Disclaimer: The Mentalist or anything related to it does not belong to me.
A.N. So, what about that season finale, eh? I honestly couldn't be happier! Bruno Heller, I would give you a hug if I could. And a cookie, because everyone likes cookies. Okay, so firstly I need to apologise for my lack of knowledge about Geography. I've never been to California. I've also never been to Chicago. So this chapter's going to be a bit of a filler so I can fix my ignorance. I hope you find it up to standard. Enjoy!
When Lisbon returned home, the red light of her answering machine was blinking, demanding her attention. Instead of complying with its wishes, she dumped her bag at the front door and dragged herself upstairs. As she slowly changed into sweats which were significantly more comfortable, she mulled over who would be calling her. Most people called her cell or her work number. In fact, the only time her house phone rang it was usually an annoying call centre on the other end. On the rare occasion that it wasn't, it was one of her brothers.
She really didn't want to talk to her brothers. Not about this.
Tommy, she could deal with. His recollections of his father were few and scattered. He would be more worried about the strain it would put her under. Once he was sufficiently reassured that she would be able to deal with it, he'd never mention it again. She prayed that there would only be a message from him on her machine.
Michael and James would be more difficult to deal with. She hoped neither of them had heard. As soon as James, the younger of the two had turned eighteen, they had both moved back to Chicago. James, the fireman, would probably be the most distraught about the news, but Michael was a cop, a detective like her. He was aiming for the top and his fury over finding out that his father had been murdered from a fellow cop, or worse, the television, rather than his sister, would overshadow his rage at the fact that his father had been murdered.
Too exhausted to cook, she ordered Thai food to be delivered and collapsed on the couch and began to flick though TV channels, desperate to find something to distract her from that bloody red light.
She succumbed less than five minutes later.
"You have one new message." She sighed. Hopefully it was Tommy and the news hadn't reached Chicago yet.
"Hey 'Rease," Tommy's voice, distorted by the phone but easily recognisable, filtered thought the speakers, "I saw you on the news- are you okay? Your arm's in a sling. I mean, you know your arm's in a sling and why it's in a sling, but, I didn't know you were hurt and I don't know what happened- Basically, Annabeth saw it and she's worried and... Just, call when you get this, okay?"
Teresa huffed out a sigh followed by a laugh when the message ended. She loved that boy, she really did. With a soft smile that she didn't realise she was wearing, she picked up the phone to call him back.
Three phone calls and a takeout later, Teresa was beat. Tommy had been wonderful about the whole thing. What could have, and probably should have been a serious and heavy conversation had turned somewhat light and playful, especially after Annabeth- rather, Annie, as she now preferred to be called, had kidnapped the phone from her father. At the end of the conversation she was convinced that both her brother and her niece were keeping well and she was in a much better frame of mind for calling James.
James had been predictably distressed about the whole thing. She knew it was a terrible thing to think, but she had found it easier to speak to him as Agent Lisbon consoling a family member of an anonymous victim rather than as Teresa speaking to her brother. He has asked a lot of questions, some of which she could answer and others she could only tell him that he would find out the answers to as soon as she did.
Michael had asked a lot of questions too but his had been about evidence and procedure rather than question of the 'Why?' nature. As she had expected, Michael had been grateful to learn about the whole sorry situation from her rather than a colleague. But when he had learned that her team would be heading up the case the phone went suddenly quiet.
"But you can't." He had stated, after a moment, or several, had passed. "You're family, Teresa. You know as well as I do that a no one can investigate the death of a member of their own family. Unless the law's different down there in Sacramento?"
Of course, the only way to answer that particular question was to tell him that she was on medical leave, a fact that she had managed to hide from James. This, in turn, led to a thorough scolding on the subject of how she wasn't careful enough. Michael, unlike his sister, had somehow managed to survive his entire law enforcement career without getting shot a single time, a fact that Teresa was grateful for but found somewhat aggravating as Michael seemed to think it gave him permission to nag his big sister about taking care of herself.
That was supposed to be her job, damn it!
Still, she managed to wrestle a bit of sisterly affection into the end of the conversation when she asked him to check up on James, explaining that he had taken the news a lot worse than the rest of them had. Two of her brothers may have been states away from her, but at least they had each other, she consoled herself.
Shattered, she climbed the stairs and crawled into bed. With the phone calls that she had been dreading out of the way without too much pain, she slept that night better than she had in weeks.
Kimball Cho didn't have many nervous habits. In fact, one might think he had none at all. He certainly didn't wear his emotions openly. Yet, somehow, the minute his boss climbed into the SUV he was driving, she called him on his edginess with barely a glance.
"I know that look. What did you find, Cho?"
Pulling the vehicle away from the sidewalk, Cho sighed. Seriously? Had she picked up some freaky psychic powers from Jane or something? "How'd you know?"
"You were tapping your hands against the steering wheel and the radio's off. Stop stalling."
Yep, freaky psychic powers. Definitely. "In July 1987 your family left Chicago and came to California. Do you know why?"
Lisbon shrugged awkwardly with one shoulder. "My father had lost his job so there wasn't much of a reason to stay. We had family living here at the time too."
"Duncan and Lisa Ross? Your father's sister and her husband?" Cho confirmed. He slowed to a stop at the traffic lights and turned to see Lisbon nod.
"Yeah, that's them." She turned to look out the window, but Cho wasn't done.
"So you've never heard of Victor Dalton?"
Lisbon's head whipped round so quickly, Cho was surprised that she hadn't given herself whiplash. "Who?"
Cho didn't answer. They were just about to pull into CBI Headquarters and her questions could wait until he had Rigsby there to make all the embarrassing mistakes.
"Vic Dalton," Rigsby laid out the file in front of her. "Loan Shark. Arthur Lisbon borrowed thirty thousand dollars from him and as far as I can see, he never paid it back."
Lisbon ran her hand through her hair. "Great." Her tone of voice was odd, as though the word encompassed her dismay at her father's activities but also her satisfaction at having a lead in the case. "What do we have on him?"
Rigsby shuffled in his seat, abashed. "That's the thing. We have nothing." Avoiding Lisbon's gaze, just in case it was disappointed or disapproving, he continued, "He died in prison eight years ago. Shanked by another inmate. All the records of his business are filed in evidence but..."
"But they're in Chicago. Got it." Lisbon finished for him. She smiled at him, pleased with what he had uncovered so far, putting him at ease. "I'll drop them a line. One of my brothers works Chicago PD. Maybe we can play the sympathy card."
So for the second time in less than twenty four hours, she called Michael. It had to be a record.
To the untrained eye, Grace looked in good shape when she arrived at the CBI Headquarters for her interview with O'Donnell. She was dressed nicely with her hair pulled back in a neat ponytail and her makeup was impeccable. Only someone such as Lisbon, who had hidden all too many darkened and tired eyes with makeup, would have noticed her fatigue.
Still, it was nice to be back. Wayne had welcomed her back with open arms, his attitude towards her unchanged even after she had broken down in his arms. Cho had unveiled his dimples at her return- a rare treat. Even the interview with O'Donnell , which she had been dreading, had gone well. Lisbon had sat beside her during the interview, never interfering or interrupting the questions she was being asked, which Grace was grateful for. Obviously her boss hadn't lost her confidence in her. But Lisbon had stayed with her, keeping her promise, and that support was all she needed. She suspected, though she'd never ask if her suspicions were correct, that the interview would have been more of an interrogation had the Senior Agent not been present. O'Donnell seemed to have a certain respect for the diminutive woman.
Having someone listen to her view of the disaster with Craig without judging her made her feel better, Grace mused afterwards. She felt lighter. Cleaner, in an odd sort of way.
Or maybe it was just the company, and the sun beaming down on her, as she sat outside the CBI in the small cafe, that was improving her mood. Her flat had been so dark and quiet since Charlie had left.
Hightower had dragged Grace and Lisbon outside for a coffee break. Actually, Madeleine had enlisted Grace's assistance in getting Lisbon to take a break and step back from whatever their new case was. According to Hightower, Lisbon was still supposed to be on medical leave yet she hadn't missed a day of work since she'd been released from the hospital.
And so, the three women sat, basking in the glow of the sun, occasionally talking about inconsequential matters but mostly they sat in silence. In all honestly, the only thing all three had in common was their work and their mutual admiration of the cute Latino fellow that was tending the coffee cart.
"Dare I ask how the case is going?" Madeleine asked, eventually bringing the conversation onto the former of the two topics.
Lisbon sat up a little straighter at that. "We-" she was cut off by a loud cough and a pointed look from Hightower. "Cho and Rigsby," she amended, "have found a lead back to a loan shark back in Chicago. The guy's deceased, but his files are still in evidence. We're waiting for Chicago PD to send us a copy."
Grace listened in, fascinated, as Hightower asked, "You think it was him?"
Lisbon shook her head. "No. I mean, it's certainly possible. But I don't think Vic Dalton would have chased him all the way to San Francisco to collect thirty grand. Plus, my father died two years after we left Chicago. Why'd he have waited so long to kill him?"
Both women turned to stare at Grace's outburst. Swapping looks with Lisbon, Hightower leaned back in her chair. Van Pelt was on Teresa's team- she could field this one.
"A detective from SFPD found evidence that my father may have been murdered, instead of having killed himself." Lisbon stated bluntly. "Since we're the only team not on a case right now, we-" she stopped herself without Hightower's intervention, "Cho and Rigsby, caught it. Obviously if another case comes up, it will take precedence and the guys will have to put this on the backburner."
Van Pelt was stunned. How had she not noticed that something this big had happened? Had she been so wrapped up in her own problems (and, to be fair, she had some pretty big problems) that she hadn't noticed something was off? Or had she just attributed it to Jane being in prison? She was at a loss what to say. All she managed was a quiet, "I'm so sorry. The guys didn't say anything."
Teresa shrugged. "It's fine. It's just weird, that's all. I'd come to terms with him committing suicide a long time ago. It's strange to think that's not what really happened."
And as the conversation turned onto a different vein, Teresa continued to think. What would she do when she eventually caught up with her father's killer? The righteous anger had been fleeting and she had come to terms with her father's death many years ago. Would the enormity of the truth hit her all at once, or would it slowly seep into her life, becoming an obsession, like Red John had been with Jane?
No, she decided. She was an officer of the law. She would push aside her own personal feelings until it was all over if she had to. She'd had plenty of practice doing that in the past and if it was necessary she would do so again.
A.N. Okay, filler chapter over. Next is the pre-trial! Let me know what you think!