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“Tears are words that need to be written. “ -Paulo Coelho

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His departure was easy enough, the arrival just as simple, a new country with a new language, there was nothing he regretted leaving behind, except, well, yes, he already missed her. He was already missing her even as his fingers were pressing the life from Red John’s throat, even as he knew chances were that he wouldn’t see her again.

He was surprised at how easily his mind had accepted that he was, by most people’s standards, hell, even by his own, he was now a murderer. Yes, he’d taken a life before, to stop him from shooting Lisbon, and been at least partly responsible for the deaths of others, and yes, he had been planning the death of the man responsible for the murders of his wife and daughter since the moment he read the letter that had been left for him. There was definitely premeditation involved, he acknowledged that. Any court with any sense would convict him, though he had outsmarted them the first time he had killed him. Of course, he hadn’t been Red John, but he had been a bad man. He would, if he could look at the thing objectively, convict himself. He had shed no tears over what he had done. He told himself he had ended the life of no man, he hadn't been human.

He slept for two days, then walked the small village he had picked by closing his eyes and putting his finger on a map of Mexico, discarded his suit and vest, found a tailor who grinned at his sporadic Spanish, but understood him anyway. Children follow him, they soon adopted this strange American who did magic tricks who didn’t shoo them away. He had let his old life slip away so easily, like shedding a skin - and yet.

It took a week for him to write the first letter, so many balled up attempts. Not an apology, not really. He didn’t feel he had anything to apologize for. She, more than anyone had understood him, he had told her from the beginning, what would happen when he found Red John. At the end, she would have stood by his side, allow him to take a life, and let him go.

He was sure of that, even now; that was why he had left her watching the sunset, he couldn’t let her become something she wasn’t. Once it was over, she would feel it, own it in a way that would change her in a way that would leave her damaged, and he owed her too much to let that happen.

One day, she would understand, maybe she already did. He spent hours each day thinking of what she would be doing at that moment, and wished he could call her and tell her of the little girl who had her eyes. So instead of telling her how he missed her, he wrote of the little girl with the braids who he made origami frogs for, and of the sand that got everywhere, and of the dog who would sit at his feet as he had his tea and eggs. Instead of telling her that he loved her, he told her about Franklin, who knew everything and everyone. He would make a decent agent, and then he laughed. No, he would hate all the rules.

Rules. So many rules in his old life, there were new rules here, at least new expectations of him, and he found it far too easy to slip into his new world. Day after day he drifted as the nightmares he expected didn’t follow him into sleep, and for a while, he wondered why it didn’t bother him, then gave up wondering.

It was done. Ten years. He wasn’t sure what he was now. He hadn’t had time to consider what he was, even before, before Angie and Charlotte were taken from him. If he had to dissect himself, consider how he had been then, he hadn’t been a good man. He had been a performer, an artist, of a sort, artists are given all sorts of leeway. But at home, Angie had known him, Charlotte had loved him, he was sure of it. He had been split in two. His family had known someone the outside world wouldn’t recognize, and now?

Now. Would Lisbon recognize the man who spent hours just walking or sitting or swimming in the gulf without a care in the world. What would she think of him? Was she thinking of him? Or had she given him up as just a part of the past, the reason her world had collapsed? It wasn’t all his fault, but he was the one who kept tugging at the thread that had eventually pulled the CBI apart. Yes, it had been rotten at its core, but there were those like Lisbon, Rigsby, Van Pelt and Cho who were caught in the mess, they had nobly done their jobs, only - hell. He needed tea.