Author's Note: The muse is a beast lately. I think it's because school is driving me batty, and this is my release.

Disclaimer: I claim the plot, not the characters or anything associated with Third Watch.

What follows will (hopefully) turn into a series of one-shots exploring the many trials and tribulations of the Bosco/Faith partnership.

There is sure to be loads of angst on both sides and lots of *hurt* Bosco - because I just love it when he's vulnerable.

This first one is set before the start of the series, in the early days of their partnership.


Chapter 1: Closest Yet

He's teasing her as they trudge up the stairs of the apartment complex. Something about how her nostrils flair when she yells.

She rolls her eyes. "I guess you would know, Bosco. I yell at you more than my own damn kids."

She stares at the back of his shoulders and smiles as they shake while he laughs.

It's only been four years on this job; they've been paired as 55-David for two, and being his partner is one of the easiest things she's ever done.

She lives for these moments with him – the playful banter – these rare moments when he takes off his mask and allows his true self to shine through. She loves the silly side of Bosco.

Not that the chauvinistic bigot with a short fuse isn't really Bosco – it is. But it's only a small part of what makes up her complex partner. She knows that most of the time it's more an act than anything; something he does out of an instinct for self-preservation. Something she suspects is a byproduct of a troubled childhood.

Two years in, and she still doesn't have him completely figured out. Being partnered with Bosco is as easy as breathing – she can't imagine being paired with anyone else.

He's impulsive, easily excitable, obnoxious, and sometimes crude – but she sees past the surface-level flaws. She knows deep down he has a heart of gold. She can read it his eyes and body language whenever there's a tough call. She can tell by the passion he has for this job – he gives 100 percent of himself every day. And she knows it because of how often he's been loyal to her, backing her up and saving her life on numerous occasions.

His constant energy and devotion is a big part of what keeps her coming to work every day – it's contagious. Being partnered with Bosco makes her feel like a good cop, a good person, and she wouldn't trade that feeling for the world.

All this she reflects on as they make their way to the fifth floor.

"Remind me why we didn't take the elevator?" She huffs, knowing what his response will be.

"What, you getting out of shape, Yokas?" He smirks over his shoulder at her.

"I'm not even going to dignify that with a comment."

"You just did," he retorts, triumphantly.

"Shut up, Bosco." Her words are sharp, but he doesn't have to look to know that she's smiling.

She stands behind him as he squares himself in front of the apartment door.

They are here to serve a warrant for arrest for a parole violation. It's a typical day; a typical call.

"This place is so small," she comments softly, looking around and realizing how narrow the hallway is.

Bosco stands in front of her, hands on his hips, his elbows almost touching the walls.

He doesn't respond to her comment, instead studying the address scribbled on his flip pad.

"This it? 203?"

"Yeah, this is it," she answers, still talking quietly.

Pulling out his nightstick, he uses it to rap the on the door.

"Police! Open up!" He shouts, voice reverberating off of the walls.

He raps again, more forcefully, and a nervous voice answers from inside.

"Alright! Alright! Just a minute!"

The door opens a crack, held by the chain, and they see half of a man's sweaty face peeking out at them.

"Are you Matthew Chamberlin?" Bosco demands.

"Y-yes, why? I didn't do nothing!" The man's voice is high pitched and shaky. He's probably high.

"Sir, we have a warrant for your arrest; you're going to have to come with us," Faith says from behind her partner.

There's a pause, and the man on the other side of the door seems to stand a little straighter.

"Sir, you're gonna have to open this door," Bosco tells him in a warning tone.

"Okay…okay, yes. Just a minute." The man disappears, and the door closes; little clicking sounds can be heard from the other side as the man unlocks the door.

Bosco shoots an impatient look at Faith before turning again to face the door.

The noises have stopped.

Bosco frowns. "Mr. Chamberlin?" He calls, unconsciously reaching for his gun as his gut begins to scream that something is wrong.

He's just about to lift a hand to push on the door when he's violently thrown back by a deafening blast.

He slams backward into Faith, who is barely able to wrap her arms around his torso before he lands on top of her, knocking the air from her lungs.

She quickly struggles to a sitting position, shifting until her back is against the wall. She drags her partner with her, clasping his limp form to her chest.

Her head turns toward the apartment, and she sees the giant hole in the wooden door made by a shotgun blast. Her heart is pounding so loud in her ears that she can't think – fear grips her.

She flinches involuntarily as the door suddenly smashes to the ground, and Chamberlin steps out into the hallway, shotgun in his hands.

Faith's mouth goes dry as he steps toward them, the gun quivering in his grip. He's sweating profusely and shaking - she recognizes the signs of withdrawal.

This is a dangerous man.

She knows she should grab her gun, protect her partner and herself, but she is paralyzed.

Her mind is frozen – thoughts won't form, she can only stare at this man who stands wavering before her with a deadly weapon. This man who may have killed her partner.

Then, a thought takes full shape – 'Oh my god…what if he killed Bosco?'

Her breath hitches, and she blinks away sudden tears.

"Please…." She pleads with the man. "P-please."

It's all she can get past trembling lips. She doesn't dare move, not wanting to frighten the man into shooting again.

Chamberlin's eyes are black with a drugged madness and a primal fear. He stares at her for a moment, then clutches the gun to his chest and runs.

Faith lets out a sob of relief. Suddenly she can think again, breathe again.

She raises a shaking hand up to her radio. She's surprised at how calm her voice sounds.

Breathless, but calm.

"55-David to Central. We have shots fired at this location. I repeat, 10-13, shots fired. There is an officer down. Send backup and EMS, forthwith."

"You 'kay?" The quiet, breathy words startle her, and she clutches more urgently at the body of her partner, still slumped against her.

It takes a moment to register that he's breathing…talking, even. She's momentarily stunned.


"You said…officer down. You 'kay?" There's a hitch in his words as he winces, squirming in her grip.

"I'm fine. I called it for you." She doesn't want to let him go. She doesn't want to see how bad he is.

"…think I got shot," Bosco mutters, wincing again. "With a damn shotgun."

"Yeah," she whispers, and there are tears in her voice this time.

"Faith…?" He sounds concerned now, and twists out of her arms to turn and get a look at her.

Halfway through the move, he gasps and slumps over in pain, his hands scrabbling at his chest.

"Bos! Here, let me see…let me see where you're hit," she says, jolted into action.

Frantic hands push him down, laying him flat, then rip open his coat to pull up the blue NYPD shirt covering the mottled kevlar.

She bites her lip when she sees the vest, peppered with bullets across his torso.

"Think the vest caught 'em all," he mutters weakly, his eyes shut with pain. "Hurts like hell though."

It's no small admission, coming from him.

Her eyes and hands continue to check him over, as they hear sirens off in the distance.

She freezes when she notices wetness on the inside of his left upper arm.

"Oh my god," she whispers, pulling a hand back covered in blood.

His eyes fly open – she's scared him. "Wha'? What is it?"

"I think one missed your vest," she tells him, immediately attempting to get his arm out of the jacket so she can assess the damage.

He levers himself up on one elbow so he can see for himself, then grimaces and pulls away from her.

"Ah, s'nothing. Just a flesh wound, looks like."

"Nothing? Nothing?" Her voice rises, and his brow furrows when he realizes he's angered her.

"Faith, I'm okay." He tells her firmly, reaching out with his good arm to snag her sleeve.

She shakes her head and turns away, knowing that backup has arrived by the loudness of the sirens. She doesn't let go of him though, still keeping a hand on his good arm.

There are footsteps on the stairs, and Sully steps into the hallway with his gun drawn, followed closely by another officer, Pete Dullen.

"You guys, okay?" Sully asks, unable to hide his concern.

"Just peachy," Bosco answers, his voice raspy from the pain. "You can put the guns away. Stupid jag-off ran."

"What the hell happened to you?" Dullen asks, chewing his gum loudly.

"Got peppered by a shotgun," Bosco replies, his breath running out every four words or so. "Right through the door."

"I can see that," Sully comments, whistling at the size of the hole in the door.

"You alright, Yokas?" Dullen turns his attention to her crouched form.

"Yeah I'm fine, Pete, thanks." She says it a little quickly, and Bosco shoots her a concerned look.

"The medics are right behind us," Sully informs them.

Sure enough, Doc and Jerry enter the crowded space and kneel next to Bosco's prone form.

"What the hell, Bosco…is this from a shotgun?" Jerry asks loudly, hands skimming the vest.

"Yeah," Bosco mutters, biting hard on his lower lip when the larger medic accidentally jars him.

"Did you lose consciousness at all?" Doc asks, ever the professional. He eases the young officer back so he is laying flat again, then shines a penlight into his eyes.

Faith watches as her partner clenches his eyes shut. She guesses the adrenaline is wearing off and he's really starting to feel it now that he's being poked and prodded.

"Yeah, I think I was out for a minute," he admits quietly, and his weary eyes open, searching for hers.

Sensing his discomfort, she scoots closer to him and discreetly takes his hand.

"You're really lucky, Bosco," Doc tells him, bandaging up the officer's left arm. "This one is just a flesh wound. Through and through."

He looks over at her and grins. "Told ya," he whispers.

She shakes her head, but smiles for his sake.

He gasps as they roll him onto the stretcher, and she is forced to let go of his hand.

Doc carefully places an oxygen mask over Bosco's mouth and nose, and he and Jerry prepare to lift him down the stairs.

The medics talk to him the whole way down, and he mutters barely-audible smartass replies right back. But by the time they are to the bottom and out the door, she notices that Bosco's eyes are tightly shut, face scrunched up in pain, hair damp with sweat.

"Are you gonna ride with him, Faith?" Doc turns to ask her. She nods.

"Yeah, thanks."

Hopping inside the ambulance, her hand quickly finds his under the blanket he's wrapped up in, and his eyes shoot open, momentarily confused and glazed over with pain.

"Hey. It's just me," she soothes.

He gives her a small smile behind the oxygen mask, and lets his eyes drift shut.

Later, at the hospital, she waits for word of his condition. She knows it's not as bad as it could have been – they were lucky, but it does nothing to ease her mind.

It's never been this close.

In two years – she's never come so close to losing him.

She snaps back to reality as Proctor walks up to her. "Faith? You ready to see him?"

"How is he?"

"The doctor will be able to tell you more, but it's not serious. He was very lucky."

"He was," Faith nods absently, still unable to shake the surrealness of it all.

She's still in a daze when she follows Proctor into the exam room.

"Dr. Redmon, this is Faith Yokas. She's Officer Boscorelli's partner."

As Proctor leaves, the doctor reaches out to shake Faith's hand.

She peeks over his shoulder at the bed, where her partner lies sleeping.

Noticing her gaze, he explains. "Oh, we've got him on some pain medication right now. He'll be sleeping on and off for the next couple hours."

"How is he?" She asks.

"Oh, let's see," the doctor looks back at the chart in his hand. "Two fractured ribs and a hell of a lot of bruising to the bone and muscle – he's gonna be sore for awhile."

"What about the one that missed his vest?"

"It was a clean shot. It only took six stitches to close."

Dr. Redmon smiles sympathetically at her nervousness.

"Really, he's fine. He just needs to take it easy for awhile. I would admit him as a precaution, but the nurses tell me he'll just sign himself out as soon as he's conscious. Should I give you his home care instructions?"

"Yeah, of course. Thank you."

"Alright, I'll be back in a little while," he says, leaving the room.

Tentatively, she walks over to the bed, watching her partner sleep.

She smiles as his hands twitch restlessly against the sheets. He's always in motion.

The smile quickly fades as images from the day flash before her eyes, and she slumps into a nearby chair, emotionally exhausted.

He's first aware of the elephant sitting on his chest. Then the sting of the bullet crease on his arm.

Everything is sore, and he feels a small bit of frustration as the pain rouses him to consciousness.

He senses movement near the bed, and ventures to open his eyes.

It's his partner, looking down at him worriedly. He doesn't like that look.

"Hey," he manages, voice cracking from a dry mouth.

"Hey yourself," she says, handing him a small plastic cup of water.

He takes a few sips before easing himself back down on the pillows.

He frowns at her, noting how unsettled she looks.

"Hell of a day, huh?" He comments.

"I'd say that's an understatement." She's sarcastic and won't make eye contact. He knows he has to nip this in the bud.

"Hey. Faith. Hey. Look at me."

He waits until he can see her eyes – worried pools of green.

"We're here. We're okay. That's all that matters."

She doesn't answer, just bites her lower lip and stares at his sheets.

"You okay?" he asks finally.

"I'm fine," she says quietly. "It was you I was worried about."

He exhales slowly and shifts a little in the bed.

"You ever find it funny, how things happen?" he asks, staring up at the ceiling, lost in thought.

She waits, knowing how superstitious he is and guessing he's about to wax philosophical on her.

"I made a rookie mistake," he says, voice distant. "You don't stand in front a door like that. I mean, they teach you at the academy to stand off to the side. 'Course, the damn hallway was so narrow that we couldn't really do it the right way."

He pauses before continuing, and she watches his jaw muscles move as he speaks.

"You were behind me," he continues. "And you're what, like an inch shorter than me?"

The question is rhetorical, she knows.

"If I hadn't been standing in front of you, that shotgun blast might've gotten you – but not in the vest."

She blanches at the thought. If she'd been in front, the blast would've hit her partially in the neck, maybe even blowing her head off.

She shivers involuntarily. Why must he do this?

He fixes her with an intense stare. "I'm glad it went down the way it did. Today was a good day."

She swallows before speaking, absently running her fingers over a dent in the bed sheets.

"I froze up," she blurts out. "Chamberlin, he was coming out of the apartment – he had that shotgun pointed right at us and…I froze."

She can't look at him as she makes her confession.

"I mean…it was like everything I was taught flew out the window. I couldn't think. It was like I was paralyzed or something. And he could've finished us off right there. I was so sure he was going to."

"Faith," his voice is quiet but commanding, and she reluctantly meets his gaze. "If you would've pulled your gun on Chamberlin, we wouldn't be here right now. The guy was nuts."

"Yeah, but…I froze. I didn't back you up," she insists.

"I think," he begins slowly. "I think there's always gonna be things we can't control. You did what you could. It was all you could do."

He closes his eyes then, worn out from the talking. "You didn't leave me lying alone in the middle of that hallway," he continues. "S'good enough for me, partner."

He stills as his mind is assaulted with a flashback.

He comes to, smelling gunpowder, hearing only the painful ringing in his ears.

He is slumped against something warm, lumpy, and trembling; it scares him to think it might be his partner's body.

Faintly, he hears her voice calling for backup and EMS, saying that an officer is down. Hearing her speak calms him, but doesn't completely allay his fears.

Despite the intense, stabbing pressure in his chest, he forces his eyes open, taking small, shallow breaths. He's determined to find out what happened, and he needs to see for himself that she's unharmed.

As awareness slowly dawns, he can feel her arms wrapped securely around him, and in a small way finds it comforting, because its his partner.

He's eased back to the present by the sound of her sigh.

"If we were gonna go out, we were gonna go out together," she says slowly, seriously. "You know?"

He nods once, firmly, eyes still closed.

"That's the way good partners do it."

Then he opens his eyes again and waggles his eyebrows, smirking at the sexual innuendo.

Faith snorts, and lightly slaps his good arm. "Bos, you're such a pig."

The moment is lost as the bubble of tension bursts, doubt and apprehension ebbing from the room as the partners return to a semblance of normalcy.

"Yeah, but you love me anyway, right?" Her partner retorts.

She does. She really does.

A/N: Reviews are good for the soul.