Title: Trifecta
Author: A.j.
Rating: NC-17
Fandom: Life. Spoilers for "Powerless".

Notes: I have no idea where this came from. Love to Pieces for telling me this made a lick of sense. Blame her if she's wrong. Also, this has kind of been jossed by canon, but I still like it.

Summary: Three times Charlie and Dani fuck.

---

1. the band was old

The first time they end up in bed together, Dani's been sober for seven months and nine days (six hours, and roughly forty-seven minutes.) Afterwards, when they're staring awkwardly at the ceiling, she wishes that she'd drained another bottle of vodka because then there'd at least be an excuse.

"We've become a cliché, Crews." She can't look at him. Can't turn over and stare at the man who's just been inside her. And that hurts because she hasn't done this to kill the pain in months either.

She kind of hates herself a lot right then.

"I'm sorry." His voice is low and husky, which is just another glaring shift in their dynamic. His voice is never low or husky. No, Crews' voice is never low or husky. She has no idea if Charlie's voice is like this all the time. Or maybe she does now.. fuck, this is too confusing.

She nods and bites her lip. Her thighs are sore and her other muscles are loose, and she's not bothered to haul the sheet up over her breasts. Modesty is pointless right now.

"I..." She feels him shift next to her. Turn over and face her. He's always been the braver of them. She feels the tears well and slams her eyes shut so he doesn't see them.

God, she is such a fuckup.

"It's okay." Her voice is shaky and she knows she's saying it more to convince herself than to reassure him. "I.. it's okay."

And then his finger is running up over the ridge of her nose, over her eyebrow, and down the side of her face. It's light and fragile and everything she can't deal with. That she's never been able to deal with. Not without the drugs.

She blinks her eyes open and there he is, staring down. She bites her lip and tries to ignore the glow of the late afternoon sun across the pale expanse of his shoulders. Mostly, she fails.

"Was this a mistake?" He asks, his expression vulnerable in ways she's rarely seen. Rarely let herself see.

"I don't know." Because he needs honesty more than anything else right now. So does she.

"Okay," he says. Runs that finger back up over her brow and back down her nose. Taps it once and leans down to kiss her shoulder. She shivers and then her fingers are running over his face.

Then he kisses her, tasting like coffee and her brand of gum. When he finally pulls away, she's crying.

---

2. time is running backwards

The only reason she knows they've had sex a second time is because they wake up next to each other, naked, and she has the memory of him between her thighs.

It's possible there was someone else at some point, but when the pounding in her head ramps down enough to let her open her eyes, there's no one in the cheap motel room except them.

The ambient light is lower than it should be. The last thing she remembers besides hazy laughter and the dark hum of yes finally, GOD in her blood is threatening to track down all of the fruit vendors in a five mile radius of their stake out and blow them all to kingdom come.

Shit, she groans and remembers that kid on the bike and a pain in her arm and shit how the fuck are they going to explain this to the Lieutenant?

Her blood is burning in her veins, screaming for more. She's too strung out at the moment to know which 'more' it's craving; either sex or drugs, and neither is a good idea.

He's curled around her – she knows it's Crews because this long as his partner, she knows his smell almost as she knows her own – one hand wrapped around her belly, breathing into her ear.

She shivers and blames the cold, dry air of the air conditioner chugging away under the window. Nothing to do with the press of his hips against hers. Nothing at all.

Her groan is soft and pained, but she's got herself untangled and her legs over the side of the bed before he wakes up. Every bit of her skin is tingling, feeling stretched and unhappy over bones that are either too weak or too sharp. Their clothing is spread across the small expanse of floor next to the bed, her bra mingling with his pants. She looks down and notices that she's still got her socks on.

He moans behind her and it takes everything she has not to tense up. They've done this before. They can get over this.

Even if, this time, everything is different.

"We're okay, Crews." Her voice is loud in her own head and she winces before rubbing her face.

"I..." Not the most coherent of responses but she can't deal with that right now, so she shrugs and reaches down for her underwear.

It takes a lot to get dressed. More than she thinks it should, but by the time her shirt's mostly on, her headache's ramped down from 'migraine' to 'kill me'.

"We need to call an ambulance, Reese."

He's next to her then, picking his pants and boxers up just as slowly and carefully as she. And because he's right, she reaches for the phone – use the motel phone because she really has no idea where they actually are - before slumping back and listening for the dispatcher to pick up.

Then, for the first time that morning, she turns around to look at him.

And he's watching her like she doesn't even know, but there's fear there. Real and true fear there. She's never seen that in him. Not even during that bank job a few weeks ago.

Her hand tightens on the handset as she rattles off her badge number, requesting a bus, her voice only shaking a little. He's got his pants on now and is buttoning up his incredibly wrinkled shirt. The line of his back is familiar in the back-lighting of the window. She stumbles on the goodbye to the dispatcher as the after-image of him with his head thrown back and his deep groan of release echo in her head.

She puts down the phone, and they wait.

-

"Hot shot," one of the paramedics mutters. She nods, swallows, and offers up her arm for a bag of saline before slumping back against the wall of the ambulance.

Crews is next to her, his own IV dangling from one of the hooks mounted above them.

"At least it wasn't heroin," she whispers, rubbing at one of the small bruises on her arm. There's no puncture mark and they don't look like finger bruises. No, those are all over her hips and thighs. The finger bruises, not the puncture marks. The only one of those is in her arm.

He makes an odd sound and she glances up at him.

He's shaking next to her. Not a lot, but enough for her to realize that the speech he gave in front of AA all those months ago wasn't complete bullshit, and the pit that's in her stomach gets bigger because not him too.

What did you expect, he was in prison, Reese. Tatts, drugs, and sodomy are the order of the goddamn day.

When she finally looks at him, fingers cold around and balled into fists, he's not looking at her. He doesn't look at her for the rest of the trip to the hospital, and when they separate into different exam rooms – I'm not pressing charges, there was no crime, she whispers to the over-eager and over-sympathetic doctor who has no fucking idea how patronizing she is – he doesn't call anything out to her. He doesn't say anything.

-

They're on administrative leave for two weeks after that.

She spends most of it running. Literally. Withdrawl isn't as bad as it was the last time. Oh, the cravings are bad – bad – and she doesn't really sleep and the desire for just one more hit keeps her sweating and aching, but in the end she's almost grateful for it. Because it's something else to think about.

So she runs. Feet and iPod pounding out the miles, sweating and moving and avoiding the fact that her cell and voicemail are curiously silent, save for the weekly call from her mother.

She clears the physical with her GP and presents the results along with a log-book of her meeting attendance to the Lt. on Monday morning.

"Okay, detective?" The other woman raises an eyebrow and waits.

Dani knows that she's too exhausted to even attempt a lie. "Not yet."

Davis just nods and gives her a look like she knows exactly what she's thinking. "Go find your partner. Things have been stacking up."

So she does. What she finds...

She wants to say he looks terrible. That there was some outward sign on him that says "I Went Through This Too", but there isn't. He's sitting there at his desk, perfectly pressed, outwardly calm, and scribbling something in a file. He even looks well rested.

Which, amusingly, pisses her off.

He doesn't look up when she walks over. Instead, he stares just a bit harder at his file and makes a pointed note with his pen.

She shrugs mentally and rifles through her pen cup because if that's how he wants to play this, it's fine. In the last year, she's gotten better about owning up to her mistakes and emotions, but it's not something she actually likes.

Eyeing the stack of papers in her inbox, she shrugs out of her jacket and drops into her chair, resigning the next few hours to the mind-numbing bureaucracy that dominates her life. She's most of the way through updating her first report when he finally opens his mouth. It's... not what she expects.

"I'll understand if you want a transfer."

Still brain-deep in her form, it takes her a second to refocus and process. "What?"

And he's staring at her with that same look from back in the motel room. He's afraid. His hands are folded in front of him, knuckles white and he's just watching her. Like she's going to explode.

Her jaw dropped when it hits her. Oh, SHIT. FUCK.

God, she hadn't even thought of that-

"No." Her voice is steady. "I'm not transferring."

And if anything, he looks even more panicked. Not really, because even here, even with this horrible dark thing in his mind, he's still better at bullshit than anyone else she knows. Hysterically, she wonders when she got so good at reading him.

"Okay, that's it." She stands then. Throws her pen down and moves around their work area until she's standing next to him. He tracks her and jumps when she starts kicking the side of his desk.

"What?"

"Get UP, Crews."

She keeps kicking until he stands and then she's dragging him by the jacket out the door and down the stairs. She waves off the flinch he gives her and glares down anyone stupid enough to get in her way. Used to them, people just step aside and let them pass. By the time they make it out the front door and out into the plaza, he's dragging in his heels and making squeaky noises.

"You didn't rape me, you idiot." It comes out louder than she means it to and they both take a moment to check their surroundings. Luckily (or not), the park is empty at 9am on a Monday.

"Do you even remember?" He's staring out over the bushes and topiaries like they hold the answer to life, the universe and everything. "Because I don't. All I remember is arguing about dragon fruit and waking up sore. How do you know?"

"Because I do." She sighs and rubs her forehead and face roughly. "Because I know myself and I'm a horny fucking addict. You didn't do anything I didn't want you to do. And if you trust me at all, you'll believe me."

It takes a while for him to meet her eyes, but he does.

She doesn't back down. Just stares at him and waits until he nods.

"You never told me," she said. Knows it's the only time she can do this. This is entire conversation is one they're only having once. "About the drugs."

He shrugs, and that stupid fucking zen look he's perfected for everyone but her and the Lt. and Ted slides into place. Not entirely though. She wonders how she ever missed those shadows before. Her shadows. And then she remembers, in the beginning she hadn't cared.

Fuck, she thinks.

"Now you know," he says, and waits.

"One day at a time, Crews."

"There is only now?"

She smiles then. Not widely, but sincerely, and then nods. "Let's go get some coffee."

He smiles and cocks his head, not normal but an attempt. "And some pineapple?"

She glares and feels better.

---

3. i'm so much better than before

The third time they fuck, it's angry and much, much later.

She's screaming at him and, for the first time she can remember, he's screaming back, and then she's slapping him and they're at each other like she can't even believe.

His hands and nails are everywhere, which is something that's never quite happened before. Not that she can remember. There've been times she remembers scratching a man up, and she's worn happy, naughty bruises on her hips, but this is different.

There's nothing soft about this. Her hips slamming against the wall with every thrust of his and she can feel him scratching at her breasts and she's biting his neck and still screaming and ripping and fighting until their energy just suddenly seems to give out and they're sliding down the wall, photos ripping and falling around them.

He pulls away then; flops over like there's nothing left of him and this, and she's left spread open and gasping next to him.

Over a year, and he's kept this to himself.

And then the anger is gone, and she understands why it was there in the first place.

Later, pulling the remains of her button-less shirt together and trying to sort out how her underwire got bent like that, the tiny (and not so tiny) pains of her body intensify and flair.

She forgets, sometimes, that he's been to prison. That this redheaded zen person who spends most of his day trying to annoy her with pontification and obscure philosophy survived Pelican Bay for more than a decade.

She runs a hand over her face, avoiding his gaze, and her eyes catch on the lurid pink butcher paper that surrounds her.

His wall. His life and injustice and conspiracy laid out in technicolor photos and black ink.

The floor is cold underneath her bare ass, but she ignores it and finally looks at everything.

"What do you need me to do?" It's the first thing she's said, and when the words leave her mouth, she blinks, surprised. She's known he's a crackpot since the first day they met. Why should this make any difference?

When she finally looks at him, he's smiling at her. That half-smile that's sad and thankful and simple all in one. Her lips twitch and then she's leaning on him and listening to him while he tells her... everything.

When he's done and panting at letting it all out, she closes her eyes and nods against his shoulder. Everything.

"Okay," she says, and it is only a little scared when she realizes, here in his basement, his come drying on her thighs, she means it.

-fin-