Linden, she don’t eat.
He notices this – really notices this – about a week after they find the body and the hunt starts in for real. There’s coffee and gum and even cigarettes, but he’s never seen her eat more than a bag of chips, if that.
That’s when he realizes it’s not food that drives her; it’s Rosie Larsen. All the dead girls piled up in closets and car trunks who had nobody to look after them.
“You know you can talk to me, about whatever, if you want,” he says, and she flashes him one of those rare smiles. “I’m here.”
“I know you are,” she says, and that’s when he thinks he’s got a problem.
(He’s not one for problems, Holder. He solves them, finds his center, gets back to business. Linden though, she’s a whole new kind of center.
His whole world revolves around her now.
And he knows about centers like that.)
But when she gets out of the nuthouse – and he hates himself for noticing – she looks like she’s had a few square meals. Trouble is, she’s Linden, wants to jump right back in the action. Trouble is, he’ll jump right with her, even if he complains all the way.
(Yeah, he knows about centers like that.)
After they arrest Terry Marek, after he tugs at her arm to pull her away from the holding cell where Terry’s curled up in a corner, her whole body shaking, Holder insists.
“My place, dinner. It’s on me,” he says, and she cracks another smile but looks a thousand miles away. He catches her glancing back at Terry’s cell before they exit the hall and he makes a decision right then and there.
Girl’s got to eat, and girl can’t afford any more dead girls. Makes a call when she’s in the Burger King bathroom to put Marek on suicide watch and slips his phone away as soon as she comes around the corner, still damp from the rain outside.
“I got you a cheeseburger and fries,” he says, passing her the bag. “You wanna get outta here?”
“You want to get there before morning?” she asks, and it takes him a moment to realize she’s joking. Hell, Linden barely smiles, let alone cracks a joke, and it makes him wonder for another moment what she was like before (before Rosie Larsen drowned in a swimming hole, before Sonoma left, before she sent Little Man away).
“I’ll drive,” he says. “You eat.”
(A shadow crosses her face, but she follows him to the car and tosses the keys across without a word.)
Seattle’s always raining these days, and his wipers are nearly busted, leaving streak marks on the windshield he has to concentrate to see though. Linden munches quietly in the seat next to him, and when the fries are gone (he resists the urge to check on her, she don’t need that), the sun’s breaking on the horizon.
Still raining though.
“They’re going to need us back there soon,” she says, but when he looks over, she doesn’t look worried or urgent. Nah, Linden’s just staring out at the road ahead of them, and it takes him a moment to realize he’s been driving east.
“Screw ‘em,” he says, and she smiles at him again (the shadow gone) and rearranges her feet on the dashboard.
“Thanks, Holder,” she says, and he’s just about to add It ain’t nothing, Linden when his stomach rumbles loudly in the interlude and she snorts with sudden, uncontained laughter until he joins in.
(Centers and all.)