Blood Red Moon
With his shirt was in tatters, his face paint almost gone, his black hair wild and loosed from its cue and his pointy teeth covered in long strings of saliva, Jeffrey Bukovy was a terrifying sight.
He straightened from his crouch, having landed on his feet like a cat, or a ninja, and he gazed at the four people, as if deciding the order of his menu. Appetizer, salad, main course, desert.
Patrick Jane swallowed. He had a very good idea what being dinner would feel like. He raised both hands in mock surrender.
Lisbon, fortunately, still had her weapon.
"Freeze! Police!" She braced her right hand with her left, index finger twitching at the ready. "Back on the floor! Hands on your head!"
Danae Harkness raised her knife, hoping that it might offer some protection against the man. Standing nearest the consultant, Kiara Arabia slipped in behind him, putting her hands on his shoulders like a human shield.
"Oh no no," said Jane, swiveling, trying to remove her hands. "Bad idea, bad idea…"
"See? Told you it was a bad idea! Lisbon!"
The shot rang out, deafening them in the small room, but still the painted man rushed forward and the three of them went down with a crash, a tangle of arms and legs and dark clothing. Kiara screamed and rolled out from under them, scrambling away behind the bar. Jane tried to get free, but he was pinned between the bar and the furious Goth. It was all he could do to keep the teeth and claws at bay. Another shot, and another, and finally, Bukovy flailed, trying to control his limbs, as his actions became little more than spasms. Suddenly, he grew still.
"Jane!" Lisbon panted, weapon still braced, moving sideways like a SWAT force commando. "Jane, are you okay?"
"Is he dead?" came the muffled reply.
Cautiously, she nudged Bukovy with her shoe. He didn't respond, so she pushed harder, flipping him over so that the consultant could wriggle his way out from under the bigger man. Jane sprang to his feet and darted behind Lisbon, peering around her at the figure on the floor, dark red stains spreading across the pale white flesh of the man's back and ribs. The gruesome face twitched, and Jane jumped.
"Maybe you should shoot him again, just in case…"
Lisbon snorted. The sound of sirens approaching, and she glanced over her shoulder. "Take my cuffs. We need to get Ms. Harkness into custody."
Jane snatched them and crossed the floor to Danae Harkness, keeping one eye on the body on the floor. "Hi. Sorry, I have to… you know…"
"You lied to me."
"Bah. You killed a woman. Rock, paper, scissors. Murder trumps lying."
And without any resistance from her, he gingerly took the knife, tossed it to the ground and placed first one, then the other, handcuff on Danae Harkness. Suddenly, she was Emily Johnson, personal assistant to a nightclub owner, and Jane turned to the woman behind the bar.
"What about her?"
Kiara Arabia straightened and strolled out from cover, tossing her head and smoothing her clothing, looking for all the world like she had just 'dabbled' behind the bar, nothing more. "What about me?"
"You tried to get Emily to kill me. That's a crime, isn't it, Lisbon? Isn't that a crime?"
Holstering her Glock, Lisbon couldn't help but grin. "Sorry, Jane. Many people would like to kill you. If that was a crime, half the state of California would be in jail."
He scowled at her, then turned back to Arabia. "You knew Emily would kill Natasha, didn't you? You wanted her to do it. You manipulated her from the start. You used her feelings for you to accomplish your ends…" Brows drawn in, he approached her, head cocked, curious. "In fact, I wonder if poor Jeffrey Bukovy wasn't another victim of your manipulations?
"Poor Jeffrey Bukovy?" she purred.
"Well, relatively speaking. Was he? Did he kill all those men, just for you? You wouldn't even have to say a word. Did you even know he existed?"
He was very close now. She smiled at him, as beautiful and desirable as ever. "I guess you'll never know."
And she ran her tongue across her lips, a gesture of desire and defiance.
"We can charge her on conspiracy," said Lisbon, fascinated that Jane always seemed drawn to women with criminal pasts, purposes or intent. "But I doubt it'll stick."
He backed away, shaking his head and grinning. "Ah, no justice, Lisbon. No justice."
And as they waited for the rest of the team to join them, sunbeams streamed through the high broken windows, for the first time illuminating the Gothic lounge in light, warmth and colour.
"Hm," muttered Jane, gaze fixed on the unmoving body of Jeffrey Bukovy. "He's not burning up. I thought vampires burned up in the sunlight."
"Vampires don't always burn in sunlight, Mr. Jane," Arabia purred. "Sometimes we just sparkle."
And as she smiled, her jewelry, hair and chocolate eyes sparkled as beautifully as anything Jane had ever seen. He swallowed, rubbed his throat and headed to the stairs.
"Take it off."
"You shouldn't be taking it off."
"No no, let's see what it looks like."
"Yeah, take it off, man. I wanna see."
"I'm getting a headache."
Patrick Jane grinned as he sat, surrounded by his hovering colleagues, and lifted eloquent fingers to the tegaderm dressing at his throat. He winced as he gingerly pulled one sticky edge away from the tender skin.
"Go on," urged Rigsby. "Pull."
"No, slowly," urged Van Pelt. "It's still bruised."
Lisbon shook her head. "You shouldn't be doing that…"
"Bah," snorted Jane. And he pulled it off in one swift go. "Ow."
They all leaned in, fascinated and repulsed at the same time. Two perfect puncture marks, now a dark purple, graced his neck like jewels.
"Wow," said Van Pelt. "Just like in the movies."
"Cool, man. Very cool."
"I'm getting coffee," muttered Cho and he left the room, looking for all the world like he was going to be sick.
Lisbon pursed her lips. "Well, it doesn't look infected." She straightened. "You're really lucky."
"Yep, that's me. Lucky."
Det. Reuben Franks smiled. "Well, I hate to admit it, but you guys are good. I mean, we would've solved this, but maybe not so quickly."
"Of course," said Lisbon.
"You know we would've."
"When Jupiter aligns with Mars," said Jane, rolling up the bandage and tossing a perfect two-pointer into the nearest wastebasket.
"Yeah, and when love rules the stars," Franks nodded, sheepishly. "Yeah, probably then. We, uh, got matches on 6 of the 8 dead men. They go back over two years."
Jane shrugged, happy to oblige.
A shrill voice rose above the conversation in the outer offices, and Lisbon recognized it immediately.
"Is he here? Is he here? Where, oh where, is Mr. Patrick Jane?"
Jane's head snapped up and he rose to his feet, looking at Lisbon, wide-eyed in panic. She grinned.
A woman in lime green silks swept into the makeshift office, followed by her dock-worker husband. Her face lit up when she spied Jane, pausing only slightly for dramatic effect, before hurrying forward and throwing her thin arms around his neck.
If he could have, he would have bolted, but she had him locked up good, and so he just grimaced, tried to smile, tried to look genuine as he tapped her back a few times for good measure. Still, she wouldn't let go. He reached around and took her hands, pulling them away as if consoling her. She beamed, grasped his hands now in a death grip, pulling them up to her face, very much in his personal space.
"I knew you would do it. I just knew. Didn't I, Vincent? Didn't I tell you Mr. Patrick Jane would be the one to solve this case? I just knew."
"Yes, pet," he grunted, grudgingly eying the consultant. "You did tell me."
"And you did, Mr. Jane. I knew you could reach our daughter. She was very much in tune with the spirit world. Like you."
"Yes, well," he slid his eyes to Lisbon, who was obviously enjoying this. "It was my pleasure."
"And thank you," added Lisbon. "For the rooms at the Fairmont. It isn't like our usual accommodations."
Anita Minor gasped, stretching the skin across her facial bones so tightly it looked like she might snap. "Yes, you poor dear. Now how many people can say they have been bitten by a vampire? Was it horrendous? Was it exciting? Was it transcendent?"
Despite himself, Jane grinned. "Transcendently painful."
"How exciting! And they put you in the VIP suite, didn't they? I told them to take special care of you. I did, didn't I, Vincent? I told them, 'now you take good care of Mr. Patrick Jane'…"
"Yes, pet, you told them."
Lisbon grinned. Finally, a woman Jane didn't know how to handle. There was something terribly odd about Mrs. Minor, but terribly honest, and she could tell he was perplexed and off-balance but perhaps a little bit charmed. At least he wasn't being nasty, as he had been with her husband. That, she realized, was a blessing.
Finally, the woman released her grip on Jane's hands, and stood back to admire him. "Ah, well, dear. Only the best for the best," she said in her singsong voice, and Rigsby and Van Pelt rolled their eyes.
"We, ah, have to get back to Sacramento," said Jane. "More…dead people…"
"Ah yes, your work is never done, is it? You have such a gift…"
Cho had walked in the room with his coffee, and at that statement, he turned on his heel and walked right out again.
"One more thing before you fly off…" She turned over a palm, eyes glittering. "Please, do me the honor."
He stared at her, brows furrowed, not entirely certain what she was asking. He hadn't read palms in more years than he could remember, certainly not during his career as renowned psychic and most certainly never as a consultant with the CBI. He was, quite frankly, puzzled.
Curious, now, he took her hand, getting a weight of it, a feel of it, thin, bony, delicate, nails painted elaborate fuchsia, a multitude of rings, but there was something about it, something wrong. He pulled it closer, studied the condition of her nails, the cuticles, the skin. Turned it over, traced her lifeline with his thumb, paused, traced it again. Moved his fingers up to the pulse on her wrist. Finally, he looked at her. He didn't know how to say it.
Her expression said it all. "It's alright, dear. I know. I will be following my daughter very soon, won't I?"
"I just wanted to know for sure." She smiled at him, a silent screen starlet, fading in the wake of sound. She turned and laid a hand on her husband. "We may go now, handsome. Please take me home."
And the Deputy Mayor and his enigmatic wife left the office, as abruptly as they had come.
Jane put his hands in his pockets, thinking. Lisbon gave him a nudge.
"So?" she asked, "What was that all about?"
He looked at her. "Ovarian cancer. She's dying."
Lisbon felt the smile fade from her face. "Oh…"
Franks shook his head. He now knew better than to question.
Lisbon offered her hand. "Thanks, Det. Franks, for all your help."
Handshakes all around, except for Jane, whose hands remained firmly thrust in his jacket pockets. Franks pulled back, looked at his feet, clearly uncomfortable.
"Uh, sorry man, if I dissed you before. No hard feelings?"
"Reuben, you're an ass," Jane said, matter-of-factly. "Good-hearted, yeh, and well-meaning, but small-minded, under-achieving, pedantic and utterly linear. This is the end of the line for you, my friend, unless you make some changes. Call your wife. Take care of your mother. Be better than your job. Make things right. You have no idea the price of regret."
He turned to Lisbon. "I'll be waiting in the van." And he turned on his heel and walked out of the office.
"Well," she said, shrugging, her face pained but unapologetic. "Goodbye."
There was really nothing else to say, and the CBI team left the Eddy Street station and the Tenderloin vampires, far far behind.
The flight back to Sacramento was not as packed as the flight out of Sacramento had been, and they sat in a row near the back. They had enjoyed a big dinner at the Tongo Lounge of the Fairmont before leaving, its Pacific Rim cuisine promising flavours unknown to the American palette. Jane had debated on choosing the Puffer fish, but when they had reminded him of the previous consequences of grilled octopus, he decided on the salmon just to be safe.
Van Pelt and Rigsby sat next to each other, playing some sort of Dutch card game. Rigsby was losing badly, already having lost at least five dollars, and probably into her for a lot more. Lisbon grinned. He didn't seem to mind. Cho was reading a book, one Van Pelt had given him to help him overcome his pathological fear of vampires. It was a black hardcover, with cover-art illustration of two hands holding an apple. Cho was quite engrossed. In fact, at one point, Lisbon could have sworn she saw him wipe a tear from his eye.
Jane was next to her, and she watched him from the corner of her eye. He had the window seat and he had been very quiet on this flight, eyes heavy and frequently closing as they stared out into the dark night sky. Earlier, she had seen him toss back two small white pills, anitbiotics or pain killers she couldn't tell, and down them with an airline Scotch, served in a clear plastic cup. She shook her head, wondering how long he could go on sheer force of will alone, and when all his coping mechanisms would coming crashing down in tatters around him.
Part of her wanted to be there when it happened. The other part was terrified at the prospect. Whenever it happened, it wouldn't be pretty.
She caught him looking at her and he smiled.
"Wanna see a magic trick?" he asked softly.
She smiled in return. "Sure."
"Pull out the fortune cookie that's still in your pocket."
Pursing her lips, she did what she was told.
"Now, open it up, break it in half, give me a piece because I'm starving, and read the fortune out loud."
She grinned again, did what she was told, handed him half the cookie, which he popped into his mouth and munched happily. She popped the other piece, and carefully unfolded the tiny rolled slip of paper.
"What does it say?"
"'Magic is all around you. In fact, it's closer than you think.'"
He grinned. "Abracadabra." And leaned back in his seat, casting his eyes out the window once again.
"Did you pick my pocket?"
"And removed the cellophane wrapping, broke open the cookie, took out the fortune, slipped in a new one, sealed both the cookie and the wrapping back up again, and put it all back in your pocket without you noticing? Yes, of course, I did all that."
She furrowed her brow. "Then, how did you do it?"
He closed his eyes, smiling. "Magic."
She snorted, shook her head, closed her own eyes to try to get some sleep.
Her cell phone rang. It was Reuben Franks.
"This is Lisbon. Yeah? What?....You're kidding. You're kidding!....That's impossible! Okay, keep me posted, but remember, this is no longer our case, got it? You guys can handle it from here…Right."
She hung up, all her team's eyes on her.
She cleared her throat.
"There was a fire downtown Tenderloin. The distillery, Goth Shop and Club burned to the ground. Kiara Arabia has disappeared. Her apartment has been cleared out and SFPD has an APB out on her for questioning."
They sat for a moment, taking it all in.
"And?" said Jane.
"And what else?"
"Nothing. There's nothing else."
She pursed her lips again, frowning. "Well, don't get all paranoid…"
"Okay." She paused, glancing from face to face at her team. "Jeffrey Bukovy's body has disappeared from the morgue and the coroner was sent to hospital with bite marks on his neck."
Silence again from the back of the plane.
Cho closed the vampire book with a thwap. Van Pelt snagged it and clutched it to her chest, sighing. Rigsby glanced over at Jane. "Very cool."
Patrick Jane raised a hand to rub his throat and swallowed. Hard.
Teresa Lisbon smiled, closed her eyes and slept the rest of the flight back to Sacramento.