Disclaimer: I don't own Life or its characters… (if I did, there would've been a hell of a lot more, not that the ending was brilliantly satisfying).

Author's Note: I wrote this back when I marathoned this series about a month ago. Takes place…er… season two-ish (I think I wrote it when I was early in season two episodes).

Detective Dani Reese did not want her partner to touch her. It was like an instinctive flinch -one she had never bothered to examine. Not until this moment, anyway...


She had snapped at him for merely touching her arm.

'Don't ever touch me, ever!' she had shouted. A complete over-reaction, even for her, especially for her. But the crime scene had gotten to her this time. Not for any specific reason. It just had, which could've been the reason for her partner's attempt at comforting her with the lightest of touches upon her arm.

And then Charlie Crews had pinned her with that calm, penetrating look of his and simply asked her why?

It had been an uncomplicated, innocuous, friendly gesture.

One she could not stand.

Not from him.

Oddly, she sought touches from others. Caresses, filled with fire. Lustful, greedy, groping, sensuous, burning, harsh. Intoxicating and painful. Punishing.


Why did she do it?

Because you're weak.

It was her father's voice. Even in her own head, she could not escape his judgment. All this self-examination, it was weakness, too.

But then, that logic would render her partner- the strongest person she'd ever encountered weak. Weak because he employed 'Zen' teachings to reign in his darkness, the insanity that had found seed within him, that threatened to destroy him from the inside out.

And Dani knew all too well the battle with a self-destructive nature. And the strength he must possess to keep it so hidden, so buried, that she could never see it. She slipped, all the time, it seemed to writhe free of her grasp and expose itself, her, to the world.

Charlie Crews was...

There was no descriptor. He talked and talked. All the fucking time. And yet he never said anything. To the majority of persons, even to her, it seemed he possessed no impulse control, no filter, announcing to the world at large whatever thought popped into his head.

She was a cop. A decent detective. And like all decent detectives, she had a knack for reading people. And yet, she couldn't read her own damn partner. He distanced her with words, so many words that she got annoyed and gave up. Then ever so briefly, he got that look, that dark look, the one she almost recognized. And it would be gone before she could identify it, name it for what it was, replaced by his unreadable facade.

But she sensed it, the deeply hidden darkness.

Maybe that was why she didn't want him touching her. Was she afraid that his own shadows would pull hers out by the slightest physical contact?

No, that was ridiculous.

It was simply the intent in his touch. Or the lack of intent, as it were. No needs, no begging. Not pushing anything onto her, or taking anything away. It was like the action of a child, a very young child, wanting a friend.

'Will you be my friend, Dani?'

All innocence, like children before the world taught them 'friendship' means give and take, borrowing, abusing, forgiving, quarrelling, mending and all the horrible, wearisome aspects of human relationships. No, his touch was like the invitation of the child, the need for a friend, to say someone was a 'friend.'

A friend: Simply, someone who was with you in the world.

To not be alone.

I'm alone, Crews!

She shouted in her head as they sat in the car in silence.

Can you hear me? I'm alone!

He must be able to hear her shouting from her dark place, from where he resided in his own. For he had left prison, but he hadn't left solitary confinement, not really. And she knew what it was like, keeping the world at a distance. Hurting yourself with it in order to remind you why -well, that seemed to be her issue more than his.

I know you're there, too, Charlie. Alone in the dark. Can you hear me?

"I can hear you, you know," Crews interrupted her consuming introspection. And she jumped, sucking in air with a sharp noise. Her eyes grew wide when she looked at him.

His face was placid, his blue eyes inviting.

Had she been talking out loud?

"I have ears," he continued. "They're for listening. I can listen. With my ears. I can listen to what you have to say."

No, he was just uncannily insane sometimes. She breathed normally again.

"You're not alone," he added before taking a bite out of a peach.

She looked away, waited for the tear that threatened to spill from her left eye to dissipate. She swallowed and hardened her shell.

"That's good to know," she replied, giving just a little. He smiled as he chewed, the sweet aroma of peaches filling the car.

"But don't ever touch me again," she added, starting the car.

Baby steps. Maybe one day she'd pass the threshold, walk into the world once more. But she had a long ways to go...

A/N: I know many fanfics have covered these characters' dark sides before, and very excellently, too, but how could I resist them entirely. They're so deliciously twisted, quirky, vulnerable, intractable…human…