Title: Still (with Hearts Beating)
Spoilers: AU after Black Hearts.
Word Count: 1,518
Summary: In which Lisbon moves to DC and Jane has a hard time adjusting.
The first time Cho calls her and leaves a message it is, of course, about Jane.
He doesn’t come right out and say it like his usual self. Instead, he buries it beneath details of their latest case and some inane observations about the weather until there’s simply nothing else to say.
“Jane,” he mutters finally, his voice reverberating softly around the barely furnished bedroom. “Jane’s…well, Jane, you know. It’s hard to tell how he’s doing sometimes…” Cho trails off, and in the silence Lisbon can hear birdsong and the quiet hush of wind. She takes a moment to wonder where he’s calling from, but for some reason can only imagine him standing on a forested cliff overlooking the Pacific, surrounded by California sunlight and crime scene tape.
The thought makes her chest ache.
“He seems fine,” Cho says when he starts speaking again, “but I’ll keep an eye on him for you.” There’s another pause, and then, “Bye, Boss.”
The message ends, but Lisbon hits the play button again, listening to Cho’s message start up as she leans back against the pillows that cover the bed she shares with Marcus. She’s trying to fit in with the DC branch, trying to make friends, but it’s hard and she’s quickly realized that nothing will ever really feel like her CBI family. So all of her efforts fall short, much to Marcus’ disappointment.
He just wants her to be happy, to have proof that the move away from Austin was worth it.
Lisbon wonders why that seems to annoy her so much.
“It’s, uh, sunny here.” Cho’s voice breaks through her thoughts. Listening to his message a second time, it becomes clear that he’s stalling, trying to think of a way to bring up Jane but not really sure how to accomplish the subject change. “But there are clouds-”
The front door opening and then slamming shut drowns out the rest of his sentence.
She jumps, foot bumping into her phone and sending it flying onto the floor. “In here!” she calls, scrambling to reach her phone.
Marcus appears in the doorway just as she picks the device up. “Honey, what are you doing in here?” he asks, a bemused smile tugging at his mouth.
“Jane.” The name echoes between them before Lisbon can stop Cho’s message from going any further. She doesn’t miss how the smile slides right off Marcus’ face.
"Just listening to messages," she says, too quickly, holding up her now silent phone for him to see. "Cho called to update me on how things are going there. You won't believe this, but he actually tried talking about the weather." Her attempt at humor falls flat, and Marcus continues staring at her with a look on his face that she doesn't like.
(It looks like disappointment. It looks like regret.)
“And, um…” She struggles to find the right words to fix the situation. “He says the weather’s nice,” she finishes lamely.
Marcus crosses his arms over his chest. "And what did he have to say about Jane?"
The sound of his name makes her stomach drop, but she doesn't miss him. She doesn't miss him, she doesn't miss him. She has Marcus now, and they are happy. "He didn't say much about Jane, just something about one of his idiotic plans."
For some reason, that brings a small smile to his face. "His plans are crazy," he agrees, "but they work."
"They do," Lisbon says, but she wants to tell him that he has no idea and therefore no right to talk about Jane's ridiculous plans. She wants to tell him about the time they both pretended to be high on belladonna or the time he got the whole team to help him rob a casino or the time he faked a breakdown and then holed himself up in Vegas with Red John’s mistress. She wants to tell him all these things, wants to share those pieces of her life with him, but they belong to her. To her and Jane and the CBI. Marcus has no share in them.
The silence that falls across the room is far from comfortable.
Marcus shifts his weight from foot to foot. “I’m, uh, going to go make lunch. Do you want some?”
She nods a bit too enthusiastically, relieved at the change in topic. “Yeah, that’d be nice.”
“Okay.” He ducks out of the room, and within a matter of seconds she can hear him rummaging through their kitchen, pots and silverware clinking together.
Lisbon takes a moment to breathe, to untangle the sickening knot in her chest, before slipping her phone into her pocket and following after Marcus.
She gets the second call while she’s out running. This time it’s Fischer and the reason for her call is obvious.
“You would not believe what Jane is making us do,” she says without preamble, voice strained and tinny.
Lisbon has to hold the phone right next to her ear in order to hear the message over the sound of cars passing by on the street. She slows to a walk and begins making her way back through the neighborhood. In her ear, Fischer pulls away from the phone to talk to someone. When she returns, she sounds only marginally calmer.
“I think Jane is slowly, but surely, going off the rails. Today he told us that he needed half a million dollars, a Persian cat, and the most menacing looking notary we could find." She pauses for breath and then asks, "What does that even mean?"
The laugh falls out of Lisbon's mouth before she realizes that it's happening. She's missed the fun of Jane's antics - especially when she's not being held directly responsible for them.
There's certainly no one in the DC branch like him.
"Anyway," Fischer says, "we got him what he wanted and now he has us sitting outside some abandoned warehouse waiting for him to show up with the suspect. But it's taking him a long time, and it's starting to rain."
Just beyond her voice, Lisbon can make out the rumble of thunder. She looks around at the sunlight filtering through the crisply manicured trees, the cloudless blue sky stretching out above her, and can't help but think that she's a long way from Austin.
Fischer sighs, sounding awed and wistful. "How did you ever manage to control him? He's seriously- What?” The last part is directed at someone standing near her because she pulls away from the phone again. All Lisbon can make out is muffled swearing.
“Shit. Okay,” she says, coming back to the phone, “Cho thinks that Jane lied to us. I need to go figure this out and maybe break both of Jane’s legs in the process. Bye.”
Lisbon can feel the anxiety pushing against her lungs. She’s supposed to go save him now. And afterwards, after she’s chastised him and threatened him with bodily harm if he ever pulls a stunt like that ever again, they’ll sit on his couch and he’ll tell her facts about the world they live in. Random trivia dug out from his memory palace or secrets gleaned from the way a coworker holds their coffee mug. He’ll make an origami frog and press it into her palm, his smile sad and beautiful, and then he’ll say-
But they’re not partners now, and it’s not her job to save him anymore.
In the space just before the message ends she hears the crunch of gravel, the soft splash of a puddle, and then Cho murmurs, “Tell Lisbon to come back.”
Fischer calls again later that night, long after Lisbon and Marcus have gone to bed.
"Hey, Lisbon.” The words are hoarse and scratchy, like she’s been shouting all day. “I figured you would probably want to know that I didn’t kill Jane today. He’s fine,” she says, “although I think he may be bruised from when the suspect shoved him into that wall.” The pause goes on for so long that it sounds like Fischer’s fallen asleep.
If she weren’t so tired, she wouldn’t have said the next words at all.
“He misses you.”
When Lisbon listens to the message in the morning she has to go into the bathroom and stare at her reflection in the mirror until she wills herself not to cry.
It’s not fair. Jane had every opportunity to stop her from making this choice, to grab the sleeve of her jacket, pull her in toward him, and just tell her the truth. But he didn’t, she made her choice, and it’s far too late for his regrets now.
A knock on the door interrupts her thoughts. “Teresa? Are you okay?” Marcus’ muffled voice drifts into the bathroom and settles against the sink, staring up at her accusingly.
“Yeah...yeah, I’m fine,” she calls back. “I’ll be out in a second.” Lisbon takes a moment to pull herself back together, glances at her face in the mirror one last time, and then walks back into their room.
She has yet to receive a call from Jane.