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{Fic} Red Light | Mentalist | (Cho/Jane)

Red Light
Fourth 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 written for other fans.
Rating: Teen
Words: ~2,750
Summary: Cho can't keep Red John's letter a secret for long. Sequel to Infrared
A/N: For octoberwriting 2010... Thanks to cedara for behind-the-scenes support... and for heffermonkey, who boosts my ego & is also my fangirl enabler. ;)
Recent Edit: Jan. 18, 2014

-----

"I'm not sure how much longer we can keep this from him," Lisbon said without raising her eyes from the paper in front of her. Cho sat on the other side of her desk, the tense set of his shoulders belying his otherwise relaxed posture. An unrelated case file sat open on his knee, but the only item of interest was on Lisbon's desk.

"I know." Cho's hand clenched on the arm of his chair as the words of the letter played over in his mind.

Lisbon sighed and looked up. "I'm surprised he doesn't already know."

With a shrug, Cho replied, "I knew there wasn't much I could do when I saw the mic. And that—" he waved at the letter on the desk "—came while he was in with Hightower."

"Forensics didn't get anything," Lisbon said. Cho just nodded, having expected the answer. "Do you think it will continue?"

"Until he's gone."

Lisbon looked at him a long time, her gaze sharp as she took in his appearance. Cho sat through it, used to being under the scope of Jane's inquisitive stare. He knew his exhausted tension was beginning to show. Jane had been gazing at him curiously as of late; soon that would turn to suspicion. Cho didn't know how to open the discussion, dreaded it, actually, and he had to admit that he wasn't sure how Jane would respond.

"Then it will get out eventually," Lisbon said quietly, staring again at the letter. "I'll have to tell Hightower about this."

"I know."

"Cho, this note isn't outright incriminating..." she trailed off.

A headache was building around his eyes and pounding in his temples. "But it's not a leap to figure it out," he finished.

"Yeah." Lisbon sighed. "Whatever the reaction I'll... I'll manage what I can. If she decides the whole team needs to be in on this, how do you want it to play?"

Cho offered a tight shrug. "Jane has to know first." It went unsaid that whatever might need to be explained about Red John's particular interest in Cho involved more than just Cho's privacy.

"Okay." Lisbon stuck the letter into a folder half-buried in a short stack in her outbox. She offered a weak smile. "I'll let you know how it goes." Cho nodded and stood.

As he crossed into the bullpen he felt Jane's stare and noted that even Rigsby had glanced away from his work to give him a look. Van Pelt asked, "New case?"

"No." Cho sat down and stuck the file back in a desk drawer. "Reviewing a report."

He could hear the frown in her drawn out, "Okay..."

---

"Oh shit."

Rigsby startled at the exclamation and looked over at Cho. "What?"

Cho increased his stride across the parking lot, phone still in hand. "Message from Lisbon."

"About the case?"

"No."

He wasn't ready to go into the details, but it wasn't about the case. Hightower had decided to bring Jane in and brief him on the events of the past month. Lisbon had left Cho the message sometime during the interview with Torrini when the local PD didn't want the agents to carry in their cell phones. Cho hadn't thought to check voicemail before driving back to the office, which meant it had been about three hours.

"Shit," he muttered, jabbing impatiently at the elevator button. Rigsby wasn't saying anything, but his concern and confusion were obvious.

By the time they stepped off the elevator, Cho had almost convinced himself that Lisbon and Hightower had managed to tamp things down and Jane wouldn't be a complete wreck. As soon as he could see into the bullpen, Cho sucked in a breath and braced himself. No such luck. Jane paced sharply back and forth along the couch.

Lisbon spotted him first and stood. Van Pelt caught the movement and looked up at him as he passed the conference table. Jane turned and caught sight of him. The blond's expression was tight and pale, his eyes dark and shuttered. Cho froze in place, standing in the middle of the bullpen as Jane stalked toward him.

"Why the hell didn't you say anything?"

Cho repressed a flinch at Jane's harsh tone. Behind him he heard Rigsby asking Lisbon what was going on. Over Jane's shoulder, Cho saw Van Pelt pick up the phone and dial an extension. He would have preferred to deal with this in private, even if he'd had to stumble through it blindly, but it seemed that the entire situation was about to be aired for anyone who cared to listen.

Jane took another step closer, putting them toe to toe. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"What else could you have done?" Cho asked, letting his exhaustion show.

"It involves me! You don't have the right to block me out!" Jane snapped.

"I needed time to think. I wasn't going to keep you out."

Jane shook his head in disgust and stepped back.

Hightower strode into the bullpen looking as unflappable as ever. "Good afternoon. I'd prefer we move this to a conference room." She met Jane's irritated stare with a sharp gaze of her own. "Now."

Van Pelt stood in a hurry. Jane maintained the stare-off for a moment longer and then brushed past the chief. Cho straightened his shoulders and followed at a more sedate pace. Hightower glanced at him briefly but gave nothing away.

"Hey," Lisbon said as she caught up. She held a stack of file folders that Cho quickly recognized as relating to the Red John cases. "I'm not sure if it would have been better if you were here."

Cho shrugged dismissively. "It's done."

She frowned at him but didn't argue.

Even with the door to the conference room shut and the blinds drawn, no one seemed comfortable sitting down. Hightower ran her gaze over the group with a tight frown as she stood behind her chair. Van Pelt nervously bit her lip and kept glancing at Jane, who was doing a good impression of a caged animal. Rigsby still looked mostly confused, and Lisbon looked outright tired.

Finally Hightower said, "Take a seat. You too, Jane."

Van Pelt and Lisbon took up position across from each other next to Hightower. Rigsby grabbed the chair next to Lisbon, Cho across from him. Jane looked for a moment like he would ignore the order, but eventually he slumped into a chair beside Cho.

"Since I believe we're operating on different amounts of information, let's get everyone onto the same page." Hightower folded her hands on the table as she looked around. "You are all up to speed with the closing of the Sandoval case?"

"Yes, ma'am," Van Pelt and Rigsby murmured.

"Good." Hightower turned her gaze to Cho. "Agent Cho, please explain why you requested a sweep of your apartment a few days after Ms. Frye's kidnapping."

Ignoring the startled stares of two coworkers, Cho blandly responded, "I found a deactivated surveillance mic at my apartment, it was left for me to find. Nothing turned up in the sweep and backtracking the device led to stolen supplies and a dead end."

"Red John?" Rigsby's eyes widened in surprise.

Hightower replied, "Any doubt about the perpetrator's identity has been dispelled by a letter delivered to Agent Cho earlier this week." She motioned to Lisbon. After a momentary pause, Lisbon opened a folder and passed a copy of Red John's letter to Hightower.

Cho glanced sidelong at Jane and saw the blond's lips press into a tight line.

Van Pelt's voice startled him; "Dear Mr. Cho..." Cho glanced sharply at Lisbon who looked unhappy with the proceedings. Hightower met his gaze with a hard stare. "I heard you requested a sweep of your apartment. I'm impressed you managed to do so quietly. Or have you told Patrick behind closed doors?" the redhead continued. She swallowed nervously and glanced at Cho with a worried expression. "If you decide to share this letter, you can tell mister Jane that Miss Frye sends her regards. She is of the interesting notion that I am in need of rehabilitation. It's quite amusing and her methods... unorthodox. I'm sure you would like to thank her for introducing us, I'll see what we can arrange."

Rigsby swore under his breath.

"She..." Van Pelt squeezed her eyes shut as she took a shaky breath. "Did Kristina go to him?"

No one answered. Cho couldn't make himself look at Jane and instead locked his stare on a scratch in the table's surface.

"The letter was turned over to forensics on Tuesday but there was no evidence to be gathered," Hightower said. "When did you receive the letter?"

What did it matter? Cho hated being put on the spot, hated having his life offered up for investigation among his colleagues. There were too many things he needed to settle without everyone prying. He needed to talk to Jane alone before the fallout became too much.

"Agent Cho," Hightower's voice was sharp and he knew she had already guessed how long he'd held onto it.

"It came last Wednesday." Cho fought back a scowl of annoyance.

Jane said nothing, but his hand landed on Cho's thigh under the table. Cho glanced over and found Jane glaring at the opposite wall.

"In the case of any further events, I expect a report immediately," Hightower said, tone deceptively calm.

"What's next?" Rigsby asked, expression grim.

For the first time Hightower looked unsettled. "I'm not sure we have an answer."

Van Pelt looked around at the others, expression anxious. "Is there something we can do? If Red John bugged Cho's place—"

"It was a one-time thing," Jane broke in. Beneath the table, his fingertips dug into Cho's thigh. The blond glared briefly at Hightower.

"I don't get it," Rigsby said, looking between Hightower and Jane, then blinking at Cho. Van Pelt looked just as confused. Lisbon shifted uncomfortably and cast Cho a sympathetic look.

Hightower sighed. "Mr. Jane...?"

Cho slid his hand over Jane's. The blond glanced at him briefly but Cho couldn't read his expression.

"He was verifying something Kristina told him." Jane's eyes flashed momentarily with bright fury. Cho gently squeezed the hand under his. "He left the mic to let us know."

"She's really giving him information..." Van Pelt breathed, eyes wide in hurt surprise.

Rigsby looked suspicious and Cho had to admit he was impressed by the man's instincts. "So why Cho?"

Jane's lips tightened but he didn't respond. Cho didn't know what he was supposed to do, whether Jane was leaving it up to him to explain or if he didn't want to open up their relationship to further scrutiny. He looked at Lisbon but she only offered him a shrug.

"Oh," Van Pelt exclaimed softly. She picked up the letter again and scanned it. "Oh!"

Rigsby plucked the letter from her hands, skimmed it, then looked at Cho questioningly. Cho kept his expression blank. After a few moments, a look of understanding passed over Rigsby's expression. His eyebrows lifted in surprise as he looked between Jane and Cho.

"What can we do?" Van Pelt asked quietly, reiterating her earlier question. She avoided meeting anyone's gaze.

Hightower stared at Jane for a long time as if he could give the answers. Cho hid a grimace when Jane abruptly withdrew his hand and shoved his chair back. The blond paced across the room.

Lisbon cleared her throat. "Be alert. Be smart. We need to operate under the belief that Red John has access to any and all information Kristina has."

"I still can't believe..." Van Pelt shook her head. She acted as if Kristina's behavior was a personal affront. Of course, Cho reflected, Van Pelt was probably the only one who had liked the psychic.

Hightower stood. "I expect from now on that we are all kept appraised of the situation in a timely manner." She eyed Cho meaningfully. "You're dismissed."

Cho stood slowly, reluctant to face the questions that would come once they were free from Hightower's scrutiny. Jane was pushing through the door when Hightower said, "Agent Cho, a moment." The blond froze in place, causing Van Pelt to bump into him. Hightower waved him away. "Just Agent Cho, thank you."

Once the room had cleared, Hightower clasped her hands in front of her and looked at Cho. He stood straight with his stare fixed on the opposite wall.

"I will not let the insinuations of a madman dictate the running of this office. The Red John case at this point is almost exclusively within the purview of Agent Lisbon's team. Given the outcome of the previous attempt to shift the case to another team, I have significant misgivings about altering current arrangements." Cho didn't dare move a muscle until she made it clear that she was finished.

"However, if I were to see evidence supporting certain claims, I would be forced to take action." Hightower crossed to stand in front of Cho, forcing their gazes to meet. "Keep it out of the office, Agent Cho," she warned lowly.

"Yes, Ma'am."

She held his stare a moment longer before nodding. "Dismissed."

Cho murmured another "Yes, Ma'am" and made his exit. He forced his thoughts to the current case. Knowing Lisbon, she'd have the same thought to focus in on the Hayes case and push aside as much of the day's personal revelations as possible.

By the conference table, Jane stood staring out the window with his arms crossed. Lisbon was conferring with Van Pelt at the table and Rigsby appeared to be only half-listening. Cho slid into an empty seat and brought out his notebook from the Torrini interview.

"Torrini's not our guy," Lisbon guessed.

"No. But he used to deal to Hayes' daughter. When she was short on cash, he said he 'went easy on her' and traded under-table favors." Cho glanced through his notes and barely repressed a sigh. "That's the gist of it. I can get you the detailed write-up by day's end."

"Alright." Lisbon glanced briefly at Jane before turning her attention to Van Pelt. "On this—"

"Wait," Rigsby broke in. He caught everyone's attention, and Cho eyed him warily. "We're not going to talk about what happened?" No one prompted him with a return question. A mix of emotions played across his face — frustration, concern, confusion — never settling on one in particular. "I mean, doesn't this change anything?"

"Rigsby," Lisbon said in an undertone, "not now."

Van Pelt nervously shuffled the papers in front of her but her eyes kept darting between Cho and Jane; she was just as curious as Rigsby.

"This has to change something."

Lisbon let out a frustrated huff of air. "It changes nothing."

Van Pelt started, "How come—?"

"One word and I'm transferred," Cho broke in. He knew his monotone unsettled them as much as the statement itself. He met the surprised stares without backing down. It was difficult to hold Jane's stare for longer than a few seconds.

Rigsby looked like he wanted to say something more, but he shook his head and looked away. Van Pelt bit her lip and gave Cho a sympathetic look. Lisbon gave a nod of understanding before turning back to the case. Cho closed his eyes and let out a silent sigh of relief. When he opened his eyes, he caught Jane's shuttered gaze. Damn it. He wasn't sure how Jane interpreted his latest statement. It would be a hell of a lot easier to try sorting things out sooner rather than later, but with hours left before end of shift and Hightower's warning still fresh in his mind, Cho didn't dare press his luck.

Something shifted in Jane's gaze and Cho felt a flood of relief when the blond offered a barely imperceptible nod. They were short on options and Cho would have a difficult enough time compartmentalizing without Jane acting moody throughout the rest of the day.

While the others were focused on a print-out, Cho chanced another look at Jane. He immediately had the blond's attention, so before he could rethink it, he mouthed, I'm sorry. The bemused look he got in response was worth it.

-----

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
cedara
Oct. 8th, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
YAY!

This series is so awesome! *G*
enmuse
Oct. 8th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU DARLIN'! Your support has been amazing and vital to the process. :)
heffermonkey
Oct. 19th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
yeah so - I did read this BEFORE I went on holiday - then I forgot to leave comments/feedback.cookiesforthemuses/love&support -

ahem

firstly - love this series. It's crackin and totally fleshing out head canon which is always a good thing.

I like the whole fall out from the note - the stand off between Cho & Jane in the bullpen and the reactions of the rest of the team.

The meeting held the right amount of tension and I like the Hightower moments - she needs to be in more fic.

It will be interesting to read a more personal conversation of Cho & Jane concerning the note and what has happend.

great addition to the series x
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )