A/N: Hello all! I recently started watching The Mentalist, and the fascinating character of Patrick Jane and wonderful dynamic of Jane and Lisbon somehow managed to waken me from a two-year fanfiction hibernation. (After I binge-watched the entire series, of course!) This is me flexing my fanfic muscles with a (slightly depressing) drabble - mostly an introspective character study of Jane prior to the events of the episode Red John. I hope you like it - and even if you don't, please let me know how I did. Reviews/critiques are truly appreciated!

Sometimes, Jane worries that his memory palace is made out of sand.

Maybe the carefully constructed walls, meticulous passageways, patterned carpet – could all be washed away with the tide. He's made palaces out of sand before. It isn't hard to do.

Sometimes he revisits rooms and things aren't there, or the furniture's been moved around, like someone's been by without his knowledge. An intruder inside his own mind.

Maybe it's the tide, taking things from him day by day. The enticing citrus scent of Angela's perfume and the sweet taste of her mouth. Charlotte's hiccupping giggles and the feel of her small hand in his.

He wonders if soon, only pain will be left. The color of Angela's toenails, cruelly painted in her own blood. Charlotte's tiny body lying underneath a blood-red smile. The crash of his world shattering and the agony of his heart incinerating.

Sometimes, he wants to forget everything. The good, the bad, the neutral. But he knows that he does not deserve respite.

He definitely doesn't deserve Teresa Lisbon. She is too good and pure and caring. He wonders if she is the one that passes unseen in his mind and changes things. New rooms spring up without his knowledge, filled with her scent, her smile, her story.

Sometimes, he senses her power over him, and it frightens him. If he didn't need her to catch Red John, he probably would have left a long time ago.

(She deserves better than him, and he deserves nothing but pain.)

Teresa knew when she first saw Jane that she could help him.

He was so timid and small – fresh out of the asylum, although she hadn't known that then. But she could tell that he was hanging on by a thread, clinging to the idea of vengeance – or justice, as he calls it, and as she begins to believe. Justice against the monster who had killed his family, and effectively killed him.

Something in her wants to help him. She saw him come alive when solving that first case, and found that she liked seeing light in his clear blue eyes. So she brought him along to more cases, made him tea, teased him gently, kept her distance when he needed it. She watched him slowly build (rebuild?) his mask, with his suits and smiles and shenanigans enough to fool most people.

Most people, but not her. She sees the cracks. The wedding ring that never comes off, and the naps on his couch borne out of exhaustion, not insolence. The almost manic look in his eyes whenever they have another Red John case, and the way he holes himself up in the attic for days on end when the guilt becomes too difficult to bear.

She does her best to help him. It's not in her to give up. But it is hard to help someone so determined to stay broken.