Her footsteps echoed from the dirty white walls as she followed the signs down the corridor. The place was vaguely familiar, but she wasn't sure if it was because she'd visited it before during some cross-state case, or if it was simply because all morgues looked alike. There was a man in a white coat waiting for her at the end of the corridor, his face just as non-descriptively familiar as the rest of the place.
She nodded, and he held out his hand. "I'm Doctor Ellis. Detective Ford couldn't make it, so you'll have to do with me."
He stepped aside, guiding her towards the door behind him.
"This way please."
The air in the room was cold and dry, and smelled of ammonia and chlorine. Ellis walked to a small table in the corner and picked up a clipboard. He ran his finger down the list on the topmost paper and then set it back down.
"You were his supervisor, I understand?"
"Yes." She managed to keep her voice steady, swallowing down the burning feeling in her throat.
He opened one of the units and pulled out the body. Only the feet were visible under the white sheet, a small tag attached to one of the toes.
"We tried to track down his next of kin, but..."
"He doesn't have any family."
Ellis pulled away the sheet, and stepped aside. It took her a few seconds to remember how to move her legs.
She'd often heard people say that a dead person looked like they were only sleeping, but she'd never thought so. Jane's body was pale and still, nothing but a shell of the man she'd known for almost eight years. His nose was broken and his left eye swollen shut, the pale skin of his chest divided by the bright red grin of the Y-incision. He looked cold, and she resisted the irrational urge to pull the sheet up to better cover him. Jane had never liked cold.
"It's him," she said, her own voice sounding hollow and strange in her ears. The room had a strange echo that seemed to swallow her words. "How did he die?"
Ellis consulted his clipboard again.
"The autopsy indicates the cause of death was internal bleeding from a ruptured liver. His legs were also broken in multiple places, and from the bruises on him, looks he was beaten up and left to die." He was quiet for a few seconds, and then added, like an afterthought: "I'm sorry for your loss."
During her career Lisbon had seen more bodies than she'd care to count, but this was the first time she'd had to identify one. They'd never let her see her mother's body, and there had been no need for her to see her father's, because she'd been the one to find him. But she'd been on the other side many times, and when she looked away from the body, she almost expected to to see herself standing across the room.
"Would you like a moment alone?" Ellis asked.
She waited until she was certain that he was out of hearing range, and then leaned over Jane's body.
"You stupid, stubborn, selfish son of a bitch," she hissed. "Why couldn't you ask for help?"
A part of her expected him to open his eyes and give her one of his insufferable grins; hoped beyond all reason that this was all just a joke, or some clever ruse to catch Red John. Gotcha, Lisbon. I'm not really dead.
"Or was this part of your plan? Getting yourself killed in the most ridiculously stupid way possible? And then what? Stay dead until Red John dies of old age?" She could feel her fingernails bite into her palms as her hands curled into fists. "He won, do you understand that? Red John won."
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to dislodge the steel band squeezing around her chest. If she was going to cry, it wouldn't be here, it would be when she was home, and her tears would be for her alone.
One more shuddering breath, and she was able to look at him again. It's gonna be okay, Lisbon. Everything's gonna be okay, she could almost hear him say, and she wished that Jane was with her, with his stupid trances and relaxation techniques and chamomille teas.
She blinked away the few stray tears and then took his hand. His ring was gone, taken away by the pathologist with the rest of his belongings. There was only a pale line left where it had been, and she gently rubbed her thumb across it. It was the sight his bare finger that truly brought it home that he was really gone, even more than the cold touch of his skin. It was almost like his soul had been in that ring. In a way, maybe it had been.
"I know you wouldn't want me to pray for you, so I won't."
She let go of his hand and gently stroked his hair.
"Goodbye, Jane. I hope you're at peace now."