Blue Birds Fly
RATING: Suitable for all.
SUMMARY: "The fear he'd spoken of on the plane, that had still lingered around the edges as he'd stood and leaned in to kiss her, had vanished. Right now she saw only calm and wonder. And love." The first few hours immediately following Blue Bird.
Blue Birds Fly
"Hey, quit that."
The words shouted from the adjoining room and the banging on the Perspex glass almost went unnoticed by Lisbon.
Because Jane was kissing her, had his lips moving softly and steadily and almost reverently against her own, and nothing in the world mattered more. Nothing. She delighted in the feel of him pressing just a little closer, answering the slide of her tongue with the barest brush of his own, and felt more treasured in those few brief moments than she ever had before.
Joy bubbled up inside her. It was heady and powerful, and when they drew apart moments later, slipping back at the exact same instant, she almost wondered if she'd open her eyes and find it was all a dream. But the feel of his warm skin beneath her hand, the light, tender touch of his fingers resting below her chin, and the familiar, unmistakable presence that was Patrick Jane were all exquisitely real.
With her face still upturned she opened her eyes slowly, wonderingly, and gently trailed her fingertips along the slightly stubbled length of his jaw. Being free to touch him at last was intoxicating.
A smile stole across her face as her gaze met his, and when his eyes dropped lower, skimmed her features from eyes to lips, she did the same, giving in to the temptation to glide her thumb across his chin while she savoured their first few precious seconds. The fear he'd spoken of on the plane, that had still lingered around the edges as he'd stood and leaned in to kiss her, had vanished. Right now she saw only calm and wonder. And love.
It left no doubt in her mind: no matter what, she would be as patient as he needed.
A calm of her own—one she hadn't experienced in a very long time—settled over her, and tension drained from her body as she finally began to relax. The last months had been hard, the last few weeks in particular, but she knew she'd go through it all again if it led to this. Hearing those words from Jane, seeing the way he was looking at her now, as though she was something entirely precious, made it all worth it.
A moment passed, and then another, and when he swayed closer, lips parted, a gentle quiver rushed through her body. Her pulse stuttered when he stopped just short, beat faster in anticipation when he hovered tantalisingly close, and of their own accord her eyelids once again began to drift shut. For several long, glorious seconds she revelled in their closeness, in their teasing, in the sheer delight of what was happening, before moving to close the last small gap between them.
But instead, she found herself biting back a groan of frustration at the sudden, unwelcome sound of the door opening.
She desperately wanted to ignore it. Jane did as well, if the conflict radiating from him was any indication. But even if she had been able to go against all her natural instincts, the not so discreet cough aimed their way was another matter entirely.
Cheeks warming, Lisbon's eyes popped open as she pulled back. The brief glimpse she caught of an equally disappointed Jane was her only consolation. Turning away, she expected to find the guard she'd passed on her way in staring at them disapprovingly, but it was Dennis Abbott who stood framed in the doorway, with the TSA Officer not far behind.
Lisbon jumped to her feet immediately, while Jane—still leaning across the table and balanced on one foot—worked his way upright more slowly. As he hopped and shuffled to face their boss, Lisbon stepped around the table to join him.
Her show of support was unconscious, but didn't go unnoticed by either man.
"Dennis," Jane acknowledged.
"Well, you both seem to be getting along much better than the last time I saw you," Abbott said, not bothering to hide his amusement.
Lisbon's cheeks flushed a deeper shade of pink. "I am so sorry about that, sir," she began, recalling her actions in the Lodge's dining room the day before with embarrassment. "I make no excuses. It was completely unprofessional of me."
Abbott waved away her concern. "Oh, I think we can overlook it, Teresa," he said, before his focus shifted and he looked pointedly at Jane. "From what I could see it was entirely deserved."
Lisbon stood in stunned silence, eyes darting back and forth between the two men, not sure how to respond to that. Whether he was right or not, she wasn't used to losing control in front of others, especially not where it concerned her private life, and she certainly wasn't used to having a superior take such an open and apparently invested interest in her personal relationship with Jane.
More than a little uncomfortable with the thought, her gaze eventually settled on the man next to her, eyes imploring, hoping he would have one of his typical—but not too outrageous—comebacks at the ready.
She waited nervously as he watched Abbott closely, as the silence stretched on, and she had the distinct impression that something unspoken passed between them. When he eventually turned to her, gave a small smile and a half-hearted shrug, his response wasn't quite what she'd expected. "I can't really argue with that now, can I?"
It was a worthy attempt, but his voice, still quiet and rough, and lacking its usual strength, was a plain reminder of how recent events had affected him. The weak smile he'd offered soon faded, and Lisbon saw traces of the regret and pain she'd witnessed only minutes earlier resurface. He was struggling to present his usual devil-may-care façade.
When Abbott spoke again, pulling all eyes away from him, she was grateful, for Jane's sake. "So, Teresa, does this mean you'll be joining us in the Austin offices again?"
Even though they weren't touching, Lisbon sensed Jane's whole body tense; without looking, she knew she was the sole focus of his attention. Though she thought her words and actions over the last few minutes spoke for themselves, he was still clearly nervous about her response.
"Is that possible, sir?" she asked hesitantly but hopefully, hardly daring to believe it could be that easy. "Because I am staying in Austin," she tacked on, entirely for Jane's benefit.
As soon as the words left her lips, Jane lowered himself to the table behind them and perched on the edge. His relief was almost palpable.
"I'm very happy to hear it. I'll make sure to get started on the paperwork today, then." With one matter satisfactorily cleared up, he turned to face the reason they were all there. There was a long, deliberate pause before he said, "Well, you certainly don't do things the easy way, do you, Jane?"
"Mm," Jane answered, turning and hitching his right hip higher onto the table and placing his clasped hands in his lap. "I'll admit I didn't handle this nearly as well as I should have."
Abbott's eyebrows rose at the understatement, but he made no comment. "TSA is not happy with you. In fact they wanted to throw the book at you."
"Wanted, sir?" Lisbon interrupted, immediately grasping onto the word.
"Still want," Abbott corrected. "But luckily we've managed to get the charges dropped."
Lisbon released a long, silent sigh of relief.
"I had to use every piece of leverage I had to make this go away, Jane. Believe me, it wasn't easy. But if you ever pull a stunt like this again, nothing I say or do will make the slightest bit of difference. Do we understand each other?"
Jane nodded, but Lisbon recognised it for the placating gesture it was. "We do."
"Okay, then." Abbott turned and nodded to the man still standing silently behind him. "Once you've signed these papers you'll be free to go."
The officer stepped forward, pen and clipboard in hand, and passed them to Jane with the same look Lisbon had seen on countless law officials over the years. With one forceful jab of his finger on the form, he said brusquely, "Sign here."
His tone drew a second look from Jane, and brought a spark of humour back into his eyes Lisbon knew all too well. She recognised it as soon as he glanced her way, was very much aware of the mischief that usually followed. Don't you dare, her look warned him, and from the way his eyes practically sparkled with amusement, it was clear he understood. For once, and to her great relief, he seemed to follow her wishes, and didn't try to antagonise the man any further. He settled for simply signing the form with a flourish.
"Thank you very much, Officer," he said. He handed it back with a smile that was a little too bright, and an attitude the man clearly thought was much too cheery and blasé under the circumstances. It was all that was needed to get under the man's skin. He took the signed form back with a scathing look that would have cowed almost any other man.
Lisbon rolled her eyes at Jane's subtle antics, and was forced to bite her lip to stop a grin. But she was so absurdly pleased to see what she considered normal Jane behaviour that it broke free, and she quickly ducked her head to hide it.
"I'm told you injured your ankle," Abbott said, ignoring the byplay, and nodding to Jane's foot dangling in mid-air.
"Eh, it's nothing," he replied.
"Really? The doctor seems to think otherwise. He said it was quite the sprain you gave yourself, wants you to stay off it for a few days at least, and definitely until the swelling goes down. So," he paused for emphasis, "that means no flying for now, just in case."
"You want me to drive us back, sir?" Lisbon asked, not relishing the prospect of such a long car journey, even if it meant time spent with Jane.
"Oh, I don't think that will be necessary. We'll be able to do without you both for the time being. Jane's on leave for the next few days at least, and I'll need time to get your paperwork through. I think it would be easier all round if you stay here and come back in a few days when Jane's fit to fly."
The unexpected opportunity of a few days' vacation in Miami, with Jane, was more than Lisbon could have hoped for. She struggled not to appear too enthusiastic. "Yes, sir."
"Mm, sounds good to me," Jane agreed.
"Okay," Abbott said, satisfied. "Well, let me know in a few days when you think you'll be back, and I'll see you both then." He bent to retrieve the briefcase by his feet before continuing. "Right now, though, I have a flight to catch." Abbott spared them one last knowing look, one that brought a fresh tinge of pink to Lisbon's cheeks, before turning and heading out the door. "Oh, and Jane's stuff is still at the Blue Bird," he called over his shoulder. "Cho left the bag with reception."
After directing one final glare Jane's way, the still disgruntled officer followed in Abbott's wake. It wasn't long before the sound of their footsteps disappeared and a door along the corridor was heard closing. Quiet settled over the room.
Suddenly, Lisbon felt exhausted. The emotional upheaval and the sleepless night in the airport were finally catching up with her. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, felt the exhale come out on a tremble when Jane's fingers gently skimmed her elbow. She leaned into the touch ever so slightly before turning to face him.
"You're really staying," he practically whispered, with almost that same look of wonder as earlier.
Lisbon wasn't sure if his words were meant as a question or a statement, but she responded anyway. "Yeah." She smiled shakily. "I'm staying."
Jane's answering smile—while still watery—was as wide and as bright as she'd ever seen, and caused a quiet burst of laughter to escape her unexpectedly. Each note of happiness and relief and bone-weary fatigue rang through the room, until they faded away to a quiet hum of approval. Jane's fingers were trailing ever so slowly from her elbow to her hand, and when they finally, lightly clasped hers, she shivered. A memory from years ago, of them sitting on the edge of an abandoned town on the desert sand, surrounded by tumbleweeds and chaos, suddenly came to mind.
Jane looked as exhausted now as he had then.
Lisbon squeezed his fingers before reluctantly letting go. "Come on," she said. "You really need to rest."
"Aw, do I look that bad, Lisbon?"
"If by bad you mean ready to collapse, then yes," she said bluntly, coaxing an appreciative grin from him as she stepped around the chair he'd been sitting on. With his eyes following her every move, she picked up his discarded shoe before collecting her jacket and bag, and was back by his side within seconds. Jane slid the footwear from her grasp and rose to balance on one foot, waiting until she'd slipped the bag strap over her head and settled it across her body. With her jacket draped over the bag, both hands were soon free to help and support him.
When she looked up he was smiling softly. "You ready?" she asked, stepping into his personal space with absolutely no hesitation.
"Mm, very much so."
"Come on, then," she murmured. "Let's get out of here." In one easy move, her left arm slipped under his suit jacket and wrapped around his waist as his arm came up to settle across her shoulder. Lisbon focussed on their movements, on slowly but surely making their way from the room and along the passage together—not on how solid and warm and wonderful he felt next to her. But when she felt him place a gentle kiss on her head, heard his muffled thank you against her hair, she held on a little tighter, and just for a moment, let herself lean into him.
The door just ahead of them opened then, and the same TSA Officer walked through. Lisbon suspected Jane's gentle squeeze of her shoulder was meant as reassurance, and sure enough, when they passed the man and stepped into a public part of the airport, he didn't say a word.
The TSA Officer, however, wasn't so considerate. "So, you're the woman in 12B."
Author's Note: This was supposed to be a two-part story, but I'm struggling to get the second chapter finished. I'm still hoping I'll get it completed sooner rather than later, so please check back.