Author's note: Though it has little to do with the plot, this story takes place more around the first season. Only because of the status of certain people's relationships.
The gravel crackled like breaking bones below the slowing black van. The sun burned through the dusty windshield that was painted with a wide arch of clearing glass as the wipers gently fell back and fourth. Agent Lisbon sighed as she pressed on the break, squinting through the dusty summer rays.
"I can't see where to stop." Jane leaned forward in his seat to a view in-between a clump of dust to view the parking.
"Stop, stop, stop, stop." He mumbled. As Lisbon set the parking break Jane hopped out onto the crime scene. It was a dusty long abandoned road, the freeway sitting at least a mile away. Tall green mountains were watching them from afar, sprinkled with oaks and cedars whose scents were dancing around the crowd of police and CBI members. As the hot July sun itched at him, Jane pulled off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves that ran out from his dark blue vest. Several people stepped aside when they saw the pair coming, lifting1 the caution tape. Jane smiled at them as he went through after Lisbon who was already surveying the scene.
"Agent Lisbon." A tall stubbley and rosy cheeked cop nodded to her. She returned the gesture then glanced to Jane as he began scanning the body. He slowly kneeled beside the corpse of a child and Lisbon retuned her gaze to the cop.
"So what happened?" The officer cleared his throat. Kneeled
"Just by looking we believe he was choked."
"Not so fast..." The two looked to Jane whose eyes were following a ring of bruises around the neck. "You're wrong, well mostly." The cop's brow sank and he flicked his gaze to Lisbon who watched him carefully. "The bruises around this area, and here," he shifted his weight and gestured to a large purple circle on the opposite side of the boy's neck, "show he was in fact choked, but…" He tilted his head, his eyes falling to a small darkened damp patch below his chin on his t-shirt. He leaned in closer and began to rise when he spotted a small river of water draining from his cracked mouth, painting the pealing and dusty lips like freshly cried tears. "He was drowned, and then maybe choked for good measure." His eyes met the cop and Lisbon's, both looking unsure. Jane noticed their expressions and gestured to the body. "What go ahead and look for yourself." Lisbon stepped foreword and kneeled for a moment long enough to spot the water falling from his mouth that was traveling up from his lungs. She nodded quickly.
"He's right." Jane shrugged.
"Anything else?" The cop asked as Jane had already returned his eyes to the victim. But he made no response as he went silent, his eyes swiftly finding and catching clues. He kneeled again, and gently tugged at the boy's pocket, pulling out several Bazooka Jo wrappers. He smelled the gum wrappers before putting them back, then shuffled to the end of the body. Jane's blue eyes began to follow every muddy crease in the boy's water shoes. When the cop began to speak, Lisbon shushed him. Jane then scanned the dirt road, marking every tire mark and footprint in his excited mind. He looked about one more time before returning his gaze to them, and to his surprise the crowd whom were all unnervingly watching him.
"The victim was camping in Nevada City; by the looks of the shoes he wasn't there long. He was most likely drowned at a location near his campsite considering his size." He gestured to the protruding belly.
"And you know this how?" The cop asked with a haunt of disbelief.
"Well, look at him." Jane held out his arms, miming a large belly. The cop stared.
"I'm talking about the camping thing."
"Bazooka Jo wrappers in his pocket, red dirt in his shoes, you know, most likely it was Scotts Flat Lake." Lisbon nodded.
"When Officer Walker here called me this morning he said there were no missing persons reports matching him, you got any idea about that?"
"Of course I do. Considering this all occurred last night, his parents are probably just now realizing his absence."
"It happened at night?" Lisbon asked shifting her weight, looking about the scene.
"Well would you leave the body of someone you just managed to brutally murder in cold blood out in the middle of the street on a bright sunny day?" Lisbon's brow rose. "No I hope you'd be smarter than that."
"Well would someone take the victim 2 hours away, and leave him in the middle of a street even if it was at night."
"Carelessness, and," Jane wiggled his fingers as he gestured to a trail of steps that went in a line for a few steps, then laid back on themselves again. "His gas gage was broken, he went to check the gas tank, when he saw it was empty he panicked, considering the sun was, oh maybe yeay high. So he fled the scene of the crime before morning came, abandoning little Billy, got gas, and then went back to camp." The onlookers watched in suspicious surprise. "Just a guess. But I know I'm right." Lisbon cocked her head.
"Went back to camp? You think he was at the campground?" Jane shrugged loosely, swinging his suit jacket over his shoulder.
"What's less suspicious than a happy camper who wears crocs?" They looked back to the tracks, in each of them sat a small circle with the name Crocs in the middle. "I mean in my book, I might suspect someone like that but than again it's all a matter of opinion." The cop eyed him carefully, unsure of all his accusations and comments about the whole case.
"Does everyone just, believe him?" He gave Lisbon a questionable look.
"Generally, except for stingy little men like you." Jane spoke confidently, at which made the cop eye him suspiciously.
"You know for once this all about makes sense, Jane." The cop instantly looked to the agent, shifting his weight, resting his hands on his hips.
"Alright," he cleared his throat, "I well I think I do believe you." A smirk grew on Jane's face.
"No you don't."
"Excuse me?" The man stared at him incredulously.
"Your sudden change of tone and trust of my words has little to do with me. You have a crush on Lisbon." Lisbon gave the two an absurd look as the officer turned even redder.
"I do not." He said sharply.
"Ah, now you're denying it. Keep this up and you'll prove you're in love with her."
"Excuse me-" Lisbon cut the nervous cop off.
"Jane!" She barked. Jane held up his hands innocently.
"What, I'm only giving him space to open up and show his true feelings. You saw him at the last case, uh that double homicide-"
"Cut the crap, Jane," he shrugged when Lisbon snapped at him, the cop was now looking away from them, trying to hide his face.
"We'll let you know if we find anything." The officer gave them both a quick look before hurrying away. Lisbon instantly set her eyes on Jane.
"Real mature." Jane tried to hide his smirk as the pair stepped away from the body, looking to the forensics who stood a few feet away.
"We're done here." Jane gestured to the body as they left the circle of caution tape, and headed back to their van, when suddenly a twin van pulled up and Rigsby, Cho, and Van Pelt hurried out. Lisbon stared.
"You've got to be kidding me." She snapped as the group dashed towards them, Rigsby's mouth full of food. Jane waved to them but Lisbon's face remained tight at their tardiness.
"Sorry," Rigsby began through a mouthful of burger. "I-" Van Pelt cut him off.
"I'm sorry, Lisbon. Rigsby thought we were supposed to be here at 9:30, not 8:30."
"Ah huh. Well I'm not catching you up on everything you just missed." She continued her march but stopped turning to face them, "If we didn't need you people," she snapped, "I'd suspend you from this case." She stomped on her way, Jane giving them a half sympathetic half amused look. When she got into the car, slamming the door Jane paused and turned back to them, swinging his arms with his thumbs up towards their van in a "hurry up" sort of way before walking backwards towards the van saying,
"Oh this is going to be fun." When Lisbon stuck her head out the window.
"I heard that." Jane smirked at what he could see of her sour face through the dusty glass and righted his direction.
"I know." He said smugly, opening the car door.
"Wait," Rigsby called out. "Where are we going?" Jane smiled to them while he stood half out the open door.
"oh boy." Cho said flatly. Jane smirked, waving at them as he climbed into the car. He shut the door then raised his brow at the frowning Lisbon whose eyes he felt upon him. "What?"
"Shut up." His smug expression didn't falter as he diverted his gaze out the window. Grace happened to be passing by, heading to her van, and the two shared a quick amused expression before Lisbon hastily hit the gas, jerking the pair away from each other, and bombing down the filthy lonely road.
It was about 5 minutes until Agent Lisbon's irritated voice broke the silence. "So where the hell is this place?" Jane raised a brow and slowly looked to her. He continued staring until she looked away from the road to meet his inquisitive gaze. "What?"
"I thought you'd last longer."
"What are you talking about?"
"Your silent treatment." Lisbon looked baffled.
"What silent treatment?"
"Oh don't be silly. Though I don't blame you, it may be accidental or a sub conscious silent treatment, but a silent treatment nonetheless."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, and it is only because you're embarrassed by what I said about Officer Walker."
"Seriously, Jane. Bringing that up again?"
"Yes I'm very serious."
"Of course you are." Jane sat quiet and amused, he often took pleasure in upsetting Lisbon, especially when he knew why she was upset when even she didn't. He smiled to himself then flicked his gaze to an approaching exit, where a small gas station rested.
"Turn here." Lisbon's brow sank.
"What? The map says-"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah that's hogwash. I say turn here." Lisbon sighed and without a look behind her swerved into the other lane. Jane was tossed to the side nearly hitting his head on the window. He slowly looked to her as they headed up the ramp.
"You didn't even turn on your blinker! And you say I'm the bad driver. You nearly killed me!"
"That'd make life a lot easier wouldn't it?" Jane leaned back in his seat.
"Well partly, but then red john would live, so easier yes, better no, not yet." Lisbon slowly looked to him as the red street light flicked on.
"It was a joke."
"Death isn't funny. Only when clowns die. No pun intended, though." As the busy street roared ahead of them, leaving them at the stoplight for nearly a minute, his mind sank back to when he traveled with his father. The pair of them scamming dying children and widowed women for money that many times, the clowns of the circus would steal from his suitcases. The image was shook from his mind as the stoplight flashed green. They began to drive straight until Jane bolted up right, his mind catching up with him. "Oh no, no, turn turn! The gas station straight ahead!" Lisbon scowled as she swerved the car in the right direction, nearly hitting someone for the second time. She scowled at him as she sped them into the gas station.
"For now on, I'm blaming all my crappy driving on you." The two left the car and walked to the small store steps from the pumps. "What are we doing here?" Lisbon asked as they neared the door.
"The killer needed more gas and this appears to be the closest gas station." He held open the door for her and the two walked into the air-conditioned shop, a small bell greeted them and colorful chip bags, candy bars lined the walls and icee machines rested on the counters beside shelves of cigarettes. A round man with overly tanned skin and a threatening beard looked to them as the bell on the door jingled. "Hello there." Jane said as the two walked up to the counter. The man nodded in response and rested his hands on the counter.
"How can I help you?" His calm voice was tinted with a fading accent.
"I hope so. Who works the graveyard shift around here?" The man pointed to himself with his chubby finger.
"I do. Why do you want to know?" Jane opened his mouth to speak but Lisbon stepped in front of him and flashed her badge.
"Were with the CBI, I'm agent Lisbon and this is our Consultant Patrick Jane. He believes that our killer passed through here last night."
"He wore Crocs, drove some sort of light weight truck, and was a rather heavy man." The cashier looked to Jane and sighed.
"Look this is why they call it the graveyard shift, I am so tired I'm nearly dead, and not anybody comes in here."
"You don't remember anyone coming in last night?" The man shrugged to her.
"Well a couple, 2 max, I can show you the tapes if you like." Lisbon nodded.
"That would be great." The man led them to the back of the store where several black and white TVs sat in front of a small wilted looking wheelie chair. He quickly got the tape from the previous night and put it into one of the VCRs.
"Rewind it to oh, about 5 o'clock." The man nodded. The flashing tape consisted of the cashier wandering the store for several hours, until one man walked in the door at 5:12 A.M.
"Stop it there." Jane and Lisbon leaned in closer, watching the customer. As he stepped into view they studied the round bellied man. Jane was getting excited.
"Oh now I remember him. He bought some candy and a beer. And I told him no no beer this early and he said he did not care and looked very mad so I gave it up and he-" the man trailed off as the pair watched the man intently.
"Wait for it…" The moment the man stepped towards the door Jane paused it. "Bingo! Crocs. He's our man." Lisbon looked to him.
"We can't base an accusation on a pair of commonly worn shoes." Jane ignored her and flicked his gaze to the cashier.
"Can you remember what he drove?"
"Now that I see this man I remember this man. He had those crocy thingys, pants, and drove a small white pick up. I liked it so I remember it." Jane straightened and nodded.
"You've been a great help. Oh, did he use cash or credit?"
"Cash." Lisbon answered as she watched the man in the video hand over several dollars.
"Did he say anything else to you? About where he was going or coming from?"
"No. He hardly speak at all, purchased my things, and left." Lisbon nodded.
"Thank you for your help, if you remember anything at all or see this man again, call us." The man nodded as she stepped away from the counter heading for the door, but Jane disappeared down the isle for a moment, grabbing a blow pop from a small box and flicking the man a quarter. Lisbon looked back at the sound of the coin hitting the counter. "Thank you." Jane said over his shoulder as he hastily unwrapped his treat. "You didn't get one for me?" Jane looked to her over his lollypop and shook his head silently. "Your lips will be green after eating that anyway." Jane shrugged as the two returned to the van and returned to the rushing freeway.
"So what are you planning on doing once we get there? Harass every camper you see?"
"I don't need to harass anyone. I have a feeling."
"Yes, you know, when you have emotions, sometimes they tell you things about how you feel, hence the word "feeling" not that you would know anything about emotions, except for being an angry dumpling. You know a lot about that." Lisbon was silent before slowly looking to him, glaring through her highly tinted sunglasses.
"What have I ever done to you?"
"Oh really? Well get comfortable because the list is quite long. You know," he tilted his head to face her, "you look like an ostrich with those sunglasses on, an angry little pink face with two black eyes. Doesn't really suit you." Lisbon stared ahead; Jane could see her lips tightening, and her face melting into a horrible sour expression. He enjoyed this face because that meant he pushed her buttons good, but the aftermath of the torture was almost always not worth it, but he still couldn't help his smile.
"You be silent the rest of the ride," she growled, "and I might reconsider unlocking the car doors and throwing you out onto the road."
"Oh," Jane sucked loudly on the lollypop, "Then you can investigate your own murder," he sat silent for a moment before saying through a mouth full of lollypop, "I don't like this idea."
"Then eat your candy, and shut up." She stepped on the gas, jerking him about for the second time, causing Lisbon's phone to fly off the dashboard and onto his lap, which went unnoticed by the agent.
"Hey, where are Rigsby and all them?" Lisbon sighed loudly and unlocked the doors, jerking her enraged face in his direction. He held up his hands peacefully, before settling into his seat and pressing buttons on the phone. As the small numbers beeped she looked back.
"Jane, what the hell are you doing?"
"Just looking at all your pictures, oh hm that's a strange one," Lisbon shot him a look, trying to keep from crashing, again. "…and your texts…oh my god, well I wish I didn't see that one. Oh, and who is Walkybaby91, Officer Walker?"
"This is why they put toddlers in the back seats, damn't!" With that Lisbon flung her arm over to him, but Jane dodged it, slumping out from her reach, and continued to browse through her contacts.
"Actually that's a safety precaution." He licked his lolly before slurping it loudly.
"Jane." She threatened.
"Oh calm down, I was only fibbing, I was really jumping through your contacts, if you were a mentalist you would know that." He pressed a button before putting the phone to his ear. "I didn't see any of you and Walker's love letters, so relax. You know," he looked to her, "I didn't know the love went both ways." As the dial tone echoed, Lisbon tightened her grip on the steering wheel in frustration.
"Who are you calling?" She barked. Jane leaned back in his seat, and began to bite the green candy. "Jane!"
"Hello Rigsby. Lisbon is threatening to murder me, how's your car ride?"