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Roses Are Red
Fifth and final story in the Crimson & Gold series (LJ | AO3)
By Clarity Enmuse
Fandom: The Mentalist
Pairings: Cho/Jane, (Rigsby/Van Pelt)
Usual disclaimers apply. Written by a fan, for other fans.
Rating: Mature
Warnings: torture (mostly psychological) & violence. *To be extra safe, highlight
death of canon character (non-team), unwanted fondling *
Words:
Summary: A few months after the events of "Red Light," Red John makes his presence known as Jane makes an important decision regarding his relationship with Cho. Anniversaries, reunions, kidnapping, and intrigue.

Recent Edit: Jan. 19, 2014

FOUR

It would take two days for the DNA results to come in. In the meantime, the aged photograph was submitted to Lisbon, who shared it with Hightower before meeting with the team to show them the results.

"That's..." Van Pelt's jaw dropped.

Cho wasn't sure what to feel about the computer generated approximation of Kristina Frye. Red John was the sender, no doubt about it now.

Cho glanced at Jane, who stared off into the distance with a frown on his face.

"Hightower's approved focus on this," Lisbon said.

Looking unusually serious, Rigsby commented, "This is just the start. Isn't it?"

Van Pelt shivered, Cho didn't blame her. He felt chilled himself.

"Do... do you think Kristina's alive?" Van Pelt asked quietly.

Cho exchanged a wary look with Lisbon. "Anything's possible," he said.

"What's the point?" When Rigsby received skeptical looks in response to the question, he clarified, "I mean, what does he want?"

"Pretty sure we'll find out soon enough," Cho said. He glanced out of the corner of his eyes at Jane, starting to worry about the blond's silence.

Lisbon scrubbed a hand over her face and sighed. "Look, there's not a whole lot more we can do today. Go home and get some rest."

Rigsby and Van Pelt nodded. Cho stood up and headed to his desk to wrap up for the day. He heard the other chairs push out from the conference table.

Lisbon started back to her office but paused near Van Pelt's desk and turned around. Her expression lined with worry, she said, "And be careful. Red John's shown he'll take captives and he's already threatened... us." She looked pointedly at Cho.

He didn't need her to remind him. He had the words of Red John's letter etched into his mind and the words were already threatening to overwhelm him. The note's suggestion of arranging a meeting with Kristina, did Red John mean releasing her (alive or dead) to them? Or taking Cho?

It took him a couple minutes to realize that the entire team was staring at him. He was tempted to mutter "I'm not the only target," but he acknowledged that he did seem the most likely.

Eventually he said, "Got it, Boss."

Rigsby's attention changed to Van Pelt and Cho recognized the protective expression. Looked like those two would be watching each other. Cho would be with Jane... He suddenly felt an uneasy sense of foreboding. Cho may be the obvious target from their group, but Lisbon was the one who would be on her own.

Jane apparently had come to the same conclusion. He crossed the bullpen and leaned in close to mutter something in Lisbon's hearing only. She scowled at whatever it was and turned towards her office. Jane merely followed after, apparently unperturbed by the negative reaction.

---


Cho startled as his phone went off. It buzzed across the surface of his desk until he picked it up and slid aside the top. He noticed from the corner of his eye that Jane had turned to glance his way. An unknown sender had sent a string of numbers:

38 332018 121 28814

Cho tried to call up further information on the sender but could only get a website that did not look too promising. AnonAdmirers.net? Really?

He turned to his computer and opened the website in a browser. Rigsby smothered a chuckle, watching over Cho's shoulder.

"Shut up," Cho muttered, resisting the childish urge to roll his eyes.

Jane apparently decided the goings-on were of too much interest to pass up. He stood and moved around Cho's desk to lean over his shoulder. "What are you doing?" he asked, a hint of amusement in his voice.

Cho clicked on the "about us" section of the website and skimmed the few paragraphs as he replied distractedly, "Phone, text message."

Jane picked up the phone. Cho focused on the writing on-screen. Apparently AnonAdmirers.net was a way for so-termed "secret admirers" to admit their love and devotion anonymously. Various stages could be followed depending on what the customer wanted. Cho clicked on services and found the first link for sending texts or emails from an Anonymous Admirers account that would keep the client's identity secret.

"Something up?" Rigsby asked, sounding serious.

Cho nodded but turned towards Van Pelt. "Can we get a request in for a website to find customer information?"

"What's going on?"

Jane got up to bring Van Pelt the phone. "Red John just used an anonymous site to send Cho a text."

Van Pelt examined the numbers with a puzzled frown. "The website?"

"AnonAdmirers dot net," Cho answered.

"Yeah... let me get started on that. Client has to pay for services?" She was already typing in the address on her own computer.

Rigsby stood up to get a look at the phone. "Just some numbers?"

"Yeah," Cho sighed as he leaned back in his chair. "Too long for a phone number or social security."

"Package tracking number?" Rigsby offered, looking doubtful.

Van Pelt looked again at the cell's screen as she reached for her phone. She paused, a look of understanding brightening her features. "Oh! Coordinates, right? That works?"

Jane offered her a small smile. "Yes. "

The redhead smiled at the implied praise and turned back to her computer, abandoning the phone call. "Then let's see where it puts us..."

Cho stood and came to join the others.

"Degrees, minutes, seconds," Jane reminded. "Try North and West." After a few minutes of adjusting the numbers, Van Pelt's searched yielded a location of a building in an older section of downtown.

"Get Lisbon," Cho told Jane.

---


They gathered with the CBI special tactics team before leaving headquarters. An ambulance would be waiting for them near the location. A hostage negotiator was on standby.

Jane refused to stay behind, but between Cho's, Lisbon's, and Hightower's strict glowers and demands, he had agreed to stay in the car behind safety lines until Lisbon gave the all clear and explicitly stated he could join the scene. The rest of the team would go in with ready gear. They were taking no chances, everyone was instructed to follow rules to the letter and be clear in any communications.

They had figured out that their target was a parking structure undergoing remodels. The workers were off for the weekend and there had been no problems previously with break-ins so security had been lax with occasional patrols in the area.

Floor by floor the four ramp levels were cleared by the special tactics team as they led the way up. Cho stuck close to Lisbon, both at the ready with guns drawn and vests on. They remained silent, refraining from spoken directions and relying on gestured motions to get messages across. As they exited the stairwell onto the roof at one corner, it became clear they had found their mark.

"No one else here!" the team leader called as he sent his team to spread out along the edges of the structure to ensure there was no one else present.

Lisbon and Cho ran across the lot towards the woman laying at the center. Lisbon had holstered her gun by the time they reached the body. Kristina Frye lay on her side, expression lax. Cho didn't breathe, wondering what the results would be as Lisbon bent to take the woman's pulse.

"She's alive!" Lisbon called out. "Need the ambulance!"

Cho used the walkie-talkie and they waited for the ambulance to roll up to the roof level. In the meantime the stairwell door burst open and Jane ran towards them, face pale . He beat the ambulance there by only a few seconds and Cho intercepted him, catching Jane's arm to hold him back.

Lisbon glanced up at them and reassured, "She seems to be breathing pretty regularly. I'm guessing drugged." She looked down again at the woman dressed in plain clothes, less stylish than her usual wear but nothing that looked in poor condition . In fact, Cho wasn't sure he would say that she looked less healthy than she had the last time they'd seen her. Results of the hair analysis had placed her within the average range of nutrition. She may not have experienced the level of comfort as was her norm, but it didn't seem that she'd suffered malnutrition.

Cho felt the uneasiness of the last few days knot in his stomach. He watched the EMTs bring over the gurney and gently lift Kristina onto it and bring her to the back of the ambulance. He glanced at Jane and studied the mixed expression of anxiety and relief and something else difficult to define. Under Cho's hand, Jane's muscles felt tense, ready to spring into action.

The knot of apprehension grew . Cho dropped his gaze and slowly withdrew his hand. He didn't know what to do but he would step back and let Lisbon lead the way. Let her figure out how to handle the situation.

"The crime scene unit will take this," Lisbon said. She beckoned Van Pelt and Rigsby closer. "Cho, you and Van Pelt head to the hospital and find out Kristina's status. The rest of us are heading back to report to Hightower and pick up on the rest of our case."

Jane looked like he would protest, but Lisbon's sharp glare made it obvious she wasn't going to accept any arguments.

"Yes, Boss," they agreed.

---


Kristina would not be available for questioning until the next day. Cho and Van Pelt returned to the office to explain the full report once the CBI had established a couple of guards at the hospital for Kristina's protection. They didn't know the situation of her release or if Red John had further interest in her so they wanted to keep a close watch.

Jane restlessly paged through the newspaper as he perched on the edge of the couch cushion. Cho could read the frustration from the hallway. Van Pelt also took a look at him and bit her lip. She glanced briefly at Cho, probably to gauge his reaction, but made no comment.

Rigsby and Lisbon sat at the conference table, reviewing the files from the evidence already gathered. Rigsby was updating further with the payment report from AnonAdmirers.net. The credit card that had been used belonged to Kristina. The card company had not yet gotten around to informing the CBI about the transaction that should have been tagged.

"How soon do we go in?" Jane asked standing up as he folded the newspaper. He dropped it onto the couch and he crossed the bullpen to join the rest of the team.

Van Pelt took a seat as she replied, "Visiting hours open at nine, we can head in then."

"What did the doctors say?" Lisbon asked, getting down to business.

Cho sat next to Van Pelt and Jane took the chair opposite, next to Lisbon.

"She'd been drugged with sodium thiopental to keep her unconscious and probably malleable before that. The nurses report no notice of serious injuries, only a couple bruises and scrapes that would be from regular daily activity. The more in-depth test results will be back later this evening so they'll have the information for us tomorrow," Van Pelt explained.

Lisbon nodded. "Was she conscious when you left?"

Cho shook his head. "The doctor thinks it might take a few more hours. The dosage was pretty high, bordering on dangerous. She'll be pretty out of it even when she does wake up."

"All the more reason to wait until tomorrow to see her," Lisbon said, her tone indicating that the comment was directed at Jane.

"So what are we doing with the rest of this?" Van Pelt asked motioning to the files spread out on the table. "There didn't seem to be anything that turned up to lead us to Red John."

Jane said, "Kristina's the best chance. She has an eye for detail, it's in the job requirement. Depending on how she was treated, she should have information to share that could lead us to him." Cho and Lisbon exchanged a wary look at that, both heard the undercurrent of tension.

"So..."

Lisbon started reorganizing her files and shut them away in folders. "We're done for the day. Tomorrow I want everyone here bright and early. We'll see what comes in from CSU. If we have something to work with, I want Rigsby and Van Pelt to sort out from here. Jane, you'll be with Cho and I at the hospital to see Kristina."

The blond nodded tightly, eyes alight with an emotion Cho wasn't sure he wanted to identify. The knot of uneasiness hadn't lessened.

As they stood up to get ready to leave, Cho felt Jane following close on his heels. When Cho glanced over his shoulder while shutting down his computer, he was confused by Jane's expression. Jane had the look that there was a serious conversation they needed to have and Cho wasn't going to like it.

A few feet away, Lisbon stood eyeing them and arched an eyebrow in silent question at Cho. He made a quick hand gesture to wave her off; this was something private, he could tell. That didn't mean that Lisbon wouldn't need to know, but it would be best handled between just Jane and Cho for now.

They didn't talk until they were on the way home in Cho's SUV. Jane affected a relaxed slouch in the passenger seat as he stared out the window with a casual half-lidded gaze.

"About tomorrow, I have something I need to do in the afternoon."

Cho chanced a look over at the blond but, as was common, Jane managed to keep hidden any clue of what he might be thinking.

"Okay. Shouldn't you be telling Lisbon this?"

Jane said, "It'll take me awhile. I might not be by tomorrow night."

That surprised Cho. He waited for a red light before he turned to look more fully at his lover. Jane seemed to studiously avoid Cho's gaze while still retaining his calm appearance.

"What are you doing?" Cho asked cautiously, not convinced he would get a response.

Jane was silent for long moments before giving a jerky shrug. His voice was a little tight when he said, "A private matter I need to take attend to."

Oh. Cho didn't say it aloud, knew that he needed to keep quiet or else sound petty or angry or worried. He was on-edge already with Kristina's return and the mystery that lay within her time of absence; he didn't appreciate having Jane say he needed to do something secretive at the same time.

---
Onto Part 5
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