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Deep Red Bells

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The needle slips into her vein, despite her struggles to fight and free herself. He's holding her wrist like a vice, waiting, and within the span of a few minutes, she can feel the drug begin to take hold of her, and her limbs lose strength until she's as limp as a rag doll. Her head droops, and a lock of hair falls down over her face which he courteously tucks behind her ear, caressing her cheek as he does so. Bending, he scoops her up in his arms, and carries her over to a narrow bed, and begins to strip off her clothing.

*****

It's two in the morning, and Van Pelt has never seen Lisbon this angry before. Jane has just said something completely unthinkable...again...to the wrong person...again. This time, it's somebody high up enough in the mayor's office to cause them some serious trouble. It's like an instinct with Jane, like breathing. He knows it's against his best interests, especially with the possible Red John connection to this case, but it's so hard for him to hide his disdain when faced with people he sees as obstacles. Van Pelt sighs and walks over to see if she can calm things down before Lisbon takes an axe to somebody.

*****

She lies face down on the faded blanket that covers the bed. He's a connoisseur of beauty - you can't ruin something if you don't cherish it as well - so he takes a moment to explore her, sliding an ungloved hand down the small of her back, over her hip, down her thigh to her calf and back upwards. Rolling her gently over onto her back, he nudges her legs apart and strokes her, moves up her body to toy with her breasts, pinches her nipples until they harden. Finally, bending over her, he kisses her slack mouth. The drug keeps her docile, but it also has certain...side effects which are evident in how she pants as he touches her. He's pleased with this toy, and decides to play with her a little further before he sends her back into the world, to further the game. Mr. Jane will be so surprised. He is filled with delightful anticipation.

*****

Even Cho, the world's most even-tempered human, is too mad at him to talk. Jane isn't sorry he said what he said. The man from the mayor's office was an officious little creep with a Napoleon complex the size of the Pacific Ocean. However, he was regretting the results, because Lisbon had gone truly apoplectic and he was beginning to wonder if he had perhaps stepped the teensiest bit over the line this time. Ah, well. The storm would pass. He smiled beatifically at Van Pelt, who was driving them back to the office. Sweet, conflict-averse Van Pelt. At least he'd get no lectures on the way back. He leaned his chair back and drifted off into a light doze.

******

The toy is crying softly on the bed. He knows why - but he doesn't really care all that much about her tears, although her eyes are puffy and her pretty pale skin is blotchy, and he doesn't really like that. But he's pleased with her - she arched up so nicely under him when he fucked her, sobbed and panted and said wanton things in a sweet small voice.

It's time for something else now. He pushes her face down against the bed, ties her hair up, and swabs the back of her neck with antiseptic. As the tattoo needle begins to buzz and click, she stops weeping and lies still, silent as a dead girl. Under his fingers, the shape on the back of her neck begins to form.

****

The crunch of gravel under the car's tires wakes him. He's disoriented - this isn't the CBI building, it's something low and long and dark. But Van Pelt is pulling behind the building like she knows what she's doing, so he figures that Lisbon sent them out on an emergency call or something. He opens his mouth to ask her what's going on, but before he can say anything Van Pelt has stepped out of the car and is standing next to his door, so he climbs out as well, squinting out into the night.

She draws her gun and points it at him. He says, "Van Pelt, what...?" but she cuts him off, saying "Don't speak" in a poisonous tone he'd never thought her capable of. Studying the cold, blank expression on her face he knows, with icy certainty, that Red John has gotten to her somehow.

"Grace, listen to me. Whatever he's said, whatever he's done, let me help you." Jane knows he's scrambling, knows that his words lack real power, and he's almost unsurprised when Van Pelt reverses the gun in her hand and smashes him across the mouth with the butt of the weapon. He reels back, spitting blood from a cut lip, and she levels the gun at him with no hesitation or hint of indecisiveness.

"You were told to shut up, Mr. Jane." The words are Red John's, spoken through her mouth, and his heart twists in his chest. Van Pelt jerks her chin, directing him towards one of the units of the abandoned motel, and he walks towards it obediently. Grace's eyes are eerily blank, and he wonders if he even has the ability to reach her, or if whatever Red John's done to her have sent her someplace so far away that she can never be brought back. Ahead of them, a light in the motel room flickers on.

*****

It's perfect, so perfect. Here is Jane, bleeding elegantly from the mouth, marching like a good little marionette into the room. Pretty Gracie has done her job so well, like he knew she would. He wishes he could have seen her hit him, and realizes that he can make her do it again, if he wants. He files the thought away, and opens the door, ushering in his two favorite people. This will be so much fun.

****

He's masked, of course. Jane looks to see his face as soon as he steps through the door, but all he sees are dark eyes gleaming at him through a mask that covers most of the man's face, leaving only his mouth uncovered. Red John - who else could it be? - proves to be all lean whipcord, with strong-looking hands and a thin-lipped smile. He's dressed in jeans and a plain black t-shirt, clothing that would let him blend in anywhere, no clues to be found there. He smiles at Jane and bows them in, entertaining himself by playing gracious host.

"Mr, Jane, welcome, welcome. I'm so glad to have you here. We've had our one little meeting, but there wasn't any time to chat, was there? Please, sit. You and I have much to do tonight." His accent is middle-America, as flat as a tv news anchor, but whether it's learned or his real voice Jane can't say.

When Jane hesitates, Van Pelt shoves him, and he falls back onto the edge of the bed. Not good, he's sitting while they stand over him, it's too submissive a posture and he knows Red John is aware of it.

"Grace, you know Mr. Jane is a bit of a slippery fish. Please cuff him for me." Van Pelt obeys, holstering her gun and advancing with the handcuffs. Jane sees an opportunity and tenses, ready to push past her and run, but then he'd be leaving Van Pelt here, and he's entirely certain that she wouldn't be alive five minutes after he cleared the door. As he thinks furiously, Red John steps forward and slaps his cheek, just hard enough to sting.

"You're right in thinking that way, Mr. Jane. I'd disembowel her before you got the car started. So be a good boy and stay put." Behind his back, Van Pelt clicks the handcuffs shut around his wrists and stands up, returning to stand at Red John's elbow.

"Do you plan to tell me your intentions?" Jane's voice comes out evenly modulated, a small triumph given the fact that he's dancing on the edge of complete panic. But Red John smiles at him, almost kindly., and shakes his head.

 

"Mr. Jane, you can't spoil the fun by asking questions like that. We've got a long evening ahead of us. We're going to open up to each other. I want to see your soul in my hand, my friend." Jane can't help it - he shudders, and Red John smiles again. "Gracie, my dear?" Grace steps up to stand by him, and he hands her a small, sharp knife.

 

"Please remove his shirt. Don't nick him, please. That's for later." With a few surgical slices, Van Pelt cuts away Jane's shirt, leaving him shivering despite the muggy heat of the room. The blade traces his skin here and there, but her hands are deft and she doesn't draw any blood. She returns the knife to Red John, and he pats her cheek like a man would pat an obedient dog. She turns her face away, and for a second Jane sees her mouth twist, like she's struggling with the compulsions he's planted inside her. A second later her face goes blank again, and he wonders if he was imagining it out of some desperate hope that she can break free and save them.

 

Red John sees him staring at Van Pelt and chuckles. "Are you wondering about how I made my new friend, Mr. Jane? She had rather a long vacation a few months back, I'm sure you remember. I'm afraid she never made it home to see her family - a crisis at work, she had to call and cancel, such a shame. Her family was so disappointed, but they understood. She's a dedicated public servant, keeping the streets safe. We had a lovely two weeks to ourselves. We did so many delightful things together. Grace, kneel facing me, please." Van Pelt sinks down in front of him and he gathers her hair up, pulling it away from the nape of her neck. "See, Mr, Jane? We became very close indeed."

 

A tattoo. Red John's insanely cheerful little symbol, usually painted in blood over the bodies of his victims, smiles up at him from where it's etched into Van Pelt's skin. Jane turns away and vomits convulsively.

 

Red John tsks. "Grace, go get Mr. Jane some water. My little piece of art seems to have disturbed him. What a shame." He doesn't bother to hide how satisfied Jane's loss of control has made him. Grace returns from the bathroom with a glass of water, and Patrick shakily rinses his mouth. He knows he needs to say something, do something - his only weapon has ever been his words, and they're stuck in his throat. He needs to say something, to save them somehow, to get control back, but he has nothing to say, no clever tricks up his sleeve. He and Grace are going to die in this horrible little room and there's nothing he can do about it.

 

While he's thinking this, Red John steps forward, and with a careless flick of his wrist cuts into Jane's chest, carving a deep diagonal line from the shoulder downwards into his belly Blood wells, and begins to drip slowly down Jane's chest. Jane cries out, more from surprise than pain, and Red John cuts him again, another diagonal stripe so that Jane is now bearing an X of blood. Van Pelt stands unmoving in the corner of the room, looking down at the floor.

A few long moments pass, as Red John studies his handiwork. "You bleed beautifully, Mr. Jane. I appreciate that, you know. Everyone I've ever killed, they've always given me that beauty. Your wife was lovely, lovely. I'll never be able to thank you enough for bringing me to her."

Jane is off the bed and hurling himself at Red John before he's done talking. He knows it's a deliberate taunt, he can't even hit the man, he knows he's doing everything that Red John wants him to do but he can't help it, he's nothing left but reactions now, as helpless as any one of his own victims. Red John hits him in the face, bears him back on the bed, straddles him. Jane turns his face away as Red John caresses his jaw, puts his fingers into Jane's mouth, traces his face like a lover. With his head turned to the side he can see Van Pelt, and he focuses on her in an attempt to distract himself as Red John explores his body. As he stares at her she looks up, meeting his gaze. He sees her hands clench once, twice. He mouths the word "please," and she looks down and away, her face returning to its previous blank smoothness, and Red John backhands him. "You're here to pay attention to me, Mr. Jane. What do I have to do to make sure I have your full attention?" He grinds his crotch into Jane's, and at the same time jabs a finger into one of the knife wounds. A bolt of agony whites out Jane's world.

The door shudders and flies inwards. Cho and Rigsby tumble into the room, guns drawn. Lisbon is behind them, taking a different line in, the three of them fanning out. They're shouting, but Jane can't hear what they're saying, because Van Pelt has drawn her gun, put it against Red John's temple, and pulled the trigger. Bits of bone and brain fly everywhere, and Jane reels backwards, his face coated in gore. Van Pelt sobs once, and as her knees buckle, Rigsby catches her, tugging the gun out of her hand and letting her sag against him. Horrified, he bundles her against him, holding her as she begins to sob and shake. Cho sweeps the rest of the small room as Lisbon rolls Red John's body off Jane. From the bathroom, Cho brings out a small cell phone - Van Pelt's. The last number dialed belongs to Lisbon, about a half-hour ago.

The ambulances finally arrive, the red lights flashing against the peeling paint. Police secure the scene, taking photos of the bloody bed and the corpse that now lies face-down on the cheap carpet.

******

Van Pelt is finally alone in her hospital bed. Everyone has left at the urging of the doctor, even Rigsby, all of them muttering that she needs her sleep and that they'll be by to see her in the morning. None of them look her in the eye, and she wonders if it's the same way for Jane, in a different hospital bed somewhere in the same building. An officer stands guard outside her door - to keep her in as well as keep people out, she thinks. Her family is on their way. She may wake up tomorrow to the sight of them surrounding her bed. They will not know what to say to her, so they will talk in circles around "the incident" and "that terrible thing that happened to you and that nice Mr. Jane". She will be put on medical leave, and made to go into therapy. She wonders if she will be able to endure. She wishes for muteness, so she would never have to speak again.

The sedative begins to take effect and she hears Red John's voice, murmuring to her like the tides of the ocean, like her own heartbeat. She falls asleep to the sound of his voice echoing in her head, telling her that everything is going to be all right.