The Red Dress (Kimball Cho)

The bar is far too crowded for a Wednesday night. There's people and laughter all around them, there are half a million different noises and too many couples dancing on the far away corner where there are no tables.

The bar is far too much of a happy place for what it should be after the case they had.

Orphan children, a net of pedophiles and no happy endings. Not even mid fair endings since the net had been orchestrated by a member of the diplomatic corp. of Wherever. All those poor innocent children, and nobody to pay in jail for his sins.

Kimball Cho sighs and sips of his bottle of beer slowly getting drunk. That's the plan they have established for this kind of messes, getting drunk till the world doesn't feels like such a bad place anymore, hell, till nothing feels bad anymore aside from the alcohol burning their empty stomachs, then head home and pass out.

It doesn't thrill his wife but it's not a bad plan.

Rigsby nurses his scotch while talking softly and without much passion with Van Pelt about the good old times for the fire department. She looks interested, though, what he can't decide is if she looks interested in the topic or in Rigsby himself. Maybe a mix of both. Her cheeks are a little redder than usual, her eyes are brighter and her third glass of whatever she is taking, not much emptier than the rest.

God bless her. He just brings the beer to his lips again and tries to will the booze into kicking in.

It's been a couple of minutes since The Boss has gotten up and disappeared into the noisy crowd and now Cho can get glimpses of her at the bar looking miserable and tired, thinner than usual. He doesn't need to be Jane to know that she hasn't slept in ages and that she has taken the case pretty bad.

Pretty, pretty bad.

"She is not going to come back."

He says it to nobody but is Jane who answers.

"No"

Even Patrick Jane seems off tonight. He isn't smiling, his vest is unbuttoned and his eyes look older even than the ancient way they do on a normal day.

Cho nods and ends his fourth bottle of beer just in time to start feeling the warmth in the tips of his ears that indicates he's starting to get drunk.

Good.

"Maybe she is not well," he says out of the blue, "The boss, she doesn't look well."

Jane smiles slightly and raises his own bottle of beer. "None of us do, Cho" and takes a gulp.

He is probably right, he is right almost all the time, it´s not something that bothers him. Cho's never been that kind of guy, the one that needs to compete with other guys and be better. No, he likes his job – well, at least most of the time- he likes to do it the best that he can and he is pretty good at it, if Jane can come and enter his interrogation room and help them fill in the blanks, that's more than fine with him.

Van Pelt asks him a question sounding perky and funny and more than a little tipsy and Jane looks over the table with the beginnings of a smile in his eyes that never quite reach the rest of his face. Cho feels himself lose interest even before he can answer.

He drinks and finishes his own bottle while watching the people around them. He likes to do so, to observe people; he obviously can't read them as Jane does but still he likes to watch them talk and move and just be.

There's something mesmerizing about the subtle ways in which people reveal their true selves when they think nobody is looking, and he knows it might sound weird and maybe even a little creepy, but the truth is that looking at all those people in their working suits, trying to let their problems behind in order to have a connection with other human beings, comforts him at a fundamental level. Just people, everywhere, human and alive, all searching for the same thing and not the monsters at disguise that they find more oftern than not at work.

Jane gets up then and leaves too following Lisbon steps and for several minutes no one says anything aside asking the waitress for another of the same. The noise around them sounds distant and their faces start to sport goofy grins from time to time.

First phase of the plan accomplished. They're drunk.

"He is not going to come back," says Rigsby looking at the spot where Jane has disappeared into the crowd.

"No" confirms Cho.

He gets more comfortable in his own seat and plays with the label of his empty bottle waiting for the next one to arrive.

"Do you think there's something going on between those two?" Van Pelt's smile is wide and contagious and she has an air of conspiracy when she speaks that makes her look way too young for their line of work.

Rigsby lowers his head too, joining the conspiracy game team with wide open eyes, "Jane and the boss?"

Cho shakes his head, not as much to the idea of the Boss and Jane -which by the way, is not something he's given much thought to- but to the direction the conversation is taking, so when the waitress arrives with his sixth and last beer, he just takes one long gulp and goes back to staring people, ignoring altogether the other two talk.

He relaxes, and drinks and stares for some time till something catches his attention; a woman with long dark hair and a red dress -not too tight and not too revealing but inspirational enough- looking for a familiar face among the human sea. She is nothing like his wife but the woman's red dress reminds him of her at their second date and he smiles.

It's getting late and he is getting too drunk, and unlike others he is lucky enough to have a warm home to go back to, even if his wife would give him hell for getting home wasted.

He stand up and look into his pockets for some cash to pay for his beers, and leaves two bills of twenty dollars trapped under his half empty bottle.

"I'm heading home guys."

He doesn't wait for an answer. It's his time to go.