I never intended this story to be a two-parter, but given all the wonderful reviews from you guys, this piece came into being. You'll find angst and violence in here and a little fluff to boot.
Disclaimer: It's my birthday next week, so if anyone wants to send me the rights to The Mentalist or a gift-wrapped Simon Baker, I'll happily accept either. But I own nothing.
It feels like hours before the door opens again, and for a microsecond, her heart soars, thinking it's Jane coming back, contrite for his actions, telling her he isn't going anywhere and it's all going to be OK. But it's her second-in-command that enters the room. He doesn't seem at all surprised to find her chained to her filing cabinet, which she can only suppose means Jane kept his word and called him as soon as he left.
"Boss, are you OK?" Cho draws his own set of keys from his pocket and quickly unlocks the cuffs. "What happened?"
There are angry red welts around her wrists where the metal has been digging into her skin, and she rubs them in irritation.
"Red John." The words come out in brief gasps. "Jane. He said he had to go. Cuffed me to the cabinet. "
Cho nods, but doesn't ask for more details, which is a relief, because she isn't exactly relishing the idea of describing the particulars to him. In fact, she doesn't want to speak of those wretched, wonderful kisses to anybody; they're too private. She wants to keep them all for herself, a precious stolen moment just between her and the man she loves.
And the way things look right now; it's quite possible it could be the only moment she ever gets.
"What do you want to do, boss?"
And that's the million-dollar question. She has no idea where her consultant has gone, or who he is meeting, and she doesn't even have the smallest hint or clue as to where she should start looking.
"When he spoke to you, what did he say?"
It's her only hope. Red John messes with Jane's head in a major way, and he was upset when he left her here; he couldn't have been thinking 100% clearly. It's a long shot, but it's possible that he might have let something slip.
"Not much." Cho unhooks the cuffs from the cabinet and hands them back to her. "Just told me to come here and get you."
"And?" she prompts.
"He also wants you to know he's sorry," Cho goes on, dispassionately. "And to tell you goodbye."
She understands that this iceman routine is how her agent copes with pressure, but to hear these things delivered completely devoid of any emotion makes her want to be sick. She hates Kimball Cho a little bit for being able to be so calm when she feels like she's falling apart. She doesn't want to be the weak one, but she knows deep down that if she has to look upon Patrick Jane's dead body, she will crumble. Until then, however, she has to be strong; or at least give the impression that she is. Letting herself fall into a heap won't help either of them.
"Call the guys," she commands. "We're going to find him."
And when she does, she swears to God she's never letting him out of her sight again. She'll cuff herself to him permanently if that's what it takes, but he will never put her through this again. Never.
They're standing face-to-face. It feels as if everything he's ever done has lead up to this moment. In his pocket lies the kitchen knife he long ago selected to be the one that ends this man's existence on this earth. For ten years, he has kept it close in his attic, waiting patiently for the day when it would serve its purpose. And now, all he has to do is get close enough.
It's a strange thing. When he dreamed about this for all those years, Jane always imagined himself brimming with anger, but now, as he locks gazes with the man who made his life a misery for over a decade he feels incredibly calm. Whatever happens from here, he has now looked Angela and Charlotte's murderer in the eye, has put a face to the nightmare name. There's a sense of accomplishment about it.
"I've waited for this moment a long time," Red John says, breaking the silence. "Tell me Patrick, what do you see when you look at me?"
"A murderer." Working with the CBI has shown him time and again that killers come in many different forms. Red John looks like the type of guy you'd pass on the street without even noticing him, never knowing the dark secret he carries.
"That's such a harsh word."
"You've taken lives for fun. Deal with it."
Red John clicks his tongue, disapprovingly. "I have killed for revenge. I have killed for power. I have killed to gain resources and to protect those I already possess, but never have I killed for fun, Patrick."
"So you take no pleasure in the suffering you cause?" Jane asks, sarcastically.
"Ah, now I didn't say that." A ghoulish smile creeps across his face. "A man must love his work, my friend. But killing simply for one's own enjoyment is a shameful practice. There must be a tangible reason to make me choose such a drastic course, and regretfully Patrick, you provided me with one."
He expected this; the game playing and taunts. He suspects this conversation could spin out for quite a while. He doesn't mind; even is fascinated in a strange way to find out what exactly makes his arch nemesis tick. It isn't often that he meets a person on the same intellectual level as himself. In fact, the whole arrangement feels almost cordial. Nobody has produced a weapon yet or so much as raised his voice; in fact a bystander would never guess that this was the first encounter of two sworn enemies.
He can only be grateful that the only person left in the world he cares about is safely shut up in her office, far away. He has no doubt that she'll search for him; but she'll have a job finding him, he doesn't even know where he is.
He regrets the way they left things, and he wishes that he could have kissed her just once more; because he was so busy trying to psych himself up for what he was about to do, that he didn't take the time to savour it. For years, he's wanted to kiss her like that, and after all that holding back, he can't help but feel like he rushed it. He should have taken his time; explored her, tasted her, worshipped every last inch of her.
She deserves so much better than what he gave her, a few minutes in her office chair and a cowardly, half-assed love confession as he ran out the door. She deserves a man who'll put her before everything else, and will appreciate her for the treasure that she is. And though he desperately wants to be that man for her, he knows that he can't until the son of a bitch standing before him is gone from this world.
Until that happens, he simply isn't worthy to tell people she's his, or to whisper tender words of love in her ear as she falls asleep in his arms. He has loved two women in his life; one a ghost, and the other an angel, and they're both far too good for him.
"Penny for your thoughts, Patrick?" Red John's soft voice puts an end to his musings. "You seem a little melancholy."
"Why should I be?" he asks. "You and I in the same room is all I've wanted for ten years."
"So you've said. But Patrick, all I see at the moment is a man who wishes he were somewhere else."
If he could be anywhere right now, he'd be with her, just the two of them, somewhere safe. Somewhere warm. Somewhere nobody would be able to find them. If he could, he'd lock her away from the world completely and keep her with him always; just so he can be sure she will be safe; but that's impractical, not to mention illegal.
What he really wants is to be able to love her without the constant fear that his love could bring her to harm. To feel they could have a life, a future. But he knows that if he is ever going to get that chance, he must cut out the biggest obstacle that stands in their way.
This is where he needs to be.
"Or perhaps it's the company you find so displeasing," Red John continues. "It seems that I am no match for the sparkling society of Teresa Lisbon." His mouth twists into a cruel grin. "Am I right?"
To hear her name come out of that monster's lips awakens rage in him for the first time. This bastard is about as fit to speak of her as he is himself; in other words, not at all.
"Leave her out of this," he snarls.
"Oh come now, Patrick. I know you've been standing here this whole time, wondering if you will ever see her again. No doubt regretting things left unsaid…or undone. Ah yes, the path to true love never did run smooth. Hence the reason I personally never bothered with it, but each to his own, of course."
He produces a cell phone.
"As it happens, a good friend of mine in the CBI has been able to provide me with the lovely agent Lisbon's cell number," he explains, "And before you get any foolish ideas about attempting to kill me, be advised that the same friend has been instructed to dispose of her if he doesn't receive word from me in the next five minutes. And I assure you, her death will be slow and horrible."
Oh how he wants to just kill the bastard and be done with it, but as usual, Teresa Lisbon holds him back.
For a moment, he can see her; trapped in her office, helpless, as some faceless Red John disciple advances on her from the shadows. He can hear her screams of agony; see the dark splashes of her precious blood scattering over the floor and walls. She will fight, he knows she will, but with her gun out of reach and one hand out of commission, the odds will be against her.
He left her there, a sitting duck, and even though Cho and the guys should be there by now, he can't be totally sure. Perhaps there was traffic or some other reason to hold them up, and he can't afford to take any chances when it concerns the most precious thing in his world.
Red John has him over a barrel, and he knows it.
"Women have a way of complicating things, don't they Patrick?"
Van Pelt and Rigsby arrive at the office just under half an hour after Cho's call to arms-and so does baby Ben, burrowing his head in his father's shoulder as they exit the elevator.
"I'm sorry, boss," says Rigsby, registering her astonished gaze as it falls on his son. "Sarah's out of town and I couldn't get a sitter at such short notice."
She doesn't answer him right away; because she's too busy trying to get her head around just how much Patrick Jane has screwed with her mind. She's so consumed by him and his vendetta; the idea that the others might have other stuff to do tonight didn't even cross her mind.
Now that she thinks about it, when she glances at Van Pelt a second time, she notices that her hair and makeup are done a fair bit more elaborately than usual. She had plans, she realizes, or maybe she was even on a date. And Rigsby was forced to wake up his baby son and drag him here in the middle of the night.
Sometimes she forgets that even though Patrick Jane is undeniably the centre of her universe, the same does not necessarily hold true for her team.
"Go home, Rigs," she says, as Ben gurgles restlessly in his sleep and Rigsby automatically begins to pat his back with his other hand. "I'm sorry -I didn't realize."
"I'm not going home," her agent retorts, firmly but quietly in an attempt not to disturb his son any further. "I want to be a part of this."
"You are not taking your son to a crime scene, Wayne," she snaps. "I forbid it."
She doesn't blame him for the look he gives her, a combination of anger and exasperation, as though he's asking her what kind of a father she takes him for, to think he'd even consider such a thing. He answers her in a manner far more patient than she deserves, however.
"I meant I'll stay here and man the phones, boss," he explains. "I can put Ben to sleep on Jane's couch and coordinate backup and anything else you need from my desk. Please," he adds, as he sees her hesitating. "I know I can't be there, but I want to be involved in getting Red John. I have to, even if it's just indirectly."
"Are you sure?"
And it's the conviction with which he says it that makes her see just how invested her team are in bringing down the serial killer. She's always thought of the Red John case as mostly Jane's and hers (however begrudgingly on his part,) but now she realizes it belongs just as much to Cho, Rigsby and Van Pelt. They've all been a part of this long, drawn-out chase, and they've all been affected by it in one way or another. It's just like she said to Jane in her office, they've hunted him together, and they all deserve the right to finish him together.
"OK," she says. "But no matter what happens, you are not to leave the CBI. Ben needs his father."
She realizes the gravity of what she is asking. She is telling him that even if she and the others are all killed in the attempt to apprehend Red John that he is not to intervene in any way. In short, she is asking him to do something that she herself could never do. But he has a child to think about, and that transcends anything else. And she knows, (even though it gives her a pang to think of him) that Jane would agree. He would never want a child to suffer on his account.
"I mean it, Rigs," she says. "Give me your word, or go home right now."
He looks like he wants to argue some more but she holds his gaze firmly; she has no intention of backing down. She's still the boss, and this condition is non-negotiable.
He sighs in defeat. "Yes, boss."
"Good." She turns to Cho and Van Pelt. "As for you two, I want to make it clear that neither of you are obligated to be in this. This is going to be incredibly dangerous, not to mention completely against the regs, and I am not going to force you."
"If you're doing this, we're doing this," says Van Pelt at once, beside her, Cho nods his head briskly, and apparently this settles the matter.
She knows they're only doing this for her. Jane has pulled so much crap on them over the years; they'd be easily forgiven for refusing to participate anymore. But they've put up with it because they know having Jane around makes her happier, and her peace of mind is enough for them. They probably knew before she did too, that she was falling in love with him. They were always there, watching and listening, and ready to catch her on the numerous occasions he let her fall. And every time she let him claw his way back in, so did they, for her sake.
Most of her emotion is tied up with distress and terror but she still manages to experience a sudden rush of warmth for her team. She genuinely loves these three people with every scrap of her affection that has not already been claimed by Jane. It isn't much, but it's all she can give.
"Thank you," she says, sincerely, but now she is stymied. She still has no idea where they're supposed to be going, and every moment they delay is another second of Jane's life slipping away.
She prays that God will look after him, at least until she finds him and can take care of him herself.
Her cell phone chirps and she grabs for it. A message has arrived from an unknown number, and even though she has no idea who it might be, she feels the dread rising up in her stomach. When she reads the three brief lines she thinks she can feel her heart stop for a moment.
Patrick is missing you.
Will you honour us with your presence?
She hears herself let out a little cry and passes the phone to Cho, whose brow furrows as he reads the message and passes it on to Rigsby, who gives a small grunt of surprise, then Van Pelt, who gasps.
"What do you think it means?" asks her youngest agent, handing back the cell phone.
"Seems pretty clear to me," says Cho. "Whatever Red John's game is, he wants the boss to be part of it."
"Lisbon, you can't go." Van Pelt is uncharacteristically firm.
"I have to."
"Grace is right," Rigsby pitches in; as he bends down to settle Ben on Jane's couch. "You'll be playing right into his hands." Ben curls himself into a ball at the loss of his father's body heat, until Rigsby gently places a blanket over him. She watches as Ben clutches at it with his small hands, and sleeps on.
Jane has never been one for sharing his couch, but she suspects that he would make an exception in this case, as Ben sighs in his sleep, contentedly. The peaceful expression on his face is not unlike the one she sees on the couch's usual occupant, when she happens upon him in the grip of true sleep. She'd give anything to have him there at this moment, opening one eye sleepily and telling them all off for being too loud like a grumpy old man. At that thought, she wants him back so badly it hurts.
"At least we know that Jane's still alive," she says, though taking small comfort in the thought. "There's no sense in Red John involving me unless he thinks he can use me to get to him somehow."
"Maybe he just wants the same thing he wanted last year," says Van Pelt. "Your head in a box. And since Jane didn't do it for him, he figures he'll just do it himself."
"That's a possibility." There's no point beating about the bush. She has suspected for a while that she would have some part to play in Jane and Red John's last stand, whether as an arresting officer, a murder victim or something in between, but she has always been determined she will be there.
If she's with him, she might be able to stop him doing something he'll regret, and he'll have a better chance of coming home when it's all over. Even though it's what he wants, she can't leave him alone to his fate.
"I'm going." She is decided. She sends back her answer to the text message and a response arrives almost immediately.
Transportation has been arranged for you, outside the building. Come alone.
The transportation in question turns out to be a jet-black stretch limousine, parked right outside the door of the CBI. A young man gets out of the driver's seat, his face expressionless and opens the door for her. She wonders if he knows what fate will befall him later. Red John is all about operating in secret and if he allows her to see this boy's face, it can only mean he will soon be dead. She sighs. He looks no older than twenty-three.
"He sent a car?" Grace's eyes are taking in the scene with disbelief. Rigsby is still upstairs watching over Ben, but the other two both insisted on escorting her down here, fearing a trap. And even though she knows in her head that she's little use to Red John if she's dead, she still half-expected to be gunned down the moment she stepped out the door.
"Jane always said Red John has a bit of a thing for theatrics. I guess there's something poetic about having potential murder victims arrive in style."
"Door-to-door death service," grunts Cho.
"I'll be fine," she tells them both, as confidently as she can. "I'll see you soon."
Grace envelops her in a hug. "Be careful, Lisbon," she says.
"I will." She turns to Cho, who's watching them with his usual solemn gaze. "You take care of them," she tells him. "If something happens to me, you've got to step up. I know you'll be great."
"I'm not interested in promotion by default," he replies, firmly. "Just get it done and get back here."
She feels like she should say something profound in this moment; how proud she is of them all, how she couldn't have dreamed of a better right-hand man, but for some reason she just can't find the words. She's never been great with emotional stuff, but somehow at this moment she almost feels he understands.
"Tail us from as far back as you can," she whispers to him, and he nods. "And if you get even the slightest hint that's he made you, let it go, and find us some other way."
Time's a little short for them to come up with a more sophisticated plan, but even if the tail doesn't work, she has total faith that her team will find them. Whether they will find them in time, however, is another matter, but it's a risk she's going to have to take.
"Watch your six," he advises her in a low voice, as she finally steps into the back of the car, and the driver slams the door shut.
She takes no notice of where they're going, her thoughts are all for Jane as the car winds it way through the streets of Sacramento. Her instincts tell her he is still alive, at least for now, but who knows what other horrors he's being subjected to? There are plenty of other ways to destroy a man without killing him.
Eventually the car pulls up outside a dilapidated building that looks like it's been abandoned for years, and she can't help but feel a little disappointed. Red John is a psychopathic yet brilliant man; she would have expected his hideout to be a little less clichéd.
Once again, the young chauffeur opens the door for her and offers her his hand to help her out; which she declines. She leaves him gazing after her as she makes her way up the front walk, and enters.
His heart doesn't know whether to leap or sink when he hears the familiar click of shoes on a hard surface. He'd know those footsteps anywhere. She came. Despite all his efforts to keep her out of this, she still came.
The door to the room swings open, and there she stands in all her heavenly glory; and even though he's mad at her for refusing to listen to him again, he just can't help the way his spirits lift when he sees her. And maybe his perspective is a little altered in light of his impending death but to him, she's never looked so beautiful. He drinks her in from top to toe, gorging himself on her beauty, actively seeking out all those little features that made him fall for her in the first place.
He wasn't fully aware of the way his heart felt like it was being squeezed tightly by a giant hand until the sensation lifts, and he realizes how much he's missed her already, even though they've been separated for less than two hours.
He wants to reach for her, but knows he's a dead man the second he loses concentration on the situation at hand, and now she's here, it's even more imperative that he stays alive.
"Ah," breathes Red John. "Our guest of honour has arrived. I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for the chance to meet you, Teresa."
Lisbon ignores him. "Jane," she says, voice as soft as a whisper, as she takes in the scene. "Are you OK?"
"Never better." And for a moment, he truly forgets that there's a gun to his head, as she gives a small chuckle at his stock-standard reply. "How did you find this place?"
"I extended her an invitation. Won't you join us, Agent Lisbon?" says Red John, and Jane notices with a jolt the hunger in his eyes as he looks at her. He is suddenly overtaken by the urge to step in front of her and shield her from that greedy gaze, but he knows that one wrong move will result in a bullet in his brain, or worse, hers.
"Why did you come here?" he demands of her, angrily. He didn't go through all that deception and heartache just to have it all come undone. She was supposed to be far away while this all went down. Why, just once, can't she put herself first and let him protect her? All she's done by coming here is give him something else to worry about, added yet another dimension to this already complicated relationship he has with Red John.
"You need me."
"No I don't."
"Yes, you do. Take a look at the situation you're in."
"I'm handling it."
"Sure you are."
Lisbon enters the room, her hand lingering at her hip, where he knows she keeps her Glock, but even though she's faster on the draw than anyone he knows, she doesn't dare use it with himself standing between her and her target. Apparently, Red John knows it too, as he makes no attempt to divest her of her weapon.
"Give yourself up now," she says to Red John, strong and clear. "And maybe we can all leave here alive."
"Now Teresa, you and I both know that isn't going to happen."
She gives a casual shrug of her shoulders. "Worth a try. If I can say I at least attempted to bring you in quietly it'll keep Professional Standards off my back. Now, however this ends, I come out of it completely guilt-free."
"Oh, I like this one, Patrick," says Red John, with a grin. "She's got a little more spirit than your wife. I can see why you're so drawn to her."
He begins to walk slowly towards her, as though invisible magnets are drawing them together. Jane forces himself to hold his ground, even though he doesn't want Red John anywhere near her. She crosses her arms across her chest and stares the killer down as he advances, without a trace of fear.
"You take one more step and you'll wish you hadn't," she snarls.
"Why are you doing this, Teresa?" asks Red John. "You're attractive, ambitious, intelligent. How did you let yourself get dragged into this mess?"
"What can I say? I'm a sucker for a lost cause."
"Was it worth it? Even after everything you did, every sacrifice you made, he still chose me."
For a moment, her cool expression flickers and they both know that he has touched a nerve. But it passes quickly.
"He chose them," she corrects, firmly. "He chose Angela and Charlotte. I can live with that."
And she can. She knows she can never compete with Angela Jane, whether dead or alive, and she's made her peace with that. She's even OK with the knowledge that she'll forever be playing for second in his heart. Patrick, Angela and Charlotte Jane are a package, and to accept one of them is to accept them all. She understands that, and that knowledge puts her ahead of the curve. No woman alive could ever be his one and only, because the position has long since been filled.
Red John surveys her face intently, as though he's waiting for the picture to form enough to help him puzzle her out.
"You are quite the riddle, Agent Lisbon," he eventually says. "Fascinating, really."
"I'm flattered," she replies coolly, as though she is anything but.
"So, Patrick." Red John finally turns his attention away from her and onto Jane, who has been watching this all unfold with a sick feeling in his guts. "No doubt you're wondering why I brought her here, after all your efforts to keep her away?"
"I have a few theories, mostly centring around one or both of us meeting a terrible, grisly death."
He regrets the stricken look that appears on Lisbon's face with this deadpan remark, but quite frankly he's sick of being Red John's plaything.
"Patrick, I'm surprised at you. I didn't think you would still be so cavalier about the life of someone you care about. Haven't you learned your lesson?"
"You misunderstand me." He forces himself to smile. "The only ones with a chance of dying today are you and me. One way or another, she walks out of here without so much as a hair out of place. Got that?"
"Nobody needs to die," Red John says, smoothly. "You know I'd like nothing better than for us to be friends, Patrick, but you've been so resistant in the past I thought you could do with a little persuasion."
In the brief silence that follows comes the unmistakeable sound of the safety being disengaged from a gun. A young man in a chauffeur's uniform appears behind Lisbon, holding a revolver to her temple. She looks utterly shocked at being blindsided like this, her usual instincts dulled by worry for him, and now her life hangs in the balance.
"You hold the power. Whether she lives or dies is entirely in your control."
Fear courses through him. For a second he locks eyes with her and sees fear there too, but he struggles to keep his cool.
"The second she's out of the picture, you lose any leverage over me you might have," Jane points out. "I can assure you that killing her is not in your best interests, because I will personally tear every limb from your body."
It seems that Red John is expecting to hear something to this effect, as he merely smiles indulgently at the threat.
"A trade, then. Your loyalty for her freedom. Surrender yourself to me, Patrick, and I give you my word, no harm will come to her by my hand."
It's the easiest decision he's ever had to make. He'd agree to anything to keep her safe, even if it means pretending to turn into a Red John disciple. He's a showman, a performer, and he knows he can pull off a long con if he needs to. Even though it makes him sick to even think of being in allegiance with this monster; if it means she'll be out of the line of fire, it's well worth it.
"Jane, don't." She speaks so softly he can barely hear her. "I won't let you throw your lot in with him. He's not worth it."
"No, he's not," he agrees. "But you are." His eyes never leave hers.
"Don't be stupid."
He can see the despair starting to set in as she gazes at him, hoping her words might inspire a change of heart. He's not sure she's even conscious of the way her body shifts towards him just the tiniest bit, as though she's trying to close the distance between them in some small way.
"You didn't work this hard, for this long, just to pack it all in now," she goes on, as though desperate to make him see reason. "It's OK. I'm not afraid."
But she is. It's written all over her, in the way she stands, the way she speaks, even the way she breathes. Red John stands between them, and one of his puppets is still holding her at gunpoint, she'd be crazy if she weren't scared.
"You're the best thing in my life," he tells her, ignoring the serial killer and his lackey. "Without you, I have nothing."
"That's not true."
He almost wants to smile. Even here, now, she still wants to argue with him?
"You know it is. And at least this way it's on my terms."
"Well, this is touching," Red John once again shatters their private moment. "A most heartfelt confession, Patrick. I confess I wasn't sure you had it in you."
"Maybe you don't know me as well as you think you do."
"Lucky we've got the next twenty years or so to get to know each other better, don't you think?"
"I'm sure we'll end up becoming the best of friends," Jane replies sarcastically, "seeing as we've got off on such a good foot already, with your systematic destruction of pretty much everything I've ever cared about."
"Now Patrick, I wasn't the one who mouthed off about things I have no understanding of, and I'm not the one who drew another person into my twisted little game with empty promises and trickery."
Lisbon shoots him an astonished look and he knows they're both thinking of the same thing.
"You're kidding me, aren't you?" he eventually says. "Does the name Lorelei Martins mean anything to you at all?"
Red John gives a careless flick of his hand. "A meaningless pawn, just like all the others."
Out of the corner of his eye, Jane sees the young gunman's hands shake slightly, but otherwise give no sign of being affected by the words. And he understands. In Red John's eyes, Lorelei Martins is no more distinctive then any other of his mindless followers, useful for a while, but easily replaceable, an endless conveyer belt of resources. No doubt his followers know that their lives have an expiration date, but are just too brainwashed and devoted to care. The thought is rather disturbing.
Revenge would be easier if he too, could be that cold and unfeeling, but he can't do it, no matter how he tries. And it's all because of her. If it weren't for her he'd still be the shell of a person he was when he was first released from the mental institution. Maybe that person would have been better equipped for what he is facing.
But then he hears it, a scuffling sound just outside the door Lisbon came through, as though several pairs of feet are moving around as their owners jostle for position in a small space and when he listens closer, he can also hear the hiss of lowered voices. He can only assume that the team has found them, and when he catches Lisbon eye, knows she has heard it too. Even the young follower's shoulders stiffen in response to the sound. But Red John, drunk on his own self-satisfaction, appears not to.
He knows that Cho and his team wait only for an opportune moment to burst into the room, guns blazing, and if he doesn't act now, his personal revenge will be robbed from him in a hail of bullets. Speed is essential, if he's going to take what he deserves.
It is common knowledge that people can act irrationally when they feel like they've been backed into a corner. It's the only reason she can think of to explain what possesses Jane to make a sudden lunge at Red John with a gleaming silver knife in his hand. The attack takes the killer by surprise, and they both tumble to the ground, and she hears her own cry of despair as though from a far distance. Then, everything is movement and sound as the door crashes open and a SWAT team pours into the room, lead by Cho, with Van Pelt bringing up the rear. She uses the sudden distraction to thrust an elbow into her captor's solar plexus, making him drop his weapon, and then another to his nose, feeling it break, and hearing his howl of pain.
SWAT immediately closes in to subdue him and then she quickly cuts her eyes to where Jane and Red John are wrestling for control of the knife. For someone who never works out, Jane's stronger than she thought, or maybe it's just pure hatred that's aiding him, because they're relatively evenly matched. They're both grunting and straining with the effort, but neither is willing to relinquish his grip on the knife, because to do so means the certainty of death.
"No!" she hears herself cry, and then suddenly, Jane falters. He loses his grip for just a moment, but it's enough for Red John to wrest the knife from him, and plunge it into his chest. His scream of pain makes her feel like she's just been stabbed too, and then, without thinking, she's running to his side.
"Boss!" Cho yells after her, but her focus is all for her consultant who is lying on his back, panting and gasping. Blood is beginning to flow from the wound as she falls to her knees beside him. Behind her, she hears Red John's quiet laughter as she applies pressure to try and stop the blood, and then white hot fury, more potent she's ever experienced before surges through her body. She always said that she would bring him in alive, but she can make it up to God later. This ends now.
"Take him out!" she commands her team. Cho, Van Pelt and SWAT raise their weapons as one, and she instinctively covers Jane's body with hers as a volley of gunfire begins. The air is thick with flying bullets, but all she cares about is the slight rise and fall of his chest, and soft whisper of breath escaping his nose and mouth that tells her she hasn't lost him yet.
Later, the coroner's report will reveal that Red John is dead long before the final shot is fired.
Jane knows before he even opens his eyes that he's in a hospital. In his extensive experience with the public health system, he's found that they all have a particular smell, like antiseptic, slightly soiled linen, and death.
When he finally does manage to prise open his heavy lids, a human shaped blur slowly becomes discernable in a chair beside his bed. He knows this blur, he finds, as his vision begins to clear, and broad shoulders and the sharp, straight angles of a book slowly come into focus.
Cho calmly marks his place with a piece of paper and closes the book.
"Where's Lisbon?" Of all of them, he would have expected her to be the one huddled at his bedside, maybe holding his hand, talking to him or even crying over his motionless form. He tries to imagine Cho doing even one of those things and chuckles to himself. He soon regrets this, because it hurts.
"She went to the vending machine to get something to eat. She's been here all night." He moves towards the bed, and pulls up the side guardrail. Jane watches him in bewilderment, but understands when he takes a set of shining cuffs from his pocket, and cuffs him to the rail with practiced ease. "She said to do this the moment you woke up," Cho informs him. "And she said you'd know why."
His mind flashes back to the last time handcuffs figured in his life, and sighs.
"I do. Tell her that her message was received."
"Good." For the second time in as many days, Lisbon looks like an angel, framed in the doorway, this time exacerbated by the blinding whiteness of the hospital corridor. She's holding a packet of chips and a soda, and she looks absolutely exhausted, but the brilliant smile on her face makes up for it.
"Will you be all right if I head off boss?" asks Cho at once, getting to his feet, slightly unsteadily, Jane notices.
"Of course," she assures him. "Go and get some rest. And thank you."
Something unspoken passes between the two agents for a moment, before Cho says a quick goodbye to Jane, and leaves the room.
"What's with him?" Jane asks, as she takes the vacated chair, and opens the chip packet, but then, changing her mind, abandons it and comes to stand by the bed.
"You scared the hell out of me, you jerk," she says, but in the gentle tone she always uses when he's sick or hurt. "For a while there, I thought you weren't going to make it."
"Well, you know me," he says, would-be-casually. "I like to keep you guessing." He gestures to the cuffs. "How long do you plan on keeping me shackled like this, copper?"
"Until I'm confident you won't take off the moment I turn my back. Which will probably be never."
"I see. It might make things a little difficult work-wise though."
To his surprise, she reaches over and runs her fingers through his hair, the gentle pulling feels so good, and he lets out a small moan. She instantly pulls her hand away in horror.
"I'm sorry, did that hurt?"
"No," he says, patiently, nodding at his bandaged chest, "This hurts. Nothing you do could ever hurt me-well other than the occasional punch in the face," he adds, idly, and she laughs, resuming the stroking of his hair.
Her other hand is resting on the guardrail, and he gently takes it in his own, feeling its warmth, before bringing to his lips and laying a kiss on her palm.
"So, it's over now," he says, presently. "He's gone."
A slight pause in the rhythm of her stroking indicates that she is a little surprised at the change of topic, but she submits to it.
"How do you feel?" she asks.
It's a large question, and he muses on it for a while, rubbing circles on the back of her hand with his thumb.
"Grateful, I think," he eventually answers. "Grateful that I've done what I set out to do, and that he can't hurt anyone anymore-in particular, you."
"It's like you read my mind," she said, placing a gentle kiss to the top of his head. "But how do you feel about them?" she goes on.
"The same. He might be gone, but so are they, and now, I guess I don't have any way to hold onto them." The thought makes him feel slightly empty. He's lived for them for so long, what is he supposed to do now?
"Don't be an idiot," she scolds him, gently. "As long you remember them, you'll always be able to hold onto them. Don't they teach you fake psychics anything at psychic school?"
"Mostly just stage presence, and the proper care of shiny suits," he deadpans. "That's all you really need. Now, come here." He gazes into those gorgeous eyes, which immediately fill with suspicion.
"How I am supposed to kiss you if you're all the way over there?" he asks. "And seeing as you're holding me hostage right now, you're going to have to come to me."
She complies with his request and they share the long, slow kiss they should have had before. Her lips are softer then he remembers, and sweeter. All his senses are screaming at him to pull her down onto the bed with him, but with one hand still twisted in hers and the other cuffed to the rail, he's at something of a loss. Yes, he's good at escaping from things, but he's not Houdini after all, and anything he attempts would require him to stop kissing her, and he's not OK with that.
He feels her fingers still running through his hair, and hears her sigh, as he deepens the kiss. This feels like a dream come true, but after a few minutes, reality (or rather, biology) comes clattering in, reminding him that if he doesn't take a breath soon, this may end unpleasantly. He holds off until the last possible second before breaking the kiss, gasping for breath, and is pleased that she is too.
"I love you." The worlds tumble out before he can really think about them. "I thought you'd like me to say it first for once, and without taking it back."
"Say it again." Her voice is low and seductive.
"I love you," he repeats, and the next few minutes are devoted to kissing her again. He very much looks forward to working on their stamina in the coming months.
"I'm not sure I remembered to thank you for getting me out of there," he says, once he can speak again. "And for everything else you've done for me."
"All part of the deal," she quips.
"Don't make fun, I'm trying to be serious," he scolds.
"So am I. I've always done whatever it takes to keep you with me, and I always will." She gently pecks his lips. "Besides, I'm not the only one you should be thanking."
"What do you mean?"
She looks slightly at war with herself, biting her lip and glancing away from him, as though debating whether or not to share the information she has, but in the end, she speaks.
"You lost a lot of blood," she begins. "You nearly flat-lined in the ambulance, and when they got you to the hospital the doctors decided you needed a transfusion right away, and there wasn't enough blood in storage. I offered, but I wasn't a match for you. Cho was the only one who was."
"Yes," she confirms. "He saved your life."
"You both did," he says; his friend's unsteady footing and Lisbon's grateful looks suddenly making a lot more sense. "I think I owe Cho a big bottle of top-shelf scotch."
"He's more of a beer drinker," she points out.
"Then I'll send him on an all-expenses paid brewery tour," he says. "He and Rigsby can make a day of it." He turns to her, and shoots her the most heart-melting smile he can muster. "And as for you, my avenging angel, what would you like as a 'thanks for saving my ass again' present?"
She lowers herself so their lips are level with his again, but stops just before they can meet. "Use your imagination."
He touches her cheek. "Well, my love, what I have in mind will have to wait until I'm back at full capacity-and preferably somewhere a little more private," he adds, as a noisy band of trainee doctors stride past the door, following a bored-looking resident.
"I know an office with a really good chair," she says teasingly.
"And I know where there's a really awesome couch," he counters, "but all in good time. For now though," he scotches over a little, "there's room up here."
"You know, you've used that line on me before," she says, with a smile, unhooking the handcuffs to make some room for herself.
"In your fugue state," she explains. "You were a real jackass then."
"A jackass maybe, but always with impeccable taste. Even fugue Patrick knows perfection when he sees it."
"Really? Another cheesy pick-up line?" She slides onto the bed, and feels him wrap his arms around her.
"You're right. It was overkill, when the first one had already worked so well."
"Don't forget I could cuff you again at any time," she reminds him.
He pushes some of her hair aside and kisses her neck, making her squirm with delight. "Oh believe me, my dear. I'm counting on that."
I hope you liked this. It felt a little disjointed when I was writing it but it turned out OK. And I hope nobody minds that I skipped the somewhat obligatory 'waiting for the ambulance/I love you scene' that normally tends to appear in stories like these. I just felt that it's been done by others far better than I could ever do.