Thought Police

Disclaimer: If you recognize it, it's not mine. This story is on an AU track.

Chapter 2: No Coincidence

It was difficult to distinguish "unusually serious" from their boss' normal stoicism, but one look at her husband confirmed to Agent Teresa Lisbon that her instincts were right on track. If anyone could tell the difference, it was Patrick Jane, and the serious expression on the consultant's face made it clear that he was picking up on something from Cho. The team rookie, meanwhile, was looking anxiously back and forth, clearly waiting for something to happen. Teresa smiled to herself. Oh, to be young and excitable.

Fortunately, they didn't have to wait long. Their boss stepped into the office, pulled the door shut, and turned to face his assembled team. "I'll get right to it. We've got a missing agent."

"And good morning to you too, Cho," Jane said lightly.

"Agent John McNeil." The Asian man continued as though he hadn't even heard his consultant speak, tacking an FBI personnel photo to the board at the front of the room. "He was visiting his sister's family in New York. Went out to do some sightseeing and that was the last time anyone saw him. He no-showed on his reservation for a tour bus."

"I take it that means we're headed to New York?" That was Wylie, now sitting completely still and focused on the picture.

"Flight leaves in four hours," Cho replied by way of confirmation. "In the meantime, we'll run down all the background we can. Let's get to it."

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"Morning, Boss."

Don furrowed his brow slightly at his junior agent's cheerful greeting. "Okay, Bentencourt, what did you do now?"

She chuckled. "Come on, Boss. I've been here over six years, and you're still so suspicious."

"Damn straight, I'm suspicious," he teased. "Like you said, I've known you for six years."

"You walked right into that one," another voice piped up from the next cubicle, and they both turned to see Colby Granger grinning behind them as he sipped from a cup of coffee.

The young woman looked behind Colby, seeking out the fourth member of the team, who responded by laughing and shaking her head. "You're on your own there, Nikki."

Her lips pulled in a mock pout. "Aw, Warner. I thought us girls were supposed to stick together."

Liz Warner only laughed, turning back to her desk, frowning at something she saw on her screen. "Hey, Don. Didn't you work with John McNeil a couple of years ago?"

"McNeil?" He turned to face Liz. "Yeah, special assignment a couple of years ago. I think he went to Austin when the assignment was finished. Why?"

"According to this, he's been reported missing."

"What? When?"

"Reported last night; last seen yesterday morning." Liz studied him closely, noticing the concern in his face. "Why, what's wrong?"

"I got a call early yesterday morning." He ran a hand slowly through his dark hair. "Another member of that same team went missing three days ago, this time in New York."

"New York?" Colby replied, startled, as he peered over Liz's shoulder. "This says that McNeil was on vacation in New York when he disappeared."

Don frowned deeply. "Either that's one bizarre coincidence or it's not a coincidence, and I don't need a mathematician to tell me which is more likely. But call Charlie anyway," he added with a smirk in spite of the serious situation. "See if he's up to taking a trip to New York. I know the timing could be better, but I'm going to need him."

"You're going to New York?" Liz repeated a little incredulously. "Just...drop everything and go?"

"If I have to. These people were under my command on that assignment. I was responsible for their safety. So if this is related, and it looks like it is, then I have a responsibility to help sort it out."

A quick series of looks was exchanged between the three, and it was Colby who finally spoke up. "So, when do we leave?"

That brought Don up short. "Uh, we?"

"Well, this sounds an awful lot like a case," he explained with a kind smile. "And if you're on a case, you're going to need the team, aren't you?"

Liz and Nikki were nodding in agreement with their coworker's statement, and Don felt an unexpected rush of emotion. Biting down on his inner lip, he spoke quickly to cover the uncharacteristic sentiment. "All right, then, but you'd better be ready to go, I'm not waiting on anyone. Colby, call Charlie, fill him in. Nikki, touch base with Operations, see how quick they can get five seats on a flight to NYC. Liz, pull everything they have on the case so far. I'm going to touch base with my contact."

A chorus of "on it" followed him to his desk.

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"We're next up in the rotation already?" Zach asked a little bemusedly. "Major Case must be busy; we just closed our last case last night."

"Well," Captain Hannah admitted, "it's not exactly your turn, but this case requires a top-level security clearance, and you're the only pair in this office who both have it." He laid the file on his desk. "An FBI agent has turned up missing."

"FBI agent?" Serena repeated. "Isn't that usually the Feds' jurisdiction?"

"Higher-ups made the call," the Captain replied, "and ours is not to question why. Although, that does bring me to one more point. Our missing agent hails from the Austin office, and they're sending up a team to work with us on this. Which is another reason it's good it's the two of you," he added. "The last thing anyone wants is a jurisdictional fight."

"Of course," Zach replied immediately. "When are they due in?"

"I talked to the lead agent just before they boarded their plane," Hannah replied. "Their departure was on time, so they should be landing at Kennedy in about an hour. Meanwhile," he handed the file to his detectives, "you two know what to do."

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"And we are here!" Patrick Jane announced excitedly. "Ah, lovely New York City."

"We're here to work," Lisbon reminded him as they stepped out of the SUV and onto the front steps of One Police Plaza. "So try to contain your enthusiasm, would you?"

"Can't help it," he replied, turning in a sweeping, exaggerated arc and pulling her into his arms so he could whisper the next part for her ears only. "In the last two months, it's like I'm seeing everything with new eyes. Everything's brighter and more incredible."

She couldn't help but smile at that. Ever since their wedding night, the night she had also told him she was pregnant, it was as though he'd discovered a whole new level of joy, as if the last vestiges of the horrors he'd lived through had finally evaporated, allowing him to fully live his life again after so many years. "I know," she whispered back. "But we have a case. So focus," she concluded as she stepped back from his embrace.

"Are you two coming?" Wylie called over his shoulder.

"Yeah, we're right behind you," Lisbon called back a bit irritably, wrapping her arm around her husband's waist. "Come on," she added to him. "You'll have time to take in the, uh, not-fresh air after we crack this case."

The couple followed Wylie and Cho into an elevator, riding up to the eleventh floor. A tall, sandy-haired man stood in the foyer when the elevator doors opened. "Agent Cho?"

The team leader stepped forward. "That's me."

"I'm Captain Joe Hannah, we spoke on the phone." He shook Cho's hand briskly, but there was a genuine kindness in the gesture all the same. "Right this way. My detectives are already working with the file." He stopped beside a pair of desks that faced each other. One chair was empty, though the desk was covered with papers; a brunette woman sat behind the other, looking up as her Captain approached with the Austin team in tow. "Where's your partner?"

"Right here." Several heads turned towards the source of the new voice; a tall, thin man approached the desks, carrying a cup of coffee in each hand. "Figured we'll be here awhile." He handed one of the cups to the woman.

"Agent Cho," Hannah continued, "this is Detective Zach Nichols and Detective Serena Stevens, they'll be working with you and your agents on this case."

"Agent Lisbon, Agent Wylie." Cho indicated each member of his team as he spoke their name. "And Patrick Jane, he's a consultant with my team." The lead agent's phone chose that moment to chirp in his pocket. "Excuse me." He stepped to the side, putting the device to his ear. "Cho."

"Hey," Wylie asked a little shyly, holding out his laptop bag. "Is there, um, is there somewhere I can set up?"

"Conference room one," the Captain offered. "It's already set up for this case."

"You might want to set up a few more tables." That was Cho, having rejoined the group. "We're not going to be the only agents working on this case. There's a team from LA on their way up here to join the investigation."

Bit of a whirlwind, I know, but I'm sure it's a whirlwind for the characters too! The next chapter will get more in-depth, this was really about setting up the different teams' connection to this case and how they all intersect. (Yeah, it's a big cast.)

I actually have no idea who would investigate a missing FBI agent, but Major Case didn't seem completely out of left field, and I wanted to incorporate the Major Case characters into the story as well.

This chapter references the Mentalist episode White Orchids.

Additional note: apologies to all Mentalist fans, I did in fact misspell Wylie's name throughout this chapter. It's been fixed.

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