Turning Tables Red
"You're joking." Special Agent Teresa Lisbon swung around to look at the man standing next to her. Senior Special Agent David Rossi shrugged. "It's an angle. It makes a certain sense. We need to pursue it. Do you have a problem with that, Agent Lisbon?"
"No. I'm fine."
"Good. Watch and trust, Teresa. We're the good guys too, remember?"
She tried to smile. She liked this man, these men. They were not like other profilers she had met. They seemed very grounded in their humanity in a profession that did it's best to drive the humanity out every day. It was obviously a battle they fought with in every case, to look into the deepest, darkest depths of the human mind, see what they had seen, know what they had known, and come out of it intact. Still human. Amazing.
She turned back to the silent room beyond the mirror. Jane was staring at the photo, the Red John smiley face that had just morphed into some sort of grim caricature of himself. It was bizarre, but he wasn't protesting. Just analyzing, thinking, observing.
Then, quite suddenly, he sat up straight, smiled and shook his head.
"I missed it. There. I've said it. It's out and can never be retracted. I confess I've never seen it like that before."
Hotchner smiled, this time it seemed genuine, warm, reassuring. "Why would you? You weren't looking for a connection."
"No, I wasn't. Please tell me."
Lisbon threw her hands in the air. "What is going on? How is the red smiley face a portrait of Jane? That's… that's ridiculous!"
Rossi leaned forward, pressed the intercom button. "Dr. Reid, could you please briefly describe your hypothesis for Agent Lisbon?"
The young man brightened. "Oh, yeah sure. Um, okay, look at this…"
He took the photo back from Jane, held it up and began to make gestures with his pencil. "Okay, the circle is always incomplete, right? Never closed, and that is significant. And since this is representative of a human face, the peak at the top can only be taken to represent hair. It's not a cap, as it's part of the organic design, and I mean, there aren't many people with heads that have peaks like that, are there? Not too many peaky-headed people…" He grinned, looked at his companions, cleared his throat and went back to the photo. "So this is making a point about the distinctiveness of the subject's hair."
"Curly blonde hair is genetically rare in Caucasian populations," said Hotchner.
Jane shook his head. "Curly hair is genetically dominant –"
"But blonde is recessive. You need a remarkable combination of genes to generate those variables."
"Hmm." Jane nodded, then smiled, as if remembering something. "Look at that," his wife had said as she ran her trembling fingers across the newborn's scalp. "Blonde curls. Just like her daddy. My lovely little baby girl…"
"And then there's the eyes," Reid continued, engrossed in the portrait. "Normal Caucasian eyes are not slanted unless there are, again, genetic variables. And I don't mean slanted as in Oriental or Occidental populations." Jane's fingers had gone to his eyes, pressing and pushing them into different shapes. Again, he seemed puzzled. "No, this version of the slant comes from the structure of the skull and cheekbones, and subsequent shape of the zygomatic and maxillary bones of the orbit…Um, eye socket," he said, for Lisbon's sake, no doubt. "It is indicative of either Native North American or Australian Aboriginal ancestry somewhere in the subject's history…"
"Australian…" muttered Jane, still pushing his eyes around.
Lisbon raised her eyebrows. Australian? She should have guessed.
"They don't look slanted on casual expression, but when you smile, Mr. Jane, it is very obvious. Which brings us to our third marker… the smile."
Jane went back to looking at Reid's drawings. "I see no difference in the smiles. They both appear the same."
"Precisely. They are the same. This is, after all, a smiley face." And Reid smiled, a kid happy to be impressing a parent. No malice, no guile, no conceit, just simple pleasure in the act of sharing. Lisbon huffed. He seemed like a good kid.
As if sensing her thoughts, he looked over at the mirror. "Is there anyone in the world that you know, Agent Lisbon, who smiles as much as Mr. Jane? Who uses his smile so effectively that it is almost a trademark? In fact, wouldn't you say that all three of these components work together in combination to give Mr. Jane a physical edge in his work? That they, in combination, are three of the most distinctive qualities about Mr. Jane, physically speaking that you could think of. I mean, three that could be so easily captured in a minimum of strokes. Red John's not about to draw a, a, a guy in a three-piece suit or a waist-coat or anything… I mean, he's a killer, he has things to do, people to see, not just draw on walls with blood and all that…"
"I like your vest," said Jane.
"I like yours too. But this is more me, don't you think? I don't look good in suits. They hang wrong."
"Yeah, my shoulders are too narrow."
"Yeah. You could do a waist-coat. Waist-coat and jeans?"
Reid brightened. "Kick it up a notch?"
Jane grinned. He seemed tired. "Go get her, tiger…"
Reid blushed yet again.
She was convinced that the pair of them would have kept going if Hotchner hadn't cleared his throat. Reid grimaced. "Um, sorry. Um, so does that make sense? Agent Lisbon?"
She nodded, pressed the intercom button. "Yes, thanks. No wait! Those conclusions are subjective. You could be fitting the portrait to look like Jane, because he is a person of interest."
"Could be but didn't. In fact, Dr. Reid made these conclusions many years ago as a part of his entrance exam to get into the BAU. He was given the face to interpret cold and this was his analysis. He saw it as a portrait of a Caucasian male with distinctive hair, likely curly blonde but that was open to interpretation, with some Native North American or Australian Aboriginal ancestry and likely gregarious, sociable or graced with a instantly likeable smile. The description was written after the 3rd killing, when Mr. Jane wasn't even being asked to consult on the case. It's in our files."
"Why wasn't I shown it before?"
"You never asked. Would you like us to assume control of this case?"
She sighed, stared at Rossi for a long moment, then sighed. "Not yet."
Rossi tried to smile. "After his family was killed, Mr. Jane became a person of interest in this case. He was the first and only person to have been directly targeted by Red John, directly contacted. It was a possible fit then, a long shot. It was shelved, but not forgotten."
Rossi nodded. "Yes. Until Tijuana."
"Okay," she said into the intercom. "I get it. Sorry."
No one spoke for a long time. So long, in fact, that she was about to suggest breaking for coffee when Jane suddenly stood up. No one else in the room moved, they seemed not to have noticed, Hotchner continuing to read his notes, Reid drawing variations of the smiley face on the back of the photo. Jane shoved his hands into his jacket and began to pace.
After a while, Reid cleared his throat. "Can I ask you a question?"
Jane didn't stop pacing. "Um, spelling bees."
"Ah," said Reid. Hotchner nodded. So did Rossi.
"Spelling bees?" Lisbon swung around to face Rossi, fully convinced that if she had to, she could take him. "Okay, humour me again? What the hell are they talking about? Spelling bees??!!"
Rossi smiled. "It's common really. The human brain is a most fascinating thing, but most people think it is in utter control of the body. Whereas, in reality, the body is so intricately connected that most people can't even add two plus two without the body showing some outward physical sign."
Her dark brows drew in. She was so out of her league. 'Uh-huh?"
"In spelling bees, it is most common to see the children utilizing their hands, fingers, feet or other body parts to help reinforce the thought process, in this case the sounding out, breaking down of words, searching for root and suffix and prefix that is integral in the entire sequence of spelling, and in fact, using the rhythms they have established to help keep the brain connected, wired, firing, as it will…"
"Okay. But what has that got to do with Jane?"
"Have you never noticed Mr. Jane's hands?"
She tried so hard not to blush. "They, um, they're always moving." She furrowed her brow again. "Yes, they're always moving. He does weird things with his fingers. He touches people a lot, uses his hands all the time." She looked up. "Yes, he does."
"All the time?"
"Um," she had to think. There were things in her subconscious she was sure to have noticed. Jane's gift was accessing that subconscious so easily.
"When you go to a crime scene,' Rossi prodded, "What does he do? Does he examine the body? Ask questions? Anything like that?"
"Sometimes, but usually he just looks."
"And what are his hands doing when he's observing?"
"They're usually behind his back…" Her eyes grew big. "Or in his pockets."
Rossi smiled. "Exactly. Why?"
She cleared her throat, straightened her shoulders. She could do this. She wasn't a rookie. "Okay, if the hands are helping the brain think, then to shove them in your pockets would be to stop them from helping. To stop the brain from the activity of thinking…" She was getting it, she was on a roll. "To free up the mind to be able to observe, pure and simple, to see everything, record every mentally, without the immediate need to analyze or categorize or interpret, just be open to what's really going on around you…" She smiled. Rossi returned it.
"Your Mr. Jane is a smart one. He's been feeding my agents false signals all throughout this interview, false body language, false intonations. He's been playing with them. This is the first time he's relaxed enough, or tired enough, to be truly genuine." Rossi turned back to the mirror. "Now we're finally going to meet the real Mr. Jane."
She released her breath. She was exhausted, mentally and physically. She needed a coffee. No, she needed a drink.
"We'll go out for a drink after this is all over, I promise," said Rossi, grinning. He wasn't even looking at her.
She shook her head. She should be used to it by now.
"So gentlemen, are you telling me that I am now somehow responsible for the deaths of …" She could see him counting in his head. '8 more people? Ten, including my wife and daughter? Plus Jared Renfrew and Juana Braga, the Mexican hooker? Twelve people?"
Hotchner leaned forward. "No, Red John is responsible for the deaths of twelve people, Mr. Jane, not you. There is simply some sort of connection."
Jane shook his head, continued pacing, hearing Hotchner but talking as if to himself. "That is not what you're saying, Special Agent/Unit Chief. Not what you're saying at all… You could have done that with a phone call."
Hotchner sighed and shook his head, seeming to know better than to argue. "At some point, you will need to examine your life, think about your childhood, your family growing up, friends in school-"
"School?" He looked up, something odd, flat, in his eyes. "Do you honestly think I went to school?"
Lisbon blinked. Who didn't go to school? Carnies? He had hinted at growing up a carnie, a carnival kid. Didn't they need to go to school? She realized that she assumed so much about life. That was what set him apart. He assumed nothing.
Again, Hotchner seemed unfazed. "School, colleagues, career rivals, etc. Someone is trying to talk to you Mr. Jane. Someone you know. Someone who hates you very, very much but desperately wants your attention…"
Jane's pacing brought him to the mirror, and he stopped, squared himself to face it, to the far right of the glass. Damn, Lisbon thought, he's standing right in front of me. How did he know?
Slowly he pulled his right hand out of his pocket, placed fingers and thumb on the lower part of the glass. He looked right at her.
"I can't do it, Teresa," he said softly. "Twelve people? I can't. I just… I can't."
She moved toward the glass, not caring that Rossi was watching, and put her fingers atop his, only a cold piece of polished metal between them. There was nothing at all she could say.
He dropped his hand and walked over to the far end of the room. In fact, it seemed as if he was leaving the room, the interview done, when he turned and slowly leaned back against the wall, hands still deeply thrust inside the pockets. When he drew them out again, it made her shiver.
In his left hand, a white gold wedding ring. Small. Expensive. A woman's.
In his right hand, a tooth. Small, pearly white. A child's.
He looked down at the ring. "They gave this to me afterward, after they didn't need it for evidence any more. I didn't care about the engagement ring, although they said I was crazy. It was 3 carats. I gave it to a bag lady downtown. She was begging for beer money. I hope she bought a lot of beer…"
He looked down at the tooth, and smiled, so big, so sad, it was all Lisbon could do to keep her tears back. "Pathetic, isn't it? It's a stupid, sentimental thing. She had this little tooth fairy dish, made of white porcelain, with this little green fairy sitting on the top. We put her first tooth in there, the first one to fall out when she was five. She lost it early. Why we kept it, I don't know. My wife kept it on her dresser. It's stupid, sentimental, a parent thing I guess. But one night, after…just… after, I uh started…damaging things in the house, and I remember sweeping everything off her dresser with my hand. I was angry, I guess. Tired, sad, all of the above, take your pick, but then, I noticed the little dish flying through the air, hitting the wall. I tell you, I've never looked so hard for anything in all my life, than that little tooth. It was the last, the only…piece of her I would ever have…"
Ever so slowly, he folded his fingers back over his palms, closing both the ring and the tooth away, and slipped them back into his pockets. When he finally looked up again, he was calm, composed. In control.
"I am not Red John." It was a statement.
"I know," said Hotchner.
"But if he's a person from my past…"
"I believe he is."
"Then I will find him…"
"I believe you will."
"And I will kill him."
"That remains to be seen. You are… changing, after all…" Hotchner gave him a little smile.
"The underlying human nature –"
"Yeah," Hotchner interrupted. "That's bullshit. I was just trying to throw you."
"Job well done."
The two agents stood up, gathered their papers into the appropriate folders and crossed the floor to the door. Spencer Reid stuck out his hand. Jane took it.
"Mr. Jane, it's been a pleasure. Well, not really a pleasure, you know what I mean, a pleasure to meet you, not a pleasure to... you know…"
Jane grinned. "Love and affection, Dr. Reid. You can do it."
Blushing like a high school kid on his first date, Reid slipped out of the room. Hotchner next, his hand out, waiting. Lisbon held her breath, ready for the electrical charge like before, but Jane paused, stared at the hand, looked him in the eye and took it, one handed, as open and natural as breathing. They shook.
"If you are ever interested…" began the moon.
"I hate Virginia," said the sun. "Too many trees. They're always watching."
Hotchner grinned, released Jane's hand, and stepped out of the room, where Rossi and Lisbon were waiting.
They all shook hands as well, Hotchner pulling her close for the briefest of moments. "Watch him, " he said, under his breath. "He's now going to be trying to carry the guilt of twelve people on his shoulders. It won't fit and things will spill out. If you need any help, you can call us anytime. Do you understand?"
"Thank you." She nodded, not sure if he was being helpful or not. "Um, Dept. Chief Minnelli wants to have a word before you leave…"
"We'll go see him now," said Rossi, but he paused and swung back to her. "Did you want to catch us on those drinks, Agent Lisbon?"
She smiled. "Maybe next time."
They understood. More than she knew, she feared. They filed out of the room and were gone, leaving the clock ticking quietly after them.
She stepped into the interrogation room, where Jane was still leaning against the wall, not looking at anything in particular. She pushed him on the arm. He looked at her and sighed.
"Now I know what a gopher feels like when it meets an 18 wheeler."
"You are no gopher."
She grinned. "Nope."
He grinned back. "Antelope?"
She turned and walked out of the room.
"Cow? Grizzly bear? Bicyclist? Zombie?"
"Dingo!" she called back over her shoulder. "You're a flippin' Australian Dingo!"
"Australian? I never said I was Australian…"
He shoved his hands into his pockets and shook his head. "Croikey, what a Sheila…" And he jogged to catch up with her and together they went to the office, where there was another case waiting for them.