Word Count: 1400
Disclaimer: Life isn't mine (except my own)
Summary: “We can’t do most things without making a mess, Reese,” he says. “That’s the beauty of life.”
galfridian gave me an amazing prompt some four months ago, which was: "there are things sadder / than you and i. some people/do not even touch"
(ilu Jess sorry for taking forever)
His fingers smooth over the orange, the rough surface grazing against his skin. His thumb presses in, sinks in, the juice spilling around his thumbnail, the sweet tangy smell rising swiftly around him. He peels off a piece of the skin, his eyes focused on his hands rather than the woman in front of him.
“Crews,” she says.
He lets the pieces fall onto the table in front of him, his gaze steady on his work.
“Reese,” he says, his voice as steady as his gaze, his head tilting to the side a little as if to hear her better.
“We got a lead,” she says. He nods, his eyes flicking up momentarily to meet hers. His fingers catch a long piece, and he eases the peel from the flesh, the orange settling naked in his palm. “You’re making a mess,” she says, nudging the trash can from the wall to the side of his chair with her foot. She shuffles the file in her hand, and carefully brushes the orange peel off the table.
His fingers settle into the hollow of the orange, gently pulling it into halves. He offers one to her, his eyes back on hers, his palm facing upwards in supplication. She rolls her eyes, shaking her head and already walking backwards to the door.
“You’re gonna want to wash your hands before you get in the car,” she says. “You can’t eat an orange without making a mess.”
“We can’t do most things without making a mess, Reese,” he says. “That’s the beauty of life.”
Her waist is heaving beneath his hands, her breath coming in short pants. He can feel the trembles wracking her body, separated as they are by cloth and blood.
“Reese,” he says, her name falling from his lips like a demand, his fingers pressing deeper into her side, as if he can hold her together—as if she needs holding together.
“I’m fine,” she says, “Crews, I’m fine, it’s just a scratch, it just nicked me, okay?”
He doesn’t let her go, not yet—he’d followed her down to the ground after she’d fallen, after she’d been shot. He’d followed her down—after he’d shot the man that had shot her—and his palms had searched for her skin, had settled on top of torn cloth and seeping blood, and he had felt his breath time itself unevenly to hers, rushing unsteadily through his lungs, his ears echoing with the gunshots and loud with the sound of his own racing pulse.
“Just a scratch,” he says, the words tripping over his tongue in their dash to escape. He hasn’t let her go, as if he needs holding together, but her hand finally settles over his wrist.
He pulls back slowly, watching her shirt peel away from his bloody hand. It’s just a scratch. She was only nicked.
His head is too close to hers. He’s breathing in her exhalations, his other hand is still pressed against her uninjured side.
“I’ll call it in,” he says, and he finally lets her go. He reaches for his phone with one hand, and she tightens her grip on his wrist with the other, pulling him back to her wound.
“Keep pressure on it,” she says, her words hovering somewhere between excuse and demand, and he nods, nods, nods, his nose brushing briefly against her cheek as he settles against her, still kneeling before her on the cement ground.
“This is a terrible movie,” Reese says.
“It is,” Crews says. She rolls her eyes at him, looking over at where he’s slouched into the other side of her couch.
“Then why did you follow me home and insist we watch it?”
“You always want answers, Reese.”
“Yeah. I’m a detective, Crews, kinda comes with the territory.”
“Answers are only as good as the questions you have. Truths are much more important—truths exist beyond questions; truths don’t wait for the right collection of words to be revealed.”
“You do that just to piss me off, don’t you?”
“That’s another question,” Crews hums. She throws the remote at him, but she can’t quite hide the twist of her lips in time, and out of the corner of her eye she sees him meet her betraying smile with one of his own.
He pulls the car over on the side of a dusty road. They’re surrounded by fields on all sides, and they’ve spent most of the day in the car. An hour and a half to get to their runaway witness, an hour and a half drive to find out that their supposed runaway witness has been dead for four years.
They’re only half an hour into their hour and a half drive back, and it’s already late afternoon.
There’s a truck selling strawberries ahead of them, though, and Crews opens the car door, lifting pleased eyebrows in Reese’s directions. Another time she might stay in the car, lean against the door, and sigh, but right now she’s welcoming the opportunity to stretch her legs. Besides, she’s thirsty, and the truck has bottled water, as well, and they skipped lunch in all the chaos of long dead witnesses that they’d met only yesterday.
Crews buys two small boxes of strawberries, and then pauses, turns, and buys a third, balancing it carefully on top of the others. Reese grabs the waters, squinting into the sun as she takes in the heat on the back of her neck and the cool breeze slowly drifting through the trees.
By mutual thought, they drive a few more miles and pull over again, sitting on the front bumper and splitting the strawberries. Their hands are sticky before they’re done, and Reese’s mouth has never felt so sweet, her skin has never felt as warm as it does right now. Crews strips off his suit jacket and rolls his sleeves up, and Reese takes off her heels and sets them behind her, flexing her feet.
They’re silent for a while, and Reese tilts her head back, taking in the sun and the silence, and the way she can feel Crews looking at her as if he thinks she can’t tell. When they finally speak, they pick up the threads of the case once more, examining it from every direction, and it’s not until they finally start to get below the surface that she tugs her heels back on.
Crews leaves his jacket off and his sleeves rolled up, and they keep the windows down the whole ride back.
Her hand settles on the small of his back, and she can feel the muscles beneath his shirt tense slightly.
“Reese,” he says, relaxing against her, and it’s only then that he turns his head to look at her—only then that he can see her face.
She curls her fingers in slightly, until her nails press gently through his shirt, the heel of her hand steady against him.
“I want to know,” she says. “Don’t leave me out of the loop again.”
He gazes at her for a long moment, but she meets his eyes steadily, certainly. She flattens her hand back against him, her fingers flexing against his shirt. She can feel him inhale, exhale, inhale, and then he nods.
“Okay,” he says. “What do you want to know?”
“I don’t want answers,” she says. He hasn’t broken their gaze, and she can’t quite bring herself to. “I want the truth.”
His lips twitch into a smile, and she wonders for a moment if it is as unwilling as hers once was.
She leans against his kitchen counter as she peels the grapefruit, and his eyes follow the graceful lines of her hands. There is something that presses against his chest, the way she moves so easily in and around the hollows of his house, but for the moment he focuses on her work.
She cuts the grapefruit into fourths when she’s done, and then slides half towards him. She lifts her other hand, her thumb briefly darting between her lips as she licks off excess juice, and then she settles the knife in the sink.
“Okay,” she says, pulling her own plate of a half a grapefruit towards her. She gestures with her head towards the files at the other end of the counter. “Where were we?”
He doesn’t move towards the papers, doesn’t look away from her face.
“Here,” he says. “Reese, we were right here.”