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Empathy in Death

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"What's wrong, She-Body?"

Peabody shook her head. "Nothing. I..." She broke off as McNab gave her a knowing look, took a deep breath. "Okay, okay, it's not nothing. But it's... it's not my story to tell, if there even is something, it’s...”

"Case?" He didn't really think so; she'd tell him if it was related to their case. I mean, this one, spooks, spies, how iced is that? McNab thought. But if it made his She-Body look that sad, upset, well... he didn't like seeing her upset. She wasn't all that self-confident, and all bets were off there was something wrong with her family, but other than that, Delia Peabody was a pretty unflappable woman, at least since the Charles crap had been cleared up. And he didn't want to mention that. But she was still shaking her head. "Family?" McNab asked gently, having thought of it belatedly, and she sighed.

"Not exactly. I just - I can't tell you, okay?" Now her voice was snappish instead of sad, so McNab took a step back from her, the backs of his knees hitting the mag gel bed they shared when they stayed at the Lieutenant's house. He went down on his back and grinned up at her. 

"Wanna distraction?"

Peabody visibly shook herself, grinned back, and pounced.

Later, after, with Dee's head pillowed on his shoulder and light snores coming from her pretty mouth, McNab had some time to think. He wasn't stupid, and he was observant. If it wasn't the case, and it wasn't family, it was the Lieutenant. That's just the way Dee worked. He sighed and eased out from under Dee's warm body.


"Lieutenant? Can we talk privately?" 

"McNab, it's two in the morning," Dallas said in a cranky tone, even though she was up and working. Roarke gave McNab a little two-finger salute from across the room, got up, and leaned over the Lieutenant, bracketing her shoulders with his hands on the back of her chair. He murmured something in her ear and she smiled up at him, then batted at his hands and scowled. "Yeah, McNab, what?" It was said ungraciously, but that was pretty damn normal for her.

"I..." McNab shifted uncomfortably as Roarke slipped past him and out the door, closing it softly behind him. "I want to talk to you about Peabody."

At that, Dallas looked up, alarm showing in her face for a split second before she locked it down into impersonal, mild interest. "McNab," she said warningly, "If you plan to share details of your..." She trailed off and shuddered lightly, obviously searching for a way to get around using the word sex in a McNab-and-Peabody way.

"No, I... I just thought you should know... look, I don't care what you told Peabody; whatever girl talk you have isn't my business-"

"Girl talk?" Somewhere in the back of his mind, the small part that wasn't quaking in his airsneaks over discussing something personal with the Lieutenant, McNab thought it was funny how offended she sounded. He plowed on.

"It's not my business, except what upsets Peabody is my business, because I, well, I lo... and whatever you two ah... whatever's going on? It's bothering her. Like really bothering her." He was babbling now, and wringing his hands, but she was silent, and she seemed to be listening, and he couldn't help himself. "I just... she's upset, and that upsets me, and I..." He saw that little twitch around Dallas' eyes that meant she was controlling her expression and trailed off.

Dallas looked at him for a long moment, as though weighing her response carefully, and nodded sharply once. "I'll take your concern under advisement, Detective McNab. Dismissed." And she apparently meant that last word, because she turned back to her desk. "Send Roarke back in on your way out."

"Yes, Sir," McNab said, turned, and left the room.

He didn't see Eve Dallas sag in her chair with her face in her hands.