Disclaimer: It should be understood that, if I owned the Mentalist, I wouldn't be writing; I would be having tea this very moment with Simon-Patrick.
It'd been a busy week for the CBI team headed by one Teresa Lisbon. The bullpen was settling after the arrest of Philip Dawes, a man who murdered three people in an attempt to hide his embezzling scheme. It was actually a very clever ruse, what with Philip pretending to be Phelicia. The only thing left for the CBI team to do now was file the appropriate forms and hope that the prosecuting lawyer didn't completely ruin everything by questioning just how they'd acquired certain pieces of evidence.
Now, today was a fresh day, and as of yet, no one had been important enough had been murdered to draw the CBI in. Rigsby was talking on his cell phone, and the way he angled his chair away from Van Pelt suggested he was speaking to the lovely Sarah. Van Pelt sat before her computer, that intent look of concentration on her face. She pretended as if she wasn't aware of her ex's conversation with his girlfriend. Jane wondered if those two would forever dance around in their so-called semblance of closure for the rest of their lives.
It was likely.
His jacket stretched over the armrest, Jane shifted on his couch and stared up at his watermark Elvis. Only Elvis now looked like Abraham Lincoln. It seemed as though the water had spread. He frowned at the ceiling before shrugging and closing his eyes. As long as the ceiling didn't collapse, he'd get over it. Besides, there was a spot next to Honest Abe that resembled Audrey Hepburn.
He heard Cho approach, the no-nonsense pitter pat of his shoes striding across the floor. There was a slight hesitation, his back no doubt giving him trouble since his run in with Lisbon's brother.
"What's up, Cho?" He spoke, and aside from that, gave no other indication that he was aware of Cho's presence.
"Don't do that. Lisbon wants to see you now."
"Did she say why?"
"Is it important?"
"Honestly, Cho, you're a detective. You didn't get a vibe?"
"I have never gotten a vibe before in my life. Except for that one time I got hit with a taser."
Jane threw his legs over the side of the couch and stood, taking a moment to straighten his navy vest. He walked to Van Pelt's desk as her fingers flew across her keyboard at an incredible speed.
"Hey, are you doing all right?"
Van Pelt glanced at him, not even pausing in her work.
"I'm fine. Why?" She asked, sending him a suspicious glance. Jane smiled.
"Ah, you just seem tense. Like you're watching a suspense movie and the girl's just gotten to the bottom of the stairs," Jane explained, watching the way she didn't watch Rigsby stride out of the bullpen.
"I'm not tense," she said.
"Well, you just seemed like it. Cho, doesn't she seem tense?"
"I'm not in this," the agent replied from his desk, studiously ignoring the resident troublemaker's antics.
"Well," Jane continued, not missing a beat, "this dark aura is coming off of you in waves. You want some tea?"
"You don't believe in auras. And no, thank you."
"You need tea, Grace."
"I don't want tea, Jane."
"Either tea or a hug."
Hands stilled over her keyboard, Van Pelt looked at him. Brows raised, he held his arms out, clearly threatening.
"I can go either way, Van Pelt," he challenged. "It's all up to you."
She forced a tight smile and said, "Whatever. Get me the tea."
"One cup of tea for our hard-working girl," he winked then jerked a thumb to Lisbon's office, "coming right up after I talk to Lisbon."
Jane walked away and didn't need to look to know that Van Pelt was rolling her eyes. This case had been trying for the team, Van Pelt especially. Some chamomile tea would settle her nerves.
Two light taps on her door preceded Jane's entrance. Before he could ask what was up, Lisbon hit him a Look, and he wordlessly shut the door.
"I perceive that we have a very serious situation on our hands."
"Not necessarily our hands. There was an arrest in Napa Valley," Lisbon elaborated as Jane crossed to her couch. "Homicide of a businessman staying at a resort. The suspect in custody publicly threatened to kill the man a day before, and the police chief there likes him for it."
"And? I mean, of course it's very tragic about this man's death, but…so what? Oh, this isn't going to another of those political things that get you all stressed out, is it?"
Lisbon looked as if she were bracing herself for an explosion. He couldn't imagine why she would think one was coming. To ease her mind, he all but melted her into her comfortable couch and propped one ankle over the other knee. The picture of non-explosive calm.
"The suspect's name is Alexander Jane," she blurted.
Jane stared at her for a moment, tilting his head bemusedly. He allowed none of his feelings to show on his face, holding it to that same blasé expression. Several thoughts flitted through his mind and just as many questions. He only asked one.
"…And are we taking the case?"
"We don't have to if you don't want."
"Lisbon," he grinned, "I am not in charge here. That's not my call to make."
"Cut it out, Jane, and give me a straight answer. Do you, or do you not want this case?"
"I don't want to interfere with the fine police I'm sure was performed by the Napa Valley forces. It's not as if we have to go behind every murder in the state, right?"
"Right. So we won't take the case then," she inferred.
"You're the boss. I appreciate the heads up, Lisbon," he said, standing.
"No problem. I'm glad you're not upset about this."
"Just a question, but do they have any other suspects?"
"Yeah, a couple. So far all evidence is pointing toward him though so they're not pressing too hard on the others."
Jane could see that she was worried. She had every reason to be. The last time his family had been involved in a murder investigation, the higher ups had been in her ear about conflict of interests and handling her people better. Thankfully, everything had worked out well with his brother-in-law, all things considered.
"What are you thinking?" she tentatively asked.
"I'm thinking I need to get some tea into Van Pelt before she snaps."
Without another word, Jane calmly walked out of her office. He could feel her eyes on him and imagined a woe-be-gone expression on her face. She needn't worry. It wasn't as if he was going to do something foolish. It really wasn't as terrible as she was thinking.
Jane plucked his suit jacket off and pulled it on, walking behind Van Pelt as he went.
"Van Pelt, I'm going to have to run out and get more tea. We're fresh out."
"Be pack in a couple of hours."
"Uh-huh," was Van Pelt's distracted reply.
A moment after he left, she froze and glanced around, annoyed.
"A couple of hours?"
The interrogation room they'd dropped Alex Jane in was boring. His eyes skimmed over the plain gray walls, the steel gray table, then stared longingly at the door. His gaze eventually flicked back to the two-way glass across from him.
From the other side, Patrick observed his father with seeming callous indifference. The officer who'd been ordered to assist him watched the consultant with growing weariness.
"Were you…gonna go in some time?"
Jane ignored him, solely focused on any tells from his father. He was searching for any tells, any indication of guilt or nervousness. For ten minutes, he'd watched and found not even a hint. Of course, this was the man who taught him his skills. If there was anything to find, it wouldn't be easy.
Abruptly, he turned on his heel and ducked out the door, not pausing at the other before entering the interrogation room. Clever, grey eyes slid to him, and a dark brow rose.
"Well, look what the cat dragged in. My boy, the cop's personal dog."
"Let's skip the sentimental gushing and get straight to it."
Patrick sat in the chair across from his father, settling back and crossing his legs, seemingly at ease. His father, on other hand, leaned forward, propping his chin in one hand.
"Sounds good. A little harsh, but whatever."
"Did you kill this man?"
"What if I said yes?"
Jane didn't have to think to consider, didn't blink as he answered.
"Then you'll go to prison. There's enough evidence against you, a child could convict you."
"And if I said no?"
"Then you'll be tried and might go to prison. It's really not that bad on the inside, as long as you have someone to bring you muffins."
"But I'm innocent, Patrick."
"Even if you didn't kill him, you're still guilty of numerous other crimes. You deserve to be in jail."
"I could say the same for you."
He didn't deny it. Alex leaned back in his chair, eying Jane critically.
"You act like you're better than me, boy. There's no real difference between us. We're just running two different cons. The problem with you, I think you're starting to confuse the con with reality."
"No, you're wrong there. We may be alike in ways that only father and son can be, but the real difference with us: I have a conscience."
Alex chuckled shortly and propped his feet atop the table, folding his arms behind his head.
"I'm counting on that."
Not for the first time, Patrick questioned his decision to come here. Despite himself and the years, his father still held a small, near ineffectual hold on him. He didn't particularly like his father as a human being and knew him perfectly capable of murdering a man for whatever reason. The knife described was much like the ones Alex had taught him to handle when he was younger. As a boy, he'd gotten the opportunity to see his father best a man in a knife fight. The rather pudgy victim would have been easy for Alex to handle, to simply slice his belly open like a fish.
Still, he was his father, helped mold him into the man he was now, and sometimes, he actually liked that man.
It was a foregone conclusion in his father's mind that Patrick would help him; he'd seen it in his eyes the moment he'd walked through the door.
That didn't mean he had to be so smug about it though. Was this how Patrick made other people feel? He was almost sorry.
Still, Patrick wasn't going to let Alex know that he knew that he already knew. Not yet.
So instead of responding to that, Patrick said,"Napa Valley. That's a little high end for you."
"What can I say? Your old man's moved up in the world."
"Mm. It would have been hard to go lower."
Mocking, Alex gasped and laid a hand over his heart. He smirked at his son."Now what?"
"Well, you threatened to kill a man, and you do have a record of violence so…Take a wild guess."
"Boy," Alex let his legs drop to the floor and leaned forward, pointing at Patrick, "if I were gonna kill someone, I would be his very best friend until the day I quietly led him to a private place and shot him with someone else's gun. Not announce it to everyone and do it a day later."
Patrick had watched his father, his eyes, his hands, his mouth. He took in the relaxed posture, the smug assurance coming off him that of man secure in his innocence. Or a sociopath. There was also the possibility that he was both.
"Those are just words," Patrick refuted, "A good argument to make in court. They have evidence."
"They had evidence on you too. A smoking gun and a shopping mall full of witnesses, as I recall," Alex grinned crookedly, almost looking proud. "Sloppy spectacle that was, but you managed pretty good, I'd say."
Patrick leaned forward, hands laid flat against the table.
"Look me in the eye," he urged, "and tell me: did you kill this man?"
Alex mirrored his position and answered: "No."
Father and son held each other's gaze for a long moment, searching and probing for the other's bluff, the game behind it all. Then Patrick abruptly pulled away and stood, heading for the door.
"I'll see what I can do."
The next day shone bright and glorious, and the first thing Jane said to anyone was: "I want the case."
Seated at her desk, bent over paperwork, Lisbon looked up at him, startled. She hadn't heard him come in and usually, Jane's entrances were full of fanfare and bravado and the occasional impending dread.
"Don't do that," she scolded, hand settling away from her gun. "What case?"
"Okay. What made you change your mind?"
"He's my father, Lisbon. He didn't do this."
"All right. We'll find out who really did this. Your dad will be fine."
Jane nodded, a slight, crooked grin tucked into his lips. Lisbon was trying to be comforting, which was sweet of her. He backed out of her office without another word, a slight niggling feeling worming through his head and stomach.
He retreated to the kitchen to drown it in tea. By the second cup, he remembered he'd meant to get some for Van Pelt the night before, and the red-head had yet to show up yet. He decided against a third cup when that sickening feeling didn't go away.
He was lying. Both Alex and Patrick. One in claiming innocence, the other in pretending to believe him. Jane so hoped that the conscience his father condemned him for would one day stop nagging him about sticking his neck out for that very same man. Or maybe that was self-preservation and common sense harping at him.
Either way, Jane felt near certain that this case would at least be very interesting.