RATING: Fairly harmless. If you can watch the series, you should be ok.
KEYWORDS: Drama, psychology, some Jisbon affection
SUMMARY: Jane is beginning to fear that he himself is Red John. So how come he doesn't know, and how can he find out for sure?
SPOILERS: Nothing specific. The story probably takes place sometime during season 5, except that it winds along its own path to some extent. Might be bordering on AU here and there.
COMMENT: Finalized in 2012. I'm behind on my updates as usual ...
FEEDBACK: Always welcome at whatever address is given for this purpose on my main page (http://hem.bredband.net/MsFanfic - in case that is not where you found this story).
Red John came down from Birmingham, very hastily
And from Borstal, he had - ran
He made it down to Torquay
Good boy, Red John!
Red Red Red John ...
The taunting song spilled down dark alleys that should not have been empty even at this hour, filling them with sound in lieu of people.
"That's Mad John", Patrick Jane said.
Footsteps nearby, someone just out of sight, a chuckle. "Takes one to know one!"
A pleasant voice, despite the rather raucous singing before. Coming from behind him now. Jane turned - and still saw no one. "Who are you?"
"Well, that's the million dollar question, isn't it?" said the voice he now seemed somehow to recognize from somewhere.
"Show yourself", Jane said, in his most professional, consultant-to-the-CBI manner.
A shadow emerged from other shadows before him. A silhouette - of a man his own height, he noted after a moment. Then the figure stepped into the light - light that hadn't been there a moment ago. Apparently, an old street lamp had suddenly decided to function.
The man was blond, build on the slight side, rather pleasant-looking, hairstyle a little over the top, but then, where else should a hairstyle be? Wearing a three-piece suit. "Nobody here but us chickens", he said.
Jane awoke in a cold sweat. It was already mid-morning, which didn't surprise him, given his erratic sleeping habits and working late last night. After deliberating only a moment, he pressed Lisbon's number on his speed dial.
"Jane? Where are you?" came her voice over the minuscule equipment. He winced momentarily - why did everybody always ask that? Did they feel that modern technology had somehow cut them off from their roots and they needed to ground themselves before they could carry on a conversation?
"In my attic", he obliged. "I - " he hesitated. This was going to sound silly at best, and at worst like a cheap con. " - had a dream. I think we need to talk."
Her sigh of frustration came across loud and clear. "You had a dream. Jane, if this is another one of your ..."
"It isn't. I'm quite serious."
That sigh again. "We're really in the middle of ... any chance this can wait?"
"You decide. I think I know who Red John may be."
"Really? And this comes from a - dream?"
The sarcasm was almost unnoticeable, but it was there. Well, he couldn't blame her.
"You don't even want to know what my dream was about?"
"Jane, I'm no psychologist."
He ignored that. "It seemed to indicate he might be me."
Pause. Then, "All right, Jane. Get your ass down here as soon as you can. But if this is another attention-seeking trick, I swear ..."
Grinning, he rang off.
"So, you're seriously telling me you're getting messages in your dreams? After working so hard to convince everybody that 'psychics' don't exist?"
Lisbon was on her feet, leaning against her desk, arms crossed over her chest. Jane was sitting on the couch, looking up at her, sipping tea from a delicate-looking porcelain cup. They were alone in her office. She had not wanted anyone else to hear this until she had formed an opinion of it first. One that could be challenged, sure, but she needed something to start from.
"You don't have to be psychic to have dreams", he pointed out, mildly, and hopefully unnecessarily.
Wish you were, he thought, then dismissed the unbidden image of who might touch whom and where.
"Well?" she prompted. "Tell me what's bothering you about this - dream."
He related the short dream in as much detail as he could remember. She listened closely, frowning. When he had finished, she said, "I still don't see why you're paying so much attention to it. After all, it's just a dream. You said you had had others before, also about Red John."
He nodded. "Lots of them, but he was always just out of reach. I - or we, since it was mostly you and I - would get to a point where he should be, and he wasn't. Elusive. Simply noone there, or else we'd catch a glimpse, but he'd - evaporate or something. That's pretty much the experience we've all been having, so I didn't think much of that. But in this one, he suddenly turns up - and he's me. Even indicating that this is somehow important." Suddenly, he realized how this must sound. "Sorry to bother you with it, but I - just couldn't let it go."
"It's all right, Jane", she said, trying not to sound patronizing. "Dreams can be upsetting. They can stick with you for a whole day. Still, they're just dreams."
He hated to say it, knowing it might sound like so much flum, and - while capitalizing on it - he'd never been partial to flum. "That's where you're wrong, Lisbon. They're not 'just dreams'. They may not carry any external messages and such crap, but they often show you something you're unaware of - something you have forgotten - or repressed."
She uncrossed her arms, her hands gripping the edge of her desk instead. Inwardly wondering why she had to be cursed with a consultant equipped with such colourful imagination, she took a deep breath before explaining the obvious to him,
"Jane, there's no way you could be Red John. For one thing, he's been active in places and at times you were not even present. For another, even if that were not the case - like I said, I'm no psychologist, but I bet there's no way in hell you could be Red John and forget about it! And for a third - Jane, you're no serial killer! Red John is. For a fourth ..." She caught his haunted gaze. Evidently, her reasoning didn't reassure him one bit. "Wait a minute ... you can't seriously be suspecting yourself of ..."
Jane set his emptied cup aside, without looking at her. "One", he said in an oddly inflectionless tone, "Noone knows what Red John looks like. His self-professed accomplices sometimes claim to have seen him, but there is no real evidence that they have, and I'm pretty sure they are lying. Inference: he doesn't really exist. Further inference: he is someone else. Two: Red John is a serial killer. Inference: the man using 'Red John' as his cover, is a serial killer. Three: Red John killed my wife and daughter. Inference: ..."
Lisbon wanted to shake him, but somehow it wasn't the right moment to cross the short distance between them. She contented herself with holding up a hand. "Stop it, Jane! Don't do this to yourself! You're not Red John, you weren't there, you couldn't have, you wouldn't have, you ..." She forced herself to calm down. "Look, you know as well as I do that the next of kin are always the prime suspects - at least until more evidence has surfaced. You must have been interrogated. And they found nothing. Trust the cops to sometimes stumble on to the actual truth!"
He smiled a little at that, but it was a sad, haunted smile. It seemed to say that the day he couldn't outwit the law and all its enforcers, would be the day that pigs would fly - after turning into blue elephants. Somehow it also said that it was sweet of her to try and convince him, and that more than anything told her how firmly he had come to believe this dream nonsense. She'd have to shake him out of it. Or he would be no good to the team, she quickly added to her mental meanderings. No other reason. Surely. Well, she hated to see him miserable of course, same as anyone else on her team ...
There seemed to be nothing more to say. Jane rose, thanking her for listening, and made for the door. Just short of opening it, he paused. "One thing about the dream ... it didn't strike me as odd at the time, but the man I met was my mirror image."
"I thought that's what you've been saying all along."
He shook his head. "Lisbon, pay attention. I mean, he looked exactly as I see myself in the mirror every morning. Well, some mornings anyway", he amended, remembering that he had fallen asleep in the attic last night and risen somewhat hastily today. Without giving hiself time to shave ... He stroked his chin, trying to determine whether his stubble had gone from designer fashionable to slept rough as yet. He caught Lisbon's smile. Not that anybody else would have, but he always knew. This time, he chose to ignore it.
"That is", he went on, "left and right reversed, and so forth. After I woke up, it dawned on me that a person in his own right, looking exactly like me, would have looked like I do in photographs for instance. Don't know if it's significant though."
"Probably not. After all, you'd be more used to seeing yourself in a mirror than in photographs, and it was your dream."
He nodded. "You're probably right."
He closed the door gently behind him, and she was left alone in her office. As usual, the room seemed strangely empty without him.
"All right, people - what have we got?" Lisbon studiously ignored the curious glances from her team, as she strode between their desks. Her private meetings with Jane always intrigued them. Rightly so, perhaps, as they would most likely once again find themselves in the thick of it, as a direct result of one of those meetings. However, this one was not important. Couldn't be. Whereas they did have work to do. "Any news on the body in Roosevelt Park?" she clarified her question, somewhat impatiently.
"Male, Caucasian, in his twenties", Cho volunteered.
Great. Another young one. "Cause of death?" she almost snapped.
"Not clear", Rigsby offered, "So far, the Coroner thinks it may have been coffee."
"Apparently so. They found 2.5 litres in his system, recently ingested by the looks of it, considering he hadn't passed any of it yet."
"And the Coroner decided this must be the cause of death?"
Rigsby shrugged. "Well, he found no other."
"Overdose or allergy then?" Lisbon mused, while thinking You can't OD on coffee. Can you? she added mentally, thinking of her own consumption.
"Maybe both", Rigsby said.
Lisbon glanced toward the bullpen, wishing she had had the foresight to grab a steaming mug herself, before this conversation came up. Now definitely did not feel like the right moment.
"Ok, maybe he was hyper-sensitive to coffee", she theorized. "And didn't know about it, which seems a little far-fetched. Unless ... was he an American citizen?"
"Not known", van Pelt said. "They haven't been able to determine his identity yet." She frowned at her computer. "I've been trying a few different angles, but so far no luck."
Strange, Lisbon thought. An identity shouldn't be that hard to find. Least of all for Grace. "Not even a stolen one?" she probed.
van Pelt shook her head. "The guy doesn't seem to exist."
Lisbon sighed. "Any signs of violence?"
"None", Cho said. "Unless the coffee was spiked."
"That's not violence", Rigsby corrected him, "That's malice aforethought."
Cho shrugged as if to say, Whatever.
"And was it?" Lisbon had to ask. "Spiked, I mean?"
Cho gave her the expected answer. "Not analysed yet."
Temporarily at a loss, she turned to Jane's sofa, but it was empty. Her phone rang. "Jane, where ..." she began, but it wasn't him. She listened for a while, then, "Of course. No, no, absolutely. I see your point." "This time", she added, after ringing off.
"That was Gabe Mancini", she answered the expectant looks from her team. "The FBI has just claimed this case."
"Good riddance", van Pelt muttered, not quite softly enough. But an apologetic glance at her boss almost convinced her that Lisbon was suppressing a smile.
The rain was crashing down on all roofs in the area, rushing down gutters, soaking any poor soul still out in the night without an umbrella; highlighting cars, drenching rats - and thrumming insistently on the windows of Jane's lonely mansard.
Jane was dreaming again. Most of his dreams had a touch of red in them, but this one seemed ordinary enough. Mainly stuff from his day on the team, things needing to be processed during the night. In it, he seemed to be married to Lisbon, for some reason. He didn't question it, like one rarely questions dreams while one is inside them. Cho and van Pelt were chasing a suspect, but Grace got entangled in her hair and suddenly couldn't move from the spot. Jane tried to help her, but her hair grew into a red Sargasso sea, and he had to swim to shore. Once there, he tried to sort out the situation, but only managed to make things worse. Cho had to go it alone, and Jane knew that it was his fault. He called for backup, and Rigsby appeared - dressed in a clown's outfit. No, wait - not strictly a clown; a fool, a court jester. His cap had bells on it, and he had on a bi-coloured hose and bright, medieval clothing, codpiece and all. He seemed rather too tall for the part, but Jane had no objection. A clown was only a clown, but the court jester traditionally had to be quite clever in order to survive, or at least to earn his income. Even functioning as a secret advisor, when the councillors - or other counsellors - were not up to par.
I'll remember that, Jane thought, in the dream. Rigsby is smarter than he's given credit for. Maybe smarter than he knows ...
He turned, and found himself standing in front of his house. The rather overblown structure he had shared with the two most important people in his life, and which he had kept after their murder, telling himself he lacked the strength to get rid of it. It looked as it had on the day - well maintained, garden professionally managed, not neglected as later on.
Unable to stop himself, he pushed open the door which was already ajar. Stepping inside, he saw the terrible, blood-weeping smiley face. He looked around, but he saw no bodies. No mattresses. No furniture. In fact, nothing at all, except the drawing on the wall.
Then everything exploded. A white-hot, deafening sound, then just the crackle of flames. Flames everywhere, consuming all of his life here, the entire house, including the hated image on the wall.
Somehow, he was already outside, watching his old home burn. The home where he had spent his happiest time. Had he known that then?
A hand dropped heavily on to his shoulder, startling him. Next to him was a silver-haired man with blue eyes, rough features and a charming smile. About Jane's height or insignificantly shorter. Wearing a three-piece suit ... For a while, he said nothing, just watched the fire along with Jane, his large hand still companionably on Jane's shoulder. Then he turned his head, smiling benignly.
"He wakes up last, whose house is on fire", he said.
Jane awoke, more puzzled than freaked, this time. The man in his dream had had a sort of studied trustworthiness about him. As if it were his business to be trustworthy. Like a priest, or some other professional conman. Like Jane himself ... But this was not Jane. Because Jane knew well who the man was. Bret Stiles, the charismatic leader of the Visualize group. For a moment, Jane's sleepy mind wandered off, pondering people's propensity for turning just about anything into a cult or religious practice, like visualizing, reading crystals, dunking each other in cold water, speaking gibberish, doing the cockatoo, hanging their laundry ... he shook his head, forcing himself to focus.
Bret Stiles had claimed great - if not complete - knowledge of anything to do with Red John, above all his thoughts, plans and motives. For a while, it had seemed likely that Red John was or had been a member of Stiles' flock. The theory had not panned out, and Jane had only half believed Stiles anyway. But now, apparently his own sleeping mind had reminded him. Why? Did Stiles know something vital after all? Certainly it couldn't hurt to seek the man out and ask him.
"An abandoned car on 22nd? That's all we have?" Lisbon frowned. "Sounds more like a case for the cops on the beat there. Who called it in?"
"Sac PD", van Pelt said. "They can't find the owner, so they thought maybe we could." She looked up, shaking her head in answer to Lisbon's unspoken question.
"Ok, so what have we got? Make of car, colour ..."
"A black 1986 Taurus, apparently", van Pelt informed her. "Probably an old rental car, though we have yet to find a rental agency where they remember it. Or any later owners, assuming it was sold."
"Any luck tracing that?"
van Pelt shook her head. "It's listed as unassigned."
Lisbon could feel a headache coming on. "Circumstances?"
Cho looked up from his desk. "Abandoned in neutral, still running. Half-eaten burger on top of the dashboard, half-consumed coke in its holder."
van Pelt made a face, imagining the sloppy interior of the car.
"So someone was having a quick meal", Lisbon mused. "In too much of a hurry to shut off the engine - and yet they left? Anything else?"
"Both front seat belts were fastened", Cho said.
"What? Why would anyone in that much of a rush take the time to fasten the seat belts after they left the car? More importantly, why do it at all?"
"And does this mean that both front seats were originally occupied?" Rigsby wondered. Catching their questioning looks, he shrugged helplessly. "I don't know how that would fit in with the locked belts, but - do we know how many were in the car to begin with?"
"Just one meal", Cho said. "Leftovers on the driver's side."
Rigsby returned his glance. "Maybe the passenger wasn't hungry."
"Or was allergic to coke", van Pelt ventured, whimsically. "Sorry, boss, just thinking of that other case down Southside. The one we lost to the FBI. Maybe there's a connection?"
Lisbon surreptitiously rubbed her left temple. "I'll call Mancini."
"One other thing", Rigsby said. "The clock in the car was nine minutes behind. Don't know if that's significant."
Lisbon's phone rang. After a brief exchange - mostly one-syllabic on her own side - she hung up. "Some guy from DC, would you believe it?" she said. "The FBI are claiming this one too."
The sun was bright on a slightly crisp morning, a touch of wind, not too strong as yet, and only the first hint of autumn colours coming out on such trees as were susceptible to the phenomenon. In short, a perfect day to be spent in a lovely park, but the man on the bench was not feeding the pigeons. Nevertheless, he seemed to be enjoying himself while doing nothing in particular, just observing his surroundings, a benign smile playing around his lips. A young mother on baby leave impulsively greeted him as she passed with her pram, then wondered why on earth she had. But there was simply something so charming about the elderly man, his quiet contentment, his silver hair, his ice-blue eyes that seemed both penetrating and friendly. Besides, he had returned her greeting, completely unsurprised. Maybe she actually did know him from somewhere. Or he her.
The woman went on her way, and the path was empty again. Jane spotted the silver hair already at some distance from the bench where they had agreed to meet. So, Stiles was already waiting. It came as a mild surprise - he hadn't really expected the older man to show. Approaching, Jane read him more or less out of habit. Not wearing a three-piece suit, he noted. And why should he? Except in my dreams ... Pale blue eyes, a good-natured gleam in them, as he saw Jane. Smug smile as usual, giving nothing away ...
"What do we have in common, you and I?" Jane asked. If he had hoped to gain an advantage by an unusual opening, he would have been disappointed, but he had no such hope.
Stiles smiled. "An interesting question", he countered. "But please sit. Carrying on philosophical discussions standing up is bad for the stomach, I'm told."
Jane sat. He placed himself a little too close to Stiles on the bench, hoping to make a dent in the man's personal sphere, though he knew it was a long shot.
Stiles did not seem bothered at all. "Pleasant morning", he observed, looking around him. "But, I assume you didn't call me to discuss the weather. What can I do for you, Patrick?"
"Well, you can stay out of my dreams for starters." Even as he said it, Jane knew he was being childish. There was no flummoxing Bret Stiles.
Stiles raised an amused eyebrow, just as Jane had known he would. "Succinct and to the point", he said. "I'd be happy to oblige, but I'm afraid I have no control over other people's dreams."
"You don't?" Jane shot back. "You surprise me. I should have thought you were in the business."
Stiles actually chuckled, more or less acknowledging the point. "Why don't you tell me about these dreams of yours, Patrick?" he suggested. "I assume that is what you came here to do anyway."
The man was right of course. Jane gave in. Stiles had not appeared in the first of his recent Red John dreams, but the first one seemed somehow connected to the second one, so Jane decided to tell Stiles about both. Stiles listened attentively, without interruptions. Then he said, "So you think that because I appeared in your second dream, I might be able to tell you something? I suppose it hasn't escaped you that in the dream, I was dressed like you?"
"No, but I took that as a reminder of my first dream", Jane said. "You're clearly not me, so I don't think that part is really significant, not in the second dream. It might have been there to hint at a connection between the two dreams, but that is probably all."
"You're right, I'm not you", Stiles mused. Then, suddenly, "But you think Red John might be?"
Confound the man. Jane hadn't voiced his conclusion in so many words, but of course, it was rather an obvious one. Why else would he come running to tell his dreams to Stiles, of all people?
"Well, is he?" For once, Jane couldn't quite keep the tension out of his voice. While reminding himself that whatever Stiles' answer, it didn't mean he would have to believe him.
Stiles nodded, and for a horrible moment, Jane was sure he was going to say yes. But he didn't. "You understand I can't tell you anything", he said, matter-of-factly. "Not under the present circumstances."
Jane nodded. "But you know."
"Who Red John is, for instance."
Stiles nodded sagely. "That I do know. And so do you, Patrick, if only you give it a little thought."
"You said before that you didn't know."
"A man is entitled to change his opinion, as further information comes in."
"And has it? Has further information come in?"
Again that smile. "Perhaps I remembered something." He didn't quite stress remembered, and yet Jane had a distinct impression that it was a probe.
"Who is Red John?"
[You are number six. (Sorry, couldn't resist - I'll remember to take that out.)]
"You know I can't tell you that."
"Under the present circumstances", Jane quoted. "Under what circumstances can you tell me?"
Stiles eyed him for a moment, his ice-blue eyes oddly friendly. A look of - approval? Then he seemed to make up his mind about something. "If you start to remember", he said. "I'm sorry, Patrick, but that has to come first. And then - maybe I won't even have to tell you."
"You're saying you survived a landslide in Natomas Heights?"
Lisbon stared at the young woman in front of her. Despite obvious nervousness, her visitor stood her ground.
"Sole survivor, they say."
"Police, firemen, papers, National Guard - everybody."
Lisbon rubbed her forehead, tiredly. "Ms -" she glanced at her notes "Caldwell, there hasn't been a landslide in Natomas Heights", she explained patiently. "Nor have there been any police reports, fire alarms, media coverage - Because There Hasn't Been A Landslide. Do you understand me?"
The girl looked like an attention-seeker. Slightly overweight, mouse-coloured hair, no confidence to speak of. Except that now she drew herself up, standing straighter than she had since she came in, as she said, "I do, Agent Lisbon. I read you loud and clear. But Do You Understand Me?"
The third dream left Jane cold and shaking. It was a good while before he could bring himself to move, let alone punch Lisbon's number. For once, she wasn't working late. He reached her at home, and in bed.
He must have sounded as panicked as he was, for she came right over, despite the hour. She came fast, the streets reasonably empty in the small hours of the morning. But even so, he knew she had stepped on it.
He made a vague attempt to apologize for dragging her out of bed, not allowing her the sleep he knew she needed, and badly. But she dismissed it, pulling up a chair, sitting down in front of him.
"Just tell me about it."
Belatedly, he realized that he was in his pyjamas. He had never meant for anyone to find out that he actually kept night clothes in the attic, that he slept there by design, not just because he fell asleep thinking or something. And now she had seen him in them, confound it. Nobody - but NObody - could stick to any form of dignity in pyjamas ...
When he didn't answer right away, she couldn't resist a small dig; "You look kind of cute in stripes."
He groaned inwardly, but he was determined not to let it show. "Normally, I sleep in the nude, like any sane person. But, it's kind of chilly up here. You should talk to the janitor about the heating."
The image of him sleeping in the nude was the last thing she needed right now. She licked her lips, then realized that that was about the worst thing she could have done, in front of a person with his kind of perception, and after a statement like that. She knew she was blushing - not much to do about that. Her only hope was that she had stopped at a shade short of purple.
Then she realized something else. Their banter had calmed him. Visibly. Where no words of reassuring would have had any effect, their usual light teasing had. She repeated her instruction, this time with increased confidence:
"Jane, just tell me about it. What did you dream?"
He shuddered, then launched into it. "I was back at the house. Where - you know where. I was kneeling by Angela's body, and there was a knife in my hand, but I had a feeling that someone might have placed it there. Charlotte's body was lying quite near, not like it was found, and for some reason I looked over to her - and she was awake! Daddy? she said, and her voice sounded kind of dreamy or confused, as if she didn't quite know where she was."
"Jane ..." Lisbon mumbled, torn between an impulse to ask him not to do this to himself, and her need to know what was going on in his mind.
He shook his head, cutting her off. "That part's ok. It's what she did then."
Lisbon swallowed. "What?"
"She sat up, all of the marks of murder still on her, and she was no longer - well, her body was still that of a child, but her manner wasn't. And she looked at me with eyes that could have belonged to a goddess of vengeance or something, pointed her finger at me, and said, Remember! Just that. Just Remember! She didn't even repeat it, like I did now. Only that once, and then she lay back down, crossing her hands over her chest in a position she was not in when they found her."
Lisbon rose from her chair and walked over to sit beside him. Without a word, she put her arm around him, pulling him closer, and he let her. They sat like that for a while, she with her arm around him, he with his head on her shoulder. It wasn't the most comfortable position for either of them, but there were needs more urgent than a craving for physical comfort.
"So, what do you think it is you need to remember?" Lisbon quietly asked after a while.
"I wish I knew", he said. "Wish I had the slightest inkling." He sat up, breaking the spell - or at least the illusion of vulnerability. "But somehow I suspect Bret Stiles would know. If I could only talk with him again."
Lisbon tried not to let her concern show, even if she knew she couldn't hide anything from Jane. "Are you sure that's wise?"
He looked at her, the anguish in his eyes unmistakable. "What other option do I have? So far, he's my only lead."
Lisbon touched him lightly on the shoulder. "I'm just wondering if we aren't playing into his hands somehow. He isn't the most reliable person around. Jane, please be careful."
The anguish went, replaced by a smile. Like the sun unexpectedly breaking through heavy clouds. "I always am", he assured her.
Lisbon grabbed a mug of coffee in the bullpen, then tried to sneak into her office, hoping nobody would talk to her.
No such luck. Rigsby looked up from his files - most of them having to do with their current cases, but apparently not all ...
"Boss? This might not be significant, but did you know that Red John was cleared of at least five of his early crimes?"
That got her attention. "What?"
Rigsby looked down at his files. "It says here that murders 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 were eventually attributed to other perps - different ones, actually. I mean, different from each other - after it was found that Red John couldn't have been responsible for all of them. In fact, they don't seem to have been serial killings at all."
"And we only hear of this now?" Lisbon flared. "What took them?"
"Well, while the files were making the rounds here at the CBI", Rigsby said, "Sac PD stumbled on to one of the perps and started to unwind the whole mess. Only, they didn't know what they had. For the longest time, they thought that Red John had still orchestrated the murders, and he was our baby ..." He caught himself, suddenly aware of his inappropriate wording. Somewhat impatiently, Lisbon motioned for him to continue. "It was only last week that they found out he couldn't have had a finger in those five." Rigsby looked up. "It begs the question - are there more crimes attributed to him that he was never involved in?"
It also begs the question - which ones did he actually commit or have someone else commit? Lisbon mused. And, if even fewer: does he really exist? But all she said aloud was, "Good work, Rigsby." Technically, he had only related someone else's good work, but it came automatically. She hoped he wouldn't notice just how automatically. "When was the last murder that's still attributed to Red John?" she asked.
"That would be the double murder of Angela and Charlotte Jane", Rigsby said.
"What? What of the one that took place right here at the CBI? Wiping out the whole investigation team?"
Cho looked up from his desk. "Circumstantial", he said. "Proxy killing. Proxy's dead. Can't finger him."
Rigsby shrugged. "Mainly a question of who else?"
Lisbon was feeling another headache coming on and wondered if she had slept too little again, or if she had had so much coffee it was beginning to reverse its effect on her, causing headaches rather than preventing them.
"So you're saying that no provable murder of Red John's has occurred since he killed Jane's family?" Or since Jane began working with us, she added in her mind.
Cho nodded. "That pretty much sums it up."
"Jane! Long time no see ..." Lisbon's sarcasm was lost on her wayward consultant. Who would come bounding in with some new scheme or other after keeping to himself for so long he had had all of them worried - well, hard to tell about Cho, but she could have sworn he was worried too, for all his stoic claims that he trusted Jane to know what he was doing.
Well, to give him his due, Jane wasn't exactly bounding. But he did look like a man with an idea. As if that wasn't worrisome enough, when it was him ...
"Lisbon, we need to talk."
She was beginning to hate it when he said that. It made the rest of the team behave like people do when they are all ears and try to seem too busy to take any interest whatsoever. She sighed. "All right, Jane. In my office." Not that that would do anything to stop the others speculating, but at least she'd be less aware of them doing it.
"So, what is it this time?" she asked as she closed the door behind them.
He looked eager and apprehensive at the same time. "I think I'm on to something." Well, that much was pretty obvious. It wasn't like him to be redundant. Sure enough, she didn't have to wait long.
"My first dream. The one I met was my exact mirror image, remember? As I would see myself if I were staring into a mirror. Now, when would I be staring into a mirror for any length of time?"
"You really want me to answer that?" she quipped. Not fair; he might be conceited in other ways, but she hadn't really noticed him paying more than adequate attention to his looks. It wasn't as if his career rested on his appearance these days. "Sorry", she amended. "Let's see ... in the mornings, unless you were in a hurry ..."
"And hardly awake", he said. "The dream image was clear, no confusion about it. Also, in the dream I was fully dressed. At some point I must have been staring into a mirror for some time, deliberately, and if the image appeared in the dream, we may conclude it has some significance."
She wrinkled her brow, trying to think of a plausible situation, but it was still early in the morning, and she hadn't had nearly enough coffee yet. "All right, Jane, I give up. What did you come up with?"
"I think I must have hypnotized myself."
"What??" Now she really needed that coffee. She held up a hand. "Wait. Don't say another word until ..."
"... you've had your coffee", he grinned. "Ok. I could do with a cup of tea, myself ..."
A little later, they were back in her office, each of them holding a steaming cup. "You hypnotized yourself. Why?"
He shrugged. "To forget, would be my guess."
She frowned a little, thinking. "But you didn't forget. You always remembered - what happened. It drove you insane, but you didn't forget."
"Maybe it didn't take completely. Or maybe that wasn't what I needed to forget. Maybe it was something else - like who Red John really is."
Lisbon gave him a sceptical look. "If so, why not go the whole hog and wipe the entire business?"
"Too well known. Others would have reminded me of what he had done. But Red John's identity was a secret. I'd be able to forget that. And with it, I'd also forget that I was to blame -"
His voice broke a little, and on impulse, she moved over and sat beside him on the couch, putting her hand over his.
"You still think you might be Red John?"
The look he gave her was decidedly haunted. "Why else would I program myself to forget who he is?"
"There may be other reasons", Lisbon tried to reassure him. "Reasons that you have also forgotten about." She hesitated. Then, "Jane, do you actually believe you killed your own family? And that you could have hypnotized yourself to forget about it?"
No answer for a while. Then, "No, I guess I don't. But - I don't know. And I was a very different person back then. I - it is as if I don't know who I am any more."
Lisbon nodded. Not that she could even begin to imagine what he was going through, but she could at least follow his reasoning. "Any chance you can undo the hypnotism? Remember what actually happened?"
Images through his mind's eye. Bret Stiles saying "I can't tell you until you remember more"; the dream image of his daughter as a goddess pointing her finger: Remember. He shuddered. "I have to try. I may have used some kind of trigger that could unlock those memories in case of an emergency - unless I really wanted to throw away the key - but I don't know what it is. So my only option seems to be to re-hypnotize myself and tell myself to remember. But, Lisbon - I'd like you to be there. In case - something goes wrong."
She could have pointed out again that she was hardly a professional shrink. But she knew why he had asked her and nobody else. She could also have pointed out that he might even be putting her in danger. But she had her cop training and her gun.
So she agreed.
"My place or yours?" he asked with a cheeky smile.
She groaned inwardly. Give that man a finger ... and right now, she was coming close. To giving him the finger ...
He caught her scowl of course. "It's just that my motel has paper walls", he added quickly. "Well, not literally - it's not Japanese style or anything - but you can hear everything the neighbours are up to, and I do mean everything. A cacaphony of widely different TV shows airing at the same time; creaking beds; flushing toilets ..."
"I get it", she said, somewhat tersely.
"Of course, here in your office ... but anyone might walk in, and we'd have to find a good mirror somewhere ... The attic ... same problem with the mirror though ..."
"Fine." She wasn't quite gritting her teeth, but she did have a case to get back to, and she was definitely losing patience. "My place it is."
"Thank you, Lisbon!" His smile was absolutely radiant.
She growled something under her breath as she waved him away.
He was right, of course. Wasn't he usually? Her condo was quieter, hardly any noise from the neighbours, unless somebody was just in the middle of renovating, which they hadn't been for weeks now.
In an almost belated effort to be a hostess, she asked him if he wanted a cup of tea before he started, but he shook his head. "Thanks, Lisbon, but I'd like to get this over with. Later, maybe."
Great. So now she was stuck with him afterwards as well? Unless she conveniently - and too obviously - forgot to repeat her offer.
"All right", she shrugged. "There's the mirror." She pointed to a full-length affair, hanging by the clothes rack, just a few steps in from the door.
"Sorry", he said. "That won't do."
"I won't be able to concentrate, standing just inside your front door."
"Nobody is likely to come visit at this hour. Besides, I made sure the door is locked."
"If someone comes, they'll ring the chime, won't they?"
"You can't tell yourself to tune that out?"
"I could, but then you might have to hide me in the closet while opening the door, or they might wonder what was going on."
She rolled her eyes. "Oh well then - where do you want to do this?"
"Is there anywhere we can move this mirror to?"
"It's stuck to the wall", she informed him. "That's a supporting wall."
"You could have used concrete hooks", he pointed out.
"The janitor helped me. He said this solution was better."
"Very well", Jane gave in. "Is there another full-length mirror in the house?"
She hesitated. "Does it have to be full length?"
"Or as near as you can manage. I want to approximate my reflection as closely as possible to the figure in my dream."
"That why you still have your jacket on? Okay, there is a largish one in my bedroom. It isn't full length, but it comes close - three quarter length or thereabouts."
Sitting on her bed, she watched him prepare himself. Oddly, he looked almost as if he belonged there, in front of her rather over-decorated mirror. Maybe it was the three-piece suit. It always gave him a somewhat old-fashioned appearance, which in this case matched the mirror. With its gilt deckle-edge, it was hardly her style, but a good friend had found it for her - at a flea-market, she strongly suspected - and she hadn't had the heart to refuse the gift.
There was a mirror on the dresser as well - an adjustable one at that - but apparently he needed to be standing, probably because the dream image had been.
He looked steadily into the mirror, taking a few deep breaths. Then, unexpectedly, he turned to her.
"Lisbon? I need your help with something."
"Okay - what?"
"I need a trigger to bring me out again. Self-hypnosis is a bit awkward that way - it is possible to trigger oneself, but a safer or at least more reliable method is to have someone else do it. Would you oblige?" he concluded in a lighter tone than he had begun.
"Just tell me what to do."
"Give me a word - anything at all."
"Very well - magnolia."
His eyebrows climbed in amusement. "Really? Magnolia??"
She frowned, not quite irritably. "What's wrong with magnolia?"
"Nothing. Magnolia it is. I need you to speak that word when you feel it's time to bring me out, either because I appear to have found out as much as I'm likely to, or because you think something is going wrong."
"How can I tell?"
"If I appear troubled in some way, or you feel that I have been under for too long. Let's say 55 minutes is the limit. Should be under an hour, I think."
She nodded. "I think I can do that."
"Oh - and Lisbon? I also need you to speak the trigger during my instructions to myself, so my unconscious mind will recognize the combination of the word and your voice. Just say magnolia when I gesture to you."
For a moment she was wondering if the whole thing was a con of some sort, as it was beginning to smack a little too much of the carneval for her taste, but she quickly realized that she would never find out, if she didn't go along with it. And for some inexplicable reason, very deep down, she trusted Jane. He wouldn't put one over on her. At least not without good reason, she amended to herself.
He was telling himself to relax now, to feel calm and secure, etc. etc. and to wake up feeling rested - "When you hear Lisbon say -" she caught the slight wave of his fingers.
"Magnolia", she said, distinctly and obediently.
Another day at CBI HQ. Looking quite uneventful, till Lisbon's phone rang. Bertram. "Agent Lisbon, I have a young woman in my office who claims you dismissed her complaint yesterday."
Lisbon searched her memory but came up with nothing. "I'm sorry sir, I don't recall ..."
"A Ms Caldwell?" Bertram said, pointedly, as if he found his agent's memory lapse unacceptable. Which, normally, it would have been.
"That was months ago", Lisbon stated flatly. "Not yesterday. If she had a complaint, why didn't she come back sooner?"
"She claims she did. Or at least that she spoke with you yesterday."
"If she was here yesterday, she must have talked to someone else. I haven't seen her since she was here the first time."
She could hear Bertram sigh, but apparently he let it go for now. "But you did dismiss her that time?" he asked.
"On good grounds I hope, sir", Lisbon said. "She claimed to be the sole survivor of a landslide in Natomas Heights. Only, there hadn't been a landslide in Natomas Heights. Still hasn't, as far as I know. I must confess though that I wasn't aware she had a complaint. Still, any complaint she could have in connection with a landslide - had one occurred - would surely be a matter for her insurance company. Why bring it to the CBI?"
"She claims her father is missing since the landslide. She says she is reportedly the only survivor, but she hopes the reports are wrong."
"Sir, the girl is deranged."
"A distinct possibility", Bertram acknowledged, "but we have to look into the matter. This is Mary C. Caldwell, only daughter of Emerson Fremont Caldwell III. And so far, we've been unable to raise him."
The park was nearly always pleasant at this hour of the morning. The day was overcast, but the weather was still warm. Over the heads of the two men on the bench, birds were singing in ancient trees. Willows were dragging their long branches in the stream.
"I hypnotized myself last night", Jane said. "Trying to remember."
"I'm glad you followed my advice", Stiles said in his friendliest tone. "And how did that work out for you?"
"You already know", Jane said, having picked up on Stiles' vaguely derisive wording. "It fell through."
"Indeed?" Stiles said as if he really hadn't known. "And why do you think that is, Patrick?"
"Maybe I was hoping you could tell me."
"Hmm ... having no real experience of hypnotism ... I assume you were in front of a mirror?"
Jane nodded. "Yes, that's what clued me in in the first place. When I met myself in the dream, he - I - was a mirror image, not just a replica. I figured, what if that was significant? So I came up with the self-hypnotism theory, but it looks like I was wrong. Or else those memories are buried really deep."
"What exactly did you tell yourself?" Stiles asked, intrigued. "In order to remember, I mean?"
"To recall all details of the Red John cases, starting the day before Ang- my family was murdered. You think the wording was wrong somehow?"
Stiles shrugged, almost apologetically. "As I said, I have no experience ..."
Jane sighed. The man was being coy, but for what reason? "What are you not telling me?"
Stiles looked at him mildly. "Lots of things. I know everything there is to know about Red John. I told you."
"That I do remember", Jane acknowledged. "So why can't you tell me if I'm he?"
Stiles did not answer that. "In your second dream", he said instead, "What did I say to you? You said it sounded like some sort of proverb."
Jane cast his mind back to his second dream. As he had once told Lisbon, his memory was like a fortress, and he liked to think of it as infallible. However, dreams were notoriously elusive. Then he had it:
"He whose house is on fire, is the last to wake up" Jane quoted.
Stiles nodded again, smiling a little this time. "That sounds about right", he said cryptically. He stood up from the bench, unobtrusively stretching his back muscles a bit. "I'm sorry, Patrick, but you need to give me something more to go on. You need to remember more - perhaps dream more - if I am to tell you what I know. Until then." He made a slight bow, then wandered off down the path which had, inexplicably, been empty of both joggers and ladies with prams while they had been talking.
Lisbon knew she shouldn't have stalled. She should have told Jane right away. Now, she'd probably only made things worse, and he would find it hard to trust her again. But, she just had to go through the reports herself first, and between receiving the news from Cho and Rigsby, Jane's attempt at self-hypnosis, and what she had come to think of as the Crazy Caldwell Case, she simply hadn't had the time.
It wasn't that she doubted Cho or Rigsby; she knew how thorough they were - especially Cho - and she was pretty sure they hadn't missed anything. But she would feel better having seen for herself that there really was ... no way out.
She spent the next two hours going through all of the new material. Then she picked up her phone. "Jane? Where are you?" Somewhere outdoors obviously, going by the background noise, but some place with amazingly little traffic. A park? Suddenly she realized that she didn't really care. "Never mind. There is something I think you should know. Any place we can talk?"
Having Lisbon beside him on the bench was a great improvement on having Bret Stiles there, Jane thought. He only wished she had taken him up on his offer of ice-cream - he hadn't had any lunch yet. "You sounded serious on the phone", he prompted, since she was obviously reluctant to start telling him whatever it was she had summoned him for. Which couldn't be good ...
"I was. I am." She sighed, mentally telling herself to get a grip and get on with it. "Jane, Red John can't have been involved in all of the murders ascribed to him. And after your family - well, there hasn't been any real evidence that he was behind anything at all."
She could see a muscle tense under his cheek bone. Then he asked, "An entire investigation team on CBI premises?" His tone was as mild as a summer's breeze. As if she could have overlooked something like that.
"Circumstantial", she replied, as curtly as Cho had.
"Kristina?" he probed, his voice a smidgen tighter.
Lisbon shook her head. "They don't even know how to classify that. And the fact remains - nobody has actually been able to pin anything on Red John for a long time. Notes, messages taunting you - all circumstantial. And - you must know how much I hate to say this, Jane, but in most cases where he was considered guilty, that decision was based on your conclusions at the crime scenes."
He sat very still. "Where is this all coming from?"
"New findings, by Sac PD mostly, and a few other PD's. Took them a while to realize where it was all pointing."
Jane nodded. "To me."
She glanced at him, wishing she didn't have to put him through this. "Unfortunate wording", she said. "I just meant, they didn't realize at first that their findings might have a bearing on the Red John cases. They were following up other leads, other culprits, and then somebody realized they had other people booked for Red John murders. They made the connection and called us. I've got all the material at the CBI. I've been going through it, and I can't find any holes. I'm sorry", she added, not sure if the sentiment was a good idea or not.
"So now you also think I'm Red John."
"Jane, I ..." She broke off, knowing he would see through any attempt at reassuring him. "I don't know what to believe. But my gut feeling says it can't be you, if that's any help."
"You didn't know me back then", he said, bitterly.
"Back when? What time are we talking about?"
He turned to look at her, actually shifting his position on the bench to do so, leaning an elbow on the back rest, fingers lightly interlaced. Inexplicably, he suddenly looked hopeful. "You're right, Lisbon! We might have missed something! I have to try the re-hypnotism again! Tonight! Will you help me?"
Thursday night really wasn't convenient for Lisbon, and she was far from sure that Jane ought to try again so soon, but there was no dissuading him, for all that he knew about her poker nights. Somehow he seemed to feel that time was of the essence, though she could not think why, after so long. Still, she could understand his agony. He wanted to put all these doubts behind him, if at all possible.
So, once more he was in front of her bedroom mirror, preparing himself.
"Same trigger?" she asked, and he nodded.
"It worked fine last time - no reason to change it."
She spoke it on his cue as before, then relaxed, sitting on her bed, leaning slightly back, her hands clasped around her right knee which was drawn up a little. She listened to him instruct himself, his voice more monotonous than usual. Soothing. She noted that he told himself to go further back in time now, all the way back to the first Red John cases.
After half an hour, he began to show definite signs of distress, and Lisbon decided to break the hypnosis.
"Magnolia" she said, not loudly but very clearly.
Jane came to, blinking as he gradually got his bearings. "Thanks Lisbon, I was getting a headache."
"Any results - other than that?" she wondered.
He shook his head hesitantly. "Not really - I think. No new memories, but I had a feeling I was on the right track, going further back. Whatever it is I have repressed, it started much earlier than I thought at first."
"You know, it might help if you told yourself to speak your memories out loud", she said. "If I heard them as you got them, you'd at least have someone to give you a second opinion."
He nodded, as if absently. Then he decided to tell her. "I've already thought of that. And I dismissed the idea." Before she could object, he added, "I didn't really want you to hear me remembering I really am Red John ... if it comes to that."
She met his gaze in the mirror and held it. "Jane, whatever I get to hear, even if you are Red John - which I consider highly unlikely - you're also still you."
"Unless I happen to trigger something else, beside memories." In the mirror, his eyes were haunted.
"What, you think you've booby-trapped your own mind now? Is that even possible?"
"Shouldn't be", he admitted. "But that might depend on how deranged the hypnotizer was."
Lisbon shook her head, "Look, I'm not the expert here, but anything too fancy or complicated to work, shouldn't even take, right? I mean, they say you can't hypnotize a person to kill someone against their own will. If you try, it just won't take. The person isn't hypnotized. I think I've even seen that demonstrated at some point."
"Big risk to take", Jane smiled wrily. "As it has to be against their unconscious will also." He considered for a moment. "But, you may be right", he said then. "Maybe I'm getting paranoid here. And after all - you're armed, aren't you?"
He closed his eyes for a moment, rolled his shoulders a little. "I think the headache has lifted. Maybe that's programmed in too. In case I begin to pry ..."
She was about to remind him of his earlier reference to paranoia, when something occurred to her. "Wait a minute - what did you use for a trigger back then?"
"If I knew that, I wouldn't have to re-hypnotize myself."
"I know. Sorry. I mean, what if you could guess what it was? I know you're good at guessing people's passwords."
"I like to think I'm a little more devious than most people."
She actually smiled at that. "Well then, use that. There has to be a clue somewhere. What of your dreams?"
He had remained staring into the mirror as if for clues, but now he finally turned around. "You're right ..." he said slowly. He broke into a grin. "Thank you, Lisbon!" Turning back to the mirror, he looked his image straight in the eyes, saying very distinctly, "He whose house is on fire, is the last to wake up".
He waited for several minutes, expectantly. Then he shook his head and went over to sit on the bed, beside Lisbon. "No go", he said. "And I was so sure ..."
"You said something about a proverb in one of your dreams", she remembered. "Was that it?"
"Yes. Now that you mentioned a trigger, I thought of it because Stiles asked about it."
"He did? You told him about your dreams?"
Jane shrugged. "Felt I had to, to get anywhere. He was in them - or in one of them at least. And yes, he asked what he had said to me, in the dream. It just occurred to me now that he might have meant to drop me a hint. But I guess not."
"You're sure nothing happened?"
"I don't remember anything I didn't remember before. But, well, somehow I feel even more strongly than before that I'm on the right track ... Maybe I should talk to Stiles again."
Lisbon tried not to let her concern show. "Just be careful, Jane. Don't let him ..."
"Con me into anything?" Jane filled in with a smile. "Takes one to know one ..." He broke off. That saying had also been part of his dreams. Of the very first one. But no, too simple. Too easily spoken at the wrong moment. It couldn't be the one. Besides, he didn't remember any more for saying it now.
Stiles had asked to forego the park this time. "Just a whim", he had blandly told Jane over the phone. "We seem to meet quite often these days ... wouldn't it be nice to have a change of scenery? How does Chavez Plaza sound to you?"
He sounded as composed as ever, except maybe for that little barb about meeting often, but Jane knew there had to be more to it. His suspicions were confirmed when he found Stiles sitting - calmly waiting, to be sure - on the bench closest to the fountain in the whole, wide plaza. The only one close enough to actually risk getting wet, if the wind was unfavourable. Running water was a time-honoured cover for secret conversations. Practised by the Turkish sultans among others, Jane knew. The man was afraid someone might be listening in. Interesting, but Jane decided not to call him on it. Not just yet anyway.
He did make a show of trying to find a dry spot on the bench though, and looked up just in time to catch Stiles' half-smile. So he had been right; the bench was chosen on purpose. Not that he really needed the confirmation.
"So, Patrick", Stiles said, for all the world his usual, affable self. "What brings you to me this time? Had another dream?"
"No, this is about the same one, I'm afraid". Jane said. "That proverb you asked me about ... it's a trigger, isn't it? A key to unlock my memory?"
Stiles did not answer, but there was a definite spark in his pale blue eyes. For some reason, he seemed genuinely pleased that Jane would have caught on.
"I tried it last night - and it failed", Jane said, not entirely unhappy about wiping that smug expression off the other's face. "So what did I do wrong?"
"Let me tell you a story", Stiles said. "Once there was - and once there was not - a fisherman. He lived with his wife and daughter in a small, red cabin right by the sea. One day he caught a big fish, and when they cut it open, they found that it had swallowed a precious jewel."
Stiles paused for a moment, as if expecting Jane to interrupt, but Jane just sat, listening attentively for clues.
"The fisherman put the jewel in his safest storage shed", Stiles went on, "which was one that could be locked, and this he did. But being a little paranoid about owning such a treasure, he also wired the shed so that if anyone were to break in, the jewel would be destroyed. Then he said he was going into town to find a buyer for the jewel, but he wanted to be careful and not carry the key on him, so he gave it to his wife and asked her to put it somewhere safe. Then he went to town. While he was away, his daughter got into his boat, thinking she might do some fishing while her father was away, but she was only a child and couldn't handle oars or sail. When her mother saw the boat adrift with the girl in it, she jumped into the sea and started swimming, hoping to rescue her daughter and retrieve the boat. But alas, the current was too strong, and she drowned. So did the daughter by the way, as the boat capsized. Meanwhile, the fisherman had found a reliable buyer for the jewel and returned with him to the cabin, only to find that he had lost all. And as he did not know where his wife had hidden the key, he could not even open the shed."
Jane clenched his teeth. "You felt that the part about the daughter was absolutely necessary?"
Stiles made as if to put his hand on Jane's shoulder, then thought better of it. "It's just a story, Patrick. Just a story. Nothing more, nothing less."
"Sure. You've just told me that I had my wife speak the trigger."
Stiles beamed at him. "Did I? Now that's jumping to conclusions, don't you think?" He stood, just as the sun broke through the clouds, indicating a fine day coming up. He paused just behind the bench, and this time he did pat Jane's shoulder. "Good luck, Patrick. I'm sure you'll find your key. Not as sure it will open anything though ..."
And with that, he was gone.
Lisbon stood half leaning against her desk, coffee-mug in hands. Jane was in her office, sitting in front of her.
"Now that puts a spin on things ..." she mused, after hearing her consultant's rather agonized story. "Are you sure that's what he meant? You had your wife speak the trigger? And now your subconscious ..."
"Unconscious. Jungian term. Subconscious is Freudian. There might not be that many levels - in any case, the mind is not a hierarchical structure."
Lisbon waved her hand impatiently. "Whatever. Your unconscious mind won't recognize the trigger, because it isn't spoken in Angela's voice?"
"That's the gist of it. I think that's what he was trying to say."
"Then why not come right out and say it? Why this - fisherman parable?"
Jane shrugged. "For some reason, he can't tell me anything until I remember on my own. Nothing explicit anyway. At first I wondered if it was just an act - his sense of humour or something - but today he was clearly concerned about possibly being overheard by someone."
"Who?" Lisbon asked. Unnecessarily, she suspected, but she couldn't just let it go.
"No idea so far", Jane said. "I would have guessed Red John, or someone working for him, but if I'm he ..."
"Don't say that", Lisbon admonished him. "You might start believing it." She frowned a little. "So what do we do now? Any ideas?"
"None that I care to try right now."
"What's that supposed to mean? I thought you were desperate to know."
Jane passed his hand over his eyes. "I was. I am. It's just ... I'm not sure I can deal with this right now."
Lisbon was silent for a while. When she spoke again, it was very gently. "Jane, I'd like to bring in the team."
He looked up at her, pained but composed. "I was wondering when we'd be coming to that. You can't dismiss the suspicion either? That I might actually be Red John?"
"What? No, I just meant, if we're stalled, maybe they can come up with something." She took a good, almost tender look at him. "You haven't slept any too well lately, have you? New therapy not working?"
He smiled a little. "I haven't really practised it for a while. Felt I needed to solve this first. Stupid, I guess. I feel I'm missing clues. Maybe if I'd slept, I wouldn't have."
You might have had another dream, Lisbon thought. But somehow, she felt that this was not the right moment to bring it up.
"So that's the gist of it", Lisbon concluded her briefing, unconsciously repeating Jane's wording. Her entire team - including Jane - was in her office with her; it was a bit crowded, but she hadn't wanted anyone from another department to walk in on her explanaton. The situation was unorthodox at best. She probably should have notified her immediate supervisor that Jane suspected himself of being Red John. On the other hand, the case was rather unprecedented. She'd go with that for an explanation - if Bertram found anything to criticize.
"Jane, there's no way you are Red John", van Pelt said.
"Thank you, van Pelt, I've already told him that", Lisbon retorted, a little more sharply than intended. She valued their loyalty, but right now she needed a little more. "The question now, is how do we prove it?"
Rigsby let out a low whistle, seeing the scope of the challenge. Cho, for once, was the one to put it in words. "Hard to prove the absence of something."
"Yeah, like a connection", Rigsby augmented. "Which of course we do have. Jane and Red John go way back ..." He caught himself. "Sorry about the expression ..."
Jane actually smiled. "I know what you mean, Rigsby. Yes, there is definitely history. As I was recently reminded, it goes back to well before Red John - decided to come after me. I guess you could say I was after him first ..."
Lisbon frowned. "van Pelt, would you look up the exact date of Jane's first announcement that he knew what Red John was thinking, and that therefore he could help solve the man's crimes?"
"On it, boss!" van Pelt made for the door, then, abruptly she stopped. They all knew the facts and dates. They didn't need a reminder. "With respect, boss", she said, "is this really the right way to go about it?"
Lisbon gave her an encouraging look, so she went on, "I mean, we've been all over this. We know the details. I don't think we're likely to find anything there that we've overlooked. I think - this may sound weird, but I think we need to use Jane's dreams."
She looked over at Rigsby and Cho - and wished she hadn't. Rigsby looked amused and surprised, eyebrows climbing, and Cho was giving her his most stone-faced look. "...and what followed from each of them of course", she amended lamely.
She was relieved when her boss concurred. "Thank you, van Pelt. I think so too. In fact, the main reason I'm bringing you in now, is ..." she glanced quickly at Jane to see if he really was okay with this, "... I think we need a way to duplicate the voice of Angela Jane, speaking the trigger Jane needs to break the previous hypnotism."
To give them credit, they all set to thinking about the problem at once. van Pelt's eyes might have widened a little, but only for a moment, then she too was busy searching her mind for a solution.
"Any recordings?" Cho asked.
van Pelt shook her head. "None in our archives. Possibly the FBI's. I could find out."
"Answering machine?" Rigsby asked Jane, his blue eyes entreatingly asking forgiveness for the question. "Sometimes people keep ..." his voice trailed off as he decided not to put his foot any further into his mouth.
Jane shook his head. "None", he said, non-committally. Not quite meaning to, Lisbon ticked off possibilities in her mind. One: he didn't keep them. Possibly now wishes he had. Two: she never left any. Three: he doesn't want us to use them ...
Glancing over at her, Jane helped her out. "There were no messages at the time. All previous ones had been erased at some point." He looked to the others. "I guess you're thinking we could have cut up old recordings and string together the correct phrase from them, but I'm not sure that would have worked anyway. Quite apart from the difficulty in cutting so the phrase sounds natural, a voice heard over technological aids will not sound the same as one heard without intermediary equipment, as in the same room. The unconscious mind is very literal. It might not even recognize the similarity."
Cho looked up. "So we need to find someone who can imitate her voice?"
Rigsby shook his head dismissively. "Long shot. Unless Jane knows someone?"
Lisbon looked as if she was about to object, but Jane answered before she could. "The thought had occurred to me, yes. But even if I could think of someone - most ladies I know have deeper voices ..." he paused, wondering if there was some sort of significance to that, then voiced his musings out loud, as he felt the team could use a little comic relief. He was rewarded by an uncomfortable smile from Rigsby and a big grin from van Pelt. "Even if", he resumed, "the problem would still remain. My unconscious mind might not accept the imitation as the real thing."
There were no more suggestions after that. After a while, Lisbon decided to wrap up the meeting. "Thank you, guys. It's getting late. But I want you all to keep thinking about this. We'll look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. Maybe we can come up with something then."
They split up. Rigsby, van Pelt and Lisbon all visibly relieved because the air was definitely getting old; Cho and Jane seemingly oblivious.
After the others had left, Lisbon said quietly, "Get some sleep, Jane. Practise that therapy of yours. You can't go on like this."
He smiled at her. A decidedly affectionate smile, she thought - though of course, she could be wrong. One never knew with Jane. But at least he seemed to appreciate her advice.
Which didn't mean he was about to take it. "Thanks, Lisbon. I will, but I need to think something through first. I'll be in my attic if ..."
"I will, I will. I'll go home to my motel and spend the night in a proper bed", such as it is he amended in his thoughts, "just not right away. But I will, I promise!"
She gave him a long look, then realized she'd have to content herself with his promise. At least, if he broke it, she'd let him hear it in the morning ...
Jane was sitting in front of his attic window, staring out into the darkness while sipping from a cup of tea. Jasmine this time. Soothing. The street lamps had come on a couple of hours ago, and a light rain was beginning to thrum against the panes.
There had to be something he could do to access those memories, he felt. Something he hadn't thought of ... but what? The idea of reproducing Angela's voice was a dead end, he was fairly sure of that. Of course, failing all else, maybe it wouldn't hurt to try, but he just knew it would prove a waste of time. He took another sip of tea, then closed his eyes briefly, trying to think. To think back ...
Lisbon had made it home to her condo, parked her car, gone in to have a quick shower and change into something more comfortable than her working clothes. This evening, she picked a sweater and an old pair of baggy jogging pants. She felt a need to curl up in front of an old movie and more or less hibernate. The last person she wanted to think about right now was Jane, and the last thing, his insane notion that he might be Red John. So of course those were the exact thoughts that wouldn't leave her.
In the end, she called him.
Jane set aside his empty cup and tried once more. Searching for a clue he might have overlooked. He didn't really feel like entering into another self-hypnosis. But if he could only visualize ... the word got him thinking about Stiles. I'm sure you'll find your key. Not as sure it will open anything though. But the key was still there for him to find? The irony of the parable indicated that it was lost with his wife. But if so, why would Stiles have told him the story? To make him give up? Not likely - for reasons of his own, Stiles had come each time Jane had called him, although he must have had to rearrange his schedule on short notice. True, the last time, he had seemed worried ... afraid someone would find out? Whom was he two-timing? Red John? If so, John and Jane could not be the same person ...
His cell phone rang. For some reason he hadn't switched it off. Maybe he hoped someone would distract him. And he knew exactly who ... a glance at the display verified his suspicion. Yes, it was her.
"Hi Jane, hope I didn't disrupt your thoughts."
"Not really", he said easily. "Checking to see if I've gone home yet?"
"Well, have you?"
He sighed theatrically. "I never could lie to you, Lisbon."
"Yes, you could", she said automatically. "Frequently. I didn't call to check up on you though. It's just, this is probably a stupid idea, but ... is there any chance you could have asked Angela to phone in the trigger to you?"
"I've thought about that too, but why would I?"
"Well, I don't know but if you feared that someone might try and force you to remember, you might not have wanted to put her at risk, so you made sure she couldn't be in the room if the trigger was to work?"
"Lisbon, you're reaching."
"No, hear me out. If - for whatever reason - you stipulated that she had to speak the trigger over the phone, and if Stiles knows of a recording that still exists ..."
"Stipulated?" Jane pounced on the odd word with a slight smile.
"Set as a condition. Don't tell me you think this was all your own idea. Provided it happened at all. If nobody but you - and possibly your wife - was in on it, how come Stiles knows so much?"
"Stiles apparently knows a lot of things he shouldn't", Jane muttered. "But yes, it has occurred to me. Particularly since he was so furtive last time I saw him. As if he and someone else had made me forget, and now Stiles wants me to remember, but the other party presumably doesn't?"
"Something like that", Lisbon agreed. "Only, why have you do the hypnotism yourself? Why not do it themselves? I'm sure Stiles would be capable."
"That one's easy. They didn't want any images of themselves left in my mind, how ever deeply buried. I'm sure they took care to stay out of range of the mirror as well. Still, that would indicate that the buried memories are perfectly retrievable. That's something, at least."
"Good. Sounds like you might have had a reason for a phoned-in trigger."
Jane shook his head. "It won't wash. Maybe it would work for activating the trigger, at a pinch, but not for setting it. You didn't find it entirely easy to time your own trigger to my instructions, did you? What if I had asked you to do it over the phone?"
Lisbon frowned. "You're right. Back to the recording then. What if you had Angela make a recording? Which you could start at the right point? And what if Stiles has, or knows of, that recording?"
Jane pondered that. He still felt it was kind of far-fetched, but ...
"Tell me I'm not starting to make sense, and I'll shut up", Lisbon promised.
He couldn't help smiling to himself. "I still think you're reaching, but you may be starting to make sense."
"Tell you what", she said, "we probably shouldn't be discussing this over the phone - you said Stiles seemed nervous about being overheard. Would you mind coming over?"
He couldn't think of anything he'd mind less, but he never could resist an opportunity to tease her. "I thought you ordered me to go home and get a good night's sleep."
"Okay, if you'd rather meet at your place."
"No, no, it's okay. I'll come over. Be there in minutes."
Belatedly, she saw his grin as she opened the door. Of course. Sweater, baggy pants ... "Sorry", she murmured with a glance down at her disreputable clothing, "I had just curled up in front of the TV, when I got to thinking."
"No need to apologize. It becomes you. In fact, it's positively endearing." His grin widened - if such a thing was possible.
"Endearing??" She rolled her eyes, then decided to let it go. They were not here to bicker. Wordlessly, she motioned him toward the drawing room. Following him in, she switched off the TV before sitting down next to him on the couch. "Would you like some wine? Or just tea?"
"Tea will be fine, thanks", he said, as she had rather expected he would. She rose again and headed for the kitchen, and he followed her to help - as if she needed help boiling water, she thought wrily. The tea was plain Ceylon, but at least it wasn't the kind of discouraging bags he usually seemed to find quite acceptable, for some reason. Maybe it was the same thing as when she made do with the bullpen coffee, as long as it bore the least resemblance to real coffee.
"Do you think it at all possible that you could have used a recording and that it still exists?" she asked, when they were back in the drawing room, each with a cup of the Ceylon blend.
"I've been trying to remember, but it seems as if memories of the circumstances are just as efficiently blocked as the memories I was repressing. Possibly by the same trigger."
"Speaking of that, are we even sure about the trigger? I mean, that it really is the proverb? What exactly did Stiles say about that?"
Jane thought. "Well, I never really asked him point blank. I just assumed, because he asked me."
"He asked you what?"
"What he had told me, in the dream where he appeared. I quoted the proverb, and he said, _That's about right_ ..."
His eyes widened. "Lisbon, what a fool I've been! That's exactly what he said - about right. And that he couldn't tell me anything until I remembered more. I must have misquoted the proverb!"
"You? Misquote anything? Memory like a fortress and all that?"
He shook his head slightly. "Dreams are tricky things. As you try to remember them on waking up, you often inadvertently change them."
"So there's no chance you could remember the exact wording from your dream?"
He hesitated. "If I hypnotize myself again, maybe. Might stand a better chance on that. If I wasn't throwing away the key, I wouldn't have blocked the memory of it with the rest. One thing though, why would Stiles tell me the parable if it had no significance?"
"Well", Lisbon said wrily, "He's hardly the most reliable source of information. I think you've been relying far too much on him."
"He's pretty much my only lead", Jane mused. "But he did seem nervous last time we met. Maybe he was trying to throw his assumed pursuers off the scent by doing the same to me."
"Maybe", Lisbon agreed. Then, "Want to try now? Seeing as you're already here, I mean?" Suddenly self-conscious, she added, "That is, I assume you still want me to say magnolia ..."
"I always want you to say magnolia" he smiled. "You sound so sweet when you say it."
She rolled her eyes again. "In that case, we'd better get started. It's nearly eleven ..."
Assuming her usual place, sitting on her bed, Lisbon prepared to speak her magic word, once Jane gave her the cue. But he remained silent, standing deep in thoughts before the mirror, not yet launching into his self-instructions. Presently, he said, "You know, I'm getting a feeling of déjà-vu here. Not quite a memory, but I think - I don't think there ever was a recording of the trigger. Can't really say how I know though. Or even if I know ..." He shook his head as if trying to clear it. "Well, better get on with it then ..."
"Just one thing", Lisbon quickly interjected, "Please tell yourself to speak your memories aloud this time! Just in case ... well, in case you need help, I might need to know what was going on."
He nodded, reluctantly. He had to admit that she did have a point.
He gave himself the usual instructions - plus the one about being verbal -, this time to remember the exact wording of the proverb from his dream, the one Stiles had asked about. He didn't call it trigger, since that would most likely be too far-fetched a concept for his more literal level of mind. At the proper point, he cued Lisbon in.
And suddenly, it wasn't Lisbon sitting behind him. It was his dead wife, Angela. And he wasn't cueing her in; he was trying to get her to remember a phrase, in case she needed to bring him out - or he needed her to do it. He thought she was getting it right, but he couldn't quite catch what she said when she repeated it to him.
Then Angela was gone, and he was alone in front of a mirror - a different one from Lisbon's - instructing himself. When he came to the point where he would have cued Angela in, he glanced behind him and there was still no one there. In some frustration, he heard himself: When you hear Angela say then, even as he was thinking That can never have worked, he filled in the rest: He wakes up last, whose house is on fire.
He established the trigger in his own voice, Lisbon thought as she saw Jane stiffen. Angela wasn't there to be cued, so any instructions regarding her voice were ignored ... Then she heard him say, as if answering someone, "Yes, I remember." He said nothing more but seemed as if still in a trance and oddly receptive, so she decided to risk it.
"Are you Red John?" she asked. The question she knew he most of all wanted answered.
"Yes", he said, and her heart nearly stopped. "And no. There is no Red John. As such."
Okay, that went well. She might as well continue. "What do you mean?"
"He isn't any one person. At first, there happened to be several murders with the appearance of having been committed by a serial killer - so I invented him."
What?? Lisbon thought but managed to keep herself from calling it out loud. Instead, "Why?" she asked in the same monotone as her earlier questions.
"I blamed those then unsolved murders on a fictitious killer, so I could boost my reputation by 'helping out' with the investigations."
Of course, Lisbon thought. Why was it so easy to forget what he had been?
"What happened then?" she asked, momentarily at a loss for more questions to put to him.
"I couldn't keep such a complicated con going all by myself, so I contacted someone. Someone I understood to have a large organization at his disposal."
"Stiles", Lisbon muttered to herself, but Jane's ears were as keen as any light sleeper's.
"That wasn't his name then. And I never met him in person. But yes, I believe he was - and is - the one." He frowned a little. "There's something very familiar about his voice."
So hence this fascination with Stiles, lately ... "What was your agreement?" Lisbon wanted to know.
"I told him he could bring in others as he saw fit, but to use discretion, tell them as little as possible. And to - keep challenging me."
Lisbon whistled softly, then caught herself, but the sound didn't seem to have had any effect on Jane. Except possibly a slightly soothing one.
"Did you yourself kill anyone as Red John?" She just had to ask.
"I - don't think so."
Well, that was a relief of sorts. Still ... "Who killed your family?"
"I - don't know." He was beginning to sound decidedly agonized, but this wasn't just about him. She was the law, and she just had to find out what he knew, even if he wasn't aware that he knew.
"Did Stiles have them killed?"
"I - don't think so." The same answer - then he suddenly collapsed. Fortunately, the bed was near enough that he fell half on it, and she only had to gather up his legs in order to swing the rest of him up on it. Feeling like a heel, but reasoning that he would want to know too, she instructed him gently, "When you wake up, you will feel rested" - she remembered that part - "and you will still remember all that you have told me now". Silently, she counted to five, then she said it.
Lisbon knew she was late for work. Jane hadn't wanted to discuss last night's revelations until he had had a chance to confront Stiles about them. That hadn't made it any easier for Lisbon to fall asleep after Jane had left. And now everybody had arrived before her. For some reason, she felt bad about that, although it was a normal occurrence, depending on what cases they were all working on.
"Boss?" Rigsby said, as soon as she came in. "The girl who was here about a landslide that never happened - wasn't she named Caldwell?"
Lisbon nodded tiredly. "Yes, that's right. She came back, months later. Bertram called me. What about her?"
"Well", Rigsby said in a tone halfway between apologetic and severely puzzled, "There was a landslide in Natomas Heights last night. Quite a disaster; it looks like there is only one survivor. A Mary Celestine Caldwell ..."
Lisbon ran a hand over her forehead. Then she made her decision. "Call Mancini at the FBI. I'm sure they are quite capable of handling this one too."
Turning her back on Rigsby's baffled look as well as Cho's not-quite-smile, she made for the bull pen and her first cup of coffee for the day.
Once again, a bench in a park. And Stiles already in place, same as before. Jane went to stand behind him. "Did you get wet?" he asked.
Stiles turned around, his pale blue gaze resting calmly on Jane. "Hm?"
"In the plaza, last time we met", Jane clarified. "Rhyme not intended, by the way. I think you did get wet, and that you are a person who's usually particular about your clothing."
"A sound deduction as always", Stiles acknowledged.
"Who were you hiding from?" Jane asked, sitting down next to the older man.
Stiles smiled. "What makes you think I was hiding from anyone?"
"You can quit playing games now", Jane said. "I remember."
Stiles gave him an amused look, completely unfazed. "Indeed? And what is it you remember, Patrick?"
Jane told him. Gave him an account of the deal they had had, and its presumed escalation.
"I had told you to keep challenging me", he concluded. "And after a while you did only that - your whole force focussing only on me."
"Kept them off the streets", Stiles quipped.
"Did you order the murder of my family?" Jane asked, his voice tense.
That came a little too calmly for Jane's taste. Stiles had obviously anticipated the question.
"Then who did?"
"Nobody, as far as I know."
"A copycat of a fictitious killer? Acting alone? Bit of a coincidence, don't you think?"
"Coincidences do happen. That's how we know about them."
Stiles was completely unruffled. Whereas Jane who had depended on his self-control for a living, could feel his patience wearing thin.
"Do you know who killed them?"
Stiles nodded sagely. "I know everything to do with Red John."
"So this was something to do with our hoax?"
"That's one way of putting it."
"And what is another?"
Perhaps Stiles could hear the mounting tension in Jane's voice. Perhaps he just decided to take pity on him anyway. He turned slightly, supporting his arm on the back rest of the bench. "Patrick, the man you killed acted alone. He had only recently been - drawn into my circle, shall we say? And he had obviously misunderstood the mission. He did not realize your family was off limits. Probably thought he had a unique idea that would impress the others. If you hadn't shot him, I'd have had him - removed, myself."
Jane was staring straight ahead, at some ducks just coming up from the stream, chattering. "The man I killed, you say?"
Stiles nodded. "You were quite right - he was not Red John. How could he be? But - he was the man who killed your family."
Jane sat quiet for a long while. So this was closure. If he was to believe Stiles - and he did. He had always prided himself on knowing when people lied, and he could still tell. People like Stiles very rarely lied. For someone habitually so steeped in intrigue, it would complicate matters too much.
"Why did you keep it up?" he asked. "The challenges, I mean?"
Stiles shrugged lightly. "One mistake - however grave, if you pardon the expression - did not seem enough of a reason to quit. After all, the culprit was taken care of."
Jane let the callousness pass. He could hear it was not quite genuine - which surprised him. Perhaps the 'mistake' in his own ranks had really shaken Stiles. Not that he ever would let it show.
"I mean", Jane augmented, "after that, we weren't in touch. And I made myself forget all about our deal. As you knew. Why did you assume the deal was still on?"
"I hadn't heard any different."
"That, and - an outfit like mine doesn't come cheap. I'm out a quite considerable amount for bills I had to foot myself while you were - incommunicado." He paused, then, "You owe me, Patrick."
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