The Interview Interruption by LulaIsAKitten

The following fanfiction was written by Blue_Robin. Here’s the link to the original source.

 

Robin twisted her hands together in her lap, biting nervously at her lip. She was glad Strike was here, although his laid-back attitude grated a little. She knew, legally, that they were at Scotland Yard voluntarily and were free to leave any time they liked. But somehow it never felt that way.

She glanced around at the grey walls of the interview room, and determinedly didn’t look at the mirror that dominated the side wall. She had been on the other side of just such a mirror, watching suspects. Anyone could be though there.

You’re not a suspect, she told herself. But she felt trapped, watched. Her breath fluttered in her chest, and for the first time in almost a year, she remembered her panic attacks and how horrible they had been. She forced herself to breathe slowly, evenly. You’re safe. You’re in a police station, for goodness’ sake. Couldn’t get much safer. And Cormoran is here.

“You all right, Robin?” Strike asked, studiously neutral.

Damn his perceptiveness. “Fine,” she said tightly. Then, knowing he’d sensed that that wasn’t entirely true, “I always feel a bit trapped in these rooms. I know we can technically leave at any point…”

“We can really leave,” Strike said. “Do you want to? Go and get some air? I’ll say I need to go for a smoke.”

Robin shook her head. She wasn’t going to give in. “I’m fine.”

Curse her stubbornness. Strike had got his hopes up for a moment of an excuse for a cigarette. He wondered how much longer they’d be kept waiting.

There was a long pause. Robin inspected her fingernails, forced her hands in her lap to relax. She was sat slightly askew from the little grey table, and Strike was in the chair that had been next to it, but which he had slid right back when he sat down, to allow him room to stretch his long legs out under the table. Robin focussed on his boots and wondered if he knew his lace was coming undone.

A distant door clanged. Robin’s pulse jumped and she tried to will it to slow down again. Strike carefully didn’t watch her, but he didn’t need to. He could feel the tension radiating from her, could hear her breathing, so steady and even that she had to be doing it deliberately, counting in her head. He knew the exercises, knew what they trained you to do to ward off panic attacks.

On impulse he reached out and laid his hand over hers in her lap, closing over one of her hands and squeezing it as he had done by Jack’s hospital bedside so many months ago. Like before, it was the briefest of squeezes, but the warmth and comfort it imparted now were immense. Robin felt tears prickle in her eyes, and for just a moment she longed to bury her face in his big coat and cling to him like a child seeking comfort.

Instead she sat a little straighter. Almost as soon as his hand had arrived, it was gone.

“It’s not our fault,” Strike said, and she could have jumped at his perception this time.

“I know it’s not,” she said, too firmly. Their mark, the one they had been tailing and had both bought drugs from, had been stabbed the night before in a drugs deal gone wrong. Robin had insisted on accompanying Strike to the morgue to identify the body, and they were now to be questioned – a precaution, Wardle assured them – to make sure they hadn’t somehow blown their cover and made the dealer appear to be working on their side to trap those higher up the chain. Robin knew with a certainty that they hadn’t. But she couldn’t shake the guilt, the feeling this was somehow her fault, that she had screwed up.

“So stop thinking it,” Strike said softly.

Robin sighed, her shoulders slumping a little. “That’s just me,” she said.

Strike made a small sound of annoyance in the back of his throat. She glanced across at him. “What?”

“Nothing,” he muttered.

“No, what?”

“I could just cheerfully thump your bloody ex-husband sometimes, that’s all,” Strike burst out. Shit. He hadn’t meant to say that. That was his helplessness in the face of her suffering talking. And probably nicotine withdrawal.

Robin blinked. “What has Matthew got to do with this?”

Strike sighed. “Nothing. Everything.”

“You’re making no sense.”

Strike ran a hand through his hair and thought longingly of the cigarettes in his pocket.

“It’s just… You doubt yourself, second-guess everything, worry that you’ve failed, all the time,” he said, frustrated. “You’re so bloody good at this job, I just wish you could see it, believe it.”

Robin stared at him, her cheeks pink. Her heart fluttering again, this time with pride. “I can. I do. Thanks to you.”

“And then as soon as something goes wrong, you doubt. You think it’s your fault. You look for ways you’ve messed up.”

Robin thought for a long moment. “You’re right,” she said slowly. “I do. I know I’m good at the job, but there’s this voice in my head—”

“Matthew’s voice.”

Another pause.

“I thought it was me. I told myself I was being self-analytical, and that’s a good thing.”

“It is, but not when you always fall short. That’s not self analysis, it’s self criticism.”

The silence stretched so long this time, Strike wondered if the conversation was over. He wished he hadn’t said anything.

Eventually Robin sighed a little sigh. “You’re right,” she said again. “I need to stop.”

He gave her a sideways glance. “You’re doing it again. Only now you’re criticising yourself for being self-critical.”

Amusement flashed in her eyes, and he grinned at her. She stuck her tongue out at him, just a little, cheeky, and the unexpectedness of it drew a laugh from him.

“I think you’ll find I’m the psychologist around here,” she said, grinning back at him. Her eyes danced, and she was so beautiful suddenly as she relaxed. He could still feel the softness of her hand in the tingle of the skin on his palm, and suddenly he remembered the smell of roses in her hair, the shape of her mouth under his. He couldn’t look away from her, her eyes holding him trapped as her grin faded and her blue-grey gaze looked right into his soul, making his heart pound loudly enough that surely she could hear it in this tiny, echoey, impersonal yet suddenly intimate room.

Robin swallowed. Strike was looking at her like— like—

The door opened and she almost jumped out of her skin. Vanessa Ekwensi entered backwards, shouldering the door, carrying three cups of tea, a file wedged under one arm. Eric Wardle followed, holding another cup of tea and a tape recorder.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Wardle said briskly, moving to one of the chairs opposite.

“It’s fine—”

“No problem—”

Strike and Robin spoke at once, and both abruptly stopped.

Wardle cast them a puzzled glance as he sat down. Vanessa set the teas on the table and slid two across. Robin’s lip curled a little as she hid her amusement. “Dishwater, grade 3” this would be categorised as on the Cormoran Strike crappy tea scale.

She murmured her thanks to Vanessa, and sat up a little straighter again, her focus turning back to the case they were here to discuss, her pulse and breathing calm.

 

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