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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

TWO

"Heads up!"

Cho's attention snapped to Lisbon and her tense tone. He frowned at the sight of the boss wearing gloves and carrying a plain folder.

"Boss?" Van Pelt questioned, her worry obvious by the furrow of her brow.

"Van Pelt, I need you on Missing Persons. A young girl, probably nine or ten years old. Brunette, curly hair past her shoulders." Lisbon turned to Cho and held out the folder. "Get this down to the lab, have copies made before turning it over for them to analyze. I need a copy back to Van Pelt for the picture, another copy to Hightower's office."

Cho stood and took the folder. "Yes, Boss." He couldn't resist the urge to open it. Seeing the typed line and the picture inside, he muttered a curse.

"Now, Cho," Lisbon ordered. Cho strode from the bullpen, listening to the rest of Lisbon's orders as he aimed for the elevator. "Jane, with me. Rigsby, find out who's accessed my inbox lately." He glanced over his shoulder to watch Jane and Lisbon head in the direction of Hightower's office.

---

Hightower's secretary waved Cho towards the office door. He knocked to announce his presence before entering.

The director was finishing, "—could be anyone." She glanced away from Lisbon and motioned for Cho to join the trio at her desk. "Let's see the note." Cho handed a copy to Hightower and another to Lisbon.

Jane leaned into Lisbon's space to examine the note and photograph. Cho had already gotten a good look at the evidence while making and transferring the copies.

"This would be a major break in pattern," Hightower said, frowning. "Jane?"

Red John, Cho thought, not nearly as surprised as Hightower seemed to be by the possibility.

Jane cast Lisbon a brief glance before replying. "It's out of character for Red John. Unless there's more to it..." He gave a tense shrug and Cho knew the blond hated feeling unsure.

Lisbon shook her head but didn't protest. Cho considered the evidence, or lack thereof, and said, "I'm not sure we can rule anything out." True, it had been months since Cho had received Red John's letter, but its contents and the man's established obsession with Jane suggested he would continue to watch everyone close to Jane. "It's possible this is some new whack job. The evidence doesn't give us much to go on, but it's not as if Red John's been keeping perfectly to script recently."

Hightower nodded with a subtle look of approval. "Valid point." She turned her attention back to Lisbon. "You and Van Pelt can keep on this task, but I don't want all your manpower on this unless you find a plausible lead."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Alright. Keep me informed."

Cho followed Lisbon and Jane out of the office. As they walked down the hallway, Lisbon turned to Jane and asked, "You don't really think it's Red John?"

Jane frowned briefly, reminding her, "You called me in." He held the photograph between his thumb and forefinger. He stared at it with a perplexed expression. "Something's off..."

"What?"

"Can't say." Jane sighed and tucked the photo into his pocket. "I have to think about it."

"Fine. Cho? Sorry to push the extra paperwork and follow-ups onto you and Rigsby..."

Cho waved away Lisbon's apology. "Got it, Boss. You'll figure it out."

"God I hope so," she muttered as they went their separate ways.

---


Jane looked up from the book he hadn't been reading to watch Cho cross to Van Pelt's desk. The redhead didn't turn away from her computer screen as she muttered a terse, "Yes?"

Cho's lips tightened for a moment before he sighed. "Call it a day. Even the boss is packing up." He nodded towards Lisbon's office and Jane was impressed to see that she was indeed gathering her jacket and purse. "You can come in early tomorrow, but go get some rest for now."

Van Pelt turned away from the computer and leaned back in her chair to stare incredulously at Cho. "You're acting motherly all of the sudden," she said, a small smile gentling the accusation. Jane hid a laugh as Cho bristled. "Never mind. Thanks, Cho." Van Pelt reached out to pat his hand. She glanced again at her monitor with a sigh. Shoulders slumping in defeat, she began the process of shutting down the computer.

Apparently satisfied, Cho turned back to his desk. His gaze caught on Jane before quickly looking away. Much to Jane's amusement there had been a flash of embarrassment in his lover's eyes.

"Wow, and here I thought I'd have to order you home," Lisbon said as she stood in the doorway to the bullpen. She nodded approvingly, casting her gaze around the office as she checked on the members of her team. "Get some rest," she suggested.

"Find anything else?" Van Pelt asked, her expression making clear that she already knew the answer.

Lisbon shook her head then turned to meet Jane's stare. "Did you figure out what's 'off' yet?"

Jane stood up and stretched. "No." He had focused on the niggling feeling of wrongness for most of the day and determined that he needed to set it aside for the moment. Maybe it would come to him if he wasn't single-mindedly trying to sort it out. If not, he would check on the CSU's progress and maybe look at the enhanced image.

"Alright. Good night, guys." Lisbon offered a small wave before heading to the elevator.

Rigsby was ready to go but continued to hover around his desk pretending to sort through last minute necessities. Jane caught Cho's gaze and they shared exasperated smiles. Rigsby had taken to waiting around to walk Van Pelt to her car if they left late. The two were still doing their little dance of courtship even though it seemed that Van Pelt was trying to move on. It was a wonder that neither of them had tried to confront Cho or Jane about the unequal treatment Hightower was giving their situation, not that Jane was about to complain. He had certainly felt the undercurrent of animosity from Rigsby during the first few weeks following their outing.

"Dinner?" Van Pelt offered, looking around at the men as she slid her purse over her shoulder.

Rigsby looked startled and Cho cast a covert glance at Jane.

With a little shrug, Patrick agreed, "Why not? What do you have in mind, Grace?"

With a sheepish grin she replied, "Promise you won't judge me when I say I need a good burger?"

Rigsby snorted in amusement and rolled his eyes. "Hamburger Mary's, right? What you eat isn't a real burger."

"Oh please." The redhead grinned and started out the door. "You coming too, Cho?"

"Sure." Cho stood and pulled on his jacket. "This the place where the cross-dressing waiter tried to get Rigsby to join the drag show?"

Jane grinned at Rigsby's sputtering and Van Pelt's cheerful affirmative. Cho looked satisfied with himself and Jane had to admit that the evening was starting to look up.

---


Jane slept restlessly, badgered by half lucid dreams that made him jerk awake. Cho grumbled protests and shifted around in his sleep, not fully waking in response.

By three in the morning, Jane gave up trying to sleep. For a time he lay awake, staring blankly at the wall as he listened to Cho's breathing. He lay on his side, arm tucked over Cho's waist, head nestled close to Cho's shoulder.

The recollection of the dreams lingered at the edges of his mind. Phantom floorboards creaked. The images had blurred and although he knew that during the dreams he had recognized where he'd been, in the conscious realm he couldn't recall the setting. What had not faded was the heavy sense of dread. Even focusing on Cho's closeness, his presence, failed to bring any sense of comfort.

Eventually Jane withdrew his arm and rolled away. He slid out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Without turning on the light, he took Cho's robe from the door's hook and slipped it on. Patrick had his own robe, one that was a little thicker since he got cold more easily than Cho, but at the moment he preferred to keep something of his lover close.

He wandered into the kitchen and turned on the light, squinting for a minute to adjust to the change. On autopilot he pulled out the kettle and filled it with water. Once he got it settled on the burner to boil, he went to the living room to pick up one of the books he'd left on the coffee table. He also grabbed the case files he'd brought home.

Jane returned to the kitchen in time to catch the kettle before it whistled. The familiar movements of preparing his tea helped to ease some of the tension lingering from his dreams. He set the mug of steeping tea on the table and settled into a chair. He opened the book and flipped through the pages idly, debating whether he wanted to read it or look at the files. His eyes kept trailing to the files so he set aside the book. The files he had were all related to Red John and the photograph Lisbon had received.

Jane pulled out the photo and held it up. Again he looked at it closely, a frown dragging down the corners of his mouth as he tried to piece together some sort of information that the photo might hold. He had the feeling that there was something familiar about the girl, or maybe it was her surroundings — however odd it might be to recognize what little could be seen of a suburban street.

Jane shook his head in frustration and put the picture back in its folder. He checked the tea and took a sip before looking at the other files. He took out the most recent note as well as the letter given to Cho months ago.

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.


The knot of unease turned to lead in his belly and Jane shuddered at a sudden feel of cold that suffused his system. He tugged Cho's robe closer around him and swallowed his tea. He never wanted anyone else to encounter Red John. His own experience had been terrifying.

There had been the unsettling revelation in Jane's first and only encounter with Red John face-to-face that the man wanted Jane alive. He'd said he had allowed Patrick to live. Red John would hold no interest in keeping others alive, he had proven so time and again. Jane realized they shared the obsession with one another. He'd been arguing with himself for months since the incident, struggling to reassure himself that their shared obsession did not put them at the same level and did not mean there was some other similarity to link them.

You've brought them into this. You made Cho a target and have done nothing to change that. The entire team was vulnerable, Jane knew, and he had emphasized that point after Kristina's kidnapping. Cho had come under particular interest for Red John, targeted thanks to information from Kristina.

Jane felt a sour twist at the thought of the conniving woman collaborating with a madman. He still felt a degree of pity for her with how her delusional arrogance had led her so far astray, but more strongly he felt a sick rage, knowing she was endangering the small handful of people he cared about.

"What are you doing up?" Cho's sleepy voice came from the doorway. Jane was surprised he hadn't heard him approach.

"Nothing important." Jane turned his head and took in Cho's rumpled, sleepy appearance. He smiled at the confused expression. "What time is it?"

Cho rubbed his eyes and leaned against the door frame. "Four-thirty. Seriously, what's going on?"

Jane shrugged and closed the folders in front of him. With Cho still mostly asleep, Jane doubted his lover would realize what precisely he had been looking at. "Thought I might have a breakthrough on Lisbon's photo."

Cho nodded. "I still got an hour. Coming back to bed?"

Jane seriously considered it, but sleep did not appeal while the dreams still lurked at the edges of his mind. Neither did he like the idea of laying awake and staring at the ceiling. "No, don't think I could sleep now." He smiled apologetically. "Get some more rest. I'll make breakfast."

Cho frowned, a wrinkle of concern appearing above his narrowed eyes. Patrick stood up and moved to the doorway. He kissed Cho's forehead and when he pulled away, offered an amused smile. "Just go sleep. I'm fine."

Cho muttered something unintelligible under his breath but turned around. Jane watched his lover disappear into the bedroom before he turned back to the kitchen table.

---
Onto Part 3
---

Extra notes: Hamburger Mary's is a real place. There used to be one in Cedar Rapids, IA where I went to undergrad and I'm sad I didn't go there often while I had the chance. In any case, the meal I imagine Van Pelt ordering is the vegetarian burger, this incredibly delicious (and huge!) patty made mostly of blackbeans and spinach. It was soooo good.


P.S. I dedicate this to all the Cho/Jane fans I've had the pleasure of meeting and talking with over the past several months. In particular huge thanks go to cedara and heffermonkey for idea-bouncing, cheerleading, and just in general making my life better. *hugs*