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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

SIX

Jane frowned down at the mismatched button on his vest. He wasn't sure how he'd managed that on the way out of the house. He fixed the mistake in the elevator and ran another self-check to make sure he hadn't missed something else. The day would involve enough curious looks without a raised eyebrow at some disorganized appearance. Plus Cho was likely to get worried.

Jane was coming in early, at least for him, to catch up with the case and any potential progress made the previous afternoon. Lisbon would be itching to corner him and ask about his absence, but Jane was betting Van Pelt or Rigsby, or even Cho, would get him up-to-date with minimal interference. The only trouble with asking Cho would be the potential of dealing with an outwardly blank expression that poorly masked his hurt from Jane. While at the office, Jane wouldn't have the time to get into the conversation they needed to have to clear the air.

The elevator lurched to a stop. Jane slid his hands into his pockets, adapting a nonchalant air before he stepped out of the elevator. As he got closer to the bullpen, his smile waned. No one was around. Before he had a chance to turn to Lisbon's office, he heard her voice shouting his name.

Despite the feeling that something was seriously wrong, Jane dramatically grimaced as he turned to face her. "Good morning to you, too."

"Where have you been?" Lisbon demanded as she strode toward him. She didn't give him the opportunity to answer. "I tried to call you!" Lisbon glared as she held up a familiar cell phone. "Imagine my surprise when I tried calling your cell and hear Van Pelt pick up because it's in the office." When Jane held out his hand, she slapped the phone into his palm.

With a sinking feeling, Jane asked, "What's going on?"

Lisbon crossed her arms over her chest and she jerked her chin in the direction of the elevator. Jane followed when she started back the way he'd come. "You weren't the only one not answering. Cho didn't come in and wasn't picking up his phone. Van Pelt went to check it out with Rigsby. They just called in to request CSU. Cho's missing."

Jane stared at her, fleetingly wishing he could believe this was a cruel joke. Lisbon's dark gaze and tight expression spoke volumes of how serious she was taking this.

"What did they find?" he finally managed to ask past the lump in his throat.

"A message. For you."

---


Jane hadn't said a word since he and Lisbon arrived at the crime scene: Cho's apartment. Jane was thankful no one had attempted to get him to talk. At the moment the only thing keeping the feeling of sickness at bay was the tight clench of his jaw.

Dear mister Jane,
How good it is to see that you remember the past even as you make the appearance of moving on. Unfortunately for you, your indecision between past and present could rob you of any future you and agent Cho might have been planning.


Forensics had let Jane look over the note until he had read and re-read it a half dozen times, though he memorized it by the second reading. He didn't remember who he handed it to before walking to the bedroom. He stood inside the doorway, his tensed muscles the only thing keeping him upright. He stared blankly at the bedroom wall. The signature smiley face was much smaller than usual, but no less foreboding.

The bed was unmade and one of the pillows lay in the middle, slightly indented from where an arm had curled over it. Jane's hands clenched in his pockets as he remembered how he'd recently teased Cho about getting used to an armrest while he slept. Jane had twice caught his lover curling up next to his pillow when it hadn't been clear if Patrick was coming over to stay the night.

"Jane," Lisbon said softly as she came to stand beside him. He didn't remove his gaze from the wall. "We need to sort through some things."

As much as he had grown used to the bloody stain on the wall of his own bedroom, seeing it mirrored here shook Jane to the core.

"Maybe I was trying to keep things separate," Jane murmured to himself.

Lisbon snorted. Jane turned to look down at her. "Jane, you don't compartmentalize well," she told him. "Few people know how to see you, really see you, but you sure as hell come as a one-package deal."

Her assessment was almost amusing enough to make him smile; at least it eased some of the queasiness.

Sobering, Lisbon nodded to the doorway. "Let's talk in the kitchen."

They passed members of the crime scene unit coming through the apartment but had the kitchen to themselves. They sat at the table.

"I know we haven't talked about it before..." Lisbon began, meaning it hadn't been said on record; "You're seeing each other."

The entire team knew the answer, but Jane didn't care to come up with a sarcastic retort. "Yes." He examined the tabletop and absently scratched a fingernail over a small surface gouge.

"When did you see him last?" Lisbon asked.

Jane hid a sigh of frustration. "At the hospital during the interview yesterday."

She fixed him with a shrewd look. "Any reason you didn't see him later?"

He wanted to snap at her, but Lisbon looked uncomfortable with the personal line of questioning and her honest worry kept his emotions in check. "No," he replied tightly.

He knew she wanted more. Honestly he was surprised she hadn't figured out the significance of yesterday's date between connecting his abrupt departure after Kristina's interview and reading Red John's letter.

Jane pushed his chair back and stood. Ignoring Lisbon's inquisitive frown, Jane reached into the cupboard for the tea kettle. As he was filling it with water, Rigsby came in.

"Boss?"

"Yes?" Lisbon shifted her attention.

Rigsby went over to the table and reported, "They're wrapping up. Anything else you want them to look over?"

"Jane?"

"No," he replied, purposefully focusing his attention on the simple movements of preparing his tea.

"CSU can leave after they finish," Lisbon directed. "I want you and Van Pelt to stick around."

"Got it."

Once Rigsby left, Lisbon stood and moved to lean against the counter next to Jane. "You okay?"

He gave her a blank look, knowing it would tell her more than an exasperated response. Lisbon sighed in defeat.

Jane listened to the quiet stir of heating water. Steam started to trail up from the spout and he turned back to the cupboard where his tea things were kept. Moving aside the tins in front, he searched for something bitter to fit his mood. It took a moment to realize there was a new tin at his fingertips. Patrick pulled down the small tin, only about four inches tall and two inches in width and length. The kettle started whistling but he ignored it as he stared at the red tin.

"Jane?" Lisbon turned off the stove and removed the kettle.

Swallowing past the knot in his throat, Jane pried off the tight-fitting cover and tilted the tin to peer inside. Carefully he tipped the contents onto the counter and fingered the familiar watch.

"Jane," Lisbon insisted, her hand landing on his shoulder.

"A gift," he explained shortly. For a moment he was surprised by the hoarseness of his voice. An anniversary gift. Something he had never expected to give again. He'd startled himself when he'd given into the impulse but knew it had been the right decision when Cho stared at him in genuine surprise and a flicker of deeper longing.

He turned his attention to the folded piece of paper. Jane compulsively smoothed the paper against the countertop, distracted by his struggle to retain emotional control. When he could focus, he read aloud:

"What do you see in him? You were such a poor family man but fit the all-American standard so well. What do your colleagues think of this? What will they think of you now that you've condemned one of their own?

"I wonder what you would prefer: an encore of the sacrifice for your continued deception or the return of your lover, broken.

"Happy anniversary, Patrick."

Jane felt chilled to the bone and overwhelmed by a sense of hollowness. He couldn't think, his mind frozen on the threat and memories of blood, tacky to the touch because he had been late getting home again.

"...me? Jane... Patrick!" Lisbon's voice startled him and her touch on his arm felt painfully hot to his clammy body. "Damn it. If you're going into shock, I'm calling an ambulance," she threatened. He shook his head but didn't speak. "Come on, sit down."

With a firm but gentle hand on his elbow, Lisbon guided him to the table. Jane sat and dropped his head into his hands, digging his palms against his closed eyelids as he listened to her prepare his tea.

Oh god, what was that bastard going to do?

The teacup clinked against the table at the same time that two pairs of footsteps entered the kitchen. Jane listened to the pause of the lighter set of steps and imagined Van Pelt poised on the threshold, unsure of her place.

"Sit down," Lisbon said, tone strained but still calm.

Three chairs pulled into place, but Jane still wasn't ready to look up. He knew he must be the center of their stares, he never, never got like this. Once or twice Lisbon had seen him exhausted and at the end of his rope, but that was in the shadows, in private. The closest he'd come to breaking down in the team's presence had been immediately after Kristina's kidnapping and his first encounter with Red John.

What will they think of you now that you've condemned one of their own?

A tight knot of burning hot anger built in his chest, fueled all the more by pain and growing dread.

"We'll figure this out," Van Pelt said, voice forcefully light.

Jane wanted to laugh but knew the sound would be brittle and harsh, sharp enough to cut through her natural optimism. He knew that despite how much he wanted her to recognize reality, he couldn't let himself destroy more than he already had.

Finally he gathered himself together and straightened up. His eyes didn't sting and he no longer felt frozen, though numbness tingled in his fingers and toes. He settled on a blank expression and crossed one leg over the other as he reached for his tea. Three gazes dropped to the table as he turned his stare to his colleagues. Lisbon glanced at him again when he placed the cup down a little too hard.

"Where do we go from here?" Rigsby asked, shifting uncomfortably in his chair.

Lisbon glanced over Jane's shoulder toward the counter. With a reluctant frown she stood and retrieved the second letter. Jane reached for his tea again and sipped it slowly, drawing out the time before he had to set aside an empty cup. He watched the others read the letter and take in the harsh words; studied the discomfort and rising anger on Rigsby's expression; noted Van Pelt's anxiety. He wondered what specifically they reacted to — Cho's disappearance? Red John? The bitter elements of truth wrapped in a sociopath's cruel words?

"We'll see what the lab has to say," Lisbon said after a few minutes of silence.

Van Pelt's lips tightened in frustration. "Don't we have any idea where to start looking?"

Rigsby leaned back in his chair with his arms crossed and glared heavily at the table. Jane could practically feel the tension radiating from the other man and instinctively knew that Rigsby was struggling to avoid directing his anger at Jane.

"Where?" Lisbon asked wearily, her voice momentarily giving away how helpless she felt. "Kristina didn't give me much to work with in the second interview."

"We have to do something," Van Pelt trailed off to a whisper as she hunched in on herself.

Rigsby bit out, "Any ideas, Jane?"

The barely restrained hostility allowed Jane to slip into familiar character. A wall slammed into place and numbness padded the distance between himself and the others at the table. A sense of detachment made it easier to present a calm exterior, as if he was not personally involved.

"Abduction doesn't fit within Red John's standard pattern of behavior."

Van Pelt began, "Ms. Frye--"

"Went with him," Jane cut in. His fingers curled into fists and he had to take a moment to contain a surge of anger. "We need to talk to her again, but I don't think we can trust her. She's as likely as Red John to leave us a misleading clue." The incredulous stares he gained in response to his detached tone echoed a feeling of shock buried within his barriers of numbness.

Rigsby's jaw clenched visibly and he looked primed for a fight. Jane lifted his chin slightly, a silent dare. For a moment it even seemed like Rigsby might take the bait. He looked away sharply and took a noisy breath through his nose. "Asshole," he muttered.

"We're going to look everything over thoroughly," Lisbon finally said. "We all need to calm down and get our heads in the game to figure this out." She added in a quiet tone, "Cho's counting on us."

---
Onto Part 7
---

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
enmuse
Feb. 25th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
You're the second person I know who found me via H/R fics :D

*bounces* THANK YOU FOR COMMENTING! I've started posting this because I know getting some feedback will help focus the muses. At least you can be assured that this WIP is near done.

And to help calm the nerves a bit, know that I'm a sap for happy endings. I might, er, "enjoy" putting characters through some seriously rough things, but I like things to work out in the end. (I get depressed over permanent break-up fics, too.)
cedara
Feb. 26th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! :-DDDDDDDDDDD

(*knows this will sound weird for the casual commenter, but you know what's meant* *g*)
enmuse
Feb. 26th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)


I have a couple hundred words tagged onto what I sent you last. Vaguely know what a couple scenes will be... But do you have more ideas? (Send 'em PM or email ;D )
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )