So this idea came from re – watching the episode where Lisbon says that the team is a family and me giving the characters on my mobile Oregon Trail game the names from The Mentalist. And then I decided to make a full fledged fic out of it. I'm not going to give you guys a huge A/N, but basically this is based off of the actual show, but it just takes place in the early 1840s and is an Oregon Trail fic. Lots of stuff from the show will appear in this fic as close to how they actually happened as possible while fitting the time period.
I don't own anything.
Teresa Jane made a face at the strawberries that were presented at the marketplace. Rotted. Not to the point that one could tell for sure by looking at them, but the strong strawberry smell that surrounded the fruit stand and the slight discoloration of the berries themselves were enough to tell her that. "These are no good," she told the angry looking man standing beside them.
"You will not find strawberries this cheap anywhere else in the area," he told her, folding his arms. Teresa wrinkled her nose – he smelled worse than the berries. "Everyone else cheats you. I am honest."
"Just because your sign doesn't say 'fresh' does not mean that you are being honest," she told him. "I don't know where you grow these to have them weeks ahead of anyone else, but they aren't worth anything."
"You ain't worth anything," he sneered, turning slightly from her to target the crowd ahead of him. "Strawberries! Cheap strawberries!"
Teresa rolled her eyes and continued on. She was one of the few widows who hadn't had to turn to prostitution to provide for her children after her husband's death. That was certainly worth something. Not worth arguing with the smelly man over, but something nonetheless. However, not having to turn to prostitution didn't mean she could afford to buy strawberries the moment that anyone had them, even as a married lady once again, she had to wait until June when the surplus drove down the prices.
For now, her main concern was finding her husband. She turned down the dusty main street and sidestepped two boys running about with bird whistles. She was glad that her sons weren't into playing with those things; excessive noise was not something that she was good with dealing with.
"Hey! Hey! Teresa!"
She looked up – an odd direction to follow a voice – and her face showed her shock at the site of her husband standing on top of the blacksmith's shop. He gave her a grin, waved…and then turned and jumped off the back of the house.
She burst into a run, shouting his name as she crossed the street and ran around the side of the building, expecting to find him lying lifeless and wondering why. He had ambitions, he had a life goal. And none of that included grinning at his wife and then jumping off a building onto the metal hitching posts that George Smith had behind his facility.
She didn't find him lying lifeless. She didn't find him lying there at all. She frantically scanned the yard before her eyes wandered up again. There he was, grinning down at her from a sheet that he had tied to the trees and had fallen onto, now lying in it like a hammock. "No worries. I'm fine."
"You scare the life out of me and then just grin like you've accomplished something you've been working on for months on end?" she said. "If I have anything to say about it, you're not going to be 'fine' for very long."
"Ah," he said, waving a hand dismissively. "You'll have forgiven me by supper. You always do."
"Patrick Jane, what on God's green Earth prompted you to do this?" she said. "What even is that, anyway?"
"It's a hammock," he said. "I suspect it is where George Junior and young Priscilla Campbell come to act married, but it reminded me quite a bit of when my father and I used to pretend to plummet to our deaths in the Shaconage Mountains for money."
"Well, glad you got to experience a bit of nostalgia this afternoon," she said. "Come with me. Wayne is still sick and if you expect me to haggle with Rebecca for seed, we need to start for home now."
Jane rolled to the side so the sheet tilted. He caught the edges with his hands and hung there in the air for a moment before letting go and dropping to the ground. "I'll come with you," he said, "but I don't need you to haggle for seed."
"Really?" she said. "You have other plans for us this year?"
Jane stopped and looked around; as if to make sure that they were alone. "I have found something out, Teresa. Today. I'd suspected for a week or so, but today it was confirmed."
"Sharing is good," she said, nodding.
"The blind woman who had…relations, with Red John Bandit," he said. "She told me today that he sent her a letter from Independence, Missouri. He's Oregon bound, Teresa."
"That's good," she said. "He won't be here to taunt you anymore."
"No," he said. "No, it's not good. He thinks he's winning. He thinks that I'll never find him. But there are so few settlements in Oregon. It would be quite easy. And he would never know we were on our way."
What he was saying hit her. "No."
He lowered his head slightly. "Teresa."
"No," she said. "I'm not uprooting my children and dragging them across the country for your revenge."
"Oh, come on, they'll love it! You know Wayne and Grace are always up for an adventure, and Kimball, he takes everything in stride. And Grace, she'll be valued out there. That Shoshone woman who went with Lewis and Clark to the Pacific Ocean? She got a vote in where they would winter. I guarantee you that equal rights will be in place in the West before they are out here. And the untamed wilderness could do for her sweet smile. Yours, too."
Teresa felt herself start to smile. Jane smiled back, but his eyes weren't cooperating with the upward mouth. In them was a need to finish what he'd started years ago – find the man who had murdered his first wife and their daughter that night in the early eighteen thirties. Find him and kill him. If she agreed to follow him to Oregon, she could help him do that. She hadn't been able to help her mother and her father; she'd barely been able to help her children after their father had died. She could help her husband, and help him she would.
"All right," she said.
"All right?" Jane asked. "You'll go?"
She smiled and shrugged. "What am I supposed to say? No?"
Hope you enjoyed chapter one! The next chapter will be up soon – can't promise when, though, I'm updating Fire of Unknown Origin as well. Also, the title does have some greater significance than it may originally appear – I didn't just pick a word for 'red' at random.