A/N: So this is the sequel to Chance Encounter. It is set eleven years after that story finished so now Jane is 30, Lisbon 29. I was so surprised at the lovely reaction to that fic and the numerous reviewers who informed me they didn't normally like teenage J&L fics but enjoyed that one.
Hang on, what's that you say? You haven't read it? Okay, then I suggest you might want to do that before you begin this story as the set up of the characters and some of the conversations that take place in this one may not make a lot of sense as the story progresses otherwise. Although this first chapter may leave you feeling that way even if you have read it! All will be explained in time...Okay, then, here we go!
Disclaimer: I don't own The Mentalist, the amazing Bruno Heller does.
Chapter 1 - Murder
Her body jerked immediately rousing her from sleep instantly, the shrill ringing of her cell phone in the middle of the night one noise she was more than used to by now. Still she kept her eyes closed as she fumbled around the nightstand, answered it as she cleared her throat. She croaked, "Lisbon," blinking her eyes open to see the name of her boss Virgil Minelli staring back at her. Swiftly she sat up against the headboard and turned on the light beside her, shaking any remnants of sleep from her body.
"Did I wake you by any chance, Lisbon?" Minelli asked, slight amusement in his tone.
"Good," he interjected. "If I'm not getting a night off then why should you, Agent."
She smiled at the rhetorical question. He was grouchy at the best of times but when a murder got in the way of his leisure time or his sleep then he was even tetchier.
"We have a case I'm guessing," she whispered, flinging the covers off her and gathering some clothes as she made her way to the hotel room bathroom to get dressed.
"Well I'm pleased when I gave you your own team at the CBI last month I didn't make the wrong call, Teresa. Fine deductive powers indeed." There was more than a hint of sarcasm in his tone.
She put the phone on speaker and began to get dressed. "Well you taught me everything I know, Virgil," she came back with quickly with a smile.
"Ha ha, Agent, very funny. All right, enough of that." More serious, "Yes, we caught one. Your team should almost be there by now, called them a few hours ago to make their way from Sacramento. You're still in L.A., correct?"
"Yeah. You should have called me sooner-"
"Despite what you might think you deserve an occasional night off like everyone else, you've been working like a dog lately, Teresa. Besides, murder is in Malibu so we'll probably be there before they are. Unless Rigby's driving."
She frowned as she pulled on her blouse. "You're coming to the crime scene? You only do that if...hang on...this must be pretty high profile. Who got killed?"
A loud sigh greeted her at the other end. "You're staying at the Courtyard Hotel near the conference centre, yes?"
"I'll pick you up in twenty minutes. I'll explain then."
After getting ready she opened the bathroom door and the light on the nightstand opposite her switched on. "Teresa?" the dark haired bare-chested man lying in bed mumbled as he rubbed his eyes.
"Sorry, did I wake you?" she whispered as she put on her gun and badge.
He shook his head from side to side as he stifled a yawn then glanced at his watch beside him before rolling his eyes. "You got called out," he said with an exasperated sigh.
She came and sat on the bed beside him, kissed him softly. "Yeah, sorry, Ryan-"
"Damn it, Teresa. I thought you were supposed to have the night off for once. It's the first one we've spent together in-"
"I know. I'm sorry," she nodded. "But we did spend it together. Just have to cut it short, that's all."
"Hmm. Well half a night with you after you've attended a forensics conference all day and are exhausted by the time I get here is hardly what I'd call a romantic getaway, honey."
She laughed softly. "I'll make it up to you, I promise."
"That's what you said when you were too tired last night. In fact you told me that in the morning you'd-"
She rolled her eyes. "It must be an important one. Minelli called me himself. He's had to leave his golf retreat too." She kissed him again. "And I will make it up to you."
He pinned a lock of her shoulder length bobbed hair behind her ear. Seriously, "It's not just about the sex, Teresa. You know that. But...well after what happened, we've had trouble reconnecting-"
"Jeez, Ryan. I have to get to a murder, I don't have time to have this conversation right now," she said with irritation as she raised herself from the bed and put her leather jacket on.
"So what else is new," he mumbled looking away.
She troubled her bottom lip and sat back down beside him again. Quietly, "Look, I know things haven't been good between us since...but we'll work things out, okay? Just give me some more time."
He hugged her and kissed her hair. "I do love you. I just want things to get back to how they were, that's all."
She patted his back before releasing him. "I know you do. I do too. We'll get there," she nodded.
"I'm sorry for pressuring you-"
"It's fine," she said as she got off the bed. "Look, I don't know how long I'll be so you'd be better flying back to Sacramento in the morning by yourself; I'll get a ride back with the team."
Her boyfriend Ryan Hastings turned off the light and huddled back under the covers. "Okay," he yawned. "Be safe. Call me in the morning if you get a chance."
She was waiting at the entrance of the Hotel as Minelli pulled up in his silver Ford Taurus. She jumped in immediately, handing him a coffee and doughnut from the all night coffee shop next door and fastened her seatbelt, settling her coffee between her legs and breaking off a piece of bear claw.
Minelli was addicted to the roasted bean as much as she was and she knew it was a sure fire way of making him a little more amenable for their drive to Malibu. He sipped his drink with his eyes closed for a moment. "You know the way to a man's heart, Teresa," he smiled as he put his drink into the cup holder at his side, starting up the engine again.
She puffed out a breath, taking a mouthful of her own. "If only," she murmured, thinking back to her pissed off boyfriend ten floors up.
Minelli narrowed his eyes at her for a moment. "Everything okay between you and Ryan?"
"Yeah," she said quickly. "We're fine. So, what's the case?"
He smiled at her rather obvious avoidance of discussing her private life. "I didn't want to tell you on the phone," he said, looking sideways at her for a reaction to his next words. "Looks like a Red John."
She twirled in her seat immediately, nearly landing her legs with a cupful of coffee. Her heart rate increased at the sound of the name though she tried to keep her voice calm. "Okay. What do you know so far?"
Minelli sighed, his voice a monotone as he described yet another murder victim as he had done for over thirty years now, "Name is Melissa Jane, aged twenty eight. Husband discovered the body a few hours ago. Called it in."
"Jane?" Lisbon clarified, her heart racing for an entirely different reason.
"Yeah," he sighed, his eyes on the road. "She was married to...get this-"
"Patrick Jane," Lisbon finished for him, her mouth hanging open.
Minelli glanced at her then glanced again as he noticed her shocked expression. "Yes. You've heard of him? I believe he does some guest spots as some sort of psychic on TV. Don't tell me you watch that kind of stuff."
She shook her head and took a large sip of coffee in an attempt to calm herself, as paradoxical as that was. "Um...no...Didn't know he'd branched into TV but...well yeah, I've heard of him."
Minelli frowned at her thoroughly perturbed demeanour. "Teresa, no offence but it doesn't sound or look like you've just heard of him-"
"I know him," she offered with a sigh. "What I mean is I knew him. Years ago."
Her boss cleared his throat as he watched her reaction in the front mirror, his face growing red by his next question. "Um...when you saw you knew him..."
She looked out of the side window, almost as embarrassed as her boss at the subject they were discussing. "Yeah, we had a...thing I guess you could call it. Well fling more than a...thing. When I lived in Chicago, just before I went to College." She turned back to him, afraid he'd take her off the case due to her personal history with the husband of a victim. "I haven't seen him since then, Virgil. And it lasted less than a week. He...he probably won't even remember me." She knew that was a lie in most probability but she was going to say whatever she had to to make sure she stayed on a Red John case.
He nodded, clearing his throat again. "Will you be able to be unbiased if I allow you to work this case, Lisbon?"
"Of course, boss. Besides, if it's Red John then-"
"We don't know that for certain yet. I need to know you'll be able to handle this situation in a professional manner when you speak to him, Lisbon."
"Like I said, boss. He'll probably not even remember me. It won't be a problem, I assure you."
"Make sure it isn't," her boss told her.
As they drove up to the gated property in Malibu they noticed a few reporters had already sniffed out the story as daylight approached. Minelli flashed his badge to the uniformed officers and drove through the gate. "Damn bloodhounds," he muttered under his breath.
Lisbon's eyes were fixed on the architecturally designed white property ahead that stood behind manicured shrubs and red brick driveway. It appeared Patrick Jane had got his fortune after all. Her stomach somersaulted at the thought of seeing him after all these years despite the circumstances. "This is why you're here," she said to Minelli, to get her mind off those sea green eyes she'd fallen for a decade ago. "Press."
"Yeah," Minelli tutted as they exited the car. "Seems a minor celebrity coupled with Red John will likely have the front page," he said shaking his head. He nodded to a group of people just behind her that were approaching. "Rigsby must have driven, go talk to your team. Confirm if it's Red John and come and find me. I'll head them off at the pass until then."
"What about Pat-, Mr Jane, you want me to talk to him or-"
"If you can be objective, talk to him. If not, have Cho do it."
Cho led her into the house as forensic techs and uniformed officers milled about. As she got to the large kitchen diner area she saw his back on the deck behind opened patio doors as he sat on a bench and stared at the sky in front of him, his still blond curls illuminated by the first rays of dawn. She stopped walking suddenly, her heart pounding in her chest, surprising herself with the depth of emotion she felt at the sight after all these years. Cho frowned at her, "Boss, body's upstairs."
"Right," she said, catching a breath. "Right. Let's go," she said, establishing her professional persona again.
"So, what have we got?" she asked him as they ascended the stairs.
"Jane said he found his wife shortly after one am this morning after driving back from a television appearance in L.A. Said there was no sign of an intruder when he got here. Said he tried to resuscitate but she was already gone."
"Time of death?"
"Coroner puts it at between eleven and one. We were waiting for you before the body's removed."
"Still combing. Nothing so far. But Jane trying to resuscitate her, if that's what he really was doing, means there's little chance of usable trace on the victim."
"Well if it's Red John there's likely to be no trace anyway." She paused as his words sunk in. "What do you mean, if that's what he was doing?" She noticed her tone was more than a little abrupt and bit her lip. Objectivity, right. She softened it accordingly, made it more curious than defensive. "What are you getting at, Cho?"
"Have a look," he said, pointing to a room beside them. Rigsby was inside having a peep around and nodded to her. "Hey, boss."
"Hey, Rigs," she frowned as she looked around the room. It was decorated in taupe tones, a dark wooden bed freshly made up with light blue bedcovers and dark bedroom furniture adorning it. It was very clean with no personal items save for a bottle of expensive cologne on the dresser and a comb. She didn't have to open the closets to know this was a man's room. She came out of the room and glanced down the corridor where a hive of activity was ongoing. "Separate bedrooms," she said, mostly to herself as her frown deepened.
"Yeah, boss," Rigsby nodded. He opened the closets anyway, a row of designer suits and packets of unopened shirts and ties fastidiously displayed. Cho opened a drawer and twenty watches, four of which she noticed were Rolex's greeted her.
"Maybe he snores," Rigsby offered. She bit her tongue to tell him he did not. Or at least didn't use to.
As she approached what she supposed was Melissa Jane's bedroom she heard Brett Partridge's voice in there and rolled her eyes. Why did the creepiest guy on the planet have to be working this one? She sighed as she heard him continue speaking to the photographer in the room.
"My first Red John," he said cheerfully as he looked up at the face on the wall. "I'm stoked to get one at last." The ghoul was practically salivating.
Her gaze went to the smiley face on the wall opposite her as she walked through the door and she bit her bottom lip. "Damn," she said under her breath. Louder, "Mr Partridge, do you mind showing this poor woman some respect."
He jumped at her words and turned around. "Agent Lis-bon," he smiled, "Always a pleasure."
"It's Lisbon," she stated plainly, a fact he already knew all too well. "Give me a minute," she added quietly.
"I don't care. Leave."
She tilted her head to him, challenging him to respond.
Stuttering, "I...I need to come back soon, with it being Red John brass will want the works-"
"It's not," she said wearily, the early morning and the pain in the ass opposite her trying her patience.
At that moment the newest member of her team, Grace Van Pelt, wandered into the room. Partridge stared at Lisbon, gaining some confidence. "It's not Red John? Oh, because you say so, is that it?" he asked despairingly.
"No," she sighed. "Because..." She narrowed her eyes at Van Pelt, decided to test the rookie with a test she knew she should pass or she wasn't the agent she recruited. "Why isn't it Red John, Van Pelt? Tell Mr. Partridge here."
"Um..." Van Pelt, replied, caught on the hop.
"Have a look around," Lisbon said calmly. "You've studied the case files, Grace. You know this. Why isn't it him?"
The redhead's eyes flicked around the room then settled on the face on the wall. Lisbon smiled as they did so. "Because the face is on the wrong wall," Van Pelt said with clear conviction to Partridge with a smirk. "Red John makes certain he makes his mark where whoever finds the body sees the mark first but in this case the face is behind the door so when you open the door you see the body first instead."
"Precisely," Lisbon said, some pride in her tone at her team member.
"Hmm," Partridge snorted as he made his way out of the room after a moment. Both women nodded to each other silently in victory. "He gives me the creeps," Van Pelt said as Lisbon began to examine the body.
"Yeah, me too," she admitted. The woman lying on the bed was certainly beautiful. Or had been. Long blonde hair and long tanned legs met Lisbon in a photo beside the bed. Beside it the same woman lay with matted hair, knife marks puncturing her abdomen and throat. "I'm sorry," Lisbon whispered with absolute sincerity. "I'm going to find who did this to you," she added.
After a deep sigh she turned to Van Pelt who was hovering at the doorway. "It's definitely not him," Lisbon said in a louder voice. "Knife marks are a poor imitation. Rushed."
"Rigsby said she and her husband had separate bedrooms," Van Pelt said as she glanced around the room, decorated in pinks and floral tones. "Looks like they definitely had their own space."
"Yeah, looks like it," Lisbon agreed. "Anything stolen?"
"Don't know yet. She had a lot of jewellery by the look of it, hard to tell if anything's been taken."
Lisbon turned back to the woman on the bed for a second to check something before she spoke again. "Get photographs of all the jewellery you can find in the house." She paused, swallowed before she said the next words. "Has the husband been questioned yet?"
Van Pelt shook her head. "Not really. At least not by us. After giving his statement to the uniformed officers he's said next to nothing. I tried when I got here but-"
"It's okay, Grace," Lisbon said, "I'll take care of it." As she was brushing past her she asked, "Has he asked for a lawyer?"
Van Pelt shook her head. "No, not that I know of."
Lisbon bit the inside of her cheek and nodded. "Okay. Bring me those photographs when you get them, I'll be downstairs. After that head back to Headquarters and start trawling through her phone records. Look for anyone with a history of violence and find out who the last person to speak to her was. Talk to them, find out what her mood was, if she was frightened, upset, whatever."
"Sure, boss. Speaking of that her cell phone hasn't been recovered. Strange, huh?"
"Yeah, that is interesting. Track the GPS, find out where it is."
"Will do. There was an address book found too," Van Pelt commented. "I'll go through that as well."
"Good, yeah, thanks Van Pelt."
After confirming to Minelli the killer definitely wasn't Red John on this occasion she took a deep breath as she was a few steps away from Patrick Jane. He still sat in exactly the same position he was in when she arrived but his shoulders were now slumped forward in the white shirt he wore. He seemed oblivious to everything going on around him as people ducked in and out from the decking to take or receive phone calls. She nodded to a uniformed officer nearby whose job it seemed was to keep an eye on him.
She asked him quietly, "Has he said anything?"
"Hasn't spoken a word these past two hours, ma'am. Just a nod or shake of the head when he's been asked anything."
"He hasn't asked to call anyone, friend or..."
"No one, Agent Lisbon."
"Okay, Officer..." she glanced at his name tag, "Young." A beat later, "Can you make a cup of tea and bring it out? Make it sweet."
He frowned at her immediately.
"Looks like he's still in shock. You do know how to make hot tea, yes?"
"Thank you," she nodded as she took a couple of steps away from him and stood at the patio doors.
She could make out his side profile now as he stared at a spot in the distance. She saw the magnificent ocean view he was looking at now she was nearer. Closer up, his face was a little more weathered than she remembered with some fine lines along his forehead as he frowned, his frame a little broader in the shoulders, hair a darker colour of blond but still in curls, his skin more bronzed from the sun. Her heart picked up at the vision before her. He was still as beautiful as she recalled even without the dazzling smile that was almost a permanent feature when she remembered him. Now she was on the verge of talking to him she didn't know how to begin, lapsing into the awkward and inexperienced teenager she was when she had first met him. Did she call him Patrick? Mr Jane? Panic rose in her for a moment. Maybe he wouldn't remember her after all. She forced herself to take the two steps forward required. A chair sat near the bench and she pulled it over so she sat beside him. He didn't flinch, didn't make any kind of action or reaction that he was aware of her sudden presence at his side.
"Um...Mr...Patrick?" she said quietly.
She noticed a blink of his eyes, his frown deepening as he turned his head towards her. Sea green eyes met her and she took an intake of breath at their intensity, still the blue green colour she recalled. He said nothing but stared at her as his frown deepened, uncomprehending the sight in front of him.
She cleared her dry throat. "Patrick...do you remem-"
"Teresa?" he replied through a long breath.
She smiled softly, nodded. "Hey."
He shook his head, looked at his hands that were shaking as his chest began to rise and fall rapidly. Maybe she should have let Cho take the lead after all. He looked like he was about to have a panic attack. He'd come home to one shock and now she'd inflicted another one on him. "This isn't real," he muttered to his knees that were trembling. "This isn't real." He kept repeating the words over and over.
Just then Officer Young appeared with the tea, frowning when he saw the man in front of him. "Shall I get the EMTs, Agent?" he asked her.
"No," Lisbon said, glancing at Jane as she took the cup from him. "Not yet at least."
"Patrick," she tried again. "It is real. It's me...I'm a-"
"Cop," he said as he suddenly stared back at her before lapsing into silence again. This time his eyes stayed trained on her face.
She nodded, "Yeah, that's right." She smiled warmly at him again. "Just like I always wanted to be." She pushed the tea under his nose when she noticed his breathing had relaxed. "Drink this. You're in shock."
He shook his head. "I...I don't drink tea. Just keep it for readings."
"It'll help," she said softly. "Please."
He stared at the cup and then back to her face. "It's really you, Teresa?" he whispered.
She shrugged, a little misty eyed herself, "Yeah. Now drink," she ordered.
He took the cup from her hands and as their fingers touched she blushed immediately as his shook as he held it. He held her gaze as he took a first sip, grimacing slightly at the sweetness.
After a few more sips she noticed him relax his shoulders slightly but his eyes were still penetrating her face as he drank.
"Thank you," he said as he passed the cup back to her when he'd finished. He cleared his throat. "You're...you're working on my wife's murder?" he said in more of a controlled manner.
"I am," she said. "Actually I work for the CBI, Patrick-"
"I did it," he interrupted. He took a deep breath and fixed her with a stern gaze. "I killed my wife, Teresa."
A/N: So there is the first chapter (couldn't resist a cliffie!), it was really just setting the scene for the events that will unfold but hope you enjoyed it in any case. There's a long way to go and much to be explained...Would love to know if you enjoyed it.