Meredith
by castiello

(A/N: Written for the Paint It Red June 2012 Challenge. Prompt: "The three words that could change your life forever.")

Chapter One

"Take me, instead."

Jane's voice drifted through the dark fog, somewhere off to her left.

Red John started to laugh, and Lisbon struggled to open her eyes. The pounding in her head was unbearable, made fifteen times worse by the glare of the warehouse lights, but she needed to see where her gun was…

"Isn't that what you want?" Jane went on. "To be with me? To 'teach' me things?"

Footsteps clanged across the metal scaffolding, and Lisbon quickly closed her eyes again. She felt the cold, razor edge of a knife press hard against her throat.

"I can teach you things right here," Red John said, gripping a fistful of Lisbon's blood-matted hair and pressing the blade even deeper.

Jane scoffed. "Teach me what? That you can break me? That you can take away what I care about? You've already shown that…and you can again, if necessary – you can always come back for her, anytime you want."

Red John chuckled, his vibrations moving through the knife. "I can always come back for you."

"No," Jane said firmly, and Lisbon dared slit her eyes open again. She spied her gun, teetering at the edge of the scaffolding. Fingers creeping along by the millimeter, she started to reach for it…

"No?"

"No," Jane repeated. "Not willingly. You can come back for her, but this is the one and only time you will ever truly have me. I'll come with you voluntarily, listen to your teachings, go along with whatever you plan…"

Lisbon's fingers were close…so, so close…

"…But only if you let her go right now."

Red John shifted the knife playfully, contemplating Jane's suggestion.

Keep him talking, Jane…Just keep him talking ONE more second…

"Deal," Red John said suddenly. And in a rush of cool air, the knife's pressure vanished from her throat. Lisbon's hand, which had just managed to brush the tip of the gun barrel, was abruptly crushed under the weight of the serial killer's steel-toed boot.

With his finger curved like a hook, Red John scooped up the gun and flung it off the scaffolding. Lisbon heard the weapon clink against cement, three stories below, and then Red John bent low, his hot breath tickling her ear.

"Rain-check," he whispered.

And the world went dark.