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The Methods Of Tessa Vance

Steve reflects on how Tessa's mind works.


That was the word Steve Hayden used to describe Tessa Vance. Strange.

He would never say that aloud. In fact, he would probably argue with someone who would use that adjective to describe her. Not because they were wrong, but because they would probably mean it in a negative way. Tessa wasn't strange in a negative way, just in a…strange way.

Since their first case, Steve was lost as to how exactly her mind worked. Just as a case was beginning to look hopeless, with too many loose ends or ends that didn't quite match up, Tessa would suddenly have a eureka! moment. She would tear out of the office and- after starting a new line of questioning, usually followed by some life and death situation she got herself into- the culprit would be in custody.

He could now see the signs when she was close to solving a case. She would go very still, eyes unfocused, seeing not her surroundings but whatever evidence she was focused on in her head, as if she were replaying the entire case in her mind. More than once he had held back on a line of questioning; Tessa was close to solving it herself.

This wasn't what made her strange. She was an admirable detective. What made her strange was that she was seemingly this analytical all the time.

Always with the placid expression, set mouth, watchful gaze. From paperwork to questioning a witness, this was Tessa's manner. Even when he found her doing her weekend activities such as rock climbing and biking, she still had that look about her. Always aware, always watching, canvasing the area.

He admired her ability to be so in the morgue. He had never been much for science, and the smells and disgusting sights of the morgue were a trial to him for as long as he'd been on the force. But Tessa always seemed unbothered, even moving closer to peer at what Imogen was doing. Steve knew she had to have been a science nerd when she was is school. It fit with his mental picture of her as a little girl, turning rocks over to peer at the bug colonies underneath.

Her manner had this air of efficiency and effortlessness to it that Steve had to admit he'd found off putting at first. Sometimes in the stress of a case, he'd even been angered by it. But not anymore. Not since the case with Tessa's high school friends, when Roxanne taunted her from the roof's ledge. ''Everything's easy for you. Things just fall into your lap!''

Steve could still see the way Tessa looked that night, staring at Poppy's picture on her whiteboard in the kitchen. ''She was wrong,'' she had told him, ''Thing's don't come easy to me.''

That sentence haunted Steve. He realized it was true, and realized it had always been true. Things were hard for Tessa Vance. She was straight to the point, logical, and obsessive. These traits were helpful in her work life, but impeded her social life. How long did it take for her to even accept the nightly invitation to the bar with her co-workers?

Maybe strange wasn't the right word. Intense, yes, that was better. Tessa was intense about the things she did. Whether it was a line of questioning, a new hobby, Tessa was intense about it.

Even her emotions were intense. The few times Steve had seen her lose her cool during a case, it had been memorable to say the least. Though in her defense, what had caused her to lose her cool were attacks on her life. She still always rubbed her neck whenever looking at a victim with a throat injury. Steve wondered if she was even aware that she did it.

Yes, Tessa was intense. And sometimes that intenseness fed her obsessions, which led to situations Malcom would've preferred not to happen. Like the case with the exploding greeting card. Tessa lied to that woman to get a confession. Had Steve pulled something like that, Thorne never would have let him forget it. He was more lenient with Tessa. It might've been because Tessa's hunches- far fetched as they might be- usually had the benefit of being right. Or maybe it was because she had had at the time a rather nasty cut on her forehead from protecting him in the blast.

Tessa's mind went at a million miles an hour. If he had to bet, Steve would say that was what led to her being tossed around departments until being partnered up with him. They meshed well together. He was content to make the rigid logical inquires and leads, while Tessa's mind made the lighting speed jumps on evidence that wouldn't stand up in court. And then together they could procure the evidence that would stand up in court.

They made a good team. Steve felt a rise of smugness rise up as he reflected on all their solved cases, complete with confessions. Cases that had seemed impossible at the start. But together they solved it. They were good together, both professionally and, well-

''What are you smirking about?'' Tessa's voice came from beside him. Steve turned and saw her squinting at him, the light from his bedside table shining in her eyes.

''Nothing,'' he replied. ''Just you.''

''Smirking about me? At-'' she turned to glance at the clock. ''-two in the morning? God, when are you going to get actually bedside tables and stop using paint cans?''

''When the place-''

'' 'When the place is done'.'' Tessa echoed after him. She laughed, laying back down. ''I don't think you'll ever finish your home improvements.''

''I might, now that I have my nights free,'' Steve said.

''What's that mean?''

''Two in the morning, and no call from my partner ordering me out of bed and into the damp night to chase down some fantastical lead.''

''My leads are never fantastical.''

''Everything sounds fantastical at two in the morning.''

''Then can we stop talking and actually sleep?''

''Sounds agreeable.''

They lapsed into silence, Steve turning and wrapping his arms around Tessa. Her back was against him, and she leaned comfortably on his arm. ''Steve?''


''Y'know, nights free, and yet, no home improvement happening.''

''Ah, tomorrow.''

She laughed.

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