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we get what we deserve

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It’s all a game, but a long one at that. Jane’s smart, Jane’s collected, Jane hasn’t answered even one of the tens of messages Lisbon has left. Some days, he confuses the act with reality—he’d burned the papers, quit his job, lives a life that sometimes feels like the one he’d had before. Orders a drink and the purple strobe lights and glowing strings swirl around him.

He’s almost certain of who she works for from her first words to him at the bar—or maybe this is something he tells himself later to make it feel worth it. I’ve seen you around, she says, and behind her words Red John echoes I’ve been watching you; she talks about faith and his shadow looms over them, larger than life—as big as a god, or lack thereof. He tells her about killing a man. His hands had been steady when he shot Timothy Carter. Charlaine, his daughter’s name was, and Jane couldn’t help but think it sounded just a little bit like Charlotte.

He lights a man on fire. He strikes an officer square in the jaw. The breakdown is fake, but his enemies are real, and though it’s different not having a team to back him up, there isn’t a price he won’t pay if it’ll get him any closer. He waits in a cell overnight and waits for a sign from God, and when it’s not Lisbon bailing him out he wonders if that sign’s arrived.

She knocks on the door (room two-oh-three), slides him chicken noodle soup across the table. He doesn’t talk about Charlotte much, doesn’t have anyone to talk to about her, but he sees her in almost every girl, child to teenager. Some days it feels like he’s on the verge of forgetting her face, losing it in a million others. He doesn’t think he ever will, but the idea gets to him nonetheless. She would be sixteen, now. That’s a lifetime of years she’ll never get to have. He doesn’t see any of her in Lorelei.

A good man who’s lost his way, she calls him. He can’t help but question her judgement. You use people, like toys, Rachel had said. He never forgets her. With enough pushing, there are others who could’ve done what she did, he thinks. He wants to be a good man, but he’s never quite sure if he’s managed it.

She hides her face between the pillow and his shoulder, playing coy. Of course he can pick up a hint—it’s what he does. It’s hard not to. So he sleeps with her; never takes his wedding ring off. He belongs to his wife and she belongs to Red John and nothing Jane has had in the last nine and a half years has really belonged to him—the motel rooms, his team, his job—so adding himself to the mix doesn’t feel like much of a jump at all. Just one more thing to give up. Just one more thing to make it all worth it.

On the television, the big cat tears into the zebra’s neck. Through the carnage, it’s almost hard to see who’s the one scouting for prey—they meet in overlap, blending into the same creature.