"This is probably one of the most obsolete meetings I've ever attended, and I was a psychic medium," Patrick Jane complained mildly, straightening his vest.
"Stop acting so superior, Jane. You know you're looking forward to this," Teresa Lisbon said, rolling her eyes, and turning to glare at a hummer as it cut her off.
"I'm not acting superior. I am superior. You couldn't survive without me," he retorted, smiling. "That was a red light," he added, turning in his seat to watch a small blue car slow down dramatically.
"It was not. That was yellow," she said, grinning slightly.
"It was red. Did you see that car almost hit us?" Jane argued.
"You're lying. Don't change the subject. I said you're going to this meeting, and you're going to do as you're told. No tricks," she said sternly.
"Tricks? I'm insulted. I don't do 'tricks'. Children's entertainers do tricks. Dogs do tricks. Skateboards do tricks. I do something completely different."
"You know what I mean. You're here to teach others how to do what you do."
"One can't be taught how to be observant. It's not that simple," he said, turning his face away from Lisbon and staring out the window. Lisbon gave him a curious look, but didn't say anything else.
They arrived exactly on time, without a moment to spare. To Lisbon's surprise, Jane rushed out of the car, grabbing her hand and practically dragging her inside. Also a surprise, a balloon of pleasure expanded in her chest. His hand was very soft, but not feminine soft. Just soft, in a happy way.
"Why are we running?" she said as they burst through the doors.
"I saw, some- something," he said between breaths, still yanking her through a throng of confused people who parted reluctantly and with shocked or angry sounds. "Get your gun. Ready to shoot." Just then, he stopped, and pointed to a fleeing figure down a side corridor. "Follow him!" he said, his tone urgent. She didn't even think to be insulted at his demand. There was something in his voice that kept her from questioning what was going on. She nodded, and ran after the figure.
He let Lisbon run after the man, or woman. The attacker. He'd seen shadows on pulled blinds over a window. A shadow clearly attacking another. Even as he ran down the hall toward the room he'd seen, he was reviewing the assault in his head.
The attacker had been swinging a knife. From what Jane had seen, the man was experienced with knife fighting, while the victim wasn't. The victim had done what any person (a person ignorant of how to defend oneself) would: curled up, covered his or her head, and tried to stagger away.
He slid to a stop outside the room and yanked open the door, once again wondering why he had such an aversion to guns and didn't carry one himself. There was a chance that the runner had been the victim. A small chance, but a chance nonetheless. It only took one mistake.
Inside was a young girl, still loosely in a fetal position on the floor. Jane noticed, with dismay, that there was too much blood on her clothes and on the carpet. He'd been too late. She was dead. His shoulders drooped, and he allowed himself a moment of agony- she looked a lot like his daughter. More so from the blood all over herself.
Clearing his head of his pain, he yanked out his phone and keyed in a number.
"Hello?" Cho answered.
"Hello. It's Jane," he said, making to sit on a chair, but then noticing that it was spattered with blood, like almost everything else in the room.
"Jane? I thought you and Lisbon were at a meeting," Cho replied, confused.
"We're supposed to be. I don't think we're going to go, though," he said gleefully. "Something's come up."
"Oh no. Lisbon was hell-bent on showing everyone that you aren't the loose-cannon, mad genius that they think you are. I told her you wouldn't want to go, but she pretty much said she was going to get you there or die trying."
"She's close. Someone else died instead, and she's chasing the murderer."
"What?? Can't you go anywhere without a crime?" Cho said, a bit amazed.
"Apparently not." Jane's voice rang with a strange sorrow, and his face sagged slightly.
The Next Day…
Jane walked into the office, late as always. It was not a good day to be late.
"Jane! If you're late again, I'll do everything in my power to keep you from fieldwork and in the filing room for so long, you'll forget what the sun looks like!" Lisbon snapped. Jane let out a barely concealed chuckle. Lisbon was obviously stressed out. Her hair was in a messy ponytail, and one shoe was untied. She'd missed a button on her jacket, too.
"Missed a button," he said indifferently, walking past her and picking up the open file on her desk. "Rhea Vann… seventeen years old… we've got her sister in for questioning?" Jane said, flipping through. Lisbon nodded.
"She's very strange. I can't figure her out, so you've got to do better," she said, taking the file and leading him to the interrogation room.
"Azalia Vann, fifteen years old, was very close to Rhea," he said, still reading the file over Lisbon's shoulder.
"Not Azalia. Ah-zue-lee-ah. Azulia," Lisbon corrected him.
"She's very pretty. Doesn't look much like her sister, though," Jane said, peering at the picture. "Strange hair color. Is it dyed?"
"That's what I said. It's natural. I told you she's different, and not just in appearance and name. She looks different face-to-face." They turned the corner to see Rigby, Cho, and Van Pelt standing outside the one-way-window.
"About time you got here. Nobody can get to her. She's pretty unique," Van Pelt said, but Jane wasn't listening. He stepped past them and stared at the girl inside the room, sitting with her hands in her lap and her head down. Her face was curtained with long, straight, auburn-red-gold hair. She was small, but not sickly so. He could see that her arms were whipcord strong, and her hands were small, too, almost childlike.
"Jane? Are you even listening?" Lisbon's voice broke through his daze.
"Yes, of course," he said without missing a beat, turning away from Azulia.
"Oh, for goodness sake," Lisbon said, thrusting Azulia's file into his hands. He flipped it open and read quickly. Runs cross country, gets straight A's… goes to church, has many friends but no apparent best-friends, gets along well with everyone, reads often... enjoys photography, swimming, and music…He nodded. She fit her file, at least. Cross country would explain her strength, and the way she was sitting showed that she wasn't a very chatty, peppy person. But if she did run cross country, why was she so pale? She wasn't white-pale, but not tanned at all.
"I guess she's more of a listener than a talker, but she's very good with words. You should've been here when Rigby tried to talk to her- within two minutes, she was the one asking questions and he was answering," Cho said. Rigby made a face at him.
"Because you did so much better," he shot back.
"The point is she's tough. We can't crack her, but you should be able to," Lisbon said, cutting off Cho's retort.
"I think she might be a bit autistic," Van Pelt put in. Jane turned to give her a questioning look.
"'A bit autistic'? What do you mean by that?" he asked. Van Pelt blushed slightly.
"It's just an idea I had," she said defensively. When nobody said anything, she continued. "Well… she hasn't looked anyone right in the eyes yet. She's always looking at the floor, or above their head, or at their mouth. She doesn't give straight answers, and doesn't appear to understand the questions very well. Plus, she just seems to be only half in this world, and half somewhere else."
"Her sister just died," Cho pointed out. "Of course she'd seem distant. She's probably in shock. And if she's a bit autistic, then how is she a straight A student?"
"No, I see her point," Jane mused. "She should be past the shock stage by now. Also, I know an autistic man, and he's a genius."
"We can debate this later. She probably won't get home, and we don't have a right to keep her against her will. She isn't a suspect, is she?" Rigby said.
"At this point, yes. She hasn't told us where she was last night, and we don't have anyone else. I just wish I'd caught the murderer last night, and it could've ended there," Lisbon said.
"If she's a cross country runner, that would explain how she got away so fast, too," Van Pelt added.
"I thought cross country was long-distance," Cho said, "not sprinting."
"No, cross country runners can sprint, too. They do at the start and at the end. My niece runs. It's amazing how fast they can go after three miles. I've seen some of them sprint faster after three miles than others can in a flat-out 100-meter dash," Van Pelt said.
"I'm going in now," Jane said loudly, ending the conversation. He opened the door and slid in. Azulia didn't look up at the loud click the door made.
"Hello. My name is Patrick-," he began.
"Jane, I know," she said. Her voice wasn't high, but it wasn't low, either. She spoke with the usual teenager drawl. He was relieved to find something normal about her.
"Yes. How did you know?" he asked. For the first time, she straightened up and looked at him, disproving Van Pelt's theory. Her eyes were a curious color, like light maple syrup, or dark honey. They almost matched her hair, he noticed, as she brushed it away from her face. Her eyes seemed to glow like molten gold in the dim light. A smattering of freckles crossed the bridge of her nose and spread across her cheekbones.
"They're talking about you right now. Lisbon is being very cynical," Azulia said.
"You can see through the glass?" he asked, surprised and confused. She laughed in a clear alto.
"No, of course not. I was just making an educated guess. I bet they've stopped talking about you and are listening in now," she said with a grin. She waved at the mirror-window. "Rigby mentioned you. And my sister showed me a video online of you once." Her voice grew sorrowful.
"Yes, your sister. Do you know what she was doing at the meeting last night?"
"She wasn't at the meeting. That building isn't just for investigator meetings." Jane blinked at Azulia's bold retort.
"What was she doing there, then?" he tried again.
"She had a date with her boyfriend, Chris. Are you and Lisbon dating?" she said suddenly, her eyes bright with mischief and curiosity.
"No. Where did you get that idea?" Jane said, keeping his surprise out of his words and off his face. "Rigby?"
"A little. I'm good at seeing connections. And reading people's eyes. When I said her name, I was watching your eyes," she admitted, grinning.
"Well, you've made a mistake. Eyes aren't as easy to read."
"No, they aren't. Otherwise you wouldn't need to resort to looking at people's hands and faces and posture, or pretending to hypnotize people, or other tricks." Her grin became more of a smirk.
"Did Lisbon tell you to say that? About tricks?"
"I don't do tricks. We had a conversation about that last night." He realized he was way off topic.
"We're off topic, aren't we? You should probably start interrogating," Azulia said.
"I like to get to know who I'm interrogating first," he said in a brilliant save. "But you're right. I should really start." He took a deep breath. Lisbon was right- this girl was going to be tough. Maybe he'd finally met his match.
No, of course not.
I'd like at least eight reviews before I post the next chapter. Thanks!