Okay, so I was supposed to be doing sociological type work... as I was at work study... but the secrectary was out and I had the reception compy and Marlou is verrrry insistent... okay not at all, I just didn't want to study for Modernism (again, I know Lauren.). Thanks to Marlou for the beta and the idea though.
The tavern was dark, but thankfully smokeless and sparsely populated.
Two men sat at the bar, each leaning on their elbows looking haggard. The taller man gulped a shot of some sort of amber liquid, while the man to his right simply stared at the alcohol floating in the little glass, attempting to divine some sort of answer from it.
"Those are seven dollars a piece and I'm a civil servant. Drink up, man." Pointing to the glass, Detective Ryan Vartann took a long pull on his beer.
Nick Stokes, tired and emotionally drawn, glanced at his drinking partner. "Yeah, sorry." He tossed back the shot with not so much as a flinch and washed away the acrid aftertaste with his beer.
Vartann was flaying a napkin to bits over the rich cherry of the bar, glancing at the way his hands reflected in the shiny wood. "It really got to you." A casual observation, but one that only a friend would care to make.
Reflexively, Nick's hand went to the back of his head, scratching there as he formed a response to the man's observation. "Yeah, some things man, just..."
Vartann nodded, gestured to the demure man behind the bar and ordered up two more rounds. Nick looked at him skeptically. "Are you trying to get me drunk?"
The other man laughed a bit, but shook his head. "Wouldn't dare Nick, wouldn't dare."
Nick simply stared straight ahead and nodded, glad to have thrown him off of the subject.
"So why was today so different?"
Or not. Nick hung his head and stared into the shot that was placed in front of him. Why was today different? He'd like to know himself; he could usually reign it in but today he'd been overtly emotional. Emotional to the point of nearly abusing a suspect. Luckily Vartann had been there to hold him back. Literally.
The Texan's shoulders slumped, just a bit. Voicing his concerns to a friend was a lot more difficult than it had been showing them to a suspect. A guilty suspect, to top it all off, who walked in the end.
"I just, you know... when you're a kid, and your parents are always telling you life is unfair..."
Vartann breathed out a laugh through his nose. "Yeah. Sucks that they were right, huh?"
Nick smiled a bit and grabbed his beer but didn't drink it. He toyed with the label for a moment before downing his shot. "Well, they never fuckin' tell you why life is unfair, man. Why does this have to happen, you know? And to a damn kid."
It was then that Vartann's shoulders fell and he took his shot, pissed at the injustice of it all, pissed that he was pissed about it to begin with. "I don't know. Gotta let it roll off your shoulders." A shrug, a noncommittal shrug was his way of saying he didn't really know what to say.
Life was a son of a bitch.
Life had lead to a nine year old boy being sexually abused and killed by a nineteen year old neighbour. Life, and a damn good lawyer, had let the teenage perp get off without so much as a slap on the wrist.
Nick's blood still boiled when he thought about it and it caused him to grip the beer bottle until his knuckles went white with loss of blood. The justice system was his best friend and his largest adversary; it was a fucking drag and while he hated to admit it but he was getting tired of the constant push/pull that he seemed to be static in.
Another shrug and Vartann was gulping his beer. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, nearly slamming the empty bottle on the countertop. "But that's why we do it right? To try and stop these pricks, do the right thing..."
"It just... pisses me off, when you know they're guilty. You know it. And they get off." Nick bit his lip hard and shook his head, becoming heated again. "And then really, what is the right thing?"
Vartann didn't answer.
Nick brought his beer to his lips and gulped the rest down. "Makes me think it would have been better, just putting two bullets in his head, right then and there."
That threw the other man for a loop and the detective glanced at the CSI with a look of absolute shock. Nick and he were close, but they weren't that close apparently. He'd always known the Texan to be mild-mannered, genial, cool-headed. This, this was brash rage that was etched all over the man's face now and it almost made Vartann uneasy.
Another signal to the bartender for another round gave him something to do while he thought of what to say. "It... wears thin," he finally said, wearily. Nick nodded and pursed his lips and they sat there for a while in silence.
It had worn thin for Nick. It had worn to the point of being threadbare.
"But we do it anyway." The detective said gently under his breath, glancing quickly at his drinking buddy and then away.
They did. They forged on even after something inside of them died. They plowed past the injustice, the unfairness. The disparity. And from time to time, well, they saved people. For now, for the time being that had to be enough.
Finally, Nick nodded and took another shot. "That, that we do."
Some of the heavy-heartedness that had fallen over the duo lifted and Nick sat up and straightened his shoulders.
"So," Vartann said, more upbeat than he'd intended to sound. "Who's Sara seeing lately?"
Nick's face turned upwards and he smiled a knowing smirk. Then he grinned, his white teeth a beacon in the low light. "Nah, don't even think about it..."
Vartann laughed and put his upturned hands out in front of him. "What? I'm just saying... if she wasn't seeing anybody, since I'm not seeing anybody..."
Nick laughed again and shook his head. "She's uh, not taken, but... long story..."
Vartann held out a fifty to the man behind the bar and glanced innocently at Nick. "Hey, I've got all night, start talking."