This is my second entry for this month's Jello Forever challenge - and this time it's "nonsense" of the cute, furry kind. If Patrick Jane can use a mouse to escape from prison, I can just as well use one to shake things up at the CBI.
Disclaimer: I don't own the show. Only the weird stuff in this story is totally my fault.
Once upon a time, in a hyper-modern laboratory on the 3rd floor of the Sacramento Institute for Mind-Boggling Inventions, experimental mouse #456 was bored. His real name was Leopold Thorneycroft XI, descendant of the Southampton Thorneycrofts who had traveled to America by ship and lifeboat in 1914 – not that any of the human lab rats cared about murine biographies.
However, Leopold didn't complain as he - all in all - led a pretty decent life. He got adequately supplied with diversified food and lived in a comfortable cage with en-suite bathroom – all without actually working for it. The entertainment program in the area was very amusing as well. He only had to climb on top of his feeding dish to be able to look out of the window and right into an office on the other side of the street. He loved observing the people there as it reminded him of the soap operas his grandma used to watch frequently.
There were the Redhead and the Tall One, who obviously had a thing for each other and who he recently spotted smooching in the copy room while their colleagues pretended to not be aware of it. Then there was the Bookworm, who Leopold suspected of only hiding behind big books to look distracted and therefore to signal people that it was alright to discuss private things in his presence. The mouse was sure that this guy knew everything about everyone in the office as he often had that certain knowing and amused look on his face, when nobody but Leopold was watching.
And finally there were his favorites: the lovebirds in disguise, aka Blondie - who Grandma Millicent without a doubt would have labeled as "not bad for a human, not bad at all" - and the Boss Lady. They were so good at pretending that they were nothing but co-workers, that they apparently even convinced themselves of it. Sometimes Leopold believed to see a flicker of recognition in their eyes, but they never made any real progress. No stolen kisses in a dark corner, no subtle stroking of each other's backsides - as seen with the Redhead and the Tall One - either.
He really wondered why none of the other three ever gave them a nudge into the right direction. He knew that humans could be amazingly stupid and incredibly blind sometimes, but the extent of those people's cluelessness stunned him.
Sometimes Leopold indulged in daydreams, fairy tales in which he was the hero who played matchmaker for Blondie and the Boss Lady. Because, obviously, they were meant to be together. Then, after a while, he always came back to reality to see that he missed all the real-life action across the street. Today, however, the opposite was the case as there still wasn't anything interesting happening with his human friends. The third event-less hour of them doing nothing but sitting and reading documents just began, bringing Leopold to the verge of despair.
This was just plain and utterly boring. Sadly enough, he didn't have anything else to do. This morning he had finished the book he had 'borrowed' from a lab tech and he didn't have access to new reading material right now. And today was Thursday, which meant that no tests were scheduled either. He didn't like the testing per se, but what it made of his mice friends always was good for a giggle.
Leopold wasn't sure what purpose the invention they were testing really had. The only thing he knew was that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday one of the inventors took a small, fancy machine out of a locked closet, pointed it at the mice, pressed a button until some almost invisible twinkling came out of it and spread out. As soon as it hit its target, hell broke loose and turned the mice into mere caricatures of themselves. For example, Robbie the Shy, started dancing Mambo. Or Gertrude, famously a vegetarian, bit her boyfriend's earlobe while Mick, the most meek animal Leopold knew, finally had the guts to tell his mean mother-in-law to go jump in a lake.
The embarrassment, that inevitably followed after the machine was shut off and everyone went back to normal without forgetting what they had done, was also amusing. Even more though as Leopold seemed to be the only one who was totally unaffected by the machine's magic. Of course he was wise enough to hide this fact behind a big loopy grin as soon as the machine started working. That first time, when his unresponsiveness had gotten him into trouble, had been lesson enough.
Leopold sighed as he watched the Boss Lady consume her third cup of coffee of the day, all the while directing her attention solely at the file in front of her and never noticing the moon-eyes Blondie made at her. Observing that story of unrequited love day in, day out was beginning to get unbearable. It was time for action and maybe Leopold was the right man... um, mouse for the job. If only he had an idea how to proceed!
Getting out of his cage was not a problem, he had figured out how to open it months ago. He also knew how to leave the lab and even the building and he was sure he'd find a way into the house on the other side of the street as well. But then what? Most humans had a tendency to react rather unfriendly to the sight of a mouse and their sense of hearing wasn't pronounced well enough to perceive the ramblings of an overly romantic, fluffy animal.
Leopold racked his brain, came up with ideas, jettisoned them. For over half an hour he was deep in thought – until a sudden bright twinkle drew his attention to the windowsill and caused a flash of genius in Leopold's mind. There, bathed in the golden light of the midday sun lay the solution: the machine, left out in the open by a careless staff member.
Cautiously Leopold tiptoed out of his cage, anxious not to wake up any of the other mice who were all just taking an after-lunch nap. Climbing from floor to chair to desk to shelf to sun-blind, he finally reached his destination and moved the machine into position. After some fumbling around, he found the power button and pressed it with his nose, shivering with excitement as the device emitted its usual glittery glow. Leopold then also pushed another button, marked "range booster", to make sure that both of his targets got a strong enough dose. Then he made his way down and out the house to have a closer look at the machine's effect on human behavior.
Nobody took notice of the mouse setting foot in the august halls of the California Bureau of Investigation. Judging by the signs Leopold read outside, this was an important, well-protected place. Nevertheless, he made it through the metal detector and up to the third floor by elevator without any inconveniences. He arrived just in time to see the Bookworm leap to his feet, enthusiastically shouting, "Let's have a party!"
The other people just stared at him and especially the Boss Lady seemed very confused by the sudden outburst of exuberance. "Cho? Are you alright?"
"I've never been better." Cho then replied with a big, fat grin. "Come on, Lisbon, party time!"
The Boss Lady, whose name was apparently Lisbon, opened her mouth again, undoubtedly to exercise her authority. The words she actually wanted to say never came out though, as just in this moment the glittery glow crawled up her limbs and started boogieing in her brain.
"Okay, let's party!" She exclaimed, flinging the files she was holding to the floor, amid the applause of her colleagues. That was, only three pairs of hands were clapping. The clasped ones of Blondie were laying on his chest, which in turn – together with the rest of his body – was spread out on a couch in the corner.
"Jane, get up!" Lisbon ordered, addressing the allegedly sleeping man. "We need to go and buy booze!"
Jane? Leopold giggled. It was just too funny that Blondie was cursed with a girl's name.
"I don't want to." Blondie with the funny real name now replied without even opening his eyes. "I have that strange feeling of ennui. Or maybe it's the swine flu."
Lisbon kicked his side with her knee, but except for a short, girlish shriek Jane remained impassive. Oh great, apparently the machine had turned him into a bore. This was certainly not the desired effect, Leopold mused with growing irritation.
The Boss Lady was even more annoyed, but also seemed determined to get her way. "Jane, stop being a hypochondriac spoilsport and get up, dammit!"
"Don't want to." Jane whined.
Lisbon obviously just wanted to resort to violence, when a male voice made her – and Leopold – turn around.
"I'll go with you, Teresa." A man, built like a grizzly bear, said in honeyed tones.
Instinctively, Leopold hid behind the leg of a chair. This guy looked scary and like a potential threat for Leopold's matchmaking plans. Apparently Jane received the same bad vibes regarding him, as he – suddenly wide awake – jumped to his feet.
"This won't be necessary, Sam. I'll accompany her." Jane hissed.
"Oh, yeah?" Sam replied, taking a step into Jane's direction.
The men were now so close that their noses were almost touching. Darting malignant glances at each other, they were flouncing around a like a pair of puffed-up gamecocks. If looks could kill... But Leopold still enjoyed the charade as it meant that finally some progress was made. Nothing like some good, old jealousy to get the ball rolling.
In front of an audience of four humans and one mouse, a clumsy wrestling match began. Leopold tried to find out who Lisbon was rooting for, but the others were too loud to be able to tell. She really seemed to savor the situation of two men fighting for her. After roughly two minutes the spectacle was over when Jane's body hit the floor with a loud thud.
Immediately the madding crowd lost interest and dispersed. They started dancing to some nonexistent music and nobody seemed to care that Jane was obviously hurt. Only Lisbon wanted to kneel down and look after him, but the Grizzly Bear clasped her in his arms and pulled her away. She tried to free herself, but soon got lost in the same rhythm as the others.
The machine probably deactivated their ability to feel empathy, Leopold assumed, as he watched the Redhead, the Tall One, and Sam strip down to their underwear while Cho conjured up a secret stash of booze from a desk drawer. At least Lisbon wouldn't have too much to be embarrassed about later.
Suddenly Leopold started to panic: If Jane would die, it would be his fault. This was not going according to plan at all. Instead of romance, he inflicted pain on Blondie and pushed the Boss Lady into another man's arms. Nervously he scurried around the body on the ground, nudging Jane here and poking him there until he finally regained consciousness again.
Wearily Leopold flopped down next to Jane's head and cracked an appeasing smile. At first Blondie was confused by the sight of the mouse, but soon he was smiling as well. Leopold decided to not waste another minute and – using a mixture of body and sign language – told Jane to go talk to Lisbon.
"Nah, buddy. That's alright." Jane played down the issue. " She obviously doesn't want me. And I'm a broken man whose only purpose in life is revenge. I'm not good for her."
Humans! Why do they have to make everything so complicated? Leopold drew a heart in the air between them to signify that Lisbon loved Jane.
"You think so?" The mouse nodded frantically. "Okay, maybe I should talk to her. But not now, I'm feeling listless again. Ow! Alright, alright, I'll talk to her now. Just keep your claws away from my nose."
Complacently Leopold watched Jane getting up and walking over to Lisbon. Unfortunately the woman was so preoccupied with Sam, that she neither noticed Jane clearing his throat nor his shy whispering of her name. Leopold decided that Grizzly Bear needed to go in order for this to work out. A big, tough, manly guy like that – yep, he was most definitely secretly scared of mice. This theory proved to be correct when he crawled into the leg of Sam's pants and the man jerked and screamed and finally fled.
Finally the way was cleared for Jane. "Lisbon, I need to talk to you."
"Okay." She dreamily replied, still swaying to the music in her head.
"So, I don't think you're dating anyone, right?" Leopold wrinkled his nose. This certain male human clearly needed some tutoring in dealing with womankind.
"No, I'm not." Lisbon admitted with a smile. "But I might give Sam a shot."
What?! Both Jane and Leopold looked crestfallen like a drowned rat.
"B...but he's married." Jane managed to stammer. "And he's afraid of mice."
Before Lisbon could defend her taste in men, a loud "Hi!" rang out.
The shouting Johnny-come-lately was a short, skinny man in his late thirties with a slightly scruffy appearance and darting eyes. For a while everybody stared at the unsettling figure. Leopold couldn't quite name it, but something about that man made his toes curl. The Redhead, partly buried under the Tall One's body due to their current make-out session, regained her poise first.
"Can we help you?"
The man, looking at her with wild eyes, regarded her question with a simple "You're pretty." - making the Redhead beam and the Tall One frown.
"Who are you?" Jane wanted to know, clearly annoyed that his courtship got interrupted.
"And you are here because?" Cho chimed in. "Oh hey, here have a drink!"
"No, thank you." The stranger rejected the offer, his eyes now boring into Lisbon and his hands twitching.
"The skin of your throat is very delicate." He told her, licking his lips. "Anyway, I think you rather know me by my alias 'Red John'. Stupid nickname that the media gave me, but what can you do."
There fell a deep silence. Even Leopold stopped grooming himself. Wait. Red John? He had heard that name before when one of the mice at the Institute had told a horror story about the night her beloved mistress had died. Leopold's eyes nearly popped out of his head. This man was a dangerous killer! Why didn't any of his human friends draw one of the guns that were either strapped to their belts or lying in heaps of discarded clothes on the floor?
"You are Red John?" Jane asked, approaching the man. "I thought you'd be taller."
No! It was a really bad idea to taunt a lunatic!
The killer didn't seem to mind in the slightest though. "Yeah, well. I think if I would have been taller, I wouldn't have been forced to kill all those women to feel superior. Today, I'm here to turn myself in. I just sneaked into the building using a fake ID to create a bloodbath, but suddenly I realized that I'm tired of killing."
Leopold was stunned, but then he understood: it was all the machine's doing. The mind-boggling invention had made Red John as innocent as a lamb. Well, maybe not as a lamb, seeing how he was leering at the ladies, but still a lot less dangerous than before.
"Good choice." Jane just complimented the crazy man. "No offense, but because of you my life became pretty one-dimensional, at times. All this striving for revenge and denying myself a second chance was beginning to get annoying."
"Sorry about that, man. Also about your family. I was having a really bad couple of days and then when you made fun of me on nationwide TV, I just snapped."
"Alright," Lisbon interrupted the two man. " Before the two of you get even more sentimental, let's put Mr. Marcus here behind bars. Van Pelt, look for your underwear and help me. Cho, Rigsby and Jane, get more booze and a karaoke machine. Wow, now we really have a reason to party!"
After the scary guy was handcuffed and led out of the room, Leopold dared to leave his hiding place in one of Rigsby's abandoned shoes. Finally things went back to normal, or at least as normal as possible considering the circumstances. Lisbon and the Redhead, whose real name was too complicated for Leopold to remember, came back and started dancing and eventually even Jane joined in. Everything could have been so wonderful... But then again, a happy ending at this point would have been way too easy.
Cursing and swearing once more interrupted the fun, bellowed in a deep voice that belonged to a angry looking man in his late fifties. Leopold had seen him before while watching the office from the laboratory. Seeing how the guy behaved right now, he was probably some kind of uber-boss.
The man walked over to the window, looked out and then sighed. "Oh, no. Not again."
His remark was rewarded with nothing but blank expressions.
"Is something wrong, Virgil?" Lisbon asked perfunctorily.
"Wasn't it enough that they prompted Jane to put a pony into your office? Or that they make you softer on Jane week after week? Now they also made you adopt Jane's habit of calling me by my first name? One day, they'll get us all killed. " Mr. Grumpy fulminated, while Cho boldly motioned to the others that their superior might be drunk. The subsequent snickering was quickly silenced with a stern look, before the boss stormed out. " I'm going over there right now to stop this nonsense once and for all!"
No, no, no, no, no! Not yet! Leopold ran after him, caught up with him, shot ahead, performed a daredevil twirl – and landed butt first on the floor after colliding with Virgil's foot. The mouse froze as the man's face and then his hand came nearer to him. Leopold almost had a heart attack when Virgil picked him up with two fingers of his right hand and placed him on his left palm. Virgil's face was now so close, that the mouse was able to see his nostril hair. The sight made Leopold's whiskers tremble uncontrollably. So this is how it feels when you know that you only have seconds left to live?
But then something unexpected happened: Virgil's lips twitched a few times and then formed a friendly, seemingly genuine smile.
"Don't be scared, my little furry friend." He gently calmed the mouse down and winked at him. "Don't you think it will be so much better when Jane and Lisbon get together without using any fancy technology? Give them some time, they'll figure it out eventually."
Leopold could hardly believe it: the human in front of him was a kindred spirit. Not only did he see the chemistry between Blondie and the Boss Lady as well, he also seemed unaffected by the machine. And maybe Virgil was right, maybe they should let the two lovebirds progress at their own pace. So Leopold simply nodded and smiled and thereby formed a friendship with the supervisor that lasted for a lifetime.
The two allies went over to the Institute. Leopold concealed himself in Virgil's jacket pocket while the man berated the inventors, only sneaking a peek when the machine got turned off. Suddenly the mouse knew that he didn't want to live there anymore but rather at the CBI.
When they arrived back at the office, the magic was already gone. The Redhead and Rigsby were hiding their crimson faces behind computer screens on opposite sides of the room. Cho just took off his party hat that he had made out of Nabokov's 'Lolita' and put away the limbo pole, all the time unable to fully suppress a smirk. Lisbon meanwhile fled into her office and slammed the door, leaving a lost and lonely looking Jane behind.
"Let's leave them alone for a while." Virgil suggested. "Come on, I have crackers in my office."
Crackers? Leopold didn't need to be told that twice as he loved crackers even more than budding human romances. The two friends spent a very nice afternoon together, Leopold nibbling at delicious cheese savories while Virgil told him funny Lisbon & Jane anecdotes.
But then, when the sun was setting, the curious mouse was unable to wait any longer. He sneaked back into the bullpen to find Jane and Lisbon sorting case files and books that got mixed up during the party. The two of them were the only ones left at work, but unfortunately they were also ignoring each other and quickly looking away whenever their eyes met.
Leopold sighed. Did he make things between them worse? He just contemplated if he should look for a love potion at the Institute, when Jane broke the uncomfortable silence.
"You were not serious about Bosco, right? I mean, do you really want to have kids with frontal alopecia?" Jane asked with a grin, running his fingers through his own, thick curls.
"Oh, shut up!" Lisbon exclaimed and hit him with a file. Deeply contended, Leopold noticed that - despite her rather violent behavior - she was smiling.
"Are you? Serious, I mean."
Lisbon stopped fiddling with papers and turned to face Jane. "There was a time when I thought of him that way, but this was a long time ago. So no, I am not. And, as you pointed out, he is married."
"And afraid of mice." Jane added.
"And afraid of mice. Musophobic guys are really not my type."
They smiled at each other and then, just when Leopold dared to hope for some smooching, Jane couldn't keep his big mouth shut.
"I'm glad Red John is behind bars."
"Really?" Lisbon eyed him incredulously and took a step back. "You're not mad that you couldn't execute your revenge plans?"
"I can always use my CBI card to visit him in jail and get even with him." Jane joked.
"This isn't funny."
"I know. I'm sorry." He said very seriously. " I am okay with the jurisdiction taking care of Red John. He has occupied my thinking and feeling for way too long, it's time to move on."
Lisbon didn't look convinced.
"You have to believe me, Teresa. Please."
He called her by her first name! Leopold started feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. And apparently Teresa shared the sentiment as she happily smiled.
"You know, it's also scary though." Jane admitted when they continued cleaning the office. "I'm not really sure what to do with all my spare time now."
"You'll find something. A hobby, maybe."
"Yeah, like knitting or watching birds. Or some people enjoy collecting stamps, so I've heard." She mocked him. And then, avoiding to look at Jane, she added, "Or, you know, maybe we could do something together sometime."
"You offer to knit with me?" Jane quipped.
"I was more thinking of something along the lines of going to the movies or having dinner together. I mean, you don't have to if you don't want to..."
"I want to." Jane replied so fast that Leopold and Teresa couldn't help giggling. "Are you hungry right now? We could order some takeout and eat it upstairs on the roof. It's lovely there at night."
One hour later, the two humans and one mouse sat sated and happy on a blanket under the nightly Sacramento sky and made wishes upon shooting stars. Leopold took satisfaction in the fact that after all everything seemed to work out for Blondie and the Boss Lady and that he had contributed to it.
"You know, you do have nice hair." Lisbon just teased Jane and ran her hand through his blond curls.
"And I do love mice." He stated, winking at Leopold.
The mouse snuggled down in the blanket and let the bantering and soon kissing noises of the two now undisguised lovebirds lull him to sleep.
And they all lived happily ever after – Leopold in his new home under the bullpen couch while Jane and Lisbon made out on top of it.
~ The End ~