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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

THREE

"Got it!"

Cho pushed his chair to the side to look around his computer monitor. Jane had called loud enough that Lisbon was heading out of her office. Cho exchanged a glance with Van Pelt. Rigsby was out of the office to pick up lunch.

Jane beamed at the attention. "Well? Is anyone going to ask?"

Lisbon rolled her eyes as she crossed to the desk where he sat. "What?"

"Our mysterious girl is much older than she looks." Cho and Van Pelt got up to look over Jane's shoulder at the laptop he had been focusing on all morning. He'd gotten a copy of the enhanced image from the labs and had been looking it over for details to offer a lead. Apparently it had paid off. "There's part of a car in the background, see?" Jane tapped the corner of the license plate. "And there's a registration tag."

Cho frowned when he realized the year. Van Pelt said, "Seventy-five? But the photo doesn't look that old."

Lisbon shook her head. "The photo could be doctored. I think Jane's right."

"What'd I miss?" Rigsby walked into the bullpen with a bag from the deli a block away. "Does this mean we're skipping lunch?"

Shaking her head, Lisbon explained, "Jane figured out our missing 'girl' isn't so much a girl as she is now a woman. I'll call down to ask the techs to see if there's been any editing of the photograph." She glanced at her watch. "Well, I'll leave a message."

"What should I do about missing persons?" Van Pelt asked.

"Get someone to age the photo and compare reports," Lisbon said.

Cho added. "And do a search with adjusted years." He shrugged when Lisbon shot him an amused glance.

Rigsby set the bag on the edge of the desk and started handing out their meals. "Think this is a good enough lead to make it an official case?" he asked as he handed Lisbon her sandwich.

Cho frowned. "I doubt it." They would need find out if their adjusted search yielded anything usable.

He took his sandwich back to his desk to eat while he checked over his report.

A few minutes later Jane wandered over to sit on the edge of the desk.

"Paperwork?"

Cho didn't reply verbally, just darted a telling stare at his lover. Jane smirked and took a bite of his sandwich.

Forgoing further reviewing while the blond was around, Cho leaned back in his chair and focused his attention on Jane.

"This clear up your 'off' feeling?" Cho asked.

Jane frowned at that and his gaze turned inward. Cho waited silently, working on his sandwich. He glanced around the office and noticed that Rigsby and Lisbon had left to eat elsewhere. Van Pelt ate at her desk, stare focused on her computer as she frowned at whatever (lack of) results she was getting.

"She's... familiar in some way," Jane said. Cho could tell from his tone that Jane was frustrated by not being able to make the connection.

"No clue why?" Cho asked. He hid a grimace when he saw Jane's hand clench in frustration. He hadn't meant to further the irritation.

"It'll come to me," Jane muttered. He stood and seemed to shrug off his previous demeanor. "I'm getting tea, want anything?"

Cho considered the headache lurking and just waiting to come on full force. "Coffee," he answered.

Jane nodded and walked out, munching on his sandwich as he went.

---


Van Pelt was at her computer, still running data through the Missing Persons database, now with adjusted parameters. She had to look through the individual reports from the earlier decades, searching for some idea if they had any leads there. The afternoon should yield results from the lab about the aged version of their photograph. That should help the search, Lisbon figured, and Van Pelt just felt impatient to have something new to work with.

Rigsby's exclamation of "Whoa, who're those for?" made her look up. She blinked as one of the receptionists from the main floor walked into the bullpen and crossed to her desk. He carried a large vase of colorful flowers.

"What's this?" she asked, eyes wide.

The guy shrugged with a little grin and suggested, "An admirer, maybe?"

Van Pelt chanced a glance towards Rigsby and watched him scowl. She felt a little concerned. As flattering as it was to receive flowers from someone, she had no idea who might have decided to send these. Given the unpleasantness that could come from unexpected deliveries in her line of work, she eyed the vase cautiously as it was set on her desk.

"Envelope there in the middle," the secretary assured. He smiled and with a little wave, departed from the office.

Van Pelt blinked at the flowers and the envelope sticking up in between the multitude of colors. She glanced around the bullpen and saw her colleagues staring at her with open curiosity.

"What's this?" Lisbon's voice came from behind her and Van Pelt turned around.

"Um, special delivery?"

Lisbon eyed the vase with the same skepticism Van Pelt felt. "Note?"

"Yeah." Van Pelt reached for the envelope and pulled it out. She stared at the slightly distended paper and warily noted her name typed across the middle. "Boss..." she said quietly.

Rigsby was up in a second and came over to her desk. He held out his hand for the envelope like he should be protecting her from something. Van Pelt glanced up, half annoyed and half touched. She waved him off before opening the letter herself.

As she parted the edges to look inside, she heard Cho and Jane join the gathered scene around her desk.

"Hair...?" Van Pelt felt her eyebrows arch in surprise. "Um, someone have gloves?"

Cho's hands came into view, gloved in familiar blue. Van Pelt let him reach in to handle the contents. Carefully he lifted the small bunch of hair tied with ribbon.

"Same color as the picture," Jane noted immediately.

"Like a child's memento," Lisbon added with a small frown.

Jane leaned over, apparently to get eye level with the hair. "There's some long strands in there."

Van Pelt looked closer at what Cho held and nodded. "Yeah. And there's... the roots are still attached."

Lisbon let out a sigh of relief. "DNA. Get that to the lab immediately. Is there a note?"

Van Pelt looked inside and nodded to Cho. He reached in with his free hand to pull out the small piece of paper, then replaced the hair. He held the card up between his blue covered fingers and read aloud:

"Who am I?"

"Same as before," Rigsby muttered.

Lisbon rubbed her face with her palm. "Well, at least we have something solid to work with. Once we get the DNA report back we'll be able to get Hightower to approve the case."

"Probably," Jane murmured, sounding distracted. His attention had fixed on the vase of flowers.

Lisbon shot him a curious look but waved at Van Pelt. "Take that down to the labs and put it as high priority. Then check who delivered the flowers. We'll start backtracking the route, see if there's some trace of who sent them ."

Van Pelt nodded and went to do just that.

---

Lisbon allowed Jane another minute to examine the flowers before asking, "What is it?"

With his hands in his pockets, Jane rocked back on his heels. "Symbolism," he stated. He glanced briefly at Cho, a flash of concern crossing his expression. "Rhododendron, calendula, and cyclamen," he identified.

Rigsby leaned over the vase to look closer. "And what're they supposed to mean?"

Jane answered, "Caution, grief, resignation, goodbye." Lisbon, Cho, and Rigsby stared at him. Jane affected a casual shrug. "Could be wrong."

I doubt it, Lisbon thought grimly. She looked again at the flowers. "Not your usual choices, probably required special order. Let's hope that even if the order wasn't placed in person that there's information to work with."

She looked up at her team and noticed how Jane was watching Cho from the corner of his eyes. Caution... grief... goodbye, she repeated to herself. It was the sort of message Red John would send. Given that the most recent attention had focused on Cho, Lisbon felt her own sense of unease rising.

"What now, boss?" Rigsby asked. He shot a look at Cho and Jane.

"The gang unit wants to borrow Cho for an interview." Lisbon gestured toward her office. "Rigsby, I have another case you could help on." She glanced at Jane with a frown but decided to leave him be for the moment.

---
Onto Part 4
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