Paint It Red, Black & Blue

Chapter 7

It was night by the time the choppers reached the Monterey airfield, and another pair of dark SUVs were waiting to take them into the seaside town of Carmel. Lisbon and Cho took one, Rigsby and Van Pelt the other. The Monterey PD was at their disposal, and each vehicle had a squad car assigned to lead them through the winding streets. Lisbon elected not to drive, letting Cho take that job. Arlov had called while they were in the chopper en route to the coast and she was still going over the call in her head.

"Please take him home," the Russian had said. "He is making me crazy, painting faces on my boat."

Honestly, she couldn't imagine what the man was talking about. He also had seemed very insistent that Patrick Jane was insane. Quite insane. It didn't matter. They could expect Jane to be dropped off on one of the many small public beaches that graced Carmel's affluent neighbourhoods, and she found herself grateful that he wasn't being dropped off at many of those small beaches. It implied the term "one piece" but with Arlov, there was no guarantee.

Carmel-by-the-Sea was what people might call a hamlet. Quaint European styled homes and high-end boutiques lined the narrow streets. The cool night air was heavy with the smells of flowering shrubs and salt, but other than the rush of waves, it was very quiet. She was impressed that there were so few streetlights to be seen, adding to the peace, the exclusivity of the area, and they had to follow closely to the car in front to avoid getting lost in the maze of short walled drives, one way streets and cobblestones.

She shook her head. The 'For Sale' signs were here too, just like in Sacramento, but nothing for less than a few million, she guessed. She knew that there were homes here that sold for one hundred times more than she made in a year, and marveled at the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

The car radio squawked and she picked up. It was the MPD dispatch. Their officers were patrolling the beaches, and apparently they had turned up something, just miles from the gated community of Pebble Beach. Her heart in her throat, they made some tight turns and headed to the beach.

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"Surfers called it in. He's just sitting there. It's weird."

She nodded to the uniformed patrolman and walked to the dark edge where the pavement met the sand, where a "Beach Closed after 10:00pm" sign and guard rope did little to prevent the moonlight swimmers or surfers that frequented the area. Cho fell in beside her, as the second SUV pulled up, and she waved the beam of a flashlight into the night.

The waves rolled and rushed and the wind had picked up, but it was a beautiful night. She could tell it was Jane by the set of his shoulders, the cut of the waist-coat, the way he sat on the sand. It was very dark, the moon almost a sliver now, but still she could tell. He was alone on the beach, watching the waves, not moving a muscle and he didn't even turn as she approached. She checked him over with her flashlight.

His right arm was in some sort of makeshift sling, but other than that, he seemed in one piece. It was too dark to see otherwise.

"Hey," she said.

At first, she didn't think he'd heard her, but then he turned his face, his eyes registered and he smiled. "Oh. Hello." Matter of fact. Like nothing had happened. His face was sunburned, she could tell, and bruised. Red, black and blue.

"Um, how are you doing?"

"Fine." And he turned away to stare out at the ocean.

She glanced at Cho, Rigsby and Van Pelt, shifting nervously in the sand behind her.

It was all she could do to stop the shaking. She wanted to drop to her knees, hold him, slap him, hit him, heal him. Far too many emotions were at war within her, fear, relief, fatigue, desire, fury. He pushed buttons without even knowing it, buttons she didn't even know she had.

Of all the emotions, the one she most easily rely on was fury. It was a mask for all the others. She put her hands on her hips and pushed her weight to one foot. "Do you really want to sit here all night? Because I could go home and get some sleep and come back for you in the morning. Or maybe the team and I will go grab some dinner. 'Cause, I don't know about you, but we've been worried sick and I haven't eaten for two days. Hey, we could come back and have a little picnic on the beach. How does that sound?"

"Dinner?" That caught his attention. "Dinner sounds good."

She wanted to pull out her hair.

"D'okaaay? Nooow?" She frowned, eyebrows drawn up in frustration. "Is there a problem?"

"I can't move."

"Oh! Oh geez. Oh geez, I'm sorry. Cho! Rigsby!" They were there even before she called their names, flanking him, slipping arms underneath his to gently help him to his feet. He let out a stream of "Ow ow ows" and yelps and groans, but eventually, they got him to his feet. The two men stayed right beside him.

"My jacket," he added. "Don't forget my jacket." It was sitting in a pile beside him in the sand.

As soon as he was standing, he began to brush himself off, his waist-coat, his pants, his sling. She shook her head in amazement. He was fastidious.

He looked up at them and smiled, his patented Patrick Jane smile. "Dinner?"

She grinned, her patented lop-sided grin. "Let's go. sailor boy."

He got all of three steps before he collapsed, Rigsby and Cho catching him before he hit the ground.

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St. Vincent Carmel Hospital was very much like the community it served – wealthy, cutting edge, caring, profitable. Big dollars had gone into it from its inception, and the staff and facilities were second to none. But much to Teresa Lisbon's chagrin, it seemed no amount of money, pride or professionalism in the world could have prepared them for Patrick Jane.

He was speedily discharged within 8 hours, a record time for the treatment of sunstroke, and he received innumerable pints of IV fluids, countless needles filled with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and painkillers, and dozens of cold packs to stabilize his wildly fluctuating body temperature. Added to all that, he received multiple sutures for a very strange laceration on his right hand and a single Xray to verify that his wrist (his radius, actually, one of the two bones of his forearm) was indeed broken and had to be cast. They had repeatedly offered to sedate him, as he had not stopped talking from the moment he had awakened, but she firmly believed the sedation would have been entirely for their benefit, not his. The nurses, he had alternately charmed and infuriated, the doctors he had alternately challenged and belittled, and she had to admit that the long, long list back in her office had probably just grown by several pages.

He went quiet, however, when they got him on the helicopter for the short flight back to Sacramento, and said even less as she drove him to his house.

It was early morning now, as they pulled up to the architecturally beautiful home, with its California Redwood siding, multiple rooflines and vast windows. Someone was obviously paid to maintain the landscaping (she just couldn't picture Jane as a gardener, although he likely knew the Latin names for every shrub and plant on his property, and the conditions each required for optimum growth.) The sun gleamed on the windows and it appeared that the irrigation system had just shut itself off. Altogether a picture of peace and beauty, stability and security. The inside, she knew, was a different story.

He made no move to get out of the car, and she made no move to make him.

"Thank you," he said finally.

A myriad of responses ran through her head, some encouraging, some sarcastic, all unoriginal, so she settled for a simple "You're welcome." That seemed to please him, for he smiled to himself. It made the bruises less noticeable.

"Jane?" she asked, swallowing her hesitation. "Were you scared?'

"Hmm?" For the first time in hours, he looked at her. "Scared? Of Arlov? Nah. He's a thug. He wanted to prove a point. I let him. It was a good point."

"Oh?" She raised her eyebrows. "And what was it?"

"Ah," he grinned. "I need to stop provoking dangerous men."

She snorted. "Like that's gonna happen anytime soon."

He almost laughed, and she thought that sometimes he looked like a little boy. A very smart little boy who kept picking school-ground fights with all the bullies he could find. He was proving a point too, no doubt, but he might just get himself killed in the process.

"If you need some time off…"

"Idle hands are the devil's workshop."

"Right." She grinned again. "Well, if you need anything…"

He wanted to say something, she could tell, but nothing came out. Tongue-tied? Not likely. Stubborn? Proud? Quite. But there was something else, something different, just out of reach…

"Anything at all…" There was nothing else she could say, handing him the opportunity on a silver platter. She hated herself for holding her breath.

"Fools and madmen…" he muttered cryptically, almost to himself.

"Sorry? What?"

His smile said it all. "Nothing… I'm fine. Really." He slipped out of the car, a little less gracefully than usual. "See you tomorrow." And with that, he walked up the steps that led to the door of his house. He did look back as he went inside, waved his little wave – Yes, go now, please – as if to say, and then he was gone, closing the door on more than one thing behind him.

She sat for a moment, words running through her mind. Jane's – fools and madmen. Arlov's - quite insane. How would you know if someone were 'quite insane?' She was probably the closest person to him. Would she know if he were quite insane? Would he? She roared the engine into reverse, cursing the sudden urge to cry, and tore off back to the city.

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Patrick Jane walked up those stairs like he had a hundred times before. Passed the red wall, once filled with family photos framed in black. Paused, as always, with his hand on the door knob, and as always, he had to take a deep breath before entering the room. It was different today, as he rarely entered in the daytime, it almost always only at night, and then he would never turn on the lights. This room was burned into his memory. He didn't need to see. Today, the sun streamed in the large windows, making spotlights on the wall.

It was colourless, save for the red.

"Were you scared?" she had asked. Yes, very. Terrified, in fact, but not of Arlov, he had wanted to tell her, not of Arlov, but of himself.

He stood for a long time, his stare going from the face to his cast and back again. It had tripped a dangerous wire, what he had done with the knife on the deck of Arlov's boat. He lived on that wire most of the time, a balancing act kept in check only by his newfound need for reform and revenge. The celebration of life in the single-minded pursuit of death. But he had strayed too far this time, embraced too much, and it shook him to his very core.

The face was smiling at him.

"What do we do?" he asked aloud, Arlov's question, as if the face would answer.

No, not the face. His wife. She would know. He need only imagine.

And then she was there, her face in his mind, her dark eyes gentle yet amused. You're asking me? she would taunt, playful, elusive. He could hear her as if she were standing right there, before him.

"Why won't you let me follow?"

She would reach for him, stroke his face, shake her head. He could see it all. Not your time, love. Not yet. Besides, she would push him away, scrunching her nose, You need to take a shower. Get out of those clothes. You smell like a dead fish.

He smiled. That's exactly what she would say. In another lifetime, she would join him in the shower, trying to keep him quiet so as not to alert their daughter to their activities. He would deliberately not be quiet, thereby provoking her too.

He didn't bother wiping the tears that were running down his cheeks as his imagination waned and was replaced by the face on the wall. He sighed.

"I need to stop provoking dangerous men."

He grinned. Fools and madmen.

"You're right, Lisbon. That's not going to happen anytime soon…"

And still smiling, he headed for the shower, alone, pleased that this time, Teresa Lisbon had been right.

The end