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“A telepath. Who's willing to help us.” Teresa Lisbon lets her voice echo her disbelief. What the hell; if the guy sitting in front of Minelli's desk is really a telepath, he'll know she doesn't believe it.

“Agent Lisbon,” Minelli says patiently. He looks old, in the flickering gas light; they keep saying they'll get around to putting in electrick lights in the CBI building, and God knows with all the cold iron they keep in the place it'll be more reliable here than anywhere else in the city – but they haven't, and so Minelli looks old, in the lamplight, and Lisbon feels suddenly guilty.

“Boss, I'm just not sure this is going to work. With all due respect for Mr. Jane, the CBI has tried this. It usually doesn't turn out so well.”

She knows Minelli is uncertain, too; can feel it, like a twitchy second skin, prickles of worry barely held in check. But that's her little secret, one Minelli doesn't need to know. If telepaths are unreliable, prone to hearing the wrong thoughts, empaths are just as bad. The one thing Teresa Lisbon isn't is unreliable.

But I don't want to work with a telepath because he might tell you what I never bothered to mention isn't a useful thing to say, so she keeps her mouth shut.

“Lisbon, just give it a chance, okay? It's not like we couldn't use the help.”

“I think Agent Lisbon is worried I'll spill all her secrets to you,” the telepath, Jane, says. He looks – cute, definitely, maybe even nice; blond curls, blue eyes that crinkle when he smiles, like he's doing now, the beginnings of laugh lines. But there's something – fractured, under the surface. He wants this. He wants this badly. Lisbon wonders why.

“Fine,” she admits defeat. “A chance. Singular, not plural.”

“Oh, you won't regret it,” Jane promises, standing. He's dressed neutrally – camouflage, Lisbon thinks, then wonders why she thinks it – greys and off-whites, linen and wool. The three-piece suit is the clothing of leisure, not work; it says money. Which rules out that motive for pursuing this. Leaves a lot of others.

“You're the telepath. You know I already do,” she retorts. Telepaths don't shake hands, normally, but Jane takes her thoughtlessly offered hand without a pause; a lot of control, then.

Okay. Maybe.

After all, she's just promised a chance; it should be a fair one. If he's like all the other mind-readers she's ever seen work with the police, he'll be huddled in a corner inside a week, driven back into his own head by the swirling emotions and angry thoughts that surround homicides. She won't have to do anything.

Telepathy. Like clairvoyance, like every other damned supernatural talent, Lisbon thinks the world can get along just fine without it. Besides. Telepaths, in particular, are creepy.

“You want to meet the team, then?” she asks.

Jane smiles. “Love to.”

Minelli nods approval as they leave his office.

“You know,” Jane says, as they approach her team's desks – he seems to know the way there already, but, then, telepath – “I won't spill your secrets. Honest. And I won't be like all the others.”

“I'm sure.” She doesn't bother to hide her skepticism.

But she can sense a calm certitude in him that belies her skepticism. It might be false. Will be proven so. Lisbon's just curious where he got it.

 

*

 

They're not actually working any active cases right now, but there's a heap of paperwork left over from the last case – a particularly nasty murder-by-vampire, against all the treaties, but there's always someone who wants to prove how tough he is by breaking the rules. Van Pelt is sorting through some accounts from the case before that, her fountain pen scratching; Rigsby and Cho are shooting the breeze, clearly waiting for her return. They're solid, her team, after all this time – Lisbon knows them, all of them. Cho's ex-military, crewed a dirigible in the South American war; Rigsby just looks military, but he's always been there when it counts, just the same.

Van Pelt's a little flightier – she's not Californian-born but from a rural town in the Midwest, where there's not even the dream of the electrick, the railroad's in the distance, and the Good Folk still snatch the odd baby to keep the mortals in terror – but in the city, where there are rules, she's proving her worth. She likes numbers, maps, charts; is good with them. They'd needed that. Lisbon tries to go by the numbers, but by her nature she will always be aware of emotions, first. Having someone around who likes the rules helps her keep herself in check. It's a feedback cycle thing. She likes it.

“This is Patrick Jane,” she introduces him.”. He's coming on board as a civilian consultant. Minelli's assigned him to work with us for...for the time being. Don't give him too hard a time, okay, guys?”

“Civilian consultant,” Cho says blandly. “What's that mean?”

“Means I read minds,” Jane replies easily, settling onto their sofa like he owns it. “Comes in handy, now and again.”

“I thought they'd tried consulting telepaths,” Van Pelt glances at him, brushing her long red hair back with ink-stained fingers. “Didn't work out so well.”

“Ah.” Jane waves all that away. “They weren't me.”

Rigsby is rolling his eyes; he doesn't like bluster. This could go so badly wrong.

“Play nice, children,” Lisbon says. “Introduce yourselves.”

Cho gets up, offers Jane his hand, hesitates; he's remembered that all mind-readers are sensitive to touch. Lisbon trained herself out of that long ago. Too obvious. As with her, earlier, Jane shakes hands without a pause.

“Kimball Cho.”

“Let me guess,” Jane says. “You've been around here the longest?”

“I thought the point was that you didn't have to guess.” Cho summons his dry shade of bland. Cho can do blandness in a myriad of forms. Lisbon knows it goes beneath the surface; he's pretty Zen. One of the reasons they get along.

“I like to mix it up a little.” Jane smiles, teeth white. He smiles a lot. Lisbon isn't sure she likes that. “Reading everyone's mind? Obvious. Boring.”

“Huh.” Impossible to tell what Cho thinks of that. Maybe Jane knows.

Rigsby and Van Pelt introduce themselves, one after another; Rigsby's a little twitchy. Always is, around anything that smacks of magic or non-humans. But he's a decent human being, when it comes down to it; he'll cope. Van Pelt tells Jane it's good to have him on board, sounds like she means it; Jane smiles at her, and, ah, that one's real.

“Good to be here.” Jane settles back on the couch, looks up at Lisbon. “So. Do we have a case?”

“Not this evening, unless you want to help with the paperwork from the last one,” Lisbon tells him. He's disappointed. So he does want to do the legwork, solve the crimes (though he'll realise how much of that is paperwork, soon enough.) Badly, even. Very badly. That's ... interesting. What's driving him, Patrick Jane and his smiles?

If it plays out like she figures, he won't be around long enough for her to find out. She's almost disappointed.

 

*

 

Jane gets his wished-for case sooner than Lisbon would like. Suspiciously soon, almost, but California's a big country, the largest and richest in the Americas, one of the most populous as well; and it's not the settled East, where the land is laced with iron and running water. Things are wilder out here, for all the cities and the regular dirigible service across the Pacific and the electrick lights you can see at night, if you're brave or stupid and out in the hills above Sacramento. The murders are wilder, too, and it's their job to investigate when jurisdiction is in dispute, or when the locals can't handle it.

Like it is tonight, with a body found in a town so small it barely deserves the name, so small the local cops call in the Bureau. That sort of thing usually gets shoved in the unsolved files almost immediately, especially somewhere like here, dangerously close to a Fae mound – Lisbon hates those cases – but it's in a churchyard, and the cause of death is a bullet to the brain. That rules out pretty nearly anything except a petty human crime, and that – that's entirely Lisbon's job to solve.

“Single shot to the head,” the coroner says, her witchlight casting the body in an eerie green. It always makes Lisbon feel a little sick, but it's more reliable than nearly anything else, she'll grant that. “Can't be sure of the caliber until we get this back to the lab, but looks like a .45. From a distance: there's no powder burns.”

“Do we have an ID?” Lisbon asks. It's the dark underside of the morning, too late to be night and too early to be up, and they've already had to take the train, then an hour-long steamcarriage ride to get to the murder site. She wishes for coffee.

“Victim's name is Catherine Havers,” Cho says, striding up. “I talked to the priest; she's a parishioner here. Mid-thirties, married, two children. No reason for her to be out here at this hour, the priest says.”

“Oh, she wasn't,” the coroner corrects him. “I'd estimate time of death at about ten o'clock; she's been here a while. And before you ask – whoever it was stuck around long enough to do the dispersing ritual. We're not getting her back to tell us who did this.”

“Poor lady,” Van Pelt says. “I'm glad. Let her rest in peace.”

“I'm not, if it makes our job harder,” Lisbon says sourly, but she touches a hand reflexively to her crucifix. “It's always nice when the vic can clear it up for you. Where's Rigsby? And Jane?”

“Hey,” Jane appears, as if out of nowhere. “I've been talking to the groundskeeper. Did you know this church is two hundred years old?”

“Huh. Interesting.” Cho squints up at the looming spire, silhouetted against what's either the faintest blush of dawn, or the distant lights of Sacramento.

“Do I care?” Lisbon asks him.

“Oh. I suppose not. I just thought it was interesting.” Jane frowns vaguely down at the dead woman. “Do we know who she was meeting? Any talk about a lover?”

“What makes you think – oh, churchyard, ten at night, married, right.” Lisbon sighs. The pieces add up; hallowed ground, of any sort – she's a Christ-follower herself, as it happens, but anything does – is the safest place, if you want to meet outside at night. “No, we don't. And there isn't, but that's not the sort of gossip the parish priest's going to spread.”

“Forensics say there might have been one other set of footprints, but the ground's too dry to make out much,” Rigsby says. He's unshaven; you don't see that often, except on the late-night callouts. “Nothing unusual. We're looking for a human.”

“Or something human-shaped,” Jane adds brightly.

“A human – probably human - with a .45 and a powerful need to see Catherine Havers dead.” Lisbon sighs. “Okay, troops. Van Pelt, look up the records. Rigsby, Cho, do the rounds near the churchyard, see if anyone heard or saw anything. Start knocking on doors as soon as it's a bit lighter. Jane, with me.”

“Where are we going?” Jane nearly skips up beside her. He's indecently awake for this hour. Lisbon wishes harder than ever for coffee.

“We're going to tell Mr. Havers and two children that they just lost their wife and mother,” she says sharply. “And you're going to tell me if Mr. Havers is thinking anything funny.”

“What makes you think it's him?”

“Someone married dies, it's usually the spouse. First rule of homicide investigations.”

That stirs something in Jane, but the emotions are too mixed for it to be clear; you certainly couldn't tell from his face. He wears a wedding ring, Lisbon's noticed that. “You married, Jane?”

“I – widowed,” he says briefly, and his tone doesn't invite questioning. Nor his body-language, nor his face, nor his powerful, drowning grief. It's moments like these that Lisbon sort of wishes she'd come clean about her empathy, gone away to be trained and staught, learned to separate herself from this raw humanity that seeps in under her skin. It's hard to remember what's yours and what's theirs.

“I'm sorry,” she says, and is silent.

“I didn't do it, though. Since you're wondering.” He smiles sideways at her, but it's crooked.

Lisbon can't help snorting. “You know I'm not.”

“True.”

 

*

 

Somewhere between the churchyard and the Havers house, Jane procures coffee. Lisbon knows she's making slightly embarrassing noises as she gulps it down; she doesn't care.

“Black, two sugars,” Jane says, a little smugly. “Feel more awake?”

“I thought 'don't be a smug bastard' was rule number one in the telepath handbook,” she retorts, taking another scalding gulp. “Mmmph. Hot.”

“Eh, maybe five. Or six. And they're not rules, anyway, they're more like ... guidelines.” Jane is drinking some sort of awful latte thing. Where do you even find lattes at the crack of dawn in a tiny rural hamlet on the edge of the wild country, Lisbon wonders. Maybe you need to be a telepath.

“Hmph.” Lisbon drains the last bittersweet dregs. “Try to be sensitive, okay? This is going to be hard.”

“It's always hard, when someone dies,” Jane murmurs, eyes distant.

“Hard for us, too,” Lisbon emphasises. “So be – polite. As much as you can manage it, anyway.” If the look she shoots him is slightly jaundiced, after less than twenty-four hours, she figures it's not even seven am and she can be as cynical as she likes.

“Heard and understood,” Jane says, soberly, and for a minute there Lisbon can almost like him.

The family is rising with the sun as they knock on the door; the man who opens it is worried, near-frantic. Lisbon doesn't wince, but it ... registers, all the same.

“Mr. Havers,” she says. “I'm Agent Teresa Lisbon of the CBI, and this is Patrick Jane. May we have a word?”

Lisbon can see him taking in the two of him; Jane in his not-a-working-man grey suit, her in her standard-issue leather jerkin that screams official.

“Is this about Katy?” he asks. “She went out last night, and she never came back, and -”

“Yes it is, Mr. Havers. May we come in?” Lisbon says as gently as she can.

“Is it – is it bad news?” He's older, going grey, though that might just be a hard-working life.He's not a small man, but he looks smaller than he should, now, fear drawing him into himself.

Lisbon starts to repeat her request for entry, but Jane speaks over her. “It is.”

She shoots him a dirty look, but the damage is done; Havers is grey with shock – though, Lisbon notes, there's a certain amount of resignation, too. “What happened?

Jane is scuffling at the porch with his shoe; Lisbon elbows him.

“Your wife was found dead in the churchyard early this morning,” she says, as gently as she can. The kids are standing behind him, now – a boy in his teens, a girl a little younger. Christ. She hates telling kids. They're so uncontrolled. “I know this is – this is hard, but we need to ask you a few questions.”

“Of, of course,” Havers stammers, but he's gone, not hearing her at all.

 

*

 

“He didn't do it,” Jane whispers in her ear, as Havers gets up to greet the priest. Van Pelt had asked him to come round. She has a knack for that sort of thing.

“What?” Lisbon whispers back. “How can you be sure?”

“Didn't do it,” Jane says again, keeping his voice low. “You don't need to read minds to know that. Look at the way he took the news, the body language, the way he hugged the kids. It wasn't as much as a surprise as it should have been, but he didn't pull the trigger, or want her dead. That's genuine grief. You should see that.”

“Should I?” Lisbon frowns. Has he – is that implying –

No time for that; the priest and Havers are back in the room. She stands up from the faded brown sofa to shake hands with the priest again. “Father, thank you for coming. We're done here for the moment. Will you be all right?”

“I'll take care of them.” The priest is older, with an aura of experience; he exudes compassion. The kind of priest Lisbon wishes had been around when she was growing up, after her mother died.

“You will,” Jane assures him, smiling beatifically. “Just – one last question. Did Katy mention anything – unusual, in the last few days? Anything she'd seen or heard?”

“I – I'm not sure,” her husband says. “I don't remember anything.”

“Mrs. Alberto,” pipes up the daughter, who's huddled with her brother on the equally faded armchair. “She's been to see her twice this week. They normally don't talk very much. And she put milk out, for the brownies, you know, every night this week. She never does normally. I asked her about it, because Susie at the schoolhouse, her mother does, but Mom wouldn't say why.”

The husband frowns, feels bewilderment; this is obviously new information to him. Lisbon marks him down as not terribly observant.

“Thanks,” Jane tells the child. “That's very helpful.”

“Really?” The girl beams.

“And because you've been so helpful,” Jane continues, “let me show you a little bit of magic.”

“Ooooooh.” The girl's eyes go round; so do her brother's. The father and the priest stiffen. Not the sort of rural town where the otherworld is welcome, then.

“Oh, not like that,” Jane adds. “Just ... everyday magic. Watch.” He strolls over to the girl, stretches his hands, as if in preparation, and with a twist Lisbon can't spot – but knows has to be there – pulls a rosebud from the girl's ear, and hands it to her.

“Wow.” She only manages a weak smile – after all, the kid's just lost her mother – but it's something. The two other men relax a little.

“That was kind,” she says, as they leave. “You did good. Apart from breaking the news like that. You never break the news like that.” She scowls, remembering.

“He knew, somewhere,” Jane says. “He already knew. It's not kind to keep them waiting, when they know. Don't you think?”

“Just don't do it again,” she tells him as they head back to the rest of the team. “And – one other thing.”

She stops; he turns to face her.

“About -” she breaks off abruptly. “Look. You're a telepath. You're going to – you know I'm an empath, right? You have to.”

“Of course,” Jane says easily, like it's unimportant.

“It's, it's not....” she trails off, tries again. “It's – not something I talk about a lot, okay? Ever, actually. Not something I talk about ever. So I'd appreciate it if you could – if you could not talk about it. Are we clear, here?”

“I read minds,” Jane says, slowly, deliberately, like he's telling her something. “I know people's secrets. I don't – tell them. Unless they need telling.”

She stiffens, fists clenching; he holds up his hands defensively. “Which this doesn't, obviously. Agent Lisbon – I'm on your side, you know that?”

“No,” Lisbon says. She can't meet his eyes. She really doesn't talk about this, ever. Any sort of psychic power – you're supposed to be trained, supported, protected. Feared, a little. She had a dead mother and a father who drank too much and no-one who noticed. By the time she knew what she was, she knew how to not get caught. But a telepath – there's no point hiding. He was always going to figure it out. “But – yeah. Okay. And we will never speak of this again.”

“We will never speak of this again,” Jane intones solemnly, and it's kind of funny, except that it shouldn't be. But she smiles, anyway, looks away.

“Right. Good.”

There's a dead woman in that churchyard, and she deserves justice. They're going to go see that she gets it.

 

*

 

Lisbon has to admit, after the fact, that Jane proves his worth with this first case; the way he does it, however, doesn't do her blood pressure any good.

No-one in town wants to talk to them about the murder. Even a travelling mechanic, an otherwise pleasant young man in town since just the day before, is brief with them. They're all uneasy, evasive.

Lisbon doesn't need any psychic powers, or Jane's, to tell that. She does, however, need her badge and her gun to make one of them back off Jane, after he strolls up to one of the Havers' neighbours, a man named Harry Alberto, and says “You look upset. Friend of the victim's, I think. Hmmm. Maybe a bit closer than that. You weren't sleeping with her, were you?”

Jane very nearly gets punched. Afterwards, Lisbon confronts him. “Did you have to do it like that?”

“Worked, didn't it?” Jane says sunnily. “He didn't do it. But he knows who did. I don't think he was sleeping with her, by the way. Too genuinely surprised, before he got mad.”

“You go on like this, you are going to get punched,” Lisbon warns him.

“Anything in the service of justice,” Jane says, and there's a downtick to his smile. She wonders what it means.

It comes to a head at the funeral, of all places.Lisbon has barely known Jane for three days, but trust him to make a scene at a funeral – where he outrageously and loudly accuses the man who tried to punch him of the murder.

He ticks the points off on his fingers, while everyone stares in shock. “You have no alibi. You own the same caliber of gun that was used to commit the murder.If you're going to use a murder weapon, best to make sure it's not something everyone in town knows you own, remember that next time. With regards to motive, ah, motive: you were terribly in love with her, but she was married, and faithful, wasn't she? So you asked her to meet you and -”

“No! I didn't. I wouldn't have -” the suspect is gabbling, pale. He doesn't feel guilty. Lisbon touches her gun in its holster, looks to Cho; he's moving in from the other side, Rigsby and Van Pelt have the exits. Jane thinks he is. Jane's the telepath. He's not getting away.

“I can't believe this!” the suspect's wife – Catherine Havers' friend Mrs. Alberto – cries. “How could you, Harry? How could you?”

Jane spins neatly on his heel to face her. “Indeed, Mrs. Alberto, how could he? When we found your fingerprints on the murder weapon? A bit of a conundrum, there, but I-”

“But I cleaned it!” says Mrs. Alberto, taken aback.

Jane smiles. Rather like a shark.

Lisbon signals Cho. It all gets a little messy from there.

 

*

 

“How did you know?” she asks Jane, after. “You never even spoke to her. And what was that bullshit about the murder weapon? We haven't found it.”

“I don't think you will.” Jane waves that part away. “She's smart enough to dispose of it properly. A rather well-thought out murder, all in all. Too well-thought out. Framing your husband – that's cold.”

“But how did you know?”

“I didn't.” He shrugs. “I guessed. Well. I put it together. Remember, Lisbon – any thoughts I read aren't admissible in court. I can't just point and say 'her, she did it'. We need proof. Evidence. Or a confession. Confessions are good. I like confessions.”

“Go through it. Step by step.”

Jane sighs, begins to tick things off on his fingers. “One. Catherine Havers had seen something that scared her. Something to do with the Fae mound down the road, and with the lovely Maria Alberto. Two. Mrs. Alberto had the same access to a potential murder weapon and motive as her husband – well, different motive, equally strong. Three. This murder was committed in such a way as to make it seem pointedly human. On church grounds, no less. Mr. Alberto is quite boringly human. Mrs. Alberto is too, I suppose, but she's been spending time with those a little less. She's got the look. Fairy-touched. All rather obvious, if you're looking.”

Lisbon thinks about it, carefully, Maria Alberto's pale face, intense eyes. “I guess. But how does that play into it, if it's a straight domestic my-husband-wants-you-you-bitch?”

Jane shrugs again. “I don't know. I could find out. I'm not sure I want to get into her head that much.”

“Okay.” Lisbon eyes him, as the train rattles back towards Sacramento. “I suppose ... that was well done.”

“You suppose that was well done?” Jane looks mildly aggrieved.

“We'll work on your technique.” She looks out the window, so he won't see her smile.

 

*

 

“How’re you finding working with Jane?” Lisbon asks Cho one day, a few weeks into the whole Jane ... experiment. She persists in thinking of it as an experiment. To think of it otherwise would imply that she's accepted he might be staying around, and with the myriad ways the man's managed to infuriate, frustrate, bewilder, and outrage her in such a short space of time, she's accepting nothing of the sort. He's helping them solve cases – she'll grant that readily – but he dances closer and closer to the line every time he does. Sooner or later, he's going to cross it, and Minelli's going to fire him, or whatever it is you do to get rid of consulting telepaths.

Or fire her. That possibility has crossed her mind, as well.

“Fine. Why do you ask?” says Cho.

“Just, you know, trying to get a feel for how it's affecting the team dynamic.” She leans back in her chair. “We just got Van Pelt, what, three months ago? And now Jane. I want to make sure we're still okay.”

“I'm fine. Rigsby's jumpy. Think he scares Van Pelt a little. How do you feel about it, boss?”

Lisbon frowns at him. “Hey. I'm asking the questions. And I feel fine about it. As long as he reins the crazy in a bit.”

“You can't deny it's effective.” Cho puts down his pen, looks up at her. “We're closing way more cases. That counts.”

“Sure, sure.” Lisbon sighs. “I don't know. You're right, catching bad guys is what counts.”

She's always found it hard to get a read on Cho; he's as closed-off as anyone she's ever met. It's relaxing. Right now, if he's feeling anything, it's mild irritation – probably that his boss has interrupted his work by calling him in to talk about the new guy. But something he said catches her attention.

“You reckon he scares Van Pelt?”

Cho shrugs. “The whole thing with the hypnotism? Yeah. That scared her. Thought that was obvious.”

Lisbon recalls the details well enough. The Sanchez case, week before last; Van Pelt and Rigsby had been overheard by the murderer while getting coffee, or so they'd realized, after going back to the scene to find some crucial evidence gone. Van Pelt hadn't been able to recall who'd been sitting by them; Rigsby had been looking in the wrong direction.

Well, can't you do something?” she'd demanded of Jane, back at the office. “Read my mind, look at my memories? Tell me who it was?”

Nah.” Jane had been lying on the couch he seemed to have claimed, staring up at the ceiling. Lisbon had now heard more musing about the smoke-stains on it than she'd ever wanted to. “Doesn't work like that. Your conscious thoughts aren't that detailed; I can't just look at them and see what you saw, if you can't remember it. On the other hand...” he'd sat up, swung his legs around. “There is something that might work. If you're willing to give it a try.”

What's that?” Lisbon had asked, sharply. By then, she'd learned from the Havers murder that Jane's methods weren't always what you'd call...rule-abiding.

Oh, nothing, just a little hypnotism.” Jane smiled at her sunnily. He could look so damn innocent, when he chose to. Biggest lie in the world, that. “So, you up for it, Grace?”

I -” Van Pelt had stiffened, but said “Sure. Whatever it takes to solve this, right?”

Excellent!” Jane had sprung up from the couch, clapped his hands together like a delighted child. “All right, then.”

He'd lain a hand on her shoulder. “Okay, Grace. Look at me.”

Don't we need to be sitting down or something?”

Oh, no. No. Not for this.”

Rigsby had been watching, too; tense, Lisbon had seen. He liked Van Pelt, that would have been obvious to anyone; maybe a little too much. She wasn't going to push that until she had to. If Van Pelt was smart, it wouldn't ever be a problem. Lisbon figured her for smart, and she loved her job, that much was clear. Enough to put herself through one of Jane's little – maneuvers, to catch a killer.

Jane had been speaking to Van Pelt, softly. “The important thing is that you're relaxed. Very relaxed. Don't think about the case. Think about ... coffee. You like coffee, right? You were having coffee, at the coffeehouse. With Rigsby. What sort of coffee were you having?”

Oh, uh ...” Van Pelt sounded blurry, unfocused; Lisbon could feel the tension trickling out of her. “Black. Three sugars.”

Dark and sweet. Is that how you like your boyfriends, too? Don't answer, that was a joke. Tell me about the tablecloth.”

Jane had led her slowly through a description of the table, the lighting, what colour shirt Rigsby had been wearing; Lisbon had been starting to wonder if they were ever going to get anywhere when Van Pelt had suddenly exclaimed “The brother! He was sitting behind Rigsby!”

That's it!” Jane had dropped the hand from her shoulder, grinned at her. “There we go. That's who it was.”

Which had led to questioning, the arrest ... Lisbon drags her mind back to the present. “Sure, I remember that. But she wasn't scared, she was just a bit – uneasy.”

“Scares her to remember it.” Cho shrugs. “We thought we were getting a telepath, boss. Instead we got – I don't know what we got. Someone who can talk your secrets out of you without bothering to read your mind. Not to mention the card tricks, and the lock-picking, and –”

“Lock picking?” Lisbon seizes upon that. “What lock-picking would that be?”

“Yesterday. The pet shop. The door wasn't actually unlocked.”

Lisbon's fingers tighten on the arm of her chair. “Cho, that's breaking and entering. You agreed to this?”

“He didn't ask my permission.” Cho looks at her steadily. “No point leaving, once it was open. And it helped.”

Lisbon wonders if banging her head against the desk very hard would help. “Fine. But next time? Stop him. That's an order.”

“Yes, boss,” Cho says, and leaves. For the first time in her entire working history with Kimball Cho, Lisbon is left unsure as to whether he really means it. It feels like he does. But –

She sighs again, and stomps off to the kitchen for coffee. Coffee will make things better.

Jane's in the kitchen, making another of his endless cups of tea on the small gas range. “Oh, Lisbon! Excellent timing, I just boiled the jug.”

She rifles through the cupboards for a mug. Jane watches her. “Hmm. You're upset about something. Is it the hypnotism? Oh, it is. I knew you didn't like the hypnotism. Actually, I've been meaning to talk to you about that. Van Pelt worries me a little, you see.”

“Will you stop that!” Lisbon slams her mug down, so hard it almost breaks. “New rule, okay? No telepathy off the job.”

“Oh, Lisbon, you know it's not that simple.” Jane tilts his head, looks at her. “I can't just not read minds.”

She does, of course, she does know, with her own damned empathy, but it doesn't blunt her anger. “You can stop saying it. Just don't .... say it. Whatever it is.”

“Okay.” Jane offers her the French press; she prefers percolator coffee, but the last one had an Unfortunate Accident involving the Bureau's resident wizard, which he refuses to explain clearly, so in the meantime they're coping. “But I mean it, about Van Pelt. We need to talk about that.”

“Fine. Talk.” She busies herself with the simple mechanics of coffee-making.

“I'm worried she's ... vulnerable,” Jane says slowly. “To – well, magic, mainly. She responded very quickly to hypnotism. That's not good. Well, it was good then, it's fine with me, but it's not good in general. And she's sensitive, have you noticed? The percolator incident had her jumping clear across the room, and she wasn't even in line-of-sight of the kitchen.”

“You think she's a witch,” Lisbon says, her hands stilling.

Jane shrugs. “Yes. An untrained one. And we can't have that.”

Lisbon glances at him; he's not smiling, now, perfectly serious. “You talked to her about this?”

“She won't talk about it to me,” Jane says. “I'm the scary new guy. You – you're her boss. This is your problem.”

Lisbon thinks it over for a second. “Get me the milk.”

He passes her the bottle from the icebox. “So you'll talk to her?”

“We'll see,” Lisbon tells him firmly. “I can't start going around accusing my people of hiding stuff like that. If it's not true – and you haven't actually given me any evidence of it – it's not good for team spirit. If you understand what team spirit means.”

“Oh, I understand.” A quick twitch of the lips. “And I never said she was hiding it. My bet, she hasn't figured it out herself. She's from Iowa, right? The Midwest? You have to try very hard to be human there. Not a lot of room to be different. Not the kind of thing you admit to yourself.”

“Human, what does that mean? Magic is perfectly human. Most magic. You're human. I'm human.”

“You're right, maybe that wasn't the right word. Very ... normal, then. And in case you haven't noticed, no-one in this team is normal.”

She takes a sip of coffee, frowns at him. “Nonsense. I'm – you're – Van Pelt and the guys are as normal as they come.”

Another smile; the I-know-something-you-don't smile. She hates that one. “Are they? Rigsby's hiding something. Cho uses a ray-gun.”

“Rigsby's got the hots for Van Pelt and would rather cut his throat than admit it, and lots of people use ray-guns. No big deal there.”

It is unusual, for the CBI, Lisbon will grant; most of them place their faith in standard-issue weapons, cold iron and lead. (Sometimes silver-cored, or lignin-coated. You have to be flexible.) But the brass-and-crystal rayguns are standard military weapons, for whole units, not just anyone whose ancestry makes iron and steel...difficult, or who has the magic that makes such weapons more effective. If Cho wants to use one, he can.

Jane shrugs. “Just saying.”

“What did I say about not saying things?” Lisbon asks him pointedly, and leaves. She has work to do.

 

*

 

After that conversation, Lisbon is relieved when they're called out to a murder in San Francisco, a nice short train-ride away. It's a fairly straightforward stabbing, as these things go, but the victim has a well-connected family and they want the best.

This one isn't on hallowed ground, but something reminds Lisbon immediately of the Havers case. No obvious reason for the victim to be where he was, no immediately obvious reasons for anyone to want him dead.

“Sam Keller, twenty-four,” Cho says. “That Keller family; the ones who're invested in the electrick company. Stand to make a lot of money, once they get more of the country wired up. More than they already have, that is.”

“So what's he doing here?” Lisbon asks him. “Here” is a small park, in a middle-class part of the city; not the sort of place stabbings happen, generally.

“Could be anything,” Jane strolls up. “Drugs, prostitutes – well, probably not prostitutes, he wasn't that sort of man, too busy to have any fun – but maybe drugs.”

“You can tell that from the corpse?”

“Look.” Jane points. “Grease under his fingernails. Ink on his fingers. Doesn't care that his clothes are wrinkled, never mind the stains – too absent-minded to wear a proper apron, that's the rich family, he could afford to replace the clothes. Engineer, I'll bet on it. Someone who liked working with his hands. Probably annoyed the family. Far too busy for a girlfriend, let alone to find out where he could buy sex. So what was he doing here?”

“Wrong neighborhood for that, anyway,” Cho adds. “You're right. Engineer. Estranged from the wider family, but they gave him a retainer. Spent a lot of time travelling – you know how it is, small towns, they've got to bring someone in when the complicated things break down. Odd career choice.”

“Travelling – oh. Oh.” Jane looks enlightened. Lisbon does not feel so blessed.

“Spit it out, Jane, what is it?”

“We talked to him! The Havers case, remember? The travelling mechanic. That was him.” Jane regards the corpse beatifically. “I knew I'd seen him somewhere, I just couldn't make the link.”

“Connected?” Cho asks.

Jane shrugs. “I can't exactly ask him now. And I checked with the coroner; too late. Again. Why do they have to be clever?”

“To make our lives difficult.” Lisbon frowns at Sam Keller, ex-engineer. “Cause of death seems obvious enough.”

“Single stab wound, up through the ribs. The killer knew what they were doing. Takes a lot of practice to kill someone that efficiently.” Cho is impressed. Lisbon would find that creepier if it weren't the dispassionate version of the feeling.

Jane is crouching over the corpse. “There's something in the wound.”

“Jane! Don't touch i–” Lisbon makes a frustrated noise.

Jane sits back, beaming. “What's this, then?”

This looks like a long, thin fragment of stone. Maybe obsidian. Cho hands him an evidence bag, wordlessly.

Gloves,” Lisbon tells him, aggrieved.

“Gloves,” Jane says dismissively. She glares. “Oh, fine. Yes. Next time, there will be gloves. My apologies.”

“You don't mean that.”

“How do you know?”

Lisbon rolls her eyes. “We're not going to learn anything more here, and you're a danger. Let's check out the vic's apartment. Cho, get that – whatever it is – to forensics. Maybe they can tell us something about the murder weapon.”

 

*

 

Back at the office – having gleaned all they're going to in San Francisco, at least for the moment – Van Pelt runs them down on what she found in the apartment. It makes for something of a mystery.

“He was working on something,” she begins. “That safe we found, the one Jane opened -”

“Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week,” Jane gives her a little bow, smug at his combination-guessing skills (and, this time, rightfully so.)

Van Pelt gives him a quick smile in return. Rigsby looks sort of put out. “Yes. As I was saying, it had obviously been cleaned out sometime before, but forensics found traces of a lot of standard ingredients of workings – you know, herbs, crystals, that sort of thing –”

“It's all showmanship, you know,” Jane interrupts her again. “The herbs and crystals and so on. It helps people focus. The power is something totally different. Magic's funny that way.”

As I was saying,” Van Pelt continues, “after that, I checked his pocketbook – he kept very good accounts – and there are a lot of purchases listed at a local magical supplies shop. We should check it out. Also lots of engineering supplies, but they're more general – he must have been doing the work himself. Where, and for whom – none of his papers say.”

“Magic, huh?” Lisbon sighs. “Of course. Jane and I will check out the shop.”

“You wanna come, Van Pelt?” Jane asks her.

Van Pelt startles a little, dips her head, letting her hair shadow her face. “No. Why would I?”

“Oh, I don't know.” Jane shrugs. “I got the feeling you were interested in that sort of thing – you know, magic, spirits.”

“No, I don't know why you'd think that.” Van Pelt is tense, abrupt. Scared. There's something going on there. Lisbon remembers her conversation with Jane, suddenly and clearly.

“Let it go, she doesn't want to,” Rigsby addresses Jane, belligerently. Jane lifts his hands defensively.

“I was just asking.”

“Enough, children,” Lisbon addresses them all. “Jane. We have a train to catch.”

 

*

 

The shop isn't obvious, unless you've got the address, and still difficult to find if you do; feelings about magic-users tend to run in waves, and some of those waves drown people. Lisbon's seen it. She expects the discreet location. Inside, though, it's not what she expects, impeccably clean and neat, well-lit by the electrick, rather than wavering candles.

“What were you expecting?” Jane whispers to her. “These people are professionals. This isn't some black market den, it's a shop for people who know what they're doing and are paid well to do it.”

“I know that,” she tells him defensively.

“Can I help you?” asks the shopkeeper, approaching them. He's a short man, round-faced and going grey, with a striped apron and small round glasses that he peers suspiciously over.

“You can,” Jane says before Lisbon can get a word, much less her badge, out. “We're looking for something ... special, and we were told this was the place to get it.”

“We do stock a very wide range of supplies,” the man agrees cautiously, “but I'm afraid if someone suggested you could get anything illegal here –”

“Oh, no, no.” Jane shakes his head. “We're just looking for something very specific, and your shop has an excellent reputation.”

The man looks pleased, feels it too. “We do our best.”

There's a noise, behind the counter; an adolescent girl, in a similar apron, coming out of the back room carrying a tray of jars. Lisbon doesn't want to know what's in them. She pauses at Lisbon's glance, fumbles the tray, recovers. The shopkeeper scowls at her.

“I'm sure you do,” Jane says, recapturing the man's attention. “Teresa, dear, you want to explain what we're looking for.”

Lisbon has no fucking idea what Jane's talking about, or why the hell he's calling her Teresa and they're not just doing this as cops, but he seems to have a plan, so she fumbles. “Oh. Yes, well, we're looking for – if you have it, of course, we've had a lot of trouble –”

Jane mouths knife.

“– a knife.”

The shopkeeper is nodding, professionally. “You said specific. Are we talking silver, copper, bone?”

Jane shakes his head. “Obsidian.”

Right; the murder weapon. Jane could have said.

“With a blade about six inches long,” Lisbon measures it with her hands. “It's for a ritual.”

“We don't have anything like that,” says the man abruptly. “You'll have to try somewhere else.”

“You don't?” Jane makes a moue of disappointment. “I'm really surprised to hear that. Because you sold one, oh, last week, wasn't it? To a young man, engineering type, grease under his fingernails, and you're going to tell us if it wasn't that young man, because the way your assistant is freezing every time she bumps something, I'm willing to guess you dock her pay for breakages, which happens to be illegal, isn't that right, Agent Lisbon?”

Lisbon takes that as a sign, and flips out her badge. “CBI. We're investigating the murder of Samuel Keller. He bought supplies from you. We need to know what he bought and when.”

“Am I right? About the breakages?” Jane asks the girl.

She tenses, then nods, once, jerkily.

“However,” Lisbon tells the shopkeeper, “I'm willing to not have you actually prosecuted for that if you'll talk to us.”

“You'll stop doing it, of course,” Jane says affably. He smiles at the girl.

The shopkeeper looks mutinous. They could be here a while.

 

*

 

Lisbon hands the records over to Van Pelt to analyse; she comes up nearly blank.

“I can't work out what he was trying to do, boss.” She's unhappy at her failure, almost more than Lisbon is. “Some sort of binding spell. I think. Look, this isn't my thing, you know? I don't do magic. We need to get someone -”

“You worked out it's a binding spell, you know what you're doing,” Jane cuts her off.

“I looked it up!” Van Pelt retorts, uncharacteristically angry – well, Jane does have that effect on people – and gesturing at the enormous stack of grimoires on her desk. “I don't, okay? I don't know anything about magic!”

“Clearly you do now,” Jane says, pointing at the same books.

Van Pelt is miserable. Lisbon intervenes. “Good work. Binding spell. We'll go back and talk to the neighbours, see if we can figure out what he was binding. Cho, you're with me.” She's not taking Jane - she's too irritated with him, for prodding at Van Pelt that way. He needs to let it go; she'll talk to him later.

The neighbours, naturally, don't have a clue. It's a long and silent trip back – Cho is many things, but sparkling conversational company is not one of them. At least Jane is entertaining.

“What do you think the binding spell was for?” Lisbon tries, in an effort to get a conversation going.

“No idea.” Cho looks out the window. “Could be anything, really.”

“Not anything.” Lisbon frowns, tries to think aloud. “We've got a young man who knows how to build things, messing with magic. Those two don't usually go together – not successfully. And he was trying to bind something. Then he's murdered – with a knife he bought. Was it part of the binding? Was there a reason, or was it just convenient?”

“We need suspects,” Cho offers. “With all those records gone, it's a good bet whoever killed him hired him – and has made sure we're not going to find out who they are.”

“Yeah,” Lisbon sighs.

When they return, nothing seems immediately wrong. Rigsby is sitting at his desk, tapping away at a typewriter; Jane is stretched out on his couch. Van Pelt isn't there.

“You didn't find anything,” Jane says immediately.

“Don't do that. No, we didn't.” Lisbon turns to head for her office, then changes her mind. “Where's Van Pelt?”

“I don't know.” Rigsby frowns. “She went off about an hour ago.”

“In one of the interview rooms, trying to do magic,” Jane announces casually. “Probably a good time to go check on her.”

“She's doing what?” Lisbon feels entitled to freak out.

“This is very bad.” Cho takes off at a run.

Jane sits up. “Bad? What makes you think – Cho, where are you going?”

Lisbon takes off after him, because if it's enough to make Cho run it's serious. The door to the interview room is shut. Cho grabs at the handle. It's locked. He takes a few steps back, and shoulders it open; Lisbon runs in after him. She can hear Jane and Rigsby on her heels.

Van Pelt is sitting cross-legged in the middle of the room, a bunch of grimoires scattered around her. Oddly, her gun is tossed away, lying carelessly against one of the books. There's a warding circle around her, something lying in front; an evidence bag. The one with the splinter from the weapon that killed Keller. The gas lamps are lit, but the room is filled with a different sort of light, thicker, darker.

Van Pelt's head snaps up when they burst in, and Lisbon's heart just about stops. There is something wild behind those green eyes, something inhuman; she's quite perfectly sure that, whatever it is, it's not Grace.

“Fuck,” Cho swears loudly, and tries to dive at her. He's repelled by the circle.

Lisbon fumbles for her gun, the only cold iron she's got on her; Van Pelt, or whatever's running Van Pelt, is standing up. She ejects the magazine, hurls it bodily at Van Pelt. It passes through the barrier, hits her in the chest; she lets out a cry that is not at all like Grace and not at all human. Cho tackles her a second later, right to the ground. Jane dashes in, holding something – the typewriter? - skidding to his knees, grabbing her hand and holding it grimly to it. Cho's muttering something under his breath.

Abruptly, she goes limp. The light clears, until it's just a rather badly lit interview room with stuff everywhere.

Lisbon drops to her knees beside her; Jane and Cho move away, gingerly. “Van Pelt. Van Pelt, can you hear me?”

“Uhhhhh.” Van Pelt touches a hand to her forehead. “I...boss?”

“How many fingers am I holding up?”

“Uh. Two. I think I screwed up, boss.”

“You bet your ass you screwed up!” Lisbon hasn't been this incandescently furious since – she doesn't know when. “What the hell do you think you were doing?”

“This...may not be entirely her fault.” Jane sounds almost – if you listen closely – guilty.

“You didn't do anything,” Van Pelt protests, weakly.

Jane shrugs. “Apart from manipulating you into trying this? I suppose not.”

Lisbon can feel her jaw twitch. “Van Pelt. You gonna be okay?”

“I think so.” Van Pelt sits up. “I feel kind of like a limp rag, but not, you know – I'm not hurt.”

“Bullshit. Rigsby, you're in charge of getting her to a doctor, make sure she's checked out. Properly. Then make sure she goes home. No, Van Pelt, you're not arguing with me on this. I know what I saw. You just got possessed by something, you're not fine. Cho, start tidying this place up. Jane.”

“Yes?”

“Go to my office. Stay there. Are we clear?”

“Just a second,” interrupts Van Pelt. She staggers to her feet. Rigsby grabs her by the elbow, steadies her. She totters over to Jane.

“I think we should take a moment to acknowledge that I was, in fact, right about -”

She slaps him. Van Pelt is not a small woman. Jane staggers a little himself. “Ow.”

“Being right was more important than me getting hurt?” Van Pelt spits out.

“I really didn't intend that,” Jane admits. “Sorry.”

She leaves the room, closely followed by Rigsby.

“My office,” Lisbon insists, and Jane leaves, too.

 

*

 

She helps Cho clear away the evidence. Jane can keep.

“That wasn't quite as bad as it looked,” Cho says, as they sweep salt and herbs into a jar. “Could have been a lot worse.”

“It was bad enough! What the hell did she think she was doing?”

“At a guess, trying to summon whatever was tied to the blade. She didn't ward it separately. Rookie mistake. Whatever it was saw an opening and dived right in.”

“What do you know about that sort of thing?” Lisbon eyes him curiously. “And how did you know something was wrong?”

Cho picks up the typewriter. “Not a lot. It was a good guess.”

Lisbon doesn't believe that – knows, in fact, he's hiding something – but lets it go. Cho will tell her if she needs to know. And he won't tell her if she pushes. More the latter, really.

Jane is sitting in her chair when she comes in, leafing through something on her desk. “You know, Lisbon, you have a very clear writing style. Minelli must really appreciate - “

She slams her hand down, hard. Jane jumps. “Give me one good reason I shouldn't ask Minelli to get rid of you right now. Also? Out of my chair.”

Jane clears his throat, stands. “I really didn't think she'd do that.”

“I don't care. That's not a reason. Try again.”

He circles around to the other side of the desk; she takes her chair, keeping the desk between them. He has to know how angry she is, what vengeful thoughts are running through her head.

“I just ...” Jane looks, for once, genuinely guilty. “I wanted her to have a go, realise that she needs to get some training. I didn't expect her to go for it like that. Or for anything that – malevolent to be tied to the knife.”

“Sit down. What did you say to her?”

“I asked if she was afraid to find out what she could do.”

Lisbon glares at him. “You challenged Van Pelt on being afraid of something? The girl who wants so badly to prove she can do this job she'll take on anything? Are you mad, or just stupid?”

“How was I supposed to know she'd -“

Lisbon cuts him off. “You still haven't given me that reason.”

Jane ducks his head. She waits a second. Two. Three.

“I'm sorry, Lisbon. I underestimated Van Pelt, and she – I –“

“You screwed up. You were wrong. She nearly got badly hurt.”

“Yes.” He meets her eyes. Doesn't mean anything; Jane can look into your eyes and lie like a champion. But he's sincere, she knows. Wishes she didn't – it'd be easier to stay properly angry. “I did. I'm not perfect, Lisbon. I can screw up, just like anyone else. People can get hurt. Does that make you happy?”

Now he's angry, and she can't fathom why.

“You like to pretend you're never wrong,” she says. “I'm not happy Van Pelt got possessed. I do want you to realise you need to think harder about what you're doing. We didn't even get any closer to solving the murder. Was that worth it?”

“No.” Jane looks away, again.

They sit in silence, for a little while, before she tells him to get lost. She needs to think.

 

*

 

She doesn't complain to Minelli, but only barely -- and only because Jane is genuinely contrite, going out of his way to make it up to Van Pelt. Van Pelt is pretty contrite, herself; she admits that she let her temper get out of hand, let Jane push her into trying what she wasn't ready for.

“What I don't get,” Lisbon says to her, “is if you were trying to stay away from magic, why Jane making you mad would make you want to do that.”

“I don't want anyone to think I'm afraid.” Van Pelt meets her gaze half-defiant, half-afraid. “I don't – the magic thing – I just want to be good at my job. And normal. Is that too much to ask?”

“Sort of, yeah,” Lisbon says slowly. “You want to be good at this job – really good – you're never going to be normal. Even if you're human.” She pauses, decides. “I'm not. Normal.”

Van Pelt blinks. “I – really?”

“Empath.” Lisbon shrugs. It doesn't feel as scary as she'd thought. “That's – sort of a secret.”

Van Pelt nods, hurriedly. “Of course. But – really?”

Lisbon looks at her. “You think I'm making this up to make you feel better? Of course, really.”

“But you're not – you never got any training, or anything.”

“I was young, and stupid. You're smarter. I talked to Parren. He's agreed to take you on, show you the ropes. Maybe you can get him to explain the percolator incident for the rest of us.” Lisbon grins and Van Pelt smiles back, a little shyly.

Lisbon lets her expression grow more serious. “It'll be a lot of work. Are you up for it?”

“Do I have any choice?”

“Sure. You can walk away. You can have your powers warded off, drained away. People do it all the time.”

Van Pelt pauses. “Jane says – he told me I don't want to be normal, really. That if I did I wouldn't have moved here, wouldn't have pushed to make the Bureau.”

“And he's probably right. Which you're not going to tell him I said.”

Van Pelt snorts. “Of course not.”

“So, are we good?”

“Yes.” Van Pelt nods; nods again, more firmly. “Yes. We're good.” Her expression changes. “I just wish we could solve the murder.”

There have been no new leads; no hint of who hired Sam Keller, and what they hired him to do, and why they killed him for it. Parren says that it was Fae magic that possessed Van Pelt, not a demon or spirit or any of the other supernatural options out there; but Fae magic can't be bound, by its nature. How it would be tied to a knife, no-one knows. Even Jane doesn't have any clever theories.

“You, me, and everyone else,” Lisbon agrees. “Don't stress. It happens, we hit a dead spot, we'll get a lead sooner or later. Go find Parren and sort out when you're going to start, okay?”

“Yes, boss.” Van Pelt stands. “And – thanks.”

“For what?”

“For trusting me,” she says, and smiles nervously, and leaves.

Lisbon drums her fingers on her desk. She did, she supposes. But it didn't seem fair, to let Van Pelt deal with that on her own. And Van Pelt's smart; she won't tell. It's nice, almost, to have someone else – to have someone else different, on the team. Not counting Jane, who is an entity unto himself. An entity she's still mad at.

She pushes it out of her mind, and gets back to work.

 

*

 

The next one is when it all starts to break loose. It's in Sacramento itself, down by the river; a man's found dead in his apartment. There are leaves and flowers scattered everywhere. They get the case on the strength of the strangeness, which comes in three parts, each more disturbing than the last: the man's not just a man, he's a werewolf, part of a well-organised local pack; the apartment is locked, with no sign of entry; and apart from the foliage, the only thing out of place is the dead man, who looks rather like he died of terror.

They're met at the scene by the man's girlfriend, a pack member. Lisbon asks Rigsby to interview her, but he's gone tight-jawed and is nervous enough to rattle Lisbon. She sighs, internally, and gets Van Pelt to do it. The woman looks like she'll respond better to a fellow female, anyhow.

“I've never seen anything like this,” Jane says, looking around the apartment. “What's the deal, guys?”

Lisbon touches her crucifix. “The ... you know. This is a classic killing. But it's in a city. I don't get it.”

“I checked. Building's steel-framed,” Cho announces. “They shouldn't have been able to get in. Something is really wrong here.”

“You don't say,” muses Jane, bright-eyed. “The flowers are a little overpowering.”

The floral smell makes Lisbon want to gag. She's seen this sort of murder – and it was messy, like this sort always is. It never ends well. It definitely never ends in convictions.

“Jane, Cho. Go chat up the neighbours.”

“Apartment on one side's empty, they moved out last week,” Cho comments. “We'll do the other one, and the floors above and below. Might have heard something. Probably didn't.”

“What am I doing, boss?” Rigsby asks.

“Go hunt out – mmm, bad choice of words there – go find the rest of the pack, see if they'll talk.”

Rigsby's jaw twitches again. Lisbon gives him her best glare. “For god's sake, they're not going to tear you apart. They're perfectly law-abiding members of society. Do it.”

He leaves, slowly. Jane is frowning after him; Cho doesn't appear to think anything's wrong. She makes shooing motions. “What did I say? The neighbours. Go.”

*

Lisbon's talking to the pathologist when Jane appears out of nowhere and takes her by the elbow. “Come with me.”

She wants to protest, out of habit and genuine indignation, but the pathologist isn't really telling her anything she doesn't know already – the man died messily and not by human hands – and Jane's got his stubborn look on. Not that it's much different from any of his others looks, but she's parsing them, slowly. Whatever anyone else thinks – and Patrick Jane fakes any emotion he needs very, very well – the man is almost as hard to read as Cho. And before she met Jane, she would have said Cho set records.

“This better be important.” She gives him a glare for emphasis, turns back to the pathologist. “Sorry, I better check this out.”

“Some great new insight?” she asks Jane, as he leads her away; he drops the hand from her elbow, after he's sure she's following. She feels her arm tingle through the leather of her jacket, where he'd touched it.

Oh, Christ, girl. Don't start that.

Jane's nervous, inwardly if not outwardly; he knows she knows that, though, and doesn't bother to conceal it in his voice. “Yes. Actually. Not related to the case, but definitely a new insight.”

Lisbon stops. “If it's not related to the case, then -”

He stops as well, turns to face her. “It's important, Lisbon. I promise. Do you trust me?”

“No,” she scoffs. “Now tell me what it is, or I'm going back.”

“I ... figured something out.”

“I got that. What is it?”

“It's a show, not a tell. It'll only be a second, promise.”

“Sure, whatever,” she mutters, but she follows him, anyway. Jane usually doesn't get too far off-track when they're working a case, and despite what she said, she trusts him enough to check it out. It's bitten her in the ass often enough to not be a habit – trusting him – but it's worked out enough that she does it, still.

He stops a few yards from where Rigsby is talking to the city cop who got called in first to the scene, plucks something out of the air behind her ear; she knows the trick, now. “Look what we have here.”

“Oh, very funny. What is it?”

“Just keeping in practice.” He flashes her a smile. “You know what this is?”

He holds out the object. It's a teaspoon; no more, no less. A little battered, a little worn, but with the dull gleam of good silver. Lisbon says as much.

“A silver spoon. What is this, some metaphor about our victim?”

“Not at all. Well, maybe. A little. You'll see.”

Rigsby's walking over to them. “Boss. Jane. The cops are confirming what the pack leader said – someone was lurking around this building, the last few nights. They think they've got a name.”

“Take Cho.” Lisbon waves a hand. “Could be a witness, could be a suspect, could be nothing. Worth following up.”

“On it.”

Rigsby's about to leave, but Jane reaches out. “Just before you do – take this, would you? Good luck charm.”

Jane smiles. It is perfectly insincere.

Rigsby takes the spoon, reflexively; he does trust Jane. Lisbon knows better. She's watching both of them, all her attention focused on whatever the trick is, whatever the con Jane's trying to pull, so she feels it, knows it, when Rigsby has to muffle a yelp of pain.

He's good, in a way she didn't quite expect from straight-arrow, good-cop Wayne Rigsby. Physically, it doesn't translate to much more than a tightening of the jaw, a sound on the edge of hearing; if it wasn't for Lisbon's own ability, she wouldn't have noticed a thing, consciously.

Rigsby hands the spoon back to Jane. His hand is steady. It's impressive. After all, Lisbon knows exactly how much it's hurting him. “Thanks, but I'm all lucked up today.”

“Of course you are.” The spoon vanishes, somewhere, but Jane's got hold of Rigsby's hand. He turns it over. The burn is plain, an angry red; Rigsby's face is closed.

Oh, Christ.

“Enough. Rigsby, go chase up our potential witness,” she says aloud. Jane's not smirking. That's the only reason she's not going to kill him. It's close, though. “Jane. With me.”

“But -”

With me.”

“Boss?” Rigsby says, a little uncertain. She looks him over, sighing. Six feet of clean-cut cop, painfully normal. Why is it always the normal ones?

Like you, you mean. That's her inner-Jane voice. She likes to ignore it.

“I gave you an order, what are you waiting around for?” she demands. “And get that hand fixed, while you're at it. You gotta be more careful.”

“Yes, boss.” There's relief there, overwhelming, painfully so. He leaves. It hurts a little less, once he has.

She drags Jane aside, as carefully as she can. They can't be overheard, but they can't be hiding; it's the quickest way to draw attention. Luckily, her chewing out Jane on a crime scene isn't going to attract any attention from the regulars.

“What the hell, Jane?”

“I was testing a theory.” He manages to look innocent. Lisbon reminds herself that violence is not her friend. “Turns out I was right.”

There it is; there's the smug. “I don't care if you were right. I don't care what your theory was. I don't care if Rigsby's really the Lost Son of the Faerie King –” she touches her gun, reflexively “ – you don't fucking pull something like that on one of us, okay? I don't care if Rigsby – if he – I don't care. Do not pull that shit, Jane. And while we're out on a case? Are you mad?”

“Oh, you care.” Jane's face is very serious. “You care. That's why you're mad. You care because you hate being lied to, you care because you hate your people being in danger, you care because you hate it when I pull these stunts. Which is fair enough, really. But, Lisbon, you care. And you're mad at yourself for caring. You really need to let that go, you know? It's not good for your emotional balance. Let it all out –”

“Shut up,” she says brusquely. “Fine. All right. I care. But not like – Jesus, Jane, what if I did? What if I'd made a scene?”

“You wouldn't,” Jane says, quite precisely, and she hates it when he's right.

Lisbon presses her hand to her face. She doesn't have time for this.

 

*

 

She leaves it until after Rigsby and Cho have come back, their lead evaporated – whoever or whatever left those tracks, it's melted into thin air.

“There's no trail,” Rigsby says. He's had his hand bandaged. Lisbon wonders who did that. What he said to them.

“We need to talk,” she tells him. He's avoiding her eyes.

“Is this about the thing?” Cho asks.

“Thing?” She frowns. “What thing?”

“Rigsby's thing.” He looks back at her, perfectly Cho. “You know.” He makes a hand movement that could be anywhere between “werewolf” and “rabbit”. “The thing.”

“Oh, the werewolf thing?” Jane's voice is bright. “Yeah. Huh. I hadn't figured you'd picked up on it. Does Van Pelt know?”

“No!” Rigsby sounds horrified. “You can't tell her!”

Jane makes one of his “you can't be serious” noises. “Witch, remember, Rigsby? Apprentice witch, anyhow. She's probably going to work it out sooner rather than later. And – a word to the wise –” he leans in. “If you ever want to get anywhere with her, she's going to take it much better if you confess all now.”

“I do not need to hear that,” Lisbon points out. “Seriously. I don't.”

She turns to Rigsby. “Look, Rigsby, personally? What you get up to one night out of twenty-eight is your business. But I should have known. Officially, I'm obliged to pass this on. Officially, you shouldn't have got this job without me knowing that you – the werewolf. Thing.”

It's hard to say; harder to think. She thought she knew Rigsby. Good record, good instincts, an open book about most things; didn't like to talk about his childhood, but none of them did, really. This – this, she should have known. It's not that she's never met any werewolves, even discounting this case; they're not common in California, not like in the Old World, but there's more than a few and more than that in law enforcement. Those are mostly people who got bitten older, who feel that the discipline helps keep their new, wilder sides in check. Who like the chance to use the enhanced senses they get one week out of four. So it's not that she doesn't know any werewolves – one of her first partners was.

It's that for all it's one of the very few things that can put you on the wrong side of the human/other divide and leave you pretty much normal twenty-seven days out of twenty-eight, it still makes you not quite human. It's irreversible – at least, at any price which is legal, ethical, or moral – and it's transmissible, and if you're not responsible, it can make you extremely dangerous. Lisbon has never thought of Rigsby as dangerous – not to anyone she gives a damn about, anyhow. Now she has to.

Damn Jane and his telepathy. Just ... dammit.

Rigsby knows all that. She doesn't need to read his mind to tell. The guilt, the fear, the resentment – this wasn't his fault and he has to carry it – is quite clear enough.

“I know, boss. It was just –” He throws up his hands. “It was never the right time.”

“Tell me what happened,” she says, a little more gently. Rigsby's her people, after all.

“It was when I was working the San Francisco arson squad,” he begins, hesitant. “We were tracking a firebug – not the powered type, just a guy who liked Molotov cocktails a bit too much – and he sent up the apartment block we were in, interviewing a witness. It was the full moon. One of the residents was holed up in the basement – you know how it is, in the city, not a lot of places for th – for them to run, so most people stay somewhere safe and quiet. Kinda like the saferoom our guy had, here. Her neighbours knew about it. I went down to let her out. She clawed me, getting away from the fire. It was – it was an accident.”

“So you didn't tell anyone,” Lisbon says.

“I couldn't.” Rigsby does meet her eyes now, defensive. “She managed to track me down, afterwards, to apologise – she was practically in tears. And I couldn't – I didn't want to -”

“I get it,” Lisbon sighs. “But you went about it all wrong, Rigsby.”

“What makes you say that?” Jane asks. “Seems very sensible to me. They're very strict about transmission of lycanthropy. That poor girl – her home burns down, she gets in trouble with the law, she could have gone to jail – even if they couldn't prove intent, she'd be under supervision for years. Terrible. And Rigsby here, he's an upstanding, responsible sort of fellow, it's never been a problem – I bet he always locks himself away somewhere very secure, don't you, Rigsby? Ah, yes, of course you do. So why tell anyone?”

“So why'd you do this?” Rigsby bursts out, waving his injured hand at Jane.

“I wasn't sure,” Jane admits, tilting his head. “I like to be sure. Sorry about the hand, by the way, I figured you'd drop it right away. Careless of me. You'll have to let me buy you a drink sometime, make an apology.”

Rigsby's jaw twitches a little, but he nods, briefly. Rigsby's not the grudge-holding type. It'll help, a little.

“You want to punch him, you have my full permission,” Lisbon tells him.

Rigsby does think about it for a second. Jane smiles innocently. “Nah. He'll keep.”

Jane looks alarmed. Lisbon shrugs. “Your choice.”

“I'd have punched him,” Cho observes.

“Which – how did you know about it?” Rigsby demands.

Cho raises an eyebrow. “You never answered your apartment phone, any full moon evening. You eat way too much for a normal human, especially around that time of the month. Which leaves crumbs all over my desk, when you do it while you're talking to me. And you did contortions trying not to fall into a patch of wolfsbane, that time last year. Normal people don't even know what wolfsbane is. It wasn't difficult.”

“Nice work, Cho,” Jane congratulates him. “You have a fine eye for detail.”

“What's gonna happen, boss?” Rigsby asks abruptly.

Lisbon considers it for a second. Then another. She should report it. He probably won't even get in that much trouble. But everyone will look at him strangely. Maybe forever. His life will change.

Jane's grown more serious. Maybe he didn't consider that she'd have to report it. He should know better than that.

“All I know,” she says, eventually, “is that Jane and Cho have some understandable but probably misguided suspicions about you. Personally, I'm not feeling so inclined to indulge their conspiracy theories today. You're human, right, aren't you Rigsby?”

“Boss.”

“I'll take that as a yes.”

“Boss,” Rigsby says again, quietly.

“While we're at it,” Jane muses, “Cho, do you have any deep dark secrets you'd like to confess?”

“No,” says Cho.

Lisbon punches Jane in the upper arm. Lightly. Well, sort of.

She catches Rigsby by the arm, as he's leaving. “One condition. You gotta tell Van Pelt.”

“I can't.” Rigsby's face is nearly white.

“You can. Jane's right. Not about the other crap – you and she are too smart to get your asses kicked out of the unit that way, and it better stay that way – but she won't forgive you if we all know and she doesn't, and one day she is going to work it out. So you tell her. That's the deal.”

“She's right, you know,” says Jane, passing by.

“Shut up,” Lisbon tells him. “Deal, Rigsby?”

“Deal, boss.”

She watches him tell her, later that evening. Van Pelt shakes her head, and goes pale, and then – to Lisbon's everlasting surprise, and definitely Rigsby's – slaps him.

“That went quite well, I think,” observes Jane, coming up silently beside her. “She's working through it. She'll forgive him.”

“She better.” Lisbon knows she sounds grudging. “That was still not okay. What you did.”

“You'd have worked it out, too.” Jane catches her gaze, holds it. “And if you'd worked it out on your own, you'd have been mad at him, not me. You'd have reported him. It would have been ... uncomfortable, at best. Destroyed the team, at worst.”

“And you care about that?”

“We seem to have reached a balanced equilibrium. No need to disturb it.”

“Sure.”

The trouble is, she believes him. Believes that he took one for the team. He's sincere enough.

But it's Jane, so it's possible that he wants her to believe that, or was just feeling masochistic – god knows that happens often enough – or –

She's never known someone who could make her want a drink so badly, and still make her smile. It's – uncomfortable.

 

*

 

They get no leads on the case for another two weeks. On full moon night, Rigsby announces he's going home early. He always had before, but there'd been excuses. It would have passed uncommented on, if Van Pelt hadn't wished him good luck (“For what?” “I don't know. Everything?”) and they'd nearly had an actual argument, which Lisbon had been forced to break up. The equally public and awkward making up the next day was, if anything, worse. Lisbon hated watching the pair of them make eyes at each other.

“Admit it, you're just jealous,” Jane had said, coming up behind her.

“I am not,” Lisbon denied indignantly.

Sometimes, Jane was just really, deeply annoying.

It's Van Pelt, presumably buoyed on non-regulatory young love – Lisbon is sort of pleased the werewolf thing doesn't seem to be causing issues, except in the way that she isn't pleased at the whole situation – who gives them the crucial lead on not just the Sacramento murder, but Keller's as well.

“It's the neighbour!” she exclaims excitedly, dropping a stack of papers on Lisbon's desk. “From the Sacramento case? The one who'd moved out the week before? I managed to track her down to the Bay area – she had a regular order for a journal, at a local bookstore, and she gave them her new address – but she's using a different name. The same name that was on some of Sam Keller's papers.”

“You think these two are connected?” Lisbon asks her sharply. This is new. This could be very good.

“I'm certain of it,” Van Pelt nods. “This woman? She works for this start-up company, in Oakland. I haven't proved it yet, but the payments I couldn't track down, in Keller's account? From an account at the same bank they're with. I'll have to get a warrant to pull the details, and if they're smart they won't use the business account anyway, but it's promising.”

“So what do they do, this company?” Lisbon picks up one of the papers; it's a carbon copy of a lease, for a warehouse in Oakland.

“That's the thing.” Van Pelt makes hand motions of great excitement. God, Lisbon hates it when people are bubbly. It's infectious. “It's all very mysterious. They've been buying up land –”

She pulls out a sheet, hands it to Lisbon. “Near ... oh, the Havers case. Huh.”

“Exactly! I've got no idea what they're actually doing, but it's tied in to Keller. And Catherine Havers. And that woman who killed her.”

“Magic, the Good Folk, and a mechanic.” Lisbon frowns. “This could be a very bad combination.”

“Yeah, it could.” Van Pelt's nose wrinkles. ”But we might find out who did those murders. And that's more important.”

“You bet.” Lisbon stands up. “Time for a team meeting, I think.”

 

*

 

Jane frowns when he hears the news.

“Ideas?” Lisbon asks him.

“No,” and he's lying, clearly, but the problem with Jane is not so much the lying as the figuring out why he's doing it.

“Liar. Tell me when you've figured out whatever you're thinking about. Cho, I need you to go interview Maria Alberto. Where did she end up?”

“I just called the prison, when Van Pelt started talking about a link to the Havers case,” Cho says. “She ended up dead in her cell, two weeks ago. Suicide.”

Jane scoffs. “Don't believe it.”

“I don't, but that's the official line.” Cho shrugs. “So we're not getting anything out of her.”

“Arranged suicide.” Rigsby raises his eyebrows. “That's a lot of money and influence floating about.”

“You said it,” Lisbon agrees.

“Something doesn't fit,” Jane muses. “I think I know what they're doing, but if I'm right about what they're doing, they'd have to be very stupid. And these murders aren't stupid. These murders are smart.”

“So what are they doing?” Rigsby asks him.

Jane shakes his head. “Still thinking about it.”

“Jane,” Lisbon says warningly.

He raises his hands. “It's a theory. I don't want to waste your time with a theory.”

“You do that all the time.”

“Well, maybe I'm learning patience and reticence.” Jane smiles. There is general eye-rolling.

“All right,” Lisbon decides. “Cho, you and me and Mr. Reticence here are going down to this warehouse. Van Pelt, follow up the banking stuff. Rigsby, make a few calls, see if you can find this neighbour Van Pelt used to connect the cases.”

Cho's reaching for his overcoat. “What are we looking for in the warehouse?”

“I don't know. We'll poke around, see what comes crawling out when we turn the rocks over.”

“Those are famous last words,” Jane says, standing.

“Reticence. Keep practicing it.”

It's something of a minor miracle, Lisbon has cause to reflect in years to come, that he never actually gets around to saying I told you so.

 

*

 

The warehouse on the docks is quiet and poorly lit. The sun's setting in the west when they arrive. Lisbon touches her cross and her gun. She wonders what Jane and Cho are carrying for protection. Everyone has something, when there's so many things to be protected from. She's never thought to ask.

“Grace made me this neat little warding charm the other week. Perran had her doing them as practice,” Jane says aloud, holding it up. “She also threatened to turn me into a toad if I ever got her into trouble like that again.”

“Did you pay attention?” Cho asks him.

“Eh. I don't think she'd do that.”

“Yes, she would.”

“Taken under advisement. What's got you so worried, Lisbon?”

“I'm not sure,” she replies slowly. “This place just feels a little...quiet, wouldn't you say?”

“Too quiet,” Cho agrees. “We haven't seen anyone. That's not normal. I think -”

Jane lets out a yell that's almost words, and knocks into her. A sheet of flame and wind goes over their heads.

To add insult to injury, there's the distinct noise of gunshots. She ducks behind a stack of crates, pulling Jane with her. “Where's Cho?”

Jane's looking around the corner; she draws her gun, returns fire, ducks back. “I don't know. Did he duck?”

“Fuck,” she mutters, taking aim again. “Stay down. Why didn't you warn us there were people approaching?”

“Lisbon, I –”

She spots Cho, then, on the edge of the wharf. He's clearly been badly burnt, down his whole left side; she doesn't know how he got from where they were to there. He topples into the water.

Oh, no. No no no no –

No time for that.

“This is the CBI!” she yells. “Drop your weapons!”

The next shot of whatever-it-is sets the crates alight. They're running out of time.

“I don't think that's going to work,” Jane comments.

“Shut up.

“This constant negativity, Lisbon, you've really got to work on it.”

She reloads, leans, shoots, leans back. She thinks she might have hit one of them. She's not really sure how many there are; the smoke and fire is obscuring things.

She opens her mouth to tell Jane to run next time she shoots, but the massive wave of salt-water that crashes over the wharf and everything and everyone on it sort of stops that.

For a moment everything is water and salt and chaos; when she can breathe and see again, she's half-way to the edge of the wharf, soaked to the skin, with Jane clinging grimly onto her – she's not even sure how he managed that. She takes a gasping breath, then another. “What the hell.”

“Boss! Jane! You all right?”

And it's Cho, Cho who just got himself very nearly killed all of five minutes ago, running up to them. There is no-one else in sight. The crates are a smoking, soggy pile.

“Oh, seriously?” Jane looks Cho up and down. “Seriously? You too? Is this some sort of cosmic joke?”

“Cosmic, a little bit, not sure about a joke. You okay, boss?”

“I'm wet.” She stands up. “Fine, otherwise. You have thirty seconds to explain that. Why are you not half-dead?”

“I'm a bit harder to kill than that.” His face gives nothing away. Neither do his emotions.

She walks over to the edge of the wharf. There are a couple of people splashing. Bodies, too. “Obviously. You want to explain that?”

“Not particularly.” He shrugs.

“Oh, come on,” Jane says. “Water powers? Dragon, right? Totally a dragon. That's why you could de-possess Van Pelt. Don't think I didn't spot that.”

Cho frowns at him. “Huh.”

“I thought you might be half-Fae,” Jane continues blithely, “because of the gun, but it didn't make sense.”

“Dragon.” Lisbon sighs. She's aware of what it means – East Asian dragons are rather different from their European counterparts, being sort of shapeshifters and sort of demigods – but she just really didn't need this.

“No,” says Cho.

“Then feel free to explain.” She gestures at the water.

“My grandfather was.” He shrugs. “I'm just ... a bit dragon-ish.”

“Enough to be difficult to kill.”

“Pretty much.”

Lisbon sighs again. Anyone semi-divine is definitely not supposed to be wandering around incognito, at least to the authorities. The problems can be endless. “Fine. Whatever. Let's do this.”

“We can't get a change of clothes?” Jane makes a face.

No.”

 

*

 

The warehouse is large and dark. Jane finds a lantern near the door. It's also filled with crates; the devices inside are nothing Lisbon's ever seen.

“I was wrong,” Jane says, staring at them. “I sort of wish I wasn't.”

“Feel free to explain yourself,” Lisbon tells him. She feels like she's saying that a lot.

“I thought they were trying to find a way to let the Fae out,” he says, holding one of the whatever-they-are. “Get them around all the cold iron and protections. You'd have to be stupid, but there's always someone willing to be stupid, for a price. But that's not what this is. I'll bet you there's Fae magic trapped in these. They've worked out a way to put Fae magic into a sort of ––“

“Weapon,” says Cho. “Huh. That's not good.”

“So Havers was killed because she found out what they were doing, Keller because he helped them do it, the last man because ... who knows? A test run? To see if it worked? The obsidian must have been a test itself. Probably a failed one.”

Lisbon's mind is racing. “Okay. Cho, go find the nearest phone and get us reinforcements. I want this place locked down yesterday. Jane and I will look around.”

“Will do.” She does like the way Cho just does things. Even if he's been lying to her as – no, not the time to get worked up about that.

They head for the offices at the back of the warehouse. Lisbon is morally certain there's no-one here, but keeps her – very wet, and probably non-working – gun drawn.

All of them are empty, except the last. Which neither of them notices until too late. There's a hiss and a flare, as a kerosene lamp is lit; there's a man standing behind a desk, pointing a gun at them. Lisbon aims hers.

“This is the CBI. Drop your weapon.”

“After the soaking yours had out there? I think not.”

Lisbon pulls the trigger. There's a click.

Oh, fuck.

Jane is tense, beside her. Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. They should have gone back with Cho.

“You're in charge of this, aren't you?” Jane addresses the man directly. He's nondescript; Lisbon couldn't have picked him out on the street. “I'm Patrick Jane. What's your name?”

“Robert Ashwood,” says the man, who obviously thinks they're not going anywhere to mention it. Lisbon lowers her useless gun. “You know, considering your team's reputation, I was disappointed it took you this long to put it all together. Since you were assigned to all those murders, I've been investigating you all, you know. Quite a motley collection you have, Agent Lisbon. Not an ordinary human among you, judging by Agent Cho's performance out there.”

There's a scrying mirror in the corner; great, he was probably watching them the whole time. Extremely stupid.

“We're flattered. Now, put the gun down. We don't have any evidence against you personally yet. You start shooting at cops, that becomes a whole different ballgame.” Lisbon does her best to sound commanding.

“I have a much better suggestion.” Ashwood opens a box on the desk, gun still trained on them. “Do you know what this is, Mr. Jane?”

“I believe I do,” Jane says evenly. “It's an augmentation device. A very good and authentic one, if I'm any judge of such things. Which I am. How much did that cost you? Oh, wait; it didn't. You murdered the last owner, am I right? You seem to enjoy having your problems solved by murder. You're quite proud of it. It's proof of your invincibility. It's a trophy.”

“An augmentation device?” Lisbon knows her voice is shaky. “What the hell is that?”

“Why don't you come over here and demonstrate for Agent Lisbon?” Ashwood's dark eyes are gleaming. This can't be good. Oh, this can't be good. Lisbon curses her carelessness, her helplessness, her water-soaked, useless gun.

“I'd rather not,” Jane replies.

“What. Does. It. Do.” Lisbon gets out.

“It's what it says it is. It augments...abilities. You touch that, as a normal human? You'll be able to use magic. Read minds. Sense feelings. What depends on what and who you are. If you're a fully-fledged witch or wizard, it'll increase your power ten-fold. If you're a telepath, say....” Jane swallows. “It will open you up to every mind within, oh, ten miles. With no control. It's a device of power, not of precision.”

“But that would –”

“- drive you irreversibly mad, yes.” Jane's mouth is tense, a thin line. “Which is, I believe, what our host intends.”

Lisbon takes a breath. Takes another. “You don't have to do this.”

“I think I do.” Ashwood's face is merciless. “I could just shoot you both, of course. That would be simplest. But you've very nearly ruined a very profitable scheme, and killed several of my people just now. I deserve a little ... payback.”

The jagged crystals gleam dully. Lisbon can't help investing them with menace. They're lurking. Waiting.

The curious thing is that Jane isn't frightened. Not even a little.

“Let her go,” he says. Lisbon's heart stops.

Ashwood laughs. “Why?”

Jane shrugs. He doesn't look at her. “If I'm incapable of bearing witness against you, it's your word against Lisbon's. We don't actually have much in the way of hard evidence against you, as she says. A good lawyer, a good alibi – I'm sure such a well-connected man as yourself can provide one – you'll go free. And one less person will be dead. A small good deed in an evil world. I don't think it's that much to ask.”

“The hell it is!” Lisbon yells at him. “You're not trading your sanity for my life!”

He does look at her, now. His face is entirely serene. His feelings are entirely serene; maybe a little anticipatory. Lisbon wants to throw something. “I've been mad before. It's not that bad, actually.”

“How pleasant for you.” Ashwood hefts his gun. “But enough of the chatter. Pick it up, Mr. Jane. Now.”

“I want -” Jane begins.

Ashwood points the gun at her. “Pick it up, or I shoot her first.”

Lisbon's mouth is dry. There's a faint roaring in her ears. Ashwood is telling the precise truth, of that she's sure; the certainty in his mind leaves no room for doubt. Jane has gone very pale, and still. He smiles. If Teresa Lisbon was in the habit if letting her heart get broken, that might have done the trick.

“Okay, then,” Jane says, and he picks it up.

Lisbon isn't entirely sure what happens next. She supposes it's because she's gone mad, because snatches the crystal from Jane's hands.

And then the world does go mad. It's like her mind has blown out, encompassing a reach greater than she can understand. So many people, so many feelings, and she can pick them out, sort of. There's Jane, frantic with worry, and Ashwood, shocked out of his certainty; beyond them Cho's grim determination, heading their way, and Van Pelt and Rigsby and she shouldn't be able to identify people by their feelings, she can't, it's not part of her power, but it's overwhelming her and beyond her and she's happy and angry and terrified and furious and outraged and so many things she can't name she can't see she can't hear it's just -

There is a gunshot. Lisbon is too far gone to hear it.

 

*

 

She comes back to herself slowly, painfully. She is lying on the floor. There is dust in her mouth, something in the small of her back. Her hands hurt.

The world comes into focus. Ashwood is lying on the floor, too; but he's quite unconscious, blood running down his face. Head wound, looks like.

She can't feel – she can't feel anything. It's like she's burned out, too overwhelmed to bring anything into focus. Someone is leaning over her, she realises,speaking to her.

“Lisbon. Lisbon. Teresa. Are you listening? Because I have several very important things to tell you, the first of which is that you are an idiot -

It's Patrick Jane. Figures. She's lying semi-conscious and still half-soaked on a cold floor and Jane is babbling at her.

“You're an idiot,” she tells him, turning her head to look up. He's kneeling beside her, hand against her neck, almost cupping her face; he looks, for once, for once in his damn smug life, truly terrified.

“I am not an idiot. I had a plan,” he retorts. He holds up his other hand, thumb raised. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

“Your thumb. Stop that, it's not like I was knocked on the head.” She pulls the hand on her face away, pushes herself groggily up; though, now she mentions it, maybe she did hit her head on the floor. She feels the back of it gingerly. “Ow.”

“Careful, you cut your hands on the crystal.” Jane pulls, from somewhere, a handkerchief. “Here. Clean, I promise.”

He won't let her push him away, binds her bleeding hand with it; Lisbon rolls her eyes and lets him. “What happened while I was going irreversibly mad, there?”

“Ashwood was a little distracted, missed his shot, so I bashed him in the back of the head with that handy paperweight on his desk,” Jane says, almost calmly. His hands only quiver slightly. Jane, Lisbon remembers, has never tried to kill someone. “Then I rescued you. Easy. Would have been easier if you hadn't gone for the crystal, mind you, but we can't have ev –”

“Easier?” Lisbon nearly explodes. “How would it have been easier? I just – I nearly did go mad, just then. I think. I'm not sure I didn't. For a little while. You're a full-blown telepath – you would have -”

“Lisbon.” Jane reaches across her, picks something up. It's the crystal, stained with her blood. “Look.”

He's holding it. He's holding it and he's smiling that quirky little smile at her and he's not screaming like she knows she did, her throat is raw with it, he's not flailing or going mad or -

“This is a trick, right?” she asks him, brushing her hair back out of her eyes. “This is one of your tricks, you know how to control it, or you went mad already so you can't go mad again, or – or –”

“No trick,” he says, simply. “Except this one: I'm not a telepath.”

That makes so little sense, she just gapes at him.

“Lisbon,” Jane repeats. “I'm not a telepath. It's a lie. A con. I cannot hear your thoughts. I have never been able to hear anyone's thoughts. There are dozens of thousands of real live telepaths in the world and I am not one of them.”

And that makes even less, so she just gapes some more.

He puts the crystal down, runs his hands through his blond curls. “Listen. I needed – I wanted – to work with the CBI. There's ... a case. A case I need to be ... involved with. But you have access to any sort of magic, any sort of ability you like. Why would you work with someone who's just very, very good at reading other people? Why would you bother with the second-best thing?”

Lisbon has no idea what to say. “I – you – but you solve cases. You read minds. You're good at this!”

He scoffs. “Oh, I read minds. Anyone can read minds. Body language, eye contact, what people don't say; it's like an open book. But hear their thoughts? No. Sorry. No can do.”

She wouldn't believe him – doesn't believe him – except for the augmentation crystal, lying harmless on the floorboards. She knows it works. She felt it work. And it doesn't affect Jane in the slightest.

He is, for once in his miserable life, telling the truth.

So she backhands him, as hard as she can.

“You bastard,” she hisses. “All this time, it's all been a lie? You've uncovered all our secrets and been our – you've been our friend, and you were lying about this?”

Jane's sprawling back on his hands, nose already starting to swell a little. He touches it. “Ow. Ow. Yes. Yes, I was. But – if you'll think about it, Lisbon -” he looks up at her as she climbs shakily to her feet “– now we're even. Everyone else had something they were hiding. That's mine.”

“You still lied,” she says. It's cold, she realises, creeping into her bones. “I'm not just forgiving you like that. So, what, you were going to pretend to go mad? Grab his gun while he was distracted? Send me away?”

“Something like that.” He gets to his feet. “Would have worked, too. I think.”

“Would have not.” Lisbon doesn't remember when she was last this tired. “Jane – Patrick. What is it? What's so important that you lied your way into the CBI to get to it?”

His face is shadowed. “It's not hard to figure out. I'm sure you can look it up for yourself.”

“You owe me,” she says bluntly. “For the lying. For letting me think you could hear my thoughts. For – I tried to sacrifice myself for you, you fucking bastard! Tell me.”

“You weren't supposed to do that.” His voice is very, very quiet. “You weren't supposed to – why did you do that, Lisbon?”

Wonderful; a moment of truth. She hates those. She can't meet his eyes. “Oh, who knows. You're bad enough as it is; imagine what you'd be like if you did go mad.”

“This is a very bad idea,” says Patrick Jane, a little desperately.

And, of course, he's right; for any number of reasons, starting with the wedding ring he's still wearing, the case he won't tell her about that has driven him here, the brokenness that pervades him on the best of days. And on, and on.

She fixes her gaze on the crystal. It's relatively inoffensive. “I have no idea what you're talking about.”

There is a pause. “No. Of course not.”

She risks a glance up; Jane is looking away, too. That's ... probably good. “We should get going; if Cho found a phone, the others will be here soon.”

“Any minute now,” Jane agrees. They both glance at Ashwood. “He'll keep.”

“Should we –” Lisbon glances back at the crystal.

“Yes.” Jane picks it up, hefts it, and hurls it, as hard as he can, at an exposed steel beam in the wall. It shatters on impact; Lisbon ducks, shields her face.

“What the – Jane, that was evidence!”

“That was too dangerous to leave lying around.” His voice is leached of all emotion, carefully so. “We'll manage without it.”

Her psychic sense is kicking back in; she can feel him again, relief and anger and concern and – and –

She locks it down, carefully, concentrating. She can do that, if she has to, though it's like walking in a straight line with her hands over her ears; difficult, sometimes impossible.

“Fine, then. Let's go.”

They're half-way across the warehouse floor, with the lights of the cavalry visible near the far doors – witchlight, not very steady, that'll be Van Pelt, and the golden flicker of lanterns – when Jane speaks. His face is outside the circle of lamplight; she can't see it.

“When you go to look it up? You'll want to look for Angela and Charlotte Jane.”

Wife and daughter, Lisbon figures. She wonders which is which. She doesn't ask. “Okay.”

They don't speak again until they see the others coming towards them, Van Pelt holding up green-flickering witchlight, Rigsby and Cho with lanterns. And even then, not to each other.

Lisbon closes her eyes, and lets it go. “You people are late.”

 

*

 

Jane comes into her office, a few weeks later, when the scars are healing over, if not healed. None of the team are talking about what happened, but there's some quiet understanding in that decision. Certainly no-one has questioned her version of events in the cave; Ashwood threatened her and Jane, Jane managed to knock him out. After all, they solved the mystery, unraveled the links between the murders, stopped some very dangerous and illegal weaponry from making its way into the world. Everything else – well, there was a freak wave on the wharf, who could have predicted it? It's a thin excuse. It'll do. Cho keeps his secrets very well – and now they'll keep them for him, just like everyone else on this team.

She has made a couple of decisions, though. Both of which involve Jane; she doesn't need to read minds herself to know that they're what he wants to speak to her about.

“I notice you haven't spoken to Minelli,” he begins, cautiously.

“What's there to speak about?” She looks back at him blandly. “We solved a case. A lot of cases, actually. You're integrating well with the team. I recommended that we make this permanent.”

Jane just looks at her, for a second, as if startled. She doesn't believe that. “Oh, don't make out like you didn't know that.”

He shrugs. “Just wanted to see what you'd say.”

Lisbon snorts. “Of course you did.”

But there's something else, too, another answer she owes him. “By the way. I went and looked up that file you suggested.”

He's gone quiet and pale again, the way he was in the warehouse. “Did you, now?”

“I did.” She folds her arms, gazes steadily up at him. “Didn't exactly make for easy bedtime reading. I'm sorry.”

“Thank you,” he whispers.

“It's a cold case,” she continues, “and there haven't been any more killings for, what, two years now? Three? So I requested it be given to us. Just as something to work on, you understand. When we don't have anything else to do.”

Jane just nods. But his eyes – it's a little dreadful, what she sees there, what she feels; he wants this, badly, more badly than she's ever felt anyone want anything, as badly as her dad ever wanted a drink, when she was small. This isn't good for him. She's sure of it.

“This isn't good for you,” she says aloud.

“Probably not healthy, no,” he agrees. “But -”

She shakes her head. “I know. Enough. We'll do this.” She glances out at their desks; Rigsby is perched on Van Pelt's, saying something that makes her laugh. Cho is shaking his head. Witch, werewolf, demi-god. Herself. It's beyond insanity. “After all. We're the only team at the CBI with a real live mind-reader.”

Jane follows her gaze. “That's right. Who knows what we can do?”

Lisbon puts her hand on his arm. “Jane. I'm not gonna let you kill yourself, doing this. You got that?”

He stiffens; they don't do this, really. But he doesn't move away. “That's ... not exactly your choice.”

“Yeah?” She pulls him around to face her; he goes unwillingly. “Think again. If I have to save you from yourself, I will.”

“Heard and understood,” is all he says, after a long moment, and it's enough to make her smile, a little. She lets her hand drop.

There's a knock on the conference room door; it's Cho. She nods him in.

He nods back. “Boss. Jane. We just got a call in from Tahoe, near the Deseret border. Double homicide, one survivor. They want us in.”

“Field trip!” Jane exclaims, excitedly. “Excellent. I love field trips.”

“Good. You've got ten minutes to be ready,” Lisbon tells him. “Give me the details, Cho.”

She heads out, Jane on her heels. They've got a murder to solve.

“Ready to read some minds for us?” Rigsby asks Jane, as they approach the desks.

“Rigsby, I am always ready,” says Patrick Jane. And he smiles.