Tony is grading papers when the phone rings, and he finds that he's grateful for the interruption. The papers aren't all bad, but they are too surface, too facile. Undergrads aren't sophisticated enough yet to do real analysis. They don't understand how it works. They don't understand what it's like to reach into someone's mind and peel them open until all you see is the dirty, ugly things within. He gives Harrison an 87 as he picks up the receiver.
"Tony Hill," he says.
"Tony," Alex says from the other side of the line, "we've got a case we'd like you to take a look at." She sounds the way she usually does when she calls, tired and unhappy.
"Should I meet you at the station, then?" he asks. He's been dreaming of victims lately: pretty women with their hearts cut out, smooth bankers strangled with their own ties, little girls in pink dresses, their bodies cold and stiff. He's glad for this case; otherwise, he'd be climbing out of his own skin.
Alex says, "No, we're at the crime scene. 102 Briarwood Street. I think you'll want to get here as soon as possible."
It's still in the middle of the day, just after noon. The view outside his window is gray underneath overcast skies. He'll need to get Jennifer to cover his one o'clock lecture, but that shouldn't be too hard to arrange. "I'll be there in fifteen minutes," he says.
102 Briarwood is a pleasant red-brick semi, classic Council Housing, cordoned off with yellow police tape. Tony can see pink flowers in a pot through the front window. Police cars surround the area. A few of the officers let him pass without a word, not even bothering to greet him. Sometimes, Tony forgets that he has a reputation, that not everyone understands what he does.
"Good," Alex says when she sees him. "You're here." She leads him towards the front door. Her hands are already covered in white gloves. The smell of death gets stronger as they get closer. When Tony first started assisting the police, he could barely breathe at the crime scenes, his stomach rolling uncomfortably as he inspected the bodies. But now the smell is almost comforting in its familiarity. He likes the way his world narrows when he has a case.
The smell envelops him as he steps inside in the house. Fresh red-brown streaks line the carpet. A struggle then. The pattern is too erratic to be deliberate. The body is in the kitchen, stabbed, eviscerated. Blood is pooling beneath the kitchen counter.
The victim is -- was -- a man, about mid-forties, Caucasian, hair thinning. He's wearing a blue sweater with fraying cuffs. Parts of it are soaked a dark red-purple. There is a hole on the bottom of his left shoe.
Above him, a smiling face is hand-drawn in blood on the refrigerator. The killer used so much blood that the eyes look as though they are crying, red tears dripping down its face. "Ah," Tony says, muttering under his breath, "you always did have a fondness for signing your work." Still, this is somewhat somewhat out of character for him if Tony recalls his papers correctly. He raises his voice. "What do we know about the victim?"
Alex inspects a spilled pepper shaker to Tony's right, as Paula joins them in the kitchen. Paula says, "James Callahan. Forty-six years old. Drove a taxi for Ashley Private Hire. His wife works there as well. She found him when she came home from working the morning shift. Estimated time of death is 6 A.M., but we'll need a coroner's report to confirm. "
Tony takes that in as he circles the body. Why this one? he thinks. That's the key, isn't it? That's what we need to find out? He catches sight of a mark on the side of Callahan's neck. "What's that?" he asks.
Alex steps in closer, pushes back Callahan's head to get a better look. The number "6" is carved into the neck, unambiguous and clear. A message.
"Something's wrong about this," Tony says.
Paula looks confused from where she's flipping through calendars and appointment books. "Why's that?" she asks.
"This isn't how he does things. It doesn't fit into his pattern," Tony says. It's an itch, gnawing under his skin. He needs to get all the pieces to fit, and they're refusing to do so. That usually means he's missing something, that there's some small piece he needs to transform the entire picture.
Alex folds her arms. "The basics are all here. We've got the mark, the body. He's left messages before."
Tony shakes his head. "Serial killers rarely change hunting grounds. They need to keep coming back, again and again. The farthest he's ever gone before is Mexico. Why start here? Why start with a man? He's only ever done that once before. What he really hates, what he really needs to kill again and again, is women."
Paula shrugs. "Maybe there's a reason he's here that we don't know about," she says.
"Of course! I hadn't even thought of that," Tony snaps, because he knows that; he's taking it into account. Paula's good at her job, but she doesn't understand them. Not the way Tony does.
He needs more data, still. He needs more details. There's not enough to go on, not yet.
Tony's always thought that giving serial killers nicknames is a bit daft. Feeds into their egos, their desperate need to get noticed, gives them delusions that they're more than the pathetic little sniveling worms they are. He sets up the central white board with everything they know. James Callahan in the middle, a picture of his lifeless body sprawled out on the kitchen floor. Red John's mark visible just above his head.
Tony doesn't put up the other victims. They'd just be distractions until he's sure. Until he knows without a doubt.
"A copycat, then?" Alex says, stepping forward so she's standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tony. Her hair smells like shampoo, like morning coffee.
Tony stares at the board, willing something to appear amongst his hasty scribbles, but it's not enough. It's a faint outline at best. "It'll do. For now. Do we have the casefiles on the other victims?" he asks. In the cool flourescent light, the body looks wrong. Not vivid and bursting with life as they were when the killer drew his knife and stabbed them to death, their blood and viscera a bright, brilliant red. More, he needs more. Tony doesn't usually need much, but Red John is too sophisticated, his M.O. too varied to really understand how he works on the inside. He thinks he'll enjoy the challenge of this one.
"I spoke to the California Bureau. They're going to be faxing us everything they have. It'll take them a couple days to get all of the files together," Alex says. She examines Tony's board a little more closely. "Red John. I've always thought that was a funny name."
Tony nods and rubs the back of his neck. No one's laughing.
There's another murder before they can receive all the files from the CBI. A waitress, this time, more along the same lines of the original Red John murders. Female, attractive. A reversion to type, maybe? Or just another piece of the larger plan. Alex hands him the file with a grimace.
Tony spends some time going over the file. Mary Donaldson. Twenty-three. Was killed at around 1 A.M. after her shift at a hole in the wall restaurant at the edge of Bradfield's business district. They've already taken the body away, but there are plenty of photographs so that he can retrace the steps. Most of the police have cleared out by the time Tony arrives at the restaurant, just a few men at the door, and it seems hollow and empty without anyone inside. The sound of Tony's footsteps seem too loud. It would be unnerving if Tony was feeling more like himself, but he'd been sleeping badly last night, short and dreamless. He'd woken suddenly while the sky was still dark, while he was still restless in his own skin.
Working on this case calms his nerves somewhat. There's a certain artistry to Red John's serial killing, a beauty to how he does his work. The killer, whether he is Red John or a copycat, had carefully arranged the body behind the back counter so that at first glance, it merely looked like she was laying down on the floor behind the counter. Her untouched legs were the only things visible underneath Red John's signature. The blood used to paint the eyes of the smiling face had dripped down to the mouth before it dried.
The number "5" is carved in the same place on Donaldson's neck as it was on Callahan's. A count down, then. To what, Tony can only speculate, but it's a part of the master plan, he's sure. It'll all fall into place when the killer wants it to.
Tony's phone rings, the beeping echoing in the empty room. "Hello?" Tony says as he answers.
It's Kevin. "Alex wants you here when she questions our first witness," he says. Tony can hear the hum of the station behind him.
Tony says, "I'll be right there."
On the drive back, Tony turns the case over in his head. "Why her?" he asks the empty car. "Why someone so different from Callahan? Was it her eyes, her nose, her hair? Did she look at you the wrong way when she brought you your dinner?" He thinks of the photo of Mary Donaldson in the case file, of her smiling to the camera, her mousy brown hair hanging down past her shoulders. He thinks of Callahan's body, blood splattering all over the walls, the floor.
There are some who would say that killers like Red John are just crazy, that there's no reason why they do what they do. But Tony knows better. Their actions always have their own internal logic to them. In the end, their actions always make sense. But with this case, Tony can't figure out Red John's logic, can't understand why.
And he might just be full of himself, but that could mean another four people will die.
Alex does the interview alone, but Tony watches from behind the one-way mirror, ready to lend a hand if he needs to. But he's learned over the years to take a step back occasionally, let the police do their jobs while he does his own. Alex is interviewing Emily, another waitress from the same restaurant. She's a small girl, who Tony recognizes as a student at Bradfield University. He has seen her around a few times, headphones on, her nose shoved in a book. He never thought he'd see her here. She apparently never thought so either, because she seems uncomfortable with Alex's attention on her, fidgeting in her seat.
"When did you last see Mary?" Alex asks. She's going about this the right way, her voice soft and non-threatening, very careful not to spook the girl.
Emily still seems to pull into herself. "Last night, right before I went home from work." She slouches in the chair, unable to meet Alex's eyes. Her voice shakes a little as she speaks. The table between them seems larger.
"Was she with anyone then? Someone you've never seen before?" Alex continues.
"She was in the back alley having a smoke when I left." She's uncomfortable, but not evasive. Tony can see that in the tilt of her head, the curl of her shoulder. He enjoys this part of the job, the way it forces him to think on his feet, use his skills in every moment he's on the case. Reading papers can be too sterile.
Alex nods. "Was there anyone else there that night who was suspicious? Anyone new? Anyone you hadn't seen before?"
"Mostly regulars. There was an American I'd never seen before who came in earlier that night. But he left several hours before I did. That's about it." Emily bites her lip as she shrugs.
Tony can see Alex's back straightening, her body language becoming more alert and eager. "This American, what did he look like?"
"Don't really remember. Dark hair, average looking, not very tall." It could be him. It has the potential.
Alex leans forward and says, "Tell me everything you know about him."
After Emily leaves, Alex finds Tony where he's still standing behind the glass. Tony says, "The American isn't him." He stares at the empty interrogation room. The chairs are still left at haphazard angles from the table.
Alex tilts her head. "It's not much, but it's the best lead we have." Her arms are folded across her chest; her jaw is clenched tight. She doesn't understand. She doesn't see what Tony sees. When she gets like this, all cold and stubborn, she reminds him of Carol in the early days, like she's made of untouchable ice.
"He'd never be so careless as to give himself away like that," Tony says. "He's eluded capture for years. There's no reason why he'd make himself obvious now."
Alex asks, "What about the copycat?"
"It is still a possibility," Tony says. The copycat, yes. It is the most reasonable explanation at this point. It would explain everything, the location, the timetable, the erratic behavior. I want to be like you. Your work inspires me. A few extra little flourishes here and there, maybe, but I'm preserving the the true essence of your art.
Tony's not completely convinced. The worship of a copycat isn't quite there. The person who's doing this doesn't care about the details, hasn't obsessively recreated every inch of the original crimes. The person who's doing this is deliberate, but not deliberate enough.
Paula sticks her head in. "Guv, those files you wanted are here," she says.
Alex turns away from Tony, leaving him staring at her long, brown hair, hanging down past her shoulders. "Thanks, Paula," she says. A quick glance back at Tony. "I'll let you have the first look," she tells him.
"I'd like that," Tony says.
Hours later, Tony is still up to his elbows in old case files. Kevin is off chasing Emily's American, and so Tony is using his desk for the time being. Kevin's job is to chase down available leads. Tony's job is to look into the places where no one else dares to visit.
Tony has read all the standard literature on Red John, all the papers that have shown up in academic journals. Police reports are different than papers. They're colder, more raw, closer to the murders and yet further away. He likes it, the unfiltered, unvarnished truth of what had happened. Other perspectives can color too much of the details, putting too much emphasis on one detail or leaving out others entirely.
Tony starts taking notes on the board itself with dry-erase marker. First victim. Marisa Thompson. CEO of a small shipping company, one that was later connected to a drug cartel. Considering Red John's resources and accomplices, she was probably a business associate of some sort.
"But then," Tony murmurs, "something happened. She needed to be disposed of, and you wanted to do it personally. You wanted to watch her die. It could have been quick and easy: a gunshot to the head, a slit throat. But it wasn't going to be enough, was it? No, you needed to cut her open. And after that, you needed her to be an example, so you signed her murder with your mark." He traces the photograph of the smile over Thompson's dead body with two fingers. "So that everyone would know it was you."
He turns to the next victim. Danielle Hernandez, a minor player in California politics who was trying to move forward some important anti-crime legislation at the time of her murder. "It didn't stop with Thompson, though," Tony says, "did it? You got a taste for it. You couldn't get enough. This one, here. You just didn't like her. Didn't like her meddling, her reforms. She needed to be stopped, and you had just the thing. Yes, you could do it again, and this time, it felt even better. You couldn't stop, could you?"
He turns towards the accomplices. "And you convinced them to help you. You gave them meaning and purpose. You gave them gifts, promised them the world, and they loved you for it. They loved you even when they were caught for assisting you in your crimes. Was that part of it, too? The power you had over them?" Tony shakes his head. "No, they were nothing, just tools. Useful up until the point when you need to dispose of them." Tony pulls out the newest case files. "The American isn't you, clearly, but does he belong to you? Is he one of yours? Was that why he was in the restaurant that night?"
Tony frowns at the photographs of the latest victims. Callahan and Donaldson. Their bodies sprawled, lifeless. "Why these now?" he asks. "You need reasons to kill. A way to justify it to yourself. 'They wanted to hide the damning evidence' or 'their husbands insulted me on television.' These two weren't threats. I have a hard time believing you knew them before you gutted them. It comes back to the numbers, the countdown, doesn't it? Figure out the countdown, and we'll have the pattern."
Tony traces through the other files, the other victims, getting lost in details, suspects, crime scenes. He blinks, and the office is dark. Overhead fluorescents are dimmed. Desk lamps are switched off. Tony's eyelids are beginning to feel heavy. His back is beginning to twinge. He should go now, he knows. He can almost hear Carol's voice. You really shouldn't be in right now, she'd say, the barest hint of a smile on her lips, kind and indulgent.
He gathers up his things, and he goes.
That night, Tony dreams he is holding a knife. He dreams that he is holding a knife, and there is a beautiful body spread out before him. The human body has, on average, five litres of blood pumping underneath its skin, and at least half of that has spilled out onto the floor. Tony is wearing gloves. He is wearing gloves, and so he can't feel the blood on his skin as he dips his fingers into the wound, gathers it up. The blood is so red against the white gloves, against the tan paint of the wall. He starts drawing the cir--
-- and he wakes up to the harsh gray light of morning spilling in through the eastern window, his heart beating too fast, the image of the smiling face still just behind his retinas.
The police find the American Emily was referring to the next day. Ben Simmons of New York, New York. An executive of some sort, a workaholic, probably not Red John unless he's been been commuting to California between hostile takeovers
"He could still be our copycat," Alex says, when Tony shows up the next morning. "He doesn't have an alibi for that night."
Paula shrugs and says, "We've traced his whereabouts for the last few days. No one says they saw him the night of the first murder, either."
"It's still not enough to hold him, though," Kevin says, cutting in. "We still can't connect him to Callahan in any way."
Alex takes that all in before she makes her final decision. After a moment, she says, "All right. We''l let him go, but I want him under constant surveillance. The murders indicate that the killer is thinking about taking three more victims. If Simmons is the killer, I want to make sure that doesn't happen."
"Yes, Guv," Kevin says. He picks up the phone as Paula heads towards the cells.
There is a third murder, unfortunately, and Tony ends up back at the station as Alex fills him in on what they know about the latest victim. "Jeremy Patterson. Worked at Brisby and Lowe as a sales associate. He was killed in the toilets in the middle of the day. We're still in the process of locating eyewitnesses." They're walking through the hallways to Alex's car. Her shoes clack in a steady rhythm on the floor, a little faster than Tony is expecting them to.
"No one noticed this?" Tony asks, scurrying to catch up. "In the middle of the day?"
They arrive at Alex's car, and she says, "Someone put up a sign claiming that the room was undergoing maintenance. No one bothered to check if it was actually scheduled or not. We still have to go through the security tapes, but that's going to take time."
Now this timing is an interesting move for their killer. Arrogant, certainly, and if he is Red John, not entirely surprising. It is a striking message, Tony has to admit. I can get you anywhere, anytime. "And Simmons?" Tony asks as he pulls open the car door and slides inside. "What about him?"
Alex starts the engine. "In meetings all day. Dozens of witnesses, including the surveillance team. He's not our man."
The Brisby and Lowe building is new, corporate, all clear glass and stainless steel. A sort of soulless place, if someone were to ask Tony, but then again, there was a reason he decided to go for academia. A few uniformed policemen direct them to the twelfth floor.
There's police tape blocking the door to the crime scene, and as Tony steps underneath it, he catches sight of the smiling face, painted in fresh blood on the large mirror that hangs over the sinks. One long streak has reached the marble counter tops. In the mirror, Tony can see that the man's body is slumped against the stalls, his arms hanging at his sides. His white shirt is soaked through with dark red blood. A mobile phone has fallen out of his pocket.
Next to the smiling face, the killer wrote, "I know you're coming for me," also in the victim's blood. All capital letters. The 'o' in 'for' is a little smudged.
"What do you think it means?" Alex asks.
Tony stands in front of the message, traces out each letter in the air. "It's not for us," he says. "No, with the numbers, the locations, the victims. He's talking to someone in particular. Someone else."
A furrowed brow on Aex's face. "Then who is he speaking to?" She doesn't look entirely convinced.
"That would be me," a voice says from behind them. American accent. Blond hair. Nice suit. Broad smile. The man offers a hand. "Patrick Jane. It's a pleasure to meet you."
After speaking to him for a few minutes, Alex asks Jane to come to the station for further questioning, and he just grins and says, "Sure," like none of this is bothering him at all. Tony knows the name, the way Red John has irrevocably destroyed Patrick Jane's entire life. His wife and daughter. The CBI murders. It would be impossible to study Red John and not know his story. Jane looks just about how Tony imagined him: charming, attractive, carelessly charismatic. A perfect television personality if there ever was one. But there's something else underneath, something sharp, something that can cut.
Alex and Jane talk in one of the interrogation rooms. Tony doesn't listen in, though he is tempted, and when she comes out, Alex finds him at Kevin's desk.
"He wants to join the investigation," she says, leaning against the edge of the desk. "I have to admit that we could use his expertise."
Tony doesn't bother looking up from the files spread out in front of him. "He's an obsessive, of course he knows more about this than anyone else. This is his entire life, Alex. He probably spends every waking moment thinking about this case."
"Then what do you recommend?" Alex asks.
Tony considers Jane's wide smile at the scene of the crime, the darkness lingering in the corners of his eyes. "I'll need to speak with him first," Tony says. "I think there's something he's trying to hide."
In the interrogation room, Jane leans back in his chair and crosses his legs as Tony takes the chair across from him. Tony tries to size up Jane, but he's all surface, far too capable of deflecting any deeper scrutiny. Tony will need to find a way to provoke an honest reaction from him. He can see a little of why Red John might want to draw him out, play with him. I decided to come up with this new game, you see? Can you figure it out?
"You're a shrink," Jane says, as though that amuses him. He looks at Tony directly, as if he can stare straight through Tony's skin, Tony's flesh, Tony's bones. But Tony has stared down serial killers and child molesters, and he doesn't let the look get to him.
"A clinical psychologist, actually. Dr. Tony Hill," Tony says. "Do you have problems with 'shrinks'?"
"Not actually," Jane says, unfazed. "I was merely stating a fact. And guessing by your response, you're here to get into my head and declare me fit for duty." A slight smirk. "Why don't you save us both the trouble and just tell me what I need to do in order to pass."
Tony lays out a notebook on the table and begins to take notes. He never enjoys dealing with the intelligent ones, especially when they're convinced they're untouchable. So he says, "So tell me, Mr. Jane, how did it feel to find your wife and daughter dead in your bedroom?" He keeps his voice brusque and sharp.
What Tony hopes for is a flinch and withdrawal, a defensive reaction of some sort, a tiny bit of raw honestly amongst Jane's polished lies. Jane just lets his expression grow tight and serious, almost real enough, and says, "It was probably the worst moment of my life, and it screwed me up so badly I ended up in a mental institution. Does that answer your question?"
When he has dangerous patients, Tony isn't afraid when they're ranting and raving and swinging their arms about, but he's always terrified when they go cold and still, all that capacity for violence just waiting to be unleashed. "And what about now?" Tony asks, pushing a little harder. "Do you think your feelings have affected your performance recently?"
But Jane doesn't snap the way Tony wants him too. He pulls back, regains control of himself. "Every night, I fall asleep wishing that I could have done things differently," he says. His voice is soft and soothing and even, a quiet undertone of pain lingering underneath.
Tony scribbles down control in his notebook and underlines it a few times. "Oh," he says. "You're good. You're very good. I bet you've fooled quite a few people with that act. I'll even believe that some of what you've told me is true. But that doesn't mean it's not an act, does it?" He has clearly perfected the art of telling people what they want to hear, and Tony has met quite a few people who were quite good at that, but Jane is the best he's ever seen.
Jane's expression doesn't give anything away, but he does tilt his head, just enough to bring out the bags under his eyes. They're vivid and dark, like twin bruises. Tony writes down insomnia. Jane says, "Tell me, Dr. Hill, why did you want to become a psychologist?"
Tony gets that question a lot, actually. He has two answers for it. The true one and the one he tells everyone who asks. He could tell Jane the fake one, but Tony suspects that Jane is perceptive to realize how many empty spaces there are in the fake one. "This isn't about me," Tony says. "This is about you and whether or not you are fit to be working on this case."
A sharp twist of Jane's lips and a sudden shift in his demeanor. "I know how he thinks, how he operates. I've been working this case in California for years. You can pretend you don't need me on this, but you'd be wrong."
"What if this killer is a copycat? How does your expertise help us then?"
"Ah," Jane says, gesturing at Tony expansively, a grin starting to form on his face, "but you don't really believe that. You know it's him, too. This isn't the work of a copycat."
At this point, Tony has pretty much made up his mind, but there is one last question he wants to ask. "What will you do when you finally find him? I'm sure you have it all planned out, down to the last detail. Are you planning on doing to him what he does to them? Slice him open and watch him bleed? Hear him scream in agony?" Tony thinks he knows the answer to these questions. What he wants is to see the expression on Jane's face as he lies.
Jane's smile slips away as he leans forward. "I'd arrest him and bring him to the police for justice, of course," he says. "The law must be upheld."
The expression he wears when he's lying is almost identical to the expression he wears when he's telling the truth.
Alex catches Tony just as he's leaving the interrogation room. "So what do you think?" she asks.
"He is what he claims to be. He knows this case. He knows this killer. He's highly intelligent. He-- " Whatever else Tony thinks of him, it's impossible to deny that Tony respects Jane's skills a great deal.
Alex cuts in before Tony can continue. "All I want to know is if he'll be a liability on this case or not." She doesn't trust easily even under the best of circumstances, and this could hardly be considered the best of circumstances.
Tony says, "He won't let himself be a liability on this case. He needs it too much to ever let it come to that." Whether or not that will will hurt them in the end, Tony can't tell.
Alex frowns, her brow knitting in a familiar expression. She measures the pros and cons against each other until she comes up with an answer, and Tony can usually tell which side she'll come down on before she says so out loud. Which is why it's no surprise when she finally says, "All right. He's on the team."
Jane's arrival to the team doesn't pass without incident. Paula takes to him as easily as she took to Tony himself, but Kevin seems to resent Jane's presence after Jane makes a comment about Kevin's girlfriend that Tony doesn't quite follow. Otherwise, Jane behaves exactly the way Tony would expect, with the single-minded focus of a man obsessed. He almost seems to live in the station, always in a conversation with an officer or a witness. Tony had wondered if the work would help Jane get some sleep, but the bags remain under his eyes, even though he doesn't let it show in any other way.
Tony has his own work to do, and he spends his time building a profile using some of the new information Jane has provided. White male, older, probably 45-60 years old. Charismatic, intelligent, well-educated. He probably runs a completely unrelated criminal enterprise as well, which is how he finds his accomplices, people he can draw into this sort of crime. Jane gives him some physical descriptors. Under six feet tall, with short, straight hair. All of this information is too general as of right now, but Tony hopes it will be useful in the end.
He spends a few late nights at the station, accidentally falling asleep on Kevin's desk a few times. He's reluctant to leave and return to the hostile quiet of his own home. He has never been quite as comfortable in his own mind as he is when he's trying to get into someone else's. His board is full now, covered in pictures, scribbled words. An imperfect map of a person. Disparate fragments tied haphazardly together.
Another murder. The police find the body in the evening in one of the city's smaller public parks. The smiling face is pained on the park's paved running path, no drips to mar the lines, while the body was dumped in the nearby bushes.
At the crime scene, Tony leans over the signature mark, the buzz of voices and sirens behind him. It's dark outside now, the sky above them a black-gray, tinged with the orange of streetlights. It was probably dark or getting there when Red John killed as well, as the park is nearly empty at the moment, and the smiling face was very conveniently placed underneath a street light. It looks even more eerie here, under the orange glow of the lamp, the long shadows of night.
"He's experimenting," Tony says, mostly to himself, "trying new things." A few flashbulbs nearly blind him as a few officers take photographs of the face drawn on the pavement, the positioning of the body. This is a new game for Red John, a new M.O. He's decided to kill outside the home now. "You'd think he'd make more mistakes with these new decisions, but he's doing this quite carefully."
Alex comes up to where he's standing, disgust on her face as she inspects the mark. "We found an ID on the body. Her name is Gretchen Miller, and Paula is looking into her background."
"And the number?" Tony asks.
"It's a three, like you'd expect."
The body is not positioned nicely. There probably wasn't enough time to give it the attention it deserved, not out in the open like this. Dr. Vernon confirms that the cuts are deep still as deep and precise as they've always been, so it's not that that he didn't take pleasure in the act of killing itself. The number "3" is carved into her neck.
Jane arrives on the crime scene without an entrance, and he almost looks as grim as Tony feels. Most days, Jane likes to pretend that he thinks it's all a joke, a comedy where only he knows the punch lines. Coping mechanisms. Tony has met enough people who need them that he doesn't begrudge Jane for his.
"No message this time?" Jane says. He looks over the body by getting close to it, sniffing the neck, poking her shoes, pressing his cheek to the ground so he can stare into her lifeless eyes. "She's a regular runner," he says when he's completed his inspection. "Her thighs are built like someone who likes to blow off a little steam every day after work, and the soles of her sneakers are rubbed smooth."
Tony nods. That sounds about right. "Humans are creatures of habit. This was probably her regular jogging route. Same park. Same path. Every day exactly the same. Except for today." He imagines what her face must have looked like when Red John grabbed her. A mix of shock and horror, perhaps. Fear tightening every muscle in her body. Maybe it's that, the watching, the seeing that Red John craves.
Tony rubs his face and eyes, try to will the seeping fatigue away. All this work, and all they have to show for it is more bodies. Sometimes, Tony wonders if he likes doing this job too much, but right now, all he feels is exhaustion.
"I'm really beginning to hate that face," Kevin says as he starts at the mark drawn on the sidewalk, and Tony has to admit that he agrees.
Gretchen Miller is a personal assistant to one Henry Davidson, an upper level sales manager for Scheinhardt International. Nobody had seen her since she had left for her run, and the last person who had was the doorman who she had passed by on her way out.
Jane suggests that they investigate her office first, and Alex agrees that it would probably be the best next step. The longer Tony watches Jane on the case, the more concerned he becomes. The work he's doing isn't suffering, far from it, but each day, something in his eyes grows colder and darker. He reminds Tony of Colin, a bright ten-year-old boy, an orphan. His father had died of cancer early on, and his mother was killed in a robbery while Colin was asleep in his bedroom. Tony had been called in to assess why Colin hadn't spoken a word since his mother's death, not a single peep. Tony had spent quite a few sessions sitting across from the boy, watching as all that anger built up inside him.
Jane's just much better at hiding it than Colin ever was.
Miller's office is clean, neat, everything laid out in perfect angles. All the surfaces have been wiped clean of dust. She was a perfectionist, Tony can tell. She lived her life in the details.
Jane is going through the items in her desk, disturbing the precision of her arrangement every single time he places something back down. Tony chooses to investigate the plaques on the walls, nothing interesting, nothing particularly special. There are a few pictures of family placed on top of her file cabinet, in tasteful wooden picture frames.
"I think we've found Red John's accomplice," Jane says suddenly from his place at the desk, and everyone turns to look at him.
"She was?" Alex asks, her mouth creased into a from. "How do you figure that?"
Jane holds up a black appointment book, which is crammed full of pale yellow post-it notes. "Right here," he says. "She scheduled an appointment between Davidson and one Benjamin Simmons for the morning she died."
Paula sighs. Kevin kicks the wall. Alex gives them both level looks, before she says, "Bring him in again. I think we're due for another chat."
"How long have you been working for him?" Jane asks. His voice is eerily, unsettlingly casual. The bend in his spine might almost fool someone into believing he's relaxed.
Tony rests his hands on the sill of the one-way mirror and frowns, resisting the urge to press his nose against the glass. "Are you sure it was the best idea to leave them alone together?" he says to Alex. Jane is still such an unknown factor here, and Tony knows how quickly this could all go wrong.
She has her arms crossed over her chest. Doesn't look at Tony. Defensive body language; she's not any more confident about this than Tony is. "He's not exactly alone in there, is he? We're here."
Tony has to concede that she does have a point.
Ben Simmons is young for his position, late twenties, early thirties, dark haired and slick, a particularly American arrogance to his attitude. Jane's words don't seem to have the intended effect. "I don't know what you're talking about," Simmons says. "I had nothing to do with this."
Jane seems to take a moment to assess the situation before he says, "You don't have to lie to us." His voice is soft, soothing, at its most convincing. "We know you've been finding his victims for him."
Simmons gives Jane another once over, considering him, and then a change passes over Simmons' face, like a veil of sanity being pulled away. A strange light seems to come into his eyes. "I can see why he likes you," he says, and Tony can practically feel the words crawling down his spine.
Jane does not move a hair, but some tension lingers in his shoulders. "I want to know what he wants," Jane says, and he doesn't let his voice waver in the slightest.
Simmons shakes his head and leans back, more confident than ever. "You know how this works. You know I won't tell you anything."
"Oh, I didn't think you were going to, either," Jane says, a grin spreading across his face, "but there's no harm in trying, is there? To tell the truth, I am somewhat curious about how much you actually did for this one. I noticed a few nice new frills here and there."
Simmons preens a little under admiration. "I did most of the grunt work for him. I picked out who to kill, where to kill them. The numbers on the neck were my idea originally. I felt it made the whole thing a little more ominous. Did you enjoy them, Mr. Jane?"
Jane shrugs. "It would help if I knew what they're supposed to mean."
Simmons laughs, the sound of it hollow and tinny over the speakers. "That would be telling, wouldn't it?"
"Yes, it would," Jane says, and then he stands up and walks out of the room.
As he passes by Alex and Tony, he says, "Keep him under heavy guard. Someone will probably try to kill him before he says too much," and then he continues on without saying another word.
That night, Tony dreams of Colin. Colin sitting across the table, staring at his shoes, fiddling with the sleeves of his shirt, his wrists are bright red and dripping blood from where he's slashed open the arteries there. He'd killed himself that way, Tony remembers. He'd killed himself that way before he ever said a word.
Colin? Tony tries to ask, but his throat doesn't make a sound, and he can't speak any more than Colin can.
Colin holds his wrists over the table, and the dripping blood somehow manages to perfectly resemble a smiling face. "Tell me, Dr. Hill, why did you did you want to become a psychologist?" Colin asks, and his voice isn't his own; it's Jane's. Tony's never heard Colin's real voice.
Tony reaches for Colin's wrist, but it's too slippery, and he can't hold on, and--
The next morning, Tony learns that Simmons tried to hang himself in his cell with a bedsheet, but Kevin managed to to stop him before he could injure himself too badly. He's been put in restraints and on suicide watch for the time being.
Tony wonders if Jane will make a comment about the Simmons issue, but he doesn't mention it, preferring to focus on the details of the Miller file instead. Alex is catching the rest of the team up on what they've learned about Simmons' involvement when Paula steps in.
"Guv, we have another victim," she says. "We should probably take a look."
The victim is one John Matthews, another American, and Tony feels like the pieces to this puzzle are all laid out in front of him, but he can't quite put them together. The body was found by Matthews' wife after she had picked up some groceries, the smiling face painted on the wall of their bedroom.
Tony is pulling on his jacket so that he can travel with the police to the crime scene when he sees that Jane is still sitting in front of Tony's board, his hands folded in his lap. "Aren't you coming?" he asks.
"Nah," Jane says, grinning the way he does when he wants to deflect attention away from himself. "You kids have fun without me."
"Are you sure?" Tony asks, because there's something that feels wrong about Jane's behavior. He wouldn't give up a chance for more evidence, not when they're getting so close to the end.
"Tony, hurry up," Alex calls from down the hallway, sharp and impatient.
He follows the sound of her voice, only sparing a glance backwards to see a slight frown crossing Jane's face as he examines the latest crime scene photographs. He looks worn, fraying at the edges, the first sign of real exhaustion that Tony has seen from him. He doesn't think Jane has given up on this case; it's not in his nature. But maybe Jane needs a break, needs some time away from the case, as much as he likes to pretend otherwise. Tony thinks he understands that.
The house Matthews lived in is modest, well decorated. Kristen Matthews, the wife, is crying into her hands in the living room as the police officers fill the bedroom; taking pictures, dusting for fingerprints. Tony glances inside for a moment. The body was placed on the ground, not the bed, and the smiling face is painted above the pillows. Tony doesn't need to look to know that the number two is carved into its neck. He turns back to where Alex is sitting across from Kristen, quietly questioning her. Tony sits down next to Alex so he can listen in.
"That asshole," Kristen says, a fierce anger under her sniffling. "I thought he'd leave me alone. I wasn't ever a part of this." She's an older woman, attractive, well-dressed, with blond hair and blue eyes. She looks vaguely familiar, as if Tony has met her before, but he can't put his finger on where.
"Why do you say that, Mrs. Matthews?" Alex asks, her brow furrowing. "How do you know this is about you?"
"The other murders," Kristen says. "The first one I really noticed was that waitress. She worked at the restaurant that I always went to on Fridays with John. And then Jeremy. He lived down the street from us. We didn't know him very well, but we would always say 'hello' when we saw each other in the mornings. I knew Gretchen through work. She was my boss's PA. I spoke to her a lot, mostly about her nieces. The man who was killed first, I recognized his face. He drove me home from the airport once. And now... I'm next." She trails off and wipes her eyes messily with her fingers. Alex offers her a tissue.
In many cases, Tony might think that this was just the result of a type of paranoia, but there's a deliberation to the choices. That pattern does mean something to their killer. And for some reason, Kristen Matthews is connected to it. Why her? Tony wonders. You've always picked your victims so carefully. What makes her so special? A connection to a previous victim, perhaps? Or maybe a favor to a friend?
"Who do you think might be after you?" Alex says. She's still considering the copycat angle, after all, despite what Tony has told her.
Kristen huffs out a laugh, her eyes taking on a hardness almost incongruous with the tears, and that expression seems familiar, too. She stands up, starts pacing, restless. "Red John. That's his symbol, isn't it?" She makes a vague gesture at the bedroom.
Alex looks a little startled. "Why do you think it's Red John in particular?"
Kristen just shakes her head, her anger starting to overtake her fear. She says, "He killed my sister-in-law and niece a few years back. Maybe he decided that wasn't enough." Her voice is shot through with bitterness but also a certain kind of strength, and all of a sudden the resemblance becomes startlingly clear.
"You're Patrick Jane's sister, aren't you?" Tony says. "You're number one." Yes, this what he needed to snap everything into place. Of course, Red John was playing games, drawing Jane away from the CBI, choosing his targets so precisely. Jane must have realized who John Matthews was immediately and put together the pieces sooner, he must have--
"What Dr. Hill is trying to say, Mrs. Matthews, is that we have been working with your brother on this case recently, and he's never mentioned you as a possible target," Alex says, trying to smooth things over.
Kristen snorts. "We stopped talking after he ended up in the institution. I only have a two year assignment at Bradfield, so it doesn't surprise me that he didn't know I was here."
Tony is still thinking, still going over all the details. Jane has a head start on them, and Tony needs to scramble in order to catch up. "I'm heading back to the station," he says, standing up as Kristen is still speaking. "No time to explain. Sorry."
And then he's out the door, as fast as he possibly can.
At the station, Tony can't find Jane anywhere. Not in any of the conference rooms or at any of the desks or on any of the couches. So he stops Kevin in one of the hallways. "Have you seen Jane?" Tony says, grabbing hold of Kevin's sleeve.
Kevin shrugs Tony's hand off. "He left a few minutes ago, why?"
A few minutes, Tony can work with that. "What was he working on before he left? Was he doing any kind of research?" Jane wouldn't have left the station without knowing something concrete. He would have slaved over every detail until he finally figured it out.
Kevin frowns. "He did ask for a map of Bradfield about an hour before he left," Kevin says, and Tony remembers what Simmons had said in the interrogation room, I picked out who to kill, where to kill them.
And then he's off again.
Tony finds the map in the top-right drawer of Paula's desk, which Jane liked to "borrow" from time to time while he was working. The map was hastily folded, bulging at the creases and marked on the map are five locations, the sites of all five murders. Jane had drawn a path connecting the locations by date of death in bright red pen, creating a spiral pattern circling inwards. In the center of the spiral, in a location unrelated to the case, Jane had drawn a star.
And Tony knows exactly where Jane is right now. He doesn't run out the front door, but it's a very close thing.
Tony is in his car, halfway to the location marked off on the map, when he remembers that maybe he should have told Alex about Jane's plan. Not that Tony knows the entirety of Jane's plan, of course, but he knows enough. He calls Alex on his mobile, trying not to hit the car in front of him while he's doing so.
"D.I. Fielding," she says as she answers.
"I know where he is," Tony says, too fast, all in one breath. "You'll find a map--"
"Wait, what are you--"
Tony cuts her off. "We don't have time. I left a map on Paula's desk. There's a location marked off with a star in the center of a spiral. That's where Jane and Red John are."
"And you are--"
"On my way already. Bring backup. This could end very badly. For everyone involved." He shuts his with one hand and stomps on his brakes so he doesn't run a light.
The area that was marked off on the map is a pleasant residential area, houses lined up one after the other. Tony doesn't have a specific address, but he knows exactly which house it is, because the door is painted a bright, vivid red, a stark contrast to the gray stone of the walls.
The door is unlocked when Tony tries the handle, and he prepares himself for whatever might be happening. Jane has spent a lot of time anticipating this moment. Years and years to imagine every single move he'd make if he was given half a chance with the murderer of his family. Tony isn't sure exactly what to expect when he gets inside.
What he doesn't expect is a quiet, tastefully-decorated hallway, the only sound the whistling of a teakettle from further in side the house and the soft murmur of voices. It is possible that Jane simply has not arrived yet, that he is still on his way.
Tony doesn't quite believe that, though, so he walks towards the whistling kettle, and then the smell of freshly-made tea. He finds himself at the kitchen entrance, watching as Patrick Jane dips a teabag into his cup by the kitchen counter. A man sits at the kitchen table. Older, distinguished, his dark hair shot through with gray. He's relaxed in his chair, as if nothing can touch him. A gun rests on the table.
The man smiles when he sees Tony. "Well, if it isn't the psychologist," he says, and there is no question as to who he is. "I'm impressed, Dr. Hill. Very impressed. I usually only expect such stellar work from Mr. Jane here."
Jane takes one look at Tony and says very slowly, "You really shouldn't be here right now."
Tony feels a wild panic rising up underneath his skin. "Patrick," he says. "I don't think--"
"You really should stay out of this," Jane says, slightly louder, and it's the only time Tony has ever heard him raise his voice.
"You don't have to do this," Tony replies, raising his own voice, matching Jane's aggressiveness with some of his own. But he knows they're not the right words from the look in Jane's eyes, hard and cold. Jane picks up his cup and saucer and takes a sip of his tea. Tony's heart is beating too hard in his chest, too hard, too desperate. Jane's calm is unnatural, and Tony has some lurking suspicions about what that might mean.
Red John laughs, a surprisingly pleasant sound, deep and rich. "I don't think you have anything to worry about, Dr. Hill. Mr. Jane won't do anything too rash. You see, that's why I set up this meeting in the first place. The same old cat-and-mouse games can get so tiring after a while. You need to shake things up a bit. Don't you agree, Mr. Jane?"
"I wouldn't put it that way," Jane says as he smiles, an tight, eerie, uncomfortable thing, so different from his usual smug grin. Tony's palms begin to sweat. He can't seem to decide who he'd rather keep a closer eye on, Red John or Jane, and he turns his head back and forth between them.
"Let's not bother playing games for a moment," Red John says to him. "We both know you won't kill me, and without your team to back you up, you don't have enough to put me away." Red John smiles back, and Tony almost wants to believe him, wants to believe that Jane won't go through with it. Tony knows better than to believe that he knows Jane inside and out, but in this Tony has been paying very close attention.
"You--" Tony tries to say, but Jane isn't listening to him, and he feels as impotent and useless as he did when he watched Kurt shake his head and step off the edge of the roof. Tony had not been more than a few feet away when it had happened, close enough that he could have grabbed Kurt's arm and pulled him from the ledge. But Tony hadn't done anything more than talk then, and he can't do anything more than talk now.
Jane goes very still for a moment, and then he puts down his saucer and cup with deliberation. "Of course," he says. "By the way, you have excellent tea."
Then he picks up the gun from the table and shoots Red John at point-blank range through the forehead.
Tony can only stare, rooted in place, unable to move as he watches red blood splatter against the wall, watches the body slump in its chair, watches the eyes go glassy and empty. Jane places the gun back onto the the table, as calm as he had been when he picked it up. He lifts his cup and takes another sip of tea.
The front door bangs open, and the police come swarming in.
In the aftermath, Tony sits on the edge of the pavement, the heels of his palms pressed against his forehead. This isn't the first time he's experienced death. Hell, he walks through it nearly every day. But the sting of this, the horror of it, still run sharp and deep. His hands won't stop shaking.
Police officers surround the building, but Tony can't focus enough to keep track of what they are doing. The light from the police vehicles is a steady, pulsing blue.
Tony blinks, looks up, and sees Jane being questioned by Paula. His expression is as smooth and controlled as always, but there's a glint in his eyes that reminds Tony of the way he'd looked back in the kitchen, cold and dangerous. Was it worth it? Tony wants to ask. Was it worth what it's going to do to you? But he suspects he already knows the answer. Tony has met too many people who believe that they can be cured magically, that all it takes is one small action, and all their problems will go away.
Jane is too smart for that, but possibly too smart for his own good. That was what Tony had wanted to say, back in the kitchen, when he was watching Jane face Red John down. But that was Jane's burden now, his own baggage to carry. Tony has no idea what will happen now to Jane. Once they've confirmed Red John's identity (and there's no doubt that they will), it's up to the various legal agencies to sort things out.
Alex sits down next to Tony, her elbows resting on her bent knees. "How are you doing?" she asks.
"Fine," Tony says. "I'm fine." It sounds hollow even to his own ears.
He closes his eyes, replays the scene in his mind, every tiny moment he could have done something better, something right, and he knows he'll see those dead, empty eyes in his dreams.