STEADY RED MEANS STOP (Case-file #5) Part 1 and 2
Author: G. Waldo
Rating: Case-fic’. Light angst. Light humour. Pairing: Jane/Cho WARNING! - NC-17 SMUT IN THIS ONE. Plus Jane/Lisbon friendship.
Characters: Jane, Lisbon, Cho, Rigsby, Van Pelt, Karen Cross and Red John.
Summary: Former attorney and now television reporter/host Karen Cross has a new show and imagine who her special interview-e is this week! Disclaimer: Not mine though I wish he was.
“Mister Jane? – Patrick!”
Jane turned to see a tall lithe woman with blonde perfectly arranged shoulder-length hair striding quickly to him on long energetic legs. Had she been sweet Jenna from the CBI clerking staff he would have smiled and wished her a pleasant morning, but it was not Jenna, it was Karen Cross in her expensive cream coloured suit over too tight skirt - a woman he had seen far too much of lately.
“Oh, good morning, Karen.” Jane looked around wishing there was someone familiar nearby to talk to so he could make a fast excuse and leave. Alas, Karen had managed to corner him once again, alone and undefended.
“Patrick, I keep running into you.”
Jane nodded indulgently. “Ah, “running into me”?” He shrugged at her lame explanation for her recent stalking. “Okay. I guess that works.”
“Have you thought over what we talked about?”
Jane was growing tired of the woman’s trailing him everywhere. “Uh, you talked about me coming on your new show and I said no. That decision hasn’t changed in the last week.” He turned to make a get-away when Karen placed a hand on his forearm. He looked down at her long finger-nails. They were painted blood red. Predatory nails.
She smiled and gently held on. “Oh come on, Patrick, just hear me out. I promise this will be a good experience; people want to know about you. This last year’s been hard on you, we both know it, and now my viewers want to know it, too. You’re a celebrity. What harm could it do to just talk to them, tell them your story?”
“My story?” Jane repeated. “My story is mine and for me. Whatever part of my life is still private I’d like to keep that way. And I hate cameras, as you know. Thanks anyway, Karen.”
But she did not let go of his arm, squeezing it just once. It was enough to hold him back for just another few seconds. All she needed. “Look, I’m sorry I’ve bothered you with this, I guess I’ve worn out my welcome around here but I’m a reporter – can you blame me for digging?” Another firm squeeze, higher up his arm. “Tell you what - let me make it up to you. Let me buy you breakfast, just you and me, no cameras. And no shop-talk - I swear.”
Jane just as gently removed her arm from his. “Thanks, Karen, I appreciate the offer but work calls.” He walked away, waving over his shoulder. “Bye, Karen. Be well.”
Karen Cross, former lawyer and now successful television host reached into her pocket and removed her tiny digital recorder. Pressing a button, she switched it off. “Damn.” She hadn’t even gotten enough for a promo-slot.
Out of nowhere a man appeared beside her, holding a mobile camcorder in one hand. He switched it off. “You ready to give it up now, Karen? This is the fourth time you’ve tried to nail Jane down this month. Jerry expects us back at ten. You remember Jerry, our producer? We’re wasting our time with this guy. He’s not going to come on the show.”
Karen watched Patrick Jane disappear up the stairs and in through the doors of CBI’s main sand-coloured building. She tossed her camera man a sardonic eyebrow. “When do I give up, Zack? Never, that’s when.” She walked back to the van with hard, angry steps. “My producer’s an idiot. A bloody D.A? An old and not even attractive D.A. and his overweight slut?? This is the kind of crap he thinks will keep my ratings up? What a moron.”
Zack sighed. Karen was the best but she was not an easy woman to work with. “Let’s go get some breakfast. I haven’t eaten yet.”
Karen waved away that idea and slammed the passenger door. “Come on.” She barked. “I’ve got a few favours I can cash in and when I do Jane will be on my show. By next month.” She predicted. “Trust me, by next month he’ll be there. I’ll show that idiot producer how to run a talk show. With Patrick Jane in the spot light, our numbers will go so through the roof Jerry will have an orgasm.”
CBI – A week later.
Lisbon turned on the outer office’s only large screen computer and switched to “TV Mode”. On any day when the team drifted in early they sometimes took in the morning news together. Everyone except Jane who almost never came in early or even on time for that matter.
“And that was our news update.” said the pretty brunette news woman with the stiff smile. “Please join us at six for complete new, sports and weather. And now back to Cross-Hairs with host Karen Cross.”
The image switched to a blonde reporter with whom they were all familiar. A tall, slender woman named Karen Cross who was ever eager for a story that would boost her ratings. To her credit Cross-Hairs had gained immediate appeal and after being on the air for just on five months her viewer numbers were already dwarfing those of her previous show.
Cross was also the reporter who had tirelessly dogged the team in general and Jane in particular, during some of their more sensational cases. Red John cases were Karen’s favourite ghoulish profession-related interest and when it was a Red John case the team were pursuing, she hardly gave Jane a moment’s peace.
“Good morning. I’m Karen Cross and this is Cross-Hairs. Today we’ll be speaking with former Sacramento County District Attorney Mitchell Allen whose routine we have interrupted to bring him here and place him directly in our crosshairs – where we will fire off the hard questions regarding his alleged illicit affair with recent grand jurist Stephanie Monahan. Will he deny the allegations? Does he plan to resign or will some other revelation come to light? Stayed tuned. We’ll be back in a moment.”
Rigsby drifted in with a coffee, shedding his windbreaker and suit jacket. “Her again?” She seemed to be all over the TV.
Lisbon said, not managing to keep the contempt completely from her tone “Yeah. I’m surprised she isn’t in here on her off hours, going through our desks trying to dig up dirt.”
Van Pelt, half-watching a bland commercial about underarm deodorant, said “She preys on people’s weaknesses. The guy hasn’t even been charged yet and she’s trying to prove he’s guilty on national television. I hate people that pretend to be nice but aren’t.”
At that moment Jane walked in, tea in hand, and smiled. “O-o-o, are my ears burning.”
Van Pelt threw him a dry look. “You know what I mean, Jane. That’s different. You only pretend to be a jerk – usually - and it’s on the job and anyway who cares about being nice to a criminal?” She threw a hand at the screen. “She’s supposed to be fair with her “guests” but she never is. I hate that.”
Jane stirred a mug of tea and Lisbon noted it. The dishwasher must be full of dirty tea cups and saucers as Jane would never use a mug otherwise. He said mugs “sucked the heat out” of the tea.
“Come on, Grace.” Jane said reasonable. “She’s just a greedy media piranha trying to make a living.”
“She’s already a millionaire. How much money does one person need?” Van Pelt appealed to the fifth member of the team, Cho, with her eyes.
Cho looked up from his newspaper. His opinion was succinct. “Jane’s right. She’s a land shark.”
Van Pelt looked back to the screen. The string of commercials was almost over.
Leaving the debate of Cross’s moral rectitude, or lack thereof, behind, Jane watched the program, settling into his worse for wear leather couch with a sigh.
Lisbon never felt more at home when she was with these four people, and she swore she never saw any among them look as content as Jane did when he was sitting in that spot in early morning with a cup of tea in his hand. So would a wealthy banker look as he fired up his first twenty-dollar cigar of the day.
“Hello once again, I’m Karen Cross and this is Cross-Hairs. Today we will be speaking with Sacramento County District Attorney Mitchell Allen, questioning him on his alleged secret affair with former grand jurist Stephanie Monahan, but first...”
Karen, in a signature move, stepped closer to the camera as it zoomed in, staring intently into it and dropping her former half-smile for a more serious, unblinking look. “But first I have an appeal to make to one of our own more well-known Sacramento residents – CBI consultant Patrick Jane.”
Jane looked up from his momentary contentment and Lisbon’s guts told her that their day was about to begin in earnest.
“Patrick Jane is a consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation. He works with the homicide division - in particular on serial killer cases, the most famous being the serial killer known as Red John. Red John is believed responsible for over thirty-five murders and he is still at large and still killing. Red John, interestingly enough, was also the man who took the lives of Patrick Jane’s own family, murdering his wife Angela and only child, a beautiful daughter named Charlotte.”
“What the hell is she doing?” Rigsby asked rhetorically. “She knows it’s dangerous to talk about Red John on TV – what he’s capable of. He could target her.”
Jane said nothing until Lisbon reached to turn off the screen. He raised a quick hand to stop her. “Wait.”
Lisbon stilled her finger but kept it hovered over the OFF button.
Jane offered. “She tried to talk to me last week outside the office about an interview. I said no.”
Cho asked. “Then that’s more than twice this month, isn’t it? She was at the Oakland drug store murders three weeks ago. She talked to you then, right?”
Jane nodded. “Four times so far with a no from me each time.”
Lisbon asked “An interview about what?”
Karen Cross, still talking, answered it for them. “We are anxious to learn of any new leads in the Red John case but we are more interested...” She paused for effect “we are more interested in you, Patrick Jane. This show is about the individual and his or her struggle and we want to hear about your struggle. How has working for the CBI changed your life since the death of your family? How professionally challenging and personally heart wrenching has it been hunting down the man who murdered your wife and child? We’d like you to give us a call and arrange some time on our show to answer these questions and perhaps others from myself and our viewers. We want to put you, Patrick Jane, under the Cross-Hairs. Please call.”
Lisbon asked Jane. “That’s the interview she wanted you for?”
Jane nodded, staring at his tea cup. “I guess so.”
“Well, I’m glad you said no.” Lisbon switched it off. “I’m with Van Pelt, I can’t stand that woman. She eats people alive and then picks her teeth with their bones. Cho’s right - she is a land shark.”
Bertram called Lisbon and summoned her and Jane into his office.
Lisbon entered and stood before his desk. “Sir, if this is about the drug store murders, we’re still chasing down evidence, but I think we’re close to an arrest.”
Jane entered after her and sat down on Bertram’s couch, crossing his legs. Bertram glanced at Lisbon’s consultant who was still sipping from the first of no doubt many tea concoctions of the day, a drink that Bertram would not have tasted for fifty bucks. “Thanks for the update, Lisbon but that’s not what this is about. Please sit down.”
Lisbon did so. Whatever it was Bertram sounded a little more sober than usual. “As you know we have had a budget shortfall for the last year, and as it currently stands, we’re over two million in the hole. Now we’ve managed to squeak by these last two years but that hole is getting bigger and some recommendations have come down to my desk on how to fix it.”
Lisbon reassured him. “We’ll certainly do our part, sir, we can cut the vehicles down to two if we have to and watch our –“
“All good things, Lisbon but unfortunately that won’t be enough. Management has been forced to make some hard choices –“
“Excuse me?” Jane put up his hand. “Why am I here?” Boring budget talks were not his concern. Ever.
Bertram slid his hands in his pockets and addressed his most frustrating employee to ever grace his office. “Just have a minute’s patience, Jane.”
Jane spread his hands in surrender.
Bertram addressed Lisbon again. “They’re talking lay-offs, most notably those employees who are seen as a sort of luxury we can no longer afford.”
Lisbon understood, swallowing hard at the implication.
Jane understood too. “I’m being fired?”
Lisbon could not keep the anger and shock from her face. “With all due respect, sir, are they nuts? Jane closes cases – our numbers have gone up thirty-eight percent since he came to work here.”
“Thirty-nine, actually.” Jane corrected.
Lisbon looked at him over her shoulder. This was not the time for debating.
“Hey,” He said, “I read the departmental evaluations too.” Then he muttered “Sometimes.”
Bertram sat down at his desk. “Until we get our beans in order, they’ve made it clear - no frivolous employees.”
Insulted - “Frivolous?” Jane repeated.
Lisbon shook her head, stunned by this move on the department’s heads, those who held the reigns even over Bertram. She was angry. “Did you at least fight for him?”
Bertram frowned his displeasure. “That’s out of line, agent. Of course I did and although I came up with a solution, they said it was up to you and your team.”
Anxious to un-fire her best investigator and her friend - “What solution?” Lisbon asked. “Whatever it is, we’ll make it work.”
Bertram tapped his pen on the desk. “Good to know. There is a money source that has come forward. A two million dollar donation, free and clear, to the department.”
Lisbon wondered why he didn’t mention it earlier. “In exchange for what?”
Bertram’s eye drifted over to Jane. “A certain television celebrity has agreed to donate the two million...”
Jane now knew exactly who Bertram was talking about. “Ah, the ice queen has her cold hand on someone’s balls once more.”
“We need the money, Jane. It’s the only way.” Bertram reminded him. “You want this department to be split up - or worse - dissolved? It would be a chance for you to do some good.”
“If I agree to go on her show.” Jane reminded him back.
Bertram nodded. “Yes.” He admitted. “If you agree to go on Cross-Hairs, they’ll transfer the money immediately and this little money problem goes away.”
Lisbon was insulted now, for Jane. “So they agreed to sell one of our agents to that vile woman? What is your take on this, sir?”
Bertram sat back in his chair, rocking it. It had left a distasteful film in his mouth but there were people to whom he owed favours and those people owed other people favours – there was a whole maze of favour exchange within the Bureau, it was the way the human part of the system worked. “My take is they’ve given us the option. Jane goes on the show or his position is terminated. The decision is yours, Lisbon.”
Lisbon was furious but managed not to direct it at her boss. “A pound of flesh served up on national television or his job?? This is so wrong, sir, I can’t even begin to describe how wrong it is.”
“I agree, but that’s the lay of the land. It is also, by the way, how things sometimes get done. Not everything can always be made...” He looked for a found a word that he thought beast fit “...comfortable.”
Lisbon shook her head at what she considered a betrayal. “Oh I feel completely reassured.” She said sarcastically, and before she really did lose her temper, “With all due respect, sir, this sucks. Are we done?”
Bertram nodded to both of them. “Yes, we’re done.” Looking at Jane he said “I’m sorry, Jane. Best I could do.”
Lisbon stormed out.
Jane stood up, not in the least convinced. “Right.” The idea of going on television left a cold fear in the hollow of his stomach. “I’m not doing it, by the way.”
Bertram frowned. He really had not expected Jane to refuse. “Jane, let me appeal to your reason and sense of team-workmanship. They could make it Lisbon’s job that’s on the line. I wouldn’t be able to stop them. Cho’s proven his leadership abilities - he can do the job just as well.”
Jane lifted his head in understanding. “Ah.” He said. “I have no choice but to agree.”
Bertram spread his hands. “Best for all concerned I think.”
Jane headlined to the kitchen to make a fresh cup of tea. Cho had voiced his amusement over Jane drinking so much of the caffeinated stuff while claiming it settled him. But the simple, physical motions of boiling the water, preparing the cup and saucer, steeping the tea, removing the tea bag, adding the honey and watching it melt in the cup, then stirring the murky and delicious bergamot-infused liquid were like a choreographed dance that always did their small part in soothing his nerves.
Lisbon found him in the kitchen. “Jane, let me talk to Bertram again about this, they can’t make you do this. It’s not fair.”
“Life is seldom fair, Lisbon, I wouldn’t worry about it. I do this and jobs are safe.”
Jane was falling into line far too quickly – out-of-character for him in every way she could not list if she tried - and that bothered her most of all.
“Bullshit.” She left Jane there stirring his tea and entered Bertram’s office once more, ignoring that he was on the phone. “I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t believe they talked you into this.” She thrust a finger back in the direction of the kitchen. “After what he’s been through this year, they’re willing to feed Jane to the dogs for a few bucks? It’s wrong, it’s cruel and as far as I’m concerned it’s downright immoral and I am not going to keep quiet about it.”
Bertram hung up his phone. “I would hope not, agent.”
Lisbon stopped, biting her tongue on the You bastard! that was about to leave her lips. “I-I’m sorry?”
“Don’t keep quiet about it. Jane’s your agent. It’s your responsibility to act accordingly. In fact I expect you to make calls and write the proper letters protesting this blatant bribery - I’ll even deliver them to the head of the Bureau myself. You may not think much of me, Lisbon, but I do care about what happens to the people under me. This was not my choice. But my job, as it was explained to me very thoroughly, was to make it happen.”
Lisbon took a deep breath, calming herself. “I see.”
Bertram shuffled papers on his desk. “Just do me a favour and make sure Jane stays...” How should he put it without making it sound like he expected them to babysit a grown man? “...out of harm’s way.”
Lisbon nodded, still feeling sick about the whole thing. “We’ll do our best, sir.” She backed toward the open door. “I, uh, I’m sorry I burst in. It won’t happen again.”
Bertram allowed himself some indulgence of humour. Lisbon was a fire-ball. “Of course you will. If you were a soft sap, I wouldn’t have kept you in charge.”
Karen Cross met Jane as he entered the studio. “Patrick, how nice of you to have finally agreed.” She glanced at the person who had accompanied him, a half smile on her lips while her eyes questioned it. “And Agent Cho is it?”
Cho nodded his hello, not intending to give the woman the time of day.
Karen pointed to a chair for the cop she perceived as Jane’s body guard. It was an upright hard affair set near a wall, well away from the camera lights and equipment.
Already present in the building was a seated studio audience of about two hundred getting hot and itchy under the lights. “Make yourself comfortable.” She said to Cho.
Reluctantly Cho left Jane’s side and settled himself in the chair. He could at least see everything that was happening.
“I didn’t agree, actually.” Jane reminded Karen in answer to her statement, knowing she already understood that. He looked around at the familiar set-up, already wishing he were someplace else.
The set for Cross-Hairs took up one end of the large building. Cables and other electronic goods snaked across the twenty-five foot ceilings. Hot camera lights illuminated the scene to erase unwanted shadows, and over the interview chairs and small table two microphone booms hung from overhead like brontosaurs. Three currently un-manned studio cameras completed the set.
Karen took his hand in hers and gently squeezed, leading him over to a make-up counter. She whispered to the artist. “Not too much, okay.” She said to Jane with one hand rubbing his shoulder ever-so-slightly. “We don’t want to hide that handsome face under too many layers, do we?”
Karen left him there and Jane endured the artist’s small talk while she smeared her gunk on his skin and his heart hammered in his chest. Breathing calmly was already becoming problematic.
Karen stood in a more private corner and spoke to her producer. A young woman stood nearby, Jerry’s go-get-it girl, waiting for instructions. “Don’t worry, Jerry, believe me, this will be the best show yet.”
“Going to slaughter another poor lamb in front of millions, are you Karen?” Jerry was proud of his prime slot production, but his shows’ host much less so.
“I have a few things up my sleeve.” Karen reassured him. “And it won’t be a slaughter, just a little blood-letting. Believe me, when my viewers get a load of Patrick, you won’t be able to keep them off the phone, especially the women.”
“Oh.” Jerry understood. “Here’s one who rejected you, huh.” He said slyly. “He wouldn’t give you his, so now you’re going to give him yours.”
Karen stared at him for a few seconds, not blinking. “Piss off, Jerry. I have a hit show to host.”
Jerry watched her walk away, back to where her latest sacrifice’s make-up was being finished up. Jerry said to his young get-it girl. “Poor bastard. I already feel sorry for him.”
Karen escorted Jane to the studio set and had him sit to her right. “Now that camera” She explained, pointing, “will be on your face for almost the whole interview. When the red light is blinking, the camera is active, when it’s a steady red, it’s not. Now they will only switch to my face during commercials or when I signal to the lead camera man on One.” She leaned way over, until she was almost on top of him, and adjusted the tiny microphone clipped to his shirt collar. “Sorry, here, let me get that for you.”
Ignoring the woman’s bosom hanging in his face, Jane’s gaze drifted between the table, the walls to his right, the people milling about off camera but never to Karen or the camera itself.
“Now this is two-part-er and it’s going out live, Patrick, so please just relax and answer any questions I or a call-in viewer might have. We have a few minutes, would you like to go over the scheduled breaks? The first is-“
No one had said anything to him about doing two shows. Jane finally did look her way, just a glance but with no eye contact. “Can we just get this over with?” He would do this show, this one show and that would be the end of it.
Karen paused, twisting her bottom lip. “Sure. Fine. Hal – you ready?”
Her camera Lead nodded. “Whenever you are, Ms. Cross.”
“Call center?” She asked into the air, adjusting her own microphone.
Jerry, off camera and standing in the shadows said “Ready.”
“Okay, let’s do it people.” She said, a camera-ready smile breaking out on her face.
Jane jumped when the shows’ canned music boomed out over the high-end sound equipment.
As it faded, he watched as the fellow on Camera One held up five fingers and counted down. “Okay, in five, four...” He mouthed the final three seconds silently then pointed his index finger to Karen.
She looked directly into the camera and into millions of homes. “Hello. Welcome to Cross-Hairs. I’m Karen Cross and this week, we’ll be speaking with Patrick Jane, our local California Bureau of Investigation’s consultant. Jane works with the Bureau’s homicide division here in Sacramento assisting them in tracking down and catching killers. If you recall last week Cross-Hairs made a public appeal to Mister Jane to join us here at the studio and he has graciously agreed.”
Karen turned to him. “Welcome to the show, Patrick, we’re glad to have you.”
Jane did not look at her, merely nodded, his face blank, his eyes everywhere but the camera. “Hi.”
Karen cleared her throat. “Uh, sorry, Mister Jane, I guess it’s been a while since you’ve been on television.” She pointed a genteel and helpful finger. “The camera’s right there for you.”
Jane, legs crossed and hands folded in his lap, said. “I will not be looking at the camera, Karen. Coming here wasn’t my idea.”
Karen paused. It was almost imperceptible but she swiftly recovered, turning to her studio audience. “Patrick is a little camera shy.” She turned back to Jane. “Well, we want you to be comfortable here, Patrick, so please just look where you are comfortable. Look at me if you like.”
Jane didn’t and Karen continued. “We all understand why that camera shyness might have developed, it was while you were on camera, during your very last television appearance, actually your very last public appearance anywhere, that your family was murdered, isn’t that right?”
He nodded once. “Yes.”
Karen turned back to her audience. “For those of you unfamiliar with Patrick’s story, nine years ago while Patrick was making an appearance on Top-Case and speaking with its host Raymond Chance about the serial killer Red John, it was Red John himself who broke into Patrick’s home, brutally murdering his wife and young daughter. The story made the headlines for weeks and soon after Patrick disappeared from public life.”
She turned to Jane. “But you re-entered your life again, elsewhere, didn’t you, Patrick? This time, to hunt down criminals and in particular Red John himself, isn’t that right.”
“You know it is.”
“Care to elaborate on why you chose that path? Did the death of your family render a kind of epiphany? That saving people from criminals was better than rooking them for money as a fake psychic?”
Jane had expected this. He had no illusions to as to why Karen wanted him on the show. She wasn’t interested in his story, only the sordid details of how it had nearly destroyed him. Screw her. “I already explained to you that I will not talk about the Red John case.”
“Don’t you mean you refuse to talk about Red John himself? That is why he murdered your family to begin with, isn’t it? Because you went on television, a live broadcast, and spoke about him? Spoke things you knew were lies and that Red John heard these lies and was not pleased with you, making his displeasure known by killing your wife and child?”
Jane stared at the Exit sign on the back wall. “No comment.”
Karen ignored his attempt to shut her down. “And now you’re hunting Red John, but instead of capturing him you have in fact been taken by him on more than once occasion and even tortured. Is that not also correct?”
“Do you have a question about my hobbies?” He asked. “I collect vintage cars.”
Karen heard the music that cued it was time for the first commercial. She turned to the camera and said to her millions of fans. “We’ll be right back when Patrick and I will get more into these and other topics. Please stand by.”
When the camera was off, Karen covered her tiny microphone with her fist, leaned over to him and whispered. “Are you really going to blow this? Remember whose job is on the line here? Don’t try fucking me over, Patrick, because you’ll regret it.”
Jane smiled to himself. “You disgust me, Karen, and don’t think I didn’t clue in that you’ve been flirting with me these last few weeks. You were as vulgar and obvious as a painted whore. Given the choice, I’d sooner sleep with a corpse.”
Karen pursed her lips in a perverse smile. “Or with a man if I am to understand the rumours. I wonder if your wife would have approved.”
The commercial was over and the music cued in once more. Karen studied her most stubborn guest for a moment then turned to camera One once more. “Welcome back to Cross-Hairs. We’re here with Patrick Jane, the CBI consultant who is with us today to discuss his life since the murder of his family by the serial killer Red John.”
Karen said. “We were discussing Red John...”
Jane walked over her words with his own. “You were discussing Red John, I wasn’t saying anything.”
Karen ignored the interruption. “I have learned in my research that Red John has a particular hatred for liars, Patrick, so if you simply tell the truth to our studio audience, there should be no repercussions from him, wouldn’t you agree?” She did not wait for him to respond and continued with “So what happened to you in February, when Red John took you? Or in June when he took you again? What did he do and how has this affected you?”
Gone was her understanding manner and front and center was her vicious attorney/reporter teeth. It was her signature move. “I have the reports right here on the table - shall I read them out for our studio audience and millions of viewers?”She picked up a sheaf of papers Jane had not noticed before. “Or do you want to tell us what happened in your own words?”
Jane was already exhausted by the few minutes spent before the hated cameras and in the presence of the viper-like female. “I thought you wanted to hear about my life?”
“This is your life, Patrick. Red John is your life, hunting him down, getting kidnapped by him. It seems all so bizarre and sordid. It’s like you have an obsessive thing for Red John, or perhaps he does for you since he let you go both times, though not without some scarring of one kind or another so I have discovered.”
Jane took a long breath of stale studio air. “You want me to give you a run-down on everything he did to me? My short answer is no. Ask me something specific and I’ll tell you.” Anything to get the hell out of there faster.
Willing to play along Karen said “Okay, fair enough. The coroner’s report said that by the time the police were done with their investigation and he arrived on scene you were sitting by your wife’s body and holding your daughter’s body in your arms. Weren’t you worried about destroying evidence?”
A flood of mental and physical memories of that night poured in and Jane took a few seconds to compose the rising tremor in his voice. “My wife and child had just been murdered. I wasn’t concerned with anything but that.”
“But you had spent some considerable time working with the police, helping them...” Karen did bunny-ear quotes with her fingers in the air “...“solving” murders with your so-called psychic insights - hadn’t you? Surely you would have understood the importance of keeping the scene and the bodies intact? Untouched?”
Jane smoothed his pant-leg that did not need smoothing. “The police had finished their work at the scene, and I wanted...” Jane could feel the body of his daughter pressed up against him, even now. Holding her cooling face and limp hands in his as he patted her down, vision blurred with gushing tears, looking for signs of life on her body. Waiting for her to open her eyes and look up at him, waiting for the room to spin about on its axis and the whole scene to just go into reverse, for it to somehow unwind as though it had not visited upon him at all. And for all of the gargantuan pain that had knocked him helplessly to his knees to fly away and leave him no longer crushed by it. As though everything he was seeing in that bedroom was all just a terrible, horrible mistake.
“I just wanted...” Jane had to drop his head into his hand, and rub his eyes to force the memory back into the depths of where it had lain buried for nine years. He cleared his throat and looked at the audience, his eyes still clear. “I wanted to hold my child.” These were all things Red John would have guessed at anyway. None of it was a lie. All of it was a knife to his heart.
Karen nodded, playing at sympathy. “I’m sure it must have been terrible. But then they had to arrest you, and confine you because you were disturbing evidence that could have potentially solved the question of Red John’s identity once and for all.”
Jane picked at the fabric on his knee. “Do you have children Karen?”
“It’s not relevant here, Patrick. It is not my actions that we are discussing, it’s yours.”
“So you think but anyone out there who has children understands, Karen. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you don’t.”
The music cued and Karen turned to her audience once again. “Stayed tuned, everyone. We’ll be right back.” Once the camera was off she said to Jane. “Better. Just keep answering like that and we’ll get through this.”
Jane took a sip of one of two glasses of water that had been provided. “Bitch.” He said.
Lisbon muted the wide computer screen. No one said a word for a minute. Trying to be encouraging about the whole ordeal “He’s doing well, she’s not breaking him. She won’t.”
Van Pelt was taking two aspirin and Rigsby looked ready to punch someone. No one was doing any work. “I hope you’re right.” Van Pelt said. “There’s twenty minutes left.”
“And this is only the first show.” Rigsby reminded them. “Who knows what might happen on the second one?”
Lisbon watched the public service commercial of the girl on her tricycle crossing safely in the crosswalk and the crossing guard smiling into the camera. Jane would get through this. It was just another bump in what had so far proved to be a washboard year. “He’ll do fine.”
Jerry sent his Get-It girl came over to speak with Jane. “Mister Jane? Would you care for something besides water?”
“I’d like some tea please.” He had managed to still the shaking of his hands and the vibration in his stomach but he knew more would be coming from Karen Cross.
Karen left his side to speak to her Producer.
“So?” She asked. “Was I right or was I?”
“The audience already hates you.” He said. “That means the TV viewers will, too.”
“Who cares? There’s only two ways a hosted show lasts: the viewers either hate you or love you. If my goal was to incite blandness, I would never have left the Pittsburgh DA. They hate me – not important because they already love Jane. You watch the ratings, Jerry, and you’ll see how right I am.”
A voice called out. “Forty seconds Ms. Cross.”
Karen returned to her seat, and a girl brought Jane a cup of tea, setting him down before him. He nodded his thanks.
Karen adjusted her skirt and made certain her microphone was still clipped in place, and then smiled into the camera as it focused in on hr. “Welcome back to Cross-Hairs. I’m Karen Cross and as you know we’re talking with Patrick Jane, a local consultant with Sacramento CBI who has for many years been heavily involved in one way or another with the CBI’s case concerning serial killer Red John.”
She turned to him. “Patrick, after Red John murdered your family, how much time did you spend in Greenlawn Psychiatric Center?”
Jane cleared his throat. “Four months.”
“Treated by Doctor Sophie Miller?”
“It’s right there in your notes, Karen.”
“And how did it go, her treatment? You came out perfectly normal again? No headaches, no sleeplessness, no lingering anger or issues about control –?”
“What the hell are you getting at? Do you have a real question, Karen? It’s not like you to cast bait upon the water.”
Karen smirked. “Okay, we’ll go straight to the heart – were you aware that Sophie Miller has been implicated in a series of sexual assaults on male patients dating back twelve years?”
Jane, for the first time, looked over at his host. “That’s bullshit. Your information is wrong. Sophie Miller saved my life. I’d be dead if not for her.”
“Is that right? Are you sure? Because there are seven other former patients of hers - besides yourself - who have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct during her tenure there.”
Jane looked away, at a loss of what to say. Karen smiled to herself. Finally she had scored one over on the arrogant ass. “Do you have a comment, Mister Jane that you’d like to make? You say you came away from her treatment perfectly well. I find it difficult to believe that, if these allegations are true, that she would not have, shall we say, availed her particular brand of physical therapy upon you as well, as one of her more attractive male patients.”
Jane said nothing. The tea in his cup was bitter. The Get-it girl had not removed the tea bag. Sophie Miller had saved his life. He was bent on suicide the day he arrived and she had...
Jane tried to recall specific therapeutic sessions and the things that had occurred there-in.
“Call me Sophie...” Her voice was suddenly in his head, saying that to him. An intimate form of address for a doctor to her patient. Always in her office, she had tea ready for him. They drank it together. He was soothed from his anguish for an hour. She was a good doctor. She helped him.
“Patrick?” Karen urged after allowing him a dramatic ten seconds to think, to appear unsettled and to allow the female viewers of her show to get giddy all over with empathy and longing for the good looking, hurting Patrick Jane.
“Patrick - did Doctor Sophie Miller perform unwanted illicit acts upon you while you were under her care? She has already been charged. There is no need to hide it any longer.”
Jane felt like shit. His head hurt and he was astonished to suddenly discover that he had no really clear memories of their sessions together. Nothing concrete to answer the ratings-greedy bitch beside him, to prove she was chewing on the wrong bit of his flesh, that there was no old blood here to spill out all over the set. Nothing had happened there. Nothing could have happened because he was fine after Greenlawn. He had made a full recovery, leaving there well enough to find work at the CBI. His family dead, his doctor...the idea was too much to process...horror upon horror.
“I have no clear memories of Greenlawn.” He said finally, knowing it would none-the-less hang him in her eyes. No memories would be interpreted as hidden truths. Rotten things he could neither feel nor remember which Karen would bring down on him like a sword. Next she would imply doctor/patient sexual gropings of his person for which he had no memory and no defence. “I don’t remember very much from those days.”
“I see.” Karen said. It was all she needed to. “How can you be sure of anything, Patrick, relating to the Red John case if you cannot even remember your time spent in a hospital? The place where you went to get well?”
Jane was very tired. A form of salvation took pity on him in the form of music that signalled the wrap-up of the show. He rubbed his eyes, not even acknowledging the woman beside him as she spewed her goodbyes to the audience and to the camera.
Karen removed her microphone. “That was fabulous stuff, Patrick. Next week, same time okay?”
Jane stood and walked away from the set, tossing the microphone to the floor. Cho joined him and walked him to the car, not needing to ask whether Jane wanted to drive as Jane took his seat on the passenger side. He fastened his seat belt, slumped down in the seat and rested his head in his right hand, attempting to massage his headache away. “I’m hungry.” He said to Cho. “Take me somewhere.”
“Her lawyer advised me to go to hell.” Cho said to Lisbon.
Seated in her office Lisbon glanced away from Cho for the third time to make sure the door was shut and the blinds closed. “Not so surprising I guess if her client is up on seven allegations of sexual misconduct against her patients.”
When Lisbon had first heard the allegations, with a sinking heart she realized that now everyone knew Jane had spent several months in a psychiatric ward, including Bertram, the team, the fellows over in SWAT who regular spread jokes about the “circus freak”, and every stranger across the country who by chance had tuned in.
To Cho Lisbon then admitted quietly, feeling guilty that she was breaking her promise to Jane by doing so. “I knew he was in Greenlawn.” Karen had already made Jane’s secret known far and wide but still it felt wrong to betray a confidence that had bothered Jane so much that to speak it aloud to her, to even his closest friend, had obviously caused him pain. “Jane told me a few years ago. He didn’t want anyone to know – he said he was ashamed of it.”
“Nothing to be ashamed about.” Cho stated, utterly believing it. Everybody had a breaking point, and it was not a sign of inherent weakness or failure when one succumbed. But since hearing Karen Cross mention the allegations on her show Cho had asked himself a hundred times – had Jane also been among those sexually molested by his psychiatrist?
Dinner was a nine o’clock bite at a local diner.
“Lisbon told me about Greenlawn.”
Jane stared at him over his tea cup. The betrayal that struck his eyes landed like a hard mallet. Cho could read the words on his expression as though he had spoken them aloud; Lisbon had spilled not only the fact but the details of his shameful secret to Cho while Karen Cross had spilled it across America.
“Right.” Jane said. “No secrets.” He dropped the cup into its saucer with a clatter. “Before you ask, I don’t remember many specifics about the sessions.” Lisbon and Cho, and Karen for that matter, could all go take a flying leap into minding their own business.
Cho chewed on a piece of over-done deep-fried fish and a side of rice. Unwilling to let it drop “I don’t care, Jane, that you spent time in a mental institute but don’t you think it’s a little odd that you can’t remember four months of therapy?” It was downright worrisome.
Jane had eaten a third of his chicken and pasta and then abandoned it. “I didn’t say I don’t remember anything, I said I don’t remember everything. There’s a big difference. And I was...in a bad way at the time.” was Jane’s slightly cryptic answer. He picked up his tea again, his next comment sending chills down Cho’s spine. “Does it really matter now?”
“You mean that you clearly remember almost nothing or that you may have been sexually assaulted? I’d say both matter a hell of a lot.”
Jane did not want any of them interfering with a past better left forgotten, however well intentioned. Miller had saved his life at a time he hadn’t wanted to live; that was all he cared about. And she had not touched him inappropriately, and certainly not without his consent. He was sure of it. “It’s my business, Cho. No one else’s. Mine.”
“They could subpoena you if it goes to trial.”
“Then let them –I don’t remember.”
“What do you remember?”
“I remember getting well.” Jane threw down some money, intending to leave. “I remember walking out of that place.” That’s all that should matter. That’s all he cared about.
Cho grabbed his arm with just enough grip to keep him there but not so it would feel like force. “Jane if this is going to work, then we need to be honest with each other. I need that, even if you don’t. Just talk to me.” He urged. “Please?”
Jane settled down again, folding his hands in front of him. “She’d – Soph-...Doctor Miller would come and...just talk to me and after I...” He made loose limbed slicing motions against his left arm with his right hand. “...cut up my forearms, she took on my case personally. That’s what she said. She did what all shrinks do – she talked to me, and we drank tea and she t-told me things...helped me...deal with...what happened.”
Jane had not said the words: murder, death-of-his-wife, death-of-his-child; slaughter by serial killer. “What things?”
“I don’t know - things. I don’t remember.” He was feeling rather anxious and a fresh tea would do nicely. He waved his hand at a waitress and one hurried over to take his request. Cho ordered himself a coffee refill.
Jane tried to ignore him while fishing around in a small wooden table-cubby for sugar. The only thing he kept finding was artificial sweetener which he disliked and tossed back with impatient fingers.
Cho reached in effortlessly and managed to lay his hands on a sugar, sliding it across the table.
Jane thanked him with a frown, tore it open and poured it into his cup.
“What else?” Cho asked again.
“Nothing. Can we drop this now?” Jane’s expression was pained. He stirred his tea violently, his frustration spilling over. “I’ve got enough on my mind without this.”
Cho could hear the small rise of panic in Jane’s voice and decided to stop pushing him. The second part of Karen’s show was tomorrow morning and Jane was wound up tight. Little lines of tension had formed around his eyes and he had not slept properly all week. He was a guitar string about to snap in two.
“Okay.” Cho said. “Finish your tea and let’s go home.” He had the perfect de-stressor in mind.
Cho deliberately left the hall light switched on. That way he could see almost all of Jane’s naked body, his touchable skin glowing under its soft light. On his face Jane got as much sun as the rest of them on a day to day basis, which wasn’t much since most of the time they all worked from dark to dark but the rest of him, also like the most of them, had little tan.
Not that Cho minded. Like blondes often were, Jane’s flesh was so lovely lily-white. Cho ran his hands up and down Jane’s naked chest, anticipation building in his pelvis, his cock twitching. Jane’s skin felt so smooth and in the half light appeared almost flawless, like alabaster.
Cho caught his lips and kissed him hard for a long time, only coming up for air now and then, wanting to smother Jane with his mouth and explore him with his tongue. Other than too much talking before and after, Jane was a quiet lover and rarely opened his mouth for any reason other than to kiss him or sigh with pleasure.
Tonight Cho was determined to get a moan out of him and that meant going where neither of them had gone before. Without telling Jane, Cho had stopped during the course of his day to purchase lube and condoms. Whether Jane would go for it was as yet undetermined, but he wanted them ready just in case.
Himself Cho knew he had a powerful body because he worked hard to make it so. Jane he knew did some running at the CBI Gym a few times a week and did the weight circuits now and then but when it came to sculpting, Jane was not as goal oriented. But he was however, sufficiently muscled to look good and Cho even appreciated the slight softness to the blonde’s stomach – ideal for nibbling. Plus the shapely parts of him that were naturally toned like his powerful legs, his tight ass cheeks and his upper arms and chest.
With a hand on either side of Jane’s ribcage Cho raised himself up on his thick arms, taking a moment to admire Jane’s body as laid out below him. His own cock was as hard as iron for what he wanted to do, and he wanted it badly. Though most of his life accepting that he possessed some small tendencies towards bisexuality, Cho had never-the-less imagined he would find the right lady, eventually get married and start a family as his parents continually hoped and reminded him.
Never had it crossed his mind that he would meet and fall in love with a man and certainly not a man as good looking and intelligent as Jane was, nor one as out-right compelling. Jane had stunned them all with his abilities - acquired and practised they soon learned since the tender age of six - and had even impressed with some natural born brilliance on subjects with which he had virtually no experience.
But at the present moment it was Jane’s good looks that were keeping Cho’s attention. With his still youthful and smooth, nearly hairless skin, his blonde curls (that he desperately tried every day to tame without much success), his aqua-grey eyes, and facial bone structure that looked as though it had been chiselled directly out of a relief on the Acropolis itself, Jane was a nothing less than a heart-stopping bombshell.
Cho kissed him softly then whispered “I want you.”
Jane looked up at him, his momentary frown turning to comprehension. “Oh, you mean...”
“I’ve got everything, and I’ll go slowly.”
“I guess that’s going to make it sort of official – our having sex. I mean, we’ve had sex but not really sex, we-“
“Stop talking.” Cho gently admonished, loving the mixed expression of uncertainty and curiosity on Jane’s features.
Cho loved messing with the smug confidence that Jane inevitably displayed in nearly every new situation that presented itself. Figuratively dishevelling Jane’s sense of control and leaving him vulnerable made him that much more attractive and heightened Cho’s desire to fill in those vulnerabilities with parts of himself. With Jane, one soul (and as much as possible one body), moving in and taking over the other’s, at least from time to time, was as intensely hot as it got. Thus far fucking Patrick Jane were proving to be the most intimate, most satisfying and most powerfully moving moments of his entire life.
Cho sat up on his heels, clasping his hands around each of Jane’s ankles, lifting the blonde’s muscled legs, stretching them until they lay almost beside Jane’s own shoulders. Jane was flexible and Cho’s cock twitched at that new bit of knowledge. It would make for lots more of this particular pleasure. “Stay just like that.” He said, leaning in to kiss him. “Don’t move. Don’t make a sound.” He was pleased to see Jane’s erection grow as he spoke his instructions and kissed him once more. “That’s good, Jane, that’s perfect.”
Cho fumbled with his fingers to the bed’s side table drawer and pulled out the two items he needed. He quickly rolled on the condom, pulling and snapping it in place, smearing on a generous amount of the clear lube. He also warmed a small dab of it between his fingers before spreading it on and around Jane’s anus.
In the penis size department Cho knew he was an average North American male and this was one situation where that was an advantage. Too large and anal sex became impossible. Cho had never done this before either but he had read that if the one penetrating rubbed the penis head against the tight sphincter long enough and then entered slowly enough, using at first only the head and then in stages gradually pushing all the way in, there would be no discomfort for the receiver.
Cho kissed Jane once more, and then lined up his cock with the hole, rubbing against it in small circles, pushing against it now and then. A delicious tease for him and, he hoped, for Jane.
Already the sensations were something new and very hot and Cho moaned softly and then, unable to help himself, whispered in his lover’s ear “O-o-o-h baby...o-o-h fu-uck.” Cho performed a series of little invasions before forcing the head of his cock passed the tight ring of muscle, easing himself in. The only sign of discomfort from Jane was a sharp intake of breath and then a long, soft sigh as he exhaled.
Cho kissed him hard on the mouth and began some slow, languid movements, gently pushing in then withdrawing his cock but never all the way. The secret to getting his partner’s body to accept him completely, he had also read, was to not pull all the way out again, but to remain inside and move around until he felt his lover’s sphincter relax. Only then would he be free to enjoy quicker movements and increase the pleasure for both of them.
Cho wanted Jane to feel how good it could be, too, and pushed in sharply, the head of his penis striking his prostate. Making Jane’s hips jump off the bed and a surprised “Ah-h...” escape his lips.
Cho continued to pump and move from side to side, gyrating his hips, virtually hypnotised by the sensation of Jane’s hot body holding him tight and every so often squeezing his cock deliciously. Cho kissed him hard when he felt a sudden change in his own body, the need to come building and building as he pumped faster and faster. Jane’s own cock was being massaged between their abdomens and Cho felt the pre-cum leaking from it providing a natural lubrication. It meant Jane was close, too.
“Ah-h-h – fuck–fuck-fuck!!” Cho was not normally given to cursing of any sort but in this situation, in his bed with his very sexy Jane beneath him and both of them coming hard at the same time the words fit and were righteously fired. Cho wanted to growl out more hot words, slutty words, grinding them out between his teeth into Jane’s ear, urgent greedy things about his perfect pink cock and how amazing it was to fuck him and how he wanted to come inside him next time, words that were pure expressions of both mindless lust and utterly helpless love. When having mind blowing sex with your perfect lover, there were no dirty words, and Cho so wanted to say all these things but he was afraid of that small uncertainty that still rested in Jane’s eyes whenever he looked at him. Even now as they came down together from a stunning orgasm.
Instead Cho slipped his softening penis from Jane’s body and kissed him on the mouth, then rested his head on Jane’s right silken shoulder, not saying a thing but lying perfectly still, just listening to him breath.
Cho got up for wash-cloths for each of them, and when they were both clean again, he turned out the hall light and lay back down. Turning on his side to watch his lover go to sleep, Cho draped one arm lazily across Jane’s chest, even gently tracing the pattern of the terrible scar with which Red John had marred that flawless skin, until Jane closed his eyes and his breathing evened out.
Cho laid awake and watched Jane sleep while the nameless omnipresent fearful thing stared at them both through the walls and the locks that were only a mere illusion of security. Cho instinctively knew that at some point this love he had for Jane would be put to the test. Black fate just seemed to have it in for Jane and as much as he would like to prevent any more hurt from seeking the blonde out to cut him open, there was already a serial killer moving free through the world who was as obsessed with Jane as was he himself. And that was only the first of his lover’s troubles, none of them deserved.
For another hour Cho stared at Jane, his eyes aching into the darkness in fear for his sleeping lover.
“Welcome to Cross-Hairs. I’m Karen Cross.”
Jane listened as Cross spewed out the usual drone to her viewers and counted the minutes until the damn show was done with and he could go home to his, and Lisbon’s, with jobs once again secure.
“Last week we were discussing your time spent at Greenlawn Psychiatric hospital and the allegations that been made against Doctor Sophie Miller, the doctor who treated you during your stay...”
Jane had his “no comment” ready on the tip of his tongue when Cross changed tactics slightly.
“The things, Patrick, that concern our Cross-Hairs researchers are your actions during the hours previous to and on the night in question, the night of the murders, and not the Red John case itself. The speculation has been that if not for your actions your family might still be alive, in fact, that you were well aware of the risks to your family and yet you ignored that risk, appearing on Top-Crime as scheduled. You had studied Red John’s history of violence toward public figures and knew the specific circumstances surrounding the murder’s of others, some not so dissimilar to yours, and yet you went on the air anyway, publically disparaging Red John. Can you shed any light on your reasoning at the time? Why did you ignore common sense and go on television despite the danger? Can you comment, Patrick?”
It was all cleverly worded manipulation of the facts at best and blatant innuendo at worst but there was no law against asking hypothetical questions. Answering them in a way that did not sound defensive or evasive was a different matter. In this particular instance, there was no way to answer.
“No comment, Karen.” Jane answered quietly. “I will not happily play into your verbal con.”
Karen turned to the audience. “You’ve heard it said folks - If not for your actions...? Well, Patrick Jane’s actions on that memorable day and night were to say the least, in our opinion, questionable.” She asked Jane. “Can you at least tell us what changes you have made in your life and how much of that change is the result of your own culpability, even indirectly, in the death of your wife and daughter?”
Rotten, cold-hearted bitch. “What changes?” Karen could not lay claim to a single soul in her life of studios, cameras and fame. No life-long buddies or close relations with her family. No children. She had never been involved in a relationship with anyone that had gone more than two months, had never been hopelessly and passionately in love. It was the only explanation for spite that brittle. “I have not slept a night through since then.” He said tonelessly. “Next question.”
Karen held a finger to her ear. “It’s time for calls?” She said, nodding. “Jerry tells me we have a caller. On the phone is Richard from Florida. Go ahead Richard, you’re on the air.”
“Yeah. Hey – Karen – why in the hell don’t you leave the guy alone? Why do you always have to be such a bitch?”
Karen remained un-phased by his rudeness. “You got a question Richie or did you just call to rant? Because, trust me, I get worse from my dry-cleaners on a daily basis.”
“Yeah. I just wanted to say to Patrick to hang in there and ignore the hag sitting to your left.”
Looking into the camera for the first time, Jane nodded his thanks to the unseen caller.
“Well, the phones are lighting up now, Jerry says, so after this commercial, we’ll be right back to hear your answers Patrick. Stay tuned.”
Jane used the restroom and gulped down a glass of water. He looked at his watch. Only fourteen more minutes left and this was over. When he re-took his seat, Karen was already there, studiously ignoring him and going over her notes.
“Jerry.” She said. “No more callers - I’ll be going with this.” She instructed, sorting the papers in her hand. Jerry shrugged, spreading his hands as though he was used to her last minute changes, for better or worse.
The music cued and Karen smiled into her beloved camera. “A last minute change, viewers. Since Mister Jane has been so reluctant to come forward with some honest answers regarding his involvement with the Red John case of his own family, instead of taking more callers we’re going to be discussing a shocking fact that has come to light regarding the Red John case – specifically that very case involving the murder of Mister Jane’s family – and some new DNA evidence previously undisclosed.”
Jane stared at her, his heart hammering.
Cross reached over and took Jane’s left hand in her own icy fingers. “Patrick, this may be hard for you to hear.” She said to him, feigning sympathy and love. She turned back to the camera. “The Medical Examiner of the case, who has since retired had filed a second – note that now - a second report, an addendum to his original results of the autopsies of Angela and Charlotte Jane...”
The cold air of the overhead fans blew stale air down on him and Jane tried to keep breathing, to remain calm while Cross’s grating vocals bounced off his flesh, gouging and cutting his skin, drawing unseen blood and causing mute pain.
“It is the report of Charlotte Jane, the daughter that has been recently revealed. Doctor Bernard Vogel submitted his addendum after the murder investigation had already wrapped up and the case files sent to the FBI office in San Francisco. In that addendum Doctor Vogel reported discovering traces of semen on the clothing of the dead girl...”
Karen did not even say her name. His beautiful, perfect and innocent daughter was merely “the child” and “the body” – a corpse – a thing over which to discuss long ago agonies that threatened to swallow him down into its toothy maw. In an instant Jane found his eyes sightless and he was unable to speak. A terrible ache had began in his chest, a tiny and expanding agony that reached outward with chilled, penetrating fingers until he could no longer feel his limbs. It was cold in the studio, an unfeeling empty space of cruel echoes and cooling sweat.
Karen was still talking. “There is speculation that Charlotte Elizabeth Jane, a beautiful girl of age nine when she was murdered, had also been raped by Red John.”
Karen finished and looked to her right staring bluntly at her guest for the day. Jane was unmoving, his eyes fixed on the carpet beneath his feet. “Red John...” He began knowing that Karen was waiting for him to speak as was the audience before him and the millions behind the camera lenses.
“Red John would not have...” Jane did not care that they waited. But Red John would be listening, too, and he had to make a defence, as much as his guts were ready to spill from the aching inside, he had to say something not only in answer to the tender innocence of his daughter which he had believed all these years to have been left untouched by the killer, but to Red John himself, so he would not take Cross’s words seriously and kill her for it.
Even if her words were correct. Even if Red John had not only cut his child open and let her bleed to death in under a minute, but had lifted her dress, removed her underwear and violated her dead body as well, using her for his perverted pleasure, twisting her tiny legs....
Jane leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees to hold himself upright. Any further forward and he would have toppled over.
But it was now impossible to speak. He placed a hand over his mouth to stifle the ancient keen of grief that threatened to erupt from his throat like a howl. All he could see now were images of his blonde baby girl hacked open in a swath of gore, her legs spread and her childhood taken. Her once happy life drained and her sweetness stolen forever from his eternally empty, shaking daddy’s hands.
As much as he wanted to stand and walk away from it all, Jane could not move his legs, so powerful was the paralyzing knowledge of his nine year old murdered daughter’s post-mortem rape by the serial killer John. Over and over in his mind Jane re-arranged and re-imagined the words of it, trying to deconstruct them and snuff out their life - sever their steel grip on his mind, trying to make sense of these new and most terrible words to ever enter his ears.
But the words, fully potent, stayed rooted, remaining as they were, bearing down on his soul and heart until he wondered if he was going to expire from them right there on the set. He might drop dead before the cameras of the world yet none of them would have guessed what he was feeling at that moment, or understand the guilt and sorrow a sole survivor carries – a father deprived of his whole reason for coming home, or breathing.
Jane did not know how long he had sat there, not answering Karen and not responding to the killer who was, who had to be, watching, but his next clear thought was that he had given in to the grief. He was crying he realised, choking out the morose strangled noises into his hand, ignoring the camera and the people staring at him in macabre curiosity. Ignoring the heartless woman who had demanded his presence.
Jane wept – sobbed - unable to process the worst thoughts that any parent anywhere could have over his already murdered only child – that his child’s helpless body had been violated as well by the flesh and fluids of a monster.
Jane sat there slumped over, not getting up, his chest on its way to caving in from the sorrow, and not speaking, making no sound but the stifled gasps of raw human soul-sewage. Not thinking beyond the next swell of abrasive pain – not even believing!
When Cho saw what was happening he walked on set, ignoring the hoarse warning of the director only feet away and took Jane by the arm.
“We’re done.” He said to Karen, not caring if his look of contempt for her made it out into millions of homes across the country. If he could have done so, he would have balled an iron fist and knocked the bitch’s teeth out the back of her head.
“Jane.” He said in a tender whisper into his lover’s grieving ear. “Come on. This is over.”
“Patrick?” Karen Cross said. “I realize this must be awful news but you’d be doing yourself and the ongoing investigations into Red John a favour by addressing it – giving us your opinion of why Red John would break his pattern and commit post-mortem rape? Don’t you want to know why? I know you do – Patrick?”
Jane obeyed Cho like an automaton all the while Cross’s voice faded into the background of the sounds of a busy studio and the hushed voices of the audience as they observed the public breakdown of the day’s special guest. It was the first time a guest had walked off the set, or had been led off, and it was sad to see a grown man cry. They hated and loved Karen Cross for her exploitive interrogation of the poor, sorrowing father. It was new and exciting. Best show yet.
Cho lead Jane to the men’s room where, in between choking sobs, Jane spent the next few minutes throwing up his meagre breakfast of toast and tea into a sparkling toilet bowl.
Cho, knowing any attempt to provide comforting words would only be a gross insult, kept rubbing Jane’s back while his body heaved violently, as though it was trying to vomit out the knowledge so it could be flushed away. The floor was dirty and the stall smelled like urine. The half digested food was a pungent addition to the sour mix.
When his stomach as empty and only bile remained Jane sat up, falling from his knees to his backside beside the toilet, his eyes still shedding rivers, his breath hitching. Every few minutes his eyes would squeeze shut and his face would twist in pain again as, Cho reasoned, the images of his daughter’s body and its many violations refreshed in his mind, and he would begin sobbing anew.
Not a parent himself Cho could only imagine what it might feel like to be Jane at that moment, perpetually swallowed up by the insupportable pain the loss of a child in those circumstances caused, plus the agony Jane had already carried daily for the last decade. An agony Cho figured that a person never really got over. Perhaps in some small way Jane had found a way to live with it, beyond his long-reaching goals of revenge. But if so, that tenuous agreement of acceptance he and time had made regarding the death of his family was now null and void. Karen had seen to that.
Perhaps it had been a precious truth Jane had clung to over the years, that his daughter, murdered though she may have been, in death had none-the-less remained a child, an innocent, his little girl with the golden curls and the blue eyes of her mother against whom no evil, beyond the taking of her life, had entered and dirtied with its lifeless intent and putrid hands.
But that pathetic image of truth was now no longer possible to maintain. Thanks to Red John and Karen Cross, Jane had no pure dreams left of his little Charlotte to cling to.
Finally, after twenty minutes of sobbing with shoulders shaking so hard it seemed as though he would fly apart, the tears slowed and stopped, and the hitch in his breath calmed. Soon the only thing left to reveal that anything had been amiss were some silent hiccups that sent tiny after-shocks through Jane’s torso.
“You wanna’ get out of here?” Cho asked quietly. And never look back. Maybe he’d anonymously send Cross a few scorpions through the mail.
Jane nodded. “Sure.” His voice sounded like gravel in a bucket.
Cho helped him to his feet and Jane spent a sad moment trying to make his wrinkled and tear-stained shirt a little more presentable, and then they walked out to the car together, Jane putting one foot slowly in front of the other in careful, even steps which was all he could manage, like a caught-man wearing the iron chains of an unseen and particularly cruel slavery.
Part 3 soon (lots more to come).