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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

TEN

"You don't look well, Patrick." Red John raised a hand and gestured sharply at Kristina. "Tea?" he prompted.

Jane watched from the corner of his eye as Kristina easily followed the command. She set the mugs on the counter and reached for the tea tins. She hesitated, hand still in the air as she looked at Jane. "You didn't say what you wanted."

Jane had to swallow before he could speak. Even then his voice came out as little more than a whisper, "It doesn't matter."

Kristina looked at Red John, then back at Jane, and finally shrugged to herself as she chose a tin.

Jane's attention sharpened fully on Red John as the man stepped from the doorway. He took up position on the far side of the counter so that he and Jane faced each other across the length of the island. "As I was saying, you don't look well. I suppose I have something to do with that."

Jane's hands clenched tightly into fists against the counter-top. He felt paralyzed, struck silent from his inability to determine how to react.

"Have you slept since you got my message?" Red John asked. He tilted his head inquisitively.

"You have me now," Jane forced himself to say it calmly. He pulled upon inner resources and portrayed a sense of casualness. He played up the unconcerned, distant role. He waved a hand, a little too stiff to look truly casual.

Red John's shoulders bounced and it took a moment for Jane to hear the low chuckling. "Patrick, I wonder what you would do if we were truly alone. Do you want to kill me?"

The answer was immediate and automatic. "Yes." Jane belatedly realized he said the word aloud.

Kristina interrupted by setting a mug down in front of Jane. He hadn't realized she'd moved so close until she was nearly pressed against his side to offer the tea. He spared her a brief, irritated glare before once again focusing on Red John. Kristina frowned at him in disapproval but Jane couldn't care less what she thought. She had set him up; not entirely unexpected, but Red John waiting at her house hadn't registered on the list of possibilities.

"John," Kristina said, her voice chiding, "we discussed this." She leaned into Jane for a few long moments, her breasts caressing his arm and her breath brushing his skin. She withdrew when he tensed in reaction. She took the second mug of tea around the island and stopped only a foot away from Red John before she offered the mug. "That mask is dreadful," she chided, huffing a breath of frustration.

Jane found himself at a loss to understand her reasoning. Even if she had seen his face before, Red John wouldn't reveal himself to Jane until he had absolute guarantee Jane could not escape. There were too many variables in the current situation. Red John was anything but stupid.

Red John seemed satisfied to ignore Kristina for the time being. Instead of replying, he reached into his sweatshirt pocket and withdrew something that flashed silver in his grip. Jane didn't identify it until the scalpel was tossed down the counter-top. It slid almost all the way across, spinning to a stop just inches from Jane's hands.

Jane stared at it blankly; it took a moment for his mind to process what he saw. Dried blood covered both blade and handle. Jane felt his stomach roll over in dread. It took no guesswork to realize whose blood it was.

Kristina gasped quietly and by the time Jane managed to drag his gaze back up, he noticed that she had paled and honest surprise widened her eyes. She stared at the blade for long moments before turning an anxious look on Red John.

Red John kept staring at Jane, blank mask and casual stance giving very little away besides his confidence.

Jane stared silently, jaw clenched in a mix of anger and fear. He could feel the muscles in his forearms twitch and he swallowed convulsively.

"Oh don't worry, Patrick. Agent Cho isn't dead." He nodded at the scalpel. "Care to make an attempt on my life?"

When Jane didn't respond, Red John shrugged. "But if you do that, you'll have difficulty finding Agent Cho. Let's see, ignoring any other possible factors, how long does it take for a person to die of dehydration? Three days?"

Jane could feel his body thrum with the heavy beat of the blood pumping through his veins. He glared at Kristina.

She caught his look and held up her hands in supplication. "I really don't know where Agent Cho is," she swore. "Everything should be fine. Everything will be fine." She sounded desperate.

"Don't." Jane had to struggle to grit out even that much.

Red John stepped around the edge of the counter to stand next to Kristina. He placed an arm around her shoulders. To Jane he said, "Convenient, isn't it, how the so-called psychics fail so spectacularly when it comes to the 'important' things?"

Kristina visibly bristled and she tried to turn toward Red John. Jane saw the grip tighten and understood in an instant that the situation was about to fall apart. He felt his mouth open — to what? yell a warning? Kristina's expression, while confused, quickly morphed into dumbfounded horror; something in her finally recognized the danger she was in. Jane's gaze caught on the appearance of a knife in Red John's free hand. The sight of the knife freed Jane from his previous paralysis and he shoved away from the counter with a shout. He'd barely cleared the island's corner when the blade dug into Kristina's neck beneath one ear.

Jane had seen the aftermath of many different types of murders. He had been present at shootings, had even shot someone once in automatic response to Lisbon's life being in danger. But he had never fully understood what it took to cut someone's throat. He watched as Kristina's mouth opened in a choked attempt to scream; he saw the sharp, ungraceful movement of Red John pulling the knife across her throat. The rough edges of flesh were instantly covered in blood. By the final yank of the blade, there was no doubt that Kristina would be dead by the time she hit the floor.

Numb with shock, Jane was only distantly aware of the front door banging open and several feet pounding across the hardwood floors. Jane stared at Red John as the man released Kristina's body and let her drop to the floor. It wasn't until he focused enough to recognize the arterial spray streaking Red John's mask that Jane realized he could feel Kristina's blood slowly dripping down his own face and neck.

"Jane! Jesus Christ!" Lisbon's shout drew Jane closer to present reality, but he still felt disconnected. Jane heard curses, some muffled more than others, from the rest of the agents with Lisbon as they took in the scene.

He continued to stare at Red John, who had backed up a few steps to stand in front of the pantry. He raised the knife and his stance warned of attack if anyone drew too close.

"I wondered if you would really be convinced to come in alone. Or were you followed?" Red John made it sound like it made no difference whichever the case.

Jane was aware of the agents spreading out around the kitchen, cutting off Red John's escape. Although Jane didn't turn his attention away from the killer, he caught glimpses from the corner of his vision of the five agents holding up their guns with practiced ease. Lisbon unexpectedly stood next to Jane — a surprise since she should have been in front of him, at least making the attempt to block him from the action.

Red John tipped the knife at the counter and Jane realized he was pointing at the scalpel stained with Cho's blood. "They shoot me now and you'll never find your lover in time." Lisbon shifted beside Jane though her raised gun never wavered. "How long has it been? He's in less than peak condition, wait too long and next time you see him you could be looking at a corpse."

"Where the hell is Cho?" Rigsby demanded. He stood near the stove, every muscle tense.

From the other side of Lisbon, Jane heard McIntyre clear his throat. "Agent Lisbon I believe--"

"Gun!" Henley's shout sent a jolt of panic through Jane.

Red John had dropped the knife in favor of the gun he drew from beneath his sweatshirt. He appeared undisturbed by the shouted warning. The agents around the room somehow managed to come even further to attention. Red John had yet to point the gun in any particular direction, the barrel directed at the floor.

"You have a choice, Patrick. One time offer, so you have to choose what you want more. Are you really going to let him down?" Red John asked disdainfully. "Let me leave and this time you can save your lover," he coaxed.

Lisbon said quietly, "Jane, we can't." Had it been any other situation Jane would have spared the time to cast her an exasperated look. As it was, he was trying to piece together what Red John had planned. There was something more going on than the apparent proposition. Something was wrong, beyond the obvious.

"Tick tock." Red John tilted his head to the side. Jane could tell from the body language that Red John was about to bring up the gun. "It was a limited time offer." In a fluid, almost graceful movement, Red John leveled the gun at Lisbon.

"Happy anniversary, Mister Jane."

Jane flinched at the loud rapport of Lisbon's gun firing. The sound bounced off the spacious tiled kitchen and left his ears ringing. By the time he managed to reorient himself, Rigsby and McIntyre were crouching over Red John's sprawled form and Lisbon had her arm held out to block Jane from moving forward.

"Status?" Lisbon barked. Her eyes were wide and she looked a little pale.

Rigsby tossed aside the blood-stained mask as he turned to look at her. "Having trouble breathing. Think you caught a lung."

Lisbon slowly lowered her arm and secured her weapon. Jane took advantage of her preoccupation and hurried forward to investigate over Rigsby's shoulder.

The hood of the black sweatshirt Red John wore had fallen back due to the removal of the mask. A pale-skinned man with less than striking features was revealed. Red John had the looks that plain-clothes law enforcement envied: plain, normal features that likely had gotten overlooked and allowed him to blend in.

Red John's lips were parted and wet with blood. He audibly labored to breathe; an unnatural gurgling accompanied every other breath. Blood trailed down the corner of his mouth. McIntyre applied pressure to the entry wound while Rigsby looked on with a expression of anger and disgust.

Red John's eyes, narrowed in obvious pain, slid to Jane and the man managed a grin, baring pink-stained teeth. Jane's fingers itched to pull McIntyre away and let the bastard choke to death on his own blood. Jane wanted to stand over Red John and watch the man die as his lungs flooded, wanted to see that moment that his life finally ended—

But Cho was still missing, and even more than wanting to see Red John die, Jane needed to make sure Kimball was safe.

McIntyre's voice startled Jane from his inner turmoil. "There's a basement, I saw windows at ground level."

"What?" Jane looked sharply at the agent who had been reporting the information to Lisbon. The question was more of an automatic response than any attempt to get the agent to repeat himself.

It took only a few moments for the information to click together in Jane's mind and the instant he figured it out, he brushed past Rigsby. He paused a moment in the pantry doorway to hit the light. It was larger inside than he had initially thought and just beyond the shelves he saw the second door.

Behind him he heard Rigsby's voice raised in curiosity and Lisbon calling for him to wait. Jane ignored them and opened the basement door. He ran his hand along the inner wall, searching for the light switch. As soon as the light turned on over the stairs, he rushed down, nearly stumbling on the last step.

"Cho?" he called. To one side an arched doorway led into a small finished room with exercise equipment and a wall lined with file cabinets. Jane dismissed it in an instant when he saw no other exit and turned the other way. A short hall held three more doors. The door at the end of the hall was partway open and light caught on laminate flooring that identified it as a bathroom. The nearest door led to an unfinished laundry room.

Heart pounding against his chest, Jane grabbed the middle door's knob and turned it. "Cho?" he called again.

Jane noted basic details of the room out of habit (plain drywall, concrete floor with a drain, bare unfinished ceiling) but his real attention was focused on the man hanging by his wrists at the room's center.

Jane stepped into the room but after he moved out of the way to let the light in, he found himself frozen in place.

The light from the hall wasn't particularly bright but it carried into the room well enough for Jane to see. Cho's back was to the door. His wrists had been tied with rope and then fixed to a chain that attached to an exposed ceiling beam. The arrangement left Cho standing on the balls of his feet; his ankles were also bound with rope though the knots looked less tight. Black cloth had been tied around Cho's head and although Jane couldn't see the agent's face, he gathered that the cloth acted as a blindfold.

Jane's stomach turned over unpleasantly as he stared at the dried trail of blood running down his lover's inner thigh. The brown track trailed to the back of Cho's knee before fading on his calf. In addition to the blood trail, Jane took in the sight of numerous fainter brown marks where blood dampened hands had traveled. His gaze kept returning to the blood on Cho's inner thigh and the handprints on his ass.

"Damn it, Jane!" Lisbon's voice preceded her and it gave Jane the few seconds he needed to shake himself out of his stunned daze before she walked in. Rigsby and Van Pelt followed close behind.

"Fuck," Rigsby cursed feelingly.

Van Pelt's hand flew up to cover her mouth and she blinked rapidly in obvious attempt to hold back tears. A muffled oh my God came from behind her fingers.

Lisbon wasn't unaffected, but she recovered quickest. She snapped her fingers at Rigsby and pointed at Cho. "Help me get him down. Van Pelt, get in touch with Henley, he's meeting the ambulance."

Jane moved before the others could, unable to bear someone else reaching Cho first. His heart continued to beat a furious tattoo against his ribs. With the fear of what he might still find, that he was too late again, Jane stepped around to face Cho.

"Kimball," the name came out a little hoarse, but he got a reaction. Cho's head jerked a little, chin lifting from his chest an inch before slowly dropping back down again. A small grunt accompanied the movement. Jane swallowed hard and reached out to cup Cho's face with one palm. "Kim, I'm right here." He ignored the ache caused by Cho's initial flinch at his touch. "I'm going to take the blindfold off." He saw movement from the corner of his eye and continued, "Rigsby's going to guide you down."

Cho's lips formed the correct shape to answer Okay, but only his breath brushed against Jane's wrist. Jane's mind raced with worry and tried to come up with facts about dehydration and time tables. Keeping one hand against Cho's cheek, Jane reached around to pull the blindfold off from the back. Rigsby reached up for Cho's hands in the meantime but didn't make a move until Jane nodded.

"Jane, you've got to hold him up," Rigsby said, "I can't just let his arms drop."

"Okay." Jane stepped closer, again forcing himself to ignore the flinch of discomfort from Cho. Jane wrapped one arm around Cho's back in preparation of bracing his lover's weight. He guided Cho's head against his shoulder, and he could feel Cho gritting his teeth as Rigsby undid the chain overhead to get Cho's hand's free.

In less than a minute Jane heard the chain rattling free and heard the first sound from Cho since arriving. The high, pained note stopped quickly but the noise twisted in Jane's ear as he followed Rigsby's lead to lower Cho to the ground. Jane adjusted to kneel where he could support Cho in a reclining position from behind. By increments, Rigsby slowly lowered Cho's arms. Jane watched as both men grimaced with each movement. Cho's uneven breathing was the only other indication of pain.

"You got him?" Jane asked quietly, darting his gaze to see Rigsby's nod. Jane let Rigsby come closer to brace Cho for a few moments while Jane slid out of his jacket. Wordlessly he handed it to Rigsby as he reclaimed his primary support position.

Rigsby lay the jacket over Cho. He frowned and a moment later pulled back the edge to bare Cho's right thigh.

"What...?" Rigsby blanched, even in the limited light coming from outside the room Jane could see the agent was disturbed.

Jane looked down and saw the mess of dried blood that still managed to portray the morbid smiley face. Jane wasn't terribly surprised. As he noted the path that the bleeding had followed, he released a long sigh of relief. Jane closed his eyes and gasped quietly as he realized just how terrified he had been that Cho may have been—

The blood... the handprints...

Jesus.

Jane brushed a shaky hand over Cho's hair. "Any minute now," Jane said quietly. Cho hadn't fully opened his eyes yet. Every once and a while Jane caught a glimmer of light reflecting off eyes hidden by long lashes. Given the length of time Cho had spent blindfolded, Jane expected as much.

Van Pelt's agitated voice in the hall caught the men's attention. Jane and Rigsby turned to look out at Van Pelt and Lisbon.

"I told them we have an agent down!" Van Pelt said, her hand waving in emphasis.

Lisbon's arms were crossed tightly against her chest. Her lips pursed tight with anger but she had the look Jane recognized as her professional "I have to follow orders" expression. "Did you give them a summary of our situation?"

Van Pelt looked at the trio in the room with a frustrated expression. "Yes, and there is an EMT coming down, but the other ambulance is still five minutes out."

Jane interrupted with a sharp demand, "Other ambulance?"

Lisbon's eyes were hard when she glared at him. "Don't start. Units respond to the most critical cases first. We didn't know the situation and only had one call placed before we came into the house."

Jane's lip curled in revulsion. "We're left waiting here because someone wants to see to Red John first?"

"There are procedures, Jane!" Lisbon snapped.

If Jane hadn't been holding Cho, he would have been tempted to jump up and shake her in frustration. "To hell with procedure. He's a murderer! He's already choking to death on his own blood. What do they think they can do for him?"

Van Pelt made a sharp gesture that seemed to have no other meaning than to give her an outlet for her frustration. "There's still a chance he could live if they work fast enough. It depends how the bullet entered and where it got lodged."

Rigsby, quiet until that point, stood up and straightened to his impressive full height. Looking up at him from his position on the floor, Jane admitted that the usually gentle man appeared distinctly intimidating.

Lisbon took a deep breath, preparing to argue, no doubt, but she was saved from that by the sound of hurried footsteps coming down the stairs. A uniformed medical technician came into view with a boxy bag slung over her shoulder.

"Four minutes ETA," she announced on her way through the door. She moved quickly and efficiently, focusing on Cho immediately. "We need more light, is there something in here?"

Even as she searched, Van Pelt said, "I don't think so."

The EMT just nodded and pulled out a small flashlight from her bag. She switched it on and held it handle first to Jane. "Hold this where I tell you to, got it?"

Jane nodded, for the moment directing the light at the medical bag. Cho turned his face away from the light, eyes squeezed shut.

The EMT took a pair of scissors in her kit and cut through the rope around Cho's wrist. As she went about preparing a spot of skin on Cho's inner arm for the IV line, she verified what little information they knew of Cho's situation. She told the group bluntly that her qualifications were limited to basic necessities to secure patients for transport. Details of the events during Cho's capture would have to be ascertained more fully at the hospital to determine proper course of treatment. For the moment she would start Cho on fluids to begin counteracting the effects of dehydration.

---
Onto Part 11
---

Notes: Anyway, the GOOD NEWS is that I've done a little research (and I loved this blog) and resolved my thoughts on certain aspects of the rest of the story that were causing me to twiddle my thumbs.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
enmuse
Mar. 10th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
I can finally sing my song for you! (Yes, I have a SONG!)

DING DONG THE BITCH IS DEAD, WHICH OL' BITCH? THE PSYCHIC BITCH! DING DONG THE STUPID BITCH IS DEAD!

*cough* Ahem. Although that's totally what goes through my head with this scene, and it started back when I wrote it back in November. Because, yeah. I hate Kristina. XD

Out of curiosity, did you do the "highlight for further warnings" in the header at any point? It's the first time I've used that method.

I'm so glad to have your comments, they're quite motivating!
(Deleted comment)
enmuse
Mar. 15th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
=^.^=

Thanks so much for your encouragement and compliments. Way to melt me int a puddle of goo. ;)

I'm having a devil of a time pinning down my muses to get writing done. (Boo.) There's not all that many scenes left and yet I'm stuck. :p
(Deleted comment)
enmuse
Mar. 22nd, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
I think I need a Cho plushie and then he can be my muse... (Any bid I've made for plushies on help_japan has totally been with the intention to ask for a Cho plush. DO WANT.)

Muses being stubborn. >.> And now I need to write a fic for auction, too! lol I'm thinking it might be sort of tied into this Crimson & Gold 'verse... Well, it's an "X times + 1" style fic in my mind. Jane has to convince Cho to take a chance. ;)
(Deleted comment)
enmuse
Mar. 29th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
Well I put in a $35 on a plushie. *crosses fingers* Auction closes tomorrow... let's pray I win with that amount. I shouldn't even be putting that out there, but I'd really really really like a Cho plushie.

"Formula" fics always intrigue me. They can fail at times (well, any fic can) but I love when they're successful. :3 I think I've only written one in that format, though... it was for the crossover prompt of au_abc - and there's a prompt table I haven't worked on in a couple years!!
(Deleted comment)
enmuse
Mar. 15th, 2011 03:22 am (UTC)
lol Coherency is overrated. ;)
lelann137
Apr. 22nd, 2011 12:04 am (UTC)
this series is amazing. I'm holding my breath to see how it ends. thanks for sharing!
ps does it make me a bad person that I'm happy she's dead?
enmuse
Apr. 22nd, 2011 12:10 am (UTC)
Don't hold your breath! I don't want you to suffocate! (I'm taking too long, argggh....) It's nearly done, too. >.<

does it make me a bad person that I'm happy she's dead?
You are asking the wrong person, LOL. I still run around singing "ding dong the bitch is dead, which ol' bitch - the psychic bitch! ding dong the wicked bitch is dead~!"

*cough* Um. Yeah.
simca24
Apr. 22nd, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
*-*
I need more.

Please, give me more T_T
enmuse
Apr. 24th, 2011 02:33 am (UTC)
Re: *-*
With the semester wrapping up, I'm hoping to get back to this and finishing it. Glad you're liking it! <3
(Anonymous)
Sep. 21st, 2011 10:37 am (UTC)
complete?
I keep coming back and rereading this. I really like it.I hope you'll post its completion soon! *-* ^_^
enmuse
Sep. 21st, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC)
Re: complete?
Thank you for the encouragement! I'm so horrible at predicting when I'll finish something. >_> Certainly doesn't help when I'm bouncing around different fandoms! I haven't looked at this in several months, but this is definitely something I will finish... at some point. I certainly hope sooner rather than later!
teelaelmes
Oct. 4th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
<3 this fic!
I hope you are able to finish this soon. I really like it. Your fic kept me interested and kept me reading and wanting more! =]
enmuse
Oct. 4th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Re: <3 this fic!
Thanks so much! It's always wonderful to get encouraging comments. I hope to finish um... sooner rather than later! ^_^
kielamyis
Nov. 18th, 2011 08:26 am (UTC)
;3;
Oh, Cho. Oh, Jane. Oh, Cho and Jane!!! QAQ

This was wonderful, as always! I've happened upon random parts of this series before, but finally I've been able to read the whole thing through and it was GLORIOUS.

(Break for angelic Hallelujah choir)

Now I just want the next part...

Oh, Cho... ;____;
(Anonymous)
May. 5th, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC)
Omg this is so awesome, will you ever finish it? ;u;
enmuse
May. 6th, 2012 03:33 am (UTC)
Certainly some day it will be finished. There's more of it written and some general outlined ideas, but it's on the back burner for now. >_>
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )