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Who's Your Daddy

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Patrick Jane's main form of showing affection has always been to shower the recipient with gifts.

 

He had very little growing up. He cheated and swindled his way through the circus' numerous marks for his father, and they made ends meet well enough, clean clothes and decent show props and almost always food on the table, but they were never really comfortable, always on the lookout for the next big sucker, with a constant underlying anxiety that reared its head whenever they went too long between rich targets.

 

After he and Angela ran away though, Jane wanted better for his family, so much better, and to make that happen, he needed money.

 

The world - he found out soon enough - was blindly happy to oblige, and for a while, everything was perfect. Big Malibu house with spacious rooms and large windows, a grand piano for Angela to teach Charlotte how to play, a pool out back for him to teach her how to swim, expensive clothes and elegant furniture and glittering silverware, a little girl's bedroom changed every other month at her whim and custom-made princess dresses and the best toys on the market. Anything and everything they could possibly want, he provided, and he was so proud he could.

 

But the ease of it, the fame, the lavish lifestyle, the con-- it all went to his head, his arrogance got the better of him, and his wife and daughter paid for it. He lost his whole world in an instant, and what did money matter when he had no one to spend it on anymore?

 

His paycheck at the CBI isn't very big. Compared to what he used to make in his old job, it's practically pocket change. Nobody's ever offered him a raise in all the years here either, and he's never asked for one, because he doesn't work at the CBI for money he doesn't really even need. He could walk into any casino and come out half a million dollars richer in a single afternoon, if he wants to. And his coffers from his old life are still very much full.

 

He thinks his mistake (a good mistake, but still) was growing to genuinely care about his team. He didn’t plan on it. He was using their resources, and they were using his skills, and that was fine, that was the arrangement he wanted going in.

 

Besides, as a general rule, Jane has no particular interest in caring about people. He is - ironically - better about it after his wife and daughter are gone, he invests himself in them just enough to help the victims, but still he reads them, manipulates them, cracks them open and drags all the ugly truths out of them, and if feelings get hurt along the way, which they often do, Jane is almost never particularly sorry about it.

 

It’s part of what makes him a good con-artist. Some would call him a sociopath, at best, and they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. Jane honestly doesn’t care about most people, not as freely as Van Pelt does or as deeply as Lisbon, nor as determinedly as Rigsby or as dutifully as Cho. Even those he thinks of with a vague sense of fondness can be used and discarded easily enough if what he gains on the other side is worth more to him than the person in question.

 

But the team. His team. It takes a special kind of… perseverance and flexibility and strength to not just tolerate him but actually like him, and Jane somehow managed to insert himself into the one group of law enforcement possibly in all of America who doesn't just consider him a necessary evil. The worst part is, even Jane isn't immune to people who not only genuinely give a damn about him but also trust him. They don't trust everything that comes out of his mouth, which is smart of them, but they trust him when it counts, always, and that's worse than not trusting him at all.

 

(When Grace joins the team, all optimism and naivety and largely untouched by the darkness of the world, Jane sees a threat more than anything else. So he pokes and prods and humiliates her, hoping she would break like Hannigan and ask for a transfer and leave. She bends instead and pops right back up in her own quietly earnest way, supported by the same thread of steel inside her that Lisbon and Rigsby and Cho all possess. She stays, and she hooks herself into Jane's rotted heart as stubbornly as the others, and Jane doesn't think any of them will ever understand the magnitude of their triumph here.)

 

It's terribly inconvenient sometimes. Nothing is more important to him than catching and killing Red John, than avenging his wife and daughter. But somewhere along the way, the team becomes another family, and there are days when he almost hates them for it. It would be so much easier if he didn't care about them at all. No weaknesses for Red John to exploit, no distractions from his life's goal.

 

But it is what it is, and Jane's never been in the habit of lying to himself, even if he's made a career of lying to pretty much everyone else. The team is his, and he may lie to them and keep secrets from them and even manipulate them, but he'd also kill for them and prioritize their lives over his hunt for Red John, and there isn't anyone else in the whole world who could claim that from him.

 

He never comes out and says it of course. It's not in his nature, and it would just embarrass everyone and probably incite a moral lecture about murder from Lisbon. So instead, Jane shows it the way he's always shown his affection, ever since he could-- with gifts.

 

Even Jane knows he can't simply shower them with presents every day, especially expensive ones. They wouldn't accept it, and someone higher-up on the law enforcement food chain would probably kick up a fuss.

 

So, Jane slips the gifts in during cases. Mementos of whichever place the crime took place in, or props Jane insists on using and 'forgets' to take back once his plan to catch yet another criminal has wrapped up. Sometimes though, he makes mistakes. Casino jobs are the hardest. There are so many expensive nice things on display, and he could afford all of it if he really puts his mind to it. But he learns early on that Lisbon will refuse even when she clearly loves the jewelry he gets her, and in the early days, Van Pelt is new enough that she'll always follow Lisbon's lead in these matters. Rigsby and Cho are easier - Rigsby accepts presents at face-value with good cheer, while Cho looks at him sometimes like he understands this is the only way Jane knows how to show how much they mean to him so he never rejects the gifts either - but Jane has to be careful with them too.

 

Over the years, he learns to tone down his presents. Food is fine, funny trinkets and quirky souvenirs are fine, all accepted with varying degrees of amused delight. So that's what he keeps an eye out for, and in-between, he sprinkles the more pricey gifts, usually at least partly in the guise of needing them for one of his convoluted schemes to corner their villain of the week. He never asks for them to give the gifts back, and if they try anyway, he points out that he has no real place to stash them. If they continue insisting, he tells them to keep them for him until he finds storage space elsewhere. He never does of course.

 

It works. Jane is happy that his team always likes his gifts, and his team is happy - and semi-oblivious - in the face of Jane's stealth-gifting.

 


 

None of them really notices just how much stuff Jane has bought for them over the years until Jane is gone, fled the country, hopefully not getting himself in trouble. But after the CBI is shut down, and everyone is told to clean out their offices, Lisbon spends a good few minutes staring into hers and wondering where all the subtly vintage furniture came from. She's pretty sure half the room costs more than what she earns - used to earn - in half a year, and the government definitely wasn't the one footing the bill.

 

Vaguely, she remembers Jane complaining about her lumpy sofa and squeaky filing cabinets and "this coffee table just isn't the right colour, Lisbon". She remembers rolling her eyes and telling him that he didn't have to look at it if he hated it so much.

 

Apparently, he took that both literally and proactively. She recalls coming in one morning to a new couch, new filing cabinets, a new coffee table, but there was always an urgent case that needed her attention so she had never really taken the time to wonder where the furniture had come from, and by the time she did have time, all she'd really noted was how comfortable her new couch was, how she didn't have to wrench the shelves of her filing cabinets open, how her coffee didn't wobble anymore when she set it on the table.

 

She sighs very deeply, ignores the wistful pang in her chest at the reminder that she probably won't ever see Patrick Jane again, and starts packing her things. In the end, she takes the furniture with her, along with all the knickknacks Jane's given her over the years - origami frogs, an exact expertly carved replica of the very real pony Jane surprised her with that one birthday, three coffee mugs with stupid cop jokes embossed on them, a miniature gramophone and the collection of miniature records that came with it… she could go on. There's enough to fill an entire box, and even more at home, bits and pieces of the CBI's most famous consultant everywhere she looks, and if Jane were still here, she thinks she could slap him.

 

(She misses him, but she'd rather never see him again than see him locked up in prison for life.)

 


 

Rigsby and Grace notice their gifts together, when they move in together. The plastic t-rex Jane bought for Rigsby in one of their museum cases ends up in Ben's ecstatic care during his dinosaur phase, and Grace's fish carving finds its way onto the mantel. The set of crystal tableware Jane got for them as their wedding present carefully goes in the top shelf, used only on special occasions. They open the closet one day and realize half their clothes are way above their previous paychecks, thousand-dollar suits and ties and shoes for Rigsby, several dresses, a fancy hat, and a few pairs of silver earrings and bracelets for Grace, nothing they would waste money on for themselves.

 

In the aftermath of being more or less fired from the CBI, even though they technically didn't do anything wrong… or at least they didn't do anything wrong by Jane's standards, and honestly the FBI wouldn't even have been able to take all the credit for bringing down the Blake Association if not for them. But nobody wants to hear their opinions, so officially, they've been let go with CBI's tarnished reputation trailing behind them like an unwanted ghost, and in its wake, it's difficult to get their digital security company off the ground, especially with one kid to take care of and another on its way.

 

Jane's gifts help. They were both a little hesitant, because they were gifts, but Jane would also be the first to insist on placing real needs, especially those of a child's, before any kind of foolish sentimentality. Besides, they find that even selling them for a no doubt reduced price, a watch, a suit, and a few pieces of jewelry, and suddenly they're several hundred thousand dollars richer.

 

They keep the rest of Jane's gifts. Their security business slowly gains customers, but they never forget who provided their safety net at the beginning. Knowing Jane, he might even have predicted this exact scenario and prepared them accordingly.

 


 

Cho's never not noticed. He just never took specific notice of it either. Jane likes watching their expressions when he surprises them with gifts, likes being right about what they like, and Cho's never really seen anything wrong with it. Jane does what Jane wants. Protesting is largely an exercise in futility, and it isn't as if the presents hurt anyone except maybe their pride. Cho decides very early on that there are more important things to get hung up over.

 

After he makes the jump to the FBI, it only takes a few days for him to notice the more expensive cut of the other agents' suits. Not by much, but enough that he goes home after the first week and rearranges his closet a little and heads to work on Monday in one of several custom-made suits Jane's fitted him with over the years. It doesn't make him stand out, but he knows a few of his superiors have an eye for this sort of thing, and hard work is important but a cheap suit doesn't help.

 

His new apartment in Austin is set up the same way though. Neat and practical, but a triceratops sits on his nightstand, a whole shelf is dedicated to all the books he never bought for himself, he wears a ridiculously expensive watch when he has to put in an appearance at FBI functions, and a tiny six-year-old cactus still sits on his windowsill.

 


 

After Jane comes back (and drags Lisbon with him), he picks up stealth-gifting like he never had to stop. Cho actually smiles when he gets a bag of jumping beans, with no idea how Jane guessed but taught from long experience to roll with it anyway. Lisbon seems more relaxed about the whole matter, as if no longer being in charge helps. A string of cranes intersected with glittering beads of silver appears hanging from her desk light one day, and she sighs but touches it gently and doesn't remove it.

 

(Later, after they start dating, Jane spoils her with even more gifts, more directly, no longer disguised or slipped in under her guard, and he's thrilled when she smiles because now he's allowed to make her happy for no other reason than just because he wants to.)

 

Wylie and Fischer and even Abbott start getting gifts. They're a little bewildered, both Lisbon and Cho can tell, but they love their presents too.  Wylie, the very definition of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, accepts Jane's quirks with only a slight hitch at the start before adjusting. Abbott, despite both his and Jane's best efforts, somehow moves past their short but less than stellar history to form a tentative truce that becomes a genuine friendship. Both he and Wylie start receiving gifts beyond toy robots and Tamagotchis, packets of rare coffee beans for Abbott, video games for Wylie.

 

Fischer only gets the one-- Jane watches her with genial smiles and blank eyes sometimes, and when she transfers to Seattle, he seems to forget her entirely. He never forgets anything of course, but it takes a special kind of perseverance and flexibility and strength to hold Jane's regard long-term, and not to put too fine a point on it but she already failed on several counts-- asking Cho how to collar Jane, like that's something you can even do; asking a wrong question at exactly the wrong time, doubting their interference on behalf of a convicted criminal on death-row, just because it was an open-and-shut case. They're friendly enough, but by the time Fischer leaves, through no fault of her own, just life's circumstances, she still hasn't quite managed to slip past Jane's walls all the way, and so neither Lisbon nor Cho, who know him best, are particularly surprised when Jane gives no further thought for her once she's gone.

 

Vega takes her place. A little like Grace, eager to prove herself, looking for validation and approval, capable and determined to succeed. Cho - reluctantly - takes a liking to her, but she falters in front of the hurricane that is Jane, clearly out of her depth, and doesn't bounce back as quickly as Van Pelt once did. Cho says nothing to help. Either you get Jane, or you don't, and if you don't… well. There are plenty of other teams Vega could transfer to and thrive in, and no matter how much Cho likes her, she doesn't get to stay if she can't pass this test.

 

But she pulls through, steels herself, settles into the team, and Jane begins smiling at her less like he's humouring her or having a private laugh at her expense and more like he's sharing a joke, and Cho relaxes. She squawks with laughter when Jane takes the time to teach her old carnie tricks the way he once did Grace, and buys her a new outfit and a matching handbag as a prop for a case and afterwards insists she keep it because what is he going to do with it?

 

And then she dies, and something of the team dies with her. Jane stays just long enough to ensure Cho has legal standing to shoot her killer dead, and then he runs away for a while.

 

(If he's honest, he never expected to survive Red John. In jail or six feet under, Jane didn't expect to live. And yet here he is, a new lease on life and another person he's let himself care about is put into the ground instead. He mourns, and then he goes back because he can't leave Lisbon, and on occasion, in the dead of night, he thanks a god he doesn't believe in that at least it wasn't Cho or Grace or Rigsby or Lisbon.)

 


 

Life goes on, as it always does. Jane never does quit his habit of buying things for the small circle of people he cares about, even years down the line, and they in turn accept it as a constant aspect of their lives.

 

It's how Jane shows he cares, and those who know him, those who care about him in return as fiercely as he does them, would never reject that.