A/N: My thanks once again to all you wonderful readers that take the time to review. It's so great to read your comments and I will personally get back to all those that log in. A big THANK YOU to all my 'guest' reviewers too.
Onto the next chapter...
Sarah hurried outside, looking down guiltily as the men broke off what they were saying and turned towards her.
"Are you OK?" she heard Jane ask, the concern evident in his voice. She shot him a harried glance then nodded mutely and quickly got into the back of the SUV so that she wouldn't have to engage in any further conversation. She bent her head so that her hair fell forward acting as a screen to obscure her features as she valiantly tried to get herself under better control.
She could feel Jane watching her and tensed anew when he got in and sat beside her. The two male agents got in the front and Cho peeled out into the traffic as they began their journey to her motel. Silence reigned in the cabin and she turned her head away from the man next to her to stare out of the window as her brain repeated the few words she'd hurriedly read on the bottom of the photo over and over, again and again. Teresa Lisbon. Missing. Senior Agent. CBI.
These people were from the CBI. She'd thought that they were hiding something and she'd been right. All those questions…she was supposed to know the answers. So why didn't she? And her dreams…they suddenly seemed to take on a new meaning. He was calling out to her, trying to find her, she realised that now. So why the hell couldn't she remember him? Had she been in an accident? No, if she had then she'd be suffering from memory loss and she didn't have that at all. She knew who she was; she was Sarah Parsons. She had a life. Could remember things from her childhood. So why did that picture look like her? And why hadn't they said anything to her about it?
She closed her eyes as the infernal head pain that had seemed to have taken up permanent residence ever since she'd passed out, started to throb harder again. Every time she tried to think about her dreams or the man sitting beside her in particular, there would be this horrible ache. The questions continued to go round and around inside her mind. An endless circle without any answers. She absently rubbed her forehead and let out a quiet moan, partly from the pain and partly from the frustration of it all.
It took a few moments for her register that a warmth had encased her right hand and she looked down to find Jane had taken hold of it. She automatically looked up at him and he gave her a soft smile. She could see the worry still present in his eyes but she could also now see that it was mixed with something else…hope. She pulled her hand from his and turned away to continue her perusal of the passing landscape. She couldn't think straight when he looked at her like that. Like he was waiting for something. Like he wished she'd remember. But she couldn't…she wouldn't…she wasn't that person.
Van Pelt checked her inbox again and let out an irritated sigh. Still nothing. Her stomach growled and she realised that she hadn't eaten anything since that morning. Giving her tummy a rub, she looked over at the two officers who were still at their desks.
"Hey, can you recommend anywhere around here that I can get something to eat?" she asked hopefully.
"Yeah, Joe's place is good," Harding replied with a smile. "How about Sam here, shows you where it is? He was just going out to get something himself."
Meyer looked mildly surprised at the suggestion but Van Pelt was a pretty woman and he wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to spend some time with her, even if he hadn't planned on going to Joe's. "Uh, yeah, I'll take you," he offered with a smile. He stood up and went over to where she sat.
"That's great, thanks," said Van Pelt as she got up and grabbed her coat. She gave her laptop one last quick look then left with Meyer to go and get some dinner.
They'd only been gone a few minutes when a ding from Van Pelt's computer alerted Harding to the fact that there was a new email. Standing up, he walked over to the laptop and saw an email from Danville PD sitting in the inbox. Even though he knew Meyer was with Van Pelt and his two colleagues, Thurley and Jenkins, had left for the evening, he still glanced around to ensure he was alone. Once satisfied he wouldn't be interrupted, he clicked open the message and saw an attachment containing screen captures. He downloaded and opened the file then studied each picture carefully. About halfway through he frowned and let out a muttered curse before shutting the file again. He gave another cursory glance around then hit the delete button, erasing the email. After clearing it out of the deleted files section, he went back to his seat and grabbed his mobile to make a call.
Sarah was relieved when they finally arrived at her motel. Although only a few minutes, the journey had felt interminable and in her haste to get out of the SUV once it had stopped, she missed her footing and almost fell. Jane's hand was on her arm in an instant, helping her stay upright. "Thanks," she muttered, perversely missing his touch when he slowly, almost reluctantly, let her go.
They followed her to her room but when she produced her key, Cho shook his head and silently held out his hand. She gave it to him and stood back as he and Rigsby entered first. Guns raised, they checked the area and adjoining bathroom to make certain it was clear.
She hung back by the door, her body acutely aware of the fact that the consultant stood close by her side. It was a relief when Cho signalled for them to enter and she made a beeline for the bathroom. Shutting the door, she locked it behind her and sagged back against it as some of her tension dissipated leaving a feeling of tiredness in its wake. She stayed like that for a few minutes then straightened up and moved across the room to perch on the edge of the bath.
Opening her purse, she pulled out the now slightly creased picture of herself and simply stared at it in bewilderment. So many idea's for an explanation sped through her head but few of them were feasible and none made any sense. With a sigh, she shook her head knowing that there was only one real way to find out what was going on…and that was to simply ask.
Harding finished his call then opened his drawer and got out his gun. He put it in his holster then grabbed a scrap piece of paper and quickly scrawled a note for Meyer. He placed it on his colleague's desk then left the office and walked over to his car.
The silver saloon started at once and he drove off into the dusk.
Hands in his jacket pockets, Jane stood in the middle of the motel room uncertainly. He stared at the locked door and tried to puzzle out Lisbon's strange behaviour. Something had happened, that much was obvious, and if this were his Lisbon he'd know exactly how to wheedle the information out of her. As it was, he hadn't a clue.
"What was that about?" Rigsby asked. He came to stand beside Jane, hands on hips and stared at the bathroom door too.
"I have no idea," the consultant responded with a sigh.
"Something's bothering her," Cho pointed out as he took up residence on Jane's free side, arms folded.
"Obviously," the blond concurred.
"Could it be she's scared about coming back here and knowing a murderer's after her?" suggested Rigsby.
"Possibly," Jane allowed.
"Maybe she just really needed the bathroom again," Cho proposed dryly. "Nerves."
Rigsby shot him an appalled look while the consultant merely smiled. The three men stared at the shut door for a few moments more, each trying the figure out what was wrong. It wasn't until they heard the lock being pulled back that they all roused themselves to move, each walking off in a different direction as though they hadn't been standing there for the past five minutes.
"So, uh, what should we get in to eat?" asked Rigsby a little too loudly. He grinned. "I'm starving."
Jane sat down at the small table and rolled his eyes at the younger man's obvious behaviour. For a highly trained agent, he was such an amateur when it came to being subtle. "I'm not really hungry but I would like a tea," he commented as the bathroom door opened and Lisbon stepped out.
She immediately looked at him, her expression a mixture of fear and determination. He took in her tense stance and noticed she was clutching a piece of paper in her right hand. No, not paper, he realised as his stomach dropped, but a photo. Her photo.
"OK, Jane, I'll see what I can do," Rigsby carried on, seemingly oblivious. "What about you, Boss?" There was a sudden moment of complete silence as Lisbon's gaze flew to the tall agent who, realising his mistake looked at Cho, his mouth opening and shutting comically as he desperately tried to think of something to say.
"Pizza's good for me," Cho replied, breaking the silence. Not missing a beat he turned to Lisbon. "What about you, Ms. Parsons? Is there anything you'd like?"
She looked at Cho then turned her gaze back to Jane and lifted up the photo of herself. "Yes. I'd like to know what this means."
Van Pelt and Meyer entered the station laughing together. They'd only been gone half an hour, the female agent preferring to get her food to go in order for her to get back and check her emails.
She placed her food by her laptop and hit a button to get it out of sleep mode. She frowned when her inbox showed that there was still nothing from Danville. They shouldn't be taking this long. They knew how important it was to the investigation.
"Jack's been called out to a minor dispute," Meyer told her as he held up the scribbled note on his desk and took a large bite of his chicken sandwich.
Van Pelt nodded back distractedly then picked up her phone and placed a call through the Danville PD. She spoke to one of the officer's there and they put her through to the person that was supposed to send over the email.
"I already sent it about thirty minutes ago," the policeman informed her with an irritated tone.
"Well, I haven't received anything," Van Pelt replied, tempering her own annoyance at the man's attitude. "Do you think you could send it over again, please?"
A tut of displeasure came down the line at her then he agreed, albeit grudgingly. The redhead slammed down the handset at the other officer's manner then sat and waited for the email to come through.
Ten minutes later she was just about to call again when it suddenly appeared. She opened it up and clicked the button to download the photo's. While her laptop was working, she got up and went to the break room to make herself a drink.
"Why don't you sit down?" Jane suggested to Lisbon, indicating to the chair next to him.
She shook her head. "No…thanks. I just want this picture explained."
"It will be, I promise you," the consultant assured her calmly. "Please, just sit. Rigsby will get us something to eat and drink and then I'll tell you everything."
"No!" she objected forcefully, her hand clenching and creasing the photo even further. "Tell me now!"
Jane let out a sigh as he studied the woman in front of him. He could see the slight tremor in her hand and the trepidation in her eyes but the stubborn Lisbon-esque tilt to her chin let him know that she wouldn't be dissuaded. He really didn't want to do this right now. It wouldn't solve anything. It could even possibly compound an already delicate situation if he didn't handle it quite right.
He felt the pressure of the moment settle on him with a crushing, almost suffocating force and channelled all of his internal strength to push himself through it. "Very well," he agreed quietly.
Lisbon seemed to relax a little at his acquiescence and finally did as he'd been asking and sat down on the nearby chair. She placed the rumpled picture on the table and slid it over to him using her forefinger. She removed her hand and waited. "Well?"
The consultant reached over and gently smoothed the photo out with the palm of his hand, trying to ease some of the creases. "This is Teresa Lisbon," he began, a small smile playing at his lips. "Head of the Serious Crimes Unit at the CBI. She's our boss and has been missing for just over two weeks because a serial killer named Red John abducted her. We've been searching for her ever since and now, we've found her…more specifically, we've found you."
She stared back at him and felt her heart begin to thud. Although she'd been expecting him to say that the woman in the picture was her, it still came as quite a shock to actually hear it said aloud. Almost immediately, everything within her screamed out its rejection of his words and she suddenly shook her head furiously, ignoring the ache. "No!" she refuted. "You're wrong. My name is Sarah Parsons and I work in telemarketing."
"No, you've been conditioned to think you're Sarah Parsons," Jane countered sharply. "Red John took you and manipulated your brain into forming a new persona."
She stared back at him as if he were mad. "I've never heard anything so ridiculous in my life!" she exclaimed. She went to get up but Jane laid a hand on her knee and squeezed it slightly. "Don't touch me," she warned, slapping his hand away angrily. Pain surged through her head again and she let out a yelp, surprised at the intensity of it. "Dammit," she groused weakly as she gingerly rubbed her forehead.
Jane looked at her in sympathy. This was what he'd been afraid of if he pushed against the barrier too hard. He knew she was hurting but he also understood that, in a way, it was a good sign. It meant that Lisbon was trying to break free of the thrall she was in, albeit unintentionally.
"Listen to me," the consultant said as he leaned forward in his chair, his tone of voice low and soothing. "I know this is a lot to take in and you probably feel as though I've lied to you this whole time but I really do have your best interests at heart. You have to believe me. I'd never hurt you."
Sarah stared back at him silently, a slight frown creasing her brow.
Jane sighed at her lack of response and continued, "The headaches are a result of your hypnosis. Your subconscious is trying to find a way to make you remember but there's a pretty thick wall it needs to break through and that's what's causing the pain. I can help you with that if you'll let me. I just need you to trust me again. Do you think you can do that, Sarah? Can you still trust me?"
Sarah stared back at him trying to straighten out the confusion in her mind. Her head was convinced that he was mistaken about her identity. One look at his face, however, and all the residual feelings of warmth and trust that always accompanied her dreams hit her square in her heart. His mesmerising blue eyes looked so sincere and earnest, as if her faith in him was all that mattered. She felt herself getting drawn in, his gaze seemingly having an almost magnetic pull.
Of its own volition, her mouth opened to answer until the sound of Cho's cellphone ringing suddenly snapped her out of whatever kind of spell the man across from her had attempted to cast.
Jane turned to look at the agent with vaguely accusing eyes and Cho held up his hand in apology as he answered his phone. "Cho. Where? OK." He ended the call and looked at Jane. "That was Harding, he says that the car registered to Adams' has been spotted parked on Stone Valley Road, ten minutes west of here. I'm going to go meet him and check it out." He turned to his friend. "Rigsby, you stay here."
The tall agent nodded and closed the door behind Cho after he left. He turned back to the other people in the room and even he could feel the tension that radiated from the pair of them who were back to staring at each other. Clearing his throat, they both turned to look at him and he gave them an awkward smile before querying hopefully, "Uh, so…you guys hungry?"
The consultant smiled and stood up. "Yes, Rigsby, I think food would be a very good idea. We could all do with a break, I think." He looked pointedly to where Lisbon sat at the table, staring at the photo and the agent nodded.
"OK, I'll go out and get something from the service station just down the road. I won't be long." He turned to go then hesitated and turned back. Bending down, he pulled up his left trouser leg and removed a small handgun from his ankle holster. "Here, you'd better have this. Just in case," he said as he handed the weapon to Jane.
The consultant took it from him gingerly, looking at it as though it might go off at any minute. He hated guns. "Thanks. And don't forget my tea."
"I won't," Rigsby muttered a little irritably then left.
Jane walked back over to Lisbon and carefully placed the gun in the middle of the table before sitting back down.
"Do you really think I am this Teresa Lisbon?" Sarah asked softly after a moment's silence.
She was still looking at her picture and Jane smiled. "I know you are."
His confidence had her looking up at him and she searched his face for the truth. "And do you really think you can help me?"
His smile faltered somewhat but he nodded nonetheless. "If I can find the trigger point then yes, I can bring back your memories."
She frowned slightly. "And if you can't find the trigger point?"
The consultant didn't want to answer but the look in her eyes compelled him to reply honestly. "Then hopefully, over time, you'll be able to break through the block in your mind yourself. You've already started by having those dreams."
She nodded and glanced at the picture once more before looking back at him again. "And if I…don't break it myself?"
Jane stayed quiet for so long she thought that he wasn't going to answer her.
Then finally, very quietly he replied, "Then I'll never get you back."
Van Pelt put down her coffee cup and took a bite of her sandwich before opening up the downloaded screen captures. There were quite a few and she clicked on each one methodically, looking for Adams.
She'd just taken a third bite of her food when the screen capture she clicked on showed a face she instantly recognised…but it wasn't Adams. She choked slightly on her sandwich and felt her eyes begin to water as she tried to catch her breath. Coughing a couple of times to clear her throat she then had a gulp of her coffee to help wash everything down.
As soon as she felt able, she grabbed her phone and dialled Cho's number.
Cho drove swiftly along Stone Valley Road keeping an eye out for Adams' car. It wasn't a busy road, for which he was grateful, as it would make it easier for him to find the car. He turned on his headlights as night rapidly approached and drove for a couple more minutes before noticing a vehicle parked on the verge on the opposite side of the road. He slowed down then pulled across the road and came to a stop a few yards behind it.
He killed the engine and sat there for a few moments. The number plate matched the one they had on record for Adams' but as Harding had yet to arrive, he debated whether it would be wise to check it out without back-up. Deciding it was, Cho took the gun from his holster and got out of the SUV.
Gun raised in readiness, he approached Adams' car cautiously. As he neared he realised that the engine was still running and that someone was sitting in the front seat. The window was open and he called out Adams' name as he drew level with the door. When there was no response he moved closer then lowered his gun with a muttered curse. Adams was dead. His throat slit. His face a death mask of pure terror.
Cho pulled out his phone to call it in when it started to ring. Seeing it was Van Pelt he answered and began to tell her about Adams but she cut him off.
"Harding went to see Johnson this afternoon," she said urgently. "By the time stamp he was one of the last people he saw."
Cho processed this startling piece of information with a frown then suddenly, it hit him.
"Dammit!" he cursed down the phone to Van Pelt as he quickly ran back to the SUV. "He's the third disciple!"
END CHAPTER 8
A/N: All comments most welcome :)