Five and a Quarter

Bosco opened his eyes. He had the feeling that he'd slept late, and hadn't meant to. When he felt the weight on his chest, he remembered exactly why he'd only meant to sleep for an hour, at most. Nap, then wake up and give his bedmate the chance to get dressed and go home -- and avoid this.

This waking up naked in bed, together.

Apparently Doherty hadn't woken, either, or had woken and opted to stay. Bosco wasn't sure he wanted to know which -- the idea of sleeping with Doherty was even weirder than the idea of having sex with him.

He opened one eye and looked. Doherty was still sound asleep. He knew that would change as soon as he moved, but he couldn't very well stay here and hide from him. He wished for the best, and sat up, moving Jimmy's arm carefully off his chest. Jimmy's eyes came open immediately, and he blinked in obvious confusion. Then he grinned. "Morning."

"Morning." Bosco got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. When he came out, Jimmy was standing right outside the door. He faltered for a moment, then Jimmy simply moved past him.

Bosco decided he was being unnecessarily paranoid. 'Casual sex', Jimmy had said last night. Apparently it didn't bother him at all, to have slept with someone he normally found... well, whatever he normally found Bosco. He usually found Doherty to be irritating.

He was amazing in bed, though.

Maybe they'd get through this with nothing worse than eggs and toast for breakfast. Bosco reminded himself to visit the store, as he headed for the kitchen to make coffee.

Maybe everything would be just fine.

~~~~~

Two months later, Bosco was sitting in the squad, staring out at the street. Yokas was driving, for which he was grateful. He wasn't sure he was up to keeping an eye on the customers, much less the traffic. He hid a yawn behind his fist, and wondered if he needed another cup of coffee.

"You want another cup of coffee?"

Bosco glanced over at Yokas, grinning. "Probably."

She gave him a stern look. "You need to start sleeping at night."

"I slept! Well, most of the night." He didn't hide his grin. He and Jimmy hadn't fallen asleep until nearly 3 am. No big deal, except Jimmy's alarm had gone off at seven. He'd forgotten he'd set it, or so he'd sworn as he'd tried to placate an exhausted and irritated lover. That placating had kept them awake for another hour.

They'd started that first weekend together with every intention of keeping it casual, no big deal, and certainly nothing worth worrying about. That lasted until the following week, when Jimmy showed up at Bosco's door with a pizza and a video tape of that evening's game from ESPN. They'd made the mistake of enjoying each other's company out of bed, which lead to an almost serious amount of time spent together.

One might have called it dating, if one weren't so firmly in the closet.

Bosco would have even ventured to say he was happy -- if it weren't for one thing. It was the one thing that was distracting him, not the lack of sleep.

Yokas had pulled over, and parked near a cafe. "Thanks. You want anything?"

"Nah, I'm fine."

He gave her a nod, and headed in to get his coffee. He wished he knew what to do -- failing that, how to find out what to do. When he returned to the squad, Yokas didn't pull back into traffic. After a moment he realised she was just sitting there. He looked over.

"What?"

"Are you all right?"

"What? Of course I'm all right." It worried him that she would ask, though.

She gave him a doubtful look, but didn't press. Bosco went back to drinking his coffee and hoping it would wake him up. He had no idea what he would say if she pressed. She knew when he was lying to her, though she had yet to figure out how to force him to talk. But just her knowing something was wrong would make her start to pay closer attention, looking for clues. Fortunately any investigating Yokas might have done then was interrupted by a call.

An hour later they'd met up with the paramedics on a call which had turned out to be mostly a false alarm. Bobby was wrapping up the last of the first aid and Yokas was filling out the man's report which he insisted on making, though no one but he thought the city should be held responsible for his own clumsiness.

Bosco was watching, grateful for a change for the distraction of tending to the petty needs of civilians. He glanced over at Kim, who was putting the equipment back into their bus. He walked over, wondering if he were really going to broach the topic he seemed intent to.

She looked up and grinned. "Hey, Bosco. What's up?"

He realised the enormity of what he needed to ask, and hoped that if it turned badly, she would forgive his bringing it up. "Can I ask you something... off the record?"

"Sure." She frowned slightly, curious.

"It's..." He sighed. There was no way to warn her, without telling her. "I just need to verify something. You don't have to answer, but I'd appreciate it if..."

This wasn't working. He couldn't just come out and say it.

"Am I in some kinda trouble?"

"No." He shook his head. "No, it's just..." He glanced over at Bobby and Yokas, still occupied and not paying them any attention.

"Just what?"

This was going to sound bad and it was going to sound wrong as soon as he said it, but he had to ask. "Did Jimmy ever hit you? When you were fighting or anything?"

Her look of surprise and outrage told him the answer before she said it. "No! Of course not. What are you asking me this for?"

He shrugged, and tried to look calm, as if he'd heard what he wanted to hear. "I didn't think so, but I had to check. It didn't sound like him at all," he continued, an explanation finally occurring to him. Pretend it was someone else making the accusation.

"Had to check? Why, did someone accuse him of beating me?" She had gone back to sounding amused and unworried. That probably confirmed she was telling the truth.

"No, not you. Um, someone made a sort of unofficial report; probably just a pissed off ex, but I had to check into it, you know?"

Kim was nodding. "Yeah, well, he never even tried to hit me. We fought, sure, but we only yelled. I don't think he even threw anything at the walls." Bosco nodded. She asked, "Is she filing charges? Who is it?"

"No, I don't think so. It doesn't matter." He saw Bobby heading over, and stepped back. "Thanks, Kim."

"Sure."

Bosco headed back towards the squad, Yokas joining him a moment later. She didn't talk to him, probably used to the scowl that marked his face when he needed to be left alone.

He was probably overreacting. It wasn't like he wasn't hitting back, and it didn't seem to be that Jimmy had any kind of history of violence. That left him still with no idea what was going on, or how to stop it.

It had started four, maybe five weeks ago. They'd been arguing about something -- he didn't remember what. Jimmy had shoved him, and Bosco had shoved back. They'd traded a few more blows before the fight died down. Nothing had been said about it, and it hadn't really bothered him. The next time they started arguing, the pattern repeated. Still, Bosco hadn't thought twice about it.

Two weeks ago, he'd started thinking about it.

Every time they fought, they came to blows. Nothing serious, but the violence disturbed him. He'd tried telling Jimmy to cut it out, but Jimmy ignored him, at least long enough to throw another punch. Bosco had tried talking to him once, when the fight was over and Jimmy had shrugged and said 'fine'. The promise had lasted until the next argument.

What really bothered him, though, was that every time it was Jimmy who threw the first punch.

Bosco couldn't figure out if this was normal for Jimmy to express his anger physically, or if something else were going on. But if Kim were telling the truth, it wasn't like him at all. At least, it hadn't been, when she and Jimmy were together.

Bosco rubbed a hand over his eyes. He still had no idea what to do.

The next day nothing had been solved. He and Jimmy had spent the night together again, with no arguing and hence no fighting. Bosco had tried to bring up the subject again, but couldn't quite make himself say 'stop hitting me'. It sounded so stupid, sounded like he was unable to defend himself. He knew, if it came down it a real fight, he could take Jimmy easily. That wasn't the issue. The issue was that he didn't want to hurt Jimmy.

And he didn't understand why Jimmy didn't seem to feel the same.

They had managed to spend some pleasant time together, as well as get a decent amount of sleep so that today Bosco wasn't feeling in desperate need of coffee. He rubbed at his cheek, trying to give himself a day off from worrying about it.

"Bos?"

He looked over, curious at the atypical note of hesitation in his partner's voice. "Yeah?"

She was definitely nervous, but she finally said, "I talked to Kim today. She said you were asking about Jimmy--?"

Bosco looked away. "Yeah."

"Who was it that talked to you?"

He didn't think he could bluff his way past Yokas, but he was damned sure going to try. "Look, it doesn't matter. It's probably not true."

"Are you going to file a report?"

Bosco shook his head. He continued staring out at the pedestrians, seeing everything by reflex. Nothing threatening, but he'd be able to describe any of them later, if prompted.

"Are you going to tell Doherty?"

Again, he shook his head.

"Bos?"

There was a pause. When she didn't continue, he asked, "What?"

"Bos, what's going on?"

He glanced over. "What makes you think something's going on? I received a report, I checked into it, it didn't pan out. No charges are being filed, so what--"

"That isn't what I meant." Yokas shook her head. "What's going on with you lately? Half the time you act like you've got a new girlfriend, the other half the time you act like... like you're acting now."

"Nothing's going on," he insisted, unable to make it sound as though he truly meant it.

"There is something going on, Bosco. For the last two months there has been something going on. And if you ask me, it's getting worse."

"Worse?" He looked over at her.

"Two months ago you were practically bouncing off the walls. Now it's like..." She shook her head. "You haven't acted happy about anything in weeks."

He shrugged. "Relationship problems." Maybe if he threw her a bone, she'd go away happy.

"Not working out, huh?"

"Looks that way." Maybe that was the only solution. Break up, and get out of the situation.

Funny, but he found he really didn't want to. He wanted to fix it, and stay together. He closed his eyes, briefly. How things had ever reached this point... Three months ago he'd have laughed at anyone saying he'd even admit to liking Doherty. He felt a brush on his cheek, and he looked over. Yokas was watching him with an unreadable expression on her face.

Then he remembered the three-day-old bruise on his cheek. Right where she'd touched him.

"Do you wanna tell me what's going on?" she asked again, and it was as if she knew.

Bosco swallowed, but shook his head.

"Where did you get that?" she nodded towards the bruise. He had told her originally he'd banged himself with a cabinet door.

"Yokas--"

"Is he hitting you?"

Bosco turned away. "You aren't even supposed to know we're together," he said bitterly. He wasn't sure which piece of information made him want to crawl under the seats.

"Bos--" The tone in her voice made him turn back around.

"He isn't hitting me. Not they way you're thinking." He quickly explained how it happened, how it was just arguing and fighting that got out of control. When he'd finished, Yokas just looked at him like she didn't quite believe him.

Finally, she said, "But he hasn't stopped, even though you've told him to."

Bosco shrugged. "I only talked to him about it once," he admitted. "And he stopped."

"Until the next time," Yokas added, obviously understanding what he'd said, and what he'd been trying to only imply.

"It's not like he hurts me," he said again, and heard the ugly echoes of voices he'd heard himself, from civilians who were refusing to file charges even when they sported broken bones and stitches. He let his head fall back. "God, listen to me."

He could hear the half-smirk in Yokas' voice when she asked, "You gonna talk to him again, now? Or just arrest him for assault?"

That brought his head up, fast. "I'm not going to arrest him! Are you nuts? No one's supposed to know I'm seeing him. Does the word 'closet' mean anything to you?"

"So you're gonna talk to him?" Yokas was unfazed.

"I'll talk to him," Bosco agreed. They fell silent for a while, then. Bosco glanced over at his partner a few times, but she seemed to be content that the issue was dealt with. Or, more likely, she was giving him 24 hours to deal with it. Then she'd start nagging again. "Yokas."

"Yeah?"

"Thanks."

~~~~~

At the end of the shift, Yokas grabbed his arm before he could head out. "Hey, call me. You know, if you need anything."

He nodded, smiling faintly. "I will." Sometimes, though he'd never tell her, he appreciated having her worry over him. He was expected at Jimmy's place that night, which he'd decided he preferred. If things got out of hand, he could just leave.

He still didn't know how to approach this. He'd been thinking about it off and on all day, trying to decide if he should just come out with 'let's drop the fighting' to dropping hints and seeing if Jimmy knew there was a problem. He had a new-found respect for people who didn't get themselves out of these sorts of situations. Granted, his wasn't as bad as most they encountered on the job. But he could see how easy it would be to let it slide, find excuses and pretend it wasn't really wrong. At least he wasn't so far gone that he thought he had done anything to warrant the fighting. And he gave as good as he got.

Bosco realised he was making excuses again, and cut off that train of thought. He made it to Jimmy's place just after Jimmy, catching his lover unlocking the front door. Jimmy gave him a smile, which made Bosco go a little soft at the knees. He wasn't going to be able to talk to him, if he smiled like that.

They got inside -- barely -- before Jimmy grabbed him and kissed him. Bosco kissed him back, and decided that the night was still early. There would be time to talk, later. As long as he did it before tomorrow's shift, or Yokas would have his neck. Jimmy, on the other hand, had something much more distracting. Bosco gave him a gentle push backward.

"What?" Jimmy looked more disappointed than confused by the move.

"Don't you even want to shut the door?" He indicated the still-wide-open front door. Jimmy grinned and went to lock it.

Bosco took the respite to collect himself. If he put this off too long, he'd probably lose his nerve and flub what he wanted to say. "You want dinner, or should we go back to--" and Jimmy was there, kissing him again.

It took Bosco a moment to get his hands on Jimmy where he could push him away, rather than hold him in. When he did, Jimmy just nodded. "Dinner."

Bosco didn't correct him. Instead he followed Jimmy to the kitchen, and stayed quiet about it as they began dinner. He told himself he was being chicken-shit, but he still couldn't force himself to say anything. The problem was, he realised, was that he didn't want to come off sounding like he was whining about something he couldn't stop.

He could stop it, physically at least. And Jimmy was just the type to tease him unmercifully if he thought Bosco was whining. At least, he had been for the years they'd known each other. The last two months, Jimmy hadn't been acting much like his usual self, in more ways than the one.

"What the hell?" Jimmy's sharp curse brought Bosco out of his thoughts. He looked over to find Jimmy staring into the fridge.

"What?"

"You said you were gonna replace that six-pack."

"Yeah?" He went over to glance into the fridge. He'd had the last two cans, promising to buy another. They tended to spend more of their time at Jimmy's place simply because it was closer to work and Jimmy had complained -- good-naturedly -- about providing all the beer. Bosco saw the distinct lack of beer in the fridge, and shrugged. "I'll grab a pack next time."

"You said that last time."

Bosco opened his mouth to reply, then stopped. "Are we gonna argue about this?"

The question threw Jimmy for a moment, but then he nodded. "You said--"

Bosco held up his hands. "If we're arguing, I need to say something first."

Jimmy blinked. "What?"

Bosco swallowed, then said quickly, "If this comes to blows again, I'm out of here. I'm not getting into a fight with you."

"What?" The building anger seemed to have dissolved into confusion.

"Every time we argue, we end up hitting each other. Until now -- it stops right now." He felt slightly more at ease, somehow, now that he'd made his statement. Like the words themselves had been the hardest part of stopping the violence.

"What, you mean..." Jimmy shook his head. "Whatever. Go get a six-pack and we won't even argue."

Bosco gave his lover a slight glare. "I mean it, Jimmy."

"All right! All right, come on. Let's just have dinner, OK? No more fighting."

Bosco waited a moment, weighing the option of rehashing what Jimmy had already seemed to agree to. 'Seemed to' was the problem. But if he stayed, he had a feeling they'd end up arguing about it. He nodded. "I'll be back in a few minutes."

He'd only taken one step when Jimmy reached over and stopped him with a hand on Bosco's arm. "Hey. I'm sorry, OK? Sometimes I guess I just get carried away. I didn't think anything of it, because you never seemed to... you know. It just felt like..." He shrugged again.

Mollified, Bosco replied, "I know. But if it's no big deal, then it's no big deal to stop, right?"

Jimmy nodded. "Right." He came forward, hesitantly, then gave him a kiss. He wrapped his hand in Bosco's hair when there was no resistance to the kiss, and held him close.

When they broke off, Bosco smiled. "I'll go get the beer."

~~~~~

They didn't see each other for the next two days. Bosco had spent the entire following shift reassuring his partner that yes, they had talked, and yes, they'd agreed to stop fighting. They didn't discuss it further, although Yokas did apparently seem to think his private life was now an open subject. She'd wheedled him for the wheres and howfors until he'd threatened to break up and have no love life just to get her to leave him alone. She'd responded to the threat by inviting he and Jimmy over for dinner.

When he and Jimmy saw each other again on Friday, they were at Bosco's apartment. Bosco was looking forward to a weekend off, hopefully doing not much more than hanging out, goofing off, and staying in bed. Jimmy had arrived late; the crew had been at a fire for almost two hours and they'd ended their shift a half-hour overtime. He'd come in, kissed Bosco, then headed right for the couch and laid down.

Bosco knew he was exaggerating, but brought him a beer anyhow. Days were when he felt like moaning and being waited on, when the day had been little more than annoying. "Yokas invited us to dinner sometime," he said, thinking more about his lover stretched out on the couch than the offer.

Jimmy opened his eyes and looked up at him. "Your partner?"

"Yeah. Didn't say when, just some time when we're all free. I didn't know--" He broke off as Jimmy stood up. He was frowning. "What?" Bosco asked.

"You told her? About us?"

"No, I didn't tell her. She figured it out -- she's a cop, she's good at that sort of thing."

"How long has she known?" Jimmy demanded angrily.

Bosco shrugged. "A couple days. Relax! She's fine with it."

"Fine with it? Oh, good." Jimmy began pacing, first away from Bosco, than back towards him. "After everything you said to me about not letting anyone know, and it's your partner who finds out!"

Glaring at him, Bosco stepped in his way. "It wasn't like I wanted her to find out!" He suddenly realised how it was she'd been able to figure it out, and clamped his jaw shut. He had done too much talking. "Look, it doesn't matter--"

A hand slammed into his chest. "Doesn't matter? Because she thinks it's fine? Who else are you going to tell without mentioning it to me first? Kim?"

"I didn't--!" He shut off the protest that he hadn't given her any details, that she couldn't possibly know unless Jimmy had been the one to let her know. He blocked the hand that came swinging towards him again. "Jimmy!"

"You didn't tell her!?" Jimmy paused, long enough to give Bosco a wide-eyed look of disbelief.

Then he swung a fist.


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