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"I can't do this."
Watching Carrie Wells leave the room, the investigator turned to the team. "We need what she can tell us."
Al was already out the door.
He found the redhead standing on the roof, her fingers gripping the rail. Moving to stand beside her, he looked into her face. Her eyes were scrunched close, as if by doing so, she could erase her memories and cease replaying everything.
Unconsciously reaching out, he covered her white knuckles with his hand. He backed away instantly when she jumped, fearful eyes on him.
"Shit Carrie, I'm sorry," he apologised instantly, raising his hands in a motion of surrender.
His heart clenched when tears pooled in her eyes. "I hate this," her voice cracking, her arms pulled tight around her neck.
"I know." He resisted the urge to step up and pull her into his arms. He pondered his next choice of words carefully.
"I hate how vulnerable it made me." Her eyes met his. "I feel weak."
"You're not weak," he responded heatedly. "You're strong. You managed to fight him off, and you got away."
"But then he went and raped and killed Diana Momber," she shot back. "Not much of a good job really."
He had to stop her there. "What happened to Diana was not your fault," he said seriously. Planting himself firmly in her line of vision, he held her gaze. "And as bad as this sounds, I'm glad you're the one still with us."
She sniffled, but kept looking at him.
"I know it's painful to remember," he said softly. "And I know that you'll never be able to forget, but our best chance of catching the bastard lies with you." She opened her mouth to speak, but he powered on. "I'll be with you every step of the way." He emphasised his words. "Every. Step."
She took in a shaky breath. "I'm being kind of selfish, aren't I?"
"No," he responded. "You're acting like any person would who's gone through trauma."
"You're making me sound like a damsel in distress."
He was heartened by the attempt at a joke. "Now that babe, you ain't."
She sucked in a deep breath and composed herself. "Alright, let's do this."
He refrained from touching her, though he did step in close. "We're in this. Together."
Entering the interview room again, Carrie took her seat. She smiled tightly when Al took the seat beside her. Clenching her hands together, she faced the investigator. "It was Friday night..."
As she took them through the night she was beaten and almost raped, Al knew her calm tone belied her tension as her knuckles turned white.
Maintaining his distance, he readily gripped her hand when she suddenly reached out for him. Running his thumb over hers in a soothing motion, he silently encouraged her to keep going.
An hour and a half later and it was over.
The investigator thanked them both, gathered up his papers and left. As the team filed in, Al maintained his grip on her hand. "Go home," he suggested of the shattered woman.
She turned to him, hating how her voice sounded. "I can't."
Their gaze held before he squeezed her hand and rose. "Okay."
Turning to the team, he ushered them out. "Back to work."
Fifteen hours later, Marcus Scaffidi under lock and key, Al went in search of Carrie.
He found her in the basement and paused a moment to just look at her. The weak dawn light spilled across her sleeping form, her mussed hair looking even redder than normal.
Moving into the room, he could see the bruises on her shoulder where her jacket had slipped. They were also darkening on her face.
Stepping on a scrunched up ball of paper, the noise was explosive in the quiet space. He raised his arms in surrender for the second time in less than 24 hours when Carrie was suddenly awake, a gun pointed in his direction.
"Okay," said Al. "We have a problem."
Carrie breathed shakily as she dropped the gun. Wrapping her thin jacket tighter around her, she refused to look weak as she crossed her arms tightly over herself.
"You got him." It was a statement, not a question.
"We got him."
He held out a hand. "Now let me take you home." He saw her hesitate and knew it was because she hadn't been home since Friday. "Hey," he said gently. "I'm with you every step of the way, remember?"
Carrie slowly reached out and took his hand. He waited for her finger to twine with his before he drew her unresisting form closer to him and prepared to lead her out.
He wasn't prepared for when a choked sob escaped his one time lover, but responded instantly, tugging her into his arms. Wrapping her securely in his embrace, he held her close to his chest, pressing his lips to her crown as he whispered nothings.
Firm in Al's embrace, Carrie finally cried.