She Doesn't Like to Be Touched…

The ambulance tech only meant to help, but as he reached for Reese, she flinched and something in Charlie Crews snapped.

"Don't touch her," he growled.

The medic ignored him and reached for Reese a second time only to find himself facing a snarling six foot redhead who magically appeared in the space between him and the dark haired woman patient.

The man repeated in a menacing tone, "I said… don't – touch – her," annunciating each word like it was it's own statement.

"How am I supposed to check her out if I can't touch her, buddy?" the paramedic tried to reason with her protector.

"She's just been through god knows what. She doesn't like to be touched and if… she wants to be examined…ask," Crews negotiated.

"Fine," the medic rolled his eyes, with a laborious sigh and leaned around Crews to make eye contact with Dani Reese. "Miss, may I check you for injuries?"

"I'm fine," she said tersely wrapping her arms around herself in a protective posture.

"Reese?" Crews inquired softly. He, unlike the medic, was well within her personal space, but he was welcomed at the moment, others were not.

"I'm fine," she repeated dully.

"Honey?" he questioned.

Her anger flared and her eyes met his, then she saw through his ploy, "I'm fine. He didn't hurt me. Really." She watched him believe it.

"Miss?" the medic was persistent.

"Scram," Charlie growled.

"I'm supposed to…" the medic argued.

"I said beat it," Charlie encouraged drawing himself up to his full height.

He closed up his kit bag and walked away defeated by the two most stubborn people on the planet.

"I think he's disappointed he didn't get to examine you," Charlie joked coyly.

"Life's full of little disappointments," she joked back.

"Here," he shrugged off his navy blue suit coat and draped it over her shoulders.

"The sun is shining," she pointed out the obvious. "How can I be cold?"

"Shock," he offered.

"I'm…" she gritted between clenched teeth as she repeated herself for the tenth time in as many minutes.

"I know – you're fine," he finished for her. His hand lingered just a moment as he closed the coat around her. "You're sure?" he questioned gently, just for her ears.

"I am," she vowed in nearly a whisper.

"Folks," Bodner interrupted. "We got company."

Kevin Tidwell burst from Jane Seever's unmarked car before it even rolled to a stop. He closed the distance between them in a matter of seconds. He wrapped Dani in a warm hug then unabashedly kissed her lips, whilst framing her face with his hands.

"My god," he gushed openly. "Babe, I've been worried sick about you. Are you okay? Do you need…. Hey, medic! Come here. She needs…" he talked excitedly.

"I'm fine," she barked and Charlie shouted simultaneously.

The synchronicity of their mutual response caused everyone in earshot to stop and stare. Tidwell looked uncomfortably back and forth, only just then noticing Crews' jacket draped over the small frame of Dani Reese.

She took a step away from him, and into the shadow cast by her partner. Even in the LA sun, he looked as cold as she felt., but she sensed he burned brightly lit from within. He matched her step, coltish in his unease, but inexorably drawn to her.

They didn't touch, Roman forbade it, but Roman was no longer here… Charlie had removed him like a farmer cuts away blight.

"Dani?" Tidwell's voice sounded small and far away, as she took another halting step towards her partner and protector. Crews watched her intently and his arms lifted slightly, impelled by his desire to touch her before he forced himself to be still.

"Crews…" Tidwell spoke to him sharply. "What's wrong with her?"

Charlie's gaze flickered to his Captain for a moment, then returned to encourage his partner. He stared into her eyes as she continued to approach him and laid a shaking hand on his chest. "She doesn't like to be touched," he said softly.

Then she stepped into him and lay her head against the soft blue shirt that covered his hammering heart. His arm gently embraced her without conscious thought. She sighed and he felt the weight of her against him.

She had surrendered to the safety of his arms, not the medic, not her boyfriend, him. That meant something. He lowered his head and rested his chin atop her head.

"He's gone," he murmured quietly, "you're safe now. No one will ever hurt you again." He let his eyes slipped closed and the world around them disappeared. Bodner, Seever, Tidwell, the paramedic, Bobby, the blinking lights of the patrol cars, the green of the trees, the sand in the air from all the traffic; it vanished. All he felt was her. He breathed deeply all his senses registered was her.

She clung to him, one hand against his chest, the other slid around his waist. His heart beat wildly at first, but now it was a deep strong sound that anchored her in the now. She felt his warmth and the familiar scent of his sweat. All that Roman had denied her, all she denied herself, was right there before her now.

"I wanna go home," she told him.

He didn't give her excuses. He didn't try to convince her otherwise. His response was a simple, immediate and direct, "okay." He reached between them and clasped her hand. It felt good. Then he led her toward the cars. "Seever," he spoke to an attractive, mocha skinned woman with dancing eyes and a sweet smile. "I need your car." She gave it to him without question.

Tidwell was stunned into silence. Then the chaos of Roman's car burning nearby and the appearance of a body inside created an eddy of activity that carried him away.

Crews opened the passenger door, she sat down and it closed behind her. She watched him all the way as he crossed in front of the car to take his place behind the wheel. His eyes never left hers.

The pretty young woman called Seever tried to speak to him, but he never even looked at her. She gave up all pretence and simply put the keys into Crews hand. She looked through the windshield and smiled at Dani.

If Dani Reese hadn't just witnessed the ultimate expression of love, she might have been jealous, but she didn't feel that emotion rise in her. All she felt was peace as Crews settled in the car and shut the door. The engine sparked to life and she watched as people pointed, stared and angry expressions began to form. Crews ignored everyone and in the shock and chaos, he simply drove them away.

Quiet descended and the steady hum of the tires on pavement became the sound she most noticed. "Where would you like to go?" he asked carefully.

"I'm tired," she told him honestly. "I just need to sleep."

"I know a place," he said simply and steered the car away from the fields and toward the coast. It took about forty minutes, but she stared out the window and the time fell away. When they stopped in front of a seaside resort, she smiled. He left for a moment and returned with a key and two bottles of water.

They parked at the last bungalow on a rocky stretch of beach. They walked together to the door, which Crews unlocked and then stood in the quiet darkness of a shaded room. Out the patio glass sliding door, the Pacific Ocean rocked rhythmically. A large king sized bed beckoned. She lay his jacket on the back of a chair and removed her shoes. He opened the sliding door and the sound of the waves washed over them. She climbed into bed fully clothed, curled up on her side and stared at the beach and ocean.

He loosened his tie, rolled up his sleeves and took off his shoes. He carefully climbed into the bed beside her. After a moment, he gathered his courage and rolled onto his side, spooning behind her and draped his arm over her. "Is this okay?" he asked gingerly.

She said nothing, but sighed and snuggled closer. His arm slid under her pillow and she settled against his chest. "I thought you didn't like to be touched..." he offered in a deep timbre with a touch of humor.

"Turns out…it only has to be the right person," she replied and felt the stress leave him. They lay like that, staring into the sunny sand and listening to the waves crash against the rocks beyond until sleep took them. Neither could recall when it was. They slept the sound, dreamless sleep of trust and a well earned peace.