Thanks for reading. You guys are really helping me through the hiatus. Four more days, folks!
P.S.: I'll get back to work on "Private Eyes," and also, I've now posted Nerwen's epilogue to "Double Talk." Please check both stories out if you've missed them.