Pairing: Charlie Crew/Veronica Mars
Spoilers: Miscellaneous spoilers for season 1 of Veronica Mars. General series spoilers for Life.
Summary: Sometimes being an FBI agent in LA means working with the LAPD.
Disclaimer: Life and Veronica Mars were created by Rand Ravich and Rob Thomas, respectively. No profit is being made from the use of any of the recognizable characters.
Author's Note: Written for my own personal 12 Days of Crossovers fic challenge. Pairing and prompt provided by monimala.
The blood was overwhelming. Dani had been to plenty of crime scenes in her day, had seen the worst that humanity had to offer. But this...this was stomach-turning. She glanced over at her partner, wondering if he would react, or if the much-vaunted Zen would carry him through another case.
Charlie's face displayed none of the revulsion she was currently feeling. Instead, the furrow between his brows served only to indicate intense concentration. He paced the room carefully, avoiding the pools of blood collecting around the bodies.
He looked up, met her eyes. "Eight entry wounds," he said.
She didn't know why it surprised her, after all this time, that he could look through the carnage and find the details. She forced herself to focus, to pick out the bullet holes in the bodies, to isolate them in her mind. "Seems a little excessive," she commented. "It looks like all eight could have been fatal on their own."
"Someone took this personally."
"That tends to happen when there's $100 million at stake," a new voice interjected.
Reese and Crews looked up in surprise at the blonde woman standing in the doorway. Her navy blue pantsuit practically screamed 'Fed,' and Reese thought she looked about seventeen. "Can we help you?" she asked, an edge in her voice. Working with the Feds never turned out well.
Special Agent Barbie crossed the room, her stride confident, and stretched out her hand to Reese. "Sorry to barge in like this. Veronica Mars, FBI."
"Detective Reese. This is..."
But Veronica had already shifted her attention. "Charlie Crews. I've heard a lot about you."
"Why are you here, Agent Mars?" Dani asked sharply. Who did this girl think she was, coming in and thinking she knew anything about Crews?
Mars seemed to realize that she had crossed a line. "We've been investigating a counterfeiting ring for the past year and a half. These three were just the worker bees--we could never pin down the man in charge." She surveyed the human wreckage impassively. "Now I'm not sure we ever will."
Veronica pinched the bridge of her nose as she read the autoposy report. She hated joint investigations--local police invariably got pissy, and everything seemed to take three times longer than necessary. She should have had this report days ago.
Eight hollow point slugs. Vicious and predictable. Detective Reese's first instinct had been correct--any one of the wounds in each victim would have been fatal. Someone had taken things very personally indeed.
Reese and Crews weren't that bad, really. It's not like she had to work with Lamb, not that he could ever have cut it on the LAPD. Reese had a chip on her shoulder, but Veronica had no idea if that meant she had an issue with Veronica, the FBI in general, or just operated with that as her default setting. Crews...
Crews was fascinating. She'd read the true-crime books, seen the documentary, dug up the old articles. She'd even pulled the case file from the database. She knew about the $50 million settlement, the speculated affairs with his attorney, his ex-wife, and even the daughter of the victims in the crime for which he'd served twelve years. There was plenty to learn about Charlie Crews, if you had the access, the time, and the inclination.
So why couldn't she get any kind of read on him at all?
Charlie stared through the one-way glass into the interrogation room. Agent Mars had barred them from the questioning, which had, predictably, pissed off Reese. The two had been butting heads for the past three weeks.
"We worked just as hard on this case as she did," Reese seethed. "We deserve a piece of this asshole."
He continued to stare through the glass.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" she asked testily.
"'It is better to practice a little than talk a lot,'" he intoned.
She turned to stare at the glass. "Damn Zen," she mumbled.
"At least you won't have to work with her anymore," he pointed out.
"Who, Agent Prom Queen? Thank God for small favors." She glanced over at him again. "I notice you didn't include yourself in that statement. You planning on...working with her after this?"
"Not particularly, no. Although it's certainly possible that we will have to work with the FBI on another case someday."
"Another case. Right."
It was always a surprise when the doorbell rang. Time hadn't changed his lack of furniture or the infrequency of his visitors. Even Ted and Rachel were gone, moved out and moved on.
"Veronica," she corrected him.
"What can I do for you, Veronica?"
She gazed up at him, and he was struck--not for the first time--by how tiny she was. She was probably only a couple inches shorter than Reese, but somehow it seemed like more. "You're not at all what I expected."
"I'm not sure why you were expecting anything at all."
"My best friend was murdered when I was sixteen."
This was not, he realized, a conversation that was appropriate for the doorstep. "Why don't you come in?"
They sat at the dinner table; it never occurred to him to offer her something to drink. "What does your friend's death have to do with me?"
"After it happened...the wrong man was convicted of the crime. I spent most of my junior year of high school trying to find the right one."
"And did you?"
She nodded. "Eventually." She swallowed hard, the memories obviously still painful. "I had never even heard of you until I moved to LA, joined the Bureau. But when I did...I know what the settlement was, Detective Crews."
"Okay, Charlie. I know that you don't have to work another minute in your life if you don't want. But you went back to the force. I wanted to know why."
"Why did you join the FBI?"
"Because I wanted to keep mistakes from being made."
He looked mildly amused. "I expected something about truth, justice, and the American way."
She smiled. "I'm a long way from Superman. Or even Clark Kent. My motives aren't nearly so altruistic."
"What are your motives for being here?"
"Simple curiosity isn't enough?"
"Maybe for a cat."
She laughed out loud. "You know, I think I'm starting to understand why Detective Reese is tense all the time. You're a tough nut to crack."
He didn't answer, just smiled a little.
She stood up. "Maybe I should just go. Your life is really none of my business."
"You didn't answer my question."
"And you didn't answer mine."
"Technically, you never asked one."
She rolled her eyes. "Fine. Why did you go back to being a cop?"
"What do you gain by knowing?"
She huffed impatiently. "I don't know, personal satisfaction?"
"You don't sound very sure."
"What do you want me to say?"
"You don't have to say anything at all."
"Okay, I think we're done here."
She headed for the front of the house, Charlie following a few steps behind. When she reached the door, she paused. "It was...interesting working with you, Charlie."
"Yeah," she replied, her hand on the knob.
"You joined the FBI to prevent mistakes. I went back to the LAPD to correct one."
She turned around, and extended her hand. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," he replied, shaking her hand. "You don't have to go, if you don't want."
His hand was warm, strong, and she didn't let go right away. "I could probably stay for a little while."
"I can order food."
"Yeah. I'd like that."
Half-empty Chinese food boxes littered the table, but there was no one in the room. The sun had set hours earlier, and the house was dark and quiet.
Veronica leaned back on her hands, her bare feet dangling over the edge of the pool and into the water. She'd insisted on a tour of the--depressingly empty--house, and it had ended on the patio, where the night air was tinged with chlorine.
"It's peaceful up here," she noted. "I didn't think anyplace in LA was this quiet."
"Do you miss your hometown?"
She laughed, the sound sharp. "God no. I miss my dad, but Neptune might as well have been the Hellmouth." At his blank look, she added, "From Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You missed a lot in prison, huh?"
"Pretty much everything."
She kicked her feet gently, making ripples in the water. "Thanks," she said quietly. "For putting up with me tonight, I mean. Answering my questions."
"You weren't what I expected, either."
She nearly gave herself whiplash turning to look at him. "What are you talking about?"
"For twelve years, I had nothing but time. I read about every wrongful conviction in the state."
"You knew? All this time, you knew my life history, and you never said a word?"
"'You must neither strive for truth nor seek to lose your illusions.'"
She stood up angrily, her wet feet leaving dark footprints on the concrete. "Is that more of your Zen bullshit? Dammit, Charlie, you knew, and you let me walk in here tonight and make an idiot of myself."
"Reading a file doesn't mean you know a person."
"Is that supposed to be an excuse?"
"It is what it is." He looked up at her, his feet still swinging in the pool. "Is the past the only reason you came here tonight?"
She sat down again, close enough that their hips nearly touched. "Better or worse?" she asked.
"Better or worse than what?"
"Than what you expected."
He smiled, although he doubted she could see it in the dark. "Better. I never expected you to be here."
She chuckled. "Yeah, well, neither did I. Although...I might have hoped."
"Reese and Tidwell made a bet."
"Whether you'd show up here."
She felt her face flame. "Oh, God."
"Tidwell owes Reese twenty bucks."
She buried her face in her hands. "You must all think I'm insane."
He leaned close enough to whisper in her ear. "I don't mind."
She'd heard the rumors, about his attorney, his ex-wife, and everyone else. But none of them were there now. "It was a sucker bet," she whispered back.
She nodded, dropping her hands to her lap and twisting her head so that her lips almost brushed his cheek. "They should have bet on whether or not I'd stay."
His hand curled around her hip, and he leaned forward so their foreheads touched. "How are the odds looking?"
She took a deep breath, caught a hint of his cologne mingled with the chlorine. "Pretty damn good, I think."
"You're not what I expected at all," he murmured again, just before he kissed her.