scarlet

Vroom Vroom


“Did you get that?” Jane murmured into Cho’s ear as they walked away.

Cho answered without looking back, “Get what?”

“Those two back there.”

Cho stopped and Jane plowed into him, grabbing him by the waist. He was careful let go immediately. The showroom floor wasn’t crowded, but Cho was touchy about public displays of affection and Jane always had to watch that he didn’t touch too much or too long.

“What about them? Is it one of them?” Cho was frowning, looking over Jane’s shoulder. 

Jane smiled happily. “How should I know? No,” he touched Cho’s elbow and leaned closer, whispering, “didn’t you see? Kinsey is sleeping his way to the top.”

Cho raised his eyebrows. “You mean…?”

“Yep.” Jane stuck his hands in his pockets and rocked on his heels. “Westhoff and Kinsey, going at it like bunnies. Or, er, in this case, sharks.”

“Isn’t Westhoff married?”

Jane almost burst out laughing. Cho could be so naive and not naive, all on the same day, in the same minute, and Jane loved it. “Do you really want me to answer that?”

Cho tightened his lips and muttered, “No.”

He turned to the doors; Jane caught his sleeve. “Where are you going?”

“Back to the office. Lisbon wants me to—” Cho broke off. He pulled free and put his hands on his hips. “What do you know?”

Jane let go and held up his hands. “Relax. I just think it’ll be a good idea to hang out for a while. Get the lay of the land, so to speak.”

“We already know the lay of the land. The unit scoured the building the other day. You know that.”

Cho had on his stubborn face, the one that said Jane better talk fast or he was going to leave and there was nothing Jane could do to stop him. “Okay. Listen. Yeah, you’re right, they went over everything, but I have a feeling and you know what that means.”

There was a moment, small and tense, when Jane was sure he hadn’t convinced. But it passed, like it usually did. Cho sighed, his shoulders dropped and the suspicion faded from his eyes. Jane smiled conspiratorially and jerked his head. “C’mon.”

He led the way across the expansive sales floor, making a beeline for the red Porsche. Before he could touch the handle, Cho whispered harshly, “No. Jane—

But he was already sliding in, the seat giving way like it had been made for him. He looked up. Cho was standing there, hands on hips again, trying not to glance around to see if they were being watched. They were, but who cared about that? “C’mon,” he said again, this time soft and low, wheedling in the way that got Cho every time. 

Cho hesitated, then walked around the car, stomping just a bit to show Jane that he wasn't happy, and got in.

Jane closed his eyes and dropped his head against the rest—the combination of new metal, leather, and Cho’s aftershave was a powerful mix and he imagined turning the key, whipping a U out of the showroom, down to the garage, out to the side street. Then onto the highway, making a beeline west to the ocean. “Let’s go for a drive,” he whispered without opening his eyes. “Let's go back to that restaurant in Napa.”

“Let’s don’t.”

“You’re no fun.” Cho didn’t answer, but Jane didn’t expect him to. They were sitting in a car that was easily three times their combined salaries, amid a group of snobs that could write a book on the corruption of wealth, waiting for Liselle’s killer to show his true colors—of course Cho would be crabby and out of sorts. 

“So,” Jane opened his eyes and ran his hands over the steering wheel. “Who do you like for it?” The dashboard looked like something out of a sci-fi movie—sleek and futuristic. He pressed a button and a hidden compartment slid soundless open. “Cool.” 

“No one. Yet."

He turned the key in the ignition.

"Jane, don’t do that—”

Too late, Jane thought with a grin as music blared from the surround sound. Something by Ravel, which was way too boring for a red Porsche. He tapped the button a few more times until he found a station more in keeping with the occasion: a hip-hop beat that shook the car and was no doubt killing brain cells by the dozen. “Woo! Do you like that?” he shouted.

Cho just sat there.

“I like it. Listen to that sound! Whoa…” He grabbed the steering wheel and pretended to drive, like a kid. He knew the perfect place to test the car. Along the coast, tight curve after tight curve—

“Excuse me? Mr. Jane.”

Here comes suspect number one. Jane looked up and called out over the noise, “What?”

Brad Elias leaned over with a patient, smarmy smile, and pointed. “Just, over there—”

“What? Oh, sorry.” Jane made a show of fumbling for the controls and turned the key. The music cut off. 

Elias shook his head. “I’m sorry Mr. Jane, you can not hang out in the merchandise.”

Merchandise. Said in a tone of unconcealed false gentility. “Uh. Oh. Okay. Well…” Jane looked over at Cho. 

Who was watching him steadily, his calm expression saying, ‘Yeah, he’s an asshole and this is mildly amusing, but where are you going with this?’

Jane winked, barely, and turned back to Elias. “What we need is a test drive.” He smiled innocently, just to dig the barb deeper. “Down to the beach will be good.”

Elias’s smile turned mocking. “Looking to buy?”

“Absolutely. Well,” he amended, “not me. I don’t really care for this kind of ostentation. But Cho likes what you’re cooking. You think you could show us around the lot?”

“I’m so sorry, but our inventory starts in the low six figures, so I’d need a bank statement before I could book an appointment. Otherwise we’d be inundated with requests. You understand.”

Cho’s cell had rung while Elias was giving his practiced excuses. When he got out of the car to take the call, Elias’ gaze followed, as if he couldn’t help himself.

So he was either hot for Cho—which Jane couldn’t find fault with because, seriously—or…

Or, he was the shark tracking the prey because Jane could almost hear the summary judgement: 'just another dumb cop, but it's best to stay clear.' Only in this case, the prey was tracking the shark, but Elias didn't know that. And Jane was going to have to let it play out, let Elias swim into the net. So to speak. 

In the meantime, there was no rule that said he couldn’t have fun while he waited… “Yeah, of course. You’d make an exception for a friend, wouldn’t you?”

Elias frowned and shook his head. He was actually very good—he seemed genuinely sorry. “No.”

“Oh.” Behind him, Cho had finished his conversation with a snap of his cell. “Okay.”

“Hey.”

Jane turned. Cho was leaning on the door of the car. Probably just to drive Elias crazy with worry that he might scratch the paint and Jane waited for his objections, maybe something like, ‘I’m sorry, detective, but we don’t allow people who make less than seventy-five thousand a year to lean on our six figure cars.’ 

He didn’t have time. Cho murmured, “We got a lead on Sparhawk and the missing Ferrari.” He jerked his head. “Gotta go.”

All thoughts of playing Elias disappeared as Jane remembered his plans for the afternoon. “Oh. Could you do me a favor? Could you drop someplace on the way?” He got the keys and opened the door. 

Cho sighed and said, “Sure.”

Jane tossed the keys high into the air and Elias caught them. Just as expected.


***


Jane shifted and tapped the pedal and the engine responded with a smooth roar as he whipped into Lisbon’s parking lot. Just to scare her a little. To give her a little thrill because she really needed some excitement in her life, even if it was the kind that didn’t really count.

The evening hadn’t turned out well. The restaurant had been half empty, and the usually warm atmosphere was flat, without spark. Both had picked at their food, both had been preoccupied. No doubt Lisbon had been thinking about Mashburn and his offer, while Jane had been thinking about—

“Are you okay?” Lisbon called out as Jane took the last turn, again a little too fast.

“Hmm?  Oh, sure, fine.” He stopped in the middle of the narrow lane and shifted into neutral, then turned sideways. Lisbon’s hair was all over the place and the strands caught the parking lot lights in a kind of halo. It should have given her a soft, happy air, but it didn’t. She looked tired and sad. “What are you gonna do now?”

She made a vague gesture. Which was hard to do with the boxes of leftovers she was holding. “Some work. Do you,” she hesitated, then said in a rush, “do you want to come in?”

“What? No,” Jane shook his head with a soft smile. “No, that’s okay. I’m tired. It’s been a long day.”

Still, she didn’t get out. “When do you have to return the car?”

“Tomorrow. At ten a.m., sharp.”

“You going to take her for a drive?”

“Eh,” Jane said with a shrug. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. He was tense and a little blue, but underneath, a quiet energy was building, fire-hot and relentless. He waited for Lisbon to ask what was wrong, even had an answer for her: ‘It’s nothing, Lisbon. I think I might be coming down with something.’ Which was nothing but the truth, when he thought about it.

But all she did was smile briefly and open the door. She got out and put Jane's box on the seat. “Is that okay there?”

“In my car, yes.” Jane picked it up and twisted around. “In Mashburn’s car? Probably not.” He tucked it in the storage compartment between the seats, making sure it wouldn’t tip.

Lisbon had closed the door and she stood there, all awkward angles, as if unsure whether it was really okay to call it a night or if he needed more company.

She was circumspect that way, and as much as she got on him, she also allowed him space. Something he appreciated more and more as time went by—she knew how to sit back and let her people do their thing, let him do his thing. It was a kind of control that few people mastered. Of course, the downside was that control could be addictive… “Lisbon?”

“Yeah?”

“Do me a favor.”

She shifted the box from hand to hand, no doubt preparing for the worst. “Okay.”

Jane leaned over and smiled up at her. “Call Walter.”

She sighed dramatically and huffed, “Jane—”

“Theresa,” he interrupted before she could start with her list of reasons. “You don’t have to trust him, you don’t have to let him in. He’ll try, but you know how to stop that. Just call him and see what happens.” He tapped the seat for emphasis.

They stared at each other for a long moment and then she sighed again—this time amiably—and said, “All right. I’ll think about it.”

He straightened up and smiled again. “Good.”

“See you. Don’t be out all night.”

She’d already turned away, but he called out after her, “I won’t. Mom.” And then he was off, heading for the street.

He was nearing the highway, driving fifteen miles over the speed limit, when he realized where he was going.

He grinned because he should have known. He’d been thinking about this all afternoon, all evening. He got out his cell and pressed the number without looking, then waited, his heart speeding up. The cell rang more times than expected and he was getting ready to try again when it connected. 

“Hey,” Cho answered, sleepy soft.

“Where are you?”

“On the back nine, getting ready to putt.”

Jane snorted. “What is it with you and golf? No, don’t answer that.” He made a right and took the on-ramp to 99 a little too fast, but he couldn’t help it. The minute he’d heard Cho’s voice, the tension that had been building in his gut had ratcheted up and felt almost giddy with excitement. “Seriously, are you in bed yet?” He tucked the phone against his shoulder so he could shift as he crested the incline.

“It’s after ten thirty.”

Which meant yes. Which meant that Cho had watched the news, brushed his teeth, and was lying there, mostly naked, his beautiful skin glowing against the dark sheets. 

Jane snorted again, this time at his own florid imagination, and said, “Well, get dressed and meet me out in front in ten minutes.”

“I’m tired.”

“No, you’re not.” And before Cho could protest, he hung up. Then tossed the cell on the seat, gave the car a little more gas, and laughed out loud when she leapt forward.


***


It took six minutes to get to the river. Cho wasn’t waiting out in front when Jane pulled up; he was coming around the corner of the building, his duffle bag in one hand. He altered his course when he saw Jane and strode up to the car, the slightest trace of a limp in his step. He raised the door, stuffed the bag in the back, and got in.

He was dressed all in black—turtleneck, jeans, and leather jacket. He looked dangerous and sexy, like a spy about to undertake a difficult mission. Jane watched his profile for a long moment, enjoying the surge of desire, the anticipation of even just a kiss.

Cho turned and frowned. “What?”

Jane just smiled and put the car into first. 

“Where are we going?”

He touched Cho’s leg and said nothing. 

And somehow that was enough because Cho relaxed into his seat and stared out the window as Jane drove them across the city. When they got onto 80, Cho leaned over and asked again, “Where are we going?”

“This little place I know on the beach.”

Cho frowned and leaned closer. He smelled like toothpaste. “What beach?”

“You’ll see.”

“Jane—”

Jane waved his objections away and shot a quick glance sideways. Cho was absently kneading the outside of his thigh, near his hip. “What’s up with your leg?”

Cho made a face, but said calmly, “Nothing. Just chasing that ass, Elias. I pulled a muscle. I’ll be fine.”

Jane should’ve felt instant sympathy, but instead he was in the moment again, watching Cho start, like a runner off the mark, so damn fast and focused like he always was—

He shoved the memory back into its resting place—it was too soon; he still had an hour to go before he could do something about it. 

So he concentrated on the road, on the way the tall highway lights hurried stripes of gold across the car as they drove underneath, the way the chill air came in waves, like the tide. The traffic died down and soon they had little companionship. It was quietly wonderful and he felt as if they were moving through a dream. 

They’d driven maybe twenty miles when Cho shifted in his seat and asked quietly, “What’s wrong?”

Jane shrugged. He'd expected the question miles back. “Nothing.” And when Cho didn’t respond, he added, “Just glad to be done with this one, I guess.”

“How was dinner with Lisbon?”

It was a neutral question asked in a neutral tone, but that didn’t mean the answer didn’t matter. “Fine.”

“Where’d you go?”

“That place in Napa I took you on our third date.”

Cho frowned. “That was a date?”

Jane choked on a laugh and glanced sideways. Cho was frowning at the dashboard like it had just done something particularly annoying. “Of course it was. What, you thought I take everyone there? It's expensive and reservations are hard to come by.”

“No, I just didn’t realize. You said the food was good and that you knew the owner. I thought the meal was free.”

“It was not.”

“How much did it cost?”

“A gentleman never tells.”

Cho was silent for a moment, then he muttered, “You could’ve warned me, you know.”

Jane gave him a look and Cho finally grinned, faintly. “Yeah, that would’ve been stupid, I guess.”

“Hmm,” Jane agreed.

“Well,” Cho said as he shifted again, this time to face Jane. “what happened tonight?”

“Nothing. Just Lisbon not listening to my always stellar advice.”

“You told her to call Mashburn, didn’t you.”

Jane looked over and raised an eyebrow. “Rigsby?”

“Yeah, he and Van Pelt were talking about it when I got back.”

“So what do you think?”

“About Mashburn?”

“Of course.”

Cho hesitated, then shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t think he’s dangerous. To Lisbon, I mean.”

“But?”

“But there’s something off about him.”

Jane nodded. He’d felt the same thing. Mashburn was clearly hyper-intelligent and shrewd, and as Cho had said, there was something off about him.

“You’re planning on investigating him, aren’t you?”

“The minute I have some free time.”

Cho sighed and crossed his arms. “Just don’t do anything crazy, okay?”

“Will do.”

Cho grunted. Jane smiled and went back to the road. They were on 37 now, going more north than west, and the surrounding landscape had changed as well. Instead of wide-open nothing, they were driving through one housing tract after another. It should have been warm and homey, knowing that parents, children, cats, and dogs, weren’t a hundred yards away, settled in for the night. But it wasn’t. It was eerie and lonely and he wondered how many arguments, how many lies, had been dealt behind those innocent looking windows.

“Hey?”

“I’m okay." And then, because he didn’t want to stay in that dark place of pain, he touched the back Cho’s hand and murmured, “Are you cold? I can put the top up.”

Cho reached over and laid his hand on Jane’s thigh. “No, I’m fine.”

Jane covered his hand. And didn’t let go for the next couple miles.

 

***

 

Cho had fallen into a doze, arms curled around his chest, by the time they got to the unmarked entrance Jane had been looking for. He slowed down to a crawl and turned left, taking the steep hill gently, cautiously. The unpaved road was in good shape, but there was no sense in getting a ding from a loose rock. He was confident he could wheedle Mashburn out of any resultant anger, but he didn’t want to waste his honeymoon credits too soon. He had plans for Walter.

He shifted down and the car slid, waking Cho up. 

He stretched his arms and legs and asked through his yawn, “Where are we?” 

“Just south of the Carina Luna.”

Cho sat up and craned his head, although there wasn’t much to see—the up and down countryside took care of that. “Really? Where?”

Jane jerked his head to the right. He was getting close to the end and if he remembered correctly, the angle where the road straightened out was a fender-killer. “About fifty miles to the north.”

“Huh.”

“Yeah. Thought you’d like that.”

“It’s a long drive just to turn around.”

“Actually, I was thinking we could stop for a bit. Maybe take a walk on the beach? You brought a blanket, right?”

“Maybe I did, and maybe I didn’t.”

Jane didn’t have to look to know that Cho was smiling. “And maybe I’ll give you a ride back and maybe I won’t.”

“Then, yes, I brought a blanket.”

Jane grinned and braked. They were at the end of the road and it was just as he remembered—a sharp turn to the right that led to a tiny space to park the car. 

It had been years since he’d been to the beach, well before the birth of his daughter. Probably just after the marriage. 

He’d first visited when he was courting his soon-to-be wife. Her family owned a long stretch of beach and when he’d first seen it, he hadn’t been able to get over that fact—that they actually owned the sand he was walking on. By then, he’d met wealthy people of every ilk, but none at that level.

“Jane?”

Jane turned the corner, using the movement to center himself, to push away the bitter memories. “Yeah?”

“That sign said this beach is private.”

The parking area was covered with weeds and plants as if no one had been by in years. Lonely and desolate, but unlike the houses they’d driven by earlier, somehow comforting. “I know.”

“They’ll call the cops.”

“No they won’t.” He navigated the space, backing in, making sure he kept clear of the surrounding pines. 

“How do you know?”

“I know the owners.” 

“Who are they?”

“No one I want to talk about.” And then, “Hush,” when Cho drew another breath to speak. 

He put the car in first and turned the engine off. The sudden quiet was shockingly absolute and he closed his eyes, listening for the soft rush of the surf, the creak of the low pines—the sounds drifted into his consciousness, and yes it was just as he remembered. He drew a deep breath and turned.

Cho was sitting there, arms crossed, frowning at him. 

“You want to know how I know about this place?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll tell you, Cho. I promise. Just not now.”

Cho’s stony expression softened and he dropped his arms. “Okay. As long as I don’t have be use my badge to do any explaining.”

Jane smiled. “You won’t.” He pocketed the keys and got out. His back and shoulders were stiff from so much sitting and he opened his arms wide in an extended stretch, easing the tight muscles. If things went accordingly to plan, he was going to be using his back and shoulder muscles, a lot, in the next few minutes and it would be best if he was warmed up.

He smiled and turned. Cho had shouldered his bag and was heading for the narrow, tree-lined footpath that led to the beach. “Where are you going?”

Cho stopped and twisted around. “To the beach. You wanted to go for a walk, remember?”

Jane smothered a surprised laugh and closed the car door. He leaned one hip against the smooth metal and stared, finally letting the nine-hour memory loose… 

Of Cho watching Elias, waiting, because he'd caught on as soon as they'd left the showroom floor. How his stance had altered when Elias’s bravado began to falter. 

Of Cho, racing along the line of cars, jumping onto a Lamborghini and then onto Elias. And finally, not out of breath but breathing hard, cuffing Elias and dragging him to his feet…

“What’s up?”

Jane shook his head slowly. 

It had been beyond sexy, watching Cho do his thing, and Jane felt it all again—the rush of adrenaline that swept cold, down his spine to the bottom of his feet. The way his breath had sped up and his mouth had flooded with saliva. 

The fact that it was in public, that Mashburn was by his side the whole time, had somehow made it even more exciting, more erotic. At the time, the rational part of his brain had wanted to get Elias back to the office, but the other part, the lizard brain part, had only wanted to drag Cho to the nearest corner and have at him. Or vice versa.

“Jane?”

“Do you remember today? I mean yesterday? In the garage?”

Cho walked back, the length of the car still between them. “Of course I do. It was just a few hours ago.”

“Hmm-mm,” Jane answered, tipping his head to look at Cho from under his lashes. The moon was up but far away, and Cho was just a dark shadow against the dark trees. “When Elias ran and you took off after him? When you leapt on him, like a panther on a deer?”

He thought Cho would scoff, would laugh. He didn’t; he stiffened up and dropped the bag. “Yeah, I remember.” 

His voice had deepened, and Jane shivered. Which was odd because his palms were sweating. “And then when you cuffed him? You were so…”

Cho swallowed. “‘So,’ what?”

Jane smiled and turned his hips, preparing for the onslaught. “Fierce,” he whispered, “you were so fierce.”

He didn’t have to say anything else. Somehow Cho was in front of him, breath fast and rough, grabbing him, kissing him so hard it hurt.

And Jane let him, pliant and loose, making a curve of his body, bending back, letting Cho push him over the car door, opening his mouth wide.

He waited for the rationalizations, something along the lines of, ‘I’m not going to have sex in public,’ or maybe, ‘it’s too cold, let’s find a motel.’

Cho said none of those things. He pulled away, grabbed Jane’s hand and tugged. Down to the pines, pausing only to pick up the bag. 

When they got to the beach, Jane expected him to stop and find a place hidden by the trees, but he didn’t. He kept tugging until they were at the demarcation line of dry sand, wet sand, the surf not fifteen feet away.

Cho dropped his hand, unzipped the bag and got the blanket out. He shook it out, snapping it against the ocean’s cool breeze.

And still Jane expected words, but still, Cho stayed silent. As he reached for Jane again and took his mouth as he undressed him—jacket, vest, belt, removing the clothes, efficiently rough. He only faltered when he unbuttoned Jane’s shirt and the shirt blew open, exposing Jane’s chest and belly. He stopped, hands on Jane’s waist, staring down as if he’d never seen Jane naked before.

Jane couldn’t blame him. It was sexy, being out in the open, on display to anyone who passed by and he arched back, letting his chest touch the leather of Cho’s coat.

Cho groaned and pulled him in, kissing his chin, his neck, biting when he moved down to collar bone, to chest.

And that was all the passivity that Jane could manage—he wrestled Cho out of his jacket and turtleneck in one quick move, then fell, taking Cho with him. They removed the rest, struggling on the blanket, each trying to outpace the other.

When they were finally naked, Jane twisted around and reached inside the bag, while Cho covered him from behind, already hard against his ass. Jane fumbled at that because he didn’t want to wait, but he made himself concentrate, made himself focus.

He found the small, half-crushed tube that usually resided in Cho’s nightstand drawer and unscrewed the cap. Cho held out his hand and Jane squeezed. Too hard, and he burst out laughing as the lubricant went everywhere, as he rubbed Cho’s fingers messily.

And then he stopped laughing when Cho knocked his arm out from under him, and slid his fingers in.

It wasn’t gentle. It wasn’t perfect. Later on, Jane remembered that at one point he jerked the wrong way and hit Cho’s head with his elbow, hard enough to hear the clash of teeth, to hear Cho’s small snarl of pain—but still, in its imperfection, it was perfect…

On his belly in a cocoon that held only the earth, himself, and Cho—hot on his back, covering him, fucking him, grappling and growling. Doing all the things that animals did every day without thinking, answering the body’s demands without any sense of right or wrong—dominance, aggression, play… 

The fleeting thought made him moan and push up, forcing Cho deeper, forcing him on.

He came too soon. Before Cho had time to pick up his rhythm, and he lay there, reveling in the immediate lassitude, moving lazily with Cho’s every push and thrust.

When Cho came with a strangled cry, when he fell onto Jane’s back, he was shaking, breathing so hard he was almost panting. Jane fumbled for his hand and held it as his own breath slowed, as the world returned—the surf behind them, the muted roar of a jet high above, and that odd, no-sound hum that was the sum total of world at large.

He echoed that hum with his own and stretched out his arms.

Cho slid up and Jane prepared for, ‘did I hurt you?’ or, ‘what got into you?,’ and had even thought up the most appropriately smart-assed response, when once again, Cho surprised him. “I’m cold,” he muttered into Jane’s ear.

Jane choked. And pushed back, silently telling Cho that he wanted to get up. Cho pulled out and yeah, that hurt as well. Jane winced and closed his eyes, waiting for the pain to die like he knew it would.

Cho huddled up against his side and stroked his back, firm and possessive. “Sorry. Did I hurt you?”

Jane shook his head and smiled. Then rolled Cho to his back and climbed on top. He lay there, elbows on chest, staring down. 

Cho’s eyes were half closed and he was smiling as well, a soft, pleased smile. His hair was sticking up in little tufts and there was a line of sand on his temple. 

Jane brushed it off. “Cho?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you ever want a normal life?”

“I have a normal life.”

“No, I mean a life that doesn’t involve death or bad people. Something like that?”

Cho shrugged and repeated, “I have a normal life.”

Jane frowned—he obviously didn’t understand. “No, I mean normal, normal, like—”

Cho opened his eyes and said gravely, “Jane, I have a normal life. So do you.”

“How do you mean?”

“Any life a person leads is normal, if they’re doing what makes them happy, what keeps them sane. You know that. Well,” he shrugged again, and added, “if hurting or killing people makes you happy, then you need the help of a good psychiatrist.”

Jane ignored the levity. Apparently his earlier conversation with Lisbon had been sitting in the back of his mind, working its way free, like a splinter or a thorn. “So dealing with death on a daily basis is something that keeps one sane. That’s normal? That can't be normal.”

He hadn’t meant it to come out so harsh and Cho gave him a look. “You know what I mean.”

Jane drummed his fingers against his chest, because, yes, he did know what he was talking about; he’d felt the same sense of rightness, the same sense of purpose during his time with the CBI. But if that purpose was the result of a horrific event, how could that possibly be normal?

Cho sighed and clasped him close, his hands and arms warm against his cooling back. “You’re over thinking it. And if you have anything to repay, you’re doing it, right?”

“I suppose.”

“Jesus.” Cho sighed and reached wide for the edge of the blanket. He dragged it over them both, bundling them together, clothes and all. “Okay, what you’re saying is you want a normal life, right?”

Jane just shrugged.

Cho leaned up and kissed him. “I know you, Jane. You’d never be satisfied with normal. It would drive you nuts. And that would drive everyone around you nuts. You know?”

Jane smiled slowly, because it was true—he’d never, ever, had a normal life. He’d never ever wanted one. The closest he’d come was being husband and father, and even those two roles weren’t what most people thought of as normal, considering his life’s work had been built around being a showman and a cheat. “Thanks.”

“For reminding you what you already knew? Yeah, right. Besides,” Cho added with a sly smile, “you’d be so bored, you’d probably go back to ripping people off.”

That stung a little, but not enough to distract him from his first reaction and he bent down to whisper into Cho’s warm mouth, “And would you come get me? Would you chase me down. Copper?” He laughed, but his body was already waking up and he slid up, then down.

Cho smiled and rolled sideways, swinging his leg over Jane’s hip. “From city to city, county to county, state to state.”

Jane smiled, imagining it, imagining the thrill and the chase because Cho would be tenacious and clever and it would be a wild ride. “Hmm,” he murmured into Cho’s ear, smoothly sincere. “Just promise that I get to be there the next time you take down the bad guy.”

And Cho whispered in return, just as smooth, just as sincere, “Jane, if I knew you got off on watching me bust the bad guys, I’d have video-taped every damn arrest I’ve ever made.”

Jane laughed and when Cho pushed him to his back again, he went eagerly.



fin.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Story notes:
Patrick Jane/Kimball Cho
The Mentalist
5,500+ words
Episodes referenced: mostly Redline and The Red Men
All characters belong to organizations/companies that are not me or mine.