As usual, White was right on the dot the morning of the heist. Freddy glanced at the clock the moment he heard the two light taps of a car horn, and noted the minute hand of his bedside clock was squarely in the middle of the 12. Punctuality is a sign of trustworthiness, his mother had always told him.
The young detective wondered what that said about himself, as he was only half dressed when he rushed down the stairs a few minute later. He jogged across the street with jacket in one hand, tie and belt in the other. The .45 provided by Joe for each of them was awkwardly crammed into his waistband.
White laughed in that throaty way of his as Freddy climbed into the car. "Jesus Christ, kid," while tugging on Freddy's unbuttoned shirt. "You never dressed yourself before or something?"
With a sidelong glance, he surveyed White's outfit. Crisp ironed shirt, silk tie, jacket cut slim and pants tailored to be accommodating of the stocky frame underneath. His gaze must have lingered long enough to be picked up on; Freddy's companion chided him with a, "Time and place for everything. You should concentrate on getting yourself dressed and not me undressed."
"Don't flatter yourself, old man." Freddy tried to laugh it off, feeling ridiculous, like having a crush in high school all over again. He pointedly turned his attention to buttoning his shirt, head lowered to hide his face in case it was turning red.
White decided he was fumbling too long with the buttons and firmly but gently pushed the kid's hands aside. Freddy was sure that his face was definitely red by now. White's deft fingers did up the buttons, then straightened and smoothed his collar in a series of controlled, smooth motions. It brought to mind Sunday mornings as a child, being dressed for church- a nostalgic, comforting feeling of being cared for.
Next, White plucked the tie from his hand and set to work on that.
"C'mon, man, I know how to ti-"
"Yeah, you probably do a shitty job of it, too," White cut off his halfhearted protest. "There," after patting the tie down into place. He surveyed his handiwork. White's ocular scan stopped at Freddy's lap, and the lump in the detective's throat felt like it just grew too big to swallow.
"Holy shit, kid, jeans? You're really wearing jeans?" Freddy cut him off with a kiss.
When he pulled back, feeling a little smug for getting the "veteran" to shut up (and a lot smug about White's dilated pupils), Freddy said, "I'm really fucking looking forward to this job bein' over so you can stop calling me 'kid.'" The moment it came out of his mouth, Freddy already couldn't understand why the fuck he said it. That was Orange talking.
White's face creased into one of his genuine smiles, the ones where even his eyes are smiling and the corners of Freddy's mouth can't help lifting in response to. "I call 'em like I see 'em." He lifted his chin in a gesture toward the offending pants. "Kid stuff."
Freddy shrugged. "Hey, I ain't made of money yet, and it's not like you can tell unless you're lookin' real close... like some sort of pervert or somethin'."
Freddy loved making White laugh. Sometimes when he really got into it he'd even pound the table, bed, or in this case, the steering wheel. "You're really rarin' to go today, huh? Too bad I don't have time to play with you. Thanks to waiting on your ass, we're gonna be late if we don't take off now." The thief settled for a chaste peck.
That slight twinge of disappointment, Freddy attributed that to Orange, too.
When they pulled into a spot in the parking lot, Mr. Pink was already there, smoking a cigarette by the front door and frowning. It seemed to be his default facial expression.
As the trio walked into the diner, Freddy noted that Pink, too, was wearing jeans, and the Orange in him nudged White's arm with his own and nodded towards Pink's outfit. White definitely noticed, but only responded with, "Shut up and sit down." Freddy felt giddy, like a kid who thought he just told a great joke, and stifled a laugh.
The entire meal was surreal. It felt like any other they'd had together, any other shared banal conversation, on any other day. Freddy had the distinct sensation of watching the scene from outside his own body even as Brown prattled on, stringing together pop culture references with profanity like knitting a scar of vulgarities. Even the tightly wound Pink was no more or less tightly wound than usual. Freddy watched out of the corner of his eye as White emptied four packets of sugar into his cream laden coffee and flicked food at Pink with his spoon. Glimpses of an impish side. The man was full of surprises. Freddy's chest tightened for a fraction of a second.
When it was time to leave, Orange and White shared a car with Brown and Joe; Pink, Blue, and Blonde rode with Eddie. In the back seat together, White put his hand on top of Freddy's, out of sight of the two in front. A comforting gesture that only served to put the undercover cop increasingly on edge. The clock was ticking, counting down to the problem to which he had no solution.
He'd caught White at it, and himself a couple times, too, even, like before breakfast. Talking as though they'd continue seeing each other after the job. Nothing unusual for White, but Freddy... more and more, Orange was interfering with his decision making process. He thought the first time would be the worst mistake he'd ever make on a job, until that mistake kept repeating itself.
Maybe it's the thrill, the idea of getting caught, he'd thought at first. Shit like this was dangerous regardless of who found out, maybe that was what made it exciting. But right now, looking over at White's calm expression behind his Wayfarers, mouth working at a toothpick, Freddy admitted that even if it started out that way, that was no longer the case. Being with him felt more like putting on a soft, worn-in leather jacket than a straight adrenaline rush.
And that terrified Freddy as much as the possibility of the lid blowing off the whole thing. He thought in circles for a solution and came to the conclusion that the best he could do was beg White to testify against Cabot and put in some good words. Other thoughts, some as crazy as ditching both jobs altogether, or throwing White into the trunk of a car and driving nonstop to Mexico, passed through his mind. Wild fantasies, like the kind he had about being a superhero as a little boy. In comic books then, it was immediately obvious who was the bad guy and who was the good guy. Nowadays in comics, much less real life, it was hard to tell.
So here he was. No plan to save the day, and feelings for the bad guy. "Don't worry kid, you'll do fine," White assured him in a low voice while giving his hand a quick squeeze, likely picking up on his tension.
Freddy swallowed hard and nodded, afraid his betrayal would show in his eyes, even behind his sunglasses.