Disclaimer: Life isn't mine. If it were, Crews and Reese would have kissed in the last episode... just sayin'. (see profile for a REAL disclaimer)
A/N: Written for LJ's Mini Nano WriMo in November of 2011. Knitting Christmas and birthday gifts kept me busy until just recently, but I figure posting this late is better than not posting at all, right?
Don't think about the future. Just be here now. Don't think about the past. Just be here now." ~Ram Dass
Charlie had never been more certain of anything in his life. Dani was freaking out and it was all his fault.
They'd gotten close after the whole fiasco with Roman Nevikov, much closer than before, and it had become glaringly obvious not long after their return to work that their relationship was heading in a new direction. A direction that didn't involve her distancing herself from him when things got tough, or overbearing Captains who put two and two together and figured out exactly why his girlfriend broke up with him, even if she hadn't admitted it out loud, and didn't go down without a fight. Every time that Charlie looked in the mirror and saw a healing, green and yellow bruise on his cheek, he was reminded of that and it brought a smile to his face. Dani hadn't talked to him for almost an entire day after Tidwell punched him, but eventually she took pity on him and drove him home after a long night of sorting through dead end leads at the station, glaring at him even as she followed him inside and gently pressed a bag of frozen peas to the side of his face.
As the weeks passed, Halloween coming and going, she began showing up on his doorstep at increasingly random hours, day and night, mostly whenever they were off the clock. Sometimes they would order a pizza, half pineapple and half pepperoni, and others they would sit on his couch and watch movies until she passed out, curled up in a blanket that he'd already started referring to as hers. He could tell that she hadn't been sleeping well, not for quite some time, probably since before she'd been kidnapped. The thing was though, with Dani, he had to be careful. If he did or said the wrong thing, those walls of hers would come slamming back down and all of the progress that they'd been making, every smile and laugh that he'd managed to coax out of her, would disappear. But, something had to change, he wouldn't sit idly by while she was suffering.
Which led them to the present.
It was almost a week before Thanksgiving and Charlie was standing in the middle of the living room with a frown on his face, listening as his partner stormed up the stairs and slam a door somewhere up on the second floor. They hadn't had a case in nearly two weeks and Dani had been going a little stir crazy. She shown up at his house three days ago and hadn't been back to her apartment since, choosing instead to follow him home after they clocked out and cook him dinner, taking over his kitchen with such a comfortable ease that it looked like she'd lived there her entire life. It seemed to soothe her, allowing her to channel her frustration into something fruitful, and if he got a free home cooked meal out of it and it kept her from drowning herself in alcohol he wasn't going to argue.
On this particular day though, after they finished eating they found themselves in front of the television, mindlessly watching whatever movie they could find. Normally, they sat on opposite ends of the couch. This time though, Charlie had decided on a whim to plop himself down on the middle of the sofa. Dani had angled herself toward him, her feet curled up beneath her, seemingly unperturbed by the lack of space between them. They hadn't been touching, not quite, but he could feel her warmth radiating toward him and almost smell the new shampoo that she'd been using. Every once in a while, they'd be standing just a little too closely and the scent would catch him off guard. It was something fruity and spicy, a mystery to even him, and it had been driving him crazy.
About halfway through the movie, Charlie noticed that her eyes had begun to droop and her body was starting to slowly drift toward his. It had still been early though, so he'd wrapped an arm around her without much thought, anchoring her sleepy body to the stability of his chest. He should have known that such a move would backfire.
"Crews," she'd hissed, "what are you doing?"
Clearly, she'd been pissed, but at least she hadn't pushed him away. That was one thing that he could be grateful for.
"I'm living in the now."
She scoffed, half laugh and half annoyance, "What does that even mean?"
"It means," he'd whispered in her ear, squeezing her tighter, "that you should close your eyes and go to sleep.
A few tense seconds passed before she gave in and settled against him fully. He'd sighed in relief, just barely repressing the urge to rub his hand soothingly up and down her back. She must have felt his hesitation though, because she didn't waste any time calling him on it.
"Not one word, Crews. This never happened."
"Of course not," he'd nodded, a hopeful giddiness bubbling up within him.
Less than two minutes later, she'd fallen asleep and he'd sat there for hours simply watching her breath. He hadn't realized how much time had passed, nodding in and out of consciousness himself, until the sun began to rise, painting the walls a pale orange. It was probably sometime around six o'clock in the morning when Dani began to slowly wake. He'd watched her as she cuddled in closer to him, still somewhere between the real world and the land of sleep, stretching her entire body before relaxing back into him. He'd thought everything was going fine until those big, brown eyes blinked open. It had taken her a few seconds to focus, but he was already lost in her gaze.
He'd felt her muscles tighten, ready to spring away from him, and he'd stopped her with a gentle palm on her cheek. Charlie had been in awe of how soft her skin was, of how her breath had caught in the back of her throat. He could tell that she'd wanted to run, but the fact that she hadn't was the final confirmation that he'd needed. After spending so long on the outskirts of her life, of respecting her boundaries and waiting until they trusted each other implicitly, he'd inched forward, finally allowing himself the luxury of connecting with her on the final level.
She'd sighed softly, just a small whisper against his mouth as their lips met, but he'd immediately felt like he was home. He'd kissed her slowly, giving her a chance to adjust to the new sensation and she'd shyly met his pace, almost like she wasn't quite sure she should be. After a few moments though, he'd gently nipped at her bottom lip and soothed it before she had a chance to react, torn between deepening the kiss like he'd desperately wanted to and tapering things off naturally. In the end, he'd chosen the latter, not wanting to push her any further than he already had, savoring the contact as long as he could.
Slowly, he'd placed a last few lingering pecks to her mouth before parting and leaning his forehead against hers. For a few bated breaths his heart had stopped, watching as her eyes slowly blinked open and she'd fully registered what had just happened. Her first reaction had been shock, quickly followed by horror and anger. She'd wanted to slap him, he was certain of it. Instead, she'd scrambled off of him and ran upstairs, getting away from him as quickly as she could.
Charlie sighed, squeezing his eyes shut before his head fell against the back of the couch.
Great. Just great.
He could hear her pacing above him, little feet pounding against the floor like a caged lioness. The only thing that brought him comfort was the fact that she hadn't really run away, she'd chosen his room to run to, a fact that she had to have known the second she entered because every other room in the house was empty. Hopefully, she'd come to him when she was ready, or at least when she was ready to not cause him bodily harm. But if he knew Dani, and he'd like to think that he did, that day probably wouldn't come any time soon.
Rubbing a palm over his face, he sighed. Until then, he'd have to wait for her, which fortunately enough for him was something that he was more than willing to do.