Running Through Red Lights
Disclaimer: Don't own anything…lyrics by Dido.
Spoiler: Red Badge, Black Gold and Red Blood.
A/N: A while ago, I read a really good story by a writer who has since stopped posting on this website due to plagiarism (one person ruins it for everyone huh?). Anyway, in her final chapter, the author said that she wanted to thank everyone before the epilogue, so that the last words the reader remembers of the story are not those of the author, but of the actual characters. To capture the essence so to speak.
For some reason I found that completely awe inspiring and although it is NOT my idea, I think I wanted to follow her example. This story has definitely been a huge part of my life for the last six months. I loved writing it; it was such an incredible experience. More importantly, getting such amazing feedback only added to the fun I had. I want to thank my beta, Heather, for helping me improve my writing and Grace, Carley, and Chibi for letting me bounce ideas off of them.
Finally, thank you to every single one of you who reviewed, 'favorited', or put the story on alert. I sincerely appreciate it!
Thank you: LSR-7, McLoving Grey's, paper frog, Frogster, yasminbanu786, Ania Nicole, lisbon69, celticgina, Bibi Pepe, Jules83, cybercat08, Gadget, JocelynMcC, mwalter1, Ebony10, CaskettLover, mia66, nancye-2000, Divinia Serit, phoenixflame12x, Warda, ThaunduilsDaughter, lil_smiles, hardly loquacious, khalek-aeryn, Skinner, brucy, Seoul, Crash Murphy, Moune, Chiisana Minako, seven days later, Viktorija, Tempe4Booth, chaviv86, Davies'Girl, chocolatefan, CharmedNightSkye, Veritium, phoenixmagic1, raw potato, Jess, Odakota Rose, tromana, shopping-luva91, Tabitha of MoonAurora, Aquila1, HappyJan, xxxBekaForEvaxxx, alygator1666, Christina S., MoLe, Mabeline36, CSI-4077, SpaceAnJL, finaldragon13, Laura, blondieland, mtm, Princess Poppy, jo, Carrie O'Neal, macisgate, UnbreakBroken, Cathartes, Five Roses, O Flippered One, evs14u, Bezelburr, Firebreather23, MentalistLover, ahhpleezeninja, MissStud, Famous4it, lisbonloafers, sweetandsombre, JackSam, 0, , Katharen Silver, GibbsIsMyGod, Simonisthecuttestmentalist, Jisbon-fan, Quicksilvermad, Hawky-Hates-You, martini crazy, Maus, boutondor, steffal, Charmed225, LaFemmeQuiRit, Neoholmesz, Look-Me-Up, Rina-the-Brave, tigerlily124, Madam Spooky, raquelvalente91, Maria, Aurelie G, traceycole, forthecoast, Tess, NellietheMarvelous, klcarr892, jbon, Country2776, Anna, anthropologist, Sajaat, angierox2lov.
Epilogue: Relish In The Morning Sun
"It's been a long day coming and long will it last
when it's last day leaving and I'm helping it pass
by loving you more…"
He gets the call confirming that the body found dumped near a gas station along I-80 is indeed Robert Evans just as he pulls into the CBI parking lot.
The initial information about a possible ID came about 45 minutes earlier, just as he was finishing up his morning coffee and toast, sans jam thanks to his neurotic wife and know it all physician.
He immediately sent his best man, Hicks, to confirm the identification. As he relayed the instructions to the agent, his eye caught today's date in the corner of the sports section and he realized with chagrin that today Lisbon and Jane were due back from their suspension.
He knew immediately that if the body was in fact Rob Evans, his earlier theory would be proven.
The entire unit, including Minelli, was in agreement from the very beginning that Evans had been kidnapped by someone, most likely Red John. After four grueling days of questioning witnesses and retracing Evans' steps, they'd produced two separate accounts that confirmed that a man matching Evans' description got into an unmarked sedan on the corner of Chestnut and Grove approximately ten minutes after the altercation on his porch.
They hadn't had enough evidence to suspect Red John right away, but it seemed like the most likely theory, and the most terrifying. If it was Red John, that meant he was watching, that meant he was watching Jane, and was probably watching Lisbon too.
Now that it's confirmed that the knife marks are consistent with the serial killer's MO, Bosco feels the contents of his simple breakfast slowly churning in his stomach as his theories become likely conclusions. There's only a minute chance that finding Evans on the same day Jane's suspension is lifted is a coincidence, and although Bosco absolutely abhors the concept of working with the consultant, he knows what he has to do.
He hangs up on Hicks with that thought swirling in his mind; a little seed planted in his head a month ago now steadily blossoming into a full tree. He frowns beneath his mustache as he grabs his briefcase from the empty passenger seat. However, just as he's about to step out, he notices two familiar cars pull into the parking lot, finding spaces right next to each other.
It's an amusing juxtaposition, the small, baby blue archaic looking Citroen fitting into a tiny spot next to the modern and quite sporty looking black Mustang as it cuts the engine. What's even more entertaining is the sight of the small woman exiting the sleek car and the large man getting out of the tiny four-door that seems so impossibly out of place here.
Bosco would smile, even chuckle a little, if there weren't more pressing matters on his mind, if he wasn't about to go do something he really would rather not.
He makes his way towards the couple, who seem to be embroiled in some sort of playful conversation. He notices that Lisbon rolls her eyes as she rummages through the car, at whatever words Jane whispers over her shoulder into her ear. It's only when Bosco is close enough to hear her speak that for a moment he feels like he's infringing on a private moment.
"I've told you a million times, we are not driving to work in one car, even if it saves gas-…"
"Meh, and I thought you were a friend of the environment," Jane comments dryly and Lisbon turns around sharply to retort, but halts when she sees Bosco standing a few feet away.
He's watching her intently, as though assessing her for damage and it reminds her so distinctly of the concerned glances he would throw her way during her rookie days that she swallows the tiny lump in her throat, and forces a smile.
"Sam, good morning."
"Good morning to you too, Teresa, Jane."
She looks good, Bosco thinks, not tearing his eyes away from Lisbon, even as he acknowledges Jane by her side. He thought it would be awkward seeing her again, but when she smiles in greeting, it's almost like old times.
She, the fiercely independent and eager to learn rookie and he, the patient instructor.
Except she's not that person anymore and it's time that he accepts that, understands that instead of lamenting the past he should appreciate the present, be proud that his guidance has contributed in some way to the leadership she demonstrates, the confidence and intelligence that make Lisbon so well respected and adored.
Even if she's adored by people of whom Bosco doesn't necessarily approve.
His gaze shifts to Jane's and the hint of possessiveness in the consultant's sky blue glare doesn't go unnoticed. Bosco can't really blame him, considering the woman standing between them, but he shelves those thoughts away. Maybe in another time and place things would have been different, but they are not. In this very moment, Bosco decides he'd rather have Lisbon's friendship than the strained and awkward professional interaction they have endured since his transfer to the CBI.
Perhaps his gesture will help mend their fragile relationship.
The thought reminds him of his initial reason for approaching the couple.
"Look, I hate to do this to both of you on your first day back, but we found Rob Evans' body this morning."
The twin looks of surprise and muted horror on Jane and Lisbon's faces aren't unexpected. However, he's intrigued by the way their reactions deviate from there.
While Lisbon continues to try and hide her shock beneath her professional façade, Jane is silent, hands in his pockets as he stares at a spot beyond Bosco, guilt and realization mixing uncomfortably in his eyes.
Bosco attempts to fill them in on the details but Jane cuts him off.
"Its Red John, isn't it?"
Lisbon whips around to look at Jane, and Bosco notices the way her body leans unconsciously towards the consultant when she realizes the possibility is very real.
"Yes, I sent Hicks out to the scene. The knife marks are consistent with Red John's other killings."
There's a moment of heavy silence between them that doesn't feel right on a day filled with sunshine, pleasant breezes and smiling people bustling around them. Suddenly Bosco feels a sense of urgency, of duty to these people as his eyes scan the parking lot and surrounding buildings. He's a cop, an investigator, a protector and he will get Red John if it's the last thing he does.
"I was actually about to grab some files and head out to the scene myself. Teresa, do you mind giving Jane and me a moment to talk?"
Her eyes register surprise and just a little hurt, but she acquiesces.
Although, it still irks him when she holds Jane's gaze for a bit too long and then almost imperceptibly brushes her fingers against his as she slings her purse over her shoulder, for the first time Sam Bosco feels like he's doing the right thing.
The CBI headquarters are alive and buzzing with people.
She thought it would be weird, being back to work after such a long sabbatical. However, as soon as the elevator doors open on their floor, the familiar hum of people working, phones ringing and someone somewhere shouting out orders fills her with a sense of calm that only the CBI can bring.
On the way to her office, she checks in with Minelli. He's on the phone with someone who is apparently very annoying and Lisbon can't stifle a low chuckle at the image of her boss with his usual scowl, waving her off after mouthing an offhanded hello. They've spoken on and off for the last few weeks, him keeping her updated on the happenings in the office, in particular Cho doing an exemplary job leading the team, so the curt dismissal doesn't bother her.
In fact, it makes everything feel even more normal. By the time she greets her team and appreciates their obvious enthusiasm at her return, she can almost pretend that the conversation with Bosco never happened, that Evans is still out there somewhere, and Red John has not again resurfaced.
Then she spots Jane as he turns the corner and the mix of emotions in his eyes, one she hasn't seen in a while reminds her that she can no longer pretend everything is alright.
She should notify her team of what's happened, but she can't tear her eyes away from Jane as he strides determinedly towards her, motioning into her office and completely ignoring the rest of the people in the bullpen.
"Can I talk to you for a sec?" He asks, and Lisbon nods wordlessly.
She follows Jane into her office, but hesitates at the doorway feeling a little guilty for leaving the rest of her unit to watch their exchange in surprise.
"What's going on, Boss?" Rigsby calls after her and Lisbon takes a deep breath, pursing her lips together, before speaking.
"This morning, local authorities found Robert Evans' body off highway I-80. It looks like Red John."
After the initial shock wears off, they launch into questions that she doesn't have the answers to, but promises to fill them in as soon as possible. Everything becomes real at that point and the pressure building in her chest from the implications begins to grow at an unstoppable rate. She actually has to catch her breath as she closes her office door behind her.
Seeing Jane leaning against her desk deep in thought doesn't lessen the weight, instead it fills her with a sense of responsibility. She can practically see his thoughts; she knows that no amount of comforting words will alleviate his guilt. She foregoes trying to soothe him with empty consolations, opting for a more familiar tact.
They can talk more intimately later tonight, that is if Jane even makes it home. Suddenly, the anxiety bubbling below the surface is hard to stifle as she realizes that she has no idea how he's going to act with her now with these new revelations.
As if on cue, Jane gently touches her elbow, pulling her back before she can make it to her chair on the other side of her desk. She ends up leaning beside him, body turned halfway toward him as Jane drops his hand from her elbow, stuffing it back into his jacket pocket. The silence is heavy and it feels like an eternity before Jane speaks.
"Bosco asked me to consult on this and all future Red John cases."
She can't stifle her surprise. Yet at the same time, there's another part of her, the one that has known Sam Bosco for almost ten years that feels a little lighter somehow now that the agent again reminds her of the man who had taught her so much.
Someone she finally recognizes.
"Yes, Bosco's pretty sure that it's not a coincidence that Evans turned up on the same day we were due back to work. He thinks it's likely that Red John might actually want me on the case."
His voice is resigned and resolute and although Lisbon fears she already knows the answer, she can't help but ask.
"And do you agree?"
Jane glances up from where his eyes were trained on the floor and Lisbon doesn't need any further confirmation. The realization forms a knot in her stomach, a sinking feeling followed by a churning that twists her insides. It's clear by the unguarded fear in his sea-colored gaze that Jane had not considered this a possibility previously but is very well aware of it now.
Impulsively, she takes the hand pressed into his thigh, squeezing it lightly in between her palms. On instinct, her eyes dart briefly to her closed office door, the untouched blinds that shield her from the difficulty of the world. She normally wouldn't initiate contact like this, especially at work and not after everything that's happened. The entire floor, hell the entire building probably knows about them, but she's not going to be the one to provoke the rumor mill further.
Still, in the face of his guilt and frustration with this whole mess that is Red John, the idea of rules and propriety seems irrelevant at the moment and she offers what comfort she can. Lisbon can't help but share in his guilt, because in a way, she's also responsible. After all, she went along with him willingly. Yet she wants to be strong, she needs to be in this situation, because it's unlikely Jane can hold up on his own, not with this much weighing on his shoulders.
"Until this is wrapped up, I probably won't be able to work on any cases with you guys."
He says it so nonchalantly, yet there's an underlying sadness in his voice and Lisbon can only nod.
"Yes, of course."
It seems like the end of the conversation, but she doesn't want to let go. It's a little juvenile, but she wants to stay in this bubble with Jane for as long as possible, hidden behind her door and blinds, just the two of them.
Despite sensing her anxiety, Jane reluctantly breaks their silence.
"Bosco is waiting downstairs; we're going out to the scene."
He rises to stand in front of her, but can't quite break contact yet, reveling in the warmth of her skin as she traces her thumb over his wrist bone.
Lisbon looks up at him through hooded lashes, a mix of anxiety and concern lurking in the deep green of her irises. The urge to pull her into his arms is overwhelming, but he knows she wouldn't appreciate the display of affection even if it isn't exactly public.
Instead, he settles for running his other hand just briefly through her hair, committing to memory the softness of the chestnut strands.
"Don't worry so much," he says almost playfully, a ghost of a smile on his face.
"I'm not," Lisbon replies. "You're in good hands."
He knows she means Bosco, but he can't help attributing the comment to her as he looks down at their interlaced fingers.
"Yes I am."
With those simple words, Jane finally separates from her, shoving his hands into his jacket as he disappears into the bustle outside her office.
For a moment, she doesn't know what to think, how to feel, her overworked mind trying to process all that's just happened. However as she shuts her eyes, the last six months rush through her head, snapshots of their time together, both good and bad, and when a tentative knock on the door thrusts her back into the real world, Lisbon knows she has to have faith.
Trust in Jane, trust in their relationship, trust that he'll be back and won't break his promises.
Van Pelt pokes her head in, looking uncertain, but Lisbon dispels her unease quickly, beckoning her into the office.
"Everything okay, boss?" The redhead asks, holding a thick file in her hands.
"Yes, everything is good."
She smiles earnestly at the younger woman. Van Pelt returns the gesture and begins debriefing her boss on the team's current case.
Lisbon interrupts her only once to walk across the room and open the blinds.