Chapter 1: Second hand news
'Crews did suggest we check into a hotel room, but in the end we were more hungry than horny, so we just had lunch. And you know how I'm so over having sex with only one man. We would have had to call people and in the end it just didn't seem worth the hassle.'
Crews was rubbing his neck, apparently extremely embarrassed to be witnessing this conversation, but Reese was just staring at Tidwell. Her arms were crossed in front of her chest and her head was cocked to the side in that determined way that Crews had come to know so well. He didn't have to look at her face to know she was pissed off. Not that he had any idea why she was angry. Tidwell had merely asked, in his curious manner pertaining to all things Reese, where they had been during lunchtime. Slowly, Crews started to inch towards the door, until he realised clarifying matters might be a better strategy.
'I didn't say any of that. I was hungry. Definitely hungry. For lunch. Which we had,' Crews explained. Now both Tidwell and Reese were staring daggers at him and he cleared his throat in the awkward pause that followed.
'I'll just go now,' he finally said and as he escaped the room he felt immense relief wash over him. That had been tense. Lovers' quarrel, undoubtedly. Nothing to do with him.
Dani watched Crews go. She didn't like how she watched him or how she felt when he was in the same room. Something fundamental had definitely changed, since Crews, like a complete idiot, had traded himself against her and gotten into that car with Roman. She knew Kevin had probably asked Crews why he had done that, but she hadn't inquired what Crews' answer had been. The truth was that she didn't want to know.
So, after encountering Crews standing at the side of the road – no Roman in sight - she had simply punched him in the shoulder and told him never to do that again. Faintly amused, he had nodded meekly and that had been the last of it. Except in her own damn mind, of course, because it wasn't a thing a partner did. They were just partners and Crews had practically sacrificed his life to rescue her.
Partners were not... they did not do that. They had each other's backs and they helped each other, but they didn't deliver themselves into the arms of one of the most dangerous criminals they knew. That was not... They didn't do that. With considerable difficulty, she focused her attention on Kevin and Kevin was a perceptive man, so naturally he noticed her concentration troubles.
'What is it exactly that you're accusing me of?' she asked. There was an edge to her voice that she wished wasn't there. She knew this entire conversation was out of line. The way she spoke to him, the subject they were discussing, her attitude; everything was insubordination. Suddenly, she wasn't only the cliché woman who was in a relationship with her boss, but they were actually discussing their personal issues at the work place. She really really didn't like this.
'I think your reaction is inappropriate, Dani. I'm your boss and I asked you a reasonable question. You know you can't speak to me like that in front of Charlie,' Tidwell scolded her. It was a typical light scolding. It was another thing in a long line of things she didn't like. Why didn't he yell at her? Ever since the kidnapping, he treated her as if she was breakable, which she fucking wasn't. It was infuriating. At least, even though everything else between them had changed, Crews still treated her exactly the same.
'Your anger is misplaced. I've said it before and I'll say it again; I recommend you see the new department therapist,' Tidwell said as he moved behind his desk. Dani scoffed loudly at the suggestion. She'd already suffered through the mandatory therapy session and she wasn't about to willingly go to that annoying woman again. Crews had visited her too, because of his crazy rampage. They'd both mostly kept silent, not wanting the therapist to find out too much about their sojourn.
'Yeah, I've seen her. Roaming the halls searching for victims. The day I shoot someone unprovoked is the day I'm going into therapy,' Dani offered. Tidwell chuckled and sat down in his chair. Now she could almost look down at him and she realised what he was doing. He was surrendering his position of advantage to her by sitting down, so that she'd be more likely to be kind and give him what he wanted. Not gonna happen.
'First of all, provoked means something else with you than it does with everybody else. Secondly, and this might seem strange to you, but I would prefer it if you went into therapy before that happened. I'd like to prevent you killing someone, you know,' Tidwell joked. He was right in a way, which only served to fuel her anger. There was so much of the anger that she didn't know where to aim it and for the last few weeks Kevin had borne the brunt of it.
Anger instead of fear; it was kind of her go-to emotion. Being kidnapped by Roman hadn't been a picnic and she had been afraid. Not hysterical crying damsel in distress afraid, because she simply didn't know how to do damsel in distress. It was outside of her acting range. It had been a healthy and justified fear that she had fostered, since Roman was a psychopath protected by the FBI and he didn't play by the rules.
However, she was tough and she knew that Crews was coming for her. The worst thing about the whole ordeal had been when she'd walked past Crews during the exchange. Knowing that now she was safe, but he was in danger. She'd realised that she'd never been more afraid in her life than at the moment when their hands didn't touch. Fuck, she had thought.
'Don't worry, I'm not going to shoot anybody,' she reassured him and, after a beat, added, 'Unprovoked.' He chuckled again, but looked earnestly at her. It was nothing like the penetrating gaze of a certain pair of blue eyes and she felt uncomfortable under his scrutiny.
'I am worried. I am worried about you, Dani. You're behaving irrationally.'
'Well, I am a woman...' she dryly replied, but her words lacked the necessary acidity. Kevin's concern for her irked her. Normal, that was all she wanted. Just back to business as usual with Tidwell being her captain at the station and Kevin being her boyfriend at home and Crews being Crews everywhere else all the time. Said Crews rapped on the door, stuck his head inside, mumbled that they had a case to attend to and vanished.
'He could use some therapy too. For the prison experience and how he once a year goes incommunicado and dead cops and criminals pop up all over the place, while half the force is searching for him. You're quite the pair,' Tidwell remarked and Dani hid a smile. She opened the door, almost glad to escape. Crews was sitting at his desk, waiting for her, but before she reached him she encountered a series of curious glances and gossipy whispers.
It had been like this since the kidnapping. Dani had kind of thought, and hoped, the novelty would have worn off by now. Unfortunately, people continued to regard Crews and her as some sort of tourist attraction. She stared down a couple of beat cops, but once she passed them they resumed their conversation. This time she actually overheard a fragment.
'Crews traded himself for her! Of course they're bumping uglies. How else do you explain that?'
Sharply turning, she tried to discern who it was who had spoken, but nearly everyone was staring at her and the low hum of office talk had disguised the voice. Trying to regain some of her dignity, she stalked off in Crews' direction and barked at him.
'Car. I'm driving.'
He followed her, mumbling about how she was always the one who drove, but swiftly shutting his mouth when he saw the expression on her face. In the station parking lot, she slammed the door too loudly and almost drove off before Crews had properly gotten into the car. He gave her directions to the crime scene. She speeded, she didn't signal and once she missed a little old lady with a walker by an inch. That caused her to calm down. Instead, she fiercely drummed her fingers on the steering wheel.
'What's...?' Crews cautiously asked, but she answered without giving him any chance to finish his question.
'They think we're dating,' she hissed. She glanced at him and he was taking a bite out of one of his damn apples, entirely unconcerned. He knew, she realised. His expression of feigned surprise wasn't fooling anyone and she didn't think it was meant to.
'You knew? Ah, you must like this,' Dani spit out. Bemused, Crews looked at her and slowly chewed his fruit.
'Like what?' he asked, pushing the words around the mashed bits of apple with difficulty.
'I'm a slut, but you're the guy who bagged Reese,' she bit at him. Now, he started to pay attention it seemed, but only to ask her what bagged meant.
'Never mind,' she muttered. This was typical. Of course, he didn't care. He was too Zen to care. Well, she could be Zen too. That lasted a few seconds and then she started to mutter things about being the laughing stock of the station and wanting to have a serious conversation with the person who had started this ridiculous rumour. Crews finished his apple and donned his contemplative look when he regarded her. I swear to God, if he quotes one of his tapes, I'll shoot him, Dani thought.
'Look, if it bothers you that much, we'll find the person who spread the rumour. But people have thought worse things of me, remember? For twelve years everybody thought I killed my best friend and his family,' he reminded Dani and leaned over her to dispose of the apple core. Ashamed, she bit her lip. Crews was usually – aside from his annual going off the radar trips – so well-adjusted that she sometimes did forget his twelve year stint in prison and the resentment he must still harbour for being falsely accused of such a horrible crime.
'That does seem a bit worse,' she admitted. When she glanced at him again, he didn't seem fazed at all. He gently nodded with his face turned towards the sunlight. It was how he had been standing when she'd found him after the exchange with Roman. Letting the sunlight warm his face and breathing the fresh air. Just enjoying freedom and life, she guessed. Despite his annoying behaviour and mystifying and grating calmness, she was glad to have him back.
'At the station, they think Crews and I are dating. Is that why you asked us that question?' Dani asked. The bedroom was dark, so she couldn't see Kevin's face, which was a small relief. It meant he couldn't see her face either. That was a comforting thought, because she was afraid that at times her facial expressions blatantly betrayed her emotions. Emotions she wasn't entirely sure of yet.
'Yes. I was jealous, but it isn't because of the rumours,' he confessed. He placed his chin on her bare shoulder from behind. The stubble on his chin grazed her skin. Lately, she'd discovered herself wondering what this would feel like with Crews. His body so different from Kevin's... Luckily, she managed to catch herself in time, before she went too far. Because Crews was just her partner. Nothing more. An irritating voice in the back of her mind would bring up the exchange, but she didn't have an explanation, so she ignored it.
'You're behaving differently since Charlie saved you. I feel like someone has taken my place,' Kevin whispered. His life for hers. Crews' life for Reese's, she drowsily thought. Now was the time to say something. Something like, 'I love you' or at the very least, 'no one has taken your place,' but she found she couldn't. She mumbled goodnight and nestled in his arms, imagining they were someone else's.
The title of the story is from the album Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and the chapter titles are songs from the same album.