Dani lay in the quiet of Crews' guestroom and tried not to feel exposed. The house was eerily quiet, so far from traffic and neighbors. There weren't even curtains on the windows.
At the station, the medic had let her out of a trip to the hospital, but insisted that she have someone with her for the next 24 hours, since she was still mildly concussed from her initial capture. Crews had offered his guestroom instantly. She felt a little bad for Tidwell, who looked torn, but clearly couldn't offer his place in front of the brass.
She felt even more guilty for how much she didn't mind. After the basement, and the tinted windows of Nevikov's SUV like a glass cage around her, the idea of Crews' huge open house with its clean white walls sounded perfect.
Also, Crews wouldn't try to make her talk.
She closed her eyes, but it was like having that bag over her head again, dark and muffled and suffocating. Rolling onto her back, she stared up at the ceiling. God, she wanted a drink. For a moment, she was intensely grateful that she was at Crews', where there was nothing to drink except twenty different kinds of juice, even if the house was freakishly quiet.
A floorboard creaked in the hallway, and she rolled her eyes. Okay, not entirely quiet. This must be the fourth time in an hour that Crews had walked past the room.
A few moments passed, and the floorboard creaked again.
She sighed in exasperation, sat up, and snapped, "Crews! Get in here!"
There was a guilty silence from the hallway. Finally, Crews stuck his head around the doorframe and said, "Hey Reese, what's up?" His 'who, me?' smile and pale skin stood out in the darkness.
"What the hell are you doing out there? I can hear you, you know."
Crews edged around the door to stand just inside the room. "It's the floorboard, isn't it?" he said. "It always creaks, but I never got it fixed. I think I just like the sound. Usually, there's only me to hear it, so I never bothered. I don't even know if you can make a creaky floorboard not creaky. Is that a thing they can fix now?"
She stared at him. "Have you slept at all?" she said. "Because you're making even less sense than usual." It wasn't fair – usually she had coffee to help her deal with this.
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, looking like a scolded child. "Yes?"
Dani resisted to the urge to roll her eyes again. "Come here," she said.
He padded obediently over, his bare feet almost silent on the hardwood. She slid to the far side of the bed.
"Lie down," she ordered. He hesitated, and she let an irritated edge creep into her voice. "Lie. Down."
He climbed onto the bed, curling on top of the sheets, his right hand resting in the space between them. She lay back down, facing him; his eyes stayed steady on her face as she moved.
She closed her eyes against the scrutiny. With Tidwell, she'd gotten used to sleeping with another person at night, but it felt weird with Crews looking at her like that. Like in the orchard – like he was memorizing her.
She wasn't really sure why she'd brought him over here.
You don't have to understand here to be here, she thought, and slid her hand over until she could feel the warmth of his, laying on the sheet between them.
In the quiet, their breathing slowed, matching up like their steps as they walked a crime scene. It was hypnotic.
Just before she drifted off, she felt Crews stir, and the warmth of his hand grew closer until their fingers touched.
She woke with the sun warm on her back, streaming in the windows to paint Charlie's hair with fire, and light up the dust motes in the air. He had shifted onto his stomach in the night, and his mouth was open a little, pressed against the pillow as he breathed evenly. At the nape of his neck, where his collar usually covered the skin, a cluster of unfamiliar freckles peeked out above the fabric. The wrinkles of his shirt moved with his breath – stretching flat, growing shadows, lying smooth again against the broad plane of his back.
Between them, their hands were still linked, the last two fingers overlapping and entwined. In the morning sun, even the hairs on the back of his hand had a little red in them, gleaming against his skin and the pale blue sheets. Dani closed her eyes, still a little tired, and let her breathing match Charlie's again. The sun was soothing on her bruises, and Charlie's hand was warm on hers, and they were alive, and safe, and here.