Chasing Butterflies - 6/9
Fandom: The Killing
Pairing: Stephen Holder/Sarah Linden
Category: Angst, Romance, Humor
Series/Sequel: Oh Snap!
Summary: They go separate ways but keep in touch
Warning: Adult Fanfiction, Spoiler for season two + three
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I´m writing for free.
Feedback: You feel me?
Word Count: 6.989
Released: April 2016
The sound of rain smacking against the window woke him up. The shitty beginning of another glorious day. Ah. For a second he considered hiding under the covers. Should they come and get him. Although he had succeeded in persuading Linden not to sleep in the car he felt like every bone in his body ached. Sure, you fool. Why are you surprised? You were walking around with cracked ribs. What´d you expected, huh? A miracle healing? Mm. Maybe. He turned around and could swear he heard a crack, but the empty space next to him was more chilling. Okay. No morning cuddle then. You missed your chance, Linden. He yawned. Hey. Though he was feeling whacked he hadn´t slept so soundly in a long time. So he should stop complaining. He was still alive, wasn´t he? Right. Scratching his belly he fantasized briefly about a different scenario. He and Linden making out in the light of a golden morning sun. Yeah, sure. He snorted and got up. Reality here I come.
Linden was sitting at the table in his small kitchen, a cascade of hair hanging down her back, drinking coffee.
He gaped at her like an idiot because she was just so damn fucking beautiful. "Morning."
She nodded curtly.
Okay. He joined her and took a mouthful. The coffee was strong but good. He glanced at her under downcast eyes. Who was that woman really? He´d only known her a few weeks now and yet he trusted her more than he trusted anyone. "Did you get some sleep?"
"Plenty. We can go back to work."
"Sure, but you just got out of that place...maybe, I don´t know, take a shower, rest a little..."
"So now it´s you, too?" A flash of hurt flitted across her face.
"Come on." He couldn´t stand her thinking he wasn´t on her side. "I´m just saying let´s have some food to go with this coffee." He gripped the cup tighter. "I´m starving."
"Me, too," she said, and winced.
"Right." Hey! I call that progress. He reached out and patted her hand. "You should eat something."
She shrugged. "Yeah. Okay."
He soared up from his seat, fueled with energy. The constant rain beating the glass wasn´t that bad anymore. "Breakfast burritos?" He beamed at her, feeling victorious. What the fuck? She hadn´t even slept with him. No. Maybe not the way he was dreaming about, rather she had been sleeping like a trusting child right next to him. Hey, man, that´s even better? She tolerated your touch and comfort. The woman who once hated the sheer sight of you turned into your BFF for real.
"Don´t break a sweat." She got up and washed her cup. "One burrito is fine."
"Coming right up."
She tied her hair into the usual ponytail. "We can eat it on the way."
"Whatever you say, mamacita." That earned him a wry smile. Okay. Maybe the day wasn´t going to turn into utter shit. You never know.
She went to the bathroom.
He kept busy making burritos and thinking about her naked. He grinned. Bad boy, Stephen. Get a hold of yourself.
She came back fully dressed.
Pity! He put the burrito in her hand. "How you feeling?"
That made her shut off again. "Come on. Hurry. We´ve to get back into the Casino and find that key card."
Shit! He should´ve known. Never mention feelings in a conversation with Sarah Linden. "Woah! Linden...They erased your mind while you were in that nuthouse? Remember the last time we went to the Casino?" No. She wasn´t listening.
"Come on. We can talk while we drive. Get dressed."
Yeah. He´d fucked up again. He wanted to knock his head against the wall. Instead he went to the bathroom to freshen up for a whole new day of being kicked around by possibly anyone out there who stood in the way of finding Rosie´s killer. Right. The weather fitted the day ahead just fine.
What d´you know. They didn´t get their asses kicked. No shit! They finally got the Federal Warrant to get back into the Casino legally. That made her smile. Hey. That alone made his day. He loved to make her lighten up if only for a bit. He was also kind of exhilarated to go back there and show them he was still standing tall. They had beaten him up and left him for dead but he was still here, still the man who fought back. Yeah, he and Linden were a team. A damn alliance.
That´s right. They walked back into the Casino like fucking heroes. Those bastards couldn´t touch them. He just smirked at those fucks today. They couldn´t do a goddamn thing to him. That they found nothing after searching the place for hours rained on his parade a little bit. Yet not entirely. Last night´s sleep and his and Linden´s present relationship made up for a lot. A lot.
Sure, he was irritated she only told him in the car that she had found the key card after all but hadn´t let him know in order to conceal it. Okay. Fine. Whatever worked for her. They finally had some profound evidence in their possession. One big fat clue. Yeah. He came down to Earth when they figured out they were being tailed. They were on their own and on the run. Hey! He made a swift turn and got rid of the surveillance team. He played them for fools. He was bubbling with delight. Nothing meant more to him than showing off in front of her. Cave man, right?
In front of City Hall Carlson caught up with them anyway. He must have bugged them some other way. "Come on, Sarah. It´s over."
He stepped into the breach for her. "How many units you got stalking us?"
"Stay out of this, Holder."
He didn´t. "Hope some old lady gets robbed right now and nobody´s responding."
"I´m trying to make this easy on you, Linden." Carlson ignored him. "No need for drama here."
Linden was cleverer and presented the evidence to Carlson. The man was halfway sold. At least he didn´t hold them back anymore. They got their chance to test if the keycard worked, and it did, though not for the mayor´s office, no, but for the new candidate´s office. Richmond! Jackpot!
They couldn´t bask in their success for long. Hunted by the security people they ran into the current mayor´s office. Linden was able to make a deal by blackmailing him with the once planted photo. Ha! What a smart move! He tried to keep his joy down. That woman kept surprising him. Well. The exciting part was over. Now they had to wait for the Casino security tapes to be ready. Glorious. Some things never change.
After a smoke in the car and discussing possible suspects who might own a keycard to Richmond´s office they split up to take care of different leads. He didn´t like that but it was the reasonable thing to do. They were close. They were on the verge of finding Rosie´s killer.
At the crack of dawn he was having breakfast waiting for her call. Yep. A bit of a letdown after yesterday. Not that he had any illusions that her having slept in his bed meant something. He snorted. Nah. No problem. At least she was talking to him now and they did trust each other. Yeah? Are you sure? Aren´t you grasping at straws here, man? Aren´t you too easily satisfied? He put his head against the window and looked up to the gloomy sky. Am I? And even if I am, is it important? Would it change anything if I doubt her for a damn second? There. His phone was ringing. It was her. She wanted his company. That meant she wasn´t keeping him out of the loop anymore. That´s what had changed. That was good enough for him.
The day went by with another visit to the casino, a bit of teasing from her side; Jesus, he could get used to that like to a new and exotic drug, plus talking to a witness, and Jamie, the smug asshole. The little shit didn´t give them anything and waved his City Hall key card in his face as if he was asking for the thing. Damn. A dead end again.
In the car he fished a cigarette out of the pack. She was reaching out to get one, too.
"It´s time for you to buy your own pack," he complained. Come on, woman. I don´t earn that kind of money. Show a little mercy. She smiled then, and he was beaten. Yeah, that´s that. He started the car. He couldn´t wait to get back on the hunt for murderers. A simpler task than taking any chances with her.
Finally in the late evening, after more talking, and hearing more or less lies, they managed to get back to his dojo to rest for a little. About fucking time. He felt utterly drained. His ribs were still hurting and his head was pounding. They both took a shower. No. Not together. Just thinking about such an option made him hard. Damn. Stop that, you moron. I thought you were exhausted. Yeah. Not enough to keep him from getting horny. Hey. That meant his body was recovering from the years of drug abuse. Okay. Fine. Not a problem. In record time he jerked himself off, washing the evidence down the drain. Oh, man. Jesus. What a ride.
He joined her in the living room and they ate in silence, which was a goddamn achievement, right? They discussed the evidence, drank lots and lots of coffee, and they smoked, oh hell, way too many coffin nails. They were rather cozy considering. So he dared to ask the question that had been eating away at him for days. "You never told me he was your shrink." He looked at her. "Rick."
"Nothing. I´m just saying." He shrugged. Oh, fuck. The way she stared at him. What now? What´s he supposed to say or do? He was just curious, okay? He didn´t want to offend her. Not anymore.
"You think I´m gonna go nuts again?"
What? Come on! He snorted. "Nah, Linden, I´ve got your back. That´s all I´m saying." The right words just came to him then. "Think of me as your sensei in the bloodsport of life."
She laughed, shaking her head in disbelief.
Okay. That went well. She was not mad then. He laughed, too. Yeah, he knew she thought he was joking but he was not. He was damn serious. He would strike everyone down who dared to hurt her. He would beat their asses. He would be her sensei in every fight she wanted to take on.
She invited him to sit next to her on the sofa. Not to do anything naughty, nah, just to show him something about the evidence, but still enough to make him happy.
Their peaceful intimacy didn´t last long, though. Soon they were back to the Casino because Linden had figured out a way to get their hands on the one disk the Indian security chief had kept from them until now. Finally they could watch the recording of the last person who took the elevator up to the roof that night and probably killed Rosie. Oh. Look at that. Jamie Wright. Richmond´s campaign manager.
The good thing was they were able to hunt Jamie down shortly after. He was with Darren Richmond in their office at City Hall. They had found the piece of shit who had beaten Rosie and stuffed her into the trunk of a car. The bad thing was what happened then. He remembered the mess all too clear. There was a lot of shouting, and Jamie pointing a gun at Linden, and then Jamie lying on the ground, dead. He had shot him, yeah. The guy had tried to hurt her. So he shot him. Point blank. He hadn´t had a second to think it over. He had shot a guy whose weapon wasn´t even loaded. For fuck´s sake. Jamie shouldn´t have pointed a gun at a police officer then. At Linden. He remembered that she touched him right after as if she wanted to make sure he was calm. She needn´t have worried. He was definitely calm. He was as cold as ice. He had killed a man. Yeah. He´d do it again to protect her. He was her sensei in the bloodsport of life.
Right. That night wasn´t the end of the whole mess, though. Nah. Jamie might have beaten Rosie half-dead and put her in the trunk of the car but he hadn´t pushed the car into the water. Someone else had done that. Linden was upset because they couldn´t find the last piece of the puzzle. He was just exhausted. He wanted the damn case to be over. He wanted to sleep for a week.
Instead he went with her to tell the Larsens about Jamie, and there of all places, they found the killer, more or less by coincidence.
The aunt who had been with her celebrity lover at the lake that night had pushed the car into the water. She pushed the car because the girl in the trunk could have destroyed her lover´s reputation and the future she had planned for them. She didn´t know it was her own niece she had condemned to die. Yeah. Some kind of evil justice. Tragedy. A pure fucking family tragedy. There were tears and screams and.... Horrible! It was fucking horrible, okay? He´d never witnessed anything like it and never wanted to ever again.
After they had brought the aunt into custody he was done. He couldn´t think anymore. He couldn´t stand up straight anymore. He couldn´t breathe for Rosie anymore. He just wanted to sleep forever. He wanted to shut out the world. The goddamn fucking world of violence and pain and loss. He found Linden in the office, sitting in the dark. Sure. The world felt dark today. He switched the light on. She just looked at him. Okay, woman. Got it. He switched the light off again and settled down with her. Well. She had been right. There was no bad guy only a perfect storm that had ended in tragedy. Right. Case closed.
"Got a smoke?" she said.
The nerve of her. "I'm out. You should quit. Save me some bank." He threw her badge on the table. "Carlson told me to give you this."
Officer Ron opened the door and switched the light on. "Hey. What´s going on?"
"What do you want, Ron?" he deadpanned. He didn´t like the glaring light one bit right now.
Ron handed him the film Rosie had made with her camera before she was killed.
"Turn the light off, close the door," he snarked. "Thanks."
The jerk left without doing any of those things.
Linden got up and took the film from him. She left him, switching the light off. She left him in the dark. She would watch the film. Fine. Whatever. He didn´t want to watch anything anymore. He went home and put the shades down. He shut the sun out and the world. He wanted to forget. Please, Jesus. Just for a second, or perhaps forever. Yeah, sure. Like that´s gonna happen.
She came around half an hour later. "Hey." She shrugged at him gaping. "I have no other place to go." She took her coat off and settled down on the sofa.
Did she intend to sleep there? No way. "Come on. We share. We already did. I´m not gonna try anything, you hear me? I behaved so far, didn´t I?"
"That´s not why... you did... I´m just..." Defiant she curled her hands around the battered blanket.
He couldn´t miss how red her eyes were, from the lack of sleep or crying watching Rosie´s little movie. "Okay. Fine." He tried to keep his head up. He tried to be the friend she needed. He didn´t want to upset her even more. "You missed your chance, Linden."
"You know what?" Her shoulders slumped like in defeat. "I agree on one condition."
Jesus! Now what? What did she have up her sleeve to boost his suffering? Come on, woman! Strike me down. "Sure. Name it."
"Keep your socks on. Your feet are really cold."
He chuckled. "Yeah, sorry. Addict. My hands are warm, though." He remembered holding her close.
"Yeah? I hadn´t noticed." She got up and went into the bathroom.
He grinned at his silly expression in the dark glass of the window. Oh, man. This is better than any made up fantasy. The grin was still on his face after they had settled down in bed. Once more he wallowed in the sight of her with her hair down. Oh snap! He closed his eyes and switched the light off. "Linden?"
"Why did you watch Rosie´s film?" Yes, why? What good did that to you? Why make Rosie´s suffering your own?
"Because it´s about the unbroken spirit of life."
"That´s good, but for now we should turn our backs on goddamn life and get a few hours of rest at least."
"I could if you´d stop talking already."
He stretched his limbs, his fingers touching her elbow. She didn´t flinch back. "Keep putting me down, 1-900. I can take it, you know." Yeah, his feet were cold, socks or no socks, but his body was warm and comfortable and the sensation of her being close was the best thing ever.
"The butterflies," she murmured, moving closer. "I love the swarm of Monarchs floating through the air. They are so beautiful."
"Sure, but now it´s time for us to get our beauty sleep." Hey you, do you know I´m addicted to you? I know you don´t feel the same. I know I´ll hurt myself. "You feel me?"
He smiled at the darkness, armed for whatever was waiting beyond. God, help me.
One day later his doubts were confirmed. Just after Linden had delivered Rosie´s movie to her family he got a call about a new case. Linden looked at him, as if she wanted to say sorry man, and then she got out of the car and walked away. She was finished working homicide. He couldn´t blame her, nah, but his heart ached anyway. He was sure she was leaving for good. Not that he could do anything about it. Not that he could hold her back. Not that she would stay for him. He was not important. Not long ago he had stumbled into her life by accident and now she moved on without him.
Right. He pulled himself together and carried on without her. No shit. He had been without her all his life. He got this. Sure. For one week he was running on empty. He slept. He ate. He worked the case. Hey, man. That ain´t living. No. You exist. Yeah, well. He just missed her so damn much. He was used to her pushing him. The office felt abandoned without her. He felt abandoned. He couldn´t deal without her. Not anymore. Fuck! How long did he know her? Four weeks. How could he feel that way? He had just met her. Seriously. These feelings were dangerous, for an addict a complete disaster even. Four fucking weeks! Yeah. He was downright nuts.
The day she strolled into the office he snapped like a rubber band. "Yo, Linden. What´s up?"
"Just packing the rest of my stuff."
She had once accused him of running his mouth off without thinking. Now he could barely nod, while he focused on the papers on his desk. "Got it. So when´s the flight to, you know, starts with an S, ends with an A?"
"Oh snap!" He jerked in his seat. "How come?"
"I need time to figure a few things out."
"So, you´re stayin´?" He tried not to get his hopes up, but his heart was beating a bit faster.
"Not on the job, but in Seattle."
"This is for real? Sonoma is done?"
"I think so."
"Good." He granted her with a kind of truth. "Wouldn´t be the same without you."
She smiled. "Take care, Holder."
"Hey, keep in touch. You´re my ride, you know?"
"I sure do," she said, throwing a pack of cigarettes into his lap.
She was out the door before he could even blink. For seconds he gaped at the doorway, and the peculiar gift sitting on his crotch, experiencing a buzz of sensations sizzling through his veins. Finally, he exhaled a wave of air, wondering if she would keep in touch like he asked her to or if she didn´t say no on the spot to make the good-bye easier. Hey. He could only wait for her to make a move. He could only wait for the day when she would see what was right in front of her. He could only wait. Right. Don´t kid yourself, man. You´re not a patient guy, and never will be. Waiting for the impossible to happen would drive him insane. He ripped the pack open and fished a cigarette out. He would take a break. He never needed a smoke more than now.
What d´you know. She stayed in touch. She called him off and on. Once a month they met for lunch and talked, mostly about the work he was doing, the case he was on. She didn´t tell much about herself and her life. Eventually the meetings grew fewer and well...they moved on. Nothing he hadn´t expected to happen. He got in touch with his sister again, and spent time with his nephew Davey as well as with his niece. She was a sweet little thing who wound him around her little finger easily. Somehow girls were more able to handle him. Yeah. Some more than others. He was keeping track of Linden, heard rumors about her doing this or that but nothing bad or serious. As long as she was okay he was fine. Not radiant but fine.
One day he met Caroline. She was kind. She was good-looking. She was into him. Yeah. Well. He couldn´t chase after Sarah Linden forever, right? Not that he actually had been chasing her. He was sure Linden didn´t have a clue he wanted her. Hey. He was still a man. He needed someone to talk to, and someone to keep him warm at night. He needed. He needed to let go of her. That was a fact. Chasing Linden was like chasing butterflies, those beautiful but fragile creatures you weren´t allowed to touch. Ever. Right. He settled with Caroline, pushing his love for Linden back to a secret place in his very heart. He also worked his way up in the department and got a new partner. Reddick wasn´t the best or the smartest but he was okay. He was predictable. No surprises waiting to bite him in the ass.
So. Life flowed smoothly for some time. No adventure or excitement stirring it up a bit. That was good, though. He didn´t get hurt this way. Then a new murder case came up and caught his attention. He noticed the similarities at once. The killer who was supposed to be behind bars had killed again. The Picasso case. Linden. Fuck. He didn´t even pretend to think the next step over. He went to her house to talk to her. He liked having an excuse to see her again. 1-900 Sarah Linden. No. He was not over her. He knew he´d never be over her. Nah, he wouldn´t burden her with any of his shit. "What up, Linden?" he greeted her, beaming.
She was all smiles, too, making tea, telling him about how great it was living out here on Vashon. "Nice suit by the way."
"You know how we do." Yeah, no hoodies anymore. He was a goddamn suit. "So what? You still... still smoke?"
"No. I...I gave that up a while ago. You?"
"No. No. I´m nicotine free." He didn´t know why he was lying. "It´s been a year." He was stupid. What difference did it make if she knew he smoked or not? She wasn´t his girlfriend, for fuck´s sake. Why was he always behaving like an idiot in her presence? Okay. Chill. Stay on track. He told her about how well work was going and that he was going to take the sergeant exam in a month. Yeah. He showed off a bit. That didn´t hurt anyone, did it? She appeared impressed. He was starting to feel good when the guy stumbled into the room.
"Cody, this is Holder," Linden introduced him. "We used to work together. And this is Cody. We work together now."
"Well, how do you do?" he said, shaking the guy´s hand. Oh snap! He was young. He was obvious. Damn. He didn´t need to be a detective to know what was going on. Right. Linden couldn´t wait to get rid of the guy and Cody more or less satisfied her wishes by fleeing. He laughed. Yeah. What else should he do? "Ain´t that sweet, Linden is datin'."
"I´m not dating."
Jesus, she was cute being that awkward. "Bootycalling then. Dial 1-900-Linden?"
"You want milk? Or are you still doing that lactovegan thing?"
"Is he one of uh Jack´s friends?" No. He couldn´t let it go. He had to tease her to get over his fucking jealousy. So, she was sleeping with her present partner. In the past she had slept with another partner and her psychiatrist. Why in hell was he the exception? What was so special about him? Why didn´t she take him to bed like all the other guys?
She let out a strangled laugh.
"No. I... I´m not... judging. I mean that... that´s just sexy, you know? How did that play out? He come knocking on the door and... and you open up in your sexy lingerie?" Oh, man. Now he was picturing, definitely picturing. He was such a loser still wanting her. No wonder she shunned him for good.
"You´re not funny."
He knew that. He was coming on to her like an idiot, and she didn´t even notice. Damn. You have a girlfriend. "And he´s like 'Is Jack home?' - 'No no Jack is out playing but'..." Stop that shit!
"Blah blah blah blah blah blah," she mocked him, but she laughed.
"...come inside and wait." He laughed, too. He played Mr. Cool. So, they had a laugh about her love life, and he didn´t give her the slightest clue that he was jealous as hell about some boy toy. Whoa! Goddamn. Chill, idiot.
Linden didn´t take his bait but skipped the subject.
Good. Be happy she didn´t know. Keep it that way. They settled down talking about little man Jack and his new girlfriend. "You know we text every now and then? Keeps me in the loop."
"Yeah, he always liked you for some reason."
Oh, hey! "What´s not to like?" he countered, giving her his most serious look. Come on, admit it. You dig me. Kind of.
She smiled. "So why are you here?"
Aw. There you go. Time to ruin the happiness. "Uh that case you were working on a couple of years ago, the Picasso kid who did that drawing? Mom was a hooker got her head almost cut off?" And it´s done. The light disappeared from her eyes like a flame being snuffed out. Damn. Good job, Stephen. "Caught a body this morning." He told her about the similarities.
She didn´t believe there was a connection. She was certain they had caught the killer three years ago and put him away.
He knew that, of course, as well as that the killer was supposed to be executed in a few days. He asked her for the old case files to look them up. She didn´t have anything against it. Problem was the files were not where they were supposed to be. She said someone just must have misplaced the boxes. He would find them if he kept looking. "I have to go."
Okay. Fine. Their first conversation in months was over. Whatever the reason was she had shut off. That woman. Still an enigma. He walked to the door hoping she would change her mind. "You tell little man I said, you know..."
"Mmh yep sure," she said, eager to get rid of him.
No. She wouldn´t. She was as stubborn as ever. "Looking good, Linden." He couldn´t go without saying that. It was true. She was looking gorgeous. Fuck that Cody. He was sure the guy didn´t even know how lucky he was.
"Hey, Holder. Not every victim´s worth it. You know, you start caring...you´ll end up like me, working minimum wage on a ferry."
Now he could see the sadness hiding underneath her smile. "Never thought the day would come I´d hear that from you." Okay. Happy now. You saw her again. Nothing has changed. She´ll never feel the same as you. About time you carve her out of your heart.
He went scouting the streets for clues and bought a pack of Victories. Duh! He really needed one, or maybe two. Smoking he noticed a boy and a girl staring at him. Street kids. They could know something. He approached them and started asking questions. The boy´s attitude was damn cheeky and hey, surprise. The little rat was not a boy but a girl. Okay. A girl that infuriated him. Not that he wasn´t already steamed up because of his fucked up meeting with Linden. The other girl called the little rat Bullet. Oh, man. That fits. He tried to stay in control and walked away. She kept attacking him. Okay. Time to teach her a lesson. He grabbed her by the throat. "You wanna act like a man I´ll treat you like a man. Make no mistake about it. I´ll swipe the floor with your little baby butch bitch ass right in front of your little skankho girlfriend. You feel me?" Yo. He must be damn frustrated threatening little girls who were fucked up enough by life already. Shit! He let go of her and walked away. His phone rang. Caroline. Good. He needed to hear her voice to come down. "Hey, babe." He took a deep breath. "Nah. Nothing is wrong." Just that I´m still rooting for my old partner and can´t stop thinking what I did wrong to let her drift away from me. My BFF. I just want her back in my life. Sorry. That´s not fair to you. Say that again. I´m listening now.
Although he and Reddick handed the Jane Doe case over to Jablonski he couldn´t stop thinking about it. He lied to his partner and went over to pick up the results from the coroner. He then even talked to the parents of the dead girl. No surprise that the mom started crying. Shit! Why was he doing this to himself? Why didn´t he keep to drug cases? How fucked up was he? Just do your job and stay away from goddamn homicides. Stay away from Linden and live your life. Yeah. Maybe he would have succeeded if she wouldn´t have come to the office herself. Not like a normal person, though, rather like a criminal hiding in the shadows.
He wouldn´t let her get away. Not on his watch. He switched the light on. "Damn, Linden. What the hell are you doing here in the middle of the night, sneaking around in the dark?"
She didn´t even wince. "I was returning the file you forgot at my place."
"That´s where it was."
"I´ve been looking all over for it. I thought I lost it." No. He didn´t. He knew exactly why he´d forgotten it there. He knew she couldn´t resist reading it through. Mm. That´s done. He settled in his chair.
"What are you doing here so late?"
"You know. Clock never stops. Digging around down in storage halfway to China, still no Seward file."
"Well, it sounds like you have a long night ahead of you. Good luck." She started turning away.
No. Come on. You can´t go now. "You miss it?" You miss me? Just a bit? I know I´ve missed you a hell lot.
She stopped in the doorway. "What?"
Instead of an answer he opened the file checking out the gruesome details for the hundredth time.
"No, I mean, I didn´t really look."
"No? Not curious at all?" He didn´t believe her. In that matter he knew her too well. "Just opened it up, closed it real quick, brought it right back?"
I got you, babe. "Stepping into that bouillabaisse at the factory nearly ruined my hush puppies, too." He glanced at her shoes. What you say now? Still denying it?
"Why did she get out of the car?" she started discussing the case.
There. I got you hooked. Yet he didn´t make a scene. No grinning or gloating. Keep cool and reel her in. Mm. He fetched his ball from the desk and rolled it between his fingers listening to her theories. He needed to keep his hands busy to hold himself back from doing something terribly stupid like jumping her. Okay. He could do this. He could keep the joy out of his voice adding one or two of his own theories.
She came back in and sat down. They talked for a little while. Yes. She once more confirmed she was sure they had caught the guy back then and that he was wrong.
He threw the ball and caught it. "Back to square one."
"Yeah, well, good luck," she said and got up.
"Hey, Linden. Get them dogs cleaned." Her mistake with the shoes made his gloomy day a little brighter. Sure. Fact was that woman always made his day brighter. That little nighttime intermezzo got his juices flowing. Yeah, man. He got up, fished a pack of cigarettes out of his jacket hanging over the chair and looked at it. The pack was empty but for one cig. It was the pack she had given to him years ago. That how pathetic he was. He had kept an old and crumpled pack just because the damn thing was the only object she had ever given to him. The mojo he took with him wherever he went these days. He sighed. Time to go home and let Caroline take care of him.
Reddick wasn´t happy that he talked to Linden about the case. He didn´t stop putting her down, calling her a bad first partner and implying they had performed sex with him bending her over the hood while working together. Yeah, sure! He wished. "Hey. It wasn´t like that, all right?" He was close to punching the asshole in the face. My God! Thanks to a woman who was neither a lover nor a family member. So, yeah, he was in a goddamn bad temper when he bumped into the tomboy Bullet. She was looking for her friend Kallie and he was in the mood to treat her like crap again. No. Not one of his finest moments. Sometimes he just wanted to hit something so hard until blood was spilled. His blood. Some girl´s blood. Whatever made this longing go away. He couldn´t imagine why Caroline put up with him. He was a low-life tweaker. A redneck. Streetscum. Right. That´s why he treated the streetgirl that bad. She reminded him of himself on his worst days. Yeah. No shrink needed to figure that out.
In the evening with Caroline he was feeling like a piece of shit. She took care of him and treated him like a human being. Sure he liked her. He liked her a lot actually. He didn´t love her, though. He was sure about that, too. She was so sweet to him, but he didn´t deserve that. Rather he deserved a kick in the ass, a slap to the face, and maybe off and on a kiss. Right. He took all the warmth and sweetness to make the misery he saw every day a little bit better. He was using her. He was a selfish asshole.
The stress went up a few notches when Linden found all those bodies in a lake. Man, was he pissed. "What the hell, Linden?"
"What do you want, Holder?"
"Next time you decide to work my case, you mind giving me a heads-up?"
"It´s a crime scene. I called the cops."
"How´d you find this place?"
"Sarah," Skinner interrupted their conversation. She rushed over to talk to him and everything changed due to his arrival.
Skinner. The boss. Linden´s changed behavior around the man was a blow. Was that the guy? The guy who kept her hanging around in Seattle? The guy who made her stop running? He knew she didn´t stay because of him. No way. So. That guy. Fuck. He was surprised how much it hurt. Skinner wasn´t just some guy she was banging like boatman Cody. No. He sensed a serious attachment. Skinner could be the guy.
"I´ll see you back at the station," Skinner said, and left to talk to the press.
He and Linden kept standing at the shore of the lake. "Looks like you found the Seward file," he said, while the constant rain was pissing down on the evil that men were able to do.
The damn day got worse the second he figured out that she was back on the force and the case. Okay. He was stumped rather than pissed but still... He didn´t get what she was playing at. Well. He never did, did he? He snorted. He hadn´t seen that coming. He didn´t feel threatened, nah, rather he was concerned that her constant presence was firing up his longing to a painful degree. No shit. He didn´t need this.
Reddick didn´t wait long until he started complaining and gossiping. "You know they hooked up."
"Who?" Oh, man. He knew this was coming since she walked into the precinct.
"Skinner and your old lady." Reddick paused to nail the effect down. "Linden, man. Skinner and Linden used to bang. Back when they worked together."
Duh! I already figured that out, so shut the fuck up. He rolled his eyes to ridicule Reddick.
"Why do you think we´re out here tracking down pimps while she´s back at the office cozying up to the boss? Pension and a paycheck. Can´t wait till I retire. I´ll come back every year and do my 172 days and make double."
"Linden quit," he snarled. "She don´t get a pension." He was almost glad work in the shape of an underage girl and a nasty old guy arrived, so he could stop talking about the crap. The girl gave him a tip to find Bullet.
Oh snap! The little woman looked messed-up. Someone had hurt her pretty good making his anger towards her dissolve into nothing. He only felt pity now. She turned cooperative when she heard he was looking for Kallie. He followed her tip about some pimp named Goldie. They didn´t find Kallie at the place but enough sick stuff to bust that piece of shit.
At the office he bumped into Linden in the hallway. "Yo, Linden."
She didn´t turn around.
Hey! Look at that. "What, are you mad at me now?"
"I wasted my entire morning looking for some kid that you had already talked to. I heard Bullet put you onto that guy."
"I guess we´re even. No, we´re not even even. You´re still like minus-three. You know, it might be helpful if we were on the same page on this, Linden. You know, no man is an island, not even you." Ha! Bull´s eye. He had her.
She turned around and looked at him. "Adrian Seward drew those trees. That´s why I was in the woods."
"Picasso." Oh, fuck. That was some big hot mess cooking. The one case that almost broke her apart, the one that got her committed to the mental institution, the case she couldn´t forget or let go of. Finally she admitted there might be some connection between the man on deathrow, Seward, and the girls they had found. That meant it was possible the killer was still on the loose and Seward was innocent. Shit. That was why she was back and fate took its course. Somehow he ended up watching out for two girls. One was already half-mad due to being a victim of obsessing way too much. The other one was an underage tomboy raging at him for not doing anything. Either way he was fucking screwed.
Despite his worries he was once again drawn to her like a moth to the light, though she was filled with darkness. So, she had slept with Skinner, boatman Cody, her shrink Rick, and that FBI fop. All partners in some way. Why hadn´t she slept with him then, huh? Was he untouchable in some way? Was he such a creep in her eyes? Why was he the exception to the rule?
Whatever! The pitiable fact was he couldn´t stay away. After his shift was done he headed back to the office, to sit with her, watch her, and listen to her voice. He needed that as much as a thirst being sated, and only now was he able to stop feeling restless. He wasn´t far from being sent to the mental place himself.
"Punched out. Get his beauty sleep. Me, I´m already beautiful, so..." He smirked.
There. She smiled at his stupid joke like a queen...
...which made this shitty day glorious in spite of the hell waiting ahead. Right. He didn´t doubt that some kind of hell was coming for them.
Yet he wouldn´t leave her.