A/N: One point I forgot to mention, which is actually quite important is that this takes place during Season 2, set after Rigsby and Van Pelt have split up, but before the season finale - which I've only read about, seeing as how I live in England and we have got another three/four weeks before it airs.
After Jane had been missing for seven days, Lisbon was frustrated and more than a little scared. If people were missing this long without any clues, it usually meant they were dead. She knew her statistics, every cop in the agency knew the statistics – the first 48 hours were critical in any missing persons investigation, and they were well beyond that time, thanks to her own complacency. After those 48 hours, the trail began to get cold, people didn’t remember those small details as well, and it became far more difficult to get anywhere.
The daily briefing was becoming a dispiriting exercise in futility. No one ever had any good news to report. It was as though Patrick Jane had simply vanished without a trace.
“Forensics are back on Jane’s car,” Van Pelt reported tiredly. Her face showed the stress that all of the CBI, but particularly Lisbon’s team were under. In fact, Lisbon didn’t remember if anyone of them had left the office over the last two days, except to go and interview potential witnesses. She made a mental note to make sure all three of them went home for some sleep that night.
“Anything?” Hightower led the briefings, her presence a reminder of the seriousness of the situation.
“Something. Maybe. The traces of blood we found at the scene are a match with Jane, as are the fingerprints on the door handle.”
“Shocking. He touched his own car.” Lisbon was too worried about Jane to worry about the formality of interrupting Hightower, and too concerned to bother to hide her sarcasm. “Anything useful, Van Pelt?”
“Small shards of glass were found inside the car, and forensics ran a trace on the substance on them. It was chloroform.”
“So he was attacked at his car, hurt enough to bleed and then chloroformed?” Lisbon closed her eyes in pain. Not just missing then, but kidnapped.
“I’ll start checking with Probation, see which of the guys Jane’s put away got out recently,” Cho offered.
“I’ve got word out through the Gang Unit,” Rigsby said. “All the street gangs from here to the coast know that someone has kidnapped a cop and that we’re all pissed about it. If they find anything, they’ll let us know. None of them want us suspecting that they had anything to do with it – they know what happens when a cop gets hurt.”
“Good. Van Pelt, you’re with me. We’re going back to where we found his car.” Maybe this time, something new would jump out at her.
After leaving CBI HQ that final time, Jane had apparently treated himself to a nice dinner at the restaurant of a nearby country club. His car had been found in the car park of the restaurant, a little way from the main entrance, just far enough from the entrance that the staff’s stories that no one had seen anything were plausible. The space Jane had parked in was still cordoned off with crime scene tape and Lisbon ducked underneath.
“Let’s think this through: Jane has dinner, pays for it, flirts with a waitress on his way out, and walks over to his car.” She looked around. “We have checked their CCTV, right?”
“They don’t have anything covering the car park,” Van Pelt confirmed. “Only the reception and main dining area of the restaurant.”
“Naturally.” She grimaced. “So, he gets to his car, opens the door and that’s where he, she or they attack him. He’s hit, probably from behind, and goes down, leaving blood on the bottom of the door. The attacker then knocks him out with some chloroform, but manages to break the container at some point and leave traces of it behind. Jane is then moved to the attacker’s vehicle and driven off.”
“That’s what the evidence is telling us.”
Lisbon shook her head. “The club said the restaurant was busy that night. Not one person saw anything suspicious at all? A fight, and then someone is carried unconscious to another car, and no one saw anything? That’s not likely.”
“The manager said that guests who arrived later than Jane wouldn’t have parked near here – the bulb in the streetlight had fused, so it was the only unlit area of the car park.” Van Pelt shrugged uneasily. “It’s likely no one was close enough to see anything. We’re checking with everyone who was on the guest list, just in case.”
“Hang on a minute, the bulb in the light that Jane parks under just happens to be the only one in this entire car park that’s not working on the very night that he gets kidnapped?”She snorted. “Get forensics back here and get them to go over every inch of that light. If someone tampered with it, I want to know who and how.” Now they were getting somewhere, she thought with relief. “Any trace left from the other vehicle?”
“Nothing. We have to assume that they parked near Jane, otherwise someone was more likely to see something, right? Well, there’s nothing for five spaces either side. No tire tracks, no oil spills, no distinguishing marks at all.”
“Damn.” She paced impatiently. “There has to be something. No one commits the perfect crime.”
“Jane probably could.”
She glared at Van Pelt. “That’s not helpful. There is no such thing as the perfect crime.” It sounded hollow, even to her own ears.
Later, back at HQ, Hightower took her aside. “How are you holding up, Lisbon?”
“I’m good, boss,” she assured the taller woman firmly. The last thing that Lisbon would allow to happen was her removal from this case. She was going to be the one to find Jane.
“It’s never easy, when something happens to a colleague, and worse when it happens to a friend,” Hightower said sympathetically.
“But when someone just disappears...that can often be the hardest to deal with. When they simply vanish, as if by magic...” Hightower stopped. “What? Lisbon, what did I say?”
Lisbon had gone white. Magic. Oh no. Not that. Anything but that. She waved off Hightower’s concerns and locked herself in her office. It looked like it might be time to call Xander Harris.