Still Seeing Red
This was no ordinary dream.
In point of fact, he didn't have ordinary dreams. Hadn't for many years, and even before that, his dreams had been wild, adventuresome, and dark. Very reflective of his active mind and over-active imagination. Five years ago, they had become nightmares, and sleep became something to be avoided at all costs. He had found refuge on a brown leather couch amidst the white noise of office life. Day or night, there was always some sound, drifting conversations, constant keystrokes, phones and chatter. His sleep there had been light, dreamless and dependable, and he was certain that it was the only way he had managed to cope without nightly REM. He had never felt refreshed but at least he never dreamed.
This was different.
He was trapped in a small room made entirely of wood. The air was smoky and sharp, it was desperately hot and his fingertips were burning, but what was perhaps most disturbing of all, was the fact that he was a woman and that somehow he knew her and he didn't seem to mind.
Yes, no ordinary dream at all.
Someone was nudging him. "Jane?"
He opened one eye.
Two green ones were peering at him, brows drawn in, a half-smile tugging into the owner's cheek. "Jane, are you alright?"
He swung his legs over the side of the couch and sat forward, blinking and rubbing his face with his hands. He glanced around at the office. It was early morning, a few agents having spent the night working, some ready for home, others just coming on shift. He looked back at Lisbon.
She had been inordinately concerned for him all week, since he had narrowly escaped becoming birdseed by a parked van full of explosives. So, he had bumped his head a little harder than normal So, he had lost his sight for three days. He was fine, he was sharp. She was such a worrywart. If it wasn't so patronizing, it might have been sweet.
"What time is it?" he asked.
"I had a dream."
She pursed her lips. She knew him well enough to know that was odd. "Good or bad?"
"Bad I think. I was a woman."
"Oh." Try as she might, she couldn't hide it. Her grin changed into a smirk and threatened to take over her face. "A woman."
"Do you often dream about being a woman?"
Now he grinned back at her. "Well, if I did, I would be more than able to solve many of the world's greatest mysteries, now wouldn't I?"
"Really? Such as?"
"Well, why do good women love bad men? Which is better, to be desired or respected? What was the deal with Napoleon and Josephine? The fascination with chocolate. The key to the female org—"
"Wait! I get it. I get it. So it was a bad dream because you were a woman, and you weren't solving any great mysteries."
"No, it was a bad dream because I was a woman and I was trapped somewhere in a dark smoky room and I was afraid."
"I think I was Kristina Frye."
"Kristina Frye?" Lisbon snorted. "The psychic?"
"The woman who makes a good but dishonest living pretending to be a psychic, yes."
Lisbon grinned. "Don't dreams reflect subconscious fears or desires?"
"Then why would you be Kristina Frye?"
"Now that's a scary question." He grinned back. "I need a cup of tea."
"Coffee's on, water's boiling."
"Thank you, Lisbon."
"You're welcome, Jane."
He rose from the couch, smoothed one hand, then the other along his waist-coat. "That's a very nurturing, womanly thing to do."
"Shut up." And she whacked him on the arm.
"And that's a rather masculine, men's-club kind of thing to do. Are you conflicted, Lisbon? Has this job threatened to overpower and subjugate your feminine self?"
"I have a gun."
And together they headed to the kitchenette, where the liquid gold was waiting.
He was sitting at his desk now, a rare occurrence as his desk was usually piled high with boxes, files and books. It was really more a storage unit, as he regularly did most of his 'work' on the couch. But this morning it was the desk and he was leaning back in his chair, feet up, a tower of hardcovers at his side. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, the Feminine Mystique, The Wisdom of Menopause, to name a few.
Lisbon's eyes flicked from the couch to the reader to the couch again.
The couch itself was entirely covered in books.
She shook her head.
"That's a lot of books," she muttered, half to herself.
"Hm?" He looked up from the pages.
"When did you get all those books? I didn't see you go out."
"Oh, I didn't." He flashed her a brilliant smile. "I called the library, spoke to a lovely young woman named Merle. I told her I was doing some research on understanding the heart of a woman, asked if she could help me with some book selections and she very kindly offered to bring a few down on her coffee break."
Lisbon shook her head, imagining a lonely spinster librarian carting up truckloads of books, just to make an impression on one eligible widower named Patrick Jane.
"You're a cad. I just spoke to Minelli. Two detectives are on their way up. They want to talk to you about a case."
"A case? What case?"
"Minelli didn't say, so don't go anywhere. Got it?"
He waved a hand in the direction of the book-laden couch.
"Good," she snorted and disappeared into her office.
He watched her go, grinning, then went back to his books.
Detectives Miguel Ferrare and John Gustavson showed up just before noon, looking like they would much rather be anywhere other than the California Bureau of Investigations. They were dressed like every other plainclothes detectives in the state, dark trousers, light shirt, ties askew, sleeves rolled up with the heat. But other than that, they were most different. Ferrare was short, heavy set and middle aged, with a great handle bar moustache adorning his face. Gustavson on the other hand, was quite tall, thin and very blonde, with brows and lashes the colour of snow. In fact, he looked almost like an albino, and Jane took an instant dislike to him.
To both of them, actually, but then again, there was nothing new in that.
They stood in Lisbon's office, she seated at her desk, Jane practically sitting on it, arms folded, eyes dancing, waiting.
Ferrare was senior officer. He had the file.
"Mr. Jane? Mr. Patrick Jane?"
Jane glanced at Lisbon, grinned, turned back to the detectives.
"You're not an agent?"
"Ah no. Consultant."
Ferrare looked at Lisbon. She bristled, knowing exactly what the man was thinking.
"And what do you consult with, Mr. Jane?"
"Oh, lots of things."
Lisbon leaned forward. "Mr. Jane has unusually good powers of observation. He brings an unique perspective to our investigations, and has proved helpful on several occasions."
"Thank you, Lisbon." Jane grinned at the detectives. "I'm helpful."
Ferrare grunted, looked back at his notes.
"Do you know a woman by the name of Kristina Frye?"
Now it was Lisbon's turn to glance at him. Jane's grin disappeared.
"Now that was unexpected," he muttered, blinking. "My, my…"
Ferrare eyed him suspiciously. "I repeat, do you know –"
"Yes," said Jane firmly. "Yes, I know her. She was a suspect in a case we were investigating several months ago."
Lisbon leaned forward again. "She wasn't a suspect, Jane. She was…"
"Helpful?" Jane looked like he had just bitten into a lemon.
"Yes, helpful. She wasn't really a suspect."
"I suspected her."
"And you were wrong, weren't you?"
He scowled, but said nothing.
Ferrare grunted again. "Have you been in contact with her since?"
"No phone calls, meetings, appointments…sessions?"
Jane raised his brows. "Sessions?"
Ferrare glanced at his partner, then back at Jane. "If she really was…helpful…in a previous case, Mr. Jane, then I'm quite sure you are aware of her profession."
"Fake psychic, yes I'm well aware."
"Fake psychic?" Gustavson now.
Lisbon leaned forward a third time. "Mr. Jane is skeptical of people claiming psychic abilities. He prefers… facts."
Jane grinned at her, and again, turned back to the detectives. "So no. No sessions. Sorry."
"And no phone calls?"
"No. Never. Why?"
Ferrare sighed. "Ms. Frye has been missing for 3 days. We have been going through her appointment book to talk to every one she has listed, and she has you listed as a regular contact."
"Me?" Jane frowned. "That's weird."
Ferrare passed over a black daytimer. Opened it to the middle of the month. Contact Patrick Jane written and highlighted in yellow.
Jane shook his head. "That's really weird."
"It's like that every month for 8 months. You sure she never called."
"Cell phone? Home phone? Work?"
"No, no and no."
"Were the two of you ever involved romantically?"
"Gaah!" Jane recoiled at the very thought. "No and no and never!"
Gustavson grinned. It wasn't a pleasant sight. He had small teeth and big pink gums. "Why not? She is an attractive woman."
"For someone who claims to talk to dead people, sure."
"And you've never claimed to talk to dead people, Mr. Jane?"
Jane raised his brows again, unflapped. "Hence the term 'fake' psychic, Detective."
"And you don't talk to dead people any more."
"I've never talked to dead people, Detective."
"So Ms. Frye's never contacted you in any way over these past few months?" Ferrare now, almost bored.
Jane paused, cocked his head, and Lisbon could tell he was debating whether or not to tell them. He stared off, thinking. "What is the date of that last entry?"
He thought for a while longer. "Nah." Looked up. "No, she has never contacted me in any way over these past few months."
Gustavson again. "You didn't seem sure there, pal."
"I'm not your pal. You said she's been missing for three days?"
"Yeah. One of her clients called it in when she missed three appointments in a row, and wasn't answering her phone."
"What do you think has happened to her?"
"No clue. Probably run off with a big stash of money and a young boytoy."
Jane grinned. "Sounds like her alright."
Lisbon whacked him.
He leaned back across the desk to look at her, arms still folded across his chest. "Maybe we should look into it?"
She shrugged. "It's not a state case."
"I'll bet you five bucks it is."
She released a long breath. Unfortunately, he was usually right about such things. He made a lot of money from Cho and Rigsby that way. She glanced up at the detectives.
"Mind if we poke around a bit? Go over to her place, make some phone calls, that kind of stuff. I promise if we turn anything up, we'll hand it over to you."
"It's not a state case," Ferrare repeated. But then he grunted. "I'll be your go-to guy."
"Sure," she nodded.
He looked at Gustavson who shrugged.
"Okay, go crazy. Just keep us in the loop."
Jane brightened. "Oh, you'll be in the loop, alright. You'll be the focal point of the loop, the very middley bit of the loop. Kind of like the knot on the loop of a noose, you know, that little middley tight bit that either kills you or lets you go. You know, that bit. That's what you'll be."
The detectives stared at him.
"Good day, Agent Lisbon, Mr. Jane," said Ferrare, and they walked out of her office, leaving Jane and Lisbon in silence.
"Ah, I love that…" He grinned. "That was fun."
She was looking at him.
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"What am I going to say, Lisbon? "Oh yes, Mr. Mean Detective, I had a dream last night that I was her and I was in a dark scary wooden place and trying to get out. But no, I don't believe she's psychic, and by the way, neither am I?" Right. That sounds good. Very consultant-ish."
"Still, we can check it out, yeh?"
She grinned. "Yeh."
He slid off her desk and patted his belly. "Take out on the way? I'm starving."
And they left the office and headed for the Temple of Harmony of Kristina Frye.
End of Chapter 1