Reasons to Say Yes

CHAPTER ONE

"Dani," Tidwell said clearing his throat and tugging on his collar.

She looked up intrigued. He never called her Dani anymore – now that they weren't together anymore. He thought she'd didn't like it, but in truth she didn't really care, but it was unusual and that garnered her attention. Then she noticed he looked nervous and concluded Crew had done something (again). He was supposed to be out helping with a robbery canvass while she finished up an arrest report.

Charlie hated paperwork, so she'd let him go "play." The moment the hint of her a smile of acquiescence crossed her face he'd sprung from his desk with far more enthusiasm than canvasses merited and bounced toward the stairs. His over his shoulder grin as she acerbically commented she didn't need his help flitted through her memory in the millisecond before she realized Tidwell was serious.

"What?" she asked flatly. Fear was tearing at the edges of her stable world. Charlie winked at her as he left promising he'd bring her a triple mocha coffee when he came back. But he wasn't back….. "What's happened?"

"I've got some bad news," he gulped loudly. "I think you should…well you are sitting, but…" he stammered as she glared at him. He walked to her side and put a hand on her shoulder. She looked down at the offending member and his brown-sleeved limb connecting her to him and questioned him with her gaze.

"It's Crews," he sounded somber.

"What's he done?" she said still unsure there was anything to worry about. It was not uncommon for Charlie to merit close attention from their boss – negative attention and as his senior partner it meant she got to deal with his stunts and questionable choices.

"Dani," Tidwell drew her name out until she looked him in the eye, "he's been shot."

It was good she was sitting down, because her world tilted and swam. She felt dizzy and yet nothing had moved. She couldn't breath and her boss had to remind her to. When the words left his mouth, all she could remember was Charlie saying the same thing, "breathe." That was his word to her during the exchange in the orange grove all those many months ago.

She grimaced and looked at Tidwell as if he'd slapped her. She still couldn't manage to verbalize anything, but Tidwell explained for her benefit. "He's at Cedars Sinai and I'm gonna take you there now," he coached. She nodded and tears welled, but Dani Reese didn't cry – especially not at work. People were watching, people she worked with and she'd never show weakness to them.

But Tidwell knew her, beyond work – he used to know her quite well, better than most, better than he should have. He still cared deeply for the young woman, but he knew her heart was irrevocably and irretrievably lost to her pale partner. He got her to her feet and steered her by the elbow toward the elevator, knowing they were being watched. Once the doors slid closed, he pulled her into a tight hug and she let him hold her while she collected herself. For just a few seconds she leaned on and relied on him like she used to – back when she was his. He still missed those days. "I'm still here for you," he said softly and squeezed her shoulder. He was comforting and warm, but he wasn't Charlie.

She wanted Crews and she wanted him in a way she couldn't express, but that made her feel guilty for taking refuge in Tidwell's arms. She pushed away and mumbled a "thanks," but distanced herself from her Captain. He felt her wall herself away from him. She shook him off and squared her shoulders, "I'm good. I just need to see my partner," she stared straight ahead. She hadn't even asked how it happened, who shot him or why. It was the reaction of a woman, not a Detective.

Tidwell told her the bare facts on the way because it gave him something to say. "It was a kid, Crews never saw it coming. Little punk gangbanger wannabe... A marked unit bagged him before he got two blocks. The kid was still holding the gun in his hand," he offered. He talked to thin air, because Dani Reese was somewhere else entirely.

She sat dully in the passenger seat as his words bounced off her like raindrops. She wasn't worried about a crime or evidence, where the crime scene was or where the suspect was. She worried about her mate, her lover, maybe someday the man who would be something far more dear – he was not her preeminent concern – he was her only concern.

When they arrived at the Emergency Room and she walked in ahead of him, arms wrapped around her like she was cold in the hot humid LA sunshine. He stepped in front of her and took charge, as was his duty. He introduced himself and asked for the tall red haired Detective by name. They pointed him to the ICU, explaining Crews had come through a quick surgical procedure, but was still in a medically induced coma.

The injury was to his head and they were keeping him sedated to reduce brain swelling the nurse shared quietly. Dani commented sarcastically, under her breath, "they shot him in the head? He'll be okay, Crews has a very hard head." It was gallows humor, a cop tradition for deflecting the pain of loss or fear. Tidwell saw it for what it was and forced a wane smile.

They moved silently to another bank of elevators and when the doors opened again the chaotic, hectic nature of the ER gave way to the morgue like stillness of the floor housing the ICU ward. There was a phone on the wall to contact the nurse's station. He picked it up and asked about Crews. There was a terse two-way conversation in which he said "no," a lot and then he hung the phone up.

Stress caused his shoulders to bunch as he tried to think of a way that he could tell Dani what the nurse said - that would not result in her coming completely unglued. He concluded there wasn't one. She was still mute and staring at the floor. She was in shock he realized, it was why she appeared cold – she was cold.

"Dani," he continued his familiarity, talking to her as a friend, not her boss – not even her former lover. "Only family is allowed in the ICU," he weakly informed her.

She looked up and the look on her face was a mixture of wonder, anger, pain - it quickly congealed into anguish. She bit her lip as it trembled.

"Do you know how to reach his father?" Tidwell asked gently.

She fished her cell from her pocket and handed it to him before she sat down, placing her head in her hands. He scrolled through the numbers and found Charles Crews Senior, listed in her address book. It would stand to reason she'd have it. He fingered the number but didn't make the call, instead looking to her for confirmation.

"He won't want to see him," she spoke for the first time. It sounded as though she'd suffered a blow to her head instead of her partner. She sounded like she was in space, her movements were wooden, affect stolid and her shock manifested visibly in everything she didn't do. She was normally a mercurial woman with a short fuse, but right now she wasn't Dani Reese. She troubled him more than her partner who was flat on his back in a coma.

Someone with training and expertise was caring for Crews – all she had was him. He felt woefully inadequate. "Do you think I should call him?" he inquired.

"No," she said dully. "Charlie hates his father. He won't want him here," she continued talking at him – not to him. "I should be in there, if only I hadn't been so…" she stopped, dropped her head and actually began to cry.

He'd never seen her cry and had no idea what to do. Her shoulders shook, and he could hear her sniffle, but she made no outcry. He walked to her side and sunk to the couch beside her. He draped an arm over her and pulled her against his side, "let it out." For a few moments, she let him hold her stiffly against his side, but she pulled away as if taking comfort from him was betraying her partner.

"Dani, I wanna be here for you. You need a friend right now."

This seemed to snap her out of her dreamlike state, "No, I need my partner and he needs me. You wanna do something for me? Get me in there," she pointed at the ICU door.

"I can't…they said only family," he defended against her sudden anger.

"He is my family," she pled with him angrily. There were hot tears on her face and heartbreak in her voice. For her, he tried again, this time going to the door and waving until a nurse came to the door and spoke in hushed tones with him. He showed his badge and the nurse looked left and right as if she were going to be caught doing something illegal. She motioned for him to wait and the door closed again.

He returned to the small waiting room where Dani was perched on an orange vinyl couch waiting. She looked up at him with hope and he simply shrugged, as the door opened with a whoosh as a power-assisted lever activated from the inside propelled it wide. The nurse came out carrying a manila envelope.

"You're his boss?" she confirmed. Tidwell nodded. "He had several very expensive items on his person the hospital would rather not be responsible for…."

Tidwell interrupted, "I thought you were going to help me get her in to see him."

"You help me," she negotiated dryly, "…and I'll help you."

Tidwell pursed his lips, sighed heavily and ran his hand through his thick mop of hair, "Okay, yeah sure," he acquiesced, "I'll sign for his stuff."

The woman dumped the contents onto a squat table in the waiting room. Charlie's Patek Philippe watch, his wallet containing a wad of hundred dollar bills and his cell phone and other items tumbled onto the table. The watch made a dull thud as it struck the table and Dani looked up. She fixed her eyes on a blue velvet box and she bolted from the room.

She hit the bathroom door across the hallway like a battering ram and the stone silence in the hallway made it very easy to hear her empty the contents of her stomach into the toilet.

Tidwell and the nurse exchanged pained looks. "What's in the box?" he asked.

"A very big diamond," the nurse explained. "I'm guessing for her."