and here it is and there it goes
by Nicole Clevenger

Susan isn't sure how they ended up here. Isn't even entirely clear on where here is. Outside an abandoned building on the edge of the Presidio, maybe - there's hints of the Golden Gate's familiar rust color through the fog beyond those trees. The bridge is definitely close, big enough to be felt if not entirely seen. The only thing she really knows is she's a long way from her car.

Creegan's knee pushes between her legs; his mouth trails warm down her neck. She stops looking for the bridge. She's seen the bridge.

She wonders how they got here. How she went from the person she was this morning - eyes closed in the shower steam, rinsing away faces of too many dead little girls - to this person she is right now. This Susan without boundaries. This Susan who apparently thinks nothing of making out with her partner at one in the morning in a San Francisco fog.

"We shouldn't do this," she says.

This is not what partners do.

"Why not?" he breathes into her neck. One hand behind the back of her head, a cushion between her skull and the teeth of the stucco wall. Fingers tug her blouse from her skirt, fingers slip under to find her skin. Cold air tickles her stomach and she flinches, bare leg rubbing against the seam of his jeans.

His fingertips feel smooth, unused. She sees them plucking aimlessly at a white hospital bedsheet.

She blinks. She sees the leafy sky again.

"We're drunk," she says. This is supposed to be a good reason. Somewhere in her mind she knows this is a good reason. But when his tongue darts out to taste her collarbone, she gasps all the same.

"I'm not." His lips move against her skin. She can smell his hair gel again, the same faint sticky sweet she now associates with car rides and morning coffee. Her fingers bump over his spine, and she tries to remember when her hands made it under his t-shirt. She tries to remember why this is such a bad idea.

He's warm, warmer than a healthy person should be. Her suit jacket slips off her shoulder. He nips at the skin just under the hollow of her throat, and her breath catches.

"Interesting," he mumbles, his hand making its way up over her ribs.

"Creegan..." The word is a puff of white over his head, inhaled sharply back when he slides that hand inside her bra. She isn't cold where he's pressed against her. She's already lost whatever it was she was trying to say.

"David," he says. It's muffled, murmured. She's not sure she even really heard it.

The mist dusts her exposed skin like a thin sheen of sweat - but heavier, colder. It's rain without raindrops, a damp that coats everything in sight. The grass was slick when they stumbled through it to get here, and when he'd fallen the second time, neither one of them had been able to stop laughing. Not until he'd pushed her up against this wall and kissed her.

She likes the honesty in his smile. She's never told him that.

She's still learning how to say things to this man.

This isn't right. One of them needs to be the sensible one, to stop this before it goes any further. Susan's used to being the sensible one. It's who she's supposed to be. Why she got this assignment in the first place. She sucks in a breath of the night air, trying to clear her head. "Creegan, we can't -"

He freezes now, lips still on her skin and his hand still hot on her breast. He moves only his eyes, finding her face in the shadows. "You really want me to stop?"

His thumb brushes over her nipple and her head spins.

"I..." He's waiting, and suddenly the look in his eyes is the same one she saw earlier. The one from back at the shop, when Enright finally sent them home. Creegan asked her out for a drink, admitted he couldn't face the idea of going back to the motel alone. And then he looked at her with this same look, this one that always makes him seem so naked. Vulnerable. As if one wrong move on her part might send him spiraling back to that hospital and insanity.

She never asked for this responsibility.

Now he blinks, and she realizes she can't really see his eyes in this light. Just dark spots in the pale glow of his face, set to the soundtrack of his rapid breathing. There are so many reasons this is a terrible idea. But she doesn't really want him to stop.

"We'll regret this," she says, but it's a weak protest. They both hear it.

"Regrets are for people who plan on living forever," he says into her cleavage. His hand is back in motion too, working its way back down to rest on the rise of her hip bone. The warm wet spots his mouth leaves on her skin turn to ice the moment they're hit by the night air.

When he sinks to his knees, her fingers curl into his hair as if they'd been planning this all along without her.

His lips flicker across her stomach and at least one of his hands is exploring the bare skin of her legs. With her eyes closed, the sensations blur and twist in on one another. Light trails of feeling against the dark background of her eyelids. He's saying something she can't make out, whispering secrets into her skin...

The spotlight hits them like a whip, and Susan cracks her head hard against the wall behind her.

She's pulling her jacket closed even as she's blinking the spots from her eyes, reaching for a gun she left locked in the car. Creegan's still on his knees in front of her, oblivious to or unconcerned by the shadow she can see moving slowly their way. Her vision clears a little more and she finds the outline of a car just beyond the light.

"Okay, break it up," says a voice from the darkness. An authoritative voice. The man takes another step and she sees the light glint off a point on his badge.

Creegan glances over his shoulder at the man. Uninterested, he goes back to kissing her stomach.

Susan pushes at his head with the hand not holding the front of her jacket together. She wonders if the brightness of that light washes out the color she can feel rising in her face. "Creegan..."

With a dramatic sigh, Creegan sits back on his heels. He tips his face up to look at her, and the scar she's gotten so used to seeing suddenly stands out like a fresh wound.

He doesn't take his eyes off her, tossing his words backward instead. "No it's all right, officer - we're fine here. Thanks for the concern. "

"Very funny. Stand up - I want to see some identification. From both of you."

Creegan gives her an innocent smile and a had to try sort of shrug. Susan's surprised by the giggle that tries to bubble up from her throat. This is no time for giggling. She forces her mouth into an appropriately serious expression and fights to keep it there.

Creegan gets to his feet and reaches into a pocket. "Well, okay... But I bet if you look really hard, you might be able to find some actual crime somewhere in this city. Wanna bet?" He freezes as if remembering something, snaps his fingers. "Oh wait, that's right - Gambling Illegal." He leans closer to Susan and says, "Sometimes I forget the little ones."

Her sensibility habit is trying to get her attention again; Susan pulls her own badge out of her jacket pocket before the cop gets any more annoyed and decides to run them in. "Susan Branca, Organized and Serial Crime. This is my partner, David Creegan." At the word "partner", she thinks she hears a snort-turned-cough from the shape still standing back beside the car's passenger door. She feels the flush hit her cheeks again but keeps her chin high. "We didn't mean to waste your time. We'll go now."

She holds her hand out to take back her identification.

But the cop's making a show of looking it over. He runs a big hand over his jaw. Susan resists the urge to sigh. The urge to snatch her badge out of his hand.

"OSC, huh? You guys just took a case from us a couple of weeks ago. Some people I know were working real hard on that case."

The impatience is gone; now she feels her body tensing for a fight. She doesn't really feel up to treading this familiar ground again tonight. She wishes she were a little more sober. "Look..."

"Hey, listen," Creegan cuts in from beside her. His hand is up to shade his squinting eyes. "If this thing is going to take a while, can we shut off that light? Bright lights and I, we don't get along so well anymore."

"In a minute." The cop turns back to Susan. With the light behind him, his features are little more than an impression. She's not sure she could pick him out of a line up. "You guys crack that case yet?" he asks.

She's pretty sure he already knows the answer. She wishes this was over. "We've got a few new leads."

(too many dead little girls)

She's starting to feel a lot more sober.

"We're close," Creegan insists in a tight voice.

Susan looks over at him. So does the cop.

"Fuck, we were close," he says.

"Yeah, well - obviously not close enough." Creegan presses the heel of his hand against his forehead so hard it looks like he might be trying to merge the two. "You couldn't get him. Now it's our turn."

"We would've had him. Another week or two, if you people hadn't come in and pulled it out from under us."

"With more girls dying in between." The words aren't argumentative, only matter of fact. He turns his back on the light and faces the wall. Susan winces when he rests his forehead against the jagged stucco spikes, but Creegan doesn't even seem to notice.

The cop doesn't seem to know what to do with this, so he falls back into the comfort of trained assumption. "You been drinking tonight?"

"Yes," Creegan says into the wall. "Are you going to call my parents? "


He doesn't answer, so Susan does. "We've been walking. We left the car down the street from the bar." She glances in the direction of the invisible second officer. "Maybe we could turn that -"

"Jake, we got a 5150 at Pier 27," interrupts the voice from the car. She still can't see anything but his vague shape. "Are we taking these two with us or what?"

Jake looks at her, at the back of Creegan's head. "Maybe next time." He hands Susan back her ID. "These two have a killer to catch."

She tries not to make a face at the way he says that.

"All right then - let's roll." A car door slams in the quiet night.

But Jake can't seem to leave without the last word. "Get the hell out of here. Find a coffee shop or something." He gestures toward Creegan. "Don't let him drive."

When the light finally goes out, the darkness rushes in thicker and colder than before. "No danger of that," she says under her breath.

She can barely see her partner now, but she can tell he hasn't moved.

Her hand touches his shoulder at the same time that the officers hit their siren. He flinches so sharply she fears he might bolt. Even as she's holding on to him, she can't resist throwing the retreating car the finger for that unnecessary parting shot.


"David," he mumbles. It sounds like an echo. The length and depth of this day wrap their arms around her and start to squeeze.

"You okay?"

"Sure." He still doesn't move. Her vision hasn't completely adjusted, but it looks to her like his eyes haven't opened yet either.

"You know, that might actually be more convincing if you looked at me when you said it."

His shoulder rises and falls under her hand with a shudder of a breath. "Sorry."

Palms flat against the wall, he slowly leverages his body into a more upright position. Susan lets her hand fall, takes a step away from him. There's faint pockmark smudges dotting his forehead. She imagines what the indentations would feel like underneath her fingertips.

A memory of his lips on her skin. She pushes it away, too tired to deal with the ifs or ands anymore tonight.

He's got one hand braced against the wall and one rubbing at his head, and he looks in no particular hurry to go anywhere. She's cold and her feet hurt and she doesn't want to think about the long walk back to the car. She buttons the rest of her blouse and then her jacket, watching him and waiting for some kind of clue as to the way in. Some hint of what's going on with him this time.

She's getting better at reading him. Or so she tells herself. But she never knows when this partner of hers will blithely reveal some new complication like it's just another personality quirk.

"Headache?" she asks, when it's obvious he's not going to offer her anything at all.

He doesn't look at her. "You're very observant. Ever consider a career in law enforcement?"

He winces. It's not for the same reason that she does.

She turns away to start walking in what she hopes is the right direction. Creegan reaches out and grabs her arm. "Wait -"

She lets him pull her back around, but there's a cranky snarl building behind her eyes. She's really not in the mood to play this game. His features look pinched under his tattooed forehead, and she can't tell how much of it is just a trick of the light.

"I didn't..." He sounds as exhausted as she feels. She wonders how they got here.

His fingers are still wrapped around her arm. And he's got that look again. Susan tucks a piece of hair behind her ear. "It's okay," she tells him, because there's nothing else to say. "Let's go home."

His eyes are searching her face for something; she doesn't know if he finds it, but after a moment he drops his hand and nods. "Yeah. Home."

She turns again, sets out across the wet grass. She goes a couple of feet before the sound of his steps adds itself to hers. She doesn't look back.

"No place like it," she hears him say.


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