He enters the room like a man enjoying a walk in the park. His head tilts back and his gaze breezes over the concrete ceiling as if admiring a sunny day. When he finally deigns to look down and consider the dead body on the floor, his eyes soften, but nobody but Dani sees it. When he sinks into a crouch, she knows the wheels and cogs are whirring away behind his vacant stare, but she knows that to the other officers, the forensics squints, and the rep from the mayor's office, Crews is wasting time. They don't see the way his mouth quirks, his shoe shifts, and his head tilts to one side — they only see that he's fondling, of all things, an orange.
It's annoying. Odds are his observations now won't pay off until later. Odds are this crowd of gawking professionals will go home with their own tales to tell about Charlie Crews, the loony ex-not-really-con, and they won't be flattering. Looking at Crews objectively in this moment, without three months of insider knowledge, Dani knows he looks washed up, clueless, and a little crazy. At best prison did something to him. At worst, he's just trying to screw over the system that screwed him — wasting everybody's time in a slow and vengeful blood-letting.
It's annoying because she's just standing there, letting him do it, not explaining or smoothing things over. So she gets to be part of their little story too, and once again the description won't be flattering and the vindication will come late, if at all. She really doesn't need that kind of crap.
It's at times like this, with her back to a damp concrete wall, the flashes of forensic cameras spiking her headache to new heights, and Crews humming tunelessly under his breath that Dani wonders why he had to push things. Sure, sometimes life is hell. It's definitely done a number on Crews. But he's a smart guy, and with his settlement money he could have done anything — or nothing.
Why did he have to come back here, barging in on Dani's already-screwed-up-existence,-thank-you-very-much? He slows things down. Even when it's not him personally, his presence slows everybody else down. Sometimes the distraction is so blunt it brings out questions about him, his time inside, and how he's feeling these days (like the answer could be anything good). Her sympathy for him in those moments is often right behind a snap-retort like, 'Well, what do you expect them to ask?' He can't possibly think that he can do so much good in this job that it'll make up for the sheer distraction he causes, can he?
Crews' eyes flick briefly upwards to find hers. He hasn't solved anything yet, he doesn't need anything from her, it's just his way of checking in. He tosses the orange lightly into the air and catches it as he rises, pacing slowly around the corpse. It's a teenaged boy, homeless, dirty, bled completely dry. The deed was clearly done days ago and blood trails have dried brown, leaving a shadowy backdrop for the kid's white face. The kid's expression isn't peaceful.
There's a commotion at the door, and suddenly a girl is pushing her way into their midst. From the clothes Reese can tell she's probably one of the dead kid's street friends. From the face, she upgrades 'friend' to 'relative'. From the reaction, she upgrades to 'sister'. And in the midst of the yelling and disruption, Crews has caught the girl and she's begun to sob in his arms, clinging to him as if her life depended on it.
And it's at times like this, when Crews' eyes and voice soften, and he stands like the eye of the storm, unruffled and ready to hug the girl until she's ready to let go, that Dani knows why Crews had to push things. There is no other job which would demand all of this from him. No other shoes worth filling.
It strikes her that life hasn't just cheated Crews. He shouldn't have to deal with the questions, or the nightmares, or the years lost. But even more, it's cheated countless victims.
Forget the justice Crews didn't get. How many people didn't get justice because he was inside, and not out on the streets doing his crazy, zen, fruit-eating, crook-catching thing? And that's why he can't give it up now.
There's been enough injustice to last a lifetime.