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Fic: For the Living [The Mentalist]

Title: For the Living
Summary: Jane receives an unexpected visitor at the office.
Rating: T
Characters: Jane, Lisbon




They were trying to discuss theories on a new case, the Serious Crimes team sat around the conference table in the CBI Sacramento office. But Lisbon's attempts to keep them on track and Cho's dull intoning of the police report were thwarted by Jane's insistence that he knew who the killer was just by the type of shoe prints left at the crime scene. A disbelieving assertion from Van Pelt resulted in a long, detailed explanation from Jane about the link between uncomfortable footwear and the propensity to commit murder.

"Can we get back to the Jones case?" Lisbon asked, growing impatient.

But now Rigsby and Cho were joining the debate, and Jane just sat back in his chair with a grin at the ensuing argument between the agents.

"Jane, for God's sake, tell them you made it up," Lisbon implored when none of them would concede the other's point of view.

When he didn't respond Lisbon saw that his attention was elsewhere. Jane was staring wide-eyed at the upper floor of the office where a gray-haired man was talking to another agent. Lisbon followed his gaze but she didn't recognize the man. When she looked back to query Jane about it his seat was empty – he was walking swiftly towards the office exit without a word.

"What's that about?" asked Cho, his argument with Rigsby forgotten.

"I have no idea, but I think I'll go find out," Lisbon replied, still looking after Jane. She made her way up the stairs where the man was waiting.

"I was just calling Mr. Jane, he has a visitor," said a junior agent when Lisbon approached.

"I'll take it from here," she replied before turning on the visitor. "I'm Agent Lisbon."

The man shook her outstretched hand. "Frank Lassiter."

"Can I help you, Mr. Lassiter?"

"I'm here to see Patrick Jane," he said, glancing around uncomfortably. "I understand he works here."

"Can I ask what it's in relation to?"

"It's personal." Lassiter's stern gaze faltered slightly when Lisbon failed to react. His voice became less hard. "I'm his father-in-law. Or used to be."

Lisbon's face remained composed at the news, though she felt surprise. She had never met any of Jane's family, or more precisely, his wife's. She didn't even know he had any contact with them. And judging from Jane's reaction, Lisbon guessed he wasn't looking forward to the reunion.

"Would you like to come with me?" she said gently.

Downstairs, the rest of the team were watching their interaction closely.

"Do you think he's in trouble?" mused Rigsby.

"Guy doesn't look like CBI. Or a lawyer," said Cho.

"Maybe he's the complainant. Jane has a knack for pissing people off."

"Why don't we just ask Jane?" said Van Pelt, glancing in the direction in which he made his swift exit.

"Did it look like he wanted to talk to you?" Cho countered.

"We can't just leave him on his own," she argued. "He looked upset."

Rigsby's dark eyes met hers. "All the more reason to lay off. It's Jane."

"You don't think we should make sure he's okay?" Van Pelt said, undeterred and a little put out by the lack of concern for their colleague.

"I think he'd prefer to be left alone."

"Well, I think you're wrong," she said.

Cho shook his head and went back to concentrating on his notes. Rigsby tried to catch Van Pelt's attention but she was watching Lisbon leading the visitor downstairs to one of the interview rooms. Within a minute she reappeared, and all eyes were on her.

"Someone get me two cups of coffee while one of you finds Jane. Get him back here," she said.

"Two coffees coming up, boss," Rigsby replied, quickly getting to his feet so he didn't have to perform the second task. He disappeared into the kitchen, avoiding Van Pelt's narrow-eyed glare.

Lisbon waited but neither Cho nor Van Pelt got up to find Jane. She gave them an exasperated look as they stared silently at one another, like they were playing telepathic rock, paper, scissors. Van Pelt eventually rolled her eyes and stood up.

"I'll go," she said.

"Thank you," Lisbon replied.

Cho looked pleased with himself as he went back to work, and Lisbon didn't blame him. She went back into the interview from where Jane's father-in-law was sitting taking in his surroundings.

"I thought you might like some coffee," she said with a smile. "Someone from the team is going to see if he's available. Won't be long."

"You mean he heard I was here and took off," Lassiter said with a derisive snort. "Typical Patrick. Never could face up to me for what he did."

Lisbon frowned as she took a seat opposite him "You blame him for the murder of your daughter and granddaughter?"

Emotion flooded the man's face. "Was it his fault? No. I know that monster did it. But Patrick never did know when to shut his mouth. He goaded him, calling him those names on TV. He should have known. He should have been there to protect them."

"What is it you want here, Mr. Lassiter?" Lisbon asked. She knew Jane blamed himself for Red John's crimes against his family but it was more difficult to accept hearing it from someone else. She couldn't help feeling protective of him.

"This weekend is my daughter's birthday," Lassiter said, forcing himself to be calm. "Every year we still celebrate it, my family. Every year we invite Patrick but he never shows. My wife wants him there, says it's only right. And every year I see her disappointment. It's about time he had the courage to face us."

"Surely you can understand why that might be difficult for Ja- Patrick. He lost everything when... when it happened."

Lassiter's expression softened further. "So did we. And we lost him too. Patrick hasn't even spoken to us since they were killed. We never had a chance to talk to him about it. He just shut down. He was part of our family for ten years – he was like a son to my wife and me. And then nothing. No apology, no explanation. No acknowledgment of our grief – only his."

"Mr. Lassiter, I don't know how much you know about what Jane went through after the murders..." Lisbon replied, choosing her words carefully to protect his privacy.

"I know about the breakdown, Agent Lisbon. I understand that it nearly destroyed him. Trust me, I know. But he owes us this."

Lisbon said nothing more as Rigsby knocked on the door and brought in the coffee.

0 0 0 0

Van Pelt scoured the exterior of the CBI building, noting Jane's car was still in its usual spot. Then she heard the sound of a basketball hitting the asphalt. She rounded the back of the car park to the space where a hoop had been erected – a place for the agents to let off some steam. Jane was dribbling the ball contemplatively, then sunk it gracefully. He collected the ball and circled the hoop again before taking another successful shot. Van Pelt watched him from the sidelines for a while, waiting, but he chose to ignore her.

"Who is he?" she asked finally, after Jane missed a particularly difficult shot.

Jane bounced the basketball in a perfect, almost hypnotic rhythm. He let the ball go as he replied, "Someone from my past." He made the shot.

"Family? Friend?" she prompted.

"Neither."

"Whoever he is, you seem intent on avoiding him."

Jane's eyes crinkled in a smile. "You have keen powers of observation, Agent Van Pelt."

She crossed her arms and offered him a small smile in return. "I suppose you don't want to talk about it either."

He gathered the ball and stopped his movements long enough to look deep into her eyes. "Really, your astuteness is astounding."

"You'd rather shoot hoops," she said.

"Why not? It's a beautiful day. Fresh air, a little exercise. I can think of worse ways of spending my time. Oh, yes!" The basketball swooped cleanly through the hoop from twenty feet away.

"Okay." Van Pelt held out her hands for the ball.

"You gonna play me?" Jane asked, amused.

"Why not? First to eleven?"

"Better make it five."

"You think I can't take you?"

Jane grinned. "I think judging from your height and the athletic sensibilities of your family you may have some chops. But you're a girl."

She scoffed in response. "Let's make it worth our while, then. If I win you tell me who the guy is and why you don't want to talk to him."

"And if I win?"

"Name it," Van Pelt said with a shrug, not breaking her competitive stare.

Jane thought for a moment then smiled. "You have to ask Rigsby out to dinner."

"Oh no. That's hardly a comparable penalty," she said hastily, her cheeks coloring.

"You're right – for you it's win/win. Scared?" He dribbled the ball mockingly.

Van Pelt slid her holster around to the small of her back and demanded the ball.

"Bring it on, Jane," she growled.

0 0 0 0

When Jane and Van Pelt arrived back in the office they were both a little out of breath. She tucked back the strands of hair that had come loose from her ponytail while Jane rebuttoned his vest. Rigsby's eyes were like saucers when he saw them, his temper mounted to the point where he was about to ask what the hell they had been up to, when Van Pelt walked over to his desk and asked if he wanted to get some dinner later.

"My treat," she murmured, sounding annoyed.

Rigsby stammered in response and accepted the invitation, while Jane smiled to himself. Van Pelt had already moved back to her desk and was glowering darkly at him as Jane flopped onto the couch.

His eyes had barely closed before Lisbon was at his side.

"You're back," she said.

"I didn't leave."

"Neither has your father-in-law."

The rest of the team all looked at him after the announcement, Van Pelt especially sympathetic. Jane opened his eyes.

"You should talk to him," said Lisbon gently.

"Why would I want to do that?"

"Because it's the right thing to do."

Jane stared up at her, looking small and, if she wasn't mistaken, scared. She held his gaze as she reached out a hand to help him up. She let it go once he was upright.

"He's in there," she murmured, nodding towards the interview room.

Jane's expression was reluctant, but with all eyes on him he took a deep breath and walked towards the door. He paused only briefly before going inside.

The light was dim inside the room, the shades all drawn. Jane's father-in-law stood up and they stared at each other for a long moment.

"Patrick."

"Frank."

"You look well," Lassiter said, his voice gruff. "A little thin, maybe."

Jane smiled but it did not reach his eyes. "How's Maureen?"

"How do you think?"

Jane glanced away.

Lassiter cleared his throat, regretting his harsh tone. He sat down wearily in his seat and waited for Jane to do the same.

"It's her birthday this weekend," he said, trying again.

Jane blinked. "I know."

"We're having a dinner at the house. Maureen would like it if you came."

"I know. But I can't."

"Why not?"

Jane didn't answer.

"I know it's hard for you. But she was our little girl," Lassiter's voice cracked slightly. "We know as well as you what it's like to lose a daughter. She was our pride and joy. And when my little girl's beautiful baby was born..."

Lassiter choked on his words and couldn't continue for a moment, while Jane stared blankly at the wall.

"We know how much it hurts," Lassiter said once he'd composed himself. "But we choose to celebrate their lives. To be thankful for them. And you should be part of that."

Jane's eyes flickered to his father-in-law, his voice barely audible. "I can't do it, Frank. I have to make my peace with it another way."

Lassiter frowned. "You mean you're still hunting the son of a bitch who did this?"

"Yes."

"And when does it stop, Patrick?"

Jane's expression was impenetrable. "When Red John is caught and I've killed him."

"And then what?" Lassiter threw up his hands. "You spend the rest of your life in jail? Or you get locked up in some loony bin again?"

"It doesn't matter. All that matters is that he will have paid for what he did."

"The rest is your punishment, is that it?"

Jane looked down at the table.

"You… You're an idiot, you know that? An egotistical, self-centered, self-pitying idiot. Do you really think that's what my girl would have wanted? To see you like this? Well, listen here, boy-o. I knew her a lot longer than you did and I loved her too. She never would have wanted this."

Jane's fist came down heavily on the wooden tabletop. "What do you want from me?" he asked in a low, deadly tone.

"I want you to face up to what happened. What you did. I want you to start putting it right."

"What do you think I'm trying to do?" Jane bit back.

"Not by killing that lunatic. By accepting that you can't change what happened. By sharing your grief with her family – your family. By not shutting us out of your life. You owe it to her, and you owe it to us."

Jane just sat there, simmering with anger.

Lassiter's own ire drained from his face. "You have to forgive yourself, Patrick. You have to let us forgive you too. Help us ease our pain."

"I don't know how to do that," Jane murmured after only silence.

Lassiter let out a soft sigh. "Come to the house this weekend. Just be with us."

There was no response once more. He gave up expecting one when Jane finally whispered, "I'll try."

"Thank you."

Both men stood and Lassiter walked slowly to the door. Jane didn't move, even when his father-in-law stopped in front of him and put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed tightly. Jane could barely look at him.

Once Lassiter was gone, he stayed in the interview room for some time. He knew they'd be waiting outside, wanting to know what happened. He knew they meant well but he didn't want to talk to any of them. Jane just wanted to stay there in the quiet. But eventually he heard the door open and Lisbon stepped inside the room and pressed it closed behind her.

"You okay?"

Jane smiled to himself; he knew it would be Lisbon who broke ranks first to check on him. "Ah, I don't think so. No."

"Are you gonna go see them?"

He shrugged slightly.

"It's probably time, don't you think?" Lisbon said.

"I don't know if I'll ever be ready for that. I guess I'm a coward on top of everything else," Jane replied.

Lisbon leaned against the back of the door, not wanting to encroach upon his personal space any more than she already was. "I don't think you're a coward. I think it'll be hard, and maybe it won't bring you any comfort. But it will for them. And I think that would make your wife happy."

"My wife's dead, Lisbon," Jane said, his voice hard. "She can't feel happiness… or anger, or betrayal, or loss."

"And you're not the only one who can," she countered. "You should be with them. Help them get through it. And maybe, just maybe, it might help you too."

Jane looked up at her like he didn't believe her, but Lisbon's sermon was over. She smiled faintly.

"Come on, we've got work to do."

Jane waited until she was gone before getting up to follow her. He hoped more than anything that Lisbon was right.

FIN

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
pensive1
Jan. 24th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
Seeing Jane's in-laws is something I'd really love to see in the show. This fic was sad :(
broedym
Jan. 24th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
I really hope they go there too... so much rich character detail to reveal. I don't imagine it would be much happier though. *Pets Jane*
angstbunny
Jan. 24th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
This was fantastic. The show has left a lot of GAPING HOLES, and I really love that you have filled some of them with this fic. That Jane's wife also have a family, who loved her, who misses her. I like that it's father to father, husband to husband. I like that Frank isn't all-forgiving, all-sympathetic. He holds some degree of resentment toward Jane, which is very human, but at the same time, he wants Jane to come home, in a sense, to grief WITH them, because grief shared is grief halved. Except Jane, typical, won't have none of it.

a long, detailed explanation from Jane about the link between uncomfortable footwear and the propensity to commit murder.

I love this line, 'cause it's SO something Jane would do. Stir stuff up, sit back, watch and be entertained.

I really like the characterization of Van Pelt. It's very true to her. Wanting to go after Jane, because she's a softie like that, while the guys only wanna back off.

She gave them an exasperated look as they stared silently at one another, like they were playing telepathic rock, paper, scissors.

LOVE this line. Telepathic rock, paper, and scissors. Awesome.

The basketball scene is so great. The deflection, the push-pull, the gentle goading. It's very much like how they are on the show.

And then the conversation between Jane and Frank. All the things Frank says that Jane needs to hear, that he won't get to hear except from somebody like that. Really good use of an OC.

"My wife's dead, Lisbon," Jane said, his voice hard. "She can't feel happiness… or anger, or betrayal, or loss."

Oh, Patrick. But very definitely a Jane thing to say. Ouch.

And it's great to have the hopeful note at the end. "For the Living," Jane has to realize that, and hopefully, he will.
broedym
Jan. 24th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
Guh, thank you! You managed to pick all of my favourite bits of the story so I am full of childish glee. [Jane/Van Pelt FTW!]

But seriously, given that "Four Lists" would have to be the most awesome Mentalist fic I've read, I really appreciate the feedback.
afteriwake
Feb. 20th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
Wow. This was really good. I loved it so much.
broedym
Feb. 20th, 2009 09:50 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )