tromana: (mentalist: jane/lisbon right behind you)
tromana ([personal profile] tromana) wrote2011-09-01 02:24 pm

FIC: Tick Tock (4-6/21)

Previous Parts: 1-3

Part Four

Sacramento, CA, Tuesday, 05.46am PST

Sometimes, it felt to her like she perpetually woke just before daybreak. That was entirely down to her career and Lisbon sometimes wondered if she would actually feel somewhat more rested if she had chosen a more sensible career path. Something like banking or administration. Then again, she realised that if she had, she would have been perpetually bored. Even though her job already required a fairly significant amount of paperwork, at least it provided the opportunity to go out in the field. She got to have a break to the monotony and do something of interest.

And most importantly, it was her chance to do some good.

Naturally, one of the most striking memories of her childhood was that of the day her mother died. It was then when she realised that she needed to do something that helped. Any old mundane career simply wouldn’t be good enough. Most kids in her shoes would probably have picked out the doctors or nurses. She might have done, if they had managed to save her mom’s life. Instead, it was a kind policewoman, a girl who had only just graduated from the academy that she had fixated on. The rookie was the only one who had time to sit alongside her, explain to a terrified teenager that everything would be okay sooner or later. That woman had been the only bright spark in a very dark period of her life. Lisbon knew that if she could offer the same solace to somebody else every so often, then it was a job well done. Her career and the sacrifices she had made would be entirely worth it.

Days like today, however, equally made her seriously question the point of it all.

For today was a court day. Instead of being in Merced with the rest of the team, trying to track down a killer, she was stuck in Sacramento. Lawyers were going to try and pick holes in a case that she thought was airtight. Mainly, because they had solved it on one of Jane’s many suspensions. She knew that the bastard had been the killer and so did everyone else. However, if the defence lawyer was clever enough, he would find a loophole and another guilty man would be set free. Sometimes, technicalities made her feel sick to her stomach. 

But she pushed it aside, albeit briefly. That was something she could worry about when she got there. For now, all she had planned was reading reports. Van Pelt had kindly faxed over a transcript of the interviews from the night before. The younger woman had quickly become a very dependable member of the team. She understood how, as the boss, Lisbon liked to be kept in the loop regardless of whatever else was going on in her life.

Once she sat down, with a cup of steaming coffee in her hand, Lisbon absentmindedly grabbed hold of a different file. Another report, another case. Specifically, the Red John one. Patrick Jane wasn’t the only one with an obsession for constantly reading and re-reading it. The main difference was Jane’s motives were much less honourable. Still, Lisbon was determined to apprehend Red John before Jane had the chance to do something stupid. The man had already lost enough as it was, never mind foolishly throwing away his life for something as petty as revenge. It wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t constructive. If she had sought out revenge against everyone who had ever wronged her, Lisbon knew that she would be long gone by now. It was just a shame that Jane couldn’t see that, however. Sometimes, she thought she was getting through to him, managing to make him see it from her perspective. Then, he would throw her a curveball, just to remind her that as far as he was concerned, nothing had changed. That she had had no influence whatsoever on what he intended to do.

But she wasn’t ready to give up on him just yet. Lisbon had spent so long working with him, that she hoped that sooner rather than later, she would actually make a breakthrough. And if she didn’t? Well, she had always had a strange kind of attraction to lost causes and would just keep trying anyway.

Quickly, she scanned her eyes across all too familiar words. Even though the sun was only just beginning to rise and the birds were waking to start their morning chorus, Lisbon found herself reciting it word for word. Though the file had evolved considerably recently, what with the death of Todd Johnson, Red John himself had been relatively quiet.

That concerned her. It meant Red John was probably planning something quite spectacular. Something that would most likely end in misery.

Bristol, UK, Tuesday, 08.47pm GMT

Franky slammed her pint glass down on the table angrily. Suds slopped over the side and onto her fingers, but she didn’t seem to notice or care. She left her fingers tightly curled around the glass, her knuckles white from the force being applied. She was angry, of course she was. They all were. It was only natural.

One of their number had been viciously slain and the police didn’t have a fucking clue.

Instead, they had wasted their time questioning them about Liv’s final moments. Like Professor Blood, they had practically accused them of taking a gun and knife to their mate. Why the fuck would they want to do that? It wasn’t normal, it wasn’t right. And as per fucking usual, the police were wasting their time and energy whilst the real killer was on the loose. Some crazed maniac who thought it amusing to paint smiley faces on children’s playthings.

The officer who had questioned Franky had shown her the picture of the crime scene. In a way, it looked strangely beautiful. That had been her first thought. Unfortunately, the officer had immediately picked up on that. For some reason, they had expected Franky to act with revulsion, disgust at what she saw. But why should she? It was the murderer’s way of trying to say ‘it’s okay, she’s at peace now. Smile.’ Or, that was the way Franky had seen it anyway. Maybe it was the man, still trapped in his chauvinistic, stereotypical method of thinking. What did he want her to do? Scream out in revulsion, act in horror at seeing her mate, dead? She’d had the warnings, thanks to Blood. For the most part, she knew what to expect when she saw the pictures. It was just the smiley face that stood out. 

Immediately, she had asked why the killer had painted it. The officer had demanded that she told him why. Really, she knew she was lucky not to have been frogmarched down to the police station to be charged at that moment. Despite the key fact that she was not guilty, of course.

Quickly, she looked at the others. Mini was still wearing the same hollow expression she had been wearing all day. One of her hands gripped onto Franky’s tightly. She allowed the index finger of her left hand to trail slowly around the edge of her wine glass. Rich and Grace were curled up together, the only sign that something untoward had happened was the fact that every so often, they stopped and glanced cautiously at everyone else. Alo still hadn’t said a word, his eyes were still filled with unshed tears. After they’d been questioned, Nick and Matty had disappeared down the rugby field, to let off some steam. It was interesting, seeing everyone else’s coping mechanisms. The way people reacted to death. Matty in particular was holding up well, considering. He and Liv had been in a relationship. Shared something, even if it was just guilt-free sex. And, she wasn’t ashamed to admit that it made their liaisons more exciting, more daring, knowing that Liv was hiding in plain sight. But then again, knowing Matty, it could quite easily all be a façade, he could easily be hiding his true feelings just beneath the surface. Ready to explode. Just as he was inclined to do on occasion.

“Another drink?”

It was Rich who broke the silence and nobody responded, though it had briefly broken Franky’s chain of thoughts. Instead, he merely shrugged his shoulders, disentangled himself from Grace and slinked off to the bar. That was what he needed to do. The others were happy sitting together, albeit in silence. United in grief, yet somehow, strangely alone. Franky knew at that point, they were each an island. Even though they were sharing one another’s company, they were still essentially alone.

Merced, CA, Tuesday, 01.41pm PST

Rigsby scowled as he all but threw the laptop back in its case. He was annoyed; of course he was. Van Pelt had disappeared to answer yet another call from O’Laughlin. That left him doing all the dull chores alone when they were meant to be doing them together. He had been the one who ended up dumspter diving, despite it being her turn to do that least favoured of tasks. At least he had found the murder weapon though, that was better than it all being in vain. The fact that she had disappeared to exchange sweet nothings with her boyfriend meant that it would be even longer until they were on the road and therefore, longer still until they were back in Sacramento. There had never been any intention to stay in Merced for long; it didn’t matter that the case wasn’t anywhere near being closed. The CBI headquarters was more than close enough to be a base of operations for this specific case. Besides, the organisation didn’t have the money to waste on putting up staff in motels unnecessarily. 

However, it wasn’t really Van Pelt’s distraction that was bothering him; it was the fact it was O’Laughlin that she was being distracted by. There was something about the man that irritated him, something that just didn’t feel right. He didn’t deserve somebody as wonderful as Grace Van Pelt. And truth be told, Rigsby knew that he wasn’t really over her. That he was still aching to hold her, to love her, to be with her for the rest of his life. If they had managed to be a little more private, if Jane hadn’t worked them out in an instant, then maybe things would be different. Then again, maybe not. Sooner or later, somebody else would have discovered it. Realistically, they had known it was against the rules. That they should never have done it. But there was always something so tempting about the forbidden fruit.

When Jane sauntered into the room, seemingly without a care in the world, Rigsby found his reverie broken. Then, he briefly wondered how Lisbon was doing back in Sacramento. He certainly didn’t envy her what with the court day. For some reason, they always seemed to be the worst part of the job. Sometimes, he just wished that once they passed the case over, that was it. It felt a little odd seeing Jane without the boss; sometimes it seemed like the pair were inseparable. More likely, Lisbon just wanted to keep a permanent eye on him simply because she knew that Jane alone was likely to cause more trouble than it was worth. Jane himself was quickly followed in by Cho, who was guiding a handcuffed man inside the room.

“Oliver Schaber,” Cho immediately supplied by way of explanation. “The understudy.”

“Oh.”

Rigsby didn’t bother asking why the man was cuffed; it was obvious he had tried to make a break for it when he had realised the CBI was on his trail. Briefly, he allowed his mood to brighten. If the man had been completely innocent, he wouldn’t have bothered running and would have willingly submitted himself to questioning. That meant that all the signs were there for a relatively easy case. One with very few problems caused by Jane, which would make a pleasant change for them all. 

“Taking him back to headquarters?”

“Yes. Lisbon will want to hear what he has to say for himself.”

There was no way Rigsby could fault Cho’s logic. He also appreciated his colleague’s no-nonsense attitude when he was in a mood like this. Besides, they were nearly ready to make a move.

Really, they were just waiting for Van Pelt to realise that the sooner she said goodbye to O’Laughlin, the sooner that she could actually see him again. But then again, that simple thought settled uncomfortably in Rigsby’s mind.

Part Five

Bristol, UK, Wednesday, 01.21am GMT

He was annoyed. 

Of course he was. Alo needed to know more about Rich’s plan. Just telling him that it was based on some fucking American psycho wasn’t good enough. Nor was knowing that Rich had destroyed his entire ‘Red John’ collection in order to keep the police’s trail firmly off of them. It all seemed so bizarre, almost sacrilegious. He appreciated his friend’s help, really he did. But there was such a thing as honouring the dead and what Rich had done…

Well, he had made it all worse, hadn’t he? He’d sliced her open like she was a lamb taken to the slaughterhouse. Like she was little more than livestock. And the smiley face. That was what had creeped Alo out the most. It just seemed so wrong. It was something that kids scrawled. The juxtaposition between the park, Liv’s bloodied body and the smiley face… that was something that wasn’t going to be cleared from his memory for a very long while. If ever, for that matter.

He laid down on his makeshift bed. Alo was back in the van again; he was in no fit state to drive anywhere. Then again, with how he was feeling, he wasn’t in any fit state to do anything.

Ultimately, he was a guilty man.

Did it matter that it had been an accident? Not really. He’d still taken a human life. It wasn’t as if she were a pheasant or rabbit. They were always practical in their deaths. It protected the fields and provided a cheap meal on the table. Human life was different, there was something more sacred about it. When somebody died so young, it was a tragedy. Especially so when their lives were just obliterated in something as senseless as murder. 

Alo had already seen a couple of the preliminary media reports. Words such as shocking, horrifying, grotesque had been thrown around without a second thought. Liv was being portrayed as an innocent soul, caught up in something she ultimately didn’t deserve. That was true, to some extent, but it didn’t take into account the wonderfully flawed human she actually was. It was biased, keen to highlight just how young she was. And eventually, she would be doomed to being little more than a statistic, regardless of her age.

All he wished was that Rich had bothered to tell him something more. Instead, he had avoided him for the whole fucking night. Spent it wrapped up in his girlfriend’s arms. Acted as if he were completely innocent. However, they were in this together now. Technically, the courts would argue that they were both as guilty as each other.

And really, Rich was the only one who could come remotely close to understanding just what he was thinking.

Meanwhile, Rich was resolutely trying not to think of Alo at all. Or Liv, for that matter. He was still angry with his so-called best friend for dragging him into this mess. And of course, he had to go running, didn’t he? Be Alo’s proverbial knight in shining armour. If, or more likely, when the police realised just who was responsible, they wouldn’t care that he hadn’t pulled the trigger. Alo was guilty of manslaughter at the very least. Rich knew he wouldn’t kill Liv intentionally. But that left him as an accessory. He knew Alo had done it, knew he was guilty and intentionally covered it up. That carried a prison sentence of up to fifteen years. For some reason, he doubted it would matter that he was a minor. Police never seemed to care about small details like that.

Grace’s fingers trailed down his chest and he barely noticed. Clearly, he wasn’t doing a very good job at not thinking about the sorry mess he’d gotten himself thrown into. Then again, that was hardly surprising. How was he supposed to react in this kind of situation? He’d never been in it before, never known anyone who had either. It was just something he found himself in because of Alo’s sheer idiocy.

“What’s wrong with you?”

She didn’t bother speaking quietly; they were at his place and Kevin didn’t care what he did in the privacy of his own bedroom. There was no question of them going back to Grace’s home. David Blood still hadn’t forgiven them for trying to get married, for trying to break another, albeit somewhat more minor, law. Part of Rich doubted his girlfriend’s father ever would. Really, they were lucky that she was still able to attend Roundview for a second year. Then again, all that seemed so trivial, pointless, now. 

When he didn’t answer and merely stood up, Grace looked affronted. Yes, considering what they had been through today, it seemed a little odd to be trying to have sex. Then again, Liv’s death had made her need Rich all the more. She wanted to be reminded that she was still alive, that she could still grow and feel and love. Grace wanted to remember the good times with Liv, not the fact that she was gone and she would never see one of her best friends again.

“No,” he answered quickly, before repeating himself. “No, of course not. I’m just going to have a shower. It’s… been a long day.”

Rich was relieved when Grace didn’t seem to notice just how out of character that was for him. Once he was in the bathroom, he leant against the door and slid down it. With his head in his hands, he could only hope that things would eventually get easier again.

Sacramento, CA, Tuesday, 05.21pm PST

It seemed like it had taken them all day to get back to Sacramento. A road traffic accident had delayed them significantly, much to Rigsby’s irritation. Sometimes, it felt like the world was conspiring against you and today was one of those days. Throughout the journey, Van Pelt had appeared permanently glued to her cell phone. Hearing her mutter sweet nothings to O’Laughlin all the way back had rankled him as much as it had done back in Merced. What he wouldn’t give to share one more day with her, to hear her tell him that she loved him again. However, it was firmly in the past and Rigsby knew that it was something that he wouldn’t ever get back again. Van Pelt seemed happy in her new relationship and even if she and O’Laughin were to break up, it was unlikely he would have another chance, as one of them would still have to leave the CBI. Quite frankly, they were lucky to have not received a more serious reprimand than they already had done. Then again, Lisbon had taken a lot of the flak for that and in a way, Rigsby wondered if she was still paying for it. Sometimes, she and Hightower seemed to be getting along better than when they first met, but at other times…

He shook his head. Now was not the time to be thinking about that. Rigsby knew that Lisbon was the other side of the one-way mirror, waiting impatiently for him to get a move on with the questioning. Usually, he would appreciate the chance to question a suspect alone; normally only Lisbon herself or Cho had the luxury to do so. This was a sign that his boss was pleased with the progression of his career thus far and wanted him to develop further before he chose to move on. Something which he was reluctant to do as he liked working for the CBI. With the rest of the team. With Van Pelt, when she wasn’t in one of her loved-up phases with O’Laughlin.

The questioning went slowly. Schaber didn’t seem like he wanted to co-operate and Rigsby realized he was losing ground fast. Deep down, he knew that it was simply because the man resented being dragged back to Sacramento, handcuffed, on a hellish car trip that lasted altogether far too long. Nobody would be co-operative after having to endure such a thing. In the end, he wasn’t really surprised when not only Lisbon, but Jane joined him in the dimly lit interrogation room. It was only a matter of time before they would take over.

After Rigsby left, Jane immediately took charge of the interview. Lisbon watched as he continually kept taking hold of Schaber’s wrist. She had seen him do this before, trying to measure somebody’s pulse to see what they were thinking. However, she didn’t even need to do that. It was obvious that the man was growing increasingly irritated by Jane’s tactile nature; the way he kept snatching his wrist back spoke volumes. But after having a ‘fun’ day in court, where the perp nearly got off on a technicality had left her feeling drained. Jane wasn’t doing much harm, not yet and besides, she had gotten to the stage where she trusted him and his crazy methodology. Though other senior agents remained sceptical, despite the overwhelming evidence that contradicted them, Jane’s methodology did actually work.

She had barely been in her seat for five minutes when her cell phone rang shrilly. Quickly, she apologised before slipping out of the room. Lisbon didn’t need to look twice at the number to know it was important.

“Hello, Agent Lisbon.”

“Bertram, Sir?” Lisbon questioned, somewhat surprised that he was actually calling her. “What can I do for you?”

“I have set up an emergency meeting in thirty minutes. Your attendance is essential.”

Lisbon paused for a second. It wasn’t unusual for Bertram to make demands like that, but she was certain Jane was beginning to get somewhere with Schaber. Though she knew Cho was more than capable of overseeing the rest of the interrogation on her behalf, she didn’t really want to drop everything to meet the director of the CBI. That was something that was usually Hightower’s job; normally he had very little to do with the actual agents.

“But I’m just in the middle of-”

“When I said essential, I meant it, agent.”

“Why?”

She immediately regretted asking, but Lisbon hadn’t been able to stop herself. In all honesty, if she didn’t have a clue what this emergency meeting was for, she wouldn’t be able to stop thinking the worst until it was over.

“Intelligence in the United Kingdom suggests that Red John may have gone international.”

Quickly, she bid Bertram farewell and ended the call. Unsurprisingly enough, that was something that she hadn‘t wanted to hear beforehand. The only potentially worse thought that had crossed her mind was the possibility she could lose her job. Budget cuts, after all, were biting and the CBI was having to tighten its purse strings considerably. Briefly, she glanced at Jane. He was continuing to pester Schaber, but the man was having none of it. Lisbon immediately knew that he would take this development badly; Red John was not superhuman and the concept of him acting in foreign countries made him seem all the more invincible. After explaining to Cho where she was going and requesting that he took the lead until she was back, she offered a silent prayer. It just had to be a copycat killer, that was the only logical theory she could grasp hold of.  As far as she was concerned, Red John had no plausible motive to kill outside of the state of California; it just didn’t have the same personal effect on Jane.

Bristol, UK, Wednesday, 11.21am GMT

“Remind me why we’re doing this again.”

“To offer our support to Liv’s mum,” Grace explained patiently, “to let her know we’re there for her and Maude.”

Franky still looked sceptical. It was hardly surprising; unlike Mini and Grace, she hadn’t had a chance to forge a real bond with Liv’s family. Those two had known Liv for years and had therefore had a chance to develop a relationship with Agnes Malone. Probably to the extent that they almost saw her as an aunt rather than simply a friend’s mother. As for herself, she was still the weird freak that the others had picked up at college. The girl who nobody knew if they could trust or not. Most certainly not the type you’d want to invite into the family home, whether your offspring was male or female. And besides, she had only ever seen Agnes fleetingly and really didn’t like the idea of sitting with a grieving mother. It was bad enough that she wasn’t sure what to make of the situation herself.

Apart from the fact that the killer, whoever he or she was, had style. Had an eye for beauty and irony. Franky still hadn’t been able to shake the pictures of the crime scene from her head. It didn’t bother her too much, not in the way that it had shaken Grace and Mini up. In a way, Franky knew that she wouldn’t mind if it remained with her for a considerable amount of time either. She was unique in the sense that she could appreciate art, even in macabre situations like this.

Mini was the one to knock on the door. Whilst Franky hoped that Agnes was out, she desperately wanted to get in from the rain. Besides, they had nowhere better to go. Of course, they should have been at college, but quite frankly, none of them wanted to face another day there. Not so soon after Liv’s murder. Really, they wanted to come to terms with it without having teachers breathing down their necks about pointless things like coursework and applying to universities. Life was brief, fragile and meant to be lived. And if talking to Agnes was the only way Mini could feel like she was doing something about the situation, then that was what she was going to do. 

It felt like an age had passed until the door slowly swung open. Agnes Malone’s eyes were, unsurprisingly, rimmed red from the copious volume of tears she had undoubtedly shed. She didn’t seem to expect the arrival of a gaggle of girls on her doorstep, either. However, Mini was relieved when she wordlessly swung the door open and allowed them in. Grace immediately disappeared into the kitchen, extolling the virtues of tea in such a situation. The others disappeared into the living room, where a gathering of sympathy cards was already beginning to take place. Franky was especially relieved when Grace returned, with steaming mugs of tea and a plate of biscuits. It provided the ideal excuse not to talk, not to slip up in front of a grieving mother. When the landline rang disturbing the silence, all of them were startled. Quietly, the girls listened to half a conversation, wondering who was on the other end of the line.

“I… that was the police,” Agnes muttered after placing the phone down, accompanied by yet another cascade of tears.
“They… they believe…”

“Take your time,” Mini whispered soothingly, happy to have taken the key role of comforter in the situation. “There’s no need to rush.”

“They… said that an… um… ‘international criminal mastermind’ was responsible. Red John.”

Part Six

Sacramento, CA, Tuesday, 08.14pm PST

“No, you’re wrong.”

Lisbon had never spoken so defiantly to Bertram before. It wasn’t because she was scared of the man, far from it, in fact. It was simply because, as director of the CBI, he commanded her respect. He wasn’t just her superior, but her superior’s superior. Special Agent Hightower glanced at her warily, concerned about how she had spoken, but Lisbon ignored her. She knew her boss was worried about the action she was taking, but quite frankly, she didn’t care. There were very few people who understood the Red John case like her. In fact, the only person she could think of with a better insight than herself was Patrick Jane.

Therefore, Lisbon knew she was more than qualified to be able to make the decision that this was most certainly a copycat killer.

And if that wasn’t the reason they had called her in to sit through a couple of hours worth of drivel, then what was it? They knew she had better things to do; she had a suspect in custody at that very moment. Not only that, but said person of interest was being subject to Patrick Jane’s version of irritation and that made Lisbon feel uneasy. How could she instigate damage control when she was stuck in a meeting with various fat cats panicking over a copycat, of all things? Of course she trusted her team, but it was one thing leaving them to get on with it and another actually being there if things did, for any reason, go astray.

“And what makes you say that, agent?”

“For a start, the victim has been shot,” Lisbon replied quickly, knowing full well that she was exactly right. “Red John never does that and...”

“He has, once. With those copycat killers in Salinger Mill?” O’Laughlin interrupted and Lisbon turned to look at him.
She had almost forgotten that the FBI agent had been invited to the meeting. Really, he had no place to be there. It was strictly a CBI case and therefore, he was a potential leak. Every time they got one step ahead of Red John, something caused them to end up two steps back. If O’Laughlin spread information about the case, about their progress, throughout the FBI, then there could be serious consequences. Only a trusted few deserved access to this case. Indeed, when Bosco - and her heart lurched a bit at the memory of her former mentor and friend - had been lead agent of the Red John case, even she hadn’t been allowed to look at the case files.

Unless, of course, they were going to suggest that the case be passed over to FBI hands.

That would make sense. It would explain why they were both present. O’Laughlin had experience working with them and therefore, it would make the transfer swift. But, damn it, it was her case. The one she had always been determined to solve. It would prove her worth as a senior agent. It would make the men she worked with stand up and realise that she hadn’t been promoted simply because she was a pretty face. Even years after the fact, they still believed that Minelli had given her job simply because she was a bit of eye candy.

“Jane was there,” she replied promptly, “it’s obvious that Red John wanted to give them a swift and painless death so that
he could deal with him in his own time.”

“Is it?”

“And besides, he’s never shot a victim and then carried out his distinctive cutting style, has he?”

Lisbon tried to steady her breathing after she finished her concluding statement. It wasn’t that she was nervous, it was more of a case of it meaning so much to her. Jane wasn’t the only one who had developed a personal connection to Red John. Though she would be loathe to admit it, it was partially because of him that she wanted to apprehend the serial killer. She needed to see justice served for Jane, for the countless other victims. For herself, because every time Red John murdered another innocent soul, she took it as a personal blow.

“That may be the case, but how can you judge, simply from a handful of photographs?” Bertram enquired.

Immediately, she went to retort, but Bertram silenced her with an authoritative hand. Instead, she fell silent and waited for the inevitable.

“The Red John case is being handed over to the FBI. You will be expected to act in a consultancy role, to aid them wherever you can,” Bertram announced and Lisbon remained silent. “Do you understand, Agent?”

“Yes, sir.”

Bristol, UK, Wednesday, 12.21pm GMT

“The FBI are getting involved,” Mini stated sourly as she slammed her wine glass on the table.

They were back, as always, at the Fishpond Tavern. It still felt uncomfortable, knowing that Liv wasn’t about to burst through the door at any given moment, taking them all off guard. She wasn’t going to be doing anything again. In a week or so’s time, they’d get a chance to officially say goodbye at her funeral, but there was a difference between mourning in public and actually moving on from a loss. Whilst several of them had already lost grandparents, it was different to lose somebody who was a mate. They had simply never expected somebody their own age to die. Besides, it was a reminder of their own mortality, that everyone dies sooner or later.

Nor did it help that Liv had died so brutally. If it had been a tragic accident, a drugs overdose, a car crash or something, it might have been easier to swallow. Instead, she had been cut to shreds by some psycho, who clearly had a warped perception of the world. It was a harsh reminder of just how few people they could trust in the world.

“What? The FBI as in the Yanks?” Nick suddenly outburst, taking the others off guard.

He had been particularly quiet of late. It seemed like since Liv’s death, he had taken even more of a solace in alcohol than before. Like he didn’t actually know what else to do with himself. Since quitting rugby and losing faith in his father, he’d been a shadow of his former self. Now, he was at risk of spiralling even further out of control.

“Fucking Yanks,” Rich echoed and Alo murmured in agreement. “Think they know everything.”

“Yeah, fuck them,” Nick agreed before taking a long drink of his beer.

Grace’s eyes narrowed slightly in response. She didn’t really appreciate the way that the gang was being so derogatory about an entire nation. For a start, one of her closest friends at Mayberry’s had been American, from Malibu, to be precise. However, it was weird for a law enforcement agency to waltz in and take over a case in another country. Then again, Agnes had said that this Red John character had been American, so it made sense. The FBI probably had tonnes of material that the Avon and Somerset Constabulary simply did not have. Besides, she was certain that they wouldn’t be taking over, simply assisting. That was all they could do when they were stationed thousands of miles away.

“I don’t think…” she started, but the words died on her lips.

“What I want to know is, how the fuck do they think they’re going to solve a murder investigation in another country,” Franky stated, more thinking out loud than anything.

“They think they know fucking everything, that’s why,” Nick answered. What with his father, he’d had enough of people butting into things they shouldn’t.

There was a mutter of agreement and yet again, they fell into silence. Alo continually glanced nervously at Rich. He had always seen the local law enforcement as being essentially useless. More interested in catching people who parked illegally or bothering kids for playing music too loud or the like than real criminals. But the Americans? They were different. All this talk about them being useless, it was simply bravado. A way to make themselves feel better, to funnel pent-up rage. This wasn’t the same as President Obama fucking up or them leading Britain into another seemingly pointless war. This was personal, it affected all of them. Besides, the US police officers always seemed like they had more intelligence, like they actually knew what they were doing. Of course, that view could have been partially warped by the slick crime dramas that Channel Five always showed, but still. Their justice system had always been tougher than it was over here.

And they’d probably work out that they’d merely copied Red John in an instant. Rich couldn’t have cut up Liv’s body that accurately, it wasn’t as if he was as practiced as a fucking serial killer. They wouldn’t even need to fly over here to see her body or see DNA analysis about whatever. Then, the police would know to start looking closer to home. It wouldn’t take long for them to come knocking on his door.

Alo could positively imagine his poor old Dad answering the door and having a heart attack when the police said they wanted to question him for murder. His health hadn’t been the best for a while now; something like this could quite easily push him over the edge.

“The question is what are we going to do about it?”

“What do you mean?” Grace asked and Franky stared at her firmly.

“The Yanks can’t do anything and our police are useless…”

“We should do it. Catch this genius killer or whoever,” Matty said, speaking for the first time in a long while.

“Yeah, we’ll show them how to do their jobs,” enthused Nick, keen to get started.

“Yeah. Fuck them,” Rich muttered, half-heartedly. Like Alo, he didn’t like where this was going.

Sacramento, CA, Wednesday, 02.01am GMT

After the meeting, Lisbon had attempted to persuade Bertram to change his decision, to allow the CBI full jurisdiction of the case. Of course, nothing she said made any difference whatsoever and that lead to her returning back to the CBI headquarters, in a thoroughly foul mood. She knew that the death of the English girl - an Olivia Malone, apparently - was unrelated to Red John. Though it was just a handful of photographs she had seen, she could tell the cutting style was different, almost amateurish in a way. Then, there was something slightly off about the smiley face. Of course, they would have simply argued that Red John had always altered his MO slightly, that he could have rushed simply because he was in an exposed environment or the like. But still, it didn’t feel right.

For a start, Red John always picked out his victims with some kind of thought behind them. There was always a link to him that, somehow, made sense, whether that be revenge for copying his style, something to unsettle the CBI or the like. And besides, the serial killer had developed a more and more personal vendetta against Jane. In the past few years, almost all of his victims were designed to affect Jane’s well-being in one way or another. His latest pseudo-victim was Kristina Frye. Lisbon couldn’t help but feel for the woman’s predicament. After all, she was trapped in a mental institution, convinced she was dead. That she had been murdered by Red John. Surely that was a fate worse than death itself? And the only reason she had been a target was simply because she had gotten too close to Jane. Therefore, what would be the point in Red John going international? Apart from to show off, of course. In all honesty, she had been expecting another attack closer to home at any given moment. It wasn’t something that she would admit, but Red John’s bizarre silence had lead her fearing for the safety of her team. If anything was to happen to any of them, especially Jane, she knew she wouldn’t forgive herself.

Irritated, she slung the manila file into the open box with more force than she had originally anticipated. It wasn’t just losing the Red John case, but she had come back to the headquarters, only to be informed by Cho that Schaber was threatening to sue the CBI. Why? Because Jane just had to overstep the mark, didn’t he. Really, he was like an uncontrollable puppy. As the file landed in the box with a satisfying thump, her door swung open. Quickly, Lisbon glanced up to see what the interruption was. In the end, she knew she needn’t have. It was the graveyard shift; most of her colleagues were at home, snug in their beds. Besides, only Patrick Jane entered her office without having the decency to knock first.

“Jane? What are you still doing here?”

“Oh, you know…”

“No, I don’t,” she snapped, glaring at him. Jane didn’t even have the decency to recoil under her steely gaze.

“What are you doing? Are those the…”

“Yes,” she interrupted, not even letting him finish his sentence.

“Why…we didn’t lose it again did we?” he asked and quickly realised from her stony silence that yes, they had. “Why?”

“The FBI are taking over.”

“What for?”

“Because they think Red John has gone international.”

As Lisbon slumped in her chair, Jane eyed her warily. It was obvious she wasn’t telling him some kind of sick joke as petty revenge for screwing around with Schaber earlier. She looked too tired, too stressed. And besides, she never liked to bring up Red John unnecessarily. It always reminded her how dangerously close to the precipice between sanity and not that Jane was standing. She always felt like she was dancing on a fine line around him; even the smallest of details could trigger him off.

“That’s…”

“Ridiculous? I know. I told them that. They don’t care. He has no reason to kill in England, but the British police are scared and Bertram‘s scared…”

“All it means is that somebody in England is potentially in serious danger. There’s a mole in the CBI; Red John probably already knows.”

Lisbon nodded in agreement. Red John never approved of slander, nor of people emulating his work. He appeared to have a bottomless pit of money and resources. Would he really just let it drop because it was in a different continent? All she could do was hope that would be the case. After all, if Red John really did decide to deal with his latest copycat, then he really would be going international. Then, they had no chance in hell of getting the case back at all.

Parts 7-9 Here

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