Sometimes it annoyed Dani, the way Crews could take one look at her in the morning and know she hadn’t slept, or there had been nightmares, or she’d woken sweaty and shaking and not having any idea as to why. It had been something like infuriating at the beginning, but as she got used to him, it was more of just a background irritation, until it became something completely else, something like reassuring. She tried not to consider that response too much, since such exploration only ended with her being pissed at Crews for things that validly weren’t his fault.
The problem was, he was so damn good at being her friend on days like that, days when she needed it the worst. Dani’d had friends, in college, at the academy, she’d known people who had her back. But it had been a while, certainly before the addiction, before days of withdrawal and months of pulling herself out of the hole she’d managed to dig without even noticing. She knew what having friends felt like.
Crews was different. He was obtuse and had avoidance issues and she was pretty sure he lied to her more than she normally allowed, but he was also kind in a way none of Dani’s friends had historically been. She’d always thought she wasn’t into that sort of thing. Maybe she wasn’t; maybe he was the exception. All she knew, was, when he took heat from the captain for her, or brought her coffee made just right, or even just whispered little factoids softly instead of blurting them out, she kind of thought she might like different, might need it.
For every case with turns and twists and overtime put in, there were at least three, four, even five that were fairly open-shut. Figuring in paperwork, Crews and she could still find themselves off by six, seven at the latest. Dani appreciated this more on days after bad nights, days where she wanted a drink so damn much she was amazed she wasn’t shaking with it. Of course, those were also the days when it was safest for her to be at work.
She rarely wanted to, but when Crews offered to take her to dinner those nights, she accepted, because it was smarter than allowing herself to be alone. The first time she’d gone with him she’d expected something awful, a raw food bar or something else that would appeal to his need for fresh foods. Instead he’d driven her down the Santa Monica Pier, his speed blithely, completely illegal, and bought her the biggest cheeseburger she’d ever encountered.
He hadn’t pressed her for details, hadn’t even spoken much, at least, not for him. He had made her walk barefoot in the sand and wait until she was hungry enough for ice cream to allow them to go back. Dani couldn’t seem to find it in herself to mind all that much.
Dani didn’t have the horse-sense regarding Crews’s bad days that he seemed to have with her, but there were times she could tell, all the same. She wasn’t like him, didn’t have the quiet kindness that rode alongside the parts of him burned away by the need for revenge, by the empty misery of prison. She wasn’t maternal or even particularly warm. But for all that, she’d learned where the best fruit stand between her apartment and the precinct was.
He liked rare fruits better than common ones, and common ones most when in season. Without realizing it, Dani somehow came to know what the right season was for an apple, an orange, a melon. Mostly, Dani thought, he liked it when she picked something out for him, brought it to him like a sign she cared.
Eventually, their bad days collided. It was bound to happen, between the two of them, but they’d avoided it for long enough that Dani had begun to pretend they had a cycle, an understanding. She found herself going to the damn fruit stand anyway, because it felt familiar, like something to hold onto.
When she returned, there was an array of candy bars on her desk, some the good stuff, like Godiva, and some plain-old Baby Ruths. Dani looked over at the box of strawberries she’d laid on Crews’s desk. She wasn’t much for fruit, really, but strawberries were an exception.
She looked up at where he was watching her, not doing the paperwork that neither of them had the patience for just then. “You have a fondue pot anywhere in that oversized monster of a kitchen-like room of yours?”
Crews smiled. “I’m sure we can improvise.”