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Red on White

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Jane parked his car on the curb, well away from the line of police cars blocking the road. He remained in the car for a few minutes, making sure that the operation was still in the gun-free stage, before getting out and scanning the crowds to find his team.

He could see Lisbon hunched over the hood of one of the police cars, studying some papers with a man in SWAT gear. When she looked up, Jane gave her a small wave, and she replied with a curt nod before returning her attention to the papers. Rigsby and Van Pelt were both unloading their own gear from the back of the SUV a few cars away, and Jane was about to head towards them when he noticed Cho among the swarm of cops behind the police line. He immediately changed his course, a small smile tugging his lips as he flashed his ID to the cop guarding the roadblock, and made his way through the sea of uniforms to Cho.

"Hey."

Cho didn't say anything, but the expression on his face had Don't start written all over it. Jane gave him a look of exaggerated innocence, and then turned to the man who had been talking to Cho.

"Patrick Jane. Consultant. Please, go on."

The man - the local sheriff by the looks of him - looked from Jane to Cho with a confused frown on his face before continuing. As Jane listened to the sheriff explain the situation, he casually shifted his weight from one foot to another, making sure that his arm brushed against Cho's. To an outsider, it would have looked perfectly innocent, but Cho recognised the gesture for what it was, and shot him a look. Jane grinned.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell may have been overturned, but law enforcement was still a conservative profession, and even though the team was aware of Jane and Cho's relationship, they had agreed to avoid all public displays of affection. Jane didn't really mind the secrecy. Not just because of Red John, but also because he'd found that he enjoyed the thrill of a secret affair. With all the secret codes and clandestine meetings it was almost like being in a spy movie.

He leaned towards Cho again at the pretense of trying to see where Lisbon was, when suddenly there was a loud bang, and Jane felt something wet and warm splatter on his face. When he turned his head, he saw the sheriff still standing next to him, but the man's yes were glassy and lifeless, and his mouth slightly open, blood oozing from the bright red crater on his forehead. As Jane stared at him, his legs buckled and he slowly fell to the ground, his head making a sickening sound as it hit the asphalt.

Cho shouted something unintelligible and grabbed Jane's shoulder, but then there was another loud crack and he was thrown backwards. Two more bullets slammed into Cho's body, until his feet gave out and he crumbled to the ground, leaving Jane standing alone.

Jane stared at him, unable to move. He'd had nightmares about this, so many times. Of coming home to find Cho's blood lovingly painted on the walls, of receiving a phone call from Lisbon about an incident, an accident, an arrest gone wrong. There were so many ways for people to die, and he'd had nightmares of every one of them.

The familiarity of the sight in front of him made Jane's stomach turn, but he couldn't turn away. Couldn't speak and couldn't move. Couldn't do anything but watch the tendrils of red spread across the white cotton of Cho's shirt under his kevlar vest.

"Everybody down!"

People were shouting now, their voices a cacophony of sounds that made no sense to Jane. His ears were ringing, white noise rising like the tide, and he felt like there was a tight band around his chest, making it impossible to breathe.

"Jane, get down! Jane!"

There was another burst of gunshots and then something collided with him, pushing him to the ground. He went down hard, too slow to get his hands in front of him to soften the fall. A sharp stab of pain rang across his temple as his head hit the pavement, and for a second everything was white before his vision returned again.

He could feel the burn of the hot asphalt under his cheek, and something wet in his hair and under his head. When he was finally able to focus his eyes again, he saw Cho lying on the ground maybe ten feet away. Cho still wasn't moving, but his eyes were open, and Jane felt a small pang of hope at that.

His eyes still locked with Cho's, Jane tried to sit up, but there was a heavy weight on his back that held him down. Someone was talking to him, but he couldn't make out the words over the white noise roaring in his ears.

Jane ignored the voice and tried to push the weight off his back, but his body wasn't obeying, and every movement only brought another wave of nausea crashing over him. He stopped struggling and focused on his breathing, trying to stave off the inevitable. Red spots were dancing in front of his eyes until with one final roar of white noise they swallowed up the last of his vision, and everything went black.

---

"Jane? Can you hear me? Open your eyes, Jane."

As his senses slowly returned, Jane found that he was lying on the ground on his side, his face pressed against the rugged asphalt. There was a voice calling out his name, while a hand gently stroked his hair. A woman's hand. A woman's voice. Van Pelt.

He carefully opened his eyes, wincing as the bright afternoon light blinded him. He blinked, trying to get the world to focus when his mind suddenly caught up with his body, and he remembered what had happened. Cho was hurt.

He turned his eyes towards where Cho had been lying. There was a small pool of blood on the ground, but no sign of Cho, and Jane felt the panic return in one suffocating wave. His muscles screamed in protest when he moved, but he ignored the discomfort and tried to sit up to see what had happened to Cho.

"Jane, it's okay," Van Pelt said, moving her hand from his hair to his shoulder, gently holding him down. "Everything's okay."

He continued to struggle until he suddenly felt another firm hand on his shoulder.

"I'm here," Cho said, and Jane went still, the sudden sense of relief leaving him weak.

A few seconds later Cho appeared in his line of vision. He wasn't wearing his kevlar anymore, and was holding a large wad of bloodied bandages that he was pressing against his left arm. He leaned closer, a concerned look on his face.

"How do you feel?"

Jane swallowed, assessing the various signals his body was giving him and choosing the most pressing one. "Sick."

Cho looked up.

"Help him sit up," he told Van Pelt.

She knelt down and slipped her arm around Jane, carefully helping him sit up against a car. Once Jane was upright, Cho took Van Pelt's place, sitting down so that Jane could lean to him. After making sure that they were comfortable, Van Pelt stood up and took a step back, her brow furrowed with worry as she looked from Cho to Jane and back.

"I'll go tell Lisbon that he's awake. Are you sure you're okay?" She directed her words to Cho, who gave her a small nod.

"Yeah. I'll manage. They said it should be here in just a few minutes."

Jane watched her go. He wanted to ask what had happened, to make sure that Cho was really okay, but he was tired, so tired, and so he just leaned his head against Cho's shoulder and let his eyes drift close.

"Hey! Eyes open!"

When Jane opened his eyes he found Cho right in front of him again. The commanding tone in his voice was all military, but there was an undercurrent of worry there too, and it was the latter more than the former than made Jane obey.

The world tilted and swirled as he straightened his head, and his stomach rolled, nausea creeping in his throat. He blinked furiously, focusing all his faculties in trying not to throw up.

"How many fingers?" Cho asked, grimacing as he let go of the bandages and raised his good hand in front of Jane's face.

"Seven," Jane said reflexively, but regretted the flippant reply when Cho's eyes narrowed and his jaw tensed. Jane looked at the hand again and counted the fingers twice, just in case. "Three?"

This seemed to be the correct answer, because Cho's face immediately relaxed, and he sat back on his heels.

"Do you remember what happened?"

As he spoke, Cho put his hand under Jane's chin and gently tilted his head, checking his pupils.

"You were shot," Jane said. The words sounded horribly banal when he said them out loud. It all seemed unreal, like a nightmare, and there was a small part of him that wondered against all evidence if he'd just finally lost his mind and imagined the whole thing.

Cho nodded. "The vest got two, third one went clean through my arm. I'm okay."

He raised his hand and wiggled his fingers to prove his point, but Jane could see that his face was pale, and there was a sheen of sweat on his forehead.

"You're in pain."

"It's not bad." Cho shrugged, his face briefly twisting into grimace as the movement aggravated the wound. "I've had worse."

It was only now that Jane's own pain started to slowly register. He raised his hand to his temple and clumsily touched the side of his head. When he looked at his fingers, they were covered in blood.

"Ow," he whispered. He tried to touch his head again, but Cho took his hand and gently guided it back to his lap.

"You hit your head pretty hard when Lisbon tackled you. We're just waiting for the second ambulance to get here." He cast a glance over his shoulder. Jane followed his gaze and saw two paramedics crouched over a uniformed body. "One of Daniels' old military buddies was hiding in the woods. He shot eight people before he was taken down, killed three."

Cho carefully moved his injured arm and took Jane's hand into his, his fingers against the pulse point. There was a grim look on his face, his lips pressing into a thin line as he held Jane's gaze. It took Jane a moment to realise that he hadn't checked his watch.

He gave Cho a reassuring smile and put his other hand on top of Cho's. "I'm okay, too."

Cho looked like he didn't believe it, but nevertheless returned Jane's smile. They were still holding hands when Lisbon appeared from around the SUV. Her hands and the front of her clothes were covered in blood, but based on the way she moved, Jane could tell that none of it was hers.

"Oh thank God you're awake. I was starting to get worried," she said, and then turned to Cho. "Cho, you okay?"

Cho nodded and then gave her a questioning look. She shook her head, unable to meet his eyes.

"Dead. They're working on Officer Trepkos now. A bullet nicked her femoral artery, but she'll probably make it." She looked from Jane to Cho. "The next ambulance should be here any minute. How's Jane?"

"Confused. His pupils are equal, but his speech is a little slurred and he's clearly not himself. They should see to him first."

Jane felt that he needed to contribute to the conversation, and looked up at Lisbon. "I don't need a hospital."

She shot him a look. "Too bad you don't get to have a say on that until you can form full sentences again."

She looked at Cho again, and then knelt down and gently put her hand over his right hand, carefully pulling the bandages away to look underneath. Her mouth tightened into a thin line.

"This doesn't look good either. The EMTs can decide which one of you needs to be looked at first."

"I'm-"

She raised a finger, silencing him. "No objections. I just watched a man die, I'm not going to take any macho crap from either one of you."

There was a sound of sirens from the distance, and a few seconds later an ambulance swerved into a halt on the other side of the road. Lisbon stood up and waved at the paramedics to catch their attention.

Cho gave Jane's fingers one last squeeze and then pulled his hand away. Jane wanted to hold on, but his fingers refused to co-operate, and he reluctantly let Cho's hand slip from between his. He sighed, leaning his head back against the car. With the hospital, and the inevitable paperwork and other bureaucracy that would follow, it was going to be ages before they'd be able to catch a moment in private again.

Suddenly Cho leaned over, and pressed a quick kiss on his lips. Jane stared at him, stunned. When he looked up, he saw that Lisbon was pointedly looking into another direction.

"We've got a gunshot wound to the arm, and what looks like a concussion here." She called to the paramedics, and then gave Jane and Cho a quick look before adding: "And if you can, take them to the hospital together."