Russell managed to wrap up the case early Sunday afternoon, not counting paperwork. The killer, however, had been arrested and read his rights, and he now sat in a holding cell at the station, waiting to be transferred to county tomorrow morning.
Russell sat at his desk, working his way through the paperwork in question. Final interview and interrogation notes, reports, signing off on the used warrants and forensic reports. It wasn’t the most fun part of the job by any means, but he had no real issue simply getting by. It was his job to do it, and Russell was damn good at following orders.
Russell looked down as his phone dinged with a text. Upon seeing Theodore’s name on his screen, he set his pen down and grabbed his phone instead.
Theodore: Are you at work?
Russell: Yeah, wrapping up paperwork. Why? Everything okay?
Theodore: Yeah, I think so
Theodore: Sorry, yes. It’s fine.
Russell frowned and selected the call option instead. He pressed his phone to his ear, waiting. After three rings, Theodore answered, though he didn’t offer a verbal response. “Theo?”
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“Great. What’s going on?” Russell asked.
Theodore cleared his throat. “It’s not a big deal, Russell. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to be sorry for anything. What’s up?”
He sighed. “Umm… it’s nothing, but a car like yours is driving around on my street. They’ve gone past the house four times already. I thought it might be you, but if you’re doing paperwork, it better not be you.”
“It’s not. But if it looks like mine, it should be a detective patrolling the block.”
“Isn’t that… a cop’s job? In a cruiser?”
“Depends on what they’re looking for,” Russell said. “There was an attempted break-in on that block not too long ago. It should be the detective working that case.”
“Really?” Theodore asked.
“Really, really. You’re safe, I promise,” Russell said softly. “And Theo?”
“If you ever think something’s wrong, you can contact me. A text or a call… I don’t mind either way. If I’m by my phone, I’ll answer it. Okay?”
Theodore stayed silent for a moment. “Are you sure?”
“Okay.” Theodore cleared his throat. “Russell?”
“I have a hard time buying the… nice guy act.”
“For me, it isn’t an act, but I understand what you’re getting at,” Russell said.
“Yeah. I have a hard time believing it isn’t an act. So… I’m putting a lot of trust into you right now, but if it gets broken… I can’t talk to you anymore. This soon after everything with Shane, I can’t afford any second chances.”
“I know. And if I break your trust, feel free to just get rid of me, okay? I know you can’t believe me on this, and I understand that, but I won’t hold any grudges. None of your fears or inabilities are your fault. They were forced onto you. You with me?” Russell asked.
“I think so.”
“Good,” Russell whispered. “Very good.”
Theodore cleared his throat. “Thank you. For, uh… everything. Again.”
“I’ll let you get back to work. Good luck with paperwork. Talk to you… later?” Theodore asked.
“Yeah, thanks. Talk soon, Theo.” Russell waited a moment before a little smile came to his face. “You’re still on the line. Would you like me to hang up first?”
“Okay. Enjoy your day off, Theo.”
“I… was gonna say ‘you, too’, but I guess I’ll have to settle with, ‘I’ll do my best’. Talk to you later.”
“Yeah, talk to you later, Theo,” Russell confirmed. He pulled his phone back and ended the call, setting the device back down on his desk. Theodore seemed to be doing his best to answer questions without hesitation or a breakdown of those questions. Despite the man’s fear that Russell considered everything he did or said a burden or waste of time in some sense, ‘doing his best’ was a plus.
The next morning, with his own paperwork wrapped up, Russell went back to helping Emelia and Andrew go through the paperwork for their cold case. Police interviews, interrogations, missing persons reports, suspicion persons reports, APBs, BOLOs, photographs of the crime scene, printed off screen grabs from surveillance photos.
To say the least, there was a lot to go through.
“Coffee,” Andrew mumbled, pushing himself to his feet. “Anyone want a refill?”
“I’m good,” Russell said.
Emelia held out her mug. “Thanks, babe.”
Andrew smiled. “No problem.”
Once he walked away from the desks, Emelia glanced up at Russell before going back to the file. “So, you’ve been quiet this morning.”
“Do you want me to be super loud? That can be arranged,” Russell said.
She laughed softly, shaking her head. “No, I’m just not used to it. ‘I’m good’ is the most you’ve said in at least the last hour.”
“I’m just thinking, I guess.”
“Thinking about anything you’d like to talk about? Or is it all something that has to stay in your head?” she asked.
“I’m, umm, not sure, actually. I guess I’d like to talk, but at the same time, I don’t know how much I’m willing to talk about.”
“Okay, I get that. Well, I’m always here for you. You have to know that.”
“I do. More or less.” He cleared his throat. “Can I ask you something? And you have to answer it without being, like, super judgmental.”
“I think staying level-headed is generally regarded as one of my good qualities,” Emilia said. “Ask away.”
Russell nodded, though she wasn’t looking at him. “If the guy I… currently like is still recovering from an abusive relationship, should I put the brakes on and tell him it’s too soon? Or is it okay to let him figure it out?”
“Tell him that it’s too soon for him, or that it makes you uncomfortable to go on dates with him so soon?”
“I think it’s too soon for him,” Russell said.
Emilia nodded. “Have you already asked him if he thinks it’s too soon?”
“And what did he say?”
“That he can’t let his ex continue to ruin his life from behind bars.”
Emilia nodded. “Do you want my suggestion?”
“Unless it makes you uncomfortable or anything like that, go for it. Date him. If it’s too soon for him, he’ll know. He’s the only one that can know.”
“But… what if he doesn’t know?” Russell asked. “As far as I can tell, this ex of his is one of the only–if not the only–person he’s ever been in a relationship with. How will he know if he’s ready?”
“I wish I had an answer to that one, Russ, but I… don’t. Andy’s the only person I’ve been with, too,” she said. “I think if it’s too soon for him, one way or another, you’ll both know. But right now? If he wants to move on, he’s either going to try moving on with you or with someone else. I guess–if I were you–I’d weigh which option you prefer.”
Russell nodded. “Thank you.”
“No problem, Russ. I hope everything works out for you. You deserve it.” He smiled. “Me, too. Thanks.” He wasn’t so sure that he deserved anything to work out for him, but the idea that it was possible was a damn nice one, if nothing else. That had to count for something.
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