Don't Worry About Me - 2/10

Author: Daniela
Fandom: The Killing
Pairing: Stephen Holder/Sarah Linden
Rating: PG13
Category: Angst, Romance, Humor
Series/Sequel: Oh Snap!
Summary: They forge a fragile bond.
Warning: Adult Fanfiction, Spoiler for season one
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I'm writing for free.
Feedback: You feel me?
Word Count: 2311
Released: August 2013
Beta: badly_knitted

The case became nerve-wracking. A lead turned out to be a red herring. Further inquiries fizzled out. The L.T. raged at him for going directly to a judge to ask for an illegal wire tap. When Linden pitched in, telling the L.T. that it had been her idea to do this and not his, meaning she lied, he was dumbfounded. He had never expected such a loyal gesture, not from her, particularly not to protect him from getting a dressing-down. She got his back, that's what partners did for each other. Her good deed was giving him a kick like having a fix no matter that his career was maybe going down the drain. He should worry that he was feeling like this without a good reason. He did not.

Their secret knowledge about the Somalian girl being in hiding forged a fragile bond between them, but the brutal beating of their main suspect almost destroyed the new truce. She was crushed by the cruel news particularly since they had recently found out that the man was innocent. Yeah, he was feeling bad about what had happened to Bennet, too. He never liked the man but this was not right. Did he show his regret to Linden? No. He played it cool. Yet he was trying, really trying to cheer her up a little by making conversation, telling her to go home and get some rest, even buying her a doughnut for breakfast. Did it work? 'Course not. She didn't even say "Good Morning", just went rambling on about the case, and after only two bites she threw the rest of the doughnut away. Yo, man. His hard-earned money right down into the garbage. "It's the last time I ever buy you breakfast," he complained, but made sure to sound like he was taking this lightly. He didn't want her to know he was hurt. He didn't want her to know that her actions meant anything to him. He didn't want her... Ah...shit. He was an idiot.

Later, working the case, an older, well, a pretty old woman was hitting on him, while they were asking her questions, calling him cute in front of Linden. He was strangely ashamed, and also irritated by the longing that he wished she would think of him like that. Yeah. Get real and look into the mirror, stupid tweak-head. That's never gonna happen. He couldn't even blame her. He wasn't a good catch for any woman. At the end of the day, after working fifty hours straight, he left her alone to finally get some sleep.

But she even haunted his dreams and so he wasn't in the best of spirits when she called him to meet her at the casino on the Indian land. He was pissed because his plans to visit his sister and his nephew Davey were in jeopardy. Right from his arrival she behaved worse than ever. What the hell? He didn't get what about? This woman was driving him nuts. "Damn, is there one or two days a month, you're not P.M.S. - ing?" he snapped back, before she created some distance to accept a call. He took the opportunity to reach his sister to apologize for not coming but didn't succeed.

So when Linden was back joining him in the car, he was in a shitty mood. He noticed she didn't look her best as well. Something was very wrong. "It was Jack's school. He didn't show up this morning. He hasn't been in school in the last three days." Oh fuck! That changed everything in a split second. She asked him to drive her to the motel where she and Jack were staying. One lousy dump.

"What happened to the boat?" he asked, concerned about the places she and the kid were living now. No reply. Instead she ordered him to go to the courthouse to meet her there later and then she ran off. There she goes again! That woman is tougher than coffin nails. She doesn't need anyone. So? Did he obey and drive away? No. He stayed put, waiting, brooding. He could have driven off, yeah, but didn't want to leave her alone. Not like that, being worried about little man, even if she appeared as if she could handle everything by herself. Minutes ticked by and then she was back, passing the car in the pouring rain. He honked and rolled the window down. "What did Jack say?"

"He's not there."

"Get in, Linden. It's raining."

"He's probably just at Reggie's at the marina."

"You ain't taking the bus there. Get in already." Thank god, she did. He didn't know what he would have done otherwise.

On the drive to the marina he tried to get more information about her mom and the way she was living. Not a chance. She was as tight-lipped as ever, ignoring his questions, and finally making him angry because she complained about the way he was driving, and so on and on. Wow! This woman. Why did he bother? Really? Why did he take her on every time? What was wrong with him? Did he secretly enjoy being worked up like this? 'Cause he felt something real without taking meth? 'Cause this was better than feeling numb most of the time? 'Cause handling her took his mind of the need for a fix?

At the marina she jumped out of the car. "Wait here!"

"All right. I'll wait here. Don't worry about me, Linden. Limo's ready whenever you are," he murmured, pouting like a child. He wanted to help her, not just be her driver. He didn't obey again but followed her. Reggie's boat was gone. He could see she was desperate. What was she doing about it? Insulting him, of course. "Give me the keys. I'll drive. You drive too slow, Holder."

He swallowed the insult like a man, slamming it off by cracking a joke. "Hey, thanks for stayin', Stephen. Hey, you're welcome, Sarah. That's what friends are for, yo." Of course, she didn't give him the satisfaction of a reply.

At her request he showed her the way to the tunnel, a place where kids liked to hang out. There he tried to get cozy, asking her all those questions about Jack's dad, Mr. Sonoma, and whatever he could think of. Okay, so he was nosy, but only because he wanted her to loosen up a little. He could have just left. She even told him to but he stuck to her and continued trying to crack open her shell. An epic fail. She got punchy and annoyed instead, almost a little crazy, and let herself be provoked by some silly kids, who knew no better. "Chill, Linden, chill," he interfered, holding her back from hitting one of them, and making this day even worse. The unsettling incident was enough to make her finally cave in, giving up the confession that Reggie was her social worker, and not her mom.

That she had been a foster child and hadn't been raised by her parents was a blow. They were much more alike than he had thought; meaning her magnetic appeal to him became even more dangerous.

Around midday, after hours on the streets looking for little man, he persuaded her to get some food. He was starving. Not that she ate anything. But for the first time they sat down at a table and talked for real. About his addiction and the way he was living now. Once more he told her more than he wanted to and didn't know why. Why was he confessing so much to this woman? She wasn't really nice. She wasn't kind or heartful. She wasn't the motherly type. He wondered about her mysterious fiancé also. Rick. What kind of man he was, waiting all this time for her to finally make up her mind. He wouldn't wait for her. No. He would come here and get her. He would... Damn! He focused on chewing his food and asked about the "Picasso" case, the one she was working on before, to simmer down. Surprisingly she gave up a few details and the sad truth about a damaged kid who was probably not having a bright future. Despite the morbid nature of their conversation he enjoyed having a rational chat like normal people until she hurried to the bathroom. He caught a glimpse of her raw and open expression before she fled, and pondered if she feared she had shared too much, maybe even a little of her hidden self. She looked like she was close to crying. She wouldn't do that in front of him. No. Not a woman like her.

Back in the car she asked for a cigarette. He thought she was joking but she insisted. Bustling he tried to give her a light, but she tore the lighter from his hands, as if he had leprosy or something like that, and did it herself. Fine. Whatever. He was feeling down again. Shit. He was such a loser to be affected by small things like that. This partnership wasn't working. He should just leave her alone on this crazy self-destroying crusade. He couldn't, though, no, instead he drove her back to the motel. Jack still wasn't there and the rain was pouring down on them like the weather was sharing their misery. He got out of the car and called his sister to cancel their meeting. He told her about this friend who was in need as an excuse for not coming. Yeah! What a joke. They weren't friends. They were far from being friends. They just met eleven days ago, but he had the feeling that didn't matter, even in a hundred years they wouldn't become friends. And still he stayed on, sleeping next to her in the car, waiting for Jack to show up. She even said, "Thanks, Holder. For being my ride," which felt like a punch to his guts. Oh hell. He'd got it bad. Really, really bad.

Hours later they were cruising around and he dared to ask about her life as a foster child after her mother had abandoned her at the age of five. He even tried to soothe her by explaining why she couldn't be a pro at being a mom lacking the proper role model all her life. Naturally she took it the wrong way. When she figured out that Jack had called him two days ago to ask him how to make Hot Dogs and he didn't tell her she turned on him. She called him a vegetarian Jesus freak. Jeez! "Whatever," he countered. "At least I picked up my phone."

"Stop the car!" she screamed and jumped out as soon as he did. She was raging, spitting with fury. Fuck! Good job, Stephen, bashing a woman whose kid is missing. He called after her. He begged her to get back in the car. He even apologized, damn it. "I'm sorry. Please, get in the car." What a loser he was. This woman turned him into a real softie. Yet he was utterly relieved when she gave in to his pleading. Yo. All good. No harm done. Except that little man was still missing. They sat in awkward silence. He offered her a cigarette and this time she let him light it for her. Insane that such a small success could make him feel this happy. He snorted, slightly amused in spite of everything. "Where to, boss?" he said, and meant it.

The sun went down. They parked at a playground where she told him Jack and she had once danced when the boy was little. She even tried remembering the song and sang it out loud. Jack was happy then and she didn't know when that changed. She sounded cheerful but also broken. He just listened to her spilling her most intimate memories. There was nothing else he could say or do.

The hours stretched out. He was feeling beyond exhausted. He was feeling lost himself. Eventually the radio crackled alive with terrible news. The police had found the unidentified body of a boy who fitted Jack's description under a bridge.

"It's not him," he said, praying that it was true. She wanted to drive there anyway to be sure. He drove her there, yeah, but didn't let her take a look at the covered up body. She was fighting his grasp, screaming Jack's name. He held on to her until the radio confirmed that this was another unfortunate boy lying dead on the ground. She stopped freaking out and walked behind a pillar of the bridge. He followed her, sitting next to her. He had never believed that a woman like her could cry so desperately. He felt utterly helpless. He didn't say a word, only patted her shoulder like a whisper, just a backup she could lean on if she needed to. In the end, she calmed down, stood up, and walked to the car. They drove back to the motel. And there was little man, unharmed, standing in front of the door, listing to music on his I-pod.

"Kick his ass," he said, glad that the kid was alright.

"No doubt," she said, smiling at him.

Sweet Jesus. He felt like melting because of that genuine smile for him. She walked over to Jack and hugged him. The sting of jealousy that pinched him was disturbing. He didn't need a feeling like that. His stupid crush didn't mean anything. More important was that maybe now they could become partners after all. Yeah. Keep it professional. She will go to Sonoma eventually. Maybe not today but as soon as the case was solved. So any attachment to her would be a big mistake. A terrible mistake.

He turned around and walked away. Alone. As ever.

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