A/N: Okay I've edited this. Hopefully it's a much easier read now. I do have to say that the beginning feels a little misleading to me as I mean this only as a romance not as a very angsty story. I hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I don't own.
Jane felt the sweat on his palms, the ache in his stomach. He was so nervous it hurt, but he knew he had to do this. After walking in that room...seeing Angela laying there. He had to do it not only for her but for he and Charlotte, too. The girl was asleep in his lap, too big to be there but too wounded by the harsh news of her mother's death to not be. Her cheeks were flushed and tear stained, her hair was a mess. She was sweated to his chest and shoulder. She looked too much in pain to be an innocent second grader. Jane brushed her curly blonde hair away from her face and felt a lump in his throat. He wasn't the best father before Angela...how would he manage now?
"Mr. Jane?" He looked up at the agent. A tall, round, man with balding hair. "We have found evidence, but you understand that your testimony is what will put this man away?"
Jane nodded but didn't say anything for a little while. He felt Charlotte shift and snort in his arms. "What about my daughter? If I testify how will I know that nothing will happen to her?"
The agent sighed and took a seat on the other side of the interrogation table. "We can offer you protection up to the start of the trial. After that the best we can offer is a patrol officer checking in on you in the morning and at night. If you don't testify we might still get him, but the chances are much lower. There's a chance he will walk."
Jane nodded, in thought. "We won't be returning home."
Worry flashed across the officer's face. "Are you thinking of leaving town?"
"Nothing like that." Jane assured him. "Not yet, anyway. We'll be staying at a hotel in town. I can't take my daughter back there."
"That's understandable." The officer said, a sympathetic look on his face.
Jane felt his jaw clench. "I don't want your sympathy. I want you to put this guy away."
Something in the officer's face changed and he gave a dark chuckle. "Excuse me Mr. Jane, but weren't you the one who was just trying to prevent us from doing just that?"
It was three AM the first night that Charlotte woke up screaming. She was sharing a small hotel room with her father, and the nightmares of her mother's murder, from what she imaged the details to be and of what she'd heard through eavesdropping, were terrifying. She sat straight up screaming for her mother to run. It didn't take her dad long to drop down on the mattress beside her and pull her into his arms. He sang her a lullaby with his voice clouded in sleep, or maybe lack of. She could smell his cologne and sweat, feel the buttons of his dress shirt against her face as she cried. He held her close, rocked her back and forth, sang that song to her, whispered reassuring things she couldn't even remember. He did it for a good hour before she calmed down and fell back asleep.
It was like that every night for the first week. She felt ashamed of herself because she knew in the room next to them was a team of detectives who were supposed to be protecting them. She didn't want anyone to see her cry, and slowly she got stronger. The second week they were in that hotel room she only woke up three of the nights, soaked in sweat, screaming for her mother to run. The third week she was down to one nightmare a week. By the time the trial began three months later she was down to one a month. But her dad never stopped, every time he was there, pulling her into his lap, comforting her with that same song.
When the day came for her father to testify she helped him pick out a tie, dressed herself in her best Sunday dress and followed him into the courthouse. She walked into that courtroom alone, her father ushered off to wait to be called to the stand. She found an empty seat near the front of the courtroom behind the prosecution's desk.
"Excuse me, little girl..."
She looked over to see a woman, teary eyed but young. She didn't say anything back, just stared at her.
"Are you lost or something?"
Charlotte shook her head. The woman didn't say anything else for a long time. Instead she clutched the box of tissues she had in one hand, and the back of the chair in front of her. She wasn't crying but her eyes were glassed over with waiting tears. "He killed my sister." She whispered finally. "She was only twenty-five. She was so young and so pretty." She reached next to her and pulled out a picture and showed it to Charlotte. The woman was young, thin, and blonde. Charlotte was surprised to see some resemblance to her own mother. She pulled the locket out from under her sweater and opened it.
"He took my mom." She whispered.
The woman looked between the picture of her sister and the picture in Charlotte's locket and hiccuped back a sob. "She was beautiful, too."
"Thank you." Charlotte whispered.
"Is this your mother's trial?" she waited for Charlotte to nod before nodding herself. "Good luck."
Charlotte gave the woman a defiant nod. "I don't need luck ma'am. My dad is going to tear that guy to pieces."
She watched the woman's water eyes harden. "Good."
Jane was sitting in the uncomfortable wooden chair and reciting his name for the court. He caught sight of Charlotte and felt immediately better. He was already a little aggravated that she wasn't allowed to come back with him and had to wait in the courtroom all by herself. She was only seven, but she had followed the instructions to move right up to the front and sit behind the prosecutor. The defense attorney, one he had known personally, came forward and began questioning him.
"Hello Mr. Jane."
"Now, you say that my client threatened your wife before she died. Can you describe the threat?" The man folded his hands in front of him, linked at the fingers.
Jane put on his best smile and looked at the jury instead of Mr. Dayton. "Certainly. At the time Mr. Halton was my client. His case had resulted in a mistrial. He was facing another round and he felt very angry about that. He blamed me. When we exited the court room he pulled me to the side and said that I would pay for what I had done."
"Where you worried?"
"For the few weeks before that incident I had been receiving threats. They were all in the defendants handwriting. I could not prove how he was delivering them to me, or how he was getting them out of the penitentiary without a record of it."
"So it's fair to say that you can't prove these threats were from my client."
Jane flickered his gaze between the jury, his daughter, Mr. Dayton, and Red John. "I could say it but I wouldn't call it fair."
"I'll rephrase it. Did you or did you not have sufficient evidence that the threats you were receiving were from my client?"
"I did not." Jane felt his jaw tighten as Dayton turned away from him, looking at the jury as if to say see? nothing. "But I also didn't need it."
"Would you explain that please?"
"I didn't need to know how he got the letters out of the penitentiary, all I needed to know was that he did."
"Prosecution's witness, your honor." Dayton didn't bother ask anything else, just sat back down beside Red John. Jane noticed he was leaning away from him, not leaning in to discuss anything.
The prosecutor approached Jane and gave him a cold smile. "Can you disclose exactly what the defendant said to you that had you worried for your wife and child's safety?"
Jane cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Yes." He paused to collect himself so that his voice wouldn't waiver. "He warned that I would pay for my mistakes. He didn't like trials, they were long and boring and they kept him from his...hobbies. He mentioned my wife. He had seen Angela at my office after his mistrial. She was pretty, he said...he liked blondes." He cleared his throat again, pulling at his tie, trying to get more oxygen into his lungs. "He said he could just imagine her wearing red."
The prosecutor nodded, a small woman with a sensible red bob cut. "I see Mr. Jane. Did he directly threaten your wife's life to you?"
Jane closed his eyes tightly and nodded. "Yes." He couldn't say this with his daughter in the court room. What if she blamed him forever?
"And what did he say?"
"He said uh...that if I didn't lawyer up again...that if I didn't get him off this time, I could kiss my perfect family goodbye. That when I did I wouldn't be able to get the taste of blood out of my mouth."
"If he said all of these things to you, why didn't you take his case again?"
Jane felt his bottom lip begin to tremble under the accusation and stole a glance at Charlotte. Her face was hard but she nodded for him to continue. She looked too strong, too brave, to be only seven. "I was more afraid of what would happen if I lost a second time, than if I just refused to take the case back on."
"You were afraid?" She asked incredulously. "You're a decently sized man Mr. Jane, an easy match for the defendant. Why were you so afraid?"
Jane felt a tear slip down his cheek and brushed it away impatiently. "I'm not a coward Mrs. Crasstly. In fact I'm a smart man. A smart man realizes when his family has been threatened, and yes I was scared, because my family means everything to me. No matter how much of a match I am for the defendant in size I am not a match for him in dark violence. Not even the strongest man can stand up to a knife if it hits him in the heart, a gunshot to the head, the loss of his family. Losing them was something I just couldn't imagine."
"Nobody could." She amended. "How did you know, when you found your wife, that it was the defendant who had killed her?"
Jane licked his lips and took a deep breath. "There was a note on the door."
"I'd like to submit this, it's the letter that was taped to the victim's bedroom door. It has the defendant's fingerprints on it and has been confirmed that it is his handwriting." Mrs. Crasstly held up the letter in a plastic bag. The judge nodded. "Could you read this to us Mr. Jane?"
He shook his head. "I don't need the letter. I can tell you exactly what it says from memory."
The woman gave a sympathetic smile toward the jury box. "Understandable, it is. But for public record I need you to read it directly from the letter." She passed it to him.
" Mr. Jane. I'm sorry that it took me so long to attend to our unfinished business. As you can imagine I am very busy with my new trial, thanks to you. However, once I make a promise I keep it. You may report her murder to the police, but I warn you, implicate me in any way and I will come after your daughter next." Jane looked to Charlotte, watched her touch the locket around her throat in reaction.
"That sounds like another threat." She waited for Jane to nod. "Sounds like a threat, a lot of blame, sounds like murder."
Jane stood next to his daughter, holding her hand tightly. The jury filed back in and everyone stood while they waited. "Will the defendant please rise. What does the jury find?"
One of the jurors stood, holding a slip of paper in his trembling fingers. "The jury finds the defendant guilty of capital murder and we suggest the death penalty."
There was an immediate murmur among the court room. The judge smacked his gavel down several times demanding order and silence. "Mr. Halton. The murder you have committed here is beyond despicable. The fact that you threatened an seven year old little girl after taking her mother from her in such a violent manner shows me that you hold no remorse. As this seems to be something you know nothing of I will accept the jury's suggestion of the death penalty. You are hereby sentenced to the maximum security penitentiary until your execution date."
Jane felt Charlotte tug on his hand and he bent down so she could whisper in his ear. "What is it honey?"
"I wish I could tell my mom that we won for her."
Jane pulled her into his arms and hugged her tight, not for the first time more grateful than he could put into words that he hadn't had to bury two pieces of his heart that day. He was so wrapped up in Charlotte he didn't notice Red John humming the same lullaby he'd been singing her every night.