Crow Horse has a pretty good eye for people, and usually his first impression is right on the money.
He made a mistake about Ray, though. Not that he’d ever admit it.
He caught a look at the kid, the moment Ray’s knee came off his back, and thought he had him. The twenty-dollar haircut, the new shoes too tight in the instep, the tense turn to his mouth, and the way he let Coutelle use him as some token Injun without even one word of protest. He was just some silver spoon, Ivy League snot, a rich kid who became a cop because he liked the feel of a gun in his hand. A WASP carrying a blood myth legacy he only carted out when it suited him.
Crow Horse figured out pretty quick, though, that he was wrong. When Coutelle wasn’t standing over him, Ray wasn’t so uptight, and Crow Horse could see he wasn’t cold, just quiet. And he listened, really listened, to every word Crow Horse said; he didn’t always say much, but he always paid attention. And there was a hunger to him, a wariness, of a kid who’d grown up having to keep his wits about him. A kid who had grown up learning how to avoid getting his ass kicked on the playground, how to tell if his father had had enough to drink to be dangerous, how to comfort his mother when Daddy was gone, or scary. A kid who had grown up without much, and hadn’t quite known what to do when his mother remarried into a tax bracket that afforded him new tennis shoes every school year, and no more powdered milk and potted meat for supper.
And Crow Horse could tell, once he’d spent a little time on the subject, that Ray wasn’t a boat rocker; mostly he’d do anything so that everyone got along. But there was nothing that riled him up faster than injustice, and seeing what Coutelle and Milton had done to the people on the rez—seeing what they’d done to Maggie—lit a fire in his blood, and so Crow Horse shouldn’t have been surprised, really, at what happened at the stronghold. Or what happened after. Ray didn’t like to rock the boat, and his stepfather’d bred a good respect for authority into him, right down to the yessirs and yes ma’ams, but after things had settled a little with Coutelle, Ray called up to the bosses in DC and told them in no uncertain terms what was going to happen next. And it shouldn’t have been surprising that Ray got his way, because not only did he have leverage, he was tireless when he was after something. But Crow Horse is still surprised, sometimes, when he finds himself working a Major Crimes case, even if it is under the supervision of the rez’s Fed liaison. And sometimes he is surprised to look over to the seat beside him in the cruiser, parked at a speed trap or minding the fire line, and find Ray sitting beside him. Like there’s some part of him still sure that Ray’s bound to run off, even though he knows that if Ray’s anything, he’s constant. Like maybe Ray is a figment of his imagination, something too good to be true.
And Crow Horse would never admit any of that to Ray, or to anyone else who didn’t have a gun on him—and maybe not even then—but the little surprises were good for him, probably; they keep him from taking Ray for granted. And when Crow Horse gets surprised, Ray’ll just look at him, and see the change in his face—because Ray is observant, always in tune with the people around him—and not say anything, just reach out and put his hand on Crow Horse’s, just a simple touch.