Janet and Jane: The Case of the Framed Detectives: Part Five
"What?" Jonah asked. "It's from Jane?"
"It's from her. I know it is," I said with much eagerness. "Oh, this is great! I was worried about her."
"There's nothing saying that she's still okay."
"Yes, but the note might have something important in it."
Jonah said something else, but I started to read the note. I was super eager to hear something, anything from Jane. Finally, something went right today. After all the chaos that happened today alone, something that could move us in the right direction was refreshing.
"Janet," the note began. "I know you know about what's been happening. I've been framed for something I did not do. I know you, and your first instict would be to check it out. Don't. I'm afraid that this someone's masking as me for a reason. If so, they might be after you and Natia. Just in case, you two lay low. I'll figure it out. ~Jane"
Jane thought she could figure this out? On her own? That was impossible, even for her. She also wanted Natia and I to stay out of all of this. There was no way we could do that. One, there was way too many Neopets helping out. Two, this involved us, too. Natia and I were now blamed for robberies as well. I just had to disobey Jane this time.
"I didn't see anything that could possibly help us out," Jonah said.
"That's because there was nothing," I replied. "She was basically telling Natia and I to not investigate."
"Are you going to listen to her?"
I shook my head. "Maybe if this came a few days ago, but no. There's too many Neopets helping out to just tell them to stop."
Jonah convinced me to tell everyone about what Jane said. I didn't want to, but if I didn't, he would, and it would be better if I told them. Surprisingly, they stopped the yammering a while before I got back into the room. When I told them the news, they were happy to hear from Jane. What she said, though, they were less enthusiastic. The group of Neopets didn't want to stop helping. Aw, that was nice. Something was going right today.
A new day came with hope that we would be able to figure something out. Where Jane was, who was (or were - we didn't know if there was more than one Neopet) behind the robberies, the motive, anything. I was beginning to get desperate. I wasn't usually like this with cases. I did get frustrated, but not this quick. It was probably because I was blamed for one.
Nathan, Xavier, and I (with Jonah floating around somewhere) walked around Neopia Central's Bazaar, hoping to get to the Marketplace. Maybe we could ask some Neopets about what happened. That is, if any Neopets were there. I wouldn't be surprised if the area was deserted.
"Did you see the Neopian Times?" Nathan asked.
"No," I answered. "Does it have the story about me in it?"
The reporter nodded. He saw a newspaper stand and got one for me. I looked at the front page. The story about the faker posing as me made the front page. They even had my name. Ugh, now all of Neopia knew about how this poser pretended to be me and robbed a store. Jane would surely be surprised. Maybe she would come out of hiding to help me out. I sure hoped that was the case. I just wanted to see her again.
"I bet that Natia's story's coming out tomorrow," Xavier said.
"I'm with you, Xavier," I agreed. "The idea of revenge as the motive is starting to become the only option."
Nathan looked at me and asked, "Revenge? How could that be a possible motive?"
"Out of all the Neopets I'm working with, I thought you'd get why revenge is a motive." I looked at the speckled Poogle. "Jane, Natia, and I haven't exactly made friends with all of these cases. Who knows? Maybe someone finally saw the opportunity and took it."
The three of us (or four of us - I had no idea if Jonah was still following us or not) walked into the Marketplace. A "Closed" sign was on almost every door of the shops. Either fake Natia took a lot of items or Neopets were scared of being robbed. Either way, I doubted that we would find someone who was willing to talk to us.
We came across a shop that had an "Open" sign. Ah, someone was in there. I opened the door and walked in. Nathan and Xavier followed me in. The bell over the door tinked as the door opened and closed.
The store was pretty bare. Shelves only had a few things on it. There was a mess all over the floor - as if something went on in here with no regard of tidyness. There was no store owner at the counter. I assumed that he was somewhere else in the store. The owner wouldn't just leave the store unattended and unlocked (especially with... what happened yesterday).
"I'll be with you in just a minute," a voice said from another room.
The voice was familiar. It was Mason. I didn't want to walk into his store. If I asked him some of the questions I had prepared, then he would get suspicious and ask some questions of his own. He was already wondering what I was up to.
"Guys, I think we should go," I said softly, hoping the red Kyrii didn't hear me.
"Why?" Nathan asked.
"Well, remember that Neopet who made it into J2 yesterday?"
A door opened and a red Kyrii came through it. He stared at us like we commited the crimes. He mostly stared at me. This unsettled me. Why was he staring at me?
"Talia. I didn't expect you here," he said.
"Well, neither did I," I said nervously.
"What are you doing here? Are you here to tell me what was going on?"
Nathan and Xavier looked at me with concern. I take a step away from the two Neopets on opposite sides of me. I was not in the mood for explaining anything. Hopefully, I could sneak my way out of answering anything.
"Talia," Xavier said. He looked at me accusingly. "Is he the one you were talking about?"
"Yes, he was," I answered. "He's the one that followed me to..." I cleared my throat. "You-know-where."
Mason stepped closer to us. He said, "Wait, do you two know something, too? If so, I expect you two to give answers, too."
Yeah, this was not good. I shoved my hands into my pockets. My coin was still in there. I held onto it. Maybe I should tell him what was going on. At least some of what was going on.
"Ah, you know the Neopets who committed the robberies over the last few days?" I asked.
"Yes. Jane, Janet, and Natia. Why?"
Xavier and Nathan had no idea what I was doing. I didn't tell them about this before we came here. To be honest, I literally just decided to do this. Was this a good idea? I had no idea. Still, it would be pretty hard to investigate with Mason breathing down my neck and begging to know what was going on.
"You see, Janet, Jane, and Natia are friends of ours," I said. "We know that they would never do anything like this. My friends and I are trying to prove them innocent."
"Is that so?" Mason asked. I hastily nodded. "Are you sure about that, because I remember seeing Natia-"
"I know they wouldn't, Mason. Trust me. You do trust me, right?"
The Kyrii quickly nodded. "Of course I do." He smiled at me. "Hey, can I help out?"
I did not plan for what to say in case Mason wanted to help out. In hind sight, that would have been a good idea. Nobody wanted anyone else to help out (we had more than enough at the moment. Don't even get me started on the possibility with Shadow). How should I tell him no?
"I'm sorry, but we don't want to get you involved in case something bad happens," Nathan said. Thank goodness he did. "We can handle it on our own."
"Oh, don't be silly. I don't mind," Mason argued. "I'll go get my bag."
Before any of us could try to talk him out of it, he ran to a different part of the store. I clearly did not think that through. Next time, I should think up a back-up plan.
"Why on Neopia would you tell him that, Janet?" Xavier asked.
"Shhh," I hissed. "He might still be able to hear us."
"Alright, Talia," Nathan replied. "You do know that it wasn't the best move telling him what we were doing, right?"
"Of course I know, but what was I supposed to do?" I asked. I walked around the room. "He's been suspicious of me ever since he saw you-know-where. It's not like I wanted to tell him."
Jonah appeared out of the air. Turned out he was watching us while we were walking around. The ghost said, "Well, you could have said that you couldn't tell him."
I sighed, "I did already. Yesterday. That didn't work at all." I face the three Neopets. "Is it okay if you three wait outside while I try to talk Mason out of this? It'll be less confusing with you guys out of here."
Jonah, Nathan, and Xavier nodded. The three left the store. When they were goine, I just started to walk around the store, waiting for Mason to come back. I highly doubted that I would be able to talk him out of helping, but it was still worth a shot.
After a minute or two, Mason came out of the door he left through. He had a backpack on his back. It appeared that he was eating something. There was an apple core in his hand, so I suppose he was eating an apple.
"I'm ready to go," Mason said as he threw the apple core into a trash can.
"Listen, Mason," I began. "You really shouldn't help us out. We already have a bunch of Neopets helping out."
"There's you and those two Neopets you came in with. How many more are there?"
I really needed to stop setting myself up for follow up questions. Not wanting to say the real answer, I said, "Too many. You wouldn't want to know."
"Oh, on the contrary, Talia. I feel like I can help you out. Really."
"Mason, for the last time, you shouldn't help us out. We're good the way we are. If you just jumped in-"
"It'll be fine," Mason interrupted. Well that was rude of him (and I know rude). "I won't cause any sort of trouble."
Okay, it looked like I couldn't talk him out of his decision. Why did I have to tell him about the investigation? This wasn't good. Next time I'm about to tell someone something classified, please stop me.
"Alright, fine, you can help," I said in defeat. "The others aren't going to like it, though."
"Why would they not like more help?" Mason asked.
"Nevermind that." I walked to the door. "Now come on, Mason. We have a long day ahead of us."
Mason and I walked to the door to leave. Once I opened the door, Xavier and Nathan fell onto the floor. Were they eavesdropping? That was my thing! I was sure Jonah was floating around somewhere, so that would be why he wasn't with them.
"Come on, guys," I said. "Was eavesdropping really necessary?"
"We just wanted to know what you two were talking about," Nathan explained.
"And, 'Talia, what were you talking about?' wouldn't work?"
Xavier and Nathan didn't respond after that. They either couldn't think of a response or they didn't want to talk anymore. Either way, that meant I had to keep talking.
"Anyway, I hope you three don't mind, but Mason is going to help us out," I said. "Now I know everyone doesn't want that, but we're just going to have to let him, alright?"
"You said-" Nathan began.
"I know what I said. It's just that..." I sighed heavily. "It's just that we could use the help. You know?"
"Uhmm... I guess you're right. Are you sure about this?" Jonah asked.
When Mason wasn't looking, I quickly shook my head. "I'm sure," I lied. "Hey, we should really get going. I want to meet Shadow before we do anything else today."
I walked away before the conversation could go any further. Nobody said anything else. They just followed me out of the desolate market. During this little walk, I wondered how Mason could help, if at all. I was working with too many Neopets. Please tell me that I would figure this thing out before I go insane.
Mason, Xavier, Nathan, Jonah, and I went to the forest that J2 was located. It was eerily silent during this little walk. I wanted to hear something, but I was not in the mood for any sort of conversation.
Then I heard a familiar rustle coming from the bushes.
"Shadow, there's no need to hide," I said.
The rustling stopped. A stealthy Blumaroo crawled out of a bush and walked up to me. He outstretched his hand for me to shake. I shook his hand professionally.
"Nice to see you again," I said.
"Nice to see you, too," Shadow replied. "Hey, Xavier, you look like you're going to attack me."
I looked at Xavier. He had a look on his face of that of someone who saw someone who has a grudge with another (I, myself, have made that face once or twice in my career). The Vandagyre had a stance like he was about to pounce. His hands were glowing that Jhudora green again. Mason was freaked out because of this.
"Xavier, don't attack. I know you have a bad history, but just suck it up. We need to work with him," I said, then I muttered, "We all need to work with Neopets that we don't exactly get along with."
"What on Neopia was that?!" Mason asked.
"That is a long story," I answered in a slightly annoyed, slightly demanding voice. "You wanted to be a part of this, you put up with all of this. Got it, Mason?" The Kyrii didn't answer. He just shook his head in a worried way. I was always good at intimidation. I turn back to Shadow and said, "So Shadow, did you happen to come across anything since yesterday?"
"I have. I'll discuss it when we meet up with everyone else," the Blumaroo replied.
"Hold on, there are more of you?" Mason asked.
Mason asked a whole bunch of questions that I didn't feel like answering. Nathan and Xavier took that job. Jonah disappeared a while ago. The five of us walked back to base with Mason asking away when Shadow struck up a conversation with me.
"Thanks for trusting me," he said quietly. I assumed he didn't want the others to join in.
"Yeah yeah, don't get used to it, Bouncy," I snapped. "What you did is unforgivable. Don't expect me to be this nice to you next time."
"Then why are you this next now?"
"Because I am desperate. Jane, Natia, two of my best friends, and I are wanted for crimes that we did not do." I paused for a second. I never said Natia was one of my best friends. It was true, but I never told anyone that. "I'm willing to set aside differences for now to get this figured out."
"Speaking of Jane..." Shadow purposely trailed off. "I have another note for you."
I instantly went from annoyed to cheerful. "Another note? Why didn't you tell me that earlier?"
From under Shadow's dark scarf over his face, I saw him smile. "Jane told me it was only for you."
My eyes widened to the size of saucers. I asked in a hopeful yet doubtful voice, "You talked to her?"
"As a matter of fact, I did." He brushed his forehead with the back of his hand. "I have no idea how she was able to find me. You must be better than I thought."
Shadow slyly put his hands into his pockets. After a few seconds, he pulled them out. A folded up piece of paper was in one of his hands. He gave it too me while nobody was looking. I held the note in my hands for a few seconds. Why couldn't Jane just be here? It would make things so much easier.
"She said to pay attention to it before it vanishes," Shadow said.
"What on Neopia does that mean?" I asked.
"I was hoping you knew."
"Do you know where Jane is?" I looked at the stealthy Neopet with some hope in my eyes. "I really need to talk to her."
He shook his head. I had the feeling he didn't know even before I asked the question. Still, I figured I would give it a shot. You never really knew what the other Neopet would say when you ask them a question. Something serious, something silly, something pointless, I heard a lot of things from my job.
I opened up the note. The cursive was sloppy and I could barely read it. Jane must have been in a hurry to write this. Why would she be in a hurry?
"Janet," the note started. "I heard about what happened. You were framed for a crime as well. This only confirmed my fear that this was not just a coincidense. Someone is after us. I wanted to rule that out, but I'm afraid that I can't do that.
Don't show this to anyone. I don't know who we can trust anymore. Shadow's going to be helping me out when he's not with you. He can't tell you where I'm hiding. He doesn't know, himself. I fear that someone might get a hold of that information and try to find me. I fear for our lives, Janet. Please make sure both you and Natia are safe. Alize and I will try to figure out how to catch whoever's after us. ~Jane"
"She really thinks that she can figure this out on her own?" I muttered to myself. "Why does she insist on that?"
"She mentioned something about safety," Shadow said. "If someone caught her, they wouldn't catch you."
"Yes, but Jane knows that this is too big of a job for her."
The conversation would have gone on longer, but we reached the base. After I got us through the security system (security has gone up since all of this began), I led the five Neopets that were under my watch to the interrogation room. I shoved my hands into my pockets and felt the note in there, along with my dented coin. I held onto my dented coin. Maybe we could figure this out.
"So Jane stole from a bank, Janet stole from the coin shop, and Natia stole from the Marketplace, correct?" Mason asked.
"Other than that they didn't steal from there, yes," Jonah asked, irritated. How many questions did Mason ask?
"How do you know for sure?"
I finally caught what Mason was saying. I needed to ask him a few questions, but I had to do it in private. Less of a chance of... issues coming up.
"Hey guys," I began. "Do you mind showing Shadow where to go on your own? I want to ask Mason some questions about the robbery that happened yesterday."
"Are you sure about that?" Jonah asked. I could tell he was concerned. "I can go with you if you want."
"Nah. I got this, ghostie. Just go with the others."
Jonah floated off with the others, who had already walked away. I grabbed Mason by the wrist and led him into another hallway. As soon as he was with my pace, I let the Kyrii go. A smile was plastered onto my face. I couldn't help but be happy now.
"What do you want to ask me?" Mason asked.
"Wait until we get to where we're going," I answered.
He groaned. "Why? Why does it need to be in private?"
I didn't answer him. We finally arrived at the room I wanted to go to. I walked inside. Without even asking, Mason followed me in. Once we were both safely in, I shut and locked the door.
"Why did you lock the door?" Mason asked.
"It's just to make sure that nobody comes in. Usually, asking questions is pretty private," I replied.
"Oh. So what did you want to ask me?"
At that moment, I couldn't help but grin. I stepped forward and said, "Why did you commit the robberies?"
To be continued…