He took off his jacket and laid it across the faded and worn brown leather of his couch and sighed. It had been a hard case. They had gone deep undercover in order to fish out an embezzling CEO of a medical firm who was taking kickbacks to place wealthy patients first on donor lists. They had just attended a party in which the CEO was getting an award, setting him up when they had Cho pull him aside and offer him a substantial amount to place him up on the list for a new heart. It had worked well, and the day was done, but everyone was tired and a bit disgusted at how low the people who are paid to protect and serve and save lives could go to make a profit. Jane, for one, was just glad to have the scumbag somewhere where he couldn’t kill innocent, sick people anymore.
He had insisted on wearing his signature vest because he thought it made him look sophisticated and wealthy; like he blew his nose with one-hundred dollar bills. He didn’t really wear them anymore because he felt that was a phase in his life that he had abandoned. He didn’t need to wear it anymore. What it had meant to him all that time didn’t make who he was now. There was something peaceful to his life, now. The vests signified the way his life used to be…the manipulations and tricks, the hiding of his heart…all of it. At least, in his own mind it did. Outwardly, the clothes he wore even now really didn’t shape who he was. Island shirts, blazers and slacks were just what he felt comfortable wearing. It didn’t signify him in any particular category when he wore them. He supposed the vests, even if he were to wear them again, would just be articles of clothing to him, now. They wouldn’t label him as they once had. But he hadn’t bothered to think about the vests. Not since he ditched them in Venezuela and took on what he was wearing now. In this new life of his, with the woman he loved beside him, his clothing was just that: clothing.
"What a day," Lisbon said from somewhere behind him. "One less sicko in the world."
Jane turned to her and smiled. She was still in the tight red dress that he had insisted she wear. She was the patsy of the operation, and she was in charge of luring the good Doctor into meeting with Cho. The red dress wasn’t just for the sting, though. There was something about seeing Teresa Lisbon in dresses that made his heart thump under his breastbone. He saw that she had taken off her matching red pumps, and was reaching up to take off the dangling earrings and throw them on her desk. He watched the dress conform to her curves as she bent down to pick up the pumps and place them on her swivel chair in front of her.
"You were great in there, Teresa," he told her, walking over and moving her hair to one side and helping her remove the large necklace from around her neck. "You’re getting better at baiting people. Soon, you will give even me a run for my money."
His fingers brushed the back of her neck as he unclasped the necklace and placed it on her desk with her earrings. Lisbon reached over, opened her desk drawer, and pulled out her cross necklace. Jane took it from her and clasped it around her neck. He moved her hair back into position around her shoulders and she turned back to face him again.
"I’ll never be as good as you, Jane," she smiled tiredly. "I’m just glad the plan worked. Abbott nearly blew it when his badge fell out of his suit pocket. Good thing Vega scooped it up before anyone saw it."
Jane nodded his head and reached his fingers up to unbutton his vest. The powder-blue shirt underneath was soaked in sweat, and the vest wasn’t helping. It was hot and retained heat against his body. Jane looked down to undo the first button when he caught her shadow move directly in front of him.
"What?" he asked, looking down to see if there was a sweat stain or a stain from the closed-case pizza they’d had earlier. "Is there melted cheese on it or something?"
She shook her head and raised her eyebrows at him. He had seen that look before. It was the same look she had given him when she had asked for him to tell her he loved her again back in Florida. He looked up and saw that her bottom lip was trapped in between her teeth, her eyes taking in his chest. He had seen this look many, many times in the bedroom when she was on the edge of the cliff ready to crash to the ground when they were making love. Patrick Jane knew desire flashing in her green eyes when he saw it. It was like lightning cracking behind her pupils.
"It’s just…" she trailed off. "I haven’t seen you in a vest in over two years. I kind of miss it."
He hadn’t really given much thought to the fact that Lisbon hadn’t seen him in a vest in that long. Not since he left her after killing Red John. When he had come back from Venezuela, he had transitioned to island shirts, and kept that a permanent fashion statement until this undercover sting. He never felt the need to put the vest back on, but neither had he wondered what Lisbon liked him in. He had assumed she was okay with what he wore. But then, this is the woman who had given him wool socks when she noticed that he didn’t have any to wear. He didn’t even know if she liked the island shirts…she just never said anything about them.
"You don’t like the patterned shirts? I thought they were pretty nice…" he trailed off, watching as she stepped forward and reached out a hand to feel the material of the vest against his chest. Her fingers lingered on the cool material and the jet black buttons, tracing where the vest ended over his shirt underneath.
"Not really," she admitted, her voice low. "I think the vests make you my Jane," she told him, pulling at his shirt collar and then letting her hands rest against his vested chest. "I mean, the Jane I saw every day for over a decade."
"Oh," he whispered. "So it’s sentimental reasons, then?"
"Not all sentimental," she replied back, licking her lips. "They define your chest…it’s…it’s the physical look of them on you, I guess."
Jane’s hand came up and lifted her chin so he could look her in the eyes. He supposed that Lisbon had shaped the way he dressed previously. She had insisted he clean up, and he had. He remembered that day very clearly. He had left the CBI building that day, accessed his bank account just enough to make it to the department store. He had chosen the signature grey suit and vest with Lisbon in mind, thinking that her version of ‘cleaning up’ would be that. Lisbon had made the vest his signature, even if she didn’t know it. He wore them because, yes, they made him remember that he was a charlatan and a fool and a con artist, but he was also wearing them because Lisbon had changed her attitude when she saw him wearing them. She took him more seriously and much more like a colleague. In some small way, it had changed Lisbon’s perception of him.
"Well," Jane told her softly. "Does it turn you on? Is it your switch? I know it’s not a turtleneck, by any means," he teased. "If this is what you like, and you miss it, I would buy a hundred of them just to make you happy, Teresa."
"They make me feel nostalgic," she said, her breath hitting him in the face. " Turtlenecks never got me hot and bothered. I guess I’m not the turtleneck type. But these…" she ran her hands over the muscles that lie just under the vest. "I guess it is a turn-on…"
"Well, Agent Lisbon," he chuckled. "Consider the switch flipped."
"It’s an extra piece of clothing to get off you when I want," she whispered, her face closing in on his, "but I think I can live with it."
"Ah. Something the patterned shirts were good for, I suspect…"
"Well, a few popped buttons on a vest shouldn’t be too bad if you plan on getting a hundred," she told him, pressing her lips against his and her hands fumbled for the vest buttons between them.
"I’ll let you destroy a few of them," he told her, his lips finding her jaw line. "It’s in the name of science, let’s say. How do turn-ons make women act?"
"Enthusiastically, I’d say," he said as he felt her fingers pull on his vest, sending three buttons flying to the floor and landing with soft thuds against the baseboard a few feet away. "I bought this vest out of FBI tab, so it’s okay…"
She didn’t answer. She grabbed him by the nearly buttonless vest, turned and pulled him toward the worn leather couch. He understood she needed to get out of the dress, anyway. He was going to do her a service by taking it off her, and let her have some fun with her switch. Everyone else had gone home a long time ago. It was just the two of them. In mere minutes, the vest and her dress joined each other on the FBI bullpen floor.
The vests were back. This time, they symbolized the freedom of his life and who he was spending it with. Lisbon had unknowingly shaped the vests that were his moniker, and she was bringing it back. This time, however, he was not reminded of him of being a crook or a con artist. It was to remind him that his roots to his new life were deeply embedded into Teresa Lisbon. The vest was back to remind him that the only step back he was taking was the one that led him into her arms on the couch behind them. The step forward was facing something he considered only worthy of the damned. It was now worthy of the fortunate. It was now worthy of turning Teresa Lisbon on. Vest Jane was back. Lisbon resurrected them, and gave them new meaning.
Abbott had found one of his vest buttons on the floor the next morning, and returned it to him, a knowing smile on his face. The vests had been rechristened, and Abbott had joined Lisbon in giving silent approval. Jane smiled and stood. They had another case. He placed his phone in his vest pocket, tapped it, straightened the vest and went on.
For the time being, I decide to entertain the fantasy that Jane wears the vest again because Lisbon told him she finds it sexy…
I swear to god if Lisbon is made to feel inferior at all when around Erica Flynn I’ll be super pissed. Jane had better be right onto that shit and make sure she understands what she means to him.
Agreed- it’s what I fear most. I remember “War of the roses” all too well, where Lisbon suffered all episode and was constantly brushed off by Jane when she voiced her concerns. He was NOT nice with her then, and I hope they redeem that this season.