One more chapter after this (an epilogue of sorts). Thanks to everyone for the wonderful reviews. I haven't had time to reply to all of them (ugh, school is already crazy and it's only been one week), but I really appreciate all of the kind comments and support. Thanks!Chapter Six: Choices

Jane held her thin hair (not yet shorn off) as she threw up into the toilet, her body heaving with the effort. When she had finished heaving, she sagged against the porcelain. Energy spent. Gently, he pulled her back so she was resting against his chest instead.

"God. This sucks."

He let out a small chuckle, though it was really humorless. She always got straight to the point. He swallowed hard before answering. "Yes. It does."

She struggled to stand and he helped her rinse out her mouth and brush her teeth. She took a shaky step toward the door, but he would have none of it. Sweeping her into his arms he carried her out of the bathroom and started to head to her bedroom. She laid a hand against his chest.

"Take me to the couch. Please. I want to at least pretend I can be a normal person for a little while. Watch some TV. Read a book. Something." He paused, debating. She really should rest. Chemo made her quite sick for a while and sleep seemed to be the only remedy. She sensed his hesitance. "Please?"

He couldn't hold out against her pleading. Really, she deserved everything she wanted. And this was one of the easiest desires he could grant. If only he could do more. He nodded without speaking and changed his course of direction.

Sitting on the couch, he kept her clasped in his arms. She started shifting, readying herself to slide from his lap to the couch, but he tightened his hold. "Let me hold you."

Their relationship had changed over the months they had been fighting the cancer. No long talks. No nights of abandonment and impulse. Just simple tenderness. Watching one another change. They may not fully recognize the change, but they knew this new situation—new relationship—was unchangeable. No matter what happened, it was Jane and Lisbon. Together. Them against the world. Oh, they still disagreed on things. Red John. Tea versus coffee. The appeal of black and white movies. But there was an intimate knowledge of one another.

She knew that when he awoke, he liked a cuddle for at least ten minutes. He knew that she slept so soundly that he could move her almost as he wished, like a doll. That first night he had entered her bed, he hadn't bothered to leave it. And she hadn't bothered to kick him out.

But she seemed to be getting worse. And it was painful for both of them.

They settled on the couch and Jane couldn't help but wonder how this would feel with the pre-cancer Lisbon. Her full, soft body against his. As it was, he still enjoyed her presence. He took comfort in the rise and fall of her chest. He just hated the frailty of her body because it reminded him of the frailness of her health. He hated the helplessness that made him feel.

His phone, lying on the coffee table in front of them, began vibrating. She leaned forward, obviously feeling a little better, and snagged it. Flipping it open, she read that there had been seven text messages and three missed calls. Two voicemails. All seemed to be from Cho.

"Jane! I think Cho needs you. Here. Call him," she urged. He shook his head.

"Cho is fine, my dear."

"But look at all the calls and messages. It must be important," Lisbon insisted. "I don't mind. Really."

"I already know what they're about. And they can wait," he hedged. She peered at him suspiciously. Practically living with him, she had gotten a bit better at reading him. And this kind of behavior had always made her nervous.

"What are they about then?" She challenged him and he relished the gleam in her eye that proved she was still the feisty woman she had always been.

"Red John."

There was stunned silence after that. Finally, she cleared her throat. "Did you…did you just say Red John?"

He nodded, watching her closely. When she didn't continue—clearly at a loss for words and confused—he spoke once more. "They had a pretty good lead yesterday. They've been following up on it. These are just to keep me updated."

"Jane!" She pushed ineffectively at his chest. "You should be there. I'll be fine here by myself. Go ahead. Call Cho and see where they are so you can meet up."

He shook his head again. "I'm where I need to be."

She sighed, her eyes soft. "Jane, I know you feel like you have to take care of me. We haven't talked about it, but that promise you made…well, it's fine. You've more than kept it. But when something this important to you comes up, it's perfectly all right to leave me. I'm an adult. And it won't mean that you broke your promise."

"This isn't about a promise to you, Lisbon. Teresa. It's about me and where I want to be."

Tiredly, she leaned her forehead against his shoulder and wrapped her arms around him. "Jane, catching Red John is the most important thing in your life. I don't want to be the one to cause you to miss something. To ruin the chances of you guys catching him. I don't want it to be because of me and my stupid sickness that he gets away."

He turned his head and pressed a kiss to hers, rubbing his hands up and down her back. "Red John is not the most important thing in my life. Not anymore."

"But—"

He cut her off. "We haven't talked about it, Teresa, because I thought it went without saying by now, but you're stuck with me. For good. Just thought you should know."

She turned her face into his neck and he could feel her slow smile against his skin. The words paralleled another moment between them. Another time. It seemed like so long ago. It hadn't fully sunk in yet, but Patrick Jane had essentially just said (and showed) that he had chosen her over his quest for Red John. Her breath puffed against his throat as she spoke. "Oh really? I have no choice in this matter?"

"Not really. I can let you think you do if you like." He thought it was a generous offer.

She laughed and he was so happy to hear it that he couldn't stop the grin that spread across his face. "Only you, Jane. Only you."

"Maybe you should call me Patrick."

She leaned back and surveyed him. "I don't know…"

She seemed to be talking about more than calling him by his given name. His expression became serious again. "That's okay. I do."

"Jane, what if I…I mean, I'm very sick and I might—"

He interrupted her. He didn't think he could bear to hear that aloud. He couldn't even bear to think it and he didn't want her to. He put his forehead to hers and spoke fiercely. "No. No what ifs. You are going to get better. And then you'll rant at me when I'm irritating. You'll try to control my crazy shenanigans. And you'll learn how to deal with me around here twenty-four-seven."

Her eyes closed and he would have kissed her then if she hadn't spoken. "You're wrong."

He froze. She didn't want this? Didn't want him? Or had the doctors told her something she hadn't shared with him yet? Had it gotten even worse?

"I won't try to control your shenanigans. I will control your shenanigans."

His tensed muscles relaxed. Oh, thank God. Well, figuratively….

"So you're okay with this. This thing between us?"

She kissed his forehead. "I thought I didn't have a choice."

"I only want you to be happy, Lisbon—dammit, Teresa—so just say the word and I'll—"

This time she interrupted him by placing her fingers against his lips. "At the risk of sounding extremely corny…you make me happy, Patrick."

She put her head back on his shoulder and got comfortable, settling in for either a movie or a nap. She gave a sleepy sigh. "Damn, it is going to be hard to get used to that."

He laughed. "I can relate. But Teresa is a beautiful name."

And if they were ever married (he couldn't believe he was even contemplating that…), then it would be weird to call her Lisbon when it wasn't even her name any more.

"Jane?"

"Yeah?"

"Shut up."

And he did, relishing the feeling of her in his arms. Basking in the knowledge that they both had their eyes wide open. They knew what they were getting in to. It may not be the best idea. It may only lead to a world of pain. But they were heading there together.

When she was better (and she would get better), they would sort out the next step. For now, they would focus on the fight for her health. Jane smiled, settling deeper into the couch. Happiness welled inside of him, filling him with energy. He was sure she'd get better.

And he was hardly ever wrong. He wasn't about to start now.