Dani is the kind of girl who pokes at bruises.
Sometimes it's to remind herself of where they are, other times it just to see whether they still hurt.
Tidwell doesn’t seem to know what to do after Roman, everything he does is either too much or not enough and Dani doesn’t know what just right looks like to help him. He pushes when he should step back, gives her space when she needs him there and the whole experience is suffocating.
He watches her like he is watching for cracks in a pond. Analysing every creak and shift for signs it will crumble underneath him.
He’s trying to fix her when she knows she was broken in the first place.
She only feels relief when he stops calling. She supposes she should feel upset or disappointed but she always knew something would come between them, she had even guessed it might be his lack of trauma. Tidwell is a lifelong cop with all the actions that go along with it but he has never been broken like she has and the way he is whole where she is incomplete means he will never quite understand.
The psychologists keep her out for over a month and not drinking nearly kills her.
She sees Crews for the first time a week into her psychiatrist enforced vacation. He’s standing in her doorway, he’s eating fruit.
“Mango?” He offers her the fruit cup he is cradling. “It’s not the best variety but it is sweet and juicy.”
She laughs at him, laughs until they turn into choked sobs. He watches as she sags into the doorway and then follows her inside and offers her fruit again.
Dani has never just visited Crews, the first time she saw his house was because he had just shot his father in it but she finds herself standing on his porch nevertheless.
It's not Crews who answers the door but Ted. He is surprised to see her, she knows this because the man’s face is an open book, she can only imagine what that led to back behind bars.
“Detective Reese,” he starts, nervous and twitchy like the tiny dogs her mother had once owned. “It’s wonderful to see you, did you need anything?”
She wants to remind him that she’s not here in an official capacity but isn’t sure whether he’ll take it as a joke (isn’t sure whether he really may need the reminder).
“I just wanted to see Crews, is he home?”
She sees the minute wave of relaxation in his shoulders and around his eyes and is forcibly reminded that like Crews, like her, this man is not far removed from a cage.
“Not at the moment, I asked him this morning when he would be home and he told me that he was already home, that every moment had already happened and in some he would be home and in others not, then he ate a pear. I think that meant he wasn’t sure.”
He looks at her, suddenly perceptive.
“You can wait for him inside if you like, I’m just doing some unpacking, I could make you a cup of coffee.” He stands back from the door and Dani find herself following him.
“You been on a trip?” She asks, feeling awkwardly obliged to offer conversation.
“Looking for someone.” He replies quietly.
He shakes his head, turning into the kitchen so she can see his face in profile.
“She didn’t want to be found.”
Crews doesn’t seem surprised to see her at his dining table when he returns. To be fair he is still far more likely to be surprised by the functions of a cell phone than anything else in the world he approaches with such wide eyed enthusiasm.
“Reese!” He greets her with his usual smile.
“Crews, you have furniture.” The dining table and associated chairs are in fact furniture, they are also standing alone in a large empty room.
“Rachel told me a table was not clutter, it’s furniture.”
“She’s right. Where is she? I’ve been here a while and I haven’t seen her.”
“She’s in Europe, backpacking. It’s a rite of passage.” And he was smart enough to get a weak spot out of the country. For a moment Dani wonders if Roman would have taken her instead, that bruise hurts more than most.
Silence falls and she feels no need to fill it. Crews sits down across the table from her and plucks an orange from the fruit bowl, the sole decoration in the room. The smell of citrus is almost overwhelming, even in the large room but Dani sits back and watches Crews carefully flay the fruit then just as carefully eat the segments one by one.
“The psychologists are making me stay out longer.” She offers into the silence. Crews finishes his mouthful of orange before he replies.
“The Captain told me.” His face says Tidwell told him more than that, she just hopes she doesn’t turn up on his photobook of failures.
“I don’t need it.” She sounds defensive. She’s not … she shouldn’t be.
“I know.” Crews replies and for a moment Dani contemplates all the sentences that have never been said because someone created the phrase ‘I know’. It can mean anything from a simple confirmation of understanding to a derisive rebuke. Crews’ response is anything but a simple confirmation of understanding. Tidwell has never been broken, Ted was at fault in his but only Crews knows what it’s like to be put into a cage through no fault of your own.
“I’m not better, but they can’t expect me to be, I wasn’t before.” It’s the first time she’s spoken these words to him, acknowledged the broken pieces, the boyfriends, the drugs. Jack.
“We are never who we were.” Is the answer he gives her. He knows, there is only the barest skeleton of Charlie Crews from before in the skin of the one she knows now.
She looks at him again, she has watched him patch the holes in his skeleton just as she has poked at the holes in her own. He watches her back, silent and then offers her a slice of orange.
She takes it.