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Blood Beat
Second story in the Crimson & Gold series (LJ | AO3)
By Clarity (enmuse)
Fandom: The Mentalist (Pairing: Cho/Jane)
Usual disclaimers apply, this is by a fan to share with other fans.
Rating: Teen
Words: ~2,750
Summary: Spoilers through S2 finale only. Cho recalls when his relationship with Jane was redefined and faces a new upheaval in recent events. Sequel to Harvest
Recent Edit: Jan. 18, 2014

-----

It wasn't until Cho was on the phone canceling his date with Elise that he acknowledged something was changing. Elise seemed to notice, too, if her "Okay, but we should talk soon, Kim," was any indication. With that simple statement, the call ended and Cho set aside the phone. He stared at it for a while, frozen in place while he contemplated why it felt natural to cancel on his girlfriend to spend time with a friend-slash-sometimes-sex-partner. Elise had asked Cho once why he didn't call Patrick Jane his lover. Cho answered that there were no commitments, so the arrangement qualified as little more than the clichéd "friends-with-benefits." She let it go at that.

The hook-ups had always been casual. Cho had been surprised when he and Jane ended up together more than once. Even so, their encounters were generally brief and rarely involved Jane spending the night. They didn't really talk about it; Jane could read into what Cho didn't say, and Cho did a reasonable job at reading Jane. Their arrangement and Cho's relationship with Elise usually didn't cross (though both knew of the other) — until now.

Cho took a moment to review the past few days and concluded that it was the fourth night in a row Jane had come over. At the moment Jane was in the shower. Cho paused at the thought, realizing that this was the first time Jane wouldn't be leaving immediately after. Although, Cho frowned, it wasn't as if he'd seen Jane carry in a bag.

With one last look at the phone, Cho turned to the refrigerator to figure out what they could have for dinner. It felt strange to organize a meal for two. He tended toward eating out or sharing takeout with other people; he usually cooked only for himself.


"I knew there was a reason you had a large kitchen." Cho didn't look up from the pan to acknowledge Jane's appearance. After a couple of minutes listening to the vegetables sizzle in the pan, Jane added, "It smells good."

Cho had an odd moment of embarrassed pleasure at the comment. He glanced Jane's way to see if the blond had noticed but ended up distracted by Jane's choice of clothing.

"Those are mine," Cho stated incredulously. Jane tilted his head and smiled serenely. "That," Cho pointed with the spatula for emphasis, "is my shirt and those are my pants."

Jane stuck his hands in the sweatpants pockets as he shrugged. "But not your underwear."

"Glad to know you draw the line somewhere."

A sharp sizzle drew Cho's attention back to dinner. He scowled down at the pan as he processed the situation. It wasn't until he was adding meat to the stir-fry that he thought to clarify Jane's meaning. "Are you even wearing underwear?"

He looked up in time to see Jane's smile widen to a full-out grin. "Wait and see."

Cho fought to hide his amusement even though he knew Jane would see through his attempt. "You don't go commando wearing someone else's pants."

"I don't think there's a rule like that. Or if there is, I don't see why it need apply to lounge wear," Jane replied.

"Why are you wearing my clothes?" Cho asked. A minute or so more and dinner would be ready.

"It's a bit chilly to walk around in a towel."

As he turned off the burner, Cho debated how to reply. The thought of Jane walking around the apartment wearing only a towel proved distracting.

"Is dinner ready?" Jane stood just behind Cho's shoulder, his breath brushing past Cho's ear.

Having barely managed to keep himself from jumping in surprise, Cho's voice was a little strained when he answered, "Yes."

"Great! I'm starved!"

---

In a few weeks, after his official break-up with Elise, Cho recalled only the highlights of the night, one of which was a moment when Jane's fingers rested on Cho's hips. The touch was brief, lasting barely long enough for Cho to feel the contact, but there was a new sense of intimacy that remained at the forefront of his thoughts.

In answer to Jane's silent invitation to develop their relationship, Cho opened his home. Simple rearranging cleared free space in his closet and his kettle gained its own cupboard shelf with tins of Jane's tea. There was no verbal acknowledgment of the changes by either of them for weeks. Eventually Cho got fed up with Jane's refusal to roll up the toothpaste and bought a second tube. Jane burst out laughing when Cho snatched the old tube from his hand and slapped the new one into Jane's palm.

---

Kristina Frye was bad news. When Cho had first met her, he hadn't felt strongly one way or another. He acknowledged that she was one of several suspects in the murder investigation. He followed Lisbon's lead of taking Jane's advice about the woman with a grain of salt. It was clear the psychic (real or not) triggered some issues from Jane's past. After the case, however, Cho had been wholly unimpressed by Van Pelt's whispered information of having seen Kristina leave Jane crying alone in one of the interview rooms. Cho could only guess at what the woman had said, but the event set off clear warning bells.

Hightower's acceptance of Kristina's aid in the Hector Brava case irritated Cho probably more than it did Jane. At least the CBI consultant had some leeway in terms of acceptable behavior and he could needle the so-called psychic. Lisbon did her best to keep Jane in check and make sure the team accepted the inclusion of an outsider. The case came out all right, even though Cho would have felt better had Kristina not been involved.

Then a blood-soaked smiling face appeared on a young woman's bedroom wall.

Cho watched as Jane lifted the sheet covering the corpse. Cho knew the blond well enough to have a sense of the emotions playing behind the blank expression. It didn't much matter that Jane determined the murder a copycat, the memories had already been stirred. The presence of Red John had always lingered in the background, but now Cho could practically feel it lurking at Jane's side. Cho knew he would finally have to face the matter of Red John and how it related to his relationship with Jane.

What he hadn't counted on was Kristina's willful stupidity. Nor had he been prepared for Jane's reaction. Shock, anger, betrayal, horror — none of it masked.

--- --- ---

Lisbon drove, which meant Cho was able to unbuckle his seatbelt and open the door before the SUV even stopped moving. In the distance he could hear sirens, not that he or Lisbon were about to wait for backup on this.

He took his place at one side of the abandoned hotel entrance with his gun raised and one hand ready to open the door. As soon as Lisbon settled opposite him with gun ready, he turned the knob and pressed in.

"CBI!" Lisbon called, entering first.

Cho focused on clearing the scene. Flood lamps were set up to pool the light at the center of the room. Nothing moved. Bodies down. Don't think about it, not yet.

"Clear!" he snapped. He glanced over at Lisbon. She nodded, face pale as she crossed the room to a pair of still bodies covered in shadow. Cho wasted no time heading straight to Jane, who was thoroughly bound to an ornate chair.

A wet-sounding gasp made Cho falter and he glanced down to see Wesley's mouth open as he sucked in air. Fuck. Cho knelt to check the kid's injuries. "Wesley, can you hear me?" The eyes flicked in his direction but Cho had the sense that he wasn't really seen. Not going to make it. His knee grew wet from touching the edge of the pool of blood surrounding the kid's body.

It took all his self-control to calmly say, "Wesley, just relax." He rested one hand on the kid's shoulder and watched as Wesley's eyelids fell closed. The disturbing wet breathing finally stopped and Cho swallowed tightly. When he glanced back at Jane he found Lisbon leaning over the blond, trying to catch his attention.

Cho stood up and pulled out his pocketknife. He stood to Lisbon's side, preparing to cut through the tight bonds. Jane's gaze caught on the blade and he jerked away as best he could. Shit.

"Jane," Lisbon said, voice firm. Jane blinked and although the shell-shocked expression hadn't vanished, Cho observed a slight relaxation in his body. "Jane, are you okay?"

"I'm going to cut you free," Cho said quietly, knowing the warning would be appreciated. Jane glanced briefly at Lisbon but his attention returned to the knife.

"He was here." Cho paused to exchange a look with Lisbon. "Red John. Was here."

Lisbon straightened up, hand on her gun as she looked around. Cho rested his hand over Jane's and squeezed briefly. "But he's gone?"

Jane stared at him, exhaustion washing away much of the other emotions. "Yeah."

Cho nodded and went back to cutting Jane free. The sirens had stopped outside the old hotel and the flashing lights filtered through the newspaper-covered windows.

"Cho." He glanced up at Lisbon. She held out her hand for the knife and he hesitated only a moment before handing it over. "Help coordinate, make sure they know we need full cooperation." He nodded, reluctantly moving to obey the order. He looked over his shoulder before he went outside. Jane had leaned his head back but continued to carefully watch Lisbon's movements.

"He was here."

The reporter, Dylan, Ruth, and Wesley. Four more bodies to Red John's trail.

---

When they finally returned to the office, Cho watched silently as Jane paced back and forth. He wasn't sure what he could do to help while they were still in the presence of their colleagues.

Coward he called himself. He should be doing something, try anything to help, and instead he was concerning himself with privacy and— Then again, privacy was key. Jane had always maintained a wall between himself and what the world saw. Given that the wall now protected their relationship, Cho knew he needed to respect that. Besides, if they were to open themselves to exposure, they would face more than a fair share of trouble from Hightower. Consultant or no, Hightower most certainly would not be condoning a relationship between teammates.

So Cho sat by, tense and unable to fully concentrate. He had to keep retyping the lines for his report since his thoughts continually got tangled with what he needed to express for official purposes. He stared at the lines, waiting for the words to make sense. He had to explain the events of his time during protection detail with Kristina. He had to report his visit with Rigsby to Wesley's apartment — detail the shrine and the conclusions drawn. He had to tell about realizing Jane had disappeared without communication. Hours passed as the team struggled to make the connections that Jane apparently had. Cho had to write, with detached clarity, how he and Lisbon had struck out on their own and gone in to clear a scene without backup; how their rescue had turned into an ordeal that involved coroners for three dead kids. Murderers and fools, but they had been slaughtered rather than brought to justice.

And Jane's reactions... how was he supposed to write about that? Cho stared blankly at the computer screen, lost in thought as he recalled the shell-shocked expression on Jane's face.

Jane's raised voice claimed his attention and Cho turned to see Lisbon standing in front of the blond. Lisbon's expression was tight with worry and Cho watched her hands flex in aborted attempts to reach out to Jane. The blond's movements were jerky. He looked far from his usual cool calm and suave demeanor. Cho swallowed hard, struggling against the urge to stand up and take his lover in his arms. Jane wasn't likely to accept the comfort even in private, no matter how willing Cho was to give it. And, God, Cho was pretty convinced he needed the support as well. He needed the assurance that Jane was whole and uninjured, if emotionally strained. He wanted Jane wrapped around him, warm and relaxed and accepting.

He listened to Jane's impassioned speech and barely repressed fear. Van Pelt watched with wide eyes and a look of horror. She was the most upset by Jane's emotional break. As empathetic as she usually was, she bought into Jane's surface facade of the always calm, charming, and emotionally unattached man. Jane's emotions ran deeper than she ever seemed to realize. When something reminded her that there was more to the man, it shattered her understanding of the distance that she placed between them because of their differences in beliefs.

Rigsby was not immune from surprise at the situation, but the man had clearly matured in the past year; in part due to his relationship to Van Pelt, Cho knew. Rigsby was probably misreading the situation a bit, he had seemed willing to believe that there was something more to the connection between Jane and Kristina. That had bothered Cho in the past few weeks, but at this point it was worthless to worry over that, he didn't have the capacity to add to his already overburdened emotions.

Lisbon spoke and Jane looked back at her, expression lined with exhaustion as he countered, "Kristina didn't care."

Cho finally found his voice as he replied, "We know, and we tried to stop her. It wasn't your fault."

Jane's eyes closed and he muttered, "I know." He said the words but didn't mean them. Cho looked away, clenching his hands into fists as he silently raged at Kristina Frye and all the damage the bitch had done. Jane was probably right in his prediction of how they would find her: dead or completely under the sway of a madman. If she wasn't already, he thought sourly.

He managed to calm down enough to turn back to catch the last exchange between Lisbon and Jane. The blond turned down her offer of spending the night on her couch. Although Jane didn't look at Cho, Lisbon did and she offered a small nod of approval though her eyes held concern.

Cho watched Jane exit the bullpen and although he wanted to follow immediately, he made himself go slowly through the motions of packing up and shutting down the computer. He wasn't ready to finalize the report and he wasn't willing to waste the night staring at a blinking cursor. He needed to go home, he needed time with Jane.

Rigsby stopped him on his way out. The big man wore an expression of childlike concern though the look in his eyes spoke of an experienced agent. "Take care, huh?" Cho nodded shortly.

He took the stairs, too impatient to wait for an elevator. He had too much emotion pent up to spend any more time stationary, it would be difficult enough to sit still on the drive home. Cho hurried across the lobby and dug out his keys, impatient to get out of the office. Outside in the parking lot he stumbled to a halt as he caught sight of Jane leaning against the car and staring up at the red moon. Between the tinted moonlight and yellow streetlights, he was cast in an eerie glow that clenched at Cho's heart.

He remembered Wesley's apartment and the Red John shrine — remembered staring at a red face painted on the surface of a mirror and then realizing that his own face was being reflected back, marred by the painted signature.

Suddenly feeling sick, Cho forced himself forward and made sure he made enough noise that Jane had fair warning. Jane still took a while to shift his gaze and Cho was disappointed to find the closed expression. Cho stopped again, this time beside Jane. Their gazes met but even Jane's eyes were shuttered. Cho couldn't find anything to say and he was afraid to reach out.

Reluctantly he looked away and unlocked the car. Jane walked around to the passenger door. For a few moments longer, Cho stood there. He turned his eyes to the sky above and shivered when, for just a moment, he saw a bloody face staring out from the moon.

-----

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
simply_shipping
Oct. 2nd, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
Cho/Jane is now my Mentalist OTP. Just in case you were wondering.

I loved the pre-angst scenes. Especially this line: "Those are mine," Cho stated incredulously. Jane tilted his head and smiled serenely. "That," Cho pointed with the spatula for emphasis, "is my shirt and those are my pants." I can see it in my head so easily, though the image of Jane wearing anything but his usual clothes does make me pause for a second, in a good way.

I also loved the end, where he sees Red John's mark on the moon like Jane did in the last story.
enmuse
Oct. 3rd, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
Cho/Jane is now my Mentalist OTP. Just in case you were wondering.

\o/ HELL YES! *dances* I feel like I should make membership badges for our little group of fandom. XD

Heehee, that scene has been the favorite of two other folks I had doing some pre-reading *g* It was one of those things that just came naturally onto the page.

And the ending had to be there, I figured, once that sentence appeared on my screen. I thought I was going to have more resolution/comfort in this fic... nope. :p
byrons_brain
Oct. 7th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
Great fic...
heffermonkey
Oct. 7th, 2010 11:54 pm (UTC)
HAI - look at me finally reviewing on this fic I've read a few times now - better late than never hmm...anyway

* you already know my gleeful thoughts at the idea of Jane wearing Cho's clothes and the general commando scenario situation going on beneath them. This and indeed the scenes of their developing relationhip is just a sweet way of writing these two and you do it so well.

* Cho's thoughts on Kristina and his POV concerning Patrick and his interaction with Kristina throughout the course of events is beautifully written. Especially interms of how Red John becomes, in a way, part of the relationship.

* So glad you wrote the scene of Cho & Lisbon finding Jane. I knew you were planning on it and you executed it well, and the follow through to the CBI - just lovely insight into the relationship - privacy - how they operate together. Love it.

* The meeting at the car outside, tying in to the Patrick POV fic - fantastic and I like that it isn't an easy reaction - because Patrick being Patrick doesn't make things easy and Cho still has to figure him out. I'm glad it isn't all happily tied up but there's room for their relationship to figure things out the best they can.

all in all - LOVE THIS

(yup long comment but I loved it and wanted to write down my thoughts as I read it - AGAIN)

*
enmuse
Oct. 8th, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
And reviews like this make me melt into a pile of nonsensensical goo. :p
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )