Waiting in the Dark - 7/9
Fandom: The Killing
Pairing: Stephen Holder/Sarah Linden
Category: Angst, Romance, Humor
Series/Sequel: Oh Snap!
Summary: They save each other from falling apart.
Warning: Adult Fanfiction, Spoilers for season three
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I´m writing for free.
Feedback: You feel me?
Word Count: 8126
Released: May 2017
As usual he and Linden skipped sleep and suffered through the night; though the only high point was that Bullet delivered a tip that ended in an arrest. Some shitty people doing shitty things. Right. The world was a dark place where it was raining all the time.
He snubbed Reddick after he once more insulted Linden and went talking to Bullet. Linden was his BFF no matter how things were between them.
The little punk was sleeping on a chair in the hallway.
He nudged her awake and joined her, offering food. "Go on. Go on. Live a little."
She didn´t want it. "My body is a temple."
Girl, that´s my line. "Suit yourself, Bullet." He kept eating his veggies.
The little shit went on ranting, calling him a rabbit, some big, hairless albino Bugs Bunny.
He shrugged. "Okay. I´m cool with that. See, I like rabbits." You know what? I even like you. "Bugs Bunny´s the bomb."
Yeah. He liked her. He didn´t tell, though. Never tell a streetbabe that you like her. Never tell the woman you love you care. Never show a weakness or you´re done in this world where only the strong survive. Whatever. A chat about rabbits didn´t hurt nobody, right?
She fetched her bag and got going.
"You stay safe out there, you hear?" He hoped she would get a few hours of shuteye. He won´t be that lucky.
The early morning brought an official meeting to discuss the new leads. Caroline, being the ADA, was attending, too. He could tell that she was curious about Linden. He could feel she wanted to meet the woman he he'd been talking about plenty. Sometimes he wished Caroline would kick his ass for no reason whatsoever; just to show him that she cared enough to be jealous. At least one person should be jealous about him. Linden wasn´t. She didn´t care who he fucked or not.
The meeting had just ended and Caroline had left when Linden called him. "Hey, Holder. Come here."
He didn´t jump like a rabbit, but didn´t hesitate either, though he was in the middle of eating. He didn´t regret his eagerness because she showed him a new clue. He had just settled in with her when Reddick burst in and called him away. He didn´t have a choice but to leave.
Sitting in the car waiting for their suspect to make a move, he made the mistake of opening his goddamn mouth. "You don´t have to be so hard on Linden, man. She´s not that bad."
"You wanna put your career in her hands?"
"What the hell you talking about? I´m not putting my career in anyone´s hands." Shut up, okay? Shut up or I´ll put a sock in it. He didn´t have to because their suspect was driving off. They chased after the guy to a dump site. They drove right into a trap with the fucking press. Fuck! The boss man was right for raging at them. This was a fucking mess.
Yet Reddick had no reason to wreck Linden for her theories. It wasn´t her fault what had happened tonight. She had an idea and she was asking for his help. Reddick couldn´t keep his mouth shut. He knew that wouldn´t end well. He knew Linden. She would hammer Reddick. He almost pitied his partner. Nah. He didn´t.
"Carl, why are you still here?" Linden started innocuously.
"What?" Reddick said, clueless.
"What are you doing here? I mean, really. Haven´t you ever wondered why you never made sergeant? I´ll tell you why. Because twenty-three years of experience and all you are is in the way," Linden said, and with that slap in the face she walked out of the room.
Reddick looked at him. "I´m talking to Skinner about her."
Yeah? Good luck with that. You said yourself they were banging. He said nothing because he was afraid to say something in her favor or worse - he could laugh at Reddick for being an ass. He let his partner go, and followed Linden outside. "Yo, Linden."
She turned around and threw a cigarette to the ground.
Oh, sweet. "I´m coming with you." Caught you red-handed, huh? "But I´m driving."
Almost humbly she handed him the keys, though she looked pleased about his unexpected company.
Oh, yeah? Stop fucking dreaming. Stop wanting more than you can have. He slipped into the driver´s seat, not talking. He didn´t need to. They knew each other well enough for the silence not to feel awkward. They were good. They were doing their thing.
They came back to the office with a name. Joe Mills. He checked him out on the computer.
"So, what´d you say to Carl, anyway?"
"He´s gonna hate you."
"Not as much as he hates you."
"I can´t guarantee you´re gonna make sergeant by working with me."
Oh, hey! He leaned back, looking at her. "What makes you think I need your help?"
"What´s up with that ADA anyway? You two a thing?"
Oh? Did you notice? "You jealous?" he joked, but he wasn´t joking at all. He craved her jealousy.
She laughed. Ridiculous!
He smiled in spite of himself. Happy now? You know she isn´t. Don´t make this any harder. Don´t hurt yourself.
The computer spat out results and saved him from further questions about Caroline, saved him from making a complete ass of himself, or worse, making him move in for a kiss. Jesus! I´m tired! Time to take a nap.
The next day started innocently enough, considering he was working as a detective for the Homicide Division. The old gal he and Linden had busted turned out to be Joe Mill's mom. The news gave them permission to search the home of Mill´s girlfriend, who was the mom of one of the missing girls: Kallie.
Linden got a little heated talking to the neglecting mom, and she crossed the line. "People like you shouldn´t have kids."
Uh, hey. Time to sweep in. "There´s nothing here, Linden. Let´s go."
She went along, though she was fuming. "Give me the keys."
He snorted a laugh. Oh, baby, back to square one. "Just like old times." He put the keys on her palm. "You were pretty hard on Moms back there."
"Don´t start with me, Holder."
"Just saying, you spot it, you got it." Yeah, too close to home.
"Is that one of your addict sayings?"
He could tell she didn´t mean to hurt him. She was just angry at the world not him. Still.
"That´s cool," he lied, but savored the apology anyway. "I mean, we do say that in the program and whatnot, but doesn´t really apply." He fished a pack out, and offered her a cigarette. "Right? To you?" Yeah, babe. I know you, I read you better than you think. So don´t think you can pretend with me. Not after all we´ve been through.
She took the offer. Their usual ritual. Truce by smoking.
He couldn´t even start enjoying the sweetness of the moment because Skinner called. Damn. He could do without the guy. No shit. Who could blame him? He could do without a search through the woods to find a probably already dead girl as well. He could do without hurting Linden back by mentioning how happy Jack was living in Chicago with his dad. Yeah, he was in a shitty mood. He could use a few hours of rest. He was in need of a magic trick to get over her.
The day turned its back on innocence as they found a chopped off finger in the streets. Holy Shit! For real? Why again was he doing this job?
Investigating at the Beacon Hill Home they ran into Bullet. She was her usual self - noisy and pushy, and invited herself into their car. She would show them where an injured streetgirl would go.
He looked at Linden. Come on, boss. Say the word.
"Where are we going?" Linden said, keeping a straight face.
"Take a left at the first light."
"You´re gonna give me directions one light at a time?"
"Yup." Bullet. Boss number two. Owned the backseat.
Linden stopped arguing and started the car.
He grinned. This´s gonna be a hell of a ride.
Bullet showed them one of Kallie´s sleeping places. A place where druggies and other trash boys and girls were hanging around. Bullet mentioned that his suit was not doing him any favors in this neighborhood. He knew that. He changed into a hoodie he kept in the trunk. You never know if you need one, right? He went talking to these losers, leaving Linden and Bullet in the car. He couldn´t even imagine what they would chat about all alone. He sure would have spared a dime to know.
He came back with a tip about somebody crying last night at the river and a boost to his ego. Yeah, man. He was still able to handle street trash, considering he was once not far away from becoming one of them. Don´t change the facts. You have been one of them. Addict trash. You had escaped their fate by mere luck.
They drove to the other side of the river. He didn´t bother to change back into his suit. He liked the way the hoodie made him feel. Sheltered. He had missed that feeling.
Searching the grounds they found a lot of blood in a cement pipe but no body, but it didn´t look good for Kallie. It looked like the horrible end of a tragic story.
Night came. The search team was still looking for leads. He asked Linden for a smoke and gave it to Bullet. He knew she was just holding on and tried to comfort her as well as he could. Not well enough.
Bullet freaked out and punched him in the stomach. "You´re a quittin´ ass-punk!" She ran.
Shit! She had every reason to be angry, but did she have to wreck him for it? The blow had been a good one. Fuck. He hurt.
Linden came over. "You okay?"
Are you hiding a grin? Don´t you dare, you hear me? It´s not funny. "Yeah."
"We´re approaching seventy-two hours straight. We should probably get some sleep."
"I´ll, uh, get a ride back to the station. See you in a few hours."
"You wanna come by my dojo, get some food?"
"Uh. I´m not a fan of tofu and lentils. Thanks."
"A'right. I´ll see you manana."
Okay. Worth a try. He´d known anyway she´d say no. He´d call Caroline to get some sweet love. Yeah, he would crawl into bed with a woman he didn´t deserve. Oh, man. Stop thinking so much and get going. You don´t need more of that shitty rain. You´re soaking wet already.
A few hours later he had settled down on the sofa with Caroline, eating, watching TV, trying not to think about the shit that had happened today, or her. No. Not her. He wouldn´t let Linden ruin the evening. He was more or less content with the things he had right here, right now. A simple knock at the door changed that.
It was her, damn it. Sarah Linden. Angel of death.
"I missed the ferry to Vashon, so I figured I..."
What the hell happened? It must be something. The ferry thing was a damn lie. A bad one, too.
"Just couldn´t stay away, huh?" he joked, only to get a grip himself. She had come here after all. Damn. He wished Caroline would have been busy tonight. He wished he and Linden could be alone. Nah. He wasn´t that lucky. Neither was he a good man for thinking those things.
"Is that Linden?" The woman he shared his life with greeted their guest, apparently thrilled. "Hi."
What the fuck, woman? Are you for real? Are you that oblivious or just goddamn polite?
"I´m sorry. I didn´t know." Linden looked as if she considered running.
Ha! Not a chance. You should have stayed away.
"Stephen has told me so much about you. I´m Caroline. Come on in." Hook, line and sinker. Caroline reeled the rival in.
Jesus. Linden must be furious with him. He would be the other way around. Two women were in his dojo tonight. The one he wanted and the one he had. Stephen, you asshole, what were you thinking?
Shocked by her puzzling appearance he said some stupid things. He just couldn´t keep it down, shit, and succeeded in winning the prize for the worst boyfriend ever.
Linden didn´t talk much. She almost did nothing besides chewing her food. She was clever enough to know this was a bad situation. Uh... and then Caroline succeeded in making it worse. She presented him a Valentine's Day gift. Right! Guess what? Today was fucking V-day. The day of lovers, on which he had invited both, his lover and his beloved to share the evening with him. Stephen, you´re fucking nuts.
Linden wasn´t looking like running anymore but like she wanted to shoot him dead. He couldn´t blame her. He had forgotten about the damn V-day. He hated that shit.
"I´ll bet you... you don´t know I celebrate it on the 15th. You know, 'cause it´s not so commercial and whatnot. But I-I thought I told you that, but if I didn´t, then that´s... that´s on me. I´m... It´s my bad." Crap! He was stuttering like the idiot he was.
"It´s fine." Caroline´s spirit wasn´t broken.
Linden said nothing but her expression said it all. He was the stupidest fucker in the world.
Jesus took mercy on him then. His phone started ringing. Bullet. She got something. They had to leave. He was digging into the sofa, but Caroline took mercy and sent them on their way. He kissed her good-by feeling like shit. Fuck my feelings. Fuck that I welcome a crime to escape this mess. Fuck me. I am the worst.
In a house that Bullet pointed out to them they found a screaming and badly injured girl. It wasn´t Kallie. Linden went with the girl to the hospital. He stayed behind to talk to Bullet. She needed to hear the truth. That Kallie was probably dead. Yeah. Happy V-day. Fuck!
The interview with the traumatized girl Angie didn´t go well. He thought Linden was too blunt and insensitive in questioning her. In the end Angie didn´t pick Mills from a set of mugshots. He wasn´t so sure Mills was their guy anyway. So far they had found no connection between Mills and Seward. Linden listened to him, well, he almost had her convinced.
Unfortunately Reddick arrived and destroyed whatever could have been. "Detective Linden. Mrs. Linden."
He felt the urge to smash his face. He damn sure wasn´t in the mood for his shit.
"Skinner thought you could use some help."
"Great. Let us know when it gets here," Linden fired back.
"Oh, she´s funny. When did that happen?" Reddick wisecracked.
He didn´t reply. He knew she was pissed. That meant one thing would happen, the one thing she always did when she was pissed. He was right. She wanted him to stay with Angie and left without him. Okay. Fine. He was used to that. Nothing he couldn´t handle, right?
"Looks like you´re sleeping on the couch," Reddick continued taunting him.
The sexual innuendo unnerved him but he pretended to be cool. He was glad, though watching Reddick leave to get himself some coffee. Dying for a smoke himself, he mooched a cig from a vintage playa in a wheelchair. Yeah, the new day started shitty enough. No doubt about that.
Whatever. Water under the bridge. She came back for him and they drove to the precinct. Linden had to talk to Adrian´s foster parents. They were angry because Linden had approached Adrian at his school without their permission. Now Adrian was back to sleeping in the closet.
The bad news didn´t put Linden off but gave her the crazy idea to go back to the Sewards' old apartment to check something out.
He wasn´t thrilled. Nah. "W-What are we doing here? Unless you got a body back there..."
She was rummaging through her backseat. "You get somewhere else to be? Joe Mills is in the wind. You want to go back to the hospital and babysit Angie with Reddick, be my guest." She fished the goddam Seward file out.
"Oh, no way. Wow. So, when you said the Seward file was in storage, you meant your back seat." That woman. He needed to get away from her. How could she play him like that, huh? He couldn´t help but smile, though. He opened the file. "That´s great."
"Oh, wait, let me...," she interfered, touching him.
"Yo, don´t get handsy. I got a girlfriend, okay?" Shit, man. Don´t do that. Don´t be obvious as fuck. Don´t show her how much you care. Good thinking, idiot. Why give in then and go back to Adrian´s former home with her? Damn. She says jump through the ring of fire and you say sure, babe, why not? I have nothing better to do.
The only good thing was they were spending time alone together. No Skinner. No Reddick. Not exactly a date either, though. So? He shouldn´t be ungrateful. "Just wanna point out this is a Class-A felony."
Linden didn´t stop picking the lock.
"Easy, yo. That knife cost me a 50-spot."
No shit, but you got no better, do you? He was talking away, telling one of his precious theories. "See, we´ve been going at it all Copernicus, when we need to be Galileo on this bitch, you feel me?"
She stopped and looked at him.
I got ya, huh? "See, Copernicus, he was, you know like looking at the Sun doing its thing from this middle place, like he was the middle. But then Galileo was all like, nah, man, that´s conceited. And then Copernicus started fronting, like...what?" He caught her grinning. "What´s wrong with your face, Linden? Don´t stroke out on me. You know, hire-backs ain´t on the health plan." Hey! Seeing her amused because of something he´d said was always the high point, right? He was fine with achieving that miracle, no matter his speech had missed the target.
She succeeded in opening the door and they went into a place of past terror and tragedy. The place where Adrian´s mom had been murdered, a crime his dad had been sent to death row for. He could smell the misery lingering in every corner he and she were searching. He couldn´t wait to leave this place. Linden appeared calm but he saw his feelings reflected in her bleak eyes.
At least the anxiety earned them a shocking revelation. Adrian had slept in the closet and not in his room the night of the murder. He had seen the killer.
Skinner didn´t look happy about the news, and that Linden wanted to talk to Adrian again. Skinner asked her into his office. He wanted to follow but Skinner made clear he wasn´t invited. The bossman actually shouted at him for not being out on the streets looking for Joe Mills. Everybody at the precinct was listening. Fuck. I knew I´m not your favorite guy, but I never knew you disliked me that much. What up, man? Am I threatening you? Huh? Do I? He shuffled away, trying not to bother, rethinking the case. Drifting he didn´t notice that Linden had left the precinct or when she did return. He just noticed she was gone for hours.
The shit started cooking for real when Reddick arrived confessing that Angie had walked out of the hospital without him noticing. Raging, Skinner ordered them to get out there and find her. Sure. Sleep was overrated anyway.
He and Linden went back to the Beacon Home shelter. No Angie. No pastor Mike. Not for the first time he wondered if that man could be their killer. The pastor had known all the girls. He had access. He had their trust.
Empty handed they returned to the precinct, eating fast food. He discussed his suspicions with Linden. He said the pastor could have been telling himself he´d save those girls by killing them, saving them from a wasted life on the streets. "Opiate of the masses."
She was not convinced. "I thought you liked opiate of the masses?"
"Not everyone needs that N.A./A.A. blah, blah. You know I been clean for almost two years now?" He was proud he could tell her that, yeah, proud and eager to earn some gratification. Hey, look, I´m no shit junkie anymore.
"Good for you. That´s great."
So? What'd you say? You and me? Some day? Maybe? "Not everyone finds their salvation in some stank-ass basement with a bunch of old booze hounds."
She didn´t react the way he´d wanted. "I´m gonna get some sleep. You should too," she chirped.
Oh? Is that your way of saying you worry about me, Linden? Nah. You never worry about me. Okay. Sometimes. A little bit.
She walked out. "See you in a few hours."
"Mm." Or did I make you feel uncomfortable talking personal stuff? We know you don´t like that. The case. Always talk about the case. She was right, though. He should go home and get some sleep. He was more than dead beat. He wished he could go with her, laying down next to her, just sleeping it off. He knew he would sleep like a baby next to her. Nah. Not an option. So why wasting any energy on trying to sleep alone. He went searching the streets for Bullet instead.
The other boys and girls were not happy about his arrival. They abandoned their favorite spot, insulting him with a juicy treasury of words. Only Bullet stayed and talked to him, though she didn´t hold back on her usual cheekiness. He didn´t mind. He was amused because she got herself a little love bunny called Lyric. Nice. He couldn´t resist teasing her a bit. She wasn´t angry. She denied that Pastor Mike was a creep or pedophile. Not him. She insisted Mike was not the killer. She liked the guy. Okay. He changed the subject. He bragged about his knowledge about women. "You know, I had me a whole stable when I was a young one. So if you need any tips or tricks...I´m your man." Yeah, sure, today you can´t even get the one you really want. You better shut up.
Bullet, the little rat, played along. "You´re saying you leave your lady fulfilled at the end of the night?"
"Believe that." Yeah, well, wrong lady though. I wish by God, I could fulfill the lady in question just for a day or an hour even. I would be more than happy.
"You sure I shouldn´t be teaching you how to holla at the shorties, punk?"
He chuckled. "Whatever. I mean, you can be as smooth as Velveeta, but at the end of the day you got to take care of your girl." No. He wasn´t thinking about Caroline. "Protect her, you know?" Yeah. He was desperate to protect Sarah Linden, though she wouldn´t let him. "Keep her safe. That ain´t no kind of crib."
Bullet had stopped joking around. She was listening now; face dead serious like an old-timer.
Shit, girl, you are too young to have that look. "You be safe, Bullet."
He walked away, wishing he could go to the woman he wanted to protect the most. His favorite girl. He knew she was suffering. He knew he could do nothing to help her. He feared the day when this was over and she would leave again. He couldn´t bear the thought of her leaving for good. Neither could he bear her suffering because of this damn case. He couldn´t bear all this suffering anymore. He needed a life less dark than this. Yeah? Make a change then. Start with sleeping for a few hours, man. Start living in the light.
Still no trace of Mills or Angie. He and Linden were back on the streets searching for the smallest clue. A girl from Beacon Home approached them telling them about Pastor Mike chasing a girl in his car by night.
Skinner wanted them to do a full background check on the guy first before they could have a search warrant for the car. Damn.
"And what the hell are you wearing, Holder?" he snapped, and went into his office.
Linden repressed a smile.
He couldn´t snap back that a hoodie didn´t hurt doing work on the streets. That a suit brought only troubles. Skinner was sitting all day long in his office and couldn´t understand that. He already disliked the guy for obvious reasons but to get a ticking off for ignoring the dress code was ridiculous.
The day continued with the usual stakeout in the car, watching the pastor playing basketball with some kids. He was fucking tired, being up all night, and put a cigarette into his mouth.
"If you light it, it´s gonna start raining again," Linden said matter-of-factly.
"It´s true." He put the coffin nail away.
"Jack still knows I smoke."
"Yeah, well, you ain´t exactly Houdini with them smokes, Linden."
She laughed, then turned serious again. "He wants me to move to Chicago."
"Chicago P.D.´s a storied institution. It´s good police. Cold as hell." Don´t do it. Don´t go. "What´s holding you back? It ain´t that boyfriend of yours."
"I´m just a hire-back. Temporary police."
He chuckled. "You dodged that. So what´s going on with Mr. Boatman Cody?"
"What? He hurt your feelings? I´ll beat his ass. Just say the word." He´d never tell her he wasn´t joking.
"No, he got, uh, too attached, I guess. I didn´t mean for that to happen, but I don´t know."
Come on. Everybody gets too attached to you. Your boyfriends. Rick. Me. That boy Cody never stood a chance.
"He´s just a kid." She paused. "Don´t even go there."
He snorted. Okay. I'll play nice just because you asked me to. So. Cody´s history. That´s good to know. Maybe I´m the lucky one after all. I´m still here, right next to you.
"I guess I wanted to be that person, you know, like, living on an island, working nine to five, not smoking. But I..."
"Sometimes what you get isn´t really what you want." Jesus Christ! Am I nuts? Just say I love you. He froze.
"Where are those smokes," she murmured, rummaging through the car.
The same woman who had asked him not to light any smokes a few minutes ago. What´s wrong, Linden? Did I scare you? Did I come on to strong? Who is holding you back from going to live with your son, huh? You think I don´t know? No. I do. There. His phone was ringing. Saved by the bell. Pastor Mike was using a fake I.D. Skinner released them from the leash. The hunt was on.
The bastard got away before they could bust him. Fuck! He had told them they needed a warrant for the Pastor, hadn´t he? Now the killer was in the wind like Joe Mills. He flipped out and attacked one of the younger cops who made the mistake of stating the obvious aloud. That they had just missed the suspect.
"Shut your stupid little face, huh?" He smashed the idiot into the wall.
"Hey! Hey! Okay!" Linden held him back, and ordered everyone else to leave.
"He´s a coward. He´s preying on the weakest, wearing that tattoo. I know who this guy is." He couldn´t calm down. A man who already had kidnapped a girl six years ago had just slipped through their fingers.
"Yeah? What are you gonna do about it? Hold it together."
"Yeah, you´re one to talk about holding things together." He was done taking her shit. She had no right lecturing him. She was the one obsessing. Not him. He was just doing his job.
"Okay, you´re right, so maybe you should shut up and learn something. You go down this road, you lose things. That´s how it works. That´s what you´ve got to look forward to."
Damn. He couldn´t bear to look at her. He couldn´t bear that anger raging in him. He didn´t know what he would do feeling so much. He turned and walked into the night. He needed some air to clear his head. He wished he had never met her. He wished he had never talked her into checking out Stanley Larsen, the reason why he fell for her and for all this shit that was happening. He was done wanting her. He was done being frustrated. He was done period.
They found the pastor´s car at a train station. The backseat was spluttered with blood but no trace of Pastor Mike. Linden went back to headquarters to get warrants for the train station´s surveillance cams. He was still depressed and didn´t mind her not asking him to come along. No shit! He kept his mouth shut and let her go alone. That was a first. He couldn´t decide yet if this was good or bad. He didn´t know where his unrequited love was heading today. He wasn´t even sure where he was heading.
At the precinct Bullet pounced on him shouting that Lyric was gone. She said Lyric had called her from the Beacon Home, and that the Pastor was trying to kill her. Bullet was freaking out.
He was hooked. He couldn´t wait to nail that bastard. Bullet said Mike had taken Lyric to the woods, the one where they had found all the bodies in. He told Skinner, and hey, the boss listened. He agreed to a full search of a four-mile park. Skinner asked him then where Linden was and he couldn´t say. Hey. He didn´t care. He was burning to find the killer, and nothing else mattered. He was determined to overcome the pain Linden was causing him and finally let go of his infatuation. He had to make a life for himself.
The buzzing feeling ebbed away as the search, including choppers, came to nothing. The search party complained someone´s mike was open, camping on the channel. A radio with the number 15035. A number he knew by heart.
"That´s Linden´s radio." What the fuck? Who was she talking to? And where was she anyway? Hadn´t she wanted to come here hours ago? The noise of the precinct wasn´t helping to make sense of the blurry transmission.
"Everyone shut up."
They didn´t listen nor did they stop yattering. They didn´t care. Well. They were looking for Lyric.
"Shut up!" Silence. Good. No. Not good. He realized then. "Linden´s with the pastor." Every muscle in his body cramped. He didn´t understand what had happened and why. He just knew that Linden was with the killer. Jesus! He failed her. He had left her alone. He was to blame.
"When´d you last see her?" Skinner said, bending over the table.
"With you, at the train station?" I did this. I abandoned her. I´m no sensei but the shittiest partner. Trash.
"You have choices right now. But if my guys find out you´re pointing a gun at me..." Linden´s voice floated to them over the radio.
Jesus Christ! He couldn´t look at Skinner or Reddick. He couldn´t breathe. This was his fault. He clutched the radio and kept listening. She tried to lull the guy into a comfortable state. Her only chance to survive this.
Skinner moved the search units from the woods to the city where Linden was driving around with that maniac. He was acting like a pro.
He knew Reddick was watching him. So what? He didn´t care to bare his feelings. Affection. Guilt. Desperation! He wanted to scream. Instead he held on to the radio inhaling the tiniest sound coming out of it. Stay strong, Linden. I know how strong you are. Find a way to tell us where you are. Find a way to get out of this alive. "Come on, Linden. Just keep him talking. Keep him talking." His legs were restless, twitching all the time, and he was rocking on his feet to keep himself from going insane. He couldn´t help her if he was freaking out.
Finally Linden was able to give them a hint by mentioning a drawbridge.
But which one? Dammit! Which one? There were so many drawbridges in Seattle. He asked Skinner for air support. No. The choppers were out of fuel after searching the parks. Right! He´d wanted the parks searched because of Bullet. He´d made this happen. Linden was in danger of being killed because of him. Jesus! What can I do? What? What?! I know I´m a piece of shit but she doesn´t deserve this, so, please, God, help me.
Meanwhile Linden kept talking. She told the pastor about her life, and even about Jack. Why she had lost him. Why she wasn´t a fit enough parent to care for him. She opened up, showing her vulnerability to bond with the killer. Creepy but slick.
"Fifty buck says she starts crying," one mama´s boy cop whispered to another. Then both of them chuckled.
He was on edge already but those guys, fuck, were they for real? He walked over and stared the idiot right in the face. "You think that´s funny. That´s funny to you?" He resisted clenching his fists. "Get out of here before I break your face."
The guy agreed by fleeing the scene.
He let out a sigh. He wouldn´t have wanted to waste energy to beat the shit out of the wuss. Nobody else in the room said a word. He didn´t care. He had to focus on Linden. Linden. She was moving out of his reach. He´d lose her. He couldn´t do a thing about it. "Come on, Linden." She had to do it alone. She had to find a way to tell him where they were heading. He could only wait. Yeah. The story of Linden and me. Waiting until judgement day!
For some time they had no connection and feared Mike had killed her. No. He couldn´t think that way. He couldn´t give up hope. He noticed Skinner was rubbing his eyes. Was he crying? Was he breaking apart? Was he regretting leaving her? Yeah? What about yourself? When will you break? Finding her body? Seeing those gorgeous eyes drained of life? Telling little man you have left his moms alone in the dark?
Then her voice came back floating right into his heart. She and the killer were back from wherever they had been. She did it then. "That bridge over there... is that where we´re going? I found my friend standing there... up on that bridge one night. Standing right in the middle of the highway. He had lost hope, too. He thought there was no going back. But there´s always a way back. A way home. What he... did."
"The damn battery´s going," Reddick said.
"Shut up." Somehow Linden was telling where she was heading. He just had to listen. He just had to solve the damn riddle.
"He didn´t think he could make it right. But I found him there. He was lost and had nowhere to go. He was standing on the median--alone, hopeless."
Oh god. She was talking about him. That night. That awful night when she had come and saved him. The bridge. Remember the bridge. He was the only one who could do it. He was the only one to make it happen. Nobody else could find her but him.
"He was my good friend and he was up on that bridge thinking he didn´t have anyone left."
He got it. "The Biltmore Pier." He would find her. "The Biltmore pier." He would save her. "She´s at the Biltmore Pier." He ran out to the car leaving Skinner behind to handle the rest. He couldn´t wait to get to her. He couldn´t wait to see her pretty face.
Shortly after, an armada of police cars were closing in on the spot Linden had mentioned. Cops were jumping out, shouting and aiming their guns. He was right in front of the lot and seeing her sitting at the edge of the pier right next to the fuck who´d taken her fueled his rage. The pastor wouldn´t be the first guy he´d killed for her. Right! Jamie. He´d shot Jamie to protect her. Get away from her, you jerk! Do it now! I mean it. His finger twitched to pull the trigger.
Linden foiled his plans by shielding the pastor with her body. "He doesn´t have a gun! Don´t shoot him! He doesn´t have a gun!" She protected the guy who had kidnapped and threatened her. The guy who would have killed her.
What the hell? "Take your hands out of your pockets! Get out of the way, Sarah." He didn´t get her. What was she thinking? That piece of shit deserved no defending. That guy deserved to be put in the darkest place.
She shook her head, looking straight at him. "He doesn´t have a gun."
She pleaded for the guy, and you know what, the pastor gave up and showed them his empty hands. He rushed forward and pushed him to the ground. He had no sympathy for the jerk. That piece of shit had put Linden through hell today. He just wanted the guy out of her sight.
Reddick did him the favor. He cuffed the pastor and hauled him away. Most of the cops left too. The pier turned empty and still. Good. Linden needed space. Right. She sat down and started shaking. He waited, shuffling around, and then sat down with her. I´m here, Linden. It´s over. You feel me? He put his right hand on her shoulder, rubbing, squeezing tight. Jesus Christ! What a day!
She nodded her okay, and closed her eyes. He didn´t let go, and like that they stayed put, breathing life.
At the precinct she was chill as fuck, giving the interrogation cops hell. He almost smiled. He didn´t envy them. He knew she didn´t care for much right now, particularly not the no smoking rule in public buildings.
Skinner said the pastor couldn´t be the killer of their girls. He had a perfect alibi for the time part of the murders happened. Lyric had been just picked up by a patrol because she had been hustling the streets all night. What the fuck! Bullet had lied to him. For real? Okay. Time to kick some skinny ass punk. Time to cut some loose ends.
He found her vegging out in the hallways. He grabbed her by the jacket and pulled her up. "You junkyard little bitch. You almost got my partner killed. You lie to me? After what I´ve done for you? You think you can sit there and lie to my face?" He pushed her.
"Get off me!"
"You get out of here right now before I kick your little wannabe ass right here right now."
"You ain´t done nothing for me. Kallie´s still out there. You ain´t found her. You ain´t found nothing!" she screamed into his face.
"You get out of here now before I bury your ass so deep in the foster-care system you´ll never get out. Yeah, that´s right. I´m not your friend. I don´t give a shit about you. You´re just a nobody nothing, punk-ass kid. Now get out!" He pushed her with both hands. The way a man should never push a woman, least of all a girl. That he was blind with fury was no excuse. That he was exhausted beyond measure wasn't, either.
She stumbled backwards but didn´t make a sound.
"Get out of here!" He kicked her bag and it went flying. Shit! He couldn´t forget how devastated Linden had looked at the pier. "Get out of here!"
She grabbed her bag. "GO TO HELL!" She ran.
Good. That´s done. One problem less. He had enough on his mind to care for a lost cause. He had trouble getting his own act together. And then there was Linden. No space left for a street punk.
Not that Linden worried about him. He learned that she had left for home without telling him. Okay. Fine. He wouldn´t stay around and do nothing. He went to buy some food and followed her all the way out to Vashon. He knew she needed him even if she would never say so. He wouldn´t let her suffer through this alone. He remembered how much she had been shaking at the pier.
His worries were confirmed by finding her keys in the unlocked door. He just walked in on her. She looked more curious than startled. He showed her the bags. "I got chow mein, egg rolls, lemon chicken for you, and fortune cookies. What more could you want?" Here I am. Hit me. Shoot me. I don´t mind.
Damn. That´s all I need. A ray of sunshine after one hell of a day. Better. He was the cause of that smile which sent him straight to La La Land.
They settled at the table and dug in like an ordinary couple after a hard day´s work. Seeing her eat sitting down the second time in a week was intriguing. Yeah. Keep your feet on the ground. You´re no couple. She´s still in shock. That´s why she tolerates you. She´ll kick your ass soon enough.
"Thanks for the takeout. Nice of you to do that."
"Yeah, well, you are welcome." He took a sip of water. "I needed an excuse to get out of there anyway." Nah. I never need excuses to share your company. I don´t want to be anywhere but here. I could sleep in this chair just to be near you.
"If one more person asks me if I was all right, I swear..."
Sorry. I have to ask. I can´t leave you alone with that. "Well, are you alright?"
She nodded. "Yeah, I´m fine."
Hey, beautiful, don´t lie to me or yourself. "Thought I lost you there for a second. Just when I was getting used to you." He didn´t hold back any feelings. Not after escaping tragedy.
His honesty paid off. She stopped chewing and looked at him, observant.
"That was scary, huh?" It sure as hell was for me.
For a few seconds she appeared as if she would close up again, but then she puffed a blow of air and started talking. She told him about the pastor´s eyes in the mirror and his voice. How it must have been for all those girls. How alone they must have felt on the last day of their life, though they knew now the Pastor wasn´t the one who killed them.
He listened, exhilarated because she opened up, but devastated because he couldn´t have protected her from such traumatic shit. "I should have got there sooner."
"You got there. You found me."
He dared to look at her.
She gifted him with the ghost of a smile.
I don´t deserve that but thanks anyway. He let out a hearty sigh and relaxed. Better to change the subject. He was too close to doing something stupid, like making a move. Yeah. Let it go, idiot. He mentioned the gruesome photos of the Seward file lying on the table. "You go through that thing every night or what?"
"They´re gonna kill him in two days."
Right. Back to the case. That was their normal routine, not something trivial as eating food or talking about their feelings. They leafed through the photos, and sure, Seward loved Adrian and had done more for him than his own pop had ever done for him, but that didn´t prove anything. He loved his nephew Davey and still, being an addict, he had stolen from him. He had betrayed Davey´s trust and had broken the promise to be there for him. Davey and his mom were waiting for him to fail again. Well, he couldn´t blame them, could he?
"Maybe it´s you who needs to let go of the past."
Oh, hey. Chill, Linden. "That makes two of us, huh?" Don´t forget I´ve seen you losing it. Silence. Two peas in a pot. Then his phone rang. Bullet. He ignored the call. "Look...all I´m saying is, there´s no telling what Seward might have done even if he loved his kid." He didn´t know if Seward did it, but there was no proof otherwise until they got the guy they were hunting. "I gotta get some sleep."
She cleared her throat. "Wanna stay over?"
"That depends," he croaked, surprised. What is it, babe? Do you wanna cuddle? Are you afraid of being alone? Do you need your BFF to scare off the ghosts? "Can I take a shower?" He put his face inside of his hoodie, sniffing. "Hoo!" He waved the air. "It´s real bad. It´s real bad."
She smiled. "Yeah, sure. You know the way."
Jesus! The third smile in an hour. On any other day he´d have made a stupid joke about her flirting with him but not today. He wasn´t that kind of asshole. "Yo, mamacita." He got up and stretched.
"Shouldn´t you call Caroline?"
"Nah. We don´t have any plans to meet tonight."
Linden cleaned the table. "She´s nice."
"Yeah. I´m a lucky guy." Nice, huh? He shuffled upstairs, fighting the fuzzy feeling centering in his tummy. Let it go, idiot! You can barely stand up straight. Right. He feared he couldn´t finish showering before he´d fall asleep. He was wrong, though. The stinging hot water revived him somewhat, making him smell fresh, and not feeling horny but just agitated. "Mm." He dried himself and resisted the impulse to snoop out her women stuff. In shorts and wife-beater he strolled into her bedroom instead. No. She hadn´t invited him here but he wouldn´t move to the sofa until she´d say so.
The room was pretty plain but the covers were soft enough to make him feel welcome. Man! The craziness of today. The miracle of getting her back safe and sound. He didn´t dare hoping for more.. Still. He was here. In her house. In her bed. The stunning fact humbled him and his anger and frustration were gone. He just craved for a smoke but he had only the one cigarette in the crumpled empty pack left to light. Nah. Never. He hadn´t smoked the whole day being scared to death for her. He wouldn´t waste his mojo now. He wanted to keep her gift ´til the end of time.
He heard her coming up the stairs. Then the shower was running. Ten more minutes and she came in, dressed in sweatpants and a shirt, the hair undone. She stared.
"What?" Here comes the boot.
"Roll over, Holder."
"I missed you, too, 1-900." He rolled with pleasure. Yeah. Those were the high points of his life.
She snorted and switched the light off.
He held his breath, waiting, hoping. Just as she was snuggling up he fell asleep.
In the dead of night, he jerked awake, gasping. Something dark. Something heavy. Suffocating him. What was it? What had he done? What was tearing at his heart? Something bad for sure because he couldn´t shake the horrible feeling off.
At least she was still sleeping with her hair splayed over her shoulder and one hand gripping his arm. Jesus! He was drowning in the sight of her clinging to him. Not a chance he could go back to sleep now. He couldn´t stay either. He knew he was in danger of making a big mistake, and he wouldn´t let that happen. Right. Gently he loosened her fingers one by one. Sorry, babe, but I´m not that strong.
On his way he snatched the Seward file from the table. She was obsessing too much about the case already. He needed her to step back a little. Tunnel vision never helped in solving any puzzle. He would relieve her and take a crack at this.
His phone rang. Bullet again. The little woman got guts. He ignored the call anyway. Hey. He had almost lost Linden trusting that punk. That could never happen again. Bullet was history. He had to let go of her. She was baggage dragging him down. He knew how down there smelled and tasted. He couldn´t go back there. Not for a streetgirl. So what? Bullet would be fine. She could take care of herself. He didn´t need to suffer another fall. He was done with that part of his life. He was done leading a dire existence.