He sat on the plush couch and stared out into the middle distance. In one hand, he clasped a shot glass filled with whiskey and ice. Patrick Jane let out a slow, steady breath. This wasn’t peace he felt.
It was uncertainty.
For so long, his life had been dedicated to one task and one task only: catch Red John. Kill him and exact revenge in order to honor his deceased wife and child. Nothing else had ever come into the equation. Jane had never dared to think of a life after Red John. It was partially because he was blinkered and fixated on the task in hand, but also because he wasn’t sure if there would be such a thing as an ‘after’.
In the end, he hadn’t been able to kill Red John. His mind had faltered at the critical moment. Instead, Teresa Lisbon had been the victor. She had cuffed the serial killer, dragged him back to the CBI headquarters and questioned him. Just like she had strived after for the vast majority of her career with the CBI; bringing down the deadliest of criminals was what drove her. How could he fault her for that? She was the most honorable person he knew.
Jane closed his eyes tightly. There was little point in staring into space and trying desperately to think about nothing at all.
It didn’t work.
It never did.
After all, his mind was too quick, too active. It quickly filled any void with pictures. Of the past, of the future, of alternative universes. He had always been one to ask ‘what if?’ Extrapolation was a natural ability to him and something he’d honed while learning his craft. Sometimes, it was a blessing but now, it had become a curse.
Patrick Jane would never be free of his demons, because they would always be there in his mind.
But then, there were other things there too.
Briefly, his fingers danced across his cellphone. It would have been so easy to call her, to tell her that he missed her and wanted her. Now. She was on speed dial. Not that he needed that; Jane had committed Lisbon’s number to memory a long, long time ago.
Every time he thought of her, though, he thought of Red John. He saw her leading away the man who had killed his wife and child. The two were currently inexorably linked and unsurprisingly so. For a start, it had happened less than a week ago. That, and Lisbon had always been adamant that Red John was her case, not his. She was the lead agent, after all.
The more he tried not to think about Lisbon, however, the more that he did.
He didn’t need photographs dancing around his room to remind him of memories associated with her. They were safely stashed away in his memory palace, locked in a place that nobody else could get at. Not even Red John could taint those.
And for the first time in a week, a small smile crossed his face.
Jane remembered her steely confidence when they first met. How she had taken everything on board willingly and casually reminded him that regardless of how much cleverer he thought he was than her, she was still his boss. Nobody had spoken to him like that before, not even Angela.
There was the time she had nearly lost control in her own lounge. She’d been so broken, so fearful and so embarrassed. About what he might have thought, what he was going to say. And the fact that she already knew he had committed it to memory.
Then, there was the time when she wore that beautiful black ball gown, looking incredibly self-conscious, yet incredibly sexy at the same time. Especially when she had added that little leather jacket to the ensemble. She’d loathed that fundraiser, particularly because it had been so close to Bosco’s death. Never before had she looked so pleased to have a reason to go and do some actual work.
All the times she had saved his life. There had been more of those occasions than even she had known about.
Then, there was the moment he had risked everything just to give into his feelings for just the one night. They’d made love on the very couch he was currently sitting on and then, he’d wondered if he was going to lose her over that.
Not necessarily to Red John, but through her pushing him away.
In the end, Red John had tried the former. Jane had no idea how the serial killer had discovered the simple fact that they had taken their relationship to the next level – albeit, just for one night – but he had. That had ended up being his downfall.
That was the time when Lisbon had set herself up as the bait and lured Red John in.
Now, he was behind bars and he couldn’t hurt anyone.
Not even Lisbon. She was the final victim that wasn’t. And considering she now held that mantle, he was pleasantly surprised with just how well she was holding up. That was less than could have been said for him. His traitorous mind kept running through all the possible scenarios that could have happened and none of them were pretty.
Automatically, his eyes were drawn straight back to his cellphone.
Then, he remembered the most recent moment that had been etched in his memories. She had swept into his apartment and slammed some forms down on his desk. Fire was ablaze in her eyes, but he’d had to ignore it. Lisbon always seemed so attractive whenever she was furious and at the time, he just had to try and bitterly ignore that.
“What the hell is the meaning of this?” she’d seethed.
The question had been rhetorical. They had both known what a resignation form meant. Patiently, Jane had explained to her that he was just fulfilling his promise. He’d always said he would leave the CBI once the Red John case had been dealt with. Nothing else remained for him there now that it was closed, he’d said. Lisbon had promptly left without another word. However, she hadn’t needed to speak in order to say what she was thinking. The look in her eyes had said it all.
Now, hours later, Jane glanced at the forms once again – she had specifically left them behind – and then back at his cellphone. Deep down, he had known he was lying to her even before he’d said that there was nothing left for him at the CBI.
And she had probably known he was lying as well.
In truth, he was scared of the alternative.
Of falling in love again.
Of having his heart broken once more.
Of losing her.
But, by pushing her away, he was doing precisely that. Quickly, Jane downed the whiskey and picked up his phone. His fingers danced across the keys, dialing that all too familiar number. Nervously, he placed it to his ear as his heart thumped a military tattoo against his ribcage. It seemed like an eternity until she actually bothered to answer him.
In reality, Lisbon picked up after just two rings.
“Jane?” she said and she sounded tired. “What do you want?”
“I need you,” he muttered quickly, the words falling out before he had a chance to stop them. “Now. How soon can you get here?”
Lisbon didn’t answer the question. Instead, silence echoed back and Jane frowned. Slowly, he placed his cell phone down and stared at it, willing her to call him back.
She never did.
Instead, there was a frantic knock at the door five minutes later.
Jane leapt to his feet faster than he had done so in quite some time. When he saw a slightly disheveled Lisbon on his doorstep, he broke out into a smile. She didn’t say a word in return. Instead, she placed her hands gently on his cheeks, rolled up onto the balls of her feet and met his lips for an embrace.
Never before had she instigated such a thing between them. On the only other occasion they had shared a kiss, he had been the one to instigate it. Lisbon was so fearful of scaring him away, that never before had she been quite so daring. Even so, Jane knew that she could be forceful and dominating when she wanted to be. She’d never have gotten to where she was in her career if she hadn’t had those characteristics.
But this – this was new to him and a very pleasant development to say the least. Jane reciprocated willingly; in truth, this was all he’d wanted for them for a considerably long period of time. However, it had been too dangerous, too risky to do anything about it. After the one night they had shared, he’d felt like he was living on a knife edge. But it wasn’t just because Red John had been leering down at them, but because of his mental health too. Only now did he realize there was no threat at all. Lisbon was never going to push him away; she had endured so much crap because of him already. She hadn’t left then, so she wasn’t going to now. For somebody so perceptive, it was surprising just how blind he could be at times.
When she finally pulled away, breathless, he spent a moment tracing the contours of her face with his fingertips.
“You were only five minutes away. Your house is further away than that.”
Lisbon shrugged. “I knew you would change your mind.”
Finally, Jane pulled her inside and shut the door behind her. She was right; he’d said he was going to leave in the heat of the moment. He hadn’t had a chance to truly react to the repercussions of Red John actually being gone for good. A few hours alone had changed that.
The look of warmth and tenderness in her eyes practically melted him on the spot. Still, her love for him hadn’t surprised him all that much. After all, he could read her like an open book. He had probably known she had loved him for longer than she had herself.
What did surprise him, though, was her faith and conviction in him. Jane had never truly given her much of a reason to trust him. He was as fluid as a river, constantly moving, never stopping in the same place twice. He’d believed that he’d only stuck around because of Red John.
But now, with her by his side, Jane knew that he had finally found his way back home.