Title: Still (with Hearts Beating)
Spoilers: AU after Black Hearts.
Word Count: 1,560
Summary: In which Lisbon moves to DC, Jane has a hard time adjusting, and everyone else makes a lot of phone calls.
It's fairly easy for Jane to fake his way through the first few days after Lisbon leaves for DC and a happy life with Marcus freaking Pike. He tells himself it’s just like all the other times she left town to solve a case without him, all the other times he was stuck on his couch without being able to stare at her and memorize the curve of her mouth or the fall of her hair.
He makes up the details of Lisbon’s pretend case. Sometimes the victim is a foreign dignitary visiting the US to set up some contracts with a few big time companies, other times, it’s a political rally gone wrong, ending in a multitude of casualties. Either way, the case is incredibly important and the FBI needs only their best agents on board. When that thought isn’t enough, Jane imagines her interviewing senators or news anchors or CEOs, imagines her calling him for any insight he might be able to give.
Detail by detail, he painstakingly constructs a new world for himself to live in, a world where Lisbon will be back in Austin just as soon as she catches a murderous criminal.
The day Jane figures out the killer and the motive is the same day he makes himself tea for the first time in a week.
Lisbon will be back soon.
It's a sure thing that plants itself in his chest, and he knows it like he knows the sky is blue. She'll be back soon and they'll solve crimes together and she'll laugh at his jokes-
Despite Cho's practiced deadpan, Jane can still detect a note of surprise. He turns away from the sink to find Cho staring at him like maybe they've never really known each other all this time.
“You’re whistling and you’re making yourself a cup of tea.”
Jane stares back at him. “Did I miss something?” he asks, balancing the steaming cup between his fingers and dunking the tea bag one last time.
“I just thought-” Cho starts but then stops, shaking his head. “You might want to avoid the bullpen for a while,” he says instead, before turning on his heel and disappearing around the corner.
Jane watches him leave. “Not in a good mood today then,” he murmurs absently, filing the fact away so that he’ll remember to shift his more ridiculous antics onto Fischer for the day and give Cho some space. He throws his teabag away and then wanders over toward his couch, stopping first by Wiley’s desk when the young man gives him a careful smile. “What’s wrong with the bullpen?”
Wiley’s eyes go a little wide, but his smile stays in place. “N-nothing. Why?”
Jane frowns at his panicked tone. “Cho told me to stay away from it, but,” he pauses to gesture with his teacup at the room around them, “there’s nothing happening. So what’s the big deal?”
He doesn’t like the way Wiley’s gaze slides away from his, drifting past him and focusing on...something else.
“Hey man, can I move this desk a little to the right?” The voice comes from behind Jane, and for some reason it makes Wiley’s face fall. “It’s just that there’s a whole lot of sun on it, and I’d really work better in a less blinding environment, you know?”
Jane turns around and there’s a man. There’s a man at Lisbon’s desk talking about moving it. Part of his brain shuts down because this cannot be happening right now. “What are you doing?” he asks, dimly aware of how choked his voice sounds, like he’s being strangled, like he can’t breathe at all.
The man takes a few steps forward, hand outstretched. “I’m the new hire,” he says, “James Shaw.”
Jane ignores his hand. “You can’t have that desk.”
Shaw looks around the room, brows scrunched together. “But it’s the only one available.”
“It’s not available.”
Now Shaw looks completely baffled and Jane can’t help but think how badly he’d like to punch the look off his face. The violent impulse coils in his stomach, fighting with his dizzying urge to throw up. Shaw can’t take Lisbon’s desk because she’s going to be back soon and it would be rude to just give her desk away to some idiot newbie and he misses her so much.
Suddenly it doesn’t matter that the CEO of West Iron killed a foreign dignitary to cover up his massive Ponzi scheme or that an angry father set off a pipe bomb at a GOP rally because the senator slept with his daughter. It doesn’t matter that Jane solved Lisbon’s case because it’s not real. She’s not coming back.
Something burns its way across both his ankles, a stinging heat that catches on his socks and slips into his shoes. When he looks down he realizes that he’s no longer holding his teacup. Instead, it lies in pieces on the floor in front of him (and he can’t help but feel like he’s been here before; this has happened before).
Before Wiley or Shaw can say anything, Jane’s halfway to the elevator.
He doesn’t like the FBI anymore, finds himself hating the cases and the people more and more with each passing day. And this James Shaw who wants to change everything around and move Lisbon’s desk, well, he’s just bad news.
A day off. He needs a day off. And maybe, Jane thinks to himself childishly, maybe he’ll make himself disappear and never come back.
A disappearing act is easy to talk about, but a fair bit harder to actually execute, so Jane settles for drinking.
He walks into the first bar he finds, settles himself on a bar stool, and just starts drinking. It’s simple, and he revels in the lack of complexity. His entire life is a mess of cons, duplicities, half-truths, and outright lies. Even his relationship with Lisbon is complicated by the fact that they are partners and friends and maybe just a little bit more. But this - he swirls his tumbler around, watching the remains of amber liquid track along the bottom of the glass - this is easy.
He knocks the rest of his drink back and then raises a finger, silently requesting another from the bartender.
It isn’t until several hours and far too many drinks later that Cho finds him, still on the same stool, his fingers clutched around a half-empty glass. Jane squints at him through the dim lighting of the bar. “You found me,” he says, the words slurring and bumping into one another.
Cho rolls his eyes, sliding onto the stool next to him. “Yeah, it wasn’t that hard. Especially since there are people standing outside talking about how this crazy drunk guy thinks he can read minds.”
Jane shakes his head. “It was a…” he trails off, not sure of his line of thought. “A case of mistaken identity!” It’s not what he means to say, but everything feels kind of fuzzy and far away, and it’s easier for him to babble nonsense right now. He swallows around the stale taste of his own tongue. “The butler did it.”
Cho doesn’t say anything, but part of Jane wants him to, wants him to tease and mock and maybe even yell. He just wants someone to yell. Instead Cho stays silent, staring at the back of the bar but not quite seeing it. When he finally does speak his voice is steady, but unmistakably sad. "I told you to stay away from the bullpen."
A sharp pain punches through the numbness in his chest. “Didn’t listen,” Jane says forlornly, leaning forward until his forehead presses against the cool wood of the bar. He tries to breathe around the pain and distract himself from it by reciting pi as far as he can remember.
He makes it to the decimal point and can’t continue any further.
The room in his memory palace is foggy and weirdly unfamiliar. He can just barely make out a few names of constellations stretched out across the wall and random lines from Shakespeare scattered across the floor. The one thing that remains clear, however, is that all of this is his fault.
His next breath sounds too close to a sob. “I miss her.” He’s not sure if he says it out loud until he hears Cho shift in his seat and then murmur, “I know.”
Later, after Cho shoves him into a car and then drops him off in front of the airstream, Jane lies on his bed, staring up at the ceiling.
When the small space finally stops spinning around him, he realizes that he’s clutching his phone in one hand, Lisbon’s number half dialed. He should call her. He should call her and explain that he’s been an ass. That he messed up and that he regrets every decision he made or didn’t make.
His mouth feels like someone shoved a handful of cotton into it and he already knows that he’s not going to call her.
She deserves Pike after everything she’s been through and he’d be incredibly selfish to take that away from her. Scowling, Jane throws his phone across the airstream, listening to the dull thud it makes when it hits the back of the driver’s seat.
He’s not going to call her.