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Equals One

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The hood of the car left out in the sun on the roof of the garage was almost too hot. The heat soaked through her jeans, into her thighs, reaching for her bones, and Dani sat still, finally free of the chill from the office.

They should be done by now, she thought. Internal Affairs had all their statements. She had kept her's short, left out unnecessary details – like the way she had reached for his hand. What he'd said as she passed. How she'd known without doubt when she saw him again, that Roman was dead. She made very sure to keep that out of her statement.

But, after all, Crews had been unarmed when he got in that SUV, and he was unarmed when they found him again. And Dani knew that his own statement for IA would be absolutely true, and implacably cryptic.

“ 'Just breathe',” she quoted. “Breathing is easy.”

“Unless it's not.”

She didn't jump, because she was a detective, and Crews had obviously not been able to walk up to her with two steaming cups of coffee before she noticed. And she didn't reply, because she knew Crews was either doing that Zen thing again, or was referring to something specific, and she . . . just didn't want to know which it was. She reached for one of the cups. Crews handed it over. The car creaked as he sat down beside her.

“He'll get mad,” she said. “If he catches us sitting on his car.” Not that it wasn't a crappy car, but it was the Captain's car, and it outranked them, damn it. She could hear Kevin say it, knew he'd be trying to glare. He hadn't been glaring at her today . . .

“No he won't.” Crews sipped his coffee. His legs stretched out much farther than hers. “He's not going to get mad at you for a while. You were sitting on this car first. Besides, my car's been impounded.” He frowned. “I just got it back.”

“You are not attached to that car,” she said, watching the steam rise from her cup.

Crews sighed. “I am not attached to that car.”

She looked at him, squinting slightly. The sky was molten gold behind him, full of the all encompassing Californian sun.

“Are they done grilling you, then?”

“Oh, no.” His smile twisted, but it was real. “They're just heating up the pokers.”

“Are we talking full on barbeque?”

“Hmmm.” He looked to be actually considering it. Crossed his ankles and looked at the sky. “I think someone forgot to bring the buns.”

Which meant. . . “Crews, I don't know what that means.”

He glanced down at her. There were laugh lines at the corner of his eyes. “They don't know what's happened to Roman. So they can't ask the questions they should be asking.”

“And no one else is going to tell them.”

“Nobody else was there.” He cocked his head. “Except those guys. Maybe they should go ask them?”

“Roman's thugs? No one knows where they are.”

“They know where they are. Or maybe they're lost. Then no one knows where they are. But in any case, I can't tell them what I don't know.”

“Like you don't know what happened to Roman.”

“What happens to any of us, really?” He asked. “What happened to make him a monster? Where do monsters go when they're done being monsters? Are all monsters actually monsters?”

Dani was pretty sure this last question was not about Roman. Roman being an actual, certified monster. Dani was pretty sure Crews had asked himself that question a whole lot.

“So long as he is,” she said, watching him. “Done, I mean.”

With the sun behind him, Crews' eyes were dark. “Oh, yeah. He is . . . no longer in this moment.”

“This moment? The one that we are in?” She considered it. She smiled. Sipped her coffee.

“They're talking to Stark now. He's doing fine. Rayborn cleared Seever. And then Rayborn's scary bodyguard got Rayborn out of reach, so Seever's safe. Bodner's . . . Bodner's out of it.” He looked at her. “Tidwell's won't be in any more trouble than Stark.”

“Anyone could have taken his phone,” she said. She could feel herself smiling.

“Mostly he's getting yelled at for running into an uncleared area. But they're not yelling too loud. After all, they've accounted for all the dead bodies they've turned up. And the undead bodies, too.”

“Except for Roman's.”

“Roman's hasn't turned up. I can't imagine where he might have stashed it.”

“Because you were in the orange grove the whole time.”

Crews pointed at her with his empty cup. “I was in the orange grove!” He set the cup on the hood. He left his hand there, fingers curled idly on the hood.

Dani drank the rest of her coffee. It was starting to get cold. No steam left. She set the cup down next to his, and left her own hand there, next to his. Not touching.

“It'll pass,” Crews said. She looked at him.

“The fuss and fury. The loose ends will be tied up or tucked out of sight, and without those waving around and attracting attention new cases will take up their time. I'm pretty sure they'll suspend me though.”

He didn't look too upset about that, considering. His fingers, so close to hers, were relaxed.

“They'll want to send me to counseling,” she said. “They won't send me into the field for awhile.”

“Ted went to Spain.”

“Oh?” She always felt flatfooted, next to him. Like she was trying to hold on to a sunbeam.

“After a girl. After the woman my father was planning to marry.”


“Right. He figured it out. That the future is unknowable. There is only the now.”

Their fingers were very close, warm on the hood of the car.

Crews looked over. The sun had lowered itself, was not so blindingly present, and Dani could see his face clearly. It was . . .


“Did you know?” he asked. “That one plus one, equals one.”

Dani just waited. Sometimes it was just better to let him keep going.

“There's a word that means that. When one person, plus another person, equals one.”

Dani suddenly wanted to stop him. Crews was . . . he was important to her. But she had a good thing going with Kevin, and Crews was . . . Crews. But he kept talking, and she sat there, staring at their hands, not touching.

“There's really more than one word though. Words are like that.”

She didn't hold her breath. Just breathe, she echoed, in her head.

“Partners, Reese,” he said. “We're partners.” And his fingers intertwined with hers.

Something settled, deep in her gut.

“One person,” she said slowly, still looking at their hands. She tightened hers. “One person, plus another person.”


“Yeah. Sounds good.”