She looked at him as he walked in, a tall, lean man with broad shoulders, a shock of orange hair and pale blue eyes that were usually sparkling with good humor. No sparkle in his eyes today, she noted. Forgetting about the case, about the body, the blood, completely blank, she gazed at him, wondering if anyone who didn't know him or know about him would ever guess that this man was in a cage for the last 12 years, where he was subjected to every kind of horrendous torture that existed in the human mind. Where he was a ruthless, brutal and cruel monster, marking his territory and defending it without compunction. The same man, the very same man was capable of being an 8 year old boy, innocent, curious and full of wonder. Irritating too. She couldn't even begin to get those two images together in her head.. What made Charlie Crews? What was he thinking when he smiled those quirky smiles of his, head bent to one side? What went on in that mind of his?
"Um..yeah. Crews. Victim's Jerry Schnider, 6 years old, lived with his step father. Looks like...he was beaten to death."
"Looks like that."
His eyes clouded over, and he stood absolutely still, looking at the broken child. As she looked, his hands curled into tight fists.
She tore her eyes away from his fists. "Mother's dead...died of cancer two months ago. Step father's on the run, we got his description out...its only a matter of time."
"Only a matter of time. Get the body to the coroner. Let's go Reese. We need the warrant."
What was he thinking? She would have given anything to know. He was unusually quiet beside her, no jokes about her driving the car, no random banter, no Zen.
"Crews? Something on your mind?"
He started, and looked at her, eyes still clouded.
"No, nothing, just..it's been an year since I was out. An year."
"And...I still don't know who sent me in."
('Say something! SAY something!')
Nothing came out. She tightened her grip on the wheel and concentrated on driving.
"Coroner's report got back. He was.... Crews? You listening to me?"
He looked up at her from across the desk, where he was fiddling with his knife.
"He was... ?"
"Yeah, okay, He was beaten to death. And...13 bones were broken, including three ribs, both legs and most of the fingers. And...god...they found traces of semen in his...on his...on him."
She gasped as the blade, with a sharp metallic sound, popped out of his knife. She put away the report as she looked at him. His eyes were dark grey, like a brewing storm, and his face...oh god his face...it looked like the weight of a thousand nightmares just fell on him. His jaw was set, a muscle was twitching by his temple.
"Crews? Crews! What's wrong? You look like..."
She gasped again as he got up with so much force that his chair fell back with a resounding thud. He walked off without a backward glance, one fist still holding the open knife.
('Stop it Dani. Don't do this. Don't do this.')
But she had to. She had to think about him, about his reaction, and about his past. What did he go through in there? What was he subjected to? What all monstrosities was he forced to endure?
('God no... no...don't think about it, don't even go there')
Was he broken like Jerry Schnider? Was he broken like the little boy? She knew about the beatings, the bone breaking and the cutting, she had imagined every last detail, much to her disgust, but this... she'd stayed away from this till now. How could a man survive that and live on? How did he have it in him to get up everyday, to fight? How could there not be a monster inside him, created by his tormentors?
('That's why you're attracted to him aren't you? You want to see the monster in him. You don't want to know what makes Charlie Crews. Oh no. You want to know what breaks Charlie Crews. You want to see his dark side. You want him to lose control, let his monster free, because you like monsters don't you? You want him to lose control just like you did, because only then, only then you'll know what makes him Charlie Crews. What breaks him. You want him to find that bastard and beat the shit out of him, break all his bones and beat him to pulp, cause seeing him like that, uncontrollable, like a wild beast, gives you such a rush, because you want the same. You want him to punish you, cause that feels so good. You want him to grab you and hurt you and take you anyway he wants, and you want to revel in his control, in his brute strength, because that's the one thing you miss, the one thing you need...the pleasure of losing control.')
She gasped as a bolt of electricity ran down her spine.
('ENOUGH! Stop this before it gets too late, before you fuck up again! Stop this!')
Tears prickled her eyes, and she took a few deep breaths to collect herself.
"Dani? The DNA matched. The warrant came through, and they found the step dad at his mother's place. Your partner called in. He's on his way. He said you weren't answering your phone. Here's the address." The lieutenant looked at her, concerned. "You okay Dani?"
"I'm good lieutenant. I'll be on my way."
She saw him turn into the driveway a minute after she reached. His power, his rage, hit her like a physical wave, sending bolts of lightning down her spine. He walked slowly to her, gently undid his badge, gun and knife and held them out to her. His voice was gentle, barely above a whisper. It felt like a blade sliding across her skin. She couldn't look away from his eyes.
"I'm going in Reese. I know he's in there. I can feel him. I've felt people like him before. I need to go in like this. Whatever I do in there, it'll be self defense. You can tell them that. You stay out here. You can tell them the truth, cos you didn't see anything. Do you understand me Reese? Do you?"
"I want in on this Crews. That monster in there has it coming for him. I want to see him get it as much as you do. I'll back you up Crews. I'll tell them he put up a fight. This stays between us."
"The doctor said he'll have to spend at least a month in the hospital. He can barely speak because of his injuries and he has massive internal bleeding. Both his shoulders were dislocated and he has more broken bones than his son did. How're you doing?"
He stopped bandaging his hand and looked up at her. There was satisfaction in his eyes. Primitive, animal satisfaction that set her blood pumping. His lip was cut and he was bleeding from a dozen places all over his body.
"Here, let me get that."
She picked up a tissue and dabbed at his lip, and proceeded to clean the rest of his face up with intense concentration. She was almost done when he grabbed her hand and asked her.
"Reese. Still want me as your partner?"
A very rare smile bloomed across her face as she looked into his eyes.
"Oh yes Crews. Oh yes. No one else will do."
He smiled too. One of his head-bent-to-the-side smiles.
"Good to know that, Reese. Good to know that."