Title: Still (with Hearts Beating)
Spoilers: AU after Black Hearts.
Word Count: 1,616
Summary: In which Lisbon moves to DC, Jane has a hard time adjusting, and everyone else makes a lot of phone calls.
She’s in California.
The forest stretches around her, too green and quiet, broken only by the twisting yellow tape and the soft mutterings of the crime scene techs as they go about their work. A sudden breeze picks up, ruffling Lisbon’s hair and sending a few loose leaves twirling through the air.
Something feels out of place, but she can’t quite put her finger on it.
Lisbon ducks under the tape, careful not to step in the large pool of blood covering the dusty ground, and then turns to Jane. “Something’s not right here.”
He grins, his smile blinding and his eyes the color of the sky that’s barely visible through all the tree branches. “Maybe it’s the dead body at your feet,” he suggests, amusement evident in every line of his face.
She shakes her head. “No, that’s not it.”
Somewhere behind her, a phone starts to ring. The sound is distant, hardly there, but just loud enough to be distracting. She spins around to see where the noise is coming from, but nobody else nearby seems concerned by the intrusive ringing. When she turns back, Jane is staring at her.
“I miss you,” he says, which is strange given that they’re standing less than five feet from one another. She’s just about to point that out to him when he takes a step closer to her and then reaches behind her ear. A phone appears in his hand, and he presents it to her with a flourish. It’s ringing louder now and she wants to chuck it, to throw it into the deep green forest and forget about it. (She has a weird feeling that whatever is on the other end of the phone will drag her away from all of this.)
Jane opens his mouth. “Wake up, honey.”
Lisbon jerks awake so quickly that she almost hits Marcus in the face as he’s leaning over her.
“Woah,” he says, laughing, “I didn’t think you’d be that excited to get up.”
She squints at him through the dim light of their bedroom. "What?" The clock on the dresser reads three o'clock, and it is far, far too early for this crap. She just wants to go back to sleep.
Marcus still looks amused, as though a half-awake, thoroughly annoyed Lisbon is unbearably adorable to him. "My phone," he explains. "Didn't you hear it go off earlier? We got called in. Something about a potential gang shooting."
"Oh," she says, disappointed. She wants to go back to her dream, to the crime scene in the California forest with Jane at her side.
Marcus' brow furrows. "Are you okay, Teresa? Did you have a bad dream?" He reaches for her, brushing a few strands of hair behind her ear.
She nods, horribly unconvincing. "That's what it was," she says, "a bad dream." Lisbon pushes the bedcovers away, trying to forget dream Jane and the sunshine streaking through his hair. "Just a bad dream."
Marcus kisses her. "Well, it's all okay now, I promise." He draws an x over his heart like a small child and she can't help but smile at the gesture. (Here is a man she can trust. A man who doesn't lie or con or cheat. An honest man.) He straightens up then, stretching his arms above his head. "Let's go save the world."
She and Marcus are in the middle of tracking down a promising witness to the gang shooting when Abbott calls. Lisbon doesn't answer, but she pulls out her phone and looks at the screen, wondering if her former boss is calling to talk about Jane.
Those are the only phone calls she seems to get anymore.
After a second of staring at the area code and thinking about Austin and expansive blue skies and people that she didn’t want to leave behind, Lisbon slides her phone back into her pocket. Marcus glances over as he pulls the car into a parking lot. “Who was that?”
“Abbott,” she says, shifting in her seat to look out the window and up at the sky. Buildings cut jagged lines across the horizon, slicing clouds in half and making it impossible to see much of anything.
“I wonder what he wants,” Marcus muses.
Lisbon shrugs, not taking her eyes off the grey sky overhead. She’s pretty sure she knows exactly what Abbott wants, but there’s no way she can explain it to Marcus without ruining everything.
“Maybe you left something in your desk. Or forgot to turn in some paperwork. Or maybe he’s desperately in love with you and is just now realizing how much he misses you.” Laughter colors his tone, but she doesn’t join in on the joke. Her chest tightens in an aching way that she’s almost gotten used to at the word love.
“Yeah, maybe,” she says absently.
When she finally does listen to Abbott's message it’s late at night and their lead has fallen through, so she can’t tell if the tiredness in Abbott’s voice is actually there or if she’s projecting.
“Hi, Lisbon. I was just calling to check in with you, to see how you’re settling into D.C.” He must still be at his desk, because she can hear the shuffle of papers and the soft sound of a drawer being closed. "I heard you guys caught a pretty big gang case. No doubt you'll solve it soon too; you've got a great team behind you," he pauses, mulling over the words. "We got an important case last week. There's a senator involved, some potential terrorism. It's a real mess and Jane-"
Her heart stutters in her chest and why, after all this time, does his name still do that to her?
"Well, Jane's just not really a team player, is he?" Abbott asks, the question clearly rhetorical. It would take five minutes with Jane for anyone to realize he's not a team player when he doesn't want to be. (Except when the team is like family to him. Except when it was him and her and Cho and Rigsby and Van Pelt.)
"I probably shouldn't be surprised," Abbott says, and then, "Listen, I don't know if you two still communicate, but maybe you should call him and just...talk."
Lisbon doesn’t listen to the rest of the message.
Marcus looks at her from across his desk, eyebrows raised as she puts her cellphone down.
“Just listening to Abbott’s message,” she says by way of explanation, sliding her phone out of reach so that she won’t be tempted to continue listening.
“Oh.” He leans back in his chair, sticking his pen behind his ear and then smiling tiredly at her. “I thought maybe it was a new lead.” When she shakes her head he shrugs. “Oh well. So, was there a tragic love story behind his call? Did he pour his heart out to you? How about-”
“No,” she says, so firmly that for a moment he looks hurt. But she has a headache and this has been the longest and most unsuccessful day ever and if he makes one more crack about secret love she might finally have a breakdown. “He just-” Her voice softens. “He just wanted to call and check up on me.”
Marcus starts to respond, but she doesn't hear a word he says. Instead, she's thinking of Abbott's message, can still hear him saying just talk over and over again inside her head. It would be so easy to call Jane and tell him that she wasn't doing it for herself, but by Abbott's request. That Abbott was at the end of his rope and calling in Lisbon was the last available option.
It would be so easy.
(It would also be a lie.)
They're sitting in interrogation, trying to get a young gang member to flip on his pals, when Lisbon's phone starts buzzing violently in her pocket. Marcus shoots her a look that clearly says not now, and when she glances across at the gang member he looks more and more withdrawn by the second, his face shuttered.
They need this lead.
She ignores her phone.
Marcus nods once, and then turns his attention back to their interrogation. "C'mon, Shorty," he says, cajoling, "you're the low man on the totem pole. You really think those guys respect you?" He stops to shake his head. "But me? I'm talking to you man to man because I know that you know the difference between right and wrong. And that shooting? That was wrong."
Shorty slumps down further in his chair. "Man, don't you think-"
Lisbon's phone goes off again.
Marcus' brows knit together. "Lisbon..."
"Sorry, sorry," she murmurs, pulling out her phone. It's Cho. "I need to take this." She pushes her chair back from the table and walks out of the room, phone already pressed to her ear. Marcus throws up his hands and Shorty nods knowingly at him.
"Women and their phones, am I right?"
"Shut up, Shorty."
The door swings shut, blocking out the rest of their conversation. Lisbon rolls her eyes. "Hello?"
She sighs. "This is really not a good time, Cho. I was in interrogation."
"I'm sorry," he says, voice tight, and really, that should be her first clue. "But it's about Jane."
She curls her fingers into a fist, letting her nails bite into her palm. This needs to stop. Otherwise, she’ll never be able to let him go. "Listen, I know you guys want me to talk to him and that you're concerned about how he's handling all of this, but I have to let-"
Cho clears his throat. "Boss, you don't understand. Something happened."
Her stomach drops. "What?" she manages to croak out.