The Code

Jarek's seen puppy love before - hell, he's been in it - and Evers is so obviously and pathetically smitten with him that it's almost funny. If it weren't for the kid's brains and dubious talent (half-unearthed, making Jarek feel like he used to when he was ten, digging around in the school backyard and dreaming - ridiculously - of being an archeologist), he'd have kicked him to the curb already - has tried to kick him to the curb, except that Evers keeps finding his way back in again, into the cases, into their victories, into Jarek's favor, into those odd, charged silences between them in the car.

It's puppy love, stupid and incomplete, as all infatuations are - and so Jarek knows he shouldn't let it get to him, that slowly-widening smile or the vulnerable, dog-like devotion this close to turning feral at his command - he's seen it before, after all, Evers striking a perp down for him, giving cover to him, clear-eyed in a hail of bullets. It's what any partner'd do, except that most partners don't - not with Jarek, anyhow. They haven't for a long time. Not for years. Not since Colvin. He's made damn sure they didn't; he's made sure no one was stupid enough to put their lives on the line for him, for his fake Sunday Masses and his questionable conscience, but stupid is what puppy love is, and what Caleb Evers is, apparently.

Loyalty in personal relationships isn't something Jarek's familiar with. Sometimes, he thinks he's bled out all his goodness on the streets and hasn't got any left to take back home - to his fiancée, who he's cheated on so often that he's probably broken some kind of world record - or to his ex-wife, who he fucks as if she were a common whore - or to his son, who he ignores with a consummate artistry that would sicken him if it didn't keep the boy away from him and away from danger. Hell, it sickens him anyway.

He isn't familiar, see, because loyalty is something that belongs on the beat, to the street, to the people he's supposed to serve and protect and the people he fights alongside while he serves and protects. But Caleb is fucking that up, confusing him, asking of him something personal while giving to him so flawlessly - fucking irritatingly - every damn thing he could ask for on the job. Evers wants to be a good cop - a perfect cop - and Jarek understands that, remembers that, but still can't help being a jerk to Evers about it, because Jarek knows he never managed it himself, that perfection, and he'll be damned if Evers gets there first - or drags Jarek along with him.

'Don't trust me,' he wants to tell Evers, 'because I will fucking cut you deep, I will cut you where it hurts, kid, and you'll hate me for it and I'll be damn glad of it when you do, because I'll be rid of you. And you'll be rid of me, riding with a partner you can flash your baby blues at without him thinking of nailing your sweet ass the moment you're off the clock, up against the side of the fucking car until the windows steam from the outside-in and you're reduced to a sound of softness in the naked air, your breath ragged and gone, and all you are to me is motion and heat and spit-bite-shove, and I've ruined you like I've ruined everyone else I've laid my hands on, and I've made of you a lesser thing, made you betray yourself - your neat, honest fingers shoved between your own teeth to keep you the fuck quiet - and you'll look at me then - how will you look at me then? All flushed and goddamn beautiful, filled to the brim with the thought of us, you and me, perfect on the job and off, and then it'll be next week and I'll be a bastard again, sleeping with someone else and making sure you know it, and you'll collapse in front of me, inch by broken inch, your eyes bruised and rubbed-out, the adoration draining out of you like blood from a fucking head-wound, and I'll watch it happen and be happy about it, and -

'- and you won't leave me,' Jarek realizes, dizzily, 'because that's the kind of idiotic son of a bitch you are. You'll never leave me, will you? No matter how much I try. No matter how much - even if I - even then, you won't - '

Yeah. That's what he wants to tell Evers. To warn him. But Jarek doesn't say any of it, because Evers is right there, all truth and justice, and Jarek's too much of a coward for the truth. If not for justice.

"So I figured it earns me at least another week of ridin' with ya," Evers says, hopeful and boyish-looking, nervous-but-sure like a freaking teenager with a crush on his incredibly cool teacher, and it's fucking embarrassing, how obvious the kid is. And he says it all pure and diffident, like they aren't alone in a locker room where Jarek can do things to him, but in a safe place, in a my-partner-won't-hurt-me place, except that there isn't such a place - not with Jarek, anyway.

And so, Jarek says: "Another day or two," not willing to give him more, to give Evers hope, but he can see, in Evers' eyes, that a day is hope enough.


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