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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.

Chapter Text

He was terrified to touch her. 

Ian McNab knew he was being stupid about this, but it didn't seem to matter; he still felt the way he felt. Guilty, for letting Peabody down, for not meeting her as she walked up the street. He knew it was a form of survivor's guilt, knew that it was irrational, especially now that Dee was out of danger and on the mend.

So when Captain Feeney told him to go talk to Mira, McNab jumped at the chance. He wouldn't've looked up Mira on his own; he didn't have the rank or the seniority, not for her. But Feeney did, and Dallas did, and likely they had seen him moping around and decided he needed to have a session or two so he could do his best work without distraction. He did not relish the idea of annoying either of them, the way he had when Dee and Charles... when he'd thought Dee and Charles were... well. They weren't, hadn't been.

Didn't matter. He shook his head and walked into Mira's office; her admin gave him a double-take and a smile. Hot-pink-and-neon-green stripes got 'em every time, especially when paired to yellow-and-blue checked jacket and airsneaks. She told him to wait and tagged Mira, who came out of the inner office herself and beckoned him inside.

McNab looked around. The room was so Mira; all restful colors and soft curving furniture. How does she stand it without conking out? he wondered, and she smiled at him.

"Calming, isn't it?" Dr Mira said, and smiled again, waving him into one of the soft chairs, and he folded his gangly limbs into it. "Tea? Or something more... colorful?"

He couldn't help it; that made him laugh. Not much, but a little, and he felt the better for it. "Tea's fine, thanks, sweet. Um... Dr Mira?"

"Yes?"

"Do you know why I'm here?"

"I have an idea or two. What do you think, Ian?"

"I think I feel like an idiot." McNab leaned forward to take the tea and nodded his thanks. "I mean, I get that I have survivor's guilt and that it's stupid to feel that way; if I'd been there he might not've hurt her, but we wouldn't have caught him, either."

"It's not stupid for your emotions - that misplaced guilt - and your rational brain to have different, or even diametrically opposite, opinions."

"Yeah, but..." He took a deep breath. How do people do this with complete strangers? he wondered. He knew Dr Charlotte Mira, and he was still having trouble talking to her. She just waited calmly for him to finish the thought. He pulled it all out, haltingly, but he'd get there. "Look, I know lots of people have had worse things happen to them than this. How do they... I don't know, react? I mean, am I always going to feel guilty? Or afraid I might h..." He trailed off.

"Afraid you might hurt her, physically or emotionally, you mean?"

McNab nodded, miserably, and Dr Mira sat up straighter in her chair. 

"Well," she said, clinically, "Delia has been through a trauma, a fairly bad one on a physical level, and somewhat on an emotional level." She leaned forward and looked him straight in the eye. "And Ian? So have you." As he started to speak, to deny, she said, "No. Listen to me. You love her. You are not responsible for her physical safety every moment of every day, as she can handle herself, and your brain, your fellow-detective self knows that. But as her man, her lover? You've suffered the emotional trauma of not being able to keep your woman safe." She sat back, and smiled at him again. "It's a bit primitive a reaction; the heart is like that sometimes. Drink your tea before it goes cold."

McNab managed a grin. "Yes, mother."

"That's 'Doctor' to you, Detective McNab.' It was a mock-serious, teasing-scolding tone. "Hot, sweet liquids are good for shock and other emotional ailments. You'll be fine. And so will she."

"Thanks." He started to unfold himself from the soft chair.

"And Ian?"

"Yes?"

"She loves you, too. I'm not violating confidentiality as you already know that. The emotional trauma is healing, although there may be some signs; nightmares and the like. And when she's ready, physically, she'll let you know."

Chapter Text

Going better than expected, Ian McNab thought happily as he walked from the subway to their new apartment, buying a stupid flower she'd probably love from a vendor. Only the one nightmare so far, at least just the one violent enough to wake him. Last night, in fact. But his She-Body was healing, she was almost well, and that was abso iced.

Dallas had put her on personal for a couple of days after leaving the hospital, and then she'd be on light duty until Dallas thought she could take going into the field. And - knowing the Lieutenant - longer than that at need. The Lieutenant cared about her partner, McNab knew, though she showed it in a gruff, nobody-fucks-with-Peabody-but-me sort of way.

So he was already feeling pretty good as he undid the locks, and then he stopped dead in his tracks and just stared.

She reclined on the bed, and she was completely, gloriously nude.

McNab almost pounced, but remembered just in time that she was still healing, and instead, he held out the flower. "Dee..." His voice was hoarse. Her face lit up and she smiled at him, then patted the bed beside her.

"Hey." Hers was low and throaty and inviting.

"Hey." Yeah. Still hoarse.

"Well?" Huh? Oh. Oh.

McNab dropped his bag on the floor, carefully locked the door, and damn near stalked to the bed. He sat on the edge of the bed, handed Dee the flower, and she brought it to her face, sniffed it. "Pretty," she said, and smiled up at him, laying the bloom carefully on the bedside table. "C'mere."

"You sure?" God, what if she wasn't ready? What if last night's nightmare was still in her mind, scaring her, if...

"I'm sure." She reached up to push some hair behind his ear, brought his head down for a kiss.

They hadn't kissed, not really kissed, not like this, since the attack. And Jesus God, he had missed it. Missed her, missed being with her like this. McNab couldn't help himself; he just gathered her up and... "Ow!"

Oh God.

He froze, then very, very gently, laid her back on the bed.

"McNab..." He couldn't look at her. He had hurt her, and he couldn't look. "McNab... Ian... look at me." He shook his head, closed his eyes so he wouldn't - couldn't - see whatever look she was giving him. "Hey," Dee said, and her voice was gentle. She reached up again, tucked the hair behind his ear, and kissed him softly on the lips. "Look at me."

Not knowing what to expect from her, McNab opened his eyes. "I hurt you." 

"Not really."

"I did. I-"

"Shh..." Dee said, and laid her lips on his again. "You didn't hurt me. A twinge where someone else did. That's all." She nibbled on his lower lip. "We'll just have to be... caref- oh!"

"Hurts?" If he had hurt her again, he'd never forgive himself.

"God, no! Just... touch... yeah. There."

Okay, Ian McNab thought. Careful it is.

Chapter Text

"Just... touch... yeah. There."

There was an excellent place to touch, and She-Body really seemed to be getting into it. 

But then she arched up into the touch and gave a pained little gasp.

Shit! McNab thought, and pulled his hand away. God, how were they going to do this without hurting her?

"Ribs?" It was all he could think of to say, and she nodded, a tear escaping down her cheek. McNab took a deep breath. "Okay," he said softly; "Let's figure this out... if you still want to try..." He wanted to keep trying but Jesus, not if it hurt her.

"What about a blocker, a mild one, just for the ribs and the bruises?" There you are, my practical She-Body, he thought, and got up to get her one. "And...let's flip the script." She grinned at him as he handed her the blocker and a pink fizzy to wash it down.

"Ride 'em, cowgirl? Yeehaw!" He grinned back as he lay down on the bed beside her.

Peabody giggled. "Not at a gallop, cowboy. A nice, slow, amble of a walk."

"Not our usual style."

"No, it's not. That okay?"

"God, yes." She skimmed a hand down his skinsuit, unfastening it as she went. "Dee..."

"Shh..." He couldn't help himself, and reached for her. She batted his hands away. "Do we need the cuffs, Detective Cowboy?"

McNab closed his eyes but kept his hands to himself, clenching them in the sheets to keep from touching. "Up to you, pardner..."

"Lie still, then," Dee whispered, and peeled the skinsuit off him, then slid back up his body, kissing and nibbling as she went, avoiding the place he most wanted her touch. She lay on him, skin to skin, and murmured, "Open your eyes, Ian McNab, and watch me."

There was nothing ambling about it, but it was slow, and making love like this, achingly slowly and face-to-face and looking into her pretty eyes as she clenched around him and brought him over the edge and... McNab shuddered to completion under her warm body, murmuring her name.

And then they slept.