She was an awful hard catch, Lynne. She had hiding places and shadowy spots in every corner of the city, and she was never where you wanted her to be. Or, when she was, when you were lucky enough to catch the sweep of her hair just round a corner, someone was always there, a phalanx of men in uniform, some young and excitable officer in blue. And even when she didn't keep twisting her head round to look for the edges of your face, they'd stop you. And you'd have to take care of them. They were a terrible pain, but endlessly disposable. You tell her so, just to see how her face crumbles. You can see in the pain at the edges of her mouth how she thinks the worst, even if the majority of those men went home with no more than a black eye and no job. Little Lynne can keep herself scared if she wants.
You tell her, "Lynne, baby, it's been too long," because it has been too, too long, and you've needed her for months and years. You slide your hand in her hair and pet her blood down her cheek and she sobs. It's smears of red cut by tears and makeup. You want to hold her close and cradle her until she stops crying, and you want to push her face into the gravel so it digs into her cheeks and her lips tear open wide on the rocks. She's a little girl like this, stubborn, stained with the effort of crying, and so, so impossible to talk to. She jerks underneath you and you grab her by the hair again. The sharp note of pain is promising.
"Lynne," you say again. Every time you use her name, her breath hitches. "You're gonna tell me about that night, aren't you?"
That's what you're here for. That's why you have strands of her hair spooled around your fingers and your gun nudging against her ribs. There are echoing holes in the things you know, so it feels like a key with the bitting cut wrong and you can hear the clink of the lock jamming. With Lynne you can pack the gaps full, add stepping stones to cross the river - she was there, right there, you know it from the wandering way she came to the force, loosely pulled in with a wave of a hand and a plastic badge. And the way she had easy smile-lined conversations with him even when he was never smiling. The way she looked at him like hero worship. Thinking of it is like shoving a pike into your stomach and twisting.
Lynne's mouth wrenches up at the corners and you realize you've got your gun shoved under the ridge of her tenth rib. You don't pull it back. The crack of her lips is wet and messy from crying, and she has to try it a few times to manage any words. "I thought - I thought we were -" and she's dropped off again, big heaving sobs that have her choking and hiccuping, each time with her ribs knocking against the barrel of your gun. And you are so disappointed. You roll your head to one side, look at her over the thick damp spot on the side of her head where she hit the concrete. You wish she hadn't done that to herself, not when she was looking so pretty today.
You lick your lips before you talk. "I'm gonna give you another chance, okay, baby?" You have your brows raised and you near see it in her eyes, they're covered over so well in a shining film of tears. She just hiccups on your gun. "It's not so hard, is it? You just gotta tell me about that night, ten years ago, you know which I'm talking about..."
She does, which is something you see in her face and how her eyes tighten away from you. She knows exactly the things you don't and you need that information you need it now you needed it five years ago when he turned himself in and Lynne, Lynne, baby, tell me, now. You twist your gun just so, run a thumb over her temple (it wipes blood away in smears of clean) because she's your Lynne. You wait.
She wriggles on the ground to get her head away from your fingers and you are so, so disappointed.
"You're killing me," you say to her, voice quiet and cool as a breeze in fall. You savor the taste of that k and how it snaps far back on your tongue. "You really are. I'm just looking out for you, and you're not helping at all."
You say to her, "It's a real shame you're making me do this."
You say, "I don't want to have to hurt you, baby, but you're not giving me many options."
You pull the gun out from under her ribcage and slam another black patch of blood onto the other side of her head. She screams even as you apologize, jumbling the sorrys into each other while you press kisses to her forehead. Even worse, as you whisper into the bruise and wound on the side of her head that she could have avoided all this.
You let her cry it out for a while, still crouching over her with your knees in the gravel and with your hands buried in her hair and pressed light against the places you hurt her. She forgets for a while it was you and she clutches at the dark fabric of your coat and just wails. You almost call it music, but you're not that cliche.
After a couple of minutes, you lean in close and ask her, "Are you done?" It snaps her right back and she has her nails on your skin and your jacket, pushing and clawing and screaming in a different, tortured pitch. She's a whirlwind caught in bright colors and the drying stains of blood and you're left with no other choice but to shove a knee down into her chest and grab her by the arms, just to calm her down. Lynne is calling out noises and syllables and names, your name, the names of all those policemen, his name and you feel a snarl in your chest and slam your shin into her sternum, and the only sound that comes out of her then is a puff and a strained exhale as you knock the breath out of her. You know your lungs are struggling, too, when she's been thrashing under you like a wild cat, but you talk through it. "Tell me about that night, Lynne. Tell me!"
And with some time relearning how to breathe, remembering not to sob and cling to you like she's your little girl, she looks at you with her face all scrunched up, puffy, and red, and she talks. What she says is, "I don't - I don't even remember, I was just a kid -" and then she says, because you've hit her across the face and split the skin over her cheekbones, "he ran into the park and grabbed me! He just, then Detective Jowd came after him, I don't remember, I passed out, I remember that man yelling and I was on the ground, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" and it's awful convenient how she's apologizing, because it's not nearly enough. It's not what you need.
You knew she would have the information, and she didn't. She was a little girl, useless. You could scream, yourself. Instead you just stare fire at her and watch the tears bubble in the creases of her face until you feel that horrible cold hate in your chest start to calm. It takes a long while. By then, you've slipped your hands to cup her cheeks, to touch the edge of her jaw with your fingertips and leave bloody warpaint streaks.
"Atta girl, Lynne," you say, and you stand up. She lets out a sigh of relief like the heaviest of rocks has just been pushed off her chest.
A minute later, when you're done kicking her limp body into the trees nearby, you have to really be thankful for how nicely this jacket doesn't stain. It saves you a lot of cleaning bills. You can't be wasting money on laundry when you have a man to prove innocent.