Title: Still (with Hearts Beating)
Spoilers: AU after Black Hearts.
Word Count: 1,545
Summary: In which Lisbon moves to DC, Jane has a hard time adjusting, and everyone else makes a lot of phone calls.
Lisbon books the next possible flight to Austin and then throws a few pairs of clothes and toiletries into a bag. She feels panicked, like she’s been entirely too negligent and now something horrible has happened, which it has. It’s ridiculous and she knows it, because it’s not even her job to take care of him anymore.
She doesn’t notice, but Marcus watches her hectic packing from the couch, a frown pulling at his mouth.
“So, Austin, huh?” he says, half to himself because she’s not really listening. “What’s happening in Austin?” His only response is the dull thud of her phone charger being thrown into her bag. When she finally appears in front of him, bag in hand, her bottom lip caught between her teeth, Marcus asks the question again. “What’s happening in Austin?”
Lisbon shrugs, but the way her gaze drifts away from his belies her nonchalant gesture. “Nothing really. They just need my help with something.”
“Uh huh.” He doesn’t look convinced, his eyes narrowing as he watches her move closer to the door. “Do you know how long you’ll be gone?”
She reaches out and wraps her fingers tightly around the doorknob, needing something to hold on to. “I’m not sure yet. I’ll call you when I know more.” And then she’s gone.
The words are out of his mouth before he can stop them. “It’s Jane, isn’t it?” Because he knows. She tries to hide it from him, but he knows. So he says it again, even though the room is empty and there’s no way she can hear him. This time though, it’s not a question. “It’s Jane.”
Lisbon arrives at St. David’s Medical Center about four and a half hours later, just as the bright Texas sun is beginning to slip below the horizon. Everything up until now has been a blur, streaks of Marcus and airports and clouds flashing before her eyes. But now, exhausted and grimy, she finally feels like she can breathe a little bit.
Inside the hospital, she pushes her way through a crowd of people to find the nearest nurses' station. A harried looking woman smiles at her and then comes over. "Can I help you?"
"I need-" she stops herself, struggling for a moment with the words. The nurse watches her carefully, waiting. "Jane," Lisbon says eventually, and she sounds impossibly desperate. "Patrick Jane."
She spins around so quickly she almost hits Cho. "How is he?" she blurts out and then flushes. "I mean, hi, Cho."
He looks like he understands. “Jane’s in his room right now. They just finished pumping his stomach.”
The nurse pokes her head up from behind her desk. “The belladonna overdose patient? It’ll be a little bit before you can go back and see him. The doctors are still working on him.”
Cho nods. “Could you let us know when we can go see him?”
“Sure thing.” The nurse pauses then, tipping her head to the side. “You’re Lisbon?”
Lisbon swings around, fingers catching on the edge of the nurses’ station and holding tight. “I am,” she says, voice shaking despite her best efforts. She just knows that whatever comes next is important, life-changing even. She can tell from the way the nurse looks at her, the way she says Lisbon’s name like it might break in her mouth.
The woman fiddles with a pile of folders sitting in front of her. "He keeps talking about you," she admits softly. "You and someone named Charlotte."
She can't stop fidgeting.
It's been over an hour and they still haven't been allowed back to see Jane and the wait is driving her crazy. Cho's steady gaze hasn't wavered, but Lisbon can tell that her constant movement is annoying him.
She can't help it.
Jane is talking about her. Whether it's unconscious, drug-induced ramblings or coherent desires perfectly strung together she doesn't care. He's talking about her. And Charlotte. The implications make her chest ache.
This could be what she's wanted from him, what she would travel hundreds of miles for even after all this time.
(You're in love with him, eh?)
"I found him in the airstream." Cho's voice breaks through her reverie, calm in a deceptive way. His hands shake. "He didn't show up in the morning and at first we all thought it was some kind of protest. He's been like that recently. Boycotting certain things, refusing to talk sometimes."
She can't imagine that. Her voice comes out tilted with a laugh, despite the circumstances. In her head, Jane is a nonstop, jabbering machine, probably with the ability to continue spouting nonsense even when he becomes nothing but bone and dust. "Wow, something got him to stop talking?"
"Yeah." Cho squints at her though the horrible, fluorescent lighting. "It was you." Lisbon's stomach drops. He keeps going. "So I offered to go look for him when he still hadn't shown up after lunch and I just happened to find him in the first place I looked." He gives her a look as if to say, what are the odds?
She can't help but think that Jane would know them.
"He was lying on the floor, fully dressed, and I'm still not sure if he was actually breathing. The paramedics said I found him just in time."
Lisbon swallows around the lump in her throat. "Did you know it was belladonna?"
Cho nods. "There was a half full bag on the counter, and I've never really forgotten the smell from the last time."
She should have been there. She could have saved him. It’s ridiculous, but she can’t stop the guilt.
“Hey.” Cho’s fingers find her elbow. “You shouldn’t beat yourself up about this, all right? It was his stupid decision.”
"I know,” she says. “I know. I just feel like...I should have been there for him. We’re partners.” It’s the first time she’s admitted it out loud since she left Austin. No matter what, no matter where they go or who they’re with, they’ll always be partners. It’s not just a switch that she can turn off. She knows that now.
“Excuse me?” A nurse appears next to them. “Are you here for Patrick Jane?”
Lisbon stands up. “Yes, we are.”
The nurse nods and then gestures behind her. “You can follow me back to his room.”
They're halfway down the hallway when Lisbon turns around and realizes that Cho isn't following.
"Cho?" she calls, stopping in her tracks and glancing back at the waiting room.
He shifts around in his seat a little bit before shaking his head. "You go ahead first. It's you he'll really want to see."
Jane’s room is silent except for the occasional beeping of machines.
The nurse peeks at his sleeping form and then nods knowingly. “He might be out for a little bit longer. He’s had a rough couple of hours,” she says softly, moving back out into the hallway. “You’re welcome to stay though and see if he wakes up.”
Lisbon just nods at the woman’s retreating form, unable to speak. Jane in a hospital bed, looking small and pale and oh-so-fragile is not a sight she will ever get used to seeing. She wants the smiling, golden, self-aggrandizing pain in the ass she fell in love with instead. She wants-
She sucks in a breath and then takes a step closer to the bed, watching the steady rise and fall of Jane’s chest. “You idiot.” It’s out of her mouth and bouncing around the room before she can think to stop it. “You. Idiot.” She wants to hit something, wants to punch the wall or punch him. It’s not fair. Why do they have to be so complicated? Everything about Marcus is easy and warm and safe and why can’t she love him?
The back of her throat starts to ache in a telling way, so she tries to focus on something else that isn’t Jane.
The light in the room is overwhelming, the warm Texas sun meeting the stark whiteness of the hospital room and blinding her. Lisbon stares at it until she can’t anymore, letting the light burn itself into her eyes so that when she blinks she sees red and black spots swirling in her vision and nothing else.
She doesn’t know what she wants anymore.
“Lisbon?” Suddenly, he’s struggling on the bed, trying to kick off the sheets, his brow creased. He looks like he might cry. “Lisbon?”
She steps up next to him, fumbling for a way to stop him from moving around so much. Her hand somehow ends up in his, and he stills, thumb brushing over her knuckles. His eyes are still closed and she wonders if he was having a nightmare, if maybe he has nightmares involving her a lot.
(God knows she has plenty about him.)
Jane tugs at her hand until she practically falls on top of him. “Lisbon,” he sighs, sounding almost happy, and she’s taken back years to another hospital room in California with the whisper of please, belladonna still hanging in the air between them. His eyes open fully, seemingly more aware. “You’re not Charlotte.” The sentence sounds almost accusatory.
“No,” she says, squinting into the sunlight streaming through the window. “No, I’m not.”