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what I need (is a good defense)

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“What are we doing here again, O’Laughlin?” Lorelei asks, plopping on her sunglasses and ignoring the catcalls within the run-of-the-mill diner. O’Laughlin ignores her and pushes his way past one of the waitresses, who seems intent on telling them to wait. He ignores her call of hey and you can’t do that by going right ahead and sitting across from a dirty blonde, who seems to be on his last leg. His clothes are tattered and over all, he probably needs a good shower. “O’Laughlin!” O’Laughlin doesn’t pay any attention to Lorelei either, but instead, orders three coffees and a breakfast platter from the waitress.

 

The blonde eyes Lorelei. “Thought you said you were coming alone.”

 

O’Laughlin shrugs. “With her around, this is the closest I can come to alone.” Lorelei’s mouth opens and O’Laughlin rolls his eyes, before he refocuses on Tim Nelson. “You look like shit.”

 

Nelson’s mouth twitches. “Not all of us can look like Men of the Year, I’m afraid.” O’Laughlin snorts. “Also, not like I’ve had time for a mirror or anything.” Lorelei doesn’t appear to be amused at the slight detour and to prevent a shootout, O’Laughlin turns to Lorelei and removes her phone from her. He doesn’t need her calling Red John, especially when he’s doing something that may (or may not) be alright with the hotheaded serial killer.

 

“You’ll get it back, Lorelei,” O’Laughlin lowly tells her, while Lorelei grimaces at him. “Tim’s an old friend of mine. Tim, meet Lorelei. Lorelei, meet Tim.” O’Laughlin watches Nelson stick out his hand to Lorelei to which she glances away, her nose jutting into the air. “I can see we’re all going to get along just fine here.” Nelson chuckles.

 

“I’d like to leave,” Lorelei mutters to him and O’Laughlin rolls his eyes at her melodramatic behavior. “This isn’t…” O’Laughlin silences her with a firm grimace, because he doesn’t need her reminding him that Red John didn’t send them to this diner. Red John was sending them to the CBI, so he could make eyes with his future wife/pet.

 

“And I’d like to pretend I’m not working for a homicidal maniac, Lore,” O’Laughlin answers. “But we can’t always get what we want.” He watches her open her mouth again and he goes back to ignoring her by concentrating on Nelson. “Alright. You couldn’t talk on the phone, but why are you here? Last I heard, you were quite happy in Virginia.”

 

Nelson frowns, taking a sip of his coffee. “I was happy in Virginia, up until I had a little…disagreement with Joe.” Nelson glances around, before he lowers his voice. “I nabbed his kid and stashed him, before I ran. Hardy’s probably found him by now, but who knows. Entire FBI is useless.” O’Laughlin hears Lorelei laugh and he knows she’s probably thinking about the entire CBI and how fucking useless they are too, even though she’s only heard stories of their incompetence through him and Red John. “So, here I am.” He takes another gulp of his coffee. “And yeah, I know there’s that pesky unspoken rule about no poaching help from other…individuals, but without your help—I might as well sign my own death certificate. I’m on a tight deadline here, before I'm gunned down.”

 

O’Laughlin sighs, before he lays twenty dollars on the table for Nelson to finish his hearty meal. He’s known Nelson for over fifteen years and he’s always thought the younger man (only by six months) to be quite naïve just to up and sign his life away to a washed-out novelist. Of course, retrospectively, he knows he’s just as naïve for allying himself with Red John, a false prophet—but there’s a significant difference between himself and Nelson. O’Laughlin knows Red John isn’t in love with him (and he’s not in love with Red John), while Nelson has somehow found himself head over heels in love with Joe Carroll.  “I’ll talk to him, Tim. No promises, alright?”

 

Still, there’s a part of him that can’t watch another man die. He’s already seen so much death, thanks to Red John and the FBI, that it bothers him somewhat that Nelson has approached him for help. Anyone, who had a brain and an ounce of common sense, could tell how unhappy he was in his current work (and off-work) situation. 

 

Nelson offers him a small, relieved smile—nonetheless. “Thanks, Craig.”