Author's Note: This was inspired by the cliché-busting thread posted by tromana at the jello forever message board (I will attempt to link this there later this afternoon). I'm not going to tell you which cliché I'm busting in advance because I'm still deluding myself and pretending it's not breathtakingly obvious. Oh, and pure and utter fluff.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Twenty for twenty
I walked into the CBI one Monday morning. After a weekend depressingly void of any significant interpersonal interaction I was thrilled for the start of the week. Even though I wasn't late I wasn't surprised to see that I was by no means the first person in the bullpen. Van Pelt was already at her computer, and I could see Rigsby's jacket tossed over the back of his chair although the agent himself was nowhere to be seen. Lisbon wasn't in her office but was talking to Cho, which wasn't all that interesting in and of itself, but what did catch my attention was that the conversation didn't appear to be work related; both agents looked far too amused. Lisbon said one last thing to Cho with a smile before she turned to greet me. "Morning Jane."
"Morning Lisbon. How are you this morning?"
"I'm fine. You?"
"Oh, fine, fine. Anything going on?" I asked casually.
"No more than usual. Should there be?" she replied with a shrug.
"Not that I know of. You and Cho seem to be particularly chatty today though. By anyone else's standards you're almost acting friendly."
Cho just snorted, and glanced at his boss, his expression both amused but also… challenging somehow … interesting…
She merely grinned and replied, "Jane, stop being such an irritating nuisance. If I want to see how a colleague's weekend went then that's certainly none of your business. Go find something productive to do."
She glanced back at Cho who gave her a single nod, before heading into her office. When she was gone I turned my attentions to the male agent, "So what's going on?"
"What do you mean?" Cho asked, not even looking up from his file.
"Between you and Lisbon."
"What do you think is going on?"
"Answering my question with a question won't throw me off you know."
"Of course not. Did it ever occur to you that after having worked with each other for almost five years we might occasionally exchange pleasantries?" Cho pointed out sensibly, but I wasn't fooled.
"Fine don't tell me."
"Whatever you say man."
Sadly, despite my original suspicions it didn't look like anything was going on. In fact, neither agent exhibited any kind of unusual behaviour for the next hour. So to compensate for the resulting boredom, I turned my attention to Van Pelt who was trying diligently to work at her computer. "So Grace," I asked innocently enough.
But Van Pelt was too used to me to be fooled, "Yes Jane," she replied with a sigh.
"How was your weekend?"
"It was fine. Uneventful, went shopping, did some housework, saw a movie. And you?"
"Oh fine. How was your date Friday night?"
That had the desired effect. Van Pelt blushed and looked away, although conspicuously not at Rigsby, whose head jerked up at her response.
Things were finally getting interesting. Unfortunately at that moment Lisbon walked back into the bullpen. "Jane stop harassing Van Pelt. You're just like the lone fly in a room that never stops buzzing until it gets swatted, an extremely aggravating pest. Anyways, we've got a case. Come on."
I admit I was disappointed. So far the day hadn't been much fun, and while Lisbon was by no means boring, currently she wasn't really paying attention to anything but the road. I decided to remedy that by abruptly changing the radio station in the car.
"Jane I was listening to that!" Lisbon cried.
"Why do you always get to choose the music?"
"I just left it on the station that was playing when we got in. If you're going to change the station could you at least give me a heads up?"
"Fine," I said. I waited until the song that was playing had finished before grinning at her, "Lisbon, may I please change the station now?"
She sighed, "Go ahead."
I spent the next 10 minutes switching between the stations manually, pausing any time anything that wasn't static came on. Finally she cracked and swatted at my hand. Luckily my reflexes were quick.
"God, you're exasperating enough to provoke a saint!"
"You said I could pick the music," I pointed out innocently.
"Fine," she said through gritted teeth, "just try and actually pick something would you?"
I grinned and nodded, but made sure to change the radio every five minutes like clockwork for the rest of the drive.
When we got to the crime scene, Lisbon barreled out of the car towards her team while I followed more quietly behind. "Watch out." Lisbon warned them as I approached. "Today he's being as insufferable as a toddler."
The rest of the team looked sympathetic. Cho even went so far as to pat her on the arm, before asking her the specifics of the drive. I just grinned and followed them to the actual crime scene. Irritating Lisbon was a game that never got old.
Well, not for me at least. I had to admit to myself about half an hour later that Lisbon didn't always seem to enjoy herself as much as I did. It seemed she, um…, strongly objected to my method of gathering information about the victim's workplace. She was voicing her objections now at what could only be referred to as a roar, while her team waited somewhat discretely in the background.
"JANE!" she bellowed. "Do you enjoy being the perpetual thorn in my side? Does it never occur to you that there are rules you have to follow? That you can't go around intimidating and badgering witnesses like an extraordinarily perceptive, but incredibly troublesome plague? That maybe, just maybe, locking our victim's employer in a supply closet while you ransack his store for information is not acceptable?"
When she paused for breath I decided to jump into the conversation, "Yes, but you forget, I found information that makes him look highly suspicious. Now we have a reason to take him in for questioning. And isn't that the goal here?" I asked with a twinkle in my eye. She didn't disappoint. I hadn't ever heard a human make a sound like that before.
"I DON'T CARE! How am I going to explain the inevitable lawsuit to Minelli? Don't blame me if you get suspended. You know what, never mind, this is your problem. If you want to act like an annoying idiot, an unbearable snoop, a liability of infinite proportions, a cretin set on this earth to torment me, and the bane of my existence then go ahead! See if I care! But you're dealing with Minelli! I'm not going to step in and save you this time!"
When she moved to apologize to the possibly guilty business owner I couldn't resist one more thing, "You know I'm right about him."
She paused, but didn't bother to turn around. I did hear her mutter "Arrogant jerk," to her team as she passed them.
While Rigsby and Van Pelt made vague expressions of sympathy Cho only said a single word, "Eight."
Lisbon nodded in response, while shooting the other man a small grin. Did the two agents have plans later that night? Well that was interesting. I wonder if she'd put anything in her datebook… Actually, given her mood it might be a better idea to search for Cho's.
Despite threatening to make me clean up my own mess Lisbon did manage to talk the victim's boss out of suing me by pointing out that if he did then what I had found in the back of one of his desk drawers would almost certainly become public knowledge. Faced with the choice of his wife finding out about the contents of a certain blue folder or helping with the investigation the poor man decided to cooperate, provided he didn't have to deal with me directly. He mentioned to Lisbon that he suspected some of his employees took part in some activities of questionable legality behind the store on their breaks, and named names.
Lisbon's mood had risen significantly with the addition of several new leads, so I found I couldn't resist needling her. Despite her continual attempts to maintain a perfect poker face the woman really has the most delightful facial expressions.
"I told you he knew more than he was saying," I pointed out by way of conversation as we watched the owner leave the building.
"You're ridiculously trying do you know that?" she asked me. In my own defence, I do know that. "Van Pelt, Rigsby, keep an eye on our local entrepreneur would you? Make sure he doesn't leave town. Cho, you're with me. We're going to interview the other employees."
"And me?" I asked feeling left out.
"Are you planning on trapping, or, for that matter, holding anybody else against their will in any way?" she asked.
"Not at the moment."
"Then you can come too."
So come I did. She and Cho were discussing the facts of the case and what order to visit the employees in question while I strolled behind, confident that between the two of them they'd work out the most logical and most efficient route. Really their minds were of quite a similar turn, and they were both excellent at their jobs. They just needed a bit of livening up every so often. I had decided to provide that service, purely as an act of charity of course.
I got in the passenger seat while Cho got in the back. I briefly considered resuming my radio high jinks, but Lisbon stopped me before I could start.
"Jane, you have exactly three minutes to decide on a station. I don't care which one, though you may consult Cho if you wish. After three minutes you must leave the radio on that station or I'm turning it off. Because it's a longer trip you may change the radio station twice if you feel it's really necessary. Both times you will have three minutes to do so. I am not spending the next hour listening to thirty seconds of every kind of music under the sun interspersed with 20 minutes of static and a myriad of radio-voices because you have got it in your head to be as doggedly bothersome as humanly possible. I will force you to switch spots with Cho if you persist in acting like my own personal persecuting imp."
I decided that as amusing as annoyed Lisbon was, if I didn't want to be bodily thrown out the window and left to my fate on the side of the highway I'd better do as she asked. After a brief conference with Cho we settled on a classic rock station for the remainder of the drive.
"So who wants to take bets he did it?" I asked genially as we finished our first interview. The kid had been guilty of something that was certain. He couldn't have exhibited more nervous body movements if he'd tried. My two companions however didn't seem to agree with me.
"Jane, you can't just accuse everyone you want to of murder." Lisbon told me.
"I can if they're guilty," I pointed out. "Come on, what kind of law enforcement professionals are you, refusing to take bets?"
For some reason my question seemed to amuse the pair of them. "I don't know," Lisbon said. "It's probably too early in the case for you to have hit on the actual guilty party. You haven't insulted nearly enough innocent bystanders or badgered the victim's family. I don't think I've even threatened to shoot you yet, though you have been supremely maddening today. Still I'm guessing this kid's not our guy. What do you think Cho?"
"Nah," the Asian agent replied, "We haven't had to save his life yet. No way do we wrap up a case before that happens."
Lisbon nodded and grinned, but I decided not to dignify that with a response.
I felt vindicated when, after our subsequent interviews, the employee in question, Kevin, seemed more and more likely to be our killer. I tried not to be too smug when Lisbon called Rigsby and Van Pelt and told them to go pick him up and take him back to the station for questioning. Unfortunately I don't think I was too successful.
"Alright, so you may have been right," Lisbon told me. "Stop looking so superior; being an irritating know-it-all is not attractive, one might even say your attitude is intolerably tiresome."
"You really need to work on admitting when you're wrong," I told her teasingly. I figured since we'd soon have a likely suspect in custody she'd been in a good enough mood that I could risk it.
"Provoking twerp," was her reply, but she was smiling as she said it. From the backseat Cho merely sighed.
Still, pretty much everyone was in a good mood by the time we got back to the office. Especially since Rigsby informed his boss that when they'd gone to pick the kid up he'd been in the middle of packing a suitcase and had confessed pretty quickly when confronted by Agent Rigsby at his most intimidating (who was approximately twice the poor boy's size).
I strolled into the bullpen while the rest of the team was wrapping things up. "I brought closed case donuts." I called out. As usual Rigsby was the first one over to the box, though the rest of the team followed more slowly. "Of course I would like to point out that once again I was right, despite Cho and Lisbon's skepticism."
Rigsby moved to defend his boss's honour but Lisbon cut him off, "Come of it Jane, you made a lucky guess! And you can hardly blame us since for most of the day you've been doing your best to get on my nerves and act as much as possible like the biggest and most obnoxious pill that I've ever met."
Despite the insult she seemed quite pleased with herself. I was even more confused when Cho walked over and handed her twenty dollars.
"What's going on?" I asked, although I was relieved to notice that Van Pelt and Rigsby seemed equally in the dark.
"Cho bet me twenty bucks this morning that I couldn't come up with 20 different ways to call you a pain in the ass in one day. I just met my goal." Her voice might have been calm, but her eyes were dancing with fun.
When I looked askance at the other agent he just shrugged, "Twenty for twenty, it seemed fair. Besides, I didn't think that even you could be that annoying."
I didn't know whether or not I was flattered or insulted. But given that it meant that I was (unintentionally) responsible for the triumphant smile on Lisbon's face I had a feeling flattered might win the day. Especially if I could somehow get in on the teasing, "Such conduct by California's finest," I remarked in a tone of exaggerated disapproval.
She just shrugged, "Hey, if I have to deal with your lunacy day in and day out I figured I may as well make some extra money at the same time."
Well, she was nothing if not practical. And planned or not, as I glanced at the pair of smirking agents across the room I couldn't help but smile myself. This definitely counted as livening up Theresa Lisbon's day, and I figured we could all count that as a win.
I warned you it would be pure silliness! Hope it was as fun to read as it was to write. Coming up with 20 different insults was surprisingly much more difficult than I thought it would be.