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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

SEVEN

Cho woke up slowly, first becoming aware of a vague tingling in his hands and a strange taste in his mouth. He attempted to move, assuming he'd fallen asleep in an awkward position that had caused the pins and needles feeling in his hands. His movement was hindered, however, and he realize that his wrists were tightly bound together behind his back. He breathed in sharply in surprise and quickly assessed the rest of his situation.

His legs were similarly bound at the ankles and he was barefoot; still in his pajamas. He last remembered trying to fall asleep without Jane's company.

He blinked his eyes multiple times but something was securely wrapped around the top half of his head. His nose and mouth were free, but no light shone through any gaps. The air held a faint odor of mildew. He didn't hear much for a long while, then became aware of a humming nose that seemed to be muffled by at least one wall separating him from its source.

Cho worked himself onto his back, grimacing as he jarred his fingers by hitting them against the concrete floor. He suspected a basement, the sound likely being a dehumidifier. He bent his legs and managed to scoot himself along the floor. He had barely moved a foot when he bumped his head against a wall. Shifting around again, he accidentally slammed his toes against the wall. He grit his teeth against a curse.

He pushed off again, this time managing about five feet before bumping a wall. He was in a small room, unless it was longer than its width. He was hesitant to keep blindly scooting around when he didn't know where the door was. It was doubtful that he would manage to get up and open it and more likely that when his captor came in, Cho would be hit with the door's edge.

He rolled onto his side again, appreciating the cool air against his hands, which burned faintly from the scrapes that his movement had caused. None of the scooting around had dislodged the material covering his eyes, though, so he was left with limited senses. He hated not knowing the details of his surroundings; he was unable to prepare for whatever might be coming. The white noise hum from the other room was irritating. He wondered how Jane had handled his temporary bout of blindness. Granted, Jane had been free to move around and crack jokes about the ordeal.

Cho flexed his fingers and toes, checking that his circulation was okay. The bonds were tight, he wasn't going to be able to escape unaided, but the blood flow was still okay. He had a pounding headache, a matter that had not improved by the jostling around during his exploration.

He shrugged his shoulders as best he could in attempt to relieve some of the ache he felt. He must have been out of it for some time and tied up this way for a while. His body was suffering from the prolonged position.

He tried to occupy his mind with reviewing the little elements he could pick up from his situation. He worked on remembering anything helpful from the night before. He had locked his door as usual, and he had done nothing different than the past few nights. The only difference was that Patrick had not been there with him.

Cho swallowed uneasily. It didn't take a genius leap of the imagination to guess who had taken him, even if he didn't know where. Kristina's biting accusation replayed in his mind unbidden:

You will only hurt him!

It was pretty impressive that he was still alive, actually. Cho felt his lips twist in a grim smile. Red John had only allowed Rosalind Harker to live, and whatever he had done to Kristina... Well, Cho thought he would be in a different category. Given what Red John did to the victims he killed, Cho really didn't look forward to finding out what the maniac wanted to do with a live CBI agent and the lover of his obsession.

Cho tilted his cheek against the concrete, aware that he had started sweating, a reaction to his nerves rather than the temperature that didn't seem to have changed. As he lay there, waiting, he realized that his first three fingers in particular hurt like hell. He managed to work his position so that he could rub the stinging fingertips against his thumb. He hissed in pain when fresh, still soft scabs braced against his skin. Wetness flowed onto his hand and he quickly pressed down to stop the bleeding.

The hum of the dehumidifier cut off with an abrupt shudder and his ears seemed to ring with its absence. Cho moved again, turning partially on his stomach so that he wasn't restricting the circulation through his shoulder. The hard press of the floor bit into his hip and knees, but it was more bearable than trying to support himself on his shoulder or elbow.

He had been unable to discover anything useful and he was laying on the ground in some unknown place dressed only in his sweats and an old t-shirt that he wore to bed. He had a killer headache that was growing stronger the longer he was awake. He must have been drugged before the abduction or he would have tried to fight; and crazy or not, Red John was still one man and would have had a hard time contending with a struggling agent. It was little comfort to make the realization.

Cho wondered what time it was, if his team had discovered his absence and were working to find him. If they were, he wondered if there was any trail to follow. He could do nothing but wait.

Cho felt himself drifting between dozing and consciousness. His head still ached and his mouth felt overly dry. As much as he tried to be on alert, he didn't have the energy to keep up with that stress.

As he drifted in and out, he began to remember a little more. He recalled startling awake from a disturbing dream where Jane stood at the bedroom window and was just staring at him, expression blank and eyes cool. There had been blood stains — dark, almost black in the moonlight — on his suit jacket, but his hands were clean. When Cho had tried to speak, he found he couldn't and when he raised a hand to his throat, he had felt blood and the rough edges of flesh and muscle.

The specter of the dream woke Cho again and he shuddered against the cool floor, breathing hard. He tried to press back the nightmare and realized that when he had woken in his bed, he'd turned to assure himself Jane was not in the room. There had been someone there, though, shadowed and seemingly shrouded head to toe. Before Cho could react to the realization that the figure was real and not part of a continued dream, he had felt a sharp sting in his thigh. Fuzzily he was able to identify the prick of a needle before he fell unconscious.

That told him little, although it confirmed that he had been drugged and somehow Red John had managed to get into his apartment. Cho wondered grimly if he would have been attacked if Jane had been there.

Red John was probably counting on that, he realized. Of course Red John would be aware of the date's significance and could predict how Jane would react. Jane probably does this yearly. Some things may have changed in the past year, but other things wouldn't at this point.

Cho shifted against the floor and grimaced at the new aches in his body from pressing against the unforgiving concrete. He had to wonder about the timing of all of this. Kristina's return-slash-"rescue" coming the day before a date of significance for Jane and then the kidnapping of Jane's lover...?

The fucker had probably left a card cruelly wishing Jane a "happy anniversary." Sick bastard.

Cho forced himself to roll over, momentarily lying on his stomach before twisting onto his other side. No position was comfortable but he would prefer to keep himself from getting too stiff and prevent his limbs from falling asleep.

After he settled into the new position he listened intently. The dehumidifier remained off and the air retained its smell of mildew.

Overhead he heard something creak. Automatically he turned his head as if he could look up. Not being able to see, he tried to envision his surroundings. The loudness of the creak above him suggested exposed boards, so the ceiling hadn't been finished. He waited for other noises. A few moments later he heard additional creaking and, more clearly, footsteps. They faded out, moving away from the position above him, but he remained tense and at attention. It was the first movement he had heard and Cho doubted that was coincidence.

He wasn't sure exactly how many minutes passed, but his muscles started to grow tired again from being held tense. He heard the distinctive sound of a lock turning over and identified the door as being behind him. Cho scrambled to roll over.

He was on his stomach when the door opened, and he listened as the person stepped into the room. Cho kept his breathing calm through force of will as he lay there, his head blindly turned towards the entrance. He waited, unnerved by the lack of other movement. He had the unpleasant sense that he was being studied.

"How's the headache, Agent Cho?"

The voice was strangely muffled as if something covered his mouth. Cho remembered Jane's description of Red John and how the man had been wearing a mask; strange that he would continue to wear one when he had made sure that Cho was blindfolded.

Red John walked further into the room and Cho turned away, onto his side and pulled his knees up closer to his belly as he heard Red John approach. He heard more movement and then a gloved hand fell on his bare arm. The hand was firm and as Cho tried to shrug it away, the man tightened his grip.

"You shouldn't struggle so much, I promise you're not going anywhere." Red John's other hand lightly slapped Cho's cheek. "I think you need some time to think about what you're dealing with. I hope you took the time to thank Miss Frye when you saw her." Red John's hands lifted away for a moment before returning with something long and rubbery. Cho wasn't sure what it was until Red John began tying the tourniquet over his upper arm.

Cho rolled sharply the opposite way, trying to wretch out of Red John's grip. For his trouble he felt a hand grip his throat and slam his head against the floor. Red sparks danced across the darkness before his eyes and Cho laid there, stunned and unable to try pulling away again. A cold needle pressed against his skin and then slid in, he barely felt the sting as his attention focused on his throbbing head. A moment later he felt the injection flow under his skin like a cold ribbon. He waited for the chilling effects to dissipate, but he could still feel it as it ran down his arm and along his chest. The strange chill traveled quickly through his system as he shivered in response.

Red John slapped his cheek again but it was more of a pat this time. Cho bit the inside of his cheek to hide his grimace of pain. The aches that had been dull until now suddenly intensified with the strange sensation running though his system. He grit his teeth, biting hard enough that he managed to break skin and a thin trickle of blood trailed over his tongue.

Red John lifted Cho into a seated position and the movement made Cho nauseous. His senses felt like they were going haywire. His aches bore pain down to the bones and his ears buzzed with ambient noise and the sound of Red John's movement. Their breathing seemed overly loud and Cho could smell the mildew now mixed with a supposedly scentless laundry detergent. And the decay of leaves? A strange, almost garden store smell.

His thoughts were cut off by a sudden surge of nausea as Red John jostled him forward. Cho's arms were lifted away from his back and the stretch of already aching muscles made it difficult to hold back a groan of pain. A few moments later his arms were free and fell limply at his sides. Cho stifled a sigh at the momentary relief. Then Red John pulled his arms forward and rebound his arms, roughly wrapping the rope around Cho's wrists and knotting it with little give.

Another sharp wave of nausea came as Red John lifted Cho with his shoulder to Cho's stomach. The combination of pressure on his gut and head going upside down just about wiped him out.

They didn't move far and Red John bent a bit to set him upright on unstable, bound feet. Their bodies pressed together along the torso, Cho's face smashed against Red John's shoulder.

Cho's arms were yanked up and he felt a tug at his wrists even as Red John stepped away. Cho swayed forward, abruptly stopped a moment later as his arms caught his weight.

He heard Red John move farther back, then the sound of a chain clunking against wood and Cho was forced onto the balls of his feet. His body fell forward a little more and the ache of his shoulders turned into a sensation of fire that blazed down his arms and chest. He fought to keep his chin up. Even blind he refused to hang his head, he refused to give into the gesture of submission. He kept his head up, hoping he was fixing his attention approximately at the right spot. At the moment his hearing seemed sharp enough to be accurate in his guess.

"That injection should help you with any numbness you might have started to feel," Red John commented; and yes, his voice was coming from in front of Cho. "Strong effect, isn't it? It makes sure you can't block me out." He moved closer and his hand closed around Cho's chin. "Have you ever been in this position, agent?" he asked.

Cho didn't answer and refused to flinch at the bruising grip on his chin. Red John shook him hard and Cho barely managed to hold back another grunt of pain at the sharp movement. His arms, specifically his shoulders, were forced to take the brunt of his weight and the awkward angle made him worry about possible ligament tearing. He had dislocated a shoulder once, years ago, and he didn't look forward to the possibility of doing that again.

"Do you wonder how your team is doing? And Mr. Jane? It wasn't very smart of him to leave you all alone." Red John squeezed one last time before letting go of Cho's chin. "I hope you understand why you are here." He moved away and Cho tried to track the sounds of Red John's movement over the pounding of his pulse. "You see, agent Cho, Patrick is not free to do as he pleases. His life is in my hands. A pact, if you will — his wife and child for his life."

Cho felt the burn of anger spark in reaction to the disdainful tone. He tightened his jaw against a retort at the ravings of a madman.

"Would he choose to sacrifice your life as well? He's quite driven, you know. Give him an opportunity to pursue me, even the slightest potential of hope, and he flies into the fray." Cho remained silent. "You don't have to say anything right now, agent. I assure you, we have plenty of time.

"He's mine," John said, his voice sounding the most dangerous it had during his entire visit. The door slammed close.

Cho hung his head and tried to get better purchase on his feet.

---


Jane could feel Van Pelt's critical stare switching between himself and Lisbon. Mostly he tried to ignore it, irritated by her silent musings, knowing that she questioned the wisdom of letting him go back in to see Kristina. She knew why he had to be a participant, which was why she didn't actually say anything. Not that it stopped her from turning worried gazes on him.

Lisbon again cleared the way past the guards; their presence had been doubled since yesterday's failed attempts at a helpful interview.

When they got through the door, Jane didn't bother with playing the patient investigator and strode straight to Kristina's bedside. She was already sitting up, hands in her lap and her hair pulled back in a familiar bun. She looked like all she was missing was her mystical-looking jewelry and shawl to round out her part.

"Patrick, Agents," she greeted, expression calm.

"Where is he?" Jane asked, tone flat.

She lifted her eyes to his and tilted her head. "I do not know."

"I'm sure you have more to tell us than that," he admonished.

Van Pelt came up beside him and he felt her hand hover near his arm for a moment before it withdrew. "Ms. Frye," Van Pelt began, voice gentle, "we really need to get the details of anything you can remember about where you've been recently. We have an important case that's time sensitive."

"You're missing an agent," Kristina stated, looking calmly at Van Pelt. "Are you so surprised?" She looked up at Patrick and smiled grimly at whatever she saw in his expression. "No, no you aren't. Yesterday was important, wasn't it, Patrick?"

Jane cocked his head and returned her gaze with a cool stare. "I'm sure you'll tell me."

Kristina nodded once in acknowledgment before turning her attention to Van Pelt and, behind her, Rigsby and Lisbon. "Yesterday would be the... seventh year after the deaths of Mrs. and young Miss Jane."

Van Pelt did a poor job of covering her gasp of surprise. Behind him, Jane heard Rigsby shift uncomfortably and Lisbon moving forward.

"So you see, it really shouldn't be a surprise that agent Cho would go missing on such a day," Kristina said, her gaze swinging back to Jane. "This is what I mean, Patrick. You should have sensed it. If you would—"

"Don't turn this on me," he snapped. His hands fisted and he knew that he had tenuous control of the anger threatening to surface. "Did you have something to do with this?"

Lisbon appeared at his shoulder and he glanced her way briefly, catching sight of her deadly serious expression. It seemed the possibility had occurred to her as well.

Kristina's eyes widened and she held up a hand. "No! I could not condone such an act."

"Yet you found it perfectly reasonable to focus Red John's attentions on Cho," Lisbon said sarcastically, her eyes flashing in anger.

"I told you," Kristina insisted, a desperate look lighting her eyes, "I had to establish some form of trust. I had to give him something he didn't know about."

"What did you think he would do with the information?" Jane asked harshly, incredulous.

Still wide-eyed, Kristina said, "I-I knew he would have to verify the information..."

Lisbon let out a noisy huff of air. "You didn't think, Kristina. You've endangered my team. Help us get Cho back and stop stalling."

Jane stared hard at the woman as she slowly slumped back against the raised bed. Kristina looked confused by the conversation where only minutes ago she had stood stridently with her conviction that she had done right. The swift turn around was possible, but Jane wasn't in a particularly trusting mood.

"I don't believe my recollections will be much help." Kristina explained, "We traveled when I was with him. John is very intelligent and resourceful. He would probably take Agent Cho someplace I'm unfamiliar with."

"We'd still like whatever you can give us," Lisbon said. She glanced at Jane. "Jane, stay with Van Pelt, find out what you can here. Rigsby and I will head back to the office."

Jane waved an acknowledgment her way and promptly focused on Kristina's visible attempts to pull herself together.

---
Onto part 8
---

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enmuse
Mar. 1st, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
:3 Thank you~! It's always heartening to see a comment <3
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