They were covered with a cream colored sheet which rippled lightly from the disrupted air travelling to meet them from the ceiling fan overhead. The room was still and quiet. Crews lay sprawled across a giant California king sized bed with the darker skin and hair of Jack's daughter in stark contrast to his pale, scarred body. Crews' hand was tangled in Dani's hair and her hand was curled against the hollow of his chest. They looked peaceful and happy. Jack raised his gun and aimed it at Crews. He imagined pulling the trigger and wondered what that would mean.
Why couldn't Crews have just died in prison?
Charlie felt someone in the room. After that many years living alone and having to watch his back constantly, he had a sixth sense about people in his space. He blinked awake to the image of a man pointing a gun at them. He instinctively gripped his partner, waking her. His vision cleared and the man holding the gun became Jack Reese. Crews' eyes looked for a weapon, a means to defending them, to protect Dani. There was none. They were dead and he knew it.
"Dad?" Dani found her voice as she recognized the man threatening them. She sat up holding the sheet over herself. "Stop pointing that gun at us," she demanded. She seemed certain he wouldn't fire; Charlie wasn't so sure.
"Don't move Crews," Jack growled. He lowered the gun, but did not put it away.
"How are you here?" Dani continued without concern to the threat he presented. Charlie reached for her, but she shrugged him off. "Roman Nevikov said you were dead. He said he killed you. How are you here?"
Jack shook his head in disbelief. "I come here and find you in bed with this fucking lunatic and somehow you're pissed at me? That's rich," Jack seemed to find this funny and his voice slurred a bit. "That little punk Roman couldn't kill me. He wouldn't...he wouldn't fuckin' dare."
Dani looked hard at her father. "Are you drunk?" she dared.
"Drinking…..not drunk," he replied argumentatively.
Charlie's eyes widened and his brows shot north. Dani looked at him and smirked. Not so long ago, she'd given him the same smart assed reply to the exact same question. Like father, like daughter.
"I told you to leave my daughter out of this Crews," Jack menaced returning to pointing the pistol at Crews bare chest. Nothing would stop the bullet this time. One shot and Charlie Crews would be out of his life for good.
Dani shifted to position herself in front of her partner. She knew that her father's anger towards her was a known; and his simmering rage towards Crews was an unknown. "He didn't seduce me. He didn't lead me astray. I'm here because I want to be here."
"Oh, no," Jack laughed, his mean streak was showing. "No, no one leads you astray kiddo. This is just another bad decision in a lifetime full of them."
Kiddo… Rayborne's words coming out of Jack Reese's mouth. Pieces fell into place for Crews.
"You made Rayborne disappear," Charlie blurted out.
Jack turned his attention back to Crews. "Nobody makes Mickey Rayborne do anything. But yeah, I helped him go away, helped him disappear. Word is he's no longer invisible. Word is you put him back in play."
"Do you know why that is?" Crews inquired pointedly. There was an edge to his voice that made Jack aware that though he held a gun, he did not have control of the situation. The naked man covered by just a sheet mocked him with physicality, rage and raw courage.
"Nope," Jack sucked his teeth and tried to be cavalier. "Don't know, don't care."
"Her," Crews put his arm around Dani and fingered her hair tenderly.
Jack shifted his weight like a man wanting a fight. "Take your hands off her," he demanded.
"No," Crews smiled icily. "I don't think I will. Unless she asks me to."
"Don't you dare let go of me," she whispered to him, but the room was so quiet Jack heard her. Dani ignored the dizzying amount of testosterone in the air and addressed her father. "He found your invisible man, because Rayborne was Roman's price," there was pride and awe in Dani's voice.
"Price for what? What'd Mickey Rayborne ever do to you Crews?" Jack asked snidely.
"Mickey Rayborne was the price of getting Dani back," Crews stated flatly.
"Back from where?" Jack's tone changed. No longer snarky, he became both curious and concerned, even through the drunk. "Dani? Back from where?"
"Roman took her," Crews mouth was now a tight grimace. The rage he felt toward the people who took Dani bubbled to the surface. "Roman hurt her, he made her beg for me to help her. Do you know what he had to do to her to make her beg? Do you ….Jack?" He bit the words off snapping them like dry twigs.
Dani felt every muscle in Crews' body tighten like a coil. It was surreal that she was naked in bed with her partner with her father holding a gun on them and what really worried was the degree of agitation she felt in her partner. She worried about what her partner would do.
"I'm okay. Crews…" she touched him lightly and he looked down at her, but his eyes were dark and cold. "Crews? You here?"
She watched him return to her. His eyes softened and just the corner of his mouth turned up slightly at their inside joke. "I'm here, honey." His eyes dared her. She didn't like the affectation, but she'd never say so in front of her father.
"Jesus," Jack Reese complained. "I'd say get a room, but look at you… I think I'm gonna be sick."
"Then why are you here?" Dani wondered. "Why did you kill Mark Conover? Why did you put Crews in prison for murders he didn't commit?"
"I didn't kill Mark Conover. And I didn't PUT him in prison," Jack shouted, gesturing at Crews with the gun. "The system did. I just got a call, showed up to a drunk primary Detective, three DBs, and a scared little girl. All I did was take care of that girl. You tell her Crews…"
"Rachel," Crews explained. His voice was still low and dangerous. Dani's blank stare showed her confusion. "You remember Rachel, honey. You met her here in my house that day…"
Her expression was pure ire; at his use of "honey" again. But another stronger part of her face read recognition, awareness and jealousy. She remembered his friend of the family and the tiny twinge of interest bordering on jealousy she'd felt toward the shy pretty girl on that day in his foyer. Now it made sense. Rachel Seybolt, the only living member of the family Crews went to prison for killing. And her father took care of her? It was all connected; the now and the past; her father and Crews.
Jack lowered the gun, turned and tromped downstairs toward the kitchen. Apparently the impulse to kill Crews had fled.
"If we're gonna bare our collective souls, how about the two of you get dressed and somebody make me some goddamned coffee," the elder Reese complained.
Charlie hugged Dani, kissed her forehead and then climbed from the bed to find his pants. This would prove to be an illuminating morning indeed.