Disclaimer- All characters and situations seen below belong to their respective owner(s), I'm just borrowing.
A/N- Hi everyone! This is my first Mentalist fic, and my first time actually branching out of the CSI:Miami fanfic pages. I was a little nervous about posting, but after watching some episodes inspiration struck and I had to write. It's been a while since my last fic, and I feel as though I have lost some of my magic... So if you have the time, reviews would be lovely.
A massive thanks goes out to Jen (shopping-luva91), my colour-coded saviour a.k.a Beta. Without her intense editing/help, this story would not have made it here. Check out her latest Mentalist fic if you have a chance.
.... I hope you enjoy the read. Thanks!
"Go home," she said indignantly, eyebrow quirking as it always did when steering Jane away from doing something stupid.
"No, today is Monday the beginning of the work week, the most important day-" he leaned back, letting two drops of eye drops fall into his open lids "-very telling of how the rest of the week will go over. I can't miss today." Somehow, his cheekiness had an uncanny way of peeking through the cloud of sickness that disturbed his features.
His eyes were puffy, his speech obviously impeded by a stuffed nose and it didn't take a Mentalist to figure out that his back was probably aching from the way he stood.
"Jane, you're of more use to us healthy... with all of your senses working normally. You can't do that like this," she explained, pointing a hand at his appearance. "Please, go home and rest."
He looked at her a moment longer, smiled and plopped down on the infamous leather brown sofa that he had unofficially claimed as his own.
Her eyes narrowed, cocking her head to the side, "I don't know what that means, but if you decide to stay on that couch all day, you're still off the case."
She turned to walk out of the room, her shoes slapping on the floor only three times before she turned back. "Oh, and I am going to pretend that you're not here." With that she strode out of the room, intent on solving their current case before the end of the day.
"That's fine," he said, as if she were still in the room to hear him, "I sleep better here anyway." He stretched luxuriously, sunk into the buttery feeling of the cushions and draped his suit jacket over his top half.
Grace, sitting a desk away merely shook her head, smiling to herself and got back to her current dig for suspicious persons at the victims place of employment.
It was just over 2 hours when Jane awoke, a wide eyed Van Pelt at his side, her hand on his shoulder.
"What?" Was all he could get out, still groggy from sleep and whatever bug seemed to be working its way through his system.
"I think you were having a bad fever dream. You were tossing and turning for a while and you're sweating a lot," she said, grimacing at the last bit and lifting a hand off of the dampened cotton matted to his shoulder. "Here," she smiled, handing him a pair of sweats with 'CBI' labelled lengthwise on the leg, and a matching t shirt with the same label over a breast pocket. She then motioned to a steaming cup of tea and a piece of toast on the table next to the arm of the couch.
"You should eat something, too." She stood up to allow him some space and sat back at her desk to make a phone call.
Jane sat up, his mind clearing from his (surprisingly) deep sleep and he stretched to grab the cup of tea from the table. He breathed in the smell of the hot steam rising and could already tell she had put too much sugar in it. He frowned and sat the cup back down, careful to avoid Grace's eyes. He would change and make his way to the kitchen to prepare himself a proper cup of tea, and he was sure he would feel much better for it.
Lisbon's footsteps echoed down the hallway, a file under her arm, mind intent on a caffeine fix. Their latest lead had turned up dry and she was sure that the victim's oddly protective and affectionate brother was the killer. She just needed a quick cup of coffee and a few silent minutes to herself and she was sure she could find a way get this guy.
She entered the doorway of the office and hung up her dark blue blazer only to notice nothing but a pile of crumpled clothes left where Jane was when she had last seen him.
Internally she sighed sensing some sort of Jane-associated-trouble, stopping in her tracks to take a calming breath. 'He's not here; you do not need to concern yourself with his whereabouts or wellbeing, because he is not here.'
With another cleansing breath, she continued toward the kitchen.
To her dismay, she saw Jane, standing over the counter, counting clockwise and counter-clockwise stirs of a cup of tea outfitted in CBI sweats. He looked like he was at home lounging around on a Sunday. She let out a disapproving breath and he looked up, tapping the spoon on the lip of the cup before setting it down on the counter top.
"Good Morning," he smiled, indulging in a long sip.
"It's almost noon," she said her hands settling on her hips.
"Well, it feels like morning to me. I just woke up from a nice refreshing sleep, and I am ready to work. Alert, awake and healthy," he raised his cup in cheers towards her and took another long sip.
She closed her eyes, shaking her head and letting it fall downward, her chin almost touching her chest. "Jane..." She groaned.
"Wait, I thought you were pretending I wasn't here?" She groaned internally; she could hear the cheeky grin accompanied by that line clear as day.
Her head lifted and she looked at him and pursed her lips. Ignoring his previous question she spoke, "first of all, nobody needs to be as observant as you to deduce that you are still sick and secondly, there is no way I would allow you to work a case dressed like a lazy... lay about." She motioned towards him, as he leaned against the counter, as if to accentuate his so-called 'lazy' appearance.
She huffed, gave him another narrow look and continued on her mission for coffee.
He stood there, watching her through smiling eyes, taking occasional sips of his tea as she attempted to ignore him.
"Stop staring," she said, sneaking a quick peek at him after adding the final contents to her beverage.
Stubbornly, he kept staring and watched as her eyes fluttered closed, her tiny hands, he noticed, could barely reach each other around the wide coffee mug she had chosen. She inhaled the aroma, before taking a slow slip. She held the coffee under her chin, moving the back of her hand to press against the heat of the side of the cup. She let her eyes remain closed, still aware of Jane's eyes.
"-Cold hands?" he interrupted, a knowing look on his face.
"Uh- yeah. I've always been that way," she stammered, feeling slightly self conscious under his observation.
He turned his head slightly, eyes smiling at her change in demeanour. He noticed quite quickly that her voice became softer under his silent watchfulness, allowing uncharacteristic vulnerability to slip through. He wondered if it went even softer away from the bustling rooms of the CBI where she could leave her confident and professional tone at the door. It made him wonder where she felt most comfortable.
He let out a, "Hmm," breaking his train of thought and changing to mentally list causes that were associated with cold hands. 'Poor circulation, heart condition-'
She noticed a glazed look go over his eyes and became slightly worried."Okay Jane, rest time. I don't want to see you off that couch again," she took hold of his shoulders to lead him to the door, giving him a light push out.
He stopped to look back at her, but continued after another receiving another warning look from under disapproving eyebrows.
Finally making his way over, he slid slowly onto the couch again, relishing in the soft tapping of keyboards, bustle of papers and people echoing around the room. He suddenly felt his eyes weigh, the muscles in his body aching as they had this morning. He let the flow of chatter and ringing phones lull him until it was a soft wash in the distance, calming like the ocean. And soon, he was out.
Suddenly, he awoke to a slam, his eyes snapping open. He glanced at the wall clock noting that he had slept another hour or so and he still felt sore and tired. He ignored it and turned his head to see where the commotion was coming from.
Rigsby sat, palms over his temples staring wide eyed at his paper covered desk. He let out a deep breath before allowing his forehead to drop forward with a clunk. Jane sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and turned towards Rigsby's deflated form. "Tough case?" he asked.
Rigsby's head shot up. "Sorry for waking you, it's just... I swear we have interviewed, interrogated and checked out everyone that even knew the victim existed and nobody seems to be guilty. We don't even have enough to hold the suspicious boyfriend that finally admitted to 'finding' her body."
"Want some help?" He asked enthusiastically, confident he could figure this out before Rigsby even sat back down at his desk. (Okay, slight embellishment on his part).
Looking around for Lisbon, Wayne made his way over to the couch and handed Jane some files, "Yeah sure, take a look. I'm going to pour myself some coffee, I'll be back."
"Tea?" Jane asked, eyes glued to the first page of text. He could see Rigsby's incredulous look from the corner of his eye and said, "Or you know, I could just... go back to sleep," he stretched, motioning to set the folders down.
"C'mon man," he wasn't sure making Jane a cup of tea 4 times over was better or worse than the amount of frustration he felt for this case at the moment.
"Lisbon's strict orders were for me to stay on the couch and it's very difficult to read while drowsy," he narrowed his eyes, pulling the page closer to his face for effect. Sure, Lisbon also ordered for him to stay off the case today, but Wayne didn't have to know that.
"Alright, fine. One cup of tea-"
"-In first yeah, I know. And only one teaspoon, and two splashes of milk," his voice faded behind the closing door of the kitchen.
Rigsby returned minutes later his own cup of coffee sploshing over the sides onto his wrist, the delicate tea cup in his other hand also threatening to spill as he made his way toward Jane.
"Here take it, take it!" He breathed, pushing the cup towards Jane. "Ow, ouch," he said wiping the remnants of brown liquid from his hand.
He smiled down at the cup and took a testing sniff of its vapours,"Hmm." Thinking it had potential, he dove in for a sip but immediately spit it out into the cup."How long did you steep the bag for?" He asked.
"I'm sorry...'steep the bag?'" He returned, genuinely confused but fighting back laughter at how potentially dirty it sounded.
Jane shook his head. "How long did you leave the bag in for?"
He paused looking at Jane's features for a minute looking for the right answer. With no avail he estimated, "I don't know, about a minute?"
"The instructions say 2 to 3 minutes..." he visibly saw Rigsby deflate another ounce or two and decided to let up. "Never mind," he dismissed, his attention now back on the file on his lap. "So... Female, 16 years old. Melissa Jeremy. Cheerleader, good student, works at a corner convenience store on weekends a block from her house... Hmm. All co-workers checked out, best friends, family, neighbour and boyfriend. Okay," His read as his eyes scanned. His gaze then shifted to some crime scene photos, and something clicked.
"Only one neighbour?" He asked.
"Uh yeah, the house on the other side is empty. For sale," Rigsby clarified.
"What about across the street?"
"Um," he lifted a red file off his desk and read, "Mr. and Mrs. Krite, son Callum. He goes to school with Melissa. Nobody close to her mentioned that the Melissa and the Krite's boy were close, though. We did talk to him and by the sounds of it Melissa had forgotten he existed." He explained, gulping down his coffee.
Something had caught Jane's attention, "Forgot?"
"Uh, yeah-" he said, swallowing a last gulp, "- I think he mentioned that they were friends as young kids, but he seemed pretty indifferent to her and she treated him the same from what the kid told us."
"Go back to him. Something tells me he's not as indifferent to Melissa as he has you thinking." He handed the folder back to Rigsby and settled on his back once more, hands clasped at his midsection.
Rigsby gave him a disbelieving shrug and settled back into the chair behind his desk.
"It's all you've got," Jane reminded, one eye squinting open. "Trust me."
"I've heard that one before," Rigsby shot back, leaning over his desk.
"Yes, and I am usually right."
Jane smiled at the moments of silence that followed before recognizing the tell tale clicking of the phone buttons. "Cho, bring in the Krite's kid, I think we may have overlooked something...".
"The suspect is waiting in interrogation with his parents, what am I asking him about again?" Cho asked, walking in gripping the tape recorder.
Jane, who at first glance looked asleep murmured, "Ask him when and why his relationship with Melissa began to dwindle.."
"And?" Cho asked.
"Just that. Tell me what he says and how he says it."
"Are you serious? I am not walking back and forth like an idiot from interrogation to tell you 'what he says and how he says it'".
"Trust me," Jane repeated for what could have possibly been the thousandth time that month.
Cho shot a look at Rigsby who immediately shrugged and shrank into his chair. "It's all we've got right now, Cho... and besides... he's usually right," he explained, trying to sound hopeful.
Jane smiled, his eyes still closed.
"No way... Rigsby, you take this one, I'm grabbing a sandwich," he said, passing off the recorder and heading to the kitchen. "And no Jane, I am not making you a cup of tea." He exclaimed pushing the door open, before Jane could make a request.
Much to Rigsby's initial dread, he walked back and forth from interrogation to Jane five times before Callum broke down, admitting he had killed Melissa 'accidentally'. He divulged being angry and hurt that she would ditch him for new friends and a new boyfriend, after they'd kept their friendship strong up until high school.
"He'd confronted her one night, after stalking her cheerleading practice and she lashed out, causing him to get a little too emotional. Things got out of hand when she tried to leave and she fell trying to pull herself free from his grasping hands on her sweater. She fell over the edge of the football bleachers, breaking her neck on contact," read Lisbon, a file perched on her bent knee as she updated Jane.
He sat up more, giving her a perplexed look, seemingly grinding the details of their now closed case through his mind. "Hmph," he let out, chewing on his lip for a moment. His gaze finally flickered to the desk behind Lisbon.
"Is that for me?"
"Uh yeah, I made it for you. You slept pretty long after that interrogation. Just wanted to make sure you had something in your system before I left for the night," she said, handing him the cup of steaming liquid. "I got the instructions from Rigsby, I hope it meets your terribly high tea standards," she mocked.
He gave her a teasing look in return and swallowed the tea in three large gulps, wincing as the hot matter washed down his throat.
"Uh... Careful," she said, not too surprised by his latest stupid action.
"Not bad," he breathed, still wincing from the burn. "Still, not as good as I make it, but it's drinkable. Even yummy," he winked playfully.
She rolled her eyes, "Yeah alright. First and last time I ever make you tea if you're going to be this cocky about it."
He mock-scowled, playing with the handle of the cup absentmindedly. "Do you want a ride home," she asked, filling the sudden silence.
"Umm, I think... I'm just going to camp out here for the night. I'm already comfortable and... I've gotten more sleep here than I have gotten at home in weeks," he said smiling, though his eyes were almost pleading.
Her glance flickered from his eyes to his mouth. She saw guarded pain and hopefulness that she understood.
"Okay, well-" taking the empty tea cup from him, she stood, "-you can stay tonight. Just... get better. The team needs you. It's not the same working cases without you, as you may have noticed from today," she said genuinely. He could hear her tone sloughing off slightly, her voice went down a few decibels, it was softer- yes, he'd suspected it would sound something like this.
"Much to your chagrin," he winked, following her statement.
She smiled, rolling her eyes once again, "No, seriously," she said, softer then."We need you here." She paused to examine his still tired face, noticing he looked slightly better than this morning. Her finger tapped the side of the cup as her weight shifted. It was only when she noticed Jane's brow twitch barely that caught herself staring too long. She mentally scolded herself as she made her way to return the cup to the sink of the kitchen. The lateness of the hour and emptiness of the usually buzzing room, made her feel oddly comfortable talking with Jane. His offbeat charm seemed to have the curious ability to soften her hard surface and allow her vulnerabilities to slip through. The fact that he could disarm her so easily both scared and attracted her.
She made her way back out to see him laying back once again, his forearm covering his eyes. She smiled at his sleeping form, finally taking in the pleasant side of seeing him so casual. It was ... nice. Domestic... Different. She couldn't shake the feeling as she tip-toed out of the room, making sure to click the lights off for sleeping Jane.
"Night Lisbon," he murmured from the darkness.