A/N: So, this, probably isn't entirely realistic, but that's okay. I was not entirely a fan of the last episode (5.07). I have issues with it. Well, mostly just the one issue. So I've written a tag to make me feel better about the whole thing. As it happens, it kinda worked. I hope you guys enjoy the story too. For Chibs, who gave me the idea in the first place.
1. something contrived, esp an ingenious device; contraption
2. the act or faculty of devising or adapting; inventive skill or ability
3. an artificial rather than natural selection or arrangement of details, parts, etc
4. an elaborate or deceitful plan or expedient; stratagem
Several months after the murder of Cassie Flood...
"You're making a big mistake, Agent Lisbon," the man sitting across from Lisbon in the interrogation room informed her. Tommy Volker was trying to look calm, but Lisbon could see the cold fury underneath the mask. "I hope this doesn't end up being something you regret."
The bite at the end of his sentence didn't even faze her. "I'm not worried," Lisbon replied calmly.
"Do you have any idea what you've done?" Volker asked her, arrogance seeping through and mixing with his anger. The idiot hadn't even bothered to wait for his lawyer to join them before starting the interview. He seemed quite sure he could put her in her place himself.
Lisbon kept her cool. "Why don't you tell me?"
Volker watched her for a moment, obviously sizing her up. He smirked. "You honestly have no idea who you're dealing with, what you've just stepped in."
"I was just doing my job," Lisbon said, her voice deliberately innocent. "You always said you'd be more than happy to help with my investigation. Well, I investigated, gathered up all the evidence, and a funny thing happened, Mr. Volker, the evidence pointed to you as a killer. I was as surprised as anyone, but it's my job to follow where the evidence takes me. In this case, straight to you."
"If you say so," Volker said, still obviously tamping down on his anger.
"I don't say so," Lisbon reminded him patiently. "My evidence says so."
Volker shook his head and laughed. "I sincerely hope you don't regret this Agent. I'm nothing like those petty thugs you spend your days chasing around California. I'm nothing like them. And now you have no idea what you're in for. I tried to warn you, but now, you're way over your head. I think you should have made sure you could handle it before jumping."
Lisbon's voice turned hard. "You don't know what I can handle. I've been chasing Red John for almost a decade now. Do you really think you play in that league, Mr. Volker?" If Volker didn't think she knew how to deal with arrogant men, he had another thing coming.
Volker actually smirked. "That remark only shows how little you know, Agent Lisbon."
Lisbon leaned back, deliberately keeping her own smirk an internal one. "So you are working for Red John then?"
She watched the corners of Volker's mouth tighten in annoyance. "I'm not working for anybody," he snapped.
Lisbon rolled her eyes, making sure he noticed every single exaggerated movement. "Okay, with then."
Volker's voice turned hard, his tone clipped. "I didn't say that."
Lisbon did smirk (just ever so slightly) this time. "Sure you didn't."
"I didn't!" Volker gritted out.
"Red John never would have made such a rookie mistake," Lisbon took care to remind him.
"As I'm sure I've told you, Agent, I'm not Red John!" Volker repeated, raising his voice slightly.
"I'm glad to hear it," Lisbon replied, her tone patronizing.
"And that wasn't a rookie mistake!" Volker added.
"Oh, so you meant to do that then, did you?" Lisbon checked.
Her question threw him slightly. "Do what?"
"Admit to working for Red John, of course," Lisbon reminded him lightly.
"I told you, I don't work for anybody!" Volker repeated, starting to lose his grip on his anger. "We're colleagues!"
Lisbon was very careful to hide her smile, choosing instead to sound surprised. "Are you now?"
Volker sensed the trap now that it was too late; the anger started flowing off of him in waves as he gripped the interview table with both hands (though he still didn't ask to wait for his lawyer). He took a deep breath and tried to regain control of the conversation. "You know, it would be a shame if something happened to you, Agent."
Lisbon leaned back against her chair, doing her best to look completely relaxed. "I'm sure you'd be devastated if it did. You obviously have such respect for law enforcement."
"I have lots of contacts in the field," Volker explained. "People with higher pay grades and security clearances than you."
"I'm sure you do," Lisbon agreed. "Would they include your little friend from Homeland Security? He's dropped by my office more than once. Do you really think he'll be willing to publically help you now that you've admitted to collusion with one of California's most dangerous serial killers? And that doesn't even take into account the rest of our evidence."
"Ah yes," Volker said with a laugh. "This mythical evidence to which you keep referring. Except that you still haven't told me exactly what it is, Agent."
"You haven't asked," Lisbon reminded him.
"Because I know you've got nothing," Volker told her.
Lisbon shrugged. "That's not what your hard drive says."
Volker froze for a split second before recovering. "You haven't been on my hard drive."
"Okay," Lisbon agreed easily.
"You haven't," Volker repeated. "And we both know it. You've got nothing."
"What would there be to find on your hard drive?" Lisbon asked.
Volker snorted. "As if I would ever be stupid enough to fall for that."
"You did just admit to collaborating with a serial killer," Lisbon reminded him.
He glared at her. "Careful Agent, I don't usually like to boast, but I'm a very powerful man. I have lots of... friends, both in and out of law enforcement."
Lisbon had to give this to Volker, his threats were slightly more veiled than the ones she was used to. But if he thought she was going to be frightened by them, he had another thing coming to him. "And you're worried that these friends of yours might come after me some day, say in the dead of night, when I least expect it?" she surmised.
Volker actually smiled. "Why Agent, I couldn't possibly be expected to speak for all of my friends. Obviously I hope something like that never happens, but like I said, I have a very extensive acquaintance."
Lisbon nodded. "That you do. Still, the way I figure, they all work for you in some way or another. When we were looking into our background, my team didn't find too many people who actually liked you, who would do you a favour for your own sake."
Volker shrugged. "As a general rule, Agent Lisbon, when you're as rich as I am, you very rarely need to rely on favours. For anything."
"And while I agree with you in theory," Lisbon replied. "As I said, you've just admitted to working with a serial killer. Between that and what we found on your personal laptop, and yes, I do mean your personal laptop, all of your accounts are probably being frozen as we speak. Remind me again how killers for hire, or really any employees, work."
Lisbon waited a moment, but Volker didn't answer, so she continued. "Alright, then I'll remind you. The way I see it, they aren't all that loyal, and they only complete a job when they're paid for it. You're not in much of a position to do that anymore."
"According to you," Volker spat out, his voice shaking with anger.
Lisbon ignored him. "At least Red John has the good sense to brainwash his minions into doing his bidding. Unlike you, he understood that a monetary incentive only goes so far."
"You're fishing," Volker told her.
"Oh come on, you didn't actually think you were the biggest fish in my pond, did you Mr. Volker?" Lisbon asked, deciding to play on the weak spot that tended to yield results with him.
Volker leaned forward. "Agent Lisbon, I can assure you that I'm the biggest fish in almost any pond."
"Not mine," Lisbon informed him curtly.
"And I think you'll find that plenty of people are loyal to me," Volker snapped.
"Are they?" Lisbon asked, deliberately sceptical. "How do you think we got the warrant to go through your files?"
Volker was getting really angry now. Lisbon could see a vein throbbing in his neck. "You don't have a warrant…"
Lisbon interrupted him, deliberately goading. "Some interesting record-keeping you've got there Mr. Volker. I was particularly interested in the file labelled Vermillion Inc."
"You don't have that file," Volker snapped.
"You just confirmed that it exists," Lisbon replied.
"Even if it does, you don't have it," Volker told her.
Lisbon decided to move on. "Not to mention the ones in the ghost drive about some of the details of your geothermal energy project. The type of details that I certainly don't remember seeing in any of the official reports."
"How did you… If you do have information about one of my company's power plants, proprietary information I might add, then you got it illegally. I'm going to sue this whole department. When I'm finished with you, there'll be nothing left."
"You kill your employees," Lisbon said forcefully.
Volker sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. "You have no evidence of that."
"Sorry, you have your employees killed," Lisbon replied, emphasizing the minor clarification. "Everyone who works for you knows it. Do you really think we wouldn't be able to find another one of your employees who was frightened enough to talk? Particularly if we offered them immediate protection?" She'd insisted on that last part. She wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. Not with him.
"That's stealing corporate documents," Volker reminded her.
Lisbon shook her head. "Not if the documents were given to us by an employee at your company. Then it's whistle-blowing."
"You have no idea who you're dealing with," Volker bit out.
"No. You have no idea who you're dealing with," Lisbon said, placing her hands on the desk and leaning forward, staring him right in the eye. "I've been chasing people like you for years. And I am so sick of entitled serial killers who think they can get everything their own way. Trying to play god, and pervert everything that is stable in this world. I'm tired of it. You're nothing but malfunctioning human beings, probably overcompensating for some imagined slight. Or maybe you actually believe you're better than the rest of us, but in the end, you can still all get caught. It's pathetic. You're pathetic."
"I could tell Red John what you're saying, you know," Volker threatened, staring to look more than a little unhinged. "How long do you think you'd last then? You're already on his radar."
"Red John's not going to let you tell him anything," Lisbon replied calmly, sitting back in her chair.
"That's your speculation, but are you willing to risk it?" Volker asked her.
"I'm not risking anything," Lisbon assured the man sitting across from her. "Red John doesn't take orders either. And he won't let you contact him, because he knows you'll lead us right to him? Unlike you, Red John's smarter than that. I think I can safely say that you're time together is done."
"He's got more offices than you can even imagine," Volker bragged, keen to prove his mental superiority. "You'd never be able to trace anything."
"So he's in charge of an organization or company?" Lisbon asked conversationally.
Volker paused, obviously realizing his mistake. "I didn't say that."
"Sure you did," Lisbon replied easily. "I really thought you'd be better at this."
The vein in his neck throbbed even harder. "I don't know what you mean."
"You're letting a lot of information slip," Lisbon said with a half a laugh. "Pride goeth before the fall, and all that. I doubt Red John'll be too happy when he hears what you've told us. And he will hear, you know. My understanding is that he's not too fond of pride, or arrogance."
"You don't know him," Volker said angrily.
"You're right," Lisbon agreed. "I don't. But you do."
Volker stared at her. "And you think I'm going to tell you anything?"
"I don't know how much choice you have," Lisbon replied.
"Is that a threat, Agent Lisbon?" Volker checked. "I could sue the bureau for that."
"You've been threatening that a lot lately," Lisbon reminded him. "But no, it wasn't a threat. It was a statement of fact."
Volker leaned forward. Lisbon could tell he was intrigued in spite of himself. "How so?"
"You need us now," Lisbon told him.
He scoffed. "Please. I do not need you."
"You just gave us information about Red John of your own free will," Lisbon reminded him. "Do you know how he usually reacts to that sort of thing?"
Volker paused, looking slightly nervous. He regrouped almost immediately though. "Ah, Agent Lisbon, I hate to break it to you, but your logic is flawed."
Lisbon raised an eyebrow. "How so?"
Volker smirked. "It assumes I'm expendable."
Lisbon injected a heavy dose of scepticism into her voice and kept her eyes fixed on those of the man seated across from her. "And you're saying that you're not?"
Volker shook his head decisively. "No."
Lisbon tilted hers to the side. "Why?"
Volker flushed slightly in anger. "What do you mean why? Look at me!"
"I am. Is it because you've got money?" Lisbon double-checked. "Now I think it's your logic that's flawed. One, as I said, your accounts are probably frozen by now, and two, I don't know how big an advantage mere money'll be, given that you just told me Red John has a company of his own."
"Shut up," Volker snapped. "You don't know what you're talking about. I'm not saying another word until I can speak to my lawyer."
"That's fine, I was just leaving anyway. Either way, we've got you cold on multiple murder charges, among other things. And after I leave the room, and after your lawyer leaves the room (when he finally gets here), when we're all gone, and you're all alone, instead of thinking about how expendable you think you are, I want you to think about what kind of a man Red John is, and just how expendable he thinks you are."
For a second time, Volker was completely silent.
Lisbon stood and walked to the door. Before opening it, she turned. "Her name was Amanda Shaw," she said quietly.
"What?" he asked.
"The woman you had killed a few months ago," Lisbon reminded him. "You took her life and faked a suicide. Then you tried to blame me. That was her name. Remember?" The day she'd found Amanda's body, she'd vowed to make him pay. And she'd kept that promise.
"I don't give a damn," Volker spat out after a moment.
Lisbon turned to face him as she opened the door. "Yeah, well I do. And something tells me that now you're going to as well."
With that, she strode out of the room and shut the door, just as Volker's lawyer arrived on the other side.
"He's all yours," Lisbon told the man. "Good luck."
Jane met her on her way out of the interrogation room. "He threatened you!?"
Her consultant's question confused her. "What?"
"He threatened you!?" Jane repeated, taking her arm and pulling her into a corner of the hallway.
Lisbon started replaying her latest interrogation over in her head. "You mean Volker?"
Jane actually glared at her. "Do I mean Volker? No, I meant Pete the guy who guards this hallway. Of course I mean Volker."
"Well in that case, of course he threatened me!" Lisbon replied incredulously. "He's a bully used to people cowering in his path. Unlike almost everyone else he meets, I didn't do that. Him threatening me was hardly a surprise."
She moved to walk back to her office, but Jane's surprisingly firm grip on her arm stopped her. "You didn't tell me that he threatened you," he said softly, trying to get a look at her eyes.
Lisbon awkwardly refused to meet his gaze. "You didn't ask."
Jane blinked his shock. "I didn't… Lisbon… Teresa…"
His irritation and obvious sense of ill-usage annoyed her. "Oh, don't even try it. While I was being threatened by a callous, psychopathic billionaire, you were upstairs in your attic mooning over your Red John files, refusing to even come down to work half of the time, and trying to talk to Lorelei by breaking into a maximum security prison. You were being insane. Why would I bother to disturb you from your oh so important obsession? And anyway, you may not believe it, but I can do things without you Jane. I can do them quite well too. I don't need you for everything."
Jane let go of her arm, raising his hands defensively. "I never said…" he tried to apologize.
Lisbon was having none of it. She'd had enough of arrogant men today. "You implied," she growled, turning and stalking towards her office.
Behind her, she heard Jane jog a few steps, trying to catch up. "I'm sorry," he said softly.
But she didn't want an apology. She was so sick of his apologies sometimes. "It's fine."
Jane walked with her in silence for a few seconds, obviously trying to figure out what to say. In the end he simply returned to his previous topic of conversation. "He threatened you?"
Lisbon shrugged, deciding there was no harm in telling him. Besides, he'd find out himself eventually anyway. "Among other things."
She saw Jane's jaw tighten in her peripheral vision. "I need to talk to Volker."
With that, Jane turned on his heel and headed back towards the interrogation rooms.
This time it was Lisbon's turn to jog to catch up to him. "You can't right now. His lawyer's in with him."
"I'll talk to him afterwards then," Jane informed her.
Lisbon barely resisted a growl of frustration. "Why? So he can tell you more about Red John?"
"No!" Jane snapped, obviously less in control than usual (to Lisbon's surprise). "Well, okay, yes, that too."
"That too?" Lisbon repeated. "Never mind. I don't care. You're not talking to Volker. He may be psychotic, but he still has the right to talk to his lawyer."
"I told you I'd talk to him afterwards," Jane said stubbornly.
But Lisbon had a lot of practice with male stubbornness. She placed herself between her consultant and the door to the interrogation room, her hands on her hips. "Why?" she demanded.
Jane had the nerve to look at her like she was the crazy one. "Because he threatened you!" he said after a moment.
This time it was Lisbon's turn to blink in surprise. Then she softened. "I'm a cop," she reminded him gently. "People threaten me all the time."
Jane shook his head. "Not like he did."
"How would you know?" Lisbon wondered.
"I know his type." Jane said vaguely.
But Lisbon wasn't in the mood for his evasions. "Jane…"
"And I know you," Jane added.
His answer annoyed her. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You wanted to beat him," Jane explained.
Lisbon stared at him. "Volker had several women murdered. That we know of. Of course I wanted to catch him."
Jane shook his head slowly. "No, you wanted more than that this time. You wanted to win. Which means that he made it personal. Which in turn means that he really threatened you."
Lisbon tried to follow that chain of logic before just giving up. "So what if he did? Either way he's got my handcuffs around his wrists now."
Jane took a step closer to her, fidgeting his fingers like he wanted to reach out to touch.
Lisbon watched his face. "Stop looking at me like that," she muttered after a moment.
For a second she thought she saw a flash of a smile on his face. "Like what?"
She glared at him. "Like that."
Now Jane's eyes were definitely smiling. "Why?"
She wasn't in the mood for games. "Jane…" she said in warning.
And just like that, his face turned serious. "Teresa, I…" Suddenly, Jane stepped forward and grabbed her into a hug. Right in a corner of a regular CBI hallway, with a psychopath sitting just on the other side of the door.
Lisbon tried to relax, patting Jane awkwardly on the back. "I'm fine."
"I'm still going to talk to Volker," Jane murmured against her ear.
Lisbon stepped back to glare at him. "Jane!"
Jane ignored her. Nodding decisively, he released her completely and strode over to the interrogation room just as Volker's lawyer left it.
"I'd like a word alone with Mr. Volker," he said quietly.
Volker's lawyer nodded once (obviously already recognizing that his case probably couldn't get any worse) before he strode over to talk to Lisbon.
Lisbon half-listened to the man's babblings in legalese (all of which was irrelevant anyway, their case was rock solid), all the while staring at the closed door to the interrogation room.
Just as she was starting to seriously panic (and just after Volker's lawyer had finally left, muttering some nonsense about a temporary mental condition induced by stressed), Jane swaggered out, looking well pleased with himself.
Volker followed a minute later with his guard on his way to the holding cell. He was white as a sheet and refused to meet Lisbon's eyes.
Lisbon stomped over to Jane. "What did you do?" she demanded.
"Lisbon, I'm hurt by your accusation," Jane said airily. "I just had a friendly chat with our neighbourhood psychopath."
"Oh god," she muttered. She looked around to make sure they were alone (and that Volker's lawyer was out of earshot). "Jane! You can't threaten the murder suspects," she hissed.
"Who said anything about threatening him?" Jane asked, still in an innocent tone of voice.
But Lisbon knew him too well. "Jane…"
"I did nothing of the kind," Jane assured her, starting to amble back towards her office.
Lisbon kept step with him. "Jane…"
"Nothing so crass, at least," Jane amended.
"Oh god," Lisbon whispered again. If Jane destroyed their case, well... no one would ever find the body. Maybe both of the bodies, because at that rate she may as well kill Volker too.
"I don't think he'll be bothering you again, Lisbon." Jane said lightly.
Lisbon was incredulous. "Bother me... Volker's already been arrested. It was taken care of."
"Well, I just made sure then," Jane said with a shrug. "Think of it as a fail-safe."
"I'll give you a fail-safe," Lisbon grumbled.
Jane was grinning now. "Also, I made him think there was a dead mouse in his coat pocket."
Lisbon couldn't help smiling a little at that. "I thought he looked a little green around the gills."
"Oh, that probably had more to do with my extensive mental manipulation," Jane admitted.
Lisbon actually stopped walking for a second. "Jane!"
"Relax Lisbon," Jane said with a wave of his hand as he waited for her to catch up. "I did not threaten him or any of his property."
"Oh yes, nothing so crass as that." Lisbon said sarcastically.
Jane nodded. "And nothing so direct."
Lisbon reached up and pinched the bridge of her nose. "I don't even know what to say to that."
"The mind is a funny thing, Lisbon," Jane said by way of explanation. "Particularly when it comes to fear. You see, people are afraid of things that are scary."
"Very profound," Lisbon said, rolling her eyes.
Jane ignored her. "And while they're afraid of things that are scary when those things are right in front of them, the thing is, when the scary thing is right in front of us, we have something to confront, to deal with. And that can make the thing less scary to us. That's why the scariest things of all are the whispers, those things that creep into the edges of our brains, keeping us up at night. Very few people could even say what they are. And you know Lisbon, people like Volker get very good at blocking out those whispers. It's one thing that allows them to be ruthless and unafraid. They keep the doors on the edges of their brain firmly shut. They have to."
"And?" Lisbon asked when he didn't continue, curious in spite of herself.
Jane shrugged. "And all I did was throw those doors wide open."
Lisbon stared at her consultant as he walked down the hall. He didn't look even remotely contrite. "Sometimes you frighten me."
"Not as much as I frighten Volker," Jane assured her.
Lisbon sighed, before stepping into her office. "You can't go around mentally torturing the murderers we catch, Jane."
"Why not?" Jane wondered, following her inside and shutting the door behind. "They deserve it."
"That's not our call," Lisbon reminded him.
"I'll never get caught," he assured her.
She shook her head. "Not the point."
"I don't care," Jane told her honestly.
"Besides, I don't mentally torture all of the murderers," Jane tried to reassure her. "Only Volker."
"Oh well in that case..." Lisbon muttered.
"He hurt you," Jane said softly.
Lisbon's heart gave a single painful thump before she shook herself out of it. "I'm a big girl."
"Not the point," Jane murmured, reaching out to briefly touch her elbow.
Lisbon shut her eyes. Just for a second. "Jane…"
"I thought we were family, and family looked out for each other," he cajoled. "That's what someone told me once at least."
Lisbon tried to glare at him, well aware that she'd failed. "Don't you try to turn this around on me."
"Is that what I'm doing?" Jane asked innocently.
Lisbon had the most ridiculous urge to laugh. She leaned back against her desk. "Jane…"
Jane stood in front of her, a few feet away. "If it makes you feel any better, Lisbon, I could have made Volker hear footsteps sneaking up on him every time he turned away from the door to the room he was in, but I didn't."
Lisbon nodded, after hesitating ever so slightly.
Jane caught her hesitation and grinned. "See! You want him to be mentally tortured! I knew it!"
Lisbon frowned. "I do not want Volker to be mentally tortured."
"Yes you do!" Jane insisted, taking a step towards her.
"He's already going to be punished within the letter of the law," Lisbon said stubbornly. "That's enough." At least it should have been.
"Nope, even you're not that self-sacrificing," Jane said with a shake of his head. "You want to be, but you're not, not quite. Part of you wants to cause him excruciating pain, make him pay for what he's done. Which is why it's a good thing you have me!"
"I've already taken away his freedom and publically humiliated him," Lisbon said weakly.
"That's true," Jane told her. "The arrest will do that, but admit it Teresa, part of you wants more."
She met his eyes, the pain in her chest threatening to crush her from the inside out. "He killed them because he could, Jane, and he enjoyed it."
"And you tried to protect them," Jane said softly, reaching for her sleeve in comfort. "Admit it, you hate him."
Lisbon bit her lip, glancing up at him. "Okay, maybe."
Jane smiled gently. "I knew it. Nothing to be ashamed of dear. It's human nature. Admirable that you didn't act on the desire to hurt him as much as you could have."
Lisbon glanced at the carpet. "Yeah, well…"
Jane's smile widened. "Which is why I think you'll like my little secret."
"What little secret?" Lisbon asked, looking up in trepidation
Jane bent down to whisper in her ear. "I lied to you before. Volker definitely hears footsteps behind him any time he looks away from the door. I guess it's lucky for him that most rooms in prison only have the one. Easier to keep an eye on it that way."
Lisbon laughed before she could help herself.
Then she smacked Jane in the arm when he looked too pleased about it.
Speaking of things that were deserved...
A/N #2: And in my head, this is how this plotline is going to wind up. I find it very helpful when it comes to dealing with it. That said, this as originally maybe going to be crackier. So depending on how the plotline goes, it's entirely possible that another one-shot gets written. In which anvils drop on Volker's head. Repeatedly. I'm just saying, I haven't ruled it out.