„Just let me be happy.“
Lisbon was sure she would never again forget those few words. The simple sentence uttered almost desperately by a man she knew so well and didn’t recognize at all. In that moment the haunted look in his eyes had been back for the first time since he’d woken up. She couldn’t have said whether she was relieved or horrified by the sight.
It had been like getting a glimpse of the old Jane but at the price of the new one’s peace of mind. It was like he had said. He was happy. He was carefree and without a weight on his shoulders too heavy to carry. But this wasn’t him anymore. This wasn’t Patrick Jane. This was a cheap replacement, a bad copy, a distorted reflection of the genius she had come to work with. His abilities were still the same, she could see that, but even what compassion he had had left before was gone now. Remaining was a selfish being who cared neither for what people thought of him nor for what he did to those around him.
The death of his family truly had made him a better man. The thought almost choked her. Never before had she deemed it possible that any good could ever come from the deaths of an innocent woman and child. But here she had the painful proof.
She had debated what to think, what side to be on. The doctors had told her he needed to get his memories back on his own, that she shouldn’t do anything to help him remember. And she had tried. Had tried letting him do his thing without interfering. But when he had actually stolen money from a thief and murderer, she hadn’t been able to help it anymore.
Whoever that man in front of her was, he was nothing like the man she had worked with for years now. And she knew the man who had become her friend wouldn’t want this for himself. This oblivion that cost him his personality. So she had to try and save him from a fate she knew he wouldn’t want, no matter what this twisted version of him said. She owed him that much.
So she had taken him to his home. To the huge house with all the empty rooms. To the bedroom with the bloody reminder on the wall.
She saw the self confidence drain from his body with every step he took towards the door at the end of the hallway. Saw the arrogance vanish piece by piece. He looked back at her just before turning the doorknob and even in the dim light she saw the uncertainty on his face.
She hated herself for doing this. For causing him all the pain that would inevitably crash down on him when he realised what he had once lost. But she told herself she didn’t have a choice. She couldn’t let him lose himself, too.
She didn’t know whether to keep her eyes on him or to avert them when he finally looked into the room. She felt the need to watch out for him but didn’t want to invade his privacy. In the end her gaze flicked up and down, alternating between his figure and the floor.
As soon as he caught sight of what was behind the door, his whole body went rigid. She wasn’t sure if it was shock or the attempt to hide his feelings. But even watching it hurt.
After a few seconds he lowered his head, averting his eyes, obviously not able to take it any longer.
Compassion for him washed over her, strong enough to bring tears to her eyes. She had never wanted to imagine what his life must feel like when every waking and probably even every sleeping minute was overshadowed by the memory of opening that door all those years back. But to live through that experience twice? To be forced to endure the most horrible moment imaginable a second time? She didn’t know how anyone was supposed to survive that. But she was sure, if anyone could, it was him.
Before her, he faltered slightly. She could make out the small movement of his hand, unconsciously and involuntarily searching for something to hold on to. Anything steady. He found the doorframe and she saw the shifting of his weight as he leaned against it.
His whole posture screamed in silent agony and it cost her all she had to stay away from him. She knew he wouldn’t want her near him, wouldn’t even want her to see him like this. But she couldn’t leave him. Not now. Not when he was barely able to breathe. Her heart broke for him and she felt a tear spill from her eyes. She knew she had done the right thing, but his voice still sounded in her head.
“Just let me be happy.”