Started out as just a drabble- I didn't actually have any intention on this becoming a real story. It morphed out of my control, and this is what was produces. Note that I don't own The Mentalist. Allons-y!
Something was coming. He could feel it, deep down in his very bones. Something big, something loud and obstinate… it was almost here. His facial muscles twitched with anticipation-
"Kchhhh!" Patrick Jane sneezed, doing his best to stifle it, covering his nose with a handkerchief. Ah, yes. That was it.
"Do you have some insight, Jane?" Lisbon asked, raising one eyebrow at him. He could practically see the cogs working in her mind, certain that he was plotting something. He wondered if she'd been this paranoid before he'd joined the unit, or if that was his fault.
"Sneezes travel at over 90 miles per hour," he said.
"Great. Thanks. I mean about the case."
"Well you should've said so!" he said, pretending to be affronted. He grinned to let her know he was kidding (she often missed his sarcasm, resulting in many needless rages, which made him worry about her blood pressure). "Look at Riley's bank statements and other money records. The knives in the kitchen look like they had genuine African blackwood handles. No schoolteacher makes enough for those."
"Van Pelt, see what you can find out. Cho, go with Rigsby and follow the leads on the sister- if Riley was pedaling, then she we have to find her before the dealers do," Lisbon ordered, the agents taking their jobs and departing accordingly.
Jane cleared his throat. Lisbon rolled her eyes.
"What now?" she asked him. He blinked innocently up at her from his position on the couch.
"Nothing," he replied, clearing his throat again. She stared at him for a long moment, and he was conscious not to fidget or look uncomfortable under her gaze, putting on the appearance of comfort and disinterestedness as he read his book.
A slow grin came across her face as she stared at him. He glanced at her sideways, finally sighing and putting the book down, sitting up. When he got himself technically upright, he blinked for a moment before managing to focus on her around his head rush.
"Your staring and grinning is making me nervous," he accused mildly, trying to read her eyes and see what on earth she was smirking about. "You look like the cat that got the canary."
"Do one thing for me, and I'll tell you," she teased. He thought about it for a microsecond, then replied without hesitation.
"Fine." His voice was challenging and slightly petulant, like a child.
"Good. I want you to close your eyes and hold absolutely still," she told him, hands on her hips, looking very boss-like indeed. He sighed at her theatrics and did as she said.
A moment later, he jumped slightly at the feel of her cool hand on his forehead. He heard her laugh at his reaction. Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, Lisbon, he silently grumbled, grumpy at her triumph, among other things.
"I knew it," she said, victory in her voice. He opened one eye and looked up at her. She removed her hand and adopted that 'ha-ha I win' expression that he so love/hated.
"Great. Uphold your half of the bargain, please," he requested.
"You're sick," she teased, still beaming like it was the most wonderful thing in the world.
"You're beaming like it's the most wonderful thing in the world. Why?" he asked.
"Then you don't deny it?"
"Of course I deny it, I thought that was a given. I've told you, I don't get sick," he protested impassively.
"And that's why I'm smiling. Get out of here before your symptoms start to hit hard. If you ask nicely, I'll give you a ride home."
"I'm sorry to tell you, Lisbon, but your mother-woman instincts are wrong. I know I usually say the opposite, but you're off today," he said sadly, shaking his head. "I feel fine." That was a lie, but Lisbon was awful at picking up on it when he lied.
His head felt kind of swimmy, like it was full of water. Or something heavier than water, like olive oil. And his throat was a little gummy, and his sinuses had a mild ache- but all of those could be explained by fatigue or dehydration.
"And I'm saying that you aren't. You don't feel it yet, you're still incubating like a big goose egg, and it's going to hatch and we're going to have a big sick goose Jane walking around spreading his plague," Lisbon reasoned in her slow, insistent voice. She might have a point.
Nah. He made an exaggerated pouty face, sticking his lower lip out and widening his eyes, clasping his hands between his knees. She choked back a laugh, and he could see her loosening up.
"Fine," she said eventually, amused. "But if- when," she corrected, "you get sick, I'm not taking care of you. I'll ship you home with some heartless agent to drive you, and I'll tell you 'I told you so'."
"Heartless agent. You or Cho, then?" he asked. She turned and gave him a stern look, then continued back to her office.
"I'm going to grab my keys, then we're going to talk to Harley," she said, naming a troubled student who was high on their suspect list.
They drove mostly in silence, because Lisbon kept talking to Cho and Van Pelt on her phone about updates, and Jane felt no need to fill the space between calls. His throat really was starting to get a dry, scraped feeling. He didn't want to rasp or sound hoarse and prove Lisbon right. And the car ride wasn't helping his wooziness- he found himself forced to watch the road and focus on keeping himself steady, rather than think over the case and plot like he usually did on car rides. He liked plotting.
"So what are you plotting?" Lisbon asked as they turned up the driveway to Harley's mother's house.
"Plotting? I don't plot," he denied.
"Fine. I don't expect you to tell me, anyways," she said dismissively, though she sneaked glances at his face, trying to see the thoughts beneath his perpetually cheerful mask.
The duo approached the house. It was small and looked very lived-in, but it wasn't dirty or messy, just a little worn. Lisbon knocked on the door, and the woman that answered was even shorter than Lisbon, with glasses and curly brown hair and a small mouth.
"Hello! Can I help you?" the woman asked in a shrill, friendly voice. Lisbon blinked in surprise- she'd expected a junkie mother, not this sweet little woman.
"Are you Shelia Michaud?" Lisbon asked.
"Ma'am, we're with the CBI, and we're investigating a case about one of Harley's teachers, Mr. Jackson Riley," Lisbon said formally, avoiding words like 'murder' and 'suspect' in front of the delicate woman. She showed her badge.
"Oh! Yes, he was one of Harley's teachers. I met him at parent-teacher conferences. What a shame," the woman said, shaking her head.
"What did you think of him?" Jane asked. Ms. Michaud practically melted under his gaze.
"I don't like to speak ill of the dead…" Jane's smile won her over, and she continued, "But he was a bit dodgy, I guess. Quirky, and not in a cute way. Unemotional, detached, only worried about scores and status. He and my poor boy didn't get along."
"We'd like to ask you and Harley some questions, if you don't mind," Lisbon asked.
"No, not at all! In fact, I just a cake, and I was expecting Delilah, my neighbor to come over, but she got called in to work. You can eat with us," Shelia suggested delightedly.
"Thank you, Ms. Michaud, but we're just here for a few questions," Lisbon said, despite the fact that her modest BLT lunch seemed like a long time ago.
"I insist! It's rude to eat in front of others without sharing. And call me Shelia," Shelia said, not unkindly. Lisbon wondered how on earth this polite lady produced such a troubled boy. She smiled.
"Thank you, Shelia," she conceded. The woman opened the door wide to let them in, and the heavenly scent of vanilla wafted out, making Lisbon very glad she'd accepted.
Jane's reaction was very different.
He'd detected his stomach's unease in the car, and it had only grown since the first stop sign. Now the smell of food made his nausea hit him like a train. He turned white as a sheet, feeling a wave of heat roll across his face, while his fingers and toes felt very cold.
"I think I'll wait in the car," he managed to rasp before quickly making his way back to the curb, sucking in fresh air. Shelia and Lisbon looked at each other, and the mother was puzzled to see wicked glee in the agent's eyes.
"I'm sorry about him… he insisted he was fine. Looks like he was wrong. Again, I'm sorry… We'll have to talk later. I've got to get him back," she said with genuine sincerity. Shelia nodded.
"Of course. Friends and family first," she agreed. "Wish him well for me."
"I will. Thank you," Lisbon said, and approached her ill comrade. She looked him over, his fists clenched, neck tense, lips red, and face white. He was obviously fighting his stomach with all he had.
"Well, well, well," Lisbon said cheerfully.
We all love Jane whump. It gets better, you wait!