tromana: (mentalist: jane/lisbon hug)
[personal profile] tromana
Title: Waving, Not Drowning
Author: [livejournal.com profile] tromana 
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Jane/Lisbon
Summary: Sometimes, it's easier to skirt around the issue. Others, you have to face head on.
Notes: Episode tag to 2x19 Blood Money. Written for the Paint It Red ficathon.
Prompts: From the Paint It Red ficathon: "Learning to shoot," from [livejournal.com profile] miss_peg  and "I'm the hero of the story, I don't need to be saved." Hero, Regina Spektor - from Famous4it. From [livejournal.com profile] mentalistprompt, prompt table I: "In the still of the night...".

Waving, Not Drowning

She takes the stance. Her left foot slightly in front of the right, like a martial artist stands in preparation to fight. Then again, this isn't all that different. It's still an art of war, the main difference is that she's armed rather than using her bare hands. Besides, it's the strongest stance and more than makes up for her lack of height. That, and it has been drilled into her since day one at the academy. That was years ago now, almost a lifetime away. But still, they had a point and there's a reason Lisbon still practices using the same techniques she learned back then.

Unfortunately, in the field, you rarely have time to do things properly. Shifting one foot could be the difference between life and death. That's something she understands all too well. She's seen good cops gunned down in the past, simply because of split second decisions. In a way, she considers herself lucky. Lucky that she has never been the wrong side of that millisecond.

Still, she clears her mind. There's nothing worse than trying to shoot with her mind filled with jumbled thoughts, all vying for her attention. Lisbon often ends up down at the firing range when she's tense and needs to cool off a little. And to say that she hasn't been feeling stressed lately would be utterly ludicrous. One look in her eyes says it all. Things are getting better, but still, it's a slow journey to be taking. She's taken to wearing more makeup, trying to mask the hurt, to pretending even. It doesn't work and having Patrick Jane constantly trying to get under her skin makes it all the worse.

She knows he's trying to help, in the only way he knows how. And really, she appreciates it. Even if she doesn't always show it in quite the way he anticipates. Then again, how can she, when half of his crackpot plans are either entirely inappropriate for the situation or result in causing her far more work than necessary? But still, it's sweet that he cares. It also shows that he's learning to trust people again, realizing he doesn't have to spend the rest of his life shutting people out. Moving on from the tragedy of his past after far, far too long.

And if he, of all people, can do it, she can too.

Lisbon knows she's been out of sorts for a while, a little maudlin in comparison to usual. But to lose Bosco, so suddenly, so pointlessly, had been a shock to the system. Then, as if to add insult to injury, Minelli skipped out on them, on her. He had always seemed so strong, like he would always be there. And now, he's gone and has been replaced by a boss who hates her. It's getting to the stage where she wouldn't be surprised if she lost her job within a year.

Today, she's been lucky. Somehow, miraculously, despite her complete lack of control of her wayward consultant, Lisbon still has a job. She's also managed to get out of being scrutinized by the PSU despite breaking every rule in the book. It's one of those situations where she has learned that she just needs to let it wash by her. Thinking about it too much overcomplicates things.

She takes a deep breath. Focuses. Shoots.

Bullets tear through paper with little regard. Lisbon barely notices; she's entirely focused on the task in hand.

It isn't long until she's fired off the whole round. Normally, she would stop and to see just how well she's doing, but right now, she can't. Not yet. Not when she's painfully aware of Patrick Jane standing beside her, staring. It's like he believes she'll disappear if he doesn't keep his eyes on her at all times. This is something Lisbon knows she should be used to by now. It's still unnerving and makes her a little uncomfortable. He's so fascinated by people, but sometimes, she cannot help but wish that he'd stop being so interested in her. In all honesty, they have known each other for long enough for him to know everything about her. She has long since lost count of the amount of times he's described her as translucent or worse, an open book.

"What do you want?" she asks bluntly.

Jane smirks. As always, it's all too knowing and she wishes she could find an excuse to punch him again. Then again, Lisbon also knows that she needs to control her temper, to manage herself. She can't lose face in front of her subordinates, least of all him. Last time she hit him square in the nose, it was justified. To do it now? Not so much. With a sigh, she clicks the safety back on, removes her ear defenders and looks him square in the eye. However, he doesn't answer. Instead, he shrugs, somewhat infuriatingly. Lisbon sometimes wonders why he can't just answer her questions without more prompting, why it always has to be such a game. Then again, in her less cynical moments, she sees this as half of his charm. And she's learned, how to read people, read him better. That's always a useful skill.

"You know, words are useful."

"How do you do it?"

"Do what?" she replies, creasing her brow slightly.

For some reason, she can already tell this is a loaded question. He's looking at the gun, resting on the stand, but that isn't all he means. Of course, he's intrigued as to how to shoot effectively. He sees the team all do it on a regular basis, how it's almost a second nature to them. Then, the glance suggests something else. Something deeper. She cocks her head to one side, quizzically and eventually identifies the haunted look in his eyes. Just because he's making progress when it comes to connecting with people again, it doesn't mean his family is far from his mind. And that's what he wants to know. How to move on. As if she, of all people, has the answers. Then again, that's hardly surprising. It's no secret that death has been a feature of her life for a far too long. Her childish innocence had been crushed by it in the blink of an eye, causing her to grow up far too soon. Jane doesn't understand that; he's the epitome of a child in an adult's body, even now. But how can she have the secrets behind mourning someone and moving on? She thought it goddamn obvious that she was struggling to keep afloat, barely able to come to terms with latest developments.

So, instead, she simply ignores the question he means and answers the one he doesn't. Even though she knows she could live to regret answering this one eventually, too. Maybe another time, they can address dealing with loss. That's a discussion she isn't in a fit state for, least of all right here and now.

"Defenders."

Jane's eyes widen a little and she smiles slightly when he finally remembers that he removed them to hear her speak. She isn't going to start teaching him how to shoot without following protocol. He may not be one for rules, but with something like this, even he needs to be aware of the obvious hazards. As far as she knows, his only experience with a gun is firing a poorly held rifle. A shot that had, mercifully, saved her own life. She still feels indebted to him; it's part of the reason why she's spent increasingly more time trying desperately to protect him from harm. It's a thankless task, but somebody has to do it.

Amazingly enough, he listens to her instructions willingly and actually follows them, something which feels like a first to her. Jane is tentative as he fires, a little nervous to apply pressure to the trigger. Then again, when she first had a gun placed in her hand, so was she. It's taken many years of hard work for her to get to where she is now. She silently notes that he does a fair job at handling the weapon. She's seen more experienced marksmen do a worse job, at least. However, that doesn't disguise the shake of his hand as he places it back down again, indicating he's had enough.

And funnily enough, though it was his suggestion of a method for her to let off steam, so has she. Even though she's only fired just the one round herself. Somehow, the desire to do damage to innocent targets has ebbed somewhat.

She's not surprised when he offers to take her out for a late-night coffee. After all, considering the week they've had, he owes her. And ever since Bosco, Lisbon has noticed that he's been more protective of her, too. Shadowing her at times when it's unnecessary, checking she's okay more frequently than entirely appropriate. Sometimes, it's suffocating and she aches for the space, for the boundaries she meticulously works for. Others, it's a relief. To know that somebody nearby actually cares about her wellbeing.

However, Lisbon cannot help but continue to feel startled. Jane's assertion that he'll always save her is disconcerting. She's no damsel in distress and that's something she's proud of. Lisbon has always been the one in control of her own destiny and has rarely taken kindly to outside influence. There's a reason she lives her life the way she does, and it isn't something she's willing to share with anyone any time soon. Then again, she knows she should have had the insight to know Jane would start meddling sooner or later. It's practically a part of his DNA.

However, if he can barely save himself, what hope has he got of saving her? And what specific threat does he have in mind?

The only one she can think of is Jane himself. And she knows she's not going to let go of him that easily. Like the Red John case, she's too involved with him now. She sees it as part of her duty to ensure he stays on the straight and narrow. Like he wants to 'save' her, she needs to 'fix' him. To piece together the broken pieces and give him a life worth living once more. If she succeeds, she knows he won't be perfect, the cracks will always show, but at least he won't have thrown his life away for a second time. Or so she hopes, anyway. It depends on just how well she can get him to let her in, rather than vice versa.

It doesn't take her long to drive to Jane's café of choice. Despite it being late, it's still open. Mostly because it's near the CBI headquarters and there is a demand for coffee from them, whatever the hour. Lisbon knows from first-hand experience that it doesn't serve the best tea in the world, but it doesn't stop Jane from ordering one. He hates coffee, despite being more than willing to give her a fix of caffeine every so often. Even if he believes the tea is dire, he probably reckons it's better than the next best alternative.

"You do realize that the whole lesson was hypothetical, right?"

They're holed up at their usual table, if they can call it that. The place is dead, excepting themselves and Agent Gavin from Organized Crime, who is clearly doing the coffee run. Lisbon nods slightly in her direction, knowing full well the woman will gossip. People can never resist. The rumors about herself and Jane have been flying around the CBI for years now and she's just about given up trying to set the record straight. There's no point; just as soon as she has everyone convinced that they are not together, something happens which sends them back to square one. It's better to just let people think they know the truth and focus on doing a good job.

"Oh really?"

"Yes, really. With your… history, you'd never legally be allowed to own a firearm."

He nods, clearly understanding and doesn't say another word. Instead, he simply sips his tea and she cannot help but wonder what's going through that mind of his. Possibly something about not needing to actually own a gun to shoot Red John. He could steal somebody else's, hers perhaps. Maybe even be gifted it by some generous soul who is painfully aware of his vendetta. His story is, after all, widely available on the internet. A half hour search, if that, can tell somebody everything they need about Patrick Jane. In a way, she wishes she could cast these doubts aside, just trust him entirely for a change. But then, if she did, where would she land up? Lisbon is already aware that she's at the top of a slippery slope, fighting to stay as far away from the bottom as possible. Just giving in would be dangerous, however tempting it might be.

The air soon gets stifling and she knows Jane is aware of it too. Quickly, he changes the subject and she falls into place behind it. Bickering with him comes easily, it's almost a second nature to her now. Sometimes, she wonders if half the time, he's really playing devil's advocate, simply to try and prompt a response from her. Still, it provides a useful distraction and soon, her coffee grows cold. Again, she knows that is probably a good thing; she has to be up early in the morning and caffeine could potentially keep her up all not.

They exit quickly and the nighttime air cuts through her jacket. It doesn't bother her in the slightest; she's used to much colder temperatures from her childhood home back East. What does bother her, however, is the silence. Under a blanket of darkness, anything can happen. People can use night to cover all manner of crimes. Her job isn't just a job, it's a lifestyle choice and something she cannot switch off. Even now, after a peaceful night socializing with a co-worker, she cannot help but wonder what laws are being broken at that very moment. What she'll be woken up to deal with come morning. Then again, she had always been told as a child that she had an overactive imagination, that she didn't seem to know how to switch off. Sometimes, it's a blessing, others it's a curse.

As she slips into her car, she offers Jane a ride home, which he politely declines. The walk will do him good, apparently. Instead, she shrugs noncommittally and inserts her key into the ignition. But she's not done yet. If she doesn't ask, Lisbon knows this will plague her mind for all too long. In a way, she wishes that the little boy with the goat had found them five minutes later, that they had had a chance to finish this conversation in Mexico. Instead, like so many things, it has been brushed under the carpet. Forgotten. Like the lingering thoughts about grief settling at the back of her mind.

"Jane?"

"Yes?"

"What you said, about saving…"

"I meant it," he interrupted, keen to make his point.

"I don't need saving. I'm fine."

Jane raises a skeptical eyebrow and she knows why. 'I'm fine' has been her mantra for months now and half the time, she hadn't even been convincing herself. Then again, she knows there's light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, that she doesn't feel quite so sad anymore. But still, it rankles. She's not the one who needs saving, it's him.

"Jane…"

She almost knows what he's going to say now, that she needs to trust him more, that she can't keep isolating herself. That it isn't healthy, or fair on herself. It's hypocritical, considering his lifestyle choices and they both know it. That is, she suspects, half the reason he chooses to remain silent instead of answering her question.

"Jane…" she starts, but she knows she doesn't want to start an argument, not at this time of night. "Just so long as you let me help you too, 'kay?"

He smiles. It's one that doesn't quite meet his eyes and Lisbon has to pretend it doesn't hurt. There isn't much she wouldn't give to see him genuinely happy again, but sometimes that seems like an impossibility.

"Some things go unsaid," he answers, before she speeds off into the night, without a second glance.

As she told him, she knows where this is going to go. One day, it's all going to end in disaster, one way or another. That is, if he doesn't let go of his thankless task of trying to seek revenge. Theoretically, she knows she can stop it. She just needs a little luck, a lot of patience and time. Even then, it can still all go wrong. If Jane pushes the wrong buttons, she will be out of the CBI in a flash. He's her responsibility. There's nobody there to pick up the pieces when she screws up, even if Jane likes to think he could. If she makes the wrong decision, she is entirely taken into account. She likes to act as the security blanket for the rest of her team, partially because it's her job, but mostly because they're good people and deserve it.

Just like Jane deserves a second chance at happiness, even if he doesn't see it yet.

So, until it's all taken away from her, she's going to continue fighting, continue trying to do good. Catching the bad guys, trying to fix Jane.

Usually, that's enough.

end

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tromana

November 2011

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