Tracking down Ben had been easier than expected. Then again, Kono mused, it might be because she was actually trying. The ocean hummed in the background as she watched Ben crouched low over the rock, tracked the familiar line of his back and calves.
God, what happened to us?
'You sure you want to do this?' Danny questioned, his voice neutral. Kono nodded her head sharply, tried to push aware the memories that were slowly creeping into her head. Sucking in a breath, and grateful for the warmth radiating off Danny behind her, Kono started towards her ex-boyfriend. She made sure her footsteps were loud, her entire body tensing when Ben caught sight of her.
'Kono?' He said her name as if baffled.
'Ben,' she greeted him as if he were a stranger. The amazement on his face faded when he caught sight of Danny.
'You're not here to…'
'I'm here about Ian,' Kono corrected him. Ben met her gaze for a moment before looking away, turning his back on her as he bent to retrieve something near his feet.
'What about him? I haven't spoken to the man in years. Of course, you probably already know that didn't you Detective?' Kono wondered if Danny heard the sneer buried inside Ben's words.
'It's Officer actually,' Kono didn't rise to the bait. 'Ian was shot this morning Ben. He's dead.' The last two words almost didn't make it past her lips.
'What?' The genuine grief on Ben's face was too visceral to be faked.
'I was with him,' Kono added for some reason, saw Ben shift closer. Danny did the same in response. 'He went out surfing.'
'Ian would have liked that,' Ben murmured.
'Do you know if anyone had a beef with him?' Danny asked, Ben staring at the blonde before tilting his head to the side in thought.
'Ian loved the ocean,' Ben said, 'but he also profited greatly because of that affection. A lot of people saw the Coral Prince brand as a reflection of Ian's greed.'
'Perfect. That just makes our suspect pool even more healthy,' Danny muttered under his breath.
'I haven't spoken to Ian or my father in years Kono. I doubt I would be much help,' Ben told Kono evenly. The air between them became thick with tension.
'Thank you for your time,' Kono replied politely, bowing her head down and turning to leave. She didn't expect the hand that gripped her arm, her chest seizing as she jerked it away from Ben. Danny didn't miss the brief flash of fear painted across Kono's face, or the way she attempted to hide it from both Ben and himself. His gut twisted, recognizing that instinctual reaction. It was something he had seen too much of during his time in Jersey.
Fuck. Not Kono.
'Don't apologize,' Kono spat out before remembering herself. Danny saw her shoulders square. 'Danny, could you give us a minute?'
Are you kiddin' me?
'That wasn't a request,' Kono added without looking at him. Danny frowned but submitted, knowing that he wouldn't be too far away. He settled himself just out of hearing distance, reluctantly respecting Kono's need for privacy.
'Looks like you've got him wrapped around your finger,' Ben remarked somewhat acidly. Kono fixed her eyes into a rigid glare.
'Just say what you need to say Ben,' she bit out, her flesh still crawling from Ben's earlier grip.
A few days after the incident in the kitchen, Kono found herself regarding Ben with caution. He had kept his fraying temper in check, keeping to his best behavior. Nonetheless Kono could tell that her decision to join the Academy was still eating away at him, though for the life of her she couldn't figure out why.
'I'm going to go see Chin,' Kono finally said. Ben looked up from the small dining table they shared, his papers scattered throughout.
'I thought we were having lunch together?'
Kono frowned. 'I'm going to see my cousin Ben. I haven't seen him since he got his badge taken off him-'
'You shouldn't be associating yourself with him.'
Kono gaped. 'Did you just…Have you forgotten that Chin's your friend?'
'I don't want you seeing him Kono,' Ben said in that same grating tone he had adopted before. Turning her back on him Kono reached for her leather jacket.
'Listen to me you-'
The grip on her arm spiked through her, eliciting fear. Kono pulled her arm from Ben, bolting out the door before he could come after her. She kept the jacket on despite the heat at Chin's, ignoring her cousin's curious looks.
'I shouldn't have…I never got the chance to make things right between us,' Ben said. Kono let out a wry chuckle.
'Right?' She remembered the constant feeling of fear in her own home, the possessive dominance Ben had tried to exert over her, the repeated murmurs of denial and excuses that passed his lips whenever he left his mark on her.
'I'm glad you're out of my life Ben. In a funny way, I never would have made it through without you. God, I was such a fool to believe those things you said. Every time I felt like giving up, I thought of you telling me that I could never make it,' Kono said emphatically.
'I loved you.'
The words Ben spoke seemed to make the air heavy, made her lungs constrict.
'That wasn't love Ben. Maybe it you did at the start. But in the end, you treated me like I was nothing. You did everything you could to make me who you wanted me to be. No one should ever have to feel that way.'
Ben remained tight-lipped.
'Goodbye Ben,' Kono told him, and it felt like she was rounding a bend she never knew she had to. Was this what closure felt like? She doubted it, considering the heavy weight that still rested against her heart.
Kono wasn't surprised at the silence she left behind, nor at the companiable quiet that Danny allowed her on the way back to HQ.
'Could you drop me off at my place? I just really need to shower,' Kono told Danny shakily.
'Sure babe,' Danny answered easily as Kono turned to look out the window, the knuckles on the steering wheel going white.
'See you in a few,' Kono dashed out hurriedly, bounding up the steps to her small boxy house. She latched the door behind her, heard the faint roar of Danny's Camaro, and slid down onto her knees.
Only then did Kono allow herself to cry.