Disclaimer: I own nothing except for a dirty mind that interferes with my original writing plans.
I don't really know how this story ended up the way it is, it started out as a perfectly innocent one-shot. Blame the heat, indeed. There will be a second chapter, although I'm still undecided about the rating of it...
I can't be held responsible for my actions.
Really, I can't.
Blame the heat! That damn sticky, nerve-racking heat. And the guy who thought inventing changing cubicles in the size of mouse holes was a brilliant idea. Blame the heat and the confined space and, most of all, blame those blue eyes looking at me provokingly and those full lips grinning at me cheekily. They make me do things that I normally wouldn't do. Things that are wrong on so many levels that it's not even funny. But still, despite better judgement, I am acting like a hormone-driven, flustered adolescent.
Finally giving up any resistance, I allow my eyes to meet the blue ones and let my hands pull up my top and strip down to my bra.
Earlier that day...
A couple of minutes later than normally, I walk through the main entrance of the CBI building. I didn't have trouble deciding what to wear since 9th grade, when I tried to impress a guy in my science class. This morning, the mundane task of taking clothes out of the closet and putting them on, proved to be almost unfeasible.
The corridors have the atmosphere of a tropical vacation resort instead of a place where the best criminologists of the state crack complicated cases. Summer dresses and halter-neck tops and shorts as far as the eye can see. I am no exception: my outfit consists of a turquoise knee-length skirt and a simple top with tiny, colorful butterflies on white background.
Lacking my usual pants & shirt attire makes me feel pretty uncomfortable, but desperate times call for desperate measures. There's no way that I'll suffer today as I did the last two days, even if that means having to wear skimpy clothes at work. Passing a stout woman in tight leggings with leopard print and a matching top, I have to say that I probably don't even do so badly in comparison.
For five days already the town is plagued by a persistent heat wave, worse than any I ever experienced since living here. Three days ago, the office stopped being an oasis of pleasant temperatures when the air conditioning system of the whole building broke down. Two days ago things got even worse when the mechanics managed to get the system working again, but only to the extent that it incessantly produces warm instead of cold air. Repairmen of different companies came and went, but so far all of them failed to improve our situation.
I can't cope very well with heat. Not only do I hate sweating, hot temperatures also have very disturbing side-effects on my thought process and body awareness. The first problem should be less severe today since I'm dressed lightly. The second one is a whole different story though.
Since the beginning of the heat wave I am unable to properly focus on my work. Against my will, my mind shuts itself down and I get lost in daydreams. Sensual, salacious daydreams, as a matter of fact. I can't count how many times in the last three days I had to ask people to repeat sentences because I totally missed that they were even talking to me. Or how many times someone had to tap me on the shoulder or repeatedly call my name to jolt me out of a daydream and attract my attention.
I'm a slave to the heat and there's nothing I can do about it.
To make things even worse, yesterday morning Patrick Jane earned himself a recurring role in my fantasies. It's not even really his fault. He did nothing more than sitting across from me and grinning his typical grin when the phone brought me back to reality after another mental trip to a world of carnal pleasures. I blushed, of course. Not blushing wasn't an option since I was certain that he knew exactly what had occupied my mind before the phone rang.
After that, my daydreams should have stopped due to embarrassment. I desperately want them to stop. But, I have no such luck. They only get more vivid each time and the vague, faceless masculinity in them is replaced by Patrick Jane's face. And hands. And tongue, for that matter.
Before my thoughts can stray any further, I notice Jane on the other end of the hall. He's leaning against the wall behind the metal detector, holding two to-go cups from a coffee shop in his hands and smiling at me.
I stare at him incredulously. It's not the first time that he's waiting there for me in the morning and it's also not the first time that he provides me with coffee, but today - amongst all the summery birds of paradise - he seems very out of place in his grey three-piece suit.
"Good morning, Lisbon." He greets me cheerfully when I stand in front of him and hands me one of the paper cups. "Iced Caramel Macchiato for you and Iced Tea Latte for me, to help us brave the heat."
As annoying as he is most of the time, he definitely has his sweet moments. Although, the way he winks at me... Maybe mentioning the heat was a dig at my obvious trouble dealing with it? I decide to ignore it.
"Thanks for the coffee. So, what's with the suit? Didn't you get the memo? Dress regulations are temporarily suspended until further notice. You must be sweating under all those layers of clothing."
Gleamy beads of sweat, glistering on his chest and abs. I bite my lower lip to banish the image.
"Nonsense." He dismisses my statement with a wave of his hand. "It takes higher temperatures than that to make me sweat. You look lovely though in summer clothes."
The drinking straw in my cup of iced latte suddenly seems to be the most interesting thing in the world as I avoid to look at him and try to hide my flustered face. "Thanks."
As we wait for the elevator, he stands closer to me as necessary, making my skin crawl. In a good, exciting way. "So, Lisbon, tell me. You really were looking forward to get a chance to check out my bare arms and legs today, huh?"
The nerve of that guy! "I only don't want you to get a heatstroke at work. Too much paperwork to deal with if you collapse here." I bark and dart an angry glance at him in order to shut him up, but it only seems to fuel his boorishness.
"I'm sorry that I let you down today. Really, I'll make up for it tomorrow by wearing clothes which accentuate the relevant parts of my body. "
Where the heck is that damn elevator? I frantically hit the button several times. If it wouldn't equal a suicide attempt in this heat, I'd take the stairs to get away from Jane. Finally! My silent plea for other people to join us on our ride up go unanswered. Of course. But at least I can escape to the solitude of my office in a few seconds.
Once inside the elevator, Jane begins to take off his jacket. "What are you doing?"
"It really is kind of hot in here, isn't it?" Smiling broadly, he unbuttons his vest and doffs it, then starts undoing his shirt.
Damn. I force myself to recall details of recent homicides that I worked on, in an attempt to keep my thoughts busy and distract them from the presence of Jane's half-naked torso.
When we finally arrive at our floor, I dare to cast a glance in Jane's direction. I shouldn't have. The jacket and vest and shirt are a crumpled mess in his hands and no longer cover his upper body. There is nothing to shield my eyes and my unbalanced mind from the stimulative view of his abs and pecs and muscled arms.
I flee like a hunted deer, out of the elevator and past a very perplexed Van Pelt, until I reach my safe office. Before I slam the door shut, I hear Van Pelt's querying voice and Jane's delighted snicker.
Screw you, Jane.
Not only will I never get that image of his naked chest out of my mind, I also just acted like an idiot in front of a subordinate. I wonder how Jane explains our behavior to Grace. He was practically naked and I was running away from him – this doesn't bode well for him or myself, no matter how you look at it.
God, I hope he doesn't plan to walk around the office shirtless all day. Cautiously I lift one slat of the closed shutters that cover the glass wall of my office and peer out. Jane is talking to Cho. More accurately, Jane is buttoning his shirt while talking to Cho. At least now I can be less scared to leave the office in case I have to.
I take a seat at my desk and try to get some piled up paperwork done, all the while reprimanding myself when my thoughts again and again drift and enter dangerous territory.
There is a solution to my dilemma: We need a case. A gruesome, complex case to keep the team and especially myself occupied. I know, it is wrong to wish for people doing nasty things to each other to provide us with work, but I really need to get out in the field and be able to do something other than boring report-writing and filing. Normally the crime rate rises simultaneously with the temperatures, but the heat of the last days seems to have erased all criminal energy of the Californians.
After trying, more or less successfully, to do some desk work for nearly two hours, the sound of the fax machine is a welcome distraction. An incoming fax. A case? I jump up excitedly to read the document, but unfortunately its content is less than thrilling.
Great, just what I need now. The prospect of more naked Jane skin.
The fax in my hand, I leave my office to inform the team of our task for this afternoon. As soon as they spot me, they get up and bombard me with questions. Even Jane cares enough to rise from his couch.
"Do we have a case?"
"Where do we go?"
"How many victims?"
They all want to get out of the office as much as I do, it's understandable. But still, they get on my nerves when they are all babbling at once without giving me the chance to answer any of their questions.
"Guys. Guys!" That's better. Looks of expectancy and silence. "It's not really a case, sorry. An agent of the Riverside Field Office was pushed into a lake by a suspect and drowned."
"So we investigate his death?" Rigsby asks in a hopeful voice.
"No, it already happened last week with two other agents witnessing it. The guy got caught right away and is meanwhile probably already residing in a nice, air-conditioned cell of the state prison."
I silence their murmurs with a dapper wave of my hand. "Yes, I know, life isn't fair. And it gets even worse. Due to the misfortune of this one agent, all teams are obligated to undergo special swimming training. Our appointed time is this afternoon at 4 PM sharp, so I suggest we all leave her at 3, go home to get our swimming gear and then meet at the pool. "
"Go swimming? Pretty decent task for this weather." Cho remarks and Rigsby and Van Pelt nod their approval. Only Jane looks a little moody.
Oh, right. I forgot to give them the bad news. "Well, it's not the swimming that concerns me. But the whole spectacle takes place at the indoor pool on Orchard Avenue."
That for sure puts them in poor spirits, just as I expected.
"What's wrong with that pool?" Jane is so clueless sometimes when it comes to stuff that any regular CBI agent knows.
"The place is ancient. And rotten." I explain. "Whenever I am forced to go there for a course, I'm afraid to get athlete's foot or contract even worse diseases. You can't use the showers, except you like to shower with rusty water. The floor tiles are cracked. The electricity supply is a nightmare."
"I'm surprised nobody ever got electrocuted there." Cho chimes in.
"You know what also sucks?" Van Pelt contributes her share to illustrate the horrors of the Orchard Avenue swimming pool for Jane." They have only four changing cubicles. Four! Right after starting here I had to go there and take a course with seventeen other agents. I ended up changing clothes behind a bush in front of the building."
Rigsby's eyes nearly pop out of his head after Grace's last statement, but before he can say anything, Jane speaks up.
"Well, good thing then that his time you're going there only as a group of four." He turns around, undoubtedly to walk back to the couch, but I block his way.
"Not so fast, Jane. I count five."
"Oh come on, you can't be serious. I'm a consultant, not an agent. I consult, I don't hunt dangerous suspects who push people in lakes." He flashes me a smile and tries to make his way past me, but I don't let him.
"How many times has a suspect or relative of a suspect given you a bloody nose?"
"That? Tiffs. Bagatelles. Not worth squabbling about." He rejects my justified argument with a shrug of his shoulders and is surprised that I still don't let him pass.
"In the future, do you want to accompany us when we go out in the field?" Of course he does, he'd burst with curiosity if we'd let him stay behind in the office and deprive him of the excitements of field work.
"Of course I do. You'd be lost without me out there."
"Then you're in danger of being pushed into a lake as much as any of us. Considering your habits of annoying suspects and driving me insane, you are even in more danger than Van Pelt, Rigsby, Cho and I combined."
I can tell that I won and I also see that he attempts to hide how much surrendering troubles him.
"Fine, I'll go." It's actually pretty cute how he tries not to pout. "Even though you only force me to go because you want to see me in Speedos."
Speedos? He could have mentioned swimming trunks, but instead he chose to infest my mind with the imagine of tight, skimpy Speedos clinging to his wet, toned-up body while he exits the pool.
I swallow. Hard. A flush creeps up my neck and settles on my cheeks. I can feel a droplet of sweat form near my collarbone and slowly begin its journey down my body. I mentally count from five to zero before I dare to glance at Jane.
He isn't grinning smugly at me as I thought he would. Instead his eyes are apparently trailing the way of that single bead of perspiration down my neck until it disappears between my breast and under my shirt. Only then he looks up again, with a strange expression on his face that I fail to interpret. He clears his throat, but doesn't say anything.
Could it be that Patrick Jane, master manipulator and overly confident exemplar of the male species, is embarrassed because I caught him staring at my breasts? Highly unlikely, but what other explanation could there be?
I need to hide inside my office until it's time to leave for the pool. Staying here in the presence of weirdly acting Jane is too surreal. But of course I can't retreat without having the last word. Well, the last word before Jane stuns me into silence with some witty remark, as usually when I try to get the last word.
"I don't care about your Speedos, Jane. You can skinny-dip, if that's your preference. Whatever."
I walk over to my office, awaiting his reply. Nothing. As I reach my door, I turn around to find Jane settling down on the couch. I think that's the first time in all those years, that I had the last word when I attempted to have it in a conversation with him.
Somehow, the victory doesn't taste as sweet as it should. It feels really strange. Stranger even than imagining Jane in Speedos makes me feel. For the second time in a day I slam my door shut.
This time it's not as a reaction to his actions, but because the lack of any action is damn frustrating as well.