They spend the first five minutes or so staring at each other. Paul's surprised, at first, that Dani doesn't blink often, drop her gaze or fidget; because of her appearance--the large leather jacket and shapeless button-up blouse, her lack of makeup and carelessly tied-back hair--he'd assumed she was uncomfortable with being looked at, perhaps even ashamed of her body, her attractiveness. But he studies her blank expression as the minutes tick silently by, sees her shuttered gaze and the prepared patience in the set of her body, and realises.
He prefaces his question--the first words spoken since they traded spare greetings and introductions when she arrived--with the slight curve of a smile. "Is that your detective stare?"
It earns him a slow blink and a thoroughly disinterested tone. "What?"
"The way you're looking at me. Staring, as if you're prepared to wait all day. Is that the way you look when you interrogate suspects?"
"I wasn't aware I was staring. Sorry if it bothers you." And, yes, she's a professional at this, polite and chilly and just this side of obvious about being on the offensive.
Paul shakes his head, but doesn't break eye contact. "It doesn't matter. I just wondered."
And they sit silently, staring, for another five minutes or so. Until Paul decides to be blunt--
"Tell me, Dani, why are you here?"
--and is rewarded with the slightest softening around her eyes, the smallest glimpse of satisfaction at having won their battle of wills, before her all-business inscrutability returns.
"I'm here because I have to be."
"Why do you have to be here?"
"I'm sure they sent you my file--"
"I'd like to hear from you, please."
She shrugs--and, for the first time, looks away, over his shoulder for a second before down at the coffee table. "There was an incident. At work. A suspect I was investigating broke into my apartment. He forced an altercation." Then back up at him, the confrontation of it held deliberately behind that impassive expression. "He made me drink half a bottle of vodka, and I'm in the programme, so."
Nothing he hadn't read in her file. Then again, her version was also considerably less than he'd read in her file. "That must have felt like a violation, finding that man in your home."
She stays perfectly still, perfectly calm, and sounds a little too indifferent when she says, "You have strange people in your house all the time, sharing their shit. Does it feel like a violation to you?"
"People come here--share their shit--because they're invited, and because they know I'm here to help them." It was an obvious deflection, far too obvious; Paul can tell Dani's as familiar with the tactic as he is, can tell she's used it and had it used on her, both with varying amounts of success. He thinks she might be a little tired of it. "Do you think that was why the suspect came to your house? To you?"
She laughs, a short huff of breath. "Because he thought I would help him? No. He was a drunk and a rapist. Since he couldn't control himself, he wanted to control someone else, and that someone was me."
"Did you give him the control he was looking for?"
"No." A roll of her eyes, and she adds, "I drank the vodka because he had a gun in my face, and I needed to buy time for my partner to get there. I kept it all very civilised until I could bust his head with the empty bottle."
He notes her sudden veer into graphic description, and nods. "It sounds like you had the situation well in-hand."
"So why are you here?"
She sighs. "Doctor Weston--"
A beat. "Paul. I'm here because this is yet another appointment I have to keep if I want to keep my job. And I do want to keep my job."
He notes 'yet another', and wonders if she shows more emotion over the loss of her sobriety at her AA meetings. "That's very clear. Are you good at what you do?"
"Then, given your profession, I think there must be many people who want you to keep your job." It sends a tiny, startled jolt through her body, stiffening her shoulders and widening her eyes. Her reaction doesn't surprise him: despite her confidence, she wouldn't be in the habit of trying so hard, maintaining appearances so constantly, if she expected to be appreciated. "Tell me more about your work," he says, and watches her begin to relax.
When their hour's up, Paul walks Dani to the door, then backs away when she moves, automatically and perhaps a bit defensively, to open it herself. As soon as she does, she makes an exasperated noise; Paul peers around the jamb and sees a redheaded man in sunglasses and a dark suit leaning against the trellis, a bag of grapes in his hand. He stands as Dani exits, offering a grin and the bag.
She ignores the food with ease that speaks eloquently to Paul of long-suffering familiarity. "Boundaries, Crews! Have you never heard of boundaries?"
He shrugs, a study in innocent mischief. "Lieutenant wants a meeting about the Dover case before she goes home today. I didn't want to interrupt by calling, so I came to pick you up instead."
"I drove here."
"I took a cab. You'll drive me back to the office, right?" As Dani throws her hands up in defeat, Crews turns his attention to Paul, nodding a greeting. "Hi. Charlie Crews."
Paul had already recognised him, of course: even if he hadn't been mentioned in Reese's file, his retrial and release had been almost too well-publicised. "Paul Weston. Nice to meet you, Mr Crews."
"And you." And Crews may still be smiling, his eyes may be hidden behind his expensive sunglasses, but Paul can feel him studying him, searching and measuring and considering. It's not an offensive tactic, like Dani's blank expression earlier, provocative in its disinterest; on the contrary, Paul thinks, it's defensive, used to assess potential threats as quickly and comprehensively as possible without overt aggression.
Given his history, it's a natural skill for Crews to have honed; Paul suspects, though, that in this instance, he's not using it on his own behalf.
Without changing expression, Crews offers Paul his bag. "Grape?"
Paul doesn't hesitate, and takes two. "Thank you."
And Crews nods and smiles a little wider, relaxing, the weight of his gaze lifting as Paul pops the grapes into his mouth.
"Crews!" Dani plants her fist on her hip, her car keys dangling. "What, you wanna get your head shrunk, too? 'Cause if you do, I'm not waiting."
"No, no. We're going." Crews nods again to Paul, then turns and follows Dani to her car, making another spirited attempt to share his grapes as he goes. Paul watches them climb in--hears Crews say, "They're seedless!" before the door shuts--then turns back to his office.
He has an evaluation to begin writing.