A/N: This story came about because of a number of reasons. For one, I have long believed that when it comes to Jane Austen, Lisbon is far more Persuasion than Pride and Prejudice (and I'd direct anyone who feels the need to question that statement to Overcoming Trust Issues, where I first make this claim). As it turns out, I am not alone in the fandom in my opinion. I never quite knew why until I was reading prompts for Summer Secret Santa at Jello Forever and saw gracevanpelt's request for a J/L version of Persuasion (though this one isn't an AU). For some reason or other the idea took root, and before I knew it I'd mapped out half of the story in my head. That's about when I realized how well it fit. This is what came of it. You don't have to have read the original Austen to read this. The only advantage you'll really have from reading the novel is that you'll know pretty much what will happen. Well, that and you can tell me how well I'm pulling off the adaptation I guess.
So this is dedicated to all those who, like me, think Lisbon would be Persuasion. I hope you, and everyone else who reads this, enjoys it.
Disclaimer: I own neither the Mentalist nor Persuasion.
Special Agent Madeleine Hightower, Director of the CBI leaned back in her desk chair. It'd been a long day and she could feel the briefest hint of tiredness lurking in the back of her mind. So she did what she always did when that happened; she took a break. It might sound silly, but one of her favourite ways to relax was to skim over closed cases, either literally running through the files in her computer, or sometimes just mentally. She'd always loved order, solutions, justice. And she liked seeing the results of the people she supervised. She was the head of a major governmental organization; if she wanted to take a moment to enjoy the fruits of her labour nobody was going to stop her. Since she'd begun her tenure at the CBI she'd come up with a quite a few ways of improving the number of cases closed. In all honesty there had been a bit of a dip in their solve rate in the last year or so, but the numbers were still respectable, and the CBI's public image was certainly improving. And that had always been one of her primary goals.
Agent Hightower let her gaze slide to her door. Even if the letters on it read backwards from where she was sitting, she knew what they said, "Special Agent Hightower: Director." Seeing her name in print always gave her that little swell of pride. She'd cultivated the new and improved image of the CBI, and she was proud of her success. As California's premiere law enforcement agency, the CBI had to look the part. If the numbers were slipping a bit then something had to be done about it. Changes had to be made. She didn't like change; but she refused to let her hard-one image go. Besides, she liked to think that she'd always have a few tricks up her sleeve.
She wouldn't be getting rid of her agents though. Most of them were really good at what they did and the ones that weren't, well, they probably would probably be more trouble than it was worth to replace. Besides, she'd learned years ago that that threatening termination wasn't the way to go about getting what she wanted. Most of the agents at the CBI were decent, hardworking cops. Some were ambitious, some weren't, some preferred to lie low and let their work speak for themselves, and some didn't give the matter much thought. But very few of the team leaders cared one way or another about trying to push their cases or the CBI into the spotlight. Not the good ones at least. More interested in solving the case than their own careers. They dealt with the press, but to them it was more of a nuisance than anything. Hightower didn't discourage that type of attitude of course. The cases were paramount, but sometimes it was frustrating. If the CBI wanted to maintain its image as a paragon of law enforcement then they needed people who brought publicity one way or another, people who shared her vision.
Hightower grinned. That's where her changes came in. But she had to go slowly, didn't want to upset the boat too much this time. Wouldn't want to shake up the people who were getting the cases solved. Like she said, she liked and respected her people (albeit in an impersonal sort of way), even if she didn't always agree with them. Most of her team leaders were amazing agents on paper. Agents like Teresa Lisbon. The agent with the quiet fire still led the board in closed cases in the CBI. She could have moved up in the ranks if she'd really wanted to, but Agent Lisbon seemed perfectly content to stay on with serious crimes, and her people seemed happy to stay with her. Hightower was fine with that for now, even if it was perfectly obvious to all of her superiors that Agent Lisbon was destined for more. No, Hightower didn't want to fire Lisbon. Hadn't wanted to for years now. They'd reached an understanding after a few months working together. Driven, dedicated, loyal, and smart as whip, the woman was unbelievably good at her job, if a little too focussed on procedure from time to time. Agent Lisbon was one of the many agents who formed the backbone of the bureau. To be honest, Lisbon was often so predictably reliable that Hightower rarely gave the woman a second thought. In many ways Lisbon was most notable for her stubborn refusal to play up her cases with the press. Seemed to hate it in fact, the attitude a bit of a holdover from the previous administration.
And that was one of the things that had to change if the CBI was to get back to where it should be.
Hightower tossed a stress ball back and forth in her hands. There had to be some way to get the cases the SCU solved into the public eye. Then the added publicity would bring them more work, more prestige, maybe even more funding, and she'd have even more files to flip through when she was feeling stressed.
Agent Teresa Lisbon sat in her office doing paperwork. Her team was between cases at the moment and she was taking the time to play catch up. Not that she was all that far behind. She'd been working with all of the members of her team for years now; they knew each other's ways. And three Agents didn't generally create that much hoopla anyway. Mostly run of the mill administrative stuff now. Paperwork for arrests, to hand evidence over to the correct parties, for lawyers, for the Director, the usual. There had been a time when things had been different, when after any given case her stack of paperwork was three times as high as it was currently.
But those days were long gone.
Lisbon ruthlessly pushed that stray thought out of her head, choosing instead to focus on the positive. Now she sometimes got to go home on time if she wanted to. Score one for following procedure. Procedure, patience and practicality. In the end that was what had protected her and her people. All of her people. Even if they didn't always appreciate it, in the end most of them were still there. Lisbon allowed herself an affectionate smile at the thought of her team. Cho, her still stoic second in command, a man she could (almost) always trust explicitly. They'd been working together for literally years now, and they were finally getting to the point where Lisbon felt like that trust was reciprocated. And with Cho she never had to worry about an attempt at a hostile coup. The Asian Agent's ambition seemed to be limited solely to solving cases as many cases as quickly as possible and with as little fuss as necessary.
Then there were Agents Rigsby and Van Pelt. Lisbon still thought of them as a matched pair, couldn't help it. She was actually shocked that one of them hadn't requested a transfer to another team by now. They'd apparently agreed on friendship, but every so often she caught a longing look when they thought no one was looking. She was waiting (with a mixture of hope and dread) for the day when one of them finally snapped and threw the other up against a wall, kissing them senseless. With her luck it'd either happen in front of the director of the CBI or in front of an already irritable politician. Of course there were less irritable politicians now too...
Lisbon shook her head. She wasn't sure what was wrong with her today. Even though the romantic in her (the one that she mostly tried to keep buried) wanted to see her colleagues happy, another part of her selfishly hoped that they stayed as dedicated to their jobs as they currently seemed to be. They were both good agents. Rigsby, their resident arson expert, was strong and dependable, and someone she could always call on in a crisis. Van Pelt was eager to please, nurturing and fair. Plus she seemed to have unlimited reserves of potential. At least once every couple of months the younger agent'd do something that surprised her boss, whether it was navigating traffic in a high speed chase or expert marksmanship with a bow and arrow. Really the only thing that might hold Van Pelt back was that she was still somehow incredibly trusting, and occasionally more than a little naive. Lisbon occasionally worried about people taking advantage of her, her and Rigsby both actually; the male agent was unbelievably susceptible to a pretty face in trouble.
Still, as a team they worked well together.
Lisbon rolled her neck as she flipped through a file. It was just after noon so if she was lucky, even with the budget meeting she had to go to she should be able to finish her paperwork at a decent hour. She'd barely even finished the thought when she heard a knock on the door.
"Boss?" Van Pelt asked, sticking her head inside.
"Hey," Lisbon replied with a smile. "Didn't know you were still here. Come on in."
"Yeah, I was just finishing up some stuff from the last case," Van Pelt replied with a half a grin of her own.
Though the redhead had walked into the office confidently enough Lisbon couldn't help noticing that her fingers were worrying around the edges of the file she was holding. "Something wrong Van Pelt?" she asked.
"No," her agent told her immediately. "Well, you heard about the deaths down in Monterey?"
"Two lawyers at a law firm?" Lisbon asked. "Yeah, I heard about it on the way in this morning."
"Yeah," Van Pelt nodded. "I know this isn't usually the way this works, but I got a call from a friend of mine. She just made sheriff down there, literally just. I don't know if she's been on the job six months..."
"And something big happened," Lisbon surmised.
Van Pelt nodded before handing her the file in her hands. "Two partners at a local law firm were found dead in their office building late last night by one of their secretaries. The autopsies are still pending, so they haven't officially been ruled murder yet, but they're suspicious. For one, the lock on one of the back doors looks like it was forced, for another, the third partner's unreachable. Now it could just be coincidence..."
"Two partners dead and the third one's missing? Add to that a possible break in and it sure doesn't sound like a coincidence to me," Lisbon remarked.
Van Pelt let out a soft sigh of relief, "Yeah. That's what she thought too. Still, there aren't any obvious suspects besides the missing partner. The practice doesn't deal with criminal cases, mainly pretty run of the mill stuff, a bit of property law, the odd divorce, pre-nups, a bit of everything really. But some of the clientele's pretty high profile. A couple of congressmen, businessmen who have summer homes nearby, and even though nothing obvious is missing, no one's 100% sure that none of the information's been compromised..."
"So it could be a political nightmare on top of two potential murders," Lisbon added.
"Yeah," Van Pelt said with a nod. "I know it's not how cases come to us, but Lou's pretty overwhelmed, and she knows where I work, so she gave me a call and I was hoping that since we didn't have a case at the moment..." the woman trailed off hopefully.
Lisbon sent her a grin. "Leave the file and get me her number. It'll be a CBI case before I leave for the night."
Van Pelt's grin answered hers. "Number's on the next page," she told her.
Lisbon flipped the page with an absent nod. "Wait, one victim was found at the bottom of the stairs, the other was found lying in bed upstairs?"
Van Pelt shrugged, "Apparently they sleep at work sometimes. Given the hours we work sometimes I can certainly understand the appeal. And where the bodies were found makes accidental death a possibility. It's why we're waiting on full autopsies to determine if anyone's been murdered at all."
"Still, we should still check it out. The potential PR disaster alone'll make it easy to get Hightower on board," Lisbon remarked dryly.
"Thanks boss," Van Pelt replied with a knowing smirk.
Lisbon just waved her off. "Not a problem."
"Still I appreciate it, and I know Lou will too. I'll be out there if you need me," Van Pelt told her as she left the office.
But Lisbon was too engrossed in the file Van Pelt had given her to reply. It was definitely murder, maybe not both bodies, but she wouldn't have been surprised. She wasn't sure how she knew exactly, she just did. She also knew the case wasn't going to be a simple one, which meant she should probably get started immediately. She picked up the phone and dialled a familiar extension.
Lisbon hung up her phone thoughtfully. Hightower'd been relatively easy to convince. Her boss's only stipulation was that they wait until the next morning to head out. Lisbon knew her boss was worried that the team would arrive on the scene only to hear from the coroner that neither death was a murder. She also knew her boss didn't want her to miss the budget meeting that'd been scheduled for almost a month.
Lisbon sighed. She supposed the case could wait until morning. It was already midway through the afternoon. They were holding the crime scene for them, and there probably wasn't that much they could've been doing that evening anyway. Third partner still hadn't turned up, and the autopsy results probably wouldn't be complete by then either.
With a weary groan Lisbon got out of her chair. She was almost disappointed the crime wasn't more urgent. This meeting promised to be unbearably dull.
Lisbon almost ran from the conference room the second the meeting closed. Dull had turned out to be an understatement. Not bringing a caffeinated beverage into the room with her had proven to be a poor decision. To top it off, now, thanks to a new budget initiative, she had a new mini mountain of paperwork to get through before the team left first thing in the morning. So much for an early night.
As she approached her office Lisbon's pace slowed ever so slightly. There appeared to be a commotion of sorts coming from the bullpen. What on earth was going on? As she got nearer she saw her boss rounding the corner. "She should be along any minute now," Hightower was telling someone in the other room. "I'll go see what's keeping her." Then Hightower noticed Lisbon herself and began walking towards her. "Ah, Agent Lisbon! Perfect timing!" she exclaimed with a smile.
"Ma'am?" Lisbon asked politely.
"Good news. It seems the case in Monterey has made the news and is already garnering considerable interest from both the press and the politicians."
"Umm..." Lisbon started to reply. She couldn't really see how either of those things were good news, but she'd long ago stopped trying to understand her boss' position on things like that.
"And, because of the public interest," Hightower added, obviously unconcerned by Lisbon's lack of enthusiasm, "It seems one of California's finest freelance consultants has offered his services, which can only mean more publicity for us!"
Lisbon's blood froze in her veins at that. "Who?" she asked quietly, her face turning white.
If Hightower noticed her discomfort she didn't show it. "I believe you know him already," she said with a wide smile. The Director opened her mouth to continue when she was interrupted by an all too familiar voice.
Lisbon turned to the man standing just behind her boss. "Jane," she said summoning up a smile. And there he was, perfect hair, a new flashy suit though this one still featured the ever-present vest, and of course, still stupidly handsome.
"This won't be a problem will it?" Hightower asked sweetly, in a tone that Lisbon knew meant the question was really just a formality. Madeleine Hightower'd always made her position on Jane's methods of solving crimes abundantly clear, with one notable exception.
Lisbon glanced at her team loitering just behind her ex-consultant, their faces a mixture of pleasure and apprehension. But she'd had a second to compose herself now, she turned to her boss, "Of course not," she said, her smile fake, but it convinced Hightower. In fact the only who wouldn't be convinced was the one person she cared the least about fooling. Lisbon didn't care what he thought. That's what she was telling herself at least.
"Good!" Hightower said, clapping her hands together. "Then I'll leave you two to get reacquainted. You will keep me informed about your progress won't you Agent?"
"Of course Ma'am," Lisbon replied. Great. Just what she needed. The return of the one man she thought she'd never see again plus her boss looking over her shoulder.
Lisbon turned back to her consultant, ex-consultant that is. She managed to send him a slightly more genuine smile. Maybe by the end of the case she'd actually mean it. "So, Patrick Jane. It's been a while."
"Yes it has," he replied readily, his eyes scanning her face.
Lisbon ignored the scrutiny. "It's been what, a year?" she asked.
"Almost exactly," Jane confirmed. "This case is almost like an anniversary party," he added his smile containing just the slightest hint of insincerity.
But then so did the smile she sent him in return. Then she took a breath and decided to try again. "You look good," she told him softly.
His lip twitched. "Thanks," he told her. "You've changed your hair," he observed. "It's different."
Lisbon's smile tightened but she decided to just ignore the subtle insult. She'd had to be the bigger person for most of their relationship anyway. She deliberately loosened her smile. "So, this is a surprise," she told him. "You're the last person I was expecting to see today."
Jane sent her a slightly predatory smile then, "Well, you know how it is. It seems that after all my time helping law enforcement I've gotten a bit of a taste for it, and now that I can choose my own cases, well, I choose the ones that interest me. As soon as I heard about our two dead lawyers on the news I knew I wanted in. Come on Lisbon, possible murder, someone broke in, but nothing's missing, mysterious disappearance. Even you must admit it sounds almost fun. But when I called the local sheriff to offer my services I promptly informed that the investigation had already been turned over to the CBI. Lou, as she insisted I call her, seemed quite sure that you'd be only too happy to take advantage of my offered assistance though, and Agent Hightower agrees. So here I am. I'm sorry that I blindsided you though. I did drop by your office first, but you were in a meeting."
He looked contrite, but Lisbon knew him too well. She knew that Patrick Jane was only too pleased that his appearance in her workplace had shocked her. He'd always loved knocking her off balance, and she had a feeling the compulsion to do it had only gotten worse after they'd gone their separate ways. He'd consider it a sort of payback. Still, she decided it was easier if she pretended to believe him. "These things happen," she told him with a shrug. "Still, I'm happy to see you Jane. Freelancing seems to agree with you."
Jane just continued to smile that inane grin of his, "Well, the money's better in the private sector for sure," he told her.
"That's true," Lisbon said dryly.
"But, it is interesting being back here," Jane told her. "I see the gang's still all here."
Throughout their exchange her entire team had been waiting anxiously, in case of the potential blowout. "Yeah, we were just catching up," Rigsby told his boss. "Jane's been telling us stories."
Lisbon managed another smile in reply. She could imagine.
"Anyway," Rigsby said with a cough, "We were just about to go and grab some dinner if you want to come with."
Lisbon let her face slide into a regretful expression, this one half-genuine. "Sorry, I can't," she told them. "I just got a mountain of work to get done before we leave thanks to this afternoon's never-ending budget meeting. I'll have to take a rain check. You guys go though," she insisted. When Van Pelt looked concerned, she waved them off. "Seriously guys, go. I'll see you bright and early in the morning." Then she turned to Jane, "I assume you're going to drive with us?"
He nodded absently at her question as he searched her face "Still the same old Lisbon I see," Jane said with half a smile. But it sounded more like an accusation than a compliment, though no one but her seemed to notice. "The lack of procedure and paperwork's another advantage of the private sector," he added absently.
She ignored him, "See you guys tomorrow then." It was meant as a dismissal and they all knew it.
She was answered by a chorus of "Night boss." Only Jane's good-bye was any different. "See you tomorrow Teresa. I'm sure it'll be interesting," he told her. "And enjoy your memos."
With that he turned to her team, his smile suddenly genuine. Lisbon watched the laughing group down the hallway. She didn't begrudge her team their happiness at the unexpected reunion. It made sense.
He'd never been mad at them.
Hee. I thought I'd have a bit of fun with this one and try cliff-hangers. Not sure if this one even counts, but whatever. I promise the details get explained in the next chapter. But the explanation gets lengthy so I thought I'd break it up a bit, because I've also decided to try not to make all the chapters insanely long. Yeah, we'll see how that goes too.