Disclaimer – Life and Charlie Crews do not belong to me. Unfortunately. They belong to NBC. No copyright infringement or money making scheme intended. This is purely for reading enjoyment.
A/N just an idea for pre-season 1 that demanded to be written. Not necessarily consistent with Canon.
6 months, 24 weeks or 67 attempts or however you chose to look at it, he is finally sitting in front of her. If anyone else had stubbornly refused to see her or ignored her the way Charlie Crews has she’d have given up a long time ago.
She’d heard the guard calling Crews by his inmate number and pulled him up for it. The guard had scoffed at her and told her to mind her own business initially, but when she wasn’t for letting it go he told her it is the only thing Crews would answer to. She had felt the frown cross her face. It implied he’d all but given up on his identity and that she did not like.
They had been sitting in this room together for over an hour and he still has not said anything to her. She’d introduced herself and explained why she is there out of courtesy because even if he hadn’t read the correspondence she had sent him, she’s sure he knows her name and why she is there by now, but still he remains silent.
His face is older than in the pictures in her files and his body is rigid and tense as though he expects to be attacked any second which she supposes is with good reason. His eyes burn with a quiet anger that speak of the pain and loss. Constance did not need him to speak just now anyway. The majority of her clients are not innocent and getting them to shut up is the problem. Charlie Crews intrigues her because he is innocent of that there could be no doubt and yet he refuses her offer of help. She is willing to sit as long as necessary.
She considered at first that he had been testing her, but the more she reviewed his files the more it occurred to her that he had perhaps just given up on himself because as far as he is concerned everyone else has. It’s not really a point that can be argued. Charlie Crews has been horribly and cruelly abandoned and left to rot in his own personal hell.
“Why?” his voice is rough and ragged as though he hasn’t used it in a long while. His eyes have softened slightly and she could see the faint hint of curiosity stirring behind them.
“Why not?” Constance fires back, challenging him. He stares at her for the longest time. She feels as though he may be x-raying her. She’s sure she eventually sees the hint of a smile, but it is gone so fast she wonders if she had just imagined what it might be like to see this man smile.
“You know you are innocent and I can help you with that.”
“No one cares about that now. I’m guilty to the world. You will be wasting your time.” He tries to be matter of fact about it, but Constance does not miss the bitterness and sense of betrayal that lace his words.
Lesser experienced Attorneys would be put off by this, but not her. She knows for a fact he is innocent and she refuses to give up on him even if he has given up on himself. She’d been reading about him and reviewed his files so often she feels like she knows him already. Of course the man sitting in front of her now is likely to be much changed from the one she’d read about. The fact is that she feels a personal connection to him. It infuriates her that the people who knew him best and are supposed to love him could have forsaken him so quickly and easily. That they could have thought so little of him as to believe him capable of what they accused him of doing to his best friends, the boy that was practically his nephew and of leaving the girl that called him uncle, all alone in the world to deal with the terrible loss of everyone she loved.
Constance opens her bag and pulls out her lunch. She puts the grapes in the middle of the table. “You can help yourself. I can’t imagine the food in here is anything appealing.” He remains still, his eyes never leaving her. “I haven’t poisoned them.” He remains unmoving again as though he is sizing her up.
“Look”, Constance shifts slightly leaning closer to him across the table. “Charlie. Can I call you Charlie?”
He neither confirms nor refuses the request, but Constance is schooled in the art of patience. “If I walk out of here today without you having said another word to me it won’t matter. I’ll do what I have been doing for the past 24 weeks and come back another day because the fact you are even acknowledging my presence in the building is a victory. It is a small one to be sure, but also a start and everything has to start somewhere.”
Silence greets her little speech, but she refuses to allow it to irk her. Constance continues working on her list of issues to discuss with him when he is ready to speak. She’s not sure how long passes, but eventually an arm reaches across the table for the grapes. She doesn’t look up as she doesn’t want to make him shirk back.
“You can call me Charlie.”
She allows herself a smile