Disclaimer: Buffy and friends belong to Joss while Patrick Jane and friends belong to Bruno Heller. Rather unfortunately, I only own the people you don't recognise in the story.
A/N: Welcome back to the world where Patrick Jane has been reluctantly forced to admit the supernatural actually exists! This is set six months after Red Blood and Blue Hands and while it's not necessary to read that to understand this - important points: Jane and Lisbon met Buffy when Robin Wood was murdered, had the big Slayer talk, didn't tell the rest of the team - it might help to understand some of the reactions.
In the Mentalist timeline, this is literally just before the first episode of Season 2 - we go back into the normal Mentalist timeline as the story ends. There's only one big change to Mentalist canon and that's to do with Van Pelt and Rigsby. It's not earth-shatteringly different though.
So, read on, hopefully enjoy and please review!
It had been six months since Teresa Lisbon’s introduction to the supernatural and a lot had happened. The team had come close, so close, to catching Red John, until it had all gone horribly wrong and Jane had been forced to shoot the one man who could have led them to the killer. Lisbon had then been forced to send Jane to the departmental psychiatrist as a result of the shooting and the poor man was apparently still talking about the traumatic experience. The psychiatrist, that was, not Jane. Jane had bounced back into the squad room, acting as though there was nothing wrong. He had persisted with this pretence in spite of all Lisbon’s efforts to get him to talk about what had happened. The entire team was aware that Jane was not OK, but he seemed incapable of admitting this.
This had, naturally, led to plenty of tension in the team, as all of them were waiting for the moment that Jane would snap. It seemed obvious to all but the consultant that this was inevitable, which meant none of them were particularly comfortable working with him. Cho seemed least affected, so Lisbon had been pairing him with Jane more. For now, there was little more she could do, except be there for Jane when his act eventually fell apart.
Frankly, the one that worried her most at the moment was Van Pelt. The youngest agent on the team had been acting strangely for the last two weeks, taking furtive phone calls when she thought no one was watching, hanging up the second she felt eyes on her. She’d been late in a couple of times, and keen to leave at the end of they day. It just wasn’t like Van Pelt to be like that. Lisbon frowned and called the redhead into her office.
“Close the door, Van Pelt. I need to speak you privately.”
“Anything wrong, boss?” Van Pelt looked wary, edgy. Again, not like her at all.
“You tell me.” Lisbon had never been one to beat around the bush. “Is anything wrong?”
Van Pelt shook her head. “No. Why would there be?” Then, as if the thought just occurred to her, “Is this about Jane?”
“This is about you. You’ve been acting oddly for weeks now, coming in late, leaving early, all those mysterious phone calls. I want to know what’s bothering you. Maybe I can help,” she offered.
Van Pelt just stared at her, her eyes very wide. She licked her lips a few times, clearly thinking of how to distract her boss. Lisbon hid a grim smile; she didn’t need Jane to tell her Van Pelt was about to lie. Then, to her astonishment, Van Pelt’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “You can’t help; it’s family. We’ve just got a few family problems at the moment, and I’m trying to help out. It’s not going very well,” she admitted sadly.
“Is that all?”
“Yes, just family.” Van Pelt was stroking the silver cross necklace she wore, a nervous habit that nevertheless jarred Lisbon somehow. It reminded her of her own cross, a gift from Jane, which she nearly always wore, tucked under her shirt. A gift given after an ordeal that she had never spoken of again, though she’d gone over it in her head a thousand times. Usually after yet another nightmare.
Lisbon gave the younger agent a hard stare and Van Pelt flushed awkwardly, but said nothing. With a sigh, Lisbon shook her head. “Fine. If that’s all it is, fine. But if you do need to talk, you know where I am.”
“Thanks, boss.” Van Pelt gave her a shy smile as she stood up. “Um, actually, I was about to put in for a couple of days leave. I think I need to go back home and try and sort this out.”
Lisbon thought through the upcoming days and nodded. “That should be fine. Make sure you’re contactable, just in case we get a hot one come in.”
“Will do, boss. Thanks.”
Lisbon noticed wryly that Van Pelt made a determined effort to join in with the usual team banter for the rest of the day, doing her best to appear normal and as though nothing was worrying her at all. She wondered if any of the others were fooled by the act.
Grace was increasingly nervous about everything. Lisbon had already noticed something was off, and it was only a matter of time before one of the others said something. To be honest, she was amazed that Jane had so far said nothing. Acting simply wasn’t her strong point and she couldn’t hide her anxiety over the whole mess. Driving home, Grace thought through the increasingly frantic messages she’d been getting again.
Yolanda, her psychic cousin, had been having bad dreams for months now, always about the same thing. Despite Cho’s scepticism and Jane’s outright ridicule, Van Pelt had always believed that there was more to the world than met the eye and was convinced of her cousin’s gift. There had been too many occasions when she had been scarily right to doubt her. Usually they were about family matters – Grace knew she had been accepted into the CBI long before the acceptance letter had reached her through the mail – but Yolanda sometimes saw other things. She’d woken up screaming on September 10th 2001, talking about falling towers and flames. Grace had put it down to an over-indulgence in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. By the time the second plane hit the Twin Towers, Grace had vowed never to doubt any of Yolanda’s warnings again.
So she didn’t doubt that her youngest cousin, Marissa, really was in danger. Yolanda had been having dreams about a shadowy creature sneaking up on the young girl, a being that was sometimes confronted by a dark haired warrior. When the warrior was there, the creature was usually driven back. When the warrior was absent, Marissa died screaming. The warrior didn’t always manage to fight it off, but its presence gave Marissa a chance.
Grace had been about to put in for some personal leave and go and stay with Marissa and her mother for a while, just in case, when they had received a letter, inviting Marissa to attend a special school in Cleveland. One run by the International Council of Watchers. Grace might believe in the supernatural, but she was too much of a cop to believe in coincidences. This needed looking into. Now.