Tequila and Tuesdays
Set: Following the events in one – about two weeks after.
Disclaimer: Life and the characters from it are the intellectual property of Rand Ravich and Far Shariat. I'm just playing with them, since NBC is not using them (bastards).
"Where is she?" Tidwell asked as he stepped out of his car to meet Officer Bobby Stark curbside near a very low rent bar on the east side.
"She's at the end of the bar with some big mean looking dude in an Outlaws biker jacket, all tatted up….," Stark said tersely, nodding in the direction of Reese and the biker. Tidwell shot him a dark look but it wasn't Stark's fault.
Nonetheless the patrolman stammered on nervously, "Him… ah…he's all tatted up. I have no idea about Detective Reese." Tidwell shot him another stern look and Stark stared at his shoes. "But…she's uh….been in there awhile Captain. She's…uh."
"What Stark?" Tidwell asked irked.
"She's feeling no pain. She's really lit up," the patrolman finished almost apologetically. "Bartender's an old friend, he called said she looked as if she was looking for trouble. I think she found it."
Tidwell was beyond annoyed, beyond disappointed; he was heartbroken and there wasn't a damned thing he could do about it. Two weeks after Dani Reese escaped certain death at the hands of that brutal bastard Roman Nevikov, their relationship had simply fallen apart. She'd turned away and never looked back. He couldn't get two words with her to ask what he'd done or said. She was a stonewall repelling all comers, like a castle in the Crusades.
For reasons he couldn't understand she was also pissed off at the world in general again. She wavered between fierce defense of her now officially suspended partner and outright hostility towards him. Crews' Herculean efforts to win her freedom resulted in his prompt and immediate suspension until the department could construct the sequence of events and do away with him once and for all. Crews however, took it in stride.
"There are no accidents," he said cryptically and handed over his gun and badge, while Reese railed at the injustice. She was pissed at IAD for their treatment of her partner, pissed at him for not fighting the suspension harder and pissed at Tidwell it seemed for simply drawing breath. He couldn't seem to do any right in her eyes.
Even after she learned how hard he'd searched for her, she curtly responded, "I wouldn't have been there if someone hadn't thought it was a good idea for me to work at the FBI." She didn't need to explain. The FBI was a setup and she believed he knew it when he sent her there. She told IAD all the FBI ever asked her about was Crews. They could barely contain their pleasure, she stomped off and slammed doors and drawers accompanied by glares until he suggested she take a few days off.
Dani was returned to duty after a medical check gave her a clean bill of health and the department shrink rubber-stamped her clearance. You could fill volumes with what that man did not know about Dani Reese, Tidwell thought, but he could tell she was not ready to be back.
Even Tidwell could see the mutually classic passive aggressive behavior, but neither Crews nor Reese was telling him squat. Reese fought, Crews retired. Two sides of the same coin, darkness and light, ferocity and calm, yin and yang; they were both friggin idiots who deserved each other he thought. But right now he focused on how to get his Detective out of the bar.
"Stay here," he told Stark. Stark needed no convincing. What was going to happen inside that bar needed as few witnesses as possible because if it went down like he suspected, Tidwell was going to drag Reese from the dark bar in handcuffs.
"Detective," Tidwell said loudly to Dani's back. The biker stood up and Tidwell flashed his shield. The biker to his credit eased back into his seat, nudged her shoulder and pointed behind her.
Dani studiously ignored both men and drank another shot of what looked like tequila. "Dani," Tidwell grabbed her shoulder and spun her to face him.
"Fuck off," she laughed, a sneer marring her pretty features.
"You need to leave this place now," he said in her ear, close. Too close.
"I'm off duty," she pushed him away.
"And still in the program," he reminded her. "I don't wanna take your shield Reese, but I will if you don't walk out of here right now."
"Here," she threw it at his chest, "take it. I don't want it anymore."
"Dani, be reasonable," he coaxed. Her eyes flared a fire that he remembered from another time, a warmer time when what she felt for him was passion, not enmity.
"I told you to get lost. Do us both a favor and get the fuck out of here. And take that little rat fuck snitch of yours Stark with you." Hatred shone in her eyes.
The biker shrugged and pulled on his longneck, wisely staying out of it.
"Fine," Tidwell pronounced now angry himself. He wasn't angry with her, he was angry at what he was going to have to do. "Do you want me to arrest you for public intoxication?"
"You do what you gotta do, Captain," she challenged, her chin tipped in the air like an invitation to fight. He shook his head, his long dirty blonde locks hanging in his eyes and turned on his heel and walked away. Her laughter reached him before he got to the door. It sounded shrill and unnatural. He pulled out his phone and made a call he didn't want to – to the one person who could get through to her – Crews.
"Crews," the tall, lean man pronounced crisply into his phone answered on the third ring, after he'd climbed from his patio meditation to find it in his hoodie pocket.
"Crews. It's Tidwell."
"Lemme guess, LAPD called to say they're sorry and I'm gonna be made 'Officer of the Month'," he said wryly, while wiping the sweat from his brow. Even this late at night the canyon was hot from the summer sun and the wildfires marking the landscape. Meditation was actually more physically demanding than people thought.
"'Fraid not," Tidwell had to admire the man's spunk. "I need your help. It's Reese."
"Where is she?" Crews was suddenly all business and moving from the sound of things. Tidwell heard a door shut and car spark to life.
"Bar on the lower Eastside called Shorty's. Know it?"
"Yeah, yeah I do," he said softly and with great sadness in his voice. He didn't have to tell Crews anything – the man knew. He knew Reese in ways Tidwell never could, like he wished he had. "You should leave," Crews told him.
"I'll just wait..."
"No," the suspended Detective interrupted, "you can go. I'll get her."
"She won't come out." Tidwell said what didn't need saying.
"Yes, she will," Charlie said.
"How do you know?" The Captain asked sounding small and unsure.
"Because I'm not leaving there without her," he said, abruptly ending the call without a hint of Zen in his voice.
Reese was somewhere between her fifth and tenth tequila, the room was pleasantly shimmering and she was about two shots away from passing out. She leaned into the sweaty biker, smelling leather and stale beer. She knew this man could punish her like she wanted. He would use her and ask no questions, want no numbers or names.
The biker once again stood up and looked beyond her. Mother fuckin' Tidwell again, she thought setting her jaw, determined on looking angry instead of just three sheets to the wind.
"You a cop too?" the burly biker asked with a sneer, underestimating the tall, thin man before him, like most people did.
"No," the soft voice responded from just behind Dani's ear. "I'm not a cop, I'm just here for what's mine," he told the biker. The stiff posture and direct eye contact told the biker this was not a man to be trifled with. As Crews' sultry voice reached her ears, Dani froze; a white-hot rush of panic pushed at the edges of her reality.
"And that would be?" the biker pushed.
"Her," Charlie said clearly.
Dani flushed and then paled. She wanted to whirl to face him, but knew it was beyond her ability to maneuver that effectively at this point. Instead she stood stock still like a deer caught in the high beams of an oncoming car. She could feel the crash coming before it actually happened. She reached for another shot – just one more and she'd fade into oblivion.
His hand slammed the glass back to the bar. "No," he said harshly in her ear. "Now, you and I are going to walk out of here…or I can carry you out. You decide. But either way you are coming with me."
His breath was hot in her ear. His hand burned down her wrist as she released the glass and he pulled her under his shoulder. Crews' dropped two crisp 100's on the bar and told the biker, "for watching out for her." The man nodded and kept the money, but let the girl go.
Crews steered her to the doorway, holding her upright when she stumbled. She wasn't embarrassed, she was enraged and when they got outside she was going to let him have it with both barrels, but they never made it that far. He beat her to the punch, pulling her against the long line of his body in an alcove leading to the bathrooms.
"You will not make a scene. You will do exactly as I say and we'll talk about this in the morning." He grabbed her chin, roughly forcing her to look into his eyes and he held them until she looked away in shame, bit her lip and nodded.
"Say the words, Dani," he commanded.
"Fine, I'll go with you," she angrily told him as her world got blurrier and those damned blue eyes of his bored into her. With Crews there, her safety was restored and no matter how angry she was at him, her body and mind relaxed instinctively, letting the liquor take hold. She sagged against him and her head dropped to his shoulder, "but this is not the end of this," she added presciently.
"Oh…not by a long shot," he promised into her hair, permitting himself a long drag of the air holding her in its embrace. It was a heady mixture of her shampoo, the tang of her sweat and that intangible essence of her that he missed every day like a junkie misses heroin. He permitted himself the confession because he knew it would not be remembered, "I missed you too." She nodded a weary reply against his shoulder.
He almost had to carry her to the car, where a very subdued Bobby Stark waited with the passenger door ajar. Charlie clapped a thank you on his old partner's shoulder and looked him in the eye. Nothing was said between the two men, there was nothing to say….
He did have to carry her to the house and then to the waiting bed. He stripped off her tiny, but tall boots and socks marveling for moments at the smallness of her feet and toenails painted a bright red. He pulled off his own t-shirt and then unbuttoned her blouse and removed it. He strove to focus on the task, instead of her soft hair at his neck as she lay against his shoulder. His hands trailed down her arms with feather light touch over the smooth skin there as slipped his t-shirt over her head and then gently reached under it to undo her bra and slip her arm through the loose armholes.
Lastly, he laid her on the bed and unzipped her pants and tugged them off by the legs. Naturally, she had to be wearing no underwear and he groaned in the agony of having something he wanted that close and yet, so very far away. He covered her with the duvet and grabbed a pillow and headed for a cold shower first, then the couch, far away from the object of his desires.
It was those desires, his and hers, that he gave voice to in the bar. Those were what she responded to instinctively. She came with him because she wanted to – but she was going to fight like hell when she came to. That was when the real battle would begin.
Dani Reese awoke to a grinding noise that sounded as if someone was cutting into her head with a buzz saw. She squinted awake and found herself in a large white room with a cathedral ceiling and floor to ceiling windows letting in the bright LA sunshine – which was effectively splitting her head in two like an axe through cord wood.
She pivoted up and away from the light and found herself staring at her clothes draped neatly over a chair. She was still unstable, but looking around for balance, clarity. Last night's mark, the biker, could not afford digs like these.
"So not biker guy's house…" she spoke to herself.
She looked down to find two aspirin, a glass of water and a note in her partner's scrawl. It read, "I'm making breakfast, come down when you're ready – but shower first." It was signed with a smiley face. Crews.
Then it rushed back to her in a series of flashes, snapshots in time complete with senses, smells, the scent of his cologne, the softness of his jersey hoodie. Crews' hard dark tone laying claim to her and his hands burning her everywhere he touched. Crews in a darkened alcove with her pulled tightly against him and every inch of his hard-on steel against her skin. What? His determined eyes and freckled face inches from hers promising this would continue, hiding a hint of a knowing smile. What would continue?
The stern look on his face in that bar and the scent of his aftershave as he held her close rushed back. It was so fresh, so real. She reached down and pulled the shirt to her nose – it smelled of him. What the hell had happened? she wondered. Did I just sleep with my partner? Then she shook her head. She would have, but Crews would never have taken advantage of her state. She knew him and Charlie Crews didn't work like that.
She showered and pulled on her jeans and a LAPD sweatshirt he'd left for her. She brushed her hair and retied it in a ponytail with the rubber band in her jacket pocket. Her clothes reeked of cigarette smoke and tequila. Crews had once again come to her rescue and she wasn't sure she could face him. She thought hard about just leaving, but had no idea where her car was.
The grinding noise, she'd realized was the juicer.
"Can you give it a rest?" she pointed at the juicer holding her head with one hand.
"Sure," he smiled a blinding row of white teeth. "Want some? Fresh squeezed?"
"Pass," she said in dour tone.
"Here," he slid the glass at her. "You need to rehydrate."
"Do you have to have fruit with every fucking meal?" she groused.
"You kiss your mother with that mouth?" he shot back.
She just fixed her most fearsome glare on him and it bounced off as he smiled softly.
"Hangover? Thought so. That look was pitiful. Hardly worthy of you," he chuckled.
"You gonna lecture me about drinking now?" she taunted.
"You weren't drinking," he chuckled. She looked at him flummoxed. "You were hiding."
"Hiding?" her voice raised until her own hangover tempered her reply. "From what?"
"Not from what. From who…or maybe it's whom, I forget. Never was much good at grammar." He smiled brightly and explained, "Me. You were hiding from me. A little from yourself, but mostly….from me."
She groaned. "Is this one of those Zen things? Why on earth would I hide from you? You're my goddamned partner…" her teeth snapped the words off like little twigs.
"No, not anymore. You know it and I know it." He let what he'd said sink in, then continued, "IAD has everything they want now, but then again so do I. The rest I can figure out on my own with the resources and information I have," he explained.
"So you're what? Leaving?" Her anger was palpable, but he saw it for what it was – fear – of abandonment, loss, betrayal – of trust, of faith. She knew but she didn't want to see.
"I'm leaving the department, Dani. Not you," he held her eyes with his oath.
"There is no you and me outside the department and that's just not going to work for me," she said again looking down.
His bare feet appeared beneath her and she looked up to finding him staring down at her. His blue eyes guileless and kind, "There's always been you and me. You just aren't seeing it. You look but you don't see."
His hand trailed down her cheek, whispering along her jaw line. Her eyes fluttered and she swore she heard a sigh, but knew it could not have come from her. He leaned close and as he said her name their lips brushed. She broke contact, looking down to find her red tipped toes perched atop his pale feet. She'd stepped closer to him, she realized. She couldn't remember when but there it was.
His arm wound slowly behind her back and pulled her gently against his chest. "Dani, look at me." She was helpless to disobey that tone. It was the one from the bar only less stern. It knew her; it owned her. He was what she wanted, what she'd been hiding from. Her mind worked through the simple things he'd said, sorting and discarding them.
You can't sleep with you partner; and you definitely can't be in love with him. But if your partner, isn't your partner anymore and he's just this man that you trust more than you trust yourself who turns you on in ways that you thought were dead to you -then him - you could love him.
"Crews," she breathed warning in her tone.
Uneasiness – they were breaking new ground with each passing second. He was not the man she knew anymore, he was so much more and yet nothing had changed, only her perception of it had.
"No, not Crews. I'm not your partner. Not anymore. Now, I'm just the man that loves you," he told her fearlessly. His honestly was shocking and it more than anything drew her eyes to his face; to read those eyes, to see him and to steal the smile from his parched lips. "Say my name, Dani."
She wavered for a fraction of a second before his name escaped her lips with a slight smile, "Charlie," she breathed. His lips descended and tasted like she knew he would – of fruit and freshness. He was an eager lover and their kiss, untainted by tequila, was long and deep. It was more a drug than any liquor. He settled his hands on her waist and lifted her onto the countertop and returned to wind his long fingers through her hair, which he'd magically released from its plastic prison.
"I love your hair," he murmured against her neck. Licking an earlobe he growled into her ear, when she rocked against him.
"Dani," he was breathless with need. He loved this difficult woman and wanted to show her in so very many ways. This was why he'd spent a sleepless night on his leather couch, sticky in the LA heat, instead of taking the easy path to her bed as many before had.
Her hands trailed down his back and slid into the waistband of his jeans to grasp the tops of his tight buttocks. They both groaned; then laughed in unison. He stepped back and she slid off the counter holding his hand.
"Did you still want breakfast?"
"Later," she drew him with her to the stairs where he stopped her.
"This changes everything." It was a statement of fact, not a question.
"You are my girl. No more nameless men in bars, no more crazy nights with bikers, just you in my bed from here on out."
"Until?" she questioned.
"Until the day that I die," he gave her his heart. Tears glistened in her eyes, he knew she didn't want to cry so he kissed her hungrily and when they parted the word "yes" escaped her lips. It was promise enough for him.
"What day is it?" She asked walking up the winding stairs to his bed – their bed.
"Tuesday," he replied. "Why?"
"I'd just like to know when it happened," she murmured against his chest as they climbed into the bed. He gave her a quizzical look. "The day I lost my mind and fell in love with you," she smiled. His shadow arrived a moment before the warmth of his body covered hers. It was the end of her darkness and the dawn of a new day.