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Flesh Wounds

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When Cho came home from work, he found Jane standing in front of the mirror with his hand on his throat, fingers tracing the pink ridges of the scar on his neck. The scar was healing well, no longer the angry red gash it had been just few months earlier, but it was still clearly visible even from across the room, and on those rare occasions that he ventured outside the apartment Jane had taken the habit of wearing turtle neck shirts. Cho could have chalked it down to vanity, but he suspected the reason was much more complex.

Because the scar was a reminder. It was Red John's parting gift; the final bloody grin painted across Jane's throat with a surgical blade.

Cho set the groceries down on the kitchen isle and walked to Jane.

"Did Lisbon call you?"

Jane made a noncommittal sound, but didn't say anything, his eyes still fixed on his reflection. It was a rhetorical question anyway - Cho had been in the room when Lisbon had tried to call Jane - and he was certain that Jane knew it.

He took a step closer, trying to catch Jane's eyes in the mirror. "No-one's pressuring you to come back. She just wants you to know that the job is still there when you're ready."

Some nights Cho found himself wondering if things had gone differently had he not been the first one on the scene - would Red John have still done what he did had the first person to walk in been just some random SacPD officer - or had it all been just for Cho's benefit.

He still couldn't remember everything that had happened that day. He'd had the mandatory psych evaluation afterwards ("If he offers you something to drink, run," Jane had told him with a raspy laugh when they'd talked about it) and the department psychologist had told him that it was not uncommon after a traumatic event like this.

The last thing he remembered clearly was walking into the warehouse to find Red John holding a knife at Jane's throat. After that it was nothing but random flashes and fragments of memory until the paramedics arrived. The almost comical look on Jane's face when Red John suddenly slashed his throat. The kick of his gun when he pulled the trigger and shot Red John. The slick warmth of the blood between his fingers when he pressed his hands on Jane's throat. The desperate sound of Jane gasping for breath. The cold feeling of dread pooling in the pit of his stomach as he prayed that Jane would keep on fighting even with Red John now gone.

Cho closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to clear his mind before the images pulled him in too deep. He stepped behind Jane and put one hand on his waist, pulling him closer, and then raised the other one to the hand on Jane's throat.

"If you're not going to work, the least you could do is to clean up the place while I'm gone."

It was a cheap blow, especially since after Jane had sold his house, he had more money on his bank account than Cho expected to make in the next ten years, and most of their arguments in the last few weeks had been about Jane's insistence to pay for everything.

Jane turned around, easily slipping into Cho's arms in such way that for a moment it almost seemed like they were dancing.

"I did the laundry last week."

"You paid the kid next door to take your suit to the dry cleaners. That's not doing the laundry."

"Meh. Semantics."

Jane leaned forward and tilted his head, pressing his lips on Cho's. He pulled them closer together, his hand travelling up Cho's arm until he cupped the back of Cho's head, his fingers idly carding through his hair. Cho mirrored Jane's movement but stopped when his fingers brushed against the scar. Jane pulled away.

"It's only a flesh wound," he said, a small smile grazing his lips.

It was an old joke, and a stupid one, made worse by the images it summoned. When Cho closed his eyes, he could see the crimson arc of blood paint the floor red as the knife suddenly slashed across Jane's throat, could almost imagine being back in that warehouse with Red John and Jane. He forced his eyes open and tried to focus on the present, wishing that he'd never seen the damned movie.

Jane's smile faded. He put his hand on Cho's shoulder, gently kneading the tight muscles.

"I'm sorry," he said, then theatrically rolled his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. "The next time she calls, I'll answer."

Cho swallowed, his mouth suddenly so dry that it was difficult to speak. "Okay."

He raised his hand to Jane's neck again, hesitating only briefly before touching him, and this time when his fingertips brushed over the scar, neither one of them pulled away.

The scar was a reminder. A reminder that there was no such thing as happily ever after. That there were now two of them lying awake at night in fear of dreams painted with blood.

But it was also a reminder that in the end Red John had failed. A reminder of that moment in the warehouse when Cho had looked into Jane's eyes and had known that Jane had decided that there was more to his life than just killing Red John. A reminder that even after everything, they still had each other.