Go and Shatter
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not the characters or the lyrics or quotes. Believe me, you'd know if I owned them.
Timeline: No particular frame of time, somewhere during/after season one. I would like to point out that I haven't seen much of season two, so any history of characters or events that happened in said season are unknown to me. Therefore, if things in my story don't add up to things that have now happened, I apologize. And I say kindly, GET OVER IT.
Warning: There is talk of sensitive topics and some language. I have rated the story to match said things but please consider this your warning as well. I would like to point out that I tried not to be too graphic, and again, I mention the rating.
Finally, THIS IS YOUR SLASH WARNING.
Ever since I saw the episode where Jane dressed Cho in that gorgeous outfit (I believe the episode is Crimson Casanova) all I could think of is Jane and Cho together. If this is not your cup of tea, then don't read. I'm not going to change my story to make you happy.
I say again, THIS IS SLASH. So if you don't like this, then pretend it isn't there or click the 'back' button. You won't hurt my feelings but if you flame me for this story being slash, then watch out. You hurt me, I hurt you; I'll just be much more effective at it.
Lastly, I dedicate this story to Lynxgoddess, my beta and best friend and goddess on earth, who asked for a Jane/Cho story for her birthday. It's five months late but I hope you like it!
Summary: If there's one thing they have in common, it's living through hell. Perhaps the best way to make it is to find someone else who's survived it too. Jane/Cho
"I know the battles, chasing the shadows of who you wanna be.
It doesn't matter, go on and shatter, I'm all you need."
-Broken Open by Adam Lambert
"There's moments in your life that make you, that decide who you're going to be. Sometimes they're little… subtle moments. Sometimes, they're not."
-Whistler, Becoming: Part 1, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
There are lessons to be learned in life. They are taught through blood, sweat, and tears, found in love, joy, and sorrow and created for the express purpose of growth, be it physical or mental. There is a purpose to everything, to life and to death, even when the purpose cannot be seen. Without purpose, there can be no existence.
And so it is for lessons, for the truths that life tries to teach us. If we do not learn from what came before us, we have no hope to be better than it.
Repeating the past can only lead to regret.
When his daughter was four, she'd come to her parent's bedroom crying because of the monster hiding in her closet. He'd take her by the hand, go back to her room, and show her that there was nothing in her closet or under her bed; no monsters or demons or goblins hiding in the shadows or crevices of her room. What about trolls? She'd whisper, afraid to speak any louder even as she clung to her father's hand. And he'd show her that there was absolutely nothing to fear in her room, that there were only her and her dolls and her books, and that the shadows she'd seen dancing across her walls were only tricks of the light from the moon. She'd nod quickly, still hesitant, but allow herself to be tucked back into bed. He'd kiss her forehead and smooth the covers before turning the light back off and heading for the door.
And every time, without fail, her whispered voice would float through the air just as he'd start to close her door. Promise, Daddy? There's nothing here? And he'd look back at her, into her big blue eyes shining in the light from the hall, and smile softly as he nodded his head. I promise, sweetheart. There's nothing here to hurt you. There's no such thing as monsters. He'd say this and then cross his heart, and she'd smile back before closing her eyes, returning to her slumber. Every time it happened, every single night, his promise was always enough for her to sleep tight. Because he was her father, and in her mind, daddy would never lie to her.
But he had lied to her.
There was such a thing as monsters.
That's what parents do, though. They lie to their children; tell them made-up stories about fairies and princesses and princes slaying dragons and that the good people always win, living forever and ever. But life isn't a fairy-tale, life isn't a story, and the good people often die because forever isn't real. Monsters are. Evil wins. And the bad people oftentimes live out their lives with no interference or punishment.
It wasn't fair, but life was never fair. He'd learned that a very long time ago and the unfairness of life was the catalyst to his pain. When he'd started his gig as a psychic, he'd known from the beginning that it was dangerous. He was playing with people's lives, feelings and personal memories and there were going to be some ups and downs. He was good, excellent in fact, but he was fallible just like every other human. Mistakes were not impossible for him. And with mistakes, comes consequences.
His first real failure. He'd had problems before, sure, but this one wasn't like all the others. This failure had consequences that had truly marred his soul, touched him in ways that he hadn't been before, because his lies and his truths had been too much for her. And with his mistake, came death in the form of suicide, and he had learned his first real lesson with his wife watching on in silent disapproval. It was a lesson that he would never forget because it was the first time he'd seen how damaging his gift for reading people could be.
Lesson the first: People are unpredictable.
People are dangerous, unstable and easily broken and yet, for all their fragility, the one thing they are capable of creating is destruction. Their hate and their rage, their self-loathing and their fear, their love and their desire, combine in one seething mass of emotions that lead to impetuous actions, often with devastating results. Because one thing human beings are not good at is dealing with their emotions and that is what makes them dangerous creatures. They allow themselves to be driven by feelings that they cannot comprehend and cannot make sense of even if they cared to. And the problem with this is that people don't just act, they re-act, without any thought towards consequences or reasons.
Ask any random stranger on the street how they'd act in certain situations, such as in a bank robbery or when given bad news, and the majority will give a calm, sensible answer. But human beings are not calm creatures. They are not sensible ones either. When in danger, be it physically or mentally, they lash out violently, psychotically, in defense of themselves.
It can't be helped, really. It's simply in their nature.
And not everyone does damage to others. Some do it to themselves.
He doesn't really know any other way to put it. People are unpredictable.
And as much as he'd like to believe that he can know how everyone will react to the truth, he can't. Because there's no such thing as psychics.
Truth is a hard thing to swallow.
Lesson the second: People are capable of anything.
Doing what he does, he sees the evil inside people. He's lost track of the number of souls seeking answers from the dead about the evil done to them. He's faced abused people, wanting to know why, and abandoned people, wanting to know what they did wrong. He's touched the lost and the broken, the sick and the damned, and through it all, he's kept himself apart, never allowing their damage touch him.
It's hard sometimes, because all the bad that he's seen makes him believe that there can't possibly be any good in the world. It makes him cynical and angry and resentful, that people can be so petty, so narcissistic, so caught up in the things that don't matter. And he hates that it makes him this way, because the only people to take it out on is his family and himself.
So he makes himself cold, armored against the evil he faces. And it works for a while; allows him to do what he does without compassion or mercy, all falsehoods and masks and frozen sympathy. Until what he's pretending to be is who he actually becomes, and he's left alone and broken to face the wreckage he's brought down upon them all.
Lesson the third: People are proficient in the ways of self-destruction.
There is something about Jane that makes him human like everyone else: he too is capable of destruction.
He destroys other people, their delusions and their false truths torn to shreds by his observations and revelations. He destroys their fantasies, their hopes and dreams, and forces them into a reality they couldn't handle in the first place. He brings truth into the light, drags them along for the ride, and then leaves them there to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
In a way, what he does is destruction at its greatest, total and absolute, and he doesn't think anything wrong about it. It's why he continues to do what he does even after everything he has learned. Because arrogance is a character flaw of his that he cannot seem to destroy.
But Jane's greatest act of destruction, in his long, sordid history of it, is the one he did to himself.
In a way, it's another thing that makes him human because the ability to destroy someone else cannot match the ability to destroy ones self.
And for Jane, arrogance and stupidity were the keys to self-destruction.
Because he has no one to blame but himself, for thinking it was a good idea to taunt a serial killer on national television.
And he paid for it, paid for his arrogance in thinking that he was right, paid for his stupidity in believing he was untouchable, with the blood of his wife and daughter.
The problem with self-destruction is that even when the price is too high, you can't go back or undo it.
People lay the seeds of their own destruction.
It is the same for all people: experience is life's greatest teacher.
These are the lessons he has learned, and every day they haunt him.
Regret is something Jane knows very well.
Kimball Cho was a quiet man, reserved and dignified in a manner that most saw as arrogant and cold. He was, in a way, because his intelligence was one of his greatest tools and his knowledge often came across as arrogance. He doesn't interact much with others, his demeanor chilly towards those he does not trust, making his small circle of trusted few all the more special. But while he cared for them in his own way, there were plenty of things they didn't know about his life. And if he had his way, they never would.
He hadn't lied when he'd told Rigsby that he'd read his personal file; in fact, he'd done more than just read the file. He'd pulled up the files on everyone, made copies and taken an entire weekend to scour through the numerous pages, even going as far as writing notes in the margins and highlighting sections. Paranoid, yes, but if these people were going to be around him and armed with guns, well, he wanted to know exactly what they were like. A file can only tell so much, but in his experience, it often contains the details that are never spoken of.
Files, he's learned, are often holders of the bare essentials. They tell name, age, education and experience in the work place. But those are not the details that Cho cares to know. What he wants to see are the hidden things, the secrets encoded in the words. Because the most interesting events, the truths that go beyond the surface and into something more like skin-deep, are the glossed over ones that tell him exactly who and what a person is.
Take him, for example. Early thirties, Asian, 5'6", single. A short stint in the Military before applying to the CBI. Well-educated, intelligent, straight arrow. And one of his most guarded secrets listed in his file in a single sentence, one line that tells everything and nothing.
Detained in a Juvenile Detention Facility at the age of 15 for the duration of two years.
His team knew that he'd been to juvie and never asked why. Okay, they'd asked, but they'd accepted his patented response of "the usual reasons". They hadn't pushed, hadn't prodded, hadn't demanded anything more than he was willing to give. A part of him was grateful for that, for their understanding and their willingness to simply let things lie.
And a part of him resented it.
Because it was a chance for them to show that they cared, that they wanted to know what made him tick. It meant that they wanted more from him than work, that they saw more to him than a job.
And sometimes he wonders if they'd ever been curious enough to really think about it, about why he'd been sent to juvenile hall. They were cops, they all knew the sorts of crimes that would require being locked up. Most misdemeanors were handled by warnings and counseling. It was the felonies and repeat offenders that needed more. And he'd been one of them.
So why were you in juvie?
You know, the usual reasons.
But what are the usual reasons for being in juvie?
Or maybe he wasn't in juvie for a usual reason. Maybe for him, it was an unusual one.
He'd never really told anybody his story. He'd had the mandatory counseling sessions while there as part of the rehabilitation ordered by his judge, but it hadn't been voluntary and the counselor had never managed to get him to open up. Not even about the Incident that occurred about eight months into his stay.
The Incident. That's what he called it. Or, rather, that's what all the guards and counselors and judges had called it. He'd much preferred his own name for it. It was much more truthful, and almost had a certain ring to it.
The Time that a Guard Had Raped Him.
That was much better. Longer, more detailed, and above all, straightforward. He didn't like people that hid behind words, using them as a smokescreen. It wasn't that he wanted to go shouting it from the rooftops; he enjoyed his privacy, and this was definitely a private matter, and preferred that nobody knew. But to label it with a nondescript, brief phrase lessened the severity of the matter. And what had happened to him, and to others in that facility, was definitely a serious matter.
He had to admit, though, that the way the guards and other adults in-charge had handled it was one of the things that convinced him to become a cop. It had restored his faith somewhat, to see that they weren't going to cover it up or pretend it wasn't happening.
When he'd first gotten there, he'd known immediately that he was in trouble. It wasn't the guards he had to worry about (or so he thought), it was the other occupants.
He'd needed to find a way to survive in juvie. He was a minority, in more ways than one; a smart youth that had a life outside of those grey walls and people to go home to. Most of the kids in there felt at home; it was just another form of the streets, with the crews and their leaders and their own little empires protected by their private armies.
He didn't have that. He was too different, too quiet, too unknown. Even as young as some of them were, they'd known that unknown variables were never good. People you couldn't predict were dangerous. You never knew how they'd react.
So he'd been singled out from the beginning. It hadn't been so bad because his intelligence had ended up being his saving grace. Some people, it rubbed wrong, but others had found it helpful. He traded his school smarts for some of their street smarts and most everybody decided it was easier to leave him alone. It might also have been because of that right hook he'd landed to one of the older guys' jaw, but whatever the reason, he wasn't complaining.
He hadn't let down his guard, though, because he'd known better. And he'd been right, though he'd never hated his instincts more than on that one night. They hadn't been enough to save him.
He wasn't blind and he was far from innocent. He'd seen the way that one guard, Ray, looked at the teens in his care, the glint in his eyes when he lingered on them, and Cho had known instinctively that the worst danger wasn't from his fellow juvies, but from that guard. The best way to avoid that, he'd thought, was to not get noticed, because if he got on the radar, he'd immediately be on his, and that was the last thing he needed. And so he'd known that he needed to stay away from him, no matter the cost, no matter what it took. Avoid being seen.
He thought he'd succeeded. He thought he was clear. Until that night, that single, solitary night where he'd been proven completely wrong in his assessment.
He'd gotten seen.
And every moment from then on formed the nightmares that still haunt him years later.
Because no matter how many showers he takes, no matter how hard he scrubs his skin, no matter what he does to push it all away, it's never going to leave him. It's something that was done to him, done without his permission, done by a person who'd been there to protect him, and just because the bastard was put away doesn't make it alright. Nothing will ever make it alright. It's not forgettable and definitely not forgivable.
He can still feel his breath on his neck, hear his words in the dark, feel him over and on and in him, and it makes him feel like that teenager again, helpless and defenseless against a man easily twice his size and weight. And it's these things that he remembers; not the way he'd attacked the guard afterwards, not how he made enough noise that the other guards came running, not that they'd taken the monster away before he could rape him a second time. He doesn't think about how he'd saved any future boys from suffering like he had, or how the other guards and fellow juvies had watched over him for the rest of his sentence, rallying around him in unbelievable support.
What he remembers is what he has been through.
But if there's one thing that everything he's experienced has taught him, it is that he can survive.
And the thing about surviving is that you have to push it all away, all the bad things, and not allow them to decide your path in life, no matter how difficult or hard it is not to drown.
Sometimes surviving is a bitch.
It's not the monsters under your bed
It is the Man next door
That makes you fear, makes you cry,
Makes you cry for the child
-Nightwish "Dead to the World"
Cho prided himself on being an observant guy, noticing the little details that most other cops wouldn't pick up on. He was nowhere near as good as Jane, but then again, no one was as good as Jane, the man was just too spooky at times. But in any case, Cho considered himself to be fairly observant, especially in matters that might concern him personally. He doesn't like being caught off-guard. Life has taught him that much.
In retrospect, he thinks it's because he'd been too focused on Jane for the entire case. Not that this one has been the ugliest they've seen or the worst, but for some reason, Jane had been tense ever since they'd stumbled across the third victim. Cho had chalked it up to unhappiness that Jane hadn't figured out the identity of the killer yet or maybe unease at the clear rage in the murders. It'd unsettled Cho, having never seen Jane this upset about a case not involving a child.
He spent so much time watching Jane, looking for hints that he was going off the rails, that he'd forgotten to watch his own back.
Because somehow, he'd missed a suspect in a serial murder investigation fixating upon him.
He supposes that that's why hindsight is 20/20.
Hindsight also costs him an emergency room visit, a hotel room, and a bill for both.
They'd interviewed a guy that they'd assumed was a witness to the fourth murder, never thinking he was a suspect because he didn't appear psychotic enough to rape, strangle and then dismember four people. They should've seen the signs, seen the interest he had in the crime scene photos, in the interest he showed Cho, who incidentally, resembled the four men in similar build. But they hadn't seen it.
Not until the guy managed to follow Cho to his apartment and attacked him just after he'd unlocked his door. It was a damn good thing that Cho was very well trained because the guy had literally been out for blood.
As it was, it'd been a close call. The guy had just gotten his hands around his throat and started to squeeze (after they'd knocked each other around quite a bit) when Cho had gotten a hand free to pull his gun and shoot. By the time the team arrived, Cho having called Lisbon once the situation was under control, the guy had been dead and Cho was royally pissed off, knowing he had a concussion from a couple lucky punches that had landed. He was also bleeding from a cut on his forehead that made him look quite scary.
His temper didn't stop Lisbon from forcing him to get checked out at the hospital, where he managed to tick off three nurses and two doctors with his monosyllabic answers and refusal to stay for observation. It was made slightly better, however, by the presence of Jane, who'd accompanied Cho to the hospital, even if the blond man hadn't really said much. It was nice to not be alone after just being attacked, considering he was still feeling a little shaky, and it wasn't until they were walking to the car that he realized just how upset Jane was at the situation.
It happens when he makes a rather stupid comment about blood on the upholstery of the vehicle that Jane snaps, face white with shock and eyes brimming with barely-hidden panic, hands clenched at his sides in the universal sign for anger. Before Cho realizes it, the other man is towering over him, mouth a thin line even as he snarls at him.
He tries to reassure him, even going so far as to smile in a somewhat desperate attempt to calm the clearly over the edge Jane, but it doesn't help.
It does get Cho to step back and get his head on straight, because something is clearly wrong here, and the other man's pain is starting to fuel his own, leaving him with the only choice of trying to figure out what's wrong. It doesn't take long for him to get it, and he would have smacked himself if he didn't want to aggravate his concussion.
He looks at him, really looks, and realizes something, and it is that for Jane, smiles will forever be tainted by red.
It doesn't matter their context or location or reason for being. Red is death and terror for him, and the color of a once-happy symbol now destroyed.
It makes something in Cho cringe, because the pain he sees in Jane is one of destruction, innocence and life that have been irreparably damaged. He doesn't like seeing it in Jane, hates that it even exists in him, but what bothers him more is that it's become such a part of Jane that the pain looks like it belongs. Like without it, he can never be truly alive or whole. And nobody, nobody, deserves to have pain be the one thing holding them together, anchoring them in this world.
He thinks that something's been broken in the other man, and isn't sure it could ever be fixed. But he wants to try, he has to, because he can no longer deny that he feels something beyond friendship for Jane. He's never wanted to help someone before in such a personal way, but he wants to help Jane. He's not really sure when exactly it happened, or what made him begin to care, but he does, and damn if he's not going to act on it.
He can still see the look of pain on Jane's face, the panic and fear that had been in his voice, and the lines of tension in his body when he'd first seen him, after the attack. And he doesn't particularly like that look on his face.
It's enough to make Cho hurt inside and want to lash out in fury, and if that isn't a sign of caring, well, then he doesn't know what is.
He also feels a tiny bit of hope that maybe this could work out, because mixed in with the expression of pain had been worry and concern. Cho had seen it, even if Jane had been unaware of what he'd been projecting and even as he feels guilty for it, he also feels a little bit lighter.
Because deep down, what he really wants is for them to be more than a one-time thing. He isn't naïve enough to believe that they love each other or even that they could, given time. He has no intentions of replacing Jane's love for his wife and daughter with himself. He couldn't do that to the other man even if he'd wanted to, because he can admit to himself that whatever hurts Jane, hurts him.
But he'd like to be there for him, as both a lover and a friend; to be the one to pick up the pieces when he's broken and give him a reason to live. Because right now, Jane is dying for revenge and living for death, and Cho can't think of a thing that scares him more.
And he wants to know his secrets, the painful and the good, and be the person that stands with him against the darkness.
Because maybe, just maybe, Jane is the one person capable of helping Cho overcome his.
If there's one thing Cho understands better than anyone, it's running from the past.
But sooner or later, he'd like to be able to stop running.
Today is a day like any other day except that today is hell.
It was perfect and sunny and the sky was all blue. There were no cases to finish, no bodies turning up on federal property, no paperwork to fill out, nothing. Nothing to do but relax, lie back on a comfortable couch and drift in the calming sounds that surround him. It's peaceful, serene, like floating in the sea.
Jane absolutely hated it.
He didn't like perfect days because they reminded him of everything that was supposed to make a person happy. He didn't want to be happy, in fact, he rather preferred being miserable. An unhappy person was a lonely person, and not in the sense of desiring companionship but being unable to find it. No, his was loneliness in the way of solitude; his pain and misery made others give him a wide berth, even as he poked and prodded at theirs. He liked masks because he knew them well; from the people he's faced his entire life, strangers and friends alike. After all, he has to understand how other people use them in order to use them all himself.
Out of the corner of his eye, he catches a flash of blue. It's not a deep blue, like a royal or violet one, more of a pale blue. Baby blue. He turns his head to find the source and sees Van Pelt, the ruby of her hair bright against the light blue shirt she's wearing. He stares for a moment longer before forcing his eyes away, blinking back the sudden rush of tears at the color. He tries to block the memories that flit to the surface of his memory, knowing that they will only be painful, but it's a half-hearted attempt, because as much as they hurt, the memories are all he has left. But letting them in only made the pang in his heart grow deeper.
Yet another thing to dislike about today.
Blue is a color he hates with a passion. It reminds him of what he's lost, what he made himself lose through his own selfish arrogance. Because blue is the color that makes him see all the things he is missing in life and all the things he will never have again. These are the things he wants back because when he had them, his family was alive.
Peace. Serenity. Healing. Like a flash of sky, a hint of cornflower, a dash of laughter followed by the pitter-patter of small feet racing across the ground. Like a warm smile bright in the sunlight accompanied with the sensation of being wrapped in a blanket, comforting and calming with the simple stroke of a hand down his arm.
Like the color of the ocean outside of the window, of the smell of salt in the air, of walks on the beach with a blue-eyed angel. Like the taste of cotton candy, his daughter's favorite treat, the kind that makes him think of the carnivals of his youth. Like the birthstones in his wife's favorite ring, sapphire, and the aquamarine ones in his daughter's first pair of earrings. And like himself, the color of his eyes, bright and happy and full of life.
Like new bruises and faded ones, marks of damage and death and decay. Like the color of skin mottled by other hands, peeking through the stripes of weeping red. Like grey without being grey and fading away, unnoticed and unseen. Like the blue of blame and flowers on twin graves, forget-me-nots that can never, will never, stray from his mind.
But they will, and they do, as time passes by, because the images he clings to are the last of his life, of a time that once existed. And everything's changed like the bones of a grave, bleached white in an unforgiving sun and resting under the gaze of a moonless night.
And blue is no longer the color that shades his life. Instead, it's become red, washed away by a crimson tide until it was no longer visible. As if the blue had been taken away, to be replaced by the color he hates the most. Because he despises red, he has to, even as the color mocks him everyday from his wall.
Once upon a time, he'd have been amused at what the combination of these two colors gave him: violet, the color of imagination and inspiration.
It is also the color most associated with mysticism and the sharpening of psychic awareness.
It's almost amusing. Almost. Except for the fact that it tears the hole that's inside of him even wider, pours lava down his throat and makes him want to scream and never stop screaming.
It's thoughts like these that led to white walls with locked doors, so he forces himself to take a deep breath. He won't let himself be placed in there again. He can't.
But the thoughts are hard to stop and he wonders if this is what makes him broken. Or is it that he was already broken, and Red John simply stepped on the little pieces of Jane and ground them into dust?
Since he already hates today, he decides that he might as well do something that will make him hate it even more.
He finds himself at the graveyard, unknowing and uncaring as to how he got there. He thinks it was by walking but it's a rather long distance between CBI headquarters and his current location and it surprises him that he made it in one piece. Especially if he hadn't been aware enough to know what he was doing. But he's here now, though, and there's nothing to do about it because something is pulling him beyond the wrought-iron gates.
He steps through them carefully, half-afraid of them clanging shut and trapping him here in this land of death, amongst the murdered and the passed. A chill races down his spine because even though the gates remain motionless, the fear remains, and an inexplicable urge to run chokes his breath. But he continues forward along the dusty path, sidestepping the small pebbles that strewn the ground, because despite his foreboding feelings, the sky is still blue and littered with fluffy white even as the sun shines brightly down.
When Heaven itself appears to be smiling, why would he think to question the rightness of what he is doing?
He really should know better. But some lessons are harder to learn than others.
He hates today, hates this place, hates the false serenity that exists all around him. But life is all about the things that you hate and he doesn't expect death to be any different.
He stops abruptly, his feet having taken him directly to two familiar gravestones, the cold granite gleaming in the sunlight even as the air abruptly chills. He's standing directly in a patch of sunlight and yet somehow, he's never felt colder. It's like the presence of death in this graveyard has leeched all the warmth from his skin even as his soul remains untouched, too cold even for the Reaper take.
And now that he's here, he can't bring himself to go, because it's been too long since he's faced his dead.
Because these are his, his family and his blood; the bodies of the two people that had encompassed his life until tragedy had torn them from him. No, not tragedy, but punishment, a down payment on the sins he's committed. And there's too many to count, to many to separate, so he must be paying on all of them, even as he wonders if it'll ever be enough to cover them all.
He wonders how long he can keep on doing this, ignoring all the lies he's told and the faith of lost souls that he twisted for his own entertainment and amusement. Everything he's done, everything he will do, makes him just like the monster he's hunting, and he hasn't learned his lesson, hasn't changed his ways. So how different is he, from the monster he was before and the one he is now?
Is it regret or guilt that drives him, that makes him keep on breathing? Regret would indicate a sincere desire to not repeat the actions of the past, but guilt is something else entirely. Guilt is hating what's happened, hating the cost, but knowing there's nothing to do to change it even if he wishes really hard. So which is it that acts as Jane's lifeline to this world? Regret or guilt?
The bigger question is, which one should he be living by?
He doesn't have the answer. He probably never will.
Another sin to add to the list.
A warm breeze rustles the nearby trees, cypress and yew leaves dancing in glee, and he realizes that sooner or later, he'll have to finish what he came here to do. He's not stupid enough to believe that on today of all days, a day where every little thing reminds him of these lost souls, he ended up here, the one place where he cannot run from them. So he takes a deep breath and forces himself forward, trying to decide which grave he should face.
He goes to his daughter first because it's both harder and easier to face her. She was young, so young, too young; innocent and full of light. But she's been put out now, dashed by a man that isn't a man but a monster, like the monsters in the dark that he told her didn't exist, and her sweetness went away with her life. He tries not to think of what she'd be like now, seven years older and alive, because it feels too much like he's tormenting himself, even if he deserves it.
Sometimes, the pain is just too much, too sharp and cold and hot and rough, and he wants to cry out to somebody to make it stop. He deserves the pain, deserves it all, but he's human too, and humans aren't capable of handling this much pain without breaking. And there are times when he wants it all just to end.
He doesn't want redemption, doesn't dare ask for forgiveness even if he'd like to, but what he does do is beg. He begs and screams inside for a tiny bit of help; a light in the darkness, a flame amongst the snow, anything that would provide even the slightest bit of respite. Even oblivion for a short while would be a bit of comfort to him. He'd like to believe that he's worthy of some kind of relief, particularly when he's fallen far enough to ask for it. Sinners can be forgiven too.
But then he remembers a broken child, a blond-haired, blue-eyed cherub, and thinks that there's no greater sin than killing your own child, from taking away from them a life to live at their fullest. Because he's done more than just kill his daughter, he's killed her children too and her chances at a family, a husband or lover that's all hers to cherish. And he's wiped out any contributions she could give to the world, any joys she could take or sorrows she might find and praying to change it won't work, no matter how hard he tries.
For the rest of his life, she will haunt his footsteps as she rightly deserves to do, because even if she could forgive him, he will never forgive himself.
And he will not trouble her ghost with his burdens. He no longer has the right.
He turns away then, from the specter of a young woman with curls of spun gold and coldly sad eyes of ice, tears of blood dripping down her face, and knows that he can find no mercy here.
Pity, pity, pity, says the jaybird in the spring
Pity, pity, pity, says the robin taking wing
His wife is next and he hesitates before forcing himself to take the single step to the right. And then he's back there, back to when he first buried them, and the memories are flashing so quickly through his mind that he can no longer differentiate between then and now.
He falls to his knees, fingers digging into the warm ground beneath him, scrambling desperately for something to anchor himself before he gets lost. But even as he tears at grass and dirt, he's losing his mind, and the sensation is so familiar, so welcoming, that he can practically see the locks on a door feel himself slipping into white walls dripping red oblivion.
And after he's ripped open his wounds about his daughter, he doesn't have the strength to deal with all of this or stop himself from slipping under the onslaught.
He's drowning then, drifting in and out of reality, kneeling on grass that burns his knees even as he shakes with cold. He doesn't know how long he keeps that position, silently pleading for forgiveness from the wife in his memories and whispering it out loud to the wife in the ground, but it feels like forever before he slowly begins to drift back into now.
Something shifts around him, and it feels a little bit like a person, like a hand running through his hair before drifting down to brush lightly against his cheek. It's a gesture so achingly familiar that tears come to his eyes and he looks up, desperately hoping to see the form of his wife, be it a hallucination or a ghost or just some damn fucking mercy from God. But she isn't there and the realization nearly crushes him, nearly sends him spiraling back into insanity, until he feels the same hand reaching down and touching the crown of his head reverently before being replaced by lips. It is a kiss of benediction, of love and forgiveness, and though brief, fills him with a warm feeling that he's been missing for far too long.
He doesn't care if this officially makes him insane because this is what he'd been looking for when he'd walked here on this day. Because while he cannot ask his daughter to forgive him, he wants it from his wife, needs it if he has any hope of going through the rest of his life somewhat sane.
The voice of his wife whispering his name on the wind is the most beautiful sound in the world.
And it is then that he realizes exactly what this means.
Sad sorry sorrow calls the badger in the hole
Sad sorry sorrow calls the weasel with a roll
Absolution is a concept foreign to Jane. He's never received it before, never thought he'd need it until the death of his family, and after that, never thought he'd get it. Now that he has, he doesn't quite know what to do.
You think it'd make him feel free, knowing that his wife has forgiven him for what he has done and he does, in a way. He just can't quite grasp what to do from this point forwards.
A shuffle on the path behind him catches his attention, and he turns to see a young man quietly walking by, heading to a gravestone off to Jane's left. The man looks up and upon seeing Jane, attempts a weak smile that he returns. He starts to turn away to allow the younger man to get to his own mourning but stops as he spies another figure standing much further down the path. His breath catches in his throat as he recognizes the person, before relaxing slightly, because he knows that the other will not intrude upon Jane's space.
It's pure instinct that makes Jane turn back to his graves and ignore Cho; something in the quiet man's stance that hints at both an understanding of his grief and a desire to not intrude upon it. It's reassuring and comforting, even as Jane tries not to analyze exactly why he isn't upset at this encroachment on a topic that's always been off-limits, particularly to the people he works with.
And there's something else to it, something Jane isn't sure he really wants to touch on.
The fact that Cho is one of the unconscious reasons he'd sought out his family has absolutely nothing to do with it.
He can't even lie to himself convincingly.
Mad mourners mourning, yells the mouse from far afield
Mad mourners mourning, yells the snake that will not yield
Sometimes, he's not really sure what to think about the other man.
Cho is secretive, even more so than other people, and not very welcoming to people intruding on either his thoughts or his presence. And yet sometimes, when he's around Jane, Cho lets his guard slip. A tiny amount, sure, but anything is still something.
And it baffles Jane, though he'd rather not admit it, because for such a private person, it doesn't make sense that he'd be less so around a person that doesn't understand the meaning of 'private'.
Jane doesn't like being baffled. Or puzzled. Or confused. Or intrigued.
And damn if he doesn't feel all of the above around Cho.
It's been a long time since there was a person he couldn't figure out, long enough that he can barely even remember who it was. And out of nowhere, here's this person, a colleague, a friend even (possibly something more), that Jane just cannot get.
Sure, there are some things he can read about Cho, but it's all surface. What Jane wants to know is everything underneath, the dark and the ugly and the tainted. Because he knows it's there, he's seen glimpses of it, and sometimes he thinks that the little bit he's seen is only because Cho allowed it to be shown.
And it makes him wonder why. Why show a little, why show it at all, especially to Jane?
He thinks he knows the answer but even he can tell that he's afraid to admit it.
Folly follows falling, cries the fish within the lake
Folly follows falling, cries the root of sweet mandrake
Forgiveness is one thing to ask. Understanding is another thing entirely.
He feels a bit like he's at confession, telling his secrets and pouring his soul-sickness out to a man of the cloth, and the entire situation is unbelievable. He's standing on the bones of his murdered family and he's thinking about another man, about moving on and being happy. And how can he do that, how can he admit out loud to the wife he killed that he's found someone else to replace her? Betrayal doesn't even begin to cover it.
He really is a heartless bastard.
He lets out a laugh, harsh in the quiet atmosphere and echoing a deep, soul-wrenching agony, and he thinks that he doesn't deserve to have anything in this world. Not a wife or a child or a lover, because he loses everything he has by his own hand.
And just when he thinks he's done, that he's given all he has and left nothing to breathe on, he hears the soft footsteps of the man who's been haunting his thoughts coming towards him. They stop directly behind him, close enough that he can hear the others' breathing, and he closes his eyes, both hoping and dreading that the younger man will speak.
He is completely unprepared for what he says.
"I don't expect you to love me, even if I'd like you to. I don't want to replace them, in your home or your heart. But I would like you to think about it. About us."
Jane can only stand there in shock before quickly shaking his head, panic clawing at the edges of his heart and mind, because he isn't ready to hear this even as he knows it's exactly what he's been trying not to think of. It's the fear that speaks up, stumbling as he tries to form words.
"No. I can't-. You're wrong. NO. No."
Cho shakes his head, arms folded across his chest, foreboding and strong even as sympathy flashes in his eyes.
"Don't do that. Don't try and pretend that you haven't noticed. It's an insult to both of us."
Jane shuts his mouth and looks away, knowing that the other man is right but hating to admit it. He still listens, though, because the words Cho is speaking are cutting into his soul and striking its' cords in a good way.
"I can't begin to imagine how much it hurt to lose them or how much you blame yourself. It's been seven years and you haven't moved on, in any way, and maybe you never will. And I may not have known your wife or your daughter, but I don't think they would have wanted you to live like this."
The shorter man tilted his head slightly, studying the graves behind Jane with an almost unrecognizable blend of emotion. It seems like it might be compassion, sympathy or even pain, with a hint of empathy.
"Maybe you're okay with who you are, what you've become. Maybe you don't care about what they want because it's so much more satisfying to live in what you want."
Another pause, but Jane is too enthralled by the truth in this man's words that he couldn't have formed words even if he'd wanted to.
"But I don't think you'll ever be happy if you continue this way. And that hurts, Jane, because you don't deserve to be unhappy forever, no matter what you believe."
He breaks off, looking into the distance with a look on his face that speaks of a deeper pain, and it makes Jane realize exactly how much Cho is lying on the line here, how much of himself he's laying bare.
"I may not understand loss, but one thing I do understand is regret, and if you let it, it'll swallow you whole until you don't know anything else. Would your wife want that from you? Your daughter? I can't believe that they would."
With an almost careless shrug, he looks at Jane again in both a challenge and anger that reminds him of the center of a storm, the quiet calm of a hurricane hurtling out of control.
"But then, why would you listen to me? You don't care about me. You don't care what I think or what I feel. All you care about is your revenge, your grand hunt for a killer that took your family from you. Why would you care for what I'm offering to you? Why would you want love and affection, security and safety, peace and happiness?"
Cho takes a step forward, dark eyes boring into his with an intensity that makes Jane nearly step back as heat flares inside his chest.
"Or maybe what I'm offering is exactly what you want. Take it from me, Jane, the hardest thing in the world is to move on, to survive."
It's the next quietly spoken words that render him speechless.
"But don't you owe it to them to try?"
Deadly, deathly, dead, sighs the worm beneath the grave
Deadly, deathly, dead, sighs the woman that he saved.
He looks back one more time before they leave, taking a final look at what's left of the family he's lost. He doesn't think he'll ever be truly at peace with their deaths, the manner in which they were taken being enough to destroy his sleep for a good long while, but he'd like to believe that they could be alright with him finally beginning to live again.
He'll never forget them nor will he ever replace him. But that isn't what Cho is asking from him. All the other man wants is a chance; for Jane to open his shield a little bit, enough for him to slip in and let Cho be the one to take care of him for a while.
He thinks he might actually be okay with that.
He's been alone for so long. Too long.
For the longest time, all he's lived for is trying to catch the man who destroyed him. But revenge is tiring and it feels like falling off a building without a net to catch him, and though he's been desperate before, he doesn't want to die. And everything he's been doing is slowly chipping away at the shards of him left, and he's afraid that he'll disappear before he realizes that he's gone.
And it isn't fair if he does that, because he knows now that there are other people who have come to care for him.
So maybe what he ought to do is live for someone else, if he can't live for himself.
He casts a side glance to the man walking beside him and a small smile briefly crosses his lips.
It's worth a try, at the very least.
Sometimes he wakes up and thinks he's back in his cell.
It was more like a cage, really, with bars and locks and limited space, and Cho knows that it's because of this that he hates small spaces. He'd never been overly fond of them before but having spent two years in one, it's safe to say he hates them. It's not that he goes out of his way to avoid tiny, cramped spaces but he'd rather avoid being reminded of them, particularly when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Tonight, however, the memories are too close to the surface, so when he looks up and sees the safety bars on his apartment windows, he panics.
He's out of the bed before he realizes it, pacing back and forth across the space at the foot of it, hands clenched tightly at his sides. He moves across the floor in big steps, letting himself see that there's plenty of room and no bars; that he can go where he wants and not be stopped. He continues pacing, unaware of how much time passes, not speaking, just moving. Rationally, he knows that he needs to stop before he loses his mind, but panic is still bubbling under the surface and he can't seem to stop breathe because he's trapped confined.
A hand on his shoulder and a soft release of his name on the air startles him, and he spins around to face the speaker, shoving the hand off of him with a sharp motion even as the panic almost makes him scream.
Jane quickly retreats, hands held up in the universal gesture of peace, a look of surprise and concern on his face. Cho also backs up a few steps, chest heaving as if he'd been running, not liking another person, another man, being so close.
They remain this way for several minutes, Jane quietly contemplative in his concern and Cho struggling to regain his composure. His breathing eventually slows, his pulse returning to normal, and having another person nearby does seem to help ease the panic he'd been gripped with ever since he'd woken up. When he seems to be back to normal, or at least as normal as this entire situation could be, he meets Jane's eyes but doesn't speak. They look at each for a bit until Jane breaks the uncomfortable atmosphere.
"I'm sorry if I startled you."
He waits a beat for a response but Cho isn't really in the mood to talk. He's too afraid of what might come out.
"I called your name a couple times but I couldn't get your attention."
A pause for him to reply. Nothing.
"Are you alright?"
Cho twitches, a shudder racing through his frame because he's barely clinging to sanity and on the verge of screaming. He's not sure he'll be able to stop if he starts.
"Talk to me. Please."
It's the quiet plea in his lover's voice that gets him, a fear in the blond-man that Cho can understand too well. It's the fear of losing him, one that Jane has had ever since they'd gotten together. And he can no longer continue to ignore him, not when he's hurting him like that.
Cho averts his eyes and runs a hand through his hair before bringing it down, scrubbing it roughly across his face, knowing he needs to tell someone before he loses it completely.
"It was a nightmare. A bad one."
"What was it about?"
He shakes his head roughly, arms coming up to close around himself before he realizes the defensive gesture he's making and he drops them again, hands fluttering almost dazedly.
"I don't-. I can't-. Jane."
"You can tell me. You need to."
Cho breathes deeply, fighting the urge to begin pacing again, any calm he'd managed to gain slipping away.
"I'm here for you."
And then the other man waits.
Jane waits for him, patient and quiet, and it's the silence more than anything that gets Cho to open up, because Jane never waits for anybody but he's waiting for him.
"While I was in Juvie, there was a guard there that liked boys. He'd been there for nearly ten years so God knows how many boys he'd raped. Nobody had ever told so he was never caught. Until I came along."
He paused before forcing himself to spit out the words.
"I was the one to get him caught."
It only takes a second for the recognition to shine in Jane's eyes, but Cho sees the moment it hits, and he's taken aback by the rage that accompanies it. There's silence again, but it's not awkward like he expected. Instead, it's charged with tension and seething protectiveness and he finds himself uttering the one thing he swore never to tell before he can stop himself, barely even aware of saying it.
"Sometimes I think it was my penance."
"Why do you say that?"
He nearly jumps when Jane speaks, although he doesn't want to admit it even to himself, and it takes him a moment to realize that he'd actually said it out loud. But he has to answer, he has to, because it's his fault that he'd even brought the subject up in the first place. And somehow he thinks that maybe it's time to talk about it. Who better to tell than Jane, his friend and his lover (because it's more than a one-time thing) and maybe, just maybe, getting it out will make the dreams stop. So he takes a deep breath and continues, feeling just the bit lighter as he spills one of his darkest secrets.
"It wasn't my first time boosting a car. That's why I got sent to a juvenile facility when I got caught for the fourth time. 'Acting out', my parents said, but the Judge was fed up by this time and thought I needed stricter discipline. So I got two years in a hall for grand larceny. I was fifteen when I got sent there. But the one thing nobody could ever understand was why I'd done it. I never told either because they never thought to ask me. They just created their own reasons."
He paused for a moment, moving to sit next to Jane on the bed, but before he could continue, Jane spoke.
"Why did you do it?"
He smiles slightly, because it's just like Jane to respond to his needs, even years after the fact. It's not necessarily a happy smile nor a wide one, the things he's about to talk about being far from happy, but it's enough to show his appreciation.
"Because I wanted to be sent there."
Even Jane's poker face couldn't hide all the surprise.
"I was from a good family. I had a good education, a few friends, excelled in school, wasn't the problem child or the typical delinquent. I had no reason to steal those cars. We didn't need the money and I didn't care about the thrill. I was normal, happy. Average, I suppose."
"But something happened." Jane interjected.
He found himself snorting in disbelief before he could catch himself. Judging by the look in Jane's eyes, Cho could tell that his own face was dark, tight with anger and pain.
"Yeah, you could say that. My history teacher happened."
Again, the shock wasn't enough to outweigh the rage and Cho questioned briefly whether this was a good idea or not. It wasn't that he thought the anger was at him, but it was disconcerting to see it in Jane, especially on a topic other than Red John.
But it made him feel warm, though, and protected. Because it showed that Jane cared, and right now, that's what he needed. He'd have to be careful, though, not to give Jane anything that could lead to him tracking them down. He really didn't have the patience or the desire to stop Jane from murdering anyone. Especially the guys that had hurt him.
Because they had hurt him, and it'd taken him until now to realize to what extent, denial having apparently been his coping mechanism of choice. Not anymore, though, because the walls have fallen and they're hard to get back up, especially when the act of maintaining them hurts almost as much as the memories they're blocking.
He feels inexplicably tired, all the rage and hurt and pain nearly drained away by the sheer exhaustion that encompasses him. It's been a long time since he's really faced these memories and the pain is still there, muted but present. And though he hadn't really expected differently, given Jane's rather volatile temper on certain topics, he feels somewhat hurt that all his lover can seem to offer him is his anger. Sure, it's protective in its own way, but Cho can admit that right now, he'd like something different; something that didn't make him think of the monsters of his past but the love in the present.
But comfort isn't given, and he knows it won't be, as Jane speaks, breaking into his thoughts. He glances over to see the blond man sitting rather stiffly, hands clenched into fists and the action makes Cho steel himself for the coming dispute, even as the wave of tiredness sweeps over him again.
"I want names."
A pause, a breath; two strong wills clashing against the other silently, but the younger man knows that he will win this fight. He will not allow Jane any concession on this matter.
Even as the other's face hardens in both anger and exasperation, Cho doesn't falter in his choice. He does, however, offer a bit of comfort, a small compromise on this topic.
"It wouldn't help, Jane. For starters, the guard is dead and-"
"How did he die?"
"In prison. One of the other prisoners didn't take too kindly to what he'd done."
"Did it hurt?"
"Shiv to the groin, boiling water to the face, and suffocated in the infirmary. Pretty sure it hurt."
Such bloodlust, such fury, and to anyone else it would have been troubling, but Cho can't help but feel a flare of warmth at the emotion in the other man's voice. And the realization makes the tension inside melt away as suddenly as it had coiled there, because he sees now that this is the best form of comfort Jane could have offered.
Cho doesn't want platitudes or false promises, lies spilling forth that claim peace with time or those same words of it's okay. Because it's not okay, it never will be, and no one should ever have to be okay with being betrayed, first by someone he thought he could trust and later by someone who was supposed to protect him. But even though he's not okay with it, he can live with it, and for Cho, living with something is far better than being okay with it.
And now that he's told someone else, finally admitted to the things that have plagued him and hurt him and changed him, he's found something else, too.
He's found someone who's willing to live with it also.
He knows this is true because Jane is still here. He hasn't left, he hasn't run, hasn't thrown him away or turned in disgust. Instead, he's gotten angry, gotten protective, wanted vengeance in his name; he's comforted him and given him a warming strength. It's everything that Cho could need right now.
And the fact that someone was willing to go after the monsters from his past, cared enough about him to want to carry some of his burden? Yeah, that had nothing to do with the sudden tightening in his chest.
Jane shifts slightly, almost hesitantly, and Cho knows immediately that he wants to say something that might be painful for him to hear. He has a feeling that he knows what it is, so he reaches out and lays a hand on Jane's, giving a light squeeze of invitation. Jane glances at him and Cho nods slightly, letting him know that it's okay to ask.
"What happened to the teacher?"
And even though he knew it was coming, Cho still flinches, an ingrained discomfort that shows at the mere mention of him. His lover begins to stammer an apology, panic in his face, but Cho stops him with another squeeze of his hand, an apology of his own at letting Jane think he was wrong for asking. He clears his throat before speaking, taking a moment to gather his thoughts, because he wants to answer Jane truthfully, even though he honestly knows very little.
"I don't know. I went to juvie and when I got out, it was a different time."
"You never told?"
"I never told."
And the accepting, non-judgmental tone of his lover eases something deep down, an old wound of blame and recrimination that he'd been carrying ever since it happened.
He's been a cop long enough to recognize it as guilt for not turning his teacher in. Who knows how many boys he'd raped after Cho, all because he'd kept his silence? He'd been fifteen and scared, so he'd done the best thing he could do at the time: escape. He might have saved himself, but he hadn't saved anyone else. But there's nothing to do about it now. It's too late to go back, and he's old enough to realize that it wasn't his fault. He didn't ask for it or do anything to indicate he wanted it. What that sick bastard had done had not been because of Cho.
It's still nice to see that the man he loves will not judge him for this.
A feather-light touch upon his arm gets his attention, drawing his eyes to meet the clear blue of his lover, and now he sees another comfort Jane is giving him. It's there in his eyes, in his slow movements and gentle touches, his fingers trailing lightly over the skin on his arm, shoulder to wrist and back again and it's both soothing and relaxing. Cho follows the path of the other's hand, the long, elegant fingers moving in hypnotic motions down to his own hand, circling his wrist gently before grasping his hand. They tighten briefly in wordless comfort, reassuring and loving, before moving back up his arm. The motions are repeated, over and over, and Cho finds himself relaxing his muscles, relieving tension he hadn't even been aware of.
Jane's offering him something else here, something Cho hadn't even known that he needed but couldn't hide from the eyes of his lover, because someone who's gone through what he has needs one thing above all else.
He's giving him the chance to say no.
And damned if he doesn't fall in love with him all over again.
"Is this okay?"
"Are you sure?"
"I'm not going to break, Jane."
He watches as a slow smile curls Jane's lips and his own eyes soften in response, glad that he's gotten his point across. He doesn't want to be treated like glass, like he's fragile and needs to be handled delicately. Nothing has changed between them, and he wants Jane to see that, because he trusts Jane, he really does, and he knows that he will never do anything to hurt him. For thing, Jane's too afraid of losing Cho, particularly by some fault of his own, to ever willingly bring harm to him. But another reason is because Cho has seen how Jane treats him; the care and concern in these moments, the support and consideration in others, and he feels the love even if neither of them ever admits it.
It's been seven months since that day in the graveyard, five since they've started sharing a bed, but Cho has never felt closer to Jane than now. It's like all the barriers have been dropped, all the secrets have been spilled, and yet, they are still here; together and okay and better than fine.
Before he can think about it, he leans over and brushes his lips gently against Jane's in a chaste kiss, a gesture of thankfulness and affection. The other man remains placid, allowing Cho control, and impulsively he responds in kind, deepening the kiss with the rush of love that floods him at Jane's intuitive act. They remain that way until they run out of breath before breaking apart, gasping in a mix of love and lust; Cho rests his forehead on Jane's, marveling at the feelings he has for this man. But their closeness makes the memories that woke him this night rush in, too close to the surface for him to push away, and he tries to hide the slight unease that's growing. Jane's hand comes up to brush against the side of his neck and he stiffens in reflex before he can stop himself.
He feels his lover immediately still, almost rigid in an attempt to not startle the smaller man with any sudden movements, and Cho feels a burst of hate, both at himself and the men who did this to him, for ruining this moment for him. He closes his eyes and breathes deeply, working through his conflicting feelings of both love and panic, tightening his own grip on Jane's shoulders when he attempts to move away.
And then he opens his eyes, finding himself looking directly into concerned blue eyes and knows immediately what he wants. What he needs.
Everything that Jane is willing to offer to him.
He surges forward, hands coming up to frame Jane's face, and he kisses him like he'll never get the chance again, because he wants the other man to realize that the past will not change what they have. He feels him stiffen in surprise before melting into the trust Cho is bestowing upon him, tentatively returning the kiss and allowing his hands to slide lightly up to hold his partner's shoulders. Cho lets out a growl of satisfaction at the move and pushes forward, forcing Jane onto his back while still keeping them locked at the lips.
They break apart when back hits mattress, Cho looking down at Jane with a small smile of trust and affection that causes a similar one to cross Jane's face, before they continue. All control is given to Cho, Jane willing to do anything to ease his lover, and the other acknowledges this by reciprocating, giving as much pleasure as he can in appreciation. Clothes are removed gently amongst kisses and caresses, words are whispered nearly silently, and in this act, all the love they've ever felt is exposed, poured out into the air to wash away the demons that came prowling into where they didn't belong. And when they are both on the edge, gasping and panting with desire, it feels new, like the purest thing in the world, and everything narrows down to each other, all of the past forgotten.
Because Cho chooses Jane and that is all that matters.
Later, he lays there listening to the other's slow and even breathing, comforted by it even though he'd never admit it, he watches the pale light of dawn play through the window, distorted by steel, and finds that the feeling of unease that had woken him earlier isn't present anymore.
He still makes a mental note to remove the bars on his windows he'd had installed after the first break-in. He'd give up a little security for some comfort, especially since it'd be a comfort to them both. Jane had told him a little while ago of his experience in a mental institution and idly, Cho wonders why he hadn't realized that they both had a dislike of locked doors before he'd installed the bars. It'd be rectified soon though.
A soft sigh from Jane causes him to look over, and a small smile ghosts across his lips at the sight of the blond-haired man snuggling closer in his sleep, into Cho's side. One pale hand reaches out and latches onto his arm in a small bid for comfort and warmth, which he is only happy to allow.
And it's this that gives him hope; hope that even dark and dented people can find someone that makes them happy.
Because he's definitely found his someone, and for the first time in a long while, he actually feels whole.
In every loss, in every lie, in every truth that you'd deny
And each regret and each goodbye was a mistake too great to hide
And your voice was all I heard that I get what I deserve
So give me reason to prove me wrong, to wash this memory clean
Let the floods cross the distance in your eyes
Give me reason to fill this hole, connect the space between
Let it be enough to reach the truth that lies across this new divide
-Linkin Park "A New Divide"
He hadn't thought it was possible, hadn't even allowed the thought to cross his mind. But it's gotten too hard to deny what is right in front of him and he's tired of hiding it. Why should he, when what he has could change what will come?
Because Jane has managed to find someone that makes him want to give it all up-the vengeance, the hate, the roiling mass of anger in the pit of his stomach-to throw it all away and to never look back. A person that Jane would rather drown in, a person that makes him feel, a person that has pulled him from the precipice and placed him on solid ground.
Most people probably wouldn't be able to understand what made them work. Hell, half the time Jane wondered the same thing himself. Opposites attract, but they aren't opposites, not really; they have too many characteristics in common. They are hidden and secretive and emotionally detached and yet somehow, they do make it work.
When they are together, their demons are less dark and their secrets are less painful. He doesn't know how it happens because it's not something that makes sense. They aren't a normal couple, their very natures don't allow for it, but it's their secrets that truly set them apart. They don't have the sweet, uncomplicated secrets that normal couples have, the kind of ones like losing-your-favorite-CD or pretending-to-like-chocolate-because-you-do. No, their secrets are dark and twisted and drenched in pain, in screaming horror and soul-twisting despair, and come out in their own damaging ways.
Jane is a man driven by vengeance, by blood stained walls that scream with agony and dread. He knows this and does not care, and his apathy will be his own undoing. Because he doesn't care whether he lives or dies; he only wants to make someone pay. And in the deepest, darkest recesses of his soul, he is afraid that the person who ends up paying will not be the one who should.
It is his greatest fear, hurting the ones that he loves, because his own selfishness and ego has already cost him everything. He knows the price, of loving and losing, and he isn't sure he can pay it a second time. Not without losing what little is left of his mind.
It also makes him wonder how much he has to lose before all of this is done.
And a part of him doesn't think he has the right to endanger the one person he has come to love, the only one he has left, with his anger and his hate. How can he willingly and knowingly continue with the desire to destroy Red John when his vengeance will take everything that's left inside of him? How can he pay the price when he is no longer the only one affected by it?
Because the thought of hurting the man he loves, the thought of hurting Cho, makes him ache inside, in a way he only feels when thinking of his wife and daughter.
And it makes Jane realize that what he is willing to do is choose, between Red John and Cho.
As he looks across the room at his lover sitting rigid at his desk, pen moving across the page at a controlled pace, he is struck once again at the coiled strength within the man. Cho is silent, watchful and guarded, careful with both his secrets and his trust. But there is strength in him, a pit of solid granite unmoving except at his own will, and Jane knows it's there, not because he can read the other man, but because he has seen it. He has felt it. He has been protected by it.
Jane has made his choice because of what he's found in the other man.
But more importantly, he has chosen someone who will choose him back.
And with this, comes epiphany, because Jane realizes now exactly what makes them work.
Despite all the darkness inside of him and all the monsters that haunt his footsteps, someone cared enough to reach out, to save him when he didn't want to be saved. And that trust was given to him freely by a man that trusts no one and guards himself with all the fierceness of an injured animal. To reach out to another person was to open a part of himself that had already been scarred before, and in doing so, he'd left himself vulnerable, showing a willingness to be hurt again, all for the man he loved.
All for Jane.
Because Cho is the only one capable of not drowning or getting caught in the undertow of his pain. He can touch it, taste it and push it aside without being tainted or destroyed. Misery loves company, but together, their misery is somehow less important. Their pain is less sharp. Their tears are less bitter. And because of this, they work.
They will never be perfect because they each have their own hidden pain, demons and shadows that walk in their dreams and feed on their souls, and no matter how many clichés are created, love does not conquer all. Love does not heal all wounds. Love scars as deeply and painfully as hate and is oftentimes more memorable. Broken hearts, lost lovers, death-whether natural or tragic- all of it created from the simple emotion called love.
But like all things, love has a good side.
Because love has saved them, brought them back into the world of the living, and made everything worth it. Every painful memory, every silent scream, every drop of blood they've spilled, has led them here, to this time, to this place, and to each other. And in each other, they found solace and safety, trust and comfort. Even if they'd thought it would only be for one night, they'd known that it was worth it. They needed it.
More importantly, they'd deserved it.
Maybe it's desire, lust, insanity, desperation, or pain that has brought them together. Maybe it can't work in the long run or last for an eternity. Maybe they'll wake up tomorrow and hate each other, or feel anger and disgust at themselves for the betrayal of their loved ones. But maybe is very different from definitely. Because maybe, just maybe, they've found something that's worth living, something beyond simple existence. Perhaps they've found the truest love they ever could: one forged out of a need to be something other than hollow inside, no matter the consequences, because love isn't diamonds and rubies, sunshine and roses. It's painful and vengeful and completely destructive. It is all-consuming in its fierceness, and annihilative in its rage, and it's everything they have ever needed at its darkest.
Because love is also a selfish emotion. It's living for someone beyond yourself for the express purpose of making yourself completely happy. And for two people who've been denied happiness, denied self-worth, denied life, it's the one thing they were truly desperate to be given.
This is what makes them work.
His eyes open to the bright of the room and immediately search out his lover, landing on Cho still sitting at his desk. A small smile curls his lips as he looks the smaller man over and he thinks that all the risks are worth taking, all the sacrifices are worth giving, for this man.
All for Cho.
And Jane thinks that maybe he can be alright with that.
Okay, better than maybe.
"Humankind cannot gain without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy's first law of equivalent exchange."
-Full Metal Alchemist, Anime Series
The poem in the section with Jane in the graveyard was written by Lynxgoddess, who has given me permission to use it in this story. She created it and titled it "A Mourning Lullaby". Rather fitting, I think.
There are a couple different lyrics in this story, but I've noted the author and song title for each one where they appear. If I missed any, let me know and I'll fix it. The same with the quotes.
Please read and review. I'd really appreciate any feedback you have to offer.